Monthly Archives: February 2012

Matryoshka (Russian Nesting Dolls) Card

I love the folk-art look of these Matryoshka or Russian Nesting Dolls, and I’ve been noticing them everywhere lately. I saw a cute Matryoshka card on Pinterest and decided to make my own version of this colorful, cheerful design.

In fact, this isn’t my first Matryoshka project.  A few years ago I made this little needle-felted set out of wool.

But today I want to show you this Matryoshka card set. The largest figure in this little set has a pocket inside to hold the other dolls. The three smaller figures aren’t cards but you can write a message on the back of each one before you tuck them into the pocket.

Before I show you how to make this card, here is a look at some of the many Matryoshka-themed items you can find on a quick visit to Etsy.

From a Google definition of Etsy:

Etsy is a social commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items as well as art and craft supplies.

Click on any of the headings below to go the the Etsy site for that particular item.

  1. Wristlet Kindle Cover
  2. Russian Nesting Dolls Rubber Stamp Set
  3. Matryoshka Nesting Dolls Tote Bags
  4. Russian Nesting Doll Bracelet
  5. Vintage Altered Pages/Matryoshka
  6. Little Women Mug

I’m sure you’ve seen a picture of the traditional dolls and many variations including beautifully painted, collectible dolls depicting Russian fairy tales, architecture of Russian churches,animals, holidays, political leaders and more.

These days you can find everything from Matryoshka ABBA to Matryoshka Zombies.  Matryoshka Hello Kitty, anyone?

I’m not even sure why I find them so appealing, but I do.  There is something about opening one doll and finding successively smaller ones inside that is sweet.

Though this card will take a little time to make, it is really cute, very satisfying and not hard at all.  Sometimes I really enjoy a project with pretty paper and embellishments.

I’ve also made a template for you to use that you can find here.

Matryoshka or Russian Nesting Dolls Card


Card Stock – 4 different colors plus pale pink for the faces

Patterned Paper (I used 4.5″ x 6.5″ printed card stock sets for this project that I found on sale at Joann Fabric and Craft)



Fancy Scissors (optional) I used these on one of these sets of cards and not on the other

Double-sided adhesive (My favorite is Tombo permanent)

Sticky Tape or other stronger adhesive for the interior pocket

Small Flower Punch or Flower Embellishments

Small Hole Punch (1/8″)

Glue Pen

Bone Folder

Colored Markers for facial features and hair


Print out two copies of the template (here).  Cut out each doll pattern from one template.

Use the pencil to trace the outline of each doll on a different color of card stock.

Fold the mama doll card on the dotted line.  I realized after I used the template myself that I didn’t quite get the shape matching on the two sides.  I’m sorry, but I did my best.  Go ahead and trim the card so the front and back pieces match.

Now take the second template and cut out the headscarves or babushkas, and aprons.

Cut one apron and one headscarf for each doll out of different printed paper.  If desired, use fancy wavy-edged or scalloped scissors for the edge of the apron and bottom of the scarves as you can see I used on this set.

On the first set of Matryoshka I made, I used all one color-family for each doll.  In the other, I mixed up the colors which I think I prefer.  You decide what you like (or make both!)

I made a stack of all the pieces for each doll just to keep them straight.

Cut out the pocket for the mama doll.  Please note, it goes on the inside of the card, not on the back.  I just put it on the back on the template to save space.

Take the pattern pieces that have the heads, (one for each doll) and trace over the circle , pressing firmly with your pencil (you don’t really need to cut out the face circle from the template) onto the pink card stock.  Cut out the four circles for the faces.

Using the markers, draw on hair and facial features.  I had to turn over one of the circles and make a second face because I didn’t like how the first one was looking.  The faces I drew are not very traditional – you get to decide how you want yours to look.

Now assemble the dolls.  I use Tombow adhesive and add the apron than the headscarf and finally the face.

Using stronger sticky tape or small, strong adhesive dots, adhere the pocket inside the mama Matryoshka card.

