Saturday, September 29, 2012

DIY Luluv & Etrog Toy for Sukkot

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DIY Luluv & Etrog Toy for Sukkot

play lulav and etrog made from felt tutorial with baby holding the toy

 I saw this cute Lulav and Etrog toy many times and decided that I wanted to make my own for Baby Bear.

{I know it is so close to Sukkot to post this, but you still have all of the weekdays to make this!}

lulav and etrog on a wood background

This is what a real Lulav and Etrog look like

Curious what Sukkot and the Lulav & Etrog are all about? 
Go here

supplies for play toy lulav and etrog made from felt

Eco-Fi Felt sheets~ 
1 brown or cream, 2 light green, 2 medium green,  2  dark green,1 yellow
Cotton Stuffing (or fabric scraps)
Fabric Glue
Ribbon (optional)

The materials cost me $2 since I only needed to buy the felt and it took me less then 1 hour to do! 

tracing etrog shape on felt

Fold your yellow fabric in half. Use something round to get your etrog shape and trace with a marker and cut out your pieces.  If you want to make a green tip, cut a small piece out and insert it so that you will sew it into your etrog.  I forgot to do this, so I had to hand stitch it later. 

lulav sewn on the side

Sew your etrog leaving a hole to turn it inside-out.  

stuffing toy etrog

Stuff and hand stitch the bottom

play toy etrog

Here is a view with my tip before I stitched the bottom shut.

felt for palm on lulav

Now you want to to make the middle Date Palm Frond.  Fold your dark green in half and cut out a long shape like above.  

palm with leaf vein drawn

To give it some detail I used a lighter color thread and made some stitches down the center and V's going down.  First I marked the lines with a chalk marker.

palm with leaf vein stitched

Then I stitched the lines on my sewing machine on both pieces.   Turn the right sides together and sew leaving the entire flat bottom open. 

Flip it and stuff

The bottom was a little more complicated.  It has to look like a cup when finished.  I used a bottle to get the shape that was the same size as my Palm branch opening.  First I made a strip that fit around the bottle.  Then I traced the bottom of the bottle leaving a 1/2" sewing allowance.

First sew the flat piece and DO NOT turn inside out. 

Pin the circle around the bottom edge and sew carefully.  Then you will flip it inside and stuff.  You will save this piece until you finish your other 2 leaves.

Now you are going to do the willow.  The willow has the long leaves.  Fold your medium green in half and draw your leaves. You will ten sew them together with one stitch down the center.    Your willow should be shorter then the palm. 

To give it more depth, I cut out more leaves and folded my willow and sewed some leaves where there was no seam before. 

Your Myrtle branch has small leaves.  It will be the same height as the willow. I cut a bunch of leaves out of the light green and overlapped them on a long piece of the same color and sewed a stitch down the middle.  

I hand stitched the Willow and Myrtle to the middle Palm in 3 places so it was secure.  Then I glued the bottom holder to the palm bottom.  

play lulav and etrog made from felt

I used a brown ribbon to cover the glue line.  You could also use another piece of felt. 

child with toy lulav and etrog for sukkot

Now you are ready to shake it!!

updated 10/4: 
Here is a great variation that Bayla L-B made! 
The tradition in her family (and my husbands) is to hand tie the branches together using some of the palm. 
*Thanks for sharing Bayla!*

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The tastes of Fall

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We have so many celebrations that revolve around the Fall time.  

Apples and Honey start us off with the Jewish New Year leaving a delicious taste in our mouth to start out the year with. 

Baby Bear Eating a Apple dipped in Honey for Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year)
inside Shalom Street Museum

We take time to listen to the sounds around us with the Shofar as a symbol of reflection. 

Baby Bear and 3 Little Friends learning about making a Shofar

Take time to watch the leaves change

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I love the season Fall in Michigan.  I really enjoy the beautiful colors that change on the trees where I live.  I never realized how lush and beautiful the scenery was until I lived in other places.  My favorite place to witness the fall color change in on the University of Michigan Campus.  It is simply stunning to walk through the campus as the leaves change.  

Our leaves have not yet begun to change so much, so here is a  vintage Baby Bear photo circa 2010
I also think that using the seasons in your photos is a stunning background and also great way to show the passing of time. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Bear!

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Today is Baby Bear's 2nd birthday!  

