A tale of two photographs

Tuesday was election day here in Israel. That means we got the day off. No school, no work, so once Paul and I had voted, we gathered the kids, hopped on a train and went into Tel Aviv to visit the Eretz Israel Museum.

We wondered around looking at the various exhibits and then we came across the David Rubinger, I Captured the Truth, 1947-1997 exhibit. Being a photography nerd, Paul was fascinated and spent a bit more time in the exhibit than the kids or I. So we headed outside and sat on a bench outside.

Once Paul was done, he headed out of the exhibit and stopped to take a photo of us sitting together.

As he took the photo, the usher for the exhibit came rushing out, ‘No no no, you cannot take a picture there!’ She exclaimed (in Hebrew). Paul started looking for a no picture sign. ‘No’, she said again. ‘You cannot take a picture here, that wall, that wall is old and ugly!’

She then pointed across the courtyard, ‘That is where you must take a picture!’ She was pointing at a shady spot with a colourful flower bed.

‘Here. Here is a pretty wall covered in Jerusalem stone, and look at these beautiful flowers. This is where you must take a photo!’

And then she proceeded to direct us to sit in front of the pretty wall and pretty flowers.

‘No!’ She cried again. ‘Abba (dad), must be in the photo too!’ While taking Paul’s camera out his hands and directing him to sit with us.

She even laid her uniform jacket on the bricks for the children to sit on while shuffling us around to best show off the pretty blooms.

After a few misfires with the camera, and Aaron popping up to show her what to press, she snapped a beautiful family photo of us, and the pretty Jerusalem stone wall and the pretty flowers.

We thanked her and she told us that she had planted those flowers and was very proud of them. We also had a conversation about where we came from, ‘Oh, you are not tourists, why did you make aliyah?’ She told us that she is also an immigrant, from Uzbekistan, and that she came to Israel many years ago. She then took our map and showed us the best exhibits for the children to enjoy and wished us well before going back to the exhibit.

We had a wonderful day, voting, exploring the history of our country and generally relaxing, but the best part of the day for me, was a photo in front of some gorgeous flowers!

I drove a car!

Legally, on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and in the rain.

Its only taken me 4 years and 3 months to convert to an Israeli drivers license but its finally done.

When we first arrived in Israel, the law was that we could drive for 1 year on our SA license and in total we had up to 3 years to convert to an Israeli license. The catch? We needed to do a minimum of 2 driving lessons and a test in order to convert.

Due to pure laziness, lack of spare funds for lessons and a fear of doing the test, I kept putting it off. Then, just before the 3 years were up, I pulled out my SA license only to see it had expired. And in order to actually do the conversion, besides all of the above, your SA license needs to be valid. Oops…

Oh, and did I mention, if you dont convert your license within the required time period, you have to do a theory test, take a minimum of 28 lessons and do the final test.

Yeah, I resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to drive in Israel.

Then, the law changed, now, you have 5 years to convert your license, you dont need to do lessons or a test and the only requirements are a valid SA license and proof that you have been driving for more than 5 years before making aliyah.

And the, in January, I went back to SA to visit my grandfather who had a bad fall. And while I was there, my mommy organised for me to renew my SA drivers license.

She organised for it to be collected and then a friend of my brothers brought it to Israel for me last week and bam! I had a valid license, proof I had been driving for 5 years prior to coming to Israel and I still had 9 months before the 5 year grace period was over.

And as of yesterday I am officially licensed to drive in Israel.

As for driving a car… a colleague insisted that I take her car for a spin around the parking lot this morning. After 4 years of not driving, it was so much fun. Despite the rain and the fact that we drive on the right over here, I think I managed pretty well.

Now to rent a car and start properly exploring this awesome country.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

I was looking for something new to throw over chicken breasts and somehow I came across a teriyaki chicken with home made sauce. Now I cannot for the life of me find that recipe, so in the interest of not forgetting, I am writing it down (from memory so it may not be perfect).

Gratuitous picture of my dog, because I never got a picture of the sauce…
Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 
Course: Side Dish
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar I used coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp corn or potato flour mixed with a bit of cold water to make a watery paste
Instructions
  1. In a small sauce pan, add all ingredients except corn/potato flour paste. Bring to the boil.

  2. Lower heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until sauce begins to reduce.

  3. If you want a thick sauce, now is the time to add the corn/potato flour. Mix well so no lumps for. 

    If you want a thin sauce, leave out this step.

