Wednesday, December 28, 2011

tel aviv

oh, christmas was lovely,
especially the christmas eve gathering
around that decorated table
with the music and the food and the gifts,
the nativity, the festivity,
and of course the anticipation of what was to come. . .
christmas morning
and santa's unloading his (very large) pack
with what i will have to show you later. . .
although the day was spent packing,
since we left the next morning for

tel aviv!
and although moscow weather
kept us on the ground
(in the airplane!)
for an extra three hours,
and although our car has already been towed
(and recovered!)
we are here.
and loving every moment
of only having to wear sweaters
and ballet flats.
yesterday had us enjoying the park,
the art museum
and the shops of neve tsedek,
of course with falafel
and latkes and hummus to our heart's content--
and today we hit the flea market
and port of old jaffa
before heading up the coast to caesarea
and beyond.
if i can keep you posted, i will.

p.s. israeli's are oh-so-nice.
even that guy who towed our car.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

handmade chocolates

as we listened to
my favorite christmas album of the year
david ian's vintage christmas,
we handcrafted chocolates
for our family gift this year.

we melted down some high quality chocolate bars
(in the microwave
which was made for melting chocolate)
and filled little silicon cups
in all sorts of shapes,
adding our own surprise treats
in the middle.

then they get popped into the freezer--
and then popped out of their forms
when the kids are already nestled
all snug in their beds.
ikea provided perfect little paper cups
and gift boxes

in which we wrapped them up
to be gifted on christmas eve.

we got a ton more snow today
which will make our trip to the farm tomorrow
and the sleigh ride outing lovely.
after which it will be time
to start setting the table,
whipping up the pecan pie,
and doing last minute preparations.

christmas is in the air!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

happy anniversary!

my wedding was so long ago
that i could only scrounge up
one digital photo--
of such terrible quality
and with such a silly smile--
here it is, in all it's glory,
from 10 years ago.
10 years ago!!!

alex and i thought a bit
about how to celebrate such a milestone.
we did have a big trip last october--
and when our friends invited us to israel,
well, that was one place we've wanted to go
ever since we were dating.
we entertained the idea for awhile
and pondered on whether or not to take the children,
and finally decided
to make a big trip of it
and take everyone
and see everything
and do it all.

i know, it is.
we've never done anything like it.
and so, maybe it is fitting for a 10-year anniversary?

it's taken a lot of work,
and like i said,
it way goes against our travel style
which is not to plan anything.
but you will find a word file
on my computer, with an itinerary planned
down to every day's activity,
with even a few restaurants planned in.
can we pull it off?
i think so.
andreas makes me a bit nervous,
as he's a mere two years old
and can certainly be a challenge.
but other than that,
the girls can handle it.
and we're taking enough time to hopefully be able
to take it easy,
and do things at a child's pace.

in any case,
preparation for this
has gotten me quite excited.
my scriptures have already come to life,
just thinking about visiting these spots soon.

and so,
in the midst of my christmas planning,
i am also packing bags,
as we leave the day after christmas.
happy anniversary, to all of us!

Monday, December 19, 2011

shrinky dinks & snow

the magic of shrinky dinks!
i love it when things from my childhood
can still wow my children today.

in other exciting news,
our thus far mild winter
has finally brought us a good snowfall yesterday!
it did wonders for my christmas spirit
as we spent the afternoon at home
baking christmas cookies
listening to frank sinatra
building snowmen
and sipping hot drinks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

eco-friendly wrapping

and with a tree in place,
well of course the gift wrapping
can not be far behind.
children need anticipation!

this year
i also did something
i've meant to for several years now.
it may actually have been inspired
by my children,
those times they "played birthday"
and would wrap up "gifts"
in scarves and shawls--
of course i was the one doing the tying
and i thought to myself,
this could not possibly be easier
and it looks lovely.
of course it is also inspired
by the sick feeling in my stomach
when i see the mounds of crumpled and torn
wrapping paper
on christmas morning--
thinking of all the christmas mornings
going on around the world
and all the wads and bags and bundles
headed straight for the dump.

and so this year
i tried something new
and purchased a meter-and-a-half or two
of my favorite natural-colored linen.
i wrapped the gifts up,
just as i would with paper,
and in fact scotch turned out to hold it in place
just fine--
(although some subsequent handling of gifts
by snooping children
has resulted in a re-taping or two)--
i tied them up with random ribbon pieces
and voila!
eco-friendly wrapping.

