Monday, February 18, 2019

19,492 Plus Steps Yesterday, Fitness & Pedometer Tips

I post many of my "steps" on my instagram page,  shilohbatya

Actually, by the time I went to sleep around midnight, I had reached 19,542 steps. Yes, that may be a record number of steps for me. I use the simple "pedometer" app on my phone to keep track.

Except for when my phone is charging, I have the phone on me, so every step counts. My rationale for that is that since every sip, taste or bite of a food counts for adding calories, then we shouldn't be shy about counting those steps, whether to the laundry room, refrigerator or even the loo.

When you're setting up* your pedometer, make sure that it's sensitive enough to count all those very short "walks." Once after a few hours in a museum, I discovered that although I had done a lot of walking, my pedometer had ignored most of it, since they were short walks from picture to picture, exhibit to exhibit.

I know that the 10,000 steps a day benchmark has been pooh poohed as not very significant, but that's not really true. Once you start keeping track of your steps, you'll discover your own personal benchmarks, and for many people, davka, 10,000 steps is a good number to aim for and later top.

As you may know, I'm no youngster, and I'm overweight and not in perfect shape. So managing almost twenty thousand 20,000 steps in one day is quite impressive, as is my average, which recently has been twelve thousand 12,000 or more. Friends ask me how I do it, without damaging myself.

If you look at yesterday's record, you'll see that I was on my feet most of the day, didn't walk all that quickly and only had three "long" walks. And, thank Gd, it all added up.

Below is a more "average day," and you can see that I was quite sedentary for quite a long period of time. Two long walks of about 4,000 steps each, one at a really good pace, made up for two-thirds of the day's step total. That means that I got in over an hour of good physical activity that day.

The key to my approach is to exercise in small quantities, not to strain the body at all. If you're not in good shape, from injury, age, illness whatever, it's very important not to risk injury. But it's also extremely important to maximize activity. For many, that's a very fine line.

One of my big problems is that I hate exercising alone, whether walking, floor or more aerobic exercise. Ironically, I had once been an exercise teacher, and I know what we should be doing all too well. I just need the added socializing to do it. Listening to classes, music whatever does make walking a bit better, but I can always walk longer and more quickly with partners. To help, I opened a small whatsapp group. Our aim is to walk twice a day. Almost always I'm the nudge writing:
"Anybody able to walk tonight/tomorrow morning? Please, pretty please..."
I don't always find someone, but not only does it help me, my friends enjoy it, too. Instead of chatting over coffee and cake, or not seeing each other at all, we really enjoy our friendly walks. There are people who use the walking time to talk on the phone, but to get full benefit, swing your arms and get a "headset" if you're going to have a "long distance partner." One of my walking buddies uses walking sticks to be steadier and give more upper body workout.

What do you do to make fitness more fun and doable?

*You also must get your step length accurate. A good way of doing it is to actually count ten or twenty steps in your head while walking and then check if the pedometer agrees. If the pedometer says you've taken more steps, then increase length; decrease if it doesn't credit you with enough steps.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Attractive, Easy to Make Healthy Shabbat or Anytime Food

Bake and serve dishes are favorites for my Shabbat Menu. Here are a couple of Attractive, Easy to Make Healthy Shabbat dishes you may like. I'm vague about quantities and ingredients, because I don't measure, and I also don't obsess about having specific ingredients. That's my approach to cooking:
  • be flexible, spontaneous
  • don't obsess
When I have an oven, not something I take them for granted*, baked vegetables are on the menu. I have a variety of bake and serve oven pans, so that even the simplest of baked vegetables can look very fancy.

The photo on the right shows "orange vegetables," baked with just a bit of cinnamon and oil. On a "bed" of onion slices, no need to cut exact anything, I placed carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin in that order. I bake them in a medium oven, heat from the bottom, until they look baked and are soft.

Tonight's main course is pretty much a "one pot meal," besides being "bake and serve." It doesn't include any carbohydrates, so if you eat carbs, have them on the side with salad.

I layered onion and squash, maybe eggplant, too, on the bottom of the baking pan. I used chopped/minced turkey (500 gram, just over a pound) with onion and a small 100 gram container of tomato paste, plus garlic.

