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Showing posts from May, 2009

New Garden Acquisitions

In a fit of whiny impulsiveness today, added a bunch of new garden friends, including : ~ Ornamental Purple Peppers (Explosive Ember?) ~ "Bush Pickle" Cucumbers - doesn't that sound like the ultimate euphemism??? ~ Green Zebra tomato (none of my wintersown seeds came up...) :-( And some slightly less exciting choices, including: ~ Regular sage (I have a tricolor, but not a regular one, and this had nice big leaves) ~ Italian oregano ~ Lemon thyme ~ "Pimento" red peppers (yes, this is the year of the pepper around here) Oh! Exciting! I was emptying out the "failed" wintersown containers today when I noticed... Seedlings! Finally sprouted in the Blackberry Lily container. They look like knives, like little teeny tiny irises, which makes sense because, according to this helpful page , they are in the iris family and NOT the lily family at all (unlike many things we call lily that are in the lily family, like Toad Lilies). Onions or garlic (I forget w

Week in Suppers

Sunday:  Stir-fried basmati rice, sweepo soup.  Mommy & Abigail.   Monday:  Ted was off work and BBQ'd  Hamburgers, hot dogs / sausage-thingies, baked beans, french fries.  Yum!  Mommy came by and I pretended it was Victoria Day (it being May 25th).   Tuesday:  Red-pepper quiche... and fiche stiques. (storebought crusts, storebought fish stix)   Wednesday:  Superstore chicken-and-potatoes day.   Tonight:  Yom Tov!    

Owel spotting

Seen on Craigslist.

Never mind!

Never mind - it was the bulb after all.  Stupid broken replacement bulb.  And 2 burnt-out CFLs... coincidence?  But I guess we haven't changed them in a couple of years, so I cannot complain!   Back to baking Grama's famous Neapolitan Cake!   Dairy desserts:   ~ Ted-made cherry cheesecake ~ Gulab jamun  - they all fell apart, but still, delicious ~ Almond burfi ~ Beck Posluns' Neapolitan Cake   Boy, do I feel sorry about the fact that our only guests this Yom Tov are coming for Friday night - our only meat meal, when none of these dairy desserts can be consumed.  Maybe we can make kiddush, wash, have dessert, wait a while, then have the meat meal... :-)))   Elisheva blessedly agreed to bathe the littles.  Mmm... peace and quiet, out here at least, while all the screaming is confined to the (now-dimly-lit by a 40w bulb) bathroom.


2 days of rain, Elisheva's room is leaking, and now the bathroom light won't go on.  These things must be connected, since the bathroom is just on the other side of Elisheva's room wall.  I thought it was a lightbulb burnt-out (CFL but still, they must wear out sometimes), so I changed the bulb and now neither light goes on; the room is totally dark. (okay, there's a window, but it's gloomy outside!!!)

A stabbing

There was a stabbing in the park across the street the other night (last night?); I passed all the cop cars etc on my way out and saw a news truck on the way back. A neighbour phoned and left a message that "we have to do something."  Which left me wondering, what?  What is there to do???   Here's what I emailed her back tonight.  Like all my Deep Thots these days, not very satisfying, but it's a start. Honestly, I don't feel concerned about that specifically... I try to make sure I am in the right place at the right time (guess I'll do all my drug deals away from that playground from now on).   I don't want to dismiss your legitimate fears.  There are always terrible things that could happen.  Most of the ones I can imagine involve my children (and refusing to nap is the least of it!).   It's too easy and too trite to say Hashem's in charge... I figure I'll meet him halfway and exercise reasonable

Disorganized Shavuos menu

It’s tomorrow night, and this is all I’ve come up with so far… eek. Sad Shavuos Menu 2009   Thursday Friday Shabbos Sunday Lunch   Dairy – Just us Soup – squash? Blintzes Ted’s Salmon Dairy Desserts Lunch – Mommy Neapolitan cake   Dinner Dairy – Just us Gefilte fish Soup – squash? Tortellini “lasagna” Beets roasted Dairy Desserts Meat - Borers, M&S Gefilte fish Chicken Soup Egg lokshen Shake n’ Bake Veg? Pareve Desserts     All the pareve stuff just tumbled down from the shelf where we keep it and I think the fo

Cranky Complaints-Lady Eats General Mills for Breakfast!

