Archive for the ‘crafts’ Category


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 .


Saving Old Work

Posted: May 27, 2016 in crafts
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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 .

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

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 .


Posted: April 28, 2012 in crafts


I live in a city and am lucky enough to have a small patch behind my building I can use to grow things .

Going Green

Posted: April 28, 2012 in crafts
Color , color , color !

Slippers I can’t Stop Making

Another pair . This one is a crochet .

Another pair . This one is a crochet .

Whenever I feel like it , I hunt for sweaters at local second – hand stores and yard sales . I like to think it is not an addiction but a drive to save very good yarns that were used to make ugly things . It helps to think that I save a lot of trash bin space these sweaters would eventually end up in .

What I make from these tired sweaters will give the yarns second or maybe even third life .

If you are interested in learning how to unravel a sweater , leave a comment , and I will publish it .ImageImageImage


Posted: April 28, 2012 in crafts

White Flowers Inside the Gates at Madrona Marsh Natural Preserve

White roses I saw next to some apartment building near the beach . Had to take a picture .


Red ,Yellow , and Blue . I think these colors go lovely together .