Monday, September 24, 2012

To be forgiven

Now that we are approaching Yom Kippur, it is a comfort and a relief to know that forgiveness can be given.

For things we did,

and for things we didn't do.

For things we said,

and for words unspoken.

For mistakes which, we might believe at some moment, rendered everything broken beyond repair.

For offenses given with or without meaning, for harsh feelings, for pettiness, for stubbornness.

For the refusal to see through eyes of another.

As we travel down this long and winding road, how good it is to know that we can be forgiven. 



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Still down

Just as the stomach bug was over and I thought we were back to normal, I found myself with a high fever and sore throat - and, needless to say, illness isn't a very successful combination with busy holiday times. Still, today I was up and about, doing what little I can in a slow-paced way to avoid getting us buried under piles of unwashed dishes and laundry. I also poked my nose into the yard today, to water the plants and feed the animals.

I used to be so fond of this little chicken, and then, unfortunately, she fell prey to a sneaking fox. You can imagine how thrilled I was when the only chick we managed to get from her turned out to be a female, and looks very much like her mother.

Hopefully, when she reaches maturity we can breed her with our fluffy rooster and produce more cute chickens like that.

I sincerely hope the illness is banished completely by the time Yom Kippur rolls around. Wishing you all a terrific week!

Mrs. T

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Past Rosh Ha-Shana

Well, Rosh Ha-Shana is over, and we are slowly resurfacing... only to prepare for Shabbat, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. It was the first Rosh-HaShana we spent at home, and we were thoroughly excited about it. We did come down with a rather nasty stomach virus that is still making its way around, but all the more reason to be pleased for staying home - such things are better to deal with on your own territory.

 Here's some of the cooking we did before the holiday. Above: fried fish, made by my husband. Isn't it lovely to have a husband who likes to cook? Below: a pot of Rosh HaShana symbols - special foods representing various blessings for the upcoming year.
This is probably my first and last update for this week, but hopefully, I will be back next week. There are so many things around here just waiting for me to get well and pick up the slack! In the meantime, wishing a wonderful weekend to you all.

Mrs. T

Thursday, September 13, 2012

At the door of a new year

As this is probably my last post before Rosh-HaShana, I would like to take the opportunity to wish all my Jewish readers a happy and prosperous new year. Around here, I am busy cooking away and freezing dishes for the holiday. Today, I made baked salmon following my husband's excellent recipe. Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to take a photo, but I'm sharing the recipe here.

Take:

1 onion, sliced
1 squash, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced into thin striped
1 head of garlic, taken apart into whole, peeled cloves

4-6 slices of salmon filet (around 1 kg)

Place onion in baking pan, and put the salmon filets on top of it. Arrange squash slices, pepper and garlic around the fish, and prepare the sauce:

1\2 cup chili sauce
1 tablespoonful honey
4 tbsp. water
1 teaspoonful of dried oregano
A pinch of rosemary leaves - I use fresh from our garden
A pinch of salt
Fresh hot pepper, very finely diced, to taste
1 tsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. tomato paste

Mix into smooth sauce and spread over the salmon and vegetables. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for approx. 40 minutes at medium heat.


* Illustration photo from Lose Weight Feel Great

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A little dollie

I made this little dollie for the girls by drawing a very simple outline, twice, then sewing both parts together and putting in stuffing. The project was made by hand so it took some time, but on the plus side, I could work on it at my leisure anytime, anywhere.We also found, among our supply of dolls' clothes, a little dress to fit her. The eyes and mouth are embroidered. I drew my inspiration from Little Jenny Wren, although I do not presume to be anywhere close to the level of her mastery. 

We continue on our busy way here; soon, we are going to dive into the High Holidays, starting with Rosh Ha-Shana next week. There's a lot of work to do, and bustle, and much creativity, some of which I'm hoping to share with you here!

In the meantime, I'm wishing you all a wonderful week.

Mrs. T

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Losing myself

For a few days, I have experienced unexpected internet-deprivation, due to a dysfunctional laptop. You won't believe how many projects get pulled out when you don't have the distraction of a computer! Anyway, now I'm back, and in a flurry of preparing for the High Holidays.

I thought I would share with you part of an email I received from a reader named Elizabeth. I am, of course, posting it with her permission.

