How I Make Stamps 

Posted: September 20, 2016 in crafts

I have been asked to post a tutorial on how I go about making stamps and stamp prints . So here it is .

Start small if you’re just starting : simple design is easier to do , and almost any mistake will look like it was meant to be there. 

Materials and tools for cutting out stamps vary . You can cut your image on wood , rubber , and even stone . Rubber erasers are perfect for smaller stamps . 

If you’re good at drawing free hand,  use a black marker , an ink pen , or a soft pencil to draw your design directly on a surface you will cut . 

On this photo below is the design I chose from a Chinese flip book of cutouts.

 2017 will be a Year of a Rooster,  so I picked an image of a Rooster . 

I usually use transparent paper to transfer my sketches or found designs onto the rubber surface .

 I used a pen here only because I wanted the image to show better on a photo . Using a soft pencil is the best .

The image can be stamped on wood , use a thin layer of acrylic paint for that , and then colored in with color pencils or acrylic paints . It is a good idea to varnish a painting done on wood .

When stamping with acrylic paint,  the stamp should be washed after only a few image transfers and dried on a paper towel . New images will come out clean looking . 

If you would like a more detailed explanation on one of the steps , please leave your questions in a comment section.  

Happy stamping !


I will start with this : you don’t go through all the troubles that come with planning a trip to Kyrghyzstan so you can go look for a pizza or a burger shop once there . Why ? Because you want to experience something different . Having said that , I understand that sometimes it is difficult to eat and feel full from something you are not used to eating , and if you are traveling with children or a person with allergies , it might be difficult to make a decision on what to order .

To help you , here is a list of some traditional foods and dishes that are popular with locals :

1 . Round bread , my favorite of all types of bread sold in Kyrghyzstan . It is crispy when hot and gets soft when cools down . The price for one ( summer of 2016 ) is usually 20 som , depends on location . It is usually eaten with butter , jam , honey , tea , milk , soup , salad , or just about anything . People that make the dough for this type of bread follow the same recipe , so you can be sure it will taste about the same at any location .( That last photo below is from my family’s album and of my grandfather and myself . I was in my teens . My granddad just came back home with bread and my aunt took the picture . )

The bread is baked in traditional round ovens made of clay . It is a very difficult job , standing all day next to a hot oven , especially during hot summers , so the bakers here are usually men and most take pride in what they do .

I say , trying fresh baked round bread while visiting Kyrgyzstan is a must .

2 . Plov , a dish made with rice , meat , onions , carrots  and is usually fatty . If you are watching your weight , try making a healthier version of this popular in Central Asia dish yourself . It is easy to make , and you can find the recipe in one of my earlier posts titled Vegan Pilaf .

Fast , easy , healthy

3. Make your own trail mix because Kyrghyzstan is a trail mix heaven . Many vendors at open air markets offer a large variety of dry fruit , nuts , and sweets .

The white balls on a photo above are called kooroot and made from fermented cow’s milk . They are sour -salty and very dry . Kooroot can be stored without refrigeration for up to 8 years . It is a very thirst quenching snack and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes . Spherical shape is the most common one .

Nuts there are usually of a good quality and last crop only . Most nuts sold in the States will taste stale in comparison to the ones sold in Kyrghyzstan .

4. Dumplings .

trip to kyrgyzstan , 2016 676

This is another very popular dish , and because Central Asia is a melting pot of different cultures , you will see many different versions of the same dish .

The photo above was taken at a restaurant Okolitza in a village of Sosnovka , near the town where I stayed . They have both , traditional Russian and Kyrghyz dishes on a menu . The dumpling soup seen on a photo is a Russian dish . Kyrghyz ones are steamed and much larger in size . Both are usually filled with a mix of ground beef , chopped onions , salt , and pepper . Other popular fillings are : potatoes , cheese , or cherries . Yes , cherries 🙂

5 . Fresh produce is available all year around , and farmer’s markets are open every day of the week .( Safety tip : wash everything before eating because you will notice Kyrghyzstan has a lot of flies . The last thing you want is to get sick while traveling . )

Left to right : red currant , green radishes , green apples , red mulberry .

6 . What do locals drink ?

  • Tap water in Kyrghyzstan is very cold and clean and OK to drink .
  • Local breweries sell beer and kvas( a dark sweet non-alchoholic drink ) .  Free plastic containers ( usually 1 liter bottles ) with every purchase, or bring your own jug to the shop and they will fill it up .
  • Outside , during summers , you will see set up drink stands like the one on the photo below .trip to kyrgyzstan , 2016 1209Inside the green container is compote , a traditional Russian drink made by boiling dry fruit , usually apples , in a large amount of water . A little bit of sugar is added at the end of cooking . The blue container has chalap , a sour-salty fermented milk diluted with water . It tastes the same as kooroot because that is what they use to make milk go sour . The red container has maxim , another fermented drink made from ground grains , shell and all . It is also sour but has a milder flavor than chalap .The mix of the two , chalap and maxim , is called aralash . I prefer aralash , but before buying a large cup , ask for a small one first because sometimes , on extremely hot days , they make the drinks very salty to slow down the fermentation . And it’s better to buy the drink that have just been delivered , or you might find yourself a little bit drunk . Unless that’s what you wanted 🙂 Cheers !


