Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Other [Embarrassing] Resolutions For 2018

Get a grip, Mum!
New Year, new resolutions. Ha, it's more like, New Year and the same resolutions I've made every year for the whole of my life. However, there are other resolutions that are not lofty enough to warrant being part of the Big Ten. They're sort of embarrassing as they reveal petty habits that don't show me at my best. Here are some of them...

1. Stop booking the cheapest flights on EasyJet in order to save thruppence (which then goes on the minicab because there is no public transport at that time of day). It's a false a economy that I am totally aware of so it's just stupidity that makes me keep doing it.

2. Stop eating Deed's leftovers. Throwing her leftovers down my throat is just as much a waste of food as throwing it in the bin and the consequences are far worse. I do not want to be fat more than I want to save half a plate of food, but I do it anyway. It has to stop.

3. And don't eat her crisps. These are not leftovers - I sometimes eat them before she even knows that I've bought them. Crisps are my weakness. Well chips and sandwiches are my weakness too but for those you have to put some effort into preparing them. Crisps are just there calling my name. Note to self: buy headphones so you can't hear the crisps calling your name.

4. While we're on the food issues theme, stop doing research about the best diet. You need to choose between Keto (high fat no carbs), Vegan (whole food, plant based, low fat), and Intermittent fasting (nothing for a set and regular period of time), and stick to it. You don't get healthy from watching the debates on You Tube.

5. For Deed, a yogurt, an apple, a packet of crisps and some chocolate is not supper. Even after a long day at work and an evening of more work ahead, a proper supper needs to be a priority. Maybe I'll add an egg and cut up a cucumber and a tomato. 

6. Talking of You Tube, no You Tube until you've done your homework. Yes even grown-ups have homework. That was a hard lesson to learn and I still struggle with it. Some of my homework is work for work and other homework is housework. However, I need to put what needs to get done in my life before watching what others are achieving in theirs. Why is it so much more satisfying to watch another family achieving their goals than it is to do something towards my own goals? This has to switch. Us first.

7. Ditch the snooze button. I can hit snooze 7 times - this is 63 minutes on my alarm clock. It would be better to just set the first alarm for an hour later and get the benefit of that time in uninterrupted sleep. But I don't because I have grand ideas about magic mornings. (Not the prescribed Magic Morning, but a version of it that suits me including doing a load of laundry and hanging it out before work.) Maybe I should position the alarm clock across the room?

That's it. All slovenly and slothful habits that need to be addressed this year. But as today is only December 30th 2017, I might go back to bed for a while... after I've watched that other family on You Tube building their own house and off-grid homesteading... "Deed! There are snacks in the kitchen, help yourself to some lunch. whatever you want."


Friday, December 29, 2017

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane Is Not Entertainment

A selfie at Tel Aviv Airport before we left. 
We have been suffering from Jet Lag since arriving home last week. This is totally unnecessary when only travelling through two  time zones but as usual, I messed up.

I get drawn into a personal challenge when booking EasyJet flights. I have to try to get the price down to the cheapest I can within our possible dates for travelling. We only take hand luggage. That may change next time as I'm fed up of having to leave stuff at my Mum's to bring home next time and that scary moment of will it? - won't it? fit into the checking frame. We don't choose our seats, or do speedy boarding, or pay to carry an extra purse onto the plane. And I cannot resist those early morning and late night flights that are tuppence hapenny cheaper.

It's a false economy because we arrive in Luton around midnight and have to leave Stanmore for the return journey at 4 am - both journeys requiring a minicab which swallows the full savings we made on the flights. And still I find myself doing it.

There are advantages to these anti-social flight times. For example, Deeds (that's DD, I nicknamed DD after almost seven years) sleeps on the plane, you get an almost full working day before you leave, and you arrive home in the afternoon with time to get yourself organised to go back to work the next day. The only horrible bit is getting up at 3 am to leave for the airport.

This time I decided to stay up and not have that awful having to drag myself out of bed. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane was on television at 10.30 and not finishing until 12.45. I remember seeing it about 40 years ago but couldn't remember any of the details - except that one sister was in a wheelchair and the other one hates her. Mum and I watched it while playing kalooki and trying to second guess what happened next. Mum only remembered the budgie, I thought I remembered the wheelchair being thrown down the stairs or someone falling down them, but I was wrong.

Through the mirrored ceiling at Luton Airport.
I have a red bag at my feet and I'm looking up.
(Or don't bother trying to find me and just read on.)
OMG. What a depressing film. It's hard enough having to leave all the festivities of Christmas and travel back to Nochristmasland on Christmas Eve. And staying up all night has not had any magic attached to it since I was 21. By the time the film ended I was thoroughly miserable. (I admit that there was a good little twist in the tale/tail.) We had to have another match of kalooki while watching Escape to the Country in order to cheer ourselves up.

We slept on the plane. Landed in Tel Aviv at 14.30. Arrived home in Jerusalem at 17.00. (We took a shared mini-bus taxi and had to go round the whole city while eight other passengers were dropped off before us. It costs 25GBP whereas a private taxi costs 70GBP, which is why we do it.) And then we were home and not at all tired. So we went to bed late and couldn't get up in the morning.

This has continued all week because Deeds keeps falling asleep on the sofa around 5 pm and waking up at 7.30. I have been catching up on work that I didn't do while away so I've also been going to bed extremely late. In a spectacular finale, we both fell asleep at 3.30pm this afternoon and woke up at 8. We're screwed. Tomorrow night we're getting into bed at 8 whether we're tired or not, and no napping during the day!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Proud And Prepared - Final R2BC Of 2017

It's the last R2BC of 2017. I missed a couple of weeks because we were away (sorry Becky) but now I'm back on the blog and gearing up for the New Year. Here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful. I've also linked up o the Host Post (her words but I liked it) at Becky's Lakes Single Mum, as usual (except for the past two weeks).

