JUST LOVED READING: Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, A Muslim Book of Colors

JUST LOVED READING: Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, A Muslim Book of Colors
Old mosque old Rhodes City, Rhodes, Greece

Old mosque old Rhodes City, Rhodes, Greece

Just Loved Reading:

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors

Picture Book

Khan, Hena. Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2012.

           Objects that are a part of Islamic tradition and the Muslim religion (food, clothing, domes, etc) resonate in a specific color in the eyes of a girl: red reminds her of the red prayer rug her father uses to pray five times a day; blue represents the blue hijab her mother wears; gold covers the domes of the mosque; purple is the color of the gift the girl receives during the holiday, Eid; brown is the color of dates, etc.

This picture book of colors brings the Muslim religion vividly to life.


The colors of the objects used when practicing the faith illuminate the Muslim religion and its traditions in this book. The illustrations are colorful and beautiful; the language is simple yet descriptive for children to absorb the information. Told in verse.

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Just Loved Reading:


Middle Grade Fiction

Vawter, Vince. Paperboy. New York: Delacorte Press, 2013

“Words in the air blow away as soon as you say them but words on paper last forever.” (Paperboy, p 21)

Memphis, Tennessee, 1959. The protagonist in Paperboy can’t say his name without inhaling big gulps of Gentle Air as his speech therapist taught him. (We learn his name in the last chapter and that his first name and his last name start with the same letter.) Some words are easier to say than other words depending on the first letter of the word because some letters are easier to pronounce than others.

He calls his best friend Rat because it’s easier to say than his real name, Art.

He throws a mean ball, though – it’s the one thing he’s good at – in his opinion. It’s also the opinion of his team. He feels at home on the baseball mound but not everywhere else in his white suburban world.

He takes over Art’s paper route for one month even though he knows it will be hard for him to communicate with the customers on collection day. He knows he’s taking on a challenge. But the people and the events that he encounters and the surprising new friends he makes during that one month and on that paper route changes his life forever.

And that is just the beginning.


The protagonist is one of the most likeable, sympathetic, inspiring children in children and Young Adult literature that I have ever read about. I wanted to hug him. Other readers may want to hug him, too. He never stops thinking of ways to overcome his stuttering but confesses his loneliness because his stuttering sets him apart from other kids. Inspite of everything, he doesn’t give up or feel sorry for himself.  Instinctively, he lives one day at a time.

The reader will root for him through every step of his journey from trying to collect money to witnessing a knifing to becoming friends with a deaf boy and a retired sailor to discovering a family secret. This boy is a hero because of the way he handles himself in these situations with the kinds of people he encounters and the decision he reaches about his family’s past.

In the author’s note, Vince Vawter, a stutterer himself, quotes James Earl Jones, who overcame his stutter and became a renowned actor: “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.”

Paperboy will lift up your spirits.

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Crafting = Quality Family Time

Crafting = Quality Family Time
Prints - made by hand

Prints – a craft for children, adults                      and teens

Crafting = Quality Family Time

Some parents are skilled crafters. Others are doing well to cut paper in a reasonably straight line. No matter which group you fall into, crafting with your kids is beneficial for all involved.

Few things bring families together like crafting. Here are some of the good things that come out of crafting with your kids.

* Crafting builds creativity. Developing minds need a creative outlet, and crafting provides the opportunity for kids to use their imaginations. It helps them learn to solve problems, and it could lay the groundwork for a lifetime of interest in art. For parents, getting creative can help reduce stress and promote using the brain in ways that we don’t have a reason to use it every day.

* Crafting teaches kids to follow directions. This seems like a very basic skill, but we all know adults who can’t seem to follow directions. When kids craft, they learn the consequences of not following directions when their projects do not turn out as expected. They learn that it is important to do things the right way the first time.

* For young children, crafting is fabulous for learning basic skills. Almost any type of craft promotes hand-eye coordination. Kids can also learn to use scissors, measure and do lots of other things they will eventually do in everyday life.