So we bought & ate a box of Reese Puffs that came with a General Mills "everyday celebrations" (ha!) incentive code that you're supposed to redeem at their website for a kids' book or magazine mini-subscription (3 issues). And I promised Naomi Rivka that we'd get Chirp magazine... I figure she loves magazines, what could be cuter? Ha. And ha again. Sent at General Mills' website last week: I finally managed - despite lengthy delays during the registration and logon process - to access your Everyday Celebrations site to enter a code from our cereal box. Now when I enter the code, the site is telling me "An unexpected error occured." (by the way, the word "occurred" is properly spelled with TWO r's.) In any event, I would like to redeem this Reese Puffs code for a subscription to Chirp for my daughter. Please help. To which they responded: Thank you for contacting General Mills with your inquiry. Register your name and mailing a

Look what I managed to not kill yet!

Yes, it’s the mango from two weeks ago … growing happily, and right now outdoors in the rain!

Things that ROT!

So many of my posts focus on things that are growing… that I haven’t spent much time updating you on what’s ROTTING in our yard! Yup, it’s our multifaceted home composting operation, and it seems to be in full-swing for 2009; yay! First of all, the worm composter , celebrating exactly one month in our family: On the left side is what’s left of the original vermicompost which the composter was mostly full of when I bought it.  Not much left; I’ve used it in most of the tomato planters and a few other areas of the garden (picking many worms out along the way – and doubtless losing some – because I was too lazy initially to sort them out). On the right is “clean” bedding – a mix of straw (hay?) and the “tushie” sections from Now Magazine, torn into strips (so it was never really clean – ha ha ha). No worms visible on the surface, but if you dig down just a bit with my trusty Trake… there!  See ’em?  They’re everywhere !!! I have been feeding the vermicomposter once or twice

Are you a good witch or a BAD witch???

Neither!  I’m with my friend, the Tin Man, here, and we’re off to see the wizard!   (the witch’s face is coloured on top of shiny tape so theoretically, it’s removable)

Easy, cheap garden marker how-to

Yes, they’re window-blind slats, which you can find everywhere in the garbage, except last year when I was actively looking and never found any. Anyway, I think they look quite spiffy!  Sharp as anything, though.  The marker says light resistant, but I’m sure they will fade.  The blinds will probably last forever, though, and I love the big chunky size of them.  As you can see, these are not all veg.  I have decided to label everything I have deliberately planted in the garden.  Whenever I go to gardens, I feel frustrated not knowing what things are.  Hopefully these will be discreet enough as to not be garish while being slightly informative.  They’re for the backyard, anyway.  If it’s awful, I can just rip the whole thing out and nobody will be the wiser. There are 24 tags here, but I actually need 32 just for the two main square foot beds.  Gardening books I’ve read say this is a good task for a chilly winter’s evening.  Sit down and cut a million mini-blinds and label them


While I’m on a “nostalgic for Naomi’s infancy” kick, we’re officially weaning.  In the sense that I told her she can’t have nummies anymore when she wakes up.  It’s only for sleep-time now.  Should we have gone cold turkey? I dunno… I feel like an awful guilty incompetent mama any which way.  Especially the mornings that Ted’s not here to whisk her away and feed her breakfast instantly.  Especially when she has to watch the baby get nummies when she can’t have it. This morning, both littles woke up simultaneously (he’s usually up at 6:30, and she’s more like 8, but today, they both slept ‘till 8:00!). So I changed both diapers (both wet; his are more likely to be dry than hers in the morning, these days) and had Naomi bring a book (Veterinarians) to my bed so I could lie down and nummy Gavriel Zev while we read together. She cried a little bit, and then got very involved in the veterinarians book (one of those “career choice” type of books for little kids, with lot

Thinning the Robeez stash!

Down from however-many I couldn’t even count the number of pairs  (a few months ago)…   Heartbreaking, to imagine never needing these again.  :-o I am Freecycling these 4, which were among my favourites.  The elephants are not actually Robeez, but in fact they are just as cute and the leather is softer.  The lions were Naomi’s also but held up amazingly well.  I will sure miss Robeez now that he’s walking… Yup, you read that right.  Walking, talking, what a big boy.  Or, as he says, “bohhhhhh.”  While signing “boy.”  It’s very cute.

Centaurea Montana prepares to flower

I love the build-up to flowers!!!  More even than the flowers themselves???

