Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday...Or "Why Frankie Can't Get His Job Done"...

There was, as every year, a lot of hoopla on the blogs about Black Friday. As usual, some of my favorite writers made me laugh, cringe, snicker and groan. Members of my family did participate in the melee festivities and did quite well, but since I'm a blogger and spend far too much a lot of my time on the internet, I thought I'd wait until what is familiarly known as CyberMonday and blog about that instead.
I discovered something very interesting today about CyberMonday that I hadn't heard previously and I thought I'd share it with you. Do you know how CyberMonday came about? Several years ago, online retailers noticed a second spike in sales following Black Friday on the Monday immediately following. But why Monday, you might wonder... Apparently, buyers were waiting until they got to work following the weekend, to take advantage of the faster broadband internet at work as opposed to the then-more-common dial-up service that was the norm in most homes. Though most people now have broadband at home, this now traditional online shopping day has stuck in our culture.
Which brings me to my next thought. I find it interesting what people choose to do "surfing"-wise from work and from home. Many people check my blog only from work, which is why my stats tend to 'dip' over the weekend.
It's hard to get a good idea of what is really going on with people at work, ever since that guy got fired for spending 500+ hours in a six month period at work on Facebook, but I think we can all make certain deductions.
So to all you CyberMonday shoppers..... GET BACK TO WORK!!!!

(But first post your best deals in my comments section so we can all share in the joy of shopping in our pajamas ;) )

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

See You On Shabbos

I want to share with you the inception of a wonderful new website called See You On Shabbos.
See You On Shabbos describes itself as "a free and safe Jewish hospitality site which helps match guests with host families from around the world". It is a website that dedicates itself to bringing together prospective Shabbos hosts, who wish to share the beauty and joy of their Shabbos experience, and individuals looking to partake in a Shabbos experience.
It is user friendly and it is easy to jump right in and set up your profile as either a host or a guest. Please be patient as the site gets itself off the ground... not all features are 100% up and running yet, but they should be soon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ruby Tuesday - Out My Apartment Window

I've learned in any "crisis" situation (not merely fires or the seeming threat thereof...) to judge the severity of the incident, not by the light and sirens, but by the speed at which those in charge are moving. (This is sort of like the credo that whatever scary noise you hear or turbulence you feel on an airplane, there's no reason to panic as long as the flight attendants are still milling about serving drinks...).
This was the scene outside my apartment window on Sunday night. I still do not know what the commotion was all about, but I can tell you that these two trucks arrived with great fanfare and screaming sirens. Several burly firemen climbed out and proceeded to have what I might describe as a "water cooler conversation" for several minutes. They then climbed back in to their trucks and drove off.
Disaster averted.

See more Ruby Tuesday photos with a little or a lot of red in them here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Who Will Be The Next Blogger To Take The Plunge?

Regular readers of the comment section of my blog will be quite familiar with efrex. His insightful, humorous and often educational comments are an eagerly awaited complement to my posts. There have been those (not I!!) who have said that his comments are too wordy. Well, suffice it to say, I have found the way to render efrex speechless - and it comes in the form of two adorable small boys who can easily dominate the table conversation over and above their father Smiley Faces.

We had the great pleasure of having efrex, The Lovely Wife (tm) and their two young sons, along with Mr. Hollywood at our Friday night table this week.

I always knew we had a lot in common. We both consider ourselves "foodies". We both enjoy musical theater (although only one of us is obsessed....). We have similar ideology on certain aspects of Torah Im Derech Eretz. But Wait! There's more!!! Who knew that efrex's family, like ours, has the minhag to wash before kiddush on Friday night? But the crowning glory in this "separated at birth scenario" would be the discovery that The Lovely Wife (tm) doesn't stack her dishes either! Granted, she has a reason and I merely have an illness can't bring myself to do it, but the similarity is jarring nonetheless.

For those who are curious, I did manage to coax efrex into singing the entire verse of Harvey and Sheila (very, very impressive) and was even treated to a "bonus track" of efrex singing a "laugh out loud" song by Allan Sherman parodying Gilbert and Sullivan's "When I Was A Lad".

I think we've found new a "must have" addition to our annual talent night!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Poetry

My father ז''ל loved the work of Don Marquis.

For the uninitiated, archy is a cockroach and free verse poet, who roams the newspaper offices of the The New York Evening Sun after everybody has gone for the day. He wrote by hurling himself headfirst onto the keys of an old fashioned typewriter. Hence, no caps. (Until the day he inadvertently landed on the CAPS LOCK key, but that's for another time...)

Here's one of my favorite selections:

the lesson of the moth

By Don Marquis, in "archy and mehitabel," 1927

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm An Educated Consumer With A Twisted Mind

Without putting myself in the category of those people who check the obituaries first thing every morning (to make sure that they are not listed there, of course), I need to share with you the sad news that Sy Syms passed away at the age of 83.

I don't know why - and I hope it doesn't seem insensitive - but the song "The Ballad of Harry Lewis" is the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard the news and I cannot seem to get it out. I mean that as the highest compliment.

