New Year’s LARP resolutions for 2015

First of all: Happy 2015 everybody! I hope you all had wonderful holidays with your family and friends, I definately did. As 2015 has started and all the party is over, time has come to think about the year ahead of us. I’m not really a person to make very stringent resolutions for myself, as I know that not living up to them is very probable and also very stressful for me. The new year is, however, a good moment to reflect on last year and think about things that I want to do in 2015. So no ‘real’ resolutions for me, but when it comes to my hobbies, I do have a few things that I would like to do this year! I thought I’d share them here with you. In December (that sounds so far away right now…) I will see what came true this year. So, here is my list:

1. Visit fantasy LARPs again. In 2014, I visited not a single fantasy LARP organised by the association I’m a member of. Of course I had my reasons (no money, no time, new job…) but after a year off I start to miss them. I miss the people I normally see at those events and I miss the intimate atmosphere of an event with 50 people or so. I did visit post-apocalyptic LARPs (where I’m an NPC and game master, which is not the same as being a PC) and Drachenfest in Germany, but those things are definately very different. I hope I can find the possibility to re-enter the stories I’ve been a part of for quite some time either with an old character or a new one!

2. Attend a huge LARP event again. As said before, last summer I went to Drachenfest, an event with about 5000 visitors in Germany. I was blown away by what I saw… I just couldn’t wrap my head around the shear amount of tents, houses, gates, gardens and (most of all) dressed up people doing their thing. I went to the Elf Fantasy fair quite some times (which draws 15000 people but is just a fantasy festival where you can but stuff and see acts), but this is so different and so much better. I will write an article very soon about this experience, as it was wonderful. We will visit the festival again next summer, and I’m already looking forward to it.

3. Visit a fantasy festival in a pretty dress. This might sound like a stupid one… I will explain why I want this. I visit the Elf Fantasy Fair (or Elfia as it is called now) twice a year. Not as a visitor, but to promote the post-apocalyptic role-playing events I have been a part of for about 4 years now. This means I live at the festival terrain for those days, in run-down tents, cooking my food over oil drums and people watching everything you do all day long, and all this while wearing run-down clothing, covered in mud. It’s awesome, no doubt about that, but somewhere in my heart I want to have a pretty dress too sometimes. If only for one day😛 So in 2015, I want to make a real victorian bustle dress and walk the festival grounds in a pretty dress!

4. Use up a lot of stuff I have lying around. This is something that a lot of people who like hobbying as much as I do will recognize I think. I have a big stash of fabric, wool, beads and other stuff lying around, which are either leftovers from other projects, projects-to-be and the things you just couldn’t leave in the store because they are so pretty… It happens to all of us I think, and you don’t really realize what you have… until you move. In March, I moved to a new house and I started packing my stuff. I was a bit shocked to see how much I had! I threw away a lot of hobby stuff (or rather, donated it to other people) and kept quite some stuff too. In this new year,  I will try to use something I already have in each hobby project.

5. Maybe blogging a bit more? Last year, I wrote 2 articles. That is not a lot! Considering all that happened it’s not weird, but I sometimes missed the writing a bit. I hope that next year I will be able to write some more articles and put some love in this blog again🙂

 

That pretty much sums up my hobby resolutions for 2015! Do you have any nice plans for 2015 when it comes to your hobbies?

Categories: General, LARP, The Good Things in Life | Tags: , | Leave a comment

My First Quilt: Part 3


Hello all! Hahaha, it has been almost a year since my last post, but I decided I didn’t want to quit my blog just like that. In fact, I would really like to pick up the writing again. A lot has changed for me, I moved to a new house and started a new job last year, which might explain my absence here. Anyways, in the meantime I finished a lot of projects, including this nice quilt:

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In my last post, I told you that I was a bit afraid of the quilting part… Because of that, it rested for 2 months on a shelf before I found the courage to pick it up again. I wish I had done that earlier, because in the end the quilting was so easy and the blanket was finished in no time! Here is the final part of this tutorial (after part 1 and part 2), and a bonus quilt made by the same method at the end of this post!

STEP 13

So, after finishing the quilt sandwich, it’s time for the quilting! Since I have a very old sewing machine without free foot option (the one that allows you to make the nice swirly patterns) I decided to go for a simple grid. I first stitched over the seams in between the blocks to fixate the layers of the quilt. Afer that, I stitched the seams in the blocks  themselves from one edge to the other (yes, that means stitching through the big squares, don’t worry!). Just do what you like best, you can find countless ideas on how to do this on the internet!

