Thursday, July 30, 2009

Save Your Local Mint Farm!!

The Crosby Mint farm needs our help! Once upon a time in Michigan there were 60 mint farms. Now there are only 4 and the oldest mint farm, the Crosby farm is in threat of foreclosure! Just so you know, I am a huge fan of mint and am pretty convinced that mint can do just about anything! I grow several kind myself, and I have used it to calm nerves, give me midday energy, get rid of a headache, sooth a tummy ache, make a cool refreshing drink, etc. Not to mention a delicious addition to many recipes! You name it I find mint can do it! They are offering a $5 dram sale and a great package deal! Really, you need some! They are super to stick in an emergency or first aid kit and make very good gifts. Check out the video and let's help the Crosby's keep the farm!

Here are pictures of the mint I grow. Just a small amount and I haven't a distiller to get the oil from it so I do buy mint essential oils.

This is a picture of this years peppermint. It is so strong and yummy!

These are my pots of peppermint and spearmint.

This is my darling applemint, my absolute favorite! I make a wonderfully refreshing tea from this. My mother grew this when we lived in Chicago and I remember loving the fuzzy leaves.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Memories of Summer Time Sewing & Home School

It must be that time of the year. Always towards the end of summer, when my children were much younger, I remember doing lot of sewing to prepare for the colder seasons. Living in Lancaster County made it quite easy for me. There were wonderful fabric stores in the center of the tourist area, that I loved going to. It was so much fun to go with my daughters and pick out material for our fall and winter dresses and jumpers. We would buy many yards of fabric (and even occasionally bolts) usually at really good discount prices. Why so much fabric you may be wondering? Well, once upon a time, I made all of my daughters and my clothing. I loved sewing , and I loved knowing I could do it. Talk about feeling like eishet chayil! I had lots and lots of dress and jumper patterns and just loved looking through them and choosing what we were going to wear for the season. Now mind you, back then I also bought knit material for dresses. My Amish and Mennonite neighbors were HUGE fans of the synthetic knit fabric singing it's praises and convincing me of it's many virtues. It actually did make nice looking and easy to care for dresses, although we only wore these in the colder months because they were too hot for the summer and spring. (BTW, I did eventually get away from the knits altogether. We soon discovered the comforts and coziness of cotton flannel).

This was also the time of year when I would be pouring over curriculum catalogs, searching for the perfect subject or ideas for our home school the next year. It's really interesting to me how intensely I feel and miss this rhythm in my life. For example recently I was with a friend who is planning on homeschooling her son part time next year. He will only be attending a Jewish day school for his religious studies and will be home schooled for his secular. She was so very excited talking to me about what she is learning regarding education and looking at different curriculum. She was so animated and passionate that I just sat smiling and enjoying her enthusiasm. Laughingly she finally said, "I'm sorry, I could go on for hours!" I smiled and replied that it was not that long ago that the lady sitting across the table was me. I was a tad bit envious of her excitement, but my time is done in that area.

It suppose it would a good idea to begin recreating some other ritual for this time of the year. I could certainly sew, and I may do that for old times sake and because I need to teach my youngest daughter to sew. But I think I do need to come up with some other rituals, create a new rhythm that I will look forward to each end of summer. Any ideas?

Monday, July 27, 2009

IMO, guarding the eyes

So, there is an article up on a website that someone posted as a note over on facebook. (things get around on the internet) It is on shmirat ha eynayim, guarding the eyes. I read the article and the only thing that happened to me was I managed to get very annoyed. So, I decided to write about it and give my not so humble opinion. My blog, my opinion. (oh yeah, I said it!)

Personally, I think 30 minutes praying about shmirat ha'lashon would be better spent. Moreover, articles like these tend to make women feel like pariahs. Why? Because many, many frum men I see do not just practice shmirat ha eynayim when they see 'immodest' women, they do it when they see anyone female. I can admire and respect a man who lowers his eyes when a scantily clad woman walks by but I think it is ridiculous when I am walking down the street on shabbat and I say, shabbat shalom and the male walking on the sidewalk either looks the other way or barely glances at me, scoots as far away from me as possible on the sidewalk and mumbles 'gut shabbas'. I try to think positively, maybe he really has serious issues he is dealing with. But everyone one of them?! What happened to be a mensch? A gentleman? You certainly do not need to ogle a woman, but a nod of the head and acknowledgment of the lady's existence is polite enough.

It seems to me that articles like these are also insulting to men. They seem to have been reduced to nothing more than animals who can do nothing about themselves and their drives and therefore should never,ever look at anyone female for fear of G-d knows what!

I will never forget when I was relatively new to orthodoxy and I traveled to see a Rabbi who shall remain nameless, speak. I read his writings, I communicated with him via email and I could not wait to hear him. I went with two other ladies and afterward wanted very much to speak with him. So there I was waiting my turn for quite some time when it became embarrassingly obvious he had no intention of speaking to me. I could not believe it and could not figure out what was wrong. He spoke to other women, but then I began to realize that they had their husbands with them and I just had two other women. I felt humiliated when the light bulb went off in my then unaware head and walked away. Over the course of several days, I kept wondering if I should write to said rabbi to apologize, (not exactly sure for what) or try to explain myself. I really felt awful and finally just decided to let it go since quite frankly, I just did not get it.

