Thursday, August 11, 2011 Miriam and Jakes wedding, including my love birds ketubah!

Photo by: Hazelnut Photography
Many of the couples I have worked with this summer, are being featured on blogs this month. Have a look at this stunning wedding featured on – and my love birds ketubah.

Mazel Tov Miriam and Jake!

Michael and Meredith's Miami Beach Wedding: with my tree of life ketubah!

Photo by: Emily Harris Photography
While away in Europe I got a message from Style me Pretty alerting me to a wedding post including one of my ketubot. You can see the whole post here. The most beautiful couple in an awesome venue!

Mazel Tov Michael and Meredith!

Monday, June 27, 2011

100 miracles

When I opened my etsy shop in August, after more than a year of preparation (learning how and building my freshketubah website, learning about and creating this blog, reading everything I could find about opening a shop and how to promote it, creating the initial designs I would try to sell ...), I thought I was ready for whatever would happen next. But I also tried to be realistic about the experiment I was embarking upon.

When the first miracle happened the next day, and I had my first ketubah order, I had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming! When I finished pinching, the real panic set in, as I was completely unprepared to fill orders. I am embarrassed to say I still did not have my ketubah text options completed, shipping materials in hand or any branded forms/mailing labels or letterhead. No proofing forms or even a process in place to keep track of any of it.

In Hebrew there is a saying: “the shoemaker walks barefoot”. You would think after 20 years of creating branding and marketing material for my clients, I might have been a bit more prepared.

But you see, I had not in my wildest dreams thought I would have sales right away— or ever for that matter. And to this day, after reaching my 100th miracle sale, I am still pinching myself to be sure I am not dreaming.

It is a moment in time, when people with a dream can make miracles come true. It is a time when you can, with a bit of initiative, learn like I did, to set yourself up with an online shop, and with hard work, make a go of it. It is an amazing opportunity, which I hope I never take for granted.

So a humungous thank you to etsy for existing, and to the hundreds of people at the other end of my internet searches, who answered my questions, gave me encouragement, taught me techniques, filled the blanks in my knowledge base, and kept me moving forward. And to my 100 miracles — let me just say, you are awesome, every single one of you :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mazel tov all around!

Family Simcha’s are the best! Family members fly in from all corners of the country/world to spend three days and nights, dressing up (some of us are more comfortable with this than others ... ), filling our tummies with delicious Jewish food, commenting on how great we all look, and kvelling about the latest accomplishments of our children or grand children. In the middle of all of this, is the actual reason for us being together — The Wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Brit Mila or Baby Naming. No matter what the Occasion is, there are always tears of joy, mazel tov’s all around, and a few extra pounds on the scale by the time all is said and done. Those of us that couldn’t make it to the event wait impatiently for the facebook updates and online slideshows. In our family — news travels so quickly — that any noteworthy tidbit makes it from Vancouver to Jerusalem and back almost simultaneously! By the time the pictures arrive we are all convinced we were actually there, even if we weren’t!

In May this year, our family was lucky enough to have two beautiful Simchas in very close succession. One in Vancouver and one in Toronto — and Marc and I were lucky enough to be able to enjoy them both first hand. In anticipation of both events, I started planning what I would make for each of the girls experiencing their rites of passage this past May. 

India Raine (Is that not the most beautiful name you have ever heard?) came into this world on December 13th 2010. I think that it is safe to say, that there is a competition going on between the parents, grandparents and super baba (India’s great grandmother), as to who can love this beautiful baby girl the most! And the rest of the extended family is not far behind. 

I set to work creating a baby naming certificate for India several months ago. I was so excited about it, that I came up with a number of ideas. The final design is pink pink pink! India’s favourite colour. Lots of pretty flowers and two happy peacocks. The final artwork was ready for her naming ceremony mid May, here in Vancouver. India, dressed in pink (of course), was a perfect lady during the proceedings, letting mommy and daddy, all of the grandparents and super baba do all of the crying! It was amazingly beautiful and meaningful. I still get teary just thinking about it. 

Less than two weeks later we were on a plane to Toronto for the next amazing family extravaganza. 

Sarah is many years past her baby naming ceremony. This year was the year for her to prepare for becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Anyone that has gone through this process, knows it is a lot of hard work. There is a whole year of study. A Torah portion and Haftorah to understand and learn how to read, and how to chant. And then a speech to write about the whole experience. And on top of everything, this all has to be performed in front of a packed Synagogue of family and friends. It seems impossible to expect this of a 12 year old ...

But I forgot to tell you that Sarah plays hockey. She is a goalie, and a really good one — She doesn't shy away from difficult tasks.

