Friday, April 8, 2016

Taking Stock: April

Pip from Meet Me At Mikes does this great reflective thing, and I love to do it as well. So much so that this month I’m actually going to get my Dutchman to do it too. Then we’re going to open a bottle of red and talk through our lists for a TV-free date night :-)

What do you like to do for date night? Netflix and couch snuggles are great, but can be very disconnecting after a while. We’re trying to bring more conversation and less tech back into our lives.

Making: Crochet blankets. Little by little, for two years now! 
Cooking: Lamb sausages, mash and gravy for dinner.
Drinking: Less tea than usual. I've been finding that it gives me a metallic taste in the mouth. Does anyone else get this? 
Reading: Just finished "The Miniaturist" by Jessie Burton. So good! I love that it is set in Amsterdam in the 1680s and the places they talk about in the novel are still standing now. And the dollhouse that inspired the story is on display in the Rijksmuseum, so I'm planning a visit there soon.
Wanting: Better weather. More sunshine. 
Looking: at dream rental properties online. Getting closer and closer to wanting to move back to Queensland! The AMS weather really doesn't help. 
Playing: with the cat at odd hours. She's most playful at 11pm or midnight, and the downstairs neighbours must hate her scrabbly paws racing around trying to catch a feather on a stick.
Deciding: on our itinerary for a long weekend in Rome! I still can't believe that we got return airfares for  €100. 
Wishing: that the Australian government and opposition weren't so shitty. And nasty. And that people would just be nice to each other.
Enjoying: watching my Dutchman plant out his cuttings and seedlings in our roof garden.
Waiting: for the new season of The Mindy Project!
Liking: any cute animal picture on Facebook. 
Wondering: What is happening just around the corner from my house? I can hear a man singing (badly) and someone announcing things over a microphone. Might have to go for a walk to investigate.
Loving: my Dutchman and my Squish. 
Pondering: the best layout for our attic room. It needs to be long-term storage, Sander's workshop, freezer and linen storage as well as guest room. A lot of jobs for a 12m2 space!
Considering: doing one of those "prepare 7 meals in advance" meal plans. Does anyone do this? 
Buying: Absolutely nothing until payday. But I really need some new wool to continue work on my crochet rugs.
Watching: Right now? Escape to the Country. What is it about this show? I love it, even though we don't have any interest in moving to the UK.
Hoping: that the warmer weather comes soon, and brings with it better health. 
Marvelling: at how quickly I need to vacuum again.
Cringing: at the state of my floors. Seriously need to vacuum. 
Needing: Warmer weather so that I can wear DRESSES!
Questioning: if the populations of Australia and the US actually support the values of Turnball, Pyne and Trump, or if there is just a whole heap of ignorance, or good people remaining (or being kept) silent.
Smelling: Earl Grey tea. Despite my vow to drink less ;-)
Wearing: Trackie dacks. All the time. 
Following: Brisbane artist Sarah Hickey on Facebook. Sooooooo beautiful. I haven’t wanted to be a lady in a painting this much since Mucha! When I’m rich I’m going to commission a portrait of me and Squishy.

Hickey, S. 2016. ''The Starlet''

Noticing: little buds coming out on the big tree out the back. Hooray for green!
Knowing: that I'll feel more well when the weather is better. But also knowing that the weather here is impacting on my quality of life, and we need to do something about that.
Thinking: about nothing much for very long. Slippery, tired brain!
Admiring: the colours and workmanship of our beautiful Kantha quilt bought in India. I love it so much.
Sorting: Giant piles of washing.
Getting: sleepy. It's naptime, but I've had some insomnia lately so I'm trying to push through.
Bookmarking: fresh, simple recipes. I'd love to add some new basics to our rotation.
Coveting: the neighbour's great wooden deck and outside space. Ours is still in production! 
Disliking: How I've really fallen behind with the housework. 
Opening: Windows and doors to let in fresh air. Because it's not icy air anymore :-)
Giggling: at Squishy. She's so bloody funny. And inelegant. 
Feeling: Sleepy. Maybe I should have that nap.
Snacking: on Popcorn! We rediscovered microwave popcorn last week, and I've been waiting all week for us to snack on this and watch a movie again this weekend.
Helping: Sander with the housework. Tomorrow morning, we'll get it done together!
Hearing: Squishy making wookie sounds in her sleep. Best.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Famous

More media for you today. I sent this picture of Easter Squishy in to a Facebook page called World’s Cutest Pets, and they featured her. She got over 48 THOUSAND likes. Her picture was shared 3800 times. And almost 800 comments, of which I read ALL, of course ;-)

I’m feeling like a proud stage mum.

