Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
My, but he sure does look “official” in the hat & jacket (thanks to Sears for the suit (only $75!), and to my mother for springing for the hat as an early birthday gift for him)… this was the only picture I could get of him where he wasn’t smirking.
Actually, I did take a close-up that looked a little good when I saw it on the camera, but when we imported it into the computer, we noticed a wasp buzzing beside his lip. I was like, “didn’t you notice it there???”
Despite the fact that I shudder now every time I hear the word “green,” I took the littles down to the Green Toronto Festival at Yonge and Dundas Square, just for something to do.
Sara wanted to do BuskerFest instead, so she met us at Queen & Yonge and took Naomi while I headed up to check out the exhibits alone with Gavriel Zev.
Fun fun fun had by BOTH of us! Boy, I sure don’t get enough one-on-one time with that kid, and boy, did he have a great time.
While I was checking out the green vendors and swag (two free wubbas, a lunch bag, a bunch of pins), he got his hand painted, played with a couple of music thingies, checked out some drummers, breakdancers, and generally just people-watched.
For the hand painting, when I pulled up the carriage, the clown/lady asked how old he was. I said, “two.” She hesitated. I said, joking, “why, is there a minimum?” She said, “yes… two.” Apparently, their skin is too sensitive before that for face paints. Anyway, it is officially the 10th of Elul, making him OFFICIALLY 24 months tomorrow. If that isn’t two, I don’t know what is.
(however, his birthday will be held as usual on the 11th of Tishrei, exactly one month from tomorrow… exactly one day after Yom Kippur: oy!)
Anyway, he passed for two. She didn’t card him.
Nice. We had a nice day.
Speaking of carding: “Note to self: Get health cards and birth certificates back from Elisheva!” Haven’t seen them since I handed them to their grandmother in Calgary.
Supper: Fresh corn and soup at my mother’s house! Not sick of the corn just yet…
Okay, the backyard flowers are looking terrific (relatively speaking), but I guess it doesn’t translate indoors all that well. These are the most beautiful hostas, and Naomi Rivka said I should include them, but I didn’t realize until just now how droopy that bottom few flowers were. Sigh… it really does look like an end-of-season “dregs” bouquet.
Will they take my very subtle hints in this email and send Naomi Rivka at least a trial issue, if not a 3-issue "mini-subscription" of her very own???
Will they at least sit on the General Mills people to get this stupid, trivial, little thing done for me?
We shall see... as the SAGA continues...
January 2010 postscript: the saga does indeed continue. January 6th here and no magazines yet. Read on!
----- Original Message -----Sent: Saturday, August 29, 2009 11:51 PMSubject: Chirp Magazine - promotional subscription
Back in May, we bought a box of Reese Puffs cereal that promised a free subscription to Chirp magazine. All we'd have to do is go to the General Mills website, enter a special code, and our three free issues would be on their way.
Well, we were all very excited (I grew up reading Owl and its sister publications, and my 4-year-old daughter loves both magazines and mail!) and went to enter the code right away.
Due to various difficulties with the website, the code was repeatedly rejected. I phoned General Mills and they, too, were not able to enter the code. They said to wait until the following week and try again. I wished I hadn't told my daughter already and gotten her excited; 4-year-olds are not known for their patience.
A couple of weeks later, after several more tries at the company's excruciatingly slow website, our code was finally accepted! I received an email assuring us that "You should receive your reward within 6 - 8 weeks of this confirmation email."
That was June 1st, just about three months ago.
On Friday, August 28, I received an email from General Mills pleading: "We need your help to send you your free read." Apparently, they have experienced technical difficulties (I knew that back in May!) and "some of the information you provided to us was lost" - including, apparently, our mailing address.
The email concluded in a most glib fashion with the word "Cheers" and the reassurance that we'd receive the magazine "in the next six to eight weeks" from September 15th. That will be, most likely, sometime in November - assuming, charitably, that they make the deadline this time. My daughter, meanwhile, gave up asking about "her magazine" long ago. Maybe she just assumes I lied to her.
Since you're in the business of kids' publishing, you'll realize that May to November - six months! - is an unacceptably long delay in the life of a 4-year-old.
I decided to contact you in case your company is not aware of how badly this promotion has been handled. For whatever reason, General Mills did not have the technical resources in place to handle a promotion of this type. I also wanted to make you aware that there is a very disappointed little girl in our household who was really looking forward to reading Chirp - at least, until she gave up waiting altogether.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
----- Original Message -----Sent: Friday, August 28, 2009 2:30 PMSubject: We need your help to send you your free read
We realize you requested a free book or magazine from us and we
apologize for the delay in sending it to you. The Books & Magazines
promotion has experienced technical difficulties and as a result
some of the information you provided to us was lost.
