Monday, April 30, 2007

Vinegar - old-fashioned cleaning

Last week I had a major project of thoroughly washing and shining all the windows. This was the first time I tried using vinegar.
First, I washed the windows with soapy water, then wiped it away and washed again with regular clear water. It left the windows pretty much clean, but not very shiny.

For shiny windows, I made a solution of 2\3 water and 1\3 vinegar. I sprayed my windows with this solution, wiped it off with a clean cloth and then polished with some old newspapers.

I've read about this method on one of the frugal living websites I found through Google. I wish I could remember which, so I'd give them the credit! Anyway, I was very pleased, for a number of reasons:

1. It worked better than any commerical spray I tried before.

2. It's cheaper than any spray I could find, even with all the spring discounts on cleaning agents.

3. Minimizing contact with chemicals is better for our health and for the environment.

Anyway, I became a real vinegar fan now! Looking forward for more cleaning tips from you.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Second-class citizens?

Yesterday, as I opened a newspaper page, I came across an article titled 'Second-class citizens?'
It was short, but what a perfect example of feministic propaganda! Here's a quote from it:

"Equal opportunities for men and women exist only on paper. While women constitute about 50% of the workforce, 38% of working women, compared to only 17% of men, work part-time. Women are forced to work part-time because they have to do duties at home and take care of children."

When I read this, I felt like facing the author (who, by the way, chose to remain anonymous) and say, "Excuse me?"
This short paragraph portrays home and children as some kind of nuisance, an obstacle which stands in the way to some glorious career and doesn't allow a woman to devote herself to working full-time and doing "important things".

I really think this should be rephrased. How about:
"Women choose to work part-time because they want to have more time to take care of their children and their duties at home"?
I could also add:
"Many women work because they feel they have to, but would rather be home, taking care of their household and children. They try to work part-time, at least, and make most of the hours they do have at home."

And no, dear author, they don't feel like second-class citizens.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Questions I've been asked

Emily from 'Unfurling Flower' asked me some questions about my view of the role of a grown-up, unmarried daughter living at home. I would like to thank Emily for this 'interview', because it challenged me to put into words some things I haven't really defined for myself before.

You can read it here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Courtship vs. Dating - excellent post by Jordin

Jordin from "Paths of Peace" is making a series of posts explaining her view on the dangers of dating games and why courtship is preferable to dating. Take a peek at her excellent post here. I've just read it and it was... well, the very thing I needed to hear when I was 16 and no one ever told me.

We need to help young people understand that:
1) Dating leads to divorce.
Jordin mentions in her post that dating is like trying one outfit after another, and throwing it out when it doesn't fit. I brought up the same point in a post I made this month. Dating doesn't prepare us for marriage. Dating only prepares us for more dating, heartbreak, emotional and physical dangers.
2) If you want to be safe, avoid situations that lead you to temptation.
I would like to stand up and applaud Jordin for saying "If you want the best for your children, it's best they not be alone". When I bring up this point while talking to other young people, I get - how should I describe this? - sackfuls of rotten eggs: "What?! Are we animals? Can't we trust ourselves to control our impulses?!"
... well you know what, when you're on a diet, you don't keep a box of chocolates next to you to "test the strength of your self-control". I know it's a very crude comparison, but yes, we are humans and we are weak. Avoiding temptation is part of resisting it.

Yes, it may sound controversial, but I believe that ideally, courtship should proceed without touching at all (and that includes holding hands), and without being alone together. Even if young people are strong enough to resist temptation, physical contact clouds a person's mind and can only interfere with the main goal of courtship: finding out if the young man and woman are suitable for each other as potential spouses.

Thank you for bringing this up, Jordin. I will stay tuned for more eye-opening posts on this topic.

Brownies


When these came out of the oven, I felt a bit doubtful because they didn't look quite like they were supposed to. But they disappeared very fast. I didn't mention that I used this recipe because it was the easiest I could find :)
So here it is:
175 gr (6 oz) butter
30 gr (1 oz) grated dark chocolate
10 tbsp. sugar
2 eggs
55 gr (2 oz) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
55 gr (2 oz) chopped nuts
1 tsp. baking powder
Throw everything into a food processor and let it work for a couple of minutes. Bake for approximately 30 minutes (temp. 180C/350F).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"It was on sale!"

When I just began my path of trying to shop more frugally and save some money, I was often told: "Never pay full price for your food! Look for sales!"
I can't say that was bad advice; I did get some great deals when I looked for bargains. However, I also had to figure out a few "safety rules" that serve me when I go to the supermarket and see huge "SALE!" signs everywhere:

1) "Sale" doesn't mean it's the best deal you can get.
Wow, I told myself at the supermarket a couple of weeks ago, just look at this, I can get two bottles of detergent for the price of one! Excellent! But then I realized that even with the discount, the price is twice as much as a plain, cheap detergent I spotted on the lowest shelf. I took the cheaper detergent and it does the job just fine.

2) "Sale" doesn't mean you need it.
Another time, I was tempted to buy three packages of granola bars because they were on sale. But normally we don't eat granola bars at all! Buying something you don't really need and would never buy otherwise isn't such a great deal. Even if you didn't spend much on it, it's still unnecessary spending.

3) "Sale" doesn't mean you have to get a lot of it.
Buying in bulk is alright for items that can be stored for a long time, like canned food or toiletries. But I still remember the six packages of cream cheese Mom bought once; we ended up throwing half of it away. Not such a great bargain, huh?

To sum it up, before buying something on sale, I ask myself the following questions:
- Is it really a good deal, or is it expensive even with the reduced price?
- Is it an item I would need anyway?
- For how long can it be stored? Will I have time to use it up?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Orchid


My orchid is finally blooming! I have been waiting for this for so long.
You can also see my computer in the background. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Course assignment

"Make at least two suggestions explaining the possible interaction between the 3 variables: music volume, alcohol consumption and number of condoms sold in pubs and bars. State the dependent variables. Can one or more of the variables be both dependent and independent?"

Do you think this is some kind of tasteless joke? Nope, that's the course assignment I got a couple of days ago. As if there are no better examples to give so we can learn about market research methods. I suppose they thought explaining about prices and variability of products in grocery stores just doesn't do the trick anymore.

