Sunday, December 26, 2010

My selfish DIY xmas

In November I bought aaaaaaall this felt. Two very big bags full. I would make Xmas tree decorations as gifts this year, I said. Yes. And I made one. One felt xmas tree gift. Why? Maybe I got freaked out by what happened to it/her (see Seasons of love post) and lost my present making drive. Or maybe I just got selfish.

So I love sugar skulls and all the Day of the Dead decorations. I love the idea that once a year you celebrate those who have passed, with food and parties. So I took a piece of felt and stitched this sugar skull onto it. And I liked it so much I wanted to wear it, somehow. So at the advice of the very talented Loukia Richards (check out her work at ) I made this bracelet. It being my first time making something like this it took me ages. And it totally devoured my present making time. But it gave me something to focus on through a month which brought the loss of three loved ones. The writing reads Those who live deeply have no fear of death- Anais Nin. For me that means be true to your heart and your dreams and be in the moment. I finished it on Xmas morning. So here it is, my Xmas present to myself and the reason that handmade gifts to others by moi didn't happen this year. I don't regret it coz...I like my new bracelet!

And a Happy New Year!

Well she made it to the tree! And not just our tree but a really big tree in another house altogether, and her new owners think she's fabulous. So wishing all of you a sensational continuation of Chrismas holidays and thanking you lots and lots for visiting my little blog. XXXXX

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Seasons of Love

I made this felt matryoshka to hang on the Christmas tree this year. She was pretty simple. Just simple stitches. Split stitch and back stitch for the face and body and blanket stitch all the way round.

Still I managed to screw up big time! I had run out of fabric glue when it came to sticking on the white felt face. So I thought 'hey, big deal, whatever I'll just use a teeeeny bit of super glue'. Then suddenly my fingers were stuck together and I was shouting and running around aimlessly, madly washing and blowdrying the face until large parts of it had turned into felt cement. Shit.

Somehow I managed to save her. There were parts of her face that the needle could go through, and I added red pom poms to hide the glue. She still looks kind of like she's been thumped, with a blotchy eye that thankfully you can't see very well in the photo. But her destination is the tree, and she's going ahead with it.

Its been quite a rough spell. But I've seen all the riches of the world in love. I guess its kind of like how you see the most beautiful colours at sunset. Kind of like how we decorate our houses to celebrate on one of the darkest days of the year. So slightly battered I too am going ahead, dressing up my house and wishing you all happy holidays! :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It must be love

I was going to give her away but I can't. She lifted me out of the shit in August and I feel we are in it for life!
Sometimes it pours. At the moment I have some personal stuff to wade through, and it doesn't help that when I look out the window all I can see is crooks and corruption. Its not easy living in Greece sometimes. Sometimes I fantasize about fleeing. Then I think 'where would I go?' I'd be so homesick. Thats the trouble with being Greek: you're pissed off if you live here, but you're missing it so much when you don't. So my yoga girl takes me back to the moment and the things here that I love.
I feel I can really relate to our foremothers who stitched their way through wars and dictatorships. 'Oh but they only did it because they had nothing else to do!' People tell me and I beg to differ. They loved it! It gave them immense pleasure and satisfaction. I know of a lady who made beautiful crochet lace who pressed her stitching kit into her granddaughters hands before she died, begging her to carry on the tradition. My own sweet grandmama took great joy in making stunning rugs, stitching, crochet, knitting just about anything. Everyone that knew her well knew how much she loved making things, and how these things gave her comfort in the toughest of times.

I like to look at my yoga girl. She is not a work of art, but I made her, and she and I have a history:)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Going to California

I didn't want to do this as a wedding present. I actually didn't want to do this at all! What I did want to do was a portrait of Anna and Panos, two of the most talented and stylish people I know. When I say stylish I don't mean like VOGUE. I mean that these two are so unique and charming in a way that I wanted to capture, somehow. Capture and hang on my wall! Not possible it seems. It wasn't happening.

