Crochet

Owls for mobiles

It was Christmas 2016 and I was travelling home for the holidays. I was going to meet my friends and I was looking for some small present for each one of them. Earlier that year we had some common activity in Athens that had an owl as a mascot and I knew the girls are fond of owls. So I came up with a nice and funny idea for a present: owl mobile cases.

green owl

The pattern of the cases is by Linda Cyr and is for free. It is nicely explained and it is a simple project with mostly single crochet stitches. The only tricky point about this project is to make the case big enough for the mobile you have in mind. The pattern suggests a gauge and some size, but the best is to check your own mobile. The important round is the first one of the body, which is going to be the base of the case, so it needs to be wide enough for your mobile to fit.

I made three cases in total, all of them for presents, so I was trying to have a size between my mobile, which is small, and my husband’s, which is rather big. I knew that one of my friends got a new mobile that is much bigger than average ones, so I had to ask her for the size of her mobile without giving her any hints about why I needed it. So I told her that my sister is looking for a new phone and I wanted her opinion about her own, but size was important, so she had to tell me how big her phone was!

red owl

So as explained already, I followed the instructions of the pattern and I used a CLOVER Amour 6 mm hook. For the fitting I checked how round 1 of the body fitted with the mobile. That being ok, I continued with the rest of the rounds and I was checking periodically by inserting my mobile.

I made three cases closely following the colour suggestions of the pattern. The first one was green and blue (I used Stylecraft Special DK 1259 – Bright Green for the body and Stylecraft Special DK 1829 – Empire for the wings and the head), the second one was red and brown ( I used Stylecraft Special DK 1010- Matador for the body and Stylecraft Special DK 1054 – Walnut for the wings and the head), and the third one was majestically white (I used Stylecraft Special DK 1001 – white for the whole owl). The legs and the yellow eyes were made with Stylecraft Special DK 1114 – Sunshine and the brown eyes of the green owl with Stylecraft Special DK 1035 – Burgund. For the eyes I used dark coloured Acrylic stones in different sizes and for the nose I found some nice fitting oval brown wooden buttons.

white owl

I should note that for the red/brown owl that was bigger than the size of the pattern, I had to modify the flap of the head so as to fit my measurements. I made the base as long as the the body was and then started decreasing gradually from both sides so as to make it triangular and reach a row with 3 stitches. That’s why it seems to be a bit longer than the rest of the owls.

I hope the girls enjoyed their presents as much as I enjoyed making them!

P.S. Concerning the links used here, please check my Disclaimer.

Bullet journal

Setting up April

March is almost over and it is time to set up my journal for the next month. In this post I will show you how I work.

My months start always in a new right page. I have the luxury of moving my pages around, as I use a Filofax Clipbook, so I don’t have to worry about how many pages I need to skip.

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The first page of every month is dedicated to an introduction and I use it as an open canvas. Being more of a practical than artistic person, it is the last page I complete during the process I am describing in this post. I tend to do a small sketch or something, using as inspiration an incident or an object I acquired during the last days before I start working on this page. For example in January I saw a cute small owl on a Christmas napkin and I copied it as simply as possible.

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Last week I received a few stensils that I ordered for using in my bullet journal and some new pens (a PIGMA MICRON Fineliner set), so I decided to try these in the first page for April.

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The second page of every month is my monthly log. I usually create a box of 7×6 for the seven days per week and the five weeks per month. The extra row is so as to write the names of the days. This month is an exception, as it starts on a Sunday and it finishes on a Monday, so I needed seven rows in total.

Once I have created the frame, I decide on a colour to use for this month. For April I used a pinkish one, since it is the first month that the flowers are blooming! I use this colour from my favourite STABILO Fineliner point 88 colour pens for all the labels and the small things that refer to the month, all throughout the pages I create during this month. The following step is to copy in this monthly log all the entries that have accumulated in the future log in the beginning of my journal, or anywhere else until today. And so my second page is ready.

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In the third page I try to collect the notes that from experience are scattered around during the month. I decide on a few habits that I want to track this month and set up my monthly tracker. I also like to dedicate a big box where I put the tasks that I do or have to do during the month. For example this month I am planning a trip back home so as to solve some legal matters, but since I do not have the weekly log of that week yet, I make the list here. In addition I use this box to have a glance of the month in the end, so I note the books I read or the projects I complete.

