Thursday, May 19, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - The Difference A Day Makes

Its pool season! We need to work on our style. 
Last Saturday night I was living in the oven with a broken fridge and no shower. Well not literally living in the oven but it felt like that. We had a sharav heatwave with temperatures reaching 100 degrees F. on both Sunday and Monday. There were wildfires around the country, hundreds of people were treated for heat related sickness, and schools cancelled all outdoor activities. My fridge broke down, possibly in solidarity with the sharav, and the shower hose burst while I was in the shower with shampoo in my hair. Why universe? What did I do?

However, within a day it was all sorted with the help of lovely neighbours, a great mechanic, and facebook. So here are my reasons to be cheerful:

Wonderful friends and neighbours. Within an hour of posting about my fridge on fb one neighbour replied offering space in her fridge and freezer for our wilting food. Another friend phoned to offer the use of a small fridge which they could bring round. And another friend happened to have posted on facebook a recommendation for a great fridge mechanic in Jerusalem.

The irony is that the fridge mechanic, who is indeed a great fridge mechanic, told me he would never go on fb because he has no need for the whole world and his brother to know every time he sneezes and what he had for breakfast. I've given up trying to explain.

I went down to my neighbour below and asked if they had room for my new tub of ice-cream (too much to finish in one evening even for my DD) and a multi-pack of Actimel. Everything else was frozen vegetables that had already defrosted and fruit and veg in the fridge that could take its chances. They asked me what flavour the ice-cream was and as vanilla didn't seem to be a problem I took it down.

While I was at the neighbours downstairs (see reason 2 above) I mentioned the shower. They just happened to have a spare shower chord which they gave me. So the shower was fixed by me in a jiffy.

Just to explain. When you don't have a car, the 10 minute walk down the mountain to buy a new shower hose is not an enormous problem. However, the 15 minute walk back up in 100 degrees heat is not pleasant. And you have to either find that half hour on a work day, or drag your 7yo on the hike after her long day at school, or spend about 10 quid on taxis to buy a hose that costs about 5 quid. This explanation is just in case you don't get how grateful I am to my downstairs neighbours.

The great fridge mechanic agreed to come the next day - Sunday. He fixed my 24 year old fridge with a thorough manual defrost, including removing all the internal freezer panels to expose a blocked and rather filthy freezer element. How half a frozen Mars Bar even got through the freezer floor is a mystery to me. I should have looked for a due date on the wrapper - there's no telling how many years it's been there.

Instead of paying about 2,500nis (about 500GBP) for a new fridge. I spent 320nis on getting it fixed and probably chucked out about 100nis of defrosted frozen vegetables. I also ordered an 80nis pizza for supper on Sunday night because making supper was one thing too much to deal with. So all in all 500nis plus 30nis for the shower hose (about 100GBP).

Pool season has begun! We went for testing for group swimming lessons on Sunday but the tester didn't turn up, even though I'd spoken to him on the phone earlier that day. We didn't mind - an hour in the pool was just the ticket during the sharav and you don't pay when you come for testing.

So we returned to the pool on Wednesday and were tested while we got another free hour in the pool. Swimming lessons will start next week. Hooray!

I'm linking up with R2BC with Mich on Mummy from the Heart.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - 68 Today!

The State of Israel is 68 years old. A fantastic achievment considering we have been at war and and under attack, both physically and verbally, for most of those 68 years. However, Israel has much to be proud of. The short videos below show some of the inventions and innovations that Israel has given to the world.

Obviously we get a day off. The national pastime on Independence Day - Yom Ha'atzmaut has become barbecue picnics. Since we have gone vegetarian we had pizza and ice-cream instead.

There was an article in the Times Of  Israel celebrating 68 extraordinary women in Israel today. The thing about living in a small country is that I know three of them personally, another two by sight, five of them are among my facebook friends and I've heard of at least 10 of them. That never happened when I lived in London.

And this one makes me cry with pride.

