Category: General Posts

Crochet – so much fun!

Ever since I was a child I have loved to crochet. Mom taught me when I was 6-7 years old, and I don’t know how many tablecloths I’ve crocheted since then. In recent years I haven’t crocheted very much because I have had so many other things I wanted to do. But now I’ve started again, and it’s so much fun! I like when the patterns are a little more challenging.

This is what I have managed to do so far and there is more to come!

/Monica

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I wish you all wonderful 2024!

I’m sorry for the lack of updates! I just wanted to show some beautiful winter pictures! Right now we have really cold weather. The temperature has been between -36-39℃ (-33-38℉) for several days now. This does not prevent me from going out for my daily walk around the village. You just need to put on several layers of clothes.

It’s so beautiful with all the snow. We don’t have much daylight yet. The sun rises at 9:45 a.m. and sets around 1:30 p.m. This means that the sun just manages to rise above the horizon before it turns back down!

/Monica

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Spring is almost here!

A few days ago we chipped away the ice closest to the house so we could set up a couple of chairs. Afterwards I took a well deserved break in the sun.

Today I have carried all my plants out to the greenhouse and started replanting them in larger pots. I haven’t been growing as many flowers as I used to, because I usually end up with way too many plants.

I also saw that two of my tomato plants have started to flower! 🙂

We still have cold nights with several degrees below zero. That’s why I have a thermostat controlled fan heater in the greenhouse. The potatoes will be planted in about five weeks. By then all the snow will hopefully have melted and the soil will be warm enough.

We still have a lot of snow on the ground! It is not yet possible to walk around the house because the snow is too deep!

The cucumbers I sowed at the beginning of March are thriving indoors by the living room window. I will be able to harvest the first cucumber within a few days! Yay!

/Monica

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Painting dahlias

I have been painting my cast dahlias for the past few days. It’s so fun when you see all the colours and how they harmonize with each other. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way I want, but then I just paint it over and try a different shade. I love these shimmery metallics and pearlescent colours.
In the spring I will also clearcoat them, but I will do that outdoors because I use a solvent-based spray varnish. Right now it is far too cold and too much snow outside!

You can put these flowers on a rebar because there is a hole in the bottom of the flowers. Just push the rebar into the soil and place the flower on top. They look so beautiful in the garden!

/Monica

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Knitted mittens

I’ve started knitting Lovikka mittens, and it’s so much fun! The design was created in 1892 in the village of Lovikka (not so far from where I live, it takes about three hours to go there by car). The Lovikka mitten has a double collar and a pattern border embroidered at the wrist, often with different coloured crosses. They also usually have a braided cord with a tassel, but I have skipped that part.The Lovikka yarn is a soft thick loosely spun wool yarn.

I have an old antique wool carder I use to brush the mittens with. The mittens become so soft and nice after a soapy wash and carding. I also card the inside.

I’ve knitted three pairs in women’s size and right now I’m working on a smaller pair. I’m going to knit two pairs in men’s size as well, but I’m waiting for more yarn to arrive.

/Monica

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A new card is uploaded!

I just stumbled upon a card design I made earlier this year and then forgot about it. It’s a gate fold card with lots of snowflakes on it. I don’t know why I forgot about it but I’m glad I found it now and not during summertime. 🙂

The design is quite delicate and you need to be careful when lifting it off the mat and weeding it.
You can find the new design here.

I wish you all a Happy New Year 2023!

/Monica

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My new paved corner!

Last summer I was casting oriental paver stones like crazy. This summer I have finished the paving and built a nice working bench.

First I removed the grass from the area and filled it in with fine-grained gravel to get a flat smooth base to put my stones on.

Then I started to fill up the area with my beautiful stones. This went fast but I lacked five stones in the end and had to cast them to be able to finish it.

To keep the stones at the edges from sliding, I hammered down some rebars all around. I also put extra rebars outside the paving to reinforce the string of concrete I put around the edges to even out the level between the grass and the paving.

Now I wanted to build a working bench. I edited a drawing that I found on the net and started sawing up the wood I needed for this. After removing all the saw dust from all over me, I finally could start building. This was fun and I’m amazed that everything fitted without modification, except for the hole for the sink!

