Tag Archives: holidays

A Sweet New Year (and the funny thing about mashed potatoes)

There is an odd phenomenon surrounding the making of mashed potatoes. There is truly a fine line between the perfect amount of milk and…

well I would have to say:

wallpaper paste.

Yes, you guessed it. I was there. They were really perfect. But I could not leave well enough alone and had to add that one little drop more of milk. And the next think I knew I was preparing boxed rice pilaf (on a holiday, that’s simply a crime!) and dumping those potatoes before Gary got home to witness my failure.

But here’s the thing. It’s not about the mashed potatoes. Or the rice. Or the fact that you find yourself cooking chicken soup and brisket on labor day as if someone pulled the switch on your summer and sent you tumbling down the Days of Awe water slide.

It’s about stopping and taking a deep breath and remembering that even though it is 85 degrees out and you have a Chambers Stove from the 1930s that is causing your kitchen to feel like a sauna; traditions, community, family and friends are what the whole thing is about.

Like the friend that picks up your parents’ synagogue tickets for you because you were too harried to get there yourself. Or the one who wakes up to remember that she is out of flour but she always bakes you a challah and makes sure to get to the store early enough to make you one again this year AND have her son deliver it to you. Or it is sitting in Synagogue (yes in that state of post ruining the potatoes shame) and looking to your left and right to see not just both your parents, but both of your in-laws as well.

So to all the members of the Tribe that read this blog, L’Shana Tovah. May you have a good, sweet year.

And just a tip, go light on the milk in the mashed potatoes.

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Filed under family, friendship, holidays

Lazy is the new productive

I made this my Facebook status today and it was immediately well received. Made me ponder that maybe I was on to something.

Think about it.

All year long we race around, make lists, disappoint ourselves with never completing everything we set out to do in a day. Why? For what reason do I set myself up for hyper-productivity? Like I am a better person if all the laundry is done and my closets are cleaned at the end of a weekend day? Yeh, right. Who cares if maybe the blueberries in the fridge are a little on the fuzzy side (ok, maybe my daughter since she did mention tossing them) — we could think of them as pets instead of food. Kind of like domestic multi-use.

I worked with someone once who told me a clean desk was the sign of a sick mind. Maybe everything done and in order all the time is not such a big deal. Maybe it is actually a losing a battle. Maybe an ever evolving to-do list is ok. Maybe sometimes we need to shut up and shut down in order to rest up to push that bolder back up the hill when we have no other choice. Perhaps the doing nothing piece is a way of letting the brain slow down to gear up again. This is a completely different way of thinking for someone like me. I am usually a moving target.

I won’t lie, lying around is not usually my thing. If I am not productive for too long a period of time I start to feel lousy. But there is something to be said for lounging in bed and reading a book, staying in your pajamas till 3:00 (or 4, or 5), drinking a little too much (define ‘too much’) and just hanging out. Hey, my kids seem to think that it is a full time job. I wonder what they would do if I moved the couches out of the house.

My point? I guess it would be that having a couple of weeks at the end of the year to lose the scheduling and the frenzy and just be lazy can have its benefits. First, for someone like me, at the end of all this I am dying to be productive again. But while I am still in it I am starting to take some pleasure in being a slug.

My family, on the other hand, wants to know why we don’t have any ______ (fill in the blank) left in the house.

Hey, you guys all drive…

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Time to Cry Tuesday – The family you choose

We are very fortunate Jews; very fortunate indeed, as we are invited to a most amazing Christmas every year with our dearest friends. I wrote about this last year but I can’t help but post again about an evening that is so very special to our family.

Seated in one room were  members of four families, one friend of the boys and the boyfriend of my girl. The ‘kids’ table was now populated with 14 to 20-year-olds!

As we all took our seats, the vision of all those young adults took my breath away. Some in High School, others about to go off to college, still others scattered in universities across the country, some about to go off on semester abroad adventures, were the finicky eaters and meltdown whiners of Christmas’ past. Was it not just yesterday that the girls put on their famous dance show in front of the fireplace while the boys bounced balls incessantly through the house? Did we not pajama the kids before we went home a few short years ago?

