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Showing posts from July, 2009

Cranky Complaints-Lady and her Crazy Leeeaning Garden Hook!

Submitted at “ This spring, I purchased a " Moroccan Double Hook " (Product #59-0386-4) from a Canadian Tire store.  It is complete garbage!  Under the weight of two average-sized plant pots (one on each hook), after a couple of days of rain, the flimsy metal tube bent 90 degrees and smashed the flower pots down to the ground, crushing a nearby vegetable bed. I'd like a refund of the almost $25 I paid for this thing so I can buy a real shepherd's hook that will actually support the weight of two plants.  This hook looks good, but is made of flimsy metal that will not last an average season. Thanks!”

So hungry

But made it through the day.   Supper, to break the fast:   Fettucine with butter & parmesan Salmon pan-fried with butter & lemon Ace bakery bread with butter (umm... a pattern emerges!) Corn on the cob with butter & salt   Butter, butter, BUTTER!   Happy rest-of-summer, world!!!  

Hospitality, Richard-style

Welcome to the Kosher Gourmet!!!  Ted’s brother really does know how to make us feel welcome… this time, following Ted’s sole complaint last summer, with an assortment of PAREVE delights (I guess we had a lot of meat last time).  Only to be told we couldn’t eat meat at all.  We tried our best to show our full appreciation for this incredible bounty of delicious, kosher FOOD!        

Garden firsts and lasts!

These are the first nice carrots I have ever harvested from my own garden! And these are almost the last peas of the season.  I set aside one plant to be a “mother” to save seeds for next year’s peas (I marked it off with a clothespin so nobody would eat from it).  The other plants are still putting out a few pods here and there, but with the hot weather back this weekend, they’ll probably all die off soon…  

Tisha b'Av FAQ

Fully up-to-date for 5775 / 2015!!! NEW for 2015!  Download the entire reading of Megillas Eichah here .  (Email me if it doesn’t work; these Dropbox links expire from time to time, so it's nothing personal.) To add to this FAQ, just leave a question in the comments section or email me at Tzivia "at" and I'll happily add it if it's at all relevant. I started writing this FAQ years ago to explain Tisha b'Av to my husband's family, like about ten years ago.  And since everybody always asks the same questions, I thought I'd write them all down in one place.  I have been adding updates for the last 5 years or so. 0) Why are you fasting? Actually, this is the UNSPOKEN first question. Hardly anybody asks this! Maybe people just assume that Jews are always fasting for something or other and it's better not to get us started. If you want a lucid explanation, try Judaism 101 here . If you want my explanation, read on! Tisha b'Av

These aren’t even good!!!

  So why did I just eat a bowl of them??!?  It wasn’t a huge bowl, and they’re not terrible, but a little weird, bulky and ultimately, unnecessary. Chalk it up to Mysteries of the Universe.


I’m done!  It’s done!  I’m done! Now to make Shabbos… Shabbos?  What’s Shabbos? And why do I have a hunch my oven’s acting flaky?  When I took out the banana cake, and raised the temperature from 350 to 375 for the challah, it read 400 for a minute.  I turned it off and hope, hope, HOPE that the flakiness was transient.  I just repaid our friend-neighbour Judy for the last oven repair .

I am an orphan with big manga eyes

Chas v’shalom!  But look at those big blue eyes.  I brushed his hair, for a change, which left him slightly sleepy and dazed. Wrestling with Naomi.  Two damp, ready-for-naptime kids!  

Summertime Frap-u-chee-lo

Dunno why, but that’s what I’m calling this! 4 frozen coffee cubes, microwaved with 2 tsp condensed milk until hot – stir ‘till well-blended. Top up with 6 frozen coffee cubes and enough milk to reach the top. Looks like poetry, tastes like memories of my first grown-up iced coffee summers at the Roasterie in Calgary… If only summer would arrive here , and stay long enough to ripen my tomatoes! Watch; they’ll all turn red the minute I step on the plane to Calgary. YES, I’m working, I’m writing.  Gaack.  This is so horrible, it’s not funny.

