Showing posts from February, 2009

Themes and Plans for March

Themes & Plans for MarchMarch brings breezes loud and shrill, stirs the dancing daffodil ...So tell me friends, how does March greet you today? As a LION or a LAMB? Or perhaps somewhere in between? Here in my little corner of the world March is a lamb this year. We are under a Winter Weather Advisory as I type. It has been a bizarre winter with teases of spring sprinkled through and no where near enough snow for my tastes. I am definitely feeling ready for spring. And though he is a fickle friend, March does bring with him spring's first tidings - a mild breeze, crocuses and early tulips, and the all important Cherry Blossoms
And so, with faith in spring's return, I offer you some ...~ Themes and Plans for March ~ NatureDraw plans for Sunflower Gardena landscape reawaking, with color popping out to say hello
the old March wind arrives to blow winter awayblackbirds returning (that squeaky gate sound)drip, drip, drip - rain lots of rain
forsythia blushing yellowThe Full Sap M…

Menu Planning Monday - Mishlach Manos

This week I am doing lots of extra cooking. I am making a meal for a new mom as well as making freezer meals for my upcoming trip without the family. I am also baking for our Mishlach Manos baskets. The baskets will consist of hamentashen, brownies, dried fruit and nuts. Tune in later this week. I will update with my brownie recipe as well as my pasta sauce recipe.

Sunday - Pot luck lunch at a friend's house. We are bringing a vegetable tray. Leftovers will be stir fry for dinner.
Monday - Family swim night - Picnic of sandwiches, fruit, carrot sticks and cookies
Tuesday - Pasta, homemade sauce, salad - make hamentashen dough
Wednesday - chili and corn bread - deliver meal to new mom - pot pie/salad/melted icecream cake - bake hamentashen (first batch at least)
Thursday - Leftover buffet
Friday - Roast Chicken, Baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, brownies
Saturday -

I also think we have finally got a handle on breakfast. Here is the menu
Scrambled eggs
Oatmeal (plain regular long cook…

Chocolate Macaroons

I am starting to experiment with recipes that I will want for Passover. here is a macaroon recipe I want to try

2 egg whites
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup chocolate chips melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 325. Beat egg whites and salt until almost stiff. Add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Add flavoring and gently fold in coconut. Add in melted chocolate and stir until well mixed. Drop by teaspoonful onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet.

A Sunflower House

I love Sunflowers. I love gardening (not that I am very good at it). I love working with children. Combine all these and you come up with my latest project. And as of yesterday afternoon it is official. I met and received permission from the parks department. We -those families from our homeschool group who choose to participate -will be building a Sunflower House at the local park where we have our Park Day gathering. The house will have a variety of types of sunflowers as well as morning glorys to form the roof.

Our inaugural meeting is two weeks from yesterday. I have written up an entire unit study based on Sunflowers with the focus being the house that hopefully will provide a creative, engaging play space during the summer months. The basic directions for the structure and many of the initial activity ideas came from Sharon Lovejoy's book, Roots Shoots Buckets and Boots. I have investigated many gardening with children books but this is my all time favorite. Froggy …

Friday's Find - All of A Kind Family

In this edition of Friday's Find, I introduce you to one of my favorite books from my childhood, Meet the All-of-a-Kind Family — Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie — who live with their parents in New York City at the turn of the century. Together they share adventures that find them searching for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor and visiting with the peddlers in Papa’s shop on rainy days. The girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises. All-of-a-Kind Family (1951) is the first book of a series. Other books in the series include More All-of-a-Kind Family (1954), All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown (1957), All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown (1972), and Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family (1978).

