Aleriona's passions are about all the things that interest me. I love my minimalist bullet journal that keeps me organised, I enjoy cooking, especially combining my Greek and Swiss influences and I try to spend any free time I have crocheting, reading books or travelling. My blog is diverse and I try to explain how things are done, in case you want to reproduce them. Enjoy!
Autumn is here! I am not a person that follows the calendar so as to define the season; afterall the climate is changing. But I do like autumn and its melancholy, mainly because of the beatiful colours nature gets. In central and northern Europe, there is enough green all around and it has started already getting the warmer orange and reddish shades that signify autumn for me.
During the past week, my husband and I spent quite some time in the nature, either hiking or walking in the forest or paths in the mountains. During one of the walks in the forest, I got the idea of creating an autumn wreath for our front door, so as to bring some of this autumn feeling at home. And the forest gave me quite a few first ingredients!
I personally appreciate the elegance of a simple wreath. So I just combined a few tree branches with leaves in different shades, a few pine cones and a couple of dried champignons that I had at home by luck.
As base for my wreath, I used a small circle with gardening wire that I made last year for my Christmas wreath. I ended up with enough material for two wreaths and I tried two different ways of fixing the branches around the core circle. In the first one I used a bit of normal wire and in the second nothing at all, just twisting the still flexible branches around the gardening wire. I then used hot glue to adjust the small decorations, such as pine cones, mushrooms or small branches of my rhododendron that has turned bronze too.
I left the two wreaths to dry overnight, so as to make sure that the branches will stay in place and I hanged them the following morning at our door, one towards the inside and one towards the outside. And here is the result!
Our kittens are our princesses at home. I try to make games for them and give them treats from time to time, especially when they return fast in the evening when I call them or when I want to teach them something. There are a lot of treats and snacks available, but I decided to try making some of my own too, especially since I can arrange how much meat they include and how much flour.
For the treats you need:
chicken breast cut in pieces
a tea spoon of catnip (if you want)
a spoon of flour
Start with frying the chicken with a bit of oil and set it a bit aside so that it cools.
When the chicken is cooled down, preheat the oven to 180 C in the air fuction.
Add all the ingredients in a hand blender and create a paste. Empty the paste on baking paper and roll it about 0.5 cm thick,
Cut it in squares using a sharp knive or a pizza cutter.
Bake it in the oven for 15 min until it gets a bit of browned edges.
I let it cool down and cut the pieces even smaller. I store the treats in the fridge and especially Aria loved them!
It is already the 7th week of the Crafts Marathon organised by In my closet, which I am following this summer. This week’s task is to create something made by jeans. The idea comes from Serial Crafter Family. And for this week, I attempted something with sewing.
It is the second time I participate in a Summer Crafts Marathon by In my Closet. The first time was a few years ago, while I was staying in the Netherlands. There was again a task with jeans and I found a brilliant idea for a sewing etui from jeans in a book. It was a cute way to upcycle old jeans and a brilliant organiser for my simple sewing kit, that I have been carrying around with me ever since.
Well. that etui does not look so good anymore and it was never perfectly done, as I sewed it by hand and I was an amateur 🙂 So I decided to make a new one this year!
I am not a skilled sewer, but the past year I have been trying it a bit and I think I have improved a lot. So this time I decided to use the sewing machine I have available.
The idea of the etui is simple. It looks like a book. You just need two pockets that are going to be the covers and then several pieces from the leg of the jeans that are the inside pages.
I sewed the two pockets each on a piece of jeans, so as to make it a bit rubuster, in order to have a bit more fabric for forming the final shape and because I did not like the colour of the jeans fabric from the back. I then cut big pieces from the leg of the jeans, so as to make several pages. I had figured out from my old etui that I like the thicker part where the two parts of the leg are sewed together. My needles can be organised much nicer through that part. So I made sure that I cut the “pages” in such a way so as to have that thicker part in different places. It is a good idea not to align these thicker parts in the “pages”, as it will be more difficult to sew through them. Don’t try to cut the “pages” in shape yet, as it is easier to do it in the end.
