Hello, 2014! You’re Looking Mighty Fine.

Hello, 2014! You’re Looking Mighty Fine.


Friends, Family, and Loved ones,

I am sorry for being so out of the loop — we’ve been going through a time of transition, and can’t wait to tell you all about it! Since I don’t know exactly where to start, I think I’ll start from the beginning…

All of you know that Jonathan and I spent the year in Israel last year, and at some point throughout that adventure, we decided we wanted to spend more time here. Like, move here. So we did. After months of bureaucracy, waiting for the Israeli Consulate to end their four-month long strike, and a photo finish to the plane (literally a photo finish: my visa came in on the Thursday before the flight left…on Monday), we made it to Israel.

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Fresh off the plane and only a little worse for wear. Our row had two toddlers in it for half the flight and then the row behind us inherited them..I’m not sure which was worse.

Somehow, we’ve been here for three months. I’m going to do my best to fill you in on what they’ve had in store for us. (Hint: it includes a puppy!)

For the past three months, we’ve been renting a small apartment in Har Nof, the same neighborhood we lived in last year – actually, right across the street from our old apartment. It’s quaint with “American” fixtures, meaning nicer ceramic tiles and crown molding, which aren’t considered standard by any means for rentals here in Israel. It’s not where we’re going to be long term, but it’s cute, comfortable, and we’ve made a semblance of a home here for the short while we’re here. We (finally!) found a long term apartment, across the next street, complete with a large porch and extra bedrooms we’re planning to move into in the middle of February. Until then, we’re using this apartment half as storage and half as living space — and missing a proper kitchen.

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This is it – in all it’s glory. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with?

We’d only been here about a month when someone mentioned to me that they saw a puppy on facebook that was found abandoned on the street. Since they weren’t allowed animals in their apartment, I went home and discussed (re: begged) with Jonathan about getting a dog, something we’d been wanting to do for a long time, but never felt settled down enough. He told me, “Go get him (at the time we thought she was a him) before I change my mind,” so off I went to Hebrew University, where I met the dog who would later be called Lucy, once we unwrapped the towel she was swaddled in and saw she was in fact…a she.

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She was as shocked as we were!

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Loving on some yogurt as big as her head…

Lucy was tiny, only 4 weeks old, malnourished, and covered in fleas. I ran to the store and bought some goat’s milk and a baby bottle, which I fed her by hand, and tried to feed her some scrambled eggs, which she didn’t have much interest in. She slept the entire night (I woke up a thousand times to check on her), and in the morning discovered yogurt, her all-time favorite food. After trips to the vet, vaccinations, and two months of TLC, she’s a little demon, alternating between snuggling and chewing on my shirt-sleeve to get my attention as I’m typing this right now. Oh wait, now she’s asleep.

case in point.

case in point.

We love having Lucy, but we definitely underestimated the amount of responsibility involved in adopting a 4 week old puppy. Let me spell it out for you: basically, puppies can hold their bladders for 1 hour for every month they are alive, plus one hour. That meant that little Lucy could go a whopping 2 hours between being taken outside to go to the bathroom, or she would pee wherever she was. So for about one month, we’d set alarms for every 2 hours to take her out in the middle of the night, and make sure we never left her alone for longer than that. Then, the 2 hour rule got expanded to 3 hours when Lucy got another month older, except for one week that she was sick and had no control over her muscles at all. Thank goodness we tricked her into thinking her antibiotics were treats. Now, Lucy is an energetic, healthy, three and a half month puppy who keeps our hands and hearts full, and guards our home with her surprisingly loud bark.

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guarding our home from invited and uninvited guests.

Other than Lucy and our house-guest as pictured above (Simba, courtesy of our friends S&B), we had another amazing surprise so far in Israel – SNOW! I’m going to save the details for another post about what it’s like to experience a blizzard in a country with no snow plows, but I couldn’t resist adding a sneak preview of what’s to come…

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and that was the first day…

So, now that I’ve told you about our living arrangement and our new addition, what else occupies our time? Work. Which we do a lot of.

