The Aliyah Files #4 Small Appliances: What to Bring and What to Buy

One question that comes up over and over is about which items to bring to Israel and which items to leave behind.  Regarding small appliances, my advice: BRING NOTHING

Sell these appliances and pocket the money to buy new or nearly new items once you arrive.  The big problem with bringing small appliances from the USA is that they do not convert well from 110 to 220, even with the use of a transformer.  In a short time, the motors will burn out and you will end up replacing them anyway.  Save the cost of shipping and buy your small appliances here.  You can find whatever you need.  Some stores will give a discount to new olim, especially if you are purchasing many items at once.  Ask around where you live because the locals will know which places give the best deals and have the best prices.

Once we moved here, we replaced our small appliances with the Israeli versions. Additionally, if you want to be really Israeli you need to have the following 5 items:

1.  Sandwich maker.  This photo below was taken in the teacher’s room at work.  They are extremely popular, hence everywhere.  Maybe it has something to do with the morning 10 a.m. sandwich break which seems to be a national ritual. Stick in your sandwich, lock down the cover, and in a minute or two you will have a hot, toasted sandwich.

2.  Kum-kum. A kum kum is like an electric tea kettle.  It heats up water to a boil very quickly.

3.  Tami Bar.  It dispenses hot and cold filtered water at the push of a button.  Not everyone has this because it is expensive to buy, but you will see them in many public places as well as homes.

4. Toaster oven. There are many different sizes and features available,  it depends on what you are looking for.  Similar to chutz l’artetz, but in Celsius.  To this day I keep my handy Nefesh B’Nefesh magnet nearby for easy conversion from Fahrenheit.  I hope NBN still distributes them…

5.  Shabbos plata.  Use it to warm your food on Shabbos.  Plan to purchase a timer because you don’t want it on for 24 hours.

Other small electrical items you may want to purchase:  crock pot, Shabbos lamp, Shabbos urn, blender, chopper/food processor, fans, space heaters, microwave oven, digital clocks

Nice to have, but not necessary: bug zapper, hair dryer, hair trimmer, electric razor.

If I omitted an item, it is because I don’t personally use it and have lived without for many years.  Also, I am not vouching for any brands used in the photos, as they were taken for show-and-tell purposes only.  There may be differing opinions on the take/not take dilemma, by this is my view. For example, if you have a favorite Cuisinart and don’t want to part with it, bring it along, but keep in mind the transformer may not be conveniently located to where you want to be doing your food processing.

As Pesach cleaning /spring cleaning / pre-aliyah decision making approaches and you find small appliances hiding in the back of the cabinet gathering dust from lack of use, I highly recommend selling them now or donating them to your local second-hand establishment.

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

February 27, 2017

 

 

The Aliyah Files #3: No Closets?! Where do I keep my Clothes?

There aren’t closets in Israel. What?! NO CLOSET? We have Aronot (ah ro NOTE) in the which is the plural of Aron (AH ron). This is not to be confused with the boys name Aharon (AH ha ron).  You have probably heard of an Aron Kodesh, which houses our Holy Torah.  An Aron is a closet, a free-standing cabinet that is not built into the wall.

closet-closed

Aronot or as I call in my grammatically incorrect Hebrew “arons”, generally have a combination of shelves, drawers, and sections to hang clothes. Some are well-designed while others are poorly designed.

One of the biggest organizing challenges for Olim (immigrants to Israel) is adjusting to lack of spacious closets, or more specifically, no closets at all.  Now is also a good time to mention that most people don’t have a chest of drawers either.  Huh?? Yes, no drawers because drawers are big, bulky, and use up a lot of floor space.  With these two major differences in clothing storage, here are my Pearls of Wisdom regarding closets and clothing:

  • Less is more.  The less you have, the easier it is to find your clothes.  I recommend having a box or bag for giveaways.  After each load of laundry, weed out the items you don’t want any longer or kids’ clothes that no longer fit.  Once the box is full donate it to a second-hand clothing shop or gemach.
  • Purge often.  Take a drawer or a shelf and get honest with yourself.  Which items do you never wear?  If you’ve been through many laundry cycles and there are clothes that are never worn, consider passing them on.  If you really liked them or they “sparked joy” as Marie Kondo says in ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ would say, put them in your giveaway box.
  • Store out of season clothing elsewhere in your home.
  • Hand-me-downs for younger siblings should be limited.  But..but..but…I can already hear your arguments.  My reply: there is precious little storage space: NO GARAGE, NO ATTIC, NO BASEMENT.  Most people have a machsan (storage room), but you can only store but so much.  Everyone has their unique combination of ages and genders, but what I can say with working with many clients, siblings don’t always like the clothing from the sibling that proceeded them.  Additionally, the season and size factors can complicate matters.  I will write a post on hand-me-downs another time.  In the meantime, be ruthless on how much you save.
  • Straighten up frequently.  It is not uncommon for a young child to select one outfit for the day, yet every item of clothing they own is on the floor.  A quick tidy up once a day keeps things looking neat.
  • Use matching hangers for a coordinated look.  Too many types of hangers look messy.
  • Consider a capsule wardrobe.  I know that sounds like you should be flying to the moon.  A capsule wardrobe consists of staple pieces in coordinating colors where you can mix and match practically everything.  I have a capsule wardrobe and it makes getting dressed easy because basically every top matches a bottom.

Another suggestion is to purchase a bed with storage underneath.  Whether the kind where the mattress raises up revealing storage or a drawer that pulls out these are excellent options.

–Karen, The Klutter Koach.  February 12, 2017

 

 

 

The Aliyah Files #2: Recommended Cleaning Products to Buy in Israel

Time to clean your house, wash dishes, and do laundry.  Say goodbye to your favorite standbys and hello to the following items.

Natural Products:  For the folks who like using natural products this is for you: lemon juice=מיץ לימון, vinegar=חומץ, and baking soda/ sodium bicarbonate=סודה לשתייה.  For real lemons, besides the ones at the grocery store, you can often find them growing on trees.  Say goodbye to Arm & Hammer baking soda. You won’t find it here.

 

Dish soap:  Palmolive, Spark and Fairy to name a few brands.  I still prefer my Palmolive.  My favorite sponges are the metallic ones because they keep their squish the longest.

 

Laundry Products: Powdered detergent, liquid detergent, fabric softener, and stain remover.

Don’t make the mistake we did be confusing liquid detergent with liquid fabric softener.  We were fresh off the plane and doing laundry for the first time.  We were staying in the Mercaz Klita (absorption center) and didn’t have anyone showing us the ropes.  We bought fabric softener in error instead of detergent.  We couldn’t figure out why our clothes smelled so nice but didn’t look like they were getting clean.

 

Bleach:  Called economica אקונומיקה.  Comes in these big bottles or also in squirt bottle size.  ***safety note.  The shape of the bottle is reminiscent of a milk jug, so keep away from children.  Milk, on the other hand, comes in plastic bags and cartons.

 

Multi-purpose cleaners and toilet bowl cleaner:  There are also Israeli products, but I prefer my tried and true favorites.

Anti Kalk:  A product to become familiar with. De-mineralizes the deposits left from hard water. Get used to hard water…

anti kalk.jpg

Cleaning supplies:  squeegies, wooden handles for broom heads and מגב heads (large squeegies/ foam heads for doing sponga).  Replacing the heads of brooms is a common occurance, something I never did in the USA.

cleaning-isle-supplies

Sponga soap:  You will never see a mop again. You will use your מגב, water, sponga soap and floor rags.  Maybe I should make a video…fabric-softener

There you have it, the products to keep your home spic and span.

Thanks for reading.  Karen, The Klutter Koach.  January 29, 2017

The Aliyah Files Issue#1: Housekeeping 101 in Israel

I made aliyah in 2010.  Moving overseas is a huge adjustment.  Besides integrating into a new culture, learning a new language, finding work, finding schools for the kids, there are million small changes to be made.  One of these changes is learning to keep house Israeli style. Ditch your mop and head to your local grocery or hardware store to get the following 10 items.

  1.  A broom with a rubber head.  I purchased my first one a few months ago and am never going back to a traditional broom.  This broom finds crumbs where I swear there were none.  Plus, there are no synthetic bristles to get crushed or encrusted with hair and dirt.

rubber-head-broom

2.  Microfiber cleaning cloths. I use them to wipe down everything.  Paper towels and other one-time use items are very expensive, so not only are they durable and washable, I feel good about saving the environment by making less trash.

mircrofiber-cloths

3.  Dusting mitt.  I’ve had this one for years.  Mine is the FlyLady’s Detail Duster Mitt, but I know you can buy a generic one in the store.