Once you have two pockets and as many “pages” as you want, assembly the etui. I managed to sew with my machine through the seven “pages” I made, but it became far too thick to sew the “covers” too. These I sewed by hand. It is better to have a bit of space from the top, so that you don’t miss any of the “pages”. That was what happened to me in the first etui I made and I had to correct it afterwards, something that is far too difficult.
Once your “book” is sewed together on the top, start forming your shape. Make it as you want. I left a bit more space this time at the edges, as they tend to fringe with time . For that reason I sewed them with zigzag stitch too.
The 5th week of the Summer Craft Marathon I am following is over! The task this week was to modify a pair of sandals or flip flops. and it was inspired by Provato me kaskol. By the way the name of this greek crafter means a Sheep wearing a scarf 🙂 It sounds totally Native American to me and it is brilliant!
Anyway I started with an old pair of sandals that I haven’t wore for more than two years now. You know this pair that you liked some time ago, but now not that much, but you don’t get into throwing it. We all have such a pair of shoes no? Anyway, this is how my sandals looked before I started making them over.
I was searching in the internet for ideas and I thought I will try crochetting around it. Well it didn’t stick nicely to my eye, so I abandoned the idea. Then I saw some ideas with ribbons and they looked really nice. So I went through my ribbons and found a really nice blue one that kind of fits the colour of the back strap of the sandals. But making it all blue was lacking something, so I found a silver one that fitted nicely with the blue.
I started folding the ribbons around the straps, so as to see how it looks. They were moving around and I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I decided that the best idea in order to have the same exactly continuation of blue and silver is if I sew them together. Unfortunately I left the sewing machine at my mother’s in-law, so I had to do the sewing by hand. In the end it proved to be good I didn’t use the machine, because I cut the sewed ribbons in four pieces and since I had used a running stitch and I hadn’t fastened off at the top, I could just drag the string a bit down at each cut and make a new knot. Does this make sense to you?
Anyway, I sewed the ribbons and ironed them so that they look nice. I roughly estimated how much I need per strap and I made four more or less equal pieces out of my long double ribbon. And then the disaster started…
I used a bit of hot glue to stick the edge of the pieces at the bottom of the strap and then started rolling it around the strap. The first round was fine, but in the second one they started overlaping and in the fourth one silver was disappearing! Did I already mention I am a perfectionist? So I unrolled and tried with a working knife to remove the solidified hot glue from the inside of the strap. Let’s do it again this time paying more attention to the angle of the ribbon versus the strap in the beginning. That improved the overlapping slightly, but not a lot. Then from the other strap, the problem was reversed: the silver part was overlapping the blue… Last Thursday I spent the day sticking, rolling and then unrolling and unsticking, until I got bored and annoyed and I quitted.
We have to complete each task until Sunday midnight. On Sunday afternoon I started panicking… The deadline will finish and I will be still sticking rolling and unsticking… I closed my eyes, took a deap breath and decided that oh well, the width of the colours is not so important. I also replaced the hot glue with a fast drying repear glue from my husband’s tool box.
I started the same way, putting the ribbon horisontal to the sole and sticking the edge of it folded to the inside. I then proceeded sticking a bit every time I was rolling the ribbon on the top of the strap. As I mentioned I had decided that overlapping is not a problem anymore, so nothing is symmetrical in this craft, except from the original strap. At the end towards the connection of the right and left strap I used only blue ribbon and I stuck it around the vertical part of the straps too. Because the middle always looks a bit messy, I found two nice dark metalling buttons and I fixed them around the connection of the straps both with string and with hot glue.
And I wore my new sandals:
Well, admittedly, it is not one of my most successful crafts, but I think they do look better than before. At least they gained another active year of life, instead of being closed in a box.
Have you tried modifying shoes yourself? Did you enjoy it? How did you do it?
In any case, thanks Provato me Kaskol for the inspiration and motivation, but I am sorry I don’t think I will try it again!