If you are still interested in receiving your free book or magazine,
please reply to this email with your complete mailing address by
September 15. Your free book or magazine will arrive in the mail
in the next six to eight weeks.
Remember, the promotion ends August 31 so be sure to update
your profile and place all remaining orders before then.
The Books & Magazines Team at General Mills
Friday, August 28, 2009
Meatballs - pineapple sweet & sour
Farmers' Market Fingerling Tatoes roasted w/ olive oil, salt, pepper
Farmers' Market Beets roasted w/ olive oil, salt, pepper
Squash - Eli Bass's Squash Kugel
Choco chip cookies (Elisheva made these last night but now there are only 7 left!!!)
Garden fresh tomatoes
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I did it! After four attempts, today’s bread was a SOURDOUGH SUCCESS. I feel like I have successfully scaled Mount Sourdough.
Here is the outside of the loaf, which I made based on the recipe here (scroll down to find recipe and technique). There seem to be two schools of sourdough thought: the uptight “do it exactly right or you will screw up and your starter will DIE” school, and the more laid-back “it’s yeast… it wants to ferment; just step back and let it GO.”
So the recipe I used follows the second, mellow school and really made me feel at ease with the dough, including the tip (doh) that sourdough takes longer to rise than commercial-yeast-driven bread. I never knew that!!! Obvious, but true.
For once, we were eating fresh bread and it wasn’t Shabbos, so I took the liberty of snapping pictures of the Opening of the Bread.
Look at those thick, yummy slices!
Elisheva was really worried that the bread would be literally sour. I pointed out that she’d already had sourdough bread last Shabbos, but the truth is, it wasn’t very yeasty/tangy.
I have never really had plain sourdough before (without herbs etc masking the flavour) and it was a learning experience for me. She said it tastes like Swiss cheese, and I think she’s right. It is a yeasty, fermenty taste without being a bad taste, perhaps along the lines of Marmite, the thought of which makes me shudder.
I think there is a learning curve before I love it, to be honest. To “real” sourdough people (afficonados?), regular bread has no flavour; flavour is what a really active, living yeast culture adds to the flour and water – without it, what you’ve got is basically wallpaper paste.
My other thought about the flavour was: creamy. The active yeast culture makes the dough taste creamy – yes, in a bit of a cheesy way, but also in a rich buttery way. Which makes a bit of sense, considering that some cultures like their butter a little more – ahem – cultured than we do. They actually prefer it to have a cheesy tang that would send most of us rushing to our grocery store’s Customer Service line to exchange it for a fresh one.
Oh, and this time, water-spraying did the trick of getting the crust extra-hard and crispy! It didn’t do anything last Shabbos, which my mother said was because it was so humid that it probably was crisp and went soft the second I took it out of the oven. This time, I sprayed it a whole lot every few minutes for the first 15 out of 30 total. I also tossed a bunch of ice cubes onto a cookie sheet directly underneath the bread, just for good measure…
This whole bread experience has made me happy because at the Farmers’ Market today we saw tons of yummy-looking artisan sourdough breads at the St John’s Bakery booth… and then had yummy-tasting artisan sourdough bread of our own waiting for us at home.
That has been my whole approach to eating kosher for a while, and I’m happy to be getting back to it: if you can’t find it kosher, make it. In the past, that has led to making dim sum, fresh pasta, sushi, Pad Thai and all sorts of curries and Indian sweets and flatbreads.
Sourdough’s just the newest arrival to the list, but I have been away from “artisan” cooking for a while… feels good to be back.
On a high from a nice day. I had fun. A while back I said I wasn’t having fun, but today, I did. Fun day.
Square foot gardens are actually coming along really well. Note to self: more climbing beans next year!!!
Full slideshows of progress since March can be found (still) here:
slideshows (scroll down)
I can’t believe Mrs. ViKi starts again in less than two weeks. Don’t worry; I will refrain from lamenting about where the summer has gone!
Mmm… this was last night’s supper:
The salmon was just pan-fried in butter with fresh lemon juice and I threw some garden herbs (lemon thyme, thyme and parsley) on in the last couple of minutes.
I used this recipe for the beer batter corn fritters. I especially admire the simplicity of the ONE instruction. Yum!
