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One of the most exciting parts of travel is immersing yourself in the local culture.  And, one of the best ways to do that is with food. Whether you are thinking about your bucket list trip or want to reminisce about a trip you’ve already taken, preparing that local flavor at home can really hit the spot.  Here in Italy, this is classic Italian street food – la piadina!

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.

Sugar, Spice and Everything in Between

Do you like sweet, spicy or salty? Whatever your go-to crave is, a piadina has got it covered……literally!  A piadina is a thin, rustic Italian flatbread sandwich, made of some of the most basic ingredients, which you likely always have on hand.  Originating from the Emilia Romagna region, “la piadina” is  one of the traditional regional foods in this area of northern Italy, world famous for its food and wine. I’ve spent a great deal of time in this region’s capital, Bologna. It’s where my husband grew up and where my mother-in-law and I have spent countless hours going through old family recipes.

rolling out dough for a piadina
Rolling out dough for the classic Italian street food: la piadina

Any time you visit Italy

Nowadays, any time you visit Italy, and in whichever of the 20 regions of Italy you may find yourself, you’ll find the piadina.  Venice is in Veneto, the region just north of Emilia Romagna.  When you walk into gam gam goodies, our kosher bakery/pizzeria a few doors down from GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant, you’ll often hear someone ordering a piadina. Read on to find out what what you eat in a piadina! Similar to a wrap or tortilla, you can fill a piadina with whatever suits your tastes.  Here are three of my favorite piadina fillings:

Piadina Pizza

Making a Piadina Pizza is super easy.  Choose your favorite sauce and cheese.  Then, spread them on a baked piadina.  Add seasonings like fresh basil and oregano, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Heat this open-faced piadina in an oven or in a pan on the stove top until the cheese is melted. 

Piadina with Chocolate and Fresh Strawberries 

Whether you choose white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate, you can’t go wrong.  You can use a ready make creamy chocolate spread or make your own. My Best Ever Chocolate Mousse is perfect for this.  You can get that recipe here: https://rebbetzinunplugged.com/best-ever-chocolate-mousse/

Using a large spoon or spatula, spread a generous portion of chocolate on a piadina. Then add fresh cut strawberries on top. Like the piadina pizza, this can be eaten open-faced, or folded in half.  Feel free to add a mix of fruits, such as peaches, forest berries, pear or whichever are the seasonal fruits in your area. 

Veggie Piadina

If you want to step up your vegetable intake, the Veggie Piadina is a delicious way!  Choose a good quality extra virgin olive oil.  Then, in a sauté pan, cook your favorite combination of vegetables, such as red & yellow pepper strips, zucchini, Roma tomato halves, mushrooms, onions, carrot ribbons or eggplant.

Load your veggies in a horizontal line on the piadina, add seasonings and extra virgin olive oil to your liking.  To create a barrier to prevent the vegetables from falling out, fold in the left and right sides of the piadina just a bit.  Then, from the side closest to you, begin to fold the piadina  over the vegetables.  Halfway, tighten the roll if necessary.  Continue rolling until the piadina is completely closed.

Here’s my four ingredient recipe for homemade piadina.  https://rebbetzinunplugged.com/4-ingredient-recipe-for-homemade-flour-tortilla-wraps-in-just-30-minutes/

Tip: If you are packing this in a lunchbox or to take on a trip, wrap a napkin around the piadina first, then wrap well with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.  This will prevent the piadina from getting soggy.

The Italian region of Emilia Romagna is famous for agriculture, cuisine, wine and Italian street food, like the piadina.

Are you ready for some Italian Street Food? Which of your favorite fillings would you put in a piadina? I can’t wait to read your comments below!

Just wait until you try this 3-ingredient olive dip.  Isn’t it amazing how sometimes it’s the easiest things to do, that are the most impressionable.  I have found this all across the board: in business, guest service, family fun and even (and maybe especially) in cooking. After decades running GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant, we’ve hosted hundreds of thousands of guests. Some of the easiest dishes have become the favorites that people can’t seem to get enough of.  This easy olive appetizer is one such recipe. 

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks! 

Olive Dip is Perfect for Shabbat or Weekdays

Those who have been around our Shabbat table know that I love salads and always make many of them.  Guests come from all over the world and I want to make sure there is something to suit everyone’s taste.  I’m careful to switch it up a bit. I make some different salads for Shabbat lunch, that weren’t served during Friday night dinner.  Some standards, like humus, are served for both meals due to popular request. And they are amongst the most simple to prepare. You can check out my humus recipe here. Another uncomplicated salad is coleslaw.  It’s a real crowd pleaser.

But there is one salad that is amongst the absolute easiest in my recipe box: 3 Ingredient Olive Dip.  There is something about olive dip that is so elegant.  Perhaps it’s the knowledge of how very special olives are. Did you know that olives are one of the seven foods that the Land of Israel is blessed with?  We even say a longer blessing than usual after we eat them.


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The Olive Through The Ages

Olive oil has always been important in the world at large and the Jewish world in particular.  Noah sent the dove to see if the flood waters had receeded.  It came back with the leaf of an olive tree in its mouth.  The Kohen Gadol (high priest) was annointed with olive oil in the days of the Temple (Beit HaMikdash) in Jerusalem. The Beit HaMikdash was where the Western Wall, the remaining outer border wall, still stands today.  The menorah in the Beit HaMikdash was lit daily with olive oil. Many have the custom to light the Hanukkah menorah each year with olive oil as well.