This is just one out of many encounters with inappropriate content I've experienced in my 3 years of college. But it's especially disturbing because this is actually a part of the study program. No, it probably doesn't outshine the time when a sex shop sold its produce (as "souvenirs") off a counter that was placed right in the middle of the campus. Or the constant promotion of bars, pubs, shows and parties (during one of which a girl has been raped after someone slipped a drug into her drink). Or the time when one of the teachers included jumping playboy girls in her presentation.

Again and again I ask myself: is college an appropriate place for a young lady? I don't want to be judgmental. I simply tell the facts.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The "Have It All" Myth

A couple of days ago, I found an interesting article through LAF. The article is a bit long, so for those who don't have time to read it all, I'll explain briefly: a group of feminists protests against the simple fact that many top positions require insane hours in order to be successful. Their solution – instead of acknowledging that not many women are ready to sacrifice everything else in order to reach the top of the ladder – would be "creating a field that allows them to score the same number of points while spending less time in the game".

I liked the article, but even more, I liked a comment that was made by a reader who described herself as an "old-fashioned feminist". It was long and elaborate. Here are a few parts of it:
"Personally I think it's about bloody time that women woke up and realized that you can't ride two horses in two different races and win them both.
As an old fashioned feminist, I long ago realized that a high-pressure, long-hours, irregular working day business is something that is suitable for men and for women who are willing to work like men. I choose to work like a man."

When I compared myself with this woman, I thought we are completely different on many things – our aspirations, ambitions, hopes, ideals, decisions, choices, way of life, and the list goes on. She chose to work like a man. I refuse to do that – because I don't want to, because I don't think it would be good for myself, my household or my family, because that wasn't God's design. Even if I never have a husband and will have to work to support myself, it won't be a time-consuming, competitive career that will require me to work and behave like a man.
But we do agree on one thing. I, too, think it's impossible to "ride two horses in two different races and win them both". A career woman who keeps her home reasonably clean and supplies meals on time might proudly claim she "has it all", but is it true?

In her comment to my post, "Living on One Income", Candy wrote:
"And how in the world do they keep up with their homes and meals? I always wonder that.Because if I had to work, I would have to hire maid service to keep up my home. I don't know… unless they are supermoms or something, I just don't get it."

I replied:
"I believe it is technically possible to deal with cleaning, provide meals etc, while working full time. A woman COULD come from work around 6 or 7 pm, rush through the house with a vacuum cleaner and mop and pop some convenience food into the microwave. But that doesn't equal the time and effort a homemaker puts into making her house a home. When I visit, I can tell the difference between a house that has peace and order, that has been lovingly arranged and which smells of fresh cookies, and a house that has been grudgingly cleaned when the woman is exhausted and frustrated."
I'll say more. Hiring a cook and a maid can turn a house into a perfectly clean hotel room. A homemaker is something completely different – her loving presence, her sense of creativity, her attention to the family's intimate needs nobody but her could know – all those make the spirit of her home. In the past, rich ladies had maids, cooks, nannies and private teachers, and they didn't feel they have nothing to do at home. They occupied their time by managing and organizing their household, being there for their family, pursuing feminine arts; many of them could play the piano and spoke several languages (no brainless doormats here!). And nobody asked them what they "do". Their presence was what mattered. Without it, we don't have a home. Money can supply elaborate meals, squeaky clean windows and professionally decorated interior. But not a place we can call home.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Peanut butter cookies















This one is another family favorite. Great for all the peanut-butter lovers!
Here's the recipe:

3\4 cup peanut butter
2 oz margarine
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla sugar
1 egg
1\2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1\3\4 cup plain flour

Mix peanut butter, margarine, sugar, water and vanilla sugar; add egg, salt, baking powder and flour. Form cookies and bake for 15 minutes (temp. 180C or 350F)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Growing Up = Moving Out?

A couple of weeks ago, I made a post called "The Blessing of a Daughter at Home". In that post, I talked about how a family can benefit from having a grown-up daughter that chooses to remain at home instead of moving out and living on her own or with roommates.

Today I would like to talk about the other side of the story – the daughter who continues to live under her parents' roof while her peers are moving out one after another. So what about her? Is she making some sort of noble sacrifice, giving up the freedom and independence she could have had if she hadn't chosen to stay with her family? Is she missing out on fun and experience?

Many of you probably know I'm one such woman. I'm about to graduate from college and I already get a lot of questions, such as: "Well? Have you started looking for an apartment to rent? When are you moving out?"
Imagine how this trickle of questions will turn into a flood if I'm not married in a couple of years and continue living with my family "without an apparent reason"!

To say it simply, I enjoy living at home. I don't see it as a sacrifice or handicap; I'm blessed by having an opportunity to help and serve my family, but I also think I'm much better off at home than at some shabby rented apartment, spending my evenings alone or with a couple of random roommates.

Many young people claim you can't learn to take care of yourself until you've moved out. That one always puzzled me. Why can't we learn to take care of ourselves – and others – while living at home? I know twenty-somethings who never bothered to learn how to cook or clean before they moved out. Why, though? Is there some magic barrier between them and the kitchen? A friend of mine is 23 years old; she has no idea how to operate a washing machine. Another twenty-something never did grocery shopping for her family or mopped the floor anywhere but her own room.

Another common argument for moving out as early as possible is "freedom". You'd be independent and free if you moved out, I'm told. No one would ever nag. No one would ask you to help out in the kitchen or run some errands when you'd rather read a good book. No one would ask when you're going to be home; you can come and go as you please. No one would wrinkle their nose if there's a pile of dishes in the sink. Isn't that grand?
Yep, I could be free. Free from responsibilities, free from having to count with other people, free from having to worry about anyone's needs but my own.
You know what, I'd rather not.

Here's a paradox: most people want to have a family someday. Yet the single years are portrayed as glamorous and put on a pedestal. No wonder there's so much dissatisfaction when party-time is over and diaper-changing time comes. People pass from the role of rebellious teenagers to that of carefree young singles, and miss out on learning to be an adult who functions in a family, contributes to its well-being and faces obligations and requirements.

I can't ignore the financial issue, either. I didn't put it on top of my list, but it's definitely something to consider. Not having to pay for rent saves a lot of money; instead, it can be placed in a saving program and used later in a better way (when I say "better way" I don't mean buying the most expensive clothes or going out as much as you like).

