Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting it all organized!

So here's what I have left, seed-wise, after giving a few things away at Seedy Saturday today. Not enough, apparently, because the BOX is still bursting with seeds.

I love this box! So elegant, so pretty. It's sturdy and actually has a magnetic closure, but good luck getting the thing actually shut with all these packets in it. We got it with the Bais Yaakov shalach manos a couple of years ago (last year?), and I appropriated it for seeds the second it came through the door.

I've divided up the seeds into big plastic bags: Perennials, Annuals, Herbs, Tomatoes, Beans and Peas, Leafies, Other Veggies, and one for "Already In 2009" - seeds that have been wintersown or started indoors already.

(peas and beans are bulky and I don't even try to fit them in the box - that's the swollen-full baggie off to the left side...)

Please! If anybody is reading this and lives in the Toronto area, do not buy seeds without asking me first. I have everything, too much of everything, and nowhere near enough land or time to plant it all... help! :-)))

(Especially if you consider Mel Bartholomew's advice - he's the originator of Square Foot Gardening - that you should only plant the number of seeds that corresponds to the number of plants you want. What a concept! If you want one tomato plant, plant one seed, maybe two or three if it's old seed and you're not sure it will germinate. My technique is more like five seeds in each spot and then thin, thin, thin. It's a matter of faith - yes, Hashem gave us a world where you stick the thing in the soil, it rots like crazy and yes, a baby plant is born almost every time. It really does work - you just have to leap into it and not plant a bazillion seeds or start a quatrillion peat pots if all you want is four cucumber vines. :-))))

Detailed list of available seeds coming up, hopefully....
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Garden Plan 2009

Too small to see, but here's a shot of my ultra-geeky spreadsheet with the top-secret plans for
Square Foot Gardening: 2009!

Though I think if you click on the image it may become bigger, and thus, less top-secret.

What am I doing for my sister's birthday tomorrow???

Yawn... walked to Seedy Saturday tomorrow. Yes, NOT the most Shabbos-dik thing in the world.
But it wasn't the end of the world, either.
I had a good time, nice walk in the chilly sunshine. Elisheva came with me and chastised me the whole way back for going in the first place ... she's like a little demon on my shoulder.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

So I wonder

I have been speculating inappropriately about the nature of the neighbours' marriage. Can't help it, maybe... or maybe I can but choose not to. He's 80-something, Jewish, Canadian. She's 60-something, Vietnamese, claims to "looooove Jewishpeople" (all one word). She says "Love" in a way I have never heard it said without the words "you longtime." (see, I told you this was all pretty inappropriate)

So I wonder and then I think there is almost no way they could have met in the natural course of things. So I wonder if he sent away for her, which is a phrase my father always used - JOKINGLY, please! - when saying he'd made a mistake choosing my mother and would have done better for himself with an obliging mail-order Asian bride. He also occasionally - again, JOKINGLY! - had the endearing habit of referring to my mother as his "first wife." Guess she had the last laugh.

So I wonder if they met through some kind of service - he sponsors her to Canada, she takes care of him for the rest of his days and then gets to retire in his comfortable bungalow just south of Eglinton.

But then, I get a little Tevye in my head who says, "if that's not love, what is?"
Yes, she has complained often about how old he is and hard to take care of. But she's not abusing him; as far as I can tell, she's playing the part... when I went in last night, he was obviously being well taken care of. She goes to shul with him on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. She spent the last several weeks at his side in the hospital.

She refers to him by his first and last name, together. At first, the paramedics last night thought she was saying all one name (his last name is one of those ones that sounds like a given name -like he was some kind of hillbilly with a hyphenated name: Jim-Bob; Bobby-Frank. But she also remembered more or less his medical history, grabbed all his meds, remembered that he was on Metformin and pronounced it okay. It can't be easy in a new language, all of it.

So I guess it doesn't matter, either way. Nobody should live or die alone if they don't want to, and maybe in however-many years she'll have some nice Vietnamese (or not) husband to share her own old age with.

In the meantime, they just came home by AmbuTrans, I gave her back her keys, and she thanked me again. I'm glad he's (relatively) okay (for now).
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Vote, vote, vote!

We're actually moving up the ranks!
Probably because it's such a $#!% to log in and vote at the site, but do it anyway...

