Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cold In The Middle East

it's 10 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. it is absolutely freezing. we are having another major winter storm. the wind is blowing the outside furniture around. i heard a huge crash before and i figured it was the highchair smashing into the wall. i later found out that a few of the roof tiles had blown off and the debris was strewn all over the yard. it is a miracle that none of us were outside when it happened.

i spent the day with my 2 month old grandaughter, shenhav. if you sit with her on your lap all day, while you watch televsion, it is fairy easy. she drinks her bottle, eventually burps, then poops and then goes back to sleep. she even smiles at you and seems to be really paying attention to your every word. i could almost swear that she told me that she loves me today.

as easy as the day seemed to go, i realized that i got absolutely, nothing done. i had great expectations of doing all my baking for purim. Ha! ha! i spent the entire day watching the boob tube and rocking my little shenhav. i was officially relieved of my duty at around 3;30 p.m. i went upstairs to cook up a batch of apple walnut relish. i read about this dish on a sephardi recipe site. it called for raisins so i ran to the store yesterday and splurged on a large bag of yellow raisins. i was going to make cranberry and almond couscous too, but i wasn't going to splurge on another expensive bag of dired fruit. the raisins will just have to get us through purim.

the apple relish called for mustard seed. of course, i don't have any. i actually went to town last week to seek out where to buy some. i was not suceesful. i went downstairs to see if the kids had any mustard about. that also proved futile. i ran next store in a near blizzard, to ask my english neighbor to lend me some. i figured that she would probably have some fancy dijon. as it turned out, she had dried mustard seeds. i guess she makes a lot of curry, too.

the relish is very tasty. i think it is something that will improve it's flavor by the time purim arrives. i also made an apricot filling for hamentashen. that's all i managed to do before i had to watch my grandson. i was really starving so i had two cans of tun fish. i've never done that before. i did lose a few kilos recently, so i have to be extra vigilent not to binge on or after purim. i came back upstairs and decided to make the chocolates. i used white chips and added a bit of irish creme essence. the white chips are a hassle to melt because they're not real chocolate. i made about 6 giant purim clown lollypops and a few dozen mini purim masks, groggers and hamentashen.

i also used a bag of dark chips and it was a breeze. i added coffee essence to the batch. i bought two really good 60% chocolate bars that i will use for the ladies' night. i wanted to complete the baking tomorrow, but it seems that i'm on call again with shenhav. i already made a poopy seed cake. i substituted rye for white flour, oil for butter and soy drink for milk. i think i also substituted healthy for tasty. someone in the crowd will appreciate a rye cake.

i can always bake on sunday or even monday. i'm going to a purim party on tuesday at the seniors' center. i was thinking of going as a nurse but that might frighten someone. i just might go in 'drag' as a chassidic rabbi. on wednesday, which is a fast day, i will probably cook. i do my best work when i'm not tasting it. after the fast is over, we go to shul to hear the megilah. then we women will party. on thursday morning we go to hear the megilah again. in the afternoon we have a feast and get drunk. the men go to hear the megilah at night, once again.

i decided to make persian style brown rice for the women. i want to make both, red and brown lentils; each a tad spicier. i decided to make hot irish coffee. i nearly froze today just reading the directions for making ice coffee. i am going to make a pitcher of screwdrivers and a sweet wine sangria. i don't think i will freezing anything. i simply, do not have the freezer space and it's just too darn cold.

i plan on serving humus, spicy canned tuna in tomato sauce, salmon spread, onion and sour cream dip and guacamole. i might make a spicy tomato relish too. i have potato chips, tortia chips, buckwheat cakes, and sesame crackers. i bought small quantities of everything, but i think it will be enough. i also will serve non gluten carrot muffins and hamentashen, yet to be baked. i am planning on baking tahina cookies and peanut butter snaps. i am also going to make peanut butter fudge balls and rice crispy clusters. are we partying yet? i figure, that with all these goodies, i'll be able to put together a few party bags for the neighbors.

i still have to make shabbat this week. in this weather the kids want to stay home. i'd love to be able to cook tomorrow. with shenhav on my lap, it soesn't look all that promising. to think that when i was a new mom, i could flip a pancake, or fry chips with one hand, hold the baby in the other, while i nursed him. those were the days! i won't even drink a coffee while i'm holding the baby now. memories!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hyper In Zefat

it is 7:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. i've been out and about all day long doing 'purim' errands. i am happy to report that my eye is much better. it was a warm and sunny day. you didn't need a coat. i ran around town in a sweat jacket.

