KOSHER FOR PASSOVER

Our Oyster Seder Plate - So Wrong, It's Right

oystersederplate

As we prepare for Passover, I put a hold on ordering another loaf of bread from Freshdirect, order matzah shmurah to get extra mitzvah points and dust off the OYSTER plate we use as our Passover Seder Plate. This plate for crustaceans makes me chuckle a little and reflect on this life we are creating for our family.

Our family of three is an interfaith one that takes a little extra planning and thought when it comes to the holidays, and now there are A LOT of holidays. While interfaith marriages cause great strife in some nations, communities and families we chose to forge through it and let love prevail - the hippie faith is one we have in common.  My husband and I both come from rich cultures and neither wanted to lose that identity. Actually, the fondness and respect we have for our own cultures fostered an understanding and excitement to celebrate the other’s. While dating we invented a new holiday we named Purim Gras since both holidays are around the same time and have many similar jovial customs. We served hamentashen next to king cake and hung a greeting sign which read "SHOW ME YOUR TZIT ZITS ". To celebrate our marriage, we set the tone of our life together by calling it our Cajun Jewish Wedding.  We incorporated traditions from both cultures (FYI: Cajuns originally were Catholic).  We were married on the front porch of an Acadian style home under a Chuppah. We had a Friday night Shabbat Rehearsal dinner and a fish fry with crawfish etouffee the night of the wedding. Our goal isn’t to compromise but rather convene on ways to marry our rich cultures and give our new baby the best of it all. His name is part Hebrew and part Cajun with a birthday on the 4th night of Hanukkah and a week before Christmas. When I began to prepare for our first Passover Seder as a family,  I realized an oyster plate has 6 sections and a Seder plate has 6 symbolic foods. You can imagine the excitement  and sense of victory at this perfect melding of the cultures again. It was a sign from G-d letting me know we were doing things right.

To some our interfaith marriage has diluted our heritage and dishonored our family. Tradition and the tradition of marrying within one’s religion is not something to be taken lightly. I understand the desire and sense of responsibility to preserve one’s culture and religion. In many cases, preserving this lifestyle is a way to honor your ancestors’ struggles to maintain their beliefs. My family fled France and then British rule in Canada and my husband’s family left Poland before the war to be able to maintain our sense of identities.

Our journeys, thankfully on our free will, led us to New York where we too were trying to connect to an identity found in an urban space where all your dreams come true. When we met,he was looking for a Jewish girl and I was looking for a European prince to make me a princess.  We could not help but to fall in love. While our journey was not under the pressure of war or expulsion, still we were searching for the kind of life that allowed us to pursue our own version of happiness.  When I look into my baby's eyes, yes, he's not Jewish. He's Cajun Jewish and I am in awe that love created him. Our Oyster Seder Plate will be HIS tradition that connects him to two resilient cultures and serve to remind him of love, hate, acceptance and the ability to pursue happiness.  

 

 

BABY'S FIRST BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

Made with Love, Not the Baby's College Fund

baby's first birthday cake

All birthdays deserve to be celebrated.  A lot of emphasis is placed on the first birthday, yet it seems unnecessary to expend the time and money Pinterest might guilt you into. When planning the celebration keep in mind the purpose: a fun day for the birthday baby AND to recognizing how much the parents have grown in one year too. While it's tempting to dip into the baby's college fund to throw a party they will never forget (haha), there are a few party tricks that can save a small fortune & time without sacrificing the important aspects.

1. THEME

By now the 1 year old probably has a favorite interest or object. This is a good starting place for a theme. Remember, this needs to be a "fun day for the birthday baby". In our case, Noam loved ducks so Rubber Duckies was the theme of his party - his first word was "QUACK QUACK"!!  Using a bright color(s) as a theme is also great for children.

2. DECOR

Who wants a closet full of cheap decorations after a party, and who has the time to make a bunch of expensive, time consuming ones? The Answer: Balloons! Children adore them, they fill up the space making even the drabbest room cheerful and they only cost about $1 a piece once filled with helium. Balloons also do double duty as a take home present for all the guests.