Thank you.
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How to dress a wilful toddler

Gosh, that word looks wrong. Shouldn't it have more L's???

Anyway, the truth is, if your toddler is not going to get dressed, oh, well... you have to take over sometimes.

But one technique that has been working for me lately is: taking turns.
The truth is, some kinds of clothes she's good at, others she isn't yet.

So I lay out all the clothes we will need for the day (thank God she hasn't started wanting to actually choose clothes yet!!!), and let her pick something to start with - usually she picks her undershirt, and puts it on pretty quickly.

Then I let her pick something that I will put on her. No participation needed, no coaxing her to get involved; I will do it completely by myself. She usually picks the super-hard stuff for me - dresses with buttons, socks. She hates putting on socks, even though to me it seems easy, and she does it well enough.

{Actually, Naomi Rivka is a bit strange about getting dressed, in that she hates for any part of herself to be "trapped", even for a second. Hands in sleeves, head in shirts, and, I guess, feet in trousers or in half-on socks. (though she relaxes again when they are completely trapped in socks, like for the rest of the day...)}

Anyway, then it's her turn again, to pick the next item to put on by herself. And so on, until we're out of clothes.

So it's not a huge breakthrough, but it has made getting dressed a bit more fun in the past few weeks, and I thought I'd share it here.
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Nanny's mother's prayer...

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Elisheva's fantasy vacation world

Just a little doodle Elisheva came up with:

I love having a daughter this smart and funny and strange.
Make that two daughters... I suspect the little one will follow in her footsteps.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Drat, that is NOT all, after all...

Two other "growing" projects tonight in our house:
~ Sprouting wheat berries for Shabbos to mix into the challah - yum!
~ Sprouting alfalfa in my EasySprout for Shabbos salad
I kind of picture this as some sort of weird NewAge Shabbos ritual.
You are actually supposed to do one thing each day, I think, to prepare for Shabbos.  Wouldn't it be cool if every Jewish family, early in the week, started something sprouting to get it ready for Shabbos? 
We'd all be a lot healthier, anyway... without even going overboard-crazy about the health benefits of sprouts.

You know, when I was little, I spent a lot of time wishing, wishing, wishing, that my parents would split up... I would dream about the wonderful quality time I could spend with my mother or my father without the other one in the way.  
I always assumed, for some reason, that their personalities would be better separately than apart... I sort of figured they deserved each other, for whatever reasons I had at the time for assuming that.
It's just strange seeing my mother as a single woman now; talking about maybe colouring her hair, thinking maybe she'll go on dates or whatever, however-long down the line.
And realizing that she is only half of those divorced parents I longed for as a child.  I feel like I should still have a daddy somewhere to visit, maybe on weekends, or Wednesday evenings, or whatever custodial arrangement they would have reached had they actually split up.
Her personality is different, by the way.  Still early days yet, I know, but funny, maybe even a little happy, making her own choices and being stuck with them for good or bad.  She has always been such a strong personality, yet, never having lived on her own as an adult (she married pretty much straight out of university), becoming an adult in some ways for the first time ever.
I still feel ripped off, though.
I hope you don't mind these wild mood swings between plants and death and life and my family and whatever other tedious things are going on in my life.
Although maybe that's why this blog has so few readers.  ;-)))
Know your audience:  the first precept of captivating non-fiction, and I know I have violated it, um, a bazillion times in this blog.

Envelope-Corner Seeding How-To

This is an extremely short instructional video I created to demonstrate the art of envelope-corner seed sowing.

I have a set of seedspoons, which I love ( , but this is super-cheap and easy for seeds so small and wispy that even the spoons can't handle them. I had read about using the corner of a piece of paper, which worked just fine, but this method is almost foolproof, by which I mean even I can do it.

I made a video because I had a hard time visualizing the exact process by which the seeds would march out of the envelope corner in an orderly fashion... but sure enough, it works pretty well!

These Astilbe (arendsii, mixed colour) seeds look pretty big in the video, but in real life they were just teensy specks, more like chaff than nice rounded seeds.

To make an envelope-corner seeder, just cut off the corner of any nice, crisp, new, white envelope. Doesn't matter what size, really. I insist on crisp, new and white because if it's crinkled even a little, your seeds could get trapped in a crinkle. And if it's not white, how are you going to see the seeds???

