On the way to Quebec

After a lovely wedding weekend, we headed north back to Canada. We didn’t turn on the gps, just drove north, following a map. We figured we’d end up somewhere between Montreal and Quebec, preferably not on the main road.

We did find a tourist information stop, where a few towns were recommended. We missed the fort, but found ourselves in Beloil, buying chocolate. The friendly sales girl wanted to know what the heck a couple of Los Angelenos were doing in a small town in Quebec, just exploring. Since she was from Quebec City, she gaves us a very good tip on what to do there, more on that later.We have some wonderful florists here, with amazing window displays. How nice that in summer, Martin can have this beautiful display outside.There are many beautiful churches here, unfortunately, these days many are no longer in use. This one in Beloil still is.There was a large cemetery next to the church, of course I had to check it out. Joel went and took a walk by the river, there are only so many cemeteries he can visit.  One marker really stood out from the rest.I went to check it out.An eight year old boy, sad, very sad. I didn’t check to see if in later years his parents were buried nearby. If they are still alive, they would be very very old.Another church across the river. I could have just taken pictures of churches there were so many.In Beloil, a 100 year old business, this old town isn’t very big, but it now has restaurants and that gorgeous florist. I like the paint job here, reminds me of colorful New Orleans. Other than this old town, most of Southern Quebec looked dull, main drags that could have been anywhere in Canada or the US, just all the signs are in French.

For some reason we decided to bypass Drummondville which is quite a large city and go on to Trois Rivieres, which is on the main highway. So we drove through driving rain, by the time we got there, we were tired. We drove to the old part of town, the one or two hotels didn’t look good, so we kept going. All we could find were old 1950s motels that looked like they hadn’t been updated at all. So back to town we went, we found an Italian place for dinner. The food was pretty awful, but they kindly directed us here:I took the picture the next morning. We waited half an hour for the owner to come over from her restaurant. Turns out we got a very nice room for the night. Since we had to wait, she even took $5 off our bill, which wasn’t expensive to begin with.While driving through Trois Rivieres I saw a lot of this, outdoor circular staircases going up to the second floor of buildings. Later in Quebec I got the explanation that was very common throughout the Province. Rather than waste space inside on staircases, they are outside. I get it, 100 or 200 years ago people simply lived in weather. They didn’t control it like we do today, so exiting to such a staircase would be normal. I understand that these kind of flats are popular in places like Quebec or Montreal – until you have a baby and need to schlep up and down them with a baby and stroller, especially in winter.

Then we headed out on the Chemin Du Roy towards Quebec. We were expecting to find a coffee shop, no luck, a few towns in, we stopped at a gas station that had a convenience store. The coffee and croissant were fine, but this is advertised as a scenic day trip. Scenic yes, amenities, not really.Yes, a beautiful church among the cornfields.We arrived in Quebec to a whole new adventure.


How to turn a mundane shower gift into something special

I know, when it comes to shower gifts you don’t want to be the one giving the mundane objects, even if they were on the registry list.

Of course this isn’t a problem when one is creative.IMG_5310I went to Smart and Final to buy a #10 can full of whole tomatoes, I’ve used some of them, but most are in smaller containers in the freezer. Following the instructions for #10 Caddy I got to work.P1150469I payed attention to other items on the registry, looks like the bride likes simple grey fabrics.  I had to really dig in my stash to find quiet fabrics.P1150470I added an insert in the bottom, a tin can is a tin can, better have it completely covered.P1150471The instructions are well written.  I followed the measurements exactly and it fit the can perfectly.P1150472.The pockets flaring off the side are practical and pretty.P1150474Those spoons and spatula suddenly don’t look so boring.IMG_5368And look!  It matches the apron!IMG_5369You can’t quite see, but I also made 4 napkins out a simple white text fabric.  Some of the bride’s girlfriends wanted to know if I sell these items.  No I don’t, no one pays me for the time it takes to make something handmade.  I  am thrilled to make gifts to share with people I care about, but it isn’t worth the money.

Basically what I’m saying it, it is worth being my friend.


A most unusual wedding

IMG_4691The reason for our quick trip to Israel was for my nephews’ wedding. A rather blurry image of him putting on the ritz.

