Thursday, December 31, 2009

Playing with GIMP

So, I recently re-downloaded GIMP because I heard that they had made the features a little more user friendly and I was beginning to get a little more savvy with image editing software. Well, I decided, for fun, to edit a picture I had on hand just to try it out. I removed undereye bags, whitened teeth, got rid of some blemishes and fixed the eyebrows.

The Original:

The Edited Version:

Thoughts? Comments?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some notes on my first real decade...

This past week, it very suddenly came to my attention that we are about to end a decade. Granted, this is based on the Christian/solar/Gregorian calendar, so for us Jew-folk it doesn't really mean a whole lot. But it's still kind of fascinating to me for two big reasons: 1) The close of this decade has us all looking back over the past ten years to pick out the cultural phenomena that will come to be known as the markings of the 2000's (Like big hair in the 80's, or the rock and roll of the 60's). 2) This past decade has really been one of enormous change for me, and probably for anyone else in my age group.

First, let's discuss the cultural phenomena. I recently (and when I say recently, I mean within the past week or so) have become acquainted with the concept of "memes." Meme is defined in Wiktionary as "Any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another." It is commonly used to refer to viral internet cultural materials. Things like LOLCats, the Numa Numa guy, and All Your Base. (For more information on various memes, I recommend checking out Rocketboom.) It's these internet memes that I think really represent everything that has defined the past decade. This may not be something to be proud of, but I still think it's true. The rapidity with which these little tidbits managed to spread is a direct result of the changes in communications technologies over the past 10 years, and the content is also incredibly representative of our current culture. The impact that the internet and all of it's components have had on the world is astronomical. Social networking sites like myspace and Facebook have completely changed the nature of interpersonal relationships, and sites like Youtube have revolutionized the way we express ourselves. I think people are going to look back on the aughts as the age of "Lulz."

Now on to me. This past decade I went from being 12 to being 22. I'd say that has to be one of the most important transitional stages of human life, and I guess I kind of see the upcoming new year as being the end of that transition. 10 years ago, I had just switched to Bais Yaakov Middle School and was trying to recreate myself from the little girl that got made fun of in elementary school. Maybe that's the mission I set out on when Y2K came around and the world didn't end. I like to think I was pretty successful. When I compare my life now (stable, married, and satisfied with some good solid friends) to who I was then (lonely, desperate for acceptance and depressed with low self-esteem) I can't believe how far I've come. I'm pretty proud of the person I've become, of the life I've chosen and of the things I've accomplished. I'm incredibly grateful for the immense number of brachos I've been given, from my wonderful, loving husband to my incredible supportive friends and family. From my comfortable apartment (even if it isn't technically mine) to all of the luxuries I get to enjoy on a daily basis (like central heating). And the distance I've come religiously is no small thing either. I'm so thankful that I was able to clear my head a few years ago and realize the incongruities in the way I was living my life. I'm even more thankful that G-d gave me the personal strength and the outside support (in the form of family, friends and that oh-so-wonderful husband) that I needed to make the changes that I had to make to become who I am today.

So all in all, it's been a pretty interesting decade and I'm pretty eager to see what the next one has in store for me. I'm hoping it will include things like graduating college, having kids and getting "real" jobs that pay salaries and offer benefits. (Mmmm...benefits...) Maybe I'll move to Israel. Maybe I'll win the lottery. Maybe I'll change the world. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Children Aren't Alright

Sometimes I get these rude awakenings. These moments where I'm suddenly reminded that I'm really just a kid and that I'm terrified. They come when I suddenly have to face an adult problem, like not having enough money to pay my bills. It ambushes me when I'm confronted with the unknown and it shakes me to my core. Suddenly, I feel this need to crawl into bed and pretend I'm 10 and that mommy and daddy will take care of everything. But of course, that doesn't work. Because mommy and daddy can't take care of everything, only some things. And when I finally creep out from under the covers with bloodshot eyes and tear-stained cheeks, I discover all of my problems just as I'd left them. They all come rushing at me, even the ones I'd managed to temporarily push out of my mind before.

So what's the best way to deal with these problems? The things that I can only wait out and hope everything turns out okay?

Window-shopping therapy, of course. Sometimes it just helps to walk around with a good friend, looking in windows, trying every perfume in the store, and letting yourself have a little adventure. Window-shopping therapy can also be followed by an hour and a half of traffic escapades with Pandora. There's a lot to be said for distraction. All the problems may still be there when you get back, but they seem to get smaller somehow, at least for the time-being. So, to one of my dearest friends, and fellow adventurer, thank you for being there. I owe you one. :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Well, we've got well over a foot of snow here and are expecting another 5-10 inches overnight. I adore snow, so I took a lot of pleasure in sitting in the warmth of my parents' house and watching it come down. After shabbos, we decided it would be simpler to walk home then to dig out their car and get a ride. Luckily, my parents felt so guilty for making us walk that they let us raid the pantry and pick out some things to enjoy when we got home. I grabbed a box of brownie mix, some bags of popcorn, a whole chicken (for tomorrow night?), a bottle of soda and some frozen soups.

The walk home was fun. I've always loved walking in the snow, especially when I'm all bundled up and warm. Some of the drifts were as tall as I am, and I felt this strong need to linger and take in the beauty of the, as yet, untouched snow. Yaakov wasn't in such a lingering mood, though, so we trudged on. I wished I had my camera with me. Smooth, freshly fallen snow has a distinct calming, serene quality, not to mention the hollow silence that tends to accompany it. When I was younger, I used to love to go outside when it was snowing and just lay down and stare up at the gently falling flakes, letting them gather on my lashes. It truly is one of the simple pleasures of life.

On our walk home, we encountered a small group of Israelis who were having a blast in the snow and asked us to take a picture of them. We asked if they'd ever seen snow, and they said, "Yes, many times. But every time it is a blessing and we love it."

All in all, snow is a wonderful long as you have nowhere to go. If you can just relax and take it all in with a cup of hot chocolate, you've got it made.

