Friday, December 25, 2009

1st Christmas Day on Duggan

The children are playing Sims Agents on the Wii. Radio 2's Christmas Day programming is playing on the computers - just waiting for the Messiah to start. I would have played the Tafelmusik recording that we made back in the 90s when I sang with the Tafelmusik chamber choir but I seem to have given away all my copies before burning one to our computer. I will clearly have to rectify this situation. I hope I can still buy a copy through the Tafelmusik head office since I haven't been able to track one down online.

At some point we'll go out for a while to deliver a present to their new best friend Bronwyn and chocolate liqueurs to Grandad - my 92 year old father. When we come home it's time to cook since Amnon and Alisa are coming for an early dinner. Eyal is planning on making a bean and escarole soup and a cheese fondue. Alisa is an inspired baker and cook and it always raises our game when we cook for her. Walnut Cream Roll is one of the amazing desserts she makes for us for very special occasions. When I tried to encourage her to add my birthday to that short list she quite rightly reminded me about the old adage about fishing. Were I to learn to bake this cake for myself I could have it any old time I want it!

Today is the day that I will tackle a Walnut Cream Roll for the first time. This is the recipe I will use. It's a combination of the recipe my MIL uses which she dictated to me from an Israeli cookbook that I can't read and a recipe I found at It turns out that she's been substituting Hazelnuts for Walnuts. Yet another reason for me to make this recipe for myself since I'm mildly allergic to Hazelnuts!

5 eggs (separate yolks and whites) 3/4 c. sugar 1/4 c. flour 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. vanilla 1 1/2 c. walnuts (chopped fine) 1/2 pt. whipping cream

Beat whites, salt, vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add sugar gradually, then set aside. Beat yolks until they look a lemon color. Combine chopped nuts and flour. Fold yolks into whites then fold in flour and nut mixture.

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Spread mixture evenly and bake at 375 for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove wax paper from roll and spread on a cloth that is sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar and roll up while the roll is still warm. This must be done immediately because it has to be kept moist otherwise it will crack. After it has cooled, mix the whipping cream, spread on roll and re-roll and keep enough whipping cream for the top and sides of the roll. Decorate the top with chocolate shavings. Keep in refrigerator until served. Makes one roll. Serves 9.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Feast

My brothers and sister and I grew up enjoying a "real Christmas dinner" served mid-afternoon just in time for us to take a break from playing with all our toys. Well into our adulthood we continued to gather together around a Christmas tree and a turkey to exchange presents and eat too much. As the years have gone by our Christmas traditions have fallen by the wayside. Chanukah and other Jewish celebrations have become more important to some of us, travel to visit distant relatives has become essential for others.

Yesterday my sister marked the "ninth" night of Chanukah with her annual Latke Flip. Dozens of friends and family crowded into her kitchen clamouring for latkes as her son Daniel stood at the stove frying them up hour after smokey hour.

Today the turkey I 'won' at Loblaws for spending $250 in one fell swoop is ready to go in the oven. Two stuffings have been prepared to bake beside it - the traditional stuffing (including sauteed turkey liver) and a vegetarian offering with toasted walnuts. A spicy broiled salmon will be available for those who aren't fans of turkey. My brother and sister and their families will be descending upon us in a few hours to help do it justice. I'm not going overboard on the side dishes because, as my husband and I always say, "nobody eats".

Yesterday I made the cranberry sauce. Usually we make jellied sauce over bartlett pears in honour of my Granny. This year I've switched to a whole cranberry recipe because I prefer it. I'm bracing for the chorus of disapproval.

Now it's time to start the mulled cranberry punch. I searched the internet for a recipe and this is what I've decided to try based on what I have in the house and the flavours that strike my fancy:

Cranberry-Raspberry cocktail
A touch of Red wine
cinnamon stick

My nephew Daniel will bring the cuisinart and some more potatoes and the flipping of latkes will continue. My sister in law and I will lead the family in the singing of Christmas carols, the children will play the Chanukah songs they learned this year and we hope that Daniel will spend some time getting reacquainted with the piano after his months away at University.

On Friday my sister Judy and I were moved to tears by the Petit Fours and Buche de Noel at Patachou and the memories they brought us of our mother. Cranberry sauce for Granny, a buche for Mummy, latkes for Bubbe - we wonder what traditions our children's children will carry on in our memory forty years from now.

Happy Holidays however you celebrate them and whatever traditions you treasure.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

Okay, I admit it, the garage sale did not happen. Instead of doing something new I reverted to my usual modus operandi with one small twist. I gave stuff away to family and friends, sold a couple of big ticket items through craigslist and word of mouth, and I've started listing things on freecycle again.

Oh how I love freecycle. I figure that anyone who is willing to take the Subway, walk or ride their bike across to town to pick up one or two Piano Primers deserves them!

