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Somek Winery – Zichron Yachov, Israel

by Juliemara

The other day I was talking with a friend about how fast the past year of my life has gone by. In previous years I would think back on the year of all the trips I took, nights out on the town with friends, events I attended and tasks I accomplished, and every year I amaze my self with how much I could pack into a year. This year I think I could count on both hands the things I did other than raise two babies.


Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t change a moment of it. I am super proud of what I accomplished this year, it’s just very different from all the other years.

Despite loving spending every possible moment enjoying the babies, it’s important and necessary that my husband and I take some time for ourselves. To revive our minds and enjoy each others company every once in a while. As the girls have gotten a bit bigger we are somewhat more comfortable with leaving them with a baby sitter, but we do take advantage of family to do the job when ever possible. So while we were in Israel my in laws took the girls for the day so that my husband and I could go and spend a romantic day in the city of Zichron Yaakov. Complete with a boutique winery tour, a romantic lunch at a quaint little cafe and a stroll down the main street.



Zichron Yaakov is a quiant little hill top town with views to the sea and to the west bank. The town boasts a great variety of restaurants, galleries and shops. The arid climate is ideal for growing grapes so there are dozens of small family wineries.






We visited Somek, this family winery was founded in 2000 by Hila Ben Gera and Barak Dahan. It produces wines from vines near Zikhron Ya’akov that belong to the family and has been cultivated by it since 1882. The winery is also their family home. An out building serves as the the processing facility and barrel storage. Another temporary building is used as their labeling and packing center.

Barak and his wife have six children, including a set of twins! And a baby, almost the same age as the girls. They also have several pets!


20120826-214231.jpgIncluding one cute dog that had joined the family only the day before. When I asked his name Barak said it was still to be decided, currently each of his kids called the dog something different.



Our tour was very special, it was just us and Barak, with him telling us the story of his family, his love of wine and his desire to grow his business.



The one press he uses is an antique.

The barrels are brought from France and only used a handful of times before they are sold to be recycled.

The grapes are grown off site in the fields on the edge of town, but the family does grow a few vines in their front yard.

When we were there a small store front was being constructed into the from of the home so that their was can be sold right where it’s made.

If you get the chance to go to Israel and to Zichron Yaakov, I hope you’ll stop in to Somek for a bottle or just a taste. We enjoyed it and brought home a bottle of the Carignan and a bottle of the blend.

After the winery tour we walked down the main street visiting a few shops and galleries then stopped in to the restaurant Barak recomended called The Kiss.








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2 days away – The Dead Sea

by Juliemara

While away in Israel my husbands parents babysat the girls for a night so he and I could have a much needed and much appreciated vacation! We left in the morning and returned the following evening, but the 33 hours in between were some of the most relaxing we have had since, um, last summer. (since being more than six months pregnant with twins is not relaxing).
After stocking up on some road trip food we drove south through the desert.

The city landscape quickly turned to agricultural fields and just as quickly to rolling hills of tan sand and rock with some scattered desert bushes




and a short while later there were no more plants or trees at all, just bareen desert.


Our destination was The Dead Sea (yam hamelach, yam=sea, ha=the, melach=salt) the saltiest place on earth. It’s called the dead sea because it’s so salty that nothing can live in it.

As we drove the winding road down to the sea there were markers in the rock walls around us noting the current sea level, 500, 100, -100 and so on.

It was hot, the kind of hot where you feel like you are a cartoon and at any moment you are going to burst into actual flames.





Our hotel, Isrotel, was beautiful, the pool was perfect (even though it was quite warm). The garden, the view of the blue water of the sea. There were plenty of lovely places to relax outside… During the cooler months of the year.





I spent my afternoon at the hotel spa getting a salt scrub and mud wrap. I highly recommend this treatment if you ever get the chance to visit Isrotel or the dead sea.

We ate a long quite dinner in the hotel, which included carpaccio! A favorite of both mine and my husbands, and since it was an all you can eat buffet, we must have gone back and forth to the carving station about ten times! Yum.