About two years ago, when Yaakov and I were newlyweds (more so then now) we had a day off of school and work because of some snow. It wasn't anywhere near what we have today, but it was enough to close school as I recall. I wanted to play outside but Yaakov wanted to stay in. After a bit, Yaakov got up and said, "Wait in the bedroom and don't come out until I say you can." When he called me out, he'd opened up the curtain on our back window and moved our dining room table so that it was facing it. He'd lit candles and set up several stuffed bunnies around the table. He'd also made popcorn and Tradition soups, and we proceeded to have a nice dinner watching the snow come down. :)

Another favorite snowstorm of mine was many years ago when I got together with several friends to play around in the snow. I don't know that it would be appropriate to recount some of the goings on of that day, but suffice it to say, it was a really fun day which culminated in cold fingers and hot chocolate.

To anyone reading, what's YOUR favorite snow story?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just another manic Tuesday...

So, a little over a month ago I bought myself an external tablet for my laptop. It's a Genius brand tablet with a pretty big work space and it works very nicely. It came with a photo editing software from Corel that I tried to play around with but found very confusing as someone with no experience. So, I started trying to find some decent art freeware and after doing a bit of research, I stumbled on Artweaver. It's a very impressive piece of software which has all of the best drawing features of Photoshop (a large array of brush types, shapes, textures, etc) but in a much simpler to use form. Unlike GIMP, Artweaver gives you a straightforward setup that even a novice like myself can quickly figure out. So far, I'm really enjoying it and have been able to get started on my web comic. Hopefully, once I've made more than a dozen or so comics, I'm going to set up a website and start posting them. Yay!

In other news, food! Yes, I made latkes twice so far this Chanuka. The first I made on erev shabbos at my parents house. I grated the potatoes instead of shredding them and they came okay, but not spectacular. Then, tonight I made another batch, this time shredding the potatoes and they came out yummy and crispy and everything that potato latkes are meant to be.

Now, I'm lying in my bed and relaxing away my horrible back pain. Yay! :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ok, I was supposed to post by this past Sunday and didn't. Sorry to all of my avid readers! (All two of you.) Nothing very interesting has been going on. The challahs I baked a couple weeks ago came out delicious and I'm definitely going to make them again in a week or so. This time, though, I'm going to make them smaller so I can have more of them.

In other news, my semester is soon to be over. I have my final next Thursday and today was my last day of class. Woot! Following this, I've got a few weeks with no school so I can hopefully get some more work hours in, or at least get some other things done in the free time. Then, on January 17th, it's off to Israel for my brother's wedding (which will be in B'nai B'rak on January 25th.) I went to the dress gemach last night and found a really gorgeous purple dress that looks very nice on me. I just need to get it taken out in the shoulders so I can move my arms. I was surprised how quickly and easily I found something there. Now all I need are shoes and maybe some earrings. In all likelihood, I'll just wear a pair of earrings that I already have, but maybe I'll peek around Target to see if they have anything nice.

In possibly more boring news, I've been working on a Thomas Kinkade 3D puzzle all week. I'm almost done with it, but I think a piece might be missing. I really dislike the puzzle because the pieces don't fit well together and the 3D thing makes it hard to see what's on the pieces. Anyway, it's almost done and then I can take a picture and take it apart and start on another one. It's times like these I wish I had better hobbies. :o\

Well, that's all I've got for tonight. Happy Chanukkah everyone!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Baking Day

I woke up this morning in the mood to bake. At first, I was just planning to make some pizza dough from a recipe my friend Talia gave me, then I decided I would take this Sunday afternoon to make a large batch of challahs made from the simple recipe in Taste of Challah by Tamar Ansh. I also thought this would be a great opportunity to use my mixer, since it's supposed to be able to handle serious dough. Long story short, it couldn't. It did well doing the initial mixing, but as I added more flour, the machine suddenly stopped. It overheated. While on "Stir." Granted, this recipe uses 16 cups of flour. Still, I had more confidence in my mixer than it deserved and I feel let down. Oh well. I had to do the rest of the kneading by hand, which wasn't so bad because I had my trusty assistant, Diana, to help out. She was an immense help after everything had risen and we needed to roll out the dough. She's quite skilled with a rolling pin, if I do say so. The challah came out very yummy (I gave Diana one and we decided to take a taste of it) and I highly recommend it.

While the challahs were going through their final rising, we whipped up that pizza dough (very quick, very easy) and made 4 calzones which came out very tasty. I filled them with ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese and filled 2 of them with sauteed mushrooms and onions and the other 2 with sauteed spinach and onions.

So now I'm exhausted and my kitchen is a mess, but it was certainly fun. Thanks for playing, Diana! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Food and More Shopping

This past week was a pretty nice one. It had the usual work and school, but it also had the Macy's one day sale, which I went to Wednesday night with my mother. I originally went to look for a new coat. Now, I happen to own a large number of sweatshirts, and I own 3 coats and a rain jacket, all of which are incorrectly sized. Well, one coat fits, but it's falling apart (though honestly, I bought it when I was in 9th grade for about $10, so I'm surprised how long it did hold up). The second coat is huge, and is actually a men's puffy coat that I bought in Israel. It's actually a really nice coat, but style-wise, it's not really my thing anymore. The third coat is my shabbos coat and it's really long and really warm and bulky. The rain coat is way too big. So, I got this new coat on sale, and I'm loving it. It fits properly, it goes down to my knees and it's feminine and waterproof. All the best qualities of a good coat.

Anyway, naturally, I ended up buying a few other things, because who can resist a 75% off rack, really?

Following this shopping expedition, I wrote a one page paper all about how shopping makes me feel awake and happy, and I handed it in the next day. I don't know yet if I got credit for it. Here's hoping!