It’s by Divine Providence that the weekly Torah portion at the time of publication of this article is Tetzaveh. It begins with the commandment to take the purest olive oil found in the first drop when the olive is crushed.  We are taught that we need to live with the times. In other words, to see how everything in the Torah portion holds a relevant lesson to our daily lives.  Just like the olive, when we are under pressure, our finest attributes come out as well.  

Olives, Health and Nutrition in the Torah

The Talmud is the Oral Law of the Torah.  It was originally taught to Moses on Mount Sinai. Then, it continued to be taught orally in a continuous chain from teacher to student for centuries. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, born after the destruction of the Second Temple, foresaw that the Jews would be scattered throughout the world. He feared they would forget the Oral Law.  So, he compiled the Mishnah (law details), and later, Ravina and Rabbi Ashi compiled the Gemara (law discussions). Together it is called the Talmud.  

In the Talmud, whose details cover every aspect of life, it’s mentioned that olive oil is beneficial for our health. It specifically details that olive oil supports and sharpens memory.  Nearly 1,900 years after the Talmud was compiled, the advantages of olive oil have been recognized by the medical world. Now, it’s commonplace to read about the proven benefits of olive oil and how it is helpful for our well-being. 

Give It That Extra (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, That Is) 

It is indeed worthwhile to incorporate olive oil into our meals. In particular, extra virgin olive oil is even healthier because of the way it is produced.  The process is done without heat or chemicals involved.  Science now recognizes the good fats from the unhealthy ones.  It’s been proven that even cooking with extra virgin olive oil is beneficial. The antioxidants don’t break down under the heat and are instead absorbed by the food.

Olives have many varieties and have a unique taste.  That being said, let’s jump right into this recipe. The olive lovers amongst your family and guests are sure to delight in it.  Those who may have never tasted an olive or imagined that they would enjoy it, are in for a treat!

Watch: 3 Ingredient Olive Dip

3 Ingredient Olive Dip – Easy Olive Appetizer

5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 142

Ingredients

  • 1 can Green Pitted Olives (plain, not spicy)
  • 1 clove Fresh Garlic
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (to your taste)

Instructions 

  • Drain the liquid from the olives and place them in a bowl or in the food processor.
  • Add fresh garlic to taste. I use one clove per can of olives.
  • Pour on some extra virgin olive oil.
  • Blend with an immersion blender or in the food processor. Think pesto with olives!
Calories: 142kcal
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Kosher, Mediterranean
Keyword: appetizer, ChoppedOliveDip, dips, easy, kosher recipes, NondairyOliveDipRecipe, OliveDipWithoutMayo, olives, vegan

Nutrition

Calories: 142kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 1517mg | Potassium: 44mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 383IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg

What is your favorite dip or appetizer? I can’t wait to read your comments below!

Welcome to the Holiday Gift Guide 2022!

We are all about “making every day the best day” here at RebbetzinUnplugged, so I put together this amazing list of 10 must-have games to play with family and friends.

Everyone loves board games (and even those without the board). They are fun to play, won’t break your wallet and last for years. There’s even a game in the list that my family and I adapted to playing on a video call together for when traveling and visiting is limited.

Here’s everything you need to know in one place. And there is something for everyone: for Mom, the guys, grandma and of course, for kids of all ages. Whether you have to shop for someone who is practical or picky, this Holiday Gift Guide 2022 will ensure everyone on your holiday list is happy.

So, let me help you take care of a good part of your holiday gift buying and go get playing!

🤍 Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

⬅️ Share the Holiday Gift Guide 2022 with family and friends!

Mattel Games Apples to Apples Junior – The Game of Crazy Comparisons

This is a great game that will leave everyone laughing! It’s the perfect balance of using one’s imagination and competition.

Rummikub by Pressman – Classic Edition – The Original Rummy Tile Game

Who hasn’t played this classic! Bring joy to the new generation with this favorite game. Played and loved for over 70 years in 50 countries, how can you go wrong!

3-in-1 Wooden Portable Folding Chess, Checkers & Backgammon Game Combo Set. Classic Travel Board Strategy Game Set

Here’s something for everyone, with three classic games in one! This great portable set will keep the fun going for hours.

What Do You Meme? Family Edition – The Hilarious Family Game for Meme Lovers

This bestseller is now made for families! A hysterical game that lets you compete with family and friends to create the funniest memes.

Hedbanz Picture Guessing Board Game, for Families and Kids Ages 8 and up

Kids and kids-at-heart will love this game that really makes you stop and think. Help kids develop their deductive reasoning skills as well as their laughing muscles! Hedbanz now has an app so you can add wacky face filters while you play the physical game.

⬅️ Share the Holiday Gift Guide 2022 with family and friends! And for everything else Home & Entertainment, you can shop for the best deals on gifts. Click here!

Bananagrams: Multi Award-Winning Word Game

A friend gave us this gift over 10 years ago and it is still one of our family favorites! It’s a word game, a race and it may even drive you bananas!

Beat That! – The Bonkers Battle of Wacky Challenges. Game and Household Objects Expansion Bundle [Family Party Game for Kids & Adults]

Challenge others and be challenged. With over 160 different challenges, the fun never ends! Get ready for hours of laughter!

Hasbro Gaming Yahtzee Board Game

My kids love this game as much as I did growing up. And it’s still one of my favorites! A combination of luck and risk, this game will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

Pressman Triominos – Deluxe Edition Triangular Tiles with Brass Spinners

My sister introduced my family to this game and we have loved it ever since! Think dominoes but better. Triominos is easy, fast-paced and sure to become one of your family’s favorites!

