Sunday, May 31, 2009

Summer Stock, I mean shock

Robin at Around the Island (I must take the time to put her in my blogroll, I really like her blog) is starting a new photo meme, dedicated to pictures of summer. She asks:

So what says summer to you? Is it the pool? The beach? A backyard barbecue? A comfy old pair of flip-flops?

Here at Casa Baila, the thing that spells s-u-m-m-e-r is what is turning into an annual ritual: The shaving of Ozzy. If you recall, we did this last year. I thought we would never do it again, but the truth is, it's hot here; Ozzy hasn't been his usual energetic self. We decided to do the shave today and now he's back to chasing buses. Apparently he really does feel better without all that hair all over him. So have a good laugh at the expense of poor Ozzy; before you know it, he'll be back to his gorgeous self.

Ozzy wishes all his fans a great summer!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chag Sameach.

I know you've all been waiting with bated breath, but I just didn't get a chance to photograph the Best Cheesecake In The World. Truth is, it doesn't look like anything special, it's the taste that's mazing and I'm very much looking forward to my first bite of it (okay, you're right, I did already pick at it. Sheesh, I can't get away with anything around here, can I?)

Anyway, it's almost time to light candles so I wanted to wish you all a Happy Shavuot. I will be busy all night studying the backs of my eyelids. For those of you immersed in more serious study, well, you're better people than tired ol' me.

Enjoy your cheesecake.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


What you have above is an X-ray I took about two weeks ago. My left foot has been bothering me for about two months (maybe longer). The pain is on the bottom of my heel. When I was at my doctor for a routine visit, I asked her to give me a referral for an X-ray since I was going to that building for routine bloodwork anyway. I knew if I went to see the orthopedist he would send me for an X-ray. My appointment is later today and I'll be ready with a CD of my foot (the technician just handed it over when I was done). Now I had already self-diagnosed myself and the X-ray confirmed my suspicion: a heel spur. You see that little chupchick sticking out?--it's not supposed to be there. Once I had diagnosed myself (before confirmation via radiation) I also self-treated with specific exercises (G-d, I love the internet). Treatment has been semi-successful until I started Trep's Walking Program on Sunday. Now I think more aggressive treatment is warranted. I'll consult with Dr. Sugar (really his name. Well, its Sucar, which in Hebrew is sugar) and we'll decide on a plan of action together. Or he'll tell me what to do and I'll nod my head in agreement.

I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I don't mind any free advice you happen to have.

If you're interested in seeing more X-rays, Benji has his teeth up (or someone's teeth, anyway) at Haveil Havalim. He actually inspired me to share my foot with you, so you can go over there and thank him.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Take the challenge

Treppenwitz has thrown down the gauntlet. He is blaming all of us, the J-blogosphere for his pudge (his words, not mine!).

To that end, he has created a competition at He wants us to put on pedometers and start counting our steps. The goal would be to hit at least 10,000 steps per day. He's promising a prize for the winner and maybe some rewards for those of us that who won't win. I'll have to do something creative to win myself a prize. He's given away at least one, uhm, very interesting prize that I know of.

I decided to sign up, but I didn't have pedometer to count steps. So I posted on the Modiin Listserve and you wouldn't believe how many people have pedometers gathering dust in their junk drawers. I scored myself one for free. G-d, I love the internet.

So go visit him here for details. Do it now, because you can start counting (in Israel) right now. The competition lasts for a month. We'll all be better, perhaps smaller, most definitely healthier people for it.

After all, it's only 300,000 steps.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A present for you for Shavuot

The holiday of Shavuot begins next Thursday at Sunday and I've decided to give you, my faithful readers a special treat.

On this holiday it is customary to eat dairy foods, and boy do we ever load up on cheese blintzes and all kinds of pasta dishes. But the high point of the holiday, at least here at Casa Baila is the cheesecake. Even though I wouldn't call myself the Martha Stewart of baking, I take pride in knowing that I make the absolutely best cheesecake in the world. Period. I didn't even like cheesecake before I got this recipe. I got it from a woman I used to work with about 15 years ago. I haven't seen Dena Feldman in years, but thanks to this recipe I always think of her this time of year. I hope she is doing well.

I have made this cheesecake every year except for one. The problem with it is that it is a high-fat recipe. There is no getting around it. One year I decided to make a different low-fat recipe and Isaac said, "One time a year I get to eat cheesecake, I don't want it to be low-fat". Only he used much more colorful language, which I cleaned up in order not to offend.

In any case, you are forewarned about the fat content. If you intend to be careful over the holiday you can a plan a delicious meal around fish, whole wheat pasta and some of this cheesecake as a treat. Or you can just eat your way through this cheesy holiday and feel sick. (Been there, done that--don't recommend it).

