Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Search Function

Any fellow bloggers out there know how on earth you make your search function USEFUL? When I do a search for something I know is there, it finds nothing. Took forever to find the oatmeal bread recipe after losing the paper I had on the refrigerator. JY - I searched yours for Wordless postings and found LOTS. :) My privacy settings are set so that the blog can not be indexed by search engines. Does that make a difference? One search widget I tried adding said I should make it public (yeah, right) for better results. Just hoping someone out there can help me! :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yom Kippur

Just wanted to wish everyone tzom kal - an easy fast. I was doing some Yom Kippur reading yesterday and today and I really found myself longing to be in shul this year. I know I am serving Hashem at the highest level by taking care of my children, but next year I really hope we are in a different house mere blocks away from a shul. The YK service is the spiritual high point of the year, and indeed is the holiest day of the year, with the most beautiful and moving davening of any of the chagim. It has been five years since I have been in shul on that day, and it is the only one of the chagim that I truly yearn to be there davening. So, please Hashem, may DH find a new job soon, may we move to a house in a much better location (with an eruv even!) and may we all go to shul for YK!


For any fellow Spanish-ophiles who might be out there... I just learned that the verb "morir" is used when someone dies unexpectedly, and the verb "morirse" is used when someone's death is expected. Thirty years of being a Spanish-ophile and I just now learned this. Love it! :)

What a Week!

Between going back onto our learning schedule, all the holidays, and starting to teach my one family of piano students it's been quite busy! Blogging has been on the back burner, I'm afraid.

Rosh Hashanah was pretty nice. Lots of yummy food on Friday and Saturday. Sunday morning we all walked to shul together (2.2. miles). Avi in the backpack, and the rest on foot. They did great! Not a moment of complaint, and we made one brief stop to use a restroom. We made it in a record one hour and five minutes, mostly because we didn't have to go the long way around, which is more stroller-friendly. Had a nice time at shul hearing the shofar and visiting with friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in quite a while! Afterward, we had a lovely lunch at the home of some friends and stayed until the end of yom tov. The kids all had a great time playing, and it was a lovely day. Dean walked home in the afternoon and came to retrieve us in the evening. Very nice.

Amirah had such a great day at shul, that she went to evening minyan with papa during the week, and then walked to shul again this morning. Too tired to walk back though, so she went home with friends who live much closer (thanks, BAF! Again!). We also got to go swimming again during the week, thanks to Doda Shin. :) I started teaching my one family of piano students - 3 brothers, lovely kids. It was nice to see them again. Their mom was Amirah's first pediatrician (but sadly, because of insurance changes, not her current one!).

We've had a couple of weeks of our great gluten-free experiment, and we think (unfortunately, or fortunately!) that it may become a success, but it's still a little too early to tell. I've got to get off to Bob's Red Mill and get a larger stash of gluten-free flours. And I've really got to find a gluten-free challah recipe that's not AWFUL. Poor DH. One of the culinary highlights of his whole week is his weekly challah. :(

I know there was a lot more happening this week, but those are the things that come to mind. Tzom kal to all who begin fasting tomorrow night! DH will be sleeping down the hill, obviating the need for a long morning walk. Not a good way to start YK day!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Menu

challah (plain and raisin)
roast chicken
baked potatoes with tofu sour cream, and all the other fixings
carrot soufflé
sweet and sour coleslaw
spinach salad
green beans in garlic sauce
cauliflower fritters
honey cake
roasted pears

and for lunch....

shabbos-worthy hamburgers... really!

Good shabbos and g'mar chasima tova! And an easy and meaningful fast for all those fasting on Yom Kippur this Monday.

Weekday Menus

Only had three dinners at home this week! So short (and CHEAP) list of menus.

pureed mixed beans/lentils/peas
(4 cups of beans + tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil + water to cover; let it simmer on low for 9 hours)
blini (buckwheat pancakes) - these were a HUGE hit with the kids; I think Eli ate 8 of them!

baked tofu strips (I thought they were very so-so, but everyone else actually ate them up)
(made a cornstarch/soy sauce/balsamic vinegar sauce to dip them in then coated them in 1/2 panko crumbs and 1/2 matzo meal; others (the gluten-free ones) had a peanut butter coconut sauce on them)
brown rice
peanut sauce

oatmeal and English muffins

Friday, September 18, 2009

Great Science DVD

We all highly recommend Insectia, narrated by George Brossard. He's the French version of David Attenborough. Or maybe David Attenborough is the British version of George Brossard. Either way, their accents are equally yummy, the science is equally good, and the filming is equally phenomenal. We just watched an episode about termites - WOW!