Farkle

Farkle is a fun game of “Should I” or “Shouldn’t I”!

Roll the dice and take some risks, but whatever you do, don’t Farkle!

This game is easy to learn and will keep everyone wondering who will win until the last moment. If travel and visiting is limited, Farkle can even be played during a video call! Our family gathered from all over the world on a video chat and played Farkle together daily.

There’s nothing like gathering around with family and friends over hot cocoa, some delicious chocolate chip cookies and a great game. My Holiday Gift Guide 2022 will help fill your house (or video chat) with laughter and create memories that will last a lifetime!

And for everything else Home & Entertainment, you can shop for gifts here!

⬅️ Remember to share the Holiday Gift Guide 2022 with family and friends across your social media. They’ll thank you for it! Which of these is your favorite?

“How do you make the perfect Italian coffee at home,” you wonder? Well, I’ll tell you!  As you may already know, I am passionate about coffee. When I go to sleep at night, I am already excited to wake up and have my morning coffee. Anyone else?  There are several ways and types of coffee that I enjoy, but there is a wonderful way to make coffee that is a deep part of Italian culture, and that is the Moka.  Not to be confused with mocha, the combination of chocolate and coffee flavors, but moka, with a “K.”

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

To make this coffee and bring some of this Italian coffee culture into your home, you must begin with a moka pot.  Interestingly, the word “Moka” actually comes from a port city in Yemen, where coffee was exported.

Delicious Coffee to Start the Day

There’s nothing like a cup of hot coffee in the morning.  Just the mere thought of the smell, the taste, can make you jump out of bed.  A pot of good coffee is a way to bring everyone together.  Sitting over hot coffee with a friend is one of my favorite things to do.  And, there are so many ways and types of coffee, but today I’m going to tell you all about preparing and drinking a moka.  

Coffee the Italian Way

Torrefazione Cannaregio – My favorite coffee shop!

Fortunately, not far from where I live, there is one of my most favorite places in all of Venice. It is a coffee house called Torrefazione Cannaregio.  Torrefazione refers to a coffee bean roaster. It was started in 1930, and was located on the main street, Strada Nuova.  It was a unique place. The door opened and you were hit with the most incredible aroma of coffee.  The floor was lined with enormous sacks of coffee beans and you could even get a glimpse of an enormous round coffee roaster in the back.  It was always packed, but the line moved fast. Some would take their coffee “da portare via” (to go) and others would drink at the counter, as there was only bar service.

It’s since changed ownership and now it is located right near the Jewish Ghetto, on the Fondamenta Ormesini.  Combining the look of a quaint coffee house with the beautiful glass containers of coffee lining the walls, you can sit inside and look out at the Venetian canal and watch gondolas go by. Although you may hear many languages from around the world at one of their canal-side tables, if you stand and drink right at the bar, you can often hear Venetian, the unique Italian dialect of the lagoon city. 

Know Your Coffee

The staff is well-versed in every type of coffee they sell and how exactly to make it.  Each coffee bean produces a different taste, and the staff is kind and patient to explain the details.  Some coffee beans are more fruity, while others are more earthy. At Torrefazione Cannaregio, they will even blend coffee for you with your choice of ingredients such as anise, black pepper, cinnamon and more. In Italy, people genuinely savor and enjoy the flavor of the coffee.  A typical Italian breakfast is a coffee and a “cornetto,” a croissant, either plain, dusted with powered sugar or chocolate-filled. 

The Moka Coffee Grind

Perfect Moka Italian Coffee Grind

If you will be buying coffee beans to be ground on the premises, you will be asked whether you would like them ground for espresso or moka.  The grind for a moka machine is a bit more course than that of an espresso machine. Once you have your perfect grind and blend, you are (almost) all set.  

An Italian Coffee Classic

With these easy steps, I will share with you how you can make the perfect moka Italian coffee at home, just like the Italians do. I That’s a coffee with a smooth, rich taste, and not bitter. But first, you must have a moka machine.  My preference is a Bialetti, which is the most well-known brand.  With a Bialetti, you know what are getting.  It is a high-quality coffee maker, named after it’s inventor, Alfonso Bialetti.  The story goes that in the early part of the 20th century, Mr. Bialetti had a workshop where he produced aluminum products.  In the 30’s, he designed what would become the iconic moka pot, which has enhanced the way people drink coffee around the world.

Moka machines comes in a range of sizes.  At home, I have a six cup moka, which is a perfect size for just us or for when we are having some company. If that’s too big for you, you can get a small moka that makes two cups.  I’ve seen a much larger 18 cup moka, as well. And now, on to the actual brewing process.

                                                              

How to Make a Moka Coffee

Making a moka is actually very easy.  Familiarize yourself with the parts of the stove-top machine.  The base get filled with water.  The little filter cup gets the coffee.  On the underside of the top of the moka machine, you will see two parts: a little filter and a rubber ring holding it in place.  It’s all quite basic.  But there are some tricks of the trade that will make your moka coffee taste just perfect.

Step 1

Put some water up to boil, because starting with boiling water is one of the keys to making a delicious moka.  By beginning with water that is already hot, the coffee in the moka machine won’t be exposed to the direct heat of the flame any longer than necessary. This will eliminate that bitter taste that’s commonly associated with coffee that is prepared incorrectly in a moka.  

Step 2

Next, take a look inside the bottom container.  You will see a little valve.  That’s where you fill your boiled water to. Keep in mind that once you fill the base of the machine with the boiling water, it will be hot.  So, work with a dish towel when you need to pick it up. You can also preheat the coffee cups you’ll be using with some of the remaining boiled water.