1
Parents' Evening
DD's was on Tuesday. This is my second attempt at writing this section because I decided that too much bragging in not becoming on a blog. Surffice to say that DD has made amazing progress since two years ago when we had a crisis about her weak Hebrew. Her English is excellent (obviously), her maths is very good, and even her Hebrew is now at a good level. These are the three subjects I care about. Well not so much Hebrew but she needs it to get through school.

We chose our teachers carefully. After getting rave reports from the class teacher and the librarian who gives Hebrew enrichment classes twice a week to a small group who need it, we decided to give the music teacher a miss and visit the art teacher for a friendly chat. We knew that was the safer choice. Likewise we didn't bother the science teacher, the drama teacher or the sports teacher.

Most important of all were the lovely comments about good behaviour, respect, and attitude to her work. I've said it before, but I have noticed a big jump in maturity this year. We came home proud and happy.

2
Year of Amazingness
I'm gearing up for the New Year. It's an even number, 2018. The even numbers are so much bigger and better and full of hope in my opinion. (Odd numbered years are sort of half-years and I can't muster up much enthusiasm for them - I  know, I'm mad.)

Inspired by my R2BC posts, my cousin gave me a 2018 year planner for Hanukkah. I always look longingly at them in the shops but then I remember that my weeks need to start on a Sunday, I need Sunday to be a full day, and I need all the Hebrew dates and holidays. But this diary caught my imagination.

Firstly, 2018 starts on a Monday so it's just the weeks of the year from the beginning. Sundays have equal space to the other six days. And most importantly I suddenly realized that this does not have to be my diary. It's my planner for projects and goals. It will be for far loftier things than appointments and when DD has a birthday party to attend.

There are all sorts of exciting pages to fill - notes and lists, whole month views, weeks on a page, and fun quotes from the creator, Rachel Bright. I am going to thoroughly enjoy 2018. And change my life, recreate myself, etc... of course.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

On The Seventh Night Of Hanukkah...




.... my true love gave to meeeeee. Well not my true love actually. My cousin and his wife took us, Mum, DD and me, to see the Christmas lights at Kew Gardens. Hanukkah is also called the festival of lights and I'd say we did the Seventh Night proud with the magnitude and wonder of Christmas at Kew.





Can you believe I'd never been to Kew Gardens before? I suddenly realized that I'd missed out on Kew a few years ago and I put it on my list of things to do when in London. And then of course I never got round to it. So this time we went. We went in the dark so obviously I'll have to go again, but now I've seen how easy it is to get there I surely will go again.





Back to this visit. It was magical. I don't know why all those Winter Wonderland attempts are such rubbish? Kew Gardens managed it in spectacular style.





There was a walk into Narnia, carol singing trees, Santa Claus and his grotto in pantomime, a fairground, roasted chestnuts, roast your own marshmellows on an open fire, mulled wine and hot cider, a magical bridge over the lake with swans floating in the lamplight, bubbles, tunnels, fairy tale forests, woodland creatures, and lots of Christmas trees.





The tropical pavilion provided a spectacular backdrop to musical fountains in the lake with holograms dancing around them.





You get to see everything as you follow the trail, stopping as much as you like. We took a short break at the fairground to ride on the carousel. All in all we were there for just over two hours but you can do the trail in an hour and a half. And of course you can go around again if you want to. We didn't but I'd definitely do it all again another year.





These pictures are a mixture of mine (the rubbish ones) and my cousin's wife's which are much better than mine. I don't understand why - we both pointed our phones in the same direction and mine is not  rubbish phone.











Thank you Doreen and Jeffrey, we loved it!





Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Hanukkah Nights Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six

Third night we lit at the airport. 
We got back from London on Sunday evening so I'm still in catch up mode. I wrote about the first night of Hanukkah here.

The second night was just DD and me at home. I didn't take any photos but she did get a new umbrella for her present. It replaced the old one which is in perfect condition and will go to the Yedidya Bazaar in March. It was time for an upgrade as nine year olds cannot been seen with a little pink umbrella decorated with Bratz dolls. I got that.

Third night we were at the airport and of course we lit candles there. We declined the big sugary doughnuts though.

Fifth night family party at Mum's. Party hats are compulsery.
Fourth night we went to my sister for Friday night dinner and lit candles there. My gift and DD's gift was that she got to stay the night and spend the whole of Shabbat with her cousins while I went home with my mum.









On the fifth night which was Saturday night, my mum hosted the immediate family for our family Hanukkah party. It's candle lighting, presents, dinner, latkes and doughnuts (not together), a quiz, crackers and party hats - the whole thing.




















Cousins conferring over the joke from the cracker
Sixth night, my sister hosted Sunday lunch for my b-i-l's family. When it's her turn to host their Hanukkah party we get to go too. More latkes and more doughnuts.

So far so festive. However, on the Seventh night we had more lights than ever.... you'll have to wait until tomorrow for that as it deserves a whole blog post on its own. And I have to go to bed as the teachers' strike I was so hoping for tomorrow has been called off.


Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas Said Nobody

Here's one enormous Christmas tree we saw in London (Kew Gardens)
The Irony is that I live not more than 10 minutes drive from Bethlehem. I've got used to the working week starting on a Sunday although I can't pretend to like it.

Anyhoo, I will never ever get used to having to go to work on Christmas Day. Never. Even if my celebrations are just watching the telly, including the Queen's speech and a good film or two, and drinking a glass of wine. I just watched the Queen on You Tube but it's not the same after a day at work and work again tomorrow.

I know that many people work on Christmas Day even in the UK, but the workers who have to work, bring the Christmas spirit with them. We flew back from London yesterday on Christmas Eve and the Easyjet cabin crew were all wearing Christmas jumpers. It made me smile.

