Personal

An Introduction

Hello! I’m Talia, and this is my blog.

I’ve been blogging with WordPress since 2005, and this little blog is my latest re-invention. I’ll get into more of that later, but first let me do the normal instructions.

I’m married and have three kids. We live in Brisbane, QLD, Australia. A beautiful part of the world. We homeschool, and are lovers of the outdoors and nature. We recently made a big God-driven move to Brisbane to start attending an Orthodox Synagogue. Our experience so far has been really positive, and we’re grateful for the way this community has welcomed us, and for the things we are constantly learning about ourselves.

Some of you will be here because you’ve followed The Climbing Tree for many years, but when you get here you’ll notice that there’s (practically) no content left here! Perhaps you’re wondering why that is. Towards the end of 2016 and into the start of 2017 I had a case of burnout. I was unable to stay awake past 10am (but you know, there’s only so much napping with you can do with 3 kids under 4, so I would power on…) and my whole body felt heavy. My doctor did some surveys and tests and my stress and anxiety were off the chart (not ACTUALLY off the chart – just really high!), and so I took a break. Actually, I went a little crazy, and I deleted everything on this blog, and I deleted everything from my Facebook, and all sorts of things. That’s a bit of another conversation though.

Looking back now, almost a year since this first started, but probably 8 months since I actually acted on it, this was all part of the breaking away from the “old me” to embrace the new purpose and life Hashem has for me. A bit of a cocoon situation, you know? I’m sure I’ll talk about that more in future blog posts.

This blog isn’t necessarily a religious blog, but in all honestly, this is such a huge part of my life, that even when I try to just talk about homeschooling I end up talking about the parasha studies the kids are doing. Even just about art journaling seems to focus on spiritual matters. Not that I’m complaining!

I’m not here to teach you – even though I am, and always will be a teacher, my focus has to be on teaching my children as we homeschool, and learning about God through the lens of Judaism. This is my calling right now,  and perhaps one day I will be at a place to teach adults. For now I just want to share my life here on this blog and the things that I’m learning and doing. 🙂

Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Yom Kippur

High Holiday Activities for Kids

This is a list of activities I’m doing with my kids (1, 3, 5) for Elul and the High Holidays. This list starts on the 10th of Elul (totally not organised to start on the 1st!), and goes through to Simchat Torah. I live outside of Israel, so Rosh Hashanah has 2 days, and Sukkot has 8. ????

Feel free to play along with us! I’ll be sharing lots of pictures on my instagram – @taliacarbis


Elul 10: Draw a picture of the high holy days and what they mean to you.

Elul 11: Shabbat. To discuss – What have you done this year that makes you proud and that you think makes Hashem proud?

Elul 12: Journal prompts – “What have you done that you need to forgive yourself for?” “How can you extend more grace and mercy to yourself this month?”

Elul 13: Do an accordion fold Autumn leaf banner – https://au.pinterest.com/pin/227783693636526633/

Elul 14: Decorate the word Truth in bubble letters

Elul 15: Choose a new book for the High Holidays to order online.

Elul 16: Make a mobile to hang from the wall with symbols for Rosh Hashanah.

Elul 17: Catch up day.

Elul 18: Shabbat -Discuss what it means to repent, and what it means to forgive. Discuss how this practically works in your family.

Elul 19: Write a prayer of repentance to Hashem and

Elul 20: Rosh Hashanah stuffed papers : https://au.pinterest.com/pin/227783693630087301/

Elul 21: Practice writing Hebrew words related to Rosh Hashanah

Elul 22: Make Rosh Hashanah cards and mail to family and friends

Elul 23: apple pattern colouring ins – https://au.pinterest.com/pin/227783693630381070/

Elul 24: What are your goals for the next year? These might be personal goals, educational, spiritual… etc.

Elul 25: Shabbat – Catch up day (after sunset)

Elul 26:Make a round challah

Elul 27: Apple fritters

Elul 28: Plan a delicious Rosh Hashanah menu

Elul 29: Erev Rosh Hashanah – Bake a round challah

High Holiday activities for kids

Tishri 1: Rosh Hashanah – Dip apples in honey

Tishri 2: Rosh Hashanah – Catch up day

Tishri 3: Shabbat – Make up story about a family (just like ours) and what they did through the holidays. (Possibly theme – giving Tzedakah, being grateful, etc.)

Tishri 4: Using fabric paints, decorate a plain shirt for Sukkot or the High Holidays in general.