Dump all the seeds from the packet into the seeder. Tip the seeder just a bit towards the soil, then tippy-tap with your finger on top of the envelope.

~ If seeds don't slide out at first, gradually increase the angle and/or firmness of your tapping.
~ If too many seeds are sliding out, decrease the angle, tap more gently... well, you get the picture.

Enjoy! Ask me in a month if these sprouted!

Getting growing...!

So I finally got off my tushie and started some seeds tonight!
At left, Portulaca x 10, Red Rubin Basil x 5, Parsley x 10.

The portulaca - if you've been reading carefully, you'll see I just ordered some on eBay and then today discovered a packet in the basement bought a few weeks ago in Home Depot (whoops!) - is for my mother, as I said before. She bought some in an annuals flat last year and just enjoyed them so much. They thrived (throve?) around the base of her doomed old oak tree, along with some lamium and a couple of stubborn hostas. And they flowered and flowered despite heat, damp, drought... everything. So I am growing them despite the fact that I really can't stand the way they look. And I can't stand mixed colours, for what that's worth. I hope she's grateful when I surprise her with them!

The basil will look nice if it does well, but the packet description does focus mostly on its distinctive look and calls the flavour "muted" or "subtle" - I forget which. Darn... I was looking for some nice basilly basil. I do have other packets, including lettuce-leaf, so I should probably start one of those also. I do like to have lots of basil; supposedly it's a Good Thing to grow with tomatoes.

The parsley is from last year's packet and it says flat-leaf Italian on the packet but I seem to recall it ALL came up curly and I had to run out and buy flat because the curly is a kashrus problem as well as being less tasty. If I am not completely mistaken AND they do that again this year, I am writing to MacKenzie Seeds and try to get a replacement packet or something. Now I'm worried. Anyway, they're all on heat now in the basement.

And what's that behind them in the picture???
I finally took a lonely mango seed that I was trying to sprout in a baggie that hadn't managed to die just yet (it had sprouted a root but no shoot) and laid it horizontally on soil in a nursery pot, covered with about an inch of soil... stuck an upside-down container over the whole thing, set it in a container on the heating pad with a Jobe stick in the soil (naughty, naughty). And hopefully the warm soil and reliable lighting will get some action going.

Oh - in the background behind everything: my sewing table and all my sewing stuff. Both sewing machines are broken, my children need new diapers sewn... I am the worst mama for not making more in so long. They need new woollies... everything.

Maybe I should sell the serger if I'm not going to use it. I could use the money to fix the serger - oh, no, I guess I couldn't. How "Gift of the Magi."

Finally, for tonight's burst of planting activity: Astilbe.
Yes, I ordered astilbe seeds on eBay the other day (I think!). Astilbe needs cold stratification, but the packet says to leave it at 16-21 degrees celsius until it germinates. That's about the temperature in our basement these days, so I just set it on the basement window ledge. Germination time is 21-28 days, so I don't even need to check it for 3 weeks... though it's true, I'll probably be peeking at it hopefully tomorrow morning!

{Okay, these are the same neighbours who have had a crazy-hate vendetta against us since we moved in, but I told her when I found out he was in the hospital that she could call me for anything at all, so I got to go over there and phone 911... I hope this means she'll let YM play basketball in our driveway this summer!}

But in all the excitement before I left, I realized there is one more plant project I have failed to keep you up-to-date on: Petunias. The white petunias continue to struggle along, but the mixed pastels are doing fabulously well and should be gorgeous just in time for Purim (these are the shalach manos petunias I mentioned earlier today).

The bigger ones in the centre could (and should) probably be trimmed down to 1 or 2 seedlings. And I should probably rotate the peats in case the light is better at the middle... just to give the edge ones a bit of a boost.
(though I suspect the middle ones look fullest because that's where I dumped the leftover seeds when I had seeded each peat a couple of times).

NOTE TO SELF: Must learn how to save seeds from these petunias so I can have them again next year, mixed-pastel colours and all! I love the smell!

Meet the Coleus!

Here they all are!

Since I talk about them so bloody often it sounds like an obsession...
here are the basic SIX designs of coleus that I am maintining this
year - hereinafter referred to as "models":

1) Basic red "pointsettia" model (my 2nd year wintering this one; from Fall 2007 cutting)

2) Lime with red veins model (1st year; from Fall 2008 cutting) - this one's just a baby, a very recent graduate of which I'm quite proud!

