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I have a 14 month old tiny toddler She is amazing, wonderful, fun, and has been a very easy baby. I can’t take credit for her being easy, we just got lucky, but I’d like to think not being stressed out because we felt well prepared have helped.

messy livingroom baby stuff

This is as messy as I ever let the living room get. Otherwise I’d go BONKERS!

Here are some items that have helped us feel like prepared, confident new parents. I’ll try to list them in age order of when they’re most useful :)


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Here are some of her favorite foods at 10 months old:



Pears or apples cut into 1 cm pieces with a crinkle cut knife

Grapes or cherry tomatoes (cut into quarters the long way)

Turkey and spinach meatballs

Glazed carrots

Matzo balls made with real schmaltz

The veggies that cooked with brisket or pot roast

Spinach kugel or spanikopita filler

Chicken soup (not the broth, just the stuff)

Tsimmies with chunks of turkey thigh

Roasted cauliflower and/or sweet potatoes

Baked ziti

Stewed prunes


Chewing on a roasted green bean at 6 months

She never really ate purees/baby food, but has always sat at the table with us for meals in her Stokke high chair and played with toys and we’d sometimes let her play with food too (like the green bean above). At 7 months she grabbed a pizza crust off my plate while I was out with my mom and I thought she’d just gum on it, but she ATE 2 INCHES OF PIZZA CRUST! I thought it was fluke, so when Ben came home a few days later and we went out for Indian food we gave her a piece of naan to chew on and she ate that too and flapped her little arms for more! She ended up eating naan, raisins from the saffron rice, and some peas from my curry that night.

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Let’s see, last time I blogged here we were in the process of moving to Albuquerque. Well, now we live here! We bought a house after a few months of renting a room from another local Jewish gal (who has since moved to Houston). I found a job at a contact public defender’s firm within just 2 weeks of being here full time, was there for about a year, got pregnant and it was awful and I miscarried, I got well again and found a supplement that really helps me, we went on vacation to the North Island of New Zealand for 2 weeks, hosted an exchange student for a semester, got pregnant again, it was wonderful and I spent a lot of time doing Pilates and yoga, had a beautiful baby girl, got postpartum preeclampsia, got better but was very weak for a long time, stayed home with baby, and now she’s 10 months and I’m trying to find ME again!

Side lying nursing baby (nothing showing)

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Here’s a quick weeknight meal, inspired by The Pioneer Woman’s “Best Spinach Salad Ever.” 

Where can you find kosher beef bacon? Both Grow and Behold and KOL Foods carry it. Some kosher grocery stores may carry it too. Sometimes beef bacon is called “beef fry” instead of beef bacon (and may look like fatty porcine bacon or be more processed, like turkey bacon). I can’t eat the grocery store kind, at least the kind that Kosher Mart carries, it has carrageenan in it (which gives foods a thicker/creamy mouth feel but also gives me sad tummy in moderate doses).

Oh, you don’t want an rant about my food issues, you want a recipe, right? Here I am, teasing you with a messy kitchen table photo of my dinner that I started to eat before photographing it (this salad is best eaten immediately after all).

Deena's warm spinach and beef bacon salad

Deena’s warm spinach and beef bacon salad


  • 3 slices BEEF BACON
  • 1-2 Tbls good olive oil, as needed
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 4 oz white button mushrooms
  • 8 ounces, clean, dry, baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. reserved BEEF BACON grease (or beef bacon fat + olive oil to reach the correct volume)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • small sprinkle of kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • OPTIONAL: 3 hard boiled eggs
  • OPTIONAL: chopped cherry tomatoes (I had some from my garden)


In a tiny bit of oil, fry the beef bacon until crispy/chewy. Set aside on a paper towel.

Remove the warm grease from the pan with a spoon, add olive oil as needed to come up to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons, and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the warm skillet and return to medium heat.

Slice red onions very thinly, add to skillet. Slowly cook the onions until they’re caramelized and reduced. Set aside on a plate.

Slice mushrooms and add to the same skillet. Slowly cook the mushrooms until they’re caramelized and reduced. Set aside with the onions.