STEP 14

Now it’s time to put the binding around your quilt! You remember the strips of fabric from the beginning? You’ll use them now! Sew all of them together on the short sides, creating a very long strip, and press the seams open. Now fold the strip in half, long sides together, and press. Starting approximately in the middle of one of the long sides of your quilt, line up the rough edges of your binding with the edge of your quilt top, and pin in place. Yes, both layers! Don’t unfold your binding, because he double layer of fabric will give a nice, firm finish.

Binding

 When you reach the corner, fold the binding as indicated in the picture below:

corners

So first outwards, and then back to your quilt top, lining up the fold line with the edge of your quilt. This will allow enough room to fold your binding to the back of your quilt. When you reach the start of your binding again, leave a 1,5 cm overlap between the two ends and cut off the rest. After pinning, start the stitching of your binding about 10cm away from the start of your binding. Stop about 10cm before the end of your binding, because you have to join the two ends first! Grab the two loose ends of your binding and unfold them. Line up the edges, pin and sew with a 7mm seam allowance. press the seam open and voila! Your binding is joined all around! Stitch the last 20 cm of seam and you are ready for the final steps…

joining

STEP 15

And now for the last few bits…. almost there! First, trim the edges of your quilt at 1,5 cm from the stitch line of your binding. Then, fold your binding to the back, around the rough edges. You can do two things now: 1) machine stitch your binding into place and hope that it will look good, or 2) spend a little more time on hand-stitching your binding and being sure it will look very neat (I chose option 2, as you might have guessed). Using a blind stitch (see picture below) about 1 cm apart, secure the binding all around. It took me about 2-3 hours, enough time to watch a movie or some episodes of your favorite series. Who says finishing your quilt by hand is boring? This is multi-tasking at its best!

blind stitch

And after this, your quilt is finished! This is my end product:

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I love it! It’s always somewhere near my couch, and when it gets a bit cold in the evening I snuggle up under my quilt. I really loved making this one, and decided to make a second one for friends who were expecting a baby:

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Made by using exactly the same principle, but a different arrangement of the blocks! Making this one was a lot of fun,because of all the cute fabrics I got to use. What will be next?

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Latest obsession: Amigurumi!

Hi everyone! A happy 2014 to all of you, I hope you’ve had a nice holiday season. I certainly had, with a lot of nice people, good food and of course a lot of hobbying! In fact I discovered something new I am totally crazy about: Amigurumi! Somewhere in November a friend invited me and some other people over for an evening of knitting and crochet. She showed us some books on amigurumi, which is (apparently) the Japanese word for cute small stuffed animals. I loved the idea the moment I was introduced to them! When I went home again, I decided I would ask Santa for some books on Amigurumi, and he certainly heard me I guess! I got two books, one with animals from the forest (owls and frogs, so cute!), and one with 25 different animals (a lot of cats and dogs, but also very nice birds).

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I couldn’t wait to get started with all the cute animals in the books, but I wanted to start with something small and easy. In two hours, this lovely blue snail was born! He is tumbling over all the time (on his face or his side), so next time I will fill the lower part of the body with something heavy, but I like it nonetheless. He seems to be a happy snail, but I’ll have to make a little friend for him some time soon!

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Because I know everything can be found somewhere on the internet, I also looked for amigurumi patterns online. A myriad of cute crochet patterns awaited me, and I picked out two (or actually three) of them to make as presents for family and friends.

The first pattern is of a Bad Piggy and an Angry Bird, that I found on Nerdigurumi (link to the pattern). Wijbe’s uncle loves to play Angry Birds all the time, so I decided I would make him those as a present. He loved them! Unfortunately I forgot to make a picture of them, but this is what they looked like:

Angry Bird and Bad Piggy by Nerdigurumi

The last (and my personal favorite) amigurumi I made as a present was a Prinny. Prinnies are penguin-like figures with small bat wings from the game Disgaea. I never played the game (will do in the near future I hope!) but since I am a big fan of everything penguin-like I decided to like them anyway. A friend of mine, who played the game and told me about prinnies, ceebrated his birthday in December so I decided to make him a Prinny. I found this amazing pattern and started right way. He really liked it, and now the two of them drink a whisky together regularly:

Prinnycollage

I really loved making those amigurumi, and I will definately make some more in the near future. I hope you liked this post and let me know what you crafted recently!

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My First Quilt: Part 2

Hello all! I know, it has been ages since the last update on this project, like on so many projects actually😉. To recap: I am talking about this quilt:

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Last week, I decided to continue working on it. I have lots of now projects coming up, so better finish this one first! The last time I worked on it was before the final stage of my study, which was somewhere in july I think. I already bought all the stuff I needed, so the only thing I had to do now was putting everything together. So I gathered all the pieces and continued!

