For the Love of Israeli Food

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Last month, while my folks were visiting, we took them to all of our favorite restaurants and introduced them to some fantastic Israeli cuisine. My mom was overwhelmed by the combinations of spices and flavors, so much so, that she was determined we should take an Israeli cooking class. Now I love to eat, but cooking is definitely not my love language, that said any new experience I can photograph is a WIN for me.

One of our lovely Israeli friends, Shani, offered to look into an instructor for us and came up with the best solution ever…her husband, Shai.

Shai is an amazing chef with several years of experience in the restaurant industry, however he had only done cooking classes for his close friends before our group. We were honored that he was willing to plan and execute such an amazing event! For three hours he awed us with his skillZ in the kitchen. Seriously, in three hours he prepared 16 different menu items to serve 8-10 people! Ah-mazing!

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He had purchased all the groceries at his favorite local markets and shops, each item was fresh including fish, beef, lamb, fruit, veggies, and spices. Shai even said he could offer classes at the markets and teach people how to shop the markets, especially for spices.

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Speaking of spices, Shai had prepared a packet describing each spice we would be using. The biggest surprise for me was sumac, this beautiful garnet colored spice can be sprinkled on anything from meat to focaccia bread. Shani told us her boys request it on everything, ha!

We learned a lot about food, Israeli culture, and where they intersect. When we all sat down to eat it was quiet with the exception of the sound of “mmmmms” from around the table. It was truly a perfect and memorable day.

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Of course, the entrepeur in me couldn’t help but suggest Shai do this more often. I know the expat community is literally hungry (pun intended) for great experiences like this. He agreed to think about it, so if you are in the Tel Aviv area and you’d be interested let me know!

L’chaim {cheers in Hebrew},

kdg

Special thanks to Shai for teaching & feeding us, to Shani for setting it up, to Vienna for hosting, and to my clever momma for the fabulous idea!!


PS – Don’t forget to join us for the L O V E Photo Challenge this month!

#IACWLOVE2018 – Shot 4 – Pink or Red….RED, of course!

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Inspiring Creative: Marissa Moss

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Nurturing creativity in our children is one of the most important things we can do for them. Last week, Lindy-Ann shared an inspiring TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He eloquently and wittily shared that our public education system, around the world, is broken when it comes to this crucial skill set. For this reason, I am so overwhelmingly thankful that we are able to send our son to the American International School here in Israel, where he is given opportunities to flourish creatively and encouraged to embrace how his brain thinks. The most recent celebration of creativity was a week of workshops hosted by children’s author and illustrator Marissa Moss.

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Marissa spent the week holding writing and illustration workshops for each grade. Through her stories and her own personal experiences she encouraged each child to embrace their unique story because, as she puts it, “everyone’s life is interesting.” Marissa also taught them the importance of making mistakes.

On Friday, at our monthly Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting, she spoke with us parents about some of the activities they did and how important it is to help our kids hone their visual storytelling skills. She even answered questions on how to encourage our budding creatives in ways that would challenge them lovingly and encourage with sincerity, not false praise. She also encouraged us, as parents and teachers, to help the children harness their innate critical reading and thinking skills, because “kids won’t read bad books; if it’s not good, they’ll tell you.” This critical reading by her own sons is how Marissa knew that children would enjoy her books. She even told us that her sons are her best and most brutal editors.

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There are two truths that Marissa hoped to leave with our kids that I think hold true for everyone, no matter what age you are.

Truth #1 Revision is your friend

In working with the second grade classes, Marissa had them work on crafting and revising a great opening sentence. As you can imagine most kids struggled with the fact that their sentence was not perfect the first time and did not want to revise it. In order to help them understand that revision is a good thing she showed them one of her sketches of a first draft – all lines and scribbles, and then the final published revision. Reworking and revising can actually be fun and exciting as you get closer and closer to that “A-Ha!” moment and the children were able to learn and experience that.

I asked my second grader about his sentence, and he exasperatedly told me he had to do it twice, but in the end it was a great hook: Peter has a big secret.  Did I mention Peter is a piece of toast. I’m intrigued, aren’t you?

