Monday, December 31, 2018

Next Week Rosh Chodesh Shevat!

It's hard to believe, but our winter is almost over here in Israel. Even though there has been a custom for decades to use the Jewish Month of Shevat, and more popular the middle of Shevat, TU B'Shevat as a national tree planting day, according to experts, it's a couple of months late. Most of the heavy rains and cold are usually before TU B'Shevat. That means that if you plant trees on TU B'Shevat, you must make sure to water them well for the first few months and into the dry Israeli summer.

Thank Gd, so far at least, we've had a nice rainy winter here in the HolyLand, and soon we should be seeing lots of beautiful wild flowers decorating empty lots and peeking through rocky areas. Gd willing, since this year has two months of Adar, so that our shorter lunar calendar will be adjusted and the Jewish Holidays will fall in the correct seasons, there should be another three months of rain.


It's such a blessing to live in Israel, the Land of Israel and especially in Shiloh. For well over a decades I've been going to nearby, just a mile or kilometer and a half, walk to Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh on Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Jewish Month, to pray with other women.

Honestly, I do not like praying at graves, no matter what holy person may be buried there. I feel much more attached to Ancient Shiloh, where during Biblical Times Jewish people came to pray. The ancient Tabernacle Mishkan, stood/rested there for close to four hundred 400 years. It predated Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.

Rosh Chodesh Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, site of the Mishkan, Holy Tabernacle will be on the 1st of Shevat, 5779, Monday 7-01-2019, 8:30am.

כולן מוזמנות, תפילת נשים, ראש חודש שבט, א' טבת, יום ב' ,7/01/2019 , 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, Ancient Shiloh is open six days a week. It's a recognized tourist and archaeological site. Contact them directly at, 02-5789111.
Ladies, please join us. Chodesh Tov, have a Wonderful Month.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

An Added Advantage/Bonus From Our Kitchen Renovations

I blogged yesterday about how much I'm enjoying our new kitchen, there's something I left out. Renovating the kitchen required going through all sorts of things, sorting, throwing them out, giving them away and also finding items we're happy to use but forgot we had.

No doubt we're not the only people who just let possessions pile up until the mess is overwhelming just to think about. We aren't great at clearing out stuff. Our stuff increases like yeast dough on a hot day. Or you can say that "clutter is our middle name."

One of the things I found when taking apart, emptying closets etc of the old kitchen was this Havdala candle. Tonight we finally used it, about three years after we got it.

Friday, December 28, 2018

My New Kitchen, Am I Happy With It? Is It Worth The Expense?

For those who have followed the saga of my new kitchen and those who are wondering if it's worth going through all the hassle and expense, I must say that I'm really glad that we did it.

We moved in this house over thirty years ago, and although it was custom designed from head to toe in every way, I must admit that there were elements in the kitchen that were problematic from day one. I did have some really good things which I enjoyed from day one until the very last day.

We have a strictly kosher kitchen, so two sinks on two different walls were a necessity for me. Yes, there are people who manage with side-by-side sinks and double sinks, which I had until then. And when we were living in London on shlichut (doing Jewish Zionist youth work) we only had one sink, for which I needed bowls and had to be more organized.

Another really good thing I had in the old kitchen was a "table" jutting out of the wall, large enough for all the kids to sit around. In the middle of it was a raised section with heat-proof tiles, the same as we had on the walls. And instead of table legs, there was a closet where I kept tablecloths and other kitchen items. Today, that's my heat-proof cabinet for candlesticks. We just had the "table" part sawed off. This piece was my design, so I'm really glad that it could be transitioned and used even now.

In addition, we had plenty of closet space. Another of my demands/requirements/designs was a wall of closets, not very deep, with bookshelves on the side. And that remains in use to this day. The only change is that I got rid of all my cookbooks and sundry books that had been gathering dust. Now, I have mugs and coffee accessories on the shelves.

