I have been wanting to set up an on line shop for a while, with pieces I have made over the last few years. I have been confused about format. I eventually settled on my own shop, and have just put the first few pieces on there to show. I will be expanding this a lot in January, February and March of this year. It's exciting to finally get it "rolling", a whole new little business for me.
You can find me at Diana Baur Ceramics! Check back later in the winter for new additions... my oven is firing away...
For the grace of God, I think seasons are beautiful. I don't have to go any further than a few steps outside my door to be reminded of this.
Yesterday the temperature went up to about 55 degrees, melting the ice and snow, enabling us to get our car up our quarter mile driveway for the first time in more than a week. It was not fun schlepping groceries for our holiday up that icy slope, bag by bag. I thought of last year and the snow storms and the salt tablets and the stuck car.
Why am I doing it, I asked myself. Why can't my life just be easy and convenient like other people? Well, we all know the answer to that one. I chose differently. And all choices have consequences, some involving ice and steep hills.
But then, yesterday came, and the snow melted. The skies were azure blue, and we climbed to the top of our property and sat in the field, soaking in the winter rays.
Nature provides some of the best visuals in color and texture. Looking back on last week's weather fiasco, I can now appreciate the beauty of it.
Life here in the winter is anything but convenient.
Which is why it's so important to capture moments of beauty and magic and absorb them as part of the experience.
The year is wrapping up, and the fire is glowing. A chicken is in the oven, and a thick layer of snow is on the driveway. Time to relax, be still, and enjoy. Can't leave anyway, even if we wanted to!
Time to thank all of you for all you give during the year. For your support, your comments, your positive thoughts. Each and every one of you is special. Thanks to those who came and visited this year, and in past years, and enriched our lives with laughter, conversation and joy.
I give thanks for the continued recovery of my family members who were so ill last year... and for my friends who went through the same. You are all still here. That is a miracle.
I give thanks for my own good health, for that of Micha, and my other loved ones. For blessed events in the future. I give thanks for a roof well built and for the guest who will negotiate the curves in our driveway next season.
For all this, and so much more, I am eternally grateful.
Happy Holidays to all of you, from the top of our hill and the bottom of our hearts.
Having gone through the big commitment of exchanging lifestyles more than once, I often wonder if crossroads will ever simply stop happening. Life gets interesting when you change things up. Mind you, I did not say easier. I will never say easier. But boring it is not.
Doing this thing that we have done keeps me on my toes. I tend to scare easily. Someone just needs to say boo. I find that one of my biggest challenges is keeping my fighting spirit. My can do attitude. My "I will go down with the ship" tenacity. We are making huge improvements to this property, so that we can provide an even nicer standard for our guests. So that it's not always going to be a work in progress; that the progress actually leads to something finished and good and whole.
Fact is, our guests do love being part of a work in progress. They come back, time and again, and see what we have done, and where things have come to since the last visit. It's been an interesting part of this career choice that I had not planned on -- people being happy, genuinely happy for us as we succeed, little by little, to bring back something which deserved to be brought back.
On the days when it seems like it is all way too much (and there are too many of those days) I must remember one thing. It's one day, one hour at a time. It's remembering who and what is important. It's about being thankful for what is, and trying not to fret about what is coming (well a girl can try, right?). It's about what life's core meaning is and I don't mean bricks and mortar or clay or kiln. And it's about moments that no one ever can take away from me.
We have reached the goal of having the roof on before Christmas. This is a huge thing for us. We are both feeling very tired of the construction already but are happy that this phase has gone so smoothly. Only two rainy days, and temperatures have been warm enough so that the concrete could set. On Monday, the scaffolding will come down and we can clean up outside.
Our friends have a beautiful home. They have been collecting paintings by contemporary Swedish artists as long as I can remember, and the house is filled with so many wonderful pieces. I love the way the table is set; white and simple, but with crystal and candles and red touches which give warmth and a rich atmosphere.
The home was built in the 1930s and has only had three owners in its history. I particularly love the three fireplaces (one on each floor) and the radiator covers which you can see in the dining room. The home is completely painted white to act as a backdrop for the various art collections.
Our time in Stockholm wrapped up in the village of Vaxholm. Vaxholm is a beautiful village directly on the water (there is very little in the Stockholm area that is not either on the water or on an island), has a castle and ferries going to smaller outer islands. It was already getting dark as we got to Vaxholm, but I could see how beautiful it must be when the sun is shining.
