Make your own MONOPOLY

It was my mom's 60th birthday, and we were planning to go on a family vacation. My sisters and I wanted to make her something special, and one of the many things that we produced for her birthday (T-shirts, private movie screening, photo album, a short clip etc..) we also decided to make her a costume monopoly board, featuring some of the milestones in her life.

I could not have done this without finding this amazing monopoly - photoshop template created by Brad, and without the help of my lovely, two older sisters.
Here's what you do:

Plan your board. decide what do you want to write in each square. Download the Photoshop files from Brad's site. Change the squares according to your plans, add photos or cartoons when necessary. create the property cards accordingly. Note that the board size is about 60x60cm, though you can always make it smaller.

Decorate the board with family photos. That's a matter of preference and taste. Just make sure you have some family photos on the computer, crop them as desired and add them to the board. Best is to use the "Extract" command in photoshop (under the filter menu).
Chance / Community chest- we changed that to surprise/ greeting. the thought was that the players will fill the cards with greetings for my mom and surprise gifts or tokens they wish to give her. we made some empty cards for that purpose.
Make the houses and hotels. we couldn't find any Monopoly hoses on stores and it was too late to buy some on ebay, so we made some. We bough 1x1cm wooden cubes. For the houses, we glued little roofs on them  made of a red paper stripe. For the hotels, we just glued two cubes together.  
Make the money. since it was our mom's birthday, we chose to make money with her face on it. We took a good profile picture of her, used the sketch filter in photoshop and placed her face in the center of a Monopoly bill. After I had that, I just changed the value of the bills. You can then print the bills on colored paper, and get some costumed Monopoly money. 
Make the players. we had a lot of ideas, but due to shortness of time we choose some figures out of the "toy a day" site. we made little heads of the family players and glued them on the folded toys.

We printed the board in a printing shop along with everything else, but if you have a colored printer you can print the things at home. We glued the board on some hard board carton to make it strong enough, and to make sure it doesn't wrinkle. We also made a box out of used carton.  
That's that. I can not say that it's not a lot of work, cause it is, but it made our mom so so happy, so I guess it was worth it.

Happy birthday mom!


The BEST Challa

I did not write in a very long time, I know. but hey- I was finally doing some of the things I should, like writing papers and taking exams and other obligations. add to that the social revolution we have going on, and that leaves me very little time to write, or procrastinate, or both.

(check out the revolution chronicles page, in Hebrew)

So I'm making up for all the "not writing" by sharing with you the recipe for the BEST Challa you have ever tasted. It's tall and sexy, smells wonderful, with a sweet aroma and a perfect crumb: Not fibery-like the 4-bread Challa, not a crumb like the simple Challa, that yields a great bread that is too low to my taste- but a perfect, tall and lovely soft soft crumb. Can't really describe it. You'll have to try.

BEST Challa
this recipe will yield 2 big loaves, ~600gr each

4t dry yeast (24gr)
1 1/4 cup warm water (300ml)
1/3 cup sugar (60gr) +1t
1t salt
40gr olive oil
~6 cups bread flower (650-700gr)
2 eggs
10gr baking improver (1T)
17gr gluten powder (~2T)

1 egg yolk with 1T of water
sesame seeds

  1. Put the dry yeast with 1 teaspoon of sugar and a bit of the water and wake them up.
  2. in a mixer bowl, mix the flowers, the sugar, gluten powder and baking improver and salt.
  3. add the waken yeast and the rest of the water, and mix.
  4. add the oil; scramble the eggs and add them too.
  5. Mix until you've reached a medium-high level of  gluten development. The dough should be soft to touch.
  6. let the dough rise in a lightly oiled container until doubled, 40min-1hr. Make sure you don't over-proof it, or it won't rise when you bake it.
  7. Deflate the dough, divide to two batches (for two loaves) and then again to 4 (I made 4-strings Challa). Preshape the dough into small rolls, and let rest for about 5 minutes. Open the rolls into strings (like in a baguette) while gently pressing with both hands and rolling the dough roll on a lightly flowered counter. 
  8. Braid your Challa (braiding instructions here) and rest for about 45min, covered in a plastic bag.
  9. Cover the loaves with egg yolk diluted in water, and spread some sesame.
  10. Bake 240C for 20min with steam, then 180C 20 min without steam. If it's already golden after first 20min, cover with baking paper to avoid burning. 
 Of course, this was submitted to YeastSpotting (:


a new little elephant is born

We were really excited this week when our friends first baby boy was born, so tiny and lovely. As the proud father is a collector of elephants- we've decided to make them an elephant mobile.

