Monday, November 30, 2009

Declaring Email Bankruptcy

People often ask me how I find the time to do everything I need to do and still find time to blog. My secret is that I just ignore certain things that I need to do. I often forget to pay bills, send in the dry cleaning and check my email.

Recently I checked the number of emails I had in my inbox. There were 8041 of them. Yikes! I knew exactly what I needed to do, declare email bankruptcy. I went through the most recent ones, answered the ones that needed to be answered, unsubscribed from a bunch of websites and deleted all the rest. I think that I'm supposed to contact everyone who sent me an email and let them know that if they have anything of real importance to tell me that they need to re-email me. Unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to do this.

I feel much lighter and carefree and I have managed to keep my email responses up to date for the past 24 hours. We'll see how long this lasts but first instead of doing something that I need to get done I'm going to check my wish list at Shopbop and see if anything on it is on sale yet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

When I was growing up Thanksgiving was my favorite time of year. It was not because we had a wonderful festive meal with our extended family. For my family it was just about the 4 of us; me, my brother and my parents. Each year we spent the holiday at the Concord hotel in the Catskills, one of the many old "Jewish" resorts that are no longer around.

To me it was the height of luxury. We ate all of our meals in the giant dining room and we dressed for dinner (we still have some great pictures of our family all dressed up taken by a "professional" photographer). The Concord had a real night club where famous people like Ben Vereen, Gladys Night and the Pips and Hal Linden performed. There was also a carnival where each year the same woman swallowed swords much to our amazement. Every year we had the same waitress, a Holocaust survivor names Lola who adored my father and severed us champagne ices on Saturday night. Many of the same families went back each year so there were also special Thanksgiving friends. We spent 5 days swimming, ice skating, skiing, eating and have the time of our lives.

After my father died we went back for a few years but it was never the same for us. I remember that Lola had to stop being our waitress because she cried every time she came near our table. The first year after my father died I was 15 and my brother was 12. When we drove through the South Bronx in our car on the way to the Concord my brother and I took turns pointing at burned out buildings and saying " I have some really bad news for you, see that building over there? That's our new home". We laughed hysterically, still raw from my father's death 5 month before and unsure of our future. This is one of my most treasured memories.

I started spending Thanksgiving with my husband's family the first year we met, when he was still my boyfriend. His family had a tradition of going to see a Broadway play each year and that year we saw Les Mis. By the next year my nephew had been born and we began having a big family meal at my sister in law's. Broadway is no place for babies and there would be 5 more to come! This year will be my 19th Thanksgiving with them. It is now my family's tradition.

I have lots of memories from the 18 Thanksgivings we've spent together. Like the year my nephew was 2 and my sister in law and brother in law let him watch the Year Before Time instead of letting the adults watching the football game. My husband and I smugly swore we would never let a child control us like that. Of course we eventually realized exactly why one would actually make that choice when we had kids.

My favorite memory with my husband's family was in 2001, right after 9/11, when every one was feeling very patriotic and we all spontaneously burst into G-d Bless America during dinner. The kids love spending the holiday with their cousins and are forming their own memories. Every year the boys play football, the girls dance and Poppy (my father in law) gives all the kids gifts. It's a good gig and I really look forward to it each year.

Since I don't spend the holiday with my brother and mom anymore I do miss being with them on Thanksgiving. What I really miss, though, is that memory of ourselves, when we dressed for dinner. The one where my dad is wearing a suit and my mom has on a long crushed velvet dress that looked like it had been tie dyed. The version of of us when I was still taller than my brother.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May you all add new and beautiful memories from your holiday gathering this year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jewish Crafts for Kids: Stained Glass Hanukkah Menorahs




The girls and I have been really enjoying making Hanukkah menorahs for the past few days. These are some pictures of some of the menorahs the girls made. T asked me to cut out some blue dreidles and Jewish stars so she could decorate her menorah. Of course D also wanted to decorate her menorah but she wanted pink hearts, pink stars and pink circles. Does anyone want to try guess what D's favorite color is! Below is a tutorial on how to make them.


Draw an outline of a menorah and candles on a piece of black construction paper with a white or light colored pencil. Then cut out the candles and the menorah with a craft knife.


Cut out rectangles of silver tissue paper that will fit behind the cut out menorah and cut out pieces of colored tissue paper that will fit behind the cut out candles.


Using a glue stick glue the tissue paper to what will be the backside of the stained glass. Make sure that you put glue around the cut outs so that when you trim the paper your tissue paper will stayed glued to the construction paper.


This is what the menorah will look like when you are done gluing the tissue paper to the back and you turn it over. Cut off the excess black construction paper leaving a border of black construction paper approximately 1/4 inch.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spicy "Red Stuff" Red Lentil Soup


Each week during the morning Shabbat services Jews read a different parsha (chapter) of the Torah. This week's parsha is Toldot. This parsha includes the story of Easav selling his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of "red stuff" which was lentil stew. In honor Parshat Toldot I have posted a recipe for red lentil soup. I like to serve it with vegan squash corn muffins for a delicious and satisfying weeknight dinner. By the way this recipe is really easy to double and can be frozen.

2 teaspoons ghee or butter
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup of dried red lentils
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Heat butter or ghee in a large pot. Saute onions and garlic in butter or ghee until golden. Add spices and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes to the pot and cook until they breakdown. Add water and lentils to the pot and let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring often.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cranberry Apples Relish for Thanksgiving or Whenever!




This recipe is from one of my favorite cook books Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. I make this cranberry sauce for my roasted turkey from the time that the first cranberries are harvested until the end of the winter. Once the fresh cranberries are gone from the market I use frozen cranberries and you can't tell the difference. I often double the recipe and put 1/2 in the freezer (it keeps for 2-3 weeks)

1 1/2 cup cranberries
1 cup apples
1/2 cup currants
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup apple juice

Place cranberries, apples , currants, zest, maple syrup,salt and juice in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature. This will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days

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