Recipe Notes

Serve as a dipping sauce or pour over chicken breasts, cover and bake.

6 before 40

Yes, I know it’s usually 40 before 40. But I know me, that will never happen, even if its 40 small things.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t freaked out. I am. Totally. Freaked. Out.

I don’t know why. I still feel like I’m in my 20’s. My skin thinks it’s in my teens. My body is definitely closer to 40 than I would like it to be. But all in all, I don’t *feel* like I’m almost 40.

So in pre-celebration, I think I will attempt a 6 before 40, 1 a month for the next 6 months. In no particular order…

  • Get out and run. At least 2 or 3 times a week for 20 minutes or so. With the aim of running another 5km race at some point in the next 6 months.
  • Get a new ear piercing, either an Upper Lobe, Helix or a Tragus, or maybe a combo.
  • Get a massage. A full body, hour and a half, including reflexology, massage. I haven’t had one of those in years and I miss it.
  • Buy a pair of high heels. I’ve not worn, nor owned a pair of heels in at least 6 years. I want a pair of really pretty, delicate, fancy heels.
  • Spend a night at a hotel on my own. Just me, room service and my Kindle.
  • Start my pallet herb garden on my balcony, those pallets have been sitting there for almost 2 years, its time!

So, those are my goals. Maybe not anything too exciting, but nothing that is out of my reach either.

Recipes for my husband

My grandfather is not well and it was time for a short trip back to SA to see him and help my mom.

So I’ve left my husband and kids to fend for themselves until Sunday.

As we were planning the trip, Paul suddenly turned around and asked where I get the recipes I use to make dinners etc. I looked at him and pointed at my head.

So, in the interest of keeping them fed and to stop them from eating sausages and corn schnitzel for a week, I thought I would write down some of the daily recipes I use.

Honey Mustard Chicken Breasts
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 
Course: Main Course
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 1 kg boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 180C

  2. In a small bowl, mix mustard, honey, salt, pepper and oil

  3. Place breasts in a dish or foil roaster and cover with the honey mustard mix

  4. Cover dish with foil and place in oven to bake for 30 minutes

  5. At 30 minutes, uncover the chicken and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes or more until done.

Recipe Notes

Serve with rice or couscous.

Chicken Schnitzel
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 
Course: Main Course
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 1 kg chicken schnitzel
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup flour
  • spices
Instructions
  1. Take out two plates and a large flat bowl

  2. On the first plate, our out some flour, on the second plate pour out some breadcrumbs, mix the spices into the breadcrumbs

  3. In the bowl, crack both eggs, add some water and mix well

  4. In a pan, heat some olive oil

  5. Take a piece of chicken and dip it in the flour so that both sides are covered

  6. Dip the floured chicken in the egg mixture so both sides are coated

  7. Now dip the egged chicken in the breadcrumbs so both sides are coated

  8. Place the chicken in the hot oil and coat the next piece of chicken

  9. After about 5 minutes turn the first pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for a further 5 minutes, you should fit 2 or 3 pieces in each pan depending on the size of the pieces

  10. Remove chicken from oil and place in the oven (on 100C) to keep warm

  11. Add a bit more oil to the pan and carry on frying until no chicken is left

  12. Mix any leftover breadcrumbs, flour and egg into a paste and make small patties that you can fry for a few minutes at a time (the kids love these)

Recipe Notes

You can also bake the schnitzel in the oven if you dont want to fry it. 

Heat the oven to 180C.

Place each piece of breaded chicken onto a baking tray (covered with a baking sheet),  1kg of chicken will take up both baking trays.

Spray the chicken with olive oil spray.

Place the chicken in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

How cool is the schnitzel Paul made?!!!
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
Prep Time
10 mins
 
Course: Main Course
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 1 kg boneless, skinless, chicken breasts Defrosted!
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • pinch salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Place onion, garlic, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, salt and pepper in the slow cooker and mix well

  2. Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker and toss to coat with the sauce

  3. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set on low

  4. After about 3 hours, turn the chicken pieces over and continue cooking for another 3 hours

  5. After about 6 hours (total), turn off the slow cooker and with 2 forks, shred the chicken and mix with the sauce

Recipe Notes

Serve on rolls or over rice

Homemade Pizza
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 
Course: Main Course
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
Instructions
  1. Place yeast, water and sugar in the bowl of the mixer

  2. Once the yeast has started to foam (about 5 minutes), add all the other ingredients and mix on high until the dough forms a ball

  3. The dough should be firm and not sticky, if its too sticky, add some flour, if its too dry, add a bit of water

  4. Once the dough is ready, cover the bowl with plastic and a cloth and let sit for an hour

  5. Roll out balls of dough, cover in tomato sauce, cheese and toppings and bake for 20 minutes at 180C

Hopefully they don’t starve or turn into sausages. And I will be back before they k ow it.