"After reading some posts from your blog, and some other blogs and websites you link to, I just can't help thinking about this... I currently have two little children, and I can tell you I feel like I'm losing myself. I know I'm their mother and that it's a tremendously important job, but it has no individuality. Not for them - my children are wonderful individuals - for me. I just do what every Mom does. I clean, I dress, I bathe, I wipe noses, I do projects with them, I discipline them... each and every one of their waking hours. What about me? 

I have considerable talents (I don't want to sound boastful, but I really believe I do) for other things, but I can't do any of them - even a job done from home would be too demanding, with my children at home. I am not a feminist; on the contrary, I also relish my abilities to be a very clean, organized woman; a good cook; a good gardener - but these abilities don't come into view either, because I don't have time to clean or cook or garden properly!

It's just a stage, I gathered from some of your post. But you know what the problem is? If following the ideology you and some other bloggers promote, it is a LONG stage. The period of raising little children is very intense and draining. If I follow the standard two-children route, as common today, this stage lasts, in all, perhaps 5 years?.. But If I keep having children from my early twenties and until my fertility is done, this stage will last more like 25 years! I might be 45 years old and still breastfeeding, changing diapers, and preparing baby food, and the best part of my life will be done! 

Is it really justified to demand that from every woman, in any circumstances?"

Here is part of what I wrote back:

Dear Elizabeth,

As I'm not a mother of a large family, but of only two children, like you, perhaps I'm not the right person to answer this, but I will try to do my best to sum up some thoughts I have on the subject. First, I am far from disregarding any fears or frustrations you have; raising children and homemaking is a demanding job, and sometimes it does seem as though we disappear between the pots and loads of laundry and diapers and broken crayons. I do feel, at times, that I'm losing myself, too; but I've learned that it's OK to lose, in some measure, the old me - the young, single me, who used to have all her time to herself, and only her own needs to consider. 

I do find it necessary and refreshing to do things that are unrelated to my primary duties as wife and mother; to remind myself that I'm not just Mom. Writing is my main outlet, but there are also crafts, reading, talking to friends, researching topics I am interested in, learning languages. With some creativity, it is possible to do things during times when children are asleep, or play quietly by your side, that will leave you refreshed and satisfied. Of course it's easier if some of your interests overlap with your duties of a wife and mother - for instance, gourmet cooking, home decoration, knitting or sewing. 

I'm not sure how old you are, but if you are near my age, I can imagine 45 looks like a long way to go, and it is - but it's not usually the end of one's life! At 45, a woman still should have many years of vigorous health ahead of her... and I can tell you that I've talked to experienced mothers of many children, and they told me that no years were as difficult as those with "just" one or two little ones at home. Apparently, the challenge does not grow in direct ratio to family size. There are other factors to consider: you become more experienced and apt in homemaking, your older children can now lend a helping hand, etc. I "only" have two, but I can tell I find it easier to be with two children at home, than just one, because they play together. 

Finally, I don't think it's about "demanding" from a woman that she should raise a large family of children, or deciding it's something each and every one should do. It is a private matter, which is between you, your husband and the Almighty. We can all have our convictions, but no one should pry into your personal affairs.

I hope this was of some help! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

After a long and busy week...

It has been an especially busy week around here, and it feels good to be winding down. 
Today, I made baked potatoes with dill-and-garlic cream cheese. I made them in a similar way to these, but because I wanted it to be really quick, I omitted the scooping out part, and simply halved the potatoes, put a little butter on each half, and covered them with cream cheese with dill and garlic. It's best to use fresh dill and garlic, but in this instance I used a dry mix. Straight out of the oven, those were so delicious. 

Next week, things are going to be busy again, as we are heading with lightning speed towards the High Holidays. I can hardly believe Rosh HaShana is just around the corner! And of course, it's also going to be our precious Tehilla's second birthday. Thank you, dear G-d, for giving us this wonderful little girl, who has brought us so much joy, and so many smiles, hugs and I-love-you's. 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

Mrs. T

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Pizza" muffins

Just an idea that popped into my head this morning... I went along and made it, and it was so good I had to share it with you.

Take:

3 eggs
Some crumbled Feta cheese (I'm so bad with quantities. Shall we say, 100 gr?)
Around 3-4 tbsp. grated hard cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup chopped olives, green or black
3/4 cup corn, canned or frozen. If you don't like corn you can omit it, or add something else, for example mushrooms.
3-4 tbsp. tomato paste
A pinch of oregano
1 tsp. baking powder
2-3 cups flour. Stir in gradually until dough is very sticky (not too runny, and not bread-like).

