Oh Boy, Here He Comes!

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Tomorrow is the day…tomorrow we meet our 3rd little man.

There have been days of wondering how we were going to do this whole birth abroad thing. In a country where we don’t speak the native language and not everyone can or is willing to speak English. I can’t tell you the relief I felt when a nurse came up to me and said, “Are you Katie?” in perfect English after we’d been waiting to meet our doctor at the hospital for our walk through.  Until then, no one had been able to help us. I hugged her!

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For the most part, I pushed these nervous feelings aside, because I knew that it was the best decision for our family, especially logistically, and I’m simply trusting that the Lord has this. That said, this whole process has truly been one big adventure. One Hebrew word I have adopted over the years is balagan. Essentially, it means a state of chaos, a hot mess, or a cluster f*@$. This word describes so many “Oh, Israel” moments so perfectly. Last Sunday, a week from our scheduled c-section, we sat in the hospital for our last check up, hearing balagan being tossed around by the maternity ward staff.  All we could do was look at each other, laugh and wait, because “this is Israel,” as they say. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Virginia anymore.

The other hard thing about delivering abroad is being far from your people back home. When one of my best friends said this was my first pregnancy she hadn’t been a part of, I ugly cried for a bit. That has been pretty tough. However, we have been surrounded by our wonderful Israel village of friends that have supported us more than we could imagine. They have cleaned, cooked, organized, loved on our boys, showered us with gifts, prayed over us, and even let me sleep on their couches when I was too tired to parent. We have felt truly blessed by these amazing people.

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They have also kept me accountable, especially this last month and half, to slow down. I’m a do-er, I tend to go all in…to a fault. Although there hasn’t been a lot of blogging this summer (sorry!!) there has been a lot of doing. So much so, that I may have overdone it…no I did, I did over do it…a few too many times. I even had a pre-term labor scare one night over Labor Day weekend and it was a wake up call that, if I wanted this little man to stay put until October 14th, then I had to stop doing all the things.  So I did, I said “no,” I hibernated, became a little anti-social, and I tried to limit myself to one outing/socializing/demanding thing a day other than parenting my boys. Obviously it worked because here we are, less than 12 or so hours from baby and now my mom is here so I can really relax! Phew!

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I think my biggest take away from this journey is how important it is to be intentional. Being intentional is not a new concept, I have even blogged on it’s importance before, but it really rang true in this season. We are meant to love fiercely, give grace, be still (I know!), choose joy, and above all trust that the Lord has this (whatever your this may be). We cannot do any of that without being intentional. Although I feel nervous about tomorrow, I’m intentionally setting my heart on higher things and trusting. Oh and praying away the BALAGAN!

I want to thank you for being a part of our community here on IACW, it has been whirlwind of year and we are looking forward to whatever may come next and #sharingthiscolourfullife together! I especially look forward to sharing our tiny man with you soon!

Cheers,

kdg

 

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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Fall in Israel – Rosh Hashanah

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The weather, the holidays, and the spirit of Fall in Israel are all definitely different from our beloved Virginia, but we are enjoying the adventure. This was a big weekend for us and the country as we celebrated the New Year, also known as Rosh Hashanah. Until last year, I used to be unfamiliar with the Jewish/Israeli holidays, aside from their dates pre-labeled in my calendar over the years. For all of you like me, living in Israel means three days off of school, celebrations and toasts, religious observances, lots of new traditions, and it is a great time to travel or explore for us non-observant expats.

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Since we have missed our Fall traditions from back home, we took the long week and went camping at Horshat Tal in the Golan Heights with a few of our favorite outdoorsy friends.  We also toasted the new year at our favorite Israeli winery, Pelter Winery and one of our favorite Israeli craft breweries, Galil Brewery (they have pumpkin ale!). It was a wonderful time to be removed from the pressures of school and work and just be together and laugh a lot. Plus, I checked a few things off our Fall bucket list!

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I know I say it all the time, but experiencing the cultures of the country we live in (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and those of the people we befriend is truly one of my favorite things about living abroad. It makes me so happy to listen to the boys sing holiday songs, share the salutations in the language, and try traditional eats and treats. Their favorite Rosh Hashanah treat is apples dipped in honey, eaten to symbolize a sweet new year.