3) Orangey-pinky model (2nd year wintering; this one is fussy and doesn't do well in cool temps, ie my basement... but it looks great in the garden!)

4) Ruffley red model (dragon?) (2nd year) - a little showy, even though I hate the word showy! Last year it didn't do well in the cold basement, and I actually lost a few... I guess the hardiest ones survived, because it's having no problem this year.

5) "Basic" pink-cored model - I bought a super-cheap dozen of coleus annuals last summer to fill in gaps in the bed (1st year)... may as well grow my own dozen this year!

6) Kong Pink speckly type model purchased last spring. Its leaves are wrinkly and it has a very bushy habit so I haven't been able to take any cuttings indoors... I just realized that tonight, so pulled one off to root on the windowsill. Hopefully I'll get two of these to plant out; probably not more...

Hopefully you can figure out which is which, or maybe I'll edit this post so the pics line up with my commentary. [I did!]

And I actually managed to get a few of today's windowsill "graduates" potted up - I'm doing them two to a pot now so that a) I don't run out
of space, and b) it'll be easier to hand them over for trades etc in the spring if I have spares.

Haven't done a count yet, but I'd imagine this brings us up over 40... not sure how I count the pots that have two in them yet: do they count as a single coleus or two??

Hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I do... though it's hard to imagine, as I really am droning on. ;-)

I'm fweeky bwilliant!

Yay! I have the BEST, best idea for shalach manos this year. I decided already that the theme would be "FOREVER SUMMERTIME".

Dumb, if you remember that last year's theme was "SPRING AT LAST"... but who's going to remember?

Okay, most people will probably remember the poor, doomed sunflowers we left on their doorstep... and maybe the poem as well:

"It’s a great time of year to get outside & growing!
With raking and hoeing, with seeds we are sowing.
This Purim we’ve chosen a “gardening” theme:
Spring’s taken so long that it felt like a dream.
But soon we’ll see buds and branches and shoots,
Soon little veggies will spread out their roots.
May your flowers grow strong, may they cling to the soil,
Like the Jews cling to Torah in times of turmoil.
May your spring grow so bright & so easy and sweet…
And may the seeds of redemption soon “grow” complete!"

Yes, a little heavy at the end for such a lightweight ditty, but anyway... they were generally well-received. Even though I'm sure most people's did not survive. My mother's did, for a while, but got too tall in its window and finally keeled over. Dini's lasted - she's like that.

For those who don't know what shalach manos are, they are packages that we send out for the holiday of Purim coming up on March 10. The requirement is to send one package to one friend with two food items in it. From there, we've extrapolated and generally send out thirty packages to thirty friends and relatives with 2-5 food items... and a wild assortment of cheapo kitsch that in the past has included noisemakers, whistles, fake flowers and, last year, live sunflowers grown by me at home. Oh, in Hebrew, they're called Mishloach Manot... "shlach manos" is a Yiddish corruption of the same words.
(or, as my bubby used to say: "shalachamoonis")

Anyway, for this year, I decided the theme will be SUMMER.

Elisheva and I went to WalMart and picked up a bunch of cheesy "decoration-only" (ie no UV protection) sunglasses. And waterguns. And I have a tray of 30 petunias downstairs - I'll give them out in Dixie cups.

And then this picture gave me the final concept which makes me classify the whole thing as UTTERLY BWILLIANT: Lemonade. Instead of candy, I can put in a packet of KoolAid or CountryStyle or some other type of packet-based lemonade... to make the summertime theme utterly complete.

Sometimes, I am envious of people who give out big baskets of good stuff: whole packages of cookies, big bottles of grape juice. But like I told Elisheva at WalMart the other night, sometimes I am proud of our cheesy little family and our doubtless impovrished-seeming efforts. "Poor but cheerful," that's our family motto. Though "Frummie Trailer Trash" was a close second...
Rich in love and laughter, though maybe not enough laughter lately.

So yay, me! Now all I need is costumes for the ENTIRE FAMILY.
And for Ted to be off work that day so we can work out our megillah timing and delivery schedule.
I don't want Purim this year. I feel myself pushing, pushing to keep it away.

