Category Archives: frugal strategies


Remaking my mother-of-the-bride gown

My sister-in-law will be coming for the weddings, and very generously offered to bring me a gift. I told her that what I wanted was a sewing machine (I left mine behind along with most of our other belongings when we made aliyah since we didn’t bring a lift), and that the gift would be to bring it to me! She agreed, and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it!

The sewing machine isn’t here yet – I just ordered it last night – but just thinking about it got my sewing juices flowing.  We mostly have males to outfit for the weddings, which is pretty straightforward. Early on I bought the ties and bow ties for both weddings, dh got a new suit, and this week I’ll go through the younger boys wardrobes to be sure they have what they need – the clothes from ds’s wedding seven months ago should still fit them.

Then there’s the gowns. The two brides found their gowns each within a couple of weeks of their engagements (and quite miraculously neither gown needs alterations), but despite my desire to get the gowns for the sisters and mother wrapped up much earlier on, these are still very much in process.

For the first wedding, the color scheme is blue and I was fortunate to find a gown in the first place that I went.

For the second wedding, the color scheme is maroon.  I went to three different gown places and couldn’t find anything. There aren’t a lot of maroon gowns available, so finally I ordered a gown online. It was the perfect color and it had a couple of features I liked but would require a matching shell and another significant alteration (you can see the pic here). As I thought about the alterations and shell shopping, I kept thinking about adapting a gown that I bought for ds24’s wedding.

It’s a very high quality gown that I got for a great price but I purchased it before we decided on a color scheme for ds’s wedding, so the color (black and ivory) didn’t work. It’s been hanging in my closet all this time, and I thought fleetingly, what if I took apart both gowns and then put them back together, combining different elements of each….it might work.

Too much work to sew by hand, and with no machine, it wasn’t an option. But like I said, my creative juices started flowing at the thought of the sewing machine. So around 11 pm, when due to tiredness there was less well-reasoned restraint to hold me back, I started taking them apart. I intended to just start taking it apart, little by little, but the new gown was assembled in a completely different way than I had anticipated. So once I started I had to completely take it apart.

With the new gown I had just purchased now a pile of cloth – the only thing left assembled was a zipper barely connected to the original lining – and the other one partially disassembled, I mused ruefully that I might have just ruined two perfectly good gowns if my idea didn’t work out. I wouldn’t have time to re-sew either one of them before the wedding, and in any case, neither of them worked for my needs without substantial alterations and there wouldn’t be time for that by the time the sewing machine arrived.  I reassured myself that my backup plan would be to rent to a gown and if I couldn’t find a maroon gown, I’d get a neutral solid color gown instead.

At 3:45 am, I decided to call it a night, but by that point the gown was mostly finished. Yes, sewn by hand. Amazing what you can do when you’re not being interrupted by young children! I still want to do something with the sleeves but I think the gown actually looks quite nice. The bodice is black, the skirt section is maroon and overset with black lace. I don’t think anyone would guess that this wasn’t the way it looked originally.

After I finished it I thought it’s too bad I didn’t take a picture of both gowns before I started, but since I don’t have a working camera it’s not very surprising that I didn’t. :) So you’ll have to wait for the pictures from the wedding to see my handiwork.

Dd21 was very complimentary when she saw it, and since it’s for her wedding, her opinion is the one that matters the most to me.

So I can now check one more item off of my to-do list!



Lentil Rice Mushroom Loaf – recipe

Several readers requested the following recipe. Here you go!


Lentil Rice Mushroom Loaf

  • 1 c. cooked rice
  • 1 c. cooked brown/green lentils
  • 1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
  • 1 c. chopped mushrooms (I used canned sliced mushrooms and don’t chop them)
  • 1/3 c. shredded carrots
  • 1/4 c. broth (I use chicken broth)
  • 1 c. quick oats
  • 1 t. parsley
  • 1/2 t. basil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 2 eggs

Saute the onion, mushrooms and carrots.  Mix in the remaining ingredients.  The spices are just a suggestion, add whatever you like in the quantities you like.

At this point I like to pulse the mixture with a immersion blender so that it holds together well when it bakes. Pour into a pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a greased pan at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes.

Eat and enjoy!


menu graphic

Weekly menu plan – nourishing, gluten free

After my last post when I shared some of my kitchen happenings, I got a good number of responses saying that readers miss my food posts.  I stopped sharing my menu plans when I moved to Israel, thinking they weren’t very interesting.  Interesting or not, it’s what we eat!

