Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A Pint in The Queen Vic

When I lived in the UK, watching the Christmas Day edition of the soap opera Eastenders was a big thing. From what I hear, the program is still pretty popular - I was more of a Brookside girl myself -  and therefore I am sure that this lady, who recently celebrated her birthday, was eagerly awaiting the Christmas Day program. Her husband asked me to make a special card for her birthday and said that this year's theme HAD to be Eastenders. I get the impression that she's pretty keen on the soap opera and the residents of Albert Square!
I have shown the birthday girl - who is indeed as slim as I have shown her - with a celebratory glass of wine in hand, in front of the Eastenders map and signs for The Queen Vic Pub and Albert Square. There are a couple of pints nearby. Whenever I have seen the soap opera, the main characters always seem to be in the Queen Vic, supping a pint or two! I took a guess that our birthday girl probably prefers a nice glass of red to a pint.
A regular customer of mine required a card for a 50th birthday (above). I was asked to show a lady with short black hair and blue eyes, surrounded by her four children. She is a caterer, so a peeler, knives, pots and pans were the order of the day. My customer sent me a photo of the family and I was able to try and match their various 'looks'. I am not sure that I have created exact portraits but hope that the birthday girl enjoyed the card all the same!
This card was an order from a new customer. She was looking for a special card for her daughter's forthcoming 40th birthday and had been told by a friend that I could make a customised one for her. She wanted a card that would illustrate her daughter's interest in make-up artistry. With such a straightforward brief it was simple to come up with an image showing various types of make-up: brushes, lipsticks, eyeshadow and a couple bottles of nail varnish too.
In a few days time we will be celebrating the start of a new year. Once again, many, many thanks to those of you who have visited my blog this the year. I have enjoyed composing each and every one of my posts, and am always delighted with the encouraging comments and support that I receive. I wish you all a very Happy New Year and a safe and exciting start to 2012.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Holidays

Chanukah is turning out pretty well. The hubby is at work (it's not a holiday which requires time off) but the kids are home from school and we don't have too much planned for a change. Aside from lighting the candles each evening and dealing out small gifts to the kids, we've been eating well - Chanukah is the best holiday for food - sleeping quite late and I have a couple of interesting activities lined up for next week, but not too many!
Chanukah celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when a small group of Jews called Maccabees rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory over the Greek Syrians. Fried foods like latkes (potato pancakes) and jam-filled doughnuts are traditional treats because they are cooked in oil and remind us of the miracle of the holiday. Thus, the first night of the holiday saw me making some of the aforementioned latkes. They were a great success!
We celebrate the holiday for eight days altogether. This year Chanukah overlaps with Christmas so, all that remains is for me to wish you Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Best wishes from Israel,
Lisa x
Sufganiyot (doughnuts) for sale at my local shopping mall (above).

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Jade's Bat Mitzvah

The reason we were in London just now - two weeks before the kids broke up from school for the Chanukah holidays, and not actually during the school holidays - was to celebrate our niece's Bat Mitzvah. December 10th was the date that had been chosen to celebrate it on, so that was the date we were there! I hinted in a previous post that there was another creation to show you, aside from the artwork I made for her invitations and here it is. A customised album of course!
After a little discussion, it was decided that the cover of the album should show the same image as her invitations, which I have already blogged about here. I rarely repeat a design in this way, so it was a little strange for me to be re-drawing everything again, using the very same papers and colours. I changed the wording slightly on the album to include the date of her Bat Mitzvah ceremony in the synagogue, her name and the words Bat Mitzvah in Hebrew.
My sister-in-law gave me a few more themes to work with for the inside pages. I had already included my niece's love of reading, fashion design, drawing and facebooking on her iPod Touch on the cover. Along with these interests, I learnt that she loves sushi (don't we all?), drinking hot chocolate and reading a particular style magazine. I added her High School badge too.
When we arrived in London I was thrilled to discover that my sister and brother in law had used my artwork on several things. I was shown the postcard sized thank you cards and the benchers. (Bencher is the most common word used for the Jewish book of Grace after Meals. The word Bencher originates from the Yiddish language. Literally translated the word bencher means "Blesser".)
The Bat Mitzvah party had a purple theme - purple had been suggested for my niece's t-shirt when I had asked what her favourite colour was - and my design blended in beautifully! You can see the postcards being used as table decorations, below, and the Grace after Meals booklets in the background.
My brother in law thanked me for my artwork in his short speech and I am happy to say that I received many, many compliments throughout the evening.
* Tonight we light the first candle on our Chanukiah, the nine-branched candelabra which is used during the festival of Chanukah, and the eight-day holiday, the Festival of Lights, will begin. I recently wrote all about the holiday here. Please hop on over and learn a little bit about Chanukah and the reasons why the Jewish people celebrate it.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