Step 3

Now it’s time to fill the filter cup with coffee.  Fill it to the top of the cup, without pressing the coffee down. You can give it a gentle swipe to even it out, but it shouldn’t be packed.  Insert the cup into the water-filled base.

Step 4

Next, take your dish towel to hold the base still while you place the top of the moka machine on and carefully twist it closed.  And now, you are just a few minutes from having some of the most delicious coffee you will ever taste.

Step 5

Place the moka machine on the stove and turn the flame on to medium-low heat.  Regardless of the size of your moka pot, be sure that the stove flame does not extend outward and up the sides of the moka pot.  Soon, the coffee magic will begin. You’ll start to hear the coffee boil upward through the internal mechanism into the top container.  It’s doesn’t take long, so keep an eye on it. 

Your kitchen will smell so delicious.  All the coffee lovers in the house will come running.  Carefully pour, serve, sip and enjoy.  I always say that coffee is like a vacation in a cup.  And a moka is like when you get an upgrade. To make it even better, you can pair it with these delicious Bisse Italian Biscotti.

A Virtual Shopping Experience in Venice

When you do come and visit Venice, you can buy a bag of beans to take home for yourself or to give as a gift.  What an amazing souvenir for a coffee lover.  But, why wait! This is one of the places I love to take people on my virtual personal shopping tours. Would you like me to pick some up for you? Let me know! You can set up a virtual personal shopping experience in Venice with me, from the comfort of you own home.  For more info, email me at RebbetzinUnplugged@gmail.com

What’s your favorite flavor or type of coffee? Let me know in the comments. I’m so excited to hear from you!

What a special two day celebration of Rosh Hashanah it was! (The Jewish new year goes according to the lunar calendar). We had hundreds of guests from all over the world. 

Rosh Hashanah: Is it all just apples and honey

Usually, dinner hosts sit at the table with their guests. My husband and I were more like emcees, explaining all the symbolism and special traditions throughout the evening. 

In Hebrew, “rosh” means “head.” Just like the head holds everything that controls the entire body, Rosh Hashanah holds an amazing potential for everything that we do for the whole year.  With that in mind, I asked our holiday dinner guests, “Since we are at a new beginning, what is something that you would like to work on, to better yourself? What “hachlata tova” (good resolution) would you like to make?

How do you inspire others

I invited those who wanted to share aloud to do so. It’s known that if you want to challenge yourself with something new, share that endeavor with someone. Telling someone about it makes it real and holds you more accountable to get it done.

But more than that, I wanted whoever wished, to share to do it out loud, because I knew that even more than we each would be inspired by whatever we would take upon ourselves, it would encourage and inspire others as well.

Why is it important to challenge yourself

Some knew right away what they wanted to share. Others had to give it some thought. And there were those who did not initially want to share at all. But as more people spoke up, it did indeed inspire those more hesitant to speak up as well. We all want to do better and improve ourselves. That’s how we grow intellectually and emotionally.

Some of the many resolutions that were made at the Rosh Hashanah table were:

  • Take my physical therapy for my hip more seriously. 
  • Complain less.
  • Take better care of myself.
  • Learn how to speak another language.

We discussed how everyone can do anything for 5 minutes a day. So that would be our starting place. Start small and make it happen.

Did you make a resolution on Rosh Hashanah? It’s not too late. Tell me in the comments below what you choose. I’m rooting for you!

👉👉👉 Got leftover apples? Here’s the Apple Cinnamon Crumb cake they will love!

Many are surprised when I tell them that I am in my 50’s.  Although we can all improve our self-care, one thing that I have been consistent about is my skin care routine.  And it’s never too early or too late to start. When I was a teenager, an older woman told me to be sure to use a face cream every day.  In my early twenties, another told me to be sure to moisturize my neck as well.  And yet another added, don’t forget your décolletage.

🤍 Over the years, many of you have asked which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of those links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

Perhaps you have dry skin, oily skin or combination skin.  Some more serious situations call for going to a dermatologist or skin care salon to speak with a skin care specialist who can do a complete analysis.  

Here are my top five tips for all skin types to make your skin glow.


1. Skin Care Starts With A Clean Slate

Start your morning fresh by washing your face with a gentle purifying cleanser.  Even before a shower, washing your face removes any result of perspiration or residue that may have accumulated during sleep.  It also helps you wake up and feel more ready to take charge of your day.

2. Create an Oasis for Your Skin

Moisturizing your skin is one of the most important things you can do for your skin health.  And nowadays, there are more specialized products on the market than ever before. It’s worth the time and attention to do a little research and find a moisturizer with many positive reviews, whether online or by asking friends what skin care products they love.  

Choose a moisturizer with SPF.  Even many makeup companies have recognized the importance of daily SPF use and have incorporated sun protection into their makeup.  It’s also important to choose a moisturizer made specifically for your skin’s particular needs.  If you have oily or sensitive skin, be sure to choose accordingly.

Another important factor is to choose a moisturizer that doesn’t clog pores.  Think of your skin’s pores as little helpers that get rid of sweat and natural oils that your skin releases.  When we aren’t careful to clean our face and neck properly each day, our pores can get clogged.  Adding moistuizer on top of clogged pores not only clogs them further, but doesn’t allow the moisturizer to do its job since it can’t penetrate the skin deeply.  It’s important to be especially careful of areas that tend to get neglected, such as between the eyebrows and around the nostrils. A good toner and exfoliator can also help.   

