"Don't tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is."

I believe in God.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Obsessive-Compulsive to the Extreme!

Recently I have gotten obsessive-compulsive to the extreme (and no, I do not actually have OCD), enjoying planning school outfits the Sunday before.  Right now I have to plan two sets, warm weather and cool weather; according to current weather forecast, I will be wearing my cool weather Monday outfit tomorrow, and warm weather outfits the rest of the week.

For reasons I don't feel like publicly discussing yet, I have chosen to restrict myself to my smallest kippot when going to school; I will restrict myself still further, to suede only, once I am working.  In the meantime, I am left with roughly 14 from which to choose for school.  Recall that my school week is four days long; this system works fine.

I am allowing myself one day to wear my special super-fancy clogs, and I have one colorful tallit katan.  I have worked those in, too.

Now for this week's outfits (and no, don't worry, I won't do this to you every week)!


MONDAY: Plain Purple Long-Sleeve Shirt; Short Pink Skirt; Gray Leggings with Rose Pattern; Pink Suede Kippah; Purple Clips.
TUESDAY: Pastel Pink Long-Sleeve Shirt; Long Pink Print Skirt; Black Footless Tights, White Socks; Pink Suede Kippah; Pink Clips.
WEDNESDAY: Sky Blue 3/4-Sleeve Shirt; Short Blue Skirt; Flowered Tights; Flower Kippah S'rugah; Blue Clips; Homemade Tallit Katan.
THURSDAY: Denim Button-Down Shirt; Medium Denim Skirt; Black Tights; Navy-Suede-with-Chain-Link-Border Kippah; Blue Clips; Clogs.


MONDAY: Pink-and-Blue Tie Dye T-shirt; Short Pink Skirt; Pink Suede Kippah; Blue Clips.
TUESDAY: Pink Polo Shirt; Long Pink Print Skirt; Pink Suede Kippah; Pink Clips; Homemade Tallit Katan.
WEDNESDAY: Dark Green "Stop Following Me!" T-shirt; Short Blue Skirt; Green-and-Yellow Kippah, Crocheted by Sami; Blue Clips; Clogs.
THURSDAY: Blue Habitat for Humanity T-shirt; Medium Denim Skirt; Navy-Suede-with-Chain-Link-Border Kippah; Blue Clips.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Probably Ashamed; Donating Tzedakah; and the Perfect Fall Sabbath Outfit

I have three topics--yes, three--to cover in this post.  I will cover them in the order mentioned in the title.

First of all: At the moment, probably because I am so different, I am feeling ashamed of who I am as a Jew.  I think in terms of other Jews, this is because I've never quite found one just like me (keeps all commandments "like a man," does not believe in divine origins of Bible), while in terms of non-Jews, it's just that I am so conspicuous with fringes dangling and an often-large kippah.

I am taking step to make myself conform.  In the past, when I had these feelings, I would drop the practices that made me so conspicuous completely.  At the moment, that's not an option for various reasons.  The first step I took was to tuck my fringes into my skirt.  I tried that while I was out shopping, and instantly felt more confident.  To my surprise I could feel them through my leggings.  My leggings are the thickest thing I have, so that means I will feel them through everything.  I don't have high sensory thresholds, so that's going to drive me up a wall, but I judge it to be worth it.

when I got home, I went through my kippot, and I made a list of the ones that were small enough to wear to school/work under the new system.  You know what? I came up with a list of 14! That's the nice thing about collecting something for years: no matter how you sort, you will always come up with enough of any category you want.

Second of all: I know I've said it before, but I really love to donate tzedakah.  I have left the word untranslated because it's really not translatable! The closest translation I've seen is "charity," and even that doesn't really get it.  See, charity carries the sense of "optional nice thing to do."  Tzedakah isn't optional at all; we are commanded to give.

Once I'm working, I will be commanded to give ten percent of my earnings.  At the moment, I am not working, so I don't let that part bother me.  Instead, Sunday through Thursday, I give two coins if I have them, any two coins...so I guess I could end up giving anywhere between 10 cents and $2.50 over the course of the week.  On Fridays, I empty my change pocket, and I donate four quarters if I have them, and whatever's left over that isn't in quarters.  Donating tzedakah might be my favorite part of being Jewish.