London Bound

So our whirlwind five day trip to the UK has been and gone. The kids are back in school for a few more days until the Chanukah break begins and everything is pretty much back to normal. We have lots of great memories though - we squeezed a lot into those precious few days!
After a little shopping for us, a theatre trip for the kids and the obligatory fish and chips meal out, one of our first stops was at Wembley National Stadium. My oldest son is a huge football fan and, while his younger brother and Dad hopped off to visit The Doctor Who Experience at Olympia (such is life when you have two boys!), we toured that special stadium and viewed some sacred shirts in the changing rooms.
The hubby and I treated ourselves to a show and saw the very wonderful Backbeat, the story of how the Beatles ‘became’ the Beatles – when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe embarked on their journey from the docks of Liverpool to search for success in the seedy red light district of Hamburg. It was one of the most incredible two hours of West End theatre I have ever sat (and danced) through, helped somewhat by the cocktails we had treated ourselves to before the performance began. The kids were at home having fun with their cousins. It's nice to be grown-up once in a while!
We toured 'Eccentric London' on a delightful walking tour, spotting some odd things and quite unexpected delights along the way. Our guide showed us the alleyway now made famous as Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films. We learned the mystery of the lions' paws in Trafalgar Square and heard the rather gory history of a bookshop near Leicester Square. I am not a native Londoner myself but the hubby is and he declared that he had learnt a great deal in those two hours about places he had passed many, many times in his life.
The kids were complaining about the cold - it was very cold - but we had yet more to show them. Christmas completely passes us by here in Israel, and especially in the Jewish city that we live in, so we wanted to show them a little bit of what all the excitement is about. Crossing the Hungerford Bridge to the South Bank, we spent some time wandering around a traditional Christmas market along the side of the River Thames. Listening to the carols and eyeing up all the beautiful decorations in the German style wooden chalets was so much fun. We even purchased a small packet of hot roasted chestnuts which the hubby remembered his Dad roasting on a fire when he was a child. They were wonderful!
The weekend was spent celebrating my niece's Bat Mitzvah. I will show you her album in my next post. She performed brilliantly in the synagogue on the Sabbath and we all had a blast at the celebratory party on Sunday evening. And then it was time to come home. We were up early on Monday morning, ready for that flight back to Israel, all a little bleary eyed and sad to leave. It was such a great trip though and maybe, just maybe, everything worked out so well because we had to squeeze so much into a very short time. Even the rain held off until the very last evening. Did I tell you how cold it was though? Brrrrr!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A Flying Visit

This time next week we will be in England. Well, actually this time next week we will be preparing for our journey back to Israel! We are going for a somewhat 'flying visit' you see, to celebrate my niece's Bat Mitzvah. The kids are in school and there is always plenty going on, but it was important for us all to go and mark the occasion with the young lady and all our family.
Of course, the forthcoming celebration required some invitations and other items and I was delighted when my niece decided that she wanted me to design them for her. She requested one of my 'portraits' and, after a short discussion, I was able to put together some artwork for her. Obviously I know my niece pretty well but still wanted to check with her what she wanted me to feature on her invitation. I remember how quickly the interests can change when you're 12 years old! I was told she likes reading, fashion design, drawing and facebooking on her iPod Touch. When deciding on colour, a green - or jade - background - was the obvious choice because of her name.
Several weeks passed and I was thrilled to see the invitations when they landed in our letterbox. My brother-in-law - a creative guy himself - had my artwork and lettering skilfully scanned so that the figure and surrounding artwork 'popped' almost as if each one had been hand cut, as is my usual way of working. Most importantly, I heard that my niece "loves it" and, since I know that the image will be used on other items over the course of the weekend celebrations, I am very happy to have played my part!
Of course there was another important item needed and so the scalpel and scissors came out again. The above picture is just a sneak peek though. I am going to save the rest for another post, after we have been on our travels and my niece has seen what I created. See you in a week or so!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Golden Rule

Winter has definitely arrived here now, though when all is said and done, Israeli winters are pretty mild. To warm us all up a little bit, I've got a post full of 'golden' images, starting with these Golden Wedding Anniversary cards I recently made for a customer to send to family in the UK. 
I am big fan of the Attic 24 blog. Though I do not crochet, I adore the colours and designs she works with and definitely love her cheerful attitude to life. Added to this, she happens to live in the north east of England, where I hail from, so all in all, her blog is a regular stop-off point for me. Quite some time ago Lucy posted a recipe for Cheesy Nibbles, an after school 'snackette', as she called them, for her kids. They sounded delicious and really simple to make, so I too threw the ingredients together, adding some corn kernels into the mix as one commenter suggested, and Lucy's totally right, they were good!
Just as in previous years the orange tree in our front garden is doing great! Without too much care and attention the tree has produced a lot of beautiful, juicy fruit for us this year. My eldest son is taking an orange to school with him almost every day and they're proving to be great desserts too. Anyone else got kids who insist on 'dessert' after nearly everything they eat?
The leaves are coming down too. Well, truthfully these leaves came down ages ago. My youngest son made this mobile at school and it is now hanging in the back garden, drying out even more but also getting a little bit wet along the way! I love the colours and appreciate most things collected and hand made in his teva (the Hebrew word for nature) class. Wish I'd had a nature class when I was at school!