About zefiart

Blogger, DIY-er, poodle lover, graphic designer, dog groomer, recycler, artist, wonder woman in my spare time.

yeah yeah yeah…

I know. Bad blogger.

But things just happen… ya know?

Like I’ve had a lot to deal with. I might very well love adore living on Paros but in general there is SO much to adapt to about living in Greece vs living in Australia. I mean, for one thing, I lived in Aus most of my life and I knew how things worked there. Plus (until recently from what I read in the news) the government and tax system there actually made sense… it was a civilised country… People who wanted to start a new business or lived on low incomes weren’t pounded into the ground with no taxfree thresholds and a GST(FPA) of 24% on the first euro you made if you were self employed, and then income tax on top of that at the end of the year.

Being self employed apparently means that with insurance of 140e a month minimum (I hear the good news is its just gone up!) and 24% FPA, I get to keep 650 out of every 1000 euros I make, minus monthly accounting fees… and income tax where I can only claim 2000 untaxed receipts at the end of the year… that’s pretty daunting when you’re only starting!

Oh I miss Australia with its $24,000 tax free threshold! Heaven for a new business!

Its just felt like every time I got excited about something, starting something here, I got shot down. But I’ve decided I have to do it. I have to take the plunge, register a business number and start making it work. I can’t live on the pitiful pay here. I could subsist, maybe, but not live. I moved to Greece to be with family with the side benefit of being in Europe. I want to take advantage of being here to visit places I haven’t been before since a flight from here to another country could be as little as 1 hour. A bit different from living in Australia! Not to mention there are so many island in the Cyclades alone that I’ve lived my life hearing the romantic sounding names of but never been to visit… islands like Astipalea, Folegandros, Milos, Serifos, etc.

So, I am preparing get it started and make it work. Wish me luck.

I have a job lined up for summer. A very part time job so I can’t live on that, but it allows me time to build up a grooming business which is the way I want to go. And make things to sell cause making things makes me happy. The job is doing something I love too (painting art on ceramics), so theoretically I’ll be living the dream.

Meanwhile I just wanted to say the reason I haven’t posted in so long is basically cause I felt I had nothing positive to share. I do have some projects and I plan to start sharing them soon and hopefully get back on track with the blog and in my own mind.

So hang in there. I haven’t disappeared forever. I just to sort things out. Till then sharing good stuff will help keep me positive. 🙂


dogs dogs and more dogs!

I finally got to a dog show in Greece! I was lucky to be in Athens when there was a dog show (a weekend of shows to be exact) in Lamia – about a 2 hour drive from Athens.

I joined a friend who breeds and shows toy poodles, we got a place on airbnb and set off with two of her dogs and Lainee.

Naturally, as it goes with all dog shows away, we didn’t really see the town, we spent all day at the show and went out in the evening to have dinner. So I can say I got a glimpse of Lamia nightlife but otherwise saw only the inside of the expo centre.

My friend’s dogs are gorgeous. She showed her black adult male and a silver veteran. We also met up with a lovely young lady from Switzerland and her first show dog, an apricot dwarf. I was thrilled to be able to groom her boy and to brush up topknots on all three.

Heaven… being back to poodle coats, even in mini versions!

I’ve missed showing. Not so much the show itself, but the dogs, the smell of hairspray, the hair… did I mention the hair? I love doing up topknots and scissoring and presenting a poodle for the ring.

I got the chance to go into the ring of course, which was lovely. Especially when the veteran girlie I handled went so well and got 3rd veteran in show! Lovely! Not to mention when the boys both got BOB in each show they entered!

Of course, I was also reminded of all the things I dislike about showing. The nerves before going in the ring. The backstabbing and politics of the show world… So no, I don’t think I’ll be back in the ring any time soon. Not on a regular basis and not with my own dogs… For one thing there’s the fact that I live on an island so getting to a show has the added expense of travel to the mainland. For another, its costly to enter shows and keep dogs in coat. Right now I’m still struggling to make ends meet on my own with one small dog to feed.

Still, I loved seeing all the dog breeds and spending time presenting poodles and with other poodle lovers. I confess I have absolutely no understanding of how showing and points work in Greece (under FCI) but it was extremely interesting to meet breeds which we don’t know of in Australia, let alone to meet the greek breeds I never knew existed.

I just love dogs of all shapes and sizes so here are some gratuitous dog photos. Enjoy.

