Monthly Archives: August 2009

A delay in plans

Surprise!  We didn’t end up leaving for our camping trip today after all!  After hours of packing, we finally finished loading up the van.  Dh wanted to do a couple of errands on the way to the campgrounds, but since two littles were sleeping, I suggested he do them first so we wouldn’t have to wake them up and then start our trip by sitting and waiting in the van while he took care of things.  He agreed that would be better, and after finishing his first errand, the van overheated  – steam billowing out – so he stopped at the mechanic to see about getting it taken care of. 

The water pump broke, and when he got a diagnostic done, we found out the radiator cracked and the thermostat needed to be replaced, too. $1400.  When he got home he immediately apologized to me since I told him about a week ago that the van started making a really terrible noise and he kind of brushed it off.  I didn’t think an apology was necessary since I didn’t have any negative feeling about him not giving much weight to my comments about the van.  Unfortunately, the noise I heard was the warning about the water pump, and because we didn’t get it looked at right away, the water pump broke, causing the radiator to overheat and crack. 

But – isn’t it wonderful that it happened when he was close to home?  And only had one child with him who was old enough to wait patiently through it all?  Imagine what the towing fees would have been like if it happened an hour away!  I’m sorry that this happened, but it could have been so much worse. 

He took it to one mechanic, who said it will be two days until he can fix it, and then to another, who said he can do it sometime tomorrow.  Meanwhile, our van is totally loaded for our camping trip and the kids are wanting to know when we’re going to finally get on the road!  While dh was still having the diagnostic done, I called a local mechanic who does house calls – who came tonight and is doing the work for $650 instead of $1400.  Not only did he finish the repairs tonight, but discovered something else that he’ll come back first thing in the morning to replace.  That’s another noise that I keep telling dh is concerning me (that started a year ago immediately after the work a different mechanic did -$2600 – no we won’t be going back to him!), that he keeps telling me isn’t important.  To be clear, dh wasn’t blowing me off.  We took the van to two different mechanics about four weeks ago when we had the difficulty with the starter not turning over, and asked about that noise and both told him it was nothing that would affect the running of the vehicle.  I’m so glad that this mechanic realized what the problem was, so we can finally get it taken care of.  It bothers me when I know something is wrong and the ‘experts’ tell me it’s nothing.  That will be another $150.  Oh, and it seems whatever is causing this noise is what led to the water pump problem, so had we been able to get that fixed when we were first asking about it, we would have saved ourselves the need for that repair.  But gam zu l’tova – this too is for the best.  I think to myself at times like this about how coins are shaped like a wheel, sometimes rolling towards you and sometimes rolling away. 

I feel so happy to have found this mechanic!  His prices are much lower because he doesn’t have a shop – he has a well equipped van and comes to you.  And not only is that extremely convenient, he’s very nice, and he’s also very competent!  Yay!  A good mechanic is a good find.  He’s coming at 8 am and as soon as he finishes (should take about an hour), we plan to leave for the campgrounds immediately.  We’ll be staying until Friday mid morning instead of Thursday afternoon, so that we’ll still have three days and three nights.  It will make Shabbos preparations tight, but we’ll be keeping Shabbos preparations simple and will have the menu plan decided on before we get home so we can jump into gear as soon as we jump out of the van!

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make this switch, since several weeks ago I had committed to pick up someone from a medical procedure she’s having done this Friday morning.  My mother has agreed to pick her up so that we can stay another day, in addition to taking care of our cat and mail while we’re gone.  I appreciate her help so much!

So today’s frugal tip is, when you first notice something crack, rip, or make an unusual sound, get it taken care of right away.  It’s so much better (and cheaper) to deal with it when it’s a small problem!  And if you do your best and it doesn’t work out, remember that you’re not the one in charge, H-shem is, and He runs things better than us all. :)


Polenta Casserole

Polenta Casserole

  • 3 t. salt
  • 3 c. coarse cornmeal
  • 2 cans (15 – 19 oz) chickpeas, or 2 c. dried chickpeas, soaked and sprouted (should equal about four cups after cooking)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 t. basil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 T. oil
  • 2 cans (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 40 oz frozen spinach, thawed (we grew spinach and Swiss chard this year)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil 4 1/2 c. water with the salt, and when it’s boiling, add in cornmeal, stirring to keep from getting lumps.  After a couple of minutes, lower heat to gentle flame, add cooked chickpeas and stir for 12 minutes.  Pour this mixture into a pan and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, saute garlic in oil, and when it’s soft add chopped spinach.  Cook several minutes until spinach is tender.  Mix crushed tomatoes with spices.  Take out polenta loaf from fridge, and cover it first with spinach mix, then with tomato mix.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.