Sure, I could live with roommates, and then my rent would be much cheaper. But who promises they will be a positive influence? As a student, I chose a college near home so I wouldn't have to live on the campus. I know there were drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. There was even a case of rape during a party. I successfully avoided that for 3 years. Why start now?

I understand circumstances can be different. People might decide to move out for a variety of reasons. What I speak about is the general attitude that moving out as early as possible is desirable, and that wild party life stimulates maturity and personal growth. I love living at home, I know I'm needed at home, and that's where I choose to remain.

Friday, April 20, 2007

My home-management binder

When I first read about the idea of home-management binders on "Noble Womanhood", I was fascinated. "That looks great!" – I told myself. However, I thought something like this is only meant for married ladies, who have large homes, children, and vegetable gardens. Would it work for a young unmarried woman who only has a small household to manage?

Then I decided to give it a try. After all, I already used shopping lists, to-do lists and a menu planner; I had a daily planner and a book of recipes which I had collected and where I put notes with new recipes I haven't had the time to try just yet. All those resulted in a mess of small and large pieces of paper scattered all around. I decided it will make sense to keep them all in one place.

The home-management binder I eventually made has 3 sections:
1) Home – this is where I keep my "Universal daily to-do list", my "Weekly shopping and cleaning list", small shopping and to-do lists, and of course, coupons.
2) Projects – this is a section for things that take some time to plan and do, and includes current and possible future projects. For example: cleaning in spots I reach only occasionally, crafts, home decoration ideas and things that need to be repaired. This is also where I put bills that need to be paid. Whenever I have some free time, I look into this section and see what needs to be done. It helps me use my time wisely.
3) Food – a section for new recipes I will try when there's time and for original menu and table decoration ideas.

And you know what; this little binder has been tremendously helpful. I'm usually praised for my excellent memory and organization skills, but the truth is that I'm actually a horribly unorganized person, and I'd forget most of what I need to do unless I wrote that down. That's precisely why I need to keep all of my errands in perfect order – or prepare for a disaster.

I would love to hear about your practice of home organization!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Living on One Income

Is it possible to live on one income? Yes, I think it is, simply because that's how things have always been in our family. Since we never got any source of financial support from my father, Mom had to work and we lived off her salary, which was never too big.
True, we could never afford a car (without going into debt), and the area we live in isn't something. We couldn't go abroad every year, eat out as often as we wanted, or buy plenty of new clothes every season. Our apartment is tiny, until not long ago we used a computer that was nearly my age, and as a child I knew I would have to put up with my schoolbag until it can't be fixed anymore.

However, we had a decent life, even during an especially tough period when Mom had to do cleaning and babysitting jobs to put some food on our table. We never had to sleep under a bridge; we never went hungry. When Mom took a loan, she returned it soon enough. As times improved and income grew steadily – not to something impressive, just average – Mom started putting a considerable amount into savings.
So, yes, we didn't live this way out of choice. But it only shows living on one income can be done. Yes, it will probably mean living modestly, within one's means, being careful about saving and spending. But it doesn't mean living on welfare.

If it can be done because there is no other choice, it can also be planned well and done out of a conscious decision. If a single woman can manage her finances well, it must be even easier for a married couple, when a woman stands behind her husband's back.
Deciding whether to have a second income or not is an individual decision, of course, but many people make this choice simply because they think there's absolutely no way they can survive otherwise.

I know many families where the wife has an uninteresting, low-paying job; she's overstressed with duties both at work and at home, but she continues working, because she is sure the family will not survive without her income. Yet she doesn't have time to plan and manage her finances, and spends unwisely; when all is said and done, there's not much left of the "second income". The thought that a family can't live on one income is now so deeply ingrained in our minds that often we don't even check how true it is; we forget that for many centuries, nobody even thought of pushing a wife and a mother out there, into the workforce, to compete with men, to collapse while trying to "have it all together".

I can't know for sure God will send me a husband, and I don't know where life will lead me. But I do know who I want to be – a wife that is a helpmeet to her husband, a gracious woman who makes her house a home, a mother that doesn't miss even one day of her children's lives. When a child grows up, will he or she feel sorry for never having all those expensive toys and brand new clothes? I don't think so! We remember precious moments spent with our family, with our parents and siblings; simple joys, quiet evenings, and just being there for each other; no money can ever pay for that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Apple cake


I found the recipe on LAF some time ago, and it soon became a family favorite! It's easy to make and delicious. I make it whenever there's nothing to serve with tea and I don't have much time. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wasting time in relationships that lead nowhere

[Not for very young readers]

Once again, I got an idea for another post from something Tracy said in her comment to "Pickiness".
Tracy wrote: "I think today, women waste too much time with the wrong man. They somehow know that he isn't right, but continue dating him anyway. This, I fear, leads to delayed marriage as much as anything else."

Well, what can I say? Bingo!
These days, people spend much more time dating, "getting to know each other" and "deciding if this is the perfect person" than was common 50 and even 20 years ago. When my mother was young, a man who dated a woman for a couple of months and didn't bring up marriage wasn't considered a serious, mature person. A man who dated a woman and avoided meeting her family was untrustworthy. Now both are common and generally accepted.

"Me"-oriented upbringing, unwillingness to commit, deterioration of traditional morals and family values – all those create a situation when even two mature adults, who know they can probably make a great couple, go through an extended period of hesitation and dillydalling before they finally decide it's time for marriage. People date for years, something that was unheard of a couple of generations ago. It is now considered "unwise" to get married without "trying what it will really be like" by living together. This is something I heard from many sensible and intelligent adults. When I asked them how come divorce rates are higher among people who live together prior to marriage, none of them could give a satisfactory answer.

Now look at the paradox: dating for such a long period of time and living together before deciding on marriage is supposed to allow us to "get to know each other better" and "know what to expect in marriage", thus it's supposed to lower divorce rates. In fact, it works the opposite way. Why? Let's get back to that later.

Our culture pressures us to start relationships early, and date aimlessly. A 16-year-old girl is pressured by her peers and encouraged by her parents to have a boyfriend, when it's clear to everyone it will probably not lead to marriage. This is supposed to give us "valuable experience". She is supposed to "practice" the sacred relationship she will have with her husband, knowing it's not for real and won't last, then throw it away and begin new "practice" with someone else! I don't know anything more senseless and ridiculous. Yet this is so common nowadays people don't even think about it anymore.

