Every year right before Thanksgiving, the families at Tami’s school get together for a very special day, Intergenerational Day. The students performed for their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and family friends and then head into the classrooms to gather together as a grade level. This year’s theme was “Making Connections”, and Tami built her program and project around her favorite Thanksgiving story, Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen. This is a story of a small girl at a brand new school who does not know the meaning of Thanksgiving. Her teacher tells her that a pilgrim is a person who comes to America from overseas to have a better life. After being given a homework assignment to create a pilgrim doll, Molly realizes that her mother is a pilgrim. She came to America from Russia to have a better life.

When Tami asked her class what a pilgrim was they came up with all kinds of answers; “those guys who came over on that boat,” “people who wore black and white”. After Tami read Molly’s Pilgrim to her class, many students realized that they actually have pilgrims living in their own homes. People full of culture and tradition who came to America from Israel, Iran, and South Africa to improve their lives. The 2nd graders at Tami’s school “made connections” to their parents, grandparents, and other ancestors by finding out more about where they came from, their traditions they brought with them, and their reasons for moving to America.

The students started out by introducing this theme with this poem they read out loud together:

A Pilgrim of Today

A pilgrim leaves his homeland
With many thoughts in mind.
Freedom is the first thing
He’s hoping he will find.
It isn’t always easy
To begin your life anew,
In a land where no one speaks
Exactly the same as you.
So when you meet a pilgrim,
A person from far away,
Hold out your hand and smile,
Tell him, “I hope you’ll stay.”
And be proud that America
Offers the chance to be free,
And welcomes pilgrims of today,
People just like you and me.

– Susan Kilpatrick

Tami collected dolls from her parent’s travels as a child. She put them on display along with the story her class read together as inspiration for this project. Each student created a doll, out of a toilet paper roll, based on their family’s country of origin, culture, and traditions.

In order to transform a toilet paper roll into a beautiful doll, the students used various fabric patterns, eye stickers, yarn, ribbon, sparkles, buttons, feathers and other materials.

Tami created this doll to share with her class. It is based on her own Moroccan culture from her Dad’s side of the family and is dressed up in a caftan ready to attend a Henna Party. She even included a brown stain on the doll’s hand to represent the henna. The doll’s dark brown eyes and hair and olive tone skin are found throughout her family. Check out a real life Moroccan Henna Party here. 

This is an example of a student’s work (a Mariachi man from Mexico) from when Tami taught in Arizona and did this same Thanksgiving project with her students there.

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We just got back from a trip of a lifetime. Unlike other trips we’ve taken to Israel, on this occasion we didn’t have a chance to travel around enjoying all that the country has to offer including its many restaurants and hot spots. Although the reason for our trip was not all together pleasant, we were still able to find inspiration along the way.

For us, Israel is a place of family and culture. A place of comfort. Our Israeli family, as do many other people around the world, show their love, appreciation, and culture through food; whether gathering around the table to share a Friday night meal, celebrating a birthday, or feeding a sick loved one. 

Perhaps the majority of our memories with our “Savta” (Hebrew for Grandma) are related to food. Imagine an elder woman struggling with her arms full of food, walking across an entire apartment complex, up and down two flights of stairs, just to feed her grandchildren breakfast. A joke we share within our family is that Savta’s favorite word is “food” as she is constantly repeating it and trying to feed everyone. It’s not easy for her knowing that now she is the one people are bringing food to.

Our grandmother’s love for the freshest breads, fruits, and vegetables, the sweetest pastries, and the spiciest sauces was an inspiration for us through our short time spent in Israel. Here are some pictures to hopefully inspire you too:

Bread is a staple in every meal. The smell of freshly baked challah, pita, and French rolls fills the air in this bakery.

The “shuk” is an open air market with the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. Its flavorful olives and spices are just as beautiful as they are delicious. As we were walking around sampling all the shuk had to offer, we couldn’t help but think how much better it was than Costco.

This ripe pomegranate was made into the sweetest, most fresh juice right on the spot.

These homemade pastries were sampled during a birthday celebration. They were powdered with sugar, filled with cream, and turned out truly amazing.

Returning to California was bittersweet. Although it was hard to leave our loved ones, we look forward to using this inspiration to recreate some of the meals we tasted while we were there (starting with our daily morning tea which tastes best when simple; hot water with sugar and mint).

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11.23.2011

The leaves are changing colors, the markets are stocking their shelves, and people are making plans to visit their families both near and far. We love this time of year; the smells of nutmeg and cinnamon, pumpkin pie baking in the oven (more like ready made from Costco), and our grandma’s fresh cranberries. Here’s a fun, crafty Thanksgiving project for you to do with your kids, your class, or for your own dinner table.

This adorable turkey was made with just a few easy to find materials; a walnut, a hazelnut, googly eyes, wooden craft sticks, Fall colored feathers, and a piece of Candy Corn.

Add a turkey to each place setting for a creative touch. It can be used as a name card holder for assigning Thanksgiving guests seats around the dinner table.
This time of year reminds us that we have many things to be thankful for; our health, happiness, and our friends and family that mean so much to us. Thanks also to our readers. You keep us excited to write each and every week. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Wishing you all a very happy Turkey Day!


