Bullet journal

My bullet journal indexing

Today I want to talk to you about indexing. Do you have an index in your bullet journal? Have you felt disappointed from it? Have you thought of not using an index? Well that was me! But let’s start from the beginning.

The index consists one of the basic components of a bullet journal according to Ryder Caroll. Popular notebooks for bullet journalling, such as Leuchtturm, even if they are not pre-printed, they include a section about indexing by default. It is really the contexts of your notebook.

The most common way of indexing is as books have them: the topics one under the other one by order of appearance in the notebook. As we usually number our pages, the first page filled is recorded first, the second is recorded next, and so on.

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The index from my first bullet journal

After using this way of indexing for a couple of notebooks, I decided that I don’t like it. It didn’t really help me find the pages easily. In a bullet journal pages are not usually grouped according to topic. This way of indexing is just recording the chronological order of when things are written. As you can see above, my monthly pages were in pages 15, 18, 41 and 67. I happened to use this journal in order to plan my wedding, so the only way I had to group the pages were to try to note all the pages that considered this topic next to each other. I even tried using colours, but space is limited and the index gets messy…

At the end of last year, I was planning the starting of the new year and of my new bullet journal. And I was contemplating of not having an index at all! But then I got an idea!

Have you seen books that have a register in the back? They usually group the contents according to alphabetic order. Well, alphabetic order would not have been useful for me, but why not group my index according to topic?

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In my case, instead of leaving a couple of pages totally empty in the beginning, so as to keep a list of the contents of my journal, I gave titles to the pages, according to what I usually note in my journal: Collections, Monthly, Projects and Recipes. So now, whenever I write a page, I register it in the appropriate page or column and not just all together.

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I think I have finally found the best way of Indexing for me! I love that I can find easily that recipe I noted in the middle of February! Or the project that I created I don’t remember well, was it May or June?

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Of course there is the risk that the the space I left empty would not be enough. Already since May I encountered the problem, that I underestimated the Monthly index. You can notice in the picture of Index 2 that the page I had dedicated got filled within half a year! This is a problem in general with bullet journal when you try to plan too much ahead!

I have the luxury with my Filofax Clipbook A5 to add pages wherever I want, so at least it did solve that problem by adding another page at the end of my whole Index, naming it Index 2a. Unfortunately, I can’t number this page correctly and in general, I am not sure I like it like this, having another Monthly index after the Recipes and Projects. I might decide to rewrite the whole Index pages again, in the close future. Or I might adjust my predictions of pages needed in the 2019 bullet journal. Who knows…

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Travelling

Swimming in the Rhine!

There is something common between the two countries I have spent the last almost ten years of my life, the Netherlands and Switzerland: the Rhine. The Rhine starts in Switzerland, somewhere up in the Alps in the canton of Graubünden, and finishes in the Netherlands, going into the North Sea. And now that we live close to Basel, we go for a walk along the Rhine quite often.

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The view from the Mittlere Brücke Monday last week!

Monday last week we were once again for a walk and shopping in Basel and the weather was so nice that we decided to take the walkway right next to the Rhine. As we were approaching the centre of Basel from the north, we started noticing people floating in the Rhine holding colourful floating bags. It looked so funny! The closer to the centre and the Mittlere Brücke, we were seeing more and more heads and more and more colours! It was an absolutely brilliant sight!

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A closer look to the previous photo. You can notice the small human dots in the river! They are uncountable!

As my Swiss husband explained, it is common in Basel to swim downstream the Rhine. It has nothing to do with normal swimming, where you leave your clothes outside at a point, go into the water and swim for a while back and forth and then you exit at about the same point and retrieve your clothes. The Rhine is a river with currents, so you enter at a point and the currents take you down to another point. As a result, you have to take your clothes with you. So the Swiss invented the Wickelfish!

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Our two wickelfish

The Wickelfish is a watertight bag, resembling a fish. You put your dry clothes and belongings in it, you roll the opening of the bag (seven times according to the instructions), leaving the air inside. The Wickelfish floats thanks to the trapped air and doesn’t allow water to enter thanks to the tight wrapping.

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The wickelfish ready for swimming!

Once you are finished with the packing, you enter the river together with your bag. There is a designated area where swimming is allowed, and you can enter at any point within this area. Of course it makes sense to enter as much upstream as possible. And then the fun part starts!

