Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Top Ten Reasons I Have Been Too Busy To Post

Perhaps, if this week's Top Ten (Tuesday) was on any other topic, I would be accused of not knowing the days of the week. But, seeing as today is Wednesday, yet my whole post is a presentation of reasons I haven't posted much recently, I hope my readers will excuse me.

This doesn't really look much like the kokash cake I made on erev yom kippur, but under the circumstances it will have to do. (In case anyone is wondering, it's the honey cake I made for Rosh Hashana.)

This might look like apple-cherry kugel, but don't let yourself be fooled. It is known, rather affectionately, in my family as simchas yom tov kugel. My father walked into the kitchen and saw this with a label that read "apple cherry kugel" and he got all upset. He wanted
to know why I labeled it wrong. I told him it was just to confuse the satan...

Don't ask me why, but this cake is a real family favorite. I suggested making other things this yom tov, and saving the coffee cake for another time, and I was practically boo-ed out of the kitchen.

My father is one of those people that sticks strongly to minhagim. And so I sat there making enough kreplach for erev yom kippur and Hoshana Rabba. I think my father was a little disappointed that I broke from tradition and made them half moon shaped, rather than
triangular, but I convinced him that a krepel is a krepel.

My broccoli kugel has been called "delicious" by all women who taste it. Most men won't taste it, though my father once opened the oven while it was cooking and said "ew, whats that green stuff?" In an attempt at reconciliation, he tasted it and loved it. So there!

One of life's greatest mysteries is how a package of 36 puff pastry squares made 34 potato bourekas. In my attempt at solving the mystery I came up with a simple formula:
A + B = C-2
(Let A = hungry sister B = delicious smell C = the number of bourekas originally made).

When I mentioned previously that my family has a ton of allergies and crazy food restrictions, I wasn't kidding. Behold - whole-spelt challah. I gotta say, it's better than it sounds...

And then of course, there are those who wouldn't touch whole-spelt challah if there was nothing else to eat on planet earth. For them, behold regular challah. It's a shame my mother insists on taking it out of the oven while still a little dough-y to freeze it, so you can't see the gorgeous color it gets when fully cooked, but you can get the idea...

These cookies really deserve a post of their own, as I have a lot to say about them, but gosh are they good.

Finally, to quote the guy outside Yankee Stadium: why lie I!
I know that sounds seriously MPish, but when a girl has nothing to not wear when she doesn't go on dates, it kinda gets problematic.

If anyone wants any of the recipes feel free to email me!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stellaluna and the Yomim Noraim

Children's books can teach many fabulous lessons. While watching some kids last night, I read them a bedtime story.

It was a story about Stellaluna, a bat who got separated from her mother as a little baby. All alone in the big forest, Stellaluna discovered a nice family of birds living in a cozy nest on a tall tree.

At first, Stellaluna found the birds weird, and they couldn't get over her odd habits. Yet, slowly, as time went by, Stellaluna learned to behave a good little bird. She learned to stay up all day, eat bugs, and hang from her hands instead of her feet.

For a long time, Stellaluna lived as one of the birds, forgetting that she was different from them. Then, one day, the birds were all grown up and it was time for them to learn how to fly. The mother bird took them out of the nest and taught them the basics of flight.

The birds took off, Stellaluna close behind, and they went off and explored. It was then that Stellaluna found her real family, the Bats. The first time she glimpsed a bat hanging by his feet, she thought he was making a mistake. But then, as she grew used to the bat ways, she started to see something strange. Living as a bat was so much easier, so much more natural for her than life as a bird.

As a bird, Stellaluna had to choke down her bugs and struggle not to make faces. As a bat, Stellaluna had a grand time eating lots of fruit, plus, she found that he actually enjoyed it! As a bat, Stellaluna noticed how much easier it was for her to stay up all night and sleep all day. All of these traits that she had suppressed as a bird, were coming out and blossoming in her new existence as a bat.

In conclusion, Stellaluna and her old bird friends came to the mutual agreement that while they look and feel so similar, in reality, they are totally different. Reading this book, I got the chills from the obvious lesson I learned from it.

We are yidden.

Our lives may seem similar to those of the non-Jews. On the surface, we both have "wings", we both eat, we both live in the wondrous forest called "earth" yet, when we attempt to live as birds, rather than bats, we find ourselves struggling. We might be able to mold ourselves to fit in with the "rest of the world" but what is the point? We are created differently, for a different purpose.

