Search This Blog

Monday, December 30, 2013

Musik Monday - May You Always

It wouldn't be New Years for me without hearing the bit below.  It's not really music (though it uses Auld Lang Syne in the background), but I thought I'd use it anyway.  The man speaking is Harry Harrison, a radio DJ I grew up hearing daily.  He worked as a DJ from 1953 through 2005, most famously on WMCA, WABC, and WCBSFM.  He not only talked about the music, but also shared personal stories and became a friendly voice for many people.  The clip below was played every year around Christmas and New Year's Day after being recorded in 1965.  You can read the text here, but I'd recommend listening when you have a chance.  It's well wishes and hopes for everyone listening.  It's a small tradition for me that I hope all of you can enjoy.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Easy Ornaments 2: Crochet Snowflakes

Even though Christmas is over, it's still winter and there's still some need for last-minute presents.  I needed something fast but nice for my coworkers' stockings at work earlier this week.  I had ornaments in mind, but knew they'd already seen crocheted ice skates (something for a future post) and my go-to ornaments take a little too long.  This was Sunday evening and I needed them for Monday morning.  I'd seen snowflake ornaments and figured those couldn't take too long.  A few patterns later and I found one that was easy to follow and got me 13 snowflakes for work plus 3 larger ones for other people in just a few hours.

easy crochet snowflake
Coworker Snowflakes

I found the pattern at the Attic 24 blog (note it uses UK, not USA crochet terms) and altered it slightly for some of the snowflakes.  The star-like ones were the first 2 rounds as the pattern explains.  The other ones are Round 1 followed immediately by Round 3.  I wanted them all about the same size, but wanted some variation.  One is bigger because I used a larger hook by accident.  I also didn't stretch and set as the pattern suggested because I was short on time, but they still came out pretty good.  At the very least, it's clear what they're meant to be.

The pattern does not make them ornaments (it doesn't have the loop of string to hang them), but that wasn't a hard fix.  There are 2 options:
-Finish off as the pattern says, cut a piece of yarn a little longer than the loop size you want, and tie it to one of the points.
-Do not cut and finish off normally.  Instead, when the last stitch is complete, cut the yarn several inches from the last stitch.  Thread the yarn through the chains to one of the points.  Once it's through the chain at the point, tie the yarn to itself close to the point.
I like the 2nd option because it's all the same thread and it looks neater and more stable.

It's a really fun pattern, and is right around the beginner level.  You only need to know how to chain and single crochet.  Just remember that once the initial loop is formed, the first round is done in the loop as a whole, not the individual chains that make up the loop.
I'd definitely recommend this for anyone who has a basic grasp of crocheting, especially if they are strapped for time and have extra white yarn lying around.

Have fun and a belated Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Musik Monday: Sesame Street, Santa Claus kommt Heute

Since Christmas is somehow only about a week away, it seemed appropriate to share something Christmasy for Musik Monday.  This is "Santa Claus kommt Heute", translated literally "Santa Claus comes today", better known as "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" done by the cast of Sesame Street (including some Muppet guests).

Even though Sesame Street did come to Germany as Sesamstraße in 1973, two years before this video was made in 1975, this is not an episode of Sesamstraße.  It is from an episode of Peter Alexander präsentiert Spezialitäten (Peter Alexander presents Specialties), a popular German variety show that aired on ZDF.  Peter Alexander was an Austrian entertainer who both acted and sang.  He eventually transitioned to TV in the 60's.  His variety show first aired in black and white from 1963-1966.  ZDF then picked it up in 1969, aired it in color, and continued with it through 1996.  It was an extremely popular show through its entire run.

This episode featured Peter Alexander traveling to America to visit Sesame Street for a Christmas special.  Though this clip only features the puppets singing, he joined them in singing and dancing.  I think my favorite parts are Bert's Santa outfit and Ernie's lederhosen.  

Look at how adorable they are!

The puppets were originally voiced by their American voice actors and the sound was later dubbed to German.  This episode was #1 in 1975.  It had were 38 million German viewers and more in other German-speaking countries.  I honestly was never a Sesame Street fan (my favorite was Grover...I think that says a lot about how I felt about the show), but this I enjoy! I should thank my mom for sharing this with me in the first place :)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

German-American Spotlight: Thomas Nast

Thomas Nast is at the top of my list of heroes.  However, when I share that with most people, they give me a blank look then politely smile and nod as if I'm not crazy for admiring a man most have never heard of.  What's really crazy though, is how unknown he is considering how much he influenced the American culture.

This topic usually comes up at Christmastime for me when there's talk about Santa Claus.  Today alone, I've probably replied to at least 10 people who insisted that the image of Santa Claus we use was a creation of Coca Cola.  As much as I try to avoid soda, I love Coca Cola (especially mixed with Fanta...if you've never had spezi, you haven't lived).  They suspended brand advertising to donate money to the Phillippines after the typhoon hit in November 2013.  They have a good product and do some great things.

However, Coca Cola did not create Santa Claus.  Thomas Nast did.  And he did a whole lot more than provide us with the image of Santa Claus we all know today.

Thomas Nast self portrait
Thomas Nast's self portrait