Third of all: Tonight (and most likely tomorrow) I'm going to wear the perfect Fall Sabbath outfit. The blouse is a midnight blue, silky button-down patterned with birds' nests; it's just starting to be cold enough out to wear it.  The skirt is my royal blue, silky, with the ruffle around the bottom; it will only be warm enough out to wear it for a few more weeks.  I feel that this outfit screams "FALL!"

And now I must go clean etc.!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Beged Finished!

Yesterday, at school before class, I finished the beged (body--literally translates to clothing) of the tallit katan I am making in the Ultimate Fun Fabric.  Below are pictures.

Here is the whole garment hanging over my prayer-and-other-holy-purposes chair.I am starting to experiment with neckline styles; here you see my attempt at a v-neck.  It's not perfect, but it dips quite low, and the garment will not be seen under my clothes.  (I just tried it on over my shirt; feels wrong, somehow, to wear it as an undergarment until it has the fringes and everything.)

I hemmed each hole in one of the elephant colors, just to make the garment more fun, and I even went around each hole twice so the colors would be seen! So going left to right, across the front and then the back: ...lighter purple...



...and blue, which you can't see because the hole happens to go through a blue elephant, exactly the color of the thread!

Very, very soon--probably as soon as I let my parents know I want it--I am going to get my Hannukah gift VERY early.  Five sets of strings, and half a yard each of black, blue, brown, pink, and yellow fabric: to be used to make enough tallitot k'tanot that I'll never have to wear the boring white men's kind again! This is going to be fun.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Day Off and a Couple of Treats

Today I am being especially nice to myself, because I need that in order to conquer health conditions.  I am not going to class tonight; I don't think I could act normal, and I have the professor who's triggering even when I'm not sick.  That's not a good combination.

I am giving myself two treats today, as well.

First: I am just not dealing with business.  I have something from my insurance company to open and an internet bill to pay; I refuse to deal with either till tomorrow.  Also, I am taking a day off schoolwork.

Second, I am ordering a set of strings for the tallit katan I am making.  They only cost ten dollars; I can spare ten dollars basically any time, and this will make me very happy.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Ultimate Fun Sewing Project!

FINALLY, I get to work on the ultimate fun sewing project! (No, I shouldn't be sewing this much during the school year.  However, my brain is fried due to episoding.  I can either study now, or go to class later, but not both, and I judge class attendance to be more important.  Therefore, I am sewing/blogging now.)  When my father brought me the three fabrics I used on the wall hanging of which I blogged pictures yesterday, he also randomly brought me the best fabric ever, saying he knew I'd be able to use it for something.  What makes this fabric the best ever? Well, the background is purple [my favorite color]; the print is elephants [my favorite animal] in four colors and pink [my second favorite color] polka dots [adorable!].  The instant I saw this fabric, I knew what it was for: the ULTIMATE tallit katan!

What goes into the making of a tallit katan? I made one last year as a Hannukah gift to myself.  The project actually started around this time of year, and took me about a month or so.  In case you don't remember, or are a new reader and don't feel like scrolling back, I will recap.

  1. This step only exists for fabrics that have a clear "right side up" to the pattern; otherwise I just use the fold in the fabric as the shoulder fold.  So with the one I made last year, I just used the fold, and with the one I'm making now, I had to do this step.  If one has a pattern with a clear "right side up," the first step of the process is to cut two panels to the right size--I lay out a commercially-made one whose size I know I like, and size against it--and sew them together at the shoulders.
  2. Cut a hole big enough to slip over one's head at the center.  This can be any size at all; just make sure it's big enough!
  3. Figure out, with a ruler, how much you want to fold in on each side for the hem.  Measure and mark where you're going to fold.
  4. Pick a side.  Fold in and pin, then sew. Repeat on all four sides.
  5. Repeat outside hem procedure on head hole.
  6. Cut four holes, one at each corner, and whip stitch each.
  7. Tie strings according to Jewish law.
You may be wondering about the legalities of making one of these.  The only rule for the clothing part is  that it has to be a fabric one would wear.  I generally assume Wal-Mart quilting fabric is close enough.  The strings have to be wool or the same material as the clothing piece; since I don't know exactly what I'm working with for the clothing piece, I buy wool strings.  At the moment I forget where I get them, but wherever it is, I can get a complete set of 16 strings for four dollars plus shipping--ten dollars shipped--a phenomenal price.

