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7 Quick Takes — 32

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— 1 —

We had a wonderful two and a half (or 3/4?) days of ceasefire. It ended a few hours before the 72 hours were up, and it was ended by two rockets fired from Gaza to Israel. Apparently this time it's the Islamic Jihad. Since Hamas is in control of Gaza, I truly think it makes no difference: Hamas is responsible for everything coming from the land controlled by them. It was so close to getting back to normal, but it goes on. While Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, there isn't much change for the residents of the South, and they rightfully feel abandoned by our government, when once again we declare victory, only to allow Hamas to recover and rebuild…not the houses and schools and hospitals, but their rocket arsenal and tunnels.

— 2 —

Last night I did something big. Well, big for me. I went to Harel Skaat's concert all by myself. That is something I normally just don't do, it is too out of my comfort zone and too different from my routine. But since Mr. Skaat's birthday, and I am pretty much all alone, I decided to go. It was a brilliant concert as usual. I somehow ended up in line to meet him and wish him a happy birthday, and somehow that line turned into going to an all night burger place (by myself) and staying out way too late.

So…Happy birthday Mr. Skaat!

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— 3 —

 

— 4 —

The Priest's Wife has been advocating for avoiding cheap. Chinese products for a number of reasons. (I'll include a link as soon as I get on my laptop.) While she has some very valid points, I have done some eBay shopping from China and Hong Kong. One seller was selling knitting needles and crochet hooks for very reasonable prices. I contacted them, because I wanted the package to be sent directly to the volunteer organization of the hospital where I have taught some girls and boys to crochet. A local vendor donated some yarn, and I wanted to get the needles and hooks. He and I worked it out, and then I was surprised to see that instead of the free Economy International Shipping option he upgraded my shipping to the Express shipping free. I was already grateful for this gesture, but today I got a text from one of the volunteers at the hospital that the package arrived and, in addition to the two crochet hook sets and one knitting needle set, there were two additional sets of both, some mixed beads and charms, flexible thread and clasps for jewelery. Some of these things will go to other hospitals or activities provided by the organization.

— 5 —

I've been crafting. Yes, still cold porcelain.

I need to find some good sealer/varnish to waterproof it, and then I can plant my little palm “tree” in it.

— 6 —

My garden is pretty much dead. While our house sitters tried to resurrect it, the neglect from the last few weeks has really taken its toll on my poor straw bale garden! I think the root vegetables and some of our peas will make it, and everything we put in planters and pots will, too, but our beans and berries and celery sticks and flowers are beyond help. Maybe next year we won't have a war killing my garden.

— 7 —

Shabbat shalom! And once wgain, happy birthday to Harel Skaat!

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7 Quick Takes — 29

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— 1 —

Now it’s Wednesday, and I might end up posting my 7QT today, because I have no idea when I’ll get to blog tomorrow if at all. While I said that I would be blogging less, recycling two posts from the past, and sharing an experience during an air raid made my blog busier than usually. Oh, by the way, go read that post. It involves coffee, it’s less than 300 words long, and it’s pretty good.

Mentioning air raid experiences, If you speak Hungarian, here is an article titled “One more air raid and we’ll be late to the theatre” by Hungarian writer/TV personality/journalist/celebrity Kristóf Steiner, who lives in Tel Aviv with his husband, Matan. It references the current trend of posting shelter selfies (that the very handsome Harel Skaat also participates in), making fun of Hamas, and just making the best of an unpleasant situation. A similar post in English is here. Actually I generally recommend his blog. After reading my post about the air raid the other day, of course.

— 2 —

Yesterday, after too long a time, I finally made it to another Harel Skaat show. As usual, it was fabulous. I had a little too much to drink before and after the show (no, I still wasn’t drunk, but one more drink would have made me drunk!) and for a change I relaxed and went to sleep without any meds. In this most un-normal of times an evening felt oh so normal. Even if song selection and commentary by RL was heavily influenced by current affairs in Israel.

