Sunday, December 27, 2009

What is a Survachka and how to make one in the US?

Maybe a month ago I was trying to come up with ideas on how to present Bulgaria for the Cultural days in my little guy's school.

One thing I was sure nobody would have heard of is the so called Survachka. So I started googling what I can find as pictures etc to show the kids what I am talking about and I stumbled upon a website ( a Bulgarian one) that was covering the news of a Survachka competition in some Bulgarian city. Imagine my surprise, when I read the part explaining what exactly is Survachka.
I was laughing so hard, I couldn't stop!
I tried to find the same article to show you, but I couldn't so I am going to quote as best as I can.
" Survachka is a wooden stick that the Bulgarian children beat slightly on the back their relatives with, in exchange they get sweets and money".

Seriously...beating slightly on the back....this is hilarious!!! :-)
This happens when you use Google translate. LoL. What the author meant was that the children get a cornel-tree branch, decorate it with dried fruit, wool, popcorn, money and other stuff and children go around to visit neighbors and relatives. Then they pat them lightly on the back with the branch while singing ( or reciting ) a verse wishing them better year. In exchange the people they visit give them money and sweets.
This is something like the Christmas carolers here, but it is done on 1st of January.
So, it was a challenge to figure out what am I going to use for the branch, because I couldn't find cornel tree anywhere, so I just cut a regular branch from our back yard and decided to decorate it. This is how I came up with the idea to post how I made the Survachka and explain in detail what you need if you are abroad, because here it was difficult to find some of the things I needed.
So, the first thing you would need is a branch. It would be best if you can find a cornel tree, but if you can't a bush branch would be better, because they are more thing and pliable in general. I recommend that you soak the branch for 24 hours before starting to decorate it, this would make the branch more pliable too.
Unfortunately i didn't have 24 hours to soak, but I would definitely do it next time.
In addition to the branch, here are the materials you will need:
- colorful yarn ( preferable earth colors- green, red, orange, yellow, brown)
- pom-poms ( fuzz balls) in different colors
- pipe cleaners ( fuzzy sticks)
- dry fruit ( all kinds that you can find)
- popcorn ( it is best to original, not butter)
- thread ( it's better to use darker color)
- a small bagel ( you can make one, I'll explain how)
- you can use ribbons if you like too
Here are the instruments you will need:
- a pair of scissors
- a large needle ( the largest you can find)
* Note that on some places you can use glue gun if you don't like sewing.

1. Find a spot where you can put the Survachka in upright position so both your hands can be free to work on it. This can be a vase, or a jar, or someone can hold it for you.

2. I used multicolor yarn and I think this would work best, because you won't need to cut and tie different colors of yarn multiple times. Tie together the small branches that are growing from the bigger "base" branch. You have to form either a round shape or a heart shape. Mine were very thin and short, so I had to make round shape ( and as you can see this didn't work with all of the small branches).
3. Starting from the top, wind the multicolor yarn around the "base branch". This takes some time. If you want you can glue the end of the yarn with the glue gun so it wouldn't come off the base of the branch.
Survachka0012 Survachka0013

4. After you finish with the "base" branch, start winding the side branches that you tied in a round shape. If you don't have enough to form nice shapes, you can use pipe cleaners to add more distinction to your branch.
5. Thinking about it, 3 and 4 take the most time. Everything else you would do in a couple of minutes. Take couple of pompoms and either glue them together or thread them with the thread, then tie them to the branch. Use your imagination and especially ask the kids to help! You can wrap up some cut yarn and use it instead of ribbons.

6. The best part is when you make the popcorn decoration! Make a big bowl of popcorn and start to thread the popcorn on a piece of thread. You can place as many strings as you want on the Survachka! It's up to you!

7. Get the dry fruit ( it has to be absolutely dry! You are not going to eat it, so don't wash it!) and thread it with the needle as you did with he popcorn. Tie it to the survachka.
8. The little bagel you can either buy ( it has to be very very mini version of a bagel, but again, this depends on the size of you branch) or make. It is very easy to make- 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, 1 tbsp salt. Mix this together to a dough ( You can add more flour or water if needed) and then shape small bagels and bake them. They wouldn't be suitable for eating, but would hold their shape until the next year! :-)

You can add more pom-poms, you can even add coins if you have, red thread for luck, dry depends on your imagination and the time you have to spend doing the project.

