The Olive Branch: May

Well, it’s almost the end of June so I guess it’s about time we looked back at May! And, my goodness, May was a month crammed full of national holidays for us here at the Olive Branch…

Israeli salads

Independence Day bbq

First off it was Israeli Independence Day, otherwise known as Yom HaAtzmaut. For Israelis, this is essentially a day of barbecues and fireworks. We had a fun and relaxed day with friends and, although a barbecue did feature, it should be noted that the amount of meat consumed was minimal. Not only is Mr Olive vegetarian but Israeli barbecues generally include a selection of beautiful salads just impressive as whatever’s on the grill! Tom, however, mainly enjoyed the ketchup 🙂

Wonder girl

Running wild at Lag B'Omer

Then, a couple of weeks later, it was Lag B’Omer. This holiday has a pretty interesting history in that it signifies different things for religious Jews (and Jews outside of Israel) compared to the Israeli secular population. Without going into it too much, this traditionally religious holiday was reinterpreted by secular Israel as a commemoration of the Jewish rebel Bar Kokhva’s revolt against the Roman Empire in the 2nd Century and is now used as kind of a Zionist allegory. In practice, though, it’s mainly a children’s festival: a day of bonfires and toasted marshmallows. We went to a bonfire organized by the parents of Tom’s kindergarten, which was loads of fun. There is a verb in Hebrew, ‘lehishtolel’, which doesn’t have a direct translation into English. Roughly, it means to ‘go wild’, ‘raise a rumpus’ or ‘make mischief. ‘Lehishtolel’ is what Sophie and Tom did on Lag B’Omer!

Graphic tank + midi skirt

Midi skirt + baseball boots

Also in May, Olives and Peaches published our first outfit post with photography by Ronit Inon. I’ve been really inspired by reading Anuschka Rees’s The Curated Closet (and posted about it here) and now that I’ve explored and thoroughly defined my personal style (which I’ve called ‘Alternative Nineties with a Side of Vintage’ :)) I’m feeling a lot more confident about posing for outfit photos!

Gan Daniel swag

Sophie’s kindergarten moved house and had a big clear-out, selling off loads of things from their considerable stash. Since her kindergarten is inspired by Waldorf educational practices and philosophy, they place great emphasis on aesthetic beauty, natural materials, and arts and crafts. It was no surprise, then, that I picked up some beautiful treasures in their sale.

Doily table runner

I’d been dreaming of a doily table runner for some time (yes, these are the sorts of things I dream about) so I was especially happy to find one in the sale. Here it is decorating probably the most romantic corner of our apartment 🙂

How to make a flower crown

The third and final holiday to fall in May was Shavuot, also known as the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. Like many holidays celebrated in Israel it has both a religious and a secular interpretation. On the one hand, it’s the holiday which commemorates the biblical event in which God gave the Torah to the Nation of Israel. On the other hand, Shavuot is also the celebration of the wheat harvest and also, somewhat inexplicably, the holiday on which everybody eats vast quantities of cheese. Which is definitely alright with me. In fact, when people ask me what is celebrated on Shavuot, I usually just say it’s the Cheese Holiday.

Sophie’s kindergarten, which excels in its celebration of festivals, prepared their annual Shavuot performance. Dressed as various characters from biblical and folk lore, the children acted out a scene in which, like the farmers of ancient Israel, they made a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem to bring offerings of the first fruits of the harvest, accompanied my music, song and dance. All the kids were required to wear, not only a home-made costume, but also a flower crown. (Side note: I kind of love the fact that Waldorf kindergartens more or less demand that the parents be crafty!) I made Sophie’s crown out of fresh flowers and we shared a tutorial on the blog for how to make your own. The top image in this post shows Sophie acting out her role as a dancer and wearing the crown!

In other excitement, I got to be in the same room as – and even exchange a few words with – my celebrity crush, took my first few steps towards starting my own cake business (more about this to come), and opened our door to a slew of potential buyers as our flat went on the market!

What have you been up to recently?

Love Em xx

 

 

 

 

Olive’s Outfits: Wolf’s Clothing

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Wolf tank // Asos (last year). Skirt // Clothing Swap Party. Baseball boots // Asos (last year). Sunglasses // 7seven (last year)

Hi! So here it is: our first Olives and Peaches outfit post!

I’d been thinking about starting to do outfit posts for a while but the whole idea seemed a little bit intimidating. (Me? Posing for photos?!) But then I read The Curated Closet (and posted about it here). This book by Anuschka Rees is basically a brilliant and extremely thorough system for discovering and implementing your personal style. I really enjoyed working through all the exercises and as a result I now have a crystal clear idea of what my style is, including specific pieces, colours, fabrics, styling, and how I put it all together. I even gave my style a name: ‘Alternative Nineties with a Side of Vintage’. 🙂

I now know, for instance, that I prefer red lipstick and nails over any other colour so I just stick with that. I like setting myself guidelines and even style rules that I’ve made up. I’m all about keeping it simple and having fewer decisions to make!

