Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Last Holiday Hurrah?

So last week we had a long weekend by the sea in Netanya (I forgot my camera), went to the Library Ice-Cream Party in the park (also no camera) and bought pizza for supper on the way home (couldn't face cooking), and got the OPV against being carriers of polio (two drops on the tongue, DD: "it tastes like lemon!"). We wimped out of the Kite Festival at the Israel Museum and we thought Moonlight Movies had finished until I found DD watching it from her bedroom window.

I'm more than ready for kindergarten to start but not so ready to go back to school myself - I rather like the lazy get up when you please sort of life. On the other hand, I'm beginning to feel slothful and, if the truth be known, a bit bored. In short, I've wound down and now I'm flaking out.

When I was a child my mother's friend used to organize The Last Hurrah of the summer holidays. I remember a picnic in Cassiobury Park one year when we were very young and a Concert at Kenwood, also with a picnic, when we were older. Last year my friend in London posted pictures on fb of her "End of Summer" garden party.

It's too hot here to go out between 10am and 5pm (well for us wimps anyway). We are wandering around the apartment aimlessly and wondering how to fill the final day of too much freedom. DD has played all her games, I've made my work action list but it's a waste trying to start it whilst hanging out with a 4yo.

Suddenly I notice DD scratching her head. Yippee, something to do! I get out the lice comb and the hair conditioner. Now that's something I don't remember happening in London. Sorry no pictures - can't be bothered.

What was your Last Hurrah of the holidays?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Interior Design: How I Saved A Lot Of Money In Three Hours

As we entered the final week of the summer holiday I started thinking about the new academic year. I've taken on more teaching this year and in order to work efficiently, everything has to be tidy and accessible. To put it bluntly - it wasn't.

When I moved into the smaller bedroom and cleared out the masses of storage space I had in my old bedroom in order to rent out that room, I never found a place for everything so that everything has its place. And DD's room was also getting out of control. Lots of toys, clothes and books in, nothing out. It all adds up, especially as I finally decided that she's old enough to keep all her stuff in her bedroom. With a lodger the salon has to be a grown up room and not a playroom, unless it is actually being played in.

My solution last week was to buy more storage - even though I'd said it's not about more storage, it's about owning less. Some wall shelves in DD's room and a shelving unit for my room maybe? We went looking but something stopped me buying. At the last minute I suddenly had the brilliant idea of... wait for it... tidying up. Remember "Think like Gali"? Yeah well I never really achieved that even though I did major decluttering when I moved into the smaller bedroom.

So today we tidied DD's bedroom. Yield: One ride-on toy ready to go to the nursery, two bags of books and toys to donate to the next charity sale, a bag of books to return to a friend who lent us a virtual library when DD was a baby, 40 pine cones that we collected last year (what for?) to the kindergarten for crafts, a bag of old shoes to put by the bins, another bag of good shoes to give to a friend, and a big bag of rubbish to throw out. That's seven bags of stuff we didn't need! And I am not a hoarder.

Not only did we not need to buy new shelves for DD's bedroom, we emptied and moved out of the room, one large storage box on wheels and a sturdy 4-shelf plastic vegetable rack that had been full of toys. The bedroom is now clear, clean and clutter-free. Next stop my bedroom.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Richard lll In Motion

This evening we went to see Theater in the Rough's Richard lll In Motion. I was a little unsure about taking my 4yo to see a two hour Shakespeare - and not one with the easiest or nicest of plots. I'm still not sure what exactly happened there tbh. However one friend already said that her 4yo twins were enthralled for the entire two hours so we packed a picnic and went. DD was fascinated from start to finish, as was her 4yo friend who we met there.

It was an excellent performance. Richard lll was indeed a villain but a humorous one and entirely convincing, as were all of the cast. The in motion aspect meant that we moved around the park from location to location following the action. And as we walked, the actors walked with us, playing out scenes en route as if we were all part of the play. This culminated in the entire audience of about 100 people charging into battle for the final scene.