Here’s the plan for this week!

Sun: breakfast – homemade breakfast pizzas; l – black bean burgers, baked beets; d – chicken tamale pie

Mon – b- polenta; l – potato kugel, chicken soup; d – oriental rice (with cabbage and chicken)

Tues – b – morning rice; l – pumpkin smoothie bowls, d – chicken pot pie

Weds: b – oatmeal;  l – chicken pot pie; d – lentil meatloaf

Thurs: b – polenta; l – baked sweet potatoes, eggs; d – red lentil dal, rice

On Sundays I try to plan my menu for the week. I first check what I have in the fridge and freezer so I can integrate those foods. Today I defrosted chicken and a couple of frozen dishes that I’ll be using in the next 2 – 3 days. I also usually start the week by soaking at least two kinds of beans.

We make challah weekly and when there’s extra dough, we freeze it in smaller portions for use during the week.  This morning the boys defrosted homemade pizza dough for their own breakfast and each made his own version to eat.  My house smelled way too good for a Sunday morning! :)

Ds11 is preparing the black bean burgers for lunch as I write.  He didn’t mind making the recipe when I told him he didn’t have to chop the onions. :) Last week while I had the food processor already out, I decided to dice a bunch of onions at once and then popped them in the freezer in portion sized bags to make meal prep faster.  This morning I defrosted a one cup portion of the onions in anticipation of this recipe, so it was ready to be used by the time he began.

My purchases last week are influencing my menu this week!

Last week I got a case of bananas on sale for 4 shekels a kilo and put a bunch in the freezer, frozen as single bananas, chocolate covered bananas (for a Shabbos treat) and 1 c. portions of mashed banana. In addition, the kids ate so many fresh bananas, plus I made a couple of huge pans of funky monkey baked oatmeal for Shabbos in two different flavors.  This week I’ll be using the frozen bananas for smoothies.

There was also a good sale on pumpkin (2.90 shekels a kilo) so I bought a lot.  I put all that was on the refrigerated shelf into my shopping cart and then asked the produce guy to open up another huge pumpkin and give me half of it.  He couldn’t believe I really wanted that much and asked me a couple of times if I was really going to use that – so I had to reassure him that I really knew what I was doing.  Obviously I don’t have the buying habits of a typical customer.  :)  I prepped that pumpkin together with the boys the day that we bought it and froze it in 4 cup portions, so all it’s my ready to be used.

Having my menu plan ready at the beginning of the week gives me a calm and relaxed feeling around food preparations.  When I don’t have it ready, I end up wasting time and feeling pressured while trying to figure out each day what I should make.




brunswick stew

Brunswick Stew – recipe

Here’s the recipe for Brunswick stew for my readers who requested it!

This recipe comes from The Joy of Cooking.

Brunswick Stew (serves 8 – 10)

  • 5 pounds of chicken parts
  •  2 T. oil
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 3 c. fresh or frozen lima/cooked white beans
  • 1.5 – 2 c. chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh
  • 1 c. barbeque sauce or unseasoned tomato sauce
  • 1 c. tomatoe puree
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 1 T. minced garlic or 2 t. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 c. corn, fresh or frozen

Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken parts and saute the chicken in batches over a medium heat. Set aside.

Using the 2 T. of oil, saute the onions and celery until tender.  Add the chicken to the pot.  Add all remaining ingredients except for the corn, and bring to a boil over a high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chicken is almost tender, about 35 – 45 minutes.

Add the corn and simmer for another ten minutes.

This makes a nice large recipe and is frugal, filling and tasty!



bulk freezer food

Why cooking in bulk will make your life easier

Have you ever felt like you’re constantly cooking and struggling to keep up with the meals that need to be served?  I have!

This year I have five boys ages 11 and down home all day, and not having any teenagers who are homeschooling means that there are fewer older children to delegate tasks to. That means that the younger boys are learning to step up and help more, which is good, and also that I do more.

Having meals ready on time makes our home run much more smoothly – there’s nothing like kids asking again and again for food and not having anything to serve them makes everyone irritable!  Nutrition is important to me but I can’t spend hours in the kitchen – I try to stay home as much as I can, but I still have homeschooling, shopping, regular therapy appointments and extracurricular activities for the boys to attend to. Not to mention my work – sessions with clients in the evenings and in a couple of weeks I’ll be adding workshops back in to my schedule.  Oh, and I try to get some sleep, too. :)

I make meals from scratch three times a day.  It’s rarely fancy – we have hot cereal or eggs for breakfast just about every day.  There’s nothing wrong with scrambled eggs and rice for lunch or dinner but when I get busy that becomes too frequent and it doesn’t feel like a meal to sit down together over!  Since having a sit down meal with our family is an important value for me, I try to make a satisfying dinner.

