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Mar 23 2012

2012 Passover Shopping Guide

By at 12:35 pm

Besides buying those giant value packs of matzah and a nice brisket from the Jewish deli, there are other things you might want to have on hand, especially if you’re hosting a seder. There is a lot–a lot!–out there in the way of seder plates, Passover toys, and more, so while this list is by no means exhaustive, here are a few of our favorite things on the market this year. If you’ve made some great finds this year that we missed, let us know in the comments!

Seder Plates:

Maybe you use the same seder plate that’s been handed down in your family for generations, and if so, that’s great! We love family traditions. But, if you’re looking for a change this Passover, there is quite the selection of seder plates out there to fit all styles and budgets. Jonathan Adler’s “Futura” plate ($150) is made with porcelain and real gold accents and has a very nice, simple loveliness to it.

jonathan adler seder plate

Or, if you’re tired of your seder plate being so… flat, there is the seder plate tower ($354)!seder tower plateIf you want things to get a little more personal this year, the Etsy shop charlotteandmia offers custom-made seder plates ($36) that would make great presents for the kids, allowing you to choose the color and details of the little cartoon person. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 8 2012

It’s All About Guiltily Spending the Benjamins, Baby

By at 3:24 pm

close up of one hundred dollar billSsh. Don’t tell anyone, but I have $100 in my pocket.

Not literally. What I actually have is two gift cards, one for an online bookstore and one a pre-filled credit card. I found them when I was decluttering the shelf in the bedroom with all the wedding cards.

Things are tight around our home. My husband spent three years unemployed after his last layoff; six months ago, he nailed a terrific contract position that was supposed to go permanent, but the company got sold, and the bigger company dismantled the team, and… well, you know the drill. Now we’re back to the double-freelance life, otherwise known as “Ack! Panic! 3 a.m.!” Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 3 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here Are Some Tush Panties

By at 2:44 pm

tushIn honor of Valentine’s Day, Kveller has teamed up once again with Rabbi’s Daughters to offer our readers a very special treat. For all of February, if you make any purchase at the site, you are eligible for a free pair of the tush panties seen to the right. Yiddish underwear? Yes, please!

So whether you’re getting a mensch t-shirt for the husband, some Shalom Sesame gear for the kids, or a Mamaleh necklace just for yourself, be sure to take up our offer for a free pair of panties.

In order to redeem your gift, upon checking out write “Kveller” in the comments box, and be sure to include the size of underwear you’d like (small, medium, or large). And if you do your shopping quickly, Rabbi’s Daughters is offering free shipping through February 14th.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Now cover that tush!

Dec 7 2011

It’s Amazing What Happens When You’re Nice to my Kid

By at 10:00 am

baby girl with shopping bags

If you're not nice to my baby, I'll take my business elsewhere.

“If someone is nice to your child, you can forgive a lot,” my mother said. Seven months into motherhood, I consider that the ultimate truism.

If Lila and I meet you, this mother’s Jewish eyes may be smiling, but they’ll also be watching you like a hawk. Have you acknowledged Lila, and if so, are you treating her nicely? Those who bend over backward for Lila win my admiration, while those who ill-treat her may earn glares.

During our apartment search in July, the people who showed us around doted on Lila. That was a smart sales move on their part. However, at the fanciest building we visited, our guide ignored Lila. It could be that he was not bewitched by Lila’s big eyes and enchanting smile, or perhaps he doesn’t consider cooing part of his job. Still, this mother noticed, and that became the first of several demerits for his building. We passed on that address.

By contrast, we ended our whirlwind weekend in one of Washington’s tony shopping districts. While we sipped smoothies at the mall, a woman spotted Lila in her stroller and screamed as if she had just seen Justin Bieber. Lila, who already understood enough to know that “cute,” “beautiful,” and “gorgeous” were good words, listened nonchalantly to the woman’s effusive attention. This Mama Bear took note, though. I had never met that woman before, and I still don’t know her, but I already like her.

