Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Chatzos Challenge in the Holy Land: Part 1—I need your help!

This just doesn't feel right. It is Wednesday (actually… Thursday in about 30 seconds) and I haven't done a Shabbos menu. I haven't even looked at the circulars! What is going on?! Oh yea. We are invited out for both meals. I am still in a little bit in shock—we rarely eat out for both meals on Shabbos. This little miracle couldn't have come at a better time—this is our last Shabbos at home before our big trip to Israel!

DH will be doing an away-elective at a clinic in Beit Shemesh and then we will spend Pesach with family. All in all, not a bad way to spend April! But before I can soak up the ruchnius in the Holy Land, I need to make it there. With two kids. And I need to make sure that my apartment is in some sort of shape to be left alone for a month. Needless to say, even my to-do lists have to-do lists at this point. Nothing is organized and I am feeling super overwhelmed at the prospect of the trip (not the "being in Israel" part, rather just the "getting to Israel" part).

I am enlisting you! Help me out! I am looking on information on:
  • Fun things to do with kids in and around Chashmoniam. Thanks to Houston Ima for a start on things to do in Jerusalem.
  • The best provider from which to rent a phone.
  • Where I can get a pack-n-play in or near Rechavia
  • How to keep a three year-old happy on such a long flight
  • Things I have to buy while I am there (um… like tiny tzitzis and kippahs)
Rather than cook tomorrow, I will be consolidating my lists into one really BIG list of things to do. I figure if I keep writing down all of the things I need to do, they will magically get done. That is the way it works, right??

Can't wait to start posting from Israel!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Post Purim Detox

Wow! Purim was fun! The Superfamily enjoyed seeing everyone and truly relished the day. Superman and Superbubbe flew all over the place with one another. Superbaby sucked on her fingers (a superpower SO top secret that even I, Supermommy, have no clue what it does). Clark Kent, aka Superdaddy, even had the afternoon off to spend with us! We were so excited to have the family time. But the best part about the whole thing: the Chatzos Challenge is starting to influence holidays outside of Shabbos! This year, costumes were ready (complete with custom bows for me and mini-me) and m'shaloch manos were mostly put together BEFORE Purim! That is a first in these parts! Even though being ready early help us all enjoy the day more, it did not help with the post-Purim detox.

Every year, I feel like I spend about a week getting back to baseline after Purim. All of the sugar, running around, sugar, dressing up, sugar, partying, and sugar throws me for a loop. When Purim is on a Sunday, like it was this year, I feel like the detox period extends past a week. Add in a nasty cold and the fact that we are leaving for Israel in about a week and a half, and, well, you can imagine how disoriented (um… hung over?) I am. This week, I am going to have to pare down my Shabbos prep to the bare essentials or else I will never make chatzos AND be ready to leave on our trip (laundry, hold the mail, clean out the fridge, clean the house, unplug appliances, pre-pay bills, pack… I could keep going). I am getting panicky just thinking about it. Maybe that is just the sugar wearing off.

Okay, let's regroup. Queen Lieberfolk, the very cute downstairs neighbor, has invited us to her for Shabbos lunch. Phew. That is one down. And I still have a few things in the freezer that I can put together for dinner. I will throw in some salads and we will be set. Repeat after me, folks, "It is going to be okay. We are going to make chatzos this week."

Whether we will make it to the plane with everything done? That is another story…

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Purim semach from Superfamily! Can't wait to share how we got ready for Purim early (sort of).

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Don’t forget to bring some light into the world

Don't forget to light tonight in the memory of the Fogel family. Already lighting? Maybe light a few minutes early, in their memory.
For candle lighting times in your area, click here. For more information about the spiritual side of candle lighting or how-to, visit

And we made it!

Maybe I should call this one, "How I got my groove back."

Table is set (complete with a special shout out to the birthday boy). Food is done. There are a few non-essentials left (and I have to pick up Superman's birthday cake!), but we are ready to light candles. Sigh. It feels good to be back in the swing of things.