Then we landed in Tel Aviv, took a shared taxi back to Jerusalem, went to bed by 7 pm as we'd been up since 3 am, and ne'er a thought to Santa, stockings hanging over an open radiator, mince pies or nuffing! I did get a Whatsapp invitation to a carol service but we were already on our way to bed. There is Christmas in Jerusalem but you have to know where to find it and make the effort to go there. It's not everywhere like it is in other places.

This morning it was raining with big gray clouds promising more of the same all day. I went to my religiously Jewish school to teach. I quietly wished one of the other English teachers a Merry Christmas and she took it to be a joke. It was of course a joke, but I wished it weren't.

It was hard leaving all that Christmas festivity behind in London. It's silly really as we had a week of equally festive lights, songs, parties and  presents only the week before for Hanukkah. But going to work on Christmas Day just feels wrong and I don't like it.

Next year I'm doing it! We won't be travelling back from London the day before so I'll have more time to plan it. Of course it'll be a Yuletide celebration with the decorated tree symbolizing the rebirth of nature after the winter solstice, or something. And I might have to take a day off, possibly a sick day. Or maybe we can do it next week for the New Year. Woops, I think I've just blown the sick day option. I'll have to sleep on this one and get back to you.

Meanwhile, I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and made the Yuletide gay, and that from now on your troubles will be on their way. (I didn't make that up, I heard it from Judy Garland during a past and altogether more festive Christmas.)


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

First Night

It's traditional to light your candles outside so that everyone can see them.


Tonight was the first night of Hanukkah. We were invited to friends for candle lighting and dinner. It was really lovely. Great company, lots of children, lots of presents, lots of food and lots of fancy doughnuts. If you've never tasted lime and coconut cream doughnuts from a French patisserie you've not lived. Though I have to say that the berries and cream doughnut was also something special. We cut them into quarters and had a tasting fest.

Thank you Sally-Ann!

The amazing doughnuts!


Lots of friends!

You light a taper candle and one extra each day for 8 days.

Playing Dreidels
Painting iced biscuits.
Each biscuit came with a paint brush and four colours.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits #49 - A Tweenager Is Born

Now I am 9 I'm as clever as clever.
(With apologies to AA Milne)
1
DD and I climbed into bed together for a story. We're almost finished reading The Wouldbegoods and I wanted to press on with it. DD had found her book from the Natural History Museum two years ago. She asked me to read the section about dinosaurs to her. I started but it was soooo boring. After two pages I was tired and couldn't be bothered with it.

Me: I'm not reading any more of this. It's too boring.
DD: Well that's rude.

2
DD: Mummy why did you come to live here?
Me: Because this is where Jewish people live.
DD: Wait a minute. Are we Jewish!?
Me: Of course we are. What did you think?
DD: I didn't know we were Jewish.
Me: Do you know it in Hebrew that anachnu Yehudim (we're Jewish).
DD: Ohhhh, why didn't you say so?

3
Answering questions on a reading comprehension for English homework.
DD: What is the relationship between the two girls? Mummy! How do you write 'best friends'?
Me: Write 'best' how it sounds.
DD: Doesn't matter. I wrote BFF.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Vegan Meat Patties

Vegan meat patties
Quite by chance and by accident I have made vegan patties that look and taste like meat. I think I shall have to name them Serendipity Patties. (Btw, hands up who first learned the word serendipity from Dr Who circa 1970?)

Here's how it happened. I went shopping this morning while DD was at school. Included in my weekly shop full of healthy fruit, vegetables and whole grains of course (well mostly - some of the grains aren't wholely whole tbh), were DD's crisps. I came home, unpacked the shopping and sat down at the computer with a cup of tea, to work.

I tried eating a bowl of porridge with banana. Then I finished the cold pasta in the fridge with salad vegetables and a tahina dressing. Then I had another cup of tea. And finally I succumbed to the crisps. (I should have just eaten the crisps first and bypassed all the other calories.) This was over a four hour period but still, I ate her crisps.

DD goes to club straight from school on Friday and one of the leaders comes to the school to walk a group of them over to the club house at 11.45. Yes Stupid Friday school finishes at 11.45. It was my turn to pick her up with her friend, at 1.15. We walked the friend home and then just had time to pop back into the local supermarket for a replacement bag of crisps.

The shops here close at 2pm on Fridays in the winter and don't open at all on Saturday. There was a pile of reduced perishable items by the check out. I was drawn by a designer loaf of bread and a pack of two whole-wheat challah rolls in the 2 for 12 shekels basket. I bought them and the sliced loaf went straight into the freezer for toast. I fancied a challah sandwich for supper.

However, when I took the challot (pl) out of the bag they were dry and sort of crumbled in my hands. I was angry initially but there was nothing I could do about it except resolve never to buy food on offer from that shop again. I've said this before but I keep forgetting.

Ever industrious in the kitchen, I crumbled the challot into a bowl, added a finely chopped onion, a jar of pasta tomato sauce, two tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and a shlug of olive oil. I would have added some soy or Worcester sauce but I didn't have any. I mixed it all up and spooned patty sized mounds of the mixture onto a baking tray. Into the oven for - umm - until they started to smell done, flipped them over and back into the oven for another 10 minutes. Oh yes, the oven was hot  - about 200 degrees.

They were still a bit moist and floppy when I put them onto a plate to cool but became much firmer as they rested. I had about 25 (now only 21) and they really do taste meaty. I think next time I'll make them bigger like burgers.

I packed them into a plastic box and into the fridge for the week. In a prime example of bloggerfail, I'd forgotten to take a photo. So the photo after the fact is not very Martha Stewart but at least I remembered before they were all eaten. Don't they look good for vegan?


