Friday, October 31, 2014

Food Friday–Halloween Edition

My oldest turned twenty six today.


I am hosting Shabbat/Birthday dinner for her and for some of her friends.


She chose the menu. It’s a Caveman Shabbat. I made beef flanken ribs in a  smoky pomegranate mustard marinade.



As per her request I also made jerk chicken wings.

She requested pumpkin pie. I obliged.

The pie is being topped with maple-pecan  non dairy ice cream which is being made as I type.

Inspired by my friend Iscah, rabbi educator and artist who sculpts her challot into fanciful shapes including pigs, I made pumpkin shaped challot.

Here they are before baking


And now, after..


And here is my daughter on her first birthday.

Dena 1st bday (1)

She’s even cuter now.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Barukh Dayan Ha Emet

When I gave birth to my oldest there was a bunch of us all having babies at the same time. Some of the group were first time mothers, like me.


Most of the group were pregnant their second child. One of the great thing about having your first while hanging around with more experienced mothers is that you learn how to be a mother from some really good teachers.

One of the women in that group was Susan.  Susan is the sort of person who was Color War captain in summer camp. She’s enthusiastic,  she is a trooper. SAM_3307

Susan and Michael’s first child, Eric had  a rare blood disorder that made him often very, very sick. Their second child Rebecca was just younger than my daughter. The two girls used to hang out together in synagogue, as did that whole batch of babies until Susan and Michael moved to the burbs.SAM_3309

When my oldest was quite small, Susan told me that when Eric was small she took him to the park every day. He was so sick that he couldn’t get out of the stroller to play like the other kids. So every day Eric would come home from the park perfectly clean. Day after day Eric sat in the stroller and watched the other kids play. SAM_3310

Susan  said that the first day Eric came home dirty she was so happy, because that meant that he was healthy enough to play like the other kids. When Susan told me this story my oldest was too little to get dirty in the playground. But I thought about the gift of getting dirty, and all that it means to have a child who is healthy enough to get  dirty.


So from then on, whenever I would leave any of my kids I would say to them “Have fun, play hard and get dirty.” This was our going away mantra. My oldest said it to me when I went to give birth to her brother. I said “ Have fun play hard and get dirty.” when  they went to day care, when they went to school and to summer camp.  SAM_3312

Every once in a while we would see Eric and his family. Sometimes his face was swollen from medications. Sometimes we heard news that things were grave in deed. But we also heard that Eric went to summer camp. We heard that his bar mitzvah was  incredible, because it was a miracle that he lived to see that day.

We saw Eric during his time in college. Eric had a job. There were times that he was sick, and times that he wasn’t sick.


Yesterday I ran into one of the women who was part of that group that was pregnant together twenty six years ago. She told me that Eric died last week. He was thirty years old.

Clearly each day Eric lived past babyhood was a miracle. But I also know that each day that he is no longer alive is just such a heart break.


ברוך דין האמת

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Long Haul

Yesterday I was working on the dress that I’m wearing to the wedding. But one can’t attend a wedding without a gift.


I gave the bride and groom the option of either something off their gift registry or I could make them something.  they opted for the made rather than purchased gift. It was a smart choice.


The text is familiar to anyone who goes to synagogue on Friday night, it’s

Lecha Dodi likrat kallah

p’nai Shabbat nikabla

Come my beloved to greet the bride

we will welcome the presence of the Sabbath


I painted the letters on the linen damask. And then I did a crazy thing. I chain stitched all of the painted letters.


I do not suggest doing this unless you really love the recipients. You may think about chain stitching all of the letters if you were paid handsomely by the hour. Otherwise it’s a really dumb thing to do. I do love both the bride and the groom.I listened to a whole lot of episodes of the Moth Radio Hour and This American Life as I worked.


I know that the bride loves these colors. I still need to do the borders which will also be gold and white or gold and cream.

This took a long time so you have to look at a whole lot of pictures.


Today I also delivered a gift.  This is the card that I made to go with the gift.

I’m pleased because drawing has been a slow to develop skill for me.


This just goes to show you that if you work hard enough at something eventually you get better at it.


A few weeks ago my daughter was talking to me about crocheting. I had taught her several years ago. My daughter is a lefty, so I showed her what I do and let her hands figure it out in a way that was comfortable for her. She just completed a blanket and I told my daughter how nice I thought her work was.  I suggested that she might try to learn how to knit.