I fell in love with Sarah when I was eight. I loved Sarah so much because she was just like me. She was the middle child in a family of all girls but even better she was Jewish. No other character I had ever met outside of Hebrew school was…

WFMW - Craigslist

My sewing machine was being very persnickety and needed a tune up. I called the repair store. They wanted between $80 and $100 to even look at it. I could not bear that thought. So I turned to my favorite place. Craigslist. I found a brand new machine for $80 that would retail for several hundred. After a few email exchanges, yes it is still available and we have an appointment to go check it out. It works wonderfully. So the end of the story is I got a new machine of better quality than my previous machine for less money than it would have taken to maybe repair my machine and someone else got cash for an item they were not using. A win all around. This is not my first venture into craigslist. I have gotten several different items there over the years and even gotten rid of a few things. THis was just my best deal ever. Check out Craigslist in your area. And check out lots of other great tips at Kristen's Works for Me Wednesday

Menu Planning Monday

This past week, life got away from me. We had to deal with illness and job issues and other bad stuff. All that is to say I fell down on the cooking job. We tried the first experiment for President's Day - an abominable lose - but never got to the other experiment or the frittata. It made this week's menu planning easier though since they are just making a comeback. Our dessert last week was an incredible hit, one of the best experimental desserts in a while.

Sunday - Dippin Sticks, Rice, Keem and Broccoli
Monday - Swim Night - Pasta Salad Picnic
Tuesday - Daddy Date Night - Mommy has class
Wednesday - Frittata, Salad, Homemade biscuits
Thursday - Leftover Buffet
Friday - Pulkogi, Rice, Keem, Challah,Steamed veggies,Carrot Cake with Non-Dairy Cream Cheese Frosting

I am also trying two new breakfast recpies

Breakfast Quinoa Cereal and another granola

Shabbat Dessert

One of the things I do to set Shabbat apart from the rest of the week is make dessert. Unlike my inlaws house, we do not regularly have dessert. Yet on Shabbat one of the festive special foods we have is dessert. And to me that means chocolate.

It has been a challenge for me to come up with interesting appealing desserts week after week given that I had an extremely limited dessert repetroir when I started this process. Add into that the new requirement that it be 100% dairy free regardless of the rest of the meal and that means I need to get creative and experiment.

This week's experiment is a huge hit. It is a complicated dessert which really calls for company or an extra special occasion but it is worth it. The recipe is broken into parts and I made each part at a different time to fit into my schedule better. I made two huge modifications to the recipe to make it dairy-free and was really concerned how they affect the finished product. The substitute cream works great! …

Learning at the Landing

It has been two weeks since the last revision to our lesson plans. The changes seem to be working well. We are still enjoying our breakfast learning. Learning goes on all over the Landing all the time not just at breakfast.

Math - Continue number chart - Hitting fifty seemed to cause a stall. It needed some rejuvenation. So now we are marking on our fingers each group of ten as we count out loud. It started out of desperation but sparked something in Froggy and may in fact be helping to make sense of the higher numbers. She is now focusing on the numbers rather than just reciting quickly and can find her place if she loses visual track.

Chumash - We read out of the parsha book as well as My Weekly Sidrah. This is Froggy's favorite part of breakfast. It has caused some wonder on my part and sparked some questions that were quite challenging to answer. Explaining why it is not murder when G-d causes someone to die but it is when a person does was the most challenging.


Friday Finds - Learning with Literature

I have not fallen in love with a new book as thoroughly as I fell in love with this one in a long long time. Going Around the Sun, Some Planetary Fun by Marianne Berkes is a fantastic way to introduce any child to the way our solar system works. Books like this make learning fun and engaging. Froggy learned all the planets in order along with some unique facts about each planet. Not the typical lessons for a preschooler. I would never have tried to teach such information in a traditional setting to this age. But with literature like this the students seek out the learning.

Modeled on "Over The Meadow", this rhyming tour of the solar system is set a conversation between Mother Sun and her satellites. Each planet is introduced as Mother Sun speaks to it in turn.