Spread the turnkey on top, with a large spoon and then, as you can see, top with fresh tomatoes. I then added just a spoon or so of vegetable oil and then baked it in a medium oven, heat on top, until it drew from the sides of the pan.

You can substitute ground meat, beef, chicken or a combination. Consider it a version of a meatloaf or musaka.

Cooking should be enjoyable and creative.

Shabbat Shalom UMevorach
Have a Peaceful and Blessed Shabbat

*During the year before our kitchen was renovated, we didn't have a functioning oven.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Hurry to The Israel Museum Before Israeli Fashion Exhibit Closes

I've been through the Fashion Statements: Decoding Israeli Dress Exhibit in the Israel Museum a number of times, and each time I notice more and enjoy it more. It's closing on  April 6, 2019.

Here are some pictures I took there the other evening:. Which is your favorite and why?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Instead of Groundhog Day...The Cyclamen, Rakefet

There's no Groundhog Day in Israel. We know that we're having a good winter when we see these flowers blooming.

The Cyclamen (Rakefet) is a hardy root, that spreads easily. The flowers pictured here are from my garden. A number of years ago, someone gave us one as a gift. When it dried out and died, I put it in the garden, and in good winters it blooms.

You can even find these flowers blooming in stone walls or around stairs. In a couple of months, when the rains cease and the air gets warm and dry, they will die... But next winter, Gd willing, if there's sufficient rain, even more cyclamens will bloom.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Purim, Two Weeks After Rosh Chodesh Adar Bet

We're now in Adar Alef, which seems to me should be called Shevat Bet, but I'm not one of the sages...

Purim and birthdays from Adar, when only one, are all celebrated in Adar Bet. Rosh Chodesh Adar Bet is another two day special. I took a "poll" among the women who come most frequently to our Rosh Chodesh Prayers, and they voted that we doven together at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, on Thursday, 30th of Adar Alef, 5779, March 7, 2019, 8:30am.

כולן מוזמנות, תפילת נשים, ראש אדר ב' , ל' אדר א', יום ה' ,7/03/2019 , 8:30, בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה
Today when I was in Shaar Binyamin shopping in a variety of stores there, I came across busy mothers already getting costumes for their children to wear on Purim. It's barely Adar Alef. There are five weeks to go before Purim!

Rosh Chodesh, first of the Jewish Month, is the traditional women's holiday. So, it's really the perfect time to take some time specially for you, ladies. Join us in Rosh Chodesh Prayer. We pray Hallel together outloud, and the rest of the prayers are said silently. There will be a tour of the Tel and Divrei Torah, Gd willing, in both Hebrew and English. For more information email, with "Rosh Chodesh" as subject.

Unlike many other Biblical/Jewish sites, there's no debate as to whether Shiloh is Shiloh. Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, is a recognized Israeli tourist and archaeological site. It's open on weekdays, offers guides and special activities for the entire family. For more information, contact them directly at, or 02-5789111.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Simply Marvelous Apple Compote

Friday afternoon, I decided to make apple compote. I had hoped that it would distract me from eating cake on Shabbat for dessert.

First I cut up a bunch of apples, keeping the peels on, and put them in a pot. Then I added cinnamon bark, though the ground cinnamon would have been fine, too. For a bit more flavor and sweetness I added very little dark brown sugar.

While it was cooking, I got inspired and decided to add some pitted prunes.

Our guest and I absolutely loved it. My husband was happy with the cake and isn't a fruit lover.

The prunes added so much to the richness of the flavor, and to be honest, if you're adding prunes, leave out the sugar. BTW prunes have more flavor than raisins.

Now that I have four burners, bli eyin haraa, I ought to remember to make compote more often.

dark brown sugar (optional)

slice apples, cutting out core
add cinnamon, prunes and optional sugar
other fruit, fresh and dried, can be included
water, almost to cover
cover pot
bring to boil then simmer until colors change
turn off flame
leave covered until it cools down

Eat warm or cold from fridge.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions Undefeated in Season Play 2018-1019

The foggy night in the new Kraft Family Sports Campus didn't fog up two year reigning champions, Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions last night. In a very tough game against the Judean Rebels, the Lions showed their superior playing power.

53-12 Lions over Rebels

The next game is the semifinals in two weeks. Gd willing, we'll win that one, too, and then on to our third National Championship.