There have been two small disappointments on the road to decluttering. We have each discovered that our treasures are not as valuable on the open market as they are to us. In the children's case it is the problem of what to do with their stuffies. Some toys and books can be given to smaller cousins but the kids were really hoping to make a small fortune from selling their huge collection of stuffed animals. Why, you ask, do they need so much cash? Didn't their mother already blog about their generous allowance? The answer, of course, is that they need more money to buy more stuffies! Perhaps if you were eight years old you would understand.

In the case of the grownups of the household the problem has been what to do with the hundreds of classical, jazz, world and alternative cds (every song's a treasure) in our collection once they've been burnt to the hard drive. The answer, yet again, is give them to nieces, nephews and siblings. The after market for used cds is just not what it used to be. And why were we hoping to receive this windfall from selling our cds? To buy more music on iTunes of course! Plus ca change!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Giving Thanks and Giving Back Garage Sale Saturday October 10th

As we prepare to move into our new home, and as we enter the season of Thanksgiving we realize that we are blessed by an overabundance of possessions. For a number of years our "Family Charity" has been the Therapeutic Clown Program at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, fondly referred to as Sick Kids. To quote Flylady we are going to Bless our home by getting rid of the things we don't need and Bless the Therapeutic Clowns by donating all the proceeds to their program.

Please consider digging through your closets and storerooms to help make this event a huge success. Contributions of furniture, pictures, books, cds, baked goods, toys, games, tchotchkes or anything else you'd like to get rid of will be welcomed at the old house until October 6th and at the new house starting October 7th.

Tell anyone you know who may be setting up a new home that we'll be selling lots of big ticket items: a dining room suite, couches, dressers, bookshelves, and hundreds of books and cds.

Come on out and see the new house and help support the Therapeutic Clowns.

See you on the 10th!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Celebrating Mishpochah

I was so touched and proud to hear that my beloved Auntie Eleanor has been reading and enjoying my blog. When one sends these rambling thoughts out into the ether there is no knowing who (if anyone) will show up.

What a wonderful word mishpochah is. I love the fact that there are a dozen different spellings, just as there are dozens of different ways people can be connected to you to count as part of your mishpochah.

Yesterday I attended the funeral of my cousin's cousin's mother. My Dad's sister's SIL. A woman who proudly laughed back in 1982 that her BIL's, BIL's, BIL's BIL and her BIL's, BIL's BIL had both won the Nobel Prize! The sweetheart who threw a wedding shower for me and my husband at The Stream, her gorgeous country retreat. Who invited me to sing at fundraisers and encouraged me to be active in her children's theatre company The Golden Horseshoe Players and her pet charity for Israeli children Birthday Angels.

The funeral, interment and shiva were all models of grace and dignity. The honour and love that everyone feels for Sharon, Larry and their whole family was palpable.

My cousin Nomi asked me to tell her what I saw and heard. At the shul I saw a little boy quietly and respectfully comforting his Dad. At the cemetery I saw many of Max's descendants striding through the beautiful Holy Blossom Memorial Park in search of his stone before heading back to the fancy stretch limo for the drive back to the shiva house. At the shiva I saw a nephew perched on the arm of his bereft Uncle's chair for a long quiet chat in the midst of all the laughing, talking and reminiscing.

I bumped into an old friend who I didn't even know knew the Enkins. But he is 'like us', and like them. And he and all the other friends who were there are part of their mishpochah.

I heard story after story of Sharon Enkin's goodness, determination, generosity and encouragement.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Must Be A Gemini

My interests shift and change. Gardening got me through last summer,designing and making charity quilts and Judaica was my passion over the winter. And now I am obsessed by tables, couches and colour as we prepare to move to our new home. Our lifetime home. The house is beautiful and old with a rich history (fitting since one of the present owners is named Rich). I'm told that the house was originally built on spec for Lawren Harris I feel a responsibility to the house and to my family to make it lovely and welcoming.

A simple colour scheme, comfortable furniture, a hidy hole for each of us to do our thing. For the children it will be their bedrooms and a room in the basement. I won't call it a playroom because they are big 8 year olds and have gotten rid of most of their toys. Emily is even ready to give away her American Girl. I persuaded her to keep it for a while so she can have something to play with when her AG obsessed friends come over to play. The main amenity of their room will be a comfy couch to sit on while they wait for their (short) turn on the wii.

Eyal will have his study. I see glossy teal walls, antique furniture and a Persian rug. He sees a lighter palette. The drama unfolds.

My studio will be on the second floor. I have claimed a longish room on an E/W axis with windows on each end. Light will stream in throughout the day. A welcome change after my years spent in the basement. But what will I do in my studio? What will my new obsession be? Truthfully I feel a pull back to music.

Which leads me to another room entirely. The living room is going to be heavenly. A grand piano, beautiful sofa and chairs and French doors leading to the garden. The music studio may call me away from the crafting studio for the next while. That is after the "Extreme Makeover" has happened, of course.

