Lovely Autumn Moments

Hello everybody!

We had a short but nice trip today and decided to take a detour to a river. It’s the Aliakmonas River (the longest river in Greece). According to Wikipedia “the name Αλιάκμονας is composite and derives from άλς (salt, sea) and άκμων (anvil). In Greek mythology Haliakmon was one of the Potamoi, who were sons of Oceanus and Tethys, according to the allegorical obsessive-anthropomorphic concept familiar to the Ancient Greeks, on geological upheaval after Deucalion’s deluge.”

I wanted to take this route for a long time and thought that this time of year it would be stunning. And it was! So I wanted to share a few pictures I shoot with you! Enjoy!

bench autumn fall leafs
A bench and it’s leafs
fall autumn tress
Fall tress
fall leaf path
I love this picture with the path, leafs and autumn trees!
fall river
The River Aliakmonas
fall stone path river
The stony path to the river Aliakmonas
fall trees
Another path to the river and nature’s carpet as my little girl said
fall yellow leafs
Beautiful tall tree with yellow leafs
red autumn sunset
For the ending a dramatic sky at sunset
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Visiting the Dinosaur Park

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Last Saturday we made a trip to the new Dinosaur Exhibition in Thessaloniki with our kids and friends. I shoot a lot of pictures, and so I wanted to share with you our experience!

dinosaur park
Dinosaur park entrance sign

The place the exhibition was set up is the same place where the International Fair of Thessaloniki takes place. We arrived there just a little too late (as always) but since there were many people as late as we, they did let us in. At first it was not that impressive and we grown-ups did had second thought about whether it would be worth the money spent. But the kids were all super-excited and looking forward to see the dinosaurs, so we waited in line to get the tickets and get started.

t-rex pic
A picture of the T-Rex in the ticket room. It was part of a huge wall-puzzle

Once inside, you could see some dinosaur skeletons and interesting fossils. A guide began to talk about the dinosaur era to the kids and then took us to another room, which was a black light room (so everybody with white clothes was lit up…) and we had a “time travel” experience. Well, at least that was the plan, but unfortunately there was some techniqual problems and we didn’t experience it, ha! But, time travel is a difficult thing, after all! We managed though to move on to the main exhibition area, where they had all the life-sized dinosaur replicas and that was where the fun really began!

stars
They used a cool star light background for an atmospheric touch

The kids where loosing it over how big the dinosaurs where, and since they had motion added to the replicas, they really looked alive! Our guides would tell a story for each dinosaur, describe it in form of a fun tale and incorporate many interesting information into the stories, along with some funny points. It was really entertaining, both for kids and adults!

triceratops
The impressive Triceratops

After seeing many of the dinosaurs, we ended up seeing the king of them all, the T-Rex! 6 meters tall and 14 meters long!! Well, you wouldn’t want to meet this guy ever! Although, you might be able to dodge him, given how small we are compared to him!

t-rex
The huge Tyrannosaurus Rex. Check out how small my otherwise tall hubby looks!

All in all, there were about 25-26 robotic dinosaurs displayed and all where explained to us by three different guides. At the end of the tour, there was a “living” tree waiting for the kids (another robot), which told them a story about trees, nature and dinosaurs.

karnosauros
The scary Karnosaur

Lastly, we were guided to a room where the kids were able to be paleontologists for a brief moment, trying on a safety hat and digging around in a sand pit filled with “dinosaur bones”. They had a little party and were given a “paleontology diploma”. After that, you could buy some souvenirs or a picture of your kid on a special dinosaur displayed there!

All in all, it was a really informative and fun experience, especially for the kids, of course! They had a great time, learned a lot, and got to see their friends, too! What more can a kid (or a parent for that matter) ask for?

