On to Nicer Things – A Liebster Award!

There is a deadline looming on the not-so-distant horizon, so of course I’m writing a post! But it’ll just be a quick one. As it says in the title, I got nominated for a Liebster Award by nishiink! To save time, I will just give a very short overview of what it is (the post will be long enough anyway):

It’s an award to promote little known blogs (less than 200 followers). If nominated you have to answer 11 questions posted by the nominater, plus 11 random facts about yourself. Plus nominate 11 more bloggers you like.

Now this last one gives me a bit of trouble, as I mostly read the well-known blogs (the likes of Oonaballoona or Gertie’s blog), but I have around 5 lesser known but nonetheless awesomesauce blogs in my reader I’d like to share, which are:

Dominique of That Funny Mama

Julianne of Made by Julianne

Melwyk of Magpie Makery

Sophie-Lee of tworandomwords

Corinna of Swissette

If you have more than 200 followers or if you don’t do (or have already done) Liebster Awards, please ignore and please don’t feel offended!

My questions for you:

1. What is your favourite pastime?

2. What do you love cooking/eating the most?

3. What is you favourite fictional character and why?

4.  What do you like most about your life?

5. How do you manage your stash (if you have one)? (This is shameless digging for solutions…)

6. What is your favourite make?

7. Which part do you dislike most about creating?

8. Winter or Summer?

9. If you could choose from any animal that ever existed, what pet would you like to have?

10. Why do you sew/knit/create?

11. What is your favourite place on Earth?

And now here are my answers to the questions nishiink asked me:

1.  Why did you start sewing/knitting?

I had to learn at school. Handicrafts are a compulsory subject in my part of Switzerland. I also learned how to work with wood, stone and metal. However, since my Granma used to be a trained seamstress (though she never worked as one), sewing was kind of a thing in our family, so I stuck to it (it helped that my mum has a Bernina at home). I only (at first reluctantly) took up knitting again about 4 years ago, when my Granddad asked me to knit a pair of socks for him.

2.  What is your favourite book (or type of book) and why?

I love the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I like them because of the humor and cross-references to (and twisting of ) literary and scientific traditions. It’s hard to pinpoint an absolute favourite out of the (currently) 40 books, but it’s usually either “Witches Abroad” or “Night Watch”.

3.  What was your dream job when you were a child?

It changed over time. At 7 years old it was hairdresser. But my mum let me know this wasn’t an option. When I was 15 (the age at which you are supposed to choose a profession in Switzerland) I briefly wanted to be a chef or a pharmaceutical assistant. Being a chef still kind of is a dream job of mine (but I know it’s a hell of a demanding job).

4.  Do you have any special skills?

No. I am delightfully average.

5.  Why do you blog?

I had initial illusions of grandeur, wanting to be the next Oona or Gertie. But I soon realised it takes a lot of passion and dedication, and I’m not really big on either (see question above). Then I moved from Switzerland to Finland and it’s become a way for me to show family and friends back there what I’m up to. And show off the stuff I make. I like to boast a little bit sometimes. :D

6.  What is your proudest moment?

When I finally got a degree.

7.  And most embarrassing moment?

Too many to mention. I have severe foot-in-mouthitis.

8.  If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Teleportation! I love being in a new environment, but I hate the getting there part.

9.  What are you most frightened of?

Losing the ones I love.

10.  What do you find hardest about sewing/knitting?

Finishing. A dress can easily hang waiting for hemming for a several weeks. Same with weaving in ends.

11.  If you could visit any place in time, where would you go?

 Sooo many choices! Possibly I’d like to visit a cambrian Earth. Just to see what  it would look like without any vegetation and to see the shallow coastal seas.

For this next part I will cheat a little bit, taking the first five random facts about myself from the blog tag kessanlin had tagged me in a year ago:

11 Random Facts About Me

1. I’m the eldest of 3 siblings and therefore rather bossy and know-it-all sometimes. On the other hand I can be very protective and nourishing (literally).

2. While I love traveling, I’m not very easy to travel with, as I get cranky on trips. I only ever enjoy trips after they’re over. But then I really like remembering them. I guess I just need time to absorb everything I see.

3. I’m a librarian. However, I don’t particularly enjoy reading. Not more than any regular person anyway. I LOVED it as a child, and I even studied English literature at University, but right now I prefer to spend my time creating through handicrafts, rather than consuming. (And playing computer games)

4. I’m both a cat and a dog person. Heck, I’m a tarantula person! If we stayed put for long enough, I guess we’d get a zoo of animals.

