Monthly Archives: January 2011

It’s picture time!

Here are all the pictures I’ve taken since I arrived and deemed worthy of public viewing-some from around Ramat Yishay, the rest from our trips to Akko and Haifa.

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Some sightseeing, at last!

I’ve been in Israel almost a month now and hadn’t done any sightseeing until Sunday and Monday.  Of  course, I knew  that’s how it would be.  I wanted to get to my new home first and foremost, and settle in.  Since I have four plus months here, I knew there would be time to see everything later and I figured it would be better to see it when I wasn’t jetlagged.  So I settled into the daily routine with the boyfriend-get up, go to the circus (For those of you who don’t know, he’s here to train and intern at the Israel Circus School and has been here since August.), come home, make dinner, go to bed.  In between we watch movies and documentaries, youtube videos, read articles, and just spend time with each other talking about all kinds of things.  Nothing too exciting, but definitely enjoyable.  Nevertheless, I started getting antsy.  All I’ve seen of Israel so far has been the road from Ramat Yeshay (where we live) to Kfar Yehosua (where the school is).  Farms, cows, more farms, more cows.  I’m working on hula hooping and I’m going to aerials classes to learn the trapeze, but I’m not as involved with the circus stuff here as Dan is, and I don’t really want to be.  This isn’t the school for me.  It’s not really the school for him, either, but it’s where he is now and circus is his passion, so he’s much more invested here than I am.  I’m just along for the ride, at this point, and trying to do at least a little training in the meantime.

We recently started planning a two week trip to Egypt-Cairo and the Sinai Peninsula.  We were supposed to leave the 30th of this month, but had  to postpone it due to a circus event that came up.  Out of frustration and restlessness, I asked if we could PLEASE just do SOMETHING in the meantime.  So we did!  We went to Akko (Arce) on Sunday and Haifa on Monday.

Akko has been destroyed and rebuilt, destroyed and rebuilt, destroyed and rebuilt, for thousands of years by a slew of different folks.  We saw the Hospitaller Fortress/the Knights’ Halls, took a super cheesy automated tour (the Story of the Last Bath Attendant) of Hamaam al Basha (the Turkish Bath), went underground through the eerie Templars’ Tunnel, wandered around the bustling market, ate hummus (that’s HOO-muss, not humm-us) from Hummus Said’s-a little place the boyfriend’s tour book (Let’s Go) suggested, bought some fresh halva (which we crumble up and put on our cereal with sliced banana, or dried fruit) and a cute decorative elephant thing (I don’t know what to call it) to hang in the house, visited the beautiful El-Jazar Mosque, explored the fortress walls and read about Napolean’s unsuccessful attack on the city, then finished the day off with dinner, Turkish coffee, and a nargila (aka hookah) at a restaurant on the sea wall of the fortress, overlooking the Mediterranean.

Yesterday we went to Haifa.  We went to the Tikotin Museum of Japanese art, walked along the promenade, took a tour of the Baha’i gardens at the Bahai’i World Center, and zipped up to the 30th floor of the Eshkol Tower at Haifa University to see Haifa from all 360 degrees.  We even took a bus we were hoping was the right one across town to a hole-in-the-wall pizza place we had forgotten the name of (and forgotten to write down) because the boyfriend found it online when he was looking for gluten free places to eat in Haifa.  Not only did we end up getting on the right bus, but it stopped directly outside of the pizza place, which we would have walked right past had we not been dumped off in front of it, and they had just made up some GF pizzas!  Normally they need at least an hour to bake one.  They make the GF pizzas by hand, whereas they make the non-GF ones with a machine (I’m assuming they mean a mixer).  It.  Was.  Delicious.  We attempted to go to the Haifa Art Museum but it was closed due to the changing of exhibits.  I guess we should have looked online first.  We also tried to go to the Artists’ House, but it was closed during the middle of the day.  And I rode more buses yesterday than I have in the rest of my life, I think.  It was a day full of fun and adventure.

I’ve been trying to learn as much of the language as I can, as quickly as I can.  I feel alright about it so far.  I’ve picked up a few phrases and words.

I’m working on getting pictures uploaded and edited so I can share them with you.  I should be done soon!  I thought I should update in the meantime, though.

And here’s a recipe, since I intend to blog about food here:

Vegan, gluten-free, quick and simple lentil soup
1 cup lentils
5 or so cups water or stock
2 medium potatoes (any kind-I’m not sure what kind mine are, since the label is in Hebrew and I’m not good at identifying potatoes), chopped
1-2 large carrots, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
1 medium yellow or white onion (I used yellow), diced
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 or 2 bell peppers (I used green)
1 jalapeno, chopped
Salt
Pepper
Cumin
Olive oil-2tbsp
Balsamic vinegar-2tbsp

In 2 quart or larger pot, saute onions, garlic, and olive oil for a couple minutes, until onions are slightly translucent. Add veggies, water (or stock), lentils, and seasoning. Stir. Bring to a boil, then simmer until lentils are fully cooked. Add vinegar, seasonings (to taste) and serve.

