Their homes are taken, their future not!

Yes, my dear friends you guessed it right, another Erasmus+ program for me! This time I traveled to the island of Chios, Greece for a program developed by the Greek NGO ‘Horizons for Youth’.  Participating countries: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Lithuania,  Spain and Turkey.

“Their homes are taken, their futures not” was the title of the program and its subject matter was about the refugee crisis. The Greek islands in the eastern Aegean Sea are a station for refugees and migrants wanting to reach the rest of the continental Europe. Chios was a perfect place to observe and discuss the situation.

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Καλώς Ήρθατε στη Χίο! = Welcome to Chios island!

We discussed the conditions in each of our respective countries and the history of refugees in our countries. The legalities of obtaining a refugee status. How the laws restrict these people from wanting to reach one country and flee the other. The combination of the economic crisis and the refugee crisis and how that affects the local economies and tourism. The European agreements about refugees. The Christian vs Muslim issue. And so many more subjects as they arose as days went by…

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On the island we met both sites. Refugees traveling through the war zones of Syria, rough terrain, and wild seas to get to safety. Refugees or rather migrants (from Algeria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) travelling through terrible conditions and giving all their life’s savings to smugglers in order to get to Europe and to a better life. Last but not least we met the islanders, Chios’ original residents. All living together on an island filled with conflicted feelings!

Understanding, fear, resentment, empathy, anger, compassion, sympathy, bitterness, consideration, annoyance, appreciation, irritation, displeasure, relief, love and hate…

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Souda Camp: Refugees in waiting for their asylum petitions to be investigated by authorities and the Court are in a status of stasis from 1 month to 1 year… Not being allowed to work (the conditions after Greece’s economic crisis don’t support that either for residents nor refugees), they stay all day in the camp or wonder around the city streets, sitting in the parks… Some don’t like to stay idle and they volunteer for the NGOs in the camps, they go fishing, they do sports…  Life in waiting is very hard!

We had the chance to visit the refugee camp at Souda, the smallest of the two on the island and also the unaccompanied children’s house. Moreover, we talked to the residents of the camp about their journeys and hardships, about their lives then and now and their future hopes.We also had the chance to meet with the managing NGO and the vice Mayor of Chios and discuss with them. Additionally, according to the project’s activities we had to talk to locals and interview them about the situation on the island, the problems they face, their fears and hopes and also the ways they face the future.

But in these youth exchange projects we also need to get to know each other. So we organized cultural nights with food and drinks from our respective countries. We chatted with each other during lunches and coffee brakes and partied together all through the nights… And lastly we had some free time to visit the beauties of the Island of Mastiha, the incredible Chios!!

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Now, back at home my thoughts and feelings are in a chaotic status… Glad to be back with my own people, sad to have left behind all the new and wonderful friends, hopeful that the refugee crisis will resolve, sad about the condition of the human spirit…

As humans we find it difficult to accept the unknown, the strange, the different… even if we have been in the same condition in the past… even if at heart we really want to help, after some time has passed it is easy to get used to the bad things around us, adapt and start complaining! This is the human condition and it has been such since the beginning and it will continue to be exactly the same in the future. Let us just hope that the examples that confirm this condition will be more and more over time… that people who don’t look each other as colour, as religion, as place of birth, as economic status will become in time the majority…

I hope that HUMANITY will prevail the Human Condition!

Untill the next time

Be good to one another

M.

March report!

Hey dear friends!

I haven’t been posting at all lately but let me tell you I have been very busy indeed!! As I mentioned in my “about me” section I don’t love my job but it sustains my living and passions… Well this time it offered to me an experience of a lifetime!

I was presented with the opportunity to visit Brussels through an Erasmus+ program for Public Administration. It was a full two-week program with presentations from various EU organizations and European Commission DG’s. It also included the group’s visit to Luxembourg and the Court of Justice of the EU and the Court of Auditors and of course the grand visit to Strasbourg and the amazing building of the parliament!

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A blast of information, images, faces, names, places… and don’t let me forget about the lovely food and the chocolate, the waffles… and the beers, don’t forget the beers… This program gave me the opportunity to meet and network with colleagues from all over Europe and perhaps made friends for a lifetime… An overall once in a lifetime experience that the universe blessed me with!

And for my luck in weather conditions, while the program lasted we enjoyed brilliant, sunny, spring days in Brussels where in Cyprus the weather was gloomy and raining!!

I also had the chance to visit some museums and exhibitions and enjoy the local architecture and food culture!

I love multicultural groups, and cities like Brussels can offer that and more. Being in multicultural environments is what pushed me to involve myself on a volunteer base with the N.G.O. PlanBe, plan it be it and work with youth programs.  But let me tell you the Erasmus+ umbrella covers programs for all ages and purposes. As European citizens, we should all at least once involve ourselves in the process and participate. It is a unique and rewarding experience for all…

Next step Erasmus+ programs for adults…

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Until the next time… Be good to one another!

M.

#HeartArt Attack!!