I LOVE my job. I work at a seminary called Baer Miriam, where I serve as the eim bayit, or house mother. This role entails everything from kissing boo-boos to studying with the girls, leading seminars, and even teaching a class for college credit, which I will be doing next semester. The best part of it all: inheriting 40 or so 18 & 19-year old pseudo-daughters for the school year. The girls keep my life fun and busy, with plenty of drama to boot. As someone who was a bit of a drama queen in high school, I think it’s a perfect fit.

I also work for another company called Pearl & Clasp, a luxury jewelry company that specializes in custom pieces, necklace clasps, and pearl restringing, where I am the Social Media Manager; meaning, I do freelance writing for fashion blogs and business websites that make mention of the business, and manage the facebook, google+, and twitter accounts for the company. This job helps me itch my writing bug, which also makes me feel guilty for not writing here, something I hope to change.

As for Jonathan, he’s putting his degree to good use by cooking for a girls’ school in our neighborhood and is trying to start his own personal catering company, Jerusalem Catering. He’s also studying a half day and helps me with pretty much everything (my girls call him Mr. Carly), so we’re definitely keeping busy. We’re also writing a cookbook with 52 cholent (overnight Shabbos Day) recipes. I’ll keep you posted as we’re looking for people to test out recipes in kitchens other than our own.

I think that pretty much sums up the past three months in 1000 words. I’m going to try to update more regularly (I’m starting to sound like a broken record) to keep everyone included in our life overseas.

Happy New Year, everyone! Especially Mom, Dad, Mom Mom, and Becca, who I miss very, very much and hope to see soon, even though you’re turning my bedroom into a gym. And Chelsea – can’t forget her.

 

A Little Wisdom


Not many of you know, but I’ve been working on a memoir (novel style) for the past year, and since I’ve unfortunately taken a bit of a hiatus from working on it (no one to blame but myself) I seem to have forgotten what I saved it as on my computer. While searching for it using every keyword I can think of, I came across this gem, and thought about not sharing it because when I wrote it seven years ago, I think I meant it to be private, but decided that it’s worth sharing.

My 12th grade English teacher gave our class a pretty cliche assignment – write a letter to yourself. As you’ll see, I wasn’t too excited about the assignment, because I saved it for the last moment. But what I wrote was relevant then and is still relevant now, and it was exactly what I needed to read today.

May 16, 2007

Dear Carly,

That was weird.  I mean, its weird writing to myself, and starting a letter to myself is a strange thing to do at eight o’clock when I know that I should be working on my term paper before it ends up being fifteen pages.  Even though it will be fifteen pages, whether I do it tonight or not.  Okay, now I need to stop rambling.

I’m going to try.  I don’t know why I waited until the last minute to start this letter.  Whenever I get an assignment like this, I always wait until the very last minute because I guess I’m afraid of the future.  I’m afraid of what is going to happen four years from now and I’m afraid that I wont remember any of the people that I’m going to mention or I will remember then but I wont talk to them anymore.  I really try hard not to be afraid of change but it’s so hard because everything happens so fast and most of the time there’s nothing I can do about it.

Like this year.  It has been such an up and down year and I have felt so many things and I have been so afraid of not being able to make it and then finally I have been so happy to be alive.  Before this year I cannot ever remember crying tears of joy but I did it, and I looked like an idiot, crying tears of joy in my car.

I hope that four years from now I still read as much as I do now.  I hope that I never lose the wonder of diving into a book and not coming out for days and days.  But mostly, I hope that I still write.  Right now, I find such wonder in words and letters and sentences so much that the feeling of a pen or a pencil in my hand is like home.  I don’t know what I would do with my life if I didn’t have my poetry.  College will give me many opportunities to make my performance skills better too, and I hope that I still talk to Mr. Simmons enough to invite him to my performances and have him feel less awkward about coming.

I have to keep in touch with Mr. Simmons.  Not just because he is the poetry club person, but because he gave me the motivation to keep my pen in my hand even when I thought that I couldn’t do it anymore.  And sometimes, it made me really really really mad.  But I did it anyway because writing is like a drug and without it you can seriously injure yourself.  But with it you can save yourself from more things than just yourself.

