Sunday, November 30, 2014

Menu for the Week

It's that time of the week again - you know, when I realize that if I don't plan out certain things, we'll just get STUCK!

Among all the other things requiring my attention is our menu planning.

So here' what we're having this week:

Breakfasts: muffins, oatmeal, toast, cereal, fruit

Lunches: Soups, sandwiches, random leftovers

Suppers: Sunday: Shabbat leftovers
Monday: Vegetable-Barley Soup, Fresh whole wheat dinner rolls with butter
Tuesday: Split Pea Soup, ??
Wednesday: Baked Ziti, Salad
Thursday: Spicy Potatoes, Scrambled Eggs, Salad

Of course, this menu is subject to change according to my mood!

What's your menu for the week look like?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Save $ with Educents!

Do you buy curriculum or learning supplements for your children, grandchildren, or even your students?

Have you checked out Educents yet?

It's a great way to buy discounted curriculum and educational supplies in small quantities at great discounts!

And right now, you can use code Educents10Free to get an EXTRA 10% off + FREE Shipping on all orders (no minimum purchase required)! This is on top of the already AMAZING savings that are built into all of the Educents deals!

So don't wait, because these deals are going to end at 11:59PM PST on 12/1/14

(Some products only ship within the US, but some deals are for online programs or downloadable materials, which are usually available anywhere in the world!)

this post contains affiliate links 

Crock Pot Lentil Soup (Vegan)

This Shabbat I decided NOT to make my usual cholent.

Instead, I made this Crock Pot Lentil Soup which was a really great way for us to warm up at lunch! And it was so simple to make!

And, since we were just 3 for lunch, we have plenty of leftover soup for Melave Malka after Shabbat!

Here's the recipe:

Crock Pot Lentil Soup

1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small potato, diced
1 cup whole barley grains, soaked if possible, drained, and rinsed
500g whole red lentils, picked over and rinsed
water to fill the pot
salt and pepper to taste

Fill Crock-Pot with all the above ingredients. Cook on high for a couple of hours, then switch to low till lunchtime, or at least 5 more hours (although my low setting is not working well - it's TOO low, so I left it on high and it was perfect for lunch!)
Note: My crock pot is a 6 or 6.5L crock pot, like this one:


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Electrical Appliance Cost Calculator

This calculator was updated to reflect the current rate (effective January 15, 2018)


After writing that blog post about appliances and how much electricity you can expect to be using when you run them (see the Electric Bills post), I decided to make it even easier for you to determine how much your electrical appliances are costing you when you use them , and I am SO excited to reveal the first Web App I've ever hosted on this blog!

I'm sure you'll find it really easy to use, and I really hope it helps you keep your electric bills in check!

Simply choose which appliance you want to calculate, choose how long you'll be running it, and then the app (below) will tell you how much this particular appliance is costing you to run! This app is specifically designed using the IEC's current tarriffs, including VAT (this is for people who pay the same rate 24 hrs/day, who have a residential contract with the IEC). If the IEC rates change, we will update this app! (NOTE: On January 15, 2018, the IEC lowered electricity rates. Current cost of electricity is approx 54 ag per kWh including VAT.)

So bookmark this page, and be sure to share it with anyone in Israel who will find this information useful!

Please let me know what you think!

Electrical Appliance Cost Calculator:

Choose an appliance and note its "usage unit" in parantheses after it. Choose how many units you would be using it for (for example, a fridge has day for its usage unit, a dryer has 1 load for its usage unit, and a hair dryer has 10 minutes for its usage unit), then click "calculate my cost" to find out how much that appliance costs you to run for the time you plan to run it!
If your appliance doesn't appear on this list, you can find its kilowatt rating on it somewhere. Multiply kw/H by number of hours used by the current price for a kilowatt of electricity (0.55nis) to find out how much it costs you to run it!

Select an appliance:
Number of usage units:

Range: 0.00 ₪ — 0.00(depends on your model)

About the Web App Developer:
I'm Ester's son and resident tech guy.
If you need some tech help, you can email me at scimonster1 (at) gmail (dot) com. I'm happy to work at reasonable prices.
Also, i answer questions on StackOverflow, the #1 programming Q&A site:
profile for Scimonster at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Food Recall (Israel)!

The Ministry of Health issued the following RECALL today:

Maadanei Hataleh brand Stuffed Boneless Chicken Thighs (with onions and mushrooms)

Barcode # 2410874, sold in 2 packs (frozen) with a use by date of 14.10.2015 are being recalled from store shelves because of a possible listeria contamination.