When we went furniture shopping in September, my opinions about furniture were similarly colored by reactions to my girl. Lila patiently endured visits to 11 specialty and department stores. At one shop, the saleswoman complained I was restricting too many design options because of Lila. Yes, it’s true that Lila won’t always be a baby, but we also have many years of small stature and paint handprints ahead of us. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 1 2011

Bubbe Chic: It’s All in the Pocketbook

By at 1:15 pm

Growing up, my Bubbe referred to her purse as a pocketbook. We always made fun of her, and said that it was a purse. Nonetheless, she never stopped calling it a pocket book. Now when I think of a pocketbook there’s a vintage feel to that term. I can see her pocketbooks right now in my head, and I am really glad my mom was savvy enough to save the good ones. Pocket books have suddenly changed from funny to endearing.

Once I really started to think of her beautiful bags, I realized her bag style was timeless. If she was alive today her bags would be considered vintage. The basics of her bags are still alive and well. While envisioning my Bubbe holding her pocketbook, I found more modern versions with all of the basic elements of the pocket book.

The characteristics of a pocket book can be one or more of the following: a frame with a clasp, a flap over the front of the bag, a chain strap, shorter strap, clutch style.

Here are day bag looks:

Here are evening looks. Now remember in the day of the official pocket book it was standard to take an evening bag even if just visiting a friend in the evening hours.

One final thing: I know these bags look small for what you want to carry daily, but we must remember that back then there was so much less to carry. Maybe it’s time for you to consider what is truly an essential. Once you bring it down to essentials you could carry a gorgeous pocket book too. Believe me when I tell you that you’ll exude nothing but chicness.

May 5 2011

Mother’s Day Shopping Guide

By at 10:08 am

Spring is here, flowers are blooming, people with allergies are sneezing, and Mother’s Day is almost here! We are a big fan of this holiday (do we really need to explain why?) so we wanted to share some of our gift ideas for mothers and grandmothers. We’re taking a look at all of the wonderful gifts that can help your parents kvell over their grandchildren, and some of them won’t even cost you a dime! Remember, Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 8th.

For Grandma (or Bubbe or Nana or Whatever You Call Her)

This year, we’re going digital. You know that your parents’ favorite activity is gushing over how adorable and brilliant and talented your kids are, so bring your Mom into the modern age with these digital kvell-machines.

1. Digital picture frame. Why show off just one measly photo when you can offer an entire slideshow? Digital frames are easy to use, and you can have a fun time going through all those baby photos with your Mom. Even better, they’re on sale at Best Buy.

2. Kindle or other e-reader. I think a mom of just about any age would appreciate this gift. It can be especially handy for grandparents because of it’s large print feature. Make sure to get one of the covers that comes with a booklight installed for easy reading anywhere. Amazon’s even got some Mother’s Day deals going on to boot.

3. Set up an account. The internet is sort of the ideal bragging space, but depending on how tech-savvy your Mom is, she might need some help getting started. You can set her up with an account on a photosharing site like Flickr or PhotoBucket so she can easily see and share pictures of the grandchildren. Or, if you’re brave, why not introduce her to the lovely world of Facebook? Sure, she might “like” all your posts and write embarrassing things on your wall, but she’ll appreciate seeing the instant baby updates. And if she lives far away and needs more kvelling fodder, a Skype account where she can actually see and hear the baby could be an invaluable gift.

4. Cookbooks. Okay, cookbooks aren’t digital (unless they’re on a Kindle), but your kids will be on the winning end of this gift when Grandma cooks them a delicious meal. The Book of New Israeli Food is a gorgeous coffee-table-size book. Adventures in Bubby Irma’s Kitchen is as delightful as that picture of Bubby Irma. I’ve never read Love and Knishes but it wins for best title. And if you need some more suggestions, check out this list at The Jew and the Carrot.