Brown baby

Naomi Rivka:  "I call this my brown baby."   Me:  "Which one is it?"   "This one."  Holds up doll.   "Oh, because it has brown hair?"   "And brown eyes."   "Like us:  brown hair and brown eyes.  Like you, and like me."   "Like me .  Your hair is mostly white."   (((gaaah!)))   "What?  Where?"  (whip off tichel; good thing we weren't at the mall!) "Where's white hair?"   (she pokes at my head, pulls one strand away from the others)   "Your hair is so thin, most of it looks like it has no colour."   (look in mirror:  brown, brown, brown... not a single grey hair here, I swear!!)   Weird.


Shh… genius at work.  Okay, just me and my muzzy-from-baby brain.   But still:  a deadline is a deadline! (post-it freely plagiarized from this blog )


Just came across this while thinking about hats for YM for his new yeshiva...    


I never got a picture of my father's Uncle Yossel who we visited in Israel.  He looks just like my zeidy, but older, paler and kind of smooshed.  Shorter, fatter.  I remember my zeidy as very tall, though he was probably just normal adult size, and very strong, which he definitely was.  With tzitzis on the outside, which my grandfather, his brother, wouldn't have been caught dead wearing at all   We visited on the Wednesday we were there , but my (father's) Auntie Chana had yahrzeit that day and was in a hurry to get to the cemetery (I was amazed that her parents were buried in eretz Yisrael; most of her generation from Europe don't have graves to visit).   I put off taking a picture and finally, as we were getting up to go, I said, "can I just take a picture?"  And she said "on Monday."  We were going to go back on Monday with Ted and the littles, and so we'd take the picture then.   By Monday, we were sitting shiva in Canada (

Car rental AARGH!

Trying to arrange a car for our trip to Calgary in 2 weeks... you'd think a "Canadian owned and operated company" would quote its prices in CANADIAN dollars, right???   But no.   And the guy was so dumb about it when I finally caught on.  (they were too good to be true!) I was, like, "is that in Canadian dollars?" "No, that is in dollars." "Well, we call our currency dollars, so you can't just say 'dollars' if I tell you I'm in Canada, travelling to Canada, renting a car from a Canadian company.  Because to Canadians, 'dollars' means Canadian dollars.  So the total you just gave me - after I said that I live in Canada, and use Canadian dollars - is that rate in Canadian dollars?" "No, that price is in dollars."   Australians, too, I bet.   Morons.

YM's distance ed registration for September

Well, this was the easy part!  Slowly, slowly... three courses last year was SO hard:  I cannot imagine how we will cope with SEVEN. Plus full-time yeshiva, plus night seder, plus 3 other kids???  :-o   He wants to graduate properly, not get some rinky-dinky GED like the other kids... and I do agree that his yeshiva does not emphasize English subject enough to get him into university.   But, sheesh.  Just sheesh.  I'm tired just thinking about it.  Seven courses, times 20 modules each... equals 140 modules.  Divided by maybe 35 weeks in the school year = 4 modules per week.  Hmm.  That sounds doable, on paper.  With Yamim Tovim, there are probably more like 30 weeks,  however.  Which is FIVE modules per week.  One per day, Sunday through Thursday, rain or shine.   Maybe we can do it, after all... but I already know that some of these modules are going to be huge . Sigh. ---------- Forwarded message ---------- My son, {yup, ds1!}, was a student the 2008/2009 sch

Hmm… trial menu for Ottawa trip next week

One of the reasons I married Ted:  his list-making abilities! Went to start a food plan for our trip and, of course, he’s already got one going…   Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Breakfast At Home Cereal and cottage cheese Cereal and cottage cheese Cereal and cottage cheese Lunch Sandwiches in car Fresh Bagels Viva Pizza ??? Bagels in car Dinner Bakey tato bar Salmon @ ‘rents Pasta? Instant something? Home - seudah We’re not sure if Viva’s Pizza still

Cranky Complaints-Lady Plans a Trip!

