December 2, 2015

December 2nd

Remember how pleased I was about firing the kiln in yesterday's post? Well, I must have done something wrong because when I went to unload the kiln today, I discovered that I had lost about 85% of the pieces inside.... Whoops! This means that I have to adapt my schedule for the last few weeks of school, and hopefully my students will be flexible. I showed the mess to one student this morning who said, "That's ok. I didn't really like my pot anyway. I'd like to do it over again." I love that positive attitude. 

The kids are a bit bonkers this time of year and it's normal. They have a lot of work because grades are due, and they are excited/ready for the holiday break. That means more tests and projects for them, and art class is no exception. Today we did something a little bit different to get them out of their comfort zone. I think it went over well, but I still have to read their reflections. 

I get this question a lot, "is it good?" I cringe when I hear it. I want my students to understand that each of us have our own unique aesthetic and point of view. I can't answer questions like, "is it good? Is this enough?" etc. They need to start using their own judgement. I hope that art class will give them the tools to judge for themselves. We played a game of chance with dice and mark making cards. They had no idea what they were going to create when they came in the classroom. I thought some of their work was pretty good. I should write about it more in depth at a later time. Hopefully, later this week after I repeat the activity again with another class.  

She likes to tickle and hug me. It's the cutest thing ever!
I'm really lucky that I work part-time. In many ways it's hard, but it's wonderful to be home with my daughter.  This afternoon was no exception. We listened to Christmas music, made a mushroom and leek quiche, and did a few loads of laundry. I fell asleep in her room tonight, I've been staying up late trying to be productive. Obviously, this schedule doesn't really work and it caught up with me.

I'll end with some photos from our laundry excursion. Oddly enough, I didn't take any photos of the room itself. Oh well.
Tryck på knappen! (Push the button!)
This is the que system to use the laundry. One moves the lock, which represents the apartment, to an open time slot. When I first saw it/used it, I found it bizarre. Now, I find it to be a pretty good system.
Her tiny socks make me so happy. 

December 1, 2015

December 1st

This morning I woke up with a strong desire to document my days. I don't know why... Maybe it's because I'm getting older, maybe it has to do with having a child, maybe it's this creative itch that has been nagging me. Even though I teach art, it's been so difficult to find time to create for myself. I should be grading projects right now, and I'll get to that in a minute...

I figured out how to work a Swedish kiln! In all honesty, I did get the temperature speed wrong because of Fahrenheit/ Celsius confusion.
Normally I don't work on Tuesdays, but it's crunch time at school with projects and grades. So, the first order of the day was to unload and load a bisque ware kiln. There were only two casualties in the kiln. I kept telling my students not to leave the clay too thick, and to be sure to wedge the air bubbles out. At least it's a teachable moment, but I hope the two owners of the pots aren't too disappointed. 

I took Ann-Sofi to our Tuesday play/singing group in the old neighborhood where we used to live. The kids were able to make a special craft today. After the group, we went to our old apartment to pick up a few things that we've been missing. We're in temporary digs for a few weeks because we had a mold situation in the old place. Hopefully, it will be finished and sorted out soon. However, it seems as if they are still drying the damp walls. 
Isn't it beautiful? It's a tea light holder. 
Even in the dark days, this little lady brings the sunshine. 
I had an appointment in town today, so while Ann-Sofi slept I lunched and took the opportunity to Christmas and window shop. 
Don't judge. 
I just discovered Knapp-Carlsson, a shop in town that sells so many buttons and sewing notions.
After button shopping, second-hand shopping, and grocery shopping, we came home and stayed busy with class preparations for tomorrow and cooking dinner. 
Mark making cards in the making for tomorrow's chance activity...
Tonight's menu: Brussels sprouts (1 kilo for 10 SEK!), torsk (cod) and carrot soup (1 kilo for 10 SEK!) 10 SEK = ($1.15 USD, or €1)
Here she is eating Brussels sprouts! I think it's because she was loving using a big fork.
Don't be fooled by this photo though, most of the meal was on the floor.
Also, Dado (papa) cut her hair. I'm used to it now. 
 Now it's time to say good night. I have a cup of Texas pecan coffee here and a portfolio full of drawings to be graded and commented on. Ugh....  Signing off for tonight... 


