procraftination

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022: tutorial; lined drawstring project bag

I’ve ignored this blog for seven months now but I just sat down to write a tricky part of my current book project so obviously I now suddenly have to write a tutorial for these three bags I made! There are a ton of tutorials out there, but I find that this is the easiest way to do it, plus I wrote down how to box corners, which is a thing I always struggle with. So here we go.

(And yes, this is a messy tutorial because I mostly took the pics for my own reference and then decided to post them after the fact.)

I made three, because I happened to have three knitting projects in progress. And YES, they’re the same size, it’s just that the black one has a much smaller project in it, so it looks smaller, bu the finished size is about 23.5 x 18 cm (9.25 x 7 inches), and fits a little more than a sock project, though I am knitting a gigantic scarf and I’m curious to see how much of it fits before I have to either make a bigger one or resort to a normal tote bag.

But yes, this is how I did it:

For each bag, cut two pieces of fabric, one for the outside, and one for the lining. Each should be 52 x 20 cm (20.5 x 7.8 inches, but if you’re doing the inches thing I’d just round it into nice even numbers, the size really doesn’t matter exactly). Or, if you’re using scraps, just do four pieces at 26 x 20 cm and seam the bottom, you do you.

 

Fold them, turning right sides together.

For the outside piece, on both sides, put a mark 3 cm down from top, and then one 2 cm below. (Or, you know, about 1 inch down, with marks 1/2 inch apart.) Seam down sides, but leave a gap here. This is where the opening for the string goes! (Also, ignore my pen marks. I messed up.)

For the lining piece, on one side, mark a gap about 5 cm (2 inches) wide on one side. Not too far down, because you still have to box those corners. This is how you turn the bag right side out when you’re done!

Or, if you do two pieces, just do it on the bottom. And yes, seam the rest of it, aaaall the way down.

 

Time to box the evil corners! I always found this the actual worst until I found this method, and I have to relearn it every time so now I took pictures. So, first draw a square, either from the seam like here, or from the edge of the fabric. I like doing it like this. Do this on both sides of the fabric, in both corners. And yes, on both the outside fabric, and the lining fabric.

 

Then you pull it apart at the seam, and magically the two squares will mesh like this, into a straight line. Pin carefully, making sure that it’s all straight and that the pins go through on the line on both sides. This is the front and back of the same corner, for reference.

 

Seam along the lines and you’ll get this. Cut off excess fabric. Zigzag/serge the edges if you’re a nervous sort (I am) but the seams won’t be exposed so it should be fine anyway. (Also enjoy the ruler my dad gave me, an advertisment for the communter trains in Stockholm, made some time in the 1980s or 1990s.)

Then just straighten it out and discover that it can stand! On it’s own! I forgot to take a picture of the pieces doing this before the bag was finished, but this picture shows it pretty well.

 

I admit that this picture only exists because I’m unable to remember how to put the pieces together to make the outside the outside and the inside the inside once you turn it right side out. But: right sides together, but the lining must be on the outside as you seam it! (Possibly there’s an easier way to do this. I’m a messy, trial-by-error, self-taught seamstress.)

 

I forgot to take pictures of the rest, but these that I took after-the-fact shows the rest pretty well. So, flip the bag right side out, press the seam and top stitch. Sew a channel about 3 cm down. Use the width of the gap on the edge for reference on width. Getting it straight sucks, but I think I managed okay. (Also, seam the gap in the lining, obviously.)

 

Finally, pull string through. Basically, tie it to a safety pin and run it through from one side, all the way around, and out the same hole, put a bead on if you want (not necessary but if you slide them up like on the bag on the right they’ll keep the bag closed) and tie a knot. Take a second piece of string and put it through the hole on the other side. I’m using elastics here because it’s what I had, but I don’t recommend it! If I can ever get to a store that sells ribbon by the metre I’m going to replace it but they keep closing the fabric stores in town and the only one that’s left isn’t on a bus route so it might be a while and I got impatient.

