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

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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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Calendar time!

After spending time at my synagogue board retreat yesterday and with my little one on the verge of starting kindergarten, it is all too apparent that fall is about to sneak up on me.  Last year’s Jewish calendar that functions as our family calendar in the kitchen is about to become obsolete and I haven’t even ordered a new one yet so it’s time to shop!  So in Mamaleh-tradition, here is my round-up of this year’s calendar picks.

This year we have a little breathing room since Rosh Hashanah doesn’t start until the evening of September 24th!  For those that don’t know, the Jewish calendar follows a lunar calendar. Although secular calendars these days try to include the Jewish holidays, they often only include the major ones and often confuse when they actually start and end.  So, I like to have at least one Jewish calendar in the house so that I always know when the holidays are. Some even provide details like candle-lighting and Torah portions. Ours hangs in the kitchen for daily reference and use as a family calendar.  There also happen to be some gorgeous ones out there that add a nice little Judaic flare to your wall. You can also give one as a fabulous Rosh Hashanah hostess gift if you are lucky enough to have someone cooking for you! So, once again, I am sharing with you my picks for a 5775 Jewish calendar:

My yearly pick hasn’t changed from last year (shockingly) and will probably always be the Jewish Art Calendar by Mickie Caspi.  You can see each piece of artwork featured on Caspi’s website.  I LOVE Mickie Caspi.  She sort of reminds me of a Jewish Mary Engelbreit in terms of the warmth and cheer of her art.  We gave both sets of parents her parents’ gifts when we got married and her artwork is simply beautiful.

I was holding out hope that they would have an updated Sammy Spider kids’ Jewish calendar like the one we bought a couple of years ago for my son.  But, alas they don’t, so if you are looking for a Jewish calendar specifically geared towards kids, the pickings are slim.  There is  My Very Own Jewish Calendar which might work for you but it doesn’t really jump out at me.  The art in the Malcah Zeldis Celebrations calendar seems equally appealing to both kids and adults so it might be a good family pick and frankly may give my standard pick a run for its money this year.

 

If you need something a bit more portable or to keep on your desk, check out The Jewish Museum’s Jewish Engagement Calendar.  I got this one last year for blog scheduling purposes and sadly did not follow-through as much as I would have liked but may give it another go.  It has good daily space for writing.

Another portable option seems to be the Executive Jewish Calendar but this doesn’t really look like it packs much pizzazz although it does have a decent amount of room inside to visualize a month at a time and take it to board or committee meetings.

For something totally different, check out this gorgeous tea towel calendar by Barbara Shaw – if you had a place big enough to hang it, it could be a really cool calendar alternative.  It’s so cool, I’m sort of wondering where I could make it work!  Modern Tribe also has a couple of other gorgeous Israeli-designed one-page calendars that are worth taking a look at as well.

Hope this helps you start to prepare for the new year just a little!  Have you seen any other great calendars out there?  Please share if you have!  And if you want to get a jump on some super easy but sweet decorations to ring in the new year, you can always check out these Shana Tova printables from 2013 and 2012.  And be sure to check back tomorrow – it’s my double-chai birthday so I’ve got a little present for a lucky reader out there to help me celebrate!

Shabbat Shalom!

Watercolors!

First of all, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamalehs out there!  Second, sorry I have been MIA for a while but I’ve just busy with work and life.  I am trying to remember that a little creativity helps keep me going.  I have this print hanging in my craft room/office and it is the darn truth!

I have been missing my creative mojo lately, so I needed a little inspiration to kick my butt into gear and get the wheels turning again. Having seen so many watercolor projects in the online papercrafting scene lately, I decided to sign up for Watercolor for Cardmakers with Online Card Classes.

The quantity and quality of instructional material has really surprised and impressed me – each day there are 3-4 fantastic videos as well as printable step-by-step instructions and detailed supply lists linking to all of the materials.  In addition, there is an online gallery to share your creations and a forum to ask questions.  One cool thing about this format is that you can go at your own pace; the other day I started a video, got interrupted by my son and just went back to it later. Another day I didn’t even have time to watch so just doubled up the next day.  The ability to do it on my schedule has been fantastic.  And you have access to the videos when class is no longer in-session so you can always go back and watch them again. For $25 it is seriously a ton of information and really fun!

