The journey of a thousand miles begins with...the perfect pair of shoes.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Samhain!

Back before Halloween became a sugar induced candy grab populated by polyester wearing little goblins, it was known as Samhain (pronounced SOW-in).  Being that I homeschool Indy, and he's curious about pretty much everything, we spent a few days learning about the origins of Halloween.  Since there are soooo many misconceptions about Halloween (Satan, Devil worshiping, etc), I thought I'd share some information with all  my readers.

Samhain, means "End of Summer", and is the third and final Harvest. The dark winter part of the year commences on this day.  The Celts divided the year into four quarters: Samhain (winter), Imbolc (spring), Beltane (summer), and Lughnasadh (autumn). The Celtic year began in November, with Samhain. The Celts were influenced principally by the lunar and stellar cycles which governed the agricultural year - beginning and ending in autumn when the crops have been harvested and the soil is prepared for the winter.

It is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November 1st. It is one of the two "spirit-nights" each year, the other being Beltane (May 1). 

Originally the "Feast of the Dead" was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the "wandering dead". Today a lot of practitioners still carry out that tradition. Single candles were lit and left in a window to help guide the spirits of ancestors and loved ones home. Extra chairs were set to the table and around the hearth for the unseen guest. Apples were buried along roadsides and paths for spirits who were lost or had no descendants to provide for them. Turnips were hollowed out and carved to look like protective spirits, for this was a night of magic and chaos. This has evolved into today's practice of carving Jack O'Lanterns.  The Wee Folke became very active, pulling pranks on unsuspecting humans. Traveling after dark was was not advised. People dressed in white (like ghosts), wore disguises made of straw, or dressed as the opposite gender in order to fool the Nature spirits.

This was the time that the cattle and other livestock were slaughtered for eating in the ensuing winter months. Any crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo, and left as offerings to the Nature spirits. Bonfires were built, (originally called bone-fires, for after feasting, the bones were thrown in the fire as offerings for healthy and plentiful livestock in the New Year) and stones were marked with peoples names. Then they were thrown into the fire, to be retrieved in the morning. The condition of the retrieved stone foretold of that person's fortune in the coming year. Hearth fires were also lit from the village bonfire to ensure unity, and the ashes were spread over the harvested fields to protect and bless the land. 

When the Romans made contact with the Celts, they added their feast of the dead to Samhain. The Christians subverted the recognition of Samhain to honor the saints, as All Saint's Day on November 1st and named October 31 as All Hallow's Eve. This latter became a secular holiday by the name of Hallowe'en. Although using different nomenclatures, all of these festivals and feasts are celebrating the accessibility, veneration, awe, and respect of the dead

I wish you all a happy and safe Halloween!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Indy for President 2040!

Back when we lived in TN, Indy went to the most amazing preschool, where they called him "The Senator" because of his hatred for injustice of any kind. If two kids were arguing he would walk up to them and ask "What's the problem?" and try to mediate the issue. It was ridiculously cute. Fast forward to the present day.  He still hates injustice, doesn't like when people don't get along and likes to mediate.  And talk.  Always with the talking.

Indy and I usually eat lunch around 12:30-1pm every day. Because of the time difference between here and the US, we watch the Today Show while we eat. With all the mid-term election brouhaha going on, he's taken a real interest in politics. We were eating on Friday and this was our conversation:

Indy: How old do you have to be to be President?
Me: At least 35, I think.
Indy: Maybe I should be President when I'm older.
Me: You think? What would you do?
Indy: Well, I would give food to the people who don't have any.
Me: That's a good idea. What eles?
Indy: Well...there's lots of empty buildings and houses in America, so I would put all the homeless people in the empty buildings and houses. I'd also stop the dolphin slaughter, but Obama should be taking care of that. If he doesn't though, I definitely would.
Me:  Sounds like you'll be busy.
Indy:  Yeah, but I'll be an awesome President.  When can I be President?
Me:  (thinking and adding with my fingers in my head)  You can run in 2040.
Indy:  That's a long time from now.
Me:  Not so long.
Indy:  Yeah, and it will give me lots of time to think about how I'm going to fix stuff.  Plus, I can be an archaeologist first and then be President.
Me:  Good plan.
Indy:  Yeah, I know.  That's why I'm going to be such a good President.  I have good plans.

