Monthly Archives: October 2009

Egg Muffins

It looks like today will be recipe day for me!

Egg Muffins

  • 6 eggs
  • 6 T. water
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. basil
  • sprinkle of black pepper
  • 1 – 2 T. diced red bell peppers
  • 3 T. diced tomatoes
  • 2 T. sliced olives
  • 2 – 3 slices cheddar cheese
  • Whisk the eggs with water and spices.  Add in the vegetables and olive.  Pour into a well greased muffin tin.  Add about 1 t. of cheese to the center of the egg mix, kind of pushing it into the middle so the cheese is covered.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes until set. 

This recipe makes ten muffins.  Enjoy!

Avivah

Weekly menu plan

With all the holidays, it’s been a while since I’ve posted my weekly menu!  Now that cold weather here, I’m shifting into winter fare – and winter dishes are not only satisfying and warming, they’re simple to make.  Winter is a time to slow down, snuggle up with your kids on the couch, and enjoy the mellowness of the days spent together.  Porridges, soups, stews – now is the kind of weather when these kind of dishes are appreciated.

Shabbos -  dinner – challah, chicken soup, meatballs in sauce, roast potatoes, ratatouille, salad, chocolate/carob cake (we forgot to take the fruit crumble out of the freezer or we would have that as well); lunch – chicken, beef cholent, kishke, mango noodle kugel, potato shells with vegetable filling, broccoli plum salad, Israeli salad, pear chutney, chocolate chip cookie bars, melon, and chocolate/carob cake

Before I make up my menu for the week, I take a quick survey of what’s in the fridge.  That way I can be sure to integrate any leftovers or any vegetables that might otherwise be forgotten and spoil.  I don’t shop for the things on my menu; my menu is generally made up of things that I already have.  This is a very different approach from what is generally suggested, which is to make up a menu and then go buy the ingredients you need.  That’s a good approach, so if you’re doing that and it works for you, keep doing it!  The advantage of my way is it saves more money because I’m taking advantage of whatever sale items I’ve bought, so all the ingredients I use will be purchased at a discounted price.  This alone means my meals cost 30 – 50% of what I’d pay if the ingredients I needed but planned for weren’t on sale.

Sunday – brunch-coconut honey pudding; dinner – creamy butternut squash soup (we have loads of butternut squash from our garden), beef cholent, noodle casserole

Monday – breakfast – buckwheat muffins; lunch - spaghetti squash with tomato vegetable sauce;  dinner – Mexican lasagna, salad

Tuesday – breakfast – millet porridge; lunch – sausage hash and potatoes; dinner – chickpea and peanut stew, rice

Wednesday – breakfast – egg muffins; lunch – will pick something up when doing monthly shopping; dinner – stuffed cabbage soup

Thursday – breakfast - Amish oatmeal, lunch – CORN; dinner – vegetable bean soup

Sunday I usually do some preparatory work for the meals of the week.  This week that will include soaking and sprouting the beans for Mexican lasagna, chickpea and peanut stew, and bean vegetable soup.  I’ll start cooking a large pot of bone broth since I use that as the base for as much as I can for flavor and nutritional value – soups, stews, and to cook grains.  I haven’t made yogurt for a very long time but I’d like to give it a try this week – it’s getting to be challenging to find anything but nonfat and lowfat yogurt in the stores).  I also want to get a sourdough starter going so I will have it to bake with next week.  And since I only have a small amount of fermented sauerkraut left (out of a gallon), I’ll probably prepare make ginger carrots.

My ds16 has an allergy to wheat gluten, which we’ve known about since he was seven or eight but it wasn’t major so we didn’t do much about it.  Though I’m sure the soaking of grains helps foods digest more easily for him, he decided last week he wants to try not to eat any wheat for a while and see if he feels any differently.  I planned this week’s menu with him in mind.  I also planned my bulk order with him in mind, and ordered 30 lb of quinoa instead of the 50 lb of spelt I was planning to get (I already have plenty of millet, rice, oats, and buckwheat) so that I’ll have more options for him.