In the end of my page I dedicate a small box to notes that will have to be included in the next month or just things that I will need to consider during that month. This box will be useful during the setting up of May.

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The fourth page of my monthly setup is the first weekly log. This is a special month, as a mentioned already, with the first day being a Sunday, so as an exception I included it in the last weekly of March. So this weekly log starts from Monday 2nd April. I have shown you already, that I like the one-page weekly logs, where I have two columns for tasks and notes and one for the weather.

Having the luxury of the Filofax Clipbook, I also set up a few pages that I consider essential for the month, but will be placed rather later in the numbered pages. For example, I already created my “a sentence a day” log (using the colour dedicated for this month).

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Before considering the setting up finished with my April monthly log, I do two small things:

  1. I create a small index marking with washi tape, so as to be able to turn to the month easily when I open my bullet journal and

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2. I number the first pages I created and then make an entry in my index.

These are the first essential pages for the month of April for me. They don’t take more than an hour to setup, of course excluding the first introductory page.

Once the month starts and I have something to include, I will create the “memories” page for it, too. But no need to do so already! Still a few days to create memories for March!

P.S. Concerning the links used here, please check my Disclaimer.

Puzzles

Puzzle: Heaven – Hell

A hobby of both me and my husband is puzzling! I have liked puzzling since I was a child. At that point I was even going through the process of gluing them together, so as to be able to decorate them in my room, when I would get one of my own (I grew up sharing a room with my sister). Well when I moved by myself, this was about 3000 km away from my parents’ house, so my puzzles stayed behind.

When I met my husband, I discovered a new way of puzzling. In his family they were keen puzzlers for generations, but in the end they were destroying the puzzle and setting it aside in the attic or somewhere, so as to have the fun of doing it again some time later! And yes I have to admit I adopted this idea too!

Last week, the weather was cold and I got in mood of puzzling. We had bought two new ones since Christmas and they were just standing on a shelf, so last Thursday I brought one of them down and opened it!

Traditionally we are Ravensburger puzzle fans. But when we went for Christmas shopping last December, we discovered a new company: Heye.

They have two series that looked interesting for us. One of them is called Panorama and has beautiful pictures from sights around the world. At Christmas we bought the Milford Sound Panorama Puzzle from this series that looks like a postcard of Milford Sound in New Zealand. The other series we found interesting has funny drawings of stereotypes for a subject, such as Alpine Fun Puzzle (it shows what is typical and stereotype for a day in the Alpes), Say Cheese! Puzzle (the equivalent for a day in the Netherlands) etc.

The puzzle I have been busy with the last days belongs to the second category (the funny drawings) and is entitled Heaven – Hell Puzzle.

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The puzzle finished!

The puzzle starts on the top with a depiction of Heaven, with God, angels, St. Peter etc.

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God in heaven

In the middle comes the normal world, with things people worship: different religions, money, fame etc. Towards the bottom comes Hell, with fires and sinners.

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Please leave your soul here!

All these are depicted in a funny way, with several funny things happening within the frame of the puzzle.

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A funny small detail of the puzzle

It is a puzzle of 1500 pieces, so not so big but sufficient! It is in a equivalently funny triangular box and is accompanied by a big detailed poster, so as to be able to trace the pieces down. It is exactly from this poster that I have made most of the detailed photos, as the small individual details are a bit easier to show from the poster than from the puzzle with the lines of the puzzle pieces.

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The triangular box

The pieces are of nice quality (equivalent to Ravensburger) and there is a nice balance among the possible variations of pieces. I am a puzzler that pays attention to the shape more than the actual picture. But in these puzzles that are cartoons I have started looking at the depiction on the pieces too! It is so much fun to puzzle with these! It is much easier to make the individual scenes separately and try to connect them afterwards. This way I can really find out what is happening in there and enjoy it!

It was such a funny activity to spend some cold days! I would like to try some more of these puzzles!

P.S. Concerning the links used here, please check my Disclaimer.

Bullet journal

Habit tracker

One of the most common trackers used in the bullet journal is the habit tracker. This is the term to describe a system to monitor daily habits. It is a really useful tool to motivate yourself to follow healthy regimes or other goals, as well as monitor patterns that exist in your life and understand yourself better.

In this post I will discuss some of the most common habits people tend to track and give you tips about this tracker. Keep in mind that this feature should be adjusted to your needs and habits and that you don’t need to include something just because somebody else does.

