Out in the green #2 - The Yaaran Family

I feel very fortunate to know some amazing people that decided to walk away from the mainstream way of living and adapt their life to something they really believe in. I don't hide the fact that i really admire them, that sometimes i dream of doing the same. But then on the other hand, i love my life just the way it is right now...

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The Yaaran family is one of these amazing families. They are living in the Ben Shemen forest, a wild piece of land in the nature reserve between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Avshi and Bar Yaaran with their 5 children built their own wooden house 22 years ago in the forest and started a goat farm. Ever since, they live from what they produce on their land, the goats provide milk and natural gas for cooking. They also have 2 donkeys, a horse, some chickens and a bunch of shepherd dogs. Solar panels generate electricity and the family is collecting rain water. Everyday and the whole year around, their goats graze the land, a perfect natural prevention against wild fires. Avshi and Bar never go on vacation, they never take a day off but they are both happy and really enjoy their work. They celebrate slow living and the most important thing for them is to stay in harmony with nature and their goats and to be far away from the buzz of big cities and big crowds.

Bar is a goat cheese magician. She is producing the best goat cheeses, labaneh and yogurt you can imagine. The family has a small store where they sell the goat milk products to visitors. Bar lets them taste from a variety of cheeses, from strong to mild and if you like goat cheese like i do, you will want to buy everything you tasted. She also makes delicious bread. The flour she is using comes from the wheat that is growing on the farm.

Their special way of life is unfortunately not legal and so they are fighting for many years already against their evacuation. In 2015, Avshi had to destroy most of their initial beautiful family house and him and Bar built a new home on wheels in order to be able to stay. Even though they have the smallest eco footprint and are even contributing to the prevention of wild fires, the state sees them as illegal settlers. 

Our first family trip with Ellie was to the Ben Shemen forest, to visit Bar and Avshi. We enjoyed that day so much. Like every time we are there, we breathed in the quiet and the beauty of it, we bought tons of goat cheese, we sat in the garden and watched the animals and thought with a heavy heart: "maybe it is our last visit".

and here a few more pictures that are screenshots from Ohad's movie "Planets" where he portrayed the family - for those who want, the movie is available here.

Visit the Yaaran on facebook

Hebrew article about the Yaaran Family (published in Haaretz in April 2014)

6-9/52 (February)

"A portrait of my son, (ideally) once a week, every week, in 2017."

Alva: Doesn't seem to mind that these are his last weeks of being an only child...he is really impatient of finally meeting his sister - "ha tinoket sheli" (my baby girl) as he calls her. He prepared a chair for her at our dining table, sorted out all the baby toys and put them in a basket for her and last week told Ohad and me that he wanted to build something out of wood for her. So yesterday, while i was at work, Ohad picked up Alva earlier from kindergarden and they built a beautiful wooden box for her. Everything seems ready for her arrival...now we are just waiting...

The 52 Project 2017... 1-5/52 (January)

Seems like this year i am kind of late for starting the 52 Project, oops. I have to admit i kind of found it really challenging last year to keep up with the rhythm of one picture a week since i have an anti-iphone child that starts making funny faces as soon as i tap the camera icon on the screen. Good thing that is...gets me to put away my phone and focus on the real thing. But it also means i am running short of portraits. One of the big projects for this year is to get this DSLR cam i have been dreaming about for so long. I am not giving up on the hope that a fast shutter would outrun alva's attempts to "sabotage" my pictures.

So here it is, the 52 Project 2017, a bit different than in the past years. Without pushing it to one picture a week, maybe sometimes with one picture a month only and some more texts...

1-5/52 (January)

"A portrait of my son, (ideally) once a week, every week, in 2017."

