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!!!

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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!!!

How to Make your Own Homemade Playdough Recipe

Today my son asked me to fetch him some playdough to play. The problem was, I hadn’t any at home and getting to the store was kind of difficult. So, lucky me, I remembered a Pinterest posting about a recipe to make your own play dough and I thought to give it a try. It worked out wonderful! As a bonus, I don’t have to worry so much that my youngest would eat some, as she usually does with the store-bought play dough. It is really easy and fast. I made mine in about 20 minutes. And you probably have all ingredients in your house like I did, too.
So here is how to easily make your own play dough for your kids to have some fun with.

home made play dough (4)
Why not organize a play group with homemade play dough? (image source)

Ingredients for homemade playdough recipe

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 cup water
  • Food coloring
  • Aroma (optional, I didn’t use any)
home made play dough (5)
Home made play dough would make a great gift for kids (image source)

Directions on how to make homemade playdough

  1. In a saucepan, combine the flour, salt and cream of tartar.
  2. Add the water and oil and mix well.
  3. Turn the heat on, and let the mixture get warm over low to medium heat. Stir for about 4-5 minutes, until you have an elastic mixture.
  4. Now let it cool down a little so you can handle the dough and divide it into as many parts as you want. Mix in the food coloring of choice.
  5. Let it cool as much as necessary until your kids can handle the dough. That takes about 5-10 minutes. That’s it! The homemade playdough is ready for use!
homemade play dough
Our very own homemade play dough!

That was easy, right? Never run out of play dough again and no worries about chemicals? And save money, too? Well, I for one have found a keeper recipe! Next time I will let my kids be involved in the procedure. They can easily help with the ingredients and later on with mixing the food coloring into the dough. This should double the fun for sure, since they are crazy about helping out in the kitchen every single time.

So the only thing left to do is to go and have some quality time with your children. Cause that is what it’s all about, isn’t it? And you know what? They would make a great gift, too!

Christmas Cookie Recipe and Gift Idea: Santa’s Sleigh Cookies

There is still time to make this treat as a nice gift for any child. This year, I made some cookie sleighs! You can involve your little ones like I did, by giving them some cookie dough to make the cookies with cookie cutters or let them help with the festive decoration or fill the sleighs with goodies!

ready sleigh
All ready sleigh!

You will need:

  1. Your favorite sugar cookie or gingerbread recipe, or use mine
  2. Sleigh cookie cutters or a template. I will give the link to that at the end of the post.
  3. Your favorite icing, or use mine
  4. Candy canes
  5. Decorations such as colorful sprinkles
  6. Food coloring (optional)
  7. Little treats to put into the sleighs

Eggless cookie recipe:

I used my favorite cookie recipe which is egg-less:

–          370 g flour

–          165 g sugar which has been through the food processor or blender

–          ¼ teaspoon salt

–          2 teaspoons vanilla extract

–          225 g butter, cold

–          30 g cream cheese

In a large bowl, mix the first four ingredients. Now add little by little the butter and knead with your hand. It will be a crumbled mix first. When you have added all the butter, mix in the cream cheese. Now, part the dough into two and wrap in clear wrap foil. Chill the dough for about half an hour. Roll the dough out as thin or thick as you like and cut out your cookies either with cookie cutters or using the template for the sleigh (which you can find here)

Put the cookies on a backing paper lined baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven for about 180 degrees C for about 8-10 minutes, until their light brown. Let them cool completely before decorating the cookies or assembling the sleigh.

This recipe is quite healthy, just as I want my kids’ snacks to be!

For icing I used my recipe, but any icing you would like is fine. Even store-bought is great, as long as it is usable as “glue” for the cookies. My recipe is a little runny, so it was a little troublesome to assemble the sleigh. Maybe using some other recipe is better, but I like mine since it has no raw eggs.