5. My favourite ice cream flavour is coconut with lemongrass. There was a Mövenpick special edition some years ago that I just can’t get out of my head. *sigh*

6. I eat my Nutella sandwich with butter (everything’s better with butter!).

7. I trace all sewing patterns (except the pdf ones where one piece fits on 1 page).

8. This is going to be cheesy: PB (PH?) and I met on each other’s first day of work.

9. While I love animals, all my plants die miserably.

10. I would love to own a B&B one day.

11. I’m 21 weeks pregnant.

Back From Switzerland

On Monday PB (who needs a new name now) and I came back from a week on (sad and happy) family business in Switzerland. Although the trip had been planned already at Christmas, it turned out differently than expected. It was, nonetheless a good trip. When we landed we were amazed at how green everything was! It was also exceptionally warm (20-23°C) and everything was in bloom.

Blossoming Cherry Tree

This beautiful cherry tree is blossoming in the graveyard where my Grandma, and now Grandpa, are buried. This was on my Grandfather’s funeral day (hence the sad part of the trip). He had died one month before his 90th birthday, which had originally been the intent of this trip. It was such a stark contrast from what we had left behind in Jyväskylä:

Jyväskylä End of March – Very sunny, but the lake was still frozen

This is going to sound cheesy, but it was a comfort to me that on the funeral day nature showed all the force of renewal. It helped me let go and not feel guilty for being happy during the remainder of the trip. After all, it was my birthday only four days after the funeral. The sun was shining again in all its glory and it was a lovely 22°C. We spent the day eating, chatting and enjoying Spring.

Family Picture – Next to lake Thun, where I grew up

So it was a very bittersweet trip. To me it showed that while one life came full circle, many are just beginning and others, like mine, are in full swing.

Now I am very much looking forward for Spring to “explode” here in Finland too as it’s my favourite Season!

Second Trip to Lapland

As promised, a post about our extremely short trip to Lapland. We left Jyväskylä on Thursday night and were back on Sunday morning already. Therefore we didn’t do much besides travelling. We took the (insanely comfortable) night train from Tampere to Rovaniemi, where we were supposed to immediately take the bus to Levi. Due to a combination of misunderstandings and our lacking language skills, however, we missed it and had to wait for 4 hours in Rovaniemi. So we went to see if the places we visited last year were still there. And they were! Here’s just one example:

The View over the *mumble*joki – Less frozen this time

This place is rather special to both of us, because last year I got this there:

A Ring!

But soon we left and caught the bus, as we had booked a night in a glass igloo! We were hoping for nice weather (read, clear skies), as we were hoping to finally see Aurora Borealis. But, the forecast had not been good, and as you can see skies in Rovaniemi didn’t really raise our hopes. But on the way to Levi, the town nearby which the igloos are located, the clouds suddenly vanished and we were driving to a most beautiful and rather long sunset (forgot to take pictures, though -.-).

When we arrived at our accommodation, we were very warmly greeted by the staff (even though we were more than half an hour late and they had to wait for us). The igloo itself was surprisingly spacious, warm and luxurious (it even had a rain shower!).

Glass Igloo From the Inside – Cozy, yet spacious

We booked a “superior igloo” and were a bit disappointed to be in the third row (also because the igloos were rather close together). It wasn’t a problem in the end, though, as we could see almost the whole northern sky. We went to walk around a bit and went close to the first row of igloos:

First Row Igloos – Including view and happy PB

I guess you would have to buy the even more expensive package to get those, and when we were there it seemed like they were not occupied. After that we went for a nap, and when we woke up at around 9pm we saw Auroras! Very faint and low on the horizon, but nonetheless! The photos didn’t turn out, though, so you will have to take my word… We were watching the lights dance across the horizon sitting in our warm and cozy beds until about midnight, when the sky began to cover up again. Perfect! That way we didn’t have to feel guilty about sleeping and we had a restful night’s sleep. It was the right decision, too, as when we woke up the igloo was covered in snow.

After checking out we went to see what Levi is all about. It turns out not much, thought there are several skiing slopes and lifts.

Levi Hill Slopes – From below

Having grown up near one of the (in my very biased opinion) most beautiful skiing regions in Switzerland I wasn’t that impressed, but there was definitely more snow than there is currently in Switzerland. The town itself consists of two main streets with the usual touristy shopping and restaurant options. Architecturally it looks just like a village you would find in the Alps:

Chalet Style Hotel – Felt right at home

As there was not much to see and we weren’t interested in either shopping or skiing, we soon left again for Rovaniemi, where we were to take the night train back. While walking town around a bit we came across this:

Arctic Swimming Contest – *shiver*

They had made a big hole in the ice with a 25m competitive swimming area. As we were passing, they were giving the medals and I could hear that some competitions were for 100m! I was shivering despite wearing very warm clothes. After dinner it was already time to leave Lapland and  head home.

Even though we didn’t do as much as last time and even though we stayed a lot less, I loved our trip! Of course seeing the Aurora had a lot to do with it, but it was also the reason for the trip:

Yup, We Did It – We got registered!