Alva: January has been a really cold month, specially when you don't have heating...we've spent most of our evenings wrapped up in blankets, wearing hats and thick socks. Alva is allowed to watch 30 minutes of cartoons in french before going to bed. His absolute favorites is "Mouk". It's a cartoon about a bear and a cat that do a bike tour around the world and are telling their friends about their adventures by video conference. Each chapter is located in a different country and is showing some special cultural aspect of that place. Amazingly fresh, smart and educational. Ohad and me are big fans, just as much as Alva is. Although Mouk is originally french, it is available in english as well. Here is the link to the english youtube channel (click on bolded text for link)

Here is one of alva's favorite episode...

kids books #2 - Kazuo Iwamura's Hooray for Snow!

Japanese illustrators...i mean, what else is there to say? The precision, the details, the technique, the stories, everything is just perfection. My mom is currently visiting, and of course she bought a bunch of children books in french for Alva. I completely fell in love with Kazuo Iwamura's Hooray for Snow! (Vive la neige! in french). It is so cute and charming and while reading to Alva, i often had to stop, just to look at the pictures a little longer, making Alva protest: "Nu ima, tesapri" (Come on ima, continue telling the story).

The small book tells the story of 3 squirrel children that want to play with their slide in the snow and manage to convince their - at first- skeptical father and mother to join them.

Kazuo Iwamura takes his inspiration from the nature surrounding his work studio and he got famous with his illustrations of books about the adventures of a mouse family. I found this nice video where he tells a bit more about the way he works and the message he wants to pass on to the children that read his books.

We for sure will look for more of those precious books illustrated by him.

The book is available in many languages.

In French the book was published by Mijade: "Vive la neige!" ISBN: 9782871425021  format 25 x 25 cm.

ADC Channel #4 Mama Africa

Mama Africa | How are you doing Mama | Mama Africa | Long time me no see you Mama ...There's so many things about you | Wondering where you are | They try their best to hide you Mama | But I search and I find you...In you there's so much beauty | 
In you there's so much life | In you there's so many kingdoms | To me it's out of sight... (parts of the lyrics from "Mama Africa" by Peter Tosh)


My family is very connected to Africa, my cousins have their roots in Mozambique through their father and i fell in love with Mama Africa when i first met her in South Africa 5 years ago. Africa is an amazing source of music, design, fashion and art that is unfortunately not mentioned enough...here is my personal current best of fashion, music, object design, photography and graphics from and inspired by Mama Africa (all bolded texts and titles are links)

Mammaw (www.mammaw.com)

Mammaw is a team of four designers based in London that is specialized in hand sewn collections made using Ankara styles, African patterns, Kente cloth and traditional fabrics. All pieces are produced in limited edition.

Lemlem (www.lemlem.com)

I am completely in love with the fabrics of  Lemlem, an ethiopian brand created by Liya Kebede in 2007. Lemlem, which means bloom or flourish in amharic, is all about natural cotton clothes and fabrics, 100% hand weaven according to traditional techniques. The lightness and colors of the textiles is just one of the things that make Lemlem so special. The other thing about the brand is that (as stated on their site) "5% of all sales and proceeds from special promotions support LKFs work to help African moms thrive. The LKF (Liya Kebede Foundation), and its work helps address the top health concern of women in Africa – access to life-saving maternity care. With its giving partners LKF aims to make childbirth safer by training midwives who provide care near where we source and manufacture."

Jain - Makeba

Jain, originated from Madagascar lived 3 years in the Congo as a teenager and makes pop music like nobody else at the moment. She has this song, Makeba...when i hear it, i can not sit till on my chair, i have to get up and move my dancing feet...The clip was directed by the french duo Greg et Lio, who's work reminds me a little bit of  Michel Gondry.

It's a track about the South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba and Jain states on her site: “Her voice is part of my childhood,” says Jain. “In Paris I discovered that a lot of my friends knew nothing about her. I found that sad so I wrote the song. The idea was to modernise Miriam Makeba so people my age might search her out."

