Saturday, September 28, 2013

Autumn Outfit + Rambling

I have noticed that my default style for autumn seems to be quite steampunk inspired... I just delight in digging out my vests and my pocket watches when summer is at an end! This is an outfit I wore the other day. Kind of steampunk, kind of contemporary, very practical. I feel very stylish and elegant wearing this! I love the different textures and the different shades of dark grey/black! It's quite androgynous too, which is always a plus! Scent of the day was Jeke by Slumberhouse. I stand by my words, Jeke is a steampunk kind of perfume!

The hat, shirt, vest and pants are all wardrobe staples that have been seen on this blog before. The jacket/blazer is one of my best finds ever! I bought it at a flea market for 30 swedish crowns, which is about 3.5-4 €... virtually nothing! And it fits as if it was tailor-made for me!

My new brooch suits this outfit very well imho!

My favorite gunmetal pocket watch, mechanical with the movement visible both in the front and in the back! It keeps time reliably (some of these cheap pocket watches really don't) and only needs winding about once every 36 hours.

Quirky view of my outfit! ;)

My best pair of shoes! I love how elegant they are while still being practical! I like the pointier than normal toe (for this type of shoe) and my feet look smaller than they actually are in these! They seem to be quite good quality too, I've had them several years and worn them a lot and still they look no different from the day I bought them! The shoelaces are a bit too long though...
In other news the history society in my home village is organizing a class about tule weaving/plaiting that I am taking part in. Tule is a type of sedge that has traditionally been used here to make mats, shoe insoles and various other practial or decorative items. So far I have only made a couple of bracelets and a new handle for one of my teapots. Next time I am making insoles, wish me luck!

I found this teapot in the garbage room of my appartment complex in Uppsala. It was pretty but lacked a handle. Now it has a handle again! I am rather proud of it! I also really like the matching but mismatched cup and saucer combo! Am I strange when I feel like my tea cup has to match my teapot?

My tiny village has a very active community life. We have a youth society, a history society, a historical motor society and a kind of community center where the latter two of these societíes are based (the youth society has its own house). My father is active in some way in all of these societies and I am getting more and more into it too, mostly in the history society. The word history society is a bit misleading actually but I couldn't find a english word for hembygdsförening. The swedish word more literally means home region society or even roots society. I feel strongly about my village and my roots here (my family has ben here as long as this village has existed, literally since the land rose from the sea) so being part of the history society and learning/conservating the traditions of my village feels important!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Friday the 13th Outfits

I actually ventured out the the door twice on Friday AND I managed to take some photos of both my outfits. Sadly I am still lacking a full length mirror so you get cut off legs...

The first outfit is one I love! The black velvet dress is a wardrobe staple that you have seen before in a couple of outfits. The golden/amber skirt was too small for a friend so she gave it to me. It is a balloon type piece, but not very fluffy. It is longer in the back than in the front and is rather ridiculously tiny in the waist. I must have gotten slightly thinner though, I remember it being a bit too tight on me. I haven't worn it much as I have found it difficult to match it with other things in my wardrobe (and a bit too tight). But now that I have found this combination I love it! It matches my amber colored key rosary necklace perfectly! :D

I wore this outfit for a trip to the library. I met the librarian (or rather library assistant) whose place I am going to take when she goes on maternity leave in about a month and we talked a bit about that. I'm going to actually have a real job in a month, a job that will be almost full time and that will last for more than a few months. This has never happened to me before. It seems the local library has decided that they like me and hopefully they will continue to supply me with part time and short term jobs until they can finally give me a permanent position. 

I also borrowed some books about preserves and some other recipe books, two with cookie and cake recipes and one with soups! Then I bought beer and, finally, beer glasses! Now I have two pretty tulip shaped glasses to drink my awesome beers from! I had to try out a glass of course and the glass was good but the beer I tried was kind of "meh". It was Achel 8 Blond. Really pretty color and pretty lacy foam though! I checked ratings and reviews of it online and it is apparently a well liked and reputable beer. And I can't really find anything to complain strongly about. I just found it a bit watery, not as full-bodied as I would have liked, and I like my beers a bit sweeter and spicier than this... Aaand that concludes the beer review part of this blog post. ;)

My second outfit of the day was this one. All itmes here, except for the shirt, are wardrobe staples that I think you have seen before. The shirt is my most recent clothing find. Sometimes I find goodies where I would least expect it. This time at Gina Tricot. But I do really like the color and shape of this shirt. I always have my eyes open for clothing with a color somewhere between brown/red/pink. This one is a brownish pink that can't really be called pink...  A truely indefinable color! It makes me think of blush... I was afraid that the shirt would be too ordinary, but a top hat, some forged iron jewelry and pleather pants works wonders!