Sausage Bake

Sausage Bake

  • 8 – 10 hot dogs, sliced
  • 1 1/2 c. white beans
  • 1 1/2 c. chili beans (I use either small red or kidneys)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar (I use sucanat and cut the amount down)
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/4 c. chopped green pepper
  • 2 T. vinegar
  • 1/4 t. oregano
  • 1/2  – 1 c. tomato sauce
  • 1 t. salt

Ideally you know that you’ll be making this a couple of days in advance and can soak and sprout the beans to maximize the nutritional value as well as to greatly increase the digestibility.  I soak them overnight, drain them the next morning, and then let them sit on the counter for a day.  The next morning, I rinse them again, and in warm weather they have sprouted within two days of when I first soaked them.  Cook the beans until soft.

Combine all ingredients and pour into a baking pan.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.


Weekly menu plan

First of all, I said last week that I wanted to post the cost of each meal last week at the end of the week, and because we were didn’t adhere to our menu plan for dinners, I’m not going to do it.  I’m sorry about that – it would have been fun!  Between the kids noshing veggies from the garden every day and dd accidentally making a huge recipe of lentil rice mushroom loaf (that lasted about four meals instead of two), we didn’t need to cook as much as usual.  Which is just as well, because as it is people sometimes think I’m lying about how much we spend a month and our costs last week were probably 50% less than average and I wouldn’t want to tempt some others to disbelieve me.  :)

We’ll be leaving on our annual camping trip after lunch today and will be gone the next few days.  In preparation for our trip, last night I made several pickled recipes to use up the vegetables in the fridge so they wouldn’t go bad in our absence.  I made 3 quarts of tomato relish (we’ll take one jar with us), 3 quarts of garlic pickles (also taking one of these), and 5 quarts of zucchini pickles.

We didn’t decide where we’d be going until 10 pm Sunday night – the fallback option was to go the place we went last year but as much as we enjoyed it there, everyone voted to try something new this year.  The size of our family complicates finding campgrounds that can easily accomodate us, since generally they won’t let so many people into one campsite, regardless of how large the site is.  We’ll have to get two campsites at the new place we’ll be trying out tomorrow.
It’s on a peninsula off the Chesapeake Bay, an area we haven’t been to before, and we’re all looking forward to exploring there .

This week’s menu plan is looser than usual because of the camping trip.  The kids do most of the packing; we loosely plan breakfasts and dinners and bring along a bunch of other food to fill in the gaps.  But I’ll share what it is so far with you:

Shabbos – dinner – challah, baked ziti, chicken cutlets, yellow squash curry, broccoli/zucchini quiche, apples and watermelon; lunch- baked ziti, roasted chicken salad, potato salad, sweet potato pie, broccoli/zucchini quiche, fresh salad, sweet and sour carrots, pickled Japanese radish, zucchini relish, pesto, beet salad, watermelon, kokosh cake ring

Sunday – brunch – vegetable omelets, yogurt; dinner – Shabbos leftovers (this is good since we’re leaving the fridge pretty empty while we’re gone)

Monday – b – not yet sure; l – chili

Camping trip:

  • breakfasts – instant grits, quick oats, eggs
  • lunches – sandwiches – tuna salad, peanut butter, cheese
  • dinners – eggplant parmesan; beef hot dogs, baked potatoes; hamburgers, yams, tomato relish, pickles
  • snacks – watermelon, smores

The kids have packed also canned vegetables like corn and peas, dried fruits, and some other miscellaneous things.  In addition to the watermelon we’ll take apples and maybe some pears.  We can also take jars of cooked ground beef and beans that I’ve canned to make a quick dinner with, but the kids aren’t sure they want to take glass jars since my ds who will be 2 next week is very… :) We usually take a lot of potatoes and yams so there’s enough to supplement several meals, serving them in different ways.  If there’s time before we leave, we may bake some biscuits or a couple of loaves of Cuban bread to take with us.

