Monday, December 31, 2012

Sock Matching Game

I was dreading putting away the laundry. Ari, Samara and I were downstairs at my parent's place. My mom turned to me in the middle of my laundry existential crisis and said "I have this bunch of socks that I can't find any matches for. Can you see if any oft socks are in your laundry?" With that she handed me a group of colorful socks. Some had stripes, others were sparkly. Without thinking, I said to Ari:
"Come on Ari, let's go upstairs and take a nap, and when you wake up, we'll play
a matching game with socks!" His face lit up. He was excited now.

My mom and dad howled with laughter.

Ari took a nap immediately upon entering our apartment. When he woke up he'd forgotten all about the sock matching game that I'd planned.

"I want to watch something!" He whined.
"No! It's time to play the matching game with socks! Can you find any of grandma's socks in here?"
I started pulling out things that weren't socks; towels, his pants, sweatshirts.
"Are these socks?"
"No!" He said laughing.
"Go put these away and when you come back there will be some socks to match."
I gave Ari some of his pants to put in his
drawer. When he returned I'd pulled out a bunch of socks for him to match.
"Okay! Is there a match here?"
"Yes!" He said triumphantly pulling out two purple and blue striped socks.
We took turns finding matches. And in between, I sent him to put away his other clothes. It was a fun game for me too. And it made laundry feel less boring.

Needless to say, we didn't find any of grandma's sparkly socks. But we did have a lot of fun!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Out of The Ground

I'm digging in the dirt, trying to find it.
I'm covered in mud. It rained. I'm saturated.
I can find it.
If I look hard enough.
I'm going to keep digging. It's there.
My fingers are raw from digging, I can feel the dirt seep into my pores.
The hole is getting bigger.
A hand touches my shoulder, I can feel the warmth, the energy from that hand, that touch. It's going to be okay.
It dark.
It's cold.
But that hand assures me that I'm going to find what I need to find.
The hole is bigger.
There's something there.
I know it.
I see a spark.
It's glistening...
Underneath the dirt, it's there.
Tears form in my eyes. I'm not sad.
I'm elated.
I found it.
It was there all along. Bright white, sparkling in the ground. I brush the dirt away. It's been there all along.
I finally found it.
I reach down and grab it. It's white sparkling, and it's mine.
It was missing for all these years, and here it is.
I'm complete.
I'm whole.
I'm out of the ground and on the earth.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life at SOPAC!

Over the weekend, I took my dad to see one of his favorites,  It's a Wonderful Life  at SOPAC (South Orange Performing Arts Center) I was able to attend this wonderful performance thanks to the lovely ladies at MamaDrama*

My dad and I hopped on New Jersey transit, and were surprised at how quickly (40 minutes later) we arrived in South Orange!



This was a radio play, which meant that all the actors spoke into old fashioned microphones and there were sound effects used to mimic actions, such as doors opening and closing, footsteps, and money counting, to name a few.


I grew up watching It's a Wonderful Life as a child, because it was one of my father's favorite films.

The message of the story came through in this radio play performance, just as it does in the film.
It's a Wonderful Life shows us that no matter what's happening in your life, you're here for a reason.
Without your presence on this earth, others are effected.

Your life is meaningful, even if there's tragedy, even if there's loss, you are here. Enjoy the gifts that have been given to you.

Each time I watch this story unfold of George wishing he'd never been born, and then seeing meaning in his life, I'm touched over and over again.

Here's Jeff Fader to tell you more:



SOPAC did a lovely job at portraying the characters in the story. What I particularly loved was how the actors were assigned multiple roles. For example the same actress that played Violet also played little Zuzu.

If you've never seen this film, stop what you're doing, find a copy of it, and watch it.

It's a Wonderful Life will show you that you have everything you need right in front of you.

Also, check out SOPAC! They have some wonderful performances for adults and kids!

*Thank you to the wonderful Erin at MamaDrama for providing us tickets to see one of my father's favorites!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Holiday Feelings

Ever since I was a kid, I've always felt the same way about the holidays commencing after Thanksgiving and terminating December 31: overwhelmed.

I can recall feeling the panic rising in me,  thinking about gift giving, social events, having to attend various family functions and pretend to be excited when all I wanted to do was hide under my bed.

The holidays are a lot of hype for me.

I get anxious.

I start feeling like if things don't go a "certain way" then something is wrong.