Oh, and the perfume of the day was Slumberhouse Sova. I LOVE Sova!! It is my new favorite! Hay, hops, immortelle, all good and sweet without being foody! Smells a bit like a non foody curry in a decidedly good way! Talk about a full bodied and sweet scent! I think my taste in beer echoes my taste in perfume... My favorite beer (De Molen Bommen & Granaten) kind of reminds me of Sova! ;)

In conclusion, I lived through another Friday the 13th without any bad luck at all! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Art of Choosing Jewelry

A comment from Lynette prompted me to write this blog post. She asked me to write some more about where I find my necklaces and how I go about choosing them. I take any excuse to sort through my jewelry so I wasn't exactly reluctant! 

You wont get to see my complete jewelry collection today, as part of it is still lost somewhere in some moving box... But here is an illustrative selection. 

There are a few criteria that I use when searching for, choosing and buying jewelry. I want unique jewelry, preferably handmade, vintage or repurposed. I also want jewelry that is more than pretty. I want it to have a context or a subtle symbolic meaning. I wear a lot of jewelry with association to history or nature. You may notice a lot of old keys among my necklaces along with other repurposed items but also some leaves and mysterious historical patterns. These are things that I feel are distinctively "me", that have a meaning for me! I also want to introduce more macabre in my collection. My raven skull is feeling kind of lonely. But I don't want to venture into gothic cliché so the hunt is a bit slow...

There is also the material to consider. There are some colors and materials that I prefer, that I have made mine. Bronze and forged iron are my favorite materials by far! Gold is too... vulgar, silver too pale and they are both too perfect, too light, too bright. I want a rustic and dark feel to my jewelry! I like oxidized, rusted, aniqued! I try to make sure that I have matching rings and bracelets fro every color and material. I just obsessively need my pieces of jewelry to match perfectly! Another signature material in my jewelry wardrobe pertains specifically to my rings. I really like carved stone rings, meaning rings that are carved out of solid stone. I have a lot of them in various different colors!

There are other personal preferences to take into consideration as well. How large do I want my jewelry to be? And what lenghts suit my clothing best? Admittedly, I enjoy large pieces of jewelry. Large but still elegant and practical. I want my jewelry to be noticed. And I want it to be noticed right away, and not as an afterthought! I also want my jewelry to be a natural part of my outfit. For that it is useful if a necklace is flexible and can be made shorter or longer depending on my needs. When I wear my vest I need my necklaces to be shorter than when I am without vest. When I wear a button down shirt I need a necklace to lay just right between buttons... A wardrobe with a variety of cleavage types demands more flexibility from the necklace wardrobe. For some of my pendants I have made braided cords to use instead of the chains they came with, for added versatility.

So where do I find my jewelry? There are a few different places. As I am into making jewelry I create a lot of pieces for my own use. I sell my jewelry on Etsy (my shop is here) and that is a great place to buy handmade jewelry. I have made some really stunning finds there, like the raven skull and the wire eye! I also buy a lot of jewelry on handmade markets or in handmade shops. Another part of my collection is thrifted or second hand. But it's hard for me to find vintage jewelry that really suits my style...