Solar Jar by Consol

This is the best gift i got from Africa. Ohad brought me back wonderful wooden bracelets, beautiful wooden carved bowls and a Solar Jar from his recent trip to Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Solar Jar is my favorite. It's beautiful, so smart, simple, functional and sustainable. A perfect piece of design. Its basically a glass jar with a solar panel on the top and an integrated LED light. If it stays in the sunlight for 6-8 hours, it gives up to 12 hours of light. It has an automatic day/night switch that turns the LED off if the lighting conditions are good in order to save battery and turns the light on again, once the surroundings are dark. It even has a USB charging feature as an alternative to sunlight, if solar charging is not possible. You can fill the jar with whatever you wish to create a beautiful atmosphere in the house (i recently filled my jar with chocolate money for this post). Detailed fact sheet available here.

Marinka Masseus - Under the same sun (2016)

The Dutch photographer Marinka Masséus is the IPA (International Photography Award) photographer of the Year 2016. Her work "Under the same sun" raises awareness for people who are born with albinism. Have a look at the full series of pictures on her website and i can warmly recommend this article with an interview about her work giving insights about her motivation and thoughts.

 

Lulu Kitololo Studio / Asilia

Lulu Kitololo is the creative director behind Lulu Kitololo Studio. Till 2015 Lulu was part of Asilia, a shared design studio together with her partner from Haba haba. Lulu's blog, Afri-Love is much recommended for everyone interested in african design and culture. Here are some projects from Asilia and from Lulu Kitololo Studio. 

Animal Doodles by Rohan Sharad Dahotre

Rohan is actually an illustrator from India, but he did some beautiful doodles and wild animals from Africa that i find very inspiring and fitting for this post. You can visit more of his work here.

52/52

"A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Alva: watching the monkeys with safta heidi and sabba patrick in the zoo in basel. (picture by my mom)

Happy new year friends! 2016 was a wonderful year for us with many challenges and filled with a lot of joy. I am sure 2017 will be amazing. May it be full of happiness, new discoveries, growth and great family time for all of us!

teaming up with Jodi's 52 Project.

kids books #1 - Rotraut Susanne Berner's Four Season Books

My mother is a children's books collector. I remember as a child, there was a cupboard, out of our reach, full with her favorite books. We were allowed to read them but just one at the time and with special care. My favorite one was with God, Adam and Eve and i remember that God was old, had a long beard and was sitting on a cloud. Somehow it fascinated me, God seemed a very cool guy and paradise the place to be. I really liked the illustrations as well.

As an adult, I never gave much thought about children's books till Alva started being interested by them. Now i could not imagine our family without our books. We read at least one book per day and i enjoy a good children's book just as much as Alva does. I am also aware of how influential the books that we read to our kids are for them. I guess i am not the only adult that remembers details from pages of a story i looked at more than 30 years ago. Our favorite four books at the moment are the seasons books by Rotraut Susanne Berner. They are just genius. We read them probably at least 20 times each and we are still discovering new details and new stories.

The series consists of 5 books (4 seasons plus the "night book"). Each book tells a continuous story along the pages with the same characters. The characters evolve through the 5 books and of course the surroundings change according to the seasons. The illustrations are beautiful, detailed, funny and creative. Often Alva discovers details first. He can stay for a long time just watching the pages by himself and then coming to me and showing me something new he found. "Tirii ima hachatul ve ha souris" (look ima, the cat and the mouse). 

If you ask me, the perfect christmas present for a 3 year old!

Below you can see one of the story lines from the "Winter Book" where Manfred looses his wallet and key and Ina finds it. A few pages later she gives the wallet and the key back to their owner. You will also notice if you look carefully, that the snow fall gets denser on every page.

 

The series is available in many languages.

In German the books were published by Gerstenberg Verlag: "Winter-Wimmelbuch" ISBN: 978-3-8369-5033-6, "Frühlings-Wimmelbuch" ISBN: 978-3-8369-5057, "Sommer-Wimmelbuch" ISBN: 978-3-8369-5082-4, "Herbst-Wimmelbuch" ISBN: 978-8369-5101, "Nacht-Wimmelbuch" ISBN: 978-8369-5199-9. All ISBN numbers are referring to the carton page edition in format 34 x 26 cm.

