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Showing posts from April, 2010


Joking around with Elisheva, we were talking about the parsha and she joked that I should become a rabbi because I know so much (even though I was in the middle of mixing up the rituals of the ben sorer umoreh and the sotah at the time).  So I told her, off-hand, that a modern Orthodox woman has received semicha along with the title of either “Maharat” or “Rabba.” (Google it yourself and pick your favourite!) Anyway, she paused not even for a second before blurting:  “Oh, modern Orthodox!  Modern Orthodox is basically Conservative with their… happy Yom HaAtzamaut, and let’s all… celebrate Shabbat .  Wear a long Israeli skirt !” All of which in a kind of sing-song, twirling around the kitchen. Ohkay. I dunno.  I don’t see this as intolerance, even though, in public or coming from an adult, I definitely would.  Sometimes it just makes me happy that my kids are so confident of where they stand in the Jewish world.  Life is THAT simple when you’re 14. Sooner or later, life

YM’s brillianté idea! for Teens and Shabbos Tasks

Instead of nudging and nudging or making up task lists for Fridays and have each big kid wandering around wondering what to do… we set up a point system.  Each thing we usually do on Fridays is given a number of points.  Kiddies accumulate points however they want.  And when they reach 200, they can quit and usher in their own personal Shabbos… or play a game.  Or whatever. Here’s a breakdown of the ones we’ve come up with so far.  If you spot any flaws, or think of other tasks (this is very preliminary), please leave a comment to let me know! Torah tasks: 100 Dvar Torah 20 Parsha q&a / craft / activity Childcare tasks: 20 Bathe littles 15 Park walkies 10 Walkies on street 10 Learn parsha together Indoor tasks: 20 Clean bathroom 20 Mop floors 10 Bermuda triangle (table) 10 Bermuda triangle (desk) 10 Sweep the J 10 Sweep stairs 10 Books / toys / fireplace Outdoor tasks: 20 Weeding 10 mins 10 Garbage, recycle, compost 10 Tidy entire d

Shabbos Food (with no Mommy)

It’s always weird these days when my mother isn’t with us.  We were supposed to be going to Ottawa this weekend, and Ted actually took today off so he could have three days in a row with no work, like normal people have every month (apparently, it’s called a long weekend! ).  But at the last minute, we couldn’t afford it (still reeling from Pesach), which is why we’re still here.  But my mother had already accepted an invitation for this Shabbos, knowing we wouldn’t be home.  It’s okay with me; I’m really happy that she has a social life in the neighbourhood outside of us. So here’s what we’re having.  I’m planning and mulling as I write this. Dinner. Challah (no-vanilla Breadsmith challah from Maggie Glezer’s book) Chicken soup w/ kneidlach (YM can make them with his broken arm!) Shake n’ Bake Chicken Mashed Potatoes (Elisheva’s request) Corn Gravy –? (maybe, maybe) Desserts Lunch. Sushi-rice salad Lettuce salad by Elisheva Blintz loa

Blah. Blah. Blah. Prager. Blah.

Sad and discouraged!  I wrote here the other day all excited that Dennis Prager was coming to town and that I was going to find a way to go hear him speak on Friday night… Well, no.  Apparently not.  Apparently his talk on Friday night is ONLY for those upper-crust folks who can afford a $40 fee per person for the privilege of dining with His Pragerness and listening to him speak afterwards.  To be fair, the rate is lower for members, so it would only cost us $124 for dinner if we joined the shul.  Otherwise, it’s $175… oh, but Gavriel Zev could eat free!  Seems like a bit of  a waste considering 4 out of 6 of us couldn’t care less about the talk. I guess I could just pay $40 and have dinner there all by myself.  But that seems so sad when my family is just a block away, enjoying a wonderful Shabbos meal I would still have to prepare in its entirety.  For another $40, I could bring Ted along… raising the question of who’d take care of the rest of our family. The third o

Supper – on time!