* Parents and children take the opportunity to talk. In our busy lives, it seems that we know less about our kids than earlier generations of parents did. Passive activities such as watching TV do little to encourage conversation. But when you’re crafting together, talking comes naturally. You can seize the opportunity to discuss such things as your child’s interests, his concerns, and how he’s doing in school.

* Crafting is a great way to wind down. It’s wonderful for kids to be active, but there are times when they need to calm down. If you find your child getting agitated or exhibiting a lot of energy near bedtime, try bringing out the craft supplies. Crafting engages kids’ minds, giving them something to focus on and a good reason to sit still for a while.

* Creating things is a confidence booster. Parents who craft regularly know the feeling of accomplishment when a project is complete. Multiply this feeling by ten, and you have a pretty good idea of how your child feels when he makes something. For kids, crafting can help build positive self-esteem.

* Working on a project together is a great way to teach your kids teamwork. This will help them develop skills needed to resolve disputes peacefully and effectively. It will also help them discover their strengths and teach them that doing their best will make the entire project turn out better.

* Crafting creates treasured family memories. The finished product will serve as a reminder of the fun you had making it together.

Crafting as a family provides opportunities for us to interact with our children. It is also a valuable learning experience for them. Don’t worry if you aren’t the world’s greatest crafter. Simply being willing to try anyway is a lesson to your kids in itself.

Crafting = Quality Family Time

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Recycled Valentines

Recycled Valentines

Recycled Valentines


Paper in pink, red, purple, white

Greeting cards or images downloaded from the Internet

Lace Paper doilies







Recycled cards


Glue stick

White glue

Heart-shaped cookie cutters, templates, stencils or the patterns provided below

String or yarn

Markers or colored pencils

  1. Gather greetings cards that you no longer want and cut out shapes that are traditional for a Valentine’s Day theme: flowers, birds, kittens, hearts, puppies, etc. Or download images or clip art from a free program on the Internet.
  2. Using the heart patterns provided or a heart-shaped cookie cutter(s) or template(s) or stencil(s), trace and cut the heart out of colored paper. Use the largest pattern or cookie cutter or stencil for the main part of the valentine. Make more than one valentine and use papers of various colors. Trace and cut hearts of smaller sizes, too.
  3. Glue sequins, images from the greeting cards, small heart-shapes, etc in a pleasing design on the valentine.
  4. Using markers or colored pencils, write a message: “Happy Valentine’s Day!” or any other message suitable for the holiday
  5. Optional: Glue string or yarn on the back of the valentine and hang it up or give it to a friend of your choice.


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Another Healthy Apple Salad

Another Healthy Apple Salad
@Photograph by Marion Constantinides Oct. 2016

@Photograph by Marion Constantinides Oct. 2016

Apple Salad:

2  cups Romaine (or greens of choice)

1 – 2 unpeeled red apples, diced

1/2 cup diced celery

1/4 cup craisins (or raisins)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or slivered almonds)

For the dressing:

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons pineapple juice

1 Tablespoon sugar

In a large salad bowl, toss lettuce, celery, craisins, apples, and walnuts. In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the dressing. (Or use a mild dressing of your choice.) Pour over the salad and toss.

Take to a picnic or serve with grilled food. Serve immediately.

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Valentine’s Day Votive/Vase Project

Valentine’s Day Votive/Vase Project

Beat the winter doldrums with a fun craft project! Use it as a Valentine’s Day decoration, give as a gift

 or use it all-year round! Super easy and cheap to make too!





Shells in different sizes

Strand of pearls or beads

Large clear vase with a neck (See photo)

Small votive/candle holder (make sure it fits into the opening of the vase)

Small candle or tea light that fits into the votive holder

Optional: Red or pink ribbon (the neck of the vase will decide the width and length of the ribbon)

1. Wash and dry the vase and candle holder/votive so that they shine.

2. Let the shape of the vase dictate where the shells, pearls and other objects of choice will lay inside the vase. Intertwine one strand of beads or pearls. Add some shells. Mix again.