A few years ago Meir met Sophia, he is a native Israeli living in Tel Aviv, she is an immigrant from Mexico. Since then he got a job in Barcelona and off they went, it was clear that the wedding would take place in Jerusalem.

IMG_0309With my mother and two brothers. The taller one, Yaacov is the father of the groom.

I have been to all kinds of weddings, this one took the cake for being out of the box. Not in creativity, but in the people involved.  My brother’s family is modern Orthodox, Meir, the groom is secular.  All we knew about Sophia is that her family moved en-mass from Mexico where they converted to Judaism.

Yaacov had commented to me how different Sophia’s family are, good simple people. I know, as a family we are intellectual snobs, it’s not about looking down at people who aren’t highly educated, he was simply stating a fact that this family is very different. Most of the Jews in Central and South America are refugees from Europe due to WWII. Actually Mexico has a large community of people rediscovering their Jewish roots, they fled Spain with the expulsion of 1492, unfortunately the Inquisition followed and many became Conversos- Catholics, who still held on to strange traditions like lighting candles on Friday night or not eating bread one week in the Spring.

Anyone who lives in the southwest is familiar with the many different types of people from Mexico or central America. When I hear someone is from Mexico City (where Sophia’s family originated) I visualize the Mexican who is a blend of the many cultures that settled there.IMG_0311Sophia is gorgeous. I had met her before and she is lovely. When her family converted and moved to Israel – they too became very Orthodox,  much more so than my brother. She like Meir is now secular. But one thing that caught me by surprise is the family as a whole.p184lpnn1d1mjl1fpq1rla1pgasim4I didn’t take many pictures at the wedding, all of the pictures are thanks to Joel pulling out his phone. I found this image online and I’m sharing it here, the two little girls in the bottom left are cousins of Sophia. In LA, this ‘type’ of Mexican is part of the landscape, these are not Conversos, these are native to Mexico, long before the Europeans arrive. How they learned about Judaism I don’t know, but there is now a large community in Cochav Yaacov  in Israel.  Israel is the most amazing country in the world, it really and truly is the most diverse nation outside of the US. Unlike the US, it is a tiny county. There is a pull for many people to become Jews and to move to Israel, on the settlement that this family lives there are immigrants from the US, Europe, Africa, India, South America. The one thing that unifies them is that they are Jews – either by birth or by choice.IMG_0251As I mentioned, not a lot of photos, so I’ll share what I have which is mostly family. I’ll get back to the interesting story as well, since it didn’t stop,  My nephew, his wife and sister, yes I have a very good looking family.IMG_0246On the left my brother and sister in law with her sister and brother in law.  Pay attention to the backdrop, this is the real deal, the wedding was overlooking the old City of Jerusalem, so those walls in the background aren’t some painted back drop.  Of course the breathtaking setting added so much to the atmosphere.IMG_0253I’m glad Joel handed me the phone so I could get a picture of him.IMG_0269I can’t explain why these two are in most of the pictures. Sure handsome couple, but they aren’t the only ones.IMG_0275All the cousins in one shot. I love how the groom and his brother (who is married but no kids yet) are holding the baby who belongs to the couple to their left. Yes, mom and dad can’t wait till you have one of your own!! (more than one really). One nephew couldn’t make it, he is still in the army and couldn’t get out to join in the festivities.IMG_0273Great looking kids against a beautiful backdrop.IMG_0353And then the wedding returned to surreal. As I mention, my brother is modern Orthodox, but because Sophia’s family is much stricter, there were some interesting things happening. First of all, the dress covering her from head to toe, the large opaque veil – that wasn’t her choice that was honoring her mother. Here she is walking down the aisle with her mother and grandfather. Unfortunately her father has passed away.IMG_0365Traditional Chuppah. I just wish the photographer and videographer weren’t right in there, they blocked out view.  So for the first time in almost 40 years, I am at a wedding where the couple is secular, and men and women are asked to sit separately. Not one family on either side, women on one, men on the other. I had to comment to the lesbian cousins that they lucked out, they could sit together.