The real question is this: since Bubbe is here and will play with anyone that doesn't want to take a nap, what should I do this afternoon? I think that a Mommy nap is in order.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Learned my Lesson

After spending most of last Thursday night in front of my computer, instead of in the kitchen, I resolved to get my cooking done BEFORE I did anything else this week. A tall order considering there are still parts of Purim costumes to make, mshaloch manos to put together and cards to create, birthday surprises to arrange, and a dining room table piled with at least a foot of junk to clean off. But I did it! I am done in the kitchen (mostly)! I need to bake my tri-colored gefilte fish once my corn kugel comes out, but everything else is done! My wonderful mother-in-law, Bubbe, even helped me do most of the dishes already!
This feels so much better than last week (at this point in the evening, I was thinking, "Well, it isn't THAT late yet. I will just go take a shower.").

What did I do differently? Instead of getting on my computer after the kids were in bed, I went straight to the kitchen and finished up the things I had been working on during naptime. I used that momentum to get everything else prepped and ready to go. I even found time to make another kugel—onion, this time, to utilize the AMAZING Texas sweet onions that seem to be on sale everywhere.

I learned my lesson. From now on, I will make like a Nike and JUST DO IT!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s SUPER SHABBOS MENU!

I bet you didn't know this, but DS is SUPERMAN. I may have broken some top secret superhero code by publishing that information, so please! Don't tell anyone!
Being that Shabbos is Superson's third birthday on the Jewish calendar and Purim is his third birthday on the English calendar, we thought that is would be nice if SUPERMAN was able to reveal his true identity on Purim. No need to be Clark Kent! Everyone will be dressed up and no one will know that he REALLY IS Superman. The rest of us will be Super, as well. Superbaby, Supermommy [not implying I am anywhere near it], and Super… oh wait… Daddy is going to be Clark Kent… all plan to make an appearance! Teddy, Superson's sidekick/bear/baby/best friend, is getting in on the action, too. He will be dressed as Jimmy Olsen.
I really don't know what is so SUPER about my Shabbos menu. It is mostly a repeat of last week—it is pretty easy to prepare and I am looking for redemption from my failure last week. There will be SUPERMAN cake—and that is SUPER!
Without further ado—*cue theme music* What is that over on my blog? Faster than a kugel is eaten on Friday afternoon! Able to finish cooking with hours to spare! It's a challah! It's a gefilte fish! IT'S SUPERSHABBOS MENU! Do-do-do-da-dooooooo-do-da-do. Do-do-da-do-do, do-da-DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
PS We are eating out for lunch. For dinner, we will be joined by Bubbe—all the way in from Denver! and some friends.
  • Challah—DONE
  • Hummus—EARLY TOMORROW— will make enough for SUPER M'SHALOCH MANOS (get it… a super food…)
  • Tri Colored Gefilte Fish—Kosher Delicious
  • Hot Dogs—Bet you didn't know that Hot Dogs are Superman's favorite food!
  • Onion Chicken—Quick & Kosher
  • Sweet Corn Pudding—I cut this recipe out from a coupon booklet in Dec… looks YUM. If it tastes good, I will post it.
  • Green beans w/ garlic
  • Caesar Salad—Quick & Kosher-- the jury is out if I am brave enough to try romaine again (after last week's infestation).
  • Supercake
So, clearly, I am already behind where I was this time last week. That means nothing, though. This week, I will do it!
Some of you are thinking, "Yeah, but what about your Purim seudah?" Well, we go to a massive party at the shul for the seudah every year. So what do I still have to do for the chag? Two capes, cards for my m'shaloch manos (tonight), and put them together (will have to do last minute because food is perishable). We are ALMOST ready!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Learning from losing

