Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Swedish word/phrase of the week -extra edition

When I dropped TWO off at dagis today, I saw that quite a number of kids were dressed up for Halloween. Being an Australian, it's not really something I pay much attention to, so TWO was not dressed up, unless you count the gorgeous red cardigan that her mormor knitted her for Xmas last year. She insisted on wearing it because it had pockets and she needed them to store her buttons.

In any case, as I was redonning my rain gear to walk to the tram stop in the delightful autumn rain, I heard the other kids running around saying "Bus eller godis". So I thought that would make a fun translation effort for the blog.

Bus eller godis 

Literal translation : mischief or lollies
Actual translation : trick or treat

Godis is such a central part of Swedish life that it really deserves another post for another day. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bomb marks the spot

So I mentioned a week ago that my wee one told me she loved me for the first time. I thought I should perhaps mark the spot with something. But someone beat me to it! 

The bomb marks the spot where my lovely wee darling told me she loved me for the first time. 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Swedish word/phrase of the week


Actual translation - zipper
Literal translation - lightning/flash lock

This weekend I was at Stoff och Stil, the fabric store and I was reminded of another fabulous literal translation. Lightning/flash lock, love it. I guess it makes sense though, you are able to 'lock' two pieces of fabric together really quickly. :-) 

Sunday, October 27, 2013



My sister in law loves the colour purple. So when it was time to work out what to make my niece, her first daughter, something for her first birthday, I knew it had to be purple. 

I found this pattern for a crocodile at a fabric shop here in G-town. It is my go to place for new fabric and very lovely accessories like this, more on those beauties later. 

I also found some lovely corduroy, or what the Swedes refer to as Manchester, in a deep purple colour and set about making my first softy. 

I now need to explain, the instructions were in Swedish, and relatively brief. The tail construction was particularly difficult to follow. As a result, the crocodile didn't quite end up looking as much like a crocodile as it might otherwise have done. It was more of a crocodile/hippo cross breed. Hence the name crocadippo. 

The wee one loved it and was loath to give it away to her cousin. I had intended to make her one, but I haven't quite got onto it yet. One day. I'll add it to my ever extending list of projects. 


Friday, October 25, 2013

How my child made my heart melt into a melty puddle and other stories

Monday afternoon was grey and cloudy. The wee one (TWO) and I were on our way home from dagis. She was all snuggled up in her pram with the blanket that her Nanna bought her before she was born. She had Cressida the cow with her and her lion hat on. (see the picture below, Ottobre pattern 'Ernie')lion hat

We were walking past the shop where we bought her bike helmet. Right about the place where, every time we reach it, she comments on the fact that we bought her helmet, her blue helmet, there. I was playing some kind of game with her. I don't quite remember which one. Entirely possibly we were making funny faces at each other. She's got some great ones. 

I put my head inside the rain cover on the pram and up close with hers. I said "I love you, monkey." and she grabbed my face in both her hands and said "I love you, mama." That moment there. That was when I melted. 

I hope never to forget the first time my wee girl told me she loved me. Maybe I should put a heart at the spot, much like these hearts I saw while out and about. 

pillar heart stone   heart stone

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hand dyed puerperium cardigan for Shell and Con's baby

So probably my closest friend here in G'town is Shell. We hang out pretty regularly and shoot the shit. As a fellow scientist type, Shell has a similar perspective on the world and we enjoy talking about science, life and food. 

She and her Swedish boyfriend, who I call Con, are expecting their first baby in February. I'm rather excited for them and had planned to make them something for the baby. My favourite baby cardigan has to be the puerperium cardigan. It is adorable and practical. 

So I started with the premise that I would knit up a cardi in red yarn that I dyed myself. However, once I did the first round of dyeing with the red food colouring as per this post, I really didn't like the red. It was too coral and not bright enough. I made the decision then to put some yellow in it and make an orange instead. The result was awesome. I was incredibly happy with it.
orange puerperium

As you may be able to note from this picture, I ran out of yarn just before I reached the bottom of the cardi. So I had to dye more yarn. But I'm very happy with it anyway. 

