Tuesday, August 31, 2010

bedtime stories

let's be honest. some of us don't know hebrew because we never studied it and others have studied it but still don't know it.  regardless, the jewess tongue should speak the holy language lavishly, so let's start at the beginning. i mean, who wouldn't enjoy prancing around the plaza with an israeli style eloise. and if she lets, maybe you'll even follow her along to paris (you may need your dictionary for this one).   just take your favorite childhood book and see if there's a hebrew edition available. many, including good night moon and the giving tree, are available at amazon.com.  but even more are out there, so just keep googling. just don't jump into the hebrew harry potter.  be forewarned, you will have to decipher the hebrew from the wizard language (in hebrew) - not so simple for a muggle!  

Monday, August 30, 2010

pump it up

i know you've been holding on to your ballet flats for years, but it's time to rise to new heights.  the heels should be going up, and in a big way.  take a few inches at a time and add a small platform if you're a little wobbly.  if you are new at this, go for the classic peep toed pump for fall.  if you're ready to flaunt those feet, i recommend newport news's new silver leather metallic clogs (available at newportsnews.com). the studs around the perimeter make this classic look more contemporary. and with grey being the "it" color this fall, these are the perfect pair.  when dressing, it is a mitzvah to put the right shoe on first.  the book of leviticus (the third book of the torah) has a number of phrases giving preference to the right side of the body. there is also kabbalistic significance to the right side symbolizing chesed (giving). so start your day off on the right foot!  

Friday, August 27, 2010

l'objet of my affection

i know these just look like glamourous salt shakers, but these have been elevated both physically and spiritually.  adorned with platinum and semi precious stones, l'objet's handmade objects have been transformed into lavish tableware.   when used on shabbat, they are sanctified even higher, into holy vessels containing the salt that is customarily eaten with our challah.  why salt?  salt was offered in the temple with every sacrifice so we want to keep this tradition shaking. it is used because it never spoils, which is symbolic of our eternal relationship with G-d.  It also enhances the taste of our food, just as we want to enhance our relationship with G-d.   so the next time you eat salt with your bread, think about your relationship with G-d, enhance it, and beautify l'objet with l'objet.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

dazzle your doorway

what if i told you that you could take a mitzvah and make it sparkle (literally!). now you can with designer devora libin's handcrafted mezuzah cases available at devoralibin.com. decorate you doorway with her swarovski crystal embellished mezuzah cases encrusted with gorgeous patterns and prints.  check out "the katz meow" with a leopard pattern made with over 800 crystals and an amethyst colored hebrew letter shin. these beautiful mezuzahs will surely bring the light of the mitzvah into your home.  just don't forget to buy and insert the klaf (the actual mezuzah parchment inscribed with specific verses from the torah). you need a kosher klaf on every doorpost (minus the bathroom) to fulfill the mitzvah of mezuzah (available at most judaica stores).  so be sure to get a mezuzah for every doorway - we don't want any to be jealous!  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

wedding wednesday: something blue

i know it isn't a jewess tradition to have something blue on your wedding day, but blue has significance in judaism too.  signifying purity, depth, and divinity (to name a few), having the right blue item may actually enhance your day. the folks at feldheim publishers have come out with a baby blue book of psalms (poems written by king david), that are customarily recited by a jewess bride on her wedding day (available at judaism.com). brides should also say prayers of forgiveness because the wedding day is a rebirth. we pray for forgiveness for all our sins, and we are forgiven and start fresh as a new complete unit with our husband.  when we walk down the aisle and circle our future husband, G-d is with us, and he is close.  take this time to pray strong and hard for yourself, your husband, your marriage, your future children, and all that is important to you.  prayer is one of the most important elements of our wedding day so do it with love, speak your heart out to G-d, and use a prayer book that makes you feel bridal, to separate this day and these prayers from all others.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

paint the town torah

looking to line your walls with torah? if every corner isn't already covered with torah books, use the extra real estate for some jewish themed art. when looking for art try to be original. purchase something that reflects your personal style but isn't that same print that everyone has.  i know this may seem expensive but it doesn't have to be.  check out etsy.com, where everything is handmade and anyone can showcase their work.  since you are purchasing directly from the artist, prices are lower.  you may even find a piece you love from an artist that isn't well known.  just search for "jewish" under the art category and some interesting works will come up.  be sure to check frequently as artist are constantly creating new art.  if you're a real colorful jewess, think about creating your own masterpiece, even if it's your first time.  trust me, know one will know!  

