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.

The crumbliest cookies ever

Oatmeal or tahini cookies are great when you are feeling health-conscious and want to make sure your teatime treat contains plenty of fiber and minerals.

But sometimes you just want a tender, melt in the mouth crumbly cookie for the perfect comfort.

These cookies are just the thing: utilizing plenty of high-quality coconut oil and following the classic shortbread 3-2-1 formula, they’ll surprise you with their luxurious texture.

No eggs or leavening needed – great for this period when most hens go off laying.

Take:

3 cups plain white flour

2 cups cold pressed coconut oil

1 cup sugar – better use confectioner’s sugar for extra silky texture.

Optional: flavor with grated aniseed (as in the picture), lemon or orange peel, or ginger.

Mix all dry ingredients. Melt coconut oil and add to the mixture.

Gently work the dough into a crumbly texture and form round shapes or fingers on a baking tray.

Pop into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges just turn golden. Don’t overbake.

Enjoy with a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.

Our favorite rainy-day pastimes

Today, we spent the whole days indoors to the sounds of pelting rain and hail, only to climb up to the balcony in the afternoon and be rewarded by all this brilliancy – trees and rooftops freshly washed, clouds dispersing, and a glimmer of afternoon sunshine showing through.

I thought I’d share some of our favorite ways to cozy up on a too-cold, too-wet, too-windy, indoors-y day.

  1. Curl up with a book. If you know me even a little, you have probably guessed that would be a top favorite. Whether it’s a new treasure from the library or an old friend from the bookshelf, a book is always a win on a rainy day.
  2. Brew a cup of tea. Cold, rainy weather is perfect for warming teas. My favorite combos are cinnamon-cloves-nutmeg or ginger-lemon-aniseed.
  3. Pull out a board game or puzzle. We used to do that a lot by candlelight in our old home, where electricity during thunderstorms was more a pleasant surprise than something you can count on. Which brings me to…
  4. Light candles. There’s nothing like candles to brighten up a gloomy, dark day.
  5. Watch a movie or a favorite YouTube channel. I’m not a fan of too much screen time, but I do love to make dinner early and then free up an hour or two for a movie and snacks.
  6. Do crafts: my go-to is crochet, but anything goes – drawing or painting, gluing or making playdough, or going all out with modeling clay.
  7. Bake: can you think of a more perfect combo than a tray of cookies or homemade rolls, hot from the oven, and a rainstorm raging outside?
  8. Take a hot shower: now blessed to be living in an area where we can actually turn up the water heater without fearing a power outage, I love to hop into a hot shower, then into a pair of cozy pajamas, and then straight to bed.

I hope you are all enjoying the colder season – unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, of course, in which case you might be shopping for flip-flops and sunscreen while the rest of us huddle under quilts and hunt through the drawer for warm socks.