Saturday, March 26, 2016

March: all the stuff you have to do before a holiday:)

I'm sitting at the patio of a little guest house in Chiang Mai. It's about 35 degrees, and it feels like an oven, but the atmosphere is very relaxed and hostel travellers are always interesting to chat with. More Thailand stories are coming up, I'm sure.
The first half of March was spent trying to tick things off my list which I can say is going fairly well. Still no results from the Dutch exams but the "Almighty" plan from my first post of 2016 is going pretty well if I say so myself. Here's  recap with my progress noted for each (the intention here is clearly to keep making lists, and thus feel like I've been productive and have my shit together;)  - also a resolution of 2016)

1 - Finish writing my PhD thesis ---haha well not quite yet but I did submit a paper just before I left so that's progress. Didn't finish the manuscript I intended but.... Still 5.5 months to do 2.5 more chapters... doable. doable.... but this will be at the top of the list when I get back, for sure.

2 - Take a trip to Thailand (see list for Thailand)
             - the list for Thailand:
            - relaaaaax (getting there)
            - Visit Alex and Trig (check- and more A&T time coming up soon:) )

Sky bar in Bangkok... Incredible city view

            - snorkel or scuba in the south (not there yet)
            - CLIMB (in Crazy Horse and Tonsai and maybe Koh Lao Liang!) -just went to Crazy horse, was awesome. more photos to come
            - see some stuff and enjoy things!

Macdonalds in Thailand

Bikes along these roads to the "floating market" a little nature just outside Bangkok

Orchids in Pai

3 - Pass the Dutch as a second language exam -took them one week before the trip, after weeks of examprep, just waiting on the result!

4 - Apply for Dutch nationality- depends on result of 3

5 - Take lindyhop lessons- yes! Took two levels, moving on (hopping on) when I get back, and booked a weekend workshop in Amsterdam! Looking forward to "Smokey Feet" :)

6 - Do more rockclimbing, been going more often in preparation for Thailand and felt pretty confident on a 6a at Crazy Horse! I hope we can do 6c's by the end of the trip;)
7- Sew (there's a whole other list for this)- YES! made my summer outfit for Thailand: some Maritime Shorts by Grainline and Luna top by Liola patterns, before we left and a Neon Luna one for Alex:) see upcoming pics:
8- Find a job- made a CV in Dutch! And got some positive feedback from a few potential employers! Feeling pretty ok about this one so far but focusing on #1 more....
Here are a few more pics from our trip so far!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Two posts already! Take that 2015.

Well, once per month seems pretty doable, but I've been crazy busy with my long list I made for myself this year. So far, I've been studying a lot of dutch, and booked the NT2 exam to take right before our holiday to Thailand. So soon we will see if I pass with my Dutch as a second language! Heel spannend!

In other news: I made a pouf (poef in dutch- that's the automan thing). Made up a pattern, stuffed it with fabric scraps and lined the sides with a stiff interfacing and cardboard bottom to keep the shape.

So sewing is a checkmark on that list. More checkmarks: I've been taking lindyhop lessons, climbing and checked out the career fair in Wageningen in hopes of progressing on the "get a job" item on the 2016 list.  I feel more confident now with a cv and cover letter in Dutch, woo!

Things on the PhD front are also progressing but I prefer not to get into that here... So please... don't ask about the PhD....
Anyway- Lets feature the sewing this month... There has been a stitch n' bitch!

Including brunch at the cute Bakkerswinkel cellar in Utrecht:

 All with my fellow colleagues who are also nearing the end of their PhD-ing lives ...
I also made another Jade skirt by Paprika Patterns !!! (pic coming later) Longer one this time for a friend of mine. Just love that skirt. It's so comfy. I think I will make another of those and maybe another Moss Skirt by Grainline for the next stitch n' bitch.

Erin also sent me a tea-squirrel in the mail with some delicious tea :) It's so cute.

In other news: we're going to Barcelona and Valls later this month to experience the famous Calçotada!  Will update about that in the next post!

Tot dan!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

It's going to be a great year: 2016 is here!

