Monday, 16 January 2017

Climbing

Ro'i likes the idea of parkour jumping. His Mum isn't so keen. She didn't want me to show her son jumping between buildings, so together they decided on a picture of him climbing a tree instead. Apparently he climbs on everything!
Mum also suggested that I show him wearing a grey hoodie, and she asked me to add his favourite football team Chelsea F.C.'s badge too. He's a big fan!
When Mum received the card she messaged me to say "I love it! It looks just like him. Thanks!", then on Ro'i's birthday she sent me this fabulous photo. Looks like he was happy to receive his card.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Allon's Bar Mitzvah

Some of my customers send me a list of two or three hobbies when they order a customised card. Others keep it really simple and ask for just one theme. This lovely customer sent me a great long list of things that her son enjoys and, though I knew there was a lot to fit in, I enjoy a challenge!
My customer wanted a special card for her son who was shortly going to become Bar Mitzvah. She already knew how I work and sent me some pictures of the young man, along with photos of some of the things that he likes. These included his newest toy, a DapoStar, a picture of his saxophone and a picture of the stuffed dog he has had for years. He is a fan of the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team, she told me, he loves riding his skateboard and playing table tennis, and he has a big collection of military stuff. There was more, she said, but thought that this was perhaps enough. Um, yes it was!
I have shown the blue-eyed Bar Mitzvah boy wearing a red Hapoel Jerusalem scarf around his neck. He has his DapoStar in one hand and his saxophone in the other. His biggest dream is to have a dog, Mum told me, so I put a dream bubble above his head... with a little picture of the stuffed dog he has had for years in it. I think Mum was teasing him.
He loves riding his skate board so I added a picture of his red Pro-Tec Classic Spitfire helmet, along with a table tennis bat and ball. Finally, I cut out some tiny swords and some of the military badges he collects. It took some juggling, but I got everything in there!
The Hebrew greeting on the card says " To Our Alloni, Congratulations on your Bar Mitzvah".
Mum was already sure that she was going to love the card. She had high expectations.
"Thanks very much. It's beautiful. I love it and I'm sure Allon will love it too" she wrote to me when she received the card.
The same customer asked me for a selection of smaller Bar Mitzvah cards, presumably for her son's friends. I created a mix of cards, some simply with the number 13 on them, the age a Jewish boy becomes Bar Mitzvah, and others with a Star of David, a Sefer Torah and tallit prayer shawl.
My favourite design for Bar Mitzvah cards, below centre, shows the tallit, a kippa (skullcap) and a Sefer Torah (a long scroll containing the entire text of the Five Books of Moses: the biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). On the first Sabbath of his thirteenth year the Bar Mitzvah boy is called up to read the weekly portion from the Torah. He wears the tallit and kippa whilst reading, so I included all these elements on the Bar Mitzvah cards.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Sitting on the windowsill

A customer asked me to make a birthday card for her Mummy. She wanted me to show a black cat sitting on a windowsill, looking out on to an English garden. This was a fun and slightly different brief for me, and it was a lovely card to create.  My customer's husband rather liked the end result and messaged me to say "the card you made for P's mother was a real piece of art." That was most appreciated.
The same customer ordered a card from her sons too. This time I was asked to show "Bubbie's" (the name for a Jewish Grandmother) little white sporty car, a patchwork quilt, some flowers... and the same black cat.
Galia was turning 22. Her Mum mentioned hummus (she loves it!), working out, and going to see musicals at the theatre, as suggested themes for her birthday card. She had recently seen Billy Elliot and Les Mis√©rables so I showed thumbnails of their show posters below some red stage curtains. I added a plate of hummus and some pita bread triangles, and placed a blue exercise mat in the foreground. Mum thanked me for the "great card".
Finally, a friend's daughter was celebrating her Bat Mitzvah. Sadly a trip to Perth, Australia was not on the cards for us, so a congratulations card was put in the post instead. From the lovely invitation we had received to the Bat Mitzvah girl's celebration, it was apparent that she is a fan of the colour purple. I created a purple-themed Bat Mitzvah card for her showing her age and wishing her Mazal Tov on the special occasion.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Best of 2016 - Part II

