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Showing posts from July, 2012

Cranky Complaints-Lady confronts… highway robbery

Well, for a change, this bill may actually not be my fault, but I promised my mother I’d get to the bottom of it anyway.  Recently, she got a collection letter for $70-something from 407 ETR, the nice folks who run a little toll highway just north of the city.  We do use this highway from time to time, but not often, and since I do all my banking online, I quickly verified that I had paid any bills we’d received in, oh, say, the last four years since my father died and my mother took over the bills. So I emailed them through their website and they replied that the charge was indeed legitimate, from a second account that was no longer active… and for which we had not received a bill in anyone’s living memory.  And $70 is a LOT of money, given that each trip on this little highway costs under $10. Then I went online and punched in the (inactive) account number, and discovered… this (rather badly cut n’ pasted together): You read that right (if your eyes are good enough) – it goes

Oliver’s Labels Updated REVIEW and Giveaway!

*** UPDATE!  We have a winner – Yosefa of Cooking Outside the Box !!!  Always nice to share with another food blogger… Back in January of 2011 , I first had the good fortune to review Oliver’s Labels products and I was very, very pleased.  Thrilled, in fact, because I discovered that they have a line of kosher kitchen labels that actually STICK.  Having wrestled with various brands, I was delighted that not only do these stick strongly to a variety of surfaces (including wooden spoons!), but they are not see-through, meaning you can see them no matter what colour your implement happens to be. At left is the picture I took of various utensils back then – over a year and a half ago.  You can see how useful these would be in distinguishing dairy from meat when the implements are almost identical, like with the pastry brushes (we make turkey pastries often for Shabbos, so we NEED a meat pastry brush!).  I just rounded up as many of these as I could find, plus a couple of new ones, to sh

Stamping Stars for Parshas Devarim!

As I seem to say often, this craft is a little late for this year, but on the bright side, it’s WAAAAAY early for next year! ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶם הִרְבָּה אֶתְכֶם וְהִנְּכֶם הַיּוֹם כְּכוֹכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם לָרֹב: “G-d has multiplied you, and look – now today you are as many as the stars in the heavens.” Inspired by Creative Jewish Mom , we had some friends over to help us recycle some styrofoam trays (they came with corn on the cob, which is the worst way to buy corn (shrink-wrapped from the US – ugh!), but the best way to get styrofoam trays because there’s no concern about washing off meat or fish residue! I have tried stamping with styrofoam before without much success, but she offers the tip that you MUST use a “thin coat of not-runny paint,” and I ran with that and discovered that I have always used too much paint in the past, and sometimes watered it down too much.  Just a thin layer of full-strength paint, right out of the bottle, painted onto the stamp, is exactly the right th

Short Parsha Riddles: Devarim / דְּבָרִים

דְּבָרִים / Devarim / Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22 Click for printable PDF version . Don’t forget to read this week’s Parsha Poem AAACK! NO PARSHA POEM! (I think only 1 or 2 are missing at this point from the entire yearly cycle…) and parsha overview .  Plus… copywork and parsha activities – something for every week of the year! פָּרָשָׁת דְּבָרִים Parshas Devarim דְּבָרִים / Devarim / Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22 [1] Before all the rules, Moshe starts with good news A wonderful message to give all the Jews: Hashem loves you forever, his Earthly ally, He’s multiplied you like the __________ of the sky! [2] You might think it’s fun to be a good judge, As jolly and funny as bars of sweet fudge; But in fact, Moshe says, it is really hard work, For each case you must do this and not be a jerk. [3] In the tale of meraglim, Moshe has a surprise By saying he really agreed with those guys; The ones who all told him, “we must go and see!” Now tell me, just what could his reasoning be?  Why did

Shabbos Erev Tisha b’Av: What “R” you eating?