A caucasian shepherd dog: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasian_Shepherd_Dog
A biewer yorkshire terrier… never heard of this before but SO pretty: http://www.yorkieinfocenter.com/biewer-yorkshire-terrier
A greek shepherd, a breed I’d never heard of before: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_Shepherd

what a year 2019 was

Inside a small cafe near Ermou Street in Athens.

December 23, 2018 I came back to live in Greece. A year ago at this time I was right where I am now. In Athens. A year ago next week I went to Paros to begin my new life there.

2019 was a big year. So was 2018 of course since that was the year I decided to move back to Greece and had to sell everything I owned… but I’ve been thinking about how much my life has changed in one year.

Same cafe, gorgeous decorations.

So much has happened in a year. Most people tell me I’ve achieved tons though I always expect more of myself and I tend to focus on what I haven’t achieved. Still, I figure I should be grateful for everything I have done in that time.

I found work. More than one job in fact. I’ve become known as a good groomer by word of mouth. I bought my own piece of Paros to call home. I’ve made great friends and I’ve spent time with family. I got a poodle to warm my heart. I joined the animal welfare organisations on Paros and have helped animals in need. I’ve been adopted by a cat. I’ve done some of my own work and made things to sell. I bought a car. I’m learning to live in Greece. I’ve set up an art class to start this coming year.

Little Kook is a work of art. Three shops, owned by the same person, an entire street decorated for each season.

Sure, there’s still a ton of things to do. To work out, to decide upon, to set up. A workshop/studio for one thing… sigh. I miss that most of all. Having a dedicated space I can go out to to work on making anything I feel like.

But the possibilities for life here are endless… with all the choices and decisions I’m feeling overwhelmed and (to coin a friend’s expression) I’ve been ‘lost sheeping’ a lot. Which means I stand in the middle of a room thinking ‘what do I do now?’

However, all in all, its been good to come back to Greece. Mom is so happy to have me near by, or living at home as I am now while I’m in Athens. She’s always cooking my favourite meals. Its nice to have my mother near and I like to see her happy.

A local cafe bar called Button. Of course.

I miss Paros and can’t wait to get back to my home and friends, but to be honest, I’m also enjoying my time in Athens. When the weather isn’t too bad I go into the city center and wander around. Its amazing down there.

Elize, a cafe full of flowers.

One of the things the greeks do best is the cafes… We have great cafes in Australia sure, but here they are inspired! They do the ‘themed’ cafes so well. And they are always packed despite charging 7e or more for a slice of cake. Unbelievable. I went out yesterday and ate a meal in Psiri for 20e for two people, then a cafe for a small cappucino and cake for 2 people and paid 23.30e. Highway robbery. And yet, the places are always full.

Pink and red cakes.
Even pink cappucino.

Life in Greece is contradictory. So many homeless. Crime. Yet people enjoy their lives and somehow can afford to go out as well. Beats me how they do it, but they do.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that today. I had planned on writing more and sharing more, but I can’t concentrate with all thats happening in Australia right now. My heart is aching for all the animals lost and all the people who lost everything they own…



I’m back. I did promise to tell you about my new job. Well, till a week ago and hopefully again starting in March.

I have been painting on porcelain clay items for Yria Ceramics on Paros.

I love the job. Its very fine work as most items are small and require working with brushes I have successfully avoided working with for many years. In fact I was working with brushes with about 3 hairs on them for the insects, especially the butterflies.

It takes a bit of getting used to – working on unfired clay – as the water is absorbed really fast, but I’m getting it. I love learning new things and this is interesting and fun too.

I work on my own in a tiny little studio where I can listen to music or audio books as I work and Lainee comes along to keep me company.

What more can a person ask for?

I’m hoping to buy some clay of my own to make a few things for myself. Little sculptures and ornaments and whatever I feel like. I am so enjoying the clay.

Its Christmas Eve now and I’m in the grooming shop with Grumpy on my lap, Lainee on a chair next to me and Pacquaio on a rug next to me. Gato the kitten is in his bed. Its quiet now but someone wanted to bring his dog in after 4pm so I wait… Maybe he will come, maybe he wont. You never know with people. They want you to do something for them when they want you to, but never think to call if they don’t plan to come. Don’t consider that they might be putting you out…

Ok, give him the benefit of the doubt. I had one no-show yesterday, maybe this guy will turn up…

The weather is still not what I’d call winter, but we’ve had some rain which only manages to make things annoying when you want to walk dogs.

Tomorrow is Christmas and a day to spend with family. Hope everyone has a great Christmas!


athens… again

All roads lead to Athens it seems.

