Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Celebration and a Giveaway!

I am so proud to have (almost) completed my third NaBloPoMo!

It's been a great month around here ... a whole bunch of birthdays, a whole bunch of baking, hosting Haveil Havalim (it's so convenient to host during November), and I even went to the Biennial and got famous!

So, to celebrate, a really great giveaway from my friend over at RotemGear.

Go check out her cool stuff, she has a great collection of t-shirts and other wearables with funny and quirky Jewish stuff on them. Some of them make me laugh out loud!

Winner will get a "Got Latkes?" T-shirt - isn't it adorable???

To win:
Go over to RotemGear (I'll wait) and pick your favorite t-shirt. Come back here and leave a comment telling me which one is your favorite.

Get an extra entry by tweeting about it. Make sure to leave me a comment telling me you did that, please.

Make sure I have a way to get ahold of you if you win!

Giveaway will close on DECEMBER get commenting, folks!

Anyone can win, but non-US addresses won't get their shirt in time for Chanukah this year.

Another chance to win is available over at the RotemGear blog...write a Chanukah-themed limerick to win!

Don't forget, I'm also giving away a $25 gift certificate to Oh Nuts over here.

Chanukah Countdown

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Guest Poster (sorta)

It's late, it's almost the last day of NaBloPoMo...and here I am...

I haven't written many of these "filler" posts but...motzei Shabbat is as good of a time as any.

So, I went looking for a funny video to share with you instead of writing a post.

But really, please come back tomorrow since I'll be posting a giveaway from RotemGear!

Oh, AND the guest who is looking over my shoulder as I write this, Rabbi Anne Persin, wants to say hi to all my loyal readers. {{{{waving}}}}

Okay, so here's the video that Anne decided I should post today. In case you haven't seen it yet, it's pretty funny:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Who ate the pie?

Come back after Shabbat for a really cool giveaway from RotemGear!

Shabbat Shalom!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Thankful

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
—Emma Lazarus, 1883

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What's on Your Wish List?


I totally stole borrowed am playing along with the Angel Forever.

TodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year? 

- one morning to sleep in as late as i want and a whole day to laze around in bed
- a family vacation to a warm place
- a CSA membership for the summer
- a personal chef to cook all the CSA food (hey, a girl can dream, right?)
- one of these shirts
- this phone...or this one.

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received? 

When I went to college, a dear friend of my grandmother's knit me an afghan. I still have it, and I still treasure it. She remembered the colors of my Bat Mitzvah invitation and made it to match. What an amazing gift.

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle? 

I'd like to learn to knit and felt purses. I think they're so cool.

4. What was the best Christmas Chanukah gift you received as a child? 

I remember receiving a "boom box" the year I turned 8. It was a joint present for Chanukah and my birthday and I loved it. It brought music into my own room and I thought that was the greatest thing in the world.

5. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year? 

My children really want for nothing...they've just had birthdays and our cup runneth over.

That said, Sam is into Ben10 gear, David into Legos and DS games, and Yael really wants this Dora dollhouse.

6. What is your favorite holiday food? 

Sufganiyot. The chocolate-filled ones. Preferably hot and fresh and purchased in Mahane Yehuda. But since that won't happen, I'll be heading over to Mizrahi Grill for my sufganiyot this year.

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays? 

I'm thinking of doing some jars of cookie mix. Might make a nice gift...

8. What is your favorite holiday movie? 

Lights: The Miracle of Chanukah

9. Favorite holiday song? 

(okay, maybe not it's my very favorite, but I do love this one!!!!)

10. Favorite holiday pastime?

Playing dreidel and singing songs

Feel free to play along. The amazing prizes up for grabs can be found here. Thanks to TodaysMama for all of the fun. You have until December 13 to join in 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to Raise a Reader

I love to read. Perhaps I've mentioned that before.

But I've always worried that my own love of reading (and that of my husband) would not be enough to create little readers.