I knew I wanted to create a keepsake for Sarah that included her Torah portion and symbols of her coming of age this year. Her Torah portion is called Bamidbar, which means “in the desert”. As we all know — lots of crazy stuff went down in the 40 years our ancestors wandered in the desert. G-d didn’t have a lot of nice things to say about the experimentation, and some of that tantrum ended up in Sarah’s portion. I didn't dwell on that though — I had my own interpretation. The way I see it, everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them and to always remember who you are. So for Sarah, I incorporated the symbols of the sabbath, the Torah, and scenes of Israel with the words she studied and learned to chant so beautifully, into a keepsake that I hope will remind her of her incredible achievement becoming a Bat Mitzvah and her connection to the Jewish people. 

Like the 40 years in the desert, preparing for a Bat Mitzvah, was no picnic. But with hard work comes big rewards. The Bat Mitzvah weekend was amazing. Sarah outdid herself. If she was nervous, it didn't show for a moment. We all got to dress up and eat non-stop for three days — and — really enjoy each others company. Seeing her beaming parents and grandparents as the Bat Mitzvah girl recited her haftorah and delivered her speech at the Synagogue and later at the evening dinner party, was priceless. 

Sarah’s younger sister Chloe was the master of ceremonies for the Saturday evening party. We have a few years to wait for her turn on the Bimah — but if the previews are any indication, it will be a Simcha not to be missed! 

Mazel tov to India and Sarah and to families everywhere celebrating — and eating — and crying tears of joy!

Kibbutz celebrating 100 years

Adamit General Meeting by Barbi Bamberger

This quilt was made by my good friend Barbi Bamberger. We spent 11 years together on Kibbutz Adamit. Our son’s were born just months apart and were part of the same group from their time in the baby house through to grade school on kibbutz Eilon.

This quilt was made for a major quilt exhibit called “A Century of Kibbutz”, at Beit Gavriel located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and won an honourable mention! Yay Barbi! Her quilt depicts the weekly kibbutz meeting where we discussed and voted on all major decisions about our daily lives on the kibbutz. As you can see from her depiction, we all had different things on our minds while these big decisions were being made! The meeting took hours and was often very lively, but it also was a time for finishing knitting and quilting projects, or catching a cat nap.

As the kibbutz movement celebrates 100 years, Kibbutz Adamit celebrates it’s 40th birthday. To commemorate this, many of us will be returning to Adamit for a reunion in November. I am looking forward to seeing this quilt in person and reminiscing with old friends about the discussions that kept us up until the wee hours, the community we created together, one committee meeting at a time, the cakes we baked for aruchat arba, the nes cafe we drank in the moadon, the Shabbat meals in the communal dining room, the baby quilts made together, the apples, that were picked ... and so much more.

If you watch this video, you will see and hear about the other 55 quilts in this exhibit. It brought back great memories for me. I hope you enjoy it.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

New offering at my shop: Wedding Guest Posters!

I have been watching the amazing growth of fingerprint trees and wedding guest book alternatives on etsy over the last year and decided it was time for a fresh approach. So I am happy to announce a new section at my shop called Wedding Guest Posters. Instead of fingerprints, I have leaves already in place for guests to sign. As I write this post, I am dreaming up other designs for wedding showers, baby showers, birthday parties ... it is endless.

Each poster is (at the moment) 13 x 19 and accommodates from 100-200 signatures depending on the design. Each poster comes with a small poster with instructions that can be framed.This message can be customized to suit each event.

The posters are printed on the same beautiful paper my ketubot are printed on - and some of them coordinate with ketubah designs which may be of interest for some of my wedding buyers.

Check it out and let me know what you think! If you want one of these for your next wedding/shower/bat/bar mitzvah, head over to my shop and send me a convo or email at naomibroudo[at]gmail[dot]com. Have fresh ideas for me? I would love to hear from you :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Note to self: Do not seal camping equipment in a box

To say there is a lot going on in the Broudo household at the moment would be an understatement. I never thought I would be thanking Canada Post for being on strike, but the excuse to put my etsy shop on holiday couldn’t have come at a better time.

Let’s see ... besides planning our September/October car trip in the US South West, planning our November trip in Israel, organizing gear for our trek in Nepal in December, and gear for our 82 day overland trip in India, we are also moving out of our apartment, putting all of our worldly possessions in storage until we return from the 2011/2012 Broudo adventure. So — a few things going on.

Every day has it’s accomplishments as well as its surprises. Yesterday in preparation for our now weekly trip to MEC (Mountain Equipment Co op, for those of you reading that are not from BC), we bravely opened the storage locker and pulled out the box labelled “camping equipment”.

