My bullet journal – Or how and why I got convinced after all

Getting organised has never been my strong side. I try, though. I start using a certain app, for example, and start creating notes and lists. But then I forget my phone at home. Or I can’t remember my login.

Up till now, the most efficient way for me was to write lists on small pieces of paper. But after a while I had so many papers with lists lying around, that I had to start making lists of what lists to complete first.

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A couple of months ago I read about bullet journals on Miss Pixie’s blog. To be honest, I was not that impressed at first. Not because I didn’t like what she was doing, but because it looked like a lot of work, which would take up a lot of my time. And wasn’t that the problem? My time management? That, and the fact that I know myself. Say I would start a bullet journal, I’d focus on it being perfect, and not so much on its content. And all the hand lettering and decorating, not really something I was good at. And then I’m not even mentioning the chocolate stains that would definitely appear. I knew that if I started a journal, and I wasn’t happy with the way it turned out, I’d just give up again. Nope. Not for me.

Fast forward to about a month ago, when a colleague told me her bullet journal helped her so much with her planning, both in her private life as in her personal life. I heard what she said, but I wasn’t really listening. I still had the image of lovely decorated booklets with perfect handwriting, and I still didn’t feel like putting any time or effort in it. So my desk remained cluttered with lists and notes.

Next fast forward, to about 2 weeks ago. Another colleague, the straight-forward-tell-it-like-it-is type mentioned how she did listen to the other colleague, and how she had started her bullet journal. A very simple version, with a future log, a monthly log, and a daily log in which she kept the top 3 tasks she needed to complete that day. That suddenly sounded very simple and straight-forward. Maybe I should check it all out?

I watched the bullet journal movie, and I discovered that you do whatever you want with your bullet journal. It doesn’t have to look perfect at all, since you can just flip a page and start over if you’re not happy. And with a baby on the way, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to try and create order in my chaotic mind (again).

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So I got cracking. I started writing lists, again. I got so obsessed to put every single idea I had in my bullet journal, that I dreamt about lists for 3 nights straight. And about organising those lists.

Two weeks in now, and there’s all kinds of things in my bullet journal. My daily planning, a week menu, baby preparations, you name it. I have the feeling I’m completely pretty much on top of my game. Partly because you can add about any type of list to your journal.

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So yes, I created a list with all of the series I’d like to watch in the coming weeks (with months of breastfeeding and sleepless nights ahead, I’ll have some couch potato time at my hands). Yes, I know, Netflix remembers what episode you’ve seen and which you haven’t for you, but still, a list. So I can check them off, which makes me feel as if I’ve completed a task, not so much lost precious time watching tv.

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Up till now, I’m a fan. I still don’t trust myself that I will maintain my journal, but we’ll see how far I get. The biggest downside so far is that I want to keep adding lists. Over-organizing, actually. I’m creating breastfeeding trackers, nappy trackers and nap trackers as we speak. In a few months, I’ll see whether it all really helped or not, and what I can still improve. And whether or not I’ll use the same method in my professional life.

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How about you? How do you get organised?

Cisse shorts

It was about time to sew some pants again, here at the Abfabulies home. I’d had the Cisse pattern from Zonen 09 lying around for quite some time now, and now was as good as ever a time to start using it.

I went on a fabric hunt in my own stash, and I found some petrol blue ribbed velvet.

Originally, I planned to sew long pants, but when it turned out that I would have to be pretty precise if I wanted to use this fabric, I chose the safe way out: a short version.

While searching for fabric, I also came by my stash of binding. The fluorescent green that I used before when I made our boy’s school backpack drew my attention, and I added some in the pockets.

Cisse - Zonen 09

And in the side seams.

Cisse - Zonen 09

And while I was at it, in the back seams as well.

Cisse - Zonen 09

In between, I also bought a Silhouette cameo. Since then, I’ve been pushing quite some heat transfer through it, but I’ll show the results of that in another post. In my heat transfer stash (really, I need to work myself through all these different stashes) I also found fluorescent green. I was starting to recognise a pattern here! I used the Cameo to cut some stars, and pressed them on.

Cisse - Zonen 09

Since 3-year olds aren’t usually that handy yet with buttons, I used elastic and jersey instead, as I had done before when I made some Jacob pants and underwear. Never change a winning team!

Cisse - Zonen 09

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any fluorescent jersey, so I took a slighly less bright green version. I attached the elastic inside the jersey to the fabric as well, to avoid that it would start curling inside afterwards. Time will tell whether that was a smart move or not.

Cisse - Zonen 09

It took me quite some time to finish these pants. I copied the pattern in February already, and I made slow progress since. Not because it’s a difficult pattern, but simply because, well, me. But I don’t regret this slow progress. In fact, taking my time resulted in more precise finishing, less mistakes being made and a better eye for details. Maybe I should work this slow every time I make something.

