Purim Review: Noah and the Ark

I know I only recently posted about Passover, but I’m obviously pretty behind the times for this blog. That said, Noah and I had pretty (in-my-humble-opinion) GREAT Purim costumes this year, so I didn’t want the opportunity to show a few pics of them to pass.

Purim is a holiday of “turning things upside down,” so silliness, unusual outfits, and general ridiculous are encouraged. Something I love about Purim as opposed to Halloween is that everyone is expected to get in on the fun – adults are more likely to get a look if they’re not dressed up than if they are! A couple weeks before Purim, Noah and I started talking about what we should dress up as for the holiday. We came up with the idea that it would be funny if one of us were *Noah* and one of us were the ark (pun intended). I would be Noah, obviously. The grand vision for the project required a couple trips to Michael’s to get the necessary supplies, and then the crafting began…

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Noah’s outfit was definitely the more labor intensive one, and it came out great!

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And just like that, we were showing our costumes off at the KI Megillah reading…TADA!:

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Like any good holiday, we also made time for some good eats. The weekend before Purim, we had some friends over to make hamantaschen (traditional Purim cookies shaped like Haman’s – BOOO! – hat) and mishloach manot (lit: sending portions – one of the four mitzvot of Purim). It’s customary to give mishloach manot to friends and neighbors as a way to build community and the holiday spirit – essentially they’re little snack/gift bags with at least two types of food in them. We got a mishloach manot delivered to our apartment by the religious school kids at our synagogue – it was extremely cute. Anyway…for our party we had lots of snack foods, fruit, candies, and – of course – the freshly baked hamantaschen for people to use as materials inside their mishloach manot.

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Some folks even got into decorating the bags….

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It was a lot of fun to bake and pack bags with everyone. And there was, of course, the added bonus of having all the mishloach manot made, and then we only had to give them out the rest of the week.

It was a great holiday and a lot of fun to celebrate with friends – I’m already wondering what my costume might be next year…!

 

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Date nights around Boston

Although school things have made me feel quite a bit busier, I’ve still managed to find some time to go out and about. And – of course – I can always make time when the situation really calls for it, such as this 3-weekends only performance of Rent by Fiddlehead Theatre, honoring the show’s 20-year anniversary.

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This was my 19th time seeing Rent…but now I’m wishing I’d gone twice since it would have been 20 shows for the 20th year. Oh well.

We also went downtown to the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille for afternoon tea.

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First we took a few laps around the (small and family-oriented) ice rink outside – pictured in the left background of the photo above…

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…and then we went into the Sea Grille for afternoon tea. Yeah, we felt fancy! We selected our tea varieties and then it came out with a neat timer to let us know when it had steeped:

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The tea also came with a variety of pastries, finger sandwiches, and biscuits (I forgot to take a picture because we were eating…). All in all, fun but a little pricey. It was an enjoyable afternoon out, but I doubt we’ll go again.

Last but not least, we finally went to Made by Me – a paint your own pottery place that’s right by our apartment and I’ve walked by a zillion times. Basically every time we pass by I say that I want to go there because I like painting things and I remember Noah’s and my visit to Paint Your Plate in Minneapolis very fondly. Noah planned our visit to Made by Me a few weeks ago, and I was very excited when he revealed what the evening activity would be. When we arrived, we spent a while checking out all the pottery options and the paint selection:

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As soon as I saw they had seder plates, I knew I wanted to paint one because Pesach was coming up shortly afterwards, and I thought it would be fun to have something I had created on the table! Noah chose an owl mug and then started researching feather patterns. 😉

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Ready to be fired:

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One week later the pieces were ready for pick up – they get so shiny after the firing!

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And I got to put the seder plate to good use shortly after!

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Formaggio Kitchen Cheese/Cider Tasting

A few weeks ago, Noah and I went to a Formaggio Kitchen class. Formaggio Kitchen is a luxury food store (specialty in cheese) in the area, and they offer cheese tasting classes that often include wine pairings/tastings or other special ad-ons. The classes fill up fast, and Noah and I had to reserve our class months in advance! We signed up for a cheese tasting class done in partnership with Bantam Cider – a local ciderhouse that focuses on making fresh, all-natural ciders.

After looking forward to the class for weeks, Noah and I were excited to make our way to Formaggio’s class location (separate location from their store). When we sat down, we looked over the tasting menu for the evening and preemptively nibbled on some bread:

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The first cheese was a clothbound cheddar (from Cabot in Vermont!), and it came paired with Bantam’s classic cider – Wunderkind.

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After round one, we received a plate with the next four types of cheese: a grand cru, comte, chabichou, and charmoix (pictured below, clockwise from the top).

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Each of the cheeses came from a particular fromager that the buyers from Formaggio Kitchen have a relationship with. It was fun to hear the stories about the buyers building relationships with different farms, producers, and fromagers.

Each cheese was paired with a different cider, and the various tastes were supposed to complement and enhance one another. In order, the ciders were Rojo (aged with sour cherries and black peppercorns), Hopped Scrumpy (added hops towards the end of the fermentation period), Blackberry Sour (tart blackberries give it a sour/fruity taste), and Wild One (a funky cider that is open-fermented with wild yeasts, also a bit sour).