Yesterday was the end of the 4th week of the Crafts Marathon I am participating. The task for this week was to make something using pieces of wood you can find at the sea side inspired by Fountes Rountes . Unfortunately, there is no sea side in Switzerland, so I asked for an alternative, so if we couldn’t find wood from the seaside, we could use wood pieces we find in a forest or by a river. And this is what I made:
For my craft I was first planning to go along the Birs, the river that is closest to my home and find something. But the weather has not been the best and when I tried my harvest was poor. Towards the end of the week, time was pressing, so I asked my husband to go for a walk to the forest. With his help and after a bit of an adventure as the soil was muddy and slippery, my harvest of sticks was amazing!
So now I had to find something to do with them. I was brainstorming (thanks Pinterest!), when I saw this interesting craft: a small teepee by Blue Bear Wood for small LED candles.
The steps to make it are simple:
Choose five sticks that are as long as you want your teepee to be and not too curved. Mine were a bit long , but I just cut them.
Take the three of them and tie them together with your yarn. Then choose something appropriate ( I used a small espresso cup), so as to put it between the sticks and open them up at the bottom, so as to stand.
Cut a cycle out of carton, with the diameter you have opened the sticks. It is better to cut notches where the five sticks will go, but before you do so, decide where the entrance of the teepee will be, so have bigger space at this point. It should be enough, so as to insert or remove the candle.
Then glew the sticks to the carton. Start with the three that are already tied and then tie the other two to them too by rolling a bit of yarn around all five of them. This will help you glew the remaining two too. You can use any glew you think best. I used an epoxy glew.
Then start rolling yarn around all five sticks. Continue at least until the point the two sticks around the entrance start separating, or until you would like your entrance to start. From that point on you don’t go all around the five sticks, but you roll the yarn around the entrance sticks and change orientation of rolling the yarn. That’s why it is better to have smaller pieces of yarns, so as to be able to pass the excess through the sticks. On the bottom part the yarn will be a bit thicker, as the middle of the back side fills faster than the entrances of the teepee.
The trickiest part was to finish the rolling. When you are close to the carton, it won’t be so easy to put the excess of the yarn threw the hole between the sticks and the carton. I used a needle, so as to finish the covering of the teepee. Make a knot in the end so as to avoid unravelling.
Get an LED tea candle and enjoy your teeepee. You should never use a normal candle, as there is high possibility of the whole teepee to burn down and that would be a disaster no?
I enjoyed this craft. It became a bit of a family activity, as my husband helped me a bit with the glewing and as I was making it after dinner with our parents, they also participated in choosing the colours of the yarns.
I think it came out quite nicely. What do you think?
I mentioned already last week that I am participitating in a Crafts Marathon that In my closet, a greek friend of mine is organising. She is sending us a task every Friday and we have a week from Monday to complete it and post a photo of it. The third week just finished last night and its task was to create something using a refreshment (either the liquid itself or something from its packaging). The idea of the task came from Alleycraft, another interesting blogger.
I was brainstorming about what to create. My mind was stuck at the craft of the second week, where I created sunglasses for our mascot Lukas, using the brown bottle of a common Swiss refreshment. Last week was quite warm in central Europe and I spent quite some time on our roof terrace, enjoying the sun and drinking a lot of water. Until one afternoon I was sitting with my husband, consuming a local refreshment, called Flauder, and we noticed the beautiful label on the bottle!
Flauder is a swiss sparkling water flavoured with elderberry flowers and lemon balm, produced in East Switzerland, in the canton of Appenzell Innerhoden. Its name comes from the local word for butterfly and the special about its label is that it has a nice picture inside, as the sparkling water itself is slightly yellow to transparent. Probably no surprise that I like this sparkling water, as you may have noticed that I like elderberry flowers.
So I decided to cut the cute picture from the label and make it into a postcard, typical of Appenzell!
I had a couple of white cartons cut already for postcards and after sticking the part of the label, I thought that it doesn’t look so interesting with the white background. So I complemented the background, trying to follow loosely the label’s scene. I used coloured pencils and sketched a few small details to make it more interesting. I have to admit I am not so good in drawing, but I think the result doesn’t look that bad. It is definitely something new for me, as I avoid drawing.
Thank you Alleycraft for the motivation to overcome some personal barriers!
