Friday, 26 May 2017

DIY Mosaic Flower Pots


During the cold and snowy spring season I have been making plans for my balcony. I have made lists of what needs a bit DIY, how to put flowers and what kind of small decorations I am going to make. This week I thought is was time to start the summer and balcony season. Five days ago ice finally floated away from the river and even though the weather is still exceptionally cold grass is getting green little by little. Last year about this time I planted my balcony flowers and it was nice and warm. Now I cannot think about buying flowers yet, it has been so cold that I am afraid plants could get frost bitten. Still I wanted to someway get projects started so that when the great warm weathers arrive my balcony will be ready for relaxing. On February I made this mosaic wall art and I did´t need all the material I had prepared for that project. Back then I thought that it might be fun to decorate few old flower pots with mosaic. I have decorated two terracotta flower pots maybe 10 years ago and I still use those pots! This kind of both practical and beautiful garden decorations are a classic. Now lets start with the how to make mosaic flower pots!



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Mosaic Flower Pots

You will need:

-Terracotta flower pot(s)
-Broken china or pottery
-Grout and water

-Hammer
-Plastic spatula (you can use old silicon spatula from kitchen or cut your own from ice cream box plastic)
-Plastic cups like ice cream boxes
-Sponge
-Safety glasses, earmuffs and gloves


Step 1. I went through my old flower pots and brushed off the mould and other dirt. If needed wash the pots and let dry properly before starting to make the mosaic.
Step 2. Hammer the broken china and pottery to smaller pieces. I prefer to put the object in to a fabric bag, roll in to a towel and then hammer on a cutting board. Safety glasses, earmuffs and gloves are needed!
Step 3. Mix the grout as told on the package.




Step 4. Use a plastic spatula to spread some grout on the pot and press pieces of china and pottery to it. Leave approximately 0,4 cm between the pieces. Cover the whole area you want to decorate with mosaic and let dry for 12-24 hours.



Step 5. Mix slightly more running grout. Use plastic spatula to fill in all the holes between china and pottery pieces.


Step 6. Let the grout dry about 15-30 minutes (depends on how dry and warm the work space is) or until the grout does not stick in to fingers. Take sponge and water and wipe the extra grout off so that the china and pottery pieces get polished. Let dry properly. Polish gently if needed.




Collection of new unique mosaic flower pots waiting for summer flowers! I wanted to make my flower pots as colorful as possible but you can use just few colors if you like.

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My theme for the balcony is colorful camping. I have had that red 70's table a few years now (bought it from thrift shop), it still looks like new even though the color is original. Chairs are on my list of projects, they will get a color that matches the table´s style. I am also going to make a decor to the railing out of old retro souvenir pennants that I found from thrift shop. Hope that when I get all projects finished it will be real summer. 

How are your balcony or terrace plans? Have you already put the flowers?

Happy Weekend to you all!

Sannu

Monday, 22 May 2017

Quilting Project News and Tips


Those who have followed me on Instagram and Twitter might have seen pictures of my latest quilting project. Today I thought I would like to share pictures and inspiration here on my blog. You know how I love bright colors and this year´s quilting project is no exception. In this project colors are a bit lighter which has to do with spring and need of green summery hues. Pattern is traditional quilting pattern and makes very different design depending on how big squares you use as a starting point. With bigger squares it makes a star and with smaller squares ikat style pattern. I used quite small squares 15 cm * 15 cm. As the seams are 0,75 cm which is the normal seam allowance, 15 cm was the minimum (for me) with so many seams. I will show the basic technique how to make this block plus two ways to make it easier to quilt blocks.


In this project I am making 54 blocks and quilting project tracker is a good way to follow the progress and manage the project. I don´t have a special room where I can spread the blocks and leave there so that I am storing my blocks in a pile and it is easy to lose count on which ones have already been made. In this tracker every tile means one block. When the block has been made I use the background color to mark the block done. I am also planning to sew braids to frame the blocks. Now I am in the halfway making the blocks.


Here you can see some of the 15 cm*15 cm squares that are the starting point for the blocks.


