Family Trip to Israel Pt. 2

family-trip-to-israel-pt-2This is a story about baklava, lots of baklava.  During our second week in Israel my husband and I had the opportunity to go on a date.  We NEVER have date nights. So we decided to have a little adventure and find the famous baklava shop in the Wadi Nisnas Market

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I had heard about this place by watching Best Street Food From Around the World on Netflix.  I couldn’t believe they had an episode on Haifa-only Haifa, no Tel Aviv or Jerusalem!  I watched this while I was pregnant with Adam and had the worst sweet tooth-and my husband promised he would take me.  Wadi Nisnas is a nice market, not nearly as impressive as Maheneh Yehuda, but a good size.  It sits on a mountain overlooking the port.  We walked up and down the streets holding hands.  My husband stopped a few people asking them in Hebrew for directions.

When we found the baklava shop we couldn’t believe the variety they had.  Some were cigar shaped, some were squares, some had almonds, some had pistachios-all looked incredible.   The smell of honey perfumed the air as we made our choices, but it was hardly a choice.  We sampled at least two-thirds of the variety the offered.  

My favorite had anise and almonds.  The flavor was delicate and it just melted in my mouth.  I’m going to try a few baklava recipes after the holidays.  It’s in my blood after all-my family is Macedonian.  I will be sharing my recipes on the blog so be sure to check back!

Family Trip to Israel Pt.1

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Prior to starting my blog this month my family spent a month travelling in Israel.  My husband was born there near Haifa and it was my fourth trip, but my first with two littles in tow.  I didn’t think it was going to be so incredible, as I’ve traveled extensively there already.  It was incredible.  Meeting my nieces and nephews for the first time, seeing my children play with their cousins, visiting old friends, and making new memories.  This was truly the trip of a lifetime, and I will be sharing it with you in two posts.  The first will be an overview of our travels and the second a foodie focused post.  So stay tuned!

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We spent a good amount of time in the north near Haifa.  We visited the gorgeous Mt. Carmel and saw Mosh Ben Ari, the Israeli musician play.  We returned to Akko, this was my third trip there, but as I was with my husband/tour guide I knew this experience would be special.  We walked around the souk, purchasing small items like off brand Crocs for my son and handmade instruments.  Afterwards, my husband took us to eat to hummus at the famous Hummus Said.  It came to us warm, served with vegetables, freshly baked pita, and pickles.  Adam loved the pickles, people were in disbelief that my baby liked them-but he devoured them!

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We did a side trip to Jerusalem.  When you go to Israel, you have to visit Jerusalem.  We met up with an old friend who was able to get us into the tunnels underneath the Western Wall.  I found out as we walked through the remnants of the ancient temple that he and my husband had prayed for hours at the spot considered to be closest to the Holy of Holies three years ago while I was in the midst of my IVF.  What a special moment to stand there, in that same spot with Ben and Adam and know how much their father had prayed for their existence.  Even now, writing this I get teary eyed, until I remember how Ben ran through those tunnels  like he owned them!

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We put our notes and prayers in that spot this time and went out to the Western Wall to finish our prayers.

We continued on our Jerusalem journey to Maheneh Yehuda Market.  It’s A huge market in Jerusalem that remind me of pikes place in Seattle. What stood out to me the most was the artisanal halva, the honey donuts for the New Year, and the enormous variety of nuts and olives.  The market was packed as it was the day before the Sabbath. All of the cafés inside were full and busy. We even found an American brewery and tasted some crafted beers!


For a week we rented and apartment off Airbnb in Tel Aviv. We were 10 steps away from Banana Beach. During the day we would lounge on the beach and at night we would take long walks around the city, eating falafel and shawarma sandwiches.


I’ll be sharing my next part of our trip in a few days. I hope that this story tells you a little bit more about who I am and about my family. My goal is to connect with you to share with you my passions and my family is my biggest passion!

Tips for a Successful Arts and Crafts Playgroup 

successful-playgroup

This time last year I would be teaching 25-50 elementary aged students in a public school setting.  Everything was as accessible and easy as could it could be for a person to do art with large groups of young kids-I had two large sinks, big tables for them to sit at, and custodians to clean at night.  Having an art playgroup is actually more work, but a ton of fun too!