Avivah

Echinacea glycerite

Several weeks ago I  preapared a batch of echinacea glycerite.   I made about five cups worth, which should last a long time when you consider that it’s given by the dropperful.    And a dropperful only holds half a teaspoon! 

A glycerite is similar to a tincture, but uses vegetable glycerine as a base for the herbs instead of alcohol. To make it, I used equal amounts of echinacea and yarrow, a sprinkle of cayenne (I’ll leave this out in the future), 2 -16 oz bottles vegetable glycerin, a little bit of water, and brewed it for three days on the lowest flame.  Using glycerine makes it pleasant tasting for kids and adults -  you can serve it easily by putting a dropperful in a cup and adding a little bit of water.  They drink it right now!  

A couple days ago dh was giving the kids some elderberry syrup (the littles don’t let us forget to give this to them every morning) and taking some echinacea for himself, and said we should call them Mommy’s yummy-ites  instead of glycerites. :)   Everyone has been appreciating my efforts to provide tasty and  enjoyable ways to strengthen their immune systems.

Dh was been feeling under the weather for the last few weeks, and last week I suggested he take a teaspoon of this echinacea blend every hour.  He had been taking it once or twice a day, but with echinacea, that’s not enough.  Echinacea is most effective when taken at the first signs of being under the weather, every hour or two.  I’m happy that he’s now back to himself – I won’t fully credit the echinacea for it, but I’m sure it helped! 

Recently  I was somewhere when I met a young couple visiting from out of state. Their toddler was sick and listless, and the parents were very concerned.  Generally I don’t say anything about health or nutrition to people unless I’m asked about it, but the mother knows me for several years and because of some suggestions I gave her regarding pregnancy and childbirth, she was able to avoid some medical issues she was concerned about.  So she knows I’m not a flake.  :) 

Because I could see how helpless they felt, being far from home and not having anything in the house to give her (the father said he wished they had antibiotics for her), I offered them some of this glycerite (I even gave it to my 4 month old baby when he was showing the beginning signs of a cold - he excitedly slurped up the dropperful because it was so tasty).  But the baby’s father said he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of giving her something new (because they don’t want to give her something that might disagree with her), which I respected.  Their toddler had no appetite because of whatever her little body was fighting off, and it was a little sad/ironic to me when right after telling me they wouldn’t give her the echinacea, they gave her a piece of cake and then some very sugary breakfast cereal to encourage her to eat.  Everyone has their own process and their own timeline that they come to new things at….  On the flip side, today a friend came by to get some for her husband, since the health food store was closed, and I was happy to be able to share what we’ve made. 

I transfer all of the herbal remedies I’ve made into amber colored glass bottles with dropper lids.  I have 2 oz. and 4 oz. bottles, but for our family I find the 4 oz a more practical size.  When they need to be refilled, I pour it from the larger glass jar that I keep stored in the fridge.  I put a label on each smaller bottle and keep them on the door of my fridge on their own shelf where it’s easy to find them. 

Making these herbal remedies is just a matter of finding a recipe and following it.  I took the concept for my mix from a comment in the Bulk Herb Store catalog, which said that echinacea, yarrow and cayenne are a powerful combination.   But the cayenne adds a little bit of a kick that doesn’t enhance the taste and I’d rather in the future just add cayenne to my personal serving of broth when feeling under the weather. 

Making your own herbal remedies may sound intimidating or complicated, but if you can bake a cake or cook oatmeal, you can make your own remedies.  It’s very satisfying to be able to learn new things that you can use to help your family stay healthy!

Avivah

Offensive automatically generated links

For anyone who visited recently and noticed the offensive automatically generated links below the comments section, I apologize.  Thank you to Michelle for bringing them to my attention.  It’s a feature automatically included with WordPress blogs that I wasn’t aware of, not that it was there or what it did - I’ve now cancelled it.  (Even if I had been aware of it, I would have expected it to generate links to the kind of thing I write about, family centered topics.) 

