Friday, 25 April 2014

flea friday: brassy tones of copper

Do you like brass and copper? I'm warming to their warm metallic colour and the nice patina they develop with age.

I don't have a lot of it in my home though, it's more silvery or painted white when it comes to metallic surfaces in here. But since having been looking at a lot of mid century modern stuff online, I guess I got into the look of brass and copper too.

I picked up this little set of copper hooks shaped like a teakettle for it's kitschy charm and thinking that I can hang my annoying but much used wires on it (the white iphone wires and earphones). I tried it, but the wires still looked messy, not achieving the tidy look I imagined so now I'm not sure what I'll use the hooks for after all.

The following two saucepans are of a much clearer function. 

In general we watch a lot of good cookery shows, where the chefs work with gorgeous kitchenware. Inspired by that we've been after an original french Tournus copper pot for ages.

Now it comes to us for an incredibly low price (two euros). To our astonishment it had dried flowers glued to its bottom and was being sold as kitchen decoration. I turned it around and around in disbelief, but it indeed was a genuine Tournus copper pan with impeccable tinned insides, and not a scratch on it. At home we removed the dried flowers and glue, and now it's happily re-established to its noble kitchen duties: preparing sauces!

The little norwegian saucepan is also in unused condition. It was made by a now defunct company called Polaris. It is super heavy and perfect for preparing small amounts of delicious jus (or gravy, that is, for you and me).

Lastly, a duo of candlesticks. They were almost left on the shelf by me, but they somehow charmed their way into my heart with their blue green waxy patina and their crafted-in-India look. 

Linking up this week with Me and My Shadow, with Sir Thrift a Lot, and with We Call It Junking.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

quilt in progress #1

I hope every one of you had a great Easter break! It's been lovely and sunny here - a nice change from last year's snowed-in Easter weekend.

And now it's time for an update on the quilting project as it's progressing quicker than I thought!

You probably have guessed since I've told you my secret, that the quilt I'm making is going to be for the little one. I have been concentrating on finding nice vintage fabrics on my thrift rounds, so i could begin to assemble my quilt asap.

I  imagined the overall look of the quilt gender-neutral, and somewhere between pastel and bright, fun but not too busy, vintage infused but modern enough, childlike but not too kitschy, and so on. All in all, I'd like to end up with something that is going to be used, and all of us (child, boyfriend and me) can live with it.

The other weekend I made a more exact plan based on my initial sketch. I drew straight lines on a checkered sheet and calculated centimetres and swatch quantities. This part went easier than I thought, and it got done during a comfy Saturday morning, while eating grapes for brunch.

Once I decided I had enough fabric to start cutting, I got my scissors out and put them to work.

A little tip: do test old fabrics for strength by giving them a little pull and a tug. One of mine turned out to be too frail. I felt a bit disappointed about not being able to use it as it was a very nice pattern but I'm glad I tested it. It could have potentially ruined the whole quilt, by sooner or later tearing apart and getting irreparable holes.

Once the good fabric squares were cut, counted and put in piles, the figuring out the puzzle of the panels could begin in earnest. I was a bit uncertain about how I'm going to make the different patterns and colours work together, but once I started piecing on our big coffee table, the process became rather straightforward and satisfying. Having an initial idea on paper was a helpful guide to go by.

So this is what a panel looks like after the piecing. Next step: on with the sewing - I need four of these!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

blue eggs for Easter

Last year, spurred by memories of how we used to paint eggs for Easter as kids, I dyed eggs with onion skins that gave a sort of auburn result.

Only after that I read about using red cabbage to get beautiful blue coloured shells. I told myself then, that that's what I'll try out this year.

Although I ended up with different quantities and a tie-dye look, originally I spied the instructions on how to make the dye here. It's an easy process and you only need a few ingredients, namely red cabbage, white vinegar and some eggs to dye.

