Third week of Advent - Mrs Winter Creates

Looking Back at Advent

It feels like a week ago Advent began, yet it is already over. We have really enjoyed all of the little things to do getting ready for this time, the time to honour the child-like, the precious, the innocent and the equal-ness of all people.

We began with an advent calendar that I picked up from a local bookshop here in Berlin. It is really the most sweet thing. The little picture below shows what Miss K called the doctor’s house – as you can see, when we opened the window, there was an advent wreath with four candles burning in it. More on the advent wreath later.

Advent Calendar - Mrs Winter Creates

Advent Calendar – Mrs Winter Creates

Miss K and I made about 5 large sheets of stamped wrapping paper early on in Advent. I carved out some stamps from corks and we used plant-based watercolour paints to do our work.

Home made stamps - Mrs Winter Creates

Home made stamps – Mrs Winter Creates

Home made stamps - Mrs Winter Creates

Home made stamps – Mrs Winter Creates

Home made stamps - Mrs Winter Creates

Home made stamps – Mrs Winter Creates

Home made stamps - Mrs Winter Creates

Home made stamps – Mrs Winter Creates

The paper we used was filling in some boxes we had sent to us, so it was a great upcycle kind of activity.

We also got to work on a very German custom of making cookies and giving them as gifts. The first batch were chocolate, but we also made vanilla, ginger and winter-spice cookies. Our neighbours and the mail-man got a little bag each (wrapped in our home-made paper).

Cookies - Mrs Winter Creates

Cookies – Mrs Winter Creates

I also bought a very simple advent wreath for our table. I set the candles on it by forcing a sewing needle into the bottom end of each and then poking it through the wreath (which has a straw base inside).

Warm light - Mrs Winter Creates

Warm light – Mrs Winter Creates

During my school’s winter market I was able to buy some very beautiful ceramic decorations. I wanted to make some myself but ran out of time, so this was a blessing.

Ceramic Christmas decorations - Mrs Winter Creates

Ceramic Christmas decorations – Mrs Winter Creates

Heart - Mrs Winter Creates

Heart – Mrs Winter Creates

Miss K, who has her birthday in November, took some convincing that the candles were not birthday candles (‘Marmelade in der Schue’ anyone?) and did not need blowing out. In the end she learnt the word ‘candle’ and was able to make the leap.

Smiley season - Mrs Winter Creates

Smiley season – Mrs Winter Creates

In the last few days of Advent, as the little wax figurines of Mary and Joseph came closer toward the Christmas tree, Miss K became really excited that Mary has a baby Jesus in her belly. She was so careful not to touch the figurines. Finally on Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph stood under the tree and a baby Jesus was before them.

We ate our dinner and Miss K and I went to see if we could see the first star in the sky. When we came back there were presents around the tree.

Christmas Tree - Mrs Winter Creates

Christmas Tree – Mrs Winter Creates

These last few weeks have been very special and quiet. Now snow finally lines the streets and we all stay indoors and enjoy the quietude. Wishing you all the best for the new year!

Mrs Winter Creates - having a good look at our candle

Saint Martin’s Day – lantern walk

There are some lovely traditions and festivals done by most families here in Berlin. One of my favourites is definitely St. Martin’s Day with it’s bonfires, feasts and lantern walks.

Unfortunately, we were a bit too ill to go to the planned St. Martin’s celebration at Miss K’s Kita. I was rather sad that I had to miss this first, reverent, celebration with our community there. I made Miss K a lantern anyway hoping to jump onto someone else’s walk on the Tuesday night.

I made the lantern out of an upturned distilled water bottle with the bottom cut off. We screwed the candle to the lid on the inside and were able to take it out and easily light it. On the outside I had autumn leaves glued between butter paper (I couldn’t find wax paper that you can just iron together – best craft paper ever). I taped some leaves on the join to finish it off, tied it through 4 holes with wool and hooked it onto a purpose made stick I bought.

Mrs Winter Creates - autumn leaf lantern

Mrs Winter Creates – autumn leaf lantern

Mrs Winter Creates - autumn leaf lantern

Mrs Winter Creates – autumn leaf lantern after some use…

On the Monday night we did some practice in our living room. We had sung the lantern song on Sunday just holding leaves (when I had a voice), so I only had to whisper it Monday night to have Miss K singing and walking along.

Mrs Winter Creates - living room walk with lantern

Mrs Winter Creates – living room walk with lantern

Mrs Winter Creates - living room walk with lantern

Mrs Winter Creates – living room walk with lantern

We put a hoop in the middle of the room and piled leaves in it to have as a kind of fire. Actually, usually people congregate to sing around such a fire and do the lantern walk through the neighbourhood in procession.

Mrs Winter Creates - warming her toes by the 'fire'

Mrs Winter Creates – warming her toes by the ‘fire’

There are LED lights you can buy for lanterns to make them safer, but I just love a candle in the right place. So does Miss K of course!

Mrs Winter Creates - having a good look at our candle

Mrs Winter Creates – having a good look at our candle

On Tuesday we organised with another family from the Kita to take a walk around the neighbourhood with our lanterns. There were many other families and some groups doing the same. It’s a lovely mood and the children recognise each other having their lanterns – everyone is doing something together and that feels good.

