Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ask Chaviva Anything: In the Kitchen for Shabbat and Keeping Kosher

Are you ready for another installment of Ask Chaviva Anything? I know I am. I've gotten a ton of questions, and, guys, seriously, all these questions about when I'm returning "home" and when I'll be back in Israel, and what am I doing with my life by not being in Israel ... sigh. You're killing me. Home is where the heart is, and my heart (my husband and my kids) happen to be here in Denver, Colorado. I'm not moving back to Israel until I can afford it, until I don't have to live in the red, until I don't have to subject my children to the potential of hunger and debt collectors. That's when I'll go back to Israel. Unfortunately, that's not a close reality.

Anyway ... on to the questions!

How do you manage to make Shabbat with all your workload and two small children? Do you have some kind of routine up your sleeve? I need some tips and inspiration! Thank you!

This is a great question, and one I don't really have an answer to. It sort of just happens. In the old days, I'd cook on Thursday night after kids were in bed, but these days, I'm mostly exhausted by the time they both head to bed around 7 p.m. and/or I have work to do. So really what happens is that I set up my work station in the kitchen on Friday morning/early afternoon and multi-task like a crazy person. Laptop near the cutting board, oven preheating, and sometimes I'll have groceries delivered via Instacart just to save myself the trouble. This time of year, I rely a lot on crockpot dinners for Friday night and simple Saturday lunches like fish, rice, and vegetables. Ultimately the greatest struggle is when Shabbat hits, we don't always get everything done. So, for example, this past week I'd made a delicious side of salmon + rice with roasted cherry tomatoes and green beans, but we forgot to put the plata (hot plate) on. I managed to put the rice in a plastic bag, wrap the bag in foil, and set it on top of our hot water kettle to try and warm it up a bit so we weren't eating an entirely cold meal on Saturday for lunch. It sort of worked. My biggest "harrumph" this time of year is that I'm out of challah and haven't made any more. We can buy challah for my husband and son at the deli or grocery store, but for me, it's a production to make my gluten-free ha'motzi challah

So. It's basically chaos, but it always gets done. We also pick the kids up at the latest possible moment on Friday so we can get everything done. Oh! Also? I have a cleaning crew come every other Friday, so that keeps me sane. I had to stop trying to do it all, and although it's a hefty expense, it's one I had to deal with. 

Also? I spend a lot of time searching for easy recipes on the web and storing those for using on Shabbat. Honestly, I keep thinking of how much easier my life would be if we ate meat because I could easily make some chicken with rice in the oven. Cooking fish, tempeh, tofu, etc. is much more time consuming/needs much more delicate attention. 

What kitchen stuff would you not have in your kitchen because of not being able to make it kosher? For example, do you have a wooden cutting board and if you do how would you re-kosher it?

This is an interesting question, and one I haven't really even thought about. Truthfully, since nothing non-kosher comes into my kitchen, and because we are vegetarian at home, I don't have to worry about anything needing to be re-kashered. The one time of year that I do cook meat in my kitchen is Thanksgiving, and in this case, I just put my wooden cutting board away and bring out my meat cutting board. If this doesn't answer your question, let me know!

Review: Luly Baby Bandana Drool Bibs

I have this thing where my kids, bless their hearts, get really into food around 4 months of age. They start watching the food zip from plate to mouth, they begin grabbing at all the things, and they start chewing on everything food-like that they can.

So, as Little T approaches her 6-month-birthday on December 9, I'm happy to say she's been eating "real food" beyond "Mommy milk" for almost two months now. She's graduated recently to gnawing on cucumbers, eating oatmeal cereal with little berries in it, attempting to scarf pancakes that her brother gives her, and more. I've been pretty impressed with her love of food and eating, and it's just a sign of things to come.

Baby's first sushi! She loved it. She hated the bib. 

What are those things?

Those things are teeth.

Yes, my little baby is working her way towards chompers, which means she's drooling like crazy. So in addition to going through bibs like they're going out of style, we were also going through bandanas of the drool-catching variety pretty quickly. Unfortunately all of the ones I bought were pretty low-quality, until I was tapped to do a review of the Luly Baby Bandana Drool Bibs. I'm always super skeptical of baby products because there are so many copycats out there that do substandard product development, but the moment I opened these I knew these bibs were different.

The quality is apparent with the double-layered fabric (100% cotton backed with absorbent fleece), and the impressive neckline that conforms to Little T's neck to actually catch the drool and liquid from hitting her neck. Also? I love, love, love that these bibs have snaps! All bibs should have snaps. I'm loathe to buy bibs with velcro because they get snagged on everything and scratch up Little T's neck.

Also? They patterns are so cute and fashionable. Little T is making her way into the fashion world, one drool bib at a time. Get yours now on Amazon!

Note: I received these items free for my honest, unbiased review. All views presented in this post are my own, are super honest, and you can rely on that!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ask Chaviva Anything: LuLaRoe and Being a Busy Mom

I was super shocked, but awesomely excited to see so many questions asked so quickly when I posted the Ask Chaviva Anything revival! Here are some quick fun ones y'all asked.

If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?

With everything going on lately with work, I've been thinking about this a lot. For the longest time, I thought being a copy desk chief at The New York Times would have been the most epic job. Then, when I was super happy in my digital marketing role, I wanted to be the social media go-to in the Jewish nonprofit world. I quickly learned that could happen, but not with the financial outcome I'd hoped for. So, now, most recently, my dream job has been writing and consulting on digital marketing and PR. Someday, I'll be able to commit myself to writing again and to consulting (and actually getting paid for it ... because I give out way too much free advice these days and always) and having a schedule that makes sense for me. Someday, yes someday, I'll write my book. That would be the most epic job in the world for me. (Also, stressful as it is, being a mommy is pretty amazing, too.)

How are you enjoying being a LuLaRoe Consultant?

In a word: YES! I absolutely love it. I get all warm and fuzzy when I put an outfit together or talk to other women about clothing or how to style something to feel confident. Honestly, I wish I had more time for it, because I think I could really fly with it. It's really helped me cope with my social anxiety and introversion, which, honestly, are getting more intense as I get older. I'm so great online, in text-based communications, and even Facebook Live feeds because it's just me and the vast universe out there. No social pressure, no expectations. (Find my group on Facebook here!)

Do you have a family mission statement? (We did this exercise as a family and it was a lot of fun.)

This is ... wow. This is great. We must do this. Thank you for the great question and idea!

Some more involved questions and answers forthcoming (including several on Israel, unsurprisingly)! Have a question? Click here to ask me quite literally anything.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Review: Make All the Coffee with the Minos Moka Pot

In college, my friend John had a Moka Pot. I'm pretty sure that Andrew had one, too. I was jealous, but too lazy to make my own. Now? I've got the real deal, but this time, it's elevated and elegant.

Get yours:

Note: I received this product free for review from the vendor via 

Ask Chaviva Anything: The Revival

Is anyone still out there? Is anyone reading? I know some people still get my feed, but sometimes it feels like things go out into the ether and disappear. I remember when I used to blog multiple times a day, when there were gobs of comments, when the blogging community was full of people writing stories and talking about life rather than only hosting superficial giveaways. Ah, those were the days.

Anyhow, I'm reviving that much-beloved series that often resulted in some rude questions: Ask Chaviva Anything!

Click here to ask me quite literally anything.

It doesn't mean I'll answer, but I'll do my best.