4 years

Another year has flown by. We’ve had our ups and downs. Mostly ups though.

Paul started a new job, we adopted a rescue dog, the kids are thriving.

My Hebrew still sucks and we still don’t have a drivers license between us, but my resolutions for the new year are to sort those two things out.

Every year here seems to be better than the last, so here is to a fantastic upcoming year!

I ran* 5 km and didn’t die. Yay me!

*I think I ran about 50% of the time, the rest I alternated power walking and just trying to remain upright and forward moving.

A few months ago I decided to register for the 14th Modiin Run, 5 km.

I figured I would have some time to train before the race, I would wake up early (are you laughing yet) and take myself for a half hour jog/run around the various parks in  my neighbourhood a few times a week and all would be good.

Yeah, I woke up early once, ran 600 m around our nearest park, and never trained again.

In hindsight, even running a few kilometers once or twice a week in the months leading up to the race would have helped tremendously.

But, no point lamenting the fact I didn’t train, it is what it is.

On Friday morning, I woke up, got dressed, drank my coffee and took a slow 2 km stroll to the start of the race. I figured that slow walk would be a good warm up. I got there the recommended hour before the start and walked about, checking out the vendors and other bits and bobs that had been set up in a nearby park.

I posted a pic of my race number and got a great deal of really awesome encouragement from my friends in the computer. Thanks you all by the way, it was a great motivator. I then met up with a friend and we made our way to the start of the race.

I would just like to state, for future record, what I should have done, somewhere in that hour I was wondering around, was find the port-a-potties and gone to the bathroom. I only realised I needed to pee 2 minutes before the start of the race. Running on a full bladder is not recommended. Also a great motivator to finish quickly!

Anyway. There was a great vibe at the start, music pumping, people laughing and smiling and taking selfies. And off we went. I lost my friend within the first few 100 meters, she was a tad faster than me. I figured I would take the start slowly and not use up all my energy at the beginning. Good plan, the start was on a slight uphill!

Once we got to the main road the pack thinned out a bit and I decided to find a few people in the group around me and use them to pace myself. In particular I found a mom and her two boys and decided to pretend that her encouragement for her kids was for me too. Worked a charm and I managed to keep up with them for almost the entire race.

The 2nd half of the race was where I hit a bit of a snag. As we came around the loop and turned towards home, my right butt muscle went into spasm. OUCH! For a moment I even considered stopping at one of the ambulances on the route but decided to just tough it out, I waddled for about a kilometer while rubbing my knuckles into my butt cheek. I must have looked a sight!

And then the final stretch. I walked the small uphill and as I crested it, I could see the finish line. I made an effort to actually run that last 200 meters and to finish with a smile on my face (I was not going to have a bad finish photo) and bam, 5 km done. I will admit to hobbling to the nearest place to sit my butt down and thinking that I was probably not going to stand up again.

I finished in just under 43 minutes (my official time is listed as 00:42:38) and I’m pretty happy and really impressed with that, considering I did no training.

The race organisation was excellent.  Everything started on time. Routes were well laid out. There was plenty of water at the water stations. And at the end of the race we were given water, ice lollies and fresh fruit.

I’m not sure I will do the 5 km again next year, mainly because I want to do the 1.8 km event with the kids as a family. Paul on the other hand is now keen to do the 5 km next year.  I’m also not sure I will be doing anymore official races, but never say never, I might still be persuaded.

Chastely Bitten – A Book Review

Title: Chastely Bitten
Author: Lexi C. Foss
Series: Blood Alliance Series
Genre: Romance, Paranormal Romance
Stars: *****
Goodreads
Amazon

Once upon a time, humankind ruled the world while lycans and vampires lived in secret.
This is no longer that time. 
 

Juliet

It is my duty to obey, to give my body and blood to a vampire master until he no longer has use for me.

There is no escape.
Nowhere to run.
Follow the rules or die.
I don’t want to die.

