When it rains, it pours

From last season

During the previous couple of weeks, we’ve had such lovely sunny weather that I was finally tempted to go out and start planting some things. Yesterday and today, we’ve had a sharp overturn toward torrential rains and howling winds, and now I’m afraid all my poor seeds will be washed out. Reminder to self: never trust the weather at this time of year.

What I’m happy about is having had time to line my chicken coop with a nice, thick layer of dry leaves prior to the rains. I expand on this in my latest Mother Earth News post:

Using dry leaves for chicken coop bedding has numerous advantages:

1. It’s free: just grab a bag and haul all the leaves you want.

2. Leaves are plentiful and readily available

3. It will entertain your chickens: a bag of leaves will always contain tidbits like seeds, grass stalks, bugs, and other edibles your chickens will enjoy unearthing. 

I’m also proud to say that my post about preparing your chicken coop for the spring has made the latest MEN newsletter:

Our chickens pick up the cue of longer days and generally resume laying around February, even though it’s still cold. The young pullets hatched at the end of last season – say, September or October – are generally ready to start laying in February or March.

I can hear some of you laughing hysterically, saying “Cold? You guys don’t know what cold is”. True, we rarely get any snow, but the shorter winter days still affect our egg production. Come spring, I look forward to:

  1. Having all the omelets we want
  2. Raising baby chicks
  3. Planting
  4. Hiking

I’m not looking forward to:

  1. Passover cleaning.
  2. Uh… no. Nothing else. Just the cleaning. 🙂

Stay snug and warm, everyone!

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5 Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas

With most of my days packed full of work, cleaning up messes, breaking up fights, and trying to keep the house in some sort of order, it often happens that 5 p.m. rolls around and I frantically start to ask myself, What’s for dinner?

Now, soup is usually my standby. It’s laughably easy – just toss whatever you have in a pot and let it simmer – but it does take some planning in advance. If I failed to put a pot of soup on the stove during the day and just need something quick, I usually resort to one of these 5 options:

  1. Everything eggs: fried or scrambled, with a few sliced vegetables in half a pita; or our favorite, French toast to use up old bread.
  2. Upgraded leftovers like rice, pasta, etc: this actually also involves eggs. If you toss some stale rice with an egg or two, add salt and spices, and pour the whole into a baking tray, you can get a good, filling meal in 20 minutes.
  3. Oatmeal: with butter and raisins, this can be a delicious dinner as well as breakfast.
  4. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Do I need to say more?
  5. Pasta. While the pasta is cooking, I can assemble a quick sauce from tomato paste, salt, diced garlic, olive oil, and oregano. Grated cheese or a dollop of butter makes it perfect.

21 things I hope to do in 2021

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

2020 was the sort of crazy ride few of us expected, with tosses and turns and deep dives. But now we’re waving goodbye to it, and I thought I’d share a brief list of 21 things I hope to accomplish in 2021. So here goes, in no particular order…

  1. Sleep more. 2020 was a year in which I failed to get enough rest. I overworked, overstressed, and binge watched escapist YouTube videos (New Zealand drone views were one of my favorites). So… let’s start with more than 5 hours of sleep at night.
  2. Read more. I mean for fun. I read for work all the time, but it’s not the same.
  3. Write more (not service pages for Australian plumbers!). I have so many book ideas and so little time.
  4. Eat better. Like sleep, much of healthy simple cooking had gone out of the window in 2020. I need more soup and homemade bread in my life.
  5. Work less. I got some fantastic clients in 2020 and appreciate the constant stream of work, but what I really need is more time off.
  6. Enjoy my children more. Time is so fleeting and I just want us all to have a good hike together, a game of monopoly, a cozy read-aloud, or simply some time to chill. And I want to be able to do that without constantly checking the time.
  7. Declutter. My home would be more manageable with less stuff.
  8. Get crafty. I did some great crochet projects in the past year, but I’d like to expand my horizons and try new things.
  9. Grow more stuff. We’re fast approaching the Sabbatical year in Israel, and I don’t want to miss my chance.
  10. Get into raising quail. We currently have one, after a tragic accident involving a sneaky stray cat. I’d really like to breed these fun little birds.
  11. Make soap again. Just because.
  12. Discover places I have never seen before. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy – a new walking path near town would be great.
  13. Appreciate myself more. This year, it has struck me numerous times that if I had someone in my life who does for me all I do for other people, I’d feel like I have a guardian angel who constantly pampers me!
  14. Stop fearing and roll with the punches. Yes, it’s a crazy world. No, there’s no security. But stressing all the time doesn’t help.
  15. Clean more effectively (so I can spend more time doing things I enjoy).
  16. Exercise.
  17. String a clothesline again (I’m currently using a folding rack).
  18. Hang up a couple of hammocks.
  19. Find ways to earn more money in less time (so I can do all the rest of the things on my list).
  20. Make my bedroom more inviting and cozy. I love my bed more than any other place in the world. 🙂
  21. Reconnect with old friends. Make time. Answer that phone. Return that message. Get together.