Half way through, DD whispered to me: I love this. (I kvelled). We were so engrossed we didn't have time for our picnic so we brought it home with us and ate it off the coffee table.

We're already looking forward to next year.

Friday, August 9, 2013

#ShabbatShalom : Summer Harvest

Whilst watering the kindergarten garden this week and picking a nice crop of cherry tomatoes and mint, my eye kept wandering to the kindergarten next door where the tomatoes were bigger and they had red cabbages growing. No one was tending their plot. As luck would have it, the teacher from that kindergarten arrived to do some prep for September. I told him he should pick some vegetables from his garden and he was surprised that anything had survived the heat. I offered to water it all for him as we were there anyway and he, of course, invited me to pick anything I could use. Win-win. This is what we harvested yesterday.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Nooly

This is not a sponsored post. It's a post written out of admiration for my friend Yael Katz. Looking for soft furnishings for her children but not knowing how to sew, she persuaded her mother to lend her the sewing machine anyway. Then she found a sewing teacher and started making soft toys and accessories for children and babies from her spare bedroom in Jerusalem. (You can read a better account of the story here).  My Nooly is now a thriving business selling at craft fairs and online.

Here is Yael at The Tachana last Friday.

DD always goes for the hair accessories. She particularly likes the crocheted butterflies, flowers and chicks.

The most useful item we ever bought was a small beanbag. I thought it was for throwing and catching like we used to do in school. However, Yael told me you can heat it in the microwave to sooth muscle and joint pains. DD sometimes wakes up in the night with growing pains in her knees. The beanbag is like a miracle cure. Instant relief. They can also be kept in the freezer to relieve bruises, swelling and sprains.

My personal favourite item is the tooth fairy pillow. A small pillow with a pocket for your fallen tooth so that the tooth fairy will know where to find it (and to stop it falling down behind the bed in the night). We're waiting a couple of years until we need one of those.

Check out the My Nooly website for more exquisite ideas - she ships abroad if you see things you fancy. Also My Nooly on Facebook, obviously. For Israelis take a look at My Nooly at the Marmeleda Market website.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Kindergarten Garden

As we live opposite the kindergarten we volunteered to water the flowers, herbs and tomatoes in the garden during August. The tap round the back isn't working so we watered the front and back gardens from the tap at the front using four small containers. I think we may have to invest in a large watering can.

On the long trek to the back garden

We may have to harvest some of these later in the week

An abundance of mint
We also collected and disposed of two bags of rubbish.

And my reward....

Mint and hot water - deliciously refreshing

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Making Sauerkraut and Homemade Tofu (Potchkerei)

I love sauerkraut and last week I stood looking at the jar of it in the supermarket and thinking there must be a way to make this rather than paying about 20 times the price of a cabbage for it. And I'm sure there was added stuff that I didn't need in it.

A couple of days ago Elaine at Mortgage Free in Three, posted how to make sauerkraut. And guess what? It's just cabbage and salt. I always have a cabbage on the go in the fridge. I slice off a bit to give some crunch to any savoury sandwich. I had about a 1/4 of a cabbage left so I followed Elaine's instructions and made a jam jar's worth of sauerkraut. Of course it has to ferment for a week but if it tastes good I'll make a bigger batch next time. (You can see my soy beans soaking in the background.)

As I was potchkeing about in the kitchen anyway and I'd bought dried soy beans with the express purpose of making my own tofu, I decided to get to it. You have to soak the soy beans for about 7 hours before you start and then make the soy milk before you even get to the tofu part. I chose this recipe because it tells you to save the ground soy beans left over from making the soy milk. It's called okara and it's nutritious. There are loads of recipes online for okara. It would be a crime to throw it out but many of the tofu recipes say to chuck it.

