Friday, December 30, 2011

The Menu

Ah, shabbos. Early to bed tonight! Snore... :)

For dinner:

beef roast in homemade bbq sauce
roasted balsamic sweet potatoes
roasted potatoes
mixed roasted vegetables
arugula pesto pasta (the garden currently has a nice arugula patch)
roasted beets
peach cake

And for lunch:

liver puff pastry rolls (I called them liver puffs, but no one but me seemed to think that sounded delicious; I LOVE liver in any form...)
pastrami deli meat
spinach/mandarin/almond salad
arugula pesto pasta
apple coleslaw
beanless cholent (AKA not-cholent; we usually have beans a few times a week, so I just can't eat them on shabbos too)
homemade kishke
peach cake

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Paper Bag Floors

A few days ago I was racking my brain about what to do about our kitchen. The paint on the cupboards started peeling a few weeks after we moved in. The former owners had just slapped down latex over oil without preparing the surface. In addition, the floors in the kitchen and dining room are bleah. On a lark, I entered "alternative flooring" in a search engine. After looking at a few other things, I stumbled on paper bag flooring and fell in love. It's beautiful!

This afternoon I set to work to make a couple of samples. I took a paper bag, tore it into pieces and glued it to a scrap board with a 50/50 mixture of Elmer's glue and water. After it dried, I painted it with a pecan stain polyurethane. I only did one coat for this. If I actually do the floor, I would use three. I meant to paint half the board with a clear polyurethane and half with the tinted one, but I forgot. It's a little darker than I want, but I sure love the idea. Here are some pictures:

And here's a sample I mocked up using light green stationary. It's a good bit lighter and greener on the original!

Doesn't it look wonderful???

We also learned tonight that the paint on our cupboards does NOT contain lead. Phew! Now I can have fun with that too. I'd like to use paint stripper outside on all the cabinet doors, then either sand and paint the interiors, or sand and decoupage (like above) them. I'm thinking of maybe a light gray paper floor (I know, sounds crazy!), light pink cabinet interiors, pewter gray counter paint on the counters, and bright white everywhere else (walls and cupboards). Or??? I'm sure I'll rethink it quite a few times, but I am having so much fun pondering the possibilities... I think the paper bag effect is nothing short of amazing.

Meanwhile, we're making oodles of plans for the garden. Hundreds of starts to plant in a couple of weeks, hopefully under a plastic rowcover on top of a layer of black plastic. Right now I'm facing a dizzying job of trying to estimate how much of a particular vegetable we'll want (for fresh eating? frozen? can it be canned?), researching what a typical yield per row foot is, and figuring out how much we have to order or, if we already have the seeds, if it is enough. OY! At the same time, I'm making a plan to group our crops and map out a sensible crop rotation so diseases and pests don't develop. It's a little overwhelming to plan it all out. But how fun! 1,000+ square feet of veggies. That's triple what we did last year. Like an e-ride at Disneyland, if anyone remembers those tickets. :)

Back to planning and plotting...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Weekday Menus

Sunday: OUT!
Monday: fish cakes, salad, baked potatoes
Tuesday: shabbos leftovers (salad, rice w/pareve sour cream, cabbage rolls)
Wednesday: hamburgers and taco salad
Thursday: pancakes and omelets

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Menu

Ahhhh, shabbos again. B"H!

For dinner:

cabbage rolls w/homemade bbq sauce
baked chicken (for the non-cabbage roll eaters)
mashed potatoes
green salad
roasted cauliflower
roasted carrots
a dessert assortment

And for lunch:

Mexican-flavored beef cholent
meat tacos w/pareve sour cream, veggies, etc.
lime cilantro coleslaw
guacamole, salsa, chipa
green salad
a dessert assortment

Good shabbos, all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Music Joke

I enjoyed this one! :)

C, E-flat and G go into a bar. The bartender says, "sorry, but we don't serve minors." So E-flat leaves, and C and G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished and G is out flat. F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough. D comes in and heads for the bathroom saying, "Excuse me. I'll just be a second." Then A comes in, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and says, "Get out! You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight." E-Flat comes back the next night in a three-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender says, "you're looking sharp tonight. Come on in, this could be a major development. " Sure enough, E-flat soon takes off his suit and everything else, and is au natural. Eventually C sobers up and realizes in horror that he's under a rest. C is brought to trial, found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of D.S. without Coda at an upscale correction facility.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Library Experience

I have been experiencing some frustration with our local library. Some of the issues have been:

• a lack of many of the books (mostly historical fiction) that I would love access to for our homeschooling

• the fact that they hold books you reserve for only 5 days (which means if you go to the library once a week, you need to make a special trip to get your holds before they disappear)

• my account being frozen more than once for reasons that made no sense, cutting off my ability to reserve books

• the $2 they charge for sending out a late notice

• the limit of 2 renewals per book, instead of just continuing to renew it for as long as you need it (assuming no one else needs it); you can bring it in to show the librarian and then renew it again, but sometimes I just want to renew it again (and again) until it gets un-misplaced (doo-dee-doo)

• the prize drawing for the Winter Reading Program was for a gift certificate to a video game store (WHAT?!?!!??!!!!)

In the e-mail I sent requesting to have my account unlocked a few weeks ago I mentioned a couple of these things that were making the library (one of my favorite destinations normally!) a less friendly place to visit. My account got fixed right away (they are terrific at responding to e-mail requests), and they said they would forward my comments to the branch manager.

Yesterday evening, I popped in for a few minutes just to pick up some holds. The man at the checkout desk had a badge that identified him as the associate branch manager. I handed him the holds, along with an audio book that we had checked out that was missing one of the fourteen cds. He took the audiobook and apologized that the missing cd had not been noticed before we brought it home. Then (before I handed him our library card) he mentioned that he recognized my name and knew I had had a few issues recently and hoped that everything was working better now. (WOW!) I took the opportunity to mention the 5-day holds would sure be a lot more convenient if they were 7-day holds.