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The official map of the swimming area. We are allowed to swim in the green areas (Source: SLRG)

Definitely, there are a lot of precautions that the municipality and the authorities insist on, so that swimming the Rhine remains fun. I list only the most important for me:

  • You should pay attention that the strap for hanging the wickelfish around you is connected to the end that has the velcro, as this will open by itself if there is tension on it (as for example if the bag gets tangled with a buoy or something).
  • The wickelfish makes it easier for ships to spot the people swimming, thanks to its bright colour. Nevertheless, swimming is only allowed in an area close to the shore. There are police boats patrolling all along the swimming area.
  • It is important to note, that the wickelfish is not a floating aid. You should be able to swim in order to enter the Rhine, as there is no lifeguard. The use of inflatable swimming aids is not allowed and you can get fined if the police sees you using any of them.
  • It is recommended not to go alone for swimming. It is also recommended to go with somebody that knows the swimming area.

After learning all this information, we checked the weather for the following day and we decided to try it for ourselves. How was our experience? Well, incredibly fun!

We were lucky that we joined a few colleagues of my husband that have been living in Basel for years and knew all the small secrets, such as where is easier to enter and exit because of the stones at the shore. Now we know these secrets too! In addition, thanks to the warm days we have had, the water temperature was recorded to be around 24 C, so quite warm.

Concerning the last point in the above list, I should note that it is not difficult to see where the swimming area starts. There are so many people swimming downstream the Rhine! And the ages of the swimmers we saw varied incredibly: from youngsters that were trying to ride the buoys (don’t try to do it, as you might get a fine), to old ladies that were enjoying a leisurely swim! In addition, the closer to the shore, the slower the currents of the river. Equivalently, the further to the middle of the river, the stronger the currents and the faster the swimming.

You might get the impression that you just lie in the water and the currents bring you down. Well, that is not true! Firstly we are talking about sweet water and not salty, so there is little buoyancy. So you do need to know how to float and keep yourself up in the water. True you don’t have to swim actively to move downstream, but we all had to help ourselves, so as to stay a team and head where we really wanted and not where the water takes you. The swimming area includes several obstacles, such as bridge piers and buoys, so it is important to avoid them.

Last Tuesday that we tried it ourselves, the water level was a bit low thanks to the really warm summer we have had, so the speed of the current was slower too. We entered at the earliest possible point, close to the Tinguely Museum and exited close to the lowest point, after the Johanniterbrücke. It took us about an hour to swim this distance, which was so surprising. But it was incredibly fun!

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Our swimming route

Such a pity we didn’t try it earlier! If the weather remains good still, we are definitely going to do it again! After all now we know the secrets and have our wickelfish.

Crochet

Crocheted girl’s coat

I have a beautiful godchild, Zafeiria, who is now about 2.5 years old. Unfortunately, I do not get the chance to see her too often, but she is always on my mind. In June she was celebrating her nameday and in May, I thought of making something nice for her. By luck, a really good friend was visiting me about the time I was looking for something and we both agreed that a particular pattern by Majovel crochet, named Girl’s coat, was so cute!

The pattern of Girl’s coat is for free. Majovel crochet has everything in Spanish and unfortunately it is a language I haven’t learnt yet, but she has several videos in Youtube, probably machine translated to english. The girl’s coat can be found in the this link.

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A picture from Majovel’s girl coat

Three colours are used for the coat. The original example is white, dark purple and black as you can see in the photo above, but I decided that white is not a good choice for a 2.5- year old child. Besides, personally I like vibrant and happy colours, so I decided instead of white to use my absolutely favourite Stylecraft Special DK – Matador (1010). I combined that with Stylecraft Special DK – Burgund (1035) and Stylecraft Special DK – Black (1002).

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The three Stylecraft Special DK colours I used

Stylecraft Special DK is a soft and of good quality acrylic yarn, that is not very expensive, but has proved to me that it behaves well when washed, without losing colour or deteriorating. My example is Lukas, who is as old as my godchild and has travelled all around the world with us.

The hook I used in order to achieve the measurements I wanted was size 3.50 mm. I used my also absolutely favourite Clover Amour (3.50 mm) . I have explained which hooks I used in a previous post.

