Thursday, March 13, 2014

Energetic designer makes hats, jewelry and sells supplies

Today we are featuring the Etsy store elsashats, owned and operated by Elsa Pakopoulou of Kilkis, Greece. Elsa makes headbands, crochet hats and jewelry from wood, leather and fibers. She loves color and to combine different elements together. "Because of that, I always have a big stash of buttons, lace and yarn that I want to share them with you," Elsa said.

"I started making crochet hats back in the mid-1990s while I was studying at the University of Arts in Philadelphia, PA, but I didn't create  'elsahats' until 2001, after I was laid off from my interior design job. In 2007, I opened a myspace (page) along an etsy shop and I started selling to boutiques in Greece and worldwide," she said. "At the moment, I make men's hats that I sell worldwide. I make jewelry from recycled and natural materials and tutor English as a second language to children and adults."

Here is some of her lovely work









As well as on Etsy, you can find Elsa at these links:



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Make Music with Writing Places' Journals

Have you ever taken music lessons? When I was young, thanks to my parents, I took piano lessons for years. We had an antique upright grand piano that they refurbished and I played that until I got married and moved away. At that same piano, my piano teacher wrote down my practice list on a steno pad, but I'll bet she would have loved something fun like these new notebooks at Writing Places. 


We have offered the black notebook for a few months. Now there are new colors.




These notebooks are great for any type of music lesson, not just piano. They would also make a terrific journal for any music lover in your life. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Writing Places featured by Elsa Hats

Elsa from Etsy's Elsa Hats, wrote a blog post about Writing Places.

You can view it here: WritingPlaces

Be sure to come back on Friday because I will feature Elsa's store here on Writing Places!

Monday, March 10, 2014

New scarves at Writing Places

I have added some new scarves to WritingPlaces on Etsy. These three are crocheted in lively spring colors. 



 They are similar to this black cowl, except they are crocheted in a soft acrylic. This black cowl is wool. One of my customers said this about the black cowl she ordered Beautifully crocheted in a lovely charcoal gray wool. Can wear it as a scarf under a coat, or as a cowl over a sweater. Great price, fast shipping! Thanks!


For fall, or maybe early spring, I added this purple/gray/white wool cowl that you can wear over your shoulders or dangling from your neck. It is crocheted around a matching flower. This scarf would be a great addition to your wardrobe.

This picture is a little lighter but it does show the flower. 
Hope you enjoy them! Happy Spring!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Artist turns sticks and stones into beautiful gift items

Do you remember playing with sticks and stones as a child? Did you enjoy gathering sea shells on the beach? As adults many of us still gather shells and we also find sticks and stones interesting, but Angie Bissett of Nanaimo, Canada has turned her fascination into an art form. 

Check out some of Angie's work in the Sticks and Stones Gallery, an Etsy shop that she opened in 2011. She has wonderful gift items for every occasion.

Sticks and Stones Gallery

Sticks and Stones Gallery

"Growing up on beautiful Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada, has led to a strong love of the ocean and nature," says Angie. "My family and I love to go for a walk on the beach, looking for special stones, pieces of driftwood, beach glass and shells. Spending time fly fishing from the shore in the fall has also assisted in spying natural treasures along the shore line.

"Last year my sister, who lives in the desert, got married and I wanted to bring a bit of the West Coast love to them, while also recognizing their special occasion. This first shadow box was of an oyster shell and stone bride and groom. Since then a variety of special occasions have led to peaceful scenes with stones, driftwood, shells and beach glass.

"I'm hoping that you enjoy these pieces, as each one means something special to me. We had fun looking for all the things that went into creating them."

Here are some more of her items:

Sticks and Stones Gallery

Sticks and Stones Gallery

Sticks and Stones Gallery

Sticks and Stones Gallery
Along with Etsy, you can also find Angie here:

Stop by her shop today and enjoy!

Sticks and Stones Gallery

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

10 Creative Ideas for Lent - List 1

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Millions of Christians will seek forgiveness for their sins. To signify this, they will wear a cross on their foreheads The cross symbolizes God's mercy and the sacrifice of Jesus. Typically, the cross is made up of the ash of burnt palm branches from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebration, marked upon the foreheads of seekers by a priest or pastor.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the six-week period called Lent.  

"The season is intended as a time for personal conversion leading up to Easter. The belief is that our consistent participation in these practices — like exercise we do for our physical health — is a form of purification that improves our spiritual well-being by stripping away all that is unnecessary and by becoming more mindful of our ultimate dependence on God in our lives." Busted Halo 

During the six week period, many people will give up something they enjoy, such as chocolate, or alcoholic beverages, or favorite foods, to help remind them of the suffering of Christ. Others may add more prayer to their daily office, or spend more time on more focused reading, or they may emphasize giving. 

