Thursday, 30 August 2018

Bat Mitzvah Girls

Freya recently celebrated her Bat Mitzvah. Her dad asked me to to make a special card for her to mark the event. After a little discussion it was decided that I should show curly-haired Freya wearing her blue headphones and holding her phone. She has a hamster called Polo, who I presumed was white, but dad sent me a photo so that I could match Polo's brown and white fur. I also suggested adding a Star of David, known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David, to the design to include a Jewish element.
Dad was pleased with his order. "The card has arrived. Love it! Thanks ever so much." he wrote to me. Later he let me know that Freya loved the card too.
Yaara was also marking her Bat Mitzvah. Her interests include reading, particularly Harry Potter books, chocolate, dogs and acting. Her favourite colour is light blue.
Mum told me that Yaara loves it when her hair has been blow-dried straight, so I showed her with her long dark hair styled that way. The little stage with red curtains behind her represents her interest in acting and there are a couple of Harry Potter books in Hebrew next to her. Yaara herself is holding another Harry Potter book in one hand. In her other hand is a large bar of chocolate. Yummy!
After some discussion a dog was left off the card as the family had not yet decided whether to adopt one. I believe that it's now going to happen, so maybe he or she will appear on a future birthday card!
Whilst we are talking of animals, my friend Mandy is, ahem, somewhat past Bat Mitzvah age, but she does love animals, particularly giraffes. I modelled my paper giraffe on Toy, the newest baby giraffe at the Jerusalem Zoo. Toy was born on the day Netta Barzilai won the Eurovision Song Contest and the newborn giraffe was named in honour of the winning Israeli song. Mandy is crazy about the Eurovision as well, so Toy just had to be on her birthday card this year.

Easy Peasy Pleasy

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Vacuuming and loving it

A friend asked me to make a special birthday card for his Mummy's upcoming 80th birthday. She has taken up ice skating, he told me, and she loves vacuuming! I am pretty sure that this is the first time I have put a vacuum cleaner on a birthday card. I suggested adding a paper portrait of mum since she is instantly recognisable by her red hair. I also included a little map of Israel. Mum lives in England but many of her family live here. I added a photograph of the family too. They are an incredibly close-knit group.
I have been asked for quite a number of 80th birthday cards recently, perhaps because I posted the card I made for my own dad a few weeks ago. This dad, below, is a Manchester City F.C. fan. He also likes cricket and follows Lancashire Cricket Club. He enjoys playing Bridge, in his retirement he helps to run a local charity second hand bookshop, whilst his working life involved shoes. Finally I added the crest of the college he attended in his youth, Brasenose College, Oxford.
My customer was very happy with the card, as it seems was her dad.
"Just to let you know the card you made was a great success. My father was touched by all the details on it, especially the Brasenose College crest. Thanks so much from a very satisfied customer and a very happy recipient."
Finally, this Scottish dad was also celebrating his 80th birthday. This customer was keen for me to show her silver haired dad with his little curly pony tail! Other things she suggested I put on the card included a kilt (I copied the exact tartan from the photo she sent me of her dad), a sports car, a bottle of whisky and some books. She also asked me to add some big headphones and some music notes since her dad very much enjoys listening to classical music. A big number 80 finished the card off nicely.
The greeting on this card says "Happy 80th Birthday Zeide". Zeide is Yiddish for "grandfather".