To: Ottawa JCC, Cc: Israeli Embassy in Ottawa Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 10:39 PM Subject: Upcoming Events Dear [her name]: While planning a visit to Ottawa, I noticed two upcoming musical events listed on your website ( ):  the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival and "Soaring Beyond Expectation - Women in Composition" .   These events are being held next Tuesday and Wednesday, during the nine days leading up to Tisha b'Av, which is next Thursday.  These nine days are widely recognized throughout the Jewish community, as a time of mourning for the original loss of our spiritual and physical homeland (losses not yet entirely regained through the "reishit tzmichat ge'ulateinu," the modern-day State of Israel).   I'm surprised that the Israeli embassy, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, would sponsor such an event at this ti

What a difference a reservoir makes!

And now, we move on to the sub-irrigated section of the garden, which is veritably THRIVING! Sub-Irrigated Planter #1:  Children’s Garden Roma tomato, plus store-brought broccoli seedling.     Both doing great, though the tomato has no fruit forming yet.  But…I just noticed today that the broccoli has a flower!!! Sub-Irrigated Planter #2:  “Early Tiny” cherry tomato, plus Sweet Chocolate Sweet Pepper.       I love this tomato!  These are the seeds from an unknown cherry-tomato variety I saved from last year (got the seeds from ).  I guess “Early Tiny” isn’t really a good name, because this thing grows into a $#!%^ TREE, taller than me so far.  Like they say, the size of the fruit has no bearing on the ultimate size of the plant.  It is incredibly prolific, too, perhaps rivalling the Sweet 100 I bought, which has the huge drawback of being a hybrid, meaning I can’t save its seeds.  This is one I will for sure be saving for next year.  I al

SFG update – good, bad, ugly

Alright.  A quick update in case anyone cares.  Bad, bad, bad. They are light-deprived, nutrient-deprived and everything is doomed. But I love them anyway! Square Foot Garden Bed #1: Corn, beans and assorted melons are slowly, slowly starting to crowd out the first generation.  However, I cut back the leaf-minered chard to see if it would grow nice, unminered new leaves and sure enough, it’s actually looking quite edible, there in the back row.  The peas were starting to die back, and I was getting ready to pull them out, except the ones I’m saving for seed, but now, because the weather is cool, some are starting to bear again.  Aargh! Square Foot Garden Bed #2:   All that lettuce!  And now that it’s been hot and some bolted, I’m scared to eat it!  I bought some clearance cabbage and brussels sprouts seedlings at Fortino’s Garden Centre closing (2/25 cents), so I will try to pull out all the lettuce and start over with those cool-weather crops.  We shall see

The long and winding

Okay, dumb.  I pulled this hose reel out of the trash a while ago and it’s been sitting at the side of our house because it didn’t come with the 2-foot length that you use to attach it to the faucet.  So I had a mental note in the back of my head to pick up a short hose whenever I had a chance, maybe in the trash or something. Me and my mental notes. So of course, time passes and the hose reel becomes a permanent, useless fixture at the side of the house. Well, not entirely useless.  We wound the hose onto it last fall, which was nifty but entirely non-functional.  But at least it meant we could shovel the driveway without running into loops of hose. Yes, last fall .  Because I just figured out - you know where I picked it up from the curb, meaning to do something with it, and never getting around to it…? It was on my way to my friend Charlene’s baby shower . For her twins who are now two years old.  While I was pregnant with my baby who is himself turning two in a couple

July Garden Highs and Lows

Low, low, low would be the accidental tree-branch falling on one of the hanging side-door Ikea planters, breaking the hanger it was hanging from, toppling the whole thing upside-down, and de-spiking one of my ooltra-tacké Garden Fairies.  (it’s the Rake Fairy) The good news is that these were my “indestructible”, “bullet-proof” planters made up of the only plants I could find (creeping Jenny and ribbon grass) that could withstand conditions in these terribly small, impractical pots.  There they are on the bench right now, and you can see that while one looks a little flattened, the other two have taken their licking and kept right on ticking, not much the worse for wear. And the HIGH more than makes up for it:  my seemingly ever-bearing raspberries!  And I do mean ever! I thought, based on the last two years, that they’d produce a single crop in early summer and another in fall, but it turns out my old wise friend Emily (and I mean old in the sense of she’s been in my

Beautiful Day in the (Farmville) Neighbourhood?

