Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Long before there was Scrapbooking...

In 1966, my mother inherited a self-written recipe collection. She carried it on as an album which is more than a fund of cooking recipes and instructions. My mother used it for snippets from the magazines she read, from newspapapers, she added photos and a laurel leaf, jokes and remarks, proverbs and criticism. I photographed a few pages and added translations of her remarks in white letters on darker background. The turquoise lines show the inscriptions by my grandaunt who started this document, and pink is a note from my niece. So, this is a book that has been passed down through 4 generations. My mother's remarks often lack any respect, and the connection of the contents on one page sometimes is a mystery, even to me. Ripped out of a note book, there is a recipe written by my Grandma, another participant of this collection. My mother added a German Borschtsch-recipe and made remarks like "Tabasco -- never ever!" Her badly-hidden contempt for the German "Reich", as she called Germany even after the war, is shining through. -- Why she collected a pic of the former German environment minister, is hard to understand. I guess she just thought he's attractive. My niece hasn't asked the book back until now; I think she will have it when I'm gone to cook in the heavenly kitchen. I'm too bad a cook for hell's kitchen, I need angels to help me. Maybe my Mom will.

P.S. My answer to Rayna's comment: No, I'm not a good cook and not inventive on this field either. And if I look at the baking recipes, I get diabetes from reading. My mother had it, and I decided never to get it, so I don't use the 3 white poisons anyway (white sugar, white salt, white flour).
My mother gave this book to my niece, knowing well it is more use for her; but I cherish it as a document of her intelligence and originality:
"A raven gives as much meat stock as 2 pounds of beef, but it has to be skinned like a rabbit" (Alexandre Dumas)

I may even be able to read recipes in German chancery script on stained paper (certainly from the founder of the collection) explaining the preparation of sugar nuts; but he presence of Al Capone near the buckwheat pie is another mystery of this book.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunshine and Rain

We had a very dry April, which is good for the blossoms, but a very cold time, too, which is bad for the insects. So the blossoms remained widely unvisited.

Left: Cherrytree in the country between Hamburg and Stade

If May will be more on the wet side, we have a hopeful outlook on harvest and fruits.

"When the May is cool and wet, peasants will get rich, you bet." (Ist der Mai kuehl und nass, fuellt dem Bauern Scheun' und Fass.)

"Ash trees green before the oak: You won't need your weather cloak.
But if oaks are first in green, rains will wash the country clean."
(Gruent die Esche vor der Eiche, gibt's die grosse Bleiche. Gruent die Eiche vor der Esche, gibt's die grosse Waesche)

This is a rough translation for 2 German weather proverbs. In this year, the Ash was first to open buds. --

Bats are flying in couples! When we were sitting on the balcony at dusk the other day, a couple of small bats were playing. They were chasing each other in daring manoeuvres for almost half an hour, up and down in our backyard.
Added one day later: The incredible beauty of the chestnut blossom. Yellow and pink on one stem!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New paints, new prints

The new paints were waiting patiently to get tried. I did it last night, when my husband decided to watch Pulp Fiction he recorded. He is a collector. I don't mind some film blood sheding, but I want to be the director. So I tried some printing on one of my husband's discarded t-shirts. I found out that this material is much better than the old bed sheet I tried before. Then I overpainted parts of it. The colours that my friend C gave me are beautiful.
I print on wet cloth, this makes the paint bleed a little, but the paint is taken by the cloth better than by dry cloth. But with cotton jersey, this doesn't seem to be a problem any more.
The colours were a lot lighter after drying. I'm not sure whether I should overprint, overpaint them or leave them as they are. I also like this batik-like technique with the stenciled white, but it is laborious. I'm at the very beginning of experience. That's a great feeling.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Two Hand Embroidery

On request, I show the way I do larger embroidery. I use a quilting hoop and keep my right hand underneath the piece all the time, and the left hand is on top all the time. I have to find the right spot from underneath with my right hand, because I am right-hand oriented, and the left hand has the easier job. The husband J took the pictures.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


A new embroidery project. The stitch is large. I use both hands for embroidery. This way, I speed it up a lot. My m-i-l's neighbor gave me a bag of wool she won't use any more, leftovers she was up to throw away. My favourite challenge! Yesterday I met the lady who gave me the wool and we made friends. Her name is Eva. She is 19 years older than I and person to hug right away. I was able to show her what became of her leftovers. She was pleased that the material is being used.

I met her at a big party on my m-i-l's 70th birthday.
A big flower garland showing the figures 70 was given by the neighbors and put up in the garden. The celebration took place in the veranda and tent. There were 16 guests, among them relatives of J whom I never met before (in 12 years relationship!). They lead a very remote life. But the neighbors are very sociable, there was a lot of laughter and singing serenades for M, my m-i-l.
My hubby and I helped a little serving the sparkling wine, but there wasn't much left to do, they had prepared it all. There was a cold buffet in the kitchen, and later one for pies and cakes. Admirable people. They are so generous and had been working hard the day before! My f-i-l is a brillant cook and baker. Hope to be this fit in their age.
The fish were playing with bubbles. Looked like they were having fun, too.

In addition to the posting, as an answer to the first comment: Here is the hoop I use for larger embroidery.
Now I'll watch the amazing Martha of Brazil defeating German women on the football green.
P.S. They did not defeat them, it ended 1:1.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Which is the only animal that can die twice?

