Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Nurturing Hands - natural health ebook giveaway

Following several requests, I have put together a compact little e-book based on selected articles on nutrition, breastfeeding and healthy cooking that I had published on this blog over the years. The e-book, titled Nurturing Hands, is now on Payhip where it can be purchased at a very reasonable price, but I'll be very glad to hand it out for free to anyone who participates in this giveaway.

The rules are simple:

1. Share this giveaway on your Facebook, Twitter or blog, or if you're not a fan of social media, share it with at least one friend by email.

2. Come back and leave a comment telling me about it.

3. Either contact me at domesticfelicity@gmail.com, or leave your email within your comment (see number 2) and I'll be happy to send you the e-book.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, nurse, midwife or lactation consultant, and do not presume to give professional advice. I am simply sharing some of my own convictions and tips that have worked for me and my family in our pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.

* Free image from Pixabay

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sourdough Simplicity: book review

For a while now I've been meaning to review a very useful little book by my friend Rose Godfrey, Sourdough Simplicity. It's really a very handy, practical instruction manual for those just striking out in the world of sourdough starter. Personally I've been wanting to try sourdough for a while, and was only stopped by my husband's "eek!" factor. Now I'm more inspired than ever to give it a shot.

I'll be honest: despite Rose's just warnings about whole-grain sourdough bread coming out dense, if I do try sourdough, it will only be with whole grain flour (either wheat, rye or spelt). I just don't see much point in making a starter, keeping it going, investing in a long rise process, making the gamble of an unpredictable product, and all this to get what essentially is still white bread from refined, nutrient-stripped flour (though undoubtedly superior in taste to the usual quick-rise bread).

Yes, traditionally fermented bread is in many cases better tolerated by those with grain allergies, as opposed to quick-rise bread made with baker's yeast. But still, from a nutritional standpoint, it isn't much. It might not give you an allergic reaction, but it won't give you much of anything else, either.

Either way, Sourdough Simplicity is a great way to get going in that confusing new world of sourdough starter. It also provides many great recipes, creative ways of utilizing leftovers, and troubleshooting tips.

"I needed a method that was pure simplicity and a recipe that tasted great. In the end, I found that sourdough baking did not have to be complicated, and it could fit all my objectives. I started with a wonky oven that had 4 distinct heat zones and still managed to bake delicious breads. My loaves are not always Pinterest-perfect, but they are tasty, nutritious, and easy to make. There is always some minor variation from loaf to loaf, and we are OK with that."

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Diaper Debate

A long time ago, when I was pregnant for the first time and we had many lofty ideas about our own capabilities, my husband and I talked about cloth diapers. We were pretty much decided we are going to use them, for the sake of frugality, sustainability and baby's skin health. It just seemed the right choice all around, until one day, when I was getting pretty big, we had the following conversation.

DH: "But where would we wash the diapers?"

Me: "What do you mean, where? We put them in the washing machine."

DH: (wrinkling his nose): "What, you'll put poopy diapers in the same machine that we use to wash our clothes?"

Me: "Not in the same cycle. We'll wash them separately, you know." 

DH: "I still think that's gross. Think of all the bacteria that will be left over."

Me: "Well, what do you suggest?"

DH: "My Mom always washed our diapers by hand."

Do I have to tell you? We've been using disposables ever since. And at times I've been feeling guilty about it, too, especially when I haul out a big garbage bag full of almost nothing but diapers and think about it adding to some tremendous landfill.

It wasn't just the gross factor that put us off; we've had plenty of poop in our washing machine anyway over the years, what with newborn blow-outs and all. There were periods when changing a poopy diaper equaled changing a whole baby outfit, every time. We're still all alive and well.

It was also that conveniently made cloth diapers are a pretty hefty initial investment, one we hesitated to make, and I'm not up to sewing my own. And, of course, there's the convenience; at times, I've been so overwhelmed by laundry (especially not having a drier, on long rainy weeks in winter) that voluntarily adding more seemed an effort of will beyond my capability.

As a compromise, I have tried doing early potty-training, with babies running around bare-bottomed around the house on many a summer day. The little tushies got a pleasant breeze, we saved some money on diapers, and I felt better about the ecological aspect of it all.

In the place where we live now, we have frequent electricity and water shortages, up to the point that everybody living in the neighborhood often gets requests to save on electricity and water as much as possible by trying to minimize the usage of air conditioners, ovens and, of course, washing machines. An extra load of diapers every day or two just doesn't seem feasible in such conditions.  I actually believe that in Israel, where water is a precious commodity, bio-degradable diapers may be more eco-friendly than cloth.

