Yes, it snowed! And I took pictures:

Snow 1 Snow 2
Snow 3 Snow 4

And then we went out and had a snowball fight, and tried to make a snowman but didn’t go all too well. And I made a sorta snow angel and froze me butt in the proceed. But it was fun! Then we came back up, warmed ourselves up with a cup of “winter mix” tea, and some speculoos. Winter is starting to look like winter, now it just needs to snow a bit more for Christmas!

Skirt Made (& Christmas Cards)

So, lets start with the second half of the topic. On the previous post I asked you, the readers, what you thought about the Christmas cards that I’ve been making for the last three years. I got close to no response. I guess I’m just writing for myself then. So I’ll be making myself a nice Christmas card, and maybe share it here on the blog, but this year there won’t be any no-contest where you can get your very own hand made Christmas card delivered to your mailbox. It makes me sad that no one cared enough about them.

Now on to happier business. I made myself a skirt. Yes, she who doesn’t wear skirts, made herself a skirt, and wore it, for the whole weekend. And actually enjoyed wearing it! I got some compliments on it, saying it made me look slimmer (Thanks, Erna!), and that it didn’t look hand made at all (I guess that is a compliment to my sewing skills!). I guess you want to have a look at said skirt, aye? Pictures:

Skirt, front view Skirt, back

The skirt is made out of tartan fabric in the MacKenzie Modern design. It’s the best I could do to match the MacKenzie Seaforth the boy’s kilt is without breaking the bank. I could have gotten 100% wool MacKenzie Seaforth for around 70€/m. Or I could get MacKenzie Modern, a 45% wool, 55% polyester, for 21€/m from The Scotland Shop. It was a no-brainer, really. The mix also makes it easier to care for (throw in the washing machine in delicate cycle vs. dry-cleaners).

I’m very happy with the purchase from The Scotland Shop. The shipping rate is flat no matter how many meters of fabric you buy. I paid around 4.5€ to get 3 meters of fabric shipped, from Scotland, to Belgium. I can’t complain about that. They take PayPal, besides credit cards, debit cards & money orders. The shipping was fast – it took only two days to get here after it got shipped. The processing time wasn’t as quick, but it was within their estimates. And the fabric is what I expected. Lovely.

On to the skirt? Aye. The skirt is based upon a black skirt I own that suits me well. It was a good purchase on sale, for only 5€. And it now has served to draft the pattern for following flattering skirts. I chose to make it high waisted in this case, but I may make another one with a normal waist. It’s six gores, and the back gore has a box pleat to add some fullness and make it even more swingy. Closes with a zipper, and it’s fully lined.


  • 1.6m of 1.5m wide fabric.
  • 1.4m of lining fabric
  • 1 22cm long zipper, nylon teeth.
  • 1 200m bobbin of thread
  • 1 hook & eye closure
  • 4 days of drafting, cutting & sewing

And the reason to make the skirt? I wanted to help out at the Celtic Weekend, and I wanted to fit in as “one of the crew”. So wearing a tartan skirt actually made me feel like one of them, and be seen as part of the group. Helping out also meant free food and drinks, which was nice since we spent 8 & 6 hours there on Saturday & Sunday. And it also meant that I didn’t sit getting bored around! It was fun.

Remember The Christmas Cards?

For the last three years I’ve been having a no-contest here on the blog. I’d just send a Christmas card to anyone who would send me an email via the contact me link. (See the post from 2006, 2007 & 2008.

However I have bad news this year. Times are hard, and even tho I love making the cards and sending them far away to share my happiness, I can’t afford to do it this year. You see, the cards cost me around 2€ each, then I spend a couple of evenings at the very least making them, and sending them costs on average 1€ each. I’ve been sending around 30 cards each year. That’s 90€ that right now I do not have.

So here is my dilemma. Should I ask you people that love getting these cards for a small contribution towards them? Would it then be the same? I can’t decide, and I’ve never liked asking for money (ask Jan!). So, I’ll let you discuss it. What would you want to do? We have till the end of the month to decide what happens with my beloved Christmas cards. Then I’ll take the decision and let you know.

PS: yes, I know it’s not been Halloween yet and here I am talking about Christmas. But we know these things take time to make and to arrive to their destinations, so I do need to do it well in advance!

Blog Action Day 2009: Global Warming

I like to take part in these yearly posts about different topics that Blog Action Day promotes and hosts. This year’s topic is Global Warming.

What is Global Warming?

In short, it’s what its name says, a global warming. The average temperature on the earth’s surface is gradually increasing, and that is causing other problems, such as the day-to-day weather being awkward for the season, the level of the seas increasing due to ice melting, and so on.

The Planet Is Heating Up—and Fast

Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, cloud forests are drying, and wildlife is scrambling to keep pace. It’s becoming clear that humans have caused most of the past century’s warming by releasing heat-trapping gases as we power our modern lives. Called greenhouse gases, their levels are higher now than in the last 650,000 years.