Here’s our food plan, for a full 3-meal Shabbos to go into the fast!  If you’re not sure what Tisha b’Av is (and also, perhaps, what Wikipedia is, because I’m sure there’s good information over there), click here for my very own FAQ.  Submit your questions here or there and I’ll be sure to get ‘em answered in time for next year! Note:   Crossed out = done! Shabbos Dinner (Meat) Challah Chicken soup w/kneidlach Shake n’ Bake chipotle chicken (Ted – to bake at last minute before Shabbos) Mashed potatoes Corn / NO Black Bean Salad Jello w/blueberries (I just type out Ted’s food plan… frankly, I think this is a terrible idea, but (postscript) I made it anyway) Other hopefully chocolatey desserts Shiputzim Chocolate-Chip cookies Pareve blueberry cake (using coconut milk, coconut butter instead of the real thing) More almond brittle ! Lunch (Meat) Challah Turkey pastries (YM) Slicey meats NO!!! Cholent (ditto – terrible idea; I will seek to undermine this cholent idea

Work in Progress Sunday: Finished Softie BRAG!

Okay, so I know this isn’t a crafts blog, but it’s MY blog, so bear with me here as I brag for a second about this little guy, who turned out to be a bit of a pain to create.  It’s supposed to be a sleepy-eyed triceratops, but kind of looks like a deranged mouse.  This is a baby gift for a baby who isn’t born yet, don’t know if it’s a boy or girl, but who needed something a little out of the ordinary. Here’s the pattern , but I wouldn’t really recommend it.  I have no idea why the head, body and tail were separate pieces; I’ve made patterns before that just did everything all in one piece, and I think I’ll stick with that next time, because I don’t love stitching them together.  Also, the horns are a little wonky because there’s not much room on the face (okay, also because I’m not very good at this sort of thing, and lost patience and just kind of stuck everything together any which way).    Remember, if you’re looking for genuine crafty, check out my friend Decemberbaby’s blo

Devarim Parsha Summary: Learning to walk, with Moshe

This is a basic overview of the parsha story in a format that can be adapted for a wide range of ages. Sources include parsha text, commentaries and midrash.  When introducing midrash or other non-pshat elements, I  use the words “some people think” or something similar. ( find out why )   Please see the Vayeishev overview for how we use these narratives  in our homeschool.  I also have copywork sheets to go with the weekly parsha (Devarim is up now, including 2 levels of copywork for littles and middles)… enjoy! בס״ד Last week, we finished reading Bamidbar. Now, we’re starting the very last sefer in the entire Chumash! This is a very strange sefer (book) indeed. Each one we’ve learned so far told part of the story of bnei Yisrael: Bereishis had the most story in it, talking about over 2000 years of history; Shemos tells about more than 100 years; Vayikra is pretty small, with only 14 months of the story, and Bamidbar is a long one, because it talks about 38 years of our trave

Haveil Havalim #369

Lucky me!  It’s my first time hosting the weekly Haveil Havalim - a carnival of Jewish and Israeli blogs.The Haveil Havalim blog carnival was founded by Soccer Dad and every week a different blogger takes a turn to host a weekly collection of blog posts. The term הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים / “Haveil Havalim,” which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Kohelet , (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got bogged down in materialism and other excesses and realized that it was nothing but “hevel,” or in English, “vanity.” The carnival is hosted by different bloggers each week, and jointly coordinated through our Facebook Group .  If you blog about Israel or Jewish-related subjects, please feel free to join the Facebook group or have a look at the Haveil Havalim website . And so, without my usual further ado… Israel: Proud mom and recent olah Ester explores Israel and family connections in A day off… at Northern

Quick Kitchen Tip: Running out of toasted sesame oil?

This is one important staple if you’re thinking of cooking anything even remotely Asian-inspired.  But sometimes, we don’t plan ahead and run out. So! Once you’ve poured off the last drops, grab your trusty bottle of cheap-and-flavourless cooking oil:  we use canola, but whatever you usually use for salads and things will be fine.  Pour some into the sesame-oil bottle.  Less is better, of course, because it won’t dilute the flavour, but if you need, say, 1/4 cup or whatever for a recipe, use that much.  Put the lid back on and shake your new oil well. Refrigerate for a few hours or more – giving it more time lets it pick up more flavour.  Use as you would sesame oil.  The colour isn’t quite so rich & beguiling, but it will impart some yummy sesame taste.  You could probably get even more flavour by toasting actual sesame seeds, adding them to the oil, letting it sit for a while or overnight, then filtering out the seeds.  But then, you could get the very best flavour by running

Is Judaism a “religion of peace”?