How long string you want varies! I like mine long enough that I can loop the bag around my wrist when I knit at the bus stop, but not so long that they tangle into everything if I toss one in my backpack. I think this time I made them about 45 cm (28 inches) long after trimming, but that’s maybe a little on the short side.

And I guess now that this is done and I’m out of procrastination I have to go do my actual writing anyway…

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021: crockpot fun: broccoli carrot cheese soup

I changed the original recipe a fair bit since I wanted to go heavy on the broccoli, plus my crockpot is small (2.4 liters sounded fine for one person, but most recipes are written for a bigger one so I always have to alter them), so I’m gonna write it down here…

300-400 grams frozen broccoli
2 shredded carrots
1 small onion
enough garlic to make you happy
2 cups (500 ml) water + half a bouillon cube
150 ml milk/cream (recipe said evaporated milk… which I used and it was good, but ow lactose, so next time I might use regular lactose free milk with a splash of cream instead)
100ish grams cream cheese
100-150 grams shredded cheese
0.5 tsp salt
0.25 tsp black pepper
0.5 tsp oregano
0.5 tsp thyme
0.25 tsp nutmeg
chili powder to your heart’s content

Add broccoli, carrots, onion and garlic to a smallish crockpot. Add cream cheese, spices, water and bouillon cube. Cook until everything is cooked through, maybe 2-3 hours or so on high. (I added half the broccoli after an hour, so that increased cooking time a lot so idek what it would be if I’d put everything in at once.)

When the vegetables are tender, stir in the milk and puree the soup with an immersion blender. Cover and let cook another 10-20 minutes before adding salt, pepper and grated cheese. Cook on high until the cheese has melted.

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020: Seed packets

This is possibly a bit niche and definitely completely unnecessary, but a fun thing with ADHD is that sometimes you just Have To Do Things, and this weekend that Thing was making little envelopes to put all my flower and vegetables seeds in so they’d be uniform. Previously they ranged from jars, to coffee filters (wrapped up and taped closed), and regular ones I’d bought. And then I found a glass jar to put them in. And then, suddenly, I was slaughtering a notebook for it’s pretty papers, and figured out how to make these in the perfect size, and I honestly just want to remember how I did it in case I need more. So, picture time, because just writing down the instructions without a step-by-step is useless, as I found when I tried to ask the internet how to do this.

This is the finished product! It has type, name and year they were bought or picked on the front. If they’re commercial seeds I cut out and taped the instructions on the back, but left the top untaped, so I could tuck the top of the envelope underneath it.

I happened to have these laying around, so that’s what I used. They also happened to be 15 cm (6ish inches) along the short side, so that’s the size I cut, which will give you an envelope that’s 9×6 cm (3.5×2.5ish inches).

So, cut a 15 cm square. Fold it from corner to corner, and then mark 6 cm in from the edge on both sides. (I forgot to take a picture of the actual marks. Arrows will have to do.)

 

Fold the sides in like this! Stand it up on it’s edge, to take a good picture.

Once you’ve folded the sides in, also fold the first of the top pieces down. Then, fold out the sides again (you only folded them first to get the top thing to line up, you see), and glue the top down like this. Glue isn’t really necessary because it’ll keep together anyway but seeds are sometimes tiny so I did it to be safe.

Then, forget what you’re doing, finish a dozen envelopes and then realise that OH RIGHT, it’s tutorial time. Continue with pictures, although you’re now using a white paper, not a green. So, unfold it again, and glue only the triangle I marked out, because you need to be able to tuck the tips in for the next step, and you can’t do that if the bottom is glued.

Fold it back up, and then fold in the sides (glue them down if you want!), and tuck them together like this.

