Gefilte Fish Out of Water

Let’s Go Vegetarian!
May 22, 2010, 1:30 pm
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So, as I was winding down my 12-day cleanse, I had tea one night w/ my friend Matan.  Besides being a fascinating and brilliant soldier, Matan is also a vegetarian.  And now, so am I. 

Boy talks a good game, what can I say?  Look, besides to lose weight, the whole point of my MC was to reboot my relationship w/ food.  I wanted a clean break and “do-over” from my behavior of using cookies, cake, and ice cream to escape feelings of anxiety and/or lonliness.  So, I knew I wanted to eat better.  I didn’t plan on that meaning cutting out chicken and fish (I already didn’t eat very much red meat).  But I did know I didn’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.

But, if you take away the meats, and fruits & veggies are one of the only things left you can eat, then you will probably eat more of them or die.  (Welcome to my mind.)

Anyway, when the student is ready the teacher appears.  So, I bookmarked a few sites, including this one which had a lists of 20 ingredients for 20 vegetarian meals and also 20 pantry staples for every vegetarian.  And I went back to the Shuk, the supermarket and the dollar store, and spent a fortune.  (Another part of my twisted thinking: if I spend a bunch of money on something, I am going to commit to it.  Way to make my cheapness work for me!)  I bought kilos of peppers, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and other veggies.  I bought grams of crushed red pepper, thyme, dill, spicy curry, ginger and other spices.  I bought bowls, spice jars, rubber spoons, and a big ole’ toaster oven (also a printer/scanner, but that was totally unrelated).  You see, I wasn’t just jumping into vegetarianism, but also cooking, which I don’t didn’t do.  Double whammy.  Very Scotty behavior.

Anyway, so far so good.  G-Fish is *not* morphing into a food blog, but here’s a step-by step pictorial of my first few dishes.

Veggie, cheese omelete – omelets are one thing I have alwasy cooked.  But I usually just lathered a little salsa and black & crushed red pepper in there.  This time I used the veggies in the top picture.  Guess what, with only two eggs, that is *way* too much veggies to be able to close and make an omelet.  So, voila!  Make that scrambled-eggs-somethere-in-there-buried-underneath-mountains-of-vegetables!

Take it from me - do *not* rub your eyes after handling a raw jalepeno pepper!


Hot & Spicy Tofu

Is corn flour the same thing as corn starch?

OMG, just like Rachel Ray, right?

Egg timer is cute

Evil Petey dreams of new things of mine to destroy. Actually, cute how he likes to be near me all the time.

Finished product! (Guess I should have rice or couscous w/ it, but gimme a break, m'kay?)

Tasted even better cold!

But seriously, peeps – your recipes are welcome.  I’ve made a few other dishes since then…and they all look the same.  Basically: chopped peppers.  I need to bring in pasta and all this other stuff.  I’m going to see a nutritionist for free under Israel’s national health insurance plan.  And I’m eating lots of cottage cheese and almonds for protein, so don’t worry.



May 22, 2010, 12:43 pm
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It was one of those “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass” maneuvers.  When my weight gets to a certain point, it feels like every “sensible meal,” every 5- mile jog – just has no effect.  I know of course it does, but my fat rolls try and convince me otherwise.

So, I go on a colon cleanse Beyonce’s diet I starve myself the Master Cleanse.  Intended as a detox for your colon and intestines, but with strong weight loss properties, the Master Cleanse – while controversial – is safe to do between 10-30 days.  I’m cool with it despite all the Haters, b/c my doctor from New York gave me her blessing, and I have done it successfully three times before (10 days twice, 7 days once).

Anyway, with summer arriving, and me topping out at 183 pounds, it was time for the MC again.  I loaded up on 50 lemons and 200 grams of cayenne pepper at the Shuk and found Israel’s only connection to importing Grade B maple syrup.  (Grade A, while it might sound better, is actually more refined.  Believe me, if all you’re “eating” is maple syrup, you want the less refined kind with more nutrients).  Yeah, I found this guy who owns a health food store and – with one phone call, made a case of Grade B show up the next day, so I bought the entire case.

Click the MC link above for all the deets (or Google “Master Cleanse,” “master cleanse lemonade recipe,” or some other variant), b/c I don’t want to explain it all, but in a nutshell:

  1. You make a lemonade of 10-12 oz filtered water, 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.  Drink 8-12 glasses of it a day, whenever you feel hungry.  (But really you can drink as much as you want)

    2.   In the mornings, mix a quart of warm water with 2 tsp of sea salt and drink it down. (Nasty!)  Called “brackish water,” it’s not salty enough to make you vomit, but it is salty enough that your body fast-tracks it through you system, and you “poop soup” 30 minutes after drinking it, for about four rounds on the John.  (Don’t make plans or leave the house for the next 90 minutes.)  Also called  “top down enema,” this is what flushes the toxins out of your body that you have dislodged from your intestines by drinking the lemonade.