For more information about upcoming games and American Tackle (and flag) Football in Israel, click here IFL.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Facebook Photo-Editing Tips

Recently, I've been having great fun with a relatively new facebook feature, Photo-Editing. This feature compensates for the fact that they haven't offered me any new post backgrounds for much too long. Actually, that's why I decided to try clicking the cute little brush I had been noticing in the lower right hand corner of pictures when being up or is it downloaded to my page.

I hope these photos make it clear. If you have questions, don't be shy. Ask me. I read and reply to comments.

Yes, besides editing, you can tag people.

As you can see, there's a very complete menu to choose from.

Choose the color you want, by clicking in the right spot. It can be changed if you don't like it. You can also choose fonts by clicking where it says Arial.

In this mode, you can move, shrink or enlarge the box that has your text..

Don't be afraid to experiment.

PS The photos illustrating this aren't very clear/sharp, because I used my old camera. The phone was charging too far away.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Look at This! Surprise 🌝

This year has been an exceptionally blessed year for rain, here in the Holy Land. And in addition I had taken a neighbor's advice and watered the two barren citrus trees in our garden.

One tree is a lemon tree I had bought well over twenty years ago, and the other is from a sapling one of our sons brought back from a hike a few years after we had planted the lemon tree. We'll refer to the second one as "the mystery tree."

Over a decade ago, I remember seeing some small orange fruit on the mystery tree but don't remeber even trying to eat them. They were terribly small and hard.

For the past few months I've been noticing a number of orange-colored fruit growing on the mystery tree. At first they seemed to high to be picked, but yesterday when I walked by, I could see that there were quite a few of these fruit low enough, even for me. So, today, after my morning walk, I went over to the tree and decided to take a better look.

I picked one fruit from the tree, smelled it decided to take a bite. What could be wrong? They hadn't even sprayed with poisons. Yes, they're organic, completely organic.

One of my guesses, due to size, was that they were some sort of clementina, which is a small tangerine, an easy to peel citrus fruit. Here in Israel the clementina is the first of the winter citrus fruit offered for sale, late summer, early winter. The clementina has a very thin skin/peel, thinner than any orange I'm familiar with.

Test #1 This mystery fruit has a relatively thick skin for its size, but as you can see in the pictures, it's a tiny fruit. Now, I don't know if the mystery fruit is supposed to be small, or if the difficult dry and cold climate here has damaged/stunted it.

Test #2 was the taste test. The mystery fruit tastes something like an orange. I'll leave them on the tree a bit longer and taste them periodically, to see if they get sweeter with time. Of course the challenge is to pick them before they rot on the tree.

I'd be grateful for advice, thanks.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Bagel Café Breakfast, Also Lunch

I have some good friends I meet regularly for all sorts of enjoyable activities. Yesterday's plan was a festive breakfast "out."

We decided that the most convenient location would be the Hadar Mall in Talpiyot. The big problem was to choose which of the many restaurants there. Until just a few months ago, there wasn't much choice, but now they've opened what could be called a third "food court" by the main entrance of the building on Pierre Koenig Street.

Choosing where to eat wasn't easy with so many restaurants. I checked out some via the internet, and we ended up at the Bagel Café, which has a nice large section by the front door.

There's a rather daunting, large selection of food to choose from, special breakfasts and the regular menu. At first glance, it's not cheap, but then I realized that I could "kill two birds with one stone." Since many of the breakfast choices contain too much food, which is why my friends weren't interested, I ordered the Israeli Breakfast.

The above photo doesn't even show all the food served to me. There was also a cookie, which I should have trashed. In the right hand upper corner of the above picture you can see a bit of a bagel. The first thing I did was to make myself a sandwich, tuna, salad and some cream cheese. That was put aside, later packed for my lunch. The remaining food was delicious, filling and kept me going until I got home after 3pm. All I ate, just before a 12 noon class in Matan, was an apple and cup of water. So, even though I spent more than I had hoped for breakfast, I really got two filling meals from it.

The wait staff was polite, but not all that professional. First of all, they should have asked me if I wanted to start or end with my coffee. They started by bringing me coffee and the cookie. The cookie wasn't worth the calories, and I'm sorry I ate it. And my carrot juice wasn't brought with the rest of the food, besides the fact that it should have had been served, or offered, first. I had to remind the staff that it was part of the breakfast. One of my friends had very clearly requested that she get a salad without any tomatoes. But the salad had tomatoes, so she sent it back.

