*Not a post about Adele

Every morning I walk 10 minutes to the bus stop. On my walk I come across the same people nearly every day. 

The security guard from the local supermarket on his way to work.

The two grumpy old Russian men waiting for their bus at another stop.

The various people from our neighborhood walking their dogs.

The street cleaner sweeping up all the autumn leaves on the sidewalk.

And every morning I say hello. To all of them.

Across the street from my house - Image by Paul

Across the street from my house – Image by Paul

Sometimes its just a smile across the road. Sometimes its a hello and a head nod. Sometimes its a hello and a 2 minute chat. And sometimes its a hello that gets totally ignored.

The security guard asks how I am and always makes a joke, he loves speaking English and gets annoyed when I try speak Hebrew with him.

The grumpy old men never answer, just look at me like I’m crazy. I still greet them every single day. One day I will get a smile or even a hello back.

The dog walkers sometimes stop, say hello and let me get some doggy kisses and cuddles.

The street cleaner, without fail, greets me back and wishes me a good day.

I love my morning ritual.



Comfort food

Nothing quiet describes comfort food like a rich stew and rice. 

So when I asked for recipes for a kilo of stewing meat I bought my brother jumped at the chance to give me his mother in laws recipe for Uzbek Plov.

Sealed meat waiting to go back in the pot

Plov is also knows as pilaf and has origins in many different cuisines including Balkan, middle eastern, Asian, East African and Caribbean. 

Caramelising onions

This is a really easy recipe, with minimal fuss in preparation and minimal clean up as its a one pot dish.

Carrots layered over meat

It also looks really good once it is served up.

Uzbek Plov
Serves 6
A traditional Uzbek recipe
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 10 min
  1. 1kg shin (#8 in Israel)
  2. Oil to cover the bottom of the pot
  3. 4 large onions, sliced.
  4. 5 to 6 large carrots, sliced into very thin fingers
  5. Prunes (or a large handful of raisins will do if you dont like prunes)
  6. 2 cups rice
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut the meat into cubes as you would for a stew.
  2. In a big deep pot heat up oil.
  3. When the oil is very hot seal the meat on all sides and remove from the pot.
  4. Add the sliced onions and fry until golden.
  5. Return the meat to the pot with the onions and add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add in the prunes or raisins and mix everything together.
  7. Add enough water to nearly cover the meat and cook for about an hour until the liquid has reduced but not disappeared (the longer you do this part the softer the meat is).
  8. Once the water has reduced place the carrots in one layer over the meat.
  9. Mix salt into the rice to taste then pour the rice over the carrots so again it's one layer.
  10. Now pour water carefully over the rice (I use the back of a spoon so it doesn't make holes in the rice layer) until the water is about 2 cm above the rice.
  11. Cook on high until it bubbles then reduce to medium low heat, cover and let cook for about an hour.
  1. Apparently you can turn the pot over onto a serving plate so you can see all the pretty layers of rice, carrots and meat but I was scared it would go all over the place so we dished up straight from the pot.
A Bit of This A Bit of That http://gnatj.com/

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It’s no rhapsody.

Winter in Israel is rainy. And windy. And wet. And cold. And rainy.

We arrived in Israel in the middle of winter. A few weeks after the kids started school, the babysitter was fetching them and it was a really, really windy, stormy day. So windy that poor little Faith almost got blown away. Since then she has been scared of even the smallest gust of wind.

She is also terrified of storms, especially thunder. So winter is a problem.


We have explained to her that the rain, wind, thunder and lightning are outside and cant come in the house. We have explained that her bedroom is the safest room in the house since it is the shelter. 

She still screams like she is being chased by an ax wielding maniac. She stands there, literally paralysed and shaking in fear. She has landed up in our bed a few times.

How do you get a child over this very real fear? Any ideas are welcome.


Chocolate Chip Condensed Milk Cookies

These are really yummy. Silky and smooth and not too sweet. Enjoy with a cup of coffee.

Chocolate Chip Condensed Milk Cookies
Yields 60
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 1 cup soft butter/marge
  2. 1 tin condensed milk
  3. 2 cups flour
  4. 3 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. Half cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Mix softened butter and condensed milk.
  3. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Roll into small balls and place on a baking tray covered with baking paper.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.
  1. These cookies don't spread so you can place quite a few on each tray.
Adapted from Jen's Favorite Cookies
A Bit of This A Bit of That http://gnatj.com/

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A stolen meme

I’ve seen this going around and thought I would steal it…

1. Are you named after someone?

Yes. My late aunt Natalie, my fathers sister. She was born with a hole in her heart. and she died when she was just 15. She was one of Dr Chris Barnard’s first patients. My full name is Gina-Natalie.

2. When was the last time you cried?

Frustrated tears – A few days ago.

Sad tears – A few months ago.

3. Do you have kids?

Two. Aaron, who is almost 8 (!!) and Faith who is almost 5 (!!).






4. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself? 

I think so. I tend to make friends easily.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Books. I cant stop reading. I walk and read. I walk into things and read.

6. Do you like handwriting?

Mine, not so much. Doctors, definitely not. 

7. What is your favorite cereal?


8. What is the first thing you notice about people?

Their face. No, really. Are they happy, sad, twitching like a crazy person?

9. What color are your eyes?

Green. Dark green.

10. Scary movies or happy endings?

Happy endings. I don’t like horrors but I will watch a psychological thriller. If I’m not alone.