49/52

"A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Alva: The closest he will ever get to christmas, snow and santa claus in this country...we had to stay 10 minutes in front of this electrical santa snowball because he wanted to watch the snow...not sure if i should find that really sad or a bit funny. Good that we are flying to Switzerland to the real snow in some weeks.

teaming up with Jodi's 52 Project.

47/52

"A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Alva: put his hand on my belly today and his little sister kicked it so hard that he took it away very fast and started giggling. Then of course we had to try if she is doing it again and she did several times, to alva's biggest joy. 

teaming up with Jodi's 52 Project.

Tags: motherhood

thoughts about saving money #2 - with kids

Here comes the promised second post about saving money. If you wanna catch up on the first one, you can see here (bolded text is link).

There is things in life as a family that cost a lot of money or that you can potentially spend a lot of cash on...Those cute baby clothes, cool toys ect. (Specially when you like scrolling through all the blogs out there like me). When i was pregnant with Alva, i spent hours looking for all the things i would buy for him and for his room. In the end, mostly thanks to Ohad, I never bought all that stuff i wanted and it didn't take any of my happiness away.

Alva is now 3 years old and currently -  not counting the expenses for his kindergarden - we are spending about  20 $ a month on things for him, and believe me he is perfectly happy. He has fun, quality toys, clothes that he likes to wear (for most part) and we never kept something he needed from him just to save money.

Here is what we did :

--------- 1. We only bought baby stuff we really needed ---------

Of course, there is a whole industry built around newborns, new mothers and fathers, and kids of all ages. This industry makes you feel like you need a lot more for your baby than you actually really do. Here are just 5 random example items that came to my mind that i thought we would absolutely need, because i read it somewhere or saw friends using those items with their small ones. We never bought them and we did fine without them. I will risk the assumption, that you and your baby - like us - don't really need those:

  • Baby bathtub and thermometer
  • Bottle sterilizer
  • Bottle warmer
  • Diaper bag
  • Diaper changing table

Alva was, till age 2 taking his bath in a plastic bucket from the market (cost 5$). We always checked the temperature of the bath with our hands and arms. We sterilized the bottles with boiling water, we put a washable small blanket on our bed to change his diapers and i always carried diapers and a package of wipes in my handbag. Today i calculated that we saved around 350$ just by not buying those 5 "basic" items. I am happy that Ohad kept telling me: "Did you have that when you were a baby?", "Did your mother buy this when she had you?" And i had to agree time and time again, that my mother had nothing of all this.

--------- 2. We don't spend (much) money on kid's clothes ---------

It's so tempting to buy cute kids clothes, it's most mother's (me included) favorite thing, to dress their children nicely.

Well, i gave up on it. Alva is not wearing any cool, hip clothes from local designers made of organic cotton. Instead, we are getting passed on clothes from cousins, friends or from clothes swaps (look on facebook for kids clothes swap groups, if you don't find any in your city, open one, it will catch really fast). I am very rarely turning down clothes we would get for free, even if i don't like the prints or colors. For one, it's helping with the savings plan. Second, Alva couldn't care less about what he is wearing, and third, it's sustainable (yeahie to recycling).

The day i realized that the main reason i wanted my kid to have cool clothes was because i wanted my kid to be cute, i also realized that this is a pretty strange thought, since kids are cute even when wearing terrible clothes. That's when I agreed to the "no money on kid's clothes" thing. And let's look really deep into our mother hearts and be honest: if you/we are secretly worried about the nice pictures that will not look so nice anymore, well, just make them black and white. All clothes look good in black and white. :-)

--------- 3. Buy stuff only when you need it ---------

Don't buy stuff before you really need it. So many things i bought in advance ended up on the bottom of a drawer without me ever using them. I bought all of them thinking i would really really need them at some point or another. Every child is different, has different needs and likes. I realized that something that worked wonders for a friend of mine when her kid was younger doesn't necessarily mean that it would work the same way with Alva. I am now waiting till the need is real and then research what would fit my child best before i actually buy a product.