With a flower punch, small hole punch for little dots, and scissors, punch out flowers, cutting some into smaller hearts or leaves.  With a glue pen, adhere these embellishments.

If desired, cut small ties for the headscarves out of matching paper, and adhere under the chin of each doll.  On one set I used a marker to outline some of the details, in the other set I left it off.  Again – the choice is yours.

Add a greeting and your signature on the back and your little Matryoshka card family is ready to give to someone you love.  Or someone you like a lot anyway.

Спасибо. Spasiba. Thank you.


Filed under Crafts

Breakfast Frittata

I like eggs for breakfast and I choose to eat egg whites more often than whole eggs because I think they’re healthier. To make the egg whites more interesting I usually scramble them up with some vegetables and usually a little cheese.  A few weeks ago I got the idea that if I made a frittata on Sunday, it would take care of making the main part of my breakfast for the whole week!

The following recipe is very flexible.  I saute some veggies including some dark, leafy greens like arugula or chard, I beat one egg together with some egg whites, throw in a little feta cheese (loaded with flavor so I don’t need a lot), add some diced up veggie sausage patties, pour it into a baking dish and bake.

Breakfast Frittata


1 large egg

1 cup egg whites


herbs, such as basil, oregano and/or thyme

black pepper to taste  (with the feta and veggie sausages I don’t find this needs any additional salt)

nonstick spray

5 to 7 mushrooms (If you don’t like mushrooms, use some zucchini), cut in thick slices

2 or 3 green onion, cut in thin slices

1 or 2 stalks of celery (optional but good – fennel is also good), diced

2 to 3 cups chopped greens or green vegetables (I like arugula, chard, spinach, kale and even broccolini)

1/4 to 1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

2 veggie sausage patties, (I like both Morningstar Farms and Trader Joe’s brands), defrosted in microwave and diced


Turn oven on to 400 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the whole egg with the egg whites.

Add a good sprinkle of paprika  and a big pinch of dried herbs (I like thyme), and a grind or two of black pepper, and whisk together.  Set aside.

Spray a large saute pan with nonstick spray and add the sliced mushrooms and cook on medium high heat.

Once they start to brown, add in the green onions and celery if you are using it (for the frittata in the photos I was using fennel), and saute another minute or two.

Add your chopped greens to the pan and cook it enough to wilt them a bit.  Stir in the diced red pepper and cook another minute.  Remove from heat.

Stir the cooked vegetables into the beaten egg mixture.  Stir in the crumbled feta cheese and diced vegetable sausage.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.  I use an oval glass dish that is about 7.5 inches by 10.5 inches on the bottom.

Pour the egg -vegetables mixture into the baking dish.

Bake until puffy and set, about 18 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before cutting into 6 portions.

Enjoy with whole wheat toast and fresh fruit.

Heat one portion for 50 seconds in the microwave for a really fast, healthy and easy breakfast.


Filed under Cooking

Heart Strings Mobile

My friend just had surgery and I wanted to give her something nice to look at during her recovery.  I love looking at the Heart Strings I made and so decided to try making them for her as a mobile.

I found a large wooden embroidery hoop at Joann and used it as the structure to which I attached the heart strings.

I was working on it at my parents house and found the lamp shade on a floor lamp was a good base to work on.  I set the wooden hoop on top of the lamp shade and tied the strings around it letting them hang down.  Later I hung it over their dining room table.

I knotted the strings to the hoop and dabbed glue on the knots after trimming off the end of the string. More strings tied to the hoop were used to hang the mobile, pulled together into a knot at the top.  To be honest, it didn’t hang perfectly even but I was satisfied with it.

I took it to my friend and she was delighted with it.  She said it cheers her up.  Her husband hung it right in front of a mirror so she gets to see it twice. As we visited, the hearts moved in a slight breeze from her open window, twisting and fluttering.

Speedy recovery to you, Princess!

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Crafts

Art From The Heart II

Last February I wrote a post about the tradition my boyfriend and I have of crafting a special Valentine item for each other. It is our Art from the Heart and this year we did it again.  There was some talk about discontinuing the practice or taking a break but we both came up with something wonderful.