Consumers who have purchased this product are being asked NOT to eat it, and to call the company's customer service line at 08-624-6000 

Please share this recall with anyone else who may have purchased this product!

Stay up to date - find me on Facebook!

Electric Bills

It's rainy and chilly - Israeli winter - and for many of us that means this is the season we have the highest electric bills of the year!

It's darker for more hours of the day, so we use more lighting in our homes, the sun is not warming our water well (most of us have  a "dud shemesh" - a solar powered water heater - that gives us plentiful hot water when it's sunny out), so we have to use the electric water heater. We tend to eat and drink more hot foods and drinks in the winter, so we use our ovens, stoves, and kettles more often. AND we also run our various heating devices in the winter to combat the chill that seeps into our homes...

Just like you are, I'm trying to lower my electricity bill, so I decided to research a bit and see where it's all going.

I'm not doing so well this week with that, though. Just yesterday I turned on my oven and then got distracted. Then I changed my food plan, and never did the baking. About FOUR hours later (ouch!) I remembered I had turned on the oven!!

These things happen. But I'll try not to make a habit of it.

Anyhow, in an effort to figure out effective ways to bring my electric bill down, I decided to figure out how much each appliance I have costs to run.
I started with the information sheets on the Israel Electric Company Website, so I could get a general idea of the typical energy consumption of home appliances.

(This information will help you in the summer, as well, by the way, so be sure to bookmark this page!) 

Here's what the IEC lists as the typical power usage of most appliances:

Frost-Free refrigerator:  0.55 - 4.1 kWh per day

Frost Free freezer - range in size 98-479L:  0.8-2.73 kWh per day (mine is actually larger than this)

Dishwasher - range 1-2.2 kWh per cycle

Electric Burner - 0.75 kWh for 50 minutes of cooking

Oven - 1.5-2.2 kWh for normal cooking tasks

Microwave - 0.03 -0.05 kWh for 2 min of reheating

Toaster Oven - 0.12-0.45 kWh for 15 min of reheating

Shabbat Platta - 8.6-10.4 kWh per 26hr period

Space heater 0.5-3.5 kWh per hour

Wall Unit (heater/a/c)- 1-5.2 kWh per hour

Under -Floor Heating - 0.1-0.16 kWh per hour

Washing machine (4-5kg machine) 1.4-3.0 kWh per load
(mine is actually larger than this)

Dryer (4.5-5kg) 2.7-3.7 kWh per load (mine is actually larger than this)

TV - 0.04-0.15 kWh per hour of use

Stereo system - 0.03-0.15 kWh per hour of use

Vacuum cleaner - 0.13-0.2 kWh per 10 min of use

Hair Dryer - 0.06- 0.2 kWh per 10 min of use

Electric Sheets - 0.05 - 0.8 kWh per hour of use

Electric Kettle - 0.1 kWh per use

Food Processor - 0.05 - 0.2 kWh per 15 min of use

Computer - 0.11-0.15 kWh per hour of use

Iron - 0.3 kWh for 45 min on high

Fan - 0.04-0.1 kWh per hour of use

Hot Water Heaters - completely depends on the size and age and condition of your "dud", as well as the amount of insulation around it. There are far too many factors to go into here in this post.

Light bulbs - there are a wide variety of light bulbs with various energy ratings, it's too much to include every variation here. We try to use compact flourescent bulbs whenever possible to save electricity.

Once you can guesstimate how much energy a given appliance is using, you can figure out how much it costs to run it by multiplying the kWh per "unit of use" (see information above, could be 10 minutes, one hour, or a full day, or anything in between) by the number of "units of use" by the current electricity rate (the current rate is 55.29 agurot, including 17% VAT - updated January, 2017).

So, to find out how much I am spending to boil water in my electric kettle, assuming I boil water 4 times per day (in the winter we drink lots of hot drinks):

0.1 X 4 X 63.76 = 25.5 agurot per day (old electric rate)

To find out how much my dryer costs me to run per load (although I have a larger dryer than the one the IEC assumes we have, so this is going to be inaccurate for me)

3.7 X 1 X 63.76 = 2.36 NIS per load (old electric rate)

UPDATE: Please use my Handy Electrical Appliance Cost Calculator to help you figure out your appliance running costs! These estimates are based on the rate plan that most of us have - the "home" rate that doesn't vary by time of day. If you have a "smart meter" that calculates your electric costs based upon lower rates at off-peak times and higher rates at peak times, you'll have to do different calculations. It's rare for a home to have a smart meter, though.

I can use all the information here to guesstimate how much each electrical appliance I'm running costs me, and make adjustments whenever I can based upon this information. (And you can too!)

