The mandtaory end/begining of year post

I was quite busy at the end of the year. A pretty huge freelance project seemed like it needed to be wrapped up quickly (although it still isn’t done…), someone started paying me for writing exactly the same stuff I write for my blog, so I kinda prioritised that and then, there was all the Christmas crafting I needed to do. I was really good this year, made some gifts I liked so much it was hard to give them away.

I made a handbag for my sister, a lovely round one with embroiderer cuddling foxes.

I also made a weekender bag for mum, and I printed on the fabric for that one myself. Then there was a kindle sleeve for my dad and some trinkets for others.When I got to Slovenia, I also made a little fox rattle/pillow for my nephew.

I think the weekender bag is my favourite sewing crafting project ever, and the one I’m most proud of. Also the one I spent most (productive ) time on ever. I’m seriously thinking about making the exact same bag for myself. Or maybe the exact same one I made for my sister? Or maybe something new…

Anyway to sum up my 2014 real quick: nothing really obviously big happened, I didn’t get a “real job” or a baby or other similar things my parents would like me to get. I did however do a number of freelance jobs I really enjoyed and was proud of and most of them were surface pattern design related. The one I’m most proud of, is a design for bikinis someone was supposed to make in Australia. I have no idea if that’s actually happening, but I got a picture of a bikini made out of fabric I designed and it was pretty much the highlight of my summer.

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Life-wise quite big changes happened, even if not the ones one would expect. People who know me know I had those “I’m going to live super healthy now” trips quite often. They usually lasted a month or two, but then I kind of gave up… My biggest issue was giving up smoking, even when I moved to London where a box of cigarettes costs about a human kidney and a half. I solved that problem by importing way to many cigarettes and forcing all of my friends and relatives to bring me some when they visited. But then, somehow, I honestly don’t even remember how, I started running. And then I didn’t give that up after a fortnight, I actually started to enjoy it. And with that came the realisation that one of the biggest things holding me back, was my nasty habit and I just quit. Just like that. I still have half of a box of cigarettes on my shelf, because this time I didn’t go the “this is the last box” route. It’s there because I hate doing things for the last time – so It’s easier for me not to smoke, knowing I can start again any time I want, so I don’t. (makes more sense in my head then now that I actually put it into words:)). I also almost stopped eating meat (mostly environmental reasons) and I can report that I’m generally quite a bit happier and more optimistic.

And lastly, my goals for this year (not resolutions, I had none last year and I’m now actually healthy and thinner and way happier):

– I want to sew some jeans
– design a fabric pattern collection each month
-possibly sew some hot hot underwear
– carry on running, maybe do a 10k or something like that
– talk to my family more
– write poetry again
– read more books, watch less TV
-blog more. Like at least once a week 🙂
-possibly start an actual business

And that’s that for the obligatory end of the year and first new years post, that merged into one. I have so many projects and recipes lined up, I really hope I actually blog about them:)

Brighton and The Seven Sister Country Park

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This was the first trip me, Norb and Ari went on in the UK. Norb’s parents were visiting and they’re not really city people, so a day or two of sightseeing around London was more than enough for them. Because they stayed for almost 9 days, we had to fill the rest with something (mostly it was eating baclavas, walking the dog around the marshes and looking for a small rectangular light coloured head scarf for Norbs grandma, which was almost mission impossible). So this was the perfect opportunity to rent a car and go somewhere out of Oyster reach. (I don’t have a drivers licence and Norb prefers having a second driver in the car). We didn’t need much thinking to decided that going south is the best idea, since we’re all huge fans of the sea.

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I guess there’s lots to do in Brighton, if you want to do stuff, but we just walked around, took pictures and enjoyed the sun and sea air. We also ate some fish and chips, because I heard that’s what you’re supposed to do there:) We went to a pub, we also had to check “more or less traditional pub” from their “what to do in the UK” list. The pub has something to do with baskets or weavers or maybe basket weavers in the name and we were really happy with our choice. The food was amazing!

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Then, we went on to the Seven Sisters Country Park, which was simply magnificent. I imagined it was going to be quite crowded and windy (I like to prepare for the worst), but it wasn’t either. Some German school kids were going back when we went towards the beach and then we were almost alone. There was a pleasant light summer breeze and all you could hear were birds, waves and sheep in the distance.

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We all wished we went there earlier, you could spend a whole day there, just walking around and enjoying the view. Everywhere you turn and look, you see something amazing. Then you walk approximately 5 meters, and everything seems even prettier.

