Friday, 27 March 2015

A (late) winter flower

Eranthis hyemalis, also known as winter aconite. 

When I was looking through photos I have taken since November, I found this Kiki doll. She was a custom order that has traveled to her new family when spring was still far, far away.
She looks like a little flower in all the brown and green, just like a winter aconite...



Monday, 23 March 2015

Pea Soup and Pancakes

Thursdays are my bravest days
It is pea soup and pancakes for lunch
On Thursdays, that is. Every week

Except from when the cat of the neighbours
Run away, an early winter morning 
And came back four days later
And Mrs Miller had a bad cough and -

Well, let me get back to pea soup and pancakes...
Thursdays are my bravest days
Because I have to go down into the cellar
To get a jar of strawberry jam for the pancakes

And let me tell you something!
The other week a rat, as big as a badger
Or maybe even bigger
Was hiding in the dark
behind a jar with pickles
I bared my teeth, I snarled a bit
And then it ran away 
Through the cellar, up the stairs and -

Well, let me get back to pea soup and pancakes... 
Thursdays are my bravest days
Because I have to go down to the neighbours
Through the deep, deep forest, because of the pancakes

And let me tell you something!
The other week, a wild boar
With bloodshot eyes, was chasing me
 I climbed up a tree, quicker as quick
And there he stood, snorting with rage
The scariest wild boar I've ever seen
And then he started 
Ramming the tree and -

Well, let me get back to pea soup and pancakes... 
Thursdays are my bravest days
Because down at the neighbours I have to pick up eggs, 
a whole basket of them, for the pancakes

And let me tell you something!
The other week, the nasty cock
Started to pinch me
First my arm, then my bum
And then he began to drag me
Towards the dunghill
Luckily I caught hold of the clothesline
In the very nick of time and -

Well, let me get back to pea soup and pancakes... 
Thursdays are my bravest days
Because in the pantry, I have to get 
The huge storage glass with flour for the pancakes

And let me tell you something!
The other week, I climbed first on a chair
Then on a stool, then on a pile of cooking books
And stood on tiptoes
Like a circus artist 
In heady heights
Seven metres above the ground
Just to reach the very top shelf

And then I turned my neck to the right
Just a little bit
And then I looked out of the window
And then I could see the church steeple
In the neighbouring village
And then I even catched a glimpse
Of Mrs Miller in her dressing gown 
When all of the sudden, I heard a voice and -

Gretchen!! Gretchen!
Gretchen! I hear mother say
With a very stern voice:
First finish your pea soup
And then it is pancakes!

Thursdays are my bravest days
Because on thursdays, it is pea soup
So thick that you could slice it with a knife

I take a deep breath
Put a bit of soup on my spoon and -


Gretchen is a 54cm/ 21" tall custom doll. She traveled with a play suit, long sleeve, a reversable pinafore dress, undies, leggings, socks and crocheted Mary Janes and a head scarf (as well as an extra pair of shoes for the muddier months of the year). Also, I had to cut her a fringe. She insisted.


P.S. In Sweden, traditionally you get served pea soup and then pancakes on thursdays. Although, I have to admit, I never had that combination ;-)

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Spring Sewing

Spring sewing in pink and lilac, just like the crocuses behind our house
(thank you, Sophie @mapetitevalisette, for sending me these beautiful vintage bobbins with sewing silk thread as a little gift from France)

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

DIY Mini Balloon Vase

Not far away from our home there is an abandoned cottage, surrounded by birch trees, amidst thickets of wild raspberries and last year's waist-high grass.

Almost every day I take a walk down there to pick fresh bouquets of snowdrops and spring snowflakes in the neglected garden. It seems that the only other visitors are two elks that use to take sunbaths behind the house. Unlike me, they don't seem to care much about the beautiful harbingers of spring that cover the meadow.

With those daily pickings, I easily run out of small vases that I keep for tiny flower bouquets. This is why I love the idea of turning empty votive holders (or small water glasses) into pretty vases by simply using a balloon and a pair of scissors. I came across this stroke of genious a couple of years ago on Camilla's blog Family Chic and since then balloon vases have been a recurring must-do during spring time.

You'll need:
empty votive holders or shot glasses
spring flowers (preferably picked on a sunny day)
1. Cut off about 1cm below the lip of the opening and about 1cm at the bottom of the ballon.
2. Stretch over the empty votive holder and pull down. Make sure that you pull the edge of the balloon gently over the bottom of the glass.
3. Push the small opening inside the vase for a neat look.
4. Fill with water and add your flowers. Voilà!