I’ll try to post a recipe or two from those requested last week before we leave.  Have a wonderful week!


Dutch Puffs

This is served as a breakfast in our house. 

Dutch Puffs

  • 8 eggs
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 c. buttermilk or thinned plain yogurt

Blend all ingredients the night before, keep in fridge overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a 9 x 13 pan, melt a stick of butter (1/2 cup). Pour the mixture into the pan, and bake for 20 minutes.  Serve with fruit spread or honey.

* optional – you can add thinly sliced apples or a handful of blueberries to the batter.


Kids who are picky eaters

>>You make a lot of interesting and exotic foods. Do your kids eat all of it, or are they picky eaters? What is your policy in terms of if kids don’t like a certain food?  Or if they’re not picky eaters, how do you ensure that?<<

Yes, my kids eat what I make.  I don’t see any reason they shouldn’t!  I try to make foods that my kids will enjoy, and they have the ability to enjoy a wide variety of foods, so that makes it easier to make foods they like!  None of them are picky eaters at all and it’s not because they were born with a genetic tendency to eat what is put on the table. :)

The reason they have the ability to enjoy so many foods is because they’ve been given the opportunity on a regular basis without any emotional overtones attached to their eating habits.  I remember years ago a good friend used to always tell me how picky her children were, and how ‘lucky’ I was that my kids weren’t picky.  One day she was at our house and since it was getting late for our young children, I served an early dinner for all of them.  It was egg pancakes, something my kids always enjoyed and her ‘picky’ four or five year old daughter was gobbling it up.  My friend started exclaiming to me, with her daughter sitting right there, “I can’t believe she’s eating this!  She never eats anything.  She’s so picky, I can’t get her to eat anything.  I can’t believe it!”  And right on cue, her daughter suddenly stopped eating and told her mother she didn’t like it.  It was so obvious that the problem wasn’t the child or the way she ate, but her mother paying too much attention to it; the child got a lot of attention as well as a feeling of power because of her ‘pickiness’.

Here’s my general approach to food: Don’t make a big deal of it and neither will they.  Food is just food.  Kids learn very quickly when the mother has a lot of emotion invested in their eating habits.  I serve the food, and if they’re hungry, they’ll eat.  I rarely insist on them eating if they don’t feel like it.  (They do have to sit at the table with everyone, whether they’re choosing to eat or not, since mealtime isn’t about just the food; it’s a time for family togetherness and connection.)  If they don’t want what I’m serving (and don’t think that they absolutely love every single dish I make – nope!), that’s fine with me.  We have three meals a day and if they’re not hungry right at that moment, then they can eat when the next meal comes along.  I don’t make a second dinner for someone who doesn’t want what everyone else is having, and they don’t have the alternative of making themselves a sandwich or eating a bowl of cereal.  What I serve is what the choice is.

Does that sound harsh? I don’t think it is. It’s a simple biological reality – the body gives a person signals as to when to eat.  Hunger is the best spice.  :)  If they don’t feel like eating, I understand that’s not what their body needs right then.  I don’t like every food, and I don’t expect them to. I don’t put food on my children’s plates except when they’re small – we put out serving bowls in the center of the table and everyone takes as much or as little as they want.  I’ve sometimes suggested that they take just a small amount of something new that they’re not sure they’ll like.  I don’t insist they finish everything on their plates, but I also want them to learn not to be wasteful, so I don’t want them to heap their plates full and then end up throwing most of it away.

I categorized this under frugal strategies because the willingness to eat a wide variety of foods means you can utilize whatever ingredients are affordable at that time, without worrying that someone will turn up their nose at it.  I so often heard people say they could never cook like I do because their families are so picky that they wouldn’t eat beans, or they have to have meat every night.  Picky children weren’t created in a vacuum and it’s a situation that can be changed.


