Monday, 31 May 2021

14 and 15

Meital was turning 14 and her mum asked me to make her a couple of cards. I have previously made birthday cards showing her dancing and on her phone. This time the card from mum and dad was to have a TikTok theme. Redheaded Meital likes making dance videos for the social media platform. She also likes shopping, especially from the online clothing store Shein and the Spanish retailer Pull&Bear.
I decided to show Meital as she appears in her TikTok video. She is wearing a favourite striped jumper and behind her is a glittery disco lights background. I carefully cut out all the icons on the TikTok screen: Meital's user image, a heart, the speech icon, arrow icon and a spinning record.
Next to the phone I added a big number 14 to mark Meital's age, along with a Pull & Bear shopping bag and the Shein logo. Finally I cut out several versions of the TikTok logo, which represents a music note.
Mum also wanted a smaller card for Meital from her siblings. This time I made her age the focus of the card and then added cupcakes, bunting and some hearts.
Mum was happy with the cards. "Just got them. [They are] amazing as always. Thanks so much!" she wrote to me.
Daniel has also received cards made by me many times over the years. Last year his mum told me that he was into basketball, exercising using his doorway pull-up bar and that he loved to cook. This year he turned 15 and apparently he writes music all day long on his computer!
I have shown Daniel looking at his white laptop with earphones dangling from his ears. A bar of music behind him represents what he is creating on the screen. Mum also asked me to include another instrument that he uses on the side. Apparently it is always next to him when he writes his music.
She sent me a bunch of happy photos showing Daniel opening his card, though I know that he prefers me not to share them here. Mum wrote that the card was "Another HUGE success!"

Thursday, 27 May 2021

The Sorek Stream and Samson's Cave

It's getting a bit too hot for long hikes in the countryside now but a few weeks ago Mister Handmade in Israel and I enjoyed a return visit to Nahal Sorek in the Judean Hills. This time we parked our car close to the Scrolls of Fire memorial in the Martyrs Forest, which we visited last year. The memorial, Megilat Ha'esh in Hebrew, was inaugurated in 1971 and is the work of the sculptor and painter Nathan Rapoport.
From the Scrolls of Fire memorial we walked eastwards along the road for around 200 metres and then turned onto the trail we intended to follow, which was marked in blue. It descended through a KKL-JNF (Jewish National Fund) forest of pine and cypress trees interspersed with native Mediterranean vegetation, principally mastic trees, sage-leaved rockrose and thorny burnet, all of which bloom in the springtime.
Soft-Hairy Rockrose, לוטם שעיר
Allium carmeli, שום הכרמל
White Rockrose, לוטם מרווני
We emerged from the forest to follow a footpath that lead us across open ground. The landscape was wonderful: a Mediterranean scrubland of small carob and mastic trees, along with Greek sage and Israeli common oak. We spotted an ancient wine press cut into the rock, as well as holes and depressions in the surface of the rock, all signs of ancient human activity.
Bristly Hollyhock, חטמית זיפנית
A steep, prominent rocky hill stood before us as we made our way along the path, below. Near the hill, the blue-marked footpath descended to the left for some distance along a rocky shelf. The path then turned abruptly to the left and made its way down the cliff by means of steps, some of which appear to have been carved out in ancient times, and with the help of metal rungs driven into the rock face.
At this point Mister Handmade in Israel decided to stay where he was and I ventured just a bit further, trying a few of the rungs and then chickening out myself! Had I continued, the path would have led me to Me'arat Shimshon or Samson's Cave.
Samson's Cave, above, is apparently very large. Inside it, stone walls, steps and the traces of ancient rock-cutting activity are all evidence that the cave was once used as a dwelling place. High up on the western wall of the cave is an entrance to an alcove that may once have served as living quarters.
Solitary monks would appear to have lived in the cave in Byzantine times. They preferred to live in caves and on rocky ledges because such isolated quarters ensured that they disturbed no one, and because this isolation enabled them to keep their distance from human society. The cave bears the name of the Biblical Samson, the legendary Israelite warrior and judge, for no particular reason beyond the fact that the Bible mentions his having roamed the area around Nahal Sorek.
From the cave - or just before it - we had to retrace our steps along the blue-marked path and follow it back to the forest and trailhead. Before doing so, we took a moment to treat ourselves to the glorious view of the Sorek river as it curved gently through the valley, and the cliff face, from which the mouth of Samson's Cave gaped at us.
The long shelf of rock that supports Samson's Cave is composed of hard chalk and dolomite belonging to what is known as the Kisalon formation, which was responsible for the creation of the impressively steep rock faces of the Jerusalem Hills.
Pyramidal orchid, בן-סחלב צריפי

The hike had been a beautiful one. I loved how peaceful the trail was and thoroughly enjoyed the Mediterranean scrubland and stunning views. However, it was HOT. Rather too hot. Mister Handmade in Israel and I struggled on our return journey. We will be saving this gorgeous route for a return trip on a cooler day.

Monday, 24 May 2021

Fit at Forty

Naomi calls herself a "Personal Healthy Lifestyle Motivator". I am sure she won't mind me telling you that she used to be a big lady. She has been on a wellness journey these last few years and the results are amazing! When her husband contacted me with a request for a 40th birthday card for Naomi, he stated that he wanted "something to do with health and fitness" on it. I knew exactly what to do.
Having followed Naomi's journey, I knew that I had to show her new, slim self on the card. She uses weights when she exercises, so I added them too. I know that she is also a big fan of nutritional drinks and capsules, so I included them as well. I shared some photos of the amazing meals she puts together and some of the ingredients she cooks with, including aubergine, peppers and her favourite skinny pasta. Finally, Naomi drinks a lot of water. Like really a LOT. I cut out a teeny tiny water bottle and gave it a label. You can see the size of it in the palm of my hand, below.
Naomi wrote a lovely review:
"Lisa, I absolutely loved my 40th birthday card and can’t wait to get my mum's card and send it to her in the UK. She collects them because Lisa's cards are masterpieces to be treasured."