A Hanukkah wreath?!

When you hear the word “wreath” what do you think of? I immediately think of the popular Christmas decorations that are suddenly everywhere the day after Thanksgiving.  But here’s the thing… though they have taken on that connotation in modern America, wreaths have a deep history across time and the globe.  And what I have realized is that coming home to a wreath on my door is like being greeted with a nice warm smile and it makes me happy.  At Rosh Hashanah I put up a pomegranate wreath.  At Halloween, I had a monster face wreath.  For November, I have enjoyed my sweet felt flower wreath.  And now that we are entering the dark time of year and it’s almost Hanukkah, I wanted something even more fun and cheerful.  But sadly, a quick google search for “hanukkah wreath” turns up almost nothing but a few wreaths made of blue and silver ornaments (note to stores – round ornaments are pretty Christmassy even if you make them in “Hanukkah colors”).  So, what’s a girl to do?  Make something of course!

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A touch of Hiddur Mitzvah

[Disclosure: This post contains some Amazon affiliate links for certain items.]

I am back!  Well truly I haven’t gone anywhere but I have been far too busy mamaleh-ing to be blogging. That’s just the truth. I craft and create but adding the layer of writing and photographing (especially in the mess that is my craftroom) has just exceeded my daily allotment of quiet hours. Two year olds are busy bees and they want to do whatever mom is doing!  So, it’s currently nap time in my house, or rather was until a minute ago, and I have a few minutes to share a simple and sweet creation with you.

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Not Your Kid’s Hanukkah Countdown! L’Chaim!

sealedbagswm-copy

If you look around at all of the Advent calendars out there, there are just as many designed for adults as there are for kids. But, in the land of Hanukkah decor, it seems that most of the designers seem to think only little kids celebrate Hanukkah. So last year I decided to make my husband his very own Hanukkah Countdown for each night of Hanukkah.

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Pretty pomegranates

pomegranate decor

I am still here, really. Just a bit sleep deprived and in that new baby daze. You know what feels like a super fun outing with a new baby? A trip to Target! With my baby napping away in the carrier, I was able to browse just a little and guess what I found? The perfect vignette for mantle or table for the High Holidays. Pomegranates have special symbolism in Judaism and are often associated with the new year in particular. Now I had hoped to get this posted in time that maybe you could have used it for Sukkot but alas, baby mode got in the way.  But don’t let that stop you, these are still available at Target and would still look great for fall, Tu B’Shevat or to be set aside for 5777.

pomegranate decor

The contrasting textures of the ceramic pomegranate (which has a small opening so you can put a single stem in some water), the solid red one and the wood grain are really fun.  And thanks to my slowness in posting, they are now on clearance so be quick in your shopping!  I just spotted some similar figs (also a very Jewish symbol) on sale too so maybe I’ll have to honor Tu B’Shevat a bit more this year with some decor. Hope to be back again soon (pray for some good napping) with some extreme baby cuteness and a tutorial on how to add a little Hebrew to your birth announcements!  Stay tuned!

A Very Jewish Summer Day 2: Shabbat Alfresco by Chai& Home

Welcome to Day 2 of A Very Jewish Summer.  Hope you joined us yesterday for Yenta Mamas fabulous dinosaur cookies.

Today, Dena, from Chai & Home, (and the lovely host of this blogging party), has some elegant summer Shabbat style for you.  Chai & Home is a style blog and source book for elegant Jewish living.  There you’ll find lots of inspiration to beautify your observance and really, just day-to-day life.  I love all of the ideas and finds both on the blog and on Chai & Home’s Pinterest boards.

I don’t know about you, but I love having Shabbat dinner on the porch and today’s post from Chai & Home really makes me want to step it up a notch.  So, head on over and check out the lovely Alfresco Orange Shabbat Dena has created.  You’ll be glad you did.  And stay tuned tomorrow for my post featuring (Jewish) Camp Care packages as a A Very Jewish Summer continues!

Happy Blogoversary To Me!

Shalom and sorry for being so quiet lately.  Hope you had a lovely Passover!  We’ve had a crazy couple of weeks in our house that included saying a sudden goodbye to our beloved dog, Smokey Bear.  So, amidst all of that, I just haven’t felt all that crafty or articulate enough to write about some of the projects I’ve been waiting to share. But, a year ago today is when I welcomed you with my very first Made by Mamaleh post so I couldn’t let today pass without a little crafty goodness.

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Quick MLK Day Crafting: DIY Custom Kitchen Art

DIY Kitchen Art

It’s MLK Day and I’ve been home with a cold all day.  My son got a couple extra episodes of BusyTown today.  Not a very fun way to spend a day off. I was feeling a tad better this afternoon so decided to do a little quick crafting.  I’ve been wanting a little piece of art for the shelf in our breakfast nook (same room with the giant NOSH letters on the wall) and after spending a while visualizing it in my head (often a very long process), I was finally ready to just knock it out.  I love it!  Exactly what I wanted!

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Kid-Friendly Tu B’Shevat Mini Art

Tu B'Shevat Mini Canvas Art

Tu B’Shevat is one of those Jewish holidays that many of us probably don’t even realize is happening unless we are looking at our Jewish calendar or have kids in religious school.  A minor holiday, literally the 15th of the month of Shevat, Tu B’Shevat celebrates the New Year of the Trees.  (And, just a little known fact, it’s actually one of four new years observed on the Jewish calendar.  In Israel, Tu B’Shevat is much like Arbor Day in the U.S. and is marked by the planting of trees and ecological awareness.  In Jewish tradition, Tu B’Shevat is often marked with a seder (or ritual meal) where fruits and nuts symbolic of Israel are eaten.

