Made Stuff Tuesday (again) 4 – Colour blocked sweater dress

This little dress was a morning sew with a toddler wandering around! So, fast and easy! The pattern is B3772 from Butterick’s (aptly named) 6 Sew Fast & Easy collection – see what I did there?


The only changes I made were to switch the buttons and buttonholes so that it buttons top over bottom and to cut two pieces for front and back (adding a seam allowance) instead of cutting on the fold. The front facing is one piece but the back is also split because I didn’t have quite enough fabric to make it in one piece. You may recognize the pink and orange from the 80s throwback sweater… The red is from another thrifted sweater picked up at the same time. Like in the previous project I had fun making the most of original details. The front pink panel is fussy cut to include the cute little embroidered Cupid. The buttons are also thrifted – there’s a couple enormous button bins at our local shop that the kids love digging through for treasures, and these fit the mood of this dress like a charm! I did the buttonholes by hand with some bright orange DMC embroidery thread, mainly because I didn’t feel like figuring out the buttonhole settings on my new machine – hah! Handmade buttonholes are really not that bad if you only have a few and  you want them to make a statement anyway.

I would include a nice picture of Mistral wearing the dress… but I don’t have one. Mainly because as soon as it’s on her she’s all:


I had a lot of fun making this and it’s a nice weight to either wear by itself or throw on as a an extra layer over a lighter outfit. She’ll hopefully get a few seasons of wear out of it too – there’s a bit of extra length on the straps to move the buttons up (hence the swap from the original) and the A-line shape is quite roomy so it should work nicely as a tunic as well!

I’ve got a few projects finished up and photographed to share so hopefully I can do write ups and have them posted on time in the next few weeks! Today though, I need to figure out some sort of mostly orange outfit more Mistral to wear on Koningsdag (I made Sirrocco’s yesterday!)

What have you been making lately?



Friendship and conversation

Last Thursday was a good day for conversations – online and off. After several weeks of sickness in the house and similar stories in my friends’ houses I managed to catch up with one friend for morning coffee and another one for afternoon coffee on the same day! On top of that, Annie of Possum Cottage started an interesting conversation about intentional living and defining their lifestyle over on her Instagram. This got me thinking about who are friends are, and why we’re friends.

My two friends are, like me, mothers and married to academics. They’ve both been in this particular town longer than we have, but we share a history of moving around with funding and contracts and ending up in places we didn’t necessarily expect. We’re navigating raising small children without family nearby, in a culture and language that is not our own. Our best common language is English, but our kids are more comfortable in other languages (Dutch with one family, French with the other). We swap parenting advice and are alternately amused and baffled at what our friends back home, from here  and living abroad do differently. (How much outdoor time small children need daily is both baffling and amusing in terms of difference. From EXTREMELY high priority in Finland, diminishing through Canada, Poland, Germany and finally apparently “not really a thing” here in the Netherlands.)

Much as I really resisted the idea of living in a little “expat bubble” before moving here I am finding it really has its advantages. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Finding community is difficult, and while I’ve met some lovely people with common interests over the years I think in many ways finding people you can converse with make better friends.

Many of my friends my age are young scientists or artists building their careers. I have no interest in that for myself but I see their struggle to succeed in something they are passionate about and it’s so close to my heart because that’s where Kyle is at too. And it’s so fascinating to hear about their research, their art, their process. How they find and generate ideas, where they look for inspiration, what their hobbies are and how these different things feed off of each other, inspire each other.

Most of my “mom-friends” are actually a bit older than I am, though we didn’t have our first particularly young. I don’t know if it’s just a question of the communities we’ve lived in, or of who I happen to get talking to (though it probably has something to do with the fact that I was drawn to the quiet confidence of experienced moms of multiple/older children when I had my first – I had enough anxiety without having a bunch more first time moms panicking over small things around me…). Many of these friends have jobs outside the home too – which I don’t and don’t have much interest for either, honestly. It’s often a bit awkward – the whole “what do you do?” question is not a favourite. Of course, we talk about our kids and that is an inexhaustible topic, but the friends – not acquaintances, despite some being very friendly – are the ones where we talk about other things, about travel, about books, about our past and our future and our theories on how the world works. They are – most importantly – the ones who will turn to their children and say “Just a moment, Mommy’s talking right now.”