(By the way, the musical theater reference (Can Allan Sherman be considered musical theater?) is in NO WAY a reflection of the fact that we are gearing up to have efrex, The Lovely Wife(tm) & Co. for Dinner on Friday night.......)

{Rhapsody seems to be "buggy" this morning so I'm including the lyrics here for those who aren't well versed in the joys of Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah ;)}

Song Lyrics:
(Parody of "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic")
I'm singing you the ballad
Of a great man of the cloth
His name was Harry Lewis
And he worked for Irving Roth

He died while cutting velvet
On a hot July the 4th
But his cloth goes shining on

Glory, glory Harry Lewis
Glory, glory Harry Lewis
Glory, glory Harry Lewis
His cloth goes shining on

Oh Harry Lewis perished
In the service of his Lord
He was trampling through the warehouse
Where the drapes of Roth are stored

He had the finest funeral
The union could afford
And his cloth goes shining on

Glory, glory Harry Lewis
Glory, glory Harry Lewis
Glory, glory Harry Lewis
His cloth goes shining on

Although a fire was raging
Harry stood by his machine
And when the firemen broke in
They discovered him between

A pile of roasted Dacron
And some french fried gabardine
His cloth goes shining on

Glory, glory Harry Lewis
Glory, glory Harry Lewis
Glory, glory Harry Lewis
His cloth goes shining on

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Letting Somebody Else Rant For a Change...

There's a very interesting piece over at about parents who cannot seem to manage regular school tuition, suddenly being able to lay out exorbitant sums for Israeli seminary fees.

The writer makes a cogent point, though my objections go even earlier in the "game". Why are we letting these seminaries bilk us for usurious application fees, never mind the ridiculously steep tuitions, all the while subtly perpetrating the myth that only girls who go to Israel for seminary will get the "good" shidduchim (if the others get a guy at all)?

I've often joked that I was going to start up a new "seminary" of my own. I'll charge upwards of $100 in non-refundable application fees, collect vast sums of money and reject every single girl who applies (I'll be the most selective and therefore the most sought after institution!). I'll live from year to year on the application fees alone.

While I fully understand that seminaries feel the need to charge application fees to limit the number of girls who apply and choose not to attend, I say that some countermeasures would be fair. Supposing we say that all application fees from students who are subsequently accepted are non-refundable, regardless of which institution they end out attending. But girls who are rejected, should have their checks refunded.

In addition, the perpetration of the myth that the Israeli year is the only way to ensure a "suitable" shidduch for a girl and equally as offensive that this is a girl's "right" (the same feeling of entitlement causes parents to literally go broke outfitting their young kollel couple's apartments with all sorts of luxuries) is what keeps all these seminaries in the booming (apparently recession-proof) business that they are in, while bankrupting parents and creating ridiculous amounts of stress on our girls (Have you ever seen these girls when the seminary acceptance envelopes begin arriving in the mail??!?).

When do we stand up and say enough is enough?

Good Chodesh Everyone

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

French Onion Soup - The Conclusion

For those of you who just "joined the class", a few weeks ago I splurged at Amazing Savings on some bowls for French Onion Soup.
Between finding the time to tovel them, getting caught up in Jennifer's Bas Mitzvah and assorted other activities, I only got around to making the soup this weekend. Thanks to my friend (internet friend, not "eyeball friend") Brian, moderator of the Jewish Food Mailing List, I received a crash course in how to make the perfect onion soup. Hint: It has nothing to do with onion soup mix of any kind. Brian told me that the secret is the slow, painfully slow caramelizing of pounds and pounds of onions and he was spot on!

After three (!!!) hours my onions had taken on a rich brown color and amazing sweetness. The only additional spices needed were a little salt and pepper. A nice piece of crusty bread and my soup was finally ready for some cheese and a quick visit to the oven.

The finished product tasted as good as it looked ... and there were no bridge tolls involved ;)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On Aveilus and Purses....

I went to a wedding last night without Avram. It was the first big simcha to fall in his ovel year, which precludes his attendance.

While I love a good simcha, I really hate going without my husband. I know what you're thinking... "What does it matter with separate seating?".

First of all, I'm not averse to meeting my husband in the common areas during the stiletto-stomping portion of the evening and spending a little quality time together trying to be heard over the blaring music.

Secondly, I've lost the fun of wending my way to the kitchen to interrogate the cook about all of my husband's unusual food allergens (why he doesn't do this himself - - - that's another post entirely). I can now say hazelnuts and cumin in three languages.

But lastly, and most importantly - I abhor having to take a purse with me. For goodness sakes, that's why I got married in the first place!!!! (Bad4Shidduchim has an ongoing series entitled "Reason #___ for Getting Married". She should totally include this one). I've lost a place to keep my lipstick and brush and all the other little things I never, EVER use during the course of the evening but must bring along anyway and have been forced to shlep along a purse which becomes a big liability during dancing. And you know how much I love the *dancing*.....

Who Doesn't Love a Giveaway Contest?

