Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!


 What I am going to do tonight:

* eat a lot
* drink non-alcoholic pink sparkling wine
* try to stay awake until midnight
* celebrate a 13-years-anniversary


* do this workbook here 
to say gratefully goodbye to 2013
and make some magic in 2014

See you on the other side.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Afternoon Drawing

With no school, no scheduled afternoon activities or play dates, it all comes down to books and pen and paper for Clara (who cares about the Christmas presents?). And when Carolina takes her afternoon nap, I am more than happy to join her.


We took this wonderful book for inspiration and started copying apples, trees, stars, owls, butterflies and feathers. Clara was quick in her sketching and looked over to my meticulous copying and said: "Yours is so beautiful. I like it more than mine." And I looked over to her drawings and said: "I like yours better." And I really do. She grasps the essence of a thing and draws her version. I just try to copy as exactly as I can. Honestly, I would like to draw like her.

That reminds of something that Pablo Picasso said: "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blogoversary Giveaway

Oh yes, it's been three years now with Cat on the creative couch of life! Thank you all (may I know you or not) who have come along with me, joined me en route or drop by every now and then.
Thank you for reading my stuff.

As usual, I am having a little giveaway.


This poster came to me through Christmas circumstances and coincidences not only once but twice. I am keeping the English-language "Butterflies of the World" to hang over my couch and you can win the German version, if you like. The poster's size is 59,4 cm x  84,1 cm (in inches: 23.3 x 33.1).

To enter the competition, leave a comment until January 5 and tell me what you would like to read more of on my blog in 2014. No matter which corner of the world you live in, I will make sure that the butterflies reach you. Good luck!

EDIT on January 6:
And the butterflies will fly to:


Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Doris! Da bekommt dein Schmetterling im Flur Gesellschaft!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Handmade Christmas

Here comes a quick show of what was handmade this Christmas. As my crafty juices all flowed into Hubby's sweater (here), I relied on other people's craftiness. All coming from charity bazaars.

textile paintings for my mother

decoupage boxes for parents on both sides

 filled with handpicked wishes from Clara

a tray for my sister 
(who is actually more of a black-and-white-type)

cross-stitch postcards
(which I forgot to give away ...)

And then, when Hubby's sweater was finished one day before Christmas Eve, my now-empty hands fiddled with a little leftover hat for my father-in-law.

Ravelry notes here

Three Christmases ago my father-in-law asked for simple knitted hats, so short, that they stopped just above the ears.


I remembered the leftovers, took a crochet hook and whipped up a hat. The yarn was not quite enough, even for such a short hat, but I also had red leftovers from this and that.


I think he liked it, because my father-in-law wouldn't take the hat off through all of Christmas lunch and afternoon.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hubby's Sweater


Started: 25 January 2013 (here)
Finished: 23 December 2013 (here)
Pattern: New Zealand Sweater 
(shaped after New Zealand's Rangitoto volcano)
by Elisabeth Zimmermann using her EPS
Ravelry notes here

I learned a lot while knitting this sweater. About the EPS (Elisabeth Percentage System) which I used for the first time for knitting a sweater (actually I have only knitted about one or two adult sweaters in my life...). About the fact that sweaters do "ride up" at the back and you can insert three short rows to avoid that effect. How to struggle with short row shaping at the yoke and win. That knitting a black sweater throughout most of November and December doesn't do much to lift your mood. About patience, as usual. With such a big sweater for such a tall man (15 balls of yarn). About learning to knit a nice underarm gusset like here:


And that you can measure and measure and swatch and swatch and count and count and your gauge will still be off. Yes, Hubby is a tall man, but he is not a big man (he thinks I have a fat image of him). So the sweater is huge, wide and long. Or you can also say cozy and roomy.


Hubby says he can wear it on weekends.


But let me tell you a miraculous side discovery:


It looks good on me!


 Still huge.


 But more like a comfy knitted dress.
Not for a single moment I visualized myself wearing it
while knitting.


It is so big that two people fit into it.
It's a couple sweater.
Love is about sharing.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

7


Seven girls, seventh birthday.
I think Clara had a fun one.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Angel Wings

Yesterday I showed you the paper angel wings
 made by a super-nice yoga student of mine.