Thursday, December 7, 2017

R2BC - The Surprise Party

Top Bunk!
She's pretending to be asleep for this photo, I can see her smiling. 
The working week is over for me on Thursday afternoon (I go back to school on Sunday morning), apart from all the work I have to do at home, and the shopping, and the cooking, and the cleaning. But apart from all that.... Seriously though, if I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn and get us both out of the house before 7.30 am, I don't count it as working. Here are my reasons 2B cheerful for this past week. The linky has moved back to Becky's Lakes Single Mum for December and I'm on it as usual.

1
DD turned nine on Monday. She had a lovely birthday and actually, she ended up with three different celebrations.

I'm still getting my head around the fact that nine years have gone by since she was born. As I'm an older mother, I'd had over 20 years of total independence. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. All I had to do was make my arrangements for myself and lock my front door behind me. I didn't even have to leave a note for anyone. Now I've had nine years of not making a move without factoring DD into the equation - where will she be? Who will she be with? What will she do? What will she eat? Will she be happy? Will she be bored? Will she be too tired? Will she be warm enough?

I know all mothers live with multiple lives to consider, and some of them do it for decades if they have large families, but for me it was a new experience. It's complicated sometimes but I like it.

2
On Tuesday I had to be in school from 4 to 8pm for parent-teacher meetings. The day was a study in logistic planning from reorganising my college timetable to making arrangements for DD so that she could go to club, be taken to Sarit's house, stay overnight with Sarit, be taken to school in the morning with a classmate, and not have to schlep her clarinet everywhere with her after the clarinet lesson on Tuesday morning.

My first R2BC is that it all went like clockwork. Thank you team!

3
I knew that Sarit was going to have a cake and candles for DD as Tuesday was the day after her birthday. And I knew that she had a gift for her. So I'm sitting at school, bored stiff because only 15 parents came to see me in four hours! And it was not one family every 15 minutes. It was more like 10 families in the first hour and a half and another five families spread over the remaining two and a half hours. Anyhoo, I suddenly see Whatsapp messages coming through with photos of a proper birthday party happening at Sarit's place.

She had invited the rest of our 'created family' group (we are five mothers and five children but one family is away atm) for tea and birthday celebrations. I was really touched as it was a total surprise. DD was so happy. The only negative thing was that I couldn't be there.

4
This one is DD's. She got the top bunk for the night at Sarit's. Her first time on a top bunk. She was thrilled.



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Such Is Life

Sunset over Jerusalem.
The sun doesn't go down, it's the world that keeps on turning.
We live on the third floor of an apartment building. Directly below us on the second floor are a young family who just welcomed their third daughter into the world. And on the first floor, directly below them, are a couple in their late 50s with grown up children and baby grandchildren.

On DD's birthday, as we went downstairs to go to school in the morning, we noticed a big colourful poster on the door of the family on the second floor. WELCOME HOME TO MUMMY AND OUR BABY SISTER! We smiled and said that we must go in and visit next week and take a gift.

We left the building and outside in the parking area we saw a small marquee with the sign 'Sukkat Avelim'. It means 'Mourners' Shelter'. I looked to see where the electric cable from the roof of the marquee went into the building and saw that it was attached via the balcony of the couple on the first floor.

My heart sank as I understood what had happened. Although there were no notices up yet I had met the wife in the supermarket last week and she told me her son was in hospital. Had an elderly grandparent died, they would have not have needed a tent. But when a young man with a family of his own dies, there are more mourners and more friends who come to visit and comfort during the week of shiva.

By the time I got home from school and was rushing out to collect DD and her friends for the birthday supper, the notices were up. I had been right. Michael was was a young family man with four babies - two sets of twins all under four years old.

The funeral had been in the morning and the street around our building was full of tearful friends and family. My neighbour came out of the tent. I hugged her, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," was all I could say. We all assumed he would be ok. He was young, there are babies, he was in the hospital, the hospital makes you better doesn't it?

I popped into their apartment on my way upstairs to say a few words to her husband and then ran up to dump my bag and do a quick change of clothes. On my way back out I met the new father on the second floor. I wished him Mazal Tov and we walked out together, through the mourners to the street.

He drove off to collect his wife and new baby from the hospital and I went to celebrate DD's birthday. Such is life.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A More Sophisticated Birthday

Fancy shmancy doughnuts. They don't come fancier than this. 
The birthday started last Friday when DD celebrated her birthday in school along with the other December birthdays. One of the mothers made a fabulous cake, I bought a gift from the three of them to the class (a picture atlas if you're interested), and the other friend bought a small present for each of the birthday children.

The real birthday day, yesterday, started with me waking DD with a full throttle rendition of "Happy Birthday to you..." in two languages.

DD: Stop that racket! It's a regular school day!
Me: But its your birthday!
DD: Don't be weird. (Turns over and goes back to sleep).

So much for that. We eventually got moving. I found some Whatsapp messages for DD on my phone and an e-card on the computer. I related the messages to DD and she watched the card. #postmillenialgeneration

Me: O (my friend's son aged 7) wishes you lots of presents and sweets.
DD: Amen!

Perusing the menu.
There were only 4 options on the kids' menu but they studied them seriously.
We both went off to our separate schools. The celebrations were going to be after school.

DD didn't want a party but she did want to do something for her birthday and so did I. So we invited a friend to come out for supper and a fancy doughnut.

A word about the doughnuts. Fried food is traditional for the festival of Hanukkah. Specifically latkes and doughnuts. Like Christmas, Hanukkah starts early in the shops and in recent years the competition to produce the fanciest doughnuts has become fierce. In the exit poles Roladin Cafe usually comes in the top 3 so that's where we went. Also because there is a branch five minutes walk from our house.

By the time we got to the actual event, DD had invited another two friends. I was desperately trying to play it down as there is a school policy of inviting the whole class, or at least all the girls or all the boys to birthday parties. I kept saying, it's not a party, it's not a party. In the end it was great that  we had three guests because it made it more of a party. I know, it's complicated, but you can get away with it if you keep it low profile.

