Saturday, 30 April 2011

Jerusalem of Gold

Yikes! Time has slipped away and it has been some time since I posted here. I hope you all still remember me! Our Passover holiday was as hectic, fun and time consuming as I expected and we have had a wonderful family week together. It was one of those holidays when everything we did was simply great! The Seder was a lot of work but 'alright on the night' and the week that followed, Chol Hamoed (weekdays of the festival), allowed us the time to relax and enjoy ourselves after all the preparations.
I'll let the photos speak for themselves. Please sit back and enjoy my latest 'tour' around some great sights of Israel!
We spent two separate days in Jerusalem, our first day in the modern 'new' city, visiting friends on holiday here from the UK, and then another day was spent first abseiling down the cliffs of Gei Ben-Hinnom (Valley of the son of Hinnom) - well, my daredevil sons did the abseiling, not me - and then we walked into the Old City. As we wandered along we realised that it was in fact Good Friday so, rather than heading directly into the Jewish Quarter as we had planned, we decided to follow the crowds (and goodness, do I mean crowds!) down the shuk (the Arab market) into the Christian Quarter, to do a little people watching at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
It was truly fascinating watching the devout men and women carrying huge wooden crosses towards the church and it was just as interesting visiting the Kotel, the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter, a place where I could truly stand and stare all day. Prayers were popped into the wall (let's see if the right footie team wins this weekend!) and all agreed that it had been a thoroughly good day!
Further day trips saw us visiting the beautiful city of Jaffa and a stunning flower festival in Ra'anana. I promise to show you pictures in my next post. In the meantime I am going to sign off from this post with a photo taken in the Wohl Rose Garden in Jerusalem (below). On Chol Hamoed many members of the religious community wear their best clothes - Shabbat clothes - during the entire week in honour of the holiday. The Rose Garden, situated in West Jerusalem, was obviously a popular location for many religious families and crowds of them were there when we visited, picnicking and playing ball games in their fineries. My husband spotted this tree guard being used as a clothes rack for an Orthodox Jewish man's black hat and jacket, right in the middle of the park, and I was delighted to get a shot of it.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Chag Sameach, Happy Passover

After much preparation Passover has finally arrived! My home has been cleaned from top to bottom. I have switched all the utensils and pots and pans for ones that we only use during the holiday. Dad has arrived from the UK and the kids are home from school. Tomorrow morning we will check that our home is chametz free and tomorrow night we will sit down with family and friends to celebrate the Seder. The feast marks the beginning of the Passover holiday and we will continue to celebrate for seven days. I have lots planned and will probably be away from here for a little while. Please keep checking in for photos of our latest Israel adventures. I hope there will be plenty to show you!
A new customer decided my cards were the perfect gift for her friends and family celebrating the holiday. She set me to work on some extremely detailed cards which took me quite some time to create I can tell you! However, she seemed delighted with the end results and I hope that all the people receiving the cards will appreciate her incredible attention to detail.
The Seder tables have been laid as she stipulated. I hope that the vases of flowers and napkins are in the right places. The card at the top of this post had to show an older couple, the woman with her right arm broken and in a sling, and the man peeling an apple in one long snake.The middle card shows 'Mum', so exhausted from all the preparations that she has fallen asleep with her face in a bowl of soup! Above, the card shows Grandma and Grandpa at a beautifully set Passover table. Grandma is busy with her sewing machine and Grandpa had to be shown playing cards. The bowls are full of chicken soup and knaidelach, a type of dumpling added to soups or stews and a Passover favourite!
'Chag Pesach Sameach', a happy Passover festival, to all celebrating. Enjoy the Seder and have a wonderful time with your friends, family and loved ones.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Frogs here, frogs there

Last week I was busy finishing off a bunch of customised card orders before the forthcoming holiday and now it is all systems go in our house as we count down to Passover. I thought I'd show you a little cross stitch design that I recently completed and actually now realise that it fits in very nicely with the current theme of Passover since frogs were the second of the ten plagues that God brought upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, to persuade Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt.
I'll be honest, in reality this little frog doesn't really have too much to do with Passover or plagues. I used to embroider quite a bit as a young girl. My Mum created some beautiful embroidery over the years and she encouraged me to sit with her and have a go too. Time passed and I did it less and less but recently, whilst showing my own boys how to sew on plastic canvases, I dug out this little kit that has been in my sewing box for years and decided to try again.
The result is no great work of art. I don't think there are any mistakes in there, though the experts amongst you might spot one or two! However, I'm pleased to report that I really enjoyed creating something with a needle and thread again and found it relaxing to sit and stitch a little at the end of the day. At the moment there is too much going on with Seder preparations and lots of cleaning and cooking to do but, who knows, maybe after Passover I might get the urge to create something more than a little green frog!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Probably the best cupcakes in the world

With Passover creeping up on us, I recently had one last session of baking before the holiday. I made these Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes for the first time and now believe that they are the best cupcakes in the world! They were moist and creamy and full of flavour. The cream cheese mixture was so tasty and the chocolate delicious without being too sweet. I loved these cupcakes, and so did everyone in my family. I will certainly be making another batch after the holiday. In the meantime I shall be switching over to 'unleavened' baking soon, which is of course a little different but can be equally delicious.
I have made various different versions of the anniversary card below since coming up with the original design a couple of weeks ago. A customer asked me for something "pretty and English" for her in-laws' wedding anniversary and a bouquet of flowers seemed to fit the bill nicely. I have re-created it in other colour combinations - yellows and golds for a Golden Wedding couple celebrating 50 years of marriage, and pale pinks and lemons for a younger couple - and have been happy with the results. As only someone who loves playing with paper could, I enjoy layering the flowers and tweaking the arrangement of the leaves each time.