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I’m not a fan of long car drives on winding roads (I don’t feel well four hours afterwards), staying in the sun too long without a hat, or heights, so when we went on top of the first cliff, I wasn’t exactly happy. The dog enjoyed it a lot, though, he doesn’t mind being an inch away from dying at all. He even set down half way up, just on the edge of the path, and scratched his ear viciously for approximately a million years and I almost fainted just looking at him. Even thinking about that now makes my stomach turn…

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We both enjoyed the top though. Being away from the edge, but still being able to see everything made me happy again, and he was even happier about all of the lovely presents the sheep have left for him. (It was poo. He loves it. Eating it. Rolling in it. Eating whatever is left over from rolling in it.) There were many lambs and baby rabbits all around the meadows, so the beauty was improved by some incredible cuteness.

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I think it was the perfect day trip. If you’re quite new to the UK and wonder what to explore, I’d definitely recommend The Seven Sisters. Brighton is quite nice too, but a bit too touristy for my taste.

Brussels by (mega)Bus: a Weekend Trip Across the Sea

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Ever since one of my best friends (who we shall call Vegegrafinja, because that’s what we called her on my previous Slovenian blog and it was one of the best nicknames I ever created) moved to Brussels, she was trying to convince me that I should most definitely visit. I always thought I don’t have enough money to do that. Plane tickets are expensive and than you have to drink litters of beer there, buy fancy chocolate and eat waffles and …

She (and her boyfriend) came to visit us in London last year and they came by bus. They travelled in Asia for 8 months so I assumed they’re used to long bus rides, on the other hand I could NEVER survive 7 hours stuck in a smelly crowded vehicle. But she kept on inviting me and ensuring me that my only costs would be the beer (but that they will buy me some of those, too) and that the bus ride is really great and you can get tickets for 1 pound (really. They did. I didn’t, mine were 18 in each way) and Brussels is amazing and… The last obstacle for me was my mortal fear of the Euro tunnel (I have mild claustrophobia and it gets worse if I’m stuck in a place with lots of people under ground. I just imagine all the horrible ways I could die if something gets wrong.) but everyone, even the Megabus website ensured me that we’ll take the ferry. So there were no more excuses left and I bought the tickets.

Just before I started the journey, I read somewhere on the internet that I should really lover my expectations for Megabus. That it was going to be horribly crowded, late, stinky and just like a modern level of Dante’s hell with loud people on phones, small children screaming directly into your ears from all sides and your legs slowly and painfully dying from no blood circulation. So I borrowed Norb’s fancy noise cancelling earphones, packed all of my modern means of portable entertainment (computer, smart phone, kindle) and prepared myself for the worst journey of my life.

But let me tell you, it was the exact opposite. Well, I’m not calling it the most pleasant journey ever, after all I was lucky enough to travel first calls to the US once, but it was not bad at all. There was absolutely no crowd- everyone who wanted it had 2 seats for themselves. All of the passengers were more or less grown up and they were quiet and pleasant the whole ride. All the staff, from the chek-in ladies at Victoria to the bus driver, were super nice (the bus driver was also very funny and made some great jokes along the way) and we left the station almost on time – 5 minutes late, because a passenger that checked in didn’t come to the bus (we could complain about her, but she was very British and apologized to the whole bus when she finally arrived). The sit where I sat had no electrical sockets ( I sat in the 2nd row), but I later learned the the ones in the back do. There’s also some very slow wifi available while you’re still in the UK, but it was waaay to slow for me. So all in all, the ride is amazing for the price. There was the one thing, though…

You’ve probably already guessed that we did take the Eurotunel after all. When the bus driver announced it at the beginning of our ride I contemplated running out of the bus screaming for a few minutes, but at that point my thirst for Belgian beer was too strong. For some reason I imaged the tunnel and train to be a small and dark place, kind of like a tube or metro, just with cars and buses squeezed into it. But in reality it’s quite spacious and there’s enough light and I almost didn’t panic at all. I waited till that point to get my computer out and started watching something just before we went in and I only looked away from the screen for a few seconds. So I was pleasantly surprised that we were out of the train even before the episode of Charmed ended. From that point on, I just enjoyed the ride.

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 The bus boarding the train that goes into the tunnel

Vegerafinja awaited me in Brussels, and although the bus arrives straight to the city centre, I decided that I’ll leave the sight seeing for other days. Brussesl is tiny and I didn’t really want to visit any museums this time, so I had plenty of time to see all the sights at least twice in the three days. They are (almost) all lovely. (I was not impressed by the manneken piss at all, as you could imagine.)