For the first time since I started my little experiment, I did not have Shabbos ready by chatzos on Friday.  In fact, I barely had Shabbos ready by candle lighting.  Now, I have had bad erev Shabbos experiences (think: stuck on a tarmac in BEAUMONT, Texas because there are storms around Houston and the plane couldn’t land… with only 3 hours until Shabbos, a 40 minute drive to make once I got to Houston, and some food to prepare once I got past the drive).  I can’t say that last week was like THAT.  It was pretty hair-raising, though. 
I won’t go into all of the gory details (kvetchy baby, messy kitchen, buggy romaine, oh my!), suffice to say, the stars were not aligned in my house and much that could have gone wrong, went wrong.  It was really a shame--things started out so good last week!  I had a few things done early.  I wasn’t planning a large crowd for either meal.  I was really making only one meal (and not a lot of fancy food, either).  I should have easily had Shabbos done by chatzos on Friday. 
SO WHAT HAPPENED??  How did I derail when I was doing so well?  How can I keep myself from making the same mistakes again? 
After some reflection, here is some wisdom that I garnered from my first chatzos defeat:  
ü  A journey of one thousand miles begins when you TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER, already!  A major part of my downfall was my failure to turn away from my computer on Thursday night.  I did not have that much to do!  I needed to just stand up and DO IT.  It is Facebook’s fault.  
ü  If not now, when?  I am still not clear what I was thinking, but I went to bed on Thursday night before I cleaned my kitchen from my cooking sprint.  I have never done that before.  Not even on a regular week night.  I woke up on Friday (late, mind you) and my kitchen was in no shape to make breakfast, let alone get ready for Shabbos.  Getting that room back in shape took a good hour while DS was at school.
ü  If not me, who?  B”H, I have a husband that likes to help get ready for Shabbos.  He sees bathing the kids as relaxing time.  He enjoys setting timers and the hot water urn ready.  But if he has worked a 30 hour shift, he is probably not the best person to rely on to get major things done on Friday. 
ü  Do not do today what can be saved for tomorrow night.  In other words, only do those things that MUST be done before candle lighting.  Everything else can wait until motzei Shabbos.  For example, folding the shmattas that are in the dryer (and have been there for at least a day) is probably NOT an efficient use of time when there are still salads to make, floors to clean, kids to bathe, dishwashers to empty and reload, ect.  Not that I would ever waste my time on Friday afternoon doing something so silly.    
I am going to take my new wisdom and make it happen.  I mean, I have a whole extra hour this week, right?  In the words of Bob the Builder, “Can we make chatzos?”   YES, WE CAN!
Sorry.  Sick kid means lots of Bob. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bring some light into the world

All of this news got you down?  Looking for a way to do something positive?  Want to bring some light into the world?  Join thousands of women as they light Shabbos candles in memory of the Fogel Family, this Shabbos, March 18. 
Visit the Facebook event dedicated getting as many women as possible involved in this mitzvah.
For candle lighting times in your area, click here.  For more information about the spiritual side of candle lighting or how-to, visit

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tsunamis and Terror

I would really like to write a post about winning and losing the Chatzos Challenge.   I have the whole post planned in my head.  But I feel like I would be remiss if I ignored everything that has happened in the world since we woke up on Friday morning. 
The gravity of the situation in Japan is striking.  Even before we heard the news about the partial meltdown at the nuclear power facilities—and before we saw the videos of the tremendous devastation—we heard that this earthquake/tsunami may have taken the lives of tens of thousands. There, in a first-world-developed country, tens of thousands of people were killed?  By a natural disaster?  That sort of thing is not supposed to happen in first-world-developed country. 
And then, as if our minds were not reeling enough, motzei Shabbos, we turned on our phones and our computers, to hear about the horrific murder of five members of the Fogel Family in Itamar, Israel.  I learned the news while I was scrolling though Facebook updates on my phone.  “Three year-old stabbed in heart, baby’s throat slashed.”  That was enough of a headline to make me burst into tears.  I couldn’t read the story.  I couldn’t read that there was another child, 11, murdered.  I couldn’t read that the parents were murdered.  I couldn’t read that the oldest daughter (only 12?!?) found her family.  I couldn’t read anymore.  Just that headline was enough to keep me from sleeping last night.   
Many of us look for ways to distance ourselves from the horror of tragedy.  This is a natural defense mechanism.  When the Indonesian Tsunami of 2005 hit, for example, many of us were moved to tears, we contributed to the cause, we felt the pain, but in the back of our heads, we were saying, “That could never happen here.  All of those Indonesian islands are developing.  They don’t have warning systems.  They don’t have technology.  They are not us.”  I think the psychologists call this bargaining.  When you separated yourself from the bad, the bad is more bearable.  I guess this is how we find solace.
But in the story unfolding in Japan, and so much more so in the story of the Fogel family, hit too close to home.  Japan is a country like our country.  They have the conveniences that we have.  They have the technology to warn.  But warning is not prevention—and it could happen here, too.  That is scary.  That makes you stop short and re-evaluate. 
And if we distance ourselves as a method of emotional self-preservation, how do we distance ourselves when we hear about a family—for me, a family very similar to my own and living the life that my husband and I hope to live in our own land-- is brutally murdered, on Shabbos?  How do we cope when that could have just as easily been us?  My first reaction was to check on my own baby and three year-old.  To kiss them.  To say a prayer over them.  Past that, I don’t know.  There just aren’t words. 
This week, we are going to be rushing around getting ready for Purim.  We will get dressed up in our costumes as a reminder that Hashem works in hidden ways.  We will read Megillas Esther and be reminded that even though He works through man, at the end of the day, the King is in charge. We will be reminded that nothing is coincidence.  In fact, the letters in the Hebrew word mikreh—coincidence—can be rearranged to spell rak m’hashem—only from Hashem.  These two tragedies occurred—and so close to one another—and so close to Purim-- for a reason.  And I don’t have the slightest clue what it is. 
I do know that we have an opportunity to see beyond the politics and the headlines (or lack thereof) to the people in the midst of these horrendous events.  We may feel hopeless to help physically, but we can always say, “Hashem, yerachem,” hug and kiss our families, and do a chesed in the merit of the victims.  Maybe we can even find comfort in the fact that this, too, is from Hashem.        