6:15 on the dot… the time I aim for every single day, and today we finally made it!  6:15 is because Elisheva finishes school at 5:30, so it allows for some travel time, some table-setting time, but not too long before she eats or she gets really GROUCHY. “Vegan Vursday” here today.  Happily, bread is vegan , plus pasta is vegan (I checked – no eggs!).  Beer bread :  I had to make a special trip to the LCBO store to buy beer.  Had no idea what was what so just bought the very cheapest ($1.75) and fled.  It just feels so sleazy, you know? Oh, and then I made a delightful (vegan) mushroom-barley soup to go with the bread and pasta.  What a simple, yummy meal!

And in other garden news…

… it’s starting.  Despite the colds.  Despite the winds.  Things are growing.  Here’s a quick roundup, because I’m supposed to be making supper right now. Muscari (grape hyacinths, or, as we call them here, gray “pie-a-cinths”!)   Arabis (wall cress).  I’m loving the solid, thick carpet of white they’re providing.  Bought a flat of these on clearance last year, almost dead and dried out.  I will look for more this year, because what a delight!  (They say you should photograph your garden in the morning because the afternoon sun is too glary.  They’re right.) Garlic.  Two varieties, I forget which, purchased at Seedy Saturday-on-a-Sunday.  Now growing in pots.  You can JUST see the green starting to peek out here!   Humulus lupulus “Aureus.”  (golden hops vine)  This climber, now in its third season here, has gone utterly feral and is popping up all over the bed, as seen here where it is in the middle of some Shasta daisies and bee balm.  I don’t mind it popping

The 2010 Artemisia Collection

In my usual impulsive gardening  strategy, I amassed a veritable collection of artemisias last year (the English name is Wormwood, but let’s just forget that ugly old thing).  I am drawn to the silveriness of them, and decided to just stick a bunch in the ground and see which survived. Here they all are, coming back again this year. Top performer – BY FAR:  Artemisia “Silver Mound”: It’s already reached nearly the size it was at the end of the season last year.  I actually planted this rather late in the season, inspired by my mother-in-law in Calgary.  Apparently, it is vigorous, but not a thug.  It doesn’t seem to be growing anywhere else but in this neat, furry mound. As opposed to its nearby neighbour… Artemisia “Silver King”: This seems to be spreading its wings nicely and popping up all over the place in the front bed.  Unfortunately, it isn’t really doing much ground-covering while it’s there.  I think I will only keep it if it does a decent job of covering the soi

Hey! I forgot…

… to EVER make a homemade ice-cream cake again!  I mean, I did it once, with great success, thirteen years ago, and then never again. For anyone too uninterested to scroll down.  This ice-cream themed post is brought to you by Baskin-Robbins 31 cent scoop night , being held tomorrow evening around the US and in Canada as well!  And now, on with my blather… Amy over at homeshuling posted today about a birthday party she made for her dd, including a homemade ice cream cake.  Brownies, ice cream, homemade whipped cream, and a few crushed m&m’s.  It looks like there is some type of illustration on top of her cake as well. As I typed in my appreciative comment – about how wondrously easy and cheap it is to make your own cake, compared to what they charge for such a thing in stores – I began wondering how come I never did it again.  We had one for YM’s 2nd birthday party, though I forget exactly what flavours of cake, or ice cream, I used. But, ONE birthday out of... 36?!?  I c

Oooh! Look who’s coming to town!

Dennis Prager! Oooh, I’m so excited, and it’s just down the street from me, too! Closer than my own shul, even! His talk on Friday night is “How to fix non-Orthodox Judaism,” which is unbelievably intriguing to me. I mean, if it could be FIXED, maybe I could join in again, right? Of course, I’m being tongue-in-cheek. Because it all depends what you mean by FIXED. Nevertheless, I’m intrigued, and I think my mother, who’s just been taking a course on denominational Judaism (taught by Conservative rabbis) might be interested as well. And Ted, who happily joins me on any and all Prager-related errands. (So far, Ted & I have been to hear him more than any other speaker, including local speakers… I believe it’s five times, but perhaps only 4: Pride of Israel, Leah Posluns; hmm… I forget where else we’ve heard him. Suffice to say, we’d go hear him in a bar, mosque, church, anywhere as long as he was at the front of the room!) Slightly less interesting is his Shabbos mo

