I take a hiatus every now and again, but I’m not good at that…

She’s baaaaack! Wow, it feels almost surreal to be back online and typing my thoughts here. It has been just over 10 months since my last post, but it feels like an eternity. I will say, there have been numerous times when I have been asked about The Frum Diaries, and I have thought that I will never post again or that my blogging days as I knew them were over. I tried to let the people down “easy”.

But, here I am, trying to get back in the saddle, that is clearly a bit rusty. What’s been going on with me you ask? Well, as you know, I became a mommy to the most wonderful angel on this Earth. Her name is Miriam Sheva, but we call her Miri for short. Now at 10 months old she is full of life, character and keeps us all extremely busy. Her favorite pastimes include: pulling wireless routers out of the wall, putting old Israeli SIM cards in her mouth and waving “hi” and then quickly proceeding to clap for herself.

BH, Chef Hubby is no longer working for Milt’s BBQ. He’s moved on to work in the nursing home industry as a Food Services Director. He comes home with new stories from the senior citizens daily. So far, we get to see him more often as his schedule has been slightly more normalized, so we are really cherishing that extra time.

Now you may ask, “Why now?” Why am I just now deciding that it might be time to ease back in to the life of writing down my thoughts and logging my life? Well, I’ve found that while being a mommy is the most rewarding gift in the world, I have also found that it can be extremely taxing on one’s self-identity. I remember previously blogging and feeling lighter. Writing things down has often been easier for me than speaking my mind, and I believe it to be some sort of a release. I also hope to be able to look back on these posts myself and smile at the memories, whether funny ones or tough ones. So now I am 10 months into my lifelong journey of motherhood, and I hope that by sharing my ideas, thoughts and experiences here that I can not only be a source of chizzuk (strength) and maybe bring a smile to others, but I also think that it will be a place of calm and re-energizing for myself so I can be the best mommy, wife and Jewish woman that H-shem can help me be.

Wishing you all a happy weekend, a wonderful Shabbos and I do hope to be back to normal here soon. I would love to post based on your interests, so please feel free to be in touch!

Frum Girl to Frum Mama

Hey y’all! I apologize for the lack of posts these past few months, but soon you’ll understand. Some of you may already know, but…surprise! Chef Hubby and I had a beautiful baby girl early Sunday AM. When I say we both had the baby, I really just mean that he was world’s best cheerleader. It was definitely more work on my part with the help of H-shem. G-d willing, when my eyes stop twitching and I can get 5 seconds to myself (maybe not again for the next 18+ years) I will start posting more regularly.

Speaking of posting, I made mention that some big changes were coming to The Frum Diaries, and you can see from the new logo, that The Frum Diaries is making a transition due to this huge life change for me. This blog has always been about my journey, and this new road I’ve just begun is very real and exciting. I’ve been draft blogging during my pregnancy, and I can’t wait to share some of my thoughts and real-life experiences with you all. I have never felt H-shem in my life more strongly than I have since I had the baby, so I am also excited to post about that part of my reality as well.

Thanks to everyone for their well wishes, and baby and I can’t wait to start this new journey of Frum Girl to Frum Mama with you all. Now I’m off to sleep while I can :).

 

Chanukah is coming!

During this time in the month of Kislev, as we are nearing Chanukah, we can see that the days are getting darker earlier, and we are often surrounded in darkness. With the coming of Chanukah, iy”H, I hope that the light of the Chanukah menorahs that we will light in our homes, each night for 8 days, will shine a bright light not only unto the physical darkness of earlier sunsets, but also upon the dark tragedies that Klal Yisroel has experienced in recent days.

Although the true meaning of Chanukah has nothing to do with presents and giving gifts, it has become a time when we exchange gifts with the people we love. I know that I personally love to receive gifts that will be useful and are good quality, as opposed to junky gifts that I won’t ever use. Nordstrom always has really nice gifts for everyone on your list, and you can often find many things that are reasonably priced. My #1 reason for shopping at Nordstrom has to be the fast, free shipping, SUPER easy returns, and wonderful customer service. I also invested in the Nordstrom Debit Card earlier this year, so with every purchase I get points toward free rewards. Here are a few Nordstrom Gifts Under $25 that I know anyone would love to receive this holiday season.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 11.29.15 AM.pngI’m loving this Monogram Jewelry Box  from American Atelier. At only $22, it’s a wonderful gift for anyone with a dresser.

