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Showing posts from July, 2010

Six-Word Saturday: 21 Av, 5770

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! Crazy project:  Saving wax = eternal candle? (The answer is no, which I know because I’ve tried this before.  The wick eventually runs out, as Elisheva keeps reminding me, but long before that, the candle gets lumpy and generally unsightly and non-functional.  It feels weird and freaky and fun to save the wax, all at the same time.)

Dear Yeshiva Administrator

Okay, dipping my toes once more in the controversy , here follows – at the expense of my family’s Shabbos food – my reply to the fairly well-thought-out screed of the Yeshiva Administrator : Dear Yeshiva Administrator: Thanks for your post!  You were probably the friendly voice behind the "cheery phone call" I mentioned in my original post.  The administrators I have had to deal with have always been invariably discreet and friendly, so thanks! But yes, I am guilty as charged.  At Pesach, it's hard to keep that one month's tuition cheque from bouncing.  I actually do negotiate with the grocery store, putting back every tempting prepared or frozen product and dreading the schleppery of once again creating eight times three delightful, original meals out of POTATOES.   Our big Pesach splurge was not a hotel, but $120 worth of hand shmurah.  Chol ha moed?  Maybe we had free museum passes, or took the kids mini-golfing.  But mostly, I just cooked.  And

Shabbos Food

While the debate about school/yeshiva tuition that I started roars on over at DovBear… ( here and here ), life here in the real world must go on – unlike some of your inferior Deep Jewish Thoughts blogs which never take a break for such fascinations as childrearing, gardening or “what’s to eat?” Here, then, is our Shabbos food for this week! Supper Iced tea Challah Soup w/kneidlach Turkey Meatballs w/easy sauce (don’t laugh; it’s ginger ale and ketchup) Mashpo Corn Roasted beets Zucchini Blueberry-almond bars One other dessert?  Last week’s leftover brownie? Lunch = meat, meat, meat and more MEAT! Challah Cholent Turkey Pastries (aka Purkey Tastries) Beef Steak Salad on lettuce Steamed broccoli salad Desserts etc

Parsha Poem: Eikev

Devarim/Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 This week’s Parsha is Eikev ; it means a reward, But not for battles that we fight with a sword. Moshe said we must earn it; he knew that we can, But only in Israel, that’s Hashem’s special plan. Seven special crops that would grow in the land, We’d grow them and eat them; they’d really taste grand. Seven special crops to be our special prize Ripe and delicious, right before our very eyes. Two grains to make breads; five fruits for our plate All of them with flavours we can all appreciate. חִטָּה (chitah) is wheat, growing tall and golden brown; שְׂעוֹרָה (se’orah) is barley, a grain from the ground; גֶּפֶן (gefen) is a grapevine, to give us shade and fruit and wine; תְּאֵנָה (te’ainah) are plump figs to share: yours and yours and mine. רִמּוֹן (rimon) is a pomegranate with its funny clump of seeds; And זַיִת (zayit) is an olive-tree for all our olive-oil needs. The last one, תָּמָר (tamar), is a date filled with honey

Happy, happy writing stuff

I know I said I couldn’t put into words my enjoyment of Sunday’s fun fair and my personal bake sale, but it turned out I had to – I’d promised an article to the CJN.  But, and this NEVER ever happens, my editor said she wanted it first-person.  And she also said it was okay to go long.  They NEVER say that:  “write what you want, as much as you want.”  Heck, that’s why I have a blog – I don’t even expect money for that kind of writing. So I wrote the thing up, first person, and VERY long – over 1300 words.  I submitted it, nervously, last night.  It’s hard submitting personal writing – much easier if it’s just a matter-of-fact article.  Emailed it off and held my breath - and she loved it! Just remembered, I’m supposed to be emailing her some photos… oops!  So I’ll do that, and hopefully, you’ll see the article in the CJN next week or the week after! In other writing Fun-ness:  wallowing in this week’s tuition misery I collated my two tuition-related rants, one from last yea

Metapost: blog spam

  What is with all this spam?  I sure do wish some of the “comments” were actual, real people!

There is a Thing

A thing that I hate to do. And a regular day that I do it on. And I do it anyway, and I do it happily, but when the Day is coming, I hate it… I dread it.  I despise every minute of it. When it’s over, I’m relieved, but also, a little bit, starting to dread, because next week is coming, and the Day comes every week, and the Thing never ends. Am I being vague enough?  Good! But I wonder if this is one reason I am feeling so grey and glum and depressed every single minute of every single day, because the Thing is casting is Thingly pall... Or whether that’s just due to lack of sleep, as usual.  Tonight, I’m trying to get some sleep, just in case that’s all it is.