Kids’ Book for Shavuos / Shavuot / Ruth / Rus / Rut

However you want to pronounce it all, I wrote Naomi Rivka a Shavuos story! I wasn’t going to say anything here, but since I had a lot of response to my Pesach Four Questions story , I wanted to put it out here in case anyone is interested. But – it’s a very different kind of story. Read on! First of all, my wonderful dd2 is very VERY interested in princesses, and a friend said to me, in passing last year, “you should write a Jewish princess story.” This is that story. It is very princess-centric. It’s also slightly flatbread-centric. :-) Secondly, it’s long. It’s 8 pages long in Word. When read out loud, I think it took about 10-15 minutes, which makes it more appropriate for older kids, like 5 and up. I am actually quite pleased with how this story came out, with a few big caveats: I didn’t know what to call it… I don’t like the current title. Suggestions? :-) Ruth is called Ruth throughout. Shabbat is called Shabbat. For simplicity, if nothin

No pansies, no!

Stopped by Fortino’s Garden Centre for the first time this year.  It’s NICE that it’s open, I’ll give you that (especially on a blustery day when it feels like winter is turning around and heading right back for another stretch!).  Fortino’s may not be my favourite garden centre, but it is certainly one of the nearest and most convenient, given that you can plunk your car in the parking lot three feet from the entrance and wheel out bags and bags of soil and amendments on one of their mega-carts.  Oh, and get some shopping done in the main store building while you’re there! So, yes, I welcome it back happily every single year, and this morning, the kids and I paid it a visit. But once you’re in, it’s basically the same Pots of Pansies that you see everywhere. Pots of Pansies, and Emerald Cedar trees. Ugh.  Pansies. Frankly, pansies look like floppy hanky-flowers.  Like somebody wadded up a tissue and glued it to a bit of green.  The foliage is nothing special and the flo

Menu Plan Monday #13 – 12 Iyar, 5770

Yes, it’s ridiculously late at night. Or early in the morning. But here we are! We have arrived! At yet another Meal Plan Monday. I just decided, before I post this, to go look at how many of these I’ve done so far so I can celebrate maybe my 10th MPM post! But you know what? This is actually Lucky Number Thirteen!! Yes, I’m giving myself a break for not posting over Pesach and pretending that they have all been consecutive. Which is not a bad streak, if I say so myself. I like it. I really do. I like having some idea of how the week is going to go, and I like the freedom to shop early and just HAVE the ingredients I need on hand. It doesn’t always work, but often enough that it’s liberating. Sunday (tonight)!: Chicken Nest at Mommy’s house w/ Sara & Abigail Monday (Ted’s off day): SuperSticky sweepoes; chicken on top of rice, leftover Shabbos soop. Tuesday: Corny Salmon cakes w/homemade potato buns (brushed with butter...amazing!) squash soup. Wednes

Gazing at the navel

When I should be gazing at my pillow… I am gazing at my navel, or rather, the navel of my blog, the top-secret site that tells me how y’all got here and what you want from my creative writing output. After all, we aim to please! Well, okay, no. Secretly, I aim to lure people in here with whatever ridiculous keywords will suck in the suckers… and then send everybody home convinced of the stunning spiritual authenticity of our kinda-crunchy eco-conscious crunchy-con religious Jewish life. Secretly, I just want to turn everybody into ME. Barring that, however, I aim to please! And it seems like I am doing a pretty good job! First, a couple of searches over the last few days that my blog could NOT help with (sorry, everybody!): siddur text of omer counting … umm… I am a bad sinner when it comes to Omer. Maybe next year. liberal mikveh jerusalem … nope! mikveh blog … well, I do post about the mikveh occasionally, but for privacy reasons, not when I ha

My NEW “next coffee maker”

Now that my bodum has turned me into a bit of a coffee snob, I started thinking I wanted an Aeropress. Okay, actually, truth? The SAME week my sister Sara bought me the Bodum, a facebook friend bragged that she’d bought an Aeropress. Same principle as the Bodum, but a little more space-age. Just the top part in this picture is the Aeropress, by the way (which, by the way number two, is made by the same Aerobie people who make weird shapes of floppy frisbee); underneath the Aeropress, you can use any sort of mug you want. Some people swear by the Aeropress, saying that it reflects the best of all worlds. Like the bodum, you are pressing… but unlike the bodum, the grounds are not sitting in your coffee. You press it through so quickly that there is no time, I think, for the bitterness and oiliness to come out; just rich, smooth coffee. So that’s what I was thinking I wanted, but when I went today to research what would be the utterly most geekiness in home coffee brewing e

Busy Little Homeschooler… worn out!