I used one cup of dry beans which swelled to about three cups after soaking. I used lemon juice as the coagulator. I was thrilled when I saw my soy milk curdling. Payback for all the times I've baked a cake and added the eggs too fast or something. Suffice to say I know curdling when I see it.

My yield of tofu was less than one cup. Delicious as it was, and it was - with a delicate lemony taste, I was decidedly underwhelmed. I could have used it in a tofu recipe but I was fed up by that point. It was like one of those French Haute Cuisine or Cordon Bleu things where you reduce and reduce for hours and end up with a thimble of exquisite sauce. I sprinkled it with salt, olive oil and some za'atar and ate it in less than a minute.

If you were unsure of the meaning of potchkerei above - this is it. Eight hours of work and a sink full of pots for this. Tofu isn't cheap but if you factor in the time, water, gas, electricity, washing up liquid... I'll be buying my tofu in future.

The okara however, ended up as 24 soy-oat-peanut butter-raisin-brown sugar cookies. Yum. And the final straining of the tofu curds left me with a soy stock which looked and tasted like a light misu soup. I fried some onions and garlic, added seasoning and soy sauce and ended up with delicious onion-soy soup.

So I got something for all the potchkerei, just not the mountain of cheap and healthy tofu I was expecting. And I'll let you know how the sauerkraut tastes next week.

Friday, August 2, 2013

#ShabbatShalom : The Station

The original Jerusalem Train Station was part of a network of railways that ran from Cairo to Damascus. It was still in use when I arrived in Israel 25 years ago but the trains stopped running soon afterwards and a new station was built elsewhere. The old station has recently opened as an arts and crafts, foody, concert and entertainment venue. We went there this afternoon to taste the ice-cream and play with the constructastraws. It's a good half hour walk each way so we came home tired enough to justify a dvd before supper and bed.

The old platform and buildings are restaurants and a railway museum

The opposite direction

There's a craft market and farmers' market over the old tracks

Tables of creative toys are free for the children

Every so often a concert breaks out

Here begins the long walk home

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Interrupted

This post includes content of a womanly nature and the word 'tampons' is mentioned. Twice, if you count this time.

Once, about 16 years ago, I met a woman who had lost her teenage daughter to Toxic Shock Syndrome. She scared me into never using tampons again. I noticed that with the switch to pads, most stomach cramps and discomfort magically disappeared. It seems obvious now that if your body is trying to purge and cleanse itself then it's not going to take kindly to you bunging it up with a stopper.

Yesterday Kindy-camp finished. Yesterday I posted "fail" on the website against those students who had failed to complete the course. Yesterday, when those same students called me to try and manipulate  persuade me to give them more time (that should be more more time to be precise) I told them it was all over and they should sign up for next year. Today began the chofesh hagadol (big holiday).

We had plans. Get to the local pool early and buy our subscription for the month of August. We had already found suitable photos of the two of us for the card-passes. DD went to bed last night with a smile on her face.

Yesterday I woke up with a headache. I was feeling exhausted, hot and sweaty although it wasn't so hot out (only 29 degrees C), and in need of food when I was way past not being hungry. I took a nap in the middle of the day. I had a mini-binge in the evening. I couldn't be bothered to do anything in the house or cook. DD had cereal and an apple for supper (there may have been some ice-cream and a packet of sweets involved - I don't even remember tbh).

You'd think that after 38 years x 12 months I'd recognise the symptoms.

DD woke up this morning shouting, "Hooray! It's the Chofesh Hagadol! Are we going to the swimming pool?"

I told her I'd got an email saying they weren't opening it until Monday. Luckily we went swimming last weekend at our friends' kibbutz.

It's now lunchtime and here we are doing puzzles, watching Mary Poppins, and eating something from the freezer.

Me: Shall we go out and do something fun as it's the chofesh hagadol?
DD: Nah, lets just stay at home today.

At the risk of being a SMOG (well actually I'm the biggest SMOG ever), that's my girl! :)