Bullet journal · Crochet

Keeping track of my projects in my Bullet Journal

I use my bullet journal for several things. I started it in order to track the organisation of my wedding and the million of appointments I had to arrange for that, while having a tight working schedule. Last year I used it as a travelling notebook. This year I use it for organising all the aspects of my strangely arranged life.

One of these aspects is the fact that I am a crafter: I like crocheting and from time to time I try other things too. With my skills by now, I am doing modifications in patterns I use, so as to fit my individual needs. But this means that if I don’t note down the modifications somewhere, I will probably never be able to reproduce the same thing I created. I was keeping a notebook with small patterns I have created myself, but when I was making modifications of an existing pattern, things were starting to get confusing.

I use pinterest for ideas and inspiration. And I saw a nice idea of a page that I could modify to use for my crochet creations (I am sorry I have no idea who created it first, so as to give credit to).

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Example of my notes for the scarf I made for myself

In the first photo you can see the notes I did for the scarf I created for myself. I don’t rewrite the pattern I use. I just note the changes that I made or things that I think would be essential to remember if I try to make it again.

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Another example of the notes for fingerless gloves

In the second example, it is my notes for the fingerless gloves I made. As you may have seen, I made two pairs. I kept notes only for the first pair and I used them when I made the second one. In case I had made further modifications I would have created a new page and make a note for linking it with this one.

I like this page template: it is simple and flexible. It summarises the basic materials and has plenty of space for notes. I can modify the spaces needed according to the project I am making. I have a more consistent way of keeping notes for my projects and this way I am able to understand my notes several months after I did them. Isn’t it amazing?

For the time being, I create the page for each project once I am starting it and I insert it as it comes in the flow of my bullet journal. I have to admit though, that probably this is not the best way of saving my projects for later. I will see how it goes with this year, but I keep it in the back of my mind, that I will probably have to create a second type of bullet journal for only my crafts. I have avoided keeping two or three bullet journals, but if my crafting becomes “more professional”, I think I will have to take this part out of my everyday bullet journal.

Bullet journal

Organising house seeking through bullet journal

We are in a period of turmoil, as we are moving once again (the sixth time in eight years!). The past month we have been looking for a house in the new town we are planning to live in.

The past two times we moved without huge problems, to houses that we loved. Unfortunately, this time the decision is not so easy. We are leaving a really beautiful area and a house that really feels like home and we have not fallen in love with any of the houses we have seen in the new town. But time is getting close and it is better for us to take a decision, and everything is so confusing and so unclear…

And at this point my nice red bullet journal turns to be so useful! I decided to make a list of the houses we are visiting, note the basic information about them and leave space for our thoughts and notes.

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Well, it is not exactly a bullet journal thing, but more like a list of comparing the different offers and noting the pros and cons. If I didn’t have a bullet journal I might still have ended up doing a list of the houses on a random piece of paper. I remember keeping track of the houses we were viewing when we were moving from one town in North Holland to another one in a random notebook I had around. But now I don’t need a random notebook. I have my bullet journal. It just demonstrates the different ways a bullet journal proves to be useful in my life!

Bullet journal

Running task list

Are you using your bullet journal to organise your task per day or per week? Has it happened to you that you are not sure how long a task will take or when exactly it has to be done?

Well, it happens to me from time to time, especially when I am on a business trip or travelling back home (that means Greece) to solve bureaucratic matters. In such cases I know what needs to be done during a given period of time and I can try to plan ahead when these tasks will be fulfilled, but I have no way of knowing if they will finish or not on one or more days. During my last trip home I was looking for something to fit my needs of planning. I had seen the idea of a running task list, as it is called, and I grabbed the opportunity to try it out!

A running task list is an alternative to the standard daily or weekly layout in a bullet journal. It is simple to set up, by having two main columns: one for the tasks and one for the period of interest. The column of the days is split in as many sub-columns as the days you want to plan ahead. If a task is assigned on one day, I create a box on this day. If I know it would be handled on several days, I create boxes on all the days concerned. Once the task is done I fill the boxes. If the task is not to be handled on a particular day, I left the column of that day empty. If the task was transferred to another day (it happens with bureaucratic matters…) I made arrows to the days it was transferred. It also happened that one of my plans was cancelled, so I crossed that box.

