Hi! I’m still here, busier than ever even though you haven’t heard from me. I’ve been itching to do some felting but I’ve been working on my lullubee craft kits site (www.lullubee.com) , trying to prepare projects at least 6 months in advance. I flew to NYC last week to do a little business and to present lullubee on a morning t.v. show in Dayton, Ohio. When I returned to Israel, I had to continue with our annual Halloween party plans (jet-lagged) and finish my daughter’s costume for the party; she was the Corpse Bride. The party went well (according to the kids); there were many more kids this year because Elli wanted to invite both sides of her class (Israeli and French). Just remember, when decorating for Halloween, everything is scarier with lot of spiders and rats sprinkled over it. Here are a few highlights from the party:
I picked up a few Styrofoam tomb stones at a Halloween super store in NYC; I thought they worked nicely in the “garden”.
Once you enter, all the furniture has been covered in white sheets to give it that haunted house look. With the addition of a few black lights and a little eerie music, the illusion worked really well.
I like to add a lot of little details like this “horrible” bloody utensil garland, spiders, crows, cobwebs, changing portraits and dripping blood.
I picked up these changing portraits at Michaels Crafts. It appears to be a normal portrait, till you look at it in a different angle-Love it!
I didn’t have time to make the Halloween treats like last years, but we had a few things on the table that I think you’d think twice about eating or drinking…
The drink labels we put on the soft drinks were pretty funny, but I’m afraid most of the humor was lost to Hebrew and French speakers.
I put some of the props we have into glass jars filled with water and food coloring for a most “unappetizing” table of treats!
The brain jello mold is one of my favorite tools for Halloween food (it’s mostly a prop because no one eats it); those darned kids couldn’t keep their fingers out of it! I serve it with the desert saw.
I made a box shaped like a coffin and filled it with Halloween candy.
We all love Halloween around my house, but Elli and I love it the most! I love the creativity in the decorating and costumes and Elli likes the drama of it all and doing scary make-up.
Many of my friends have told me that I am very disciplined as far as work is concerned and I tend to agree, but it’s not easy. Everyday I get up, get the girls off to school, clean up, do the dishes, start a load of laundry, clean the cat box and do other sundry jobs like perhaps going to the post office to send out Etsy purchases or pick craft supplies that I’ve ordered from abroad. After the little daily jobs are finished, it’s down to work for me creating art. My husband teases me as he leaves for work in the morning “I wished I could stay home everyday, don’t eat too many bon-bons!” and I ignore him and try to put myself in creative mode.
Being serious about creating for a living means not going out for coffee with friends a lot during the day, not watching t.v. (not a problem for me) not being distracted by housework, phone calls, taking Hebrew or French lessons (which I should be doing) or other odd jobs that need being done around the house and the list goes on. Keep your eye on the ball and your nose to the grind stone as they say. I need to keep my concentration, to be in a good mood and most of all I need long periods of time and Inspiration to make art. I’ve written about this before, but it’s an on-going search. My long term goals have a lot to do with the energy that I need to plow through the daily distractions and continue to make art for a living. It can get fairly depressing and start to feel like I’m running around in circles and what’s the point if I create things all day and no one notices or buys them. I need to feel that I’ve accomplished a task to feel good and not like I’m “staying home from school and playing” My goals and accomplishments keep me going: Etsy and local store sales, book deals, teaching jobs, my handsome website and plans for future needle felting exhibitions give me strength.
Recently, I took my youngest daughter Emili on a mother-daughter trip, we went to Rome, Italy for a week! I’ve made it a tradition to take my girls on mother-daughter trips, the one on one time with my girls is priceless, the adventure is forever memorable and the photos and inspiration that I get from it is good for my soul. Emili chose to go to Rome, I think because she has been studying Rome in school and maybe because spaghetti, pizza and ice cream are three of her favorite foods! She has several Italian friends in school, so we received lists of the most interesting places to go the best places to eat, maps and valuable travel info. from them-thanks Marcello!