Hadassah over at In the Pink has a free giveaway contest going on.
You can win a free gift from
The rules may be a little complicated, but watching you all scramble is fun for Hadassah and we know she's a bit bored with her husband currently 333 (3,000 sounds so much better) miles away Smiley Faces. So go - entertain her a bit - enter her contest!

Monday, November 9, 2009

You Got That Right!

OK, I know that I should be posting about our wonderful Shabbos company and Jennifer's Bas Mitzvah celebration (which turned out even better than we imagined it would), but I'm a little overwhelmed now and I will try to return and update you on those topics shortly.

Just a tidbit for tonight....

All the whirlwind activity (see above), coupled with the fact that a few of my friends/co-workers haven't been feeling too well of late, and the fact that I'm swamped at work, have left me feeling a bit drained. Therefore, when I popped into our local Duane Reade drugstore on my way home from my workout this evening, I was uncontrollably drawn to the chocolate display. I really needed a pick me up and I seldom splurge this way especially on the way home from the gym but that's another sad story. I guiltily grabbed a favorite of mine (ok, ok, and another one I've never tried that was on SALE, for goodness sakes.... you can't very well pass up a sale on gourmet chocolate, can you???) and then set out to find the items on my original list.

I was still feeling a bit sinful when I approached the checkout counter, until I noticed a sign (advertising the store's new line of snack foods) posted at the front of the store that completely validated me (Now I'm sorry that I didn't take my camera with me because I couldn't find an image of the sign on line).
The sign said:

"Sometimes what you need to feel better isn't at the pharmacy counter"

You got that right!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hang In There... Bas Mitzvah Shabbos Is Coming

Today is my "baby"'s Bas Mitzvah.
Good Shabbos to all!

(All those who didn't come help me peel potatoes before Shabbos, can still make up for it by coming and helping me cook tons of pasta on Motzoei Shabbos in preparation for the party.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

When It Rains, It Pours....

Yes, yes, I know Parshas Noach is done and gone, but I'm referring to Shabbos guests, not liquid precipitation.
We haven't had a table so full that we had to turn away guests since Succos but this week... wow! Where did everybody come from? Did somebody put out a classified ad for guests in our name? We are expecting a full house with old friends and new guests in attendance and we had to make rain check arrangements for the overflow.

I'll be serving my Lox Quiche as an appetizer and since it's been a while since I shared a recipe with you, I thought I'd include one now:

Lox Quiche

2-3 onions -- sliced into rings
garlic powder -- to taste
1 large package lox
dill -- to taste
4 eggs
1 cup parve "milk" (coffee rich, soy milk)
1/2 cup hot water
4 Tablespoons flour
2 pie shells -- unbaked

Sauté onions in a bit of oil. Add garlic powder.

Place lox, dill and onions into pie shell. G6 Tip: Lay the lox down smoothly first and then weigh it down with the onions. Otherwise it will float to the top during baking and dry out.
Whisk eggs, "milk", water and flour together. Pour on top. Sprinkle with additional dill.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes - 1 hour.

This recipe freezes very well.

There will of course be more traditional fare, including my awesome potato kugel.
So who's coming to help me peel potatoes?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shidduch Request - Seeking Havdalah Girl....... ;)

Nice Jewish Family seeks new "Havdalah Girl"......

Havdalah this past Motzoei Shabbos was much quieter than usual. Oh, sure! There were the usual "quick draw" games as to who can blow out the spare candle (that's a whole other post... Does anybody else out there have the minhag to light an extra candle during Havdalah?) first. But something, or rather someONE was obviously missing. Where was the laughter? Where were the exclamations of "cool" and "awesome!"?

Our dear friend and sometimes commenter Louisa got married in Berlin (!!!) this past Sunday. We were not able to attend her nuptuals but thanks to Eric we received hourly photo updates and it looked like a beautiful simcha.

The truth is, Louisa is completely irreplaceable. Her simchas chayim coupled with her devotion and respect for her adopted community was a joy to behold. Her new community is very lucky to have her join their ranks.

So to our dear Louisa and Jehoschua we say:
Zu Ihrer Hochzeit wünschen wir Ihnen von ganzem Herzen masel tow und alles Gute für eine glückliche Zeit zusammen. Mögen Sie ein vorbildliches und freudiges Haus aufbauen.

(On the occasion of your wedding we would like to wish you mazel tov and all the best for a happy life together. May you build an exemplary and happy home.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I'd Rather Be Indignant....

Some people read my blog for the recipes. Some people read my blog for the homey feeling they get. Some people read my blog for the humor or the nostalgia factor. Others avidly read my blog for the occasional rant that slips out.
I don't think there is a problem with ranting.
I think there is a bigger problem when people STOP ranting.
I've discovered that there IS something worse than being indignant - BEING APATHETIC.

Indifference and apathy are far and away worse than exasperation.
People around me have been piqued lately about several issues. For a moment I was indifferent. And then when I had that realization, I got very sad.........

How do we stop this tidal wave of indifference?