I lie in bed making lists in my head - this carpet needs to be pulled up, these built ins have to come out and the walls need to be replastered (or is it drywalled?), wallpaper needs to come down in several rooms. Almost the whole house will be painted. OK, let's say the whole house for argument's sake.

But soon it will all be done and we will relax and be home. And then I will open myself up fo the new obsessions to begin.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Artists For Change

I just joined Artists For Change a Kiva lending team.

You can go to Kiva's website and lend to someone across the globe who needs a loan for their business - like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks. Each loan has a picture of the entrepreneur, a description of their business and how they plan to use the loan so you know exactly how your money is being spent - and you get updates letting you know how the entrepreneur is going.

The best part is, when the entrepreneur pays back their loan you get your money back - and Kiva's loans are managed by microfinance institutions on the ground who have a lot of experience doing this, so you can trust that your money is being handled responsibly.

I just made a loan to an entrepreneur named SOPE MAME DIARRA THIOUNE II Group in Senegal. They still need another $400.00 to complete their loan request of $1,075.00 (you can loan as little as $25.00!). Help me get this entrepreneur off the ground by clicking on the link below to make a loan to SOPE MAME DIARRA THIOUNE II Group too:

It's finally easy to actually do something about poverty - using Kiva I know exactly who my money is loaned to and what they're using it for. And most of all, I know that I'm helping them build a
sustainable business that will provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate their family long after my loan is paid back.

Join me in changing the world - one loan at a time.


What others are saying about

'Revolutionising how donors and lenders in the US are connecting with small entrepreneurs in developing countries.'
-- BBC

'If you've got 25 bucks, a PC and a PayPal account, you've now got the wherewithal to be an international financier.'
-- CNN Money

'Smaller investors can make loans of as little as $25 to specific individual entrepreneurs through a service launched last fall by'
-- The Wall Street Journal

'An inexpensive feel-good investment opportunity...All loaned funds go directly to the applicants, and most loans are repaid in full.'
-- Entrepreneur Magazine

Friday, June 12, 2009

Better Late Than Never

This gorgeous Anniversary card was made for me by my darling husband using a soon to be released My 3D Scenes template. I love the way he has used these images from our life together. They bring back happy memories and make me look forward to the years of happiness we have ahead of us.

You can use the arrow buttons at the bottom of the picture to scroll around this 3D greeting card. Click on the Stevie Wonder album cover and you will hear the first song from our wedding June 9th, 1996.

Thank You Yalli, I Love You!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Woman of Valour

A difficult text. Don't analyze it. Just hear the love, the appreciation, the awe for what women accomplish. We can aspire to be everything that the words describe, and more. The postcards that I created with "A Woman of Valour" as my inspiration are almost ready to fly around the world. The creative effort has kept me rooted in my head for the last couple of months. It has been a time of dreaming and problem solving rather than my usual creative enterprise of sitting at my sewing machine for hour after hour.

First - fabric dye with sparkles sponged over a cut out of a woman's profile onto commercial cotton

Second - the fabric is pressed onto a 4 by 6 piece of Fast 2 Fuse (in some cases the base fabric is the portrait in many it is navy fabric with a crisscross Magen David pattern)

Third - on the cards with the Magen David fabric the portrait is machine appliqued

Fourth - a line of quilting to delineate the features

Fifth - remnants from cutting fat quarters are used to make the woman's hair

Sixth - fabric markers are used to enhance her features and to add symbols (Heart, Hamsa, Magen David) to some of the cards

Seventh - a white rectangle of fabric with these handwritten words is pressed to the back of each card :

Self Portrait as a Woman of Valour
Full of Beauty, Love and Imperfection.

Eighth - more fabric remnants are zigzagged around the edges to frame the card and hold the layers together

Ninth - make two more postcards because when I went to the address list I realized I was supposed to make fourteen of them!

As I worked on these cards I found myself relishing the flaws. The way the faces looked less and less real, threads dangling from the stitching and and from the fabric remnants. When I showed them to my family they saw some of them as masculine and had trouble seeing the face in some of them. I welcome this ambiguity.

From my Journal:

Self Portrait as a Woman of Valour

Each card is unique. Each has its own beauty and its own flaws, just as I do each time I look in the mirror. I am grateful to the author of this prayer and to our tradition which honours "women's work".

When I was in second year University a young man in my program felt empowered to classify the women he studied with as GW or not GW. I had the honour of being proclaimed not a GW - not a Good Woman. Sadly he was struck down by cancer before graduation so I never had the opportunity to speak to him as an adult about the injustice of his words.

