Sunday, 30 January 2011

A custom made card, a cake... and a surprise winner!

A good friend asked me to make a baby card for her cousin's new baby.  This particular friend is a very loyal customer - I have made many cards for her family back in Australia - and so is already familiar with the way that I work. She sent me photos of the baby's parents and big sister and, after a few e-mails back and forth, it was decided that I should add some other baby bits to the design, specifically a teddy bear - apparently she is a big fan of my teddy bears! I also had to make sure that the baby's curl was ginger. The new baby is a redhead and so I took great delight in creating that little curl - an intrinsic part of my baby card designs - in a red pen!
The weather is mixed over in Australia at the moment so my friend decided not to send new baby clothes as a gift for the time being. This card was popped in the mail to let her cousins know that she is thinking of them and it seems to have been well received! This is the e-mail they sent her:
"We got your card - it's absolutely awesome! Thanks so much, it's really great."
Another friend recently asked me to make a card for her Dad. There was no particular theme requested so I went with a simple redesign of this card, simplifying it a little as this was a smaller card. In my opinion presents and balloons are perfect for any birthday celebration, regardless of age, so I hope that 'Dad' enjoys his card and the good wishes that come with it.
As you already know, my youngest son recently turned eight. Of course, why have one birthday cake when you can have two? A mummy cake had been requested and a mummy cake is what he got! As cakes go, it was actually one of the simpler ones that I have made. I cut a skull shape out of a piece of paper, then cut round it on a big sheet cake. I iced the whole thing with buttercream then randomly placed strips of fondant on top. It was very sweet but my son and his friends loved it and it disappeared quickly! The little black spider was cut out of paper because, even with two boys in the house, I couldn't find a plastic spider anywhere! This one was far cuter anyway...
Okay, now onto the surprise winner. I've done a giveaway before, and posted in the etsy forums to get people to come to my blog and enter. But here's the thing... most of those people don't come back, and they only post so they can get something free (and who can blame them, right?). Most of you who commented on my last post - my 200th blog post - are faithful readers and commenters, so I wanted to reward one of you. I put the number of commenters into a random number generator and it chose #14.
So...the surprise winner is... Maribeth of Lovely World! Maribeth, I want to send you a package of 'Handmade in Israel' goodies and some extra goodies to give you a little taste of Israel too. Please be in touch with your mailing address.
I plan to do more giveaways in the future. If you're a silent lurker, now's the time to speak up!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Matayim - Two Hundred

Matayim. The Hebrew word for 200 and also the number of posts that I have written to date! That's a lot of writing! When I first started blogging I really didn't know how long I'd keep it up. However, I have discovered a real love of writing and I always look forward to putting together a new post. I enjoy explaining the background behind the designs on my cards and, since I passed the 100 posts mark, I have added quite a number of posts all about Israel, the Jewish festivals we celebrate and some of the magnificent places we have explored here. You've been shown photos of a little baking here and there, birthday celebrations in our home and you've seen new products added to my range, especially my customised albums, which I LOVE creating.
I started blogging because I wanted to share my work online and, with regular new designs and customised pieces, a blog seemed the perfect way to share my artwork. Along the way I seem to have become part of a great crafty community and have met some wonderful folk online.
Thanks to everyone who visits here, especially to those of you who take the time to comment. Please continue to drop by my little corner of the internet.
Lisa x

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Eight

It's birthday time once again in our household. Today my youngest son turned 8 and we had a relatively early start to the day so that we could sing 'Happy Birthday', eat cake (it's never too early for birthday cake!) and open a few presents. He is thrilled with his new darbuka drum, his snuggly new dressing gown with his name on it, his subscription to NG Kids magazine and his MP3 player from Mummy and Daddy. However, most importantly, he was also pleased to receive the birthday card made especially for him by Mummy!
Football is THE sport in our house but my youngest has his own ideas and his passion is for the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do. He has a yellow belt with two very important stripes on it and the design on the card shows him in action, wearing his white suit and the aforementioned belt.
My son is a big reader. He goes through piles and piles of books and always has a few on the go at the same time. He loves to read scary books, anything by Michael Morpurgo and has just finished his big brother's set of  Percy Jackson books. The little pile of books on his card probably took me longer to make than anything else but there had to be a pile of books there - books are an important part of his life at the moment and I dearly hope that it stays that way.
Another passion is for drawing. He draws all the time. Always pencil sketches with only a little colour in them so as "not to ruin it".  Apparently the drawing on top of the pile of papers on the card is not like one that he has done but, hey, I tried!
The very scary looking 'Weeping Angel'  in the top right hand corner had to be included because of his current interest in the long-running BBC television science-fiction series Doctor Who and, on a gentler note, the much-loved 'Mocca' the guinea pig popped in too!
Happy Birthday to my funny, smart and slightly crazy 8 year old. You look just like your Daddy but you act a lot like me. Let's just say that we definitely share that creative, artisitic temperament at the moment...

Thursday, 13 January 2011

A Girls' Night Out

Last week my friend L. celebrated her birthday and a girls' night out was organised for the occasion. Of course a gift was the order of the day too but L. wants to get her car resprayed, so a collection was made towards that, rather than the more usual gift or pampering treat. I was rather dismayed by her wish but agreed to join in since that is what she had asked for. However, since I was in charge of bringing a birthday card along for all the girls to sign, I insisted that it had to be super, super girly to counteract the rather masculine present that she had requested!
So, girly the card was and I thoroughly enjoyed going a little overboard crafting a sweet little bird, flowers and balloons in a pretty colour scheme of pinks, lemons and turquoises. I was rather pleased with the result and decided to recreate it and pop it into my shop. It is one of my larger cards, measuring 15cm x 20cm folded and, unlike the card in these photos, I have left it without a greeting so that it can be used for any occasion. This pretty card is perfect for Valentine's Day, an anniversary, birthday or just to tell someone how much you care.

