Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Northern Exposure

My husband and I are both originally from the UK and our families still live there. Consequently, most summer holidays we fly back to visit everyone. This summer was different. This summer we had the the long two month school holiday, or the Hofesh Hagadol as it is known here (literally meaning "the big holiday"), to spend here in Israel, and goodness, we have made the most of it!
We have been all the way to Eilat, Israel's southernmost city. We have been to the zoo, and to the beach and swimming pool. This last week we headed north and spent a few days with good friends rafting, hiking and swimming in the beautiful surroundings of northern Israel.
The photos above show you a few of the gorgeous spots we visited. We hiked along the Peak Trail (or 'Shvil Hapisgah' in Hebrew) of Mount Meron, in the Upper Galilee. Most of the trail is in the forest thicket and therefore in the shade, and the views were magnificent. We walked through the oak trees of the Bar'am Forest, and got a thorough soaking rafting on the Jordan River. The highlight for me was a morning spent swimming and collecting shells in the warm waters of Lake Kinneret, or The Sea of Galilee.
Tomorrow we have one more day trip planned - to the City of David, Jerusalem - and then it is countdown until school begins. What a great summer we have had!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Rosh Hashanah 5770

We have been away again for a few days, the last short trip of the school holidays, and I have some gorgeous photographs to show you of parts of northern Israel, including Lake Kinneret, or The Sea of Galilee, and The Jordan River. These, however, will wait till my next post as I want to remind you that Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, falls on September 19-20 this year, and is therefore rapidly approaching.
The festival is full of special symbols and customs. On Rosh Hashanah we eat apples dipped in honey. The apples remind us of the roundness of the year and express our hope that the coming year will be fruitful. The honey represents the wish for a sweet year. Pomegranates are also an important symbol. The 613 seeds of the pomegranate represent the number of good deeds which we have tried to do over the past year and should do during the new year.
Here at 'Handmade in Israel' I have been preparing some cards showing all these special symbols and they are available in my shop now. They come in a set of five. Each card is hand cut and no two cards are exactly the same.
Rosh Hashanah is a great time to catch up with friends and relatives and let them know about all your news and any upcoming events, so please drop by to order some cards now.

Monday, 17 August 2009

A Special Aunt

My immediate family is very small and spread all over the world. My father is in the UK, and my one and only Aunt lives in Arizona, USA. I have mentioned my Aunt before, when she ordered some cards for some special birthdays here. Well, this time it was her turn to celebrate and so a custom-made card was crafted to honor the occasion.
Her birthday has passed now and I know that she was very pleased with the card I made for her. I depicted her four cherished grandchildren - two girls and two boys - and illustrated the desert landscape of Arizona, with its cactuses and mountains, which my Aunt and Uncle love to hike in. Finally, I added some little illustrations of London and Paris, two cities where my Aunt studied, and of Chicago, where she spent most of her married life and where her children, my cousins, grew up.
I do not see my American family very often. Israel is a long way away! However, my Aunt and I are in contact often and, although we obviously could not be with her on her special birthday, I hope that this card let her to know that we were thinking of her and wishing her all the very best on the day.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Summer of Animal Love

We've all heard of The Summer of Love. Well, my summer is turning out to be The Summer of Animal Love! Every holiday photo that I post here seems to be animal related, but then I guess that happens when you have two boys who love animals, and are greatly encouraged by Mum and Dad! Israel is full of ancient sites and historical buildings, and we of course have visited many of those places over the years, but the boys at the moment love their animals, and that is fine by me.
This week we had another family day out, based around a prearranged tour of the Yediot Acharonot newspaper printing works in the city of Rishon LeZion, the fourth-largest city in Israel. The boys were underwhelmed by the idea of the trip but in the end found it quite interesting and were fascinated by the "giant machines" printing 21 tabloid newspapers per second! Though we were not allowed to take photos inside the printing works, the photo in the centre of my mosaic shows some of the newspaper's title on a flag outside. I thought you might find the Hebrew lettering interesting.
After our tour we headed straight to Hai-Kef, a modest zoo in Rishon which is home to a variety of rare animals. There was no petting corner this time, but the boys enjoyed watching the big animals and laughing at the cheeky little squirrels and meerkats.
We finished off the day eating pizza at our local takeaway and all agreed that it had been another great summer holiday day out.I recently told you of a friend who had given birth to her first girl after three boys. You can see the card that I made for her, above, showing her boys doting on their new little sister. My friend and her husband were both thrilled with the card and said that the boys had had great fun discussing who was who. Their little sister seems to be settling in nicely and I hope that they continue to dote on her as much as I have shown them doing on the card!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Run rabbit - run rabbit - Run! Run! Run!

A very dear friend of mine, who is currently living abroad for a couple of years, visited Israel for a few weeks this summer and she wanted to purchase a few of my papercut pictures to decorate her kids bedrooms back in their 'temporary' home. Her boys each have their favourite animal. A little dog was quickly chosen, and a request put in for a cat. Her eldest son really wanted a rabbit, an animal which, for some strange reason, I had not illustrated before, though it did not pose a problem to me.
A few rough sketches later, I came up with a picture that my own boys love! I thought it would be interesting to show you the sketches I made and how I break the image down into simple shapes to make a papercut picture. I tried a few different poses and, wanting to veer away from it being too 'cute', I settled on the little sketch of a rabbit with a big bushy tail.
Below you can see the finished piece, before it was framed. My friends kids were delighted with their pictures, and I am thrilled to know that some of my work is going to be hanging on a bedroom wall in India!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Audrey's Country Crafts

Back in June I was thrilled to receive an e-mail from Audrey at Audrey's Country Crafts telling me that for the month of August she intended to feature shops from around the world, and asking me whether I would be interested in a feature. You bet I was! I spent some time thinking about the questions Audrey sent me, and I am pleased to let you know that today I have been featured! Please pop over to her site (or click on the button below). I hope that you will be interested to read a little about me, my work and my inspirations. Thank you, Audrey. Happy reading!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Eilat

Holidays have a magical effect on me. We were only away for five days, including the long five hour drive south and back again, yet, as you can probably see from my photos, we had a wonderful time in Eilat. We swam, we played, and we ate well... all the right ingredients for a good break, right?
Eilat is Israel's southernmost city, a busy port as well as a popular resort, located at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Eilat. For various reasons we have not visited there for almost nine years, but the drive down was made easy with a break at Makhtesh Ramon, or the Ramon Crater, a spectacular 40 km long and 2-10 km wide geological feature of Israel's Negev desert. The ibex were happy to see us and came over to our car to say hello, and it made a great start to our little trip.
In Eilat itself we visited the Underwater Observatory Marine Park, which lets you enjoy the wonders of the Red Sea as if it were an aquarium. A first for me, I could have watched the dolphins for hours at the spectacular Dolphin Reef, where a group of “bottlenose” dolphins, including babies born at the site, maintain their daily routine of hunting, playing, courting and socializing. The kids let off steam at Kings City. We ate out every night, and there was no cooking or washing-up to be done!
Now it's back to routine and another month to go of school holidays. The kids returned to their swimming lessons today, refreshed and excited to show off their new skills. I have various cards to create, including a new baby card for a friend who gave birth to her first girl after three boys whilst we were away, but the fun and adventure of Eilat will keep me inspired for some time to come.
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