Chop up beef bacon into little nibbles.

OPTIONAL: Peel and slice eggs.

Make hot beef bacon dressing! Add the 1 1/2 set aside bacon grease/oil, vinegar, honey, and Dijon to the skillet over medium-low heat. Whisk to combine and heat through.

Place spinach in a large bowl. Add onions, mushrooms, and beef bacon on top. Pour hot dressing over everything; toss to combine.

Top with optional eggs and/or tomatoes and serve immediately. Serve with focaccia or other fresh bread.

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Has someone been following me to write up this list?

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Every summer, without a doubt, I get a little homesick for camp. I miss the lake, I miss the fact that someone else will do all the cooking and dishes, I miss the order/structure (same wake-up time, play amazing orchestral music, music theory, lunch, classes in theater, piano, art, Alexander Technique, etc./chamber music/practice time and viola lessons/activities, dinner time, concerts or free time, and the same bed time 6 days/week, no classes on Sunday and only AM classes on Monday). I miss the immersion in all of arts and the weather. Today’s relatively low humidity (~50%) and high of 80F are much more Michigan-y feeling than DC. 

view from the deck of the Maddy Cabin

Green Lake from the deck of the Maddy Cabin, Summer 2012

I don’t miss performing (yet?), but I miss being immersed in art and having it available in all forms to fill me up. Feeling whimsical? Visit the sculpture studio. Feeling contemplative? Shakespeare or ballet. Restless? Ultimate Frisbee or free swim, or sailing (if you remembered to re-up your open water training). Feeling lonely? Poetry reading, organ recital, or new music ensemble! The smaller performances always had such a warmth to them, and usually some really friendly older patrons who love to chat during intermission.

The business was the best thing for me. Long, days filled with lounging make me restless.

why yes, that is a VERY tall man conducting NINE harps

HS Concert Orchestra, conducted by Mr. Holland, with Mrs. Holland’s 9 harps

I guess what I’m saying is that I need more activities in my life. 4th of July weekend and last weekend were GREAT, we did something everyday and I felt wonderful!

This year’s camp stats. It seems like the kids get more and more amazing each year. Or I’m just getting older and further removed. I was amazed by my peers when I was there too. It could just be that kids are amazing.

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“This is not to say that camp is a panacea for socially isolated people with disabilities. ” Nope, but for me it was a panacea for someone who didn’t know they were socially isolated (until they weren’t) who has no major disabilities.

Matan's Musings

“Holy sh**, that’s Matan” – Unknown shmirah (on-duty counselor) late July 1994.

These were the words I heard during the execution phase of a critical step in trying to sneak me across camp, from boys’ camp to girls’ camp on the last night of the first session of Eisner Camp in 1994.

Sneaking across camp, or raiding, was a time-honored tradition, especially on the last night.  I like to think that it was a little more innocent when I was a child than it is now, with the stories that I hear of rampant teenage sexuality, but there is no question that hormones were a motivating factor.

Despite being as motivated as any other 12-year-old boy, there were some significant complexities in the idea that I would participate.  The first was that sneaking across camp involved, well, sneaking, and I was in a large and very loud power wheelchair. …

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Problem Solved

I’ve been eating commercially made Matzohla this year, but next year I’ll be making my own matzo-granola!

Proof of the Pudding

In my experience, “Passover” and “delicious” and “weekday breakfast” are not words that belong in the same sentence. On Passover, Jews must remove all grains from their diet, including anything derived from wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelt. That means no cereal, no muffins, no bagels, no oatmeal — essentially, none of the staples that get me through my workday morning.

Sure, there are “Kosher for Passover” muffins and cereals made with matzo meal, but have you ever tasted some of these alleged breakfast goodies? Most of them are gritty, tasteless disasters. And of course there is always the taste sensation that is matzo itself, but somehow allowing my stomach’s first encounter with food in more than 8 hours to be an indigestible cardboard-like wafer seems like cruel and unusual punishment.

Friends have told me that breakfast is the “easiest” meal during Passover because you can eat scrambled eggs and…

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no distractions

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