May 1, 2015

8 Years

Pretty sky + pretty blossoms.
No filter.
Eight years ago I set up real estate over here on the internet. This space is still mine, and occasionally I still visit. I'm in a very different place in my life now than I was when I started Skirt Project. It would be fun to compare, but I am in bed typing this on my ipad with my seven-and-a-half month daughter sleeping next to me. How times have changed! I hope to write that post soon. 

I've thought about it, and my reasons for writing this blog today are different than the reason I started this blog eight years ago. I still have too much crap, but I have even more experiences to share. Today I wear pants daily, but I still own a few skirts. In fact, I still have many of the original 60(!). Sixty skirts! But skirts were never the main focus of this story, at least that's how I feel.

Eight years later, I am most proud that my personal creed of "Give, Love, Create," is still the same. And, I find it funny that I am still "Last-Minute Lydia."  Though it's harder to get to these days, this blog is still here waiting for me to pick up wherever I last left off, and that's a nice feeling. That's why I like this space so much. 

Today I want to celebrate this space before it becomes tomorrow. Sometimes you just have to DO IT! (My newest personal creed). I want to GIVE thanks for this blog and the creative outlet it has given me in the past. I LOVE writing and sharing my experiences. I want to CREATE my own path in life, and find the joy in the every day experience of living life. 

The cherry blossom picture is just a placeholder for now. It was taken in the yard of a school down the street from where I live here in Göteborg, Sweden. It's still cold here, but since a few weeks ago spring has definitely sprung! 

March 1, 2015

Today in Pictures

It's March 1st! 
I woke up to snow, and this mess... 
This jumbled creative mess represents my mind these days.
This is a milk frother, and it's the reason I happily got out of bed this morning.  I purchased it yesterday. 
Hello café au laits and chai lattes!
I also purchased this clothes shaver. 
It's the little things. 
I love snagging up all of the little fuzz balls on my sweaters. I no longer have to be embarrassed by all of the annoying piling on my sweaters, I can now wear them in confidence! 

 I am really enjoying this book I am reading.

Lately, I have been in the mood to purge. It could be because my baby will soon be mobile. I can already feel a shift in my thought process and attitude toward clutter and tidying up - something I have never been good at. 

I was inspired by yellow and green today. 

This is my colorful compost bag.

And, these are tulips from my husband. 
We celebrated our sort-of third anniversary today, because our official anniversary is every four years. 

Did you know David Hasselhof had his own talk show in Sweden? 
An hour of my life totally wasted. 
I caught the first episode today. David Hasselhof asks his guests, "Why are you famous?"  

I was able to play around with some stamps, scissors and scraps of paper today. 

There is so much I want to create and make, but my time is so limited, because... 
She tasted gröt (oat porridge) for the first time today. We need some practice with the spoon.

In like a lion, I'm excited about March!

September 13, 2014

She's a Traveling Girl

She's made a lot of stops all over the world,
And in every part I own the heart,                 
Of at least one lovely girl.                               

I've taken some liberties with Ricky Nelson's 'Travelin' Man' lyrics, but it's true. This little girl has been so many places in the past 10 months!
Dallas, Texas - December 2013
Maastricht, The Netherlands - January 2014
Gothenburg, Sweden - March 2014
Giverny, France  - April 2014
Fontainebleau, France - April 2014
Paris, France -twice - April and May 2014
Badenweiler, Germany - April 2014
Village-Neuf, France and Basel, Switzerland - April 2014
Madrid, Spain - June 2014
London, England - July 2014
Rattvik, Sweden - July 2014
Come on, baby! Oh, the places we'll go!

September 11, 2014

Taking Stock

This list was making the rounds on blogs a few months ago. I thought it was neat, and thought I would play along. A lot of the answers are the same... just wanted to make sure I accurately captured the moment and what is on my mind these hours.
Jon's delicious meal for us tonight. Compliments to the chef!
Making : the baby’s mobile

Cooking : egg sandwiches for lunch

Drinking : lots of of water

Reading : the latest issue of Flow International.

