Wednesday, 14 August 2013

DIY Ministry of Silly walks clock

I found this Monty Python clock on Pinterest and thought it was the best post. I was delighted when I found out there was a complete 'how-to-make' on the internet. Thank you so much Susanne for sharing how to make it. You can see Susanne´s tutorial on how to make your own Silly walks clock here.

If you do try to make it you won´t be disappointed. It was really easy and the result is great. I am chuffed to bits with my own silly walks clock.

Thanks so much for taking a peak at the silly walks clock.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

You can knit a sweater by the fireside ...

Sunday mornings, go for a ride.

This was the first (and the last) post I wrote on my old literature blog. I found it so difficult to write about literature, about books, about songs, for I didn't want it to become a lecture, but I also didn't want it to be just my opinion. I decided that on this blog, I would give it another try, starting the new with the old.

The first literature post on this blog must start with instant literary happiness, of the kind that can only be brought by the Beatles. When I feel sad, for instance when I think about the chances of getting a job for graduates in the Netherlands (and in many places in Europe), I can put on a Beatles song and it seems as though for a moment, everything is much better. I will, in time, find a job in a library (just like the one Matilda visits in her Roald Dahl book) or a museum or a book store and work with kind colleagues, or perhaps be a writer, or start a bed and breakfast with a vegetable patch and chickens in the garden, or make a dream come true and start my own design shop, in which I can sell the things I make. I like thinking that way, and I believe the Beatles must have thought that way, for them being able to evolve and adapt so many different styles and moods. I'm not always able to think this way, sometimes a slight panic enters and I think, what am I doing with my life? Studying one of the subjects least likely to ever get you employed. No job, no house, no bed and breakfast, no shop. But then I listen to the Beatles and the panic goes (almost) as quickly as it came, and I think, yes, why shouldn't I be a paperback writer? And while at it, I will find a sweet husband and we will do the garden together, digging for weeds, as the chickens come looking for any worms that might come up.

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

oo oo oo oo oo oo oo oooo
You'll be older too, (ah ah ah ah ah)
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

I could be handy mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride.

Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck, and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view.
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, Wasting Away.

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Be mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

If you happen to stumble into this post, please do leave your thoughts.

(Update: I have a job as a secretary now, for which I am very grateful, but I am still dreaming. This blog, however, is a good start).

Monday, 5 August 2013

Starting your own business


I have been dreaming of my own Ella&Louis shop for a while now, thinking about what I would make, where I would make it, what materials I would need and how I would put the 'how-to-make' on the blog. Thinking being the operative word here, it never really seemed to develop beyond that stage. Inspired by other people who were/ are living dreams, such as Julia Child and Julie Powell (I watched Julie&Julia yet again) Garance Doré, Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman (a beautiful mess) and creativity deity Pharrell Williams, I felt I was a creativity/ living your dream nitwit, miles away from any Pharrellness. 'But Julia Child wasn't always Julia Child'. I simply had to start, just start and work hard and see where it goes. So I did, yesterday I contacted the 'Brouwmeesters', the people who have started a 'company-collective-building for the making industry' in Nijmegen, our lovely city. I am really excited about sharing a building with other creative people starting their own company and really hope this works out. It not working out is just not an option. I will keep you posted and hopefully I will acquire the tiniest bit of Pharrellness, so I can inspire others to take the plunge as well.


Well done, the last post was over a year ago, so there was little 'just doing it' and more 'just postponing it'. However, Ella & Louis (or officially Jacoba Wilhelmina Maria, thanks to the Dutch chamber of commerce) is taking shape! The Smeltkroes is it's new home, a lovely and inspiring place, filled with creativity. I'm setting up house in room 10, the big, empty, sad middle part is mine:

On the first day of these 5 weeks off, I ordered my new Ikea table (yes, I can be proud of myself, ordering an Ikea table while sharing my room with a skilled cabinet maker). The truck driver couldn't find the Honig factory and when he did arrive, brought 4 table-legs and three iron things to attach them to the table, so I can start sewing as long as I mind the balance when placing things on the table (nonchalantly leaning on the table when talking to someone, not an option).