There had to be, however, a compromise: green and convenient; eco-friendly but disposable. So lately I've started looking into the option of switching to bio-degradable disposable diapers, such as these. I'd love to hear from any of you ladies who care to share your experience. Cloth? Bio-degradable? Plain ol' Pampers?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

My guest post on Baking Humble Pie

Bethany, over at Baking Humble Pie, is hosting a series of I Don't Do It All guest posts from Mom bloggers while she is taking her time to recover from the birth of her latest precious baby girl, and has graciously asked me to participate. My post, basically a short interview, is up now:

Let me enthuse a little here: life is full of fascinating things to do, learn, experience and explore, and there is never enough time to do it all! There are many things I am passionate about and thankful for the opportunity to try my hand at, alone or together with my awesome family. 

Pop over to Bethany's blog to read the rest

Sunday, May 8, 2016

His help

When I was first married, I had a certain mental image of myself in my mind: not just a wife and mother at home, but a wife who does absolutely everything in the home, which is her exclusive domain, with no help from anyone. It was a nice image, but it was unrealistic. The truth is, I was unaccustomed to housework, I was an inexperienced cook, and I soon had two small children. I was under stress.

It took me a long time to realize that my husband, in fact, is quite capable and willing to lend a hand in order to promote the things that are important to him - such as cleaner floors and more diverse dishes - and what's more, actually enjoys doing some of the cooking and baking. His pita bread is famous around the neighborhood.

It took me even longer to let go of the feeling of inadequacy when my husband takes over some of the household duties - another of my unspoken convictions being that, since he works such long hours, when he's finally home he's supposed to have perfect liberty and leisure. Somehow, it never seemed to work. Eventually I realized it takes both of us to finish the Shabbat preparations at a reasonable hour, not because I'm lazy or disorganized, but because even though I am, in fact, busy doing my duties at home every day and all day long, there are things I just don't get around to soon/often enough, through no fault of my own.

Now, there are many things around here which are my exclusive property, such as dishes, laundry and diapers. There are, on the other hand, things my husband does on a regular basis, such as grocery shopping and fixing things around the house. And there is what I normally do but what he lends a hand with, such as washing the floor and cooking.

There are women in my neighborhood who would rather invite their mother or sister over, or hire household help, than accept help from their husbands, the premise being that there is women's work and there's men's work. And you know what, in most cases it might be true. I, however, have come to terms with the fact that I'm not just a stay-at-home Mom, but a SAHM who gets a great deal of help from her husband - and grateful for it. I realized that well-functioning arrangements are better than idealized expectations, and that pride leads to unnecessary stress. It took me a long time, yes, but I finally got there.

Today I know that, the nature of work in and around the home being constant and never-ending, there will always, no matter what, be more than enough left to my share, even deducting anything my husband can reasonably do. Therefore, I accept whatever help I can get with no qualms and with a lot of simple gratitude.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pesach and power shortages

It has been a long time since I was able to indulge myself in any stretch of time on the computer. Pesach - the last few frantic days, then the holiday itself - and later a few days with severe power shortages around here make me scarcely believe I'm actually sitting in front of the screen and typing (be it even a short post).

The power shortages, which lasted from about the beginning of the week until this evening, were trying but not fatal. I was mostly concerned about the contents of our freezer, but since it was packed and we avoided opening it, it was alright. Immediately after the power returned I peeked inside and saw that almost nothing has thawed. The insulation must be really good!

Overall the last couple of days had a slower, gentler rhythm to them. The running water functioned just fine. Like most homes in Israel, we have a solar water heater, and with our long sunny days we always have plenty of hot water for showers at this season. My only challenge was to get everything - dishes, kids' showers, mopping the floor - done before nightfall, which is about eight o'clock in May. Then it was time for some candlelit relaxation with stories and board games, and then bedtime. Really, if we could just keep the refrigerator going, I wouldn't mind the power going out for a week or two!

We've also been pretty busy in our chicken coop, accommodating the new broods that have hatched this week (and more to come, hopefully, next week). I took a snapshot of one of the tiny fluff balls - standing on the threshold of a wonderful new world! Our current resident rooster is a Black Brahma, so it's no wonder that almost all the chicks are black and all have feathered legs.

There is a lot of work to be done this season, and many projects I'm longing to get started at/pick up again. But amidst it all and along it all, I pray there will still be time for candlelight, stories, board games, baking, crafts, and other relaxing pursuits to be done together in our little home.