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I have a new motto: Don’t do today what you can get done much faster if you wait until the last minute.

There are certain things that are best left until the last minute. Like packing for a vacation. Start few days ahead and yet you will find yourself packing things at the last minute and using three times as much time on it as otherwise. I found out that costumes are another such thing. Wait until the last minute and you are forced to cut corners and make it simple.

My daughter had her first gymnastic performance this weekend. Home came a cryptic note that she was supposed to dress up in typical worn Oliver Twist clothes. I really didn’t feel like making anything and just put it off until the last moment. I was secretly hoping the dad would step up and magically produce something. I guess I have been a bit delusional lately…

So on Saturday I dug up some fabric (white cotton from Ikea and some brown viscose? fabric piece I think I bought at Stoff and Stil long time ago). I printed out a pattern for the Nora dress and got to work. I made up the apron pattern as I went along looking at a photo online.

I pretended I was participating in the Sewing Bee and needed to get everything done at record speed. If the makers of that show ever feel the need to throw in an extra challenge they should just give the contestants and infant to take care of. He was very cute though while still happy and “helping” me.

Everything was a one big hack. The dress I didn’t hem at all under the pretense that it made it look more worn. The apron is hemmed but just quickly with an overlock and one fold. Driving to the store that day was risky business. I had been hitting the sewing machine pedal so hard that I had problems not doing the same with the car.

It got done Saturday night and on Sunday we rubbed some ashes on the apron and the little orphan girl went to the show and made her parents proud.

The photo shoot was done in the same quick and at the last moment spirit. The model even threw in little acting without me asking. This is how she says you look when you are a poor orphan.

Poor orphan act

Poor orphan act

My daughter was a bit surprised when I made this and said: Mom, I thought you weren’t gonna make any more costumes? I really had no good answer for her but at least I would like to believe I have cracked the costume making code now. It might not be completely stressless but at least you stress for a shorter amount of time. Maybe I will start applying my new motto to more things in life.

Practicing

Practicing

Apron (I am sure orphans didn't have an iron...)

Apron (I am sure orphans didn’t have an iron…)

Feel the need to piss off a feminist? Make some cupcakes preferably with pink frosting and blog about it! For some reason cup cakes seem to have become the nemeses of feminists.

I only recently started calling myself a feminist. I have always wanted to stay away from that title because I think many of the high profiled feminists are too narrow minded. As with any other political view or religion it tends to get out of hand. It all starts with a person with good intentions. They simply want to make the world a better place. Then it always ends up with those same people trying to shoehorn people into a certain way of living (their way of living).

To me feminism is all about women having equal opportunity to do whatever they want. What they choose to do shouldn’t be anyone’s business.

There are plenty of issues that need to be sorted out. Women should be able to speak out in public without risking harassment, they should have equal opportunity in the work place and equal pay for equal work. Women shouldn’t be objectified and evaluated on their appearance. The list goes on and on.

There are numerous articles in media on how you should accomplish equality. They tend to focus on how women have to stop doing housework and stop making food from scratch. It has gotten to a point that people brag about forgetting their kid’s birthday. A true feminist definitely forgets some Kindergarten events and buys something ready made for the ones she remembers. You go straight to feminist hell if you dare to take two extra minutes to cut out animal shaped piece of ham for your kids lunch box.

Here I think it has gone all wrong. If someone gets pleasure out of making cup cakes then let them. Is that really a worse hobby than training for a bike race, fishing, hanging out at cafés or posting feminist articles on Facebook? Life is all about choice and priorities and should be up to the individual. A pink cup cake is not gonna be the deal breaker in achieving equality. It is not a sign that women are wanting to go back to being housewives. It is simply a hobby for some.

All that being said, I find it a bit sad that cupcakes are getting this unfairly bad reputation. They are really the easiest cakes to make and if you are a busy career women and want to make something they are probably your quickest and best bet. Unless you live right next to a store it might even be quicker to bake some than making an emergency last minute trip to the store.

I have been making these regularly for few years now when I need something quick. I am not really the baking type so these work wonders for every occasion. They can also be easily be decorated in numerous ways to fit the occasion.

Sheep, Frozen, Pippi Princess and Pig cupcake variations.

Sheep, Frozen, Pippi and Pig cupcake variations.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

110 grams butter, at room temperature
180 grams golden cane sugar (or regular white)
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
220 g flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
60 ml milk

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Put butter and sugar in a bowl and beat them with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat them into the mix. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl inbetween each egg. Add the vanilla extract and mix it in.

Mix together the flour, baking powers and salt in a separate bowl. Add one third of the flour mixture and one third of the milk into the batter and beat it with the mixer on low speed. Add the second third of flour mixture and milk and beat. Then the rest and beat.

