Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yoav's Embroidery



This is Yoav's first patterned embroidery. He drew the design with a vanishing fabric marker on handkerchief linen from Gray Line Linen. He did the design and embroidery himself (I just did the end knots for each piece of thread). In case it's not obvious what everything is - there's a yellow sun at the top, blue skyline just below, red flowers and a line of brown dirt.

It looks somewhat like backstitch, but he did running stitch in both directions (ie he stitched along the ground at the bottom toward the right and then when he got to the end, he went left to fill in the gaps). He probably would be able to do an actual backstitch - maybe I'll show him that for next time.

I finished it using a very simplified version of this tutorial. I know Yoav will be thrilled to see it hanging up tomorrow. Today after finishing, he asked me to make him a needle case and to put a few embroidery needles in it - besides being cool (to me) that my nearly-six-year-old boy is asking for a needle case LOL, it's actually on the list of things I'm making him for his birthday next month ;) This is the one I'll probably make him, since it looks sweet and fast to make...

Monday, September 27, 2010

New ranch for horseback riding lessons

We have officially switched to a new ranch for Yoav's horsebackriding lessons. This one is SO much nicer than the other (comfort-wise, for me). There is a seating area up above the riding area, so I can easily watch the lessons. I got a bunch of photos of Yoav - he had a blast - he was brimming with excitement when he came to us after the class. He was the one who really wanted to switch - he didn't like the long car ride to the other place (it was closer to our last house but this one is about seven minutes from our house now!) and he didn't like that people smoked there (it was more of a cowboy hangout scene, whereas this one is more upscale and the seating area is much bigger anyway, so we can easily move away from any smoke smell...)

Riding one-handed with the other hand on his head:

Lying down backward on the horse:

STANDING on the horse!

I love this photo beyond words - you probably can't tell, but Yoav is laughing - I had to zoom in to see. This is when the horse was trotting (moving fairly fast) - I love that he enjoys it so much that I randomly caught him in such a gleeful moment!!!

Buying Land ... Again

We have big news (that may or may not result in anything, as we've learned before!)...

We're going to try to buy a plot of land in Nes Harim. Nes Harim is located about ten minutes from us - it's the reason we initially were drawn to this area (the Judean Hills). A homeschooling friend of mine lives there and invited us to her house in January. We loved the town then and explored buying land, but the plot for sale at that point was being sold via a broker and he was wanting to get some money in cash (shady and probably illegal).

We went again to her house for this past Shabbat, and now, after seeing all the towns we've seen in the past 10 months, we can see more clearly that this is a very special moshav.

First, here's the brief blurb about the moshav in Wikipedia.

There's now a plot for sale just a few down from the previous one we liked. The background on these plots is that the town is building a "harchava", which is just an extension to the town, in which the members of the moshav sell land and I think they each (depending on rights for their land) get a plot as well. Each plot is 1/2 dunam (1/8 acre). There was a lottery six years ago when the plots were initially sold and now some plots are re-sold occasionally for profit or due to life changes or whatnot. The plot we're interested in is owned by a member of the moshav.

Now, for photos of the plot:
It's one of the highest plots in the harchava and one of the few flat ones:

View to the SE:

View to the West (I'm pretty sure we would have an unobstructed view of sunset!):

Land just behind the property (there are no houses planned behind this plot - there is the open space seen in this photo - as part of the due diligence, if we get there, we will have to make sure it will be left empty and not used for anything bothersome!):
Assuming it will be left as is, we would essentially have a much larger back yard ;)

View across the street (in front of the plot - no houses will be built on this side of the street - there's a small bit of forest, big drop and a road down below - more on that later):

Things we love about the town/plot:
* Well-situated in Israel - close to Jerusalem, fairly close to Tel Aviv (an hour), close to Bet Shemesh, not too close to the Green Line.
* Harchava will be mostly Ashkenazi and a new Ashkenazi shul is planned close to the groups of plots of which this one is a part.
* We have good friends who will be neighbors - Yoav and Elie get along really well with their younger kids (4 and 7-year old girls) AND they have two older kids (10yo girl and 14yo boy) who would be ideal babysitters, a luxury we've never had before!
* Close to our great new horseback riding ranch in Tzur Hadassah - a post on that coming ;)
* We generally love living in this area - lots of forests (Nes Harim in particular is really nestled in a nice forest for spending many happy hours), caves, etc.