Aside from choosing the best daytime face cream within your budget, using an eye cream can also be very beneficial.  The skin around the eyes is more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face.  For this reason, eye creams are made without ingredients that can irritate, such as fragrances and are made with lesser amounts of retinol.

                       

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3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

This can not be said enough.  Hydrating is one of the best things you can do for your body.  Every morning, even before my coffee, I drink a cup of water.  And no, I am usually not in the mood nor do I have “a taste” to drink water.  But it has become a habit and now I do it without too much thought.  Do you want to know what helped me make drinking water first thing in the morning a daily ritual?  It began with a daily visualization as I drank.  

Have you ever had a houseplant that didn’t seem like it was going to make it?  Perhaps you had gone on vacation or just forgot about it, and it was dry, limp and withered. Then, by what seemed like a miracle after one watering, the plant suddenly has been brought back to life, standing erect and full of shine!  Well, one day I realized that was exactly how my skin felt.  So as I drink that cup of water each morning, I would visualize my skin and my body being rejuvenated and energized by the water. And it works………literally!

But keeping your skin hydrated doesn’t only depend on your water intake.  It also depends on your sun intake.  Whether direct or indirect exposure, the sun can be your friend or your foe.  Here too, a little research goes a long way.  It’s important to understand how much sun and which rays are beneficial.  And learning about how sunlight affects cholesterol to produce vitamin D is quite fascinating. 

There is also much to learn about how we can, not only help our skin from the outside, but also from the inside.  Various nutrients can help our skin.  There is an interesting correlation between vitamin c and our bodies natural collagen production.  Collagen is a protein that is found naturally in our skin and that supports connective tissue.  Our connective tissue is crucial to our body health in that it supports and protects our body tissue and organs. Foods rich in vitamin C also offer our bodies help in increasing its hyaluronic acid, its natural form of lubrication. A better understanding of how our amazing bodies work will encourage you to take better care of yourself and help you be your body’s protector.  

                       

4. Finish Off Strong!

An evening skin care regimen can be considered just as important as your morning skin care routine. I often say, “A great day starts the night before.”  You work hard all day and so does your skin. To see the best results from your daytime efforts, I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to go to bed with a clean and moisturized face. Adding a soothing lip balm and moisturizing your hands before bed is a quick action that will make you feel luxurious and accomplished before you doze off from a day spent mostly taking care of others.

                       

5. Recovery Mode is Real for Skin Care

Two of the best things you can do for your anti aging skin care is to get adequate amounts of sleep and exercise.  Your skin is working hard by day to protect itself from the elements.  Help your skin recover and your skin’s cells rejuevnate during the night while you sleep.  

Use these precious hours at rest to help your skin cells as your body’s blood flow increases during sleep. I mentioned how helpful it is to moisturize before bed as well as during the start of your day.  You can use the same cream you use during your morning skin care routine, but there are night face creams with added ingredients to help your skin restore and renew its elasticity while you sleep. 

With a little research you can choose the skin care products that are best for you and your budget.  Although nature will take its course, we can and should do our best to take care of ourselves.  These simple self care practices will help us live more mindfully.  And the added benefits will not only be skin so soft and reduced wrinkles, but an increase in positive thinking and healthy emotions that emanate from proper self care and lower stress levels.

As it is taught, a physical body protects the soul, so do your best to keep your body in good shape by starting with improving your skin health!

What can you start doing for yourself today to improve your skin care routine? Let me know in the comments below. I can’t wait to see what you wrote!

Budgeting should be simple.  In theory, it is.  Subtract your expenses from your income, and voila!  But often, we get sidetracked or overwhelmed when trying to budget. Are you looking for a good way to organize your expenses?  One of the most important things you can do is to set up a budgeting system.  With these practical budgeting tips, it will be easier than you think. Plus, there’s a free instant download to help you, so keep reading!

When is it Too Late to Start Using a Budget?

Whether you are just starting out at your first paying job or if you are nearing retirement, a budget can help you get your finances under control by giving you a plan of action.  Not only does a budget help you with your hard-earned savings, but it can also help you minimize your expenses.  A budget helps put you in charge of your money.  Read on to discover how you can take control of your finances once and for all.

Practical Budgeting Tips
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But I’ve Tried to Budget Before

When it comes to budgeting, most people fall into one of these categories:

  • Those who don’t know where to begin.
  • Those who won’t begin because they keep everything in their heads.
  • Those who spend so long trying to make a budgeting template that they get frustrated and quit.
  • Those who spend hours (or days) making such an in-depth budget template that they made it too challenging to use or are too tired to even look at it again.

Have no fear, you are already halfway there.  I’ve made a budget template for you to start using right away.  We’ll get to that in a moment.  Let’s focus a minute on the “Why.”

Why Should I Use a Budget?

Having an organized budgeting system can help you acheive your goals. One of the first things you will discover is that aside from having more organized finances, you can set up goals for yourself, your family and your future.  Most of us are so busy working day to day, that we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to plan for the future. But a little bit of planning goes a long way. When we set specific goals, then we have something to strive for. Budgeting goals will help us be more aware of our spending decisions in general, as well as careful with our day to day choices.

Having a budgeting system in place also helps encourage you.  It puts things in perspective and makes you see what you are doing right and helps you improve on what needs to be done better.  Once you get things down on paper, it is easier to see how you can be more efficient.


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Other Budgeting Tips that Work

Open a Separate Savings Account

This is an important step to insure that you don’t “borrow” from your savings.  An even better step is to open a savings account in a separate banking institution.  

