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Sunday Tea Story

A few weeks ago I participated in an online photography event called “synchronized watching” organized by Else Kramer. Around 1250 people participated, me included. The premise was simple: sign up and for a whole week you get a new assignment or theme every day. Then you post the pictures you’ve made on various social media and tag them appropriately.

This was the first time Else Kramer organized this, but it was so succesful she is already looking into the future of doing it again in the Netherlands, as well as worldwide. Not only was it succesful in the number of people that participated, it was mighty fun as well! The themes were very varied, there were all kinds of ways to interpret them. Here’ are my results:

Day 1 : Socks
The first one was pretty straightforward, to ease us in. I chose to use my macro lens (a very cheap add-on to your existing lens, but it does the trick!) and get a nice close-up. I tried out various arrangements till I was satisfied with this one.

sok

 Day 2 : Something that you made yourself
Another subject that is pretty easy to interpret, but this time it already has a slightly wider range. There were pictures of children, sandwiches and grocery lists. I photographed a necklace I made a while ago. I had some plans to sell them, but I never got to making a whole line. This is what I would picture the product photography would look like. I’m very pleased how it turned out

yellow-collar-necklace

Day 3 : Summer
This theme was tricky all on its own, because the day (actually the whole week) we got this assignment it was lousy weather all around. So how are you supposed to use that in your expression of what summer means to you? I did it by picturing something that is my go-to summer refreshment: homemade iced tea. It’s a simple concept and I added frozen raspberries for extra freshness and summer feel.

ice tea

Day 4 : Blue
A very broad theme once more. I didn’t want to make a staged photograph so I biked around the city until I found this door with the gorgeous knocker and snapped it up with my phone. It’s simple, but I like it.

DeurDay 5 : Void
Now were talking! A very deep theme indeed. Some participants really laid their life bare with this one. It’s very interesting to think about picturing something that’s not there. The only way to do that is to make it visible in some way. So I bought a bubble blower and started experimenting. Not as easy as you think when you’re on your own! You can’t hold the camera to your eye and blow the bubbles at the same time. You don’t really have the time to alternate the two (especially if it’s windy, which it was). So after over 200 pictures I was lucky to have snapped a few that had both and interesting composition and were sharp.

leegte

Day 6 : Something small
Ah, I got to combine two of the previous results in this picture! I set out with my macro lens, but didn’t really find anything interesting. I had the idea to maybe take a picture of a bubble’s reflection or something, but it didn’t really work out nicely. There aren’t really much interesting flowers or plants around here so that plan was out as well. Then I had the idea of sticking a bubble to a flower. Now this was even harder than my attempts of the previous day! My boyfriend was with me to assist me and it took a few tries but we eventually managed to do so.

kleins

Day 7 : Self portrait
Now this was the scary one! Would you just show yourself to over a thousand other people you’ve never met? Of course you were allowed to only show a small part of yourself, like feet or hands. And there were some who took selfies, used mirrors or photographed shadows. But I went for the all-traditional and quite simple head shot. It turned out dark since I was home late that day and light was scarce, but I kind of like that. I use it as a profile picture now.

zelfportret

As for the verdict: it was a fun and very interesting week! It really forces you to get out your comfort zone to photograph things you normally wouldn’t (or didn’t have time for in the past). Moreover, it motivates you to keep up so you can share your pictures with the other participants! And that was truly the most fun part: to just browse through all the pictures and like or favourite them and strike up a conversation with another photographer. I will definitely try and participate again next year.

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Some very exciting news this week: June 20th is the international Etsy Craft Day! All around the world people are organizing crafting parties and little get-togethers. You can search for a party in your area on Eventbrite. I am helping with the hosting of a craft party in Amsterdam and will even give a workshop myself. The theme of our craft party is Reuseability & Recycling. Don’t be deterred by all the Dutch, practically everyone there will speak English as well and I myself will provide instruction sheets in both English and Dutch.