i paid off the water bill first thing in the morning. it was empty and i was in and out of the office in a flash. you usually, sit there for over an hour. i went on to the toy store to buy costume nurse props. my daughter in law saw some in town. i had a real nurse uniform for her and a doctor's lab coat for my son. i was able to buy name plates so i bought israeli stick on letters and made up names for them. the nurses's package came with a cap, frilly apron and yellow plastic stethoscope. it is really cheezey! it looks more like a french maid's costume than a nurse. she'll be happy, anyway.

the nurse kit was an american halloween costume so i had to cover up the red cross with the star of david, which is the symbol of our israeli first aid, here. are we having fun? i even made a small pooch first aid kit for my friend's dog, beena. i am on a roll! i bought two new halloween wigs because they were having a sale. i thought that my son the 'doctor' wold look funny in a small black afro wig. and his wife, the 'nurse' would look great in a 40's look. i hope they like what i have created for them.

i ran to the bakery, where i have been buying rice flour, to stock up for purim. i intend to make some gluten free hamentashen. i stopped off at the kitchenware's store to buy some party napkins, and plastic dessert dishes to give out goodies for purim. i was in purim la la land for hours. i truly thrive in purim land. it is my true calling.

in the meanwhile, my friend, whom i had visited first thing that day, was waiting for me to come back for lunch. she had prepared an omelette for us. by the time i got back, she was on her way to a job and the omelette was nearly petrified. it looked like a halloween prop. she didn't want to eat anymore and was agitated and quite upset. i simply, cannot be held accountable when i'm doing my 'purim thing'. nonetheless, i sat down, gulped down a cup of coffee, and wolfed down the entire dish of eggs. i was starving. i didn't have a job to go to. i did help my friend shop for someone in the health food store and accompanied her, carrying a flat of eggs, all the way to her destination across town.

last night, i emailed the list of you tube clips of queen esther to someone who knows how to download them into a dvd. hopefully, he will do it this evening. it was amazing to discover that in 2006, an epic movie about the story of purim was made. it was called 'one night with the king'. who knew? it is a ridiculous hollywood love story with a biblical theme. i guess it's like charlton heston playing moses. i found the trailer and it will make for a lot of fun on purim night. i also found the dinner scene from 'for your consideration'. this was a christopher guest film about the oscars. it has a movie,'home for purim' within the movie. it is truly hilarious.

after i dropped the eggs off for my friend, i went over to the supermarket. i bought more paper goods for purim and some spreads i can serve the ladies. the prices were extremely high. i bought potatoes, fish, lettuce and veggies, in case the kids are coming for shabbat. i also bought a few bottles of inexpensive wine to make sangria. i bought white and dark chocolate chips to make purim shapes. i also bought peanut butter to make healthy carob fudge. i bought a humongous bag of rice krispies, because thay were out of the small ones. i have a recipe for chocolate, peanut butter clusters. i can always give the kids the rest of the cereal. and i can give some clusters to the neighbors for purim.

i finally put away my groceries. i want to make tahina sesame cookies and apple sesame cookies for purim. if i have any left over peanut butter, i'll make cookies with it. i did buy the small jar. i wanted to make date filling for the hamentashen but i forgot to buy the dates. i can start with poppy seed. i don't know why i bother at all. my hamentashen are not greatly received. i even bought a bag of white flour this year. why torture everyone with rye and whole wheat??

i didn't buy any booze this year. i couldn't afford a bottle of rum. i have one cup of baccardi left and i am going to make myself a bottle of pina coladas for the day time. there will be no rum balls this year. i have about the same amount left of good vodka and i am planning on making a pitcher of screwdrivers for the day, too. i have about a cup left of the dewars whiskey from last purim, and i am going to make up a bunch of frozen 'irish coffee' for the ladies on wed. night. i will also serve sangria. if the boys want to drink they can have the araq, the potent licorice like booze. i stay clear of it after having had a black out many, many, years ago.

my son tried on his costume and he looked completely hysterical in the black afro wig with the long white lab coat and stethoscope. we all had a well deserved hearty chuckle. my daughter in law even put on tiny pink sunglasses on the baby girl. sahar, not wanting to be outdone, put on a pair of sunglasses shaped like beer glasses. is it purim yet? let's face it, right after purim, it's cleaning for pesach once again.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I'm In A Purim State Of Mind

it is 3:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. i spent the day yesterday, sitting in the hot sun and i think i suffered some form of sun poisoning. my face was slightly burnt and i was quite swollen under my eyes. my right eye, which is my bad eye, is completely infected; red, swollen and pussy. are we having fun yet?