My last post on this quilt (part 1) ended with a finished top layer. So let’s continue with the back of this quilt!

STEP 8

I decided to include a pieced strip in the back, because this will break up the otherwise solid chocolate-brown fabric of the back. For this, I needed 26 rectangular pieces of fabric, 15 cm long and 7,5 cm wide. The first four pieces were provided by the leftover block from the quilt top. Bust out the seams and cut the square in half, and you already have 4 strips! The rest is cut from the rectangles you cut in the beginning. Don’t cut all of them to pieces, you are gonna need some of them for the border around your quilt later on! Therefore, keep track of how much you’ve cut. Then, sew them all together along the long edges into a strip like this:

DSCN4258press all the seams the same way and put this strip aside for later.

STEP 9

Take the fabric for your back and make sure it’s absolutely flat. Cut of the selfedges and make sure the cutting edge of the fabric is straight and perpendicular to the selfedges. Now, sew one side of the pieced strip to one of the selfedges, and the other side of the pieced strip to the other selfedge. In case it’s not clear: you are making a tube! Press the seams towards the back fabric. Now, determine how far from the edge you want the pieced strip to be. Fold the tube on that line and pin it to your ironing board, like shown in the picture. If your ironing board is not long enough, no worries! You can shift the whole thing later on.

DSCN4264After you’ve measured and pinned your tube along the length of your ironing board, press the fold very thoroughly. Remove the pins (careful, they are HOT!), shift the tube a bit and repeat the process until you pressed the fold along the whole length of the pieced strip.

STEP 10

Now move your pressed tube to your cutting mat and grab your rotary knife and ruler. Cut of a tiny strip from the pressed edge, only a millimeter or so! This will transform the tube into your quilt back, with the pieced strip somewhere incorporated. Cool, right?

STEP 11

The time has come to put everything together into a quilt sandwich! Make sure you have enough room on the floor to spread your quilt, with some room all around for walking and pinning later on. You want to avoid climbing onto your quilt as much as possible, because this can shift around the layers and that’s something you don’t want to happen! First, spread your quilt back on the floor (face down) and make sure no folds are present. My carpet is like velcro, so it stayed flat by itself, but if your floor is very slippery you might want to tape it down with painter’s tape along the sides to keep everything in place. Then spread your batting over the back. Spread it as flat as possible and flatten out any folds. Then, put your quilt front on top, leaving about 3 cm of back and batting on the edges (this will allow for some possible stretching during the quilting later on). Again, try to put it down as flat as possible, but don’t disrupt the layers underneath! After several atempts I figured rolling up your quilt top and unrolling it on top of the sandwich was the best way, because you can control things much easier. The whole thing should now look like this:

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STEP 12

The next step is basting your quilt. Some people prefer real basting (as in: with needle and thread) but the tutorial I followed used a lot of safety pins, so I decided to try that too. First pin the corner of your quilt and from there, put a safety pin every 10-15cm in a square pattern. Just a little reminder: don’t put pins where you want to quilt. If you plan to sew along the seams, don’t put pins there or you’ll be annoyed all the time later on because you have to remove safety pins all the time. Just a thing to keep in mind! The picture is not very clear, bu this is my quilt somewhere half-way the process:

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Search for the pins😉. After basting your whole quilt, cut the remaining back and batting away (remembering those 3cm around). Now it’s time for quilting! I myself was a bit scared, so I put the quilt away for now, but it’s staring very angrily at me all the time… I guess I can’t run away from it forever!

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Perfect Autumn dish: Pumpkin Lentil Soup!

Hey all! Again, it has been a while! My last post is from August 31, which is quite some time ago, and much happened since then. I finished my studies (yes, I am a Master of Science now, that sounds awesome) and since then I have been on a short holiday and spent a lot of time finding a job. I did not succeed yet, but I am confident I will find one before the end of the year! Hopefully a bit sooner, but you can’t press your luck too much😉 So, here we are, it’s autumn already! Here in the Netherlands, it has been raining for days now and the trees have started to change colour. Most people seem to dislike this season, because of the rain, dropping temperatures and shorter days, but to be honest, I don’t mind. Surely I do like long days with a lot of light and warmth, but the autumn is the time of candles, cosyness and above all: wonderful fruits and vegetables. Fresh apples, brussels sprouts, and my favourite: The Allmighty Pumpkin! Why I love it so much? You can use it in soup, pie, curry, desserts, roasted, mashed, cooked, baked, stewed, or use it as a Halloween decoration. Last week I bought my first pumpkin of the season and changed it into pumkin-lentil soup, a very warming dish due to the spices I like to use. Since it’s so simpe to make, I decided to share the recipe with you!

