Monday, 28 June 2021

41 and 21

Last year Nir turned 40 and I showed him with one of his favoured kodesh books (religious texts) in one hand and a football in the other. He was wearing an Israeli policeman's hat - a reminder of the fun times he has with his kids. This year his wife sent me a lovely photo of her and her husband on the beach. He loves to walk on the sand, she told me. She also asked me to add his age to the card. They collect my cards and she said that putting his age on would help keep them all in chronological order!
I have shown Naomi and Nir on the beach. They were beautifully colour coordinated that day and their clothes match the blue of the sea! Naomi is wearing her signature straw hat. A big number 41, matching the orange of Nir's shorts, marks his age.
Eitan was turning 21. He also receives one of my cards every birthday. I still remember his 12th birthday card, which had a Scrabble theme. This year mum sent me a photo of him giving a speech, after having received his officer's bar in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). She wanted me to show Eitan on the podium, a microphone in front of him. His officer's bar can clearly been seen on his left shoulder, along with his unit tag. He is wearing the black beret of the Shiryon (Tanks) Brigade.
Mum requested a big card in honour of her son's 21st. I added the big number 21 to mark his age and hinted at the green of the trees behind him.
"Love the card, thanks so much. You did a great job." she wrote to me.
Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs
JENerally Informed

Thursday, 24 June 2021

23 Years

Mister Handmade in Israel and I recently celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. Things are slowly returning to normal around here, though the Covid-19 delta variant is fast becoming an issue, as it is in so many other places. Unlike last year, when we celebrated with takeaway pasta, this year we were able to go out for a meal. We went to our favourite local Italian restaurant, which has only just reopened after many, many months. Though we were seated far apart from other people, which felt slightly strange, the food was good and it was a treat to go out!
This year's anniversary card was of course a papercut design - Mister Handmade in Israel's favourite type. It featured a big '23 Years' embellished with some flowers. I cut the card out of white stock and added a pale grey paper inlay. The 23rd wedding anniversary does not have a classic symbol, but traditional and modern gifts are silver plate, thus my choice of grey. Maybe when it is our 25th anniversary I'll find some sparkly silver paper 😉
Mister Handmade in Israel treated me to these gorgeous flowers which, given the current temperatures in Israel, lasted a good long while. It seems that I have learnt a thing or two from my mum who was a florist. I bought him tickets for us to go and see the first performance in a year and a half of the Israeli mixed a cappella group Quinta and a Half. The group, which was formed in 2006, is made up of 6 singers and they have been performing together for over 12 years. We went to the concert last week and it was terrific! I hope you enjoy their medley of the Israeli music evolution, from the 1950s until the 2010s.
PoCoLo

Monday, 21 June 2021

1,000

I am delighted to say that this post is my 1,000th post on this blog! Who knew that I had so much to say?
I started writing this blog in May 2008 as a way of sharing my latest card designs. Who would have thought that I would still be blogging on a regular basis 13 years later? Since that very first post, my business has expanded beyond handmade cards. I now post about the Bar and Bat Mitzvah albums I have created, about the family portraits I have put together and about the intricate papercuts I have carefully cut out, along of course with the many, many cards I have made over these last 13 years! In addition, very early on I was asked to share more about my life here in Israel on my blog. I began to post photos of places we have visited and events that we have celebrated. Researching and writing about some of the beautiful places we have been to in Israel has become somewhat of a passion of mine.
To mark this personal milestone, I thought it would be fun to share some stats about my blog. Interestingly, even though I live in Israel and am originally from the United Kingdom, by far the top location of visitors to my blog is the United States, with a whopping 487K visits, 60% of my readership. The United States is followed by Israel, then Sweden, Russia and then the United Kingdom.
From 999 blog posts I have received 7961 comments and counting and I am pleased to report that I have several hundred people following my blog through various apps.
I have checked out the stats and thought it would be fun to share my Top 5 creative posts and Top 5 travel posts from over the years with you.
1. Amy's Album, October 2018
This is my most popular post by far. Really far! I have no idea where it was shared but the number of readers who saw this post is far greater than any other post! Either Amy's family liked her Bat Mitzvah album a LOT or my post was shared on a very popular blog. I'd love to know! Anyway, it is nice to see once again the Bat Mitzvah book I made for the young lady who plays the clarinet and piano, likes reading, skiing, kayaking and playing football, baking, listening to music, spending time with family, going on holidays and getting together with friends!