Wanting : this baby to come soon

Looking : into getting some paperwork from Belgium

Playing : Words with Friends and Solitaire on my iPhone

Wasting : an enormous amount of time this way

Sewing : nothing at the moment

Wishing : this baby would come soon!

Enjoying : having my loving in-laws here

Waiting : for Jon to finish cooking dinner for us

Liking : this awesome weather in Göteborg

Wondering : if drinking a cup of raspberry leaf tea will do the trick?

Lovingthis cute stuffed animal I saw in Haga today.

Hoping : this baby comes soon!

Marvelling : at my body and this baby still growing inside.

Needing : a pedicure in a major way.

Smelling : fresh lemons from the kitchen.

Wearing : non-maternity clothes - yoga pants, tank top and a comfy shall style cardigan.

Following : my friends on Facebook and Instagram.

Noticing : the days getting shorter.

Knowing : this baby has to come out eventually.

Thinking : this baby has to come out eventually.

Feeling : grateful for family and friends, near and far.

Listening : to  Rock the Boat by the Hues Corporation. (This song was in my head when I woke up this morning?)  

Opening : the door to the washing machine - more tiny clothes to wash!

Giggling : at funny stories of when Jon was a baby.

Feeling : happy today.

List source, here.

September 10, 2014

The Tenth

Jon and I have two wedding dates that we celebrate - February 29th and June 10th. Our civil ceremony occurred on the 29th of February, 2012, and our wedding celebration occurred on June 10th, 2012. For obvious reasons, we celebrate our June 10th wedding anniversary every year. This year we celebrated two years of wedded bliss - though it seems like a lifetime... and I mean that in the very best way possible. I can't imagine life without or before Jon.

The traditional gift for the second anniversary is cotton, and this year I wanted to make a handmade gift. This year was a bit special because we have a baby on the way. By some twist of fate my homemade 'cotton' gift for Jon was really for the baby, and Jon's gift to me was a very cute cotton dress - also for the baby. I guess a baby does change everything.

I first visited Göteborg this past March, when Jon started his PhD program. I spent 10 days, getting to know the city and country. One thing that I knew I wanted to do was visit an IKEA. I wanted to see if it was different to visit an IKEA in its' homeland.
As it turns out, it was the same, same, same. With the exception of the desserts in the cafeteria - there's a much bigger selection here, and the meatballs - no Swedish flags on the plates, oh! and the fabric selection - slightly bigger than any other IKEAs I've been to in the United States or Belgium.
I picked up two packs of FINURLIG, basically a package of 50 pre-cut squares of scrap fabric for 29 kroner (about 4 US dollars). I chose a pack with a predominate colour scheme of black and white, which I hear is really good for newborn baby's development. Then, I returned to Belgium and promptly forgot about it all. By the time June rolled around, I was feeling the pressure to make a gift for our anniversary and also to get the house packed up. I thought a quilt would make a perfect gift for our 2nd cotton anniversary. My only problem was that I had never made a quilt before. How hard could it be?
It wasn't that hard, because I didn't expect it to be perfect and I made the most simple quilt I could. I figured out some kinks in my IKEA sewing machine, and just kind of went with it. I carefully placed the pieces where I wanted them and sewed horizontal rows. After the rows were finished, I pressed the seams open and tried my best to match them as I sewed the rows together to create the quilt top. I bought batting and sandwiched it between the quilt top and the boldest polka-dot fabric I could find at IKEA to keep the design and fabric weight consistent. Finally, I sewed the bias tape along the edges by machine, and then tacked each square corner with a brightly coloured thread. 

Et voilà: an 2nd anniversary quilt for the baby.
From start to finish this quilt took a total of three days, but there was one more touch I wanted to add... the date. 
June 10th, 2014

This date is now embroidered on my baby's quilt. It's the date of our second wedding anniversary. It's also the day my brother Daniel suffered a brain aneurysm, from which he died three days later. 