Tishri 5: Today Lior gets to choose a special dinner.

Tishri 6: Choose some photos from Rosh Hashanah and make a mini scrapbook out of them. (Part 1)

Tishri 7: Choose some photos from Rosh Hashanah and make a mini scrapbook out of them. (part 2)

Tishri 8: Colouring In

Tishri 9: Erev Yom Kippur – 10 Commandments game – talk about how Moses came back with the second set of tablets on Yom Kippur

Tishri 10: Yom Kippur + Shabbat – Think of something you can give up today while Mum and Dad fast.

Tishri 11: Start building the sukkah!

Tishri 12: Today Eli gets to choose a special dinner!

Tishri 13: make a dried orange decoration for the sukkah – https://au.pinterest.com/pin/227783693630413951/

Tishri 14: Erev Sukkot – Make edible sukkahs – https://au.pinterest.com/pin/227783693636526632/

Tishri 15: Sukkot Sabbath – Wear a special Sukkot t-shirt you have made.

Tishri 16: Sukkot – make sukkot cards to give to people when they visit.sd

Tishri 17: Sukkot + Sabbath – Read “Sammy Spider’s First Sukkot”

Tishri 18: Sukkot – Nature scavenger hunt – paint the items to be used as decoration

Tishri 19: Sukkot – Have friends over to play in the sukkah

Tishri 20: Sukkot – Today Daddy gets to choose a special dinner.

Tishri 21: Sukkot – Write out and decorate a special Sukkot prayer for 5778.

Tishri 22: Sukkot Sabbath –

Tishri 23:  Simchat Torah – Make torah scroll cookies

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah Menu 5778

I thought it would be a good idea to plan out my menu for Rosh Hashanah this year, as it’s only two weeks away! This is our first year celebrating Rosh Hashanah and having synagogue services to go to, so I’m not 100% sure how it will all fit together. As far as I can tell there aren’t any communal meals around Rosh Hashanah, but it certainly won’t hurt me to have all these meals planned, and just have them later in the week if we end up eating with someone else.

We have also put in a kosher meat order through our synagogue in time for the Chag, so I hope I’ve ordered the right things… And I hope it doesn’t cost a million dollars… we’ll see.

Rosh Hashanah also directly precedes Shabbat, so it’s 3 days in a row I have to have things ready for. So lots of cooking this week and next to stock up the freezer!

Day 1

Dinner: (starter) Potato & leek soup. (main) Salmon Tarator (this recipe), Roast veg salad, round challah

(Dessert) Upside down apple honey cake

Breakfast: Crepes (pre-made) with berries

Lunch: Hummus bowls with caramelised onions and spiced beef. Garlic bread challah (dairy free)

Day 2

Dinner: (starter) Non-dairy dips and veg sticks (main) Persian honey glazed chicken with jeweled rice, corn on the cob. Round sourdough challah.

Dessert – Baked apples stuffed with raisins. Vegan caramel sauce.

Breakfast: Regular breakfast

Lunch: Haloumi & beetroot salad.

Shabbat

Dinner: Sourdough challah, slow cooker roast beef (this recipe). Israeli cousous salad. Garden salad.

Breakfast: Regular breakfast

Lunch: Antipasti – cheeses, hummus, pickles, almonds, dried fruits, hot smoked salmon,  sun-dried tomato, olives etc. Sliced sourdough challah.

Recipes, Shabbat

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

A delicious salad that you can prepare the day before, or just before eating.

If making this for Motzei Shabbat you could cook the pasta and pumpkin on Friday, and keep them refrigerated, then assemble before eating. You can also prepare this whole dish on Friday and it will easily keep in the fridge until Saturday evening.

Ingredients:

1 fillet of hot smoked salmon
2 handfuls of uncooked pasta (I use gluten free)
Cubed pumpkin – roasted
1 handful of flat leaf parsley
½ red onion, diced
1 big handful of diced pumpkin
Cheddar cheese

Process:

1. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions.
2. Take your pumpkin and bake it in the oven with some olive oil until soft.
3. Cut up your onion finely. Chop up your parsley, and grate your cheese.
4. Time to assemble! Break up your smoked salmon into the bowl, along with all the other ingredients. Mix in the bowl. If there was some oil in your tray from the pumpkin make sure you add that so you get a nice “dressing” through the pasta salad.