And then you have this! I folded some extra envelopes too, because I ordered some more seeds online, and I want somewhere to put them when they arrive! I’m way more about vegetables than flowers, but when they arrive I will have the following:

Vegetables:
carrot x 2 (regular, and mixed colour),
beets x 2 (regular and striped),
tomatoes x 2 (regular, yellow tiny tomatoes),
sugar snap peas,
broccoli (failed last year, trying again),
cucumber (I have no idea how to grow cucumber),
bell pepper (have never successfully grown bell pepper),
physalis (saved from a fruit),
butternut squash (also saved from a fruit).

Flowers:
marigold (picked off last year’s flowers, that were picked off the previous year’s flowers, etc, you can do this endlessly),
runner beans (which I grow for the flowers, and just save the beans to plant the following year, so I count them as flowers),
malva,
Indian cress,
two kinds of tiny blue flowers,
gigantic red sunflowers.

Summer can’t come soon enough.

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019: Books of February

February was a sucky month for books! I fell into a slump and every book took weeks. But trying to keep this up.

Goal for the year: 50 books.
Books read by January 31st: 8.
Books ahead of schedule: 0.33 (50 books / 12 months x 2 = 0.33)

Book bingo: fiction: 3 of 16 books read.
Goal for the month: 2.33 total for January-February, so 0.66 ahead of schedule.

Book bingo: non-fiction: 3 of 16 books read.
Goal for the month: 2.33 total for January-February, so 0.66 ahead of schedule.

 

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Date: January 20th-February 10th
Stars: ★★★★☆

I loved this book. Michelle Obama feels so genuine and real, and a very intelligent, accomplished woman, coming from a working class family, with a disabled parent. Until we hit the point where she was proud (?) to push BMI measurements a standard care in children (this is utterly bullshit people, here’s my Instagram caption about it) I had heart in my eyes. It’s the one thing about her, and about this book that really disappointed me, so it’s still a 4.5 rounded down, but seriously? She’s too intelligent to ever believe that’s a good thing.

 

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Date: February 16th-27th
Stars: ★★★★★

My first five star book of the year! I loved this one so much. It has a lot of low ratings and outraged people on GoodReads, but I’m not one of them. It is a somewhat exaggerated story: Libby is not just fat, she was once cut out of her house because she was too fat to fit through the door; Jack doesn’t just have face blindness, he has the most severe case the doctors have ever seen. But Libby’s story about her size, and how it affects her hits me hard, and Jack’s experience of the world, which is filled with strangers and people who expect things he can’t give them (i.e., remembering who they are), is so anxiety inducing and terrifying. As someone with agoraphobia I identify so hard with these two kids, even though neither of them do, and the love story is sweet and painful and I love it. So, five stars it is.

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018: Books of January

There is NO WAY I’ll be able to keep this up for the entire year, but I’m going to start out all hopeful, intending to write about the books I’ve read in the last month. Let’s see how often that ends up happening!

Goal for the year: 50 books.
Books read by January 31st: 6.5. Ish.
Books ahead of schedule: 2.

Book bingo: fiction: 3 of 16 books read.
Goal for the month: 1.33, so 1.77 ahead of schedule, if books came in decimals.

Book bingo: non-fiction: 2 of 16 books read.
Goal for the month: 1.33, so 0.77 ahead of schedule, if books, again, came in decimals.

 


Halloween Is Not a Verb (Belladonna University #4) by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Date: January 7th-9th
Stars: ★★★★☆

My review for this book is, and I quote “This is the most Tansy story”. Which is true! But not very informative. Idk, guys, I’m not a big reviewer, but reading Tansy’s stuff is always like coming home, somehow. It’s nice and comfortable and fluffy and fun, and that goes double for Belladonna University, which is the ebook versions of the serials she reads on her podcast.


