10 things I love about you.

17 Feb

Internet, you are completely, horrendously, overdue for some Israel posts. And a complete and detailed play by play is coming soon, I swear! But in the meantime, I am going to fondly reminisce about all the people, places, and things I miss most about Israel, and am going to try to avoid posting about absolutely everything. Because truly, I miss utterly everything.
Now that I have made three separate grammatical errors, I will continue quickly with the listing before my OCD notices.

*I am 89.9% sure I stole this idea from Becca Greenberg.

1. These people. Each and every one of them. I am planning an epic quest to visit every person in this shot, whether they like it or not. Seriously some of the most amazing people I have every met, and every one is special and fabulous in their own way. I wish we didn’t all live so far away!

Toronto Hillel-1, the Dream Team.

2. The streets & alleyways.

Flea market in Jaffa.

3. The food- some Israeli food, I should say. I think I could do without ever having raw fish for breakfast again.

Israeli breakfast: cornflakes, orange "drink", omelette, chocolate spread, and of course cottage cheese.

I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as this falafel.

In part because we were doing so much physical activity, and in part because we are bottomless pits, we developed a strategy to ward off the midday munchies and save money at the same time (we are Jews, after all). We packed sandwiches everyday from whatever was on the breakfast table and stashed them away in the bus for later.

Becca cleverly keeps her sandwich intact with a hair elastic.

Becca & I nom some delicious falafel.

4. The strength. Within its short history, the land and the people of Israel have faced so much hardship and yet show so much hope and strength.

Independence Hall.

A few of our amazing IDF soldiers and friends.

Rabin Square, at the site of the assassination.

Graves at the military cemetery, Mt. Hertzl.

5. This. Just everything about this.

Lisa makes her way down the concrete ramp.

6. The land. Just look at all these vistas!

Israel at the Syrian border.

On a hike in the Golan Heights.

Camel-riding in the Judean Desert.

View from Mount Masada.

Mountains in Eilat on our 4am sunrise hike.

7. The Vagina Palace. I love these girls so much, and I miss them more and more every day. Except for the turd. I’m stuck with her forever.

Family photo.

The VP at the back of the bus.

8. The history.

The Wailing Wall at the Kotel in Jerusalem.

Davidson Archaeological Gardens in Jerusalem.

9. Raptoring absolutely everywhere!

VP raptoring on our hike.

Raptoring in front of raptor! In the Golan Heights.

Becca & I perform a New Years raptor.

10. Falling in love.


The best place to be on a rainy day:

16 Feb

Is curled up by the fire with a good book at Padre’s place. Coming here is always a lovely getaway, where not only do i get to visit Monsieur Padre, but also get a bit of R&R.

A glass of Port, a cozy blanket, and the fire.

Padre & I in our matching sweaters. #toteschic.

I caught a late ferry on Wednesday and Padre and I had a wonderful, cozy evening by the fire. There are lots of cozy nooks to curl up and read in around this house (that’s what you get in a home full of bookworms!) but this is by far my favorite. The fireplace is a vintage one that had been installed by the previous owners and is just so charming.

The fire, "Nar" (fire in Elvish).

During Padre’s Tin Harem building extravaganza (still in progress) he cleared a spot in the woods on the property to build said building, and milled all the felled trees into lumber to build with. The remnants are what we burn in the fire, and as they are from cedar trees they make the whole house smell amazing. Padre managed to find the exact same fireplace for his Tin Harem!

The Cars Mahal under construction last Spring.

This morning we made the mandatory pilgrimage to the Old Town Bakery for cinnamon buns! I think these cinnamon buns are officially the most blogged-about thing on my site, but they really are that good.

My favorite; the classic cream cheese.

After breakfast, we made a stop at Active Solutions Chiropractic to see Sara, who my dad raves about, and now I see why! After my car accident this past Friday, my back and neck have been completely messed up- so much so that I can barely turn my head and have found group conversations increasingly awkward as I can only look someone in the eye while speaking to them if they are standing directly in front of me. She fit me in right away, was super sweet, and made me feel so much better! Hopefully her and her fiance will open up a practice in Vancouver soon…

Chilly harbour.

We stopped by the Maritime Museum and the Art Gallery, and then drove to Duncan to meet my friend Morris for lunch (also known as The Great Morri). We went to the Doghouse and had a very pleasant lunch, topped off by the hugest slice of lemon meringue pie I’ve ever seen.

The Great Morri contemplates how to consume such a large pie.

After lunch we headed back to the abode and gave Morris a tour of the Cars Mahal. Well Padre did, I stayed in and put the finishing touches on a love letter I was writing… Unfortunately I forgot to leave room for the stamp.