Monday, 10 January 2011

The Museum of The Underground Prisoner

During the Chanukah break I took the kids to another fascinating place that I'd like to tell you about. Okay, so I am a little bit late posting these pictures, but it was really very interesting and definitely worth a short write-up here.
The Museum of The Underground Prisoner is hidden away in the Russian Compound, one of the oldest districts in central Jerusalem. The long, low stone building was initially constructed in the 1800's as lodging for Russian women. During the period of the British Mandate it was converted into a prison for those deemed a threat by the Mandatory government, particularly members of the pre-state Jewish underground militias – the Hagana, the Irgun (also know as the Etzel group) and the Lechi – who were imprisoned for crimes ranging from helping to smuggle in Jewish immigrants from Nazi Europe to terror and assassinations.
The prison's most famous episode came when Meir Feinstein and Moshe Barazani, two underground fighters sentenced to death, blew themselves up with grenades hidden in oranges rather than ascend the gallows. Their cell has been preserved exactly the way it was. Other former cells contain original artifacts and documents detailing life behind bars in the Mandate. We saw the restored bakery, once used by Russian pilgrims and later the place where prisoners baked pita; the storeroom where you handed in your civilian clothes and were given prison garb and "Room 23", the cell which prisoners decided to use for an escape attempt.
The piece of history that I have just described here all sounds extremely violent and a little scary. However my boys, being boys, found it all fascinating and handled it well. In fact I was pleasantly surprised to discover exactly how much my eldest son actually knows about the events of the time. He has learnt some things at school and a bit more from a wonderful Hebrew story book from the series Minheret Hazman, all about two kids who travel through time and witness many historical events in Israeli history.
All in all it was a great afternoon out. It was part scary, part exciting and pretty educational too.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Birthdays and Tiffin

My good friend Julie recently celebrated her 40th birthday (sorry for telling everyone Julie but there was no hiding it - it says so clearly on the card!). It was a little daunting giving such a talented person something handmade but I bit the bullet and made her her own special card. I've made cards similar to this particular design before but this one was a little different because I decided to stick to a palette of browns, pinks and creams. It was an interesting experiment and I quite liked what I came up with. Julie seemed pleased with it too, though of course it's possible that she was just being polite!
Moving on from a very girlie card to one for a young man. My lovely friend in India who ordered cards for all the boys in her family last year has now started the ball rolling with this year's birthday cards. Her 10 year old son has grown his hair since last year, so I showed him with a shaggy look. He enjoys reading the Bone books and loves everything about the FIFA World Cup. When my friend e-mailed to tell me that the card had arrived she asked if my eldest had helped me choose the correct World Cup football. I explained to her that I am so surrounded by football supporters in this house that I no longer need any help with anything related to that sport!
My mouth is watering just looking at this photo! I've made way too much of this Cranberry and Pecan Tiffin lately but it is just so easy to make and tastes absolutely wonderful! I have made Tiffin cake before but this variation, with the crunchy pecan nuts and sharp cranberries, is just delicious! Pop over to Attic 24's gorgeous blog right now and you will find the recipe right here. If you decide to have a go at the recipe yourselves, in Israel digestive biscuits can be bought in the food market of that well known Swedish home products retailer that we all know and love. For those of you in the US, you can substitute with Graham Crackers.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Until 120

Happy New Year! Looking back, 2010 was a pretty productive year for me and I hope that this year will continue in much the same way. The last couple of weeks have been quiet ones yet it has given me the opportunity to catch up a little, tweak my online pages and refill my boxes of cards. A few orders here and there have now begun to trickle in and I anticipate more.
We all have goals for 2011. One of my main ones is to develop my Etsy shop further. At the moment it serves as a wonderful online gallery but thank goodness the sales there are not representative of my overall yearly sales! Maybe this year I will be able to change that a little. I'd love to widen my audience and send 'Handmade in Israel' artwork all over the world! Stay tuned.
The cards above were actually being sent a little further afield. One of my local customers was travelling to the UK over the Christmas period so, before she went away, put in her order for family birthday and anniversary cards for December and January. Some of these are staying in Israel and quite a few of them travelled with her to the UK. I created cards for a variety of ages here and hope that they were all well received.
I don't make many of these cards! In fact I think that only once previously have I been asked to make a card for a 100th birthday! Listening to a piece on the BBC World Service the other day I learned about a report from the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK that said one in six people in Britain will live to celebrate their 100th birthday. Improved diets, living conditions and medical technology are driving the dramatic demographic transformation, so it looks like I may be making more 100th birthday cards in the future!
"Auntie Rae" (who I am pretty confident is not an online blog reader so I feel comfortable, just for once, naming her here!) is a very talented artist and, I am told, in years gone by has painted some beautiful landscapes and intricate floral paintings. I do hope that she liked the special card that was requested for her. I decorated it with a small box of watercolour paints, a  few brushes and paintings and of course, the special age that she has reached, in big silver numbers! Many congratulations and, as the Hebrew expression goes, "ad meah viesrim", (until 120).
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