I used a heart-shaped map idea after a card I saw on Pinterest.  I found a wooden heart at Michael’s, printed out a map of the world and decoupaged the map to the heart. I crafted a small banner proclaiming “You Mean the World to Me”, added a tiny heart sticker showing where we live and it was done. One of the easier projects I’ve done, and with a high satisfaction ratio.

Rem said he likes the Heart Map because he has traveled a lot and likes geography – he called it a perfect fit!  I gave him a bracelet for Christmas that has the longitude and latitude of our home and this goes hand in hand with that idea.

Several years ago Rem found the heart-shaped container that he used in this project.  He’s not even sure where he got it.  He wanted to fill it with hearts punched out of aluminum but the thin sheets of aluminum he had in mind were no longer available at Michael’s.  He looked around and found small bags of metallic confetti in the shape of x’s and o’s or hugs and kisses.

The container, a plump, plastic heart with a red base and clear top was stuffed full of the confetti, 70 hearts that he punched out of pink paper and 14 silver hearts punched from the one remaining aluminum sheet he’d been saving.  The 14 silver hearts represent February 14th. The 70 pink ones?  He punched until he had a big pile and called it done!

Rem said he was lacking inspiration this year and decided it was time to use this cute container.  The biggest challenge was figuring out what to fill the heart with.

It reminds me of a cartoon heart when you see a character falling in love and a heart shape thumps forward out of their chest.  It is packed full of hearts, hugs and kisses and looks like a celebration waiting to happen. I love it!

These two sweet hearts, marked on the back with the year, will be installed in our little Art from the Heart galleries, the walls of our bedroom, with mine to him on his side of the bed and his to me on my side.

The heart at the beginning of the post is from the tree trunk Valentine I made for Rem last year.

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Crafts, Life

A Comfortable Valentine

Rem and I are wearing our heart-print pajama pants from Old Navy and fleece slippers from LL Bean.  We’re on the bed and we each have a laptop (one MacBook Pro and one Toshiba).

We’ve exchanged our Valentine’s – I’ll takes some pictures and put them up in the next few days.

He’s watching a video and I’m learning how to say “I love you” in 100 different languages.

It’s a very low-key and relaxed evening.

We’re going to have dessert in a little while.

I made four little Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes last night.  Rem made vanilla ice cream.   It’s really an incredible combination.  The recipe suggested freshly made whipped cream (we have that too) but the contrast of the warm chocolate and the cold ice cream was just delicious.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake for dessert was a good reason to have Ruby Red grapefruit and an egg white, mushroom and arugula scramble for breakfast.

Rwy’n dy garu. (That’s Welsh).


Filed under Life

Itty Bitty Valentine’s

Here is a really cute little Valentine that is a combination of three recent projects.  It also highlights how helpful it is to have the right tools for your job: I used my paper trimmer, two sizes of heart-shaped punches, two kinds of adhesive, and a stapler.

Start with little cards like these in Itty Bitty Cards.  I have a Fiskars paper trimmer and I use it all the time.  These little cards are 6.5 inches (score and fold at 3.25 inch mark) by 2 1/8 inches. I’ve got little envelopes that they will fit in.  Of course any I want to mail will have to go into larger envelopes.  But putting the small envelope inside a larger envelope is an option.

Cut a mat out of colored card stock to layer on the front of the card, in this case, the blue piece,  (but don’t glue it on yet).  These are 2.5 inches by 1 7/8 inches.

Add hearts punched from vintage sheet music like the ones in Heart Strings.  My large heart punch makes a heart that is about 1 5/8  inches across.  Because the paper is fragile I use a glue pen or glue stick for adhering the heart to the mat.  My go-to Tombo double-sided adhesive would just tear the sheet music.

Next comes two smaller, layered, hearts punched from pretty paper.  This smaller heart is about 1 1/8 inch across.

Glue one small heart onto the larger sheet music heart (this is where I use my Tombo adhesive).

Now score and fold the second, matching heart in half and staple it on top of the first one like on the Fluttering Hearts Valentine Cards.