I really like even numbered years, and I have a really good feeling about 2016. Maybe because I was born on an even year, or because this year marks my 30th complete rotation around the sun, or because this year I'm planning a lot of really cool things. In order to get these all done, I've resolved to make more lists. I need to make lists because:

  1.  Crossing things off is so motivating
  2. I want to plan a lot of things, and planning=lists!
  3. I want to do feel that I've got all my shit together 
  4. It feels productive, just even making one
So, here's my almighty plan for things I'd like to accomplish in 2016, in no particular order (ordering lists is a whole other story)
  1. Finish writing my PhD thesis. (Hoping to defend it this year too, but the date is not yet set)
  2. Take a trip to Thailand (see list for Thailand)
  3. Pass the Dutch as a second language exam 
  4. Apply for Dutch nationality
  5. Take lindyhop lessons
  6. Do more rockclimbing
  7. Sew (there's a whole other list for this)
  8. Find a job (in the Netherlands would be great,  in or around Utrecht would be ideal)
I guess that's ambitious enough for now, but I'm sure as time goes on I'll manage to fit even more into this short period of time labelled 2016. 

I find it crazy how every year goes by faster than the next, and I each year it seems I'm less good at keeping up. Maybe after my 31st sun orbital I'll learn a few more efficiency tricks. Focus... the trick is to be focused... (I say as I open a facebook tab---)... Focus will be my aim of 2016. For me that's the challenge to trump, and enable them all, I'd say. (and...a nap break)

I've been wanting to also post more on the blog. It's been the worst year so far for that. Only two posts in 2015. So I'd like to at least beat that. The last one was in August... geez. Somehow that still feels like only yesterday, thats how fast time flies. There's a backlog of topics I didn't post about from 2015, including my first attempt to sew myself a coat, WITH lining! So I'll make an effort for a post about that one soon.

The year already is off to a good start as I spent New Years Eve with some of my favourite goofballs at a lindyhop/swingdance party. Joost was a poker-master, and even make some great dancing progress too, and I had a chance to wear my flapper dress again (another post also coming soon on the very exciting themed 30th birthday bash I hosted in November...).

Here are some memorable moments from the party, and first walk of 2016 (in the dunes of Soest).

Cheers all, to a 2016 full of lists, love, adventure and focus!

Onwards. Into the great wide 2016.

Do you agree that lists help keep the motivation going? What do you guys have planned for this year? I'm curious to hear some of your hopes for 2016 (leave em in the comments)!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An update on Sweden, summer, and sewing

Just as a warning, the pictures in this post are in reverse chronological order, and I'm too lazy to switch it around, so I'll try to make sense of it in this direction.

Ahh summertime! I can happily reminisce about that day a few weeks ago, when I was able to sew myself this cute buggy tanktop, and wear it out on a canoe ride in the beautiful canals of Utrecht, the gorgeous city where I have the privilege to live...

(its just a pattern drawn from a simple Vera Moda tank I had)

And that my super stylish sister and her new hubby came to visit me on their honeymoon!!!
.. and! While they were here, we designed this wicked shirt together that I was able to sew up for her and, gasp! she even wore it in public! I made real clothes that even other people wear! YAY! :)

Earlier this summer, Joost met up with me in Sweden and just before going home, we had a couple of warm sunny days, and met up with some new friends of ours, who living just north of Gothenburg. Joost went water-skiing for the first time, like a pro; and I got a pulled groin from trying.

We also did some walking around in the rain, roundabouts Uppsala, and found this little cabin.

 It was lovely inside and we spend the night there in the other room which had three bunk beds, just for that! Yay Sweden and your free lovely accommodations in the forest! We made a nice fire in this stove and dried off from the rain, and met a wilderness man. Yes, a real wilderness man, who could survive on nothing but his coffee. We fed him some of our "Kottbular" and beet salad- the typical Swedish meal. We were attempting integration to the max.

We very much enjoyed the interesting assortments of funny things at the Swedish supermarkets:

And we enjoyed the creative ways the Swedes designed their water crossings: get on a raft, pull the chain and yourself to the other side- and off you go!
The rain was less enjoyable though....
 It was a lovely loop path around a very pretty lake, next to which we camped for one night, at a free camping place.

We travelled around with our good friend, and made sure to visit the most important Swedish sites. We must have toured at least three Swedish Ikea stores... same same.. all the same.

And we also took a day to explore an island in the Stockholm archipelago, called Grinda
 And Stockholm itself is just a bunch of lovely islands! This is from the top of the city hall tower, where a bunch of brides were getting photo shoots. It was a perfectly sunny weekend, just before we headed out to the forest...