Our oldest loves to read. He's 8 years old, and he's zipping through books. He has read some of the Harry Potter books, he's read the Little House books, and he's currently devouring every Encyclopedia Brown book I can get him.

Sounds good, right? But it's not enough for this Ima. Now that I've created one reader, I'm onto the next...and it seems to be working pretty well!

We are trying the same path with Sam as we did with David, and it seems to be following quite the same course. Nevertheless, it still makes me giggle with delight that he's so into the books we're introducing. What's the secret we've found? The Magic Tree House books.

David loved them and now Sam does too. I can't quite figure out what the draw is, except that there are a lot of them, and they have various topics that are all interesting to little boys. (We haven't quite gotten Yael on the Magic Tree House bandwagon yet, but as you'll see, she's doing fine on her own as well.)

We are currently spending a brief amount of time visiting my parents. When I say brief, I mean that we will be home before Shabbat. Less than 4 days will be spent away from home.

Sam packed some cars:

But he also packed some books:

And when we arrived, he laid them all out on the floor. To be fair, the top row (7 books) were packed by Yael with help from her Abba. But the other row, the long row, with about 20 books, was packed entirely by Sam himself.

Think he brought enough?

David packed about 8 books. (And I threw in 2 extras for him in my bag.)

And what about me? Four.

Guess it just runs in the family!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh NUTS Giveaway for Chanukah!

Oh yes, my loyal readers (all 6 of you...thanks, guys), the fun that you've experienced for the last 2 years is's year 3 of the Ima's Chanukah Countdown!

And to kick it off right, Oh Nuts has generously offered a $25 gift certificate to one LUCKY reader!

Three ways to enter:

1. Go to the Oh Nuts Hanukkah gifts page. Choose your favorite Hanukkah Gift and leave a comment RIGHT HERE on this post with the name and url of the gift.

I will pick ONE lucky winner! You have until December 10th, the day before Chanukah!

2. Go to the Oh Nuts Facebook page and post on the wall the url and name of your favorite Hanukkah Gift. PLEASE also write "I am here via Ima on and off the Bima"

3. Follow @ohnuts and should Tweet:
Win a free Hanukkah Gift from Follow @ohnuts and Retweet to enter.

Absolutely full disclosure: 
Oh Nuts has agreed to give me personally a gift if I hit 40 comments on this post. 
So help me out, y'all!? Thanks! Tell your friends...

Stay tuned for more Chanukah Countdown giveaways and Chanukah posts over the next 2 1/2 weeks...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Haveil Havalim...

Mother in Israel has put up a really nice Haveil Havalim.

Go check it out and see what's going on in the Jewish and Israeli blogosphere. Much to see....

Day 22 of NaBloPoMo...into the home stretch!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sharing Germs

So, my husband and I were having a fight discussion intense debate heated conversation the other day. I was in the driver's seat, getting ready to leave, and he was standing outside my window.

Sam was eager for us to leave.

We were intent on our conversation.

Finally, he shouted "we're going to be late!" (which is what, of course, I always say) and we realized it was time to end the discussion.

As he walked away, the same thought occurred to both of us.
We've both just finished reading NurtureShock, a really remarkable book about children and what we think we know and don't really know. A general common wisdom is to not fight in front of the kids - but then kids don't see the "make up" or the resolution of the um, conversation. (Go. Read. This. Book.)

So he came back to the car to kiss me good bye.
It was a nice long kiss.

Mr. Impatient in the back seat yelled again "let's go!"

And then he took a new tack:
"You're going to get sick!"

It's not a bad point.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rituals for Thanksgiving

It's hard to believe that the holiday of Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. Just one more week!

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful American holiday. It's simple - say thank you for the blessings in life and share a meal with those you love.

But often, the meal takes over, stress of family and needing a "picture perfect" celebration cause a little fraying at the edges. Creating an atmosphere of gratitude can be tricky when you're just trying to keep your 3-year-old from pulling the tablecloth off the table, don't you think?