As part of Lent this year, I thought it would be interesting to search the Internet for ideas on what to do during Lent. Here are some, along with my own. I hope to post more throughout the season.

1. Make up a prayer journal and pray for one different person a day for 40 days. You can get the list from your Facebook friends, family members, and the newspaper - whatever. Write in different colors each day, add pictures and art work. Write down any answers to prayer.

2.  Gather one bag a day of stuff you don't need from your home and donate it to a thrift store or ministry (Pinterest).

3. For exercise, park at the back of the parking lot of stores or at church and walk.  LifeTeen As you pass the cars, pray for their owners.

4. Dump change or $1 bills from your purse or wallet into a jar every day during Lent. At the end of the season give the money to someone in need, to a food bank, a ministry, your church or surprise your pastor with a financial gift.

5. Attend the Stations of the Cross somewhere — lots of parishes offer these during Lent, and often on Fridays. (Or check out Busted Halo’s® Virtual Stations of the Cross.) (Busted Halo)

6. Make a point to learn as much about a particular social issue (immigration, human trafficking, racism, AIDS victims, child poverty – the list is endless!) as possible. Give money to an organization related to your chosen issue that supports the dignity of the human person.  (
Busted Halo)

7. Create a piece of artwork, a quilt, an afghan, or something in which your talent lies, and sell it. Give the money to people in need. Or, give your creation away to someone who needs encouragement. Use the time you spend making the project in prayer for the person or organization. 

8. Try to quit complaining. Easier said than done! Drop some change into a jar every time you hear yourself start to complain. Give the money away at the end of Lent.

9. Create your own cards and give them to people who may need encouragement or to those whom you have not contacted in a while. You do not have to buy expensive materials; just use things around your house to make a collage. Tape a picture to the front or draw something, if you are so inclined. The point is to connect with people and let them know you and God care.

10. Keep an art journal close during your devotional time. Draw something or write in different colors in response to a verse that catches your attention. 

Some of these may not seem a big deal, or much of a sacrifice. In the overall scheme of things, and especially when contrasted against Christ's sacrifice, they are not.  But the point is to use these things to help keep your awareness levels up, so that "... consistent participation in these practices — like exercise we do for our physical health — is a form of purification that improves our spiritual well-being by stripping away all that is unnecessary and by becoming more mindful of our ultimate dependence on God in our lives."

What are you going to do during Lent? 

Monday, March 3, 2014

A delicious soda bread for St. Patrick's Day

Since Saint Patrick's Day is on the 17th of this month, you may enjoy making this delicious Irish Soda Bread that my husband makes for us from time to time. 

Like us, you may be surprised to learn that soda bread did not originate with the Irish. According to the Association of the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, soda bread is linked back to the Native Americans who used soda ash to leaven their bread. Soda Bread became popular among the poor in Ireland because it was easy to put on the table and used soft wheat flour. Soft wheat flour does not use yeast, which was not always easy to obtain, so what you have is a very satisfying quick bread. 

The original bread did not contain raisins (we were wondering about that) so our recipe was dressed up. Here is an original recipe from Ireland. The association mentioned earlier said that these measurements are American. They also suggest using cake flour or pastry flour because it is a soft wheat flour. They also suggest Odlums, an Irish flour that you can find online.

Brown Bread

  • 3 cups (12 oz) of wheat flour
  • 1 cup (4 oz) of white flour (do not use self-rising as it already contains baking powder and salt)
  • 14 ounces of buttermilk (pour in a bit at a time until the dough is moist)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (Good ol' baking soda)
  • 2 ounces of butter if you want to deviate a bit.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees.  Lightly grease and flour a cake pan.  In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients. Rub in the butter until the flour is crumbly.

Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough.  Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)

Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.
Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible pot).  Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped to show it is done.
Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.
Let cool and you are ready to have a buttered slice with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Here is the recipe my husband used from In Mike's version, he substituted brown sugar for the white sugar.

Irish Soda Bread
recipe image
Submitted By: Penguin Lady
Photo By: heathermmm
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 25 Minutes
Servings: 8
"A delicious and easy recipe."
1/2 cup white sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups raisins
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch round cast iron skillet or a 9 inch round baking or cake pan.
2.In a mixing bowl, combine flour (reserving 1 tablespoon), sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, raisins and caraway seeds. In a small bowl, blend eggs, buttermilk and sour cream. Stir the liquid mixture into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Knead dough in bowl about 10 to 12 strokes. Dough will be sticky. Place the dough in the prepared skillet or pan and pat down. Cut a 4x3/4 inch deep slit in the top of the bread. Dust with reserved flour
3.Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for 65 to 75 minutes. Let cool and turn bread onto a wire rack.

Let me know in the comments if you try it. We thought it was delicious.