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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Memories of Streusel Kuchen

When Anita comes to town we go on long walks into the country side. Anita lives in the "big city" and has a charming country house in our little town.

As we parted Anita said that she was going home to bake Streusel Kuchen and that she would be by later with a piece of her famous cake. No one, truly no one bakes Streusel Kuchen like Anita. It is superb. Not too sweet, with a yeast base and a very generous amount of Streusel on the top. Streusel are made of mostly butter, a little sugar and a tiny bit of flour.

I grew up in a small farming community, in East Germany. On Saturdays, our town baker would permit residents to bake their own cakes in his huge ovens. Along with other residents, I would carry a large baking sheet of unbaked Streusel Kuchen on top of my head, through town and to the Baker. We would pick up our finished cakes a few hours later. While carrying the cake, I would eat a few Streusel off of the unbaked cake, not too many Streusel or my Mother would notice.


Monday, March 29, 2010

And the winner is . . . .

After careful consideration, the judges have decided, while they were sober, to award the prize to


Giveaway contest rules March 22, 2010.
Thank you, my dear blogging friends. Look for more giveaways in the near future.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Have you discovered Dill?

Dill is perfect for your flower garden and perfect for your flower arrangements.

It helps keep the water fresh in your vase.

And when it comes time for canning in the Fall, you have an unlimited supply of dill to share with your friends. What about your cucumber salad? How about your salmon dishes? And, most summer salads benefit from a little addition of dill. I can't imagine a potatoe salad without dill.

I even sell it to our local Grocer.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another Bedside Story

The one prerequisite when building a house, a bed on wheels

We were laying marble floors. The bed was rolled wherever we were not. This time in the Dining Room

And this time in the Hallway

And then outside, in the Arcade, under the stars


Friday, March 26, 2010

Simple, Simple

The Weather? You don't want to know. Snow Again? No Flowers yet.

There is alway MOSS

Follow any waterway and you will find moss. Even in cold winter months. Place into deep dish and spray with water every day.

It will grow

I will show you in a week.

And then it will be even more beautiful.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Giveaway, Gardeners Rejoice

Tell me please, what is the most unusual vegetable you have grown in your garden?

Winner will receive 6 original cards, images from my ceramics printed on fine ecru colored cardstock.

Only one entry from each participant will be considered. Giveaway closes midnight (your time), March 28, 2010.

As before, qualified judges will be standing by, drinking champagne in the interim.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ceramic Mural

A pilgrimage to Spello in Umbria

This is only a small section of a large ceramic mural I finished this past week.

The original, painted by Giacomo Mancini, in the mid 1500's, is now located in a side chapel of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Spello, Italy. The ceramic pavement was found in the Baglioni Chapel of the church, beneath the main altar.

It was recently moved to a side chapel, is roped off and covered with heavy Plexiglass panels.

What a disappointment! Having come so far and not even get a glimpse of this fine masterpiece.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Garden

My Garden is never the same, but it only changes a little

Every year I save the best of the best, flower seeds that is. And about April 15th they are sown into the ground. It takes almost all summer for the "big show".

And then we sit back and admire our handiwork


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The front and the back of my house

The moisture is needed in the mountains, but so much snow this late in the season?

Will it ever look like this again? It did last Summer!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Albarello - Albarelli

Have you seen my most favorite maiolica vessel?

Albarelli (plural) were first produced in Italy, near Florence, in the 15th century. An albarello is a jar which holds medicinal herbs and ointments. Originally, very few albarelli were made with lids. Round pieces of parchment or leather, tied with strings, served as coverings. You can still find beautiful examples of albarelli, lining the upper shelves, of local Italian pharmacias.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tickets are purchased

The fun is in the planning

The color was black last year. It was purple the year before. What is the color for 2010?

Pictures taken in shop windows, Colmar, France, September 2009

Will my friends from Europe please help me out? There were indications of ALL WHITE last Fall. Did it stick? Will Europe be wearing white?

That will not work for me. I only pack one little roller suitcase, weighing no more than 20 pounds. I was in style last Fall. Brown and Black are my favorite colors.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hand Painted Easter Eggs

Let's get out the paints, Easter is just around the corner

The portrait of Odette is a tile I painted for a client. It came out of the kiln this morning. The eggs are hand painted with acrylic paints. Start out with polka dots. Use lots of different colors.

Here is how you attach a string or thread to an egg:

Fold thread over and make a loop. Tie the open pieces to THE MIDDLE of a 1 and 1/2 inch PIECE OF STRAW . Drop straw (with string attached) into egg. Jiggle a little. Pull up string.

Voila! Ready for hanging.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What is real and what is faux?

Can you tell?

As you enter and leave Mt. Pleasant (a small town next to our town) you will see 2 very large, 4-sided flower boxes. I was asked to paint the cement rocks so that they would mimic the real thing.

A year has passed and no one is the wiser. They look like natural stone, don't they?

Applying a faux finish to cement is easy. I have painted many cement fireplaces so that they look like marble and every kind of stone you can think of. Even applied gold leaf directly onto cement.

The secret? So simple. Only use water based paints. Paint directly onto cement. Use natural sea sponges and goose feathers and paint each cement "stone" seperately. Seal with a clear sealer such as "Okon".


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Der Fliegenpilz

It was a fine and sunny Sunday morning in the Italian Dolomites
We were hiking in the Dolomites, near Soprapolzano (Oberbozen) Italy when two handsome young Wald Polizei Officers (Forest Wardens) came charging down a mountain, ready to arrest us. Are you hunting mushrooms? Yes, was the answer. Now we WE MUST ARREST YOU! But dear officers, what I meant was that I am hunting mushrooms with my camera. I am looking for the elusive little Fliegenpilz. You see it was Sunday and picking mushrooms is VERBOTEN on Sundays.

We had a difficult time convincing the officers that we were looking for Fliegenpilze to photograph. They noted that there were no Fliegenpilze in the area. They were almost right because these two were hiding very nicely.

The amanita muscari toadstool is known to many children. It is so attractive but oh so poisonous. Did you know that this mushroom can be used as an insecticide? It kills flies if crushed and then sprinkled with milk. The Siberian Shamans used them for inducing a condition, similar to extreme alcohol intoxication. The mushroom is not very toxic, no one has yet died from ingesting it.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wedding Flowers

Needed something to do.

My friends know me. I don't do anything halfway. "Gina's Extravagant Flowers" was born. A few how-to-books, and a few weeks of apprenticeship with a floral designer, I was in business. And then there was a problem, the flowers I wanted to use in my designs were too extravagant and also too expensive for most pocketbooks.

I have worked since I was 15 years old... and then, all of a sudden, I was retired. I have always loved flowers and thought that one day I would have a simple flower stand and sell bunches of flowers for $2.98.

These little girls were thrilled with my headdress designs

And a little more color for the bridesmaids

Mother of the Bride and the Bride. All white with a hint of peach. Extravagant Flowers combined with wild sweet pea vines

A headdress of exotics

I loved working with flowers but I do love painting Italian Renaissance ceramics even more.