So, in 30 years, vote for the former archaeologist. He has good plans.  Plus, look at this face.  How could you not vote for him?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pretty Feet

Apparently since I wear heels a lot, I'm sort of an expert at feet. I've gotten quite a few emails asking me how I take care of my feet! Isn't that funny? I've replied to a couple, but decided to dedicate an entire blog post to taking care of the tootsies.

You might not think about them, unless they hurt, but your feet are super important!  They carry you around all day, put up with whatever shoes you wear, bear your weight across sand, grass or whatever and get very little love.  You need to take care of them!  Even in the winter, when they're encased in boots they need a little TLC.

During the spring and summer, weather permitting, I usually wear open toe shoes or slingbacks.  There's nothing worse than someone who has nasty chipped up nail polish in open toe shoes or gross cracked heels in slingbacks.  Ick.  If you're going to wear pretty shoes, have pretty feet!

Back in the day, when I made money, I would splurge on bi-monthly pedicures.  I loves me a good pedicure, but you don't have to spend a ton of money to have nice feet.

A wonderful, relaxing thing to do is soak your feet!  Ah, this is heavenly!  You don't need a fancy bubbly, massaging foot bath (though this is nice!), just a bowl or tub large enough to hold your feet and a few inches of water will work.  If you have a really large mixing bowl that will even work in a pinch.  Fill it with warm (not hot) water and toss in a handful of (grandmother recommended) Epsom Salt.  You can buy a HUGE box of Epsom salt for just a few dollars and it lasts forever.  Sometimes Indy will take a bath and instead of a bedtime story, I'll read to him while he's in the bath and pop my feet in his is warm bath water.  This is a win/win!  He gets a chapter or two from the book we're reading and I get a nice soak.  Sometimes (bless him) he'll even rub my feet while I read!  I am a lucky mom.  During the summer when you're hot and cranky, soaking your feet in a tub of cool water will make you feel better.  Your feet will thank you.

By far the most important things your feet need after a long day is rest and moisture.  Moisture, moisture, moisture!  The best tip for soft feet I ever learned came from my grandmother.  We have all kinds of creams and gels and scrubs now for feet, but grandmother's already knew what they were doing, and cheaply!  Want to know my favorite tip?  Of course you do or you wouldn't have read this far.  It's Vaseline or just petroleum jelly.  Uh, huh.  Those weird little yellowish jars with the blue lid hold the secret to pretty feet. 
My grandmother used to slather it on her feet every night and put on a pair of cotton socks before going to bed.  She did the same for her hands, with a pair of cotton gloves.  I can't do the gloves, but I remember my grandmother had the softest smoothest hands of any woman I've ever known.

If you've read my blog for a while, you know I can't sleep in socks.  I've mentioned it on more than one occasion.  I seriously feel like I'm suffocating if I wear socks to bed.  Isn't that weird?  Even in the dead of winter, when my feet are, according to James Bond, wicked little icicles that he can feel cold radiating from across the bed, I can't sleep in socks.  I do however care about my feet, so 2-3 times a week, I will slather my feet up really well with Vaseline and pull on a pair of cotton socks.  At some point during the night though, I take them off.  I don't know how or when I do it, but in the morning my socks are on the floor.  It's okay though because the Vaseline has soaked in and my feet are smooth and soft.  It is important to (gently) file off any rough skin you might have, but if you use the Vaseline, you won't have very much.  I've also found that the Vaseline left on my hands can be rubbed in really well and won't be greasy, giving me the added bonus of soft hands (no cotton gloves needed).  This has nothing to do with feet, but in the winter Vaseline is also wonderful to rub on your lips before you go to bed (before rubbing your feet of course).