 

DIY Easy Canvas Art Project with Painters Tape for Kids

While I am not the most artistic person, I try to keep my kids creative and so I am always searching for some easy art projects, especially on rainy days. One project I liked specifically, was painting a canvas using paint and painters tape. It is really easy, and the results are great! You can choose whatever colors you think will complement your home or use metallic colors for vibrant art work. The possibilities are endless.

painters tape diy canvas art
Painters tape diy canvas art

You will need:

  • Paint brushes
  • Various paint colors
  • Painters tape
  • Canvas

You can begin either by painting your canvas with a base color and leave it to dry or leaving the canvas plain white. Tape pieces of painters tape in any way you want, covering the canvas edge to edge. You can keep it symmetrical, geometrical or just chaotic.

painters tape star canvas art
Painters tape star canvas art

Next, choose your colors and paint each distinctive part in the color you want. The paint will help you keep the edges clean, but try not to get into other parts of the canvas. Let it dry completely and carefully remove the painter’s tape. And voila! There you have it: a great, easy, handmade piece of art!

painters tape heart canvas art
Painters tape heart canvas art

My kids loved the outcome and they wanted me to make some simple shapes with painter’s tape, so I made the first letter of their name, a star and a heart…

Painters tape kids canvas art
Painters tape kids canvas art

I think they turned out quite nice! And they look great on their wall, too! And if you are more talented than me in arts, here are a few projects from Pinterest that really look professional!

diy canvas art
DIY canvas art (image source)
Canvas diy steps
Canvas diy steps (image source)
canvas diy metallic
Canvas art with metallic background (image source)

How To Make Easy Star Wars Pinatas and more ideas for a Star Wars Themed Birthday Party!!!

So, my son is one of the biggest Star Wars fans I know. He has a huge collection, and so it was a given that he would have a Star Wars Birthday Party. For two years in a row! I am going to write about those two parties, what we prepared to keep our guests (and us!) entertaint and I have to admit, we had a blast both times!

When I think about making pinatas, I always think that I can’t make one that is cute or with a character I like… for example, I could in no way allow kids to hit Yoda or another Yedi, pinata or not! So, when the time came to decide on the pinatas, we had these two ideas: the first one was a very easy Death Star Pinata and the second one a slightly more complicated but still easy Darth Vader Pinata.

Easy Death Star Pinata How-to

All you will need for this pinata is a white round paper lamp shade (I bought mine from IKEA), a piece of cardboard, grey spray paint, black marker, some fishing line or other kind of string and of course candy!!!

diy death star pinata
DIY Death Star Pinata

Assemble the lamp shade per instructions. Cover the bottom hole with a small piece of cardboard (secure with some tape). Go outside and spray paint the whole thing grey (if you find a grey lamp shade, by all means, buy that if you want, and just skip spray painting it!). With the black marker, add a few features (rectangles to the lampshade so it’s resembles to the Death Star. Fill the Death Star carefully with candy. Since it is made out of paper, take care not to overfill it or else it will bend or even rip. Add the string to the wire on top of the Death Star for hanging. All you need now is a stick and children to hit the pinata and get all the bounty!!!

Darth Vader Pinata How-to

To make this Pinata we really simply followed the image – steps from mini.reyve.fr  adapting it slightly since I didn’t want a string pulled pinata. You will need a cardboard box (I use a cereal box or use some thicker cardboard), painters or other tape, craft glue and black crepe paper and a Darth Vader Mask Template. Print the Darth Vader Mask Template in a size that will suit you and your box and use it to cut the back and front of the box so they resemble the shape of the mask (you will end up with two mask-shaped cardboard pieces). Don’t worry too much about details, they will most likely get lost when you’ll add the fringes. Use the box’s sides or cut out a few 4″ wide strips (the longer the better) to use them to connect the two mask-shaped pieces to each other. To do that, you will need to use the adhesive tape like shown in the pictures from the blog, that is kind of the most tricky part, especially at the beginning. Don’t forget to fill your pinata with goodies before sealing it completely. Also, remember to use some string or rope to make a loop for hanging your pinata on top. When you have finished with the cardboard pinata, it is time to decorate it. Cut out 2” wide strips of the crepe paper and cut fringes into them. Try to make them as long as they need to be to cover the pinata from end to end in each row, so the result will be nicer looking. Now, with patience, glue all the strips onto the cardboard. Repeat on the back and the sides. This is the most time-consuming step for making the pinata, but it is a rather fun process. Lastly, cut out the Darth Vader mask highlights from your template and glue them to the front of your pinata. We painted Darth Vader’s eyes red, for a fierce result! Didn’t it turn out great?