The next day we went to the actual sea to check out how we would float. And sure enough the water is so salty, which makes it really heavy, you float, without having to hold your breath. It’s really a cool feeling.





The hotel has its own little private section of the beach with sun shades in the water for us to stand under, unfortunately the 129 degree temps didn’t give the sunshades a chance. The water was so hot I had to ease in as if I was getting into an overheated hot tub. But not to worry the dead sea isn’t always a boiling pot of water. In the spring and fall the water and weather are supposedly quite pleasant in the region.

But the heat didn’t bother me, sure it was hot and we had to limit our time outside, but I would go back to the dead sea in a heartbeat. I love the desert and this was a really cool spot.

Turns out our hotel had an indoor pool filled with salty sea water! The water was much cooler than in the actual sea and there was no sun! It was the perfect compromise. Check out this how you float in rally salty water video I made for you!

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Things to do when it’s crazy hot

by Juliemara

Israel is in the desert, it’s hot. Sure they have a winter when it gets cool, even chilly in the northern part of the country but not in August. No, in August Israel is hot, north to south and east to west. It’s just plain hot. I think it was about 100 degrees everyday, temperature is measured in Celsius over there and I am not too good at math, so it may have been hotter. It felt like it.

When the weather man says it’s going to be 37 to figure out the temp in degrees you double it, then subtract a tenth of that total and add thirty-two. So it would be 99 degrees or HOT.

We wanted to take the girls out and do stuff but it was so hot it just wasn’t fair to do that to them, being outside during mid day.

One day we went to a mall. While we were there we visited the baby store, Shilav, that had a little play pen with a couple of kids in it. I put in my kids and the had a ball. They explored every inch of the four by four area and loved every minute of it.







The next day my mother in law and sister in law took them to a different mall with a similar play area but much larger.













And a few days later we went back again. Later in the week we went to another place with a whole room of play equipyement just for babies, the girls played hard and had so much fun.










My question is do these type of indoor playgrounds exit in the US? Where? I know there are classes, but what about a big open space with sensory objects for babies to roam around and learn on thier own?

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To Nana and Granddaddys house we go

by Juliemara

I had these grand ideas of what maternity leave would be like, with all that time off work we could travel, go on a relaxing vacation to some tropical location or maybe a long weekend in the mountains. Well that didn’t happen, between my slow recovery, my husbands crazy busy end of year at work and TWO infants to take care of, we didn’t really even leave the house, let alone the state, for the first two months. But over the New Years weekend, with careful planning and a week of organizing and packing, we hopped in our mini van and headed to North Carolina to visit my parents and show off our new special people to all our family and friends in my hometown.

20120113-124051.jpgThe typical 5 1/2 hour drive took 7 1/2 which was making good time and the girls did amazing in the car, they slept most of the time and I sat in the back with them and read books while they were awake. Here’s Talia with her “are we there yet?” look.

It was a lot of fun being at Nana and Grandaddy’s house. Since there were none of those regular house hold chores to worry about like we would if we were at our own home we were able to relax and just enjoy our time with Nana and Grandaddy and aunt Mindy an soon to be uncle Bryan!
Jordan relaxing

It was also nice to have extra hands for holding, watching, changing, feeding, and playing with babies.







The girls also got to try out some different swings which were loaned to us them by Nanas good friends! Thank You! They were a life saver.

20120117-152137.jpgNana and Grandaddy also threw a party for the girls so all their friends could meet their newest grand babies. This was the girls first party and they loved it, they slept through the whole thing!
The trip back took a little longer but we had a great time and hope to spend many more weekends in North Carolina in the years to come.



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Bored and tired in the airport

by Juliemara

We rushed rushed to get here and now we just have to wait. So far the flight is delayed from 2:40 to 3:00pm. Hopefully the next post will be from the bahamas.

Mazal to my bride friends this weekend, Jessica and Dena, I hope you both have the most amazing day!20110526-024453.jpg

But I have a good book thanks to my sweet friend Tara.

And my sweet husband made sure I was prepared with plenty of protein packed snacks.


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