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The Nautical Mile Tote

June 25, 2015

A few months ago, I was in the mood to attempt my first sewn bag.  It's funny that I've worked as a handbag/accessories designer for years in NYC... and I never made my own bag (?).  I've been accumulating a lot of material with my quilting adventures... and so, why not? 

I was feeling a bit nostalgic for summer in the States (again)... and there are a number of things that always make me think of summer.  Ice cream cones, barbecues, iced coffees, strawberries, and all things nautical.  A few of the images below struck a chord with how I was feeling... or wished to be feeling since it was recently rainy and cold here in the Alps.

These jeans [Credit:Link]

By the water [Credit: Link]

Dogs & Beach Houses [Credit:Link]

Soft Shoes [Credit:Link]

This Tote [Credit:Link]

Wide Stripes [Credit:Link]

I looked around for a few easy patterns that I could sink my teeth into... this was my first attempt, afterall.  I tend to throw my hands up and walk away if I can't get things relatively quickly... but, my stubborn side brings me back to the table to try it again.

I found this pattern from Leanne Barlow from Elle Apparel that looked like a good first tote:

Canvas Beach Bag [Credit:Link]

I had some material that I bought a few months earlier from Ikea.  They have tons of fabrics! And, even sell a sewing machine!  I like this material's weight... makes for a good tote that isn't too stiff and isn't too flimsy.  I added a layer of Ikea's light white cotton as an interlining.

Blue & White Stripes from Ikea [Credit:Link]

Leanne's instructions were very clear on the dimensions to cut the pieces for this tote.  I opted for a contrast coral orange material for the lining.

Feeling nostalgic for summer in the States, I added a star applique to the front pocket.

Everything was moving along smoothly... until I found an old Muji canvas tote with an interesting seam technique.  The original bag pattern had the seams turned inward... while this Muji bag had exposed French Seams.  I didn't know that this type of seam is great for lightweight or sheer fabrics.  I had THREE layers of fabric... which were DOUBLED inside the French seam... and so, by the time I got around to joining the bottom seam to the side seams... things got a little crowded under my sewing foot!

But, that didn't stop me!  I aborted the French seams right as we got to the bottom seam... and continued sewing the tote in similar fashion to Leanne's pattern. 

I used self handles following the Muji tote - using the materials striping as a design element (top side white, underside blue)... So, I strayed off the path a bit... but I'm still happy with how things turned out!  Inspiration happens at any moment... it's fun to let it in sometimes... always be flexible and let creativity happen!

The Nautical Mile Tote

Love this tote... It's soft, it's relaxed... it's roomie... It's a great tote for lazy summer weekends when you just want to throw everything in a bag and get out the door.  Hope your summers are going well so far.  There's still July and August to go!


Tuesday Tidbits - Welcome to the Period Party

June 23, 2015

+ What makes a woman a woman?

+ A brief history of the vagina in art

+ Menstrual blood, the new art medium (yes, you read that right!)

+ Let's not forget, vaginal knitting

+ Instagram censored menstruation photo

+ My period, my curse.

+ Third World periods.

+ It's slightly better, but not by much, in a US prison.

+ No wait, it's actually shittier because of all the sexual assaults in prison.

+ Some things change, some things stay the same.  Pimps & Ho's.

+ And, matching bloody diaper.

+ Introducing a new gadget for your periods

+ Improve your Cliteracy.

+ Under-Told Story of the Clitoris

+ Hiding tampons = hiding periods

+ Apple will now discuss your flow

+ The most precious blood on earth... really precious.

+ The Libido Guide

+ If this wasn't enough vagina talk for you, let's leave it to the ladies of Orange is the New Black to bring it home...

Tuesday Tidbits - Life Lessons

June 16, 2015

* when narcissism trumps parenting

* everyone has a story worth listening to

* always look your best

* be the change you want to see in the world

* take good care of your teeth

* a new age for gossip (ahem, storytelling)

* walk a mile in another mom's shoes

* travel like a pro

* don't fear all germs

* don't spend all your money on lotto tickets!!