Each stanza of the poem is about one of the planets in the solar system, and underneath the stanza is a short fact about the featured planet. Pluto even gets a mention and a little chastising from Mother Sun for n…

My little artist

Froggy drew pictures this morning. For the very first time ever, she drew something she identified as a person. She even had me label it. She then went on to draw two more creating a whole family. It was a real milestone. I am so happy. I took it away from her as soon as I could without upsetting her so that I could hang it on the fridge. Froggy has a serious tendency to destroy her artwork as soon as she considers it finished. I have lost too many pieces I wanted desperately to save because I left them with her.

Sewing Accomplishments

Despite having a very uncooperative sewing machine, I finally finished the baby quilt top for the newest baby among Froggy's friends. In addition, I have a new custom designed dress cut out and ready to start sewing. The dress is going to need some major tweaking but I am proud of myself for being willing to try a custom design. And I didn't spend any money. I feel very accomplished.

Menu Planning Monday

Even with the menu planning, I was starting to feel like we were in a dinner rut. Part of that is because I have been experimenting so much with breakfast I have been loathe to experiment anywhere else. Part of it is that experiments can mean costly mistakes. And with our focus on cutting back the food budget there is less room for costly mistakes.

Still this week I decided we need some change. I am trying two experiments, the festive President's day meal and an inexpensive vegetarian option in the Dipping Sticks.

Sunday - Shepards Pie - made with leftover mashed potatoes and pot roast
Monday - President's Day - Washington's Sweet and Sour Cherry Chicken with Lincoln Logs for Dessert
Tuesday - Class for Mom - Pasta with homemade sauce and salad for the others
Wednesday - Family Swim Night - Frittata and salad picnic
Thursday Dippin Sticks/ Keem / rice
Friday - Maple Sugar Salmon, Salad, Challah, Cocoa Walnut Crunch Cake (Death by Chocolate Cakes)

Pondering Percentages

A friend and I were talking during oneg at shul last evening. She was questioning her ability to provide Judica/Chumash studies as part of homeschooling. I told her about some of the resources I had found for Froggy and mentioned that at her age (3yr) we were doing about 75% religous studies and 25% secular studies. She seemed boggled at this and it got me thinking.

Here are my thoughts

1 - At this age most of the learning is not and should not be acedemics. It is how to live life, how to be a good person. Therefore it is appropriate that most of the learning be religious studies since those teach you the right way to live

2- Secular studies are very straightforward. This is how you draw an A. No question about it. Religious studies have much more questioning involved. There are some big ideas being presented that spark lots of thought and discussion and that takes time.

I am sure that the precentages will change as she grows and matures but the balance feels right for us now.

We have a Winner

Froggy would like to congratulate Lori and Nora. She was thrilled to draw the numbers. We hope you enjoy your books. I am glad everyone had so much fun celebrating Darwin's and Lincoln's birthdays

Friday Finds - Valentines Day

This week's Fridays Find are a bit early so that you can find them and share them on Valentines day. One of the things I have always loved about Barefoot Books is their ability to draw the reader closer to the listener. Or e as a parent closer to my kids. The language and art give you the feeling you are sharing something magical and special even after the 100th reading! Here are two of my favorite books about love and sharing.

You and Me
Written by: Stella Blackstone
Illustrated by: Giovanni Manna

You and Me is a large format board book by Stella Blackstone that celebrates differences and teaches opposites through beautiful illustrations depicting the imaginative play of a boy and girl. While the text is simple enough to captivate even the youngest readers, the illustrations and rythym will entrance all listeners.

Someone I Like Poems About People Compiled by: Judith Nicholls
Illustrated by: Giovanni Manna

If You and Me is too young for your child, then Someone I …

Happy Birthday Darwin

Today is Charles Darwin Day! Thursday, February 12, is the 200th anniversary of English Naturalist Charles Darwin’s birth.Don’t we all need something fresh to celebrate today? I am celebrating by giving away two copies of “We’reSailing to Galapagos” written byLaurie Krebs, published by, whom other, than Barefoot Books. I love this book! It has a wonderful “sing-song rhyme” rich, colorful illustrations (the collage-y cut paper kind that amazes me every time I study it). Finally, as all of the titles in Laurie’s world travel series, it has an amazing “glossary” in the back - my friend refers to them often as “Harvard extension programs set to rhyme”.
Laurie does a wonderful job of writing informative, yet light, easy to read rhyming stories. She keeps the main part of the book relaxed and fun (this one among many things introduces the days of the week) then by finishing with rich end notes that, for us, make her books top of the top. The end notes are full of robust details of the s…

Works For Me Wednesday - Relay For Life

My mom taught me at a very early age the importance of community service and doing for others. Since Froggy's arrival I have not given back as much. Many of the activities I did before her arrival I could not do with her in tow.