Cranberry Muffins

Cranberry Muffins

  • 1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 c. oats
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar (we used sucanat)
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk (ideally you would mix this with the flour the night before, and add the remaining ingredients the next morning)
  • 1/4 c. butter or applesauce (used coconut oil)
  •  1/2 c. fresh chopped cranberries (we used frozen)
  • 1 egg
  • optional – nuts, chocolate chips

Mix the wet ingredients, mix the dry ingredients, then combine, being careful not to overmix.  Put into muffin cups or spread into a loaf pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes for muffins.  If you make it as a loaf, bake a little longer and insert knife in center – if it comes out cleanly, it’s finished.


Handling conflict between older siblings

>>that’s lots of good advice, but it seems to work best when started at birth. any suggestions for starting it “later in life” or would you just do the same? also, how do you deal with conflicts so that they build relationships between siblings instead of breaking them down? i know people say they make the kids ’sort it out’ or ‘fix it’- but i am wondering what those terms actually mean in a real context. i have tried putting certain children in a room together, but the fix they come up with is a temporary band-aid and it doesn’t seem to have any real consequences… thanks to you and possibly other readers for advice on this!!<<

Yes, everything works better started at birth but most of us don’t have that advantage!  I think you’ll begin to see improvements in sibling closeness as you homeschool for longer periods of time, but at the same time, the increased time together also gives siblings more opportunities to annoy one another and have conflicts. 

I actively facilitate interactions between the kids a good part of the time because I don’t believe kids can sort things out between one another appropriately if they don’t have the skills.  I absolutely don’t believe in letting kids sort it out on their own, unless they’ve demonstrated the necessary interpersonal skills to handle the situation.  For a young child, this obviously means being involved in their interactions with one another much more than the older kids!

When the kids are young, I literally give them the script to use when a challenging situation comes up.  When they’re older, I explain the concept and then give suggestions for how to improve the communication. “You just spoke in a disrespectful voice to your sister.  If you feel your point is worth saying, then repeat it in a way that it doesn’t sound like you’re making fun of her.”  I don’t disappear after my  little speech – I stand right there and listen to the response.  My kids know that I’ll have them repeat it again and again until they get the tone right (doesn’t have to be perfect, but has to be decent).  So it’s not worth messing around because they’re only going to waste their own time. :)

One time a couple of years ago both of my older girls were both extremely upset with one another and were emotionally escalating.  I finally told them I was going to be the moderator of their conversation since I saw they had very strong feelings about the situation, and they both deserved to be heard and understood by the other but their emotions were getting in the way.  Each would be given a chance to speak and say her point, but one person had to feel understood before the other person would get to have her say.  They hated this.  They tried to do a quick, “Okay, I’m sorry, can we eat now?”  They didn’t want to communicate, they just wanted to tell me and each other why she was right and the other was wrong.  But I insisted – and the entire family waited 45 minutes (this was on a Friday night right after kiddush and before washing – fortunately dh was there to occupy the other kids while they waited!) for them to calm down and appropriately speak with one another.  I jumped in every single time either of them used a manner of speaking that was accusatory or negative and helped them rephrase it.  Don’t think this was fun for them (or me).  It wasn’t, and they really didn’t enjoy it.  But so what?  Parenting can’t always be about doing what’s fun, but what’s necessary.  If I’m not going to teach them these skills, when and where are they going to learn them? 

I felt this was crucial to do even though it was very inconvenient.  It seems that the worst situations occur when you don’t have the time or energy to deal effectively with them, doesn’t it? And precisely for that reason I felt it was important that they see that inconvenience wasn’t going to change our expectations of appropriate communication in our home, that respect was a higher value than anything else at that minute.   When you make your stand at times like these, I think it gives a very strong message, much stronger than anything you can say.  They see that you mean what you say.  And it stands out in the mind of all the older kids because this has never been necessary to do to this degree since then.

But just doing something like this without putting it in a larger picture makes it into a technique, and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m very anti parenting with ‘techniques’.  So the bigger picture is, what kind of home environment does everyone want to have?  Why?  When the kids are small, you can tell them what your vision is and get them to go along with you (if for no reason other than being bigger and stronger than them), but as they get older, they’ll need to have an active part in creating that vision or there’s no buy-in.  Like if you tell them you want a home of respect, and one child says, ‘I don’t care if people speak to me respectfully or not, and I think everyone is too oversensitive about their feelings.”  What are you going to do then?  I can tell you lots of ways to get your kids to do what you want, but if the desire isn’t there, then how much is their compliance really worth?  So the vision has to be a family creation, and the desire comes because they aren’t doing it because you tell them – you’re just reminding them of the kind of home/family/life they want t have.

