zaterdag 22 oktober 2016

Saving Money On Groceries

Just a couple of thoughts on healthy eating and cutting your grocery bills.

First of all and most important is to learn to cook without cookbooks. Yes, you heard me well. A basic cookbook which teaches you how to make a simple soup and how long to cook your vegetables is fine, but all these modern, fancy cookbooks and cooking magazines which cost you a lot of money really contain very little useful info. Many of the dishes they feature are of a type that you could think of yourself, like all the summer salads, for instance.

They are great for giving you ideas, they make a good present, they encourage you to spend more time in the kitchen, which is all fine, so if you have enough money why not buying them, however, they aren't really essential, except those containing baking recipes as unlike with salads, baking often means precision.

Plus, they often require exotic ingredients and entice you to go above your budget. And sticking to your grocery budget is the most important thing to do if you really want to trim your expenses.

Second, remember, you don't need to be a millionaire to eat healthy. The experts all agree that "healthy" means above all, ditching all or most of processed food. The more you cook from scratch, the better. Nearly all vegetables and most fruit are healthy. Every week supermarkets offer a discount on some of them, so that every week you have your chance to try another sort of healthy veggies. Some of the  healthiest things out there are dirt cheap, like onions and garlic (and it will protect you from vampires, too:).

The same is true about meat. Fish is trickier, as it's quite pricey over here, but it can be acquired frozen or canned (avoid canned in sunflower oil, though. Olive oil appears to be better). If potatoes are expensive, they can be substituted by rice, which is usually quite cheap.

Third, here we come to dessert, which is too often bought ready-made, and full of unhealthy stuff like too much sugar. Be creative! Yogurt with honey makes for a great dessert and it's not expensive. Substitute store-bought things for homemade. The same goes for all the baked goodies from a supermarket which are too often made with margarine instead of real butter and have an amount of sugar and conserving agents in them enough to prevent one from reaching 90 after 2 times use.

Strictly avoid wasting money on sodas, chips and similar, except for birthdays or treats. Dark chocolate with high cacao content is better than candy bars, btw. As with all other things, moderation is the key, so you don't need to deprive yourself of all pleasures of life, just change your eating habits slightly.

woensdag 19 oktober 2016

A Christian Country?

I have chiefly refrained from discussing politics on this blog or commenting on political affairs, including upcoming American elections. No, I'm not going to tell my American readers for which candidate they should vote. That's between them and their conscience. There is something else I'd like to talk about instead.

A long time ago there was a discussion on a now defunct blog on what makes a country Christian. Someone said that a Christian country is one where people basically don't sin and live like perfect Christians so that medieval European countries weren't Christian at all since we had adultery and stuff.

Now were I to ask what makes a country Muslim what would be the answer? A country where the majority profess belief in Islam and  sharia ( or a modified version of it) is the law of the land. If the first condition is fulfilled but the second not, you have a secular Muslim country.

In a similar manner, in a Christian country, the majority profess belief in Christ and the law is based on the Scriptures, for instance, restricting divorce (or forbidding, in Catholic countries). A Christian country isn't one where the people all live exemplary sinless lives, because it is impossible!  The Bible teaches us that we are sinners and there is not one just among us. That includes our leaders. To pretend otherwise is to engage in a Pharisaical holier-than-thou purity spiral, especially nowadays when the worst sins are apparently "hurting feelings" and "not being nice".

So the most "Christian" candidate isn't necessarily someone pure as snow but rather a person more likely to uphold Christianity-based laws, or what's left out of them, or at least not to do a further damage like persecuting Christians, starting a major war etc etc.

I have been pondering over the life of Charles Martel, who, most historians agree saved Christianity and Western civilisation. Was he a "nice" person? Born of a polygamous union (and thus considered illegitimate by many), he engaged in war his whole life. He had a lot of blood on his hands, also of fellow Europeans, for instance, Saxons. He was also married two times (though not simultaneously) and (oh horrors!) had a long-term mistress who bore him many children. He probably had other women as well. Something tells me modern `Churchians` wouldn´t vote for him, either, because he couldn´t stand their `purity test`...

maandag 17 oktober 2016

Romantic Autumn Collection

From Chadwicks of Boston.

I'd like to put a disclaimer: I'm not an affiliate of theirs or connected to them in any other way. I tried to order from them once but couldn't find how to get it shipped overseas even though now they claim they deliver internationally, too. However, I do like some of their models, like this one (though these aren't my colours), or that.

If you have any experience with this company, feel free to share in the comments!

zaterdag 15 oktober 2016

Energy Vampires?

I guess we all have heard about so-called "energy vampires". Do they really exist? Without going into any psychic or shamanist stuff, energy vampire appears just to be another term for a narcissist. And yes, I tend to believe they do exist. They come in many disguises, but you recognise one if communication with him/her is constantly giving you bad emotions, if you basically feel lousy afterwards, mentally and sometimes physically.

Some of them are presenting themselves as overly successful know-it-alls who bully everyone around them into submission to their opinions, some are chronically unhappy and whine about everything, others are jealous and covetous etc etc. (Here is a comprehensive list). They all have something in common, they apparently have a huge void in their life which they are trying to feel by basically making others just as miserable as themselves. They are emotionally needy. And they are trying to control and manipulate you for their own personal gratification.

So what to do about them? The easiest way is to cut them out of your life completely but often it's impossible because they are your family, colleagues or close friends. I've read several articles giving various advice which included taking a shower after dealing with a negative person (I'll certainly try this one) or creating a "protective shield" in your mind while talking to them.

