Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lessons learned of the Pesach cleaning

Finally b''H, the Pesach cleaning was done in time. At the limit of time, but still ready for the intensive cooking I plan to start tomorrow early in the morning. I must confess that this year I was incredibly late, as one week before the hag, I was still procrastinating, thinking about how can I start the cleaning and the preparations. Right now, I keep being late, with the menu still unclear, as unclear is the place where we will spend the second seder
Despite all the shortcoming, I dare to think about the lessons learned that hope to respect carefully the next year. The most important are:

- Start planning the cleaning as soon as possible. After Purim, as I always used to do. Start little by little, one corner at a time, and be sure that you move fast enough to be ready at least 5 days before Pesach. It is such a good feeling to know that you still can rest and have the mind clear for preparing the menu and the schedule for chol hamoed
- Involve your family: my big mistake this year is that I wanted to do almost everything by my own. When they saw that I am getting too far, they decided to help and, honestly, they saved me at least one day when felt too tired to continue doing at the same time: kashering, washing loads of clothes, selecting the things we don't need and putting in order those that we want to keep.
- Relax from time to time, or while doing the boring cleaning: listen to some shiurim - as usual, I used the resources from YUTorah and WebYeshiva, catching up with the learning - or some Pesach music. Thus, one can already enter the feeling of the holidays and the hard cleaning gets a different perspective.
- Pesach means more than cleaning. It means a return to humility, to modesty and thoughts about what really matters in life. For the next days, we are trying to nurture our spiritual side. What we build during the next days should be the basis for the rest of the year. I wish the next year cleaning will be easier also because I would think twice before bringing at home or buying things that I actually don't need. 

It's all for now. Enough talking and thinking, time to relax for a little bit before a long cooking marathon tomorrow!
Hag kosher v'sameah!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Interior design shop review: Lammfromm and Vogel, Berlin

Situated on Hohenzollerndamm 12 in Berlin, near the U-Bahn/metro station with the same name, this shop invites you in for a long and colourful journey.
From the very beginning, the window decorations called me in. Curtains with flowers and stylish birds, looking like escaped from a natural science book, or Asian motives are encouraging the imagination to run away till one will find his or her perfect house. Is too beautiful to miss, even though you might not be ready to dramatically change the style of your house.
With so many models and imprints, you may consider a very simple room decoration, with minimal furniture. The colourful joy brought in by the colours is enough.
The options are diverse and the big shop offers enough options for any style. From the big flowers, to some simple silk white curtains or some playful imprints for your children's room, everything is there. You need time to browse to the samples. 
 In case that a choice is difficult, the customer service is kind enough to help you.
The prices are starting from 100 Eur. and the curtains can be adjusted on place for answering your needs. Thus, before you leave the house, be sure that you have the dimensions you are looking for.
Everything looks high-class and elegance, style and perfection.
Some of them are so beautiful that I wish I can use them for a beautiful dress, or two, or more than two...Enough procrastination for now, let's plan a perfect Pesach house for now.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tzniut selection from summer 2014 Chloé collection

It is not always easy to find dedicated tzniut fashion stores, but with a little bit of patience, it is possible to find some interesting suggestions. The last week, I browsed some of the models from the summer collection 2014 by Chloé.
Here are some of the highlights:

I love this Onyx Black top, which can go elegantly with any long skirt, especially black, white or any other pastel colour. It works for both day and evening occasions, is elegant, but not pretentious. 
The khaki beige top can go very elegantly with a beige cotton long sleeve top. It's rather a choice for a special occasion. You can wear it for the day or the evening, mostly in the spring and summer. 
The tuareg amber blue dress is an excellent choice for a special occasion - a bris or wedding especially - with a long beige skirt, for instance. Is a bit sophisticated, but you can wear it both in the evening or for the day, in the early spring or autumn. 
This light khaki and khaki beige suits a summer Shabbes day. I will only add a beige shawl to cover the collar bones. It's a good choice for all those young at heart and the smooth combination of colours brings elegance yet decency. 
I love blue colour a lot, and this dress is a great choice for the summer or early autumn. With a white or light blue shawl as well.
Another gorgeous blue: the tuareg blue top, which suits young girls but not only. It goes with a long dark blue or black skirt and maybe for more tznua reasons, a beige or light blue shawl. It goes especially for the day, in the winter or spring.