He said that they had recently changed their policy at that branch, and that they would now hold books for 7 days, even though the official library policy was five days. He said that's why he had recognized my name, because it was one of the comments discussed at the meeting and used to MAKE A CHANGE. I nearly fainted. To hear an institution actually took a patron's comments and right away made a concrete improvement based on those comments (and probably other similar comments!) just thrilled me. And that's what I do find about living in a small town over and over again. People really do look out for each other here. I expect those kinds of relationships in my own Jewish community, but when you can also find it in the community at large it's a very special thing.

So, for the 1,000th time, I am so very glad we moved to Savannah. I think it suits us very well! And I have many more warm feelings towards the library now.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekday Menus

We've been out for channukah many nights, but here's what we ate last week!

Sunday: black bean veggie burgers and french fries (basically, felafel recipe w/black beans instead of chick peas)

Monday: leftover beef roast from shabbos and roasted veggies

Tuesday: OUT!

Wednesday: OUT!

Thursday: taco bar, latke bar, lemon cake, chocolate trifle (and Happy Birthday to AL!)

Tired Muscles

We had quite a full day of hard(ish) labor!

DH worked hard to tweak and almost finish the chicken coop. We bought the "condo" a few months ago. D added the hardware cloth to the back, and re-purposed fencing for the side, and for a while we let them out and just blocked off the other side so they could hang out under the condo. Today we took fence panels that we already had and lay them from the roof of the condo to a support beam on the fence. Then lots of tweaking (to make the rain roll the right way), and the large side panel went in. All that's needed is to add the gate! The chickens love to hang out under the condo. You can just make out their shapes through the hardware cloth.

While DH was tweaking the chicken coop, I was working on our beds and paths. Our entire yard was covered in 5-12 inches of chipped wood from the trees we took down several months ago. B"H it killed most of the grass, except in one corner of the yard where the layer was thinner than elsewhere. I dug out a main 4-foot path, and several 2-foot paths. It's not all that visible in the picture. It's much clearer in person! The middle circle on the right is where BE"H the fish pool will go. There's a 4-foot path around that circle for full access. Then lots of rectangular beds. I piled the composting wood chips from the paths onto the beds. Some of the beds are built up a good 15 inches. Next we're going to keep it well-watered and add great quantities of nitrogen to help break down the wood chips. If all goes well, we should have plantable soil by February. We also would like to get a fresh delivery of (free!) wood chips to fill in the paths so if all goes well we can repeat the process next year. The price sure is right! The city recycling center has free compost, but we would have to hire a dump truck to get the quantity we needed. We have a very miniscule budget for this, and the idea was given to us by Dave, our local county extension advisor. With so much mulch, the nice thing is that even when it pours we don't get muddy areas.

We had such a great day today. It is very satisfying to work hard like this all day and then sit back and feel like you've really accomplished something tangible. And D. and I are both so enthusiastic that it is a big pleasure to share the time together. The kids had a great time too! Eli's becoming very handy with an ax. Amirah loves to snuggle with the chickens. Avi likes to walk around banging the ground with sticks. And Raizel loves to keep everyone organized and on task. :)

On a completely different subject......... this is my sweet little talmid.

He loves, loves, loves this Hebrew book. Can you see how utterly plain it is? He loves it, and his reading is getting much faster and I am so much looking forward to reading chumash with him, especially now that he has a more experienced chumash teacher! Poor Amirah, my guinea pig. :)

And now to bed, to, please Hashem, wake up with renewed muscles and a good Monday. The last few Mondays have been much too whiny/grumpy so I'm really hoping we can get this one off to a good start! We're not really taking much time off now - maybe a day or two - since we had our nice two-week vacation in November. So... onward!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Menu

Shabbos, almost! B"H!

For dinner:

persimmon spread
tilapia (from our guests!)
beef roast with cranberry sauce
roasted butternut squash
pumpkin kugel
spinach salad with macerated kumquats
roasted beets and carrots (pretty!)
roasted garlic potatoes
apple crisp
persimmon sorbet

For lunch:

persimmon spread
cholent (from our guests!)
pumpkin kugel
cole slaw
spinach salad w/mandarin oranges and almonds
beet/carrot salad
apple crisp
persimmon sorbet

Good shabbos!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Weekday Menus

Here's what we've eaten this week. Haven't posted that in a while!

eggplant/onion/tomato/feta pizza and a plain cheese pizza
(for savta and kids; we went to the shul fundraiser)

stir-fried beef and broccoli (a lot more broccoli than beef!)
chicken noodle soup

eggplant parmesan
cheese lasagna
spinach salad w/macerated kumquats* and almonds/onion/feta
rosemary onion rolls

crockpot chicken and rice w/preserved lemons

breakfast night! (eggs and pancakes)

*I love kumquats, and am so excited thinking about planting a kumquat tree in the front yard! I slice the kumquats thinly and let them soak in a combination of rice vinegar and sugar. After a few hours, they can be used in salads. I also put some cream cheese on a cracker and topped it off with a few slices of kumquat. WOW! Delicious. They're pretty expensive - $4 for (I think) 12 ounces but it only takes about 3 ounces to have a nice effect on a salad.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Usually, I'll bring out a new activity and know right away who will glom onto it. Sometimes I get a surprise! A few days ago, I took out a loom that I had never taken out for the kids before, and guess who was immediately interested and has been working on it diligently ever since? ELI!

He is fascinated with how the strings connect together, with weaving terminology, with the colors and textures of the yarns, with thinking about how this could be his new pillow. Here's what he said yesterday about it all: "Mama, when you first showed me it, I thought it would be so, so boring, but it's NOT, not at all, not one bit. I love it!!!!" I'm glad he's enjoying it. And if he ever pauses long enough to let someone else weave, maybe the others will too.