During the winter I usually take a break from nail polish, but in the spring and summer, it's a must!  A good polish should last about 3-4 days and then you need to redo it.  I usually do 2 coats of color.  It doesn't take much time, but it's well worth the effort.  I hate seeing scraped up chipping nail polish.  If you can't keep it neat, don't wear it at all!

If you do this all winter, come spring, when our feet are ready to burst out of their sassy boots, you will have open toe/sling back ready skin and sexy toes you won't mind showing off.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pottery Barn, Eat Your Heart Out!

Now, we all love Pottery Barn. Their stuff is gorgeous and makes us all wish we lived a cleaner, neater, prettier, PB style lives. The interwebs are FULL of PB knock offs and their catalog is like porn for women. What many of us don't like about PB are their prices. Honestly, they are ridiculous.
This past weekend was the AMAZING Heidelberg Holiday Bazaar, which is put on my by the HD Community Spouses Club (of which I am a member). The bazaar brings vendors from all over Europe and is just amazing. The prices have been jacked up a little, but it's cheaper than traveling to Turkey for rugs or scouring various antique markets throughout France or Sweden or Germany for the perfect buffet or china hutch. The vendors range from antiques to chocolates, to cheeses, to wines, to Scandinavian sweaters, to Italian pottery, to Russian china. Seriously, if you can imagine it, it's probably there. It happens over Columbus Day weekend every year and is a much anticipated event.
While wandering through the maze of vendors, I came across a few things I'd seen in the PB catalog that made my heart skip a beat, but at a price that made my debit card run for cover.

See these dough bowls?  Aren't they gorgeous?  If you buy them from PB, they range $199-$249.  Are you kidding me?   Look what I found at the Bazaar:

Isn't it gorgeous?  Want to know what I paid?  $47.  That's right, $47.  It's HUGE!  Those are real apples in there!

For over a year I've been obsessed with baguette boards.  They are harder to find in Germany and I've only seen a few, but didn't like them for one reason or another.  At the Bazaar, vendors had them by the barrel full (literally, they were displayed in open top wine barrels) and I had so many to choose from.  Here is the PB version for $129:

Pretty!  There were at least a hundred of these at the bazaar.  I picked them up, looked them over, weighed them in my hands (some were heavy, some were light depending on the wood used to carve them) and tried not to giggle over the price.  I chose one that wasn't as neat and smooth as the PB version.  I liked its roughness.

And I paid $35 for it!  Could you die from the pretty????  I can use it for so many different seasons or for serving breads at the holidays.  I love it!!!!

Of course, I don't get all my cool stuff from the Bazaar.  A lot of our vintage decor comes from flea markets.   I love old cameras.  I do NOT love PB's price for them though.  $149, each?  Check out my collection:

The most I paid for any of them was 10 Euro (about $13).

PB no longer has the found seltzer bottles on their site, but these found soda bottles (which I will be looking for at the next flea market) are close enough.  Would I pay $69?  Nope.  For my vintage seltzer bottle, I paid 12 Euro ($15).   I'm on the hunt for more!  I really liked this one because of the streaky glass.

$149 vintage sled? Meet my $25 version (decorated for Easter because I have no current pics):

I realize how very lucky I am to live in Europe where I can find all of these wonderful items for a fraction of what I would pay if I had to buy them in the States. I'm thinking of starting my own stockpile and opening up an online shop with much, much lower prices than PB. :)

I'm linking up with Amanda.

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

RTT: Halloween, Indy and suicidal lemons


So, there's loads of stuff going on in my world.  I've been a slacker blogger lately.  Sorry about that.  I'll try to do better.  I hate to keep you all waiting and wondering.  I know you totally miss me when I don't post.  Right?  RIGHT? Yeah, you do. Let's get on with the random, shall we?

