Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Christmas Crafting

christmas crafting

The joys Christmas crafting!

Check out some other Wordless Wednesday submissions.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Stocking Ornament

We're in the process of creating our Christmas Stockings, so while working on our regular size stockings, Emma created a Christmas Stocking Ornament of her own. 

Christmas Stocking Ornament

What you'll need:
Red felt
White felt
White pompoms
White pipe cleaner

Cut a stocking shape out of red felt.  You can make it any size you like, we went for something a little bigger but it could really be any size.

Cut out circles and hearts out of white felt and have your child haphazardly glue them to the stocking together with white pompoms.

Next make a little hole in the top corner of the stocking and pass through the white pipe cleaner or instead you could use white ribbon and make a loop.

There you go, a really simple, fun, totally easy for a child to do Christmas craft!

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Baby Food - Fruits

I've posted a couple baby food ideas in the past; the simple veggie purees and the a little more complicated spinach recipe.

Now that Lia is nearing the first solids stage, I've started thinking about baby food again.  I though I'd share a few fruity ideas.

When first introducing food you should pretty much do it one new food at a time. So at the beginning you should just pick one fruit and then add another to it, one at a time.  In case of allergy you will easily be able to determine which food the baby is allergic to.

There are a couple of ways to offer fruits to baby, you could simply blend fresh fruit, like apricots, peaches, plums or mangoes etc using a hand held blender and offer one at a time at separate occasions. 

Later, you could also mix two or three fruits together, providing that you've already tried the fruits separately in the past.  Banana, for example, mixes very well with most fruits.  You could try banana apple, banana peach, banana melon, banana avocado; banana also goes very well with berries.  All of these could be easily combined using a hand held blender.  Adding yoghurt to these is another healthy option.

Online nutrition degrees can help further enrich and diversify mealtimes for babies and older children.

Another way to offer fruits, especially hard fruits like apples and pears is by boiling or steaming them.  They come out incredibly sweet, soft and warm!  In the winter this is a great plus.  When boiling or steaming, these fruits retain a lot of water and become really soft.  You could even mash them with a fork.  To create a more consistent mixture and not as watery add some baby rice or porridge to it.

When Emma was small she loved all of these and many other combinations, hopefully Lia will as well :)

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas Tree Craft

Emma and I have started on winter crafts already. We used the same concept to create this Christmas tree as we did to make this Fall Tree

christmas tree craft

What you'll need:
Green crepe paper
Pom poms
Empty toilet paper roll

Cut a triangle shape out of a cardboard and have your child glue the pom poms around haphazardly.
christmas tree craft

Once that's done make balls out of the crepe paper and glue to the tree around the pom poms.  You could apply glue to the entire triangle and just glue as you please or you can do what Emma did and apply a little bit of glue to the area you want to use.  Continue gluing the crepe paper until the entire tree is covered.

Next glue the empty toilet paper roll to the back of the cardboard triangle to make a tree trunk.  That's all it takes! You've got a gorgeous tree you could even use as decoration.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Advent Wreath

I was introduced to the world of natural wreath making by my new friend Veronika.  In Germany, where she's from, it is customary to create Christmas decorations at home with friends and family.  This morning we joined this lovely tradition!

Four mommies and four kids making advent wreaths!  Veronika showed us many tricks and gave us lots of ideas!

The wreath includes 4 candles, each of which should be lit up on Sundays leading up to Christmas.  This year on Nov 27th the tallest candle should be lit.  During the week you can light this candle for ambiance or as you please, the following Sunday the next candle in line should be lit and so on.  Until you light all four candles and in the week leading to Christmas all four would be lit up.

advent wreath

What you'll need: 
Well if you're Veronika, LOTS of patience, but otherwise
Mixed greens, different leaves and branches of evergreens
Flower wire
4 candles
Ornaments and other natural decorations like pine-cones, Cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices etc

Start with a large branch and continue by adding smaller twigs to the wreath.  Twist the flower wire around the branches in order to fasten all the greenery together.  You have to make sure you tighten it well so that it doesn't fall apart.  Continue adding new greenery until you complete a circle.  

advent wreath

Once your wreath is created, the most difficult part is over and you can start decorating.  Basically what you need to do is pick a color theme.  I ended up using red and gold, but there are so many options.  Pretty much anything that goes with your Christmas tree, or even something completely different.  Its really up to you and what you can find.