There were some basic, serious design/planning mistakes in the old kitchen. The refrigerator is on the far left, while refrigerator doors open to the left.  Decades ago, it wasn't a problem, because one could easily have the door switched. Nowadays, unless you have plenty of space and money for a four-door model, it's extremely hard to find one that can have the door switched. Ours is now over ten years old, and it was almost impossible to find one. Our refrigerator is now on the right side of a wall.

One really bad mistake our contractor did was to order the kitchen cabinets to fit our old appliances, the ones we had when building the house. I caught the mistake before the kitchen cabinets were brought to the house, and we gave the refrigerator more space. That's because I had already bought a new wider one. But we ended up with the super small niche for the stove/oven, which was awful. First of all, by the time we had to replace the old one, they don't last forever, there were very few that size still on the market. And in all honesty, I was getting very frustrated baking in super tiny ovens. My dream was to have two full-size (by Israeli standards obviously) ovens, one for meat and one for parve/dairy. BTW, the meat oven hasn't had any chametz, so kashering it for Passover isn't problematic. And the second oven has never had dairy baked in it, so it's really parve.

In addition, the original kitchen was designed for a young family with five children and lots of visiting kids and family. Today, we have an "empty nest" and entertain mostly for Shabbat meals.

Luckily I was able to save a bit of money by not paying a professional kitchen planner. My son-in-law and I planned it, with one little tweak by the guy I found to "do," or more accurately be in charge of all aspects of the renovations.

The old kitchen had upper cabinets to the ceiling on all the walls. Now we have almost none, and amazingly we have more storage space. The lower cabinets are drawers, except for the "island." And instead of an awful impossible to easily access corner cabinet, we have the meat sink there.  And under the sink there's space for the large meat oven trays and the "platta," the large electric food warmer used on Shabbat, plus the covers for it.

I replaced the old "children's table" with another custom designed piece. The new island has the dairy sink and facing the dining room table is a cabinet full of Passover dishes. That island also has a spot to sit and countertop space for dish-drainer and food preparations. 

Of course I now have two full-sized ovens. They are on the left, where the refrigerator used to be. And the fridge is where the old stove used to be. I feel like there's tons more counter space than before, although it may just be an illusion.

The color scheme, wall tiles, formica etc are attractive, as far as I'm concerned. I haven't seen this combination anyplace else. But since aesthetics are very individual, that's not important. I also liked the old kitchen, and the wall of closets that remain blend in all right. There's an option to replace the doors, but I decided that the expense wasn't worthwhile.

Two things my husband kept asking people before we got started was:
How long did you have to suffer without a kitchen?
And did you have to move out of your house while the renovations were going on?
So to answer those questions, it took two weeks until we could begin using the new kitchen, and we never had to move out of the house.

During the two weeks we didn't have a kitchen, we managed without really cooking in the house. I prepared more sandwiches than I had for a long time. We ate out and at neighbors. I also heated and cooked a bit at neighbors and brought the food home. I also used the electric "hot plate," which had been my "stove" for two years. Since it was precarious when mounted on the laundry room sink, I used it only when very desperate. Two weeks aren't forever.

Now cooking is such a pleasure. And I love baking in my new ovens.

Yes, getting a new kitchen was certainly worth the expense and the hassle. 

Following are a variety of photos taken in my new kitchen.

The plug/wire for the light has been fixed since then.

Here's my recycled closet

Thursday, December 27, 2018

One Big Disadvantage of Making Coffee in Stainless Steel

For years I've been making my morning coffee in either a stovetop stainless steel percolator or in a French Press. Until a few months ago, the French Press was glass, but now, after so many broke I have a stainless steel one.

Honestly, I'm very happy with the quality coffee they make. I use Israeli Elite Turkish in the French Press and either American ground coffee or buy ground coffee here in Israel for the French Press.

There's only one real disadvantage to making coffee in stainless steel. I haven't a clue as to when I've poured/served almost all. I use a great variety of coffee mugs, different sizes. So it's hard to keep track, have an accurate idea when only a spoonful is left, when I should pour just a bit more into the mug. At first I'd continue putting in my half spoon of sugar and sometimes get just a few sips of coffee to drink with it. OK, that super sweet coffee wasn't on purpose, so do the extra calories count?