Final thoughts on building a jewelry wardrobe:

  • Make sure rings and bracelets fit right. If they are too loose you wont wear them, no matter how pretty they are. 
  • Find your style! Your jewelry should match (or maybe contrast) your clothing and if you have a distinctive personal clothing style then why not an equally distinctive jewelry style?
  • Signature pieces are very useful to have, especially if they are versatile and suits the majority of you clothing. If you can't be bothered/don't have the time to choose jewelry then you have something to fall back on that always works!
  • Try making your own jewelry from items that mean something to you! These pieces will be very personal and original!
  • Signature materials are important. They help you focus your search and keep your collection consistent! Look at your clothing style and try to come to a conclusion as to what materials and colors you should focus on. And the choice doesn't stand between gold or silver. There is a myriad of other materials! Maybe wood is your thing, or a particular type of gem, or leather, or sea shells or maybe bone....
  • Avoid very fragile pieces of jewelry. Jewelry needs to be quite durable to be wearable! Most materials can be sturdy and elegant at the same time. Buy quality!
  • Support small businesses and handmade goods. Capitalism and multinational corporations may rule the world but they don't have to rule your wardrobe!

What kinds of jewelry do you use? What are your favorite materials? Favorite shops? Do you ever make jewelry youself?

Jam Recipes

Amanda wanted to see recipes for a couple of my preserves, so I'll share them with all of you!

Apple jam.

Apple Jam

  • 1,5 kg apples (peeled, core removed, chopped)
  • 4 dl water
  • 800 g jam sugar (sugar with added pectine)
  • cinnamon (whole or powdered, or both)
  • ginger (fresh or powdered)
  1. Boil chopped apple in the water, under lid, for about 15-20 minutes. Stir often.
  2. Add the sugar as well as cinnamon and ginger (according to taste).
  3. Boil about 5 minutes. 
  4. Stir until mushy.
  5. Pour into clean, hot jars and put the lids on immediately.

Beetroot Marmelade

  • 800 g beetroot (peeled, grated)
  • 200 g onion (chopped)
  • 1,5 dl balsamic vinegar (or according to taste)
  • 4-5 dl jam sugar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cinnamon
  • clove
  • nutmeg
  • vanilla sugar
  1. Let the grated beets and the chopped onion simmer in salted water until they are soft, about 1 hour. Remove the water and press out all of the water from the beets and onions. 
  2. Blend betts and onions with vinegar, sugar and spices (powdered, according to taste) and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Por into clean, hot jars. The liquid should cover the beets.

As it is the first time I'm making these recipes I have no idea how long they will keep. Hopefully until the next years harvest... *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pickles, Jams and Jellies

It's that time of the year again and for the first time in seven (!) years I am in a position to actually take full advantage of what nature gives! For seven years I have spent early autumn away at school, far from the harvest and without space for preserves. So this year I went a bit nuts, eagerly cheered on by my father (who loves eating what I make) and my aunt (who is happy to have someone to go all preserve-geeky with). Here at my home I have all the necessities! A root cellar, a vegetable garden, a greenhouse and forests where I can pick berries. So during the last few weeks I have been quite busy with gathering the harvest and making pickles, jam, jelly, relish, cordial, you name it.

This is a subject that is rather off topic on this blog. But since I already wrote a post about my herbal tea I thought that a picture heavy post about all my preserves would be of interest to some of you. So here goes...

All the types of preserve. From left to right, top row: lingonberry jam, cranberry jam, beetroot marmelade, cucumber relish. Bottom row: apple jam, rowan berry jelly, pickled green tomatoes, pickled beetroot.

Pickled green tomatoes, cucumber relish and pickled beetroots.

Lingonberry jam, beetroot marmelade and cranberry jam.

Isn't the rowan berry jelly the prettiest preserve ever!?

Here are the preserves in my root cellar.
Another view of my root cellar.

In this shadowed corner are my bottles of cordial.

Paavo was very curious about the root cellar, he doesn't get to be there often. ;)

Paavo and some cordial, aronia berry cordial on the left and red currant cordial on the right.
If you are curious about any of the recipes just ask and I'll provide ( metric at least). I have added my own little twist to all of the recipes so I do feel comfortable with sharing them, I just can't be bothered to write them all out right now. My favorite of these preserves is the beetroot marmelade. That was an experiment that failed at first, but on the second go the outcome was delicious! It is sweet, spicy and with a tangy twist of balsamic vinegar. I have yet to taste the pickled green tomatoes and the rowan berry jelly, but I am intensely curious about both!

What are your favorite preserves? Do you make jams or preserves? What kinds do you make or what kinds would you like to make?

