Family Travel Journal: Israel 2017 Photos


For the last two years my family has travelled to Israel to celebrate the Jewish High Holidays.  The High Holidays are four holidays separated by a week that start off the Jewish New Year every year.  My husband is originally from a small village in the north of Israel near Haifa.  While we go and visit his family we also travel around the country to visit friends and get a little vacation in.  This year we visitedTel Aviv for four blissful beach days, Jerusalem, En Acre Nature Preserve, and Akko.  My favorite places to visit on this trip this year were Tel Aviv and Akko.  

In Tel Aviv you have the big city, similar to LA with a beach vibe.  Lots of pubs, boutiques, cafés, and art galleries. In Akko you see ancient architecture, the sea, and the souk.  I love visiting markets and we actually visited one of the oldest markets in Jerusalem, that my great great grandfather lives near when he immigrated to Israel at the turn of the century-Maheneh Yehuda.  I recommend if you go there to purchase and sample some of the halva for sale.  It’s incredible!

As we traveled through Israel I got to sample some of my favorite is really cuisine: bourekas, shakshuka, and pita with zaatar.  Bourekas at savory pastries filled with cheese, potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, or meet. They are served with hard-boiled eggs and pickles. Shakshuka is a dish made of eggs basted in a spices tomato sauce-this year I tried “purple” shakshuka that was made with beets. It was accompanied by tahini, fresh bread, and vegetables. Zaatar is a spice blend commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. In Israel they mix the spices with olive oil and then brush it on to peters, roasting the pitas.

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Family Travel Diary: Haifa Israel

My husband’s family is from a village in Northern Israel close to the city of Haifa.  We have been spending our time here for the last week celebrating the holidays Yom Kippur and Sukkot.  Along with visiting friends and family we have travelled around a bit.  We went hiking in a nature preserve, walked the beach boardwalk with iced coffees in hand, and went to the local zoo.  Here are some of our photos below.  

En Afek Nature Preserve


En Afek Nature Preserve was a short, easy trek in one of Israel’s protected preserves.  The boys loved climbing the stairs inside of a building that dated back to 1100 AD and later housed the British Army during their occupation.  There were lily ponds, catfish, and a winding, long boardwalk.  The boardwalk was sturdy but didn’t have rails so the boys had to be extra careful. Adam went on his Aba’s shoulders and Ben held my hands.  

Zoo in Qiryat Motzkin


The zoo in Qiryat Motzkin houses elephants, gorillas, and giraffes.  There’s also a playground and a carnival ride area-however that area was closed during our visit.  It’s a small zoo compared to the big, American zoos-it can be completed in an afternoon.  However, there is a nice variety of animals.  

Beach Boardwalk

Israel has a long coastline filled with beaches and Israelis know how to have an incredible beach experience.  We stopped at a beach in the Qiryat for a walk on the boardwalk , people watching, and iced coffees.  The Mediterranean Sea was full of quiet waves.  We watched kite surfers and sail boats.  It was a great start to the day!  

Have you been to Israel with small children?  Where did you go?  What did you do?  Type your recommendations in the comments below.  

Next week we’ll be in Tel Aviv and possibly a quick stop in Jerusalem, then we fly home to Las Vegas-where are thoughts have been through this difficult time.

Our Family Vacation to Kos Island, Greece!

On our second night in Israel my husband asked me if I would like to go to Greece for a week-of course I jumped at the opportunity! The last minute deals from Israel are inexpensive-and very family friendly.


Tigkaki Beach


We stayed at Peredise Family Resort near Kos Town.  This resort is great for families with little kids. We had a suite with a small pool.  There is a large resort style pool on the other side of the property along with a baby room, indoor playroom, playground, kiddie pool, and spa.  We had a free breakfast and dinner buffet included with our room -and the food was fabulous!  We looked forward to each meal-every night had a different theme, and lots of vegetarian options. 

We mostly beach hopped: Tigkaki our first day, Paradise Beach the second day, and a small private beach in Kefalos our last day.  Paradise Beach was our favorite-gorgeous sand and perfect water-hardly any rocks.  There was a restaurant and bar next to the beach that we ordered ice cream and coffee from.  The kids enjoyed swimming, building sand castles, and paddle boarding with their dad.

Back in Kos Town we walked around the pier, Kos Castle, and took a tour on a mini train.  The kids adored every second on the mini train and I recommend it for the first day of the trip as it gives you an overview of the town.  We enjoyed coffee and milk shakes in the town center and shipped for souvenirs in the market.  

What I enjoyed most about the trip was our bonding time with our kids.  Watching the kids get some much needed time with their dad who works long hours as a business owner providing for our family was so special.  I love traveling-the magic of it-the closeness it creates in families.  

Father’s Day with My Petite Picassos

Father's DaySo yes I am slowing down on the blog but when something relevant happens I do want to share and we just had an epic Father’s Day!  It started off with Ben making this cute framed photo craft at summer camp. In fact, if you follow me on Pinterest you’ll see that there are a lot of cute ideas posted for making photo presents for dad. 

Prior to Father’s Day, about two weeks ago, I made with the boys Father’s Day gifts for my dad and for my husband. We used acrylic paint and paint markers that I purchased at Target to make handprint and footprint art pottery. My dad is an avid golfer, so we made his around the theme of golf. My husband just adores his children so we made his with the theme of hearts and a little Hebrew rhyme (my husband is from Israel).


This project just took one afternoon. I recommend if you get into multiple footprints like I did that you do first the lighter color of paint.I did my dad’s plates first with the boys using the silver paint. Then we did my husband’s plates with the red paint.