I think it’s starting to hit me t in spite of being very good at seeing the differences in age, stage, interests etc within my set of friends I’ve overlooked something important. I’ve often felt lucky to have so many creative, bright people as friends – that there were always such interesting people to talk to everywhere I went. I think there might be a reason for that. That maybe, just maybe, in spite of having a dusty degree and having retired from my official career, I might be one of them too.


Made Stuff Monday (or, you know, Tuesday) 3 – Flannel doily skirt

I am back from the depths of bronchitis~ Huzzah!

I actually managed to get a few things done, but no good photos. (oops) Shortened a couple pairs of pants into shorts for Sirocco (come on SPRING!!) and finally fixed a dress of mine that had torn last summer and gotten shoved away in the packing frenzy.

This project was completed a few weeks ago and I have pictures – so we’ll talk about that instead.


I was inspired by Nell of Whole Parenting Family’s wonderful line of flannel and lace skirts and since I had a few pairs of  Kyle’s old torn pyjama pants I figured I would give the idea a try. I looked around my stash and didn’t find any bits of lace long enough to trim the skirt, which put me off the idea briefly, but then I found a pile of old doilies and had a vague recollection of a dress with a doily appliqué on it… (Probably from Carefree Clothes for Girls?)

So here you go: elastic waistband, nice deep hem allowance for a bit of flare, carefully matching the plaid at the side seams and hand sewing the carefully cut out centre of a large doily. It’s pretty cute, if I do say so myself!

Mistral loves it – I’m told it’s her Sun Skirt, and it does twirl quite satisfyingly. A nice, easy to wear skirt for a young adventurer.


Have a blessed Holy Week! 


Made Stuff Monday 2 – Pace of Nature Embroidery

Remember how last weekend I got all productive since the big kid was sick? Yeah…. The little one was sick this week and it was a different story. She basically morphed into a 12 kilo newborn, refusing to sleep except on me and only drinking liquids. Needless to say she got wrapped a bunch and I sat on the sofa with her a lot. (And of course now I’m sick, surprise!)


These unfortunate circumstances haven’t quite killed the maker spirit though. It turns out embroidery really is the best hobby for a mom of little kids, because it’s basically the only thing that got done this week besides feeding people.


I’ve been working on this piece (pattern by ThreadFolk ) on and off for a few months now. It really didn’t take all that many hours of stitching honestly (I think? I have no idea… I didn’t count. Maybe next time). And has a really gorgeous colour palette.


I had a lot of fun working it, and it gave me ample opportunity to practice my backstitch, french knots and satin stitch (all of which have honestly improved over the course of this project – definite win!).

I will say though, that before starting another project I will source some better fabric. I really mostly wanted to do this one as a learning project, and decided that the ivory poly-cotton blend I had lying around in my sewing room would be fine, but I think it made my life more difficult in the sewing and doesn’t really enhance the overall look of the stitching now that it’s done. After doing some reading (on Needle n Thread, the most wonderful online source of information on all things embroidery!) I’ve found that some of the thread fuzziness I’ve been experiencing is probably due to the use of a too-tight woven polyester. Natural fibers are just friendlier to each other. Lesson learned!


Anyway, that’s it for now, back to resting for me! Are you crafting anything fun these days?


Made Stuff Monday 1 – 90s throwback Sweater


This is a series to keep track of the stuff I make! Not necessarily on Mondays, but I guess it’s nice to pick a day to talk about it, so here we are – I am thinking I’ll throw a few tutorials around, but mostly this is just detailed notes on process, materials, and trying stuff in a general way.