diy darth vader pinata
DIY Darth Vader pinata

To make the invitation, I used the Star Wars Crawl Creator and finding the story to tell was so totally fun! For the rest of our first party I prepared green Yoda plates for the cake (just green plates where I attached some green Yoda ears I cut out with a stapler), a softball target shoot game (took an old big carton, painted the whole thing black, glued some rocket stickers and then we just cut out different sized circles, glued some Star Wars Villains on the circles for targets), a “Pin the lightsaber on the Yedi” game and we gave out  foam swords for everybody after the “Jedi Training”.

target game yoda plates
Target game and Yoda plates

At the end we did even have Darth Vader invade our party to steal the birthday cake, but fortunately all of our Yedi friends fought him off and so we could eat the cake after all!!! It was really fun and all of our guests and the birthday boy had a blast! The second party’s highlight was our Darth Vader Pinata of course, which did need to take a lot of hits before it released it’s bounty, being a true Darth Vader Pinata…

Using this same technique you can make virtually any Pinata you can think of… I for one am looking forward to making the next – girly this time – Birthday Pinata 🙂

 

Beach Craft Idea: Framed Sea Glass Dolphin

Finally, the beach treasures we gathered have all found their destination. Sea shells became a wonderful heart, our cute heart stones were put on display, and lastly, the sea glass pieces we gathered did find what they where supposed to become… it was rather hard to find out, I have to admit! But now I understand something I often heard or read about, when somebody would find something and just pick it up saying: “I’ll figure out later what I want to do with that!”.

brown sea glass
We found a wonderful sea glass piece… and held it up in front of the blue sky and bright sun of Greece

Well, that’s exactly what happened with the sea glass pieces. They were odd shaped and in different sizes, nothing I would do with them would look close to something good. Especially the two biggest pieces were giving me a headache. I washed them, put them in vinegar to loose some of the salt and shined them with a little baby oil as good as I could.

sea glass pieces
So many pieces of sea glass in different colors, shapes and sizes… what can somebody do with them?

I saw some ideas on Pinterest… they made super-cute seahorses, trees or flowers with them, but to do something like that I would need much more pieces and more uniform ones… and then suddenly I realised that, putting the two big pieces together, they would resemble a big fish tail… but what kind of fish? Maybe a shark? Or a dolphin? My kids went for the dolphin and slowly it really all came together! All of the sea shell parts seemed to belong in a certain dedicated spot. The fins, the beak and the eye, they were all there. I really was impressed.

Framed sea glass dolphin
Our framed sea glass dolphin

And I think that the result is really cute and they make a great themed set.

beach craft ideas framed sea treasures
Our three framed beach craft ideas

The three frames found their place above my kids’ desk… As I said before, the most important thing with these projects is that we gathered all pieces with my family and that they remind us of a beautiful summer! I for one, love them, and so do the little ones!!!

Beach Craft Idea: Framed Sea Shell Heart

 

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Time for my second summer project idea I had in mind this year: Framed Sea Shell Heart! It is super easy to make, just as my previous project I wrote about (Beach Craft Idea: DIY Framed Heart Shaped Stones). The only thing I did different is that I used a painted background I had laying around and it did fit into the frame so nice! I thought it was perfect as I used blue, green and white acrylic paints to paint it on a small canvas as I was thinking of the ocean.

I arranged the sea shells so they would create the outline of a heart, and I added one sea shell to each corner of the frame. Everything was glued in place with the silicon gun.

 

beach craft framed sea shell heart
Beach craft idea: framed sea shell heart

I really love the end result! It totally complements the other beach themed frame. Now I only need to make the third and final frame with sea glass… I really don’t have any idea right now, since the pieces we found are not that smooth and beautiful. But, the ultimate goal here is to create something that will remind us of the summer that has past, so perfection is not what I seek! What I love most about these project is the excitement in my kids’ eyes when they saw the outcome and the fact that they both pointed to the specific items they found by themselves. I think that is irreplaceable, what do you!!!