When we get older, we are even more pressured to have "someone". The problem is, women aren't equipped with knowledge of what to look for in a man; focusing on chemistry, superficial pleasure and immediate gratification often leads to choosing the wrong person, and premature sexual contact with that person creates unhealthy emotional glue that attaches a woman to a man who might be anything but a suitable potential husband.

Sexual relationships create an emotional bond? Nonsense, feminists will say. We use men just as much as men use us. No strings attached!
What a dirty great lie.

Another thing that makes me wonder how come educated, intelligent people seem to lose their logic when it comes to relationships: it is common to start dating without thinking where it might lead. Yes, people spend time together, bond with each other, build physical and emotional contact for many months before asking themselves – where is this going? Is this person a potential spouse? What do I know about this person at all?
They wouldn't think of going to college or starting a career without having any plan. But while making the most important decision – choosing a lifelong mate – this is the common practice.

Usually, the woman is the first to become concerned. She has a conversation with her boyfriend, and too late, much too late, finds out she's dating Peter Pan. He mumbles about "not being ready for marriage" and "well, I never told you I'm going to marry you when we started dating!" Reluctantly, he agrees to "try living together".

Eager to show him how much he will benefit from marriage, the woman does everything she can to "prove herself". She is patient, tolerant, she never says no. She cooks and cleans and shops and does everything to please her boyfriend; he realizes he gets unlimited sexual gratification and free housekeeping without having to commit to marriage and family. And guess what, he is perfectly content with the present situation. He doesn't want to make a change.

In the best case, such a man might marry his girlfriend in a couple of years, after realizing he became attached to her and doesn't want to lose her. I know a man who had two children with his girlfriend before she could convince him to marry her, and he made the "noble sacrifice" for his children's sake, even though he "didn't feel ready yet"!

In the worst case, when the cohabitating couple encounters a conflict or a tough period (and folks, don't we know they are bound to happen sometimes when people live together?), the man might decide this is just too inconvenient. Since he hasn't made any commitment, there is nothing easier for him that to pack his suitcase and disappear forever.

Suppose the woman was around 25 when this relationship started. That's around the normative age these days to start "seriously thinking" about marriage. She spent 3 years dating this man and 2 years living with him. She is now 30, and has to start all over again with someone new.

So why didn't it work for that couple? Living together is not like marriage. Neither is it preparation for marriage. The man who lived together with this woman never became committed to her; his entire attitude said plainly enough "we're just playing house; whenever I'm tired of this game, I'm leaving". If that's the attitude, why work things out when times get tough, if he can so easily leave and start a new romance? And he did. A disagreement which the average married couple would have worked out, made this overgrown Peter Pan run as fast as his legs could carry him.

But what about getting to know each other? Isn't this essential when you look for a spouse? Yes, but you know what – it doesn't have to take years to decide. If both of the young people are marriage-minded, and focus on finding out about the qualities that will be important in marriage, it really doesn't have to take this long to make the decision! I'm convinced that the correct dating strategy can allow a much shorter courtship.

Going to movies or clubs together, or just "hanging out" might be fun, but how will it help in getting to know each other better? Same goes for physical contact. It might be fun, but it clouds people's minds and doesn't allow them to focus on finding out about the potential spouse's personality. That's why it should only come after we have answers to the essential questions we need to ask. After we decide whether to make a commitment or not. In the sacred and blessed bond of marriage.

Young people could spare themselves lots of heartache and wasted time if they kept focus on what really matters, and talked seriously about marriage from the beginning of their courtship.

First, of course, it is essential to find out whether both of you are, indeed, looking for a spouse. If one is serious about this and the other one isn't, it's a deal-breaker (or it can become a heart-breaker!). Do you share common life goals? How do you see your future family? Do you feel safe with this person? How does your date treat his or her family – or, if you don't have a chance to meet his family, other people? Is he patient and respectful with them? If yes, consider yourself blessed. If he's nice to you but shouts at the waitress because his pizza got cold, he will shout at you too, once he's tired of putting on his best appearance. Are you fine with the way this person is now, or is there something about them you can't imagine living with and plan to change?

Sure, you can never find out "everything" about the other person. Married people still find out new things about each other after 10, 20 and 30 years of marriage! Neither can you have insurance on your marriage. The only way is commitment, and patience, and love. Is a mother concerned she might "fall out of love" with her baby, or that she doesn't know her baby well enough to make a lifetime commitment?! Of course not! So why not take some of that brave and selfless love and apply it to marriage?

You might decide it won't work out for the two of you. But you can do it without wasting so much precious time. And there are different situations in life. I'm not saying everyone should run off and marry after three dates. The important part is the direction your courtship is taking from the very beginning.

Relationships that go nowhere drain time and energy like nothing else. This is not God's design. This is not what He has in plan for us. We are not called to become one flesh and one soul with many different people, but with only one person: our spouse. I talk from experience – before I was blessed by seeing how evil and senseless the paths of this world might be, I made every possible mistake. That's why, even though I'm not married yet, I feel I can and should talk about it and warn others.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pickiness

In her comment to my previous post on single women, Tracy wrote:
"…Another friend I know, I fear was too picky. She had several suitors, all godly men, but she waited for someone "better" to come along. Maybe this was right, maybe not. She is now 40, and remains unmarried. She wonders where Mr. Right is..."

Reading this left me thinking. I don't think anyone would suggest we should seize the first opportunity we have, the first man who shows interest in us, without even asking ourselves if he's suitable. Sure, we need to make a wise choice. But where's the thin line between choice and pickiness?

If a man is unkind to you, impatient, lazy (to the degree he doesn't feel ready to provide for the family), shows the markings of a future abusive husband - raises his voice, criticizes you, makes you feel unworthy – rejecting him is probably a wise choice.
Rejecting someone you like, someone you feel attracted to and think he's generally suitable for you, because of things like him not having a college degree, his or his family's background, his manner of dressing, height, the sound of his name (yes, yes, I witnessed this once) or anything else that is superficial and doesn't really have to do with his personality, his mind and soul – can probably be defined as pickiness.