More fancy doughnuts
I collected the girls from school at 4pm and we walked up the road to Roladin. The menu was perfect as they have a kids' selection with four options - pizza, pasta with tomato or cream sauce, cheese toast, or a breakfast type egg, cheese, salad and bread roll platter. They mostly wanted the pizza. And they got a drink of their choice included with the meal. I had a salad.

After ordering, DD opened her presents. They are very sweet here about giving birthday blessings and each child wished DD something lovely for the coming year. And then she thanked them each with a hug.

Then they ran about for a bit outside. Then they chose and ate doughnuts (not me of course). Then I paid and we left. No stress. No mess to clear up. Much cheaper than a party And DD said said that it was her best birthday so far. Result!

The obligatory silly photo with tongues sticking out.
I will never understand why tongues out means we're having lots of fun.  
We walked our guests home. One of them lived further along the Bethlehem Road than we thought. I almost expected to arrive in Bethlehem before we got to her house but we eventually got there before leaving Jerusalem. We ended up doing an hour's round trip to take her home and then walk home again. Yes we could have taken the bus or a taxi back but actually it was a lovely mild evening and the walk was fun.

At home DD played with her presents for a bit, we had an argument about bedtime versus time on You Tube, and the day was over with a kiss and a cuddle.



Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Perfect Diet?

Today we had a vegan lunch. Tomorrow - who knows.
Back in July I wrote this post about the Ketogenic diet versus a Vegan Diet. At that time I came down decidedly on the side of the keto diet because I was convinced by the carbs turning to glucose argument. I was, and am still, in favour of intermittent  fasting. However, I can't get the vegan factors out of my head. And, to make it all more complicated, I like history, nostalgia and tradition so what are you supposed to do about baking with real butter, chicken soup with kneidlech, shepherd's pie, Cornish pasties, and all other meat and potato pies?

I've spent hours on You Tube watching documentaries and testimonies form every camp. They all claim to solve the world-wide obesity crisis, reverse type 2 diabetes, reverse even stage 4 cancers, eradicate heart disease, eradicate strokes, eradicate dementia, eradicate almost everything including old age! Grown men and women shouting at each other with passionate anger that they have found the secret to universal good health.

Confused? I totally am. This is what I've found out about all the different ways of eating. Maybe if I write it all down we can see some helpful patterns.

1. What Grandma used to make.
It sounds sensible because who could be more sensible about food than Grandma. She cooked the family through the war (if  you're old enough, otherwise think Great-Grandma) and the nation have never been so healthy as they were then.

But if you're going to do it you need to do it like Grandma (or Great-Grandma) did it. They ate a little of everything, there was no (or very little) processed food, they did not eat between meals, they ate much smaller portions than we are used to now, sugar was rationed.

You also have to take into account that the wheat, vegetables, and especially the meat, that we buy nowadays is not as nutritionally sound as it was back then. The wheat has been modified, the vegetables are sprayed, the soil is depleted, the animals are fed antibiotics (and maybe hormones) to keep them alive and growing. And don't let's start on the spiritual notion that their stress and suffering in some way taints the meat, dairy and eggs. Ok, let's include that because we're not dismissing anything here and I sort of do believe it.

2. The Ketogenic Diet.
No carbohydrates except those occurring in salad and crusiferous vegetables. No sugar, flour, root vegetables, fruit (except berries), alcohol, grains, or milk. On the other hand you can have cheese, cream, butter, meat, fish, eggs, avocados and berries. They advise moderate amounts of protein so it's not Atkins. The perfect keto meal is a moderate portion of protein with loads of vegetables.

The science they claim is that carbs are just glucose waiting to happen, and that glucose is what leads to too much insulin, fatty livers, and all the other diseases mentioned above. Once you eliminate the carbs, your body has to use your stored fat for energy and you go into a state of ketosis and lose weight.

I don't dispute any of this. I've seen amazing transformations from obese and nearly dead couch potatoes to healthy, fit, exercising people with abundant energy and sparkles in their eyes. They have indeed reversed many of the dreaded diseases of middle-age and it shows on their blood tests.

3. Whole Food, Plant Based, Vegan.
I'm skipping vegetarian here because vegetarian makes no sense. The dairy cows and the laying hens are kept in the same conditions as the meat animals. Milk and eggs have the same fat, hormones, and antibiotics. Dairy and meat cows eat the same amount of grain (that could be used to feed hungry people) and give of the same the amount of gas. So if you're vegetarian but not vegan you're kidding yourself.

Vegan on its own is also not enough if we're looking for a healthy diet. Crisps, jelly beans, and all sorts of processed sugary snacks are vegan, You could live off them and still be vegan. So I'm only talking about whole food plant based vegan here.

The WFPB camp are about animal suffering, the planet, and our health. I agree with them about the animals. It's not like it was in olden times when you knew the farmer and the animals frolicked in the fields until their eventual demise. Despite the pictures of happy cows and hens on the packaging, all our meat comes from animals living suffering in factory conditions.

I agree with them about the planet. I have to take their word for it on the gas emissions being the biggest cause of greenhouse gas and therefore global warming. I do understand, however, that the enormous amount of grain fed to animals gives way less food than the grain would have given had it by-passed the fat and protein machine (i.e. the animal).

It only gets complicated when we look at the health benefits. Every amazing transformation and healing miracle I've seen from keto people, I've seen the exact same incredible results from the WFPB vegans. They say you can get enough protein from plants, avocados are super-foods, beans are the key to eternal good health, and you can reverse or prevent all the diseases we fear whilst simultaneously saving the planet and stopping animal suffering.