With this series of postcards I am now reclaiming my place in the world as a GW "A Woman of Valour"!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A simple plan for controlling the "galloping gimmes"

Give your children a weekly allowance equal to one dollar per year of age - my children get $8.00 a week. This allowance is not dependent on good behaviour or the completion of chores. It is to help them earn the value of money, the importance of budgeting and the satisfaction that comes from making a purchase with their own money. Explain to them that their allowance and any other money they may receive will be allocated for the following purposes:

10% will go to charity - the children put theirs in Tzedakah Boxes
30% will go in the bank - I've actually bumped that part up a bit. Our bank transfers $5.00 per child per week to their own accounts.
30% will go in their wallets for bubblegum and bouncy balls
30% will go in their piggy banks to save up for something special like a Hamster!

Introducing Stripes

I don't know who was prouder at the pet store, me or Emily!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In honour of a small stone and my cousin Nomi

My garden is awake and ripe for enjoyment. The clematis vines are twining, the buds are forming on the strawberry plants, the furniture has found places to welcome and soothe us. The trees are leafing out to provide shade. Soon the vegetables will be planted and our garden will feed us food as well as beauty and relaxation.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Difference of Opinion

This morning in the Zohar household we are discussing rules. To be honest, when are rules not central to the Art of Parenting? What are the rules of engagement? Bedtime, hygiene, homework, meals, they're all governed by rules.

Today's point of contention is the Family Room coffee table. Remember when you put your feet on the table (not that any of us would ever do that) and your teacher asked, aghast, "Would you do that at home?"? Well in my house the answer is "Yes!". And my children would sit on the table and stand on the table even though they have been told since infancy that the household (and society's) "rule" is that we don't do any of those things.

My husband's position on this relatively minor infraction is "Lighten up Francis!" Mine is that we need to train our children that rules are never to be broken even if we don't understand the point.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Yogini and the Pea

Marlene always tells us not to let an errant prop touch us when we're doing a pose. "It'll drive you crazy" she says. I was painfully aware of this in my practice the other day. The slightest lump or bump in my own set up was unbearable. Let alone the excess props that kept creeping into my space.

Is this an idea that she put into my head or is there an essential truth here? I'm wondering if the visual and physical distractions of our day to day life could have a more profoundly disturbing effect on us than we give them credit for.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see that something is out of place in an almost empty space? When we empty our minds to meditate we notice the excess thoughts running around.

Simplify, simplify. Make sure your clothes are comfortable. Give your extra stuff away. Lorna's garage sale for the Ugandan Orphan's Fund is a great place to start.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Best Deal in the City

I'm so excited about the company that I've hired to do my planter and window boxes. This is the freebie that they planted and maintained throughout the winter to get me hooked. It worked!

Check out Pots and Plants (and tell them I sent you!).

The Compost Bin

The compost bin is filling up nicely. Last year was our first year of composting and the mix didn't ever get really hot. I'm hoping to create a better mix this year. Almost all of our kitchen scraps and all the bits and pieces of last year's garden have gone in so far. We've already almost completely eliminated our need to take our green bin to the curb. The only thing that still goes in there is pet waste and any fatty or meat based scraps.

The bin is still empty enough that it's easy to turn. I wonder what to do when it gets practically immovable like last year's was. I'd hate to have to have two bins on the go, but not as much as I hate having to throw things out! I've been wondering what else we could put into the bin to save it from going to the curb. Let's start with the paper egg cartons from the five dozen eggs I'm making for the seders! It seems I could even put in all those teeny tiny fabric scraps from my quilting projects if I wasn't going to use them to stuff doggies beds. There are lots of great lists online of little know compostables. Here's one and here's another.

Happy Composting!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Eggs and Bunnies

"Horticultural Design" on Bayview is one of my favourite florists, unfortunately they don't have a website to link to. I took a trip there today to pick up succulents to fill in the planter Alisa gave us for our Anniversary a number of years ago. While there I was inspired to buy some live moss to make a tabletop chachka terrarium garden. I don't know why Eyal gave me these bunny salt and pepper shakers but they look adorable in there. I added a couple of eggcups from the collection Judy started for me more than thirty-five years ago to fill out the display. I'm so glad to finally have a use for this cake plate! The people in my household who could use some extra calories (AKA the twins) won't eat cake, and the big people can do just fine without it!

On the mantle I placed a candle holder upside down over a Wedgewood plate from my mother's collection, another eggcup filled with some more moss, and a hand painted wooden egg.

On the piano I've placed a silver tray filled with the remnants of the eggcup collection. Sadly Eyal and I did not put enough effort into securing the custom made eggcup cabinet to the wall when we moved to Larchmont. It crashed to the floor breaking a large percentage of the eggcups soon after we hung it.

The owner of "Horticultural Design" says to put a little bit of rainwater on the moss when I don't see condensation on the dome. If the moss is going to thrive in there I'm going to have to think about changing up the display with the seasons. I'll have to find something red, white and blue to make a Canada Day/4th of July display and I'm looking forward to making a summer display with the western themed salt and pepper shakers that Rick and Kris brought us from Alberta.