Matching the right colors together so that the pattern will work best. Orange and lots of green is the basis of this quilt. Pink and raspberry red make the other colors sweeter. Light blue freshens the look. 


Blocks in different phases. Magazines are great for organizing the pieces so that it is possible to cut more blocks at one time. 


Beautiful buttons I found from a thrift shop. The moment I saw these I thought maybe I could use these to decorate my quilt.


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How to make this block:
1. You will need four 15 cm * 15 cm squares in two colors (2+2).
2. Take one square in color a and one in color b, put the right sides together and draw a line from corner to corner (see picture). Sew from both sides with 0,75 cm seam allowance. Cut the pieces apart and open the two colored square. Iron the seam well.


3. Now you got 4 two colored squares. Point is that these squares are the four sectors that make the star. You cut the square in four stripes and reorganize the stripes to get zig zag shape. It is a good idea to draw a quilt block board like mine so that it is easier to cut the stripes right.  You will have to choose which color makes the star and which one is the background. Then place the square to the corner of the sector you are making to get the direction right.


4. Measure the square and divide it to four equal stripes. I had about 3,3-3,5 stripes.  Then reorganize the stripes to the block board and sew long sides together first the 8 on the one side and then the 8 on the other side. Iron the seams well and sew the two pieces together. Iron well.


Here you are able to see the the different phases. You can use these blocks in blankets, decorative pillows or for example in a summer bag.

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I have still got lots to do but when quilting it is about the journey not the finish line. It is nice to make a few blocks every now and then. I take the time to make as neat as possible. Sometimes I listen to audio books or radio at the same time. After getting block done it is relaxing to color a tile from the tracker. Real feel good craft project. Last year I made two blankets because I love having a quilting project to work with. It grows patience to make something that is not ready in few hours or days. Every new project has been more challenging than the one before. Internet and books are full of traditional patterns everyone can learn and use in their projects. Study first how the block is done and then just experiment. Even though the same patterns have been used for centuries quilts are modern looking when you choose the colors you prefer, make the design in different size and place the blocks in a different way. 

Inspiring Week and Spring Sunshine where ever you are reading this!

Sannu

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Ikat Inspired Lamp Makeover with Paint

Table lamps are a big trend again. I have seen many different lampshades and lamps in stylish modern interiors when surfing in the internet home decor pages and browsing latest magazines. I love the multiple range of color, pattern, size and form. There is no single shape but many ways to take part to this trend. One can also collect many different lams to one space, no need to have pairs if it is not you. I remember small cozy lamps from my childhood that spread warm light to the home. Now table lamps have been on the background for at least 15 years. Thrift shops used to sell these very cheap as just a few wanted to have a small and kitschy lamp to their home.  Now the hunt has begun for these little home decor pieces and prices have risen at least in this part of the world. One reason might be that quite few home decor shops or stores have a large collection of table lamps. Industrial and ultra modern functional trends made these kind of items vanish. To get in to the trend as soon as possible one can try global shops that sell online or go though ones one storage/ local thrift shop and give a small makeover that updates 80s - 90s style to 2017. Lamp that I am using is a thrift store find. The white color makes it work well with my other table lamp that is the same color. I also used paint colors that I already have in my home decor.


Here you can see the before after. I just painted the old and a bit worn out lampshade which made the whole look different. Best thing is that one can choose the colors that match best to ones personal style so there is no need to compromise. I used plain acrylic lacquer paint that is sold in craft stores. It attaches to the fabric well and there is no need to heat it like fabric colors. If you would use a fabric color you should first paint the fabric, iron it and then cover the shade with the fabric.  Now I got to paint directly to the shade. This way the shade is not water resistant but how often do you wash a lampshade? I use always light bulbs that don´t heat so there is no need to think about how the paint reacts with heat.

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Ikat Inspired Lamp Makeover with Paint

You will need

-A lamp with a light colored lampshade
-Ruler and angle ruler
-Pen
-Small brush
-Old ad paper or other left over piece of paper
-Strong white paper
-Acrylic lacquer paint in three colors


Step 1. Cover the lampshade with scrap paper.


Step 2. Cut of the extras so that the scrap paper models the lampshade. Remove the scrap paper model from the lampshade.