I hope this helps all of us gain a better understanding of our electricity usage, costs, and ways to lower our expenses if we want to!

For example, I know it's only a tiny amount to run my electric kettle a few times per day. BUT my kids will often EACH decide to boil water for a hot drink multiple times per day, so I started filling up a thermal caraffe for them to use during the day when I boil water in the morning. This also gives them hot drinks without having them handle a boiling hot kettle full of water (it cools off slightly in the caraffe), so it not only saves me a couple of shekels per day, but it also makes me feel a tiny bit safer.

I hope you can use this information to help you manage your electricity usage! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shabbat Menu

Time to plan my Shabbat menu! I think I need a cup of coffee and then I can do most of the work tonight.

Here's what I came up with after surveying what's in the house, since there is really no way I'll be going to a store tomorrow (do you go shopping on Friday, ever? If so, how do you make it all work?):

Fresh Whole Wheat and Oat Bran Challot

Vegetable Soup with noodles

Black Bean Cholent (for lunch)

Oven Fried Shnitzel

Potato Kugel

Spicy Roast Sweet Potatoes

Purple Cabbage Salad 

Israeli Salad

Also making Banana-Coconut Breakfast Cake, and my favorite Coffee Cake. If I don't run out of time, I might make some Chocolate Chip cookies, too. It's a long Friday night, and sometimes we need a snack besides popcorn!

At least, that's what I plan to make!

Hoping I can stay awake to cook now.
What are you making this Shabbat?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Of Tov" coupons (printable coupons - Israel)

Get some printable coupons!

Those of you who buy Of Tov products will be very happy to find these coupons today!
Please be sure to check that your supermarket is on the list of stores that honor these coupons.
Please note these coupons expire on December 31, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Special Socks, anyone?

Looking for special socks?
Look what I stumbled across - free international shipping right now!


I don't think they have super bargain prices, but they are known for quality and selection!

So if there's a special kind of sock on your shopping list, now you know where to go!

(And you know what to do about international orders and the new personal important regulations, right?
If not, be sure to check it out here!)

New Import (a.k.a. online shopping) Regulations (Israel)

my latest package from purchases made abroad - tax free!

Maybe you've heard that now we (Israelis) can import items for personal use tax-free up to $500 (the previous limit was $325). This was done to encourage Israeli consumers to shop around and help "open" the marketplace in our small country.

This is good news, but I thought it would be helpful for everyone to know what to expect when you make purchases from abroad to be shipped here.

Here's the rundown (the full regulations can be found on the Israel tax authority's site)

Purchases up to $75 - no taxes

Purchases above $75 up to $500 - no customs taxes, but VAT and Purchase Tax may apply

Purchases over $500 - subject to all taxes  

Calcalist also points out that purchases of up to $75 will be subject to customs clearance fees if they arrive using an EMS service* (about 35 shekels), and if the value of the purchase is higher, the customs clearance fee can be higher as well.

Please be aware that the purchase price only (not purchase + shipping) will determine whether an item will be taxed. Once it is found to be taxable, however, applicable taxes will be calculated on the purchase price + the shipping price.

One more important point: If you order multiple orders from the same seller and they arrive within 72 hours of each other, customs will combine the orders and treat them as one purchase for tax purposes.

Some of these regulations are different from what we'd gotten used to, so please refer back to this guide if you are about to place an order and you're not sure what to expect from the tax-man.

If you're not sure where to start shopping online, I've compiled a list of websites that offer low cost shipping to Israel! Please be sure to check it out! Let's help open Israel's marketplace and bring down our cost of living without bringing down our standard of living!

Some of my favorite websites to shop from are: ~ iHerb ~ My Habit ~ AliExpress 

Be sure to check out the whole list

*Examples of EMS services - Express Mail, Fedex, UPS and other express delivery services. Sometimes DHL is EMS and sometimes it is not.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Way to Save: Google's ShoppingIL event

Israel has been slow moving into the online shopping habit. There are many reasons for that, price being a major factor.

So in order to encourage more online shopping, Google Israel (I think) has organized a major online shopping sale event with many Israeli retailers participating.

It's a 48 hr event that started at midnight.

So, if you had something you were looking to buy, today and tomorrow it may be worth checking online at

You never know, this could save you that trip running around from store to store in the Eizor Taasiyah (town's industrial area), and you KNOW you'd be happy to avoid that trip!

Way to Save: Aliexpress today!

It's November 11th, and AliExpress is having a HUGE sale!

Make sure you create an account and redeem "coins" for coupons for extra savings - it's one of their special promotions today.