Friday, March 11, 2011

You win some, you lose some

I guess we can't make it every week.  I have about an hour and fifteen minutes until chatzos-- with about 3 hours worth of things to get done.  The good news is that I learned a lot of things from this failure (and I still have some time to learn some more).  I will share with you later today-- um-- no-- Sunday.  Sigh.  No writing until Shabbos is done! 

Good Shabbos, everyone!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Busy Busy Busy Getting Ready

Shabbos is REALLY REALLY almost here!  Yippee! 

I have a few things left to cook and a few hundred things to do around the house tonight.  Good thing DH is on call.  If I work hard and don't spend too much time distracted by the computer, I think I will be in good shape.

How is your shabbos preparation going?  Any one else in for a long night?

First course is done!

I feel good about my start this week!  I am done with everything for my first course, plus I made some of Kosher on a Budget's amazing homemade salsa (that we just can't stop eating) and a massive amount of apple sauce (handmashed for dessert and pureed for the baby).  Not a bad start.  I think this week is going to be a breeze.

The real challenge is going to be keeping myself from inhaling all of the apple sauce before Shabbos.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stockpiling and Pesach Cleaning: A menu to clear out the house

Cheerios cereal

There is an amazing sale on Cheerios (of all shapes and sizes... Honey Nut, Cinnamon Burst, all of it) at Randalls this week.  This is the type of sale that would have me running to the store and buying as any boxes as I had coupons.  It is the type of sale that would have DH asking, "Um.  Why do we need so much cereal?"  It is the type of sale that would supply my family with Cheerios for the next 3 or 4 months.  As I was circling the ad with my red Sharpie, something occurred to me: Purim is only a week and a half away.  That means that Pesach is only 6 weeks away.  That means that I SHOULD NOT be buying 4 month's worth of Cheerios. 

It also means that I should not be making and freezing for another Shabbos.  Time to start clearing out what we have! 

"Wait!" some of you (that know me well and know my plans) are saying, "Aren't you going to Israel for Pesach?!?"  Hehehe.  Yes, I am.  No cleaning.  No cooking.  A full month in Israel.  I am overjoyed.  BUT I AM LEAVING THE WEEK AFTER PURIM!  AHHH!  Before I go, I need to get everything out of the fridge and, possibly the freezer, as well.*  So, right as I was getting the hang of this "make it early and freeze it" thing, it is time to cook with what we have on hand.  The next three weeks will be "clean out my pantry and fridge" menus.

Here it goes (one menu, two meals):

Challah-- DONE
Tricolor Gefilte Fish-- Kosher Delights-- TONIGHT
Onion Chicken-- Quick & Kosher-- PREP TONIGHT
Roasted Root Veggies w/ Rosemary
Broc Slaw-- Kosher By Design-- the pink one, I think
Caesar Salad-- Quick & Kosher
Quinoa Salad
Apple Pie, deconstructed-- This sounds fancy, but it is just homemade apple sauce, pastry shells, and soy ice cream

Next week: cheerio crusted chicken! 

*There are all sorts of technicalities here that I am not going to get into re: cleaning for Pesach, selling chametz, selling apartments where chametz is located so you [read: I] don't have to clean.  If you are interested, check out's Pesach guide.

Achieving--and Maintaining--Equilibrium, Part 2: The Art of No

Why do I feel the need to write about this?  Three or four different things have come up over the last few days that have accented the difficulty most of us have finding a balance.  These things got me thinking: do I feel balanced?  Is chatzos helping?  Please don't read that there is one way to feel balanced.  I acknowledge that everyone deals with their circumstances individually.  This is what things looks like in my life.

