Saturday, 28 December 2019

The Best of 2019 - Part I

1. I Love You 2. Eilon 3. 21 Years 4. We Are the Champions 5. Their Wedding Picture 6. She Cheered with Joy! 7. #50cardsfor50  8. Lior's Best Friends 9. Amit & Roei 10. Benjo

Whilst many of you are now celebrating Christmas, we are right in the middle of the Chanukah holiday. Presents have been exchanged and doughnuts and latkes have been consumed (fried foods are an important part of the holiday as they represent the small amount of oil that miraculously burned for 8 days instead of just one when the Jews rededicated the Second Temple in Jerusalem after overcoming oppression). Whatever you are celebrating, happy holidays to you and best wishes for an amazing year ahead!
2019 started pretty badly for me and my days were somewhat disrupted with medical treatments. I'm pleased to report that things did get back to normal (though if someone knows of a magical cure for tendinitis, I'd love to hear from you!). I was soon back to making my customised cards, albums and papercut pictures for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and more.
As is common at this time of the year, I thought it would be fun to collect together some of my favourite designs from this past year and show them to you once again. I have chosen my Top 10 favourite cards and linked to some special projects I worked on as well. Have you spotted your card, album or picture amongst my collection?
I have also visited some interesting places in Israel and was lucky enough to enjoy a wonderful holiday with my husband and eldest son in Hungary before he joined the Israeli Defence Forces in the summer. I'm saving my top 10 favourite places for another post. Please look out for it.


Thank you so much for taking time out of your daily lives this past year to pop by and see what's happening over here at Handmade in Israel. I am always very happy to read your encouraging comments and receive your support. Even after 12 years of blogging I still enjoy composing each and every one of my blog posts and am always excited to press that 'Publish' button when the time is right. I hope you will continue to enjoy them too in 2020 as I share the coming year's papercut designs and a few more of my adventures in Israel.
Don't forget that you can subscribe to my blog, and follow me on Facebook, InstagramTwitter and Pinterest. Oh, and please pop by my shop now and then to see what is new there.
Wishing you a wonderful, happy and colourful Chanukah, Christmas and New Year, and a safe and exciting start to 2020!

* This post has been shared on All Seasons, MMM Block Party, Mix it up Monday!, The Good. The Random. The Fun.Tuesdays with a TwistCreatively Crafty, Creative Mondays Link Up.

Monday, 23 December 2019

A Holly Jolly Christmas

Every December I am very aware that most arts and crafts bloggers the world over are busy showing off their Christmas makes, whilst I am blogging about birthday and wedding cards, Bat Mitzvah albums and day trips in Israel! Although I personally do not celebrate Christmas, it is of course especially meaningful in Israel due to the historic significance this little country holds as the land where the Christmas story took place. If you are able to cross over into Palestinian areas, the Christmas Market and Midnight Mass in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth is known to be a wonderful experience. In Bethlehem you can visit Manger Square and go to Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity, plus there is an annual Christmas Parade. The German Colony in Haifa has amazing Christmas lights. In the predominantly Jewish city where I live there is very little sign of the holiday and you would not have an inkling that Santa is about to visit! I have enjoyed listening to Christmas pop songs on BBC Radio 2 on the Internet though. I like to have a good singalong when there's no one home!
This year Chanukah overlaps with Christmas. The eight day holiday, which began last night, is also known as the Festival of Lights. It commemorates the re-dedication of the second century BCE Second Temple in Jerusalem. The last time our Jewish holiday crossed over with Christmas was 2016. That year, Christmas Day fell roughly in the middle of the Chanukah, as it does again this year. Rarer still are the years when Chanukah starts precisely on Christmas Day, as it did in 2005 and 1959 before that.
Chanukah of course falls on the same date every year - just not on the calendar most are used to. Jewish holidays are based on the Hebrew Calendar, which is lunar, as opposed to the secular Gregorian calendar used by much of the world, which is solar. The lunar year lasts about 354 days, far shorter than the 365 days that make up the secular solar year. The Hebrew calendar makes up for the difference by adding a leap month during seven of every 19 years, so Chanukah keeps moving. In 2013 it bumped back to November!
Despite the fact that I celebrate Chanukah rather than Christmas, I do have a papercut art business and some people, no matter where they live, still need Christmas cards. I personally send my handmade holiday cards to a few friends back in the UK, while other people require cards to send to their clients abroad. After all, they are celebrating Christmas, even if we're not. This year I made these papercut Christmas greeting cards with holly cut out detail. A pop of red for the berries added a second colour.
So, whatever you are celebrating - Christmas or Chanukah - happy holidays to you all! Thank you for all the support you have given me and my blogging adventure this year. Please keep visiting.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