Also, I got to know the amazing photographer Ronit Inon and it became pretty clear who I was going to ask to take the photos for this post. I felt sort of awkward posing at the start (I’m much more used to being on the other side of the lens) but Ronit had loads of cool ideas for the shoot and was so great about putting me at ease. It ended up being super fun!

That first pose is me living out my rockstar dreams 😉

A couple of words on the outfit: this combination of loose fit graphic tee or tank with a midi skirt is kind of a uniform for me. I wear variations of this look on a very regular basis! Here I paired it with baseball boots, but I also like to mix it up with clogs or flat sandals in the summer.

Have you read The Curated Closet? Or do you have some other system for organizing your wardrobe? We’d love to hear in the comments!

Photography: Ronit Inon – Facebook and Instagram
Olive's Outfits: Wolf's Clothing

How to Make a Flower Crown

I love making flower crowns! I mean, I love flowers in any format but there’s something really satisfying about making a flower crown, putting it on your head and pretending to be a fairy. Oh, wait, nobody else does that?

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In Israel a flower crown is the traditional and accepted head gear of any birthday girl or boy. You can buy a simple plastic crown with fabric flowers in the birthday section of even the smallest supermarket, but since I started making my own I can’t go back to the plastic ones. I’ve got a rep to protect.

Having made flower crowns a bunch of times now and seeing how easy it is, I will pretty much look for any excuse to make one. Flowers are not safe in my vicinity! Give me half a chance and I will literally start cutting their heads off and taping them to a piece of wire. True story.

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I like making crowns from fresh flowers but obviously they have a shelf life so I sometimes use this same technique to make them from fabric flowers. For Sophie’s mermaid Purim costume a couple of months ago I made the basic crown shape and then hot-glued on felt seaweed fronds and little starry flowers. There are tons of possibilities here.

This week, however, I actually have a legit reason to make a flower crown (rather than just the usual made-up excuse): the Jewish holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost) is coming up and all the kids at Sophie’s Waldorf kindergarten have to wear flower crowns as part of their celebration. Booya! (This may be the first time anyone has ever used the word ‘booya’ in the context of flower crowns).

This is how I did it.

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Supplies:

  1. Green florist wire (also available from florist shops)
  2. Green florist tape (also available from florist shops)
  3. Flowers and leaves with stems of at least 5cm (2 inches)
  4. Scissors (not pictured)

Note: The subject of wire gauges can become rather confusing but it doesn’t really need to be! I used a reasonably thick green enameled florist wire (see images above and below), which created a strong and sturdy crown. However, I have also had success using much thinner wire. The process of wrapping tape around the wire helps to strengthen the crown too. Basically, don’t sweat it too much if your wire is a bit thinner or thicker than the one I used. If you really want to get into the subject, this article is full of useful information.

Step 1: Measure out a length of florist wire that is long enough to wrap around your head twice. If you’re using shorter pieces of wire you can wrap the ends around each other to fasten them into one longer piece. I used a total length of 118cm (3.87 ft). If you’re making the crown for someone whose head is smaller than yours, don’t worry: the size of the crown can easily be adjusted once finished by folding and twisting the extra wire at the back of the head. If you’re making the crown for someone whose head is bigger than yours, you may have to estimate – or measure their head!

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Step 2: Wrap half the length of wire around your head once to form a circular crown shape and then take the remaining wire and wrap it all the way around the circle to strengthen it (see image above). You now have your basic crown shape.

Step 3: Cut a length of florist tape and wrap it all the way around the wire crown. This gives the crown a prettier smoother finish and also covers up any sharp edges (see image above). Now you’re ready to add the flowers!

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Step 4: If you have different sizes of flowers, choose one of the largest ones and snip the head off the stalk, leaving a stem of about 5cm (2 inches). Cut a length of florist tape and place the flower against the part of the wire crown that you want as the front. Starting at the base of the flower head, wrap the tape around and around the stem, fastening it to the wire.

Step 5: Take another large flower and do the same, placing it next to and facing the first flower. These two flowers will be right at the front of your crown, which is why it looks best if they’re the largest. Continue the process with your other flowers and leaves. You can do one side of the crown first and then the other, or you can do what I did and alternate between sides. Whatever rocks your party.

Step 6: Once you’ve fastened on a few flowers, you can try on the crown and see how many more you want to add. It’s best to leave some bare wire at the back of your head so that the size of the crown can be adjusted easily. I used 9 flower heads and a similar number of leaves to fill up the crown on the front and sides of my head.

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Step 7: Voila! Your finished crown! You can make these flower crowns a day in advance and place them in plastic bags in the fridge until you need them, thereby reducing last-minute flower crown stress! (That’s a thing, right?)

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And here’s Sophie yesterday taking the role of ‘dancer’ and wearing the crown at her kindergarten’s beautiful Shavuot celebration!

If you’ve ever admired the boho look of fresh flower crowns (or maybe you’ve been overusing Snapchat’s flower crown PNG and are ready for an IRL upgrade) I invite you to try our tutorial! It might become your new favourite addiction.