Note: Depending on the size of the glass you use, it can be helpful to blow up the balloon first (to stretch it) and to let deflate before cutting it. I personally prefer not inflating the balloon as I like the matte look of the finished vase.

These vases would look pretty in pastel colours on your Easter table or - provided with a small name tag - would make gorgeous dinner place cards. With a bag of pretty balloons in your favourite colours and a pack of disposable shot glasses you can also make a beautiful (and inexpensive) decoration for a wedding or for a birthday celebration.



Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sunday sleep-in

she is still in her pyjamas
surrounded by piles of pillows and picture books
with a cup of cocoa and morning sun on her little nose

[Gretchen, a 54cm/ 21" tall custom doll]

Monday, 26 January 2015

Flower Love

In May 2013, I started with a photo series on Instagram under the hashtag #onebouquetperday. Every day, until the 31st of October, I picked a bouquet of flowers, wild ones found in the meadows and woods and varieties from our garden, and posted the photo on Instagram.

Last year, I took up my #onebouquetperday series again. In 184 days, I picked 184 flower bouquets, well-documented by my camera. This time, I was joined by people in France, the USA, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and other countries, some only during their summer holidays, others for two, three months. 

One of the people who joined me, was Elodie Love (yes, that is her real name) of Madame Love, a beautiful French flower and interior blog. The other day, Elodie surprised me with a pretty collage of my photos and a lovely little post about my #onebouquetperday project - have a look here. 
I follow Elodie on Instagram as well and every day I enjoy a good portion of Parisian chic and flower inspiration while parading my vintage dresses together with muddy wellies in the Scanian countryside.

This year I will start my flower series for the third time, maybe even a bit earlier, in April. Like Elodie, quite a few of my followers have already asked to join the floral journey again and I am very much looking forward to pick the first spring bloomers in a few weeks. From the curious little heads of the springdrops to tell, the bouquet picking season will soon be starting...



Friday, 23 January 2015

Colours of January

A sunny hello from wintry Skåne!
(and thank you for still visiting this place after a little blog break, quite much needed)

January has welcomed us with stormy weather and lots of rain and I was about to join the masses and strike up the same old song about the first month of the year being grey and dismal. But then I decided to not cave in and let the bad mood bug bite me as well. Fortunately, grumpy Mister January finally got a grip and granted us glittering snow, blue skies and amazing sunrises in the past few days.

These two girls have already arrived at their new homes far away, I finished them earlier this month and truly enjoyed their colourful and merry company. They were a great remedy to come over the usual January fretfulness (together with proper workspace lighting, the first spring bloomers on the windowsill and colourful fabrics on the work table). The hem on the purple dress was cut off a 1970's summer dress I've found some years ago at a fleamarket. Even though the dress was too threadbare to wear myself, I can't help thinking of a warm summer breeze, flowers in full bloom and bare feet in the grass whenever I cut into the fabric.

Today we've heard the silvery zee-zee-zee of a little bluetit that sat in the old lilac bush next to our house. Spring is on it's way, despite January's boorish manners.


Friday, 2 January 2015

Paper Diamonds (and a Happy New Year)

[these were my handmade gifts for New Year's Eve: Origami diamonds on a golden string with a silver bell inside]

I send you my warmest wishes for a happy and sparkling 2015. 
May you all have great beginnings, a year filled with creativity and hope, with light and joy.



Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Tiniest Christmas Tree

Some time before Christmas, I received a little package from Petra, a dear blog reader. I was battling a heavy cold that day, feeling like on a wavering ship, it was dank and overcast outside (we only had a couple of hours of sunlight in December) and no coffee in the house. In short, it was the perfect day for a moral boost.

When I opened the package, I found a handwritten card and a delicious homemade Christmas Stollen (a traditional German fruit cake) for Kiki and a little silk sachet. Inside I found the tiniest handmade Christmas tree I have ever seen, with a wee golden top star and sparkling crystals...

As an expat, I treasure my traditional German Christmas decorations, especially the ones from Erzgebirge, the Ore Mountains. The area around Seiffen/ Saxonia is known as Toy Corner (Spielzeugwinkel) in Germany due to its long tradition in Ore Mountain folk art. There you can find the most skilled wood carvers, sculptors and toy makers. In the old days, when the tin and silver deposits in the mines declined, families had to look for new ways to earn their living, and many of them turned into woodcarving and woodturning. People started making nutcrackers, Christmas pyramids, candle archs and wooden incense smokers (smoking men). While the vast majority of Christmas decorations is being produced in China nowadays, the Ore Mountain toy manufacturing has been growing strong over the centuries, their products can be found all over the world as ubiquitous souvenirs of German craftsmanship.

