Kserotigana: traditional Cretan sweet recipe illustrated!

Illustrated recipe of kserotigana, a traditional cretan sweet
Today's recipe is one of the most delicious traditional sweets from the island of Crete. This time instead of cooking, I've illustrated the original recipe. (Make sure to click on the image to view it bigger). I recently discovered the wonderful website They draw and cook and I got motivated to participate in this inspiring project! So this is my first submission. For this illustration I also created my own handmade character set, which still has no name. Any ideas?

Although illustrating this amazing recipe was a fun and creative process, I have to admit that now I can't wait to make it for real and enjoy the crispy texture and the honey syrup flavor that our grandmothers combined so well in this little sweet pleasure!

How to make handmade wooden jewelry with simple tools

If you have ever bought a ready made canvas frame, you should have noticed that it normally comes with a pack of wooden stretcher keys. I had a couple of those little bags, that I didn't need to use as stretchers. These keys are made of balsa wood, which is soft and easy to cut. Since I hate throwing away any kind of material, I thought I should use them to create something.

Last week I made some earrings using cork and thread and I really enjoyed the process and the result. I decided to keep working on some handmade jewelry ideas, this time upcycling these little pieces of wood.

Handmade wooden pendant

Handmade wooden jewelry
Handmade wooden foc earrings
If you don't have canvas stretcher keys, you can buy a sheet of balsa wood, about 0,3 mm thick. I'm sure the result will be even better. To cut, smooth and paint the wood I've used simple tools I have at home: a ruler, a cutter, a nail file, a small screwdriver and round nose pliers. I've also used some jump rings, earring hooks or base metal rings, depending each time on the type of jewelry I wanted to make. For painting the wood, I've mixed watercolor with a bit of gouache, to limit the transparency but keep the wood texture.

Stretch keys attached to ready made canvas

Canvas stretch keys made of balsa wood

Make your own handmade wooden jewelry with simple tools

First, make some rough sketches of your design. The possibilities are unlimited. Here are a few sketches I made for my little foxes earrings.

Make some rough sketches of your jewelry design

If you find it difficult to come up with an original idea, a good way is to start with some geometrical forms. The result can be really nice and minimal. For example, I will show you how I made this simple earrings design, step-by-step.

Handmade wooden geometrical earrings

Once you've decided the design of your earring, use the ruler and a pencil to draw the form on the wood surface.

Draw the form on the wood

Use the ruler and a cutter to start cutting the pieces. You will need many repetitions with little pressure, to cut it without breaking the wood.

Cut the wood into the desired form

Wood pieces for handmade earrings

 Use a nail file to smooth the sides and the surface.

Use a nail file to smooth the sides and the surface

With a pencil mark the point where you want to attach the earring hooks. Use a thin screwdriver to make the hole. Place the hole close to the edge to allow the jump ring to enter, but not too close to avoid breaking the wood. While making the hole avoid pressing too hard.

Mark the point where you want to attach the earring hooks

Use a thin screwdriver to make the holes

Use a thin screwdriver to make the holes

Use a thin screwdriver to make the holes

With the ruler and the cutter "draw" some geometrical forms. I've used again the nail file to make this line smoother.

Use the cutter to "draw" some geometrical forms

Mix watercolor with a bit of gouache and paint the earrings.

Mix watercolor with a bit of gouache and paint the earrings

Mix watercolor with a bit of gouache and paint the earrings

Use the round nose pliers to attach the jump rings and the earring hook.

Use the round nose pliers to attach the jump rings and the earring hook

Use the round nose pliers to attach the jump rings and the earring hook


Upcycled Treasures

Last but not least: with this project I'm participating in this week's The Makers link party. A couple of weeks ago, Alexis, one of the hosts, stopped by and commented on my flower pot project, letting me know about the link party she's hosting. I promised I would join soon and I finally decided to do so. Don't miss it!

How to make handmade earrings with wine cork and thread

Lately I've been collecting wine corks, knowing that sooner or later a new crafting idea will come on my mind. There are hundreds of projects out there using wine corks -some of them really beautiful- which I see as inspiration.Yet, I enjoy looking for new ways of doing things, putting a bit of myself into them.

