Not In Jersey: November 2018 November 2018 - Not In Jersey

Fall Colors in Weston, MO

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fall Colors in Weston, MO

I have mentioned a few times that I am really happy the leaves changed colors this year before they all fell. Sure enough, on Monday we had a snow storm and now most of the colors are gone! Luckily I got out and took some pictures of the fall colors and while it may be too late to see them in real life, it’s not too late to share them here.

A few weeks back, Dave and I went with the boys to Weston, MO. (Gabbie was busy with dance photos). We also went to Weston last fall, so maybe a visit to Weston is a new annual tradition. This time, we went to the state park and then on a tour of McCormick Distilling Company.


The boys enjoyed looking through the telescopes at Leavenworth, KS on the other side of the Missouri River.


They even let me take a picture of them together – amazing!


Before we left the park, we also stopped by some pretty yellow trees where lots of people were taking photos.

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Let’s Talk Gratitude

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Let’s Talk Gratitude

One of the questions for TBB Asks this month was whether or not you have ever kept a gratitude journal. I said I haven’t, because I worry about coming up with new things to be thankful for every day. At the end of my post, I asked for advice about gratitude journaling and I got a few replies.

From Rebecca Jo, the self-proclaimed queen of gratitude journals:

“I always get a calendar every year that has a lot of space to write in on like a weekly area - big enough so you can try & get 3 things a day down. & then either put it by your bed, or by the coffee pot - & every morning when you wake up, or every night before you go to bed, just write down 3 things that was a blessing in the day. It’s easy to do once you get in the habit of doing it.”

From Mandie:

“I used to do my gratitude journal either right away in the morning or before going to bed. Even on the worst days, I could still find something to be thankful for.”

From Leslie:

“I keep mine by the bed and write something SOMETHING in it every night. Some days it can be a struggle to think of something I am grateful for. But when I think on it a minute, there is always something, always lots of things to be grateful for.”

From Lauren:

“…sometimes it’s the really small things – ‘the kids were in a good mood’, ‘I had a favorite food’, ‘I slept in’, etc. etc.”

Thank you to those of you who replied! I am grateful for YOU!

One of my concerns about keeping a gratitude journal is whether I would be able to come up with new items daily – for example, every day I’m grateful for my coffee and for the internet! I feel like I would do better having a journal with prompts in it to help me think of things to be grateful for. I found a few that look interesting:

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And now, some things I’m currently grateful for. These prompts are from

What smell are you grateful for today?

Coffee in the morning.

What technology are you grateful for?

The internet.

What color are you grateful for?


What food are you most grateful for?


What sound are you grateful for today?


What in nature are you grateful for?

The sun, for warmth and the colors of sunsets and sunrises.

What place are you most grateful for?

My house.

What abilities are you grateful for?

Writing, being a mom.

What sight are you grateful for today?

The snow gently falling outside while I’m happily inside.

What season are you grateful for?


Who in your life are you grateful for?

My family.

What moment this week are you most grateful for?

Turning 40.

What form of expression are you most grateful for?


What small thing that you use daily are you grateful for?

My phone.

What friend/family member are you grateful for today?

My friend who sent me a very generous birthday present and also texted me about my blog post from yesterday.

What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for?

Knitting, which I really need to do more of!

What are you grateful for today? Should I purchase one of the above gratitude journals?


10 Holiday Tips From Your Jewish Friend

Monday, November 12, 2018


This month’s topic for 10 on the 10th with Simple Purposeful Living is 10 Holiday Tips. My first thought when I saw this topic was that I would have to sit this one out. I don’t celebrate Christmas and my holiday season is really in the fall, when we have our most important and busy holidays. But then I started thinking maybe someone would appreciate my thoughts on being Jewish during Christmastime. I’m still not sure about writing this, because most of what I have to say has been said before, and not without controversy, but here we go.

1. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. I feel like this is important to note because I sometimes feel like people forget that this little fact. There are plenty of people who will argue that Christmas is an American holiday and it’s secularized, so everyone should celebrate it. For me, it’s religious and no matter how secularized it has become, it is still religiously based.

2.  Just because I don’t celebrate Christmas doesn’t mean I have a problem with anyone else celebrating Christmas. I understand the Christmas spirit and the goodwill and the family time that comes with it. I just don’t want to be pressured into celebrating it myself.