How about you? What does your finishing usually look like? Better not to look at the inside of the garments you make? Every stitch done perfectly? And no lying 😉

Upcycling towels – Here’s how you do that

Towels live forever, in this household. Well, almost forever, that is. The old towels that I took with me from home when I went to live on my own moved along with me through each stage in my life. Now and then, one doesn’t make it. Depending on how it ends of this one, it sometimes gets upcycled.

That’s what happened to my old Minnie Mouse towel. Once, in a past life, that towel survived many swimming classes. Once, it was white, with a very nice Minnie Mouse printed on it. Over time, it became more grey, and Minnie started to look a bit dishevelled. The edges started fraying, and it was clear Minnie wasn’t going to be able to go on much longer. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to prove this, you’ll just have to believe me (although it wouldn’t surprise me if my mum would be able to dig one up after reading this post)

Feeling only slightly melancholic, I took out scissors and ruler, and started cutting. Squares and rectangles. I overlocked the edges of each single one, and tada:

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  • 7 makeup removal pads
  • 3 cleaning rags
  • 21 cheeky wipes

And one added example of cutting up a towel with print? You can always claim it’s a puzzle afterwards.

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How about you? What happens to your towels when they start fraying? Do you recycle them, or do they go somewhere else?

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Operation Save Our Sofa – Mission completed

I finally did it. I finished repairing the sofa. And it ‘only’ took me about 2 years.

Previously, on Operation Save Our Sofa

When we had only just started renovating our house, I accidentally got two sofas, free of charge. We used them for a couple of years, but then the fabric started to wear out. At that point, I decided to make a new cover for both of them, instead of buying a new one.

I started with the pillows, and I added piping, using Oontje’s tutorial. After that, it was time for the cushions. First the ones from the smaller sofa, then those of the larger sofa. And then it got quiet.

Where did it end?

I finished the cover for the smaller sofa first. When hubby, who had had his doubts about the whole project, saw the results, he realised upcycling has quite some benefits, and that we could use these sofas for a whole lot longer before we would have to buy a new one. He got so convinced, that he decided to cut one of the arm rests off, so that we could turn two sofas into one corner sofa.

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To be honest, when I saw him arrive with hammer and saw and started ripping the fabric of the arm rest, I may have thought we might end up having to run to Ikea after all.

But hey, it worked, and we now have a corner sofa, with a new cover. Who would have thought we’d ever see the end of this?

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In theory, I should make one extra cushion, to cover the part where the armrest has disappeared. But it’s a perfect match for one of the Ikea pillows we had lying around. And our boy loves to nest himself in that tiny spot. So for now, I’ll just leave it as it is.

And what have we learned?

This is one of those projects you do once, and never again. Please remind me of this should I ever have an idea like this again.

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How about you? Do you ever start a project and afterwards wonder what you were thinking? Or do you know yourself a lot better than I know myself?

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Spiderman glittens

The dragon era at the Abfabulies house has passed. I no longer have a full-time knight in the house, he started working part-time. And the time that was freed up, is now filled with Spiderman.

I honestly don’t know where this new love comes from. Here at home, we’ve never watched Spiderman. Still, our little boy does know him. And admires him.

When it turned out that the dragon paws I made last winter had become too small, I didn’t have to look far to find some new inspiration. Spiderman glittens. Based on my own favourite: the hop-on-hop-off mittens.

spiderman glittens

I used red yarn for both glittens. This time, I went for fingerless all the way. The dragon paws had separate fingers, but that only made it harder to get them on, so this time, no fingers. I sewed the black lines on afterwards.

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And each cap got a Spiderman eye.

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That way, our little boy can change into his alter ego whenever he feels like it.

spiderman glittens

Since preschoolers have quite a talent of losing anything that keeps them warm during winter and I’ve spent plenty of time walking about school in search of a scarf and/or hat, I also made a cord, so they can hang in his jacket.

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I really should make one of those for myself too, it would make it so much easier.

How do you keep your hands warm? Classic gloves, cozy mittens, or groovy glittens?

2016: New Year resolutions and a sweater or 3

2015 has closed its door behind us for more than a week now, and, to be honest, I don’t miss it one bit. Not that 2015 didn’t bring any fun, on the contrary, but still. Just when I thought I would boost my own – and hoping I’d boost some of yours as well – positivity, both hubby and myself saw slightly more of the hospital than we would have wanted to. So, less blog posts here during that time, I wasn’t really in a writing mood. I did knit a lot during that time, as some of you may have noticed on Instagram.

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So 2015 did end on a positive note, and I managed to finish not 1, not 2, but 3 sweaters in all!