The food was much better than a recent lunch I had at the Emek Refaim branch. Maybe it was the processed fish, we had eaten that had an awful salty aftertaste. This time I ate none of that.

We were all happy with our breakfasts. It was a nice treat.

Bagel Café
Hadar Talpiot Mall, Jerusalem
Sun-Thu 6:30- 23:00
Friday 6:30 -14:00
One Hour After Shabbat Till 23:00

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

How Time Flies, Rosh Chodesh Adar I Next Week

The other night, I looked at the sky and saw the moon. It was just a half circle, and we know what that means. There's only a week left of Shevat. Rosh Chodesh Adar Alef is a week away. This year is a Jewish Leap Year, meaning that we have two months of Adar, an "extra" month of winter before the late winter holiday of Purim.

The Jewish Calendar is a totally brilliant combination of lunar and solar calendars. The solar calendar divides the year into four basic seasons, while the lunar calendar follows the cycles of the moon. There are twelve plus a bit of those lunar cycles in the 365 day solar calendar. That causes seasonal chaos. If, like the muslims, you strictly follow the lunar calendar, not only will your holidays move from season to season, but you'll find yourself "older" than your solar calendar birthday-mates.

Since Judaism is intrinsically connected to living in the Land of Israel, our Jewish Holidays must fall in the correct season. So, unlike Islam, Judaism found a way to celebrate holidays at the right time. It's one of those simple proofs that This Land is Ours, not theirs. There's a carefully calculated formula which adds periodic days to specific months, so there are thirty 30 instead of twenty-nine 20, and some years an additional Adar, winter month, is added, so that Pesach, Passover will be in the spring.

Before our sages compiled/computed pre-computers a set calendar, I guess the decision for an extra Adar was made in the years when the almond trees had no flowers on TU B'Shvat, or something rather similar.

So, even though next Rosh Chodesh is Adar, we aren't supposed to party to prepare for Purim yet. There's another month to wait.

Ladies, please join us at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, for Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers.

30th of Shevat, 5779, Tuesday 5-02-2019, 8:30am.

כולן מוזמנות, תפילת נשים, ראש אדר א' , ל' שבט, יום ג' ,5/02/2019 , 8:30, בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה
We sing Hallel out loud, but the rest of the prayers are said silently and as individuals. There will be a tour of the Tel and Divrei Torah, Gd willing, in both Hebrew and English. If you'd like more information, please contact me with "Rosh Chodesh Prayers" as subject.

Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, is a recognized Israeli tourist and archaeological site. Archeologists agree, that Shiloh is the Shiloh of the Bible, where Chana prayed for a son. Later, when her son Samuel had been weaned, she took him back to Shiloh, so he could be educated by Eli, the High Priest.

The archaeological site of Shiloh Hakeduma is open on weekdays, offers guides and special activities for the entire family. For more information, contact them directly at, 02-5789111.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Our New High Tech Door, Worth The Money

When we renovated our kitchen last summer, we also decided to change the door going to the mirpeset, balcony/terrace.

It was wood with a glass window, and after over thirty years being exposed to the worst of the wind, rain and strong sun, the time had come to replace it. Draughts and rain snuck through, and if I tried to clean the window panes, it was clear that they were very loose.

A few years ago, when I had first been concerned that the lower section was about to separate forever, my son-in-law insisted he could fix/replace that part. That repair didn't solve all the problems, just one. But when the door became so warped that the lock mechanism was misaligned, and keys broke, I lost all patience with it.

The time had arrived to get a new door, something that would upgrade our home. My daughter highly recommended in internal blind, inside the double panes of special insulating glass. Considering how much we were spending on the kitchen, I didn't think it was wise to go "cheap" on the door.

For years I'd been drooling over a door of new, modern materials, neither wood nor aluminum. I wanted top notch insulation. It has always been important to me. I had planned and built the house according to the principles of passive solar heating, and it is as well insulated as was possible to build at that time.

