Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Amazing Results With Photo-editing, Snapseed

For the longest time, I totally avoided and looked down on "extreme" photo-editing. I was raised in the film photography world and was always warned by my parents that it was a waste of money to develop and print bad shots. I had one chance, and one chance only, to click and produce a perfect photo.

So, as you can imagine, it's rather traumatic to accept the digital photography reality in which people may take dozens or more shots of the same scene. Trying to choose the best, after three or four, my eyes go foggy and I just can't see what's better or worse. I'm not a visual perfectionist. The truth is that I'm just not a perfectionist at all!

Now I must admit that even though I highly doubt that I'll be taking more than a handful of photos of the same scene, I have not only discovered the fun and art of photo-editing, but sometimes I fear that I'm addicted.

This week's 52Frames challenge was to use our phone as a camera. To be honest, I've been using my phone pretty much every week for months. Its pictures are far superior to what my cheap camera can produce. That created a bit of a dilemma. I needed to submit a photograph that would be a superior one, davka, because of my phone.

Here is the photo I submitted:
I used two new techniques here. Negative color and a new application recommended by a framer. Thanks
This is the story:
I decided to use a photography option that my Samsung J7 offers. I photographed this pretty flower in the negative. It looked pretty unusual, but just not special enough.

I'm also in a small 52Frames group which is to help each other out with ideas. One of the members of that group suggested that I use Snapseed, a free photo-editing application. So, that's what I did. It lightened the photograph just enough to give more detail and contrast between the flower and the leaves. What do you think?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Amazing Talents, Genetics

Those of us who are parents and grandparents most probably agree with me when I say that my "descendants" surprise me.

It first began when my firstborn opened her eyes, and I could see they were a very light blue. I had always been known for my dark brown eyes. My parents and siblings all had brown eyes. My husband has brown eyes. But somehow Gd decided to shake things up and give us a beautiful daughter who to this day has big light-colored eyes.

Readers of this blog know that I love doing crafts, and I've shown lots of pictures of my mosaics. You may have noticed something about the mosaics. They are rather "abstract." I don't draw pretty pictures and fill them in with colored tile pieces like some of my friends do. I barely plan my "art." I keep saying that the colors inspire me. I don't like following lines and patterns and realistic pictures.

When I worked in Yafiz clothing store, I was known as the one who couldn't fold neatly. Some people would stupidly say:
"You'll get better with practice."
I'd answer:
"I've been practicing for over half a century. I'm hopeless, but I am the best salesperson you have."
A couple of months ago I discovered that my three year old granddaughter applied nail polish more neatly and exactly than I've ever succeeded in doing. When I put it on, there's always a lot on my skin, so I try to do it a day before a special event. That gives me time for the excess to "wear off."

And now I've discovered that another young granddaughter not only decorates cakes which are prettier than the special occasion ones you buy in stores. She decorates nails. The brush she uses is finer than the point of a ballpoint pen.  This sort of exactitude and perfectionism is so totally different from anything I could ever produce.

There are artists in my family who can do this sort of thing, but not me. 

Concerning my light-eyed daughter, she was followed by two other light-eyed girls. My grandfather and my father's two siblings all had light eyes. So adding my father-in-law's light eyes, the genetics behind these surprises are pretty clear.

Of course my grandchildren all have another genetic pool from which they've inherited a lot. I really do love the surprising talents I see in my children and grandchildren.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Jerusalem Big Blue Lions Started Season With A WIN

Jerusalem Big Blue Lion played the Petach Tikva team and won. The game was close. Both are among the top teams of the league. The field was the special American Football field in the new Kraft Family Sports Campus that Robert Kraft funded for the Jerusalem Municipality.

Photo by Ruti Eastman
JBB Lions were the home team and decided to go to the far side leaving the visitors the very narrow sidelines where the fans tried to watch. It was disappointing for us fans not being close to the players, but the Lions coach made the right decision. It's just too crowded where we were. We were all tripping over the equipment, bags and players from the visiting team. And of course they were also blocking our view. It was OK for the fans sitting on the top row, but I like to walk, watch and cheer simultaneously. I'm not an expert in artificial turf, the fake grass which is now used in most sports fields, but as a walker, I loved it. Even after a long day, it was easy on the feet and made walking very enjoyable.

I'm not an expert in football and barely know the rules, but my guess, also from the results in last night's game, is that the top four teams of last year will give each other real competition. None seem to be far superior to the others.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Chodesh Kislev Tov! Gd Willing a Rainy One

We've had such dry weather of late. It's very worrying. Rain here in the Holy Land depends on how satisfied Gd is with our behavior. So, let's start Kislev well with Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, 8:30, Sunday Morning, the 1st of Kislev, November 19, 2017.