We ate a late lunch in Vaxholm, at the Vaxholm Hotel. Here was the view from our table.
Our lunch was a traditional Swedish Christmas Table. It was a buffet which started with fish , went on to meat, and ended with traditional Swedish sweets. Vaxholm and the outlying islands are famous for herring, and we enjoyed a huge variety of herring salads -- something that you must try when in Sweden -- as well as smoked and steamed salmon, hard boiled eggs stuffed with caviar. The entire restaurant was festive, with families celebrating the second Advent Sunday.
I was so grateful to spend a bit of time with our friends in Sweden. We have known them forever but had not seen them in ten years -- until they came to visit us here in Italy in October. We had not seen their daughters since they were girls, and now they are beautiful women, and we had so much fun with them, talking and laughing.
It was a very special time, and I hope to be able to go back to Stockholm again soon!
She carries my very favorite teas, Samova, from Hamburg -- here is MY flavor, Maybe Baby.
She has taken little samples of her glaze selection which she has fired and made the most wonderful mobile wall hangings by threading them on clear wire. I saw this and I thought WOW!!! This is such a fantastic idea -- beautiful, sweet, just lovely.
Gorgeous vase forms, perfectly proportioned.
Karin and me in her shop. Her shop, with those slanted windows, is exactly as I imagined it. It is flooded with light even on a rainy day.
On Sunday we took a drive with our friend Lisbeth out to Överjärva Gard, which is a lovely, traditional Swedish handcrafters' village in Solna, an outlying area of Stockholm. My reason for wanting to go was to visit a talented potter and artist there named Karin Eriksson, who owns a shop named Manos. The double benefit was that last weekend, the village celebrated its Advent Market, with horse rides for the children, and lots of handcraft demonstrations. Although the weather was not friendly, but instead cold and rainy, the village was full of visitors and bustling with Christmas spirit.
There were woodworkers, producers of jams and spreads and a wood burning bread oven producing some fabulous looking loaves (see above). The whole atmosphere was natural and rustic.
I have loved Karin's work for a long time. I find her things light and inspiring with aspect of whimsical. These characteristics make a person want to hold her pots in the hand. I love the proportions and texture of her work. I got to look around her private studio as well.
She also carries a very fine selection of hand made products from other sources, but everything fits in with her work in a way that feels perfect.
I cannot tell you how motivating it is to see how someone like Karin works. For me, it's pure inspiration. She was absolutely charming. If you would like to purchase some of Karin's work, she has an online shop for Manos. I have ordered her items to be sent to the United States before and they arrived, tastefully packaged and in perfect condition. If you have special requests concerning your order, you can email her and she is extremely responsive. You can even place Christmas orders up to December 17th.
We escaped construction on Friday to fly for three days to the beautiful northern city of Stockholm. I have been to Sweden several times during the famous midsommar of late June and early July when the sun hardly sets at all, to our friends' summer home in the southern Swedish coastal town of Torekov. These same friends now live the majority of the year in Stockholm, and since we had not been to the city (and since I wanted to experience Sweden in the winter) we took advantage of their kind invitation for a visit.
Stockholm had been written up last week in Corriere della Sera as the Christmas shopping city, replacing New York. While shopping was not really on my mind, I was anxious to experience the atmosphere in this famous design city.
Over the next few days I will be writing about my impressions of Stockholm and the outlying areas, which I am still processing. The city is simply amazing; simple and fancy at the same time, full of ambience, warmth and beauty. We did seem to do a lot in a short period time; we spent quality time catching up with our friends, spent time in the historic city center, visited a wonderful country market and got to meet my internet friend Karin Eriksson at her lovely shop Manos. We visited the beautiful costal town of Vaxholm and ate a traditional Swedish "Christmas table", complete with seven different types of herring salad.
We even ate elk burgers. And, we got to experience what it is like to experience sunset at 2.30 in the afternoon and complete darkness by 3.00. It is no wonder to me that Swedes have some of the most beautiful interiors in the world -- considering the amount of time they spend inside in the winter.
Today I have posted some photos of our visit to Gamla Stan - literally translated as "old city" - which is on a small island in the city. The shop windows are amazing and the atmosphere is quintessentially northern. The city was bustling, the many cafes full and the skies grey. We ate at about two in the afternoon and came out of the restaurant to pitch darkness. It was wonderful.