Also, knowing that soon I'll want to make some gifts to a few friends, I decided to focus on jewelry making. After experimenting for a couple of days, I finally created these colorful, yet minimal earrings. I like keeping it simple and clear in most things I make. And I like sharing my how-to process, hoping that someone else might also enjoy making this handmade little project, or even develop this idea to something new!

So, if you enjoy making your own jewelry with easy-to-find, low-cost materials, this is the perfect tutorial for you.

In order to make these earrings, you will need a few wine corks, various threads of your choice, headpins, earring hooks, scissors, a cutter, a crochet hook and a sewing needle.

Using a cutter, slice the wine cork into 0,5 cm thickness slices.
Cut the pin 0,5 cm from head. Push the pin into to cork slice at the place you want it, without inserting it completely. Repeat with the rest of the pins you want to use.

Create your design with the thread by turning it around the headpins. At the end, push the pin in to secure.

You can also create your designs by using only thread. In both cases use a needle to pass ends through the cork and knot ends at the back.

You can experiment with various types of thread and different materials.

Now you can crochet the cover. This pattern is worked in the round. 
Even if you are a beginner, you'll find it really easy to make.

Start with a magic ring.

R1: 6 sc in magic ring (6)
R2: 2 sc in each st around (12)
R3: *sc in next st, 2 sc in next st, rep from * around (18)
R4: *sc in next st, 2 sc in next st, rep from * around (27)
R5: sc back loop only in each st around (27)
R6: sc in each st around (27)
R7: sc in each st around (27)

Weave in end and attach the earring hook with the tail, using a yarn needle.
R: round
sc: single crochet
st: stitch
rep: repeat

Depending on the size and the thickness of the cork slices, you may need to adjust the pattern. I've used a no.8 crochet thread. 

Split pea cream (Greek fava) stuffed mushrooms served with marinated cherry tomatoes

It's amazing how many flavors I didn't like or denied to taste as a kid and now I'm crazy about. One of those is the Greek fava, a yellow split pea cream, served typically with olive oil, chopped onion and some lemon juice on top. It's soft, delicious, healthy and simply perfect.

In this recipe I use this cream to stuff mushrooms, which I bake in the oven and serve with marinated cherry tomatoes. 

Greek fava stuffed mushrooms served with marinated cherry tomatoes

6 big white mushrooms
100 gr yellow split peas
1/4 onion
3 tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper

For the marinated tomatoes:
20-25 cherry tomatoes
3/4 onion
2 garlic cloves 
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dry basil
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
olive oil to cover the tomatoes


Wash the cherry tomatoes and cut them in the middle. Put them in a bowl and cover them with olive oil. Add the onion and the garlic chopped, the basil, the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 1 hour. 

Cherry tomatoes marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, onion, garlic and basil mixture

Put the yellow split peas into a bowl with fresh water and leave them for 1/2 hour. I normally change the water a couple of times. At the end wash the split peas once again and remove them from the water. 

Now you can start preparing the cream. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot. Saute the onion for a couple of minutes and then add the split peas, salt, pepper and enough water to cover them completely. Boil for 45 minutes in medium heat. Every now and then, add some more water if you see it's missing and remove any foam with a spoon. At the end you will get a thick cream with some visible split peas. I you prefer a thinner cream, put it in the blender. For this recipe, I prefer to leave it as it is.

Peel the mushrooms, remove their stems and keep the caps. Wash them with fresh water and dry them with a clean towel. 

Tip: You can keep the mushroom stems and use them for another dish.

Peeled mushroom caps

Salt the mushroom caps and stuff them with the split pea cream. Pour a few drops of olive oil on top. Bake them in the oven at 200°C for 25 minutes.

Mushrooms stuffed with split pea cream, before putting in the oven

Mushrooms stuffed with split pea cream, before putting in the oven

Serve with the marinated cherry tomatoes.

Greek fava stuffed mushrooms served with marinated cherry tomatoes

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
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


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!