We were carless, for a change, so I ran the kids around a bit today.  After a trip to Dollarama and the library, we met some friends and they spent about 20 minutes running up and down a hill in the rain. I told Naomi Rivka she didn’t have to nap, just have an hour of quiet reading time, and for her reading material, she chose this atlas, which she loves. Unfortunately, as many of us might when attempting to read an atlas cover to cover… she fell asleep.  I just thought it was very cute how she managed to pass out directly underneath the book.  Also, how wonderful it is that her arm is beneath her mouth so she won’t drool all over our pillows! This actually happens quite a bit of the time when I tell her she doesn’t have to sleep.  With the “naptime” pressure off, she’s able to just snuggle into bed and relax with a good book… often with very soporific results. Speaking of sleeping beauties:  as I loaded up the picture to blog this, I heard a snore from the sofa.  Yes, Ted

Six-Word Saturday: 11 Iyar, 5770

Ted working; still sick.  Blah.  Blah.

Another decent kiddie parsha sheet

During the hopefully-temporary absence of our weekly Torat Imecha sheets (she isn’t doing them at the moment due to personal circumstances), I am downloading parsha sheets for the little kiddies from MiBereshis .  It’s a little annoying because you have to choose the year and parsha every time, and sometimes there is no sheet for the combination you’ve selected (this week, I selected 5768 Acharei and Kedoshim – the FIRST 5768, not the second!), but I do like the bright colour illustrations and clear explanations. This site also has parsha sheets available (I think) in Hebrew here .

Uninspir(ed/ing) Shabbos Food: Acharei Mos-Kedoshim

Okay, I’m stuck.  In a rut.  No inspiration.  What will we have for Shabbos?  (yeah, I know it’s 1 p.m. and Shabbos is in only 6 hours) UPDATE:  Alright, it’s now 7:00 p.m. and I am changing this to list our FINAL Shabbos food items before shutting down for the next 25 hours! Dinner? Challah (Maggie Glezer’s Breadsmith Challah recipe) Soup (didn’t bother making it because we have so much frozen) w/kneidlach Mommy is making duck – I hope she saves the fat because I was just told that Duck-fat roasted small potatoes is the most delicious thing to have on the side Broccoli & potato kugel Corn Desserts Lunch? Turkey meatballs heated up w/s&s dipping sauce Cholent Slicey meats Urgh; is everything meat???  Can we not have some veggies in this meal? Okay, I’m happy bc Ted made Green beans Desserts Dessert(s)? Yes, we have some!  Lemon cake – from a mix, with real lemon juice & icing sugar Fudge br

Bad Vegan!

Ugh… noticed as I was mixing up the corn fritter batter for tonight’s Vegan Vursday that it may not contain milk, but DOES contain three eggs (I tripled the recipe because we like corn fritters a LOT). Doh! Apparently this vegan thing is not as easy as it sounds! Too late to fix it for this week… so we are having roasted root veggies (beets, carrots, potatoes) alongside non-vegan egg-based corn fritters. Elisheva objects to calling it “Vegan” anyway… she doesn’t mind eating non-meat, non-dairy food, just doesn’t want to give it a big fancy name.  To her, I think, vegan means unpalatable bland tofu-based food.  But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe the kids get used to a whole palette of delicious non-meat, non-egg, non-dairy-based foods, they will come to realize that responsible eating doesn’t have to be stodgy or tasteless. Of course, it’s only one meal a week.  But still, one vegan meal, times six people, times 52 weeks a year.  If everybody did it, it would make a real

Welcome ICLW bloggers!