With all of the holidays, I had been caught up in the cycle of cooking, cooking, cooking but never getting ahead.  This week I’ve been able to get back into a cooking routine that makes my life much easier – cooking in bulk!

What I try to do is plan ahead so that I can double whatever I’m preparing for dinner.  I then can serve some for dinner and ‘feed the freezer’ a meal that I can pull out at a later time.

Here’s a list of dinner meals for the last few days:

Mon – black bean vegetable soup and rice

Tues – baked chicken, chickpeas with sauce, salad, baked sweet potatoes

Weds. – chicken tangine with chickpeas

Thurs. – Brunswick stew

Here’s what my cooking schedule looked like the last few days:

On Sunday we had leftovers from Shabbos for dinner (chicken, potato kugel, roasted vegetables). I didn’t need to do any cooking for that night, so on Sunday afternoon I prepared a large pot of black bean soup.

I went out with the boys on Monday afternoon and before I did, left the soup on a very low flame to heat up. We walked in at 6:35 pm – I try to serve dinner at 6:30 pm – and were able to sit down to eat dinner as soon as we got inside.

Later in the evening I soaked a pan of chickpeas.

On Tuesday I cooked a pot of rice, a pot of buckwheat, ds10 baked a large pan of sweet potatoes and I asked someone else to put the chickpeas on to boil.  I also baked a pan of chicken – all quick and simple things to prepare.

On Wednesday I did a big shopping trip and got a bunch of chicken on sale (including chicken wings for just 4.90 shekels a kilo so I got twelve kilos!). Since the chicken was fresh, I made peanut butter/honey chicken with sesame seeds for Shabbos and plain roasted wings to use for two other dishes I planned to make that day.  I also cooked a few kilos of chicken gizzards.

(The buckwheat cooked on Tuesday was intended for a dish but the boys asked if they could eat it for lunch, so I let them have it.)

While the chicken was cooking, I prepared two chicken dishes: a double recipe of chicken tangine with chickpeas (using chickpeas I had cooked the day before), and Brunswick stew (using white beans I had also cooked in advance).  I also made some quinoa black bean burgers using some leftovers I had in the fridge that I served for lunch the next day.

We had the chicken tangine Weds. night for dinner. Later in the evening I boiled a large pot of potatoes and soaked a pan of lentils.

On Thursday morning ds10 mashed the pot of potatoes and I cooked the lentils.  While they were cooking I prepared two lentil mixtures: lentil meatloaf and lentil-rice-mushroom casserole.   I made 2 large 9 x 13 pans of each. We had one pan of lentil-rice casserole for lunch; the other three pans of food went into the freezer.

I then had an unexpected furniture delivery that took a lot of time and energy to organize (looks great now, though!), and it was later in the afternoon before I could take a nap. Before I lay down, I put the Brunswick stew on a very low flame to heat up. I got up at 6:10 pm but dinner was ready on time thanks to the advance preparation!

Thursday evening, I prepared the filling for shepherd’s pie, chopping up the chicken gizzards I cooked the day before, then topped the chicken and vegetable mixture with the potatoes ds10 had mashed that morning.  Once the two huge pans were baked, they went right into the freezer for two different meals.  (In case you’re wondering, I also made some chicken soup and roasted chicken for Shabbos.)

With some advance thought and a bit of extra effort, I now have four different dishes/6 meals in the freezer. It didn’t take much extra work but ready to go meals in the freezer are my ‘fast food’ for busy days!


taco seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

A friend of mine gave me some packages of taco seasoning that she wasn’t using and while I wouldn’t have bought them, once I had them I started noticing how many frugal bean/legume recipes I had that called for taco seasoning. The mix of flavors definitely enhanced the taste of the final dish, even if the processed mixture didn’t enhance the nutritional value!

This recipe for homemade taco seasoning makes it possible to enjoy the convenience of a premixed taco seasoning mix without any objectionable ingredients!  It’s super quick to mix up, affordable, and good for you.

Homemade Taco Seasoning 

  • 1/2 c. chili powder (*note below)taco seasoning
  • 1/4 c. onion powder
  • 1/8 c. cumin
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 T. salt

Mix all the ingredients together, and store in a jar.  Two rounded tablespoons equals one packet of taco seasoning.