Online shopping spree fun fun… FUNERAL!

Brace yourself, Kurt Vonnegut-style.  About 3/4 of the way through this free-associative post, there will be a funeral. So is having a flash sale on pretied bandanas, so I decided to try one.  I may hate it, but I used the $25 credit I won last month , so nothing much lost.  The stuff I chose, the bandana, an Israeli tichel and a cap, came to just over $25, but there’s a bit of a shipping cost, so all these (three) hair-covering THINGS came to just over $8.  A bit more in Canadian dollars, but still… lots of fun shopping the site.  I am prepared to hate one or two, but hope one of them, when they arrive, will be my New Favourite Hair Covering Thing! What?  One site doth not a SPREE make?  And oh, yeah, what about the FUNERAL? Well, okay, I also went on eBay and bought a new USB cable to go with my new cellphone. Badum-bump! What?  Yes, I bought a cellphone. Here’s why – the Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back, so to speak.  I showed up at the school toda

The best bakey sale day ever!

Had so much fun at yesterday’s funfair, I can’t even put it into words. I made pletzl, muffins (strawberry and blueberry), brownies and beer bread.  Kept the whole thing totally simple and FUN and sold out almost everything (well, except Ted’s triscuit pizzas, which sold like crazy last time but not this time – weird!). For more details and recipes, visit my bread and bakey blog here .

Menu-Planning Monday #24: 15 Av, 5770

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!  We are a Jewish family of 6 (2 parents, 4 kids) and all our meals are kosher. Newcomers, you can read my MPM intro here which tells you all about who we are and what we eat, or just visit my super-duper-list-tastic itemization of Everything We Eat .  With the big kids away, meals are a little bit more casual, and more dominated by the simplistic likes and dislikes of the little kiddies.  Sunday:  BBQ hamburgers at Mommy’s house to meet the new naybs!  (that’s neighbours, in Canada-speak… they’re here from Israel for 2 months) Monday (today):  Matzah brei and leftover chili from last Thursday Tuesday:  Eating out!  New burger place @ Bathurst & Lawrence, eat in park Wednesday:  Chicken Stir-fry Thursday (Vegan Vursday):  Pasta, tomato sauce Friday/Shabbos:  Turkey mballs from meat in freezer

Again. Ugh. Pain. Tuition-Related Depression.

NOTHING makes me say ugh like the annual round of tuition-begging . And with the delivery of our Notices of Assessment from Revenue Canada , verifying our income (or lack thereof), the time is upon us. Upon me.  It’s my job. So I sit here, in a lethargic stupour.  Wishing for death.  Maybe not death, perhaps just solvency?  But I’m sure the feeling is similar. I have filled out just about the exact SAME six-page financial disclosure every single year for the last ELEVEN years.  Eleven! Why does anybody believe this humiliating full disclosure each and every year keeps people honest?  Why not make it easier with a shorter form if your humiliating circumstances have not miraculously changed?  Like, you haven’t won a lottery? Imagine the checklist: “Is your husband is still in the same dead-end job (no pun intended)? Is your house is still 70 years old and crumbling - oh, and WAY too small? Is your car is the same cheap one your father bought you before he crum

Statement of Principles: Gay Jews in the Orthodox World

A statement was released last week – on a weird, anonymous blog, not under the auspices of any official organization – which covers many points applicable to gay Jews living in the frum world.  The statement is here , and they’re looking for frum rabbis or mental health professionals to vet the thing and add their names to the list of signatories. On some fronts, it’s helpful; in other ways, it may be seen as simply frustrating or a reiteration of stuff people already knew, in the same way the Vatican keeps coming out and forbidden birth control.  I’m sure there are many folks who are dying to hear something new from the frum establishment. There are 12 points, but for me, these are the main ones. Be nice.  Treat everybody in a friendly, dignified way.  Actually, you could distill the whole thing down to this one principle, except we’re Jews, and we love specifics. It’s not our place to ask what goes on in the privacy of anyone’s bedroom. Theories of the origin of homo

Six-Word Saturday: 14 Av, 5770

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!   Late-night baking… now with illumination !

Fun free clip art site!