For the first time in my life, we’re actually talking about Tu B’Shevat in our house:  My son’s Sammy Spider calendar has a nice recipe for trail mix and a picture of a tree.  His preschool class is having a seder.  We’ve been reading our PJ Library books about the holiday.  Our temple’s Young Families’ group (of which I’m co-chair) is having a special brunch.  So, with all of that going on, I felt like we needed to make a little something since what’s a holiday without a little a decoration.  I wanted something kid-friendly to make yet also polished enough to sit out on my mantel and look sharp.

A while back, during one of my craft store runs (probably Michael’s), I came across these cute mini canvases and got a couple of sizes as well as a mini easel, thinking that they’d be great for changing holidays/seasons.  So, I decided to take the 4×4 canvas and create a little mini Tu B’Shevat art with my son’s help of course.

Tu B'Shevat Kid-Friendly Art

First step was to find just the right tree in the Silhouette Online Store to cut out with my Cameo.  Now, if you don’t have a die-cutter, don’t worry, I am sure you could easily find a pre-cut tree at the craft store or you could freehand one with scissors or an exacto.   I chose this tree branch lace and then using Silhouette Studio I erased the edges and size it to fit my canvas. Next, I cut it out of Paper Trey Ink Dark Chocolate cardstock.  I then coated the mini canvas with Matte Mod Podge using a foam brush and applied the tree, trimming the edges as necessary.  Once it was all lined up, I painted more Mod Podge on top completely covering the tree and allowed it to dry.  The application of the Mod Podge is a totally kid friendly activity since there is no precision required, just make sure the canvas is covered.

TU B'Shevat Art Canvas

Shades of Green (from left to right): Martha Stewart Mint Chip Pearl, Martha Stewart Scottish Highlands High Gloss, Martha Stewart Putting Green Pearl & Folk Art Citrus Green

For the next step, I selected four different shades and finishes of acrylic paint since I wanted depth of color and texture.  To apply the leaves, rather than have my son dip his finger in the paint (and get too much on), I applied it to his finger using a foam brush and then let him fingerprint the leaves.  No special order, just mix up how often you print each color. We both took turns doing this and going all over the top of the tree as well as the top and sides of the canvas.

Kid-Friendly Tu B'Shevat Mini Canvas

Once the tree was filled in, I left this to dry for a bit as I worked on the final piece, a die-cut banner that said “Happy Tu B’Shevat!” which I created using the print and cut feature in Silhouette Studio on kraft cardstock.  I then positioned this where I wanted it using the Mod Podge and gave the whole piece a couple more coats to finish it off and ta-da: kid-friendly, yet simple and chic mini-canvas decor for Tu B’Shevat for year’s to come!

Kid-Friendly Tu B'Shevat Canvas

Shalom to the world! {& a giveaway}

Happy 4th Night of Hanukkah! It seems like there has been a lot of discussion online lately on Hanukkah trying to compete with Christmas so let me just say, no, Hanukkah is NOT the Jewish Christmas.  But, it does fall during the darkest time of year when everyone is just looking to add a little light and cheer to their life. So, why not get into the decorating spirit a bit?  Last year as I looked through the latest Pottery Barn catalog, bummed by the limited Hanukkah offerings, I noticed these cute word stocking holders spelling out “JOY” and couldn’t help but think how festive they looked.

I wondered if there a Jewish word that would look equally cute and cheerful on my mantel to add a little fun to my menorah display? And then it came to me: “SHALOM.”  Of course I had a vision for what it would look like and since that wasn’t available pre-fab, I would have to DIY.

Shalom Letters I managed to find some nice white wood letters at Joann or Michael’s that stood nicely on their own.  First, I removed all the labels – the ones I bought last year were a major pain and I had to use nail polish remover for the labels and pliers for the hang tags but the ones I got this year were much improved and the labels and tags came right off.  I tried to just go straight to the glitter paint but quickly found that coverage wasn’t the solid look I was going for.  So, next, I gave them a good coat of silver spray paint on all sides.  Once the spray paint was dry, I used a foam brush to apply 2-3 coats of Martha Stewart Antique Silver Acrylic Paint to get a nice glittery coating.   Here’s a picture of it on my mantel last Hanukkah (note the decorative glass dreidels scattered about too). This year the letters are a bit more spread out in a slightly different arrangement.

Shalom Hanukkah Mantel Decoration

Now if only I could finish a set for my best friend before Hanukkah is over!  But, even if I don’t, the beauty of the word “Shalom” though is that really you could use it for many (any?) Jewish holidays (I think it’d be  especially nice for Passover) or even all year round.  Since the letters are all separate, you can maneuver them to fit your other decor however you want!

Want to make a set for yourself?  Or maybe you’ve been inspired to make something else?  Well, as a little Hanukkah treat, I’m giving away a Michael’s gift card ($18 of course!).  Just leave a comment here and tell me what crafty supplies you’d use it for by Sunday, December 16th at 6pm PST.  Extra entries for 1) liking Made by Mamaleh on Facebook and/or 2) following the blog via email.  Just leave an additional comment for each one.  If you are already a follower then you automatically get extra entries (just be sure to leave comments for each).  This giveaway is open to US residents only – sorry to my friends abroad!