Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Crazy Quilt

I'm not making a "crazy quilt," but I sometimes think I might be crazy for thinking I'd like to make another quilt.  I don't love my first (and last) queen-sized one, but I've aquired a ton of scraps from other projects since then (nearly eight years ago), and really want to make a happy quilt with some of my leftovers.

So, here's the inspiration, and here's what I've cut of my scraps (a shoutout to my friend Shawn for letting me borrow her Accu-Quilt Go! to make quick work of getting such lovely strips and diamonds):

Praying for enough time to get done before I grow weary of the project, and enough discipline to put down the project when I have other responsibilities.  I'll post progress pics occasionally.

Now, off to clean my house so I can reward myself with a good, long, triangle-chopping session!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Behind Closed Doors

Doesn't that title just scream "juicy confession time?"  Well, I do need to admit that I love Polish Pottery more than I realized, and it took a trip to Bolesławiec for me to realize it.  I've given my kitchen cupboard contents a makeover, and I'll give you a peek "behind closed doors" soon.

First, I need to give a great big shoutout to my friend Samantha for taking care of my boys on Friday. I couldn't have gone without her.  I also want to thank Tina for being the driver, and enabler (in a good way) of all the fun. I also want to thank the ladies who came for being real, sweet, and encouraging to this newbie. Second to last, I want to thank my sweet husband for pushing me out the door, AND FILING OUR TAXES while I was gone!!  And most importantly, I want to thank GOD for safety on the roads, the wonderful time of fellowship, and the provision for this weekend.  It's the first time in my 40 years I've actually done a "girls shopping trip."

I've known about Polish Pottery since my first Easter as an Active Duty military spouse.  Hubby and I were invited to a family's home, and the table was set with the most whimsical mix-and-match plates I'd ever seen.  No two were alike, but they all complimented one another.  I gushed over them, and promptly put "Go buy pottery in Poland" on my bucket list. I've since seen it for sale at many Exchange stores I've been to, and never once bought a piece for myself.  I figured it wouldn't count becuase I didn't get it in Poland.

Several times since arriving to Germany, I've been invited to join friends who were headed to Poland to get some pottery from Bolesławiec.  For one reason or another, each weekend I had previously been invited didn't work out for me.  But... I finally got to join a sweet group of ladies that went this weekend.

This type of pottery is pretty distinct, and I expected it would be hard for me to find something I liked. Before the trip, I visited a few stores online to see if a pattern would jump out at me, and one did.  I thought I wanted to try to coordinate with the place settings I already have.  The second store we went into had a few pieces of it, so, I got some grey-striped cereal bowls and black and white striped egg cups at Millena. If a person were to visit my house and eat out of this bowl, they might never suspect it was Polish pottery.  It just doesn't have the look of any of the other designs.  

The next store was Ada's. It's a tiny shop where you could see every step of the creative process, from the moulds, to the application of the paint designs, with a sliver of a showroom:

These sponges are used to apply the repeating patterns.  
Awaiting the kiln

This is the main breaker for the electricity in the shop

Just outside

Those shelves in the background are the whole showroom!
It was fun to comb the shelves and see more of what I had seen at bazaars and kiosks for the last few years since becoming aware of the renowned Polish pottery.  I enjoyed seeing my shopping companions get excited about finding more of what they loved.  But I still couldn't imagine coming home with boxes full of the stuff.  I am a pretty content gal, and thought I might buy just a handful of pieces, if anything suited my fancy, and the price was right.

The next shop was one I'd seen often on my friends' Facebook walls, had they been there. They have gigantic pieces of classic Polish pottery displayed in front. I got an obligatory "I'm in Poland" photo, then wandered in (and wandered out without purchasing anything):

Wouldn't this make a great jigsaw puzzle?

It was a bit overwhelming, and still nothing was grabbing my fancy.
The place is very photogenic. I was appreciating the artwork without having to spend a ton of money, and without having to commit to purchasing ceramics I wasn't sure I absolutely LOVED.  I was beginning to wonder if I might be the trip historian, rather than a shopper.

Does someone look like an expert here?  She is!

Um... Happy Easter?
Then it happened.  A plate caught my eye, and wouldn't let me go. I loved it.  I wanted it.  But I didn't need it. So I took a picture. Then I saw the matching salad bowl.  I needed a salad bowl.  It was on my "list." But it was over $40.  I didn't need a $40 salad bowl.  So I took a picture.

So then, the hunt began.  Was there other stuff that coordinated with this pattern?  Similar pieces that might be of second- or third-quality that I could buy for less?  The next store I went into, I left the camera in the van.  I didn't take one picture the next day.  I shopped.  I ooh-ed and ahh-ed.  I got excited.  I bit my lip.  I practiced restraint.  I failed at restraint.  I dug.  I compared. I did conversions from Złoty to Euro to US Dollar. I wrote my name in black Sharpie on a lot of packages.

This morning, I awoke with a lot of "unpurchsed" items still on my list, and enough money in my budget to let loose a little.  I knew what I liked, what I wanted, and what I wanted to pay.  So, here are some more pics from the day, and the haul all spread out on the table upon my return home:

My favorite pattern in a ramekin, a coordinating all-black and white serving bowl, and a clearance salad bowl.
All together 35 Euro.
Anything I bought had to coordinate with these three pieces.  Well, almost anything. 

These were not on my list, but too good to pass up.
These are some of the more traditional patterns, and also third-quality.  They're not suitable for baking due to some imperfections like cracks or bubbles, but they'll be sturdy and reliable for mixing many batches of pancakes or brownies.

