Shoe Bag.

So I’ve been a little less frequent with my blog posts in the last little while, and one of the reasons is because I’ve had less time at home on weekends, as we’ve been doing little weekend trips around Germany. This past weekend we went to one of my favourite German cities, Heidelberg, with some of my favourite Australians, Jarod and Laura. Laura is a Naturopath, by the way, and writes an excellent blog filled with good articles and yummy recipes and if you’re into that sort of thing you should go have a read.

Anyway, I’ve recently found myself quite often having to pack bags for a night or two away. One of the annoying things to pack, I find, is shoes. I’ve got a small suitcase that has no good pocket for shoes, so I find myself trying to balance them on top of everything and have the lid hold them in place, but I still worry about whatever icky things might be on the soles on my shoes making their way onto my clean clothes. I still had some (quite a bit, actually) of the fabric I’d used for my bread basket lining, so I decided to make a bag to take my spare shoes in. Of course I hadn’t decided at that point which shoes to take, but since I was wearing my ugg boots at the timeI just used them for the size. They’re bigger than most of my other shoes so it was a safe bet.

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I put the boots on the fabric and pinned down the sides, and cut around the pins. I ended up with a folded rectangle. I sewed the sides up (two rows of stitches, shoes can be heavy). I had decided to do a drawstring closure, though you could do press studs or velcro too. I folded the top over twice and pinned it down, seam on the wrong side.

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This, of course, gives a niche for the drawstring to run through but no way to get it in there, or use it if it was. So I cut a hole in the edge and stitched it up by hand.Image

Of course, then I needed a drawstring. I cut a long piece of the fabric maybe 4 inches by 2.5 times the width of the bag. I folded the the sides to the middle, ironed them down, then folded that in half to give me an inch-wide strip. Before sewing the sides down I folded the ends inside to cover the raw edges. I sewed it all up and fed the strip into the bag by attaching a safety pin to the end and pushing it through that way. I’d made the strap way too long but I guess the drawstring can double as a carry handle now…

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I didn’t end up using it for the weekend though, as Dom was taking his running shoes with him and they were filthy, so I gave it to him instead. I’ll make another one for me during the week.

It was a great weekend though. Heidelberg is beautiful and I was there with the best people.

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I’ve come back with a cold or something, though. Does anyone have any remedies that work on aches?

Cheers,

Luci

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Hoisin Sauce.

This is just a quick one and it wasn’t my idea. I found it here, although I adapted it a little. It was one of the first things to get me started on this homemade trip, and it’s delicious! This is the recipe I ended up using:

4 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs peanut butter (I used my homemade stuff)
1.5 Tbs honey
1 Tbs rice vinegar
3 clove of garlic, finely minced. You could use garlic powder too.
1 Tbs chilli sauce – I used Sriracha
1 tsp dark sesame oil (the light stuff is useless for Asian recipes, it just tastes like canola)
fresh ground pepper

So I added more garlic and more chilli than the original calls for. The recipe also says just whisk and you’re done. Not true. I had to put the jar I was mixing in into a bowl half-filled with hot water, so that the honey and peanut butter would melt enough to mix. Depending on the particular honey and peanut butter you use this may be different.

No pics with this one sorry! I’ll update with some pics next time I make it. It’s seriously yummy though and really easy. The first time I made it the only thing I didn’t already have in my kitchen was the rice vinegar, and you could probably try it without that anyway, or maybe with a tiny bit of white vinegar instead.

Oh here’s a picture of one of my favourite foods, san choi bau. You could absolutely make that with this hoisin sauce. Just fry up some onion, garlic, and chicken or pork mince (or tempeh for my vegetarian readers, a few asian veggies and some hoisin. Serve in iceberg lettuce cups and yum it up!

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Cheers,

Luci

 

UPDATE: I made this again last night and paired it with prawns and veggies in a stir fry. Yum-O. So here’s a pic:

 

 

From above

 

Cheers, L 🙂

Bread Basket.

Sorry its been few days since my last post – I’m still here though! I’ve had a pretty busy/exhausting few days at work and haven’t managed to finish any projects, let alone blog about them. I’ve finished a project tonight though, so here goes! 

My fiancee Dom is on holidays at the moment and so gets to have long leisurely breakfasts at home each day. In true European form, he likes to get fresh bread rolls from the bakery on the corner, and top with some (homemade, of course) butter, and any of a selection of cheeses, meats, and preserves. When we were away last weekend we had similar breakfasts at the B&B we were staying at, and they also had these cute wicker baskets lined with linen to serve the bread rolls in. I decided to copy.