Step 3. Use the model to draw the lampshade to the white paper.


Step 4. Measure from the lampshade how you want to start the pattern (angle). Use seam on the lampshade as a starting point so it is easy to design the pattern in a wanted way.


Step 5. When you have the first line you can draw the other lines that go to the same direction by taking 2-3 measurements from the line horizontally and using these marks as guides to draw the next line (in my lampshade I made lines every 4 cm). Make lines until you have covered the whole lampshade. Then make the lines to other direction by taking the angle from the end of the paper and then taking the same angle to the other direction (in my work the angle was 60 degrees). This is how you get the first line to other direction. Then make the lines taking measurements horizontally and drawing the lines using measurements as a guideline.


Step 6. Make lines stronger with black marker. Cut out the model.


Step 7. Tape the model under the lampshade and light the lamp. Now you can see the guidelines through the fabric. Draw the lines to the fabric.


Step 8. Lines on the fabric.


Step 9. Time to paint the pattern. Go trough the lines with paint and make Ikat pattern with a brush move from line to center. 


Step 10. Almost all patterns done with the first paint.


Step 11. Time to use second paint and make the middle pattern. See how I first sketched with paint before painting the whole pattern.


Step 12. The golden finish. Follow the pen lines that can be seen through the lighter paint layers and make the grid visible with golden paint. 

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Yesterday I began to use BuJo. After some weeks of studying the technique I finally had the courage to try it myself. It is a wonderful way to manage creative work and evaluate how you want to spend your free time. I have got goals to read more, eat healthy, do sports and be more active with my blog. Yesterday I spent easily hours drawing my bujo and organizing my activities for following weeks. I already feel more organized and motivated to achieve my personal goals.  As I was super enthusiastic about this I shared some pictures from my first bujo pages on instagram and twitter, go and look if you are interested, links on side banner!

If you liked this post and found it useful please share on social media! I would also like to hear about you and connect with you on social media!

Happy Thursday to you all!

Sannu

Friday, 12 May 2017

Quinoa and Veggie Stuffed Courgettes

Happy Friday! Today I made these tasty stuffed courgettes and now I want to share this easy recipe with you. Stuffed courgettes are a healthy treat for the end of the week and perfect for enjoying the evening with good food. Somehow I think stuffed courgettes are luxury even though the ingredients are affordable and it is relatively simple to prepare these. These would also be perfect for a spring or summer buffet as it is easy to make bigger amounts if needed. 


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Quinoa and Veggie Stuffed Courgettes:

1,5, dl quinoa
3 medium size courgettes
1 paprika
1 carrot
1 onion
100 g cherry tomatoes
0,5 dl fresh basil
2 garlic cloves
0,5 dl Kalamata olives
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Vegetarian oil
Feta cheese


Step 1. Cook the quinoa as told on the package. Mince the onion, paprika and carrot. Slice the cherry tomatoes. 


Step 2. Split the courgettes in two. Carve out the inside. Place the courgettes on a baking tray.

Step 3. Sweat the onion, paprika and carrot with oil on a frying pan. Add in the tomatoes and contents from courgettes. Let cook until the veggies are a bit soft.


Step 4. Mix together veggies, quinoa, chopped olives, minced basil and garlic, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Stuff the courgettes and bake in a preheated oven in 200 Celsius degrees until the courgette covers become softer. Serve with crumbled feta cheese. 

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Today I prepared 3 courgettes and my plan is to have a home evening with a good book. I love to read and I make lots of must read lists. For the past two years I have been reading less that I would like to because I have felt that I don´t have time. To be frank to myself time is not the main reason why I haven´t read that much. I have also had difficulties to slow down and concentrate. Especially more challenging books need time to open. Minute every now and then is not enough for me to soak in to the book´s world. Instead of just listing must read good books I have decided to take action and read 100 pages every day. It is a good amount to get in to reading mood and now that I have been following this rule for few days I have read actually more that 100 pages per day. Evening is the best time for me and I have taken the reading time from telly time. It is a great pleasure to read interesting classics and new books with current topics. Books give a lot to think about and it is always fun to be able to take part to book conversations. Now I have been reading A S Byatt´s Possession. A Romance and Margaret Atwood´s The Handmaid´s Tale. The Handmade´s Tale is now also as series. I haven´t seen it yet but it made me curious to read this book from 1985 to learn why is it so current. Maybe I will watch the series afterwards, the cast is amazing!