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It is especially fun to experience each of the holidays through our youngest at a local Hebrew gan (pre-school). On the Friday before the holiday the parents were invited to join a toast to the new year. The littles all wore white, the traditional color worn on Shabbat (the Sabbath) and for holy days. There was a rabbi who talked (in Hebrew of course) about the holiday and blew the shofar for us. We sat and watched the children sing and clap to songs they had clearly been learning leading up to it. I couldn’t help but smile at the tiny hands holding up glasses of tirosh (children’s wine) toasting and shouting “Shana Tova”!

Our big kid had his own Rosh Hashanah celebration at the international school and learned about the holiday in Israeli Culture class, which is one of his favorite classes. He just loves the teacher too! She has them singing fun songs, speaking in Hebrew, and excited to share it all at home with us. Let me tell you, we have learned a lot because of it! Fun fact, similar to our beloved Greeks, the Israelis see the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity, health, fertility and happiness and they are particularly important and given as gifts at Rosh Hashanah.

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To learn more about the holiday check out this fun video. I can really get behind the heart of starting fresh and walking into the new year on a sweet note!

Here’s to a sweet (and intentional) new year!

Shana Tova!

kdg

Origami birds courtesy of fellow gan mom, Noa, check out her blog post: I’m on Leave

Brew Adventures & Inspirations

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Almost seven years ago we started our homebrewing adventure. I surprised Tom with a Mr. Beer homebrewing kit and in our tiny blue kitchen he crafted his first brew. The first beer recipe came with the kit and, while it was easy to drink, it was fairly un-remarkable. Regardless, he was surprised by how simple the process was and was hooked. Not to mention, this was a hobby I could totally get on board with!

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As we began exploring this new world of beer, we discovered more and more craft beers. If you didn’t already know, craft beer is made at smaller breweries and not mass produced on large scales like those from corporate breweries. Often times their smaller scale lends to more inventive and complex beers, as well as better quality ingredients. In the interest of learning more, we started seeking out new craft brews and Tom started absorbing knowledge.

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While it took me a little longer to develop my palate, I loved every brew tasting and brewery tour along the way. It was on those adventures that I discovered my passion for photographing beer. I found myself inspired by the rainbow of natural colors that comes with a flight of tasting glasses arranged on a wood board. Much to my Tom’s chagrin, I found myself asking him to wait to taste until I had the perfect photo. Last summer I was humbled when the Virginia Tourism company contacted me to purchase one of my images and feature it in their #VAcraftbeer photo competition.

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Many brews and several years later, Tom is now brewing here in Israel in our bomb shelter. Yes, you read that right, we have our very own bomb shelter equipped with it’s own A/C unit making it the perfect place for fermenting. Using equipment he’s gathered via online purchases and at the occasional stop at a homebrew store, he has been exploring a myriad of beer styles. Among the recipes he has tried are: a Belgian wit ale, an Irish-inspired red ale with roasted chestnuts, a pumpkin ale, Belgian ale with honey and sage, and a barleywine – aptly named the “Bomb Shelter Barleywine” since it was fermenting (and then aging) down there for months.

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We’ve also had a blast exploring the nascent Israeli craft brew scene. A few of our favorites include: Alexander Brewery (4), Busters Beverage Co. (5)Dancing Camel Brewery (6), Galil Brewery (1), Jems Beer Factory(3), Libira Brewery (2), and Shapiro Beer (7).

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There is also this fantastic place called the Beer Bazaar, with several locations around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, they focus on distributing local brews, including their own, and have pubs with selections on tap. Not only are the beers delicious, but the people behind them are fun to hang out with!

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A about a month ago, another brave homebrewer gathered a few other homebrewers together to create an American expat “brewmaster” event.  With the help of our friend, Shayne (below top left), they invited the guys behind the Beer Bazaar, Shapiro, and Busters Beverage Co. to spend the day with us at this beer tasting event and homebrew “competition”. The professional brewer took the time to taste and rate each of the homebrews. After their thoughtful deliberation, they shared their thoughts with the novices. Tom was awarded best aged beer for the Bomb Shelter Barleywine and he was humbled by the response and feedback he received from crowd, especially the pros. Like most of us creatives, he is often his harshest critic, so it was great to see how positive the reactions were to his craft.