❤ letter.

We had yet another delicious dinner prepared by Uncle Peter, and lit Auntie MaryHelen’s new chandelier for the first time. Being a gentleman of lengthy stature, Morris was given the honors.

Morris lights the chandelier.

Let there be light!

The night ended with a family viewing of “Waking Ned Devine” which is a charming little story set in an Irish town. A local edlerly man wins the lottery and dies of shock, and when the rest of the town (population 52) bands together to claim his winnings, chaos and general shenanigans ensue. The rest of the night was spend in my favorite chair by the fire with a snuggly puppy and a glass of wine- I wish every night could be like this!

Live Long & Prosper,


Jaffa and why it is a suitable location for me to be a crazy cat lady.

16 Jan

Captain’s Log: 4 Stardate: December 26th

A 2 hour delay due to mechanical issues is never a reassuring start to a 10 hour international flight, although it did give us all a chance to get cozy and comfortable with each other. 40 of us plus our 2 madrachim met this morning in front of Pole D in Pearson International Airport, got on a plane, and landed on a sunny afternoon in Tel Aviv, already all best friends.

I sat with Miriam and Lisa in row 32, and I knew right away we were going to get along famously. The Jew32Crew was born.

Jew32! In front of some glorious artifact of which I forgot the historical significance.

Much to the chagrin of the group, I slept for most of the 10 hour flight. The waking moments were spent pelting Erin’s row with secret messages, eating horrendous food (even by airplane standards) with comically small cutlery, and attempting magic tricks with the deck of holographic shark cards.

Miriam eating with her hysterically minute fork.

Brushing my teeth in my seat.

Our first look of Tel Aviv was sunny and lined with palm trees, which was a welcome relief from rainy Vancouver winter.

Disoriented from all the sunshine.

We met our guide, Pauline, and our driver, Avner, who are both absolutely fantastic.

Avner showing off his pimpmobile. Photo courtesy of Lisa Rosengarten.

Our bus was decorated with shiny foil dreidels for Chanukah, and I had my first experience with “Miracles” by Matisyahu. I have to admit that the first dozen times it was blasted aggressively through my sleeping patterns I was less than fond of this particular ditty, but eventually it grew on me. The back of the bus was transformed into the Vagina Palace as we managed to fit 7 of us in the back 5 seats:

Vagina Palace takes over the back of the bus. Photo courtesy of Miriam Shustack.

Because of the time difference and our insanely packed schedule we shifted into high gear as soon as we landed. From the Ben Gurion airport we drove 45 minutes to Jaffa.


Jaffa is an ancient port city which has been used for hundreds of years as the gateway to Jerusalem, as well as having huge biblical significance: Jaffa is supposedly the place where the prophet Jonah left for Tarshish. We all introduced ourselves and broke bread together.

Our guide Pauline, breaking challah with one of our leaders, Senor Gluckstein.

In Jaffa I also discovered how wonderfully full of cats Israel is! There are stray cats everywhere, and I found it very hard to resist the urge to snuggle. (I may or may not have been secretly feeding them at the kibbutz…) I feel as though Jaffa would be a fantastically appropriate place to live out my lifelong ambition of being a crazy old cat lady. I intend to notify my place of employment immediately of my relocation.

Israeli kitty.

The clock tower in The Clock Square (which  was built for Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1906) was designated as our meeting spot and we were given an hour free time to explore the streets of Jaffa and the famous flea market.

Flea market in Jaffa.

I quickly discovered I had absolutely no idea how to function with shekels. I got used to them pretty quickly, but I am still irked by the fact that a coin worth 10 shekels can be smaller than a coin worth 10 sheklets*.

*Completely made up term used to describe the coins that are smaller than shekels. 

Streets of Jaffa. Photo courtesy of Rachel Abitan.

We shopped a bit, bought some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice, and saw the menorah lit up in front of the clock tower.

Jaffa clock tower and menorah at night.

We got stuck in some aggressive traffic on the way to our kibbutz so we were all eager for dinner. Thus far I am rightfully wary of Israeli food- being a vegetarian with Celiac’s disease is apparently far easier to maintain in West Coast hippie land.

The "mess hall" at the kibbutz. Photo courtesy of Marshall Podell.

My room mates at the kibbutz were the lovely Sarah (who is also from Vancouver) and Michelle.

Michelle, Sarah, and I. Roomies!

Note: that face I’m making is really quite misleading, as it is not indicative of my company but of some sort of treacherous hike I’m sure we were probably on at the time.