Nothing like the aroma of camping equipment that has been sealed in a box for a year! I guess it could have been worse, but we both almost fainted from the stench. Then figuring out how we would take it up the elevator, into the apartment without offending our neighbours — oh well, we are moving out so what the hell.

I immediately filled the tub with warm sudsy water, added two knapsacks, and was delighted to find that if you repeat this several times, the smell and the dirt does actually disappear! Even more remarkable is that by this morning, the bags are almost dry. kudos to quick dry technology!

Our (now clean) tent is draped over a drying rack in the living room. One knapsack is hanging from the shower and the second is drying on a rack in the tub. There is a sleeping bag drying over a chair in the kitchen. thermarests are blown up for testing.

The apartment looks like a campsite after a wild night of partying. The good news is, it doesn't smell like one anymore!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer in Vancouver: Friday May 20th to be exact!

Last Friday the temperature in Vancouver hit 17 degrees. The sun was shining for the first time in an eternity and we all got excited that Summer had actually arrived. Historically, this phenomenon is fleeting, so Vancouverites have to move quickly. There were sandals to dust off, summer wardrobes to review – and of course the first summer pedicure to book.

I wasted no time, and took my chances as a walk in, at my local mani/pedi establishment at 10:00 am as they opened their doors and placed their sandwich board signage on the sidewalk. I had chosen my polish colour, and had magazines in hand before the rest of the staff entered through the back door.

Nothing like bubbling sudsy water, piles of gossip magazines, and a comfy black leatherette massage chair to transport you to another world. Who ever came up with this combination of blessed therapy was brilliant. “The Price is Right” was on the television as I sat down, and before long I was shouting out prices and ohing and ahing with the audience as if I was actually there.

For an hour as my feet were being pampered and my toes were being painted, and my back was being massaged, I did all the things I never do – watch daytime TV – read fashion magazines – and catch up on all the advice Oprah has to offer. It was more delightful than I am really willing to admit!

The woman doing my pedicure did an excellent job, and since no one needed my chair, she let me stay until the end of the soap opera I was watching, even though my nails were already dry. She just winked and motioned to press the start button again on the massage chair – ahh ...  heaven on earth!

I walked out a new woman, in capris and sandals enjoying the sun on my face, even though I was actually freezing for the entire five minute walk back to my apartment. It was only 17 degrees after all ... and I was in capris and sandals ...

By Saturday morning it was pouring with rain and freezing cold. Ah, Vancouver at least you are consistent!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The journey continues ...

Do you believe in fate? I think I do. Life places forks in our way at every turn and we consider the options and make our choices. The fact that those choices magically create our future is the mystery.

I wonder how I knew to apply to Emily Carr College of Art and Design in 1986, or how they knew to accept me into 3rd year ... ? If I hadn’t – and they hadn’t – I would never have met Violet there – and she would never have gotten me a job at Signals Design Group after we graduated – and would never have taken the leap with me a year later to start our own design business ...

Huh ... I guess then we would never have experienced 21 years of the best business partnership that has ever existed in the history of the world! 

I remember as if it was yesterday, us sitting with our husbands trying to come up with a name for our business. “Tandem Design Associates” made so much sense then and it still resonates today. We were a team from day one, and we still finish each others sentences 21 years later.

And if we had not been in the best business partnership (and friendship) in the history of the world, we would not have come to the realization together, that at the next fork in the road, we would each take a slightly different path. So I have to believe that it was fate that brought us together, and our synergy that made Tandem a success and our friendship that makes this next bit possible.

So this is when I get a bit teary, cuz this is huge ...  The fork in the road is just in front of me and I have chosen my path. The tricky part, is that I know this path has a few forks in it, but I can’t see them yet, so I have many decisions yet to make. But the tears are not because of what lies ahead — but for the amazing experience that has now come to an end. I have been letting go in baby steps, but this week it feels like it is really happening.

And so the journey continues. As the corporate designer persona takes a back seat to the illustrator/designer/vagabond in me, a new chapter begins. I have big and many plans. Some of them are already in motion, others, well we will see what fate brings my way.

And if I had a glass of wine in my hand, I would toast to friendship and partnership and not sweating the small stuff. Violet and I never did and it served us well.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Building their own traditions under the apple trees at Little Dog Orchard: Tahneer and Jon’s Wedding

Tahneer and Jon  photo:  MCV Photography

Tahneer and Jon are good friends with my son Aaron and daughter-in-law Melissa. It was exactly a year ago this week, that I first sat down with them to talk about their ketubah. To get the ball rolling, I asked them about their wedding plans. I can’t remember who spoke first but it was clear to me from the first words, that this was going to be a very special wedding. They started by telling me about the venue – An apple orchard, near New Paltz, New York.