I have created 3 different Thanksgiving services, based loosely on the idea of the Passover seder. After all, one good holiday centered around the table deserves another, doesn't it?

Feel free to read all three and pick and choose from within them! Your family might be somewhere between the longer edition and the quick version.

The first, a Thanksgiving Seder, is the longest of the three - suitable for strong attention spans.

Thanksgiving Seder 

The second, a Thanksgiving Seder for Families with Young Children, is a quick version, meant to be fun and light for the preschool and elementary school set.

Thanksgiving Seder for Families with Small Children 

And finally, an ecumenical version. What do I mean by that? It talks about God but it's not particularistic, i.e. not really very Jewish. (I know that some of you loyal readers aren't Jewish or share your table with people of many faiths and still might enjoy this concept!)

Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service for Families 

All three include ideas for usage and suggestions for incorporating your own cultural and ethnic heritage. I hope you like it and I hope you let me know if you use it.

May your celebration be full and enriching!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Magnifying Glass....Cake!?

So what kind of cake would you make for a Secret Agent party? We discussed making binoculars out of chocolate donuts. That sounded delicious but complicated.

Instead, I settled on a magnifying glass cake.

It took 2 boxes of cake mix. Seriously, cake mix is really good stuff.
I used one box of chocolate and one box of sprinkle cake.
I made 2 rounds, 1 square, and 12 cupcakes. The cupcakes were just for kicks so as not to waste the rest of the cake mix. They went to the staff in my office!)

I recently read this piece by Gale Gand in the Chicago Tribune. Turns out, even pastry chefs sometimes get birthday cake stage fright! Anyway, I'm not in any way a trained pastry chef, all I know about frosting cakes comes from trial and error. But she mentioned that it was important to chill the cakes - which I've never done before. It did seem to help but I didn't beat the chocolate frosting enough (or something) and it was stiff and hard to work with. I thought it was just me, until I realized that the vanilla frosting was delightfully spreadable. Oh and learn. It sure tasted yummy!

Came out kinda cool, didn't it? And it was delicious. One of the yummiest cakes I've ever made.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Secret Agent/Spy Party

For David' 8th birthday, he requested a spy party. I did a little research and came up with this secret agent/spy party.

Each secret agent was greeted by the Spymaster (AKA the Abba), and put their fingerprint and signature on an ID card created by the Ima. They got a notebook and pencil and lined up for some Secret Agent calisthenics and other spy warmup tricks.

We played a form of "pin the tail on the donkey" - each Secret Agent had to sign his or her name while blindfolded. Think David is cheating?

Secret Agents need to have good memories. They spent one full minute in absolute quiet (a miracle in itself) observing 30 small objects and then had a few minutes to write down what they could remember. They had a great time and took it really seriously!

The Spymaster read one story from Encyclopedia Brown, my favorite boy detective. You'd think this was a boring party trick but in fact, they were very into it!

We ended with a Disguise relay race. Every spy needs to be able to wear a good disguise. These spies had to put on a shirt, hat, and glasses and then pose for the camera - here's my 8-year-old Secret Agent...striking a pose!

Oh, and a really cool cake.
Stay tuned tomorrow to see the cool cake.

Planning parties is so much fun!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eight is GREAT!

When David was born, it was at that moment that I became a mother.

It's a little bit hard to believe that 8 years ago, I wasn't someone's ima! But

He started out like this (6 days old):
(this was originally a film print...oy, I feel old!) this....first birthday: (also film....) this 2 year old.... this 3 year old.... a 4 year old with super powers... a five year old... a six year old karate-doing, kindergarten-going, book-reading kid... a 7 year old, actual person who has likes, dislikes, and interests... this character of an 8 year old, who is full of opinions, a comedian-in-training, and the life of the party...