3. I am not offended when people wish me Merry Christmas if they don’t know me. But when people who do know me and my family still ask us how our Christmas was and my kids have to tell them yet again that we don’t celebrate it…it can hurt.

4. What about Hanukkah? Well, Hanukkah is not the Jewish version of Christmas. Just because one religion has a holiday it doesn’t mean that every other religion has to have an equal and similar holiday. What the two holidays have in common is that they both occur in December and they both have been highly commercialized when it comes to gift-giving.

5. You don’t have to try to make things equal by playing that one popular Hanukkah song on your Christmas music station or by putting menorahs on your Christmas trees in public places. I would personally rather be left out of it.

6. I hear about people saying they celebrate “both,” meaning both Christmas and Hanukkah. That’s fine, but if you do so in order to teach your children about Judaism, I would suggest also introducing other holidays like Passover, Sukkot, or even Purim, because when up against Christmas, Christmas will win.

7. I think the best advice I have is to be respectful.

8. A quote from one of my favorite websites, – “Most American Jews feel a sort of ambivalence about Hanukkah. On the one hand, most of them know that Hanukkah is not a big deal, and they don't want to make a big deal about it. On the other hand, Christmas is everywhere, unavoidable and overwhelming, and Jews want something of their own to counterbalance it. This is the primary motivation behind elaborate Hanukkah decorations and enormous Hanukkah menorahs in public areas: Hanukkah is not very important, but asserting our Jewish identity and distinctiveness and existence in the face of overwhelming pressure to conform to a non-Jewish norm is important. Pressuring Jews to conform to that norm or to participate in Christmas events if they don't want to is inconsiderate at best.”

9. Don’t assume. I am one person and my views aren’t necessarily the same as anyone else’s. If you have a Jewish friend and you have questions, ask them.

10. A few articles on this topic you might want to read:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4



40 Things I’ve Learned Along The Way

Friday, November 9, 2018


Well, I’m turning 40 tomorrow. I still feel a lot younger, most of the time! In honor of my birthday, I’m sharing 40 things I’ve learned about myself along the way. I hope you find them interesting.

1. I can be very lazy about things, but once I get started I usually can complete tasks.

2. I prefer summer over winter.

3. I put off taking out my winter coat every year, but in the spring I’m quick to pull out my flip flops.

4. I’m not very coordinated.

5. I have at least a bit of aphantasia – the inability to picture things in my mind.

6. I think that’s why I like taking pictures.

7. I lack self-control when it comes to eating.

8. I am not a runner.

9. I’m scared of cancer, antisemitism, mass shootings, and deportations.

10. I don’t like eggplant, mushrooms, pepper, or cilantro.

11. I enjoy researching subjects including genealogy and history.

12. I like shopping and getting a good deal.

13. I am easily annoyed.

14. I believe in causes and would like to do more to help those causes.

15. I like visiting new places but I don’t love the process of getting to the new places.

16. If I could have a magical power I would choose apparition.

17. I like to create but I’m not very creative.

18. I can’t carry a tune but I like to sing.

19. I like most dogs better than I like most people.

20. I think I’m funnier than most other people think I am.

21. I am a bit socially awkward because I worry people will find me annoying. It stems back to middle school bullying.

22. I tend to be an introvert but I also like going out with friends.

23. My favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

24. If I eat carbs for breakfast I suffer a low blood sugar reaction after a few hours.

25. I like trivia.

26. My memory is not as good as it used to be.

27. It drives me crazy when my kids are hyper and climb on top of each other.

28. It makes me happy when my kids play together.

29. If I drink alcohol, it has to be sweet or I can’t finish it.

30. I love babies when I can give them back to their parents if they get fussy.

31. My allergy to sulfa drugs also includes the topical version.

32. I am better at thinking about things than actually doing them.

33. I love the beauty of nature.

34. I don’t like being told what to do or how to think.

35. I believe everyone should be able to be who they are.

36. I don’t like discussing birth stories.

37. I don’t like to read memoirs because I think they are self-indulgent. I do like to read blogs though!

38. I like reading and watching fiction.

39. I am usually good at multi-tasking.

40. Disney World is my favorite place.

I hope you feel like you learned a little bit about me after reading this post!


Laura Plantation Tour

Thursday, November 8, 2018


After our time spent exploring New Orleans, we decided to take a trip out of town on our last day in LA. We decided to visit a plantation and from the advice we received, we decided to visit Laura Plantation. This plantation site includes a museum on the history of slavery at the plantation and a tour of the manor house and grounds. The plantation is named after Laura, who was the fourth of four generations of women who ran the farm.