And I still don't. I can only help but wonder how articles and teachings like these can, will and are taken to extremes. It makes me wonder what is going to be next on the agenda.

NOTE: All due respect to the website where the article was found. I learn much from this site, but I am reserving my right as a Jew to argue and disagree. We have a long and wonderful history of "two Jews, three opinions". And this sephardi lady has opinion a'plenty! Peace!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Solar Eclipse

This is a beautiful video from the BBC taken July 22, 2009. (sorry. the BBC removed the video because of copyright laws, you will find the link to the video below) It is of the full solar eclipse that occurred over parts of India and Asia. This particular eclipse was the longest total solar eclipse during the 21st century, and will not be surpassed until June 2132. Wikipedia states: "A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth so that the Sun is fully or partially covered. This can only happen during a new moon, when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction as seen from the Earth. At least two and up to five solar eclipses can occur each year on Earth, with between zero and two of them being total eclipses. Total solar eclipses are nevertheless rare at any location because during each eclipse totality exists only along a narrow corridor in the relatively tiny area of the Moon's umbra."

I know this can all be explained scientifically, but that did not take away the awe and chills I felt as I watched this phenomenon. To me it was terrifyingly beautiful! I think it is awesome that this happens so rarely and only around the New Moon. The New Moon is symbolic for us of new beginnings. Here the sun is covered but you still see it's light ring. The darkness is temporary. It's so appropriate for the month of Av. A time when we mourn the loss of our Holy Temple. But the darkness is only temporary. You can see the light rings, if you look.

I particularly like what bursts forth around 2:12 on the video. A reminder that this ancient symbol speaks to us of the interconnectedness of the heavens and the earth, of man and woman, of the Holy One and us.

Here is the link to the video of the solar eclipse here!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And now for a word from our sponsors:

It should come as no surprise that I am HUGE supporter of the American Farmer, as I am sure you are too. After all, we all eat food and therefore would never think to bite the hand of those who feed us, would we? Some things that my family and I try very hard to do is to grow some of what we eat, I am in Philly after all, so I can't grow a whole lot at least not until I can convince my neighbors to forgo their lawns for some serious urban farmette-ing. We also try to buy our produce from local farmers and farm markets. Obviously when I lived in Lancaster, this was immensely easier, but in spite of my Urban location it is not impossible. Free range eggs and local organic milk is also something we are pretty strict about, especially the eggs. Buying food from locally sustained farms, especially organic, sends a loud and clear message to our farmers and to big agri-business.It tells our farmers that we need and appreciate them and how very vital they are to our health, economy and lives! It tells the big agri-businesses that they can no longer control our food and our health.

Take some time and check out these two videos. This first one is interview out on PBS with the director of Food Inc.

This second one is a full length film called The Future of Food. I assure you neither of these will be a waste of your time and may help open your eyes to what has happened to our food. I know they opened mine!

Educate yourselves, support your local farms and not the big pharms! Know what you are eating and make positive decisions that effect your health and the health of your children, the Country, the World, and the Earth!

It is time to open your eyes and see what you are really eating!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Welcome to Planet Earth, Please Fasten your Seatbelts

The youngest member on our family was born to my (step)daughter this past Sunday at 11:53 AM. After enjoying a quiet time in her mother's womb for nine months and a smooth and relatively easy labor, complications began to develop right at the end. When my (step)daughter arrived at the hospital she was already 9 cm. dilated and everyone was sure baby would wrapped in a blanket contentedly nursing in an hour. But an hour turned into two and when my (step)daughter's labor did not progress they decided to break her water bag. Once they did, they realized that Baby had a bowel movement prior to birth. Normally when this occurs, it is a small amount and mommy has to deliver slowly so baby does not ingest the meconium. Apparently mommy's water was quite green and filled with the babies meconium. After another hour or so which was accompanied by baby's lowered heart rate, they finally decided to perform a C-section. Mommy was of course, quite distressed. Thankfully, she had the support of her husband and other family members, all of us praying for her safety and that of the unborn baby. After what felt like hours and hours, our new baby entered the world. But that was not to be the end of that stage of her journey. Our little one was not breathing when she arrived and the doctors worked hard to get her little lungs working. On top of that, she had also ingested alot of the meconium and had to have that removed. My (step) daughter did not get to hold her daughter when she was born, but she did get tosee her. They shuttled our little one off to NICU and then sent her via helicopter to Philadelphia. (She was born in New Jersey). After several days of much worry and fervent prayers I am happy to tell you all that our dear grand baby is doing much better. She is off all of her medicines and is breathing almost completely on her own. Mommy and daddy are also well and are with baby everyday. Mommy pumps her milk to give her new daughter and has quite a supply already in the freezer! Although our little one is still in the hospital, we are looking forward to her homecoming, G-d willing, very, very soon.

NOTE: I really dislike the use of the term stepdaughter as she is very much my daughter. I simply use it to help you, the reader, understand the members and who makes my beautiful family.