Either way, believe me, this is the best cheesecake ever:


Honey Graham Crackers (the original recipe called for the crackers to be mixed with butter so that they would stick to the pan. I don't bother putting in the butter and sometimes pieces of cookies float to the top, but I like it that way)

2 packages 8 oz. whipped cream cheese (used Tempt Tee if you can)
16 oz. sour cream (Told you it was not low fat)
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Press graham crackers into 9 inch spring foam pan.

Whip cream cheese and sour cream well (no lumps!) Add 1 egg and 1/3 cup of sugar. Do this three times. Add vanilla extract. Beat well, no lumps.

Bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn oven off and leave in for one hour. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN!!!

After it is cooled down, keep refridgerated.

It doesn't come out looking perfect. There are usually cracks, but I feel like it looks like a beautiful, homemade cake. I don't have any pictures yet to show you, but I'll try to post one when I bake it.

As Treppenwitz likes to say, Don't thank me, I'm a giver.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

O Jerusalem

Tonight marks the 42nd anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem. Since then, millions of Jews and non-Jews have visited and prayed at the Kotel--the Western Wall.

This is what General Moshe Dayan had to say at the time:

This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour—and with added emphasis at this hour—our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples' holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.

When the Old City of Jerusalem was in Jordanian hands, our people were denied access to the holiest of our sites. In fact, many Jewish sites were destroyed. Still, we invited people of all faiths to come to Jerusalem to pray. And those people still come in droves.

Today and tomorrow Israel's Eternal Capital will celebrate her re-unification. There will be dancing and singing and the Kotel will be teeming. It's a remarkable time to be in this great city.

Happy Jerusalem Day!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spring has left the building

Summer in Israel has arrived.

You know, the kind of weather where you are afraid to get in your car, where your hands get blistered from touching the steering wheel, where you feel that bead of sweat on your neck that won't go away 'til November, where the sun is so strong you have to squint your eyes even with sunglasses on, where your children and husband (wimps, every last one of 'em) beg for blessed relief.

I just hope the woman who created air-conditioning won some kind of Nobel Prize.

Tomorrow the mercury is going to hit 40 degrees Celsius. I'm to hot to figure out how much that is in the American language, but trust me we're baking over here.

Ahh, summertime.

Batya has the latest Haveil Havalim at her place. Check it out for posts from all over the Jewish blogosphere.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Look what I found on a road trip on Friday

"So", Isaac announced to me earlier in the week, "I need you to come with me to Kibbutz Yavne on Friday to fix my watch."

His beloved watch.

You see my friends, many of you don't know that Isaac is a watch freak (and a pen freak as well, but that's for a different time). He loves watches, the more doo-dads on them the better. His favorite watch has a function that allows him to go deep sea diving and still be able to tell the time in every time zone in the world. Because we all know how often my beloved and his beloved watch go deep sea diving.

Anyhoo, I agreed to accompany said beloved down to Yavne because, well sometimes he does nice things for me, too. It's the whole-give-and-take-thing in marriage that is often spoken of. And because now that he has a car from work, I don't have to worry as much about driving in an un-air-conditioned car and breaking down in the middle of nowhere.

And so we set out. It was a beautiful day for a drive and I really do love looking at our ATLAS HAZAHAV to figure out routes. Orli joined us in our quest to fix the watch. We were having a pleasant enough time, enjoying the scenery and each other, when all of a sudden, like a phoenix rising I saw this:

Hiding in the city of Yavne, a huge storefront dedicated solely to Ben and Jerry's. That would be ice cream. As in American ice cream. Not exactly Haagen Dazs, but pretty close.

Did we stop?

Is the sky blue?

We knew Liat would kick herself for deciding to stay home. Sometimes there are great and just rewards for those willing to join the old folks on their journeys, eh?

Our stop sure made the trip worthwile. Isaac got his watch fixed in about ten minutes, no charge. It's really not that surprising that Kibbutz Yavne, founded by German Jews, is a manufacturer of watches and that they really know how to keep time.

The beloved watch fixed, Ben and Jerry's; all-in-all a pretty darn good Friday.

Shavua Tov--have a great week.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Lag Ba'Omer is a tough holiday for those of us (i.e. American-Israelis) who were raised on Smokey the Bear commercials. For weeks the kids have been out collecting wood, making lists of who's bringing what (Tali had to take crackers!--boy did we get off easy), and informing me that I wasn't invited don't have to be at their maybe-not-so-carefully-planned bonfire.

Of course, I went anyway.

We live in an area where there are still quite a few undeveloped lots and that is where many of the bonfires took place. There must have been about 30 different fires. And Israeli kids build pyres, not measly little campfires. I was a bit shocked at what looked like a group of maybe 6-year-olds feeding a fire under the supervision of a child not much older than they. There were also a couple of kids s walking around with "torches".