Variations:

You could throw anything into this salad of course, but some variations I like include:

  • Fresh spinach or rocket in place of the parsley
  • Tinned tuna or tinned salmon in I don’t have any hot smoked salmon at home
  • Serve it warm if making it during the week, or eating it as soon as it’s prepared
  • Use sweet potato instead of pumpkin

Rosh Chodesh

Rosh Chodesh Iyar (Ziv)

Welcome, new month.

 

psalm 30v2

Iyar (Ziv)

It’s the second month of the Biblical year – Iyar, also known as Ziv. The theme this month is light, and lumination. I pray that during this month Hashem shines His light into your life, and shows you where to make your next improvement. Where there is light there is no darkness.

Each Hebrew month has a letter associated with it, and the letter for Iyar is a Vav. The Hebrew letter Vav is a connecting letter, and we see Iyar as a connecting month. Last month was Nissan, where we celebrated Passover, and now we count the Omer every day of Iyar, through to next month – Sivan, where we celebrate Shavuot.

Because we see Iyar as a connecting month, it is also often associated with connecting with Hashem, and we see this shown again as we make our way through the sefirat each day of the Counting of the Omer.

The sense for Iyar is “thought”, which isn’t surprising considering we are spending every day thinking and counting the Omer, and recalling which day we are up to, and how we can grow in the specified emotion.

If you’re not already counting the Omer, and working through each sefirat each day, I would encourage you to do so! It has been a real blessing to me so far, and it is wonderful to spend these 49 days improving your self and preparing for Shavuot – which celebrates the giving of the Torah. You can view all the sefirat and the journal prompts here.

Back to the letter Vav. Vav is the 6th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and has the numeric value of 6. 6 is the number of man, which I find is really on point, because we are doing so much prayer, self reflection and self improvement this month! It really is a month of focusing on who we are, and who we want to be – submitting ourself over and over again that we might be more like Hashem.

Another big theme this month is healing. Iyar is an acronym for “I Am God Your Healer”. So if you have anything wrong in your body, this is a great month to be praying earnestly for Hashem to heal you! Over and over again Hashem says that the Torah brings healing, so I see this as a perfect time to really dig deep into your Bibles and just bask in Him.

I won’t go into the topic of healing & Iyar too much here, as I’m still learning about it. But I wanted to mention it in case you are doing your own study! I’ve included a few of my favourite links below with more information on this month!

Live A Little Higher – Rosh Chdoesh Iyar

Iyar is a journey – a daily stepping to learn more about God, and to live more for him. And so I think it’s important to remember, that on any journey there are bumps, and parts that sometimes make you trip. If you see those times happen during this month do not be dismayed – soldier on, and keep your eyes on the prize. I temptations come, stand strong! If pains follow you, pray through them.

I pray that Iyar is a month of great healing and spiritual growth for you. xo

Journal Questions

The emotions we cover in the sefirat, as we count the Omer, are Chesed (loving kindness), Gevurah (discipline), Tiferet (compassion), Netzach (endurance), Hod (humility), Yesod (bonding), Malchut (nobility). How am I improving in these areas?
(see this link for more specific questions and exercises related to this)

Are there parts of my body that need healing? Are there parts of my mind that need healing? Pray about these now, and make a habit of praying for them daily during this month.

How can I share G-d’s love with other people this month?

Am I ready to receive the Torah personally? Am I preparing my heart for the next feast – Shavuot?

What do I plan to do this year for Shavuot? If you haven’t already, organise your time off work, and start preparing your menu.

Rosh Chodesh

Rosh Chodesh Nisan (Aviv)

exodus 12v2 - aviv nisan

Aviv (Nisan)

Aviv is the month of new beginnings. Exodus tells us that it is the beginning of the year. Like how we have different “new years” in our Gregorian calendar (financial new year, new year by year, school year, etc.), there are several new years in the Bible as well. My understanding is that here we start the spiritual new year, and the new year for the feasts calendar.

Aviv is a good opportunity to ponder our beginnings, specifically when we first started our relationship with Hashem. How did He bring you personally out of slavery and into freedom?

Because this is the start of the year, lets take some time to look at the coming year as a whole. Mark each feast or fast day in your calendar, and make a plan for how you intend to celebrate them. Ask for time off work if necessary, and even organise your budget so you have money saved to enjoy the feasts! Even consider the weekly Shabbats, and monthly Rosh Chodesh – how are you called to remember these times, and honour G-d?

