Friday, October 31

Friday's Find - Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

We do not read many specifically Halloween books around here. What with all the Autumn books, the High Holidays, Sukkot and two October birthdays, it is just hard to fit many in. Still we always find time for a good Fairy story.

All Hallows Eve: The Story of The Halloween Fairy is a nice story that does not focus on costumes or gluttony. Many parents use it as an introduction to trading the Halloween candy away for something else. We have not broached that idea yet but may in the future. We just read it because it is fun.

So those are my Halloween Friday's Finds. What are yours? Please encourage your readers to share their reviews as well by linking back to this site.

Wednesday, October 29

WFMW - Cooking Without a Book

This week's tip is also a book review. What works for me this Wednesday is How to Cook without a Book. In a collection of cookbooks, this is the one I go to most often. This book is all about techniques. Instead of looking for a specific recipe that uses the ingredients I want, I decide what kind of food I want and then fidn that technique and customize the concept to what I have. Once I have a technique perfected I no longer refer to the book as much if at all. This book is how I learned to make fritattas which are now a family staple.

Today I am experimenting with soup.

To find out what works for others, visit Rocks in My Dryer

Tuesday, October 28

New Clothes Just in time for the holidays

I just discovered a wonderful new company for clothes for Froggy. And better yet I might even get a sample for free. Wish me luck.


Carnival of Homeschooling 148

The Halloween edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling is up. The carnival is over here this week rather than its regularly scheduled location. Get a cup of coffee and go see all the great trick or treats.

Monday, October 27

Its Giveaway Time Again - Cooking and Kids

It's hard to believe that time is going by so quickly, but here it is already - the big Fall 2008 Bloggy Giveaway kicks off today, and you're invited. Click on the link (going live at 8am CST) to participate in literally hundreds of great bloggy giveaways.
For my own giveaway this time I'm giving away something that combines my three favorite things in life; children, books and cooking.

Cooking with Herb is a companion book to Herb, The Vegetarian. Bright, funny watercolor, crayon, and pen-and-ink illustrations set the tone for a happy time in the kitchen. Grand-Ma-Ma Flora, Squat, Haggis, Gorse and Meathook, help Herb the Dragon prepare such vegetarian specialties as Spaghetti Sandwiches (a frittata of pasta, eggs and cheese), Veggie Sailboats and Radical Dragon-Salsa.

To enter the drawing leave me a comment telling me your favorite book, recipe or childhood moment and be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you win. While you are here, relax and look around.

The winners will be announced before the start of Shabbat on October 31st.

Menu Planning Monday

Sunday – soup and sandwiches
Monday –Spaghetti with homemade meat sauce
Tuesday – Leftovers - class
Wednesday – Tofu Stirfry
Thursday – Classic Chili
Friday – Halloween – Dinner at Auntie's
Saturday – beef stew

Sunday, October 26

Classic Chili

As I said last week, I am a HUGE fan of chili. I needed to redeem myself after the disastrous experiment. I made a huge batch of my classic chili for Froggy's birthday party. It was such a hit that Froggy did not even get to taste it. I am making another batch this week to take to our Halloween pot-luck.

  • 3lbs ground meat - I have used both turkey and beef. Either is fine but the beef needs to be drained well
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 large cans kidney beans - drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (280z) petite diced tomato
  • 3 cups barbecue sauce - yep barbecue sauce. It is my secret ingredient. We use a slightly sweet one but choose what works for you
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 3 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • red pepper to taste
Brown the meat and onion. Drain thoroughly. Add all ingredients to crockpot. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. It tastes even better the next day. It is just that easy

Friday, October 24

Would you like Chocolate with that? - Birthday style

Lisa at Stop and Smell the Chocolate has challenged us to share romantic chocolate. These gifts are not necessarily romantic but they are super special to me.

The first I consider romantic. You be the judge. For my birthday one year, several years after we started dated, my husband gave me a bucket of chocolate fudge. No fudge is not my favorite form of chocolate. No this was not some uber-fancy fudge that made the gift so special. What makes the gift so special is knowing me. "Fudgebuckets" is my expletive of choice when I am frustrated. It has been since I was in middle school. But only my darling wonderful romantic husband would turn that into a gift. I kept that bucket of fudge for many many years sealed just as it was given until it got bumped in a move and started to become a science experiment. I cried when it went into the garbage.

The second is a gift from the past. Tomorrow is Froggy's American birthday and we welcomed it tonight as we welcomed Shabbat. As she blew out the candles on her birthday cake, my Poppop was with us. Her birthday cake tonight, as it has been every year and it was every year for me growing up, was his special recipe chocolate chip banana cake.

