Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My cousin is famous!!

Sorry if you don't understand Russian, but my cousin made it to a news spot on a Russian station while he is traveling through the country.  He's Sam at the end of the story (and the guy on the screen you see before you hit play).  Neat-o!!!

FYI - the report is about a new trend in tourism - "couch surfing" - where people stay in strangers' homes while traveling, and it's not so much about saving money as much as it is about learning about other cultures and really embedding oneself in a new culture and environment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Something Special Tuesday - on Wednesday...

Yes yes yes, I know - it's Wednesday.  But - here's what I've got for you:

Something yummy:  Last Friday night was our Tex-Mex Shabbat.  This was the menu:
taco soup - devoured - obviously, I highly recommend
chips & salsa & guacamole
brisket tacos - made up of warmed tortillas, Sour Supreme non-dairy cream cheese, cilantro, diced tomatoes
Mexican rice - courtesy of a friend who shared her family recipe
Fajita veggies - peppers and onions sauteed with a whole lot of taco seasoning
I also made chicken drumsticks and chicken breast with taco seasoning in case someone wanted chicken.
And - watermelon for dessert.
It was - AMAZING!!

Something crafty:  I still need to make those Shabbat counselor tags for my synagogue's Mini Minyan, but for Thanksgiving, we're going to do some fun Thanksgiving-related crafty edibles.  Hopefully I'll snag some pics and post them.

Something financial:  Well - I just WON a giveaway on a blog!!!!  That rocks!!!  Thanks Kosher on a Budget!!

Something spiritual:  It's Thanksgiving, and I love seeing people get together with family and friends and share a special meal and memories.  But - what makes me sad is that apparently people do this so infrequently?  We are so fortunate to celebrate Shabbat every week, with its Thanksgiving-style meals, and we do surround ourselves with family and friends every week, so while I love Thanksgiving and how fun it is and all of the food, personally, I give thanks that I do this every week no matter what, and I don't have to wait for a special date on the calendar to give thanks for what I have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A true Thanksgiving tale

(insert heart-warming story just in time for Thanksgiving)

A friend of mine had been looking for work for a long, long time. She was an extremely experienced executive secretary who needed a career change, but ultimately what she wanted to do was to pursue her true passion – performing. She had performed before and continued to perform but not regularly, and while she dreamed big, she needed a regular job and a stable income. So she decided that she had enough of her stable job and she quit to try making it on her passion.

How many of us leave what we know in order to pursue our dreams and move into the unknown? She had GUMPTION.

And she did it – she taught and sang, but it wasn’t enough, and she realized that she needed that stable income as a foundation. Unfortunately, the economy tanked and as we all know, it just wasn’t the best time to look for a job.

But she persevered – she looked and looked.

How many of us DON’T let challenges knock us down?

Another friend of mine got a contract position within my organization, and that gave me an idea – why don’t my friend (the subject of our story) apply and maybe she too can get a contract position?

I made a couple of calls and eventually my friend was interviewed, oriented, and placed in a temporary position.

Last week she called me and said they offered her a permanent position.

I can’t remember the last time I was so thrilled (pregnancies aside). In this economy, knowing how many people are out there looking for work – my friend got a job, close to home, in a new industry where she can learn, that compensates better than her old job – wow. Just wow.

What does this teach us? Patience, faith, networking – belief that Hashem has it all mapped out for us, even if we have to wait a bit.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kitchen kapers

I've been having fun in the kitchen lately.

Two Sundays ago I was with my niece and nephews and for dinner we made homemade corn dogs.  The ingredients were everything we had on hand and the recipe came together easily.  The kids had a great time dunking the hot do-on-a stick into the batter and at first I was doubtful it would have any flavor, but it ended up to be extremely tasty and a crowd pleaser.  The 3 year olds happily ate theirs (I suppose anything on a stick is exciting!) and the 12 year olds literally gobbled up theirs, and made more.

Will definitely make again.  Poor husband didn't get any!

This past Sunday my husband and I were productive in the morning which gave us some "free time" in the afternoon where we could do something enjoyable that is not home improvement-related.  My husband had a super idea of making soft pretzels with our bread machine, so we called our niece and nephews to join in.  Everyone had a BLAST making the pretzels (it was quite a production) and every last pretzel was eaten (I got maybe half of one). 

