Construction Tool Belt Favors!

These were so much fun to make and simple to assemble once you prepare all the items!

Here’s what you need:

  • Tool belts from here. (I folded the ties behind and folded it again in half)
  • The aleph beis cookies were bought in NY and looked like these
  • The Shabbos themed stickers were these
  • The rulers were from here and I used my label maker to print the quote.
  • The pencils were purchased and personalized from here
  • The plastic adhesive bags were purchased from here (I used a 2 x 3″ for the chocolate tool and approx. a 4 x 6 for the cookies)
  • The tags were designed on this site and were these
  • The chocolate tools were these

Use glue dots to stick the cookie packets and the chocolate tool packets to the stickers so they don’t slide down into the tool belt.

Happy fun favors for cute little kids!

Rustic Style Upshernish!

A rustic styled upshernish met the theme of the evening “Ki Ha Adam Eitz Hasadeh” (a man is compared to  the tree in the field).

Pictured above is the set up for our son to give tzedakah and for each guest to take the scissors and cut a piece of hair. This was arranged on a bar stool which was adjacent to the chair that Shmuel was standing on.

The tzedakah box was custom made from Etsy – you can request that the truck of your choice be made with a ‘charity’ box, with the back of the truck designed to lift to allow the coins to be taken out.

Etsy link is HERE.

The wooden rounds are from http://www.michaels.com and the moss was purchased locally.

Belgian Spice Cookies!

These spice cookies are insanely addictive! The absolute perfect combination of spice! Not overly sweet and absolutely perfect with a cup of tea!

Belgian Spice Cookies (from http://www.cooksillustrated.com)

1½ cups (7½ ounces) all-purpose flour

5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground cloves (I did not have any, so I replaced it with Pumpkin Pie Spice)

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup (6 ounces) turbinado sugar

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled (I used Earth Balance margarine)

1 large egg

For the proper flavor, we strongly recommend using turbinado sugar (commonly sold as Sugar in the Raw). If you can’t find it, use ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 ounces) of packed light brown sugar and skip the sugar grinding in step 2. In step 3, use a rolling pin and a combination of rolling and a smearing motion to form a rectangle. If the dough spreads beyond the rectangle, trim it and use the scraps to fill in the corners; then, replace the parchment and continue to roll. Do not use cookie molds or an embossed rolling pin for these cookies; they will not hold decorations.

1. Whisk flour, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Using pencil and ruler, draw 10 by 12-inch rectangle in center of each of 2 large sheets of parchment paper, crisscrossing lines at corners. (Use crisscrosses to help line up top and bottom sheets as dough is rolled.)

2. Process sugar in food processor for 30 seconds (some grains will be smaller than granulated sugar; others will be larger). Add butter and process until uniform mass forms and no large pieces of butter are visible, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add egg and process until smooth and paste-like, about 10 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture and process until no dry flour remains but mixture remains crumbly, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

3. Transfer dough to bowl and knead gently with spatula until uniform and smooth, about 10 seconds. Place 1 piece of parchment on counter with pencil side facing down (you should be able to see rectangle through paper). Place dough in center of marked rectangle and press into 6 by 9-inch rectangle. Place second sheet of parchment over dough, with pencil side facing up, so dough is in center of marked rectangle. Using pencil marks as guide, use rolling pin and bench scraper to shape dough into 10 by 12-inch rectangle of even 3/8-inch thickness. Transfer dough with parchment to rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 1½ hours (or freeze for 30 minutes). (Rolled dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 5 days.)

4. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower‑middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment. Transfer chilled dough to counter. Gently peel off top layer of parchment from dough. Using fluted pastry wheel (or sharp knife or pizza cutter) and ruler, trim off rounded edges of dough that extend over marked edges of 10 by 12-inch rectangle. Cut dough lengthwise into 8 equal strips about 1¼ inches wide. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 equal pieces about 3 inches long. Transfer cookies to prepared sheets, spacing them at least ½ inch apart. Bake until cookies are lightly and evenly browned, 30 to 32 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool completely on sheets, about 20 minutes. (Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.)