Ever since I have started Foregone Finds I had the aim of using and reusing as much of the old and fallen apart books as possible. I never threw anything away asides from scraps. I already started a line of original paintings that I’ve used the book pages for. However, there is still so many possibilities to recycle the text from those books. That is how I came up with my mini story books!

story books from recycled paper

They are ridiculously easy to make (I will post a tutorial after the craft party is over), with a minimum of supplies needed. They can be as simple as a folded paper sheet with some writing or drawing on it or as intricate as tiny scrap books. You can make a single booklet with six pages + the cover or you can bind several booklets toegether and make a longer story. They are cute, versatile and are perfect as a little snail mail treasure. The text in this particular story book is cut from left-over pages of the old books.

Helping to host this craft party made me think back of all the crafting events I attended myself. I will admit, I was a bit nervous and stand-offish  to go. I had no idea what to expect. But since it was in my home town I forced myself to attend and had loads of fun and met many new people. Even if the workshop itself is not quite up your alley, you’ll always learn something new and there are loads of people to have a nice chat with. Above all, crafting events are great ways to establish a sense of community and to promote creativity.

I hope I’ll see you there! You can come by at any time, the workshops are given continuously from 16:30 to 19:30 at Storm Space at Swammerdamstraat 44. Other workshops hosted are:

– Make your own zpagetti from old shirts with tutorials to make bracelets with Maggie Again and heart shaped decoration with Le Chat Crochet
– Spread some joy by making your own feel good cards with Kim’s Little Monsters
– Reuse glasses and pots by painting them with Byvala

Hey everyone! Today is my 25th birthday and all in all it is a fantastic day! To explain the title: I lost my voice last night, but it’s not stopping me from talking or singing! I even did a little serenade for all the people who have congratulated me for my birthday. Listen to my rendition of Margaret’s Thank you very much; it’s pretty bad and hilarious.

Anyway, for the occasion I wanted to bake something nice. However, at the moment I’m following a keto diet. This means I can’t have many carbs and especially no sugar. This is kind of tricky, since carbs are in so many foods I love. Luckily there are many wonderful recipes and sometimes the no-no ingredients can be substituted by something else. I still browse through normal recipes as well, to save them for later when I’m not following the diet so strictly.

So there was this very yummy looking picture that came by of raspberry lemon bars. I am a professional grade cake, pie and pastry eater. My mom is an amazing cook, but her desserts are from another planet. All my life she has served me the most delicious dishes. Even so, I have never been a fan of tangy desserts. I like, no I love them sweet, sweeter, sweetest. This recipe really shouldn’t be for me, but the pictures really won me over. I needed to try them. So I substituted the flour for almond meal and coconut meal, the sugar for artificial sweeteners and cut back a bit on the butter. I also found out that I did not have any (frozen or other) raspberries present; I must have used them all for smoothies. I did have strawberries and blueberries so I used those.

strawberry blueberry lemon bars

Look at those beautiful colours!

They taste amazing! And they look so good too… And best of all: they are super easy to make, just follow the instructions and everything should come out fine. Just do not make them in a metal pan because it reacts badly with the lemon juice. One recipe should give you 16 servings. They may seem like small servings, but they are really dense and fill you right up. And a mere 120 calories a piece too! You could even add a bit of whipped cream guilt-free.

Strawberry Blueberry Lemonade Bars

adapted from The IMPROV kitchen

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 stick (125 grams) butter
1/4 c. sweetener
1/2 c. almond meal
1/2 c. coconut flour
>1 t. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the filling:
1 heaping cup frozen strawberries, thawed
1 heaping cup frozen blueberries, thawed
2 tbsp liquid sweetener or 1/2 c. sweetener
4 lemons worth of lemon juice
2 lemons worth of lemon zest
3 medium egg whites
1 meduim egg
1 c. coconut flour
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350º F (175º C). Line a non-metal baking pan, about 20 x 20 cm or 8″ x 8″, with parchment paper so you can easily lift the bars out once they’ve cooled. 

To make the crust:
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, then add in vanilla. Add flour until just incorporated. Dump dough in baking pan and press with your hands until it evenly covers the bottom of the dish.

