Pretzel Challah

I don’t have much time today because I am busy making challah! Today I am pretzelling four of the eigt loaves I am making. Who thought it could be so easy!

In short, make your bread product as you normally do. I admit I use prefab bread and thaw it out to make my challah. In this case, I let it get soft and then cut it into loaf sizes and then strip sizes and then braid it into the final presentation.

Here comes the magic!

Boil 1/2C water. Stir in 1.5 t of baking soda once the water has boiled. It will fizz and bubble. Take it off the heat. Take a brush and brush your bread product with the baking soda mixture.

YES! IT’S THAT EASY!

Make sure you get all the nooks and crannies. If you want finish with an egg wash for a nice brown, shiny crust. Bake as you normally would ūüôā

Added: the children pronounced it “good! It tastes like a pretzel!” which is certainly high praise! Then they split the loaf in half, each taking half, and scurried back to their lairs.

Try it!

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Six Words That Define Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

I subscribe to writing prompts and yesterday’s was to describe your current life situation in six words so here’s my stab at that.

Content in my four poster bed.

My first purchase when I came back from Israel and one that meant the very most for me was my bed. Prior to that I was homeless and a vagabond sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Having a bed frame and getting off that floor was a step up…literally and figuratively.

I had already met Scott because when I found the bed on Craigslist for cheap, he borrowed his daughter’s van and went with me to parts unknown to get it and the box spring that came with it.

We brought it back to my house….yes, the one without running water or sanitation…that I was basically homesteading off the grid in… and I remember the fun night we had figuring how to set it up with no instructions. It was an Ikea four poster white metal bed and I loved it. Sleeping in it that first night was heaven. To be off that floor and in a real bed was empowering a move that I can hardly describe in making me feel human again.

Not long after Scott decided that the conditions that I was living in were just too deplorable and offered me space at his house and I moved, leaving my bed behind.

And it was this past Thursday that finally, we were able to move not only all of my other furniture – an antique buffet, my dining room table and chairs, an antique armoire, a bookcase (can you have too many?) and a dresser for Evan – but also my cherished bed to my new home, finally leaving all of the horrible past that happened to me when I first returned from Israel behind.

So yes, those six words sum up how I felt yesterday very eloquently – content – very content – in my four poster bed.

Settling In

Up to this point, I have been rebuilding my own life from the ground up. Rebuilding inside and outside. Therapy has helped on the inside and for the outside I have acquired shoes and clothes and lots of books and yarn.

This week I have taken a new step in the rebuilding process.

I had some of my furniture still left in my old house. It hurts me so much to be there that I cry tears of such pain every time we have to go there. Scott and I had planned to get the boys to help and on Thursday this week, we would move my cherished furniture from my old house to my new house — the house Scott and I share.

I was entirely too upset to be a part of the “festivities” so I stayed home and worried myself into a migraine and upset stomach while the move was made but I was so happy when they arrived home and everything was brought inside.

We celebrated with pizza and donuts and by putting our bed together last night. We couldn’t get the box springs up the steps (they say that love grows best in small houses but come on!) but we still had the slats under the mattress so until we can get a set of separated box springs, it works.

In the meantime, there’s a lot more storage space which after rebuilding with clothes and shoes and books and yarn, I need a LOT of. AND there’s a lot of organizing, rearranging and homemaking to do.

And that, I think is the next step in my rebuilding. When I was out shopping last evening, I looked at tablecloths and bedspreads and dishtowels instead of clothes and cute socks. I think I am moving onto thinking of things around me and outside of myself.

I am moving onto making my house into my home and that’s a huge step forward for me…a long way from where I was two years ago and yet, a long way still from where I hope to be in two years.

There is a difference though that is the key. This time around I have dreams and I see myself in them.

Stomachtime blues

I spent the entire day Tuesday in the emergency room.  I don’t so much have a problem with that because, I mean, I did call my PCP complaining of a weird pain in my upper abdomen that felt like something was stuck and I DO have a gastric bypass…so it could have been any number of things.  The most prudent thing to do to get me seen quickly and tested promptly was to send me straight to the emergency room.