This shabbos was nice. Yaakov and I went to my parents' house for dinner and then had some friends over for lunch. I was pretty thrilled with the recipes I cooked this week:

Chicken Tortilla Soup
To start off with, gathering the ingredients for this recipe proved to be quite an adventure. Most of the stuff was very easy to find, the tough part was the can of diced green chiles. It wasn't at 7-mile. It wasn't at Shoppers. And because I know very little about hot peppers, I didn't know what to get instead. I spoke to my dad about it, but he couldn't think of a good replacement, either. I then called Isaac K., because he's got a lot of knowledge in the cooking arena. He suggested anneheim peppers. Well, right after I bought them, I called my dad who said he was on his way to Food Lion to see if they had the canned chiles there. Lo and behold they did, so my daddy saved the day. :)
Now for a review: Because I made this in the crock pot for shabbos lunch, it got a little overdone. The funny thing is, I started it cooking on low at about 4PM on Friday, and I figured it would be best to move it to the blech after about 12 hours, but I thought, "No way am I gonna get up at 4 AM to take it out of the crock pot." I did, however, end up awake at 4AM because I had to use the bathroom, so I was able to switch it over. The chicken ended up overcooked and dry anyway, but the soup itself was very tasty. I may try it again sometime as a weekday meal.

Mushroom Stuff Chicken Breasts
This recipe was AMAZING. Because of the white wine, it has that serious gourmet flavor, and the mushrooms are tender and delicious. If you read the comments on the recipe, you can see the changes that I made when cooking it. It was pretty easy to make but seems really impressive when you serve it. It was delicious and there's no question I'll be making it again.

Lemony Green Beans
This was really easy to make, but I found I wasn't too impressed with the flavor in the end. However, I had previously drained the liquid from the stuffed chicken breasts so that I wouldn't have a problem reheating it on shabbos, and I hadn't wanted to throw it away since it smelled and tasted so good. So, I tried dipping a green bean in it and decided that was what they needed. So I poured it in, shook it up and put it in the fridge over night. The combined flavors of the lemon and garlic and the white wine, rosemary, sage and chicken made for a pretty nice side dish.

Okay, for those of you who actually sat through this post, have a cookie. Sometimes, when I read this blog, it puts me to sleep. Who knew I was this boring? But, yeah, cooking really is the most exciting part of my life these days. So sad...and tasty...

Be well, everyone and have a good week. :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some more food...

So this shabbos Yaakov and I decided to have a quiet dinner at home. Lately, I've gotten really into having fresh salmon as a friday night main course. It simplifies the meal by removing the "fish course," it's still a chashuva food (at least in our opinion), it's tasty and also it's light and doesn't leave us feeling stuffed and sick. This week I used a recipe from my favorite cookbook, "Quick and Kosher," for Dijon Ginger Salmon (or something to that effect). It's very easy to make, like all the recipes in that fabulous cookbook, and was delicious.

I also made some chicken soup and then, because I was too lazy to make matzah balls, I threw in some deli ends to give it more substance. Now, this is an idea I got from a friend's mother who did it when we came over once shortly before Pesach because she didn't feel like buying the necessary ingredients to make kreplach. The only real downside to using deli ends is that it tends to overpower the chicken soup flavor, so it really becomes a whole different creature which I call "Deli soup." You know, because I'm so creative.

Now, as for side dishes, I made my standard salmon dinner sides: cous cous and green beans. The couscous was pretty basic, made according to box directions but I added some seasoning to the water before boiling. The fresh green beans were mixed with soy sauce, sesame teriyaki sauce and sauteed ginger, garlic and onion. I mistakenly overcooked them so they came out mushy when I tend to prefer them crisper (but Yaakov likes them mushier, so it's all good.)

It all came out very yummy and we avoided making ourselves sick by overeating. Sadly, I didn't make any dessert. :(

I did, however, also make a broccoli kugel (also from Quick and Kosher) which I brought to my parents' house for lunch which was also very tasty.

After shabbos, Yakov and I went to Rabbi Katz's history shiur at Beth Tefillah which was incredibly fabulous. My favorite story from the night: President Teddy Roosevelt was giving a speech at a Jewish venue and was, like a natural politician, talking about how he had appointed the first Jewish cabinet member, Oscar Straus in the US not because he was Jewish, but because he was the best American for the job. Jacob Schiff had fallen asleep during the speech, and President Roosevelt nudged him awake and said, "Isn't that right?" Schiff said, "What's going on?" and Roosevelt replied, "I'm talking about Straus!" to which Schiff replied, "Oh yes! Roosevelt called me up and said, 'Get me the best Jew you've got!'"

I assume the story is true because Rabbi Katz related it.

Anyway, that's my shabbos/motzei shabbos. Good night, all!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shopping, Beef and Nostalgia

Well, it's that time of the week again, so here goes. DISCLAIMER: If you have little to no interest in hearing the details of my shopping trip from today, don't read the next paragraph!

As good fortune would have it, due to the federal holiday my second job of the day was closed so I got to take some me time. First my parents took Yaakov, Alan and myself out to lunch, then I went shopping with my mother, which is something I rarely get to do. Now, I love spending time with my mom, especially when we're shopping because occasionally she buys me things. ^_^ Today, I got a nice pair of suede boots from Nordstrom Rack (the only kind of Nordstrom I shop in). I looked at some really cute and REALLY on sale dresses at Macy's too, but they didn't work out. :(

Now on to cooking details: I currently have some beef in the oven. Several months ago I was buying meat and my dad was in the store at the same time and suggested that I buy large quantities of flanken because it was on sale. Well, I had used all but the last package, which I discovered in the freezer last night and put in the fridge to defrost. I just stuck it in the oven on top of some brown rice and poured one packet of Tabatchnik's frozen Frenchman's Onion Soup over it. (I had attempted to eat that soup as soup a while back and discovered that 1, it was fleishig {and who makes french onion soup without cheese?!} and 2, it was SOOOOOO salty. But it seems like it would make great gracy. Guess we'll find out.) I have no vegetables in the house or we'd be eating some of those too. Oh well.

That's really all I have to talk about. Except that I have a 1 page paper due tomorrow on, and I quote, "the cycles in (my) life." My teacher is fond of giving very vague assignments because he wants to see what we'll do with it. I've written about relationship cycles that I've noticed. The way that we cycle through friendships (or at least I do O_O) by spending lots of time with someone during a certain period and then spending significantly less time with them at other periods. It's phrased a little more eloquently (I hope) in the paper.