Today, my baby girl is 11 days past her due date. It's been three months to the day since Daniel's aneurysm occurred. I'm feeling fine physically, but emotionally... that's another story. This has been the most painful and difficult experience of my life. The impending dates of the 10th and the 13th are a trigger for me, and these past few days I have felt more sad and lonely than I have since Daniel's death. It could be the extra hormones,  the anxious anticipation of my baby's birth, I don't know. What I do know is the sadness I feel. 

I am sad that our daughter won't know how awesome her uncle was.
I am sad that he isn't here to make me laugh or check up on me, like I know he would. 
I am sad that he isn't here for this major event in our lives.
I am sad for the void that I feel, the extreme sense of loss. 

I was hoping that our daughter would be born by now to take the pain of the 10th away. Maybe she will be born on the 13th? Any day would be a good day. We are patiently waiting for her, as she will bring so much love and light to our family. 

September 9, 2014

Our Adorable Attic Apartment in Leuven

I thought I would share some pictures of our last apartment in Leuven. It was so charming and cute. It was a two story attic space in a building that had been constructed in the 1720's. What I will remember most about that apartment is the way it would rattle when a big delivery truck would drive through the narrow cobble stone street it faced. Our apartment was in the middle of Leuven, literally in het hart van de stad, in the heart of the city. We lived next door to a grocery store which was very convenient. Convenient and expensive, I might add. The ground floor of our building was a private medical practice, another convenience - especially during my pregnancy. My doctors were my neighbours and they were so kind and thoughtful.
Here are some photos of this really unique space. Most of these photos are panoramas taken by Jon.
This was our main living space, the space that we walked into when we entered the apartment. The beams are original to the building and were held together with wooden pegs. It frames the original roof of the building, but has now been extended. Everything else to the right side of the beams was added to the building at a later date. Our apartment came furnished except for a few pieces, which we sold before moving to Sweden. This is the view from behind the futon.
One would think that an attic space wouldn't get so much light during the day, but it was never too dark - even in the winter.
This is a more realistic shot of the space. The kitchen is directly behind the futon. The stairs lead up to the guest loft and deck. The door to the immediate left of the futon is the door to the toilet and shower. (During my time in Europe, I've learned not to say bathroom especially when there is no bath involved.) And, the door that is behind the beam to the left is a tiny little entry way (that did not get photographed), where we kept our umbrellas, jackets and cycling stuff.
This is a view of our kitchen. Because Leuven is a student town, most apartments don't come with an oven or a full-size refrigerator. We purchased the combi-oven (microwave and convection oven) when we moved in and it literally changed my life. We made our first Thanksgiving dinner in that oven and I baked numerous cupcakes and quiches. It was awesome and we have it here with us in Sweden. The full-size fridge with a freezer was a bonus too, though it's pretty small compared to US standards.
This is the view from the bar/prep area in the kitchen. We had just had a party the weekend before and the orange and yellow pom-poms were part of our festive decor. The stairs were pretty steep and there was only the thin railing that led up to the guest loft/office upstairs.
I loved hosting guests and it was so nice to provide a private space for them. Jon would often work up here taking advantage of the huge window and sunlight that streamed in. In front of the desk is a door which leads to the pièce de résistance - la terrasse. 
What a view! We didn't enjoy it as much as we should have, but we did manage to have drinks out there a few times and even dinners outside. The best was when the church bells would chime and the almost weekly carillon concerts. We were able to see fireworks, but one of the best experiences was listening to the wave of voices and cheers the first night that Belgian won a World Cup game. I've never heard anything like it. It was intense!
This is our 'bathroom' which is so spacious, especially in comparison to our bathroom now. It only had a shower, another feature typical of most apartments in Leuven. I loved the black and white décor and also those glass shelves next to the toilet. 
Finally, the last room, my favourite room - my bedroom. It was so light and airy, and my bed was so comfy. I absolutely loved it and spent many lazy mornings there. Our bed was huge for European standards, and the built in wardrobes were awesome. We had three, a total luxury that we took full advantage of. The shelf system on the right provided tons of storage - which is a blessing and a curse, especially if one is a paper hoarder like me. 

That was apartment living in Leuven for 2013 - 2014!