We hope you all had a happy and safe Easter Weekend.

Original FB post here.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ahoy!

I love seeing my creative work pop up places, and I was super excited to see my very own hand-sewn vintage sailor suit reproduction gracing the pages of a Rotterdam newspaper for the annual Harbour Hop Lindy Hop extravaganza this March.

Cees and Dolinde in the ‘paper!


My friend Cees brought me an original US sailor suit a couple of years back to see if I could make a ‘danceable’ version. Without dissembling the original, I used it to make a template, then a pattern, widening the pant legs to be more in  keeping with a 30/40s era, and making it taller to fit the Dutch frame. I chose a light-weight, breathable polyester blend that had the tiniest of stretch, is super washable and doesn’t really show sweat (very important for the amount of dancing it was going to see!).  Finally, I reused the original badges, stripes and whatnot to finish it off. It was a challenge, and I loved every minute!

Of course, the handsome Cees rocks his suit so well. I love that you’re getting so much wear out of it, Cees! As seen is the various Lindy Hop pics that keep popping up in my Facebook newsfeed. And yes. That’s me as a giant banana, Halloween last year ;-)

photo credit Sara Pista - www.sarpista.com
photo credit - Me!
photo credit Dolinde Van Beek
photo credit - Dolinde Van Beek







Monday, February 8, 2016

Babies, bunnies and brides

It appears to be baby season ‘round these parts! At least three special ladies in my life have each had new lovely baby boys, and so that means crafting time!

I have a whole swathe of “secret boards” in my Pinterest account. I LOVE secret boards. I have secret boards for collecting specific health tips and research, specific boards for current house projects or shopping lists, and, of course, a top-secret Present Ideas board, which is where I collect all of those great ideas you stumble across and just know they’d be great for a certain someone, except that certain someone avidly follows your Pinterest account so you can’t pin it publicly...

Anyway, I had pinned this adorable Mooshy Belly Bunny pattern from the blog Chez Beeper Bebe in anticipation of baby season, and was excited to get sewing to bring these little cuties to life. This is such a sweet pattern, and easy to make, although I certainly wasn’t as quick as Holly says she was in her post! I tackled my bunnies in three stages - the cutting, the machine-sewing and then the hand-sewing and stuffing. My Dutchman was on hand to help with the cutting stage, which was great, as usually hand-made gifts to our friends are gifted from ‘us', even though his hands have had no part in it! These bunnies, however, were a team effort.


Two of the babies that these bunnies were destined for were actually previous brides that I helped with wedding sewing and preparation. Anna and Robert’s French extraordinaire featured upcycled vintage sheets as tablecloths and restyled vintage dresses (you can see one of them here), whereas Quyet and Edwin’s romantic summer wedding was all about beautiful sunshine, bling hair-flowers and the hemming of a stunning embroidered silk gown.  I had remnants of fabrics from both of these special events, and so decided to incorporate these for some sentimentality. One bunny features the vintage linen tablecloths/sheets as her ear fabric, and another boasts beautiful embroidered silk vines from the trimmed wedding dress hem. Naw.

I love how super excited they look. They’re all, “Hooray! We’re bunnies!”


Another bonus was that I got to strike another pinned project off my list. I have tried very hard to Stop Pinning and Start Making, which is oh so difficult when you’re up surfing Pinterest late at night... so these little bunnies are also saying, “Hooray for Actually Doing Stuff!”



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bella (D.I.Y.)

Yay for internet! Praise the wifi fairies! So happy to be back online, and not just to catch up on The Big Bang Theory (omg, Sheldon and Amy!). And now, on this sunny and cold Sunday in Amsterdam, I have some time to catch you up on a few things. Completely out of chronological order, of course. Let’s start with Christmas.

Because we went to India in Nov/Dec last year, my Dutchman and I decided to have a very small Christmas. We had a €15 present limit for each other, with the instructions that the present had to be small and sweet. We don’t really have big celebrations here on the day either, as my mother-in-law’s birthday is on Christmas Day, and the Dutch generally celebrate Sinterklaas at the start of December rather than like we do in Oz on the 24th - 26th.