We are loving our little chickens. They've been staying outside for the last six nights. I miss hearing their peeping all the time, but it sure makes cleanup easier. They're now 6-1/2 weeks old, and look at their feet!

They love pecking around the yard when we let them out under supervision. (Their condo is all set for them, but we're still working on the enclosure. The proverbial "we" that is!) They stretch their wings and race at lightning speed across the yard, then settle into a close little group by their condo pecking around the ground. Sometimes they follow us around too, looking at us expectantly. They love to be picked up.

And their names? Drum roll...


Yes, Egbert is a boy's name, but Raizel was absolutely set on it and wouldn't hear of a name like Eglantine. And can I tell them apart? NOPE! :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Menu

This is the FIRST time I've cooked for shabbos since, well, um... October 28! I think that must be a record. :)

Here's what we had this shabbos:

challah (made by Eli)
roast chicken
roasted bok choy
roasted mushrooms/zucchini/onion
roasted eggplant halves
green salad w/kumquats (macerated in rice vinegar/sugar), pears, avocado, crushed almonds
mashed potatoes w/gravy
chocolate/vanilla marble cake (made by Raizel) with raspberry sauce

and for lunch...

beef tacos
beef barley soup
lime cilantro coleslaw
guacamole and homemade pareve sour cream
veggies from diner
cake from dinner


The tacos were really great. Those will definitely have to make a regular appearance. And I love the pareve sour cream. I think it tastes better than dairy! :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Garden Improvements

We've been having a great time in the lovely weather getting some things fixed up around here!

First, when we put up our (now permanent) sukkah, we decided to extend it by another 6 feet beyond the sukkah. So, now we have wonderful trellising for IY"H future kiwis and tromboncino squash. We're dreaming about these:

And these:

On this:

Here's a view of the whole thing, with the sukkah enclosed in the lattice. Later, we'll install an outside door on the sukkah. For now, it's a kind of cage with an entrance on the right side from the music room and a pass-through window from the kitchen to the sukkah.

All of the wood chips are from the trees that formerly stood on the property. They make a GREAT mulch, and anytime we need more the tree cutter is happy to dump a load (saves him a trip to the mulch pile at the dump).

Then, while we were in California, Dean surprised all of us by getting the side yard completely fenced in. Hooray! It was so exciting to see it all done.

Here is the view from the front, with a nice wide gate for easy access. Later, we want to bust up the driveway in front of the fence. We have a driveway that enters on one street and exits on another, but we can just use the end by the front door just as easily.

When you come in through the gate, that's where our chicken yard will be. The chicken condo is on the left side of the picture (waiting for a nice barnyard-red paint job!). We may get a rabbit to live in one of the five condos to get some of that good bunny manure (can go fresh into the garden, unlike other manures). Dean is right now working on the chicken yard fencing and roofing. More pictures when that is done! It's more than halfway there now. :)

Here is the vast emptiness that is our side yard (1,800 square feet!!!!). Plans include fish tanks, 800 more square feet of veggie beds, a couple of fruit trees (20+ more in front), lots of berries, a tilapia above-ground pool (hopefully a test run of 50 fish this spring). The large white box is a water collection tank, which we want to secure to a tall stand so we have some water pressure from it.

And here is where the side yard turns a corner and goes to the back yard. You can see the tip of the kids' summer pool (well, spring/summer/fall pool!), which will become the future tilapia tank IY"H. The grey bricks are from the wall we knocked down in front of the house, and bricks from a shorter wall in the back that we knocked the cement off of. We hope to use those for paths and veggie beds.

A fun project! The chickens are growing, and are so, so sweet to watch and play with. When we walk toward the dog crate to say hello, they all fight over who gets to be closest to us. I never realized birds really did that! They peep happily all day long and love to sit in our laps and eat from our hands. They're getting bigger quickly. Their tail feathers are rapidly IY"H I'll post a picture soon. They'll be six weeks old tomorrow! They're ready to go live outside, so we may move them into their condo this week.

And now we'll wind up with a few pictures from our winter garden!

I took this picture a few days ago. Now the onion, garlic, and shallot shoots are a good 6+ inches tall.

This bed is full of cabbages in the foreground, and the last of the peppers in the green bush at the back.

In the foreground bed here, there are several varieties of greens - lettuces, chards, shiso, collards. Beyond that are cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, and a few more greens.

The herb spiral has been VERY happy! The rosemary is doing beautifully. Thyme, oregano, parsley, tarragon are all going strong. I'm going to trim back and dry a bunch of herbs this winter. The only herb that is all done is the cilantro.

And finally, the undisputed supertstar of the garden — the Japanese eggplant. I can't believe I'll be picking more eggplant IN DECEMBER (!). Next summer, I don't want to plant any Italian varieties. These were so far superior. What a pleasure.

To be continued! :)

Monday, November 21, 2011


Okay, one last post, just to say that Raizel is VERY excited to have finished her Kindergarten math program, and Eli is VERY excited to have finished his first grade math program. They both seem to love math. I think Eli stands a good chance of catching up to his older sister before too long!

Tour de Coop

We had such a great time riding the trolley around Savannah all afternoon, visiting six different backyard chicken coops. One of them was even on our block, so we got to wave to our house as we went by.

A side perk of visiting the chicken coops was getting to admire several lovely gardens.

The tour started at Southern Pine Company, which reclaims materials from tearing down houses and buildings then reuses them to restore and build other structures. We had a lot of fun wandering through their huge warehouse full of all kinds of interesting "junk."

All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. They had chicken trivia games on the trolley, with raffle tickets and prizes being passed out. All the kids won something. Then when we returned to Southern Pine we actually won a raffle for a lovely, wonderful, unfiltered bottle of non-kosher olive oil. I was so happy! I was so sad. :( I'm sure we'll find someone who will cherish as much as we would have, could we have used it. :)

That's all for now!


Found some interesting reptiles recently...