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You will need:

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  • a pumpkin. Size doesn’t matter in this case, unless it’s so big its contents won’t fit in the cooking pot
  • red lentils
  • some cloves of garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • an onion (yellow or red, it doesn’t matter)
  • curry powder

First, clean your pumpkin and cut it into pieces. This is quite a messy process, since the inside of most pumpkins consists of seeds and slimy, mushy fiber-like things. Remove those, you ain’t gonna need them. Cut the rest of the pumpkin into pieces. Most of the times, you don’t need to remove the skin of the pumpkin, but check it for small pieces of stone or sand and wash it thoroughly before you use it. Then, dice the onion and fry it in some oil. As soon as the onion becomes a bit transparent, add about 4-5 chopped cloves of garlic and some chopped ginger, depending on your taste. Let this brown for a few minutes, then add about 500 mL water with some salt, or use chicken or vegetable stock if you have some. Bring this to the boil and add about a handful of lentils, one dinner spoon of curry powder and the pumpkin pieces.

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Cover your cooking pot, turn the heat low and let this simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until both the lentils and the pumpkin pieces are soft. Turn off the fire, get your immersion blender and blend the pumpkin pieces until you have a thick, porridge-like soup. If its too thick, you can always add some water or stock.

And now it’s time to enjoy! I like this soup with some fresh baked whole grain bread, cream cheese with herbs and a few bits of cucumber and tomato. I hope you will try this dish too, and I hope you liked this post!

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Cute stuffed animal

When it comes to gifts, I always prefer giving home made items over bought presents.  Not only do you give a unique gift to that person, matching to what colours, shapes and so on the receiver likes, but I also think home made presents show a lot of appreciation and love from the person who made it. Maybe it wasn’t as expensive as that piece of jewelery from the store, but someone put some thought and effort in making something special for you. How nice is that!

Not so long ago I made this cute stuffed animal for the little daughter of two friends of mine. This one is a chicken, but I think the weird shape can easily be transformed into a lot of different animals. It’s very soft and squishy, and this one got chewed on right away. I guess that is a good thing for very young explorers!

Chicken2

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Last-minute Costuming

Somewhere in June, friends of mine organised their first LARP event and asked me as an NPC. I agreed to help them out, I had to play an elfish servant in the local tavern that weekend, which was fine by me. Since it was a first-time event, they did not have that many costumes, so I decided I would bring my own. The only thing I did not take into account was that I apparently did not have anything suitable lying around for this character (I was very surprised) and that I did not have the time to make a completely new costume! The only option left was making something up with the bits and pieces from previous characters and costumes…

A week before the event the weather was acting grumpy, rainy, cloudy and far too cool for the time of the year, so I decided to go for something which would keep me warm during the day and night, so I took an old black linen dress I made a few years ago for a priestess. I bought an organza fabric with leaves printed on it at the market (very elfish) and decided I would incorporate that somewhere in the final costume. When I got home, I decided I only liked the leaves (and not the fabric in between) so I cut them out and attached them  to the dress (with safety pins) in a pattern that I thought looked OK:

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Certainly nothing I am really proud of, or something I would do again, but good enough to serve its purpose. Until…

… The unthinkable happened. At least, when you live in the Netherlands like I do.  Two hours before I had to leave for the weekend, the sun peaked through the clouds and suddenly the weather was warm, if not hot! And I was stuck with a long-sleeved black dress… What to do now?

I emptied my baskets with costumes and my closet and put a costume together from a few pieces of clothing and accessories I found around the house. I ended up with:

  • a brown skirt I bought last summer
  • my werewolf underskirt, which I pinned up in the front with a few safety pins and decorated with a few of the leaves from the black dress
  • a white blouse I forgot about
  • two leather belts
  • a piece of faux ivy that normally decorates the shower
  • some pieces of jewelry

and it ended up looking like this:

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Not bad at all! More suitable for the weather, quite layered (which I really like) and put together in 15 minutes. Not having a costume can never be an excuse to skip a weekend, that’s what I discovered here. And yes, safety pins are your best friends in these emergency cases! Have you ever made a costume in under an hour which turned out better than you thought it would? Let me know in the comments!