This summer I am participating in a Crafts Marathon that In my closet, a greek friend of mine is organising. She is sending us a task every Friday and we have a week from Monday to complete it and post a photo of it. The second week just finished last night and its task was to think of a song that comes in our minds when we hear summer and get inspired by it so as to create something. The idea of the task came from Iwanna be xara, another interesting blogger.
I was discussing the task with my husband during the previous weekend and we agreed immediately to the song that means summer for us! It is the song “Ab in den Süden” from the german reggae group Seeed. At least, we thought that the song was from them. It seems that if I look for the song in youtube, it appears that it belongs to a guy called Buddy and has really really awful videoclips, so here you can hear the song without any videoclip.
Anyway, back to the Crafts Marathon, we have been discussing for maybe even a couple of years now, that Lukas (our mascot) needs to enrich his clothes. So this was a good opportunity, to prepare Lukas for his holidays to the south of Europe!
What is the first things you need when you go for holidays to a warm country? Of course swimming suit, flip-flops, shirt, hat and sunglasses.
The first addition that he got is a new pair of shorts (his swimming suit, as technically he is not really waterproof) and a new shirt. These were easy, as I created the patterns for his clothes three years ago, before our move from the Netherlands. This time I decided to make them a bit more colourful than his old set, For his shorts, I chose a bright and summery orange shade from King Cole Pricewise, called Sorbet (3102), and for his shirt the interesting reddish shade Claret (1123) by Stylecraft Special DK. I usually use Stylecraft Special DK, but as they are getting more difficult to find them in Switzerland, I am trying other brands too. I combined both of them with a bit of Black (1002) by Stylecraft.
Then he needed some flip-flops. Well, this was a bit tricky. Lukas needs his shoes so as to stand. Already from the previous pair of shoes I did for him, I used a bit of reinforcement so as to make him a bit more stable. So I crocheted two identical soles which i sewed together after including an equal size of carton in between. Surpisingly, the carton is not destroyed yet, after three years of use, but I wanted an improvement in the material I used. So I used pieces of hardened plastic from a packaging and cut it at the size of his soles. The tricky part was how to make the bands of the flip-flops. Lukas can’t hold his shoes and it is a common problem that sooner or later he drops them and if we don’t pay attention he can lose them. With flip-flops the problem would be even more imminent, as they don’t hold on a big surface of the foot. I solved the problem by using hair bands! I crocheted around it while creating the upper part of the sole (I used Black (1002) by Stylecraft) and then attached it two point to the back of the flip-flops, while attaching the two parts of the soles with the plastic reinforcement in the middle.
Lukas liked his new flip-flops! Unfortunately his toes are a bit small, so he has to wear them in the middle of his four toes and they can have two modes:
the safe mode. It is the mode that they hold a bit better on his foot and he doesn’t risk losing them, but it doesn’t look so nice.
the fancy mode. It is the normal way of wearing flip-flops or sandals and he likes this way more.
Now it was time to prepare his sunglasses. In Switzerland, we have a refreshment that comes in a brown PET bottle. What better first material! I got a bit of help in this task from my husband. We cut a round from the bottle and we tried several widths so as to fit around Lukas’ head. Then we shaped it, so as to fit over the nose and around the ears and we used a white marker to make it look like sunglasses. In the end we painted the white part with a watercolour that we liked. This was a really funny process! We were laughing quite a lot!
What else should he pack for his holidays? He already has a hat and a backpack and he needs a passport! In order to make a notebook, all you need is some pages, a piece of carton for the outside, a needle and some thread. I used a dark red coloured carton (close to the shade european passports have) and I cut pieces of paper at a size so that folded they would fit in Lukas’ backpack. I sewed the paper and the carton together and voila!
And now that all the components were ready, Lukas had to have a bath and do a bit of sunbathing. We can’t wear the new clothes without washing first, right?
And now he is ready!!! Doesn’t he look more summery than before?
P.S. Lukas is a bought pattern, but his clothes I am making alone with my own patterns. If somebody is interested in them, I can share them.
This is the second of a series of posts I am writing about DIY projects that I have made for my two young cats. As I mentioned in the first post, I have gone through the process of checking about making some games for them myself. There are several ideas in the internet and it can serve as insipiration, but in the end it comes down to three things: 1. how simple it is 2. how much time it takes to make it and 3. how expensive it is.