1. Nahal Taninim Nature Reserve  2. Lohamei Hagetaot  3. Ein Afek Nature Reserve  4. Making the Desert Bloom  5. The Monument to the Negev Fighters Brigade  6. The Yehi'am Fortress  7. Be'ersheva  8. The Sharon Coast National Park  9. Cyclamen Hill  10. Tel Aviv's First City Hall

Happy New Year! When I started writing this blog back in 2008 I initially kept it as a blog purely about my papercut art. However, I soon found out that people were interested in reading a little more about me and my life here in Israel. Whilst I still don't write every single detail about myself here, I have opened up to you about my Jewish faith and many of the holidays we celebrate, and I have written about some of the beautiful places I have been fortunate to visit in Israel.
In a week's time I will be marking 22 years in Israel. It is incredible to think that I have spent almost half of my life here. Over the years I have enjoyed seeing and exploring my country, particularly when the kids were younger (they are now teens and less interested in coming out with Mum and Dad). We have been north, we have been south, east and west - though that's not so hard really since the country is so small! Along the way I have developed a knack for searching out off the beaten track places, so much so that rarely a week goes by without me getting a call or WhatsApp message from a friend asking for suggestions about what to do and where to go! I must admit, I quite enjoy my role as an unofficial tour guide.
2016 saw us visiting Be'ersheva in the South and the western Upper Galilee in the North. We went to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, spent a few days on a kibbutz and stayed closer to home to see the Rakefot (Persian Cyclamen) bloom. I have blogged about all of these places and more, but thought it would be fun to pick my top 10 of 2016. So, in no particular order, please click on the names above and enjoy exploring Israel with me!

* This post has been shared on Sunday PleasureBlue Monday, Mosaic MondayMonday's MusingsWordless Wednesday (on Tuesday), Seasons, Our World Tuesday, The Good. The Random. The Fun.Travel TuesdayTuesdays with a Twist, Outdoor Wednesday, Travel Photo Thursday and City Tripping.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Best of 2016 - Part I

1. Amitai and Gavriel  2. Made with Love  3. Gadi  4. Eden  5. Nadav  6. Daniel  7. Jack  8. 18 Years  9. Hanan  10. Richard

This year Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is on Christmas. The first night (Jewish holidays begin at sunset) of the festival fell on Christmas Eve and the first day landed on Christmas Day. Chanukah celebrates the victory of the Maccabee brothers' rebel army over Greek King Antiochus IV during the 2nd century B.C. and the miracle that is said to have occurred when a small quantity of oil lasted for eight days in the rededicated Second Temple. You can read more about the holiday in my blog post here. The first night of Chanukah last fell on Christmas Day in 2005, but Chanukah has overlapped with Christmas or Christmas Eve as recently as 2011 and 2014. So, happy holidays to those of us celebrating Chanukah or Christmas, and best wishes from Israel! Thank you for all the support you have given me and my blogging adventure through another year.

1. Amy's Album  2. Tomer's Album  3. Sam's Album  4. Ethan's Album  5. Yael's Album  6. Elisha's Album  7. Avital's Album  8. Gilad's Album  9. Yonatan's Album  10. Guy's Album

As is common at this time of the year, I thought it would be fun to collect together some of my personal favourites from this past year and show them to you once again. 2016 has been a prolific year for me. I have made customised cards, albums and invitation designs for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, new babies and more. A big thank you to those of you who have commented, liked, shared and bought what you've seen on my blog. Have you spotted your card or album amongst the collections above?
Of course, the biggest thing for my family this year was our youngest son's Bar Mitzvah and you can see all the paper goodies that I made for the event here, as well as the few "tasters" below.

I have also visited some interesting places in Israel, which I have shared with you as an occasional travel post. I'm saving my top 10 favourite places for another time. I have enjoyed composing each and every one of my blog posts, and hope you will continue to visit and enjoy them too in 2017, as I share the coming year's papercut designs and a few more of my adventures in Israel.

Don't forget that you can subscribe to my blog, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Oh, and please pop by my shop now and then to see what is new there.
Wishing you a wonderful, happy and colourful Chanukah, Christmas and New Year, and a safe and exciting start to 2017!