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For the coffee lover or working fashionista, this Kate Spade ‘cold hands’ thermal travel mug is the perfect find. It is so cute, and anyone would love to drink their caramel lattes in style this winter.

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To add a little pizazz to a Shabbos l’chaim, try these adorable icon‘Yay, Boom, Cheers’ Shot Glasses from Slant Collections. They also make stemless wine glasses that are just as sweet.

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Who doesn’t love a nice candle? This icon‘Birchwood Pine’ Votive Candle by Nest Fragrances is a great winter smell, and Nest always makes the prettiest and best-smelling products. You really can’t go wrong here! Some are more expensive than others, but the candle above is only $14.

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I just bought these Polo Ralph Lauren Argyle Socks for my husband. He loves to wear them on Shabbos and for fancier work occasions. They are very soft, and the price has recently dropped!

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I just got this Bobeau One-Button Fleece Wrap Cardigan for myself, but it is so cozy that anyone would love it! It’s $39.90 on sale, and would make a great gift for your friend or family member who wants to be warm and comfy this season. Or, just buy it for yourself!

Nordstrom also has a Wit and Wonder gifts section for some funkier choices. They have lots of cute options here as well. Don’t forget to sign up for Ebates Coupons and Cash Backbecause Nordstrom has 6% cash back right now, just for clicking the Ebates button in your toolbar! Look out for some more gift ideas and steals coming your way, especially on Black Friday. I personally have never been into pushing and shoving my way to a state-of-the-art digital camera, but the hubs has been doing Black Friday for years. So I guess I’m in for an experience!

I hope that by gifting to and thinking about the ones who mean the most to us, we can all help bring a little more light into the world. Here’s hoping this Shabbos is a peaceful one filled with love and chessed all around.

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Thank you to Nordstrom for being an affiliate of this post. As always, all opinions and choices are my own. 

The Year of Chocolate

Happy Friday Y’all, and happy Meet-a-versary to my dear Chef Hubby! That’s right, a year ago today (Nov. 6) we went on our first date. It’s also ironic because in a weekly Shalom Bayis email that I receive from a famous dating/marriage coach, Devorah Kigel, she mentioned that it’s important to plan a date night with your husband and reminisce about when you met. And the hubs and I have been doing that for the past week! It’s really crazy to look at our day-to-day lives now and think that just a year ago we were anticipating the first meeting with our possible, future spouse.

I remember it like it was yesterday. The hubs was flying in from Chicago to go out with me in NJ. I figured that since he was specifically flying in to go out with a girl that he had never met (your’s truly) that I might as well look extra nice. So I took the day off work to get ready. I got my makeup done and my hair blown out, and I was counting down the seconds on the clock to meet this mystery man who had literally flown 800 miles just to meet me. Based on the advice of our shadchanim and rebbetzins, we had decided to date the “old school”, shidduch way and not speak on the phone before we met in person. From experience in many walks of life, it is COMPLETELY different speaking to someone on the phone and meeting them in person, and since you hope to marry the person, if he’s the right one iy”H, it’s probably a good idea meet in person rather than speak on the phone, as you will end up living with this person rather than having an online marriage. BH, it was clearly the right decision for us.

As we are now married, one year later, we like to look back and laugh at some of the funny things that happened on that first date. I had to pick him up/drive to our date destination because since he was in from out of town and I had a car, it would be silly to ask him to rent a car himself. So I drove up to the house where he was staying and anticipated the moment when he would walk out of the house. I mean, is this how guys feel when they pick up girls?! He came out, got in the car, and I proceeded to casually mention that “I can’t really talk and drive at the same time. So don’t feel awkward!” I thought I was clearing the awkwardness by doing this, but a year later, I am told that it’s a good thing we had a great convo and, both preferred vanilla over chocolate, as the date went on ;).