Direct Deposit

Automate your savings with direct deposit from your employer. There are many benefits to direct deposit, including convenience, immediate availability of funds and reduction of paperwork.

Set Up an Emergency Fund

This will be one of the first goals.  After you set up your budget by itemizing your expenses and income, decide how much money you can put toward an emergency fund. 

Dave Ramsey suggests an emergency fund should have enough money to keep you going for two months.  Then should an emergency arise, such as loss of work, you will be in a better position until you find work. Begin with a goal of $1000.  Once you reach that, focus your energy on minimizing your debt, beginning with your smallest balance, not including a mortgage. 

Meanwhile, continue to add to the emergency fund until you reach your two month goal.  Whether it takes months or years, do everything in your power to pay off your debt. 

Itemizing your expenses will bring to light any expenses you can do without, at least temporarily.  Once you reach your emergency fund two month goal, you can then contribute solely to your savings account.

Meal Planning

This step can be a great way to reduce expenses.  It guides you to buy only what is actually needed at the grocery store, reducing extra expenses.  It also helps reduce any food waste, contributing to even greater savings.  It is also a time saver.  Spend 10 minutes once a week deciding what to prepare, instead of having to think about what to cook seven times a week when you come home tired from work.  You can download my Meal Planner by clicking here.

Overall Benefits of Using these Practical Budgeting Tips

Lastly, review your budget every six months and make any adjustments necessary. Often, people think that a budget is limiting, but ultimately, the opposite is true.  These practical budgeting tips will help you minimize stress, give you a sense of freedom and add to your overall quality of life and relationships.  

One of the best advantages is that with each year of budgeting, you become better at it. Just like a muscle that you use becomes stronger, the more you set healthy financial goals and boundaries, the easier it becomes.  It won’t be long before you will see the benefits and begin to enjoy them. And, this will lead you to want to be more organized in other parts of your life as well.

To help you get started, here is an Interactive Budget Template. It’s a free instant download.

Budget Template

What other templates will help you with organization? Let me know in the comments below. I’m excited to hear from you!

🎬 You will love these Bisse Italian Cookies. Watch the Cook & Connect with the Rebbetzin Unplugged to find out how fun they are to make.

Join celebrity chefs and thousands of online viewers who watched from around the world, as they enjoyed an evening of connection, cooking and creativity as part of The Shabbat Project.

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These Italian biscotti are likely the most well known of the typical desserts of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice. These are one of my family’s favorite cookies…..crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Their “S” shape makes them perfect for dipping in a glass of cold milk or your favorite hot drink.

They are as easy to make as they are delicious.  

One of the best things about these Bisse Italian cookies is that they are made from ingredients which you most likely always have in your kitchen and pantry anyway.

bright cheery kitchen envato

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They are inexpensive and the dough can be made ahead, as it stores very well in the refrigerator for a few days in a tight sealed or well-wrapped container. These cookies do not last long in my house. In fact, I usually have to make a double batch.

Try out this recipe and your friends and family will think you are a biscotti pro!

Bisse Italian Cookies

4.95 from 18 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 19 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes
Servings 19 Cookies
Calories 181
These are the perfect Bisse cookie – crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 3 1/3 Cups Flour
  • Pinch of Salt

Instructions 

Prepare the Batter

  • Beat the eggs and sugar together until creamy
  • Next, add in the olive oil and the zest of one lemon.
  • The zest is the yellow. You want to avoid getting any of the pith, the white, in there. It’s bitter. We only want that delicious, fragrant yellow zest.
  • The easiest way to do this is with a mandoline.
  • Next, add a pinch of salt
  • Finally, add the 3 1/3 cups of flour in two parts.
  • This makes it easier to fold in the flour and ensures that we don’t have any lumps. Check down at the bottom to make sure all the flour has been incorporated.
  • Once mixed, you can put the dough in the fridge for about 1/2 hour to get a more workable consistency, but if you don’t have time, it's not necessary.

Shaping the Cookies

  • Now, flour your cooking paper and your fingers with a little bit of flour. And take a large spoonful of the cookie dough and roll it out like a stick, around 8 or 9 inches long (20-23 cm). I like to use the length of my hand as a guide to make uniform sized cookies, with the stick of dough extending a bit past my wrist and the tip of my middle finger.
  • You want to work the dough the least possible, because an overworked cookie dough leads to a tough cookie.
  • Now, I’ll tell you a trick to get a perfect "S" shape.
  • What you want to do is pick up the stick from each end and as you transfer the dough on to your baking sheet, and just before you put it down on the baking sheet, form the "S". Once down, you can adjust the shape a bit if necessary.
  • Try to get 2 rows of four cookies on the baking sheet.
  • In between batches, stick the dough in the fridge to keep it at a good consistency to work with.
  • Bake the cookies for 5 minutes at 425F. (202C)
  • Then lower the heat to 350F for around 14 minutes. (175C)
  • Cookies continue to bake if left on a hot baking sheet, so as soon as they come out of the oven, you want to carefully slide the baking paper onto a cooling rack.
  • Place a new sheet of baking paper on the baking sheet and continue shaping and baking the cookies.
Calories: 181kcal
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: biscotti, bisse, Italian desserts, Jewish Ghetto, kosher, Venice Italy

Nutrition

Calories: 181kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 33mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 38IU | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg

If you love these Bisse Italian Cookies and Italian cooking in general, then you’ll love my gnocchi recipe. Let me know in the comments what other Italian recipes you’d like to see on RebbetzinUnplugged.com

Purim 2022 is coming right up (beginning Wednesday evening, March 16 and ending Thursday evening, March 17) and you can recreate some of the fun right at home with these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas. Do you remember the sights and sounds of a carnival when you were a kid? Read on to see how you can create that for those you care about.