Don't you love it when things just fall into place? Tahneer began to describe how they found their venue. “I met up with my friend for dinner when I was at a conference in Philadelphia, and I mentioned that we were thinking of getting married in an outdoor space – like an orchard or a vineyard.” Tahneer explains, “Then my friend said, — I don't know if this will help, but I have a friend from grad school who now lives and works on an apple orchard!” This story/person so appealed to Tahneer, that she knew she had to look into this further.

Wedding Ceremony at Little Dog Orchard  photo:  MCV Photography

Little Dog Orchard had never been rented out for a wedding (or anything else for that matter), but the owners were keen to find new ways to utilize their property. “We contacted Julie and we drove up there and met her and her partner Jody” Jon explains, “They took us around the property and we knew immediately that this was where we wanted to have our wedding.”

Besides caring for their organic apple trees, Julie and Jody’s other talents lent themselves beautifully to wedding planning. “Julie is a DJ and Jody is a sound engineer” Jon began. First they hooked them up with The Big Shoe, a local cover band. “We loved their vibe and music and they became our Wedding Band”. Then the creative duo found them a caterer, a florist, a restaurant for the rehearsal dinner, and even helped with parking and technical arrangements the day of the wedding. “Julie and Jody were awesome and we love them for everything they did for us” Jon says with emotion.

The Big Shoe  photo:  MCV Photography

But the venue was just one aspect of the unique personality of this wedding. When we got down to discussing what elements they wanted to include in their Ketubah design, they related their experience at a friend’s Quaker wedding. They were intrigued with the wedding certificate. “In Quaker tradition, it is not one individual that marries a couple. The board of elders agrees to allow them to marry and the entire congregation certifies the marriage by signing the certificate” Jon explains. This suited Tahneer and Jon’s inclusive and egalitarian sensibilities, and they wanted to incorporate this tradition into their ketubah. “How many people will be at your wedding?” I asked sheepishly, trying to calculate how I would have space on their Ketubah for hundreds of signatures, Ketubah text in English and Hebrew and an apple orchard ...

Ketubah: Naomi Broudo  photo: MCV Photography

When there is a will, there is a way and working with Tahneer and Jon was amazing. A true collaboration.  “I remember (the ketubah design) as one of our earliest wedding projects” Tahneer reminisces, “looking at the early drafts you sent us of the Ketubah, and deciding together how we wanted it to look, what would make it most symbolize what we wanted it to symbolize!” The final result several months later, was a double apple tree design with 180 signature lines superimposed over the intricate root system. I think we were all pleased with the final result! And so were all of their friends when it came time to sign their Ketubah at the wedding.

photo: MCV Photography

I asked them recently, what they took away from this beautiful tradition they created. “We felt very loved and supported”, Jon began. “And I love the idea that instead of some ordinary sign-up guest book that we will never look at again, we have the signatures of everyone who attended on one beautiful sheet.” Tahneer added.

Personal touches  photo: MCV Photography

This wedding has a personality all it’s own because it is personal. “I think both Jon and I appreciate things when they relate to people we know and love, so we really tried to integrate friends and family into as many aspects of the wedding planning/execution as possible” Tahneer explains. For example, there was home brewed beer by Jody, hand drawn invitation artwork by Tahneer’s little brother Mo, Wedding dress alterations by a friend of the family, makeup and hair by Jon’s barber in Jersey City, assembly-line candy-jar-filling by the Oskman family, to name just a few of the personal touches. “It really felt like we were supported by a whole community of friends, family, and in some cases even strangers!” says Tahneer.

Hand picked flowers from Shoving Leopard Farms  photo:  MCV Photography

Even the flower arrangements were a group effort. Months before the wedding, the couple scoured flea markets to find 25 different glass vases for their center pieces. The Saturday of the wedding they drove to Shoving Leopard Farms to pick fresh flowers in the farm’s “flower maze” with an intimate group of friends and family, who then filled decorative baskets and created the center pieces for the wedding. I can’t imagine anything more meaningful!

I spent some time going through their wedding album recently and thought their photographer Mike Vasiliauskas, really captured the essence of their special day. It felt so real! I asked them to summarize their wedding concept in their own words. Here is what they had to say: “The main focus of the wedding was to make people feel relaxed, and at one with nature (in the most tree hugger way) ... The flower picking, Ketubah signing, and the apple orchard all contributed to our focus. People felt involved, and having the wedding at our “new” friends orchard, really made people feel welcome ... People picked apples, felt the warm hospitality of the orchard, and really felt comfortable enjoying themselves.”