Things I'm unsure about:
* You can hear the low hum of vehicles on the road just north of Nes Harim (just beyond the forest in front of the plot). I'm going to go tomorrow afternoon with the kids with their bikes so they can bike and I'll sit (like I usually do here) and read and see if I can hear much. I'm hypersensitive to vehicle noises after spending three years on 14th Street and 1st Avenue in Manhattan!

Puppet Show - The Closed Door


I had such a great success with our puppet show today, I thought I'd take a photo to share here. We did the story "The Closed Door" from the Earthschooling Kindergarten curriculum. It's a lovely story about a little girl who has a beautiful white room with white treasures and a special pearl necklace that she is to wear when the King eventually calls for her (and she must keep it spotless). One day, a black goblin comes to visit her and they play together and he keeps her from calling in her mother, but over time, the room becomes grey, dingy and dusty. Eventually, she gets nervous when she sees that the necklace has become grey, so he says she should close the door to the room and he will clean it. When her mother hears the door closing (which has never before been closed), she runs in, the goblin disappears and they unite happily and clean the room (and necklace) together to turn everything back as it was.

What I love so much about this story is that it's so perfect for children at this age, who are nearing the 6-Year-Change, and so are starting to feel a bit separate, but are still very much needing the comfort of their parents and home. They thrive on stories where something happens but, in the end, all is the same - likewise, they see that things can happen in life, they can go out alone for a little bike ride or go to a friend's house, and when they return home, all will be as it was ;)

This story in particular is great because there's a fun scene change when the goblin turns everything dingy. I started with a white playsilk for the floor and walls, shells for the "treasures", a white felt duck for the white goose, a pearl necklace for the pearl necklace LOL, and the door from our gnome home as the frame of the door with a second wood block for the door. I used a wood figure for the goblin and made simple black paper cloths for him by just drawing with black crayon on paper - I used a long rectangle to wrap around his body and made a little triangle hat. When everything turned dingy, I laid a grey piece of felt on the floor of the room and attached two pairs of grey pants on the playstand so the "curtains" and "ceiling" were all grey. I switched the necklace for a grey necklace. My kids are always fairly enraptured by puppet shows, but, with this one, Yoav in particular was hanging onto every word and his face was full of such awe and wonder :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cooking for Sukkot

I should really be doing what the post title says instead of blogging about it, but I want to participate in the second edition of the Real Food Real Blog Carnival – Sukkot 2010.

First, my recipe. This is a Carrot Ginger Soup from Allrecipes.com - my only change, which may seem minor, but has an enormous impact on flavor (and health benefits, of course!) is to substitute chicken stock (from free-range chicken) for the water in the original recipe. I love this soup - it's a perfect fall (and Sukkot) soup!

1/2 medium butternut squash
2 T olive oil
1 diced onion
1 lb carrots - peeled & diced
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger - peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups homemade chicken stock (from free-range chicken)
salt and pepper to taste (I use 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1/4 tsp pepper)
pinch of ground cinnamon

(1) Preheat oven to 350F. Scoop seeds out of squash and place cut side down on greased baking sheet. Bake about an hour until soft. Allow to cool, then scoop out the flesh and set aside.
(2) Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add the stock , squash, carrots and ginger. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for about an hour or until carrots are tender.
(3) Puree with a hand blender. Add boiling water or stock as desired to thin, but keep in mind it's supposed to be a thick creamy soup. Add salt, pepper and cinnamon.

I'll also share my planned menu for our first meal of Sukkot, which will be tomorrow evening:
* Challah - Beigel Challah from Joan Nathan's "The Foods of Israel Today" - NOT REAL FOOD, just tasty and my DH (well, everyone who tastes it) loves it ;)
* Soup - Carrot Ginger Soup
* Salads - Russian Beet Salad (from "Nourishing Traditions"), Israeli Salad (basic recipe - I do it similar to the recipe in Janna Gur's "The Book of New Israeli Food"), Hummus (from Joan Nathan's "The Foods of Israel Today"), roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, sauteed carrots (same method as in "Nourishing Traditions" but subbing coconut oil for the butter)
* Main Course - Fricassee (recipe from my MIL), Roast Chicken (from "Nourishing Traditions")
* Dessert - Fruit Salad, Carob Chews (from "Nourishing Traditions"), Apple Cobbler (from "Nourishing Traditions")

Chag Sameach!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Yoav's Foray Into the Business World

So, Yoav has started his first business. I guess it's inevitable. Seems like all kids, at some point, want to open a business to make a few shekels. Yoav likes to have shekels so he can buy bouncy balls out of the shekel machines near his Saba and Safta's apartment. Or to give for tzedakah, as he happily did yesterday of his own accord to a beggar in the Old City.

