Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My car-free experience

After all our – very much enjoyed and appreciated – discussions here about frugality and simple living, I decided to tell you a bit about my car-less experience. That's right – I don't have a car; we never had a vehicle when I was growing up, either.

Not having a car is uncommon; while I live in an area where public transportation is convenient enough, and much cheaper than car maintenance, not having your own vehicle is practically unheard of. During my college years, most of my fellow students had their own cars, but I – remembering we have always done well enough without it, and not being ready for the financial investment – decided to try to do without for the time being. The results?

Being car-less kept me debt-free.
Most of my friends who insisted on having cars during college either ended up accumulating debt, or working many long, exhausting hours, or both, at the same time complaining for the money they had to pay for gas and other car-related expenses. I always had a much smaller side income for my own needs (giving lessons and translating), out of which I put a considerable sum into savings. I'm debt-free, and intend to keep it that way.

Being car-less gave me more time.
The roads are the same roads, and the traffic is the same, too; I spent many hours in traffic, and because I wasn't the driver, I could use that time for doing something useful and productive: reading, studying, praying, doing needlework. Usually I completed at least one book a week; and these crochet pieces were completed during bus rides. As a matter of fact, there were months when my rides to and from university were the only occasion when I could dedicate time to reading and crafts! (That tells a lot about the crazy intensity of our study program).

Being car-less keeps me in better shape.
There's no escaping from it; not having a car forces me to overcome my natural laziness and move around more. I walk a lot, and normally almost all of my errands can be arranged within walking distance. Even if I use public transportation, typically I still have to walk a bit. True, it takes more time – but I think it's worth it; it's a great way to incorporate exercise into my daily routine!

To sum it up, not having a car is certainly a sacrifice of convenience in some ways, and I realize there are areas where relying on public transportation is impossible. But in my case, being car-less (or should I say, car-free?), has been a blessing more than a burden. If there's no way you could give up having your own vehicle, maybe you could still cut down on its usage, and walk whenever you can. I wish more people took the time to consider it – it's a major money-saver, and healthier for both you and the environment.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Clinical nutrition

As some of you maybe know, my mother and I aren't exactly on the same page regarding the role of women, marriage, raising children and a variety of other issues. Despite that, we remain best friends and work hard to find the balance which will help us achieve peace and mutual respect.

I recently got my degree in nutrition, and in the past Mom often expressed her wish for me to continue to a higher degree. If you've read some of my entries about college, you probably understand I wasn't exactly thrilled about this perspective of more years on a college campus, immersed in an immoral environment, investing lots of money in a degree which will give me very little practical knowledge and won't advance me at all towards becoming the future homemaker I hope to be (God-willing). Now that I'm engaged it would make even less sense, since there simply wouldn't be enough time to complete that degree, and when I'm married I want to be dedicated entirely to my husband.

What I am going to do starting from Thursday, and what is a compromise my mother and I reached, is 6 months of training in clinical nutrition. I'm much happier with that decision, for a number of reasons – it will be less time consuming (only several hours a day) and less expensive than another degree, it's not going to take place in college but in a hospital, which means I'll avoid the corrupting campus environment; it has a greater potential, in my eyes, of teaching practical skills which will be useful to me as a future homemaker, caretaker and nurturer. And of course, I will continue living at home. I hope it will be a positive and edifying experience.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Courtship with a difficult background: encounters with arrogance

As some of you already know, my background wasn't exactly perfect: growing up without a father and without a proper role model to help me avoid the dangers of secular dating, I was the typical teenager of today. Starting from when I was about 15 years old, my head was full of boys, boys and more boys. Around that time, I started dating, which led me to experience a whole range of negative effects, about which you can read here.

Today, however, I would like to share with you some more experiences of making the switch from dating to courtship. In my previous post about courtship I briefly mentioned how 'the good guys' might be less than enthusiastic about giving a chance to someone who had a difficult past. Now, I don't want to make any sweeping generalizations here, but this is something I have encountered – a lot – when I was introduced to men who were interested in courtship.

Unsurprisingly, many of these young men were from families that also encouraged and practiced the idea of courtship – which is wonderful. The less pleasant part was the look on their faces when they heard that I was raised by a single mother, that I don't know my father, and especially that in the past, before I saw the error of my ways and corrected them, I did many foolish things that compromised my purity.

I also had to endure humiliating questioning; demanding account about every little detail in my past, no matter how little relevance it has in my life today; it wasn't enough to say, "I made mistake X". No; I had to tell exactly when, why, at which circumstances, and how often I made mistake X. Don't get me wrong – I wasn't really hiding anything. But it's impossible – at least to me - to open up quickly and tell deeply personal, intimate details when you have just been introduced. If you want to get to know a person, it takes time. By brutal, matter-of-fact interrogation, I was given the following message: "I'm not ready to take the time to know you, because you might be not worth my time. I'm checking if you have any of the flaws on my no-go list, so I can eliminate you quickly or take the next step. I don't have enough patience and wisdom to see you, the way you are – I just see facts A, B and C in your biography, and I don't really care how much you have changed or how much you repent your past behavior."

And here I feel it's time to make a little disclaimer. By no means do I want to give a message that it isn't alright to be cautious about the person you are getting to know; after all, we're talking about your potential husband or wife! You have the right to know truly important details. But the evaluation should be made according to what this person is now, not what they used to be. We are all sinners. Those who made grave mistakes, and then, in a process of pain and growing, reached out to God and embraced His guidance and forgiveness, have done something truly great. They don't deserve to be treated like second best; they are the best.

We all have dreams about our future prince or princess; and while, as we mature, our rosy visions give place to a more realistic image, I don't believe many of us think, in relation to our future spouse, about matters our significant other might have had in the past, such as broken families, abusive relationships, children from previous marriages and other things that aren't – how should I put it – the perfect adornment of the first romance. But who said it will only work if it's perfect?

I know this isn't easy. If you are preserving your chastity for your future husband or wife, it is only natural to think your future spouse will be someone who did the same thing. But I still would like to encourage everyone to think outside the box on this matter. When someone has gone such a long road to recovery, imagine what they must feel if the attitude is, 'you can never hope to marry a really good man/woman after what you've done'.