Lots of cute & FREE Biblical and other clip art at … very cool!

Girl, 5, haircut

For a few minutes this afternoon, the neighbourhood rang with screams as Naomi Rivka underwent the very-infrequent ritual of haircutting.  I’m glad she’s a girl, so we don’t have to do it that often, because she utterly dreads it.  Once we get into it, though, she’s okay and by the end, after she’d seen it, she was loving her new left-side part.  I was feeling ambitious and decided to attempt a part instead of bangs to give her more of a big-girl look.  Elisheva makes fun of me, I think, for all the years she spent in bangs, but it was mostly because I didn’t know how to do anything else – and didn’t want to pay somebody to do it.  From the few times I did pay a professional, she seemingly knew little more than I did about how to manage her straight, straight hair (and she was Filipina – don’t Asian people have straight hair?).  Naomi’s hair is different from Elisheva’s – thicker, more bushy around the “sideburn” areas.  I think I did a decent job, but she ran to wet it down and

Parsha Poem: Vaetchanan

Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 In this week’s parsha, called Vaetchanan , We learn many stories together as one. Vaetchanan, Moshe prayed to Hashem, To let him cross over the river Yarden. But Hashem said, “Though it might not seem fair, You hit that rock, so you’ll never go there. Now choose a new leader to help all the Jews Then gather them up to tell them the news. Yehoshua’s the man who will lead them through A new leader almost as special as you.” Remember Har Sinai? Moshe tells us again Of all of its wonders, like lightning – not rain Thunder and voices, a flowery hill, Hashem’s voice said to listen; to stand and be still. He taught us ten dibrot, mitzvot to keep Rules to remember, awake or asleep. Listen to parents and anyone grown; Ten special rules carved on luchot of stone. Treat other folks nicely, be honest and kind; Those are mitzvot we must all keep in mind. Then Moshe taught us the most special word: “Shema,” means to listen, and that’s what we heard. Liste

Missing them already

Well, okay, actually I’m not.  See their little pink plane (I coloured it to make it easier to spot), just approaching Regina? Fun, fun, fun!  And in a couple of weeks, they get to do the whole tedious trip again… by TRAIN.  Only instead of four hours, it’s going to take two and a half days.  Meshuggeh… but then, a) I wasn’t the one who decided it was a great plan and bought the tickets, and b) I have actually done the whole “trip across the Canadian prairies” thing, in my youth, by bus – a 50-hour trip, start to finish, so I speak from experience. Which is how I know it is the most tedious scenery you will ever encounter unless you happen to want to cross Australia someday. Here’s what that stretch they’re currently flying over looks like, closer up, on a satellite map: And here’s the Google Street View, first facing west: And now east: Nothing, nothing, nothing… as far as the eye can see: Shudder.  Terrible memory; days of tedium, first driving east across

Egg-free cupcakes & pig-free pancakes

Egg-free; nut-free; dairy-free.  Those were the instructions on the sign-up sheet today for Naomi Rivka’s camp party on Friday, their last day (it’s only a one-week camp).  The party theme is “stripes and polka dots.”  (I think) Dairy-free, nut-free – those are easy.  And when I signed up to make or bring cuppycakes, the one the counsellor pointed out specifically:  “they have to be egg-free.”  “Fine,” I thought, “I can do egg-free, no problem.”  Okay!  I love accomodating different dietary needs, for whatever reason.  So I can do that.  So help me, I will bake for you, little EGGLESS BOY OR GIRL:  you “EGG KID.”  Sure – can do! But just now – twelve hours later; that’s how long my brain takes to kick in – I started thinking.  Here’s what that niggling thought said to me:  “Why?” “Why do I have to accomodate their EGG KID, when they are not at all accomodating my KOSHER KID?” I bring separate snacks for Naomi every single day, even though the camp provides snacks and dri

Is your name “Rivka”? Rebecca? Beck? Rose? Or Yerachmiel!