Shell is a huge fan of squirrels and so finding these squirrel buttons was just the icing on the cake.  Finishing up what has ended up being a rather autumnal garment. Hopefully it will brighten the dark Swedish winter and keep her wee one warm and snug come Feb. 

orange puerperium close up

orange puerperium cardigan squirrel buttons!

Raveled here

Monday, October 21, 2013

Swedish word/phrase of the week


Translation : glasses 

Literal translation : glass eyes

A story to accompany this word of the week. When I finally got around to getting myself an ID card for Sweden organised, some 4 years after moving here, I had to go and get my photo taken for said ID card. 

I'm guessing the woman who was on duty that day behind the new photography device saw my name and felt it would be easier for all concerned to speak English. I appreciate this gesture sometimes from Swedes, particularly when I'm feeling tired or lazy. I can just speak my own language and let my mind wander elsewhere. But in recent times, as I've become more confident with Swedish, I find it a bit amusing. 

In any case, she was having difficulty in getting the new fangled photographic device to work and take a decent photo of my face. At which point she suggested that it might be best for me to 'take off your glass eyes' so that she wouldn't have trouble with reflection.

From that point on I have always thought of the literal translation of glasses to glass eyes. Speaking of which, I relatively recently bought new glass eyes with gold hearts in the frame. I love them. One could go so far as to say I heart them. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Scrap happy baby gifts

I love making gifts for people. It satisfies my creative self and stops my house being filled with things I've made that I can't use. I'm also a big fan of reusing/recycling or using up the last scraps of fabric from other projects. So when I saw that Dana had a tutorial for burp cloths I had a solution to a couple of problems. I have lots of scraps and babies to make gifts for. 

For example, from left to right in the picture below I have some remnant fabric I used to make a wheat bag for my running buddy, lining fabric for a dress I made for a friend, and spotty stuff from a dress I made for a friend's daughter. 
All made up into burp cloths and tied with that ribbon that you get on some ladies garments for hanging. I often cut those off to use for this kind of purpose because they make the cloths stay together and also because they look cute bundled up. 

dribble clothsfolded up facecloths

At the end of last year, some more scraps helped me make a gift for my yet to be born niece in Queensland. My sister in law was expecting her second around Christmas last year so I sent a parcel for her older daughter and the yet to be born baby. My sister in law loves the colour purple, so I used a fair bit in the gifts for the girls. Here you can see the mooshy bunny (with tutorial) that I made from leftovers from other projects, including a bell inserted in that squishy belly.

Pack for the H-bomb

And here are the cloths themselves with my knitted facewasher that I found the pattern for here

From left to right we have, floral fabric that I loved but had no specific project for, leftover dress fabric from a 2nd birthday dress for a friend's daughter, lining fabric as above, another love fabric without specific project and finally the green with the floral is a pair of my PJs that I had worn out the bum on and pulled apart to reuse in projects like these. 


I'm guessing you've worked out the niece's name started with a 'H' right?

I love that I can reuse old clothes and leftovers from other projects to make colourful gifts for friends and babies and friends' babies. I'm feeling the desire to get the rabbit pattern out again and make some more. They are easy to make and super cute.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Being vampired, Swedish style

I gave blood this morning. It is a slightly different experience in Sweden vs Australia. I gave blood for the first time at uni in 1998. SInce then I've done it fairly regularly. 

In Australia I would get a snack of cheese and biscuits with maybe a milkshake if I were especially lucky.

In Sweden, I get to choose a gift of some description as well as a snack. I now have a small collection of blue bowls and I also have a 'blood bag', which is a cotton shopping bag. 

I want to get about 4-5 of these blue bowls. So I guess I'll have to keep donating. Lucky for Sweden and for me that I have good veins, a healthy iron count and a desire to do my bit and share my A+ blood with those in need. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rock the casbah! Musical stylings of a two and a half year old

The wee one (TWO) loves watching music videos on the TV. We have a whole bunch of them and this morning we had to watch Rock the Casbah by the Clash, many times.

I'll give it to her, she has musical taste (the less said about Gangnam style the better) 

Fluffy pants for Bean

mini pants

As I mentioned in a previous post, I made a number of things for my new niece, who I have referred to here as Bean, when my brother visited in the middle of this year.