This was not a wedding as such. We went and had our registration at the maistraatti (register office) with our witnesses (two close Finnish friends) and their kids. After that we all went for dinner and that was it. Our families weren’t there and we didn’t exchange rings. All of that is for the big celebration we are going to have after I finish the thesis and have time enough to organize. This time it was just for the two of us.

Making Clothes Again

Yep, I sewed. I finally managed to get myself out of my slump. Maybe it helped that the sun had been shining for three days in a row. Or maybe it was Tasia’s post on her bra making class. Or the fact that, despite the sun, it is still too cold to wear my “swirly top” (as nishiink named it) on its own and I needed a white layering shirt. Anyway, I made two garments, taking full advantage of the fact that PB was out of town, and my newish (and empty) cutting table:

Ikea Hemnes Daybed + Door ( – Handle) = Cutting Table – Ideal height for lazylinchen

First, I made the aforementioned layering shirt, using BurdaStyle pattern #112 from the February 2010 issue (I had previously made a pyjama top with it, so didn’t have to trace). Re-making things is a good way to get me sewing, I should remember that more often. The top is nothing special, it’s just “cake“. I was joking recently that I mostly sew cake, not enough frosting, which results in a mostly gray and navy and very boring wardrobe. Anyway, the top has a boatneck and raglan sleeves and is therefore perfect to be layered under the swirly top:

BurdaStyle magazine top #112 02/2010

It was very easy to put together, all in all it took me maybe 2 hours (with breaks for youtube inbetween).

But speaking of wardrobe staples: I made my first bra!

Ohhh Lulu Jasmine Bra – Nautical style

It’s not my first time sewing underthings, as I made quite a lot of cheeky panties already (it’s a great free pattern and sooooo comfortable!). But this was my first try at a bra.

Ohhh Lulu Jasmine Bra – Back view

As with the cheeky panties, the verdict is: sooooo comfortable! I used the Jasmine pattern from Ohhh Lulu. It consists of only three pattern pieces and is insanely easy to sew. I used some jersey remnants from my gray layering shirt and a shirt I never blogged. I slightly changed the pattern layout as I wanted to have chevrons in the front. For that I cut the fron center panels on the bias instead of on the straight grain. I also used some ribbon to cover how I attached the straps:

Ohhh Lulu Jasmine Bra – Back detail

I attached the straps in the back last, because I didn’t have the rings and doodads needed to make an adjustable strap. But to be honest, it fits so well I wouldn’t even need the straps. So next version is going to be strapless. While this looks rather nice, I also wanted to make it completely reversible, just to see if I could. So I did!

Ohhh Lulu Jasmine Bra – Reverse side

This side is admittedly less exciting, but I am proud nontheless that it worked! And that’s also the reason why I didn’t put in any bra closure (though I had one).

Ohhh Lulu Jasmine Bra – Reverse side back view

I am blogging this a week late, but I just needed to share! I see many more of the bras in my future life, as I really started to detest wearing underwire bras. This is comfortable and still gives me enough support. Plus, it’s a great project to use up those scraps! But enough said for now, I’ll be back soon with a post about our second trip to Lapland!

Still no Sewing – But a Recipe

While my tiredness has passed and my “cutting table” is finally rid of the mess, I still haven’t brought myself to use it. But instead, since I do cook almost every day, I thought I’d share another recipe with you. And also with me, because I tend to forget how I make this and have to painfully dig out the memory with an intense hypnosis session… (Hahahaha! Just kidding!)

Anyway, this recipe involves one of my favourite vegetables: Swiss chard. It is, according to Wikipedia, extremely healthy and full of all the good things like vitamins, minerals, fibres and even protein. I like it because of it’s mild but erathy taste. One of my Grandma’s used to grow it in her garden, and hence we had it often at her place. She only used the stems of it, though. So for a long time I thought the leaves were not edible. Turns out I was very wrong. Not only are they edible, they’re equally delicious as the stems, but a bit stronger in taste. The only drawback of this great veggie is that it’s highly seasonal (Spring). And that I havent seen it in supermarkets here (doesn’t mean much, though, as I wasn’t here last spring, also the fact that it has a Finnish name (lehtimangoldi) gives me hope).  So why am I publishing the recipe now? Well, because I can! :D

And because I just found the picture from last time I made it:

Swiss Chard Gratin

I know, I know. Another Gratin. I just love this stuff! The recipe is based on one I found in the Swiss cookbook “Vielseitige Gemüseküche” by Betty Bossi. The book doesn’t have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), so I guess it’s only available in Switzerland. Which is a pity, because, let me tell you, Betty Bossi is a (fictional) cooking goddess. She single-handedly changed the cooking habits of Swiss people. Unfortunately most of the cookbooks are only available in German or French. Which is why I don’t feel too bad in publishing this recipe here (plus, it’s and adaptation, so there!). If you understand either French or German, or both, I suggest getting one of her books (or check out the website, there are also free recipes). If not, there is one available in English: The Swiss Cook Book (Amazon link).