Friday's Finds - Chapter Books

Today's edition of Friday's Finds is a bonus round. In the past few years, there has been a big push to get children reading "chapter books" independently earlier and earlier. The books the child is capable of reading a junk with no meaningful plot, lousy language and flat characters. There is no reason for this. Finally sense is returning and parents are slowly moving away from this trend.

That does not mean that children cannot or should not be exposed to longer stories or books during preschool and early elementary. Parents can and should read these books with the children. So what books I hear you ask? Well...

First there is All-of-A-Kind Family. This is one of the very few books I remember reading and enjoying over and over again when I was in early elementary. We are reading it with Froggy now. The chapters are short enough and captivating enough that we can make it through a chapter in one or two sittings. Yet the language is rich and the story sparks conversation.

Second is Swallows and Amazons. This is the first in a series. One of the best books about regular children doing regular things I have ever read. My only regret with these books is that I did not discover them until I was an adult. The story is fun and the adventures are inspiring.

Our final find is Arthur of Albion. This book is a new release from Barefoot Books. It is more an anthology than a chapter book but since it is all the same characters I decided to include it. It is a beautiful book inside and out, a true gift book. It has a cloth binding, illustrations that take you back in time and engaging stories.

So those are my Friday's Finds. What are yours? Please encourage your readers to share their reviews as well by linking back to this site.

Wednesday, October 22

WFMW - OxyClean

I am going green. I have gotten rid of just about all the chemicals in the house. I swear by vinegar and baking soda. I have even switched over to a homemade laundry soap that works much better than the commercial products.
And then there is OxyClean - I don't use it all the time and I try other things first but it gets out stains like nothing else. And stains are a big part of life with a little one, or at least my little one. The key which my mother-in-law shared on her latest visit is to make a paste of it and apply directly to the stain. Leave it sit for awhile. Wash as normal. Bye Bye stain

Tuesday, October 21

Happy Birthday Froggy - Jewish Style

Today is Froggy's birthday according to the Jewish calendar. This morning we sang "Yom Huledet Samayach" to greet her. And this afternoon she will get her first haircut, Upsherin-style. The Upsherin is traditionally for boys only but being the egalitarian family we are off we go. We will say the blessing and both Daddy and I will cut a snip. And tonight at synagogue, she will get to wear her kippah. We will also make a donation to a charity in her name.

The Upsherin typically heralds the start of formal Torah study and it will for Froggy as well. The only "real" school work we are doing this year is My First Parsha Reader. We will be doing the weekly parsha reading in the book and talking about it. My objectives are two-fold; to introduce the stories, laws, information in the Torah and to teach Froggy the process of studying Torah with its cyclic nature. I cannot think of a better way and time to start this then on Simchat Torah, especially since her Jewish birthday is Erev Simchat Torah

Monday, October 20

Tonight's dinner - Vegetable Chili

Tonight I tried the vegetable chili recipe from my new Dream Dinners Cookbook. I am a huge fan of chili particularly on a cold day. And I am very tolerant of variations in chili. This one was awful. I backed down on the listed amount of cumin and it was still way too cuminy (ok I don't know how to say that grammatically correctly) It needed more liquid and the beans were crunchy and it was just gross all around.

Monday Muse - Frosty

While there is still no snowman in sight, there is definitely frost in the air. Thank you Dawn for your inspiring quote. I lit our first fire of the season this afternoon. Our playroom is downstairs and is always much colder than the rest of the house. I am hoping that I will be able to keep it a bit toastier without cranking up the heat on the whole house using the fireplace. It is pretty but does not seem to be helping the temperature much.

Plants stiff with frost,

a solitary rose edged with delicate lace;

the night air has tightened the earth,

prevented birth,

but the sun's heat starts to melt

the shimmering specks away.

by Mary Guckian

Last Night's Dinner - Turkey Pot Pie

For Shabbat in the Sukkah I made a big roast turkey. We had the inevitable leftovers so last night I made turkey pot pie. I have added the changes that I make in italics

1 1/2 poundsleftover turkey
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium-large onion chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick (I use 1 bag frozen carrots)
2 small celery ribs, cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tsp poultry seasoning
3 tablespoons dry sherry
3/4 cup frozen green peas, ( I use a whole 10oz bag)
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 box commercial puff pastry or phyllo dough ( I use regular pie dough)

Adjust oven rack to low-center position; heat oven to 400 degrees.