I really hope that in four years I still know who my friends are: I mean like my real friends, not just the ones that I ask for help on homework or gossip with.

I must mention Jonathan.  Its kind of funny, because at this time last year Jonathan and I had just been together for a month, and now looking back so much seems to have changed, when really, nothing did at all.  Jonathan and I went from never talking to each other outside of school to being practically attached at the hip, and now I feel stronger for him than I ever thought I’d be able to feel about a person.  The bond that we have is a special one, and I cannot imagine a day without telling him everything that happened or sharing a laugh.  He talks about forever, about spending one hundred years together, and as much as I’d like to believe him, I hope that I don’t let him get in the way of my dreams.  I want to experience everything, I want to see the world, and I want to share it with him.  And then, when I’m ready to settle down, if it’s with him, then that will be good.  But if its not, well, that will be good too.  I’ve never been the kind of person to plan my life around a guy, and I don’t plan to be that person anytime soon.  But I know that I love Jonathan more than I knew a person was capable to love.  And I am lucky to have experienced that love.  To be experiencing that love.  And as much as I would like to be sitting next to him reading him this letter in four years, I will not say that it is definite.  I might be, but like I said, if its not, that will be okay also.

I’m not going to lie and pretend that I am thrilled to be leaving high school.  I mean, I’m proud that I did it, and I’m relieved that I don’t have any more work to do, but I’m going to miss the structure and seeing everyone every day.  Mostly, I’m going to miss lunches with Mr. Simmons and Mrs. Corlies’ seamless transitions from one point to another (hopefully I will learn that skill myself!) and sitting in the grass and reading poetry with Mac and just sharing moments that seemed so meaningless but were so full of sustenance with so many people that I care about more than I will ever admit.

I’ve never been very good at the whole run-on sentence thing.  I mean, I write them like its my job.  It’s the one thing that anyone would find in reading any of my papers from however old we were when we started writing to now.  Run-on sentences are my thing.  It’s because I just write the way that my brain tells me to and sometimes that results in a run-on sentence.  or a fragment.  But I’m rambling again.

I could try to search my mind for a last word of wisdom, but the only thing that I would find is a pun or a joke that no one but me will think is funny.  That tends to happen a lot.  Not that I mind or anything.  I love every second of it.

The point of the matter is that the most important thing that I learned this year is that it’s okay to make mistakes and admit it.  It’s okay to write the occasional run-on sentence and it’s okay to realize that I’m alive after sleepwalking for so long.  Have fun with life.  It’s a good thing.

Good luck,

Carly

Meet Chelsea, Wonderdog!


My parents rescued a dog fairly recently, and her name is Chelsea. She’s very sweet, looks just like her predecessor, Snickers, and has a thousand times more personality. Am I allowed to say that? Okay, maybe not more personality per say, but just a more…hyperactive personality.

One of Chelsea’s calmer moments. I may have been holding a toy. Or something shiny. She likes those.

Anyway, apparently the weather in Philadelphia hasn’t been so good the past few weeks (but today it’s beautiful!), so my parents had to be creative when trying to figure out how to help Chelsea blow off all her extra steam.

Luckily, she’s very smart.

I Am Allergic to Apples


Yesterday, I brought two mangoes to class to eat for breakfast. Since eating mangoes usually results in delicious juice dripping down my face, hands, and clothes (anyone else feel like they can’t ever get the stickiness off?), I decided that being in a class where we were using sefarim (holy books), I should try to find another approach.

It took me forever to eat these mangoes. I peeled them, cut the flesh off the pit, and used a fork and knife to eat the mangoes. Apparently (I obviously didn’t know this, at the time), it mesmerized everyone in my class. Afterwards, I was approached by several people, all asking:

“Do you always eat mangoes that way?”

Although I don’t always eat mangoes that way, I do usually eat mangoes over any other fruit. This, I am sad to say, is because I am allergic to the majority of other fruits.