Truly, Wildly Deeply by Jenny McLachlan

Date: January 4th-11th
Stars: ★★★☆☆

Also not a very wordy review (which actually, was in my Instagram stories, not on GoodReads): “Not a favourite, sadly. The disability stuff was really well done, but I want more out of YA romance than I was given”. That about sums it up. I loved a book where the main character was disabled but it was just a small part of her. Her struggles, her not-struggles (being disabled doesn’t mean everything sucks, guys), all that. But the romance? No, thanks. And not just because the guy in question doesn’t take no for an answer and tells her she’s not the girl he thought she was when he sees her kiss someone else.


Kring denna kropp by Stina Wollter

Date: January 11th-14th
Stars: ★★★★☆

This one has an actual review, though I liked what I put in my stories more, which was this: “I loved this book so much, and wish it existed in translation. Stina Wollter is the kindest force of nature I know, and I want to share her words on body positivity and feminism and creativity with EVERYONE.”

This is a book in Swedish about body positivity, but the review is in English, should you want to go and read it.

 


Fake Geek Girl (Belladonna University #1) by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Date: January 16th
Stars: ★★★★☆

I admit it. I read this before it was on GoodReads, and didn’t grade it then, and was suddenly REALLY BOTHERED by the lack of stars and a reading date, so I quickly re-read it. I love it still, and the above ‘review’ of Halloween pretty much covers what I feel about this book as well.


Release by Patrick Ness

Date: January 15th-18th
Stars: ★★★★☆

Also has a review, go me! There are quotes from it as well in it so go read that instead. I’m just gonna tell you that it’s EVERYTHING, gut punchy and amazing and emotional. The way it depicts Adam’s sex life is so much, and I love it. So yeah, read this book. It would’ve been five stars easily, had there not been a bit of a fantasy element that I didn’t much care for woven into Adam’s story.


Hamilton: the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Date: January 26th-28th
Stars: ★★★★★

Loved this one so much. I do wish I’d splurged on the hard cover, because reading it on my computer (reading it on my Kindle didn’t work AT ALL, so the Kindle app it was) was a pain and required a lot of zooming in and out and back and forth.

Other than that (and let’s be real, that was a me-issue, not a book-issue), I LOVED this book. The annotations in the lyrics were great, the peeks into Lin-Manuel’s notebooks were super cool, and the in between bits following a different actor and the way from an idea to a show was awesome.

I’m going to make a little cut here and put in some pictures of quotes I screenshotted, because I can do that. They’re not that clear because of the zoom issue, but I want them here anyway.

a picture or five this way ⌲ ⌲ ⌲

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017: crockpot fun: curried vegetable soup/stew/whatever

I’m trying to learn how to eat normally again. This is a post for another day, really, but when I don’t feel well mentally I tend to fall back onto ‘don’t eat all the things’ because of my past, which is really fucking annoying when you’re all about the body positivity. So I dug out my crockpot I bought years ago and used maybe five times, just to see if I can make it work this time.

I’ve made two things and I think I’m gonna keep transcribing the recipes here since I adapt them a lot, downsize, and so forth, and simplify and want to remember what I did and how. Plus simple is awesome when food and cooking is so hard that you’ve eaten the exact same veggie burger every day for weeks straight because what is even energy?

Here’s the original recipe for this one, if you want the real deal.

I did it like this:

Ingredients:
A bit of vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
4 small (or 2 big) carrots, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
a head of broccoli (about 200-250 grams), chopped
1 can (400 ml) crushed tomatoes
250 ml water + 1 buillion cube
about 100 ml cream or coconut milk (I used cream because I had some, and coconut milk only come in 400 ml cans)
a handful of baby spinach
a bit of salt
0.5 tbsp curry powder
0.5 tbsp brown sugar
2 cm piece ginger
a bit of crushed garlic (I now get it frozen, already minced! it has changed my life!)
a bit of chili powder
some black pepper

Do these things:
Sautee the diced onion in some oil. When translucent, add curry, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and chili powder. Cook until fragrant, and transfer to the crockpot.