What are some things on your wish list for 2021?

Winter Sun crochet beanie

Winter Sun beanie: full of color and texture

Whenever I work on a slow-going crochet project, I inevitably come to a point when I lose my motivation. When this happens, the only way out is to reward myself by doing something quick and satisfying, like this lovely chunky beanie for Hadassah.

It’s reminiscent of my Cozy Cabled crochet beanie and done in the same yarn, Sydney Score Colorful Chunky, but in a different colorway. The cables and brim have a slightly different pattern.

The beanie is worked from the bottom up. I started by doing a brim 10 sc wide, all worked in the back loop for the lovely ribbed texture and extra stretch.

Instructions for a stretchy crochet brim can be found here. A great video tutorial on crochet cabling is here.

Then I joined the brim to form a circle and proceeded to work dc in multiples of 6 – 4 for the cables and 2 for bpdc to make the cables pop out more.

When I reached the desired height, I started to decrease by slip stitching every two stitches together. Finally, I attached the removable pompom.

Material: 150 gr single ply chunky wool. Crochet hook: 4 mm

I’m pleased to say the little recipient was delighted and will hardly take it off 😉

A winter hike

Once the first big rains were over, I knew I just had to climb our nearby forested hill again. But then I’d wait a few days for the mud to settle, and the wet weather would be back.

Finally, today was a perfect day: the rain gone just long enough to leave the ground soft and springy, winter flowers poking out, and every blade of grass supremely fresh.

Honestly, I just love this place so much. I could live here ☺
A cool mossy rock
A perfect combination of sunlight, shade, and greenery

Few things are as satisfying as a good hike. I hope we have time for another one soon!

A belated happy Hanukkah

As we’re fast approaching the end of Hanukkah, now is the last-minute opportunity to make some yummy fried treats guilt free ☺

We like these apple fritters even more than potato latkes and almost more than the deliciously decadent deep fried sufganiyot with an array of sweet fillings.

All you need is:

5 large apples, grated

1/3 cup sugar

2-3 eggs

A dash of cinnamon

1/2 cup flour (approximately)

1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix well and fry spoonfuls of the batter in hot oil on both sides. You want a nice deep golden color, but be careful not to burn them.

Enjoy and happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish readers!

An oasis of sustainability

A thriving little urban garden

It used to be just a tiny synagogue with an empty dirt yard full of construction debris. Until one day I passed and saw that someone has cleared the trash away and began to make rows for planting.

Ever since, I have seen them often. They are a lovely older couple that had taken over this desolate little plot and have made it green and thriving. They have planted greens, herbs, squash, tomatoes, and young trees. And they work there every day without fail.

I’m so grateful to these people. They have shown that no plot is too small to work; every bit of unused urban land can turn into a little island of sustainability. And it doesn’t even have to be your own land.

As Naomi of Bloomah’s City Farm writes,

“Though I live in a regular Beit Shemesh apartment, there are so many budding opportunities for me to farm. I farm on my kitchen windowsill, in my storage room, on my porch, in the yard I’m blessed to have, in my neighbor’s yard, in the open spaces that surround my neighborhood. I don’t need rolling green acres.”