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I found this little basket at my favourite bargain store (I always buy cheap if I can, to reduce the waste of money if I fail miserably). I got some light brown linen and got going on trying to make a pattern.

I’m sure there are plenty of resources online for learning how to make a 3D pattern like this but I don’t go for resources straight away, generally. It’s probably not the best approach but I like to try something out myself the first time, and then if it goes horribly wrong, or even only a little wrong, I can look up what my mistakes were and then the ‘right way’ gets in my head more thoroughly than if I learned it all the right way off the bat. So, I measured the inside dimensions of the base of the basket and cut a rectangle, leaving a centimetre or so for the seam. I didn’t really know how to do the sides at the diagonal (as the basket is wider at the top), so I cut the material way too long for the sides, pinned it with plenty of overhang at both ends, and sewed it up.

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The I put the whole thing in the basket and pinned the sides up to fit the shape as best I could, pinned it in and sewed those up too. I had cut the sides so they would overhang at the top, giving it a fold over that is tied at the corners. After a few mistakes and some quality time with my stitch un-picker, I managed to get the sides even and some ties attached. In the end it didn’t fit quite as well as it could have, but I’m pretty satisfied all the same. What do you think?

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I’ll be back soon, see you then! 

Cheers,

Luci

A Red Refashion.

Well we’re back from a lovely weekend of exploring castles and indulging in good wine and delicious food. I wasn’t actually planning on posting today but I needed something to wear to work tomorrow, and so I got to refashioning.

A pretty big part of my inspiration for sewing and recycling/upcycling clothes came from this blog, and although she’s half my size so our preferred style is totally different, she has some great ways of turning old clothes into something new. I’ve refashioned a few things so far but this time I took a few progress pics, so here goes!

So I had an old dress that I absolutely love, but it had become unwearable as it was stretched out and shapeless.

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The fabric was mostly still good, though, so I decided to turn it into a top. I found a T-shirt in my cupboard that is a great fit but not something I wear everyday, and made a pattern from it.

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I found some cheap brown-paper wrapping paper in a bargain store here recently, and it makes for great cheap pattern making material. Apparently butcher’s paper is even better but I’m not sure where to buy that from here, and this wrapping paper works nicely.

So then I cut out the dress around the paper pattern, and sewed it all together. 

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I used my twin needle at first, but then somehow managed to do this:

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Yep, snapped off both points. So I used a zigzag stitch instead which works okay. I’ll but a new twin needle this week though as it really does make for better looking seams and hems in stretchy material. 

Anyway, I’m happy with how this turned out. I kept the original buttons but sewed down the seam so the buttons are just for show, as it was gaping a little more than needed over the years.

What do you think?

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Hope you all had a great weekend. Catch you soon!

Cheers,

Luci

Cold Season Gardening: Part 1.

So I’m about to experience my first autumn in Germany. Summer was lovely, and I’m just starting to realise why people appreciated the warm weather so much: it stops. I mean of course I know the natural progression of seasons at least in theory, and I experienced spring earlier in the year as a transition from freezing to hot, but I’ve never gone from hot to cold like it will do here. Australia doesn’t have much of that sort of thing, and not at all where I grew up.

Anyway, part of that means I don’t get to have my fresh tomatoes, herbs, etc on my balcony anymore. I still want to try to have a little garden so a few weeks ago I bought a few random packets of seeds and decided to try to get an indoor garden going. These were my experimental seeds:

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Beans, parsley, carrots, spinach, and feldsalat which is a type of salad green that’s mild and good to cook with or eat raw. I also had some chive seeds form my balcony chives that had seeded and died off recently. So with my six seed types, I filled an egg carton’s egg cup bits with soil, and put one type of seed in each cup. I made a diagram on the inside of the lid to keep track of what’s where. I didn’t get any pictures of this stage as I wasn’t really sure I’d have any follow-up – now I know to take pics no matter what. Skip forward to yesterday, and all but the beans are happy little seedlings now. So I took one of my long balcony pots that only had dead or dying herbs in it, removed the corpses, and added my seedlings. I’ve found a spot for them on the window sill of our spare room, which I’ve pretty much commandeered as my DIY/sewing/blogging/computer room. I just took all the dirt from the egg cup and stuck it straight in the big pot. Apparently you can also plant the cardboard and it’ll just decompose over time, but I didn’t end up doing that.

So this is part one of at least a two part DIY trial. I’m hoping everything grows (the beans had started to sprout but just hadn’t made it out of the dirt yet so they got transplanted too), and I’ll keep you updated. Here’s what they look like today:

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That’s Morla, my world-travelling Aussie cat. She wonders why I’m paying attention to boring plants when she wants cuddles. 

