Monday, April 30, 2012

Children are a Blessing film

I simply had to post another update after watching this uplifting message from a family that has welcomed a tenth child. I was lucky enough to stumble upon this film on about the last day it can be watched for free; I don't know how many of my readers will have time to benefit from this link, but I'm sharing it anyway. 

I realize that this issue is controversial; that lives, circumstances, situations, capabilities are different; that there is infertility, health problems, family issues; that some people really do function better, others worse, in a setting of a large family. But I will always, in a secret place of my heart, wish I had been born to one - although of course, I realize it was all planned and arranged so that my destiny, my calling was to be born and raised an only child. 

And I will always be thankful for belonging to a large family now, through my husband; I am lucky to have brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, people who are welcoming, embracing, and enjoying life, in all its varying circumstances, even its tragedies. Regardless of whether we ourselves ever have more children, or the number of such, my daughters have aunts, uncles and cousins. 

Some families are destined to be small; they can then be embraced by larger, close-knit families. But once a small family unit became an ideal, and a widespread norm, our society fell apart. 

Wonderful Jewish cookbooks



A reader of mine, Rebekah, brought to my attention two wonderful books on Project Gutenberg: The International Jewish Cook Book, by Florence Kreisler Greenbaum (1919), and The Jewish Manual, by Lady Judith Cohen Montefiore (1846). Both books can be read online, or downloaded, for free. I currently have much less computer time than before, but I am looking forward to reading these books bit by bit.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quails

Someone we know had a surplus of quails, so he gave us several young ones. I didn't know about it until I walked out into the yard and saw the improvised shelter my husband set up for them. They are very cute and fluffy-looking, and so far, make only very soft sounds (although I have heard quail males can make loud sounds when calling). I can't tell myself, but we were told we have both males and females there, although the females are still too young to begin laying eggs.

This is our first experience with quails, so I'm reading everything I can get my hands on about their keeping. If any of you have ever had quails, your advice would be most welcome!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Animal friends

 Our lively and affectionate dog, who cured me of a lifelong subtle fear of dogs.
 Some of our chickens. Don't ask me what the breeds are, because I truly have no idea. :-)
A tiny tortoise we found in the yard, resting in the palm of my hand.

Off to enjoy a fine spring's morning; happy Independence Day to all my Israeli readers!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nursery

Here is a bird's nest I discovered on top of my laundry cabinet, when I stood next to it and suddenly heard soft chirping sounds of several baby birds. The nest is built in such a clever way that the little ones are hidden away from sight, but I see the pair of sparrows darting back and forth many times a day, usually carrying some "gift" in the form of insects or bugs, some of them so big I can't help but wonder how an adult bird would manage them, let alone a chick.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Simone France product review

When I was contacted by Simone France and offered to sample their skin care products, I immediately thought, what a great idea; it would, I hoped, be something to prompt me to take regular and thorough care of my skin. I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but some mornings, I can hardly find time for a splash of cold water on my face before I have to run out of the room and prevent two creative toddlers from committing mischief. However, in our climate, and with the fact that many of my household chores take place outside (hanging the washing, tending to the chickens, sweeping the deck, etc), I really do believe I should consider it a necessity to provide adequate care and especially sun protection for the skin. 

So, anyway, the sample kit I received included a moisturizer, a bar of soap, scrub, milk, toner and a package of disposable cleansing cloths (a patent I have been hitherto unfamiliar with), all of which comprised a daily routine of skin cleansing and moisturizing. I have been using them for a week now and can easily see, and feel improvement in my comlexion and the texture of my skin. 

They have also a weekly skin care routine, but I cannot voice my opinion about that one, as it was not included in my sample kit.

One thing I do have to add is that the French Formula moisturizer is great as a night cream, but I have found it a bit too heavy to use as a day cream, so I am now using a light moisturizer by Dr. Fischer with UV protection, which is especially good for Israeli climate.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stockpiling and extra storage space

My husband is the one who drives, so he is also the one who does the shopping as we have no stores within walking distance. Fortunately, he likes this task; he relishes comparing prices, clipping coupons, and is thrilled when, by the simple effort of walking through two stores located side by side, he manages to save money. 

Having said this, I was a little astounded when, at the beginning of our marriage, my husband showed up with thirty-six cans of mushrooms. Just in case you're thinking I exaggerate, that was an exact count. It was a really good deal, he explained, and canned products may last for years without spoiling, so why not? I walked off to free a shelf for the mushrooms, which were soon joined by twenty-something cans of corn, tuna, tomato paste, and such like. Gradually, the canned goods and other non-spoiling products expanded over an entire cupboard. The bathroom cabinets, meanwhile, were stocked with shampoo, soap and toothbrushes to last for years.

At some point I came across the term stockpiling and voila! I had official authorization to feel clever, because we were already doing it. This week, my husband affixed an extra shelf across the top shelf of the stockpile cupboard, utilising space that had been wasted previously. 
Here is part of our stockpile, namely the canned part. We also stock on rice, flour, pasta, toilet paper and other non-perishables. 