We made two kinds: cinnamon sugar (the darker one) and salted (will use coarser salt than kosher salt next time).  Again - totally repeatable item.

Starbucks Buy One Get One Free Deal - Holiday Promotion!

 I want to be sure all of my readers are well aware of this nice promotion so you can treat yourself and a special person with some relaxing seasonal refreshment!  The deal runs November 18-21 from 2-5 pm.  Although in Houston it's not quite as cold as this image above portrays, while drinking something with peppermint, if you close your eyes and position yourself just right in front of the air conditioning, you could imagine yourself in a place that requires a layer heavier than a sweater.  Just maybe...

Of course, check the kosher status of the drinks before heading out there...check here or here.

Thanks Houston on the Cheap & Kosher on a Budget!

Something Special Tuesday: 11/15 edition

Ok - sorry that I haven't posted anything recently.  There were some other things in my life I had to attend to (like sleep, for example, since a certain son of mine recently decided that 5 am is a good time to wake up).

In honor of Tuesday, here are some special things:

Something yummy:  Here's a personal confession.  Tonight was Manwich night, and there was nothing gourmet about it!  I took the easy way out and knew that it would make my husband happy, so I sauteed some yummy ground beef and poured in the can.  Didn't even make any vegetables to go along with it (although the can does promote the full serving of veggies inside the sauce), although I did serve the saucy beef with brown rice and sliced up a tomato.  Could I have done better?  Probably.  But I was in and out of the kitchen and everyone was just happy tonight.

Something crafty:  My synagogue is starting a new Shabbat morning children's program and we have a few older kids who may find the program itself too "baby-ish" for them, but may instead want to help out.  The committee named them "Shabbat counselors" and I volunteered to make large name tags for them.  I need to go to a shop to find some pretty paper.  I'll post a photo once I'm done with it.  I hope the girls like them!

Something financial:  This is semi-financial - I discovered (courtesy of Orthonomics) a new blog that is RIGHT up my alley!  Please welcome KosheronaBudget.com!!  This is THE blog I would write if I could, so I am thrilled that someone else did!  I am adding this one to my blogroll!

Something spiritual:  I haven't read anything online that is particularly spiritually moving but I did start learning a how-to book on keeping kosher with a long-distance friend of mine.  The process of learning with her by phone has been spiritually motivating for me, and it completely lifts the rest of my day.  It's also a great way to catch up with her that email and online chat can't really fit the bill.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How to not eat

I just came home from a work function which was held in the local science museum and featured lots of tempting food choices.  I say tempting because, as someone who adopted a kosher lifestyle several years ago, the possibility of eating out is still very tempting. 

Eating only kosher food is a very strategic process, if you think about it.  First of all, there is the whole meat/milk separation.  Beyond that, there's the waiting time in between meat and milk.  Beyond that is the idea of kosher/non-kosher food.  This is where it's possible to create some murkiness.  It's possible to rationalize by saying that one can eat the fruit, or eat the breadstick or dinner roll, or enjoy the salad bar, or the ultimate - enjoy dessert.  It's possible.

But if you want to just avoid the temptation completely, just eat something with meat beforehand.  That's it.  That puts a lid on everything.  Eating meat means I won't be able to eat anything with dairy, and that rules out pretty much everything (since I should assume that desserts and sauces are made with dairy ingredients).  Fruit and the salad bar are still an option, but if you're already avoiding everything else, you may as well avoid everything, and besides, if you're eating out, would you really choose the salad bar?

So, if you want to be strategic about your eating, go the kosher route.  It forces you to think about dinner when you're about to have lunch, and snacks are an entire microcosm of strategic kosher eating.  I'm definitely not saying that kosher means healthy, but it does bring food to the forefront of our consciousness.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Missing a pair of shoes *UPDATED*

**UPDATE:  Shoes were located under the bed.  Of course.**

Help!  I am not sure how this happened but I am missing a lovely pair of black, wedge-heel shoes.  I scoured all of the obvious places in my house, but no shoe has turned up.  I'd be ok if I had one shoe and couldn't find the other, but I'm missing both.  Weird.

It's not as exciting as our lost cheese story, but still, if you happen to find my shoes, please let me know!