Well, the table is there (almost), my sewing machine is there, the Smeltkroes is a reality now. Even this first part of starting Ella & Louis/ JWM (looks kind of nice, they are my Christian names, the names of my grandmothers (and the virgin Mary, Catholic tradition being what it is), so maybe it will be a good thing, keeping the name) feels like a dream come true. I could feel it cycling back to the old part of the city after my first day in the Smeltkroes, a physical happiness, almost like your skin is tingling.

A dream come true it may be, a lot of work lies ahead. Last week was 4-daagse week, best week of the year in Nijmegen, so this week will be the week to get off to a running start. There are the practical things, such as deciding what to make first (I would really like to start with tote bags, love them, with folk embroidery), designing a logo (would love to have my own logo and embroider it on my tote bags), and investing time in making this visible online. Furthermore, there are more fundamental issues, such as constructing the identity of Ella & Louis/ JWM (maybe starting with deciding on the name), thinking about how to incorporate English literature (what I would really like to do) and creating the foundation for a strong label. It will be a long (and maybe bumpy) process, but I am convinced that it will work. I don't necessarily want to quote Ella Fitzgerald again, but it's intertwined with the start of everything:

Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there's love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.

Well, doing it, I suppose, trying it, which is exciting and a bit scary as well. 
I will keep you posted.


If you want to know about the delicate (really,it wasn't at all) process behind the design of my logo, click here.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

DIY Book Tote - Sherlock Holmes

This is the first tote bag in the series of the Book Totes project. Having studied literature, after graduating, I always wanted to do something more with the books I had read. Incorporating your favourite books in your DIY projects is a fun way to keep in touch.

Sherlock Holmes would have to be the first. Not only is it a classic tale, but Sherlock also has a great visual strength, with his characteristic hat and pipe. Furthermore, the wonderful BBC series Sherlock has driven me right into a Sherlock frenzy also strengthened my fascination with Sherlock Holmes.

I first cut out the front and the back of the tote in a fabric I thought would suit Sherlock. I made mine 48 by 40 cm because I wanted it to be big enough to fit everything when cycling around town.

The next step is to choose your image, draw the outline on the fabric and embroider with a basic stitch. Easy as pie! I like that the embroidery is simple but at the same time shows your handiwork.
Finally sew your tote together and add the handles.

 Enjoy your Book Tote! I am chuffed to bits that I can take my homemade bag to work (and can use it to carry my groceries on my way home in the evening as well).

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Vintage finds - Arcopal France

I'd like to share with you another world that harbours vintage treasure, named Arcopal. It's a twin of yesterday's post about JAJ Pyrex. Arcopal is even called the French Pyrex (probably not by the French). Once you delve deeper into this world of vintage tableware, many things appear to be either Pyrex or Arcopal. Look in your cupboard at home, you probably already own some Pyrex or Arcopal! I have found pictures on Pinterest (they are made by Nana Odile, thank you so much for doing this!) that show the Arcopal patterns, do you recognize any of them?

Today, I went to my favourite charity shop in an old school building in Ewijk. (When I was little and lived in Ewijk, my best friend went to that school). There is an oak cabinet in one of the classrooms and it is full of old casseroles. My best hopes on finding the beautiful Arcopal patterns to put on display in my future Etsy shop were in that cabinet. It didn't let me down, I have found some pretty pieces to add to the collection! It's so much fun to look up the patterns in the pattern-overview above.

You have probably seen this one in the charity shops, it's called 'Veronica' and has a pattern of little blue forget-me-nots, so pretty.

 This 'Fruits de France' pattern was well represented in the oak cabinet! I found a bowl, a stack of plates and a butter dish.


It's such a shame these patterns are listed under the 'unknown floral patterns'. Does anyone know what these patterns are called? Even if you're not sure, any help is welcome! I didn't even realize the last bowls, which were in our cupboard already, were Arcopal until I recognized the pattern in the pattern images, quelle surprise.

Thanks so much for reading!



