Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tribute to a wonderful woman

Gram and Dadak with Miss A and Mr Z in October 2012

My Gram passed away last night. She lived a wonderful 90 years and was married to my Grandpa (now 92) for around 70 years (think it might be 71...). She's been such an integral part of my life for the past (almost) 40 years and I am so blessed to have had her in my life for so long... as well as part of my children's lives. Not many people get to spend time with their Great-Grandparents for as long as my kids have. She had a beautiful smile, a loving heart and was always there with open arms when we needed a hug. She also had the softest skin with less wrinkles than most people half her age, a tribute to daily applications of Ponds Cold Cream :-)! Guess she must have been a believer of this old advertisment!

As I sit here in a state of overwhelming sadness, I keep thinking of all the things she taught me growing up:
- how to draw animals and landscapes 
- how to paint (we loved to watch Bob Ross paint "happy little trees" or "perky little clouds" in 30 minutes)
- how to sew (she made so many of my clothes as a child)
- how to play games (we played games like Yatzee, Uno and Rummikub when we stayed with them rather than sit in front of the TV)
- that exercise is important - she and my Grandpa always walked after dinner or in the mornings (they were the "mall walkers" in bad weather)
- that cooking is fun - she enjoyed cooking and made the BEST meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a tomato gravy that you could ever eat (mouth is watering as I think about it...too bad I don't have her cast iron skillet or I would make one as a tribute to her!)
- and finally (well not really, but I won't go on more than this), that family is important - we got together for ALL holidays, birthdays and anything else that we thought needed celebrating. I am so fortunate and blessed to have had a loving, caring family close by as I was growing up. 

Gram and Miss A in October 2012

I leave you with a photo taken in October after Gram and Miss A finished pushing each other up and down the hall with her walker. They had such a good time as you can see by their glowing smiles. May you rest in peace with our Lord and Savior, Gram, and be our guardian angel who watches over us every day of our lives. I love you and will always treasure the memories we had together.

J xx

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Better late than never...Christmas Market success!

We had fresh snow on the ground, a chill in the air and a beautiful, sunny day for our Thalwil Arts & Crafts Christmas market last Friday!  I wanted to get some sneak peaks of the things I was making posted before the market took place. Unfortunately, all the late nights of preparing for it caught up with me and I didn't manage to get anything posted to my blog... Well, I'll make up for it in this post and will show you lots of pictures of our little market and the things we sold! 
My rack of bags - I was so excited with how many I managed to get done in 4 weeks (along with all the other bits below...)!
Cards, cards and more cards!
My card kits, tag kits, button hair pins, and more!! 
Barb's table with her awesome paintings (I now have two of them :-)!!)
Erica (in glasses) selling some lovely Peruvian hats to our neighbor
Miss A even had her own table and managed to sell quite a few of her things!
Svetlana and her table of jewelry and knit products
Dennise's handmade jewelry (unfortunately didn't get her picture with it...)
As you can see, we had lots of stuff to sell and did a pretty good job of it over the course of the afternoon and evening! It was so much fun to have a wonderful group of women, all selling handmade products to our friends and families. Could this be an annual tradition?????? I sure hope so!! 

Here are a few more shots of some of my products:
Button hair pins and a few flower headbands
Pretty wrapped Lindt Chocolate bars
Create-a-card kit in decoupaged box - includes 10 cards and lots of bits to make them your own
Create-a-card kit in decoupaged box - includes 10 cards and lots of bits to make them your own
Create-a-card kit in decoupaged box - includes 10 cards and lots of bits to make them your own
Small embellished burlap gift bags, perfect for Advent presents
Miscellaneous tags
Merry Mochaccino mixes in jars
I hope to be back with you soon to show you some of my other little projects and orders that will be filled before Christmas! 

J xx

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bag lady...


The sun is finally peaking through the clouds after a rainy night and morning, and I am so thankful it is because tonight is the big "Räbelichtliumzug" in our village. This is an annual event whereby the kids carve turnips, aka Räben, put a candle inside them and carry them on a stick through the village with their school class. It is kind of like carving a jack-o-lantern except it is taboo to cut entirely through the fleshy bits of the turnip. And I have to say, these turnips must have growth hormones or something because the one we carved this year is about the size of a small soccer ball! Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to parading around the village in the rain, so am VERY happy to see the sun shining this afternoon! Below is an image from Google for other Räbelichtli since I haven't taken a picture yet of Miss A with her monster...