To any ICLW ( IComLeavWe, April 2010 ) bloggers dropping in, I want to point out first of all that I’m not infertile in any way, or even TTC in any way.  I know a lot about infertility and even got a certificate from saying that I know my way around a chart… kind of. So that’s my credential, right there.  But then again, I also I have three children who were very easy to conceive and – in the grand scheme of things – one more who was pretty easy to conceive (with two early mc’s between the last two, which led to my charting obsession)… so overall, no complaints. Who am I? Like it says above, I’m a four FIVE-year- breastfeeding Yiddishe (Jewish) supermama of four ( 2 big , 2 little !), who writes unswervingly , cooks tenaciously , parents attachedly , gardens (semi-?) naturally , homeschools frugally , and navigates unfalteringly through the moments between the Kodak ones .  Which basically means this blog is all over the place; it’s a good thing I’m n

The mystical GREEN layer

For the last couple of years, I have made a point of  always including this weird, magical, mystical GREEN layer in almost every lasagna I have made. It’s easy and turns any everyday lasagna into a gourmet treat! So what’s in the green stuff? A tub of ricotta cheese, some frozen spinach, an egg and salt.  Okay, sometimes, if I’m not sick and miserable – like today – I use fresh spinach, wash it check it steam it.  But today, it was frozen Bodek spinach, straight into the blender with the other stuff.  Poke it around a bit if it doesn’t blend smoothly at first, and then it’s done. The other trick with lasagna, which I didn’t do today, is the old “hiding-the-veggies-from-your-family-so-they-won’t-know-it’s-healthy” trick, only since my intention is not to HIDE the veggie but to combine it, it’s okay.  Just roast a red pepper or two and then purée it with the tomato sauce.  Oh, also, in addition to one tin of pasta sauce, I blend in one tin of tomatoes.  So the red layer is usua

In case of emergency

In case of ice cream too frozen to scoop: Hack at outer wrapping mercilessly with sharp knife until it yields.  Peel packaging off in great primordial chunks and toss in whatever bin is closest.  Eat.  Enjoy.   As with cocktails, I feel like 7:30 p.m. is somehow too early to be eating ice cream.  But Ted’s at his pottery class, YM went to learning, and Elisheva took the little kids out to the park (in return for a library book she’s been bugging me for weeks to get her!).  So I am all by myself, here, sick with a miserable runny-nose cold – the very worst kind.  In the rare and deafening silence that descended on the house when the kids left, I heard the ice cream calling to me plaintively from the downstairs freezer… where it indeed was much too cold to scoop.  Ergo, the sharp knife. p.s.  This is NOT  my favourite Ben & Jerry’s flavour (that would be chocolate fudge brownie), but any port in a storm.

Two ghost poems

My father’s birthday was April 25th, so this is his week.  We are all thinking of him in our own ways. These are old poems, and I was going to include a whole bunch of apologies and whatnot for not being gardening-related or childrearing-related, but hey, I’m making ZERO money from this blog, and the fame isn’t that much ahead of that zero mark.  So read them or not; it’s okay by me. Ghosts 1: Skeleton Birthdays There's not a month that passes now without a few the year is littered with them friends who have moved on, leaving only their birthdays fossils in my mind. They will dig me up years from now and probe my brain. What is all this? The sacred birthday burial ground.   Ghosts 2: Haunted Numbers The telephone number I need Springs to mind Bubbles up Eager to be of use 398-8520   So familiar; this must be the right one I almost dial, but my fingers Stroke the keypad Ske

Who sez?

Who says arts and crafts is only for the littles???

So, nu…!

One EMT transport, two phone calls (one home, which I couldn’t answer in time; one to my mother, who went to the scene), four hours in emerg, fifteen minutes in the CT scanner, a bazillion shots of lidocaine and two big burly guys (one from Australia) to yank his arm into alignment, a great big fluffy flannel cast (weird) and a ton of bruises later ... and he's okay!  [ EDITED TO ADD:  one pair of glasses, the second destroyed of two purchased, meaning tomorrow is GLASSES DAY.] He was trying something dumb on his bike... and it didn't quite work out.   I suspect he was attempting to ride on this raised curb on Bathurst St, just south of Glencairn, on his way home from school: He would like me to point out that it is ironic that he was injured falling off his bicycle on his way to jump off high objects.  He was having so much fun climbing up (and jumping off?) my mother’s garage roof last night, I think he was hoping to do more of the same on his way home. I

Menu Plan Monday: 4 Iyar, 5770 (Kosher, Jewish, dee-lish!)