To begin with, I should mention that habit trackers can be daily, weekly, monthly and in rare cases annually. I would recommend to use a weekly or a monthly habit tracker, as with the daily one you really miss the point of tracking and having an annual one means that you have decided to follow this habit for a whole year. Weekly or monthly layouts have the advantage of letting you experimentise with both the layout and the habits you are tracking. For example for several months you might be tracking smoking in an effort to cut it, but once you have achieved that you can focus on something else. For some months you might have to take a medication and for some others not.

The simplest layout is to have a table with the days and the habits you are following. The table can be horizontal or vertical in the page of your journal. This layout is the one I am using in my journal myself:

20180319_130601Of course there are more creative ways to track your habits, such as the one from The Petite Planner, where she combines several different layouts.

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Concerning what to track, the choices are uncountable! Below I am mentioning some examples, grouped in categories.

Health

  1. Water consumption
  2. Fruit or vegetables consumption
  3. No alcohol
  4. No sugar
  5. No smoking
  6. Sports
  7. Calorific intake (usually below a value set as maximum)
  8. Taking vitamins or medication
  9. Eat breakfast

Household chores

10. Tidying house
11. Laundry
12. Cooking at home
13. Watering plants
14. Paying bills
15. Taking care of pets (feeding fish, walking dog etc.)

Personal improvement

16. 8+ hours of sleep (or setting some time that you want to go to bed and/or get up)
17. Personal hygiene (face cleaning, showering etc.)
18. Floss or teeth care
19. Self care
20. Meditation or Yoga
21. Studying time or homework done
22. Time spent in a project
23. Time spent in a hobby
24. Time spent with children
25. Reading
26. Working on your bullet journal (or your blog)
27. Contacting friends or parents
28. Try something new
29. No spend day

Well, the list can get endless. You can track as many things as you want. Personally, I found out that I behave better if I focus in a few of them and not spend time monitoring things I never do or things I do every day anyway. But the best is for you to try and find out what you like most! Go ahead, prepare your habit tracker for next week!

 

Books

Γκιακ του Δημοσθένη Παπαμάρκου

Today my post is about the best Greek book I read so far this year and my review will be in Greek!

Το πρώτο μου ποστ στα Ελληνικά, για ένα δυνατό βιβλίο που διάβασα τον Ιανουάριο, το Γκιακ του Δημοσθένη Παπαμάρκου!

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Γκιακ σημαίνει αίμα στα αρβανίτικα, και κατ’ επέκταση αίμα, συγγένεια, φυλή αλλά και φόνος για εκδίκηση. Είχα ακούσει πολλά για αυτό το βιβλίο. Φίλοι μου είχαν μόνο καλά λόγια να πουν. Συνήθως δεν ευχαριστιέμαι διηγήματα, δεν μου αρέσει όταν η ιστορία τελειώνει γρήγορα και δεν μου επιτρέπει να μείνω στον κόσμο του βιβλίου για μεγάλο χρονικό διάστημα. Κι όμως αυτό το βιβλίο ήταν όντως όπως μου έλεγαν οι φίλοι μου!

Το Γκιακ αποτελεί μια συλλογή εννέα διηγημάτων, οι ήρωες των οποίων έχουν ένα κοινο: είναι παλέμαχοι της μικρασιατικής εκστρατείας. Η Μικρασιατική εκστρατεία είναι ίσως θέμα σύνηθες και πολυχρησιμοποιημένο, αλλά το βιβλίο αυτό είναι διαφορετικό.

Σε καθένα από τα διηγήματα του Γκιακ ο ήρωας προσπαθεί να αντιμετωπίσει τους δαίμονές του, αυτούς που δημιουργήθηκαν λόγω των τρομακτικών εμπειριών του πολέμου. Είναι απλοί στρατιώτες και δεν αναλύουν τα στρατηγικά λάθη και τις επιτυχίες. Επέζησαν τον πόλεμο και συνεχίζουν να ζουν μια φυσιολογική ζωή, αλλά με κάποιο “κουσούρι”. Η επιφάνεια συγκρούεται με την συνείδηση ή το υποσυνείδητο που έχει βάρη. Όταν ξεκινά ο αναγνώστης το κάθε διήγημα, όταν συναντά τον ήρωά του, αυτός ο ταλαιπωρημένος άνθρωπος αισθάνεται την ανάγκη να εκμυστηρευθεί κάτι που τον βαραίνει. Η αφήγηση είναι σε όλα τα διηγήματα σε πρώτο πρόσωπο και σε στυλ διαλόγου με τον αναγνώστη ή με κάποιον άλλο εκεί γύρω. Το χαρακτηριστικό αυτό είναι πιθανότατα και ο λόγος που δεν με ενόχλησε το τέλος του ενός διηγήματος και η αρχή του αλλου. Ένιωσα σαν να μιλούσα με τον παππού μου που πολέμησε στον δεύτερο παγκόσμιο και τον οποίο πρακτικώς δεν γνώρισα, αφού πέθανε όταν ήμουν δύο ετών.