Now that I've started decorating for Spring I'm going to have to find an excuse to invite people over. My house is too small to host a seder so we always go to my MIL for the first night and my sister for the second night. We usually head to my SIL's for a casual Easter brunch where the kids usually find something left for them by the Easter Bunny. Unfortunately Kris has to head out to Saskatchewan to look after her Mom for the next week or so. I hope Margaret is feeling better really soon!

I wonder if the Easter Bunny will know to hide a little something for the kids in our backyard this year if we invite my brother and a few others over for brunch on Sunday?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

More Signs of Spring. And probably more information than you bargained for!

Now that I'm in the mood to welcome Spring I thought I'd check out the deck off of our third floor to see what the raccoons had been up to. Our sleep is disturbed most nights by the sounds of them scuttling about above our heads. The wildlife company that we called in assures us that they have no access to our attic and that there really isn't much that we can do to deter them from traipsing over the raccoon highway every night on there way to some other poor soul's roof or attic.

But what about the feces on the doorstep and the daytime sleeping arrangements under the side table? Comfortable as it may seem we can no longer accommodate our friendly neighbourhood pests. Professional Wildlife Removal claims that raccoon repellents don't work. Trapping is only a temporary and expensive solution. Suggestions?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Darling Buds of April

No fooling! My garden has started to wake up. I'm loath to call what it just endured a nap. I wouldn't want to nap with three feet of snow on my head! Although I'm sure that that nice heavy blanket of snow was excellent insulation through the colder winter days. I always feel sorry for those first buds. I just know they are going to get frozen and thawed a bunch of times between now and that magical last frost day sometime towards the end of May.

My Aunt Ursula moved to a retirement complex in Hingham south of Boston last year. Even in June of her first season there her garden was spectacular! And she tells me she doesn't even get started in her garden until the end of May. How does she do it!!??

I've been struggling with this yard for six years now, and it's coming slowly, slowly. Part of the problem is that I've never really committed to being in this house for the long term (again I need to think what Ursula manages to accomplish in a couple of months).

It's so hard not to over do it in the garden this time of year. I think that's the true meaning of April Fool's Day! You think it's time to play in the garden, when it's really six weeks away still!!

I couldn't resist spending some time in the yard today though. I threw a bunch of stuff in the rolling compost bin I bought from Lee Valley Tools last year: the remains of last year's vegetable container garden, the kitchen scraps, some leaves. Tidied up miscellaneous balls and kids' toys that were scattered about the yard. And searched for the first signs of new life.

Welcome Spring!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

When is tired not just tired?

I had a lovely visit to the ER this morning. Note to self "9 am on a Thursday morning is an excellent time to visit the ER". I was in and out (with no diagnosis) by 10am. What it is not: contagious, life threatening, an allergic reaction. What it is: rashes, itching, swollen hands and feet, sore muscles and joints, tiredness, headaches, puffy face. So they've referred me to "Medicine" - I always find it hilarious when they tell you at the hospital that you need to be seen by Medicine. Isn't that why one goes to the hospital in the first place? While I wait for my appointment I'm encouraged to pop Tylenol and Benadryl for the symptoms and spend my spare time ruminating about what variation of autoimmune disease they're likely to test for. Hashimoto? Graves? Lupus? How fun is that!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tangential Thinking

Sometimes I get surfing and it takes me in new and interesting directions. Sometimes I make decisions based on these impromptu wanderings. Weeks or months later and can't fathom what took me there. One of those decisions took me to membership in SAQA. I'm pretty sure I joined up because I wanted my blog to be part of the SAQA webring. Why? Can't remember!

So far this membership is a mixed blessing. I'm loving the Journal - but then I'm a Textile Art Journal/magazine junkie. I love the information and encouragement. The scary part is self-identifying as an artist or Artist. I had just come to terms with calling myself an artisan. I even write that on forms under occupation sometimes, instead of SAHM which I find charming and yet somehow derogatory.

Artist has scary connotations of talent and vision that I'm not usually ready to embrace. What is the difference between a quilter and an Art quilter? What is the difference between an Art quilter and an Artist?

All these questions will be moot if I spend too much time surfing and blogging instead of working in my studio!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Weekend in the Life

Emily is sitting cross legged on her bed writing a story. She is using the lap desk that Sharon gave her (how many years ago?). Zachary is in his bedroom reading his Geronimo Stilton library book. "Mam, I need your help." I go to his room to explain what 'taunting' means. I'm curled up against the headboard. Coley (my thirteen year old Black Lab) has his head on my thigh. "Mama, how do you spell "How". How do you spell "Here"". I can't wait to read her story. It's the second one she's written this weekend.

The children have had a tremendous weekend.