Answer: The Salmon. First time, when it is killed. The second time on the grill.
But I had a salmon on Saturday night that had not been killed for a second time, it was perfect instead, grilled just seconds to the point, soft and tasty.
We had this wonderful fish in a Japanese restaurant. We: that is F, my best Turkish friend, her German partner P, then C, who is a very good friend of mine, and my husband and me.

We started with a tiny portion of black algae with raddish, I had a big pot of Green Tea, then above praised fish. J had a miso soup, then a rice-and-chicken pot, everything beautifully prepared and perfect, but not really much. So, against my habits and intentions, I had a portion of ice cream which does not really go with Japanese food. But it was crowned with a spoonful of a sweet bean paste which was excellent.
F had flowers for me, orange and red, and C gave me this red box with white ribbon, containing a selection of textile paints! Figure how happy I was! She said, she can get them at reduced price because she is a professional textile restaurer and works for museums.
The name of the place is "Daruma", he was a Buddhist saint who brought the teachings from India to China in 5th century.
After the meal, we had a drink in a nearby pub.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Paths to the truth

My latest small embroidery is finished, about 7x7" size. At the moment, it is wet and drying on a board, fixed with pins. As I did all the stitches in one direction, I have to reshape it a little bit. This is different from the "Hidden Stars", because here I changed direction alternatingly, so the tension is balanced.

Time off

The husband is having a few days off, he must be back in the office on coming wednesday. It's been a long time since his last vacation! And we are lucky to have a few sunny days. We went to see an exhibition of Henri Matisse, but it was more or less second class quality. Later, we walked through the city and rode along the harbour. I took this photo through the scratched and dirty window panes of the train.
The Albers pillow is finished and I took a pic of it on the seat it was made for.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Flowers from my husband

Now I'm sixty. And it seems to be the best time in my life. It has never been this great. Not even in my childhood. There was a veil of sadness over my life that isn't there any more and that I got rid of not until I was in a mature age. It did not even concern me! I just shared the trauma of my family.
My parents in law gave me a value certificate for a clothing shop for larger sizes. Black jeans, raspberry top, sky blue cardigan. While trying things on, I noticed that I lost weight. One size per year. Just through renouncing on sugar and taking dry fruits instead. -- I started a new embroidery: "The path to the truth", as J named it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

And now something completely different.

My husband's picture wall on modern art. Here is the connection of all "-isms". Each -ism has a small list of artists' names and a thumbnail sample from the most famous artist. The whole map of modern art covers half a wall in our bedroom.

Some more Stade pics

Beautifully decorated houses and the less beautiful reverse side. And so was life. Since the 17th century, the town government tried to attract Jewish settlers in order to develop merchandise. But every time, the guilds fought their competitors, so they couldn't stay long. It was not until 19th century, that they were able to rent a room for their services.

The former Synagogue from 1873-1908, the red and blue house. The prayer room was on the upper floor. This is a commemorative plaque for the small Jewish parish.

A Sunday in Stade

Before meeting my parents in law for lunch, J and I took a walk through Stade, the beautiful small town. This time, I took pics of some details on the old houses which also prove their age. The weather was just right for taking pictures. As we walked from 11 to 12 am, we saw mostly empty streets (car traffic is not allowed in the old parts of town anyway). There is a popular habit in Germany (and elsewhere?) to light a big fire in the night before Easter Sunday, and many people drink a lot and have to sleep into Sunday morning.

Not what pleases pious Christians! -- At noon, we saw M and K (parents in law) and had a wonderful meal.

Later, we visited neighbours. Their son Dr J is my husband's closest friend. He has two sisters, and he had brought his kids, so there was quite a party in the garden. Dr J is shareholder of a prospecting engineering company which takes him all over the world. We get mails from Brazil, Vietnam and Nigeria. And he is the most warmhearted, down-to-earth friend and family man.

Left: Amazing tile work on an old house. Right: Arsenal from Swedish time (1648-1712)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring everywhere

Idyll on the balcony: The husband studying a big book on the Guggenheim, the wife starting a new embroidery. Self-woven cover on the chair.

Earlier today, we took a walk in our street and the region around our little lake. Zoom on the heron! A free living one, but never showed signs of fear.

Hidden Stars of Bethlehem

Finished. The colours are taken from a limited scale, I sometimes put such rules on my work as "take what is in this bag" or "use as many colours as possible from Grandma Elizabeth's wool". The full range from my drawer is less inspiring to me than the limits.

Happy Holidays to you, whatever way you celebrate!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Caught in lace and held in frame

A human shape behind lace is the latest progress of the witch gown.
As Susan noticed, the text ribbons are paths! It is clear to see.
I explained the details and meaning to my husband who doesn't mind at all to be caught in the traps of his witch.

The embroidery is developing a little unexpectedly. I intended to do an "Star of Bethlehem" allover pattern, but the piece has a different idea. I put it up in a quilting frame in order to keep it stretched. My embroidery hoops are too thin and small to hold needlepoint which is gaining volume and cannot be pressed between the hoops, the wool gets squeezed, and it shows.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

From early childhood

What looks like a tryptich is part of a set of 5 children's pictures that hung over my bed when I was a baby. This means 59 years ago or so. They were created out of nothing: Taken from some book? I don't know the origin. To me, this is the evidence of the love of my Granddad which I did not understand in time. They had almost nothing, and he was a very cautious and sparing man. In a time of a lingering traumatic experience, a man who survived two world wars took 5 little pieces of plywood, pasted pictures onto them, painted some touching dots and lines onto it as a frame, fixed a loop on the back, and covered the front with shellac to protect it. It has protected these pictures until today. And my memory.

(b&w photo was taken by my Dad, his son-in-law)