Beware of arrogance. Maybe you come from a strong, loving, protective family; maybe you were raised as a believer, never rebelled, and followed the wise path of your parents, and that's excellent. But keep in mind that all of this was made possible only through God's grace. Some might have been born into less fortunate circumstances, but through a journey to God, they refined their spirits and – who knows – one of them just might be your soul mate, that special person you have been praying for, your lifetime partner.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kitty on the keyboard

Hello there, fellow bloggers! Some of you are already familiar with me, but for those of you who haven't had the pleasure to know me yet, I'll introduce myself. My name is Becky, and a couple of months ago I adopted Anna's family and gave them the privilege to raise me and take care of me.

When Anna found me, I was a tiny helpless creature, more like a hamster than a cat; but look at me now! I'm a proud and gorgeous feline, leg-climber and furniture destroyer – and just wait until I have all my teeth!

To express my gratitude to Anna, I decided I will not let her have another boring day in her life. I give her regular exercise when I find my way into the washing machine, climb into cupboards, chase the vacuum cleaner or the other cat they have – that annoying creature won't even play with me, and for some reason hisses at me when I jump out at her and catch her tail.

Anna has learned by now she should never lock me up in the bathroom (how rude!) before making sure the toilet paper isn't within my reach. I did amazing decorative projects with it a few times.

I also wonder how come people don't appreciate it when I affectionately nibble their ears. Hmph. Weird humans. Oh well, I don't care, the important thing is that I'm now the owner of this household!















Saturday, October 27, 2007

Uncomplicated hair care

Not long ago, I received a question by email about how I take care of my hair. I haven't had a real haircut in the last 12 years (just trimming split ends here and there, usually done by my mother) - not because I have a special conviction about it, I simply like my hair long and think it's feminine. Taking care of my hair doesn't really take away much time or energy. Now, each one of us has a different type of hair, and what works for me might not work for you, but here are a couple of basic guidelines I find helpful:

1. I don't mess too much with my hair, meaning sprays, gels, mousses and so on. It doesn't mean I never use those products, but I reserve them only to special occasions. On normal days I just keep it clean. And I have never dyed my hair.

2. I only wash my hair twice (or, if really needed, three times) a week. This helps preserve the natural oils of the hair. Through experience, I found out that washing my hair more often makes it dry and less shiny.

3. I don't use a hair dryer. I remember once on vacation I had to use a hair dryer for two weeks, and it made my hair really dry and brittle. So I just put a towel over my shoulders and let it dry naturally.

An additional bonus to this simplicity is that I also save money on hair care: hair products, shampoo and even some electricity. Most often, I don't need a hairdresser. And most importantly, I save time. I would hate to have to spend hours on my hair every morning.

I would love to hear your hair care tips as well!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Show and Tell Friday: simple stitches

Hello, ladies, and thank you for joining me for another Show and Tell. Thank you, Kelli, for hosting this fun feature on your blog. Don't forget to visit to visit Kelli for more show-and-telling!
Today, I'm going to share with you a crochet project I started this week. The is the first project I do not in one piece, but in separate squares which will be joined together later. I have several options in mind for the final outcome of this project, which can be either decorative or practical. I will certainly share the final result as well.

Below, you can see the pattern, and I must tell you it's the most complicated I've done so far. The crochet stitches themselves are simple, but combining them less so. It requires constant attention, and there were a couple of times when I made mistakes with the first square and had to do it all over again. Arrgh.

I'm also happy to tell you I'm becoming pretty good friends with the sewing machine already; one small detail needs to be fixed, but once it's done, I can very quickly complete my first apron and show you!

This week I also made some very prosaic, but much needed kitchen towels, which you can see below. A sidenote: I'm glad I completed them before yesterday, when I was wiped out by a plumbing disaster which left a flood all over my kitchen and laundry room floor. Oh boy that was a busy morning.

Thank you for visiting me. Thank you for all your sweet comments and emails, which I love and appreciate so much. I wish you all the loveliest weekend; and hopefully, we will meet again tomorrow!

































Thursday, October 25, 2007

He is writing my story

… And the plot He has in mind sometimes has nothing to do with what I would have written. His plans often disagree with mine, and sometimes leave me puzzled for a long time, wondering and asking: "what is it that You want me to do? What is the lesson You are trying to teach me?"

Sure, had I been given an author's license over my life, I probably would have made a completely different story of it. I would have had myself born into a big, warm, loving, strong-knit and deeply religious family, residing somewhere in the beautiful countryside. There would have been no core disagreements between myself and my parents and siblings.

Had I been able to write my own story, it would have included being faithfully guided and instructed by my parents from a young age, never lacking in feeling of security and abundance. At the age of 18, I would have planned meeting Prince Charming, courtship with the blessing of my family, marriage, and two sweet children – a boy and a girl – by the time I was 21.

I would not have chosen for myself a fatherless childhood, growing up with a mother who did her best – as the situation allowed – but was naturally tired and overwhelmed; many years of emotional and financial struggles; lack of instruction in the things most crucial and important for a young girl; rebellious years, which included every folly you can think of; pain and hardship, neglect and abuse, disappointment and sorrow, fear and despair. No, I would not have included all that in my story.

But He is the author – not me. And every day, he is writing another line, paragraph, chapter, making the story of my life unique and beautiful, and suited for His special plan. He includes darkness to accentuate light, and allows misery so that joy and hope can shine brighter. Like a painter, He chooses the loveliest colors; like a sculptor, He carves rough stone into a beautiful statue.

Sometimes, I involuntarily stop in my tracks, turn to Him and say: "You made a mistake. See, it was supposed to happen this or that way. And this wasn't even supposed to happen – what are You thinking?"

But today, I will try to find peace and put my life in His hands. I will try to enjoy the story He is writing, without forcing my own humble suggestions if I see they don't fit in His plan. I will try to let go of anxiety and frustration, bitterness and resentment, fretfulness and desire to be in control. Today, I will drop my pen and become a faithful reader, a reader who enjoys and delights in every word and every bend and turn in the story, not taken aback by the unexpected, not broken by the undesirable.