Have a Wonderful and relaxing weekend!

Sannu

Monday, 8 May 2017

Mission Possible 800 g Veggies Per Day


Have you heard about a research made by scientists from Imperial College London that suggests we should be eating even more veggies and fruits that just 500 g per day? Here is how the Guardian wrote about the subject. According to this study proper amount would be 800 g per day to get the maximal benefits. First I learned about this research on Finnish television program Prisma Studio where they talked about the study and tested eating 800 g veggies per day. As a vegetarian my attitude towards veggies and plant based products is positive. About 90 % of the food I eat is plant based but of course not all that food is plain veggies. I eat a lot of grains, meat substitutes, tofu and beans. This is why I wanted to examine how much veggies I am already eating and give a try how difficult it is to achieve that 800 g from veggies and fruits. So decided to take 800 g per day challenge for the first week of May. First I had to begin with the amount, how much is actually 800 g? I decided to weight my veggies to have a better clue to what kind of amount we are talking about.  I wrote down the amounts and some of my thoughts during the week. It is easy to estimate the daily amount a bit over and when I thought about my daily meals I found out that I could definitely eat more. 
Note that I am only listing the meals that include veggies, so this was not all that I have been eating!


For example my breakfast is usually oatmeal porridge, soy yogurt, coffee with oat milk and juice. All is plant based but there is no veggies or fruits. To get this fixed I replaced the yogurt with 100 g berries and added 100 g carrot bites.  This was easy and delicious way to get 200 g of the daily 800g. 

1.5. Day One


800 g veggies does not have to be raw but on the first day I chose to make a salad. I had a plan to eat a green salad as a lunch and then something cooked as a dinner. Usually I eat just one main meal per day and it is some grain or potato with sauce or veggie patties. I do add veggies to sauces, casseroles or what ever it is that I am preparing but to achieve 800 g the amounts would be too small. Also I would have to eat for example potato and vegetarian sausage sauce quite a pile to get enough veggies. Simple food plate model that advises how you should compose the plate with potato/ grain, sauce and salad is excellent. Here are some inspirational food pyramids from all over the world listed by HUFFPOST. Here you can see the Finnish dietary guidelines.

On the first day I sort of divided the food plate eating my salad first and the other side of the plate (tofu) with veggies later. When I weighted my salad I saw that I am doing a bit over. I thought 800 g is a massive amount when actually it is not. Green salad does not weight much, so if you choose to eat just that for your 800 g you will have a tough time. I combined grapes, paprika, avocado, cucumber and tomatoes in my salad and eating little bit of this and that made it easy to achieve 575 g.  I felt that eating plain green veggies made me quite energetic and I didn´t feel too full after the lunch. Still I decided it would make sense to divide the veggies to every meal and snack instead of eating all at once in a salad.


In the evening I fried some tofu and courgette slices. I also ate chopped cauliflower for snack.

960 g was the amount of veggies for the first day because I was maybe too eager to achieve the 800 g.  I was quite hungry between the meals because veggies seem to melt quite quickly and I was not prepared to that. It would have been a good idea to have some healthy snack in the fridge for these kind of occasions when you are hungry but preparing food takes time. Even on the first day it was clear that when I plan the meals it is easy to achieve the daily goal.


2.5. Day Two


On the second day I ate a snack between breakfast and lunch. I mashed an avocado to a rye bread and added some tomatoes and cauliflower chops. 


Spicy chickpeas, spelt, grated carrot, tomato, cucumber and onion. As an evening snack I ate fruits. 

