Happy New Year!

…just a week late, but nevertheless… I hope you had a lovely holiday. :)

Mine was OK. My sisters came for a two-week visit, which was lovely – I hadn’t seen them in about a year and a half. The downside was that we were all sick. Little J had a high fever on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and he spent the days sleeping. He opened some of his presents on Christmas Eve, as is the Finnish custom, and the rest on the 27th when he finally felt better…

But we did get to do some fun stuff too. We drove up to Whistler for a day, and the best part of the trip really is the scenery…. The highway runs between the mountains and the sea, it was a gorgeous sunny day, and we stopped at few different viewing spots to take photos.

Photo credit: my sister Anna

Photo credit: my sister Anna

On New Year’s Day I remembered a package of puff pastry in the fridge. I had bought it frozen for some Christmas pastries, and hadn’t used it… We also had some apples that were getting old, so I made a quick apple pie that turned out great!

First, layer the pastry into a pie dish. Peel and slice the apples, approx. three of them, and spread the slices on the pastry. Sprinkle cardamom and cinnamon powder on the apples, and add a dash of salt. Really.

Then the secret ingredient…

secret ingredient

Take about half a dozen of these little treats, cut them up into little pieces and spread over the apples.

Fold the edges of the pastry on top of the apples if needed, and brush with egg wash. Bake in 175C / 350F for about 20 min until the edges are golden brown.

And voila!

It was really simple, and really tasty. :) Another good Indian custom is to start a New Year off by eating something sweet – as in, it should be the first thing in your mouth after midnight. :)

Oh, talking about Indian customs… I sorted out the new clothing thing by buying a pair of socks and a pair of tights. I needed the socks anyway, and I’ve come to a conclusion that I’ll never manage to make a pair of decent leggings (since I can’t seem to manage a decent t-shirt, and that’s just so much easier…) so I might as well buy a pair since I really need one. I also had a skirt I had knitted last fall but hadn’t worn at all, so that rounded up my three new things to wear on Christmas, birthday and New Year. It’s a bit of a cop-out since it wasn’t three new outfits but it’ll have to do.

Christmas is coming

One Indian custom we’ve always been observing in our family is that everyone gets new clothes for Christmas, New Year and birthdays.

My birthday is between Christmas and New Year. That means new clothing for three days in the next couple of weeks. But I’ve decided not to buy anything.

I think I’m in trouble.

Advent Calendar Saga, part last

Well, it’s not really an epic saga… But it sure felt like it when I was in the middle of it!

I finished the calendar on Monday night, Dec 1st, after my boy had gone to bed. I had got all the pockets on during the day, and few of the buttons to hang the ornaments on, so we were able to do our first day’s devotional. I finished sewing the rest of the buttons on later that night.

Final result:

Not bad for three nights’ worth of work! :) I was right about the acrylic felt, though, the pockets are quickly stretching out of shape. I might have to replace them with wool felt ones. But not this year.

Advent calendar saga, part 1

J is three years old, and this is the first year he’s really looking forward to Christmas. He’s constantly asking “is it Christmas today?” when he wakes up in the morning, and keeps asking about Christmas tree and decorating. So I thought it would be nice to have an advent calendar for him, to keep track of days. I didn’t want a chocolate one, though… When I was a kid we always had those paper calendars where you open a flap, and then there’s a part of a story or a picture underneath. Our local little Christian bookstore has had them in the past, so we went looking for one last week. But they were sold out!

Well, I had already told J about the calendar so now we needed to get one. I had a DIY inspiration moment, and hit Pinterest for ideas. There are lots of lovely ideas to choose from. And really, how hard could it be…?

I decided to make a calendar like this, with the Jesse Tree ornaments and story. Jesse Tree tells the stories of waiting for the Messiah in the Old Testament, and then the story of Jesus’ birth, the fulfilment of all the waiting. Even in my most ambitious DIY moments I usually manage to keep some sense of reality (hah!), so I found printable ornaments for the tree here, and maybe I’ll make felt ones or something next year.

So, I just need to make the calendar itself this year. December 1st is Monday. I started on Thursday, after J had gone to bed, and cut out all the felt rectangles for the pockets.

Since it was only 10 pm when I was done, I decided to cut out the numbers too. That shouldn’t take too long, right?