i decided to throw a renegade purim party for 'mature' women next wednesday nite. that means that we don't want to go to the traditional party at the chabad house. we are done with the censorship, the kids, and the younger gals. we want to let our hair down. or in my case, wear a funny and outrageous wig. i am going for the glamorous miami senior citizen, wearing hawaiin dressing gown look. you gotta be here to see it. i have a long, bright cherry red purim wig that matches the orange house dress. i bought it last year and didn't use it. i even have matching leis. one for the head and one for the neck. i bought a very funny set of huge slip on rubber feet with painted bright toe nails to finish off the look. it's a real sight gag.

i've been hyper active lately, looking for costumes, surfing the net for more recipes and queen esther videos. i wanted to start baking hamentashen today but i can't do anything with my bad eye. i hope it will get better soon. i have already been rejected by 3 people this afternoon. i hope i'll get a respectable amount of ladies for the party. i really need to party at night. i, for sure, will be on beck and call with the kids the next day.

i am a bit scattered right now. there are props and costumes all over the place. there are recipes and scraps of notes everywhere. tomorrow, i will have to make a list of what i really need to buy and prepare for purim. i need to settle my bill with the water company and i have a dental appointment on tuesday. it will all work out in the end, i'm sure.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Are We Having Fun?

it is 8:30 a.m. in the holy city of zefat. today is the first day of the month of adar. it is the month of simcha. purim is in another couple of weeks. we are traditionally, suppossed to increase our joy each day of the month. i was invited to a ladies' gathering this morning for the occassion. i also, thought about going to the seniors' center. for sure, they are having a party.

instead, i am at home brewing about my recent electric bill. we received an outrageous bill for nearly 1000 dollars. i am on a fixed stipend of about 600 dollars a month. i also got a whopping telephone bill for about 150 dollars. i still have an outstanding 200 dollar water bill and i owe the dentist 2000 dollars for a partial plate. i am feeling really pressured and scared.

i spent the morning yesterday on the phone with my daughter in law and her mother. they were on the phone with the electric company. they had me running outside to read the meter, in the freezing cold. then i was instructed to conduct a meter test. yes, i had to turn off all of the electricity for a half an hour, and then run back ouside to see if the meter had moved.

neither my daughter in law, nor her mother believed that the bill was correct. they both said that we could not have used that much electrcity. i checked the inside meter, that was installed for the downstairs usage, and it indeed, seems like the kids used almost 600 dollars worth of electricity. no one will accept this calculation. they would rather believe that i cannot read a simple meter. they would rather believe that it is all my fault for over using the hot water heater for them.

the kids have not been giving me money lately because they are in debt from their store. i simply, cannot afford to pay for their water and electrcity usage. they are putting the entire burden on my shoulders. they refuse to cop to their part in these bills. the irony of it all, is that i don't heat my house except when they come for shabbat meals. i spend a fortune, also, heating up the water for their showers. i sit here all crawled up under my comforter with the dogs and hardly ever shower. i still have to pay an enormous amount of money.

yesterday, my son threatened, once again, to move out. he had the audacity to accuse me of trying to pass the buck onto them. i should get off my behind, put on a silly wig, and go to a rosh chodesh party, now. i know that getting depressed will not help anything. i cannot afford to throw in the towel right now. i do not want to take out another bank loan, either. perhaps the kids will get the message when the electricity is turned off. they are getting away with murder and i am feeling helpless, as usual.

i went out a litle while ago to look for the dogs. cloey the fat dog, was 'perched' dangerously, on the edge of a very high and narrow wall. she was barking at a cat until i came over. the cat ran away and cloey couldn't maneuver her way around the wall back into the garden. i tried to squeeze her through the metal fence. she actually, got stuck. i was in a panick. the dog seemed to be hyperventilating. i had visions of calling the fire department. they charge a fortune here for coming. it is not free. the last thing i needed was another bill that i cannot afford to pay.

somehow, the dog managed to get through to the other side of the fence. i climbed onto the wall and scooped her up by her neck collar. i was afraid that she might strangle during my rescue attempt. luckily, i got her out of danger and back into the house, alive. we were definately, both traumatized for a while. i am so sick of having to deal with pet issues.