*I'm starting to worry that Coco thinks her name is "Coco, No!"

*I've got a secret. Hopefully I'll tell you soon.

*I'm making Indy make up sentences for his spelling words and it's quite entertaining.

*I went to the HD Holiday Bazaar over the weekend and it was fantastic! There are so many vendors of cheese, chocolate and wine who give out free samples over and over again of everything they have for sale. What's not to like? I bought some cool stuff too, but more on that another time.

*I'm S-L-O-W-L-Y decorating for Halloween. I'm afraid by the time I get it done, Halloween will be over. Perhaps I should get off the computer? Hahahahahah! Wow, I crack myself up sometimes!

*Speaking of Halloween, Indy is dressing up as Han Solo this year. He's been Indiana Jones of course, and now I'm beginning to think that maybe he just really likes Harrison Ford. I've been thinking what we could dress him up as next. An Amish man (Witness)? The President (Air Force One)? A Blade Runner (Blade Runner)? A CIA Agent (Patriot Games)? A Russian Sub Captain (K-19: The Widowmaker)? Or a doctor who runs around waving a prosthetic arm yelling that he didn't kill anyone (The Fugitive)? The possibilities are endless!!!!!

*Why do people act like such idiots outside the glass windows of the Today Show? They should be ashamed of themselves.

*Seriously, George Cloony is hot. He gets hotter every year. Somehow that doesn't seem fair, does it? Don't worry though, Johnny Depp will always be my number 1. Call me, Johnny!

*The Amazing Race is one of my favorite "reality" shows.  In fact, I think it's probably the only one I like.  I am, however, ridiculously embarrassed by how stupid Americans can be.  If you watch the show, you know what I mean.

*This past week would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday.  Can you "Imagine" (sorry, I couldn't resist) an old John Lennon?  Think he'd still be a hippy?  Paul, George (RIP) and Ringo all seem to have mellowed out over the years, but I just don't think John would have.  I also wonder if he would be as popular if he were still alive or if people would roll their eyes when they saw him and think "Oh, there goes that crazy old John Lennon again, acting like he knows what's going on."  Just a thought.

*This is generally my take on laundry, but perhaps it should be written on ALL men's clothes?

*And finally, just because it makes me giggle, I thought I'd share this A suicidal lemon:

Hit the weird button up there and join in the random.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Halloween wreath: Nevermore!

A few weeks ago, I saw the most amazing (and inexpensive) wreath over on Katydid and Kid and HAD to make one.  HAD. TO. MAKE. ONE.  I had 4 ravens that I bought last year after Halloween and knew when I saw this project that one of them would be perfect for it.  She posted a really good tutorial, so I won't get into it.  If you want to know how to do it, click her link.
It didn't take that long and was really easy!  I couldn't find as big a wreath form as I wanted, so it's a bit on the small side, but I still love it.   What do you think????

Spooky, huh?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Our new girl!!!!

Our family has gotten bigger!!! Look at this sweet face!

We have been looking for a female pug for a few weeks now and I decided to put an ad in the Stars and Stripes. It was up for 3 days when I got an email from a family who had this 10 month old girl that, due to allergies, they had to get rid of.  We wanted her from the second we saw the first photo they sent.  Indy and I drove to Ansbach yesterday and brought her home.  She is the sweetest thing.  Dutch and Arf aren't quite sure what to make of her yet, but as you can see, she's made herself quite at home. 

Her original name was Livia, but we decided to rechristen her, Coco.  She's already answering to it and gives the sweetest kisses.   Could you resist her?  She looks big in the pics, but she's really not.  I weighed her this morning and she came in at just over 8lbs.  She's excitable and wiggly and so lovable.  James Bond is absolutely crazy about her.  Indy thinks she's adorable (which she is) and I'm just happy to have another girl in the house.

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