Monthly Archives: October 2008

Making thermal shades

I’m getting ready for winter here, and have been thinking about some things I can do to keep our house warm without needing to increase our heating costs.  In our area, gas and electric rates are set to rise sharply this winter, and I know many other areas across the country are facing this same situation.  I just bought the oldest three kids new sets of thermals on ebay, since a warm underlayer makes a really big difference to keeping warm, in and out of the house.  That will help them stay warm even if I don’t keep the heat up too high.  Another thing I’m doing, which is addressing the aspect of keeping the house warmer, is making (and hanging) thermal shades.

Have you ever heard of people covering their windows with blankets during the winter to keep the cold air out?  Thermal shades, or window quilts, are based on that same idea.  I’m using materials that I had around the house to make them, so I don’t have any extra material costs.  The only expense is a spring tension rod (under $4) for each window to hang them on.

Here’s how I’m making ours: I’m using a layer of batting on the inside, and a layer of muslin to surround the batting on each side.  It’s like a sandwich – muslin, batting, muslin.  Then I’m stitching them all together, and I made a one inch casing at the top to insert the curtain rod in.  Since the muslin is a light cream color, they let the light come through but the three layers of material are thick enough to keep really reduce drafts.  Our windows are only ten years old, but there’s still a significant amount of air leakage – I can only imagine how bad the old windows are.  They also match all of the bedrooms, and look nice from the inside and outside. 

There are less labor intensive ways to do it if you don’t have time or basic sewing skills (though all you need to know is how to run a straight stitch on a sewing machine), and in my boys’ bedroom, I have two temporary curtains done in a quickie way.  If I had enough batting, I would have done all of them like this, but I didn’t.  One layer of batting isn’t thick enough to be very substantial, though it’s still helpful to insulate more than if I had nothing there, so I’m leaving them hanging until I have time to sew up the three layers.  If you were to use two layers of batting, you could cut small slits a couple of inches down from the top, several slits along the top, creating a row of slits where you can insert the curtain rod.  If I didn’t have batting and were going to buy material, I would buy fleece (at 50% off) that matched each room and do the same thing.  Fleece doesn’t need any hemming and all you would have to do is cut the fabric in the shape of the window, cut the slits, and hang it up.  That would probably take under 10 minutes per window.  I’d strongly suggest a light colored fabric, to let the light in.  The idea of rooms that are dark seems depressing to me, even if they’re toasty and warm. 

Here’s a link to an article that I read in the summer that first got me thinking about this:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Modern-Homesteading/1983-11-01/The-Homemade-Thermal-Shade.aspx.  I’ve made my own design that I think is simpler and cut the costs down involved, but their directions are much more detailed than mine, and you can get an idea of the basic concept and see if it is something that would work for you. 

After the first night, my 12 yo daughter, who sleeps next to the window in her room that we put the first quilt on, told me she was noticeably warmer.  I asked her how she could tell a difference, and she said usually she doesn’t want to get out from under her covers in the morning, and this time it was fine.  I made this on Wednesday, and since I was out all day yesterday, I haven’t yet made one for the other window in their room.  She told me there’s a noticeable difference when she stands in front of each of the two windows in temperature and she definitely thinks I should cover all the windows like this. 

Avivah

Canning supplies running low

It’s interesting to watch how the state of the economy is affecting many things you wouldn’t expect!  One of those things is canning supplies.

When I started canning just a few months ago, I was fairly easily able to find all of my jars used.  I usually named my price if I felt their asking price was too high, and the sellers always agreed (I was fair and reasonable; I never take advantage of people).  There was almost never a situation where I had to buy them fast before someone else did.  I was even given several dozen jars free, that were new in the box, by people happy to get them out of the way.  But that’s all changing rapidly – I see the price of used jars going up, and being sold fast.  Most stores that stock canning supplies are sold out across the country, whereas usually they have to discount the leftovers at the end of the season (I had been waiting for those sales, lol!). 

Last week I saw a post for someone selling brand new jars, and called because I’ve been filling up my jars faster than I expected, and I’d rather get more now before I need them. And I prefer buying new jars to used jars when I can get them at used prices, so this was an opportunity that I wanted to take advantage of.  (You probably noticed that’s my theme, right, buy it at a good price before I need it? :))  When I picked up the jars from the seller, she told me she had gotten so many calls about them that she couldn’t remember who she spoke to about what.  I’ve never spoken to anyone who I bought jars from who said that – in fact, two different sellers held the jars for almost two weeks for me until I was in their area and could pick them up.  For my huge purchase of almost 35 dozen from one person (when I got that amazing deal I shared with you), I was the only person who called them. 