Tonight’s supper (Wednesday):
~ Sourdough bread (yes, I’ll keep trying ‘till I get it right! and this one has risen very nicely so far)
~ Corn on the cob
~ Soup – maybe from a tin???
(Caution: the following is intended for Advanced coleus lovers ONLY!)
Yes, it’s late August and they are at their peak… well, okay, I guess they’ll peak a bit more in September, but come October, they’ll be gone and that’s it for the year.
Front-bed coleus: these are 40 or so of the ones I divided and propagated under lights and in our windowsills over the winter. There are five basic models, which I have grown for three years now. They’re described here: Meet the Coleus! All but two of these originated from free (okay, stolen) cuttings (small ones! nobody missed them! I promise!).
So here they are. Not as impressively huge as I remember them getting last year, but maybe they’ll grow a bit more still…
I love how rich the colours get by late summer. Indoors, they are a pale imitation of their own colouring… sometimes in February I wonder why I’m propagating them, they’re so pale and weak. And then, in summer, I remember.
Assorted side-yard coleus:
Purchased President’s Choice “dragon-type” (molten lava?) coleus, paired with miniature encliandra fuchsia and a white-flowered gaura in a pot on a rustic wooden bench beside the house:
From seed: giant green “tree” coleus! Yerachmiel Meir said, “what’s the point of a plant if it’s green?” Meaning why grow such a distinctive foliage plant (ie coleus) if its foliage looks like everything else in the garden. He has a bit of a point. The novelty of green coleus is a lot more appealing in early spring when not the entire world is green yet.
Still – it is big, especially considering it started out back in March looking like this.
The rest of those March coleus seedlings are in a pot beside the garage, by the way. I think they look nice together, if a little rag-tag and jumbled.
The trailing thing in the pot is helichrysum, not coleus! It doesn’t love the shade, and I’ve just turned it around so it looks a little sparse. Above the coleus pot is a hanging coleus I call “fingers” (it didn’t have a tag when I bought it this year). It was one huge overflowing plant, but I just divided it today into two separate pots, on either side of the garage. Hopefully, both will thrive.
This one is definitely a keeper – really intriguing both from a distance and close-up (see photo at the very top of this post for a way close up “jungle” shot). I don’t love the colour, though – maybe it wants a little more sun? We’ll see – the new one on the right of the garage gets a lot more sun than the existing one on the left.
Here’s a close-up of the new Bi Polar By Golly coleus I’ve already complained about. It’s a little freckly and bedraggled. Hopefully, it’ll fill in a bit before we get frost.
Ooooh – speaking of coleus from seed, here are the three surviving “Black Dragon” seedlings, also from March! I thought I had just-sprouted pics somewhere, but I guess not. Anyway, here they are. I think they’re lovely, and I even like the contrast with the mini hosta they’re planted with.
Note to self: must replant the hosta higher up in the pot with good drainage if it is to survive the winter. It barely made it through last year, as the pot had a thick layer of ice on top of the soil a month after the rest of the yard had thawed.
Here’s an impulsively-bought coleus from my trip to Humber Nursery back in May with my mother. It’s called Colorblaze Royal Glissade, and it’s a full-sun coleus. It’s just now starting to show its distinctive yellowish-green speckles on the leaf tops. I think it’s gorgeous. I bought it because it already had a long hangy-down “arm” coming off it and I knew it would be instantly gorgeous in a pot. Boy, was I right – another keeper for next year!
Finally, here’s my “tree coleus,” also from Humber, I think. It’s called “Jingles.” See how woody the trunk has gotten? I planted lots of curly parsley around the base, which is a lovely shade of green and beautiful with the coleus foliage. However, raccoons scrambled it up and killed one of the parsleys two months ago and I never got around to replanting. :-(
Also, the “tree” leans at a distinctive angle that to me looks rakish and windswept, but to anyone else, probably just looks dumb. A plant only its mother could love!
So that’s Jennifer’s world of coleus for today!!!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In my silly little mind, with my awful memory, these are my Top 10, but they’re in alphabetical order so as not to bias anything:
- Bad Day with a Good Supper – February 19, 2008
- Cast of Characters – January 18, 2006 (needs updating BADLY!)