We call the result global warming, but it is causing a set of changes to the Earth’s climate, or long-term weather patterns, that varies from place to place. As the Earth spins each day, the new heat swirls with it, picking up moisture over the oceans, rising here, settling there. It’s changing the rhythms of climate that all living things have come to rely upon.1

What causes Global Warming?

There are several factors that should be taken into account, but the main processes that should be mentioned are2:

  • Greenhouse gases: The greenhouse effect is the process by which absorption and emission of infrared radiation by gases in the atmosphere warm a planet’s lower atmosphere and surface. The major greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and ozone. These gases contribute in different amounts to the effect.
    Human activity has increased greatly since the Industrial Revolution, and with it the amount of gases in the atmosphere.
  • Aerosols and soot: Aerosols created by volcanoes and pollutants scatter and absorb solar radiations, having a slightly cooling effect. They also make the clouds have more and smaller droplets, making in fact the cloud a more effective reflector or solar radiation.
    Soot, on the other hand can both have a cooling and a warming effect. Atmospheric soot aerosols directly absorb solar radiation, which heats the atmosphere and cools the surface. When deposited, it can directly heat the surface.
  • Solar variation: Variations in solar output have been in the past responsible for climate changes.

What are the effects of Global Warming?

There are so many that it’s hard to begin. I’ll try to point out the ones I find most important3

  • Effects on the weather, such as extreme weather, increased precipitation, bigger areas affected by drought.
  • Glacier retreat and disappearance.
  • Sea level rises, temperature of oceans increases, acidification of the waters, oxygen depletion.

Effectively, the climate change that global warming is triggering can make the coastal lines recede, and take with them many towns and making people migrate. It can also make food production hard, since increased storms mean a harder time for crops. Drinking water reserves will shrink, with the acidification of all waters. The list goes on and on.

What can we do to slow down / stop Global Warming?

There are many things that we as individuals can do to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions. My favorites are4:

  • Using energy saving lamps. They take a bit longer to reach full light, but they save a ton of money and energy.
  • Using recycled paper, non chlorine bleached is even better!
  • Adjusting the thermostat: our heating is set rather “cold” (we wear jackets inside the house), and we don’t have airco at home. If we did, it’d be set for 25ºC!
  • We shower instead of taking baths. And our average showers are short.
  • We try to buy produce locally, but sometimes it’s just impossible. I’ll still buy the produce that has been grown closer to home even if it’s a tad more expensive.
  • Skip the packaging and plastic bags as much as you can. Have you tried making your own fabric produce bags? Make sure to always carry a fabric shopping bag with you, that way you don’t have to accept plastic bags when you do some impromptu shopping.
  • If available, use gas / electricity companies that guarantee their energy comes from renewable sources. Might not be the cheapest, but you’ll be happy.
  • Use public transport, bike or walk when possible.
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle. The classic and basic three Rs are never out of place. Be it for trash, or anything in your home.
  • Become a vegetarian! Even just one day a week, and you’ll reduce your carbon dioxide emissions in 170 kg a year.
  • Do yourself a favor and help protect our planet from Global Warming. Go look for more tips on what you can do.

  1. Visit National Geographic for the full article.
  2. Source: Wikipedia, taken with a grain of salt
  3. You can find an extensive article over at Wikipedia! Yep.
  4. For more ideas, visit Stop Global Warming and take action yourself!

Mandatory Monthly Update

It seems like lately I don’t feel like updating much or often. It might be because right now I have nothing to update on. Life is mostly boring and routinely for me. I’m not in classes or have a work (yet, I’m looking…). I actually was supposed to be working now, trial period, but got called that they were going to hire someone that had previously worked at the place and wanted to work full time, instead of lacking experience me that wanted to work part time cause I’ll be in classes hopefully soon.

Last week I went to Knit Flanders. And I forgot my camera so I didn’t take any pictures. Mostly we knitted, had some drinks, and some people had cake too. It was fun. I had to leave early because I wanted to go to UCT and ask about enrolling in the intensive Dutch courses. I have to go again this week after I filled some paperwork so I can enroll and take a placement test.

I also won the Free Fabric Friday over at Sew, Mama, Sew‘s blog. Which means I got a yard of the fabric of my choice. And I chose a lovely Japanese Floral Blue Full Blossom:

Japanese Floral Blue Full Blossom
Picture Credits: Sew, Mama, Sew.
Click on the picture to go to the store and buy this fabric.

I still don’t know what I will do with the 44″ wide yard (110 x 90 cm approximately) . Options that come to mind: easy peasy A-line skirt, some sort of top, bag of some kind, or just thought of decorating a bulleting board with it to hang in the studio.

Maybe next week I have more news, maybe not. Stay tunned!

