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.”

Why I’m probably going to wait before getting a COVID vaccine

Warning: this might be a bit of a controversial post (something I don’t really do anymore these days!)

Like everyone else, I’ve been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. And like everyone else, I’d just love to get my life back.

I don’t think COVID is a hoax. I’m not really into conspiracy theories. I am a very run-of-the-mill person. I vaccinate my kids (with a slightly delayed schedule for newborns).

But I would still rather wait a while before lining up for a COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s why.

In the past months, the world has been pretty much obsessed with the upcoming vaccines and when oh when we can get them, and whether Pfizer’s or Moderna’s is more effective. There’s been a lot of indignation about knowing that there won’t be enough vaccine stock for everyone at once, and a whole lot of arguments about who gets first priority.

There’s been a lot of talk about “emergency approval” (fancy word for cutting corners with trials and testing) and doing it all fast, fast, and FASTER.

The comments from more cautious people saying, “but wait, maybe we need more trials” are pushed to the bottom of talkback lists and the people writing them are labeled as whackos.

The novel vaccines (actually labeled “revolutionary” by their makers) were judged as being “safe to use” with suspicious speed. And there has been talk about making them mandatory.

I doubt anyone will be coming to round us up and tie us to chairs to get us vaccinated. But people who would rather wait a bit before trying a new, only recently tested vaccine might find themselves facing serious limitations in travel, employment, and their children’s education.

When you Google “covid vaccine side effects” you get the typical list of vaccine side effects (swelling, redness, slight fever, etc) but nothing about longer-term possible implications. Why? Because there simply hasn’t been enough time to test them yet. COVID has been with us less than a year.

I’d like to wait at least a year to see some conclusive, nonbiased research on the effects of various COVID vaccines on pregnant women, children, and immunocompromised groups. We’re being told that governments and the WHO have given the green light. They claim it’s safe.

But the thing is, they really, really, REALLY WANT it to be safe.

Governments want to reopen the economy with no limitations. They want to make sure the hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. They want the unemployment rates to go down. They think in global terms.

As an individual, I would rather live another year or two with masks and social distancing than take the risk of an insufficiently tested vaccine. Why do I say “insufficiently”? Because there simply hasn’t been enough time.

Here is one of the few articles I’ve found with a safe, balanced approach towards the COVID vaccine. Neither an “avoid all vaccines like the devil” nor “let me be the first to get it”.

So I’m just going to do something very conservative. Wait and watch. And I know many people around the globe are thinking along the same lines, though we might be a bit of a silent group.