Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Crochet for Christ

Hello dear friends,
I hope you are all enjoying the first days of the Autumn.

Today I bring you a photo from our summer holidays. I only now begin processing them. I sort of kept them for until Autumn arrived. You know, something nice to look forward to. A certain distance so as to appreciate them more...

I took this photo in the chursh of St. Paraskevi, on the island of Thassos, NE Greece.

This beautiful handmade croshet is lining a basket that will be used to serve the congregation blessed bread after the end of the service, on the Saint's day, July 26th.

I feel a quiet admiration for the women and men who dedicate time from their lives in serving and taking care of our churches. The time spent, the effort, the taste of making them feel your own home.

Be blessed today and always,

love, Irene

Monday, 27 September 2010

Pumpkins galore

via Cajoline scrap
Tick-tock. We shall be having some rain tomorrow. Autumn is on its way! Let me see what I like about Autumn... Yes, I like the colours first and foremost.

Ina Garten's pumpkin cupcakes with maple frosting via House Beautiful

gorgeous pumpkin pillows with how-to at Martha Stuart

Halloween Pumpkin Stencil from The Graphics Fairy

Just so that we get into the mood...

love, Irene

When shopping on Etsy

After years of trouble-free on-line shopping, last week was a certified un-success.
It was late and I was relaxing surfing on my computer, while listening to the news from the TV.
As it were, I was surfing Etsy. I love independent crafters and retailers. I appreciate the low prices of big super market chains, but I enjoy my shopping in smaller, family owned shops, especially for groceries and accessories, the two edges of my shopping agenda, as it were, as much as I can.
I know I should have put the items I liked in my favorites and not in my shopping cart, but as it were, but i decided I didn't want to search back and forth, so I  had a cart stacked with virtual goodies ready to materialise on my doorstep, when the unimaginable happened: I hit an OK too many, and I woke up with the screen bluring with "Pay"-"Pay"-"Pay".
Now, if I were in a supermarket or a large chain, all I'd have to do would be to empty my cart then and there, or abandon it, or put everything back on the shelves, or tell the cashier, "sorry, can't afford it; would you please cancel?".
That might cost me some looks from those behind me in the line, the cashier and her supperior, but it would be OK, no one would repremand me on my decision, and I would walk away a free person.

If on the other hand I were in a small shop, the shop owner would do his best to assist me, accomodate me with a better price so as not to lose a customer, and even if I had to leave, he'd say "Ok, maybe next time". And there would be a next time, because I'd know he or she would be nice and helpful time. Because if he were to give me the looks, I wouldn't go anywhere near his establishment next time I wanted to shop such stuff.

I experienced all this and more last week. The uggly and the nice, all in one, be it unwilling, transaction.
As soon as I realised what had happened, I began to "convo" as Etsy jargon has it, all the sellers, or as many as I could in one late night sitting.
As a sales person myself, I did not want to disappoint anyone who saw their transaction appear in their real-day time, and were pleased to sell their junk-my treasures.
So I went ahead and bought these transfer patterns (Fri-Sun missing!)

and these vintage somewhat yellow-ish pillowcases.

and some more. 

 A Holly Hobby pillowcase, because I am occasionally regressing into childhood and I felt like my 8 year old came across it.

 and a blanket that has certainly seen better days, but I saved in my cart because I liked the way the seller dispayed it.

Then the responses began piling up. Some people said "OK, I'll cancel. Thanks for lookign at my stuff". And that was great, because I will certainly look at their stuff if and when I shop Etsy again. 

One person wrote to me, "OK, I'll cancel, but what about my 20 pence for re-lisitng the item?"
Another lectured me on being more careful with my transactions.
One person said, "OK, no worries-thanks for letting me know",  then went ahead and marked all 7 items I had nearly bought from her with a minus, in Etsy jargon, she gave me negative feedback.
And another person marked her feedback: refused to pay.

Now, as I said, I am a sales person. And I know all about the ups and downs, and the frustration of a sale that does not go ahead as planned. Bur spare me please the lecture, and the negativity.
All these Etsy people are trading their stuff on Etsy, not just because they are independently  minded, in some no-war-in-'nam way, but also because they can't possibly afford to go all out and open a shop selling their grandma's unfinished cross-stitch, yellow-ish pillow cases, or torn books for 20 bucks, to give you just an example. And so, they find the Etsy umbrella quite convenient, which is a great opportunity and a great accomplishement of Etsy, which accounts for its success. Same goes for mums who sell their knitting efforts which amount to scarves for your coffee mug and key fobs from fabric remnants. And that is OK, too.

