Joyful Jewish

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…

I can’t claim any credit for this recipe – it came from Kveller and you can find it here.  But it is fantastic. I made it last week and not only did I feel like some sort of kitchen goddess for producing something so awesome, but also everyone who ate it loved it.  I am sure you will get lots of compliments too!

I doubled the recommended amounts of cinnamon and cardamom and it was still quite subtle, so if you like that kind of flavour, don’t be afraid to add a bit more.

B’tei avon!

 

My 5 year old daughter can’t remember where she just put her shoes 10 minutes ago, but she has an impeccable memory when it comes to food.  Despite me not having even thought about it, as soon as Sukkot arrived she promptly reminded me of the need to purchase biscuits and lollies (a.k.a. cookies and candy) to make edible sukkot!

As you will see from a quick Image search for edible sukkot on Google, the possibilities are quite varied – sweet or savoury; simple or decorated; mostly healthy or dentist’s nightmare.  Most of them are stuck together with icing (frosting) but that’s too complicated and messy for really small kids who just want to build their own.

Last year our biggest challenge was getting the walls to stay upright.  As you can see here:

This year, I figured it out.  If the walls are thicker, they will stand up by themselves.  Thick, flat-sided wafer biscuits = success!  We used some that are almost square, but if you can only get smaller ones you might be able to stack them like bricks.  No more screams of anguish as yet another wall collapses before the roof can go on!

Unfortunately due to the last minute nature of my shopping, I was not able to track down any stick-like biscuits for the roof (pretzels here only seem to come in the curly variety not straight) but last year we used Pocky sticks, which I developed a taste for when I lived in Japan.  This year we used shortbread fingers, which gave our sukkot a rather solid look.  I’ll be back to something thinner next year.

Next year I wonder if I could thread some Froot Loops onto the Pocky sticks before putting them on the roof??  Hmmm, might need to test that theory out sooner than next Sukkot!

A couple of years ago, I purchased a bunch of Jewish cookie cutters.  They are great, and we now have a family tradition of making Torah shaped biscuits for Simchat Torah.

Last year we decorated our biscuits with sprinkles.

This year we tried a new thing – imprinting a magen david onto the dough before baking it.  I had never done this before but was very happy with how they looked, especially as the recipe I used didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped.  The good news is – they were still absolutely delicious!!

Last year I made some apple decorations to hang in my sukkah after Rosh Hashanah, based on an idea by Creative Jewish Mom.  Then I saved my plastic soda bottles all year so my Shabbat Tot group of kids could all make their own apple decoration for Rosh Hashanah.

To make this craft easy for very young children, I prepared a bunch of different pieces of paper or plastic that I had in my craft stash: printer paper, crepe paper, cellophane, florists’ paper etc – some shiny, some matt, some translucent.  These were all red apart from some gold cellophane to represent honey.  All the kids had to do was select some pieces and scrunch them up, then put them into the container – perfect fun and easy enough even for 2 year olds.  The “honey” went inside too.  To finish off the apple, the child taped on a cardboard leaf.

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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