Basically, we had a choice between ordering from an American company via a friend of ours, who is their agent here, or buying from a more local company headquartered in nearby Sha'ar Binyamin. And we know the owners of that company, also. The deciding point was that the American company didn't have a possibility for internal blinds. So, I called Chaim Briskin of Hi-Tech Windows in Sha'ar Binyamin, 02-656-5575, email

I chose what I wanted when visiting their showroom factory, and then later on, they came to my house to measure and take a look at the doorway. Not only did we get a door with a large glass window that has the inner blinds, but we also ordered a simple screen door. By having a screen door, we figured that we can save money in the summer, especially in the evenings, by being able to keep the door open and the screen closed. That way we wouldn't need to use the airconditioner for cooling all that much.

Since the door didn't arrive until the weather had cooled, we can't say how much it will help in the summer. But we're overjoyed at how the door is increasing our winter quality of life. No longer are we suffering from the cold draughts that had plagued our dining area.

It's also a great savings in heating costs. The heater goes off frequently, since heat isn't being lost. During the previous winter, the heater never seemed to go off.

When we built the house, custom designed and built, we ordered double windows. The inner window frames are wood, and the outer ones are aluminum. The planning was rather primitive by today's standards, but despite the numerous imperfections cold stays out.

I firmly believe that it's worth investing in the best possible insulated doors and windows, and today you can get top notch doors and windows from Hi-Tech Windows. I recommend them for all of your window and door needs. You'll save on heating and cooling, especially if you don't skimp on screens. They work all over the country, not just around here.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Japan-Japan, Do Japanese Really Eat That Sort of Food? Restaurant Review

The other night, I went with a friend to the Derech Hevron branch of the "Japanese style" chain of kosher restaurants, Japan-Japan. I'd heard about their restaurants from friends who like the food, especially since there's a branch in nearby Ariel, in the Rami Levy Mall.

I was hungry, since it had been a very long day in the middle of a busy week. As I understood, traditional Japanese food is served separated to show off color, texture etc. But in all honesty, I had never eaten in a Japanese restaurant or been served Japanese cuisine.

The Beit Hanatziv branch of Japan-Japan, 101 Derech Hebron is very attractive, and it wasn't too noisy. Noise can be an awful problem for me. The staff was attentive, and we got our hitech menus set up in English.

There was a large choice of foods on the menu, though most seemed pretty similar to my untrained eye. I decided to choose a cooked main dish, rather than a salad, hoping that there would be enough vegetables in it. We thought it rather funny that although the menu was on a tablet, the waiter had to write our order on a pad with a broken pen, that he had to replace.

Before our food arrived we were served complementary "chasers," which were appreciated, giving our dinner out a festive aura.

My doubts about the authenticity of the food started pretty quickly with our first course of chicken wings, which my friend and I shared. They had been given a Japanese sounding name, but were really just Asian style "buffalo wings" with jam, "soy sauce" and sesame seeds. I did enjoy the small lightly pickled salad on the side. It helped cut the sweetness of the sauce used on the wings. And since "buffalo wings" are a "finger food," we were given lots of napkins and wipes.

For a main course, I chose the Asian Mix which had both beef and chicken, while my friend chose something just with beef. When we were served them, it seemed to me that the waiter had mixed them up. So, we asked again, and were told that we had been given the correct dishes. It didn't take long for us to discover that our guesses had been correct, so we switched them. Yes, as you can see, both main courses are the same color. A careful look revealed the chicken and eggplant in mine. The advantage of this mistake was that we got to taste both, and the sauces were very similar. The sauces totally overpowered the vegetables, both color and taste-wise. But I must say that there was plenty of meat and chicken, and the beef was very tasty.

Neither of us were interested in trying their sushi. If we had been guests of the restaurant, our experience would have been different, no doubt.  But I'm just an ordinary customer. The staff and management hadn't a clue that I'd be reviewing it.

The meal was filling, and not only was Japan-Japan full of seated diners, we could see that they do an amazing takeout business. Bags of cooked food kept leaving the kitchen area, both taken by customers and special delivery staff.

Neither the Japan-Japan site, nor facebook page seem to function in English. But, as I had mentioned earlier, they have an English menu and the staff seemed capable of serving English speaking customers.

We decided to pass on dessert; I couldn't bear the thought of more sugar. Later on we had some fresh fruit, which was perfect.