3. Place the larger shells and pearls or beads next and then intertwine another strand of beads or pearls.

  1. Finally, arrange the medium objects on top. Add the last strand of pearls or beads.  Mix. Make sure there is enough room for the candle holder/votive which should protrude above the neck of the vase just enough so that it is noticeable.
  2. Optional: Tie a bow around the neck of the vase. If the vase is narrow at the bottom, and widens just below the neck, place the small ones on the bottom. Refer to the photo of the finished craft.

Substitutions for the vase:


Small handmade soaps



Heart-shaped paper cutouts


Mix it up!

Substitutions for the votive/candle holder:

Flower bud

Tiny beads

Colored water


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“Quilted” Heart Banner for Valentine’s Day

“Quilted” Heart Banner for Valentine’s Day





Ages: 5 – 12 years

Time: one hour


Yellow felt square 16” x 14”

Dowel rod 18”

Red, pink, yellow, and white craft foam cut into 2″ x 2″ squares

¼” ribbon in red, yellow, pink and white.

String – double the length of the dowel rod

poster board or single sheet of craft foam of any color

Using a template or a stencil or drawing by hand, trace the heart on to poster board or a single sheet of craft foam of any color and cut. The heart should measure about 13 3/4″ x 10.”

Cut 8 yellow, 11 red, 10 white and 10 pink squares from the craft foam sheets. The squares should measure 2″ x 2.” Divide the heart in half vertically and in half again horizontally. (Refer to the photo of the banner.)

Lay the squares down along the horizontal fold in the following pattern: white, yellow, pink and red. Place the next row of squares below the first row. Stagger the colored squares so that the second row is not directly beneath the first row. Repeat the pattern until the squares cover the heart. Glue. Allow the pieces to dry.

Fill in the odd-shaped areas with the appropriately colored squares and glue. When those pieces are dry, turn the heart around and trim along the outline of the heart. Measure and cut the felt to 16” x 14”. Place it horizontally. Make a loop by measuring and folding a 1” seam. Iron. Measure and fold a second 1” seam. Iron and glue the second fold. You will be inserting the dowel rod through this loop. (The length of the banner will be about 16” x 12.” This does not include the ribbons.)

Measure and cut two 18” lengths of each color of ribbon. Poke a hole every two inches along the bottom of the felt with a sharp tool. Alternate the colors, pull the ribbon through and tie a knot in the back so that the ribbon is held in place. (Small children should let adults do this for them.) Glue the heart on the felt. Cut the dowel rod to 18” and insert through the loop at the top. Cut the string to a length suitable for hanging. Tie the string to each end of the dowel rod.

VARIATION: Use other shapes to decorate your heart banner: circles/dots, flowers, squiggle lines, triangles, etc. Today, Valentine’s Day honors lovers. We celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th by sending gifts like candy and cards.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

COPYRIGHT 2013 Marion Constantinides

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How to Make Homemade Soap

We all use soap. In the old days, most people made their own. Today, we are much more likely to buy it from the store. There are lots of brands to choose from, and each brand has various formulations and scents.

But making your own soap has some definite advantages. One of the most significant is the price. We can make soap cheaper than we can buy it. Making it ourselves also gives us complete control over the ingredients, so we can create a soap in a favorite scent that’s perfect for our skin type.

