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Archive for December, 2009

Most of us don’t have the luxury of doing something obviously creative every day. I wish I had time to write and edit poems, read poems and even watercolor and cook new dishes every day. Of course, there are errands to run, laundry to do and paying work to finish.

One of my resolutions for the new year is to really slow down and make time for what is not only important, but vital to living a good life. I want to *find* the time to do these things if not every day, then every week. 

Taking an extra moment to do something might even allow us all to do less creative things more creatively. You can take a new road to work and explore your neighborhood more. Look around at your surroundings more carefully. Buy different vegetables in the Farmer’s Market and try out a new recipe. Spend an extra minute writing an email so that it isn’t a list of speedy facts, but rather a thoughtful progression of words.

My husband and I enjoyed making many of our holiday gifts this year. We talked about what we wanted to do, made them and then wrapped them together. With a pile of markers, we were able to personalize what could have been a present wrapped by a store clerk who never met the receiver.

I recently bought a travel watercolor kit and watercolor postcard paper. I’m fairly certain that my work would only make a mother proud, but I’m slowly improving and I feel peaceful when I experiment with the colors and painting new shapes. It is important to find this space for ourselves.

I really believe that we will all be more productive if we take advantage of moments here and there to relax and recharge.

What will you do to be more creative in 2010?

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I’d like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season!

As someone who celebrates Christmas, I enjoy sitting before the lit tree with family members drinking hot cocoa or eggnog. It means so much to be together talking. We spend so much of our lives texting, in front of the computer or running off to our next appointment. We need this quiet time together.

There are traditions that each family follow and I’ve enjoyed becoming a part of my husband’s family’s traditions. For example, they buy a large and sturdy tree that allows them to literally put the presents between the branches. The tree becomes the gift. They also have ornaments from almost everywhere they have traveled together. My husband and I liked this tradition so much that we started to do it ourselves. We love to decorate our tree and remember the places we’ve gone, from New York City’s Rockefeller Center to Mackinaw Island.  

My family opens some presents on Christmas Eve after a large dinner and then the rest before breakfast (but after coffee!) on Christmas morning. Usually there is a fire going and we listen to Italian Christmas records. I always look forward to Christmas breakfast with bagels, lox, cream cheese and eggs.

What is your favorite part of the holidays?

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My friend Angela has an amazing new blog, Something Green.  Learn all about the tricks and products to help make your event more green from holiday stockings to renewal candles. Don’t miss the Green Glossary and Green Directory. She has been involved in the event and writing businesses for years. She’s the expert you’ve been looking for!

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After a very successful fall semester at Rec & Ed, I will be teaching two Italian classes next semester: Italian 1 and Italian 2.

These evening, adult classes are fun and help you to learn useful phrases, grammar and vocabulary. I speak as much as possible in Italian and create an immersion environment. We always end the semester with a festa!

Not sure if you should take Italian 1 or Italian 2? The Italian 2 class will be a continuation of last semester’s Italian 1. We completed the present tense and useful vocabulary surrounding greetings, hotels, directions, trains/planes/buses, and eating. We will be reviewing, of course, as we move onto the past tense. If you spoke some Italian at home growing up or have taken a course or two before, Italian 2 is for you. If you’ve never taken Italian before, I recommend that you start with Italian 1.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me: ChloeMiller{at}gmail{dot}com. You can register online! Scroll down on this page for information on the classes and links to register.

Here are the details:

Italian 1

8 Wednesday nights (January 27 to February 17 & March 3 to March 24)

6 to 7:30pm

Price Resident: $115.00

Non-resident: $129.00

Class will be held at Pioneer High School 

Italian 2

8 Wednesday nights (January 27 to February 17 & March 3 to March 24)

7:40 to 9:10pm

Price Resident: $115.00

Non-resident: $129.00

Class will be held at Pioneer High School 

*If you are interested in learning Italian this winter but can’t make these classes, I am available for private tutoring. I have a very flexible schedule: we can meet in the mornings, afternoons or evenings. I can suggest texts and provide handouts for our private lessons based on your interests, skills and needs. I am happy to work with individuals and small groups.

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I love to cook as much as the next foodie, but sometimes I get bored. You know the drill – you’ve planned meals, gone food shopping with a list and as you get to the end of your perishables, you find you’ve lost the love for the lonely broccoli in your fridge or frozen sausage you bought on sale.

I like to have some backup food in my pantry for those less-inspired, less hungry, too-busy nights. A can of beets can become a quick salad with oil, vinegar and sliced onions. Pasta with some marinara in a jar can be a filling meal, especially if you mix in some defrosted chop meat.

