Monday, March 21, 2011

Snippets of Purim 5771

Delivering mishloach manot
Queen flipflops. She abandoned the costume almost immediately.
Bigsan, one of the palace guards who tried to kill King Achashverosh. Yes, he came up with that.
How cute is this pose? He couldn't decide what he wanted to be so he dug through all the old costumes and settled on this one.
Solly woke up with a runny nose and fever. He didn't feel like donning a costume. This headband had to do...

And they all got face the Purim Carnival...

I was the Hamantaschen Fairy and I hope a picture is coming soon....

Purim by the numbers...
approximately 12 dozen: hamantaschen baked
15: Mishloach Manot delivered
11: how many times I reminded the children prior to the Purim Carnival that we would NOT take any fish home
10: Packages mailed
8: Minutes before Yael took her costume off
5 (or 6): Costumes that Sam rejected before settling on the thing he ended up wearing
1: blue tutu that I was able to get shipped overnight for my fairy costume
0: how many fish we took home

How was your Purim?

Multiculturalism Rocks

Did you know that Saturday was St. Joseph's Day?

I didn't.

We dropped off mishloach manot - a bag of hamantaschen and assorted other goodies - at our Italian Catholic neighbors' house.

And she stopped by with fritters.

I can totally share in the treats from the patron saint of pastry chefs.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Haveil Havalim #308: It's Almost Purim!

What's going on here today?
Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'
Please publicize HH on your own blog and share the news about it! 

You can make donations to assist with Japan's Disaster Relief through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Welcome to the It's-Almost-Purim edition of Haveil Havalim... 

Batya posted Does Jealously Have a Place in the Cause of Antisemitism and Anti-Israel Actions? and Why Is Caroline Glick So Surprised? at Shiloh Musings.
Joel Katz presents Religion and State in Israel - March 7, 2011 (Section 1) and Religion and State in Israel - March 7, 2011 (Section 2) - always an interesting read.
Israel At Level Ground shared: Israeli Firm to Give Bionic Vision to the Blind, They Cry 'Apartheid,' While Israel Fast-tracks Arabs Into High-tech, and Mt. Hermon (photo)
On Israelity this week: Pamela Anderson brings Biblical message to the streets of Tel Aviv and Peter Yarrow helps young Israelis respect themselves
Daniela, a newish blogger reviewing Israeli products at Isreview, offered a review of Klik's Orange & Bubblegum Chocolate Cereal Snack (sounded kinda icky to me, but I'm not a big flavored candy fan) and Roladin's Oznei Haman (sounded much yummier to me!)

Jewish music
Frume Sarah's World is recorded! Seriously! Go see this post about her new CD... You Sing Too?!?
And in case you missed it, The Maccabeats are back with their new Purim song. Can't wait to see what they come up with for Pesach.
And here's a Purim playlist from yours truly.


Just call me Chaviva responds to an earlier post about Dating During Conversion Jacob Wing Jacob Da Jew is trying something new: Wing Chun Jew- First Post.
Elle of On Becoming Devoted is musing on inner change with my way.
Mystery Woman is not ready to lose her live-in fashion consultant: Separation Anxiety.
Allison Josephs, aka Jew in the City shared this post: In Pursuit of Perfection: A Humbling Experience.
The Challah Blogger is making Pizza Challah. Yum!
The Frugal Ima is thinking about Day School and/vs Jewish Camp. What do you think?

Risa, aka Isramom, wrote about International Wormen's Day - We Could Be Doing A Lot Better!
Izgad posted Ban Circumcision and the Orthodox Will Finally Realize That It was Wrong All Along
Liberty's Spirit thinks Jewish-American Leaders are Chicken...

Torah and Judaism
The Rebbetzin's Husband wonders about our attention spans at Entertain us! and also posted Anti-Academic Judaism. 
NY's Funniest Rabbi posted Vayikra: The Heart of the Sacrifice
Batya put up: Ladies, Let's Party!
Elise of Raising Asperger's Kids wrote a very interesting post on Purim and a Question of Hypocrisy, and has this follow-up post too: Maccabeats do Purim; UPDATE An Answer to the Purim Question
On the Fringe (Al Tzitzit) examines Baal tefillah vs. baal koreh and Creating 1 problem while trying to "solve" another?
Ilana-Davita wrote From Paris to Antwerp.
Rabbi Rosenberg is talking about Pooping and Praying.
To Kiss A Mezuzah is thinking about Being Vulnerable with God and asking What Does Building the Mishkan Have To Do With Kashrut?
Achas L'Maala V'Sheva L'Matta reviewed a book: Common Sense of a High Order- a book review posted at, saying, "A review on Rabbi Moshe Averick's new book: Nonsense of a High Order"
Jacob Richman presents a new Learn Hebrew Purim Video (and there are links to tons of Purim videos there too!)
Do you need tips for your Hamantaschen baking? Here are some of mine
Kosher on a Budget is running a Purim Challenge - you donate cans, she will match your donations!

That's all for now, folks! Hope I didn't miss anyone. Feel free to share your own favorite posts from this week in the comments.