Cats can be a lot of fun, but especially young ones like ours need a lot of games, as they get easily bored. This time I made two different games for them, one from a box and toilet rolls and one from fabric. Below I will show you each of these two games and explain the three aspects I mentioned above.
An intelligence game made from a box and toilet rolls
Most of the games for kittens do not stimulate their intelligence and the ones that do are usually a bit expensive. With a box and a few toilet rolls, you can make a game yourself, really easily and with minimum cost!
The number of toilet rolls you will need depends on the size of the box you will use. For my box that was about 15×21 cm, I used 20 toilet rolls. I decided to stick each row of toilet rolls together but not the columns too. Like this the toilet rolls do not come out individually, but since Stella is a bit of a destroyer (we call her Räuber), I can still replace the toilet rolls in sets of four if they are destroyed.
The idea of this game is to throw some treats or snacks of the kittens inside the box and let them find a way to get them out. I avoid using the dry food they eat normally, as there is an easier source of that treat: their plates. From our kittens, Stella is really fast in understanding the games and dominates them, while Aria is a bit more timid and slow and in the end lets her dominating sister play with the game…
A stuffed game from fabric
This is similar to the sock I explained in my previous post. It is a bit more sophisticated and took a bit more time to make it. It requires simple sewing skills.
I used a random piece of fabric I had (it was a piece of a kitchen towel I had destroyed several years ago). I cut it in a rectangular shape of about 30×8 cm. You can make it at any size you want. I folded this piece in double from the back side, ironed it and sewed it with a simple stitch (well, i think next time I will use a zig-zag stitch) . I started from the bottom side and then continued along the long side almost to the top. Honestly I am an amateur seamstress, so this project was for practising my skills with the sewing machine. The sewing can be done by hand too, but it will take a bit more time if you want it not to open the first time the cats bite it.
Once the stick is closed from the three sides and open only from the top, I started turning it around from the good side. This step might get a bit tricky if your stick is too narrow. Once it was turned around, I used a bit of cotton batting to fill it up. When it was as full as I wanted it, I sewed the top side by hand. I used the invisible or ladder stitch, that connects two pieces of farbic together without traces. And it was ready!
As a conclusion, this project is slightly more complicated than all the previous mentioned projects, as it requires sewing. But it is equally cheap and it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to make it. Both Aria and Stella liked this game, as they like anything that they can bite and kick and in the end kill.
Since last October, we have two young cats in our house: Aria and Stella. They are sisters and by now 7 months old.
Our cats are staying inside the house and, as normal young cats, they are either sleeping or running around like crazy! With so active cats, I consider it safer to keep them occupied with games, so as to minimise the small damages that cats do in the house. Of course they have a plethora of small games, such as mice, balls and furry animals, and we got them a scratching post, so that they refrain from scratching the furniture.
Besides all the traditional games that cats have, I have gone through the process of checking about making some games for them myself. There are several ideas in the internet and it can serve as insipiration, but in the end it comes down to three things: 1. how simple it is 2. how much time does it take to make it and 3. how expensive it is.
So here, I will show you two projects I did and explain the three aspects I mentioned above.
This is a really simple project. You just need a sock, preferrably smaller than bigger, some cotton batting and if you want a bit of catnip. You fill the sock with batting and a bit of a catnip, you tie a secure knot on the top so that the filling doesn’t come out and you give it to the kitten. In the version I saw in the internet, the sock was full of catnip without batting, but I would not want my cats to get so “high”, so I used mostly batting mixed with a little bit of catnip, just for the smell.
It is one of the simplest projects I have ever done and it doesn’t need more than 5 minutes to complete it, once you have all of the ingredients. In addition, its cost is minimum, as socks are usually available around and you can use batting from any old pillow or if you have any for other projects.
While I was expecting the kittens to be taken away from their mom I was looking for some type of scratcher, so as to avoid them scratching the furniture. I saw the really nice looking CanadianCat Company XXL Orbit 2.0 Lounge and ordered one, but it was never sent and then the order was cancelled and refunded. In the meanwhile, the cats were here and by luck we had available a big cartboard box from some garden furniture we had bought. So I made my own!
