Thursday, February 23, 2012

Clementine Crate Misloach Manot (Gift) Boxes

Each Novemeber we go crazy for clemetines and we eat and eat them until about January when we are all sick of them! Clementines  usually come in wooden crates and I figured that we should keep all of our crates because I thought that they might make cute gift baskets for Purim.

After some thought we decided to cover them with craft paper and Modge Podge. I think they came out looking very crafty! This is a good project for all ages and fun for a family to do together.  Below is the tutorial for them.

Clementine crate
12x12 scrapbook/craft paper
Modge Podge (I used matte)
Paint brush for the Modge Podge

1. Pick the paper that you want to use to cover the crate. I used 2 different patterns that were the same color.                                 
2. Trace the short side of the crate on one of the pieces of paper.

2. Fold over the paper and and cut out the tracing. Since you were not able to totally trace the side just imagine where the line would have extended to so that you end up with a rectangle.
3. You will end up with paper for both of the short sides.

4. Repeat with the long side EXCEPT you want to add about a quarter of an inch to the width so you will be able to fold it over the ends. This will make the crate look neater.

5. Apply Modge Podge to the long pieces and glue on to the crate. Since the paper will be a little bit longer on the sides just fold them over.

6. Apply Modge Podge to the shorter pieces and glue them on to the short side of the crate.

7. Wait about 10 minutes and apply a layer of Modge Podge to the paper that has been glued to the box.

8. When the Modge Podge is dry apply another layer.

9. Line with tissue paper and fill with goodies!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

R's Bat Mitzvah Part 2: Shabbat Leining

Conceptually I had always thought that it would be nice if R had an opportunity to lein (chant from the Torah) for her Bat Mitzvah but initially neither me or R really took much initiative to make it happen. When R saw a friend lein last October she got the bug and decided that that she also wanted to lein. We contacted Paula Gantz and Adena Berkowitz who run Women's Tefilla on the Upper West Side and they got the ball rolling. I can't tell you how much time both Paula and Adena put into this Bat Mitzvah and I will be forever grateful to them.

We could have picked anytime to do it but we wanted to do it as close to her 12th birthday as we could. We decided on Feb 4th, Shabbat Shira. That gave us about 3 1/2 months to learn the trope (melody and notes) and as much of the parsha (portion of the Torah) as possible. With the help of our amazing teacher Leora R managed to learn almost half of it. Most kids take about a year to learn the full parsha so R really did a great job in such a short period of time. At the Bat Mitzvah Leora, Paula and one of Adena's daughters P graciously leined the rest of the parsha for us.

In typical me fashion I picked what turned out to be the logistically worst Shabbat possible at our shul. Some one had already rented the ballroom for lunch and there was a choir that day in the sanctuary in honor of Shabbat Shira so we could not do our speeches there. We had to figure out how to make the upstairs work for our service, speeches and kiddish and thanks to Deborah Riker (Rabbi Mark Wildes assistant AND A party planner) we pulled it off.

As those of you who know me know organization is not one of my strengths. Deborah kept me focused and on task. She  helped with everything from picking a great caterer who was not obscenely expensive and had delicious fresh food to not letting me order anything else whenever I was overcome with the fear that we would not have enough food! (She was also a huge help with the kids party!).

Since  we were doing a Women's Tefilla service only women and close male relatives (J, Z, 2 Uncles and 2 Grandfathers) were invited to come for the service. The rest of the men were invited to the speeches and kiddish. In order for a Woman's Tefilla sevice to be kosher there can be no more than 9 men there. If there was a minyan (10 or more men) you then run into problems halachically (Jewish law wise).

I have always "believed" in Women's Tefilla but I have to admit that this was only my fourth Women's Tefilla service. I felt a little disoriented as the service began (of course it could have also been that I have not been to the beginning of a Shabbat service in almost 16 years!). I had been so focused on the logistics of the day that I was not prepared for how I felt when R began to lein. I was transported. Her voice sounded beautiful. I still can not put words to how significant it was to hear my daughter lein. All I can say was that I felt just like I had when I gave birth to her when she was finished, complete with the adrenaline rush that left me sleepless for the next few days. I still can't stop thinking about what she sounded like.