Personally I believe this problem is not new and shunning people totally doesn't work unless you want to live as a medieval hermit which is hardly possible nowadays anyway. My parents told me the way to deal with such people is really to ignore them. To grow thick skin. I also believe that we shouldn't engage them. Don't react to provocations, don't argue, don't lose your temper or get emotional. That is what "the vampire" desires most of all (internet vampires are called trolls and spend their whole life goading others into reacting emotionally). Just don't oblige them.

Also set up boundaries. Don't allow them to go too far and if they start meddling into your own family affairs and cause problems, don't hesitate to show them the door as your family always comes first.

It's also important not to turn into such a person yourself. We all have a tendency at times to complain or to go around spreading doom and gloom or become too clingy. In reality, nobody likes such people! I think what really helps to create inner calmness is getting a creative hobby like all sorts of crafts, drawing or learning to play a musical instrument. In fact, this article claims that a simple act of writing on paper for a quarter of an hour trains your nervous system, how much more playing the guitar does?

It's also noteworthy that both articles on how to deal with energy vampires and how to improve your nerves recommend such things as meditation and self-reflective practices including cooking (I should say that a prayer would help as well).

In short, we should build our inner strength so that others won't be able to bring us down even if they try.

vrijdag 14 oktober 2016

Scarborough Fair And A Link

I should say their guitar playing is much better than mine:)
I'd also like to draw attention to  this post by Mark Moncrieff which is quite interesting.  Here is an excerpt:

Many will complain that in the Middle Ages we were Serfs and today we are free. The Middle Ages that Conservatives admire is when there were no Serfs but when every man was a Freeman. To use the English word, a Yeoman. Every Yeoman knew he was not a Slave or a Serf but he also knew he was not a Lord. He was free to live his life and free to make his own decisions. He was the backbone of the Kingdom. He fought it's wars and he worked it's fields but he was his own man. Not alone but part of a class that knew it's own worth and was not interested in taking from any other class. This is the class we want to recreate. In all human societies there is a hierarchy, but ours pretends that isn't true. Yet another lie.

dinsdag 11 oktober 2016

On Keeping Up Appearances

I keep hearing these stories about young couples taking a huge amount of debt to be able to afford their "dream house" which they hardly have time to enjoy since they have both to work full time to pay back the mortgage. Of course, an average family which consists of two grown-ups plus two kids doesn't need a big house. They hardly ever have time to clean it anyway.

When you read old books like Miss Silver stories you see that wealthy people who used to live in big houses usually didn't live there alone. Besides servants, they shared it with relatives in reduced circumstances, nephews and nieces and cousins and they often had visitors to stay over. It's not what's happening nowadays. Nowadays I see couples going above their means just to keep up appearances. No family with only two kids needs 5 bedrooms. No family needs to go on vacation three times a year.

It's not that these things are wrong in themselves. It's just mind-boggling that so many wives and mothers choose to work just to finance this insanely materialistic lifestyle and that so many families go deeply into debt to acquire unnecessary stuff.

The truth is that despite ongoing recession or however it is called we are still abundantly blessed with wealth that previous generations could only dream of. We all have a roof above our heads, running water and sanitary accommodations, we don't have to cook on the open fire, schools are free, internet is full of free resources as well, clothes can be bought rather cheaply, nobody is starving and nearly every family has a car.

However, a lot of folks evidently have emptiness in their souls which they are trying to fill up with consumerism. Even homemakers are pressed into spending every free moment making money, instead of pursuing a hobby or socialising with the neighbours. The truth is, we all could do with less stuff. I've read articles about ladies spending 500 pounds and more per month on makeup. I mean whatever???

In life, there are needs and wants. You don't need to live in a semi-detached. You don't need a latest car. You don't need many luxury vacations. You don't need eating out twice a week or even twice a month, etc etc...especially when you are a Christian, you should ask yourself what is more important, following God's design for the family or keeping up appearances.

vrijdag 7 oktober 2016

Enjoying Your Home

A couple of weeks ago I criticised a book by an Evangelical author stating that Christianity is basically about abolishing class distinctions. The book in question had a good example of what is called "cognitive dissonance"" when the lady who wrote it was lamenting that women are still experiencing "oppression" in more traditional countries yet praising the fact that since so many women were home they had time to practise hospitality and support each other while their men were at work.

That's how Western society used to be, before the majority of women exchanged their freedoms for a paycheck. Nowadays we are experiencing the movement of women going back home, but they often find themselves lonely and without necessary community support, so they turn to the internet for instructions and getting in touch with like-minded individuals. (One of the regular favourites on my blog, for instance, is the post about Vintage Housekeeping Manuals.)

The problem is that they sometimes get a twisted message about what it means to be a homemaker. Instead of enjoying their life at home and time with their children, they are guilt-tripped into various money-making activities, whether they need money or not; overwhelmed with schedules often accompanied by pictures of perfect homes and are warned against most innocent hobbies as something which wastes time and keeps them away from domestic duties.

Hey, I'm not saying that one should be lazying around watching soaps while the husband breaks his back at work and children are running wild, just that folks should be realistic in what they can achieve given their own circumstances, their finances, their state of health etc. However hard you try, you'll never be able to achieve perfection, especially with small children.

 Also, most homemaking manuals, including some recent ones, exaggerate when they push incessant scrubbing, dusting and vacuuming. One of those I read suggested changing tablecloth twice a day. It means I'd have to wash 14 tablecloths every week! Just think how much it would cost and what an enormous workload it is (you have to iron them, too). May be, when one has a house full of servants it works, but for an average family it's not a great idea though.

To enjoy homemaking and life at home in general, one has to achieve some form of balance between order and chaos, depending on one's priorities and circumstances. The most important thing is not to be dogmatic about it. Also keep in mind that practicing hospitality is at least equally important to taking care of stuff, after all, someone besides your family has to appreciate your nice teacups and your baking skills! 

For further information, check this post by Lydia Sherman:
Are You out Working?