Happy New Year!

Happy 2012 everyone! I had a lovely, quiet New Years Eve with Keith this year. We cooked dinner and watched the fireworks over Stockholm. Perfect after a very busy Christmas!

If anyone would like to celebrate the new year by doing a bit of embroidery, I thought I'd remind you of the New Year Embroidery Sampler I designed a few years ago. The numbers on it still say 2009 of course, but that could easily be changed. Perfect if your New Years resolution happens to be learning a few new embroidery stitches!


Several people found the time to try my sampler design back in 2009, the above image is from the (now dormant) blog Potluck Crafters. If you decide to make your own 2012 version, I would love to see it!

Creative Christmas Packaging

Happy Holidays everyone! Today (the 24th) we celebrate Christmas here in Sweden. I know that for my overseas readers it's still a day early, so I thought I'd post some last-minute gift wrapping inspiration.


I love wrapping presents in simple brown paper, but it does feel a bit plain if you don't add some color! Last week I made these tags/ornaments for my gifts, inspired by Helena at Craft and Creativity. They are made of air-dry clay, stamped with regular rubber stamps. I think they do much to brighten up my gifts!


Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Christmas Cracker Tutorial

D'oh! I forgot to mention to you all that I had a guest post published over at the Pickled Herring a few days ago! Kathryn approached me several weeks ago asking if I would like to contribute to her "Scandinavian Christmas" blog series. Of course I was thrilled!


I contributed a tutorial for these very traditional Swedish Christmas ornaments. They are similar to British Christmas crackers, but less noisy and much simpler to make. We don't have a tree this year, but I hung the ornaments of a door handle for good measure:


If you'd like to make some ornaments of your own, head over here to read my tutorial!

Homemade Cinnamon Toffee

Hope you are all excited for the holidays to start! I am leaving for my mothers' today, and we will be celebrating Christmas in her cottage in the country. Before I leave, I wanted to share a recipe for some x-mas treats I made the other day - simple and tasty! The original recipe (in Swedish) can be found here, but I went ahead and translated for my non-Swedish readers! Here goes:


Cinnamon Toffee Recipe

Ingredients:
100 g (3,5 oz or roughly ½ cup) butter
2 dl (roughly 1 cup) granulated sugar
1 dl (roughly ½ cup) pale treacle
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tbsp all purpose flour

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil for about 5 minutes.
Pour the (very hot) toffee onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Allow to cool in the refrigerator, then cut into pieces using a sharp knife.
Store in the refrigerator, wrapped in parchment paper or cellophane.


These are my toffees before I wrapped them in parchment paper to give away. The recipe is supposed to make around 40 pieces, but of course that depends how large you make them. Beware, though - they are very sweet! Small pieces are best.

Patchworking

How is it December already?? We had the first snow in Stockholm yesterday - and though it melted within minutes, it was still a nice feeling. I've been doing quite a bit of Christmas crafting lately, but nothing I can show yet unfortunately! I have too many family mambers following my blog... So I thought I'd show you another little gift I made for Liv.


It's a patchwork ball, completely hand sewn using a great tutorial posted by iHanna. I've been following Hanna's blog for ages, and finally got round to making this. Hand sewing is really relaxing, and this ball is a great project even if you haven't done much hand sewing before.


I made two different balls for two different babies, and put a couple of little bells inside for added fun. It's the perfect size for throwing around - Keith has already asked me to make one for him, too!


Stockholm is great this time of year - all the Christmas lights, hanging out in cozy caf├ęs, going to the Christmas market right in my neighborhood... I'm ready for the holidays!

Exploring Stockholm: Textile Arts at Nordiska Museet

I love moving to a new city, exploring and trying to find a way to "fit in" to my new surroundings. Having spent the past 5 years in Gothenburg with only sporadic visits to the capital, the move has really prompted me to explore more of Stockholm than I ever have before. There's so much to see!

Keith's family came up to Stockholm for a visit a few weeks ago, and one of the things we did was visit Nordiska Museet, a great museum housed in this beautiful building:


The museum showcases Swedish cultural artifacts from the 16th century to the present day. And of course, my favorite part of the visit was the textiles gallery. Embroidery, weaving, tatting, beading... I love to look at traditional handicraft, it's so impressive how well these (mostly) everyday objects have held up for centuries!



This is an example of traditional Scandinavian wool embroidery, dated 1791. I love these colors! You'll have to excuse the poor quality of the photos though - the textiles were all housed in glass cases, and of course flash photography was not allowed.


I hope that you can at least get an idea of how colorful and vibrant these pieces are. Real works of art, often using patterns and stitches unique to different regions of Sweden.

Of course, the textiles were not the only thing in the museum. Keith and the others got bored with the textiles after a while and dragged me off to look at this statue of Gustav Vasa, the first king of Sweden.


All in all, this was a great day trip and if you are ever in Stockholm, I'd definitely recommend a visit!


A good time was had by all!

Baby girl power

One of the first things I wanted to show you since I've been back are the neat little onesies I made for a friend's new baby girl. I've never done freezer paper stencils before, but it was so easy and fun! I even printed up some fabric for myself at the same time - that's the flower fabric in the middle of the photo. It has since become a fabric grocery bag.


Both of baby's parents are hard-core feminists, so the choice of stencil wasn't difficult. They went over very well! Here's little Liv modelling her new gear:


How cool is that vintage stroller by the way? Straight from the 70's!

Catching up!

So, really, how do you summarize six months in one post? There has been way too much going on for me to write about it all, but I thought I'd show some snapshots of what I've been up to - enjoy!


I finally managed to finish my thesis, and in June I officially got my MSc in Political Science. I am beyond thrilled! I'll miss all the friends I've made though - some of whom I may never meet again as they will go back to their home countries far away from Sweden. Here is one of the last shots of my graduating class:


Keith also got his MSc (in computer science though) this spring, and one of the lovely things we did to celebrate was attend this graduation ball at a swanky ballroom in Gothenburg.


Yup, that's us. Looking way more grown up (and dressed up) than usual... The next thing we did, only weeks after me finishing my thesis, is pack up our apartment and move from Gothenburg to Stockholm. We managed to find a gorgeous sublet in Gamla Stan, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Stockholm. The building is 18th century - a bit drafty perhaps, but we love it!


So now that we have a new place to decorate and shop for, you may be seeing some more of that on this blog... Can you believe we have lived in the new place for four months and we still have several boxes yet to be unpacked! Our new apartment is much bigger than the last, and we just don't have enough furniture yet!


Anyway, I'm really enjoying Stockholm so far, and hopefully 2012 will be a good year for us with new things to see and do, people to meet and fun to be had!