Saturday, May 26, 2018

Minimalism Phase 2 - Furniture

One of the best pieces of advice I read or saw on a minimalist vlog, was not to worry about the furniture until you've minimalized your stuff. Before you're almost done decluttering, it's impossible to know what you will or won't need. I actually wrote a blog post a few years ago about how I saved hundreds of shekels on new furniture by tidying up. Minimalizing is the same - you think you need a storage solution to get all that junk off the floor and neatly behind doors, when in fact you're about to get rid of most of the junk.

I got rid of most of the junk. Last count I was on 910 clutters for The 1000 Clutter Challenge. I can't seem to stop myself - I found 16 more items to go. 2 shoe boxes, 2 photo albums, 4 toilet bags, 4 plastic shelves from my old fridge that I thought I might use for planters but I won't, 1 orphan sock, 1 coffee mug (the last of 8 bought in LA, USA in 1986) that was on DD's desk as a pen holder but she told me she didn't like it and could she have a flowery one like mine? "Of course my darling, let's add this one to the donate pile." That's 14.

15 and 16 are two big items of furniture. I've been stalling on these because they are both parts of sets. It's so difficult to break up sets. It feels like a wicked bureaucrat splitting up siblings for adoption. And then you just do it and get over it surprisingly quickly.

The display cabinet goes with the sideboard and a smaller display cabinet. I don't need all three pieces and the one without the usable surface for framed photos or candlesticks, has to go. A dark bit of wall has suddenly become white again and the room seems to have grown wider.

The chest of drawers was part of the set of a five door wardrobe, and two matching chests of drawers. I bought two because my feng shui savvy friend old me that if I wanted to bring another person into my life I had to have space for his things in the bedroom. Well he turned out to be a she and DD keeps her things mostly in her own bedroom. Seriously though, if I ever do want to live with a partner, we'll buy new bedroom furniture. Not enough storage in my bedroom will not be the deal breaker.

The five door wardrobe and one chest of drawers fit snugly along one wall and by using all the drawers and shelves recently freed up, I can do away with the other chest of drawers. The room feels luxuriously spacious. I may even get a bigger bed to fill some of the space.

The 1000 clutters Challenge is now at 922. I'm not counting 4 of the items above because when I recently read back over all my decluttering blog posts, I found that four items had been counted twice. Somehow they'd made it back into circulation and come round again. That makes only 78 items left to find.

One last word about furniture. There are three or four other pieces of furniture that I'd like to change. I have an IKEA wish list. However, those pieces will eventually be replaced by more functional and/or prettier pieces. They will be sold or donated but they won't count as being decluttered as they will be replaced. Decluttering only counts if you end up with less. Decluttering should not be confused with remodelling.

Friday, May 25, 2018

R2BC - Summer Choices

Culture is cool peeps. 
This week's Reasons 2B Cheerful are back with Becky as Michelle is away. You can find the linky at Lakes Single Mum.

Hans Christian Anderson
We went to see the musical last night. One of my 5th Grade girls is in it so we've been looking forward to it for a long time. Being Jerusalem, I knew four of the cast and another four of the crew. We only knew three other families in the audience this time - it must have been a slow night.

We danced home afterwards, singing The King is in the Altogther and Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen. We picked up pizza from the new favourite pizza shop that just opened near us. DD went to bed at 11.30 and neither of us got up for Stupid Friday at school this morning. (Friday school finishes at 11.45. I should say here that I don't teach on Fridays.)

English Summer Camp
The summer holiday is long here in Israel - 9 weeks for 1st to 6th Grade and 10.5 weeks for High School. 1st to 3rd Grade get a free summer school for the first 3 weeks of  July so thus far we've only had to deal with 6 weeks at home.

There  are all sorts of camps and programmes for 1, 2, or 3 week periods. There are sports camps, art camps, cooking courses, sewing, science and computer camps, drama, music, and just plain all round fun. Some children are booked solid from July 1st till the end of August.