Love conquers all… All you need is Love… Love is Blind… Love is unselfish… Love does not judge… Love is crazy, mad, wonderful… Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

In our case Love is creative!! Today I decided to keep up with my artist of this month, my dear Christi Friesen and I will prompt you all to visit the Christi’s Creative Neighborhood group on Facebook and febwhatshapningenjoy the most creative Heart Attack ever!! So many talented creators, artists, makers! All of this inspiration and love for polymer!

Back in The Circle (the paid membership side of the Neighborhood) the theme of February is “All You Need is Love” and so Christi decided she would announce a contest!

And the contest goes like this: Go to the Neighborhood (on FB) and post a picture of any kind of HEART ART  made by any kind of  material  and at the end of the month THREE random lucky ones will win one of Christi’s texture sheets named ‘HeartZ‘!!

So go post your own image on the page of Christi’s Creative Neighborhood group on Facebook and add the #heartArt. Using the # hashtag helps others find your work!

Here is a small sample of some of the posts and their creators!!

Firstly some of Christi’s own creations! Artful and whimsical, baroque and steampunk, romantic and stylish however you call them they are but just beautiful! I am the proud owner of two of her hearts and I adore them!!

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How about  these gorgeous heart pendants, made of  resin  by Leila Bidler? It is a series of six in rainbow colours. Don’t they look fantastic?

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Don’t tell me there is someone of you polymer clayers out there that doesn’t love the mokume gane technique!  This is Dani Rapinett of The Whimsical Bead all the way from “down under” with these loving beads in purple pink and gold!

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This colourful translucent trio is the creation of the Oklahoma based Michele Hinchey. Her favorite quote is about love of course!

“Love look not with the eyes but with the mind and therefor is winged Cupid painted blind” Shakespeare

On the other hand, Lilian George makes voodoo dolls from recycled materials called “Gnarfles” and they also inspire her line of valentine cards! Now tell me how cute are these little dudes?

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Rita Hammock calls this piece ‘Where do broken hearts go, Well they go over the rainbow’ it is worked with wool strips. She worked on this piece while working through her grief over the terrible event of ‘The Pulse’ nightclub shooting.

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Now let’s get real with the work of Amy K Hucks, literally!

She made this hand sculpted heart from pictures. It was made for a hard surgeon… of course!

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How about some wall art?

This is the work of the italian Ilenia Moreni!

With a bit of ‘love and devotion’, polymer clay, some Swellegant, linen fabric and brass chains this heart is ready!!

She is also a fellow blogger!

And here is where I am going to put an end to this post! Any more hearts and I will get a #HeartArt Attack! 🙂  Now go to Christi’s Creative Neighborhood group and get your own!

Until the next time, be good to one another!

M.

Origins

What we take with us in life are our life stories. The ones that had the biggest impact on our psyches are the ones that created our characters and gave us all the graces and complexes we carry around. What were your origins? When this bug of creation did first overcame you? Who was the instigator or the benefactor of your addiction to making? How this creative disorder did began for each and every one of us? And wouldn’t you like to know the origins’ story of one of our favorite artist, instructor and inspiration? Today I give you Christi Friesen!

Here,  the amazing Christi Friesen is sharing her story on an inspiring monologue video by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads called Behind the Clay published on Nov 2, 2015. The editor prologues the video with the following statement: “Christi Friesen is driven by an enjoyment of creativity. She considers herself lucky to make a living amusing herself and others with polymer creations. This is her, speaking about how she managed to focus her artistic excitement”.

cfaboutphotoChristi Friesen is a world known artist in mixed media. Polymer clay has given her a way of speaking her own language and creating her own magical worlds! Her work has been showcased in exhibitions and publications. She is an author on her own right too! With a fluent and humoristic way, she helps you move through the pages of her books wide-eyed. She is positive and fun and hilarious! And also remember, she adorrrrrres chocolate!

I haven’t had the chance to attend one of her workshops yet! But I have met her at the first Euro Synergy in Malta back in 2014. She gave me a one to one demo of her tools and also she walked me through the use of her product called Swellegant©. Anyone can meet her on her workshops, as she travels the world spreading her joy of life and amuses us through her work.

But you see she is not just an incredible artist and a fun, chocolate loving creature she is also a giver and sharer. She saw her own need of great tools that did not exist for all the polymer clayers that like to sculpt and she created them! She made all the effort and research and she found the right people to work with and made the tools. Her “Bestest Sculpting Tools Ever” are made of stainless steel, are hand finished and well balanced. Everything that we all needed and we all want, I assure you!

What’s more her fascination with nature, which we can see in all of her work, stirred her mind into materials like silver and iron and copper. She studied their natural properties and she imagined them combined with clay and other materials that don’t possess such properties. And that’s what Swellegant© is, a line of metal coatings, patinas and Dye Oxides(colorings) that will transform your creations into old, rusted, metal ones!

On her side you can also find an eclectic selection of products and tools, either her own brand or by other artists and affiliated companies that are not always easy to find. Also check out the “On Sale” because you can always find brilliant deals!

Last but not least I have to make a reference to the Neighborhood! Christi’s Creative Neighborhood is a place that each month all the members explore a new idea, enjoy her creative nudgings and meet another artist that collaborates with her. Also all the members benefit from special bargains on the Neighborhood shop.