The Rabbi was very interesting. These days the ministry of religion which is responsible for marriage, has become an awful, power grabbing, domineering entity. There is no civil marriage in Israel, but there is a concept of ‘known as married’, which is practically the same thing. Almost 40% of Israeli couples are going that route. This wouldn’t be the case here with this wedding.  Enter Tzohar, a wonderful organization that is trying to return Judaism to the people and wrest it away from the Rabbinate that is creating so much antagonism to Judaism in the land of the Jews. So the Rabbi performed a lovely ceremony that I would have expected from a moderate religious wedding. He also really took the time to get to know the couple over Skype, it felt very warm and personal.

And then we went in to hall, where we found that our side of the family had mixed seating, her side were separated from us by a curtain and then separated out, men and women.

Initially when the bride and groom came out to the dance floor it was not only separate dancing but once again, the men were behind the curtain. When my niece married the first dance was separate circles of men and women, but that quickly broke down. Here all the excitement was on the women’s side, the men didn’t dance much. Later it was pretty much the groom’s side that danced the ‘regular’ secular dances.

At one point a Rabbi who is part of the Mexican community gave a Torah sermon, not something we usually see at weddings. I’m happy to say I understood the Spanish quite well, he then repeated it in Hebrew.  It was tying the week’s Torah Portion to the concept of marriage. What was interesting was that the portion was all about the sacrifices one brings to the Temple – so utterly different from what Sophia’s ancestors from long ago were doing in Mexico, where not only was animal sacrifice par for the corse, but so was human.  One of those things that struck me as miraculous, from the  journey from jungle, through modern Mexico to Jerusalem.IMG_4692And at the end of the evening, the very proud parents of the groom. Another kid married off! A job very very well done.


California Wine

Take some grapes, squeeze out the juice let it ferment and you have wine. But selling the wine has become an enormous business. It’s all in the marketing.P1110515It doesn’t hurt that vineyards on a gentle hillside are gorgeous.P1110514Or that the vine itself is a pretty thing to behold.P1110520Not to mention that the grapes are things of beauty, jewels on the vine.P1110522P1110523Make sure to build very pretty tasting rooms, even the parking lot  must stand out.P1110513 Choose a cute nameP1110518Pay great attention to decorating detailsP1110517Like using wine barrels and other local crops as props.P1110539A Venetian lion as a logo doesn’t hurt.P1110542But this sign actually made us stop and buy some port and chocolate.

21044665059_f98c66db06_oOf course sit down for a tasting with all the flowery language used to explain what we are drinking, in this case, we also enjoyed our own cheese and crackers.

IMG_3650The real reason for the trip, a wonderful wedding in a vineyard.IMG_3673Where I got to celebrate with the mother of the groom, a very dear friend, as well as wear my newest party dress.IMG_3670Then watch a gorgeous sunset over the vines.


More pre-wedding

All the preparation and the wedding is over.  I will be sharing many pictures, this next set is the hours right before the guests arrive and the festivities start. The center piecesHere is how all those flowers ended up. The Dads have a wonderful succulent garden. Three months ago they planted 22 pots, which gave them time to get established. Yoch found these jars at Michaels’ and as you can see, what a great way of marking the table number. Candles wrapped in burlap and rocks, each with a saying or image on them.Place setting cards, rocksEveryone got their own rock with their name and table no.  At the end of the evening most were left behind. They will end up recycled into the landscape  at camp.Proud parentsHere we are in all our finery. No I did not make the dress!  I bought it at a vintage store, Playclothes in Burbank. That stretch of Magnolia Blvd has some excellent stores. I have never seen anything this green! It’s from the 1960s’ and is some kind of polyester. IMG_3645 - Version 2I love the shawl collar and the pin!  Such a simple vintage piece.IMG_3656Last year’s wedding couple already have a baby bump! 20140526-071533Nice thing about having a wedding at camp, who doesn’t love a swing?IMG_3658Grandkids put on their fancy clothes. Aytan didn’t take the bow tie off all evening, Shira lost the flower quickly.image_7Signing the Ketubah, Jewish marriage contract.imageWalking the groom down the aisle. Yes, grandson with Spiderman were part of the procession.image_2Under the ChuppahimageThey are married!image_5

With some of the girlfriends.

We will get professional pictures soon, but I so excited. Had to share what we have right away!


Wedding weekend, the rehearsal dinner

Wedding festivities have begun.  Went out to the venue on Friday to help set up the centerpieces.  I’ll only be able to show those after the wedding, we want this to be a surprise after all. I can say that everything looks wonderful.