He is writing my story. And yours, too! Are you delighting in yours?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pasta with veggies

This dish is super easy - and we loved it! To make it, you will need:
1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1-2 sweet red pepper

1-2 zucchini

1 eggplant

dry bread crumbs (to tell you the truth I was a bit doubtful about this at first - pasta and bread crumbs?! But it was so nice and crunchy. I took about 1\2 cup of them, but you can make less.)

approx. 2 cups of your favorite kind of pasta

Chop onion, pepper, zucchini and eggplant and bake with salt and olive oil until soft. In the meantime, cook the pasta; chop garlic and fry until lightly browned. Add bread crumbs to the frying pan and stir it all together for a couple of minutes. Mix pasta, veggies and bread crumbs together. Consume. Enjoy.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Those "blah" days

I think we all have days which aren't particularly bad or stressful, but are simply "blah". You get out of bed without your usual spirit of enthusiasm and energy; nothing seems worth doing and all you want is to crawl back under your blankets with a good book and a cup of cocoa and curl up there for the rest of the day.

I have that from time to time, and developed a simple strategy of dealing with the "blah"s when they come:

1. Do something. Even if it's a small and simple task, it will get you started and – hopefully – motivated. You can start from the quick and easy chores, to give you a feeling of accomplishment, or from something you particularly like. For me, it's usually laundry: washing, sorting and folding, or ironing. It usually gets me in a working mood.

2. Brighten up your background. Whether it's putting your favorite music on, lighting a scented candle or drinking tea from an especially pretty cup, even the little things have a potential of cheering you up.

3. Take it slowly. It just happens that on some days we aren't quite as productive as we are used to. Maybe your previous days have been so packed with activities that you just need to rest, or maybe a cold is approaching. So just make sure the basic tasks get done, and leave the rest for another day. Or devote your time to less straining tasks, like writing out your shopping list, planning your menu, making phone calls or catching up on your correspondence. "Blah" days come and go, so why not just take the opportunity for a bit of quiet time?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dealing with doubts

"I do want to be a wife and a mother someday, but I don't want that to define me. Why should it be wrong for me to want to become a physician as well, to possibly aid women in childbirth, or to save lives in an emergency room? I was also wondering what your thoughts were on women who have changed the face of the world, such as Mother Theresa (who never married or had children)?"

Dear reader, thank you for taking the time to reply. I always love getting response such as yours, which helps me clarify my position. By the way, the same goes for my faith: I feel challenged and inspired when my faith is questioned and I am then motivated to learn even more.

I think that, from reading a bit on my blog, it's clear to you that I have no doubt whatsoever about the women's intelligence, talent, and capability which can enable her to pursue a variety of occupations. So, the discussion here is not about 'what a woman can do' but rather, 'what's the right thing to do'. And also, not 'should a woman pursue her talents', but rather, 'how should a woman pursue her talents?'

I think that we - and I include myself in this, as well - have been conditioned to think that only office and paycheck mean we're doing something important. Only college means we get good education. Only... well, you see my point? But if we think outside the box, there are countless ways a woman can express her talents at home. Teaching her own children is the most obvious one I guess!

I choose to be a homemaker and focus on my family - God willing, I will have a family - and I feel that my knowledge in medicine, nutrition, psychology and everything else I studied in college will be put to good use - well actually, it is already put to good use - right here at home! I think that even if a woman is childless, she can have a beautiful and productive life as a keeper-at-home. Her talents are applicable in countless aspects of being a helpmeet to her husband and a good homemaker.

The concept of a woman being a wife and helpmeet is not some sort of oppressive tyranny meant to tie women down and limit them. And it is not something meant for the inferior and less intelligent women! Through blogging, I was blessed to 'know' many former professors, engineers and simply very talented women who made the choice to come home and are happy about it.

If a woman feels she wants to get married and have children, she takes responsibility for this, and must take care of her family. If she is a wife and mother, being many hours outside the home steals her away from her family. There's basically no way going around it. Yes, I am of the opinion that no pursuit - no matter how good, or right, or noble in itself - cannot be right if it interferes with us caring for our most precious ones.

I will share with you one quote a reader sent me: "To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can imagine how this can exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute."--G. K. Chesterton in What's Wrong with the World

You mention mother Theresa; yet just like you said, she was unmarried, and thus didn't have this conflict of her duties to husband and children clashing with her desire to give to the rest of the world. However we look at it, the majority of women will become wives, and as such, they are taking on duties which will demand much of their time, skills and ability. Will they have time to spare for other activities? Maybe. And each woman should see how much she can give to other pursuits (in which I include work, volunteering, and different personal projects) without it steering her heart away from her family. She should be honest with herself. If she spends many, many hours away from home and sees that she cannot take proper care of her husband's needs and her household, she shouldn't brush it off as unimportant, but should consider it very carefully.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wholesome Mixes

Today I'd like to tell you about my find of the week – Kristy Howard's new e-book, "Wholesome Mixes". It contains all the tips and how-to's you ever wanted to know about why it pays off to make your own baking mixes, and how preparing them in advance can save you time and energy.



It was like a little light bulb went off in my head: the baked goodies we eat are almost always made from scratch – but I never thought that when I'm in the kitchen mixing up flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder for a cake or cookies, I can double or even triple the amount of dry ingredients, store them in a tightly closed container, and spare the time for measuring, pouring and mixing next time I bake. Thanks, Kristy!

"Wholesome Mixes" also provides:
- Helpful tips for storing your baking mixes
- How your homemade baking mixes can make a neat and thoughtful gift
- 25 mixes for easy, inexpensive and delicious-looking recipes (I'm looking forward to trying those!)

For more information and getting your copy of this excellent e-book, visit Kristy's website, "Homemaker's Cottage".

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Food journal: what you think you eat vs. what you really eat

Often, people say, "I eat so little but I'm still gaining weight! It seems I made every change you can think of - I have no idea what I could possibly cut off from my diet!"
Sounds familiar?

Not always, but often, the problem is that what we think we eat is very far from what we actually eat. We tend to forget snacks, calorie-rich drinks, little bits we taste when we cook and leftovers we finish after other family members.