I didn’t take photos of the museum exhibits because they were mostly photos and written text about the stories of the slaves. They were very captivating and sad stories, but photos wouldn’t have done the exhibits justice. You can read more about some of the slaves here.

The one photo I took in the museum was of this Uncle Remus / Br’er Rabbit display. The Uncle Remus stories are variations of traditional stories that originated in Senegal and were brought to America by enslaved Africans. A neighbor of the Laura Plantation heard the stories from freed slaves and later published the translated stories. Therefore it is said that the Br’er Rabbit stories were collected at this plantation.


This is the main house, restored and painted as it was in the 1800s. It was built by slaves in 11 months.


On the grounds are the remainders of the slave cabins.


One interesting thing we learned on the tour is that even though slavery ended, it was difficult for the freed slaves to leave their homes on the plantation. They were made to work to repay “debts” but they were never allowed to actually complete their repayment. Descendants of the slaves remained on the plantation until 1977.

We also drove past two other plantations, just to see them from the outside. The top photo is Oak Alley and the bottom is called San Francisco.


It was definitely interesting learning about this time in American history and I’m glad the tour at Laura addressed the history of the slaves as well as the plantation owners.



Wednesday, November 7, 2018


Today I’m  linking up with Anne In Residence for her Currently link up. October’s prompt words are: appreciating, researching, posting, getting, and cooking. Here’s what I’m currently up to!


I’m appreciating the fact that we got fall colors this year before the leaves fell. I posted a bunch of fall photos in my What’s Up Wednesday post. This is my view from my backyard:



This past week I googled topics that were on my mind including the Kansas Gubernatorial Election, are early votes already counted, what do Republicans believe, is it antisemitic to try to convert Jews, how Jewish people should respond to missionizing, why Evangelical Christians support Israel, George Soros, list of school shootings in the U.S., mass shooting statistics in the U.S., why are mass shootings becoming more common, and preventing mass shootings. I also googled some camera related things like freelensing, reverse lens macro photography, how to focus to infinity, macro photography ideas, and Lightroom syncing – finding unsynced photos.


Last week, for the first time, I posted some political views on Facebook. I probably should have stuck to staying out of it.


I’m getting ready for some good sales! I’m getting ready for Hanukkah. And I’m getting ready to visit family for Thanksgiving.


I’m trying to cook up an idea for what to photograph this week. The theme is Opposites Attract. Any brilliant ideas??

Now tell me something you are currently doing!


Prime Purchases in October

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


This month, I’m once again linking up with Tanya to share what I’ve been purchasing via Amazon! In September, I only bought one thing on Amazon, so I didn’t post and I’ll be including that item here. Also, if I happened to buy the kids anything for Hanukkah, I won’t be sharing those items yet! These links are affiliate links, which means that if you click them and make a purchase, I may receive a small incentive.


1. Fruit of the Loom Big Boys’ 10 Pack Ankle Socks, Black, Shoe: 3-9 – This was my one September order. Zachary’s socks either had holes or got lost and he needed more, so I had bought him a pack of another brand. He said they felt like they were biting his feet and that he needed Fruit of the Loom! So I searched on Amazon and it turned out that these were the same socks I’d gotten him the time before. And now his feet are happy again!

2. Pastel by Vivienne Women’s Midi Swing Dress with Crochet Lace Trim Detail Small Heather Grey – Gabbie wanted a new dress for her dance photo shoot. She was either supposed to wear black, grey, or denim. We found this dress and it was approved by both of us! The length is great for her and I can’t wait to see the pictures. Plus, she can wear it otherwise!

3. PopSockets: Collapsible Grip & Stand for Phones and Tablets – Replicator – Zachary had a birthday party to attend and when he asked his friend what she wanted, she said a purple PopSocket, so we ordered this one.

4.  Skechers Kids Boys' Flashpod-Scoria Loafer, Orange/Blue – Simon needed new sneakers and he wanted ones that light up. I was so surprised to find these light up Skechers for only $20! The lights can even be switched off!

5. EarLite 60 patches Invisible Earring Ear Support Waterproof Patches – Gabbie’s earring holes are stretched out and these help support the holes so they don’t sag.

6. LEGO Creator Robo Explorer 31062 Robot Toy – Simon had a birthday party to attend and we picked this Lego Robot as a gift.