Monday, August 23, 2010

broaching the brooch

there is a jewess custom to beautify ourselves for the holidays.  while many of us spend weeks to find a new outfit for every meal, totally unnecessary!  sometimes, more is more, but this time, go for less.  there are so many ways to renew your rosh hashana wardrobe. i'm obviously talking about accessories.  they can make or break you so be careful. find something that makes you feel like you and also play on this seasons trend of mixed media.  we've worn the flowery jeweled headbands (totally over but still adorable) and seen the crystal and fabric bib necklaces (kudos if you've worn them), but try something that holds the trend without being too trendy.  you can approach the brooch or jump right in. for those willing to take the risk, check out express's beautifully adorned oversized brooch made of fabric and rhinestones.  the statement is both bold and subtle since the color palette is dark but sparkly.  pair it with a black sweater jacket or long jersey vest. just keep the rest of the look simple and classic and you'll be the apple of someone's eye. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

graze those calves

vuitton is strutting it, jacobs is posing it, chloe is clothing it and cameras are clicking it. the calf-grazing skirts are back, finally!  whether you dress according to traditional jewish law or you just like treading the latest trends, this season, you won't have trouble covering those knees.  this skirt is here and has already been picked up by more affordable retailers including zara.  mostly being shown in grey and brown wools, the skirts are full of fabric and volume.  since the skirts are coming down, make sure the heels are going up. pair yours with some patent beige pumps or tight sleek knee high boots. thank you louis!  (photo courtesy of imaxtree)

Friday, August 20, 2010

butterfly kisses

this year, rosh hashana (which is two days) goes straight into shabbat.  that gives us three days in a row where, according to jewish law, we are not permitted to apply regular makeup (because we are not permitted to color on shabbat and certain holidays).  to keep those lashes long and lasting, i recommend using loreal carbon black waterproof mascara (before the holiday - it will last for all three days).  i have tried many mascaras and this one is my top pick, both for shabbat and holidays, and for everyday use (for everyday, non-waterproof is recommended).  the secret to making your lashes look extra volumimous: apply lots and lots of layers.  someone will be sure to catch your eye!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

when i dip, you dip, we dip

many of us are familiar with dipping apples in honey for a sweet year.  this year, take some time to elevate your rosh hashana table with a presentation that will be sure to sweeten more than your apple.  when setting the table, prepare each setting with the bread and butter plate (the little plate we often use for fish).  squeeze a few squirts of honey on each plate (so it makes a circle) and top it with a lady finger apple (they look like mini apples and can be found at many grocery and produce stores).  voila. thank you my lady! before eating the apples and honey be sure to say the blessing: Barukh ata Ado-nai Eloheinu Melekh ha‑olam, bo're p'ri ha‑etz. the translation: blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the ground. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

wedding wednesday: present your present

when preparing the customary gifts for your bridesmaids, put thought into the presents' packaging. it's a divalicious day for them too so give them a bridesmaid brag bag.  many of the wedding websites have them, but my favorites are the pink totes (by port and co) stamped with the word "bridesmaid" in black with a coinciding image (available at target.com).  fill it with your precious gift(s) and let the bag keep on giving.  perfect for the beach or books, your bridesmaids will feel honored toting their title everywhere. also available for the maid-of-honor and the bride. so don't forget to get one for yourself to carry all your wedding day necessities. you won't want to feel left out! here come the bridesmaids! 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

wear your essence

there is a jewish concept that your hebrew name, given to you shortly after your birth, is your essence and has divine inspiration.  if you have a hebrew name, learn more about it, what it means, and who and what it represents. you may come to better understand yourself and your traits.  if you were never given a hebrew name, don't worry, you still have an essence.  just meet with your local rabbi and together you can choose a name and and make it official (contact us if you need help finding a rabbi).  once you better understand who you are, you may feel like wearing yourself on your sleeve, or in this case, on your heart. Sima Gilady designs sterling silver disks hand stamped with your hebrew name.  each necklace can also be adorned with a bead or crystal to give it that femine "ess" touch.  necklaces can be purchased at simagilady.com.  wear your name proud.  

Monday, August 16, 2010

wrapped in teri

the more precious and valuable something is, the more we safeguard, cover and protect it, right? think about it. do you keep your fine jewelry lying around the house, or is it resting in a velvet lined jewelry box? what about your synagogue's torah scrolls? i bet they are covered with embroidered velvet, gold crowns, adorned with jewels and placed behind an elaborate satin or velvet curtain. now think about how we protect our most precious gift, our bodies. we are more valuable than any jewel, yet we don't always treat ourselves that way. the next time you are buying clothes, think about wrapping yourself up more modestly and also more beautifully (all jewish women are queens)! need help? teri jon often has modest high fashion pieces in her line. for a fall fabulous gown check out www.terijon.com. her slogan says it all: "a woman's body is a gift and teri jon is the wrapping."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

c'est la vest

if you haven't yet gone "bananas" over rachel's zoe's line of faux fur vests, it's about time.   with your fall wardrobe starting to line up, the new silver style (choices also include chinchilla, black, and red fox) will stand right out!  every season needs that one "i die" item that can be worn with everything and always look chic. for those of you who don't know the zoe, rachel is a celebrity stylist turned reality tv star turned designer.  with the help of qvc, now almost everyone can enjoy her fabulous line.  so go to qvc.com for the latest styles and tune into bravo tv for the latest season of the rachel zoe project.  if this jewess can vest, so can the rest!