I only experienced their wedding vicariously through their wedding photos and their descriptions, but I think you will agree that this is one wedding, where the dream and the reality are one in the same. Thanks Tahneer and Jon for sharing your incredible story.

photo:  MCV Photography

Oh – and in case you are living in the New Paltz, NY area, Julie and Jody have a lease-a-tree program which you can find out about here. You can help tend your own tree and reap the benefits of your labors! And if you want to have your wedding under their organic apple trees, I am sure they will be happy to hear from you!

Wedding Photography: MCV Photography | Venue: Little Dog Orchard | Music: The Big Shoe | Ketubah: Naomi Broudo | Flowers: Shoving Leopard Farms |

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why is this trip to the post office different than any other trip to the post office?

Excuse my passover brain. Every experience seems to turn into a passover story...

During the Passover Seder, The youngest child is always asked to recite the four questions. The opening line of each of the four questions is the same: “Why is this night different from every other night?” Hearing these questions each year, keeps the events of the past clear in our minds, and gives us time to reflect. I was reminded of the four questions on my visit to the post office this morning. Nothing to do with reclining, eating matzah or bitter herbs, but still profound.

The ladies behind the counter at my local post office always get a kick out of me arriving with my ketubah tubes several times a week. I regularly ask them for US Expedited Parcel Forms, so that I can fill them out at home to speed up processing. And I know they appreciate me being organized considering the long line that is usually forming behind me.

Yesterday they decided to write down the dimensions of my tubes so that they wouldn't have to measure them each time, which I thought was very sweet. But today, when they asked me if I would like to have them jot down my Venture One card number and my mailing tube dimensions, on the card they keep next to the computer – I thought – wow, I AM a regular customer!

I know it may seem silly to get excited about Canada Post, but it is really much more than that. What makes THIS trip to the post office, different than any other trip to the post office, is that It reminded me why I have become a regular at the post office in the first place.

Several things have happened over the past couple of months and I think they all deserve a public thank you. Firstly and most importantly, Jennifer Raichman, who has been my inspiration and role model on etsy since day one, has been so exceptionally generous, I really do not have enough words to thank her. Between being a mother of two young kids and running an amazingly successful etsy business (Ketubot and Invitations), she has time to share her knowledge with me AND to refer couples to me. Jen you are the best!

And speaking of etsy, I joined two etsy teams: Etsy Chai and Judaica on Etsy. Both teams have been very supportive of my work, featuring me in their treasuries and even shopping at my shop. It is great to have a community of like minded artists to share ideas with, brag a little and even kvetch now and again.

And it was also through etsy that Lisa from Temple Shalom Gift shop here in Vancouver, first saw my work. One thing has led to another and with Lisa's encouragement I have a new line of Bat and Bar Mitzvah gifts for sale in the Synagogue gift shop as well as at my etsy shop. Thanks Lisa for pushing me to try new things! 

So you see, there are good reasons why these last two months have been the best and busiest for Fresh Creations and Fresh Ketubah. And next week at our Seder, since I will be the youngest at the table, I will volunteer to sing the four questions. And when I do, I will be giggling about my trip to the post office today!

Friday, April 8, 2011

We were once slaves in Egypt: Time to clean the silver.

I think it is safe to say that we Jews take spring cleaning quite seriously, as it is spring that reminds us, among other things, that we were once slaves in Egypt—and at least once a year it is our duty to retell the story. To prepare for this event, we take out dishes, recipe books, Hagaddahs, and assorted serving dishes that otherwise sit wrapped tightly in dark cupboards for the rest of the year. In the weeks leading up to the Passover holiday, we ponder and fine tune our festive meal line up, purchase boxes of matzah (hoping this year's batch will be as crisp and delicious as last year) and other unleavened concoctions, and of course clean the silver.
My mom had a beautiful set of china that only came out for Passover, for the seder (festive passover meal). Gleaming white china with gold leaf designs. Wonderful soup bowls with little handles on each side, so perfect for steaming chicken soup and fluffy matzah balls. The table was always beautifully set with crystal water and wine glasses, sterling silverware, silver platters and serving dishes for all of the amazing dishes my mother and her sisters prepared for the meal.
As a kid, I really had no idea how much work went into pulling this off each year. My biggest concern at the time, was having enough room in my tummy for all of the seemingly endless courses of aromatic food being served on those beautiful dishes! But we all grow up eventually, and there is a time for all of us, when “cleaning the silver” becomes our responsibility.