When I was a teenager, I went to see an allergist, who did a plethora of tests. The blood tests revealed that I am not allergic to any foods.

But wait, you must be thinking, she just said she’s allergic to the majority of other fruits. Is this person insane?

I assure you, I am not insane. Both of these things are facts. I am not allergic to any foods, but I am allergic to most fruits. This is because my allergy is not the result of an allergy.

What I have is called oral allergy syndrome. It means that I am allergic to some sort of pollen that has a protein compound similar to the fruits, which gives me an allergic reaction. When fruits are cooked or frozen, I am not allergic to them because those protein compounds have broken down. I learned the hard way that those protein compounds do not break down if the fruits are freeze dried.

So what fruits am I allergic to?

Apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, cherries (these give me the worst reaction), plums, and almost any other fruit that has a skin that you eat along with the fruit (save for grapes).

What happens to me? Nothing life threatening, thank G-d, but my mouth gets very itchy, and cherries make me lose my voice. I’ve heard that these reactions can get worse if you eat these fruits more often, so unfortunately, there’s only one way for me to enjoy these foods, which I happen to love:

IN PIE.

See: Pie.

 

 

Mangoes in Israel


Since we’re on a limited budget here in Israel, our food choices are sometimes affected. This, however, does not stop us from stocking up on something that in America, costs way more than it does in Israel. No, I’m not talking about rice, or fish, or meat. I’m talking about G-d’s candy. I’m talking about fruit.

The fruit in Israel, specifically mangoes, which are my all-time FAVORITE fruits, are AMAZING here. The first time I bit into one was like the first time I ate a mango — it redefined what the fruits are supposed to taste like. Since I’m allergic to almost all other fruits (I can only partake in them cooked), and I want to eat them here, I’ve been making a lot of fruit-filled desserts. During the holiday, I made a delicious Apple Crisp using my mom’s recipe not once, not twice, but three times. Each time the baking dish was licked clean by all of our friends guests Jonathan me.

Sorry for the caveat — I definitely have fruit on the mind today, and I know I promised an update on my etrog jelly, but we’re having a little bit of trouble getting it to set up. It tastes delicious, but I think I over-soaked the pectin from the but I am having some trouble with my etrog jelly. Unfortunately, it isn’t setting up like it’s supposed to — I guess I over-soaked the pectin out of it! So I’m off to the health-food store to try to find some powdered pectin!

I’m meeting Jonathan there, so we’re probably going to get some falafel for dinner while we’re out — I’ll try to update again later!

While I’m here, I want to give you the chance to ask me some questions so that I can answer them on my blog. Anything you want to know about what it’s like to live in Israel? What it’s like to be an Orthodox Jew? Feel free to post a comment if there’s something you’d like to know.

Chodesh Tov! (Rosh Chodesh, the new moon, is today and tomorrow — it’s a minor festival in Judaism, and it means no housekeeping, no sewing, and definitely no laundry — all things I’m happy to not have a reason to do :-))

New Adventures


In my last blog post, I tried to open up a little bit about a series of challenges (as I called them) that have been holding me back somewhat from reaching my potential, professionally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. I’m happy to say that thanks to a positive attitude and a lot of perseverance, things seem to be looking up, and I’m excited to share some news with all of my friends and family who read this blog:

Two weeks from today, Jonathan and I are going to be getting on a plane to go to Israel, where we will be living for the next year. This has been a dream for us for a long time. When we were engaged, we wanted to go immediately after our wedding, but for monetary and educational reasons, we decided to wait. Since then, we’ve “planned” to go almost a dozen times, and thanks to a domino affect of what we call hashgacha pratis, or divine intervention of things falling into place (almost simultaneously!) we are (finally!) committed to go.

For some of you this is news, and some already know — and I apologize if it seems to come out of the blue. Right now, we’re crazily packing up our lives and apartment, and we take off in two weeks. While there, I hope to update both of my blogs faithfully and loyally to keep all of you informed on our new adventures as a married couple, in the promised land.

Any advice for essentials to bring while living in a foreign country?