Friday, August 13, 2010

light brite, light brite

turn on the magical shabbat light. i know it was the coolest 80's toy, but it also has a really practical shabbat message.  shabbat candles have a lot of spiritual significance, but one of the reasons why we light them does have to do with their bright light.   going back in time, without shabbat candles, those jews observing shabbat would have had a difficult time seeing around their home (and this could have caused a lot of stubbed toes).  so we light to bring not only spiritual, but also physical peace throughout our homes. brighten your home tonight, light shabbos candles, and continue to illuminate your elul.  lighting the candles are one of the three main mitzvot (commandments) given to women, so after we light and say the prayer (listed below), this is a very special time for us to be closer to G-d (and he is closer to us).  so take this time for personal prayers and conversation with G-d, he is really listening. here is the blessing you say after you light the shabbat candles:   
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha‑olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Shabbat.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

happy birthday to jew

i know how ambitious you get when your friends' birthdays arrive, but it isn't always easy to bake that perfect happy birthday cake.  we know you do something with eggs, and there is also frosting and of course you want to decorate it with pink icing and rainbow sprinkles, but...where's the cake! (remember that scene from sleeping beauty when the fairies try to bake?)  so take out your wand, make a wish, and poof, the cake of your dreams has arrived at the birthday girl's doorstep.  bake me a wish has made it almost that easy.  it is one of the few kosher online bakeries and the cakes are actually decadent and delicious (tried and tasted personally). after all that hard work, you may need one for yourself. well lucky you, you get 10% off when you buy two or more cakes. now that's a happy birthday! www.bakemeawish.com

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

tip top tips

the french manicure gives the finishing touch to just about every look, but sometimes you don't want to spend the time or money at the nail salon.  now you can always be perfectly polished with sally hansen's french manicure white tip pen (imagine a paint marker with white nail polish inside).  i recommend a coat of essie's ballet slipper, then your white tips, then another coat of ballet slipper and voila, a ten minute manicure.  the pen is great for touch ups too.   and trust me, not hard.  you may need to practice a little before you flaunt your fingers but you will be meticulously manicured before you know it!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

here's the skinny

everyone wants perfect skin, but who knows what products to use.  it just so happens that the best skin products i have tried are made by sabon, a company that was started by a couple in the backyard of their farming town in israel.  using natural herbs, flowers, oils, and properties from the dead sea, the products make your skin glow.  with all the tantalizing choices, let me help you get started.  for the body, you must try the patchouli lavender vanilla shower oil.  the smell alone will make you melt (i'm not kidding).  this combo of shower gel and essential oils will cleanse your body but also give you the moisture we don't always apply (don't worry it goes on smooth but not greasy).  looking for something to keep your face fresh, clean, and young? the seaweed cleanser is your pick, especially if you are a makeup wearer or sometimes get breakouts.  the seaweed (which is high in vitamin a) also helps prevent wrinkles.  for those of us not living in israel, there is no longer a need to stock up your suitcase with these delicious delicacies. sabon products are available in the states too so visit  http://sabonnyc.com/, or find your local retailer (sabon currently has stores in new york, boston and chicago).  i would tell you that the products make great gifts, but once you buy them it's hard to let them go (i haven't been able to)!

Monday, August 9, 2010

illuminating elul

the jewish month of elul begins tonight.  this month, the 30 days before rosh hashana, is our time to prepare.  it's our time to reflect, repent, forgive, learn, return, and live with good intention.  when rosh hashana, the day of judgement, arrives, we are not being judged simply for that day, but for who we are, and for who we became this year.  the month of elul is an opportune time to think about how we want to be judged and to live accordingly.  have we been gossiping lately, have we blown up at a sibling, have we been lighting shabbat candles?  think about the mitzvot (commandments) and whether or not we could be doing a little better.  don't overwhelm yourself or try to be perfect, just try a little.  remember, G-d doesn't only look at where we are, but very importantly, what direction we are growing.  G-d wants us to be close to Him, and He wants to be close to us.  He is on our side and loves us. so use elul as a time to check that your baby steps are going towards your father.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

eat your heart out

baking someone a cake always shows them that you care, but what if you make a heart shaped cake?  that must be true love.  nordicware (sold at bed bath and beyond) not only sells the heart shaped bundt mold, but it is also non-stick.  so if you forget to grease the pan (like i did) your heart may still turn out perfect.  whatever recipe you use, try to be patient (tough, i know) and let the cake cool for as long you can hold out (at least an hour).  the heart cake is also a great idea for bridal showers, sheva brachot (for more info see "sheva brachot bling")
and anniversaries.  hearty baking!  