Please send your posts for the next edition of the Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival via the Blog Carnival Submission Form.  (and please, for the sake of our hosts, try not to submit more than 3 posts a week!) 

A Purim Playlist

Looking for a few good Purim videos to make the week festive?

Here's a Purim playlist for you!

What's your favorite Purim video or song?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Snippets: Florida

We took a weekend jaunt to sunny(ish) Florida for a family Bar Mitzvah. Along the way we had some adventures. Isn't life always an adventure with four kids!?

Sitting in the cockpit before our first flight...
Enjoying the warm weather upon our arrival...
The kids could not get over the change in weather. From the low 30s to the high 70s was such a shock to their systems!
Good morning, Florida!
Of course, we had to hit the beach. The waves were pretty intense and it was really windy, so Yael was a little frightened. The boys had no trouble diving right in...

And look who turned 3 months old while we were on our way home...
What were you up to this week?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hamantaschen Tips and Tricks

Last year I did a "Hamantaschen Test Kitchen" with six different varieties:
Cream Cheese Dough
Gluten Free Hamantaschen
Aunt Dora's Recipe
Yeast Dough

This year, I thought I would give some of my favorite tips and tricks for hamantaschen baking:

Marble hamantaschen...mmm....
1. Make the dough in advance. It will work better if cold, and most hamantaschen doughs freeze really well. Just let it get soft enough to roll out once you're ready to use them.

2. Make and freeze ahead of time. I have 4 dozen hamantaschen hanging out in my freezer from last week just waiting to be packaged and given out to friends and family. Don't feel pressure to make them all at once.

3. I love using my silicone rolling mat to roll out the dough. This keeps me from needing to add too much flour as I roll, and it keeps the flavor of the dough intact. I also recommend baking on parchment. It's the best way to keep things from sticking. Also helps if the filling oozes out a little - makes cleanup much easier!

4. Brush each dough circle with a little egg white before filling. I lay out all the circles on the cookie sheet, brush them all, then drop the filling, then pinch them all. It works best in an assembly line fashion like this, rather than trying to do each hamantaschen one by one. (Then again, if you're doing it with the kids...let them have their fun!)

5. Fillings should be nice and thick, but not too dry. Chocolate chips by themselves make for dry hamantashen, but chocolate spread works great. Some people are purists and require poppyseed. If you like it, have at it! Buy high quality oven-safe jams, they work really well. It's worth it for the yum.

6. Be creative! One of my favorite tricks is to spread some jimmies or multi-colored sprinkles down on the mat and roll the dough out on top of them. This way the sprinkles are in the outside of the hamantaschen. For getting really fancy, I might drizzle chocolate on top or even dip part or all of each finished cookie in chocolate. Can't go wrong with that!

Some other interesting hamantaschen links:
Midnight Mint Hamantaschen - these look divine
Poppy Seed Rolls - a little twist on Purim
Hamantaschen Cupcakes - someday I'm going to make these

What's your favorite flavor? Weigh in over here at the Reform Judaism blog.

What kind are you making this year?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Winner - Debt Free for Life

Debt Free For Life: The Finish Rich Plan for Financial FreedomThe winner of the copy of Debt Free for Life is Amanda!

You can get your own copy over at Amazon or wherever fine books are sold :-)

Why a Snake Cake?

For months, Yael has been asking for a "snake cake" for her birthday.

Why did she want a snake? No clue. Did she have an answer for me? Nope. But she was adamant. I tried really hard to convince her to let me make something else, but I couldn't actually think of another I figured, why not?

So Yael got a snake cake.

Two bundt cakes, chocolate of course....cut in half and arranged like a snake.
 Frosted in greenish....

 (Marshmallow and chocolate chips for the eyes. A little writing icing for the decoration and a fruit roll-up for the tongue.)
 And Yael wanted to eat the snake's here's her piece of birthday cake:
Almost as cool as this cake and much simpler to make....why did Yael want a snake cake? To make life easy for her mama!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Birthday Party Milestone

We have great birthday parties in our house. And I mean "in our house" because we have never had a party that wasn't homegrown. (Once we used the social hall of the synagogue, but that's just like a second home for us.)

But for Yael's birthday this year, I knew we would have a new baby. And I thought it would be hard to have a party at home.

Then I saw a great deal from Build-A-Bear in December. There was a limited selection of bears on sale, plus a $10 gift card, etc. And you can order the bears unstuffed and then go to the place at the mall and have them stuffed!

So that's what we did. We had a party out of our house! We had six kids plus my three-and-a-half (the half was in the Ergo for the whole party) and made bears and other assorted animals, followed by ice cream scoops for everyone!

A huge success.
 Here's Yael prepping the "heart" that she put into her bear.

 Her finished product. It's actually a Hello Kity doll that she named "Princess."
Yael "bathing" her bear after its stuffing. And supervising each of her friend's fluff-filling.

After this, we went home for a family dinner and a pretty cool looking cake.
Come back tomorrow for the cake post!