Saturday, December 31, 2011

Let's Just Call it Chocolate.

"There's something on my pants... I hope its chocolate." I said to Devin after a long day of traveling.

"Let's just call it chocolate and go to bed." My husband responded.

See, what we didn't want to evaluate was whether the crusty food-looking smear on right leg of my skinny jeans was indeed chocolate, or toddler vomit that had been there since the morning. Little Aviel had a bout of motion sickness on an inter-city bus ride to Ikea earlier that day. How gross to think that puke may have been lingering on my clothes all day long, but such is life as a mom!

We were dead exhausted by the time we arrived home. We left the house at 8 am that morning, took three buses to Rishon LeTzion, the home of Israel's Ikea (the one in Netanya burned down *gasp*!), and after a full day of shopping and three more buses, arrived home a staggering 10 hours later.

Into the wash my pants went, without a second thought.

What. A. Day.

It was a good day, but a long day that ended much differently than we had planned.

First of all, we had not planned on Aviel feeling bad on the bus. The poor guy was green and puny looking the entire long ride of the trip. Next, we didn't plan on losing his favorite "blue hat" at the bus station, and finally, we ended up making a totally different purchase than we had planned before we left, but such is life as an Ikea shopper!

Ikea is a unique place in Israel. If it wasn't for the humus served alongside our Swedish Meatballs, or the assertive chutzpa of Israelis in the checkout line, I might have forgotten where we were. Big box retail does not exist in Israel the same way that it does in America. No one stop shopping here. Most stores specialize in a few items and are fairly small in size. We have a some stores that sell a variety of product types ranging from baby needs, to clothes and kitchen appliances, but not many. One in particular I've nick-named "Walmart," although it is small enough to fit in the fresh produce section of an actual Walmart.

This phenomenon--the lack of big box--was a point of culture shock for me when I first moved here. I once bought a birthday present for a friend, but was at a total loss for where to buy wrapping paper. No Target in sight. Now, however, the experience of the big box has become overwhelming!

So many choices...

Products from floor to ceiling...

Beautiful things begging to be purchased everywhere...

Oy vey gevalt!

We entered the land of Ikea, collected our measuring tape, pencil, and mini spread sheet and headed on our way. Destination: New dining room table. After three years of sliding our round table (which only seats four) together with my drafting desk (which requires overhauling our entire office/design studio), it was now time to get a bigger table for our shabbat dinners. We had one in mind, but as we walked through the various show rooms, another table caught our eye. This one was the same size as the table we had initially chosen, but a lower price and much more versatile. After Aviel hopped on the couches for a bit, and a break for lunch, we were confident that this was the table for our family. Easy enough... We'd go get the product info for our table, pick out some chairs, and head home on our merry way.

Think again!

The wood stains of the chairs were all just slightly off from the table. Who would have thought? We pulled down chairs, assembled them at our table... changed table wood stains and assembled more chairs as we chased a increasingly growing-cranky-nap-deprived-toddler around the show room. Aviel eventually went to sleep in the Mai Tai, which gave us just enough quiet time to hear our own thoughts. We evaluated our options, did some calculations, and made our decision: four white chairs for our dark brown table, and four folding chairs to pull out when our table was set for more guests. This seemed like the best option for our desire to be hospitable in a small space with limited storage. What we didn't expect was to find that our folding chairs were sold out once we went to collect them downstairs. Oh the frustration! It was as if the world of Ikea was sucking us in, never to let us leave its abyss of products and endless choices. If we didn't make it out, I might be wearing puke for the rest of my life (because lets face reality... it wasn't chocolate), but at least we'd have a place to sleep, couches to pounce on, and an endless supply of ice cream--parve though it may be.

In our tired state, we decided to simply head home with the table and four chairs, which means we will likely be embarking on another Ikea adventure sometime this spring.

Next time, we're going to rent a car.

Related Posts:

Adventures on the Bus
Sojourining: Homesickness
Redemptive Space

Friday, December 2, 2011

Salt Dough Hand Prints`

Living away from family, we're always looking for ways to make sure everyone feels loved and knows how special they are to us during the holiday season. This year we decided to make a homemade Salt Dough Hand Print Ornanament after a friend, Joy, posted a great tutorial on her facebook wall. It was super easy and Aviel and I had a great time. We put on our play clothes and made a fun floury mess!

Here's the ingredients/materials as found on the link:

4 cups of flour
1 cup salt
Food coloring
Large Mixing Bowl
Water to moisten
cookie sheet
just a tad of oil
a small rolling pin or wooden dowel
a drinking straw
a plate for a guide
paint *if desired

First, I measured out the flour and salt and gave Aviel the grand job of dumping them into a mixing bowl. He was delighted to help. Next, Aviel stirred with a wooden spoon while I slowly added the water. After that, came the fun part. We did a little hand kneading...

And we experimented with the wooden spoon and a rolling pin!

Aviel wanted to "Taste! Taste!" the very salty dough! He played for a few minutes before I took the giant lump and separated it into six balls. The author of the original post only made three, but I was able to get a few more with the same measurements. I guess its just a matter of how big and thick you want each one to be!

I flattened the balls into what Aviel called, "Pie!" and prepared them for Aviel's little hands. This is the only time he became a little impatient. He wanted to continue to play, but this part took a certain amount of precision. We talked it over, then he let me press his hands into the dough. He seemed pretty satisfied after the first one and the rest went smoothly. I then poked holes for the ribbon, placed them on the lightly oiled cookie tray, and into the oven at 150F or about 65C for one hour.

Here's the final product...

All six, ribboned and ready to go!

And the nice glow.

The ornaments that I was happiest with were the ones where I made sure to really press the hand deeply into the dough, with special attention to each finger and the heal of the palm. The dough dries with a nice translucency in the light, so a deep hand print helps with the contrast.

We had such a blessed time making these together, and the sweet little hand print will be a keepsake for years to come! Let me know how yours turn out!

Related Posts:
Aviel David
Binding the Vanity of Creativity