Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I think there's just something so wonderfully old-fashioned and homey about a teapot bubbling on the stove, brewing herbs from our garden. In my eyes, it symbolizes slowing down to have some quiet time together, and what's more precious than that? Since it's made entirely of glass it's possible to see the whole process, which adds interest for the children (though it's definitely necessary to watch out for little hands reaching for the teapot).
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
In the last issue, there was an article that struck a chord with me. It was a story written by a woman named Deborah Garner, who told about her journey from living mainly on junk food to a healthy vegan diet. Even if, like me, you have never been prone to overeating and have always been naturally lean, you will find her story deeply moving.
I believe that good, healthy, wholesome food, eaten in the right proportions and enjoyed around the family table, is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Do you remember that scene in Narnia, when the witch gives Edmund Turkish Delight, which makes him unable to enjoy good simple food? I often feel as though most modern food, preservative-laden, processed and packaged, has just the same function. It lacks warmth and personality, but when you get used to it it's difficult to go back to home-cooked meals.
Fortunately for me, I grew up in a family that put a great emphasis on home cooking and healthy eating, and even on fun extras such as baking and jam-making. Remember our etrog from a few posts ago? This year, I decided not to let it shrivel up. I collected the etrogim left over after Sukkot, and attempted to make jam out of them. Unfortunately I was not very successful at making jam, because it appears I should have added more liquid, but I did end up with some candied fruit my husband liked.
I could talk on and on about simple living and the part home-cooked food plays in it, but right now it's time to log off so I hope to continue another day. I wish you a most wonderful weekend.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Not long ago, after weeks of trial and error, finally mastered the art of crawling; within a few short days, she made the transition to increased mobility and is now literally all over the place. Now we have to be extra careful and keep an eye on our love bug at all times, because despite having many lovely toys, for some reason she is more attracted to things like electric cables and house plants.
I love watching her grow. I know that no matter what happens, I will never regret the time spent at home with her, watching all those adorable firsts and rejoicing with every one. What can be more important in setting a foundation for future life and its relationship than those first few months and years of a child's life?
Not long ago, someone we know died, leaving a widow with two small children and another one on the way. He was young and healthy, and it was a sudden, unexpected tragedy. While I think he provided well enough for the family (cannot be sure, because I was not very close to them), his wife has quite a prestigious job of her own, but although you could look at it and think, "at least she has something to fall back on, it will be easy for her to support her children", it's also possible to look at it in another way: she could have spent more time with her family before, and now it will be harder for her to do, financially - even though this is a time when her children will need her the most. But of course nothing is impossible for God, and lives can be turned in a most unexpected way.
The time with our families is so precious. Lives are turbulent and unpredictable, circumstances change, we lose loved ones long before we think it's time to make amends and say goodbye. Therefore, every day is a gift, to be lived and enjoyed to the fullest.
At home, I have sweet little cheeks to kiss, and songs to sing, baths to give and discoveries to make with my most darling little one. Each day, I am blessed.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I'm a big proponent of modesty; as a matter of fact, realising the necessity of adopting modest dress and chaste behavior has served me as a jumping board into observing the laws of Orthodox Judaism, which completely changed my life - and I will be eternally grateful for that. I wear long skirts and cover my hair, I wouldn't show anything above my elbow or below my collarbone and I do so happily, but sometimes I feel we are too defined by our outward appearances.
Last , I came across a leaflet that technically talked about the importance of what I already practice - full hair covering, particularly with head scarves, and modest dress in general. Supposedly I was meant to feel good about myself after reading it, but in fact I felt like wanting to dissociate myself as much as possible from the group of women who wrote that leaflet. Perhaps it was because they resorted to bashing women who cover their hair with wigs rather than head scarves or hats. Perhaps it was the implication that a woman's righteousness is gained by modesty alone, while omitting the merits of reaching out to others and sincere prayer. Perhaps it was their self-righteous tone in general. But in any case, I put away the leaflet shaking my head and thinking, "no - I am not one of them!"
Modesty does not need to be associated with martyrdom or being shut away from society. I've read books which actually claim that the righteous woman should leave the four walls of her home as little as possible, not even to participate in public prayer, and point to virtuous women who only left their house once in two weeks. Publishing and promoting such writings seems sinister and unhealthy to me. Shutting women out of society and spiritual life is not "modest", it's plain sick.
Modesty is not meant to be excessively restrictive, as to interfere with the normal course of life; modesty is not meant to make women feel ugly or dirty or sinful. Modesty is a woman's crown, and I believe the Almighty rejoices every time a woman chooses to cover her hair, but who are we to look at anyone disdainfully for not complying with certain standards?
When I'm in a group of other religious women, I often feel that my skirt, sleeves and hair covering are being mentally measured and evaluated the second I enter the room, and the next second I'm categorized and classified. I can't stand that. I think that if we believe in a certain type of modest dress, the best way to promote it is simply to wear it in a dignified and graceful way. A quiet, gentle, modest spirit can reach out so much further than a holier-than-thou attitude.
Modesty is closely interrelated with humility. I think that was what bothered me most about that leaflet I mentioned earlier. It implied that women who dress modestly should "teach" those who don't. While my skirts and sleeves might be longer than of many women I know, I don't feel this automatically makes me qualified to be their spiritual guide or mentor. The better path, I think, would be to just live a gentle, faith-centered life, without dwelling on what others are doing. I am endlessly far from perfect, after all. I am just learning along the way.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
A nest in the brambles. I haven't seen the bird who had built it, but it sure looks snug!
... The Autumn holidays are over, and it's time to roll up the sleeves and get some good hard post-holiday work done. There's cleaning, and plenty of washing and mending, and using up or storing away all those leftovers that can be later stretched into a few good meals or lots of snacks.
There are winter clothes to sort and air out, and a sukkah to fold and store away until next year. There's clutter to get rid of, and baking to be done, and I mean to try and get to my crochet hook again after a long break, to finish an almost-completed project.
To put it simply, there's a lot to be busy with here at home, and that's just how I love it. Working with my hands and resting in spirit, knowing I am just where I'm meant to be.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I spent most of the two days before cleaning and cooking. At the end of yesterday, I was tired but happy as everyone told me what a great time they had before leaving. You really don't need to do anything too fancy - good simple food and generous hospitality go a lot way.
Chocolate coconut cake batter, ready to be poured into the baking pan and popped into the oven.
Sukkot is nearly over, and it was a great holiday. Looking forward to Hanukkah!
Monday, October 5, 2009
I hope all you Jews out there are having a very happy Sukkot. We are preparing to host quite a lot of people here in a couple of days, so I'd better get busy!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Take 5-7 potatoes and slice them. You don't have to peel them. I like them with the peel.
Drizzle salt, pepper, spices, 3 tablespoons of chili sauce and 4 tablespoons of olive oil over the potatoes. Mix well.
In the original recipe it says to also mix the potatoes with 3 tablespoons of honey but I chose to omit that and it was really good.
Bake until soft. Enjoy.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I hope all my Jewish readers and friends have a wonderful holiday.