4.  Magic Eraser.  Great for removing grime and hard to remove stains.  This is a pack of  ‘Magic ספוג

img_20170123_015032-1

5.  Lemon Salt.  Use this for hard water stains.  Lemon salt/citric acid מלח לימון is the best toilet cleaner I have ever used and I’ll swear by it.  It may take a few times depending on how badly stained the toilet may be, but our toilet bowl is WHITE.lemon-salt

6.  Sponja stick.  A what stick?  Pronounced “spun ja”. Washing your floor is called doing sponja.  You pour water and soap directly onto the floor to clean it.  Push around the stick with the squeegie, then gather up the water into a dustpan to pour down the drain or push the water directly into the drain holes in the floor.  (This procedure is an entire post in itself.)

sponga stick.jpg

7. Squeegie .  Just as we pour water on the floor, we pour water on the counters.  Then we squeegie it into the sink.  Don’t worry…you’ll understand when you get here.

squeegie.jpg

8. Plastic bucket. Multi-purposeful.

bucket

9.  Floor rags.  Use for sponja or use for spills. The hole in the middle is typically cut to slide over the sponja stick to either dry or buff the floor.

floor-rags-1

10. Drying rack.  It is very expensive to run the dryer, so we dry our things outdoors.  The green plaatic thingy with the clips I bought last week to hang small items like socks to better utilize the space on my rack.

drying-rack

 

Thanks for reading.

Karen,  The Klutter Koach

January 23, 2017

The L.L.Bean Backpack Post

The Klutter Koach (me) is very much into the three Rs:  reduce, reuse, and recycle.  If something can be re-purposed or re-used, I’m all for that.  So when I purchase something, I look for quality because I don’t like having to replace things.    When it comes to purchasing backpacks, L.L. Bean is the best.  Not only are their backpacks amazing in regards to excellent quality and durability, but I can only sing the praises of their customer service department.  An example of their wonderful service took place this morning.  Here’s the story:

My daughter needed a new backpack for this past school year.  We’ve had L.L. Bean backpacks for years, so we were thrilled that my parents were going to gift one for their eldest granddaughter.

The bag has been functioning as is should until recently (it’s almost July, and she’s had the bag since October).  Somehow the material got caught in the zipper.  It wasn’t a little stuck, it was unmovable stuck.  My daughter tried to release the fabric with no luck.  Her classmates tried, her teacher tried, I tried.  For the first time in my 40+ years on this planet, I was not able to get a zipper unstuck.   I knew L.L. Bean would advise me what to do, so I sent an e-mail to the customer service department.  It said:

My father bought my daughter a backpack as a gift (in the fall). Recently, the material of the largest pocket got stuck in the zipper and we have been unable to get it out. Please advise on either how to fix this or if it can be repaired.

Within the hour there was a response in my inbox:

Dear Ms. Furman,

I’m sorry the zipper on your daughter’s backpack is stuck. A little liquid soap rubbed on the area may lubricate the zipper enough to allow it to work so she can remove the contents of the pocket.

We’ll be glad to exchange the backpack for a new one if you wish. Please let us know how you would like to proceed.

Have a great day.

Sincerely,

(employee’s name)
L.L.Bean International Customer Service

After reading the email I then proceeded to the kitchen and got out the dish soap.  I used more than a little soap.  I used a lot of soap.  I tugged, I pulled.  I got the zipper to move slightly, but it was still caught on the material.  I squirted on more soap.  I attached a pipe cleaner into the hole in the zipper pull because it was so slippery.  I tugged and pulled more.  More soap added.  I added some heartfelt prayer. Then..victory came nearly twenty-five minutes later!  The material was freed from the zipper! (The bag and the zipper were both intact from this ordeal,  just a bit soapy and lemony scented).

I wanted to share my excitement as well as show gratitude for the advice so I wrote back to the customer service representative:

Dear ____,

It worked!!  It took A LOT of soap and about 25 minutes of tugging, but we were able to free the material from the zipper.  Thanks so much!
❤ LL Bean.  I think you have the best customer service of any company out there. 
-Karen Furman
One happy customer 😊
Being the awesome company that L.L. Bean is, I received a reply to this message:

Dear Ms. Furman,

I am so pleased to hear that the soap worked!  Please let us know if we can help with an exchange.  We want you and your daughter to be 100% satisfied with every product you own from L.L.Bean.  We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I also wanted to thank you for the wonderful compliment.  What a nice way to start the day!  There’s nothing we love more than happy customers! 

