Monday, February 27, 2012

Berry Trellises

The berry trellises are up and 23 berry sticks are in the ground! See pictures at my gardening blog.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Menu

EDITED: I should just wait until after shabbos to post... I always seem to improvise something different! No carrot ginger purée; instead, we had spaghetti squash. No tortilla española; instead, I made a cabbage/chicken/kumquat salad with a rice vinegar/sesame oil/sugar/salt dressing. YUM! It was a lovely, lovely shabbos with great company.

For dinner:

beef roast
roasted potatoes
roasted mixed veggies
carrot ginger puree
roasted cabbage

For lunch:

won ton surimi salad
mushroom puff pastry rolls
tortilla española (if I have enough time... it's not made yet!)
pickled eggs
broiled eggplant
linguini with zucchini, tomatoes, artichokes, and olives
beef stew
preserved lemon/tomato/onion salsa
lots of desserts from guests! (we're 20 this shabbos!)

Garden Post

I posted lots of pictures of the garden in our new gardening blog. There was such a dearth of anecdotal online information about gardening in Savannah that I thought I would document our ups and downs. Fortunately, there are plenty of experienced gardeners in our neighborhood from whom we can learn a lot. We really don't have all that much experience compared to the experience we need! For two years in Oakland, CA I enjoyed doing flower gardening in part of the front yard where I lived. Then for three years in Beaverton, OR I had two 50-square-foot vegetable beds. That got started a couple of years before I got married. Then we had kids, and I was just a bit too, er, busy. We did a few tomatoes, but that was about it. It's nice now we're at the stage where the kids can help and enjoy doing it. I'm glad they enjoy it because it's taken up just about every Sunday for the last two months. Once the garden is actually in, maintenance won't be quite as time-consuming, and next year with more of the infrastructure in place there won't be quite as much to do either. Of course, we still need to work out an irrigation system and a tilapia pond. No, it won't be dull around here for quite a while!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I just spent (another) evening on pesach planning. We'll be on Tybee Island for two weeks, and will be having 25 for the seders IYH. Probably 15ish around during the day during chol hamoed (I'm sure we'll be having day visitors!). I've finished our weekday menus; assigned cooks, table setters, table clearers, and kitchen duty people; handed out jobs to people (desserts, wine/grape juice, seder plates, procuring a turkey, leading the search for chametz...), started a "to bring" list, and took a stab at planning the seder/yom tov meals. PHEW! is all I can say. What a lot of logistics. If it's well-organized, though, our two weeks at the beach might actually be relaxing.

IYH, IYH, IYH... The location will be perfect. Those that don't have vacation time can still get to work in 20 minutes. Friends can visit from town. There's only one house between us and the beach. We have a heated swimming pool (which we can't use 4 of the 8 days because of shabbos/yom tov laws, but still!). We can check on our chickens and garden every other day or so. And I get to hang out with some of my favorite people!! I haven't even hardly thought about Purim yet, except for learning with the kids. I'd better switch gears after shabbos. Costumes?? Shalach manos? Yep, better get on it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gardening Blog

I'm doing a separate, more anonymous, Savannah fruit/vegetable gardening blog. When I was exploring to see if I could find anecdotal gardening information specific to Savannah it was pretty scarce. So... we have started our own! Hopefully others can learn from the many, many blunders we will doubtlessly be making, and share a little in our successes, IYH.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ethiopian Crock Pot

Last night, I made Ethiopian food for dinner. Actually, it started on Sunday with the injera batter. It needs several days to go sour (like a sourdough). Then, Tuesday night I put the yemiser wat (lentil stew) in the crockpot overnight, and Wednesday afternoon I picked a bunch of collards and made the gomen wat (collards stew) and put it in the crockpot all afternoon. The crock pot did a GREAT job on both stews. With those, the injera, homemade panir, a cucumber/lettuce/tomato salad and alecha (a potato/carrot/cabbage combination that I did on the stovetop), it was so delicious. All the recipes can be found here from when I did an Ethiopian feast last spring. This time I made everything but the shiro wat. So delicious, and so healthy. I only wish I had started the injera a couple of days sooner, letting it sour for nearly a week instead of four days. It was pretty good, but I look it a little more sour. Oh, yum.