Mrs Winter Creates - out on our walk

Mrs Winter Creates – out on our walk

I really hope that next year we are well enough to go to our Kita’s celebration to sing and eat and walk, but I am satisfied that we got to do something for this wonderful celebration.

Mrs Winter Creates - enjoying home baked bread

Bread smells like home

We have been ill the last week with a flu that has left me voiceless, which is an interesting thing with Miss K who now repeats all I say in a whisper.

Here in Berlin, things are truly closed on Sunday except for occasional bakeries, mini-marts and cafes. I enjoy the luxury of a spend-free day. I didn’t have any bread today though, so I thought I’d make some. No sour dough this time; I followed this recipe with the exception of adding two teaspoons of honey as I thought the yeast might need something to grow on.

Mrs Winter Creates - white bread

Mrs Winter Creates – white bread

Miss K loved working the dough, though I made no photos and just enjoyed the moment. The bread is delicious and worked out a lot better than I had expected. I let it rise in a warmed oven for a lot longer than 1 hour.

Mrs Winter Creates - enjoying the bread

Mrs Winter Creates – enjoying the bread

Miss K definitely preferred the inside, but I didn’t mind as I found the crust the best.

And once we were done we cleaned…

Mrs Winter Creates - cleaning

Mrs Winter Creates – cleaning

She really did help me with all those dishes, but also spilt some water around. This only meant that some of the other kitchen surfaces also got cleaned…

Mrs Winter Creates - cleaning

Mrs Winter Creates – cleaning

Mrs Winter Creates - cleaning

Mrs Winter Creates – cleaning

Mrs Winter Creates - cleaning

Mrs Winter Creates – cleaning

Sadly, I won’t be going to work tomorrow (I’m really enjoying teaching again). Miss K will be going to her Kindy and I think she will enjoy it – especially as we will be sharing a lantern walk in the evening.

Pomegranate juice painting - Mrs Winter Creates

Painting with pomegranate juice

It’s been some months since I have written and I hope you don’t mind the wait while we have been moving countries. We are in Berlin now and enjoying the remarkably great weather since July. I’m back into my teaching (and loving it! If you are a pedagogeek like me, you might enjoy my education journal that I keep), Miss K is enjoying Kita tremendously and our family has finally settled into our new home.

Before we left Australia a few of my posts for Mrs Winter Creates were put on hold because of the move. I’d like to share one of them with you now, fully written some 3 or so months ago. It is about a subject close to my heart – natural pigments. I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to blogging more here about the projects I’ve been focussing on in our new apartment.

I am so excited to share my newest project with you.

It could also be considered one of my oldest projects.

About 15 years ago when I was studying fine art at university, I began experimenting with fruit juice (mainly pomegranate, tamarillo and berry juices), calc, alum and rust to create abstract and minimalist paintings. I saw the transformation of their colour as alchemical and at the time I did not fully understand the chemical reasons behind the colour changes, thinking it rested solely in the oxidisation process. This whole experiment is something I have been meaning to get back to since that time; recently I have been taking the time to do so.

Painting with pomegranate juice - Mrs Winter Creates

Painting with pomegranate juice – Mrs Winter Creates

I am working with a number of different ripeness’ of juice and rind of pomegranates in the process and have also used lemon juice in parts of certain paintings to gain some colour variation. In these paintings I have strong lilac, purple, yellow, pink, browns, prussian blue, cobalt and magenta. I remember being able to get a green as well, but as of yet I have not rediscovered this process.

Painting with pomegranate juice - Mrs Winter Creates

Painting with pomegranate juice – Mrs Winter Creates

I prepared some of the paints about a week ago and have kept them in the fridge to preserve them. Once Miss K goes down for the night, I sit and experiment; it is like a meditation. Sometimes Mr Winter and I sit together working, he reads or draws and I glide a wet brush against watercolour paper with intention.

I like to sit and watch the colours change. Many begin as pink or red; they dry and a hint of a future hue appears. The paint pools in a corner or edge, there is a grain of seed flesh that creates punctuation to a field of colour. Subtle variations of hue can be observed in every dried mark, that is the beauty of plant based colour. It leaves me in awe and in love.

Painting with pomegranate juice - Mrs Winter Creates

Painting with pomegranate juice – Mrs Winter Creates

These paintings do change with time, they become more muted over the years and tend toward a yellow-green as they mature. The change itself speaks of a natural transformation of organic elements, yet a strong impression remains. I considered preserving the paintings against UV rays and other ageing elements, but this would be dishonest to the process; and the process is central to the work.

Painting with pomegranate juice - Mrs Winter Creates

Painting with pomegranate juice – Mrs Winter Creates

I love natural pigments and dyes. I would probably be quite satisfied dedicating my life to learning about and using them, though I believe soon enough my teaching and philosophy itch would set in.

 

Rope wool feeder basket - Mrs Winter Creates

Rope basket for balls of wool

I don’t know about you, but when I knit one of two things happen – ball of wool slowly makes a run for it and ends up around toddler or toddler slowly makes a run for it (eyes fixed on me) with my ball of wool. There is not so much I can do about the second problem as Miss K has a knack of getting into everything these days, but I finally got around to tackling the escapee wool situation.