* If like me, you don’t have chili powder in your pantry and don’t want to go out and buy it just to make this recipe, it’s easy to mix up your own. To make chili powder, the recipe I used called for: 2 T. paprika, 2 t. oregano, 1 1/2 t. cumin, 1/2 t. garlic powder, and 3/4 t. onion powder.

**Yet another note: chili powder and cayenne pepper are not the same thing! Cayenne is much hotter and not a good substitute.  I learned this years ago when I made what I thought would be a  delicious and exotic salad and dressing, and used cayenne since I thought it was interchangeable with chili powder.  Every single person took a bite and then reached for his water glass.  :(  No one touched the salad after that first bite.




Shifts in our home as the teens move out of homeschooling!

It has been a busy summer and has only gotten busier as the official school year has begun! I’ve hoped to write in detail about some of the following points, but due to time constraints will just touch on some updates!

First of all, dd16 is now in seminary!  She travels daily to Jerusalem and I get to see her a few minutes in the evening, if I’m luckly.  She is really loving it so far.  My experience has been when my kids have wanted the school experience, they have thrived because it was something they chose and are emotionally invested in.

Next big change around here is that ds15 is now attending a local yeshiva high school.  It’s a new program with a small first class.  He leaves around 7ish in the morning and gets home about twelve hours later, so it’s a long day and that’s an adjustment.

Ds18 is in a post high school yeshiva (and I never got to tell you about his high school graduation and how he spoke beautifully when asked to represent his class…) and has said that everything is better than he expected. His yeshiva has a no cell phone policy, which has some benefits.  But it also means that in addition to seeing him once a month instead of once a week, I hardly speak to him.  I count myself lucky if I speak to him ten minutes a week.  And that’s longer than he’s speaking to anyone else on the phone during the week!

Dd21 is working on building up her industrial design business. She works from home, and that makes my transition from not having homeschooled teens around to keep an eye on younger siblings a little bit easier.  But she’s supposed to be working, not babysitting, so I really try to keep this to a minimum.

Dd22 is working locally and I enjoy that she’s living at home so I get to see her a bit in the evenings.

And ds24 and his lovely wife are doing well and it’s always nice to see them together!

So that leaves just the youngest five boys at home during the days – officially four are homeschooling this year.  It’s going to be a big shift not to have the older kids around.

I do like my children.  And I miss them when they’re not around.  But I’m grateful they’re growing into independent adults even if it means some pangs and inconvenience for me.

I’ve been busy in the last month doing lots of decluttering and reorganizing of my home space.  The kids (dd21, ds18, dd16 and ds15) built a pergola for our yard with swings and an integrated set of monkey bars, and we build another pergola on our porch that completely covers the porch.   They are all hard workers and did an amazing job.  I realized just yesterday that the one large beam remaining from building the pergolas is perfect for a balance beam for the kids, and yesterday set that up on the porch for them. It’s a nice to feel very settled as we begin our homeschooling year that everything was mostly in place to support us, inside and out.

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought in the last couple of months to what I’d like to focus on in the coming year, personally and with my family.  Doing this clarification process is always powerful for me.  I also just finished locally giving a four week family mission statement workshop series, helping others to navigate this process that personally has been so valuable for me.

Yesterday we finally had a speech evaluation for Yirmi, eight months after I started the application process.  We also had an OT eval a week ago, and Yirmi is now authorized for weekly therapy if we want it.

And just a couple of hours after completing the speech evaluation, I headed to Jerusalem together with ds11 to meet with the Ministry of Education’s representative regarding the new homeschooling application that I filed for this year to include Yirmi.  The rep is hoping that my past request made when living in the north was technically completed so that it will make the process of approving our new application simpler.

However, I got a call today from the local department of Education in the north asking me to remind them of the status of my file!  I thought they should be the ones with a record of that but sometimes I can have unreasonable expectations. :)   He wasn’t clear if an official exemption from the compulsory education law was granted or not.  However, the representative did remember me and that I had done all the necessary steps, and it’s clear that I’m not the one who dropped the ball in completing the legal paperwork.   If they don’t have a record that I was granted permisson to homeschool, we’ll need to begin the entire process again.  More on that as time goes on.