I love being on Paros but there’s always some reason to come back to Athens. This time its Christmas and mom, but its also dogsitting and looking after a grooming salon. ie, doing any dogs who happen to need grooming while the owner is away. I mean, I’m here anyway…

The dogs I’m dog sitting are Grumpy, a tiny 17 year old yorkie who is deaf and blind, and Pacquiao, an american staffie. And a kitten called Gato. They are all gorgeous of course.

I managed to go see a rockabilly band on Saturday night and have a few dances. That was fun. There’s tons happening in that scene here – not so much the REAL rockabilly scene maybe, but the swing dance scene. Seems its become extremely popular and there are tons of people dancing in various degrees of success and rhythm. I plan/hope to get to quite a few more.

And I’ve organised to get to a big dog show in mid January. That should be super fun too…. I’ve missed the smell of hairspray!

Other than that, you know… the usual. I’m binge watching Vikings cause it must be done. And so far I’ve successfully avoided doing any craft or artwork. I will get to it though. I brought my art supplies cause I have a poodle portrait commission, and some fabrics and sewing supplies for an etsy project I have in mind.

More later!


dedication to my grandparents

Its been a long time since I shared a creative project (yeah, Christmas crafts don’t count).

This is something I’d been planning to do for ages. I started it in Australia and brought the bits with me to Greece to finish it.

Basically its a memory box type of photo display dedicated to mom’s parents.

My grandmother was a seamstress and my grandfather was a fisherman. Since I already had tons of vintage sewing bits and pieces, it was easier to work with the seamstress theme.

I printed some old photos, going back to 1932 for the first one where my grandparents only had 3 of their 7 children, then a photo of my grandmother with 5 children. I didn’t have a photo with all 7 children…

On the left, my grandmother is the one on the right and grandfather is the one sitting at her feet with 3 children (my mother is the baby in his arms). On the right my grandmother is surrounded by her 3 daughters (mom on the right) with one son on the left and one in her lap.

My favourite photo of my grandparents is the one below where they are mending fishing nets together. Thats how I first remember them.

I lined the back of the box with a vintage sewing pattern and added various bits and pieces from my mother’s old sewing box.

The only thing missing is the vintage little pair of sewing scissors I have… I know they’re are here somewhere but they’re obviously packed in a craft box. When I find them I will add them to the box.

This is the first frame for my gallery wall.


christmas decorations and work

Phew. Its been busy around here. Makes me think I must have been REALLY wicked in a previous life.

Firstly, I thank my lucky stars that I’m the kind of person who is never without a job. In fact, I look forward to downtime between jobs and end up with another job before I manage to start a single one of my own projects.

After the hectic summer job in a travel agency and car rental office, I finished up end of October, had a week in Athens to visit mom, went back to Paros to start creating… and got another job. More on that in another post…

I also decided to help PAWS (Paros Animal Welfare Society) raise money for their new shelter by making stuff to sell for the Christmas markets. Firstly my friend Barbara and I ran a craft workshop (total disaster…) and then I just stuck to making things at home in the peace and quiet of my own living room/kitchen/office/craft room/sewing room while binge watching Netflix.

These are some of the things I made… gift tags, DIY air dry clay decorations, pocket warmers, among other stuff. It was work, craft, work, craft. Then it was market, market, market.

Lainee helping at the market.

I also fostered the cutest little jack russell for 3 weeks, and dog sat a cute little dachsund for one week. It never rains it pours.

The cute Toby.
Sleeping dogs in a mess of crafting supplies.
Indy who made himself at home.

But its finally over!

My new job is over for the season and I don’t go back till March too, so time for Zefi… but no….

Now I’m on my way to Athens again to look after a pit bull, a tiny blind yorkie, a cat and a grooming salon.

Boy was I wicked in that past life!

Since I haven’t posted in so long, prepare for a barrage of posts.


athens again

I’ve been in Athens for 5 days. I’ve had a headache for 4.5 days…

Ok, not quite so bad, but it did take a couple of days to acclimatize to the noise and traffic here. Not that we don’t have those captivating attractions on Paros… but at least you can step away from that easier on an island.

I had such plans for my time here. I did manage to tick stuff off the list but I also spent more than my fair share of time watching a new series on Netflix and being a sloth. I’ve been watching Mindhunters and enjoying it. So much stuff to watch, so little time.

I’ve also driven more in Athens on this trip than I have in years. And I’ve managed to pay tolls twice on every trip I made. Me and Google Maps obviously don’t speak the same language. When she says ‘ in 100 metres lean right (or left)’ I end up exiting the toll road and have to get back on. Sheesh. Sort of defeats the purpose of being on the toll road to start with.