On that note, I've recently been going through some old pictures on my computer and discovering how much I miss some of my old friends. There are so many people I've lost touch with, either out of necessity or because we just drifted apart, and I really miss some of them. Admittedly, it's a pretty short list. Most of the people I removed from my life were removed with good reason and I rarely feel nostalgic for them. There are, however, a few people who I really wish I could have kept, or who I wish lived closer, or who I wish I could see more often. This was, actually, another reason that I got rid of facebook. It often served as a constant reminder of how many friends I've lost over the years. Just because I'm friends with them on facebook doesn't actually mean that we're "in touch." It just means we know what the other is doing, but there's little-to-no personal contact involved. There's no real friendship there.

Am I babbling? I'm babbling. I'm sorry. Tell me more about you. ~flutters eyelashes~

Don't ask. I'm tired and hungry and it made sense when I wrote it, ok? Anway, hope you enjoyed this long rambling post. Have a good week!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today has been one of those days. I woke up bright and late to get ready for class and decided I was in a pretty mood, so I got a little dressed up. Then, I walk out to my car and discover, to my shock and amazement, that the driver's side window is broken. Well, it took a couple of minutes for me to process, but once I did I managed to get my jaw closed and call Yaakov and my dad. Yaakov remembered that the lawn mowers had been working when he left to walk to shul, and suggested that one of them had done it. My dad came right over so I could take his car to school and, being the wonderful daddy that he is, also took care of filing a police report and calling the building management. Well, it turns out the management had a message from the landscaping company saying that they had accidentally broken someone's window, so we assume that would be mine. So that's the good news, I guess, that someone else will pay for the repairs. The bad news is, I don't know when they'll pay for the repairs. So, I guess we'll wait and see.

On top of that, I'm generally pretty stressed out about life and such. Best laid plans of mice and men and all that. I've got a lot of thinking and planning left to do, and I'm sure G-d will find ways to uproot them all over again in the future. Oh well, such is life.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Shidduch Story

So as some of you may know by now and many may not, my brother Shmuel (Jeff) just got engaged last week. Everything was very sudden, of course, because they were only dating for about 3 or 4 weeks, but my family decided we wanted to go to Dallas (where the girl, Mya, is from) so that we could meet Mya and her family, as well as to be there for the engagement.

For starters, I can't say enough good things about this family (just ask Yaakov!), and Dallas is a beautiful community. Mya is a wonderful girl and is definitely a perfect shidduch for Shmuel. The weekend was just a blast and I'm really glad we went. I"yH, the wedding should be in Israel, hopefully sometime around mid-January, though we don't have a date pinned down just yet.

Now here comes a fun story that I probably shouldn't share because I know that I'll never live it down, but here goes: My parents decided to extend their trip in Dallas, but my brother Alan and I returned to Baltimore today as per our original plans. My parents had left their car in the garage at BWI and gave us the ticket to pick it up. Here's the thing though, as we started walking towards the car, Alan says, "Oh, I don't have the key, so I'll need yours." Now, at that moment, I stop dead in my tracks. "Are you serious? Wait, are you serious?! I left all of my keys at home because I figured I wouldn't need them!" So, we ended up stranded in the airport garage until Yaakov came to bring us the keys (which was deemed simpler than just getting a ride because we had the ticket to get out of the garage.)

So, yeah, that's my story. I'm not incredibly lucid right now, so I'm not telling it as well as it deserves to be told, but there it is.

I hope to be able to share my family's simcha with all of you, and hope that you should all experience such simchas of your own. Mazal tov and good night!

Monday, October 26, 2009

As anyone who really knows me would know, I'm not exactly the dieting type. Unfortunately, while this may have been okay when I was 16, it's now starting to backfire. While I don't generally feel that weight is a big deal, it definitely becomes a big deal when it reaches the point where you may need to purchase a new wardrobe. That's just a lot of money I don't have. So, I'm going on a diet to try to lose about 10 pounds. A good friend of mine turned me on to the website, so I'm going to give it a try. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, my birthday has come and gone. It was very nice. My sister treated me to some items from Lush, my mother bought me a pretty necklace, Diana took me out to breakfast and my parents took me out to dinner. Aka--I spent the whole day eating and shopping. Pretty nice, huh?

Anyway, that's my life in a nutshell. Nothing else of note at the moment...(cough cough)...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Yom Huledet Sameach!

Tonight is my birthday according to the Jewish lunar calendar. Oh boy! Esrim v'Shtayim Shanim! My English birthday, on the other hand, is this upcoming Sunday. You know, just a reminder for any of you thinking of buying me presents. ^_^
I've already detailed my gift guidelines in previous posts, but you know, I accept gifts in all forms all times of year. :oD

Okay, so...that's all!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Post-Yom Tov Chatter

So, I made those cookies and they were received with rave reviews. Yay! NExt time, I'll bake them a little less to make them chewier, but otherwise this is my official cookie recipe. In other news, my yom tov was nice... life is pretty boring, huh? I've been listening to a lot of music lately, through pandora where I've made a chick station (Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Sara McLaughlin, Alanis Morrisette, and...I recently added Amy Winehouse to the mix. We'll see how that goes...) Thanks to Alexandra for turning me on to Fiona Apple a few years back! I really like her style. Tori Amos I liked for a while, but I'm starting to like her less and less as I'm realizing that her lyrics only SOUND deep.

So...yeah...that's all I've got right now. Sorry to disappoint. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I've been hunting for cookie recipes lately. The cookies I made on Friday for yom tov came out..well...not great. So, I'm looking elsewhere. What I want to know how to make are chewy sugar cookies. I am NOT a fan of the crunchy sugar cookie. I mean, they taste good enough, but they're so dry and boring. In my humble opinion, all cookies should be moist and chewy. End of discussion. So I'm on the hunt. I just found a recipe for sugar drop cookies, and I'm going to give those a try. If they come out good enough, my hunt will be over. But, ya know, I'm always up for recipes.

The recipe for the cookies I'm about to try are here:

In other news, my birthday is 19 days away, and I would like to remind everyone of my present guidelines:

1) I like shiny things. It doesn't need to be expensive. just shiny.
2) I've been seriously thinking about getting an external tablet that I can use to draw a webcomic. This one would definitely be good as a starter tablet:
3) I like things that smell pretty. This could include body sprays, scented candles, or products from Lush.
4) I like things that are cute and/or fluffy. Stuffed animals are always welcome.
5) Cash is also always ALWAYS AAALLLLWAAAAYS welcome.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Little Help From All Y'all Techies Out There?