So, with this casual approach in mind, Christmas Eve found me cutting and glueing on the bed in our room while Sander wrapped his present in the lounge. I don’t think I’ve ever left making a present to the last minute like this before. Helpful tip - Mod Podge dries really well in a few hours, even in a cold climate!

I took some pictures along the way so that I could bring this DIY to you all; a cute, sweet, personalised bike bell. So very Dutch.

I decided to personalise a bike bell for Sander with Squishy’s face on it. He’s often said how he would love for us to be able to take her places with us, and when she goes to the vet she enjoys riding in her crate on the baggage mount of the bike. Plus, she’s so very good-looking that she works brilliantly just from a design perspective ;-)

Materials
Bike bell
Mod Podge
Design printed on photo paper
Scissors
Glue
Paintbrush or foam brush
Glossy, clear spray paint (optional)

The bell I found to work with had a nice, flat surface area with a big sticker on it already. My first step was to measure that sticker and then make a canvas in photoshop of the same dimensions. I then layered in and resized a picture of Squish, desaturating it to get black and white and then deleting the background to get a nice, clean profile. Because Squish is black and white already, I added a slight drop shadow so that she stood out from the background. Printing on photo paper is an essential step for the process, as photo paper holds up really well with Mod Podge and has a nice shine to it.  if you’re not so tech-savvy to edit an image, you could always use a photo that you already have.


Next step was to peel off the original sticker and use it as a size guide for the Squishy image. Although I had sized the print in photoshop, it’s often difficult to predict exactly what size your printer will print. I cut out the rough circle and then used the sticker as a template, folding it in half to make a semi-circle and tracing around the back of my photo with a pen.


Remember that at this point I’m sitting on my bed doing this - not such a flat surface! Here I swiped another present from under the tree to serve as a little table ;-)


I used a craft glue suitable for both metal and paper to glue the image to the bell. Here I had to do a bit of thinking - which side of the bike does Sander put his bell? Which finger does he use to ring it? These questions were necessary to make sure that Squishy’s face was upright and facing him while he rode. I ended up positioning her image in the same orientation as the original sticker’s text.


Let’s just take a break here to survey the work area - see the Squishy tail sticking out from under the blanket? She was in the middle of the bed too, good thing it’s big enough for simultaneous catting and crafting!


The next step was to apply the Mod Podge. My bottle of Mod Podge is ancient - in fact, I think it moved here from Australia with me four years ago! - and as such it’s not as silky and nice as a new one. I also only had a coarse, cheap paintbrush to apply it. It’d be better here to use a softer brush or a sponge brush to avoid the lines and bubbles that I got below. Most of these leveled themselves out though, and I still got a good finish considering.


I had this lovely little box left over from hair accessory packaging which fit the bell in nicely and disguised it from Sander’s investigations under the tree. Lined with some cheap candy-cane paper the effect is quite nice, hey? I would have preferred printed tissue paper but cheap tissue paper is surprisingly hard to come by in Amsterdam. The bell dried in a few hours from the secluded spot of inside my nightstand, and was rock-hard on Christmas morning when it needed to be. I just had time to do one coat of Mod Podge, but I’d like to do another to make sure the design really stays put. 


I also have some leftover clear gloss spray paint that I intend to spray over the whole surface once I’ve found the nozzle that goes on the spray can... This will make it weather proof and hardy enough for Amsterdam cycling.


Squish doesn’t look so impressed with her bell likeness, but Sander loves it, and that’s what matters. This pic was taken on Christmas morning.

I’m a little-bit-very excited about this project, and particularly want to do it again for friends with kids. How cool would it be to have your kid’s face on their own bell on their bike?!

Hope you all had a great Christmas too. xoxo

Friday, January 8, 2016

Interweb dramas

Sorry for the interweb silence, folks! We've been battling epic battles with our network provider and haven't had home Internet since we got back from India! I've got lots of things to share with you all, but no wifi to share it.

In the meantime, here's a picture of Squishy looking radiant ;-)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Out of my head!

I have a basket here at home filled with designs for clothes, jewellery and other crafty bits and bobs. Scribbles and line drawings of tops and earrings cover ripped notebook pages, paper napkins and the backs of receipts.  Very rarely does a drawing become an actual real-life thing, so I'm beyond happy that this blouse made it out of my head!

