I have a lot of catching up to do. Sadly, for various reasons, my blog came really short in 2016 and early 2017. It is part of my New Year’s Resolution to change that. So first of all I would like to catch up with all the things I had planned to post about after mid-October but didn’t get around to.
October was by far the busiest month—and the one where I did the most in the entire year. It is always a particularly busy month since there is both Halloween and the beginning of a new semester coming up at the end of it.
A lot of things came short last year. Luckily, Halloween (for a change) wasn’t one of them. There were a lot more things that I wanted to do for Halloween, but at the end, I’m pretty happy about what I did get done:
Halloween Party Planning
Very much in advance, I thoroughly planned the food for my Halloween party and the Halloween dinner. Much more elaborate than usual. I typically collect the recipes and ideas in my Traveler’s Notebook with pen and paper. That’s very helpful, but also a bit chaotic at times, and since I’m not so good at drawing, I can only remember from my vague sketches what it was supposed to look like.
This time, I thought it would be cool to do the planning on the computer and compose a little booklet with all the recipes. Good for preparing—as I would have it all handy. Good for grocery shopping—as I would have all the ingredients lists already adapted and standing out. Good for keeping—as it would all be neatly typed up and could be reused easily. And also good for posting about it—since I’d have all the ideas and information as well as links and sources already all in one place.
I loved it! Definitely something I will do again for this year’s Halloween planning. Maybe even for other planning as well, if time allows it…
Sleeping Ghost Pillow
I’ve been fascinated with Halloween pillows for a while. The first one that I actually made was this adorably cute Sleeping Ghost Pillow. Definitely something that will find its place on my couch—not just during the Halloween season. 🙂
Halloween Skeleton Brownies
Scary and yummy both at the same time were the Skeleton Brownies I made to get in the mood for the season…
My Halloween Costume
While I’m quite resourceful to turn pieces of clothing that we have in the house into fun Halloween costumes, I hardly ever spend much time on them since I focus on the food more. One year I grabbed a pajama, an old bathrobe and a towel and went as a female Arthur Dent (for those who are unfamiliar with that name: Arthur is the main character in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). I loved how one connoisseur walked into the room and exclaimed “YELLOW!” 🙂
I also normally shy away from buying costumes or parts of costumes because, more often than not, you end up wearing them only once—despite the fact that you tell yourself otherwise while you are buying them. In the end, you’ll always find it boring to wear the same thing again the next year.
But this time, my new-found enthusiasm for sewing led me to actually sew something for my costume this Halloween and get some accessories to add to it. I wasn’t planning to in the beginning, but then I ran into this lovely Halloween fabric at a local fabric fair and I just had to do it.
The plan was to make a loose-fitting skirt that would keep as much of the fabric intact as possible. The idea to use a very simple cut turned out to be a very good idea in the end since the fabric proved to be one extremely hard to work with. I’m so glad I had help with that one. We ended up basically sewing a tube and attaching two shoulder straps to hold the thing in place.
Still, I very much liked the look of it. The fabric is sooo cool! Wearing black beneath the skirt, the colors come out really well…
To go along with it, I found a black-haired wig and a 1920s hair accessory with a long, black feather at a costume store, both quite inexpensive. Now I just have to think of a way to wear that again sometime so the work and the money aren’t wasted…
Since I didn’t want the dress to be too long, there even remained one relatively large piece that my lovely expert helper turned into a scarf for me as a present. I didn’t wear it for Halloween because that would have been too much, but I’ll for sure find some occasion next October to be wearing that—a lot… 🙂 I love it so much!
Since I was hosting a Halloween party for the first time in 2016 and had only decorated a little bit for myself before (my guy isn’t into decoration that much anyway), I decided I had to stock up on decoration for the occasion—big time. I both bought a couple of things—which is not so easy here since Halloween is still not that popular around these parts (Thank you, Amazon, for helping where our local stores missed out!!) and made a couple of things myself.
I’ll show you more details of how I made these and of what else I got in a later post, but here’s a first impression of the things I made:
A bloody picture frame
An “Enter if you Dare” sign for the front door
Some spooky silhouettes
And some hanging ghosts
… which, frankly, I was not that happy with…
New Recipe(s) of the Month
I tried out A LOT new recipes for Halloween, so I think that counts. 🙂
They’ll get their own post as well, but here are some first impressions:
Halloween Doodle Challenge
I created my own Halloween doodle challenge this year. As you might remember, I was indecisive whether to use the square grid or the freestyle in a notebook version. I eventually went for the square grid because I decided I couldn’t handle more space timewise anyway. I was right, I didn’t even finish this one, but I for sure will.
