Thursday, January 25

Harvest Soup

In honor of Soup Swap day, here is one of our favorite soups

Harvest Soup

2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 leeks, whites only, washed and thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pear, such as Bartlett or Anjou, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes (optional)
10 cups Chicken Stock
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk

Wrap bay leaves, fresh thyme, parsley, and black peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth, and tie into a sachet with kitchen twine. Set aside. Heat butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and onion, and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 2 minutes more. Add potatoes, squash, and pear, if using. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add sachet, chicken stock, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove sachet, and discard. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Add milk. Bring soup just to a simmer over medium heat. Taste, and adjust for seasoning. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 24

Tu B'Shevat

The latest announcements from my shul reminded me that I need to hurry up and start getting ready for Tu B'Shevat. I wanted to make this Tu B’Shevat special as it will be the first we celebrate as a family. Technically its not the Froggy’s first, but the last year went by in a newborn lack-of-sleep fuzz, and so we didn’t do much for some holidays.

Tu B'Shevat is the 15th day of the Jewish month, Shevat which this year corresponds to

February 13th on the Gregorian calendar. It is the "New Year" for trees, and heralds the coming of spring for me. For many years, when I was not affiliated with a synagogue,the January influx of garden catalogues said its time for Tu B'Shevat and garden planning. Every year on Tu B'Shevat I try to plant something. Growing up in South Florida, it was easy. In Boston, it meant starting seeds indoors. This year in Virginia, with the mild winter we are having, I am debating trying to put something in the ground.

To mark how special this year is I am creating our own Tu B’Shevat seder. There are several good samples available. Most follow a pattern similar to the Pesach seder. Some focus on the numerology of the date using 15 different types of fruits/nuts whiles other focus on the seven species. We are modeling ours after this one. I chose it for its simplicity. I love the beauty and imagery of this one and may well use it or parts of it when Froggy is older and willing to sit longer. We also like this one because of the actions it includes.

Here is my prep list:

  • Obtain 15 different types of fruits and nuts - five from each of the following three categories. I chose the specific 5 I did with a mind towards what my family would eat, what was available locally and the seven species.
    • 1) fruits or nuts with an inedible outer shell and an edible inner core: pineapple, coconut, banana, kiwi and pomegranate.
    • 2) fruits with edible outer flesh and pithy, inedible cores: olive, date, peach, apricot and persimmon.
    • 3) fruits which are edible throughout. Here no protective shells, neither internal nor external are needed. The symbolic fruits should be eaten entirely and include: strawberry, grape, fig, raspberry and blueberry.
  • Obtain red and white wine
  • Plant a tree in Israel in Froggy’s honor
  • Obtain seed starting materials to plant with Froggy on before the seder
  • Obtain and learn classic Tu b'Shevat song, "Atzei zeitimomdim"

I also want to share two of my favorite child-friendly TuB’Shevat links Babaja News and Torah Tots.

A Toddler

Froggy is now officially a toddler. She is walking on her own. She started walking Monday evening. She is not really brave enough to walk on her own but if I stand her up and only take my hands away once she has her balance she will walk towards me. She walked approximately 10 steps as I kept backing up. She even took 3 steps from the table to the chair all on her own without prompting. Now I just need to help her gain more confidence.

Homemaking Meme

I saw this at Lindsey's this morning, and had to jump in!

Aprons – Y/N?

Yes – I own one but I never remember to wear

Baking – Favorite thing to bake:

Cookies – all different kinds. I love to experiment.

Clothesline – Y/N?

No, I miss having one since we left the farm. It is great for airing blankets and drying quilts.

Donuts – Have you ever made them?

No. My mother-in-law made some here during her last visit and left the recipe but I haven’t been brave enough to try them yet.

Every day – One homemaking thing you do every day:


Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freeze?

Yes. It is great for freezing fresh summer produce for access during the winter months. It was critical for holding all the suppers I made up during the end of my pregnancy that we lived off for many weeks when Froggy first came home.

Garbage Disposal – Y/N?

Yes – thank goodness.

Handbook – What is your favorite homemaking resource?

Ironing – Love it or hate it?

I hate it! I only do the absolute minimum I must.

Junk drawer – Y/N? Where is it?

Nope. Junk is everywhere.

Kitchen: Design & Decorating?

I wish. It is what it is. Small and less than ideal for one who loves to cook as much as I do.

Love: What is your favorite part of homemaking?

Being able to see Froggy grow everyday all day long. Knowing that she is getting the best start in life possible.

Mop - Y/N?

No – floors get cleaned on hands and knees the way my mother did. I tried a mop and the floor never seemed clean to me.

Nylons - Wash by hand or in the washing machine?

Washing machine. I don’t wear anything that can’t go in the machine.

Oven - Do you use the window, or open the door to check?

Open the door. I can’t tell anything through the window.

Pizza - What do you put on yours?

Crab and fresh mozzarella and homemade sauce. If it were only me, I would add mushrooms or spinach or some other veggie.

Quiet - What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?

Blog, do schoolwork, eat lunch.

Recipe card box - Y/N?

No! Most of my recipes are either in cookbooks or on the computer.

Style of house -

Split-level Which means you enter into the stairwell. The bedrooms and formal living room are upstairs. Downstairs is the kitchen, dining room and family room. It was built in the 1970's and is part of a quiet neighborhood of similarly styled homes.

Tablecloths and napkins - Y/N?

For Shabbat, holidays and when there is company.

Under the kitchen sink - Organized or toxic wasteland?

Pretty much organized. We cleaned out all the toxic chemicals as part of babyproofing.

Vacuum - How many times per week?

Only about once a week. The only room with carpet is the family room. I sweep or wipe down the hardwood more often.