Anyway, so the business is very simple bracelets - he gathered a few colors of DMC thread and, for a shekel, the buyer chooses a color and Yoav cuts the thread to size and ties it in a knot around your wrist. Of course, the Waldorf Mama in me is glad to see that he's getting so proficient with tying knots ;)

It was very cute watching Yoav sell bracelets to Elie. They played it all out - Elie chose colors for his bracelets (one on each wrist) and then Yoav asked Elie for a shekel and Elie went off to my wallet to get one ;)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Linen Napkins

We made these napkins this week for our craft. I used this tutorial for making the mitered corners. The linen is the handkerchief linen from Gray Line Linen. Linen really is a lovely fabric. I stitched one napkin by hand (top one in photo) and Yoav did one side of one and then got tired of it and moved on to another sewing project of his own design. These will be our new napkins for Shabbat and Yom Tovim meals.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our Sewing Room

I have to share... I LOVE this room. Yoav loves it too - A few days ago when the room was mostly organized, Yoav sat down, looked dreamily at the shelves and said, "I love this room." I love that my almost six-year-old son loves the sewing room ;)

The shelves are the Lack shelves from IKEA. I like the white boxes, also from IKEA - I have fabric organized by type in the boxes - I have one shelf not organic, two shelves of organic and the boxes are for scraps, kids fabric, flower fabric, and plain fabric. It works well for quilting fabric and then everything I have more than a half yard of is just out. All the fabric is washed, dried and ready to go. My first project in the new room will be the apron out of the book "Linen, Wool, Cotton" - the apron is pictured on the front.




Getting Into our Rhythm

Today was our first full day of "school". It was such a great day. Makes me so glad I'm on this path.

I think the rhythm I have planned will work well for us.

I wrote a bit about this earlier, but I'm moving away from Enki and am doing Waldorf, based a lot of Donna Simmons' "Kindergarten for your 3-6 Year Old", Earthschooling, my own readings of Steiner (I'm currently reading "Kingdom of Childhood" which I highly recommend as a first Steiner book) and support from the HomeschoolingWaldorf and WaldorfHomeEducators Yahoo groups. I'm using a ton of resources - I have acquired a ridiculous number of books to use as support - movement books, craft books, song books, stories. At some point I'll add my list of Kindy resources.

We started off our day (after breakfast) with a Nature Walk. This was the bane of my existence last year. Donna Simmons recommends a morning walk; Enki says you *must* get the children's heartbeats pumping first thing in the morning before Circle. That was *so* hard for me to do, but somehow, my pathetic Mama-brain spent months trying to get Yoav moving in the morning before finally I had a "duh" moment and realized that IT WASN'T WORKING FOR US!!!!!!!!! Oy. And to think that I started as an Unschooler, following my child's lead. Jeepers. Yes, J, I deserve a whack ;) Anyway, I'm glad I made the mistake early on. I tend to treat things as gospel that I want to believe. That's what happens when you study Electrical Engineering. Years of equations and proofs does NOT help one understand that sometimes the written word does not apply to one's own family :)

Anyway, the Nature Walk was fabulous! We took a walk on the path behind our house that leads up to the top of the moshav. The weather was great and the views are so lovely. There's a fence along the path (the whole Moshav is fenced around the perimeter - that's typical in Israel) but there are areas where you can walk into the forest, which is what we did for snack.

View of the moshav from the path:


Sitting for a snack (I'm already planning a little quilt to make for us to bring along to sit on for snack):

After the walk, we did Circle on the porch by the front of the house. It worked well to do it before we got into the house. Also, I'm starting with very easy tried-and-true verses that the kids already like to get things going. Not sure why I didn't think of this last year either! Elie's starting to really enjoy finger movements - he loves all the ones we did and can (and does) do a lot himself. I think Elie's excitement/involvement led to Yoav doing more than usual, which was great, since Yoav will often just watch me do the whole Circle.