Now, during the aseres yemei teshuvah, as we contemplate our lives, our mortality, and our very existence, as we think about our life styles, about the areas that need change, we must ask ourselves, are we living as birds, or as bats? Are we twisting ourselves around, trying to make ourselves fit the mold of the umos ha'olam, or are we satisfied with our lives as bats, and living the way we are meant to live?

Sometimes, we don't even give ourselves a chance. We act as we always have. We do what we see the world doing. Yet, if we'd sit amongst the bats, and learn their ways, OUR ways, we would discover that our lives would become richer, more satisfying.

Don't be a bird, be a bat!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Top Ten Manifestations of Murphy's Law

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a continuation of my post about Big Chamor's wedding last week. It's interesting to note that, not only did Big Chamor help me write this post, but she actually told me to include Murphy's Law of Important Dates, which states that you will get a cold or some other illness whenever there is an important event, such as a wedding. It is further interesting to note, that she mentioned that before her wedding...

10) Murphy's Law of Brothers: Items in the house will start to break about fifteen minutes after your most handy brother leaves for a month in yeshivah.

9) Murphy's Law of Cell Phone Batteries: Your cell phone battery will die just when you get lost in a strange and dangerous neighborhood after sunset.

8) Murphy's Law of Coming On Time To Work: Your father will receive a super important phone call which can not be disturbed...exactly at the minute you need him to drive you to work.

7) Murphy's Law of The Great Outdoors: The sky will be beautiful the entire time you are setting up an elaborate picnic in the great outdoors. It will only start to rain as the guests arrive and start to eat. Alternatively, the sky will open up as you reach the halfway point in a four mile hike.

6) Murphy's Law of Cooking For Shabbos: The food will burn on the week that you are having important guests.

5) Murphy's Law of Babysitting: The baby will always start to cry inconsolably a minute before the parents get home, leaving them to think that the baby was wailing the entire time and you are an awful babysitter.

4) Murphy's Law of Tollbooths: You will always pick the toll lane where the guy will have a problem with his EZ-Pass and take forever. Or the lane with the guy who looks suspicious and needs to wait for a police to come and check his car put.

3) Murphy's Law of Yom Tov: The shabbos lamp will die on the first night of yom tov. It will never, ever, die on a regular week night.

2) Murphy's Law of Clean spaces: The kid will only throw up on a freshly washed floor. Alternatively, the kid will throw up on a brand new carpet or in a car on its way home from the showroom.

1) Murphy's Law of Wedding Outfits: The first time you wear your new, expensive, and (in your opinion) young, stylish outfit to a wedding there will be a lady that's your grandmother's age wearing the same outfit. Alternatively, the same outfit will be worn by the biggest nerd you've ever met.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Building For The King

Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to show gratitude towards his beloved king. He spent many days thinking of a gift that would be appropriate for royalty. At long last, he settled on a grand and majestic idea. He would build the king a new palace.

He approached the king, and humbly requested that he be granted permission to build a new palace. The king told him to prepare plans, and then, if he would like them, he would give the man the go-ahead for the palace.

And so, the man got to work. He sat down and drew up the most elaborate, most gorgeous, most majestic palace a king could ever want. He spent hours and hours, days and days, drawing and redrawing, planning and
re-planning. Finally, at long last, the plans were complete.

And so, the man went back to the king, and presented him with his fabulous drawings. The king looked them over with pleasure. He happily agreed to allow the construction to begin.

"Where shall I build the palace?" the man asked. The king selected one of the best pieces of real estate in the kingdom, and told the man that the palace should be built on it.

"What materials shall I use to build the palace?" the man inquired. The king then pointed the man toward the capital, where they had the building supply center for the city. The king wrote a note, and sealed it with his royal seal, telling the suppliers to give the man all the materials he needed. The king also instructed them to treat him well, and charge it to the royal account.

So the man set off. He arrived at the suppliers, presented them with the note, and proceeded to take the finest, most expensive building materials to the construction site. Day after day, when the man would arrive, the suppliers would lead him past all of the builders in line, and present him with excellent materials. Then, the man would turn and leave, and he wouldn't pay a penny.

After a few days, the builders on line started to get angry. They started to protest. "Who is this guy that you let him skip the line like that?" "Yeah, and why do you always give him the best materials?!" "Oh, and don't forget this man never pays a blessed penny!"

The suppliers pulled out the note, by way of explanation. "Don't you get it? This man is working to build a palace for the king! When a person is working for the king, he provides them with all of the finest materials to work with!"