Yesterday, I wrote about feeling a need to achieve equilibrium in my life.  I said that I felt like I had achieved some sort of equilibrium.  Funny.  It looks nothing like what I expected.

I expected to see myself relaxing, naturally in downward facing dog, with my 7 month old balanced delicately on my back; my husband and my 3 year old mimicking the position next to me.  In this perfectly balanced world, we are posed on top of a mountain and the world is silent.  I feel calm just thinking about it.

But, alas, that is not my reality of balance.  At some point after DS was born, I realized that I would never achieve any sort of equilibrium (zen like yoga bliss or otherwise) unless I seriously pared down my obligations.  I made a list of my priorities and started cutting from the bottom of the list.  So, while I loved dragging out our TV (it was hiding in a closet at that point) to watch Grey's Anatomy on Thursday night, that obligation was detracting from limited time I had with my husband.  Bye-bye Grey's.  And so on, up the list.

I learned something very important about myself-- while some people may thrive on extra obligations, I do not.  In fact, I dread them.  The more I cut, the better I felt. 

Cutting obligations was tough-- especially as I got to chesedim that I was involved with or learning that I was doing.  I learned, though, that paring down wasn't the most difficult part of achieving balance.  The most difficult part is not taking on me obligations to replace the space that I just created.  Which left me with a question: if it felt so great to make cuts in my obligations, why would I ever entertain taking on new things after I spent all of that effort eliminating?  Simple.  I didn't know how to say no. 

I am still learning the art of no.  I got very good advice from a variety of people.  Queen Lieberfolk downstairs gave me a great article with 5 steps to no.  I taped it above my kitchen sink so that I see it all of the time.  A few of the steps really resonated with me:
  • If you dread it before you say yes, say no.  No matter the circumstances.  Taking on any obligation (for me it is anything outside of my family time because that is all I can handle) is draining.  If you dread the obligation before you even say yes, it is a sure bet that you will lose your balance.
  • There is no need for excuses.  I think that many of us feel the need to justify our "no". "I can't because my son's birthday is soon and my mother-in-law is coming and I am leaving the country in a few weeks and my husband works ALL OF THE TIME and I am hardly holding it together and just thinking about taking on something else may throw me over the edge..." is really not necessary.  This one is very hard for me-- I am saying no because I have found that having nothing extra on my plate suits me well.  I have found a good balance with a clear plate.  Not that I am calm all of the time, but I can manage without major freak outs.  Another friend helped me overcome the urge to make excuses-- a script: "I am sorry.  I would love to help, but I am involved in another chesed right now."  No more is really necessary. 
"No" has allowed me to say "yes" to a lot of different things I wouldn't have been able to do before.  For example, this chatzos experiment.  By not taking on extra things, I am able to work on shabbos all week.  I am able to have more guests and be more present for my guests.

I would love to say that my equilibrium allows me to float through my world with calm and grace.  I just don't think that is possible for me.  What my equilibrium has done is allow me to enjoy my top priorities and focus all of my energy where it matters the most to me. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Achieving--and Maintaining--Equilibrium, Part 1

Why do I feel the need to write about this?  Three or four different things have come up over the last few days that have accented the difficulty most of us have finding a balance.  These things got me thinking: do I feel balanced?  Is chatzos helping?  Please don't read that there is one way to feel balanced.  I acknowledge that everyone deals with their circumstances individually.  This is what things looks like in my life.

I know that the current term is "work-life balance", but I think that even those of us that chose to not work face balance issues.  When I say, "equilibrium", I am really referring to feeling like one is fully present and engaged in each of one's commitments-- no one thing is taking away from another.

I feel like I have been fighting a battle to achieve equilibrium for the majority of my life.  I am sure that if I asked the 16 year-old me what her major concern was, she would say, "How do I do everything that I want to do AND still have time to study so that I can get into a good college AND have time to work so that I can buy myself a car?" 

As I got older, the more difficult it seemed to achieve equilibrium.  Don't even ask if I felt "balanced" in law school.  And if you knew me then, I would prefer you keep to yourself your comments about the level of UNbalanced-ness that existed in my life. 

