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.

Cropped crochet cardigan

Basic stitches, light and cozy cardi

I’ve been wanting a cropped cardigan for a while now, so decided to make this my last winter crochet project for this season. Basic top down raglan with a subtle puff stitch border.

I usually prefer working with natural fibers, but this time the metallic sheen of Surong yarn tempted me. I can’t say I was too excited about this yarn. It just didn’t feel as nice as merino, alpaca, or cotton, but I’m still pretty pleased with the result.

Now onwards to summer crochet! Cotton, bamboo, and linen yarns, here I come.

Crochet kid hoodie in the Alpine stitch

Alpine stitch hoodie. Took forever but so worth it.

Some crochet projects go fast. Others seem to take forever, growing at a snail’s pace. This cozy kid hoodie definitely belongs to the latter category, but I still loved working on it.

I wanted a pullover that wouldn’t be too bulky and hot, and I wanted a natural fiber blend. I ordered Baby Alpaca Merino Cotton from Ice Yarns, not realizing just HOW thin it was. I had counted on DK weight, but got something more like thick thread. To make up for that, I chose the Alpine stitch, which gives a dense texture.

I love the result. The pullover is not too thick and has a nice drape, but it literally took forever. I had to work on some other projects in between to break up the monotony.

I used my favorite technique, top down open raglan, and then added a hood once I saw I have enough yarn. In total, I used 400 gr of yarn and a 2mm hook.

I had intended this sweater for Israel (6), but his younger sister (soon 3) claimed it. ☺ Guess they are going to share.

Now on to new projects! I can think of no better therapy with the latest lockdown.

One valuable lesson I hope my children learn

Flower growing in a rock crevice: blooming in hard circumstances

I started my married life with a mortgage-free home, a husband who had a nice, stable job, and a great deal of optimism bordering on self-assurance. I mean… things were looking so great, so why would anything ever go wrong, right?

Then, for almost a full decade, I had done my best to ride out one financial crisis until another, facing the loss of the income and the house that had seemed so secure. Having chosen a remote lifestyle, I had very limited employment opportunities, a bunch of kids, no reliable transportation, and no steady internet connection. So my only available strategy was, tighten that belt… and tighten it more… until it nearly suffocated me.

I believe my great epiphany came at the moment when I was scouring the corners of my freezer for the last bit of flour to make one last loaf of bread. I was feeling utterly helpless, vulnerable, and desperate.

And I realized I don’t ever want to feel this way again. Never. Never.

Today, I am lucky enough to live in improved circumstances and enjoy wider opportunities. I’m in a safe, settled place and am successfully employed in writing and editing. But often, it still feels as though I first shot myself in the foot and then spent years trying to repair the damage.

In a few years, my older children will be starting on the road to adulthood. It’s a sobering thought; they’ll get to make their own choices – and their own mistakes. And if there’s one message I hope to convey to my kids while they are growing, it’s this:

“Don’t be afraid to envision a bright future in which all your dreams come true, but also make a Plan B in case the you-know-what hits the fan. Believe me, you don’t want to burn all your boats and then discover you’re stuck on an island.”

Though nobody like to think of unpleasant things, it’s wise to think of how you’d handle sickness, prolonged unemployment, or the breakup of your marriage. This does happen, and it’s important to have an emergency fund and employment opportunities on the back burner.

I love attachment parenting and will never regret the years when I was “just” Mom, not a freelancer juggling an intense work-from-home situation. But I’ll never forget the panicky feeling of “I need to make an income and I freakin’ don’t know how, and I’m afraid this ship is going to sink if something doesn’t change soon.”

A few years ago, a building contractor in our community, a young and healthy man, fell down from a ladder to his sudden and tragic death, leaving behind a widow and six children. The widow was devastated, but at least her established high-tech job enabled her to keep providing for her kids. Things were horrible for that family, but they could have been so, so much worse if the mom had had no education or employment opportunities.

Be safe. Protect yourself. “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” had never gone wrong yet.

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.

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 😉