Oh, and let's not forget the most dangerous pickiness factor, the one Tracy mentioned – "waiting for someone 'better' to come along". Isn't there always a chance of missing out on someone better if we choose too quickly?
Suppose I went out on a beautiful spring day and wanted to pick a flower – just one. Naturally, I want to choose the one and only, the perfect flower! But I know I don't have all day to wander out there and look for it; and if I look carefully, I will notice each and every flower is perfect in its own way, in its unique beauty. So the sensible thing would be to look around me and pick the one I like best, and delight in its beauty without thinking of the Perfect Flower that might still be growing out there…

However, let us not be hasty in labeling someone "picky"! Not every guy can be "Mr. Right". Not even every great guy can be Mr. Right! What if a nice young woman goes out with a nice young man, then calls her best friend and tells her, frustrated: "I'm sorry, everything about him is wonderful, but he's not for me!"? Can we call her picky?
I don't really have answers. I'm still single myself.

Some time ago, I came across a very good, sensible article, called "The Cost of Delaying Marriage"
I think every single woman (and man, for that matter) could benefit from reading it.
At the time it was published, this article received plenty of complaints and scorching remarks. However, I tend to agree with it, and I also enjoyed reading the counter-arguments in "Defending 'The Cost of Delaying Marriage'"

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"But what if I never get married?!"

Isn't this the secret fear of so many women – and even girls? We would be much more patient and willing to wait for God's perfect time if we knew for sure it WILL come.
Waiting is easy enough for a 16-year-old girl, who feels she has plenty of time ahead of her. It's not too bad for a 21-year-old like me, even though I already feel how quickly years are passing by. But what will happen if I turn 30, 35, 40 – and find myself still single? Am I still going to trust God, accept His plan for me? What about the day when I realize I can't have children anymore? Will I still praise God and make most of the blessings he gave me?

Marriage and children are so natural for a woman, and happen in such an overwhelming majority of cases, that trying to discuss one's possibilities as an older single usually gets responses such as these:
"But you're young, how come you're thinking about something like this?!"
"I know a very nice man who could be just the one for you…"
"Oh, don't be so silly; OF COURSE you will get married, just like everyone else!"

I agree one shouldn't give up too quickly and say "I'm probably called to singleness" – we all know women who got married and had children later in life. I also agree a woman can be more active in her search for a husband (praying is the first, but not only, thing to do). But some women – not many – will remain single. I know a few who did.
You can say they were probably career-focused, irresponsible, or unwilling to start a family until it was too late. Maybe you're right. But don't we all know many women who weren't marriage-minded at all and still got married and had children? The ultimate reason why some women don't get married is because God didn't have it in His plan for them.

I've read dozens of articles, essays and books for single women, and while all of them contained messages I agree with – that a woman shouldn't think "real life" only begins once she gets married, that we should be patient, full of faith, pray for a husband while making most of our single years – most of the time, the singleness is only regarded as a "period" in one's life; yes, a period of a few months or many years, but still – a period. Not many discuss the issue of women who will remain single and speak of possible options for them.

I can't say that at 21, I've already defined a plan of "what I'm going to do if I never get married". But I do know that whatever happens, I have two options: I can become desperate, bitter, lose my faith, succumb to feelings of frustration, envy, discontentment and emptiness, and feel my life has no purpose. Or I can seek God with all my heart, do His will, believe He has a plan for me, love the people around me and do everything I can for them, and live day by day, joyfully, with a smile on my face, with a gentle, loving heart.
Somehow, I think I already know which one I prefer.

Maybe I'm idealistic. Maybe this is harder than I think. Maybe I can't imagine the agony of a 45-year-old single, childless woman, who tries her best to keep a cheerful smile during weddings, or while babysitting for women twenty years younger than herself.
But no matter if my singleness is temporary or permanent – who knows? - I want to do God's will with a feeling of peace and contentment. I want to be a blessing to those who surround me. I want to make my life worthwhile.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My cat

Just thought I'd share a couple of pictures of my cat.

Here she is sleeping. Isn't she a cutie?














These were taken when I found her in my closet. She has the most annoyed look in her eyes because she knows she's been caught! You can also notice she's odd-eyed.














Friday, April 13, 2007

A tribute to my grandmother

My maternal grandmother, Magdalina, was born in a small village in Transylvania in 1916, the second of seven siblings. A short time before World War II, she met my grandfather in Romania. They fled to USSR and got married there.
Their life wasn't easy. Stalin's repressions got them shipped off to Siberia, to live in a tiny settlement in the middle of nowhere. Both of them worked hard, but still they could barely get by. Often the only food on their table was what they managed to collect in the forest. After the war ended, they were allowed to move back south, but not out of USSR. For many years, Grandma couldn't contact her remaining family. It only happened in the '60-s (don't remember the exact year). Her parents and sister were slaughtered, but she still had five brothers. How joyful she must have been when she found out they were alive!

Grandma and Grandpa never had much money, or any of the things we usually regard as "average lifestyle". They couldn't afford a car, fancy clothes, or trips abroad. Or even as much food as they could have wanted. As a matter of fact, the variety of products was small, and often Grandma would stand in line for hours in order to buy milk or eggs. They only got their own phone line and TV in the 70-s. Health care was not what we have today, either, and one of their 4 children died as a baby.

But whatever happened, they knew how to stay together and true to each other, and how to treat each other with generosity and love. Mom told me she never heard Grandma or Grandpa raise their voices, or speak unkindly to each other or to any person. They didn't dwell on things they couldn't have, and tried to make most of what they had. In the evenings, Grandma and her two daughters would sew or crochet together. They had a garden, which supplied them with fresh fruit, vegetables and berries, and the whole family worked there together.

... Now Grandma is 91, and has been a widow for many years. However, she is still full of joy and life, and enjoyes cooking, knitting and watching football championships. She lives with us, and we feel blessed to have her.

Grandma was about 25 when this was taken (sorry it's a bit blurry):




















Grandma (center) with me and Mom's cousin:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thoughts on International Women's Day

International Women's Day (March 8-th) passed a long time ago, but I still want to share a few thoughts I had back then.

The fresh newspaper I unfolded that day contained a long, detailed article about the position of women at the job market. "It is disturbing," – it said, - "that women still earn so much less than men, and occupy fewer key positions." The author (a woman, by the way) later suggested an enforced "correction", so that there would be an 1:1 male-female balance at ALL occupations – especially those women tend to choose less often, like engineering. She finished by saying women should be encouraged to work longer hours, by keeping daycare open until late in the evening.