The petrol blue top is a little bit more sophisticated, but it's enough to blueprint the entire outfit, that can be very well full black. For sheva brachos, or wedding or a wedding anniversary looks like a smart investment.
The same can be said about this ash grey top, which I will also wear on hagim, Shabbes or when visiting relatives, regardless of the season.
This shirting white dress can be used as a blouse and matched with a beige, black, brown and white long skirt. An elegant and discrete day summer outfit.

As for the accessories, there are many choices, among them nice bracelets - if you like the little bit big type - and the discrete and colourful bags - I want all of them, seriously!

Source of the photos: 

Maybe it's the right time to buy yourself something nice for Pesach!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pesach cleaning! Who, me?

Don't know what is going on with me this year, but I am 2 weeks before Pesach and not even started the cleaning. Most part of the ladies I know, are already half through it and are working hard to finish the last details of the menu. Me, I am finding every day more excuse to procrastinate, one being that my daily work is too exhausting and demanding to keep myself a whole day busy preparing two weeks in advance. 
To be honest, this is a relatively new mindset, as I am always very organized, with a clear plan in mind and on paper about the main benchmarks of Pesach preparation shortly before Purim. But in the last months, I had the occasion to see that I am usually quite fast, and able to make short-notice preparations relatively spontaneous. Most of the Shabbos during the winter time were done under time pressure and b''H, everything went well. 
Not me, this time. Source:
Compared with other families we know, we are not such a big family, we don't have such a big house and most probably two full days before Pesach will be enough to get ready. We don't expect guests this year either and we plan to spend the entire time reading and learning together. As for the menu as such, I am quite stringent and there will not be too many lavish options anyway.
As in many situations that occurred in the last 12 months, I prefer to take things easy, count till 10 and avoid any stress and pressure. Pesach is more than getting to your physical limits, it's about being ready for Geula. 

Meet the Masterplan

Just in case, here are a couple of benchmarks that I usually follow for my general cleaning plan on Pesach:
- getting rid of the unused things: books, publications, used shoes, clothes, toys, makeup; I usually sell the books or donate some of them, and I donate the toys and clothes; I have no idea how so many things are accumulated over the year, but we are serious consumers and we invest and gather a lot of unuseful things; by far, this is one of the longest process, because it requires a careful selection process and long deliberations about why we don't need some things; 
- using the food gathered over the last months - it saves a lot of money that can be used for buying food for Pesach - especially if you don't have too many kosher options in your area, ordering from abroad can be a serious investment;
- washing - we accumulate mountains of clothes that we should have clean before Pesach; to this, I always add the table clothes, towels and curtains - in maximum 6 hours everything is done and while the washing machine is working, I can do some other work too; 
- planning the time in advance - where we will spend the two Seders - I usually prefer to have one at home and another one outside (case in which a reservation should be made as soon as possible); however, due to my chumros, we usually spend a lot of time with my Askenazi friends; the chol hamoed we spend outside, with trips in the city, museums, parks, zoos, reading and learning. We try to spend as much as possible time outside, without Internet or busy cell phones. 
- kashering is usually done shortly before Pesach and it may last for at least 48 hours. Selling the chometz is part of the same time schedule.
- the shopping list, which means that I have to know relatively well what we will eat - except matzos, many veggies, wine and eggs, many eggs. Also, we need to have enough plastic wares.
-  shopping - this activity takes more time than usual, even more than cleaning, because many of the items we are looking for are not easy to find. Besides the usual foodie shopping, we also buy new clothes and some new shoes maybe. 
- lessons learned, when we try to find out what it worked, what we need to correct the next time, how we can improve our time management; last but not least, maybe the next time we will finally be able to go to a very lavish kosher for Pesach resort and enjoy the full time of the chag without backpains and headaches and with the focus only on learning. Maybe the next year.

This is the usual timeline. I can do the cleaning fast, the planning slower and decide the menu longer. Despite all the hassle and the pain and the difficulties of managing the daily life and job with the stringencies of the cleaning, I can't wait for Pesach. It's one of the best times for me, when I always took the best decisions and followed my heart for the next moves in life. 

Can't wait but looking forward to it!