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For example, I decided to make my nails. On the 20th I called the girl and she gave me an appointment for the 24th. Another example is the bureaucratic matter of unsubscribing from my insurance. I passed from the office on Friday 20th, but the matter was not solved and I had to pass again on the Monday and Tuesday.

You don’t really have to use arrows or anything in particular. You can use your own way of notation.

As you understand, the running task list helps in not writing again and again the same tasks, if they occur on several days. It is a compact way of planning a particular period.  I have seen people using it for their weekly planning. I have to admit that I loved the flexibility and the overview it gave me for my trip back home.

 

 

Cooking

Making elderberry syrup and jam

I am a total city child. I grew up in a city of 5 million inhabitants. This means I gained in several matters, mainly cultural, but I lost in others, like contact with nature.

One of the main advantages of our moving to Switzerland is living closer to my mother-in-law. We have a really nice relationship and I get to know more about nature. I can now recognise many herbs myself! And I am getting close to distinguishing the berries among them (they used to be a total mess in my mind before meeting my husband).

Spring is around and the flowers are blooming. Last week the weather was mostly rainy and not good enough to do anything in the garden, but on Friday the sun was shining again. It was the appropriate day to head towards the beautifully blooming tree that my mother-in-law introduced as holunder (sambucus or elderberry in english).

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The elderberry tree

As every year, it was time to make elderberry syrup (well the first time for me). The recipe is pretty easy: 15 to 20 bunches of flowers, 3 lemons in slices and syrup. For the syrup we boiled 3 lt water, 2 kg sugar and 60 g citric acid and once everything was homogenised, we let it cool down a bit and added it to the jars that contained the flowers and lemons. In one of the jars we added a few leaves of lemon balm (zitronenmelisse in german), so as to try it. Then we stored the jars in a warm and sunny place. They will have to stay for 5 days and then our elderberry syrup (holundersirup in german) will be ready!

 

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The jars with the elderberry flowers and the lemon slices ready to receive the syrup once it is cooled down
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Our elderberry syrup is getting ready

Since our tree had so nice flowers, my mother-in-law suggested we try making elderberry flower jam. We collected about 25 bunches of the small nice flowers and added to them 1.2 lt boiling water. We then let them soak for at least 6 hours.

 

After 6 hours we filtered the liquid that had turned yellowish. The recipe underlined that we should try the liquid and if it is bitter, it should be discarded.

 

Fortunately, ours was not, so we added the juice of two limes and half a kilo of jam sugar and brought it to boil. Once it boiled for 2 minutes, we added another half a kilo jam sugar and let it boil for another 2 minutes.

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To check if it is ready, we dropped a small quantity on a plate and once it cooled down a bit it should be viscous.

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This is how we tried if our jam was ready

We filled our jars, added nice little labels and let them cool down, so that it becomes viscous.

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And yesterday in the morning we had a nice Sunday breakfast with zopf and our own homemade holunderblüten gelee (yes this is how we call the elderberry flower jam here!).

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Perfect Sunday breakfast

 

Books

Books I read in April

We are in the middle of May and I think it is time to make my mash-up for the books I read in April.

There are months that I read a lot and fast and months that I am slow, I find the books tiring or I am just too busy to read. April belongs rather to the first category.

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In the beginning of the month I read two books of Umberto Eco. I think The Name of the Rose is his most famous book. I had read it several years ago, while I was still in school. While browsing though the two shelves of my library where I keep my to-be-read, I saw a small book named Postscript to the Name of the Rose. Combining the two books resulted in getting a different grasp of the medieval detective story of Eco.

The characters of the Rose are so nicely exposed and described, that the reader can understand the inner thoughts of them and why the Abbot or Brother William behave the way they do. The story escalates with each day and each crime and the different stories are so nicely set in order to confuse the reader exactly as William is confused. Adso’s innocence is so obvious! By the way, Brother William is one of my favourite detective characters! I was just disappointed by the edition of the book I was reading (Vintage from Penguin), as there are so many passages in Latin that are not translated for the rest of the world who doesn’t speak this dead language. I am pretty sure that in the older Greek version I had read, the editor had included translations.

The rest of the month I read rather disappointing books: the Second Life by S.J. Watson and The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon 3) by Dan Brown. It seems both these authors share similarities. They both had a good start, Dan Brown with the Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon 1) and The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon 2), and S.J. Watson with Before I Go To Sleep. But both the books I read were disappointing.