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Truth #2 Mistakes are opportunities

I first heard this exact truth from my incredibly talented artist friend Joy, as I struggled to perfect a craft we were doing for fun at a girls’ night. Silly Katie.

Back when Marissa was an art teacher she saw this struggle in her own students and she was inspired to use one of their true stories to help other children see the beauty of making mistakes. She wrote and illustrated Regina’s Big Mistake and has helped other children be bold and just get something down on paper. It is the ideal book for the little perfectionist in your life.

Funnily enough, even when signing the books I purchased, she misspelled my son’s name and beside it she wrote “sorry, I make mistakes all the time.” It’s truly a great life lesson for everyone, not just creatives.

“Let yourself explore, take risks, and make mistakes. You never know where a mistake will lead you.” -Marissa Moss

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After hearing Marissa Moss and Sir Ken Robinson words I’m impassioned to encourage my boys and the other children in my sphere of influence to take those risks and be creative. I want them to be a part of this creative revolution we are experiencing and help shift the tide.

Learn more about Marissa and her books here. I also recommend the After School Monster, which I bought for my 4 year old. It’s a great story of being brave and conquering your own monsters.

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A NOTE OF THANKS

Marissa, thank you for your time and your heart for our children. I know all you taught them will impact how they see their {art}work going forward. Hoping the all best for you and your new authors!

Cheers,

kdg

Do schools kill creativity?

When I was in high school, I was being lovingly guided by two parents who both wanted what was best for me. My dad decided that computers were the future and that I needed to learn computer programming, become some IT guru and end up with heaps of money and a thriving career. My mom saw that my interests and strengths lay in the arts so in support of me pursuing my dream, my dad had me take computers in my final year as a backup.

Art won.

The art school I attended after grade 12 brought me to a great career that I loved and enabled me to earn a good living. Luckily for me it worked out. With my own children entering school I keep a close eye on their own developing interests and strengths and do my best to let them grow into the wonderful humans that they have been designed to be, and not put them in a bubble that I have crafted for them from my imagination. When a dear friend sent me this video, I gave it a standing ovation. There’s a reason this is the most viewed TED talk to date.

Cheers to the creatives getting the same respect as scientists.

la

Manifesto 13

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Having an art brain child, I always wondered how best to nurture her interest and whether I was enough to guide her and help her grow in this field. I was so happy and relieved when I came across Manifesto 13. This is a beautiful art studio, here in Kuwait, that offers long term courses with in depth hands on tutoring of styles and subjects through fine art. It’s more than just an environment where someone gets to practise their hobby. It’s truly an art education for kids (and adults), a safe place where a self expression and critical thinking coming together.

To hear my 7yr old come home and talk about Piet Modrian with the same level of interest that I had when I was 17, is so exciting. I feel so thankful that I found this school for her.  Each course runs over a few weeks, usually similar in length to a school term, and at the end, we as parents get invited to an art exhibition where we get to ‘oooooo’ and ‘aaaahhh’ over art created by our precious little pumpkins.  And I love it.

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If you too have an art brain child and are within the desert walls of Kuwait, then I highly recommend Manifesto 13.

For more information – Tel: (+965) 226-50335 – Mob: (+965) 656-52524 info@manifesto13.com

Cheers,

la

Kicking off Christmas in Jerusalem

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This past weekend we were invited to a German Christmas Market held at a church in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. It was a perfect day and start to our Christmas season, both surreal and totally normal at the same time. Much like expat life.  We drank fantastic cups of steaming gluhwien while the children ate German waffles and the moms eyed the tables covered in crafts and decorations.  All the while, the seemingly unaware market was surrounded by ancient churches, mosques, and temples, stone streets older than anything in the United States, and both old and new marks of a history of tension and religious conflict.

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Living in Israel does have a surreal affect on you, some days you could be anywhere in the world and others you are in THE Holy Land, eek! If I am being honest, the city of Jerusalem is not my favorite place in the country. The tension you feel there is palpable and many warnings about potential unrest make me want to run to the hills surrounding the Sea of Galilee. That said, in the last month I have made the 1.5 hour trip to the holiest place on earth twice, and both times were amazing and fulfilling adventures. I’d say Jru is growing on me, especially when the Christmas spirit is all around you and you’re with some of your favorite people in the country!