Have a great week!

Sincerely,

(name of customer service employee)  
L.L.Bean International Customer Service

Is that awesome or what?  Even after I fixed the zipper problem they still wanted to be sure I was 100% satisfied.  I am thrilled the zipper is fixed.  I am thrilled I didn’t have to worry about the cost of mailing the bag to America. Most of all, I am thrilled I didn’t need re-purpose a backpack that didn’t ‘spark joy’ due to the problem and have to spend money on a new one.

The next time you need to purchase a backpack, check out L.L.Bean’s selection.  They are 100% worth it.

Thanks for reading.

-Karen, aka The Klutter Koach

June 29, 2016

The Ultimate in De-cluttering Part III–6 Years Later

Image result for images relocating

It’s been six years since our move from the USA to Israel when I wrote ‘The Ultimate in De-cluttering’. This was before I officially called myself Klutter Koach.  I am happy to say we wisely selected the items we brought with us.  The one thing I would have done differently was to have ditched the American beds, as they have always posed a problem overwhelming the small Israeli bedrooms with their bulkiness.  Little by little, we have been replacing them with their narrower Israeli counterparts.

I have always been a proponent of not keeping items the family doesn’t use.  If toys are unused, books unread, or clothing unworn, out it goes to a gemach, family in need, or second-hand shop. Rarely are items thrown away unless they are in such poor condition someone else can’t use them.  Because of my rule, which is practical and guilt-free, I have managed to keep my house relatively clutter-free.  Israeli apartments are much smaller compared to American homes.  Not only are the rooms smaller, but they’re also aren’t built-in closets.  A free-standing closet (an “aron”, or wardrobe in more common terms) is used.  They come in different sizes some make better use of space.  In any event, this is what we’ve got to contain our belongings.

Though my family doesn’t have clutter or excess, we have been feeling a bit cramped in our space.  We are a family of eight people in an apartment with three bedrooms, no basement, no extra bedroom, no playroom.  There is a kitchen, a salon (living room/dining room combo), 1.5 bathrooms, and a ‘cheder sherut’ which houses the washer and dryer. We also have what is called a ‘machsan’, a storage room where we keep things like our Pesach dishes, Sukkos decorations, and unused car seats.

My husband and I had been going back and forth on whether to move to a larger apartment.  To have the space we wanted in an affordable price range, it would have meant moving to a new neighborhood which is still a construction zone.  We had our qualms.  In the end, we decided to renew our lease and not move.

To make our current space work better for the family, we decided to flip-flop all the bedrooms of whose bedroom was whose.  It was exhausting to get everything moved, plus a few disagreements along the way, but the end result was a good one.  We are happy with the new arrangement.  It was a two-step process. The first step was moving the furniture.  The second step was transferring the belongings to their new locations. Since no clutter was involved, it was a matter of re-purposing shelves, drawers, and bookcases.  Time-consuming it was, but better than packing up an entire house and moving.

This is the time of year when most people tend to relocate or make aliya.  Lots of decisions are being made on what to take or not take.  I have one Pearl of Wisdom to impart.  That is:  follow the sage advise of Marie Kondo with a Yiddish twist– if an item doesn’t spark joy, don’t shlep it, bring it, or pack it.

If anyone out there in Cyberspace reading this blog post would like a follow-up post on what to take or not take on aliyah or how to adjust to Israeli living spaces, I’d be thrilled to oblige.

Thanks for reading.

-Karen aka The Klutter Koach

June 14, 2015

 

The Ultimate in De-cluttering Part II

For those of you who just read The Ultimate in De-cluttering Part I, here is the sequel The Ultimate in De-cluttering Part II.  I’m sending both on the same day so nobody needs to be waiting in suspense.  Also, we’ve been rearranging our apartment to make better use of the space.  My hope is to write about the adventure and to talk about what has transpired six years later in regards to our stuff.