As we have August pretty much covered with visitors and short trips, I told DD she could choose one Summer Camp in July - I didn't mind how long it was. Some of the camps are very pricey and can cost hundreds, even thousands of shekels. But I only have one child so I was happy for her to pick whatever she wanted. She didn't pick anything. She wanted to do a self-defense course, which I am in favour of, but the courses for her age group are all in August overlapping with dates that we'll be away.

Then she came home from school and said that all her friends are going to the English Day Camp at school. I asked about it last year and I was told that it wasn't suitable for children who already know English. This year they changed their minds and decided that it is suitable for English speakers. It's 3 weeks, Sunday - Thursday, 8am till 1pm, total cost 600 shekels. Woohoo! Sorted. And as it's just down the road from  us at school, DD can go and come home by herself. She can even let herself in if I'm held up at my college where I'll be teaching a Summer Course.

Five Weeks Left
Only five weeks to go until the summer holidays start on July 1st. I'm counting the days. OK, I still have loads of work to do, reports to write, my summer course to prepare, and run it during July, ... But you know, always good to have something to look forward to. And I actually like the pressure of finishing everything off in a set amount of time. The Panic Monster and I are old friends.

Healthy Choices
With the undeniably summer weather that's upon us, DD and I agreed that instead of the weekly allowance of sweets and chocolate for her on Shabbat, we are buying a whole watermelon instead. To be eaten in place of snacks thoughout the week. The watermelon actually costs more than the sweets and chocolate but it also lasts longer so, "Yeah Us!"

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Minimalism Phase 2 - Loose Ends

Now that 881 items have been decluttered from my small apartment, and almost every piece of furniture has at least one empty shelf or drawer, it's time to begin Minimalism Phase 2. This involves moving stuff around in order to free up a whole piece of furniture or more.

However, before we begin, a loose end - that pesky renamed 1000 Clutter Challenge. 881 clutters is 119 too few. So today I found 29 more items to return, donate, gift, or chuck. I wrote last time that I struggled to find 30 and 31 things for the end of the Minimalism Game but a funny thing has happened. The clearer the apartment, the easier it is to get rid of more stuff. The less you have, it seems, the less you want. Anything superfluous suddenly sticks out like a sore thumb.

Here's what I found today....

To donate - 1 pair of new crocks (given to me and never worn), 2 flannel fitted sheets, 3 ornaments, 1 pile of Grace After Meals booklets, 1 rattan side table, 2 cake tins, 3 small games, 2 pairs of shoe shaper thingies.

To gift - 2 puzzles and a 1 big tub of Geo-shapes.

To return - 4 wooden puzzle toys that we no longer play with.

To chuck - 1 ten year old and obsolete printer, 1 bowl with a chip, 2 items of clothing with holes in them, 1 bag of sachets of creams and lotions collected over the years and way past their expiry dates, 1 old director's chair with a ripped seat, 1 bag of material I was going to use to recover the director's chair but I know I never will. (And if I did recover it I could probably sell it for £20 but the relief of not having it sitting there to do is worth more to me atm.)

So that's 910 clutters decluttered since last October. #1000 Clutters Challenge.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Reasons 2B Cheerful In A Turbulent Week

The school wheat field ready for harvesting.
Here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week. From entertainment to politics to war to harvesting to love. It's been a turbulent week. 

Last Saturday night Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest for the fourth time in the history of the event. The singer, Netta Barzilai, is an example of how you don't have to be stick thin to be successful. She's a lovely person - modest, kind, and unspoilt by all the glitz. I hated the song at first but all my pupils at school and my DD at home are playing it and singing it constantly. I admit it's growing on me. I can't argue with the song's message.

The US Embassy moved from Tel Aviv to the capital city of Jerusalem. It's positioned within the Green Line - the pre-1967 borders - so it doesn't touch or any way alter East Jerusalem which can still be the capital of Palestine in the future, if that's what is wanted. All the two state solutions are about Palestine being all the land allotted to it in the 1947 UN vote for partition (i.e. before Israel took it over in the 1967 Six Day War). So it's only a provocative move if you want the whole of Jerusalem to be Palestinian and not a shared city.

This week my friends who live near the border with Gaza, again within the Green Line of course, were safe because the IDF stopped thousands of terrorists crossing the border with the express purpose of murdering Israelis. And yes I am happy that 53 of the 60 who died were Hamas activists who will not be able to try again.