We rented out two buildings in the kibbutz and there was a little bar in front of ours. We all decided on bed right after dinner, but we were certainly aware late into the night of those who hadn’t.

Our kibbutz! Photo courtesy of Marshall Podell.

By the end of the day we were all not only exhausted and jet lagged, but we also felt like we’d known each other for years. I remember distinctly how bizarre it was reminding myself I’d only known some of these people a little over a day.

I was really looking forward to a shower, but unfortunately the shower had other ideas for me.

Bye-bye shower head.

I’m pretty sure the entire kibbutz heard me scream. Perhaps subconsciously I was hoping that if I broke things in our apartment some ridiculously attractive Italian man would come fix it shirtless… but I guess that was just in Italy.

Captain’s Log: 3 Stardate: December 26th

15 Jan

As soon as I stepped off the plane in Tel Aviv, Israel, I was certain I was going to fall in love with Israel for the following reasons, including but not limited to the succeeding evidence:

1) There were palm trees, and therefore it was sunny enough for there to be palm trees.

2) There were cats EVERYWHERE.

3) We were welcomed with sufganiyot (jelly donuts) at the bus. Sufganiyot are one of many traditional Jewish fried foods eaten around holidays to represent the miracle of the oil.

Anita gets a sufganiyah without jelly. Photo Courtesy of Miriam Shustack.

I might not come back.

Normal Kelsey vs. Israel Kelsey

8 Jan

This is what normal Kelsey would wear on a day to day basis:

Betsey Johnson ballerina dress.

Seester and I at VCC Fashion Show.


In Florence, Italy for Lorentia handbags.

Note the prevalence of vintage, fluffy dresses, sparkles, and obscenely high heels (not shown). Normal Kelsey is always overdressed for everything.

Now when given the challenge of “packing light” and “adventure-appropriate”, I accepted with gumption and committed fully to looking absolutely ridiculous for the entire trip. Stilettos were traded for hiking boots, tutus for khakis, and all traces of dignity for the atrocities that follow:

Sarah and I getting ready for our first hike!


My stylish make-shift turban.



Wise Words Uttered by Wise People

24 Dec

Captain’s Log: 4 Stardate: December 25

Various parcels of infinite wisdom offered to me before my departure:

From my mother: “Remember to bring paperbacks. I know how you like your heavy leather  tomes, but you won’t like them as much when you’re trekking the entire leather-bound works of Shakespeare across the Judean desert. Get thee to a library.”

From my sister: “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!!” (quoting Moody from Harry Potter)

From Anton: “I just waked ‘Taken’ so I swear to god Kelsey, be careful, or I will come over there, find you, and smack you”

Live Long & Prosper,


Christmas Eve, arts & crafts, and giant sharks in a hotel room in Toronto.

24 Dec

Captain’s Log: 3  Stardate: December 24

My hiking boots were packed, my laundry was (mostly) done, and non-denominational-holiday-festivus dinner had been consumed. Erin and I were both up all night packing and organizing, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more prepared for a trip! Normally tradition denotes that wet laundry is my constant and unfortunate travel companion, but this time I am happy to announce that every last sock was dry before being unceremoniously stuffed into my backpack.

My dad lent me his ridiculously cool backpack which he backpacked across Europe with in the 1970’s- when we opened the pockets there was even a vintage map and some very ancient soap! It isn’t a very large bag, and I had to struggle to fit everything in, but I’m proud to announce that for once in my life, I have “packed light”.

My bag vs. Erin's bag.

So light, in fact, that my bag was even smaller than Erin’s! Which NEVER happens. I outpack EVERYONE.

Our flight was a bit bumpy, but we met a wonderful woman sitting beside us and we all chatted about our love of confectionary creations. Finding dinner at the hotel at 9:00pm on Christmas Eve was a bit tricky though…this is what we managed to scrounge up:

Christmas Eve dinner

After dinner it was my favorite time: arts & crafts time! I was so annoyed that SFU didn’t have my department’s sweater in their store that I bought a plain sweater, some iron-on-transfers, and set my mind out to create a masterpiece. I just needed to find a thin cotton cloth somewhere…

Getting Martha Jew-art-y with the bed linens.

Despite the minor OCD-provoking overlap of the ‘S’ and the ‘O’ I’d say my hotel craft project was a success!

Homemade SFU Philosophy sweater.

Now there’s not much to do except tuck into bed, watch Jaws on TV, and get excited about tomorrow! Waking up on Christmas morning in a strange hotel room without my family will be weird, but luckily I have plenty of holiday candy to cheer me up.

Live Long & Prosper,