--------- 4. Research (try out) the products you wanna buy before you buy them ---------

Trying out the products you wanna buy before you actually buy them will prevent you from many disappointments. Maybe you have a mom friend that has exactly this one product that you would like to buy. Maybe you can ask her if you could borrow it for a day and try it out. Maybe you will find out that although it seems nice at first, it doesn't fit your child's or your needs and you will be happy you didn't buy it. In my case this was particularly true for slings. I tried 3 different slings from friends, till i found the one that was right for Alva, Ohad and me. We are still using it. 

--------- 5. Get your kid to be diaper free as soon as possible ---------

That sounds a bit crazy but the earlier your kid will not need diapers anymore, the better. Not only for your kids independence, but also for your finances. Disposable diapers cost tons of money. From all things we bought for Alva in the last 3 years, the biggest amount by far in the list goes to disposable diapers. 

So what about cloth diapers?

We got a set of 12 cloth diapers from my mom when Alva was born and i really like them. But according to my experience, specially if your baby is small and needs a lot of diaper changes, 12 diapers are not enough if you want to use essentially cloth diapers (i would usually ran out of cloth diapers during washing/drying cycles). We combined cloth and disposables. At the end i guess we did use more disposables than we had planned on, also because sometimes cloth diapers tend to leak, which rarely happens with disposables. And quite honestly, using only cloth diapers is quite some work if you don't have a diaper washing service in your city. 

So that's why not using any diapers at all can really help you save some cash.

--------- 6. Do it yourself! (toys, games ect) ---------

There is tons of toys and games you can do yourself instead of buying them. They will be just as educational and maybe your kid will even be able to contribute to their making! Have a look at diy kids toys and games on pinterest, or on one of the amazing kids toys diy blogs like madebyjoel, mermag, mrprintables or just get creative yourself.

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Do you also have some tips on how to save money without feeling you are missing out on something?

I would love to hear about it!

Just today Ohad reminded me that if you manage to save 400 times your monthly expenses, you can be financially independent, meaning you don't need to work anymore and can just take time to be with your family, like Mr. Money Moustache...we are still far from there but on the way...more about it in the next post.

 

 

44/52

"A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Alva: likes to hang out with his new imaginary friend who is a kangaroo. They are going together to the kindergarden (the kangaroo sits in the basket of my bike while Alva sits in the back). The kangaroo has his own chair at our dinner table and needs his own plate of course. Since Alva has the kangaroo, taking showers and brushing teeth got much easier, since the kangaroo likes brushing his teeth and taking showers much more than Alva does and usually convinces him that those things are necessary and quite fun.

teaming up with Jodi's 52 Project.

sweet saturday #14 - sablés aux amandes et coco

What do you do when the fridge and the cupboards are almost empty, no eggs, no milk, no chocolate, just some butter, basic baking ingredients and a rest of grated almonds and coconut and your kid wants to make a cake?

You tell him that you'll make wonderful sablés aux amandes et coco instead.

Ingredients:

125 gr butter

zest of an organic lemon

80 gr sugar

1 package of vanilla sugar

30 gr grated almonds

20 gr grated coconut

125 gr flour

Directions:

1. Cut the soft butter into pieces in a bowl. If you forgot to take the butter out of the fridge and it is still cold, grate the butter in a bowl. Yeap, that's right, no joke. This is an amazing trick i picked up on the web. Instead of letting your butter soften to room temperature before using it, you can just grate the cold butter into a bowl, same effect.

2. Add the lemon zest, the vanilla sugar and the sugar and beat with an electric mixer till the consistency is fluffy.

3. In an other bowl, mix the almonds, the coconut and the flour.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and mix with the electric mixer till you get a chunky texture. 

5. Cover with a plastic foil and put in the fridge for 30 minutes at least. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.

6. Take the dough out of the fridge, make little sausages of dough with your hands. and place them with a pace of 2 cm from each other on a baking paper covered oven sheet. They will "melt" with the heat of the oven to become flat, so they need a bit of space in order for them not to stick to each other.

7. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes until they start to get a bit golden on the edges. Take the cookies out and let cool down a little. They taste wonderful when still warm, together with some walnut ice cream.