Other decorative items worth your while: Flowers, a Table Cloth, and a beautiful center piece Birthday Cake

3. SMALL GUEST LIST

Keeping the baby in mind - as tempting as it is to invite a crowd - consider a few tiny friends with whom the baby likes to play and invite those families. This way it's truly a party for the baby to have some fun.

4. MENU

Sticking to a theme for the menu will help to not get carried away. Themes could include Cooking style like BBQ or Regional fair like Mexican or Meal Based like brunch. Again, in trying to keep things manageable, serve finger foods that kids love and adults find novel.

With a party at 1 in the afternoon and a yellow theme, Brunch style food was appropriate. We served Deviled Eggs, Bites of Grilled Sausage, Tator Tots, Terra Vegetable Chips and Scones with Lemon Curd.  Oh, and PARTY PUNCH is a must. We needed something Yellow which is why I made a French 75 punch. This was a serious hit. I floated mini rubber duckies in the punch for a bit of humor. *The rubber duckies were also take home presents for the guests.  Other beverages included Lemon Water, Orange Juice and Hot Black Tea.

5. A SENTIMENTAL TOUCH

As this is a great milestone and everyone in attendance is there to celebrate it, this is a perfect opportunity to share pictures or videos of the last year. Displaying pictures in frames, on a banner or even rotating digital frame are all good options. We made a video compilation of photos we took of him every week. The 10 minute video was premiered at his birthday with our friend's and family around.

To add to this video collection, we bought him a Junior Chesty for his birthday so that he could wear our GoPro Camera and begin to make his own videos. Wearing this, he recorded much of his own birthday party. I think in years to come, when the memories of his 1st birthday are a little fuzzy, he can watch this GoPro video and see exactly what he did from his perspective.

 

CUDDLE UP WITH THIS BOOK

Reminiscing about my teenage years in the 90s, as an Advanced Maternal Aged woman

As crunch time approached, I could not read one more baby book, baby blog, baby app... I needed a fun read, something that felt like "me" again. Luckily my friend who works for a publishing house passed along one of their newest releases to me, "Champagne Supernovas" by Maureen Callahan, and it could not have been more perfect. This book not only made me feel like ME again, but it made me feel like teenage me! This book took me back to my coming of age in the early 90s when my junior high crush schooled me on Alternative music, when I studied fashion magazines with great care to craft new looks and when I first came to NYC discovering the West Village. It was one of the most exciting times in my life and I can not believe I am old enough to now be reading it as a piece of pop history. But here I was, big and pregnant in my Advanced Maternal Age reminiscing about my teenage years. I highly recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in fashion and 90's culture. As I turned to the last page, I thought, "there is no way it can end now?" Then Callahan summed up 90's fashion and it's influence in one perfect sentence. 

Feeling inspired, I pulled out this black crepe dress I bought while on a trip in New York City in 1997! Amazingly it fit over my very pregnant belly. Even the accessories were a throwback to the era. Crystal necklaces were very popular when I was 13. I bought one at the mall and felt ultra hip when I wore it. My friend Faye, of Fashion Hound, lent me her favorite crystal necklace for this outfit. It was my laid back, herion chic, downtown meets uptown, Kate Moss inspired look that made me feel like ME again.  I think this is what they call "life imitating art".

IT'S A MATTER OF TASTE

NOAM'S FIRST MEAL | FOOD & DRINK

Babyspoon_elegant baby_ first meal_ babyfoodie

There is a lot to catch up on here at Jenée Sais Quoi as Baby Noam is already almost 6 months old ! 

This first post after maternity leave covers a big event: Noam's first solid food! 

Over the years I have enjoyed writing about seasonal and celebratory

cocktails

,

homegrown recipes

and entertaining with

Cajun food

in NYC. So of course, for me, Noam's first meal would be monumental. 

This project meant more than just cooking food for my son. It was about setting the tone for a lifetime of healthy and adventurous eating. I even called a friend in San Francisco,

Melanie

, a foodie and

Certified Holistic Nutritionist

, for her thoughts on this big event.