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 I am standing right in front of the thing. Not far away as one might imagine. 

This was my second time in Brussels so my main objective was to actually drink as much beer as I could mange without passing out, eat at least one real Belgian waffle (you get the best ones from the vans. really) and buy some chocolate for home. I also had to eat an unhealthy amount of fries- they are Belgian, not French after all.

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 Moinette was my favourite

But Vegerafinja also showed me around their neighbourhood, which is very close to the lovely Parvis de Saint Gilles where normal (by that I mean not-hipsters, which was a refreshing change from home) young people like to hang out in the evenings, twe went to see some traditional Palestinian dancing, they showed me where to get very tasty cakes, wonderful art nouveau buildings, …

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 Banksyish manneken

My favourite part by far was our trip to the market at Gare du Midi. I lovelovelove markets, so this was a real treat. They said it’s the biggest one in Europe (and I trust them, so I won’t do any fact checking:)) and I guess you could buy anything there. There’s the stalls with fancy Italian foods, all kinds of cheese, cheap Chinese electronics, cheap clothes, fabric and toys, cheap chocolate, expensive chocolate, fired everything, and all kinds of produce. We had some amazing wraps with olives, cheese and honey (olives and honey seem like one of the most unappetizing combinations ever. But they actually make a great pair) and bought a ton of strawberries for 2 € (I’m still trying to find anything remotely similar around here.)

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The only disappointing part of the market was the selection of fabrics, which was far from great, but I guess Walthamstow raised my expectations of cheap fabric markets a bit too high.

All in all, the trip was much more fun and a lot less stressful than I expected it to be. It opened me up to the whole idea of bus travel, and we already bought some tickets to Amsterdam. There is a whole new world of possibilities out there for me, and you can expect more posts about my travelling to different cities (which, I can imagine, are probably quite boring to most people. but I like them. :))

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 I love the look on the face of the guy behind me. He must really dislike tourists taking pictures of eating fries:D

London coffee festival (2014)

I love coffee. All kinds of coffee -from nice espressos to good quality home brews. I’ve been drinking it for years now, my father used to bring coffee beans from all of his travels around the world and we tried many different kinds of preparation methods in recent years. Since we moved to London I really enjoy trying out new coffee places on weekends (It is too pricey for me to have a nice late every day), but got used to drinking tea instead of coffee daily, because we only had a french press and a cafeteria (or, in British terms, a cafeteria and a mocca, I think. The naming of coffee making equipment confuses me) and I’m not particularity good at making either.

We were really exited for the coffee festival ever since we heard of it a few months ago. I don’t go to fairs or conventions often, I get claustrophobic in crowds and am not a huge fan of slowly moving around a large crowded area, but I could bare it for coffee:) And it was totally worth it.

I drank an unhealthy amount of different coffees – I had to try all of the ones prepared in new fun ways. My favourite was the Aeropress (at the Union, where we also got some nice free beans), so we obviously had to buy one. If you’ve never heard of t, it’s an invention by the same guy who patented the Frisbee and the outcome taste-wise is (in my opinion) a great middle between an esspresso and a french press. Not too strong, not too mild, not too acidic.

I also tried some of the cold brewed coffee made with the extremely fancy looking apparatus at Alchemy and I think I really insulted the guy who made it by saying it was really suer. But it was. Really. I did not like it at all.

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We also tried a billion other kinds of coffee (and I couldn’t sleep until 3 in the mornin). One of my other favourites was observing the Italian barista champion, who was cramped into a corner somewhere between the artisanal coffee makers and other products and was employed to promote something Italian. No one at their stand ever said anything, he just made amazing cappuccinos with great looking foam art.

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Anyway, here’s a video Google made for Norb. (yes, Google made that. Norb just chose the music and a filter. If you have a Nexus, Google figures out which pictures and videos were made at the same event and than just makes a video. It’s both extremely scary and amazing.)

Best of 2013

This blog isn’t old enough for me to find 5 best projects I did this year and posted here, but I did exist before I started writing it. I also had a Slovenian blog, so there is some material for me to choose from if I want to make a “top 5 things I created last year” list. So why shouldn’t I :)?

Here it is, in no particular order, the 5 things I created last year and am most proud of:

-This awesome cake I made for Norb for his birthday. We celebrated it on the same day the last GOT episode of series 3 came out, so it seemed fitting (we’re also both fans of the show, obviously.)