Shana tova! 5770 is less than 4 hours away, and I'm actually very nearly done cooking, the house is very nearly clean, and the kids are very near to getting baths and shampoos. Sunday we'll all trek into shul to hear the shofar. (But I'm afraid I won't get to steam-cleaning the rugs and curtains, RH - that was amazing!) :)

The Great Gluten-Free Experiment

We've been experimenting with a gluten-free diet to see if there's a possibility that DH has a wheat allergy. It's been a pretty good week for cooking! I've been using 50% tapioca flour and 50% rice flour to replace regular flour. If I'm making a batch of biscuits or bread, I add one teaspoon xantham gum to give it more elasticity. So far, our experiments have been really delicious, including some gluten-free crepes tonight. The texture was definitely different, but I enjoyed the taste just as much as our regular ones. If we had to be on a gluten-free diet permanently, it really wouldn't be a big deal at all. I could still make the kids their bread, bagels, and pasta for lunches and snacks. I really think it wouldn't be that big a deal.

Otherwise, not much happening right now. I took the girls to get haircuts this afternoon so they look all fixed up for yom tov. Everyone got new shoes too; the boys each got two pairs. I got all six pairs for $65! Love Payless Shoesource... Did a couple of other errands with everyone then went to pick up papa at work. Came home for the evening, and after dinner we read a few chapters of book 6 in the Legends of Ga'Hoole series (which we are still absolutely devouring... love it!). Now I've stayed up way too late cooking, but I got most of the big stuff done. Tomorrow is challahs and cooking the meats. Should be fine. We're planning on going to shul on Sunday for shofar blowing, then to a friend's for lunch (hi, friend!). Should be nice. Shanah tovah!

The Menus

Shana tovah! Wishing you all a sweet new year...

Here's what's cooking:

apples and honey (of course!)
challah w/raisins
gluten-free challah without raisins
gefilte fish
sweet potato Italian plum tsimmes
sauteed cabbage
green salad
brisket (dinner)
meatballs and brown rice (lunch)
chicken tagine and brown rice (dinner #2)
roasted beets
Italian plum tart
honey cake

That should do!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


When Raizel turns 6, she's going to get married and have 10 kids. Boys and girls. She and her husband will sit in their barn and play with toys all day. And Amirah is writing a book about a cat and a fish. The cat invited the fish to dinner and the fish thought that that was, er, not a good idea. The plot continues... She would like to sell the book for $5. And Avi is not going to get married, not going to have a house, not going to have children and not going to work. Can you tell his favorite word is a loud, authoritative "NO!"? Eli had nothing to say on any of these matters. He uses his words sparingly, and will probably outlive everyone, because when we are born Hashem grants us a certain number of words and when we've used them all up, it's time to go. I think he's gearing up for 120. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beautiful Snoods and Scarves!

I just ordered three pre-tied scarves from The Millinery Shop and they arrived today (in record time!). The scarves are absolutely beautiful, have a very comfortable elastic band so it's not too tight on my XL head. I think they would work just as well with smaller heads. :) The fabrics are gorgeous, and great for the chagim. The prices were very reasonable - the pre-tieds cost $12–14 each. And the customer service was absolutely top notch. I just ordered them on Friday, so they came very quickly. I didn't think I'd have them for Rosh Hashanah, but I do! Anyway, for any of you others looking for this kind of thing, I can't recommend them highly enough. :)

Weekday Menus

Sunday: crepes, eggs
Monday: curried lentils/millet/brown rice with salad
Tuesday: pasta (regular for us and rice noodles for papa) with tvp marinara sauce and sauteed spinach

We're going gluten-free for a couple of weeks to see if that helps one or more members of the family...

Tired, Tired

I've had a hard time keeping my eyeballs open these past couple of nights. It's off to bed with me very soon.