2 year old Birthday Picture

I can't believe that I could love someone so much and I can't believe that I ever didn't have her in my life.  

Since she was born, I love her more every day.  She has so much personality and a great sense of humor that grows every day.  

She amazes us learning two languages and we enjoy watching her vocabulary develop. 

All of the sudden she will say something out of the blue that we did not know she could say. 

We are so blessed to have you as part of our lives!

(all of the photos are 'oldies but goodies' from Baby Bears's FIRST year)

Today she did the most amazing thing... She picked up a leaf, which she called a flower and said [in Hebrew] "Mommy flower" and then picked up one for herself and said "Naomi Flower"! I love that she gave me something and thought about who she was giving it to!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

7 Home Remedies for Colds During Pregnancy aka ode to my neti pot

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I thought that I was in the clear for illnesses and I had been feeling great lately.  All of the sudden food poisoning struck rolled together with a cold or allergy outbreak on the same day.  It is so hard to feel better when pregnant since you can't take any of the traditional knock-out meds.  I thought up a whole list of Grandma's Cures to help you feel better with no medication. 

Chicken Soup
Who knew, but Chicken soup actually does help you feel better and it has been studied to be more then just a placebo effect. Check out this NY times article for more info. Plus it tastes even better if your mom, friend or hubby makes it and can only benefit your little bun in the oven.

Neti Pot
A neti pot is a small pot with a large spout or also you can now buy them as a squirt bottle. You mix a warm saline solution and irrigate your nasal passages.  It helps clear out all of the junk and lets you breathe easier.  Plus you can repeat it a few times throughout the day if you are having a lot of mucus.  Since it is only a saline solution in your nose and not a medication, it will not effect your baby.  Too scared to try a neti pot (or need some additional relief)? Hold your head over a seamed bowl of water and that will also help the mucus drain. 

i love my neti pot

Stay Hydrated
In order to make sure that baby and momma are getting enough hydration, make sure to keep drinking. I know how hard it is to keep up with that when your don't feel good, but dehydration can cause uterine contractions. If you are worried about electrolytes, you may want to drink coconut water a natural electrolyte enhanced thirst quencher!

young coconut with straw
Fresh Young Coconut Water!

Drink Honey, Lemon, Ginger Tea
If you have a soar throat this is especially great, but also for a cold since ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, lemon has vitamin C and honey helps to soothe your throat and is thought to have anti-viral properties.  Plus this is not an herbal tea, so no worrying about the ingredients being OK for your baby.   

Hot Packs on your Sinus  
A hot pack on your sinus or any other sore muscles really helps take the pain and tenderness away.   The heat will help relieve the swelling and help to drain them the cavities (cold will cause the mucus to grow thicker).  You can make an easy hot pack with a tutorial from my fav blogger Ashley. (don't do the essential oils unless you ask your Dr.)

Use a Humidifier at night
A properly cared for humidifier will make it easier to breathe at night.  They also suggest one for babies, so this is a good time to buy one and get it ready for your newborn and help the momma to feel better.  

Sleep with your Head High
When you have a stuffy head, it is hard to sleep on your side.  It is hard to sleep as it is pregnant! Prop your head up when you are sleeping so that you can breathe easier.   I was sleeping almost sitting up on the couch for a few days until I felt better.  Sleep is really important, so make sure you get your Z's!

on pregnancy and birth

Thursday, September 13, 2012

7 Jewish Pregnancy Traditions

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When I was pregnant with Baby Bear, I went to a lecture at the Sephardi Shul in Chicago about different Jewish pregnancy traditions.  I started digging around to find my list so that I can share and start again for #2.   

Most of these are Segulot or Segula.  According to wikipedia, the definition is: סגולה‎, pl. סגולות, segulot, "remedy" or "protection".  It is a procedure that is not based on medical or scientific logic yet is efficacious in improving a situation or protecting a person from harm. Segulot are commonly traced to Kabbalistic, Talmudic, and rabbinical sources, and are accepted in the religious Jewish world.

Here are some of the Segulot 

Give more Charity 
'While all good deeds and mitzvot are beneficial to the unborn child, our sages specifically stress the value of giving extra charity. Being kind to others causes G‑d to treat us in corresponding fashion. In addition to the regular charity one distributes, charity should be given every day—having a charity box at home facilitates this practice. The most auspicious time to give charity is before the Shabbat or Jewish holiday candle-lighting. At that time additional charity should be given, considering that on the following day one will be unable to give charity, due to the restriction against handling money on these holy days.' (from

Husband opens the ark before the Torah reading during the last month of pregnancy. 