For me, it happened the year my dad was so unwell, that my mom was planning on skipping Passover all together. I was by then completely grown up, married, a mother myself with a son already bar mitzvahed. Still, I had more than one moment of fear, wondering if I could really pull it off. There were tears in both my parents eyes that night as we silently agreed that the seder would move to our house that year. 

It turns out that it is just as hard to let go of the “silver” as it is to “clean” it — yet for every family there is a moment when it is time to pass down the traditions, recipes, dishes and responsibilities from one generation to the next.

From generation to generation things change. My table is always set with modern dishes (not china) and stainless steel silverware (dishwasher safe every piece!), but in keeping with tradition, the horseradish is in the crystal decanter my mother used every year – the salty egg mixture is always served in my Baba Fruman's glass bowls – the silver jacketed Hagaddah from Zada Harry always sits on the table. Our table is full of seders past and all of the wonderful memories they bring with them.

Mom's kiddish cup and candle sticks — that she passed down to me the year the seder moved to our house, have come out of the cupboard. As I ready myself to clean them, I see in my mind's eye, my dad, uncles and grandfather negotiating so astutely with all of us giggling cousins for the afikoman – I see my mom and her sisters in and out of the kitchen serving us delicious food – I can hear my own son as a child singing the four questions – and my husband Marc leading our seder –and my most recent and cherished memory of leading the seder myself for the first time with my daughter-in-law's family in New York. And of course in my imagination I conjure up the day when my son will be leading the seder with his own children. Mom's beautiful china and sterling silver have been passed down to them for just that special Passover!
Happy Passover preparations everyone! And by the way, toothpaste is the greatest for cleaning your silver!

Friday, April 1, 2011

A “rock” down memory lane

I am pretty sure I am not the only one that is sentimental about rocks and shells collected from one location or another. It is hard to part with them. Seems silly, but just looking at them brings back the smell of the salt in the air, the long ago conversation, or the experience of that moment in time.

When we moved last July, I had to part with many things. We were doing a major downsize and half of everything had to go. When it came to this alabaster bowl of rocks and corals, the decision was easy to make. The Alabaster bowl was a gift from my dear friend Glenda who lost her battle with cancer this past August, and in it were rocks I gathered from a trip to the Red Sea in the Sinai Desert. So many memories in one small bowl.

Hand painted stones by Fusun Aydinlik

I was reminded of my collection of memory rocks this week when I bumped into Fusun Aydinlik's etsy shop called Zeustones. She is from Turkey and she has a great story about the stones she gathers and paints:
In Greek Mythology, two sacred mountains are called Mount Ida, the “Mountain of the Goddess” ; Mount Ida in Crete, and Mount Ida in Turkey.

Mount Ida in Turkey is located on the Aegean shore of Anatolia, near the site of ancient Troy. Here lies the classical shrine where Paris is said to have judged the beauty of three Greek goddesses: Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. This event was also considered as the origin of the Trojan War owing to the jealousy of the goddesses. Later when the full fury erupted, the war itself was witnessed by the mythological Gods, from a high point of Mount Ida, which at 1,800m (5,800 ft) provided a bird’s eye view of the hostilities!

I live in a village in the Ida Mountains, nestling amongst the olive groves and pine forests, southeast of the ruins of Troy. On a southern promontory of my village the Altar of Zeus (Zeus Altari), overlooks the Aegean Sea; the Gulf of Edremit and Lesbos Island….

In my neighbourhood Zeus once walked , and these are his stones… 
Each of her painted stones tells a story and are all exquisite.
Rock art my Amy Komar
When I was participating in my first poppytalk market, I bumped into Amy Komar who is a artist from Alaska. I didn't know at the time that she also paints on canvas. Here are a few more samples of her amazing rock paintings. You can also see her paintings on canvas at this link. If you do, you will be delighted to find that one is the extension of the other.

Crochet covered river rocks by StitchHappens7

In my search for rock art I had to giggle when I found Renee's shop called StitchHappens7. She lives in a small rural southern New Jersey town, is a mother of five and has a house full of cats and dogs. She is a lover of yarn and all things natural. And you guessed it, she combines rocks and yarn to create her masterpieces. Doesn't it just make you want to hug a rock?

rock art by BillieRocks

The last stop on my rock art trail is a shop called BillieRocks. I think the artist's name is Billie. She is a self taught artist who took up rock painting as adult. She loves everything about the process from selecting a river rock that is just the right size and shape, cleaning the rock, sketching an outline, doing the painting, and giving the piece the final touches. The results are amazing!
Finding all of these artists, gave me an even better appreciation for the collected smooth rocks in my alabaster bowl. Treasures every one!
Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My art—your pillow covers

Alhambra by Naomi Broudo
I have been dreaming about this for a long time. I heard about this newish online store for illustrated cotton basics, called Envelop, about five months ago. I started browsing the site, and found some of my favourite etsy artists already there selling their wares. I also read as much as I could about who is actually there, read the media clippings and contacted several of the designers/artists on the site. The feedback was pretty good all around, so I decided to think about opening a shop.