That's why I'm a big fan of food journals. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the principle is simple: you carry a pen and notebook with you and write down everything you eat and drink, and how much of it you had. You should try, of course, not to change your eating habits, or you won't get an accurate picture. I understand it's annoying, but it's a truly wonderful way to show you what you really eat. To demonstrate it to you, I kept a food journal for one day, and then tried to write down from memory what I ate. When I compared the two lists, the difference was striking! So, here it goes…

What Anna thought she ate

Breakfast:
1 slice of bread with cream cheese
Cup of coffee with whole milk and sugar
A cookie
Yogurt (whole milk)

Snack:
1 Apple

Lunch:
Tomato soup
1 slice of bread
2 potatoes with cheese

Snack:
Yogurt

Dinner:
Salad
Toast with cheese

Before bedtime:
A glass of buttermilk

Doesn't sound like too much, right? But now let's open the food journal and see what Anna really ate…

What Anna really ate

Breakfast:
1 slice of bread with cream cheese
Cup of coffee with whole milk and sugar
A cookie
Yogurt (whole milk)

Snack:
1 Apple

* 5 peanuts I sneaked when I opened the refrigerator

Lunch:
Tomato soup
1 slice of bread
2 potatoes with cheese

* A slice of cheese I ate when I prepared the potatoes

Snack:
Yogurt

* A cookie I forgot about

Dinner:
Salad
Toast with cheese

Before bedtime:
A glass of buttermilk

So, as you can see, I managed to forget about foods I ate even after I wrote them down in the food journal. The typical forgotten foods are small, don't belong to a real meal when you sit down to eat, and often are calorie-dense. A handful of peanuts, a slice of cheese and a cookie aren't something you can ignore! At least I can be sure about drinks between meals, because we don't even have any soft drinks at home, only water.

Of course, ideally the food journal should be kept for a week, or at least include a couple of days during the week and the weekend, because on weekends, our eating patterns often change.

Anyway, if you haven't done it yet, give it a shot! You might be surprised at the results.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Show and Tell Friday: old-fashioned candle holder

Welcome, ladies, and thank you for joining me for another Show and Tell! For more fun and stories, head over to Kelli's blog.

Today I'm going to share with you a candle holder that has been in our family for as long as I can remember, though nobody is sure where it actually came from.

As a child, I always thought it looks as though it came right from some medieval castle, though today I think it just looks a bit old-fashioned - but I still love it! I enjoy using it from time to time on cold winter evenings, to add a bit of atmosphere. I wish I could show it to you with a lighted candle, but none of the candles I have right now is of an appropriate size.

Thank you for visiting me - I wish you all a very lovely day and weekend, and hope to see you again very soon!


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Adult daughters at home: the right reasons

A reader sent me a link to an article which states that the responsible thing for adult children to do after college is remain at home with their parents. I decided to share it with you because, as many of you know, I also think that in most cases, the best thing for an adult daughter is to remain at home until she marries. Only I believe that the reasons the author of this article gives are all wrong.

Remaining at home is described as a period of rent-free housing, self-indulgence, relaxation and financial freedom. Every line shouts out loud, "me!" My money, my job, my career, my goals, my needs…

There isn't even one word about how it can be beneficial for adult children to continue learning from their parents' wisdom; not one word about the many ways in which they can be a blessing and asset to their families; not one word about ageing parents or grandparents who might need attention and care, help around the house, or simply company; in short, none of the reasons why I consider my own decision to remain at home until I marry a blessed opportunity to serve and love and honor my family.

In some traditional cultures, it's common for several generations to continue living under the same roof for a lifetime. It doesn't mean, however, that adult children take a self-centered attitude and remain lifelong Peter Pans. The family operates as a unit, and each family member is expected to be a productive part of the household.

We have my 91-year-old grandmother living with us; we love her, and I feel it's an honor to return even a bit of the love and care she generously gave us for as long as I can remember. Grandma isn't as capable, physically, as she used to be; she has needs to be tended to; she needs someone to take her to the doctor and serve her meals, and she loves it when someone can eat with her, and talk to her and just sit beside her and knit. Someone in your family probably has greater needs, too – the very old, the very young, the ones with less-than-perfect health. Always easy? Always pleasant? Certainly not. Rewarding? Beyond anything you can imagine.

I must tell you, however, that the point of view that article presents isn't new to me at all. During my years in college, many of my fellow students rented apartments or lived on campus, but many others continued living at home with their parents. Not many of these young women did anything to ease their mothers' loads. Most of them couldn't cook, some had no idea how to compile a grocery list, and a few couldn't even operate a washing machine. I guess someone forgot to tell them that laundry doesn't wash itself automatically, and meals don't just appear on the table out of thin air.

I believe that we, as adult unmarried daughters, have a unique opportunity to show today's self-centered world what it really means to honor and cherish our parents, to serve cheerfully and put our family first. We can show what it's like to be productive, industrious and creative; self-sacrificing, loving, and faithful; serving, generous, delighted helpers to our parents and siblings.

This vision of daughterhood is beautiful. It's powerful. Let us seize the chance and live it – for the glory of God.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The dangers of dating

Unless you were born and raised in a religious, traditional family, it is most likely that by the age of 16, you were already deep into dating relationships, emotional and maybe also physical intimacy, pangs of broken heart and general lightheadedness about interacting with the opposite sex.

I was 15 when I started dating, and I think I should mention that most of my friends started seeing their first boyfriend even earlier. At an age when we would have been much better off building our personalities and learning from the experience and wisdom of elders, we were allowed – and even encouraged – to pursue relationships with boys who most likely would not become our lifetime partners.

It goes without saying that no one expected me to actually get married before the age of 25. And so, between 15 and 25, like most young people these days, I had to face the prospect of many long years of meaningless relationships, escaping from one temporary attachment to another, getting involved and breaking up when it became convenient, until my poor heart became hardened to both attachment and separation.

And this foolish, dangerous, not the least bit purposeful strategy was supposed, somehow, to prepare me for marriage, for commitment that would last the rest of my life! If you think about it, have you ever heard of anything more absurd? I know dating is normal in our culture, so normal, in fact, that those who try to get to know their future spouse in any other way are considered weird; but sadly, divorce is very common as well.

If you really think it over, you can't help but reach the conclusion that the two are links of the same chain. When a young person spends many precious years hopping from one relationship to another, the inevitable consequences of such practice are cheapening of the priceless connection between man and woman, unwillingness to commit, to compromise, to sacrifice, and in short, aversion and phobia from having a normal, steady married life. And this, in my opinion, is nothing short of a disaster.

