86. Cinnamon Stars

Yay, I made my first Christmas buiscuits this year! :) A mass of stars:

They are incredibly delicious - and surprisingly soft! (I kept hearing people say that it's quite a challenge to keep them from becoming too hard... looks like I found the perfect recipe.^^) But careful! They might give you a sweetness overdose. ;)

This is the miraculous recipe I used (I'm translating the German one without much knowledge of English kitchen terms, so please forgive the use of some unusual expressions^^) :

for the dough:
450 g ground almonds
250 g icing sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 egg whites
2 tbs. almond liqueur
for the icing:
1 egg white
125 g icing sugar

Mix dry ingredients for the dough, then add egg whites and liqueur. Knead everything until evenly smooth. Spread some icing sugar on a surface and roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out stars of approx. 2 inches (dip cutter in icing sugar every now and then) and place them on a baking sheet (or rather: two) lined with parchment.
Beat the egg white for the icing until it's stiff, keep beating and gradually add icing sugar. Spread icing on the stars (using a pastry brush or a spoon).
Bake in preheated oven at 150°C (300°F) for 10-15 minutes.
Enjoy! :)


85. Fröbelstern

Fröbelsterne - so called after their creator Friedrich Fröbel - are also known as 'German Stars' and are something like a must-do if you commit to making Christmas stars. I vaguely remember having made one or two many (many!) years ago, so it's high time to pick up some paper strips again. :)

Originally, I had intended to make a mobile out of several of them, but after having completed two, I've quite had my fill. This is an example where 'just any ordinary paper' will not do. First of all, cutting your own paper strips will most definitely not work (if you don't have a cutting machine) because they need to be perfectly straight and all of the exact same width. Secondly, the paper is far too soft and some strips may not be stiff enough in the end to slide beneath others yet again. (Gift ribbon would be a great material for this but I don't have any at the moment.)

As of that as well as a lack of energy (Tuesday again... ;)) I'm not posting the how-to here, but there are tons of instructions floating about the web, including videos - should be easy to find in case someone wants to take on this challenge.^^

P.S.: The are two-sided:


84. Twisted-Paper Star

Mum just reminded me that when we were kids we had the same philosophy of decorating during Advent season that I'm having now: every day just a little bit more. That's what it's about, isn't it? Waiting, for something that is slowly drawing near - not 'everything at once and as much as possible!' 
So, tonight, I put up the first Advent star on my wall! :)

I had to use a flash for the picture so the three-dimensional character does not quite show. But you can always find out by making one yourself for Christmas decoration purposes (or any other...):

Take 6 square sheets of paper (avarage printing paper works fine). Start with one square and fold it diagonally, then fold the triangle in the middle:
Make four cuts from the partly open bottom side to the central fold but not all the way through. Then open the paper flat again:
Roll the two innermost strips (in this case the triangles) upwards and glue them together. Then repeat with the next two but to the other side:
Continue like that with all strips - and the first spike of the star is finished:
Repeat with the five other squares. Then glue two times three of them together - at the tip and the sides - to get the two halves of the final star (I forgot to take a picture, so here the two halves are already partly glued to each other):
When glueing the tow halves together it might be easier to start with the tips - I thought about that a little too late. But it worked like this as well.^^


83. Little Paper Strip Stars

Okay, so today was the beginning of Advent season - and that means I'll be making Advent stars now. What I have in mind is mostly decoration (After many years I will finally have a properly decorated place during the time before Christmas) but there will probably be some others, too.

The stars I made this evening - while finally taking the time to just sit on the couch and watch quality TV - are an addition to yesterday's Advent wreath decoration:


They are extraordinarily simple to make, als you need is a strip of paper (mine were about 30 cm long and 1 cm wide), and possibly scissors but you can always rip the paper if needed.

Take the paper strip and make a knot on one end which you press flat:
Cut (or rip) off the short end, then start wrapping the long end around the pentagon shaped knot. It folds more or less automatically in the right direction. Keep wrapping until you have only a short end left:
Slide the end under the top layer of the wrapping:
 Cut off the end:
Now use your fingernails (I've tried: it does work with short ones as well ;)) to push dents into all five sides. Then you'll have the star. :)

P.S.: I call it 'Hoshi' which is simply the Japanese word for 'star', because the friend who taught me how to make it had learned this from some Japanese exchange students if I remember correctly.^^

82. Advent Wreath Star

I was quite excited about this one - yet another experience I haven't made before: I made my very own Advent wreath. And since I'm slightly overambitious, I couldn't just decorate it with stars, no! It had to be shaped like a star itself. I'm not conviced that it's a good idea to make any other shape than an actual wreath if you have never done this before... But, oh well, I couldn't help myself. So, here's my Advent star, complete with decoration and four candles:

It's a bit of a challenge at the moment to be satified with anything I do, but I think I can accept this result and keep it on my table until Christmas. :)

P.S.: I know it's a little late, but I left the house at 8:45 this morning and just returned about 20 minutes ago, having spent a fabulous night with a rather large round of people playing 'Werwolves' - a party game elsewhere called Mafia, Assassins or Witch Hunt. I had never played it with that many special characters and it was so much fun! I can't wait for the next opportunity! :D


81. Coat of Arms with Stars

Right, today's final result has been the work of many hours over many months: I finally finished designing my very own coat of arms!