We are now approaching
Rosh Hashanah, the day of judgement. It is a day when we have to ask Hashem for everything that we might want over the course of the year. It would seem, on such a day, that it would be best to daven the regular weekday shemoneh esrei, which covers pretty much all the bakashos we might have, right?

But no, on
Rosh Hashanah we don't say that shemoneh esrei. In fact, we don't make bakashos during shemoneh esrei. Instead, we spend our time on the avoda of the day, being mamlich Hashem as our king. But we feel a little tinge, we want to ask Hashem for our bakashos too!

Just as the man in this
mashul, we first have to show the King that we are doing it for Him. We have to prepare a plan of the "palace" that we will build for the "King" this year. Once we establish that we are living our lives for Him, and that we are doing everything for our King, then, and only then, are we able to request the all of the things that we may need to build our palace for Hashem. Because, indeed, when a person is working for the King, He provides them with all of the finest materials to work with!

Wishing all of you a
kesivah vechasima tova, and a year full of good things!

(I heard this mashal in the name of R' Matisyahu Salomon)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Super-Power Meme: SD is a Disappointment

When a person is tagged once to do a meme, they can sort of pretend that they are too busy or that they didn't notice and skip it. But I was tagged five times to do the super-power meme. I mean, why is it that people are so curious about what super-power I would like to have?

I must say, I think I will disappoint you. I don't really think there is a super-power that I would want. Well, no, there are loads that I would want, but I am too technical and practical to spend my time wishing for them. (I know I am boring. I can't help it. I Aside from that, I am afraid that there is another, even larger disappointment in the making. You see, at least two of the five people that tagged me did so because they think I am funny. And, if pressed to give an answer, I am afraid it would be decidedly un-funny.

Yeah, sure I would like some kind of super zapping power, that would get rid of annoying coworkers, NS, or MWMF. (For those of you who have never bothered to check my blog on the original site, but read it only from the feed, don't bother asking what that stands for. I have a glossary up for a reason.) I would also like a power that would allow me to shoot people that argue with me, and it would take their voice away. Imagine how awesome that would be? There I am, talking to someone, and suddenly their mouth is moving but no sound comes out. Ahhh, they look dumb. I would also be happy to have the power to give some pounds to people, especially those who complain about being fat when they are way skinnier than I am. Wouldn't that be nice.
"I lost some weight this week."
"Oh, that's funny, I found it."
"Hahaha, is that a coincidence?"

But in reality, the only thing I have ever wished for that would be classified as a super-power, is the ability to get a glimpse into the minds of other people. Sometimes I have these moments in a conversation when I suddenly see the person differently, when I see them from a completely new angle, and suddenly, I wonder what they are thinking, what they are seeing, what life experience they have had that is giving them this unique perspective into our discussion. I like to think of the ramifications of a super-power like that. I would become the most sensitive person in the world, I would never hurt a person, I would never insult anyone, I would never press someone to say something they are uncomfortable saying.... Sorry folks, like I said, that wasn't funny, but I elected to be honest instead....

And by the way, in case anyone is finding this idea familiar, I think it came from a book I read as a kid. The Trouble With Jenny's Ear. Funny how an idea can stick with you all the way into adulthood, huh?

As far as all those other rules...just ask my teachers. I don't follow any. Ever.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Five Year Old Perspective On The Shidduch Crisis

The "Shidduch Crisis" has become one of the favorite discussion topics of our generation. A week can't go by without an article or letter in one of the heimishe papers, proclaiming new dimensions to the crisis, or suggesting yet another ridiculous solution to this monumental problem.

Everywhere you go, everyone knows: girls aren't getting dates. Boys are inundated. People are simply not getting engaged. Life is terrible.

Oh wait, it's no so terrible! It's just that we can't possibly be anything less than miserable if we are (lo aleinu) single. So it had become a crisis, and it's affecting people at younger and younger ages.

When I was little, I knew nothing about dating. How would I? None of my siblings had reached that stage yet! I remember my oldest sister's first date. I was sure she was the coolest person ever, and had a hard time not telling all my friends how cool she was. But that initial naivete was something nice, something I wish children nowadays would get to experience.

But no, today's children are putting their young minds to work, trying to find a solution to the epic crisis that is threatening to destroy the foundations of our society. And even worse, children today are horribly concerned about their shidduch chances. Which reminds me of the story that brought all of this to mind.