Here is another of those things. I made her a pair of velour pants with striped waistband and cuffs. 

I bought the green velour a year or so ago at a craft fair, with the idea of using it for TWO in some capacity. But then never found exactly the right project for it. 

Then when we were looking for fabric for Bean's pants it suddenly seemed appropriate. I love fuzzy pants on babies. When TWO was in cloth nappies my favourites were the fuzzy ones. The fuzz feels fabulous when you spend a lot of time holding onto a small bottom and TWO had many pairs of fuzzy dacks.

I used an Ottobre pattern for these ones, #4, Summer Sea from the 3/2013 edition. My Ottobre enthusiasm is well known. TWO's birthday dress from this year was a mash up of two different Ottobre patterns. But more on that later. The shower calls, I've just finished my first run in a couple of weeks. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FODMAPs friendly salsa

For my 23rd birthday the boy gave me a Mexican cookbook. I really love Mexican food, but the cookbook really only yielded a few things that really helped my cooking. It was a book from the US and suggested I got to my local Hispanic market to pick up the ingredients I needed.

Considering it was 2003 in Melbourne, Australia, that really wasn't an option. But what it did give me was an appreciation for some of the spice mixes that go well together to create a Mexican meal. 

Now a normal salsa contains onion and garlic, both of which are no goes on the FODMAPs diet. I have found onion especially bad for me. So I haven't been able to enjoy salsa from a jar for a good long while now. 

Here is what I do to make my own, delicious, salsa that I love possibly even more than the stuff you buy. The great news is too, that it's cheap, easy and makes lots so you can freeze some for later.


1 500g tin of chopped tomatoes or about 6 medium tomatoes chopped
a generous glug of garlic oil
1 small tin (150g) of corn* 
2 capsicums/bell peppers diced
half a 400g jar of tomato paste, but feel free to approximate

*corn is moderate in FODMAPs, but fortunately the quantity used in this salsa means that it has been fine for me. 

spices and seasoning:

1 glug of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp salt, or to taste
2-3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 tsp cumin
1 bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro

other stuff it's useful to have

Some clean glass jars with lids. I just collect the jars of tomato paste and jam and other such things and have them on hand.
A saucepan. 
Wooden spoon, known in our house as a foon because TWO can't say 'sp' properly and it comes out as f. 

how you do it (with pictures!)

Put your garlic oil and tomatoes in the saucepan, with your tomato paste underneath.

garlic oil added

Add the corn.


And the spices/seasoning (without the coriander/cilantro).


And don't forget those chopped peppers/capsicum.


Give it a good stir and simmer on a low to medium heat for a good long while. The longer the better. I am inclined to leave it for 2-3 hours if I have the time available.

Then don't forget to add the chopped coriander/cilantro.


Continue cooking until it looks a bit like this :

salsa done

My best advice is to now taste test the salsa. Does it need more salt? More sugar? Could it do with a touch more tomato paste? Make sure it tastes the way you want it to before you put it away or use it. 

Now get your clean jars and fill them up with yummy salsa. Here's one I prepared earlier. 

salsa in a jar!

I generally freeze those I don't plan on using straight away. I haven't bothered to sterilise the jars in the past because I find that we use a good amount of the salsa fast enough that just having them clean doesn't lead to problems. 

Due to the fact that this salsa doesn't have preservatives added, I find that once opened I need to eat this stuff relatively quickly before mould takes up residence. A few days preferrably. And I also always check it for mould. But I do that with any opened jar of salsa in our fridge. Well, I would do, if we had any commercial stuff in there anymore. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Making chicken stock -FODMAPs friendly

So I mentioned in my post about Thai Pumpkin soup that I used home made chicken stock made in a FODMAPs friendly way. 

My recipe is somewhat flexible, depending on what herbs and vegetables I have available. My most recent stock didn't have any celery in it, despite that being a bit of a standard*. But we couldn't get any at the supermarket and thought it would be good to just run with what we did have. 