I must have been about 14 years old when I first wanted to do this. A few months ago, the idea resurfaced and I started working on it again. Not long after my star project began, I contemplated the possibility of adding a star (or several) to the design and I played around with it a little. I always wanted the whole design to be as close to the heraldic rules as possible while still being personal. Eventually, I found a way.

For a long time there were only the snakes in the middle still missing (apart from the stars), and the barn owl needed a colour change. So that's what I did today - along with adding the stars. The snakes still need some work and the colouring really isn't very neat yet, but I'm quite happy with the overall look. :)

There are some rather lengthy explanations about all the single parts, but I'm not going to start on about that now - I seriously need to get some sleep. Maybe some other time.


80. Paper Clip Star

That's all the swearwords I'm not typing out cause somewhere in the back of my mind I'm still aware of the fact that people might be reading this. But there's no need for anyone to read any further, really,

Right now, basically everything just sucks and I'm so so so so very SICK of it!
Here's a paper clip - a nice reminder of all the stupid, stupid, moronic, braindead work I had to do today. I had almost forgotten to finish it, let alone post it. So much for fury and where it gets you. But it felt somehwat satisfying to destroy some other paper clips along the way - even though it made me swear even more (or maybe exactly because of that...)

P.S.: It's actually working... Am I supposed to rejoice, now? For -------'s sake, just leave me alone.


79. Wrapping Paper Sculpture Star

Another long day - and I'm lacking energy in so many ways. 
What cheered my up was a little surprise parcel I received from my parents with some ingredients for a beautiful Advent season, and I used the colourful and somewhat stiff wrapping paper to make a kind of star sculpture:


78. "The Adventures of Little Stick-Star"

It's Tuesday again. This day is just too full for my liking. But here's a little story to brighten it up. I had seen this link on several blogs over the past few days and I simply couldn't resist trying it myself - so much fun! I recommend you check out the link first and draw something for yourself - in case you want to - before you look at these pictures so it won't ruin the surprise. ;) It'll only take a few minutes.

Here are "The Adventures of Little Stick-Star":

This is Little Stick-Star:
One lovely day, Little Stick-Star discovered a large box.
But the box was locked, so I had to draw a key for Little Stick-Star:
When the box opened, a ballon came flying out of it, and with it...
So I drew a beautiful, star-shaped balloon for Little Stick-Star, but...
 How strange!
And out of the egg came... a dragon!
The dragon spit fire, and soon the surrounding started to burn.
Little Stick-Star faught bravely with the Flaming Sword against the vicious dragon!
...and was victorious!
A large cloud appeard and it began to rain drops of water in the shape of stars that put out the flames.
But, oh dear! The rain would not stop!
Fortunately, Little Stick-Star had learned to swim. But what was that just beneath the surface?
Little Stick-Star was in dire need for help to escape the approaching sharks, so I drew a drain at the bottom of the sea.
All the junk disappeared and what remaind were the two boxes and some strange letters.
From the rain cloud there came a lightnig that hit the balloon...
...and sent the box falling to the ground where it burst open.
That's how Little Stick-Star discovered one of the great secrets of life:


77. Arwen's Evenstar

I have once more come to a star that does not really look like one. But it's called one - and this sketch of it is dedicated to my Sis who has recently brightened my days in many different ways:

We both share a great love for 'The Lord of the Rings' and basically everything that's Tolkien. I know she likes Arwen's necklace which is often referred to as 'Evenstar' (nevermind that it's a product of the films, not of the book^^). It proved more difficult to sketch than I thought, as it is practically just 'shiny' and hardly anything else... I might try a larger, more detailed drawing at some point.
(Background is darkened on the computer.)

For the record: Arwen does have a certain necklace with a white stone in the book, but that one appears only after the war is over and is being given to Frodo to protect him from the darkness should his injury trouble him.


