Is stability still possible?

financial sustainability

These days, my heart is just breaking. It’s breaking for all the people who have been separated from their families as the skies closed. For all the people who lost their businesses. For the older folks who were active and hardy and kept in good shape, mentally and physically, by going to exercise classes, swimming, and traveling, and are now stuck in their homes, deteriorating by the day and unbearably alone if they have no nuclear family living with them.

It’s heartbreaking that children will have to start school next year burdened with restrictions that are far too heavy for their age, and other children who will be left out without adequate resources for at-home learning.

It seems we are saying a reluctant goodbye to job security, financial security, pension security, any-kind-of-security as stocks are plummeting and pension funds losing value as we speak. I am heartbroken for all the people who lived wisely and made all the right choices, and still find themselves financially (among other ways) vulnerable today.

This was also the core of my latest Mother Earth News post.

“What does this mean? I won’t say anything radical like “money is worthless now” or “ditch the money economy.” I’m a firm believer in personal finances, putting money aside, and planning for the future. 

But I also believe that the coronavirus crisis has shown us that stability, security, and wellbeing depend on much more than money. “

Now is the time to ask ourselves: how self-reliant are we? How prepared are we for another event of extended lockdown and empty store shelves? Do we have barterable skills we can use in lieu of money if the latter loses some of its value? Do we belong to a supportive community of people who can be counted on to help each other out when the you-know-what hits the fan and starts flying in all directions?

Read the rest here.

 

The perfect pizza

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We have harvested our first bunch of tomatoes and put part of them into sauce for this delicious pizza that we had for dinner.

Here are my secrets to a perfect pizza:

1. Don’t let the dough rise too much. You want fluffy bread but pizza should be thin and gooey.

2. Roll out the dough really, really thin.

3. Peel tomatoes easily by dunking them in boiling water for a minute or two.

4. Add plenty of garlic and oregano to the sauce.

5. Be careful not to overbake – the cheese should just bubble and turn slightly golden, not brown.

Enjoy!

 

5 Game-changing laundry hacks

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Laundry is the kind of perennial chore I always try to make more efficient. I have four children and line-dry all our clothes, so you can imagine I always have a load either to hang, fold, or put away. Still, with a few handy hacks, I keep my laundry basket from overflowing.

1. Baby wipes for small stains.

Many stains will disappear miraculously if you treat them quickly by rubbing a baby wipe over them. I know there are wipes made specifically for this purpose, but I have found baby wipes to be quite efficient – and much cheaper.

2. Air rather than wash.

At the end of the day, if the clothes I’m wearing are not exactly dirty but could use freshening up, I will often hang them up on the line (not over the back of a chair). Often, a bit of time in the sunshine and breeze will leave the clothes crisp and fresh as if they had actually been washed.

3. Use vinegar.

In lieu of fabric softener, combined with water to soak particularly smelly clothes, or with baking soda to clean your washing machine.

4. Pre-treat sweat stains with shampoo.

Works a treat on those pesky underarm areas and soiled collars. A paste made of baking soda and vinegar is another treatment option.

5. Pre-sort the laundry by having two different hampers.

I thought everybody does that, but was surprised to find out that some people have one big hamper for everything and sort right before washing. It’s a lot less hassle to keep darks and lights separated in the first place.

 

 

I’m glad I got to live in the world that was

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I love digital technology. I love having all the information in the world at my fingertips. I love how social media enables me to connect with people all over the globe. I love the explosion of gorgeous drone videos on YouTube, through which I can get a bird’s eye view of every corner of the world, from Alaska to Tasmania. And I love the amazing remote work opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible (or at least so convenient) without Google Docs, Skype, and PayPal.

Nevertheless, I’m glad I was born and got to live part of my life in a period when the world seemed to spin more slowly.

A world where you had to learn to use encyclopedia and dictionary indexes if you wanted to obtain information.

A world where you could miss a call and you never knew who called because there was no digital display of the caller’s number.

A world where you would take a photo without immediately being able to view it on a digital screen. You’d have to go to have your vacation photos developed in a photographer’s shop, and there were always some surprises (for better or worse).

A world where you actually still got to receive handwritten letters with beautiful stamps – I do feel lucky to still be in touch with people with whom I started to correspond before email was a thing.

A world where, if you wanted to buy something, you’d either have to visit or call stores in your area, or browse through mail order catalogs (remember those?!)

A world where you couldn’t listen to whatever song you wanted, whenever, wherever on YouTube – if a song you loved was playing on the radio, you’d stop and listen, and maybe hurry to record it on a cassette.