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We don’t know where this homebrewing journey will take us one day when Tom retires, but I love the idea of opening a family brewery back in Virginia. Until then we will continue to learn and drink better beer. On that note, the next time we head home to Virginia for a little rest and relaxation, we will be touring a few breweries, new and old favorites. I will, of course, be documenting our brew tour and exploring the colors of the beer world, from the golden wheat to the ruby red ales to the dark brown stouts. Stay tuned here and follow along on Instagram and at my hashtag #dgbrewphotos.

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Share your favorite brewery and/or brew with us in the comments below, maybe you can introduce us to a new one!

Cheers,

kdg

The Maraska Family in Jaffa

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A few months after I first met Keturah at a Diplomatic Spouses of Israel event I taught her photography, and we have been creative buddies ever since. Funnily enough, her younger son was taking photography class at school, so they were sharing one camera, and he almost took it to school that day! Side note: He has done some amazing work this year – it is really inspiring to see how our high schoolers capture the world around them!

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Keturah has been a great boy mom mentor to me as well as my creative adventurer friend. We have shared a few walkabouts and my favorite time was when she accompanied me on a recce to Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, Israel before a client session. A recce is a term I learned from Lindy-Ann, as it is mostly used in the places where they speak the Queen’s English to describe a fact finding mission coming from the term reconnaissance.

 

We had so much fun finding the most picturesque nooks, crannies, graffiti, and doors in the old city and chatting over coffee. Jaffa is definitely one of my favorite locations to shoot and one of their family’s go to spots, so it was the perfect location choice when she decided to trust me with her family’s first photography session ever!

Location: Old City Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, Israel

Date and time: May 9:00am

Weather: Bright & Sunny – cool in the shade of the buildings

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As this was their first professional family session, we talked about what she wanted from the session a bit beforehand and I was challenged by a comment she had made about not looking good in photos. It was my mission to prove her wrong!

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We had such a great time and we joked and laughed our way from graffiti wall to colored door. It was really fun for me to shoot “big boys” and get a glimpse of my future – a tall and skinny big brother and a cheeky little brother. When I say cheeky, I mean he was hiding his signature thumbs-up pose behind his parents backs in every photo! It was hilarious.

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The lesson learned for this session would be that a ladder would have been helpful to capture those tall boys and some overhead shots that I visualized – I couldn’t climb high enough. Short girl problems, right? As I mentioned earlier, there is such huge benefits to doing recces of new locations prior to the session. It can make all the difference to know where you want to lead your subjects and planning ahead will never fail to make you more confident.

 

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This session is special to me of course because of our friendship, but more than that, it was about trust. As a photographer, it is an honor when someone trusts you to let you into their lives, to capture their family, and to truly see them. We must never take that for granted, because trust is not freely given.

Here’s to trusting and to bringing out the best others!

Cheers,
kdg

PS –  Look for Keturah’s upcoming guest post on It’s a Colo{u}rful World, sharing her trip to Ein Hod Artist Village. She really is a fantastic and inspiring explorer, mom, wife, and friend!

To Market, to Market we go!

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In Kuwait the market is referred to as the the “souk” and in Israel it is the “shouk.” They are similar language and atmosphere, with vendors selling their wares, calling out for you to come over, and the colorful array of people milling about. It is fascinating and quite a sight to see. It is a great place at which to shop and grab a bite to eat. We particularly enjoy sipping a local Israel craft brew at the Beer Bazaar and people watching.

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That said, my favorite part of the Carmel Market (shouk) in Tel Aviv is that it’s adjacent to the arts and crafts fair on Nachlat Binyamin Street.

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Every Tuesday and Friday starting at 10:00am, the artists setup their stalls on what used to be the longest street in Tel Aviv. First created by a group of craftsmen as a suburb of Tel Aviv, it ended up becoming a part of the city limits and was further developed. Nachlat Binyamin is made up of historic buildings dating back as early as 1911.  In 1988 the converted pedestrian street became home to one of the largest arts and crafts markets in Israel, hosting over 250 artists. (Visit-tel-aviv.com).

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The thing that makes the Nachlat Binyamin experience unique, is that it is mandatory that each artist sells their own work. Allowing you to meet and purchase directly from the artists themselves, not a broker or studio employee. This also creates a vibrant culture of creatives working together and developing relationships. Which you know I love!