In addition, yesterday my bulk order arrived – I make an order twice a year.  Mostly this is several cartons of coconut oil, but this order also included a 20 kg bag of coconut flour and 11 kg of almond flour.  I’ve been wanting to make desserts that are gluten free for everyone in the family – until now we’ve made special desserts for ds5 that look as similar as possible as the gluten filled treats that everyone else gets.  While white flour and sugar still remain much less expensive than these ingredients, buying in bulk makes the cost of baking gluten free more reasonable.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer and your autumn is off to a great start!


The thrill of being at the top!

Our new double bunk beds – look what our kids built!

I’ve been meaning to share with you about our latest upgrade in furniture – a double set of bunk beds!

Here’s what inspired this project:

Our three younger boys share a room.  There were two beds in their room and one of the boys slept on a trundle that pulls out.  The only problem with this scenario was the trundle wasn’t regularly getting pushed back in each morning and when it was left out, it made the room look crowded and attracted clutter.

I wanted to have more floor space, increase sleeping space and make it easier for the boys to keep their room tidy without as much help from me.  So I decided to replace each of the twin beds with a bunk bed.

And then I decided we’d build them ourselves!

I looked online for plans and chose to adapt the plans I found on; ds17 modified the plans according to my specifications.

Before - the pile of wood waiting to be transformed!

Before – the pile of wood waiting to be transformed!

Starting to cut the pile down to size.

Starting to cut the pile down to size.

The day wore on and cutting all the boards seemed endless.  Finally the wood was cut and they could get started putting everything together.   The sun set, night began to fall and they were still working.


Ds4 took a nice long afternoon nap so when ds10, ds9 and ds7 were in bed he was wide awake and ready to help out!

Ds4 excited about getting to help build!

Ds4 excited about getting to help build!

In our home, tools aren’t for for staged photo shoots  – our kids learn to use them with supervision.




Ds4 then moved on to screw together the section dd20 was working on.



It was pretty exciting to see the sides taking shape!


When we put them together in the boys’s room, they could hardly wait to climb up on them!


The bunk beds are sturdy and well-built.  We’ve freed up a significant amount of floor space, made clean-up much easier – and now that there’s a fourth bed, ds4 sleeps in this room, too!

"Hey, what are they doing up there?"

“Hey, what are they doing up there?”

The thrill of being at the top!

The thrill of being at the top!

Note ds10 on the left - he was there all along, reading his book.

Note ds10 on the left – he was there all along reading his book

The beds are sized to fit our growing boys who will probably be in the 6′ range – ds17 added extra headroom between the bottom and top bunks so that an adult can sit there comfortably.  This resulted in taller than usual bunk beds but we have high ceilings and there’s still comfortable head space for the child on top.

I wanted to maximize the space under the beds, and asked ds17 to adapt the plans so that the bottom bunk would be high enough for a trundle bed to fit underneath.  We planned to build a trundle as a later project but then I had a brainstorm – we could cut  down their previous bed (that I was planning to sell) and then use it as a trundle. Since that bed had a trundle that includes three built-in storage drawers we now have two trundles plus the storage space!  Amazing how it all fits there, isn’t it?!  The wood is a slightly different shade than the bunk beds but I decided not to be a perfectionist.  :) These two additional beds will be very helpful when we have extra people sleeping over.

We’re all happy with how the bunk beds turned out.  I’m especially glad we could adapt our space to make it work better for our needs and simultaneously create an empowering learning experience for our children. This was a big project that took a couple of days to complete; all the kids (not just those in the pictures) were involved in the cutting, assembly and staining of these beds.  And everyone has a tangible sense of accomplishment and appreciation now that they’re finished!


hard work

How our daughter paid her way through college

In my last post I shared that our daughter was the top student in her graduating class.  I didn’t mention, that while she was engaged in a very demanding full-time academic program, she was also paying her own way through college and seminary.

Someone recently told me dd was ‘lucky’ to be able to do this.  I think luck is what happens when hard work and preparation meet, and while dd is the first to say that she felt that G-d helped her to achieve all that she did, I wouldn’t say that luck played much of a part.  Money didn’t fall on her from the sky!

She worked super hard, didn’t lose focus and didn’t get discouraged – she had clarity about her goal, continually looked for ways to make it possible and organized her time and energies to support her goals.  She worked really, really hard for the last three years.

For her first year (age 17), she was simultaneously studying in an Israeli seminary (without a dorm) and at college.  She lived with an elderly woman and helped her out in exchange for room, board and a salary.  She later switched arrangements to live with a family in exchange for room and board, and did house cleaning to cover tuition expenses.