This Eastern Glass Lizard (looks like a snake) was in our front yard when we were building our sukkah. It just didn't bend quite like a snake, so I looked it up suspecting it was a legless lizard, and sure enough, it was!

This cottonmouth passed us while hiking at Ogeechee Canal.

Had I realized it was a poisonous snake, I don't think I would have paused long enough to take, er, several pictures. I think I ought to make myself more familiar with the local fauna...


Upon arriving home, I learned that our local Victory Feed & Seed had little chickens available. I had pretty much figured we had missed the current season (most hatcheries seem to have a break about now) and wouldn't be getting chickens until January/February. Turns out the ones I wanted to get—Plymouth Barred Rocks—were EXACTLY what the feed store had! They also had six available, and we wanted five. I would have taken all six if Savannah didn't have a limit of five.

These cute little chicks...

Will turn into these cute little chicks, G-d willing:

Right now they are living in the learning room in a dog crate. They have to be kept at 75+ degrees right now. In a few weeks they'll be ready to go outside. They're already very sweet. They all run chirping to the window of the crate whenever somebody walks in the room. They eat a TON and are growing before our eyes.

Barred Rocks in general are very docile and easy to handle, and get along well with other pets. (We're thinking of getting a dog in the spring...). They're also chatty, but generally pretty quiet about it.

We love them already!


A few short updates. :) We had a great trip to Manhattan Beach to visit grandma and grandpa. Here are a few pictures... more to come IYH. We also got to spend shabbos with the L Family in Atlanta on the way out and shabbos with the F Family on the way back. It was all so nice, and just as nice to come home to sleep in our own beds.

Grandpa and 4/8ths of the grandkids!

Eli & Avi in the Rose Garden

Raizel with her Uncle Dan

Skating on The Strand

So much more, but bed is calling.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


We finished our astronomy unit just before sukkos, and now we're on to chemistry. We'll pretty much just be exploring through experiments. We're using Janice Van Cleeve's Chemistry for Every Kid: Experiments That Really Work.

What I like:

The experiments are very easy to do, and they use materials that we already have or that I could easily pick up at the grocery store. So far, they all work too! :)

What I don't like:

I wish the explanations for the results of the experiments went into a little more depth. I would like more details both for myself and to be prepared to (inevitably) explain more than what is provided. Of course, I can look up the information easily enough; it would just be nice if it were there to begin with. The explanations are perfectly adequate for a bunch of beginning chemists.

The kids have had a great time with the eight experiments we've done so far and we're looking forward to doing more. I may be overlapping this with the Happy Scientist's units on Rocks and Minerals. Physical science is fun!

And, yes, I managed to pack 5 people into one suitcase that only weighs 33 lbs. Four outfits for eleven days. We'll just plan on washing lots of clothes! That leaves 17 lbs to bring home Jeff's Kosher Gourmet Sausage from Los Angeles. :) And then there's plenty of extra room in our carryon bags too! Hmmmmmmmm........ I wouldn't mind finding some real cheese too...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011



One airplane bag for mama.
Four airplane backpacks for kids.
One papa bag.
One Los Angeles suitcase. (I'm an optimist; surely I can pack 5 people into 1 suitcase?)
One Atlanta big backpack.
One toilet bag for everywhere.
One backpack for the two 4-hour car rides.
One cooler for bringing things home from Big City #1.
One small cooler for bringing home things from Big City #2 (Jeff's Kosher Gourmet Sausages!!)
Six lunches for car ride #1.
Six lunches for airplane ride #1.

It's a bit mind-boggling...

Avi's Birthday

Avi is four now!!! We had a nice little birthday dinner and cake for him last week in a friend's sukkah. He received a number of sweet little presents, and when he had finished opening them he put them in a pile in front of him at the table, hugged the whole pile with his arms and in a little earnest voice he said, "Thaaaaaaaank you! Thank you so much for all of my presents! Thank you!" He is so sweet, and always happy with whatever he has B"H.

Every year as the kids get a year older I think that THIS is my favorite age, and I still haven't experienced the feeling that time is passing too quickly. Time is passing in real time, I suppose because their lives unfold in real time before my eyes. Large chunks aren't missing for school or anything else. I love the time I have with them. I so appreciate that I have been given these wonderful gifts of husband and children, and so grateful that at the age of 32 I became Jewish and thereby opened a flood of untold blessings. I just feel myself sinking into each moment with complete gratitude for each day.


Menu Addendum

I forgot... one of the best things we ate during yom tov was the home-cured lox with garlic bagels. YUM. And tonight I made four loaves of whole wheat rosemary onion bread. Hadn't made that in ages!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Menu(s)

Here's what we're eating over the next few days... Some good company and good food, and a little time left in the sukkah!

apple cinnamon challah
lemon garlic chicken
spaghetti w/meat sauce
broiled chicken w/chimichurri sauce
"refried" pinto beans
Mexican rice
lime cilantro coleslaw
Mexican chicken noodle soup
crazy spaghetti*
Greek potatoes
balsamic glazed onions
sauteéd mushrooms
caesar salad
baguettes w/olive oil/sea salt/garlic
roasted veggies
strawberry coconut sorbet
apple cake
roasted apples with coconut honey custard (for a gluten-free/sugar-free friend)
date squares
apple cheesecake

*Saw this on a friend's facebook page. Take pieces of hotdogs, spear them with uncooked spaghetti, then boil. SILLY SPAGHETTI! :) :) :)

Good yontiff and good shabbos!!!!!!

The Menu(s)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another Menu!

Another week whizzing by... What a strange time it's been. I had odd symptoms; odd symptoms fixed. Van had odd symptoms; odd symptoms fixed (for free!). Now the phone line has odd symptoms, and who knows when that will be fixed. If you're having trouble reaching me, it's because it's no problem to dial out, but dialing in is very iffy!