Now when I think I'm towards the end I first pour the coffee and then add sugar to suit the quantity.

Problems of the "rich."

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Nu, Power Coffeeworks Dark Blend?

Last week, just in the nick of time, I bought half a kilo, must over a pound of freshly ground to order "power dark roast" coffee from Power Coffeeworks.

I had very correctly guessed that my stock of American ground coffee was grinding to an end for the first time in a very long time.

I debated between going to Power Coffeeworks and another coffee place. But since I needed to go to Rechov Agripas (Street) for something else, and I fondly remembered to aroma of their roasting coffee... Yes, Power Coffeeworks was my destination.

Just as I had remembered from an earlier visit, the roaster was full of coffee beans, and the strong coffee aroma was a perfect pick-me-up for mid-morning, or almost anytime but bedtime. I bought their "power dark roast, " and this week I began making it in my unbreakable stainless steel French Press.

Nu, I guess you're waiting for my reaction, opinion about the coffee. OK, in one word, I'd say "PERFECT."

Yes, of all the ground coffee I've bought in Jerusalem, "power dark roast" coffee from Power Coffeeworks is the best! I hope that answers your questions. The flavor is great, and the coarseness suits my French press.

Enjoy! Bottoms Up😋

Sunday, December 23, 2018

After All These Years, How Can I Replace It?

When my clothesline suddenly ripped this morning, my first reaction sas:
"After All These Years..."
And since I knew exactly where I had bought the rope, I wasn't all that worried. True, I had last replaced it about twenty years ago. Luckily I had only planned on hanging out one wash.

Instead of one of my "fitness" "trying to lose weight" walks, I went down to the grocers. That's where I had bought the one that had lasted for about twenty years. It was a thick metal wire coated with some plastic. I wanted exactly the same thing. It will probably last longer than I will, at least longer than my laundry hanging capabilities. Only Gd knows, for sure.

At the grocers, I said:
"I need to replace something I bought here twenty years ago."
Everyone in the store was my kids' generation, so they looked at me kind of funny. When I explained what I needed the manager went to help me find the clothesline. Problem. It wasn't the same sort of material. It reminded me of the lanyards we used to make. And even worse, it came in ten meter packages. I would need four packages for the four lines of five meters each plus enough to tie them. That's crazy; I need one long 25 meter package.

There's a hardware store down the hill in the Shiloh Industrial Zone; maybe they sell it there. But before I had time to go down, my husband said he'd be in Sha'ar Binyamin. So, I asked him to go into the store where I got the plastic bag holder. We struck out again. He didn't find one there. So I still must go down to the industrial zone. Gd willing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Where was This? "Break the Rules!" 52Frames

I used to post a lot of my 52Frames photos. Maybe I should resume. 52Frames is a group Photography project in which we are challenged weekly. It's based on a facebook page.

I've been a member for years. I haven't missed a week since I joined. My photos aren't considered among the best. I use a cheap phone rather than a fancy camera, and I doubt if I spend as much time in "planning and creating" my shots as others do. But I've still learned an awful lot about photography, composition, photo-editing etc. And I'm still learning and enjoying it.

Here's my latest photo. Do you know what/where I took it?

"Taking a Peek"
Need I say more?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Errands, Coffee and Shoelaces

Yesterday I ended up having to go to Jerusalem for an "emergency" dental appointment. And since I travel mostly by bus, I ended up with time to spare/waste, which was actually perfect. Our bus service isn't all that frequent, nor is it on a systematic, every --minutes a bus. We can have two buses in one hour and then two hours without any public transportation.