If anyone notices something like this that looks like something I wouldn’t want there, assume I don’t know it’s there and please let me know.  This is a new blog platform for me and I’m not familiar with all of its features yet.

Thanks!

Avivah

Feeling overwhelmed

>>Right now my oldest son is 5 daughter 3 and son  about 15 months.  I am finding it very hard to cope.  I am not especially organized by nature but I was not a terrible slob either.  Now I feel so overwhelmed by the constant mess and piles everywhere and boxes of unsorted stuff, and the constant needing to feed and dress them and everything.  I am also in my first trimester

I am very far from my ideal.  I want to be organized.  I want to have a place for everything and be on top of housework, with getting the kids involved in a loving, supportive way.  I want to get out of this depresssing mess.  I am finding it very hard to be home with them all.  I am so unhappy being a mother.    Right now I like the concept of homeschooling more than the reality of being home with my kids.   it gets very hard.  When they start fighting, when the one year old is climbing on the table or pulling things down from teh table and  always this internal critic that it’s my fault for not better handling it for being proactive etc .  Of course there must be solutions and I want to change and I don’t want to be so stressed and miserable. I don’t know where to start.  <<

I’ve had times I’ve felt like this, too!  Being a mother is a hard job, and it’s very common to feel like we’re just not making the grade – I’m pretty confident that most people reading this have felt this way at times.  The very first place to start is to stop beating yourself up for not being perfect.  This is really the most important thing you can do; accept that you have limitations and love yourself as you are.  That’s lots easier to say than to do, isn’t it?

We mothers tend to expect way too much of ourselves, and give ourselves very little recognition for all that we do.  You don’t hear much talk or validation of the huge amount of work mothers need to do day in and day out just to keep things functional.  Functional, not sparkling or perfect.  Just making sure everyone is fed and has clean clothes to wear is a lot of work.  We want to raise our children with joy and love, but sometimes the things we feel need to get done get in the way of that.  

 There’s also the physical reality that being pregnant takes a lot of energy.   The first trimester is especially tiring, and my memory of that stage this most recent time around is spending most of the day in the reliner in my living room. :)   But whether pregnant or not, when we build up in our minds how well everyone else is managing and how we can’t compare, we end up feeling inadequate and dissatisfied with ourselves.  

Sometimes we think that the only way we’ll improve is by looking at all of our imperfections, but it’s not true.  It’s demotivating to think of ourselves as failures and that no matter what we do, we’ll still keep falling short.  It’s much more effective to recognize what we do well and build on it.  Self-love builds us up, self-criticism breaks us down.

You might be hoping for organizational tips to help you get things in order (and I’ve shared different tips in the homemaking category that you can look at if you want), but I have a very strong sense that you’re at least average in how you’re managing your home.  So the real issue isn’t what you’re actually doing but how you feel about what you’re doing. 

That means that meaningful improvement is going to come from you changing your way of thinking about yourself, not from running faster, trying harder, or working longer.  Look at yourself in the mirror when you get up and then later before you go to bed, and say, “I love and approve of myself.”  Fifteen times in the morning, fifteen times in the evening.  If you’re uncomfortable with the mirror, then say it to yourself in your mind – at least a hundred times a day.  There’s a lot of negative programming we need to overcome and the only way to do it is to recognize it for what it is, and reprogram ourselves with thoughts that better serve us. 

Practically speaking, when feeling overwhelmed by all the work around us, I’ve found I do best when I just do something.  Every box you organize will make a dent in what needs to be done and give you a sense of accomplishment (though you’ll need to remember to give yourself credit for it instead of thinking that it’s inadequate because there’s so much more to do).  I have to periodically remind myself that the reality of life with small children means constant messes and ongoing organizational work no matter how organized you are

The stage of having several small children is in my opinion the hardest in many ways.  I found things started getting significantly easier for me when my oldest was 5.5.  I had a long space between a couple of my kids and it was much, much easier to manage six kids with the youngest being close to four than when most of them were under four!  Kids grow up, we improve our skills, and things really do get easier.

