How to decorate a plastic flower pot using yarn leftovers

Over the last few days I've been working on a new interesting but quite time-consuming project. After crocheting on paper and needle-felting on fabric I'm now experimenting with embroidering my illustrations on canvas. Hopefully I will be able to post some photos soon. Since this is a long process, I sometimes get stuck. This is when I take a break and do something different and relaxing.

I tend to keep materials of all kinds, to reuse them in new things I make. I have a box full of yarn leftovers from knitting and crocheting. I also keep various objects that can be used as surfaces or can be transformed.



This time I took a plastic flower pot, one of those that you get when you buy a flower to plant. My objective was to decorate it, in order to reuse it either as a flower pot or as a small basket. All the tools I've used are very simple: different strands, needles of various sizes and scissors.



First, I made some holes on the pot. I've used an old needle-felting needle for the holes, but depending on the pot and strand thickness you can also use a thick sewing needle. The holes helped me create a grid to use as a base.





















With a long tapestry needle I built my design by passing strands of different textures and colors under the grid.



Homemade ravioli filled with fresh cheese, peas and walnuts (+ easy peasy pea balls)

Homemade fresh ravioli is easier to make than what most people believe. If you want to give it a try for the first time, this is a cool recipe to start with. But even for the experienced pasta makers, I believe this recipe is an interesting alternative to the delicious classic fillings. And if you just find all this too complicated, scroll down and check out my easy peasy pea balls recipe. 




For 2-3 servings (10 ravioli) you will need:

For the dough:
200 gr of flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 glass of water

For the filling:
50 gr of peas
1 small onion
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/2 glass of water
100 gr of fresh anthotyros or ricotta
30 gr of grated cheese
30 gr of shelled walnuts
salt
freshly ground pepper

For the sauce:
200 ml of milk cream
2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon of butter
20 gr of grated cheese
freshly ground pepper






Preparation:

First prepare the dough. Put the flour into a bowl and mix it with the salt. Create a hole in the center and add the egg, the olive oil and a bit of water. Start working the dough with your hands and continue adding water until all ingredients are well incorporated. When it's ready, the dough should be medium-hard and quite elastic. Form a ball, cover it with a clean towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Now start preparing the ravioli filling. Heat the olive oil in a small pot. Chop the onion and saute it for 2-3 minutes. Add the peas, some salt and pepper, a few drops of lemon juice and stir for 2 more minutes. Add the water and let the peas boil at low heat for 15 minutes. When ready, let them cool for a while. Then mash them with a fork, add the fresh and the grated cheese, the walnuts crushed and mix.

Next prepare the ravioli. Dust a surface with some flour and start working the dough with your hands, until it becomes elastic and easy to work. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to make a fine sheet. Cut the sheet into two equal parts, one for the bottom and one for the upper part of the ravioli. Place a teaspoon of filling at equal distances on the bottom sheet. You should make about 10 big ravioli.





















































Cover with the other sheet and softly press down around the filling to remove the trapped air. With a knife or a wheel cutter, cut the dough into squares, leaving at least one finger of distance from the filling end. Dust the ravioli with flour to make sure they won't stick together.

































































In a small pot prepare the sauce. Heat the cream, add the yogurt, the cheese, freshly ground pepper and stir. Turn off the heat, add the butter and stir until it melts. Leave apart and boil the ravioli.

Heat plenty of water in a deep pot. When it starts boiling, add some salt and a few drops of olive oil. Add the ravioli and let them boil for 4-5 minutes. When ready, take them out with a slotted spoon and put them directly into the yogurt sauce. Stir softy for 1 minute and serve hot with crushed walnuts and grated cheese on top.





































Extra recipe: easy peasy pea balls


If making homemade ravioli sounds too complicated, or even if you have some ravioli filling left from the previous recipe, there is an easy and fast idea to make a delicious appetizer.

























Use the mix of peas, cheese and walnuts from the previous recipe to form small balls.




































Dust them with flour, roll them into a lightly beaten egg and cover them with dry breadcrumbs. Heat some olive oil and fry the pea balls until the get a golden color. Enjoy!





Salty cookies with olive oil and cheese: two flavors recipe

This morning I woke up to find the perfect spring weather. It’s one of these days that you can spend being lazy, with a cold drink in one hand and a good book in the other. I couldn't ask for anything more. Or maybe just for a tasty snack to bite under the sun.