She gave them to everybody in the class 
at our Christmas yoga party.


I could fly home on pink wings.


I am not the only one who likes them.


I have a sneaky little angel in the house.


Let's go flying!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Signs of Christmas coming


Clara paints a Christmas tree.


A little Christmas fairy dances around the house,
listening to "Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer" nonstop.
(those fairies seem to be a common sight this time of year,
see also last year here)


Hubby makes his first marzipan chocolates.


Christmas decoration.
Stars by Clara.
Tea-light holders and Angel Wings are gifts from my nice yoga students.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Window Sewing

It is traditionally more Christmas-window-decoration-time in December, and I enjoy the zillions of lights at night a lot. But one storefront puts a special smile on my face, every time I walk by.


It is a tailor shop and even though the old sewing machines are permanent decoration, they look even more nostalgic in December twilight.


There are old Pfaff machines and Veritas and Singer.


But have you heard of Gritzner, Kayser or Phoenix?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Clara Knits a Hat

Now it is time to show you the first knitted hat Clara has ever made. She tried good old knitting before (easy!) and that knitted piece still looks kind of the same as in March. But Clara also comes to her school's afternoon craft class, where the children work with knitting looms (here) this season. She often seemed tired and bored and asked when class would be over, and would start a project here and there without too much interest. But yesterday:


A finished hat, yes!


And why not another pompom?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Yarn Graffiti

It is not a time when yarn graffiti grows around town right now, but still I found one little creature at the weekend.


Yes, I have seen flowers before here, here or here. And I have also seen mushrooms before here. But I haven't seen them together in one yarn graffiti and I haven't seen this name tag either:


Interesting, interesting ...

I have stopped counting, but over the course of the last 2,5 years I must have witnessed about six or seven different yarn graffiti styles around Oldenburg. What will grow next?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Yes, Chocolate, please!


I am not a very big chocolate lover. But once in a while I do indulge. Especially in winter, when it is cold and dark outside, or stormy like yesterday afternoon. During my raw food experiments in summer I came across the idea of making your own chocolate (based on coconut oil), that didn't seem very complicated. When I recently discovered cocoa butter at an organic supermarket, I bought it for "later" (keeps in the fridge). Also for "later", I bought these silicon moulds for making chocolate:

(you can obviously also use baking paper on a tray as a substitute)

"Later"(after the cupcake party basically) had arrived yesterday. A quick search online for a basic vegan recipe (I liked this German site here) later, I got started. You only need 4 -5 ingredients:


- 60-70g cocoa butter
- 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder (or carob)
- 2 tablespoons sweetener of your choice (agave, maple syrup, confectioner's sugar)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla pulp
- 1 pinch of salt
- optional: nuts of your choice


Take the cocoa butter ...


... and melt it at a low temperature in a pan. My first shock: chocolate consists mainly if fat! Where that soft melting sensation would come from otherwise, I had never thought about. Once over the shock, I made a cocoa-carob-mixture:


and mixed it with some maple syrup and vanilla drops:


Here comes the fat again!


Pour melted cocoa butter into chocolate-carob-mixture.
Mix again and pour into chocolate moulds.


After following all these steps - surprise, surprise, my chocolate mixture didn't look smooth and creamy, but crumbly and curdled:


The cocoa butter disintegrated and I was about to throw this first attempt in the bin, but decided to put in the fridge anyway. I don't know, what had caused the curdling, the carob, maple sirup, the vanilla drops or the combination of them. I made another mixture only with cocoa, agave instead of maple, and vanilla pulp instead of the drops.

All smooth now.

After 2-3 hours in the fridge the chocolate has hardened.



Let's taste it!


To our utter surprise we (Clara and me) liked the disintegrated chocolate more!

True artisan chocolate.
 chocolate-cocoa-buttery and melting-tasty, with some carob caramel-ness

Carolina asked for "meh' 'lade" (mo' 'late) and Hubby found it "addictive".

PS: Addictive? I am glad nobody saw me at 4.30 am on my way to the fridge ...