Later, after I was married and after DS was born, finding that state of Zen-- where I could be a perfect and present mother, an understanding and supportive wife, and a productive and enthusiastic employee-- seemed virtually impossible.  If I was doing well with one thing, another thing suffered.  Every working mommy knows this: You can't do it all.  At some point, something has got to give.  For me, this struggle was very difficult to overcome.  I hate not being GREAT at everything.  It ripped me apart to not be fully present for my son.  Likewise, I felt guilty about not being fully present for my job.  Sure, being a mom is very stressful and working under a quota is very stressful.  Sure, together the two are mind boggling.  For me, though, the struggle to do both well caused me just as much stress as the pressure from any one of my roles.

One of the reasons that I chose to stay home after DD was born (despite going from having a comfortable margin to being B.R.O.K.E.) is that I was just tired of the struggle to achieve equilibrium.  "Is this what life is about?" I thought, "Constantly feeling guilty that you aren't giving 100% to any of your commitments?"  For me, the answer was, "No."  One of my goals as a SAHM is to show my kids that equilibrium can exist.  To do that, though, I would have to find my own equilibrium!  Not an easy task, even without the stress of a job.

This is one of the reasons that the Chatzos Challenge resonated with me.  My family would see me working, a little bit each day, toward a goal and would never see me out of balance trying to get it all done in one day.  This is the role modeling I would love for them to have. 

Have I achieved equilibrium?  I think, yes.  Is it ALL from Chatzos?  Definitely not.  It has helped-- especially my experience last week-- more to come on this success--but so many other steps have really put me in a place where I can say, "Yes. I feel balanced."  

How did I get to this point?  How will I maintain balance?  I will try to visit this later in the week.

What do you do to feel balanced? 

Friday, March 4, 2011

A few last minute things to do

But we are all set!

I decided to borrow a kiddy table. It will be super cute (complete with kiddush cups and challah set up), but will have to wait for tomorrow. :)
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

It didn't yell at me

It just fell apart. Sigh.
Note to self: more cake on bottom layer!
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This is what happens when I have extra time

I don't bake. Until recently, Shabbos dessert at my house was either (1) brought by guests or (2) bought. When I "retired"-- and my budget shrank-- store bought was no longer an option. I discovered that Duncan Hines could turn into almost ANYTHING. Usually, I just make brownies or cupcakes or pistachio chocolate chip cake.

But tonight? Well, I have all this extra time since everything came out of my freezer. I should have set the table. I should have gone to bed early. I should have done anything else. What did I do? I turned into the Swedish Chef and BAKED A CAKE! Cherry chocolate cake, to be exact. If this works, I am going to be a chatzos convert forever-- it will be evidence that chatzos really does work miracles! And if it doesn't work? Well, I guess I will just set the table next time.

I am afraid to cut into it. It may yell at me.

Love it!

Just pulled my prepared deli roll out, put on an egg wash, and put it in the oven.  I am excited to see how this works out!

The "we really need to get you a freezer" menu

My wonderful husband called me from the hospital tonight.

"Guess what?!" Cheerful husband?  On call?  What is wrong?

"What?" Apprehensive about the cheerfulness.

"Favorite Friend is in from Israel!  If I invite him for lunch, will that be too much for you?"

This is why I love my husband.  We really aren't having so many people for lunch.  And this person is a very special friend (that never comes to visit).  Even if it were a lot, I would insist on having him.  But DH will always make sure that it won't be too much.  Now you know why I am putting up with residency.  And it gets better:

"No worries.  Everything is basically made-- just needs to go in the oven straight from the freezer."  I detailed my plans for this Shabbos. 

"Wow.  We really need to get you a real freezer."  Sigh.  I feel understood!  I feel validated!  I feel like I am going to get a freezer!

And so we have the "we really need to get you a freezer" Shabbos menu.  This menu, if successful, will prove that a freezer will be a wise investment-- saving my sanity, making this experiment doable, solving the debt crisis, and achieving world peace. 

We will be having dinner at shul.  For lunch, we will be around 8 and 2 3-year olds.  The menu is pretty standard Shabbos fare, but I am not REALLY making anything.  To quote DS's wonderful teacher, "You are cheating."  Maybe.  But I will be so chilled out doing it, that I really won't care. 

