Select Page

Flavours of Christmas: Melomakarona


Good afternoon dear friends!

I apologize for my silence over the past few weeks. I had originally intended to write a few posts before but, as it turns out, coming back home after a 7 week trip with twin toddlers required to readjust them to the old routine, to Nicosia’s  weather and time zone (there is a 5 hours difference between Argentina and Cyprus)  and to our normal life, in general.  So these days we have been juggling regular work and study schedules with middle-of-the-night wake-up episodes, piles and piles of clothes for washing, folding, ironing and putting away, and  a sort of  “pre-spring”clean (always due after such long trips).

In spite of all these adjustments, it is wonderful to be back home, and coming back in the middle of the Holiday Season makes it extra special. We arrived to a beautifully-decorated Nicosia, with the streets full of lights and Christmas markets, and people singing carols in the streets of downtown. And this, for a Christmas Elf such as myself, is enough reason to be happy.


On Christmas’ eve it will actually be 4 years since I arrived to Cyprus (my husband had been here for 6 months already), so this time of the year is always one of memories of years past, a time to reflect on how much our life has changed since that day.  Back in 2007 there was just the two of us, and an almost-empty apartment with a bed, a sofa, an outdoor table with 4 chairs for the balcony, and a Christmas Tree that my husband had arranged for me, to make me feel at home. In the year that followed we furnished our house, we had twins, we  met new people, we adapted, and Cyprus started becoming our home.


Making a place one’s home involves incorporating new habits and letting go of some others. We change, sometimes imperceptibly, with every new country we live in and those mutations are only perceived when contrasted with people and places that we have met before. As Nelson Mandela said in “A long walk to Freedom”: There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered”.

One of the ways in which we have changed is in the food we eat, particularly during holidays and other celebrations. We approach new places also through their food and, in the process of adapting, we incorporate new flavours, we make them our own, and they travel with us wherever we go. This is the case with the cookies I will share with you today, which have come to  mean Christmas to me, as much as  Panettone or Turrones (which are some of Argentina’s traditional holiday sweets ).

Melomakarona are, in fact, the cookies of advent. Greek Cypriots fast during this period (they adopt a vegan diet, eliminating all animal products) and, during that fast, they snack on these cookies, which are highly caloric. Everything in their flavour speaks of this season:  they take cinnamon, clove, orange,  honey and walnuts, and they are dipped in syrup for extra sweetness. If you are looking for a different cookie to bake these days, I highly recommend these ones. They will fill your home with true holiday cheer!

Here is the recipe I use, as was given to me by my neighbour (and adapted by her  from the book “Cyprus cooking for friends“, by Sandra Lysandrou)


1 cup sugar

1 cup orange juice

3 cups vegetable oil (canola)

1/2 cup brandy

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

8 1/2 cups self raising flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

{For the syrup}

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup honey

1 1/2 cup water

{For topping}

1 cup finely ground walnuts mixed with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (I like to mix walnuts and almonds)


a-Preheat the oven at 140 C/ 284F

b- In a large bowl, mix sugar, oil, juice, brandy, spices, 7 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. Work the dough, adding the extra flour as needed, until it becomes fluffy. The dough must be oily, not dry, so stop adding flour when it becomes just workable.

b- Form the melomakaronas by taking small pieces of dough and shaping them into ovals with your hands.  Note that this is a dough made with self-raising flour and a fair amount of baking powder as well, so the cookies will expand in the oven. It is consequently better to make them rather small, and to place them in an ungreased baking tray  separated from each other, to give them place for growth. Bake them until  the bottom is golden brown (approximately 30 minutes).

c- Allow the cookies to cool down completely and prepare the syrup by mixing sugar, water and honey and bringing them to the boil. Once the syrup boils, remove it from the heat and dip the cookies in it, soaking them for a few seconds.  Note that it is very important that the cookies are completely cool when you do this, otherwise they will not absorb the syrup! For the same reason, you will need to reheat the syrup if it cools down before you are finished dipping the cookies.

d- Place the cookies on a wire rack to drain the excess syrup and sprinkle the crushed nuts mixture over them.

I hope you will like them !


Luka and Zoe’s Art Party- Part III: the activities

Good morning dear friends! I hope you had a lovely weekend and that this week started in the best possible way. We are still in Córdoba, Argentina, having a great time. It really is wonderful to meet with friends and family and feel that time has passed by and, at the same time, it has not, to know that we have so much to tell each other but that, when we get together, it feels that we are actually picking up a conversation that we left unfinished only the day before. I suppose true love, true friendship is what makes this miracle possible. This was the spirit of Luka and Zoe’s birthday party, what made it a most happy, most memorable occasion.

