Saturday, 26 August 2017

August Notes: Books and Lifestyle

Happy weekend! Sometimes your adulthood fails you and you come back home from grocery shopping with a package of pretty macarons and not that much else. Luxury lies in small details and for me colorful sweet macarons are this weekend's one detail. I started this day with a walk to the forest. Today it is Finnish Nature day and there are celebrations and happenings all over Finland. I had planned to participate one but had to cancel because of shoulder ache (still recovering from my quilting marathon :P). Well, one weekend will go with lower pace. I have several BBC Proms concerts waiting, excellent books and small DIY projects. 

Today I also made a huge discovery. Life without garlic and cumin is not life at all. I have been making experiments with my diet to find out what is it that does not suit me. Seems dairy and wheat are two things for me to avoid. I have also been cooking with less spices and garlic. As a result I had a total lack of inspiration what comes planning dishes and eating in general. I have always loved eating, it is one of my dearest hobbies, laugh. So it was unusual that I had what would I eat problems. Today I almost emptied my spice cabinet when cooking. I also put garlic with heavy hand. I prepared shakshuka inspired pulled oats and felt instantly the power of good taste! Eyes opened and feeling great I had to go and google the health benefits of garlic and the spices I used. I found out that the spices are proven to have many health benefits. For example this article lists health benefits of cumin. Maybe it is that you crave what you need? Because spices taste wonderful we are meant to eat them? What about macarons then, I craved for those too.. This theory surely needs further investigation, maybe in a form of second package of macarons.

This is the third post where I share with you what I have read lately. This series is still looking for it's form. I like to combine reading list with general thoughts I have had lately. In last two posts I have also written about my BuJo. In my plans monthly Notes post could include all these. I pondered long before stepping into writing about books. I thought that it might be too much. But then, I like to read and this is a lifestyle blog. I also enjoy reading other people's reading lists so why wouldn't I share mine. Those interested can check it, others can skip. Simple as that. Reading more has been one of my goals since May (2017). Writing about reading motivates to read more because I want to be able to post reading list every month. Otherwise I might be just reading about reading and collecting enormous list of must reads. You get this problem? When one book recommendation leads you to other and you end up with about 100 must reads. 

In the picture you can see two beautiful old books, that I have not read. Bronte's Jane Eyre and Steinbeck's Cannery Row. I have bought Jane Eyre years ago and tried to finish it many times. Steinbeck was a found from thrift store's free to take box some weeks ago. I will read both one day. Especially I feel embarrassed about the Jane Eyre, I should have read it. If you have't read it we should form a reading circle because that way I would get the needed pressure to finish it.

If Jane Eyre has been left unfinished same thing has happened to a few number of books. Around Easter I had Kerouac's On the Road and Woolf's Orlando from the library. I already had read 100 pages or so from the Kerouac but never finished. I knew that both are excellent books so I decided to keep them on my must read list and come back later. This month I read both. As for other reads falling to the classics category I have a Simone de Beauvoir project going. No matter how challenging it will be I am determined to read de Beauvoir's The Second Sex this year. Now I am in the halfway as I finished the first part. Trying to constantly become a more enlightened person I continued with the company of feminist literature and read Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist that has been translated into Finnish this year. Two Finnish books are also on my list this month because I have shamefully neglected great Finnish authors. To my knowledge Marja-Liisa Vartio's and Heidi Köngäs' books have not been translated to other languages (correct me if this is false) but for those who can read in Finnish I recommend their work. 

Jack Kerouac: On the Road (1957)

This beat classic is not one of the easiest books to read but as soon as got into the rhythm it carried away. The reading experience is like being on a hectic road trip through the late forties US.  It describes the rough bohemian life of the beat generation and criticizes capitalist way of life. I liked the philosophical side and thoughts about life. 

Virginia Woolf: Orlando (1928)

Ever since I read Woolf's Room of One's Own (1929) I have had all her works on my must read list. Like with ROO I used post-its between pages when reading because I wanted to remember all intelligent thoughts. Orlando is so timeless read it could have been written this year. The story of Orlando goes from the Elizabethan time to 1928. There are wonderful notions about the essence of time and how such abstract thing can be measured. In the middle of the story Orlando changes sex from man to woman which gives Woolf a chance to discuss the different roles men and women are forced to have in society.