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Since it was a rather last minute decision to attend the market, we were unprepared with only a few shekels in hand. Thus, I wasn’t able to splurge on much. However, I did come across a Palestinian artist who was on a mission for peace and unity through her art. My creative heart was inspired by her project and I purchased two sketches, one of Bethlehem and one of Jerusalem, and a painted sketch on a postcard of some of the famous architecture from around Israel.  The whole interaction with the artist made me excited for my own shop this coming weekend.

The kids were less than impressed with the vendors and were waiting patiently for Der Weihnachtsmann, aka Father Christmas, aka Santa, to arrive. They sang Jingle Bells as they waited and finally he appeared ringing a bell and carrying a large sack full of chocolate Santas for each of the children. It was adorable how they sat and listened to him tell his story in German. Even though they couldn’t understand any of it, the heart of the story was clear.

Afterward our party of almost 30 departed and 21 of us attempted to find a place to eat together at 5:00pm on Shabbat (Sabbath) in a highly religious city. Which means the majority of places were closed for another 2 hours. We finally discovered an Irish Pub and it was perfect for our group, including our horde of children hopped up on chocolate.

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It truly was the perfect way to kick off our December –  loosely planned, a bit chaotic, full of joy, and drenched in the Christmas spirit. When you live an expat life, at Christmas time you sacrifice a lot of your traditions, but it can lead to a richer and deeper connection to the season and your family. I hope those of you far from home find your village to celebrate with and make the most of the holiday season as you add new traditions and memories to your collection.

Happy December,

kdg

A few pixels at time

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Have you ever been through a time in your life when you were being consistently challenged to pursue things you were not confident you would be able to make happen? Fake it ’til you make it right? Well, this is the season I’m walking in write now. Things are changing, big things are coming, I can feel it. Lindy-Ann and I have seen so much growth in each other and our community over the past year (shout out to all our awesome photogs who are making their dreams happen!) and there is more to come…seriously I can feel it in my bones!

Truth be told, it’s exciting, overwhelming, and a little scary all at the same time.

It’s stretching me that’s for sure, and I am still processing it, mostly verbally in true Katie style. (Thank you for listening family and friends!!)

It’s that moment when you are doing what you are supposed to do and it’s good, maybe even really good, but there is an ache for something else. Hear me here, I am not saying it’s “a grass is always greener” scenario, but it is the need to do more. The tug on your heart that says, “keep moving forward, grow, evolve.”

We have all heard the sayings that “life’s a journey” and “it’s all about the process,” IT’S TRUE!  If we are not growing and stretching ourselves we are not meeting our full potential. Especially as a creatives, staying stagnant leads to feeling uninspired, and feeling uninspired leads to bitterness as the flow of creativity dries up. Believe me, we have been here too.

What to do?

There is no right or wrong answer to understanding your journey and calling, it’s different for everyone. That said, here is what has been helped me this season.

  1. Pray about it.
  2. Write it out (aka blog about it!)
  3. Talk about it with trusted confidants and mentors.
  4. Process it, chew on it, and then do it all over again.
  5. Really be thankful for where you are in your journey – maybe write that out too…
  6. In the midst of all that the most crucial action (because I am a ‘do-er’) is to keep moving forward. Take the next step as it presents itself and cross off the ‘to-do’ list one item at a time.

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There is a reason we do not see the whole picture. If we did we would be paralyzed and  overwhelmed with how we make it happen rather than enjoying the process. The process is what stretches and grows us to get us to that point. Instead we have this small portion in front of us, just a few pixels of the high res photograph of our life, and we work with that. When we look back in a few months we will see what/how it all happened, what we learned about ourselves through it all, and enjoy the beautiful picture of our lives unfolding in front of us.

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I want to encourage you today, whatever season you are in, breathe in the process. Whether you just came out of the growing season and are confidently walking in that or being stretched, it is good. Be thankful. Share your story with others and celebrate theirs. That is another great way to not get overwhelmed. Change your focus, take a minute to encourage another or be their sounding board, it may even inspire you!