* master the art of feedback

* before you buy that house

* dress up a little

* when to drop out of the rat race

* breaking down the layers of a tantrum

* dreaming about our childhood

* take care of your parents

* the effects of the melting pot

* you were a rambunctious child

* how 'random' became 'not one of us'

* the death of marriage... by over parenting

* kids from all walks of life

* the American Dream is changing, again.

* death is a part of life

* searching for awe

* in praise of clutter

* life changing effect of losing shit

* how the 'baby on board' sign became a thing

* enjoy a lazy summer

* do not fear failure

* updates on head lice

* Disney film posters, remixed

* you're an adult now

* why you forget

* bored? here's something to do

* learn something new every day

* emotional release - just breathe

* learn a new language - stop dementia

* stop procrastinating. just start.

* there is always hope for change

* how our environment affects future generations

* keep a healthy dose of skepticism - question everything

* parenting tips - from Harvard

* are we dumbing down?

* giving birth is still deadly in the U.S.

* go to sleep!

* Sesame Street rocks!

* the early bird catches the worm

* be yourself

* see the world while you can

* you are made of star stuff

* some free therapy

* my blood is in you

* some free college grad advice

* go outside

* give, and give often.

* fix it... don't throw it out.

* kids love to fidget

* be sensitive to sensitive people

* beyond skin deep - the race myth

* time flies when you're having fun

* obese children - victim of child abuse?



The Longest Blue Hour

June 14, 2015

This weekend was a busy weekend, indeed!  A birthday party (Happy Birthday, Leif!), flea markets, ice cream excursions, and more! One of the big things on my calendar was the Schwabing Flea Market (Schwabinger Hof-Flohmarkte).  I mentioned this yearly neighborhood event in a previous post here.

It happens in every neighborhood in Munich (which is a lot!) every Saturday during the summer season.  I love this idea (and so do the swarms of people meandering the streets) because it is nice to get out and meet other neighbors (and snoop around in their stuff!).  Really, it is a great atmosphere... and you can sell or give something you have loved to someone else who was looking for something just like it... and so you know that it will be loved in its new home, too!

Tables line the sidewalks, the interior courtyards, anywhere that doesn't block the flow of traffic!

El & Lil got a 'new' camera and phone!

Coffee Ice Cream for Mama

And, of course, a summer weekend just wouldn't be a summer weekend without  a trip to the ice cream parlor! We found a lovely little joint called Bartu just around the corner!  They specialize in all organic ingredients... and they are quite popular in the neighborhood!


Two chocolate ice creams for the girls...  and on with the flea market, we go!

A few toys spied by the girls... and a new doctor's kit for El and two flying dragons for Lil.

Post flea market activities included playing with the new toys (testing out the doctor's kit) and some football play.

We were invited for post flea market dinner outside in our friends', Patrick and Tanja's, courtyard.  I love the view of each of their apartment balconies.  Each balcony has a great variety of herbs, flowers, and other plants.  Here in Europe, I find that people really take their gardening very seriously.  Rarely do I see a residential window or doorstep without some greenery. 

And, one building I found around the corner really, really love their greenery ON their building facade.  The Beck Verlag house, a 250 year old publishing company, has for years had this ivy growing on their building.  It's quite a lovely thing to see.  I passed it once in the winter months and it was just so plain without the ivy.

Dinner's ready! Nothing screams summer like an outdoor dinner with a mix of fresh fruits and veggies, breads and spreads, charcuteries, a mix of salads, and a nice cold rosé or white wine.

The beautiful reds of summer (radishes, raspberries, strawberries, and tomatoes), roasted potatoes, fresh pretzels and multigrain breads, couscous with roasted veggies, and a nice melon salad with mint... Delicious!  I have to hunt down the recipes!!

During dinner, time slows down and more wine goes 'round... The days here in Europe are stretching longer and longer.  The sun sets around 9:30PM!  So, you can really get a lot into a day...  but then suddenly, a magical time arrives called The Blue Hour

From what I gather, this is a treasured hour by people and also by artists.  It captures the feeling of a day ending... but not yet ended... and lovely memories that have just been made can be savored for a few moments longer.  We had, up til now, a true summer day filled with fun and friends... and of course, what better way to keep the day going than another trip to the ice cream parlor!  Because, why not?  Isn't this the sign of a great summer day???  