What a cliché, right? "It's especially hard at the holidays."
I thought they meant the serious, family-oriented holidays... not the ones where you're supposed to dress up as Elvis and drink 'till you're blurry. But my father did love a good l'chaim.

Supper tonight:
(ha! Did you think I'd forget supper?)

~ Chili with cornbread. Seems like we have it every week, but according to a quick blog search, the last time was January 27th! :-o
(Hey! What helpful ammo in case the kids try to tell me we always have something like pea soup or polenta...)

For chili, this winter I have been buying Tabatchnik FROZEN chili, which is tasty on its own but not enough for everybody, and then doctoring it with: tinned tomatoes, tinned beans and taco seasoning. More fibre, more veg, more flavour! The frozen packages are only about $2, because they've been on sale so much. Everybody likes it... well, except Naomi, but she doesn't like anything.

~ Refried black beans from scratch, because I tried tinned ones a couple of weeks ago and BLAH. Mine are so tasty they sing in the frying pan. Those were more like flavourless paste. I think they were Eden brand - NOT recommended, even with salt added (they call them "lightly salted" on the package).

Hmm... I think that's pretty much it for supper. Naomi has swimming lessons, so we eat late, and for once, Ted's home this evening. Maybe I'll mix it up while he takes her to swimming.

Garden Update:
Transferred some windowsill coleus to pots and stuck them under the grow lights.
Still no visible growth on the coleus in the Lee Valley self-watering "seed starter."
MUST get wintersowing some more - there are a few more tomatoes I want to sow before the weather warms up.
MUST start parsley and maybe other herbs... indoors.
But maybe it should wait 'till after the petunias go out with the shalach manos.
Oh, and just maybe ... I should wash some dishes while my kiddies sleep!!!
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just the supper

~ Chicken-based Pea soup reheated from last Wednesday's post. Just asked Ted and he says it's less than a week so it's fine.
~ Cabbage Rolls - my mother made and brought these for Shabbos dinner
~ Plain Basmati Rice, for the picky eating crowd
~ Leftover from Shabbos Pumpkin-Barley Risotto*
~ Corn, some leftover some fresh from frozen
That should keep starvation away for another day.

* I was looking for a grain / side dish for Shabbos and happened on the most wonderful combination!
A bit of white wine... half a tin of pumpkin... (NOT pumpkin pie filling, just plain packed pumpkin!)
Turned out moist and flavourful and delicious.
More of an inspiration than a recipe, but I hope it will inspire others if I put it out here!

Blah. Paid over $2100 today to fix somebody else's car. They must be shellacking it with diamonds while it's in the shop. The repair-shop guy says he'd estimate about 75% of collision repairs are paid by a "third party," ie the person responsible, rather than putting it in to the insurance. What a scam those companies are running.

I don't even want to get up out of this chair even to reheat supper... glad I don't have to cook.

Oh - last night's supper was amazing, though!

~ Hot & sour soup - we had chicken broth coming out our ears from Shabbos because my mother wanted to make/bring soup but we also thawed some that had been in the freezer for months... and then made fresh soup just for good measure! So I made fabulous fresh hot and sour soup. What more need I say? Even Elisheva said, after initially complaining about yet another meat meal, that the soup alone could be a meal in itself. (bok choy, shiitake, corn)
But no, because it was accompanied by...
~ Peanutty-sauce stirfry (broccoli, sweet peas, bean sprouts) over...
~ Fettucine noodles

Lots of prep but extremely yummy & worthwhile.

Sara called yesterday. I think I was grouchy and antisocial.
The neighbour (wife) called from the hospital; he was supposed to come home yesterday afternoon, but I suspect it didn't happen 'till today because that's when I spotted the AmbuTrans ambulance out in front of their house. I hope everything is okay, and I want to be nice and supportive, but this week, I simply do not have the energy.

So I guess this post was NOT just the supper after all.
But now YM is here and he has school work to do.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I have been avoiding eating there

Because it's not the same, of course, without Daddy.
It's not the same and it's not even an acceptable kind of different.

But I think it makes my mother happy to open her home, and it makes me happy that my home stays relatively neat for a few hours.

So everybody wins.
I should have let her reimburse us for supper, but I ummed and whatever about the price because honestly, $30-40 for some slicey meats is a drop in the bucket compared to what I'll need to fix these people's car tomorrow.

I am so sad and frightened.