Now this is something that can be formalized with a family mission statement, but I’ve never done that.  I regularly articulate the kind of home we want to have and my kids know what our expectations are, we talk alot together about how things are going and where they can improve, and they generally feel good about the standards we have (though dd13 and 14 were complaining to me that I dropped my standards in the last year for the littles and want me to up them again; they also complained that no matter how often the house is cleaned, the littles mess it up within five minutes – but that’s another topic!).  dh and I discussed this in the past couple of months, and decided that having an official mission statement that we all create together will be valuable.  We’ve told the kids we’re going to actively work on a family mission statement together (we haven’t yet had the official conversation since for the last two months up until tomorrow, everyone hasn’t been home at the same time).  That means we’re going to sit down as a family and agree upon what the rules, expectations, and values of our family will be.  It’s not a one time conversation, but a topic that regularly is revisited.  We’ve already explained the concept to the kids and told them to start thinking about what they want so they can participate in the conversation intelligently.

Once your kids are older, I think this is the only truly effective approach. You can mold behavior but I don’t want to have to work to control their behavior long term – I want them to want to do the right thing.  Otherwise at best they’d do what I said when I was there and do what they wanted when I wasn’t. 

I’d love to tell you techniques, because it’s easier to tell someone the ‘recipe’ than teach them to cook independently.  I know people are usually looking for specific rules to follow – as if, “Follow these instructions and your family will be perfect.”  That makes this approach a more challenging one to understand and implement, and I also know that a lot of people will blow off what I’m saying because I’m not giving you the 1-2-3 steps.  But the only way you can change your family culture, is to change your family culture!  And that’s going to require the active participation of all the family members.


PS- a book you may find helpful is The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Families, by Stephen Covey – it has a solid, principles based approach to building a family.

Reminder – start buying for the holidays!

Hopefully all of you frugal mamas out there have been taking my advice and buying the deals in advance!  If you have, that’s great!  But sometimes it’s easy for the holidays to sometimes be upon us before we realize it, so I thought I’d remind everyone that there’s just a few weeks until Rosh Hashana!  Remember, now’s the time to get what you need as far as meat and grape juice from Rosh Hashana through Sukkos, since generally the closer you get, the more expensive the prices are.

 Since last month I did my monthly shopping at the end of the month instead of the beginning, that effectively means that I have the bulk of this month’s budget to use for yom tov.  In advance I mentally budgeted a chunk of money this month for grape juice; I try to buy six months of grape juice at a time since I’ve noticed the sales are usually a month before Rosh Hashana and a month before Pesach/Passover.  Last week I stocked up on grape juice when it was 2.99 for a 64 oz bottle.  Well, since I only got 30 bottles I can’t say I exactly stocked up, but they didn’t have any closed cases and it was a pain in the neck to individually load so many bottles, so I stopped at thirty and told myself I’d send dh to get more.  Which of course I didn’t because I rarely ask him to go food shopping and didn’t do this time, either. :)  But it will hold us for a while and I’m hoping that a different supermarket will run a grape juice sale that will allow me to fill in the gap so I don’t (gasp) have to pay full price for even one bottle in the course of the year.

I also bought meat for the holidays.  I buy very little meat and don’t find expensive cuts necessary – we like chicken and ground beef – but since I stocked up on staples at the end of last month, it leaves me with the bulk of the budgeted funds to use on other things.  So I splurged and got four roasts (2 were 5.49 lb, 2 were 5.99 lb), four family packs of ground beef (3.49), and four family packs of chicken cutlets (3.79 lb).  It will add some nice variety to all the meals.

I also bought a couple six pound boxes of ground beef patties and beef hotdogs (each 2.49 lb) for our camping trip next week.  When I got the beef patties, it was just because it was such a great price, but when I got home I realized it was very convenient for our trip!  There are some staple foods that we always take on our yearly camping trips – one dinner is always hot dogs, one is always hamburgers.  Chicken is usually the third night, and we have to have smores at least one night (still have to buy the marshmallows, got the chocolate and graham crackers already). 