Simone de Beauvoir: The Second Sex Part 1. (1949)

This summer it was time to take this massive work from the bookshelf and read it. Part one was over 400 pages and the next part is over 600 pages. It is a classic that has come in front of me many times when reading other works. I was positively surprised about the writing style. Even though this is a serious work I got to laugh often because de Beauvoir really knows how to place her words. Or maybe I just have a very weird sense of humor, who knows. 

Roxane Gay: Bad Feminist (2014, Finnish translation 2017)

This was quick read that I finished on a bus trip to southern Finland. Roxane Gay views popular culture phenomenons from Girls to Django with critical eye. Gay also reveals personal experiences and evaluates her own consumption of culture and attitudes.

Marja-Liisa Vartio: Kaikki naiset näkevät unia (1960)

Mrs. Pyy is a housewife that sees her life pass through her. She wants to be something else than just an ordinary housewife. She goes for course to paint porcelain, supports artists and decorates her home with her best taste. She is suffocated by the atmosphere where neighbors and dinner party guests grade one's life choices, appearances and surroundings. Even though written in 1960 this novel gets the feelings of a woman who is looking for more than the life is offering to her. Theme that is still current.

Heidi Köngäs: Hertta (2015)

Hertta Kuusinen is a historical person who lived 1904-1974. She was a communist politician who worked as MP from 1945 to 1972 (more info in Finnish here). Heidi Köngäs' novel is about the relationship between Hertta and other communist party politician Yrjö Leino. It opens the time's political environment before and during the second world war when communism was seen as a threat. Because of her political connections and opinions Hertta spends several years imprisonment. Through the difficult years her love for Leino and dream of communism carries her.  

Have you been reading lately? What is on your list of must reads?


Monday, 21 August 2017

How to: Contemporary Mirror Wall

Getting a new week started! This morning I felt like Phil in the movie Groundhog Day (1993). You know how he wakes up and it is always the same Groundhog day, same people come across, same activities. It was just yesterday when I woke up and it was Monday and now again. Some people love routine and predictable days with repeating schedules. I have to admit that I am not one of those people who love the so called everyday life. I do like to do plans but I just prefer that I have different plans for different days. I don´t mean by this that I would want life to be constant party and celebrations. More that I could work with variable tasks, take a walk to different direction than yesterday, hobbies that offer new challenges etc. Sure this is something that I can effect myself 99%. Still some days are Groundhog Days because you have to get up every morning, brush your teeth, eat your porridge and drink a cup of coffee not to mention other possible morning, midday, afternoon, evening tasks that keep you alive. Maybe I should buy a toothbrush for every day in different color and use Wednesday brush on Sunday. Excitement!

When I was still studying I worked in a same place for three summers. It was great place to work, work colleagues were fair and practice was clear. Absolutely nothing to complain. What I felt challenging were the routines. Days were quite alike because work included repeating tasks. On third summer I could not tell which summer some things had happened and I sort of lost years in my counting when I tried to remember. If I think my high school years (I might be getting old because I start recalling past things :) I come up with an image of early morning in a bus reading my homework. All three years were the same early mornings in a bus. Going to University was my thing, no routine, no repeating schedule, new ideas every day. Now I am having these Autumn thoughts two years after the graduation. Maybe it is because of the beginning of a new school year for some that makes me think about these. Last week I got it settled that I will go to some lectures and I am super enthusiastic about that. I have big hopes for this new season. I made a plan for this week to be more productive and organized (hope it shows on my blog). Weekly plans and writing BuJo makes it easier to do things consciously and remember what you have been up to some weeks, months and years ago. It also breaks the path of repetition as seeing the past helps to make plans for the future.

Last week I got a three part blog post series done and I hope this week will be equally as inspired and active. I have got ideas listed for the week's posts. New season shows in my home decor as I have wanted some change to mark the Autumn started. Some weeks ago I went and painted the big wall of my apartment. I have had the same wallpaper for almost two years and I was not 100% happy with it. After painting the opposite wall dark grey the white flower wallpaper started looking old. I had planned to put my 2017 quilt on the wallpaper wall but it did not fit, so I painted the wall so it would match better. The new light grey paint was so beautiful that I did not want to cover it with the large bright quilt. Finally the quilt found it's place on the other wall and the newly painted wall was left empty. I remembered a pile of old eighties mirrors in my storage. Mirrors could be a luxurious and light wall element for a small apartment as mine is. Going all eighties and putting the mirrors to a grid was not my thing. I wanted the mirror wall look more like wall art and contemporary. I made some drawings and thought that harlequin pattern made with mirrors and empty gaps might be simple yet stylish solution.

