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! :)