Thursday, March 31, 2011

What is the Montessori Method?

Our kids attend a montessori preschool and we love it, but I have to admit that I'm still not able to 100% answer the question above.  What exactly is the Montessori method of education?

I do know that I was intrigued by the method that after my initial school tour, I went to the library and found the biography of Maria Montessori and I read the first part of it.

This coming Monday - April 4th - a guest speaker will come to explain what the method is all about and how it works.  If you are interested, I suggest you come check it out!

Here are the details:
Date: Monday April 4th
When: 7 pm
Where: Mr. and Mrs. Ken Freedman's home @ 4300 Mildred Street, 77401
Speaker: Dr. Elisabeth Coe, principal and founder of School of the Woods Montessori Middle and High School and Executive Director of the houston Montessori Center.

Dr. Mitchell Bard at the JCC tonight!

Join Dr. Mitchell Bard tonight (March 31) at the JCC for a special lecture on the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (stupid) movement against Israel.  Here are the details:
The Center for Jewish Living and Learning at the Jewish Community Center of Houston presents The Vilification and De-legitimization of Israel, Thursday, March 31 at 8:00 p.m.  Join us for a lecture with guest speaker Dr. Mitchell Bard, author of The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America's Interests in the Middle East.
The boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement is focused largely on college campuses, but it is especially nefarious because it is one element of a broader global campaign aimed at the delegitimization of Zionism and, ultimately, the elimination of Israel. The BDS campaign is also a fight about freedom of speech that seeks to stifle academic exchanges and trade with Israel and to claim for its adherents' rights it denies to Israel and its defenders.
Join Dr. Bard as he addresses the history of the BDS movement and how the Jewish community should respond.
This lecture is offered in partnership between the Jewish Community Center and Congregation Beth Yeshurun.
 The JCC is located at 5601 S. Braeswood, Houston 77096.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today is a BIG day!!

There is a stupid worldwide movement trending right now to boycott Israeli-made products, I guess to weaken Israel's economy and destroy it that way.

Um - ok.  I guess those people can stop using Google search, online chat, cell phones, mammograms, voice mail, thumb drives (USB flash), oh - and they can stop eating cherry tomatoes because all those things have their origins in Israel.  (Who knew?  Check out here and here.)

So while they're busy doing that - what we need to do is go BIG!!  BUY ISRAELI GOODS!!

Today - March 30 - go out to your local stores and buy Israeli goods.  Find the store manager - thank them personally for carrying those products and that you appreciate them not capitulating to the idiots out there.

Here are some ideas for local goods:
  • Yes To products (beauty, skincare) - found at Walgreens
  • Gottex (swimwear) - Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Dillard's, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom
  • Victoria's Secret (lingerie) - lots of their products are manufactured in Israel - who knew?
  • Keter (home storage, hardware) - Home Depot, Costco (I saw it there a few weeks ago)
  • AHAVA & Mineral Care (Dead Sea skincare) - Marshall's, Sears, Sephora
  • Wine - Beldens, Kroger, maybe Spec's
  • Food - Costco (Israeli Feta), Beldens, HEB, Kroger, Randalls - this should be an easy one
This is just a beginner's list.  Check out the BIG website - even though Houston isn't listed, you can click through the categories for the other cities/regions and look at Israeli brands that are sold in the chain stores we all have.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Busy this week

I'll be lucky if I post anything this week (besides this) because this is a busy week for me, both at work and personally.  My nephew will be called to the Torah for the first time this coming Shabbat and we're hosting the Shabbat lunch at our house, and the next day is my synagogue's annual gala with which we're fairly involved, so I'll be stretched thin.

Nonetheless, I'll most appreciate it if you can leave me any detox-ifying recipes in the comments in my previous post.  We really need to enter spring with a "clean" slate!!

Thanks in advance!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Post-Purim, pre-Pesach detox

With the weather turning beautiful, and our plans for our summer trip to Israel underway, and with my closet being restored to its walk-in self, I feel the urge to detox.  Not in the "colon cleanse" kind of way (that's hardcore), but definitely move towards a more healthy, clean living.  I want to be outdoors (maybe my lovely office view is to blame), I want to move and walk, and I want to eat clean.  I'm not sure what "eat clean" means, but I feel like my body needs something more simple than the current fare.

So - this is a general call-out for your favorite clean-living recipes.  Recipes that are more plant-based and grain-based, as opposed to meat-based (not that we eat a lot of meat during the week, fortunately!).  For example, I want more recipes that use quinoa, tofu, vegetables, etc - but also recipes that don't require a lot of cooking or baking or processing.