My favorite icing recipe:

–          5-6 tablespoons of meringue powder (I buy meringues and powder it in the blender)

–          250 g confectioners sugar

–          About half a cup of water

Use your stand mixer to mix all the ingredients, but add the water little by little to see how much it will take to have a thick icing. Thickness is crucial for using as glue, while thinner icing is used for decorating. If it gets too thin, use more meringue powder or confectioners sugar.

I assembled first and then decorated the cookies. It may not be the best idea if you want to make some more fancy decorations. I am a simple girl, so my décor is simple, too J

Steps to assemble the christmas cookie santa sleighs:

Step 1: Let your pieces cool down completely

sleigh step 1
Everything ready to begin the assembly

Step 2: Put some icing on the bottom of the sides pieces and glue the to the bottom piece. Hold for as long as necessary until they stay in place. Let it dry for at least half an hour.

sleigh step 2
Glue first the two sides to the bottom piece
sleigh step 3
Let it dry until everything is secure

Step 3: Put some glue on the three sides of the last pieces and slide them to the front and the back of the sleigh. They should be glued with a slight angle, so there will be more space for the candy. Keep them in place for 1-2 minutes and add icing if needed to close any gaps. Let it dry for at least 1 hour.

sleigh step 4
Assemble the back and the front of the sleigh

Step 4: Turn the sleigh upside down and glue on the two candy canes which you will have unwrapped before. Let it dry for half an hour and turn it on the correct side. Let it dry a little longer to be sure. I recommend putting the sleigh on a piece of cardboard for secure transportation.

Step 5: Decorate in any way you want. Let it dry and put in some candy.

ready sleigh
All ready sleigh!

Step 6: If you want, wrap it up and ready is your gift!

sleighs ready
Gifts ready!

The template I found at Lila Loa, here. You will find also great step by step instruction to make their beautiful sleighs if you have the talent!

Here another photo with a cute idea:

sleigh with reindeers
Sleigh with reindeers (image source)

Have fun making these!!! I wish to each and every one of you a Merry Christmas! Enjoy these happy season to the fullest!

Kids Christmas Craft With Cardboard Paper Tubes

We have been busy the last days, since Christmas is on our doorstep! One of the craft we did was making some Christmas people out of cardboard paper tubes! Those are so versatile, I did never thing about them that way.

You can use whatever tubes you can find, from paper towel rolls to toilet paper rolls everything goes. We also used some googly eyes, but you can paint the eyes on. So, you’ll need, other than the tubes and colored paper, glue and scissors and maybe some items for decoration.

figures out of tubes
Figures out of tubes (image source)

When you’ve decided what you want to make, measure the paper and cut it the length of the tube. Then put some glue on the tube and wrap it with the paper. If you don’t have colored paper, just paint on some plain white paper. Or you can paint directly on the tube or even use it as it is.

The tubes can also be used to create wreaths or ornaments and some even use them as gift tags, napkin holders or treat or gift boxes; when they are beautiful crafted and decorated that is.

This beautiful wreath is easy to make. Who could imagine what you used for them?

Wreath out of tubes
Wreath out of tubes (image source)

If you take just one of those “flowers” and use some glitter, they can become ornaments for your tree!

tube ornaments
Tube ornaments (image source)

Here are some instructions on how to make little santas to use as gift tags or ornaments, even to hold some treat or gift themselves. You can see also a little gift package out of a plain tube tied beautifully with a ribbon. Aren’t they just adorable??? And they are so simple to make!!!

how to make some santa ornaments
How to make some santa ornaments (image source)

And finally!!! My son’s creations with a little help from me cutting the paper pieces.

My boy's tube creations
My boy’s tube creations

Try it and have some easy, inexpensive, creative fun making these or try making easy Christmas ornaments from dried fruits!!!

Beautiful Christmas Decorations And Ornaments Out Of Dried Fruits

Here I am again with my dried fruits! I already have written about dried fruits ornaments and flowers made out of citrus peels. What can I say, I just love the look of them and how easy they are to make! Did you know that you can use apples and pears as well as citrus fruits? And some people cover the slices after drying with clear craft varnish or decoupage glue, to keep them for a long time.

