August 8, 2015

Do The Limbo!

Well!! After so many months of living in limbo (cue Jimmy Cliff), it seems like everything is moving really fast!

We got the final test results this week, and the repairs are supposedly done, so we'll do a final walk-through and close escrow some time this week. Then, for a short while, we will actually own two homes... eeek!

Meanwhile, our home goes up for sale on Monday, with a brokers' tour Tuesday and Open House next Sunday. This will mean a new kind of living in limbo (love that song)!

We have viewed 66 houses since early March, experienced great frustration as prices spiraled upward on one-story homes, made several offers that didn't pan out, and all the while we were afraid to sell our own house without first procuring a new place to live. Now that one side of the equation appears to be settled, I imagine the other side won't take too long. Hard to believe, but it's time to call
the movers!

Of course the move is bittersweet. We have wanted to downsize, yet it feels sad to leave this beautiful neighborhood where we've lived for 17 years.  A new adventure awaits us, but it's hard to feel it yet. As I often say, "all will be revealed in time." Wish us luck!

Jimmy Cliff: Sitting in Limbo:

August 5, 2015

Are we There Yet?

Today is the photo shoot of our house for the real estate listing. I feel like I've been cleaning forever. And hiding stuff… I doubt if I'll remember where I put anything! I'm exhausted, and the house feels eerily quiet, almost as if nobody lives here.

On the other end, we are supposed to get the report today on the soil samples for the house we're buying, trying to determine the level of contamination from the old heating-oil tank beneath the property. We're in limbo here, even though escrow is supposed to close in a few days! I can hardly wait for the whole odyssey to be finished!

July 11, 2015

The LiberDog Hotel

We haven't gotten a new dog yet.  The tentative plan is to start looking in October. But meanwhile, dog-sitting is in full swing!

Lizzy stayed with us for 12 days, and totally bonded with Gershon, of course.

Supervising Mah Jongg
at Gearhart

                      Studying Talmud

Tomorrow, Eesh will return for another visit.
(His preference for the Alpha Male is legendary.)

And the following week, princess Bella will appear for a return engagement.

After this vacation season is over, all the doggy visitors will either convince us that we NEED to get a dog, or convince us that we DON'T need to get a dog! Time will tell….

April 6, 2015

Passover Carrot Almond Cake

Passover Carrot Almond Cake (Pareve)

Did you think carrot cake was an American invention? Think again: in the Veneto region, Jews have had many versions of this dessert for centuries (and all without cheese frosting!).

1.5 cups of granulated sugar
2.5 cups of ground almonds
9 ounces carrots, grated (use small organic carrots for a rich flavor)
6 eggs, separated
A pinch of salt
Amaretto liqueur or 1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
Butter, oil, or pareve margarine and matzah meal for greasing the pan

Beat the yolks with the sugar, add the grated carrots, almonds, salt, cinnamon and almond extract.

In a separate clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Gradually fold the whites into the batter.

Pour the mixture into a greased pan dusted with matzah meal and bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Just before serving, decorate with Pesach powdered sugar and whole almonds or almond slices.

My notes:
- Add about 2 Tbsp of oil to the batter
- Use a spring form pan, lined with parchment paper. Oil the paper and omit the matzah meal.

This recipe originally came from the Kosher Italian cooking blog, "Dinner in Venice."

March 22, 2015

What I Haven't Been Writing About

I haven't been writing about the main focus of my life right now: preparing our house for sale. This is because (a) I'm too tired, and (b) there really are no words for this level of stress.

And then there's the other side of the equation… looking for a new home to buy… not even gonna get started on that one right now.

When I have some concrete news to report, maybe I'll try to summarize.

To the dump, to the dump, to the dump-dump-dump…

Home Depot.  My home-away-from-home.

March 16, 2015

Off to a Good Start

Early Sunday morning we set up this week's art exhibit, part of a 4-week Jewish Arts Month (JAM) series at the JCC.  Each week features a new set of artists, and this is my week. We all take turns manning (womaning?) the show. I have 10 pieces of beaded jewelry in the exhibit.  Well, about 3 hours after we finished setting up, I got a phone call saying that these two pieces sold already!! The funny thing is that they were both quickie "flash challenges" for my online beading group. I'm very excited about it, but also a little sad to see them go.

March 14, 2015

Birthday Beading

Today was sort of a revival of my birthday. Today was the beading class that Gershon bought for me as a birthday gift. And today I finally opened up the beading-board that Micah gave me for my birthday.  It was a glorious experience!

I love taking beading classes, but I don't take them very often because they're expensive! So now I've figured out that they are a good thing to request as a gift!

Today's class was held at Village Beads,

and taught by Virginia Blakelock.

Virginia's projects tend to be very complex and detailed. This one looks deceptively simpler than it actually is.  It's called Serpentina Bracelet.  I made pretty good progress during the class, and will add a picture here when it's finished.  

Here's the publicity pic of it:

There were only five students in the class, so it was a cozy group, with lots of personal attention from the instructor. Village Bead has a lovely atmosphere for classes, because the class table is right out in the showroom, not tucked away in a back room. 
All in all, it was a wonderful day.

(And then in the evening, our Couples Mah Jongg group got together to play Mah Jongg and celebrate PI Day.  Yum!)

March 3, 2015

Missing a Dog

Today is the one-year anniversary of Nacho's passing. I still miss him, and I still cry, but not as much. And I'm starting to laugh sometimes at memories of him... I think that's a sign of healing.