 

The Olive Branch: April

Spring is swiftly moving towards summer and today (in mid-May) we’ve got temperatures of 36 celsius! Better have a quick look back at April before spring becomes a far-off memory and I forget what the colour green looks like (Israeli summers have a rather yellow/brown tint!).

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This and the first pic are from a little hike we did up Napolean Hill in an area called Rosh Tzipor (Bird Head) in north Tel Aviv. I love these little pockets of wild nature in the middle of the city.

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We celebrated Passover with Tom’s kindergarten by going on a trip to Sharon Beach just up the coast. It was a lot of fun and a little bit wacky as we all dressed up as Moses and his followers and pretended to be fleeing Egypt. Tom made just about the cutest little Moses I’ve ever seen 🙂

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I enjoyed using these vintage bone china dessert plates my parents brought over when they visited. They used to belong to my Nan so they’re very special to me. Just one look at those blue cornflowers and I’m back in my grandparents’ dining room with the net curtains and the electric organ in the corner, drinking tea and eating trifle!

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We shared a recipe for Coconut Cream Malabi, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert which is very trendy in Tel Aviv at the moment. It’s ridiculously easy to make and absolutely delicious! This version is vegan too…

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My little dreamer…

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We went on an epic camping trip in the desert with old friends. There was running through sprinklers, ibex and camel spotting, TWO glorious desert water holes, a bedouin tent, barbecues and toasted marshmallows… but most importantly amazing company. Miss you already, Jess and Jo!

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And finally, I picked up Middlemarch again – a book which I can honestly say has made me a better person, as well as being a jolly good read. Click through to find out how much this book means to me!

What else? A new haircut, a new capsule wardrobe, a karaoke night, a LOT of school holiday (tiring!) and lots of house viewings (but I think we might have found the one…).

How was your April?

Love Em xx

The Olive Branch: February and March

Golly gosh, where is the year going? My aim was to write an Olive Branch update at the end of every month but somehow February got away from me and now it’s already the first week of April! Time for a bumper edition!

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Back in February, we took an overnight trip to the one place in Israel where you can count on seeing snow in the winter: Mt Hermon. As you can see, we weren’t alone there. Yup, Israelis get pretty excited about snow…

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We shared a DIY for a Kids’ Art Wall Collage. Also a great way to spruce up and repurpose an old picture frame! Mmmm, look at the nice tidily-arranged toys and books (it never really looks like that).

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Sophie performed in her ballet show and I was so proud I could burst! I guess ballet love must be hereditary…

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We went on a spring almond-blossom hunt. Every year we take a trip to the Sataf, an agricultural site in the Jerusalem Hills, where they experiment with growing vegetables and orchard trees as they were grown in biblical times. So pretty!

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Yup, still working on that scarf! Pretty slow going, but it is my first knitting project after all. Hope to finish it by next winter! I’ve joined a knitting group and we meet every Thursday. Wouldn’t even have managed one row without those lovely girls…

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I finally dug out my pasta machine, which had been languishing decadently in its box for the last four years, and proceeded to make tortellini, which didn’t take very long at all. I lie, it took A WHOLE DAY! Avoid making all my newbie mistakes by checking out our post: How to Use a Pasta Machine: 10 Top Tips!

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Was it worth spending a whole day learning how to use a pasta machine! Absolutely it was! Especially when the result was Chard, Pistachio and Cranberry Tortellini with Shiitake and Lemongrass-Sage Butter. Check out our recipe and I defy not to lick the bowl at the end!

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I made a wig. Not a very realistic-looking hairpiece, I admit, but one that was befitting of a little mermaid all dressed up for Purim. For anyone unfamiliar with Purim, it’s often described as the Jewish Halloween: kid-centered, fancy dress costumed, too many sweets… you get the idea. I gave Sophie a deadline for deciding what costume she wanted and then held her to it. Although I did somewhat modify her initial request to dress up as an ‘evil mermaid’. What the heck?

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Purim was an insane week of costume making, egg decoration (not just for Easter, apparently), goodie basket prep and multiple parties. Super fun and rather knackering! Here are Sophie the Mermaid and Tom the Pirate just before we headed off to Mr Olive’s office Purim party.

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Current obsession: The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. This is a book which is basically a step by step system for discovering your own personal style and curating the perfect wardrobe of clothes to meet your style and lifestyle needs. I’ve worked through most of the exercises and am now on the section about working with outfit formulas. Doing the exercises in this book is basically what I would prefer to be doing over almost anything else at the moment and I’m already feeling so much more confident in how I dress. Did I mention I’m obsessed?

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Last but not least, my parents and brother came from the U.K. to visit for a week so I went all quiet on social media so I could focus on really being with them. It was so wonderful having them here and getting to share my Levantine life with them! We did beach walks, hummus lunches, extended family gatherings, road trips… ah, missing them  so much already…

All that plus a baby shower, a Mums’ karaoke night, closing on a kindergarten for Tom for September, and house hunting. LOTS of house hunting.

Sometimes it feels like time is moving so swiftly without much being achieved so it’s fun to look back and see how much we really did in these months! How is spring treating you so far?

Love Em xx