As I contemplated it, bought it, and prepared it, I thought about the bigger conversation going on concerning food in this country right now such as: 

- Having a conscious about from where our food comes

- The injustice of poor neighborhoods not having access to healthy, fresh foods 

- and

treating food as medicine. 

I wanted all of this to be considered and passed on through the food.

Our pediatrician recommended that we skip over the rice cereal and go straight to complex recipes. Whatever we eat, he can eat. This new way of feeding babies in America is thought to lessen food allergies and picky eaters- I'm a big fan of that. 

I started the meal at the

Prospect Park Farmers Market

. I decided whatever was organic, local and in season would be his first vegetable. There was a small stand with carefully placed bunches of veggies in wooden crates that looked inviting. Since I was not one of the early shoppers, the pickings were slim. Yet, this bunch of White Japanese Turnips looked like a beautiful first meal and Farmer Greg posed for a picture so that Noam can see who grew his first meal. 

japanese radish_ farmers market_ brooklyn_ babyfood

Willow Wisp Organic Farm Stand 

japanese radish_ farmers market_ brooklyn_ babyfood

I considered just boiling them because it was still unfathomable that a baby could handle more than one ingredient at a time. But I decided to go all out and make this recipe from

Epicurious

. Luckily I had all the ingredients laying around. With tons of love, I prepared

Miso Japanese Turnips

. I even served it in little tea cups I acquired during a trip to Japan many years ago. Then I unwrapped a special spoon sent to him by my friend Tiffany. We shared this food on a Sunday - Mom, Dad & Noam - a perfect day for our family's first meal together. 

japanese turnip_ babyfood_miso recipe

baby mush on bottom

As for Noam's opinion on his seasonal, local, organic, miso Japanese turnips- he could not get enough!!!! He was even licking his tray!!! 

Hopefully the thoughtful choice for my son is the beginning of a healthy relationship to food, to his body and the world around him. 

May he always enjoy breaking bread with family and friends as it's one of life's best pleasures. 

Baby Products that helped make this a success: 

(not an endorsement - just a tip to help other moms) 

Bumbo Seat & Tray

- Great for babies that are almost ready to sit, but def ready to eat. 

BabySpoon by

Elegant ba

by

- It's cute, easy grip, just the right size, and BPA free

MATERNITY LEAVE

Even Bloggers Sometimes take a Break

Motherhood | Adventure

Don't worry - Jenée Sais Quoi is just taking a break

so mother and baby can bond. I highly recommend all new mothers take advantage of this time to slow down (though it will not feel like a break!!!). Use this time to stare at every adorable part of your quickly growing baby (do not stare at your phone!). Take the time to discover & enjoy his personality. Have dance parties for 2, dinner parties for 2 and steal as many kisses as you can.

Coming back soon with more insight on how to possess that (jenée) sais quoi.

In the meantime - follow on

Instagram

for quick updates on what is going on

HERE 

LEATHER GOES TO WORK

How to Style Leather Pants for the Office

Fashion Cliff Notes | Outfit Ideas

cup and saucer, cafe, girl in cafe, diner, girl drinking coffee, navy cardigan, black leather pants, nyc

(MATERNITY LEAVE RERUN:)

Grabbing a cup of Coffee on my Way

The last time I featured these leather pants, it was styled for a very different occasion: the Gaultier exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. It was "fitting" and also only possible to wear for a few hours as the corset was -negative- skin tight.

Though, as leather pants are the de rigueur bottoms of the season, I'm trying to work them into all facets of life.

Now it's off to the day job (which has something to do with handbags;).

How to do????

cup and saucer, cafe, girl in cafe, diner, girl drinking coffee, navy cardigan, black leather pants, nyc
cup and saucer, cafe, girl in cafe, diner, girl drinking coffee, navy cardigan, black leather pants, nyc
cup and saucer, cafe, girl in cafe, diner, girl drinking coffee, navy cardigan, black leather pants, nyc

A silk, dove colored, button down top with gold buttons is incredibly sophisticated giving the leather a professional slant.

The navy cardigan adds that preppy goodie two-shoes flavor that I love to trick people with.