the sun came out so i decided to do the laundry. it suddenly got warm. my nerves are pretty frazzled. i went into the garden, and picked up all the rotting fruit that was strewn all over the grass. i completely forgot that it is customary to refrain from laundry and other mundane activities on rosh chodesh. i am very much out of the loop these days. i did intend to go to the womens' party until i got caught up with retrieving the darn dog.

the kids want to do a joint purim seudah this year. they want to include a few young couples, a few little children and gal's sisters. are we having fun yet? that means, that my buddies won't want to come and i will get stuck preparing most of the food. i will have to put the dogs out onto the porch area and they will bark all day long. i am planning on getting very drunk. i am not a happy camper.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Costumes Galore

it is nearly 8:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. i just completed making a denim cowboy vest for my 2 year old grandson. i bought a cheap felt cowboy hat and a paisley neckerchief to complete the look. i cut up an old cowboy style shirt of my mom's and sewed on the fringes to his jeans and a bit on to the vest. i bought a small gun sans caps, i have a gun holder from last year when i dressed up my 24 year old married boy.

a cowboy costume without the hat cost around 80 shekels. the vest alone, some type of vinyl plastic, was about 45 shekels. i spent a total of 45 shekels. the sum includes a flannel western shirt, cowboy hat, gun, kerchief and denim dress. yes, i bought a denim smock dress in a second hand store for 10 shekels. it was actually brand new. i cut it down to make a vest. i added a bit of white fringe and some striped fur material. i sewed on two tin sheriff stars left over from last year. the bottom of the dress had a denim fringe. i resowed the fringe to the bottom of the vest and voila! an original cowboy costume.

i spent 48 shekels to make a costume for the baby. a fairy outfit for a newborn was about 139 shekels. a flower costume one piece stetchie, was about 70 shekels. i bought a costume dress for 29 shekels and a couple of hairbands. i added flowers from one hairband to the dress and used the other as a headress.

i bought a black ninja karate outfit for only 10 shekels and turned it into a chassidic frock for my nephew. i bought a costume streimel with peyot for 20 shekels. so another costume for only 30 shekels. i had a clown outfit in the closet. i bought a straw hat for 3 shekels and some shiny heart appliques for 5 shekels and we had one more costume for less than 10 shekels.

i don't know if i suddenly got cheap this year or if i simply, didn't want to support the outlandish prices. i really do enjoy finding inexpensive clothing and turning them into costumes. i like making one of a kind custom costumes. it's really a kick for me. now that the kids' costumes are out of the way, i have another few weeks to decide what i'm going to dress up as. i'm leaning towards chassid. i might go hawaiin. i have a robe, and a couple of lais. i saw these very funny plastic feet slippers. it might be a hoot. we shall see closer to the time.

in the meantime, it's back to the kitchen to check on the chicken soup that i'm making for my 25 year old baby who's got the flu. some things never change.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dreams Can Come True

it is 8:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat. i am up bright and early this morning because i want to bring over a few items to my sister before i go to the dentist. she is travelling to india this morning. her daughter sarah gave birth to a girl yesterday. she named her after our mom. we all cried for joy. it was very emotional.

this is the fifth grandchild that was born in the 3 year period since mom passed away. my niece is chabad and they have the custom of naming their children after the rebbis and family of their sect. my son and wife have gone the esoteric hebrew biblical route in naming their children. i truly, never dreamed that my mom would have a namesake. i had made peace with that. just like i don't expect them to name their future child after me, zelda.

mom went by her popular american name, jeanette. her jewish name was 'charna'. she told us sometime before she died that her father had always called her 'cherna'. he had a different dialect from his wife. mom prefered his version. from that day forward we called her 'cherna'. surprisingly, both versions were noted on her ketuba. we put 'cherna' on her grave stone.

yesterday evening, i went to a dream workshop. my friends' twin sister came to visit her. she is a respected pyscho drama and dream therapist in florida. i mistakenly, thought the workshop was about realizing one's dreams and goals. it was actually, about confronting and understanding one's dreams. you know, you have an idealic dream about having a baby and after this process you come away with the realization that your grown up son is a piece of work.