I can't believe that I'm the mother of an 8 year old!
He's a real person, he watches movies and tells stories, he reads books cover-to-cover and he plays video games. He always wants to do whatever's next, whatever he might finally be old enough for, but he also likes to watch Dora the Explorer with his little sister. He's in that not-a-baby but not-a-preteen, still a little kid but with the vocabulary of a middle-schooler. He slides on the floor whenever possible and never walks when he can run. He hasn't yet asked for his own cell phone but I can't believe the request is that far off (not that I'll grant it, mind you)....he's definitely growing up!

What a difference 8 years makes....

That last one is my Best Shot Monday, even though technically my dad took it.
I ordered the shot (nicely, of course).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Haveil Havalim #243: the NaBloPoMo Edition

(It could have been the hashtag edition, as in, the hashtags from the conventions like #urjbiennial and #ga09 but I decided to let that go...)

haveil havalim

I took a little heat for not giving the last edition that I hosted a number. It was totally inadvertent! I was in a big hurry and forgot to check the number. I won't make that mistake again!

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 please please publicize HH on your own blog and share the news about it!

Funny Things...good to start with a laugh

Conversations in Klal laughs at The Words We Use when talking about frum dating.

Benji Lovitt has new Israel tourist t-shirts to replace the old ones: It's Benji Lovitt's Funny Israeli T-Shirts! Take That, Dorky Ben-Yehuda Stores! 

Israel and the Jewish World

rutimizrachi offers fiction: End Of Days Scenario (from her son)
How to Be Israeli shares You are more Lebanese than you think... This post is the comments that a Jewish student studying in Beirut left on her blog -- Israeli and Lebanese cultures have a lot in common. She also offers up Aliyah after the honeymoon..., comparing aliyah to marriage.

Judaism and Torah

Schvach Yid wonders: Who cares if Mahmoud is Jewish?

N and aml wants to know: What did Avraham buy? 
Yechezkel shares some encoded words with Mitzvos Hatluyos BaAretz.

Miriam taught her triplets about Avraham Avenu and Sarah Imenu (and by the way, she's starting a new cooking carnival this Tuesday...)


Eliyahu Fink watched The Good Wife: Unorthodox, From a Rabbi / Law Student Perspective - great summary of why this episode needed a little patching up.

Isramom offers us Do you believe in miracles? - it's a wonderful Veteran's Day story.
Elms in the Yard was a film extra! Quiet on the Set! 
Chaviva presents Chavi Goes to the Beth Din: The First Meeting She says: "I share my experiences from going to the beth din for the first time. This was my first meeting with them, prior to mikvah and everything therein. Now I'm waiting on pins and needles to hear back from them." Good luck, Chavi!

me-ander shares The Latest in Home Renovations, which isn't about home renovations really, but about honoring parents.
The Home-Shuler put up a Jewish Mama Meme and some people responded like me, Miriam, Edible Torah, Ima Shalom, RonyPony, Sarah...anyone else?

The Creative Jewish Mom made these cool recycled coasters.
I went to the URJ Biennial and got famous.
Robin posted this gorgeous picture.

And the title - in case you're not following anyone who is participating in NaBloPoMo, November is National Blog Posting Month, a challenge to post daily throughout the month. I'm doing it, FrumeSarah is too. Marci is doing it and I know that Miriam is too. MomInIsrael and IlanaDavita were doing it too! Leora, are you doing it? I can't remember. Did I miss anyone? My apologies - let me know and I'll add you in. The hardest part of NaBloPoMo for me is that there are so many posts to read as well as writing one each day!

That's all for this week's Haveil Havalim! Please link up so lots of people can share the Haveil Havalim fun...

Who's next?

Friday, November 13, 2009

What I'm Reading Lately...

How to use Google Wave (anyone really get this stuff?)

Quiche in a Loaf

The Reason Social Media Matters for our Kids

S'mores Kits (I am the geekiest person cuz I bookmarked this with "mishloach manot")

What are you reading lately?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Jewish Mama Meme Maker

Oh thank you thank you, Home-shuler! I needed a post for today and yours is just perfect!