It's been a pretty busy week. DH was in Ashland for Grandpa Neil's funeral. All is well as one could hope, so that is good. Monday morning we got a lovely visit from Doda S, and even though it had been a while since we'd seen her it felt like it was just a day. We got some learning done before her visit, and some after lunch. This afternoon we picked plums with the H family. Very fun! Tomorrow, we're all going swimming at a friend's pool and Amirah has Read to the Dogs in the evening, and Thursday and Friday is the rush to prepare for Rosh Hashanah. Can you say nap? :)

Today we got into our regular schedule and all our learning went really well... Learning words like officer, face, people, city, heart. This kind of memorization comes really naturally to Amirah so she finds this very easy. We've added many more prefixes too, so she's starting to really get some good phrases down (i.e. like the sun, when the officer, in the city, and that the heart, etc.). Hebrew reading/phonics is moving along too. Not too much longer and we'll have finished the book that we're using and be going on to the next one. She's learning more letters in script - dalet and pei/fei today. She would gladly do script all day long if we could! We've also been talking a lot about Rosh Hashanah, making our own machzorim (holiday prayer books), singing holiday songs, davening, conducting our shofar orchestra, learning the laws of the holiday.

In chol we did our spelling (her list is: six, box, top, book, mix, and pop). We did little crossword puzzles, rhyming games, etc. In grammar we're learning the names of all the months and how many days they have (using the Mother Goose rhyme to help us!). We should be memorizing our Hebrew months too, and good timing with a new year beginning (even if the new year technically begins with the 7th month...). In composition we've been reading excerpts from various stories and answering comprehension questions about them, then copying a sentence or two from the excerpt. Part of getting the mechanics and sounds of good writing into her bones so she really just knows what good writing should sound like. She also has to do all of her answers in complete sentences. This took some nudging at first, but now it's a habit. After the two-week break we took, her printing looked slightly more askew. It was interesting to note the difference. I'm sure after a couple more days it will be back up to usual! :) For reading, we just finished reviewing the silent "e" at the ends of words that causes the vowels before it to be long. She's got that down pretty well.

Math has been really interesting. We've been doing addition and subtraction with numbers up to 20. Singapore Math really gives the students the tools to be able to perform mental math quickly and accurately. For example... for a problem like 18 - 7 = __, you first "make" the number 18 with tens and ones (we've been using teddy bear counters), so a group of 10 and a group of 8. You subtract the 7 from the group of 10, leaving 3. You add that to the other 1s that are still remaining to get an answer of 11. You'd think it would be more logical to subtract the ones from each other (i.e. 8 - 7), but then you realize that doesn't work with problems like 12 - 7. She is getting the calculations done pretty fast in her head and her math facts are pretty well memorized between 1 and 10 (i.e. 2 + 8 = 10, etc., etc.). I really love Singapore Math. I think it really lays an excellent foundation for being very flexible and adept with calculations. It's a very satisfying approach.

In history we just read about Thutmose I (who conquered land from Nubia (Ethiopia) all the way up to Canaan and over to the Babylonian border), his daughter the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, Amenhotep (who abolished polytheism and sought to establish monotheism in Egypt!) and King Tutankhamen (who subsequently abolished monotheism). It was all very interesting. I had no idea that there was a pharaoh who shut down all the temples and declared monotheism the law of the land. And this not long before the Jews arrive in Egypt. So interesting!!

Time to nod off. Past time, actually. I've got to get this go to bed thing down a little better. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quote of the Week (again)

Amirah: Can we go outside and draw on the deck?
Mama: Sure! (thinking it's nice to be outside and drawing)

30 minutes later, the deck is covered in lots of lovely pen drawings. Oops. Semantic misunderstanding.

Quote of the Week

Raizel (after watching New in Town): My favorite part was when the little lady went outside and said, "Oooooooo it's cold" and he went back inside for warm.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

Raizel: Mama, are they going to bury Grandpa Neil at the playground?

This Last Week

It's been quite a week. I can only give the Reader's Digest version, or I'll be here typing all night. So here it is in backwards chronological order.

