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!!!

 

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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

Great hand-made gift idea: DIY Heart-Shaped Mini Album

heart shaped mini album
Heart shaped mini album (image source)

This idea is just beautiful, especially as a gift for the grandparents. It has some work involved, though, but I guess it is worth the effort!
I guess you could make it somewhat more long-lasting, like covering it with some self-adhesive foil? I don’t really know.
Anyway, you will need some 12×12 kraft cardstock, glue, a scissor, patterned papers, photos and embellishments.
Fold the cardstock four ways and draw a half heart and then cut it out. This you will need to do two times, so in the end you will have 4 hearts. The next step is to make hearts out of the patterned papers, using the cardboard hearts as a base. Then, glue the cardboard hearts together, so you will have a 3D heart. Now you can glue the patterned papers onto the cardboard hearts. Finally, decorate your pages with photos, dried flowers, whatever you think would look nice and are worth being there or are telling a story. Now you could ( Note: this is just an idea that I thought of, I haven’t tried it or seen it!!!) use self-adhesive foil in order for the album to become longer lasting.

Step-by-step instructions
Step-by-step instructions (image source)

Is that a great gift for Christmas for your loved ones or what?
For the original post and detailed step-by-step instructions and images, click on this link:
http://americancrafts.typepad.com/studio/2011/03/heart-shaped-mini-album-tutorial-by-leslie.html

Romantic Dried Fruit Decoration Idea: Orange Peel Roses

dried orange peel roses
Dried Orange Peel Roses (image source)

Romantic Dried Fruit Decoration Idea: Orange Peel Roses

Orange’s peels are very versatile, as it seems! Remember the Toddler Fun Making Ornaments With Dried Citrus Fruits article? Here is another idea on how to use the peel. Make amazing flowers out of them. And the kids can easily help at any stage. Just the peeling will be have to be done by a grown up. And maybe when you need to stabilize something with a toothpick, you should do that, too, if your kids are not old enough. All the other stuff – making the oranges, arranging them, dust them with some confectioner sugar, and eating the oranges, of course (lots of vitamins and Vitamin C!) – all can be done by the kids! So, here is how to do it and some ideas to display them. And if you’re interested in making dried fruit ornaments for cheap christmas decorations that are natural and earthy, take a look at our related article.

How to make orange peel roses

It is really easy. Peel the oranges carefully and then just roll them up. Ready are the roses!  When they are fresh, they are great decor for salads or other dishes, and if you let them dry, they can be used for decorating your home. By adding some essential oils or cinnamon sticks, they will make the room smell wonderful.

How to make orange peel roses
How to make orange peel roses (image source)

Decoration ideas

They can become pieces of art

Framed orange peel roses
Framed orange peel roses (image source)

Roses of other citrus fruit peels

You can use other citrus fruits as well. Then you will have a nice variety in flower sizes and colors!

Roses out of citrus fruit peels
Roses out of citrus fruit peels (image source)

Other flowers out of citrus fruit peels

And lastly, by cutting the peel on the one side (zick-zack or curves) and then rolling them up, you will get some beautiful flowers, even other than roses!

Various flowers out of orange peels

Various flowers out of orange peels (image source)