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

The Port City of Acre

We last visited Acre in 2011 and still had good memories of our day trip, but when I discovered the Akkotel boutique hotel online, above, I decided that we were due for a return visit.
Akkotel is a boutique hotel built into the walls of the old city of Acre. You can actually see the wall inside the hotel when you pass to the older part of the building. It has a roof terrace overlooking the town and the sea. The building is a beautifully renovated historical building that was constructed by the Ottomans and served as accommodation for their army officers. It is close to the Land Gate in the eastern wall of Acre which was the only entrance to the old city during the Ottoman period. The hotel's dining room complex was a stable for horses. It is a charming hotel - quiet and clean with well-appointed and beautifully decorated rooms - and was a great choice for our short stay in Acre.
Acre - or Akko as it’s known in Hebrew and Arabic - is a historic walled port city with continuous settlement from the Phoenician period. It was an important northern city in ancient times. Various cultures made their home there. The Crusaders captured it and the Ottomans lived there for many centuries. Even Napoleon Bonaparte tried to lay his hands on Acre and conquer it, but after two months of siege and failed attempts to storm the city’s walls, he retreated in humiliation. The present city dates from the Ottoman 18th and 19th centuries. The citadel, mosques, khans and baths remain from that time. The remains of the Crusader town, dating from 1104 to 1291, lie almost intact, both above and below today's street level.
Acre’s rich history has meant a long list of cultures playing an important role, including Israelites, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders and Arabs. Acre is also a holy city in the Bahá’í Faith and can add recognition by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site to its impressive resume. Since the 1990s, large-scale archaeological excavations have been undertaken and there is a fascinating historical site around every corner.
There are many must-sees in Acre, though we didn't make a return visit to them this time. Not to be missed is the Hospitaller Fortress, built by the Templars at the end of the 12th century, where you can wander through the enormous stone rooms with vaulted ceilings. The Templars also built a 350-metre long tunnel, which leads from the fortress to the city port. It was only discovered in 1994 when some plumbing work was done in the area. The underground Templars Tunnel is great fun to walk through, as you hear the sea above and around you
The Turkish Bath House, Hama al Basha, is perfectly preserved. It hails from the end of the 18th century and consists of spectacular domed rooms, adorned with ceramic tiles and exquisite floors. This was the space where all the important men came to steam their troubles away, while their wives held parties in a separate enclosure.
The Old City market is a great place to check out some authentic Middle Eastern goods, from fresh fish to buckets of spices to delicious Arab pastries and desserts.
The 18th century Khan Al-Umdan, above, a large caravanserai (a roadside inn where travellers could rest and recover from the day's journey) near the port, was once the hub of international trade. Merchants unloaded their goods in storerooms on the first floor and resided in rooms on the second floor. Plans to update this ruined complex have been in limbo for years though; when we passed through, it was only possible to peer through the gate.
Acre port has a 2000-year-old history. It was first mentioned in relation to a Greek campaign to conquer Egypt in 527-525 BCE, and was built during the reign of Ptolemais II (285-246 BCE), transforming Acre into an international port city and the gateway to Israel. It reached its peak during the conquest by the Crusaders, when the port became the main gate to the Land of Israel. Remains that can be seen today are mostly from that period. After the Ottoman conquest the port was neglected, serving only as a marina for fishing boats.
In the late 17th century, Zahir al-Umar tried to renovate and fortify the city.  During the first third of the 19th century, the port was kept in good working order and it often served the Egyptian fleet of Muhammad Ali and Ibrahim Pasha. The port was destroyed during the shelling of Acre by the British and Austrian navies in 1840, when the breakwater wall and the Tower of Flies were damaged.
Today, visitors to Acre can walk along the promenade and watch the fishermen at work, or sit down and grab a bite in one of the many restaurants. Acre is known for its hummus and its falafel, as well as a number of incredibly popular Arabic style restaurants specialising in the fish caught by the local fishermen.
Acre is also known for the fact that Arabs and Jews live together in relative peace. Acre’s 46,000 residents are two-thirds Jewish and one-third Arab. The city's population includes Christians, Bahá’í, Jews and Muslims. The Old City is made up mostly of Arab residents living along the narrow alleyways of the ancient neighbourhood. Arabic is an official language, alongside Hebrew.

* This post has been shared on Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday), Tuesday's Treasures, The Keeping It Real Link UpWednesday around the World, Wonderful Wednesday Blog HopThe Wednesday Blog Hop, Share Your Cup Thursday and Little Things Thursday.
DIY Daddy

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Thank You

I belong to the Facebook group IWEN (Israeli Women Entrepreneurs' Network). Once a week we are allowed to advertise on a thread in the group and one of those weeks a lovely lady contacted me about making thank you cards for her. She organises private tours of Israel and wanted some cards to thank her customers for choosing her business.
My new customer had spotted this card on my Facebook business page and decided that she liked the idea of a papercut card with Thank You as the text. She wanted the cards to be large because she wanted them to make a statement. She also asked me to line the cards with a blue paper inlay which would make them blue and white - the colours of the flag of Israel.
This was a fun project to work on. Occasional repetitive work like this can be quite relaxing once I have come up with the initial design.
"Thanks again for the super quick turnaround - I really do appreciate it." she wrote to me. I hope her customers like their handcut papercut cards.
Sunday Snap

Thursday, 16 August 2018

My Brother Jack

A regular customer of mine asked me to create a 21st birthday card for her niece, Sophie. She wanted me to show the birthday girl on the card, along with a big 21. I was also asked to include the badge of the university she is studying at.
Sophie's brother Jack was turning 19 (get it? My Brother Jack). Their auntie requested a Thailand theme for this card, since he was going to be there on his birthday. I went to town with this, adding the Golden Buddha (a gold statue located in the temple of Wat Traimit, Bangkok, Thailand), an elephant (the Thai elephant is the official national animal of Thailand), a pineapple (Thailand is the world's largest pineapple producer and exporter who accounts for about 50% of the world's pineapples market), some flip-flops and a big orange sun.
Finally, this beach scene card, below, is a design that I have made several times before, but I enjoy recreating it every now and then. It's that time of the year when many people are on holiday and spending time on the beach. I like to think that this card conveys "that summer feeling" perfectly.
Easy Peasy Pleasy