11. Favorite TV show?

Way too many to choose. Right now we are watching Doctor Who, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Flash, Arrow and Supernatural.

12. Summer or winter?

Summer. Much prefer being hot. I can never get warm enough in winter.

13. Hugs or kisses?

Neither? I’m not really a touchy feel-y person. I kiss and hug my children and husband but even then it should be short and sweet.

14. What’s the furthest you’ve been from home?

6462km. That’s the distance between Johannesburg, South Africa and Jerusalem, Israel.

15. Do you have special talents?


16. Where were you born.

The Marymount Maternity home, Kengsington, Johannesburg.

Gina 1

17. What are your hobbies?

Reading, cooking, baking.

18. Do you have any pets?

No, but I would like to adopt an older rescue dog soon.

19. Favorite movie?

Pretty Woman, Rocky Horror Picture Show, anything super hero.

20. What color is your car?

No car. My last car was white though.

21. What did you want to be when you grow up?

An archaeologist.

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So last week I had a small moment, a wobble if you will, where I wanted to shut down all my social media accounts.


I’ve been feeling very disillusioned with humanity in general but especially on social media. I cant handle the images of dead children and mauled animals. I cant stand the self riotous lecturing and sanctimonious bullshit. My eye twitches every time something that is meant to be lighthearted and funny is taken overly seriously.  

I get that there are causes and issues close to peoples hearts (as there are a few close to mine) and I encourage constructive conversations and the sharing of knowledge. What I cant deal with is the ‘I’m right and you’re wrong therefore you’re a bad person and need to be raked over the coals’ mentality.

What happened to engaging with people, to sharing knowledge and learning new things, making friends and having fun? What happened to the ‘social’ in social media?

I took a few days to think about it and have decided that instead of kicking SM to the curb entirely I would rather whittle down the people,  pages and brands that I follow to a more manageable and social level. 

This means brands that are not relevant are going. People that do not know personally and that do not interact with me (and that I do not interact with) are going. People who post images and links to violent and gory stories are going? People on soap boxes are going. People who cant take a joke and want to clutch their pearls and wag their fingers are going.

I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m not. I have moments when I take things too seriously or climb on my own soap box and I’m working on not doing that anymore either. 

I’m pretty sure I will upset more than a few people. Cant be helped though. My mental well being is more important.


Join, switch or cancel…

I’m talking medical aids.

Along with a few others, I wrote a bit about my experience in cancelling our South African medical aid before we left for Israel. You can read about it over here on the Hippo blog.



Seasons and 10 months along.

A few days ago I realised we had been in Israel for 10 months. Let that sink in a moment. We have been here for almost a year. Its gone by in the blink of an eye. I cant even say that sometimes it felt like its been dragging because it hasn’t. Its been like a runaway train.

When we arrived in Israel, winter was in full swing. Freezing cold, windy, rainy. It was over pretty quickly and in the blink of an eye we were in summer. A particularly hot, dusty summer for Israel.

The last few weeks the seasons have been changing. The days getting shorter, the mornings and evenings a bit cooler. Yesterday I left work at 17:25. I stood at the bus stop and realised, while I wasn’t freezing, I was cold. Cold enough to have goosebumps and to bemoan the fact I didn’t have a jersey or a zip up hoodie to throw on over my sleeveless shirt.

Pretty soon I will have to put away my Havaianas (the national summer footwear of every Israeli) and start wearing my boots. I will have to start carrying my coat and my umbrella with me.


While I am enjoying the cooler weather for now, I really am a summer baby. I much prefer the heat to the cold. So I warn you in advance, I will moan and cry and throw many a winter tantrum in the next few months. But winter in Israel is short lived so I’m grateful for that.

In the mean time I’m getting ready to take out our down duvet and preparing to cuddle away the dark mornings in bed.


Living abroad. 

We all know that moving countries and living somewhere new is hard. Webjet SA asked me to give some of my thoughts on the tax and financial aspects of living in Israel. 

Pop on over to their blog to read all about it here.  

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A Titanic competition*.

*This competition is only open to people living in South Africa. 

Who doesn’t love a good saga? Even before Titanic was released in theatres I was entranced by the story. A huge ‘unsinkable’ ship, so many passengers from all over the world. The opulence of the 1st class passengers. The tragedy of it all.

For the first time in South Africa, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition will be shown, first in Johannesburg and then in Cape Town.

2015 Titanic logo copy copy

Those attending will find out about the lives of South Africans that were on board Titanic, learn about passengers and crew members and relive the events of that fatal night.

There is plenty to do and see for all ages. You will be able to see actual artifacts that have been salvaged from the wreckage, recreations of some of the rooms aboard the ship and also learn about the efforts that are taking place to preserve the wreck for future generation.

The organisers have offered me a set of double tickets for myself and a set for my readers to win but since I won’t be able to attend they have kindly allowed me to add my own tickets into the competition. That means I have TWO double tickets to give away to readers in Jozi and Cape Town.

All you have to do to win is tweet the following “I want to win tickets to the #TitanicExpo with @GNat_J & @TitanicExpo!” before the 20th October 2015. Its as simple as that.

Two winners will be drawn randomly and you can either visit the expo in Johannesburg at TheZone@Rosebank from now until 8th November 2015 or in Cape Town at the V&A Waterfront from 27th November 2015 to 14th February 2016.

Good luck!

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