Avivah

Homemade herbal facial steam treatment

My dd14 was reading a new book on herbs that I recently bought, Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health.  I got this because it had so many recipes and seemed user friendly, and so far I’m very pleased with it (though naturally it arrived immediately after I finished making all of my glycerites).  Yesterday she asked me about several herbs that were in a recipe she was interested in preparing, for an herbal facial steam. 

We didn’t have all the ingredients, but I told her she was welcome to use anything I had on hand.  She used the following, which is a mixture for normal to oily skin:

  • 3 parts comfrey
  • 1 part raspberry leaves
  • 1 part sage
  • 1/4 part rosemary

It also called for 2 parts calendula, but I didn’t have any.  She mixed up a batch and put it in a glass canning jar to store it and tonight prepared some for a relaxing facial steam.  What that means is that you throw a handful of the mixed herbs into a pot that contains 2 – 3 quarts of boiling water, then cover it and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.  Then she took the pot to the dining room table, sat down and leaned over the pot, and covered her head and the pot with a bath towel to create a mini steam tent.  (You can periodically lift the towel a bit if it gets too hot for you.)

She steamed for six minutes and then emerged invigorated, with her face dripping from sweat.  I figured while the pot was hot I’d try it, too!  That was a very pleasant experience, and as I breathed in the herbal vapors, they felt very soothing and healing internally, too. 

Right after I finished I rinsed my face with cold water and then my mom came by.  I suggested she try it, too!  She did, and I gave her a neck massage for a couple of minutes while she steamed.  Then ds16 tried it (the pot stayed hot for a while!).   A short while after he finished he came to ask me if I noticed a difference in my skin, and I told him I hadn’t paid any attention.  He said his skin was visibly clearer and blackheads were gone.    (Dd9 popped out of bed when she heard my mom come by and she tried it, too, not wanting to be left out – but I don’t think she thought much of it one way or the other.)

This was a relaxing, fun, and frugal way to treat myself to some nurturing self-care right in the comfort of home!

Avivah

Book repair glue

About a month ago, we signed up as members of a privately owned Jewish book library.  They have loads of great books to check out, and we signed up in time to enjoy the book for all of the holidays.  Since we don’t read non-Jewish books on Shabbos or yom tov, this was a nice discovery.

I noticed that a number of the hardcover books had very loose bindings, so last night I took some time to fix them.  We didn’t cause the damage, it’s just the normal kind of thing that happens when books get used alot.  I’ve been repairing our books at home for years, and the high quality book glue I have does a super job at strengthening and repairing books, so it wasn’t a big deal for me but it will significantly extend the life of their books. 

Last night ds2 watched me intently as I repaired three books.  I left them on the dining room table to dry, along with the closed bottle of glue.  I went into the kitchen to do some cleaning up, and a few minutes later ds was attempting his own book repair!  He found a book of ours that had exactly the same kind of damage that I was repairing, in the same place, and proceeded to pour a huge amount of glue all over it.  And all over the couch, which was the surface he decided to work on. 

My kids were upset about the mess he caused (fortunately it washed off the cushion), but he did a good job on the book!  I did have to scrape away oodles of glue, but he was obviously paying attention to what I did. The binding of the Curious George ABC book that he fixed will never, never get loose. :)

Supposedly the glue is only good for a year, but that’s clearly not the case since I bought it over eight years ago!  I bought it from Demco, a library supply company, and the glue is called Norbond liquid plastic adhesive.  It’s rated 5.5 to 6.5 ph, an all purpose book repair glue.  The bottle I got was 32 ounces, which is enough to fix hundreds of books.  I had no idea how effective it was or how a little bit goes very far when I bought it.  I’ve routinely fixed books that my kids have borrowed from friends before sending them back, in addition to the many, many books of ours that I’ve fixed.  After all of this, I still have a quarter of a bottle left!