There is a lot to see and try in Kyrghyzstan , and my next post will be about what to do once there .


Kyrghyzstan currency is called som .

When I first arrived there on June 3rd of 2016 , one US dollar was about 73 som , and by the time of my leaving the country on July 15th of 2016 , it was about 68 som .

While the  Kyrghyz government tries to devalue the US dollar , privately owned banks prefer to give loans to their customers in the US currency  . Also , when I read  ads in the local newspaper , I noticed that most ppl wanted a price for their house , apartment , land , or a car written in US dollars . Some do that because they plan to move to a different country and don’t want to deal with an exchange of a large sum of som later on . Some take a chance and wait for the value of a dollar to go up and make money by selling it later . All this keeps the value of a dollar somewhat steady and Foreign Currency Exchange businesses in business .

Speaking of foreign currency exchange , there are many banks and small businesses in Kyrghyzstan that will do it for you , but you have to know a few things about how those banks and currency exchange shops operate .

Your dollar has to meet their criteria . If your bill does not meet the criteria , a business has the right to refuse to exchange it . And I’m not talking about fake bills .

1 . Your bills can not have stamps from other banks or any handwriting on them .

2. A hundred dollar bill is preferred . A fifty dollar bill is occasionally exchanged but not readily accepted by most exchange businesses .

3 . Twenty , ten , five , and one dollar bills are not accepted . At least in those shops I went to .

4 . Older hundred dollar bills without the blue stripe may be exchanged for lesser amount of som than the newer bills .

5 . Very old hundred dollar bills are not accepted at all even if they are in a good condition . ( I will follow up with an exact date in a few weeks ) .

As you can see on the photo above , my fifty dollar bill had a handwriting on it and a bank stamp in the back . Other bills were not just not accepted . I was insulted by a bank teller just for showing the bills to her . ( LOL , followed by a sigh  ). Yes , be ready to meat rude bank tellers .

In conclusion , if you want to be ready for your vacation in Kyrghyzstan , bring only new crispy hundred dollar bills with a blue stripe .

Fortunately for travelers , most people in Kyrghyzstan are very friendly . I think it makes up for a few encounters with rude ppl .


This is an old painting of mine . I left it unfinished a long time ago because the canvas itself was old , and as I tried to press my brush onto it , it dented too much . That cracked the grout , and the background paint started to chip off . I decided not to discard the painting because I could solve this problem by making the back of the canvas more rigid. One way of doing it is glueing the fabric of the canvas onto something like a cardboard or wood . I chose a
piece of pressed cardboard , and this is how I did it .
Step 1 . I removed staples that held the canvas on its wooden frame .
Step 2 . I trimmed the edges of my painting , lay it flat on a chosen piece of cardboard, and outlined the space where it will be glued . I used a ruler for straight lines and tacky glue because I find it to be stronger than School Glue .
Step 3 . I put glue on both surfaces , the cardboard and the back of my canvas , making sure there is enough glue to make the fabric and the cardboard to adhere , but not too much , especially closer to the edges. I worked fast .
Step 4 . I made sure my painting is precisely where I want it to be . Now , I wanted to get rid of any baubles , so I very slowly rolled a kitchen rolling pin from the center out in all directions . ( Place a clean piece of paper towel , not shown , over your painting before using the rolling pin . This protected my painting. )If my painting had heavy brush strokes , I would just use my fingertips because a flat surface of a rolling pin would have not worked on a bumpy surface .
Step 5 . I left it to dry for a day or so and then put a paper mat over it just to see how it will look framed . The surface of the painting is now rigid enough for me to continue my work .

Image  —  Posted: May 27, 2016 in crafts
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I was born in a small village in Kazakstan , a country that was a part of Soviet Union at that time . The village was a quiet place mostly because it was very far away from major cities . The life was very slow  and nothing ever happened there to be worthy of any news . Partly because there weren’t many opportunities job wise and in part because of cold winters , our whole family of eight made a decision to move south .