But these people who want to sell, and who are supposedly refusing mass consumerism, must also learn some rules that mass market trading has embraced, and thus reached the masses.
One of them is, "customer comes first". And if you  really want to make it, you must do better than repremand a customer who happened to hit the check out button by mistake and let you know as soon as they possibly could. 
And another rule to consider: In a global trading experience as Etsy is, you must be prepared to show some understanding when shipping comes to three times the cost of the item in question, and either accomodate the buyer, if the order is large enough to cover part of the cost. Most of the time, I ship to my clients paying the expenses myself. They trust me enough to place orders over the phone, and I always include a lavender sachet or a pair of slippers to show my appreciation. Trust me on this one: Learn to trust your customers as much as you can afford. They will come back for more!

love, Irene

Friday, 24 September 2010

Cozying up with wallpaper

We have seen knit throws.
We have seen knit chair slips. 

This is knit - print wallpaper, for the ultimate in cozyness! 
Tromp-l'oeil wallpaper Tryko by Koziel, at Homology.

love, Irene

And the winner is...

"nightwalk" print by Linea Non Grata

Thank you ladies for joining my September giveaway!
Winner of the print is Stephanie of La Dolce Vita.
Congratulations, Stephanie, I am sure yo'll enjoy this print! {e-mail me with your details!}
Many thanks to artist Julia Freund for your beautiful art!!!
Stay tuned for my October giveaway, coming up soon!

love, Irene

Monday, 20 September 2010

A new week with pink elf booties

pink baby elf booties on Etsy
Saying "hello" to the new week with a pair of Elf Booties. Aren't they the cutest?
I hope you all enjoyed the weekend. We took part in the bi-annual company confrence, met with people from across the globe, tested the new products, and with God's grace we are rolling up our sleeves for a shop renovation by next Spring :-0 Very nice, pale colours and new shelves for our products. I was kind of getting tired of the bold colours myself. I was discussing with DH on the way home, that although time is quite subjective, fashions do chnge and we can tell when a car is an old model, or a colour combination is passe. Design is an expensive business, but it does add some salt and pepper to our everyday lives!
I couldn't think of life without interior design, even inside a cave, would you? 
Have a beautiful new week,

love, Irene

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Weekend thoughts

Hello dear friends,
I fell madly in love with the work of Yvette Inufio on Etsy. 
She accompanies this photo with the words:
"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
Couldn't agree more! What do you think?
Also visit Yvette's blog here.
Happy weekend,

love, Irene

Flowers in the Autumn

We are past the middle of September, and here the weather feels like summer. We had a couple of days of rain, but otherwise there is no fresh air blowing yet.
I was talking about the weather and how I look forward to the first chrysanthemums, when my son told me wisely: "Mom, this is human nature. We always want what we don't have, and when we get it we want something else. We look forward to the beaches and sand in the winter, and we look forward to fresh days when it's hot".
He is so right!
So today I post some flowers that bring an autumn feel to me, yet in a way that bridges the seasons.

photo credit: Saidos de Concha

Hollyhocks via Posy

wood and stool via decor8

From The Graphicks Fairy

The Graphics Fairy has these lovely hydrangea prints to download and print for free. I plan to have them printed professionally and frame them. They'll be a perfect fit for our kitchen! Thank you, Graphics Fairy!

Have a beautiful weekend, y'all,

love, Irene

Friday, 17 September 2010

Olde World luxury in one of my favorite parts of Athens

Some of the best memories of my life are made in the leafy suburb of Kifissia, an elegant northern suburb of Athens.

Kefalari Suites is a luxury boutique hotel in the epicenter of preppy Athenian Dolce Vita, yet discreet enough to allow for privacy and quiet luxury. The eleven suites and two superior rooms, are each decorated on a different decorative theme

A view of the hotel

The Camelot suite

The breakfast area

The Hydra suit

Deck house
Acaba suite balcony

Daphnes and Chloe suite

Botanic Gardens suite
Melody suite

A special hotel for one of the best places to be in Athens!

love, Irene

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Revamping our nest

Hello dear friends,

Can you hear the sound of the shivering leaves? I love it! We had a warm day today, but I do like the fact that we do not have to sweat on every step, and I can even throw a light scarf over my shoulders.

Autumn is a transitional period, and as with Spring, I feel the desire to look more at our home and assess what is needed to make it more welcoming for a new season with two teenagers and a little one at primary school.