There is a process to go through to be accepted, which is fairly straight forward, but preparing artwork for the site is quite time consuming. So with all the other things I am doing and pursuing, I haven't been able to find the time until this week to get things up and running.

To date there are 317 designers with shops on Envelop. Kind of exclusive for now. The great thing about this, is that I can put any of my designs on the items they stock. So if you like one of my designs, and would like to have a pillow or an apron or place mats, it is now possible.

You can search on Envelop by designer, or by article and you can also search by tag. To make it easier for you to always find my latest designs, I have added my name as one of my tags for each item. So simply search for Naomi Broudo and you will find me!

To find out more about the production process at this link. And BTW, they ship for free (a small handling fee) worldwide.

So, welcome to Envelop and my new shop. I have only four pillows so far, but I will be adding items as soon as I can get around to it (and, I have designed them so that they work front or back – two designs for the price of one). I am interested in your feedback on what I have up so far. You can leave me a note here or at my Envelop shop. Can't wait to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My first “Guest Blogger”: Leslie Fruman

I am always bragging about my talented sister Leslie. I thought it would be great to have her on-board as a guest blogger — so I asked her — and she agreed! We haven't figured out the actual details of if it will be every Tuesday or what, but let's get started and see where this goes.

Take it away Leslie!

For the last 12 months the oven has almost always been on at my house.

It started when I decided to take a year off from my globetrotting career as a journalist-turned- television-producer, and stay put for a while. The plan was to lazily pursue my interest in cooking.

I spent the first few months on the couch with my laptop, cruising Internet food sites and exploring the exploding world cooking blogs. Then I hit the farmers markets and made all kinds of delicious meals from the gorgeous fresh produce I snapped up there. This naturally led to a fascination with pickling and preserving.

My electricity bill soared, and I gained 15 pounds.

Then last fall, when the farmers markets were shutting down for the season, I signed up for a pottery class at the Gardiner Museum. I’d wanted to try pottery for years – and finally dragged myself out of the kitchen and into the pottery studio once a week.

Which brings me to another kind of cooking – and a new oven in my house (and an even higher electricity bill).

Within minutes of digging my hands into the clay, I was smitten. First I made a set of 6 plates… then some bowls shaped like squashes (inspiration from the farmers markets!)…And then I had to buy my own kiln - which is really just another oven, only much hotter.

Now I am happily spending my days cooking up my pots and then cooking up my food, (sometimes in my pots…).

But this “cooking” theme got me thinking about how easily we transfer skills from one pursuit to another.  Whether I’m cooking up a television show, a meal, or a piece of pottery – the process is surprisingly similar, and exercises the same creative muscle. It’s really all about learning to tell a good story, well.

When you tell a story in a newspaper article or on a television show, you first spend a lot of time researching your topic, and gathering information. Then the hard work begins…building the structure.  That is – figuring out how to tell the story. Once you’ve figured that out, it gets easy again, and fun, as you tweak to make it flow.

Cooking? Same thing. Search for just the right recipe – compare it to others – ask friends what they have had success with – then start cooking, and make it your own with tweaks and flourishes.

And making a pot? It’s the same process.

At most pottery classes, instructors offer the basics, and then encourage students to explore. You take a lump of clay into your own, unique, hand, and fool around to see what happens.

But there’s a lot more to pottery than fooling around with clay. You need to learn about (research!) the different clay bodies, learn about glaze chemistry, understand what heat at different temperatures does to the clay and glazes…and then you structure, test, tweak, and create. Just like cooking --only it takes much longer!

 A couple weeks ago I tried to combine all of these steps when it was my turn to host a supper club I belong to. Once a month a group of friends get together to cook an elaborate meal, based on a theme – or “story”. The story this week was Middle Eastern food. The research took me all over the place, looking through my own cookbooks, my favorite websites and a bit of old fashioned library browsing. I found a great selection of dishes from Iran, Morocco, Israel and Egypt. The tweaking happened as I curated which dishes I thought would combine to make a great meal… before sending a selection of recipes off to my friends, who would each choose a recipe to bring to our supper club dinner party.

But I have to admit, the best part – for me – was setting the table with my handmade dishes and bowls…waiting for my friends to fill them with their fantastic interpretations of all those recipes. Our meal was truly great and the table setting that night was part of the “story”.

