Prepare for Easter with a bit of handmade love

BEIRUT: Like many other traditional celebrations, Easter has become something of an excuse to shop, with stores full of garish decorations and candy piled high. Bring a little love back to the holiday with these DIYs.

A springtime flower

From Layla Totah, sewing teacher under the name The Old Fashioned Way. These spring-like flowers can be made into brooches, hair clips, headbands or just sewn onto your clothes for a cheerful floral look – perfect for wearing for an Easter Sunday lunch.

You need:

- Fabric cut into 5 circles (can be one fabric or five different kinds)

- A needle

- Thread

- A pretty button

- Brooch back/hair clip

- An iron (optional)

- Glue (for cheating – optional!)

To make:

- Fold each circle in half and half again and iron flat. The pretty side of the fabric should be showing.

- Thread your needle with a double thread and tie a knot in the end.

- Stitch a running stitch from one end of the rounded side to the other end. (For a running stitch – take several small stitches forward into all layers of fabric, evenly weaving through the fabric then pulling the thread through)

- Without cutting the thread, start on the next circle doing the same thing. Continue until you have five circles hanging from your thread.

- GENTLY pull all the pieces of fabric together until they are gathered up and look like pretty petals.

- Using the thread that is still hanging stitch each end petal together, so that you have a circle of petals and a hole in the middle.

- Sew the button on over the hole, or if you want to cheat glue it on!

For more ideas or to develop your sewing skills, Layla offers classes via The Old Fashioned Way from beginner to advanced level. For more information see or find The Old Fashioned Way on Facebook.

To contact: Call 71-476-056 or email

Hot Cross Buns

From Khaled Kara, chef at Gustav patisserie

An Easter treat traditionally eaten on Good Friday, this sweet, spiced bun is made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top as a symbol of the Crucifixion.

The majority of the ingredients can be found in every home.

You need:

- 1 cup warm milk (40-46C)

- 5 teaspoons active dry yeast

- 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

- 4 cups all-purpose flour

- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice (or a mix of cloves, nutmeg & cinnamon)

- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

- 1 teaspoon salt

- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

- 2 large eggs

- 1 large egg yolk

- 1/2 cup dried currants

- 1/3 cup golden raisins

- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest

- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest

- 3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar

To make:4 In a small bowl stir together milk, yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.

-  Into a large bowl sift together flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cut butter into bits and with your fingertips or a pastry blender. Blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal.

-  Lightly beat 1 whole egg with egg yolk.

-  Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg mixtures, currants, raisins and zests. Stir mixture until a dough is formed.

- Transfer dough to a floured surface and with floured hands knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

- Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

- Butter 2 large baking sheets.

- On a floured surface with floured hands knead dough briefly and form into two 30-cm-long logs.

- Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 4cm apart on baking sheets. Let buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

- Preheat oven to 200C

- While buns are rising, lightly beat remaining egg with superfine sugar to make an egg glaze.

- On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out pastry dough into a 50x15cm rectangle (about 3mm thick).

- With a sharp knife cut the rectangle crosswise into 3mm-wide strips.

- Brush buns with egg glaze and arrange 2 pastry strips over center of each bun to form a cross.

- Trim ends of pastry strips flush with bottoms of buns.

-  Bake buns in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 12 minutes.

- Transfer buns to a rack to cool slightly.

- Buns may be made 1 week ahead and frozen, wrapped in foil and put in a sealable plastic bag. Thaw buns and reheat before serving. Serve buns warm or at room temperature.

Find Gustav on Antoun Gemayel St., Hamra, Beirut and at

To contact: Call 01-747-199.

Chalkboard Easter eggs

From Krystel Kouyoumdjis of Pixie designGive your decorated Easter eggs a practical edge with this chalkboard egg DIY. Personalize them with a message, or write the name of your Easter guests.

You need:

- Paint (whatever color you fancy)

- Grout

- Chalk

- White eggs (boiled or emptied)

- Gloves

- Paintbrushes

- Thread or scotch tape for more elaborate designs.

To make:4 Chalkboard paint: To create paint which can be written on with chalk, simply mix the paint with the grout: 1 cup of paint requires 2 tablespoons of grout.

- Get your hands dirty: Dip your paintbrushes in the chalkboard paint you’ve just mixed, and paint away. You can use more than one color on each egg by blocking out areas with scotch tape or thread. Or you can choose to get creative later with the chalk.

- Patience is a virtue: After giving the paint enough time to dry out completely, get ready to get down to scribbling! Children can help out at this point ... and if they change their mind about their artwork, they can just wipe it off and start again!

- Last but not least: Distribute the tagged eggs as per your seating plan. Add some freshly cut flowers for decoration, and while you’re at it leave some chalk lying around so guests can write their own messages as well!

With Pixie design, Krystel Kouyoumdjis creates personalized stationary and gifts using scraps of fabric, thread, recycled cardboard and paper and other materials. For more information see To contact:

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 05, 2012, on page 2.




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