The WW of SI, Part 2

(aka The Wonderful World of Sub-Irrigation) So I made a second “WalMart Tub” sub-irrigated planter – waaaah-la!   This one is more elegant inside, trust me (I was in a hurry to set it up before tonight’s rain so didn’t take pics before filling it. Inside:  one “Early Tiny” cherry tomato (that’s not its name, but it had no name; I got the seeds last year in an envelope marked “Cherry Tomato Trio” and saved seed from the one I grew out – most delicious, and yes, it was my earliest tomato!), plus one Sweet Chocolate Sweet Pepper purchased at Gufferin Drove Marmers’ Farket 2 weeks ago. Okay, I know already… a tomato PLUS a pepper is too much to ask from one planter.  But these are big planters, sub-irrigated (or self-watering, if you like the image of a thirsty planter reaching for a hose), full of delicious soil, worm castings, blood & bone meal, and whatnot.  And they’re only cherry tomatoes.  Let’s just see what happens. (I have laid aside my Creutzfeldt-Jakob – slash –

No dipping – but *why* not?

Gavriel Zev is eating a baked potato and I bought strawberry milk at the grocery store as a treat for them.  Anyway, when I came back up from doing laundry, he was very nicely, very carefully dipping his potato half into the strawberry milk. He loves dipping! Just like Naomi did at that age, I think dipping - in ketchup, veggie dip, etc. - allows babies to "cook" and "customize" their food in a way that must be liberating after a year and a half of having everything served up just the way you're supposed to eat it. And, of course, this being the Great Age of Experimentation, there's always the chance that something unexpectedly amazing could happen if you dip a potato half in strawberry milk.  Like it could start to fizz, or could turn into a peach, or, really, anything.  Because the world must seem totally random anyway to a 20-month-old. Anyhow, nothing amazing happened, and then Mean Mama came in and took the milk away after the second tim

More on Atheism...blah, blah, blah...

Yes, I'm still reeling, or rather, thinking, about this post from last week. Sorry to keep going on about this if you're here for garden stuff. Click here if that’s all you’re interested in! So:  Growing up, my attitude towards Jewish observance was "live and let live." We do what we do, which is perfectly fine, and they do what they do... and as long as I don't impose my beliefs on them (ie, leave them alone), and they don't impose their weird customs (like Shabbos, or eating kosher) on me, then we'll all get along just fine. I was thrilled to be part of the Conservative movement, as I perceived it, which was presented to me as the perfect merger between Judaism's long intellectual tradition and the freedom of modernity. Not too much, not too little... it had a strong, warm, traditional feel, without being overly strict about what you could and could not do. At my bat mitzvah, I had procrastinated for weeks about writin

Hmm…. and now it’s a week of rain ahead…

(further to Friday’s post ) What I don’t understand, have NEVER understood, is how they can put the little “rain” symbol next to the day if there is less than a 50% chance of rain??? I mean, I don’t have a math background or anything (unless you count that first-year calculus course; oh, and algebra… and all that computer programming stuff), but doesn’t that mean it will probably NOT be a day of rain? But with all these nice rainy symbols ahead, there’s got to be some moisture in it for my plants – and my now-empty rain barrel! Evening POSTSCRIPT:  Apparently it did rain this morning!  That explains why the eavestrough was dripping (blah).  And why the rain barrel is no longer totally empty, though it is still almost there.

Well, this is reassuring...

Looking at our rather Seussian-looking Turkish Hazel tree that the city planted for us three (four?) springs ago now (outlined for emphasis!), I just keep thinking, "it keeps growing up and up and UP" with no width in sight. So I Googled and found this on a website : "A splendid and truly beautiful tree from south east Europe and west Asia. A large and imposing tree, rather columnar when young before broadening to a symmetrical pyramid on maturity. Notable for its roughly textured, corky bark, it produces long, yellow catkins in early spring and clusters of fringed nuts in autumn. Turkish Hazel is a superb choice for parkland and avenue planting, and it will tolerate paved areas." "Rather columnar when young" is what reassured me.  Columnar is another word for Seussian-slash-absurd, right??? Mommy & I are maybe planning a trip out to Humber Nurseries for Tuesday.  I have a coupon left from Canada Blooms, plus they have butte

No rain, blah…

See Sunday’s post for an exciting weather-related update!

From certain angles…

If you squint… The front yard doesn’t look terrible.  :-) For comparison, here’s where it was about the same time last year: Just for fun, here’s Naomi with the “baby trees” that were brand-new last year (and the neighbour’s truck door jeopardizing their wellbeing!!!): They haven’t grown much, but they do look quite a bit more “settled” since last summer.