This month we celebrate Passover, First Fruits and the Feast of Matzah. We are reminded over and over in this month of the story of the Hebrews leaving Egypt, and how G-d cared for them and faithfully lead them out of slavery and into Freedom. Even in slavery they praised G-d, and trusted Him.

Each month there are different Middot assigned to the month, and this month they are chesed (loving kindness), faithfulness, and loyalty. How can you work on these characteristics?
What does it look like (practically) for you to show loving kindness?
What does it look like (practically) for you to show faithfulness?
What does it look like (practically) for you to show loyalty?

How has G-d shows his chesed (loving kindness), faithfulness, and loyalty to you? What area of your life need a new beginning? Pray for renewal in these areas.

children felt passer seder plate

Clearing the Chametz

During, and in the lead up to Passover Chametz (leaven) represents sin. As we clean out our homes of all the chametz lets pray about what chametz is in our life that G-d wants us to pay attention to and clean out.Do we have any chametz in our relationships that we need to work through?
Do we have any chametz in the form of things we need to submit to G-d? Things we aren’t trusting him to look after (worrying about), or things we want to control.
Do we have any chametz in the form of our mental state, including our emotions? Things we need to repent of and move forward from?

Exodus 12:23 says Adonai himself will pass over your door to be with you and not allow the slaughterer to enter your home and kill you. How does it feel to know that Adonai is with you – in your house, fighting for you, and protecting you? 
Considering using this as a drawing or art journal prompt as you ponder this.

Recipes, Tu B'Shevat

Haloumi, Fig & Olive salad for Tu B’Shevat

Tu B’Shevat is coming up very quickly, and I’ve been thinking of a few yummy things we can make using the 7 species.  This salad is the perfect side to your Tu B’Shevat lunch, or to be honest, any time when you feel like eating something delicious!

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 fig
  • 2 slices haloumi
  • cos lettuce leaves
  • ¼ onion, sliced and caramalised
  • 4 large olives
  • 1 small tomato
  • ¼ lebanese cucumber
  • Pomegranate molasses
  • Olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Like any salad, this is dead easy to make. Fry off your haloumi till it’s nice and golden. Dice up your fig, olives, tomato, cucumber, and the cooked haloumi.
  2. Tear apart your lettuce leaves. You could definitely use any greens here, and as much or as little as you want. Add your other ingredients to the top. Salt & Pepper it.
  3. You could make a simple vinaigrette for this, but I found it was delicious with a tiny splash or olive oil, and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses!
 Notes:

This is a single serve of salad – perfect for lunch. Multiply however you see fit to serve more.

Rosh Chodesh

Rosh Chodesh Tevet

I love learning about the Jewish months.

Chodesh Tov - sunset with moon sliver

Shalom! Welcome to a new month – Tevet, and a new collection of research!

Tevet is strong but humble month. The big themes for Tevet are self-reflection, judging, and two sides. For this article we’re going to focus on self-reflection, as it ties in nicely with the secular new year in a few days time.

As I go through the month of Tevet I’ll be asking myself some questions about my life, and who I am. Questions like:
“Are there areas of my life that I’ve been compromising on, that need to be brought back into line with G-d?”
“Are there areas of my life that are less than “good” that need to be submitted to Hashem?”
“Are there things I’m doing that hinder my relationships – either with Hashem or with my family or friends?”
“What impact am I making in the world for Hashem – where is my light shining, and is this still where I’m meant to be?”

I personally find parenting to be one of the areas that I need great wisdom in. And so I will be praying even more this month than usual for wisdom in that area. Wisdom comes more easily when we’ve submitted our lives, and have everything in Hashem’s hands. And that only comes through personal dedication and prayer, and our action. My experience has been that we can’t just pray “Oh G-d, please give me wisdom!” and expect Him to give it to us if we haven’t made any room in our lives for such wisdom. When we look critically at ourselves, and make direct efforts to lessen the “noise”, we often find it is so much easier to receive that wisdom from Hashem, and find His shalom.

And the lesson to be learnt here (the lesson I need to learn over and over again), is that this often requires my effort. It first requires me to stop and ask myself what I need to give up, or move or DO. Submitting an area of our life to Hashem doesn’t just involve making a verbal commitment (though we should definitely do that), but it also means making a physical commitment.

If my particular struggle is with parenting one of my children, then my verbal commitment is asking Hashem for His wisdom and help, and the physical commitment is going and reading some articles, spending time with my child and talking to him, to try and understand him better.

