Monday, 18 February 2019

I Love You

Ever since I created this papercut for Mister Handmade in Israel's 50th birthday, he has been a big fan of that style of art. For Valentine's Day this year I made him this card with the hand lettered message 'I Love You' on it. I cut the card out of white stock and added a red paper inlay.
He loved the card. Oh, and the chocolates that came with it.
Mister Handmade in Israel didn't forget Valentine's Day either. He works in a particularly Orthodox Jewish area of Jerusalem where cards marking Saint Valentine are not readily available, but he recently went to England for a few days to visit his parents and found a cute little card for me whilst there. The flowers arrived on Valentine's Day morning and were very much appreciated!
If you would like to order a papercut "I Love You" card like the one I made for Mister Handmade in Israel, it is available right here in my Etsy shop. The card is perfect for your anniversary, wedding, even for next year's Valentine's Day, or just to tell that special someone how much you care.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Hadera River Park

We had tried to visit the Hadera River Park (Park Nahal Hadera) on a previous occasion but unfortunately found it closed on a day when it should have been open. Unperturbed, we tried again when my dad was last here and this time we were successful! My dad was involved with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in the UK for many, many years so I knew it was a JNF park that he was familiar with and one that he would like to see.
The park is built around the Hadera River which flows for some 50 kilometres through Israel's coastal plain before spilling into the sea to the north of Givat Olga, a neighbourhood in Hadera. Its main tributaries are the Haviva, Yitzhak, Hadera and Iron rivers. With time, extensive development in the surrounding area caused the river to become polluted by effluent flowing from factories and the local sewage plants, and until recent years, the area was a blot on the ecological landscape. However, after the Maor David Power Station (subsequently renamed Orot Yitzhak in memory of Israel's late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) was built on the coast just north of where the river flows into the sea, a decision was taken to rehabilitate its western section. This once polluted meandering trickle has now been transformed into a fine straight river 40 metres wide, banked by a 1.3 km long promenade.
The JNF and the Israel Electric Corporation joined forces and established a development authority for the park. The rehabilitation work involved installing a pipe to channel the warm water beneath the power station on its way to the river. The power station pumps this water from the sea to cool its electricity production units. After use, the water is returned to the sea, about 10 degrees warmer than it had been originally, but otherwise no different from before; no pollution is involved.
Coal ash from the power station was used to construct a 17 metre high ramp on the river's north bank. After construction the ramp was covered with soil and coconut matting and planted with trees and shrubs to keep it stable, prevent erosion and integrate it into the landscape of the park. After stabilisation with stones and concrete, the south bank of the river has been transformed into the promenade. Its centrepiece is Fountain Square, where warm seawater bubbles up into a shallow pool. All along the riverbank fisherman can be observed casting their lines into the water and catching saltwater fish (mainly mullet).
The park includes two eucalyptus groves that were planted in the 1930s to prevent the sand dunes from spreading. Between these two areas, a prehistoric site from the Kebaran period (18,000 years ago) has been discovered. Flint tools were uncovered at the site, together with the bones of animals presumed to be gazelles and fallow deer. The park is also an excellent place to observe water birds such as the common kingfisher, the grey heron, moorhens, mallards and cormorants.
An interesting aside, the four chimneys of the power station are obviously high up but the hot water channelled below attracts about 30-40 grey sharks, mainly female, that stay from November-December to March every year.
As we were leaving the Hadera River Park we noticed a white domed structure in the distance and went to take a closer look. A sign there told us the most amazing story.
"Avshalom Feinberg was born in Gedera in 1889 to his parents Israel (Lulik) and Fanny (nee Belkind), who were founders of Hadera.
He was educated in Palestine and France and was a poet and a man of letters.
In World War I he initiated the establishment of the NILI espionage group. Under the leadership of Aharon Aharonsohn, it aimed to help the British oust the Turkish regime from Palestine.
He was murdered on 20 January 1917, on his way to contact the British command in Egypt.
Fifty years later in 1967, Major Shlomo Ben-Elkana of the IDF found his remains in the Sinai Desert. He was buried in a state funeral in Mount Herzl's military cemetery in Jerusalem.
This memorial, which was planned by architect Benjamin Orell, was built by Avshalom's sisters in 1957. It was originally situated on route no. 4 in Hadera, and transferred to this park in 2011."
Further reading told me that Avshalom Feinberg was one of the leaders of NILI, a Jewish spy network in Ottoman Palestine, helping the British fight the Ottoman Empire during World War I. He was born in Gedera, Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire, and studied in France. He returned to work with Aharon Aharonsohn at the agronomy research station in Atlit. Soon after the beginning of war, the four Aharonsohn siblings (Sarah Aaronsohn, Rivka, Alex, and Aharon) founded the NILI underground along with Feinberg. They were later joined by Yosef Lishansky and others. In 1915 Feinberg travelled to Egypt and made contact with British Naval Intelligence. In 1917, Feinberg again journeyed to Egypt, on foot. He was apparently killed on his way back by a group of Bedouins near the British front in Sinai, close to Rafah. His fate was unknown until after the 1967 Six-Day War when his remains were found under a palm tree that had grown from date seeds in his pocket to mark the spot where he lay.
In 1979 a new Israeli settlement in the Sinai Peninsula, Avshalom, was named after him. Although it was abandoned in 1982 following the Camp David Accords, a new village by the same name was founded in Israel in 1990. In addition, among the many and varied trees on the Mount Herzl military cemetery is one lone palm tree, replanted form its original spot in the Sinai Desert. This is the famous "Palm of Avshalom" under which Avshalom Feinberg's remains were found.
Hefziba Farm was just a short drive from the Hadera River Park. The farm was established on the banks of the Hadera River in 1906 in an area purchased by Yehoshua Hankin. His wife, Olga Hankin, named the site Hefziba, inspired by Isaiah's prophecy: "Nevermore shall you be called 'Forsaken,' nor shall your land be called 'Desolate;' But you shall be called 'I delight in her [Hefziba]" (Isa. 62:4), in the hope that the farm would not be abandoned and would thrive. The founding members of Kibbutz Hefziba, and other pioneers, lived first on the premises of the farm. Citrus fruit was grown there until World War I.
The Israel Electric Corporation purchased the 350 dunam (88 acre) plot in 1992 and restoration work is currently underway, together with the help of the National Council for the Preservation of Buildings and Historic Sites and the Hadera municipality. The farm is being reconstructed to house a historical park that will be a tribute to the early settlement of Israel.
The agricultural site, which now adjoins the busy Haifa-Tel Aviv motorway, was a symbol of efforts to make the desert bloom 100 years ago. It was established in the heart of sand dunes, on the northern coastal plain, among remnants of a forest that once contained Tabor oaks, ancient carobs, fruit orchards and eucalyptus groves. Some of the original buildings from 1906 are still standing, including  the farm manager's home and the old pump house on the riverbank. Beit Hahava (the farmhouse), above, has a sloping tile roof and a large veranda. It was used as the farm's office and as a dining room for the workers. The right wing of the structure was built in European style, while the left wing was built in local Arab style. Beit Hahava now serves as a visitor's centre.
The farm's heyday was in 1912, when it was expanded in response to border conflicts with Arab residents. Eight structures were built that year to house 60 workers who maintained the farm. Natural disasters, an attack of locusts and the ravages of World War I caused the site to be dismantled and finally abandoned in 1929.
The restoration project will be completed in stages over several years, and its tourism facilities are still being developed. A museum featuring the history of the farm and its surroundings is planned.
From the Hefziba Farm, you can walk along the banks of the Hadera River in a westerly direction. Stone markers have recently been placed along the path that goes under a bridge on the motorway. The path leads to a dam, which prevents the polluted waters of the river from reaching the sea. From the dam, you can continue back to the Hadera River Park, where we started our day.

