Saturday, February 28, 2009

Who Am I?

A couple of days ago, Meital brought home several lovely plants as gift for Family Day. There was an African violet for my mother-in-law, a diffenbachia for Liat, and this plant for Avi and me. Problem is, I can't identify it!

Can you help?

The plant has these long, thin leaves with pointed tips. There are deep pink stripes running along the edges of the leaves, and a pale stripe down the center. I don't know if it likes direct sun, shade, or something in between. What other kind of care does it need? It's already got roots coming out of the little hole at the bottom of the plastic pot; does that mean I need to repot it?

In case you can't tell, I know nothing about plants, and when it comes to houseplants, Avi isn't much different. I would love to take proper care of this gift, so if you have any tips and advice, please pass them along!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

First Orders

Or, in Hebrew: צו ראשון (tzav reeshon)

As many of you know, most Israelis - girls as well as boys - serve in the Israel Defense Forces starting at age 18. Boys usually serve for three years, girls for two.

Today, Liat received her first orders from the army. It's basically a call up to come to a physical exam and a written exam, with the option for an interview. Most kids get their first orders once they've hit sixteen and a half. Liat's half birthday was on Sunday, and she's been haunting the mailbox all week. She doesn't need to appear until June, but she's thrilled to have gotten the callup.

While she won't actually be inducted into the army until she hits 18; this is the first step in the process leading up to that. Over the years, she has gone from saying she doesn't want to serve in the army at all (about age 10) to insisting she wants to try to get into an elite unit, and rejecting the idea of doing any kind of desk work (such people are scornfully referred to as "jobniks"). I am happy she is looking forward to the experience, and a bit nervous that she wants a serious role (whatever that may turn out to be) instead of something that would enable her to come home every night instead of living on a base.

It's going to be a very interesting experience, for all of us.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Today I finally finished the wristwarmers for my sister. Since my usual hand model was at school and my photographer wannabe was home sick (again), I had Meital take this photograph. These wristwarmers look absolutely ridiculous without hands inside. The pattern is mine with help from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, and the yarn is Schaefer Anne.

I made these Frosted Cakey Brownies a couple of days ago, and they are a hit. Problem is, the recipe makes a 9 x 13" pan's worth of lusciousness, so 'twould be well to make these when you are expecting guests. Or a horde of starving teenagers.

In other news, I made a card I am very pleased with but cannot share with you for the time being. I am also working on a triple-tag card that I hope to be able to share with you soon. I finished my first Better Than Vanilla Sock, and cast on for the second. And I have made good progress on Liat's bolero.

And the unprecedented part? Well, of course casting off the wristwarmers meant I was free to cast ON for something new. The Wisdom Yarns Poems that I purchased in Oklahoma City a couple of years ago was calling my name, so I started a neck warmer pattern that my friend Joansie featured on her blog a while back. Thanks, Joansie, for finding and knitting up that pattern so that I could discover it while admiring your lovely neck warmer. Hope I finish mine before it gets too hot to wear it.

With the neck warmer on the needles, I once again have four knitting projects in progress. The unprecedented aspect to this is that three of those projects are for me. It feels very odd, let me tell you!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Charming Gardeners

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

This has been a great week. First of all, I've been riding high on great news from last week, but more than that, several friends have made a special effort to reach out to me. Just when I think I can't be any luckier in the friends I have found, something happens to prove me wrong; I am luckier still.

Even when it seems all is darkness and despair, my friends come along and show me the sunshine. They reach out, showing me they are thinking of me and care for me. Indeed, they make my soul blossom.

So thank you, all my dear friends. I treasure you more than you know.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Challenge

Here is another card I did for a Club Posh challenge. The theme was "retro" and we needed to include four squares in our card. I couldn't get the idea of the infamous 1970s kitchen appliances colors out of my mind whenever I tried to picture my "retro" card, so that's what I was shooting for here. The yellow and green cardstock were part of my gift from Trudy. What do you think of when you hear the word "retro"?