I’m so pleased with how it turned out!

/Monica

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My big concrete ball

Two years ago I wanted to try making a huge concrete ball by using a Pilates ball that I covered with concrete-soaked pieces of terry towels. After covering it with several layers of towels I put on just concrete and tried to get the surface as smooth as possible. I left an area in the bottom uncovered so I could remove the Pilates ball.

At first I didn’t know what to make of the big ball, but after some thoughts, an idea began to emerge. I wanted to make a big face on it!

It is not easy to shape concrete freely, but it is possible! You can just do a little area at a time and let it settle before you put on more and also make sure to turn the ball so that the concrete does not start to slide. It takes layer after layer to build up the shape. The ears where hardest to make.

It’s fun to make free form concrete but it takes much longer time to make a finished item than using moulds. I will also make feet for it. It will be a big head with feet! Ha ha!

Now I had to decide where to put it. The best place was not far from where I made it, only four meters away but then there is a staircase in between. The head is huge and it’s heavy, 65 cm in diameter and it weighs just over 70 kilos. We had to drag it around the whole garden instead!

Now it has been in the garden for two years and the colours has faded a little since I made it, but that is easy to restore. During winters I just put on a small tarpaulin as protection.

Maybe I will make a hat for him also!

/Monica

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I love salmon

I often buy lot’s of salmon when I can find it at a good price. I love fried salmon seasoned with salt and black pepper. To this I serve oven-fried sweet potatoes seasoned with rosemary, salt, black pepper, garlic and a little olive oil. A good salad and hollandaise sauce goes perfectly to this.

Cured salmon

Another thing I like to make is cured salmon. I do this every now and then because it tastes so good. It’s very easy to do Just mix sugar and salt in equal amounts, then add dill and black pepper. Place a layer of the mix in the bottom of a food container. Lay down a piece of salmon and spread more salt-sugar mix on it. Add more salmon and salt-sugar mix until the container is full. Put the lid on and put it in the fridge. Turn the salmon once a day for three days, then it is ready. Smaller pieces only need two days to be cured. You can check the taste to determine if it is ready. Store in the freezer.

Sushi

This time I also made some home-made sushi. I love sushi and wanted to make some of my own. I don’t do sushi that often because it is so time-consuming. This is how they turned out.

/Monica

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Cast flower decorations

This winter I’m casting a lot of dahlia flowers to put on iron bars in the garden. I’m casting them using self-levelling compound, not concrete because concrete is too rough for this. The disadvantage of this, however, is that the flowers become more fragile and must be handled more carefully.

I’m using silicone moulds and I have bought several of these to make the process more time efficient. When I have filled and vibrated out the air bubbles, I’m putting in a oiled nylon stick in the wet compound to make the hole for the iron bar.

When the dahlias have hardened I remove the stick and the mould and then I grind the bottom of the flower by just rubbing it on a concrete stone. Fast and easy!

When the dahlia flowers have cured for a week or two it’s time to put on the first colour coat. This has always been a tedious job doing by hand. Now I wanted to try something else. I bought an airbrush and started painting. I also made a small turntable to make it easier to paint, and I also needed a stand for the airbrush. What a upgrade, this is working great! I also made a lifting tool to lift the flower off the turntable when painted.

Because I’m inside when painting I really needed an exhaust for this, airbrushing spreads a lot of paint particles everywhere! I already had a suitable fan for this but needed an adjustable arm and a funnel. After some thinking I got a brilliant idea. I went up to the attic and fetched an old desk lamp we had left over. I cut off the upper part of the lamp-shade and removed the lamp and then rebuilt it to fit the exhaust hose. We made a hole in the wall and mounted the fan. Now I have an exhaust that works great and I can adjust the funnel as I want. I’m so satisfied with this invention!

The next step is to paint metallic colours on them in several layers and shades to get them looking something like this.

When all the paint has dried I will put on some layers of clear varnish before they are finished. This will be made outside during spring because I use a solvent-based spray varnish for this, and it stinks!