Prepared food in a box is usually so filled with preservatives, corn syrup and unrecognizable words that I try to avoid them. I will admit, though, that Trader Joe’s has some good prepared options with a limited list of ingredients. If I can pronounce them all, I’ll try it out. Their canned chicken noodle soup is good to have on hand when you get the sniffles and don’t have the energy to make yourself Mom’s recipe. Their microwaveable Indian specialties are really flavorful, quick and tasty with whatever rice you have in the pantry or backup frozen Trader Joe’s naan.

The key to this is having back-up food in the freezer or pantry. I love shopping and stocking up when there’s a good sale or coupon.

We have some frozen (Michigan made!) pirogues that will probably find their way out of the freezer tonight. Boiled and then quickly fried in olive oil with some sliced onions, we’ll be filled up and quickly cleaned up, too.

What are your favorite quick meals?

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For those of you specifically interested in writing tips – composition to creative writing – I’ve started a second blog. This blog, Chloe Yelena Miller, will address the kinds of tips I give my composition writing students and private writing students.

My blog will integrate the content of some of the writing courses I’ve taught and workshops I’ve presented since I received my MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

Here are some sample courses I’ve taught:
Poetry Writing Your Family
Travel Writing
Memoir Writing
Advanced Writing
Popular Culture: Poetry & War
Composition I & Composition II
Research Writing

Additionally, I’ve presented the following workshops:
Brainstorming, Work, and Creativity: Thinking Outside of the Box
Family History: Ideas for Collecting & Assembling
Writing About Family
Journal Writing: finding a beginning
Digging up Dirt: Writing and Researching Your Family

If you would like further assistance with your writing project, I would be happy to work with you. I currently work as a private writing coach with adults who are working on projects ranging from trade freelance articles to poetry to chapters for an upcoming novel.

If you haven’t worked with a writing coach before, here is how it works: the author emails me the text a few days before we talk on the phone, Skype, email or meet in person (depending on our respective locations.) I have reasonable rates and my goal is to help you reach your writing goal and perfect your own voice for the project.

If you have questions that you’d like me to address in my blog, please email me at chloemiller(@)gmail(dot)com. I also welcome guest bloggers, if you would like to share some of your expertise.

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My friend Hila Ratzabi is putting together an essay anthology by women in Jewish interfaith relationships. You might remember reading her piece recently on this subject that I blogged about.  She is the perfect editor for an anthology like this.

Following is her call for submissions. For more information, please, contact her directly. You can also read some of her work on her blog.

***

Call for Submissions: Essay Anthology by Women in Jewish Interfaith Relationships
I am a graduate of the MFA in Writing program at Sarah Lawrence College and am developing an essay anthology that will feature essays by women who are in (or have been in) an interfaith relationship or marriage, in which one of the partners is Jewish (the contributors may be the Jewish or non-Jewish partner). An amorphous body of this literature is floating around the internet, notably on the website interfaithfamily.com. Sociology books on the topic of Jewish intermarriage abound, as do practical guidebooks for marriage and parenting. But what is often missing from the existing literature are human stories. This collection of personal essays will focus specifically on women’s stories, about the joys and challenges of their relationships, their experiences with child-rearing, how they relate to their communities and families, how they create their own identities in the unique “liminal zone” of the interfaith relationship.
I am looking for, first and foremost, great, well-written, vivid personal stories. I welcome published and unpublished authors to submit their essays/stories. The length may be 1,000-2,000 words (but I am open to any reasonable length, shorter or longer). The tone/style should not be polemical or sentimental, just an honest and compelling non-fiction personal narrative. (You may want to take a look at the excellent anthology, Half/Life, edited by Laurel Snyder and published by Soft Skull Press, which features the stories of adults who were raised in Jewish interfaith homes.) 

Notes:
– I’m focusing only on Jewish interfaith relationships, because the phenomenon in the Jewish community takes on a very particular valence that distinguishes it from the phenomenon in other communities, even as there may be some overlap.

– There are many wonderful narratives told by men in interfaith relationships, but I believe it is important to highlight women in this particular anthology. An anthology of men’s essays would be a separate project.

– I invite queer women to submit—you may deserve your own anthology as well, but your interfaith experiences probably have much in common with those of heterosexual women.

– We often hear about Jewish-Christian interfaith relationships—I would love to hear from those in relationships where the non-Jewish partner is also non-Christian.

– For those of you who are poets and fiction writers, I’m looking only for non-fiction, and I love non-fiction written by poets and fiction writers.

– If you consider your relationship inter-something other than faith (culture, race), and one partner identifies as Jewish, I want to hear from you, too.

– I do not have a publisher yet, but I solemnly promise to get one. And I hope to pay contributors.

Please send submissions as a Word attachment (not .docx) to interfaithessay@gmail.com. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis through May 1st, 2010—earlier is better, though. Include your name, a short bio, and email address. Responses will be sent by September 1st, 2010. Thank you, and I look forward to reading your stories! 

Hila Ratzabi, Editor

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