Lastly, a picture of Paavo being cute.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Five Things From My Wardrobe

This post is in part inspired by the "five things tag" that is moving around the blogosphere right now. It is an interesting tag, but I felt like modfying it to be more about personal style. This post is also inspired by some posts by Lynette at Evolution of an Aristocrat (awesome blog, do go visit!). She has embarked on a closet remake and while I have not found myself doing the same, I am doing this instead.

Lynettes posts about her wardrobe really had me thinking about what items make out the core of my wardrobe. What are my favorite items (right now)? Which items do I use the most (or wish I could use the most)? What items are indispensible? What items are at the core of my personal style? With these questions in mind I created a few categories and got to work.

Five Favorite Clothing Items

  • Dark red velveteen shirt. As seen here and here.
  • Black shirt with wide sleeves. As seen here and here.
  • Gold and red brocade jacket. As seen here
  • Pleather pants. As seen here and here
  • Black skirt with ruffles at the hem. As seen here.
Conclusion: This was a difficult category as I decided to limit myself to just five items from my whole clothing wardrobe. But I learned a lot in the process of choosing these five items! They are items that work well together. Almost all of them have been in the same outfit at some point. They are also for the most part items that are second hand. They can also be said to be a representation of my personal style. 

Five Favorite Necklaces

  • Raven skull necklace. As seen here.
  • Gothic winged necklace. As seen here
  • Wire eye pendant. From Twisted Sister Arts.
  • Beaded black and silver necklace with key. My own creation.
  • Rosary inspired amber colored necklace with key. My own creation.

Five Other Jewelry Favorites

  • Forged iron ring. Recent find. 
  • Leaf brooch. Recent find.
  • Eye button brooch. As seen here. My own creation.
  • Hematite ring. A jewelry staple in my wardrobe.
  • Peace sign clip on earring. Good for a gal without pierced ears.
Jewelry concusions: I wasn't as strict with my jewelry categories. I have soo many favorite necklaces that they got a cateory of their own. Here too I can see certain patterns. I seem to have an obsession with anything gunmetal/oxidized silver/forged iron/dark silver colored... The wire eye gives a dark red splash of color and then there are the couple of bronze/amber/rust items. I notice a certain similarity in color scheme between my favorite jewelry items and my favorite clothes! Most of these pieces of jewelry have also been used in outfits together with my favorte clothes!

Five Favorite Perfumes

  • Mona di Orio Les Nombres d'Or Cuir.
  • Slumberhouse Jeke. reviewed here.
  • Darling Clandestine Maudlin and Bedlam.
  • Wild Hybrid Wrangler.
  • Olympic Orchids Tropic of Capricorn.
Conclusions: this is very much a "right now" category of favorites. Jeke is a long time favorite and I believe that Tropic of Capricorn and Cur might also stay favorites for a long time. The other two are ones that I am obsessed with at the moment but that might be forgotten tomorrow or next week. Still I notice patterns of leather, animalic notes, darkness, spices and a hint of smoke. These scents are definitely "me".

Five Other Indispensible Items

  • Top hat. As seen in all of my outfits, it's always on my head!
  • Brass (?) shot glass. Perfect to bring with me to parties. Why borrow an ugly glass when you can party in style!?
  • Perfume notebooks. As seen here
  • Gunmetal pocket watch. As seen here, there and everywhere really. 
  • Ankh cross pendant. Why isn't this one among my necklaces you ask? Well, I, um, forgot about about it...
Conclusion: Several of these items are with me or on me most of the time! The Ankh is the odd one out here, but I adore it so sue me. Other candidates for this category were my black satchel bag, my winter coat, my beautiful tea cup and a few other items... but these made the final cut. What most of them have in common (sorry ankh) is that they are beautiful accessories with a practical use! 

I'd love to see some of you do this! It really is a learning experience and I am very curious as to how your five favorites would look!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Herbal Tea - Storing and Drinking

Life has been chaotic for me lately. Not very busy, just turbulent. So I have spent my time online with relaxing things like netflix, fanfiction and polyvore... But I'll try to get out that second post about herbal teas now. Summer and herbal tea harvest season is over here, but maybe where you are summer is still in full swing and you can have some use for this post. Otherwise I guess there is always next year! ;)

Read part one about harvesting and drying herbs here. This second post will largely be photos of tea and a bit of information about what plants are good for tea. But first a bit about storing your dried herbs.