There have been so many amazing techniques on display this week swirling around in my head.  So, yesterday a friend, who I convinced to take the class with me, came over and we just played around.  Now I have even more ideas!  Here’s what the craft table looked like when we were finished:

Crafting mess

First up is my take on the very first card from class which utilizes a technique involving watercolors and a stencil.  I am pretty happy with the result and plan to make more variations of this.

Watercolor stencil card madebymamaleh

Supplies used: Paper Source Peacock Cover, Amuse Studio Happy Birthday To You (from Birthday Greetings), Versafine Majestic Blue, Fabriano Cold Press Studio Watercolor Paper, Memory Box Disperse stencil, Angora watercolors, foam tape, ribbon, Silhouette tag file

Next up I decided to try the technique that involved placing color directly on a stamp with a dye marker and then spritzing with water before stamping. At first glance, I didn’t think I could do this technique since I don’t have any Distress markers but then it got me thinking about my neglected Le Plumes so I decided to give those a try and was so happy with the result, I ended up doing a color chart (as you can see in the mess photo above).

Watercolor technique card madebymamalehSupplies used: Bazzill Basics Cardstock in Midnight, Flower stamp – Silhouette 3 by Impression Obsession, Sentiment by Savvy, Delicata Golden Glitz ink, Marvy Le Plume II markers, Wink of Stella Clear brush pen, foam tape.

I loved this result so much I decided to make a gift set using Fabriano 3×5 notecards which are really gorgeous cards with a lovely deckled edge. I used a mix of Le Plume colors and did both first and second impressions (not reinking but just spraying again).  For a few, I subbed Tsukineko Shimmer Spritz for water and it may just be my new favorite product ever. It’s like a fairy just landed on your paper and sprinkled it with fine fairy dust.  I must confess, I do have a bit of a sparkle obsession.

Watercolor cards madebymamalehWatecolor cards 2nd impression madebymamalehWatercolor cards 1st impression

Supplies used: Fabriano cards, Marvy Le Plume markers, Wink of Stella Pen, Tsukineko Shimmer Spritz.

Then I wrapped it up with a little twine bow and tag (retired Amuse sentiment in Delicata gold) all ready for my aunt’s bday (a tad late but made with love).

Card gift set madebymamaleh

I am having so much fun with these techniques so don’t be surprised if I pop back later with a few more to share in the class galleries!

 

Popping by to say Happy Purim!

Printable labels for Purim treats

It’s been WAAAAYYYY too long and I do apologize!  Life has simply happened and I have been busy trying to keep up.  I’m still here just not crafting as much as I’d like at the moment.  But with Purim almost here (it starts Saturday night), it’s time to think about some Purim goodies!  You might recall that last year after my son got lots of Valentine’s treats, I opted to make some fun mini mishloach manot instead.  So, I decided to do the same thing again this year and since his pre-K class is on the smaller side, I decided to treat the kids to one of my favorite (and quite novel) Israeli sweets: Elite Milk Chocolate with Popping Candies, or in other words a chocolate bar with pop rocks!  If you’ve never tried these, you are missing out!  I must confess to you that when my husband (who back then was my boyfriend) and I did Birthright back in 2005, we came back with so many of these in our suitcase, I’m pretty sure the El Al agents had a good laugh at our expense.  There are several places you can order these online but the prices are definitely higher than what you’d find in Israel or even locally.  I was so excited when I discovered our local Safeway started carrying them, especially in Seattle!

Mini Mishloach Manot for Purim

So, in order to put together these cute mini mishloach manot, I designed some simple label wraps in Publisher and printed them on vellum for a fun look (my son was very intrigued that you could see through the paper). But really any paper or light-weight cardstock would work equally well.  Each is 2.5 inches wide so you’ll get 4 per standard 8.5×11 sheet of paper – there are no cut lines just start from the left and cut every 2.5 inches.  Once they are printed and cut, address them (as you can see my son is working on writing all of his letters) and use some cute washi tape to secure them in back and you have some adorable Purim treats.  You can download the label wraps for yourself for some last-minute Purim printables.