- Eulogy for my father – January 31, 2009
- Gramma & Grandpa Monkey do Vegas! – January 27, 2008
- Little Kids Superimposed on a Pirate Photo – March 31, 2009
- Long-ago pics from the Garden – January 29, 2008
- My E-Z Bake Garden – June 11, 2009
- Purim Madness – March 10, 2009
- Seed Starting Chart for Toronto – March 15, 2009
- Six Plants I could not Live Without – April 22, 2009
- Uncle in Israel – July 22, 2009
- YM’s pictures from Casa Loma – June 16, 2009
Oops… is that twelve??? Maybe I’ll come back and edit it down.
Kind of strange that this blog is almost four years old, yet most of my faves are from the last six months. Weird… though I guess I did skip two years, so maybe that makes sense.
Naomi had so much fun at her sukkah party last year, so I asked her if she wanted to do one again this year. The catch this year being that Yom Tov is on Shabbos and Sunday; there’s no good Sunday in Sukkos to have a party. Drat!
I decided to do this last year because, most years, her birthday sort of gets swallowed up by Purim (it’s two days before).
Anyway, we didn’t really do anything with friends for her birthday, so I decided to invite neighbourhood friends – Jewish and otherwise – to our sukkah. We got great weather and everything!
This year, Sukkos has the advantage of being “early” (in quotes because it actually falls on the exact same dates as it does every single year – as long as you’re using the right calendar). So it should be good weather. The drawback is that a lot of Naomi’s friends will be in preschool – slash - kindergarten this year, so I am suspecting a lot of no-shows.
On the other hand, as long as they’re in Jewish preschool / kindergarten, perhaps they’ll be off school the week of Sukkos! That still won’t allow non-Jewish friends to come, however.
Drat again. I may change it to an evening time. I may see if Ted’s off any day that week and switch it to his day off. Or NOT, in case we want to go somewhere chol ha’moed.
Well, stay tuned…
Monday, August 24, 2009
It saddens me that this blog author came into the blog process all gung-ho about Jewish values and has since seemingly abandoned any semblance of spirituality - at a time when it sounds like that's exactly what she and her foster/adoptive daughter really need.
Speaking of which, YM hit me today in passing because I and I told him that he is a big boy now, and if he is EVER violent with me or any of his siblings, he will be going to live Elsewhere.
Which probably means with my mother. She has no knowledge of this plan... so far. But she has the whole basement free!
That is a Dr. Laura rule; you cannot keep a dangerous child in a home where they can be a danger to your other children. Period.
I don't consider him a dangerous child, but sometimes he can be dangerously impulsive. The difference being motivation - he never means to hurt anybody, but, like Superman as a kid, doesn't know his own strength.
Anyway, at least now I feel like a (relatively) good parent, at the very least for ending each day telling each child how very much I love them.
- Lasagna Night
- Mama Rant
- Adventures in Mama-Land (Elisheva's suggestion)
- Unimaginable Violence (a reference to this cartoon, which I find hilarious, while nobody else does)
- H.M.S. SinkyTown (a reference to this cartoon, which is STILL my desktop wallpaper after 5 months: I love it to BITS; it is my life in a nutshell!)
- All the Boats Leak
- Green Sleeves
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Website note sent to Hort Couture, maker of such coleus as “Religious Radish” and “Morning After” (plus a plant suspiciously named Cuphea “Purple Nurple”), along with today’s striking new coleus find:
“Came across Coleus "Bi Polar By Golly" in Toronto's Plant World store today. It is a lovely and unique coleus, but I feel I should mention that, far from a fun fashion statement, the term "bipolar" actually refers to a rather serious mental illness. I do hope to continue seeing your wonderful line of colourful accent plants in stores here, but also hope that, in future, you will be slightly more sensitive to the fact that certain names may be upsetting or offensive. Thanks!”
Garden magazine, Shabbos. Okay, note to self, do not read garden magazines on Shabbos. They make me lustful. And there it was: Musa acuminata “Siam Ruby” – a big red banana. The garden magazine described this thing and I fell in love.
Ten, today, at Plant World’s annual 40% off sale – well, I spotted ONE left on the shelf. (okay, when I looked again, there were two… that’s not the point!).
It has deep-red leaves with splotches of chartreuse. Okay, it looks a bit like a canna, but it’s not… it’s a BANANA. Bananas come from one of two geni – musa or ensete. I believe the most common banana, the ones we eat, are called musa basjoo. Mine is closely related, but apparently flowers very rarely and will likely never bear fruit. It can also grow from 6-8 feet, given the opportunity… which it will likely never have here.
And here it is in my very own driveway…! I wish I did have two, but perhaps if it thrives, I can dig one out and pot it separately next year, for the other side of the door (there are many stems in the pot but I don’t want to mess with it this year, as it will not have enough time to establish before I have to move it indoors).