Wash - How many loads of laundry do you do a week?

A LOT! We do diapers alone about 3 times a week.

X's - Do you keep a daily list of things to do and cross them off?

No. On a work weekend I will make a to-do list and I make grocery lists or errand lists

Yard - Who does what?

We are still working on this one. I do weeding and planting and trimming the bushes. Mowing and filling the bird feeders is mostly Dad’s job.

Zzz's - What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?

Put Froggy to bed. Once she is finally asleep (usually between 10pm and midnight), the day is done and I get to relax if not fall immediately asleep myself.

WFMW Vegetables

As almost every parent has at some time, I have been having a real hard time getting veggies into The Froggy. Hence this weeks WFMW. Carrot Pancakes. The froggy loves them and it gets veggies into a child who would not otherwise get them. Here is the recipe:

2 cups pancake mix
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp clove
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cup shredded carrot

In a bowl combine the pancake mix, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In another bowl, beat eggs and milk. Pour into the dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Stir in carrots. Pour pancakes onto griddle. (I make silver dollar size pancakes) Turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until second side is golden.

Look for other WFMW tips this week at Rocks in my Dryer .

Tuesday, January 23

January Musings

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up. It is January Musings. There are over 45 entries this week. So go take a look and share in the good advice.


I am writing this up because I know her doctor will ask at her 15mth checkup.

Verbal meaningful words (ie more than just parroting)
momma (frequently pronounced mamba)
baa (her word for sheep)
mmbo (gymbo)


She understands lots. She points to her nose, head and mouth if you ask her to. She will roll the ball to Lion but not me. She loves walking with her Pooh walking toy but still is not walking alone. She holds her feet out for you to put her socks or shoes on.

Saturday, January 20

How cruchy are you

I am not usually one to pass along quizzes but I thought this one was just too cute.

I scored a 92 - pretty crispy.

Tuesday, January 16

The Beginning

When does homeschooling start? Many, even some experienced homeschoolers will answer 4 or 5 years old, when the child would otherwise start public school. I disagree. It starts when the family decides to homeschool and for many that may be at birth. We are all our children's first teachers. Why should homeschoolers who are so focused on teaching their children discount these early years? Just because the child can't read or write and is not receiving formal lessons does not mean the child is not learning or that parents aren't teaching.

So let's not pretend our littlest learners haven’t started yet. Let us rejoice in their learning as much as we rejoice in the boy who finally masters fractions or the girl explorer who must identify every type of flora and fauna. And let us chose to encourage that learning deliberately.

So what are we already doing to help these fledglings prepare to take flight? First and foremost we are talking to them and reading to them. As well, any time they are watching us perform tasks or just move around they are learning from us.

Is there more? Yes. I want to share a great book I recently discovered. It offers weekly activities that help foster development and learning without being "school-like". As a first time parent, it gives me new games to play with my little one. If one week's game is not interesting we don't play it as often. If it is too simple, we may modify to make it more challenging. If it is fun and challenging, we keep playing it for weeks on end.

Another recommendation I have to share from our experience is sign language.

I hear of so many parents searching out foreign nannies and taking their toddlers to an immersion program where the toddlers learn a language the parents can't speak, everything from Spanish and French to Chinese and Finnish. Why do they say they are doing this? "It helps the brain development for the child to be bilingual." Unfortunately for them, studies have shown that a child is only truly bilingual if both languages are spoken fluently in the home. And as well if you are going to teach a second language, it would help if it were one that facilitates your child actually communicating.

Sign language has those advantages and one more. If you take the time to learn to sign yourself, you can teach the child signs not just at the same time as verbal language, but actually faster. The child learns to manipulate his or her limbs and hands before they learn all the complex tasks necessary to form words. So you can communicate with your child earlier and easier. Sometimes just a little communication can make all the difference between crying for (what seems like) forever, and a contented child.

Saturday, January 13

Calling All Jewish Homeschoolers

I know there are homeschoolers out there who are Jewish. There must be. Yet it seems all the blogs I find are Christian or Catholic. And while some of these blogs are wonderful and I read them faithfully, they do not offer the sense of community I am looking for. They cannot give a perspective on when a child is able to learn the different blessings before me or how best to teach the Sh'ma.

Please if you are a Jewish homeschooler or know of one, comment below or link to this post or let me know somehow.

Rule of Six

I was inspired by Lissa's Lilting House sidebar what she called "Our Rule of Six: Six Things to Include in Your Child's Day". I rearranged the order and added explainations for the what the rule means to us.

Six Things to Include in Your Child's Day:

prayer - We start and end our day with the Sh'ma. We are trying to add the blessings before meals as well.
imaginative play - free play, time to explore indoors and out.
meaningful work - the froggy's work is play but this is different than the imaginative play. This is guided play where we build her skills and help her grow.
good books - Both free "reading" and being read to and seeing me read for me.
beauty (art, music, nature) - Nature and music are easy for us. We are working to add more art.
ideas to ponder and discuss - I left this one in because I feel it is important. However our conversations are one-sided at this point in time. This is a reminder to me to have those conversations one-sided or not.

Friday, January 12


in·ves·ti·ture [in-ves-ti-cher, -choor] –noun - the formal bestowal, confirmation, or presentation of rank, office, or a possessory or prescriptive right, usually involving the giving of insignia or an official title.

In Girl Scout parlance, it is the ceremony by which one formally becomes a Girl Scout.

And with that we have my investiture as a blogger. My first official post.

Why become a blogger you ask? To record and share our journey in raising the froggy. To hopefully give back some of the wisdom I gain through other blogs. And to create a Jewish presence in all the Catholic and Christian homeschooling blogs.