For You

You may want to start dropping hints to your family about that gaping hole in your jewelry box soon. If you’re too busy being an awesome mom to even think about what you want for Mother’s Day, we did a quick poll on Facebook to hear what presents our readers would like. We got multiple votes for gift certificates to things like a housecleaning service, gardening, or a pedicure. Then of course there’s always jewelry. (Hint to any dads reading: you can never go wrong with jewelry, especially when you let your wife pick it out.) And if you can find time to read a novel, My Hollywood by Mona Simpson is about a mother and her nanny and is a wonderful read.

Of course, you should also prepare for those most amazing of gifts–hand drawn pictures from your kids and greeting cards with scribbled hearts inside and multiple hugs and kisses and just a day for you and your family to be together.

Apr 13 2011

Sushi in the City

By at 12:18 pm

Shopping on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv. Just don't eat the sushi.

We don’t have a car.

(For an LA expat, there approximately 1,253 things wrong with that sentence.)

I’ve taken to rug-weaving in my spare time. Because basket weaving is for amateurs.

Mama wants to get the hell off the farm.

(After all, it’s hard to tromp around in high heeled hooker boots in the mud. And while I may have given up the convenience of having a car to live here, I will not give up my shoes.)

Still, what had come so easily once upon a time — a sort of blase urban-chic ensemble, artfully applied minimal-makeup and on-purpose bedhead hair — has now become an exercise in hysterical mental calisthenics.  (Like Gwyneth Paltrow turning into Snooki from Jersey Shore. Except more orange.) It’s all a matter of context: the women on this kibbutz look like an add for Evian Water–pure and clean and natural strolling around in comfortable clothes and sandals. I on the other hand, stuffed into skinny-jeans and Spanx look like Britney Spears circa Matt Lauer.

Enough with the cornfields and the nature walks through the orange groves. My hooker boots needed to hit pavement. Hard.

Anyway, B. and his brother decided to take a kibbutz car and drive to Tel Aviv.  Ah, Tel Aviv. An urbane oasis that has taken on almost mystical proportions for me since we arrived in Israel. While it isn’t that long a ride from the kibbutz to The City, since we are car-less, Tel Aviv might as well be on another planet. A planet next to the whispering waves of the Mediterranean Sea, where effortlessly elegant people stroll along the tayelet talking about Important Things.  A place of art museums, concert halls, and overpriced shops where Hebrew becomes a second language amidst the warble of tourist-talk. Tel Aviv: A shot of citified adrenaline, more potent then the two lattes I drink each morning. I. Needed. This.

So, I cadged a ride. Through the gates of the kibbutz. Down the main road.  Onto a real highway and snagged in a snarl of traffic worse than the infamous 405 Freeway.

And finally, to a mall.

(CUE HEAVENLY MUSIC.)

A real, live, mall!

Ok, so it wasn’t the cultural exchange I had fantasized about, but still. I am from LA, and we know how girls from LA feel about their malls, so I may have done a happy dance in the food court.

I staked out a comfy chair and table at Aroma Cafe, ordered my latte, and rode the wireless wave for a while, checking out the people and feeling very cosmopolitan.

I was in a real city. Drinking coffee. The kids were miles away at daycare doing whatever it is they do, and the smell of the designer boutiques and industrial-strength department stores were more potent than any aphrodisiac.

I had arrived.

(And when they started playing Katy Perry’s song, California Girls, over the loudspeaker, I was sure it was in my honor. And I may have even smiled knowingly at the barista. )

After people watching and facebooking and working on an article for a few hours, my friend L. met me for lunch. And tweaked out on the novelty of being in an actual mall in an actual city in my actual high heel hooker boots which look  a little less ridiculous in  Tel Aviv than they do on the lawn in front of the kibbutz dining hall when I’m chasing after M. and Little Homie, with an actual friend and the promise of adult conversation, I thought I could have it all: And having it all meant having sushi for lunch.

A kosher sushi stand in a mall in Israel, thousands of miles away from an actual ocean.

But lured by the promise of plump raw fish, I ordered. The wasabi tasted like maror on the Seder Plate–only green–and the tuna had a little gefilte going on. But still. It was sushi, and I was out with my friend, and I ate, relishing the taste of soy sauce and the feel of the splintery chopsticks against my fingers.