Here it goes (and yeah, there is a lot of food.  I am sure some will be cut.):

  • Challah-- DONE
    •  Queen Lieberfolk (the best downstairs neighbor ever) is donating challah her mother in law made while here post-baby
  • Gefilte Fish
  • Hummus
  • Guacamole-- DONE
  • Egg Salad
  • -----
  • Cholent-- throw together before school on Friday. 
    • Debating whether I should put a kishka in.
    • I know I said I don't do cholent after January, but I need to make DD some more baby food and she LOVES the stuff.
  • Deli Roll-- DONE-- Assembled and ready to bake straight from freezer
  • Broccoli Kugel--DONE-- Prepped and ready to bake straight from freezer
    • From Spice & Spirit-- Broccoli Kugel #2 with fried onions on top
  • Lieberkugel--DONE
    • Queen Lieberfolk's MIL was VERY busy cooking when she was here.  They have a lot of potato kugel to eat before Pesach.  Glad to help with the effort (especially because this is VERY SPECIAL potato kugel).
  • Broccoli Salad
  • Corn & avocado salad
    • From Quick & Kosher-- the one with the ume vinegar
Brownies with berries and whipped cream

We are going to have a great crowd this week.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

National Day of Unplugging is this Saturday!

So, you are reading my blog (thanks!) and you are thinking, "Wow!  All of this Shabbos stuff sounds great!  A day to recharge and spend real quality time with those I care about is just what I need! BUT..."  But you aren't religious.  But you aren't Jewish.  But you like to watch sports.  But you have to do your errands for the week.

Enter The Sabbath Manifesto.  It is a "creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world."  Basically, the creators are a group of artsy folk (not religious, mind you) who wanted to find a way to just slow down. 

Do you feel ready to slow down?  This Saturday, March 4 is the National Day of Unplugging.  The Sabbath Manifesto challenges you to turn off your technology from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.  Visit their website to sign up to unplug.

If you aren't sure how to start the "unpluggedness", The Sabbath Manifesto created 10 Principles for slowing down one day a week:
  1. Avoid technology.
  2. Connect with loved ones.
  3. Nurture your health.
  4. Get outside.
  5. Avoid commerce.
  6. Light candles.
  7. Drink wine.
  8. Eat bread.
  9. Find silence.
  10. Give back.
Start with the first principle this week: avoid technology for one whole day.  You will be amazed how great it feels to have a real conversation with the interruption of the cell phone, Twitter, Facebook, texts, EVERYTHING. 

P.S.  Feeling even more adventurous?  This week is ALSO Shabbat Across America.  Join a shul in your area for a Friday night meal and more.  In Houston?  Join us at Meyerland Minyan

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Working towards Shabbos, outside of the kitchen

It looks like this is going to be a simple Shabbos week.  Thanks to Shabbat Across America (that was more singing), we will be having dinner at the shul (it sounds like we may be hosting a table, as well... so if you sign up, ask to join our table).  We are having guests for lunch, but my modest experiments in all things freezer have left me with a big jump start on that meal.  I am left thinking: is there Shabbos prep outside of the kitchen?

Now, in my perfect world (the one where my son still naps and residency is a 9-5 job), I would have my floors scrubbed, bed linens changed, carpets vacuumed, laundry done, bathrooms spotless, and furniture dusted l'cvod shabbos.  Chatzos or not, that is just not happening in my house.  On a good week, one or two of those things will happen on Friday morning.  On a REALLY good week (like last week, thank you, DH!), we have the cleaning lady come and the house is AMAZING.  I am making so much progress toward having the essentials (um...hello!  food!) done early-- what can I do to make some progress on the state of my house?

In the past, I have made a cleaning schedule.  I can't take credit for the schedule, it is really a relic from my amazing-oh-how-do-I-miss-her-at-least-for-keeping-my-house-in-order nanny (she was amazing with DS, too, of course.  I don't miss her for that part of her job, though).  On Monday, she would do the laundry.  The floors on Tuesday.  Wednesday was the bathrooms and the linens on Thursday.  When I "retired" after DD was born (only 6 months ago, so I am still adjusting), I tried to keep up her schedule.  It worked.  Kind of.  Things slip.  Some weeks (when DH is on call a lot), nothing gets done.  Other weeks, I do just the laundry and the bathrooms.  The floors NEVER happen.  All of that was before my chatzos challenge.  Now, I can call the cleaning "a step toward shabbos"-- maybe that will help me get it done.

Today, I did the laundry (including shabbos clothes)-- l'cvod Shabbos, and confirmed my guests.  That was a big step!  Maybe tomorrow the bathrooms?