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I have to credit my fabulous neighbor/explorer, Julie (above), for introducing me to the market as well as the Hatachana Train Station and Neve Tzedek neighborhood.  She introduced me to several artists she had purchased from in the past and with which she enjoyed good rapport. It was through Julie that I met my favorite Israel ceramist and Instagram buddy, Orna Barel.

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Orna’s work is beautiful and inspiring, but beyond that, she is a lovely person. I have been know to message her and give her a heads up that I am bringing friends to the market or pre-order items that I love on her Instagram and she is always welcoming and treats the newcomer really special. {I’m hoping to feature her in a post in the near future, so this is not the last you will hear about Orna!} Honestly, it is creative community in action. On that note, check out Orna on Instagram or at her Etsy shop.

There are so many artists that I enjoy seeing again and again at the market including Smadar Dagan-Yehieli, a fabulous jewelry designer, discovered by my mother-in-law on our adventure to the market. Thanks to our Kiwi friends’ visit, I was introduced to a new-to-me painter, Osnat Shavit, who produces some gorgeous landscapes, still life, and scenes of childhood. There truly are so many great artists to check out.

To complete the art scene of the market Nachlat Binyamin is a hot spot for sighting some of the incredible graffiti art by MR and other well known Tel Aviv artists.

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Since Julie’s first gave me a tour of the area, I have introduced the market to all our visitors and a couple other expats. After Melissa’s visit to the area, she said I have to bring everyone there when they stay with us; and I totes agree. A trip to the market and the surrounding areas is a must for everyone visiting Tel Aviv!

If you have had the pleasure of shopping the at Nachlat Binyamin we would love to hear what artists you recommend!

Cheers,
kdg

Inspiring Artist: Banksy

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If you read my post a couple months back about urban art, you know I’m pretty inspired by street art. During our visit with our Kiwi friends this past week we talked a lot about the culture of street art here in Israel. The graffiti art that gets the most exposure outside of Israel are the pieces painted on the wall dividing Israel and the West Bank. One of the most well known contributors is the artist Banksy. It just so happens that we noticed a billboard of his art and our friends were interested in seeing some of his work.

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” ― Banksy

I had heard of the name before, but I was unaware of how pivotal Banksy has been in the world of street art. Although he originated in the UK, Banksy has painted several pieces on the wall and recently created the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. We were thrilled to find out that the billboard was advertising (in Hebrew) his pop up gallery running the month April at one of our local malls. It was truly meant to be!

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The exhibit at the Arena Mall, runs three different 4-hour time slots where visitors can peruse and admire several pieces of Banksy’s work all curated by his former spokesperson (and friend) Steve Lazarides. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.

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Although, the artist is anonymous, there are tidbits out there about him, all with the disclaimer that everything “known” has never been confirmed or denied. What is known is that Banksy has changed the genre of street art into art for the high-end consumer. There are stories of Banksy walls being dismantled and sold for millions. It is truly amazing that something that can be seen as vandalism to some is also fine art to others.

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As a political activist, Banksy gives a voice to people being oppressed and marginalized in the public arena and challenges the viewer to think beyond their sphere. He is also known for pranking and producing exhibits that push the limits of being socially acceptable. These include his very own theme park Dismaland and his Hang-and-Run prank where he vandalized faux masterpieces and hung them in museums around the world. He is edgy, anarchic, and he frankly does not care about offending others. Take it or leave it, laugh or ignore it. With anonymity it is easy to let the art speak for itself. In addition to the work itself, Banksy has produced documentaries and self published several books making his art even more accessible to the masses.

“People either love me or they hate me, or they don’t really care.”                 ―Banksy, Wall and Piece

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What I like most about Banksy’s style is the juxtaposition of gritty and innocent; bows on helicopters, little girls and soldiers, and bombers with bouquets of flowers. Specifically, my favorite piece is the showcased Girl and the Red [or Gold] Balloon.

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If you are in the Tel Aviv area I urge you to visit the gallery see if his work speaks to you. Also, as the title of one Banksy’s documentaries reminds us, don’t forget to Exit Through the Gift Shop.

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Let us know if you have seen any of Banksy’s work, we would love to hear what you thought! 

Cheers,
kdg

Referenceswikepedia / quotes