Increase heat to medium-high; heat oil in Dutch oven. Add onion,
carrots, and celery and saute until just tender, about 5 minutes. Season
to taste with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, shred chicken into bite-size
pieces. Transfer cooked vegetables to bowl with chicken; set aside.

Heat butter over medium heat in Dutch oven. When foaming subsides, add
flour; cook for about 1 minutes. Whisk in reserved chicken broth, milk,
any accumulated chicken juices and thyme. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat
to low and continue to simmer, stirring, until sauce fully thickens,
about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper; stir in sherry.

Pour sauce over chicken-vegetable mixture; stir to combine. Stir in peas
and parsley, and adjust seasonings. Pour mixture into a 13-by-9 inch pan
or any shallow baking dish of similar size or into six 12-ounce
ovenproof ramekins or bowls. Top as desired. Bake until pastry is golden
brown and filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes for large pies, 20 to 25
minutes for smaller pies

(I have 10-12 oz glass ramekins that I use and it makes 5. I use the pastry dough for both top and bottom)

Menu Planning Monday - Birthday Week

Sunday – Turkey Potpie
Monday – Chili and cornbread
Tuesday – Simchat Torah – Dinner Out
Wednesday –Turkey sandwiches – carrot sticks - cookies
Thursday – Crab and Broccoli Frittata
Friday –Meatloaf, acorn squash, asparagus, Chocolate Banana Cake
Saturday - Birthday dinner - Froggy Picks - cupcake to sing birthday over

I have not posted many recipes in the past. I will add the recipes as the week progresses and update this post with links.

Thursday, October 16

Friday's Finds - Welcome to the World

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Friday's Find. I welcome this carnival with a welcoming book and a giveawy. Everyone who shares their review this month will be entered to win a copy of "Welcome to the World"

Welcome to the World is my find of the week– This is the most touching book of babies and birth I have yet to encounter. From conception through the first year all the joys and trials of parenting are presented in poetry. The poems are collected from authors around the world and each is accompanied by a beautiful photograph. The end notes include a collection of birthing traditions from around the world. This has become a part of the welcome gift I give to every baby to join my circle of family and friends.

An excerpt from my favorite

“Come my son,

to see the reason why you were conceived

to know why you happened,

I will show you the beauty of a breath breathed deep into you

I will show you the world

That is a richness of acres beneath you feet.”

Friday's Finds Guidelines

Friday's Finds Guidelines


Upcoming themed editions of Friday's Finds:

October 31st-- The Halloween Edition
The Ghosts and goblins roam tonight. What is book will you be curling up with? What is child's holiday favorite?

November 14 -- The Thanksgiving Edition
With Thanksgiving around the corner, post your family's favorite books--the ones that you want to read over and over again. Or is there one that we should all avoid? Let us know that too.


Friday's Finds is a new addition at the Landing. I hope it will help us all unearth some real finds. To make it easier for everyone, here are some guidelines and answers.

1. So what exactly IS Friday's Finds, anyway?

Friday's Finds is a "blog carnival" (that concept is explained here). Basically, the idea is that on Friday you post a review of a book you and/or your children are reading. Hopefully most of the reviews will be great finds but please don't hesitate to steer people away from a real loser. You post a link back here to my Friday's Find post, and enter your link in the "Mr. Linky" form at the bottom of my post.

2. You do not have to ask me first before you participate in Friday's Finds. Just jump right in.

3. You are not required to use the Friday's Finds banner, though you are more than welcome to do so.

If you do, please be sure you're using the the current one, at the top of this post. If you don't know how to add an image to your post, you can follow the instructions here.

4. Please only leave a link if you have written a Friday's Finds post. Please mention Friday's Finds in your post, and link back to my master list here.

5. Link to your Friday's Finds post, not to the front page of your blog.

This makes browsing so much easier for everyone, especially when people browse around in the archives. For an explanation on how to do this, go here.

6. Please DO NOT host your own Friday's Finds "Mr. Linky" at your site.

I'd like to keep Lionden Landing as the only homepage for Friday's Finds, for simplicity's sake.

7. Please be patient with your e-mail questions.

In particular, if you have a question that could be answered by using the "Help" section in your blogging software ("How do I upload images?" or "How do I link back to you from my page?"), please check there for answers first.

8. When you enter your link on Mr. Linky, you will most likely notice that it says "delete link" next to your name. If you click on that, it will let you delete what you just posted. No one else can see it, just like you can't see the "delete link" next to my name on my computer.

9. Enter a 3-4 word description of your post, in parentheses, after you put your name. Be descriptive, be specific, and BE BRIEF.