A Star Gazer and a Pastry Chef

A lovely lady in one of the Facebook networking groups I belong to wrote to me and requested a card for her cousin who was soon to be celebrating her Bat Mitzvah. The brief was simple. She loves outer space.
I love it when I have so much leeway with my design and was full of ideas for this card. I suggested a little paper portrait of my customer's cousin along with planets, stars, maybe a telescope and more. She asked me to put a number 12 somewhere on the card (the age that Jewish girls become a Bat Mitzvah) and to add the words 'mazal tov' (congratulations) in Hebrew on the front.
Another customer wrote and told me that she was leaving her current job as a pastry chef and would love to give one of my cards to her manager. She asked me to put pastry chef things like a whisk, a chef's knife and spatula on the card. Maybe a cake and splashes of cake mixes too. I had permission to "go wild" and do whatever I fancy. So I did!
I crafted a big sandwich cake for the centre of the card, then cut out tiny kitchen utensils, cookies, croissants and cupcakes. Then, as requested, I 'splashed' different coloured cake mixes all around the card.
The Hebrew greeting on the front of the cards says "תודה רבה על הכל", "Thank you for everything".
"Thank you so much. It was perfect!" my customer wrote to me.
Pieced Pastimes

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Urban Agriculture on the Roof of the Dizengoff Centre

Today, around 55 percent of the world's population is thought to be living in an urban area or city, with that figure set to rise to 68 percent over the coming decades. As cities increase in size, new and sustainable ways to grow enough food to feed the people inhabiting them will need to be developed. One such way is urban farming and one such organisation leading the way is Center Park, an educational urban farm located on the roof of the Dizengoff Center, Israel's first shopping centre which opened in Tel Aviv in 1983.
Center Park is a joint venture between the Dizengoff Center and the LivinGreen company, an Israeli company that has helped pioneer soil-less aquaponic and hydroponic farming solutions. Not long ago my dad and I joined a tour of the rooftop gardens to see how this unique farm offers a method of cultivating vegetables, leafy greens and herbs without soil in an urban environment.
The farm grows only local species, according to the season and is open to the general public for tours and workshops. We were shown the biodynamic bee hive, below, and learnt the purpose of the bees' important activity. We saw the nursery for tree seedlings and the garden built to attract butterflies and to teach their environmental value. We were taught about energy efficiency and the actions taken to reduce the carbon footprint of the Dizengoff Center. There is a domestic biogas system at the farm that demonstrates how organic waste can be turned into gas using microbes, which can be used for cooking and operating generators.
Vegetables being grown at Center Park include lettuce, chard, celery, spinach and green onions. While the farm does have some soil-based plants at the site, the crops grown for consumption are using the aquaponic and hydroponic methods, which means growing food plants in water without any bedding whatsoever, with the nourishment materials being dissolved in the water. Advantages of the methods are the lightweight nature of the system compared to soil, as well as the simple installation and easy ability to grow food. Apparently three or four times the amount can be grown using these methods than in the ground, which can be a very good solution for the future in order to feed people in urban areas. In addition, the techniques are so simple you only need two or three farmers to produce thousands of vegetables per month.
Currently 15 restaurants in Tel Aviv and a number of self-service stands inside the Dizengoff Center are the beneficiaries of Center Park's produce but, and perhaps more importantly, the organisation is helping build a blueprint that could benefit countless people around the world in the coming decades. They believe that everyone living in the city can grow agricultural produce on his or her own using these simple methods and at low cost, and that the main benefit is quality and healthy food.
Workshops at the farm teach the participants about urban agriculture, cultivation methods and the various technologies, as well as about the ways to implement them at home, office or school.
My dad and I came away inspired and excited by what we'd seen.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Fifty Years of Marriage

A customer noticed that I have recently created several 25th anniversary cards based on the couple's wedding photo. His in-laws were soon to be celebrating their Golden Wedding anniversary, their 50th anniversary, and he asked if I could create a similar card for them. He sent me a photo of the couple on their wedding day and asked me to make a card with a gold colour scheme and with a few 50's on it. "I think they will be thrilled just to see themselves as cutouts!" he said.
My customer was delighted with the card I created and it seems that the in-laws were too! "It looks amazing!!!!!" he wrote to me when he first saw the card, then followed up by saying that his mother-in-law said "I don't understand. How in the world did you find a card with my face on it?" She said it was simply amazing and couldn't stop looking at it.