An easy and delicious idea for a home-baked snack is the salty cookies with olive oil and ground cheese. The recipe is easy, the ingredients simple and the preparation time short. Using the same base, I made 2 different flavors; one with oregano and sweet paprika and the other one with tomato, dill weed and ground cumin. The great thing is that you can experiment with the flavors, species and ingredients you like and create your own version.

Bowl with salty freshly-baked cookies with olive oil and cheese





































For about 80 salty cookies you will need:
250 gr of flour
80 gr of olive oil
200 gr of strained Greek yogurt
100 gr of ground cheese (I have used graviera)
1 egg
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

For flavor 1:
1 tablespoon of oregano
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika

For flavor 2:
3 tablespoons of tomato juice
½ teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of chopped dill weed

Ingredients photo: olive oil, ground cheese, flour, yogurt, egg, baking powder and spices





Preparation:
1. In a deep bowl mix the egg with the olive oil and stir.
2. Add the yogurt and stir softly until the mixture becomes creamy.
3. Add the ground cheese, the salt and the fleshly ground pepper and stir.
4. Separate the mixture in 2 equal parts to start preparing the flavors. If you only want to make one flavor, skip this step and double the quantity of the flavor ingredients.
5. In a second bowl mix the baking powder with the flour.

Flavor 1:
1. Add the oregano and the sweet paprika and stir.
2. Add half of the flour mix, two tablespoons at a time, and stir until you have a soft smooth dough.

Cookies mixture with oregano and sweet paprika





































Flavor 2:
1. Add the tomato juice, the sweet paprika and the dill weed and stir.
2. Add the other half of the flour mix, two tablespoons at a time, and stir.

Cookies mixture with tomato juice, sweet paprika and dill weed

As soon as your mixture is ready, you can make your cookies using different methods. 

You can roll the dough to a 0,5 cm thickness and cut-out the cookies using a biscuit cutter or a wheel cutter, as I did for the oregano flavor cookies. This way your cookies will become quite hard and crispy.

Rolling pin and oregano dough on the table before rolling

Rolling pin, rolled dough and wheel cutter on the table


Another appropriate method for this type of dough is using a pastry bag. This is how I prepared my tomato flavor cookies. After baking, they will be a bit soft inside and crispy outside.


Using a pastry bag to make the cookies on oven paper
Some unbaked cookies on oven paper and the pastry bag

Sprinkle the first flavor cookies with paprika and the others with oregano, or even with sesame seeds.

Unbaked cookies on oven paper sprinkled with sweet paprika

Unbaked cookies on oven paper sprinkled with sesame seeds

Bake in preheated oven at 180°C for 20 minutes.

Freshly baked cookies with oregano flavor
Enjoy as a snack or combine it with a cold dip sauce or a fresh green salad.

Bowl with salty cookies, next to a flower pot and a book of Rilke




Soft illustrations: needle-felting on fabric

A few yeas ago I discovered the world of the textile fibers. I learned how to crochet, knit and felt and experimented with various materials; classic and less common ones. The needle-felting technique got my attention since the beginning. I started doing little three-dimensional objects and discovered new ways to be creative.

Purple and grey bird and cat and blue cloud, needle-felted on white fabric






As I have already mentioned, I like working with yarn and fibers, using and mixing all kind of techniques. The combination of illustration with textile arts creates a space with unlimited possibilities and applications that interests me a lot. I enjoy doing totally handmade things and I intend to explore how changing the technical parameters, by moving from one medium to another, can lead me to new directions.


Purple, pink and red flowers, needle-felted on white fabric



The last few days I have been“drawing” on fabric with merino wool and felting needles. I chose some simple forms to start with. I found out things that work and others that don’t. This first attempt allowed me to imagine how the limitations or the advantages of each medium can take the other one to the next level. So far I definitively enjoy the process. I keep practicing and developing my ideas.



Purple and grey bird and cat, blue cloud and rain and king's face, needle-felted on white fabric
Purple and grey birda and cat, blue cloud and rain and purple triangle, needle-felted on white fabric
King's face with black hair and beard and yellow crown, needle-felted on white fabric
Yellow and brown bear's head, red flower and green leaves, needle-felted on white fabric
Purple, pink and red flowers with green leaves, needle-felted on white fabric
Purple, pink and red flowers with green leaves, needle-felted on white fabric




The secret life of my imaginary character sketches

My sketchbooks are full of fictional beings, non-realistic animals and little characters' designs. I create them for no specific use. It’s something I just love doing and inspires my imagination. I play with the forms and the expressions and let myself free.