2. Meital, February 2019
Next come two cards I made for Meital's 12th birthday. One card showed her dancing - at the time she did hip hop and jazz - whilst the second card showed her holding her phone which she apparently was, and probably still is, rather attached to!

       3. Happy (Blog) Birthday, May 2009
This was one of my early posts and marked my first year of blogging! There may have been a little giveaway mentioned in the post, which explains the high number of visitors in those early days.

4. Lily, October 2020
Last year I shared a papercut picture I had created for my cousin's daughter as a Bat Mitzvah gift. It may have taken an excruciating 53 days to arrive at its final destination, but the post detailing this papercut was my fourth most popular creative post on my blog. I'm pleased to say that Lily loved it too!

       5. Happy Birthday Saba and Safta, October 2020
This card for a special Safta (the Hebrew word for grandmother), along with another one for Saba (the Hebrew word for grandfather), was a recreation in paper of a favourite photo of the grandparents with their grandchildren. They both loved their cards and enjoyed the memories of a nice occasion once again.

Turning to my Top 5 travel posts, this post about my 50th birthday last year had the most visits by a long way. I had wanted to visit Prague for my 50th but obviously Covid-19 put a stop to that. I'm now 51 and it's still not happening! My second choice was to spend the day at Ein Gedi, an oasis and a nature reserve located west of the Dead Sea. It was an extremely hot May and the weather put a stop to that idea too. In the end we went out in the horrible heat to Castel National Park to see flowers and explore and I had a lovely time! The Castel fortress is now a spectacular lookout point and memorial site and is definitely worth a visit.

       2. Rejuvenation, March 2019
My next most popular post is also about me, though not such a jolly one. In March 2019 I told you that I had just finished treatment for breast cancer but also showed you lots of lovely photos of the seasonal flowers I had seen in Israel over that time. Though the post was a bit of a depressing one, I appreciated all your caring comments and hope you enjoyed my photos of the anemones, or kalaniot, the flowering almond tree flower with its delicate pinkish petals, the shkedia, and my favourite flower, the cyclamen or rakefet in Hebrew.

       3. Back in the Golan Again, November 2018
The Golan is my favourite part of the country and so I was pleased to find that one of my posts about the area came in the Top 5 at number 3. In November 2018 my dad had been back for a visit and we took a trip to the Golan with him. We toured a winery on Kibbutz Ortal and stopped off at the Banias Nature Reserve to see the biggest waterfall in Israel. It was a lovely trip.

       4. The Jewish Community of Tapolca, October 2019
Tapolca was somewhat of an off the beaten track choice for the second half of our holiday in Hungary back in 2019 but when we arrived there we discovered that it had once been a Yiddish-speaking hub and home to a small Jewish community. By May 1944, during the German occupation of the town, the Jews were confined to a ghetto and many were ultimately transported to Auschwitz. The Jewish community all but disappeared, with a very few returning after the war. We were interested to find not one but two synagogues in this small town and were intrigued to be shown around one of them by a local historian.

       5. Mishmar HaSharon Reservoir and Agamon Hefer, December 2018
Finally, at number 5, our to visit the Mishmar HaSharon Reservoir in the Hefer Valley was a great success and we have already been back there for a second time. Pelicans come to spend time at the reservoir between October and December and either continue their migration to Africa or to stay on to winter in Israel. Hundreds of pelicans, as well as cormorants, egrets and herons, were gathered around the reservoir when we visited. It was truly a sight to behold.

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JENerally Informed

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Biking in Be'eri

Stanley's sister asked me to make him a special card for his 60th birthday. He enjoys bike riding and reading historical nonfiction, she told me. She also mentioned that likes whisky a lot too! She sent me a photo of her brother biking on the Be'eri Singletrack, a 28 kilometre loop trail located near Beeri, in the north-western Negev desert near the border with the Gaza Strip.
I have shown Stanley in his biking gear. He is wearing dark glasses, just like in the photo his sister sent me. I included his bike in the background too and added a large bottle of whisky, a tumbler and some books. A big number 60 marks his age.
My customer was pleased to see the card when she went to visit her brother on his kibbutz and he was happy for me to share the card here.
PoCoLo

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