Line a muffin tin with 12 paper muffin liners. Fill the muffins cups evenly with the batter.

Bake for 20-22 minutes. Test with a tooth pick that it is baked through. Cool and decorate with Vanilla Buttercream frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

140 grams butter, softened
200 g confectioners’ sugar
1/16 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. heavy cream

Beat butter with an electrical mixer until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and salt and beat at a medium speed until everything is mixed. Add the vanilla and cream and beat well until everything is smooth and fluffy.

Remember that point in my last entry where I swore through my teeth that I would never in my life make another costume? Well that didn’t last very long… In the midst of the mega tantrum I thankfully remembered that I was the grown-up and took a deep breath and asked the little lady what she wanted to be at Carnival with the forrest/insect theme in mind. Her answer was quick and clear: A ladybug. I knew right away that resisting the urge to make something was a lost cause.

I have a weakness for ladybugs. I instantly thought of the ladybug fabric I had bought at some point just in case I would ever get the chance to make something. I also figured that this is the last chance I get. Albeit tempting, I don’t think I can send my little boy to Carnival as a ladybug. The poor kid will probably be pushed to wear enough princess dresses here at home to ensure that his feminine side is well intact.

Thankfully, I was quite sensible at this point. I figured I would make something simple and that I might actually enjoy making. With a rather grumpy, picky four year old I figured that there were about million ways I could get this wrong. So I picked a dress pattern and drew a picture that I strategically laid out so she would see it. When she asked what it was I pretended that I had just been drawing. I want this my determined four year old exclaimed! I took that as a good enough approval.

When the dress was ready I just hung it out in the living room and let her discover it. Against all odds it got approved. We later had a little disagreement about wings that according to her were missing, yet the ones I made weren’t approved. At that moment I couldn’t have cared less what she wore to Carnival.

Trying to be a serious ladybug

Trying to be a serious ladybug

Despite all the back and forth she got up in good mood on the Carnival day and headed off to Kindergarten in her ladybug dress with her antlers and seemed quite pleased. After dropping her off I went home and drank some coffee while yet again swearing that I am done with costume sewing. Why bother so much. After all there had been at least one Elsa, one knight, and couple of non forrest/insect animals at Kindergarten…

Not sure I like those antlers

Not sure I like those antlers

The pattern I used was the Oliver + S Bubble dress. It was a straight forward pattern that I tempted to make again. I would however make it without the bubbles on the side as those were quite strange in my opinion. The fabric was old cotton fabric from Stoff og Stil. To make the antlers I simply wrapped some ironed black bias tape on a head band and made the antlers out of pipe cleaners.

Strange flat bubbles

Strange flat bubbles

Posing

Posing

Having fun

Having fun

Climbing in flowers like ladybugs do

Climbing in flowers like ladybugs do

The Cursed Costume

I think this will go down in history as the costume that almost made me go insane. Maybe it is cursed? It wouldn’t surprise me as it is actually a My Little Pony character that is evil (or gone evil). She is originally known as Princess Luna but goes by the name Nightmare Moon when she is transformed by the Nightmare forces. So far I have made this costume twice and it almost made me throw a full blown tantrum at Kindergarten. It also made my four year old throw a major tantrum. Yeah there are some evil forces there.

Nightmare Moon

Nightmare Moon

So how did I get myself into this costume mess. Here comes the long story since I feel the need to get it off my chest.

Before Halloween my little girl came with a strange request. I was expecting her to want to be Elsa but no she wanted to be Nightmare Moon. I had to google that. I think I was quite delusional around that time being almost 9 months pregnant and couldn’t really sit, walk or think. I hobbled through Stoff and Stil on crutches and set to work on the most complex costume I have ever made despite not being able to sit for more than 10 minutes at a time. Halfway through I find out that I hadn’t read the pattern description well enough. What looked like fleece in the photo was actually stretchy velour. Not surprisingly it was too small. With only few days to go I had to throw in the towel and tell my four year old I wouldn’t make it. She took it well and used her Elsa dress. I felt like a complete failure (and a whale).

After Christmas I figured I would give myself ample time to make a costume for the February carnival dress-up they have here in Norway. I was really surprised that my four year old was still set on wanting to be Nightmare Moon. So I started planning again and against better judgment made the plans even more elaborate. Then I started sewing in the midst of colic. It was a painful process with lots of small obstacles. I even managed to vacuum the pony ears at some point…

It looked like I wouldn’t make it for a while. Then a miracle happened and my little one slept well for few hours and I pretty much finished it up. I went to pick up my girl at Kindergarten in a good mood and and told my girl I was almost finished. Right after I find this note.