I stalked the We Govern We and Anna's Facebook page to find the right photo. It wasn't there. She emailed it to me! It wasn't right. All I could see was her big gothy eyes from the We Govern We poster. And I wanted to stick them into the face of a big sunflower. And the sunflower made me think of the lyrics from their beautiful song 'Fields' so I stitched 'In my dreams glittering gold' under the small leaf. So a gothic sunflower, if you please.

What I find captivating about Anna's artwork and We Govern We's lyrics is this fine balance between darkness and light. She says it quite well herself in this interview:

Do click on the gigantic link and go look at her artwork! I apologise for being a computer moron and not knowing how to make a word a link. You mustn't hold that against her! Also do go to and listen to the music from their new album, produced by Daniel Ash (the Bauhaus and Love and Rockets guy). My favourite song is Come Atlantis. It makes me cry, in a good way.

It also makes me cry that I won't be able to make their wedding this month. So I will send this sunflower. Its my favourite flower. My Dad sent me a massive one when I left for Uni. I held a bunch of them when I got married. I unwittingly stitched one to send to California to ABC and the Bear:)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Come out and play

This blog started as an indirect result of my leaving my job to be at home with my baby boy. HORROR! What are you going to dooooo? Women would ask me with their noses a bit wrinkled up and eyebrows a bit raised. What are you going to do all day at home with the baby? You'll get bored, you'll see. Three years later the questions haven't changed much. What do you do all day? They still ask. This is what I do:

I cook. I go to the supermarket. I try to squeeze in some yoga. I embroider. I play. I play with cars and trains and trucks. Sometimes I am a dog, others an elephant. And I like it!

Extensive studies have shown that it is not in a child's best interest to start school early. In England they are considering adding a year to the school starting age. In Finland they don't start till they are 7, and they have an exemplary educational system with the highest results in Europe. They believe that a child's early years should not be marred with lessons. The greatest lesson is play play play.

My friend Natalie is a play expert. She is a certified playtherapist and dramatherapist and she works with parents and children, teaching them how to play. Its not easy to enter a child's world. We carry so many judgements with us, so much don't do this and don't do that. Playing is a skill that teaches children about life, and learning how to play effectively is vital for healthy mental development. If you are a parent, take a look at her website She was also recently featured in and the link is here

I for one can't wait to start!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Breathe the Pressure

A couple of weeks ago I reached what felt like the edge of my sanity. I was saved (I think). I went to a village high in the mountains away from the Athens in August heat that was steadily melting my brain. Other than the village (and anyone who baby-sat) I would like to thank three things for the resurrection of my mental facilities.

  • My embroidered yoga girl

  • 'The Man who fell in Love with the Moon' By Tom Spanbauer
  • Yoga

I haven't practiced Ashtanga Vinyasa for ages. I had said in a previous post that this was due to embroidery obsession but the truth is its mostly due to a knee injury that has me skipping postures and focusing mainly on breathing. But thats ok! Breath is the most important part of yoga practice anyway.

My Breath has prevented me from having horrible stupid arguments with people. 'Just go somewhere and breathe for a bit' I ordered myself as my mind spiralled out of control with egomaniac thingys. After sitting in lotus position for a minute or two I would open my eyes and- ping! Not even the slightest inkling of a desire to go for the jugular. Magic!

''Most folks are damned fools," Dellwood said, "and have no idea they're making themselves up. But you're different, Shed. You live with the knowledge and understanding that who you are is a story you've make up to keep the moon away,''*

Our stories keep us sane, its true. But I think we need to be careful not to get too caught up in them, keep our distance a bit. Taking some time to breathe consciously helps do that. I don't want to be preachy about yoga and I feel I'm on thin ice here so I will stop. And finish by saying that I made this breathing** girl to hang on my wall as a reminder of what to do when I start feeling a bit bonkers. She is my idol!

The hands are 2 year old ones trying to get in the picture, so you can see its small. All my works are little cause I don't have the stamina for anything too extensive.

*THE MAN WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH THE MOON 1991 Tom Spanbauer pg 218 The English student in me is still alive and wanting to reference.