My kids are wondering when the library will realize that the books we bring back are returned in much better condition than they were when we checked them out, but I don’t think they’ll notice and I’m not planning to mention it. 

Avivah

Little updates

I hope you all had a wonderful yom tov!  Here we enjoyed it so much and I can hardly believe how fast it went by.  We jumped right back into our regular busy life – I took ds yesterday to the oral surgeon to have his wisdom teeth out, but the time my dh told me he made the appointment for was actually a half hour later than when they said the appointment was scheduled.  I thought I was getting there right on time.  But I got the very next available appointment,  three months from now!

Ds didn’t mind too much, though!  He was very pleased when on the way home I took him to the MVA to get a driver’s manual.  He needs to study it to get his driver’s permit.  When he began to immediately read the manual and asked me if I would take him for his permit exam tomorrow, it brought to mind a belief I have regarding learning, that when a person is motivated, they’ll do what they need to get the information they want!  He’s definitely motivated!  (I’m not sharing that excitement, though. :))

Last night I expressed my unhappiness to my dh at the lack of movement towards having the computer fixed.  After two and a half weeks I wasn’t feeling very patient any more.  I’m so grateful that the libraries have computer access for the public, since that’s been how I’ve been managing until now, but the logistics were a little tricky (since I had to go during hours that I usually spend with the kids, and the timing had to work out with the baby being fed for a while) and I didn’t have nearly enough time to write about all the things that I’ve wanted to!   Today someone finally came and took care of it, so I can once again get online from the comfort of home.  I’m so, so glad!  It also looks like we’ll be getting a new computer soon, since there are enough things that are problematic with this one that it’s not worth putting more money into fixing them, considering the cost of new one would be around what we’d have to pay for the repairs! 

Ds7, dd9, and ds10 went to their monthly geography club meeting.  When I picked them up, I  picked up a three year old friend to bring home for ds3 to play with.  Ds2 is busy having his own kind of fun as I write this - I just stopped him after realizing he was prying the keys off of dh’s laptop.  He is a very typical two year old! 

 This afternoon ds10 is starting a job as a mother’s helper for a friend of mine.  He’s very fun and good with kids, and responsible, too!   If it works out well on both sides, then he’ll go there a couple of afternoons a week for a couple of hours each time.  I think it’s good for kids to have a chance to earn money, and to help others in the process.

Dd13 is enjoying fixing up the girls’ bedroom.  She had an idea about how to keep their belongings better organized; this includes screwing the shoe rack to the side of their freestanding closet, then removing all the large shelves but one from that same closet, and cutting them down (I don’t watch my kids use the power saw; it makes me too nervous) so that they will fit in the area behind their door.  She’s in the middle of screwing all the newly cut shelves into the wall. I haven’t taken a look yet but she’s excited about it and I trust that it will look very nice when she’s done.

After we finished at Home Depot getting her the right size screws, on the spur of the moment it occurred to me it would be a good time to get a birth certificate for the baby.  The paperwork took a very long time to go through this time, much longer than the last two home births.  We were fortunate that the office was pretty empty so we were in and out within fifteen minutes.  It’s one of those things that has been on my mind to get done, and since he’s already 4.5 months old, I’m really glad to have it done!

Our fridge is full of leftovers from the holiday, so dinner this week will be nice and easy!  I guess it balances out well with all the extra work there is to get things back to normal – taking apart and putting away the sukka, washing a mountain of laundry….:)

Avivah

Why ‘Oceans of Joy’?

I promised to share with your the significance of the new name for the blog, and here it is!  It wasn’t easy to choose since you all submitted so many wonderful choices.  Even though I liked the sound of them, I eliminated any titles that put me on a pedestal.  I also eliminated anything that was specific (like only about nutrition, or only about parenting), since I wanted something broad that could somehow encompass all that I share here with you.  As I got to thinking more, I realized that I don’t share about categories or topics; I share about myself and my life.  So the right blog title would have to be reflective of who I am.

