Saturday, April 30, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - London In The Spring

We went, we saw, we celebrated Passover, we came home. And we had many reasons to be cheerful.

DD is old enough to appreciate a day out in London.

She had her first ever ride on a boat.

My sister took DD to Kidszania. I wasn't with them but it sounds amazing. And we've saved a fortune in careers counseling as she now knows, having gained a civil engineering degree from Kidszania University for a bridge made out of drinking straws, that she wants to be a parcel delivery person. Another day she tried out being a bus driver at the London Transport Museum and a witch in Covent Garden. But postwoman was the best.

We saw pigeons and ducks in the park but the squirrels were too fast to capture on film. DD: "I'll keep a spot on my eye for one because I'm a good looker." :~)

Linking up with R2BC over at Lakes Single Mum.

@RubbishPhotography by Midlife Singlemum.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits #40 - The Birds And The Bees

Last night in bed we took a mighty leap forward in DD's understanding of where she came from and how she was made.

DD: Without girls you can't have boys.
Me: Right.
DD: And without boys you can't have girls.
Me: Right.
DD: Wait, why can't you have girls without boys?
Me: Because you need a boy and a girl to make a baby.
DD: But you didn't have a husband. You made me in the hospital.
Me: I got the boy's seed from the hospital. Some men give their seed to the hospital for woman who don't have husbands.
DD (with a big soppy smile): I'm glad you did it that way. (She means, I'm glad I've got you all to myself and I don't have to share you with anyone.)


The pigeons have laid two eggs on my windowsill.
DD: Ugh! Can't you just push them over the edge or something?

As it happens, the eggs have gone. I woke up the day after posting about the pigeons and there they were - gone!. I think I scared the birds away when I opened the window to take that final photo (the one above that after taking it I promised not to disturb them again). *sigh* *guilt* *100 sorries*. But I have no idea where the eggs went. I can't imagine that the birds could move them successfully from a third storey ledge. *mores sighs* *more guilt* *Wonders if DD has supernatural powers*.

Someone wrote in the comments that baby chicks are blogging gold so I'd be adequately compensated for the inconvenience of a nest on my windowsill. LOL, But actually I was quite into the idea by that time. Oh well, you know what they say - don't count your eggs....

As with all things fertility, it's not in our hands.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Summer Handbag Time!

Thank goodness we don't wear white shoes through the summer anymore (but never after Labor Day apparently). However, you do need a summer and a winter handbag. Of course you also need a small bag for the evening and a bigger holdall type thing for travelling and days out, but for every day one summer bag and one winter bag are all I need.

I once tried having a few everyday bags to go with different outfits but it got too complicated and time consuming to change and check bags all the time. There is that handy trick of an inner mesh bag that you simply move from bag to bag. But actually, I don't want a load of different bags. I'm an anti-clutter simple-life sympathiser remember.

My winter bag is an old favourite. I bought it somewhere in downtown Jerusalem many years ago for less than a tenner and it's still good. For winter. It's a little dark and heavy looking for the summer.

Winter buddy
The other day I was looking for some bag solutions. Namely, something to put in your hand luggage that contains only what you need for the plane so that if they want to put your hand luggage in the hold you can just take out the little bag with your passports, purse, phone, book, sandwich, apple, and colouring things for the plane. We like them to take our hand luggage so we don't have to schlep them about the airport. As we're only taking hand luggage this time they are the biggest allowed - don't worry I've measured.

Anyhoo back to the story. I saw a pretty bag for the summer. Last's year's summer bag, from Primark, fell apart so I was in the market for a new one. I thought this one, though smaller than I'm used to, would be good to go inside my school bag when I'm at school all day. I'm a little fed up with lugging two big bags with me everywhere, And I liked it so much I bought one for my sister too - as a thank you for making Pesach for all of us. I just want to emphasize here that I paid full price for the one I'm giving to my sister and it was my bag that cost half price on the 50% off 2nd purchase deal.