It was all written in the name of "women's rights".
I ran through it again. Did the author miss something?
Ah, yes. A minor detail. Freedom of choice.
Aren't we living in a society of equal rights for men and women? Don't women have access to high education and any kind of work? Of course! Then how come men and women tend to choose differently? That would be, I suppose, because we ARE different - biologically, psychologically and socially. Why on earth is it so difficult for some individuals to live with that simple fact?

The second point bothered me even more. Perhaps the author wants to work longer hours, but what about women who don't? What about women who choose to work less hours in order to spend more time with their family – or even – hold your breath! – choose to dedicate themselves to serving their husband, keeping a home and raising children?

The author didn't just ignore the women (and there are plenty) who would be more than happy to give up the dubious "right" to neglect their home, give their toddlers to daycare, bring home a salary, a large part of which is consumed by taxes and work-related expenses, and end up feeling exhausted, frustrated and torn apart;
She also ignored the financial (not to mention emotional and social) contribution of stay-at-home wives and mothers. She disregarded the fact that a stay-at-home wife - even if she doesn't have any sort of home business - means a major cut in a family's expenses: the need for a second vehicle is pretty much diminished, money spent on daycare, babysitting and other hired help is dramatically reduced, meals are cooked from scratch, shopping is planned more carefully, the home is more organized – all of which doesn't only save money directly, but also allows the husband to feel more confident and relaxed, and concentrate better on work. When he comes home, he doesn't meet a harassed, career-consumed, competitive woman. He has better support – and he earns more. It makes sense, and was proved statistically.

Dear author, I'm perfectly happy being a woman, thank you very much. I delight in the feminine arts. I don't need a fat paycheck to feel I'm worthy, or that my rights are taken care of.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I really should have been more careful...

... about the "Thinking Blogger Award". After reading Jordin's post and checking the information, I realized I linked to a website with inappropriate content. I apologize to anyone who might have followed the link from my blog.
I will be more careful in the future.

Geranium

My geraniums are finally blooming! I've been waiting for this. What a lovely, lovely spring :)



Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Small Changes, Big Savings

When I first made the resolution to cut on grocery, electricity and telephone bills, it didn't come easy. I've never been a big spender, but I was used to just grab whatever brand we usually bought, without comparing prices or looking for specials. Whenever I felt hot or cold, I turned on the air conditioner. Whenever I had a free hour, I picked up the phone.
I knew I wanted to change this; but calculating all the time, looking for a cheaper brand, stretching or just doing without – it was all so frustrating; I mean, come on, it's pennies we're talking about – does it really matter?
… Until I sat down with a calculator and saw how much we can save – or spend - in a year. I started with small things that were easier to calculate (we all know how much we spend on a cup of coffee, but it's much more difficult to estimate the cost of our average phone call!). I counted snacks I bought outside once or twice a week while waiting for the bus, expensive brands of shampoo, convenient small packages we bought once a week instead of buying a jumbo package once a month.
Guess what, before I was even close to the end, I realized we're talking about thousands of dollars here! Thousands of dollars that could be added to our family budget, but instead were lost in the "Where Did All the Money Go?" grey zone.
Did I say I was not a big spender? Well, I didn't go out as often as some of my friends did, and my clothes were usually not very expensive. But when I think of the money we're saving now, I realize we've been horribly unwise.
When you think of making a change that might save you money, but then discard it as small and insignificant, I encourage you to think of how much you could save IN A YEAR. Take something you buy on a regular basis; could you get it cheaper? Even slightly cheaper? Think it's not worth the effort? Count what you could save in a year, making even just this one small change. Does it still seem insignificant? Think what you could do with that sum. Maybe you could buy a present for a loved one, or give to charity, or save. I'm almost certain you could find better uses for that money!
I'm a big yogurt-lover. Instead of buying sweet yogurt with fruit, I switched to plain unsweetened yogurt; when I feel like it, I can add honey, fruit or homemade granola. This ALONE saves about a 100 dollars (!) a year. I can find a thousand better uses for an extra 100 dollars a year!
Our battle with the "Where Did All the Money Go?" monster is endless and draining. It requires a lot of endurance. Often we are tempted to submit to convenience instead of thriftiness, and think it doesn't really matter. Calculating what it will all add up to in one year has been a great motivator for me. Waiting to hear about your motivators. :)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Some more crocheting

Here are two more items I made lately.
Mom kept telling me how she misses her white scarf that got lost somehow, so I gave her this one instead:














One of our drawers looked like it could do with some decoration, so I made this doily:
(The funny part is that both of these were made during bus trips :) I do spend a lot of time in the bus.)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

No Father To Protect You?

I would like to dedicate this to all the young ladies out there who were born into a world touched by feminism, egalitarianism, deterioration of family values – and who rejected what the world has to offer, in favor of something better, deeper, in a noble attempt to build a new world around them.
I speak to you and pray for you – you, who have been born to a ruined family, or a family where everybody are self-absorbed and "family time" is nonexistent; you, whose father was not present in your life; you, who'd fall asleep, waiting for a goodnight kiss from Mom, but she was never there. You have seen egocentrism, greed, immorality and vanity. You have been taught nothing is secure and therefore nothing is worth committing to. You have been taught your worth equals your paycheck, and the path to happiness is earning as much as you can, and then spending it all. As a child, you probably received too little attention and guidance, and too many toys and clothes. It is possible you had no siblings, and therefore didn't learn the joy of giving and sharing.
And there you stand, horrified, looking at what our society has become, and saying: "No! This is not what I want. I want to do things differently. I want to make a change. I want to be a respectful daughter, and a lady, and have a beautiful family, pray to God and experience the simple joys of life. I want to be a helpmeet to my husband and a joyful mother of children. I want to make my life full by serving others rather than following selfish ambitions. I don't care about what's 'normal' or 'popular'; I want to do what's right!"
No one is immune to social pressure and corrupting influence, but it is more difficult for those who have never experienced a loving touch of their father's hand, who have never seen a family built upon God's design. Sometimes it's hard to believe it's possible to do things differently. Sometimes it seems impossible there are actually happy marriages out there, based on fidelity and respect, and a mother who is always there for her children, and daughters whose father extends a protective wing over them; it seems like a fairy tale. Who could count the young women who cry into their pillow, thinking, "I want that too, I'd give anything to have it! But I don't know how – no one ever told me"?
Pray. Know that if you have no earthly father, your Heavenly Father is watching even closer over you. Praise Him for planting these desires in your heart, for making you love Him and turn to Him, no matter what the world might have to offer. You are a King's daughter.
Pray and hope. There is hope, even if you took the wrong path, even if you feel desperate at the moment! Remember that "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill".
Doubt can overcome you very easily. Find people who share similar convictions. Treasure the gift of friendship and guidance from older women who have walked a similar path. But most importantly, pray.
Ladies, I am one of you. I wish I had a miraculous solution, but I don't. All I can offer is sincere prayer of my humble heart. I pray for strength and commitment, and for husband and children; I pray for making a difference.
And every day, I feel my prayer takes me further and further from where I used to be.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Creative Vegetarian Lasagna