This morning I called the Amish owner of a bulk store that I periodically order from, to inquire about the current bulk grain prices.  (He’s available at the phone from 7:45 – 8 am only.)  I was there on Friday, and noticed they didn’t have bulk packaged lids in the regular size in stock, so today I asked him to order some for me, in addition to my grain order.  He told me that he doesn’t know why, but he can’t get quart jars or regular sized lids from the supplier anymore – there are none to be had.  He might not have known why, but it’s obvious to me.  A lot of people are worried (panicking, actually) about the possible food scarcity in the near future and are getting into canning as a way to prepare. 

 I told my  husband that I feel lucky that I happened to be ahead of the curve when I got interested in canning, and I’m so glad I was!  Who knew that the interest in canning would rise so fast and so drastically?  No one around here has even heard of canning – I’ve yet to meet one person in my community who cans!  I would hate to be trying to get into canning now, with the prices of new canning supplies so high and so few new or used supplies to be found. 

Avivah

Storing bulk grains

In June, I shared some suggestions for preparing for emergencies, which included stocking up on water and food.  Some of you might be wondering where and how to store the foods you’ve bought (and if you haven’t been buying some food to stock your pantries for at least a couple of weeks, I really, really strongly suggest you do it now – really). 

The ideal foods that can be bought ahead and stored for a fairly long time are beans and grains.  They are easy to buy at most supermarkets and health food stores, and still fairly cheap, and you can get big discounts if you choose to buy large 50 lb bags, which you can split with a friend or two if that’s way too much for you to think of using in this lifetime. :)   

What kind of grains can you store?  Wheat, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, rice (though supposedly brown rice gets rancid within a few months, I’ve never had a problem), oats (whole, steel cut, rolled, quick), barley, quinoa, corn, popcorn (you know that’s an important part of everyone’s daily diet!).  Flour and cornmeal don’t stay nearly as long as the whole grains, though it hasn’t stopped me from buying that, too – especially since my grinder grinds corn finer than I like it to be, so the whole corn I bought ages ago is still sitting, unused.  For cornmeal, I like to get the 1 or 2 lb packages that are each separately packaged – easier to freeze, to use, and to protect from infestation.  Then there are loads of different kinds of beans, in addition to yellow and green split peas and lentils. 

Over the last few years, I’ve gotten free buckets from a restaurant, that vary from the large pickle size (I don’t know how many gallons that is – maybe 3?) to 6 gallons.  These are round and have tight fitting lids, and are perfect for food storage.  I’ve heard that restaurants and bakeries around the country give these away, though you usually have to wash them out (I’ve been lucky – mine have all been washed). 

I line each bucket with a garbage bag, and fill the bucket with the grain.  Ideally, you should freeze the grain for a couple of days before you put it in the bucket in case there’s any weevils or moth egg that could potentially hatch; that will kill them.  You won’t usually have this, but all you need is one moth to hatch, and it can infest your entire pantry – it’s amazing what they can get into. 

I also have square buckets, that I love and prefer by far over the round buckets, but they are much harder for me to get hold of.  The restaurant that I got my buckets from usually returns them to the food companies, so I’m delighted whenever I’ve been able to get them.  The reason I prefer them is the same reason I prefer square or rectangular food containers for the fridge – they use the space more efficiently and look neater and more organized.  Another is that sometimes when I get the round buckets, I’m given mismatched lids that don’t close properly (since there are several size buckets as well as different companies that make them and therefore slight differences in even lids that are the same size), but the square lids always fit perfectly – very tight seals. 

For the beans, until now I’ve found it cheaper to buy them by the 1 or 2 lb bags, not in bulk.  But yesterday when I noticed the recent price increases for beans, I thought I probably should reevaluate if this is still the most affordable option.  I don’t have enough of each kind of bean to fill a bucket, and even if I did, I don’t have enough buckets, so what I do is put them all in a large rectangular plastic storage container – I put all of each kind of bean together so it’s easy to pull out what I need without hunting through all of them. 

There are also other things other than grains and beans that can be stored.  Cans of tuna, fruit, vegetables, peanut butter – whatever you would usually use for your family.  Imagine that a hurricane hit your area (like what happened just sevem weeks ago with Ike across many states in the US) and you couldn’t go shopping for a week.  What would you want to have on hand?  Remember, when there’s no power, your refrigerator and freezer aren’t going to be useful.  So you need to have shelf stable foods available.  Whatever your personal list is, that’s what you should stock up on.