Οι ιστορίες είναι μικρές και γραμμένες σε λίγο ιδιωματική γλώσσα, κοντά στην αρβανίτικη διάλεκτο. Παρά το γεγονός ότι δεν έχω καμία σχέση με την διάλεκτο αυτή, με καταγωγή από το βόρειο Αιγαίο, η γλώσσα του βιβλίου όχι μόνο δεν με δυσκόλεψε ιδιαίτερα, αλλά το έκανε ιδιαίτερο. Μου αρέσουν βιβλία που αξιοποιούν διαλέκτους, καθώς έχω την αίσθηση πως τείνουν να εξαφανιστούν.

Το Γκιακ είναι ένα βιβλίο 120 σελίδων. Θα σκεφτόταν κάποιος πως εύκολα διαβάζεται σε μια μέρα. Λάθος! Οι ιστορίες είναι δυνατές και πολλές φορές βίαιες, η καθεμία με διαφορετικό τρόπο και προσωπικά χρειαζόμουν χρόνο να τις σκεφτώ και να τις χωνέψω. Μετά την εκμυστήρευση του ενός ήρωα, δεν είχα όρεξη να τον ξεχάσω και να γνωρίσω τον επόμενο. Η αλήθεια είναι πικρή και πολλές φορές άσχημη.

Καταπληκτική δουλειά. Από τα βιβλία που με σημάδεψαν, με έναν τρόπο που μου θύμησε τα βιβλία που διάβαζα όταν ήμουν παιδί. Η θεματολογία δύσκολη αλλά πραγματική. Νομίζω πως αν με ρωτούσε κάνεις να ξεχωρίσω ποιο διήγημα μου άρεσε περισσότερο θα απαντούσα μάλλον το πρώτο “Ντο τ’α πρες κοτσσίδετε” και το “Ήρθε ο καιρός να φύγουμε”. Νομίζω πως ακούγοντας την λέξη ‘γκιακ’ θα σκέφτομαι πάντα την ιστορία με τις κοτσίδες!

 

 

 

Crochet

Temeraire: a crocheted red dragon

Today I will introduce you to another of my favourite amigurumis: the fierce red dragon we call Temeraire.

The name comes from a series of  9 books by Naomi Novik, with the name Temeraire, which involves a Chinese dragon. I have not read the books yet, but my husband has and we have been discussing about it. If you are interested, the first book is called His Majesty’s Dragon, but I really like the cover of the 5th book:

Now back to the crochet subject, the red fierce dragon is a free pattern by Amigurumi to go. It is a really detailed pattern split in three parts and accompanied by detailed videos.

I would say that it is a rather medium to advanced project and definitely not a beginners’ one. It involves a combination of single and half double crochet stitches for most of the body and occasionally double crochet for the decorations  (US terminology). In addition, it is a quite big amigurumi: the finished dragon is about 40cm tall.

Admittedly, the detailed instructions and the videos are of big help, but the small details that make the dragon look amazing are a bit demanding.

 

I found the shaping of the wings, the assembling of the eyes so as to look as identical as possible and the spikes a bit tedious and demanding. But as I said, they are the elements that made the dragon look really nice.

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The wing with the pipecleaner around and the two layers
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The different steps in sewing the eyes

Temeraire was created during the end of 2016 as a present for my husband who loves fantasy books and dragons. It took me a couple of months to finish him, as I had to work on him when he was not around to see me and while I had a full-time job that kept me outside the house for about 12 hours. But it was worthy and it was a total surprise for him!