A Jewish Holiday Meme

One menorah, or several? Hillel or Shammai? (just kidding about that part)
We have several chanukiyot. It seems like every year the kids bring home one made from a block of wood and metal nuts. The candles don't fit into those metal things, honestly, people. I know they seem like a good idea. And then I have to figure it out for the whole week...cuz the kids really really want to use the ones they've made and how dare I pooh-pooh their bee-yoo-tee-ful creations!?

Do you buy your children gifts for every night of Chanukah?
We've decided not to give any gifts at all, beginning this year, for Chanukah. The kids will get gifts from grandparents and assorted other people. But not from us. We've decided to give all gifts at Purim instead. It's not only motivated by a desire to get out of the commercial ridiculousness of the season but also the reality that we have November and February birthdays. Enough is enough in gift-land!

Do you and your spouse/partner or any other adults in your life exchange gifts?
Not usually. I do have a birthday at the end of December and usually get a gift...

Special family chanukah traditions?
We eat latkes. We decorate the house. We set up a table in the living room with all the Chanukiyot. As the kids get older, I'm hopeful for some traditions that involve going out and doing for others. They go to bed awfully early now. We also take a "dreidel tag" which is a tradition at our congregation to buy gifts for kids in need through the Jewish Children's Bureau. I usually do a whole big Chanukah blog party too...giveaways and all that.

Latkes or sufganiyot? If latkes, sour cream or applesauce?
Both. Both. 
The more the better, I always say! Last year I made my own baked sufganiyot.  

Favorite chanukah book?
Potato Pancakes All Around by Marilyn Hirsh. I think it might be out of print but I love the peddler who teaches them to make potato latkes from a crust of bread. It's like a Chanukah stone soup!

Do you actually play dreidl? If so, what do you use for counters?
No, not really. But I vote for m-n-m's. Everything's better with m-n-m's.

What relationship, if any, do you have with Christmas and all things Christmas-y?

If you're reading, you're tagged!

Day 12 of NaBloPoMo and I haven't missed one yet!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Really <3 Hebrew School Teachers

Last week, I baked some amazing chocolate cookies for our Hebrew School teachers. They really are amazing people who put up with some crazy stuff in their classrooms.

I do like to lot. The teachers seem to be willing guinea pigs for my baking experiments.

So I just whipped these up for our teachers:

Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
adapted from the King Arthur Cookie Companion (which is seriously one of my favorite cookbooks)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter

2 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan. Make the crust: mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and butter. I mixed with my hands. Do not lose your rings by leaving them on the counter and sweeping them off into the sink. I'm just reminding you in case you might ever think to do something like this. Press into the bottom of the pan. If it's not smooth, spread some plastic wrap over the top and even it out with your hands or a small rolling pin (can of beans, BPA free please, works well.) Bake 12-15 minutes, until set. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes or until you're done making the filling

Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Correct Spanish homework while beating. Oh wait, that was just me. Gently beat in the vanilla and eggs. Spread over the crust. I used an offset spatula to make it all smooth and pretty.

Put the jam into a ziptop bag and squish it around to make it really spreadable. Snip off one corner and pipe lines of jam the length of the pan, I did three lines. Then use a knife to pull the jam from side to side through the cream cheese mixture to make a cool swirly effect. This was the reason I made the recipe, because I thought it looked so cool in the book. Hold up children who want to see what Ima's doing.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the filling is set. Middle will wobble slightly. Remove from oven, run a spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen and keep from cracking. Cool for 1 hour at room temperature and then refrigerate until chilled and firm. Then hide the whole pan away because you'll want to eat it all.


Thanks to my dad for the photography:-)
This is what works for me this Wednesday...see what works for other people...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monster Truck Cake

I always browse around to try and find great looking cakes. I've made a Ninja cake, blues clues cupcakes, lion cupcakes, tie-dye cupcakes (I get a lot of hits on this one, actually)...and a few miscellaneous chocolate frosted things.