Secure zip on top
I have few requirements for my everyday bag. It must be comfortable on my shoulder, it must have room for all my stuff, it must look nice, it must close securely and preferably with a zip, and a small zipped pocket is always useful. C'est tout.

Essential stuff

It all fits!

Here are the things that had to fit inside. It was touch and go. In the end I ditched the pink mesh bag. It's snug but it works.

Ready to go.

Claimer: No one gave me this bag to plug. I bought it myself.

Summer buddy 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Homegrown Chips

This year's yield washed and ready to sort.

You won't remember but almost three years ago I planted some sprouting potatoes on my balcony and harvested enough tiny spuds to make a potato salad all of four bites big. In that post I had designs on using an IKEA storage box to plant a bigger crop next time.

This is a small two-egg frying pan.

I planted a bigger crop in the IKEA box last year but it was not a good plan. For a start I didn't make holes in the bottom of the box for drainage. The whole thing ended up smelly although, as with last time, the potato plants were nice and green.

With the spring the IKEA box dried out stopped being smelly. I was waiting till after our holiday to chuck everything out and start again. However, DD decided to go digging to see if there were any actual potatoes.

Frying tonight!

There were! Fewer and even smaller than last time. We disgarded the ones with the thick skins as the insides didn't look too healthy. We also disgarded one that looked a bit too green for my liking. The rest I made into chips which DD had for supper (along with other things of course).
The tomato and banana are to show the scale.

Served with ketchup on the side about two hours ago. And she's still alive. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

How Do You Like Your Pigeon Eggs?

The window ledge outside my bedroom is in a niche in the building and protected somewhat from rain and wind in the winter and hot sun in the summer. So it's very popular with the pigeons.

Fried or boiled?
This year we had a mild winter and maybe they didn't hibernate or whatever pigeons do in the winter but my ledge has become a favourite roosting spot. It's actually quite annoying as they coo in the early morning and fight over the space late at night. And you can imagine how many bird droppings have been left.

Usually I clean it all up every couple of months but this year I've left it, promising to clean the ledge and never getting round to it. It got so dirty that I decided to buy some of those spikes so that the birds couldn't sit there.

One day I saw that two birds were having a bit of hanky panky on the ledge and had even brought in a pile of twigs as the basis for their starter home. NO WAY JOSE! I banged on the window and they flew off in fright. I disposed of the twigs and vowed to go to Home Centre for spikes that afternoon.

I just want to say here why it is so important not to have birds on the window ledge. 1. I watched Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' when I was a child and I've never quite trusted them since. 2. Once two birds managed to open the mosquito net and flew in. I ran out of the apartment screaming and my neighbour from upstairs had to come and save my life by shooing them out again. 3. I don't have air conditioning so I need to be able to open the window in the summer.

Reader I left it one day too late. Arriving home with my spikes and seeing one of the birds sitting on the ledge, I did my usual response and banged on the window. Off flew the pigeon and, to my horror, I saw that it had been sitting on an egg.

What was I going to do now?

I remembered reading that the eggs we eat aren't fertilized so you're not killing a chick by eating eggs. I googled it. Not so with wild birds. The egg is very much fertilized (remember the hanky panky?) and will eventually hatch. Oooof.

Two eggs and the beginnings of a nest. Expecting babies trumps squating. 
I tossed and turned all night. What to do? What to do? And then today, another egg had been laid. I gave up. Googling: 'How long till a pigeon egg hatches?' told me it's only 18 days. We'll be away for most of that anyway.

Then I thought again and googled: 'How long till baby birds leave the nest?' About 4 weeks after they hatch apparently. Hmmm end of May. May can be a very hot month here. Damn. Seves me right for procrastinating so long about cleaning the ledge.

And then you have act quickly because, if the birds have felt safe in that location they often lay another round of eggs in or near the original nest. I'll have to act fast to clean it all up and put in my spikes as soon as the chicks leave.

I also read that the second round of eggs can be laid before the first lot of chicks have left the nest. I'm ignoring that bit.