1.  Choose an age range. Decide what age range of kiddo you’re gearing this toward.  Too wide of an age range would mean projects at different levels to please the kids, plus a similar age is nice for the kids to play together.

2. Send out an invite at least two weeks in advance. I do my invites via Facebook event and this way I can send out notifications to the moms leading up to the playgroup.

3. Decide how you want to pay for materials. Do moms give you a flat fee to attend?  Do they bring their own materials? I run mine like a co-op.  Everyone brings a treat and everyone brings a material to share.

4. Decide what activities you will do with the littles.  I aim to do 3 art activities in 1 hour.  Usually we do a messy project like pumpkin play dough, a paper craft, and a sensory project.

5. Set up all of your materials and projects before. Often I do all of the assembling prior to the playgroup so the group runs more smoothly. Sometimes Ben does his projects the weekend before.

Cake for the moms and applesauce squishes for the kiddos.

Fully assembled rain sticks before playgroup.

6. Have snacks and drinks available. Applesauce packets are great to have on hand.  Don’t forget some paper plates and cutlery!

7. Clean and set up your home.  I put the dogs outside with water, clean the floor, kitchen and restroom. I make an easy dinner too, so it’s done and out of the way.  Put away any toys or activities you don’t want kids to take out.  I put away the Playdough and thin out the toy offering.

8.  Set up a drying area for wet projects. I have a large kitchen counter that we use.

9. Have examples ready and show moms what to do as they arrive.  Art is a visual language so it makes sense to visually present each project.

10. Tidy up a little as the group creates and plays. Ask a mom or two to help or stay after a little longer to help.
Most importantly have fun and watch your kid(s) have fun learning!  Play is so important in childhood development.  It teaches them social skills and creativity-they can’t get that sitting in front of a tv!  I love using the play group as a chance to reconnect with my busy mom friends, get my boys busy, and share my passion.  Have fun creating!

Arty the Anaconda

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This is a lesson I did both in the art room and at home with Ben.  I will provide differentiated instruction based on the size of the group in this lesson.

Arty the Anaconda by Liza Amor

Grades: K-1st # of sessions (50 minutes each):2

Homeschooling: 1 media per day for as many media as you have to choose from (up to 5 or 6).  I did this project with a 2 year old, I think it is appropriate for ages 2-6.


Art Materials: for the classroom:butcher paper in a variety of colors pre-cut to represent the body of the snake on each table, glue, paper scraps (pre-torn), feathers, crayons, bingo markers, stamps and stamp pads, chalk, markers, and watercolor paint. For homeschooling: corrugated scissors or regular scissors, construction paper in a variety of colors, markers, crayons, stamps and stamp pad, bingo markers, craft materials, painting materials, and glue.

National Visual Arts Standard: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

Objectives: Student will-

*experiment with a variety of media.

*create a group based work of art (for the classroom).

Preparation: For the classroom:Set up one section of the butcher paper snake at each table. Set out a different media at each table. (4 tables, 4 media, 2 weeks=8 media all together)

For the homeschooler: Choose a different media per day and the appropriate color of construction paper to go with each (lighter paper for crayons, darker for tempera paint).  Set up a spot at home for the child to work with the media.

Procedure: For the classroom: Day 1: Teacher will introduce the lesson. Student will be shown and demonstrated to the various centers at each of the four tables in the art room. Student will put on a smock and rotate to the four centers using each media placed on the table. Day 2: Student will review the steps of the project.  Student will be shown and demonstrated to the various centers at each of the four tables in the art room. Student will put on a smock and rotate to the four centers using each media placed on the table.

For the homeschooler: Each day have the child try a different type of media on their construction paper.  Once the work has dried use scissors or corrugated scissor to cut out a circle.  I used a roll of tape to trace the circle before cutting it out. 

Ending: For the classroom: Display all the parts of the snake wrapping around the school building. Cut out eyes and a tongue to add to the face.  Display with state standards, national standards, and objectives.  In class discuss the materials they used, asked them what they learned and what they would do differently next time they try that media.

