Sunday, May 28, 2017

"Book Bliss," Shiloh Book Club, Rereading Old Favorites and More

I read paper books, though others read ebooks
or listen to recordings.
Here in Shiloh we have a fantastic book club, started by a neighbor who, instead of just complaining about the lack of an English language book club, organized one herself.

That's the best way to deal with the "imperfect" life most of us lead. In all honesty, we do all have our complaints, and complaining doesn't get us very far. It generally makes us unbearable, and then people just don't want to be around us. 

Book Bliss began pretty small, when a friend took the initiative and made a few calls, ordered some books and invited us over. Since then, it has grown and even has participants who don't live in Shiloh. And of course we take turns hosting and leading the meetings. We also changed the timing, making it a potluck dinner, which is great fun and means that we start and finish at reasonable times.

We've read all sorts of books so far. Some were books I had heard of but never read. There have also been books I never heard of at all, and others I had read over half a century ago, like The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck, which I'm reading right now. The previous selection was To Kill a Mockingbird, which we pretty much all agreed was better than we had remembered. I hosted and ran the meeting for Fahrenheit 451, which I had heard about but never read until needed for the club.

In theory the meetings are supposed to be once a month, but they end up more like every six weeks or so. Not all of the participants are native English speakers, but all of us enjoy reading English, no matter what our linguistic backgrounds. And we're also all different ages, educational backgrounds and professions. That also makes the meetings a lot of fun and intellectually stimulating.

The truth is that there have been books many of us didn't enjoy reading, and we have no compunctions about saying why at meetings. That's the fun of doing this as adults and not students. Nobody takes offense, there are no grades and many of us have found ourselves quickly googling the book, since we hadn't managed to finish reading it before the meeting.

Life in Shiloh is getting better all the time, bli eyin haraa...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Celebrating My Birthday at Piccolino

It's no secret that Piccolino is my favorite dairy restaurant in Jerusalem.  I've blogged about eating there more than once. So it was a no-brainer for me to suggest dinner there when my husband mentioned that we'd be going to the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism last Monday. It's just a short walk from Piccolino to Sultan's Pool. And considering that it was my birthday, I figured that even while trying to lose weight, a Piccolino dessert was a celebratory necessity.

We started our meal with this lovely first course of lox on toast with tomatoes. It was perfect. The lox was light, neither salty nor oily. It's definitely the best lox I've ever had.

I decided to stick with fish and ordered Piccolino's excellent Seared Tuna Salad as my main course. I requested "no extra salt," and it too was perfect. And there was so much food, I had them pack the leftovers, which I cooked up the next day with cabbage. So I got an extra meal out of it.


My husband had their Soup of the Day which was a white root soup, which was very creamy and had fresh garlic, too. For his main course he had one of the pasta dishes. He enjoyed them both.

The quality of the food in Piccolino is extraordinary, and the prices are comparable to the chains and even less than some of the other popular dairy restaurants. My only problem in Piccolino is that I end up eating too much, especially foods that can add weight. Nu, you must be wondering about the "birthday treat."


They came in with a lit sparkler in a generous slice of Tiramisu and singing Happy Birthday! It was perfect, and we shared it.

I definitely recommend Piccolino, whether for an everyday meal or something much more special. They have rooms for events, too.

Piccolino's at 12 Yoel Moshe Solomon Street, in Music Square, Nachalat Shiva, Jerusalem. Reservations are recommended Call 02-6244186.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Amazed by Camera on the Samsung J7

I may be a bit slow about these things, because although I've had my new smartphone, the Samsung J7 for half  a year, only very recently have I discovered that its camera offers some amazing "modes." My actual camera may do some of those things, but I find it almost impossible to control/program, while the phone is very easy.




I must admit that I only began playing with it after trying to show a friend how to use her new phone camera. I feel pretty stupid admitting such a thing at this stage.  Now before shooting, I check how the scenes/subjects look in the various modes and sometimes shoot a variety.

Now I understand how/why many people don't bother buying cameras anymore, and the chances are that my little red Canon IXUS 145 won't be replaced.

Do you still use both or just a phone? Why? And which brand and model?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem #20, Gan Hasus, Horse Park, Like Russian Roulette

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




Yesterday when I rushed into the convenient, centrally located with long hours, public toilets in Gan Hasus, Horse Park, on King George Street across from Hillel Street and near Ben-Yehuda Street, I thought I had won the lottery. It was fresh-smelling, clean and looked ready for business, so I quickly rushed into the first stall, which is the handicapped one. My eyes had been caught by the obvious signs of recent cleaning. That small garbage with the pink bag seemed a harbinger of efficient upkeep.