Next we came in and did our story in typical Waldorf puppet-show fashion. I sit behind a playstand and perform the little show on the shelf of the playstand. I did the Erev Yom Kippur story from our book "The Jewish Year For Children". I put a playsilk about two feet from the playstand with two little wooden chairs behind it for the kids to sit on. I set everything up and played a few notes on our pentatonic xylophone and then started. Both kids were completely mesmerized by the story. This is the first time Elie's been interested in a puppet show (last time I tried was before summer). What a relief - much more pleasant than him trying to sabotage my setup! I saw Yoav once put his finger to his lips to show Elie to be quiet, but both of them were speaking in whispers even after I finished. When I finished, Yoav wanted to do a show, which was very similar to mine but with chickens instead of a fish in the story ;) Then, to my surprise, Elie wanted to do a show. It was SO cute to watch him. He seemed to really enjoy sitting behind the playstand, being in the lead. He took it very seriously and he was doing his "show" for quite a while - he fixed the playsilks with the puppets (little dolls and felt and wood animals) underneath, played notes on the xylophone a few times...

We had a good watercolor session today also. We did it in the afternoon when Elie was napping. Up until now, we've only done two colors, but today Yoav started by painting a flower and then said he wanted blue for sky, so I got blue for him. He seemed to really enjoy seeing so many colors at once.

The edges should be rounded - I forgot until after I had already soaked the paper...

After Elie's nap, we went out and finished our rabbit cage. We've been working on this already for about two weeks - I think we finally have it functional - there's chicken wire on all sides and the bottom with a chicken wire door that is attached with three little metal hooks at the opening (there's no door yet in this photo). We really wanted the cage to be big enough for the kids to get into. The bunny seems happy with her new home and Elie's happy to finally be able to pet her since we've had her in a pretty small cage since we moved (we had her inside for a while but we had no success training her...)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Raw Goat's Milk Banana Smoothie

I finally found a way to drink raw goat's milk without having to turn it into yogurt!
Raw Goat's Milk Banana Smoothie

1 cups raw (grass-fed) goat's milk
1 ripe banana
6 ice cubes
1/8 tsp vanilla

Directions: Put in blender; blend until smooth.

I guess it's a little banana-heavy for using as a method of drinking a quart a day (WAPF recommended amount for nursing/pregnant women). It would probably be just as good with two cups of milk and more ice cubes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rosh Hashanah Challah


These are the lovely challot that are now gracing my oven... The beautiful circle braid technique is from here. I followed her suggestions to add raisins inside and cinnamon/sugar on the top (unrefined cane sugar) - it truly does smell heavenly in the oven! I can't wait to taste! I used my standard recipe - Beigel Family Challah from Joan Nathan's "The Foods of Israel Today" - this is the non-Traditional Foods portion of my Rosh Hashanah recipes ;) If anyone has figured out an NT method for making challah, please share! I've tried too many times to count and am now on a break :)


Rosh Hashanah Recipe: Green Black Eyed Peas

Black-eyed peas are another traditional Rosh Hashanah food as are leeks - this dish combines both. This is a Rosh Hashana-ization of a Nourishing Traditions recipe. Given how healthy this is and that both DH and Elie really like it, I'll definitely be making it again soon.


Green Black-Eyed Peas

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
2 T lemon juice
1 bunch kale, rinsed and chopped
4 small leeks, slit vertically, rinsed and diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, rinsed and chopped finely
1/2 bunch parsley, rinsed and chopped finely
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
2 T lime juice
grated rind of one lime
1/4 t sea salt

1. Soak peas 12-24 hours in water and lemon juice (to neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors and break down dificult-to-digest complex sugars).
2. Rinse peas and bring to boil. Skim off foam.
3. Boil covered 3-4 hours until soft.
4. Separately, sautee leeks, parsley and cilantro in olive oil, stirring constantly. Remove to separate bowl.
5. Sautee onion until translucent, add minced garlic for about a minute.
6. Add in leeks, parsley, cilantro mixture and beans (with cooking liquid), kale, lime juice, lime rind and sea salt.
7. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rosh Hashanah Recipes

A foodie friend has started a Real Foods Jewish Holidays Blog Carnival. I'm excited to take part in it and hope it will motivate me (more) to plan Holiday recipes well in advance.

So... This post is part of Real Food Holidays carnival at Real Food Digest!

All recipes are easy, tasty and nourishing (and of course well-suited for the Rosh Hashanah table) and store well in the fridge.



First up is a carrot tzimmes. Tzimmes is a traditional Rosh Hashanah food. One of my favorite side dishes is carrots sauteed in coconut oil, so with the addition of honey and raisins, this is a perfect tzimmes for me!

Carrot Tzimmes

1 kilo (10 large) carrots
8 T coconut oil
4 T honey
1/2 cup raisins

1. Slice carrots into rounds.
2. Put carrots in pot with filtered water to cover.
3. Bring water to a boil.
4. Add coconut oil and honey.
5. Continue to boil uncovered, stirring occasionally.
6. Add raisins when the carrots are about 1/2 to 1/4 covered by the water.
7. Continue to stir until almost all liquid is gone, making sure not to burn your pot!
8. Serve warm (but can be stored in the fridge for at least a day).