Just a couple of days ago, I finished a second dragon, as a dear friend was visiting us two weeks ago and she wants one for herself. It is from this second one that I could get a few photos of the parts in progress.

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Temeraire on the right and his new brother on the left!

I made my first dragon with a CLOVER Amour 4.50 mm hook and as I didn’t like the gaps between the stitches, my second dragon with a CLOVER Amour 4.00 mm hook. For both of them I used my favourite acrylic yarn Stylecraft Special DK 1010 – Matador. Both the dragons have a bit of a support for the head. Temeraire has two pipecleaners rolled around each other, while the new dragon has a bit of medium thickness wire. If you use this kind of support, you need to make sure that the edges are covered and not exposed.

It feels a bit strange to call my first dragon with its name and to have no name for the second one. Well, soon it will be on its journey to find a new family that will like it and hopefully they will find a nice name for it!

P.S. Concerning the links used here, please check my Disclaimer.

Bullet journal

10 collections in my bullet journal

I promised in my previous post about bullet journaling to dedicate a post on collections. Admittedly, they are one of the most interesting and diverse parts of a journal, and I think there will be several posts on this subject.

Collections are all the things that you can have in your journal besides future, monthly or daily logs. In this post I am going to give you examples of my collections. I am not so artistic and I like geometry and symmetry, so my style is minimalistic. I use pinterest for inspiration, but I like trying to create the pages myself by hand, even if they are not a huge artistic success.

Trackers

A big group of possible collections are the trackers, such as:

  1. Mood tracker
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I set up my mood tracker in the beginning of the year and I tend to use one or two colours per day, based on how the day goes. Other people prefer a monthly mood tracker.

2. Movies tracker

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This year I decided to track the movies we are watching. The original idea is to write the movies horizontally, but in an effort to save a bit of space and not have to make a new page again in a month, I decided to write them vertically!

3. Series tracker

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My husband and I like watching a few series. This tracker was another new addition in my bullet journal for this year. This is one of the pages that constantly changes, as we add series constantly, so I decided to have a really basic layout.

4. Books read

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I am reading several books per year. This was the very first collection I created in my bullet journal and it is the only one I am spending a bit more time creating, so that it looks like a library. I have a goal for the number of books I want to read in the year (thanks to goodreads) and so I can set my library up with at least this many books. Oh well I am not a painter, but it looks acceptable, no?

5. Habit tracker

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I like creating my habit tracker every month, as the habits I want to monitor can vary with the month. I try to keep them in a minimum number and not have too many things, as that would rather discourage me from focusing on things I consider important.

I do not just colour the box, as in the rest of my journal. In the habit tracker I try to create a nice pattern! It can be slightly improved I know…

6. Crocheting and knitting projects

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I have tried different ways of tracking these projects. One was making a list of the projects I created during each month, once that month was finished. This year I decided to have a kind of indexing for them in the beginning and special pages with notes for each project inside the rest of my notebook. It is a much more useful way, although I don’t know yet what to make inside those circles I created in the beginning of the year!

Other collections

7. Cleaning schedule

I have tried several ways of monitoring my cleaning schedule. This year I decided to have something concentrated and not just spread around in my weeklies. I wanted something simple and efficient, after all this is the basic idea of my journal! I couldn’t find an idea that would occupy only one page and contain what I had in mind, so I made this combination of trackers:

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The left page, I use more like a motivation so that I don’t skip anything. After all I am a bit of a control freak, so I don’t like missing ticks… The right one is really useful, because they are things that are not done regularly, but it is good to remember the last time they were done!

8. Reading challenges

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I try to follow a reading challenge per year, just for the fun of it. I have to admit, I usually lose my interest around the second half of the year, but I have the best intentions in January! The challenge I follow this year is a bingo type one, where we have to fill a 5×5 table with books that fall in some given categories.

9. Gratitude log

I dedicate one or two pages each month in writing a sentence that characterises each day. I don’t like the title “Gratitude log”, but I name mine “A sentence a day”.

10. Memories

In the end of each month I dedicate a page (or more) for memories. These could be tickets, events, emotions, something that I saw and was interesting, anything that was important for me that month.

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This month’s page is not so exciting yet! The blog is the most amazing thing that has happened!

And this brings me to the end of this post. By now you had a peek in my bullet journal. As I said in the beginning it is not the most artistic one you will find, but I am just trying to give you an idea of what collections I find interesting.