 

Beach Decor Idea: DIY Framed Heart Stones

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While summer is coming to its end – slowly here in Greece, thankfully – I am starting to implement some ideas I had before we started going to the beach. I love beach decor in houses and I saw some super cute heart shaped craft ideas on Pinterest that were perfect to make with the kids. I thought that they would make some great summer keepsakes as well.

framed beach heart stones
Framed beach heart stones

I am not that much of a swim-in-the-sea person but I just love days at the beach. I spend most of the time – when I am not enjoying the sun and sound of the ocean – walking along the beach and looking for things worth picking up. Such things are mainly sea glass pieces, heart-shaped rocks, sea shells, driftwood and so on. My son comes along when he is not in the sea playing, as he is a collector of all things rare and special! So we managed to gather a few pieces and they are just enough to make the things I wanted. Here is how to make the first of the super easy summer crafts I was going for: Framed Heart Stones.

The most time-consuming part is finding some nice pebbles in shape of a heart, naturally. My sweet boy always comes running to give me his hearts as soon as he finds them (and of course my heart melts every single time he does it). And I make sure to give both of my kids a couple of heart stones when I find some. So we ended up with nine colorful heart stones, perfect for our craft idea.

Heart shaped pebbles
The heart shaped stones we used for our craft

Craft Materials Needed To Make Framed Heart Stones

  1. A simple box frame (I prefered a white one, cause: beach!!). It was a very cheap one, to be honest!
  2. A glue gun or some other strong craft glue
  3. Heart-shaped stones or pebbles you found on the beach (you can buy some online, but I prefer imperfect self-gathered ones!)
  4. White sturdy cardboard and scissors
how to make framed pebbles
Easy how-to make framed pebbles instructions

Instructions On How To Make Framed Heart Pebbles

  1. Take apart your boxed frame. There should be a filler board inside the frame. Use it as a measure to cut the cardboard to the same size.
  2. Aling your pebbles on the cardboard. You can try to divide it into a grid if it helps you place the pebbles nicely apart.
  3. Heat up the silicon gun. Glue each pebble to its selected place (this should be made by an adult to keep those little fingers from burning!).
  4. Reassemple the frame, without using the glazing in front. I inserted the glazing behing the cardboard to keep the whole thing from moving to much.
  5. And that’s it! You can decorate your frame with some beach decorations, but personally, I like it simple and clean!
diy framed beach pebbles
DIY framed beach pebbles

I love how it turned out, it’s really so simple but beautiful and so full of love and memories! The next thing I want to make is a sea glass craft and a sea shell craft, both framed to make a set (I bought three identical white frames!!!). So stay tuned for more!!!

How to Decoupage A Plate And A Bottle – A Beginner’s Story!

First time decoupage
First time decoupage

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The first time I tried decoupaging (is that a word?) was a few days ago in a beginners class and we started decorating a plain plate and an old bottle and they turned out quite beautiful, allthough I really need a lot of practice in order to get it right! We used the materials described below. You don’t need to use special decoupage supplies, just experiment a little to find what other things work for you. My little one helped, too. But make sure to use child appropriate materials if you want your kids to help! So, as you can imagine, I don’t claim to know anything about decoupage! I will try to describe how we went about it on our first try, following our teachers instructions!

Decoupage supplies you need for decorating a plate and bottle

  • Paint brushes (a wide brush and a small brush preferably)
  • Paint (mocha color) – you can use acrylic paint, or some other liquid craft paint
  • Paint (white color) – you can use acrylic paint, or some other liquid craft paint
  • Clear Crackle paint
  • Mod Podge or clear, liquid decoupage glue
  • Old newspapers to protect our working surface
  • Paper towels
  • A small bowl with water
  • Paper napkin with bird motif and paper napkin with butterflies’ motif (or choose whatever motifs you like). Try to get napkins where the motif is on white background for better results. You can use special decoupage napkins and decoupage paper, but it is more expensive
  • Clear sealer paint
  • An old, clean and plain plate and an old clean bottle
  • Twine