And it’s amazing how we don’t look a day older. (ok, we had a lot of wine with dinner).

It is never a bad idea to count your blessings during the holiday season. So much time is spent on rushing around to make it all perfect, when the truth is, by nature of the players it already is.

Thank you once again to my dear wife friend, Joanne, who makes a holiday like no other. Go figure that the skinniest, most fit woman I know would also be the best cook! She gave me the little framed picture above this post long ago and I keep in on my desk to thank my lucky stars for the day her husband brought her into my life (and believe me, he dated many women I would not have been all that happy sharing my life with, most of whom I remember and he does not).

I am doubly blessed to have a real family that I would choose anyway and an extended family of friends that I would throw myself in front of a train for.

Happy holidays to you all. Count your friends as your blessings for without them nothing is all that important.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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From a Jew on Christmas

Ho. Ho. Ho. Or for you kvetchy jews out there like the lady on the deli line in the market yesterday: Oy. Oy. Oy.

Forget religion for a moment and let’s talk about the holiday season and what it does to people. To that crazy lady:

What the hell were you thinking yelling at that little old lady behind you?

Granted she might have been crowding you a bit, or perhaps she might have been a little cranky, but your outburst was embarrassing to me, I would hope it was to you afterwards. And then it spawned another little scuffle at the head of the line. Sorry, call me old-fashioned, but no matter how old I get I am still from the school of respect your elders, no matter how much they may annoy you.

PEOPLE, what is up? It is the holiday, you are in an upscale market in a beautiful suburb and you can afford to shop here and hopefully your ‘stress’ is probably just how you will get all that food on the table hot. So catch a grip, chill out and grab a little holiday spirit and perhaps a drink or two to calm that mood and try to enjoy! And act civil to one another, for G-d sake!

Ok, so perhaps she had more stress than the hot food thing. And maybe everyone is a little edgier trying to make believe life is all warm and fuzzy in these not so warm and fuzzy times. But this woman? Yikes, what an outburst. Kind of like that Network, “I’m as mad as hell and I am not going to take this anymore!” kind of thing.

My reaction? I turned to the woman behind me and promised not to fight with her. I told her I would never use that tone with anyone I was not married to. It gave her a good laugh and we of saner (and I use that term loosely) temperaments went on our merry shopping way hoping to learn from this lesson that we should do unto others and all that crap.

I can only top this with the facebook post from my friend Amy S yesterday:

Person ahead of me with a “Choose Civility” bumper sticker on the car just cut someone off and ran a red light.

Yeh, there are all sorts of hypocrites out there.

So to all my friends who are not hypocrites but instead wonderful people who appreciate all they have and would never yell at little old ladies (unless perhaps they gave birth to them), here is wishing you a Merry Christmas if this is your holiday. And if not, I hope you are as lucky as we are to share the holiday with friends.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Just Another Manic Monday

All that food. All that family. And the hanging around, wandering aimlessly through a 4-day weekend. The laundry. The trips to the airport. Of course a massive leaf blowing extravaganza. And more TV than any household should have to endure. Top it all off with the cherry on top of the Rock Hall of Fame Concert for 4 hours on HBO.

So, Monday. The mother of all Mondays. Cyber Monday for those of you who are closet Black Friday peops. Do you slip right back into the grind? Start pushing that bolder up the hill again? Or do you have a fresh perspective? Do you have a well-rested feeling that makes you feel ready to buckle down and be productive? Or maybe you would be happier with just one more day of slugdom.

Or both.

THAT is what I call a truly Manic Monday.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.
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Filed under carreers, holidays, rock 'n roll, work, work habits

Pre-holiday Musings

I have been out of the basement and out in the world these last few days. Here are a few of my thoughts (scary when I let you see the inside of my head, isn’t it?):

1. Saffron. why is this sold like drugs in a vial and why on earth does it cost almost as much. Yeh, yeh, I know you only need a few threads but seriously, $15.00 for a spice? Do people snort this stuff?