Happy Birthday Israel! xxxx

I'm joining the R2BC linky at Mummy from the Heart.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Happily Plodding Through Life

Still a bit deflated by the emotions of Holocaust Day yesterday, I couldn't think of any great reasons to be cheerful. Then I started to think about the little things in life that grow and evolve. Sometimes it's hard not to see life as one long continuous slog but if you focus on the small changes that make big differences in the long run, you can see that it's actually a work in progress. Slow but reassuringly sure. 

Beautiful sunsets

Keeping up with DD's homework (although not mine atm). She seems to be getting more as the school year enters it's penultimate month. One difficult factor is workbooks that have arrived home with instructions to finish the book. I understand that they ran out of time but then stop giving regular homework as well. Anyway, with much nagging, shouting, and bribing, We are slowly getting it done even as bedtime is necessarily getting later and later.  

Discovering that cornflakes taste just as good with oatmilk. I am trying to cut way down on consuming animal products. DD has already declared that she won't eat meat, chicken or fish and though I was ok with fish, it makes life a lot easier for me as I don't have to prepare these things. She's now decided that she's off cheese except for cottage and babybel goudas, we don't use milk except for in cereal, and she only eats mashed hard boiled eggs and eggy-bread. So now I can cut out cows milk from our shopping list and from our lives. (Btw - I still buy regular cakes and biscuits for DD as well as cottage cheese, babybels and eggs).  

It's Friday.

Tomorrow we are going to the Bat Mitzva of my friend's daughter, M. M, along with her twin brother, changed my life. When the twins were born I saw that being a single mother was ok. There was not a great hole in their lives because they didn't have a father. My friend and her babies were, and still are, a family. I was able to see past any lingering douts I had about doing IVF alone and I made my first appointment with the hospital. The rest, as they say, is history. I thank God everyday but I also remember that my friend and her twins had a big influence on my decision 

I particularly wanted to take part in R2BC this week as Mich at Mummy from the Heart is hosting the linky again this month. Mich started this series five years ago and it's probably the longest running meme in the blogosphere. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lagom Is Just Enough

Nah, this isn't it. Some people don't get it. Or they're just not ready for lagom.
OK, Ive found it! It's May 3rd and Ive finally decided on my word for 2016. You'll remember that I wasn't going to have a word because for the past two years my word was "discipline" and I never managed it. Totally forgetting about the previous two years, I chose "discipline" as my word for 2016. Then, out of interest, I went back to check up on last year and saw that I'm obviously barking up the completely wrong tree.

My word for 2016, and possibly for life, is "lagom". I first heard this word from Gemma and Kate who are both lucky enough to be IKEA ambassadors for the Lagom Project and get to choose items to lagom their homes. Quite clever of IKEA if you think about it. We'll give you a modest amount of money to spend in our stores for quite a lot of publicity. It had to be a modest amount because lagom means just enough.

Anyway, I am not an IKEA anything but I have been thinking about this lagom concept for a while. And I like it. It takes the pressure off. It's a much more pleasant way to live. Less is more rather than more is better.

I read today that Finnish school children score near the top of the world ranking for school education. There are a few sensationalist reports about how they do it which contradict everything we in the developed world believe. They have the shortest school days, start school at age 7, no homework until secondary school and then very little, and only nine years of compulsary education. This blog post explains the Finnish school system.

However, the national philosophy of lagom (although it is a Swedish word) explains why they do so well in the international PISA tests. You can read the real reason why here.

I don't know why I didn't think of it before as much of the way I live and what I'm interested in is lagom oriented. I watch You Tube videos about tiny houses (although I would need a separate bedroom rather than a loft above the kitchen accessed by a ladder; and a fully plumbed bathroom preferably off the bedroom rather than off the kitchen). I read about minimalism and decluttering is my favourite sport.

Granted, much of this is a result of enforced frugality over the past few years but it's also a choice to work fewer hours and earn less in order to be able to stop and smell the roses.