For this project you will need:

A wall
9 Square shaped mirrors
Strong tape that is made for attaching mirrors
Strong cotton yarn
Masking tape
Small weight (like scissors or stone..)
Tape measure

Step 1. Measure the mirrors you are using so that you know how big space you need to arrange on your wall.  Clean the wall and the mirrors. Take a piece of yarn that is well over the height of the three mirrors going on row. Attach the weight to the end of the yarn and use masking tape to hang the yarn to the wall as seen in the picture. This yarn will show you the middle row of mirrors and you have to attach the mirrors so that the two corners go to the line (=you get the mirrors straight).

Step 2. Take the first mirror and put strong tape to four sides like in the picture. Attach the mirror according to the yarn line seeing that the two corners go to the line. Also remember to consider the height so that there is space from the ceiling plus other two mirrors have space under the first one.

Step 3. Attach the rest of the mirrors of the row. Pull off the yarn from under the mirrors.

Step 4. Use one mirror as a measure to get the place for the next row. Put it to the space that is going to be a gap and make a mark to the outer corner. Do the same to other gap. Now you have two marks and you use these marks to set the line with the yarn. Hang it again so that it goes through the marks.

Step 5. Attach the first mirror of the second row so that two of the corners go to the yarn line and third one to the corner of the middle row's first mirror. Attach the rest of the mirrors similar way.

Step 6. Now it is time to go to the other side of the middle row and repeat steps 4. and 5. Polish the mirrors.

Now you have harlequin inspired pattern made with 9 mirrors. In case you have bigger wall you could use more mirrors. It is easy to attach the mirrors with the help of the yarn line. 

Hope this tutorial was helpful. This is one example how different old things can look when you decide to arrange them differently instead of the ordinary way. It feels like the mirror wall has doubled the space and the Egypt posters I have on the opposite wall reflect to the mirrors. It is like Narnia when you look your home through the mirrors not to mention the dancing hall effect when it is evening and no one is looking ;D

You might also like these posts: Furniture makeover ideas and new style for living room and Garbage Treasures: Trendy Magazine Stand.

Have a great start for the week!


Friday, 18 August 2017

Decorate Rattan 3. Boho Flowerpot Basket

Friday at last! Bohemian style flowerpot basket is to close my Decorate Rattan theme week. In case you haven´t seen parts one and two check out the tutorials here: Colorful Coasters / Party Ready Glass Cozies.  Baskets that I have painted today are both from thrift store, 3,50€ per one. In bigger thrift stores it is easy to find a pile of different baskets. Challenge is to go through all and sort the best and most suitable for painting project like this. The more simple the basket is the better the paint and shells will look in it. 

You will need:

-A basket
-Acrylic lacquer paint in two colors
-Cotton yarn
-Small/ Medium brush
-Two needles

Step 1. Choose two colors you want to use in your work. You can use more but I noticed that  the safest way to succeed is to narrow the amount of color because the pattern already makes the basket stand out. Look closely the basket and how it has been woven to see the pattern. Decide which areas you want to paint. In case you have similar baskets you can make all look different just by painting different parts of the woven pattern. 

Step 2. Paint parts of the woven pattern and leave some unpainted. In case you have small details to paint choose smaller brush. Let dry. 

Step 3. I painted two baskets and twined shells to one. Here is how to ad shells. Making a hole to a shell: Take a strong sharp needle, tongs, hammer and  cutting board. Keep the needle with tongs and hammer like a nail to the shell as shown in the picture. 

Step 4. Take yarn and needle. Make a knot to the end of the yarn and come from the inside of the basket to the outside. Take a shell to the yarn and go inside to the basket same route. Repeat coming outside every 3 cm (or depending the size of the basket/ shells you are using) and taking a shell and going back in.

Step 5. The yarn you use to attach  the shells goes neatly inside the basket. End the yarn when you have attached shells around the basket. Place a plant that is in a pot to the basket.