I didn't add salt. There's enough salt in the cheese and olives, for my liking. You can add salt according to your taste.

Mix everything in a large bowl. I poured it all into a large baking pan, but I think it would have been better if I used muffin tins. Perhaps I'll do that next time. :o)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A day in my life

Five years ago

5:15 AM. The alarm clock rings, and I pry my eyes open with considerable difficulty. I quickly dress, grab a bite to eat, take my bag with all my school things and go out. It's around 6 AM when I do, and if it's winter, it's still dark outside, not to mention chilly. I have no time to waste, however; I can't miss the 6:05 bus, which will take me to university. While I'm on the bus, I take the opportunity to catch on some praying and reading. I get off the bus around 7, and after a pleasant walk, around 7:30, I'm at my destination.

The campus is beautiful and green, and trees are casting long shadows in the golden glow of the rising sun. I walk slowly, savoring the smells and sounds of the morning, occasionally stopping to pet one of the campus cats. I get inside the lecture hall. Classes start at 8:15, so there is still time for me to do some homework or a bit of revision. 

Classes begin. There are plenty of interesting things to learn, but alas, last night I went to bed too late, and the night before it, and before... chronic lack of sleep is beginning to take effect, and I fall into slumber sometime around 9 AM. I wake a few minutes later and try to keep myself from dozing off again. At the 10:00 break, I go to the coffee machine and buy myself a mocha. Around midday, I have lunch with a friend. Then I have two free hours until lectures begin again; I use the time to work on a project that is to be handed in at the end of term. In the library, I meet some more friends, and we talk a bit about the upcoming examinations.

16:00. I'm tired, so it's a good thing to have another free hour to work lounge around. Still, I'd love to go home, but today I have another class between 17:00 and 20:00 PM. It's only once a week, but it always makes for a LONG day. 

21:30: I finally make it back home and put my feet up. I should probably go to sleep right away, because tomorrow I have another long commute and early class, but somehow I'm incapable of doing that. I still need some time for myself, to read or do something relaxing before going to bed. I close my eyes around midnight, and that's a good time. 

Today

I get up to see shafts of early sunlight where the curtain is pulled back. I don't know exactly what time it is, but I can make a good estimate - around 6:30, and I need to hurry if I want to finish my chores before it's too hot. 

I grab a cup of coffee; the girls are already up, and I pour some milk for them. Those who need help with potty get it. I put in a load of laundry in the washing machine and go out. The day is beautiful, the air is clear, and there is a lot of work to be done. Upon seeing me, the chickens, the goats and the dog immediately begin calling out, each wanting to be the first to have breakfast. I feed the animals and head back inside, to make breakfast for us. Sliced bread is piled high on a plate before me as I make toast. I hadn't packed my husband's lunch yesterday, so I do it now. 

My husband is off to work and we finish breakfast, and the washing is ready to hang out by this time. I do that, then head back outside, to give the chickens some fresh water and take care of the plants. The girls are occupied drawing with their new pastel colors. Shira gets up and goes forward to feed treats and pet one of the goats. 

I change the bedding, wash the dishes, make lunch, start making dinner. The girls splash in a tub outside, then go to make a train out of all the cushions in the living room. After we have lunch, I fold the laundry and put it away, and then it's story time and nap time, and I have a bit of leisure for my own projects, catching up with friends online, or checking some things my husband wanted me to research. 

Afternoon. We have a snack, some more chores (feed the animals again, perhaps a bit of cleaning, finish making dinner), then a walk. We enjoy a visit to the playground or with some friends, while the sun is beginning to set over another long day, full of simple but busy activities. I might do some crochet or hand sewing while I watch over the girls, and sometimes they approach me to "help", having a hands-on lesson without being aware of it. Later, we head home to have dinner, and then it's bath time, story time again, and bed time. 

I finish up the dishes, clean the kitchen and perhaps mop the floor. Then I have some quiet time to relax with a good book, talk to my husband, have a nice shower, and then off to bed. There are so many things I would still like to do, but I'm tired and my eyes are closing even though I never told them to... I surrender to the sweetest of sleep. 

Life is so unexpected. It's so interesting. We go along and change with it, and we know G-d is with us on the way. I am thankful for the changes in my life, and in myself; thankful for them to include my dreams of a family and a simple, quiet life.