This week’s parsha, Matos, includes a command to wipe out the women and children of Midian.  Shocking, yes, and disappointing, perhaps, to those of us with “modern sensibilities.”  Still, I must disagree with this assertion I found in an otherwise helpful dvar Torah :  “We are taught that Judaism is a religion of peace, and so we read these words with some disbelief- how can a Torah of life and peace teach ethnic cleansing?” Here’s the thing:  I don't believe the single word "peace" encapsulates Judaism any more than "Shabbat" or "kashrut" might.  It is a religion "of" doing God's will.  We can argue about what that will is (yay, arguments l’shem shomayim!), but sometimes, as in the difficult bits of this parsha or the command to wipe out Amalek, that Godly will comprises bloodshed and revenge as much as it does peace.  Which is not to say that the two – devilishly brutal, bloody revenge, and sweet, Godly peace – are mutually exclusive.

Cranky Complaints-Lady when the CHIPS are down…

Attention:  Canadians!  Call to action follows.  We can make a difference (maybe)! These have been reformulated, along with the chunks, and are no longer kosher (pareve).  I'm sure the kosher supervisory organization is happy to keep on taking your money for their stamp of approval, but ask them honestly how many people who care about kosher are interested in dairy chocolate chips.  There are a million dairy chocolate products out there, but very few high-quality pareve ones.  The reason these have become the most popular chocolate chips within Canada's Jewish community (and well-known by reputation elsewhere) is because they were kosher, pareve - and quite tasty.  Because products with dairy in them, like these chocolate chips, cannot be eaten within six hours of a meal containing meat or meat products, these chips are now next to useless in a kosher kitchen.  Very upset over this switch, and I hope I'm not the only one writing to you about it... Not quite up to my u

Short Parsha Riddles: Matos-Masei / מַּטּוֹת-מַסְעֵי

בְּמִדְבַּר / Bamidbar / Numbers 25:10-30:1 Click for printable PDF version . Don’t forget to read my Parsha Poem ( Matos and Masei ) and parsha overview (both).  Plus… copywork and parsha activities – something for every week of the year! Art credit:  Once again, actual original artwork, specially commissioned from a talented illustrator on fiverr … בס״ד פָּרָשָׁת מַּטּוֹת-מַסְעֵי Parshas Matos-Masei בְּמִדְבַּר / Bamidbar / Numbers 30:2-32:42 and 33:1-36:13 [1] When it comes to cheeses, we all have our taste, Some might like a muenster or cheddar, But when thinking of vows, they must not go to waste, For Hashem says to keep every __________! [2] Revenge on Bilam, that bad guy, is coming, For the evil he worked in his days; And just to be sure that he’ll quit all his humming, Hashem said to kill him four ways.  What were they? [3] Another great tzaddik is here introduced Related to Kaleiv, it can be deduced; Another great leader, through family produced A soldier in “b

The perils of bad Hebrew school, Sunday school, yeshiva

At almost thirteen I dropped out of Sunday school… mainly because I suddenly saw that the picture of Jewish history that we were learning, of a marvelous and talented people surrounded by dull and evil strangers was far from the truth. The error of anti-Semitism is not that the Jews are not really bad after all, but that evil, stupidity and grossness is not a monopoly of the Jewish people but a universal characteristic of mankind in general. … The error of pro-Semitism is… that intelligence, good will, and kindness is not, thank God, a monopoly of the Jewish people but a universal characteristic of mankind in general.  Therefore you see at thirteen I was not only converted to other religious views but I also stopped believing that the Jewish people are in any way "the chosen people." - Richard Feynman ( letter ) In case you figure your kids are smart, that they’ll figure it out and develop a connection to Judaism and Hashem no matter how badly it’s taught to them and emb