Suppers this week!

Monday:  (holiday, but Ted was working; Glen Cedar Park with Mommy) Mommy bought stuff for deli sandwiches and we all went over there.  Ted took the Littles to fireworks later at Glen Cedar Park. Tuesday:  (Laughlin Park with another mama in the a.m. – locked out of the car, so no aerobics) Shabbos-leftover chicken pie, seen above Wednesday – trek to High Park with Abigail, swimming, everybody’s classes, etc Chicken baked over rice (yes, chicken twice in a row. Thursday (that’s today!): (dance class, Home Depot, my aerobics class) Scalloped potatoes with a layer of salmon and cottage cheese in the middle and tinned cream-of-mushroom drenched over the whole thing.  Pretty tasty, but no cheesy crunch to it. Creamy carrot / ginger / coconut-milk soup. Tinned green beans. Tomorrow night is another Shabbos potluck at the Silvers.  Mmmm… I am making my oven-baked rice-dish thing that is super-easy and seems to get eaten fairly quickly.

The wonderful world of sub-irrigation!

I caved and decided to do an experiment in self-watering (ie sub-irrigated) veggies.  I was inspired by this site , which has some decent info on urban gardening, though it’s a little harsh on the term “sub-irrigated” (I don’t think the term “self-watering” is all that confusing unless you picture the little planter running back and forth to the rain barrel (as I have been doing ALL week – it’s almost empty!). Total project cost:  $11 , plus soil/compost I already had, plus an X-acto knife I bought myself and some duct tape plus a storage tote bin we already had (yeah, so there are kiddie clothes that used to be inside it strewn all over the living room now – so what???).   $6 for the EPS foamboard (which actually was large enough to do two boxes easily), and $5 for the pipe – I went for the premium “elbow-bend” pipe so the bottom wouldn’t rest flat on the bottom of the tote box. Total time:  about half an hour, in several installments due to kiddie-interruptions.  The low cost a

hanging veggies in reusable fabric grocery bags

MUST. SLEEP. NOW. Wrote this earlier to post in a forum where I'd asked about growing veggies in grocery bags. Thought I'd copy/paste it here as well: Well, the experiment is underway! I now have 2 bags of potatoes kind of suspended from the gate across my driveway competing with 2 very large pots of potatoes (the ones my emerald cedar came in a few weeks ago). Plus, one commercial hanging tomato planter (Vesey's Revolutionary Tomato planter) competing with a homemade hanging-grocery-bag planter. For the potatoes, I used the large President's Choice large-size ($1.99) black bags. The tomato is in one from a health-food store in Ottawa, about the same size. The soil in all of them is kind of a mix of PC planter soil with peat, vermiculite, home-grown worm castings, PC composted cow manure, city compost, and whatever other good stuff I could get my hands on. So not really a good experiment, as there are no control groups. But le

Why it's important to read your own blog

Just noticed this post and realized I still have a mango pit (I hope) in the basket of the folded-up in-the-car carriage.  :-o Thursday postscript:  as of last night, the seed has been removed from its husk ( click here for more info on sprouting mangoes, which seems to have become an obsession of mine) and it is now safely germinating – I hope - in a baggie above the fridge.

My total failure as a homeschool mama

YM has some very tight deadlines to finish his courses by mid-June, and several (okay, many) things are due this week.  Fair enough.  Tonight, he also had a job interview for a day camp he applied to (he probably won't get the job, if only because he's away for most of August, but I wanted to support him).  So we talked ahead of time about how much work he'd have to do today (three half-hour sessions, at least:  one for each subject).  And he did some before supper.   After supper (slicey meats at my mother's house), we took off for his 7:25 interview.  In the car, we talked about how he was going to use the computer as soon as we came home to do his schoolwork, that I was not going to use the computer (despite my having a deadling tonight!) so he could get his things done, etc.    While he had the interview, I was planning to pick up Ted, so when I dropped him off, I started to say we'd be back at 8 to pick him up, but thought better of it:  if Ted

