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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Η γιαγιά μας η καλή...

έχει ραπτομηχανή.  (Our good grandmother has a sewing machine.)

There's an antique treadle sewing machine in our apartment, and our kind landlord suggested that I try it out.  It took a few trials to get the rhythm of the treadle just right, but I managed to sew a few seams in some scrap cloth.  Both kids cheered as we collectively figured it out.
 I don't know that I'll be sewing up those Burdastyle patterns on it anytime soon.  I am a little nervous about relying upon this machine for a whole garment, and I'm none too sure how it will handle curves.  I am very proud, though that the chicken in me had the courage to give it a go!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Greek Commercials

Commercials seem funnier in another language.  Here's one of my favorites.

Monday, November 28, 2011

From the Archives: June 4, 2011

This is the only picture I took of one of my favorite projects this summer.  I used some Ikea canvas fabric(outside and inside) and these two tutorials to create a pencil case for my sister-in-law's birthday present.  I wanted it to look as professional as possible, so I think that I ripped out the innards and redid them a few times.  Basically I wanted to hide all of the seams.  I took the above photo before I learned how to hide the corners inside the layers of fabric.  (You can see one peeking out of the top left corner.  Cheeky thing!)

My sister-in-law is studying French right now, so I embroidered the phrase "quelques petites choses" on the outside using some red thread.  In order to disguise the back of the embroidered section, Isnuck my hand between the inside and outside layers and sewed the invisible seam down the middle of the inside last..

When I was finished, I seriously considered keeping it for myself...Can't wait to get home and make another one!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

American Holidays: Thanksgiving

While Thanksgiving is purely a Canadian and American holiday, we managed to celebrate it in Athens with B's organization.  I was initially skeptical about how Thanksgiving-y it would feel.  We have spent Thanksgiving at my aunt's place since time immemorial.  Her meal preparations and table setting have always been very elegant: the lovely silver candlesticks, the wine list, the swiss chard and pine nut stuffing, the conversation.  I knew that Thanksgiving would be one of the hardest holidays to spend here (for me, anyway).

I needn't have been worried, although I miss my family.  The chefs where B works really outdid themselves, and prepared seven (our guess!) turkeys, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie...it was delicious.  And it really felt like a Thanksgiving meal.  The families were relegated to a large table in a separate room, which was perfect. The adults chatted--mostly related to work and living in Greece.  Z and M met new friends, and ate lots (and lots) of bread.  Walking home, the air had a crisp chill--not quite the freeze your toes off kind, but the kind that means fall.  

It was a blessed Thanksgiving.  We hope yours was, too!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...


Thanks for the Christmas pajamas and tea towel, Uncle, Aunt, and Cousins!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Big Kid Night

Every Saturday night we have a "Big Kid" night, wherein the grown-ups and the big kids in our family do something that we aren't able to do with the baby around.  Typically the kids choose to watch movies, something we try to avoid while T is awake, simply because he likes to turn the TV on and off while we're watching.

On Saturday afternoon when we were getting all of the floor rugs out of storage, B stumbled upon a very old game of Monopoly in Greek.  Not only are the rules in Greek, but the streets are all Athenian.  We got a kick out of setting it up, and then, to our surprise, the kids loved playing.  We stayed up far too late buying railroad stations and going to jail.  Our game is on hold until the next Big Kid night...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Guilty Secret

I am an impulse shopper at the periptero.  I am trying to keep it under control, and have limited my purchases to once a month.  (I am definitely a product of my parents, i.e.  controlled impulses.)

My purchase in October was of Living etc., a guilty pleasure because the magazine isn't Greek in any way.  It happened to have an entire article about knit and crochet featured in design, in addition to the article about Amy Butler's house.  How cool are those condiments?

image from Living Etc. November 2011

 I googled the artist that made these and came up with some more fabulous crocheted designs.  I wanted to post them here(with proper credit given to the artist, y'all), but the images aren't available for reposting.  You'll just have to check out Kate Jenkins here.  It's worth the side trip!

This picture definitely made me want a ceramic animal head.   You can find out more about Ruth Cross Studio here, and about the cover here.
 again, a photo from Living, etc., November 2011

(This is as close to Pinterest as I'll allow myself to get, KM.)

 My second impulse buy has been another magazine, but this time a Greek translation of a German sewing one.  What attracted me was the gray shirt and black dress below.  They appear to be complicated, and the instructions are in Greek.  I'm hoping this will inspire me to learn more Greek?  Nah....

And I was captivated by the children's winter outerwear.  Could I seriously sew my children down jackets? How cool would that be? Definitely along the lines of this...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Poor, part 7

We like books.  We have lots of books.  So many, in fact, we decided not to pack them away when we relocated.  We didn't even bring any kids' books to Athens.  We knew we would buy books in Greece.  Lots and lots of books.