Well I’m off out of town for the weekend, going to the forest, so I’m not going to post tomorrow and possibly not until Monday. I hope you have a great weekend! Also if you’ve got any good indoor gardening tips let me know. It’s obviously too late now for these plantlings (because doesn’t seedling mean little seeds, when really they’re giant overgrown seeds?) but it’s good to have more info down the line 🙂

Cheers,

Luci

Lip Balm.

This is one I’ve been making for about two years now. I wanted to get off of the petroleum-based lip glosses that make up the bulk of the store-bought gloss. Rubbing petrol on your mouth just seems like something to be avoided. I’m not really into flavoured or scented lip gloss either but this recipe can be altered to suit your tastes.

So I start with this stuff:

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Beeswax pellets, almond oil, shea butter and vanilla extract. The vanilla is optional, or exchangeable for any other flavour you’re into. Just a note – don’t use lavender, it’s not tasty… You’ll also need little containers to keep it in. I buy everything online. Let me know if you want details. One other thing that I always forget to buy is vitamin E oil capsules. Vitamin E is a natural oil preservative so it’s handy if you make a lot at once. I just keep my spares in the fridge which preserves it too.

My usual recipe is 2 parts shea butter (I usually go with a dessert spoon as one ‘part’), 1 to 1.5 parts beeswax, 3 parts almond oil. Melt this all in a metal bowl placed over a pan of simmering water – but don’t get any water in your mix! Once it’s all melted, take it off the heat. If you’re adding vitamin E, break open a few capsules (2-3 is enough) and pour in the oil, mixing well. This is also when you add your vanilla or whatever flavour – be sparing, you don’t need much! Some people add artificial sweeteners here but I’m not keen on those in any way at all. Not the sweeteners themselves, not sweet lipgloss either. Your call on that one. Anyway, mix up everything and carefully spoon it into your containers. Leave the lids off until it cools, which will look like this:

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If you put the lids on when it’s still liquid, you can end up with the whole thing coming out stuck to the lid. Annoying to get back into the tub!

A 10ml container of this lasts me a month or so, and I use quite a lot of it.

A weird aside – put a little of this on sandfly or mozzie bites to reduce inflammation and scarring. Well, it works for me anyway.

All done!

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What do you think? Hope you like it. Let me know if you’ve got a favourite flavour or scent for your lip balm!

Cheers,

Luci

 

UPDATE: As requested, here is where I sourced my containers and ingredients. Please note that I am not encouraging/advertising/endorsing these brands or anything like that, I’m just saying what I found at a reasonable price with a reasonable shipping cost, when buying from here in Germany.

Beeswax pellets

Shea Butter

Vanilla Essential Oil

Almond Oil

Tubs

🙂 Luci

Napkins.

**reblogging from my other blog where I accidentally posted this two days ago**

I’m back at the sewing machine after a couple of days without any thread. Just a simple one this time – I made some napkins. The reason behind it was to save on waste and also to save a bit of money in the long run.

I’m absolutely a napkin person. Some people only use them if they’ve made a mess of themselves, or just at the end of the meal, but I’ll use my napkin between just about every bite. So maybe I overdo it. Anyway, we go through a lot of napkins in our house so I thought I’d get on the reusable bandwagon.

I got some fairly thin 100% cotton check print. I actually bought it in green a few weeks ago and then blue more recently. I’ve only got pics of the blue though. Decide what size you’re after – I made the green about twelve inches square but that’s a little too small, so I made the blue about eighteen inches square. Iron your fabric first and cut your squares. The all it takes is to hem them up. fold in a side, using a ruler to keep it even, iron the fold. Then fold it in again, iron again so your raw edge is hidden. Pin down and repeat on the other edges.

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Now, before you sew up the sides you’ll need to cut a little of the bulk out of the corners. Open up your folded corners and cut at 45 degrees, making sure not to cut too much – use your folds as a guide.

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Sorry for my lack of photography skills! So once your corners are all trimmed, pin your folded edges and corners and get sewing. I just used a simple straight stitch. Well, my stitching isn’t totally straight when it’s mean to be but no-one will be looking too closely, right…? I’m getting better though. The blue napkins look way better than the green :)

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(not shown: dodgy green napkins)

So that’s about it! This is probably not a project for those who can’t stand ironing, as you’ll have to iron before reuse I reckon. Or use them wrinkly if you like, they still work the same. What do you think? Do you have any other ideas about saving money or minimising waste around the home?

Cheers,

Luci