Our “Epic” Halloween Party

halloween fun for kids
Zombie Elli

My daughter Elli had an “epic” Halloween party; epic is the new in word the kids are using theses days, as the word “lame” was not too long ago-FYI. The party was for the 12 year old crowd, with a few 9 year olds thrown in for good measure (Emili’s friends). It’s hard to celebrate American holidays here in Israel for a few reasons, the main one being that since American holidays aren’t celebrated here, you don’t get the day off and Halloween for example, is just another Monday. It’s difficult to have a party on a Monday night when parents have work the next day and children have school. You can’t trick or treat because Israeli’s don’t really understand what that is or really how to do it. (The American school does organize a trick or treat night in a neighboring town to Tel Aviv, but you need to be affiliated with the school or get tickets from someone in the school). About 5 or 6 years ago, some friends who had lived in America for quite a while had a children’s Halloween party. They asked a few of their neighbors to give out candy to the children in costume that would be knocking on their doors that evening. The neighbors ended up throwing the candy and pita bread at the children (?); maybe they got the whole handing out candy idea mixed up with throwing rice at a wedding! (?) Costumes are only out at Purim time in Israel and these costumes are mostly lame and poorly made and last but not least, it’s hard to find a pumpkin around here and the ones I have seen are white! Obstacles for sure, but with a little ingenuity and determination, a very scarry Halloween party can be achieved… 

horror movies
The big kids watched a horror movie and screamed and screamed and screamed

You can’t really find Halloween decorations here,   but we did found a few skulls, bones, skelatons and spiders in a junky toy shop in Florentine. We ordered a few special things from America and had my sister send them to us; we ordered cookie molds for witch fingers and bones and a jello mold for a brain. And as usual, we made many of our decorations; I made the girls’ costumes and ratty, tattered curtains that we hung on the windows and used to cover walls. I drug home several big tree branches that I found along the side of the road and put them around the front door and we scattered leaves in the front garden around the cardboard tombstones that Elli made. I spread my needle felting wool over lights and in corners and put spiders all over them, I spread white sheets over everything, dimmed the lights and played spooky music…

We had tasty treats…

halloeen decoration
Brains, Severed Heads and eerie skulls
halloween cookies
Finger and bone cookies
children's halloween party
Ghoulish candy
Horror on Halloween
Putrid Punch
halloween treats
Crunchy rat snacks

We had Ghoulish guests…

haunted house
Ghoulish guest Michal

We had an evil hostess…

halloween party for kids
Would you like a slice of brain?

And most importantly, we had horrible ambiance…

spider decorations
Creepy, crawly spiders
Halloween ambiance
haunted living room
haunted house curtains
Haunted House Curtains
skull decorations
skull lights

The kids danced in the basement (dungeon) but adults and their cameras were banned from this part of the haunted house, thus I don’t have any dancing photos:( Don’t worry, we knew what was going on down there the whole time because the 9 year old guests tattled on the 12 year old guests every chance they got!

And in one rare moment when I wasn’t cleaning, serving or monitoring the kids, Doron and I boogied to the horror of our children, then someone broke a whole glass bottle of orange juice and I had to go back to clean up duty.

halloween fun
Doron and Laura boogie

All in all, the kids rated this party a success!

Why Needle Felted Dolls range from Pricy to Affordable

laura lee burch needle felting
Goldilocks and the three bears

Lately I’ve been making fairy tale dolls, I first started making the dolls with pipe cleaner armatures then progresses to a bigger doll with a needle felted head and body with only pipe cleaner arms and legs. The pipe cleaner dolls (the basic pipe cleaner doll tutorial can be seen here: http://www.lauraleeburch.com/blog/2011/09/beddy-bye-dolls-tutorial-2/  are small and just the right size for small children to play with and they can be made in a reasonable amount of time (half an hour each), making them much cheaper to make and sell. The larger, more detailed dolls take a lot more time (about an hour each to needle felt, plus a half an hour to an hour more if they’re clothed). I think the larger dolls are cuter, but more expensive due to the amount of time it takes to needle felt, then sew the clothes for each one. I love these two types of pipe cleaner dolls because you can’t break them, they’re bendable, soft and made from natural materials (wool is bacterial and fire resistant!)

needle felting dolls
Goldilocks

The larger needle felted dolls have many more details such as glass doll eyes, styled hair and more intricate, sewn clothes. I make the patterns for the doll clothes; I usually end up making a sample piece of clothing first which I make alterations to, then I revise the pattern, cut out the pieces, then sew the doll’s costume. I make the dolls first because I love the needle felting process and I save the sewing for later (when the mood hits me to sew).

Pipe cleaner dolls
Goldilocks & the Three Bears-Pipe Cleaner version

As I first started to make human style animal dolls (The three bears and the three little pigs for example), I struggled with the decision of whether to dress the animals or not. A friend of mine who worked in a Hallmark shop for years once told me that clothed teddy bears that had clothing or costumes sold better than non-clothed teddy bears, so I took that as a piece of important advice from someone who observed teddy bear sales because she used this information to place the bear orders for her very successful Hallmark store. This meant that if the urge to sew doll clothes didn’t come to me as my little animals stood there naked, I’d need to “just do it” and sew some clothes for the dolls. I like to sew, but only when I feel like it, just like cooking. I’ve left the smaller, pipe cleaner dolls unclothed (except Goldilocks of course) so that their price point stays low. I have quite a few more fairy tale dolls finished, just waiting for clothes! Back to work….

 

 

The Three Little Pigs Fairytale Dolls

the three little pigs fairytale dolls
The Three Little Pigs have got the world by the tail!