It's hard for me to enjoy them.

I kind of wish that it was just another day.

The thing is, even if you don't celebrate Christmas (and my family is Jewish so we didn't have that tradition growing up) you're surrounded by Christmas mania. You walk into Duane Reade and there's copious amounts of Santa Claus paraphernalia staring you in the face.

After November 26, you cannot escape the societal circus that is Christmas.

Wil and I are an interfaith couple. He was raised Catholic, and I was raised Jewish. Therefore our kids receive presents for both Chanukah and Christmas.

Ari is old enough to understand that this time of the year is associated with receiving presents. I want him to appreciate what he has and (most importantly) I would like him to be grateful.

I also want to introduce the notion of charity. I want Ari to understand that not all children are receiving presents at this time of year. Not all children in the world are fortunate enough that their parents can afford to buy them toys at all.

I had this idea.
I wanted him to be able to volunteer at a place where he could see what it's like to not have, like a soup kitchen.

I know he's still little (he's just four and a half) but still, I think he's cognizant enough to be able to grasp the concept that there are people who don't have things that we have.

The thing that really frustrates me about the holiday season is the pressure associated with them.

I do want my kids to enjoy the holidays, but I have to be honest, they make me feel out of control.

How do you feel about the holiday season?

Elegant Hair Tie Giveaway - From The Giving Girl

The Giving Girl makes beautiful handcrafted hair ties.

She was generous enough to provide me with some fancy hair ties for review and giveaway!


I tried them in my own crazy Jewfro and they held up beautifully. 


It feels great to be able to wear a colorful piece of art in my hair, rather than a boring elastic band that I bought at Duane Reade. 

You want to win some cute hair ties? Enter below! In order to enter this giveaway, it's required to follow The Giving Girl on Etsy. But honestly, you're going to want to do that anyway. :)

Contest ends 12/16/12



Vintage Key Necklace Giveaway - From Zachary Pryor

Through the magical land of the internet, I managed to find my favorite jewelry designer. His name is Zachary Pryor, and he is amazing. I'm a little sad that he lives all the way in Portland. But luckily I can buy his beautiful creations online!


He created this:



A little more about Zachary



Lonely in the woods of northern Maine with miles between him & the nearest neighbors – Zachary Pryor found that trees & his own creativity were his two best friends. He focused on his painting career for his teen and young adult years and soon after relocating to New York -turned this work into “wearable art.” Zachary kicked a hole in his favorite painting while moving apartments on the subway. Unwilling to part with it he cut into strips, affixed snaps and after several compliments he figured he had a desirable product. These hand-painted wares have now evolved into surreal comedic pop art pieces that deal with the lightness and darkness in us all.

Zachary stumbled upon his jewelry-making prowess quite accidentally, but has found that it is his true calling. He watched a metal mining documentary in the early stages of his jewelry career, so now most of what he makes is "up-cycled" as mining new metals is terrible for the environment. He collects pieces from estate sales, flea markets and antique shops from across the country so many of his pieces have a history, a story and are truly one-of-a-kind. If they don’t have a story all their own, he makes one up calling upon his colorful past. 

So...want to win the vintage key necklace?

Enter here:


Contest ends 12/18/12

Friday, December 7, 2012

ClosetMaid Giveaway- With Dara of Spacial Harmony

Do you want to win this?

You know you do...it's a six cube organizer from ClosetMaid!*

It has these fun blue drawers:





Watch two different ways you can use this cube organizer:




ENTER TO WIN!


a Rafflecopter giveaway










* Full disclosure: ClosetMaid was nice enough to send me a six cube organizer for review. Dara was awesome enough to show me how to use it. I hope you win!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Breaking Accustomed Chaos With Spacial Harmony

Dara came over on Saturday, and she transformed what was chaos into a room that Ari could play in.



I didn't think it was possible. I was overwhelmed by the amount of junk in Ari's room. I couldn't conceive of this room being one in which Ari could play comfortably. 

Once again, Dara showed me that change was possible. She was able to transform tis once chaotic frenetic space into a place where Ari and Samara could play together.



Now Ari actually wants to be in his room. He wants to find toys and build imaginary worlds in there. In contrast to before where he wanted nothing to do with that frenzied space.

Dara had another brilliant idea. She gets a lot of those. 

She moved Wil's dresser from Ari's room (where it clearly didn't belong) into our bedroom closet, which wasn't being utilized properly. Our closet was filled to the brim with junk.