Then top it off with pink pearls and sparkly earrings (since it's the holidays).

Heels would be great with this outfit, but it's freezing in NYC AND the sidewalks are icy!!!

Note: sometimes comfort, like not falling on your derrière, is more fashionable than the perfect shoe. Though, I love these Chuckies Pointy brown loafers in any case.

and that's How to do: Leather Goes to Work

WENDY WILLIAMS FRONT ROW (MATERNITY LEAVE RERUN:)

Fashion Cliff Notes | Outfit Ideas

All that Glitters Really is Gold

Q:How you doin'? 

 Yes I had to go there. I'm having a case of 

Wendy

 mania right now. This morning I was awoken at 6 AM, escorted to Chelsea and found myself at the Wendy Williams show!!!! Ari said, "Surprise & Enjoy" and left me there in the VIP line with my other friend, Wendy, to spend the morning on the set of the show. 

Thankfully he advised me that for this surprise outing I needed to dress "

Fun Fun

".  Thanks to the 

seasonal closet swap

 I diligently conducted over the weekend, my sequin, camo holiday party pants were front and center. I thought, "now these are really fun". 

  (Fashion Cliff Note: Sequins are always fun. Sequins on your 

derrière

 are CRAZY FUN.)

So if you are going to the Wendy Williams show and want the chance to sit front row try this:

Sparkly Pants

Bright Top (remember small patterns do not work well on TV)

Flashy Jewelry (but tasteful)

Cool boots

& Fun Hair (like a side braid)

Oh and even Wendy noticed herself. During commercial break, my Daytime TV idol pointed at my pants and mouthed, "i love those pants" while hair and makeup attended to her. Later she walked right up to me and gave me an Insta-glam prize for the outfit. I now own something Wendy touched - as I mentioned - Wendy Mania.

FYI - The Wendy Show is the biggest motivation for getting me into the cardio room where the TVs are at the gym. So if you need some inspiration to put sequins on your 

derrière, only Wendy can make you laugh out loud while on the stair stepper. 

A: I'm doin' fabulous.

A Shot from TV

Not quite sure what we were doing here - Was star struck for the first 30 minutes

and there's Wendy

INSPIRED BY JEAN PAUL GAULTIER - I Can't Breathe

Fashion Cliff Notes | Outfit Ideas

jean paul gaultier, jean paul gaultier exhibit, leather pants, corset, dolce & gabanna, long braids, fashion blogger, fashion photography

(MATERNITY LEAVE RERUN :)

This weekend the Brooklyn Museum was abound with the fashion crowd. As we stood in line for the 

"Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk"

 exhibit, I couldn't help but to giggle and smile at all the leather, studded sneakers and "it" bags in the que. 

I too was part of this leather clad crowd (so I guess i was giggling at myself). My new Zara leather and zipper tights made their debut along with an old corset from Dolce & Gabbana that only comes out on very special occasions - the kind when I don't have to eat or breathe. 

I suppose the giggling is because it's sort of ridiculous to get so gussied up for an event in which all eyes are on the exhibit. Yet, the smile was because 

it's so much fun to get gussied up.

 If fashion doesn't offer you just a little fun, then, that's sad. On this day I pretended to be a hot, sexy, vixen who wears tight animal hide and Madonna style undergarments. Playing dress-up doesn't have to end when you graduation from grade school. 

P.S. You have until Feb 23, 2014 to make it to the exhibit and put on your sexiest outfit !

jean paul gaultier, jean paul gaultier exhibit, leather pants, corset, dolce & gabanna, long braids, fashion blogger, fashion photography

My bare top was kept warm with a rabbit scarf (and a leather jacket - not shown)

jean paul gaultier, jean paul gaultier exhibit, leather pants, corset, dolce & gabanna, long braids, fashion blogger, fashion photography
jean paul gaultier, jean paul gaultier exhibit, leather pants, corset, dolce & gabanna, long braids, fashion blogger, fashion photography

Black and Brown - no longer a Faux Pas

jean paul gaultier, jean paul gaultier exhibit, leather pants, corset, dolce & gabanna, long braids, fashion blogger, fashion photography