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

What is Purim and how is it celebrated? 

Purim is usually a community wide event celebrated with food, fun, games and entertainment. Whether in local synagogues or at other venues, you can hear joyous music, see creative costumes and hear the traditional greeting, “Chag Purim Sa’me’ach!”

Listen to the pronunciation of the Purim greeting here.

Why is Purim So Important?

Purim commemorates a 14-year dark saga for the Jews of Ancient Persia.  Queen Esther saved her people from the evil royal official, Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people.  

What Happens on Purim?

To remember the series of hidden miracles of Purim, we have four mitzvahs (commandments).  You can read more about the four mitzvahs of Purim here.

Host Your Own Purim Celebration!

You can make your own Purim Carnival.  Whether you actually have a backyard or not isn’t important.  These carnival ideas can even be done inside a small apartment like mine. (Keep a mop handy! JK 😃). 

The typical Purim festivities may not be happening as they usually would be.  But, the essential parts of the holiday (the mitzvahs) are happening and we all can create a wonderful Purim for ourselves.  

Young and Young at Heart Will Love These Purim Carnival Ideas

You can make the carnival games as simple or as detailed as you wish.  You don’t need to break the bank.  With a little bit of planning and some inexpensive supplies, you’ll be good to go!  

1. Sack Race

All you need is a starting point, a finish line and some large garbage bags.  This is probably one of my favorites.  It’s quite hysterical watching people of all ages jump, jump, jump their way to the finish line.

2. Bean Bag Toss

Place 3 colored bowls (they can be different sizes) in a line, each worth different points, with the bowl worth the most points furthest from the player.  Each player gets 3 tries to toss a ball into a bowl to accumulate points.  Player receives one ticket per point received or one ticket for each successful toss.

3. Three in A Row

Draw a tic tac toe pattern on a large poster board.  Using 5 bean bags, the player needs to get three in a row in any direction.

 

4. Pin the Hat on Haman

This is a take on the traditional Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but Purim style! Draw Haman on a large poster board and cut out some triangles for his hat.  Write each player’s name on a hat and add a piece of masking tape to the back so it will adhere to the posterboard.  Blindfold the player, give him a few gentle spins and watch the dizzy fun begin as he aims to put the hat on Haman’s head!  

5. Egg and Spoon Race

Just like the Sack Race, all you need is a starting point, a finish line, eggs and spoons.  Holding the egg in the spoon, each player races the other to the finish line.  It’s funniest if the eggs are raw.  If it’s too messy, use hard boiled eggs.

6. Ring Toss

Place 12 full water bottles standing in three rows of four.  The player tosses the rings trying to land them on the bottle spout. Or, you can use this cone and rings set.

7. Ladder Toss

Open a ladder.  Decorate with some streamers.  Mark each step with an amount of points.  The higher the step, the greater the amount of points. The player uses tennis balls to accumulate points by tossing them through the corresponding steps.

8. Flying Ducks

On a large poster board, cut out 5 circles that a rubber duckie will fit through.  Assign each hole a different point value: 20, 30, 40, 50 and 100.  Each player gets three throws.

9. Skee Ball

Cut 4 large poster boards of different colors into strips and staple them together to form circles.  Each colored circle should nest within the others, just like a skee ball game.  Each ring has progressively increasing point values.  Instead of rolling, the player tosses ping pong balls into the rings to accumulate points.

10. Ping Pong Toss

Place large disposable cups, each with a different hidden value written on the bottom, in random order.  The player tries to toss ping pong balls into the cups.  When he is finished with the balls, the points are added up. Mix up the order of the cups (and their point values) between players.

(Here’s An Extra Carnival Game)! Knock ‘Em Down

Using more of the large disposable cups, stack them face-down in the shape of a triangle (in a 1-2-3-4 pattern). Using tennis balls or something of similar weight, the player tries to knock all the cups over.


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Added Fun For Your Purim Carnival

Set up a photo booth! Use an easily made backdrop or one that is ready-made like this photo frame complete with a variety of party photo props.

A little decorating goes a long way.  Some colorful balloons and crepe paper streamers really can set the tone.  It’s super easy with this balloon pump set, complete with an electric air balloon blower pump.  And, I love these carnival style tickets that can be used for raffles and for the carnival games winnings.  Then, everyone can trade in their tickets for prizes.  Perhaps most important, don’t forget some delicious Hamantaschen on your prize table.  They are easy and fun to make.  Click here for my GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant Hamantaschen recipe!

Have Fun and Make Memories

Purim will come and go, and hopefully these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas will help you add some happiness to your holiday. We can take a lesson from Queen Esther.  Even under dire circumstances, she kept her Jewish traditions.  This gave her the strength to get through the challenges, even during some of her loneliest times.  As it is written in the Megillah, “For the Jews there was light, gladness, joy and honor.” So may it be for each of us!

If you need help arranging a Megillah reading or have any other Purim questions, please let me know at RebbetzinUnplugged@gmail.com. What’s your favorite of these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas? Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below! 🎉 

Spring is knocking on the door, so welcome her with these beautiful, easy and budget friendly spring decor ideas for every room in your home.  They will brighten your living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, home office and bathroom.