Now, some may say, 'I dated, and I'm very happily married'; I can't say it's impossible, because nothing is impossible to our awesome God. I dated too, and do hope to be happily married, with my pains erased and my heart happily given over to Him. But I know that if God, indeed, blesses me with the gift of happy and peaceful married life, it will be despite, not thanks to, the dangerous practice of dating I have led for years and years. And I know that if I'm ever blessed with children, dating is not what I want for them. I want to spare them the unnecessary ache and despair, and guide them to purity of heart and truly happy marriage, in God's perfect timing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It's going to be a warm winter

I've nearly finished the crocheted scarf I started working on several weeks ago; I tried to squeeze in twenty minutes every day - which isn't a lot, I think! It's wonderfully thick and warming, and I'm planning to give it away as a gift. The cute and simple pattern, for those of you who are interested, is below. I also made some decent progress on a scarf I'm knitting, and hope to post pictures soon.

My favorite time of the day is when all the daily chores are done and I sit knitting, crocheting or cross-stitching, with good, relaxing music playing in the background and a kitty curled up beside me. So wonderfully warm and cozy. I know the avid knitters and crocheters among you will understand me!

I'm wishing you an autumn and winter full of fluffy wool and interesting projects to make, during long, quiet and happy evenings.
















Monday, October 15, 2007

Created in His image

Of all the ideas I share on this blog, it seems that my humble thoughts about masculine leadership seem the most controversial. When I started blogging, I had no idea it would be so interesting. As a matter of fact I started it mainly for commenting on some lovely blogs that don't allow anonymous response. I didn't know that I would have such a variety of readers – men and women of all ages and various faiths.

Now, I understand that I can't really have a coherent discussion about what I see as the woman's role, with someone who rejects God ("what you believe is an outdated myth that should have died out long ago" – I don't think I can or should respond to that). But this one particular last objection I received mentions God, so I thought a little bit about it and decided to reply.

God created both men and women in His image ("So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them"). But is it true that men and women are 'their own persons'?

"And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."
As women, we are, of course, persons – precious persons created in the image of God. But we are not 'our own persons'. We are helpmeets. Exactly what being a helpmeet means is a subject for another post, but if you don't think the book of Genesis is 'outdated' or simply doesn't fit in with the 21st century lifestyle, there's no way you can go around this.

Soon after that, a very clear statement about masculine leadership was made - "thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Why will the husband rule over his wife? Simply because he's a man? Because women's intelligence is inferior? No. Because God said so.

Sometimes I get remarks along the lines of, "Wake up! We're not in the 19-th century anymore! Everything has changed, including relationships between men and women and their respective roles! We're all equal now!"

Please understand that my purpose is not to follow the 19-th century standards. While I like the Victorian era, I don't think our aim should be to go back to the 'good old days'. What I want to follow is God's design for us, as women.

Men or women, we are all children of God. Do you think our loving Father prefers some children over others? Do you think He loves men more than He loves women? Of course not! So why should we think that the role He intended for us is unimportant, unworthy, or doesn't allow us to be happy and fulfilled?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Breakfast treat

I tried making homemade granola for the first time, and it goes great with plain yogurt we eat for breakfast or for a snack. It's very simple, healthy and costs a good deal less than store-bought brands.

If you want to try it, you will need:

1 1\2 cup oats

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp honey

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp sugar

a handful of raisins

Mix oats, seasme seeds, honey, cinnamon and sugar; let the mixture sit in a low-heat oven until lightly browned. Then add raisins, mix again, turn oven off and leave until cools completely. Store in a a closed jar; if you like it, you can double or even triple the portion next time.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

A few homemaking do's and don'ts

I know many of the ladies who read this are probably more experienced in the arts of homemaking than I am; I only learned to cook a little over a year ago, and for a long time I couldn't spot dust to save my life. Still, I will share with you a few do's and don'ts that have been tremendously helpful to me as an aspiring homemaker-in-training.

Do make to-do lists and approximate schedules. It will help you stay organized and focused in moments of confusion, when a myriad of things are demanding your attention and you aren't sure what to do next.

Don't get addicted to crossing items off your to-do list. Life isn't a neat little list; sometimes unexpected and urgent issues will arise, someone dear will call you for help, or you'll just want to take a break and do something special with your family. The world won't collapse if your dishes sit in the sink for another two hours while you take a walk and watch the sunset.

Do work hard during the week and give the best of your energy and productivity.

Don't be tempted to think that by working seven days a week, you'll be able to accomplish more. You'll only exhaust yourself and be less productive in the week ahead. God knew what He was doing when He gave us a day of rest! Our soul needs the peace and tranquility of spiritual refreshment.

Do practice hospitality and open the doors of your home – and your heart – to others.

Don't do it at the expense of your health, peace of mind or the time you dedicate to God and your precious family. You'll end up exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated, and that won't do anyone any good. Carefully evaluate how much you can give without damaging your spiritual life or family time.

Do aim for advancing your creative skills, such as cooking, crafts and decorating.

Don't drive yourself to discontentment by comparing yourself with others. Someone's cakes will always be fancier, and no matter how hard you try, someone out there will have shinier windows. It's not about 'having it all together' - what really matters is the spirit of joy, peace and love in your home.

The list is long, and I'm far from knowing it all! Still, these simple points have been useful to me, and hopefully, in the future I will be able to work it out and find the balance that will enable me to become, God-willing, the woman, daughter, wife, mother and homemaker He wants me to be.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Show and Tell Friday: treasured moments

Welcome, and thank you for joining me for another Show and Tell! Thank you, Kelli, for graciously hosting Show and Tells on your blog every Friday, to the enjoyment of so many.

This week, I'm going to share with you my baby photo album. Scroll down to see the front cover and pictures, and click to enlarge.

All of the photos were taken by my Mom, and most of them were developed by Mom as well - in the old-fashioned, pre-digital way. Photography has been Mom's hobby for years, and brought many hours of fun to her and all her family.

It wasn't as easy as it is for most of us today with our digital cameras, but Mom still made the effort to capture those priceless, treasured moments, knowing they will be remembered with joy in the years to come.