I also kinda have to agree that it doesn't make sense to be afraid of a potato (although you should be afraid of the vegetable oil in crisps and chips) or a piece of fruit. So again you have to be selective - a healthy WFPB vegan diet does not include sugar, vegetable oils, or any processed foods (including highly refined grains). You also need to eat the whole fruit and not just the juice as this leads to drinking the sugar from 10 oranges instead of the whole fruit and fibre of one orange.

The vegan doctors say they see clogged arteries full of animal fat and it's nothing to do with glucose. They advise high carb, low fat. I'm not a doctor.

4. One Ingredient Shopping.
You can have what you like as long as you buy only foods that consist of one ingredient. Meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts. I like this concept and you would necessarily eat less if you had to make everything from scratch. I just included this because it's a simple solution although it doesn't solve the carbs versus animals dilemma.

5. Intermittent Fasting.
This works with any diet and you can do it without any big dietary changes. The theory is that you leave time for your body to use up all the energy from the previous meal and get a chance to use some of your body fat for energy. It seems to be another way to get into ketosis.

People say that once they are using stored fat they have abundant energy whilst losing weight. Dr Jason Fung explains that your body tries to slow metabolism when it feels it's running out of food but once you go into ketosis there is a load of fat to burn so you don't slow down at all. He advises to eat low carb, high fat, and drink lots of water. (Actually everyone advises lots of water.)

Intermittent fasting can be as little as no eating between meals, skipping one meal a day, only eating one meal a day, fasting for 16 hours and eating only in an 8 hour window each day (or 18:6, or 20:4). It can be fasting for 2 days a week, or 3, or an extended water fast of several days. Or you could do an extended fast a number of times a year (after Xmas and after your summer holiday?). The beauty of it is that anyone can do it: you travel - don't eat, you have erratic schedules - don't eat, you have food allergies - don't eat, you can't afford a special diet - don't eat, you eat kosher/hallal - don't eat, you're vegan - don't eat, you're in keto - don't eat. Cute eh? I didn't make up that speech, Jason Fung says it. (Obviously some specific medical conditions mean that some people are not advised to fast.)

And, yes, all the amazing, incredible results seen on both keto diet and the WFPB vegan diet are also documented and available all over You Tube for intermittent fasting. Same. Same diseases cured, same conditions reversed, same healthy new lives for people who were almost dead. Go figure.

My Conclusions.
*If you want to save the planet and be kind to animals you need to be vegan.
*If you want good health and to save the planet and be kind to animals, you need to be WFPB vegan.
*If you want to lose weight quickly you could go Keto but some doctors swear that they see all that animal fat in the arteries. So you might be way more healthy and active than if you were obese and this might be why you have good blood work and fewer chronic conditions.
*If you work from home or part time, and have a garden, you could try buying (and growing) only one-ingredient food, cooking like Grandma, and eating like they did in the 1940s. I have no doubt that this would be healthy. It would also take up your whole life.
*Intermittent fasting works for most people on whatever level they want to do it. Many people find it easier not to eat at all than to restrict portions and types of food.
* Whatever works for you is better than eating junk, fast, processed, and sugary foods.

**** EVERYBODY AGREES that you should eat loads of vegetables and drink lots of water.
****EVERYBODY AGREES that you should avoid processed foods, sugar, vegetable oils and trans-fats.





Thursday, November 30, 2017

Chocolate Party - R2BC

DD doing something with a syringe filled
with white chocolate. 
I'm borrowing Mich's idea and writing a Reason 2B Cheerful for each day of the past week. And of course I'm joining the linky on Mummy from the Heart.

Friday: I went to my cousin's house near Tel Aviv for breakfast. Well this wasn't such a reason to be cheerful as she  was sitting shiva, but it was lovely to see her as we hardly ever get together.

Saturday: We had a pyjama day and did absolutely nothing except eat, sleep, read, and play games all day.

Sunday: I don't remember last Sunday. If it were a terrible, no good, very bad day I'd have remembered it. But obviously it was ok so that's a reason.

Monday: Ditto.

Tuesday: Ditto.

Wednesday: We went to a birthday party after school. It was a fabulous chocolatefest with the kids doing all sorts of creative things with melted chocolate. And then they ate it all. DD came home and asked for a cut up apple and orange for supper.

Thursday (today): I went out for lunch with a friend. finally managed to pick up my new cheque books from the bank, and made it home in time for DD coming home from school. Just.

OK, that didn't work so well for me. However, it's the last day of the month and I need about 200 more views in order to reach my minimum number of page views for November. Anything less is unacceptable. (This is called the tail wagging the dog but sometimes it's like that. It just is.)

Next week is a big week for us as we have a birthday in the house and it's not mine. I expect I'll find plenty of reasons to be cheerful around the birthday theme and that'll make up for this week.



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

DD is a Young Guard

Me aged 18, on a kibbutz with my Youth Movement
DD started going to one of the local Youth Movements last week. I've written about this before but Youth Movements here (and in the Jewish world) are more than just clubs. It's a whole ideology and a community that you grow up with. They used to be closely linked to political parties but not so much anymore. I would say that my Youth Movement in London was the reason I emigrated to Israel. It can be a powerful force in your growing up experience. Historically it's part of the country's Socialist origins. All the public schools have half day on Tuesdays so that they can go to Youth Movements in the afternoon. It reflects the European background of the original ruling classes. Think of the power of Hitler Youth, it's a similar concept but obviously without the racism and genocide.

The representatives from the various groups came to the school to recruit. We didn't get any of the religious groups as it's not a religious school. They know their potential clients. I didn't push any of it even though some of her friends started going to scouts and Noam (The Youth Movement of the Traditional Jewish Community) last year. My thoughts were:

a. She needs to choose a group that meets locally as we don't have a car.
b. She'll go where a group of her friends go - it's all about the social at this age.
c. I didn't start going to my Youth Movement of choice until well into my teens and I got the full experience, life-changing influences, and life-long friends out of it.
d. It ultimately won't be my choice but hers.
e. Lots of kids I know started going to a group but dropped out after a few months. They don't have the pull that they once did and many many more kids don't go to a Youth Movement nowadays. So even if she starts a group it doesn't mean she'll stay with it.