You can use the dried fruit for making a beautiful christmas wreaths and spiced, with cinnamon or cloves, ornaments. Those dried fruits are great additions to garlands and they smell beautifully! I really suggest to dry them on the radiators now that it is winter. That way you save money from burning your oven.

dried fruits
Dried citrus fruits, apples and pears (image source)

Wreaths

dried fruits wreaths
Dried fruits wreaths (image source)

Ornaments

citrus and spice ornament
Citrus and spice ornament (image source)

Ornaments, bells and favors

Dried fruit bells
Dried fruit bells (image source)

Garlands for your homes decoration

dried fruit and spices garland
Dried fruit and spices garland (image source)

And another idea

christmas garland and wreath
Christmas garland and wreath (image source)

Such beautiful ideas!!! Give it a try!

Healthy Toddler Snack: Whole Wheat Apple Muffins Recipe

Apple muffins
Apple muffins

Sunday afternoon is increasingly becoming cake time lately. Or muffin time! Of course, always with the help of my kids. They get really excited every time, they just love to help! And what great helpers they are! I searched for an apple muffin recipe, which would be on the healthier side. After finding some recipes, I decided to go with the one from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/04/whole-wheat-apple-muffins/ , which I adapted a bit to fit my taste and the ingredients I had at home. They came out delicious; we loved every bite of them.
So, here is the recipe for about 15 muffins

Ingredients for this healthy toddler snack:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ or less teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 medium eggs
¼ cup milk
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon dark chocolate
1 teaspoon butter

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 220o C. Line your muffin tin.
In a bowl, mix together the first six ingredients. In another bowl, cream the butter and both sugars until somewhat fluffy. Next add the eggs and mix well. You might need to scrape the sides. Next add the dry ingredients, the milk and the apples and combine, taking care not to over-mix the dough.
Divide the dough into the muffin cups and bake for about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to about 200o C and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the famous toothpick comes out clean. Take them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Then take them out of the tin and let them cool on a wire rack.
Melt the dark chocolate and combine with the butter. Scoop the chocolate into a polybag and cut off the tip. Drizzle the chocolate over the muffins and enjoy!!!

DIY Penguin Finger Puppets Craft for Kids

ready pinguins
DIY penguin finger puppets

This one was shared by a close friend of mine and her kids! They did a wonderful job, I can tell you that! Thank you so much for sharing!!! We can’t wait to make some craft together, soon!

So, it is quite simple to make the penguins and a lot of fun, too!!! You will need stuff that you will have probably already in your house:

–          Black cardboard or paper for the pinguin’s body

–          White cardboard or paper for the eyes and belly

–          Orange cardboard or paper for the nose

–          Other colors of cardboard or paper  and yarn if you’d like to add some more details

–          Paper glue

–          Scissors

–          A black or other color marker for the eyes

–          A pencil for tracing, if you need to

To get started, you’ll need to cut out of the black cardboard the pinguin’s body and cut out two holes for the fingers. The shape of the pinguin’s body is quite simple, you will not have any trouble with it, but if you want, first trace the shape of the body with a pencil and then cut it out Out of the white cardboard cut some oval eyes and the belly, like shown in the image. Also, cut a small triangle out of the orange cardboard.

Pinguin and items
All ready items to be glues on the penguin’s body

Now, you can glue all elements on the pinguin’s body. You can make him take on any expression you can think off.

pinguin2
One penguin
pinguin3
Second penguin

Now, take the marker and draw some details on the eyes to make your penguin alive, and ready you are to begin playing with them!!!

You could also add some other decorations to them, if you would like to. A scarf, a hat or funny hairs out of yarn, would be a funny addition, don’t you think?

Have fun!!!

The original inspiration came from here: http://www.mamakid.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1107:2010-11-11-21-05-39&catid=97:2011-02-24-21-29-16&Itemid=164