I don’t believe in running out and stocking up on a bunch of foods you don’t eat and don’t know how to prepare.  I’ve used wheat berries for almost three years and since we grind all of our grains, it’s natural for us to buy them.  But I wouldn’t recommend across the board that people buy wheat berries just because they store well – you’ll end up letting them sit there forever! 

These buckets do take up some space, but not nearly as much as you would think.  Fifty pounds of grain fits in two 5 gallon buckets – and fifty pounds of grain is a lot of food!  They can be stacked and placed against a wall in an out of the way area of your home – for us, that’s the basement.  Don’t think I run up and down the stairs every time I need a cup of rice, though!  I keep smaller containers of the grains in my kitchen for daily use, and send one of the kids down to fill them up when they get low. 

And no, mice can’t get into these!  I’ve heard rats can, so if you have rats, you need metal storage containers, but hopefully none of you have to deal with that.  Also, I’ve heard that putting some bay leaves at the top of each container helps prevent insect infestation – they don’t like the smell.  I got some bay leaves on Friday, but haven’t gotten around to putting them in the buckets yet, but in any case I don’t have long term experience with how well that works.

Avivah

Fennel seed helps digestive complaints

Last night at dinner, my oldest son started complaining of sharp stomach pain.  He’s not one to complain, and I saw that he was bent over at the table as he told me that because of the pain.  I asked him when they started, and he said his stomach was hurting a little before dinner, but he thought they were hunger pains.  Once he ate something, they got worse very fast. 

When I made that herb order yesterday, I had read a bit about fennel on their site, and remembered it was good for digestive complaints.  I ordered some for my husband, but of course the order won’t arrive for a week, so that didn’t help me.  However, I happened to have grown fennel this year in my garden, though I honestly didn’t know what to do with it.  I harvested some of the seeds about three weeks ago and put them in a container in my spice cabinet, and that’s what I pulled out last night.  They have a pleasant, licorice-like flavor.  I quickly made him a cup of fennel tea – a teaspoon of the seeds, 1 teaspoon of honey, and hot water, and told him to drink it. 

Because he’s fifteen, he didn’t mind the seeds swimming around at the top of his cup – a younger child would have needed them to be strained out.  Literally two minutes later, he told me he was starting to feel much better.  He said, “When you gave this to me, you didn’t think it would really help, did you?”  I told him of course I thought it would help, that’s why I gave it to him!  Anyway, within five minutes of that, he was feeling totally better – he kept saying how amazing it was – “It’s a miracle, I can’t believe it!” 

Today my dd13 went to a still photography workshop with my dd12, and they both really, really enjoyed it and learned a lot.  But she came home feeling very carsick.  I remembered reading a couple of weeks ago that fennel was good for nausea, so I told her to make herself a cup like what I made for ds last night.  She did, and that was the last I heard about her feeling nauseous!  (I would have otherwise told her to have some fresh ginger and honey, but this was quicker and easier.)

It’s so nice to be able to quickly and easily help alleviate unpleasant physical symptoms for my family!  Today I called the company back and asked them to tack onto my order a half gallon of vegetable glycerine, since that way I can make tinctures with the herbs and can easily get it into my baby and toddler – I just can’t see them drinking a whole cup of tea when they’re feeling under the weather.  And the tinctures last a lot longer than herbs maintain their pungency, so that will be another benefit.

Avivah

Weekly menu plan

As I’m getting back into the swing of regular life, I’m getting back to some of my routines that make life feel somewhat organized :), and that means that last night I wrote up the menu plan for this week.  Here it is:

Sunday – brunch – vegetable omelets with English muffins; snack – popcorn; dinner – lentils cooked in chicken broth, rice, carrot salad

Monday – breakfast – oatmeal raisin scones with homemade plum jam, nectarines; lunch – veg lentil soup (used leftover lentils from Sunday night); dinner – beans and hotdogs (thanks to the beans that I canned, this is a now a quick and easy dinner)

Tuesday – breakfast – Southern grits bread; lunch – chili bean soup (with leftover beans from Monday night); dinner – oat walnut burgers

Wednesday – breakfast – baked oatmeal; lunch – vegetable soup; dinner – cottage cheese blintz loaf

Thursday – breakfast – buckwheat pancakes; lunch – sandwiches; dinner – leftovers (empty the fridge before Shabbos)

Friday – breakfast – fried potatoes and eggs

I’ll post some recipes from this sometime during the week, but if something in particular interests you, let me know and I’ll be sure to post it.