This is me: sharing, breathing, encouraging, being thankful, and growing…what a grand adventure right?!

cheering you on!

kdg

 

 

The Mirror House – Kuwait

1DSC_9140Lets just say, if my husband came home from a business trip abroad and found me on the floor with broken pieces of glass and plastering all over the wall, I think he would have had me committed. Thankfully this was not in the case of the lovely Lady Lidia.

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For what started out as a small mirror mosaic project to cover her daughters writings on the wall, turned into her greatest life long work, her pride and joy, The Mirror House of Kuwait. We were greeted by this tiny, Italian woman, with years of life knowledge and life experience under her belt. Yet somehow she maintained her zest and passion for life and she couldn’t wait to share it with us.

We started with a lesson on mosaics and the story of her beginning, but we were quickly whisked away and literally taken on a once in a lifetime journey through what can only really be explained as living surrealism. 

She met a young Kuwaiti man in the UK and he stole her heart. She then moved to Kuwait in the 50s, settled down, got married, had a family, lived life, survived wars, survived parenting, and found comfort in creating.

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Her story is a cherished love story. Her husband, Khalifa Qattan, was a very well known and respected pioneer in the Arab art world.  Yet, he very rarely called her Lidia, he preferred to call her lady, even up until his last days on this earth. Swoon! She brags that when she arrived in Kuwait, most of the houses were still built of clay. Yes, she has seen Kuwait change over the years there is no doubt of this. I asked her what the biggest change she witnessed was, expecting to hear the standard, “oh we used to be able to drink and now we can’t” or, “we could wear short skirts back then and no one bothered us about it” but no, to my surprise, she said the greatest change came from within the family unit.

The family unit has changed.

When she first moved to Kuwait she testifies how most children were being raised by their parents, both moms and dads were raising their kids. She shares that in today’s times children are being raised by nannies. It’s quantity over quality of children that has become important. There is a whole generation of children being raised by nannies and no longer by their parents. And you see it filter over into the Western culture within Kuwait too. All too often it’s the nannies with the kids at birthday parties or afternoon activities, very often alongside the parents, even then parents take more and more of a back seat.

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Her symbol piece for the family unit.

Anyway, getting back to the tour. What a ride. She took us into every room where different themes are represented, from the earth to outer space. Her birds were my personal favourites. On the top floor we even got to appreciate her husbands works. a dedicated gallery to his finest pieces. I loved this part. He was a visual communicator for sure. The statements he made with his art were honest, bold and unapologetic. He loved being Kuwaiti and was so proud of that, but he was despising what the nation was becoming, the changes that the country was going through and he used his art as his voice. It still speaks volumes today. I definitely learnt a lot about the history of Kuwait on this tour, It was interesting for sure.

In the rooms next to his gallery are works of her own. It was fascinating to see these two worlds showcased on one floor. Two very different minds with similar view points being expressed in two very different ways. It was remarkable.

My favourite piece belonging to Lady Lidia was the piece with the two keys. These represent the keys to a woman’s heart (men, pay attention).

They are:

1 – Respect

2 – Generosity (not as in things or money, but rather time and affection). If you get these two things right her heart will be forever yours.

Her art therapy rooms are quite something, too. Darkness, with colour of lights and lights of colour.

Admittedly, I spent an hour on my bed in the afternoon with a warm cup of tea processing the experience. Trying to make sense of it all. I couldn’t. I was most certainly over stimulated for the better part of the afternoon. And wonderfully so. I will never forget this morning at The House of Mirrors. For anyone living in Kuwait, you need to move this to the top of your ‘to do before you leave’ list. This experience has the backing of both Trip Adviser and Lonely Planet.

I left informed and inspired.

If you have a House of Mirrors experience that you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

Special note: One thing that makes this experience even more unique is that you become a part of the visual experience. With the mosaics being mirrors, your reflections are integrated. Thus making everyone’s experience unique to them. 