Flashback to the end of July 2010:

So the lift came this week.  We had our A, B, and C lists.  A was ‘priority’, B was ‘maybe’, and C was ‘not taking’.

I wanted to speak a moment about each one.  The ‘A list’ was beds, bedding, linens, clothing, dining room table, and certain playthings like legos, our Little Tykes kitchen, and bicycles.
It also included seforim, Judaica items, and art, plus favorite English books.
Even these items got pared down.  It is a process to do so.  You can’t just hack your bookcase in half.  I can compare it shredding a block of cheese:  shave a little bit off at a time.  We must have gone thought the books at least five times, and only the absolute favorites made that final cut to be kept and put on the list.  Same with the clothes and toys.  You must ask yourself “Is this it really worn or played with?”  Take a child’s puzzle for example.  If you say to yourself, “Well, they might play with it on Shabbos.”, then it is a ‘not taking’.   If they aren’t already not playing with it on Shabbos, then get rid of it.  You have precious little space.

The ‘B list’ was the maybe category.  If the breakfront or futon or whatever fits, then it comes, if not then no.

The ‘C list’ was the ‘not taking’ category. It can be things from the ‘B list’ you didn’t take or just things you already know you aren’t taking.
After all was said and done (lift packed and loaded) Hashem is the one who has a big part in this when it comes to which of your items will sell.

Of course, you want to make as much money off your items as possible because you of course paid ‘good money’ for everything and want a return investment.  These days, however, many people aren’t parting with their cash.  If you have a yard sale, hang up a sign in the major intersections near you.  Of our four sales, that is the one thing that brought them in.  Do this especially if your residence is not on a street with a lot of traffic.  If you post on Craiglist or luach.com, post each item separately and with a photo.  When we listed ‘furniture for sale’ few responses.  Posting with a photo per item brought in buyers.  There is also the Freecycle yahoo group, but everything must be free.

At some point, you get tired of dealing with people.   They say they are coming and don’t need to reschedule multiple times to come by.  If you are used to people of similar demographics of yourself, you may be shocked by who walks in your front door.  We keep a tzniusdik home, so when people come in wearing a style of dress your kids may not be used to seeing,  you may want your kinderlach elsewhere in the house. If you have a thrift store charity, schedule one or more pickups.  It is a lot easier to shlep it outside than to shlep to your car again and again.
Remember to get a receipt.

Here is a feel-good story about our stuff that didn’t sell regardless of doing the things I mentioned above.  A family needed to return last-minute from Israel for family or personal reasons.  Everything was left in Israel minus their clothing and silverware, and an entire household needed to be reestablished in the states.  We were able to unload almost everything that didn’t sell to them like furniture and housewares.   Knowing this was a big chesed and mitzvah was better than any potential money we would have made.  Since it was the evening before the lift, it was a huge favor to us, as we wanted all those things out of the way when the movers came in the morning.  This is where you realize Hashem has a say in the matter regarding your things.

My final thought to mention is the morning of the lift, you are most likely sleep-deprived and stressed.  When the truck showed up, all emotional attachments to anything on the B or C list disappeared and things just got tossed in the trash or put aside for the thrift store, as there was no more time to potchke about.

All I can say is that I feel so free!  So uncluttered!  Packing for Aliyah has been the best de-cluttering event of my life.

 

-Karen, The Klutter Koach

June 5, 2016 (originally written July 2010)

The Ultimate in De-cluttering

I wrote this in 2010 prior to making aliyah.  For those who are in the process, you may find this helpful.  For those of you who have already done so, I think you can relate.  It has been almost six years.  My only semi-regret was bringing the American beds as we have ended up replacing them with the more narrow and space-saving Israeli counterparts.  Here’s a walk down Memory Lane:

The ultimate in flinging is to make Aliyah.  We are G-d willing making Aliyah with NBN August 18.  We have had four Sunday yard sales in a row.  While there were not throngs of people, we did manage to part with a few things and make a little money.

We are still decluttering.  Had we not been moving, some things we probably would keep, but since we can’t take everything, you really need to think, “Do I love it, do I need it?”

As much as we want to sell our things and make some money to be able to take with us to buy what we have to replace in Israel, we are almost at the point of having to just give stuff away.  For example, my DH FINALLY went through his clothes (we are talking since 1998 I have been nudging him).   He had grandiose ideas on all the money he would make off of these items.  Of three moving boxes of clothes, plus a dozen or so suits/sport jackets, all that sold was one shirt and three ties.