Also today, I did a little translating, ironed some shirts, and cleaned the oven. Thrilling, wouldn't you agree?

The plant from a couple of posts back is, as Bobbi guessed, a potato plant. Just in case anyone was wondering.

With any luck, tomorrow will be more interesting. I don't really see how it could be otherwise.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I have been extremely lucky to find some truly wonderful, kind, thoughtful and generous friends on the Internet over the years. One such person is Trudy, a stamping friend who sent me the goodies you see above.

The package arrived today. I knew it was on the way, sort of a pick-me-up gift from someone who knew I'd need one. But I never expected this! Each item you see was individually gift-wrapped, so I felt like I was opening about ten years worth of birthday presents!

So many of these items are things I've seen, and wanted, but told myself I didn't need right away. Now I have so many excellent toys to play with. I spent a lovely time finding places for each of these things, rearranging and searching for just the right drawer, shelf or container. I made notes in the little booklet I take with me on vacations, where I have lists of all the ink pads, paints, colored pencils and markers I own (it actually helps, most of the time, so that I don't come home with duplicates).

Trudy sent me stamps, ink pads, markers, alcohol inks, several kinds of stickers, colorful paper, a huge variety of tags...and she filled in the empty spaces with pretty colored felt fabric sheets tied up in a beautiful ribbon.

Who knows what I'll be able to make with all of these fabulous supplies?

Thank you, Trudy, from the bottom of my heart!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Card and a Mystery

I had such fun making this valentine for Meital! The design was posted in a tutorial on Splitcoast Stampers. The piece on the left is the envelope, the card is on the right. I used chalks for coloring, in two ways I'd never tried before. The dolls were colored using a blending pen, which is basically a pen filled with a thick, clear ink. I touched the tip of the pen onto a corner of my little pans of chalk and sort of painted the stamped & embossed image with the wet chalk. The small hearts on the envelope and the large one on the card were done using a Perfect Medium ink pad(also a clear, thick kind of ink) to ink the images, then the chalk was added using a soft, broad-tipped brush almost like the kind you'd use to put on blusher. It was fun trying new things, and I love the soft look of the chalk. I think Meital, who loves pastel colors, will like it, too.

And here's today's mystery. Can you guess what kind of plant this is?

I've done a little work in my altered book today, but I really need to get some more valentines done. I never did get around to making any to send out to my friends and family in the U.S., but I at least want to make cards for Avi and the girls. If there's time, I'd also like to make the somewhat traditional bookmarks I give the girls almost every Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


"...a stimulating task or problem."
Webster's Dictionary

Every Thursday a new stamping challenge is issued at Club Posh. They are always fun, and often inspire me to try new things or revisit old tools or techniques. This week's challenge was more complicated than usual. The challenge was issued on 02.05.09, and we needed to use exactly the number of items specified: 2 colors of cardstock; 5 stamped images (they can be all the same or different); 9 different supplies. It took some thinking and fussing/fidgeting, but I think I've got it. The two colors of cardstock I used are pale blue and white, the five stamps are the wall of blocks and the cast of characters, and the nine supplies are: ink, paper trimmer, bone folder, sponge, template, scissors, adhesive, Coluzzle, and a glitter pen. I call it Igloo Apartments.

In case you are wondering if there's any knitting going on in the midst of this stamping marathon, fear not! Above you see one finished wristwarmer and the start of the second. These are done in Schaefer Anne yarn and are for my sister. They are progressing slowly, but they are progressing. Luckily, she lives in Northern California, where it's cold even in the summer!

This is the first in a pair of socks for me. The pattern is called Better Than Vanilla and is available on my friend Judy's website. It's a free pattern, and it's easy to remember and fun, too. What more could you ask? The yarn is Opal Magic, which was a gift from Judy. What a woman, talented and generous! She has a book of sock patterns coming out soon, and I can't wait to get it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Stamping

After getting the rest of our translation work done yesterday, I was able to spend most of today playing in my stamp room! I made up a bunch of cards, including the one you see above. Admittedly, my goal was to make as many as I could, and to use up some of the accumulation of patterned papers I've got cluttering up my stamping room. Can't say I made much of a dent, but it's a start!