I also feel I'm almost ready for a new dog. I really miss having that sweet animal presence in our life.  Can't take on a dog at this moment, as we prepare the house for sale, but I think we'll get one as soon as we move. What breed? I don't know. But I think the right dog will present him/herself.

February 23, 2015

Frozen Mah Jongg

Yesterday I participated in this year's Mah Jongg Tournament at Neveh Shalom. My fellow Thursday-night player Julia Waco was there too. There were also a number of people I've taught to play Mah Jongg over the years, which is always very gratifying.

It was a lovely event, with food, camaraderie, Mah Jongg and prizes.  

Unfortunately, there was a slight problem with the climate control, 
so everyone at the event was

Despite the challenging conditions, 

I managed to score pretty well, and win 4th place!
This wasn't quite high enough to win a cash prize, 
but gift cards for Veggie Grill are great too!

A fun time was had by all. (Well, except for the crazy lady who got mad at Julia. Elana would be proud of Julia for racking so fast!)
And the tournament raises money for education scholarships, so it's all good!

Stay calm and Mah Jongg forward!

February 12, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me

Milestone birthdays can be tough.  It feels very strange for the words "I'm sixty" to come out of my mouth. It doesn't seem possible.  But there, I said it: I'm sixty.

This particular birthday, however is strange for a different reason. It is my first birthday ever without my mother in the world with me. Birth-days celebrate the very intense moment that we each shared with our own mother. But now she's not here to share it, and it feels strangely one-sided.

I miss you, Mom.  Happy birthing-day.  Thank you for everything.   Love, Esther

January 14, 2015

Winning and Sinning

Why do I participate in so many online beading challenges? Not for the prizes, but for the motivation and the challenge. It really pushes me to do things I wouldn't otherwise attempt.  It's been very fruitful for me.

HOWEVER.  There are prizes too. For each monthly challenge completed, there is a drawing among the participants for a small prize... I won it once, and it was fun to receive my beads from someone in Wales! But also, beaders receive one point for each completion. Then there are additional points throughout the year for various "flash" challenges. At the end of the year, everyone's points are accumulated, and there is a random drawing for a larger prize.

Guess who won this year's grand prize???  That's right -- ME!!

I gotta tell you, I had no idea it would be so amazing. But today the prize package arrived, and I'm... not exactly speechless, but just sort of blubbering. It's so much beautiful stuff, so generous, such quality... each little bit wrapped separately, like a birthday in January... I'm stunned.  It's like "Dayenu": just the challenges would have been enough, just the new friendships would have been enough, just learning new stitches and discovering new resources would have been enough, but there's even more!  This is over-the-top.

A basic principle of all of our beading challenges is that we try as much as possible to use existing "stash," meaning beads we already own. Buying new stuff is jokingly referred to as "sinning."  Of course, we end up "sinning" a lot in between, but we really do try to complete the challenges with only stash. When people confess to their bead shopping sprees, they are sent to the "Naughty Step," or as the British members call it, the "Norty Step."

So perhaps the best part of the prize I won is a little slip of paper enclosed, which exempts me from the Naughty Step for a full year!!  Get that Visa card ready, here I come....

I'm so grateful to the OTTBS moderators! They do such a great job. And this group has been one of my best experiences ever.

January 11, 2015

Beading For Charity

"Bead-it-Forward" is an annual project in the beading world, where beaders worldwide contribute little 2-inch beaded squares to an auction which raises money for Breast Cancer research. Originally the squares were to be made into one big quilt for auction. But the project grew too big for that (and the quilt would be terribly heavy), so now the squares are auctioned individually, or in small groupings of 2 or 3. 
In my online beading group, there are two fantastic women who collect all of the squares from our group, one in Europe and one in North America. They finish the squares with tiny frames, or group them onto a ribbon, and forward them along to the group running the sale. Our items are listed together so we can bid on each others' work. 

This is my second year contributing to the project, and it will be my third year bidding on it. Each year there is a theme. This year's theme is "Wild About Finding a Cure," so squares are requested to have an animal theme.  Here are my three contributions. The third one also fulfills this month's theme challenge for the online beading group, which is to use a song title or lyrics. After deciding to do "Elusive Butterfly of Love," I decided to give song names to the other two as well.

"Bungle in the Jungle"


"Elusive Butterfly"   

Last year's theme was "Turn the Tide on Breast Cancer," so the squares were ocean-themed. 
These were my contributions: 

And these are the squares I bought last year:

When I learned of this project in 2013, it was too late to contribute, but I was able to buy these two squares in the auction. The theme was "Stitching to Find a Bloomin' Cure."
Not only is this a fun and worthwhile project to participate in, but it also provides me with a heart-warming physical connection to women living half-way across the world, whom I only know online.
I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else came up with this year, and bidding on the squares when the auction occurs.

January 9, 2015

Happy Healthy New Year!

I volunteered to bring a veggie platter to a New Year's Eve party, so there would be something I could eat. Well, you know how I am…. I may have gotten a little carried away. 

To understand the photos, you have to know that this is a really BIG platter… probably about 15" wide.  

But what I found interesting is how much response I got to this picture on Facebook. The comments and shares just keep coming!  I guess all that real food strikes a deep chord in my fellow human beings. 
One other thing… I didn't plan to have 12 selections on the platter, it just turned out that way. Very symbolic for the new year!

Happy Healthy New Year to everyone!!