First, baruch dayan ha'emet. The end of shabbat brought the news that my husband's stepfather passed away this afternoon, at the age of 81, peacefully of a heart attack in the arms of his wife, surrounded by his beloved dogs. The funeral will be on Monday morning, and Dean will be going down tomorrow afternoon. May his mother be comforted among all the mourners of Tzion.

Second, baruch hashem no one was hurt, but the canvas rooftop carrier we use on the car either broke or became loose and flew off while we were on the freeway. B"H it flew off towards the center divider and didn't fly over it, and B"H it didn't fly off the other direction. Within an hour we had ODOT going out to search for the carrier for us, but to no avail. We went to the State Police office and they had not retrieved it either. So, back we went to the freeway to see for ourselves. It was gone. But several of the contents were strewn along the opposite side of the freeway. First my two pillows, then papa's, then Amirah's beloved pink-striped pillow (which brought many tears). A little later, Dean's sleeping bag (took them a while to reject that one!). They must have kept the rest of the STOLEN property. A long delay that led to us not getting home until 6:00 (and shabbat started at 7:15!!). But the important thing - no one was hurt. It will cost $400 to replace all that we lost, but that's small potatoes. I am curious to check out Craigslist in Springfield, and I think I'll go ahead and file a stolen property report. Can't hurt... But probably won't help either. OY!

And last, the camping trip itself was lovely. The tent was very spacious for us and our things. The weather was beautiful. Amirah tried fishing (no fish). We visited the little lake at our campground every afternoon and went out on various adventures each morning. It was really a lovely little week there.

Lots to do now, but that's our quick update. Wishing ima much love and comfort. Good night!

Monday, September 7, 2009

We're Off!

This family is headed out for a much-needed vacation in the early morning tomorrow. We are all so much looking forward to this one, especially since for a while we weren't sure we'd be going at all, due to uncertainties at DH's work. B"H that has resolved, and we will squeak in this trip before his academic schedule goes crazy.

It's been a pretty good week. Visits with grandma and grandpa sprinkled through the last couple of weeks, processing the last of the summer fruits and pickles, making plum liqueur for channukah, taking a two-week learning time vacation (and what did the kids do this morning? design their own learning time!), doing a little bit more decluttering (we're truly almost getting down to having not a single item of clutter), playing games with the kids, LOTS of drawing time, anticipating the upcoming holidays and the new year, preparing food for our trip so while we're on it I really have a cooking vacation and meals can magically appear in just a few minutes, reading from the Legends of Ga'Hoole series, baking with the kids (they love this!)...

Everyone is very excited to be going camping tomorrow. Our first time with everyone in a tent, so they're especially excited. The last few years we've just done yurts.

After we get back we're planning to get ready for the holidays, go apple picking, get back to our learning time, and finish the cooking for Rosh Hashanah. I'm really looking forward to the fall holidays. It's a sweet time of year. We'll have a couple of people for first night of RH, then have a big crowd (and growing bigger!) for lunch. Second day, we'll all trudge down the hill and go to shul, then to friends for lunch. Should be a lovely weekend! And for sukkot we have a little work to do. We really didn't think we'd be here for another sukkot, so we used the lattice from our former sukkah on the bottom half of the deck when we fixed the house up. :) We'll be putting together a new structure this year! There was a great sale on tarps at Bimart last week, so hopefully those will work and we'll figure out the rest. OY.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Menu

B"H, it's shabbos!!! Here's the menu...

oven-fried chicken
roast cauliflower
red cabbage with apples and onions
carrot turnip soufflé
steamed corn
mashed potatoes

and for lunch...

zucchini quiche
tofu macaroni and cheese
tomato mozzarella sandwiches

So looking forward to shabbos. It's been a whirlwhind couple of weeks between waiting with bated breath to hear news about Dean's employment, having grandma and grandpa here, and getting all the food and equipment together for our upcoming camping trip. A bit tired, and looking forward to those shabbos naps! And *really* looking forward to getting away for a few days and just playing before coming home and focusing in on kodesh studies (and cooking!) to prepare for all the upcoming holidays. Can't believe they're rapidly approaching!

Love to all, and good shabbos!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Weekday Menus

salmon, roasted zucchini, chick pea millet salad, arugula salad with marinated goat cheese

hamburgers and french fries (neither frugal nor healthy, but after the week-long wait to find out about our continued income, it was worth it!!)