At Tali's bonfire there were only a handful of parents who showed up or called to make sure things were covered. It was pretty much the same people who showed up last year. I'm not sure what the other parents were thinking--did they seriously believe that these kids didn't need to have an adult around? Someone remind me next year to call parents to set up a toranut [rotation].

Now I have 12 kids here for a sleepover. The apartment stinks like smoke and the kids sound like screaming banshees are trying to keep it down to a dull roar.

It's going to be a long night.

Happy Lag Ba'Omer (what is the greeting for this chag anyway?)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Checking in....

**On Wednesday I went to the airport to pick up my friend CK who came to Israel for a few days for her nephew's bar-mitzvah. It was great spending some quality time with her.

Interestingly enough, I made a new friend through CK and Facebook. An old friend of CK's and I were always commenting on CK's statuses. (If you don't understand this, you are not on Facebook and that's okay. Really.) This friend of CK's, B, asked me to be her FB friend and I accepted and we've been communicating ever since. On Wednesday night, B and I met for the first time as we had dinner along with CK. Voila! A new instant, real-life friend.

And some people think Facebook is a waste of time.

**On Shabbat we went back to Revava for another cousin's bar-mitzvah. The first time we went, we were literally "off the boat" and still shell-shocked. We have seen my Israeli cousins many times since and they joked that we are not longer "something special" for being here. It was a beautiful Shabbat in many aspects. Maybe I'll elaborate on that later on in the week.

**Liat did not join us because she is under a great deal of pressure from school. While this is true, I also know that she was happy to stay home (she stayed at a friend of mine). I really do feel she missed out. Should we have made her come?

**Lag Ba'Omer coming up tomorrow night. Close the windows and bring your laundry in, the country will be going up in flames. Thankfully, all three girls have plans. Orli is joining her friend's shul medura (bonfire) and Liat is doing mangol with friends. Tali and her friends have been collecting wood for weeks. She keeps telling me that adults don't have to be there as her and her pyromaniac friends try to break the world record for bonfire size. As she says, she is now thirteen and her and her friends can handle a huge bonfire.

Yeah, right.

On the bright side, it does seem that I don't need to cook dinner tomorrow night. Happy mother's day to me.

**I've been thinking about challenging myself to put up a post a day for a month like I did last year. (Although now that I've checked, it seems I only did it for 12 days. Hmmmm.) Or, if not that, to stop blogging (including reading, writing and Facebooking) for two weeks to see how it affects my day-to-day life. I'm scared to read any articles I see that start with, "Are you an internet addict? Click here to tell." Maybe that in it of itself is a sign.

What do you think?

**And finally, it's Jack's birthday! Please go visit and wish him a happy 40th; tell him I sent you. Jack organizes Haveil Havalim, our weekly Jewish Blogosphere round-up and deserves lots and lots of presents.

Have a good week.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Things must be pretty bad at the blog if I've resorted to talking about the weather

Last night, I was awakened at 3 a.m. by howling winds and the clanging sound of a gate swinging open and closed. When I went to the window to investigate, my head was almost sucked out by the air pressure. I have never seen such wind--and dust--blowing over all the place. The umbrella of our outdoor furniture had been left open and was straining against the wind. I woke up Isaac to close it and set it down on the floor. Of course, he was thrilled to be woken up, but really, who can sleep through that kind of racket anyway? Yeah, well don't bother answering that. Let's just say that Isaac is a very talented sleeper.

Anyway, he was quite a site, detaching the umbrella in his boxer shorts. When he was done, he came back to bed and promptly fell asleep. The man is the Baryshnikov of sleeping.

Which left me to count the number of times the door of the neighbors yard would clang into who-knows-what? Was noone else bothered by it? My room sounded like a tornado was going through it. (But the man slept peacefully on, not a care in the world, especially after he had saved Modi'in from his killer umbrella). After throwing a load of laundry in, finishing up some kitchen cleaning and some Facebook chatting with my friend CK, I managed to nod off at about 5:30. I had to get up an hour later, so you'll forgive me if I'm slightly incoherent, and not sure where this post is going.

Apparently, I had just experienced my first real Sharav, or Middle-Eastern Wind/Sand Storm. They used to call it a Hamseen, but now all of a sudden it has a different name. The winds were crazy. I've never seen or heard anything like it. Of course, hafsakat chashmal (at work some people got stuck in the elevator. Everyone remained calm, especially me because I wasn't in the elevator.) Dust everywhere. Hard to breathe. And the wind. Crazy.

I don't really know how to end this post. I guess I'll take questions from the floor, if there are any.

Just another crazy, windy day here in the Holy Land.

Please go check out Haveil Havalim #215 at Gila's place. While you're at it, congratulate her on running the 5k race.