T , who was very cute, did a great job closing up the service. When we were done we had a short break. J made Kiddish (the blessing over the wine) and we had some cookies and cake before we started the speeches, which we kept brief (there is nothing worse than having to sit through an hour of speeches at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah!). After the speeches we went next door for what turned out to be a beautiful and low key kiddish lunch. Since we had limited time to set up and limited space we put out a bunch of cocktail tables and everyone either found a seat or just milled about eating and talking with friends. I could not have been more pleased with the way that everything turned out.

So many of my friends who came to the Women's Tefilla service have told me how meaningful they thought that the Bat Mitzvah was and I can not agree with them more! I really believe that leining has been an incredible growth experience for  R. It is another way for her to connect with G-d and be actively involved in Judaism and her community. I also feel like I have had the opportunity to grow spiritually. It reminded me realize how important Synagogue services are and how they help ground you in G-d, Judaism and your community. I can't think of a more significant way that we could have celebrated her Bat Mitzvah and I am excitedly anticipating T ans D's.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

R's Bat Mitzvah Part One: The Kids Party

When we first started to think about what we were going to do for R's Bat Mitzvah we figured that we would have her learn something and have a siyum (a celebration of completion). We had discussed the option of leining (reading from the Torah) at a Women's Tefilla service but R was initially not  interested in doing it. However, after she saw a friend lein at her Bat Mitzvah, R decided that she did in fact want to lein. So we changed our plans.

We decided that it made the most sense to do a kids party and have a kiddish after the Women's Tefilla  for our family and friends. At first I was a little uneasy about having two parties because it seemed a little excessive. When I thought about it though, I realized that it was actually the wisest thing to do. R's friends from school live in many different communities and if they came to the leining on Shabbat then we would have had to deal with feeding and putting up all the girls. That would have been a major undertaking both time and money wise.

One of the things that I don't love about Bat Mitzvah parties (and even Shabbat leining) is the emphasis on "The Dress". Bat Mitzvah girls tend to become hyper focused on what they are wearing and so do their guests. It occurred to me that if the girls wore pajamas to the party we could avoid that problem. When I first brought it up R thought that I had lost my mind!

When she brought it up with her friends they all thought it was a fun idea and got really excited about it so we decided that we would have a slumber party theme and the girls would all wear pajamas. I sent a note out with the invitation telling the moms NOT to buy new pajama's for the party. The girls were all so adorable when they showed up in a collection of flannel PJ's, fluffy pants, sweatpants, robes and tee shirts.  It was definitely the right move. There was a vibe at the party that would not have existed had the girls all had party dresses on.

Since this was a kid's party the party was all about the kids. We hired a great DJ (he was so much fun!) and gave out fake mustaches (which made for some hilarious pictures) and glow stick necklaces. We also we had airbrush tattoos and a green screen photographer. Since there were only about 60 girls at the party (All the girls in her grade, plus camp and neighborhood friends) the girls got the chance to take a ridiculous amount of pictures and get a ridiculous amount of tattoos! It was a little bit like being let loose in a candy shop.

At each Bat Mitzvah the Bat Mitzvah girl's friends really take the time to make her feel special. There are always personalized songs written, memory bottles made and because this was not on Shabbat the girls also made videos for R that we were able to show at the party. It was so sweet. These girls understand that a Bat Mitzvah really is a significant point in a Torah observant girl's life.

The girls all had a great time and we were so pleased with how the party turned out. T is now excitedly planning for her own pajama party in 2014!

The sign in "pillow" which is now proudly displayed on R's bed
The mandatory chair lift
Hula hoop contest which T won!
More dancing
The DJ played this hilarious game where the team that put the most blown balloons in the giant tee shirt worn by one of their team members won.
The "Stuffed" Girls
D didn't stop dancing all night
The little ones all had a great time
The only decorations that we had were balloons and center pieces. For the center pieces we filled up small glass vases with pink Hershey's kisses and stuck in hot pink toothbrushes that said "Ravi's Bat Mitzvah Party" in silver on them (those were our giveaways!)
Mandatory Coke and Pepsi game!
Below are some of the green screen shots:
Ah Paris. This one could be my favorite one.
The Cheetah Girls
Me, D, J R and T on a tropical get away
T and G on American Idol


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