Writing Stories (Zach for school, Emily for fun)
Revising Schoolwork
Playing 'baby monsters' with all the stuffies, the American Girl bed and the AG tent under the piano
Dance class
Soccer Skills (if only we could persuade Emily to participate - she's a natural)
Hebrew School
Lunch at 'Jerusalem'
Visiting Grandad
Pink Panther II (Eyal and the kids all gave it a Zero. Zach said "There was no funniness!")
Practicing Piano
Watching t.v.
Playing on the wii
Playing with their cousins

How would they answer the question "What did you do this weekend?"?

I was absent for much of the weekend, although it didn't feel that way since I stage managed so much of the children's activities.

Yesterday I took an all day (at least a couple of hours too long) Yoga workshop with Andy Orr to learn how to develop a home practice. Today I did my practice as soon as I woke up (after a crazy 11 hours of sleep). Had a lovely breakfast with Eyal and Pain Perdu after dropping the kids at school, blogged, went to my Yoga enrichment class where we discussed the Yoga sutras of Patanjali, had lunch with Eyal and the kids and went to visit my Dad, and finally had a three hour rehearsal of "Four Strong Winds" before returning home to a couple fo hours of homework, practicing, making dinner and an extended bedtime. And this is supposed to be the weekend!

I told Eyal today that our life is perfect (except for all the clutter).

I've sung the Sh'ma to Zachary. I'm waiting for Emily to finish writing and then I'm going downstairs to watch the Oscars with Eyal.

Slumdog Millionaire Rocks OK!

Searching for a name.

I'm pleased with this quilt so far. I'm pleased with the creative process. The way one idea led to another. the way it came together to honour the Bar Mitzvahs of Shlomo, and Simon, of our marriage and of my conversion to Judaism. It's being quilted by Sandy Lindal now. We spent an hour or so choosing and designing various patterns for the quilting of the concentric stars using the ideas of flames and flowing softness as our inspiration.

I had originally intended to make three of these quilts in a series. I would give one to Shlomo, one to Simon, and keep one for myself to enter in shows and to display for classes. Maybe I would make a fourth one to donate to my shul if they had a place they could display it. But as I worked, stitching triangle after triangle, I became too attached to this quilt. Zachary came downstairs a couple of times as I worked on it and asked if he could kiss it because he loves it so much! Emily would like to see it displayed on our dinner table but worries it might be damaged. I reassured her we could take it off before we set the table for dinner. All in all I'm not ready to part with it yet. I will take it to Kingston to offer as decoration for the hotel party room where Shlomo's Bar Mitzvah will be held if I have the binding sewn on in time. I'm intending to try to use a bright, bright turquoisy blue to be like the tips of flames. The quilt also got pretty big for a wall hanging, it's original intention. It's now 72 inches square (if it were square). Emily is very proud that it was her idea not to fill in the area between the points. I will add hanging triangles to each of the six points and buy thin, flat, light slats to keep it taught if I'm going to hang it on the wall. Simon and Shlomo will get smaller quilts made from some of the many extra triangles I cut.

But now I need a name. I was thinking of something in Yiddish since this first quilt would have been for our family's first native Yiddish speaker in at least a couple of generations. But then it started to be for Simon and for Eyal and my thirteenth wedding anniversary, and for the thirteenth anniversary of my conversion.

Suggestions so far are:

Heart of Judah
Yiddishe Kopf
Ah gute neshume
The Fire Within
My Path
The Rainbow Star
Magen Dovid
Mosaic of Love (or Fire)

Your suggestion here:

Thanks!! XOXO M

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jonesin' to Be a Late Bloomer

I dreamed of a post that I wanted to make today complete with photograph and headline. The problem with dreams is that they are by their very nature ephemeral. Instead I will have to write about an article from the Globe and Mail that caught my eye this morning.

Scratching the "Jones" Itch by Jonathan Pontell puts into words the feeling I've always had about being born a little too late to be a boomer and a little too early to be a member of Generation X. I won't start complaining about the ways I have always felt just a little too young or a little to old. Suffice it to say that Pontell gives me permission to be an idealistic late bloomer and for that I am grateful!

For more on Generation Jones check out his website.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Celebrations, visitations and lamentations

The fabulous 8th birthday is drawing to a close. The celebratory trip to NYC was a huge success - shopping for toys, visiting family, admiring the Art at MOMA and skating at Rockefeller Center were just a few of the highlights.

The party (that we said we weren't going to throw) was thrown and enjoyed by lots of family and a few friends. Wij the magician delighted and amazed everyone as we sat on quilts and cushions on the floor of my basement studio under Iyengar's beaming gaze.

The festivities continued today with visits to both schools. Emily's class was presenting their "Toy-seum" - a fabulous display of toys and games from the personal collections of the children in her Grade 2 class. I will return tomorrow to read "The Magic Toy Shop". It's her school's tradition to have a parent read a book to the class and then donate it to the library. We thought this book, which I have had since I was a kid, would be a perfect selection since they have been focusing on toys this year.