My friend told me that her little brother, a sweet five year old boy, came inside from playing. She noticed that he had a worried expression on his face, and inquired what the problem was. His answer stunned me. "How am I ever going to find a girl to marry if I never find anyone by hide and go seek?"

Poor kid, five years old and devoid of the most basic innocence.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Top Ten Tee-Shirts I Saw This Summer

This week's Top Ten Tuesday was actually in my drafts before I had even started Top Ten Tuesday. The idea came to me in Niagara Falls, when I saw the guy sporting the tee-shirt that has become number one on this list. I thought I'd get ten just from that vacation, but there were a disappointingly small number of funny tee-shirts, so I spent an entire summer gathering these. Now, just one week past labor day, it feels like the summer was years ago. So here, to remind you of those sunny days recently spent in vacation areas, is this week's Top Ten:

10) I've seen this a bunch of times, and each time I find it so cute. On a baby: "party: my crib, 2 am"

9) On a little kid: "My daddy is the boss, and my Mommy is HIS boss!"

8) This one actually made me jealous. It looked like a one-way road sign, and it said: "My Way Or No Way"

7) On a little boy, (it looked like it belonged on his dad though.) "Always Grumpy"

6) On a man sitting on a bench totally oblivious to the many children nearby, wrecking havoc: "Go ask your mom!"

5) On a teen-age girl: "It's easier to apologize after than to get permission before"

4) On a man who didn't look particularly intelligent OR handsome: "I'm just like you, only smarter and better looking."

3) On a big, tough looking guy: "Sorry, but the position of annoying person is already taken!"

2) On an aproximately 12 year old girl: "Girls just want to have fund$"

1) On an old, fat, bald man: "With a body like this, who needs hair?"

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Review Part 2: Reports and Pictures

In an attempt to get the car, I mean, score some last minute tzadekes points up there, I cooked a gourmet supper for my mother, who had to work late today. Naturally, I opened up my new cookbook, The Complete Yom Tov Cookbook. I must say, my mother is awesome. She doesn't ask any questions. Some mothers might have inquired why erev yom tov seems like a good time to make a gourmet supper, but she just smiled and thanked me.Anyhow, here is what I made:

Spinach Patties. These are included in the cookbook as one of the simanim for Rosh Hashanah, but my father is very particular about minhagim, and he doesn't define silka as spinach. Instead, I made them for supper. The batter was extremely easy to make, and they weren't hard to fry either. Also, they made the house smell really good, which was awesome. I was trying to figure out if there is a way to bottle the smell in case I ever go on a date, but it didn't look likely (the bottled smell or the date) so I gave up.

As I was taking them out of the pan, my father walked into the kitchen. I offered him a taste, while bracing myself for a disappointment. It's not that my father is mean, but he is a guy. He has been known to see broccoli kugel in the oven and say "what's that green stuff?" I was therefore pretty shocked when he happily took a second patty. He stopped chewing for a minute, just long enough to say "really, really delicious." High praise, considering it was a male talking about spinach.

I also made this:
Pepper steak. I wasn't scared of my father's reaction to this one, because even a guy can handle green peppers if they are served on a plate with meat. As with the spinach patties, the instructions were clear, simple, and easy to follow. It was really popular, all around. The author suggests serving the pepper steak with brown rice, which I did. It looked and smelled delicious, so it was no shock to find that it tasted even better than I expected. Again, my parents are awesome. Some might have inquired why I was taking a picture of my plate, and why I felt a need to arrange the rice just so, but mine didn't even notice. Or maybe they were just too busy enjoying.

Once again, if you'd like to purchase this cookbook, the link is here.

Hope I didn't make anyone too hungry...

(Please note: Lous II took these pictures for me, in case you were wondering about the poor photo quality. And in case you are wondering about the name, Louis II is my cell phone.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Life's Ctrl-Z