Dara had a vision. She always does.

She imagined that Wil's dresser could fit in the closet. That would never have occurred to me. She was right!


Thank you lovely Dara! You are amazing! 

If you're interested in Dara harmonizing your space, check her out below!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Up Hill Journey

I was walking to Samara's music class today.
I was late.
I was nervous.
I live in Park Slope.
That means that there are many blocks that go uphill.
Every time I'd start to walk uphill, my mind would go in the same direction:
I can't do this.
It's too far.
I'm so late.
I should just go home. 

It wouldn't stop.
My mind wouldn't stop.
But I forced myself to continue on.
It's not about the destination. It's about the journey.
It doesn't matter how late I am.
I will get there.
I can conquer this hill.
I can conquer this uphill battle.

Lately, things have been challenging for me.
Hard.
Life has thrown me a punch or too.

I feel like I'm wading through mud.
But when I turn to face that hill, I'm going to keep walking.
I'm going to keep on climbing that slope.
I will get there.
I can do this.

Think about your own life.
If you're late to class...
Go!
Even if you only make it to the last 10 minutes.
It's better than missing it entirely.
If you're late to meet a friend, and you feel like giving up and going home, go! Meet your friend.

When in doubt, don't bail out.

It's easy to go home.
It's easy to travel on a steady street that has no incline.

Take the road less traveled.
Conquer that hill!

I did today, and I am grateful for it.

I arrived at Samara's music class at 10:34. The class ends at 10:45.
I enjoyed all 11 minutes of that class.
I am grateful for the hills that brought me there.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

You're Not a Robot

I designed my robot.
He's great, and does exactly what I him to do, only he doesn't.
I made him do the dishes, and clean the living room, and most importantly, he cleans the bathroom.
He doesn't listen to me at all.
He was supposed to listen.
I designed him to rub my back and cuddle with me when I'm sad.
He doesn't do that either.
Maybe something is broken.
I'm going to unscrew his inner parts and adjust them.
My robot was supposed to do all these things.
He promised to do them.
He promised....to...do...them...
Only he's not a robot at all.
He's a person.
I didn't design him.
He has thoughts and feelings.
He can disagree with me.
And that's hard.
It's hard for me.
I can't change him.
He is another person separate from me.
We are sometimes one.
We are sometimes two...
Two...
Two people.
We are not robots.
We are humans.
We are so different.
We also understand each other.
Only sometimes we don't.
And that's hard...
Challenging?
Nope, hard.
I am honest.
I am scared.
He is honest.
He is not scared.
Sometimes, I'm honest and I'm not afraid.
No one is a robot.
I designed wrong.
I can only be who I am.
He can only be who he is.
I've been doing it all wrong.
Back to the drawing board.
Maybe if I accept that he is a human, and I am a human we can be humans together.
I'll try that.
Next...
Time.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies With a (Mostly) Vegan Twist



The holidays are approaching and that means that there will be a lot of cookies!

I've put the word out to my fellow cookie lovers that we should all unite and share recipes. Here is the first recipe in the series. My girl, Ms. Alex Proaps, is taking over this here blog to share her vegan-ish twist on an old standard cookie. Without further ado, here is the recipe for Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies With a (Mostly) Vegan Twist.

Take it away, Alex!

My family was always a Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie family. We often used milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet for some extra sweetness, but the Tollhouse recipe was our “family” recipe. When I was in middle school, my mom discovered an even more amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you Google “the Neiman Marcus cookie,” you will come up with dozens of variations of a recipe that surrounds an urban legend about a $250 cookie recipe. Everyone claims his or her recipe is the original, so it’s difficult to know which is which.



That being said, my mom still has the version circulated by Eagle Brand condensed milk in 1996. Yep, she cuts out recipes and keeps them for years in her recipe binder.



You can easily follow the original recipe posted above. Here, I show you how to make this recipe vegan. If you are a strict vegan, you may not consider this a vegan recipe, so I hesitate to label it as such. For example, leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda are not considered “vegan” by some strict vegans because cream of tarter is a byproduct of making wine (which, believe it or not, often involves animal-derived agents like gelatin or casein). Then again, PETA uses both on its super awesome and helpful list for baking substitutes cheat sheet, so it’s really up to the individual and his/her own guidelines.

Here we go.