I also worked some more on my altered book. Above you see one of the "layouts" or I guess you could say two-page spreads? Not completely familiar with the terminology, but I guess you can tell what you're looking at, right? On the right is a story called The Two Wolves which, along with the photo you see above the story, came in an e-mail from my absolutely wonderful friend Beverly. The story really resonated with me, so I included it in my a.b. On the left, I stamped a little scene (first in a very long time) representing a path with a fork in it, which is to remind me of my favorite poem, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. I am very pleased with the way these pages turned out.

This afternoon I started on the next two pages, but as you can see, I haven't gotten very far. My modus operendi so far has been to glue a couple/few pages together, then paint a thin layer of gesso over the printed text in the book. In this yellow layout, I also cut out a circle to make a little window to the next layout. I am going to put some vellum in there, I think, rather than leave it open like it is now. I sponged some ink on the pages, then sponged some more with two different templates in place. I let a couple of phrases from the original text of the book show through; I think they are pretty apt. I know what message I want to include on these pages, now I'm figuring out how I want to do that.

It took me a long time to come to accept that it would be okay to actually paint, glue and cut up a book. For my first altered book, I chose a 1992 edition of Mystery Writer's Market (yes, I used to write mystery stories and even one book, and tried to get them published). At the very least, all of the contact information is out of date. Could be that some of the addresses are wrong, that some magazines have gone out of business, and others have started up. So I persuaded myself I wouldn't be struck by lightening if I "arted up" this book. It's a hardcover, and of a decent thickness without being overly tome-ish (is that a word?). I have cut out some pages entirely, because when you add paint, collaged images and what not, you add thickness to the book. I glue the pages together so they can stand up to their new duties.

I'm using this altered book as an art project plus journal, and so far I'm finding it remarkably therapeutic.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Been So Long

Things have been pretty crazy around Bag of Chocolates lately, and I want to apologize for the dearth of posts. All kinds of things have been happening, and among the good things is the acquisition of a new client for our translation business. It's a very large company, internationally known. Not sure if I should name it or not, so while I apologize for being coy, I'd better not say more. But trust me, if this client gives us more business, we will be extremely happy!

Here is a peek at the cabled bolero (called a shrug on the pattern website) that I am making for Liat. The yarn is Peruvian Highland Chunky from Elann. Lovely soft yarn, and the pattern is actually fairly easy. There are no written instructions for the cabled section, only a chart. You'd think with my history of cross stitching, charts would make more sense for me, but for some reason when it comes to knitting I find them confusing. But as I said, this pattern makes sense and after a while, it's not so hard to keep track of things. Well, especially if you've got a row counter on your needle and are making little tick marks on a piece of paper as well! Hmmmm...

I've changed two things in the pattern: Liat said 'no thanks' to the bobbles, and I decided to make the cables on either side of the main area both twist towards the middle, instead of both twisting to the same direction.

I also started a fun new project this week, an altered book. I will share photos of that as it progresses. It's a combination of words and art journal I decided to start recently, to process and chronicle things that are happening in my life. Even though I'm only at the beginning, it's been a wonderful form of therapy for me; yesterday I had a terrible headache, but while I worked on the book I felt peaceful and content, and didn't notice my headache at all. I've suggested to Liat that maybe a couple of her friends (who seem to be going through some difficult times, themselves) might like to join in for a little fun and art therapy, and she already has one friend interested. It would be such a pleasure to share this kind of creativity with Liat and her friends.

We still have one more document (of a whole mess of things that came in over the past two weeks) to translate, then perhaps we'll have some time to relax. I'd love to spend more time on my hobbies, and less time working! But then, wouldn't we all?