Categories: Clothing, Costumes, LARP | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Caftan for the boyfriend

A little while ago, I had to admit my stash of fabrics got a bit too big (I’m sure every hobbyist recognizes this) and that I had to throw away some pieces of fabric. I ended up with three big bags of fabric which I could miss. A pretty good clean-up if I may say so myself! All of the fabrics went to the LARP association for the costumes guild and so forth. While rummaging through the big pile of fabrics however, my boyfriend spotted a piece of fabric that he wanted for himself. One of his characters, an air mage and a bedouin like my character, could do with a new costume, and he thought this fabric was just the perfect thing. Since he is not that experienced with the sewing machine, he asked me to make him a caftan, and this is the result:

Caftan

He seems to be very happy with his new costume, so that’s always a good thing, especially since I would have thrown away the fabric otherwise! If you want to know how I made this caftan, continue reading🙂.

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Recipe: Gooseberry Mini-pie

Hello everybody! As promised, I would post the recipe for my favourite pie all times, which is gooseberry pie! There goes a little story with this, as how it became my favourite pie. As a child, I really loved sour things. My favourite sweets were the BonBon Napoleons, which I always got from my grandmother, and when I came to pastry, I always wanted to have a gooseberry pie on my birthday. In the Netherlands, all kinds of fruit like cherries, apricots, apples and gooseberries are used for `vlaai’, which is typical for the southern region of our country. Since we live quite close to this area, there was a vlaai shop at our train station which sold gooseberry vlaai. My dad used to go there on the morning of my birthday to buy me one, until I was about 10 years old. That year, the shop had vanished, and gooseberry vlaai was nowhere to be found! No other pie shop sold it, and that was the end of it. Luckily, my dear D&D and LARP friends managed to get me one for my birthday four years ago and again last year, which was so nice of them! Anyways, gooseberry vlaai will probably always be my favorite, because of good memories and a sour taste😉

Last week I found gooseberries at my local grocerer, and I immediately wanted to try my own version of gooseberry vlaai. I decided to make small pies, because my microwave-oven combination has a bit of trouble with big pies and pastry, so I used a muffin tin. They turned out really cute and tasty, so I thought it would be a good idea to share the recipe with you!

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For five mini-pies you will need:

  • 100 g bread mix
  • 150 g gooseberries (either the red or the green ones)DSCN4193
  • 1 packet of pie jelly or gelatine
  • sugar
  • muffin tin
  • a bit of butter and flour
  • parchment paper
  • dried beans

STEP 1

Knead the bread mix with the right amount of water as indicated on the package. Form a ball of the dough and put it in a bowl covered with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes. In the mean time, grease the holes of the muffin tin with butter and dust them with a bit of flour so the dough won’t stick to the tin. Clean and halve the gooseberries and cook them with a few tablespoons of water until they start to fall apart. Add some sugar to taste, depending on how sweet or sour you want your filling to be. Stirr in the pie jelly or gelatine and let the fruit filling cool.

STEP 2

Preheat the over at 200 degrees C. Knead the dough one more time and roll it out until it’s about 3 mm thick. cut out five rounds which are a bit bigger than the holes of your muffin tin and cover the holes of the muffin tin with the dough. Make sure there are no holes in the dough and that the sides are high anough to contain the filling. put a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and fill the pie with dried beans (this is called ‘blind baking’). Bake the pie crusts for 15 minutes. From the rest of the dough, roll or cut long, thin strips.

DSCN4194STEP 3

After the pre-baking, remove the parchment paper and beans from the pie crusts. make sure you remove all the beans, or someone will break a tooth, which is not good. Put about a tablespoon of filling in each pie crust. Take your thin strips of dough and put them over the filling cross-wise, partly covering up the filling. Brush some water over the dough strips and sprinkle some sugar on top. Bake the pies one more time for 10 minutes. Finished!

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Of course you can fill these pies with everything you want. All kinds of fruits will taste good as long as the filling is not too wet, and even savoury fillings are possible because the dough itself is not sweet. I hope you will enjoy this recipe and try it for yourself. Please let me know what filling you used and how they turned out, I would love to hear from you!

Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

I’m back!!!

Hello everybody, I’m back online! I am still alive, although it has been very quiet here for some time. Yesterday, I was shocked to see I didn’t post anything for the last 3 (!) months. This was mainly due to my study, because in a few weeks I will be able to call myself MSc in natural sciences, which is something I am quite proud of.

Not blogging (or even touching the sewing machine) for so long made me think about how to continue with this blog. My intentions when I started this blog was writing about LARP and making costumes, but I realized I have so much more hobbies I could write about! Writing about them is also fun, and since making tutorials takes a lot of time, writing about books, games and recipes will give me a chance to put a post on this blog much more often. So, in the weeks to come I hope I will have more time to blog and see how it turns out! My first recipe is already on its way, so stay tuned it you want to know how to make my favourite pie…

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