BH, Date 1 on November 6, 2014 turned into dates 2 and 3 that weekend, which then turned into many phone conversations and 4 trips back and forth from New Jersey to Chicago before we got engaged almost 2 months later. You may be reading this and thinking that we’re crazy. I mean, how can you really know if this person across the table/country from you is meant to be your husband/wife in just 2 months? Well, by no means am I any sort of “relationship expert” but IMO, it takes a lot of experienced advice from a few rabbis/rebbetzins that you trust, emunah (trust) in H-shem that He is leading you on the right path, LOTS of davening (praying), and truly knowing yourself. It was a very hectic 7 weeks, but a year later, we are very happily hosting our neighbors for Shabbos dinner and theming the meal “Soy Rice to Meat You”. **Sidenote: Chef hubby is cooking Shabbos, he came up with the clever pun, and we’re both very happy this way. I just get credit as the wife :).** It is truly amazing to see how your relationship with your husband develops over time. I now understand when people say that love grows — that you don’t have to be “in love” with your spouse on your wedding day. Because looking back from Date 1 to a full year and lots of life-changes later, our relationship is a completely different ball game. I feel so blessed that H-shem led me to my other half, and I daven that everyone should merit to find and marry their basheret in the right way at the right time. Here’s a little snippet of our year. Try not to gag ;).

To conclude, an analogy: This year has been like a box of chocolates. We definitely didn’t ask for every chocolate in the box (as noted by the mostly half-eaten ones), but since we’ve gone through the box together, not only have we made it, but we’ve had a great time along the way. We only hope to share a lifetime of chocolate boxes together! Have a wonderful Shabbos, y’all!
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YAL Sale on MYHABIT

In lieu of all the tragedy amongst Klal Yisroel at the moment, a girl still has to clothe herself in the Winter to keep warm. Thanks to a wonderful fashion, sale website I follow, Metziahs, I was alerted to a sale of one of my favorite, modest, top brands, YAL. The sale is on MYHABIT. You have to be a member, but if you have an Amazon login, you can use that for MYHABIT as well. If not, click here to sign up for an account. YAL has super cute sweaters that could be worn for nicer weekday or even Shabbos tops. They are incredibly comfortable and fit great. And did I mention they are on sale for only $30 each, which is a HUGE sale compared to their normal costs. I ordered these two tops, and I am super excited for them to come in.Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 12.08.40 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-15 at 12.08.57 PM

The only downside to this sale is that the sweaters are non-returnable, but I figure that these tops run pretty true to size, so I hope I will be okay. They also have some cute faux fur vests on sale, that are reasonable prices, IMO. Iy”H, by working and improving upon our own levels of tznius, we will see our reward by the coming of Moshiach and the end to this terror in Israel.
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Dazed and Confused

In the wake of the uproar in terrorist attacks in Israel and specifically on the Jewish people, I have become confused. How is it possible that I meet people in my day-to-day life who have no idea that any sort of uproar has been happening over the past two weeks? How is it possible that Israel is, so very clearly, under attack, yet the world remains silent? How is THIS the “trending” list on my Facebook?!

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Like, seriously, who cares about #NoBraDay or Richard Gere when there are clearly more pressing issues that directly effect our friends, family, and the safety of Klal Yisroel?! So again, my voice may be tiny, but I beg, “WAKE UP WORLD!!!” Israel is under attack, and no, it is not because of added tensions in the Gaza strip. Or because the Palestinians are being oppressed and denied rights. In fact, Israeli hospitals continue to treat the very Palestinian terrorists that are killing it’s people. The attacks are unprovoked, and for lack of a better term, pure evil. They are wild, animalistic, and untamable, and it is about time the leaders and people of the world step up to help Israel put an end to this terror which has left children orphaned, the righteous dead, many others wounded, and all of Klal Yisroel in fear. Until then, we must continue to pray, say Tehillim (Psalms), and trust that H-shem is with us all the time. May we see an end to this uproar in terror and know a more peaceful Israel very soon.

Breaking My Silence…

After many attacks on the Jewish people in Jerusalem in recent days, I cannot hold my silence any longer. I try to remain fairly “politically correct” as I have many friends and family with differing opinions, and I will admit that I am not as politically “in-tuned” as I should be; however, even the most out-of-the-loop person should be able to see that there should be no way anyone can see differing views as to what is happening in Jerusalem right now. Unfortunately, it is SO APPARENT that the U.S. and the rest of the world have such staggering and diluted views to the situation at hand, it is astounding.