 

Enjoy!

Spice Up Your Havdallah!

This past summer, I helped coordinate a Northern California Shabbaton for Shluchim. It was a most incredible three days of camaraderie and unity, complete with delicious food, pampering details and inspiring workshops.

An aromatic addition to Havdallah at the end of Shabbos were these personalized ‘bsomim’ (spice packages). In fact, this was so simple and easy to make, I would definitely consider using this idea for our community events and programs on a Motzei Shabbos.

All you need is the beautiful Harney and Sons tea bag (sold in bulk online here ). The flavor to choose is the Hot Cinnamon Spice which has cloves and cinnamon in it. The tea bags are beautiful and can be used as a take home favor after Havdallah for a delicious hot cup of comfort!

You can stick any label to the end of the string with your personal message!

The ones I used were small round labels from http://www.evermine.com. Simply place two labels back to back over the end of the string.

Wishing everyone a Good Shabbos!

Delicious Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread!

Yesterday was one of those cozy rainy days where all I wanted to do was bake, filling my home with the incredible smells of delicious comfort foods.

I have been looking for a healthy whole wheat sandwich bread that is easy and relatively quick to make, so yesterday when I found this recipe from http://www.smittenkitchen.com I knew it would be a good one.

Below is the recipe with my notes to share, and all I can say is that you will definitely be making this one again. It’s perfect for toasting and then topping with peanut butter or keep it fresh with slices of avocado and tomato. It’s the perfect canvas for all sandwich creativity!

Oat and Wheat Sandwich Bread

Smitten Kitchen: Link to original recipe
Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

The dough is quite forgiving; use more water if you want to skip the milk, or use a soy milk. Use more sugar or salt, use less. Forget what you’re doing and it will forgive you if it rises a little too long. Accidentally leave it in the fridge for the better part of a week and it will taste even better than if you’d baked it on the first day, growing more flavorful with age.

Yield: 2 standard sandwich bread loaves

5 cups (635 grams) whole-wheat flour
2 cups (160 grams) rolled oats (smitten kitchen used quick-cooking for the least noticable texture, however I used regular old fashioned oats).
1 tablespoon kosher or coarse salt (I used kosher)
3 tablespoons raw or brown sugar, honey or agave nectar (I used brown sugar)
1 large egg
1/4 cup (55 grams grams) vegetable or olive oil, plus a little more to coat bowl (I used canola oil)
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk, any kind (I used coconut milk from the carton, not canned)
1 1/2 tablespoons (about 14 grams) instant yeast

Make bread dough: In the bottom of large mixing bowl, combine water, milk and sugar or honey, then stir in yeast. Add egg and oil and whisk until combined. Add flour, oats and salt and if mixing with a machine, combine with paddle attachment at the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for 1 minute. The dough will be wet and coarse; do not fret. Let it rest for 5 minutes.

If using a mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix the dough on medium-low for 2 more minutes. By hand, do the same with your spoon. The dough will seem firm and more smooth, ideally supple and sticky, but if it’s still very wet, add a bit more flour, a spoonful at a time. If it seems excessively stiff, add a little more water, a spoonful at a time. Continue to mix with dough hook or by hand for 4 minutes.

Scrape dough out onto lightly floured counter. Knead a few times, then form the dough into a ball. Oil your empty mixing bowl and return dough to it. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature for 60 to 70 minutes, or until doubled in buik or transfer to the fridge and let it ferment overnight or up to 5 days. If proofing in the fridge, remove the dough before the fridge about 3 hours before you plan to bake it.

Form loaves: [Edited to add:] Lightly coat two standard loaf pans with oil, butter or a nonstick spray. Turn dough onto a floured counter and divide it into two equal pieces. Press each gently into a rough rectangle-ish shape. Fold in sides so that the first dough is roughly the width of your prepared bread loaf pan (about 9 inches). Roll from bottom to top and then put this log into your bread loaf pan, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough. Let proof at room temperature for about an hour, or until the dough has crowned 1 inch above the rim of the baking pan. Halfway through, heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake bread: For 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pans once for even color. A cooked loaf of bread will sound a bit hollow when tapped and the internal temperature should read 190 degrees F. Remove loaves from tins and let cool on a rack. If you’re planning to freeze bread, I like to let it cool completely before slicing it, then sliding the sliced loaf into freezer bags.