In short it says Carnival this year is themed: The wood and insects. I bit my teeth together and made sure to leave before I would explode. A pony is really insect isn’t it?

On that same day my daughter is having a particularly bad day. She had just spent the last week sick and probably wasn’t feeling well. She wanted to try the costume when we came home but something about it bothered her so she exclaimed angry that it was all wrong. She was so upset that she was unable to explain what was wrong and just threw a major tantrum. Lets just say I was quite close to throwing a tantrum myself. I swore through my teeth I would never make another costume in my life (something that my next blog post will prove wrong).

Nightmare Moon

Nightmare Moon

So this is a ridiculously advanced costume that might never get used. I forced myself to finish it despite it being “all wrong”. That day she was in a better mood and wanted to wear it. So we took some photos.

The costume was partially based on a pattern from Ottobre 6/2010. I used it as a base but changed quite a few things. I created the hood myself and drew all the stuff I appliquéd by hand. They were intentionally appliquéd quite rough as this was just supposed to be a quick costume. The jewellery is just fabric with some stiff interfacing and attached with velcro to the suit. I used velour for the suit and some jersey rib for most of decorations. Almost everything was from Stoff og Stil. The mane and tail are yarn. The wings aren’t quite stiff enough but can’t be bothered doing anything about that. I based the design on the toy version of Nightmare Moon and she got one as a gift with the costume.

Jewellery

Jewellery

Sleeve and Foot decorations

Sleeve and Foot decorations

Grow a t-shirt

Making sourdough starters and brewing your own beer is so last year people! Now you should be growing your own fabric from among other things bacteria and green tea! A women named Suzanne Lee is the inventor and runs a research project called Biocouture (coolest name ever).

T-shirt with a hint of lemon?

T-shirt with a hint of lemon?

Why would we want to do this? Because the textiles used today aren’t very eco-friendly. Making a single cotton t-shirt requires 4000 liters of water and that is just one negative aspect of it. We need a more sustainable clothing industry.

I watched Schrödingers katt on NRK on the future of the textile industry. That was a fascinating program for the nerd in me that also likes to sew. I really recommend it to the ones of you that understand Norwegian.

It covers many interesting topics on how technology is entering the fabric industry and how the industry is looking for more eco-friendly ways to make fabrics. Fiber optics in your clothing? Clothes as medical devices? Paper dresses and no I am not just talking about this adorable kids that makes paper dresses.

I feel the need to learn more about the environmental impact of different fabrics and the future of textiles after seeing this program. I also feel the need to convince my fiancé that we should try to grow some fabric in the downstairs bathroom. How cool would that be!!

Bending the mommy rules

Disclaimer: I hope no kids were permanently damaged while making this blog post despite the four year old being placed in front of the TV.

After becoming a mom I have a constant internal monologue. It goes something like this:

Selfish-me: I really need a break and just do something grown-up.
Mom-me: You should be spending time with your kids!
Selfish-me: But I just spent the last four hours with my kids. Now I need a break!
Mom-me: It was only things that you had to do like feeding them, getting them dressed, changing diapers, getting the little one to sleep. That is not really quality time with them.
Selfish-me: True…
Mom-me: And while you were feeding and getting the little one to sleep your four year old was being neglected. The little one hasn’t really gotten any quality stimulation either today.
Selfish-me: But I need I break! I am tired and under stimulated. I will have forgotten how to be a grown-up if I don’t do something for myself too.
Mom-me: They will only be kids once and time flies. Do you really want to look back and think you wasted that precious time with them. And I know that look on your face, you are considering putting her in front of the TV. That is not good for her and you should really only use it when you have to do housework or make dinner.
Selfish-me: But but but I… *hangs head in shame*

The last week has been exhausting. The four year old has been home sick for a week. The colic infant is getting a little bit better but still requires excessive holding and care. I am tired and I feel the need to create something, to do something that proves to myself that I am a human being and not just a service- robot. Not even mass producing snowflakes with the four year old is satisfying my creative urge enough. I guess all parents have this internal monologue that makes them guilty every time they do something for themselves but I swear it is gonna kill me if I don’t learn to ignore it soon.

I might suck at ignoring guilt but at least I am good at bending the rules. Making a toy for my kid, that counts as “spending time with the kids” doesn’t it? As we carry the infant all the time in a baby carrier I decided to make a doll carrier for her. She got to pick her own fabric and buttons. I used this tutorial but drew a bigger size. Quick and easy project that gave me a little sense of accomplishment. I really needed that!

