Friday, 27 September 2019


Juliet and I were flatmates over 25 years ago. Though we live on different continents, we have remained in contact on and off since then. Social media makes it easy these days. Juliet messaged me some months ago to ask if I would make something for her #50cardsfor50 project. Always the entrepreneur, for her 50th birthday she is asking people to make a card with a piece of advice on the card or something beautiful and inspiring. She wondered if I'd be interested in making one. 
Juliet sent me a pack in the post and I eventually got to work. I wanted to create something "Israeli", something that said something about the place I call home. I decided to papercut the word "Shalom" in both Hebrew and English. "Shalom", like many Hebrew words, has more than one meaning. Shalom means peace. However, "peace" is only one small part of the meaning. "Shalom" is also used to both greet people and to say goodbye, but it means much more than "peace, hello or goodbye"...
Shalom is rooted in the word שלם (shaleim) which means wholeness, completion, wellness, perfection. When we are "at peace" we feel a sense of "wholeness."
I backed the white postcard with blue paper. The national colours of Israel are officially blue and white, as seen on the flag of Israel. An early Zionist poem explains that the colour white symbolises great faith; blue the appearance of the firmament. (The original dark blue stripes were later lightened to heighten visibility at sea.) Because of its association with the State of Israel, blue has become very popular in contemporary Jewish design.
Juliet is currently putting all the cards she receives on Instagram and possibly has other ideas for them as well. She seemed thrilled to receive my card, writing the following on Facebook:
"Lisa is an artist and makes beautiful cards and paper cuts. I asked if she'd make me something for my birthday #50cardsfor50 project and she sent me this. I love it."

Should you be interested in purchasing a similar hand cut papercut to this one, just pop me a message or look for the listing in my Etsy shop.

* This post has been shared on All Seasons, Happiness is HomemadeThe Weekly Link Up and Tuesdays with a Twist.
Pieced Pastimes

Monday, 23 September 2019

Hungary's Lake Balaton

We had a wonderful time in Budapest and I personally could have easily spent a few more days there, seeing everything I wanted to see, but it was time to move on. We wanted to spend some time in the countryside as well and I had been advised to look in the area of Lake Balaton, a freshwater lake in western Hungary. I found accommodation in the town of Tapolca, situated 12 km from the lake, which has its own picturesque Mill Pond (Malom-tó) and a watermill built by the Romans. We were thrilled to see the pond when we arrived and I insisted on walking by it at least once a day during our stay there!
Tapolca is known for its Lake Cave, below, situated in the heart of the town. It was found in 1903 when a well was being dug and was opened to the public ten years later. Because of its unique formations, the cave was designated a protected area in 1942 and placed under strict protection in 1982.
The three-storey cave system was created by karst water. The mixture of the cold karst water flowing there and thermal water upsurging from the deep dissolved the limestone, causing narrow passages and then smaller and larger niches to form. Over a very long period, these widened into spacious chambers and passages. The lower levels  of the cave system and some of the upper levels are covered with 19 °C water. It is the upper section, which is nearly 300 m long, which can be visited on boats.
The medicinal effect of the cave has been well-known for a long time. The relatively constant 18 °C temperature, the nearly 100%  humidity and the extremely clean air is excellent for treating allergic, asthmatic and other respiratory diseases. Medical treatments are carried out in another section of the cave, in the chambers under the town hospital.
We were somewhat disappointed to find that the owner of the guest house where we were staying spoke very little English, so she was unable to make suggestions about things to do in the area, normally a big plus when you are staying in smaller accommodation. Fortunately I had done some prior research and so we soon set off for Sümegi Vár, or Sümeg Castle, built in the mid or late 13th century by Béla IV of Hungary.
Sümeg Castle, below, is situated on top of a mountain called "Castle Hill", 20 miles north of Lake Balaton. It has been expanded several times during its existence. In the 15th century it was fortified and the second of two towers was built. It has been under siege several times, and has experienced two fires. Today it is the main tourist attraction for visitors to the area and is considered to be Hungary's most well-preserved fortress.
Our next adventure wasn't quite as successful. We intended to hike up Szent György hill, along a trail which takes you to the 414 m high summit to the hill's "basalt organ pipes". Though the views were stunning and we could see the 30-40 metre high basalt organs from a distance, try as we might, we could not find the trail.
We did manage to find Szigliget Castle, below, built on a volcanic peak surrounded by swamp back in the mid-13th century. The first owner of the castle was the Abbey of Pannonhalma but it changed hands many times and was considerably extended over time. It was finished off by a lightning in 1697, when the gunpowder supply in one of the towers exploded, and was not restored afterwards. The remaining part was destroyed by the Habsburgs to prevent troops of Rákóczi's War of Independence from using it. Renovation only started in the 20th century.
The castle boasts a stunning view over Lake Balaton on one side and the Keszthely Mountains on the other and made the steep climb to the top well worth it!
We enjoyed wonderful views of Lake Balaton once again at the Hegyestű Geological Visitor Site, the site of a former volcano and basalt mine. The volcano has lost its original cone shape due to the basalt mining but the nearly 50 m high wall of the former basalt mine, below, reveals the inside of the basalt volcano that used to be active 5-6 million years ago. The frozen lava in the crater of the volcano was divided into polygonal vertical columns whilst cooling, creating a unique geological structure. Unfortunately the exhibition in the mine building was only in Hungarian but the 200 steps to the summit of the volcano were worth it for the panoramic views alone.
Tihany is a village on the northern shore of Lake Balaton. A delightful place filled with lovely thatched-roof houses, at the centre is the Benedictine Tihany Abbey, which was founded in 1055 AD by András (Andrew) I, who is buried in the crypt. We wandered around the village, enjoying the views once again and stopping for ice cream. Apparently the village has the highest housing prices in the whole of Hungary. I can see why.
Our final stop was at the glimmering white, 100-room Festetics Palace, below, in the town of Keszthely. The Festetics Palace, the third biggest and the most visited palace of Hungary, was once home to the Festetics Family, one of the most significant ducal families in Hungary. The last family members to reside in the Festetics Palace were George III (1882-1941) and his family. His wife, the Polish Countess Maria Haugwitz and their son, George IV (b. 1940) left the palace in 1944. Unfortunately we didn't see inside the Baroque palace - Mister Handmade in Israel and the eldest son are not keen on visiting stately homes - but they instead chose to visit the model railway exhibition, one of Europe's largest, which is housed in the grounds of the palace. I was delighted to discover that the current exhibition at the Festetics Palace was "Truer than literal truth", an exhibition displaying the heliogravures of Vincent van Gogh. I was very happy to spend time there instead!
Homeward bound, we stopped at Keszthely Marina on the western shore of Lake Balaton for a final view of the lake. Though I can't say that it had long been on my "must do" list, we enjoyed our time in the Lake Balaton region, appreciating the relaxed atmosphere and beautiful scenery it offers.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

From 25 to 50

A customer asked me to make an anniversary card for her brother and sister-in-law for their 25th wedding anniversary, their silver wedding anniversary. She sent me two of photos of the couple on their wedding day and I was asked to copy the pose of the first photo but to show her brother wearing a top hat, as in the second photo. She also requested a few little number 25's dotted around the card, which I of course cut out of silver stock.
My friend Amanda recently turned 50. I made her a papercut card for her big day, cutting her name and age by hand from white stock, and then lining it with a pale blue paper inlay. The card took positively ages to reach its destination but was appreciated when it finally got there!
Pieced Pastimes