/Monica

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3D paper star 2

After a lot of struggle, the second paper star is now ready. It took way longer time than I anticipated. This design is slightly different because the points are cut open. I wanted this star to have seven points so I could mount it on a stand, you know, one point has to be straight up.

The hard thing was to make the design so the points would close when ready. I had to make several attempts and changes before I got what I wanted. It took ages to cut and glue all the different stars. Not all the attempts are in the second picture!

The assembly is quite similar as the previous one, but I have made a new PDF instruction for this. You can find the new file and PDF instruction in the 3D Models section.

I think I’ll take a break from the stars and make something else instead for a while!

/Monica

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3D paper star

It has been a long time since I drew any new designs for cutting. Now when Christmas is here, I realized that I had to make a new paper star because the old one was broken and was not as nice as I wanted it to be.

The old star had five points and I wanted seven. It was also very bulky and I wanted a neater design. I had to make some prototypes before I was satisfied, then I added the hole pattern on it.

This is the first star I will share with you. I will make more different ones later.

You can find the new file in the 3D Models section. I have also added a PDF instruction in the download file.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

/Monica

Assembly instruction

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Preparing a new pavement

During summer I have been casting a lot of oriental paver stones. I’m planning to build a casting corner in my garden where I will have a working bench with a built-in sink and space for my concrete mixer and the vibrating table. Of course I need a fancy pavement for this.

I bought a starter set of the very pretty concrete moulds and started casting. I quickly realized that I will need quite many of the finished stones, more than you think, so I ordered some more moulds to speed up the casting.

Every other day during summer was spent on casting these stones. Now I have almost enough for the planned area to be paved. To build the casting corner will be a fun project for next summer!

Update on the snow

All the snow we got a month ago melted after a week and then we got lots of rain. This caused our very small cellar to overflow. This happens usually during spring but rarely during fall. We got about 30 cm of water on the floor. We have a small freezer down there but it’s placed on a shelf about 50 cm up from the floor to protect it from overflowing. We had to pump out the water for some days and now its dry again.

Yesterday we got some more snow but not as much as last time. I hope it will stay this time!

/Monica

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Winter is here!

Three days ago, winter came to us, we got almost 30 cm of wet and heavy snow and today it’s snowing again! I love when the first snow comes because everything gets so bright.

I managed to make almost all winter preparations in the garden before the snow came, so I’m quite happy about that! I still have some minor things to do, but that is fine!

Plums

This autumn has been warm and with no frost nights until late September. This is very unusual but I’m happy because then all the plums had time to ripen. This is the first year we got a harvest from the tree, and what a harvest! I have picked more than 20 kilos of plums! They are so sweet and tasty but quite small. Most of them are now in the freezer.

/Monica

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Berries, oh so much berries!

This year the woods are full of wild berries. Here in Sweden anyone can go out into the woods and pick berries, they are free and you do not have to ask the landowner for permission. As I have lots of time now when I’m out of work, I decided to pick as much berries as I could. In the end of July I started to pick bilberries (European Bluberry), here in Sweden we call them blueberry.

Bilberries can be used for so much. I make juice and jam and I bake pies and make blueberry pancakes. They are also delicious to put frozen on yoghurt.

The most delicious berry you can pick is cloudberries. They can be found on peatlands and this year we found lots of them. I have never seen so many cloudberries and it was so fun to pick. Cloudberry jam is delicious served with waffles or pancakes.

The last wild berry to pick is the lingonberry or cowberry. They are troublesome for the body to pick because one has to bend down so deeply. I went out yesterday to pick lingonberry and today everything is hurting, ha ha. I make jam from these and serve it for example together with meatballs and fried chicken liver.

In total I have picked:

28 kg bilberries
7 kg cloudberries
10 kg lingonberries

In my garden there are also lots of berries that I have picked this summer. There are strawberries, red currants, raspberries and sour cherries. I’m also waiting for the apples (not so many, the tree is young), the plums and the wine to ripen. I hope the plums and the wine (newly planted) will ripen this year. They have started to change colour from green to blue so I’m hopeful. The plum tree is so full of plums and this is the first year there would be a real harvest if they would ripen.