From an earlier performance, RL singing the 121st psalm:

 

 

— 3 —

My youngest has recently started to put words together when she signs. She has also discovered that if she says something I react to it, but I will only sign back to her. It’s kinda funny, because now she seems to have an active sign vocabulary that differs from her active speech vocabulary quite a bit. She has about 20 words and 15 signs that she uses as of today, but there are new words appearing every day! Her signing is slower, and as long as she understands what I sign to her, I am not too concerned.It is only in sign, however, that she is using phrases now, so I think we are right on track with that as well. Of course she hears a lot more speech than she sees signing, and then often even my signing is accompanied by someone’s interpretation as well, so who knows.

— 4 —

I have been planning on sharing more about our crafting and cold porcelain adventures. I tweaked the recipe I use a bit more, and we have some pretty things to show. Like this flower. We painted this one with acrylic paint after it dried, and I think this will be an approach for colouring that we will use. I have also made owl eyes from pre-coloured pieces of cold porcelain, and I need to glue them onto some crochet work and show pictures as well. 2014-07-08 20.05.32

— 5 —

Mentioning crochet. I finally finished a few pieces I have been working on. I found several descriptions, usually translated from Finnish, for “converse” slippers, which, again, I tweaked. I am planning to post my tweaks and the link to the original description as soon as I finish my third pair. Till then, here is a pair I made for my daughter, but ended up my niece’s and the first adult one. 2014-07-16 15.55.07Crochet is my one remaining activity resembling normalcy. I am usually too tired to make any significant progress with my work, but I try to crochet (or knit) a few rows each day. I usually do it as Kevin FaceTimes with the kids in Hungary. The kids have a blast with Uncle Dan and cousins, and can’t wait for the rest of the family (except Itamar and I) to join them early August for two weeks. While they are gone, if the situation doesn’t normalize, two families who are friends with my family with house sit for us. They are from the south (see next quick take) and they could use the break. I am planning to stay somewhere in the city for those two weeks. I hope to crochet a lot and go to another Harel Skaat concert!

— 6 —

While it might seem from my blog that the situation in Israel is not all that serious. As I have said before, in many ways, Tel Aviv is its own little bubble. It is not like the rest of Israel in many, many aspects. So while it might seem that rockets are a mere inconvenience for Israelis, it is not etirely true. While Tel Aviv experienced two or three alerts a day, there are areas that got several each hour. People in the South are advised to stay within 15 seconds from a bomb shelter at all times. Can you imagine living your life with an eye on a shelter all the time, and not even being safe enough to go to the grocery store, or even to get into your car? I can’t, and I’m in the same country, in the same conflict, but twenty, thirty, hundred kilometers away.

Some of you have been telling me you are worried about my safety, and I really appreciate your concern. While indeed it is not always safe here, it is a lot safer than in other parts of Israel, or in areas of Gaza. Those of you who pray, please don’t forget to pray for the people you might not know, but for whom rockets are more than an annoyance. Please also pray for the 70k people in Gaza, who were left without electricity. One of the rockets fired from Gaza damaged a power line near the border in Israel, and this line supplies southern Gaza with electricity. Because it was too dangerous for crews to repair the damage, it seemed like they would be left without power indefinitely, but Israel Electric Corporation employees fixed it amid continued rocket fire.

Yesterday (Tuesday) in accordance with an Egypt brokered ceasefire agreement, Israel halted air strikes in Gaza for six hours. During this time over 50 rockets were fired from Gaza to Israel. Hamas didn’t even consider the ceasefire.

I have quoted Golda Meir before, saying that there will be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us… I think many, many Arabs love their children more than they hate us, but they have not the courage or power to rid themselves of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

— 7 —

I’d like to thank Jen for volunteering to post this to the link up! I don’t have access to the link ups from my new work, and I am on my own laptop at very random times. However, email subscription to my blog has been finally fixed, so feel free subscribe to be kept updated! Thanks for visiting!