So, here's the deal: I'm pretty sure I've got some nasty viruses on my computer. I say this because I can't install new software on my computer, including a new anti-virus. (I've been running AVG and wanted to install Comodo, but couldn't. I think it's a problem with my windows installer.) Anyway, I've been trying to find a WIndows XP Media Center Edition restore disc that will work with my nice little product key on the bottom of my lappy. While I'm doing that, I thought about Ubuntu.

Here's where you guys come in. I'm just curious to know what people think about solely using Ubuntu, as opposed to running it alongside Windows. Aka -- is it a bad idea for me to replace Windows with Ubuntu? Any advice would be helpful. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cooking Magic: The Gathering

I've been in a cooking mood lately, and this puts me in a recipe gathering mood. So that's what I've been doing in my (not actually) free time, when I should be writing papers and reading textbooks, etc. Anyway, with all this gathering and bookmarking and saving to word files, it occurred to me that the best way to organize/gather/make useful these recipes would be to compile them into a cookbook of sorts. Obviously, it wouldn't be publication, because I'm using other people's recipes and not keeping very good track of where I'm getting them from, but it would be an awesome compendium for personal use, and if I can afford it, I might be willing to make some copies for friends.

Currently, I'm still in the gathering phase, obviously. But I've got 6 word documents right now (one for chicken, one for beef, one for salads, etc.), each with about 20 or so pages. I still need to hunt down more interesting looking recipes, sift through the ones I've already got, and format the files. Anyone interested in contributing recipes to my book of awesome is more than welcome to.

Also, when I'm done, if people want me to email them copies I can do that.

This will keep up until my resolve dies. For now, it's a fun hobby.

Friday, September 25, 2009

No news is good news, right?

I have nothing exciting to report for this week. Rosh Hashana was nice, though I was disappointed with those apple cobbler thingies. They were undercooked even after being baked longer than the recipe called for. After yom tov, when I microwaved them they were fine, though. Other than that, the food was great. The honey chicken was my favorite. :)

Anyway, I've been feeling sick the past few days so I'm taking it easy this shabbos and letting my dad cook for me. Yay!

Good shabbos and a gemar chasima tovah!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another Pre-Rosh Hashana Blogging---About FOOOOD

Hey everybody! I'm back for a quickie to let you know all about my cooking adventures for the day. About a month ago, I picked up the OU's cooking magazine (they give them out free!) and I was inspired by some of the recipes. So, here's what I made:

Applesauce Cake: It was the easiest thing in the world. Measure ingredients into mixer bowl. Put bowl into mixer. Turn mixer on. Watch as mixer magically combines all ingredients to perfection. Pour into bundt pan. Bake.
I've been pushing off using my beautiful Kitchenaid mixer for over 2 years and I finally found a recipe which seemed worthy. So there it is. I'm so sorry I didn't use it earlier. This baby is amazing.

Apple Cranberry baked apples!: Another easy breezy recipe! Core apples, dash in some cinnamon, fill with cranberry sauce, top with crumbles, bake.
The only complication here is that I impaled my hand while coring the apples. And by impale, I mean, sliced. It looked deep at first, so I was a little freaked out. But luckily the bleeding stopped pretty quickly, so I put on some neosporin and bandaids and let Yaakov finish the coring. :)

Now it turns out that the recipe for the crumble part of the apples was way more than I needed, so I'm going to take it to my parents house and see about making it into a pie. (I might use some canned pears or peaches or something like that.

Finally, the main course: Honey chicken! I haven't made it yet, but I've got chicken waiting at my parents' house. It looks very easy though. Honey, soy sauce, olive oil, pepper and garlic powder. mix ingredients, pour over chicken, bake at 350 for an hour (or until juices run clear?).

Doesn't it sound wonderful? My dad may supplement by making some veggies, and I'll probably make another chicken option. Either way, this promises to be a yummy meal. MMMmmmm....

May your year be sweet like honey, full of good things like a pomegranate, a fish head...

Shana tovah u'metukah! (Have a good and sweet new year!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Pre-Rosh Hashana Blogging

Well, seeing as I owe you guys a posting this week and it being the week before Rosh Hashana, I guess that will have to be my topic. So how is it that after 21 years of being an Orthodox Jew, facing Rosh Hashana year after year, it continues to be such a daunting, intimidating, invigorating and yet, ultimately forgettable experience?

You probably know what I mean. Every year, you stand up there in shul and pray you're little heart out, realizing all the things you've done horribly wrong this year and just KNOWING that it is only by Hashem's good grace that you have heretofore been written and sealed for life. You feel the terror in the thought that this year, Hashem may have finally had enough. You bargain with Hashem, making promise after promise that this year you WILL be better about tefillah, you WILL watch how you speak to and about people, and you WILL do more to distance yourself from whatever awful skeleton resides in your closet. All of these promises fervently made over the yomim nora'im in a fit of hysteria are promptly tossed aside by Sukkos.

I've tried listening to shiurim to inspire me, making lists in prominent places that I know I'll see them, and enlisting friends and family to remind me, but inevitably, I always seem to fail. And what's worse is that, as Rosh Hashana is again rapidly approaching, I still can't shake myself into caring. And isn't that the worst part? That no matter how badly you WANT to care, you just can't? really is, right? I'll bet you were maybe hoping that this would lead to some kind of sage advice on how to deal with this issue, but this really isn't that kind of blog. Hey, at least you know we're in this together.

K'siva v'chasima tova, y'all. (You should be written and sealed for good) Oh, and chag samayach!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wasting my time? You betcha!

So, as all two of my avid readers are aware, I've been thinking about the possibility of doing a web-comic. Now, I don't want to give anything away just yet, but I've already started work on one that I think has a lot of potential. My key feature here is something that I have NEVER seen before in almost any medium: The normal lives of normal people, who happen to be Orthodox Jews. What I mean by that is, my characters will be Orthodox Jews, the content will be kosher, but that won't be the focal point. I will try not to resort to cheesy Jew jokes ("Huuuurrrrr, I'm so cheap cuz I'm Joo-ish!") or hideous Yiddish puns. It will not be a social commentary on the religious community or on Judaism in general. In fact, it will give little-to-no attention to the Jewishness of the characters beyond what would be normal in the day to day life of a Jewish teen (based on me as a teen, of course...only more kosher.)