For more inspiration by Christi take a stroll on her Archive Pinterest board with a selection from her body of work.

What a character she is! I promise you her videos are addictive, just because she is so funny and giving and extravagant!

So ’till the next time, be good to one another!

M.

 

Favorite Low Fat Cake Recipe

OK people, this is my first article for the year and I thought of starting it with something sweet! Something yummy that will not add to that holiday fat around our bellies…This is my favorite cake recipe, tried and tested and sooo fast!

A few years back, when I first moved into my own flat, I started searching for recipes, just so that I would be able to make something easy and fast if a friend dropped by… Yes OK I am totally Cypriot! But that is how I was raised as a child, to offer food and drinks to everyone entering your home, be welcoming to all!

And what would that be?

Well after a lot of research I decided to go with something not savory but not too sweet either… Not very fatty and something that everyone would like… and who doesn’t like a fruity cake? Especially if the fruits in question are blueberries, full of antioxidants and all those good-for-you properties? How about some added lemony tartness?

 

I found the answer I was looking for in the Low Fat Lemon Blueberry Loaf on the About.com page by Fiona Haynes. And here is the recipe for you to try yourselves! You don’t even need to use a mixer!

Low Fat Lemon Blueberry Loaf

Prep Time: 15 minutes   Cook Time: 1 hour   Yield: 1 loaf (12 slices)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 180 °C  (350 °F ).

In a small bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, eggs and milk. Place flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring until just moist. Fold in lemon zest and blueberries. Empty batter into loaf pan and bake for an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Per Slice: Calories 169, Calories from Fat 49, Total Fat 5.5g (sat 0.6g), Cholesterol 35mg, Sodium 293mg, Carbohydrate 27.1g, Fiber 0.7g, Protein 3g

Now why don’t you call a friend, make a pot of coffee or tea and enjoy this cake together?

Till the next time, be good to one another!

M.

PS: I have also tried variations by adding orange juice and zest instead of lemon juice and zest. It also works brilliantly with the Bergamot Orange!!

PS2:Plus point if you change the blueberries with mixed berries or with peaches you are in for a tasty surprise! 

PS3:Moreover if you alter sugar with some brown raw sugar you will get an added taste of caramel and a somewhat more dark-colored cake.

 

Liquid Clay – Just before the year ends…

Before this year ends I would like to bring to mind this brilliant product called Liquid Clay! It comes by all the known clay brands Sculpey, Fimo, Kato…

For starters, I personally find Fimo very sticky and rubbery like to use in jewelry. It has it’s applications in other techniques though and it is also rather clear when cured although one has to be very careful with bubbles, and to avoid them always apply in layers.

On the other hand we have Translucent Liquid Sculpey, even though I mostly use the Primo clay by Sculpey I find myself not so keen on the liquid clay of the brand. I find it a little too thick for application and it is not as clear as the others when cured. Although I really like to use the Sculpey Clay Softener and add it to my Kato Liquid Polyclay.***

And we come to my favorite one Kato Liquid Polyclay. I find Kato to be the clearest of the liquid clays, if you cure it the correct way! And what that means is NOT in your oven. To be cured in perfect lucidity and clearness Kato liquid Clay is best cured by heat gun. Or if you don’t have one and have some patience to spare, an embossing gun!

I searched the internet for a long time for some inspiration on this information that I just shared with you. And then about a year ago I saw Debbie Crothers’ work.  Debbie creates the most luscious, luxurious, looking like glass beads I have ever seen! Then I read her blog and had my mind blown by some of her suggestions on using liquid clay! It was that easy after all… So I started my own trials to achieve her results, but I don’t believe I am there just yet…

Debbie though has been very generous to share her techniques with the world and explain them step by step, and give  little tip after little clever tip! Her tutorials come in video form and she is fantastic! She has humor and is very informative and one just has to love her Aussi dialect!! She is a sweet-sweet person and she graciously agreed to let me share her links for all of you to follow and go get her tutorial. It will really change your view and “clarity” on what liquid clay can do for your work.

Here are some photos of the brilliant results you can achieve by applying this technique.

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All the photos were taken from Debbie’s website and can be found in her gallery and blog pages.

Curing Kato Liquid Clay and So Much More with Debbie Crothers really just watch this tutorial and I promise you, your view on liquid clay will change dramatically! I would really love to see your trials and any other new ideas you might have on the use of liquid clay so don’t forget to leave me your comments and links below.

As always be kind to one another

M.

 

***If you buy the big bottle of the Kato Liquid Polyclay and live in a country like Cyprus where the weather is really really hot and tend to be as forgetful as I am to leave it open then the liquid tends to get a little thicker and more difficult to apply!! I am not very technical on all this but I believe that the softener just adds some plasticizers into the liquid and helps bring it back to its previous form. Even if it is a different brand they both have a similar science behind them so I prefer to use this softener instead of baby oils, olive oils and any other of the suggestions one might find online. It is not that expensive after all and only a few drops will do the job brilliantly and their result will last for a long time.

 

 

 

Happy Holidays!