As much as I don’t actually *like* it when the kids are sick – obviously, it’s no fun for them, and I sympathize – being stuck at home with a 4 (and A HALF, Maman!) year old who is spending the day sleeping off a fever and watching The Wind in the Willows can be a great boost to one’s productivity! I got some lovely simple bunting done for the kids’ room and also – THE SWEATER. More on that.


Sirocco has been growing at an alarming rate lately – shirts that where way too big when he started school mid November fit just right, none of his pants need the hems rolled up and the new sweater I bought him in September is definitely too small, as is his favourite hoodie. This last being of course an issue of major concern. The boy has always had opinions on his wardrobe and is not a fan of outgrowing his favourites. What with the Atelier (our little grown up haven of creativity – more on that later!) being all set up and having gotten the hang of my new sewing machine with a few quick projects for his sister I figured I could probably make him something. Add to that, that our local library allows me to check out sewing magazines with the patterns in them – it was a no-brainer to dig through a couple of back issues of Knippie and find something suitable. The next issue of course was fabric.


I’ve never actually sewn sweatshirt material and didn’t have any in my stash – which skews a bit girly and/or flannel-y for this project. Fabric shopping is a vast and complex sea of options, but local stores here have a fairly limited selection and ordering fabric is expensive (shipping costs are the bane of my creativity) and a bit dicey if you don’t know the quality of the product you are ordering. My solution? A trip to the thrift store! The pattern requires 3 different fabrics so we (of course Sirocco came with me – last weekend before the fever – to pick his colours!) searched the men’s and women’s sections for good sized sweaters in coordinating fabrics of similar weight. 15€ (and a long look through the enormous bin of buttons) later we were all set with a sorbet orange with a cool anchor with a crown logo on the back, a soft heathered pink and an over-dyed indigo. The boy’s colour sense makes his painter Dad proud, what can I say?


In my spare moments of the last week I disassembled the sweaters, traced and cut out the pattern in the correct size (122/sz 7 but *apparently* he’s right on average on the growth chart…). Saturday I took a deep breath, and cut the fabric. I largely ignored the actual directions in the magazine – in all honesty, mostly because they were in Dutch and I had no idea what they were saying. Also because the construction was basically that of basic a “peasant top” 4 rectangles, chop the top corners to make rectangles into irregular hexagons, attach all 4 at the neck, sew the side seams, boom. done. Because jersey doesn’t fray, I took some shortcuts with the piecing of the cutouts – added a bit of seam allowance on the under pieces, none on the top pieces and basically just appliquéed them with a double row of stitching. I also cheated with the hem and arm bands and stitched them as part of the length of the fabric, directly in the side seam, rather than making loops and applying them to the completed body. It loses a bit of the gathering effect this way, but was quick, looks nice and does not affect fit.


The sewing went fairly smoothly, other than some initial trouble with skipped threads in the testing phase – switching to a smaller needle proved an easy and effective solution – until I broke it with one side seam and a collar to go… and had no more jersey needles in that size. The larger needle seemed to work fine to finish off though – so I’m not quite sure what the problem was initially. Otherwise, just the usual – running out of bobbin thread just before the end of the project, re-threading 5 times before thinking of re-threading the afore mentioned bobbin, realizing that in my rush to finish I had put it in backwards – good thing I have this hobby to help me relax, right?


The end result though, is stunning, though I say so myself! And of course, he loves it. And was quite pleased that it had “rose” in it for Laetare Sunday yesterday! I think he’s planning on wearing it every day forever though, which might be a problem if I ever want to wash it…



Lent so far…

IMG_20180214_105953_059In spite of appearances, I did not in fact give up blogging for Lent… But the past several weeks have been marked with more than their fair share of both curses and blessings – a sort of “May you live in interesting times” kind of deal. So, after a delightful Mardi Gras complete with masks and crêpes…

Lent opened up with a bang – everyone (including Grandparents who’d flown half way across the globe to visit us – yay!) got sick with a relatively awful stomach bug – boo. We still all managed to have a good time taking a weekend trip to Antwerp and going to the Zoo – yay! (but not getting to any of the lace/fabric shopping I was wanting to do – boo.)