The sukkah has been going up, slowly but surely. I really wish it were all done and ready to go, but B"H another family is coming to the rescue early tomorrow afternoon to stay for the chagim and I can hand off the final decorating to them. Probably keep it kind of simple with two posters, lights, and whatever I have from previous sukkahs. I had grand ideas for this year's sukkah but, well... The sukkah will still be nice; it's 24' x 10' so lots of room for guests. The kitchen window will be a wonderful passthrough right into the sukkah. It will easily seat 20, plus a 6-foot table at the end for candles, food, etc. We added trellises extending out into the front yard from the sukkah structure for future BE"H kiwis, grapes, or other climbers. I'll post pictures soon, BE"H!

Now, for the menus...

caesar salad
green salad with pears and pear vinegar dressing
green salad with avocado, anise, grapefruit, and grapefruit dressing
surimi salad with spinach and fried wontons
carrot salad with honey, apples, and dried cranberries

carrot rutabaga purée
roasted potatoes
glazed cipollini onions
maple sweet potatoes
roasted mixed vegetables
roasted carrots
baked potatoes

chicken won ton soup
butternut squash soup

chicken with roasted pears and mushrooms w/balsamic glaze
shepherd's pie
chicken w/homemade bbq sauce
fish cakes
brie with raspberry jam and puff pastry
zucchini quiche and cheese quiche (unless I cave and just do deli sandwiches!)

almond macaroons (had to hide these in the freezer; WAY TOO GOOD!)
strawberry coconut sorbet
date squares
apple cake
apple strudel

And of course - CHALLAH! Mostly apple challah, plus a couple of raisin challahs.

Wishing everyone a good yontiff! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So many things this week. Rosh Hashanah was lovely, despite a scientifically as-yet-to-be-explained invasion of hundreds of incapacitated dragonflies on our block. Very odd. Our car had a bunch of work done in the last few months (including a new-to-us transmission), and now all the same problems are back. For a while the transmission would work if parked on a flat surface, but that no longer seems to do the trick. Then erev Rosh Hashanah I got a toothache. On Monday I discovered that tooth needed a root canal, which will BE"H be done tomorrow.

Then today I went in with some potentially very serious health symptoms. B"H it was nothing a couple of prescriptions couldn't take care of, so tonight I'm feeling incredibly grateful that it's very minor (but it certainly kicked off a round of getting a regular doctor set up for myself!).

In addition, without going into all the details, I had a very upsetting encounter with a nurse tonight and told her that I thought she was being very unprofessional and inappropriate and requested that someone else tend to me. I was extremely upset by her comments (compounded by the fact that I had the exact symptoms of something very serious). The NP I saw both apologized and defended the nurse. I was livid and ready to walk out of there, but the dear friend I was with calmed me down enough that I was able to move forward with the exam. (And those who know me know that ordinarily I am a VERY calm person!) So, I got the good news (HOORAY!) and then my dear friend suggested that perhaps the nurse could come back and apologize. No, no, no I thought. I don't ever want to see her again, let alone talk to her. But of course, my friend was right once again.

The nurse came in, complete contrition written all over her face. She apologized profusely, said she had handled it incorrectly every step of the way, and to please forgive her. She did not offer any excuses, but took full responsibility for her poor judgment, and her eyes were full of tears. I extended my hand immediately and we ended up in a hug. She said that if I chose to ever come back here again she would take very good care of me and make sure that I got everything I needed. It was sweet and genuine and full of true remorse. And such an "odd" timing on the Jewish calendar, the week when we are paying extra attention to where we still need to make amends and apologize to those around us and to Hashem for everything we've done wrong this year and not yet done teshuva for.

It was very moving to witness someone do real teshuva (repentance) and to feel all my anger at her utterly dissipate in an instant. Just like when we turn to Hashem this week and ask him to forgive us for the aveiros we have done against him and he immediately scoops us up and forgives it all. And so too do I hope I will be able to ask forgiveness from other human beings as beautifully as that nurse did tonight.

A day of great anxiety had a sweet ending and for that I am most grateful - grateful for the loved ones around me and the loved ones who gave birth to me and cared for me as a child (and as an adult!), grateful for every moment I spend with my children whether it's tearing our hair out with math or chasing lizards or putting away laundry, grateful to have a husband who is as dear to me as he ever could possibly be, and grateful to be drawing breath each day. It is all a great gift from Hashem.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Food

There's a lot more to Rosh Hashanah than the food, but there sure is a lot of food for Rosh Hashanah! Especially when it runs up against shabbos.

Here are the various things I have (mostly) cooked for the next three days:

challah (4 kinds - brown sugar, apple cardamom, raisin, and plain)
chicken won ton soup
apple chicken
meatballs with currants
butternut squash kugel (thanks, ET!)
spinach salad w/mandarin oranges and pomegranate
roasted beets
red pepper salad
mashed potatoes
roasted cauliflower
tzimmes (carrots, sweet potatoes, apples)
green salad
stuffed cabbage
roasted eggplants/peppers
broiled fish
miso soup
spring rolls
onion and mushroom tempura
beef barley stew
yam cake
date bars
apple tart
apple strudel

It should be a yummy few days, and a wonderful start to the new year. Twenty-something for dinner tonight. I lost count. :) A dozen at most of the other meals. Looking forward to it very much, especially if my dull toothache would go away. I think it's the dentist for me on Monday!

Wishing everyone a shanah tovah u'mesukah!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Two Successful Resources

I just had to share our favorite recent finds. The Homeschool Buyers Co-op has a $10 deal to get 50% off a one-year online subscription to The Happy Scientist. The website includes video lessons (LOTS of experiments!), daily science photos (w/a question!), and really nice curricula. This website is well worth the full price of $20. Robert Krampf is a warm, sincere teacher with a great sense of humor. We have learned a lot on this website. The kids clamor for him as much as they clamor for David Attenborough. It's a wonderful resource and we have thoroughly enjoyed it for a few weeks now. The special deal expires September 30, so join soon!