I'm also angry at the parents of an eight month old baby with a serious heart condition, who took their child to the front lines of a war zone where they knew there would be violence and tear gas - as  there has been on every Friday for the past few months. I am sorry that the other six casualties and the many others who were wounded, did not heed the IDF warning leaflets to stay away, that were dropped over Gaza at the beginning of the week. But most of all, I'm sorry that the Gazans have to live under Hamas because the Israeli Arabs that I know do not want to live like this. I suspect that most Gazans would also choose to live and prosper rather than wage war and suffer.

Partially harvested. Each class harvested a patch. 
The Wheat Harvest
This weekend it's the festival of Shavuot. We celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mt Sinai and also the wheat harvest. My school is very agricultural as it's a kibbutz school so we do actually have a small wheat field for educational purposes. This week we harvested the wheat. Each class did a small section. They threshed the seeds out of the chaff, they ground it to make coarse flour, and they cooked with it. We use the straw to .... something ... with the animals (I'm not an animal person so I don't go there), and also to build mud walls strengthened with straw. I learned loads.

Love and Gratitude
Today hundreds of Israelis filled their cars with food and other supplies for the holiday and drove down to the border areas with Gaza to feed our boys on the front line. It's not just the food of course, it's the outpouring of love and support after a difficult week. It's acknowledgement that they are in a shit situation and they do it to keep the rest of us safe.

So there you have it. A roller-coaster of a week. I'm joining Michelle's linky on Mummy from the Heart. 

I'm exhausted from all the facebook activity and trying to explain what's going on here after the BBC and other media channels unfairly reported that Israel massacred 60 peaceful and unarmed civilian demonstrators. There was nothing peaceful, they were mostly not civilians, and they were armed. I'm done with explaining so I won't be accepting any challenging comments on this post. Just so as you know, I'm up for discussion on facebook but my blog is my home. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Minimalist Game Days 30 & 31

This is the end of The Minimalist game. There are never more than 31 days in a month so we're done. The Minimalst Game total is 412 items removed from the house. And the renamed 1000 Clutters Challenge has reached 881. I will go on to find those remaining 119 clutters and I've decided that they will be cds and dvds which I'll find some way to store digitally.

Day 30
3 cables with obsolete connectors, 1 bag of old telephone wires, 1 door knob, 1 telephone wall socket, 2 telephone double sockets, 2 books that I like the idea of but I know I'll never read, 3 more kitchen utensils, 1 broken head-torch, 2 tubes of cleansing lotion, 1 pile of rubbish from the key dish, 3 toy d.i.y. tools, some 15 amp fuse wire from when I rented a flat with a 1950s fuse box, and 9 items of clothing from my wardrobe.

After taking the photo I decided to keep the telephone wall socket as I might be changing the position of the phone in the salon. Thus, day 31 actually has 32 items to compensate for the wall socket. 

Day 31
The Eagle of the Ninth - I read it in school, I read it again recently, and I blogged about it. It is extremely unlikely that I will ever want to read it again.

2 other pamphlets from exhibitions, 4 books of plays from the days when we had play readings, and 5 60p mini-books from Penguin Books' 60th birthday.

4 old and dried up thingies that you hang in your wardrobe to deter moths, 2 more items of clothing, and 14 hangers.

So am I now a minimalist? I don't feel like a minimalist. However, I do feel that I'm not hoarding a load of things I don't need. I've kept some ornaments and sentimental things. DD's room is not included as, though I try to keep the clutter at bay, she's not interested in getting rid of much. 

I have loads more space in my cupboards. In fact, almost every piece of furniture has an empty shelf or drawer - sometimes more than one. What's needed now is a thorough tidy with the aim of consolidating stuff to free up one whole piece of superfluous furniture. I already know which pieces I'd like to get rid of. And of course there is still that dream of a capsule wardrobe.... Maybe this summer.

Friday, May 11, 2018

A Brilliant Art Class For 1000 People - R2BC

One big Reason 2B Cheerful again this week, DD's art class participated in the Art Class Finale at the Israel Museum.

