Enjoying some rest

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The house has been scrubbed, my hands were sore and raw, and the kitchen was sparkling clean on the night before erev Pesach when we overhauled everything to make matzo from scratch (a feat I could personally have dispensed with, but which my husband insisted on trying at least once). Three exhausting hours later, I went to bed to wake up to a busy day of cooking for the seder.

DSC_1233However, as Pesach just can’t come without some surprise to brighten up my life, I discovered that the cat has snuck into the house and had her kittens. In my kids’ bunk bed. On top of the clean sheets. I was desperately exhausted and extra laundry was about the last thing I needed, but who can be angry with such cuteness?

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Now that I have gotten back into the swing of crocheting, the days of chol hamoed (the Pesach week) feel a little empty with the prohibition of crafts and drawing. I compensate myself by braiding my daughters’ hair.

The weather is lovely, and I intend to be very, very lazy for the next few days.

Little Princess Angel Wings Pinafore

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Between cleaning and scrubbing, sorting and laundry, I had managed to sneak in some quiet hours with my children at the playground and the library, and made this cute little pinafore dress.

I knew I just had to make it when a similar dress popped up in my Pinterest feed – it was so straightforward I practically saw the pattern just by looking at it. With some variations, the Angel Wings pinafores are all very much alike. With a bit of crochet know-how, you can create endless different models of this lovely dress for the little girls in your life.

Step 1: Create circle. Crochet round and round, enlarging it until, folded in half, the circle is wide enough for the bodice and arm openings.

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Fold in half:

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Bind off the arm openings on both sides. The space between the armholes is the width of the bodice – now would be a good time to get your little one to try on the dress to make sure it is wide enough. If it isn’t, don’t worry – just unbind the armholes and add a few more rows to the circle, making it as large as necessary.

Once you have your desired width and you’ve bound off the armholes, crochet round and round the bodice, working down to the desired length of the dress. You can add more stitches to make the skirt puffy and ruffled. I used the adorable shell stitch.

I worked with crochet hook number 2.5 and a delightful soft and smooth bamboo cotton yarn. It’s wonderfully cool and breathy and will be just the thing for hot weather.

I’m so glad I was able to finish this before Pesach, and just in time for Hadassah’s first birthday – can you believe that it has already been a year?

Sunny days

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It hardly seems fair that the weather should be so enticing when all we seem to do lately is dig into kitchen drawers, refrigerators and closet shelves, and clean, clean, clean.

My husband suggested that we all take a break and make a little day trip to the Kinneret. We now live relatively close to this largest lake of Israel.

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With the latest rains, the Kinneret has reached far beyond its usual borders, almost covering these reeds that grew along what used to be the bank.

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Though the water was too chilly to our liking to dip in, Israel enjoyed a refreshing splash. I think he looks a little like Tarzan in this photo!

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Hadassah, in the meantime, was occupied by some interesting-looking pebbles.

It was such a lovely afternoon that I wish I could have taken about a thousand more pictures to preserve its beauty, but I know it would still not have been enough.

In the meantime, we’re working extra hard in preparation for the Pesach holiday, which takes place next week, and also, in between, trying to subdue the enormous jungle of weeds that sprang up in our garden.

This is the first crop of my husband’s container potatoes – digging for them was a real treasure hunt for the kids:

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Perfect quick playdough

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I will readily admit that, though slime seems to be all the rage now, I find plain old playdough much more appealing. Its texture is more gratifying, in my opinion, and you can do much more with it than just stretch and squish.

This playdough recipe popped up on my Pinterest feed and I knew I just had to try it as it was so simple and quick.

I was not disappointed – the playdough came out delightfully squishy, soft and pliable. Even the older kids (and their mom!) had a blast rolling, shaping and punching it.

The recipe is really the simplest you’ll ever find:

1 part hair conditioner (you had better use the cheapest kind)

2 parts corn or potato starch

Optional: a few drops of food coloring.

In a bowl, mix the starch and hair conditioner until you get a nice soft lump of playdough. Israel loved the squishing and mixing with his hands.

Add a little more cornstarch or conditioner as needed. Knead in the food coloring. That’s it! 

There’s always a mess factor when doing a playdough activity, but in this case it’s really minor. Any stray bits of playdough will dry out and can be easily swept or vacuumed. It doesn’t stick and it smells great!

I hope you enjoy this simple and creative activity with the children in your life.

Basic Lip Balm: two ingredient recipe

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I ran out of lip balm a few cold and windy days ago, and rather than venturing out in this weather, I thought I’d try making my own.

Most lip balm recipes call for beeswax, which I thought I didn’t have on hand, but then I discovered some fragments of a broken beeswax sheet while I was clearing out a drawer (Pesach, here we come! ). Perfect!

Other than the beeswax, the only ingredient you will need is oil – I used olive, but coconut, jojoba or another nourishing oil would work just as well.

The proportions are approximately 1 part beeswax to 6 parts oil. You can decrease the amount of beeswax a little if you live in a cold climate and would like your lip balm to be softer.

Mix the oil and beeswax in a small pot over a very low flame, or better yet, place your small pot into a larger pot filled with boiling water and stir. The beeswax will melt very quickly.

Optional: at this point you can add some essential oils. I added a drop of mint and rosemary for a refreshing herbal scent.

Pour the mixture into containers and allow to set. That’s it! A few minutes of work, and you have a healthy, natural balm that’s great for your lips and other extra dry areas such as elbows and heels. It can even be used as a diaper cream.

PS: in case you are wondering about the hole in the middle of the lip balm jar, I suspect it had set this way because I popped it into the refrigerator to speed up the process.

Along with homemade soap, a cute little jar of this lip balm would make a fantastic gift for whomever you might want to pamper.