Before I forget, here is the most popular verse that you can sing while patting with the branch:
Surva, surva godina,
vesela godina!
zlaten klas na niva,
golyam grozd na loze,
jqlt mamul na lesa,
chervena yabqlka v gradina,
pqlna kqshta s koprina,
jivo-zdravo dogodina,
dogodina, do amina!

It translates roughly something like :
"Pat, pat on the back for a happy year,
golden wheat in the field,
large grapes on the vine,
yellow corn on the corn stalks,
red apple in the orchard,
wealthy home full of silk,
happy and healthy in the next year,
in the next year and the years after!"

More pictures of the Survachka I made, here.
I would love it if you post pictures of the Survachka you make!

Happy new year everyone!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rudolf, the red nose ....woolly bear caterpillar!

When we moved to NY state one of these guys was waiting on the steps of our house:

They are called Woolly Bears and are the cutest caterpillars you ever saw! I mean usually I am very " insects=ugh-yuck" person, but even I had to admit that my kids are right and this is indeed very cute. Well, it doesn't become some beautiful butterfly, but it's really sweet as a caterpillar. When they are scared they curl in a ball...( queue for " Aaaaaaauuuuhhhhh...." ) :-). Anyway, my friend's kids are also mad about them and both mine and her kids are taking at least one as a pet every Fall season. You know that I recently wrote about my health problems, unfortunately very huge problem is my vision right now. I cannot see detail, which bugs me( sorry caterpillars) immensely!!! I have so many ideas that I cannot work on and this is very frustrating for a creative person like me. One night I decided to try to knit. Now is the time to mention that I always hated ( not just disliked!) knitting. It was the most frustrating, time consuming and unrewarding task I ever saw and I didn't want to even try it. I started knitting and since I can feel the little loops with my fingertips I didn't need to "see" the details. Now I find it rather calming, at least it contains the creativity urge in me :-) The yarn that I had looked like Woolly bear according to my daughter, so that's how the idea came to life!I decided to knit Woolly bears!
And Snowball ( that's how my son calls him) came to life

Woolly Bear Caterpillar2

Woolly Bear Caterpillar2

and then Woolly ( that's how my daughter calls her) was born
Woolly Bear Caterpillar3

Woolly Bear Caterpillar3

and finally Rudolf, the red nose Woolly bear caterpillar, my personal favorite
Woolly Bear Caterpillar1

Woolly Bear Caterpillar1
I decided to knit such caterpillars for my friend's kids too, so wait for more members of the Woolly Bear family to come soon! I never made a toy before but it is so rewarding! And the kids became very attached to them! They feel them very special and they even put on a show for us with them. It was hilarious! :-)Next time I might even tape it! :-) Have you ever made a toy for your kids? What was it? How did they react? Tell me about it! I have a virtual friend who makes unbelievable toys, her name is Maria if you want you can check out her website by clicking here. **************************************************************************For my Bulgarian readers/ На Български език Един от първите ми спомени като се преместихме в щата Ню Йорк е как на стълбите на къщата ни имаше една от тези малки гадинки: Аз по принцип се ужасявам от всякакви насекоми, но тази гъсеница спечели сърцата на цялото ни семейство. Казва се Уули Беар ( наистина така и е името) и макар да не се превръща в красива пеперуда, а в обикновен молец е една от най-сладурските гъсеници, които съм виждала! Моите деца и децата на приятелката ми всяка есен си вземат по едно за домашен любимец и си го гледат докато не стане време да стане на молец, тогава го пускат. Тъй като заради проблемите със зрението сега не мога да виждам детайли се чудех къде да култивирам цялата тази креативна енергия. Много е изнервящо да не можеш да работиш, а да имаш толкоа много идеи! Тогава ми хрумна да се опитам да изплета на децата такива гъсенички, понеже имах и подходяща прежда ( поне дъщеричката ми каза, че и прилича на гъсеничките). Оказа се, че мога да плета без да гледам в бримките, а само да ги опипвам с върха на пръстите си, което беше много подходящо предвид, че не виждам детайли в момента. Така се родиха гъсеничките Сноубол ( синята на райета, No.1), Уули (розовата No.2) и Рудолф, червеноносата гъсеница ( No.3). Тъй като искам да изплета още такива гъсенички за децата на приятелката ми ще пусна снимки и на останалите членове на семейство Уули Беър. :-) Досега никога не бях правила играчка, но се оказа толкова чудесно изживяване, че нямам търпение да направя още! Децата много се привързаха към тях и дори ни направиха шоу с гъсеничките! А вие правили ли сте някога играчки за децата си? Каква ако не е тайна? Как реагираха децата ви? Споделете, ще ми е интересно да разбера! Имам виртуална приятелка, Мария, която прави невероятни играчки ръчна изработка, ако искате вижте нейния уебсайт, кликнете тук.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas ornaments galore!