Avivah

Buying herbs and making Supertonic

Today I was planning to make a batch of Supertonic for the oncoming winter season.  It’s a powerful germ fighting mix that I made for the first time last year (I think the recipe comes from Dr. Schultze) and was glad to have on hand.  Several of my littler kids have runny noses and it’s a reminder to me to get some Supertonic in the works fast!  I bought almost all the ingredients I needed at the vegetable store last week, but still needed to get some echinacea leaves for it so today I popped into the health food store to buy some.

The price for the echinacea wasn’t marked, and to my good fortune, I had to wait a long time for the person who knew what the price was to become available.  Finally I decided to put it back  and order it online instead (though I did buy three homeopathic remedies once I was there – arnica – I keep one of these in my purse all the time; spongia tosta – for my dd who tends to get a croupy cough in the winter; thuja- for my 2 year old who has warts).  The good fortune part of the clerk not being available is that by buying from www.bulkherbstore.com I can spend much less and get much more! 

I haven’t ordered bulk herbs since I got a huge amount of pregnancy herbs, I think when I was pregnant with my 2.5 year old.  I had enough to last me through the pregnancy after that, too, and in fact, I bought so much that I still have a large bag of red raspberry leaves.  I was very happy with their prices and quality.  Most of the herbs I bought today I’ve never gotten before, though I’m familiar with a number of them from reading – here’s what I got: alfalfa, bentonite clay, comfrey, echinacea, fennel, lobelia, mullein, olive leaf, Pau d’Arco bark, spearmint, stevia leaves, spirulina, and some salve (one small container to keep in the car, and a larger one for the house) – they were out of peppermint and chamomile, which I really like, but I did get some Jasmine green tea.  I also got some arrowroot powder, which I need to start using more of since my ds15 has announced last week that he doesn’t want to eat gluten.

Some people like to load up on over the counter medication in preparation for the winter, but I’m not a fan of allopathic medicine and I don’t touch any of them.  I’d rather learn more about how to take care of my family safely and in ways that build up and strengthen their bodies.  Each of the herbs some in a half pound bag (though a couple of them I bought more than one bag full), so this order that should last for quite a while.  I spent a little over $100 for all of it, and would have spent several times that if I bought it all at the health food store. 

Here’s the recipe for Supertonic:

  • 1 part fresh chopped white onions
  • 1 part fresh chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 part fresh chopped grated ginger root
  • 1 part fresh grated horseradish root
  • 1 part cayenne pepper
  • 1 part dried echinacea

 Put it all in a glass jar, and fill with raw apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s) to cover.  Close the jar and shake vigorously.  Let sit 14 days or longer.  Strain and keep in glass jar.  Take 4 – 5 droppersfull (can use a teaspoon, too) in juice several times daily when first feeling sick. 

I don’t usually give my kids juice, and we alternate between going through it very quickly when using it as a base for vitamin c powder or Supertonic, and not having any at all.  So what I’ve decided to do this year is buy the juice concentrate, so I can keep several in the freezer and use it as I need it.  I have about ten concentrates of different flavors waiting in the freezer for just this reason right now.  :)

Avivah

Be gracious to yourself

I had a very late night (it was 3 am when I got to bed – should I call that an early morning instead?) last night, so I committed to myself to get into bed early tonight.  But before I do, I want to share a thought that’s been on my mind for the last few days which I’ve found helpful.

I have a tendency to feel inadequate if I don’t constantly meet my expectations of myself, regardless of how legitimate a reason there may be for not doing something, or how unrealistic the expectation may have been.  Even with awareness of this negative tendency, since I have yet to maintain a smile on my face and a perfectly sunny disposition every moment throughout every day, I continue to periodically fall into the trap of negative thinking. 

Last week, I read something somewhere that made me think of us moms, who do so much every day but so often feel like we aren’t good enough, or haven’t done enough (unless I’m unique and all of you never feel like that?) – about the importance of having ‘grace’ with ourselves when we’re feeling under the weather for any reason.  The word ‘grace’ really resonated with me, since to behave graciously to others is a mark of fine character and doesn’t imply that there’s a flaw that needs to be forgiven; it’s about understanding and pure acceptance of who and where we are right now with no judgement at all.  Isn’t it amazing how we don’t think to extend ourselves the same graciousness that we routinely show to those we interact with on a regular basis?