The girls especially love ice cream time - a special treat, indeed!


The night finally came around... slow as molasses... This Blue Hour idea makes me think of
René Magritte.


There is something quite magical in the twilight hours in the early morning and evenings... and I think it helps to be outdoors to really enjoy it... good thing the Europeans make it their past time to spend as much time outdoors as possible!  To be 'blue' here isn't the same as being 'blue' in America... instead of feeling sad... it means to feel drunk or intoxicated!

Sunday morning, Sophia and I headed out to the Stoffmarkte Holland.  This is a travelling fabric & notions market that was in town for the day.  We found tons of fabrics, battings, threads, buttons, tools, patterns, and things we didn't even know existed for sewing.  It was a fun time.

I grabbed a few linen fabrics, fat quarters for a new quilt, and a few tools for sewing.  When we finished, we were famished... and headed straight over to the Hirschau Biergarten to meet Harry, our friend, Ann, and the girls.

A favorite biergarten of ours located by the English Garden.  It's a great place for the parents AND the kids.  What's lovely about the biergartens here in Germany is that you can even bring your own food.  You just have to buy the beverages from the restaurant.  I've seen birthday parties, family dinners, date nights - you name it!  What a great place to enjoy an outdoor outing!

The food here is good, too - Sophia and I shared the roast chicken (my regular!) and obatzda cheese - yum!



As we were leaving the biergarten, we found a bed of wild strawberries!  What a delightful surprise (and snack)!

Ann was so kind to slip us a few slices of her freshly made Rhubarb Cheesecake!  With a cup of tea, this treat was just what we needed to get us packed and back on the road back to Austria!

Thanks everyone for a lovely summer weekend!  This one was one for the books!  Servus!!!

Tuesday Tidbits - Curiouser and Curiouser!

June 9, 2015

 + Finnish people with things on their heads

+ Grubby hands - exposed!

+ Why does hair turn grey?

+ The Lone Ranger was African-American?!

+ Shirt Buttons - men's to the right, women's to the left

+ And, what about the gender symbols, too?

+ So, that's how it works!!

+ Getting to know bed bugs

+ Why cats love a good box

+ Audrey Hepburn and her pet fawn

+ Birds of a feather

+ When you yawn, I yawn...

+ Giant heads found in church!

+ Stairways to heaven

+ Are we running out of space on the Internet?

+ Dumpster diving in NYC

+ Got cavities?

+ Lady laid an egg

+ Don't neglect your handwriting

+ The holes in Swiss cheese

+ Has sex til it just dies...

+ The 'Do Nothing' Summer

+ Fish has a glimpse of our world

+ Google Street View - underwater!

+ Odd ball animal besties!

+ Growing rat arms... what's next?

+ Finally, Barbie turns in the heels for flats!

Summer Begins at Tegernsee

June 7, 2015
View of Tegernsee from North Side, near Gmund

One of the nice things about living in Europe - the days off!  This weekend was another long weekend due to the Feast of Corpus Christi observance this past Thursday.  This day is special as it celebrates the tradition and belief in the body of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  "Corpus" meaning "body" and "Christi" meaning "Christ".

Also, popular in Austria and Germany is fenstertag - or 'window day'.  Let's say, Thursday is a national holiday and Friday is technically a work day.  On a holiday weekend, that Friday is a fenstertag which turns a one day holiday into a FOUR day weekend!  Everone plans their fenstertag days in advance... planning a nice little vacation or road trip.  Let's just say, there are many of these opportunities for mini-vacations throughout the year.  And, you don't want to be the one who forgot!

So, this weekend, we made our way to Tegernsee - a lovely town in the Miesbach district of Bavaria, Germany.  It is situated along the shores of Lake Tegernsee and was about an hours drive from door to door.
The original settlers of this area were the Illyrians during the Stone Age.  They were also found in the Zillertal Valley, which I mentioned in a previous post here.  However, recorded history of the area around Tegernsee began around 6th Century AD with the arrival of the Bavarians. 