To my defence the infant was in a baby carrier during almost the entire process so at least I was doing some attachment parenting…

No hands

No hands

Padded straps

Padded straps

Who is mommy?

I just realized something sad! The concept of a Kodak moment is about to disappear. Soon everyone will be saying Instagram moment and only us oldies will remember what a Kodak moment is. Sigh.

I am in a phase now where there are a lot of these moments. I sometimes worry that my son will think my mobile is what he should call mommy. His awake time (when he is happy) is still short and when he is a awake I often find myself holding my mobile in front of him taking pictures while goo-ing and gaa-ing behind it trying to catch his cute smiles.

Mommy?

Mommy?

I guess all parents find themselves behind their phone and camera a lot trying to catch photos of those brief moments when your kid smiles or when your kid tries their skis for the first time. You should really be living in the moment and enjoying things on the fly because you often miss something while trying to get the camera settings just right. Yet, you want to be able to treasure those moments later as well. It is a constant thug between being there now or being able to look back at those moments. You might be able to wait until they are a sleep to Instagram those photos but that moment only happens once.

So I will probably keep asking myself if my sons smiles are worth less seen through the mobile but I am pretty sure I will be happy that I did this when I am old and (more) wrinkled. Then I will probably only get to enjoy brief visits from my son where he spends most of his time staring at his mobile instead of talking to me. I hope at least the goo-ing and gaa-ing will give him a positive brand loyalty to HTC :) .

I worried for a while that I wouldn’t have time to make my little baby any baby clothes since things have been very hetic. I however managed to squeeze in time to make this romper and since he will grow out of it pretty quickly I decided it was smart to spend some of his awake happy time behind the camera.

The pattern is Fawn from Ottobre 6/2014. The fabric is one I fell flat for from Nosh bought at Olivia and the grey jersey fabric is from the same place.

Flirt

Flirt

Laughing

Laughing

Laughing and kicking

Laughing and kicking

Serious model

Serious model

Cute from every angle

Cute from every angle

My first coverstitch attempt over seams

My first coverstitch attempt over seams

Fish stew and comments

Apparently I have been doing the whole blogger thing wrong. I have been waiting for other people to comment on my blog while all along I should have just been writing the comments myself. That is what the glamorous bloggers (top blog in Norway) do at least. Instead I sit her unbelievable unglamorous in my pyjamas and wait and wait while I struggle doing the simplest things like getting dinner on the table. Unglamorous dinners I might add. Life is a bit hectic with a four year old and a colic infant that wants to be carried most of the time. Keeping up appearances is really not high on my list right now.

I am extremely fascinated by all the bloggers that manage to portray their life as perfect. I often wonder if I could also pull off a perfect appearance on my blog and social media. I am tempted to try but since I despise selfies it is a lost cause. You have to do selfies to pull that off don’t you?

I very well aware that their life isn’t perfect as I have yet to meet a person without imperfections and some kind of skeletons in their closet. It is fascinating to watch these people, how they go to extreme measures to keep up appearances. Not many go to such lengths as Fotballfrue but then again her blog is a full blown business. It reminds me a bit of the Truman show, I wonder if her daughter will feel like Truman? Everything seems orchestrated. Even all the packages under her Christmas tree were in the right color code. Wonder if she sent wrapping instructions to her family? Or if she has a dress code when she invites people for dinner to make sure they can be photographed?

I try to tell myself that this fascination is something positive. That I am just interested in the concept and that I admire these people for being able to pull off an enterprise like that. There is however this nagging feeling at the back of my head that tells me I am also waiting for them to mess up and show that they are human. After all, I am only human like the rest of mankind, I need to feel that I am not the only one with flaws.

Now lets talk about my unglamorous dinner. It might not be fancy, it might not look great but it is easy and it is healthy. I have also tested that it can be made while carrying a crying baby in a baby carrier!

Simple thai fish

Simple thai fish

Eva Thai fish

Adapted from an recipe I found in an Eva magazine many years ago.

Sauce:
1 chili in slices
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of 2 limes
4-5 branches of fresh coriander, chopped
1 tsp fish sauce

Stir all the ingredients together and put aside.

Stew
Handfull of green string beans
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 bell pepper, chopped
400 g white fish cut in cubes, I usually used either haddock or cod
Salt
Black pepper
Oil to fry in

2 spring onions, chopped
2 tbsp Sesame seeds, lightly toasted on a pan

Heat the oil and fry the bell pepper, string beans, and kidney beans until the bell pepper starts to soften. Add the fish, salt and pepper. Fry until the fish is cooked through.

When finished pour the sauce over and stir. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve with rice.