Once while typing
A report for school,
I suddenly felt
Like a real big fool.
I highlighted it all,
Pressed backspace,
And suddenly it was gone
Without a trace!
Now one would think
Disaster had struck,
But no, good news,
I am in luck!
Because at this
Important junction,
I recalled that the computer
Has a nifty function,
Getting my work back
Couldn't be more easy,
I thought as I deftly
Pressed on the ctrl-z.
And there my report
Sat on the screen,
While I smiled,
Remained serene.
Now google is getting
Into the act,
If a person is quick
Enough to react.
When sending an email
And changing your mind,
That little "undo"
Is what you will find.
You press it quick,
And then you see,
Your email's delivery
Won't ever be!
But we get a bit spoiled,
Using these tricks,
We start to expect there,
To be that quick fix.
And sometimes in life,
We make a mistake,
We do some things wrong,
Or there's rules that we break.
And we look around,
Eyes down in shame,
For we know deep down,
This isn't a game.
We know that we need
That "undo" setting,
But it's not there,
And we start sweating.
How can we attempt
To abolish the decree?
Where is our friend,
Good 'ol Ctrl-z?
But now it is Elul
And G-d is calling.
Yet here we are,
We just keep stalling.
So He says "My child,
Come to me!
Here's your chance,
For life's ctrl-z!"
It might look hard,
But let me say,
It really is,
The easy way.
There are so many
Actions that we regret,
And we haven't really,
Repented yet.
But at long last,
What we've waited for,
It's here now,
Knocking at our door.
Fellow yidden,
It's time to grow,
With the installation of
Elul 1.0!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dying Of Diabetes In A Civilized Country?

(Note: This post was written for publication on my diabetes blog, but I liked it, and I liked the lesson, so I posted it here too. There may be a number of terms you don't understand, but I think even someone with no knowledge of diabetes can understand the basic idea of this.)

Someone gave him my phone number, thinking that perhaps I could help with some supplies he needed. This man knows very few people with diabetes, and takes advantage of his listening ear.

He starts to tell his story, and I sit there, completely spell bound. I don't believe it's happening. I don't believe it's true.

He introduces himself, then mentions he has "a severe case of diabetes." I groaned to myself. People with type 2 diabetes have a nasty habit if aggravating those of us with type one. I figured this man was simply a type two diabetic who now needs insulin, and now thinks he has a "severe case."

Turns out I was right, but it was me who was about to learn a big lesson.

The man, we'll call him Mr. Lerner, began by telling me that he used to have "regular type two." He used to check his blood sugar a couple of times a week, take a daily pill, and watch his food intake. "I cheated occasionally, but I was basically under very good controlled."

It sounded pretty run of the mill to me, so I continued to listen. "Everything changed when I got a terrible infection. I had a fever, and I was pretty sick." I listened in amazement as he told me what happened in the aftermath of that infection. It was shabbos (sabbath) afternoon and his blood sugar, at last test, was a bit under 200. Not a very big deal, right? Well suddenly, he collapsed. Blacked out. An ambulance ride to the hospital later, and his blood sugar was close to a thousand. They gave him a massive dose of insulin, sent him home, and figured the whole thing was over.

A couple of days later, when he was back at the hospital, having collapsed once again, and they realized something was wrong. They further realized that something was very wrong when the man didn't respond to their prescribed insulin regimen. They continued to increase his insulin doses, and his blood sugars continued to climb.

At first, I was sure he was eating terribly. I inquired about his diet, and received another shock. "Well I eat very low carb, and I am extremely careful with every bite that goes in my mouth, but it's more than that." He explained that his blood sugar would climb with no food whatsoever.

The story only got worse as I began to hear all of the awful details. Details like taking hundreds of units of insulin per hour, just to stay under 200. Details like a person being on an insulin pump but changing the reservoir multiple times per day. Details like an A1c of >14%. Details like a man remaining in the 400-500's through most days.

"I don't feel like there is much of a need to check, because almost every time I do, the meter just says HI." He started detailing his history of hospital stays, treatments, and doctors. "Most doctors refuse to treat me after a while. They simply have nothing to help me with."

I listened to his tales in shock. Here is a man, living in the year 2009, in the advanced country of the United States of America, and he is dying of diabetes. Medical science has advanced to such a state, that diabetes treatment is more advanced than people would have ever dreamed of. There is a plethora of choices available to patients with diabetes, in terms of insulins, meters, pumps, and even things that patients of fifty years ago wouldn't have been able to dream of, such as continuous glucose monitors.

Yet, as we take insulin, then watch our numbers descend, we don't think properly about the marvels of it. Sure we can do a little introspection occasionally, and remember the times when insulin hadn't yet been discovered, when diabetes was an instant death sentence, but do I ever stop and think about the amazing wonders of insulin simply working?