The Benedictine Abbey,  also influential in the Kochelsee area, was founded here in 746.  This abbey had strong influences on the development of Southern Bavaria during the Middle Ages.  Fast forward to the Thirty Years' War when this area was infested by the Black Death, one of the most devastating pandemics in human history.

During the Austro-Prussian War and on through to World War II, this area suffered many casualties.  During World War II, the abbey buildings were used as hospitals.  The valley became over crowded from evacuees fleeing from bombing in urban areas.  During the final weeks of the war, the Nazis moved into the valley and began to prepare for a major American advancement coming from Bad Tölz.

As the Americans moved into the area, it was German Army Major, Hannibal Von Lüttichau, (recovering in one of the makeshift hospitals) who convinced the Nazis to withdraw in order to save the town and all of the noncombatanats from imminent bombardment.  Afterward, Major Luttichau walked - uniformed, unarmed, and alone - with a white flag towards the American troops and convinced the commanding officer to spare the town.

Credit: From the Gmund Tourist Map

Our final destination was at the northern end of Lake Tegernsee in the town of Gmund am Tegernsee. It is located near the Mangfall River, which is the left tributary of the Inn River which flows into the city of Rosenheim.

In terms of sight-seeing, we didn't do very much.  Here's a link for a few ideas if you're into churches and old history.   

Gmund, an old paper mill of the same name, is located here. I wrote about this company and their connection to The Acadamy Awards back in the States in a previous blog post here.  There's a funny interview with a Gmund representative who tells the story of their printing machine, affectionately called "The Old Lady", that is the oldest machine in Europe!

Also, not far from Gmund, is the Durnbach War Cemetary.   Here's a link to a photo taken of the military cemetary a year after the withdrawal by Von Lüttichau.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) created the Durnbach War Cemetary as a central war cemetary for mostly members of the Royal Air Force and a few soldiers of other military units.

But, I digress... on to the fun stuff!!!

Paradise Found

As you can see from my photos, we didn't do many touristy things.  This is because the people here (and the folks who flock to this area) make relaxation their priority.  I think it just radiates that summer vacation feeling of rest and well-being... (kind of like Fire Island, but less sandy, for the New Yorkers reading this!)  It's also a major destination for people looking for medical or holistic recuperation or rejuvenation.

Our weekend was definitely relaxing - and summer memories were being made hard core!  Swimming in the lake, playing on the playground, chasing ducks, greeting cows, grilling outside, fresh berries, dripping ice cream cones, rock throwing, and bug catching... so many things! Even a summer thunderstorm - poor Coco!

Spider Girl
El is growing up to be quite an active adventurer.  Seems she may have a bit of a rock climber in her blood.... as well as a swing rider!


I guess we can see where she gets it from!

Brings back old memories!

The lovely old wagon was a constant travel companion - and way cooler than dragging around a double stroller!  I mean, check out this set of wheels!!?


Such a summer memory - waiting in line for food (usually ice cream cones!) but who's complaining?

Next in line for fries!

Vacation Food

Ice Cream!!

Not these two girls!

New Friends

A new rag doll friend was found in the house we stayed at... very cute! I'd like to make one myself!

Down by the lake

Coco's new friend

Coolest Swan on the Lake

Not kidding - this swan was the coolest.  It swam right up to us at the dock.  Auntie Phia even let it nibble her finger.  Usually, the swans that I've met are agressive and hiss.  Once, one even tried to nip Coco in the butt!  But, this guy must be used to all the lakeside tourists... He was awesome... and huge! I've never seen one so close up!

Greeting the Girls

And, more fun meeting animals!  This small herd of cows lived across the river from us.  They were relatively young (around their teenage years) as we could tell from their running and frolicking around the field.  So cute.  And, they love to nibble on fingers, too!

Teenage Cow

All in all, it's the evenings in the summertime that feel so good... when the sun is setting and your body is tired from a day's worth of play... just after dinner, when food coma hits... when eyes get drowsy and peaceful slumber arrives... and when you remember that summer is just beginning and that there are many more weekends to come!

Endless Summer Walks

Live Action Down by the Water

Summer Napping

Tired Kids

Sunset Walks

Can't take any more

Summer Memories

Thank you, Mikel-Phia, Niki, and Alain... for making this weekend so wonderful! xoxo