**For those who may be wondering the writing says inhale exhale (ees-pno-ee_ek-pno-ee).

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Power of the Evil Eye

Here in Greece, the evil eye is everywhere. It dangles from car mirrors and peoples necks, stares at you from baby's prams and restaurant walls. I used to hate them. I found them cliche and kind of freaky. Plus I thought the concept was medieval. But recently I'm starting to re-think the evil eye. When I see them around I feel strangely drawn to them. Maybe because the shit is hitting the fan with our economy and everyone is panicking I'm subconsciously searching for alternative ways to protect myself.

I'm haunted by the little old spitting widows of my dad's village. One minute I'd be peacefully walking along the street then one would pop out of nowhere and... 'FTOU'! I can still feel the tiny but plentiful blobs of saliva on my skin. 'They think their spit protects you from the evil eye' explained my parents sympathetically. I just didn't get it. How dare they? Surely they were horrible old witches, who were just using the superstition to wreak injury and misfortune on poor unsuspecting children.

Ironically enough, all these years later, 'ftou ftou ftou' -spit free- sails out of my mouth on an alarmingly regular basis. Superstitious? Moi? So I thought I'd make my own evil eye with turquoise beads and 'ftou ftou ftou' included-for extra shield. Ah poor little old ladies. I now know they meant well.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

embroidering a broken heart tattoo

I have no tattoos. But I really want one! So many times I've pondered over designs, taken photos of this and that going 'this is IT!'... only it wasn't. Once I even booked an appointment at a parlour in North London then cancelled on the day. Why? I don't even know. Probably because I am one massive chicken. 'Will it hurt'? I ask in a small voice, screwing my eyes up tight at sight of the needle at every routine blood test. Sigh.

Anyway, until I find or design the one that will get me past all the hemming and hawing and cold blooded fear it seems I'm settling for embroidering them...

I love vintage nautical tattoos. Many sailors had tattoos of sinking ships done as an expression of acceptance of danger. My design is a bit like those, enclosed in a lifesaver. I think I wanted to make a mini tribute to heartbreak; not because I am a masochist, but because those times gave me a bloody good taste of who I am and what I want. When I say heartbreak I don't only mean being dumped. I mean anything that happens in life that makes for a really strong feeling of loss and pain.

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

Khalil Gibran, The Prophet.

So getting a tattoo is painful. But it will keep you company forever after!

For those who may be wondering, it reads fourtouness, which means storm but can also be 'troubles' when used metaphorically.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What am I going to be when I grow up?

First I was going to be a writer. Nooo doubt about it. My first novel was the diary of a heavy metal dude called Thanasi who listened to Slayer and was kind of fat. But I never finished it because I discovered... clubbing! Yes thats right. Carried away by the rhythm of the night I decided that no way could I be a writer. I had to do something active. I was going to become an actress! Off to drama school with me!

But I was shit at learning lines. And I hated naturalistic acting. I preferred to prance around the stage wearing a mask or better still a red nose. Not quite enough to pull off a successful career right? No worries. I would become a

singer! Ah I loved being a singer in a band. Until I realised it was actually *work*. Work that didn't pay. So I decided to be practical. I would teach. I was to become a drama teacher! I had found my calling! Finally I knew what I was to do with my life...

But it wasn't enough. I wanted more. I directed professionally. I got good reviews! But on a personal level? Not for me either. Then I got pregnant. Left teaching. Left teaching drama that is. And started teaching yoga. I love teaching yoga, but do I have what it takes to do it full time? So here I am, blogging and embroidering away and asking myself: what am going to be when I grow up? :(

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Maybe not so Domesticated Bee

Today is the second time in one week that lunch was more poo than food. In an attempt to pacify a tired wired toddler (we had people over last night till late) I tried to quickly throw something together that would hopefully taste like liquid pizza (don't ask) and it surprisingly enough it turned out disgusting. This is bad. This food is bad, said the 2 year old.

I hardly ever blog anymore because I have become obsessed with embroidering. Any spare minute I have I sit staring at threads and internally debating over color combinations, sketching any new idea madly while lentil soup quietly sticks to the bottom of the pan in the kitchen.