For example, where the box below says "Your Name", you might put:

Melissa (Children animal book)


Julie (Adult romance)


Mary (Children alphabet)

Make sense? This will make it a jillion times easier to browse through the tips. PLEASE KEEP YOUR PARENTHETICAL TITLE TO A MAXIMUM OF 4 WORDS. Mr. Linky freaks out sometimes when the "Your Name" portion gets too long, and it can mess up the alignment of the whole deal, making it harder to read.

10. I'll put my Friday's Finds post up no later than 12:01 am (Eastern time) each Friday. Frequently, I'll have it up an hour or two earlier.

I know this is a lot of information! Please know that I'm just trying to find a way to make it easier for people to browse through all your wonderful ideas. Thank you SO much for participating in this--YOU are the reason it is such a success!

11. I reserve the right to delete any links that are inappropriate.

Wednesday, October 15

Favorite Fall Fun

Being the McLinky Person I am, I discovered this great contest and a great new blog today. She has invited everyone to share their family's favorite Fall activities.

Here are ours.

Every year we go apple picking. It started when we lived in apple country and the orchards were five minutes away. It was so much that it continues now as we try a new orchard each year looking for one that is a reasonable drive yet has quality fruit. We pack a picnic lunch and spend the day in the trees. We try to go before Rosh Hashana so the apples we pick can be on our apples and honey plate for a sweet new year. The next day we make apple sauce. Or more accurately I should say we make our first batch of apple sauce for the year. There is nothing like the flavor of homemade apple sauce. We go through a lot in our household since Froggy loves it and I use it to replace butter / oil in most of my baking.

Tuesday, October 14

WFMW - Painting with a Preschooler

I still have trouble not calling Froggy a toddler. She is now a preschooler. So how does one paint with a preschooler when you want them to enjoy the process, have some creative license and still want the finished project to be recognizable? Stamps!!!

That is how our sukkah and our apples and honey plate came out as nice as they did.

Here are some pictures to show that it can actually work

If you look closely you will see the streaks and different intensities that show she really did it "all by myself"

And the hand prints for posterity. The mommy and me one is last years followed underneath by her own independent one this year.

Apples and Pears and Grapes Oh My

So we are running late this year. We got the sukkah up just in the nick of time and welcomed Sukkot in our sukkah last night but it was a naked sukkah. We lost two of the walls from last year to mice damage in the shed. So the new walls were bare. Today we decorated it. We painted / stamped apples, pears and grapes on the walls. We put a few leaves on the walls but instead of being a pretty fall russet color, they look black. Froggy did much of the stamping all by herself. The mid-height ones we did as a team and the tallest I did by myself. She also stamped her hand print next to the one from last year.

We cut out apples as well to hang but did not get to that. Hopefully tomorrow we will cut out pears and grapes and hang all the fruit.

Hopefully next year we will be added decorations and filling in blank spots rather than starting over. The walls will be stored inside this year after Simchat Torah.

Monday, October 13

Family Portraits

We went and got Froggy's three year pictures taken on Saturday. I almost canceled because she had a major goose-egg on her forehead from a fall on Friday. I am glad I didn't. It was so different than the last time. She is her own little person now not a baby to be moved around at your will. It was still a "studio" style shoot so very posed but I think we managed to capture at least a bit of her personality

Here are a couple of my favorites of her.

And then here is one I call show me the love.

Saturday, October 11

A High Holiday Review

We welcomed the New Year with so much joy. Froggy is a spirited child which can be a challenge sometimes but also means that she brings more joy to many events than another child would. Since Froggy turns three on Simchat Torah, the traditional age to start religious education, we spent some time learning about the holidays beyond just reading books.

I like crafts and household decorations so one of the things we did was go to a paint-your-own pottery store. We made an apples and honey dish in the colors of our house. It formed the centerpiece on our holiday table and received much use and praise. We made our own cards together and mailed them out.

There is a reason that people have started at this age over time, she was ready this year and absorbed it all like a sponge. At the end of Tashlich, she came to me with a huge grin and said "Mommy my insides are all scrubbed clean now."

Yom Kippur was hard. The services are so long and even the family service is not really kid-friendly by its very nature. I listened to Kol Nidre from the lobby. We did better at the morning service since there was a Childrens' service presented by the synagogue teens. One of the things I really like about our shul is how active and vibrant the post-b'nai mitzvah group is. Neilah was not so bad since Froggy slept through some of it. She woke starving though. Feeding a child that late in the fast is hard work for the momma though. We went out to a small secluded green space so as to not cause trouble for the other congregants. We came back in for the final sounding of the shofar.