In Second Life none of the characters are likable. The story involves adultery, internet dating, threats, murder, blackmail and it ends without ending… What I mean is that the end is inconclusive. We have no idea what happened. There is no clue about what decision Julia, the main character in the book, took.

The Lost Symbol was boring. It should have been entitled The Boring Symbol. Once again conspiracy theories, a secretive fraternal organisation (Freemasonry in this book), and a big city (Washington D.C.). Somebody tries to become the absolute evil and our hero Robert Langdon tries to solve the mystery, but fails in grasping the full picture. Dan Brown tries to follow the same recipe as the previous books in order to produce another best seller, but results in a boring book, with a stupid and uninteresting ending in the mystery. Honestly I have Origin (Robert Langdon 5) already in my hands from a friend, but I am not sure I will even give it a try…

I think I won’t read any more books of either Dan Brown or Watson. After these books, probably you won’t be surprised if I tell you that in May I haven’t read a lot…

Travelling

Säntis

During this week a very dear friend of ours from the Netherlands is visiting us in our home in Switzerland. Having visitors is a really nice opportunity to do activities in the country you are living. And since we are living in an area with mountains belonging to the Alps and she is living in the flattest country of Europe, one of the first activities we did was to go up on the most prominent peak of our area, the Säntis.

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View from the Säntis

Säntis is a peak 2502 metres above sea level and is shared by three cantons (it would be more correct to say one canton, Saint Gallen, and two semi cantons, Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden). It is a peak with high prominence, offering impressive summit views, at least when the weather allows it!

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From time to time we could see further down to the valleys

There is a myth connected with Säntis and how nicely spread the villages are around Appenzellerland. Once upon a time there was a giant called Santis or Samtis. He used to live in the area of Schwendibachtal and he was carrying his food in a huge bag made of a thousand goat skins and a hundred bear skins sewed together. He liked so much the numerous cute small houses that were built close to each other in small bunches, and the small people that were running around, that one day he decided he wanted to take some with him, so as to play with them at his ease. He grabbed with his huge hand a few villages with all their people and animals and put them in his bag. A courageous farmer, who noticed the movement of the grass, managed to jump and hide inside a ditch. When the huge hand passed over him, he sprang out, extended his hands as far as he could and sliced the rucksack at its bottom with his scythe. The giant that was used to crazy movements around him, did not pay attention to anything, but threw his bag on his shoulder and started happily towards his house. As he was ascending the mountain his bag was going back and forth and houses were falling all over from the slit. Once he reached his favourite bench, the Alpsigel, he sat down and noticed the loss. Irritated he emptied the remaining houses at his feet and disappeared never to be seen again.

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Yesterday, it was not an absolutely clear day. There were several clouds around the summit, so we couldn’t see all of the grandiose views to the six countries around: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein and of course Switzerland. We did manage to get a glimpse of almost all the mountains around in between intervals of the clouds and we succeeded in teaching to our friend the names of the most amazing mountains in Switzerland, according to our subjective point of view: the Churfirsten.

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We even managed to get a glimpse of the Churfirsten from the Säntis
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This is how the Churfirsten look from our side

Despite the clouds, the visit was amazing. There was a mystery surrounding the peaks around us and our friend was totally happy seeing the tall mountains! And there was a surprise in the gondola that transferred us up and down!

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The small cow was checking who was entering the gondola
Travelling

Athens

I have decided to write a series of posts about the towns or cities that I have lived in and which hold a special place in my heart. So it feels only right to start from my hometown: Athens.

Athens, or Athina as we call it, is the capital of Greece. I grew up there and although I haven’t been living there for the last eight years, I still can’t see it as a tourist. It will always be home for me.

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The Acropolis in the evening

I think it is a privilege to grow up and live in a city that has recorded history that spans over 3,400 years. Of course the most famous site of Athens is its Acropolis. Yes I have been on the Acropolis, I can remember at least 5 times, and I have walked past it, had a coffee under it or  just looked at it uncountable times.

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The Acropolis as it is seen from the exit of Thisseio metro station

Athens is known as “the glorious city” (κλεινόν άστυ in greek). It is surrounded by three mountains (Parnitha to the north, Hymettus to the east and Penrelicus to the northeast) and the sea. From my parents’ home I have a nice view of the mountain of Parnitha, which is located to the north of the city.