No value judgements for what follows, please!  We’re all friends here, right?!? I have become slightly addicted to the World’s Stupidest Game on facebook. The “game” is that basically you run a small farm by planting crops, collecting eggs from animals, etc.  Fun, wow!  Wheeeee!  Eggs! But if you get really good at the game (I’m at Level 11), you can expand your farm to be able to plant even more pictures of crops and collect even more imaginary eggs from your cartoon animals. The catch – if it’s not enough of a catch that you’re wasting moments out of every precious day playing this moronic thing – is that you can only expand your farm by adding eight neighbours. I currently have only three neighbours (of whom I only know two in real life). That’s because the game is deathly dull… and I am such a snob, I only associate with smart people.   And all the people I know are too smart to play it. BUT here’s how you can help if you’re reading this!  You don’t have

So is there a hierarchy?

In this wacky world of stay-home moms, is there a hierarchy?  There certainly is a spectrum.  Many mamas mean different things when they say they’re home with their kid(s). For me, it means we are home.  If Ted is out, I am in.  When I was still teaching, I arranged most of my classes for days and times that Ted could stay in.  I still do for my own dentist appointments, etc. There have been a few times my mother or Sara had to babysit, but we’ve never had to hire a non-family babysitter to make money.  Thankfully, because it probably would have cost us more than we were earning.  But also because it’s family… there is almost always a family member with the kids. Of course, there were a few times before Pesach – and at other times - when our friend-neighbour Judy would come take out one or both of the little kids.  I guess she’s not family, but maybe if you stretch the definition a little… she’s known them since birth and is certainly around enough to almost count.

Feeling the pinch: it's all about the ratings!

Well, apparently my second-most popular post at the moment is the one about pinching tomatoes ! (the most popular is my Windows Live vs Picasa review post, which I have updated a few times in response to comments)   Expect to see many tomato-pinching-related posts in future! I LOVE pinching tomatoes! I even do it when I'm at other people's houses, just walk right up and shave their tomatoes' armpits, too.   It's kind of like coleus... once you know that they're not supposed to flower, that you are supposed to pinch them down to keep them bushy, you can't walk through somebody's garden and just smile and nod at the blue spikes of coleus flowers.  It's a compulsion:  you must DO something about it.  Or at least, I must.   My secret pleasure about pinching tomatoes:  I usually manage to get the suckers when they're tiny, but every once in a while, with twelve tomato plants or more on the go, I miss one and the sucker manages to at

Potato Disappointment, Year 3

So a few weeks ago, one of the hanging grocery potato bags flowered, and then the vines got very long and drooped. So I waited, and the vines got droopier, and finally, on Friday, I thought, “there must be some potatoes there by now.” Well, there were.  Some.  Maybe six? Not counting a few little pebble-sized spuds, here’s what I got from the entire bag.  Nice foliage… almost zilch underground.  :-o     The cucumber (in the right-hand picture) was disappointing also.  I was lazy and didn’t check which type it was (marketmore or Straight 8) but it was unpleasantly bitter.  I was surprised, because the cucumbers we’ve had from the garden in past were always way sweeter than supermarket ones. Two explanations I thought of:  despite the fact that the cuke was growing in a self-watering hanging planter, I was perhaps a bit inconsistent about water.  AND I guess I didn’t really wait for the cuke to ripen fully. BUT I don’t think those could be the main reason.  Becau

Beach Outing

In an attempt to build family togetherness, my desire to spend a day at the waterplay area of the zoo thwarted by rather cool, dank weather, I took all the kiddies to the beach! We have kind of a system:  I put one big kid in charge of drinks, snacks, etc., while the other is more or less responsible for getting the little ones out of the house and into the car.   Each big kid is responsible for their own sun hat… ha.  That one is like pulling teeth. It was almost pointless to put sunscreen on everybody, because the day was so dismal, but it actually worked out well because Naomi Rivka whined so much that the big kids couldn’t take any more and just put theirs on cheerfully. So here we are on the beach:     After a while of bird-watching, stone-sorting, stone-flinging, inukshuk-building and more thrilling waterside fun, we took off for the amazing, fenced-in playground at Kew Beach. I don’t usually say much about playgrounds, for the same reason that spit has no taste:  we

What is STUFF? Why is it so cheap? (or not)

Here's a cute-but-serious video that explains what are, I guess, the basics, in a way that is both entertaining and riveting... and why we should care!   So much STUFF in all our lives!  I really need to watch this thing again.