Last night was rehearsal/out of town dinner and boy did we have a good time.proud parents Here are most of the parents, Joel and myself, the Dads. (yes they officially adopted Yochanan a few years ago). We are missing his mom, one day of festivities is enough.IMG_3622Yoch didn’t want to wear the groom button (or should I say, massive badge). Joel was able to reuse his Father of the groom hat from last years wedding

IMG_3625 The dads and the grooms.IMG_3623 I am extremely pleased with the dress, love how well it came out. Love wearing it at such a wonderful occasion.IMG_3628 Here we have last years couple, Elk and Mandy with a five month baby bump! Yay!  It’s another boy.IMG_3633You can just see the joy on their faces.

IMG_3635Guests look happy too, even Mickey mouse. Also, you notice that I have my handiwork around the house, it’s not just for show.

And now, onto the wedding itself!


Shopping for flower girl dress and ring bearer Tuxedo.

With all my creative efforts you’d think I’d be sewing a most adorable dress for my granddaughter who will of course be the flower girl. You would be wrong, very wrong.  Here in LA we have, downtown LA fashion district. That is where I have bought some very unique fabric, trim and other items for my creative endeavors.

There is a specific area – Santee Alley – which is well known for it’s inexpensive clothes, knock-off watches and handbags. 20 years ago the alley was one small block long. Now, it stretches from Olympic Blvd all the way to Pico, 0.3 miles long.

They have some little children’s clothes but it’s at the Pico end, on Maple street that they sell all the wonderful party dresses. So Becky and I  went off shopping.party dresses downtown LAYes, that price is accurate, they sell these dress from $10 – $40.  I can’t compete and btw, they are adorable little dresses.Party dressesOk, those bows look tacky, but they are just pinned on, easy to remove. First good option, flower girl dressAt our very first stop we find this, it’s green which is perfect, It’s got bling, but not over the top.  We sent a picture off to the boys, sure fine they say. But what’s the fun in buying the first thing you see. On we went.green and white dressVelvet green top? No, the green is too dark and it almost looked to Christmas to us.grey party dressLovely gray, everything is perfect about this one. (Gray, green, black are the colors) except one thing – they don’t have it in a small enough size. downtown LA party dressThen we find this one, perfect! (we will probably lose the flower).  A little more elegant, a little greener. We send off this picture and the response is – perfect get this one. Just to be sure we go back to check dress one – it had already sold. Yes, it is the day before Easter, I’m sure many a mom were out looking for an Easter dress.  For $25, I couldn’t make this, the materials along would cost more, not to mention my time

Oh and a suit for the ring bearer?boy suitYeah, went into one store, it was black or gray. Last year he wore black at Elk and Mandy’s wedding. So this year, it’s gray. We will lose the tie and pocket patch, wrong colors. But the whole suit comes as one unit. If I can’t find something green, it will simply be a the suit and shirt – no extra color.  No question, shopping for little girls is much more fun.

Also, these are staying at my house, I know Aytan doesn’t care about the suit (no spiderman on it), but Shira would never take off that dress. We want it new and lovely for the wedding.


It works! Chuppah trial run

Yesterday the boys went to visit the Dads in the OC and put the Chuppah together.                             First they ordered 8′ birch poles.Chuppah polesHere are the poles leaning up against the side of the house. Sturdy and tall enough for a lot of people to stand under.Sturdy eye hooks on birch polesThese are what I call massive eye hooks. No problem of the chuppah falling off of these, even if it was twice as heavy. Lucky for us Paul has some massive tools, so this was not a problem for him to drill and glue the hooks in place.The Chuppah, trial runAnd here it is, luckily Paul has long arms so he is holding two poles while Yoch is taking the picture, I have no idea if there was a decision to coordinate the orange shirts. Yup, that’s my boy Yishai with a big grin on his face.

This really was a group effort. Yoch came up with the design idea and pieced the top and bottom. I pieced the corners, quilted and bound it. As well as came up with the sturdy ties.

Paul and Darryl bought the poles and affixed the eye hooks and are the first to give it it’s first trial run. 35 days from now, the four brothers will be proudly holding up the chuppah while Yish and Yoch stand under it to get married. I’m getting all verkelmpt, so I’ll stop here.