Rosh hashana preparations, and napkin ring challot

Here we are at this time of the year again, – Rosh Hashana is right around the corner! I am sitting here in my holiday-decorated home, feet up, candles lit, wine in my glas, – yes, life is good!

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For the last few days, we have done a bit of preparations every day. The majority of the shopping we did already last week, – sooo happy with that decision as the supermarkets get pretty crazy in the days leading up to a major holiday like Rosh Hashana. (It is like we think we will never be able to shop for food again!) Yesterday I drove by a couple of supermarkets on my way to a wedding, and just driving by the parking-lots was stressful!!

Anyway, this year’s rosh-hashana-shopping was a breeze for me! I just wrote a detailed list, sent it with my husband who went to a supermarket late at night after work, and brought everything home on his motorbike! (He is amazing, I know!)

bringing home shopping on bike

And then on Sunday I started the cooking. I made a huge pot of chicken soup that day, and a lot of challot, because all of that does fine with a few days in the freezer. I tried something new with the challah this year. Always for Rosh Hashana I make round challot, as it symbolizes the circle of a year, we end one and start a new one. (By the way, – here is the recipe!)

round challot

So, in addition to two large challot on our holiday-table this year, we will each have a mini round challah as a napkin-ring! It was so easy too!

braiding challah

I just made these looong thin braided challahs (with nice help from the princess), and then connected them in rings to foil-covered empty papertowel-rolls.

challah napkin rings

I brushed them with an eggyolk, and baked them for about 12 minutes, let them cool slightly before disconnecting them from the rolls, and they came off really easily. Fun stuff!

challah napkin rings

And while I am showing you my productions, – here are some of my Rosh hashanah gifts:

raspberry jam

Raspberry-jam made from the raspberries we picked in Norway this summer, and then froze and brought back home with us to Jerusalem. Yummy, and fun to share! 🙂 And I must say, – just the smell of the jam as it is being made…. I can just close my eyes, and I am back in Norway for a moment…

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As I have been busy preparing for this after work for the last few days, it is helpful that the kids have started to help with lunch-preparations. This was the princess´ turn at it:

cooking lunch

No worries, she was only in charge of the pot in the front, – cooking pasta. I was making chicken soup and jam in the back pots.

While it is nice to have big kids who can help out and stuff, I am glad my kids are still young enough to enjoy crafts in preparations for the holidays. We have had our craft-station set up at the diningroom-table, creating a really fun atmosphere.

kids craftHere we are, at the day before the holiday, and I woke up this morning with a feeling of that today will be an efficient day. So the first thing I did was write a long list of everything I was going to get done after work. And let me tell you, some things on that list were so much more tempting than other things. I like baking, cooking and decorating soooo much more than cleaning and ironing… So the kids and I made a plan in the afternoon, that we were going to finish cleaning the house before opening our Rosh-Hashana-decoration-box. They both worked well on their rooms and put away laundry, while I vacuumed the house, cleaned the bathrooms and changed the beds, – and then came the prize of decorating! Fun fun fun!!!

Of course we put on the right music to put us in the mood, and then it is always fun to find the crafts that they have made the previous years, and all the other decorations that we keep from year to year. It is all simple stuff, but it is still the things that we use year after year, so it has a certain value to us.

Tomorrow I will cook the meats and some side-dishes. Desserts were made today. And then there is the special prize for tomorrow, – the setting and decorating of the table! My sweet mother in law kindly offered to come set the table for me to help me out. But I explained to her, – that is why I invite people, so that I get to decorate a nice table!!! 😉

We are going to have long tables for both nights of the holiday, and then plan on a more relaxing shabbat afterwards. I am really looking forward to all of it! Planning to enjoy it all!

Our family photo from the kotel this year

Our family photo from the kotel this year

I am hoping to stop by the blog again tomorrow, and maybe show you how the napkin-rings look at the actual table and stuff, but in case time does not allow, – I wish you all a shanah tovah u’metukah – a good and sweet new year!

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Loving life, – challenges and all.

Often I find myself wanting to post a photo to instagram with hashtags like lovingfridays, lovingsundays, lovingeverydaylife etc. And, yes, this is how I feel; – I love my life! I love all the little parts of it; the beauty of a sunrise over Jerusalem, the satisfaction of flowers growing in the garden, the joy of laughing with my children. I have SO much to be thankful for!

sunrise over Jerusalem

However, – this does not mean that my life is free of challenges. And I wanted to share a thought I had on this challenge-part as I sat here in the quietness of the evening. The challenges come along to help us grow in our dependency on our Heavenly Father. For me they are a reminder that I cannot make it on my own, I need Him.

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When I look at challenges in this perspective, they receive added meaning, and they don’t seem quite as draining as they easily would have seemed otherwise. Now, when there is something that is just too big for me to handle, instead of being overwhelmed, I can be thankful for the reminder that I don’t have to handle it all by myself. I am just little me in the Hand of my Maker, and may I hear His guiding voice and walk in the ways He has for me, always.

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The real life

We have been home in Israel for a week now. It feels like way longer, and it feels soooo good! Not that we did not have a good time in Norway; -it was as always a very blessed time with family there, and there is no arguing about it, – it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. (Oh, and just to update you: After three weeks in Gaza, my husband was able to come and join us for the end of our time in Norway. #verythankful!)

My beloved ones on a fiord in Norway.

My beloved ones on a fiord in Norway.

But this, Jerusalem, Israel, this is HOME. This is where real life is happening for us. And this time we settled in in no time. Literally, as the plane landed on Ben-Gurion, and I turned my phone on, messages came in from the children’s friends who wanted to get together with them as soon as we would just get home. So there were playdates immediately, and sleepovers and water fights and lunch parties. Good times.

Wet fun.

Wet fun.

And it is not only the children who hit the ground running as far as meeting up with their friends. The day after we made it home, we hosted a large gathering for our weekly Torah-study. Good times indeed. And I am so glad that I was able to make it home before good friends moved into our neighborhood, so I could welcome them with fresh cookies! And today I was able to bring a meal over to another dear friend who just gave birth to an absolutely adorable little girl! So much happening in our community! So much building and growing and good stuff! There is surely very much to be thankful for!

And this is the life. This is the real life. Vacation is good. But this is the real thing. Life. Working. Building. Together. I actually feel that nowhere is life more real than in Israel. In more ways than one.

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We also had a chance to help a brand new family of immigrants here in Jerusalem buy a refrigerator. Again, – this is the life! Witnessing ancient prophecies happening in front of our eyes! God is bringing His people home and planting them in the land of their inheritance! And we get to take our little part in it! What a privilege!

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The children started school again this week, and the first three days have been really good. What a relief and a blessing for a mother’s heart to come and pick them up and hear about yet another really good day! May it stay that way!! I am majorly working on routines and building good habits now as we sort of get a fresh start on our everyday life again. And so far we are all motivated and it is all working really well. Again, – may it continue like that.

My dear husband started interning at the end of his law school-studies, and works VERY long days. He works on very interesting, very exciting and very big cases, which he can tell me NOTHING about, other than the fact that they ARE very fascinating etc. 😉

See, – now I have caught you up on my life. Now I can either drop out for another month or so, or I can write posts about tiny little things, as you are already up to speed. I don’t know which one will happen. We’ll see.