Oh, but it did not end well.

(You know you’re in trouble when the sushi chef’s name is Shlomi and he’s from a kibbutz in the Negev Desert. Just saying.)

Never again, Kosher Sushi.  Never again.

The City chewed me up and spit me out.  And I think I’ll stick to shnitzle and salad on the farm from now on.

Oct 21 2010

Going Green, Eh?

By at 10:47 am

Just last week, Canada became the first country in the world to ban bisphenol A (known as BPA), a chemical compound found in most plastics that, when heated, gives off gasses that disrupt the endocrine system and slow human development.

Until recently, lots of baby bottles, toys, and rattles contained BPA. Some companies in the United States have smartened up, but you still have to check products pretty carefully to see what they contain.

David Greene, owner of Livegreene, a store in Palo Alto, has put together a list of products that are organic, recycled, repurposed, and, of course, BPA free.

For eating and drinking at home and on the go:

  • BPA-free, recycled plastic baby bottles and sippy cups
  • Stainless steel snack containers and water bottles (with BPA-free plastic sippy cup tops)
  • BPA-free plastic toddler dishes, cutlery and cups made from recycled yogurt containers and milk jugs
  • Non-toxic ice packs with covers made from recycled soda bottles
  • Sandwich wraps made from reusable and recyclable plastic
  • Lunch bags made from organic cotton
  • Reusable bamboo utensils

For wearing:

  • Organic (never been treated with pesticides) cotton “onesies,” caps, mittens and booties
  • Child-size cashmere-like gloves made from mechanically manufactured bamboo (as opposed to chemically manufactured bamboo, which is rayon)

For playing:

  • Stroller and cuddle toys made from organic cotton
  • Toys made from repurposed industrial scaps of natural materials
  • Toys made from rubber wood, which does not splinter and is sustainably grown and harvested.
  • Toys made from recycled plastic
  • Toys made from recycled cardboard and soy-based inks
  • Toys made from bamboo

For creating:

  • Recycled crayons
  • Low volatile organic compound glue
  • Glue sticks made from almond (they smell like marzipan)
  • Biodegradable play clay scented with organic essential oils
  • All-natural botanical watercolor paints
  • Colored pencils made from recycled newspapers
  • 100% recycled construction and drawing paper

Please let us know about your favorites!

Oct 13 2010

Shopping My Way to the Holy Land

By at 12:51 pm

So, I’m a woman who feels sexiest in a snug pair of jeans, a black tank top, flip-flops, and a smudge of eye makeup.

While there is a latent pink and purple part of me that loves the princess fantasy of ribbons, lace, and dressing up in satin and sky-high heels, I’ve never been able to quite make it work. Either my tights snag, or my nail polish chips, or the seam on my dress is lopsided, or my lipstick rubs off, or my hair frizzes, or my heel gets caught and I fall on my face.

Glamorous fashion and I are so not simpatico. Besides, pink has never been my color.

But while I can’t quite pull off a slinky gown, or a perfect up-do, I love makeup.  And I love to shop.

And with the big move to Israel looming ahead, I’ve had a go-to excuse:

“Overseas shipping is like, so expensive,”  I tell B. as I plunk moisturizer, bronzer, mascara, lipgloss, eyeshadow, and perfume into my sephora.com online basket.  “Besides, these products are way harder to get in Israel,”  I justify further as though we’ll be living in a Bedouin Tent in the middle of the Negev instead of a well-appointed Kibbutz 10 minutes from Tel Aviv.

And he buys  my excuse as I clickity-clack my way through an orgy of online sales and free-shipping offers.

“You can take the girl out of LA, but you can’t take the LA out of the girl,”  I laugh, but really, the more stuff I buy and the more weighed down I become, the easier it is to leave the only home I’ve known.  The creature comforts – the lip glosses and the eyeliners – are cheap security blankets I cling to as I face an overwhelming unknown.

Sarah is moving to Israel next month with her husband, baby, and toddler to live on the kibbutz that her husband grew up on. And she is not happy about this.

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