 

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When Something Goes Right: Cold Porcelain Revisited

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You remember this disaster? The cold porcelain that ended up looking like cottage cheese instead of a clay that is easy to shape and dries in plain air?

Well, I didn’t give up, and after over a gallon of PVA (white school) glue appeared in my life, I ended up buying both a 250g box of corn starch (for the equivalent of $2.00) and a 1 kg bag of corn flour (for about $1.60). I got the iPad set up in the kitchen (not everyone has DVD viewing screens TV’s on their kitchen counter), opened the recipe again, and went to work.

Just pouring the glue out looked a lot more promising. I used vinegar and sunflower seed oil for the recipe, so I started out mixing 250 ml (1 cup) of PVA glue with 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of cooking oil and 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of 20% vinegar.  I mixed them a little, using a wooden spoon. 2014-04-26 09.41.23

After adding the 250 ml (1 cup) of corn flour, I stirred it till it looked like a thincker pancake batter. Because the corn flour was organic unbleached (I didn’t know corn flour can be bleached, but that is what the label said), it was a light yellow. When using corn starch, the colour of the mix was white.

2014-04-26 09.45.32

After this point I had to deviate from the original instructions. I ended up microwaving my mix for 30 seconds 5 times, because my microwave has a lower wattage than the original recipe author’s. I removed the clay mix when it started to firm a little, and retained its shape when pulling some out with the spoon. I covered a plastic cutting board in shrink wrap, and added some lotion to it to reduce sticking. I also lotioned my hands, which wasn’t the best idea, because it added some extra softness to the hot hot HOT clay as I started to knead it. I ended up dipping my hands in the corn flour a few times to reduce stickiness. The lotion, however, was awesome in keeping the clay from sticking to the cutting board.

I kneaded it till it cooled down (once again going through all the expletives in all the languages that I know, because it was HOT and my hands are not made of asbestos), and the texture was like soft play-doh. I had to add some corn flour throughout the process to achieve the desired consistency.

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 At this point I divided the mass into four and broke out my acryllic paints. I only found three of the colours I wanted to use, thanks to my two artist boys helping themselves to my stash while I was abroad. I added various amounts of paint and more corn flour to three of the balls of clay, and as I was working the bright blue into the cold porcelain, I couldn’t help but think of Christopher Moore’s Sacre Bleu – A Comedy d’Art, and the little Colorman and… yeah, no spoilers!

In the end I had four colours:

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I wrapped the balls of clay in cling wrap, and they are no chilling in my fridge.

Four Hours Later

After chilling the clay for five hours (it took a wile to write the first half of the post), I took it out of the fridge and started to play with it. It is definitely too soft and too sticky, and it took up quite a bit more corn flour. I think I need to cook it a bit more next time. The colours have faded a bit, too, so I need to experiment with colouring my cold porcelain earlier in the cooking process. I wonder if the acryllic would mess up the cooking?  Anyway, the kids started playing with it immediatelly. We made some beads and buttons for various crochet projects, and now they are drying.

An additional 48 hours later
The buttons I made are dry, however the extra corn flour used in them made them not shiny and a bit textured. It’s not something that can’t be fixed with a bit of varnish, and cooking it a little longer the next time.

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Domestic Misadventures: Cold Porcelain

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My kids like to craft. I do, too, but they, unlike me, have quite  a bit of artistic talent. One of their loved medium is polymer clay. Because it’s quite pricey, I decided to look for alternatives. Cold porcelain seemed to be a good idea. I decided to follow this recipe, and because of her warnings of no substitutions and exact amounts, I did exactly as she wrote the tutorial. Something still went horribly wrong.

I used an unopened box of corn starch (all the open ones were thrown away before Passover), an unopened bottle of PVA (white school) glue I bought in Ireland last year, lemon juice and baby oil. This is the consistency I got upon mixing the carefully measured ingredients:

065It reminded me of cottage cheese, except this one stunk. The glue ran through the corn starch, and no matter how much I mixed it, it was just a grainy, stinky mess.