I glazed the plates and cups with dishwasher safe Mod Podge which takes a month to cure. On Father’s Day I made my husband breakfast and surprised him with the play and the coffee cup.


After breakfast we went to swim class for Ben. He’s been working really hard on swimming for the last few months and has moved up a level and this week he moved up again! It’s actually funny that on Mother’s Day he moved up, then on Father’s Day he moved up again!  When he goes up a level they give him a ribbon and he can pick a toy from the treasure chest. He picked bubbles. He carried his ribbon and bubbles around for the rest of the day, he was so proud! The swimming skills came in handy later on when we went over to our friends’ house for a pool party. We  had a great time swimming and afterwards finished the day with ice cream at dusk. It was a long and fun Father’s Day! It was great to spend time with friends and enjoy the outdoors in the Las Vegas heat! The boys slept in this morning because they were so tired from all of yesterday’s events!

What did you do on Father’s Day? Did your child make some DIY art projects for their dad? If they did please share them in the comments below.

Ben showing off his ribbon.

Chagall Windows Lesson Plan

I am fortunate enough to have visited the Chagall Windows in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center twice.  Upon entering the room with the windows you are surrounded by radiant light illuminating Chagall’s masterpiece telling the story of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. This lesson is a collage project that can be completed by children ages 7-10.

I have included in the resources a book from my favorite art historical book series Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists by Mike Venezia.  He combines cartoons and accurate art historical information in a way that can be used by students of all ages.  When reading his books I typically break them up into 2-3 readings depending the age group.  I have found his books through Amazon, my local library, most school libraries, and Barnes and Noble.Marc Chagall was a Russian Jewish artist who experienced life in the shtetl as a small boy.  A shtetl is a word used to describe  segregated, impoverished villages in Russia.  The shtetl often experienced raids from the Russian army and Chagall experienced anti-Semitism in his life there.  To create these windows in Jerusalem after Israel became a country, was a great honor for him.  He was very proud of his heritage and had great hope for his people.

 

Chagall Windows

Grades 2 – 5

Grouping:  Whole/Individual

Materials: 9″x11″ white paper, water cups, paint brushes, tissue paper, Elmer’s glue, pencils, rulers, and black permanet markers.

Resources: Artwork of Hadassah short film clip, Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Marc Chagall by Mike Venezia

Objectives:  Students will:

  • learn about the life and art of Marc Chagall
  • create an artwork based on the theme of peace
  • create a multi media work of art

Procedures:

  1. Students will view the teacher exemplar and discuss the project (steps, expectations, outcomes).
  2. Students will use their ruler and pencil to draw straight lines (5-6) on their white piece of paper to convey the lead piping that holds stained glass in place.
  3. Students will draw symbols of peace such as the peace sign, angels, doves, olive branches, etc inside the shapes their lines create.
  4. Students will trace everything they have drawn with black permanent marker.
  5. The class will listen to and discuss the book Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Marc Chagall by Mike Venezia.
  6. The class will view a demonstration by the teacher on how to collage pieces of tissue paper over the drawings to give the look of stained glass.
  7. Students will turn in their artwork for assessment.

Assessment:

  1. Student drew a picture using a ruler and showing peace symbols neatly and with detail.  2/5
  2. Student traced his drawing neatly with permanent marker.  1/5
  3. Student collaged using appropriate amounts of glue and tissue paper carefully.  2/5

If I wanted to do this project with a younger group, I would simply have them layer tissue paper on top of white paper to experience the fractals of light and color found in stained glass windows.  I have included a slideshow of my photos from Hadassah Medical Center.  They sell a very nice set of postcards depicting Marc Chagall’s designs in the gift shop.  That might be something worth contacting them for.

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Delicious and Nutritious Israeli Tahini Smoothie

tahini shake

If you follow my Instagram, which I post on daily, you know I love smoothies!  My husband and I drink them daily.  Since it’s been a while since I shared a recipe with you I decided this smoothie has to be my next recipe for the blog.  It’s officially amazing and so good for you!

If you are not familiar with tahini it’s sesame paste that is used in several Middle Eastern dishes.  It comes very thick in the jar and can be thinned out with water or lemon juice.  It’s one of the main ingredients in hummus and is amazing as a dressing.  When we were in Israel last fall they were pouring it over their ice cream.  You can find tahini in most large supermarkets, I love the Organic Tahini from Trader Joe’s-it’s the best I’ve ever tasted.

This recipe calls for half a cup of Taster’s Choice coffee in the hazelnut flavor.  In the Middle East Nescafe and instant coffee are very popular.  My husband likes Taster’s Choice and for a change he’s been trying the hazelnut flavor.  I pre-brewed the coffee.  When making a smoothie start with the liquid ingredients first and then add the solid ingredients.  I make my smoothies in a Ninja every morning, but a blender works fine too.

The recipe for this is to simply blend:

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1 c. of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/2 c. of hazelnut Taster’s Choice coffee

1 tbsn. of tahini

2 bananas

2 packets of Stevia or a tbsn. of honey (agave or maple syrup would work too)

It’s a really great way to wake up in the morning.  You have a caffeine kick from the coffee, potassium from the banana, healthy fats from the tahini, and calcium from the almond milk.  It has a deeper taste than a traditional peanut butter and banana smoothie.  The hazelnut coffee mixes with the sesame flavor beautifully.  I hope you enjoy this recipe.  I’ll be sure to share more recipes soon!

Tip:  To make the smoothie vegan omit the honey.

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

family-trip-to-israel-pt-1

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!