People have been asking what makes sense to buy on Aliexpress. I answer, anything you would buy locally that is actually made in China! You'll save a lot of money. BUT here are a few things you should know: always check a seller's rating before buying, and read product reviews before you decide to purchase. Also search through the listings. I've seen the same product offered for $2 and for $20. And I also sort by "free shipping" so I won't get stuck paying large shipping fees. So be a careful shopper as always! AND don't buy things you weren't planning to buy! That will never save you money.

Happy savings! 
Please let me know if you found a great deal!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Weekly menu

Time to plan again, because without planning I tend to get stuck in a rut. And that is not a place I like to be, and truthfully, my kids and husband hate it when I'm there, and tend to ask for pizza A LOT.

Does that happen to you as well? 

So here's the plan:

Lunches will be stews or leftovers from suppers.

Sunday night was Shabbat leftovers

Monday night: Red Lentil Soup, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, carrot and cucumber sticks

Tuesday night: Baked Ziti, Salad, Quick Garlic Breadsticks

Wednesday night: Vegetable-Barley or Mushroom-Barley Soup, 
Whole Wheat dinner rolls with spreads

Thursday night: Scrambled eggs, Baked potatoes, cut veggies with dips

This plan is subject to change! It usually gets changed up here and there!

How are you with meal planning?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Shabbat menu (pantry challenge style)

This has been one roller coaster of a week. We had most of the week with my hubby out of the country, but he should arrive home soon. We had a leaky roof repaired. We had the fiery death of the transformer so I need to buy some new kitchen gadgets. We found out about the death of my father's cousin. My sister had a baby girl. Another sister is making a bat mitzvah this weekend, but the family things are all 6000 miles away. The country was shocked by terrorist attacks. We celebrated our youngest child's loss of her first tooth. And more.

So it's been quite a week, and to be honest, I just want to go to sleep. But I will have to cook...

Still trying to stay out of the supermarket, so here's our pantry challenge Shabbat menu:

(I DID buy some sug bet produce this week, so we've got some sort of vegetable selection)

Challah from the freezer, probably 

Split pea soup (with carrots and celery)

Spicy Roast chicken with rice

Vegetarian Fried Rice (for the vegetarian child)

Potato Kugel

Roasted Kohlrabi

Spicy Roast Sweet Potatoes

Butternut Squash (not sure how, roasted or kugel?)

Cucumbers and other veggies

Black Bean Cholent

Cake from the freezer for dessert

The clock change has made Shabbat afternoons really short, so at this time of year, we finish lunch and have dessert as seudah shlishit.

How do you handle short Fridays and long Friday nights?

Goggles4U ships to Israel for $9.95

Buying glasses online has become a really popular option here in Israel. For many, this offers the only way to buy affordable prescription glasses. I know that once I was quoted a price of 2000 shekels for my glasses, and that scared me off from buying new glasses for at least a year longer than I should have waited!

I know, that sounds crazy. And it probably wasn't my best decision, but I was dealing with multiple issues and my eye doctor actually recommended waiting a little while if I could manage. So I waited as long as I could.

In the end I bought new glasses for about 400 shekels a few months ago here in Israel, which is very good for thin lenses for high prescriptions, with astygmatism correction and anti-reflective coatings...

$8.99 Discount EyeglassesBut I know that I may have gotten a better deal had I shopped online, although I must admit, shopping online for high index lenses with all the requirements I have was actually not so cheap when I checked at some point.

However, there may be another place for me to check next time! I've just discovered another website that ships glasses to Israel - Goggles4U offers $8.99 Glasses w/ Coated Lenses, and international shipping starts at $9.95

So, if you are buying glasses online, be sure to check out Goggles4!

this post contains affiliate links

Monday, November 3, 2014

ModCloth Sale!


Looking for a new dress?
I have fallen in love with some of the stuff at ModCloth!

So, if you are ready to treat yourself to a new outfit, check it out!

Get 30% off hundreds of styles!

Hurry before the sale ends!

Pantry challenge manu!

I'm hoping to buy very little this week, but I will be buying fresh milk, and fruits and veggies. Other than that, I am trying to do a pantry challenge!

So here's the plan: breakfasts will be mostly oatmeal and fruit

Lunches will be random - sandwiches and veggies, or leftovers from the previous night's supper.


Sunday night: Shabbat Leftovers

Monday night: Lentil and vegetable soup, Rice, stir fried veggies

Tuesday night: Baked Ziti, Cut vegetables

Wednesday night: Scrambled eggs, Corn bread muffins, salad

Thursday night: Garlic bread, Vegetable-Barley Soup, ?? 

Anyone else out there trying not to shop? How's your pantry stocked?