For the homeschooler: Put together the parts of the snake with your child.  Add a tongue from red pipecleaners and a googly eye.  Discuss the materials they used, asked them what they learned and what they would do differently next time they try that media.

Literacy/ Science tie in: Read a book about Anacondas or snakes.  Read a book about using art materials and creativity such as Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre or The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.

 Rubric: /10

Student was actively engaged with each art media center. 3/10

Student treated materials appropriately (putting them away correctly and using the appropriate amounts of each material, not leaving a mess). 5/10

Student listened an followed all of the instructions of the activity/center/media. 1/10

Hanukkah Table Setting

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Tonite for Shabbat I did a semi-formal table setting.  I have a small breakfast nook style dining area rather than a grand dining room.  We’re a family of four and the kids are less than 3 years old-so we keep it fun and informal.  I used dreidel shaped dishes to hold my salads and applesauce.  My Crate and Barrel dishes coordinate with my latke platter.  I have a special latke spatula too.


The placemats for my husband and I are fun because you can rotate them to “light” candles.  Those will go to the boys when they’re older.  I used plastic because I have littles and meals are messy.  Still they’re festive and fun -that’s what the holidays are all about.  My challah cover is brand new from our trip to Israel -I’ll be sharing more about that experience soon during the holiday season.  As we celebrate I’ll be sharing our adventures during our “eight crazy nights!”

How I Decorated for Hanukkah

After I made my Eight Posts for Hanukkah my house is full of blue and chalkboard and burlap. So I decided I would do a post to show you how all of these crafts have come together as decorations in my home for the holiday. A lot of people don’t do more than just a Menorah and fine china or maybe a small decoration on their door. I want to show you how I was able to  add a lot of decorations for very little money and really give my home the feeling of the holiday.

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A candle lighting station with family photos, my Shabbat candlesticks, and my Menorah.

A handprint/footprint Menorah apron I made with my boys. I posted about it earlier.

I have Hanukkah towels and pot holders that add a festive touch to my kitchen.

My casual Hanukkah table decor.

Once the holiday comes I will do a full Hanukkah tablescape and share that with you. I am listing the tutorials for all the DIY projects below.

Chalkboard Hanukkah Wreath

Handprint Menorah Apron

Burlap Pocket Banner

Chalkboard Countdown Sign

Snowflake Decoration

Pinecone Centerpiece

Edible Sensory Sorting Activity

sensoryTwo weeks ago I posted a Nature Sensory Activity I did with my babies.  I knew immediately after putting the muffin tin in front of Adam he would try to eat some of the natural objects I had included, so I thought “Why not do an edible sorting activity?” So here it is.  I chose 3 of his favorite snacks right now that are different sizes, textures, and colors.  I think next time I will aim to include a variety of shapes,  this time I made it a point that  that each food was a circle into the activity.

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When I gave Adam the tray I talked to him about how these are  foods we eat that are all circle shapes.  “We have an orange circle.” We counted how many orange circles we had.  “These are yellow circles that come in sets of two.” We counted how many sets of bananas we had.  I talked with him about colors, shapes, and sizes.  As he started to eat the foods and move them around in the tin I asked him how the food felt in his hand.  Ofcourse, he couldn’t answer, so I taught him words that have to do with types of texture such as “smooth,” “creamy” and “rough.”

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Overall this activity was a hit and one that I plan to do again on a regular basis with him and his older brother.  We were able to categorize objects, count objects, describe their physical characteristics-which would be great to do with a toddler who is developing his speech like Ben.

Lemon Honey Sugar Scrub

I am guilty of putting myself last.  As a stay at home mom with two littles and a busy schedule I can forget to eat, sleep, exercise, you name it.  It started to show.  My skin is super dry from the desert winter and it’s cracking, rough, and breaking out.  I hardly ever break out anymore-but when I started to this time I went to my kitchen.

Using DoTerra Frankincense, Lemon, and Maleluca oils I created a head to scrub that leaves my skin and hair feeling properly pampered. 

