A Rainy Day in Israel

cold rainy day in Tel Aviv
I start off my day with a "cafe afuch" or cappacino at Nina Cafe in Neve Tzedek

It’s been another “ducky” day here in Israel, cold (sweater weather) and rainy. Would you like to accompany me on my morning errands? I started off my day in my neighborhood of Neve Tzedek to do a little food shopping; first I need a large “cafe afuch”, translated from Hebrew as an “upside down coffee” or a cappuccino at Nina Cafe, a little French bistro. I continue  down Shabazi Street, the main street in Neve Tzedek for a European food shopping experience (as opposed to a middle eastern experience which I will document in a later post). I splash up the street in my farm boots to do a little shopping in Neroli, the organic food market, I love this shop because it’s like being in a rural grocery.  Neroli has worn wooden floors, wooden shelves, food displayed in baskets and hand written food signs, there’s nothing in the store that hints of a chain store.  I continue on to L’Angolo, the small deli that is filled with wines, cheeses, deli meats, egg pasta, marinated artichokes and olives. I’ve filled my bags with a few goodies for the weekend and walk back home for some homemade chocolate chip cookies and tea with my friend Sandrine. It’s pouring rain, it’s grey and my nose is cold; I’m happy!!!

hanging out on a rainy day

 

Neve Tzedek

 

Neve Tzedek

 

organic carrots

 

Neve Tzedke

 

Neve Tzedek

 

Neve Tzedek

 

Neve Tzedek Deli

 

Neve Tzedek

 

Tel Aviv on a rainy day

 

rainy day in tel aviv

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 256th Birthday

sewing costumes
Elli posing as MaryAnn Mozart to celebrate her brother Wolfgang Amadeus' 256th birthday.

Elli was asked by her school music teacher Tatiana to help celebrate the 256th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Elli would be his sister MaryAnn. So two days before the school celebration, Elli asked me to make her a dress, not just any dress, but a time period dress of the eighteenth century! I looked up at her without a smile on my face because I wasn’t sure how I felt about this task. On the one hand, I haven’t been into sewing lately and this was going to be a lot of work but on the other hand, I love creating costumes and I didn’t want to miss a chance to be “a good mom”.  I squinted my eyes at Elli and gave her a “we’ll see” response, a non-commital-I’ll try, but don’t get angry if it doesn’t happen answer.

time period dress
Handing out candy at the Mozart birthday celebration

I tried to get into the mood to sew a  gown from the 1700’s, so I turned the radio to a  classical music station, looked up costumes from the 1700’s  and I cleaned up my studio so that I could find everything I needed. I vowed not to buy one single thing to make the dress since I have so many supplies left over from my store; I also decided to break the job up into two parts so it didn’t feel like such a big endeavor. I had made a wig that fit the time period from a previous project and I had an petticoat sewn together already, two important pieces that I didn’t need to make! The first day, I slid the plastic covered metal boning into the grooves of the petticoat; this made the dress “poof” out. I dug out a roll of fabric and other sewing supplies to make the dress. I made a pattern to fit Elli and I cut out the pattern pieces from the fabric. I basted it all together so I could fit it to Elli when she got home from school in the evening. I was having fun designing and sewing the Mozart dress, I guess I had missed this work more than I thought.

costumes
Cinched, back detail of the Mozart dress.

The only fabric that I had enough of at home was a pretty cotton print with tiny pink roses and grey stripes. I think the cotton fabric made the costume more of a day dress rather than a fancy “occation” dress.

ruffled bodice detail
The ruffled bodice detail of the Mozart dress

On the second day, I made alterations to the bodice, I made the bodice lining and sewed all the pieces together. I had Elli try on the dress again after she got home from school……it fit! In the evening, the day before the event, I sewed lace around the neck, sleeves and along the bottom of the petticoat I sewed the ruffles on by hand because the metal boning (rods) prevented me from sewing it on the sewing machine. One of the harder parts of finishing the dress was ironing it; it consisted of 6.5 yards of cotton that the cat tried to pounce on every time I adjusted the dress on the ironing board. Voila, it was finished.

sewing
cotton and ruffles

The morning of the event, as the girls were getting ready for school, I was organizing everything to go.  I was planning on going to school to help Elli into the costume and wig and to “of course” photograph everything. My oldest daughter asked me what I thought I was doing, she tried to pursuade me not to come to school to help Elli. “But why not?” I innocently asked her, knowing full well that a parental presence at school was taboo, an unimaginable embarrassment to all teenagers. “Don’t worry” I told her, “I’ll wear one of my felted masks and no one will know it’s me!” “Oh Gawwwwd Mama, she whined.

sewing costumes
Elli is acting the part

I continued to gather everything we needed for the Mozart event. I had the wig, the ruff (fancy neck-piece) for Mozart himself, Elli’s shoes to go with the costume, the petticoat, my camera….I asked Elli where the dress was. “I put it in my bag” she said. She had stuffed the giant dress, all 6.5 yards of cotton and lace into a  4″ x 12″ bag. I screamed, Oh my God get the dress out of the bag NOW! I pulled it out quickly and thankfully it hadn’t been in the bag long enough to wrinkle too badly, I lovingly placed it in a garment bag. I was now ready to drive to school to help Elli get ready, document the Mozart event and embarrass my girls to death!!!

reading at Mozart event
Mozart (Nir) and his sister MaryAnn (Elli) reading in French and Hebrew at the Mozart birthday celebration.