As I mentioned before, I had planned this birthday celebration as an art party, not only because my children love doing art, but also because I thought it could integrate kids of different ages. Finding activities that could suit children from 18 months to 7 years old was, however, challenging. I didn’t want younger kids to get frustrated, nor older ones to get bored. I wanted an art area where children of all ages would be safe and which they could reach without the assistance of an adult, so we set a piece of wood as a low table (it was held by a bucket of 20 litres of paint and a window frame). I also wanted children to feel relaxed, not rushed, and to take as much time as they wanted with each activity, so I only planned three tasks for a 3 hour period.

The first activity was the painting of small cotton souvenir bags, which we placed in the art table at the beginning of the party. We had already warned parents that children had to come “dressed to get messy”, but I wanted to minimize damage nonetheless, so ,instead of  fabric paint, we gave children an assortment of fabric markers in different colors. To our delight, they all loved the activity and were really happy to know they would be able to take the bags home…and that they could be used to fill  with candy from the piñata at the end of the party!

We also provided them with cardboard paper  and lots of art supplies, such as stamps with different shapes and ink colors, colored pencils…

…different types of chalks…

 …crayons in diverse colors and sizes, markers….

 and even an assortment of gibré glitter.

After painting their bags, children started experiencing with the different art supplies, mixing them in their art work, completely focused and immersed in the activities. They would come and go from the dessert table to the art station, grabbing a bite while working on their creations, and then rush to their parents to show them what they had done. It was a real pleasure to see them all mingle and laugh, and enjoy their time together, despite having met at the party for the first time.

The third artisctic activity involved food and was shown in this previous post: children were able to decorate their own cupcakes with sprinkles in different shapes and colors (moons and stars, bears, dolphins and dogs, non-pareils and little hearts).

And, finally, the piñata, which was not an activity in itself, but it was definitely a highly awaited moment!

It was funny that, after decorating their treat bags and discussing for hours how much candy they were going to put in them, when piñata time finally arrived all children forgot about them and just gathered candy in their laps, until someone reminded them about their bags.

So that was it: three simple art activities and a piñata, a few home-made sweets and tons of love. The best of it all is that time flew and children left happy with their bags, their art-work and their souvenir-cookies. Whatever had gone wrong before, didn’t matter because we were left full of happy memories!

Have a great week!

Luka and Zoe’s Art Party -Part II: The decorations

Good morning dear friends! I hope you are having a wonderful day!

In this post, I will show you in greater detail the decorations we made for Luka and Zoe’s party. The mood for the whole party was set by the beautiful printables designed by my dear friend Laura, from Delicious Tea. I talked to you about her in this previous post and I shared with you some free printables designed by her in this other post, but there really are no words to describe her incredible talent. If you don’t know her work yet, and you enjoy all things pretty, go take a look at her website and her facebook page. Go now, I’ll wait here!

Back in February, we started discussing the concept and colors for the party, and Laura came up with those cute little pencils that appear in all the party printables. She designed the invitation, a beautiful “happy birthday” banner, 5 different cupcake toppers (shown above), circles to add to the popcorn cones…

 …fancy food labels, which were left blank because I wanted some room for changing my mind regarding what I was going to serve…

 …beautiful paper glasses, to which I added yellow and white stripped paper straws…

 …jar labels, which I added to the candy jars ( which were in fact not candy jars at all, but flower vases)…

…a welcome sign, which we framed and placed on one of the tables…

…drink labels (for lemonade, water, and orange juice), which I attached with twine (in Lemondrop by the Twinery)…

…And 3 different souvenir tags, to close the clear bags where I placed a sugar cookie decorated with royal icing in the colors of the party. The souvenir cookie is shaped as a splash of paint, and came in two sizes with an Ikea cookie cutter set!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the souvenirs were placed on three styrofoam boards, which were covered in papers in orange, yellow and green, and which were  used as a backdrop for the main dessert table.

Laura, who is from Buenos Aires,  sent all printables to Cyprus back in April, and those printables came back to Argentina with me when the plans for the party changed.

Once in Cordoba, I crafted with my family the rest of the decorations: a piñata, and paper streamers. We hanged three lines of fishing thread over the backyard and we hanged the piñata and streamers from them, so they looked like they were floating in the sky.

I made the piñata using a regular paper lantern, and I attached to it  2 inch (5 cms) punched cardboard circles in orange, yellow and green, with the help of a glue gun and lots of patience. The streamers were made out of vellum paper using this tutorial from Oh happy day (one of my very favorite blogs). They are really easy to make and lthey look very nice!