This morning over coffee I was discussing with DH the need to
a) elongate the wall separating the kitchen from the entryway to make the island easier to navigate
b) move the breakfast desk towards the dining room
c) repaint the entry way that now houses DH's fish tank
d)bring in our old fridge that is quite old but also slinker and would fit better into this house.

The aim is to make the kitchen area larger and reduce the dumping ground between the kitchen and the dining room where a daybed and an armchair house everything from the kids' homework to DH's newspapers.
I would also like to bring in more light to the entryway that doesn't get any natural light,- and will get even less if we make the kitchen longer-, but we'll scrap the deep red which is striking and a lovely Farrow and Ball quality, but darkens the area. We agreed on that, but on everything else he said: Yes, why not, when you are 60 or 70. I think of something more like next month!..
Anyhow, I checked Houzz and identified the main areas where I need to focus and what I should do with them:


Slick Wood Ceiling traditional kitchen

I want to make sleepcovers for our couch and armchairs. They were meant for this summer but time slowly slipped away. If we start now, we'll have them ready for next Spring, I think, lol! The couch and armchairs are now a nice charcoal linen but our cat has been enjoying their texture a little too much. Plus, my curtains that I love and DH doesn't like that much, are in a natural linen/cotton from our shop and I believe the general feeling will be lighter if they matched.

Sitting Area contemporary

I would also like to replace our ecru curtains in our yellow den with either some ready made vintage ones with pink and red flowers on a yellow canvas, that I bought on Etsy or make a pair out of a fabric that sits in a box somewhere in my home office (see below!,,)


kitchen  kitchen

kitchen with small saarinen table asian kitchen
.Apart from the structural changes that we may or may not do, the Cath Kidston pearl-white walls with a cluster of English style blue cupboards could do with a focal point that would take the eye a bit further away. I currently have a nice embroidered voile from Gudrun Sjoden hanging on the window over the sink. But I would like a splash of colour there, possibly in the form of the bistrot-window curtains I have on the making for some time now.

Dream Pantry  kitchen

I'd also like to get rid of the clutter on the kitchen tops and cupboards by streamling storage with some clear jars. I love clear jars. They are so versatile, and I have been collecting some Bonne Maman jars and pasta sauce jars that sit in the basement waiting to be put in good use. (Also read this fun post on Mason jars in  The Pioneer Woman ).


More This eclectic home office

My home office is situated in the basement. Currently it is a storage area for my books, magazine cut outs and half-finished cross stitching and sewing projects. In the room there is
-DH's old desk,
-an old shelving unit from the shop-where I was planning to put an iron daybed
-the girl's old bookcase,
-and an extra piece of our son's closet that the IKEA person miscalculated, and was thus put up in my office.

I'd love my home office to look light, bright and well organised like this room, above. Plus my room has a door to the garden. I could thus combine my writing and planning with my gardening: Bliss.


roof top terrace modern patio

We finally got to groom our garden! Yes!
our back garden-September 2010
We were planning to put up a deck sitting area this autumn, but we had to prioritise. It will have to wait. I'd like some new pillows for the repainted chairs, and possibly add some more sitting and a permanent tent to house our varied activities. I have so long wanted a garden, it is a pity not to use it as much as I would like.


c3d design - Portfolio traditional bedroom

It alternates between the house's second dumping ground, sheltering the family's clothes, my work at home projects, a bookcase with magazines and books, and DH's portable TV ( I detest TVs in  abedroom, but I compromise so that we may have some extra time together). There is also a lovely desk and leather chair that Dh has bought for me as a birthday present some years ago, that is covered with clothes and daily parafernalia. Having in mind that this bedroom, as with the rest of the rooms are small rooms of  15 sq.meters or less, you get the picture.

I'd love some order and privacy in there, now that the kids don't need to be undressed in our room or climg in our bed at night (though I admit I am the one who is hanging on to those days), although I want the place to look warm and welcoming. I think the bookcase could go, and then we could have the daybed moving up from downstairs, dressed up in our old French bedroom curtains. Then we could have more wiggle space, I could use the desk and get the books and magazines in my refurbished home office. Isn't that nice?

I like the small chest of drawers acting as night tables, the daybed and well, perhaps not the two boxes, but a little dressed up stool that has not yet found its place in the living room.

There then. I have mapped out all the changes I want to do. Now I have to start ticking off each one, week by week. The only way to do it, really!