Unfortunately I didn't look to the left before using the facilities. You should be able to notice that there's no paper coming out of the holder. Grrr... Yes, I had been conned by that pretty pink bag.


Afterwards I checked out the other stalls and discovered that not all were equally endowed. That's right. If only I had gone another meter or so, I would have been in a fully stocked loo.

Yes, I do keep tissues in my bag, just for these occasions, but sometimes they are on the bottom under food. And taking everything out on a public toilet's floor isn't very appetizing.

I was there at 7:30am, when there aren't too many WC options. I could have used the Jerusalem municipality's facilities at Safra Square, but my last few early morning visits were among the worst in my experience as "loo maivin." It was worth traveling a bit longer to a better kept public toilet, even though I didn't win the lottery.


Any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Weaving, "It's all in the journey..."

My weaving teacher pulled the whatever off of the loom for me and did some finishing on it.



So, now I have to figure out what to do with it.


I was getting pretty annoyed, or stressed from everyone asking me, so I began answering:
"It's all in the journey..."
Sounds flaky, but it's pretty accurate. In all honesty, I get more out of the creativity in the weaving, in figuring out where the colors should go and how to shape them, and then discovering techniques on my own. Besides that, it's very exciting to discover that there are art forms, art media that my particular talents can excel in after hearing how I'm "not talented in art" throughout my childhood. I feel like I'm making up for lost time, wasted decades and worse.

"Old age" is a "second chance" in a way. It's also a last chance, because we don't live forever. So I really enjoy and appreciate that now I can participate in the senior citizens activities on Sunday. And even more, I am so grateful that we get two hours of crafts. It's like a dream come true in many ways.


My new weaving project is very different. It is much smaller. It's round, and I'm using threads I donated from what's left after I had crocheted hats. And, of course, I'd prefer you not ask me what this is going to be, thanks.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump Didn't Paralyze Jerusalem

It was business as usual yesterday in Jerusalem. Even though lots of people kept insisting that it would be impossible to do anything at all in Jerusalem, they were wrong. Here and there a road was closed, and my husband had to wait over 15 minutes to cross the street, but  there was none of the paralysis people had been predicting.

I noticed nothing out of the ordinary in Machane Yehuda and the Center of Town. And the food was so irresistible. And I even used the  Women's WC there to see if I hadn't been "just lucky" when I used it previously for review. It was pretty clean, especially considering the traffic/use, but this time no soap. It still ranks in the middle plus as public toilets go.


We also had no problem walking to Sultan's Pool, under the Old City Walls for the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism.




I'm blogging more about the big event on my other blog. Hint! Hint!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Elisha Davidson and The Shamir, Third of The Trilogy, A Book Review

This was first posted on Israel Blogger.

Elisha Davidson and the Shamir,
Menorah Books
Elisha Davidson and The Shamir by M. R. (Rhonda) Attar is the final book in the futuristic trilogy that could happen in the not so distant future. I reviewed the first two, ELISHA DAVIDSON and the Letters of Fire and ELISHA DAVIDSON and the Ispaklaria.

Attar's trilogy along with Catriel Sugarman's The Falconi Effect: A Modern Novel about the Days of the Messiah herald a new and exciting genre in Jewish literature. Considering that both authors relied very heavily on Jewish sources for their fantasies, it's clear that Jewish literature can compete with Harry Potter.

Parents who prefer that their children's imaginations be enriched and fertilized by Jewish concepts are in luck. Elisha Davidson, his family, school and friends are perfectly kosher. And even more, Elisha's challenges and adventures can inspire children to read more Bible and commentaries. There's a glossary in the back of the book for those unfamiliar with the basic terms used. So one doesn't have extensive knowledge about Judaism to understand the book. And those who do have a much more advanced understanding of the concepts, they can be challenged to find the sources that Attar used in her writing.

There's lots of suspense in this third volume. Elisha and his "merry band" must complete a very dangerous and crucial task within a limited period of time. If they fail, it would be disastrous.
The final ‘Nine Day’ count-down is ON and the most cataclysmic day on earth is nearly here. Elisha finally knows what he has to do. He must enter the dark time of an ancient and lost world and try to receive one of its most powerful gifts. A gift that will attract armies of light and dark forces who will be watching his every step and are determined to stop him. The greatest masterminds of his generation will be brought together, willingly and unwillingly, to join forces with Elisha in his quest, shattering their veils of secrecy and revealing that what appears to the natural eye is not always the reality.
Don't think of Elisha Davidson and The Shamir as a children's book, because it isn't. I found the story totally mesmerizing. Yes, I enjoyed reading it!