My mother was in a class today and somebody asked about the meaning of the name Rivka.  She figured I would know, having one for a kid and all.  I told her I remembered from deep, way back, that it meant “to bind,” but that I’d look it up for her, because I don’t have a source. I didn’t choose the name for its meaning, but rather, because both my grandmothers had the name:  my father’s mother, Rose, was Chana Rivka; my mother’s mother, Rebecca (everybody called her Beck), was just Rivka.  [Actually, I remember her sister saying once that her name was Rivka Keindel.  However, I have never seen or heard the name Keindel (rhymes with Sheindel) anywhere else, so I dropped this assertion early on and it is not on her grave; the sister did not say anything at the time she was buried.] So it was clear we were going to have a Rivka, and it’s a good name, a tzadekes following in the giant footsteps of Sara Imenu, which is an image I enjoy.  So I didn’t bother looking up the name, when Nao

I did it! (Chapter Books)

Pat me on the back:  after almost sixteen years of raising kids, I finally, FINALLY read my kids a chapter book! Oh, I have started many over the years.  But finished ?  Zero. The fault is partly mine, and the credit is partly due to Charlotte Mason.  ;-) When the older kids were little, I was working full-time and they were in daycare, then school.  We were all just too busy and exhausted to do chapter books.  Since learning about Charlotte Mason homeschooling, I’ve come to realize how very important it is to sustain a child's attention far beyond the "twaddle-length" of most kids' books. I chose Little House on the Prairie, specificially the first book, Little House in the Big Woods .   Or perhaps I should say WE chose, because Naomi loves the fact that Elisheva also enjoys these books.  In fact, they’re great for all ages, and I suspect the big kids enjoy listening in and/or picking up the books when I’m not reading them, just to browse through. The Little House

I hope there’s a moment

… in everybody’s life – if they were raised frum – maybe in their early 20s; maybe when they have a few little kids, and they come out of a busy fast day of taking care of kids and they say, “I never knew.”  And they feel immensely grateful.  “I never knew how much my parents were doing.” To kids, these horrid fast days just feel like normal, busy days.  So maybe they never realized before how much it took for their parents to stay cheerful, to stay busy and alert, serve three meals just as usual, read stories, play games, drive to camp, bike to shul, all while preparing a delicious after-fast meal for themselves. Well, I feel like I just ran a marathon.  And I sure hope my kids realize – and that they’re immensely grateful someday.

Menu-Planning Monday #23: 8 Av, 5770 (erev Tisha b’Av)

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!  (What’s Tisha b’Av?  Click here to find out!) We are a Jewish family of 6 (2 parents, 4 kids) and all our meals are kosher. Newcomers, you can read my MPM intro here which tells you all about who we are and what we eat, or just visit my super-duper-list-tastic itemization of Everything We Eat .  So today is the last of the days of mourning leading up to Tisha b’Av , when all our meals have been vegetarian (no meat or wine).  Tonight begins the 25-hour fast itself, but that doesn’t mean there are no meals to plan – we have to eat TONIGHT, before the fast, and TOMORROW NIGHT, afterwards, so in fact, no suppers will be missed in the observance of this day!  Another note:  even though the fast is over Tuesday night, the mourning period extends into Wednesday morning.  In general, we continue the “nine days” (really TEN) and do not eat meat, drink wine, listen to music,  have haircuts or in general enjoy ourselves until after noon on We

Fast cheap hanging planter

This planter makes me SO happy!!!  I potted it up back in May when I did the petunias, and believe me, it didn’t look like much back then.  This was basically a “leftovers” pot:  two spare lobelia plugs I’d grown from seed, a neglected indoor spider plant, and a sprig of coleus that I found snapped off a hanging planter at a Home Depot store (I didn’t do anything special, just stuck it in the soil and kept it watered). It might not look like one of those huge, overflowing-with-blooms planters you buy at a garden store, but all the plants inside mean something to me, and they’re all healthy and doing great.  What more could I ask for? Oh.  I just realized I lied.  Because this planter was VERY cheap – almost so cheap as to be free.  Two lobelia seeds ?  A billionth of a penny.  A spider plant we got free at the Ex many years ago.  And a coleus sprig that would have been swept up and trashed in a big-box store.  But I lied because it was fast only in that it took only seconds t

Six-Word Saturday: 7 Av, 5770

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! Short trip first… fast… then gone! Abigail’s taking the big kids “camping” tomorrow, Tuesday is Tisha b’Av , and then on Thursday, they’re off to Calgary for their annual visit with grandparents and other assorted family and friends, human and doggie, out there.  Last year, I went with them .  This year, I am mostly just relieved that I don’t have to travel anywhere.  And yes, there is relief that we will be semi-childless for much of the next three weeks.  But we’re also losing our “built-in babysitter”!!!  I am scheming to find a way to go out with Ted Wednesday night before the big kids head off because after that, we’ll be relying on the kindness of my mother and sisters. “Camping” is in quotes, by the way, because as Elisheva points out, it’s just overnight – they have to be back in time to eat the meal before the fast on Monday – and they’re not going too far from home .

