Tuesday, 26 May 2020

A Last Order Before Lockdown

Little Eilon turned 5 right at the start of all the Coronavirus trouble. It hasn't always been easy for me to get cards to my customers outside of my hometown during this time but Eilon's mum has been ordering cards for all her family for years and I didn't want this birthday to be any different. I managed to get the card to Jerusalem via my husband on the very last that he went into the office! It was meant to be.
Eilon likes watching the animated preschool series Top Wing. The series follows four eager young birds - Swift, Penny, Brody and Rod - who work together at the Top Wing Academy (see how much I learn by making my cards!).  I have shown Eilon holding Brody's hand wing as they set off on an adventure together. Behind them I added a big number 5 to mark Eilon's age and a random selection of Hebrew and English letters because he is just starting to learn to read.
His mum sent me these gorgeous photos of the birthday boy opening his card. "How lucky we are!" she wrote to me. "Eilon loves his card!"

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Celebrating My 50th Birthday in the Middle of a Pandemic

So, whilst we have all be sheltering at home and keeping a low profile, I celebrated a big birthday. This week I turned 50! Believe me, this was not the 50th birthday I had planned. For the last few years I had been telling Mister Handmade in Israel that I wanted to visit Prague as a birthday treat. Everyone tells me that I will love it there. I would have liked to celebrate with friends and perhaps danced the night away (I love dancing!). But it wasn't to be. My 50th birthday fell right in the middle of a worldwide pandemic but Mister Handmade in Israel made it as special as it could be and I had a lovely day!
I was treated to this amazing cake made by the very talented Ella Bakes and received a beautiful balloon decoration made by Designed by Ruti. Breakfast was brought in from a local cafe that is still closed but does deliveries. Dinner was the same. I received a wonderful book filled with greetings from family and friends the world over, a voucher to treat myself to something from Etsy and another for Israeli breakfast when things open up again.
I'm a lucky girl!
As a family we have very much stuck to the rules and have stayed at home except for the necessary food shopping. But things are beginning to slowly open up again here in Israel as the numbers improve. Last week I heard that the national parks were opening again and that a limited number of people would be allowed in each day, as long as you pre-book. I knew that I wasn't going to Prague or dancing on my birthday, but thought that a day trip to Ein Gedi, an oasis and a nature reserve located west of the Dead Sea, might be nice. Then a heatwave hit and there was no way we could go there either! In the end Mister Handmade in Israel indulged me and we went out in the horrible heat to Castel National Park to see flowers and explore.
The Castel fortress is located at the entrance to Jerusalem, overlooking the main road into the city. We were last there back in 2012. The Castel hill is the highest point in the surrounding area and is an interesting place to explore and admire the beautiful landscapes.
The Romans first established their Castellum or fort and following them the Crusaders settled here. Later when the Arab village Al-Qastal was established here, the mukhtar's home took pride of place on the hilltop fortress ruins.
Castel's most significant historical events occurred in April 1948 during Israel's War of Independence. Jerusalem was under siege and running out of food and water supplies, so armed trucks made the treacherous drive along Highway 1 where they were prime targets for the enemy in Al-Qastal. To solve this problem Operation Nachshon was launched by the Palmach who entered the Arab village. Fierce battles that claimed many lives took place there as Arabs and Jews fought for control of the site, but ultimately the Palmach took the hill for the final time and soon a convoy of vehicles packed with supplies ascended safely to Jerusalem. Castel National Park is now a memorial site to the lives lost in this pivotal battle.
Mister Handmade in Israel and I explored the underground bunkers and communication trenches at the site. These were prepared in the early sixties by the Israeli army as a preventive measure, for until the Six-Day War in 1967 the Jordanian border was only a few kilometres away. We climbed up to the ruins of the Crusader fortress. Several walls, arched windows and doorways of the mukhtar's home remain. The ruins are now a spectacular lookout point and memorial site where the names of the fallen in the battles over the Castel are carved on a rock.
From the mukhtar's house, a scenic trail descends through lush, uncultivated vegetation back to the car park. A nice variety of shrubs and bushes such as Spiny Broom, Shrubby Jerusalem Sage and Sage-leaved Rock Rose can be seen in the area. I spotted Syrian Cornflower-thistle and Red Everlasting. In winter and spring, anemones and cyclamen flower here, though they were long gone by the time of our visit.
Then it was back home for a quick shower (did I mention how hot it was?) before a Zoom call with family and a delicious sushi supper. Mister Handmade in Israel was quite exhausted by this point! He had worked hard to make my 50th birthday special and I truly had had a wonderful day!


Monday, 18 May 2020

Corona Cards

As we slowly come out of lockdown it's time to show you a couple of Coronavirus cards I made during this time.
The first card was an anniversary card for Miriam. In the past her husband has asked me to show his wife enjoying a glass of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey and wearing his beloved team Reading Football Club's kit. This year he suggested I use optician Miriam's latest advert, showing her wearing a mask, visor and white coat and open for business once again. I cut the mask from tracing paper and added some red hearts for good measure. After all, it was an anniversary card!
Photo credit: Optics Miriam
Elisha turned 17 during the lockdown. His mum requested a birthday card with a picture of him wearing a mask. He has been playing tons of Lego, she told me, and watching Netflix, so I added a Netflix screen to his card. Lels, as his family call him, loved the card and even, somewhat reluctantly, agreed to pose with it!

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Turning 50

A customer asked me to make a 50th birthday card for her friend Julia. She sent me a photo of her friend and I had fun creating a birthday scene complete with cake, streamers, bunting, presents, and of course the birthday girl in the centre of the card.
Another customer contacted me with a request for a card for her husband's 50th birthday. She had taken a look at my Etsy shop and decided that she liked the cake papercut card that I have listed there. I made the original design for my husband back in 2016. My customer asked if there was any way to add a 50 to the card, so I carefully cut the number out of the "icing".
She was very happy with the card. "Thanks so much, I love the card and you even managed to put 50 on it!!!" she wrote to me.
This is a card that can be easily personalised with another name, so if you would like to order one for a special person in your life, you can do so right here.