Finally adhere the mat with the hearts on to the front of your little card.

Finish up with your initials or signature on the back of the card and a greeting on the inside.

I usually do these in batches so I cut a bunch of cards, then cut a bunch of the mats, then punch hearts, etc. and assemble.

The best part?  Giving the cards out.

Thank you for coming on by.


Filed under Crafts

Crayon Heart Valentines

Crayon Hearts

When I first saw fat crayon hearts on Pinterest I pinned them to my “I Love This” board.  I love heart-shaped things (if you haven’t noticed yet) and these colorful, chubby hearts got my attention. I finally got around to making them just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Some of you may have broken old  crayons but I had to stock up.  I mentioned my shopping trip to The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in this post and I picked up a whole bunch of crayons there.  I used some of the crayons in this post.

I sliced the paper wrappers and peeled them off the crayons.

Update: Most of the crayons I used were Crayola, but some were other brands.  I’ve noticed that a few of the crayon hearts have places that don’t draw as well – they seem to have less pigment. I suspect it was the other crayons and I recommend sticking with Crayola or other quality crayons.

For awhile I just reveled in this wealth of crayon color.

Then I chopped them up.  I tried breaking them into pieces.  First with my fingers than in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.  But chopping worked out better.

For my molds I used heart-shaped ice cube trays from IKEA.  I sprayed them with non-stick spray.  I’ve seen Joann, Michael’s and Target all mentioned as good places to look for heart-shaped silicone molds.  The ones I used, as I mentioned, were not made for going in the oven, but they worked out fine for me.

Set the oven at 250 degrees.  Fill the molds with the bits of crayon.  I like them sorted by color family.

Set the mold on a baking sheet – I covered it with foil to guard against melted crayon.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until fully melted.  Different colors seemed to melt at different rates.

This was from a different batch…it was almost done but needed another minute or two.

Once they’re done, let them cool completely before popping them out of the molds.  They can be done in different shapes (mini muffin tins, for example) but the hearts are so darn cute!

If you want to give them as gifts they look great in small cellophane bags, tied with a bow.

I am giving them as Valentines so I decided to stick them on paint chips as a background. I used Zots clear adhesive dots (an old package – I think the label is different now), two on the back of each crayon heart, to stick the heart to a paint chip. If your hearts have a nice, flat bottom, you can probably do it with just one.

Here is a tip if you haven’t used adhesive dots before: press the item on to the adhesive dot, then peel it off the backing.  Don’t try and peel the dot off and put it on your item. It will just get gummed up on your fingers and annoy you.

I really liked the idea of the colors in the crayon and the the color names on the paint chips.  I cut the standard paint chip strips into two-color blocks.  I also found some really wide paint chips and cut those into heart shapes.

I used Sharpies to write my greeting: “Wishing you a colorful Valentine’s Day!”  For a few of them I wrote “Valentine – You color my life!

I put the  finished Valentines  into cellophane bags.

Using more paint chips, I punched hearts for tags  and stuck the tags to the to the back of each package with Valentine stickers.

Don’t you love the color names?

I signed the back of the tags since my packaging is clear and each heart tag shows through to the front of the bag.  Choosing different colors for the Valentine and for the tag made each package more colorful.



A box left from Christmas was just the right size for holding the Valentines and I had fun decorating it with stickers.

I’ve accumulated quite a bit of heart-shaped embellishments over the years and what better time to use them?

Thanks for the stopping by.


Filed under Crafts

Calistoga Overnight

Rem and I enjoyed an overnight in Calistoga a few weeks ago.  We didn’t go for any mud baths or other spa treatments and we’re not really much into wine but it was a lovely getaway.

We started with lunch at solbar, the restaurant at Solage, an upscale resort and spa.  My friend’s son is one of the chef’s and her mention on Facebook got me interested.

It looked like a lovely place to stay – each studio comes with a pair of cruiser bikes to use while staying there.  They also welcome canine companions (for a fee, of course) and it was fun seeing a few of the dogs at the resort.