Anyway, that’s it.  I went for 12 days this time and lost 17 pounds!  It’s a week later, and I’m holding steady at 170 pounds, a net loss of 12 pounds.  Perfectly happy with this.

May 22, 2010, 11:07 am
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Part of the master plan for my new apartment is to have a loft bed in the main room.  You see, while it’s a big apartment – with two porches and a separate kitchen – much of the living will still be done in one room, which has to do double-duty as both bedroom and living room.  

Bestie Anna nailed it when she said I needed a loft bed – “to take the bed out of the equation” when you have guests over.  (So no one’s uncomfortable asking if it’s alright to sit on it, etc.)  

So my friend Ariel swooped in and totally dealt w/ all the Hebronics with this metalworker guy whose shop is across the street from his recording studio.  Things took a little longer than I wanted to get set up, but that was primarily b/c I was temporarily chanllenged in the bank account department.  (Ah, the joys of freelancing.)  

With that all straightened out, it came time to put the bed up.  And I must say – what a great job they did!  (Except for that part where I turned around for one second and they were drilling holes through the wrong wall!  No probs – I did butch drag and plastered that later all by myself!)  

It’s not finished yet.  The frame was supposed to be made larger than my mattress, so I’d have space to put a lamp, alarmclock condoms, etc. up there.  So, Ariel said he’s going to arrange for them to cut and weld a square “night table” shelf to the right side by the head of the bed.  Similarly, since the ladder rungs are narrow and hurt my feetsies when I walk up/down it, I want a little “shoe bin” sodered to the top, so I can walk up wearing flip-flops and put them in there when I reach the top.   

Here’s some shots of the guys working.  


The other guy (not to be outdone)



Pete did NOT like it when I climbed up there for the first time.  Barked, he did.  Here’s his view as I climbed down the first morning after sleeping in it.  (Note his evil eyes, as he plots his revenge.  Think I’m kidding?)  

May 8, 2010, 11:20 am
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My bedroom and the door that connects to the front porch

Except it’s not really “after.”  There is soooo much more work to do on the apartment.  It’s not even close to finished, and is a total work in progress.  But since I’m banging out these first posts in weeks, thematically it makes to give you AFTER since I just gave you BEFORE.

I am having a loft-bed built that will go in the upper right corner of this picture.  That will take my bed out of the equation, and I can put my couch and coffee table underneath it and be able to entertain.  And my friend Ariel is helping me change light fixtures around the apartment.

But here’s a few quick AFTER shots:

AFTER: Kitchen

AFTER: Kitchen (other view)

AFTER: one more Martha Stewarty kitchen shot w/ the storage baskets from IKEA up top

AFTER: tub in bathroom (tiles fixed)

Front & back porch

Painting Party
May 8, 2010, 10:53 am
Filed under: Friends, Infrastructure | Tags:

Sometimes I stupidly forget how good God is to me.  It’s not enough that I’m blessed w/ the best friends a Scotty could have in America (Eyes, Al, Aim, JR, Tony, Park, Sheila, Karin, Chip, Ell, Babs, Lys, Marko, Justin, Jeffrey G aned many, many more) – but now I can add some of the best people in Israel to my friend list (and not just on Facebook, I mean): Anna, Eric, Leah, Jeremy, Rebecca, Danny, Ariel, Felicia, Nir, Debra, Russell, Liron, Abi, June, and many, many more).

Jeremy, Eric, Rebecca and Leah made moving in so much easier when they came overa few weeks ago and helped me paint three accent walls in my apartment.  I had loaded up on supplies at ACE Hardware and we got together (on Shabbat !!) and had ourselves a big ole’ Painting Partay!

I took the boys out to breakfast first, and then we got started on a big wall in the bedroom/living room, painting it chocolate brown.  Leah joined us, and boy am I glad she felt really strongly we do a wall in the hallway the same color.  Then, we did a wall in the kitchen baby blue.  (Actually, when I was deciding among the final custom color choices w/ the paint mixer at ACE, the final deciding factor was the names of the colors.  “Expresso Brown” (since I have a client that sells coffee) and “Little Girl Blue,” b/c – well, everyone should have at least one wall painted in that color.

We did the first wall, then broke for lunch.  Rebecca joined us, then we returned to bang out the next two walls.  Here’s some pics and one video from the day.

Thanks, Besties !!!  I love you.


Eric getting started on the big, first wall.

Leah, Jeremy & Eric - making progress on same wall

Me, attempting Butch...

...And failing miserably!

Leah and the boys at work on the 2nd wall

A Class Act in front of their Masterpiece

Rebecca & Jeremy crack up about him giving her a ride in his new wagon bike-attachment

And b/c you were so good, here’s a little bonus vid of Jeremy pulling Becks (daringly shot by me as I rode parallel to them on my own bicycle).