I would have chosen Noam for her. I would say that Noam probably reflect our family situation and outlook the best. But I left it too late and she told me she wanted to go to Hashomer Hatzair (The Young Guard). I had no recourse. The leaders come to collect a group of them from school (this year, next year they can walk themselves if they're still interested), the local clubhouse is very near, her friends were going.

But Hashomer Hatzair!!!! It's extremely left-wing and anti-religion! It's so not me. It's so not us. But so far they've made some posters and played board games. I collected DD and her friend the other day and as we walked home I could hear them behind me chanting: "Young Guards! Be strong!" and then answering with; "Strong and Brave!"

I was remembering my own Youth Movement chants: "Who are we?"   "Bnei Akiva!" (The Children of Rabbi Akiva)  "What is our cry?"  "The Bible and Work!"  "What is our motto?"  "The Land of Israel! The People of Israel! And the Bible of Israel!"

Over the past 35 years Bnei Akiva has got more religious and right wing whereas I have got less so on both accounts. I loved my time in BA but it wouldn't be appropriate for us now. When my nephew offered DD his Bnei Akiva shirt which he thought she'd love to have, I had a strong reaction against it. DD had no idea what it meant but I knew that  wearing it would be announcing our religious and political stance - wrong ones for us on both accounts. When DD announced that she wanted to go to Hashomer Hatzair, I didn't have this strong reaction. So maybe it's not such a bad fit after all.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

R2BC - The Digital Edition

No real reason to get up on a weekend morning....
1
My New Phone
I bought a new mobile phone. My old one was a cheap something from China that you had to shout down in order to be heard. And when I switched providers, it wouldn't receive the internet or allow Whatsapp or any other apps outside of my home wifi.

I was already fed up with it but then I had to go out of town on Friday, on the buses, to a place I'd never been before. I wanted to be able to check the bus routes and schedules, I wanted to see where I was on the map, I needed to be able to use my Gett Taxi app if necessary, I needed to be able to Whatsapp  the person I was going to and also the parents of the friend DD was going to after school. It was time for a new phone.

I went to an established chain of computer shops. I told them I wanted Samsung or LG and not some obscure make of phone that no one is familiar with. I didn't want to pay 2,000 shekels but, otoh, I wanted something that would last five years. I couldn't afford a new phone but they put it on  12 payments and it was Black Friday week, so I'm paying about 20GBP a month. (For one second I considered buying one for DD as well but then I remembered the tablet that was dropped on the floor after only six weeks and I came to my senses.)

I'm like a kid with a new toy. The various apps directed me to my cousin's door, showing my progress, exact location, and expected times of arrival for each stage of the journey. I know this isn't new, but it was new to me and I loved it.

2
DD's New Phone
DD finishes school on Friday at 11.45. She was then going to her youth club with the group of kids from school, and then going home with a friend. I had no idea what time I'd be home so I decided to 'lend' her the spare phone my mother bought for when she visits. It's not a smart phone but one of those revamped Nokia phones with telephone, clock, calendar, and camera.

DD was thrilled. She's been begging for a phone for ages. She was a bit disappointed that she wouldn't get Whatsapp on it as her friends are in groups, but she found a game (probably Space Invaders or Pac Man, LOL) so that made up for it somewhat.

I put in my phone number, her friend's mother's number and our very close friend (the friend DD sleeps over with when I go out). I told her that if she's ever in a situation where she can't get hold of me, she should call Sarit and she'll come and get you. I told her not to waste phone calls, it's a pay as you go and  if  you use up the time you won't be able to call anyone. "It's just for emergencies." I warned.

DD didn't miss a trick. "If it's for emergencies I ought to have it with me every day, don't you think?" She's got a point. When I called her on my way home, she excitedly told me that she'd found loads of things to do on the phone and that she has collected some phone numbers from her classmates. Oy vey.

By the end of the day I'd bought her a cover for it and change the contact name on my phone from 'Spare Phone' to 'DD'. Some things are inevitable.

And as a consequence of her having the phone, I felt comfortable letting her walk home from her friend's house on her own. She goes to and from school on her own already but we live opposite the school. This was from a few roads away with a few roads to cross. It was really fine. I've been watching her cross the road to school, from my balcony, and she's got it in terms of being sensible, cautious and defensive.

3
Sarit
So after I'd already told DD that she can phone Sarit in an emergency. I texted Sarit and said I hoped that was ok. I also said I'd do the same for her son, i.e. go and get him in a taxi if he needed me. I won't print her reply but we exchanged lots of hearts and kisses and expressions of friendship and family. It left me feeling all warm and fuzzy and thankful to have such a special friend close by.

4
The Icing on the Cake
As a by-product of all this shifting around of phones, DD got my old smart phone without the sim card to use as a tablet for playing some games and watching You Tube as it still works on the home wifi. She's not had access to a screen, other than dvds on the tv, since she broke her new tablet after six weeks and then managed to break my spare laptop.

5
The Laptop Dilemma Solved
I know how she broke my spare laptop. She played games on it and was too hard on the keyboard. I'm getting it fixed but I'm reluctant to let DD anywhere near it. Otoh, she needs access to a computer. I thought of buying a desk top which would be sturdier but we live in a small apartment and I really don't want to give up the space for a desktop.

My cousin's son suggested I attach an external keyboard to a laptop for DD to bash away at. Such a simple solution I'm embarrassed not to have thought of it myself.