First time decoupage
First time decoupage

Instructions for decoupaging a plate amd bottle

The steps might seem like too many, but they repeat themselves 🙂

  1. Lay out the newspapers on your working surface and arrange all your materials in front of you. Open the mocha paint container or empty some paint into a separate container.
  2. If your paint is thick and you can’t work well with it, first dip the brush into some water, stroke off the excess water and then dip the brush into the mocha paint and paint the surface of the plate and of the bottle. Don’t use to much paint, just enough to cover the surface with a nice layer of paint. If your plate or bottle has any details or tough to get to spots, use the small brush to paint them.
  3. Let the paint dry completely. Use a gentle hair dryer if you are in a rush. While drying rinse your brushes under running water. Dry them with a paper towel as good as you can.
  4. With the clean, wide brush, apply to the plate’s and bottle’s surface a thin layer of the crackle paint with quick strokes. Use the small one if necessary, too. Again, let it dry completely. Use hair dryer if needed. Rinse your brushes and dry them.
  5. While waiting take your napkins and carefully rip around the motifs you want to use. Don’t let any straight edges unripped and don’t use scissors. Separate the napkin’s layers (if you bought a 3-layered napkin, make sure to separate all of the layers). Keep only the layer with the motifs and set them aside.
  6. When your plate and bottle are dry, dip your wide brush into the white paint and with very quickly strokes apply one single layer of paint. Try to not repaint a spot, rather make quick small strokes to cover the whole surface. Use the small brush if necessary. Once again let it dry. As it dries, you will notice that small cracks are formed on the surface. That is the effect we were going for. You know the drill by now… use hair dryer, wash brushes, dry them, and wait a little longer. Close all paint containers or wash the containers you used. You won’t need the paints any more.
  7. Once dry, it’s time to apply the napkin motifs. Empty a small amount of glue into a clean container, or just use it directly from its container. Arrange your motif onto the plate to decide where you like what. When you are satisfied, lift one motif from the plate and apply glue to the spot you want the motif to go. Use any brush works for you. Apply only a layer of glue, not too much, but you don’t need to worry about the area you apply it to. Just make sure that you cover a little more area than your motif needs. Lay down the brush and pick up the motif, face up. Gently lay the motif onto the area you applied the glue. Using your fingers or a sponge, carefully straighten it out, making strokes from the center to the edges. Be careful not to rip the napkin, it is very delicate.
  8. Repeat the same thing with the other motifs and let everything dry. Apply another layer of glue over the motifs. Let everything dry. Do the same with the bottle. Rinse brushes and containers. Use glue and twine to decorate the bottle.
  9. Now it’s time for the final step. Just apply a layer of the clear sealer paint on the plate’s whole surface. You can apply a second layer after letting the first one dry completely for better protection. Let everything dry. As you can imagine, these are not to be used with food or drinks, since we didn’t use food-grade materials.

And there you have it! A nice plate to beautify your home or to give it to somebody who you care about!  The whole thing took us about two hours to complete. Isn’t the end result nice? Other decoupage ideas I am thinking of are decoupage on wood, furniture, boxes, vases and on Christmas I will try decoupage ornaments!

Visiting the 82th International Fair of Thessaloniki

The entrance to the 82th International Fair Of Thessaloniki
The entrance to the 82th International Fair Of Thessaloniki

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Every year in Thessaloniki, a major international fair takes place. It’s kind of a tradition to go and see some of the exhibitors and events that happen there. This year we went as a family, which has its pros and cons. On the positive side, the children see things they don’t see every day and have a fun day, but on the negative side we adults don’t get to see all that we want because kids do get tired so soon (know what I mean?). Well, anyway, we had fun and I wanted to share a few photos I took – one of my new hobbies – with you! The Fair is open until next Sunday (17th September) so if you’re near you really should go!!!

82th International Fair of Thessaloniki Entrance Sign
82th International Fair of Thessaloniki Entrance Sign

First Things First: A Snack

As always, food is an important part of every one of our days out! So, as soon as we saw something worth eating, we took the chance! We got a couple of the famous Thessaloniki’s “Koulouria” which are delicious! You can find them on what it seems every corner of down town Thessaloniki or in any bakery and they are perfect for breakfast or a snack.

thessaloniki koulouri
The famous snack of Thessaloniki: Koulouri

Entering The Fair

Although there are a few portals to enter the Fair, I usually prefer the one that is closer to one of Thessaloniki’s landmark “The White Tower”. It is an impressive entrance, as you get a close view to Thessaloniki’s tall Radio Tower (also known as the OTE Tower). If you want you can go and get a drink or food in the Café-Bar-Dinner that is located on top and that rotates, so you can catch a breath-taking view. It is kind of expensive, but definitely worth it!