I brought the car over to get some work done on it and cause I needed to bring things from Paros to keep in the Athens house. I have a store room on Paros but its too damp for me to risk my paintings etc. So a full car came to Athens and a full car will return to Paros cause I have things to collect from here and things people give me…

I am a well known collector of things which could be useful.

Not that I have the room to collect things to do stuff with at the moment in my tiny house, but I figure I can give away stuff I don’t want.

I went into the center of Athens once on this trip so far to buy crafting supplies for a project I’ll share later. My cousin and I happened to go into Athens on the day of a demonstration and walked down to Syntagma Square to find it empty and barricaded by police.

I do love Athens without traffic…

It was also the day the weather changed from summer to winter. We were totally unprepared for the storm and got soaked. But despite that, a visit into the center of Athens is always fun. There are so many great shops, so many wonderful cafes, so much to explore.

We found the best button shop in the world. How cool is this tiny place filled from top to bottom with any button you might ever need? This shop has been here since the 50s and I bet they still have stock from then too!

I think I need a bulletin board at home to pin all the business cards from the shops I discovered so I know how to find them again or to be able to order stuff from them. Great sources for all kinds of things. So much fun!

Meanwhile, I’ve caught up with friends and relatives and generally have had a nice time relaxing in the family home and enjoying mom’s cooking.

I met a greek australian guy who owns a grooming shop locally and will dog sit for him over Xmas and look after his dogs. He let me wash and groom Lainee there which was nice as I haven’t yet set up a space to use dryers and stuff at home on Paros. She’s all fluffed up now and looks wonderful. Fat but wonderful…

Thats all the news on Athens for now but despite my quietness there are tons of things going on I’ll share when I can.

Stay tuned.


learning to live in greece

Every time you get your head up someone tries to get you down? Maybe you are a part of a Wack-a-Mole game!

That’s exactly how life feels now.

Seriously. You have no idea how complicated everything has to be here. I spend my time thinking about how I’ll make a living/survive and I’ll get an idea and get all excited about the potential and sure enough, something/someone will come along and wack me back under my rock.

Its really depressing.

I’ll give you an example. The town council advertised for a fine art teacher. Its a part time job, on contract for 9 months, they have funding for up to xxx amount of hours and would run classes depending on how many people joined up for them.

The perfect job for me I thought. I had the qualifications… so I applied. Its apparently based on a point system: a degree in Fine Art is worth 15 points. Every year in a related job is worth 1 point. Etc. I figured I had a shot…

I spent time re-writing my resume, translating it into greek, got together what they asked for: a letter of application, a photocopy of my ID card and the declarations they wanted (that I had never been fired from a council position in the past and that I wasn’t precluded from a job with the council under some code, paragraph, subsection etc. I figured I was probably ok, not having worked in Greece in a public servant capacity ever, and took them to the town council building in person.

The woman who took my envelope looked at it and said “where are your supporting documents?”.

I’m like “what supporting documents? I brought what you asked for asked for to apply for the job”.

She said, “where is your degree and your high school diploma and …(whatever)?”

I said, “this is my application. I’d be bringing that stuff (including a folio of work) to the interview…”

“Oh, there is no interview. Its a point system. Whoever has the most points gets the job.”


You mean some creepy guy with slimy hands and dog breath, no personality and a total lack of ability to relate to people and actually teach them anything might have more points so he gets the job over someone who may have a few less points but can teach and create enthusiasm in a class or make it fun misses out?

Yep. I can see the sense in that.

Needless to say I didn’t apply for that job. Mainly cause she said take this and come back with your supporting documents or you’ll lose points. So off I went to look for my documents and after searching for over an hour I gave up. Not finding them meant I wouldn’t have enough points, but not leaving my application meant zero points anyway!

Stuff it.

And what about the post office debacle? Seems one of the postmen quit or left or ran off to join the circus or something, so mail (in parts of the island) hasn’t been delivered for almost 2 months. Okay… my house and my first delivery address of choice wasn’t in the affected areas but work is. But never once did I hear anything about mail not being delivered so I could make it a habit of going past the PO once a week to check on mail.

Let me explain Paros to you…

This is a greek island. So, not only is it in GREECE, its an island so things are doubly backward.

Up till the last few years there were no names on any streets or roads on this island. Then names began appearing cause apparently the local postman, who knew everyone, was retiring and no new postman stood a chance of learning how to deliver mail.