'The Zohar says, “When the congregation takes out the Torah Scroll, the Heavenly Gates of Mercy are opened, and G‑d’s love is aroused.” The husband opening the Gates of Heaven hopefully elicits G‑d’s merciful blessing that the birth be easy and without complications.' (from

Wear your Jewels
Rubies represent protection in the Ashkenazi tradition and  blue stones like Sapphires, Lapis Lazuzli, and Turquoise for the Sephardic Tradition.  You can wear them as a talisman around the neck or wear an evil eye, red string, or hamsah. 


Expose yourself to holy-ness
A pregnant woman should endeavor to be exposed to spiritual and holy sights and sounds. 


Keep Your Baby in the Correct Positioning for Birth
 In the 9th month, make sure all of your holy books are right side up, so baby stays head down

An etrog a day
Bite the top of the etrog off for easy labor

Bake a Challah
Bake a Challah in the 9th month of pregnancy

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What I was doing 11 short years ago

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11 years ago I was a junior in college sitting in a 3 hour lecture that started at 8:30am.  The class was really a lab, so it was weird in the first place that the professor wanted to lecture.   We had a short break and hear rumors in the hall of something happening in New York.  I went to the computer lab (back in the dark days before PDA's and wi-fi) to check CNN to get the facts.  I remember trying to get the page to load over and over since it was moving really slow.    People started leaving classes and heading out the building a fog, but my professor wanted to keep lecturing.  Finally our dean came in and said that class was canceled for the day.  That was all he said "class is canceled for the day" and walked out.  I remember my own fog on the way home.  I was really nervous that there was going to be more things happening and chaos and tried frantically to get a hold of my brother who was also on campus.   (we DID have cell phones in those days).   I cried to my parents  and wanted to go home if the world was going to crumble.  The rest of the day was spent with the rest of my sorority sitting in front of the TV in a daze trying to figure out what this all meant. At night there was a vigil in the U of Michigan Diag and I remember feeling that things would be OK with everyone leaning on one another.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

DIY 10 Minute Upcycled Maternity Tank

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DIY 10 Minute Maternity Tank

I haven't really had much time to experiment with making my own maternity T's in the past.  I was challenged to make my t-shirt look great for a charity walk that I was doing since the smaller shirt did not fit and the bigger shirt looked horrible.  I had a short amount of time and decided to whip up a tank since it was going to be a hot day.
before photo of mens shirt

Shirt 1-2 sizes larger then your normal size
1 yard Elastic {1/4 inch}

Make a line with a straight edge using your chalk pen from under the collar to the top of the sleeve line.  Now cut across and remove the arm holes along the seam.

Pin your arm holes and sew them under with a nice seam.  

Now fold the top edge under so that you have a 1/2 inch of the material and pin.

Line your pressure foot up with the edge of your fold and sew.  You will need to do this for both the front and the back. 

Now you are ready to do the ruched sides.  Flip the shirt inside-out. You may want to make your sewing line with a chalk pen. I had the line end 2 inches back towards the butt and not straight down so that there was extra belly room.  

Take one piece of elastic and sew it with a few stiches across to keep the elastic in place.  You are going to hold the elastic and pull it slightly as you sew, so you will need it anchored. 

Switch to a zig zag stitch that is the same width as your elastic.  Now pull your elastic as your do your stitch.  The tighter you pull, the more ruched your sides will be so only pull slightly.  Stop before the bottom edge fold.  Cut off the extra elastic and do the other side.

Now to finish your top you can either cut 2 inches off of the bottom (you will want to discard the bottom edge).  You will want to only make one cut so you have one continuous piece. I really wanted to keep the finished edge, so I used a piece of another shirt.  You could also use a ribbon or if you have extra time, you can sew folded over so you have nice even edges. 

You will need to pull your fabric ribbon through both top edges.   Now you can tie a bow on one shoulder.

Now it is ready to wear!

I am hidden slightly by Baby Bear

PS. if you are curious, we were walking for The Friendship Circle as part of the Birdhouse for Autism group.  Birdhouse is my blogger friend Dani's company.  

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