The hardest thing about picking so much berries is that I have to find space for most of them in the freezer. It’s hard, very hard!

I feel blessed with such great access to the delicacy from the forest and the garden.

/Monica

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Garden bench

Some years ago i bought a mould for casting bench legs. Since I didn’t know how to attach the top planks, I never got around to use it.

Now I wanted to do something about this. I bought some angle brackets that I was going to cast into the bench legs. I also needed to make a support for the brackets to get them in the right position when casting. I used some left over materials for this.

I casted four bench legs and it went just fine. Now to the fun part, the assembling of the bench! For this I had bought some pressure impregnated wood for the top and cut it into the dimensions I wanted.

Before I screwed the top part on the legs, I mounted a reinforcement between them. Here it is up side down so I could put the screws in.

And here is the two finished garden benches. Aren’t they gorgeous!

I think I will make more of these next summer!

/Monica

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Concrete flower ball

The flower ball latex mould is finally ready and I have casted some balls with really good result. To make it easier when casting, I also made a support for the mould.

I don’t know if I will paint the balls because I kinda like the colour of raw concrete. Look how nice they are!

/Monica

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Now the ducks have moved out into the garden!

The big duck moving day happened about a week ago! All my ducks are now spending their time in the sun playing around the pond! 😁

They are so cute and I like how it turned out!

/Monica

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Daylight around the clock

This time of year is the best! I like the daylight around the clock because you can be active outside until bedtime. At summer solstice the sun sets at 00.04 and rise again at 01.04. It never gets dark and it’s wonderful!

I was out in the garden taking pictures at midnight. The lilacs are blooming and the fragrance is overwhelming.

I was amazed that there where no mosquitoes because they are usually very active at night. Here are some more pictures.

/Monica

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Garden decorations, flower balls

I got a new idea to make latex moulds to cast concrete flower balls. They hopefully will look fantastic as garden decorations. I hope they will turn out great, and if so, I will make more of them!

I have bought a bunch of resin flatback flowers to use for this. I also bought some big styrofoam balls in different sizes and some modelling clay (that does not dry). The biggest ball is 14 cm in diameter. I cut a bit off from the styrofoam balls to have a flat bottom for my balls to stand on. Then I put on a thin layer of clay and then gently pressed the flowers into the clay. I filled the gaps between the flowers with small half round pearl beads.

This is the first ball I’m working on. I will make more of them (different designs) if this turn out as good as I think it will do.

Now the long process starts to make the latex mould. The ball has to be covered with liquid latex in several layers. I can put on two layers a day. It will take about two weeks to finish. It is very important to remove all trapped bubbles when putting the latex on. I use a straw to blow the bubbles away. Here I have just put on the third layer of latex.

I really long to cast this flower ball!

/Monica

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Waiting for warmer weather

This spring has been so fricking cold! We have had snow showers each and every day.

Some days ago I spent the whole day cleaning the pond so I could start the pumps to get the water and the fountain running. The water is freezing cold and the last ice melted about a week ago. It’s a struggle each spring to fix the pond but this year I had bought a special vacuum cleaner for it. It took just as long to clean the pond but it wasn’t as back breaking as it usually is. Now I’m prepared for summer!

I also put down my pond monster. My hands hurt from the cold water although it just took a minute to get him there! Isn’t he cute? Everyone needs a monster in their pond! 😉

The first spring flowers

There is not much greenery yet but we have some early spring flowers that are blooming. I fear that many perennials have died this winter because we have had so much snow alternated with thaw so there has been a lot of ice this winter. We will see!

/Monica

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More ducks!

Now I have painted all the small ducks. They are so cute! These are the last ones:

The work on the big duck mold is progressing. I have finished the latex mold and have made a support for it using plaster bandage. I have made it in two halves to make it easy to remove it. On the first half I made a small ridge about 10 mm in from the edge so the other half gets good support. When it had hardened I trimmed it with my dremel so it looks nice.