My idea of hell would be to own several homes around the world. It's hard enough keeping one home running efficiently. If I had that much money I'd rather stay in hotels or rent chalets, cottages, or villas when needed.

I once had a friend who lived in a large house with an eat-in kitchen that had a breakfast bar as well as a dining table. Across the hall was a formal dining room and the den also had a table and chairs in the corner. One year they built on a big conservatory with seating at one end and a dining area at the other. "How do you decide where to eat each day?" I asked her this as we packed a picnic to take down to the summer house where we ate on a little table by the water feature. The excess of space bemused me even before I knew what effort it takes to keep a place clean, heated, and in good repair.

The annual scramble for swimming lessons started today on facebook, Actually I started it as I usually arrange a date for testing for the swimming groups and announce it on facebook. A number of families have opted for year round private lessons this year as the groups go quite slowly. In my lagom way, and as we are not big beach lovers, I'm happy with small improvements each year and for the meantime we'll stick with the group lessons in the summer courses.

My short term wish list is proper shower doors, a headboard for my bed, and new cushions for my sofa. I don't need or want a new bed or a new sofa.

I don't yearn to travel down the Amazon, across Canada, or up Mount Kilimaneverest. I'd like ten days on Lake Como (or Lucerne, Geneva, Logano, Garda, I'm not picky). I'd as soon sit on the beach in Eilat (just four hours drive away) as in Phuket. Why go to New Zealand when they have the same sort of spectacular scenery in Scandinavia? If I had the time and money to spend on three weeks of travel I'd like to tour Ireland or Scotland. If you offered me the time and money to do both I'd probably ask for a rain check on one of them. Who wants to be away from home for more than three weeks?

Now if only I could apply lagom to my eating habits life would be perfect.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Earth Mother Bakes Bread

These have sliced olives in the dough.
I've suddenly got into making bread. It takes about 5 minutes or less to make the dough and another 5 minutes to shape it before 30 minutes in a hot oven. You do need to allow for waiting time (about 3 hours for the first rising and another 20 minutes after its shaped). So if you have 10 minutes to spare over a 4 hour period it's so worth it.

DD only wants my homemade rolls now. She likes them with olives inside.

There are advantages to making your own bread:

1. It's cheaper. It costs less than 2GBP to buy the flour and instant dried yeast which yield about 24 rolls or three large loaves. I didn't factor in the teaspoon of salt per loaf and any other spices you want to add. I usually add some za'atar to the dough because we like our food savoury. And I didn't work out the cost of having the oven on for 50 minutes or the water used. Nor the cost of the washing up liquid. However, artisan bread in this country is about 3GBP per loaf so I still think it's cheaper.

2. You know exactly what's in your bread. No sugar or preservatives, food colouring or molasses for brown bread, or any other chemicals. Seriously take a look at the ingredients of a shop bought loaf - it's a list of about 15 items.

3. If you make rolls you eat less. Going back for another slice of bread and another seems less greedy than eating a third or fourth roll. Especially as there are only eight in a batch and I need to keep some for DD's lunchbox each day. I'm into making bread but I'm not going to do it every day!

4. It tastes better than shop bought unless you are buying designer bread from a small bakery.

5. You can also use this recipe for pizza bases.

Two rolls became one pizza blanca.


Mix 3 cups of flour, 1tspn of instant dried yeast, 1 tspn of salt and any other herbs or spices, in a mixing bowl.
Add 2 cups of warm water and mix with the handle of a spoon or fork until you have a cohesive dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm(ish) place for about 3 hours.
Divide into rolls or turn the whole batch onto a baking sheet for one loaf. You can use baking paper under the dough or lightly brush the tray with olive oil.
Wait 20 minutes for the dough to rise again while the oven heats up to about 180-200 degrees.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Wait at least five minutes before eating.

These came out the oven tonight. They have 1cup wholewheat flour/2cups white.