I get inspiration from the Gluten-Free Goddess, but I'd like you to share with me your favorite *simple* recipes.  I like crunchy salads, fish, light soups, sandwiches.  Anything dairy.  Simple desserts.

Thanks in advance!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Purim Song #2 - fresh from Israel...

Check out this video - by students from Ein Prat in Israel...

Happy Purim!! Here's the song of the day for you...

Fresh off their success with the 2010 Chanukah song of the year, here is "the" Purim song of 2011 from the Maccabeats:

Happy Purim everyone!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Getting ready for Pesach with new sponges!

Just in time for Pesach cleaning, 3M - the makers of Scotch tape and Post-It Notes - have come out with a high-value coupon for sponges.  Click here for the coupon and since the coupon comes from the manufacturer's own website, you can print and use as many as you like!

Thanks Money Saving Mom!

Final hours: Purim Challenge - you give cans, I give cash

REMINDER - we're now in the last few hours of the Purim Challenge and I want to challenge my readers to give what they can to the needy...and remember that for every can donated, I will give 10 cents to Yad please follow the instructions here and may we all have a freilichen Purim and go from strength to strength!!

Thank you Houston!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Light will always outshine the darkness

This weekend, we saw the awful destruction that both man and nature can create.

In Japan - the earthquake, the tsunami(s?), the possible nuclear meltdown, the chaos - the sheer uncertainty of life.

In Israel - a family shattered forever, on Shabbat during their sleep - what is supposed to be the most secure time in one's week.

One destruction by the hand of nature, one destruction by the hand of man.

I keep thinking - there is no way the news can get worse.  I've been thinking this for a few years now, as the news headlines have become more outrageous.  Economic collapse, horrible crimes, political revolutions, natural disasters - every time I read a headline, I think:  this is it.  Mashaich just has to come because I can't imagine how much more insane the headlines have to get.

And yet, the next day, the sun shines.  It always shines.  It always rises and shines and makes the sky look pretty and the flowers open and the birds chirp.  Always.

That teaches us a lesson.  It teaches us that to dispel darkness, we must give light.  This is what Chabad teaches.  When times seem to be the most dark - when things look the most bleak to you, that is when you must give light to the world.  Goodness.  Hope.  Faith.  Acts of kindness and charity.  It's what got the 33 Chilean miners through.  It's what Little Orphan Annie sings about.  It's what gets us through our darkest moments - that hope for a better future, that things will turn around, and we will see the light. 

So do what you can, please, to bring forth more light into this world.  Light candles on Friday night, or give charity in honor of Purim, or share an unsolicited kind word about someone.  Do what you can to increase the light.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hadag Nachash - in Houston - this Sunday!

Hadag Nachash comes to Houston on their way over to Austin's South by Southwest Festival to play at Warehouse Live on Sunday night March 13!!!

If you've never seen them perform, get ready - they are excellent performers!!

Back when we lived in Pennsylvania, my husband was able to bring the band to our college town and that's when we really became familiar with their music.  Hebrew knowledge is a huge plus since many of their songs are in Hebrew - but it's ok if Hebrew isn't your strong suit; they give a great concert.

For more information about the band, check out this article and you can buy tickets here.

Drop me a line if you go!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A modern take on an ancient way of saying "no"

This post, while originally developed a while ago, is inspired by this post.

Everyone is well aware that our world is a 24/7 world.  Not that it wasn't before, but technology has allowed us to be in perpetual motion, with live-streaming everything, on-demand everything, instant access to everything, even to the point of impacting geopolitics.  The 9-5 job - a total relic of a by-gone era - is no longer a funny thing of our past, but now it's practically the norm to work on vacations (if you're lucky enough to take any) and check work email on weekends.

Moms have pressures of looking great, being green, signing kids up for the latest classes, volunteering here, there, and everywhere, and menu-planning has even taken on a life of its own.

How can you make it stop?

So our Torah - with its timeless wisdom revealed in each letter - offers a solution, a time-tested technique used by G-d Himself.  Even G-d had to stop and say no.  It's called Shabbat (our 7th day).  Heard of it?

Shabbat is our chance to say no, to stop that cycle of perpetual motion.  So much has been written about the beauty of Shabbat, how Shabbat has kept the Jews more than the Jews have kept it - all of that is great.  And now, when there is so much discussion about the art of saying no and how do you limit your activities to only your priorities and how do you SCHEDULE IN quality time with your familiy...Shabbat offers us a way to say no.  So simple. 