Meanwhile, I’ve tried to group it with other attractive foliage plants (mostly the horseradish, which is thriving, and - in my opinion - gorgeous), but it dwarfs everything I’ve got.
Other miscellaneous purchases at the Plant World sale:
They were selling off “Calico” purple pepper plants for 99 cents, so I bought three (anybody want one?). They produce stumpy, round-looking purple fruits and the leaves have purple and white variegation. Very pretty!
I found two plant pots in the trash on the way home and one had some purple and white pansies still growing in it, so I stuck my purple-and-white pepper in with the purple-and-white flowers. I think it’s kind of pretty… and who throws away a pot with flowers stll in bloom???
This picture was taken at absolutely the least-flattering time of day, with super-bright light hitting the neighbours’ white stucco wall and then splashing glaringly all over the plants. I’ll try to get a better picture tomorrow morning.
Plant World also had this mostly-white Coleus called “BiPolar By Golly.” What a stupid name! It’s one of Hort Couture’s 20 top plant intros for 2009, which I guess makes it hot, but again, with our family having been touched by mental illness, I can only say again, what a stupid and poorly-thought-out name.
It is a gorgeous plant, though, and this picture really once again doesn’t do it justice. It’s a sun coleus, and I actually just plunked it into the other curbside pot with one of the “Calico” peppers.
Only two other purchases, both on the “want” list for a while. No pictures yet, sorry!
1) Hakonechloa “Naomi” grass… it’s an all-bright-green flowing hakone grass for sun or shade which turns purplish in the fall. I’ve stuck it in the front bed but it may be too dry there. I already have one regular hakone there which isn’t dying or thriving; we’ll see what happens next year.
2) The other was a “Fanal” astilbe, which I even had a spot I was saving for it, so that one was definitely not an impulse purchase. It’s an ideal astilbe spot, so I’m kind of excited… very shady, lots of moisture.
I had a lot more in my cart, but the cost of the banana made me put a lot of stuff back, including another “ghost” fern, some groundcovering chamomile and one sad-looking but relatively inexpensive at 40% off toad lily. Sigh… we can’t have it all, and did I mention, I am utterly in love with this gorgeous banana???
This picture was the closest I could get to doing justice to the rich, deep violet colour.
It’s a food-safe glaze, but some of the glaze didn’t cover the bottoms of the cups entirely, so she took it back to re-glaze and will appropriately re-gift it to him SOON, I hope!
The love of my life, my inspiration, yes, it’s sappy, but it’s true.
Sara came home from her summer away at camp, and convinced Eli to come along and celebrate Ted’s b-day. I think she bribed him with this Starbucks, and then I wouldn’t let him bring it to the table because we were eating fleishiks (except Sara, who gamely munched on some dried-out-looking veg burgers).
Forty-six! I didn’t have a four and a six, all I had was four single candles and an upside-down nine. What a cheesy family… but he knew us long enough before he married me; he knew what he was getting into!!!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Okay, I spoke too soon; apparently, Ted does care.
Ignore how grimy this window a/c unit looks… it’s already a couple of degrees cooler in this crowded little desk-corner where I currently sit.
I <3 a/c
What an ungrateful small-minded miserable person I can be when I’m too hot!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Email to the makers of the Bring Your Own Bag, who have a page on their website to “tell them your story” of using their remarkable (?) shopping bag. Anyway, I didn’t submit this to that page; I thought that would be a tad snarky, even for me.
So I just sent this to the general “info@” email address. It’s not even all that cranky, in my opinion… guess I’m losing my touch.
“Due to a poorly-sewn side seam, this bag now has a finger-sized hole in one side. I would love to get a replacement, as I just bought this a short while ago and was looking forward to using it at farmers' markets, etc.
It was purchased in Toronto at The Kitchen Table location on Spadina, just north of St. Clair.
I do love how prominently my own actual finger appears in the hole I have referred to as “finger-sized.” I am not exactly sure if they will appreciate the greatness of that photographic and literary touch, however. It just tickles my own funny-bone, which, if you know anything about tickling, means I’m not tickled at all, because you really cannot tickle yourself.
Unless you have some weird Oliver Sacks-like proprioceptive disorder that causes you to dissociate from the actions of your own fingertips. I guess it’s possible, theoretically, to tickle yourself under those circumstances. However, those circumstances generally involve a brain tumour, so you might not have the time or headspace to tickle yourself, even under those circumstances.