At Zachary's school he was able to share Clown cookies from Amazing Donuts - the nut free bakery - with his friends in honour of his birthday. His friend Jack's mom brought a gluten free treat for him so he would not be excluded from the celebrations. The times they are a changin'!

I dropped in on Zach's Music class to offer some Musical Theatre coaching for a song that they're preparing from Oliver! and then was given a tour of the Science Fair by a very excited Zachary. His project, with his good buddy Ben, was a Knex ferris wheel. They were very proud of the work they had put into it and were able to describe the potential, kinetic and momentum stages of energy that it displayed as the chairs went up and around.

After school they went to Yoga with Emily's best friend Calla, and then to dinner with their Zohar cousins for one last Birthday Hurrah! We whisked them home and threw them into bed a half hour past their bedtime after a discussion of the fact that bedtime will finally get to be moved later next year now that we're going to be sending them to school so much closer to home.

Spaking of changing schools, it has been a very sad day for me. I told the principal of Emily's school and the administrator of Zachary's school and many of our friends and family that we are moving them to our local public school next year. The decision was made particularly difficult by the wonderful learning demonstrated by both of their classes today.

Calla's Dad just called to let us know how sad his family is and to teasingly ask us to reconsider pulling the kids (or at least Emily) out of the private system next year. We believe that strong friendships will last and that this is the responsible decision for our family to make in this tough economic environment. But it doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Perfectly Busy Winter Day

I can hardly keep track of all the things we did today. Eyal had a lovely lie in while the kids went to Hebrew school and I indulged in a quietly solitary hour at Le Pain Quotidien.
I read the paper, ate organic oatmeal, drank organic coffee and chuckled softly to myself that the word 'organic' appeared in every menu item.

The kids were learning the Sh'ma today. Emily sang it for the whole class with a strong yet quiet pride. We sing it now as part of our bedtime routine and the children love it. If we ever forget to sing it with them they call us back to remind us.

I had to pick Emily up to go to a bowling birthday party, dashed into Cock-a-Doodle to pick up fabric for a Bar Mitzvah quilt idea I had (don't you love that relaxed, excited feeling you get when you have an idea on the hook?), ran home to quickly start playing with my fabric, picked up Zach, picked up Emily, went to Dufferin Grove to the temple skating party, ate lunch there at the lovely little "Zamboni Cafe", ran into Walmart, went to visit Granddad, and came home to relax for an hour before going to a Chinese New Years party at a friend's house.

Tired yet? I hope the kids can manage to stay relaxed and happy through the rest of this long but fun-filled day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Seriously Easy Craft

While blog surfing this morning (and into this afternoon, if I'm going to be completely honest) I got the idea to use craft punches and repetition to do a picture. Unfortunately I don't have the beautiful Martha Stewart butterfly punch that the blogger used for her picture and I've lost track of whose blog I found it on!!! The guilt is terrible.

These are the little frames I've made to decorate my sister's Gala Inauguration Breakfast Ball tomorrow morning. In other words a few friends and family gathered around the t.v. getting all weepy and generally mocking the proceedings in equal measures.

After the party Zachary can have them in his bedroom if he wants. I love the way they combine Canadian and American iconography.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Making a Jewish Museum

The kids are learning about making a museum in Hebrew school. They were asked to bring their parents and a Jewish object that is important to them and their families to school this morning.

Thinking about what to bring with us has been a great opportunity to take a mental inventory of what we have and what emotional connection we have to the objects that we surround ourselves with. The first thing that came to mind is the Tallit we used as a Chuppah for our wedding. First of all, it would be nice if we actually knew where it was! I hope Eyal didn't use it at shul some time and then leave it behind, thinking that he had borrowed it!

I wanted to bring the gorgeous and meaningful Ketubah that Eyal and I made ourselves at the time of our wedding. Eyal felt that that was too personal, and he was not comfortable with the idea of it leaving the house.

He suggested that we bring one of my Star of David quilts, the one that Emily is using for her American dolls. We'll also bring Zach's Shofar since he's been playing it since he was four years old. Neither Eyal nor I can get any sound at all out of it. I wonder if he'll turn out to be a trumpet player!

It really makes me think about objects I've seen in the Jewish Museum in New York City. Many of the families whose treasures are on display never had a choice whether the objects were too personal. They never had a chance to tell us their own stories.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Special Delivery

What a joy it was to deliver the first batch of quilts to the NICU yesterday. I know, I know, I said I was going to do it back in February but have you ever tried to park at a downtown hospital so you can just run in for a minute? Anyway, I had Eyal with me yesterday and we were able to find a meter right at the front door of Women's College Street (now known as Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre - now that's a mouthful), the hospital where I was born.