These would also work well used as an addition to a traditional Purim basket of goodies.  If you are looking for ideas in that department, two of my favorite Jewish blogs, Chai & Home and Design Megillah each have some darling ideas!  What about you?  Are you putting together any purim goodies?

Happy Purim!

From Cheap to Chic

I’m back!  Not sure where the time has gone but it’s been way too long since I’ve posted and I do apologize.  If you’ve stuck around despite my absence, thank you ever so much!  I can’t believe that November is here and that Hanukkah is right around the corner.  It starts the evening of November 27th which means it is just over 3 weeks away!  So time to start shopping and/or crafting some gifts!  Today’s project is one that would be perfect for Hanukkah or really any gift-worthy occasion.

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It’s Time for A New Jewish Calendar, Again!

I can’t believe that Rosh Hashanah starts the evening of September 4th!  It’s coming up so quickly and I have so many projects still floating around in my head and we’ve been dealing with a bunch of, well, life. At least one thing I can take care of pretty easily is ordering my new Jewish calendar to help myself enter the new year organized!

For those that don’t know, the Jewish calendar follows a lunar calendar. Although secular calendars have tried to be more inclusive of Jewish holidays, they often only include the major ones and often confuse when they actually start and end.  So, I like to have at least one Jewish calendar in the house so that I always know when the holidays are. Some even provide details like candle-lighting and Torah portions. Ours hangs in the kitchen for daily reference and use as a family calendar.  There also happen to be some gorgeous ones out there that add a nice little Judaic flare to your wall. You can also give one as a fabulous Rosh Hashanah hostess gift if you are lucky enough to have someone cooking for you! So, once again, I am sharing with you my picks for a 5774 Jewish calendar:

My yearly pick hasn’t changed from last year (shockingly) and will probably always be the Jewish Art Calendar by Mickie Caspi.  You can see each piece of artwork featured on Caspi’s website.  I LOVE Mickie Caspi.  She sort of reminds me of a Jewish Mary Engelbreit in terms of the warmth and cheer of her art.  We gave both sets of parents her parents’ gifts when we got married and her artwork is simply beautiful.

I am super bummed that there is not an updated Sammy Spider kids’ Jewish calendar.  We ordered one for my son last year and it has been fantastic with great monthly projects/stories.  The only saving grace is that the 5773 version actually goes through the end of secular 2013 so I guess we can hold off but I am still bummed nonetheless.

My Very Own Jewish Calendar is seemingly kid-friendly but it’s certainly no Sammy Spider.  But, could be worth a try.

The art featured in Jewish Celebrations: Paintings by Malcah Zeldis offers a lot of vibrant, family imagery that kids and adults alike would enjoy.

If you need something a bit more portable or to keep on your desk, check out The Jewish Museum’s Jewish Engagement Calendar.  I am contemplating this one for blog planning purposes especially.

Another portable option seems to be the Executive Jewish Calendar but this doesn’t really look like it packs much pizzazz although maybe it’s great inside.  Who knows?  Has anyone tried it?

Well, there you have it.  I’m a bit disappointed in the lack of kid options since I think the calendar is a great place to add a little daily dose of Judaism.  Maybe I’ll have to get a head start on next year and start designing a kids’ DIY Jewish calendar (I remember buying one of those for myself in college and loving it – it came with stickers and everything!).  Oh the wheels in my brain are a turnin’…

Hope this helps you start to prepare for the new year just a little!  You can always check out last year’s free printables if you want to get a jump on some super easy but sweet decorations to ring in the new year.  Or check out what I think is the Best Honey Cake Recipe Ever!  And stay tuned for more  new year’s sweetness in the coming weeks!