Naomi at the playground; the sky so blue

Ode to a tansy

I bought this thing pretty much by accident… in all my reading about attracting beneficial insects two years ago, everything I read recommended tansy and yarrow, tansy and yarrow.  Yarrow was easy enough to find, but tansy was tougher. Especially cuz it sounds like “pansy.”  Two garden centres thought I meant “pansy” and at Plant World there was a bit of a comedy of errors when one worker called to another on their cheesy walkie-talkies because even though one was saying “tansy” (because I’d explained it to  her clearly), the other was hearing “pansy” and sending her to the Annuals section. Anyway.  It turned out the only tansy they had was this one, golden tansy, which may or may not have been “Isla Gold” because I have no idea what happened to the tag.  I hummed and hmmed because I wasn’t sure it would invite the right crowd of bugs (shouldn’t have worried!) and because I hadn’t yet been converted to the school of “golden” plants (Elisheva still hasn’t been, and maintains that ye

An Atheist???

Someone I thought I knew pretty well shocked me yesterday, utterly shocked me, by casually mentioning that she's an atheist.  I am still blown away.   How could you have the arrogance to say - based on however-many, a fairly small number, of years' experience - that despite the many riches our tradition has to offer, it is utterly misguided on the existence of God.  That every single rabbi, ever, has been completely and totally wrong about this one key thing.   Sorry; I said I was blown away, and it's true.  I can't even respond articulately. Even when I didn't actively believe in God, and some days are still like that, I wouldn't have had the chutzpah to say "I've given it some thought, enough to comfortably conclude that he doesn't exist."   Maybe I'm just a wimp, hedging bets.  Growing up, I always used the term agnostic, and still like it a bit.  Jewish tradition even likes it a bit.  We're really supposed to be caref

Friday: Garden highs and lows

Thought I’d get back to doing this, since I enjoyed last summer having to narrow all my garden experiences down to just one high and one low… give or take a couple! Garden high: Definitely Black Scallop Ajuga. Deep, dark, and it totally glistens… brand-new, but it’s already starting to spread, and it flowered just a couple of days after I planted it:  how obliging can one plant get??? Here, you can see it pitted against its stalwart opponent:  the backyard dandelion.  Who will win?  Whose shade of green reigns supreme??? Garden low: Seems like the leaf miners have found my columbines… again. Their burrowing doesn’t really harm the leaves, and I read in a gardening book that some people pretend their distinctive burrowing trails through the leaves’ innards are just a special kind of variegation. This summer, I will pretend I have a unique, super-special variegated columbine.  Or, as Elisheva says, with just a bit of a lisp, ’ peshal . Sneaky highs that don’t count beca

Can you spot 43 coleus in these pictures???

  Love that “big daddy” emerald cedar! They’re in there… keep looking!

Gah - caffeine

Just figured out why I'm still wide awake at 2 a.m.... coincidentally the same day as the Iced Tea Season was officially inaugurated in our home.  :-o Bah.   Waah!  Must wake up early and go swap plants.


I can't believe it! Last night they (it? he? gotta be a he ...) got one tomato and one pepper (MiniMix bell pepper) seedling.  The ones that were planted in pairs seem to be okay; maybe the pairs confound the critter.   I have poked a stick down next to one of the tomato seedlings in the hopes that it will foil the thing.


I just do not have fun.  I realize it's not about having fun... it's not even about being happy , as Dennis Prager would probably point out.   But still.   Yelling at the boy to get out the door before Shabbos - ugh. Sure, he lied about what time he left school and went to the library instead (I called his rosh yeshiva to check). He lies about everything he can get away with. Hardly anything he says is true.   And the girl is intermittently polite, alternating with screaming fits.   Which maybe she gets from me, though I really do try not to scream.   I just don't have fun.  Did I say that already?  

Naomi’s Questions for Sara

Sara, the leader of one of the programs I take the kids to was in a bike accident last week.  Naomi’s been very concerned about her, and coincidentally we bumped into her (gently, I promise!) at Dufferin Grove Park. I asked how she was doing, when she’d be back at work, etc, and she mentioned she lives near the park.  Then we said goodbye and headed home. In the car on the way home, Naomi Rivka was shooting rapid-fire questions at me, over and over… so finally, I said we could write down all the questions when we got home (once I got supper in the oven).  She was happy about that, and for once, I actually did something I promised without needing to be reminded. Here they are, written verbatim as Naomi tried to remember them once we got home (they’d lost a bit of the urgency she’d expressed right after we left the park): Later, after riding her tricycle up and down the street with Ted, Naomi mentioned she’d gotten into a “bike accident” where she tipped over onto the grass.  L