This is my favorite way of utilizing leftover veggies! That's why I call it "creative" – practically anything can go in, in any proportions, and it's still good. I just look into my refrigerator, and when I see I have some veggies that are not so fresh anymore, or I'm just not sure what to do with them, I chop them, toss them into a large pot and sautee with some olive or canola oil until almost soft. Today, it was:

1 large onion
1 large carrot
2 small eggplants
1 large zucchini
1 large red pepper
1 tomato

Of course, I also added salt, pepper, paprika, some garlic and aromatic herbs. Eventually the layers went like this (in a rectangular baking tray):

* A layer of pasta
* A layer of veggies
* Some cottage cheese on top of veggies (leftover, too. I sometimes use sour cream)
* Another layer of pasta
* Another layer of veggies
* And some grated cheese on top. I like a generous amount of cheese!
The whole thing then went into the oven (350F/180C) for around 1 hour. And here's the final result:

Thursday, April 5, 2007

From Pants To Skirts (and other decisions regarding modesty)

For a while, I have wanted to describe my transition to more modest and feminine attire. It started a couple of years ago, and was such a curious period in my life – the time between the moment when I first realized I don't want to continue dressing like Britney Spears, and right now, when I can say I have found a style I am more or less comfortable with.
Of course, it happened gradually. I think the first change I made was making sure my midriff was covered at all times. My chest and knees went next. The latest changes I committed myself to were wearing shirts that covered my elbow, and keeping my legs entirely covered. Another change I made during that period was getting rid of clothes that were too tight or too flashy.
And I didn't even begin talking about skirts! Prior to making The Big Change, I had no skirts in my wardrobe and had no idea how to wear them or move in them. But after trying skirts for a bit, I've realized how feminine they are, how they almost always look more modest than pants, and how much better they fit me (when shopping for pants, I often had the feeling they are not made for someone with hips). I switched to skirts entirely; right now, I only make an exception when I clean, sleep or exercise, and when I get married (God willing) I do not wish my husband to see me wearing pants at all.
The transition didn't always go smoothly. There was a period when one day, I'd wear a long skirt and a lovely modest blouse, and the next day, I could be found in a pair of torn jeans a t-shirt that was a tad too tight. Sometimes I'd realize my heels are too high, I'm wearing too much makeup or my accessories are too attracting.
There were also moments of frustration when I discovered the shops in my area offer a very small variety of modest clothes. That was a time for finding creative solutions like searching second-hand shops, wearing layers, making alterations and swapping with friends. Naturally, every woman's style is individual and there's plenty of room for creativity – it can be simple, elegant, hip, romantic, modern, retro or anything in between, but whatever we choose, we must remember we are King's daughters and should dress and act accordingly ("The King's Daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold" Psalm 45:13).

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Easy and Delicious Pie

Easy and Delicious Pie

I decided to share the recipe, because it really is delicious and easy – the proof of it is that even a beginner baker like me is successful time after time in making it. :-) I usually make it with strawberries, but it's also delicious with plums, apricots, peaches and cherries.

You will need:
3 eggs
1,5 cups of sugar
5 oz of butter or margarine
1 cup flour
1 cup of fruit or berries of your choosing (suggested here: strawberry)

Step 1: making the pie crust
Take 3 eggs. Carefully separate egg yolks from egg whites (for me, it's the most difficult part!). Put egg whites away, add 3\4 cup of sugar to egg yolk and mix.
Add around 5 oz butter or margarine (softened or melted), mix.
Add flour – around 1 cup, but you can add more if there is need to. The dough isn't supposed to be too soft. Baking soda or baking powder is an option, I don't add any.
Evenly spread the dough in one layer in a baking tray. I use a round one, with diameter approximately 25 cm (10 inches). Put into a pre-heated oven (temperature should be 350F, or 180C) for about half an hour (the dough shouldn't be completely ready at this point).

Step 2: making the filling and topping
Take the fruit or berries of your choosing and cut it the way you like. As you can see in the picture, I used strawberries and cut them in half. Arrange fruit on top of the ready pie crust.















Take the egg whites you separated earlier, and whip while adding slowly 3\4 cup of sugar. You have finished whipping when you have a firm, non-liquid foam. Spread egg whites on top of fruit (see picture).















Lower the oven temperature by about 20 degrees. Put in the pie and wait for about another half hour (might take longer). The top should be nice off-white when ready. Enjoy!







Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Blessing of a Daughter at Home

Being a daughter at home doesn't mean being a financial burden. A creative, hard-working daughter can be a blessing to her family (yes, financially as well) while developing the techniques of spending less and stretching every penny that will be very useful someday for a stay-at-home wife and mother. Here are a few humble ideas I have been practicing for a while:

* Ever since I realized I'm good with numbers, comparing prices, finding the best deals and so on, I have taken hold of all the grocery shopping. I don't just scribble a shopping list hastily before going to the store – I keep it near me all the time, and whenever we use something up or run out of something, I put it on the list right away. I also made a list of items we always need to have in the house, so I can compare my weekly list with the big list.

* My mother has excellent skills in cooking, baking and canning, but she doesn't always have time and strength to do it all. Her knowledge and my energy make a great combination, and I've learned to cook and bake from scratch, so we only buy basic products. We make our own marmalade and can our own vegetables. When we do sometimes buy cucumbers in brine, I recycle the brine – just put fresh cucumbers in it, and in a couple of days, voila – they are salty and crunchy.

* Don't waste! I use old jars for storing home-made marmalade, old supermarket bags for our trash and old clothes for dusting. I wash dishes by hand and I dry all of our clothes on an old-fashioned clothes line. In the evenings, rather than turn on the lights in all our rooms, we sit together in one room. It saves electricity, and it's great family time!