This is most everything I brought home.
And, well... below is all that I could find in the one pattern I "liked" when I looked online before the trip. It would have been a much less-exciting weekend if I hadn't broadened my taste. And a little less spendy. I'm pretty impressed, though.  I only spent 14 Euro more than I budgeted.

Here are some of the beautiful faces with which I got to spend the weekend talking, laughing, eating, praying, and shopping:

It was a blast!

So, if you've read this far, I guess you might want to see 
...Behind closed doors... here is my cabinet makeover!

This is After, and I can't the Before to move, so if you want to see it,
scroll down to the bottom of this post!





Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Little Red Table Painted Blue

Once my husband blamed me for being a river.  Like it was a bad thing.  Here's why: I acquire things for free, or nearly free, all the time.  Dumpster diving, Free-cycle, thrift shops, curb-alerts, garage sales, Craigslist, you name it.  I acquire it, fix it up, use it, then send it off when it's done serving my purposes.  I'll trade for something else, sell it for what I paid, or give it away.  When I get something, I don't expect to keep it forever (my retort when my self-admitted packrat hubby called me a river was, "if I'm a river, then you're a cesspool... um, in a good way?").  I've seen beds, dining sets, pianos, clothing, lamps, knick-knacks, place-settings, curtains, rugs, picture frames, baby-gear, you name it, come, and I've seen even more go.  But this little table.  I kind of am attached to it.  I scored it for $15 in Anchorage at a yard sale, painted it red, and set it in the middle of our great-big kitchen.  Big brother and I made some fun memories, eating meals and doing crafts there when Pop was in Afghanistan, and Little brother was too small to sit and eat a table.  It got more use that year than our $600 Craigslist dining set in the adjacent room.

This table used to seem so big!

Well, I hadn't quite given up on this table, but for the last few years, it's been out of the rotation... When I rearranged my furniture to cope with having to actually live in the same house longer than two years, the coffee table I had scored for free just didn't fit in the living room any more, so I kicked it to the curb.  I dragged this out of the basement storage and tried it on for size. It had just the right proportions for the space, but the color was all wrong.

So, I decided to break down and try Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Yes, people I know have made their own version of this and loved it well enough, but I wanted to see what all the hype was about.  There just happens to be only three ASCP (you know what that means if you've been looking closely) stockists in all of our state of Hesse, Germany.  One just happens to be here in Wiesbaden, at At Home Shabby.

So, here's the progress, and very little commentary...

The table shrank, right?

Go here, if you're ever in town!

It was a great day to be outside, so I got some help from the neighbors!

It dried FAST on a windy, sunny day.

I was purposely sloppy and liked the red peeking through.

After the blue dried, I added Old White with a dry-brush.

Clear Wax to seal, Dark Wax to antique, then sealed again with Clear Wax.

The table fits, and looks great!
So, I realize now that I'll need to add a couple of photos with the whole table in the Living Room.  But a) it's super late, and I should be asleep, and b) there's laundry all over it now, and it's a bit too real to share.  Gotta fake it up a bit with a table-scape (you know, to make it look like I don't have two young boys here), then I'll post pics before we use the table as a foot rest.

This table may just be an island in my river.  I've kept it for nearly 6 years, and it feels brand new!

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Girl Needs Shoes.

Somedays all a girl needs is a new pair of shoes. Today was that day.  Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Dreaded SPAR

This sweet little 8-year-old I have.  He does his Tae Kwon Do forms (Poomsae) compulsively. And right near perfectly.  But sparring (Kampf)?  That's a different story.  He was invited to a weekly sparring class, and though it was an honor to be invited, and he liked the thought of being in the class, he just hates the thought of attending.  He's the youngest, smallest, and lowest-ranking belt there.  He either gets hurt by his partner (who is often much larger and more aggressive), or more often he hurts himself in his over-zealous and under-experienced attempts at making contact.  Suffice it to say that after three classes (right in the middle of dinner time--from 6-7:30), he would CRY when I reminded him it was Wednesday and that sparring class was still on the "to do" list.  I decided I couldn't keep him in the class, no matter how "good" his coach thought he might be with enough experience. Maybe next year?

However, another opportunity arose.  A team-wide sparring tournament was scheduled, open to anyone in the club. They host these as "practice" tournaments, so newbies will know how a tournament works without quite so many people milling around.  He's attended a couple of the Poomsae Turniers, and done quite well at them, but Big Brother was wavering on whether he wanted to participate in Kampf, or just observe.  His coach assured us that he was good enough, and he should try it.  So he took a gulp, and went for it.  The older kids started things off, and they were tough, fast, and accurate.  It was a bit intimidating to watch. Little Brother has been hoping to join the club, and I've been dragging my feet on making that commitment. Once the sparring started, he added a little comic relief when he commented, "Maybe I don't want to start Tae Kwon Do, after all!"

Will is very glad he mustered up the nerve to attend, because he didn't have to fight bigger, older kids. He got to fight kids in his grade, and actually smaller than him (I truly thought there WERE no second-graders smaller than him)! He sparred twice. He won a quick victory in under 2 minutes the first encounter, and  at the end of the second round, found himself facing a sudden-death score (8-8).  He won by a one-point kick.

So, this was a first for our whole family... Our first sparring tournament!  I've tried to keep the pictures mostly of Big Brother, as photographing other people's children is (rightly) frowned upon here.  We got some group shots, but you'll have to find them on the club's page!  Here are some pics of the afternoon, and a little peek at our favorite pizza place in Bierstadt:

Maybe I don't want to start TKD, after all!

The big kids were instructed to make sure the newbies were suited up correctly. 

Sparring's not such a bad thing...