Archive for December 7, 2009

Just Do It… Yourself Basket

balsmmendocinosmyidmugsmHave you ever had that dream?  You know, the one where you’re a kid in a candy store and you’re  filling up a huge bag full of your favorite candies?  Hmm, maybe it was just my post-Willy Wonka dream.  I think it was the inspiration behind  Challah Connection’s  Do it Yourself Basket .  With this basket, you get to choose what you want to put in it.  It’s all the same kosher yumminess you’ve come to know from our gift baskets, but you’re the design team.  You know Aunt Rachel dies for blue and white cookies but rugelach…not so much?  Pile on the blue and white!  Or that Mom is a chocoholic but could take or leave raisins? Chocolate, we’ve got.  Lots and lots of chocolate.

Not to pat myself on the back, but it’s really a brilliant idea.  It’s not as crass as sending cash and a lot more tangible than a gift card.   Recently I saw the Do it Yourself Basket really go to work for an interfaith couple friend.  George recently called me, in a bit of a dither.  George is not Jewish but his wife Leah is, and this year, after 17 years of marriage, George wanted to surprise her with a plethora of Jewish treats.  Sad to say (correction: George was sad to say), he didn’t really know which ones were her favorites, and he wanted it to be exactly perfect.

“George,” I said. “My advice is to give the woman what everyone woman wants.”

“Jane,” he said. “I think you should just forget about Johnny Depp and stick to kosher gift baskets.”

“No, no,” I corrected him. “I mean, give Leah something to drool over…that fits in a basket.”

“That’s why I called,” he whined. “She loves it all.  Chocolate babkas, cinnamon raisin rugelach, blue and white cookies.  Also, last year I broke her great-aunt’s menorah.  I don’t think you make a basket that big.”

“First of all, we can do whatever you want, but why not let Leah make her own basket?

“She could do that?”

“Yes, George! Just tell her to follow our “6 Easy Steps to Create the Perfect DIY Basket.

George realized he was onto something.  While on the phone, he instructed me to put together a gift basket for his six-year-old nephew, his mother-in-law, and his boss.  All customized, all do it yourself.  George was very pleased with himself.

Now, if only there was a Do It Yourself Basket at Neiman Marcus…

Happy Shopping,


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Spinning The Dreidel

The four sides of the dreidel, from right: nun, gimmel, hey, and shin. Click for playing instructions and the meaning of these letters.

Around my house, we take dreidel spinning seriously. My sons, my husband and I crowd around the table with a notepad and pencil, spinning the dreidel and making a note of the score on a yellow legal pad. It’s known as The Dreidel Book and it resembles an ancient text…sort of. On some of the patches, you’ll see a spatter of grease, on others a smear of chocolate.

Here are some fun facts about the humble dreidel:

1. There have been college mathematics seminars on the probability of winning a game of dreidel, the expected number of spins in a game of dreidel and whether the first player has a statistical advantage over the other players.

2. U.S. astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman brought a menorah and a dreidel on his Space Shuttle mission in 1993.

3. The Yiddish version of “The Dreidel Song” is  Ikh Bin A Kleyner Dreydl, Yiddish:  איך בין אַ קלײנער דרײדל Ich Bin Ein Kleine Dreidel (I am a little dreidel).  In the Yiddish version, the dreidel is made out of “blay,” Yiddish for lead.

4. The game of dreidel is based on a European gambling game that used a spinning top.  The Yiddish word “dreidel” come from the German word “drehen” which means “to spin.”

5. Dreidels are also known in Yiddish as:  fargls, a “varfl” [= something thrown], “shtel ein” [= put in], and “gor, gorin” [= all].

6.”Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel was sung by Kyle in the first South Park Christmas special.

At Challah Connection, you can find not only our award winning kosher baked goods but also exquisite and unusual Judaica, including a beautiful selection of dreidels including the very popular No-Limit Texas Dreidel Game.  An elderly relative collects dreidels and I look forward to her joyful phone call after she has opened her


Chanukah gift.  She knows, and I know, that it will be a dreidel, but she claims that each new dreidel is more beautiful than the next.  Wouldn’t she be surprised to see my family dreidel?  After countless spins, the paint has worn off here and there, and Sophie (our dog) got a hold of it once, leaving her mark until I pried it from her mouth.

Still, when I unearth it every year, it reminds me of how much fun my family and I have sharing a simple game.

GRarrowD25lgHappy spinning,


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