Attach the candles to your wreath by sticking a tooth pick to the bottom of the candle and anchoring them into your wreath.  Attach flower wire to the ornaments and fasten them to the wreath.  You can also wrap wire around the toothpick and stick the ornaments into the wreath.  Do the same with bows, pine cones and other decorative pieces.  You can pretty much do anything you set your mind to. 

advent wreath

I loved making this wreath! Although we were inexperienced, and needed a whole load of hand holding the wreaths came out amazing! Under the watchful eye of Veronika, of course! :)  Great company, fun crafts, tasty ginger bread .... this is definitely something I'd like to do again.

advent wreath

Here we are, Lia and I, with our finished wreath.  We were very happy to have made it for my mom & Lia's grandmother. She loved it!

advent wreath

A big, big thanks to Veronika, for introducing us to this and organizing the get-together! Can't wait to make fun stuff again! :)

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Homemade Crepes - Sweet & Savory

Crepes are pretty simple to create, usually the biggest worry people have is not to make them too thick.  Don't worry crepes need not be paper thin.  But if looking for perfection, online cooking schools could be a great resource for learning techniques and gaining skills.


This is a really difficult recipe to share because I never really follow a recipe when making crepes.  I just kind of look at the mixture, if its too thick I add more liquid, if its too thin I add more flour.  Nonetheless, here are the ingredients

3 eggs
400g flour
2 cups of milk
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 tsp salt


Beat the eggs with salt and sugar, add flour (previously mixed with baking powder), milk and water and mix.  Add little by little so that you will have a thick and smooth mixture. 


Pour a ladle full onto an oiled hot pan.  Circle it until the mixture covers the entire pan. Wait for a few seconds and then turn over.  Keep in mind that you will need very little oil to make them because the mixture already includes oil.  After the first crepe you will not need to keep re adding oil.

That's all it takes! Its really simple and quick. My recipe comes out a little different everytime, but each time its delicious.

To make a sweet crepe just fill with your favorite toppings, mine are Nutella, nuts and bananas, Emma's is jam, another really good combination is jam and ground nuts!

To make a savory crepe fill it with what you like, ham & cheese for example, and instead of just rolling it up make sure you tuck in both sides first and then roll the crepe.

savory crepes

Next dip it in whisked egg and then bread crumbs.  Shallow fry it in hot oil.  This is a really delicious combination especially when the cheese melts!  Serve with tartar sauce.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Baby Massage

Life is very different with two kids. You need to split your time and double your energy.  I think the hardest is the realization that you just can't do the same things you did with your first one.  There is some consolation in the fact that the second child gets to have a relationship with her sister from the very first day but still you as a mom can't but feel guilty.

This is one of the main reasons I signed up for Baby Massage classes with Lia, as a way to have some structured time together to bond. 

Tina Poetis Baby Massage

Now this is not something I usually do on this blog but we've had such a wonderful experience and I'd like to share it with you.

We attended a 5 week program with Tina Poetis and had a lovely time,  it really was a great way to bond with Lia and it gave us a chance to socialize with a small group of other mothers and babies. We were three in total.  Tina showed us all aspects of baby massage, from how to apply pressure to how to do the colon massage which greatly reduces colic and helps move things along with constipated or gassy babies.  We covered every inch of their bodies, from head to toe and stimulated their development.  Tina would demonstrate all the movements on a doll and we'd follow on our own babies. Lia would instantly relax.

Tina Poetis Baby Massage

What I loved about the sessions was that Tina wasn't only there to show us how to massage, she showed us how to calm our babies when they got fussy, she applied baby gymnastics and shared other techniques beneficial to them.  She told us what certain positions and movements did for their development.

I can honestly say that we came out much better equipped to handle and soothe our babies.  Lia especially loved the sessions; she would be much calmer, she'd be so tired after the hour long session that she'd sleep much longer afterwards.  

Tina Poetis Baby Massage

I especially loved learning about the colon massage.  At one point Lia was going a week without a bowel movement, which is not unusual with breastfed babies, but it was worrying me nonetheless.  Every time after our massage session Lia would finally have one!

I loved having that contact with Lia and it helped us get into a routine at home, something that came so easily with Emma. I guess when Emma was an infant, there was no demanding 3 year old around to ask for attention.  Lia and I still do the massage at least 4 times a week and I also do the massage with Emma after every bath. If she's not too tired! 

There are so many benefits of baby massage, for more information see this article.

Baby Massage

Tina is a registered physiotherapist and offers a variety of different services for pregnancy and babies.  Besides baby massage, she does antenatal classes, postnatal exercises some of which she also showed us during the baby massage lessons.  She also does physiotherapy for orthopedic issues, sports injuries, and diseases of the nervous system.

I couldn't recommend doing baby massage lessons enough! And if you do want to do them, Tina is your girl!  You can reach her by telephone on 99 304 660, she's located in Larnaca in Academia Center (above Viale) on the 3rd floor.

Happy bonding!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Glitter Snowman Greeting Card

Yesterday we created a Glitter Christmas Tree Greeting Card by accident, or as pretty much an afterthought to our turkey. It came out so well that we decided to do another one today! 

Snowman Greeting Card

What you'll need:
White glitter
Silver glitter
Red Glitter
Black cardboard
White glue
Thin brush

Emma and I created this craft together, to do it well with a young child you will need to apply the glue and have your child apply the glitter. 