A Very Jewish Summer Day 3: Camp Care Packages With Love

Welcome to Day 3 of A Very Jewish Summer! I know for many people summer evokes memories of Jewish summer camp and specifically sleep-away camp, your first adventure away from home.  Growing up in Southern Oregon, I never got to experience Jewish summer camp but having gone to college 3,000 miles from home, I know firsthand how much care packages from home mean.  My little one has a way to go before he heads off to camp by himself (though I am very excited we’ll be heading to Jewish family camp at the end of the summer!).  So, since I have several close friends whose kids will be at camp this year I decided to put together a combo of DIY and store-bought goodies to send them a little love from Mamaleh.

Personalized Camp Stationery

First, a little something to send some love back home (and maybe a thank you note to yours truly) : personalized stationery.  I realize we live in the era of email and text but I think there is nothing better than an old-fashioned letter or card.  I decided to give this a Jewish twist by including both English and Hebrew names on the cards.  Using Microsoft Publisher, I created my own custom A2 size (4.25″x5.5″) template and then created a text block at the top, inserting a little symbol in between the English and Hebrew.  (If you need help using hebrew fonts on your computer, or are looking for some stylish ones, check out my earlier post on the subject.) Then I printed these out on a variety of nice cardstock and cut the cards (by making them A2 size, you get 4 cards per 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of cardstock).  I even rounded the corners on some for a little something extra.

DIY Personalized Stationery

To finish off these sets, I paired them with basic A2 envelopes, cute kid-friendly stamps and matching little folders cut from this folder template using Silhouette Chipboard, layered with cardstock and then stamped and embellished with a little glitter glue.  A tip for the folders – be sure to let the glue set after gluing down the tabs on the sides by putting some pressure on it – I used binder clips which worked really well to hold it in place until it dried.  Last, I punched holes and tied them shut with a little piece of ribbon.

Personalized Stationery Set

Besides personalized stationery, I had visions of glow-in-the-dark kippahs for Shabbat and Havdallah under the night sky. This proved a bit trickier than I’d envisioned.  I started with some grey suede kippahs from bestkippah.com (I found this was one of the few places that allowed me to order a single dozen versus the several dozen often ordered for weddings and other mitzvahs).  My original plan was to try some glow-in-the-dark heat transfer vinyl  but it wouldn’t stick to the suede so using my Silhouette  for something more intricate was out.

DIY kippah

Next, I tried a glow in the dark fabric marker – it worked on my first test kippah (above) but when I went to try it again the next day, it didn’t want to write on the suede, not exactly sure why, it was almost as if the nap of the suede prevented it from writing properly.  Besides, it didn’t have the same glow factor as my third choice: glow-in-the-dark dimensional fabric paint.  This is a bit tricky to apply because you may get a few bubbles or globs as you are squeezing it but if you go slow, it’s not too bad.  Here are the kippahs I came up with (and yes, one is for a girl, gotta be egalitarian):

DIY glow-in-the-dark kippahs

The result isn’t exactly what I was hoping for but I think it’s still fun and I am planning to go back over some areas to fill them in a bit more.  I know from experience that putting too thick a layer of dimensional paint can prevent it from properly drying so going back over it after it’s completely dry is definitely the way to go.  I also may keep my eye out for other colors of glow-paint to add a touch of color before I send these off.  Most importantly though, they definitely glow in the dark (I tried to get a photo of this but it proved way too difficult), so hopefully they will be a hit with these kiddos!

Finally, I did a lot of searching for just the right store-bought additions to these care packages, a little bit of something for everyone:

Camp Care Packages Mini Camp Bunk Box of Questions for some late night chit-chat fun; Girls World of Doodles – I must admit that I kinda wish I could keep this for myself just to spur my own creativity; Mr. Sketch Markers to use for doodling; Finger flashlights for late night reading or silliness, enough to share with the whole cabin; Mad Libs – these were one of my faves on long car trips so I figured they’d be great for camp as well: Lego Star Wars Mad Libs and Summer Fun Mad Libs Junior and finally the yiddish-named build-a-bagel card game Schmear which looks like a lot of fun!