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Cheers,

la

 

A little ‘no’ can go a long way…

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Truth be told, the art of saying “No” to demands outside my family is stretching me. As Lindy-Ann put in her NO-vember post on Tuesday, I am a “yes friend.” I would say “yes” so often I would triple book myself, and at times our family, which did not go well with my “no” husband, {love you babe and i’m sorry!}

It just feels so negative to say “no” but I am learning that when I say “no” to one thing I am actually saying “yes” to something else. Two days into the NO-vember challenge and I’m definitely trying to be intentional about the yeses I dole out. One such yes is to taking care of myself and working out with Vienna {GULP!}

So far, the biggest “no” I have decided to lovingly, but firmly, say has been to not co-chair the Halloween Spooktacular next year. This past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing my vision for this huge event come to life with the help of some fantastic volunteers. My event co-chair (aka chaos co-coordinator), our decorations chair, and I had been formulating the plan and vision for the 2017 Halloween Spooktacular since the week after the 2016 one, and it turned out to be an incredible success. That said, next year we all agreed it is time to pass the baton and spend 2018 experiencing the event with our families. Therefore, in saying “no” to a third round, we are saying “yes” to celebrating and experiencing it with our families, and that is a good thing.

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Hear my heart on this. I’m not saying I won’t be volunteering anymore (it’s not in my nature to sit on the sidelines), or that it is more important for me to enjoy someone else’s hard work. What I am saying is that I was super involved for two years and now it is time to step back just a little and let my family have that much more of me. It’s all about that elusive balance we are all aiming for, right?

That is truly the heart of the NO-vember challenge for me. To take a moment to reevaluate my priorities, give myself the headspace to ponder my calling, and give more of myself to my family.

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If you are a “yes friend” I encourage you to thank your buddies that remind you to say no, we all need them! Thank you Lindy-Ann for always being that person to encourage and challenge me to be better and put my family higher on my to-do list.

I miss your face!

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H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y   W E E K   L I N D Y – A N N ! 

May your NO-vember be peaceful and refreshing! Let us know how you are doing and any ways we can encourage you.

Cheers,
kdg

PS – forgive the iPhone photos, my camera was on the back burner at the event!

Seaside Styled Shoot

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At the heart of It’s A Colourful World and Lindy-Ann and I’s collaboration is the desire help and encourage others, especially other entrepreneurs. We were practicing “community over competition” in Kuwait, before we had even heard about the incredible cultural shift that was happening stateside in the creative world, initiated by leaders like the Rising Tide Society and conferences like the Creative @ Heart Conference.

We felt that our gifts and talents were better served by lifting others up rather than tearing them down or being jealous of their success. This is not always easy, especially for creative souls. There are definitely days when one or both of us wonder if we are fulfilling our callings or if we should throw in the towel. On those days we turn to our mentors, families, and friends and they set us straight and remind us of our focus.

{Oh, how we appreciate you all!!}

We love being that for others! We have joyfully assisted in branding, developing concepts, refining visions, and generally being sounding boards for our friends pursing their callings. Let me tell you, brainstorming ideas and concepts over coffee maybe one of my favorite ways to spend a day! A close second, would be seeing those ideas come to life.

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This past week I had the extreme pleasure of making one of those such chats happen and it was amazing! I spent a morning executing a styled product shoot for my jewelry designer friend, Ana….on the Mediterranean Sea with my gorgeous photography student and babysitter, Grace. Pinch me!

When I first met Ana, about a year and a half ago, she shared that she didn’t really know what her calling was. She knew she loved being creative, but she wasn’t sure where to focus. A few months later she was hit with loads of inspiration from her many walks on the beach collecting sea glass and started making jewelry. It is really exciting to see how much she has grown in both skills and demand. Hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed creating them!

For all you still seeking your callings and sometimes second guessing yourselves, we are cheering you on! Keep pursing your passions and, even if it just touches one life, one heart, then you have made a difference and it was worth the journey! Not to mention that there is only one of you and the world needs your unique perspective, don’t buy the lie that it doesn’t.

On that note, follow Treasures by Ana on Facebook and Instagram. It is always fun to see what she will come up with next, because, like you, each of her pieces is unique.

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Cheers,
kdg