76. Purse With Stars (Side 2)

Okay, it's finished. (No, shops still are closed on Sundays in Germany, but I decided to paint a piece of my white elastic band black...^^)

To be honest, I'm not too happy with this whole thing... It's harder than I thought to make a purse that you can stuff a lot of things into but that still doesn't look completely out of shape when rather empty and flat. Plus, the large purple star turned out to look more like a flower - which isn't a bad thing per se but then I had to think of some other way to put a star on there. So I stitched the five smaller ones... well... let's just say, they're not very exciting. Finally, I intended to secure the edges of the cut ribbon by fusing them slightly with a candle - but I wasn't careful enough and one of the points was suddenly quite a bit shorter. :( (Not on the picture - I took it before this happened.)

Oh, well, whatever... One more new experience. Lucky for me I haven't set my heart on a carreer as tailor or purse designer. ;D


75. Carved Candle Star

Mama, I wish you a wonderful and truly happy birthday!

I carved this candle using a large kitchen knife. It was easier than I thought to get the lines straight. However, at some point I realised that one careless cut could destroy the whole work... That's when I got nervous. But I was lucky: One careless cut did happen but it didn't hack off the star's spike as it could have. The star got away with only a scar and a little dent.

Ich denk an dich. :)


74. Purse With Star (Side 1)

A day of very tedious work for university is over. Every now and then I took a break to work on a little purse made out of a pair of old trousers that had shrunk badly when washed too hot. (The original plan was to mend some clothes, but the purse was just so much more interesting...) It has two sides and the flap on one side is already decorated with a star:

Oh my, I really had no idea how difficult it is to cut a star out of cloth! At least at this small size... So, not very fancy. Maybe I'll find something better for the other side. (That one isn't finished yet. I need a black elastic band to fasten the flap there - which I don't have. I might finish it tomorrow, or that day after that - or after that...)

P.S.: The clothes are mended, too. :)


73. Bright and Dark Side

There's a bright side and a dark side to many things - but to some more than to others...

Today's star was originally planned for the 9th of November, but I didn't find any time then to make it. It's been in my head ever since, and I really wanted to get it down. As today there was nothing else striking my mind I decided to go for it. However, it got late and I've been running out of patience, so it's not as fancy as I had wanted it to be - but that's just life, I suppose... I might come to terms with this rather simple and rough looking version, though. :)

White paper cut and placed on black paper.

The story behind the star:
Living in Germany, the 9th of November is a very ambiguous date. Looking at the history of this country, it has been an important day more than once throughout the 20th century - and it's now remembered with very mixed emotions for it has seen events of brightest joy as well as darkest horror: 1918 - the emperor Wilhelm II abdicates and Germany is proclaimed a republic; 1923 - the "Hitlerputsch" is crushed by police and government forces; 1938 - Kristallnacht, the national pogrom of violent attacks on Jewish citizens continues through the following night; 1989 - the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I've got a feeling that if I think about this too much, my head and heart are both going to burst...


72. Pomegranate

A pomegranate is the perfect November fruit to me:
  • First of all, winter is its high season (at least in the northern hemisphere as I just found out).
  • The quite alarming red colour really is a relief for eyes that watch the world outside turn mostly grey.
  • It contains rather a lot of vitamin C.
  • It's one of the fruits that (according to some East Asian dietary principles) have warming instead of cooling qualities.
  • It's very bittersweet - and you never know what the next one will taste like until you try it...
I turned one into a star today:

How amazing it was to sink my teeth into this mass of red seeds and find that this is probably the sweetest one I've ever tasted! Thank you, pomegranate, you just made my day. :)


71. Swirly Doodle Star

Today's star was inspired by the "swirly doodles" on this blog (another 365 challenge). I really like the style and had thought about experimenting with it before. Here's the result:

This semester I have to take a seminar that tops everything I have know so far in matters of uselessness of university obligations. However, not attending would be rather unwise for various reasons, so I have to find something else to occupy myself with every week. This was one of today's occupations... ;)


70. Czech Koruna Coins

Back home, dead tired, in no mood for many words, ... and off to bed. These are my remaining Czech koruna coins (8 total - which is close enough to nothing):

I did have a great time, though! :D


69. Prague Sugar Packs Star

Wow, I seem to have hardly any time to even think about stars while here in Prague. I quickly seized the chance this morning, when I discovered the triangular sugar packs on the table of the beautiful café where we had breakfast this morning.

However, I did not need the sugar for my delicious latte macchiato (with chocolate!) which was a great start into a day full of culture, history and stunning architecture - most of it spent in and around the Prague Castle.
Well, to be precise: it wasn't quite the start of our day... We had been to the Charles Bridge before breakfast in order to (successfully!) avoid the masses of tourists jamming the bridge during the day. :)


68. Hot Wine Remains

It's quite cold in Prague - but the sunshine paints the city and its magnificent buildings a beautiful golden colour. We had a delicious pizza for dinner tonight, and the hot wine really helped to warm me up again. I was delighted to find three cloves in my glass, and the slice of orange was a real treat. :)