May 8, 2010, 10:11 am
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BEFORE: Kitchen

BEFORE: Bedroom/Living Room

BEFORE: tub in bathroom

I'm not mad at you, I'm mad at the dirt.

The Big, Bad Apartment Hunt
May 8, 2010, 9:47 am
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So, besides the shiz I can’t really talk about, there are some other reasons why I’ve decided to move out of my current apartment.   

  1. There is a problem with the roof of this building (I am the top apartment).  In the rainy season (Oct-March) it doesn’t leak, but there is a horrific mold problem.  Once a month I would have to stand on a stool and mop the ceiling w/ bleach.  Apparently this has been going on for three years already.  The va’ad beit who upkeeps the building (basically the Super, in US-terms) has been refusing to fix it, saying the problem is with the ceiling and not the roof (he’s not yet been introduced to the concept of gravity), and the landlord has been threatening a lawsuit, and that’s all I’m gonna say.   Except that it’s probably not gonna be fixed this summer, so who needs more of that shiz come Oct.
  2. But the main reason is probably that the landlord is also, ahem, my ex-boyfriend.  It’s something I haven’t mentioned before on G-Fish, b/c he’s also, ahem, my boss.  Anyway, thank God for him – he gave me a great place to live and meaningful, good employment my first year here, and helped me get established as a new immigrant here in Israel.  But now, it is time to move on, and begin the next phase of my life here.  And, Wahoo!  for that.

So, I started looking.  There are four websites with apartment classifieds in Israel – all them are in Hebrew.  But, Google Translate extensions have really evolved to the point that w/o even asking, they will translate whole pages for you.  Look what I’m talking about:  



Here is one of the most popular apartment listings sites - "Homeless" - *before* Google Translate


And this is after! Can you read it - all the listenings are in English - street names, neighborhoods, descriptions. It really is a miracle.


So, pretty much my first day looking, I found an amazing apartment.  I live in a neighborhood called the Old North, and I liken it to the Upper East Side of the NYC.  It’s a little quieter, a little more posh.  Very me.  It’s also adjacent to the biggest park in Tel Aviv – which also has the biggest dog park.  


But to stay here, I’d have to downgrade from a 1-bedroom to a studio, and I was fine w/ that.  And I got super lucky, because I loved the very first apartment I found.  Just around the corner from my current place, this one was even closer to the park!  A renovated studio, about 37 sq meters.  It wasn’t furnished, which is what I want, b/c I have furniture, including a full size fridge and a washing machine.  Ground floor, just inside the entrance.  Totes perf.  


But the owner jerked me around sideways.  First he wanted the entire year’s rent up front, y’know, b/c I’m an immigrant w/ no family in Israel.  Never mind two friends of mine here were willing to cosign, and so was my physician father back in America.  But I was able to talk them into giving me another chance, but then they bailed when I said I had a dog.  No dogs.  


So, that place didn’t work out.  Then, I found another studio in a very nice area, on a street called Yehuda Macabbi.  But it was just too tiny – only 20 sq meters.  Renovated and a yard out back I could use, but not even enough room for all my furniture, plus Pete, plus me working from home?  


So I wound up finding this place in a great location – a little street off Ben Yehuda, in between Arlozorov & Jabotinsky.  A little further south, but still in the neighborhood I like.  Further from the dog park, but still walkable there.  Plus, super close to the dog beach (which is also the gay beach).  Plus it’s HUGE !!!!  and dirt cheap.  The reason is b/c it’s very old.  And I prefer renovated, b/c I am a posh princess.  The building is old and will probably be sold and torn down in a few years.  

But everyone said the layout is great, and with lighting changes and painting it could be great.  Plus, the location can’t be beat, and neither can the price.  And so my Hebrew speaking friends, Danny & Ariel came back the next day w/ me and told me I should definitely take it.  


So, I did.   

We came back the next day and signed the lease.  I’m paying on 2500 shekels a month, which is $675 – a total steal.  The place has huge ceilings, two porches and a separate kitchen.  I had to pay only the first 3 months in advance, so I won’t pay rent again until July (and no real security deposit, just the first three months up front).  

Here’s me signing the lease.  That’s my va’ad beit (the equivalent in the US would be “the super”), who also acted as the managing agent in the pic w/ me.  Now, he is actually really cute.  But I swear I don’t have that expression on my face b/c I’m thinking of eating himi alive.  I was more really excited to be signing the contract.  In Israel, all paperwork is ridiculous amounts, so there were like 10 pages to sign, and he would hand me them one by one, in a little bit of a disorganized fashion when he found the next right page.  So, that’s what my look of anticipation is about, lol.  


Here’s a few more pics from the day I signed, and then next I’ll do a couple more posts about the apartment.