The Menu

Dinner - we're out! At shul!


roasted eggplant salad
pear spinach salad
roasted red pepper salad
roasted balsamic mushrooms (discovered last shabbos that these are even better cold than they are hot!)
strawberry rhubarb sorbet

It's all pretty much done except the challah, so tomorrow after learning I'll be doing a better-than-usual job of cleaning. And Auntie A., S, and D. are coming to spend the night!!!!!!!!!! Excitement all around. I'm a happy lady.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

USDA Food Budget

Every once in a while, I like to wander over to the USDA website and see what they think the cost of groceries is running for a family of 6, with children the same ages as ours. In December of 2010, their thriftiest plan cost an average of $875 per month. One year later, that same plan costs $924 per month. This is about a 6% increase from a year before, which agrees with what the Consumer Price Index says. Not as bad as I felt like it has been. I would have offhand guessed it was closer to 10%, but groceries in my local area may have been different. Groceries are relatively expensive here.

So then I went to a couple of different cost-of-living calculators to see what the grocery costs were in Portland, OR compare to Savannah, GA. I was very surprised to discover that grocery costs in Savannah are supposedly 13% less here! I would have definitely not been surprised if it had said 13% more, but 13% less???!?!?!!

Produce is so obviously more here. Packaged goods to me seem about the same. Perhaps it's just that Winco in the Portland area had particularly good pricing? Here I mostly shop at the local grocery store. Walmart is a less expensive alternative, but usually their produce is nowhere as good as Kroger. Their packaged goods are definitely a little cheaper, but I am buying fewer and fewer packaged items.

Anyway... I just find it all a bit perplexing, and I long for a Winco...

Torah Homescool Conference

So excited!!!! Even if, chas v'shalom, we don't have the money to do it, I'm so glad it's happening. IRS (and hashem), please send that refund speedily and in our day. We've only been waiting for 4 months. You say it will only be another 6 weeks. That would be lovely. Thank you.


The 4th Annual Torah Home Education Conference will be held in the
Baltimore area on Sunday, May 6 and the schedule is packed with great
speakers and topics that are sure to give every current or
prospective homeschooler something to take home and actualize!

This is the only conference geared to Orthodox homeschoolers in the
entire world – yes, literally! Every year, people have traveled from
all over the US and even Canada to participate and the consensus was that it was worth
every penny and hour away from home. Don't think that you're a four hour drive away and
it's not worth your time. You just won't have anywhere else to access this wide of a
group of Torah home educators any other day in the year, anywhere.
Here is the (tentative) schedule for the conference:

8:15 – 9 am Registration

9 – 9:10 – Opening remarks

9:15 – 10 am – V'shinantem L'vanecha – Defining Torah Home Education
Mrs. Susan Lapin

10:05 – 10:50 – Parallel workshops:

a) Practical Preschool and Early Education Years – Mrs. Jennifer MacLeod

b) Reaching Bar/bas mitzva – Homeschooling Older Children – Mrs. Shoshana Zohari
10:55 – 11:40 – Parallel Workshops:
a) How to Homeschool, Do Housework, and Prepare for the Chagim with a Smile – Mrs. Jennifer Green

b) Gishmei Brocha – Involving Your Family In Money Management – Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz
11:45 – 12:30 - Parallel Workshops:

a) Integrating Kodesh and Chol, Two Sides of the Same Coin – Mrs. Deborah Beck

b) Focusing in an Age of Digital Distractions – Mrs. Robin Alberg
12:30 – 2:30 – Lunch, Educational Material for viewing/for sale, "A Day in the Life of a Homeschooling Family" Poster Presentations, and a Facilitated Discussion with Mr. Max Masinter

2:30 – 3:15- Raising Independent Learners – Mrs. Evelyn Krieger

3:20 – 4:05- Veterans Panel with Mrs. Amanda Keefe, Chana Cox, Susan Lapin,
and Rebecca Masinter

4:10 – 4:55 – Advancing the Relationship between Homeschoolers and the Community – Rabbi Cary Friedman

5 – 5:15 – Closing remarks

Mrs. Gila Haor, a special educator, will be available for consultation throughout the day of the conference. If you're interested in reserving a slot, be in touch with her at

The conference planners are doing everything they can to welcome participants to the Baltimore area and make your stay comfortable. If you wish to spend Shabbos in Baltimore or Silver Spring prior to the conference, hospitality is being arranged – Mrs.Tova Brody is taking care of this, and she can be reached at 410-504-7798 or

Child care will be available for your young children during the conference, as well as activities for your older children – we need to know how many children to prepare for, so please register and tell us your child care needs as soon as possible. Mrs. Alisa Mandel is once again taking care of this, and you can contact her at 410-963-2977.