Our favorite time to venture out was mid-day; we shopped, walked around, ate and talked as the sun began to weaken and the best time of the day for Emili and I was seeing the sights as the sun began to set. All the touristy sights were packed with people (not my scene) in the early part of the day, it’s not easy to take great photos when there are throngs of tourists everywhere. But in the evening, St. Peter’s square in the Vatican was empty! and I was thrilled! These long walks afforded us time to talk; Emili and I talked about things that don’t come up on a regular basis at home. Walking through St. Peter’s square and around the Vatican, we talked about religion, it seemed appropriate. Emili had a lot of questions about nuns and priests, about how they dressed, what they believed in and how they were connected to The Vatican. She told me that she and her friends at school have had discussions about religion and religious differences and respecting those differences. I was impressed at this level of discussion for 9 and 10 year olds and the mention of respecting their differences made my heart sing!
We found the small Bertolucci Shop while wandering around the tiny street of Rome; they specialize in wood carving and Pinocchio dolls. This was right up my alley of coarse, I bought I small finely carved Pinocchio for myself. I believe I will needle felt a Pinocchio doll in the future, I’ve always wanted to make one! There was a corner of the store showing the wood carving tools and pieces of wood in different stages of carving, a real artist’s workshop-you don’t see that very often.
After walking around the Piazza Navona area, we started to cross the wide and highly adorned Ponte’ Sant Angelo (one of the bridges with the statues) and Emili started dancing. We were listening to a very talented guitar player, his playing put a pep in our step, we dropped a few coins in his hat because we admired his talent and we continued to boogie across the Tiber River on our way back to our hotel.
I studied in Florence, Italy when I was in university, so Italy has a special place in my heart. Italy was a place of firsts for me and it was a new world that I never knew existed! I’m hoping that our travels will inspire things in my girls. My oldest daughter asked me once why should she read “old classic literature” when she liked “the new stuff” better. The answer to this question was was so obvious to me, that I had a hard time putting my answer into words. But basically, I tried to explain to her that there are a lot of ideas, experiences, thoughts and feelings out there in books and music and foreign cities that have never crossed your young mind and once you find them in one of these places you will be “delighted” and want to seek more.
Classic architecture, crumbly old buildings, ancient, chipping, ochre-colored walls, tiny narrow alleyways, beautiful, tiny shops, tall pointy trees, bumpy, black, cobblestone streets, colorful markets and teeny-tiny cars (all of which Emili had to have her picture taken with) were the sights that delighted us in Rome. It’s good to get away every now and then, away from my daily routine and surroundings, it gives me the time to realize how lucky I am and the chance to make life-long memories. Emili says her favorite part of our trip was the Colusium, because we lied down on a grassy hill outside of it, snuggled up together and took a little nap in the sun after we had roamed around the big circular stadium for a few hours.
After Emili and I had walked, eaten, shopped and sight-seen for the day, we went back to the Casale de Cedri (the ochre colored 19th century villa we stayed at on the outskirts of Rome-owned by an aristocratic family as their summer home). We spent the evening in the living room that over looks the manicured grounds full of vines and flowers, fountains and maze-shaped bushes that Emili described as an Alice and Wonderland type garden. Emili played games and watched Pet Shop videos on my computer, which are her passion right now and I read my book. We sat on the elegant, white sofa together, but every evening, she slowly inched toward me so that our legs touched and our elbows got in each other’s way. I looked over at her because maybe she didn’t realize that she was crowding my space, then she gave me an adoring smile and this was my favorite part of our trip, every evening on the sofa together!
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!
The kitchen is the heart of her home; here we gathered for a light lunch before we headed for the beach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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!”
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…”
The girls and I spent our last day of summer exploring new places; my friend is moving back to Israel and she’s living in a small community a half an hour out of Tel Aviv call Ein Ha Yam. Down the street from her house, we entered a wild beach through grass-covered dunes that looked like Cape Cod to me and we explored the big rocks. The girls collected sea shells and chased baby crabs across the beach; they were hard to see because they were the exact same color as the sand on the beach. This particular beach is the destination of nesting sea turtles.
This desolate, wild beach felt so different to me than the sardine-packed beaches of Tel Aviv. I marveled at the beauty of the nature, the big fluffy clouds, the razor sharp cliffs that dotted the coast and my good fortune that my dear friend is again living near by.
Tomorrow, two of my girls will start school; they’ll be entering junior high and high school. My little one will start school on Monday and I’m hopeful for a new year for them filled with new friends, old friends, new activities, new challenges and a lot of good old fashioned learning! The daily grind will begin again, but I’ll be happy to have a schedule so that I can finally get some work done!