Joyful Jewish

Sew your own felt latkes

I needed some latke-shaped beanbags for a latke-tossing game (as you do) and a quick browse of the internet lead me toa fantastic tutorial on how to make a beautiful felt latke (and some other cool things).

Latkes made by Brittany, you can find them on Etsy.

Thus inspired, I made half a dozen of my own.  As you can see, my use of darker brown shades of felt give the more realistic impression that I occasionally forget to flip my latkes quickly enough and they do get a little crispier than is perhaps optimal!

Felt latke

Latkes made by me, you can find them on the floor, or wherever they’ve been flipped to recently.

I more or less followed Brittany’s tutorial, but only put the small felt pieces on one side.  Apart from being a bit of a fiddle, it makes it easier to see if you’ve flipped your latke if one side is plain and the other side is fancy.  I attached the small pieces of felt with iron-on double sided adhesive, then just put a few stitches through for decoration.

Felt latkes in a pan

I made a separate fabric pocket containing some rice, and then sewed the felt pieces together either side of it. Hopefully this means that even if the felt comes apart (which is unlikely) the rice won’t be able to leak out.

Anyway, they make great beanbags for latke flipping, latke tossing, balancing latkes on your father’s head, and general flying latke mayhem.  Plus they sit still long enough to be photographed, which is more than I can say about the ones I cooked for dinner this evening.

Cushion detail

This was a very spur-of-the-moment idea.  A friend asked me to bring some cushions for kids to sit on while they listened to Chanukah stories.  I was going to fetch a few out of the attic – we have a stash we keep specifically to recline on at Pesach – when I noticed a neighbour was throwing out 4 plain blue cushions.  Always happy to recycle, I collected them, washed them, and decided to add some easy applique.

Nun gimel

Actually I mentally ran through a bunch of possible decorating ideas before going with what seemed most foolproof!  I printed off outline Hebrew letters in the largest font possible (999pt, in case you were wondering) to use as a template, then used heat-n-bond (something I have only recently discovered, but LOVE) to iron the resulting letters onto a square of co-ordinating fabric, and then sewed that to each cushion cover.  The zig-zag stitching is not perfect, but it does the job and the whole project was done in a couple of hours.

Hey shin

We’ll be dedicating these cushions to the comfort of dreidel spinners’ tucheses for years to come!

HanukkahSongs

My Chanukah song repertoire was limited, and in danger of being swamped by the Christmas carols my daughter was learning at school.  (Not the traditional religious ones, but a curious mix of Australian secular carols involving sleigh-pulling kangaroos, a koala masquerading as the fat bloke in the red suit, and one with the slightly baffling chorus of “We wish you a ripper Christmas, a full-bore ripper Christmas, a dead-set ripper Christmas and a snappy New Year.” )  The time had come to move beyond Maoz Tzur and How Many Candles.

So, I went on an interesting (and occasionally quite bizarre) tour of YouTube and a couple of music download sites (cdbaby.com and bandit.fm) and two nights later I am the proud owner of a rather eclectic collection of Chanukah songs which is proving to be a hit with the entire family.  It does range from the sublime to the ridiculous, including a few parodies, but some of these may appeal to you too, if you don’t know them already. And I may put together another CD this time next year so let me know if you have any suggestions for what to include in my next compilation.

Dreidel  Erran Baron Cohen  (from Songs in the Key of Hanukkah)
Hanukkah Blessings  Barenaked Ladies  (from Barenaked for the Holidays)
Pass the Candle  Michelle Citrin
Maoz Tzur  Achi Ben Shalom   (from Hanukkah Alive)
Candlelight  The Maccabeats
Hanerot Halalu  Mare Winningham (from Craig Taubman’s Lights! Celebrate Hanukkah Live in Concert)
Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah  Erran Baron Cohen (from Songs in the Key of Hanukkah)
Nun Gimmel Heh Shin  The LeeVees (from Hanukkah Rocks)
Be a Light  Neal Katz  (from Be a Light – Chanukah Songs for Grown-Ups)
Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah Barenaked Ladies  (from Barenaked for the Holidays
Ocho Kandelikas Flory Jagoda (from Celebrat Hanukkah)
Spin It Up  Erran Baron Cohen (from Songs in the Key of Hanukkah)
Miracle  The Maccabeats
music

Light One Candle   Peter Paul & Mary
Hanukkah is Right Around the Bend  Poppa’s Kitchen (from A Rockin Hanukkah)
Latke Song  Jill Pakman  (from Chanukah Plugged In)
Mi Yimaleil  Neal Katz (from Be a Light – Chanukah Songs for Grown-Ups)
Sevivon  Achi Ben Shalom  (from Hanukkah Alive)
Eight Nights a Year  Sam Glaser  (from Sam Glaser’s Rockin’ Chanukah Revue)
Hanuka Gelt  The Klezmatics  (from Live at Town Hall)
The Eight Days of Hanukkah  The Belmonts
Latke Clan  The LeeVees (from Hanukkah Rocks)
Rocky Hora Chanukah Song  The What’s Up Band (from Only Hits So Far…)
I Have a Little Dreidel Barenaked Ladies (from Barenaked for the Holidays)
Ocho Kandelikas  Erran Baron Cohen  (from Songs in the Key of Hanukkah)
Get Your Chanukah On  The Velveteens  (from A Chanukah Feast)

Cardboard latkes in pans

I came across this idea here, while looking for some pretend latkes to make.  It’s a cardboard latke attached to a cardboard frying pan.  Finally, mess-free frying!