Second year (age 18)- she studied at an American seminary along with attending college. (This seminary did have a dorm.)  She was offered a scholarship at the seminary in exchange for a work-study arrangement, where she was the kitchen supervisor.  She qualified for a Pell grant to supplement the remaining seminary costs.  She volunteered for the Perach organization as a tutor for children in need; volunteers for this organization are given a stipend of several thousand shekels for every year they participate towards their college tuition in Israel.  She continued doing cleaning work to cover remaining expenses.  (She did not continue with Perach for her third year because she felt she would have more control over her schedule if she worked for pay the same amount of hours she volunteered.)

Third year (age 19) – Since she had finished two years of seminary by this point, she only had college tuition to pay.  We had moved to RBS from northern Israel so she was able to live at home and commute daily to college.

She had several jobs during this time.  1) She was hired as a workshop safety instructor by the college.  The workshop is filled with industrial tools like a huge carpentry shop and her task was to teach younger students how to use the tools and to ensure their safety when they worked there.  2) She worked once a week as a mentor for an organization that helps children at risk.  3) She did cleaning work once a week.

I believe there was one scholarship that she applied for in her second year and I don’t remember if she ended up getting that or not – it might have been around 1000 shekels. She also had some financial help from a family member in the first year that she was very appreciative of.  It’s likely there were other stipends or scholarships she might have been able to get if we had known about them.  Not being Israeli and not having lived here very long, we don’t know the system as well as those who are native to Israel.

Attending school and getting an education are two entirely different things.  Dd really invested herself in her studies, and got a great education.

Is it because she paid for everything herself that she did as well as she did?  There’s no question that as seriously as she would have taken her studies, she valued it even more because it was her initiative, her effort and her money that paid for it all!


Our latest home renovation project – a pergola!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis summer I had a vision of building a pergola for our very sunny front porch.  But I was too busy to get this project off the ground so it didn’t go beyond talking.

When we talked about plans for the upcoming Sukkos holiday, the kids asked me if we were going to build a pergola.  I told them I wasn’t going to take charge of this project, and if it was going to get done, someone else was going to have to take it on and see it through from beginning to end.  In the past this has been ds22, but he wouldn’t be home in time to get it done.

Lumber delivery

Lumber delivery

The kids agreed that they wanted to have a pergola, and ds16 volunteered to take responsibility for getting it done on time.  It would be a tight deadline to meet since our conversation took place the night of Sept. 20, and it had to be done by Sept. 25.

Ds16 got information about the structure, what size boards to use, where to buy it,borrowed tools, ordered the lumber, and arranged the lumber delivery (it arrived the day after Yom Kippur, Sept. 24).

(Disclaimer at my childrens’ request: they’re dressed in work clothes and don’t walk around publicly like this.)



Once it arrived, he got all of his siblings at home involved in staining all the lumber with him.



I had been gone that day at the hospital for the pre-op appointment with ds3 and when I came home late in the afternoon the Werner crew (ds6, ds8, dd14, dd19 and of course ds16) hard at work!

Ds6 proud the wood is all stained!

Ds6 proud the wood is all stained!

If you’re wondering what my part was – he asked for my feedback about my preference for the width of the boards and what color stain I wanted, and I also wrote the check for him to pay with at the hardware store. :)

Ds22 and ds16 putting up the first ledger board!

Ds22 and ds16 putting up the first  board

Ds22 got home a couple of hours later and that evening and the next morning he and ds16 worked nonstop to build the pergola.  They were amazing.  Within 24 hours of the unstained lumber being delivered, the pergola was finished!  They both had very dark suntans after all those hours in the blazing suns but they said it was worth it.

In progress....

In progress….

Almost done!

Almost done!

Can you believe we were so busy admiring the final result that we didn’t take a picture once it was done and the porch was cleaned up?

But it’s beautiful.  And now for Sukkos it’s a beautiful frame for our sukka -we have so much room, more spacious and convenient than any sukka we’ve ever had.  We had 17 people for the first day of yom tov with plenty of room; we could easily have had double that.

Sukkos 2015

Sukkos 2015 – partial view

This was an empowering and gratifying project for ds16.  He’s very competent but in the past has been the younger brother following his older brother’s lead on projects. This time the roles were reversed.  He gave the instructions and while everyone worked hard together, he’s the one who made this project happen.  You can hire someone to build a pergola for you, but being able to do it yourself builds a person’s sense of competence and ability in a way that watching someone to do the job could never match.