I have joined the other cheerful bloggers on the linky over at Mich's Mummy from the Heart.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Just Don't Sleep Through Christmas - R2BC

Almost the end of a long Friday and here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week. I'm joining the other cheerful bloggers on the linky over at Mummy from the Heart, as usual. 

DD in one of her art classes. Still in shorts and t-shirt you'll notice. 
1
Sleep
We are constantly hearing about how most of us are sleep deprived. And most of us are feeling it too. 

I read an article about how not enough sleep 'turns off' certain cancer fighting hormones (or somethings) in the body. The researcher who wrote the paper said he gets panicky of he doesn't have his 8 hours a night sleep. He said that 8 hours a night is as essential for good health as a healthy diet and avoiding known toxins like asbestos. 

Well I'm easily persuaded and as it doesn't involve going to the gym or breaking a sweat, I tried it. For a month now I've been resisting the lure of the computer screen and making sure I'm in bed by 10 (10.30 at the latest) every night. I don't know if I'm fighting potential cancer cells successfully, but the knock-on effects are amazing. I'm not tired in the mornings. It's not a struggle to get out of bed. I'm happier to go to work, I function better at work, and I don't eat as much as I did in the longer evenings.

None of this is rocket science of course but it's a revelation to me. It took me a good few days to make myself go to bed so early (for me) when I wasn't even tired, but once it became a habit, I'm loving it. 

2
The Festive Season
It's begun. And I allow it to begin now. I watched a vlog recently where they were already decorating their Christmas tree in the first week of November. One of the comments said that their family had given many sons to the First and Second World Wars and they had suffered more than their share of losses. In respect for their family members who fell and for all the fallen soldiers, they do not start decorating for Christmas until after 11/11. I like this idea. I like it because it shows respect and because it stops Christmas blurring borders with the summer holidays. 

Personally I would like to ban Christmas until December 1st. Let's give full attention to Hallowe'en, Guy Fawkes, and Thanksgiving without them being overshadowed by creeping Christmas. But on Sunday it's the 1st of Kislev, which is the Hebrew month in which Hanuka falls. So even by my own rules, the Festive Season must be allowed to begin. 

We have already been invited to a Thanksgiving Dinner next Thursday. I suggested that the traditional gift to bring would be some blankets infested with smallpox. This didn't go down well. So we shall arrive with wine and redeem ourselves by getting into the spirit of it all. (Although I've already been warned that there is a lot of dessert in the main course.)

3
The Weather
It's holding out. Middle of November and I'm still in sandals. It was 25 degrees C, today in Jerusalem. Warm and balmy. Just right. Of course, 10 years ago we would have been panicking that we've had hardly any rain this season, but now that we have desalination plants no one seems to worry about the water situation anymore. We should though because the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are in danger of drying up completely and where is beauty if not in natural bodies of water? But for now it's nice to be warm and not have to turn the heating on. I have a personal challenge to not use the heating until December 1st. (Not even on Kislev 1st!). 


Thursday, November 9, 2017

I See Music In Our Future - R2BC

It's that time of the week again and though I've been sick for some of it, there are still reasons 2B cheerful. However, because of the sicky, it's a bit of a recap and an update on things already reported. I've joined the linky over at Michelle's Mummy from the Heart, where us cheerful bloggers share the cheer. 



1
Clarinet
DD had her third clarinet lesson, but the first lesson with the full instrument. Ronit had given her ligature (you see we learned the proper name for it) to her teacher and it worked. She came home all excited and exclaiming, "I can play my clarinet! I can play my clarinet!" What she meant was that she could get a sound out of it. Which is 100% improvement on last week when she couldn't get a sound out of it. So her homework is to practice. I've banished practice sessions to her bedroom with the door shut until she can play a tune. That sounds harsher than it is because I'm actually only thinking of the neighbours. DD's bedroom is the only room in the house that only shares a party wall (including ceilings and floors) with one other neighbour instead of three.

After her lesson, and while she was still excited about it, I put on my CD of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. The adagio (the middle bit) is possibly my favourite piece of music of all time. DD complained all the way through that it was boring and she wanted to watch Mama Mia.

A clarinet playing friend called after reading my blog post and offered to give DD help with her technique. He also mentioned that his son had taken clarinet to great levels, eventually necessitating them paying 13,000nis (almost 3,000GBP) for a good clarinet. Mama Mia suddenly sounded like a good idea.

2
Sick Days
I was sick on Sunday and Monday and didn't go to school. I went to college on Tuesday (which is entirely different from teaching in primary school - far less energy involved) so I thought I'd better go back to school on Wednesday. However, I had to leave before the last lesson. I came straight home and went to bed. DD had to fend for herself all evening. She foraged about in the fridge and in the larder for food. Evidence the next morning suggested that she ate crisps, biscuits, and ice-cream for supper. I vaguely remember her coming in to ask me a few times and I just said, "I don't mind, you can have what you like, just no cooking."

Good bye old friend. I'm eating the fibre from now on.
The cheerful connection here is that DD was so good and amused herself  until bedtime. She brought me glasses of cool water when I needed them and the phone when it rang. Eventually I saw all the lights going out and a little voice said, "I'm going to bed now. Shall I turn the light out right away or can I do some sudokus in bed?"

She took the magnets only. She didn't want the books. 
3
Sold
I put some items up for sale on our local facebook selling group. I sold the juicer. Research has convinced me that eating the whole fruit or vegetable is better. More fibre and less fructose. I loved the juices. My friend and I used to call them the nectar of the gods. But you have to follow your head in these things.

I also sold a big bag of magnetic letters, numbers and shapes. It all goes to keep some cash in my purse and will pay for my next bus ticket. Every little helps. And that's two fewer clutter items in our home.

4
Recorder
DD and I both enjoyed playing the recorder last weekend. I'm looking forward to a future of recorder duets.