My daughter said that she had tried a couple of times and just couldn’t get the hang of it. I told her how it took me ten years to figure out how to figure out how to crochet. It took me another ten years to figure out how to knit.  I explained to her that I am actually naturally terrible at hand work.


I was however, persistent.I was ready to keep experimenting and keep failing until I was no longer terrible. ( This is why I get cranky when people tell me that I must be naturally talented at hand work, I’m actually naturally terrible at it.) I think my daughter may try knitting again at some point.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Currently on my plate

My cousin is getting married in a week and a half. It’s a black tie event. The bride comes from the land of sparkle, Long Island.


Several months ago my youngest was looking over my shoulder as I was internet fabric shopping. This sequin encrusted fabric was on sale. I was on the fence about buying it.


My son strongly encouraged me to buy it.


I have had this fabric sitting in a bag on the shelf for months but I haven’t done a thing about making the dress. I had been mentally designing this dress, thinking about and discarding a variety of options.

Because this fabric is sheet I decided to layer it over a tan scuba knit.


I know it’s a boring color but it’s meant to be that way. The fabric has so much going on.


After a whole bunch of dithering, I decided on the dress design.



It’s a really simple off the shoulder column dress. I have often mistakenly cut the necks of my dresses too wide and have inadvertently ended up with an off the shoulder dress. I sewed up the scuba fabric lining and my husband liked the shape of the dress and liked the off the shoulder neckline on me.  The fabric is so busy that I figured that the simpler the better in terms of design. You can’t get too much simpler in terms of silhouette.


If I had been smarter I would have ordered more fabric. But I’m not smarter, so I have had to resort to come creative cutting. The dress back is seamed, partially to create a bit of shape and mostly so I will be able to eke out enough  of the sequin fabric.


All of the beige scuba is cut out and two thirds of the sequined fabric is cut and edge stitched to the scuba lining.  My dining room looks like it has snowed sequins.



Hopefully I will get the dress completed by the end of this week.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Food Friday-

When I graduated from college I moved to New York. My first full-time job was at the 92nd Street Y. When I say full time, that isn’t quite correct. I had a buffet of part time jobs at the Y that allowed me to put a roof over my head.  I loved the variety in my work week. I think that the book keepers at the Y must have hated me because I was working at so many different pay scales all at the same time.

One of my jobs was running an every day after-school group for kids ages 3-6.  Tonight one of my favorite kids from that group is coming for dinner. I haven’t seen him since he was 5.

This is what we will be eating tonight. we hare having pomegranate chicken.


I cooked the chicken with freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice and then topped the whole thing with pomegranate molasses. I added the pomegranate seeds  and they will soften when the chicken is reheated.

We are also eating curried rice with mushrooms and apricots.



For dessert I made a cranberry and apple pie in an oatmeal/almond crust.


All of this was cooked in my now, working oven. I love having an oven that works.

Don’t worry, I do plan to make a green salad.


Shabbat Shalom!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yet Another Hunchback Dress

I get that for most of the world’s population the next sentence  sounds whiny and spoiled.  Today was the first day since Yom Kippur that we have had phone and internet, a working oven and heat all at the same time.

I am really happy to have all of my first world pleasures.

I have also been doing lots of work on a piece that involves lots of hand embroidery. Yes, I will post pictures, but not today.

Doing so much slow work gets me itchy to make a fast garment.


I had purchased this bright drapey sweater knit at Fabric Mart. I had purchased this fabric in a different fun print and had made something I love. But the cold weather made me want a sweater dress.


I made another hunchback dress mostly because they are so simple to make.


This is what the dress looked like cut out , before I sewed up the seams. This time I remembered to make sure that it was wide enough. I remembered before cutting that a knit  on the bias has less stretch than it does going crosswise. I would be lying if I told you that I came up with an actual algorithm about how much larger I should cut along the bias. I went with bigger than the dress I was using as my sort of pattern.


I stitched up the seams on my serger and rough finished the hems on the serger as well. I may turn the hems tomorrow.

A  few minutes later I had this.


Some of the dresses that I make look better on the dummy than they do on me. This is not the case here.SAM_3258


This dress is crazy flattering on my highly imperfect body. It’s knee length. I love how a dress that looks so wrong laid out on the floor can look so good on an actual human being.SAM_3259


I’m glad to be back in the first world again.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Water Towers

I had taken these photos during the time that our internet was on the fritz.  When I began my morning workout the sky was an amazing grey.

During the 90 minutes of my work out the sky entirely changed. My windows face west.SAM_3151

The brick reflects the early morning light in a really cool way.