Hope I’ve inspired you to be crafty and creative with your summer camp care packages this year.  If you aren’t feeling crafty or if you’re short on time, you can always opt to send one from somewhere that specializes in camp care packages like The Wrinkled Egg or Sealed With a Kiss.  One final thought, be sure to check what your camp’s care package policies are before sending – most don’t allow food and as a result will open things that are not obvious, hence I am not doing any sort of wrapping.  I can’t wait to pack up all of these goodies and send them off!  What about you? Are you planning on sending any care packages this summer?  What are you including?

That wraps up Day 3 of a A Very Jewish Summer, hope you are enjoying the party so far!  If you are just joining us for this blogging party, be sure to check out what you’ve missed so far –  we started out with the lovely dinosaur cookies by Yenta Mamas for a prehistoric Shabbat treat followed by a lovely Shabbat Alfresco tablescape by Chai & Home and tomorrow we’ll be treated to a yummy recipe from Busy in Brooklyn.  So stay tuned as a Very Jewish Summer continues!

Pesach is Coming Giveaway!

Oy!  Passover is less than a month away and I still haven’t recovered from all of our Purim fun just yet (and to add to that I have spent the day with a sick kid shuttling between doc and pharmacies). I can’t even pull it together to give you a little Purim costume recap/crafty info today (but for a quick preview check out my new FB profile pic.

But, I have a little something fun to help you start gearing up for Passover, particularly those of you with a little one arriving soon (or friends or family with a bub on the way). Ima Design Imports is back and would love to send one reader their adorable Baby’s 1st Passover onesie, perfect seder attire for your babe in arms or the perfect gift for the new addition to the family. To enter, all you must do is either 1) pin the image of the Baby’s First Passover bodysuit or 2) sign up for Ima Design Imports mailing list . Then, after you’ve done this, just leave a comment below.  Extra entries are available for each of the following (just be sure to leave a comment for each):

2) Subscribe to Made by Mamaleh via email or RSS
You have until 11:59 PM PST on Wednesday March 6th to enter.  Winner will be drawn at random.  Giveaway is only open to U.S. residents.  Good luck!
In the meantime, if you need some kid-friendly Passover ideas to start your Passover planning, check out last year’s A Very Toddler Passover.

Mini Mishloach Manot

Preschool Mischloach Manot for Purim

It’s time for Purim and we are really celebrating in our house this year!  We are kicking off things off with my son’s preschool parade (he goes to the JCC) today, then we’ve got our synagogue megillah reading (complete with super-hero theme) Saturday night and finally to top it all off our big temple carnival on Sunday!  I have one very excited 3 1/2 year old boy who’s been gearing up all week working on a grogger, hamantaschen and mishloach manot.

Now, as you know from my previous posts, I don’t have an issue with Jews choosing to celebrate Valentine’s Day and I myself love it.  But, I will admit that I was a bit surprised to find so many valentines in my child’s cubby at the JCC since the past couple of years it hasn’t really made an appearance and isn’t something the school recognizes.  I suspect this year’s increase was a combination of older sibs in public school, keeping up with peers and just a general desire to celebrate.  So, I decided that rather than join this trend, we’d give everyone a little something for Purim since, after all, it’s one of the holiday’s mitzvot to give gifts of food to friends.

Technically, the idea is to give food so that everyone has enough for a Purim feast but in essence, the idea is to share love and harmony and we are talking preschoolers here.  So, I decided to come up with my own mini mishloach manot (think class valentines meet Purim) that we could put in everyone’s cubby.  Now, I realize hamantaschen are the traditional Purim food and I do love me some tasty hamantaschen – for my fave recipe, check out Martha’s hamantaschen dough and add your favorite jams, lemon curd or cherry pie filling.  But, for this project I decided on bright, cheerful mini Unicorn pops.

Clear stamps for Purim

A while ago, I bought this great clear set from Amuse Art Stamps that just said Purim parade to me (note: the line is now discontinued, sorry).  I used these stamped simply in black ink on a variety of  3 1/2 x5 colored cardstock, wrote “Happy Purim!”, made a slit with my Exacto and then taped the lollipop to the card, making it look like the noisemaker being sounded by the little boy.  The perfect mini preschool mishloach manot!  Happy Purim!

Preschool Hand-stamped Mishloach Manot