The next week was school vacation – yay! But we were still all recovering from being sick – boo. The weather was a bit unexpected… A polar vortex in early March? Um, ok… We did make the most of it though and got some really delightful sunny outdoor skating done and drank a lot of hot chocolate. I really hope we get to live somewhere with real winters next time we move though. We were really not equipped for -10C temperatures. As a result, I’m honestly surprised the kids managed to skate at all – never mind stand up again when they fell, they were bundled up with so many layers!


This Tuesday I finally got to have my regularly scheduled alone while the kids are in care only to have crippling waves of nausea that had me sitting on the couch for a few hours trying to decide whether I needed to call in reinforcements to pick up said children – which it turns out is not conducive to sitting down to type up even somewhat coherent thoughts. (I ended up being fine. The nausea subsided just in time to get a picnic packed and go get the small ones and take them to the park – because of course the weather has moved on and it’s now +10C in the afternoon!)

So here we are, blogging on a Thursday, but otherwise getting back into a semblance of routine. As much as I love winter and ice and snow (of which we got only a dusting) I am ready for spring and its boots+jacket ease for getting everyone out the door… And I just remembered it’s the big one’s half birthday so we’re going to have to make some cupcakes happen! Life just doesn’t stop, which I suppose is for the best.



Food pictures for your Mardi Gras!

Hem, so Lent starts tomorrow – which means that if I want to get a wrap up of the delicious food I made over Christmas it’s sort of now or never. So, how about now?!

Everything was delicious, some of it was healthy and there are link to as many of the recipes that I can find on the internet! Enjoy!

Pepperkakor! Super duper spick thin crispy Swedish gingerbread cookies from Fika by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall. Both authors are artists in their own right and you should probably follow them on instagram. (And buy the book and make Semlor for Mardi Gras next year… it’s not something that will happen this year, but it did last year and it was the best.)

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Christmas breakfast! We go to mass on Christmas eve, usually midnight, but this year we did 7pm… And so breakfast on Christmas morning is a lazy baked french toast affair. No real recipe, just white bread, berries and cream cheese drowned in eggs and milk before baking, drowned in Maple Syrup after baking.


Christmas dinner! We made tourtière for Christmas eve, but somehow I didn’t get a pictures… We made a mixed seafood chowder (kind of a mashup between a Laura Calder recipe and an Aimée Wimbush-Bourque recipe – huzzah for Canadian ladies writing cookbooks!) with this brilliant crudité idea from Simple Bites. Oh and Sterrenbroodjes from the store, because they were cute.

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Christmas dessert! Bûche aux biscuits – the recipe is from a kid’s Christmas book, but basically you smash up a package of cookies and mix it with a bunch of butter and sugar and cup of coffee, shape it into a log and refrigerate overnight. Then you cover it in melted chocolate and serve it with the tartest tangiest berries you can get your hands on because it is *sweet*. Sirocco did all the smashing and mixing. I did the decoration. The leaves are coloured almond paste – but we only remembered to make them on the second day of Christmas…

Somewhere in there… Tortilla flower. A house favourite that got our darling children hooked on recipe videos. There are worse things on Youtube for them to find… It’s also super easy and delicious.

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New Year’s eve! I stayed up until midnight making Stout Cranberry Mascarpone Chocolate TrufflesJust let that sink in for a sec. From The Beeroness, which is always delicious (and often a bit of work, but so worth it!) And Kyle took pictures of me, but not of the finished truffles… So there you go. (My awesome, nerdy, Tolkien quote sweater is from Tea With Tolkien – purveyor of delightful nerdy, Tolkien things.)

Epiphany! Apple-marzipan galette. Phyllo dough, a bit of marzipan, sliced apples, one big whole almond. Laziest galette des rois ever. Still tasty!IMG_20180106_184335409

I also received a cookbook for Christmas. (The Simple Bites Kitchen – Suspense is not worth it, good cookbooks need to be shared!) So there are actual nice pictures of recipes from there, but that can be for another day! Enjoy the feasting and have a Holy Lent everyone!