On second day I achieved 856 g veggies and fruit and managed to divide the veggies to different snacks and meals instead of over eating on one meal. I noticed that is is easy to add veggies when you prepare the food yourself. Sometimes when I am hungry I might choose a ready meal from store. Most of those meals have quite a little veggies and are packed with potato or pasta. What comes to snacks it is easy to chop cauliflower, carrot or turnip and eat one or two pieces every now and then. In my childhood these were called veggie or root bites and they were common in my home and school lunch. I wonder where do these kind of good habits vanish when you grow older. 

3.5. Day Three


 I had spicy chickpeas and spelt left in the fridge so I mixed them and ate with a salad.


Evening snack was rye bread with sauerkraut, paprika, turnip & cauliflower chops. 

I was surprised when I counted 954 g for this day. It seems that by eating various veggies it is easier to collect a big amount. My evening snack turnip and cauliflower chops weighted 226 g so that was an easy extra for the day. Best thing is that by eating different veggies you get the best benefits as you can see from the study I linked. I don´t know if it is just a coincidence but when I started eating more veggies I have become more productive and it feels like my brain is working better. I have a need to go outdoors and move all the time. Even though weighting and taking pictures from every veggie meal takes time I have managed to do it. All in all I have got lots of tasks done and I have got more plans for the following weeks than I usually do.

4.5. Day Four


Lunch salad with warm fried courgette slices. Below rye bread pizzettas. I also ate some fruit. I achieved 803 g veggies that day.


On fourth day I had more ideas on what to cook and eat to get more vegetables to my diet. At the same time I felt that it took maybe a bit more time to prepare the food. I have a habit of eating just one main meal and lots of snacks. With my veggie challenge on I had to keep proper mealtimes and cook real food. Keeping lunchtimes is actually a very good thing because one of my bad habits is eating chocolate, daily. Now when I have practiced mealtimes I have noticed that eating real, healthy food regularly has kept me away from candy department more often. I don´t have as much cravings for candy as I usually have. HEUREKA! You might add :D Stomach full of real food takes your mind off from thinking what should I want next. I do have to say that taking this 800 g veggies challenge my intention was not to lose weight and I don´t own a scale. I was curious and my point was purely to test how it is to eat this much veggies every day and if is it possible in real life.

5.5. Day Five


This lunch is a good example on how to combine ready meal and home made salad. Vegetarian tortilla is from store and makes a basic light green salad more like a lunch.


Dinner veggies with cheese and tortellini. 

On fifth day I ate 851 g veggies and it came quite without any special effort. It began to feel like a routine and I had so much energy that I thought about keeping the habit of eating more veggies. At least I haven´t heard about any negative effects that veggies could have. More research is needed about exactly how much veggies we should be eating in the future. In the meanwhile this could be a good diet for me. After the challenge week I won´t be using a scale to weight my veggies. Instead of that I am using the experience I got and try to remember the right amounts and routines to add veggies to every meal.

6.5. Day Six


On sixth day I prepared a salad and ate with the tortellini leftovers. I also made same kind of rye bread pizzettas as on the day four.  I achieved 834 g veggies. 

Shopping real food and good ingredients is the key for success. I tend to buy too little veggies compared to other cooking ingredients. On challenge week I decided to buy bigger amounts of veggies so that it was easy to prepare food and take a snack from the fridge. Instead of one package of cherry tomatoes I bought two, instead of one small courgette I bought 3. I also took two different salads, other veggies and fruit. This meant a heavy shopping bag on a way home but it has felt inspiring to open the fridge and see all beautiful and colorful veggies.

7.5. Day Seven


Spinach courgette pancakes and spelt salad.

On the final seventh day I ate 889 g veggies. The first week with new routine was a learning process. I needed to see how much is actually 800 g instead of just guessing if I eat a proper amount. I learned that even though my diet is 90% plant based it could include more fruits and veggies. During the week I ate green veggies more than usual and got used to that. In the future I would like to keep eating more salad and lunch salad could be a good way. To eat this much every day needs a plan and rhythm. I noticed that good old mealtimes are great invention that I want to follow more precisely in the future. I am also considering to prepare snacks and salad to the fridge for those moments when I am super hungry and feel like going for old habits of skipping meals and eating candy.

Have you tested how much veggies you eat? Are you as keen as I am to learn about new studies and improve your life?

Have a good start for the new week!

Sannu