In addition, having completed the family Chofetz Chaim book on lashon hara and having completed a nicely written biography of the Chofetz Chaim, we have now moved on to Chofetz Chaim: Lessons in Truth.

We are reading one or two lessons each night. Each one only takes a couple of minutes, and then we can talk about the ideas afterward. We place a lot of emphasis with the children on not speaking lashon hara (quickly translated as gossip, but much more complex than that) and on speaking emes. Bit by bit the lessons trickle down, and when you see them naturally applying the principles in their day-to-day life it is very gratifying.

So, there you have two top-notch resources! :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Menu

Well... there was a little mix-up. We were supposed to be having a sushi feast tonight (we have a SCAD friend who gets whole salmon, yellowtail, and tuna flown in and we were going to pick some up. There was a mixup and the end of the story is we have none. SO, at 3:30 I still didn't know what we were having for dinner! But I've managed just fine, and now I know what we're having!

For dinner...

challah (which, at last, came out PERFECT because of the new oven!)
honey pecan chicken
green salad
roasted eggplant/carrot/pepper/onion
roasted asparagus
roasted lemon garlic potatoes
toasted barley pilaf (after toasting the barley and making barley tea!)
iced barley tea
date bars

For lunch...

beef barley stew
spinach salad
deli sandwiches
leftover veggies from dinner
date bars

And the rest of this week? CRAZY! New oven and new meat dishwasher put in. This will sure beat previous yamim tovim where we couldn't use our oven at all! This one is star-K certified. YAY. Kashered my mother-in-law's kitchen and got everything dunked in the mikveh. Great start for a new year there.

We cleaned up the junk in the front yard (finishing the demolition of the cement wall). Tried to take the debris to the dump, but our helper couldn't get here in time. Tried to take it again, but the dump hours on the website were not correct and it wasn't open yet. Finally realized we could just have the city pick it up. Oh. Hm. Meanwhile, all the transmission troubles, EGR troubles, and anti-lock brake troubles have made a reappearance in the van. Hm. We had spent untold dollars to have all those repaired. Hm. Well. Hm. I think the van will be spending Rosh Hashanah at another mechanic to get a second opinion and his take on the work that has already been done. Yeah. Hm. So.

We also hit the library's used book sale. $1 per book, and we got some wonderful books. We've got enough reading to keep us busy for quite a while. Each year, we also get so many really great science and history books there. Yay.

Time for shabbos, baruch hashem! Good shabbos, all! :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Great Sunday

Sunday always starts with a cup of coffee with my husband. Of course, he's accomplished a great deal more than I have by that point. For my part, I am up and dressed. For his part, he has usually paid bills, davened, done a bunch of dishes, and said good morning to the kids. Today was the day we began to kasher my mother-in-law's kitchen. All week I had been anticipating a huge bal egan. Mountains of kashering. Sinks, counters, dishwasher, stove, oven... it would take a gazillion hours, and how would I squeeze out all that extra time? I was embarrassingly dreading it and wondering if we should just wait until after the holidays.

Today (and last night), all it took was two hours of kashering her counters and large appliances, a 30-minute consult with the rabbi, and ninety minutes of kashering utensils. Another 90 minutes of kashering utensils and a trip to the mikveh to dunk a box full of things and we should be DONE! Perhaps in my mind I was envisioning a kitchen like mine which is rather more involved. But a kitchen for one? Simple!

Once I got going, what a pleasure to do the mitzvah. My heart was happy, and ima was so joyful that her kitchen would be kashered as we begin a new year. Doing something leshem shamayim (for the sake of heaven) is just, well, delicious. Why do we keep kosher? Because Hashem told us to. That's it. Taking part in the process today of another Jew keeping this huge mitzvah just made me very, very happy and peaceful. I reveled in the steamy pot of boiling water and piling up all the gleaming utensils. It was sweet and holy.

And after that we piled into a great big U-Haul truck with another friend and went off to Eden, Georgia to collect a chicken coop (30 minutes away). We wended our way through the backwoods and finally found the right trailer, proudly flying the American and confederate flags. A man came out on the porch and put his boots on. Our friend took one look at the scene and said, "Well, he hasn't shot at us yet..." :) All went well, they were very friendly, and happy to tell us about their chickens, turkeys, turtles, cow, and wild pigs (300 pounds each in the woods nearby!). Somehow the three of us (+ a little help) lugged the great big 500?-pound coop into the truck. The "coop" looks more like rabbit hutches on stilts. Kind of nice to have it up high with easy egg access, and the stilts should make it more snake-proof... I hope! Each chicken will have his own apartment. We'd like to build ramps going down, and enclose the chicken area with the fencing we have. They should have pretty good digs by the time it's ready, BE"H. Nothing like an adventure!!

About the time we got home, Amirah came back from a 4-day adventure in Atlanta. She had a great time, of course, and had expressed a desire to just stay until Rosh Hashanah. Unfortunately, homeschooling is flexible but not THAT flexible! :) She had a great few days, and I'm so, so glad to have my snuggly, yummy girl back.

A good Sunday with many things accomplished. And tomorrow, just in time for the holidays, a Star-K certified oven will be arriving at 7:00 a.m. (EEK!). Our old one had clogged gas jets, a thermostat that was WAY off, and NO sabbath mode, which made yom tov cooking tricky! And while we were at it we got a meat dishwasher. Bring on the chagim!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Menu

Taking it easy this shabbos. Just one guest for each meal, and I made really simple things...

lemon garlic chicken
roasted lamb (our last of the whole lamb we purchased in 8/10)
baked potatoes w/tofu sour cream
roasted asparagus
roasted carrots/zucchini/onions
roasted eggplant
pasta with mushroom sauce
cranberry banana bread

and for lunch...

corned beef sandwiches
potato chips
green salad
and some kind of salad based on Friday's leftovers

Good thing it's simple. I didn't start cooking until 2:00 pm! Oldest DD is on an Atlanta adventure this shabbos (she's blissed out!), so just the five of us plus company. Should be a very restful shabbos.

