Little crochet tote bag

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A little lacy crochet tote bag for summer, for odds and ends that I might take with me if I’m just going for a short walk to the playground – a pack of tissues, an apple, a small bottle of water, sunglasses.

The simplest bag imaginable, made of two lacy squares, a triangular flap, and a strap that is basically a super long rectangle.

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A large, elongated bead attached to the tip of the flap serves as a button that goes into the middle hole (the center of the square).

Square pattern from a vintage Russian magazine:

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The flap and strap are more or less freestyle – just make sure the tip of your triangle reaches the center of the bag.

Worked in thin, sturdy cotton thread with crochet hook number 2.5.

Summer simplicity

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Softie the crochet doll gets new hair from upcycled yarn. It’s naturally curly from former use, and isn’t it perfect for hair?

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Wee feet. She has just started walking recently, and already I can’t keep up with her.

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Current favorite read from the library. We usually go once a week, and we really should do it more often because we get through all the books in about two days.

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Sprouting lemon seeds in a pot for a fun little project.

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Pomegranates already ripening on the tree, reminding me that as much as I love summer, it will be over eventually, followed by another cycle of the High Holy Days.

When you’re buried in housework

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I have come across a truly eye-opening post about why we are really overwhelmed by housework. It’s kind of oldish, but trust me, it’s a real gem!

‘Sometimes in my life I have not been overwhelmed by housework so much as just overwhelmed. Sometimes life sends stuff at us that is just hard. Sometimes we might not even want to acknowledge that stuff, even to ourselves, so we look around at the mess we are in, at the housework that is not getting done because we are so consumed by other hard stuff, and think, ‘If I can just get the house sorted and clean and pretty like every single other person in the world seems to be able to do, then maybe all this other misery will go away and we can be the Brady Bunch, and every area of my life will be Pinterest worthy, and then I will be happy.’

I have never stopped to think about any aspect of this except having babies and small children in the house, which obviously makes one slower. However, I did not often stop to consider that many of the times I was overwhelmed and frustrated supposedly with housework were not really about the housework at all.

Lately, I’ve felt I’m really struggling, chasing my tail and not really getting much done. I was too busy and tired to stop and think that it’s not really about the number of loads of laundry I have to do each week, but about some adjustments I’ve failed to make.

One is having my husband at home full time. He freelances, which means he often strolls into the kitchen for a drink or snacks or just hangs around. Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one who absolutely hates doing any sort of housework beyond bare maintenance when there are people around. I need space and quiet and can’t handle having to shoo people away while I’m cleaning. So I often find myself waiting for my husband to get out of the house to really get into gear, and it just doesn’t happen all that often. Now I tell myself, don’t wait for the perfect time to do whatever it is I should be doing, just jump in with both feet and get it done!

Another factor is living, for the first time in my life, in a house with stairs. Our previous house had a compact shoebox shape, and getting from one room to another took about half a second. Now I find myself wasting a lot of time running up and down the stairs whenever I need something or forget something. I’m slowly teaching myself to group my tasks so that I spend a chunk of time upstairs working on things that need to be done there, and then go downstairs for other tasks. I also keep some things I need on hand, like diapers, both upstairs and downstairs.

Finally, I’ve taken an extra commitment at the beginning of this year when I started working from home as a copyeditor. I love the financial perk and am grateful for the fact that I work with one company rather than having to hunt for new freelance gigs each month, but work is work and nothing gets done by magic. So some things just had to go, like ironing. It’s a delicate balance, and we all just have to keep at it, doing the best we can with what we have.

Peeps again

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After almost a year of chicken hiatus, we’ve finally taken the plunge again. We got some eggs from a generous friend, dusted off the incubator, and three weeks later…

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Now these little ones need a proper residence. I know, I know – we’ve got the it all backwards again, but at least now my husband will have the motivation to build a coop. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with.

As cute and fuzzy as baby chicks are, and you can be sure they’re a huge hit around here, what I really look forward to is an established coop with a flock of adult hens, a rooster or two, and fresh eggs every day.

Dreams of Lace Crochet Dress

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I decided to pull out all stops and make a really fancy little dress for Hadassah, but not something so excessively frilly it would get in her way. The result was this lovely, airy summer dress meant to be worn over a short onesie. I really like the color combination of white, black and different hues of purple, though it was originally the result of not having enough white yarn.

Material: thin cotton thread yarn, suitable for making lacy patterns. Crochet hook number 1-1.5.

Top pattern: top to bottom square neckline buttoned raglan.

Skirt design by Valentina Litvinova, with slight modifications.

Yes, it did take a pretty long time to make, but honestly, not as long as I thought it would! I was genuinely concerned Hadassah would need a larger size by the time I completed it, but it worked quicker than I had expected, and I’m really happy and looking forward to seeing her wear it.

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View from the back: a row of vintage buttons.

My favorite time-saving strategies

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With four children and an extremely busy life day to day, time is my most precious commodity. There are only 24 hours in a day, which is never enough. So we have to make choices. There are no right or wrong ones, just those that work for us at this season of our lives.

Here are some tactics I use to prioritize the important things and save time:

1. I rarely take or make phone calls. Whenever it comes to customer service or doctor’s appointments, I try to handle things through apps or websites. I am so introverted that talking to strangers throws me off for a long time after I actually finish the call – I forget what I was doing earlier and have to spend a few minutes collecting my thoughts. I don’t even always take calls from friends or family if I’m having a busy day.

2. I clean what is dirty and leave what is not. Housework is never-ending and I simply have to prioritize. Clothes are usually worn more than once. Towels and bedding are used for as long as they are tolerably clean before being changed. I do three loads, sometimes four, per week with a family of six. I do my best to sweep, mop and dust, but my priority is the “gross factor” things: toilets, showers, bathtubs, sinks, kitchen counters and stovetop.

3. Meals are simple and as healthy as I can make them. Dinner is most often soup, pasta with tomato sauce and grated cheese, a crustless quiche, or a salad and eggs in some form. If at all possible, I prefer to have only one pot, meal or mixing bowl to clean. I don’t usually freeze meals in advance, but I do like to make a big batch and eat the leftovers for next day’s lunch.

4. I make it a priority to get rid of as much clutter as I can or, better yet, never let it cross the threshold of my home. It’s a little easier said than done, because I live with a hoarder who can’t pass a dump without salvaging something that might be useful someday, someway. But yes, decluttering saves a bunch of time because you have less stuff to clean, sort, and organize.

5. I minimize outside commitments that would involve me herding the childremn there and back several times a week. We have one afternoon a week when we go to the library and, along the way, hang out with friends. I try my best to arrange any errands for the same day. My eldest daughter attends piano lessons, which she is able to do independently of me. Otherwise, I refuse to commit to regular extracurricular activities. The way I see it, there’s nothing that can’t wait until my children are old enough to go there and back themselves.

Day to day

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First crop of tomatoes from the garden. Plenty more to come.

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Fresh mulberries from a nearby tree – these are seriously good, and there are so many of them I made jam this week.

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The older girls with newly braided hair.

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Israel, planning to make many wonderful things with these discarded boards you see in the picture.

I hope your summer started off with just the right vibes! Enjoy the season.