Finally, we  bought boxes made from corrugated cardboard in green, orange and yellow so that guests could take home a piece of cake to enjoy with breakfast the following day.

Yes, that is me in the picture above, cutting the cakes.

In the next post I will show you all activities we did with the children!

Have a lovely weekend!

Luka and Zoe’s Art Party- Part I- The dessert tables

Good evening dear friends! I hope that you are having a lovely week.

It has taken me a while to put together the pictures of Luka and Zoe’s party, but I have finally organized them all, so here is the first of the four posts that I have prepared about it. The first three posts will be mainly visual: I will show you what the party looked like, what we ate, what we crafted, what we did. In the fourth and last post, I will let you know what went right, what went wrong-and what I learnt.

As you know, Luka and Zoe’s birthday was in August. I had, however, started planning this party almost from the minute they turned two years old. I didn’t decide on all details right away, of course, but I did know two things: 1) I wanted an art party, because they greatly enjoy art and because I thought it could entertain children of different ages, and 2) I wanted the color palette to be  fun, vibrant and summery, so I chose the colors yellow, green and orange. The rest of the details started coming to my mind little by little and, by January, I had a clear idea of what I wanted.

By June, however, a major complication appeared: we couldn’t find a suitable, affordable venue in Nicosia. We live in an apartment, so we celebrate Zoe and Luka’s birthdays in kid-friendly venues, where they can run and play in a different way- But the ones we counted on were unavailable, or had gone out of business, or were not suitable anymore. We searched, and searched, and asked around but couldn’t find anything. We had almost decided not to do a big birthday celebration when I had an idea: why not delay the party until November and do it, instead, in Argentina, with all my family and friends? So that’s what we did: I gathered all the supplies I had already bought and travelled with them to my home city, Córdoba, bought here what was missing, crafted the decorations (other than the lovely printables designed by Delicious Tea) and baked everything that was served, all in one week. It was exhausting, yes, but it was absolutely worth it, because we were surrounded by love, by family, by real friends.

We celebrated the party in the backyard of a house rented by my brother for his professional practice (he is a psychologist). The day was beautiful: sunny but not too hot, and with a rather light breeze. We opted for an intimate celebration, and invited around 25 persons only, of which 6 were children of different ages. We set up two tables with the food, and a small table with art supplies for the children, and scattered chairs here and there, so that guests would mingle.

The main dessert table was set up against a wall. As a backdrop, we used three styrofoam boards covered in the colors of the party and attached the souvenirs  (which were sugar cookies coated with royal icing in green, yellow and orange) to them. On top of them, we hanged the birthday banner (also designed by Delicious Tea).

Here are some detailed views of the main table:

 We served popcorn in yellow paper cones (which were a big hit!), cake-pops coated with semi-sweet chocolate…

vegan chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, frosted with vegan buttercream…

…an assortment of sprinkles for the children to decorate their cupcakes with…

 and mini “splash of paint” sugar cookies, decorated with royal icing in the colors of the party.

We also had two two-tier vegan birthday cakes, each of a different flavor: lemon cake with vanilla buttercream and home-made orange jam, chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and berries jam, marble cake with vanilla and chocolate buttercream, and chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and orange jam.

On the second table, we set-up the supplies: Napkins, spoons…

plates, straws and extra glasses…

…as well as three jars filled with lemon, orange and apple candies (which were very common during my own childhood and which I wanted to share with my own children). The candies were taken by children as souvenirs too, at the end of the party.

In the next post I will show you all the decorations we crafted, as well as details of the fabulous printables designed by my dear friend, the super talented Laura, from Delicious Tea.

Have a wonderful week!

Our family trip Part I: Autumn in Belgrade

Autumn in downtown Belgrade


Good morning dear friends!

I’m sorry for the delay in posting this week: we arrived in Argentina last Tuesday after a grueling travel experience, and we have been enjoying some wonderful family time, greeting friends, walking around, re-discovering (for me) and discovering (for my husband and my children) my home of city, Cordoba. This week, I have been fully immersed in the preparation of my children’s belated birthday party, which will take place next Saturday. So it has been hard to keep the blog updated!

Today, however, I won’t talk to you about Cordoba, but about Belgrade, Serbia, which is the city where my husband’s family is, and where we spent one week before flying to Argentina. I had been to Belgrade many times in the past, but this was my first time in Autumn (my favourite season) and I must say that I found it particularly stunning. The trees of Belgrade’s many parks were gloriously red, orange and yellow, and the streets were covered in dead leaves, which crunched under our steps. The weather was fresh, but not yet completely cold, which allowed us to walk along its streets with ease, with our children comfortably sitting in their double stroller.