Add veggies, the can of tomatoes, chickpeas and salt. Also add water + buillon cube. Stir. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

When it looks and tastes done, stir in spinach and cream/coocnut milk, and cook until the spinach has wilted.

Serve as soup or as a stew with basically anything. I used gluten free bulgur, which is made from corn, and I’m not entirely sure if it counts as bulgur tbh. But it’s good and much cheaper than quinoa so I’m here for it.

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016: Problematic sexualisation in books (and also, a review)

This was written for GoodReads, but I’m crossposting, since I want to use this blog more! Today’s topic: problematic portrayals of women in books.

Since I started my GoodReads account in 2009 I’ve given a total of six one star reviews. I’m generous, usually, because I’ll always appreciate the work that goes into a book, being a writer myself, and usually round up. One thing I can’t stand is men writing questionable portrayals of women, especially teenage girls. The most memorable one stars here are World War Z (review) and Eldvittnet (review), a Swedish crime mystery, translated to English with the title The Fire Witness.

My review for World War Z details how bad it is at portraying women, how few there are (I read 25% before deciding not to finish, and in that time there were interviews with 17 people, of which 14 were male and 3 female (82 vs 18%), 1 male and 2 females (7 vs 66%) had their looks described), and how they’re objectified and their accomplishments are passed by. For Eldvittnet I talk about how problematic it is when a crime mystery is centered around teenage girls with mental health problems, many of them self harming, when a big plot point is them being either used sexually or drugged or restrained in unethical ways by staff at a treatment centre they’ve been committed to against their will.

And then there’s this book, Oktober är den kallaste månaden, translated to English with the title October is the Coldest Month by Christoffer Carlsson (review, though this is more or less a c/p of this post), which incidentally have won a price for best crime novel for children and teens. (Insert my alarm that a book with this portrayal of a sixteen year old girl won an actual prize?)

The setting is the following: Vega, 16, lives in rural Sweden where things are bleak in every way. Police starts searching for her brother, who goes missing after being present at the scene of a crime. What they don’t know is that Vega was present too, and knows what happened. That sounds like a decent story, right? It would’ve been, if it hadn’t been so rife with unnecessary, gross depictions of sex in relation to this girl, who is 16. I’m no prude, and I’m actually a fan of books that talks about sex in frank terms, because people have sex and that’s just the way it is. I’m not in any way saying that YA it has no place in YA. I’m saying that if you, as a male, write teen girls, you really need to be mindful of how you write about sex.

In this book it’s done in a way that makes it feel… everything but that. Under the cut I’m listing all the sexual references in the first 40 pages, which is as far as I read. They’re graphic, as a warning. (Will using these terms give me gross bots? Time will tell.)

So much graphic ⌲ ⌲ ⌲

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015: writer burn out

This year for NaNoWriMo I decided to write in Swedish, my first language. I haven’t used it in fiction for well over a decade, and while it worked… sort of… it also nearly broke me. The rhythm in the both languages are very different, and what sounds good in English often sounds clunky in Swedish, and the other way around. I still wanted to try. Afterwards I went head first into a I CAN’T WRITE EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE I CAN’T BE A WRITER, ETC, every writer knows this one very well, I’m sure. I’ve had writing a blog post on my to do list for about three weeks. That’s how much I didn’t want to write anymore

But. I am a writer. I think in stories. Right now I work going through old records and digitalising them to be put in geneology databases. I’m focusing on something called soldattorp — crofts (I think) for military. In the 1600s to 1800s every soldier was assigned one, a small cottage, that they lived in while on active duty. We’re going through every inhabitant and finding as much info as we can, though I’m sticking to the 1800s, because reading old handwriting from the 1600s is beyond me. At least at this point.

This is some of the pretty handwriting from the early 1800s. Most of it isn’t this legible, but this I photographed because it’s basically art. From the left that’s date of birth and baptism, name (underlined), parents identity, and if they died young, their name is struck out and there’s a date on the right with their date of death — död is Swedish for death.