It was a whole day adventure which involved a whole lot of barium which culminated in a short-lived CT scan which showed a thickening of some connection between my stomach and my intestines.  I probably should follow-up with my PCP and get a referral to my bariatric doctor.  It scares me a little because while I have my little tiny Frankentummy, my great big “remnant” stomach still hangs out as well.

And that sometimes worries me because, well, what happens to that if something goes wrong?

In this case, the problem is with my Frankentummy.  I can identify when the problem started which is when I was hospitalized in June and they switched me from prilosec to protonix.  I remember clearly (which makes me a little complicit I suppose) being told that prilosec was THE drug of choice for us RNYers (that is the type of bypass I had) and not to accept another kind.  But I was also assured in the hospital that protonix was the “same” thing.  Then when my THEN PCP substituted it for my refill of prilosec, I lemmingly went along.

And now we see where that has gotten me.  Yep….with a pre-ulcer and enough discomfort that I can’t sleep and sitting for long periods is uncomfortable and letting my stomach get empty isn’t exactly a walk in the park either.  Of course filling it up hurts too.  And drinking?  OY!

So far my bypass has been pretty cooperative.  If I eat right and exercise moderately we get along okay.  I started to think about getting a pretty radical revision done but in the line of exploring why I have gained 40# I discovered a lot about my slovenly ways.

I don’t move enough and I eat entirely too many processed carbs.  My battered Frankentummy is quaking as I remember!!!

I have since decided NOT to proceed with the radical surgery, to buy some clothes that will fit, to work hard on my really wayward habits and if this is what I am then this is what I am which isn’t bad at all.  I can live with this.

Emphasis on LIVE.

Sadly one of my online friends who had a revision (not the one I was considering but equally as challenging) passed away from complications and that was a HUGE wakeup call.  I don’t need that surgery and because I don’t need it…I can live the way I am.  I am fine the way I am.

So…I spent Tuesday in the emergency room.  My Frankentummy is a little battered but hopefully it’s on the mend.  My stupid insurance wouldn’t pay for the meds I need but I have a slush fund I could pay for the over the counter brand with.  So I am good.

And really.  I am good.  I am really good.

Wintertime

Right on schedule, wintertime started in western Pennsylvania, and here in the Mon Valley on Halloween, and with it came heavy, bilowy, grey clouds that threatened rain and snow, colder temperatures and a biting wind.  More so than even the Christmas baccanalia that fills the stores this time of year, the weather really signals winter has come.

A week ago we thought temperatures that kissed the 40sF were cold.  Today, that has all changed and we wait for the 20sF because those will surely come and the gloves and hats and winter coats have come out and repairs have been made, what needs washed has been tossed into the dryer and we are pronounced ready for the inevitable.

Sure, it could get warm again and most likely will. ¬†But this coldness which caused us to turn on the heat, and hence the rule that the heat won’t be turned on until November 1, has come right on time.

It’s funny how we often wait a long time for winter to finally give way to spring which is cpaxed to give way to summer. ¬†Fall is standing at the ready with leaves that start to turn in early August regrettably. ¬†But winter, winter seems to come right on time. ¬†And even though summer can peek through occasionally causing oddly warm Thanksgivings or Hanukkah nights when warm strolls in the neighborhood seem more appropriate than the winter evenings I remember when we stood in knee deep snow to screw the lightbulbs into the chanukia in front of the synagogue on Main Street.

Yes, winter is here and won’t be letting us forget here until sometime in March or maybe even April if she decides to overstay her welcome. For me it’s a good time, a warm time and I know a lot of folks don’t feel the same way. ¬†It’s a time to bake cookies and think about warm, nights filled with family and knitting and soup-filled tummies inside a warm home looking from the inside out at the cold, frosty night.

Wintertime has come.

 

 

Recapturing Shabbat

I’ve talked before about how all of my issues over the last two years caused me to fall horrendously down the ladder of observance. ¬†I particularly miss my Shabbats.