I've already drawn up my first comic and I'm working on the second. So far, it's just sketches to nail down an art style and plot out my first story arc. Once I've doodled up about 10 or so comics, I'll move on to step two: buying a tablet and beginning to properly illustrate. For the record, my birthday is coming up and if anyone is interested in getting me something nice, that little link leads you to a good idea. Of course, if someone wants to sprint for a Wacom, I would love them for the rest of their lives. :oD

Speaking of my birthday, other than the above, I will here lay out my rules for gifting for Sara:

1) Item should not be expensive unless you're sure it's something I really want.
2) Item should contain one or more of the following qualities: Shiny, fluffy, or pleasant smelling. This includes jewelery, stuffed animals, and scented candles or Lush products.

That's actually it. Pretty simple, really. So, once again, the birthday is October 25th. Of course, I accept presents all year round. :)

I've reached the point where I don't even remember what I started this post off talking about, so I'm gonna go now. Good night, everyone.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weekly Life Update

Well, well. Hasn't this week been an exciting one? I think so. First week of This semester is the first one in which I will be going part time. But, not just normal part time. I'm only taking one class this semester. Don't bother asking why, just suffice it to say that it's a loooong story. It feels weird. It feels like I'm still on break. I had no trouble whatsoever reading the first chapter of my book this week. I don't feel ridiculous amounts of anxiety as I compare syllabii and realize that I have 3 papers due on one day...and that day is right after yom kippur. (as has happened to me in the past) No, this semester I received a syllabus with no dates, so who knows when tests and papers will suddenly be jumped on us. Oh boy! In addition, my teacher bears a striking resemblance to Rush Limbaugh and shares many of his personality traits as well, from what I can tell. Isn't this going to be an interesting semester...

Have a good shabbos, everyone!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Post For Post's Sake

Well, would you look at this? An arbitrary posting just because I've promised at least one per week. I'm keeping my promises, you see. Right now, I'm listening to music (currently playing Porcupine Tree. Don't worry, I haven't heard of them either.) and playing Settlers of Catan online. I'm gearing up for school starting in a week. I have one class (for various reasons), but it's "Physiological Psychology" and let me tell you, that doesn't sound like a Sara friendly class. I'm just praying there won't be any papers. Actually, I kind of hope there is one, because I'm likely to do poorly on the tests and I'd like to have something to redeem me. Oh, I will be paying attention to extra credit opportunities. (song just changed to Unwritten Law - Rest of My Life)

Well, that's all you're getting for now. If anything exciting happens (and I doubt it will...I hope nothing exciting happens, anyway...unless it's get the idea...) I'll let you know.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Foray Into Capitalism

Sometime back in 2004 when I was working at Tov Pizza, I made a little doodle in my notebook. (I always brought a notebook to work so that I'd have something to do during slow hours.) It started off as an attempt to draw a bunny, but when I found I couldn't figure out the lower half, I just put the bunny into a box. That's where it all began, contrary to popular belief. (Popular belief being what I told everyone in the first post to this blog over 2 years ago.) Well, over the years, Bunny Box has evolved and become my little symbol. I use it to sign birthday cards, I use it in my Purim shaloch manot, and I've used it for usernames on many a website. There is, however, a step I've been very hesitant to take with it: Capitalism. People have often suggested that I make T-shirts or other merchandise out of the Bunny Box and convince people to buy it. Here's the problem I've had: What makes an inside-joke worth buying if you're not on the inside. So here's what I'm thinking--drag them inside!

I know, it sounds like a silly idea, but it just might be crazy enough to work. I could make a Bunny Box Webcomic. The only problem there would be finding a theme or a plot to work with. The only thing I can think of that I might have done was already done by a nice Welsh fellow named "Lem" and I'm fairly sure I'd get the pants sued off of me if I tried to do it my way. Regardless, I couldn't be nearly as clever and masterful as he is. So this is where I'd have to get really creative. What in the name of fuzzy pete would the Bunny Box comic consist of? Would it just be a different version of the Bunny Box every week? Would it have...characters? Or would it be completely not at all related to bunnies or boxes and just happen to be called Bunny Box and use the Bunny Box as its symbol?

Questions? Comments? Please share.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Day in The Graveyard

Today my family got together to attend my grandfather's unveiling. He passed away somewhat suddenly last year right before the holiday of Sukkot from a stroke which he had on Yom Kippur (following a stroke he'd had on Rosh Hashana). His death struck us all, not only because of its shocking tragedy, but its timing as well, and the many little things which surrounded it. (At one point on Yom Kippur, my mother was praying to Hashem just to let him live long enough for her to see him and say goodbye before he went. We found out after Yom Kippur that it was right around this time that he woke up and indicated that he wanted the volume on the TV turned up. My mother left to see him in Florida the next day and left a few days later to come home. He died just after she boarded her plane home.) Make what you will of all of it amongst yourselves, but for our family it was very big.

But this post isn't really about my grandfather, wonderful man though he was. This is actually about everyone else who attended the unveiling today. As we stood outside in the hot sun, viewing the headstone proclaiming my grandfather a beloved husband and father and foot-stone which let us know that he "passed this way," I was watching the people around me. My mother and grandmother, tearing up as the Rabbi described my grandfather as an ethical and honest man, my father holding an umbrella over their heads to shade them, and the dozen or so people standing respectfully and reflecting on their memories of Stanley Dashieff. What struck me, though, was when the rabbi began to recite Psalm 23. I'm familiar with the Hebrew recitation because it is commonly sung at the third meal on Shabbat, so I recited that one together with the Rabbi. But when he began the English recitation, I was a bit taken off guard that every one of the family and friends standing by the grave seemed to know every word by heart. It occurred to me that, since this is commonly recited at funerals, the people standing there must have attended many of them. That was when I realized I was surrounded by grief.