Here is most of my harvest. Each herb in its own jar. I use both ordinary glass jars and metal tea jars, with various types of lids. Air tight lids are supposedly best, but I use whatever I can find. It might be tempting to store the pretty herbs in glass jars where they are visible, but they stay good for longer if stored in darkness. The herbs should not be crushed to pieces. They retain much more flavor if stored whole. I write the name of the herb as well as the year of harvest on the lid so that I can be sure how old that particular herb is.

White clover flowers.
Rose petals.
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), leaves and flowers.
Yarrow, leaves and flowers.
Pansies and violets.
I have made a few herbal blends but I prefer to store each herb on its own. This doesn't stop me from drinking blends. I usually choose a blend of several different herbs (whole) to put in my cup before adding hot water and a bit of honey. Here are some pictures of pretty and tasty herbal teas!

White clover flower tea. This is a herbal tea for the beginner! The taste is very sweet and almost a bit honey like even without sweetener. The flowers even look very pretty!
Lady's mantle leaf tea (Alchemilla Vulgaris). I really like these leaves, they taste quite sweet and look very pretty.
Rowan leaf tea. Not quite as sweet as white clover or lady's mantle but still a pleasant mild herbal tea.
Fireweed leaves and flowers.
Fireweed tea (leaves and flowers). This is one of the prettiest of herbal teas! The milky color is just gorgeous and the flowers turn from dark purple-blue to sheer and delicate white in the hot water! Tastes very good too. fresher and greener than white clover or lady's mantle.
Hibiscus flower tea. Rather cool purple color isn't it? Doesn't taste very much or very good though. 
Meadowsweet flowers and leaves (Filipendula ulmaria).
Meadowsweet flower and leaf tea. I have always loved the sweet, almond like, scent of this plant and that scent translates into taste too! The taste is sweet with an almond undertone, absolutely delicious! And don't they look pretty!
Pansy flower and yarrow leaf.
Pansy flower and yarrow leaf tea. These yellow pansy flowers give the tea an intense yellow color but the taste is quite subtle and frankly not very interesting. I am more fond of the stong herbal taste of yarrow but yarrow tea isn't very pretty... So the combination of pansy and yarrow gives both mouth and eyes pleasure.
Orange pansy and raspberry leaf tea. This orange pansy is also rather pretty, but it doesn't give the tea as intense a color. Raspberry leaves are a classic herbal tea, they taste sweet and lovely and are supposed to have medicinal effects (though I haven't noticed any).

Linnaea flower and leaf tea. I really like how these tiny flowers look in my tea cup, but unfortunately the taste is a bit too subtle for me. Just a hint of sweetness and not much more. I will have to use these in combination with something of stronger taste or when I'm in the mood for something subtle.
Finally a picture of my favorite tea. Labrador tea! I love the strong herbal taste and scent of this one! I store this tea in the freezer rather than dried as I have found thet the taste isn't really preserved well in the dried plant.
Other plants that I have harvested:

  • Rose petals - Give a subtle scent and taste of rose.
  • Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) - Are pretty and blue but not much else.
  • Red clover flower - Not as sweet and not as pretty as it's white sibling.
  • Veronica (esp. Veronica chamaedrys) - Traditional tea plant, tastes nice and sweet.
  • Blueberry leaf - Tastes wonderful, quite fresh and green!
  • Lingonberry leaf - Tastes virtually nothing. Said to be a cood treatment for urinary infection though.
  • Strawberry leaf - Sweet and tasty, quite similar to raspberry or lady's mantle.
  • Violet flowers - Look pretty and have a subtle sweet taste.
  • Mint and peppermint - I love to blend these strong flavored herbs with something pretty but boring!
  • Hops - Really interesting, rather beer like, taste. Supposedly good as a sleep-inducing evening tea.
  • Black currant leaves - Really strong and unique flavor! I love blending with blander but prettier herbs.
Those are the plants I have harvested and tried as tea! I have tried a lot of different blends too but I suggest that you experiement and find your personal favorites. Feel free to ask questions, I am sure that I have forgotten something...