Enjoy!

Are There Blog Posts Up in Heaven?

Tonight marks the 9th Yartzeit (anniversary of passing) of my dear father Shmuel Tzvi ben Yosef a”h. This blog was lovingly created in his memory. May all the creativity in these pages bring him much nachas, as shluchim around the world, bring their communities close to yiddishkeit (Judaism) through meaningful, creative experiences full of laughter, love and chayus. IN LOVING MEMORY – a tribute to the father I love with all my heart and soul. (This photo was taken about 14 years ago, holding my daughter Chaya, age 2)

There is so much more I want to share with you, as every day turns to night…

and every night turns to dawn.

The ache in my heart has only become more painful and I am now certain that ‘time’ does not heal.

I want to talk to you. I want to laugh with you.

And mostly I want to live life with you.

The memories mix into my day…ingredients that I cannot live without.

I can pour milk into a bowl of cereal and the tears well up in my eyes.

Just like that. Soggy cheerios and salty tears. All at once.

I know you would love to see my kids now…you would so much enjoy their smiles, laughs and their budding personalities…

And it stings…

so badly.

I talk to you all day…but it’s lonely with your silent reply.

I day dream of sunny days in my yard with you sipping a cup of black tea…

just watching the kids play.

I think of how much you would enjoy chatting with all of us and I imagine what it would be like if you wouldn’t have died.

I wonder.

And I remember.

I flip through pages and pages of what we call ‘time’ in the album of life.

The moments and memories become a collage, and that becomes my day.

Photos of nostalgia plaster my page all while living in the moment.

Embellished with sounds, scents, laughter and living.

Recognizing the emptiness and filling it with as much comfort as I can gather, and with as much strength as I can muster.

Loving more, living more, being grateful for.

A testimony to how you raised me with that sparkle in your eye.

And on this day I have not buried you.

I never did. And never will.

Alive in every part of my life.

Soggy cheerios and salty tears.

And all.

BROOKLYN – A PROJECT OF CHABAD OF MILL VALLEY

Dear Friends,

I know it has been a while. A very long while. In fact it has been over six months since my last post, sharing the exciting news of the birth of our new baby.

I am grateful for all that has transpired in these past few months, the laughter, the spills, the mess, the sleepless nights, the piles of laundry and the incredible beauty that a new baby adds to the family and home.

I am also grateful to share with you another ‘addition’ to our family that just opened up a mere four weeks ago.

BROOKLYN – A Project of Chabad of Mill Valley.

We have moved into a retail space to host our programs and classes while at the same time we have filled a need in the community and have combined this Chabad space with a high end Judaica Boutique store – the first of it’s kind!

Above are just a few photos that showcase how we designed the space, a large dining table for classes with plenty room to add tables and chairs. The ‘Shabbos table’ is my demo table, set to show some of our products for sale and inspire others to bring a taste of Shabbos into their own home.

The shelves that hold our products are set up according to color so that the ‘look’ is neat and clean and pleasing to look at.

We have a full coffee and tea bar with a couch nearby to relax and enjoy a Jewish book or conversation…we wanted to create a sense of warmth and community…

As we say…this is not just a store…but rather a story. A story about building community.

We have a gift wrap bar cart to make gift giving beautiful with our unique packaging…and yes…this was one of my favorite parts of designing BROOKLYN!

And the name…. BROOKLYN…..you may wonder why, but the answer is quite simple.

BROOKLYN  is a city everyone knows. And everyone either loves someone or something in BROOKLYN. Either an old sweet Bubby, a friendly Zeidy, a slice of Babka or a NY style Deli Sandwich….

The list is endless and so too at BROOKLYN.

Chabad – the place you can find it all.

So, welcome to a new page in our chapter…

Where creativity takes on a whole new look.

I can’t wait to share it all with you!