Because my time has been filled with embroidering which by the way takes bloody AGES I no longer practise dynamic yoga but a nice breathey form of hatha yoga which makes me smile at the end. But then when I look in the mirror there ain't no smile at all because my clothes look two sizes too small! I stand in front of my wardrobe pulling things out trying on outfit after outfit while little K pulls my jewelry out of the boxes and loads his trains with it till I lose my patience with him and the stupid clothes. 'Go and watch Thomas on television!' I spit, reminding myself of Don Draper's wife Peggy (from the show Mad Men thats set in the early 60's). And I I normal? Is this normal????

I was talking about this with my (amazing) friend Maria who has three babies is a succesful childrens book writer to boot* and she said (hip hip) its normal! So maybe there's hope for me after all...


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Importance of being Stylish

The other day I had this awful Lady Gaga song stuck in my head. Most of you know the one, it goes like 'roma romama gaga ooh lala'. I really hope that hasn't fixed you for the next two days! Anyway I hate that song. Whats more I think it sounds approximately like all her other songs. But everyone is talking about her. Why? Why? Is her music really so very scintillating? Or could it be that the over produced yawn that is usually sung by the classic bootylicious pvc g-string girlies is actually being sung by someone who is wearing some very. interesting. outfits.?

Style has always been endlessly important. You probably all have your own historical style references, my personal fave is Elizabeth I. Style sticks in one's head and pierces through space and time creating an impression. Of course what is inside shows through anyway no matter what you wear. But whats inside does feed and breed how you dress. And vice versa.

'Clothes are inevitable. They are nothing less than the furniture of the mind made visible.' James Laver

I wish I had been around in the 20's and 30's to stalk James Laver. I bet Tim Gunn knows his books by heart! Anyway he had these theories about dressing that worked around hierarchical principal, utility principal, and seduction principal. Ever since I took to rolling around in parks playing with toy trucks utility principal has featured pretty strongly in my daily dress sense. And around where I live I see lots of hierarchical principal: label on display and generally trying to look $$ ker-ching. I think being stylish is being able to transcend these kind of principals to create something unique. And I think its great if you look like a worst dressed list candidate! Its much worse to dress just to fit in with the crowd. So hooray for Lady Gaga? Well...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

four eyes

'Get the operation! Its comparatively cheap! Why pay endless $$$ for contacts and glasses forever and wear yourself out with all that crap?'

Indeed. Why don't I even look into the op that so many of my friends and family have done? They all sing its praises to the skies. Why do I insist on this tedious existence, scrambling around for my glasses at all hours so I can make my way safely around my house? Am I completely, barking mad?

I have braved endless insults in the name of wearing glasses. It all started from 3rd grade, when the school routine eye checks showed that I did not pass the test. I-would-have-to-wear-glasses they said. I felt like I was being catapulted into the abyss. What would this mean for me socially? Was I to be a nerd? Was I to be one of those undesirables with magnifying glasses in front of their eyes that nobody wanted on their sports team?

I was. Not right at the start of my glasses career. But I think I grew to fit the model slowly. It was in a way comforting. It gave me room to do the things I wanted: read, daydream, be invisible in the screaming crowd. They were like a shield, a big frame to hide behind. Nothing could really touch me, I was removed from the action and given a free pass to observe from behind the glass.

Until I was 13. Then I discovered contact lenses. And make-up and boys. Glasses became my enemy and I embraced contacts as my life-jacket out of the land of the nerds. But I missed wearing glasses. As soon as I realised that I was able to get the breed of boyfriend I was after I breathed a huge sigh of relief and bought myself a pair of John Lennon round hippy glasses and happily went back behind the lense. And to this day in the face of insults (I have been told my glasses make me look ugly, funny, male and all sorts of other things) I carry on. For me, there is nothing quite like the feeling of glasses resting on my nose. Sometimes it is a reminder that we should never identify too much with this body. Sometimes it is a reminder to not take things for granted. And it is always an option, my choice to be 'ugly' or goofy or dorky. Glasses and I have come a long way together. We have a past and a present. And dammit, I want us to have a future!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

DIY Brothel Part II Puttanesca

Yesterday I did it again. Just like that, in 15 minutes you can have a mountain of yum to eat. I love Puttanesca! I've made it 5 times now so I think its finally ready to share with you. I hope you like it as much as I do! I make it slightly differently every time but it always comes out nice and its something really easy that actually works for a dinner party. Its great cause you can have a stash of the ingredients at home at all times and whip it up in emergency situations.