Considering that we do live in miraculous times, remember that this week we are celebrating fifty years since the Six Days War, it's not that hard to imagine Redemption getting closer. And we really don't know how the changes will begin. A hundred years ago, nobody in their right mind would admit to predicting a strong, modern, advanced Jewish State, like we now have, in 2017, 5777.

Elisha Davidson and The Shamir is a perfect gift for all ages, including for yourself. So, be sure to get some copies. Enjy!

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Menorah Books (April 3, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1940516722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1940516721
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

What Happened to The Yummy Natural Goats Yogurt?

For the past few years I had been getting myself a wonderful plain goat yogurt in our local supermarket, but lately it's not stocked there. A couple of weeks ago I picked up a small goat yogurt in Jerusalem, but it was awful. It reminded me of the one I had in America. Instead of the pure white, it was pale yellow. And it had the consistency of a pudding, rather than a yogurt.

When shopping last week, I saw a different brand and decided to check ingredients before buying. Look what I discovered:


This brand has added starch, tapioca, to make it creamy. Yuck! That's the E1442:
E1442: Hydroxypropyl di-starch phosphateOrigin: Prepared by treating starch with propyleneoxide and phosphoric acid. The resulting starch is more stable against acid, alkaline and starch degrading enzymes. It also provides better colour and shine to products and has very good freeze-thaw properties.
Function & characteristics: Thickening agent
Products: Many food products
Acceptable Daily Intake: None determined
Side effects: It may slow down the degradation of food in the intestine
Dietary restrictions: None, modified starches can be used by all religious groups, vegans and vegetarians. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

So, Instead of Buying a Can of Crushed Tomatoes...

All I wanted was some simple, NO ADDITIVES Tomato Paste for the beef I had planned on making. I couldn't find any, so I checked out the plain Crushed Tomatoes:

Even though the label said "No Preservatives," I saw all sorts of non-tomato items in the ingredients. I finally gave up. Guess what I did.

I bought about the same weight tomatos as the can had, for about the same money, and I "crushed" them in the food processor.  

OK, I must admit that it did give me the chore of  cleaning the food processor, but at least I know what I'm going to be serving tonight. There is just onion, fresh garlic, peppercorns, some dehydrated parsley, please forgive me for not using fresh, and a bit of oil along with the beef.



It smelled good when cooking. And this time, to reduce calories, no wine. And I don't put in jam or any other sweetener. The tomatoes and onions are sweet enough. And it's all so simple to make.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sprouts, Do You?

Do you eat sprouts, lentils, beans, seeds etc?
Do you sprout them at home or buy them sprouted?
Do you eat them fresh or cooked?
What's your favorite type of sprout?


I have neighbors whose children are athletic champions, and the family is more than vegan, they're raw food eaters. One of their dietary proteins is sprouts.

I've been getting a periodic supply from the newest member of our family who's vegan and sprouts lentils pretty regularly. But I haven't yet taken the plunge and tried doing it myself.

From what I understand you don't need expensive equipment, but even though I've heard the instructions, I keep chickening out. Oops, maybe a punny word.

Maybe I'd get some of the weight off if I have sprouts as my vegetarian protein more often instead of the sesame paste, but the fat in the sesame paste makes the meal more satisfying. And if I add a good olive oil I'd be increasing the calories...

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Finally Finished, Sort of...

As many of you must know by now, Sundays are holy for me. I make no plans. It's the day I do my arts & crafts at the senior citizens club. I've always loved arts & crafts, all my life, for as long as I can remember. When my kids were little, I didn't buy them toys, but they always had papers, crayons, scissors, paste etc. Those were the best toys. And yes, the crafts can't be done on Shabbat. They did have blocks and permitted stuff like that, which are still in the house.

Most weeks we do mosaics, but sometimes we weave. Now, my weaving experience had been limited to those potholders we wove on a simple metal frame when I was little. And, yes, we got those for my children, too. And I even bought them for my grandchildren, but by then the frames were made of plastic.

One of my neighbors teaches the weaving. All of the "staff" are neighbors who volunteer their precious and professional time. We just pay a nominal fee to help cover costs of materials. There was a choice of large and small wooden looms or a round metal one. No surprise, but I chose the large one. And no surprise that I found weaving row after row horrendously boring, so I jumped from "first time beginner" to "intermediate" within minutes, not that I knew what I was doing.


As you can see, I started playing with the colors, not following a pattern or rules and figured out how to get two colors on the row. I also found it much easier to set the loom up as an easel and sit across from it. It's much more comfortable, at least for that size loom, and I can't understand how others bend over the table and survive.




I'd take it home to work on when I had time, though it was much more fun to do it with everyone else. And it did take a long time.