And I admit it I got lost in my own life. And in caring for my mother. And it was caring for my mother that reminded me of what I needed to do. Relay for Life. Even Froggy can participate. I have seen families with ones much younger than her participating. And it is such an important cause.

Cancer is such a hard disease to fight. As a patient, as a care giver, we often feel so helpless. Here is a way for us not to be helpless. So for you local readers, please please consider joining our team. If you are not local consider forming your own team at your local Relay. If not you can help my team. Just help.

For other tips this week check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Tu B'Shevat wrap up

We had a beautiful day in which to enjoy our celebration. We started at sundown and welcomed the holiday under the full moon. With the sun came our seder. We had lots of friends over to help us celebrate. Lot of non-Jewish friends because we don't have many local Jewish friends. We ate lots of fruits discussing the differences and tasting the first new fruits of the year. We drank our four cups of wine (juice) and we did crafts. With the preschool set, this is always the most fun. We made bagel birdfeeders, a very messy but ecological craft. To me it was a visible way for the children to see the importance of giving on this holiday. Most of the children took theirs home but the samples and the extras are all hanging in my backyard. With the regular feeders in the front and these in the backyard the birds are enjoying our house today.

We also planted seeds. Each child planted parsley seeds in a little yogurt cup they could take home with them. The theory is that the pa…

Menu Planning Monday

Monday - Party – Family swim – salmon pasta waldorf salad Picnic
Tuesday – CASA class – Shepards Pie (a la Dream Dinners)
Wednesday Trader Joe Ravioli (chicken) / homemade sauce / salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday – Pot Roast/ roasted root veggies / broccoli / Challah /Sweetheart Cake

Saturday – Shul PJ Party – dinner there. We will have Valentines day foods all day long. - Strawberry creamcheese and bagels for breakfast A Picnic lunch – peanut butter heart sandwiches, tortiallas /w hummus in heart shapes / rice krispie hearts / gingerbread hearts

We are trying two new breakfast ideas as well.

Baked French Toast (but I will use challah rather than French bread) and Cherry Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

This Week at the Landing

This week besides our regularly scheduled lessons we will be celebrating TuB'Shevat on Monday. We will plant seeds, make bagel birdfeeders, have a seder and thank G-d for the trees.

We will also prepare for Valentines day by making gifts for Grandma, Grandpa, Sovta and Daddy. The grandparents will get handmade cards with a picture glued inside and decorated with foam stickers signed by Froggy herself with her newly acquired writing skills. I think it will make them smile.

I also need to find some time to make a baby quilt for a friend. Her daughter will arrive on Wednesday and the quilt has not even been started yet. I think I will start on that as soon as the guests leave tomorrow.

I also have my CASA training class. I dread the class because it is emotionally difficult. I know I am doing a good thing for a child by becoming an advocate but it does not make the training any easier.

Relay For LIfe

Froggy's sovta won't get to see her Bat Mitzvah or her wedding. We will be thrilled if she gets to listen to Froggy read her a story. Children need their parents, but they also need their granparents, aunt, and sisters. I have lost too many people to cancer. Help us stop it now.

Whether it is a friend, family member, the neighbor down the street, or our own personal experience, we have all been touched by cancer in some way. We all have the power to make a difference in the fight against cancer. That's why I have chosen to fight back right here in our community by participating in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. I have participated in this event before. Cancer is not a new problem. But this time it is different and the feelings are stronger and harder to deal with. That is why I created a team this year. I need the emotional support of my friends as much as ACS needs the financial support to continue the fight.