My favorite dish from the meal was a delicious fennel and pistachio salad from Janna Gur’s fabulous website:

Here’s the recipe link from that site:

(You can see Leslie's amazing pottery at her shop, or on her facebook fan page! Are you looking forward to her next post? I know I am!)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Coming up for air—

It has been a really long time. It feels strange not to have blogged for almost three weeks. It is not that there have not been things to blog about. I never need an excuse to blab. In fact I think about this blog way too much, and always have something so say, but I have been on holiday and that always means playing catch up.

But today I had an excuse to get my act together — I had a deadline— Thanks G-d for stress and pressure!

My new team, etsy chai, is having a passover promotion starting March 15th. I am not really sure what that means, but I know that my advertising dollars are hard at work, so I had to get to work myself to take advantage of it.

The promotion is for passover, but passover is a tough one for paper goods, and I am way behind on my list of fabric based projects so I had to think fast. Luckily, I have been working very hard over the past couple of months developing a series of Bar and Bat Mitzvah customized art prints for the gift shop at Temple Shalom here in Vancouver — and they are almost done...

So I decided that the next best thing to specifically making passover items was to open a Judaica section for my shop! Today I fine tuned, printed and photographed 10 new items and I have quite a few more designs almost ready to promote. The best thing I have cooking is yet to hit the shop, but I will be ready in a day or two. Think Ketubah — Bar/Bat Mitzvah style. I won't keep you in suspense for too long. Needless to say I have been searching the internet for a reliable source for Torah portions and trying to get into the headspace of a 12 and 13 year old and their parents!

In other news, My son Aaron, the Attorney turned hipster has reached and exceeded his Kickstarter fund raising goal for the Brooklyn Night Bazaar and has hit the blogeshere with full force. Here is a great post about him and his project.

And completely off topic, I listened for the second time to an interview with Phyllis Diller on Q with Jian Ghomeshi on my way home from grocery shopping. I was completely blown away even the second time around. If you have the time go to this link. She is 92 and as funny and clever as ever. A real inspiration. If you have a chance to hear this interview, I highly recommend it.

And did I tell you I will soon have pillows other stuff for sale at a newish online shop called envelop as soon as I can get organized? More about that soon!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cake topper hunting...

When we were little, my aunty Irene made us all beautiful cakes for our birthdays. Although this was a very long time ago, the memory of one particular cake is very clear in my mind. We were admiring the cake outside in the front yard of our house in Regina Saskatchewan. I was born in August and my sister was born in July so who's ever birthday cake this was, was being served on a hot sunny day. Aunty Irene, like the rest of her sisters was very talented, so her cakes were, not just cakes, but works of art.

I was never sure how she got the barbie doll inside the cake, or if it was in fact a barbie doll or some other kind of doll, but what I remember is a beautiful princess in a white gown, narrow at the waist and completely full at the bottom. It was a masterpiece and really too beautiful to eat — but we did of course, savoring every bite of the glistening sugar icing and the white or marble cake layered inside.

Since those long summer days on Lakeview, I have made my share of birthday and wedding cakes, inspired by my childhood memories and my aunty Irene's creativity.

These memories were awakened this week, when I was viewing one of my sister Leslie's treasuries, I came across this adorable cake topper by Susan at Middleburg and decided to see how many other fun creations I could find. I thought since I am sort of in the wedding business, I should start there.

Blue bird wedding topper by Middleburg
On etsy, there are 8,908 listings for Wedding cake toppers. A bit daunting to say the least, but I think I found some gems that I would like to share with you. I started with checking out what else Susan of Middleburg had in her shop. This little house on the hill caught my eye.

Happily every after by Middleburg
I am a folk art nut so the fact that I love every single piece in the next shop I found, called "Bunny with a tool belt", is no surprise. Her shop banner slogan is "Making you smile since the late 20th century".  That my friend, is an understatement! Look how cute these are! And she does commissions ...

I love you and I love bananas too by Bunny with a Toolbelt

Smiling gators by Bunny with a Toolbelt
Next I found these over the top toppers by from Builders Studio.

Robot Secret Agent by Builders Studio
I couldn't resist these goolish gems from Sweetie Cake Topper.
Scull Wedding Topper by Sweetie Cake Topper
Oh my, I love these precious toppers from Red Light Studio.

Couple by Red Light Studio
Love Birds by Red Light Studio
That was fun. Both to think about the beautiful cake my aunt made for us so many many years ago, and to go on a treasure hunt. If you have a birthday memory or a cake topper story, PLEASE share! Leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you!