Next up is a beet salad. Beets are a traditional Rosh Hashanah food. This recipe is straight from Nourishing Traditions (p. 196) so I can't post the recipe, but it's very tasty and well worth making. An added bonus to the flavor and healthiness is that it is supposed to be made in advance and stored in the fridge for at least a few hours. Nothing I like more than a recipe that is SUPPOSED to be made in advance ;)



Last are date rolls. Dates are also a traditional Rosh Hashanah food. My kids LOVE these. We usually make them with crispy (soaked and dehydrated) almonds, but we don't eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah. This is great fun for the kids to make this while you do other cooking or cleaning (just be sure there's lots of extras since they'll be eating as they go!)

Date Rolls

2 cups dried dates
2 T coconut oil
1 cup shredded coconut

1. Mix dates and oil in food processor until it forms a large mass.
2. Form into small, bite-sized balls.
3. Roll in the coconut.

This freezes well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Finding new (and better) Traditional Food sources

I'm really loving our new area (we're located between Bet Shemesh and Jerusalem in the Judean Hills). Not only are there forests all around, which have me dreaming of our coming Waldkindergarden afternoons, but it's a Traditional Foods haven!!! What a huge relief for me. I've literally cried over the apparent lack of grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, organic produce, raw milk from grass-fed goats. Well, NO MORE! I've found it ALL!!! I've added my new finds to the WAPF page of my blog (to the right of the Home link - or here if you don't see it) - the new ones are the grass-fed beef from the Jerusalem shuk, free-range chicken from Yad Natan, produce from Ben's Farm, Tzora and goat's milk.

I think they're all pretty equally exciting - tears of joy came to my eyes when we found out about the beef at the shuk (yes, I know I'm a wacko), but the coolest is the goat farm. We were driving out of the Stalactite Cave and saw a sign for goat cheese. We drove in to check it out and found a most amazing site - a family living a nearly-sustainable life in the forest. They have solar panels along the whole roof of their house, a sun oven, huge organic garden which is fertilized by the goat manure, oh right and about 200 grass-fed goats, who go out to graze in the forest 5-6 hours a day, etc, etc. It's a sight to see. Plus the milk and cheese and yogurt is amazing ;)

Soreq Stalactite Cave

Now that we're fairly settled in our new home, we are going to start making Sundays a true Family Adventure Day.

This past Sunday, we went to the Soreq Stalactite cave, which is now only about twenty minutes from our house! It's a beautiful cave, well worth seeing if you're in Israel.


When we finished, Yoav and Elie had fun playing outside as we were walking the many, many, many steps back up to the car. I love how in these two photos, Yoav is checking out Elie's funny face in one photo and Elie is checking out Yoav's face in the other. Watching the two of them become close friends is beyond words. A year ago, I thought my mother had amnesia when she said the happiest part of her life was when we (me and my close-aged sibs) were little. Now I finally know what she means. I keep taking photos and videos to try to remember these times and the interactions between the two boys, but, more importantly, I'm trying to enjoy the real moments as they come, to bathe in the smiles and kisses and laughter.



Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hazelnut Children

We made these little "Hazelnut children" from the pattern in "Feltcraft" by Petra Berger. Yoav got the idea when he saw hazelnuts at Eden yesterday. We tried to find hazelnuts in the States when we first got the book but I couldn't find them in our grocery store and didn't look beyond that. He was so happy to find the nuts - he identified them by the shape of the nuts in the book. The project is really easy to do - Yoav did most of his by himself (his has the red hat). His face came out much better than mine - I put the eyes way too close.

Elie LOVES his doll. He's been carrying it around all day and right now is holding it while he naps. I think the smaller the better for him with dolls. Fitting snug in his hand seems to be a good thing for him.

The photo is terrible because of the flash with the dark background, but the kids absconded with the camera before I could do better...


Yoav's Drawings

Yoav drew these pictures for me the other day - I can't believe how much his drawing has progressed recently. We got frames and hung a few up around the house including one by the bed - I love seeing it when I wake up. He's also been less frustrated lately around art. He's learning how to blend the colors of the crayons to change something into something else if he doesn't like it. I'm pretty sure this is why we're hearing less screaming and tearing and throwing of drawings. Of course, he's getting older also. So a combination of both. It's certainly a pleasure ;)