Isn't there something wonderfully nostalgic in those black-and-white photographs? I so enjoy looking through them, and appreciate them as family treasures that will be passed to the next generation. The oldest photographs in all our family photo albums are dated to the 1930's.

PS: The boy you will see next to me in the first picture (on the left) was kindly nursed by my mother, as his own mother was unable to breastfeed. Wasn't it wonderfully generous of her?

I hope you are all having a lovely day, and I'm wishing you the most splendid weekend. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the lovely comments and emails you generously sent this week. And a special 'thank you' to all the dear ladies who took the time to contact me personally and share their kindness and wisdom. I feel so blessed by being 'introduced' to you all through blogland!





































Thursday, October 11, 2007

My vegetarian menu

Acquiring a degree in nutrition didn't make me live off vegetables and low-fat yogurt alone. As you know I've been a vegetarian these past 12 years, but besides that, I eat everything, following the principles of variety, moderation, and small portions. Yes, I do indulge in ice-cream, butter on my bread, and other delights, just not every day.

A question I've been recently asked is how I get all the nutrients I need, without eating meat and fish. Vegetarianism has become so natural to me that I sometimes forget how deeply it's ingrained in people's minds that we can't live without meat. Personally, I'm convinced it's only a matter of habit; there is no specific and unique ingredient in meat and/or fish that you can't get in a healthy and balanced vegetarian diet. No, I'm not advocating vegetarianism for everyone, but I think I can be pretty sure to say there aren't any risks involved – if you keep your diet healthy and complete.

Sure, if meat is your only source of high quality protein, and you stop eating it without substituting it with anything else, nothing good will come out of it. But normally, vegetarians aren't supposed to experience any sort of deficiency; it might be more challenging for vegans – and vegans will probably have to resort to supplements – but it is still entirely possible to be healthy on a vegan diet too.

I do hope to post more vegetarian recipes soon, as time allows. For now, I'll share with you a sample of my typical daily menu during the week.

Breakfast:

1 slice of bread with cream cheese or butter
Cup of coffee with whole milk and sugar
A small slice of cake or a cookie
Yogurt (whole milk) – sometimes with granola and honey

Snack:

Apple/pear/peach/other fruit

Lunch:

Canned beans soup
1 slice of bread
Rice with mushrooms (*main dish variations: vegetarian lasagna, vegetarian pizza, lentils and pasta...)

Snack:

Yogurt/fruit/granola bar

Dinner:

Salad
Scrambled eggs
1 slice of bread + a slice of cheese

* Later in the evening, I usually have a cup of tea with a cookie or two. When it's hot, I have a glass of buttermilk. During the day, between meals, I drink plenty of water – and nothing but water. Only rarely I'll drink fresh-squeezed juice or a smoothie, but no canned store-bought juices, and no sweetened drinks, even if they are almost calorie-free. Water is the best!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Socialism is breaking our society apart

A bit long but a must-read, this article really digs to the core of the problem with socialism/Marxism, and its twin sister, feminism. I'm not Catholic but I found it very insightful and interesting. Thanks to the reader who sent it!

Here are a few highlights:

"Rather than strengthen the family, as some originally intended it to do, the social assistance state has weakened and almost replaced the family."

Of course there can never be true replacement of the family unit – what the state can give us is only a feeble imitation of the security a strong, responsible and committed marriage brings.

"The social benefits must be paid for by high tax rates. Even in America, with low taxes by European standards, the median income earner pays 40% of income in taxes. This means the secondary wage earner in the family, usually the mother, is working to pay the family’s taxes."

… And later they come and tell us we must join the ranks of paid labor because there's no way for a family to make it on one income. Of course, now that you've made it much harder to live on one income, we must go out there and take advantage of the freedom to work two shifts – at home and outside the home – which we have been so kindly given (sarcasm intended).

"The life-time assistance of the state displaces the economic function of the family. Men do not feel like men, able to care for and protect their families. In this environment, children become consumption goods, an optional life-style appendage to acquire only if one happens to enjoys children."

The statement above is so true that anyone who has more than 2 (or, at best, 3) children probably felt this at some point or another: whispers, raised eyebrows, and remarks such as, 'well, you're done, right?' and 'don't you know what causes that?'

"A member of the Dutch Labor Party recently proposed that women who stay at home with children be penalized, because they were wasting the investment society had made in their education."


So much for pretty talk about freedom of choice. How dare we waste our precious education on something as mind-numbing and unimportant as child-rearing? Not to mention that we should have known better than to have children in the first place.

Again – it is a long article, but if you have the time, go ahead and check it out. It's worth reading.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Prayer request

I just received the following prayer request by email. Let us all join in prayer for this community.

"I'm sure you've heard of the tragedy in Crandon, WI. You can't help but hear about it if you listen/read anything from the news. I live in Crandon. And I live a block away from where the shootings took place. I can see the house when I look out my front door and I heard the gun shots. I can't tell you how it feels to know you heard the shots that killed people. I knew Tyler (the police officer who did the killing) and I knew the students who were killed. You can't live in a town of less then 2,000 people and not know people's faces.

I'm writing you because you have a good amount of people who read your blog and I'm asking that you keep our community in prayer. It's a dark county where we live (it's been a dark county for a long time, not just now). Satan has a strong grip on this area (in fact, satanic worship is quite "high" in the area) and while those of us believers here pray for God's intervention, we need the help of others. Especially now. If I may ask, please pray for the families left behind. They have to see each other and I pray that anger, bitterness and hatred are not turned toward each other (esp. towrds the Peterson family, who is the family of the police officer). And pray for the other officers involved. I can't imagine what it must feel like to work with someone, trust them, and then have to hunt them down and be forced to kill them. I'm sure the officers didn't want to imagine it, either.

It will take time for this all to heal. Please use the best weapon you have and pray for us all."

Jordin's chocolate chip cookies

Recently, I received the first issue of the 'Paths of Peace' newsletter I subscribed to. I would like to thank Jordin from 'Paths of Peace' for taking the time to compile it. Starting from the second issue, Jordin decided to create a separate newsletter blog.

Among other things, Jordin included in her first newsletter her favorite recipe of chocolate chip cookies. It was the best I ever tried (see picture below), thanks, Jordin!