My mom picked a town in Kyrghyzstan . It had 12 public schools , a medical college ( which she graduated a few years later ) ,  paved roads , a train station , hospitals , shops , and a huge government financed sport complex where my dad got his job as a wrestling team coach . That was a big change …

Many years forward , most of my family members still live in Kyrghyzstan , while America is my  home now . I haven’t been to Kyrghyzstan ever since I left it in 1998 . This summer , I have an opportunity to visit there . I am excited and I have my concerns as well . My main purpose will be to see my family . I also want to take notes on how things have changed since Kyrghyzstan obtained its independence .

I went online to try and fish out any useful information on traveling Kyrghyzstan . Honestly , not much info out there that one can call useful . I have read the opinions of some travelers that had unpleasant experiences with the locals and some with the authorities , which makes you think going there is a bad idea …

If you are like me and have your mind made up about visiting Kyrgyzstan in a near future , I will do my best to make this blog as informative as possible to you or anyone who’s curious about this small country .

I got my ticket trough Travelocity , and I already have my new shiny American passport . The flight is on June 1st and I can’t wait .

To be continued ….



Hand Painted Box Easy Way

Posted: March 26, 2013 in crafts

The idea for this project came from looking at Russian trinket boxes . They are really colorful and detailed . I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on a project but wanted similar results . This is what I came up with :
Step 1 . Find a plain untreated wooden box you like and paint it red . I used an acrylic spray paint . Let it dry and do a second coat . Three is even better . I did only two .
Step 2 . Find a tissue with a floral pattern you like and glue it all over the box with an all purpose school glue . Let it dry .
Step 3 . Use oils or acrylics to color the design . Let it dry . Varnish . Display and enjoy .Hand Painted Box Easy Way

This is something even a teen can make . All you need is a rice cooker and :
1. 2 cups of white rice , washed
2. 1cup of each : finely chopped onions , coarsely chopped carrots , and seedless raisins
3. 1teaspoon of each : salt , turmeric powder , crashed garlic , cumin seeds , and paprika
4. a dash of black pepper
5. 1 bay leaf
6. 2 cups of chopped green onions for garnish
7. 2 tablespoons of olive oil
8. 1-1/2 cups of rinsed canned red kidney beans or black eyed peas

Put rice in a rice cooker . Follow the manufacturer directions on how much water you have to add .
Add all ingredients on the list above , but the green onion , and give it a gentle swirl with a wooden or plastic spoon .
Set the rice cooker on quick rice and walk away .
When done , gently move the rice onto a dish , taste it , add more salt to taste if needed , add all green onion , and gently mix it in .
Taste great alone or with a side salad and flat bread .Fast , easy , healthy

1. Apples : pectin in them helps lower blood cholesterol levels and removes toxic metals , such as lead and mercury from the body .

2. Grapefruit : promotes a healthy heart and improves blood circulation .

3 . Limes : like all citrus , they help fight infections , boost immunity , help maintain mental alertness , and strengthen blood vessel walls .

4. Mangoes : good for cleansing the kidneys and blood and can improve skin texture .

5. Pineapples : eating it between meals helps prevent blood clots ; aids digestive system .

6 . Raspberries : can prevent the overgrowth of certain fungi and bacteria in the body , such as yeast Candida albicans .

7. Strawberries : keep the urinary tract and the heart healthy , good for cleansing the digestive system , have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties .

8. Cranberries : counter premature aging , prevent bacteria to adhere to  the walls of the urinary tract ; can help chesty coughs and sore throats .

9. Cherries : eating them daily can relieve headaches and reduce levels of uric acid .

10 . Dates : help maintain healthy skin ; good for anyone who has fatigue or anemia .

These are a few good properties of some of my favorite foods . The information was taken from  a book called 100 HEALTH-BOOSTING FOODS by hamlyn . I found the book at a L.A. public library . It has a lot more facts and recipes for super health . I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in eating healthy .

Free Knitting Patterns

Posted: July 12, 2012 in crafts

I found these really simple patterns for a pair of mittens , a hat , and a couple of scarfs at . They are free to download even if you do not purchase the yarns from them .

Madrona Marsh Sign Near the Gates

MADRONA MARSH is a little nature preserve in Torrance , California . Patches of wet land after a spring rain attract wildlife ( mostly birds ) . The place is well kept . You wouldn’t find any people there most of the time . I like going there a few days after it stops raining . That’s when it’s most beautiful .

Inside the Gates of Madrona Marsh

Can you believe there is a huge shopping mall right behind me just across the street ?

Yesterday , I spent at the Marsh several hours : took some pictures , set under the trees for a while , found a family of ducks , and made a watercolor sketch I want to use as a reference for an oil painting . In short , I had a great time .

Look at the pictures , and if you live near Torrance , take the time to visit this unique place . It’s free . They also have a tiny NATURE MUSEUM in the building across from the preserve .
P. S. Bring a bottle of water because nature walks can make you thirsty .