At the Lycee Franco Israelien school, my girls pretended not to know me as I photograph the short but cute celebration. I’m glad that the school’s music teacher Tatiana Potapeiko is so passionate about music and makes the effort to try to pass on her enthusiasm and knowledge to the students! Merci Tatiana!

sewing costumes
MaryAnn Mozart handing candy to Lili Levitas.

Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , born in Salzburg, Austria (part of the Holy Roman Empire at the time) (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a composer of symphonies, concerts, chamber, opera and choral music of the classical era.  Talented from an early age, he entertained royalty and composed over 600 pieces; his work was very influential to Western music.

celebrating Mozart's birthday
France Bessis (the director) thanks Tatiana Potapeiko (the music teacher), Elli Levitas (MaryAnn Mozart) and Nir Kaner (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) for the Mozart birthday celebration.

Gnome Watch

gnome art
Emili made gnome art with lyrics for me

I have in the last few years been introduced to Scandinavian-European style gnomes; coming from the United States, my gnome exposure has been limited to the garden gnome variety that came into being after WWII. I’ve made quite a few of these friendly fellows and gals in the last few years, I’m not sure what it is about these magical, diminutive friends of all animals that makes them so likable.  I’ve started seeing gnomes everywhere!

handmade gnome accessories
The gnome beard that his mother made with my instructions

I received an e-mail asking how I made my gnome costume beards and this was Erin’s result, a very creative mother! Erin made her children’s gnome costumes and trick or treat bags; the big gnome’s owl is a trick or treat bag and the little girl gnome’s mushroom is a trick or treat bag, an inch worm is the handle! The gnome baby cracks me up!

gnomes are everywhere
Gnome children (for Halloween) by Erin from Inkberry Designs

I found gnome candles, gnome spoons and wine stoppers.

gnome watch
Little gnome candles

I found gnomes hanging out at the mall; there’s a magical fairy store in Tel Aviv with gnome and fairy figurines.

gnome on a mushroom
Gnome waiting at the mall (probably while his wife shops)

Here are garden gnomes at the flower stand. I always think of England when I think of garden gnomes and I always think of my friend Liz when I think of England, just saying!

gnome watch
Gnomes at the flower stand

Happy as a Duck in Water

needle felted ducks
Needle felted Mama and baby ducks

Today is a day meant for a duck……and me, a dreary, rainy, chilly day in Tel Aviv. These rainy days are my favorite, I’m not a sun-goddess, thus Tel Aviv is a challenge for me, being so sunny and all. These rainy days are snugly, contemplative and they remind me of home and ducks!

needle felted baby ducks
"Wait for me", cried the smallest duckling!

As a child, my grandfather Perkinson used to bring magical things to my brother, sister and I  from his farm. He brought us fruits from his persimmon tree that my mom made into persimmon pudding (delicious!), butter made from a churn, big dried gourds that he had made into bird houses or drinking cups, arrow heads he found in the ground while building fences, petrified wood he found in the streams along with lizards and turtles and one day he brought ducks to us and my life long love for these birds began!

pet ducks
Ten year old me and some of my pet ducks

I had a lot of pet ducks as a kid, Muscovies and Mallards mostly, they started off living in the corner of our kitchen; my mom boxed off an area where they could live till they were big enough to venture outside and fend for themselves.

wool toys
Wait for me!

They “peeped” for the first few months of their lives, fuzzy and yellow. After they were bigger and they started to resemble small ducks instead of yellow dust bunnies with legs, they moved outside into a pen that my dad built for them next to our house, but they were like loud little “watch dogs”.  My ducks quacked at visitors, strangers and cars that pulled up into the driveway; eventually my dad rebuilt a bigger pen at the back of our property (far from our house) for my loud pets. I played with my ducks every day. They followed me around like a swarm of bees, if I stopped for a moment they were all over me looking for food and this made me laugh, I loved my ducks. They quacked when they saw me coming because they knew they were going to get fed;  as they ate the corn and grains that I brought for them, I played in the tall grasses that grew inside of their pen. I built a fort in a corner of the duck pen and barefoot and covered in mosquito bites, I pretended for hours, my ducks being bit players in my many imaginative scenarios. These duck memories have followed me through my life and ducks have always been one of my favorite birds/pets.

needle felted ducks
Follow me kids!

 

When I wrote my first book, Sew Magical for Baby, I included my favorite toy designs, one of which was my Mama and Baby Ducks stuffed animals. These funny, lovable toys are a big favorite with kids and adults! You can find the sewing pattern for my fabric ducks in my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/listing/83311945/pattern-mama-and-baby-ducks

laura lee burch sewing
Mama and Baby Duck from Sew Magical for Baby