2. Parking lots. Who designs them? And do they have little cameras in their offices just for kicks where they watch people lose their minds trying to park? You will be happy to know I have shed my parking lot rage and have learned to behave myself(ish) – I think the back up camera in the new car may have helped. But I have seen quite a few people with less than stellar behavior these past few days.

3. Turkey. What does a 28 lb. turkey look like when it is walking around? (and have I just ruined everyone’s appetite for the holiday?)

4. Cranberries. What makes them organic and why does that mean they should cost $5.99 a bag?

5. Airports. Why is nothing open at 10:30 at night at LaGuardia? Aren’t we the city that never sleeps?

And last but not least:

CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS… why are these up before Thanksgiving!!!

Sorry. that last one is a pet peeve of mine. Not because I am a Jew (hey I don’t yank out the Menorah the second the Halloween candy is gone either), but because I feel the need to savor the moment of one holiday before the next one is out there.

Sorry, but it’s kind of like those people that say the summer is almost over on August 1st.

So folks, my holiday message for you all is to try your best to BE HERE NOW. Where ever that might be. And try to spend at least one day with your glass half full (hopefully with alcohol if you are spending it with family).

Love. Hugs. And a spectacular L-tryptophan induced sleep at the end of the holiday to you all.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Filed under absurdities, holidays

Email. Brisket. Conference Call. Kugel.

There are days when working at home is both wonderful and manic.

Is it hard to juggle it all? Sometimes.

Would I have it any other way?

Probably not.

There is nothing like preparing a holiday while you try to juggle tying up a week of work.

For those who are of the tribe, I wish a sweet new year. And for those who are not, I wish you no lines at the movies or your favorite restaurant on Friday and Saturday night.

I’ll be back on Sunday.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog.For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Uncle

Please!! 

No

more 

food.

Nothing like a jewish holiday to make you feel like you are going to explode.

Sorry, too much salteggsfatmatzohwinebrisketsoupgelfitlefish-a-go-go to possibly type another word.

 

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog.

For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Guerilla Holiday

guerilla_matzoh

No, my guests did not behave like primates. That’s the other gorilla!

A new record was set in my household this Passover. Menu writing to table in 23 hours. Pretty impressive, even for me.

There are those that cook ahead and plan for weeks. Their tables are set 2 days in advance (no Karen, I am not talking about you… specifically). Not me. I need to feel the pressure of impending guests breathing down my neck before I can move towards getting it together. Between work and social obligations there was simply no time to address this holiday (or any other, who am I kidding) before it was on fire.

In the past there have been many casualties: the year I spoiled the  chicken soup by putting hot matzoh balls into cold soup. Tip: this curdles the soup. Gary had to run to the Jewish deli for soup at the 11th hour that year. Or the time I dropped 2 dozen eggs in the driveway; very messy. But this year was pretty smooth. I did shatter both a tupperware of frozen soup (the soup survived) and one more crystal wine glass from my wedding registry (a miracle there are any left after 20-blah-blah years). Other than that is was smooth as silk.

Most important, I was surrounded by those I love. Sadly some were missing for out of state reasons, but we still had a great night.

And for the record, NO ONE cleans like Joanne!

 

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog.

For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Filed under family, food, holidays, religion

Jews on Christmas

washington_square_arch2smThere is a long standing custom amongst American Jews to eat chinese food and go to the movies on Christmas. We, however, have broken tradition and celebrate Hannukah tonight with the in-law sibs. (the picture above is from the bro-in-laws terrace. not a bad spot, huh?)

We had a traditional Hannukah dinner of…

Steamed lobsters and clams. 

Wait, not so kosher right? But they were delish. And for the vegetarians amongst us we ordered the chinese food so as not to seem like we were straying too far from the norm.

Tomorrow, our big fat Italian christmas with the best skinny girl cook in the zip code, Joanne. Can’t wait.

Happy Festivous to one and all.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at Mid-Century Modern Moms and at 50-Something Moms Blog.

For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Filed under carry a camera, family, holidays, New York City