תפילת נשים ראש חודש כסלו
בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה
יום א' 19-11-2017
א' כסלו, תשע"ח 8:30
הלל ומוסף לראש חודש
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

Our custom is to pray individually  but sing the Hallel together out loud. We also tour a bit checking what's new in the archeological finds. Email me for more information, shilohmuse@gmail.com. Shiloh Hakeduma is an official archeological site open six days a week. For information about the site or arrange arrange special tours or other events, please contact them directly art@telshilo.org.il.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem #25, New Park, New Loo

This is a continuation in my ongoing series about public toilets in Jerusalem. See  #24,  #23#22#21,#20#19#18#17#16,  #15a#15,  #14#13#12#11#10#9,  #8#7,  #6,  #5, Saved by The First Station aka #4a#4#3#2 and #1

I finally got a walk in during my long break between classes in Matan. The Jerusalem Branch of Matan is 30 Rashbag Street, which is near one of the entrances to the extended "train tracks park" in Jerusalem. You can get to the park through a parking lot.

It's a lovely park with all sorts of playgrounds and benches. Considering the parking lot, you can drive over just to enjoy or take the #18 bus and walk through an older park to get to it. It's also a short walk from a lot of other buses, such as the 77, 14, 15 and maybe more.

I was happy to see that the Jerusalem Municipality has equipped it with a nice public toilet.

At 11am, it was clean and fully stocked. I don't know how often it's checked. My experiences with municipal WCs has been very mixed, if not worse. But they do provide a phone number for complaints. It's in the fine print of the sign.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Great Evening in Israel Museum

The other night I took advantage of the free programs in the Israel Museum. There are always gallery tours in Hebrew and English, and sometimes there are free performances. I was happy to get to parts of the Museum I rarely see.

I highly recommend that you use the earphones, so you can listen to the explanations.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Dawn, My Favorite Time of The Day

Most of my life I've lived in a home facing east. Our house in Great Neck backed East Shore Road, and I could see the dawn light through the trees.

In Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem, our bedroom was also to the east, and I'd look at the dawn while nursing our firstborn.

Here in Shiloh I looked for a piece of land that faces east, on the eastern side of the neighborhood to build our house. And we've been in this house for over thirty years.

So, if you all those periods of time, when the dawn could easily be seen, I've certainly lived much more than half my life influenced by the morning sun. It's no surprise that I'm a morning person. Or did I choose these locations for that very reason. What do you think?


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sometimes Margarine is Best

Last week I did an experiment when baking my TNT tried and true 1, 2, 3 Cookies. I baked them at my daughter's, and she had coconut oil, which is considered healthier than margarine. So, that's what I used.

First of all, since the coconut oil was in a glass jar and not in pre-measured/weighed blocks like margarine, I had two difficult challenges.

  • getting the coconut oil out of the jar
  • weighing the coconut oil
My daughter set up the scale with the mixing bowl at zero, and I struggled to remove the coconut oil from the jar. Eventually I managed to put enough coconut oil in the mixing bowl. I'd say that it easily quadrupled, or much more, the entire preparation time for making these simple cookies. That's besides the greasy mess it made.

Then I quickly added the two other ingredients, sugar and flour. Since we had decided to make granola cookies, I substituted oats for some of the flour. 

Even though the coconut oil was much softer than unmelted margarine, it couldn't be mixed with a spoon or two. So, first my granddaughter and then my daughter kneaded the mixture by hand. It was so awfully greasy that I kept on adding more flour and sugar, besides the cinnamon for flavor. 

I placed the mush in baking pans and put them in the oven, medium heat. I could see them baking and bubbling, but no matter how long, there was no "browning." At one point, when they seemed to have baked enough, I took out the trays and cut the cookies. Then I replaced them in the oven and turned it off. That's where I left the cookies and went home. 

My daughter reported that even when cooled the oiliness remained, and they didn't properly harden. 

There is a version of these cookies with oil and egg, but since we were making them for a vegan, we couldn't use eggs. 

Since the cookies aren't daily fare by us, baking them with margarine is perfectly fine and safe. Forget the coconut oil. It's just not worth the extra time and effort. And the cookies don't come out well either.

Basic 1, 2, 3  cookie recipe:
  • Any weight measurement is fine as long as you're consistent. 
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 200 grams margarine melted
  • 300 grams flour
  • either cinnamon, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, seeds, chopped nuts etc
  • measure and mix
  • pat down 1 centimeter or a third of an inch on baking paper in pan
  • bake in medium oven until it starts to brown
  • remove to cut into squares or diamond shape
  • return to oven and turn it off
  • When it gets a bit browner, not burnt, take out to cool. 
  • Once cooled, the cookies will harden.
  • If they are still soft, then return to hot oven for a few minutes of bubbling.