The tiny spiral tree, carved from one little piece of wood, has been made by Petra's husband Uwe Uhlig who runs a wood carving workshop in Lengefeld in the Ore Moutains. Even though the homepage is in German, the photos are truly inspiring. For me as a dollmaker it is such a pleasure to read about someone who has a passion for artisan craftwork, to see what skilled hands can make from just a piece of wood.

On the website of Miniaturendechslerei Uhlig, their workshop, I found a wonderful little film that you too will enjoy for sure. Not only does it give you a beautiful insight in the art of woodturning, it does also reveal a little secret about what happens in a toy workshop in the night once the lights are turned off...

Thank you so much, dear Petra and Uwe, for your heart-warming package!

Sending you sunshine from wintry Sösdala,


Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Time Between the Years

A warm hello from a wintry Skåne!

I hope you are enjoying the time between the years (as we call it in German, my mother tongue), those precious days between Christmas and New Year's Eve. Days filled with slowness, calm, quietude, with time to wave the past twelve months goodbye and time to prepare for a new year.

We spent a very cozy and calm Christmas with family and with friends. Taking long walks through a glittering winter landscape, drinking tea by the crackling fireplace, reading books, abandoning ourselves to sweet idleness, watching starlit December skies and listening to the singing ice that covers the small lake in the woods.

As every year, we decided to give each other mostly handmade gifts, and for one of my closest friends, I made this string of light with small star-shaped lanterns from Origami paper. It turned out so pretty and I had almost kept it for myself, but just almost ;-)

Luckily, I ordered some more paper (if you live in Sweden and are looking for a good source, I got mine from here) that arrived just the day before Christmas and the past few evenings I have been folding more tiny lanterns to make a string of lights for our house. They look so beautiful when illuminated and it is such a meditative craft to do, perfect for the time between the years...

Sending you snowflakes and warm greetings, enjoy the weekend!


Saturday, 13 December 2014

Into the Woods (Dreaming about a Hermitage)

After yesterday's storm, I filled the thermos with tea, put on warm mittens, loaded the heavy camera tripod on our little handcart and went into the woods. The air was crispy and fresh today, as if someone has had an enormous Christmas cleaning in the forest last night. I picked fir branches, beechnuts and moss to decorate our house with and even found blooming periwinkle and a few snowberries, a last farewell gift by Mister Autumn who had stayed much longer this year in our neck of the woods.

In the forest, about twenty minutes walk over hedge and ditch, there is an abandoned hunters hut. Although I have never seen anyone up there, the traces around the weathered cabin and a few things behind the blind windows tell me that every now and then someone turns a key in the rusty lock.
For quite some time I have been dreaming about a little hut just for myself. A cabin surrounded by old beech trees, in the middle of the forest, just like this one, not far away from our home. With a window on each side to let in the light and nothing in it but a table and a chair and a woodstove to keep me warm while poring over ideas. A place for reflection, like a hermitage, where I could enjoy the quiet for an hour or two every day before walking back home, through the woods, over hedge and ditch.

For now, building a proper greenhouse and converting a part of the barn next to our house into a larger studio are far higher up on our list of priorities. Still, I am dreaming about that little place of mine, a hermitage where I can leave the everyday bustle behind me for some time to refresh my mind.
I don't remember when my wish for a little cabin just for myself started growing. Years ago, when I read about a beautiful wood hermitage in a magazine, I cut out the photo below to keep it for inspiration - probably that was the beginning.

To my surprise, Sandra of Atilio, one of my favourite Swedish bloggers, wrote about a drawing she is hosting at the moment: The lucky winner will be spending a creative weekend together with a group of bloggers, photographers and writers at the Wood Hermitage of Urnatur - and she posted the photo of a tree house that I still have in one of my sketchbooks.

The Wood Hermitage is a beautiful retreat that, as part of an organic farm, consists of several small cabins and tree houses in a forest area near Ödeshög in Östergötland, Sweden. A magic place where you can reconnect with nature and where you can experience the beauty of the woods with all your senses. 

For several years, I have been wanting to visit Urnatur, and when I read about Sandra's drawing, I decided to try my luck. Because if you can't yet afford to have a cabin of your own, with just a window on each side to let in the light and nothing in it but a table and a chair and a woodstove to keep you warm while poring over ideas, you could simply rent it, right? Or, for that matter, spend a weekend in the merry company of other creative people in one of the beautiful cabins at Urnatur. 

And after a day or two, or maybe three, the hermit in you will start longing after the everyday bustle of your home again, I promise...



P.S. Ah, and before I forget: Happy St. Lucia to all of you! Remember what happened to Kiki last year?
© image no.7 by courtesy of Urnatur.