At around midnight I decided to leave the rest for later. Cutting out little bits is a LOT slower than cutting out rectangles!

Friday. I managed to cut out the rest of the numbers in the afternoon, and went to the fabric store to pick up some canvas for the background as well as a bigger piece of green felt for the tree. In the evening I had no time to do anything at all – I had to get ready for a craft fair on Saturday.

Saturday. I pulled out the hot glue gun after J had gone to bed, and started attaching the numbers on the pockets. An hour and a few minor burns later they were done. Whoever designed the hot glue gun probably didn’t envision it being used to glue on tiny, floppy pieces of felt… It was just about impossible to hold on to a number and put glue on it without getting some on my fingertips.

So now it’s Sunday. Sewing day! First I cut out the tree (the easiest part of the whole process so far) and the background piece. Then I started pinning the pockets on the background. I quickly noticed that the canvas piece wasn’t quite wide enough, and I had to trim the pockets a little to make them fit. Good thing too, because they weren’t exactly all the same size. Ahem… One of these days I’ll learn to measure my projects properly before cutting…

The tree and 1/3 of the pockets have finally been attached to the background. The rest will have to wait – it’s 11 pm and I can’t sew a straight line anymore… One thing I may regret later is using cheap craft felt instead of the better wool stuff. I had lots and lots of felt at home, so I used it for the pockets, and bought more of the same for the tree. But it stretches out when I sew – I’m afraid this might not become an heirloom after all… But at this point I fail to care. The main goal is to get it done.

Unforeseen toubles

Well, I didn’t think of this possibility when I started my 365 days of no clothing shopping… I’ve lost 10 kg (that’s 22lbs) since July. The new pair of jeans I had got then are so loose I can pull them on and off with the zipper and the button closed. They look really baggy. I have another pair of jeans that fits somewhat better but those are the ones I needed to replace, and had been dedicated to be playground jeans. They’re back in regular duty now, in spite of looking rather worn…

I’ve been wearing a lot more skirts lately. The only problem is that it’s too cold to wear them on their own – and my leggings are too big too! Which ones are easier to make, jeans or leggings??

I haven’t got any t-shirts made yet either. The fabrics I was so happy about shrank in the wash (and this, children, is why you always wash your fabrics before sewing…) and they’re now barely enough to make a 1980s crop top. I didn’t wear those in the 80s, I’m not going to wear them now. But I need t-shirts. I didn’t find any t-shirt jersey from Our Social Fabric last time, and I couldn’t make it to today’s sale, I’ll have to figure something out. Maybe I’ll pull one of the big ones from my material stash and refashion it, and see what comes of that.

Three months into the challenge. We’ll see how this goes.

Our Social Fabric

Our Social Fabric is a textile recycling initiative, a non-profit that collects donations of fabric and sells them to anyone who wants to buy. The fabrics come from individuals as well as from businesses – garment factories here in Canada (yes, they do exist), film industry, and so on. They are fabrics that aren’t needed and would end up in the landfill, thus adding to the massive volume of solid waste that we dispose of each year.

Instead, volunteers sort out and price the fabrics, organize them in bins according to colour, or leave bigger amounts on bolts – you can buy the whole thing, or get a piece cut for you. OSF announces their sale dates on their website and their Facebook page, and people go and shop. You can also find patterns, books, notions and other sewing-related stuff.

It’s like a treasure hunt – you never know what’s there. In October I scored a 3-meter piece of gorgeous purple silk that’s going to become a dress. (Part of it also became a cape for my little boy, now also called Captain Purple – the only preschool superhero with a genuine silk cape.) And here’s my loot from yesterday’s sale – also called a new dress, a new pair of pants, and who knows what else…

There’s a second piece of the same purple silk, some beige linen-like fabric (although I suspect it’s a blend of some kind), and the light blue, heavily woven, wonderfully drapey, unknown fiber pieces of fabric that will become a wearable muslin (I hope) for the purple silk dress. Missing from the lot is a 4-meter piece of blue cotton that someone (aka. Captain Purple) was turning into a fort when I took the photo… 

Ah, here he is, after pulling down his fort when he needed a scarf instead. :)

So that’s yards and yards of fabric that cost me $24 (but only because the silk was a bit more expensive than others) and didn’t end up in the landfill.

The only question I have is, why didn’t I check OSF out years ago?