And when I take a shot, or I bolus on my pump, and I get frustrated because my blood sugar only went down a bit, do I stop and appreciate the little bit that it did go down? All those times that my blood sugar gets a little high, and I feel so sick, so I stop and think how grateful I have to be that I don't feel like this all the time? All those shots I take, every pill I swallow, every blood test I endure, I might think briefly about the wonders of modern medicine, but not about the wonders of the human body, the wonders of modern medicine and the unbelievable wonders of the human body interacting the way they should. And that is a mistake. Nothing should ever be taken for granted. Nothing.

Not medicine that works. Not food that fills you up. Not clothes that keep you warm. Happiness, health, family, friendship...these are all things that we overlook, things that we take for granted. But nothing is for sure. Nothing is guaranteed. It's amazing how much everyone has to be grateful for.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book Review: The Complete Yom Tov Cookbook

Elul is a scary time for all yidden. It is a time for all Jews to look back, to think on their actions of the previous year, to look ahead and resolve to be better. Even for the less serious people, there is a certain awe and even fear the permeates the air.

For Jewish housewives, there is an additional worry, an added stress, another form of fear. While this is not a stressful matter of epic proportions, as is the teshuvah process, yom tov preparation is in fact important, as it sets the tone for the yom tov. As an akeres habayis, it's important for the frum woman to provide tasty and varied dishes over the course of the holiday season.

And that's always been the problem. There are only so many times you can serve potato kugel and chicken soup. And there are only so many tried and trusted recipes in a woman's personal repertoire. Additionally, meal planning gets tough too.

Enter The Complete Yom Tov Cookbook, by Sara Finkel. This new cookbook, from Targum Press, solves a lot of the pre-yom tov stress. Rather than organize it by type of food, (appetizers, soups, mains...) this coobook was organized by yom tov. It starts with Rosh Hashanah, and goes through the end of sukkos, finishing with simchas Torah and shemini atzeres. It also includes (under the category of chol hamoed,) all the classic foods a person might want to cook on a typical shabbos.

When I first picked up the book, I was starving. It was a huge mistake. The eye catching photos, along with the mouth watering descriptions, had me running off in search of some supper.
Having read through all of the recipes, but not yet having had the time to try any, I will post my preliminary findings. When I've surprised my mother by cooking up a storm, I'll come back with reports and pictures.

Firstly, the cookbook has a great variety of foods. My family deals with a ridiculous number of food allergies (from almost every family member) and thus, we have a difficult time finding new recipes to make. This cookbook scored splendidly in that area. Particularly exciting, were the wheat-free desserts, as good ones are hard to come by.

The next thing I noticed was the number of classic Jewish recipes this cookbook contains. While most of us have a recipe for chicken soup or chulent from out mother or grandmother, there is always a time when a person needs a typical Jewish recipe, and those are the hardest to come by. In fact, just a few days ago I admitted to a friend that I'd never made potato kugel. She was completely incredulous, but now I need not worry. This cookbook has a delicious looking recipe for that too.

Another thing that excited me about this cookbook was the soups. Call me weird, but soup is one of my favorite foods. Last winter, for a couple of months straight, I craved nothing but soup. A good soup recipe isn't so easy to come by, especially when so many of them seem to include a day and a half of chopping. This cookbook has a nice amount of soup recipes, many of which actually look pretty simple.

Speaking of simple, the next thing I noticed about this cookbook is that its recipes are all for real food. Some cookbooks have foods that look and sound so complex, it makes you wonder which sane person tries it. The Complete Yom Tov Cookbook has accomplished the difficult task of striking up a perfect balance of elegantly presented, yet tasty and inviting foods.

As soon as I get cookin, I'll be back with reports and pictures, but until then, here is the link, for all those who'd like to try some recipes out on their own. At just $14.99, with a 10% online discount, and free shipping in the United States and Israel, this cookbook is a very affordable and useful investment for your yom tov cooking. Additionaly, if you purchase this book, or any Targum book, from the above link, you will benefit BOSD, and what greater perk could there be?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Murphy's Law At Weddings

Murphy's law, while commonly discussed in our society, doesn't actually play out to the fullest extent on a day to day basis. In fact, if I were in a more serious mood, I'd probably point out that we generally think things are awful, simply because we don't stop and think how much worse they could be.

If given the task of imagining the wildest, least likely, and all-together insane thing that good 'ol Murphy would cunningly carry out at a wedding, what comes to mind?

Obviously, I don't mean horrific tragedies like some I've heard over the years. I mean the kind I stories that you'll one day look back at...and laugh.