Friday, 2 August 2013

Vintage finds - JAJ Pyrex

What better way to start the vintage finds posts than with JAJ Pyrex, the cherished British tableware with the wide range of colourful seventies patterns. J.A. Joblings started producing Pyrex tableware in Sunderland in 1922. With their heat resistant glass and beautiful patterns, Pyrex casseroles could go from the oven, straight on the dinner table. This caused for a huge success and Pyrex is still going strong today. Luckily, the Dutch charity shops are a goldmine when you want to scavenge for hidden Pyrex. This is the casserole loot, which shows some of the best known JAJ Pyrex patterns.

JAJ Pyrex patterns are known for their seventies colours and their fruit, vegetable and flower designs.
This flower pattern is called 'Indiana'.

This is one of the JAJ Pyrex vegetable patterns. What makes it special is the inclusion of the wine bottle and the wineglass, which make it a festive pattern. Not surprisingly, the pattern is called 'Fiesta'.

This pattern is a classic vegetable pattern. The design is simple and the colours are so pretty. The pattern is called 'Kent'.

 The last pattern is a pattern I find a bit unlike the other Pyrex patterns because of the finely detailed rose. It would be right at home amongst the French Arcopal vintage rose patterns. However, it is Pyrex and the pattern carries the beautiful name 'June Rose'.

I am planning on opening my very own Etsy shop to sell my vintage Pyrex finds. However, it is not ready to open yet, for the stock has to be Etsy worthy and consist of many vintage treasures and homemade items (like the Sgt. Pepper pepper mill I plan on posting soon!).

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Make your own golden bumblebee wallpaper

Something had to give. 25 m² with too much stuff, all much loved, but put together they formed a great mess. My room in Nijmegen was a cacophonous clutter, consisting of carefully scavenged treasures from flee markets and charity shops. The big golden pigeon, the most cherished find from the charity shop, deserved a whiter canvas to shine. The collection of small figurines, paintings, stools, cushions and vintage cans had to make room for something else, what that something else should be, had to be decided after the big clearance. After getting over the petty idea that my room did not feel like my room without all the stuff, I decided the big empty wall would be my yellow brick road towards a more simple, mature and Pinterest worthy room. Pinterest turned out to be full of inspiring ideas for a 'statement wall'. Especially the 'stencil wall' was very appealing; it had many possibilities, was easy to make and furthermore, it was very inexpensive. 'A beautiful mess', queen amongst the DIY blogs, featured a stencil wall with horses.

DIY Stenciled Statement Wall (by A Beautiful Mess)

This is the horse stencil wall from Elsie's own home (visit their blog, you won't be disappointed, it's full of inspiring DIY and great photo's). The wall looks great, the pattern is easily adjustable to your own wishes and it is very inexpensive. For my wall, I have chosen to make a bumblebee pattern and instead of using stencils, I have used paper bumblebees.

Make your own wallpaper:

You need

- a shape to use on your wall. I have drawn a bumblebee using an example I found on the internet.
- paper from which to cut your pattern. I have used golden wrapping paper (€ 2.95 for 4 sheets, I have used 2 sheets). If you are not sure of the quality of the paper you want to use, test it by Mod Podging it to a piece of cardboard.
- Mod Podge
- adhesive tape
- scissors
- a brush


1 - Choose the colour of your wall. My wall was a light colour which I thought would go well with the golden bumblebees. If you want a different colour for your wallpaper, choose a nice shade of wallpaint.

2 - Choose the shape you want to use for your pattern. I really like the bumblebee, but you can choose any shape you like. Do keep in mind that, depending on the size of your wall, you may have to cut out your shape 50 times or more. So don't make it too complicated, or commit to a lot of cutting.

3 - Stick your bumblebees to the wall using a bit of tape so you can still move them if the pattern is crooked.

4 - Use Mod Podge, the liquid gold on Pinterest, to glue your shapes on the wall. Mod Podge has helped this project a lot. It does not only glue the shapes on the wall perfectly, but also provides a perfect finish. If you have never used Mod Podge, do not get startled by the white layer when you apply it, it will dry quickly, leaving a transparent finish.



I am really pleased with my bumblebee wall. It goes well with the rest of my room and makes for one big statement instead of dozens of little figurines and pillows.

The pigeon has gotten an honorary place on the big table.

Thanks a bunch for reading this post, let me know if you have any questions or any ideas, I would love to hear them.

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