There are still plenty of streets with no name and buildings with no number. I have no address at my home. When I wanted a phone line put into my place I had to give them a neighbouring phone number so they could figure out where I was.

When I tell people where I live I say “You know the road that turns right to XXX Hotel? Well, you go past that but just after it there’s a road that heads up a hill on the opposite side…. thats where I live. There are a ton of building up there, but the first building is at a right angle to the road, then another is parallel to the road. That’s my building, my place is the xth unit with number x on the door.”

Putting that on an envelope imposes a challenge…

So instead I opted to have stuff delivered to my a hotel my uncles co-own, but since I was living in my grandmother’s old house and the postman knew me, he would just deliver stuff to my door. Then when I began working I asked him to bring mail to my work cause its very close to the post office. He passed that info on to his replacement but we won’t mention the parcels that got left on the doorstep of the old, unoccupied, house…

So, about a week ago two things happened simultaneously. A friend asked if I’d gotten my replacement credit card in the mail, which she’d sent ages ago. No… I hadn’t.

And I checked on the status of an ebay purchase which had never arrived. I’d given it extra time just in case. Turns out it arrived, sat in the PO for 2 weeks and got sent back to China!

When I went in to the PO to yell at people that this was unforgivable, that NO ONE notified me that my mail was in the PO, that if I hadn’t overheard my boss telling someone mail wasn’t being delivered, I wouldn’t have had any idea!!! You know what the guy behind the counter said? He said he’d seen my parcel sitting there for ages and wondered why I never went to pick it up!

(insert swear word of your choice here)!!!

There’s more… but I won’t bore you with it. Well, at least not in this post. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more in later posts…


jazzing up a denim jacket

You know, it occurred to me that I haven’t share any DIY/craft projects for a while… and this post has been sitting in my draft folder for quite a long time (given I started this project while living in Tasmania!) waiting for more up-to-date-though-never-finished pics.

I figured I may as well share what I’ve done to my plain denim jacket so far. I hadn’t had a denim jacket for many years and decided I needed one, but when I went looking I couldn’t find one I liked so I bought a cheap one thinking I’d jazz it up myself. The one I ended up buying was comfortable but didn’t have breast pockets which made it look really boring… ugh.

Don’t know about you, but I love the crazy stitching a la boro/sashiko/japanese style etc. I also love visible mending and generally badly stitched and mended stuff. I have a huge collection of such images in my Pinterest boards if you wanna visit.

This image is the inspiration for part 1 of the jacket makeover.


Only I went with a patchwork of fabrics, and only under the collar for that flash of colour. At least in Part 1 of the makeover…

Step 1: Distress the jacket. I used a razor blade and worked at fraying some of the edges. I had planned to run over it with the car a few times but chickened out.

Step 2: Select fabrics that compliment eachother in colours you like. I chose different red tones and patterns.


Step 3: Start sewing them on. I did this by hand as I didn’t want the stitches to show on the top side of the collar. Plus I wanted to do it in my own very messy way. (I’m really not that good at hand sewing… or sewing in general for that matter… its part of my charm.)


Sorry for the blurry pic.


This is how the collar looked with the fabrics layed out and pinned to be stitched on.

Step 4: Colourful seams. I brought some needles and embroidery thread with me when I came to Greece on holiday last summer and whiled away some quiet hours inspired by this image on Pinterest:

I loved the different colours and thought they’d make the jacket stand out a bit… and turns out I was neater with the stitching than I meant to be.

Funny story actually… I have a natural tendency towards neatness and have real difficulty with randomness. I worked hard to loosen up my art for instance – not using glasses so I couldn’t focus on details, using my whole hand and pastels instead of coloured pencils and my face an inch from the page, forcing myself to go for expression rather than each individual hair on a dog’s head, etc.

Reversely, my sewing sucks. No matter how hard I tried for years to make my stitches neat and even, I just can’t do it. Yet when I want to be messy and random I end up with something that looks neat. How on earth does that happen?

Ok so I couldn’t find a photo of the jacket with just the coloured edging on the seams, so you a step 5 image…

Step 5: Embroidery… I began sewing random patterns and trying really hard to do messy embroidery. My french knots are pretty bad actually.

This is how the jacket looks currently, but its a work in progress. The blank area on the right side needs more french knots, kind of scattering out. The back yolk needs a whole lotta embroidery. And I’m considering something big on the back…

By the end of it I should know how to do any stitch you care to name, have made up some of my own, and have a jacket I need a forklift to put on.

Its real purty though, ain’t it?