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The first one was the dino sweater, and I mentioned that one already in my previous post.

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I finished my own Christmas sweater 2 days before the deadline.

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And I finished hubby’s sweater (that had been cast aside for a few weeks so I could focus on my own sweater – selfish knitting!) just before 2015 ended. Yay!

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As of now, we tend to have a self-knitted-sweater day now and again with the whole family. Who’s with us?

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Anyway, the 2015 door has been sealed forever, and everyone in this house is once again healthy. 2016’s door is wide open. And does it have any resolutions on its door step? Well yes. Small ones. Things I would like to do, and not so much things I want to force myself to do, if you get what I mean.

So, what do I want to do then?

  • Eat less sugar. Really. And if I fail to do so one day, I’ll just start again the next day.
  • Take up running again. I’ve been trying to do so for 2 years now, and I just don’t seem to get past the lesson 21 – lesson 24 infinite loop of start to run. This year, I really should. I’ll feel better for it.
  • Take more time for myself. I’ll start working 80% as of February. We’ll see what that does for me.
  • Live now, and stop focussing on everything I still have to do.

I’m not sure yet what effect this will have on the blog. Last year I started with the resolution to write every week, but in the end, it brought some stress with it. So I’ll just see what 2016 brings. I hope you won’t mind.

How about you? Big resolutions? Small resolutions? No resolutions?

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Our own Jurassic World – The dino sweater

Knitting is something I do in frenzies. Sometimes I don’t touch the needles for months, sometimes it takes me months before I can put them down again. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of the latter. In an attempt to get through the ever-growing stash I dug up some yarn. Then I tried to match a pattern to that yarn. A children’s sweater. One with some fair isle work.

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I left the orginal chart for what it was, and replaced it with dinosaurs that I drew myself. It’s amazing what you can achieve with some checkered paper and google images. Although next time I should make sure to use an A4 notebook, instead of messing around with A5.

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Dinosaurs. Brachiosaurus for the front and back, stegosaurus for one sleeve, and a triceratops for the other sleeve.

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In case it’s not clear yet: dinosaurs are part of the daily routine here. If it was up to our little boy, there would also be a T-rex and a pterodactyl on this sweater, but I was lacking the space. Grow, little man (not too fast, though!).

The sweater pattern is rather simple. It’s a straight body, and there’s hardly any shaping that needs to be done for the sleeves. The result: a very high eighties vibe.

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I made size 4, but in hindsight, size 6 would have been a better choice. The sweater is rather short. Doable, but our boy will have to wear a longer shirt underneath it. Guess that adds a high seventies vibe as well.

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According to the pattern, both shoulder seams needed to be finished with buttons for this size. Now, I know that babies and toddlers have rather big heads, but that big that they would need the full width of both shoulder seams to get their heads through, that seems a bit much. So I only used buttons on one side, and I sewed the seams on the other side. Snowman buttons, since I didn’t have (the patience to go and buy) any dinosaur buttons.

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I’m pretty satisfied with the result. Sure, a larger size would have been better. And yes, it is very obvious this is a self-made sweater. But that just adds to the nostalgic feeling.

How about you? Do you only knit during the autumn and winter months, or do you knit the whole year through? Or do you only use knitting needles to scratch your back?

An owl backpack for Jules

A couple of weeks ago, Jules the class doll came over to spend the weekend with us. Our boy was very happy about that. I a bit less. I’m not that fond of class dolls, to be honest. They tend to bring some Sunday evening stress.

Sunday evenings are not my best time, to be honest. The trash needs to be put outside, the week needs to be prepared, stuff needs to be put ready, and there’s quite some laundry to get through. Add a class doll diary session to that list, with pictures, and I go a tiny bit crazy. You see, most of the time, it’s only at that point in time that I suddenly come to the conclusion that we are very low on printer ink, that for some reason my pictures are not syncing to the cloud, or that the photo paper has been curled up for quite some time and simply does not want to go in that printer (if I’m lucky enough to have some photo paper lying around). While I’m trying to solve these problems, I hear the minutes ticking by, laughing at me, pointing it out that I will be losing sleep over this, and that the alarm will sound loud and clear in the morning.

But anyway, it was our turn to drag Jules along. And our boy did like that. So when we went out to get some new shoes, Jules joined us. All dressed up, we left for the city centre.

When we parked our bikes, Jules was still wearing his backpack. When we arrived at the shoe store, he wasn’t anymore. An immediate search party could not save us, the backpack was gone. Did I mention that Jules’ cuddly toy was in that backpack? I could feel the Sunday evening stress coming up already, even though it was Saturday. How on earth was I going to explain this to the teacher? How was I going to compensate?

So I started sewing a new backpack. And because Jules is the class doll for the owl class, I decided to make an owl theme out of it.