I was surprised how great yucca trees look again. Few years ago I couldn´t have imagined to buy one and now it looks so fresh and new! Quite many eighties trends are now in style. Maybe a bit transformed but still very recognizable.  Rattan, indoor jungles, mirrors, colors not to talk about clothes fashion and music. When trends repeat themselves there is a great chance to use recycled materials and make the original items update to current style. I enjoy this eighties comeback a lot because it allows to use lots of materials, patterns and colors instead of minimalism. Yet I think after this trend minimalism might be the next big thing. Nowadays though, there seems to be few big trends going at the same time so I hope that when one of them is minimalism the others will give a chance to us maximalists :D I have given up with the ideal of finding my own style that would keep year after year not depending what the trends say. For me trends are important source of inspiration and I love to forecast what is coming next. It is fun to get new ideas and find out how to create the same trendy atmosphere with less using upcycled materials and making by myself instead of buying all new from store. Bohemian and DIYed would be great words to describe my style even though colors, materials, patterns and furniture designs might change.

How would you describe your style through the years? Have you found a style you keep no matter what new trend might occur? Or are you more like me and love to participate the trend game?

Have a peaceful and relaxing Weekend! More DIY projects coming next week :)


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Decorate Rattan 2. Party Ready Glass Cozies

Hello Friends! Tuesday and time for the second rattan DIY project of my three part series. I like to have a theme week. I did a series of theme posts last Easter and it was quite fun way to work and create new material to blog. I shall have to think more themes for Autumn, feel free leave suggestions to my comment box what kind of themes you would like to read from my blog. Also if you need special tips for some project or makeover ideas, I am happy to take a challenge!

Even though I was little bit of an Autumn mood yesterday today's project is still summer oriented. I had rattan glass cozies that I bought some DIYing in mind. These are from thrift store like the coasters I did in last post and cost 50 cents per 8 pieces. Rattan products are relatively cheap at thrift stores which is great for us crafters who can ad that 2017 style self. These glass cozies are a perfect match with kitschy straws and colorful napkins. Why not have a backyard party or Birthday celebration with fun beach theme?

You will need:

-Glass cozies
-Acrylic lacquer paint 
-Fun colorful ribbon
-Small brush

Step 1. Paint a stripe to the edge of the glass cozy. Let dry. If you want you can use different color in every glass cozy so that everyone can tell their own glass. I used pink in all :)

Step 2. Measure the ribbon so that it goes around the cozy, cut and glue under the painted stripe. Let dry and you are finished. So easy!

Have a Wonderful DIY Week Everyone! Next and last rattan project is coming at the end of the week :) Hope you have fun finding treasures at thrift stores and making. My evening continues with Jack Kerouac's On the Road, still have few pages to travel in that crazy companion :D


Monday, 14 August 2017

Decorate Rattan 1. Colorful Coasters

It is weird how rattan keeps it's appeal in home decor and trend seems still current after what is over a year. I like the natural palette but because I can't keep my hands off from colors I have taken a needle, brush and some bright colors to add a more bohemian vibe to my thrift store finds. I also took a look in to my cabinets to find small extra decor to mix with color. You know how boxes somehow fill with ribbons, shells, stones, beads, buttons.. even though you would not intentionally collect those things :D Small DIY painting and embroidering projects are a good chance to forget week's to do lists and let yourself fly on creative clouds. This week I am going to share three easy DIY projects on how to decorate plain rattan objects. You might not be able to find exactly same kind of baskets or mug coasters, but these ideas can be adjusted in what ever small rattan object you have in hand. Today I will show you how to create bohemian vibe to cheap rattan coasters.

Who would´t like to have a little bit of colorful bohemian style to brighten up coffee table or everyday meal? I found these rattan mug coasters very cheap, 6 for 50 cents. Plain beige rattan offers a good chance to play with color. First I thought about painting stripes or flowers to these but I came to second thoughts. Because I make quilts I always have embroidery yarn in storage. To this project I chose six colors to embroider a simple sun  pattern.

What you will need is simple: 
-embroidery yarn (left overs are perfect for this project!)
- sharp needle

And the best part, only technique you need to know is how to make chain stitch! I took these two pictures so you can remember how it is done. If you need a more detailed instructions, you can google it. But it is one of the easiest stitches when you find out how it is done.

Step 1. Take yarn to the needle and make a small knot to the end. *Come through from the backside to the front. Turn back to the backside near the point you just came. Pull yarn and leave a little loop to the front side.