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Michelle da Silva, one of the founders of Bantam, was also at the class, and she provided lots of information about the cider-making process as well as the specifics of each cider. The evening was fun and informative, although I think I am not a sophisticated enough cheese eater or cider drinker to have fully appreciated the benefit of the pairings. I’m definitely glad we went and it was a fun date (the sort of thing that would be an ideal gift for a cheese/cider/wine fan), but it was a bit pricey and I don’t anticipate going to another class. We were, however, inspired to make a trip to the Formaggio Kitchen store recently where we bought some fresh mozzarella for Noah to try on his pizza masterpieces.

To close, I’ll share a pro-tip I learned about cheese eating…for the serious cheese eaters who want to take in the full flavor profile of their cheese, it is best to eat cheese on its own – not with bread or crackers. Since the bread has yeast, it can absorb/distort some of the cheese tastes, so the purists prefer eating cheese solo. BUT, for all of you who want to keep your crackers and bread, no judgement here. I like the bread too. 🙂

Bridesmaid Bonanza

My best friend is getting married!!

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And lucky me gets to celebrate with her! A couple weekends ago I went to NY to celebrate a “triple threat” bachelorette celebration weekend: 1) morning bridal shower brunch, 2) afternoon bridesmaid limo winery tour, 3) evening bachelorette party.

The bridal shower honestly could not have been more perfect. Everyone helped out to plan different parts of the day, and it was so touching to see how much everyone there loved the bride, chipping in to make it an extra special event. From personal experience with my parts of the planning, however, I can say that the real planning star was the bride’s sister who put in a huge amount of effort to make everything absolutely wonderful. Such a labor of love and so, so beautiful. If you can’t tell, I got a bit emotional!

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After time for eating and drinking, we played a few games together as a group (there were a lot of female family members present as well as the bridesmaids/friends):

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After many stories were shared and laughs enjoyed by all, it was time for the limo to arrive! The gals grabbed our bachelorette goody bags (complete with brightly colored lipstick, party beads, crowns, and “team bride” wine glasses) and headed out for an afternoon of wine tasting:

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The first winery stop was at Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery. The winery was seriously crowded, but the area was huge and there was a lot of open grass to spread out on.

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In addition to wine, Warwick Valley also had beer, cider, pizza, and live music that people of all ages seemed to be out enjoying. After having some lunch outdoors on blankets, we went to the bar for our first wine tasting:

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I loved the Harvest Moon wine from the list above!

Wine me:

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Stop two on the tour was Clearview Vineyard. Clearview had a completely different feel from the first stop – it was much smaller, much less crowded, and had a much more intimate feel. The owner greeted us when we arrived, seated us, and personally introduced each of the wines in our tasting menu. He also gave the bride a special cork – very sweet.

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There were originally plans to go to a third winery after Clearview, but we were all exhausted and had been at it for almost 5 hours already, so we decided it was best to go back to the house and relax a little before the bachelorette festivities continued.

After a rejuvenating dinner of pizza, everyone headed upstairs to reveal the super-secret party room to the bride:

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Her reaction was amazing when she saw all the decorations – and I can’t blame her because I had the exact same feeling when I first saw the room. It looked incredible! She was immediately instructed to put on her new “feyonce” shirt…

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…and then the games began. Don’t worry though, the games were pretty tame – mainly involving a “guess who bought the lingerie” game, bride trivia, and some B-grade karaoke:

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But just in case you think things didn’t get rowdy…don’t worry. There were penis cookies.

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Pesach is over…and now PIZZA!

Hello dear friends and family – surely the only folks who are still reading this blog after such a long hiatus. I really love blogging and sharing life’s adventures in this format, but my time for advertur-ing (not to mention recounting those adventures) has been so low during this first year of grad school – it’s been a real challenge to find time to write. You know what they say, “all work and no play makes Mollie bad at blogging” – or something like that.

Anyway, I am back with a vengeance and feeling eager to give recaps of everything that’s happened since…sheepishly looks at old postsJanuary.

Pesach (Passover) has recently ended, and as Jews everywhere have metaphorically left Egypt, we now get to celebrate freedom by eating chametz (leavened wheat/spelt/barley/oats/rye products – forbidden during Passover) again. Noah and I marked the joyous return of bread with pizza tonight.

And if you are thinking we went out for pizza, think again! Because Noah’s pizza-making hobby is stronger than ever and I am reaping all the benefits.

 

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He is the greatest.

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I don’t want to complain about Pesach though – it’s actually one of my favorite holidays. In large part, probably, because of the two seders involved. Seder literally means order, and the seder is a ritual dinner held on each of the first two nights of Pesach (one night in Israel). The traditional text (preserved in the haggadah) as well as many of the seder rituals derive from thousands of years ago. How cool is that?! The seder is an important family/community/educational tool, and many find it to be so impactful and joyous that contemporary Jewish population studies show that even families who are uninvolved with other Jewish activities/events during the year still often participate in a seder (and light Chanukah candles).

…can you tell I’m studying Jewish community for a living grad school?!

Anyway, we had the chance to host Noah’s parents, some of his extended family, my brother, and a couple friends from Minneapolis at our house for the first seder. The table was set to impress:

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Cooking consumed the 48 hours before (huge efforts put in also by Noah’s mom who made a ton of the food and provided the classic family recipes!):

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And one of the seder plates we used was something I painted myself! I’ll hopefully recount that painting adventure in an upcoming post. Spoiler: it was part of a date night.

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Noah and his dad worked hard to determine the perfect seating arrangement:

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Overall, great holiday. And now, great pizza. 🙂