Long Time No See?

I know I haven’t posted in a month and a half. Life hasn’t been so hectic as to put it as an excuse not to post, to be honest. I just haven’t been in the mood to post, and didn’t really have that much to talk about either. I still miss Macchiatto dearly, our little cavy, it makes me sad thinking about all that we could have done and didn’t know to do in time.

What has been going on since then? Not much, I have been getting used to living in Ghent with Jan, me mostly been at home doing stuff, as it was pointless finding a job for two months, then come back to Madrid for another month, then finding another job when I get back to our home at the end of the month. Officially, I’ve been marked as house-wife, never mind I’m not a wife! And that’s actually what I’ve been doing most: grocery shopping (thanks given that we have two shops within easy walking distance), cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, and so on and so forth.

I’ve also been preparing more paperwork to enroll at UGent. I need to fill in a lengthy application form and give them ton of information from my previous University. I’m hoping they’ll accept me and also transfer my credits. It’d be a great help if I only have 1 to 1.5 years left to get my Bachelors, and then another 2 for my Masters. The end is near, way closer than at my previous University, which is sad. I’m also going to enroll at UCT for either the preparatory year of Dutch, or only the levels I still need to take (3rd to 6th) preferably.

On the cooking and baking front, I haven’t innovated much or made up any recipes worth posting. I’ve kept to my staples with the savory, and not done much baking either. I made curry, and stir fries, some baked casseroles and the usual. I baked some muffins and was planning on cookies but forgot to buy cookie sheets!

I did get three balcony rectangular planters, and filled them with dirt, put some seeds in, and patiently waited for them to grow. I have Lettuce, Rainbow Chillies, Rocket, Leaf Beet (or Perpetual Spinach), Land Cress, Basil, Rosemary, Marjoram, Chives… All ready to pick when I need some. Nothing better than a sandwich with lettuce right off the plant. Or a pesto with such fresh basil (crossing fingers it grows enough that I have enough to make pesto soon).

Craft wise, I finished a beret (no pic), that still needs the ends sewn in. And I started on a lace shawlette using the Luna Moth Shawl free pattern from Elann, and a fingering weight yarn that’s a bamboo / silk / cotton blend, in creamy white. Since a post without pictures is boring, I’ll put one here of the shawl:

Luna Moth Shawl In Progress

I also got a set of funny giraffe rubber stamps. I made some thank you notes and gift tags that I plan on putting up for sale. I sewed a beach dress for me, using my brand new sewing machine that I plan on use a lot (Promise!). I’m right now waiting on an eBay auction to finish, and hopefully I’ll be the owner of 3.5m of MacKenzie Seaforth tartan to make a high waisted skirt.

I think that’s about it. Hopefully next time it will be sooner than with this post.


In Memoriam

Macchiatto - In Memoriam

We had to put him to sleep. He had an infection that we didn’t catch in time. We’re sad. Nero is sad. We’ll miss his pooting and wooting and generally being himself.

Macchiatto, sweet smooth coat cavy. August 2006 – 20th July 2009

I Mock You Not.

It’s a smocked dress!

There is this contest where you can win a (nice and expensive Singer) sewing machine or a (nice and expensive Singer) dress form. All you have to do is sew a “swimsuit cover-up”, and post a picture on the flickr group, and you’ve entered. So I decided to make a summer dress that can double as cover-up and enter the contest. The result:

Front back

I used an Ikea remnant of Bomull (100% cotton, unbleached). Costed me 2,30€ for approximately 2,25m (normal price: 1,99€/m). A spool of elastic thread (3€), and a spool of matching thread (2€).

Yesterday I traced the pattern, loosely based on the Mendocino Summerdress free pattern, which I had to grade to my size (I am, sadly, not an L). Then I decided I didn’t like in-seam pockets, and I had fallen in love with pleated patch pockets. And finally today I cut all the pieces and got to learn how my sewing machine works (new one, cause otherwise I had to borrow one, and it wasn’t that expensive). And a few hours later, I had the dress above!


As a parting gift for my best friend, who is also moving for next year at University (and the following, to finish her degree in a different University from where we both started), I got her a small Teddy-bank1 at Tiger. It comes with some paint and a paintbrush to decorate it yourself. The end result can now be showed, since she has the present already.

Teddy Bank Front Teddy Bank Back

On moving, I’ve already moved in with Jan. There are only a few details in the apartment left to do, namely paint one small thing, and do some retouching here and there. And then putting everything where it should be. But we’re moved in and happy! We survived our first week together already, inluding our fifth anniversary2. One lovely view out of our balcony happened a couple of days ago:

Sunset from our Balcony
  1. Same as a Piggy-bank, but it’s shaped like a Teddy. So cute!
  2. Yes, we’ve been already 5 (five!) years together, and as happy or more as when we started.