And here's the fabulous recipe:

2\3 c. shortening

1\2 c. sugar

1\2 c. brown sugar 1 egg

1 t. vanilla

1 1\2 c. all-purpose flour

1\2 t. baking soda

1\2 t. salt

1 pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix shortening, sugars, egg and vanilla thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping/leveling/pouring. Blend dry ingredients; stir in chocolate chips. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls 2 " apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool before removing from baking sheet. Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Note: I didn't have brown sugar, so I just used 1 cup of sugar, they were still excellent. I wasn't sure about the chocolate chips either (how much I should use exactly), so I put in as much as I thought would be good - and it was good.


Monday, October 8, 2007

The simple pleasures of life

When I think "frugality", it's often associated with budgeting, finding the best deals, being thrifty and not buying more than you need to – all of which are important components on your way to living frugally.

But more than that, on a very basic level, living frugally means living simply, finding joy and contentment in the simple things in life, in pleasures that cost you nothing – or next to nothing. For some, it can be a small adjustment. For others, it can be a total turnaround. To choose your path, you will need to evaluate your long-term goals and the vision of your family life.

The list of fun things you can do with less money (and often less hassle) is practically endless. Take walks, rather than driving; invite people over, rather than eating out – or, for a change of air, go out for a picnic! Instead of slouching in front of the TV, only watch selected good movies (there aren't too many anyway), and during the rest of your leisure time, do something active; grow plants; find a creative hobby; use the library – use your imagination!

Above all, it's mostly about enjoying everyday life with its simple happenings: sunshine and cool, breezy wind. The smell of fresh cookies baking in the oven. Clean laundry on the line, sweet-smelling and sparkling white. Children's laughter; conversations with friends; a new plant that is growing on your garden or in a pot on your windowsill; all the small joys of life which often go unnoticed – what a shame!

Don't let life pass by, chasing after the bigger and better. Seize the moment, and live it to the fullest, nurturing friendship, love, acceptance, gratitude, patience and joy. It might sound contradictory to our entire lifestyle, but I'm yet to meet one person who was made truly happy by money and having lots of things. Not that there's anything wrong with having nice things – but I think many of us could be better off if we just freed ourselves from excessive attachment to material possessions.

… That is the deeper meaning behind the frugal choices I make every day. It's not saving money for the sake of being a cheapskate – it's a desire to live a less stressful and overwhelming, and more simple and peaceful, life.

***
On my journey to a peaceful, wisely-spending and frugal life, I enjoy reading the insight of Rhonda Jean, who gives a great example of living in wonderful simplicity. Her blog, 'Down to Earth', provides lots of helpful tips and advice for those of us who want to live simply and be wise stewards of the earth's resources.

For more frugal inspiration, visit Crystal at Biblical Womanhood!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Grandma's comforting apple and plum soup

One of the many things I love about my dear Grandma is her disdain for recipes. In the picture below, you will see a favorite of mine since childhood – Grandma's apple and plum soup. Eaten warm, it's wonderfully comforting on a cold winter day. In the summer, it can be served chilled, and it's just as good.

Recently, I tried asking Grandma for a recipe, but very typically, she just laughed and said, "What, for this simple thing? You just take some apples and plums, peel them, cut, throw into boiling water, cook with a bit of sour cream, add a sprinkle of cinnamon and you've got it!"

I tried doing that – didn't get even a remote resemblance. I tried following Grandma step by step, doing just what she did – still, very, very far from the original; it makes me think there's some magical ingredient up her sleeve, which she adds when I'm not looking.

Or maybe it's just that I learned to cook only a little over a year ago, in our college's spacious and well-equipped kitchen – while Grandma's experience is roughly around 80 years of cooking and baking everywhere, from everything and anything available, feeding and nurturing her family through times of plenty as well as times when there was nothing but potato peels to eat. I'm sure I will never be her equal, but I'm determined to continue learning from her for as long as possible.

And maybe one day, I will be able to develop and share with you a clear and well-written recipe of this wonderful apple and plum soup.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Why I am against feminism

Lately, I've received several emails from people who couldn't understand or accept my arguments against feminism. "But how," – they inquire, - "how a bright young girl, who was obviously given so many options by feminism, can so totally and wholeheartedly reject it?"

Let me share with you my perspective on how different my life could have been if it weren't for feminism.

If it weren't for feminism…

… my mother would probably not be unmarried; she would have a husband and wouldn't have to take on a masculine role. I would have a father who would support and protect our family.

… my father would probably not neglect his duty towards my mother and me; he would not ask her to seek an abortion, or 'deal with it' without him; he would assume responsibility for his actions.

… I wouldn't feel marriage and a normal family is something out of this world; I'd view it as natural.

I hope you understand: I'm not blaming feminism for my personal hardships, or saying all of these misfortunes could not have happened without feminism. But I do think feminism is responsible for creating an environment in which a woman is much more prone to become unprotected, exploited, abused, overwhelmed, torn apart and generally unhappy. And yes, I'm accusing feminism of creating an environment in which I, and countless other young women, have grown up in broken homes, with mothers that were never there. Are we supposed to say 'thank you'?

Now, I don't want this to turn into a pity party; after all, I've been blessed in countless ways. And I'm not saying all those things didn't exist before feminism came into the picture, or that I'm certain they wouldn't happen to me. I'm only stating that the incidence of them used to be much lower. They were an exception, not the norm.

And please don't tell me, 'you don't know feminism'. I do. I was educated according to the feminist doctrine throughout my years in public schools and college. Believe me, I know it through and through; I used to support it, I experienced all of its detrimental effects – starting from growing up without a father and ending with being sexually exploited in the name of 'liberation' – and this is precisely why I reject it.

I don't care about pretty slogans that say, 'it's all about choice, that's all'. I observe the life of women since the onset of modern feminism, and I'm very sorry, but when I look at unstable marriages, skyrocketing divorce rates, incredible pressure to earn money and neglect our duties at home (or worse, being told we can, and are supposed to, 'have it all'), infertility (due to waiting too long before having children and/or many years of using the Pill), abortions, immodesty, exploitation, lack of respect, immorality, ungodliness – and I could go on, and on, and on – I just don't see how it's supposed to make us happy?

