Sunday, 28 June 2009

Nachal Amud

This last weekend we hiked with a group of friends up in the north of the country, in the beautiful setting of Nachal Amud, or The Amud Stream, near Safed. We walked along the flowing stream in the shade of Mediterranean trees, hedges of sabra (prickly pear cactus) and olive, fig and mulberry trees. The views were beautiful and, after clambering down the hillside, all the kids had enormous fun cooling off and splashing in the clear, refreshing water.
The walk was relatively easy, putting aside the climb down and then of course up again, and the scenery stunning. I'll be happy to return one day and enjoy much more of this beautiful area.
On the crafty front, I have been working on an idea for paper crafted embellishments for notebooks, which is in the early stages. This little cupcake, or bun, as I called it growing up in England, below is a new design, and one which may well go on a notebook and some handmade cards too.

Thursday, 25 June 2009


We are celebrating another birthday in our household. Today it's my husband's turn to receive some presents, and of course, a personalised birthday card made by his wife! I hasten to add that this is not the most flattering image of my other half, with his glasses and bald head, but he appreciated the card all the same and the boys were thrilled to see themselves featured as well. I have shown, top left, our youngest son with his favourite sock puppet which he is always asking Daddy to make up a story with, and, on the right, our eldest boy, who is football mad and loves a kick about in the garden with Daddy. Daddy in the meantime is shown trying to read the newspaper... though he has got a smile on his face and we all know that he is secretly flattered to be wanted all the time!
Of course birthdays also mean birthday cake, of which we all had a little taste for breakfast. The little Arsenal football player candles now have no heads after we lit them and sang Happy Birthday in English and then Hebrew, but there are a few slices of cake left to enjoy later in the day.
Happy Birthday to my dear hubby. I hope you have a wonderful day and a great year ahead... and yes, sorry for telling the whole world how old you are!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Cards For The Boys

I seem to be creating more and more cards 'for the boys' lately and am not so stuck for ideas as I once might have been. The card above was for a 70th birthday celebrated last week. I was asked to create a card for a gentleman who is a keen gardener and so garden tools seemed the obvious choice to illustrate his favourite pastime. This particular card came together very easily and is simple but, I hope, effective.
Last month I was excited to tell you that I has been contacted by someone who had seen these cards online. He wanted to know if I would be interested in producing a large quantity of handmade cards featuring various football team strips, to be sold in his online store. I mentioned in a previous post that I had been busy creating the paper shirts. I am now happy to show you the finished cards, which have been delivered and well received. The photograph below gives an idea of the quantity I made. The online store has not yet gone live, but is called Flatbackfour and will be selling bespoke football shirt designs and other football related items. It was fun to make the cards and a pleasure working with the company.Yesterday some friends came over for lunch and I decided to have a go at making Chocolate Tiffin Cake, a recipe I discovered some time ago on Simmy's Echoes of a Dream blog. It was extremely quick and easy to make and tasted delicious. Actually, a little too delicious... I ate two more pieces with my cup of coffee this morning!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Cars, Sweet Sixteen and the Cheesecake Recipe

A friend of mine had a run-in with another vehicle and her car was left in a bad way. Apparently the guys at the local garage she dealt with were amazing and so she asked me to create a thank you card especially for them. She drives a white Mazda so requested that I illustrate her car, along with a picture of a happy, smiling car mechanic. This was a sweet, simple card to create and, according to my friend, they loved it at the garage. The Hebrew greeting on the card says 'Toda', thank you. I can also show you a 'Sweet 16' card that I created last week because I know that the birthday has now passed. The birthday girl plays the guitar and is very involved in the 'Tzofim' (Scouts) here in Israel, whose badge you can see on the left hand side of the card. I was also asked to emphasize the age '16'. My husband was the delivery boy for this card and reported back that mum was happy with it, and I hope that the birthday girl liked it too.
Last month I wrote about the Jewish festival of Shavuot and showed you a photo of the delicious cheesecake I had made. A few of you wrote to me and requested the recipe, so, courtesy of the charity cookbook 'Modi'in Cuisine', I am happy to tell you how to make 'The Best Cheesecake Recipe Ever':

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
200g butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon flour
Combine and press firmly into the bottom of a 10-inch (25cm) springform pan.
16 oz (450g) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 lemon, juice and pulp
Blend all filling ingredients together until smooth. Pour onto crust and bake at 185° C / 365° F for 25 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
1 pint sour cream
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Reheat oven to 185° C/ 365°F. Blend topping ingredients well and pour on top of cooled cake. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
Optional: sprinkle lightly with more cookie crumbs.
Chill in refridgerator for at least 12 hours.