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: What do we need to submit to Hashem, and what physical action can we take to contribute to that? Do we need to submit our words about ourselves, our words about others, our actions online, our actions in private, our distractions (phones, social media), our marriage etc.

My prayer for you is that Tevet is a month of great self-reflection, and submission to G-d, and that He blesses you abundantly for your commitment to Him, and your desire to become less as He becomes more.

Important days:

In Tevet we finish the last few nights of Chanukah – a great opportunity to look at the hanukkiah all lit up with so many candles and not only reflect on Hashem’s light spilling into the world, but also into our own lives – casting light so darkness can not live. What areas of your life is the light revealing in the last few nights of Chanukah?

Tevet 10 is a day of fasting, mourning and repentance as it remembers when Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, which resulted in the destruction of the temple. If you’re choosing to fast this day it is just from day break to night fall (instead of night fall to night fall). The secular date is Jan 8th 2017.

Psalm 37:3-7

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

 

– Rosh Chodesh –
The Rosh Chodesh is not often celebrated these days, but I’m not letting that stop me! Traditionally the Rosh Chodesh is particularly important to women, as they are often in tune with the moon, and considered a “Women’s day”. Some women like to take time off from some of their regular household duties and spend time reading the Torah. Perhaps you’d like to meditate on the Psalm I’ve posted above. xo

Rosh Chodesh

Rosh Chodesh Kislev

I love learning about the Jewish months. Rosh Chodesh means “New Moon” or “New Month”. Chodesh Tov means “Good month” – it is a greeting given on the Rosh Chodesh.

Chodesh Tov - sunset with moon sliver

Rosh Chodesh Kislev.

Shalom and Chodesh Tov to you! Here we are at the start of a new Hebrew month – Kislev.

At I sit down to write this blog post to you all I have been reflecting on the last two months since the Jewish new year started. For me, these two months have seen lots of changes and things I didn’t see coming! I have learnt so much in these few months, and intend to keep learning. I always find it so exciting (as well as a bit uncomfortable) when I find Hashem is changing my focus. It really is like someone grabbing you by the shoulders and changing which way you’re facing. You want to be open to the change, but at the same times it’s all a bit stiff and jolty and uncomfortable! But once you’re headed in the right direction again it’s all worth it.

Let us talk about Kislev. The 9th month of the Hebrew calendar. One of the themes of Kislev is that of darkness and light. In Israel Kislev is in the Winter. The days are as short as they will ever be in the year, and therefore the darkest. BUT we have a light as well – on the 25th of Kislev is the start of Hanukkah. Hanukkah sees us lighting candles and bring light into the dark night! When we light an additional candle each night for 8 nights, and slowly bring more and more light into the month, we can think about the light we are called to be, and how we are sharing Hashem’s light into the darkness of the world.

As we look forward towards Kislev, lets think about what light we are bringing into our world, and how we are representing our Hashem.

Psalm 1

1 How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand in the pathway with sinners,
or sit in the assembly of scoffers!
2 Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands;
he meditates on his commands day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by flowing streams;
it yields its fruit at the proper time,
and its leaves never fall off.
He succeeds in everything he attempts.
4 Not so with the wicked!
Instead they are like wind-driven chaff.
5 For this reason the wicked cannot withstand judgment,
nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly.
6 Certainly the Lord guards the way of the godly,
but the way of the wicked ends in destruction.

– Rosh Chodesh –

The Rosh Chodesh is not often celebrated these days, but I’m not letting that stop me! Traditionally the Rosh Chodesh is particularly important to women, as they are often in tune with the moon, and considered a “Women’s day”. Some women like to take time off from some of their regular household duties and spend time reading the Torah. Perhaps you’d like to meditate on the Psalm I’ve posted above. xo

Feasts, Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah 2016

For Rosh Hashanah this year we climbed a local “mountain” (by name only – it was fairly easy!), to watch the sun set, blow the shofar, and welcome in the new day, and new year! There is something so wonderful about starting the year with the right intentions – our were to keep things simple, put Hashem first, and enjoy the best company possible – family!

After our exploration up the mounting we came home for a scrumptious dinner (another important part of starting the year with the best intentions!!). Seriously. So delicious.

The whole evening was awesome, and for me felt perfectly “right” for us right now.

Anyway, I wanted to share these photos with you of our celebrations.