Have you ordered anything fun from Amazon lately?


TBB Asks–Giving Thanks Edition

Monday, November 5, 2018


The first Monday of the month means it’s time to answer questions from The Blended Blog! This month’s questions are all about giving thanks.

1. Have you ever kept a Gratitude Journal? Yes or No? 

No, but I would like to. For some reason I find it difficult to come up with things to be thankful for on a regular basis. I should really research that!

2. Hosting Thanksgiving at your house? Yes or No?

I have done it once. I prefer going elsewhere!

3. Favorite Food from The Thanksgiving Meal?


4. What one thing in Nature are you most grateful for? 



5. Pumpkin Pie: Yes or No?

I’ll eat it, but it’s not my favorite.

6. Traditional Cookbook: Yes or No?

Sometimes! There are so many recipes online though!

7. Oven Baked or Deep-Fried Turkey?

I would love to try a deep-fried turkey but I’ve never had one. Last year my friend made a smoked turkey!

8. Thanksgiving Leftovers: Yes or No? 


9. What is one household product you’re most grateful for?

Hmm….I can only think of appliances! Like the dishwasher.

10. Are you most grateful for home cooked meals or restaurant meals? 

When I can go out to restaurants, I’m very grateful!

Now tell me something you are thankful for! Any advice on keeping a gratitude journal?


What I’ve Been Reading #187

Friday, November 2, 2018


This month, I finished three books.

51gqQq9cyZL._SL250_First, I read Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline. This was different from the other two books of hers that I read recently and it focused on a psychiatrist who didn’t know that someone was trying to ruin his life. Like with her other books, there were many people who could have been that person, but I didn’t guess exactly what was happening for most of the book.

“Dr. Eric Parrish is the Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer General Hospital outside of Philadelphia. Recently separated from his wife Alice, he is doing his best as a single Dad to his seven-year-old daughter Hannah. His work seems to be going better than his home life, however. His unit at the hospital has just been named number two in the country and Eric has a devoted staff of doctors and nurses who are as caring as Eric is. But when he takes on a new patient, Eric’s entire world begins to crumble. Seventeen-year-old Max has a terminally ill grandmother and is having trouble handling it. That, plus his OCD and violent thoughts about a girl he likes makes Max a high risk patient. Max can't turn off the mental rituals he needs to perform every fifteen minutes that keep him calm. With the pressure mounting, Max just might reach the breaking point. When the girl is found murdered, Max is nowhere to be found. Worried about Max, Eric goes looking for him and puts himself in danger of being seen as a ‘person of interest’ himself. Next, one of his own staff turns on him in a trumped up charge of sexual harassment. Is this chaos all random? Or is someone systematically trying to destroy Eric’s life?”

I liked the fact that the main character was a psychiatrist, although for some reason I kept picturing him as Dr. Charles from Chicago Med! Some of the extra information could have been omitted – the double locked doors with the air space in between was mentioned so many times I was sure it would have been a part of the climax of the story! Overall, this was a book that kept me entertained.

51ZBAk-aIrL._SL250_Next, I read The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I was worried that I wouldn’t like this book as it has been hyped a lot! It took a little while to get into and was an ok read overall.

“In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…”

I feel like the plot and setting of the book could have been written into something more exciting. There were some surprises and I did worry about the main character, but there were also undeveloped plot points and a lot of auxiliary characters to confuse with one another. At least the ending made sense!


Finally, for my next book group selection, I read Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. I always say that it is kind of amazing how there are so many books about World War II and there is still so many new things to learn about that awful period in our history. This book is fiction that incorporates real people focusing on the Ravensbrück concentration camp and the Polish political prisoners there.

“New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France. An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences. For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power. The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.”

This book also took me awhile to get into and it was quite long overall. It also took quite awhile to reveal why the title of the book is Lilac Girls and how the character of Caroline connects to the other two. The book is told from the point of view of three women. Caroline is the one who is the hardest to get to know, and her activism could have been described further. Kasia is a fictional character based on the lives of political prisoners who were subjects of medical experimentation. Herta is a doctor who is at first appalled by the job she was hired for at Ravensbrück, but then is the one who operates on the prisoners. I especially liked the ending of the book which shows the way that Kasia’s anger from her experience effected the rest of her life and how she might move on from that. I also appreciate learning more about people who lived during World War II about whom I had not previously known.

What have you been reading lately?