There's no tutorial this time, though making something like this is not very complicated... all you need to do is decide what stuffed doll you want to hang, create a paper model, copy it onto a fabric, cut, saw, stuff with something and hang from a stick. My lovely husband helped with all the tying and stuffing of the elephants, and also with deciding which fabrics we should use. We added some paper beads in between to make it more colorful.

to our dear friends-- Mazal Tov (:


the BEST EASIEST PASTA you ever ate

well, as promised and after each of you have their own dried-tomato jar just waiting to be eaten in the fridge, here a recipe for the best and easiest past you ever ate. Its low fat, and uses only stuff you already have in your fridge (one of them being dried tomatoes, which are a must).

Dried tomatoes, mushrooms and onions pasta
you will need:
a handful of  dried tomatoes
a handful of black greek olives
4 garlic cloves
1 onion
12 nice mushrooms
~20gr Brinza cheese (salty, sheep milk cheese, comes in blocks)
half a pack (250gr) short pasta

*needless to say, all the amounts are only a recommendation and you can add or subtract anything.

What you do:
  1. While you boil water for the pasta (with a spoon of salt, no oil), chop the onions and the garlic. keep them separate.
  2. Cut the mushrooms into thin slices, or into 1/8 if you prefer them more bulky.
  3. By now, the water should have boiled. put the pasta in.
  4. Heat a deep pan with some of the tomatoes olive oil. Put the garlic in first, and after 30seconds, put in the onion. Make sure the garlic doesn't burn, or it will taste bitter.
  5. Take out as many dried tomatoes as you like; chop them coarsely.
  6. Remove the olive pit from your olives, and cut them coarsely too.
  7. When the onions are slightly golden, add the mushrooms. you can add some black pepper and nutmeg. DONT add salt.
  8. Cut the Brinza. 
  9. When the mushrooms turned soft, add the chopped tomatoes and olives to the pan. let it sit for a few minutes, in the mean time, take the pasta off the stove. drain the water; DON'T wash the pasta. put some olive oil on it, and stir. add the pasta to the pan, and let it sit. don't forget to stir. add the Brinza and some fresh, basil leaves. Stir some more, until the cheese starts to melt. 
  10. Serve hot, or cold (: 

BE-TE-AVON!! (Hebrew for bon apetit!)


      Considering Challa: Aiming High

      You all know what challa is.
      that soft, sweet, tender, lovely bread that Jewish people usually eat on Friday evenings.
      so many times have I made Challa; it was actually the first bread I ever made, and that first, easy lovable product is what initiated my current love for bread baking.
      The perfect Challa for me is a mildly soft, thin crust with tender, soft crumb that melts in your mouth. it's excellent when its fresh with anything, especially for dipping in your egg at dinner, but also toasted, with salted butter on top.
      After not baking Challa for a very long time (started meddling with sourdough and such), I had an urge for something made of just plain yeast, and it was Friday, and we went to dinner, and making Challa was obvious.
      I didn't want to use my regular recipe- though it yields a great bread, its always somewhat flattens during baking. So I tried a recipe for Saffron Challa (without the Saffron) by Sussan of Wild Yeast that I slightly adjusted. Her recipes never let me down, and the bread in the picture looked just gorgeous.
      did only 2/3 of the amount (small oven and all):

      (no saffron) 4 eggs Challa
      adjusted form Wild Yeast
      (yields 2 500g loaves)
      400g flour
      200g high-gluten flour (used Shtibel #2 for bread)
      200g warm water
      7g instant yeast
      11g salt
      34g sugar
      54g egg yolk (a little less than 3 from #2 eggs, I weighted)
      66.6 whole egg (1 egg and a bit, #2, weighted)
      45g olive oil

      1. Wake up the yeast (not a must): put the dry yeast in a small bowl with a tsp of the sugar and 1/2 cup of the warm water. mix gently, and let them sit while you weigh and measure all other things.   
      2.  Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until just combined, then mix on low or medium speed until the gluten has reached nearly full development (great explanation in Wiled Yeast blog!). 
      3. Transfer the dough to a covered, lightly oiled container. Let it sit for 2 hours. After the first hour, gently press the dough to degas it (Forgot to do that all together!).
      4. Turn the dough onto a very lightly floured counter and divide it into pieces of about 500 g each. Further divide each piece, depending on the number of strands you want for each loaf.
      5. while dividing, pre-shaped the dough into chubby sticks and let them sit for about 10 minutes. then I rolled the sticks into forming longer strings, like when you shape a baguette.
      6. Braid or otherwise shape the dough as you please (see shaping notes in Wiled Yeast. I braided a 4 strings braid and tried the spiral-circle thing that opened in the oven). Place shaped loaves on a large parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced as far apart from each other as possible.
      7. Beat one egg with a fork and mix it with a teaspoon or so of water. Brush the egg wash lightly onto the loaves. Save the remaining egg wash.
      8. Slip the loaves into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature for 1.5 – 2 hours, until the dough springs back very slowly when pressed lightly with your finger.
      9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 380F.
      10. Before baking, give the loaves another light coating of the egg wash. Throw a few ice cubes in the bottom of the stove to create steam.
      11. Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, until the crust is a shiny dark brown.
      12. Place the loaves on a wire rack to cool.