After your chicken roast has settled nicely in your belly, strip your chicken and put the carcass and bones into a big pot. Add enough water to cover the bones and add some/any/all of the following vegetables

No need to chop them up finely or anything. Just a rough chop and into the pot. 

Then I like to add fresh thyme and a couple of bay leaves to my stockpot and a bit of my garlic oil

Now comes the lazy and useful part. Boil that stock gently for a good long while. A few hours at least. Many people when talking about stock will tell you to skim off any scum that forms on the top. I've yet to find it necessary. 

After your gentle boil of several hours, it is time to strain your stock. We have a fine colander that works well to let stock through but keeps the bones and herbs and veg stuck. 

Turf your big bits into the compost or regular bin and take your stock and put it in the fridge.

Because I haven't added salt to this stock as I make it, it does generally need a bit of salt for use later on, otherwise the taste is off. I generally add the salt to taste when I'm cooking with the stock later. Like in our risotto that is the usual follow on from making stock. I'm making some tonight, I might get some photos of that to add here too because the recipe is so tasty and with homemade stock it is even better than normal risotto. So. Much. Flavour. 

Here are pictures of said stock before and after heating. I particularly love that you can see the layer of solidified fat on the top. 

stock topwarm stock

*celery contains mannitol but I've found that I tolerate it okay in stock. If you are on elimination, give it a miss.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Making garlic oil -FODMAPs recipe

garlic oil close up

I love garlic. With a passion. Alas, garlic does not love me. The belly is most unhappy if I eat too much of it. Too much can be quantified as some these days. So I make garlic oil to use in all my dishes that need a bit of a garlic flavour to help enhance the flavour of my meals. 

I thought it might be something that others might enjoy/find useful so I thought I'd write it down for future reference. 

It's also important to not leave cloves of raw garlic infusing in oil as you would with other infused oils. There is a risk of botulism. Which is why you do the following:
  1. Get 100ml or so of your oil of choice and put it in a pan
  2. Add a few cloves of garlic. If you need specifics, add 5
  3. Fry those little cloves until they are nice and brown, 5-10 minutes is recommended to kill off bacteria, nice and hot. 
  4. Let the oil cool and then remove the cloves and decant your oil into an old oil bottle that you have sitting around. Obviously you can use any container you want, but we go through olive oil relatively quickly, so we have a bottle set aside reasonably frequently
  5. Profit!  and/or garlic oil for your consumption and delight
garlic oil

Swedish word/phrase of the week

Väl och ve 

Translation: well being
Literal translation : well and woe

In my class last week we were reading various excerpts from letters to the editor and working out whether they were argumentative texts or not. One thing that stood out as something I didn't know was the phrase väl och ve. As you can see above, it translates to well being. But the literal translation is well and woe. I like that idea. It encompasses the idea of well being in English. The idea that it encompasses all of a life, the good and the bad. The general state of someone's life. Both the good, well and the bad, woe. Fabulous. 

Swedish continues to be interesting to me as a language, but I have the worst time with the verb ska. I will, however, attempt to mistress it before I've finished my course for this year. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Elmer dress and red puerperium cardi for Bean

My brother and his wife had their first baby in July this year. They had a little girl who I'm going to nickname Bean. My brother was here not too long before Bean was due because he needed to get his visa for Ethiopia renewed. His wife is Ethiopian and they were living there until quite recently. 

I sent him home with a number of different things for her, but these two stood out as my favourites. 

I made a Geranium dress from, and the fabric I chose reminded me of Elmer the elephant. So I called it the Elmer dress. 