Concerning the girl’s coat, it was the first time I had to follow a youtube video instead of a written pattern. I have to admit that I prefer written patterns, even if videos are more explanatory. I had to have my tablet always within reach and turn the video back and forth all the time. All these made working a bit uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, Majovel has done a brilliant work of explaining everything clearly and nicely, so following her pattern was not difficult at all. Most of the pattern consists of double crochets. The coat consists of four pieces: a hood, two sleeves and the body of the coat. Additionally, it has two ears and a bow knot. The body of the coat is worked from top to bottom.

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The coat I made from the back!

Being a bit more experienced in crochet, I rarely follow the counting of the stitches that the pattern suggests. What is important for me, is the length and width I should achieve. Majovel suggests that for a 3-year old the initial chain should be 32 cm, the first part 16 cm long and the skirt 27 cm long. The equivalent for a 4-year old is initial chain 33 cm, first part 18 cm long and skirt 30 cm long.  I wanted to make a coat somewhere in between these measurements, so that Zafeiria would wear it for two autumns.

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The coat from the front

In total, in my case, the body of the coat was 20 rows the top part before the skirt and the skirt itself 20 rows red, 8 burgundy and 5 black. The sleeves were 14 rows red, 8 burgundy and 5 black, and the hood 25 rows. The ears and bow knot were two incredibly sweet details, that I enjoyed adding to the coat! And to make it a bit more special, I searched a bit for the buttons I would use and I found some really funny purplish elephants!

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Detail from the coat

I finished the coat on time for Zafeiria’s nameday that is on the 11th June. But by then we had entered the turmoil of moving houses and I neglected sending it a bit. I hope my godchild was still happy to receive it even with a bit of a delay! She looks nice in it, no?

Zafiria

 

Cooking

Making elderberry jam

This is a big day! Finally after almost two months I am writing again from the desktop computer! I am almost finished with unpacking and setting up our new home, so today I finally have time to tell you about the new jam we made in the beginning of August!

Remember in May that we made elderberry flower syrup and jam? Especially the jam was such a success! Everybody around liked it quite a lot. It has a light refreshing and not too sweet taste.

After a really nice and quite warm summer, the rest of the flowers we did not cut to make syrup or jam have turned to nice dark coloured berries. So last Sunday my mother-in-law suggested we make some elderberry jam!

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Look at the nice dark red to black colour the berries have!

The procedure is quite easy. First we collected a satisfactory amount of berries. They need to be dark coloured, which means they are ripe and ready for the jam. Unfortunately they can’t be eaten raw, as they are a bit sour.

Then we removed the berries from the small stems they hang from. This was the most tedious part of the preparation, but with the help of a fork the work is easier done. And don’t worry about some small stems or unmature berries.

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Removing the berries from the stems
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All the berries in the pot. Even if there are a few not totally mature inside, it doesn’t destroy the taste of the jam. And don’t worry if a few small stems are also inside.

Once we had all the berries collected in the pot we were ready to start with the jam. They need to be boiled with water, so as to give their juice. The volume of water added is half the weight of the berries. So in our case we had 1.4kg berries and we boiled them with 750ml water. Let the water boil until the berrie burst, then turn the heat off and let it cool down.

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Let the berries boil and turn off the heat. The liquid has a really nice red colour!

The next step involves putting the juice and berries through a sieve so that only the liquid is collected. This is exactly why it was not important to remove absolutely every small stem. It should be noted though, that you should not press the berries in the sieve so as to collect more. That would just result in making the final jam bitter. The berries have given what juice is to be used for the jam while bursting from boiling.

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Extract only the juice without pressing the berries. Attention as it might be quite hot, as in our case.

And finally the last step of the jam: We have to boil the juice together with jam sugar. For 5dl elderberry juice we need 300g jam sugar. We first add half of the sugar with the juice and boil it for 2 minutes, then we add the other half of the sugar and boil another 2 minutes. Gentle mixing is important during all this procedure.

The jam is ready when once you pour a small quantity on a clean plate and let it cool for a moment, it is viscous enough to hold the plate vertical and the jam to run down really slowly, as we did in the elderberry flower jam.

In the meanwhile the jars were washed with hot water and they are filled with the warm jam, while they are still warm themselves, and turned around so that that they close air-tightly.

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The jars filled with the warm jam and turned around so as to get sealed airtight

By now we have tried it and it is really nice too! It has a bit heavier taste than the flowers, comparable to any other berry jam. It has been such a successful year for homemade jam production!