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11.21.2011

We are currently in Israel for only one week. This unexpected trip, to spend some much needed time with family, has inspired us to ask ourselves this question: What does Israel mean to me? A few years ago, when Lauren’s husband, Scott, attended a birthright trip he was fully immersed in culture, tradition, and new experiences. He turned his experience into this amazing poem (photographs also taken during his trip).

ISRAEL TO ME
By: Scott 

What is Israel to me:
Ancient land of history,
Battleground of endless strife,
Nurturer to blooming life,
Breeding front to holy fate,
Bleeding streams of religious hate.
Breezy drafts of seaside air
Jolt the altars of my heir.
From the scenes our father writes
Climb the mountains’ gilded heights.
Desert terrain, olive tree,
What is Israel to me?

So I think both day and night
About the glory of your sight
And the splendor of the sounds
Amid the sacred, hallowed grounds
That Charm an Old City bell,
And lost Talmud scrolls that tell
The origin of olden time,
In blessed verse and humming rhyme.
The splendor in the beaches sand
The Hamsa force of the hand.
The sparkle from the Dead Sea
Reflects the sun’s glittered glee.
The mystic in King David’s tomb,
The pious aura that looms
At the footsteps of the Wall,
Recollects upon every fall.
Honoring the fights well fought
The celebration of Shabbat.

And I boast with source of pride,
With regard to all who died
To help create the Promised Land,
Marched alone, a condemned band,
Prisoners of evils schemes,
The retort of many dreams.
So I strut that gush of pride,
Yet my conscience claims I lied.
As they gaze on buttered bait,
Adjoining states that do trait
Common bonds of bigotry,
Hate does not make sense to me.
Amongst a hidden hinder peace,
Cries the tears of all who cease;
Mid the malign, malevolent mess
Ushers in complete blackness.
The calmness of every grain
Buried beneath blights of pain.

Israel? A plight too deep,
Composed along rigid heap,
Thus I struggle with the news
That the match is poised to lose.
That there’s no end to the fight
Or no true path to the light
That glistens of love and peace,
And tracks the poised dove released
Down the divine temple hall
To end the rancor and gall.
So I think both night and day
How to stop the fiendish fray.
Wishing more there I could do,
Must I part the Red Sea through?
Must I bury every grave
Or seek harbor in your cave
Wrapped with sticks and stone and mud,
Lest I perish from the flood.
Sheltering my eyes and ears
To omit your valid fears
Of death and the threat of war
With hope at our endless core.

Pure, eclectic, epic towns;
Landmarks fashioned out of crowns
Lay along all streets and cliffs.
The Mediterranean drifts
Up and down your Western coast.
In sixty years you can boast
Beauty and stability,
Culture and diversity.
Jacob, Isaac and Abram,
Do we share a common palm
Passed along through pedigree;
That is heritage to me.
Mount Moriah then and now,
Your account I do avow
Is the root of the crusade,
Every difference portrayed,
In the quest for civil greed
Immersed in dogmas of creed.

May you have eternal hope
An undying strength to cope
When each bruise becomes a scar
That screams like a shooting star
Across the still sky and back,
Carving out a hollowed track.
May your soul be forever sealed
In fertile soil that will yield
Blankets for the blood that drips
Down your dry, concealed lips.
And may freedom be embraced
By the dreams, never replaced
Through the tears we cannot feel,
Lies our land, and it is real.

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This past weekend, Lauren attended a Bachelorette Party for her soon to be cousin. The events began Saturday night with a slumber party at the Bachelorette’s childhood home including; pizza, frozen yogurt, scrapbooking, games, and a viewing of the movie “Bridesmaids, and ended with two flat tires, a ride in a police car, and a long drive home.
The girls made pages for the Bride and Groom’s scrapbook with pictures, wishes, and notes to the couple. This is the page Lauren created.

On Sunday morning, a limo came to pick up the girls to take them beer tasting in Santa Barbara.

Each girl was given a pretzel necklace to help them cleanse their palates between tastings.

They enjoyed light blond and avocado honey ale at their first stop, Island Brewery.

Next stop, Vixen Weizen with a hint of banana flavor and apricot wheat ale at The Brewhouse.

We had every intention of making this blog post more about beer tasting and the creativity that the hosts put into planning this Bachelorette Party. However, the most memorable (because it ended up taking up the most time) event of the day was unplanned. After beer tasting, they had lunch at Carlito’s and then began their journey back to the valley. It was a smooth ride, and the girls were making great time, until they smelled burning rubber. The limo driver pulled over and as it turned out he had a flat tire. After a half hour of girls doing potty dances and attempting to change the tire, a nice cop and some helpful friends who happened to also be heading back from Santa Barbara solved the problem. Everyone got back in the limo, and they were on the road again. Five minutes later, another huge pop and more smoke, the new tire was now flat. The same friendly cop pulled over and said over his loudspeaker, “This is ironic”, and proceeded to shuttle the girls off of the freeway to safety. Overall, this was a fun party filled with friends and new experiences, and beer tasting is highly recommended. We love to attend events and get new ideas from other’s creativity. Albeit the many hours it took to finally get home, when unexpected things happen it’s a great bonding experience and will be a funny memory down the road.

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