I once heard a story that I thought was a classic portrayal of Murphy's influence on a wedding ceremony. The following was recounted by a friend, whom I met only after her wedding, so while I didn't actually see it, I heard it from the kallah herself.

The night before her wedding, my friend was leaving the house, tripped on the dark stairs, and fell. As is often the case, my friend put her hands out to stop the fall, so her hands bore the brunt of the impact. They got a bit scraped, but didn't look too bad. She went to sleep, hoping to wake up and find they had completely healed.

Unfortunately, the opposite occurred. She woke up to stinging pain in her hands. She looked down, and felt a sinking feeling of total dread, as she saw the swollen, pussy, infected appendages that had just yesterday been her hands.

While many girls spend the morning of their wedding in prayer, others in nervous anticipation, my friend spent the morning of her wedding at the doctor's office, having her hands bandaged. And, I think the worlds greatest Dan lekaf zechus story took place when friends, classmates, and relatives came in and wondered why she was wearing elegant white gloves to her wedding. "Why is she trying to be so fancy?" "It looks so goyish!" Little did they know that when they shook my friend's hand, or grabbed them to dance, they stung from terrible pain.

A kallah at the doctor's office on the day of her wedding? Can it get worse? Apparently, it can.

As I mentioned yesterday, BigChamor got married last night. I THOUGHT Murphy's law had played out when she spent the entire shabbos talking about her imminent cold. Then I was sure Murphy's law was here when she woke up Sunday morning and announced "it's here!" Monday morning, when she texted me that she had a sinus infection, I was sure it couldn't get worse. Later in the day, I got a text from my bridosapien friend saying "I have a nosebleed." I was horrified. "if that happens at the wedding ur gonna get it all over ur gown and ur chosson is gonna think u murdered someone."

I THOUGHT I was joking. But a couple minutes into first dance, as the kallah glided gracefully, albeit quickly off the dance floor and into the bathroom, I realized this was no joke. Her nosebleed had returned. They got it stopped, and the kallah returned. She danced a bit, and then her nose struck again. Once again, midway through dancing, the Kallah left the dance floor to take care of her nose.

By the third time around, it was no longer ignorable. This time, she didn't go off on her own, but was dragged off by some family members. People continued to dance, figuring that she would be back any minute. Her sister came over notified me otherwise. "They took her to the hospital to have her nose cauterized."

Speaking of Murphy.

She finally came back, and I went to dance with her. "SD, look!" she whispered. And right there, in the center of the dance circle, the Kallah lifted her sleeve just a drop, enough for me to peek in and see. There was a hospital bracelet around her wrist!

A chosson lifted up to see his kallah over the mechitza, only to see a bunch of girls merrily dancing around nothing? An emergency room tech asking a girl in a white gown and a veil "are you the bride?"? A hospital bracelet competing with the kallah bracelet for space on the kallah's wrist? I'd say murphey played a part in all this.

Naturally, the kallah found a bright side, as she whispered to me, after dancing had ended, "well, at least you'll get a great post out of it!"

Has anyone ever been at a wedding where Murphey was in attendance? What happened?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Top Ten Philosophies on Housekeeping and Marriage

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is dedicated to my friend, known to readers of my blog as BigChamor. She has been working very hard to prepare herself, over the last couple of months, as her wedding was looming closer. Well folks, this is it. The big day has arrived. In celebration, I present to you a number of pearls of wisdom that I've heard from BigChamor over the course of her engagement. Read it, and see how well she's been preparing herself.

1) "Wait, remind me again how I'm supposed to tell the difference between an iron and a dishwasher?"

2) "I don't understand why laundry needs to be folded. Why can't it just be rolled in a ball and stuffed in the drawer?"

3) "I chose pillows for their pillow fighting qualities."

4) "Its MY couch. Why should I share it with my husband?"

5) "Why learn how to wash a pot? There is a takeout store on the corner!"

6) "So in this cabinet is the dishrack, and I don't-even-know-what because I'm not ever going to use them."

7) "Who needs a table and chairs? Meals are best on the couch!"

8) "Of course I just want a wooden spoon for decoration. What else would someone do with a wooden spoon?"

9) "No, I don't need a bugaboo! I don't care what kind of carriage the kids have. They can ride around on a vacuum cleaner for all I care."

10) "I don't go to the kitchen to cook. I go to the kitchen to taste."

Mazel Tov BigChamor! Can't wait to "dance" with you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Who's He Going To Tell?