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Playback" Celebrating 40 Years in Shiloh

This past Motzei Shabbat, Saturday night, we, the renew-returned Jewish community in Shiloh had another forty years celebration.

I miss the early days when all of our parties, events were totally homemade, and not just the food. If I'm not mistaken, there wasn't even a "sound-system." There would be a turnout of 90+%, and the patrolling security guards, neighbors taking turns, would also be listening for crying babies. Everything was arranged and performed by volunteers.

The artist and art teacher, Gretta, telling
her story to the newcomers.
Today is a different world. Not only are the guards and coordinators salaried, but professional entertainers are brought in. One popular performance medium is what's called "playback." It's a form of improvisation based on the reminiscences/stories told by others. The actors then "perform" it with a bit of exaggerations and their own interpretations.

At events, such as the one we had on Saturday night, the actors look for what they see as the humor in these stories. Sometimes when the narrative isn't clear to them, they'll ask the storyteller a few questions. What interested me was the reactions of the actors, who are a generation younger than those who established yishuvim, communities like Shiloh. They just couldn't get into the skin/mind of the first story told, which was by someone who was an active participant in that pioneering time. And the storyteller, who so embodies those early days, didn't really understand what they were asking.

The actors did a better job with some of the other stories, but I ended up leaving the event rather depressed. It's so clear that fifty years after the 1967 Six Days War, the profound significance of our miraculous victory is still lost on most Jews, including those living in the State of Israel.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Cats have an Easy Life

It seems like the local cats are always on vacation. What do you think?

These cats posed with the confidence of someone who cruises first class through life.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Surprisingly Easy Stuffed Peppers

Thursday my husband bought a lot of peppers in the shuq, more than we normally use in a week or even more. The price was good, as was the quality. And even better, it solved the problem of how I would cook the chopped meat I had thawed for Shabbat. That's right. I made Stuffed Peppers.

My version of Stuffed Peppers is very healthy, low carbohydrate and extremely easy to prepare. I start off by making my own tomato sauce. If that's a bit daunting for you, then use whatever ready-made tomato sauce you like. Just dilute it a bit, or things may burn.

Easy Tomato Sauce
  • package of chopped tomatoes 500gm
  • large cut onion
  • fresh garlic
  • peppercorns
  • oil for sauteing
  • a bit of water to swish in carton to get out all of the tomato 
First saute the onion and garlic in oil until it begins to get shiny. Then add the chopped tomatoes, water and peppercorns. Cover and cook on a low heat. While the sauce is cooking you start on the meat and pepper.

Stuffed Peppers
  • 600 gram chopped meat/poultry or combination
  • diced onion
  • a couple of eggs
  • optional any herbs you like, garlic etc
  • 4-6 peppers, depending on size

Cut off the tops of the peppers. You can use the edible parts of the top in the sauce. Just add the pieces. Clean out the seeds from the peppers. Mix the chopped meat with the onion, eggs and spices. 

Spoon the mixture into the peppers. Place them carefully into the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 40 minutes. Yes, it's that simple.

My recipe is different from most people's. I don't add rice to the meat, nor do I add breadcrumbs or matzah meal. You really don't need to, unless you want more carbohydrate and less protein. I don't add salt, either.

Give this recipe a try. I hope you like it. You can add more greens for flavor, such as parsley and celery. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Friday, November 10, 2017

An Advantage of a Poor Memory

To be honest, I haven't had a great memory for decades. I don't think it was all that bad when  was young, very young. But in more recent decades I trust my sense of logic and observation to help me get things done. That's especially true when it comes to using modern appliances and equipment, like the smartphone and computer.

I discovered quite a while ago that the instructions are usually on the screen, and most versions are based on the same sort of logic.

Way back when... I'd never touch a new appliance, whether a blender or oven without reading the instruction book cover to cover. And I even read the entire Dr. Spock baby/child healthcare book from beginning to end when pregnant with my first. The instructions and warnings I carefully memorized have cluttered my brain long after the appliances ceased to function.

In recent years, not only did I find the booklets' written instructions more complicated than the "menus" on the screen, but there's no way I can remember them all. A number of years ago during the days of "word processors," I helped out in an office, and the secretary begged me to take over the computer, since the program wasn't the same as most of us had at home. In all honesty, I couldn't see any real difference.

When I visit the states, people generously offer to let me use their home computers, which are inevitably completely different from mine, apple vs a simple pc. Within a few minutes I adjust. And recently, I've helped lots of friends to function on their computers and smartphones. None of them have the brands and models I own. I just work slowly and look carefully at the screen. So many things are basically the same, even iphones and android models.

I hardly notice when the computer or phone does an automatic update. Just read, and you'll find what you need. It's not all that hard. Don't forget the "undo," Ctrl/Z. It's a lifesaver...