Darius

Twenty-two years of conditioning has crafted the perfect poison–a weapon my enemies won’t see coming. I’ll break her, train her, and use her to take down everyone who stands in my way.

She’s alluring.
She’s perfect.
And she’s mine.

Welcome to the future where the superior bloodlines make the rules.
Proceed at your own risk.

My Review

This is the supernatural world I’ve been waiting for. 

A world where vampires, and lycans, rule and humans are the bottom of the food chain. 

I adore Darius and Jace but its Juliet who captured my heart. Her journey from pet to powerful was breathtaking and I’m looking forward to seeing her appearances throughout the rest of this series.

Speaking of which. Lexi C. Foss has crafted a world so rich and nuanced that the potential for new stories is almost limitless. Which I wholeheartedly approve of. 

I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in this fantastic new series.

Immortal Curse – A Book Series Review

Title: Immortal Curse Series – Books 1-3 
Author: Lexi C. Foss
Series: Immortal Curse
Genre: Romance, Paranormal Romance
Stars: *****
Goodreads
Amazon

Award Winning & Bestselling Series – Read the first three books NOW!

Welcome to a world of cursed immortals, broken rules, and eternal love…

Blood Laws

The lines between charade and reality blur as a dark romance brews between two unlikely soulmates…

Stas isn’t your average human. She can bend others to her will, a psychic talent she’s kept hidden since the brutal murder of her parents.

Issac isn’t human at all. He’s an immortal masquerading as one of New York City’s hottest bachelors while secretly seeking revenge against a former ally.

A fateful meeting ends in a seductive proposition: He’ll teach her more about her gifts if she agrees to play girlfriend to his billionaire persona.

As their lives intertwine, secrets are exposed and passion ignites. It’s a bond built to last a lifetime, if they’re willing to risk everything to protect it.es

Forbidden Bonds

Exile never felt so good. . .

Tom’s a trained sniper, not a babysitter. He kills rogue immortals for a living, but after releasing classified information to a friend, he’s banished to a remote location with the CRF’s most prized asset.

Can two tortured souls find solace and love in one another?

Secrets unfold as Tom forms a forbidden relationship with his new charge. The immortal woman evokes memories and feelings long forgotten, and forces him to question everything he’s ever known.
Sacrifices must be made.

A rash decision sends them both running for their lives as immortal enemies vie for their heads.

Some bonds are meant to be broken.

Blood Heart

Asset File 4-7: Elizabeth Watkins
Genotype: Non-Human

That’s the only information Jayson Masters has about his newest assignment. To learn more, he’ll need to infiltrate her life in the most intimate of ways without getting too close.

Game on.

Lizzie’s new neighbor is loud, seductive, and ridiculously attractive. And he keeps flirting with her. With the recent death of a close friend hanging over her head, Lizzie tentatively agrees to a new friendship in hopes of ignoring her broken heart.

A web of lies isn’t sustainable forever.

And sometimes love isn’t enough.

An immortal war is brewing, and she’s the key…

My Review

Buyer Beware: Book Hangover Imminent

I adore the Immortal Curse world.

Lexi C. Foss has created a rich and unique world that is full of intrigue, romance, magic, hot heroes and strong heroines.

I’m off to buy the next books in the series!

Necessity is the mother of invention. Or is it just dumb luck?

I keep seeing adverts on Facebook for Buckle-less belts.

Now, I hate belts, mainly because I hate anything pressing on my stomach and I also hate the bulge a buckle makes under my t-shirts, so when I saw this I thought ‘Amazing, sounds perfect, lets take a look.’ Then I saw the price. Roughly $25, not including shipping, is a bit much for a belt. At least it is for me.

https://www.freebelts.co/products/adults

So I gave up on my dream of keeping my pants up without hassle and then… Then I walked into a local home ware store and found elasticated sheet clip holder thingies.

And I admit, the whole belt thing wasn’t even on my mind, I just really wanted the clips to hold my fitted sheet on, since my fitted sheets are bigger than my mattress.

But then I got home and took one of the clips out of the packet and inspiration struck. 

I could use the clip as a buckle-less belt. And I did. And it worked. And its the best thing ever! And it only cost $4!!

Check it!

Its not quite the same, but it works, my pants no longer fall down and I dont have a buckle showing under my t-shirt.

I’m super proud of myself. Even if one corner of my fitted sheet keeps coming untucked.