You will need:
– small cardboard plates
– extra large popsticks (tongue-depressor size)
– sticky tape
– yellow cellophane, or anything else that can represent oil
– glue
– brown and/or cream cardboard
– something to decorate the cardboard to give an impression of latke-ness (I used brown spot stickers cut in half)
– string or wool

To make the frying pan, sticky tape the extra large popstick to the base of a small cardboard plate.
Add “oil” by sticking in a circle of yellow cellophane (or you could draw it in with yellow crayon etc).

Cardboard frypan

Cut out two latke shapes – if you use a combination of colours, it’s easier to see whether or not you flipped it over when you tossed it.  Stick together slightly offset, and decorate.

Cardboard latke

Punch a hole into both the frying pan and the latke, and tie a piece of string or wool to both, so that your latke is much harder to lose.

Practise your latke tossing skills! Flip them up and catch them again.  Flip them over.  Flip them into someone else’s pan. It’s not as easy as it looks when you’re tossing a flat cardboard latke – or maybe I just need a lot more practice!

Flip your latke

I know it’s not good manners to covet, but when I first laid eyes on my friend (The Bible Belt Balabusta) Joanna’s AWESOME pool noodle and stubby holder chanukiah, I knew I had to own one myself.  Lucky for me (and you) she has kindly provided step-by-step instructions for making your own!

I have only a few things to add:

1. As it’s nearly summer in Australia it is extremely easy to find pool noodles.  However, as I discovered after purchasing some likely specimens, not all of them will fit into a stubby holder.  So I recommend taking a sample stubby holder with you on your noodle buying expedition, otherwise you may find yourself suddenly equipped with a couple of extra Chanukah gifts to give away.

2. I would have loved to use plain coloured stubby holders, but I’m not sure you can actually buy them retail in Australia.  I could only find decorated ones, many of very dubious tastefulness.  In the end I sought advice from my daughter’s pre-primary teacher, who directed me to an educational art and craft supply store where I was able to find white ones. We might paint them next year.

3. Even my husband, who claims not to like craft of any description, enjoyed helping make this.  I bought a piece of pine from Bunnings, 1.2m x 9cm x 1.8cm, he cut off three 9cm lengths to raise the shamash, and put everything together.

4. I made flames out of foam like Joanna’s, but they kept tipping over backwards.  I had the idea of wrapping the foam around a popstick, and that helps keep the flame upright.

Roll on Chanukah!

Inspired by Creative Jewish Mom’s dreidel mobiles, (which I made a couple of years ago) my home-made Chanukah cards are spinning dreidels!

I bought a box of coloured cards, and cut nesting dreidel shapes out of each using my wonderful Silhouette cutter.  (I created the outlines myself, thankfully you only need a couple of rectangles and a triangle to make a reasonable dreidel shape.)  Then I mixed up the colours.

To make the card, I taped a piece of white sewing thread from top to bottom of the card (inside), then taped two of the cut-out shapes to it.  The remaining two shapes I glued to the inside right of the card.  As my huband correctly pointed out, this doesn’t leave a lot of space to write a message.  But hey, it looks great!  I’ll write really small around the edge.

I found that the dreidels would often turn to reveal the plain white reverse side, so I decided to decorate them with a magen david sticker in the middle and some text around the outer shape: a homage to the traditional dreidel decoration of the Hebrew letters Nun Gimel Hey Shin which stand for the sentence Nes Gadol Hayah Sham – a great miracle happened there.

The best part of these cards is the movement – the slightest breeze makes them swirl around, and if you blow on them, they spin like crazy!

Spinning dreidel Chanukah card from Joyful Jewish on Vimeo.

This is part one of the story of two chanukiot (chanukah menorahs).  I really wanted to sew a wall hanging of a chanukiah, so I designed a lovely nine-branched menorah on graph paper and scaled it up.

This is how it started.

As will become apparent later, this design turned out to be the wrong size for my planned wall hanging – but I still liked it.  So I decided to make it into something smaller: a challah cover.  Yes I know they usually have a Shabbat theme, for obvious reasons, but I have plans for a number of festival themed covers so we can change them over as we move through the year.

In my haste to get the project underway, I cut out the menorah from a lovely teal blue/gold fabric which, I discoved later that day, clashed with every other piece of fabric I had intended to cut the candles from.  I was about to throw it out and start again when my husband said “that would look great with red”.

I’m not sure that anyone else has ever used red chanukah candles, but when we lived in the UK a decade ago, nowhere near a Judaica shop and well before it became easy to buy anything and everything over the internet, we used to buy candles that were perfectly sized for our chanukiah from our local Asian food shop.  They were very good quality, and they were red, a symbol of good fortune in their country of origin.  In the end, the whole project had quite an oriental flair to it, with the dramatic use of dark colours – a striking contrast to our existing white challah cover!

This is my first effort at a hand appliqued project.  My stitching was a little variable, but I enjoyed incorporating some beads for the wicks and around the candlelight.  And here is the finished product!

Click for larger picture!

Now, back to the wall hanging…

Fun crafts and activities for Jewish families with young children

A resource site for anyone who wants to share the joy of being Jewish with the children in their life.

Enjoy!

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