Latest blog spam

I have received the following spam comment a few times now... aargh.  I do admire how it echoes the blog's theme without containing any meaning whatsoever.   ----- Original Message ----- From: Jenifar To: Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 6:23 AM Subject: [ blog name ] New comment on... Jenifar has left a new comment on your post... As I am quiet new in Jewish, looking around for some Jewish information> Got something important here. Nice to get it. Have you seen this video [ link removed ] It helped me get over my internal anger.

Feynman on Humility

Another memorable passage in an audiobook of Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman .  I promise I’ll stop talking about Richard Feynman soon… I’m just so very, very impressed this time through his memoir, Surely You’re Joking ( remember , I only listen to it when I’m doing laundry, so it’s taken a while to get through it). Where I am right now, he’s lamenting the fact that he used to drop in on local high schools to chat with kids there about physics, maybe a handful of them (“about relativity, or whatever they asked me about”)… but after his Nobel prize, he couldn’t do that anymore.  The first time he tried, they filled the auditorium with 300 kids.  “It was a mess.” “I got that shock about 3 or 4 times, being an idiot [!] and not catching on right away.”  Invited to Berkeley, he prepared a rather technical talk, but arrived to find a huge crowd of people who knew nothing about physics.  “I know there’s not that many people in Berkeley who know the level at which I prepared my talk.” F

Facebook says… I say… * tznius warning *

Okay, so I promise this will not become a regular feature.  But there is seriously much drivel out there that needs commentary in my own private place because I will tick off all my friends, IRL and otherwise, if I do it on their posts. So what does facebook say now???  That THIS is beautiful art. (*** tznius warning *** please don’t scroll down if your children, husband, father-in-law or anyone who might object, or go mad with desire, is looking over your shoulder) What is THIS ?                 (just a little bit further)                   (thanks for scrolling!) A few of the many comments (344 likes, 144 shares): Very beautiful, one of my favorites :) wow, that's just awesome beautiful pic my i steel it hun?? [sure: “steel” my dictionary, too, while you’re at it] ty ty [ty = thank you, in the hectic-paced world of the Web] Wow! I love this!!!! I love this pic so much. I want it as a tattoo.. Gorgeous picture! There were a few smart comments: I

Facebook wisdom says… I say…

Sometimes, I think I’m the “anti-attachment parent.”  But there’s some real drivel out there, isn’t there???  So here’s the “wisdom” going around on facebook this evening: “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.  If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”  - Catherine M. Wallace These comments are from the 121 commenters who mostly adore with this quote, eagerly, as it were: So true! Oh my this is wonderful Wonderful advice 4 sure:)) I have to borrow this... it is way to true to pass by. so true....always listened to my kids! VERY WISE ADVICE!!!! Now that's somethin to think about AMEN. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that my sons have been able to talk with me their entire lives. I say we grew up together! I was a young mom & my sons are close in age! We are truly Blessed So true!! Only one

Matos-Masei Parsha Summary: Revenge… and forgiveness

This is a basic overview of the parsha story in a format that can be adapted for a wide range of ages. Sources include parsha text, commentaries and midrash.  When introducing midrash or other non-pshat elements, I use the words “some people think” or something similar. ( find out why ) Please see the Vayeishev overview for how we use these narratives  in our homeschool.  I also have copywork sheets to go with the weekly parsha… enjoy!  (um, okay, not one for Pinchas yet, but maybe tomorrow) בס״ד Hashem wants us to be VERY careful choosing our words! You promised your best friend he can borrow your bicycle tomorrow, and he’s so excited! But when you get home, your family is packing for the cottage and bringing your bike along. The next day, your friend waits and waits and waits… and you never show up. He’s disappointed – you broke your promise! This parsha reminds us how serious it is to make a נֶדֶר / neder, a vow. We try not to make promises, in case we can’t fulfill them. Un