My mother knows Z very, very well.  In the box of books she sent, Ahmie included one for Z about feelings to help with her homesickness.
 Z loves it, but she still misses her friends, family, and, most importantly, her toys.  Some of the scenarios were a little over Z's head, but she didn't seem to mind.  She especially loved the section that answered letters from "real" girls.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Frankenstein's Blog Post

True to the monster, this post takes all of the beautiful things happening in our life and turns them into something hideous.

1.  As I was preparing for bed last night I realized that I hadn't posted anything on my blog.  We've had a bit of a long week with children falling ill at different, but occasionally overlapping, times, so my oversight came as no shock.  My brain is a bit numb, which explains why I am posting rather than cleaning the enormous mess that three housebound children made over the past few days.

2.  Anyone who has ever conversed with me knows how easily I can be distracted.  During Z's spelling pre-test yesterday, I pulled out a ladder and fixed a leaky toilet pipe. (Here the plumbing is in the ceiling.)

3.  Along the lines of distractibility?  My latest works in progress.  While I was knitting this:

I suddenly had to have a pair of these fingerless mitts.  Using some doubled lace weight wool that I had brought from home(for just such an emergency), I made these:

I 've never been a fan of fingerless mitts before now.  In fact, I'd secretly ridicule those who wore them.  (Sorry, friends.) With the weather rapidly changing for the cooler, and our radiators only on for a brief period at night, I've changed my tune.  My hands warm and at the same time do really important things, like knit write a grocery list. (By the way, taking a picture of your own hands is much more difficult than I thought. )

4.  The lace weight alpaca for my sweater and wool for the mitts reminds of my resolution to avoid lace weight, if at all possible.  I used to sneer at bulky weight yarn.  When I first began knitting, bulky weight just looked so BIG and so ACRYLIC.  Three children and all the affiliated craziness later, big yarn has come to means more knitted love for my children in a shorter amount of time.

5.  I attempted my first American-style recipes recently.  Chocolate chip cookies were a hit.  Thanks for the recipe, Dana.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Greek Holidays: Anniversary of the Polytechnic

Today, 17 November, commemorates the deaths of 24 students who participated in protests against the military junta government which controlled Greece from 1967-1974.  I had been totally unaware of this holiday until the kids told me that they would be having an hour long presentation at school today, rather than classes.  They even learned the chant "ΨΩΜΙ, ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ, ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ!" (BREAD, EDUCATION, FREEDOM!)  M was hoping that he'd have the chance to shout it during school.

As it turns out, our big kids spent the day sick in bed.  Others spent the holiday doing this.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Greek School: Mathematics

 Thank heaven Math is a little more straightforward than language!  Most of Z's homework in Math consists of worksheets.  She has a squared notebook for class work, but she rarely uses it.  (I love it!   I bought one for myself that has smaller squares.)
Thanks again, Doc, for holding open the book!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Poor, part 6

We like books.  We have lots of books.  So many, in fact, we decided not to pack them away when we relocated.  We didn't even bring any kids' books to Athens.  We knew we would buy books in Greece.  Lots and lots of books.
Richard Scarry's Favorite Storybook Ever also comes from the box of books sent by my mother.

M loves Richard Scarry, but we'd never read most of the stories found in this book.  I really don't know how that's possible, but we'll take it.  Below is M's favorite.  He was still giggling when he told Z about it later.  Humperdink the baker has a loaf of bread that says "mamma!"  He calls the police, but...

...everyone but Lowly Worm is too scared to solve the mystery.  We won't spoil the ending for you, but just know:  it's really silly.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"...and his tall hat with all the zippers."

M learned this famous song for the Όχι Day celebration at school, and he's still singing it.  He requested to hear the YouTube video this morning, so I'll share it with you, too.

Thank you, Z for teaching M the proper lyrics (in Greek, of course).  Mussolini's hat sounds more exciting with zippers, but I think that feathers is probably more accurate.

p.s.  Z has been singing this, but doesn't even know the title of the American National Anthem.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Greek School: A Journey to the Land of Language

Z has two periods of Language Arts (γλώσσα or GLOW-sa) everyday.  Below are her book and workbook, covered in the coolest book covers, and her notebooks (τετράδια or tet-RA-dhi-a).  The notebooks are very important in school here, as we've discovered.  I really like the organization they engender, but I have no idea for what the orange and red ones are used.   

The blue notebook (in the foreground) contains sentences that Z has to copy out of her language books.  It's called αντιγραφή (an-ti-graf-EEin Greek, but I think we'd call it "copywork" in English.   The teacher requires a picture of whatever Z has written. The orange (in the middle) is for dictations, but also other things.  I don't really understand how they relate, but I am sure there's some reason behind it.  The red notebook (at the back) is the most mysterious of all.  When I ask Z how it's used, she can't explain it.  I think she writes notes from the classroom in it, but she also uses it to answer questions out of her book.