I know that you care about finding an end to can…

Works For Me Wednesday - Budget Jars

For the first time in a long long time, we came through a month with money left over. I credit it all to our budget jars. All money is divided into some budget category. If it is a bill that gets paid by check then it gets paid right from the checking account at the start of the month. All other money is pulled in cash and placed in individual jars by category. The only way you can spend money is to have that jar with you. Many many times this past month, we had to turn around and go back to get a jar. It has really helped us keep our spending in order. The only credit card purchases we make are for gas and online orders where we have to take the money out of the jar, deposit it into a personal account then make the purchase. That really cuts down on the impulse shopping.

Here is a list of the categories we use in jars
Household - we are still working out what this means
Dining out -
Entertainment - movies, activity fees and the like
Auto Service
Home Repai…

Fun in the Snow

Supposedly we were getting another big snow storm today. That did not materialize but I was dreaming of snow so I will share snow picture from before.
These are from our trip to the Frozen North. They are small because that is the best my phone will do and the camera is currently on the fritz. More pictures later.

Menu Planning Monday - Ground Hog Day

I am still struggling with breakfast. I have not had a real breakfast more than once this past week. I did manage to serve Froggy a real breakfast everyday though. If I just had a list of items to rotate through I would be fine but cannot come up with 7 acceptable options.

Here is what I have
Baked Oatmeal
French Toast
Scrambled eggs
Yogurt ( We have been having way too much yogurt lately)

So here is the contest. Three lucky winners will get a breakfast basket sent to them. How can you enter? Suggest something for us to have for breakfast. Remember breakfast must have lots of good protein and no dairy. If your suggestion makes it into regular rotation you are a winner and will have my undying gratitude.

And now for our menu this week..

Sunday - Leftover Pot Roast and squash from Shabbat - boy did that turn out yummy
Monday - Class tonight for mom / Daddy and Froggy will have dinner out
Tuesday - Seafood Stew / salad /bisquits - Bake cookies for Valentines Day party
Wednesday - Family S…

This Week at the Landing

We have finished our Letter Wall. I did not like the scramble trying to find what to do next. I also did not like the timing I was using for our holiday prep. Especially with so many holidays in February, it was getting confusing. So I decided I need to get organized. Here is the result.
I am hoping to make a post each week with the plans for the week a la Kinderweek. (Frequent readers will realize lots of my ideas and organization are inspired by Dawn)

Math - Continue number chart - this working great - we don't need anything more

Chumash - Parsha Beshalach - We will read out of the parsha book as well as do the worksheet for My Weekly Sidrah

Judaica - We have started doing Alef Celebrations. We just read the Tu B'Shevat lesson. We will do Mishpacha this week

Reading/writing - We finished our rainbow alphabet. I am not sure what the next right step is but we are going to try a letter a day using the Kumon Flash cards. This will be a very similar concept to the rainbow al…

Seafood Stew

This recipe has been a long standing favorite of ours although I have not made it since Froggy joined us. We gave it up for a while because of concerns with iodine and gout but they have since gone the way side. It is inspired by the Fisherman stew recipe in The Best Slow Cooker Cookbook Ever

1 can petite diced tomatoes1 can tomato paste1 cup vegetable broth3/4 cup white wine1 onion chopped fine1 green pepper chopped fine3 stalk celery chopped fine2 tsp crushed garlicspices to taste (1 bay leaf, basil, thyme, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar)1 lb shrimp1lb small scallops (if you get the big ones just cut them up)1 lb Fish steak (you can use halibut/ swordfish/tuna/yellow tail) we are using tilapia this timeDirections
Put everything except the seafood in the crockpot. Cook on low for 5-6 hrs.
Increase the heat to high. Stir in the seafood. Cook for 30 min or until the fish turns white and opaque.

It is yummy, easy and healthy - a triple hitter in my book.