Discovery: Halloween Google Doodle Game
I think it was October 30th where Google put out their Halloween 2016 Doodle, which turned out to be a little game that you could play. It even has a little background story and a couple of levels.
Ingenious and super cute! And a lot of fun! I love the Google doodles anyway, but they went really creative with this one. You can play it on a computer, but since you have to draw shapes, it works much better on a mobile device.
I’m usually not into computer games that much, not because I don’t like them but because I like doing various other things way more. But I liked that one because it is fun and quick to play. I still occasionally play it when I have some minutes to spare.
Big thumbs up from me! Really cool!
Sewing Christmas Gift Bags
To gradually reduce the need for paper gift wrapping, I started sewing a couple of Christmas gift bags with beautiful Christmas fabrics in November and December. I would have liked to get a few more done, but it’s a good start…
Drawing books for adults have been a thing for a while, I’ve heard. You can now get them basically everywhere. And after I had bought a couple of coloring pens for the doodle challenges anyway, in November I thought I’d give it a try.
I like it, it’s really relaxing and fun. It’s something for the times when I’m too stressed out or too tired to do something creative where I would have to think or do a lot but would like to do something creative anyway.
And honestly, this is really not that simple. It requires a lot of skill and feeling for colors to get good results.
Poster for Reading
I’ve been in one and the same writing group for several years now and we’ve organized a couple literary readings before. This year, though, was the first time where the poster for the reading was not done by the organization hosting the event but where we had to provide our own.
I layouted it with InDesign and it wasn’t really as difficult as I thought. I’m starting to get a hang of that program, which I’m pretty happy about because I don’t really find these programs intuitive to use. They all liked it, so I’m happy with it as well.
Bread Baking Course
I’ve been trying to make my own bread for a while—with only moderate success so far.
So I decided to finally take a bread baking course with a professional baker. It was really helpful and a lot of fun. He had a lot of great tips for us and we tried a large variety of different kinds of doughs from baguette to whole-grain bread to Franzbrötchen.
Now I only have to find the time to try this at home … 🙂
My biggest problem is getting the right temperature and humidity for letting the dough rise. It’s mostly either too cold here or if I turn up the heating, the air gets too dry. And it quickly gets too hot for the dough so that the yeast dies. I’ll have to figure that out somehow.
New recipe: Pork medallions in metaxa sauce au gratin
While actually looking for a good Greek bifteki recipe (which I haven’t tried yet), I found this pork medallions in metaxa sauce recipe, which I tried first because it was quicker. It turned out to be really good. For sure something we’ll make again! 🙂
Iron-On Picture on Bag
I’ve seen these at craft fairs before and loved them, but never tried this out. I see so many great things at these fairs but always think that I just can’t do everything that looks cool.
This year I couldn’t resist. You can iron them on different things. Mostly they have T-shirts and bags. I didn’t need a T-shirt, but bags are always useful. So I got one bag and two iron-on images. I thought I’d put one on either side; but when I actually got around to it, I thought one side with an image was enough.
But you can’t have enough bags anyway, they mysteriously find some use or another, so I’ll just get a second one the next time.
It’s not so hard. They come with very easy and clear instructions. However, it’s also not so easy. You have to apply the right amount of heat to the right places.
A good thing if you need a bag for yourself or as a present and would like to spice it up with a pretty image. It’s quick and easy to do and yet pretty and more personal and adaptable to one’s taste than what you can buy in a store.
And you don’t need anything except the bag, the image, an iron and ironing board. The latter two most people will have at home anyway, so you don’t need to buy any expensive tools that you have to store away.
Recycling wine boxes as glass storage
Since I couldn’t get a proper box to store my glasses, I had the idea to upcycle an old wine box. Works perfectly, and was much better than the boxes I saw in the shops…
New Recipe: Gingerbread Crescent Rolls
I found this recipe in a magazine and had to try it. I adapted it a little bit by filling them with chocolate and leaving out the nuts you were supposed to sprinkle on top. With the gingerbread flavor, they are great for Christmas time. But they taste great throughout the year, of course. 🙂
Decorating for Christmas came quite late in 2016, especially since it didn’t really feel like winter yet. The weather was cold and rainy. No snow, no sun. With that weather and everything else, it just felt kinda wrong to decorate for Christmas already. It didn’t feel like Christmas either.
I only decorated shortly before the holidays, but of course I still enjoyed it a lot. I love all the candles and Christmas lights. 🙂
New Year’s Reflections and Resolution
The only post I managed after mid-October was my New Creative Year 2017 post. That’s always an important time of reflection and re-orientation for me before the new year starts. I find that really helpful to see what I have accomplished, where I’m going, and where I would like to go. And if I’m still on the right track. Of course it doesn’t have to be done only at the end of the year, but for me the time always seems fitting.