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!)