BUT, this post is not really about Räbelichtli!! I wanted to share a few of my recent bags that I was busy making on the weekend. I think I made 7-8 bags this weekend, along with a few key chains using some of my new key chain fobs that I got on our recent trip to the US. I do miss all the "stuff" from the US that is just so unbelievably expensive in Switzerland...

I found this cute box pouch on Pinterest (used this tutorial)

I love this gathered clutch also found on Pinterest (from this tutorial)

The flower print bag shown above is one I designed on the weekend and in spite of the work involved, I just LOVE IT!!  It uses the same concept of gathering the bottom but then I added a top piece to sew a little outside zipper pocket into (for keys, phone, etc) and it has 4 small pockets inside for credit cards, etc. It is also a bit larger than the other clutches to allow for a few more essentials that all women need to carry with them (and yes, we NEED our lotions and potions, dear men in our lives!). I'm thinking the next one I make like this will have a thin strap that one can hang on/across the shoulder. One of these days, I will get my act together and put together a tutorial for it...

Hope you are all having a good week so far! I'll be back soon with more sneak peaks at some of the things I'm making for our market!

J xx

Friday, November 2, 2012

Christmas is coming!!!!!!

Wow, time has sure flown by and I've been pretty pathetic about posting anything... Guess that's what happens when you go on vacation for a couple weeks, have a hobbling hubby who has two partially torn ligaments in his ankle and have two adorable (yet demanding) kiddos; oh and a house that needs cleaning every once in awhile!

So, this will be a short post to let you know I am back in action and BUSY preparing lots of goodies for our Arts & Crafts Christmas Market that we plan to have at my house at the end of November. My lovely neighbor and I did this a couple of years ago after determining that the somewhat larger Christmas markets were not as much fun (more foot traffic, but less purchases for the time invested). We are so excited to have five vendors this year, including ourselves, all selling handmade products from jewelry to paintings to handbags to scarves...and lots of other bits and bobs, too! I've been cranking away this week making cards and tags and will try to post some in the coming days. I seriously wish I could clone myself for the next 4 weeks!

Hope you are well and gearing up for the holiday season!
J xx

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fun with wax cloth - tote and zipper pouch

It has been a fun morning in the sewing room for me! I completed a tote bag with a recessed zipper top (first one ever made...!) and a small zipper pouch, both made from red & white polka dot wax cloth. I love that stuff but it can be a bit challenging to sew if one doesn't have the right footer on the sewing machine. I learned the hard way last year...fabric didn't move through the footer and ended up looking TERRIBLE! Now I have a good teflon-coated footer and all is well!

I love how they both turned out! I found a cute metal dragonfly in my stash of stuff  and put it on the outer pocket of the tote and stitched some little loops to look like it was flying. This pocket also has a magnetic close to help keep those little bits and bobs inside the pocket. I found this tutorial from the blog My Spare Time to show how to sew a recessed zipper. To be honest, I am glad the first one is done as I've been too scared to try it on any other bags. I'm happy to say it was much easier than I expected :-)!

Here are a few more close up photos:
Recessed zipper tote - size approx 16 in h x 15.5 in w

Inside of zipper tote bag

Zipper pouch with handle - size approx. 9in w x 5.5 in h
I have more projects in process and will post more soon!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

DIY Tag tree: 40 Reasons why you are...SPECIAL!

One of my dearest friends in Zurich celebrated the BIG 4-0 last week and because she is such a wonderful, caring person who would do ANYTHING for ANYONE at ANYTIME, we wanted to do something extra special for her to let her know how much she means to us.

Being the crafty one of our little group of gals, I thought it would be fun to make 40 tags stating all the reasons why she is so special to us (of course, we could have come up with more but thought we should restrict it to 40 for 40!). Over a coffee and chat, we had fun stamping, punching, stitching and gluing tags with what all we came up with. Then we rummaged through my house for the perfect vase (that just so happened to have perfectly matching sprays of fake flowers), added some curly hazelnut branches from lovely Nicole's yard, tied all the tags to the branches, added a bit of burlap-type fabric around the vase with some coordinating ribbons and VOILÀ, here's the result:

Yvette was so happy with it and she told me today (almost a week after receiving it) that she still hasn't been able to read all the tags because she gets too emotional! 

I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends here in Zurich since our families live more than 4500 miles away. Thank you to all my lovely ladies for your kindness, help in times of need, and also all those enjoyable coffee mornings that we couldn't live without!!!!  May God bless you all!