I'm also ignoring my bird lodgers until the end of May as every time I move the curtain they fly off scared and I feel bad about that when they are expecting. But I'm not going to feed the chicks either. I have my limits. *sigh*

Temporarily redundant spikes.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Befores and Afters

This week was a generally good week. We broke up from school and college for the Pesach (Passover) holidays. I caught up completely with my grading (except that a few more papers have now been uploaded so I'll tackle them later today). Yesterday I started on a long awaited project which I can't tell you about for a few weeks but I'm very excited to be doing it. And you will be informed in due course. Here are some highlights that I can tell you about.

I'm so fed up of hunting for the right plastic box for lunches and other food storage. I have a good system for the lids so that's not the problem. It's having to crawl into the cupboard every time I needed a box and it's trying to tidy boxes that don't stack and have them dissolve into chaos again within a day. They should be in a deep drawer but I don't have one available so.... I bought another plastic box as a home for all the little plastic boxes. A plastic box orphanage if you like, that I can just slide out and lift onto the counter for full access without crawling. Result.


Remember that sad baby lettuce plant we got from school in exchange for our compost? I didn't think it would survive but look at it now. Ok, the birds are eating the actual lettuce leaves but I'm still impressed with it. And it's kind of nice to have living birdfeed on our balcony.

My Klout score has jumped from 43.5 to 49.5 thanks to some concerted social media effort on my part. Namely, joining instagram and upping my blogging. This only resulted in 20 places gained on the TOTS100 ranking but I still have a few tricks up my sleave.

That's it for this week. I'm linking to R2BC at Lakes Single Mum.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Students Past And Present

This wall at my college used to be painted plain white. It's a walkway between two buildings. It was so nothing special, it was actually boring. Then one day we stepped out between the two buildings and saw this. I don't think there was one person who didn't exclaim in delight at the transformation. I'd quite like to do this on my balcony.

Many of the high achools here have a policy whereby all students are required to do a certain number of hours of volunteering throughout the year. It can be a weekly commitment where you're a youth club leader, visiting people who appreciate visits, or a regular helper to people who need help. It can be environmental work at the botanical gardens or at the zoo, at the dog pound or charity work. Or it can be finding short term or one off projects that together make up your hours.

Whilst working at the Yedidya Bazaar last Sunday, at about 1pm four teenage girls walked in. The lady in charge had gone home for a well deserved rest and even though there was another lady there who was much more involved in the whole thing than I was, I suddenly became the designated stand-in leader. Always happens to me, I call it a type-v personality. And it's definitely inheritted.

Me: We don't open until 4pm.
Girls: We're from Reut High School and we've come to work. We can stay till 10pm.

OMG, those girls were amazing. The night shift had pretty much unpacked and arranged everything by the time they left late on Saturday night but by the time we arrived on Sunday morning, people had dropped off loads more bags and boxes of donations. and it was still coming in. We were beginning to think that we'd just have to leave some of it till day 2. However, I showed the girls the mountain of stuff that had to be dealt with and they ploughed through it. By 3pm there was nothing left in bags.

Later someone told me that there had been eight girls from Pelech High School who had helped them sort the night before wih similar results.

When I left on Sunday at just before 4pm, before the doors opened, the tables were piled high with clothes. You can imagine what state the tables were in by the end of the evening after over 3,000 items had been sold. When I returned on Monday I saw that those girls had stayed after the doors closed to the public at 9pm and had refolded every table so that it was neat and appealing for Day 2.

They also had some fun matching whole outfits together on hangers and displaying them. It was amazing to see an ensemble of jeans, white t-shirt, bergundy cardigan and a blue and burgundy scarf artfully arranged and on sale for 8nis (about 1.50 GBP) for the whole outfit.

Many married students cover their hair similar to this. (example)
Whilst sitting and working at college yesterday a married student (the headscarf gave it away) came to speak to me. She explained that she is a second year student (which makes her about 22 or 23 years old, having done at least 2 years of national service after school) and she'd like to enroll in my summer course. Her "problem" is that she's expecting a baby at the beginning of September so she might not be able to finish the course by the due date.