This deep V black jersey tee has slight bat-wings (very flattering shape) and this amazing original vintage Art Deco sari trim. The V is mirrored on the back so that you're fabulous from both sides.
Very much in love with my new top, and bloody excited to be going to INDIA on Monday and buying more fabric goodness to play with!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Custom Customers

First round of DIY (Design It Yourself) kimonos sewn and packaged for their flight to Australia.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I’m not very excited about Christmas this year. Not because I don’t LOVE Christmas (it’s my favourite), but because we have exciting things happening before we can even think of Christmas. Like, WE’RE GOING TO INDIA!

We’ve been invited to our friend’s wedding in Chennai, taking place on the first weekend of December. He’s Indian, and she’s Dutch, and the whole experience is going to be AMAZING! I plan on doing the bulk of my Christmas shopping there, and I already know I’ll be stocking up on beautiful sari fabric and soaking up all the Indian inspiration for 2016 creating.

You might not be going to India before Christmas, however, and I’m sorry. To soften the blow here’s an Etsy Christmas coupon code for you. Use the code 2015XMAS at the checkout to receive 15% off your basket.

Last mail for international postage, and the last day of the coupon code, is November 21. I can also gift-wrap and send your parcel straight to its recipient if you’d like, just leave a note for me on purchase.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Taking the plunge?

I've been staring at this awesome cat print chiffon for a couple of months now. I only have a little bit of it, only enough for one top, so have been scared to take the plunge and sew. Do any of you do this? "Save" great fabric or craft materials and go years before using them, if ever?

I've written about this before, and even tried to make a proper Resolution about using my "special" fabrics. But it's not getting any easier. I'm starting to wonder actually if it's a confidence thing. I don't have confidence that the item I'll make will be good enough to have wasted the special materials on. This isn't a nice feeling! Unfortunately, it's a feeling that creative people and artists often have. I'd love some tips for how to get over it!

For now, however, this beautiful cat chiffon will be used as a scarf. You can't go wrong with a rectangle!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ah, love.

Today it’s my Dutchman and I’s second wedding anniversary. We’ve been together now for five years, one of those long-distance, four with me living here in Amsterdam, and I am still feeling so very blessed to have found this wonderful man - and for him to love me back!

We’ve been on lots of adventures over the years, as these selfies show! - but the true strength in our relationship comes from the love we have for each other in the down-times. We can have the very best time just hanging out on the couch watching crappy TV. 

My health took a dive over summer, so we did a lot of hanging out on the couch rather than going outside and enjoying the sunshine. What I know for sure though, is that my moppo* would prefer to be doing nothing with me than off doing something exciting with somebody else! And I love him so much for giving me that security.  

Thanks, lovely Sander, for being such a wonderful husband. As I wrote in your card earlier today: thanks for being a hardworking provider, the silliest dag, and the most nurturing support. Here’s to many more adventures, both quiet and loud.


Selfies from left to right, row by row: Being fashionable in the rain at the Jenolan Caves during Sander’s first visit to Australia; sunset on top of Gaudi’s La Pedraza, Barcelona; Squinting in the sunshine last this past Saturday at de Scheepvaartmuseum here in Amsterdam; our very first rendezvous in Penang, Malaysia; my first Winter in Amsterdam on the frozen Prinsengracht; exploring Orebic village, Croatia; Keukenhof’s amazing flower display, Netehrland, this year; our honeymoon, on a beach in Thailand!; engagement selfie, the moment after he proposed in the Amsterdamse Bos; terrific sunshine in Reykjavik; in a field at my favourite place in Amsterdam, the geitenboerderij; Bondi beach and sunglasses-sharing; birthady canal tour in Amsterdam; and a last beach pic from our honeymoon getaway.

*moppo, a derivation of “moppie”, a common Dutch pet name for a loved one. I made it ‘Straylian.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Roar!

Today, Squish and I sewed with remnant leopard print chiffon. She prefers florals, but I like her in an animal print.

I've made and sold a few kimonos in this fabric, and there's one left in the Etsy shop if anyone's keen.



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Seeing Double

I'm very happy with this black and off-white dress copy commission that was collected today. The original silk ruffled dress had been the favourite of my friend, and had been worn to threads. I found some matching silk crepe in a great fabric shop in the Albert Cuypstraat and got to work. It was fun to do, although the maths in deconstructing and reconstructing those ruffles was a bit of a challenge!  Check out the two now side-by-side :-)


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Little Helper

Squishy insists on having her own piece of fabric whenever I am spreading some out for sewing.
#helping
#nothelping