Hi all, more than a week ago I made couple of ornaments that I didn't manage to post earlier, so here they are. These two are very similar.


I had a great idea for couple of ball ornaments but unfortunately I can't work on it right now, so it will have to wait. This one I call Haley's Comet :-)

This one reminds me of an ice cream cone, I don't know why. I apologize for the picture's quality but when they were taken I couldn't see very well.

Here is one animal print.

This is the first time I am making one of this kind with the whole surface covered, I'll just say that the picture doesn't do it justice.


This one looks like a Faberge egg, don't you think?

And a floral one too.

Thanks for stopping buy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My very own stamp collection and a contest to the side!

Well, I am reminiscing on the idea how many things I could have done with all this free time after I had to drop everything due to health issues, but it's not over until it's over you know. :-) You know how sometimes when you do a card and you wish you had just the right stamp for it, but you don't? Well, it happened to me too! So, lo and behold, I decided to do something I think I should have done a long time ago - work on my on stamp collection! While I can't work very much on anything else, I can finally find the time to organize the ideas I had in mind before, and whenever I feel a little bit better, I can work on them. As you probably can imagine, doing this would take a lot of time and effort so I don't think I'll just show up one day with 20 different stamps :-) But, I'll keep you posted on the progress! So, here is the deal, I am going to give one of you the amazing opportunity to win my very first stamp ever! If you want to participate, you have to do 2 things: - Write a comment on this post describing what kind of stamp you would like to have if you could do your own. - Link to my post on your own blog and post the link back here of course. The idea I like the most I'll make as a stamp and I'll name it after the person who thought of it! You have until Jan 1st to write your idea, and on Jan 15 I'll post the winner and the winning design! Good luck to all of you! ************************************************************************************ This is similar post to the one above in Bulgarian. I decided to write similar content and not simply translate the post above, because I think my Bulgarian readers deserve to have their own version, not just a simple translation, the idea of both postings is the same. Това е постингът на български с подобно съдъжание на този по-горе. Българската ми аудитория заслужава отделен постинг, не просто превод на английския, затова и така го направих. Смисълът е един и същ и на двата постинга! Разполагайки с толкова много свободно време е трудно човек да не помечтае за това какво би могъл да направи с него, особено човек като мен, който обича да е зает с най-различни проекти. Затова и фактът, че състоянието ми доста ме ограничава в момента е натоварващ, но се опитвам да направя от лимоните лимонада. :-) От доста време се замислям за собствена колекция от печати и мисля, че сега мога да отделя достатъчно време над идеите за нея. Дори това, че не мога да работя в момента няма да е чак толкова голям проблем, защото реално ще дооформям идеите, които вече съм събрала и ще доизмислям нови. А и все пак нека се надяваме, че скоро ще се почувствам много по-добре и ще мога да се хвърля с пълна сила в този си проект. На вас случвало ли ви се е да правите картичка понякога или скрапбук и да установите, че бихте искали да имате някакъв печат, но не разполагате с него? На мен непрекъснато ми се случва! Понякога е лесно да нарисуваш нещо на ръка, но е далеч по-удобно за основни изображения да се ползва печат. Затова и реших да обявя, че възнамерявам да направя собствена колекция от печати и бих искала да дам възможността на един/а от вас да спечели първия печат, който ще направя. Ако искате да участвате трябва да направите 2 неща: - Напишете коментар към този постинг описвайки какъв печат бихте искали да имате, ако можехте да си направите. - Пуснете линк на вашия блог към моя постинг, като след това прикрепите линк към вашия постинг към своя коментар, който ще оставите тук, за да мога да знам аз колко човека реално участват. Идеята, която ми хареса най-много и реша да използвам ще направя на печат, като победителя ще получи първият печат, както печата ще бъде наречен на човека, който го е измислил. Имате до 1-ви Януари да измислите идея и да я пуснете тук, на 15 януари аз ще избера победителя и ще пусна картинка на дизайна, който съм избрала. Късмет на всички с участието!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cards with inspiration

I have no idea what is with the number 13 but it seams that I have inspiration for only 13 cards a day. If I make more than that...I'm pushing it, if I make less...well, it's not enough. :-) So, here are the 13 cards I made this Sunday. :-)

1. I enjoyed making these cards so much! It's not like I had to rush as ever or making them, so I really, really love the results.

