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 😉

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!

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.”

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.

First rainy day

Rain has been a bit late to come this year, but today it fully made up for its tardiness. It poured and poured, and I was overjoyed we had taken the time to enjoy the lovely cooling weather the day before – because today, there was no poking one’s nose out of doors.

Being shut up at home made everyone get crafty. Shira whipped up this little red back warmer for one of our kittens.

Meanwhile, I improvised these cinnamon twists, sorted clothes, pulled coats, boots and umbrellas out of storage, and got the closet shelves ready for the season.

I know that some of my overseas friends are already shoveling snow, but my kids had been running around barefoot up until yesterday.

At some point, I will probably get tired of muddy boots, damp and the indoors, but for now I’m enjoying the change of seasons.

The little yarn shop

Photo by Surene Palvie on Pexels.com

It was a tiny store tucked into the crook of a little side street, with no showy banner or attractive display windows. But if you knew where to go, you’d see bins upon bins of discounted yarn overflowing to the sidewalk, and ladies rummaging in them enthusiastically. On the shelves inside, you would find every yarn you could ever want, from affordable acrylic to luxury cashmere blends.

I had not been there since the coronavirus breakout and ensuing restrictions in March, and I’m not even sure the store is still there. It was not an essential business, so it wouldn’t get permission to operate during lockdowns. It was tiny, with barely any room between the display shelves and the counter, so it wouldn’t allow for social distancing. It was not big or modern enough to have financial reserves or switch to online orders.

I’ve completed many crochet projects since the start of the COVID-19 era, with yarn arriving in convenient, hazard-free packages from eBay or Ice Yarns. But I miss the little warm hub where the proprietor would always be ready to chat about anything related to knitting, crochet, and macrame; where other visitors would sometimes chime in with spontaneous opinions about whatever you were buying; where I would see displays of beautiful fiber art from local artisans.

I have most of the things I need within walking distance, and haven’t been to town in months. And I fear that next time I peek into that little side street, I will see the yarn shop locked up or replaced by another business – perhaps a place selling cheap plastic homeware or cell phones or toiletries – something that would get more of a leeway than a yarn shop to remain open.

I realize that the COVID restrictions are necessary to keep the infection levels down, but I feel that social distancing regulations are killing us as a society. They are knocking down the weak and vulnerable, the poor and the lonely. They prioritize large, soulless convenience stores over small businesses run by real people. They isolate us and deprive us of everything that is so essentially human, like hanging out with friends and spontaneous hugs. That’s a tragedy, and I don’t know how to avert it or whether we can ever turn the wheels back.