 The ISCE conference was a great excuse to visit Sweden. I was really excited, that I even had the opportunity to present my research to an international audience on this huge screen!!!

PS- That's my handmade Jade skirt (by Paprika Patterns)!!! 

The muffins and coffee were pretty good too;)

Getting us back to Utrecht again, which is still my favourite, even after a visit to Stockholm... We live in such an awesome town that we get lots of visitors, and get to show them some of the impressive places in our surroundings. One of those is the Haarzuilens Castle! Complete with moat, chapel and beautiful gardens. We took our visitors to the pretty convent in the centre of Utrecht as well. We always have fun showing off where we live;) And I love coming home to Utrecht, after holidays.... Super lucky to live here, and have such lovely company around me to share it with!

..a cameo from my handmade Moss skirt (by Grainline Studio)!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Paprika patterns gems: Onyx and Jade

It's time to revive the ol' blog. What better excuse than to show off some recent feats of sewing! I've been experimenting with clothes making for at least a year now, and I've made a few items that get worn quite a lot. One of these is the Paprika Pattern's Jade skirt. It sits so nice, it's comfy, and looks pretty good too (if I say so myself). I wear it so much that the fabric is starting to get worn. I've even made a Jade skirt for a friend as well. Even better than wearing a self-made garment is seeing my friends wearing them!!!

But I digress from the main point of the post, and that is to review the other Paprika Patterns gem: The Onyx. I received this pattern for free from Lisa in exchange for an honest review, and I decided to challenge myself. I wanted to work with a new fabric for me, and I wanted a really easy breezy lightweight shirt. I thought to use some double gauze at first... but then I decided to try to try my hand at crepe-de-chine (or at least I think that's what it is). EEP! It slides! It frays! It's really thin and the stitches are really obvious. It's clear I had to be careful.

I planned to use the fabric to make a dress, so I thought it would be nice to practice sewing with it, to see how it felt. I still had enough left to complete the dress with it as well. I wanted to follow the instructions EXACTLY this time, to really test out the pattern as it is. I have to say, my meticulousness with this shirt made the adventure last a whole day (from cutting the pattern and taping together to a finished garment) but damn, I was gonna get those french seams and that flat bias neckline!!!

More experienced sewists have been saying it sews up really quick, but of course I had to choose a tricky fabric.... and I was determined to get it right the first time. The flat bias-neckline was a first success for me this time, but it really did take time, you can't just rush though this step. Especially not with the fraying sliding fabric I used. The tutorial from the website, and linked from the pdf instructions was very thorough. I used this and the cuffs tutorial. I did get slightly lost near the end of the cuffs, just before the folding bits, but they still worked out fine. Not sure how that zig zag in the pattern works, but it just does! And its great! I like how the little stitch in the bottom keeps it folded there, and the epaulet has the top part secured in a fold too. Clever!

I only had issues cutting so close to the seam on the epaulets cause the fabric frayed so easily through my stitches... but i managed by adding a topstitch on each epaulet to keep the fraying to a minimum....

The pdf pattern was easy and quick to tape together. The instructions were very clear and the pictures were thorough enough for a seasoned- beginner or intermediate sewer. The large enough seam allowances left enough room for the french seams, though I think I would have preferred the armholes to be a bit looser (I've got pretty beefy upper arms...).

My version was made in a size 4 and graded to a 5 at the hips, and I extended the length of the shirt down to the lowest line on the pattern. Otherwise I followed view A to a T, and here's what I got (don't get scared by the purple hair!)

Also showing off my Jade skirt with my PaprikaPatterns outfit!

I just have to show the inside seams, and just look how flat that neckline sits! <3 p="">That hour making bias tape and shaping and ironing that thing in place was worth it!

All in all, a really nice shirt, and awesome pattern!! It's classy and with this fabric a winner for a professional conference or dinner, or any semi-fancy workplace thing, or just a breezy summer day in the city. I really like the cuff and the neckline finish, it makes me feel great knowing that my shirt looks great on the inside and out;)

Thanks Lisa, and great job on another awesome gem which completes a 100% PaprikaPatterns outfit!!

Definitely check out the Paprika Patterns site and the Blog for useful tutorials and construction tips.