Good shabbos, all!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rosh Hashanah Art Project

We had so much fun making these yesterday and today. I based it on another project at my favorite art blog. We typed the text on the computer, then searched for Rosh Hashanah images. They picked what they wanted in their picture. They put together a "poster" of their images and text on card stock and taped that down to the table, then we taped the muslin down over that. They traced the lines with Elmer's blue washable glue.

The next day we colored in the images and text with acrylic paint and let that dry. Then we soaked the fabric until the glue came off and — voilá — batik! Afterwards we sprinkled the blank spots with liquid watercolors. I plan to get some dowels to hang them on and we'll hang them on the dining room wall. Savta thought we should get hangers for them and put them out like banners along the wall outside the front door! That could be fun too, but a little more involved. We'll see!

Here are some pictures. :)

by Amirah
The text says "Muchos años," Ladino for "many years"
as in wishing someone a long life.

by Eli
The text says "Shanah tovah u'mesukah,"
a wish for a good and sweet year.

by Raizel
The text says "Shanah tovah,"
a wish for a good year.

by Avi
The text says "Gut yar,"
a Yiddish wish for a good year.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Menu

Another shabbos! Baruch hashem! Looking forward to a nap already. :)

Here's the menu!

For dinner:

homemade egg rolls w/sweet and sour dipping sauce
bulgogi (Korean bbq)
spinach with miso dressing
turnip pickles
cucumber salad
broiled miso eggplant
chocolate covered strawberries

And for lunch:

We're out!

Good shabbos, all!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Each month, I'm focusing on training the kids (1–4 of them) for a new chore. For a couple of weeks I've been training them to do their own laundry. So far, so GREAT! We got them each their own lightweight pop-up hamper. They each have a day to take their laundry to the washing machine before breakfast, return the empty hamper to their room, shuffle it into the drier after lunch, and put away their own clothes after dinner. So far, it has worked great! I've also been grabbing Eli's and Avi's shabbos clothes from the basket and putting it in a separate box in their room. Then I can pull down the box of shabbos clothes on Friday afternoon for them and they'll have everything there for getting dressed. On Fridays while preparing for shabbos I do my and DH's laundry. We also each have our own hamper so ALL of the laundry is pre-sorted before it goes into the washing machine (all whites get pulled out and put into a trash can next to the washing machine for a separate load on Friday too). On Sundays I do all the sheets, towels, etc.

This morning, Raizel came into my room and said, "Good morning, mama! When I woke up I did morning washing, brushed my teeth, and got dressed. Then I put Avi's laundry into the drier and my laundry into the washing machine. It's almost time for Avi to put away his laundry!" All of this while I was still asleep. Sweet girl! She's been especially observant of the comfort of others lately. Savta mentioned she was warm, and Raizel went unsolicited to get her a glass of water and set up the fan (which was in another room) so it would blow gently on her where she was sitting. When friends are visiting she notices right away if they are looking for something. If someone is hurt, she rushes over to them to make sure they are okay. She's keenly aware of the things going on around her. I'm sure she notices more details at once than any of our other children. I can't wait to see where her quick, empathetic mind will take her. It's a pleasure to see her channel her very powerful spirit for the good! :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Team Eli Raizel!

Teaching Eli and Raizel together has worked extremely well. Linguistically, she's miles ahead of Kindergarten and Eli is egged on by her linguistic talents. Eli is far ahead of her in math, but it's very easy to teach them simultaneously. Raizel is halfway through Singapore Kindergarten math, so as long as she does one page per day, she's doing enough. I can usually tell her the gist of the page and she can do it on her own there next to me. Ditto for Eli. I just lightly bounce back and forth. Raizel is also doing great with 1st grade Writing With Ease, and she and Eli love doing it together. At this early stage, it pretty much consists of listening to short (but dense) stories and answering oral questions, condensing a thought about the passage into a single sentence, and doing copywork. They're both very capable, and I'm thrilled that Raizel can join in. She loves the physical act of writing and works hard to make beautiful letters. I'm very happy that it has been good for her too.

With them working together in language arts and math, it eases our schedule a bit. Right now, we're finishing our day in 5 hours (10:00-1:00 and 2:00-4:00). I had thought it would really take us 6 hours. Those hours don't include history or science which I generally do outside of normal learning hours, i.e. evenings and weekends. All of this comes together to make the day not quite as pressured as I had anticipated.

And one more thing... WE ALL LOVE XTRAMATH.COM! Amirah has been making terrific progress, much faster than at any other time in her math facts history. B"H! She has utterly detested any other way of practicing her math facts. She and Eli both really enjoy doing it, and it only takes about 10 minutes per day. Very happy about this one. I'm really hoping it will help shoot Amirah on to the next level. I really think that once her computation speed is faster she will enjoy math so much more! And what happens to the students who are pushed beyond that point to where they can't do the basic computations easily and are frustrated beyond belief with higher mathematical thinking?? I'm so glad we didn't have to just rush merrily along and could take the time to cement the basics.


I haven't yet taken any pictures, but on Friday and Sunday the last of the trees that we wanted to remove (to make way for fence and fruit trees) were all taken down. All of the bushes on the whole property went also. Pretty much everything but two tall pines and one tall oak and our loquat tree. All of the branches were chipped and placed in dauntingly large piles in the front and side yards. We spent a (HOT!) 90 minutes shoveling things around (a familiar thing around here!). We got maybe 1/6th of the front spread out. OY. More sweat to come. When it's spread it will make a wonderful, very thick layer of mulch all over the yards. I'm really hoping we can get a good one-hour mulch-shoveling session in each day. The holidays will be here soon enough, followed quickly by a 12-day trip to Los Angeles, followed (BE"H!) by an orchard planting! Meanwhile, I'd really like to get some greens, garlic, onions, and a few other thing into the ground... Is it too early to call a learning vacation??!? :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Making Room

And here we are again! Another shabbos, with guests tonight and tomorrow. :) As I speak, several trees are going down at our house - 3 pines in front (one dead, two in the way of the sukkah pad) and 3 trees on the side (in the way of our future BE"H fence and fruit trees), and a multitude of useless (as in non-fruit bearing and pretty only 4 weeks out of the year!) bushes and large plants. Hopefully we can get working on that fence and enclose the side yard, thereby tripling (at least) the outside space the kids (and fruit trees and plants) have to roam in.