Cut & fold the cardboard to create a card.  Draw a snowman with a light pencil.  Using your brush apply the glue carefully only on white areas of the snowman, making sure that you leave out the features.  Sprinkle white glitter all over and shake the page about until all the glue is covered. 

Snowman Greeting Card

Once the glue has dried, carefully apply more glue to all the areas where you want red; the scarf and the hat and the nose (unless you've got orange glitter in which case you could use that for the nose).  Have your child apply red glitter to all glue covered areas.

Next apply glue to the bottom of the hat and sprinkle silver glitter over that area.
That's it! You've got a gorgeous, glittery greeting card for the holiday season.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Glitter Christmas Tree Card

While making this turkey Emma came across some glitter. And that means, definitely having to play with it. It is impossible to have glitter in Emma's proximity without her doing something with it. 

We decided to create an impromptu Christmas tree, which we made into a card.  It came out quite well considering no thought whatsoever went into it :)
christmas tree card
What you'll need:
Hard paper
White glue
Green glitter
Gold & silver stars glitter
Glitter snow flakes

Create a Christmas tree shape on the paper using a brush and white glue.  Sprinkle green glitter generously over the page.  Shake the page about until all glitter is on the glue area. 

christmas tree card

Continue adding glitter until the entire area is covered.  Next apply spots of glue to the tree and glue gold and silver stars to it.  Apply spots of glue around the tree and glue snow flake glitter.

Leave to dry, fold in half and that's pretty much it.  You've got your Christmas card! There are many variations of this you could do.  You could make a snowman on black paper and white glitter.  You could make Santa's hat with red and white glitter.  Just make sure that you fist create only the red bit with the glue, cover with red glitter and wait to dry.  Once its dry create the white part using glue and sprinkle white glitter over it.

The great thing about white glue is that once it dries its no longer white but transparent and none of it will show later even if it at first looks kinda messy.

The most important thing you should keep in mind is that the glue drawing should be as precise as possible, because the glitter will stick anywhere the glue is and it is a bit of a mess to remove later.


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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Fun Turkey Craft

Thanksgiving is an American holiday and not something we celebrate in Cyprus or Serbia, but I have a soft spot for it from my years spent in New York and that very first turkey I burnt made.  

Today Emma and I made a turkey, not because of Thanksgiving though, although its great timing!  Emma loves to sing the Greek children's song Uncle Brilios, about a farmer and a turkey that got so big it ate the farmer! Its one of the songs she sings everyday on the way to school with her daddy.  Check out Greek4Kids to get all the words!

turkey crafts

What you'll need:
Crepe paper (red, yellow and orange)
2 Styrofoam balls (one smaller than the other)
Orange pipe cleaners
2 Goggly eyes
Brown paint
2 Toothpicks

To make the body of the turkey:  Stick a toothpick in each styrofoam ball and use it as a holder while painting the balls brown (if you don't have brown color, you can mix green and red to make brown, just as we did).  Leave balls to dry, we stuck the toothpicks in some play dough until they dried.

Once dry take the toothpick out of one ball and join the two balls together using just one toothpick.  You should get something that looks like a brown snowman!

To make the tail: Cut the crepe paper into approximately A4/Letter sizes, one in each color.  Scrunch each paper in the middle, bend it in half and join them together into a kind of a bouquet.  Keep it together by twisting some pipe cleaner around it and attach it to the body either with some glue or by twisting the pipe cleaner around the body as well.  We used the pipe cleaner.

turkey crafts

To make the features: Bend the orange pipe cleaner to create two feet, a crest and a beak and stick them into the body.  Glue two goggly eyes where they belong!

Gobble gobble everyone!

Next week I need to find a way to make Uncle Brilios! :s

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chicken Korma Recipe

Winter is almost here and Chicken Korma is a perfect dish to serve on a cold night! 

I adapted this recipe was adapted from Ainsley Harriott's Gorgeous Chicken Korma recipe from his book Meals in Minutes


1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
500ml yoghurt
25g butter
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp hot chilli powder
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp ground almonds
400g  boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 2-3cm (1 in) chunks
Rice or naan bread & salad to serve


Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Heat the oil in a small pan and cook the onion until softened and translucent.  Place onion, yoghurt, butter, salt, tumeric, chilli, garlic and almonds in a food processor or in a bowl to blend with a handheld blender and whizz until well blended.


Place chicken in a casserole and pour korma mixture over it. 


Bake for 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
Spoon onto plates and serve with rice or naan and salad.

Enjoy this incredibly simple, quick and delicious recipe!

California culinary schools have great classes on all sorts of ethnic cooking, to expand your daily menus and make your family happy---if you can get them to try new things!  If not, I find introducing new foods in muffin tins does the trick!

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