Getting Started with Your Spring Guide

If you’ve ever wondered, “How can I decorate my living room for spring?” or “How do you decorate for spring on a budget?” you’ve come to the right place. I’ve got the tips, ideas and solutions for you. This is a collection of some of my favorite personal photography from Venice, Italy.  Read on to see how you can adapt it to take advantage of the fresh aspect of spring to add some joy and happiness to your home.  These decoration ideas are blooming with style. You’ll find something for every style from casual to elegant, to freshen up your home and your life.

Do It Yourself Spring Decor Ideas

Here is a simple and easy way to use the technology available to us, even to decorate. You can now choose what you like from the comfort of your home.  There is no shipping and no waiting. Just download the link to the high-quality photo that you like and have it printed locally right on the spot. CVS & Walgreens often offer printing within the hour. You can even print them from the comfort of home with an online service like Shutterfly, as you’ll see one of our guests did down below.

They are high-quality and can be printed on almost anything: canvas, coffee mugs, shopping bags, puzzles, wedding invitations, thank you cards, save the date cards, holiday cards, glass or photo paper. Our recent guest, Debbie ordered two pictures and wrote, “I decided to do something a little artsy and different! It’s printed on metal…kind of urban chic.”

Photos of Venice printed on metal.
My photos printed on metal!

Whether you’ve been to Italy in recent years or long ago, these additions to your spring decor will bring back great memories.  If you’ve only dreamt of coming, then this will be the inspiration to plan a trip at the right time.

How To Decorate Your Space

The Living Room, Bedrooms & Home Office

Start by picking a Venice scene that you like. Typically, spring decor is complemented with bright, joyful colors along with florals and greens denoting new life. In the living room, bedroom or home office, you can add throw pillows and an accent rug based on the colors in your newly framed picture of Venice. Or, you can print the picture directly on one of the throw pillows.  Then surround it with two other pillows with colors or patterns inspired by the picture.


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The Kitchen & Dining Room

Depending on the size of your space, a series of smaller prints can add a fresh perspective and brighten up any room.  Add in some colored glassware reminiscent of Murano, the famous smaller island of Venice.  For nearly 1000 years, families have passed down the mesmerizing skill of combining fire and colored glass to make some of the most unique blown glass pieces seen around the world.  

A stunning framed photo of Venice can be the perfect backdrop to a lace tablecloth inspired by the Venetian island of Burano.  Generations of mothers have created handmade lace tablecloths, napkins and handkerchiefs.

Sara, who hopes to come to Venice someday, adorned her wall with my Venice photography in a lovely grouping of four.

Bathroom or Laundry Room

Everywhere you go in Venice, the magical city has something beautiful to see.  There are palaces lining the Grand Canal and beautiful bridges of marble that have stood for centuries.  But, all throughout Venice, one of the most eye-catching things that brings a smile to all passers-by is the colorful clothing hanging from the clotheslines. Attached between the buildings, and very often hanging over the canals, clotheslines decorate the air with a variety of garments and attire. These sparks of color make the antique city come to life.  They are reminders that within these old walls, there are people with personal stories continuing today. 

Spring Symbolizes Rebirth, New Beginnings & Your Decor Can Too  

After the long cold winter, the sun shines and flowers bloom. Most Venice residents don’t have front lawns or backyards for landscaping.  Instead, beautiful flowers adorn the windows and balconies. There are gardens, but many are hidden behind the larger palaces. When I do come across a park or area with fresh cut grass, I take a moment to breathe in that refreshing and invigorating scent. 

Here’s a spring decor idea that is good for your health too! Spring is the perfect time to bring nature inside.  Choose some indoor plants from your garden or your local gardener. Ask about the best plants to improve the indoor air-quality of your home.  Often, these varieties require very little attention and are amongst the easiest to care for. 

Spring Gift Ideas for Holidays, Birthdays & Special Occasions

As Mother Nature comes alive and shares her gifts of the season, you can also share these gifts to enhance someone else’s space. This is the perfect way to make a unique and custom made gift that is personal, memorable and will leave a lasting impression. It’s fast, easy and convenient!  And you’ll pay a tenth of what one would pay for a framed piece of art in a gallery.  There is something for everyone’s budget.

The end of the school year will be here before we know it.  Do you have several teachers to thank? As the weather gets warmer, more outdoor parties and gatherings will be taking place.  This is the perfect opportunity to choose birthday gifts, a unique thank you gift for a host or appreciation gifts for everyone on your list.

What is the best gift for a newly married couple?

Spring is a popular wedding season. If you know someone planning a wedding in the spring, you can easily give a thoughtful wedding gift that will be cherished for years to come.

Even though there may be many spring weddings this year, many may not be able to travel.  What better way to send a beautiful gift for a new home. Not only is this a great gift idea, it is easy to ship and can even be done completely online from the comfort of your own home. Choose a photo, decide what you would like it printed on and have it shipped directly to the lucky gift recipient.

Spring Gift Ideas for Your Bridal Party

Are you the bride or groom? If you are looking for gift ideas on a budget, this is the solution for you. Those who have helped you organize your wedding have been there for you. What better way to show your best man, maid of honor or bride’s maids your gratitude than with a unique, custom or personalized gift from the City of Love.

These are so-well priced, they can even be wedding favors for your guests. Get creative and print smaller sizes to use as themed table decorations from the most romantic city in the world. 

Spring is Coming!

When spring arrives, you’ll be ready! The sun will be shining and so will your smile as you look around at the beautiful, easy and budget friendly ideas that you’ve turned into a decorating reality.  All that will be left to do is to create wonderful memories in your home and in your life. 

Which of these spring decor ideas is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below. I can’t wait to see what you wrote!

Be sure to check the ChaiStyle Shop often for new photos and more! 📸


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