The OTE Tower
The OTE Tower

First Stop: Recycling

The City of Thessaloniki organized a wonderful informative corner about recycling, where art made of different reused items or scrap metal – like this impressive horse – can be seen. Also, they had a craft table ready for children, where they could make things like flowers or caterpillars out of material that would normally end up in the trash!

 

Moving On Into The Fair

We then moved on into an area that was dedicated to producers of high-quality Greek, delicious food, like cheeses, olive oils, honeys, pies, herbs, nuts and so much more incredible things from all over Greece. Wines and other drinks where also on display. Most producers would advertise their products by offering you small samples, and you can move to buy something you like.

There are areas for other exhibitors, like manufactorers of machinery or cars etc., but we sadly didn’t have the time to go and see them all.

We saw for first time the train wagon that will be moving in the subway of Thessaloniki once it is finished (hopefully sooner than later!). There was also a wonderful old train wagon to see, which actually was a royal train wagon! What a contrast!

 

One thing we did go and see was the place of E-Gaming! That was amazing, we could try new technology and cutting-edge computers, VR devices and we could even try out some new video games. There was also a booth where they would produce your own video-game Avatar, but unfortunately the line was too long to wait with the kids!

Honored Country: China

Every year the organizers choose an honored country, and this year they chose China! Their area was fascinating, as you can imagine, since they showed off on one hand their amazing culture with traditional clothing, art, foods and on the other they had on display high-tech products, train models, helicopter models and robots, among other interesting things! One thing that was also impressive was a 3D energy map of Greece (China is a major investor for the energy sector in Greece)!

 

A Wonderful Visit Ends

After seeing all of these things and many many more, the children got tired, naturally and so we slowly made our way home.

China
Honored Country: China

It was a great Fair on a wonderful, sunny September day! Can’t wait for next year! Honored country? The USA!!!

 

Finally starting a few new hobbies!!!

Amazing color for a sunset view of my balcony
Amazing color for a sunset view of my balcony

New hobbies for a new me

After a long time I finally found a little time and energy to start a couple of hobbies. One is photography and the other is learning about decoupage! I hope I will be able to fit in some time for walking or other physical activity as well!

sunset
Another beautiful sunset

1. Photography – first steps

Photography is really an amazing hobby! It is much more complicated than one would think, especially if you want to get off auto mode. But I am at the beginning and who knows, maybe I’ll end up discovering my talent!

 

toy cars
A few fun, colorful toy cars

The most difficult thing is to switch to manual mode where you have to decide about depth of field, iso settings and shutterspeed, among other things. Getting your head around all these settings, when to use what and how your camera works is really not easy, especially if all you can do is reading about it online, whitout some kind of seminar. But, as most sites do point out, the most important thing to do is to shoot many, many, MANY pictures, so you can learn. Another fact I was suprised by, is the amount of photo editing most people are doing in order to get the best results! I mean, it sometimes takes more time to edit than it took to actually get the shoot done! But the results are amazing!!! You can see more on my profile at flickr here!

amazing sunset_227.JPG
The sky and it’s amazing clouds at sunset

2. Decoupage – first lesson

As for decoupage, I just had my first lesson a few days again and it was really fun! Although I am not the biggest fan of vintage look, I really loved how an ordinary item could be transformed in a couple of hours and while having a good time, too! The first item we did was a plain plate and allthough it isn’t perfect, I believe it’s a great first attempt! I am looking forward to learning more about this technique! To add to the fun, my little daughter came with me and she is such a great companion! She even helped gluing a butterfly image to the plate. I will share a photo as soon as I’ll be able to make one. The process is really easy to understand, and I think with a little practice and some imagination, the options are limitless! The next lesson will be about decorating a bottle! Can’t wait!

So, hopefully I will be able to do a lot more photography and decoupage project to write about and share from now on. It is difficult to manage everything, day job, family and home!!!