Step 2. Move straight few millimeters and come to the front and through the loop you left. Pull the yarn and you have a first chain*. Repeat** making chain stripes from the outer circle to the middle with different colors. Make about eleven or twelve stripes.

So simple that you can embroider these while listening to radio or audio book. I have been going through BBC Proms concerts as I have a goal to listen all that come to Finnish radio. This is also easy project to carry in a purse or backpack in case you know you have some spare time to make stitch or two. 

Tomorrow I will post a new small rattan DIY project. While waiting for that you can read about rattan headboard makeover or this easy basket decoration idea. In case you are in embroidering mood this embroidered lampshade project might be for you :)


Last week I was on a small trip to Southern Finland to meet a good friend. I had forgotten how close towns are in Southern Finland, I got to see three in four days. Here distances are bigger and it is quite rarely that I make a day trip. The week was full of inspiration as you can imagine when seeing new places, shops and museums (I love going to museums). Also Lahti is a great place for thrifters! Huge thrift stores to make great finds. Price level is reasonable and it is possible to make great finds. These coasters are from that trip. I also found Finnish glass and ceramics in a very good price. I should actually take a picture to my Instagram this week about what I found in case you are interested. 

Now that summer's trips are behind it has been time to schedule Autumn. I cannot believe that it is time to talk about Autumn, but I heard from news that last week some kids already started school after summer holidays. August is still summer but September is syyskuu, freely autumn month, in Finnish so I have to admit that the season is changing. A good thing is that nights are darker so I get to sleep better and it is easier to keep some rhythm in life :P. I might get in to better posting schedule now that the hot summer days don´t keep me outdoors all day long. I also like the darker evenings as it gives a healthy break to sit down, read a book or watch a movie.

Today I have had a very good feeling about things and this Autumn season. I have wanted to learn more about digital content creation's technical side and now I have found a way to take part in some lectures. I have to say, now that I am older (late twenties) my attitude towards studying has changed. As a teen and early twenties I used to think studying as a duty. Now I am just eager to learn more about things that really interest me to become better in what I want to do. 

Every Monday is a new start! Great week to you all!


Thursday, 3 August 2017

Welcome to the Quilter's Residence!

I have finally completed the quilting project that I started in Easter holidays! It has not been a full time job for me so that is why it took so long. I have made smaller DIY projects and furniture makeovers every now and then (plus of course a lot more that is not related with crafts or DIY). During the July heat I made very little progress until the end of the month when I decided it was time to get this done before it is covered in dust. I had fun making this quilt and it has been a combination of two techniques that were new to me and I wanted to give a try. It had enough challenge although making 54 similar blocks begun to feel like routine sewing. Friendship braid was great way to use all leftovers and super easy to make. It is like making one corner of a log cabin. I had to be creative with corners as even the leftovers begun run off and I used small squares instead to make moving birds. After all solving problems and finding out new solutions is what makes every quilt so special. If I would have made this 100% according to the plan it might not be as beautiful and interesting as this is.

I made a wild decision when hanging the quilt. I put it to my sleeping space where I already have the last years quilt as a blanket. It surely will divide opinions but I think it looks great. Overall impression is artistic and super colorful. Warm quilts also create wanted coziness which is not bad for sleeping corner. My intention with this years quilt was to collect the essence of summer to one work so that it would warm also mentally when winter storms arrive (not soon I hope!). I named last year's quilt Southern Ocean (click to see more). This year's work is Spirit of 2017. I love to combine traditional patterns and ultra modern colors and fabric. I think this year's work has a hint of pop cultural hues and modern art inspiration bound with folklore patterns and symbolic like moving birds in the corners.

As I already told on Instagram the final part of making a quilt this big is always the most challenging. It is like a workout to manage huge work than weights a ton. Because I made patterns so petite it means that the seams took as much fabric as the right side. With patting and back  fabric it was a good weight lifting exercise to stitch. Now that the work is on the wall I begin to forget the difficulties and plan next project. My back still hurts from this one so it might be that I make something smaller like decorative pillows (that corner might need some quilted pillows don't you think :P) and return with my blanket projects next year, laugh. 

Have you been quilting or sewing lately? Or making other DIY projects? It would be nice to hear about You! I love to connect with DIYers, makers and people who love to read about these subjects!

Have a wonderful Thursday and Weekend my friend!