I would love to have one of those ceramic ball-of-wool holders, but it wouldn’t last long. I had surplus rope and thought to give it a crack with that.

Coiled rope basket project - Mrs Winter Creates

Coiled rope basket project – Mrs Winter Creates

My original idea was to make a closable sphere with a small hole for the yarn to feed through. I made the opening by holding one round using red thread that would be cut later.

Red thread used to hold shape - Mrs Winter Creates

Red thread used to hold shape – Mrs Winter Creates

Red thread cut off to create opeining - Mrs Winter Creates

Red thread cut off to create opeining – Mrs Winter Creates

I left the hole in the top should I want to put two balls of wool in there and a handle so that it could be hung on certain things. I fastened it with a button and ribbon.

Button and ribbon fastening - Mrs Winter Creates

Button and ribbon fastening – Mrs Winter Creates

It did not sit so well when hung, as you can see in the above photo. This wasn’t so good and then quality control came along…

Quality control - Mrs Winter Creates

Quality control – Mrs Winter Creates

What's inside there? - Mrs Winter Creates

What’s inside there? – Mrs Winter Creates

The wool was quickly evicted and my creation deformed. I decided to take it apart a bit and keep it simple. Miss K was going to get into it anyways; ‘I’ll make it a little less interesting’, I thought.

Finished yarn feeder basket - Mrs Winter Creates

Finished yarn feeder basket – Mrs Winter Creates

I’ve started making little woollen dolls using the basket to hold the yarn and it is great. Miss K has used it a few times, mostly as a baby in her mini stroller, but it has been relatively safe. I really love how it looks like a skep (beehive basket).

Has anyone else got any other contraptions to help with escapee balls of wool?

 

Polish vegetable salad - Mrs Winter Creates

Sałatka jarzynowa – Polish vegetable salad

I’ve been requested recently to post a recipe for my polish vegetable salad. It’s my own doing, I brought it to mother’s day – and it is rather delicious.

The work in this salad is mainly in cutting everything up into tiny cubes. It’s a good meal to make in a small kitchen as it doesn’t take much space if you are organised.

The following recipe is for a large container full. It doesn’t last as long as it looks it should. I personally hide portions of it away from the hubby in the fridge so that it lasts more than a few hours.

 

Ingredients:

5 eggs
750g of potato
2 large carrots
1 cup of peas
1 cup of celery (or celeriac – which would have been boiled)
2 large green apples
4 Tbs of mayonnaise
2 Tbs of joghurt
1 Tbs of seeded mustard (as in the condiment)

 

Instructions:

Peel all your vegies and fruit. Cut potatoes and carrots into halves lengthwise for easier cutting later.

Boil the eggs, peas, potatoes, carrots (and celeriac if you are using this) until they are hard/soft.

Cut everything into tiny cubes (about half a centimetre squared) and put it into a large bowl, dish or container. Add the mayonnaise, joghurt and mustard and stir through evenly, but gently.

If you like salt and pepper, you could add a bit of that too.

Hide, or enjoy with buttered bread.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Improvisational pleating, folded

I’ve been working on the Tinny dress from Straightgrain for her improvisational pleating contest and today I finished my entry.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

My improvisational pleating technique was to create deep pin-tucks in the red fabric with folded pieces of the contrasting floral fabric wedged inside. This is then folded to one side and creates a small flap. I featured this detail on the cuffs and the hem of the skirt and decided not to use it on the collar.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

The red material I used is a light and soft cotton fabric, matte on one side and slightly shiny on the other. It is lightweight while the floral print is medium weight and this caused some difficulty with the finishing on the feature pleats, but all in all, I think it worked quite splendidly!

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

The floral fabric is called Breezy and is by P&B Textiles. The flowers are from a watercolour painting and they are bright and soft. I don’t usually go for such bright fabrics, but sometimes it is worth living a little on the wild side.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

I made a size 2 as soon enough Miss K will be growing out of her mountain of 12-18 month old clothing and I need to prepare. I didn’t quite manage to make the zip invisible somehow, but I am telling myself that this will give it a bit more room for future growth spurts…

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

I put piping on the sleeve end, around the waist and at the hem. I think the hem would have finished up better if I had put it on both sides of the pleated detail. The fabric’s shouting colours tend to draw the eye from the dress’ imperfections, thank goodness.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

As I chased Miss K around the park, the dress got quite a few comments. It is rather nerve-racking chasing a socialite toddler around a park with lots of water. I’m glad I made the effort and went outside – it was a glorious, mild day and we met some new friends.

Thanks to An of Straightgrain for this fun task, it’s my first ever contest entry and I think the result was worth the effort. On the 21st (that is in 4 days) she will be opening a link-party, where you can see what other people have done and vote for your favourite. I hope I’ve made myself a contender, I’m also really looking forward to seeing any nifty pleating techniques that others have created to use in my future projects.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

And dear reader, you still have a few days to get your own project underway and finished! Maybe I’ll see you at the link party?

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