To make the filling:
Blend the berries up in a food processor or blender. Add sugar, egg whites, egg, lemon juice + zest, flour, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for 25 – 30 minutes depending on your oven and the sized baking dish you use.

Let cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator for a few hours (or until they’ve cooled completely).

cake2

I have never used a nutritional calculator before, so this might be a tiny bit off:

16 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 121.0
  Total Fat 10.8 g
  Saturated Fat 6.5 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 3.0 g
  Cholesterol 29.1 mg
  Sodium 23.9 mg
  Potassium 94.7 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 5.5 g
  Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
  Sugars 2.4 g
  Protein 1.9 g

Lately I have become very interested in finding pen pals and send good old snail mail to each other. I guess I have Giova of One Bunting Away to thank for this. She often posts interesting projects and DIYs that are snail mail related. So I set out to find like-minded people from all over the world to exchange mail and crafts with. One thing I really wanted to do is show my new friends the city I life in.  I don’t really love Utrecht all that much, it’s too crowded for me. But that doesn’t mean the city isn’t beautiful and very diverse.

I first set out to the outskirts to show a little of the country-side and forest around Utrecht.

utrecht1

I live on the edge of Utrecht and I love it there. Right outside my building there are fields where sheep are kept. Every spring I can enjoy the little lambs running around. There are also lots and lots of rabbits where I live. They are everywhere!

utrecht2

You don’t need to bike or walk far to end up in the country side!

Now of course it’s completely different when you go towards the centre. Utrecht is an old city, so lots of old buildings.

utrecht3

This is pretty much the view in the centre. There are canals everywhere (though not as many as in Amsterdam) and the streets are narrow. Most streets are one-way only because there simply isn’t enough room for cars to pass each other!

utrecht4

The Dom Tower is seen from every side. I can even see it from my bedroom window even though the tower is over 3 km away in a straight line. It’s a great navigation point too.

utrecht5

Of course no Dutch city is without its bikes. Though the cities that are renown for having lots of students also have more bikes on average. And they are seriously everywhere! Lots of bikes end up in the canal, so I don’t dare leave my bike in the centre for more than a day. And it’s also very important to lock your bike with big chain locks.

All in all it was pretty interesting to walk through town and trying to look at the city through the eyes of someone who isn’t familiar with Dutch architecture.

I have pretty much dropped most of my activities in every day life. I haven’t updated the blog in  months and ignored my shops (though luckily I did sell a few prints and cards). I have made exactly one new artwork in 2013:

Image

I wanted to make a new custom card for my boyfriend. And it took me far too much time and energy to finish it at all in time before Valentine’s.

Basically what happened is that I had a bit of a nervous breakdown in December and am dealing with a burnout since. I’m tired every day, all day. I’m constantly stressed even without immediate deadlines.

And did I mention tired? I am so, so very tired.

I’m trying though. Very slowly I’ve been gathering creative juices and looking for inspiration everywhere. But I don’t have the energy yet. I haven’t even uploaded the new love card design yet because I don’t have the energy. And I know it is probably only 5 minutes of work. But it would take me all day.

I’m just not there yet. But I will be eventually.

Last sunday I announced a giveaway quiz where you had to guess which songs I listened to when creating my art. Unfortunately only one person entered :p (Okay, my boyfriend wanted to enter too, but I didn’t let him because he already pretty much new all the answers) But that’s okay, because Estella guessed everything right! Congrats! So for this tea story post I thought I would give some background information on my artworks.

1. Anger ScreamsBlack Strobe – I’m a man

Anger Screams

I’m a fan of Guy Richie movies. When Rock’n’Rolla came out I went to see it in the theatres. Then the next day it was on in the living room I watched it again 😛 I was really impressed with the opening sequence with the song “I’m a man” and absolutely loved the grungy style! I was really inspired and wanted to give my own twist to it.