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-This pretty red polka dot dress. It was my first time using a serger and I had professional supervision, so it turned out quite awesome.

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-This cape. It was one of the first wearable things I ever made and I LOVE it.

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-This hot sauce label. It was one of my first freelancing design jobs  and first food label I ever did, so I’m still quite proud of it. It’s not perfect, but, you know… It’s the beginning of something

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-My graduate thesis. It took me 2 years to finish it and at the end I was still quite unhappy with how it turned out. Now, after I had a month of reflection, I’m actually quite proud of myself. I’m (almost officially) a Disney Princess expert and that’s probably one of the awesomest things I’ll ever be. (More accurately, I’m an expert on the Representation of Women In the Disney Princess series, but let us not be too pedantic …)

Christmas time in Slovenia

I was in Slovenia for Christmas. Because of the “can’t.get.the.dog.there.with.no.truble” issue, we only went for 5 days (Ari had a dog sitter who lived in our apartment and took care of him in the meantime). It was a pretty traditional celebration – all we did was eat immense amounts of food each day, drink wine and homemade spirits and then we ate some more. First there was lunch with mum, then Christmas dinner with dad, then we went off to Norbs home town where we had to eat 2 more ridiculously huge meals with his family. There was also time to meet with friends, drink more home made spirits and eat some oldschool Slovenian pizza (thick crust, lots of cheese). I did think about sharing some recipes, but there’s only one that I really want to share. My grandmas secret potica recipe. I’ll make one here and share the recipe after I tested it myself (that can also go horribly wrong. I only made potica once in my life). Until then – some photos.

My sister is studying culinary arts in Dublin, so the dinner she prepared with my father  had traditional elements from this part of Europe (the beef and the cake), as well as some modern takes on traditional dishes from Slovenia- the pumpkin soup with pumpkin seed oil-ricotta ravioli, poached quail egg and a drizzled of more pumpkin seed oil(why yes, we do like pumpkin seed oil. I can’t imagine my life without it). There was also a very pretty terrine for a cold entrée, but I ate it before I remembered I could take some pictures, it was just too good.

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making of Potica

Ps: For all of my Slovenian speaking readers, here is the recipe I wrote down while observing my grandma Julka while making potica. For all of you who don’t understand it, it’s basically a list of ingredients with instructions like: “do that by feeling. You can either cook that, or not. Mix with a wooden spoon.”

500g moke, zlicka soli, 100g putra, mleka na oko 3 deci, 2 celi jajci. Puter stopis v mleku, pol das jajca. S kuhlo mesas. Pol mesis. Raste da se podvoji. Namazes. Das v model. Prepikas s spilo. Raste se pol ure- da zraste za eno tretjino. Fila: pol cukra, pol orehov, rum, limonina lupinica. Polijes z vrelim mlekom. Rumenjak. Tu malo tak. 40 dek orehov. Lahko kuhas.

A walk in a graveyard

I think we’ve already established that I’m not a very talented photographer. But that does not stop me from taking pictures (with a mobile phone, ofcourse) of extremely cool places and thinking they’re awesome enough to be published on my blog.

Walking

Today was a perfect December day. It was sunny and surprisingly warm. We went to Dalston for a family photo shooting (one of our new neighbour friends is a photographer and he needed some portrait subjects. I think this might be the start of Ari’s modelling career). We were late, so the whole thing lasted only 20 minutes and then we were completely free. We decided to just walk around a little and explore some new areas. On that walk we discovered the Abney Park Cemetery.

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I’m always surprised when I visit a nonslovenian cemetery. All cemeteries in Slovenia I ever visited are the same- everything is tidy, most graves have an abundance of flowers and candles on them and everything is square. Trees only grow around the margins and all the paths are covered with small white pebbles. As you can imagine, they are pretty boring and (therefore) never ever used as parks. Because of that I still find the concept of jogging in a cemetery or walking your dog there (off the leash) a bit weird. But in a good way, I guess?

 The walk today felt pretty much like a walk in a film set. The light was perfect and the scenery gorgeous. I tried capturing it with the phone, but you have to have at least above average abilities to capture the beauty of the headstones crowded in-between huge old trees and covered with ivy. But I did my best:)

 

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Afterwards we went to the Chatsworth Road Christmas Market and it was very nice too. I’ll take some crappy pictures and write something about that next week:)