The doctors and nurses were thrilled to receive my gift of blankets for the newborns and took me in to see the gorgeous babies who would be getting this first bunch of quilts. The babies are so sweet all bundled up in their brightly covered receiving blankets, preemie hats and incubator covers. It looks like there are lots of busy volunteers making gifts for the babies to keep them warm and protected.

There are 42 NICU beds at Sunnybrook and Women's so I have my work cut out for me if I want to make quilts for all the babies who go through there! Any help would be very gratefully appreciated.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rise Up My Love

My song has made it to the shortlist of Obama's Play list over on CBC! You can help make sure that it gets onto the music sent to Obama in honour of his inauguration by heading over here to list B to cst your vote. Each person can vote once a day all week.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Yoga People

I must now learn how to add a photo from a website. Other people manage to highlight their favorite merchants all the time and I just haven't figured out how to do it. Please let me know if you know how.

At any rate, you must check out these yoga gingerbread people! They are beyond adorable and they look delicious too. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Obama's Playlist

Today I was finally inspired to suggest a piece for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's playlist of 49 pieces composed or performed by Canadians to send to Obama in honour of his inauguration. This is a copy of the email I sent:

"Healey Willan's "Rise Up My Love" piece is achingly beautiful. I fell in love with it when I first sang it in High School. I sing a snatch of it every year at our Passover seder table as we read the beautiful words of the Song of Songs. One of the highlights of my professional singing career was having the opportunity to meet the lovely and talented singer Kristine Anderson and introduce her to my brother. It was my honour to join a quartet of friends and family in singing this piece at their wedding. Imagining it being sung at my own funeral (an atypical choice, I'm sure) brings me solace. It is a heavenly piece that represents Canada's rich Choral tradition. And I don't doubt that Obama, as a deeply spiritual Christian who is clearly deeply in love with his wife probably appreciates the beautiful poetry of the Song of Songs."

I hope you'll give it a listen and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

David S. Avert Your Gaze

Your quilt is ready and (almost) on its way. David is an old friend, colleague and travel buddy who was kind enough to sign up to be one of the first followers of this blog. He asked me to make a quilt that made me think of him. I answered that the best I could do was to think of him 'while' I made the quilt and maybe when he got it it would make him think of me! He accused me of taking the easy way out!

I used up scraps from my black and white challenge quilt and added some Christmas fabric I received at our Guild Christmas party.

So David Think of me
think of me fondly, when
you get your quilt
remember me
once in a while, please
promise me no guilt

We never said
our love for Mickey was
as unchanging as the sea
but please promise me,
that sometimes
you will think of me

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Freecycle Fabric Windfall

Debbie of Blankets for Canada was kind enough to drop off three bags of fabric when she picked up the scrapbooking magazines I was getting rid of. I also took the opportunity to pass on the red and white preemie hats I made a couple of years ago when I thought I was going to send them to Afghanistan. But that's another story. I hope the hats help to keep some sweet babies warm this winter and I hope Debbie finds the magazines inspirational.

Although I promised to make "snuggly uglies" with the fabric she dropped off I've been thinking that it would be a great idea to use some of the fabric to make morsbags to put the stuff that I give away on freecycle into. I haven't made any yet but the instructions for how to make them are terrific.

I'm so pleased to be taking part in this blogger version of Pay It Forward! Here's the deal as far as I can tell: Caroline has committed to send me and two other players a handmade gift sometime in the next 365 days. I am now committed to send gifts to three players who will each in turn commit to make and send gifts to three more players within 365 days of signing up. Sound like fun? Leave me a comment, link to this post, add the Pay It Forward button to your blog, and sign up your three players. It's as simple as that.

Happy New Year

The seasonal decorations have been put away. The treats are (mostly) eaten. The resolutions have been made. The children are (almost) ready to go back to school. Now what?

Tomorrow I will begin my Yoga training in earnest, in hopes that it will help me decide if I am going to start the three year Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training in September. I love to teach and I love yoga. What I don't love is school, science and memorization. I'm a little terrified of alll those Sanskrit terms, and all the anatomy. I even set myself the task of learning the Invocation to Patanjali to get my brain in shape over the holidays and I think I may have mastered line one! Hold on let me check... nope.

My problem with memorization presented huge challenges for me as a professional singer, as you can imagine. I was in awe of those singers who could be 'off book' after a couple of rehearsals, when I was still making memory errors in pieces I had sung for years. It makes me want to cry as I think about it. Unfortunately I've forgotten what I did with all the self-help "Learn to Remember Anything" books that I used to buy. What I found hilarious was that you were supposed to remember a bunch of mnemonic tricks to help you remember all the other stuff in your life better. As if somebody like me would be able to remember the tricks!

In an effort to be grateful and to look at the bright side of things I will admit that I learn concepts quickly and that I have good instincts when it comes to teaching. As my Mom would say "If I put my mind to it, I can do anything."