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The view from my parents’ home

My parents home is not in the centre of the city, but it is about a quarter away on the old metro line (depicted green on the metro maps) that was inaugurated in 1869. It is a special metro line, as it is mostly at ground level and not underground. This metro line connects the northern suburb of Kifissia with the port of Piraeus, crossing through the centre of Athens with stations such as Omonia, Monastiraki and Thisseio in the heart of the historic centre. The first two stations are underground and the lines come outside the tunnel between Monastiraki and Thisseio. At this part we are travelling among ruins and the beautiful Stoa of Attalus that was built in the period 159 – 138 BC.

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Stoa of Attalus and the metro lines underneath

As I mentioned I can’t see Athens as a tourist. During my last stay there two weeks ago, I crossed several times in front of the National Archaeological Museum and the Polytechnio (the Technical University) or the National Library and the University of Athens, all beautiful neoclassic buildings, but I don’t feel like making photos of them as a tourist would do… These photos you can easily find in the internet. I can just try to show you the city I love and the clean blue sky that covers it!

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Sunset from my home

 

 

Puzzles

Corsair

As I mentioned in my post Puzzle: Heaven – Hell, at my home we enjoy puzzling. It is more than a month since we completed the previous one and two days ago I got in mood of puzzling again!

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We have several puzzles at home, but one of them was still in its box unopened. It is entitled Corsair, it has in total 1000 pieces and it is from Heye. That’s the one I chose!

As Heaven and Hell (the puzzle we finished last time), Corsair is a comic drawing with small sketchy humans and several funny small incidents. Corsair is about a sea battle involving two big ships with soldiers wearing red uniforms of the Georgian British era and one smaller belonging to pirates. The pirates are attacking the two ships and stealing the treasure boxes. The whole picture is completed by the contemporary aspect of a beach, with bikinis and even oil!

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Digging to hide your treasure and finding oil!

We found this puzzle a bit challenging, as there are several sails and more uniform characters. Nevertheless it took us only two days to complete it and we did enjoy it!

Look at the funny details of the kitten pirate, the pirate being shot with a pie and the pirates in love!

The photos of the details are taken from the poster that accompanies the puzzle.

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Water skiing and treasure stealing

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Crochet

Scarf with Tunisian crochet

During April I made a scarf using a different crochet technique: Tunisian crochet.

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Tunisian or Afghan crochet looks like a mixture of crochet and knitting. There are special hooks for it that are elongated or with long tails. For short projects (with few starting chains) even normal hooks can be used.

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My Tunisian crochet hooks

In Tunisian crochet we start as normal with as many chains as our project needs, but we continue not with single crochets but by putting the hook through the chain, chain over and hold the loop on the hook. At the end of the row, our hook looks the same way a knitting needle looks. To complete the row, at the end of the first pass we chain and then chain again and pass through the first loop on the hook, which is then released. This procedure is repeated until there is only one loop left on the hook. One row of tunisian crochet is completed this way.

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1. After creating the initial chain, we insert the hook, roll over and hold the chains created on the hook.
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2. This is how it looks at the end of the first row.

 

 

 

 

 

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3. Then we insert the hook not on top of the stitch but at the front side loop of it, we roll over and hold the chain created on our hook.
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4. This is how it looks when we have reached the other edge.

 

 

 

 

 

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5. The second row completed, according to the basic tunisian crochet stitch.

Tunisian crochet can create looks similar to knitting.

For my scarf I followed a pattern I found in the “Simply haken” magazine of December 2014/January 2015, a dutch magazine for crochet. It is a pattern using two ways of tunisian crochet: the basic stitch and the knit stitch. The neck part is done with the knit stitch and the rest with the basic stitch creating squares. The squares are growing in size gradually, by increasing the hook used from size 6.00mm up to 10.0mm. The total loops on the hook are not too many, as a result I did not always use my long tailed tunisian hooks, but I could use my normal aluminium hooks. The ergonomic ones I usually use for crocheting do not have enough space so as to hold the loops needed.

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The yarn I used is from the Siena line of Wolle Rödel in Kirsch (cherry) colour. It is a supersoft yarn of 100% virgin wool.

The created scarf has a nice dense texture especially at the neck part and a beautiful and elegant texture at the squares. As you can see in the first picture it is something between a scarf and an afghan, falling nicely over my shoulders.