I had two errands to do in Jerusalem, and lucky for me, they could be done on the same street.
1-My French Press coffee stock is getting low, and I'm not expecting any gifts from the states. That meant that I had to go to one of the coffee places that grinds the beans on the spot for outrageous prices. It was that or to buy some American coffee in one of the few stores that sells it at inflated prices.
2-On Sunday, one of my shoelaces ripped. The shoes, Rockports, are probably a decade or more old. I bought them on sale in Malcha Mall, and they still look pretty new.
Both the tasks could accomplished on Agrippas Street in Machane Yehuda. First I searched for shoelaces. I asked in a few stores, but they didn't have, so I continued in the direction of King George Street, since there are a few shoemakers, repair places there. I finally found one open, and he ahd a slew of laces hanging by the door.

Luckily, I had pulled out the "good" lace from my shoe and had it with me. This way I bought the right length. NS5 per shoelace, a bit expensive, but I wasn't going to walk around with mismatched laces in quality Rockports.

After getting the laces, I walked in the other direction along Agripas Street to the big white building on the corner of Shiloh Street. That's where I bought my coffee, at Power Coffee Works. I got their dark roast, which is a blend.

I spent NS54 for half a kilo, not cheap, but they roast their coffee in the store, which makes me feel that I'm buying quality. It smells great.

And then I went to the dentist. Got there a half hour early, and B"H, the repair wasn't as complicated as I had feared.

A day in my life...

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Singalong, Yair Rosenblum

One of the more recent Saturday night, Motza"Sh, meaning after Shabbat, activities here in Shiloh has been singalongs.

Way back when in the early decades in Israel, singalongs were very popular social/cultural activities. There would be slides, a slide projector and a big screen or cleared off wall, so the participants could read the words. Music would frequently be provided by someone playing an accordian. When there wasn't anyone to provide live music, there would be a tape recorder. Now everything's online and via the computer. Last year when I attended a singalong, the volume was turned down and a young neighbor ended up playing absolutely everything on the piano.

This time one of our "social coordinators" combined a television program about Yair Rosenblum with some "slides" of the lyrics.

I'm not an expert when it comes to who wrote Israeli songs. I know almost nothing, except about Naomi Shemer.  In a sense they were contemporaries, since they wrote some of their most famous songs during the same time period.
Yair Rosenblum:
Rosenblum was born in Tel Aviv.[5] He was musical director of the Israel Defense Forces chorus in the 1960s and 1970s.[6] He directed Israel's annual music festivals.[5][6]He conducted and composed songs for the Israel Defense Forces army and navy ensembles.
Some songs I knew, others were familiar, and some I had never heard before. It was an enjoyable evening. I'd really like a singalong of Israeli songs we used to dance to. Then I'd feel young...

Thursday, December 13, 2018

New/Old Hobby or Baile Rochel Returns to Crocheting

"Baile Rochel" is my alter ego, or maybe she's the real me. Click "Baile Rochel" to read more of her writing.

Yesterday, when I was walking around the Talpiyot shopping aka industrial area, I found myself walking into a crafts store. I usually just walk around the Hadar Mall and then trek to Matan for a 12 noon class. But yesterday, I had been dropped off on a different street.

I love to window shop, always have, but suddenly I was attracted to yarn. It got a hold on me and pulled me in.

Before I realized what I was doing, I had picked out two packages of yarn and a crochet hook and announced to the salesman that I was going to crochet a scarf.

Of course, I've never crocheted a scarf before. I haven't a clue how to do it. The only thing I've ever crocheted has been hats and kippot (skullcaps.) There's a big difference between crocheting something round and crocheting something long which is supposed to have the same width all its length. Crocheting round things is very simple; it suits the technique.

Please don't tell me to follow a pattern, because I don't know how to do that either. I've always crocheted by "instinct" or common sense or just plain guesswork. And sometimes I've made a mess out of things.

There are two reasons I was pulled into this little/insane challenge. One is that I have a new jacket, the same dark blue as the yarn, and it needs a scarf. Two is I've been wanting to do something to help keep me awake and alert while at classes/lectures. Years ago, I did needlepoint pictures, but then I ran out of wall space. After that I kept myself happily busy crocheting hats. But after a few years I stopped wearing them. I prefer covering my hair with scarfs.