It's not our decision that we can't this or that on Shabbat, I can't, it's ShabbatI can't do anything about that.

I can't check email on Shabbat.  I can't go to that party on Shabbat.  I can't volunteer for that on Shabbat.  I can't go to the store on Shabbat.  Even better - you don't have an excuse - the decision was made for you - it is just your reality.  You get to say no, and you say it with confidence, because no one can say anything to convince you otherwise.

So then the result is that you have one day a week where you don't check your email and you can't come in to the office to finish the project and you can't volunteer and you just say no - and you stop.  And breathe.

And that is your anchor.  Knowing that you have a whole 25-hour period where - since you don't have the "noise" of the external obligations - you can focus on what you TRULY prioritize, that is a blessing, you get re-energized and refreshed so that when Shabbat is over, you can spend the next 6 days doing what you need to do, and knowing that every week, no matter what, we set the table for Shabbat.*

*This line is a quote fron a children's Shabbat book my kids have, the title escapes me now.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Before and After: Organizing shoes

Recently I got sick and tired of seeing this every single day in my closet:
That, ladies and gentlemen, are my shoes piled up inside my closet.  Ridiculous.  Ironically enough, they didn't start off that way.  You can see on the left hand side one of those shoe organizing racks where you just slip the shoes on...guess what - they don't work!
Those cheap-o shoe racks really don't work for shoes with heels because the shoes are hard to retrieve...they don't work for sandals because sandals don't always have something you can slip on...they don't work for you end up with this pile on the floor!!  It drove me crazy!!

I found the solution in Costco.  It's a 3-tier shelf made of bamboo (eco-friendly!) that has shelves with slats you place your shoes (or anything else) on.  It took me about 5 minutes to put it together, about 5 minutes to purge my shoe collection and identify the trash/donate piles, and I have a lifetime of enjoyment of being able to walk into my closet and practically dance with all the space I gained.

LOOK AT THAT!!!  The new shelf is on the left hand side.  The old shoe rack is on the right hand side, in my donation pile.

Amazingly, by organizing my shoes, I now realize that I need new shoes...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What are you doing on Sunday March 6?

*UPDATE:  I added the JCC event below**

If you haven't made plans yet, I suggest you get cracking.

Apparently March 6 is THE DAY in Houston for organizations to plan something.  It's enough to make you want to go out and get a personal assistant to help you manage it all.

A list of events for you (I'm sure I'm leaving something out...):
  • Jewish Kids in the Kitchen (JKIK) Purim activity @ Meyerland Minyan
  • PJ Library Story Time @ 10:30 am (more details on the Community Calendar on the Federation website)
  • Hats with Heart!  A new event to find new-to-you ladies' hats and raise funds for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society @ 3-5 pm - for more information, email
  • Aishel House annual benefit concert featuring Yehudah Glantz
  • Jewish Baker 3-part series in conjunction with JCC's Center for Jewish Living and Learning, with Naomi Malakoff, at UOS.  More information and RSVP here.
Make your plans now!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Purim Challenge: You give cans. I give cash.

**UPDATE:  This challenge will be extended through tomorrow, just to have one more opportunity day for a mitzvah!!  Please give what you can!!**

Matanot L'Evyonim - one of the major mitzvot of Purim but sometimes overlooked.  This is the mitzvah where, even though we go crazy with our celebrations, we ALWAYS remember those who are needy among us and we GIVE.

Kosher on a Budget is challenging her fellow bloggers to raise the profile of this mitzvah, and with your help, I know that Houston will rise to the challenge.

Here's how it will work:  For every non-perishable food item that you donate between now and Ta'anit Esther (March 17), Houston Ima will donate 10 cents to Yad Sarah in Israel, up to $200.

Yad Sarah is an incredible organization in Israel that is dedicated to assisting homebound individuals to make life easier, serving the disabled, the elderly, and the sick, all provided free or at minimal cost by an enormous network of volunteers.  My aunt (z"l) was a beneficiary and the work they do is mindblowing.  Visit their website to get a feel of the services they provide.

Give as generously as your budget (or pantry) will allow, and leave a comment on this post with the number of items you donated AND leave a comment on the original Kosher on a Budget post.

In local grocery stores, we have a network of "red barrels" to help you donate to the Houston Food Bank.  Or, you can donate to your pantry or organization of your choice.

Thank you, Houston!