I looked at this student and was confused. I teach first year students and third year students but I recognized this girl. "How do I know you?" I asked. "When I was a little girl you taught my best friend privately in her house and I used to be there a lot." I was amazed. I taught her friend in First Grade so that was about 17 years ago. And here she was, a married lady expecting her first child. (I assume it's her first, I didn't ask so it could be her second).

Not only do I remember this girl but I remember her mother and that I taught her older brother in school. The older brother, then about 9 years old, was a very "independent" boy (read between the lines). I asked after him and she told me that he's now studying Law at university. Just goes to show. And an encouraging message for anyone with an "independent" 9 year old.

I'm linking up to R2BC over at Lakes Single Mum.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Well and Truly Booked

Here is the final round up for the Yedidya Bazaar 2016. Personally I will say that we were well and truly booked.

In the end I added another bag to the six large bags I donated on Friday morning and was delighted with the feeling that seven large bags of children's clothing, books, toys, and table cloths had been removed from my house.

I was most pleased with the fact that we went through all of DDs clothes and shoes. We kept about 10 light dresses, mostly for this summer but a couple to grow into; about 10 assorted skirts for this summer, next winter and beyond; and about 20 T-shirts for this summer. We also have three swimsuits that still fit. I want to emphasize that every item is either a hand-me-down from my friends with older girls or a gift from Grandma or my sister.

I was well pleased, DD's wardrobe looks neat and tidy, and I made a mental note not to buy any new clothes when we go to London for Passover (footwear is another matter but no clothes). I will buy a pack of cheap tricot shorts in the local market and we're done.

A rack of children's coats. 
On Saturday night I got a phone-call from a friend, "We are just about to take a load of my girls' clothes to Yedidya. Would you like to look through them first to see if there's anything you can use?"
Me: "Thank you but we really don't need anything. I'll be working there tomorrow so if I see anything nice I'll be happy to pay the 2 shekels to buy it back. But I really appreciate you thinking of us."

On Sunday I worked at the bazaar, unpacking donations, sorting, hanging and folding clothes mostly. Another friend with older girls and a Grandma in America, brought a load of clothes her girls had grown out of. She kept holding up items and asking, "are you sure you don't want this for DD. It's really nice." Everything was really nice but we just don't need to have a shop's worth of clothes in our home for one little girl who anyway lives in shorts/trousers and t-shirts. I understand that it's hard for people to give away well loved clothes that their children have worn but I was determined not to ease their consciences by cluttering my own home.

By Sunday night we were 7 bags down but 2 bags came home from the bazaar.
I did "buy" one pair of winter boots that were labelled size 39 (my size) but the woman who donated them said she'd bought them without trying them on and they were way smaller than a 39. DD fell in love with them and has been wearing them around the house (she is an almost 34).

I also took four teaspoons made of heavy stainless steel. In Israel the cheap cutlery is so flimsy that the spoons bend when you try to scoop out ice-cream. Sturdy cutlery is very expensive. So I collect. I have a few pieces from my parents' downsizing efforts over the years and a few pieces from sales. Eventually I will donate all my cheap flimsy cutlery back to the Yedidya Bazaar - maybe next year even.

And I "bought" a small bag of china fairies. We are into fairies atm. There were seven fairies in the bag. After one play session and multiple drops on the tiled floor, there are two still in perfect condition. I wanted to chuck the other five but DD earnestly told me, "I'm not throwing them away just because they haven't got one hand, or a foot, or a wing. What? Do you throw people away just because they don't have one foot? It's not their fault and they're still a person." I couldn't argue with that so we're keeping all the bits of china. *sigh* I did manage to persuade her to chuck the one whose head fell off.

1st day booty. Sorry anyone who wanted fairy books. They'll be back next year.
But mostly we were booked. Someone (or someones) had donated a whole library of those Daisy Meadows fairy books and other princess, cupcake, etc... type books. I took a load of them but limited myself because I was there right at the start so it wasn't fair to hog too many.