Sunday Supper @ Mommy's

We ate at my mother's house tonight, which I still call "Bubby-Zeidy house" to the kids.
Picked up slicey meats, po salad and coleslaw at Toronto Kosher, Rye Bread and Rugelach at Grodzinski:  SUPPER.
That's it, folks.
Oh, and some reheated chicken soup from Shabbos.

Know what I just realized???

Crashing a car sure beats the bejeepers out of washing a library book in terms of ditziness, confusion and distractedness! Not to mention how bloody much it will end up costing our world.

Like my mother quotes quite a lot these days... "I was feeling pretty blue when along came a little bird who sat on my shoulder and told me, 'cheer up, things could always be worse.' So I cheered up - and sure enough, things got worse."
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My Moron Reward

To reward my stupidity for hitting the car on Friday,
(oh - did I mention our phone was cut off on Thursday night because I was too dumb and put off paying it?)
yes... so.

To reward my stupidity for getting the phone cut off.
And my stupidity for hitting the car on Friday.

For not at all deserving the love of the good people who are no longer here to see me mess up my life.
And also because today I was a good friend, a decent mother, and paid some bills.
And paid back YM for some of the money we swiped from his bank account.
And paid back EC for some of the money I swiped from her bank account last week.

I splurged and spent $10 U.S. on eBay seeds... having been too dumb to learn my lesson about eBay seed sellers.
Anyway, I had a smallish credit for the petunias, so it was about $8 and free shipping because I ordered ten packets.

These are their pictures:

I am such a sucker for flower pictures now. I promised Elisheva Chaya this hobby would pass quickly, in a year or two... but secretly, I hope it never will.
Here are their names:

330298470354 - White Flowering Astilbe Seeds FEATHERY FLOWERS
330294845403 - Zinnia Seeds "Green with Envy"
330293903561 - Delicate White Sweet Williams Flower Seeds
330290355125 - Chamomile Flower Seeds Delightful Apple Scented Flowers
330289651308 - 20 Assorted Colors Grape Hyacinth Seeds
330267885075 - 10 Heliotrope Flower Seeds VANILLA SCENTED FLOWERS
270325666168 - Delicate Pink & White Sweet Pea Mix Flower Seeds
270309966696 - Purple Allium Seeds Sale!! LATE SPRING BLOOMER!!
270308530909 - White Swan Coneflower Echinacea Seeds HERBAL PLANT
270272772669 - Sundial Portulaca Seeds COLORFUL IN HANGING BASKETS!!!

A few have been on my WANTS list for a while: Heliotrope, Astilbe, White Coneflower.

A couple are for my mother's garden, to surprise her: mostly the Portulaca, because the ones she planted brought her so much joy last year.

And a few of the others were just to bring the total to ten because I'd rather pay for seeds than shipping!

So there.
Sticking out my tongue in defiance of this world where money just seems to matter so bloody much.

My mother-in-law in Calgary just emailed to say she needs some paperwork from me ASAP... drat, drat, drat.

She asked a couple of months ago, but then Israel, and funerals... and blah. She still needs it.
And so another week begins.

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I hit a car

We had a lovely time at the ball pool and met up with Charlene and her husband and twinnies there - they're 19 months old already! :-o

I also had coffee with friend this morning. Such a nice thing! I picked her up at about 10:15, and then we talked for literally 2 hours. Amazing!

But yes, on Friday morning, after dropping Ted at work, I went to Superstore and in the parking lot I have no idea what I was doing, pulling forward to a better parking space, looking literally nowhere, I guess - the world was kind of out of focus and I did hear a distant beep beeping sound.

And then my car was in the middle of someone else's car and I was rushing out the door and telling them how sorry I was. Nice older Israeli couple with a brown Buick that I have solemnly vowed to repair on their solemn promise that they'd call me with the estimate without notifying the insurance.

I'm dead if it goes to the insurance.


We have no money to repair our own car, let alone someone else's car, but again, it'll be thousands upon thousands every single year if the insurance gets wind of it.

I really shouldn't be driving.

I keep saying it's just money, it's not the end of the world.
What the heck was I looking at, though?
I told the people in the car that I was distracted by the kids, but the truth is, the kids had been dead silent at the time. I wasn't looking at them, I wasn't turned around.