Oceans of Joy represents to me several concepts that are deeply meaningful to me, that inspire me and reflect the qualities I want to be filled with:  abundance, serenity, and joy.

There’s a beautiful visualization by Louise Hay that I really love and want to share with you, because every time I think of the name of the blog it comes to mind.   Imagine yourself next to an ocean.  As far as you can see, the water stretches out before you.  The ocean represents the abundance of this beautiful world we live in.  Now imagine that you want to gather some of that water to take for yourself.  What kind of vessel will you use to gather the water you want?  Is it a thimble, a cup, a bucket, a hose?  Does your cup have a hole in it?  The only limitation to how much you bring into your life is the capacity of the vessel you choose.  So the ocean is a metaphor for abundance.  And oceans is reflective of an unimaginable abundance.

I love nature and when I go to a beach or beautiful forest, my outside self quiets down and I can feel the calm of my inner self being restored.  Living life from a place of inner tranquility is a goal of mine.  The word ‘ocean’ also represents serenity, a quiet peace and contentment with myself and everything in my life.  Just looking at a picture of a beautiful nature scene has that affect on me.

I feel incredibly blessed to have enormous blessings in my life which bring me deep joy.  My husband, my children, my health, good friends, and so much more.  The more I focus on the good that I experience, the more joy is drawn into my life.  Oceans of Joy reflects the unending deep joy that I find in living each day.

I hope the new blog name will be a reminder and encouragement for you, as it is for me, of all the joy and beauty that is there for each of us to enjoy, each and every day!

Avivah

Announcing new blog name!

Thank you all for the many amazing suggestions you came up with for my new blog name!  After spending loads of time going through all the suggestions for a new name, then mixing and matching taglines with blog titles, trying them out and getting my family’s thoughts on them, etc, I finally decided on one!  And then found out it was taken on both blogging platforms I was considering. :(

So it was back to the proverbial drawing board – you ladies didn’t make it easy since there were so many amazing suggestions that came in!  The new name is one that wasn’t suggested in the comments section, but I love it and think it sums up my philosophy towards life and is a broad enough canopy to encompass all the different things I write about, which was a big challenge.

The new name of my blog will be (drumroll :))…………………………………………….

Oceans of Joy

I’ll explain the meaning behind it as the first post of the new blog, but I’m really thrilled with the new name and am looking forward to sharing the significance with you.  It’s not yet being finished getting set up – I need to get all the old posts and comments over to the new site and everything is taking much longer because of my computer being out of commission – but hopefully that will happen soon!

I also will be emailing all of you who submitted suggestions – thank you all again!!!  For every suggestion you submitted, I’ll be sending you an mp3 file from the list of eight below.  Some of you submitted more than eight, and I wish I had more to send you!  The list to choose from is below; start thinking about it so you can let me know what you want!

“Chanoch l’naar al pi darko – What does it mean for us?” – Rabbi Menachem Goldberger, maara d’asra of Tiferes Yisroel synagogue

“Yes, You Can Be Your Child’s Rebbe – Teaching Limudei Kodesh”  – Rabbi Osher Werner , author of Pharoah and the Fabulous Frog Invasion

“Teaching the Multi-Age Family”  – Mrs. Avivah Werner

“Homeschooling and Marriage: Stressing or Strengthening?” – Mr. Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness

“Strengthing Your Family Through Homeschooling” -Mrs. Rivka Malka Perlman

“The Myth of Socialization” – Dr. Nechama Cox

“Whole Brain learning” – Exercises for Whole Brain Integration – Mrs. Karen Zeitlin

“Maintaining Health and Spirit Under Stress” – Mrs. Rena Levin

Thank you all for your help, your suggestions, and for taking the time to visit here with me!

Avivah


(Nechamah, please contact me – your email is bouncing.)

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