Serves 4
You will need:

  • one deep plate of chopped tomatoes, either fresh or from a tin.
  • about 8 sundried tomatoes wizzed around in the blender with a squirt of slightly concentrated tomato juice
  • one very big onion or one and a half medium sized ones
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • a handful of capers
  • two handfuls of olives, pitted and sliced in half
  • a shake of dried basil
  • 2 or 3 dried chillies or chilli powder
  • 10 anchovy fillets
  • olive oil
  • pepper (salt is optional as the anchovies and olives make the sauce salty)
  • one pack of pasta (any kind will do, I like pennes with this dish)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

So you chop up the onion and garlic (and chillies if you are using dried) and push them around the pan at with the anchovy fillets in olive oil until the vegetables are soft and you can't see the fish anymore. The heat should be around medium. Then add everything else and leave it for about 10 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add another glug of olive, stir it again then pour it over your pasta. Serve with or without Parmesan (I do with) and grated pepper. Oh! And if you live in Greece RUN to the supermarket and get yourself a bottle (or 10) of some 2009 white wine. It was a great year and all the ones I have tried have been droolworthy. And, if you do any of the above please let me know!


Friday, January 8, 2010

DIY Brothel Part I

And a Happy New Year to you all! This New Year I stayed home. It was great. Indeed so great that I no longer have any desire to EVER spend 2 hours in traffic in a miserable struggle to get downtown only to find myself squashed in some bar thats playing semi-shit music and serving a mix of petrol and flat lemonade instead of a real cocktail. Ok so thats an Athens worst case scenario, but if you live here you'll know what I'm on about. Anyway the drinks we had at home were so dreamy, and the whole dinner/cocktail party so lush that everything else on offer in Athens nightlife kind of pales in comparison.

So, Brothel is a restaurant*, and my inspiration for 2010 New Year's mini dinner party. I HEART BROTHEL. Its a bit sleazy in a cheesey Athenian kind of way, has the obvious red lighting and appropriate decor, the cocktails are wicked and the food is Italian and spicey. Eating and drinking there awakens the senses and has you hopping about for more...

and so I would like to present the tequila cocktails! They gave us a swift kick up the bum while the clock hands moved midnight-wards.

  • Maria Theresa Margarita: I love this version of the Margarita because I love honey and I love cranberry juice. To make one: Put two shots of tequila into a shaker. Stir two spoonfuls of honey into the tequila and then add one shot of cranberry juice and 1/2 shot of freshly squeezed lime juice. Add ice to the shaker, shake it all up and fine strain into a glass. It'll hit you before you expect it to.

  • Mexican Mule: This is one of my fave cocktails ever. I drool just thinking about it. To make it you will need sugar syrup. This can be easily made at home by pouring 2 parts of sugar into 1 part of hot water in a saucepan on low heat. Make sure it doesn't boil, then leave it to cool. You can pour it in a bottle and store it in the fridge and it keeps for ages. So anyway, this is how to make one: put 1 1/2 shots of tequila, 3/4 shot of freshly squeezed lime juice and 1/4 shot of sugar syrup in a shaker, add ice and shake. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice and add ginger beer till you reach the top. It makes a great chaser for Maria Theresa Margarita because its lighter and doesn't get you pissed quite as quickly.

Throw in a platter of crackers, gorgonzola cheeze and prosciutto and you're set to go for starters. Next blog I'll put up the main: Pasta Puttanesca of course...

See ya!

*Orfeos 33 kai Dekeleon, Gazi, Athens** tel. 2103470505
**For those who don't know where the hell Gazi is