There was beautiful landscaping, fountains, sculptures, bocce courts, and a huge swimming pool.  This water feature had a mini fire pit  in the center.

But what we really came for was steak frites: Seared flatiron steak, salt and pepper fries, beurre colbert and a bibb lettuce salad.  Although they are serving brunch on Sunday at that time,  I’d called ahead and asked if we could have the steak frites and gotten the ok from the chef (THE chef, not my friend’s son).

It would have been really incredible but for one detail: the fries were not piping hot.  But the steak and sauce were amazing and the salad (not pictured) was perfect.  It was worth the drive.

We continued our day with a visit Castello di Amorosa, a 13th century, 107 room, Tuscan style Castle and Winery.  There is an entrance fee and again, we felt it was worth it.

I had read the history of the building before our visit.  The owner had a passion and spent years bringing it to fruition.  Stones were collected from ruined castles in Europe and iron workers made every hinge, nail, lamp and lock.

We didn’t take the guided tour (for another fee) so missed out on the dungeon, armory, torture chamber and other details but enjoyed plenty in the rooms we were allowed to visit, including a beautiful little chapel.

We also saw the ramparts, courtyard and Great Hall.

The wine tastings take place in the arched wine caves.  I actually tasted wine (not generally  my thing) because I figured it was the right place and right time.  I still don’t like it but we did a chocolate pairing and that made it interesting.

We met some locals as we were leaving.

It was time to check in to our B&B, the Pink Mansion.

It wasn’t a recreated 13th Century Tuscan castle but it was quite nice with lots of character.  Our bathroom had a claw footed tub and there was a hot tub outdoors that we enjoyed under the stars.

I got up early on Monday morning and had a brisk walk though downtown Calistoga, starting before the sun was up. In fact, I came across a labyrinth in a dirt lot and was walking it as the sun peeked over the hills.  Further down the road I saw an owl fly by.  It was a wonderful start to my day.

Back at the Pink Mansion we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and packed up.  We had some geocaching on our agenda. As it says on the site linked here:

Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online.

We found a cache here in front of the Calistoga Mineral Water company in the vicinity of this rusty truck sculpture.

We logged about 5 caches that day.  Another one was at the CIA.

We stopped to look at another winery as we headed homeward, not for the wine but for the building.  Opus One Winery is visible from the road and has always interested me.  Rem went in to inquire about tours and we learned the reservation only tours were $55 per person.  The wine may be fantastic (though probably wasted on my palate) but they were closed.

Goodbye to the Napa Valley for now.  We will be back before too long.

Thanks for your visit.


Filed under Life

Take What You Need

I saw a flyer like this on Jean Steel’s Facebook page, Happy People Win Jean Steel.  After doing a little search, I found another Facebook page called Take What You Need Project. I really loved the idea and decided to make a handful of flyers and post them around the campus where I work.

It’s pretty simple: Make a sign.  Put it up. Take a photo. Go back later and take more photos. Share.

I made the Take What You Need part on my computer, printed it out and then wrote the needs along the bottom with a big Sharpie. I cut the bottom into strips for easy tearing off.  Then I took a walk and posted flyers in different places.

I like how this one looks amongst the other flyers. This kiosk has layers and layers of flyers.

This one is on an indoor office window.

I put one up on an outdoor column and when I came out of the building 15 minutes later, I found someone had already taken one of the needs!

They took what they needed: Love.

It is in a high-traffic spot.  I went back later in the day and more needs had been taken.

I was delighted to find people had been taking the things they needed!

Another location was getting some attention.  Someone had taken Faith and Hope.

This morning I went back to the popular one.

Everything was taken!  I’ll put up a replacement tomorrow.

I will be looking for new places to post flyers off campus.  Maybe on a telephone pole near my apartment .  I’m also trying to decide which needs to include, so I’m switching them around a bit.

I’ve made some special additions of the flyers for Valentine’s Day with hearts on pink paper.  I’ll put a batch of those up some time next week.

All the needs are Love.  Love is all you need.

Take what you need.  Share what you have.

Update:  I saw this note on one of the flyers.  It made me smile.

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Life