Finally, warmer weather

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We’re finally enjoying some fine, warmer and drier weather, and I’m taking advantage of it to clear the yard, plant some seeds, and hang out with our chickens (the wooden bed frame you see in the picture is supposed to be used as part of a fence eventually).

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We’re also being spoiled by lots of beautiful, delicious colorful eggs (collected a great many more since this picture was taken).

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I made another dragonfly crochet pullover. These are so easy and fun to make that I might try another one in toddler size too.

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A beautiful rose. I love the hues. Wish I could plant a bush like that around here.

In between, I’m also getting addicted to this YouTube channel. The unique and beautiful tiny houses are so inspiring. Not sure I’d agree to live full-time in some of those, but as retreats they would be charming. Pop over to have a look if you have some spare time.

Favorite reads

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I know the rains will eventually stop and the sun will poke out. I know we will have nice weather for walking and plenty of the outdoor time and exercise we so desperately crave. I know it… But right now it feels like it will never happen. It’s rainy, cold, dreary, foggy, and so very uninviting to be out that we are forced to stay in – and staying in, around here, means reading.

My children are devourers of books, just like me, and the older ones will read pretty much anything they can lay their hands upon, but there are some books we get back to again and again for family reading. Sometimes I might even indulge in my favorite children’s classics just for myself, regardless of reading to anyone else. A quiet evening, a cup of tea, a warm and cozy blanket and any one of these priceless treasures:

1. Winnie the Pooh – always funny and comforting, compassionate and cozy.

2. Alice in Wonderland – so many famous quotes it seems we almost know it by heart.

3. Pippi Longstocking and other books by Astrid Lindgren.

4. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbitt.

5. Everything by Frances H. Burnett

6. The Narnia books – no need to elaborate.

7. Russian folk tales.

8. Harry Potter – this is something we’ve graduated to fairly recently, and my two eldest are as crazy about these books as I am.

Grab a hot drink, pick a book, and settle down for a good read with us. Stay warm and cozy!

Dragonfly crochet pullover

My first attempt at the dragonfly stitch – a raglan pullover made with Lion Brand’s Wool Ease yarn cake in the Hades colorway, using a 3mm crochet hook, but I imagine it would work up just as nicely with other types of DK yarn.

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I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how economical this yarn is. I got a whole sleeveless pullover for a 9-year-old girl out of less than one yarn cake (and used the remainder to start another in the same pattern – because, having two girls aged 11 and 9, of course when I make something for one, the other wants to have it too).

I used this diagram for the dragonfly stitch. I love diagrams, so for those who are written pattern gals, sorry! But there are also very straightforward YouTube tutorials for this cute stitch.

How to Work from Home (with kids) and Stay Sane

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Last year had been a busy one for me. I have focused on editing fiction for clients, and though I was and am extremely grateful for the constant flow of work that enables me to go on doing my thing without hustling for jobs all the time, working from home comes with its own challenges when you have kids around (like I do).

For the good of everyone, I have had to implement some sanity-saving strategies, which I’m going to share with you now.

1. Be realistic. Although working from home frees you of commute and gives you flexible hours, there is no magic – whether you’re working on your own product or providing services for clients, you will have to put in the hours. How many hours per week can you work? Be real. Are you counting on the hours when the children are asleep in the evening? Or the early morning hours before the house is awake? Make a plan. Obviously, there will be shifts (flexibility is kind of the whole point), but your strategy will be different in the scenario of having 20 hours a week to devote to your business, vs. only having pockets of time that amount up to 4 hours a week.

2. Set limits. As important as it is to define your working hours, it’s equally vital to decide when you are not going to work. You may decide that your weekends are going to be totally free. Or that your afternoons and evenings are going to belong entirely to your children until they go to sleep. When you work from home, it’s easy to let hours and days blur together with no definite limits between work and rest. You don’t want that to happen.

3. Nurture yourself. It can be extremely difficult even if you’re “just” a stay-at-home mom – which is a full-time job in itself! If you’re also building up your own business or freelancing, it can seem next to impossible to carve out time to do things that refresh and rejuvenate you, but it’s so, so important because otherwise, you might wake up one morning and realize that your well has run dry and that you have nothing more to give – to anyone. A walk, time with a friend, a quiet half-hour with a book will do wonders for your emotional wellbeing.

In my case, I make sure to carve out time to work on my own books, not just other people’s. I also set aside some time each day, even if it’s just a short while, to do things like crochet and read for pleasure, or watch a video on something that interests me. Usually, I do it at times when I’m naturally less productive, rather than push my brain to do things it can’t anymore.

The latest bout of sickness the kids have gone through reinforced my outlook on the benefits of working from home. Being there in times of crisis – without having to beg your boss for time off or look for a babysitter for sick little ones – is a huge advantage that outweighs pretty much any other consideration in my eyes. No stranger can adequately care for children when they are not feeling well.

If you are determined to work from home, setting your own schedule and being your own boss, you can do it! With some planning, you will find your balance, and begin to pave your way towards an independent lifestyle.

 

A temporary crisis

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Have I already mentioned this is not my favorite season?

After weeks of cold, rain, mud, being unable to poke our noses outside, and a series of colds, three of my children were finally diagnosed with strep throats and started a course of antibiotics, and now thankfully they are feeling much better.

After that, I did a throat culture as well, but it hasn’t come back yet and I’m so much recovered that even if it turns out I had had strep too, I think taking antibiotics now would kind of miss the point.

Anyway, the frustration of being cooped up has gotten so bad that as soon as the rain stopped this morning, we were out, equipped with coats and rubber boots, to wade through the little stream flowing near our home.

It’s probably the coldest day of the year today, but the days are getting longer and, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping, will soon get warmer. I know the folks shoveling snow up north will think us a bunch of spoiled ninnies, but we’re not used to cold, and Israeli houses generally don’t have effective central heating.

It’s amazing how much better it felt to have been able to spend even a short while outside. I hope for many more opportunities for outdoorsy stuff in the near future.

In the meanwhile, stay snug and warm, and don’t forget to make yourself a cup of cold weather tea – homemade chai masala mix or ginger, cloves and lemon are a synergistic combination.

I’m going to cook a big pot of lentil soup this afternoon. Plenty of onions, potatoes, squash and celery… Mmm… Can almost smell it!

Hope everyone is having a lovely cozy day.

This kind of day

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Yesterday spring was really in the air. We found the first surprise eggs from our pullets in odd corners – you can imagine the thrill (I don’t have a store bought egg to place side by side for comparison, but they are about 2/3 as large and a 100 times tastier).

I made the nesting boxes all comfy and cozy and placed dummy eggs inside.

I planted peas and sweet peas.

I put the yard in order a bit after the recent winds and rain and being unable to poke my nose out. It was great.

Now today we have more rains, a chilling wind, lots of mud, and I’ve caught whatever bug that has been making its way among the kids. Again.

But that’s OK too, as long as I have the comfort of my warm bed, books, yarn, and hot chocolate.

Stay cozy and warm!