To tie a corner (I have never described this process on the blog before, I don't think), one slips four strings--one long and three short--through a hole and evens up seven ends.  (The eighth will do the winding.)  One ties a double knot up near the garment, takes the long string, winds it around the others seven times, and ties a double knot.  Then eight times, and a double knot; eleven, and a double knot; thirteen, and a final double knot.

That's all there is to it! There's nothing so hard about it.  I get great satisfaction out of making my own.  And, here are pictures from this one.

I'm sorry to say it didn't occur to me to document this until I was well into the process, but I did what I could.  This is the cloth body part; you can see the shoulder seams and the hem at one end.

These are all the tools I'm using in this project! (OK, my cell phone's in the picture too, just randomly.)  You can see a pair of scissors, a ruler, a pin cushion, and five colors--that's right, five colors--of thread.  Why five colors of thread? The darker purple is to hem the outside edge and the head hole.  Each of the other four matches an elephant color; I want to whip stitch the holes with them.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11, 2016

(As promised, here is the more important of my blog entries today.)

I just got done watching two 9/11 videos.  For years now, I have been watching "Heaven 9/11," which is a little girl talking to her father who died on 9/11.  (Does not specify how.)  She's always been talking as though a year had passed; this year, someone updated the video for five years out, ten years out--that got me crying.

A custom I added in recent years (starting just a year or two ago) is to also watch one--and only one, because I am super sensitive and nothing's going to change that--video of actual news footage from that day.  The video I chose today was really long, and I almost quit in the middle several times.  In the end, however, I made it through.  I am tremendously proud of myself for that.

Part of what helped me make it through was holding a teddy bear; I am not ashamed to admit that holding a doll or stuffed animal helps me through things.  All my dolls etc. have assigned ages; this bear, Theodora, is the only one old enough to watch news clips with me.

I believe in the power of spontaneous prayer; I believe God hears when we cry out; what came to my lips today--and yes, I said it aloud, if only in a whisper--was "God be with their parents; God be with their siblings; God be with their children."

So may it be.

My Wall Hanging: Finished!

(Two blog entries today; by all means, this is the less important one.  Today is September 11. and I happened to finish my wall hanging last night. Therefore, I am blogging the promised pictures of my wall hanging, then watching my usual 9/11 Youtube videos, then blogging a 9/11 entry.)

Before I show you pictures of my wall hanging, I wish to talk a little bit about the process of making it.  First of all, remember that each and every stitch was sewn by hand,which takes much more time and patience than using a machine.  (I don't like sewing machines because, at least when I use them, they seem to tangle/break as often as they work.)  So by no means did this project come out perfect, but I also wasn't aiming for that.  The hand-done look appeals to me.

Because the project was all hand-done, and I wanted it to look semi-perfect, it took me a very long time.  First I hemmed a half-yard piece of brown print fabric all the way around.  (You'll soon see that the wall hanging is a stylized garden scene.)  Next, I got to work on the greenery, the step that took me longest.  I sewed on 14 green print triangles for grass, and three tall strips for stems. Each stem has one jagged edge and one straight edge; the straight edge came from the edge of the fabric, and the jagged edge is where I cut.

Once the greenery was done, I turned to the main point of this project: purple flowers! Each flower has five petals.  I tried to arrange them neatly; I think in the end, flower number one came out best and flower number two came out worst.  In any case, my grandmother had let me pick out buttons for the centers, and I think they make the flowers really pop.

And now, here are pictures.

This is the first picture I took, when it had just occurred to me to document this process.  You can see the border hem, the grass, and one flower stem.

And in this picture all the greenery is done! That's fourteen "grass blades" and three tall flower stems.

And...first flower finished! In terms of shape and petal arrangement, this is really the one that came out best.

This is the second flower, and even I will admit it: it did not come out very well at all.

And...the second flower again! I meant to photograph the third, and really thought I had...but it was late last night (I was pushing past bedtime to finish this project), and I guess I made a mistake.  Oh well.

Here is a picture of the finished wall hanging laid out on the floor...

...and hanging on the wall above my dining room table.

