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

 

 

 

 

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?

IMG_5234.jpg

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.

IMG_5202.jpg

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.

IMG_5210.jpg

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!

Flower crown collage.jpg

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!

IMG_5225.jpg

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.

IMG_5231.jpg

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?)

IMG_5309.jpg

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: 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!

IMG_3838.jpg

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…

img_4012

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).

IMG_3930.jpg

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

IMG_4032

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!

IMG_4169.jpg

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…

IMG_4301

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!

IMG_4338

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!

IMG_4393.jpg

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?

IMG_4510.jpg

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.

IMG_4389.jpg

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?

IMG_4592.jpg

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

 

Kids’ Art Collage DIY

This was a DIY I came up with to solve two problems. We had a large piece of wall art centre stage in our living room and, although I didn’t hate it, I just wasn’t feeling the love for it anymore. We picked it out when we first moved to Tel Aviv but, seven years later, the style didn’t feel right and the colours were definitely all wrong for our space. This is it (please avert your eyes from the clutter of toys on the shelf beneath – or don’t and feel relieved that yours is not the only family that struggles with toy-narchy):

IMG_3897.jpg

In addition, our little Sophie (age 4) has turned into quite a fabulous artist in the past few months. I love her drawings (mainly figures in profile with crazy hair flying out behind them, which I’ve just realized also describes the picture I replaced – spooky!) but it was getting hard to know what to do with them all. I found this article super helpful as it provides a system for sorting through and storing your kids’ artwork. I now have a file folder AND a rotating display in the kids’ bedroom AND a few months ago I also chose some of Sophie’s best pieces and mailed them to her grandparents and some other family members. Win-win-win, right? I know. I surprised myself. The rest get (not too guiltily) recycled.

And then I came across this picture and I became weirdly obsessed with the piece of artwork on the left-hand wall. A very simple framed collage of kids’ artwork, but look how pretty and sweet it is. I decided to make my own!

This DIY involved both spray-painting the picture frame and making the collage to go inside it. In the past I’ve often bought cheap frames or already-framed pictures at the flea market and I’ve found that painting the frames can really give the artwork a new lease of life. It’s also a way to create harmony between a group of pictures or between the art and the rest of your decor. If you’ve never spray-painted picture frames before you can use steps 1 and 2 of this tutorial, regardless of whether you intend to make the collage or not. 🙂

Kids collage materials.jpg

Supplies:

  1. Scrap paper – newspaper is fine, or you can do what I did and cut up used grocery bags.
  2. Masking tape
  3. Scissors
  4. Spray paint in the colour of your choice. I used Rustoleum Ultra Cover Paint + Primer. If your spray paint does not have a built-in primer you will need a separate primer.
  5. Paper to form the backing of your collage – I used brown craft paper.
  6. Glue stick
  7. White card stock to make a picture mat.
  8. Watercolour paints and paintbrush (optional)
  9. Cutting mat (not pictured)
  10. X-acto knife (not pictured)
  11. Ruler (not pictured)
  12. An old picture frame (not pictured)
  13. A selection of your kid’s beautiful artwork!

Note: working with spray paint is rather messy and the fumes can be dangerous. If you have the option, I would recommend doing the painting part of this project outside. We live in an apartment so I just did it on the floor of my laundry room with all the windows open. Take anything you don’t want to get covered in paint dust out of your work area and cover your surface with a sheet – I used an old shower curtain.

kids collage steps.jpg

Step 1: Measure the glass front of your picture frame so you know how big your collage needs to be, then go ahead and cover the glass with scrap paper and tape down carefully. Make sure there are no gaps where the glass peeks through.

Step 2: Follow the instructions on your spray paint and spray the picture frame with as many coats as is needed to get a smooth and even finish. Don’t forget to spray the sides of the frame and the thin strip where the frame meets the glass. The Rustoleum Ultra Cover paint I used includes a primer but I still needed to do about 6 coats, with a few minutes drying time between each coat. I then waited an hour until the frame was dry enough to handle and did one final coat.

Step 3: While the frame is drying you can make your collage. Measure and cut out a piece of paper the same size as the glass part of the frame. If your frame is large you may need to tape several pieces of paper together, as I did. Don’t worry about how it looks: this is just going to be the backing for the collage and won’t be visible. Select your favourite pieces of kid’s artwork – I chose pieces in colours that match our living room decor. Take some time to arrange the drawings on the backing paper, bearing in mind that the edges closest to the frame will be covered by your picture mat. Then take a phone photo so you don’t forget where you put the drawings! (True story). Carefully glue them in their places using the glue stick.

Step 4: Create a mat for your collage using white card stock. This will be a nice border for the picture and creates a more professional-looking finish. I made my mat 5cm wide on each side but you could make yours wider or narrower depending on the overall dimensions of your piece. I cut mine out using a cutting mat and an X-acto knife to get a good straight line. Use the glue stick to glue the mat around the edge of the collage.

IMG_3969.jpg

Sophie admiring her work 🙂

Watercolour picture mat.jpg

Step 5: This step is optional but I found that the white frame, together with the white mat and the collage, which itself contains a lot of white space, combined to create a piece that looked, to use Mr Olive’s phrasing, “a bit anemic”! I created some added contrast and interest by painting watercolour dots on the mat and I think they did the trick! Also, they’re pink, so… (#ihavethisthingwithpink). All you have to do now is put your collage in its frame and hang it in pride of place on your wall!

IMG_4016.jpg

So there you have it! You’ve replaced a piece of art you felt kind of ‘meh’ about with one that you love, and you’ve found a great solution for what to do with (at least a small proportion of) that tsunami of kids’ drawings you were drowning in. But, really, the best part of this project is the fact that for years to come, your kid will be able to see her or his artwork displayed prominently on your wall and know that their creativity is valued and loved. Awwww!