First some background. It had been one of those days. It was raining and chilly in the morning so I left the house in my winter boots and with an umbrella. By midday it was over 30 degrees under a heavy gray sky. I finish teaching at 12 but I stayed for an extra hour to organize the new English Library. At 1.15 I dragged myself away from a job half done to go to the Income Tax Office. I got off the tram a stop too early and had to treck a kilometre in the heat. When I got there I found that it closes at 1pm. I went into town to buy sandals. Then I made my way to the Israel Museum for DD's event.

Our class found a shady spot for instructions.
The Art Class is a group of 15 children from 4th to 6th Grade who love art. They meet once a week after school for an hour and a half and they have trips to the Israel Museum as well as painting and drawing lessons. They try to choose those with some talent as well but the main thing is supposed to be a passion for art. (DD has both, in my humble Mum opinion.)

The class met us at the Museum. As we walked up towards the sculpture garden, I kept seeing people I knew. It's popular here today, I thought. It wasn't until we got to the top that I realized the scale of the event. Who knew that Art Class is a school-wide initiative including about 45 schools from all over Jerusalem? I certainly didn't. There were 1000 people there! I suddenly heard, "Teacher Rachel! What are you doing here?" It was children from my school. Had I known, I would have stayed to finish the library and come with them straight from school.

We were so proud of ourselves.
I have to admit that among our little group of mothers. none of us were into it. We were hot, wearing winter clothes, after a long day, the end of a long week, etc... We were told that the event was outside (i.e. no chairs and no coffee). And it was due to go on until 7pm. We half joked about bunking off and taking the kids for ice-cream instead. We'd had some warning that it was going to be hands-on art with children and parents. I imagined a sort of stations thing where you go round and do a bit of craft work at various tables. Along with 1000 people. We were so not into it. Reader, we were wrong!

Each school was given a wooden grid, 20 wooden squares, a picture cut into 20 squares, and boxes of pastel oil crayons. Each child and parent pair took one of the squares and had to replicate their bit of the painting onto the wood. At that stage we had no idea what the finished painting looked like, only that they were all paintings from the Israel Museum Collection.

It was so exciting to see it coming together.
DD and I found a bit of wall to work on. We started off arguing of course - "You need to draw a grid on the wood and on the picture." "No you don't, you just draw it!" "Yes you do!" I drew the grids. "You're doing it too small, you need to look at the grids." "You're not helping me!" "OK, I'll help you but we need to just outline the nose and mouth so we know where they go." "No, you don't do that!" "Yes you do!" I drew the outline of the nose and mouth. "You're doing it wrong!" "Ok, I'm not helping you anymore. You do it by yourself." "You need to help me." "But you keep shouting at me!"

Coming together with Moriya
In the end we had only a short time left to finish and DD had only done a fraction of it. She'd spent a lot of time mixing colours as we didn't have the exact shades we needed. So I dived in to help. We worked fast and furious together. I covered vast areas in the base colours and she went over in various other colours to create the different hues. Then DD showed me how to blend the edges together with your finger and also smooth out the crayon lines. We were a team. She ran to her friends to borrow a brown, a white, a darker green.... I smoothed and smudged and filled in the gaps. I am no artist by any means but by the end I was so proud of our painting.

We took it to the main board where the teacher, Moriya, was starting to put it all together. It was magic! And amazing how it really did all fit together. Apart from being a bit wonky around the chin, but that actually added to the authenticity of the project - doncha think?

The more original than the original.
All the 45 finished paintings were brought together for a closing ceremony. We loved doing ours - Sonia Delaunay-Terk's Finnish Woman - but I suddenly wanted to do all of them. I wish I'd been able to photograph more of them to show you as they were all spectacular.

The original.

Our finished painting will be brought to the school and displayed. I'm hoping there will be an exhibition of all the paintings together, at the museum, or maybe a photo-booklet. We would certainly go and see it or buy the book. I'm already looking forward to next year.

On a clear day you can see forever
 Here are some of the others...

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

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Minimalist Game Days 27, 28 and 29.