As we were cleaning up from the sale he said, “Just put them in the car and bring them to the Hadassah thrift store tomorrow”.  I was both a little sad at the lack of interest by others in those beautiful clothes (Italian and upscale brands; my father-law owned an upscale men’s store and often gave him things), I felt much lighter after having to get everything out of the house.  I do say I was proud of DH, though, for his realization of needing to let go of his stuff.

….to be continued with The Ultimate in De-cluttering Part II

The Pot Roast Story

Have you heard the famous story about the woman who cuts the ends off her pot roast before putting it in the over?  If you haven’t already, here it is:

A newly-wed man would watch his wife would cut an inch off from both ends of meat for pot roast before putting it into the oven.  When he asked why, she answered, “That’s how you are supposed to cook it.”  Not satisfied with this answer he pressed further until she said she learned to do it this way from her mother.

The husband calls up his mother-in-law and asks her why she cuts off an inch from each end of the pot roast.  She answers, “That’s how you cook pot roast.”  He presses further until his mother-in-law says she learned to do it that way from her mother.

So the man calls up his wife’s grandmother and asks her the same question about why you cut an inch off each end of the pot roast before putting it into the oven.  He still can’t figure out why cutting off good meat is a requirement for cooking a pot roast.  She says, “My mother  did it this way.  Let me call her.”

She calls her elderly mother and asks her why she used to cut the ends off the pot roast before cooking it. The great-grandmother laughs and says, “We used to be very poor and didn’t own a lot of cookware.  I cut the ends off so the meat would fit into my only pan!”

pot-roast-prep-7
Pot roast with the ends cut off.

So ends the story.  Why share this?  Organizing is the same way.  Sometimes an item is placed somewhere with little thought.  Perhaps after a move it seemed logical or convenient at the time.  Or there was an unused space.  In any event, if something is bothering you and you don’t know why, you might want to give it some thought and troubleshoot the reason.

There just may be a better solution, a more efficient way of doing it.
As an home organizer and neutral observer, with no emotional attachment to your “stuff”,  I do the troubleshooting for you.  A fresh set of eyes, so to speak to make the best use of the “pot roast” and make it all fit.

My Journey to Alternative Health and my Crazy Diet to go along with it

Title sounds interesting, doesn’t it?  Bet it got your attention.  Probably should have capitalized more of the words, but what the heck, I just didn’t feel like it. If I have to put up with people’s horrible grammar, spelling, and text abbreviations, a few lowercase letters will do no permanent damage in the grand scheme of things.

Once upon a time I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread and drank Hi-C grape drink everyday.  I ate chocolate chip cookies by the coffee can. (My dear grandmother of blessed memory used to bake them and stored them in coffee cans).  Breakfast generally was generally cereal and milk, toast, or eggs.  We didn’t have “sugar cereals” at home but generally limited to Kix, Cheerios, and Raisin Bran.

I had a lot of colds and sore throats.  I was given a lot of antibiotics.  Are you cringing yet?

When I was in college, I was tired a lot.  I was taught growing up to sleep when tired or take a nap.  I didn’t miss classes to nap and I didn’t pull all-nighters either.  But I was tired.  The doctors at the university health clinic gave more antibiotics for my colds.  I didn’t feel WELL.

After graduation, I made an appointment with the family doctor.  What was his professional medical opinion?  I was tired because I missed my college and was probably feeling depressed.  THAT was a medical diagnosis???  To this day I am still incredulous.

Fast forward a few years.  Two things happened simultaneously.  1)  I discovered alternative health and 2) I had began taking on an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle.

One of the changes to go along with my religious observance was learning about the Jewish dietary laws called kashrut.  You may have heard the phrase “keeping kosher”.  Without going into any in-depth explanation the bare bones is:  no milk products to be eaten nor served, nor cooked with meat products.  No pork.  No shellfish.  It’s much more complicated than that.  Here’s a link for those of you who want to learn more what I’m talking about:http://www.chabad.org/generic_cdo/aid/113424/jewish/Kosher.htm

(If you look on many products in your fridge or pantry, you may notice on the box or label the letter U with a circle around it.  That is the symbol of one of many kashrut organizations.  It indicates I can eat this product.  If there is a capital D to the lower right of this U with the circle, the product has a dairy ingredient in it, or could be made on a machine that manufactures products with dairy. ) Let’s continue with my journey…

Anyway, one of the women I met on my journey to becoming religious had a plethora of herbs and vitamins in her kitchen.  She was friendly with another woman in the community who had a similar set up in her kitchen. (*note-this has nothing to do with any religious views.  I am mentioning it because that was my first exposure to people who used alternative health methods as opposed to allopathic medicine only).  These two ladies raved about a woman named Holly who was an iridologist.  “What on earth is that?”  I had asked.

