The art of affordable living

I often think that the most helpful thing for staying financially afloat is not cutting a few dollars here and there – not clipping some coupons, or saving on electricity, or squeezing out the last bit of toothpaste – but what I call the art of affordable living; an attitude that helps countless people with moderate to low incomes live well and stay out of debt.

It’s genuinely preferring a nature walk to a shopping mall; homemade gifts to the latest order from Amazon; restored old furniture to an IKEA assembly; a quiet get-together on the beach with a few friends to a glitzy event. It’s the satisfaction of being able to step back and say, “I don’t really need that much.”

It has always amazed me, during our house moves, how well the family has coped with 90% of the clothes and utensils packed away for weeks. 10% of our belongings were quite enough to keep us dressed, fed, and entertained. There were moments, while I unpacked, when I wished I could just chuck some boxes away unopened (don’t worry, I never did that. I love my books, yarn, and fluffy pajamas too much).

At this time, I also feel that the habits of simplicity are serving me and my family amazingly well. Lockdowns, restrictions, green passes, and the rest of the paraphernalia the past two years have brought are a lot easier to take when your happiness doesn’t hinge on eating out, going to live shows, or staying in hotels.

I’ll just finish with a great quote from here:

“Living a simple life means there is no need to chase the extra buck. You don’t need the cash to buy the bigger living space to put all your stuff in that you would need more money to buy. Instead, you see that you can live on less and get rid of stuff to create more space.”

COVID and Food Security

After a rather lengthier silence than I had planned, I have a new post up on Mother Earth News. Like some of my previous posts, this one, too, explores food security in the pandemic era.

“Most authoritative sources agree: food prices are rising, and the trend isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. Many of the reasons have to do with the pandemic in some way or other, including production and supply chain disruptions, increased shipping costs, and the dollar’s deprecation.”

Key insights from the post:

~ In years to come, we will likely pay for our convenience in outsourcing most of our food production

~ Prices are only going to climb higher and higher in the foreseeable future

~ The next months and years will try our resilience and ability to get by on less and less

I know that if someone had told me two years ago, “you’ll walk into a grocery store two years later and you’ll see such and such prices on fruit, vegetables, and basic staples”, I’d probably think it was a joke. Filling a supermarket cart is turning more and more expensive.

There is no better time than now to learn sustainability skills, stockpile, grow some of your own food, and explore still-affordable meal options. To make and mend clothes and furniture, swap goods, and develop strong community ties that make every crisis easier.

The perfect escape

We have lived through a hellish week and a half, with everyone sick and me having just enough energy to feed the poultry, make tea, and make sure everyone has their antibiotics.

After this nightmare, yesterday I realized there’s no more perfect opportunity than now for a little escape trip to the beach.

Perfection, every time

We arrived in the late afternoon, my favorite time of the day, and stayed until sunset. The sky was still red when we caught the train home.

Love it.

I always kind of wish we lived closer to the beach, but then maybe it wouldn’t be as special.

I sure hope we won’t be as sick again this summer – or, ideally, ever.

Is working from home really better for the family?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Some days, honestly, I doubt the answer.

As a mom to a bunch of young kids, working from home gives me the benefits of no commute, a flexible schedule, and the ability to work in my pyjamas at the kitchen table.

It also means, however, that I often find myself working a whacko schedule of late nights followed by early mornings and the occasional hour in the afternoon.

Whenever someone is awake, forget about productivity: distractions can propel me into making ridiculous mistakes like using info for Orange County, NC, instead of Orange County, California (true story!).

I’m always there, but I’m also not really “there”, because my eyes are glued to my laptop screen. And when the time comes to close the laptop for the day, I find it hard to disengage.

Here’s a dirty secret: when you work from home, many people consider it not working at all, even if you make pretty good money (Covid and the lockdowns changed this cultural assumption somewhat). As such, family members expect you to be always available for a phone call or a quick errand during the day and don’t understand what you mean by “busy”.

There are days when the lure of walking out of the door for a set number of hours, then coming back home to really BE at home, is almost overwhelming. Then a kid gets sick or I make a trip somewhere and see the traffic, and think that my choice of being a home-based freelance writer makes sense after all.

The ideal solution for me would probably be a designated home office (and a whole lot of help with little ones!). Until that is in the making, I’ll make do with what I have.

Five things you gain when you simplify

Simplifying can mean many different things to different people. For me, it’s paring down your life to get rid of clutter in all areas: closets, schedules, relationships.

Simplicity is the freedom of being able to smile, say “no thanks”, and walk away without being riddled with guilt or feeling you’re missing out on something.

Here are five things I enjoy thanks to simplicity:

  1. More time. Fewer engagements and less stuff mean you don’t have to spend as much time managing the administrative side of life.
  2. More money. Simplifying often means buying less, traveling less, and opting for fewer paid activities. Which allows you to save your money for what matters!
  3. More creativity. Slowing down helps think outside the box. For example, during the strictest covid lockdowns, we discovered lovely spots we’ve never visited before within walking distance.
  4. Deeper engagement. If you put your phone aside and don’t look at the time for a bit, you can really be present in the moment.
  5. Stronger relationships. For me, simplicity means spending time with people you truly care about and elegantly opting out of superficial relationships.

I’m sure I can think of more, but these are the main points. What is simplicity for you?

Pink Clouds crochet dress

Latest creation

One of the fun things about having girls is the endless possibilities of beautiful crochet projects. Dolls and doll clothes, feminine tops, fancy boleros, whimsical little bags… And, of course, beautiful lacy summer dresses!

For this one, I picked a basic open back raglan for the upper part and a beautiful skirt design by Anastasia Krechetova. Yarn: Summer by Ice Yarns.

Semi-war going on. Missiles falling. Bomb shelters being readied for occupation. But what the heck? Crochet is compact, fits anywhere, and is cheaper than therapy.

A spring woodland hike

After we all worked our butts off in preparation for Pesach, here’s the reward.

Jezreel Valley is beautiful at this time of the year – especially after the earth has been soaked by some generous spring rains that washed away the aftermath of a horrible dust storm.

A super cool collection of beetles.
Flowers in a hidden nook.
A rock overgrown with moss.
A captivating view.
And a trail you just want to follow forever and ever.

The hard work is over. Woo-hoo! Time to relax and have fun.