2. Very nice color this one, I love the orange and bluish-green combination.

3. Orange and white! Remember my cake with these colors? :-)

4. Fall leaves

5. Flowers and birds

6. A pink and green card with vellum pocket full of miniature flowers.

7. Fall leaves again, different version. :-)

8. Some quilling work, butterflies and "Indian" blue. I have no idea why, but this kind of pattern reminds me of India.

9. Roses in green

10. I am paying more attention to the flowers recently. I have never been a "flower" person, but I seem to enjoy making them. :-)

11.One of my personal favorites, a true sense and sensibility card, don't you think?

12. I call this card" Carmen", very passionate, fiery one.

13. And the last one ( as a matter of fact that was the first one I made that day!) is this one, very sensual, serene...I love it!

I enjoy making this kind of cards...I love Christmas, but my Christmas cards were not "born" like these, they were "made", and you can probably see the difference. I just realized I didn't take pictures of the Christmas ornaments I woodburned last Saturday! OMG, I'll do that right away and try to post tomorrow!

Monday, November 23, 2009

10 Watercolor pieces

I recently discovered that I enjoy very much making watercolor paintings. I have always been intimidated( or even scared) of watercolor because I always thought that it is very difficult to handle and you can't allow yourself room to fix something if you make a mistake. Although I have worked with watercolor previously I never enjoyed it and that pretty much suffocated the creative side of me while handling the paint. All in all, it was experience that I meticulously tried to avoid whenever possible. I never took pleasure in it and there were 2 reasons for that- first, because I thought myself not gifted enough and second, because I lacked the knowledge and experience. Now, for the gifted side of the problem I couldn't do much, but I decided to work on the second part concerning knowledge and experience. I signed up for a simple watercolor class, where I would learn the basics of working with this media. I found it quite a pleasurable experience, our teacher was great and I think now that I have better understanding of the way you work with this kind of material, things come more naturally and I no longer feel the discomfort of working with it. As a matter of fact it produces quite the opposite feelings- I enjoy it very much indeed! So I wanted to share with you the 10 watercolor paintings I made recently and I would be very pleased if you share your opinion on the subject and let me know which ones you enjoy the most.

1. A simple Bird of Paradise flower arrangement- now is the time to mention that one of the things I disliked in painting with watercolor was painting flowers! I challenged myself in making couple of flower paintings and to be honest I exceeded my expectations.



3. One of the most difficult things I ever experiences was painting snow. Painting this winter forest was very tricky.


4. The second flower arrangement I made.

5. Fall landscape, one of my first watercolors.

6. This one I made while looking at a picture our teacher brought to class.

7. One of the landscapes I painted.

8. Second landscape.

9. Landscape with birds.

10. And last landscape.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Festive packaging

I promised I'll post the paper boxes, that I decorated and here they are! I am sorry my recent posts have been so short, but I am in the middle of creating so many things, I can barely keep up posting everything! I think I need somebody to help me out with this, because too much stuff is waiting to be published and there is simply not enough time in the 24 hours I have to do everything I want. I am seriously thinking what can I do about it, I know that some bloggers hire other people to write instead of them, but unfortunately I don't earn any money from mine to be able to afford the extra help. I'll have to look into some options I think.

1. Papier mache large box with decoration that I used for the large candle holders
Christmas Cards3batch26

Christmas Cards3batch27

2. Medium size box for the smaller candle holders


3. Small size box with decoration Christmas2009Prep11

4. The smallest of the 4 boxes, with decoration.

5. Medium size box with Christmas decoration- ribbon and bells.


6. Gift card box with decoration in earth colors.

7. Gift card box with decoration in silver.

8. Gift card box with decoration in green and gold

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