Knez Mihailjova
Autumn in BEG


Walking is actually one of the things I enjoy doing in Belgrade the most, because it is a very walkable and walked city. I love its parks and its cafes (they say the coffee house tradition was born in Belgrade, before Paris and Rome) and, of course, its poslasticarnica, or traditional pastry shops. Actually, one of the city’s oldest Poslasticarnica, dating from 1936, belongs to one of my husband’s brother in law, Max (whom you can see in the picture below, making the decorations for a traditional Serbian bread, traditionally served during the Family’s Saint’s day).

Traditional pastry shops are generally small, with just a few tables, where you can sit and enjoy a cup of strong Serbian/Turkish Coffee with delicious pastries which denote Serbia’s mixed past: traditional European cakes and oriental delicacies such as baklava. Regarding baklava, for example, you can have it in three different ways: Turkish Baklava (with home-made phyllo pastry), Greek Baklava, and Baklava with Plazma (a Serbian variation, characterized by the inclusion in the filling of a the crumbs of Plazma cookies)


Another favourite spot in the city is Kalemegdan, the old fortress with its beautiful surrounding parks, that overlook the confluence of the rivers Savva and Danube.

Diptico para LVM

Kalemegdan is a great place to walk and, if you have children, you may want to know that the local zoo is located there too. It is also a very common spot for retired people, who play chess in the chess tables located there, a tradition that seems to exist since the times of Tito.

Chess players

The Danube, the Savva, and Belgrade from afar

The Danube from Kalemegdan


Overlooking the Danube on a cold autumn day

At the entrance to the Park (coming from downtown’s main shopping street, Knez Mihaijlova), one can find small shops selling handicraft goods such as copper pots for making coffee, lace works, knits in traditional patterns, militar memorabilia, etcetera.

Kalemegdan shops


The picture below is of a type of street shop that is very common in the city and that I haven’t seen elsewhere: a place where one can find shoe laces of all types and colors. These shops were one of the first things I noticed when I visited Belgrade for the first time-and the variety they offer is deeply missed by my husband when we are abroad!

laces, laces, everywhere
I hope you enjoyed this small tour of Belgrade! I will be back next week with pictures from Cordoba- and from Luka and Zoe’s birthday party!

Have a great week and weekend!




Great Halloween Ideas and Free printables from around the web


Good morning dear friends! I hope you are having a lovely weekend!

Halloween is almost here and, in the past month, the web has been full of wonderful ideas for crafts, decorations, recipes and parties, so I thought I could compile my favourites here and share them with you, for inspiration.

Here they are:


Halloween Boofast, by Sheek Shindings

Beautiful Halloween Parties, featured by Kara’s Party Ideas

Halloween-Thanksgiving party, featured by Kara’s Party Ideas

Classic Rustic Halloween Party, featured by Hostess with the Mostess

Deathly Hallows Dinner Party (for Harry Potter fans, such as myself!), featured by Hostess with the Mostess


Halloween Ghost cupcakes, by Jenny Steffens

Halloween dead finger cookies, by Cake Journal

Vegan Finger witches cookies, by Chef Chloe

Halloween treats, by Cake Journal

Creative Halloween Treats, by The TomKat Studio

Cookie and marshmallow skeletons, by Party Pinching

Halloween Treats, by Delish

Spider topper, by My Cake School

Vegan Spooky eyeballs mini cupcakes, By Vegnews

A selection of Halloween Treat and dessert ideas, by Catch my Party


Halloween décor on a budget, by Oink!

Love Potion Number 9 Witches cauldron, by Icing Designs

Halloween Bats, by Party Frosting

Spider placecards, by The Sweetest Occasion

Fabric and Paper Owls, by Design Sponge

Papier Maché pumpkin,  by Made by Joel

Halloween Crafts, by Country Living

DIY Halloween decorations, by Country Living

Halloween activities, by Tip Junkie

Halloween mummies, by Craftaphile

Halloween Wreath, by Dollar Store Crafts

Free Printables:

Spells Potions PrintablesCandy Jar and Candy Labels,Ghostly Treat Display and Spell bound sweets by Hostess with the Mostess

Halloween Printable Collection, by Celebrations at home

Spooky Halloween sign, by The TomKat Studio

Halloween Boo sign, by The TomKat Studio

Halloween Printables, by Kara’s Party Ideas

Free Halloween Graphics (to use in your decorations!) by The Pixelista

Free Halloween Printable, by I heart Naptime

Free printable tag, by Anders Ruff Design

I hope that this will help you with your party planning! Have a wonderful week!

  Pin It

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.