Monday, June 29, 2015

The One with Leipzig, Germany

Our last stop of this trip was the Saxon city of Leipzig. Leipzig has always been a capital of business and of culture. It's also a city of great history - Martin Luther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Richard Wagner, Angela Merkel, and many other German VIPs have spent time here. It also some intruiging East German (DDR) sights. Leipzig's venerable university and great cultural institutions - such as the storied Gewandhaus Orchestra and the St. Thomas' Boys Choir - are still going strong today. 
We drove right into the heart of town and began our tour of the city at the Old Town Hall.
The Renaissance style building overlooks the bustling (not today though because of the frigid summer weather) Market Square.
The Market Square.
Strolling down Grimmaischestrasse. Leipzig once had the higgledy-piggledy cobbles-and-red-rooftop charm of many other German cities. But in the late 19th century, prosperous city leaders decided to modernize and tore down the quaint medieval townscape and replaced it with big, modern buildings.
One feature of the "new" (if 1800s is new...) Leipzig that continues today is shopping galleries that burrow through the middle of many buildings. Some of these galleries and passages are non-descript, but many are beautiful. We found the Mädler Passage near the Market Square.
Ducking inside we found a lovely shopping area with stores and cafes.
The famous German writer Goethe set a scene of his masterpiece Faust in the Auerbachs Keller restaurant located just inside the passage. Statues re-enact the moment when the brilliant scholar Faust (on the right) makes a deal with Mephistopheles to experience as much as possible in the world, but if anything so impresses Faust that he refuses to move on, the devil gets his soul. Heavy.
Another passage gallery.
Some of the highlights in Leipzig are the sites associated with the one and only Bach. Just such a place is St. Thomas Church. At this historic church, Bach conducted the boys' choir - the most famous one in Germany - from 1723 to 1750.
While here, Bach was incredibly prolific. For a time he even composed a new cantata every week!
In front of the altar is Bach's final resting place. Or, at least they think this is him. He wasn't very popular in his own time so when he died he was buried in a humble graveyard. But, after he was rediscovered in the 19th century, aficionados tracked down what they thought were his remains and placed them here.
Inside, the clean, white, stripped-down Neo-Gothic interior evokes the Protestant aesthetic of uncluttering the congregation's communion with God. On Pentecost in 1539 Martin Luther came here to perform Leipzig's first Protestant service.
Out front stands a wonderful statue of Bach. He's holding a rolled up piece of sheet-music which he used as a baton. His jacket pocket is turned out because Bach was famously always scrounging for more money, not because he was greedy, but because he had a huge family to feed, including his own brood and the boys in the choir he directed to whom he was very devoted. He was a tireless advocated for the arts and did his best to help fund local musicians.
Back behind the Old Town Hall is the ornately decorated Baroque Old Exchange building which is now used as a meeting hall. The statues in the top corners symbolize important facets of Leipzig life: Apollo on the left for art and Mercury on the right for trade and commerce.  
Standing in front of the Old Exchange is a statue of Goethe who studied law here before dropping out to become a writer. It worked out well for him. He's basically to German what Shakespeare is to English or Tolstoy to Russian.
The St. Nicholas Church, which was closed for a concert, is Leipzig's oldest. It also played a pivotal role in more recent German history as the home to weekly prayer meetings in the 1980s where residents would meet together to discuss their grievances with the communist regime. Then the church became a major staging ground for protests during the Peaceful Revolution.
Super awesome architecture.

Out on Augustplatz are some examples of the depressing Communist aesthetic. The Opera House is actually fairly pretty for an Eastern Bloc building.
But, the Gewandhaus, home to the city's world-renowned orchestra, well, you can judge for yourself :)
Also on the square is Leipzig's first skyscraper, teehee.
Ubran life with the old Post Office in the background.
The MDR Building, on the left, was erected in the 1970s as part of Leipzig University but is now privately owned, while the glassy structures on the right remain part of the school. The pointed facade marks "St. Paul's" where a 13th century church once stood but was demolished by the communists in 1968. To pay homage to the sites former purpose, the new building resembles a church but is still part of the university and is used for both religious and secular gatherings.
Just off the square is a sculpture entitled, Untimely Contempories, a pun in German, with exaggerated caricatures of hypocritical DDR figures. For example, the teacher holds a mallet used to pound communist ideology into her students.
There are some fascinating museums in Leipzig about the DDR and the like, but we've tried places like that with kids before and it doesn't work out too well. So, we decided to just stroll and explore and of course stop for ice cream. Not even the freezing temps (okay, it was probably still about 50 degrees) could persuade the kids to turn down eis.

The Evans Family in Leipzig, Germany on Sunday June 21st 2015. 
And that concludes our Northern Germany trip! And hallelujah we don't have anything huge planned until a Scandinavian cruise later this summer! Am I nervous about being a boat for two weeks with our kids? Yes. Will it be worth it? I hope so :)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The One with the Ali Edwards SUMMER STORIES Layouts

Today I'm sharing a pair of Ali Edwards Digital Creative Team layouts using the SUMMER STORIES digital stamps!
 photo Sunshine Summer by Paige Evans.jpg
SUNSHINE SUMMER by Paige Evans

Description: I had two separate visions for the SUMMER STORIES digital stamps and I couldn't decide which technique or finished layout I liked better, so, here they both are :)
Journaling says: Fox loved swimming so much - he probably would have spent all day in the pool if we let him! His favorite was playing with Dad.