Friday, August 6, 2010

haute challah

be prepared, this one is a splurge, but i know some of you take hiddur mitzvah (beautifying a commandment) very seriously! so take out your wallets because tiffany & co is now featuring a sterling silver challah knife with a braided handle that looks just like a shabbos challah.  the knife is sold out online but can be purchased over the phone or in stores (where available).  also makes a fabulous wedding gift.  your challahs thank you.  http://www.tiffany.com/Shopping/item.aspx?custlastvisit=5%2F2%2F2009&sku=13204004

Thursday, August 5, 2010

precious pomegranate

there is no longer a need to spike your pom juice this rosh hashana (it is customary to have pomegranates so our blessings will be as numerous as the seeds in a pomegranate).  the genius scientists at rimon winery in northern israel have squeezed everything out of this one.  from wines to port to oils extracted from the seeds, a visit to the winery is a must on your next playdate with israel.  if you aren't able to make it up there before the holiday, don't stress, their wines are available online at www.rimonwines.com.  drink responsibly, the port has lots of sugar and 18% alcohol. perfect for the start to your sweet happy year. l'chaim!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

three spoons full of sugar

you thought a spoon would suffice. well then you haven't tried three tablespoons, the bakery that is not only kosher, but healthy too.  calling themselves the "smart baking company" is just a sprinkle of what you need to know.  their goodies are actually baked with ingredients that are good for your body and your soul (because they are kosher, duh). all the products are vegan and allergy-friendly (no eggs, dairy, soy, nuts, and wheat) and they have many gluten-free options too.  so stop pretending it's your birthday and go buy yourself some green tea chocolate chip cookie dough! check out their website http://threetablespoons.com/ for local retailers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

sheva brachot bling

when hosting sheva brachot (one of the customary festive meals honoring a bride and groom during the week after their wedding), be sure to distinguish the newlyweds. they are king and queen for the night so glam their dining up black and white.  honor them with nothing less than the bride and groom "pimp cups" (which i call "sheva brachot goblets") by homewetbar.com.  don't forget to pack them up for the couple to use for the festivities every night during sheva brachot week!  

Monday, August 2, 2010

to jew or not to jew

we all know the answer to this question but somehow, we don't always jew it.  i'm going to let rabbi jacobovitz tackle this one.  in his book, perfect strangers: redefining intermarriage, he clearly lays out what it means to be jewish. from defining the deeper questions in life, to understanding judaism, to what it means to intermarry and its effects.  this book is a must read for anyone jewish who wants to better understand themselves and what a real relationship is all about.  

Sunday, August 1, 2010

sweeten your greeting

i know it's still summer but rosh hashana is around the corner.  so before it's too late, get a head start on your sweet greetings and think about mailing out rosh hashana cards this year.  i know snail mail has become undone but getting that personal card in the mail shows you care.  there are so many to choose from so just google around until you find the one that best suits your personality.  you can even design your own photo card on snapfish or the like.  either way, don't be late, some designs can take up to four weeks to process.  shana tova umetukah ~ have a sweet year!

perfect present for the bride-to-be

so your best friend just got engaged and you want to get her something cute and original.  before you start with all the personalized bride sweatshirts and martini glasses (that can wait until the bridal shower), get her something she will use immediately and more than once.  zazzle.com hosts the largest selection of wedding planners.  my fave is called the "polkadot bride" - it is a binder that that you fill up with your own pages.  this way, the bride can really customize it to her needs and you can help get her started!

the holiday for women

jewish women have their own holiday each and every month.  the start of each hebrew month is called rosh chodesh (meaning, in hebrew, head of the month).  rosh chodesh was actually the first commandment G-d gave to the jewish people.  but why is it a holiday for women?  women did not sin in the sin of the golden calf (when moses went up mount sinai to receive the torah from G-d, the jewish people miscalculated the day which he was supposed to descend and assumed had died so the men made a golden calf to be their g-d.) women are more internal and intuitive than men and they didn't lose hope even though everything around them was falling apart. they didn't lose faith and knew that moshe would return with G-d's torah for the jewish people. they were obviously right! as a reward, every rosh chodesh, every month, is considered a holiday for women.  so check your jewish calenders online for each new month (i recommend hebcal.com) and have a girls night and celebrate yourselves!

it's sunday

do you know what you are doing next shabbat?  whether you are new to the whole shabbat thing, or you have done it for years, shabbat.com has something for you.  this website sets you up with host families for shabbat, whether meals or the entire experience. so check out a new family, a new neighborhood, a new country.  even if you have done it all, shabbat.com could even lead you to your next shidduch (yiddish for match, as in your next date).  singles are using the site to meet other singles through the site and through meals.  meeting new host families is also a great way to get set up with singles you may not have met otherwise.  good shabbos! www.shabbat.com