      great loaves, though they reminded me somewhat a bought Challa. The crumb was soft though slightly stiffer than I like, a little too chewy. Also, since I'm married to a cholesterol-problematic guy, this thing has a little too much eggs for me. But what a hight!!

      this turned out so nicely it was submitted to Wiled Yeast's YeastSpotting (:


      I find you very attractive- make cool magnets, pt.II

      I know it might seem that I have a small magnet obsession, but we really do have loads of unwanted magnets and a lot of junk hanging on our fridge and front door (and we don't even have kids yet).
      This magnets project is a great idea for a something to do with all the bear caps left after Shavuot holiday or the weekend .

      What you'll need
      • bear bottle caps
      • nice looking paper
      • cardboard
      • white plastic glue
      • some sort of contact adhesive
      • round, strong magnets
      this time I've used some nicly patterned origami paper I had lying around and bear bottle caps; I think that with this method, any paper can work (except for cardboards and such).

      1. If your bottle cap has dark patterning on it and your paper is realtively thin (especially if using napkins), you should cover the top of the cap before you continue. paint spary will work, I find that cutting out cardboard circles and just gluing them is easyier, cleaner and cheaper.
      2. Make a mixture of plastic glue and water. I didn't measure the quantities,but you can tell there's a lot of glue in there by the color. don't be cheap. Rinse your paper in the glue water for a few minutes to soften it abit.
      3. Put the cap in the center of the paper, slowly fold the paper inwards while   keeping the face of the cap as tight as possible. use one hand to hold the    folded paper in place, and the other to keep on folding.
      4. Let the thing dry for 10-20 minutes. in the mean time, you can cover some more caps.
      5. Cut another circle that will fit the inside of the cap. when the paper is relatively dry, glue the card circle to cover up the folded paper. you can use the magnets at this point to tighten the folded paper back. let dry for another 10-20 minutes.
      6. When this complex is dry, use contact adhesive to attach the magnet to the bottom of your covered cap.
      7.     Let dry, and you're done!

      Happy Holidays all!

      new MEGA project- here's a peak

      look what I found on my way back from pilates the other night

      I could not resist the shaping of the arms, so much potential, so many options...

      stay tuned for news (:


      Things in jars make me all excited

      This Friday was about making things in jars.

      like pickles (did half the amount of cucumbers,but kept the amount of garlic and chilly. also added allspice which was not grounded.)

      and pesto, and mini-sun-dried tomatoes. my recipe for these is ho-so simple, can can make a great effortless gift for Shavuot.

      Dried Cherry Tomatoes
      Take a big pack of cherry-tomatoes (the elongated ones are the sweetest and work best) wash and slice in half. place in a pan, facing up.
      you can spread some sea salt, but lately I've just dried them "naturally" and I think the flavor is much better, also it's better for your blood pressure.Turn on the oven on very low temperature, between 100-150C degrees. after a few hours they will be dried. for long term preservation, put the tomatoes in a glass jar; add sliced garlic, thyme, rosemary, black peper. cover with extra-virgin olive oil; note that anything sticking out of the oil will get moldy. Enjoy! (:


      DIY Toilet paper hanger tutorial

      hey, what do you know: procrastination is a serious problem. hey, I even procrastinate the projects I start in order to procrastinate other things (and even procrastinated publishing this post. I have a serious problem)!
      this project is something I've been "working" on for quite some time: finding new looks for our awesome toilet paper hanger, a brilliant thing by itself, shamelessly copied from my brilliant sister, Inbar.

      the brilliant toilet paper hanger requires only two things: a string and a stick. both should both be durable and strong enough to hold the weight of several toilet paper rolls, one on top of the other.
      the whole "improvement" idea started because after some time, the natural yarn that was holding our toilet papers tore and needed to be replaced. and then I thought, that hey- if I could protect the string the hole thing could last longer. and hey, if I'm covering up the string anyhow, i can use a stronger string to begin with.