Swiss Chard Potato Gratin
Serves 3-4, depending on hunger levels

Ingredients
250ml (1 cup) of water
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1kg Swiss chard, leaves removed and sliced in thin slices, stems peeled and cut in 5cm pieces
500g potatoes, peeled and cut in slices
50g smoked tofu (or bacon) diced
1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp butter or oil
180g sour cream
Salt, pepper and ground muscat to taste
2 Tbsp grated cheese (Greyerz is best, but use whatever you like that melts nicely and has a bit of a taste)

Preparation
Preheat oven to 220°C, grease a casserole dish. Then bring water, salt and lemon juice to a boil in a small pot. Add chard stems and potatoes and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until slightly soft, then drain. Meanwhile, sauté the onions and tofu (or bacon) in the butter in a large pan for about 1 minute. Add chard leaves, stir and contiue to sauté until they start to wilt. Season with salt, pepper and ground muscat. Add the sour cream and bring to a boil. Add the softened chard stems and potatoes to the casserole dish, cover with the chard leaves mixture. Sprinkle with the cheese and gratinate in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese has turned golden brown. Serve still hot.

P.S: yes, I’m still supposed to be working on my thesis. D’oh!

I spoke too soon…

Well, more than a month has passed since my last post and I haven’t sewn one single item. Nothing. So the addiction can not be too pronounced, I guess. I did start a knitting project, though. A small one I usually take to the weekly knitting group here in Jyväskylä, which I love on account of all the other expat ladies!

The reason? I’m currently writing (and stressing about) my master thesis, which is due in May and I’m already behind in my schedule. I am also colossally tired and sleep around 12 hours a day. Add to that lessons almost every day, plus one afternoon of (unpaid) internship and I don’t get nearly as much time as I’d like. Therefore I feel extremely guilty whenever I do something sewing related (plus, my cutting table is a mess!), so I don’t even start. But I hope after this week the tiredness will subside a little and I’m going to be back to my old self. Moreover, as soon as I’m done with the current chapter, the bulk of the work will be done, I hope. (Giving myself a pep talk here…) ;)

BUT! Not all is bad! PB and I are going to go on an extremely short (3 days) trip to Lapland. We booked a glass igloo for one night. Let’s hope there’ll be auroras! The other nights we’ll spend in overnight trains coming and going. I’m sooo looking forward to this, it’s unreal. :D

So, don’t expect too many updates, as I will be getting busier and busier with my thesis. Come May, all will be better, and I will certainly start sewing again! (Hopefully earlier, than May, though) I have a big wardrobe challenge ahead of me this summer.

Could I Be Addicted?

It seems I have a severe sewing addiction. When packing for the Christmas holidays, I included several patterns that I need to trace. More patterns in fact, than clothes. Not in volume, but in number. Since this is the step I dislike the most, I figured, I’d take the advantage of not having a sewing machine around, but still get something done sewing-wise.

Then, as soon as I arrived in Switzerland, I bought the January edition of Burda Style magazine. Of course I went to this awesome fabric store in Winterthur (the one I bought the fabric for the Voyager shirt from) and might have bought 10 meters of different colourful jersey (Ooops! Destashing seems impossible…). Two of these ten meters were a purple/off-white stripe viscose/elasthane, destined for top 122 on the cover of said Burda magazine.

BurdaStyle 01/2014 top #122

BurdaStyle 01/2014 #122 – front view

When I confessed about all of the fabric to my Mamma, she said: “If you want, I’ll bring my sewing machine along for the Christmas holidays.”

OF COURSE I WANTED!

So on Sunday before Christmas I went to work, and within 1 day I had a new (stroke inducing when viewed on skype) shirt. I loved the effect the gathering gives to the striped fabric:

BurdaStyle 01/2014 top #122

BurdaStyle 01/2014 #122 – front detail

It was super easy and fast to put together. Matching the stripes took some time, granted, but I think that’s what makes the difference between “nice” and “WOW!”. Plus, it makes me proud and happy. So there!

BurdaStyle 01/2014 top #122

BurdaStyle 01/2014 #122 -matched stripes side view

I really like the construction details of this top, even from the back, where stripe matching was impossible/unneccessary:

BurdaStyle 01/2014 top #122

BurdaStyle 01/2014 #122 – back view

So it seems I can’t even spend ten days without sewing. Should I worry?

(P.S: My life is currently awesome, as these pictures were taken today at 20°C in the Circus Maximus, with the Palatin in the background.)