This started as an entry about New Year’s Resolutions. Half way through struggling to find time to write it and after accidentally loosing the little I had actually managed to write, I realized this might not be the best time to set resolutions. There are limits to how much you can get done while spending most of your day and night pacing around the living room and doing squats trying to ease the pain of a crying infant.

Our dear little Jónatan has infant colic and is in a lot of pain. It is dreadful to see your little one in so much pain and not knowing what to do to help him. The general response from doctors is “it will pass”. The regular recommended remedies have no effect so all you can do is wait… and do squats as those do help a bit.

I am carrying him large parts of the day and he sleeps on me at night. Not much alone time in other words. The few moments I am free of him I am rushing around trying to get something to eat, shower and doing all the things that are difficult to do with him hanging on me. I am stressing that nothing is done well enough and I am not doing anything that I really want to do. The few times I actually do something I am not satisfied with the result. It is not like this is a new problem to me but recent events have made it more obvious.

So in 2015 I am gonna work on intensively on one principle and that is the Good Enough principle. Try to lower my standards a bit and just be happy with things that are good enough.

I am wrapping up the last craft project of 2014 under this principle. I would have wanted to redo this project and change few things but due to the circumstances I declared it finished and Silja, Jónatan and me gave it as a late Christmas present to their dad. A beanie with their hand prints in reflective heat transfer.

The dad with his beanie

The dad with his beanie

This is not a full blown tutorial but some “Good Enough” quick guidelines in case you want to give it a try with your Silhouette machine. This tutorial assumes you have some experience with tracing and cutting from before. Would make an excellent Father’s Day or Mother’s Day gift!

1. I sewed a beanie according to this tutorial (in Swedish) and with some good help from friends on how to adapt it to other sizes. In short, use the beanie/hat pattern of your own choice. I used Kaufman Laguna Jersey in Aqua.
2. Painted the hands of my kids with hand paint and made hand prints on a piece of paper. Note: this was not easy with an infant so it had to be done in his (deep) sleep.
3. I scanned in the hand prints when dry. You should fill in the hand prints completely with a dark color (keeping the outlines in tact) before scanning them in to make the tracing easier. I used Photoshop to remove background noise and then Silhouette Live Trace in Illustrator to make them into silhouettes but this will probably take longer

Handprints with paint and after filling it with color

Handprints with paint and after filling it with color

4. Use The Silhouette Studio software to trace the outlines and then cut the reflective heat transfer. I had to up the knive to 4 to get it to cut through the heat transfer I used from GladaGrodan (be warned: their shipping is slow).
5. Peel and iron the hand printso onto the front of the beanie.

Taken with flash to show that it is reflective

Taken with flash to show that it is reflective

Getting Lucia right

It is not always easy being the kid of a foreigner. As much as the parent tries to blend in there are certain cultural subtleties that get lost on them. One of these things is not coming dressed appropriately at certain events that make no sense to their parent. You would think having a Norwegian dad should save you from this embarrassment but for some reason this particular dad didn’t seem to have a clue either what the appropriate Saint Lucy’s attire was.

Last year was the first year we were to participate in a Lucia parade at Kindergarten. Saint Lucy is referred to as Lucia here in the Nordic. There were mails floating around that mentioned wearing something white over their winter clothes and bringing a white t-shirt. The detail that got lost on me was that this was referring to two different events. So I bought a large white t-shirt and told my daughter to put it on for Lucia. Then we headed off to Kindergarten only to discover that everyone else was wearing white long dresses or robes over their winter dresses. Thankfully my daughter was only three so I don’t think this will leave a permanent mark on her. I was however very embarrassed and reminded that we are not from here. Thankfully we got beaten in embarrassment by another foreigner dad that had put a giant light headpiece on his son’s head. One that was even larger than what the Lucia girl was wearing.

So I promised myself to do it right this year! When we were reading a book we found a picture of an angel that was wearing a white dress with golden stripes. She said she wanted a dress like that for Lucia. So I set to work planning. I found a pattern in Ottobre that fit her measurements wearing her winter suit (158). I extended the sleeves and adjusted it a little. I bought some cheap fabric that I don’t know the English name of at Jysk (nervøs fløyel in Norwegian) and golden ribbons at Panduro. Voilà!

Lucia

Lucia

She seemed pretty happy with her dress after giving some feedback that she also wanted golden ribbons on the sleeves. So mom made some last minute adjustments and we headed off to the parade and even got couple of comments that it looked nice! I now feel I have set Lucia in balance again even if I still don’t have a clue what it is all about. Cannot even be bothered reading the Wikipedia page.

The pictures are very poor but as this isn’t exactly high quality work I will leave it at that for this time!

Happy Lucia girl

Happy Lucia girl

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