An article written by the Jerusalem Post shows how absurd the world view truly is. And here are my thoughts:

“Pending a full investigation, the US has not yet determined whether to characterize the attacks as acts of terrorism.” – State Department Official.

First, it took the White House long enough (many days) before they said anything and even recognized that acts of violence are happening in Jerusalem. Second, the chutzpah for them to not realize that these are ALL ACTS OF TERRORISM is absurd. There is clearly only one party here that needs to “restore calm, and refrain from actions and rhetoric that would further escalate tensions”, and obviously the US and the world are too blind to see who the crystal clear victims are here. This is a sad, sad world we are living in, and it is so scary that it can only mean that Moshiach must be coming soon. This is galus (exile) like we’ve never seen before (except we have seen it far too many times before). WAKE UP WORLD! Okay, rant over, but my feelings of anger and fear toward the reactions of the U.S. and world leaders are most definitely not over. Jerusalem and the Jewish people should know no more attacks, and peace should be restored.

New Changes Are A’brewin

A Gut Moed y’all! Chol HaMoed is the period of days in between the actual Yom Tov of Sukkot, and it is customary to not work and treat these days as if they were a Yom Tov, except there are not nearly as many restrictions as an actual Yom Tov or Shabbos. While some people take day trips with their families and take off from their jobs, many people are still required to work, and my husband and I are two of those people. In fact, it feels like my husband is working harder this week than most weeks! While Chef Hubby is away serving delicious BBQ to a hundred million students (no exaggeration) at the University of Illinois, I’m going to eat in his aunt’s Sukkah tonight for dinner. Even though my immediate family is not so close, it is nice to have “by-marriage” family pretty close by.

Anyway, with the changing of the seasons rapidly approaching — I mean, whoa, it seems like hot, sticky Summer turned into beautiful vest weather overnight! — I have been doing some thinking about changing things up on The Frum Diaries myself. I’ve been in a bit of a writing rut lately, but I think that over the next few months, with the changes I am cookin’ up, this could turn into something really great, like Shepherd’s Pie great. Exciting things are still heating up, and nothing is ready to be announced yet, but look out for changes coming between now and December.

I appreciate y’all bearing with me, while I’m in this Chryalis stage of writing, but G-d willing, at the right time, The Frum Diaries will be a beautiful butterfly that I hope you all will enjoy as much as I enjoy creating it.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Sukkot with family and friends, and I’ll be back with some Fall/Winter clothing picks from my go-to store, Nordstrom, very soon.
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Teshuva, Tefila, Tzedakah

Wow, it has really been quite a while since I last posted. I’m sorry for my leave without any warning, but lots of exciting things have been happening in Chicago, and I have been pulled away from the blog. As I am working on my own teshuva (repentance, returning to Hashem), I wanted to share my thoughts, and I thought that putting my goals for teshuva for myself into words, that might help bring them into fruition at this time of calling to come closer to Hashem. 

This year, I’ve found this time of year to be especially trying. I’ve learned from my teachers that it is better to pick one small character trait to work on improving rather than try to take too much on and spread ourselves too thin. In the past, I’ve really had time to sit down, take an accounting of how far I’ve come and where I still need to go, and decide what midda (character trait) I will focus on during the month of Elul and the Aseres y’mei teshuva (10 days of repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). But this year, I find myself just hours away from the Kol Nidre service on Yom Kippur night, and I find myself grappling with the idea that there is still so much to be done. This year, I’m going with something that one of my rebbetzins suggested: “Try your best.” While I do happen to be one of those people that has the Fear of Hashem instilled in me, I also know that all that is really asked of us is to give it our all and strengthen our relationship with the Almighty. No matter how little I am able to actually sit down and devote time to solely working on myself, the fact that I know I need to and am thinking about what I can do to be better is exactly what I need to be doing. 

As is custom this time of year, I want to take a moment to ask forgiveness from anyone who I haven’t had a chance to ask in person for anything I may have done to hurt you this past year. I am also asking forgiveness for being so general and asking this here. Apologizing and asking forgiveness is one of the hardest things a person has to do, and everyone deserves sincere apologies. 

For now, I wish you all a G’mar Chasima Tova. May you all be sealed, immediately, for a good year of health and simchas. And may we all merit to be in Jerusalem this time next year with the Beis HaMikdash. 

  
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