A Rabbi was feeling very chained down his congregation and all the services, so he decided to skip out on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. He went to a nearby golf course and began to play. The angels looked down from heaven and when they saw a Rabbi playing golf on Yom Kippur, they were scandalized. They pointed it out to God, who looked down knowingly. "Don't worry," He said, "I'll take care of it."
A couple of minutes later, the Rabbi approached the hardest hole in the course. The angels looked on in astonishment as he hit a hole-in-one. They looked questioningly at God, "A hole-in-one? On the toughest hole? That's what you call a punishment?" God winked back at the angels. "Who's he going to tell?"

I had my own little version of this joke tonight, and I want to share it, for the sole purpose of gloating.

I was standing in the doorway of my parent's bedroom, talking to my mother. The conversation wasn't all that private, but I would have obviously preferred not to include my siblings in it, or it would have been a supper-table discussion. My back was facing the inside of the bedroom, so I couldn't see what was going on in the hallway, but growing up in my family has taught me to use my hearing to my advantage.

A minute of so before this, the bathroom door had opened. I heard my sibling's footsteps leaving, the bathroom, then stopping. Now, realize that I knew exactly which sibling it was, but I don't want to say it on here, so I will call that individual US, for "Unnamed Sibling." I knew that US was still within earshot, desperately trying to catch on to stray words from our hushed conversation. I didn't want to disappoint them. I raised my voice a bit. "By the way Ma, it's funny how US thinks we don't know that they are listening to us." My mother looked confused. "How do you know?" "Don't you realize? US walked out of the bathroom, and the footsteps didn't continue down the hall!"

At that point, the footsteps started up again, so my words got a little louder. "And the best part is that US won't be able to get angry and ask why I was talking about them, because they can't admit I was right!" I smiled big at my mother, then finished the conversation and went down to the kitchen to meet up with my scowling sibling. I smiled once more, and asked why they looked so glum. "Nothing," was the mumbled reply.

Yeah right.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Break In Schedule: My Nomination

Few things could ever interrupt the usual schedule of this blog. Top Ten Tuesday, though still in it's incipient stages, is an exciting weekly feature, at least for me. This week's Top Ten list was promising to be a good one, but alas, some things are more important. Such as nominations.

When asked which blogger would be best to send to Israel, I don't have many arguments to offer that weren't made by older, wiser, and more influential bloggers than myself. Other bloggers have already composed several highly convincing posts, explaining why Bad4Shidduchim would be the best choice. I have just one reason to add.

Before I ever entered the city of Blogsville, my only exposure to Frum Society was via my real-life acquaintances in Motsville. The differences between these two cities are so enormous, it's hard to imagine that they actually exist within the same population. Even more shocking, they exist within the same people.

In my native town of Motsville, everyone is exactly the same. Nobody can dare to dress, act or even think differently, less they be considered an outcast. The words bad for shidduchim are uttered in hushed tones, about other people. Dressing in a way that might shock or horrify a shadchan is considered worse than suicide. In the bright and sunny world of Motsville, a shadchan has more power than the president.

You can therefore imagine my shock, amusement, and excitement when I stumbled across the online world of Blogsville. High atop every blogroll is perched the destination that is like a safe haven for refugees of motsville. Bad 4 Shidduchim. Within that blog, I found the wondrous world of glory being attributed to people who dare to break out of the MOTS mold, people who dare to dress or act anything less than perfect.

But I found myself wondering. How could it be that a blog like that could have such a large number of readers, followers, and argumentative commenters? A large majority of these readers are people who have been so heavily brainwashed by the society of Motsville that they still dress perfectly! So how could it be that these very same singles are cheering excitedly about things like bad for shidduchim points and parties? First, I chalked it up to the emotionally charged topic and the frustrations of the system. But as I look at the numerous blogs about shidduchim that died practically before they even started, and at the multitudes of books on the topic lying unread on the bookstore shelves, I realized that can't be it.

That's when I realized the simple truth. Bad4's unique blend of humor, wit, sarcasm, truthfulness and enthusiasm, combined with her talent for writing has inspired passion in the hearts of her readers. People might have felt differently about the phenomenon of bad for shidduchim before they read her blog, but once they do, it's hard for them not to get caught up in her passion...and opinions start to sway.

And that is why I nominate Bad4Shidduchim to be chosen by Nefesh B'Nefesh. Who better to write about the intense emotions, the personal side of an Aliyah flight, than a writer who inspires her readers to be passionate?