STUFF from Ikea

So that last post (The Story of Stuff) was actually apropos of this article , which my mother cut out and brought over for me. (I guess she's taken over the article-clipping role from my father... but I kind of miss his homemade lamination) The article points out how un-green Ikea is, despite the veneer of eco-consciousness (a veneer like most of their "wood" furniture is made of). And I'm thinking, "who doesn't know this?" Who doesn't know that Ikea makes stuff cheap at everybody else's expense? That they cut corners - heck, these are the people that pioneered making us grateful about building our own furniture! You come away grateful that they even give you an allan key to put the things together with. ("lucky thing I didn't have to rummage through the toolbox... and hey, I might have had to supply my own rivets! Thanks, Ikea!") And who that has ever owned Ikea furniture doesn't know that it's NOT made for extended

This little monster…


Judy likes Toto

"Judy likes Toto." (sideways glance at me; a dare, to contradict her, to tell her "Judy" is only Judy Garland, the real actress who played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.) " Judy likes Toto," another sneaky look my way. Me: "I hear you saying Judy likes Toto." "Not our Judy." (a friend and neighbour down the street) "Some people are named Judy." "I don't think Dorothy likes her name... so... she calls herself Dorothy. She tells everybody her not-real name." "Why does Dorothy have a tornado?" Off to read and re-read one of my favourite kids' books, , by one of my favourite authors, Lauren Child. Oops...let's try pasting that link again and see if it works, shall we? Here's another one of her books that we've loved: a classic, irreverent & funny retelling of Princess and the Pea, The (oops)!

Shabbos foods and potty mouth!

Dinner:   Swiss Steak Mashpo (organic po's w/skins) Corn Veg -?   Lunch:   Blintzes Teriyaki Salmonoodles Hmm - veg?   Too tired.  Cannot think. New twist on that "baby waking up in the middle of the night" crisis:  apparently, if I change him, he goes right back to sleep.  At least he has twice. I think it's tied in with his potty hang-ups and fears at the moment.   I'm using his anatomical soft doll a lot these days to try to get him past it.  Any yogurt or sour cream tub can become a potty, and GZ loves the game of letting the baby "go make." (of course, he may never eat yogurt or sour cream as an adult!!!)   We clap for the baby, take off his diaper, etc., to get Gavriel Zev used to the idea that potties and diapers are a little bit interchangeable, but that we really, ultimately, prefer the potty.  Oy... who knows?  Just thankful - slash - hopeful that this is the last kid I have to go through this stuff with...   S

Yay, I'm a winner!   Yay!  Sometimes it's wondeful to be utterly shameless ...

Seeds of an idea

Naomi, in the car today:  "What would happen if you took seeds from a pepper...?  If you took seeds from a pepper that you grew in the backyard, and you took out the seeds, and you saved them until next year and then you planted them, could you grow the same peppers in the backyard?"   (Me:  "They would grow, for sure.  Actually, that's how I grew lots of our tomatoes this year, by saving the seeds from last year.  Let's try it!")

Balabusta at large: Easy No-Touch, No-Mess Challah Rise

I know some people love making challah because it’s  hands-on.  I love it because I’m a bread snob and cannot stand anything but the freshest possible bread, period. I also know that if you make bread by hand the right way, you won’t get much stuck to your fingers because the dough will be perfect and almost self-cleaning in its magical stick-togetheriness. But I use a food processor:  I love it.  Sue me.  It’s a 14-cup Cuisinart, and my only sadness about it is that it cannot make a huge enough batch of bread to make a bracha; I have been making two batches and combining them, but was recently told I probably need to make three to make a bracha.  (If you don’t know what the heck a bracha is, skip the preceding.) Anyway, so I am a hands- off challah baker, most of the time.  I love forming the loaves, but don’t really care about getting down and dirty for the first bits.  So I mix it in the food processor, and then transfer it to a large, no-zip freezer bag, using this miraculous