I was just staring at the world and not seeing it, like I was some kind of zombie.
Our car is fine, by the way. Stupid flimsy Buick, definitely all dented in, it's going to be some big repair, plus renting them a replacement car for three days or whatever it takes to fix it. Blah.

Gam zu l'tovah, right? This is all part of the plan for where our money is supposed to be going... into the pockets of the nice Roy Foss Pontiac Buick Repair Zone Folks.

I'm a total moron, but I have cute kids. I hope they will redeem me somehow, someday.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Roundup: Must-have RAVE products o' th' Week!!!

A few items I have discovered in my frequent raids on health-food stores recently... and now can't live without.

First up, because Sara started me on a decent-chocolate kick, is the White with Nibs 100g bar from Coco Camino. It's fair trade and goodness knows what else... but it's probably not that good for you. :-)
100% yummy-licious. Though purists would probably have you understand that there really is no such thing as "white" chocolate. Because they take out the chocolate and it's just made with the cocoa butter (from what I understand).

Here's the manufacturer's description, which is luscious and accurate enough to make me forgive the lousy tiny picture on their website: "We’ve invented an ice cream that won’t drip all over your shirt! Incredibly creamy white chocolate with delectable cocoa nibs."

Anyway, continuing on the "coco" theme... (I'm sure my teeth are full of nibs now from the bits I've consumed while writing this)

I tried to get into Coconut Water before Gavriel Zev was born, but it seemed distinctly unappetizing to me while I was pregnant. It's apparently quite good for you - the original sports beverage, all electrolyte-balanced and whatnot. According to WW2 legend, it was apparently even used as IV fluid (straight from the coconut into your veins) to hydrate wounded soldiers in the Pacific. Oh-kay!

Anyway, this brand, Vita Coco, has a star-K hechsher and is quite yummy. It's sweet but not sweet, kind of filling the place where a soda beverage would go with a one-ingredient, natural-sourced drink. Shouldn't take the place of water, tea, and other zero-calorie beverages, but at 60 calories in a 330ml tetra pak, definitely the lesser of many evils.

Oh, and if you find the tetra pak itself kind of evil... it's also available in a larger "Tetra-brick" size so you can pour off individual servings. It is also available in a range of flavours, none of which I have tried beyond Boring Basic Coconut.

Finally, there's this pick from the "healthful Cheesies" department: Neal Brothers Organic Cheese Twists.

The official website tagline is a little insipid: "A crunchy little twisty cheesy with a velvety cheese taste! Kids, of all ages, LOVE these healthier-than-your-average cheesy snack!"

(I personally tend to throw away the cheese when it starts to acquire a "velvety" taste)
(and yes, I noticed that superfluous comma... hyphens must have been on sale at the same time, though they did put the brakes on that run-on word after not too long)

Anyway, I am always on the prowl for kosher cheese-flavoured anything, and these are fresh and somehow crispy and soft at the same time, so there you go. The hechsher is Kof-K.

And now, since I have mentioned the hechsher on the other two products, I would be amiss if I didn't go back and mention that the supervision on the Coco Camino bars is listed as a "Rabbi Abraham Hochwald" who is apparently the head of the Kosher Germany agency. The front page of the hechsher website also mentions he is no longer among the living (a fact not mentioned in his bibliography, also at the website). In any event, he looks reliable enough... zecher tzaddik livracha.
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Ah, the bitter, bitter ironies...

...Of my distracted life!

I found this old library book in Naomi & Gavriel Zev's room so I set it outside the room to remember to bring it out. OK, when I say "outside the room," I didn't want it getting lost and put away on the kiddie bookshelf, so I tossed it in the laundry hamper, knowing I was doing laundry in a few minutes so it would for sure get taken out.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, folks. Or if you know where I'm going with this.

I had no clue, and was, in fact, feeling pretty proud of myself for finally getting this Chanukah title out the door. (decent book, by the way! )

Now, normally, when I take the laundry downstairs, I presort it really carefully upstairs and only take down one basketfull at a time, whites or dark colours or brights or whatever, just the load I'm about to do. I don't like having a ton of laundry lurking for me in the basement.

But somehow, this week, I have managed to keep the laundry more or less under control and the basket only had a few items in it: not enough for a full load of any one colour/ shade, so I thought "what the heck... I'll just toss it all in" figuring maybe the whites wouldn't be as bright or the darks would be a bit linty, but at least it would all be clean before the weekend.