Character design and fictional beings' sketches, drawn with fine black marker
Today I’m sharing a small collection of these sketches with you. The styles vary, but in a way they all seem to be part of the same imaginary world.
Character design and fictional beings' sketches, drawn with fine black marker and color markers



Vegetarian moussaka mini towers

Moussaka doesn't need any recommendations. You just eat it and love it. Either with eggplants, potatoes or even zucchini, few people can resist to it.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine asked me if I could make a vegetarian version of moussaka. So, I tried it for the first time and it turned out to be delicious. Since then I've repeated this recipe many times, experimenting with different ingredients and spices.

A black plate with a vegetarian moussaka mini tower

My vegetarian moussaka mini towers recipe is the lighter and -visually speaking- the most creative version. It's made with eggplants and potatoes, combined with tomato sauce and creamy homemade béchamel sauce. The eggplants are baked in the oven, the potatoes are simply boiled and the béchamel is butter-free. So, not only it is a vegetarian dish, but also it's a healthier way to enjoy moussaka; while the mini towers presentation creates a playful look.

So, for those who have time and patience here is my recipe for 8 mini towers:

For the tomato sauce:
150 ml of tomato juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 fresh onions
1 dry onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons of red wine
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
peel from orange
salt
sweet paprika
pepper

For the béchamel sauce:
400 ml of semi-skimmed milk
100 gr of flour
100 gr of hard grated cheese (I use kefalotyri)
1 egg yolk


For the rest:
2 big eggplants
2 big potatoes
1/3 water glass of olive oil
1 tablespoon of dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon of hard grated cheese


Ingredients for the recipe: eggplants, potatoes, onions, olive oil, ground cheese, milk, flour, egg and spices
Preparation:

1. Wash the potatoes and boil them unpeeled in a deep pot for 30 minutes. When they are ready, let them cold, peel them and cut them into fine slices.
2. Cut the eggplants into 1 cm thick slices. With a basting brush spread on both sides of the slices some olive oil and add some salt. Bake them in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes, until they are soft.

Tomato sauce:
1. Chop the garlic, the dry and the fresh onions. 
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan and add the garlic and the onions. Saute them for 3-4 minutes. Add salt, freshly ground pepper, sweet paprika to taste and stir
3. Add the wine, lower the heat and continue to stir for 2 more minutes.
4. Add the tomato sauce, the cinnamon stick, the cloves and the orange peel, as well as a few drops of fresh orange juice, and the sugar and stir.
5. Let the tomato sauce cook over low heat for 45 minutes.

Béchamel sauce:
1. Heat the milk in a deep pan.
2. Start adding the flour slowly using a sieve and stir continuously.
3. Once the flour is dissolved, add the cheese and stir slowly until it becomes creamy.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Add salt and pepper.
5. Beat slightly the egg yolk and pour it slowly into the béchamel, stirring continuously for a couple of minutes. 

And now comes the fun part. Start building the towers with one slice of potato, one slice of eggplant, some tomato sauce and cheese. Repeat but this time add some béchamel on the top. Add one more potato slice with some tomato sauce and one eggplant slice with some tomato sauce. Finally pour some béchamel sauce, allowing it to fall around. Add a bit of dry breadcrumbs and grated cheese on the top.

Bake them in the oven at 180°C for 45 minutes. 

Building the moussaka tower step 1: one slice of potato, one slice of eggplant above and tomato sauce and cheese on top
Building the moussaka tower step 2: one more slice of potato and one of eggplant and some bechamel on top

Building the moussaka tower step 3: one more slice of potato and eggplant above and tomato sauce on top

Building the moussaka tower step 4: bechamel cream on top of the moussaka tower
A black plate with a vegetarian moussaka mini tower







Illustrations of life and creatures in the village

Being surrounded by nature and open sky all of a sudden is a life-changing experience. There is a beautiful anarchy out there and a rare balance between simplicity and complexity. The senses capture movements, smells, sounds, while the mind focuses on details of the nature and its creatures.

This blend of impressions is what I aim to reflect in my latest illustration work. It’s a series of colorful sketches inspired by everything around me. I intend to borrow the living creatures’ perspective and to enter into unknown micro-worlds, in an imaginary way. 

Colorful illustration with a cute cat, two angry cats, a monster, flowers, a bird and a ball

Colorful illustration with mountains, flowers, a cat and a mouse, clouds and rain

Colorful illustration with many plants, flowers and imaginary creatures floating