* This post has been shared on Tuesdays with a TwistWordless Wednesday (on Tuesday), Our World TuesdayWednesday around the World, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wordless WednesdaySeasonsLittle Things ThursdayShare Your Cup Thursday and Happiness Is Homemade.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

O Christmas Tree

I live in an area that does not really acknowledge Christmas. I have seen chocolate Santas in a few shops and have heard Christmas pop songs on BBC Radio 2 on the Internet, but otherwise there is very little sign of the holiday over here. The thing is, I quite like Christmas! There wasn't a Jewish school in the city where I grew up, so I went to the local Comprehensive school. There I learnt a fair bit about Christmas in the run up to the holiday, though of course we celebrated Chanukah in our own home. As a result, I find it rather fun to sit at my desk and listen to the Christmas songs I remember from years past (I like to have a good singalong when there's no one home!). I am quite well versed in all my carols too!
I do have a papercut art business and some people, no matter where they live, still need Christmas cards. I personally send my handmade holiday cards to a few friends back in the UK, while other people require cards to send to their clients abroad. After all, they are celebrating Christmas, even if we're not.
This year's cards have brightly coloured Christmas trees on them. It was fun to cut out the simple triangular shape of the tree and add some "twinkling" lights. My trees were not dissimilar to the trees we spotted at the YMCA in Jerusalem, below. I read about a Christmas Holiday Bazaar being held there and was intrigued enough to go and have a look. As it happens the trees were just about the best thing there. I got it right with my cards though. One customer wrote to say "Thank you for the cards. They're perfect - so much nicer than the ones in the shops."
Happy holidays to you all and best wishes from the place where it all began, even if there's no evidence of it on the streets!

Monday, 19 December 2016

After the Fires

Titora Hill, or Giv'at ha-Titura, is a popular archaeological site and beauty spot very near to my home. The original name of the hill, 'Tantara', was adapted in Arabic to 'Tanturah' and the Hebrew to 'Titora' (meaning brim of a hat). I have blogged about it before, herehere and here. During the spring there are over 80 different types of wild flowers on the hilltop. It also has enormous historic value. Evidence has been found which suggests that it may have been inhabited since the Chalcolithic period, between 4,000 and 3,150 BCE. Archaeologists have found artifacts from the First Temple period, whilst further remains indicate that the Hasmoneans lived on the hilltop in about 165 BCE. There is also evidence that it was used as a hideout during the time of Bar Kochba, who died in 135 CE. At the top of the hill the remains of a Crusader fort can be found.
There was little reporting in the English press of a wave of fires in Israel recently. The fires were spread as far south as the Dead Sea area and north to Nahariya. The largest fire occurred in Haifa where 527 apartments were destroyed completely, leaving 1,600 people homeless. Other major fires occurred in the Jerusalem area and there were smaller ones elsewhere, including a fire on Titora Hill. Israeli officials said the fires had been fanned by unusually strong winds and were made worse by a dry atmosphere, but they also said they suspected that many of them had been caused by arson. More than 35 people were arrested on suspicion of setting the fires or inciting to do so.
Mister Handmade in Israel and I went for a stroll on Titora Hill last weekend. Having woken early on the day of the fire from the fire-fighting planes flying right over our home, we were relieved to see that the hill was not as badly burnt as we expected. The main damage covers the area of the Crusader ruins and down the northern edge of the hill. It is thought that larger, faster moving animals could have escaped the fire, but that the smaller, slower crawling creatures would not have had any chance. The question is whether the larger animals will return and only time will tell.
Before the fires, funding had been granted for the clearing of the paths and a general maintenance plan for the hill, to make it more easily accessible and pleasant for walking. There is also a plan for the Israel Antiquities Authority to dig in the area of the Crusader fort. At the moment the consensus seems to be to not do anything after the fire and let nature take its course. There have been fires on the hill most years during the summer and the vegetation has rehabilitated naturally.
More than 4,900 acres of forests, brush land and open space were burnt in Israel during 8 days of fires. The current rains have brought up the first few Sitvanit HaYoreh (Sitvanit from Stav meaning autumn and HaYoreh, the first rain) on Titora Hill, as well as Carcum Horpi (Winter Crocus). I also noticed a fair amount of other greenery poking through the burnt, blackened ground - a sign of renewal and of course hope for better times. We are very lucky to have this wonderful green area on our doorstep. I hope that the entire area will be preserved - and stay free of fire - for many years to come.

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