Bon appétit, or b'tayavon as we say in Hebrew!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

A Jewish Wedding

Some time ago I was asked to create a special wedding card for a couple who were to be married here in Israel. I know that the wedding was due to take place around the beginning of this month, so I am sure that the card has been delivered by now and that I am able to show it here on my blog.
I have tried to include a few symbolic elements in this card. The couple are dati (religious) and I hope that my illustration is meaningful to them.
In many Jewish weddings two candles are carried to escort the bride and groom to the wedding canopy, so I have shown two candlesticks and the white canopy, or chuppah, on my card. The numerical value for the Hebrew word candle (nair) has the same value as the biblical phrase in Genesis "Be fruitful and multiply." The chuppah symbolizes the new Jewish home that the couple create together. Below the candlesticks are pomegranates, or rimon fruits. Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness, because it is said to have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah. It is also a symbol of fruitfulness. Finally, I added a white dove, the sign for peace, in the home, in the heart and in the world. The bird is represented in flight to remind us of its role as messenger.
The Hebrew greeting on the card says 'Mazal Tov (congratulations), love and lots of kisses on your marriage'.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The package arrived...

Last month I was very happy to be celebrating one whole year of blogging and invited you all to tell me what your favourite 'Handmade in Israel' item was in my Etsy shop to be eligible for an entry into a prize draw. The lucky winner of the draw was Leslie and, since she had left a comment telling me that my little dog papercut picture was her favourite item in my shop, I decided to make another one especially for her. Leslie let me know a couple of days ago that the package I had mailed her had arrived, and so I am now able to show you what I sent.
Whilst I had of course promised some 'Handmade in Israel' artwork and handmade greetings cards, I also wanted to send the winner a little taste of Israel. Above you can see the papercut picture and cards that Leslie received, along with a beautifully illustrated childrens book about a little bear, some cute wooden camels and animal embellishments, an 'Israel' magnet for her fridge door and, of course, some yummy Israeli chocolate.
Leslie tells me that her children love looking at the book, and that she loves the dog paper art, which will go into her son's room. She is also very pleased with the cards, but seems unsure if she'll be able to use them because she thinks that she won't want to give them away!
I am delighted that my giveaway seems to have been such a success and look forward to having many other good reasons to run another one. In the meantime, please keep commenting. I am always delighted to hear from you, and if anyone would like their own 'Handmade in Israel' artwork or some handmade greetings cards, please pop over here for a look around.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The Best Cheesecake Recipe Ever

Last week we celebrated the festival of Shavuot, or the Festival of Weeks, which commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. Shavuot is also connected to the season of the grain harvest in Israel and is the holiday when dairy foods such as cheesecake are traditionally served. Every year for the last few years I have made 'The Best Cheesecake Recipe Ever', a recipe that I discovered in a charity cookbook put together some years ago by a woman in my community, and to which I contributed a recipe or two. It really is a delicious cake and always leaves me wondering why I don't make cheesecake on other times of the year!
I recently delivered some new baby and kids birthday cards to a local baby store. Here you can see some of my little clown birthday cards in the making and, below, the box of cards in all it's glory before it was delivered. I hope that the cards sell well. They were fun to make and, as I have mentioned before, those little round baby faces always bring a smile to my face as I create them.Finally, I was very pleased to receive the 'One Lovely Blog Award' from both Linda B's Jewelry Designs and Naturally Comfy. I think that both Linda and Donna are relatively new readers of my blog and I am delighted that they are enjoying it and am honored to receive the award from them both. Thank you girls.