2. Heaven is just a drop awayMuse – Knights of Cydonia

Heaven is just a drop away

I saw this amazing stock photo by M. J. Ranum that I just had to use. In the description he plead for it to not be turned into a boring angel. So I made a beer angel out of her! The Muse song was perfect to listen to when creating this piece.

3. Evolution of NatureBjörk – It’s oh so quiet

Evolution of Nature

I was participating in a long and winding competition that lasted for half a year with new submissions every week. The theme of that week was nature. I really love dandelion petals and the idea they can travel very far away and the idea just came to me.

4. The Rainbow SamuraiDJ Okawari – Bluebird story

The Rainbow Samurai

This artwork was made for the same contest and the inspiration for it all started with this tutorial. As you can see the result looks nothing like the tutorial 😛 But I really liked the retro style and the use of a toy. I used my own cat keychain and my roommate’s samurai figurine to make the final piece. The song is a real delight and I love how it’s kind of jazzy and more traditional Japanese influences.

5. AmphitriteClint Mansell – Lux Aeterna

Amphitrite

I wanted to make something grand and dramatic. There is no music more dramatic than the Lux Aeterna. I love it so! It was perfect for making this Greek goddess of the sea. I like how vector and vexel art is made with layers of shapes on top of each other. It reminds me of height maps. So I made the goddess part of the sea surface.

6. Gloria | Mando Diao – Gloria

Gloria

This was obviously the easiest one! When the song came out I was listening to it all the time. Then I saw an amazing stock photograph of a gorgeous red head with a beautiful and strong expression and I immediately thought of the song. I used a watercolour tutorial on negative space I was eager to try out and this was the result.

First of all, head over to my shops Katlix Design and Proverbial Productions and use the coupon code thanks2012 to receive free shipping on all your orders! This offer is valid until November 27th.

I don’t know about you guys, but music has always been a great source of inspiration for me. I have used it for writing short stories, creating art and even for the making of treasuries on Etsy. There is something very powerful in the way music can set the mood and influence your mood. When I’m swimming (I have an mp3 player for underwater) or riding my bicycle I love fast paced music and it makes me go even faster.

When creating artwork though, I tend to pick one song and play it over and over again to hold onto the atmosphere. This can go on for hours at a time (and usually when I am done I am sick of the song for a short while). As with sport acitivities it motivates me to keep going. I thought I’d make a little quiz for this week, to see if you can find out which artwork was inspired by which song. I am combining it with a giveaway to make it extra exciting.

Rules:
– The contest is open to everyone
– Below are 6 songs and 6 artworks, try to figure out which song has inspired which artwork. I have put in links to youtube so you can listen to the song if you don’t know it.
– Only one entry per person, your first answer counts.
– You have to be a follower of my blog, either through bloglovin’ or by signing in to follow the blog through email. Please mention you’ve done so in your comment.
– You can share this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, your blog or anywhere else, but it will not get you extra entries.
Deadline is December 1st, at 23:59 GMT + 1. The winner will be drawn randomly from the correct answers the next day and posted in my sunday tea story of December 2nd.
– If noone guesses everything correctly I will select the winner from the contestants with the most correct answers.

Prize:
On December 1st I’m going to sell my products in BoxXshop, a 180 minute christmas market full of handmade goodies and gift ideas. I am using this event as an opportunity to introduce a new line of products (stamps, notebooks and wrapping paper) as well as a new line of fancy bookmarks and framed prints. The winner of this giveaway will get a sample set of my new products! The winner will receive a notebook, a bookmark and a stationary set.

The songs:

1 – Black Strobe – I’m a man
2 – Muse – Knights of Cydonia
3 – Björk – It’s oh so quiet
4 – DJ Okawari – Bluebird story
5 – Clint Mansell – Lux Aeterna
6 – Mando Diao – Gloria

The artworks:

Evolution of nature

A – Evolution of nature

The Rainbow Samurai

B – The Rainbow Samurai

Heaven is just a drop away

C – Heaven is just a drop away

Amphitrite

D – Amphitrite

Gloria

E – Gloria

Anger Screams

F – Anger Screams