I knew I could make a cake that looked like a monster truck.
Started with cake baked into two loaf pans, stacked up after cutting at an angle like a windshield.
(I use cake mix. Go ahead, flame away. Everyone's got their ability limit.)

Covered in bright yellow frosting. I use the frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Yum! (I'm not sure why, since we're not vegan. And I usually sub in butter for the vegan margarine. But it's a good and easy recipe.)

We needed to add some reinforcement to the body of the truck. My husband helped me stick two drinking straws through the cake. This helped hold it together after it started to collapse.

Chocolate-covered donuts served as the wheels. That was a huge hit. Everyone wanted to eat them along with the cake!

The finished product - a big hit!
Sam greeted each of his friends with "come see my truck cake!" which was enough for me!!!

Day 10 of NaBloPoMo, still going strong...I've gotten three days out of this one birthday!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monster Truck Monster Party

Sam really wanted a "monster truck" party for his birthday.

Let's go back a step...our approach to birthdays tends to be low-key but creative. I love to come up with a fun party idea that we can execute at home. We've done superheroes, ninjas, and legos. My kids get one invitee per year of age (a concept I think I'm about to regret with next week's 8-year-old party) and I try to do homemade cakes.

So we invited four friends (3 came, one was downed by the nasty cold bug going around). We planned a few games but the kids had so much fun just playing with all the monster trucks we'd collected that we almost ditched the games! But each time there was a little lull, we pulled them in to...

Hot Truck (a version of Hot Potato)

Pin the License Plate on the Monster Truck
(there's almost always a version of this old standby at our parties.)

We also colored a monster truck mural and offered some truck racing...
And of course, cake eating!

Can you see the cool placemat under his cake? I made these for each kid, personalized with a different truck picture and their name. They were a huge hit - the kids were so excited to take them home. We also gave each child a small monster truck as a "thank you for coming to my party" present. (That's what Sam called it.)

The whole party was set for one hour. The friends stayed a little longer because they were having so much fun playing.

Doesn't get much better than this!
(Come back tomorrow for cake pictures - the best part!)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This is your birthday song...

My second-born turned four today. It's hard to believe he's gone from this: this first birthday... this second birthday... this third birthday... this...fourth birthday...

My Sam is a very grown-up little four-year-old guy. He's full of opinions about what it means to be four. For example, today he told me that four-year-olds don't have to take naps. He protested right up until he dropped off to sleep midafternoon!

His birthday party? Monster trucks. Stay tuned for birthday party pictures.

Each year brings new blessings. May this one be no different.
Happy birthday, Sam!

NaBloPoMo Day 8 - how convenient of my children to have birthdays in November to give me material...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's Nearly Tomorrow

It's almost tomorrow but if I don't put this up, I'm skipping out on my NaBloPoMo challenge.'s a post.

Shavua tov!

Friday, November 6, 2009

URJ Biennial

I'm in the Toronto airport waiting for the flight that will carry me home to Chicago. I've been, for the last two days, a participant in the Union for Reform Judaism's Biennial convention.

Every other year, Reform Jews get together to celebrate Jewish life, to learn from each other and share music, worship, and companionship. It's a really wonderrful experience, with some of the finest musicians, teachers, speakers and programs.

Some of the highlights of my biennial experience:
- seeing my friends. For me, there's an element of reunion about the biennial. Nothing quite matches the hug you get from a friend you haven't seen in a year or two, and the delight at being surprised by someone you didn't know was coming!

- making new friends and connections. I exchanged a lot of business cards, shook a lot of hands. It was like Facebook in real life :) and I loved meeting friends of friends.

- putting faces to names, blogs, twitter handles. There are many people, particularly rabbis, cantors and teachers, among others, that I only know from their blogs or twitter feeds. How wonderful to meet and be together in real life - how delightful to make a "real" friend out of an online friend.