 I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been feeling really out of kilter for a few weeks (since Rosh Hashana), and I keep reminding myself of this idea.  I’m finding it helps me to recenter myself, which is helpful until I physically get recentered by being back to my normal sleeping/living schedule!  I hope some of you find this thought helpful to as well.

Avivah

My newest kitchen appliance

Last week I made a big decision, one that I’ve been thinking about for a few months, and couldn’t justify doing.  I purchased a new dehydrator, an Excalibur.

I mentioned that I had a small dehydrator that my mom had left behind for us, right?  Well, a month or two ago, I went down the basement and discovered that someone had apparently stepped on it (!) since the trays were all broken.  Please don’t ask how it’s possible for someone to step on a dehydrator without noticing what they’re doing, or why it was on the floor instead of where it was supposed to be.  That’s the kind of question that comes up very often here, and to keep my sanity I’ve tried to accept a certain amount of collateral damage is an inevitable part of living with children.  :)

Anyway, as long as we had that dehydrator, even though it wasn’t very good, I couldn’t get something else, because that would be wasteful.  And if I was going to buy something, I wanted it to be top quality and large enough to handle the capacities that a family our size demands, and that meant the Excalibur, which meant $$$.  I’ve spent plenty these last few months on my other projects that I didn’t feel it was right to spend on a luxury that I could do fine without.

But then I found out about these dehydrators – they are being sold direct from the manufacturer, but are only $149.95, including shipping.  It’s the largest size they have (not including the commercial ones), with nine trays.  I got mine on ebay, and that listing expired, but here’s a link that will be current for a couple of days: http://cgi.ebay.com/Limited-Offer-Excalibur-2900-3900-R-FREE-Shipping_W0QQitemZ120322998919QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item120322998919&_trksid=p3911.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1421%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1308.  They are unused, but for whatever reason were returned to the manufacturer (eg, store display, wrong size ordered, etc).  They are thoroughly checked over to be sure that everything works as it should, and come with a ten year warranty – if you buy a new one direct from the manufacturer, you get a three year warranty.  So it’s a lot cheaper with a much longer warranty!

I also ordered three Paraflex sheets, to use for making fruit leathers.  I’ve so often seen ripe bananas and other fruits that I’ve passed on because I couldn’t use it all up fast enough, and I thought that having an option to turn them into fruit leather would be nice.

It arrived yesterday, and right away everyone was commenting on the obvious difference in quality and size.  I decided to inaugurate it today with sweet potatoes since I had about twenty pounds around and some were starting to get soft spots (and I’m going to be doing a big shopping trip very soon and buying more).  We cut away the soft spots, put them in a pot to steam lightly (they ended up getting more than lightly steamed, but as I said before, letting go of rigid expectations of how and what everyone does things is a big part of a pleasant home atmosphere), sliced them, and then put them in the dehydrator.  They’re still going right now – the kids were commenting about how much faster they seem to be drying – with the old dehydrator, it took over 24 hours and we had to rotate the trays, and still the tray on the bottom was too crispy and the top one not dried enough!

I’m amazed that only 4.5 of the nine trays were filled – it really has a large capacity!  I’ll turn it off before I go to sleep tonight, and once they cool off, I’m sure they’ll take up a lot less space than they were before!

Avivah

Getting back to regular life :)

It’s so nice to be back with all of you!  The holidays have been wonderful, but I have to be very honest and say that I’m really glad that I’ll be able to get back to my regular weekly routine.  Particularly the way they fell out this year, it’s been a marathon for three weeks of cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, etc.  And my sleeping schedule is totally out of whack, along with my baby’s – this morning I didn’t fall asleep until 4 am.

Four of my kids volunteered to help out at the synagogue on Sunday to prepare a communal meal (served yesterday for lunch) for 120 people.  Except for the chef who also volunteered, they were the only people who were able to take time out of their schedules to help out – it’s such a busy time for everyone.  We weren’t planning to attend the communal meal, because after a busy morning at shul (synagogue), we wanted to have a quiet family meal together.  The kids just helped out because they like to.  But the night before, the person in charge of organizing it found out that we weren’t planning to be there, and told my dh they really wanted us to come, and were waiving the fee for our family. 