Late late late Sunday night, but I’m trying to get a jump on the week ahead by planning a menu… hmm… what shall we eat??? Monday (Ted’s late day): Potto-leek soup, salmon puff pastries, frozen peez on the side. Tuesday: Chicken Stir-fry (Ted’s request), served over rice Wednesday: Cheesy lasagna and/or tortellini casserole Green-layer LASAGNA won ! Thursday (Vegan Vursday!): Hot & Sour soup as the main (too similar to Tuesday's Asian-veg soup), hmm… with beer batter corn fritters , with roasted beets & other veggies. Shabbos: TBD, but Mommy wants to make duck because she bought a duck. Oy. I got sidetracked doing something else and it’s now VERY late, so I’ll stick with this plan for now. If you’re dropping in for the first time, feel free to visit the super-duper-list-o-mania of Everything We Eat (as well as the rest of this blog, of course). Thanks!

Davening that’s SO “old-shul”

Just for fun, I brought my wonderful new siddur along for its Inaugural Davening down the street to Beth Tzedec, one of two local Conservative congregations.  This happens to be the monster shul in town, not to mention the shul I grew up in.  These days, they’re calling it the Synaplex.  Get it? I don’t think I’ve been there since my Uncle Abe’s funeral many years ago, but that was an awfully long time ago, so that may not be true.  The occasion was Shabbat Itanu , a Shabbos of inclusion for a number of shuls around the GTA.  Beth Tzedec’s participation included hiring a sign-language interpreter for the main sanctuary today, so I decided to head over to watch.  Elisheva decided to tag along.  I actually debated inviting her along, because I thought it might be detrimental to her spiritual well-being.  But then I decided she SHOULD see what they do there; that it might be an education.  It sure was. It’s a good thing we went – otherwise, the interpreter would have been s

Snazzy new siddur… a first glance at Koren Sacks

Now, how often is it that you hear those words together – “snazzy” and “siddur”??? But, yes, I have leapt on the Rabbi Dr. Sir Professor Jonathan Sacks Bandwagon and invested in my first non-Artscroll siddur in years (okay, not counting the small shacharis-only siddur I bought for my sister’s birthday – which is terrific, btw; I don’t remember if I posted about it here but I like it very much). After reading Rabbi Martin Lockshin’s thoughtful discussion of the new(ish) Koren Sacks Siddur vs Artscroll, I realized I simply must have it. My own humble first impressions: From a strictly aesthetic standpoint, the Koren Sacks wins hands-down.  Such thoughtful layouts (one pasuk per line!)!  Such helpful pagination (all of havdalah, on a single page!)!  So much white space… wow; almost literally a breath of fresh air. And I had forgotten – over 20 years, I guess I became numbed – how much I utterly HATED the all-italicized English text in every single Artscroll siddur I’ve ever

Six-Word Saturday: 4 Iyar, 5770

  The moment before the Lego fell…       

Off the wagon… and into the carriage?

I’ve been SO good.  So very, very good about not acquiring any new carriages.  But sometimes, it’s just stroller karma, and I can’t help it. When you get rid of five carriages you don’t want (old Pliko, missing fabric; Bertini frame, broken brake; Bertini frame & seat, bent axle; huge pink double jogger, too heavy & skunk-smelly), it’s just bashert (foreordained) that a new one will find you… Out walking on Glen Cedar today (with the pretty-good navy BabyTrend side-by-side double my mother found at the curb for me!), I found an older-model Peg Perego Tender Twin front-to-back double.  The problem:  how to schlep the HUGE Peg Perego home with us?  No problem!  It folded pretty smoothly and I stashed it on top of the hood of the BabyTrend to bring it home and test it out.  We were an extra-wide load,  however, and I didn’t even bother trying to wheel the wide double with the wider folded double into either of the stores we visited along Eglinton; I just left it parked