I'm stretching the rules a bit as my days now have no connection to the days of any month. However, in my game I'm up to days 27 to 29. With these hauls (or reverse hauls) The Minimalist Game total is 351 and the 500 Clutters Challenge score is 820. (Now revised to the 1000 Clutters Challenge.)

Day 27
Day 27
I went back to the towels and sheets. One bath towel and three small hand towels going out. We only have two bathrooms so I've kept four hand towels - two in use and two to switch when they go in the wash. Any more small hand towels are superfluous (not including the separate set for the kitchen). I still have too many bath and beach towels but this is a process.

In the sheet department we have nine old pillow slips. If you remember, this is the second time I've gone through sheets and towels. Like I said, it's a process.

On the right is DD's winter coat that's too small and too heavy for one week in London per winter. I promised her that the next winter coat will be lighter and with room to wear with a sweater underneath when it's really cold. For the rest of the time in a Jerusalem winter you don't need a such heavy winter coat.

On top of the coat is a jacket with a broken zip. And on the right of the picture is an old bath robe of mine that I never use. In between we have 10 items from the beauty cabinet - old nail polishes, make up and some hair accessories. Next to them, a Jewish Spiderman skull cap that my nephews gave to DD when she was little. (Girls don't usually wear them but she wanted to as they were all wearing theirs. When I was little I had one that my Grandpa gave me for the same reason.)

Lastly, the bag. What is in the bag? I have two food processors. One I bought myself and have only ever used the knife blade to chop and mix. The other was given to me by a friend and I use the blender attachment on it. I've kept the bowl and the knife blade for the second processor as a back-up. In the bag are a whole range of graters, kneaders, juicers, and goodness know what. I don't even know how they work. This could have been about 20 items but I'm not looking for shortcuts here - it's one bag.

Day 28
Day 28
Two more towels. I got these out to take to the beach with us last week. And I didn't want to take them because I didn't like the colours. If you can't even take them to the beach for the kids to use, then they have no business in your house. Also in this pile are two old face cloths and a pillow slip that I missed yesterday.

Three old and too small sunhats of DD's. A pair of white tights that she wore once - possibly. A pile of nine items of clothing from my wardrobe that I will never wear again.

Finally a bag of 10 toiletry items - creams, lotions and potions. I was keeping them because they were in their gift boxes but the truth is that I don't use masks and scrubs. I tried an anti-aging callogen cream a couple of weeks a go and my skin broke out. This may or may not have had something to do with the expirey date being 2013.

Day 29
Day 29
Today I really struggled. I was wandering around the flat looking for things to get rid of. The stained t-shirt was easy, it's not my colour anyway. Two old bras about 35 years too small. Four belts - yes one of them still has the label on it. Four kitchen utensils - wash up more often instead of having three of everything. 10 teaching English books - can you believe I'm still weeding these out? Five dvds - slowly picking out the movies we don't love. A double cd of the complete Nomi Shemer (a famous Israeli singer). An old glasses case and a glass soap dish - who uses bars of soap these days?

Add that up and you'll find it comes to 29. But it wasn't easy.

I still have some pockets of clutter that I can go through for Day 30. In an ideal world I'd do that capsule wardrobe that I yearn for but I'm waiting to be an ideal shape before I can part with much more from the wardrobe. And I'd also like to get rid of about 100 cds and 50 dvds by upgrading to a digital streaming system - Netflix and Spotify or something similar, but I'm not ready to make that jump just yet. Perhaps over the summer.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Meghan Markle: Sabotage By Wardrobe

I don't know who is trying to sabotage Meghan Markle and set her up for failure but whoever, or whatever, they are doing a good job of manipulatively destroying her personality outfit by outfit. I saw Germaine Greer on the TV programme This Morning and immediately knew what she was talking about. I have been thinking the same for weeks.

You only have to Google Meghan Markle Images to see the difference between how she dressed before the engagement, when she presumably chose her own clothes, and how she is being dressed now.

Every outfit since the engagement has been dowdy. Heavy material in boring neutral colours. Too much material making her look like an old dowager rather than a young blushing bride. Most outfits are ankle length at the bottom and over the collar bone at the top. She is swamped in an effort, it seems, to erase any suggestion of a nice figure - or any figure. I am absolutely certain that Meghan would never have chosen these outfits for herself.