I'm telling you, I never do that. And I never use the laundry basket to store library books in... as I learned why when I went to transfer the clean laundry to the dryer and felt something go "thunk." The library book!


Supper tonight:

~ Homemade polenta (already made - I made it this morning while the baby slept!) with -? Um, no idea? Mushroom sauce? But we had a ton of mushroom gravy with the Tofurkey on Sunday night, so I don't know.
~ Pacific tetra-pack Creamy Tomato Soup
~ Maybe frozen peas?
~ We need something else - maybe salmon patties? Everybody likes salmon patties!

I'm running out of supper inspiration FAST. I need some warm weather and fresh garden produce!!!
I also turned around after the kids fell asleep and discovered it was 4 p.m. already. I guess they both played in their beds and "dawdle." I opened the door to the baby's room and snuck up on him chewing his feet. He jumped a bit when I talked to him (I said, "you can eat your feet later - it's sleep time."). I wasn't extra-quiet walking in or anything, but he was engrossed.

He's a little bit jumpy anyway. Ted says when the lion roared at the zoo (a pretty quite roar at a distance), he jumped a bit. He does it in my lap when we start watching a "Jono" parsha video, though I do warn him now that "the noise is going to come."

OK, must go have leisure time before everybody wakes up - slash - comes home. I'm sick of YM needing the computer the second he walks through the door. All his practice exercises and everything are on the computer... I wish they had a textbook or something. Maybe I should ask our friend Judy, who does math tutoring, if she has a decent Grade Nine math text.
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Hesperis / Phlox "Milkweed" Dilemma - the exciting conclusion!

The amazing things I learn every day!

In person, these two flowers look
very similar, trust me:
Hesperis matronalis - aka Sweet Rocket, Dame's
Rocket, etc

vs Phlox aka ... umm... Phlox.
I guess it gets enough puns
about "flocks and flocks" of them without making things worse by giving it a

Anyway, they look nothing alike here, but here's a
quick answer to my question from a poster on YouGrowGirl forums:

it's not a phlox. there's an easy way to tell: hesperis flowers have four
petals (crucifer family) phlox flowers have five petals (polemonia family)
So there it is.
It's a Hesperis. Kind of anticlimactic, actually...
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Or is it...

Hesperis matronalis (aka Dame's Rocket), as seen here???

Oh, argh, I'm so confused!

Now I'm convinced that it's the Hesperis, because the "tubes" at the centre of phlox are empty, and this site says the Hesperis "tubes" are actually a "mock tube around petal claws."

Plus, it's branchier than a phlox.

Whatever it is, I like it... hope it comes back this year! If it does, I'll take lots of close-ups and figure out once and for all what it is.

I also had no memory of the peony (right rear of the picture, and another one to the left) being so large last year. They kind of shrivelled up a LOT and I moved them. Hope they come back, too. After all this icky icky snow is done...

If anybody actually reads this who has plant knowledge, feel free to weigh in on this controversial PHLOX vs HESPERIS topic!

HOW could I have been so deluded?!?

For the last two years, I have greatly appreciated the happy milkweed volunteers that pop up in my garden and bring a few butterflies along with them to nibble.

And I just assumed this was another kind of milkweed until this evening when, scrolling through milkweed pictures in Picasa (yes, just dying to get growing already!) this picture jumped out at me.

It's not a milkweed.

It's nothing like a milkweed.

I have no idea how I could not have known that from the start, but to just go on assuming it's a milkweed when it looks nothing like milkweed.
Well... you can see how it's turned my whole world topsy-turvy.

Its Latin name is Phlox divaricata, and if you click the link, you'll see dozens of other pictures of the exact same plant in the exact same colour.

I think this page says it best when it describes the flowers as "Corolla lavender to purple, with tube to 2cm long, glabrous. Corolla lobes 5, spreading, spatulate to obovate, to 2cm long, 1cm wide. Stamens 5, unequal in corolla tube. Calyx tube to 3mm long, densely pubescent to glabrous. Calyx lobes 5, to +3mm long. "

OK, maybe a bit too technical. And mine isn't quite so hairy... which I think is called "pubescent", in fancy horticulture words. Oh, yes. Mine is more GLABROUS. The opposite of PUBESCENT. Our beloved plants teach us so much!
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