Things have changed for the Three Little Pigs, fairytale characters extraordinaire, they’ve got the world by the tail these days!  Long ago their nemesis the Big Bad Wolf was caught and jailed for stalking and destruction to private property. The pigs now live together in a posh condo with a doorman to keep out the riff-raff.

laura lee burch needle felting
The flying Piginski Brothers

After the traumatic stalking episode with the Big Bad Wolf, then trying to collect from the insurance companies for the destruction of 2 of their houses, the lawsuit the wolf laid on the pigs for getting hurt on their property and trying to rebuild their lives again, the fairytale gig didn’t suit the pigs anymore.  So, the pigs joined the circus and became the Flying Piginski Brothers, high-wire acrobats!

art dolls
On top of the World!

The Flying Piginski Brother’s Act has become a swine sensation , the pigs are really “on top of the world  now!” Who Knew?!

ADO
The Three Little Pigs 2011

 Moral of the story: Embrace change!

needle felt
The End

Fairytale Footnote*The Three Little Pigs are needle felted from wool, they are posable and they have glass eyes. The pigs range from 6.5″ to 7.5″ tall. I’ve updated their story with a modern twist, but the Three Little Pigs has always been one of my favorite classic fairytales! I guess we all like it when the underdog wins and the bad guy gets what’s coming to him, aka:  karma rules!

The Three Little Pigs
Emili and The Three Little Pigs

Home Sweet Dutch/Israeli Home

laura lee burch blog
Home Sweet Home Photo Collage

For many people who are living in another country, far from home, I believe it becomes important to bring a little big of the “old home” into the “new home”.  Sometimes a little familiarity makes you feel more grounded, puts you in a better mood or just makes you happy. I’m inspired by my Dutch friend Patricia’s home in Israel, by how she has made it warm and friendly, beautiful and very Dutch by decorating it from her heart!

inspired by Dutch decorating
The kitchen is the heart of the house

The kitchen is the heart of her home; here we gathered for a light lunch before we headed for the beach.

Holland in Israel
Patricia and Roni in the kitchen
Knick Knacks and kitchen essentials

You can always find interesting doo-dads in Patricia’s house from boutiques and flea markets. You’ll find oodles of donkeys and hearts hanging and sitting around because she collects these and the colors turquoise blue with accents of red are characteristic of her special decorating sense.

Patricia's house
Yummy foods in the kitchen!

Laura asks Patricia:  “What did your home look like growing up?”
Patricia says: “I grew up in a home with a huge garden and lots of animals. My home had enough room for my four brothers and two sisters. The house was kept very clean and organized, everything had it’s place, but sometimes my mom liked to change the colors of the walls or curtains. We lived mostly in the kitchen, everything happened around the circular kitchen table.

kitchen is the heart of the home
looking through the kitchen to the front door

Laura asks Patricia: “How important is it to you that your children have a sense of their Dutch side as they grow up in Israel.  Do you feel that the look of your home contributes to this at all?”
Patricia answers: The children mostly have a sense of their Dutch heritage from our visits to Holland and of course the Dutch language which they also speak. It is important to me that my children feel connected to Holland, my Dutch “ways” contribute to every level in our lives, it’s just there without trying. I’ve always liked to be out of Holland and then explore what I like about being Dutch. I do feel that our home contributes to “feeling Dutch” because of all the flea-market treasure that I’ve brought back from Holland.

home
music and song

Laura asks Patricia: “What is your favorite room in the house and why?”
Patricia says: “My favorite room in the house in the kitchen/dining room.  I like to cook and sit around the kitchen table with the kids while we talk, do homework, have tea or bake cookies. I also love to be outside, so my favorite patio (we have 3) is the one off the salon where the view of the dunes is the best and you can feel the sea breeze. 

dutch decorting
The children's bedroom

Laura asks Patricia: “What’s your definition of a comfortable home?”|
Patricia says: “To me, a comfortable home is one that allows a certain privacy for all members of the family; also light, a nice view, easy to clean and room enough to move the furniture around so the rooms are still spacious; all this is important. Also, a comfortable home is easy to entertain in.”

child'e room
children's toys and paintings

Laura asks Patricia: “What would you add to your home if you could?”
Patricia says: “I’d probably add a swimming pool if I could.”

restful bedroom
a restful place
hearts and flowers adorn the bedroom
old armoir
old Serbian armoir in the bedroom; it was a wedding armoir, the writing reads for Maria and Joseph 1914

Laura asks Patricia: You have a lot of outdoor space now, what do you intend to do with it?
Patricia says: “I’d like to have a nice garden and some chickens. By next summer I’d like to plant big sunflowers all along one outside wall.”

decorating
the living room, for resting and entertainment

Laura asks Patricia: “What do you think is most important about your home to your children? To your husband?”
Patricia says: “For the two little ones, it’s important that they have spacious surroundings and a yard to play in. For the two bigger kids, their room are important to them. My husband likes our bedroom because it’s separate from all the others and he likes having his own shower! I think it’s important to all of us that the house is very family oriented and you can be together or apart if we wish.

children's patio chairs

Laura asks Patricia: “Have your homes always had the Dutch look to them?” “If someone wanted to also decorate their home Dutch, what tips would you give them?”
Patricia says: “My friends have always told me that my homes, past and present feel/look Dutch. I would recommend that people decorate following their hearts and roots, with things that they like, from their own backgrounds. All the personal items in your home make it special and really yours.”

mini gardening tools

Laura asks Patricia: “What are your favorite home magazines to browse through?”
Patricia says: “I like the Dutch magazine Home and Garden, but honestly I like to get ideas everywhere I go. I like the site Eclectic Gipsyland and flea markets are always a must-visit!”

old sink

Laura asks Patricia: “What more do you have planned for your home in terms of decorating?”
Patricia says: “I still have some ideas about renovating some old cupboards, painting in some nice colors and working in the garden…”

guard dog