Every person there had, at some time or another, experienced loss, either directly or indirectly. Most of them were over the age of 50, and many had lost spouses or close friends. I've thought often over the past year of pursuing a specialization in grief counseling, and have researched it enough to know that grief can exist wherever there is loss of any kind; material, spiritual, or relational. Everyone is bound to experience grief in some form, if they live long enough. Somehow, though, it had never occurred to me that every person in my life had experienced grief. It was still something I've always seen as happening to "others," never to my friends or family. But there it was, staring me in the face as a dozen or so voices recited by wrote, "Ye, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil." (That's the only part that I know by heart).

As usual, I have no big message to add to this. Just sharing an experience I had. I know how much you need to hear about my daily experiences. That's why you were all so upset over my leaving Facebook. And for all that "grief" over my leaving, very few of you have actually taken advantage of this little appeasement I've offered you. Don't look a gift blog in the mouth, my friends. :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Here's a little tidbit many of you may not know about me: when I was growing up, my parents gave mixed signals about kashrus. My father was pretty strict, but my mother tended to be a little lax. She would take me to non-kosher restaurants, like Hard Rock Cafe and Olive Garden, where we would both get salads. My mother would insist the croutons, eggs, tuna and parmesean cheese were okay. In addition to this, my mother used to buy Fudgery fudge. She had once looked at the bag of fudge mix that they use and had determined that it contained nothing inherently non-kosher. (I suppose that means it contained no lard or gelatin). Well, as a kid, I loved that fudge. In fact, it downright broke my heart when I realized it wasn't technically kosher.
Ever since then, I've basically never had fudge again. All that is getting ready to change. I finally worked up the courage to consider, maybe, possibly, at some point in the future, making homemade fudge. It doesn't sound too complicated, though I think I may need a candy thermometer, and I've been without fudge for far too long. There's something just absolutely heavenly about a good, creamy, rich fudge that no other form of sweets can compare to. The perfect fudge is thick enough to require some chewing, but soft enough that it can be cut with a plastic spoon. It has creamy, subtle flavors, but is rich enough that you wouldn't really want to eat too much in one sitting. And it is also incredibly high in calories.
I've found a couple of recipes on but I'd like to use a recipe that is really tried and true, preferably tried by one of my trusted friends. So, any suggestions?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Merchant

I've just returned from opening night of the Jewish Theater Workshop's (JTW) production of the Merchant of Venice. I'm not a theater critic, so I'm not going to do any deep analysis, but here are some overall thoughts: This was some impressive Shakespeare, for something being performed at the JCC. Of course, Becky Hope Seidman was fantastic in the role of Portia, and Isaac Kotlicky was pretty good in the role of whatsisface. But what it comes down to is that it was a really good show. For anyone who missed it tonight but is still interested, there are two showings this Sunday, one at 2 and another at 7, and another two showings on Monday and Tuesday at 7.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rise and Shine, Sleepyhead!

I hate mornings. Maybe if I were the type of person who was into morning jogs I would feel differently, but I'm not, so I don't. Morning is the time of day where I'm ripped from my bed and my stomach has its vengeance for everything I did the day before. And don't even talk to me about breakfast--worst meal of the day! Cereal and coffee, sometimes a vitamin enriched milkshake, sometimes (if I'm really lucky) there's toast and eggs. Breakfast has nothing on lunch. I <3 lunch. Lunch=Sandwiches=Best Meal Ever.

Don't get me wrong--dinner has its moments. I mean, if you've got access to some good pasta or hearty take-out, you've got it made. But for those of us surviving on leftovers and getting to 6 every night going, "What's for dinner?" because you haven't adjusted to the fact that if you want dinner YOU have to make it, dinner is simply a disappointment. "Oh...pasta with cheese again, I guess..." "No, but this time it's got hot sauce in!"

~shakes head~

Growing up is extremely weird. I'm still working on it, myself. I mean, I may be married and all, but I still rely on my dear sweet father to take care of the big stuff. I don't yet feel prepared to file claims with insurance companies, call up comcast to find out their prices, or deal with the electric company. Does all that mean I wasn't really ready to get married? Maybe. But to be fair, growing up proved to be just as disappointing as dinner. Turns out, being a grown-up isn't fun at all. It turns out getting bills isn't as thrilling as it always looked, and getting a paycheck gets less and less exciting as they cover less and less of your expenses. When I used to work at Tov's and made less than $100 a week on average, I felt really rich. After all, with $80 I could buy a lot of random useless crap. And I did.

I can't say I'm really going anywhere with this, but maybe it proves yet another reason why I hate mornings: The brain shuts off.

Status update: glad she isn't 16 anymore, but sometimes wishes she could skip to 30.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Shabbos is Coming

Well, I yet again feel the urge to share my shabbos cooking escapades with one and all, so here they are:

Today, I'm making a simple dinner for Yaakov and myself. I've made a gefilte fish loaf with hot sauce and ground red pepper and other spicy things to give it some serious kick. I've got two challahs baking in the oven, which we can only pray come out as fluffy and tasty as they did last week. I used the same recipe, only this time I added a teaspoon of vanilla (and took out a two teaspoons of water) in the hopes to make it a little cakier. However, vanilla doesn't seem to do well in the bread maker, so it came out like a thick batter, and I had to add flour and run it through the dough setting again. Obviously, this led to it doing a ridiculous amount of rising, so I'm hoping that won't make the challah too...whatever too much rising does to it.

Finally, when the challah comes out, I'm putting in some flanken which will be on a "bed" of potatoes and will be covered with thinly sliced onions, a little onion soup mix, some other random spices that sound good at the time, and a little oil and water on the bottom to keep it juicy. Place it in the oven at 350 for the magical one hour and pray it gets thoroughly cooked in time for shabbos at 7. :)

I expect it will turn out very yummy.

Shabbat shalom, y'all!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ohmigod Ohmigod Ohmigod Ohmigod!!!

Almost died watching this episode. It was the suspense what did it...,vepisode,1

Cute fluffy bunnies are NOT DINNER! And anyway, they're not kosher. Ever noticed that the only animals which are kosher are incredibly NOT CUTE. Ewww...cows...