The concept of the backpack is simple: a string bag.

Uiltjesrugzak voor Jules

Uiltjesrugzak voor Jules

Straps on the back.

Uiltjesrugzak voor Jules

And a flap with an owl head.

Uiltjesrugzak voor Jules

I added a kamsnaps button, but I fear that wasn’t a good idea. I don’t think the fabric will be strong enough to cope with toddler strenght. Fingers crossed.

And the cuddly toy? That was replaced by a little owl. I still had a few of those lying around.

Uiltjesrugzak voor Jules

Do you ever have the class doll over as a guest? If so, how do you deal with it?

The #boostyourpositivitychallenge – My morning routine

You may have noticed it on several blogs and Instagram already #Boostyourpositivity time. One of the challenges: share your morning routine. In my case, I have 3:

  • One for office days
  • One for homeworking days
  • One for the weekend (although that’s not even a routine)

Office day routine

  • 6.00: Alarm goes off. No snoozing on office days, get out of bed immediately.
  • 6.01: Bathroom time: shower, clothes, hair, make-up and teeth. At super speed.
  • 6.20: Grab things together, get out of the house, and start riding that bike.
  • 6.33: Get to station, hope that the train is on time (or late when I’m late). Try to cover the distance between the back of the bike stand to the platform on the opposite side of the station as dast as I can.
  • 6.38: Train leaves. At this time, it’s still pretty quiet, and most of the time I have a 4-seater spot to myself. Stretch, read newspaper, eat breakfast. As quietly as possible, since nothing is more soothing than a sleeping train carriage.
  • 7.20: Arrive in Brussels (if the train’s on time) and walk to the office.
  • 7u3.: Arrive in the office. Turn on computer, get some tea, and enjoy the silence.

This morning routine is the most strict one, for which each minute counts. Each detail can cause a delay. So I try to prepare these mornings as much as I can the evening before. Food, clothes, bag, everything is in the right spot, so I just need to grab in the morning. Even my bike lights are premounted the night before. The only way to get any quicker, is to go to sleep with my clothes on 😉 I do fear winter, since more clothes will without doubt lead to more minutes needed to get dressed. Maybe I should invite in a foldable scooter, so I can gain some minutes when getting from one side of the station to the other.

To make this all work, I also cheat. On office days, I leave the morning routing with kid to my husband. To make up for this a bit, I do put our boy’s clothes ready in the evening. At that time, I let our boy ‘choose’ his own clothes. I offer him 2 choices for each piece of clothing, and he picks what he wants. That way I can still influence how clothes are combined, and I avoid that my husband ends up with a boy who refuses to wear what’s been picked out. Win-win.

So why do I choose to go for a routine this strict? I like the early train. It’s quiet, it’s not packed. It takes me to the office early, allowing me to start quietly, and to get going before my colleagues arrive. Have I mentioned how much I love peace and quiet? On top of that, starting early also allows me to go home early, so I can spend some extra time with my 2 favourite men.

Home working days

About once per week, I work from home. I really need a day like that to break my week, since I cannot cope 5 days in a row using the routine described above. It goes without saying that the routine on home working days is slightly more relax:

  • 7.00: Alarm goes off the first time.
  • 7.09: Alarm goes off a second time
  • 7.18: Alarm goes off a third time. Conversation with hubby:
    • Me: What time do you get up again?
    • Hubby: About now. Or later.
    • Me: Do you get to school in time then?
    • Hubby: Sure. Kind of.
    • Me: Shouldn’t we get up?
    • Hubby: Mmmmm.
  • 7.20: Get up, eventually. Wake up our boy. Get down for breakfast.
  • 7.40: Tell our boy to get on with it. Does he have to sit on the potty that long? (Yes). Can I at least put on his clothes while he’s on there? (No). Meanwhile, hubby prepares the schoolbag.
  • 8u: Both men are ready to leave and jump on the bike. Depending on the number of times I hit snooze earlier, I either am dressed and switch on the computer, or I quickly shower, and turn on the computer 15 minutes later. Have some tea, and enjoy the silence of the home office.

The weekend

I’m a lazy bum who likes to stay in bed as long as possible. Especially after a week of strict morning routines. ‘Long’, is relative, of course. With child, I’m glad when it’s already 8 am before the first eyes open in this house. Although, sometimes they turn out to be mine. Most of the time, our boy jumps into bed with us, and we goof around a while.

We usually have breakfast around 8.30 – 9.00. In pyjamas. And we stay in pyjamas for as long as we can, depending on the duties of the day. Turns out our boy has the same pyjama monster gene as I have. Who doesn’t want to hang around in pyjamas all day?

That’s all of them. How about you? Strict routines, or pretty chaotic? And are you taking part in the #boostyourpositivity challenge?