The idea is simple: You cut the available cartboard in stripes of the same approximately width and then you start rolling them one after the other one in a spiral. Once one piece finishes, you align the next one and stick them together with a bit of tape. When you reach a satisfactory diameter, you turn it around and glue on the bottom a simple piece of fabric. This helps so that it does not move that much on the floor and to avoid collecting small pieces of cartboard every time they scratch it.
This project needs a bit more time and patience. Of course, it depends on how big you want to make your scratcher. We made one with 40 cm diameter. But it is definitely not expensive. And it does not get easily destroyed!
From my experience I have a few tips. You can use any kind of cartboard that needs to go to the recycling, but it is better if it is a rather thick cartboard. For this project, the layers in the middle are more important than the flat sides. There is a drawback though: thick cartboard is more difficult to roll and curve as you like. In order to facilitate that, I was creating rimples in every new stripe before adding it to the main spiral. This way it was rolling easier and also nicer, without creating corners in my spiral.
You can add some catnip in this one too, but it is not needed. My cats like it anyway, both as a scratching and as a sleeping point, as you can see in the photos.
December is here! This month is connected to Christmas. By now all shops have decorated their vitrines and the municipalities the streets. Last weekend we even had our Christkindlimarkt (the Christmas market) in our town!
In our home we follow a mixture of Greek and Swiss customs. The past two weeks were the time for me to prepare for our house for Christmas. This year we have kittens in our house, so decorations have to stay minimum.
The first thing I decided to make is an Adventskranz or Advents wreath. It is a common custom of central Europe to have four candles that you light one after the other one each of the four Sundays before Christmas. The first one is usually during the last days of November or early December and the last one of course the closest possible to Christmas. This year they are all in December, (2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd of the month).
The most important ingredient of an Adventskranz is the candles. I found four really nice candles on offer during November (dark red with small golden stars around), so I had that ones already. In addition, we had collected a few fir branches during a Sunday walk in the woods, so I decided to use them too, as well as some of the few small Christmas decorations we have collected during the years. The whole thing was quite simple to make, but the result was satisfying for us!
I was left with several more fir branches, so I decided to make a Christmas wreath. As before, I used materials that we had already at home: wire, pipe-cleaners, small ornaments.
I started by making a small circle with the wire we use for gardening.
I then choose one of my longest branches and by using red pipe-cleaners I secured it in place together with the wire. This was the base of my wreath. Then with the help of my husband, we were releasing parts of the pipe-cleaners, so as to secure smaller branches besides the base, so as to give to the wreath a bit of more volume. In the end we hanged the small decorations using a bit of thinner wire.
I had a couple of more branches left and was trying to think of something different to make, but in the meanwhile Aria decided she likes them a lot and claimed them for herself. Oh well, we can all have fun from a few fir branches!
Besides decorations, Christmas is not the same without the traditional cookies. With the help of my mother in law, last weekend was dedicated to our favourite Swiss Christmas cookies. In Switzerland there are countless types of Christmas cookies. We made eight different types of Christmas Guetzli:
Mailänderli: I think one of the most typical Christmas cookies here
Zimtsterne: Definitely one of the most typical Christmas cookies both in Austria and in Switzerland
Pfeffernüsse: The most typical Christmas cookies in the Netherlands (there they are called peppernoten) and quite widespread in central Europe too. They have a little bit of white pepper inside, thus called peppernuts
Brunsli: Another of the most typical Christmas cookies in Switzerland
Chräbeli: Cookies with anise. They are quite time-consuming as they need to dry for 24-48 hours before being baked
Besides these, we also made two types of chocolaty drops: cornflakes with chocolate and chocolate almonds. These are easy, as they do not need baking. Just melting the chocolate and mixing it with the cornflakes or the pieces of almonds.
So only the Greek touch was missing! I added it last week, when I made my absolutely favourite Christmas sweets: Melomakarona. In my previous post you can find my own recipe for these typical Greek Guetzli.
So now we are totally ready for Christmas! Hopefully the sweets will last till the end of the month. In any case, the branches were destroyed by Aria within a week. Now she has to find a new game!