Fresh Pineapple crochet top

DSC_0812

I have finally woken to the reality that, as much as I love the feel of merino and alpaca yarns, I do live in a hot climate and must be practical in my crafts. Thus this summer crochet top in 100% cotton – another creation in the pineapple pattern, done with a 2 mm hook.

Materials used: Two 200gr cotton cakes from Ice Yarns – I estimate I’ve used up about 350 gr, with a bit left over from each cake. I liked the stitch definition, but this yarn does tend to split. I’d love to make another top in this gorgeous yarn.

The method I used is very similar to the one in this detailed YouTube tutorial:

A word to the wise: if you are making adjustments to the pattern, make sure the number of pineapple motifs at the neckline is even. I made an odd number and realized it too late, which resulted in asymmetrical sleeves. I don’t mind this much and was very happy with the top when I wore it last weekend, but if I had been intending to give it as a gift, I would have been self-conscious about this.

The good things in life

DSC_0796

This has been a busy summer, but thankfully, not too busy to appreciate the good things in life. Above: a little moth we were lucky enough to be able to watch transform from a chrysalis before releasing it.

DSC_0798

Our mango tree surprised us with pretty big fruit this year. The previous winter had been rainy, so I guess it needed more water.

DSC_0801

Two pullets of this spring’s hatch. All in all, we have 5 young pullets and 8 cockerels (the latter will not be remaining with us – one roo is quite enough!)

IMG_20200820_132406_776

Quail eggs – as pretty as they are delicious.

Hope everyone is having a good August! I love the sunshine, but could do with less heat.

My transition to a work-from-home mom

If You Dream of Being a Work-at-Home Mom, Here's Everything You ...

I had my first baby over 11 years ago (crazy to think of! Time flies!) and ever since, my life has revolved in a large measure around my children.

Until my fourth child was born, I was mostly “just” a stay-at-home mom. Don’t get me wrong – it’s more than a full-time job! Oh, I did get some bits and pieces from my books and articles, but overall, I was more focused on saving money than making it.

My mindset shifted with a prolonged period of financial distress, during which I realized how vulnerable I really was. I knew I needed to have a source of income, but I also knew I wanted to be with my children. Thus I resolved to work from home. But how to achieve this, when I already felt like every spare moment was taken?

Well, I certainly made some lifestyle changes that enabled me to fit part-time work into my mom schedule. Here’s how.

1. I became a lot more careful with my time. Not that I was ever that frivolous, but I did watch the occasional movie with the kids during the day, and I could spontaneously set aside a couple of hours for a whimsical project like picking acorns for crafts.

Now I’m extremely jealous of every spare minute during the day. I am either with my children or working, and any extras (like outings) are strictly pre-planned. I don’t remember when I last watched a movie and I rarely answer the phone, opting to return calls at my convenience instead.

Does this sound too restrictive? It might be, but this schedule has enabled me to generate an income from home while also going on with writing and publishing my books. I think it’s a worthy tradeoff.

2. I sought the niche that works for me. I tried translation, transcription, and a couple of other things, and eventually got into freelance editing and, more recently, writing. If there’s one advice I’d give anyone, it’s this: don’t force yourself to do something you don’t like, even if it pays well. You’ll get burned out very quickly and won’t last.

3. I diversify and work towards creating a scalable income. I don’t concentrate all my work on one platform, but do some on several for a constant cash flow. I also work directly with authors, helping them edit their books.

Finally, even though it’s not easy, I set aside some time for my own books. In the past couple of years, I have been rewarded with a steady trickle of income from this venue, and I hope it will keep growing (book 5 in my Frozen World sci-fi saga coming soon!).

4. I don’t take low-paying gigs anymore. When you just start out, you may have to accept some less-than-lucrative jobs to get some experience under your belt, but take it from me, you don’t want this to last too long. Keep looking about you and angling up to raise your pay rate.

I currently work about 2-3 hours a day, splitting this time between early in the morning before my kids wake up, and a spell of quiet time I usually get around mid-day. I used to work after the kids have gone to bed, but realized I’m not really productive at that time of the day and it’s better to relax and spend some time getting the house in order before I go to sleep so I’ll have a good start the next day.

I don’t make full-time income yet, but that is my goal. Eventually, I want to be able to provide for my family single-handedly, if needed – like in case my husband loses his job again. It gives tremendous peace of mind knowing you have feasible, flexible options to do that – especially during a full-blown worldwide crisis.

Delicious homemade granola

DSC_0782

Cooked oatmeal is a great, healthy morning food, but sometimes you’re looking for something quicker, or just aren’t in the mood for hot breakfast. In this case, homemade granola might just be the thing for you. 

Most commercial granola brands are ridiculously expensive and loaded with sugar, but it’s easy to make your own, and once you try it, you’ll never look back.

Basically, you will mainly need 2-3 cups whole oats, and you can add various goodies such as:

– Sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds

– Raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricot chunks

– Coconut or almond slivers

Mix everything and add cinnamon, a couple of teaspoonfuls of coconut oil, and your favorite natural sweetener such as honey, date sugar, or maple syrup.

Spread over a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at medium heat, or just until it gets a beautiful golden hue.

Take out of the oven and set out to cool and dry. Keep in a sealed jar.

Enjoy for breakfast or as an any-time-of-the-day treat!

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

DSC_0760

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

Hemp Woman Face Beauty Pinterest Graphic

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.