What I did and still do sorely feel is the lack of freezer and refrigerator space. We recently acquired a used refrigerator as a free gift, and are still deliberating whether, considering the additional cost of electricity, it would be wise to plug it in, or whether we should find other uses for it. A second refrigerator, and especially a second freezer would be a luxury, but perhaps we should just learn to be more efficient with the one we already have. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Additional commitments

At the end of last summer, a friend with whom I once worked in the hospital called me. She was going to give a series of lectures about healthy nutrition in a school in my neighbourhood, but as it turned out, the distance is too great for her; won't I do it instead?

Go for it, said my husband. Several lectures throughout an entire school year, what can happen? You will have ample time to prepare, and it will be so much fun. As for watching over the girls, you can always offer one of your friends to swap-babysit for them for a couple of hours. And so began my project.

I soon felt that I entered this commitment all too light-headedly. Lecture preparation was easy enough, but there were also reports to write, phone calls back and forth with the school administration and the supervisors, pressure from said supervisors to take on another school - something I'm glad I didn't give in to, despite being asked, because I really found I couldn't spare the time.

Then there was the matter of my entire goal. Did what I do really matter? The children were enthusiastic and I hoped that were learning something, but all in all, I believed that when aiming to improve lifestyle, it is much more natural and effective to work with families, not children alone. I'm not saying speaking directly to children is useless, but ultimately, they are not the ones to decide what and when will be eaten at home.

I was not about to voice my opinions aloud, but I believed, as I still do, that the problem of today's atrocious nutrition habits started with the annihilation of the family table, and the disappearance of the vital tradition of taking meals together at least once a day. I have already written several posts where I voiced my frustration over being unable to switch entirely to organic, home-grown, home-raised, whole-grain, etc - but even simply cooking from scratch from simple basic supermarket products, and sitting down to regular meals would, I am sure, eliminate over half of all the problems people are trying to combat with diet pills and school drills.

As more and more women began to spend less and less time outside the home, naturally, there was less time for home-cooked meals. I know someone here (as it usually happens) will step up and say that it is possible to have two parents working full-time outside the home, and still provide wholesome regular meals. It is possible, but it requires exertion not everyone can be up to. I will go farther and say that after a day spent at work, there might also come sense of entitlement. I just spent nine hours at the office, why should I stand up like some drudge and cook? Let someone else do that for a change.

I'm not saying it always happens, I'm not laying down rules, and I really and truly don't pretend to have all the answers, or even any at all. But this, I hope I may be allowed to say - a mother at home, if the circumstances are favorable, provides the basis for rich, satisfying home life nothing else can make.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring snapshots

 My husband's delicious fish stew, with lots of herbs and hot pepper. 
 Little shoes. 
 And little feet that had only just started walking.
Budding grapes.  
A new chicken coop my husband had built, mostly out of materials he had found. I had meant to take photos of every stage of the process, but shamefully didn't come up to scratch. I have to say I'm really happy we embarked on our chicken adventure. The worth of it is proving far beyond home-grown eggs (though those are delicious and healthy). Two more great advantages of it are, that the children can see and participate in the raising of chickens and collecting eggs, and that we meet many like-minded fowl enthusiasts. Having a coop in your yard also serves as an ice-breaker for new acquaintances. :-)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Post-Pesach update

Dear friends and patient readers,

I am taking the first opportunity to sit down and tell you all that the cleaning is over, and so is the holiday, and that I have survived it all and lived to tell the tale. Barely, though (just joking).

Seriously, however, I must say that this was the most difficult pre-Pesach period I have ever experienced, and that I actually felt emotionally shaken throughout the whole business. Worse, I found myself doing just what I said I shouldn't, mustn't and absolutely wouldn't do, such as scrubbing out bathroom cabinets while I should have been doing other, Pesach-related things.

The very worst part for me, I suppose, was the lack of time for normal everyday things - cooking meals, tending to the children, providing a structured day. For days, I went half-hungry, tired, emotionally and physically exhausted, and wondering how come I'm caught in this circle again. I won't own that it was for any lack of thorough planning or laziness; the fact is, since leavened bread (chametz) is eaten up until at least a week before the holiday, and consequently the everyday (chametz) kitchen utensils used, and the bulk of work is concentrated in the kitchen, there is only so much one can do *beforehand*.

Last night, my husband and I stayed up until midnight packing away all the Pesach dishes and utensils, and I still have part of my everyday utensils to return to the kitchen cabinets. Thus I am happy to say it will be almost a year before we have to go through this again, and hopefully, my poor overwrought, overexhausted frantic brain (I actually scolded my children for "carrying chametz around" right in the middle of the holiday, forgetting that we have long banished all trace of it) soon will be able again to produce something akin to rational thought.

We did, however, have some fun and relaxed during the holiday as well; among other things, we had a couple of dear old friends over for a day (and if you are reading this, here's another opportunity to tell you how much we enjoyed having you around for a few hours, and how much we are looking forward to seeing you again!).

So, once more - yes, I'm alive, reasonably well, and will soon, hopefully, be updating again.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Too much to do, too little time!

This is a picture of tranquillity...

And for the next few days, I will be its exact reverse, for I will be -

cleaning,
scrubbing,
rubbing,
sponging,
wringing,
polishing,
shaking out,
washing,
drying,
organizing,
rearranging,
moving furniture,
sweeping,
mopping,
dusting,
vacuuming,
mucking out the chickens,
and cooking the last few chametz meals!

In short, Pesach is upon us, and the blog is on official hiatus until end of holidays, though don't be surprised if I pop in for an update sometime in between anyway!