And now it is finally finished. I did the last few rows at home. But now I don't know which way it should go and what to do with it. It still need "finishing touches," which are beyond my capabilities and knowledge right now. The neighbor will do the "finishing" for me.



While weaving it I'd be asked what it was for, and I'd answer:
"Occupational Therapy."
That is true, but still I'd like to find a use for it. I've been giving the mosaics away as gifts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem #19, Center 1 Has Gone Downhill

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

Early on in this series, #3 to be precise, I reviewed the public toilet in the new section of Center 1, and at that time I could easily recommend it. Now I can't. The small one on the Yirmiyahu end is too small and almost always crowded. Last week a couple of friends tried going there. One just left, because she didn't want to wait on line, and the other went to the men's room. I had been counting on using the large one at the other end, near the Cafe Cafe. So, that's where we went, and if we hadn't been desperate, we would have tried some other one, not that I know where one can be found nearby.

And even worse, we were scheduled to be there a couple of hours for a party.




During the few hours we were there, the toilet wasn't cleaned even once. It just got dirtier and dirtier. It seems like the building's management is taking lessons from the people who decided to save money in the Jerusalem Municipality by cutting down on cleaning. It reminds me of the public toilets at Safra Square, except for the toilet paper, which the municipality rarely provides.

After years of struggling, Center 1 is finally full of customers and busy stores and restaurants. We customers deserve clean facilities. The present situation in the loo isn't healthy.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lag B'Omer, Batten Down The Hatches

Call us a bunch of killjoys, but we weren't part of the Lag B'Omer medurot, campfire scene last night here in Shiloh. And there was even a conveniently located one near the house special for old fogies like ourselves.

As early as right after Shabbat, I had closed all of the windows, including the bathroom ones which usually are kept at least slightly open except on the very coldest of days. I didn't want any of those polluted and even not polluted fumes and smells to make it into my house. One of the last things I caught on the radio news was a report of increased air pollution and a plea to those throwing everything they could find into the flames to be sure to keep out plastic.

I trained my kids from the youngest age that the minute they get home from the campfires, it's straight to the bathroom, strip off all clothes and then shower, including shampoo, lots of soap and rinse well. Then the next day, after the smoke cleared I'd launder everything and hang it to dry.




One advantage of the fact that our neighborhood is getting more and more built up, and our house is surrounded by others, is that the campfires are further away, Baruch Hashem.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Which Camera is Takes Better Photos?

This morning I took pretty much the same pictures with my phone and with my camera. And they were taken seconds apart, so there wasn't any change in the lighting or sun or angle. I stood in the same place and first used my Canon IXUS 145, which is a small, lightweight low-end Canon I've had for a few years. And then I used my Samsung J7, which is the best of the "bargain" Samsung's J version. At least it was about half a year ago, when we bought "his and hers." Yes, my husband also has one.

None of the photos were edited in any way, not even cropped. Here are the photos:

a-


b-



Vote which pair you like better and why in the comments. Thanks.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Dieting Blues...

Some of you may remember that a number of years ago I very successfully and pretty easily lost about 15 kilo, yes a good 30 pounds, and they stayed off until recently, when they began creeping back. I've been fighting them best I can, but I must admit that I'm getting really tired of it. I'm getting tired of my food restrictions and frustrated that none of my "tricks" are working.

Just when it seems like I'm making progress, the scale suddenly tells me differently.

And it has gotten harder for some reason ever since I returned to teaching. So I've started telling people that teaching makes me gain weight. I know it sounds stupid, but as a teacher I feel less in charge of my eating schedule. The truth is that the weight began creeping back a year ago or more, but a kilo (a kilo equals 2.2 pounds) or two don't show all that much. Three or four show a lot more, and when you get closer to 5....

Eating out an average of once a week doesn't help, even when ordering the most dietetic meal possible. Restaurants sneak, sugars, oils and salts into all sorts of unsuspecting dishes. When I lost those 15 kilo, I didn't eat out much if at all, because we didn't have money to treat ourselves to restaurant meals. And then the following year I was caring for my elderly father, and I almost never got out, besides the money problem.

I'm going to have to re-motivate, increase exercise and find a way to enjoy the food restrictions again. Gd willing...

Friday, May 12, 2017

Summer! Cold Brew Coffee, Homemade

Last summer I discovered a new coffee taste and brewing method, Cold Brew. It's so easy, as long as you remember to prepare in advance, and the flavor is super fantastic.







  • Just add water to the coffee in your French Press, or jar if you have a filter you can use. 
  • Give it a stir.
  • Then cover and put in fridge overnight or for a few hours until it brews and chills.
  • Before drinking, give it a good stir.
  • Press the plunger or filter it.
  • Enjoy!