Shabbos Food Plan a la Ted

  Ted’s off work today (he works every other weekend instead), so he made the rhubarb pie himself (and some mini-pie-lets with the leftovers), but I’m not doing brownies.  Kinda sick of brownies right now, unless anyone has an amazing brownie recipe that is worlds amazinger than the regular ones we make. Here’s his pie, all done!   I’m baking banana cake right now, and if I have more chips left over (plus time, plus energy), I think I’ll try Mrs. S’s (Our Shiputzim) kids’ chocolate-chip cookie recipe , which uses oil instead of margarine or butter (pl us a whole lotta egg).  I won’t do the brownie thing inside, but it looks very interesting, maybe for Elisheva to make sometime… The brisket and gravy are from the freezer – my mother made it a few weeks ago, but we had lots of leftovers.  The roast potatoes are local new potatoes, from the farmers’ market yesterday. Oh - “shiny chicken” refers to glaze-style Shake & Bake… we seem to be alternating Shake & Bake flavo

Hanging Things 2010, part the Deux

I promised in the first part that I would post pics of the three hanging things I had forgotten.  And then, today, Gayla Trail of You Grow Girl had a post all about growing sweet potatoes !  She mentions that the leaves are edible, something that’s well-known in Africa and not-at-all-known here.  So even if we don’t have a long enough season to get actual tubers, at the end of the season we can eat the plant rather than throwing it away! So here’s my own homegrown sweet potato, finally growing vigourously.  Lovely foliage!  But, inspired by Gayla , I really, really want to try them in grow bags next year! Click here to see this potato when it first started growing roots, back in May .  It was very slow to start this year – after many many weeks of almost no progress – perhaps because the house was so cold.  I separated off about three slips and planted them separately in a hanging planter.  For more info on starting sweet potatoes, have a look here and here . Here are two oth

Cookin’ the “Orthoprax” soup

Ortho = correct Dox = thought Prax = actions Orthodox Jews = those whose every thought is correct.  Ha ha ha. And then, there are the “Orthoprax,” people accused of just going through the motions without necessarily meaning it.  This is the “religious but not spiritual” (RBNS) counterpart to the SBNR epidemic (one in five Americans, apparently). But while SBNR is seen as thrilling and new-age and laudable, for some mysterious reason RBNS is seen as slimy, lying and/or just plain hypocritical.  Why?  We say “going through the motions” like it’s a bad thing. I see two categories of SBNR folks.  One, like Orthoprax Rabbi , doesn’t believe at all:  the atheist – in his case, doing it for a paycheque, others, for family or community pressure.  Second, like Modern Orthoprax , admits to some degree of theism, or at least agnosticism, and affirms the value of some religious practice and ritual. To be honest, I can’t relate much to the first group; the second feels closer to

Persicaria (polygonum) amplexicaulis “Firetail” (fleeceflower), 2010

A little concerned about the “vigourous” growth habit of these.   I don’t know if you can see here, but there are two huge clumps of this plant in the left-side foreground. From two small plants last year ,  they have grown to occupy almost the entire front bed.  The foliage is not that beautiful, though it does appear to be big, bold and bug resistant. I may have to divide this sooner than expected. You can see a few coleus peeking out here and there.  When the  persicaria quits flowering, I plan to lop it back mightily and by then hopefully the coleus will have grown in to take its place in the (metaphorical) sun.

Look at the difference 2 weeks makes!

Here are the three free sub-irrigated planters I built two weeks ago . First, the two identical tomato planters… doing amazing; check! But the zucchini in the small planter is the star of the show.  Click back and see how runty it was!  And look at it now!  (in between these two homegrown bananas…) Other sub-irrigated (self-watering) news: Two out of three of last year’s planters are doing great.  Kale and tomatoes in the left one: No close-up, but zucchini and a tomato in the right one:   But the third one is kinda runty… I threw in another tomato and pulled out any traces of the leeks that were growing there, in case they were inhibiting the tomatoes’ growth.   This is a bad picture, because it doesn’t really show the setup at all, but I have two more self-watering planters with tomatoes by the side door.  Again, they were easy and FREE to build and the tomatoes are growing stupendously.   I hope by growing tomatoes in self-watering planters, they will h