We look in old records, mostly books that priests kept back in the day, noting down births, deaths, marriages, people moving away, military service, etc. Looking through these books we note things like:

  • Birth date, location of birth.
  • Death date, location of death, cause of death when possible.
  • Parents, their maiden and married names.
  • If married, their wife’s name, maiden name, birth and death date, cause of death.
  • Children, birth dates.

And so forth.

This is death records, annoyingly cropped to remove some identifying stuff. First column is name, location, name of spouse. Second is date of death. Third marks whether they’re married, unmarried, widowed, etc. Fourth is just a page number. Fifth is cause of death. Most of these are tuberculosis (lungsot), but pneumonia, heart failure, old age, etc are common too.

The other day I found a man, who was conscripted into the military at age 10, as a musician. We went through so many records trying to figure out if there was an error date wise — who even joins the military at ten years old, even in the mid 1800s? — but eventually found proof that it was indeed true. I kept digging, found his parents names, that he was unmarried, and at last, in a book like the one above, that he committed suicide, at age 31.

I spent probably two hours on him (note: I’m not actually educated in this stuff, it’s part of a program to activate disabled people, and I’m learning as I go so I’ll get faster I’m sure), and as I did it I slowly found myself wondering how a story about him would go. I probably won’t write it, because that’s not really my genre, but this guy’s fate somehow made me want to write again. I haven’t yet, because I’m busy with Christmas prep and trying to give my brain a break, but the feeling of it returning, slowly, over a week or more, is quite something.

I’m not entirely sure how or when I’ll start writing again, but a week ago the answer was NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS (I love a bit of dramatics tbh), so this is nice. I’m not even sure what the point of this post even is, other than that writing a few words seemed like a good place to start, and to note that writer burnout is very real, and I’m grateful that I’m starting to recover.

(As an aside, if you think you have this problem, read this or this for some pointers, I found these three posts helpful, particularly the first two.)

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014: #fallforbooksmugglers, day 18-31


Part 2 of me being the weirdo that transcribes Instagram challenges so I have them in a nice collection coming up. No, it doesn’t make sense. And no, I don’t care.

  

Day 18: day 18: Shelfie. This is always my favourite prompt. Here’s my big bookcase! Over half the books I own are actually on my Kindle, so it’s not full and shares space with yarn, candles, photographs, a Tardis-mug filled with pens, two My Little Ponies, a yarn winder and some other crap. It’s also the first piece of furniture I bought when moving out of my parents’ house nearby 20(!) years ago, so I love it even more because of that, even though it’s just a standard IKEA-shelf.

Lots more under here ⌲ ⌲ ⌲

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013: #fallforbooksmugglers, day 1-14

Okay, so I’m an old lady of the internet  and want to save some of my Instagram content onto here, so I don’t lose it. Today this will be my #fallforbooksmugglers month because I almost completely finished it! Which is a struggle with month long challenges. This is super image heavy, and got really long so I’m dividing it on several posts.

Day 1: last SF/F read: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (4 stars). Still have 18% to go but it still counts! This novella was a happy surprise too because I wasn’t a huge fan of book 1 in the series.

Day 2: favourite SF/F read in 2018 (so far!): Impossible to choose, but I decided to give Swedish fantasy writer Sara Bergmark Elfgren some love. Her book Norra Latin, book 1 of Stockholmsserien (review, 5 stars), is about a girl who moves to Stockholm to go to a theatre high school since her local high school doesn’t offer that program.

Side note: In Swedish you have to choose a focus from the start and the classes are tailored to that, with some base classes everyone takes regardless of what you choose. Some of the less common options are only available in bigger cities.

Either way: the school is an old, amazing building (which in reality hasn’t been a school since the 1980s) home to some supernatural fun stuff. The two main characters are both queer, and it took some getting into but I really liked it. As far as I know it hasn’t been translated to English.

Lots more under here ⌲ ⌲ ⌲