Here it is:

elmer dress

And I used three different buttons from TWO's stash of buttons that she plays with to put on the back. My brother helped me choose which ones to use. 

elmer dress reverse

Added to the 'outfit' for bean I made a puerperium cardigan, which is perfect for newborns and a really fun knit. I have made many many of these as will become evident as I get them all up on the blog. 

red puerperium 3

And a closeup of the buttons that TWO helped to choose at her favourite shop at the local square, the wool shop with the wall of buttons.

red puerperium2

I made it in 100% alpaca yarn from drops design. I love that yarn. It's so soft and warm. I have a pair of socks that sadly got felted in the wash that were made with that yarn and they were incredible to wear. Super soft and super warm. *drool*

I was lucky enough to see photos of Bean wearing said outfit after she was born and I'm so glad it suited her. Now I have to get busy and make her another one for when we visit them all in Australia early next year.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Nom nom nom nom

I need to share this right now. Just a few km from my apartment is a giant bakery, for the company Pågen. I was just on my way home from a friend's house and was reminded why this was an excellent thing. The smell of kanelbullar wafted past me on the night air and filled my heart with joy. Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

1st Birthday dress for TWO


The wee one (TWO) is two and a half now. But 18 months ago, I started what I hope will be a tradition of making her a dress for her birthday. She was born at the end of winter/start of spring and so I wanted something that can be layered with warmer stuff underneath but still functional later in the year. 

For her first birthday, I made a wrap around dress with a pattern from stoff och stil and fabric from the same place. It was a really fine corduroy with hot pink trees on it. I'm not a massive fan of pink, especially pale pink, on myself or the similarly coloured wee one. But I really liked the pattern on this fabric. 

She got some good wear out of it and I enjoyed having a sewing machine again to make it, rather than sewing by hand. 

Monday, October 07, 2013

Swedish word/phrase of the week


Vegetables to you and me who look in the dictionary. But for those who love a literal translation, green things. Every time I see this word, I get a giggle going. I often say to the boy that I think we need more green things in our diet, or I am going shopping to get some green things. 

What's not to love about the language in which vegetables are referred to as green things. My ipod is green, maybe I shall rename it vegetable. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Is that a penis in my coffee or are you just pleased to see me?

Ah the delights of coffee art. There is a new girl at my preferred coffee place at work. She is attempting to make creative patterns in the coffee, or at least some kind of pattern.

This was Friday's effort. I was absolutely forced to take a photo so I might share it with the world. 

Tell me I'm not alone in seeing a cock and balls.

Friday, October 04, 2013

My third Washi - a tale of a dress that has many iterations

washi knit

I am an enthusiastic sewer of things. That is sew er, as opposed to sewer where the toilet waste goes. I didn't have a sewing machine here for a long time and it was only when TWO was almost 1 year old that I got one. 

I am also prone to my belly blowing up like a balloon due to eating the wrong foods. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been the bane of my Swedish existence. Starting some six to eight months after I moved here, I had a stomach that would range from the normal "fitting into my clothes from the start of the day to the end" to "not fitting because I looked about six months pregnant" with all the contained gases. I would also regularly have horrible attacks which would leave me feeling incredibly sick and sorry for myself. The phrase 'peeing out of my arse while feeling like I want to vomit copiously' comes to mind. Really rather unpleasant.

As a result of the unpredictable (until recently) nature of the size of my gut, I have spent a goodly amount of time looking for clothing that compensates and allows for a variable gut size. The washi dress from made by rae is one such item that came to my attention as perfect for those days when I was blown up like the aforementioned balloon.

It is also a great "all you can eat" dress, which also compensates for overconsumption of delicious food.

I have made three washis in total thus far and have plans for at least four more. The first two followed the basic pattern appropriately and I made a size M which worked well. But I wanted a stretchy one for the summer. 

So here's what I did to alter it and how it ended up.

I made a S size rather than a M to allow for the extra ease/stretch in a knit fabric. I then lowered the neckline a bit and took up the shoulders about an inch. This is mostly because I am quite short between my shoulders and bustline and I had problems with the armholes being a bit low. I added a couple of rows of extra shirring on the back to avoid a puffy top section of the back of the dress. 

I also used some cheap remnant fabric that I picked up at my local fabric store, so I wasn't wasting expensive knit fabric on what was a (hopefully wearable) muslin. So the stripes aren't exactly straight everywhere, but I'm still pretty pleased with how it worked out. 

I hope you can see that I'm a bit happy with it and a couple of close ups to see the details of the neckline. I just finished the edges by folding them over and sewing them down. I think next time I might use some vliesofix to make it a bit more sturdy. 

washi knit2

shirred to perfectionfront and center