In a 6 oz. airtight glass jar I combined:

4 oz. brown sugar

2 tbs. honey

3 oz. olive oil 

4 drops Maleluca

4 drops Frankincense

8 drops Lemon

In the shower I used the scrub on my skin after washing and on my hair before washing it-making sure to give my scalp a good massage.  On my skin and hair I left it like a mask to soak in and soften.  It smells so good-and tastes good too!

Maleluca is used as an astringent-its tea tree oil.  It has anti-bacterial properties.  Lemon is also astringent and just smells awesome! Frankincense is supposed to great for cell turnover which is what a scrub is all about-scrubbing away the old, dry, and flaky to show the fresh and dewey.  Even though my showers are far from the luxurious-let alone private onesI had before being a mom-this scrub makes me feel like I truly took a minute for myself.  

The Best DIY Teacher Gifts On Pinterest (Approved By A Teacher!)

 

As an art teacher and art club organizer for 17 years I didn’t receive a lot of holiday gifts over the years, nor did I expect it.  Who has money to spend on all of their kids teachers?  When I did get presents it really meant a lot to me and I treasured every DIY gift I got because I truly believe it came from the heart.  I have enjoyed researching DIY teacher gifts on Pinterest so much this weekend and I thought I would share my  5 favorites with you.  You can click the images to be linked directly to the pin.

 

  1. I found this on Craft with Angel and thought it really elevated the crayon wreath idea.  I would hang this in my classroom all year long!

teacher wreath.. bought the stuff to make this with Landon for Mrs Nicholson! hopefully we'll get it done this week!:

2.What teacher doesn’t want cute supplies? From Scraps of Shirlee.

Scraps of Shirlee: school supply cake teacher appreciation gift:

 

3. I’m dying to make this when I go back to teaching as my daily tote! From G is For Gift.

Teacher Appreciation Gift:  Decorate a canvas tote bag - the link is broken but the photos look pretty self explanatory. (I wouldn't just limit it to a tote either...this would make a great bandana or scarf print etc etc):

 

4. Such a nice gift to remember that amazing class! From So Festive.

Apple Themed Teacher Gifts   Free Printables:

 

5. I love the chalkboard pots idea and think of all the gifts you could put inside!  From Snowman Crafts. Co.

Thanks for helping me Grow | 20 + DIY Christmas Gifts for Teachers From Kids:

I hope these give you a little inspiration and imagination to go out and make something special for the grown ups who make your kids’ day special.

Tips for Painting with a Toddler

img_3744Over the years I have been told repeatedly by classroom teachers how brave I am.  Not because I’m a ninja, but because I can organize groups of fifty elementary school aged children while creating messy masterpieces.  Painting with a 1 year old or 2 year old is very different and presents far more challenges than with a group 20 five year olds-seriously.

1. Cover the chair they’re sitting in with a garbage bag, even if it’s a highchair.  The dyes in the paint could leave a permanent stain on the fabric or plastic.

2. Tiny paintbrushes or Q-tips.  Tiny amounts of paint being splattered and dropped is everywhere is a lot easier to clean than large amounts of drippy paint.

3. Non-toxic only. If the paint is store bought there should be an AP label. I have had a few students taste the paint over the years and even though it’s non-toxic, I sent them to the nurse just to be safe.  She had them gargle with water and sent them back to class.  If you want to be extra safe try my homemade, food safe paint recipe.

4. Make a DIY garbage bag smock.  Turn the garbage  bag upside down, cut a hole at the top for the head and two at the sides for the arms.  It will cover them top to toe and it’s reusable.

5. I recommend putting some kraft paper on the floor for spills and on the table. Or wrap plastic wrap around the highchair table.

6. When they are finished, take away the supplies first and the smock last.

7.  Baby wipes work best for cleaning up the kiddos or a bath.

8.  Stain removers that have worked well for me are Oxyclean, Honest (got out Sharpie), and good old baking soda/vinegar.

9.  Little ones don’t know to cover the whole page, and maybe parts of the page are out of reach for them. Either point out where else on the paper they can paint or turn the painting for them.  You want to do this before they paint over and over in the same spot for so long they wear a hole through their painting.

10.  Turn their paintings into something special: a garland, cut out repetitive shapes and make a Warhol inspired work of art, scrapbook with it, the possibilities are endless!