Making soap is easier than you might think. It is, however, important to take certain safety precautions. Here’s a basic recipe:


* 12 cups lye crystals

* 5 cups softened water

* 6 pounds lard


  1. Put water in a glass or plastic bowl. Carefully pour lye crystals into water, stirring constantly with a plastic or wooden spoon. Do this outdoors or in a well-ventilated area because it produces caustic fumes.
  2. Mixing lye and water produces heat. When the lye is completely dissolved, set the mixture aside to cool.
  3. Place lard in a stainless steel or enamel pan. Melt over low heat.
  4. Allow both the lye solution and the lard to cool to room temperature.
  5. Slowly pour the lye solution into the lard, stirring slowly and constantly with the plastic or wooden spoon.
  6. Continue stirring as you add all the lye solution. Drizzle a small amount of the mixture into the pot periodically. When the soap keeps its shape for a moment before sinking into the mixture, you can add scent, color and herbs.
  7. Pour the soap into a mold greased with Crisco. Wrap in a towel, and let set for about 18 hours or until completely cooled. Uncover and let set for 12 more hours.
  8. The soap may now be taken out of the mold and cut into bars. Let the bars cure for 3 to 4 weeks before using.

Customizing Your Soap

There are lots of different ways you can customize your soap. To make the best soap for your skin type, you may want to use different oils. Some that are commonly used include olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter and Shea butter. The correct amount varies depending on which oil you use, so look for recipes online or in books until you get the hang of it.

Essential oils have therapeutic properties and add fragrance. Add oatmeal, cornmeal and other grains and use them to exfoliate.To produce the desired color add skin-safe colorants. Mix the ingredients together and add to a cup of the soap mixture, then stir into the rest of the soap mixture immediately before pouring into the mold.

Making your own soap is easy, and is lots of fun. Coming up with the perfect concoction for your skin is rewarding, and sweetly scented homemade soaps make wonderful gifts for any occasion.

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Homemade Paint for Kids

Homemade Paint for Kids
Home-Made Paint for Kids

Painted with Home-Made Kids’ Paint











1 cup salt

1 cup flour

1 cup water

Food coloring

Mix the above ingredients and stir.

Add the food coloring and stir. Make paints in the primary colors first: red, yellow and blue.



Mix primary colors to make the secondary colors if you can’t find any of the secondary colors in food coloring bottles in the grocery store. Even if you can find the secondary colors, it’s fun to make your own.

The secondary colors are:

yellow + red = orange

blue + yellow = green

red + blue = purple

Using fingers or brushes, paint a beautiful painting!

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Make Your Own Cards – Fun and Easy!

Instead of giving out a store-bought card for the next special occasion, try your hand at making your own cards. Making your own cards does not need a lot of hard work, but rather a bit of creativity and the right materials.

To start creating your cards visit your local arts and crafts store to search for materials. Most arts and crafts stores have big scrapbook sections. This is where you will be able to find the materials to make your own cards. Let your inspiration guide you as the sky is the limit. You can create various themed cards such as Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s Day cards and much more.

Rubber stamps are widely available and you can buy almost any color ink to go with the stamps. There are several stamping methods that you can use when making cards including embossing. Embossing is the process of creating a raised image on the card and it can give the card an elegant appearance.

There are several die cuts and die cut machines available as well. Die cuts allow you to punch a shape out with ease. They come in all different shapes and sizes. They are very useful in achieving a layered look. You can punch die cuts out of different color papers to display a colorful card.

Scrapbook papers come in all different colors, textures and themes. You can buy patterned paper as well as glitter paper and pre-scored card kits. Card kits come with the note cards already made and ready to decorate. The kits come in different sizes and often different colors to meet a variety of needs. During seasonal periods, such as Christmas, card kits come out with note cards, envelopes and many die cut shapes.

Both regular and 3 dimensional stickers are available and come in many themes. Disney stickers are available as well as licensed characters and many 3 dimensional designs. Adding stickers to your cards can help to foster even more creativity when matching colors and themes. You can further enhance your handmade cards by adding ribbon or brads. Ribbon comes in a plethora of colors, shapes and textures. Brads hold items such as die-cuts on the card without the use of an adhesive.

Simply put, making cards is a creative process that only you can foster. Use a variety of items which found in your local arts and crafts store, second-hand store or dollar store. You can play around using different methods to decorate the cards and have fun at the same time!

All art tutorials are available on this website.

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