i was a bit tired and didn't fully participate in the process. i couldn't even remember having had a dream in ages. i guess one needs a fair amount of rem sleep first. i don't remember the last time i had a good sleep, either. i guess i was counting on a 'dreams come true' ophrah winfrey type of seminar. you know, the one where someone gives you a wad of cash, or a new car, or a ticket to your favorite concert. i think i watch way too much television.

anyway, i'm on my way to the dentist to continue the 'dream' of getting my mouth put back in order. i dream that i will have a long and loving relationship with my new niece 'cherna geula' and that someday, i will be able to truly spoil this namesake with presents. in the meanwhile, i will send over the purim costumes that i made with a purim cd and dream that i'll be able to send them some money in the future.

may all our dreams be fulfilled now!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Getting Ready For Purim

it is 1:30 a.m. in the holy city of zefat. i've been at home, sick, for the last two days. before that i pulled 2 all nighters and i guess i paid the price. i've started going to the dentist to try and get my mouth put back in order. it isn't a pretty story.

i've lost another 3 teeth and will probably be in dentures in a few years. in the meanwhile, i am having a plate made. i thought about implants, but at this rate, i can no longer afford them. i also don't want to have screws in my mouth. i had my teeth cleaned and i survived. i actually, felt empowered, afterwards. i am going to have all the spaces filled so hopefully, i will want to smile again.

i started a diet and actually, lost a couple of kilos. then along came tu b'shvat. i had my annual sedar and kept it small this year. i let go and had a lot of dried fruit. my belly immediately, puffed out again. i made an unusual spread this year. i worked on the food for hours at end. i spent weeks buying the many varieties, and looking up recipes.

i did a pesach like cleaning job the day before the sedar. it was unseasonably warm and sunny. i spent the entire day doing my laundry and washing my floors. i had to watch my grandson from 5:00 p.m. in the evening until 2 a.m. i let him fall asleep with me in front of the televison. i was way too tired to struggle getting him to sleep in his own bed. he really wanted to come upstairs and sleep with me in one of the guest bedrooms. he loves playing with the switch on the wall and turning on and off the light.

this year, i found dried nectarines. i made a hot and spicy chutney from them. it wasn't a big hit but i sure liked it. i made chai tea spiced dried peaches. they tasted much better after a couple of days, marinating. i made a fresh tangerine and fennel salad with tossed pistashio nuts. i made a savory butter roasted pan of assorted nuts. they were way too delicious! the chestnut soup was gormet as usual. i actually, used the right amount of chestnuts this year. i made mini low fat, sugar free and non gluten cherry muffins for the health conscious crowd. i also made a carob and coconut soufle'. it had the texture of a regular cake.

i served a creamy goat cheese that went well with all the fruit and nuts. i managed to serve more than the required 30 varieties. i love this holiday! we all got drunk on the wine and sugar. we laughed and we sang and we were loose. it was a lovely evening. earlier in the day, we had a monster storm. i didn't think anyone would come out. but they did and we all had a great time.

now i'm in purim mold. i bought an inexpensive costume princess dress in town and i played around with it to fit the baby. i added flowers and made a fancy headband for her too. i bought a cowboy hat for my grandson and turned a pair of his jeans into fringed cowboy pants. i have to go to a used clothing store and buy a small vest. i have animal fur like material to sew onto the vest completing the costume.

i found a small ninja costume in town for only 10 shekels. i was most inspired. most of the 'cheap' costumes these days are starting at 60 shekels. the more expensive ones are almost 200 shekels. i paid 29 shekels for the princess dress and another 10 shekels for 2 hairbands. i decided to turn the 2 piece ninja costume into a chassidic frock for my great nephew in india. i bought a little costume streimel with attached peyos for 20 shekels. i managed to cover up the ninja insignias with material from the mask. i added some velvet material around the collar and voila!

i have to make shabbat meals for the kids this week. i don't know if i'll be up to it tomorrow. i couldn't do more than defrost the chicken and fish today. i thought about going to the supermarket in the evening but it was raining again and i had the chills. at least, the house is still clean.

we have had an invasion of rats this week. we caught 4 in one week. this evening my son and a friend bashed the rat to death with a metal broom handle. i disposed of the carcus and cleaned up the blood. too bad, the broom broke in two. the dog didn't seem to keen on catching it. what a great way to bond with one's family!

we are in the middle of a general strike so i can't call the city to come and drop some poison in the sewer outside. i can't pick up a package that my sister sent at the post office, either. i can't get some direct payment forms in the bank that i need or sign up at unemployment. what a mess! shabbat shalom!