* This post has been shared on Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)Pictorial Tuesday, Our World Tuesday, Tuesday's Treasures, The Keeping It Real Link Up, Travel Tuesday, Tuesdays with a Twist, Nature Notes, My Corner of the WorldWordless Wednesday Blog HopLittle Things ThursdayWeekend ReflectionsAll Seasons and Through My Lens.
Oregon Girl Around the World
Sunday Snap

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Seventy, Sixty

A family friend contacted me some time ago to see if I could make a special card for his mum's upcoming 70th birthday. Mum likes doing paper puzzles, surfing the web for cruises, watching television and being taken out, he told me. She loves chocolate and cake and, like me, is a Hull City A.F.C. supporter. I suggested adding one of my paper portraits to the card and a big number 70 to mark her special birthday.
I have shown mum with a bar of chocolate in one hand and a big slice of cake in the other. On the left of her card I have added a computer with a picture of a cruise ship on the screen, Hull City's current logo, featuring a tiger's head in an amber shield, and a television with Bargain Hunt showing on it. Her son told me that mum likes to watch Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Neighbours and Bargain Hunt! To the right, below the number 70, is a little table piled with treats since she enjoys being taken out, and below that, a small Sudoku and crossword puzzle.
"I got the card this morning. It's great. Thank you." my customer wrote to me, then followed up to tell me that his mum really liked the card.
A book club friend asked me to make a card for her husband's 60th birthday, below. His interests include music, especially the Beatles and playing the guitar. He is originally from Australia, enjoys public speaking and is a guide at Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. She also suggested I add the logo of the company where he works, oh and added that he is a big fan of potatoes and cholent, a traditional "Jewish" stew. It is usually simmered overnight for 12 hours or more, and eaten for lunch on Shabbat (the Sabbath).
I included all these things on his birthday card. You can see the cholent and potatoes to the top left. Below them is a megaphone to represent his love of public speaking. The Yad Vashem logo (Yad Vashem literally means "a monument and a name"), a map of Australia, and a black and white photo of the Beatles follow. From the top right I have added his company logo, a classical guitar and some music notes. A big red number 60 marks his age.
"I never told you how much Michael appreciated the card." my friend later told me.