Being Orthodox Jewish, I still get to experience this simpler, unhurried, not-so-distant-past world every week. From the time candles are lit on Friday afternoon and until Saturday night, we look up words in a physical dictionary, knock on a neighbor’s door rather than text, and have no way to tell the time if we happen to go out without a wristwatch.

This weekly digital detox is so healing that I honestly believe everyone needs periodic unplugging in their lives.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you miss the most from the pre-internet world?

Crocheting through tough times

Lately, I have found myself putting things off: a visit to the bank, the doctor, the post office… “I don’t have to do it today. There’s time. Maybe in a week or two…”

Then I caught myself: why? What is going to happen in a week or two? Will the coronavirus go away? Will it be safer to go out and about?

Not likely. The you-know-what has hit the fan and is now flying in all directions. I’m afraid the world as we used to know it is no more.

A few days ago, we had a huge local demonstration of small business owners – restaurant owners, tour guides, dance instructors – who were all hit hard by COVID and now demand that the government gives them a financial boost to keep their businesses afloat.

I understand their plight, I really do. I know what it’s like to be financially desperate. However, I believe that no amount of handouts will enable businesses to operate if they don’t adapt to the new situation (Zoom lessons, takeout instead of sit-down meals, etc). And it often sounds like that: people don’t want to adapt. They want things to go back to normal, refusing to admit that normal has flown out of the window.

Even if we are lucky and the coronavirus disappears (which doesn’t seem likely), the impact of the past months has already hurled the world into a deep recession with a wide ripple effect. To get through it, we must be resilient, resourceful, and flexible.

In the meantime, there’s yarn: the best escape whenever things are stressful.

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My latest make, a little crochet tunic for Hadassah. It was meant to be a dress, but I ran out of yarn and, as it was one of the oddments of a vintage stash, had no way to buy more.

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Nevertheless, I like it, and so does the recipient. I put some vintage buttons at the back. Love the open raglan top – such a useful design.

I hope you are all using your favorite wholesome destressing outlet, whether it involves gardening, fabric and yarn, baking, or any other thing you can do away from dangerous crowds.

Power Outage

Today I got an early start in the morning and was sitting in peace and quiet in front of my laptop, working on a project for a client, when the power suddenly went out. Since I have a problem with my laptop battery that I didn’t make a priority to fix, the screen instantly went black, not allowing me to save my work.

A call to the electric company let me know that there was an unexpected accident and the power supply would return in 3-4 hours. Thoroughly bummed out, I went ahead to straighten up the kitchen in preparation for breakfast. 

The power eventually returned and I completed my project and sent it off, but this was a throwback to the good ‘ol days when we lived in a place where this could happen any moment, and for much longer. I remember 72 hours without power, during which we did our best to eat everything that spoils and I was careful not to open my freezer so that it wouldn’t thaw.

I love living in a place with a steady electricity supply, but today’s incident reminded me how much we have to improve in preparing for emergencies.

In our old home, we took care to keep our mobile phone power banks charged and our freezer always stocked with ice bottles so that it would thaw more slowly. A laptop battery would most certainly be fixed earlier. There was a communal backup generator we could fuel and hook up to if need be.

And, from electricity my thoughts jumped to preparedness in general, which is something we really should gear up for again. A life of convenience lulls you into a sense of security which may, unfortunately, be false, as the covid-19 pandemic showed us all, turning our world upside down and giving it a thorough shake that totally messed it up.

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From Your Own Hands: Self-Reliant Projects for Independent Living

A radical homesteader from Connecticut who prefers to call himself Xero says, “Consumerism to a large degree only exists because it profits off of our own loss of skills. Over the last hundred or so years people have undergone what I see as a horrifying loss of survival skills.

Without these skills, without the ability to survive on one’s own, one must depend on already manufactured, and continuously manufactured goods and services to stay alive. These goods and services cost money. In order to get said money, one must submit to paid labor. Sometimes one can find labor that is fun and fulfilling, but that doesn’t represent the majority of folks, especially on a global scale.” 

Another day, another basket

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I made another little rustic jute basket, much along the lines of my previous one. It seems perfect as a nest for my kids’ dinosaur collection.

It was meant to be oval but sort of came out round anyway – I guess I didn’t make the base chain long enough.

As much as I love the rustic look of jute baskets (and the fact that the material is inexpensive – I picked the roll up at the hardware store for about $2), I think I won’t be making another one anytime soon, as working with it is pretty heavy on the hands. Jute chafs the fingers, and I had to really pull on the thread to make the loops – no smooth gliding yarn action here!

I made the top row in a double strand of leftover coarse yarn of unknown origin. 😉

I hope you are all enjoying a happy and crafty summer.