In contrast, Kate is dressed in light outfits showing off her youth and great figure. Bright colours, wonderful designs to just above the knees so we can see her shapely legs, and soft playful designs that many women of all ages would be happy to emulate.

I didn't just take Germaine Greer's word for it, I went to Google Images to see the full range. Look at Meghan Markle Images and then look at Meghan and Harry Images. Do you see it? It's as if Elizabeth Hurley morphed into the Queen Mother. I was more than shocked. This has to be a deliberate and manipulative ploy.

There is no reason why Meghan Markle shouldn't be a shining model of British fashion. She has the looks, the polish and the figure. Money is no object. Any designer would give their right arm to have the opportunity to dress Meghan to show off their clothes. She would do them proud, if only she were allowed. It's not like she's unaware of fashion - just look at the way she dressed before.

Someone is controlling Meghan Markle's wardrobe in a way that does her a major disservice. Someone is deliberately making her look the worst she can look without being blatant about it. They choose expensive couture so you can't say they're treating her like Cinderella in rags. No, they are waging a far more devastating and subtle campaign to crush Meghan Markle outfit by outfit.

I have no concrete motive. Maybe it's a test of her staying power. Maybe it's we the public who are being manipulated so that we shouldn't love her until we are permitted to do so. Or maybe they are really out to destroy her for her.... what? Her background? Her ethnicity? Her divorced status? Her Chutspah? Who knows. But something is going on here and I believe that the truth will out eventually.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Israel Independence Day - R2BC

70 Years!
It's been three weeks since I last wrote a Reasons 2B Cheerful post. Last week was canceled because or the tragedy that happened in Israel. Since then I meant to blog every day. I wrote lists of blog posts and assigned one to each day in my diary. And then I came home from work every day and didn't blog. I don't even know why. I just lost my mojo. Anyway, it's back and so am I. And this is why I'm only blogging about Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) three weeks after the date. I apologise to Becky at Lakes Single Mum for missing two Reasons 2B Cheerful  posts while she was hosting. (This week R2BC is back with Michelle at Mummy from the Heart for the merry merry month of May.)

On Yom Ha'atzmaut eve we went up to the Jerusalem Promenade overlooking the Old City and watched the fireworks. It's ten minutes walk from where we live and we met loads of our friends there. It was a spectacular start to the 70 year celebrations.

Go-karting in the morning.
Then came the actual day. The thing about being single, not having a car, and living in a flat without a garden is that it makes Yom Ha'atzmaut very traumatic. When you have a garden you just invite a couple  of friends for a barbecue and you've got a party. If you have a car you can go out of town and have a picnic. If you are without either but you have a partner, you can go out for lunch together, have a glass of wine and call it a celebration. As a single there is always this frantic hustle to find a party or invite yourself to a barbecue. I admit that before DD, I sometimes just stayed home alone and didn't tell a soul. I enjoyed my own company, watched movies, read books and pottered about, but oh the shame if  anyone had found out.

When DD was small we'd get together with my singlemum friends and we'd picnic in a local park. However, our children are now all between 7 and 10. A picnic in the local park just doesn't do it for them anymore. We had to go bigger. Luckily the others all have cars.

Sunny on Thursday
Reader we had the most amazing time. We went to an adventure park in the morning where we went go-karting. Then we headed to the beach at Ashdod where the kids played in the sand while we watched the Airforce flyover and the Navy flotilla.

As Yom Ha'atzmaut was a Thursday and Friday is a half day at school, we took the day off (as did half the country) and made a long weekend of it. We stayed at a hotel right by the beach and spent the next two days alternating between the beach and the pool. The weather turned on us and it rained. But it was still warm so we swam in the pool in the rain. Same wet so no big deal. The sea was rough so we paddled while the foam slapped our legs. The sky was grey - I felt quite at home. And the children loved it.

And guess what? Yom Ha'atzmaut falls on a Thursday again next year. I think we already have a plan.

Rough and grey the next day was also fun and we had the beach to ourselves.