      I started by making some paper beads. there are endless tutorials around the web as how to make these; I like this tutorial, as her beads turned out so nice. when the beads dried i tried making the holes with a drill as mentioned in the tutorial- but then my genius dad suggested that I'll burn my way through, and by using a hot nail the thing took seconds.

      my braking point was the painting: it took a me a long time finding the time and patience to paint these, and finding a place to let them dry.

      eventually i made some holes in an empty energy bar box, that was a prefect drying stand.
      I was not sure about putting some polish on the beads, but since our toilet is right next to the shower i thought it can only help preserve the beads longer.

      as a last step i threaded the beads on a fishermen's string and tied the original stick at the end- this was I got the stronger version that maintained the natural look I like so much.To hang it, i made a loop at the top.

      the brilliancy of this thing is its simplicity- and easy adjustments that can change its style to match different looking toilets. a clean look can be achieved by using some fishermen's string and an empty pen (transparent plastic), a more natural look can be achieved by using unthreaded string and a wooden stick, or you can use colurfull beads to add more interest like i show here. there are thousands of other ideas- i'm sure you can come up with more. (:
      by the way, this one is a giveaway


      Purple Rain

      God, it was raining so hard Saturday morning, and it's almost June. Thank god that it did cause otherwise our neighbours impossible kids would keep on screeming all morning long (it was f#$#@ing 8:30am).
      I think Israel is slowly turning tropical...


      Floating on the memories of a strawberry cloud

       Nowdays it’s common knowledge that smells and tastes play a crucial role as memory stimulator, helping you remember and even sometimes re-experience past occurrences or feelings. 
      Tthis "strawberry cloud", or strawberry fluff has this effect on me: the test instantly brings me back to my grandmothers back yard, its spring time, the swing squeaks and her warm, tender hands stroke my cheek and hand me over a glass bowl filled with this delightful sweet bliss. 

      how wonderful that this things making is so darn easy.
      1 cup cut strawberries, without the leaves
      Juice from one lemon
      1 egg white

      Mix it all together with a mixer, max speed (takes about 10 min with a stand mixer) until you get a steady foam. Mix right before serving, as the foam tends to separate to strawberry juice and foamed egg white. You can freeze up the leftovers though, and get a refreshing strawberry icecream!


      A spice shelf in 2 seconds: DIY

      when I installed this thing on Thursday, I though: "what an idiot! how come I didn't think of this sooner?"
      well, the important thing is that I finally did.
      for those of you who are not familiar with our apartment, let me just say that we have a slight storage problem: we live in 38squer meters. we have very high walls, so they somewhat compensate for the lack of cabinets floor-height. 
      this is how my spice-shelf corner used to look like (there's another window above the higher one that you see, and the spices are about hip high)
      and then I remembered that I had old pot hangers lying with all my plant thingies. and that I might have a white board the right size to fit the exact width of those pot hangers.
       and it all fit perfectly to my window, and now everything is roomy and easier to handle (:
      I might re-paint the rusty hangers, though I kind of like the rusty look...


      DIY tutorial: Recycled Orbit gum pack planters

      In my weekly routine I drive a lot. Every day. 50km there and back again.
       The Orbit gum big packs are a necessity to me, and sometimes the only thing that keeps me from falling half asleep during morning traffic. As it happens, I started gathering quite a bit of empty packs- they were in such a cute little shape, they had to be good for something. And because I'm a planting person (I guess at some point a post about my plants will follow), I've decided to turn it into a nice little planter. very easy, and a perfect gift.
      you will need:
      • empty Orbit gum pack
      • scissors
      • acrylic paint (or anything else that will stay on plastic)
      • a nail and a source of heat (lighter, home stove)
      • some planting compost and a plant

       what you do:
      1. screw off the cover of the pack. 
      2. cut off the part that the cover was attached to (see picture).
      3. paint the pack. I did about 4 layers to have a semi-uniform paint, you can adjust this to your liking. let dry between layers.
      4. when painting finished, make hole to allow water draining: heat up a nail (don't do this in bare hands, use something!) and while hot, make holes at the bottom of the container. make at least 5 holes (or your plant will rot from the inside).
      5. fill up with dirt, plant something and water. place in a place that will please the plant you just planted.



      Magnetized! part I: re-designing your fridge magnets, DIY reusing ideas

      at my latest shopping round I went into a crafts store and apart from buying the clock mechanism previously mentioned, I also bough some magnets.
      you see, our fridge's door is a big mess filled with 'happy new years' cards, bills to pay and a lot of shitty, commercialized magnets (especially pizza magnets) to hold it all together.

      Ist project: re-design existing magnets
      for this I used things I had lying around the house:
      • magnets
      • rubber glue (won't cause wrinkles when you glue paper to something, unlike plastic glue)
      • scissors
      • ruler
      • transparent wallpaper
      • old tickets, maps, pictures
       take the magnets you want to change and place them on a map, picture or whatever you want to have on your fridge from now on. cut out a piece that will cover the magnet, glue and cover with the plastic wallpaper for protection, and you're done! It's also a nice way to use old museum cards and other trip memories  (: 


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