J xx

Friday, August 31, 2012

Handmade gifts featured on "The 36th Avenue"

As the rain and cooler temps return to Zurich, after what turned out to be a beautiful, warm and sunny summer, I am starting to think of the holidays... I know you must be saying to yourself that it is only the beginning of September (well, almost!) and there's 4 months until Christmas! Well, I have set myself a goal to make homemade gifts this year (yikes!), as well as holding a little Christmas market at my house in early December similar to what we did a couple years ago (see previous market post here).

When trolling through Pinterest (something I do on a daily basis...often multiple times a day... yes, call me an addict!), I came across the following photo and link to The 36th Avenue blog. Oh boy, does it have some amazing DIY ideas from handmade gifts to DIY furniture makeovers. I do believe that I will be following this blog on a regular basis!

If you are up for a bit of DIY Christmas presents or think you would like to do something special for your home, I highly recommend checking this blog out. I've put the links for the handmade gifts, parts 1 and 2, below for your convenience.
Link to: 25 Handmade Gifts part 1
Link to: 25 Handmade Gifts part 2

Let's all get creative this year and make something special for our loved ones!

J xx

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Discover - Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap

I'm finished! Here's my postcard that will be sent tomorrow to another swap participant in South Carolina! I had to incorporate a few Swiss mountains into it :-)! If you are interested in seeing other swap cards for inspiration, you can check them out on the Great Big Stitched Postcard Flickr page.

Have a great day!
J xx

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Recipe: Quinoa & Vegetable Stuffed Zucchini

I love summer - sunshine, swimming in the lake, playing with the kids and loads of fresh fruits and veggies at their prime! We are blessed to have a wonderful neighbor who has helped us plant some veggies in the garden, including kale, tomatoes, fennel and various types of lettuce. It tastes so much better knowing that it has been grown with tender, loving care (and no pesticides!).  Yesterday, she gave us a huge zucchini to welcome us back from our vacation. As I say, WONDERFUL neighbor!! I stuffed it tonight with a mix of kale (also from the garden!), fresh Roma tomatoes from our trip to Tuscany, quinoa (a staple in our house) and a few other fresh ingredients. I thought I would share the recipe with you, so you, too, could enjoy the fresh bounties from the summer produce! I use a similar stuffing to make red and yellow stuffed peppers and generally just throw in whatever I have in my fridge. It is quite a versatile recipe, so feel free to get creative with whatever ingredients you have in stock!

Quinoa & veggie stuffed zucchini with fresh basil

Quinoa & Vegetable Stuffed Zucchini 
Serves 3-4 people

1 or 2 large zucchinis
2 Tbsp oil and 2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 large kale leaves, finely chopped (including the white stems); you could also use spinach
3-4 Roma or similar tomatoes (we had fresh ones from Tuscanny - yummmy!)
1/2 to 1 cup cooked quinoa (depends on your taste and the size of the zucchini)
Herbed cream cheese - I used about half of a round of "Boursin" with garlic and herbs
1-2 Tbsp fresh basil, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Wash your zucchini(s) and then cut in half. Scoop or cut out the inside of the zucchini halves, leaving about half an inch of the flesh with the skin. Finely chop the flesh that you scooped out as this will go into the filling.
Scoop inside of zucchini, leaving 1 /4-1/2 inch of flesh 

To prepare filling:
Heat your oil and butter in a medium to large pan (again depends on amount you are making). Sauté onion and garlic and sauté approximately 5-7 minutes or until they start to soften. Add chopped zucchini and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add kale, tomatoes and quinoa and continue cooking for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally, add herbed cream cheese, basil, sea salt and pepper (to taste) and stir until melted through (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat.
Zucchini with stuffing before going into the oven

Stuff zucchini halves with filling and cover with foil. Bake covered at 400 F (200 C) for about 25 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes or until done. I like to turn on the convection (air/fan function) for the last 8-10 minutes to crisp up the top.

Serve with fresh basil on top and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. ENJOY!

Enjoy the rest of your summer! It is hard to believe that we only have 2 weeks left until school starts again...
J xx

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap

I'm IN!!!! This swap is through the Do What You Love blog that I follow. I've never done anything like this before but thought it would be something fun for the summer. I mean, really, what could be more fun than combining my love of paper, fabric and stitching to create a "Discover" themed postcard to swap with someone else in this great world of ours??? YEAH!!!