Some Status Updates For You

If I were on facebook doing status updates today, this is what they would look like:


...had pancakes for breakfast (a la Yaakov, thank you sweety!)

...made some important phone calls working...again... in pain from her PE class yesterday and can barely walk.

...has officially been married TWO YEARS! Happy Twa-niversary Yaakov! :) ^_^ :D

F'reals! But because tonight is Tisha B'av, we'll be celebrating our Hebrew anniversary next Tuesday instead. Presents welcome.

Have a meaningful and easy fast, and remember to mourn hard.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How Scared Should I Be?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've been encountering a lot of people who are going into panic mindsets over the current situations in the world. These people are sure that we're headed to World War III and a second holocaust, and they've even assigned each of our current world leaders roles, matching them up to the leaders present in the 1930's and 1940's. "So and so is the new Hitler, and this guy is Neville Chamberlain, and that guy is FDR (who, just in case you didn't know, ignored the situation in Europe as long as he could, even once he knew what was going on)."

There's talk of nuclear warfare against Israel and worldwide anti-semitism, there's fear of a complete economic meltdown, universal Muslim takeovers, and high cholesterol.

And with all that fear going around and the people at Fox News fanning the flames, there are also an immense number of people who don't seem concerned enough. I've heard these people compared with sheep to the slaughter, Jews before the Holocaust, and any number of metaphors for docile idiots.

So, here's my question: Where should I be? Right now, I'm bouncing back and forth from both ends of the spectrum. Sometimes I'm terrified, and other times I'm nonchalant, laughing at how paranoid everyone is. Where should I be? Is there really a happy medium here? Can I be afraid that all of these doomsday predictions may come to pass, but still remain level-headed enough to at least give off the impression of sanity? And what's the point of being afraid if there's nothing I can do? I've always felt that I want to go mad before I die. That way, I won't see it coming.

I have no point to make here. I wish I did. At the very least, I'm requesting insights. I'm curious to know what others think, especially after reading this article.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Am I Really This Desperate?

This is going to be a really boring post, because I just had the urge (most likely an old facebook habit) to share some completely insignificant information: what I'm going to cook today.

So, here goes...

I've had a bread machine since I got married two years ago, and every time I've tried to use it for my old challah recipe, it fails me miserably. However, I just found a recipe for bread machine challah in the Kosher Palate (sp?) and I've decided to try it today.

I also have a brand spankin' new food processor that I got as a "free" prize for buying way too many raffle tickets for the Oorah auction. It looks and feels high quality, but having never had a food processor before, I don't really know how to tell. Well, today I'm going to break it in to make a potato kugel for third meal. Yay!

Finally, I've been drafted to make dessert for Izzy and Karen's potluck dinner tonight, so I'm going a little boring because baking really isn't my thing. Duncan Heinz brownie mix with vanilla icing on top. I hope that's not too simple, guys! I could, alternatively, make another spice cake. I think that would give me an excuse to use my new hand mixer?

So that lets me use all of my major appliances except for one--the Kitchenaid Professional 600 Series Stand Mixer!!! I got it for my wedding two years back and only just took it out of the box last week. It may sound silly, but all this time the size of the box intimidated me, and I've never used a mixer before so I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I'm still not. Does anyone have a good first-time stand mixer recipe I can make? Something to help me get a feel of the machine so I know what it can do.

And that ends today's kitchen adventures.

By the way, even though I don't cook often, and am usually afraid to try new recipes, I do want to have a hefty recipe collection to sit and stare at when I'm feeling adventurous, so feel free to post or email your favorite (easy) recipes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 1 of a Facebook Free Life

I've now spent nearly 12 hours as a recluse. I'm getting the shakes. Food has lost all taste. I'm hungrily eying my neighbor's dog. I've started speaking to my stuffed rabbits...Oh, wait...I've been doing that for years.

All told, it's not so bad so far, and I imagine it will only get easier as the days go on.

I have to admit, I wasn't at all prepared for the extent to which people would be shaken by my decision to leave facebook. I was prepared for the comments on my status about how I shouldn't leave, because how could we possibly keep in touch!? What I wasn't prepared for was going to a party and having everyone there greet me with, "Why are you deleting your facebook?" Suddenly, I began to feel like some kind of social freak. After all, why WAS I leaving facebook? I have to admit, most of my reasons may not make sense to other people. Everyone assumes I'm leaving because of addiction or a need for privacy, but that's not it. I mean, it's part of it, but not really the main thing. The fact is that facebook very often puts me in situations where I start to feel a little depressed.

Sometimes, it's because I see a friend, someone I'm not terribly close with but someone whom I care about, doing something very, very stupid. Now, if this were a close friend, or even a not so close friend, and they were calling me up or emailing me to discuss what they're doing, I would be in a position to offer advice and support. But when I just happen upon that information on their facebook page, it would be considered confrontational for me to throw my two cents in. As someone with a social worker mentality, it hurts me when I can't do anything.

At other times, I find myself looking through people's pictures or reading their statuses and getting a little jealous of things they have or things they do. And needless to say, that's not healthy.

The reasons go on. If I had more time for it, I might list them all, but I don't, so I won't. So, there it is. I'm off of facebook, at least for now. Maybe one day, if something changes, either in me or elsewhere, I'll come back. But not today and not tomorrow.

Now if you don't mind, I have a dog cooking.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The First Hour

Well, I decided to post this when I found myself compulsively starting to type "" into the address bar on my browser. I'm already starting to get the sweats...or maybe my ac just isn't turned up high enough. Either way, there's a long road to recovery ahead.

A Note About The Unknown

Tomorrow I embark upon a journey--a journey into a world which is largely unknown in today's world. Tomorrow, I delete my facebook account. What lies ahead is anyone's guess. Who knows how many friends will go the extra click to keep in touch with me via email. I know it may seem a lot to ask, but I know that they are strong people, and I have faith in them.

This blog is being reinstated to help my friends cope with the loss of my status updates. I'll try to write on here about once a week, even if all I have to say is, "Work, school, life."

Well, wish me luck on my journeys. And don't forget to keep in touch. :)