Then I microwaved it. After the third round I removed it from the bowl, where quite a bit of liquid was left behind. I tried kneading in the bowl first, but the hot liquid gave me 1st degree burns.

066Upon the first attempt to knead, more liquid came out of the mixture, which now resembled unpressed cheese. So being creative, I put an old sieve over the bowl I originally used, put an even older kitchen towel in it, and tried kneading the trutymó (Hungarians, is there a good English word for trutymó?) in that.

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I kept kneading till it cooled down… and fell completely apart. I threw the whole thing away at that point. I got to, however, try another Pinterest find: I cooked a lemon, cut in half, in a bowl of water in my microwave to get rid of the stink. It worked beautifully.

I suspect either the corn starch or the glue were to blame, because the recipe was also tried by many people, who had successes with it. Or maybe it’s just cursed with me using corn starch during Passover.

Post-holiday Quick Takes

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— 1 —

The weather outside is frightful. Well, not really, but it’s wintertime. Actually it snowed in Israel. One of my soldiers had his very first ever snowball fight in the Golan yesterday. He was very excited about it. Excited enough to text me about it! For me winter means rain. Being Irish, I guess every season means rain. 🙂 But Tel Aviv winters greatly resemble Cork City summers.

— 2 —

With cold(er) weather come hot(ter) beverages. And with them come cozies. Gosh, I love them. I didn’t know you can get them in stores, but Jill told me Target sells them. I found many on Etsy, and oh my, Pinterest is so full of them I couldn’t decide which ones to repin. They are actually quick and easy projects for the beginning crocheter.  A cozy like the one below took about an hour to make while also chatting on Facebook and watching Criminal Minds. Of course maybe if I hadn’t been watching Crimilan Minds, all the points of the Magen David would have looked nice.  (Will replace the photo with a better one.)cozy

— 3 —

Yesterday was the last day of Chanukah, but school/homeschool already started back up. It was nice to be off for a week, but the kids were ready for some learning. One of the things every kid has to do is to keep a portfolio of his work, and make quaterly presentations on what he has learnt. We also do topic books every two weeks, based on “project time”. Project time is certain time deicated to a topic, either assigned by me or chosen by the kids, and every kid makes a topic book at the nd of the two-week project period. We originally picked the idea up from a friend, who is a teacher for the deaf, and it is something that is an important part o deaf education in Hungary. Then the schoolthe kids attended here did something similar, and we kept it for our homeschool. We started a new period yesterday, and I’m super excited about the topic Noya chose: exoplanets. I wrote it elsewhere that when I was in school we were taught in grography class (basic knowledge about the Universe was included) that there are no known exoplanets. The very same year the first two were discovered.

— 4 —

Because our life has becom even more hectic, and, again, I’m going to be away from home for several days/a whole week this month, so we are always looking for practical, easy to prepare meals. I ran into a site collecting links for 472 meals in a jar. To be frank, it’s more like 472 edible things, from sauces to single dish meals to spice mixes. We are definitely going to try a few, including this KFC chicken spice mix.

— 5 —

RIP Nelson Mandela. One of the events of my childhood I remember best is watching the coverage on the elections where he was elected… He was a great leader and I wish many of the other leaders of the world would have learnt from him.

— 6 —

Netflix is awesome. Our new foster boy and I started to watch Arrow season 1. I almost forgot how much I loved that show. Partly because of this:

Source: http://greenarrow.wikia.com/wiki/Merlyn_(John_Barrowman)/Gallery

Source: http://greenarrow.wikia.com/wiki/Merlyn_(John_Barrowman)/Gallery

John Barrowman plays Malcolm Merlyn, and I adore John Barrowman. Partly because Oliver Queen is cool and awesome, and uses Windows, not a Mac. Partly because it is jsut a great show to watch with teenagers.

— 7 —

Shabbat Shalom! With Chanukah over, and over a year away, the candles we lit today were for the Shabbat. While we don’t strictly observe it, the Shabbat is still such a blessing in our week.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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