If you are also interested in doing something creative this summer, you can register via this link.

Hope you are having fun so far this summer! My kiddies had their last day of school today, so let the fun begin!!!

J xx

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Birds and butterflies

Hello!!!!  I hope you are enjoying the summer so far! Our kiddies still have two weeks of school left so we haven't "officially" started summer yet here in Zurich, but we have been enjoying the sunshine and warm temps that finally arrived after my last post! We celebrated Miss A's birthday earlier this month and will celebrate Mr Z's birthday tomorrow. He hits double digits this year and this fact really makes me feel old, as well as feel like time is shooting past me at warp speed... Has anyone out there figured out how to slow it down yet???? Please pass this wisdom on to me if you have!

I don't know about you, but I am in love with most things with birds (bird houses, bird cages, etc...) and/or butterflies on them. I simply can't get enough, especially the bird theme. I went into Zurich yesterday to check out some of the half year sales (yes, they generally only have sales twice a year unlike twice a week in the US!) and, of course, found two things NOT ON SALE but that I had to get - a bird pillow for my bed and a pillow case with little bird houses all over it (for what, I am not yet sure but thinking it would make an adorable little bag of some sort!). So, going along with the birds and butterflies theme, I want to share a couple things I have been stamping and sewing over the past couple of weeks. 
Birdie tote and my new pillow :-) - the flower is a pin so it can be removed to put on something else or in your hair

Butterfly appliqué tote - again the flower can be removed

And here's a litte note card set that I made for Mr Z's teacher who is leaving at the end of this year (we will miss her!!!). I wrapped the cards in some sheer fabric and just love the softness that it gives to the set. 

Stamped notecards and coordinating envelopes

Have a great rest of the week! 

J xx

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I love PAPER!

Hello again! 

I hope this post finds you happy and creative! The weather here in Zurich has been rather dreadful for the past couple of weeks with cooler than normal temps and LOTS OF RAIN! I like the rain, don't get me wrong, but when it rains off and on every day for almost 2 weeks I get a bit cranky... However, the rain has meant more time indoors and more time stamping and doing workshops! I was excited to host two "stamp camps" at the beginning of June where a group of friends and "friends-of-friends" made 4 different cards and a variety of tags. It is so much fun to teach women who have never stamped before how easy it is to make a beautiful card with ink, stamp, sponge (to age the edges, of course!) and paper. Below is a shot of the somewhat chaotic, yet creative table we had at the first workshop! 

While in the US for our spring break, I bought some new designer papers that I absolutely adore. They have such amazing patterns and colors and I honestly can't get enough of them. Check out a few of the cards and tags I made with them below!

This is the cover of a card set pack that includes 4 coordinating cards and 4 tags

I'm hooked on making these flower cards....who knew what could be done with a heart punch???!!

I absolutely love these red prints! I wish I had fabric in the same...
Well, I'm off to work on some teacher presents now! In spite of having a pile of other things on my plate right now, I've decided to make all of the kids' teachers "handmade" gifts that they can actually use. Check back next week (hopefully!!) to see what I'm up to!

Ohhhh - I see sun shining on the other side of the lake and a bit of blue sky- yippppeeee! I think that means the rain is finally over! What a way to sign off for the day!

J xx

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Office Redo

Sorry I have been out of commission for the past month or so! We had a wonderful trip to see our family in America and the hubby and I even had a bit of a second honeymoon in Santa Barbara, CA while the kiddos stayed with Grandma and Papa (such a BEAUTIFUL place - I miss walking on the beach every morning). That combined with planting our garden and flowers, holding two stamp classes and preparing for Miss A's birthday that is coming up this week, I've been too busy to blog.

HOWEVER, today I managed to finally take some pictures of our home "office" redo (a.k.a. our computer room, craft room, ironing room, chill out room, etc....). We had an old sofa-bed couch that took up a whole wall and we used it mainly for holding junk rather than hanging out on it. So, off it went (with a bit of effort to get it out of the door...) and voilà, I now have a corner desk, a new cabinet that was once in Miss A's room (she also had a room redo with a new wardrobe!), and loads of space to set up tables for stamp classes or for sewing. Needless to say, I LOVE IT and it is so inspiring to work in. It's my little oasis.

Hope you are having a good start to the week! I will be back again soon with some cards and little projects I have been working on.

J xx