In addition to the above supplies,  Z has a tetradio for journal entries and a reading book.  Both remain at school, so I don't have a picture of them to share.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mr. Tall Teeth

I've become increasingly aware that T's moments as a toddler are fleeting.  

He loves

-wiggling his feet so that I can't put his shoes on.  It's one of his favorite games.
-his ball. 
-sitting on my shoulders and throwing his ball into the trees at the playground.
-kissing people, even strangers, good-bye.
-trying to jump.
-being read to.
-making noise.

He does not like

-when I wear rubber gloves to do the dishes.  They scare him.
-when other babies try to hug him.  
-wearing shoes and socks.
-sitting still.
-having his face and hands washed after a meal.
-being treated like a baby by his big sister and brother.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

τι είν᾽ αυτὀ;

B drew my attention to this piece of graffiti on an underpass near our house.  It's a transliteration of the phrase "High tech, low life."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What we love...: Food Edition

As far as food goes, there's not much here we don't like.  We've had several unsuccessful "experiments": food items purchased on the basis of packaging or misread label that turn out to be horrible.  But for the most part, we love all of the new flavors.  As I explained to my patient family at the beginning of our stay, "Things will taste differently here, and it's fun to try new food."  Of course it really helps that we've had plenty of delicious exposure to authentic Greek food over the years.  Here are a few of our favorites.

1.  The λαϊκή (pronounced la-ee-KEE, or lie-KEE), or farmer's market is definitely, definitely my own favorite.  There are two that we visit, and the closest is on the next street.  The majority of the fabulous, inexpensive produce is "local," and by local I mean grown in Greece.  I have my apple-man, my egg-man, and my banana-man.  (The bananas are from Ecuador.  We can't win 'em all!)

 2.  Καφέ.  Self-explanatory. I promise, it tastes different here.

3. I don't really know what these are called(the different shapes and sizes have different names), but they're basically enormous whole-grain croutons.  We drench them in olive oil and eat them in Greek salads or with soup.  Papa and Opie, if you're reading this, we think you'll both like them.

4.  Mustard in a toothpaste tube?  Yes, please.  (It's German.  I'm cheating, but I am such a sucker for packaging.)

5.  Saturday is Bakery Breakfast Day, and it's a bit of a scuffle to get a picture taken before the goodies disappear.  Clockwise from the top is a fresh doughnut, koulouri, bougatsa, and tsoureki with cherry filling.

6.  "He who hesitates is lost.  (Or she.)"  All that's left of our Sunday Night Gyro Feast is the plastic bag they came in.  I guess I'll never get a picture.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Greek School: Supplies

I love school supplies, don't you? What's more, I love seeing what kids in different countries use for school.  There's something so much cooler about the pencils and paper here that I had to take pictures!  With a big "thank you" to Doc H for helping, here's what Z uses in school.

Her Cassetina contains pencils, a sharpener, erasers and a highlighter.  We already owned the bag and highlighter, so no cool new Greek ones.  

This folder comes home everyday containing graded papers and homework to be done.  
I'm going to stock up on these before we leave.

We put all of Z's corrected papers into this folder.  We're not quite sure what to do with them once the folder's full, but we'll definitely be bringing the folder home with us!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Book Poor, part 5

We like books.  We have lots of books.  So many, in fact, we decided not to pack them away when we relocated.  We didn't even bring any kids' books to Athens.  We knew we would buy books in Greece.  Lots and lots of books.
My wonderful mother shipped us a box of books earlier this month.  Is it cheating to include them in the Book Poor posts since we didn't beggar ourselves to purchase them?

T has a new book!  It's an old favorite of ours, but we've only ever gotten it from the public library.  Thank you, Ahmie for adding it to our personal one!

The day we opened the package, T heard Dear Zoo at least twenty times.  He loves lifting the flaps; what toddler doesn't?  The story is short enough that he can sit through the entire book, which is also a plus for toddlers.  I love hearing him growl when we get to this page.   What's behind those bars?

Friday, November 4, 2011

My mom calls it "snivelling" rivalry.

Z and I finished her sweater this afternoon.  She helped me by sewing on the buttons, and then she requested a modeling session before we headed out to the playground.  She began with a couple of cheesy grins, and then, unprompted, things took a turn for the absurd.

 M, hearing the fun, wanted in.  

Ahh, siblings.

Sirdar Book 271, Design E, with heavily modified sleeves and yoke, size 26"
yarn: Cascade 220, colorway 2908 Anis

note:  I based the button band and neck edging upon one of my favorite store-bought sweaters.  Knitting it was the best part of the whole experience!  It still needs to be blocked, which is why it pulls up a bit in the middle in the top photos.