Homeschooling teenagers are welcome to attend the conference for no charge, although registration is required and donations are appreciated.

For registration and current information for the Torah Home Education Conference, click here!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our Day

We've settled into a very nice routine with our learning. I felt like it took us quite a while to settle into having three full-time learners. Here's, in general, how our days go:

9:00, breakfast
9:30, chores
10:00, davening (all of us)
10:45, parsha stories, navi (we're reading shoftim right now), songs, halachos (all of us)
11:30-1:00, they each get their stack of books and get to work
Raizel & Eli: math, Explode the Code, penmanship, Hebrew cursive (Eli), Writing With Ease, First Language Lessons
Amirah: math, Writing With Ease, First Language Lessons, spelling
1:00-1:45, lunch
1:45, Avi (alef beis and alphabet)
2:00, Raizel (Aleph Champ, Hebrew vocabulary, English reading)
2:30, Eli (ditto!)
3:00, Amirah (chumash, speedreading Hebrew, L'shon Hatorah (biblical grammar), English oral reading)

We usually finish by 4:00. History and science we do in the "off" hours, in the evenings or on Sundays. Time has been short, so our history has mostly been Story of the World (as a story book!), and historical fiction. We haven't done as much mapwork as we did last year. I'm hoping to get some more of that in! I'm also hoping to faithfully get to piano and recorder on Mondays and Thursdays. It's a challenge, for sure. Four different levels all at once has its challenges.

And my big challenge? I really want to have them read the whole megillah, starting tomorrow. It will be Eli & Raizel's first real foray into reading outside their siddur and Aleph Champ and incidental reading here and there. We'll see how it goes!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Menu



Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Early to bed tonight!

For dinner:

roasted chicken
roasted cherry tomatoes with fresh lemon thyme
carrot purée
roasted potatoes
spinach salad with macerated kumquats and almonds
roasted cauliflower
roasted bok choi
balsamic mushrooms
pear apple cranberry crisp

roasted pears
broccoli salad
baked salmon
spinach cheese puff pastry rolls
some of the veggies from Friday night
very dairy chocolate chocolate mint cookies

Every once in a while, it sure is nice to have a dairy lunch! :)

Good shabbos, all!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Uncle Dan!

We had such a busy, fun day with Uncle Dan. Since today was Uncle Dan Day, naturally we had a learning holiday. :) After sitting around shmoozing for a while, we...

•took Uncle Dan to Oatland Island

•had a picnic in the car (it was a bit cool today!)

•flew our trick kite at the beach (A & E did great with all kinds of zips and twirls!)

•toodled around to see downtown and had a warm drink

•bought teff flour (I feel some injera coming on!), non-homogenized milk, buttermilk, and cream at the health food store

•picked up D. at work

•stopped at Bobo's for mullet and croaker

•had dinner with Grandma P and Grandpa F

•cleaned up

•made bread and yogurt

•went out for frozen yogurt

•read our readaloud

•sent everyone but me to bed

•did laundry

•set up batches of buttermilk (by adding a pint of buttermilk to a gallon of milk) and creme fraiche (1 cup whipping cream + 1 teaspoon cultured buttermilk)

And now (or soon)... to bed! What a great day. Looking forward to a little more brother-shmoozing time before he leaves to catch his plane in Orlando, then an afternoon of learning. A really great day today!

The Menu

Well, a little late, but something happened to Friday... not sure what, though! :)

For dinner:

chicken w/duck sauce (baked at 350 for 75 minutes, then broiled for 10 minutes)
mashed potatoes
roasted carrots
roasted cabbage
roasted zucchini/portabello
chocolate cupcakes

For lunch:
baba ghanouj
sushi (California rolls & roasted carrot/spinach/egg)
pear spinach salad
meatballs w/currants
barley salad (barley, chopped sundried tomatoes, garlic, currants)
roasted corn salad (canned corn roasted in the oven w/green peppers, tomatoes, onions)
beef no-bean cholent
homemade kishke
apple pear cranberry crisp

And lots of fun guests!