We also expanded other space. I got a door at the Restore (Habitat for Humanity) for $10, and voilá, DH turned it into another 8 feet of counter space! We went from 12 feet to 20 feet of counter space by doing this! It's better than I dreamed. We'll keep that counter generally clear. It will be a worktable for fix-it projects, a laundry-sorting table, a home-from-the-grocery-store table, and whatever else it's needed for. LOVE IT! There's also a window between the kitchen and the music room (which used to be the carport). We're going to cover the whole wall with peg board and then place a curtain over that. Now we'll have a better place to keep our tools!

So... lots of fun little projects and DH has been working as hard as he can so that we have a real 3-day weekend this weekend. A whole TWO DAYS to get things done!!!! We're very excited about that! We'll also do a for-fun outing sometime over the weekend. It's been ages since we've had an outing with all six of us.

The Menu

Guatemalan tonight! YES!

For dinner:

roasted carrots/zucchini
roasted asparagus
chicken mole (aka chocolate chicken)
green salad
brown rice
black beans
fried plantains
homemade salsa
assorted accumulations of desserts - sorbets and mandelbrot

And for lunch:

red pepper salad
surimi/avocado/won ton salad
eggplant potato tortilla
beef barley stew
turkey deli meat
turkey wings
angel food cake

(I might run out of time to make the tortilla... we'll see!)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Great Math Flashcard Website!

In the ongoing quest to find independent activities for Amirah and Eli to do, I stumbled on this website thanks to a recommendation from someone on the Well-Trained Mind forum. XtraMath starts with a diagnostic test on the addition math facts, then proceeds to create daily tests (fairly short!) tailored to the student's needs. I can log in as a parent and check their progress. I love it! And B"H so do they! At least it's been a hit for the past week.

I do wish there was an exercise that included getting acquainted with number geography on the computer keyboard. This greatly reduces their speed in answering the problems (which affects their score), but I'm sure they'll figure it out soon enough. It has no bells and whistles, just nice flashcards, with honest feedback (as in NOT over-the-top woohoo you're amazing!!). I'm very pleased and hoping it will really help Amirah who just cannot get those math facts in her head. It has really slowed us down this past year in math. But B"H we're learning al pi darko, so she can take the time to develop and learn at her pace instead of being rushed right ahead because she's in a new grade now. I am so grateful that each of their abilities can develop as they will without being held back or pushed forward artificially. This is absolutely the number one reason I homeschool.

Oh, and that Mennonite curriculum I tried for spelling and penmanship - BLEAH! The samples were much better than the real thing. I'll blog later b"n about what we're using in real life...

Good night!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Menu

Hooray! Shabbos! B"H! Woohoo!

For dinner:

super duper extra-fancy (really!) shabbos burgers
French fries
asparagus (to make it feel shabbosdik)
kiwi strawberry coconut sorbet

(Yes, that's it, there is no more, that's ALL!)

For lunch:

tilapia cakes with tofu sauce
antipasto plate (homemade olives, pepperoncini, roasted peppers, roasted zucchini and squash, roasted carrots, garden tomatoes, marinated mushrooms)
beef barley stew w/homemade kishke
turkey deli meat
taco salad

And for the afternoon:


Phew! What a week. Overall, had a great first week back at full-time learning. Everyone was very cooperative, no review time has been necessary for anything, and we're zooming along. Very satisfying and I think we all really like being back on our regular schedule.

Good shabbos, all!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quote of the Week

Eli: I wish I could get married right away.

Mama: Why???

Eli: Because I have a lot of money right now, almost ten dollars, and I could marry a really poor person and we could go out and get a lot of groceries with all that money.

:) :) :)

Fancy Word Game

We had a lot of fun playing a new game. I have a place on our bulletin board called "Fancy Word of the Week" (though it's more like "Fancy Word of the Half-Week"). This week's word is "velocity." Yesterday and today we used it whenever possible. The kids were giggly-happy whenever they found a way to work it casually into the conversation. Tonight at dinner we played a game where they each had to use the word whenever possible, and at the end of dinner papa had to guess what the word was. Eli said he didn't want to play and I said that was fine. He got more into than any of them, though! They asked several innocent questions about hurricanes, bullets, and airplanes, and didn't even crack a smile. At the end of the meal, papa honestly couldn't figure out the secret word until we told him to really think about the topics of conversation that night. Then he got it! :) They all thought it was really funny. A nice way to add a little spice to our routine.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Lake Trip

Here are pictures from our lake trip. What a great time we had!

Lake Ben Hall (with lots of boat houses along the shore)

At sunset. The pedal boat was a bit difficult to pedal...

Avi was always busy doing either this...

or this.

And sometimes this.

Raizel has a million different expressions.

She loves those big splashes!

Eli was at LEAST this happy the entire time.

Sometimes this happy (lying down on a deck chair)

Water play is his favorite thing.

Amirah learned the joy of kayaking and had a superb time.
We enjoyed paddling across the lake intending to buy popsicles,
only to discover that the little store had only about 5% of its shelves stocked.

What a pleasure to paddle with my daughter!

Jumping off the dock into the duckweed.

All smiles, all the time.

Amirah caught a crayfish.

We also enjoyed the wildlife at Magnolia Springs State Park.

B"H what fun we had!