* This post has been shared on Little Things Thursday, Creatively Crafty Link Party, All Seasons and Creative Mondays.

Sunday, 3 February 2019


My youngest son recently turned sixteen. It seems like only yesterday that his big brother was talking about driving lessons and his Tzav Rishon, or the "First Draft Notice," from the Israeli army, and now it's his younger brother's turn. He too can open his first bank account and will receive his "First Draft Notice" within a few months. He can also learn to drive. I've just about got used to his older brother driving. It can't really be his turn now, can it?
Driving lessons here in Israel are an expensive business! Students are required to take a minimum of 28 lessons with an instructor before they can take the Mivchan Shlita, the practical driving test. Therefore driving lessons were suggested as his birthday present and this year's birthday card simply had to reflect that. I have shown my son holding an Israeli L-plate in one hand. The plate shares the general design of Israeli information signs in its square form and blue background. On the blue background is a white triangle pointing upwards, with the black Hebrew letter "ל" in it, from the Hebrew למידה‎ - "Learning".
In his other hand he is holding his grey MUN folder. MUN, or Model United Nations, is an academic activity in which students can learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations. MUN involves and teaches participants speaking, debating, and writing skills, in addition to critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership abilities. My youngest son, though a bright kid, is not the most serious of students but he really enjoys the MUN conferences. He is even willing to dress the part and will put on a white shirt and tie for the occasion!
Though we are a rather football-obsessed family (Mister Handmade in Israel and my eldest son are Arsenal mad and I have become a rather keen follower of Hull City A.F.C.) my youngest son wasn't so bothered until recently. In the last couple of years his interest in football has grown. Unlike his peers, he has picked differently from the more usual Manchester United or FC Barcelona! His favourite teams are our local Ironi Modi'in F.C. and Hull City A. F. C., so I added the team crests to the card along with a traditional black and white football. Unfortunately his Xiaomi phone had to appear on the card as well. He uses it rather a lot!
On a more positive note, my son is still an avid reader (regular followers of my blog will know that I have added books to many of his birthday cards over the years), so I added his Kindle, his preferred choice for reading these days. The pencils represent the hours he spends drawing in his bedroom.
Finally, he has almost given up on asking us to get him a dog (I know, I know!) and has reverted to begging for a hamster, the pet we used to have when the boys were younger. You can see a tiny little hamster peeking out from under the Israeli L-plate. A big green number 16 marks his age.
Happy Birthday to my creative, smart yet stubborn and rather lazy sixteen year old! We all enjoyed the Agents Escape Room that we did together on your birthday (we escaped in the nick of time with some assistance) and the sushi afterwards was delicious!

* This post has been shared on All Seasons, {nifty thrifty sunday}, Happiness is Homemade, Creative Mondays, The Good. The Random. The Fun., Amaze Me Monday, You're the Star Blog Hop, Made By You Monday, The Keeping It Real Link Up and {wow me} wednesday.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

22nd Birthday Wishes

Arieh's mum asked me to make a card for her son's 22nd birthday. Last year it was all about hamburgers, beer and pizza, but this year she asked for the theme of the card to be cooking, since her son likes to make fancy baguette sandwiches and was receiving a set of good kitchen knives as a birthday present. He is also into the British science fiction television programme Dr. Who and supports the American professional baseball team the Mets, so I included their logo and a baseball bat and ball on the card as well.
"Another stunning piece of artwork! Thank you." Arieh's dad wrote to me.
Emily's auntie sent me a photo of her niece wearing a very specific black crossbody bag and asked me to make a card showing her wearing it. I love getting every little detail just right on my cards so when I noticed that Emily, who was also turning 22, was wearing a letter "E" initial necklace, I included that as well.
"I was just posting Emily's card and I noticed the "E" on her necklace. Your attention to detail is amazing." my customer wrote to me. She then added "Love the card. Thanks so much. The bag is absolutely perfect."

Whilst we are on the subject of cooking in this post, I recently made my boys one of their favourite meals, Shakshouka. An Israeli favourite, it is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and onions, commonly spiced with cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Although the dish has existed in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, its more recent egg and vegetable-based form originated in Tunisia.
The word "Shakshouka" means "a mixture" in Arabic slang. The word is derived from the Arabic verb shakka, meaning "stick together, clump together, adhere or cohere". My efforts, using this recipe, were very well received and quickly devoured. It's a healthy dish that is easy to make, looks good and tastes delicious!
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