Category Archives: holidays

The Greatest Gift


I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what to get my mom for the holidays, but all I can think about are the wonderful gifts she’s given me over the years. It goes without saying that she and my dad spoil their grandchildren rotten (with full approval from me!) and have helped my husband and I purchase some big ticket items to make our house a home, but as I stand in my kitchen waiting for menorah and star-shaped cookies to cool so the kids can decorate them, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the little things my mom has lovingly (and wisely) given me over the years that I never knew I wanted but have grown to cherish.

An apron. I love to shop, but there are certain items I have a hard time buying for myself, including perfume, makeup, pajamas, and aprons. Why would I buy an apron when I could buy a scarf or a sweater or shoes or a bag? You get the idea. My mom travels with an apron. This is a true story. I don’t remember when she gave me mine because it was that long ago, but she once came for a visit and packed two aprons but only brought one home.

A KitchenAid Mixer. As much as I begged for and drooled over the Vitamix Mike gave me for Christmas a few years ago (it is awesome), it doesn’t get nearly as much use as my KitchenAid Mixer. I enjoy baking, and, interestingly, my picky-eater kids have never met a cookie they didn’t like. I’ve mixed a heck of a lot of cookie dough and brownie and cake batter in my KitchenAid Mixer since becoming a mom, and, frankly, I’d be lost without it.

A cookie scoop. My husband often confuses this ingenious gadget for an ice cream scoop, but it is, in fact, a scoop that allows you to place equally sized and round servings of cookie dough on a baking sheet, which helps avoid cookie-on-cookie “stickage” in the oven.

A high quality, insulated, non-stick cookie sheet. My chocolate chip cookies are delicious in part because they bake evenly and slide seamlessly from the sheet to the cooling racks. Trust me, it makes a difference.

That silicone shield thingy that keeps pie crust edges from burning. A few years ago, I made an apple pie from scratch for Thanksgiving. I didn’t have the silicone shield thingy yet, but that was the least of my problems. Peeling all of those flipping apples made me batty, and childbirth was less complicated than making a pie crust from scratch! My valiant effort prompted my mom to purchase the silicone shield thingy. I admit I’ve never used it, but it serves as a reminder that she believes in my bake-a-pie-from-scratch potential, and it’s an inspiration to someday try again. (Maybe.)

A pastry mat. This thing is so cool, especially if you live in a small space. Basically, it’s a large rectangular-shaped silicone mat on which you can kneed or roll dough. It’s perfect for rolling out holiday cookies. It has horizontal and vertical measurements on the edges and outlines for circular pies that range from six to ten inches in diameter (if you’re crazy, er, skilled enough to make pie crust from scratch). Best of all, you can wipe it clean and roll it up for storage. It serves a huge purpose, but takes up zero space.

I still don’t know what to give my mom, but I know a love of baking is one the greatest gifts she’s given to me (and my boys). Maybe I’ll bake something for her. One thing for sure is that it won’t be an apple pie…unless she puts on her apron and helps.

What’s the greatest gift your mom has given to you?



Filed under baking, gifts, holidays, motherhood

It’s That Time of Year


It’s December 1st. The Elf on the Shelf is officially reaping havoc (and annoying everyone in his path), advent calendars are open for business, Christmas trees are tied to the tops of cars, houses are donned with twinkle lights, and for some us, dreidels, latke recipes, menorahs, and chocolate gelt are being prepped for Hanukkah, which begins on the evening of December 6th.

As such, I present to you one of my favorite posts, A Jewish Mama’s “Christmas for Dummies.” If I can survive it, so can you!

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Filed under Christmas, Hanukkah, holidays


When I run up a steep hill, I chant, “Sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries,” for motivation. During the long, hot, sticky, and unstructured weeks of summer, I chant, “September, September, September.”

I love September. I love the weather. I love the foliage. I love the clothes. I love the warm cider and apple donuts. I love the new television season. I love the fresh start and the feeling that anything is possible. I love it all, and I want nothing more than to revel in this most wonderful time of the year.

But it’s a whirlwind. There are birthdays and anniversaries and back to school nights and soccer games and doctor’s appointments and teacher conferences and books to (want to but never actually) read and pumpkins to carve and Halloween costumes to order and crafting fantasies (and failures) and flu shots and school projects and more birthdays and anniversaries and holiday shopping and party planning and the grand finale of ThanksgivingHanukkahChristmasNewYears, at which point I’ll surely chant, “sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries.”

September is like a scrumptious amuse-bouche. It’s a delectable, bite-sized start to an epic meal that always leaves me stuffed to the gills and incapable of taking another bite before the main course ever arrives (except for sweet potato fries because there’s always room for sweet potato fries).

Outside, the trees are turning gorgeous shades of orange, yellow, and red, and I keep telling my boys, “Look up, look up, look up,” because soon the branches will be bare, the wind will whip, the deep cold will settle in, and the next time I come up for air will be mid-January, at which point I’ll wistfully chant, “Summer, summer, summer,” followed almost immediately by, “September, September, September.”


Filed under anniversary, birthday, Christmas, Halloween, Hanukkah, holidays