Just for comparison's sake, I wish to show pictures of my two other wall hangings I made, both of which are much smaller and neither of which is a particular scene.  This is the first one.  The background is made of two gray handkerchief pieces sewn together (so the hem was already taken care of); the blue paisley Jewish star in the center is covering up a defect in the center seam, but also, what else would I put in the center? Each corner has a different scene going on.

This is actually the least involved of all the wall hangings I have made! I originally made it as a mizrach, a thingy to hang on my Eastern wall as a nice thing to face when I pray.  However, East in the first room I had to hang this in turned out to be straight into a corner: not exactly the best place to hang something, so I hung it somewhere else.  This apartment had a big blank space over the fireplace, so I hung both little wall hangings there.  What's funny to me about this one is that I actually hung it upside down, but because all it is is a row of Jewish stars, no one can tell but me.

And now that I'm done with that tremendously involving wall hanging (yes, it was fun to make; I am not implying that it wasn't), I get to move on to meaningful Jewish projects! First I want to make myself enough tallitot k'tanot (holy undergarments with fringes) to phase out the plain white men's kind I wear during the week.  (I will continue to wear the women's kind when I get dressed up, because they're already special and I need the more discrete neckline and shape.)  At present I have fabric for one other.  I think it is the ultimate fun fabric: purple with elephants and polka dots.  My current Hannkah gift plan is fabric for four more sets--blue, brown, pink, and yellow--and the strings to go with them.  It's really the price of strings that adds up fast, not the material.

After I finish the tallitot k'tanot in fun fabrics (which will take forever and a day; I don't get much time to sew now that I'm in school),  I think I want to make myself an actual mizrach, because this apartment has an actual Eastern wall on which to hang it.  I'm thinking blue background, green and brown shapes...we'll see.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

GRADUATE SCHOOL, Rosh Hodesh Elul, and Switching Clothes Around

First of all, as promised, an entry about grad school.  I am definitely in the right field (early childhood ed), and God knew exactly what he or she was doing when he or she kept me out of Rabbinical school.  So far, I am enjoying every second of where I am.  Today's main task (I took a break to write this entry) is reading a 36 page article--that's right, I said 36 pages.  It's a HISTORY article, for crying out loud; I have always hated history.  But this is an article about the history of childcare, and i am absolutely loving every second of it.

Secondly, yesterday and today are Rosh Hodesh Elul, the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul, the month leading up to the High Holidays (Rosh HaShanah, or New Year; and Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, in case you're not familiar).  As always, I now allow myself to play the wonderful U'N'Taneh Tokef youtube recording that I allow myself between Rosh Hodesh Elul and Yom Kippur.  Friday night I played it for the first time this Jewish year; on the Gregorian calendar it had been about 11 months.  This time was extra special because my dear friend "Shoshana" (totally Protestant, and I have no idea why I code named her in Hebrew) was visiting, and I got to share the recording with her.  Also, for whatever the reason, watching/listening to it this year made me choke up and start crying a little; that's never happened before.

Now, lastly and least important, the weather is cooling down and I need to start switching clothes around.  I need my Fall clothes, not my Winter clothes, and I need both Summer and Fall options available, because the weather is erratic; this is the time of year when I check the weather every day before I get dressed.  I have my every-day, casual Fall clothes up here already; they are also my Spring clothes, and I just never put them anywhere else.  In the Fall, I continue to wear my Summer skirts; I simply replace t-shirts with long-sleeved tops--I like button-downs a lot--and add tights or leggings underneath.  I do have to unearth my purple nightgown because in this weather I should really have both up here (I kept the red one up with me "just in case" as the weather got warmer).  Also, I want to hang up my cool/cold weather dress clothes, so I have options on the Sabbath.  I have three warm skirts and three warm tops to hang.

And...that's all for now! I expect to finish my big wall hanging today, and then I will blog pictures of that, too.


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I am a bipolar, Jewish young adult (had my Hebrew birthday, the one I count, and turned 23 this past January) who also suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I love life and I live for my best friends: they are my purpose and my reason for trying so hard. I remain passionately devoted to those I love; I will not let my disorders make me totally self-centered. I like to read, write, and sew. My Rabbinical school plans did not work out, and I am now hoping to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. Please note: I am currently maintaining only Carried in His Hands. Enjoy!