I used a quarter of a red cabbage, a litre and half of water and one tablespoon of white vinegar. I boiled the mixture for about half an hour. I set it aside to cool a little, with the cabbage still inside so it had a chance to tint the water more. (By the way, the liquid smelt kind of sweet and not too cabbagey, though I guess that could depend on the cabbage itself and maybe on the vinegar too.)

In terms of preserving the eggs I decided to blow them out (the egg whites and yolks were used up later in our dinner). So I washed them well, and with a big strong sewing needle I drilled holes into both ends. I made the holes large enough so it was possible to blow the insides out without getting purple in the face. Make sure you handle and hold the eggs gently so they won't get crushed in the process.

There came a little challenge when I wanted to submerge my empty eggshells in the cabbage liquid - they'd just float on top... I tried to fill them with liquid so they'd sink but that wouldn't happen. It was getting late at night so I came up with a solution that seemed a bit haphazard but it worked.

I placed the eggs at the bottom of a tall jug, piled lots of the cooked cabbage on top for weight and for cushioning, poured in the liquid and set a coffee mug on top to hold the whole thing down. Next I informed my boyfriend not to get scared of the odd jug of purple contents steaming away on the kitchen table overnight. And with that I went to bed.

The eggs stood in the liquid until the afternoon the following day, so they managed to garner a really nice deep cyan blue colour. They also managed a tie-dye appearance, I guess because of the cabbage and/or air bubbles trapped among them. I like the effect to be honest!

I think they'd look very nice strung up and hung on a branch in a vase.

Next year, it might be the year of a beetroot or a turmeric experiment... We'll see!

Friday, 11 April 2014

flea friday: a west german, a soviet & a couple of brushes

A quick peak in the new Red Cross store a street down from us turned into a lucky sweep.

I only went in to check if they had any new retro/vintage fabric for my quilt. This new store seems to have such a fast turnover of stuff, it doesn't seem unreasonable to go and check for things even every second the fabrics are sold by a small price per kilo.

Well instead of fabrics, I spent my three euro petty cash on some fat lava, something soviet and a couple of useful brushes.

I have to say I adore the tomato red of this fat lava vase and the fact that it's just joined my little collection. It's a little more robust than my other two finds from earlier, and it's also from a different pottery. It's made by Carstens Keramik. It looks solidly 1970s - isn't it just delicious? By the way, lots of info on West German ceramics and potteries (and a fat lava gazing gallery) can be found  here.

By now, you probably know about my fondness for nice vintage tins and for soviet stuff too.... This pretty tea caddy satisfies both fascinations. I'd seen this tin online (possibly on Etsy) before, and finally have come across it myself, and in such a sweet, clean condition. I've already filled it with some ginger infused green tea.

The vintage brushes are something that we've actually been needing for a while: a good shoe brush and one for coats. Now they come to us for literally pennies. The horseshoe shaped brush has been allocated for clothing, as it was in unused condition with no shoeblack on it. It is actually of a very nice quality, made of teak in England and it fits in the palm in a lovely way.

I'm sharing my finds this week with A Living Space, with Sir Thrift a Lot, with We Call It Junking and with Me and My Shadow.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

list of make & do

Back in January, I had a post lined up entitled "a wish list of things to make & do". It was an outline of my plans for the new year, in the spirit of resolutions but inspired by a friendlier looking approach.

Then in the first week of the new year I found out that I'm pregnant. Once I got my head around what that actually means, I realised that my Year of the Horse will look very different from what I had imagined. Suddenly a massive question mark appeared next to my enthusiastic list of things to make & do.

I spent my first trimester - apart from sleeping loads - pondering and investigating. I wanted to understand what a little baby really needs, what changes we really need to make in the home, what's the deal with cloth nappies, maternity wear, and the rest...

I also have been wondering about how Idle Needle, the blog will look and read like from now on.

I'm sure that the blog will follow my trajectory into mamahood and that there will be plenty of mention of the word baby from now on. But I can also tell you that I'm not into posting week-to-week belly shots or record the whole personal process in detail. Nothing wrong with people who do so - just saying that from me you are not likely to see too much of that.

