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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How Do You Do Passover?

All the Passover foods
As I've said many times on this blog, I'm fascinated by the minutiae of life, how we make decisions big and small, and how there are so many ways to do the same things. And so now I'm going to pull back the curtain on how we celebrate Passover (or Pesach) in our home. Because as you know, a clean kitchen is very important to me.

While I'm showing you all of this, you should know that our practice is largely driven by how Marc would like to observe things for the week, as I didn't grow up doing anything like this. So I can't take much credit for how this has evolved (and evolved is definitely the right word), but I still think it's interesting to share.

For those that don't know, during the eight days (though some people do seven) of Passover, you can't eat any chametz, which is defined as any leavened food. There are many intricacies and ways to follow these rules, but basically, there's no bread, pasta, cereal, cookies, or anything like that for eight days. Instead, we eat matzah, a cracker-like substance that represents how quickly we needed to leave Egypt when we were slaves, as our bread dough did not have time to rise.

For our family, it's not just about what we eat, though there is a lot of attention paid to that subject alone. But we also take the extra step of putting away all of the dishes, pots and pans, utensils and small appliances we typically use, and do an extra deep cleaning to try to remove any chametz from the kitchen. Then we bring up plastic tubs filled with our Passover dishes, pots and pans, utensils and (very few) small appliances, separated for meat and dairy meals, and we use those, supplemented by paper goods as needed, for the length of the holiday. When we first started celebrating Passover together, Marc had a fairly bare bones collection of separate kitchen items, but the collection has grown every year, and we seem to find something new to add each year. This year also meant buying a new microwave. Ours died some time ago, but Marc waited to replace it until the holiday, so it will definitely be chametz-free.

A few photos to show you how we do it in our house. First, the photo at the top of the post shows the corner of the counter where all of the food is set out for the week, things we'd normally keep in a pantry. There is Kosher for Passover cereal, snacks, various desserts and candy, even new ketchup.


Here's our famous apple green countertops, with none of our typical appliances pushed up against the wall. No toaster, no Cusinart, no heavy wooden cutting board; they've been stored in another room for the holiday. Even the drying rack got a deep clean with the kitchen steamer before we're using it for the week. You'll also notice the blue electrical tape on some of the cabinets, there to remind us not to use the contents in those cabinets during the holiday. There are a couple of new baking sheets on the stove top as well; we'll use those for Passover this week, and then they'll transition to become regular everyday use afterward, since we really needed some new baking sheets too.


These are our Passover plastic tubs that hold all of the items we use specifically for the holiday. We've accumulated more over the years, or decommissioned some items from everyday to Passover-only (like a set of orange mixing bowls that I think my parents were given as a wedding gift; I used them in college, now they're Passover only).

So there's a peek inside our Passover process. I'd love to see yours, or to hear about some other traditional items you use at different points in the year!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

10 Years at Home

We closed on our house 10 years ago. Here's how it was then, with me, Marc and 2yo Hannah:

April 2006


 And here's how it is now, plus a shot of Max in the front yard, since he didn't even exist back then:

April 2016


I'm really lucky to call this place home.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Glimmers

I'm a bit lost.

Not in a traditional sense. Or maybe the most traditional sense. I'm approaching 40, after all. But I haven't been feeling much like myself lately.

A story:

When Hannah was just a baby, maybe 10 months old, I went to a book reading at the Brookline Booksmith. At the time, we lived about 2.5 blocks from the Booksmith, but as I was working full-time, parenting an infant, and going to school for my MBA part-time, I didn't spend much time in bookstores. We were also in a relatively new home, involved in new communities, practically still newlyweds. Constants were hard to come by, but writer Catherine Newman had become one for me.

When I was pregnant with Hannah, Newman's columns on BabyCenter were a lifeline for me. She updated them weekly, but I'm sure I went back in time and read the entire archive. Her daughter, nicknamed Birdy, is close to Hannah's age, and Newman's blog became a book, "Waiting for Birdy." Though I felt like I already knew the story, I devoured the book too, and made attending the book reading a priority. This was 2004, and while it's hard to believe now, meeting people you knew through the internet was still a rarity discussed in hushed tones.

So when Newman came to town, I was there, probably sitting in the front row. She read and I nodded along eagerly. She signed my book, and complimented my smile, a complimenting strategy that works so well with new mothers who may be wearing ill-fitting, possibly stained clothing, no make up, and haphazard ponytails, but who at least made sure to brush their teeth that day. She didn't invite me to be her new best friend on the spot, but she still bothered to connect with me, and with her stories of slightly older son Ben, I knew that there was light further down in the tunnel, ahead of what I could picture then.

I left the reading feeling more like myself than I had in a long time. It was a glimmer of how I could, and would, feel again, with time. I think I did feel that way for a while, but I've lost it again.

I see glimmers of that version of myself sometimes: a really productive day, a new way of thinking about an old problem. But the hard thing is that the glimmer is all about me. It can't be generated by something my kids do, or some goal we've reached as a family, though those things contribute to it. Maybe it sounds selfish, but I need to have things that are just my own, too. And so much of my life right now doesn't feel like it's about me.

Newman has a new book out. Though I've kept up with her blog all these years, like me, she's shared less and less about Ben and Birdy as they've grown. I'm looking forward to reading it, and catching up with them again. I wonder if, in the intervening 12 years between her books, Newman also felt a little lost sometimes too. I wonder if, with the publication of this new book, she's catching a glimmer of herself again. I hope that the glimmer is actually a glow.

And maybe I'll catch her on her next book tour.