So we agreed – the kids were happy with that idea! – but then when the time for the meal rolled around (for which two of my kids spent another hour helping set up), there wasn’t a table where we could sit together as a family; they had all been half taken by smaller families.  It’s not my idea of a holiday meal to have my family scattered in a large crowd over three tables, so we decided to head for home.  And we had a very nice meal, in spite of the particularly strong disappointment of a couple of the kids. 

Last night, after the holiday was over, the man who organized it told us how disappointed they were that we didn’t stay, and that we were welcome to take home any of the food that was left.  There were a bunch of pans (9×13) of beef stew, as well as a couple of stuffed peppers and another of rice, so we took six pans of the stew, one of peppers, and one of rice.  Oh, and two pans of chicken – I almost forgot that because it went straight into the freezer.  We’ll have one tomorrow night for Shabbos dinner. 

They were so glad that we were taking it; I think they felt badly that my kids did so much work and didn’t get to taste anything they had prepared, plus it was really nice food so of course they were glad that it would be used (though I know they would have looked for people to take it, they wouldn’t have let it get thrown away).  Usually I wouldn’t know what to do with so much stew, since I don’t have room in my fridge or freezer, but you know that now that I’m an avid canner, I’m not limited by those petty considerations anymore! 

I couldn’t believe how meaty the stew was – each pan was mostly meat chunks with a few pieces of carrots and potatoes (the opposite ratios of how I make stew, lol!), and the gravy, which didn’t look so appetizing when cold.  I put the meat, carrots, and potatoes into a large pot and added water, leaving the gravy behind (you’re not supposed to can things with gravy or flour, because the thickener can prevent heat from being properly distributed when being canned), and it was amazingly good when it was heated up and thinned down.  So far I’ve canned seven quarts, and have another batch of quart jars heating on the stove heating up right now, along with a big pot of the stew, and I think this will finish the stew off. 

When ds15 went to shul this morning, he was told again how disappointed they were we didn’t stay, and urged to take any leftovers.  Ds told them we did take some, but they found a couple dozen hotdogs to send him home with that we hadn’t noticed the night before.  I’ll do something with those next week – I have a bunch of hot dog recipes on one of my recipe pages (I think I told you how I section my recipe notebook into pages with nine recipes per side) so I’ll see what will look good.

For dinner, we’re having the thick meaty gravy mixed with rice – I think everyone will enjoy that; there are still plenty of little pieces of meat in it.  My fridge was stuffed last night with pans of food, but I’m working my way down to being able to see some space when I open it up!  :)

Avivah

Oh, what a fun day….

My nine year old son woke me up with exciting news today!  He informed me that our garage had been broken into last night, and our bikes and lawnmower stolen.  Then he told me that the thieves decided for fun to stick some of the bikes they decided not to take into my neighbor’s garage, so they didn’t take all of them after all.   The ones that were left were obviously the ones that weren’t in great shape, but at least some of them were left.  I jokingly said that it saved my husband the job of reorganizing the garage to make more space, so it wasn’t all a loss!

Now my dear 9 year old son has been baking cookies for his business.  I told him I was very unthrilled with the idea of him baking today, and that for this one time, I wanted him and his partner to use his friend’s kitchen instead of ours.  But they couldn’t do that because his friend’s family had other plans.  Then he told me his friend couldn’t come and would bake on his own, so I somewhat reluctantly agreed.  The reason I agreed was that they had taken orders for over 10 family packs (usually they sell door to door), and I didn’t want to keep him from being able to meet his commitments. 

When he started baking, I supervised him, but since he’s been making these cookies on his own for a while now, I haven’t felt it’s been necessary.  That was too bad, since today he decided to make five times the already large recipe, and filled the very large mixing bowl to the very top with a dense mixture of chocolate chip cookie dough.  Surprise – when he turned it on, it started making a very unpleasant sound and stopped running.  I called the Bosch repair company, and it seems that he managed to ruin the transmission. :(  I really wasn’t pleased with that; their transmission failure rate is less than 1% over 20 years, and I’ve only owned my Bosch mixer for eight years.  When you get a mixer this expensive (it was $500 at the WA dealer my mom bought it, with the accessories), you look at it as an investment, as something that you’ll use forever. 

The problem with owning such an expensive mixer is that it isn’t cheaply repaired or replaced.  The advantage is that it’s such a high quality that repairs should be uncommon, but I think that might not be taking into account nine year olds and their idea of what is appropriate usage.    I give my kids a lot of leeway in using things that a lot of parents wouldn’t, and for the most part, that’s worked out well.  But there are times like right now that leave me feeling a little grumpy and irritated.

Avivah