What looks likely is this:

  • Recipes - Healthy but delicious eating is more important for me than ever - I'm on a mission to collect and try out great recipes for all sort of nutritious delights that won't take half a day to make. Expect more cooking and baking therefore!
  • Crafting & Vintage finds - A lot of items have been marked as 'make itself' or 'get second-hand' from the list of baby's needs which means I'll be sewing, crafting and going thrifting just like up til now. Plus I'm still interested in my usual tastes and obsessions, so not every flea find or project should be rattles and bibs :)
  • Pictures - Spring and summer coincides with my being pregnant, which means potential nice posts about little trips in and out of town, forest walks, berry picking, picnic by the river...
  • Gardening - Balcony gardening efforts will feature again too. Bring on the planting season!
  • Swap/Giveaway - Our apartment needs some reorganising and streamlining, which will include a destash of crafty stuff and hoardings - I'm thinking a possible swap and/or giveaway!
  • A healthy dose of journaling my way through life's mundane adventures, just like up til now.

So in essence Idle Needle is going to be just how it's been so far, hopefully even better, with all the baby-related topics added to the regular run-up. I wouldn't like to be head-in-the-clouds idealistic so I also forecast a blog break near, during and/or after the due-date.

I hope you guys are happy to follow along to see how this Idle Needle copes with her new chapter in life and what goodnesses will the nearby future bring in family life, in stitching projects, in thrifty finds and craftiness!

For the interested, see my detailed list of  'things to make & do'  in the top bar of the blog - the idea is that as I complete an entry I will make it into a link to the relevant post about that project. Hope this blog will see a lot of them ticked off!

Monday, 7 April 2014

slow spring (or the waking beauty of water and sun)

Being in nature always gets me a bit poetic. I love that effect, it makes me connect and feel the world I live in more deeply.

Spring seems slow here (compared with the rest of Europe) but I like noticing the slowly appearing colours, the different sparkle of cold but liquid-again water as opposed to the sparkle of snow or the frozen sheen of ice. I like spotting new life in its smallest forms too: the blooming algae underwater, the first almost-invisible blades of grass, the first wildflower, the non-floral bloom on the yet leafless tree.

And I like how people are when the sun is shining - full of good energy and friendly connection.

My language course that I started last year is almost over. The teacher took us to a lovely place again, just like at the beginning of the course. These photos and thoughts are from this latest course outing, a sunny spring day together by the calm of the bay, at the edge of a little forest - it was full of laughter, smiles, friends and lots of fluent Finnish conversation. I think I'm the kind who likes school much more as a grown-up.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

sixteen + four

Do you want to know my secret?

We are going to have a baby! I did not think, when I pressed 'publish' on the first blogpost of the year back in January, that I would be writing these words down only a few months later...

It's very exciting and a little scary in the same time. It's been going quite smoothly so far, and hopefully it will carry on going smoothly all the way (touch wood and fingers crossed!) It still feels a little fantastical that the little black and white thing we saw on the ultrasound is really in there, and it will be out of there not so many months from now as a real little person. There is so much to get our heads around...  So now you know my secret :)

The vintage leather booties belong to the daddy-to-be, they were his first shoes.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

april the first

I have to say it's been a surprisingly productive 'April Fools' day so far. No joking or pranks here - the only prank was maybe the light dusting of snow everywhere in the morning.

Then the frosty look of the day went away quickly and for the afternoon, springtime blue skies are teasing the birds and the budding tree branches again.

As for the productivity part, boyfriend made a super-active sourdough bread starter from scratch the other day and today he's baking the first ever home-made loaf of ours. The starter root, trying to climb out of its jar there, is promising a nice sourdough loaf of the fluffy kind!

And I finally cut my hair again. It's a pleasing result - even if I say so - the choppy long bob I've been thinking about to have.

I hope you are not disappointed that this is all true and there wasn't any funny stuff in this post... Did you have a nice first of the month?

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