1 1/2 cups honey-free graham crackers, crushed (Nabisco Grahams work, or you can find some in an organic food store)
1/2 cup unbleached, whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur’s)
2 teaspoons baking powder (again, this is that ingredient that you might not consider vegan)
14 oz. of coconut, soy, almond, or rice condensed milk (Veganbaking.net has a super easy version)
1/2 cup Earth Balance or Smart Balance, softened
1 1/3 cups flaked, unbleached unsweetened coconut
2 cups (12 oz. pkg.) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

Make your condensed milk. I recommend doing this the day before because it can take a couple of hours. I used 2 ¾ cup coconut milk, ½ cup unbleached sugar, and a tsp of salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat. Continue to simmer at low heat and stir on and off until you notice the mixture is thickening and condensing.  It will start to change color.





Remove the condensed mixture from the stove and allow it to cool completely. Preferably, store the mixture overnight in the fridge in a covered container. If you don’t let it cool, you will melt the chocolate like I did tonight trying to make them in a hurry.

Heat your oven to 375ยบF.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, flour, and baking powder in small bowl.



Mix the condensed milk and butter substitute in a bowl until smooth.

Add crumb mixture and mix well.

Stir in coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts. I also recommend refrigerating the dough for a half hour before trying to bake them.



Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets. I use silpat, which is one of the greatest baking inventions of all time, in my opinion. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. These cookies are soft and are not meant to be crispy. If you prefer crispy cookies, you could probably take out the coconut and nuts, but I have never tried the recipe without those ingredients.

Note: As I mentioned, I melted the chocolate in the mixture because I didn’t allow the condensed milk to cool long enough. Your cookies will resemble chocolate chip cookies, not chocolate swirled cookies. Either way, they taste delicious.



Now, the most important part: Eat all the cookies!

***

Alex lives near the ocean in Hampton Roads, Virginia. She is a full time Human Factors Psychology Doctoral candidate who works as a graduate research assistant. She also teaches college Psychology courses. In her spare time, she enjoys weight lifting, working out, marathoning TV shows, and changing her hair color. Her brother and boyfriend are vegan, so she's learned over the last few years how to cook and bake just about everything without using animal products. She has a blog, The Tao of Grad School, but is taking a bit of a hiatus at the moment. You can find her on Twitter at @alexproaps. 

Barking Girl - Motherhood Uncensored


Last night, thanks to the lovely Holly from Mama Drama, I had the opportunity see Barking Girl*


Barking Girl is a surreal play about a woman, Rae, who becomes a mother and is not prepared for the reality of what she experiences.

Rae's trip to motherhood begins while her husband and her are in the south of France. She witnesses a girl who can only communicate by barking like a dog. Her husband and her discuss the girl. She asks him if it's possible that her child will turn out that way. Then they begin to collectively imagine their theoretical child. Will it be a girl or a boy? Who will it resemble? Who will it act like?



Once Rae becomes a mother she's confronted with the fact that her son refuses to put his shoes on. Her days of traveling abroad are over, and she's terrified of making conversations with other mothers at the park. She begs her husband to do the honors of taking their son to the playground so he can socialize with adults and deal with sandbox drama.

The play takes a dramatic turn when Rae meets a sexy man, who is listed in the playbill as "Sexy Man," on a plane on the way back from France. He's smoother than silk with his pick up lines, and she finds herself strangely drawn to him.

I'm not going to reveal anymore about that. You'll have to see the play to find out what happens!

Rae's sister, Becca, and her partner are planning on having a baby and are in search of a sperm donor. That adds another element to the plot, especially when Becca considers someone very close to Rae as a potential donor.

Barking Girl is a play about motherhood. It's about embracing change. It allows the audience to feel the ambivalent feelings that Rae, a new mother, is experiencing about this new identity. I found myself on the edge of my seat, worried for Rae. Wondering if she'd ever be able to successfully get her son's shoes on.

I wanted to know whether she would consummate the relationship with Sexy Man. I was tempted to date him, and I wasn't in the play.

If you can relate to the mania, the confusion and the drama of motherhood, you will love this play.

Hurry! Barking Girl is only here for a limited time! Go see it tonight!

For more information click here:

SEE BARKING GIRL!

*Full disclosure- There's an awesome woman named Holly Rosen Fink who totally gave me tickets to see this amazing show. Did I mention that she's amazing? Also, did I mention that I loved the show?