Inspired by this recipe from Spark People.

I hope you try it and like it as much as we did.

GF tea cookies

We bought some GF tea cookies for me today and they are SO good.  There is a little GF section of shelves in the store near our place.  Lucky me!  I picked them up hoping they were crackers so I could have something other than veggies to dip in hummus and such.  Apparently not.

When we got home I hastily opened them-because, OMG cookies-and shoved one in my mouth.  Then my eyes grew large and I stopped mid-chew to say “these don’t taste gluten-free.”  The boyfriend took a bite as I frantically scanned the package for an (English) indicator of the GF-ness of these tasty, tasty cookies.  Much to my relief, there was not only a small English label half hidden in the fold of the wrapper, but a list of ingredients!

I’d take a picture of the package for you, but BF, who has stolen my camera and claimed it as his own, is at the circus school working diligently on a duo trapeze act and some sort of choreographed dance routine.

So these weren’t the crackers I had hoped, and I won’t be dipping them in hummus or tahini (which is apparenetly pronounced tkheenuh), but the result was pleasantly surprising-better than half the stuff I’ve had in the States.  Israeli’s know how to treat a GF girl right when it comes to cookies.  This is the third type I’ve had so far, actually.  They’ve all been amazing.  These are not my favorite of the three (How can they compete with wafers dipped in chocolate?) but they were the most surprising with their level of deliciousness.  Om nom nom!

There’s no time like the present

This seems as good a time as any to get this blog off the ground and moving.

I just graduated from college and moved thousands of miles away, to Israel, where I don’t speak or read a lick of Hebrew and don’t know anyone but my boyfriend.  Not to mention that I have a gluten intolerance and have to navigate my way around this new place and find ways to safely feed myself without being able to read anything.  As anyone with a food allergy or intolerance knows, finding food is a constant source of worrywhen away from home.

So I know a little about fear.

On my way here, I read something that changed the way I think about and deal with fear, however.

I normally don’t buy magazines.  When I do I usually end up frustrated that I spent four or five dollars on a bunch of ads.  I think there is something fundamentally wrong with paying for someone to try and sell me things.  Plus, I’m a recent college graduate with no income so wasting money feels like a tragedy.  But, when I travel, which is about once or twice a year usually, I indulge and buy a stack of magazines.  Flying sucks.  Not only am I horrible uncomfortable but I’m stressed, anxious, and can’t focus so my attention span is even shorter than usual.  I like to turn my brain off a little and pass the time with something entertaining that requires little brain power or commitment from my attention.  So I waste paper and money in one guilty purchase.

I can’t swallow celebrity gossip or women’s magazines with ridiculous tips on losing inches of belly fat in only two weeks or 50 ludicrous ways to please my man.  Even in my indulgence, I still go for something that will be somewhat educational and not completely infuriating or mind-numbing.  This time it was Newsweek, Time, Whole Living, Yoga, Afar (a travel magazine recommended by a friend), and National Geographic Traveler.  I also brought along a slew of National Geographics I collected over the past year because I subscribed (you can’t beat 15 bucks for a year of magazines that actually have substance) with every intention of reading them all.  But again, that whole college thing leaves you not only with little money, but little time as well.

In Whole Living, which is a Martha Stewart publication was an article about living fearlessly.  I’m a pretty skeptical person by nature, and I think most self help type material is for suckers, so I wasn’t even going to read that article.  But I was bored, and figured I should read everything in the magazine since I spent money on it.  Much to my surprise, I ended up not only getting something out of one of these magazines, but something really meaningful-something real that has already made my life easier and more fulfilling.

I’ve spent the last couple of years staring a lot of big problems in the face with my only choice being to deal with them or give up on life and hope my parents didn’t mind supporting me when I moved back home, ate nothing but candy and ice cream, got fat, and stayed in bed for the rest of my life.  Probably needless to say, I chose to face my problems head on and instead of retreating I faced my fears and I won the battle.

Dealing with fear isn’t a new concept for me.  But living fearlessly is.  In the article, living fearlessly was explained not as having no fear, but as accepting the feelings of fear we have in any given situation.  It sounds obvious doesn’t it?  But how many of us actually practice fearlessness in our lives, let alone on a daily basis?  I didn’t realize until I read that article, that while I hadn’t been letting my fears hold me back from doing things I wanted to do, I certainly wasn’t living fearlessly.  Instead of accepting the feelings, I tried to ignore them.  Instead of dealing with them, I stuffed them in a bag and lugged it around with me, making everything that much harder.  In a situation where I’m afraid, there is no room for that baggage.  I need all the oomph I can muster.  This idea applies to other feelings as well, such as anger and sadness.

I’m not saying I don’t have bad days where I get upset, feel sorry for myself, dwell on the past, and can’t seem to do anything right.  But now, when I’m afraid, angry, hurt, or any other kind of upset, even if it’s over something small that seems silly, I acknowledge and accept those feelings, allowing myself to have them, deal with them,  let them go and live in the moment, rather than holding them tighter and letting them weigh me down.

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