Of course, since I'm Baile Rochel, I didn't do any research, no google searches to try to find out any tricks to crocheting a scarf. I didn't ask anyone either. As the lecture began, I took the yarn and hook and tried to remember how to start. In all honesty, I was surprised at how long it took me to figure out what to do. And the start isn't exactly the same as for crocheting something round. But it's like what people say about riding a bike,You never really forget. Only crocheting is much safer. I wouldn't dare try to ride a bike after all these years/decades. If I goof up the crocheting, I can always undo the stitches or throw the mess out.

I crocheted a few rows and stayed awake during the lecture. That's good. There's no chance the scarf will be perfect, but I don't really care. As I tell my friends during my mosaics class, when they ask me what I'm making:
"It's the journey that's important."
What harm would it do to wear a crooked misshapen scarf, especially if the act of crocheting had helped me stay awake during expensive classes?

PS If you have some tips to help me crochet a scarf that doesn't look totally ridiculous, please write them in the comments, thanks.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Don't Be Shy, Report

This isn't about the "Me, too" movement, but in a way it's connected. There are many things that should be reported. Not all are dramatic and sexual.

I'm sure that in the rest of the modern world, like in Israel, the various public transportation companies have phone numbers and internet sites through which you can report various irregularities. My husband and I have gotten free tickets to be used to and from Jerusalem when reporting that scheduled buses haven't arrived.

Today I reported something else. Not for the first time did a bus driver take off before I could get near a seat. But today I reported it. I was very annoyed and sat myself down on the steps. I managed to twist around and place my Rav-Kav (prepaid bus pass) on the "sensor" to pay, which could have been dangerous for me. But I had been holding it and wanted to put it safely away.

Click here to report it.

I'm sure this driver has done it to me before. Another time a driver told me to sit in a proper seat, and I told him that I don't walk in moving buses. That's extra true when the bus is making turns, as it did seconds after I boarded.

Luckily I wasn't dressed in anything fancy. Denim skirts are pretty hardy.  I even took a picture.

As you can see, I was sitting on the steps of the bus.

It was about a seven minutes' drive until the next stop. When the bus stopped, I quickly got up and found a seat. And when I got home, I reported it to Egged Tavura.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Very Off, Off, Off, Off-Broadway West Side Story

Last night a couple of friends and I went to the final performance of Beit Hillel's West Side Story, which was a super treat. We and the rest of the standing-room-only audience loved every minute of it.

Sorry, that we can't tell you to see the show, because it was only a limited run. But now we'll be on the alert for future productions. The performance level, sets etcetera were are on a very high level, and I was extremely happy that they had live music. Unfortunately live music is much too rare nowadays.

West Side Story is one of my all time favorite musicals. Yes, of course, I know all the lyrics by heart, and I'm proud to say that I controlled myself only mouthing them instead of singing out loud and annoying everyone around me.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Eight 8 Nights of Chanukah

Chanukah 5779, 2018 Night #1

Chanukah 5779, 2018 Night #2

Chanukah 5779, 2018 Night #3
Chanukah 5779, 2018 Night #4

Chanukah 5779, 2018 Night #5

Chanukah 5779, 2018 Night #6

Chanukah 5779, 2018 Night #7

Chanukah 5779, 2018 Night #8

Sunday, December 09, 2018

New Mug From My Granddaughter

At our big family Chanukah Party last week, I brought presents for absolutely everyone. I've continued with the custom I began when I was working in Yafiz clothing store, buying pajamas for all of the children. I managed to find them all in one big shopping session in the Pisgat Zeev Mall a few weeks before Chanukah. Sales had already begun, and there were all sizes. I had to get adult sizes for the oldest ones, who are all taller than I am. And in one of the big children's chain stores, Kiwi, I found cute sweatsuits for the younger ones. So far, reports are that they all fit.

For the grownups, I went to my favorite store, FOX Home, and I wasn't disappointed. They had a wonderful selection of mugs at discounted prices. To make life easier for myself, I got all the kids identical mugs and something else useful for my husband.