So all of the above has been half of my monthly budget, but the most expensive foods (meat/chicken) are stocked up a lot for yom tov and I’ll only need to buy a case of chicken to round it all out.  That will leave an ample amount left for the other things I’ll need.  Hope you’re all filling your freezers with your local bargains!  (I’d love  to hear about your great deals!)


Free plants for the garden

At the end of last week, I called someone who was offering gardening supplies for free on CL.  After a short conversation, we both agreed that none of what she had was what I needed.  Then she mentioned she had a lot of perennials that I was welcome to since she’s moving away, and told me to call her back in the beginning of this week when things quieted down.  So I did!

Today I went over with a couple of the kids, and we got a bunch of nice plants -free -to add to the garden.  The woman herself was so nice – you could tell she loves gardening and said she was glad to give her plants to people who would enjoy them. We got a lot of strawberry plants – we got home when it was dark so we haven’t transplanted them yet.  Anyway, I’ll count how many we have when we transplant them, but it’s a lot.  I also got lemon balm (smells amazing! and also good for tea), mint (I think it’s spearmint, but not sure – my mint in a pot is alive but hasn’t thrived this year – also good for tea and upset stomachs), St. John’s wort (chosen because I prefer plants that are dual purpose, and this is medicinal), and bee balm (I don’t know if it has a medicinal value or not, but it attracts bees and butterflies, which are beneficial to the garden).  There were many other plants I could have taken but I’m not interested in flowers that only look pretty.

In addition to that, I got a nice sized agave cactus/aloe plant, a few pots of columbine, and a huge amount of scarlet cockscomb.  I got these just because they were so pretty and thought they’d look nice in the yard, and put them in front of the front porch.  We had three blueberry bushes there, but I had ds10 move them to a different part of the yard a  week and a half ago (the area I’ve named ‘the orchard’ because of my plans for it – a little presumptuous for a small side yard, but the kids like the sound of it! :)).  I was planning to make a small raised garden bed in front and fill it with ornamental edible greens, but the space is now taken by ornamental non edible cockscomb instead.  I planted most of the cockscomb after I got home, thinking that it was easier to plant them in the coolness of the evening than do it in the heat tomorrow.  It was a lot of work, and they’re such beautiful plants -I hope they’ll transplant successfully. 

But I still have everything else to plant tomorrow morning!  When we took apart the platform deck to replace it with a brick patio, I saved the wood.  When we built that deck, I got all of the supporting boards free from someone who had taken his deck apart, and we used a high quality plywood for the top.  With the boards, we’ve so far built three new raised beds (each 9′ x 3′ 2″), and hopefully will make a fourth in the next day or two (I need to buy just one more board – I have one the right length, but it’s a little narrower than the others and I’d like them all to be identical and uniform).  I have more plans for repurposing the plywood – any guesses?? :)  But we have to finish this patio/garden work before starting another project.  Those four beds are going in my backyard, right where the mountain of dirt from digging the patio is, near where my first raised beds were built last summer. It’s fun to keep finding more and more way to fit more in – my ds16 was commenting that it seems strange, but even though our yard has so much more in it, it feels bigger now. 

It’s been a lot of work to fill the new raised beds with that dirt, since the mountain was in the way of being able to put the empty boxes in.  But three raised beds are full now.  I was planning to get composted manure to add to the soil in the new beds to boost the soil strength, but the person I got some from a few months ago said the new batch isn’t yet composted and to call him back in a month.  Of course I could go buy compost but that’s not going to happen. :)  We compost all of our kitchen scraps, sometimes putting them in the compost tumbler, but in the summer, we’ve been keeping it very simple.  We either bury it deep in an empty part of a raised bed or pile it on top of the area surrounding the garden plants.  In the latter case, what I did was cover the soil with a flattened cardboard box to act as a mulch, put the scraps on top, and take a couple of shovels of dirt from the mountain to cover it.  That’s pretty much my daily way to do it now that the weather is so warm.  I’m hoping that once we fill all the new raised beds, we can add the rest of the dirt to the soil of the lasagna beds in back.  Right now it’s a little challenging since the plants are in the way, though.  Once we can do that, they’ll be higher, more like raised beds, and we won’t have to make yet another trip to the dump to get rid of all the dirt!