- the one large session I was there for was really great. Honorees were Dr. Avivah Zornberg, who taught marvelous Torah, and Harold Grinspoon, who has given so much to our camping movement. Dr Eboo Patel spoke and truly held the room, fascinates by his explanation of "theology of the bridge" - the idea that every religious tradition, at its heart, has respect for the humanity that God created. The evening ended with a performance by Josh Nelson and Craig Taubman....always wonderful and uplifting.

- my own session - I led, along with four others, a session on social media. Not a how-to session, but more a "why" and "what". I shared some of my own experiences with Twitter, Facebook, and this blog, and really felt that my words had relevance and resonance for the participants. It was fun, too! We had a large screen with a live twitterfeed following the hashtag #urjbiennial - fun to see live tweets coming from within the room.

And now I head home, the Biennial continues on with Shabbat and all the festive ways in which it's celebrated with 2000 of your closest friends. For me, a quieter Shabbat back in Chicago.

I feel that my cup has been filled up with the human connections, the hugs, the smiles of recognition and the new relationships formed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cookies for the Teacher

Last week, I substituted for one of our Hebrew School teachers.

I have been a Hebrew School teacher, of course. I don't do it regularly any more, since I do lots of other things during and for the Hebrew School. (We have a once a week after-school Hebrew program.)

I taught a group of 2nd graders who are just beginning their Hebrew education. One of them happened to oldest kid. Oh my goodness. That kid has got energy.

I have always held our Hebrew School teachers in high regard. I know that the kids come from a full day of school, they are sometimes less-than-enthusiastic about the whole endeavor, and it's just plain hard to teach a language in a once-a-week setting. But after filling in for one of them? Even higher. are the cookies that I brought in for our Hebrew teachers this week:

Yield: 24 cookies
  • 12 ounce(s) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 11 1/2 ounce(s) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 6 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup(s) sugar
  • 1/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 cup(s) chopped walnuts
In double boiler over hot water, melt bittersweet chocolate chips and butter. In large bowl with electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs and sugar until thick; stir into chocolate mixture. In small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. Using a sheet of plastic wrap, form dough into two logs, each 2 inches in diameter and about 12 inches long. As dough will be quite soft, use plastic wrap to hold dough in log shape. Wrap tightly; refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm. Heat oven to 375°F. Unwrap dough; with sharp knife, cut into 3/4-inch slices. Place slices 1 1/2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until shiny crust forms on top but interior is still soft. Cool on baking sheet; store in airtight tin up to 1 week.

Think they'll feel the love???

I hope so.

Day 4 of NaBloPoMo...wonder how many recipes I'll be posting this month!?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Photo Playtime for Ima

Have you ever played with Picnik?
It's really fun.
All sorts of cool effects.
Don't these look neat???

It's the 3rd day of NaBloPoMo and I'm still going strong. Guess I shouldn't rest on my laurels, huh?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cute and Sugared Up!

This week's Haveil Havalim is up over there.

I have definitely made my feelings about Halloween clear.

But I know that my kids really want to be a part of what's going on in the world around them. And, as I repeat yearly, if I just don't make a big deal of it, it will eventually go away. (Thank heavens.)

The only thing I like about Halloween is being able to take cute pictures of my kids in costumes!

So here are my little ghosties and goblins. Okay, actually, a dragon, a Dora the Explorer (but wearing a big fluffy white coat, I kept trying to convince her to be a polar bear - it was cold), and a ninja. We went to a friend's party and the kids collected just a little candy. They had more fun eating, cupcakes and, of course, chocolate!

(The ninja was busy running around with the big kids and didn't want to stop for too many pictures!)

This one is my favorite...she was so excited to eat the candy. I love this face that I captured:

Go see all the other great shots over at Tracey's Best Shot Monday.

Day 2 of NaBloPoMo and I haven't missed a day! Yay!