I was surprised at the party by a personal gift for me. One of my younger granddaughters bought everyone presents with her own money. This mug has praises written all over:
"My Grandma is THE BEST"
"My Grandma is Young at Heart"
"Beloved Dear Grandma"
"Grandma #1"
"Perfect Grandma"
and more wonderful words💖💝💟

Yes, she's a very special granddaughter!

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Easy, Inexpensive Frugal "House Redecorating"

Not all of us can afford major redecorating projects. Last summer I spent a lot redoing our kitchen. My general principle is not to replace what isn't broken. I try to be very frugal, since we really don't have a lot of money to spend.

That's why I haven't changed our windows, bathrooms, etc. We've had the same Venetian blinds for years, even though I can't get them clean. They still work and look pretty good.

The most frequently changed items are the shower/bathtub curtain and the bathtub mat. Here's the new set (actually they weren't sold together), which I picked up at our local food store. They really didn't cost much. Our bathroom tiles are yellow, and the tub's white. I wove the rug in our senior citizens crafts club.

I like the cheerful colors. What do you think?

Friday, December 07, 2018

Simple and Delicious Baked/Roasted Chicken

Usually I buy whole fresh chickens in Rami Levi (discount supermarket) every few weeks and put them in the freezer. I really find that they taste better than frozen ones sold locally. But when I went there to stock up on Monday morning, the whole chicken had a "last day to sell" for the same day I was there. I don't buy on "last day," since there's too much a chance that they just aren't fresh enough. The worker behind the counter refused to give me fresher ones from the back, so I checked out the chicken parts and discovered that the "bottoms," which are most popular in my family, were discounted, so that's what I bought. An additional advantage was that I didn't have to cut up the whole chicken into parts. I just separated/cut the leg/drumstick of the really large ones.

Now for my Simple and Delicious Baked/Roasted Chicken recipe:
lemon slices, ground pepper, sweet paprika, garlic and cuzbara (Coriander, also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley)
Chicken, best cut into serving-size pieces, though you can use the same seasonings on a whole chicken or one cut "butterfly" or spatchcocking aka in half.

Bake uncovered in the oven about 220 degrees Centigrade (220°C × 9/5) + 32 = 428°F) with turbo fan going until it begins to look cooked, then lower to about 190 for another 10-15 minutes. It takes longer if you don't have a turbo oven. Remember that every oven is different, and different sorts of baking pans also affect temperature and cooking time.

Yes, it's that simple, and I don't add salt or any oils. Since I prepare my chicken in advance, I store the cooked chicken in containers in the refrigerator and include all of the natural juices/fats in the pan along with the chicken. I heat the chicken with the natural juices/fats, which have a lot of the flavor and richness.


PS you can certainly vary the seasonings and add fresh ones, like onion, too.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Bibi Could Be an Actor, or is He? Bibi's New Chanukah video

Former American President Ronald Reagan said that he didn't understand why people thought that his acting career was a strange one for a politician, especially for an American president. He said that he couldn't see how an non-actor could do the job.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Meet Me at Tel Shiloh, Rosh Chodesh Tevet Women's Prayers

It's already day two of Chanukah. That means we must make plans for Rosh Chodesh.

The first day of Tevet will be this coming Sunday! Gd willing we'll have an inspiring Tfilat Nashim, Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayer session at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, the location of Chana's Prayer for a son to lead the Jewish People out of the anarchy of the Judges, Shoftim.

Gd willing we will have our Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, site of the Mishkan, Holy Tabernacle on the 1st of Tevet 5779, 9-12-2018, 8:30am.

כולן מוזמנות, תפילת נשים, ראש חודש טבת, א' טבת, יום א' ,9/12/2019 , 8:30, בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה

We sing Hallel out loud, but 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. If you'd like more information, please contact me with "Rosh Chodesh Prayers" as subject.

Shiloh Hakeduma is a recognized Biblical archaeological site and is open for tours and activities daily, except for Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays when traveling is forbidden. For more information contact, 02-5789111.

Chanukah is the Jewish Holiday which celebrates turning darkness into light.