Shabbats in Israel were particularly special to me. ¬†I spent them usually alone with my Boy, and we’d often take some smoke on our nargila (hookah) which I know is BAD but which we found to be SO Israeli and so relaxing, to start our Shabbat. ¬†We’d listen for the Shabbat siren to sound signaling when we’d watch the Jerusalem sun begin to set and we’d light candles together. ¬†Then we’d bless the wine and challah I’d bought that day and have the wonderful meal I’d cobbled together.

I loved it.  WE loved it.

Then we came back and were separated and even though eventually we were brought back together, baruch Hashem, I’d seemed to have lost everything. ¬†I was pretty much homeless and couldn’t drive. ¬†I was living in a home that I wasn’t yet comfortable in and I wasn’t comfortable with being me. ¬†I was deeply troubled and depressed. ¬†That year I couldn’t even bring myself to acknowledge the High Holy Days, much less celebrate them.

I HAVE started to feel better and I feel much more at home both in my skin and in my surroundings.  I made it to Rosh Hashanah services this year and celebrated the holiday as best I could with festive meals at home but Shabbat, Shabbat has eluded me for some reason.

Oddly since Scott and I became engaged, I have stressed that it’s very important for me that he convert before we marry. ¬†So…since he was interested anyway, he has chosen to take the step now. ¬†And…given that, we are attending conversion classes together.

The topic this week was Shabbat and on the way home Scott said it was curious why sometimes I lit candles and sometimes I didn’t.

Right then and there I knew that as important as I knew it had been for Evan when ¬†was growing up (and even now – he will light sometimes when I don’t but not every week) it is now just as important for Scott’s fledgling neshama…maybe more so since he is so new to ALL of this and religion in general.

So this week I got over it.  I made challah (which I HAVE been doing pretty much every week since the beginning of this year) and I baked a sour cream bundt cake for everyone to enjoy.  I made chicken in the crock pot and a cholent in the other crock pot for today.  We lit candles, blessed the children, blessed the wine and challah and ate together.  Havdallah candles were found and grape juice placed at the ready.

I made Shabbat come and I am really glad I did.  I watched the Shabbat candles glow and then fade out and I felt happy that I had tried and succeeded.

We attended services on Saturday morning and as I prayed the long lost but familiar prayers I knew they were and always would be a part of me, just like Shabbat. ¬†I just had to make them come out and just like Shabbat…they were there all the time.

I really just had to light the candles to see that and watch it glow in everyone’s faces.

What Makes You Happy

It’s easy to write a blog post about those things that make me unhappy…and Lord knows I have written a lot of those lately. ¬†But what about those things that make me happy? ¬†I know it shouldn’t be that hard so why don’t I write more about them? ¬†Tonight I plan to do just that.

Sometimes when I am in the abyss it’s hard to think of anything that would make me really HAPPY. ¬†I mean what IS happiness anyway? ¬†But the reality is I know what happiness is. ¬†Happiness is beig with my son even when he’s rambing away for the gabillionth time about exacting revenge on the unsuspecting victim of the day as his alter ego, the Oera Ghost. ¬†Happiness is looking at my two freaky dogs when they are sleeping and wanting to hug and kiss them. ¬†Happiness is listening t o “I’m Just a Gigilo” at the end of my walk when I am on my way home. ¬†Happiness is hugging Scott when he comes home from work.

See? ¬†That’s not so hard.

Happiness is knowing Shabbat is right around the corner.  Happiness is being an Israeli citizen and aving had the greatest experience in my life of living in Jerusalem with my son.  Happiness is having a warm home and a soft bed and heat and air conditioning and a mixer to make cookies with.  Happiness is having running water.  Really.

Happiness is having a best friend who listens when the going gets rough and who isn’t afraid to say, hey, listen to ME when I get lost in myself. ¬†Happiness is being safe. ¬†Happiness is being loved.

There are so many things to be happy about.  Probably way more than there are to be sad or angry about but sometimes it seems that the bad things seem so enormous and overwhelming.  At least to me they can be consuming.

I hope that when I am down or sad or overwhelmed I’l remember to come back to this post or even just to my private journal and be happy in the moment because there are so many happys to put the bads in their place.