When the two halves was finished I needed something to keep them together when casting. I used a strap for this but needed something more to hold it in the right position. I filled a small plastic jar with plaster and put the head down in it. I had put a thin plastic film on the head so it didn’t got stuck in the plaster.

Now I was ready to try it out! The mold and the support worked very well. It was easy to cast and everything went well. When I removed the mold, I saw that the beak was a little too thick in the upper part because I hadn’t put in a support for the beak in the two halves.

Now I have fixed this and I hope the next big duck will be perfect!

/Monica

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I’m back again!

After a very long break from writing here, I’m back again! I hope to continue with regular updates from now on. I recently lost my job, (not because of the Corona pandemic), and therefore I have plenty of time to do my hobbies.

I have been quite busy with making moulds for garden decorations. My funniest project is to make small ducks to have around my pond. It will look silly and so nice! I have made latex moulds on different rubber ducks and now I have cast more than 100 small ducks to put in the garden.

I’m still working on a bigger duck mould and hopefully it will be ready for casting within a week or so.

To paint all the ducks is very painful for my shoulders so I can only paint about 15 ducks a day. I use Inka Gold when painting and it looks so good!

/Monica

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I’m sorry for the lack of updates

It has been more than a year since my last update! I’m quite embarrassed over this. I hope you can forgive me! I really have no excuse other than that I have been lacking inspiration to write something.

I’m still doing a lot of stuff but I have not made any new cutting designs. Right now, I spend most of my time making diamond paintings. They are so fun to make but I think I soon have to stop because I have too many of them, I just don’t have enough walls to hang them on. This is the one I’m working on right now:

And here are some of my finished ones:

Last winter we got a record amount of snow, the total snowfall was more than three meters (10 ft). I can say that I was deadly tired of shovelling snow. Last summer was the warmest summer ever. To work in the garden was a pain, and all the concreting I wanted to do was not an option. However, I did read a lots of books, sitting in the shadow. We also had lots of wildfires. This winter we got more snow than last winter. I wonder how this summer will be…

The snow is thawing rapidly now. Today I shovelled a path to the greenhouse. My plan is to move out my seedlings during next weekend. The daylight is back and I feel that the energy to do things returns.

/Monica

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March, and still no sign of spring!

This winter we have had a record breaking amount of snow. I can’t remember that we have had a winter like this before. In November and December we got loads of snow and then a couple of thaws. After Christmas it has been cold weather and almost constant snowing. No thawing at all! At least we have had some nice days lately with sunshine and some dripping from the roof in mid days. There are so much snow on the roof now and it’s heavy!

As usual this time of year I have started to sow. My tomato plants are about 6 inches tall and a bunch of flower seedlings needs to be replanted. Of course, I didn’t remember to bring some smaller pots in from the greenhouse before winter. Oh my! I really need them!

It was hard work to dig through all the snow to get to the greenhouse! I measured the snow depth and it’s about one meter of snow on the ground!

It’s hard to believe that I am moving my plants in to the greenhouse in about five to six weeks from now.

This is a picture from today and a picture from last year, two weeks earlier than now.

/Monica

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In memory of my Mother

This is my beloved Mother. She passed away the 5th of August 2017. We knew that her end of life wasn’t that far away because of her illness, but we were not prepared that her death would come so suddenly. But who can be prepared for this anyway?

My Mother loved to paint and she was a real artist, but she very seldom wanted to show off her art. She kept all her paintings in huge stacks in her painting workshop. Even when she got sick she continued to paint and she kept painting until the end of her life.

She also lowed needle work and knitting and were very productive during her life. Now I have several big boxes full of the most beautiful tablecloths and table runners that she has made.

After her death I gathered all the paintings she had made and brought them home so I could take a photo of each and every one. It took so many hours of work to digitize them and to adjust the colours so they would look as near the original painting as possible.

I hope you will enjoy her paintings as much as we do.

Monica

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Watercolours

Most of the time my Mum painted pictures from the nature around their summer cottage. She loved to stay there and they spent much time there even during winters. The deep woods and the marshlands inspired her.

There are more than 200 watercolour paintings. I have grouped them by size. The size is the paper size, not always the size of the painting.

~23x30cm (~9×12″)

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