How to: First I traced and created a background from some of the words in the SUMMER STORIES digital stamp set. I replaced the blade in my Silhouette Cameo with a black pen and drew the custom background. Then I watercolored over each word - the pen bled into the paint but it's all good. Once the watercoloring was dry I added a photo and embellished with the Poolside collection by Crate Paper. And lastly, I wrote some journaling on a tag and tucked it under the photo.

Supplies: Digital elements: SUMMER STORIES digital stamps by Ali EdwardsAdhesivepen: American Crafts; Chipboard, die cuts, stickers, wood veneer, pinwheels, enamel dots: Crate Paper; Watercolors: Loew Cornell; Die cut machine: Silhouette Cameo
 photo Sunshine Summer Detail by Paige Evans.jpg

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 photo Tarifa by Paige Evans_1.jpg

TARIFA by Paige Evans

Description: The second technique I wanted to try was watercoloring over the die cut words and here's the results!

Journaling says: The view from the apartment we rented in Tarifa, Spain looking out over into Tangier Morocco was magnificent to behold! Made up for the power outage, noise, and nastiness of the apartment, kind of :)

How to: Using the same design from the first layout, I changed the pen back to a blade and die cut the background from white cardstock. I left everything on the sticky mat and then watercolored over the words in stripes of rainbow color. I stitched the words in place onto a white cardstock background. Then a photo and some embellishments (also from the Poolside line by Crate Paper), title, journaling, etc, and this layout was complete!

Supplies: Digital elements: SUMMER STORIES digital stamps by Ali EdwardsAdhesivepen: American Crafts; Chipboard, die cuts, wood button, stickers: Crate Paper; Watercolors: Loew Cornell; Sewing machine: Brother; Thread: Coats & Clark; Die cut machine: Silhouette Cameo
 photo Tarifa Detail by Paige Evans_1.jpg

Lots of AE layouts lately - I'm having a blast with this whole hybrid business!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The One with Schwerin Castle, Germany

I saw this picture on Pinterest when we first moved to Germany and my jaw dropped to the floor. Where is this and when can we go? Answer: Schwerin Castle, Sunday June 21st 2015.

Schwerin is the capital of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and is coming into its own as state capital after decades of Eastern Bloc poverty. With an intriguing old town and ringed by lakes, Schwerin is a worthwhile destination all on its own. Add in the fairytale castle and this is a must see.
The Evans Family in front of Schwerin Castle on Sunday June 21st, 2015. And yes we're wearing full on coats just days before the start of summer. It's been coooooooooold! Kinda scared for what's comin' this winter....
Can you believe this place? It is amazing. The turrets and gilt are gloriously over the top. An equestrian statue of Niklot, a Slavic prince who occupied the islet until defeated by Henry the Lion in 1160, adds a touch of imperial bombast.
The palace is Paul Friedrich Franz II's treat to himself after moving from Ludwigslust to Schwerin in 1837. The Duke looked to Chambord Chateau and told his architects to remodel his ancestor's Dutch Renaissance-style castle accordingly.
Check out this beautiful garden.
Looking out to a lake.
Only a little construction happening on the exterior which is awesome because recent search pictures show the entire tower covered in scaffolding.
On the right you can see a chunk of the old palace. The rest of the structure is pure fairy-tale fantasy.
I'd love to eat dinner inside!
Charming. Charming!

The schloss is a lovely mash-up of architectural exotica-fairy-tale turrets, lantern cupolas, onion-bulb domes, a couple of almost Moorish pavilions, a gothic chapel, and topped with a golden tower. 
Yeah, I wouldn't mind living here.
There are small gardens and grounds around the castle since it is located on a islet with only two bridges to the mainland.

Super interesting looking tree bark with initial and name carvings. Looks like the army uniforms I see all the time, just a different color scheme.
We circled the entire building ooh-ing and ahh-ing at it. The castle has essentially six different facades so every angle is something new.

We loved this tree. It was huge!
I don't think I've ever seen a branch like this that connects two different trunks of separate trees! How does that even happen?! Chris thought it might be a support pole they disguised. I don't. It looked too real.
Looking up at the front as we entered.
There was some sort of political fair day thing going on inside. It was jam packed! But, it was also free so there's that, and the kids got some balloons and candy from some various German political parties. Not only is this place a historic monument with sumptuous royal rooms, but they also converted the unfinished portions into the parliament chambers for the state's government.
The interior courtyard from inside the castle.
Looking out towards the town of Schwerin from right by the equestrian statue.
I had to go find a certain view of the castle so after touring the inside we went to the back of the gardens which are on the mainland and found just what I was looking for.
Canals in the schloss gardens.
How's this for awesome.
It was also Father's Day so I dedicated this photo to Chris and am so thankful for the awesome Dad he is. He is the sane one when we travel is more helpful than I care to admit cuz it's embarrassing :)
Palace, castle, church, modern parliament, park, and gardens. Schloss Schwerin is definitely amazing and a half.