* Being humble and keeping things simple is the best, and most obvious, advice I can give. I never waste much money on clothes. I replaced expensive personal care products with cheaper ones (baby soap works just as good for my skin as pricey "cleansing gel", and petroleum jelly is a great moisturizer); I keep my hairstyle simple, so my mother can cut my hair when needed.

* Last but not least, earning money can be an option without tearing oneself from home and neglecting one's duties. I have been tutoring young children since I've been a teenager. I also take translating and typing jobs when offered. Of course, this is an area where every young lady can be creative and play to her own strengths. I'm not saying a daughter can't be a blessing to her parents if she doesn't earn anything, but if she has skills or talents she can easily turn into money, why not give it a try?

Any young lady can be creative and think of many different ways to help her family while living at home. And I don't mean only young girls, either. Personally, if I get married late, or if marriage is not in God's plans for me at all, I intend to continue living with my mother and helping her in every way I can.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Crocheting


Crocheting is one of my favorite pursuits! I started learning from my mother only last summer, and soon became "hooked" :-) Don't get me wrong, I also love knitting, embroidery and sewing, but crocheting is convenient because that little hook doesn't take up much space and can be carried practically anywhere. I crochet during breaks and while waiting for a doctor's appointment, and even in the bus!

Above, you can see one of my first attempts in crocheting.

On the left, you can see a picture of me in our living room, working on my new summer project (see picture below).

This winter's projects: a shawl and a vest. I had some help from my mother with the shawl at the beginning, but the vest was made entirely by me :-)




A new project: this is meant to be a light summer top, worn over a plain one-color cotton t-shirt. I will share with you the final product once it's completed ;-)


Having busy hands, I have discovered, is an almost certain way of always keeping a cheerful smile :-)



Ladies who are interested in patterns are welcome to contact me via this blog and leave their emails.
Anna

Sunday, April 1, 2007

My Experience of College Education

I'm about to graduate from college; a few years ago, when I applied, it seemed like I have no other option - everybody in my family went to college, and the same was expected from me. My college is close to home (I made sure I could continue living at home when I made the choice!).

I certainly can't say I learned nothing. I chose a degree in Nutrition and Home Economics, and I acquired lots of valuable knowledge, which will be very useful while running a home. I was exposed to a variety of cooking, baking and canning techniques, learned about planning a menu and food safety, about how to make better food choices and how to be a wiser consumer. I also learned A LOT about medicine, which I already apply to contribute to my family's health and well-being. In addition, I took courses in psychology and sociology, which broadened my general level of education.

But let me tell you this one thing. Everything I mentioned above is only useful to my family because I made CONSTANT EFFORT to see it through the prism of a devoted daughter, of (God willing) future mother and homemaker. Our teachers certainly didn't intend it to be interpreted that way. We were oriented towards career, not family. The knowledge and skills we gained was to be given to anyone but people we care about the most - our family.

Let me tell you something else. Practically everything I learned during my 3 years of college - and certainly the more practical things - could be learned at home, in a cheaper, safer, and more extensive manner. It might have taken longer time, but I would have been so much better off at home. The entire spirit was so ambitious, competitive and self-absorbed. What about modesty? I studied in an almost girls-only class, and I still had to struggle against negative influence almost every day. At times, I felt like shutting my ears so I don't have to listen to stories about immoral behavior; I won't even mention the abysmal "dress code"! And THAT, remember, is what I have been exposed to while living at home. Imagine what must have been going on in the dorms, after classes ended!

Have I been able to grow towards serving my family and towards God's calling? Have I gained important skills during the past 3 years? Yes, but I can truly and wholeheartedly say it happened more despite than thanks to my college education. I didn't have time to really refine my homemaking skills. Only during the past year, I'm learning how to clean satisfactorily and shop frugally, how to do laundry effectively, I'm learning to garden, sew, knit and crochet. Ironically, my mother is very good at all those things, but she has never been married and doesn't believe in feminine calling. So I am being pushed into the workforce, and I'm afraid this is where I'm going to end if I'm not blessed with a godly husband who isn't intimidated by the role of leader and provider in his own family. I pray with all my heart for meeting and marrying such a man.

I would like to encourage all the wonderful families who decide to give their daughters broad, high-quality education while keeping them at home, under the safe, loving protection of their family. Don't believe anyone who says home education cannot produce an intelligent, creative human being. Home is certainly the best possible place to gain the skills necessary for a future keeper at home, a godly wife and mother. An endless variety of interests, hobbies, activities and business options can also be successfully pursued from home. If we have a vision of being home centered, let's live it, and let's show the world what a powerful and glorious vision it is!!

Anna

Welcome to my blog!

FAQs and what this blog is not about:

Due to some criticizing remarks I recently got, many of which were a result of misunderstanding, I decided I'm going to write this and add it to the 'Start Here' sidebar. I do hope that next time someone feels like writing an impulsive response, based on wrong impressions, they will check it out. Also, since some questions are repeated over and over again, I have already written separate posts to answer them. To make them easier to find, I will include links here.

So, let's get rid of some misconceptions:

* This blog is not about pointing fingers and being judgmental. When I started writing here, what I had in mind was an online fellowship where I could exchange ideas with likeminded women, and have peaceful discussion with those who disagree. I think this has been quite successful in general, and I intend to keep it this way. No battlefield here!

* While I believe in masculine leadership, it certainly doesn't mean I think husbands have the right to abuse their wives. Or vice versa. In a marriage, both husband and wife should be loving, generous and respectful towards each other.

* I'm not against education for women. Quite the contrary! Neither do I think women should be weaklings with no practical skills. If we're nothing but brainless ornaments, how are we supposed to give support and advice to our husbands, run households, raise the next generation?

Here are some FAQs. Click on the question to go to the post where it is discussed.

"Why are you against feminism?"

"What is a woman to do if her husband is unable to support her?"

"What is your point of view on women's rights?"

"What can stay-at-home wives offer their families?"

"What should a woman do if her husband is an abuser?"

"Do you think it is always wrong for women to work outside the home?"

I feel I should also add that - while I have no problem with commenters who politely disagree - rude attacks and personal insults will not be published. And while I enjoy discussions, my time for answering questions and objections on this blog is limited, so commenters who insist on trying to drag me into lengthy arguments will be sorely disappointed.