(next year i plan to use the same pieces--
although it will take a bit more work
to fit them all right)

Monday, December 12, 2011

big tree!

so our own tree finally got put up--
long after most of the city trees.
i had long gone back and forth
about whether or not to buy the big tree
this year.  we had talked about it last year,
and i had hoped to,
but as i was rolling those endless balls
i was thinking,
well maybe i don't even have enough of these things
to cover a big tree.
and so i finally resolved myself
to live with the little tree
just one more christmas.
and so we all gathered round,
turned on the christmas music
got out all the boxes,
and started to decorate
that little old tree.
and i could soon see
that there were actually plenty of the felt ball garland,
in fact i only used half on that tree.
and after it was all decorated and beautiful,
i stood back and took a look,
and said to myself
you know what,
this little guy
who only comes up to my waist
is cute and all,
but he just doesn't cut it anymore.
and i took the girls after school the next day
to pick out the tallest tree we could find.
and we took everything off
and put a new proud tree in its place.
and i am happy.

i bought these little folk dolls
at the artisans' fair last christmas,
but my big tree requires more!
and so the fair happens to be this week,
and i'm hoping i can track down some
more lovely ladies to join their friends
on our tree.

and after failing to find a star that i liked,
or one that went along with the theme,
i was resolved to make my own,
which i did by embroidering some felt
and covering an ikea star.

oh, and that tree skirt
that i had sworn to make this year?
well, let's just say
that one is getting shoved onto next year's
"holiday notes" list--
with a side note to purchase the fabric
in the summer.
i got no further than cutting a circle out of an old sheet,
when painting the backdrop
for the church nativity took my every evening hour
for a week,
and i decided the old sheet will have to do
this year--
but promises of better preparation next year
will hopefully get us something better.

and there she stands.
our big, tall tree!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

gift tags

yesterday's advent activity
was to make gift tags for the gifts
(that have yet to be wrapped).

a couple of years ago
we had the construction paper,
stamps, markers, glue and punches out
for such an activity.
but after finding
the task was easy-peasy and our tags
are as cute as ever.
of course, now the girls are anxious
to have something to put them on--
or should i say,
something for me to put them on. . .

Monday, December 5, 2011


the trees have all gone up!
(except for ours)

in the absence of thanksgiving,
there are no rules here
on when the trees can go up.
and just in these last six years
of living in moscow
i have noticed that they go up earlier and earlier
every year.
the big ones go up
on the big squares, at the big malls--
there are littler ones
outside of or in the window of every store.
even the little kiosks
prop a little 1.5-footer up on top of their roof.

so even if they're all doing it
for a different holiday,
at least it's the same tradition
and helps us to feel in the christmas spirit.
and now when our advent calendar
bids us to spend the evening
looking at christmas lights,
we will find plenty
to press our noses to those cold windows
to look at.

Friday, December 2, 2011

rollin' rollin' rollin'

and so now i will tell you
the first note i am making to self
for next year's holiday season:
figure out what the tree will be decorated with
in the beginning of november,
to allow time for preparation!

here it is december 2
and we are all anxious to put the tree up,
but i am still scrambling to roll those darn balls
for the felt ball garland!
i had the idea last year, but it was way too late,
and of course i only remembered about it
just recently.
and so i ran out to buy the wool,
found a tutorial on youtube
and have been rollin' rollin' rollin'
for a week now.
the skin on my hands
resembles pink alligator skin.
and i still have a whole bag left!
i'm determined to finish tomorrow
because the tree must go up
for it to feel christmasy around here.

although the advent was begun already,
and the music has been playing,
and my shopping is almost done. . .

i'm back to rollin'!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

early training

someday i'm sure
he'll be grateful
that he had two sisters
who had the initiative and the drive
to see that his potty-training was begun
promptly at 2 years old.
they are awesome at talking him into going in,
encouraging him,
giving him an example of what to do
("see?  i'm doing it too!"),
getting his paper
and teaching him how to wipe (!!!)
and even entertaining him while he sits
("but mom, i really need your phone!")

he is doing great,
and i certainly don't to jinx myself,
but aren't boys supposed to be later at this stuff
than girls?
maybe it's just their good influence?

Friday, November 25, 2011


thanksgiving is all about blessings.
family and memories.
it's not about the fact that
the beverly hills diner's version
of a thanksgiving dinner
paled in comparison to a home-cooked one,
or that fact that i was the only one missing
from my family back home. . .

it was about celebration
and spending time together
and alex getting off work early for us
and taking the metro to red square together
and playing air hockey over and over again
and bundling up for the cold
and walking around red square
as they were setting up the ice skating rink
and laughing at the stray dog
that was following us for so long
(we were carrying left-over turkey with us)
and admiring the massive christmas tree
and staying up ooooh so late
laughing and skyping with everyone back home

and then counting all those
many many many
before nodding off to sleep.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

thanksgiving eve

why am i showing you
milla's new pastry mat?
because i love it--
it's even better than my old silpat. . .
thinner, flimsier but sturdy,
and milla just loves those "pizza circles."
(i got it at williams-sonoma this summer)

and tonight,
on this thanksgiving eve,
she was nice enough to lend it to me.
and so you can only imagine
under what aromas wafting from the kitchen
i sit here now. . .
well, let's just say,
it starts with brown sugar pumpkin pie
and ends with toasted pecan crust.
i haven't yet tried the pumpkin part,
but i can tell you that every pie for the rest of my life
may just have to be made with this crust.
and so if you're in charge of pies this year--
this may be right up your alley.

alex and i finally decided
just tonight after the kids were in bed
exactly how we are going to spend our thanksgiving,
in the absence of extended family or close friends.
and it won't so much be traditional,
but if i can't be with
my 50 close and beloved family members
who are gathering tomorrow,
we'll branch out a bit
and go unconventional.

and now to check on that pie. . .