*Have you entered my giveaway yet? It is right here!*

I hope you all have a great week ahead. See you soon!

love, Irene

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Where Greek people eat

Some of the best Greek restaurants in Greece and abroad -part I of many :-))


Sometime ago I had posted a giveaway where I asked participants to tell me what they would like to see more of in my blog. "Restaurants" and "Hotels" were the most common answers.
I have done some posts about hotels over the years, so I thought I'd expand to the Restaurants.


Hytra is the Michelin-starred restaurant of one of the best hotels in Athens, the Astir Palace Beach Resort in Vouliagmeni, along the Athenian Riviera.

Chef Nico Karathanos and guest chefs bring a light touch to classic Greek cooking with a luxurious twist. Dishes include risotto with tzatziki, stuffed tomatoes with scampi and delicious fish dishes with a twist.

If you are not visiting Greece anytime soon, but want to have a Greek meal of great quality, visit Molyvos in New York (book in advance). The restaurant takes its name from a beautiful village on the island of Lesvos in the Aegean Sea.

They make great quality traditional Greek dishes such as octopus and stuffed cabbage leaves with great attention to ingredients and balance in taste, in a warm and wecoming atmosphere.
Bring home the delicious Greek recipes with chef Botsacos' book The New Greek Cuisine.

"The acclaimed chef from Molyvos—New York’s “very best Greek restaurant” (Esquire)—reinvents one of the world’s classic cuisines in 150 recipes that celebrate its fresh ingredients and bold flavors.

While staying true to tradition, the recipes in The New Greek Cuisine bring everything to the next level by emphasizing ingredients and presentation and intensifying flavors. Home cooks can start small by learning to make marvelous mezes, including mussels with mint or a crustless leek and cheese pie. When it’s time to move on to entrees, there are plenty of tasty and satisfying options, from braised lamb shanks with orzo to plank-grilled prawns. Inventively simple sides such as roasted “cracked” potatoes with coriander and red wine, or comforting pastitsio--a Greek macaroni and cheese--could become new family favorites. And no Greek meal would be complete without desserts like semolina cake with yogurt and spoon sweets or easy pinwheel-shaped baklava.

Based on staples such as fish, whole grains, and olive oil, Greek food is not only healthy and delicious but offers a welcome break from other overexposed Mediterranean cuisines. And this richly illustrated cookbook by one of the new Greek’s most talented practitioners is the perfect way to discover its many delights."

You may read more about Greek restaurants in NYC here.

Sardines, a great saurce of your omega3 via Greedy Diva
There is a very nice post on Greek food by an original Greek grandma on the island of Lesvos here.

Custard pie via Martha Stuart
And if you feel like bringing home some Greek delight, try this recipe from the Molyvos chef, via Martha Stuart. One of my favorite sweets, I must say!

Makes one 8-inch round pastry

* 4 cups milk
* 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
* 1 cup (2 sticks), plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* Zest from 1 lemon
* 3/4 cup fine semolina (preferably Greek)
* 3 large eggs
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
* 9 sheets phyllo
* 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar


1. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Whisk in semolina, and cook, stirring, until the mixture is thick, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in eggs, one at a time. Return saucepan to heat, and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 to 40 seconds, to cook the eggs. Remove custard from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt remaining 2 sticks butter with olive oil; use some of this mixture to brush an 8-inch round nonstick springform baking pan. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
3. Stack phyllo on a work surface, cover with parchment paper, and top with a damp kitchen towel. Working with one sheet of phyllo at a time, place one of the corners into the center of the pan and gently press the dough so that it fits tightly in the pan. Lay the corner of the second sheet of phyllo into the center of the pan, slightly overlapping the first sheet of phyllo. Press the second sheet tightly into the pan. Lay a third sheet of phyllo in the same manner, covering the remainder of the pan (one layer of dough is now completed). Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo with a generous amount of the butter mixture. Lightly sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
4. Place three more sheets of phyllo into the pan in the same manner, brushing with the butter mixture and sprinkling with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Repeat process again with the remaining 3 sheets of phyllo (you will now have completed three layers). Fill phyllo-lined pan with custard; spread evenly.
5. Working with one layer at a time, fold phyllo sheets toward the center of the pan. Brush generously with the butter mixture and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Repeat folding, buttering, and sprinkling until all layers have been folded toward the center. Do not sprinkle the top layer as the cinnamon-sugar mixture may burn and darken the pastry. Prick all over with a fork, and bake, on a Silpat-lined baking sheet, until golden brown, about 1 hour.
6. Combine remaining tablespoon of cinnamon with the confectioners' sugar, and sprinkle over the surface of the phyllo when removed from oven. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

love, Irene

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