An iridologist is someone who is trained to read the lines and breaks within the iris of the eye.  These marks are a mirror as to what is going on inside the body.  After the iridologist reads the marks, a plan of herbs and dietary changes is put into affect in order to strengthen the internal organs.  Follow up visits are needed to monitor ones progress and to monitor the herbal and dietary regimen.  Well, it sounded really quacky to me, but since I looked up to these women and I had nothing to lose but $60, I made an appointment.

I went to Holly.  She analyzed my eyes.  Her diagnosis:  a condition called candida.   You can read more about candida from this fantastic website:  http://www.thecandidadiet.com/an-introduction-to-candida/  I had never heard of this before.  My addiction to sweet stuff fed the candida which is a systematic yeast/fungus/parasite which is why I was always tired and sick and had sinus problems.

The way to recover from this is to get rid your diet of all sugar, sweet stuff, and flour products.  Then there is the regimen of herbs or other dietary supplements and pro-biotics.  I always tell people learning to keep kosher was simple compared to getting rid of sugar.  Sugar is EVERYWHERE.  Even my tried and true Cheerios had sugar.

I was miserable at first.  Sugar is an addiction.  You have to do the candida diet cold turkey, or you will never recover.   I NEEDED sugar.  I WANTED sugar.  I would put pinches of salt on my tongue, as salty is the opposite of sweet. I would climb the walls. I could think about eating was bread or pasta or chocolate or anything else I had to avoid.

What happened?  I stuck to my new diet.  I got started to get better.  I had more energy.  I had less sinus headaches.  I got sick less.  I FELT GOOD.  Even the skeptics who thought that having someone look at my iris was mere quackery noticed the change.

It has been over 20 years since that original candida diagnosis.  (Huh?  You look 25…that can’t be.  Folks, I am older than I look).  I am not on an herbal regimen anymore.  I still have to monitor carefully what I eat.  When I start feeling symptomatic again I have to reassess what I’m putting in my mouth.  But now I know what I’m dealing with.  When I can afford it or can find a practitioner who wants to barter, I get chiropractic adjustments and massage.  I am a big believer in alternative health.  I use it in combination with standard Western medicine-not excursively one or the other.

So, what do I eat?  I’m not vegan, vegetarian, nor paleo.  I eat chicken, fish, beef, eggs, vegetables (but limited white potatoes), fruit (but limited to apples and pears when feeling symptomatic), nuts, seeds, beans, buckwheat, corn, rice, and soup.  I limit myself with gluten products because believe I have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  I avoid dairy because it gives me symptoms mimicking rheumatoid arthritis.  I do slip up on this one because I love cheese and my taste buds win out.  (I suffer for three days afterward.)  I love chocolate, but need to eat it sparingly.

If you have made it to the bottom of this essay,  I will explain why I wrote this post and what it has to do with decluttering and organizing.  For starters, I love to teach and educate.  This is the first time I have not had a classroom teaching job since 1993 (for those of you still curious to my actual age, you can try to figure this out).  I am loving NOT being in the classroom, but I realize I love to share information and this is one vehicle for me to do so.  Also, because of what I eat or don’t eat with the added degree of the ‘keeping kosher’ aspect, my meal planning abilities need to be top notch.  I have a limited food budget which means sticking to locally grown in-season produce and products I can get at the local grocery store.  I can’t use crazy flour mix substitutes or weird ingredients found only in the health food store because they cost too much.  I’m always looking for new gluten-free and dairy-free recipes to try out.  When I find something good, maybe I’ll share and post like the avocado mousse recipe I mentioned in another post.

My goal is to share my experiences and educate.  For any medical concerns or conditions, consult your local medical practitioner.

Have a great day.  Visit again soon.

Karen