The next day we went back to pay and I let DD choose more books. They were fair game by the second day. From the book section I got five books for me, a couple of dvds, and about 40 books for DD. I'm already bored out of my mind at bedtime story time. This child needs to improve her English reading asap!

Results: Almost 12,000 shekels was raised for charity whch means that almost 6,000 items were shifted from homes where they are not needed to homes where they are needed. We acquired 50 items for 100 shekels (about 20 pounds at today's exchange rate) and we are going to save a mint in London by not having to buy any books (or schlep them home).

Unbelievably, only two days after the bazaar, I already have a few items in my 'donations' shelf above DD's wardrobe towards next year's contribution. There were cupboards in the kitchen I didn't get to yet, I didn't declutter the sheets and bedding, and my clothes have not been weeded in about 15 years. Oh well, only 12 months to go until the Yedidya Bazaar!

I linked this post to Share the Joy at The Joy Chaser.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - A Give And Take Weekend

Six large bags of stuff off to the Yedidya Bazaar.
This morning, with the help of a friend and her car, I delivered six big bags to the Yedidya Bazaar which starts on Sunday. You can read about this amazing event here. I've explaind how it works a number of times since discovering it three years ago so I won't bore you with it again. If you want the full low-down click on the link.

I cannot believe we found six more big bags of stuff to donate having got rid of all this last year. There are actually another couple of small bags of stuff to pass on to friends. And we still have a few more places to declutter over the weekend so there might be even more to go. Seriously, where did it all come from? I think some of it is stuff I wasn't ready to part with last year but this year I'm a more seasoned declutterer.

This was just the first course. The kitchen was full of cookies and cakes.
I then went to another friend to do some catering. One year after her mother died, my friend, her immediate family and a few close friends visited the grave and then came back to the house for a light brunch. My job was to stay at the house, find all the food in the fridge, lay it out on platters and set the table. I love doing this. I wish it wasn't for a sad occasion but I was glad to be able to help by doing something I enjoy anyway.

Pretty flowers to feed Instagram. 
I collected DD from school and we saw some pretty flowers. Now I'm not the sort of person who usually stops to photograph the flowers but last week I felt compelled to join Instagram. My TOTS100 ranking was slipping by the month even though my blog stats were up. I read about the algorythms they use and a lot depends on your Klout score. I gave up on Klout a couple of years ago when I began to feel like the product rather than the client. However, if Klout is what it takes..... Anyway, my Klout score wasn't as strong as it used to be because they've moved the goalposts. As well as Facebook and Twitter, I now need to be active on Pinterest, Link'dIn, G+, FourSquare and Instagram. So I joined Instagram and despite not being a photographer nor having any interest in being one, I find myself taking photos to share. My Klout score jumped 2 whole points in a fortnight (that's huge). Next week I'm going to revisit my Link'dIn and Pinterest accounts and link them to Klout. It's a lot of work and I'm not sure how its really relevant to a successful blog but as I said, whatever it takes.

After a very hectic Purim last weekend I promised DD that we wouldn't arrange anything for this Shabbat. So we came home after shopping at 12.30pm and we have no obligations, no one to see, nothing to do, until Sunday morning. Well except for some more decluttering and I have to cook some food for us to eat of course.

On Sunday I'll be voluntering at the Yedidya Bazaar from 10 am till 4 pm when it opens. Others will be setting up through the night from 8 pm on Saturday but I can't do nights so I go to help the final setting-up shift on Sunday. (Jerusalem Peeps - the Bazaar is open from 4 pm till 9pm on Sunday and Monday.) This makes me happy because I used to be a person who volunteers but the opportunities to do so without getting a babysitter are very few. And of course organizing is my idea of heaven.

So that's it. A productive Friday, a selfish Shabbat, and a satisfying Sunday. I'm linking up with R2BC over at Lakes Single Mum.