If it's all about 'choice', then how come those who choose to be focused on the home, are convinced in every way that their choice is inferior? If it's about choice, how come I need to justify and explain my 'lack of ambition', telling I do have ambitions, only in a completely different area – and how come this explanation is never accepted?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Show and Tell Friday: my sewing machine

Has a week really passed by already? Time flies, and here we are at another Friday. Thanks to Kelli for hosting these lovely Show and Tells! This week, I'm going to show you our sewing machine.

It's not as old as the lovely antique sewing machines I saw at some blogs and websites, but like many other much loved things we own, this sewing machine is a good few years older than I am. Mom used it to make many of the outfits I wore as a baby and child. It didn't work well for a while, and for some time we actually thought it was broken beyond repair – but recently, our kind new neighbor and friend tinkered with it a bit, and it turns out all it needed was a bit of oiling.

So, with the sewing machine good as new, it was time for me to start learning how to use it. To some of you ladies and young girls who passed that stage at 14, it might sound funny, but only now I'm working on making my first apron. I was a bit late on learning many other domestic skills as well, such as cooking and cleaning – but hey, I'm making progress!

In the pictures below, you can see the sewing machine and some scattered supplies. I can already see myself in these evenings which are getting longer and longer, cheerfully working on projects (which I hope to share with you!). I know I'm going to enjoy every moment of it.

Thank you for stopping by for this Show and Tell – I hope you enjoyed your visit. Looking forward to seeing you again!


















































Thursday, October 4, 2007

Playing life: my Sims addiction

I don't think I ever mentioned that, but a couple of years ago, I was addicted to the Sims, and then later to Sims 2. If you've ever been a Sims fan, you will understand me. I could spend many hours playing; creating families in that little virtual world, advancing their careers, decorating their homes, marrying them to one another and having them raise children, go on vacations and make friends.

I played with all sorts of families: bachelors and parents to many children, glamorous celebrities and homesteaders who grew their own food, families in tiny homes or huge mansions, rich and poor, with or without pets… until one blessed day, I woke up and saw my own family and home are waiting for me. So I quit playing the Sims and started investing my efforts into making my real home a sweet and pleasant dwelling. I learned many different skills, and saw that in real life, there is no limit to my creativity and I never get bored. I get to make something substantial and satisfying. What a treat!

When I think about the lifestyle of our generation, it is amazing how we spend so much time playing life, instead of actually living life. One striking example of this is relationships between men and women: instead of putting their efforts into something worthwhile and long-lasting, young people spend many years dating aimlessly, with fear of responsibility and commitment firmly planted in them by our cultural norms and education system.

Then, when it's clearly time to get serious, there's the famous 'we must try it out first' argument, and they move in together. But cohabitating has nothing to do with true commitment between husband and wife; it resembles family life about as much as playing house, or playing the Sims. It's just a game; you can quit anytime; and how on earth is this supposed to prepare someone for the burdens and joys of responsibility?

We, as the younger generation, still have time to show a better example – of living, rather than playing; of doing important, worthwhile and responsible things, rather than fooling around; of real commitment, rather than 'trying it out'. I'm hopeful. What about you?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

My ambitions

Today Mom came into my room, sat on my bed, started at me for a long time, let out a heavy sigh and finally said:
'You know, I'm really worried about you.'
This scene has been repeating itself about once a week for the past several months.

Allow me to explain that lately, listening to my conversations, seeing my lack of enthusiasm about pursuing a higher degree or competitive career, and observing my passion about everything that has to do with home and family, Mom became seriously concerned that I 'actually might carry out this stupid plan of mine to become a housewife'.

I love my Mom. I really do, and I don't want to complain, as I know that my little discouragements are nothing, comparing to what others have to face. But it's not exactly pleasant, if you know what I mean, to listen time and time again to the same things: 'you must have a career to secure your future, you must be a professional to be fulfilled, you need the money to be able to give more (more what?) to your children, you can't depend on a man, your husband might be unable to take care of you, you'll never be able to make a living on one income…' – and on and on and on. I'm sure that almost every woman of this generation who chose to dedicate herself to home heard all of it and more, many times. Oh, and this look of deepest concern, when she sees me enjoying something as mundane as hanging the laundry, baking a pie, or knitting!

And then she said something that actually got me laughing out loud:
'It troubles me that you have no ambitions.'

'No ambitions? What do you mean, Mom? I have the highest ambitions – to become a wife, a helpmeet, a lifelong partner of one wonderful and special man; to be a joyful mother to as many children as God gives me, and raise them in love of Him; to build a sweet and beautiful home and fill it with peace and joy, creating memories that will last a lifetime and beyond; what paycheck can ever promise me these glorious perspectives?'

'It's all very nice, but you know what I mean. Real ambitions. To have enough money to be able to afford a more affluent lifestyle; trips abroad; nice clothes; eating out as much as you like. Don't you want all that?'

I know it was meant to sound very appealing, but it didn't tempt me even for a second. And what if we ask ourselves what real ambitions are – for short term goals, or for a lifetime? For things that won't matter in ten years, or for things that will make an impact in the life of many generations after us? The answer is pretty obvious to me, but how often do we find the world around us obsessing with the short-term, the self-centered, the selfishly ambitious? I know Mom meant no harm. I know she loves me. But I just can't agree with her point of view.

Not long ago I had to face the prospect of losing all my money. At first I was very stressed and worried about it, but then it taught me an important lesson. First, I realized, I'm too attached to my possessions. Sure, I need enough money for the real necessities: food, shelter, clothes, basic health care; I always had more than I actually needed, which brings me to the second point – I asked myself: was there a time in my life when He hasn't provided for me? Did I go hungry, cold and homeless? No. Not one day! So why am I worried now, instead of trusting in Him?

Fulfilling my calling as a woman is just another aspect of relying on Him. It might be uncommon, it might be counter-cultural, it might be not what everyone else are doing – but I won't let it stop me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Éclairs!

Last week, I had the fun opportunity to make éclairs alongside Mom. Éclairs are Mom's favorite dessert, and the one she is best at (though her cakes and pies are mouth-watering as well). The writing in Mom's handwritten old recipe book was too unclear and smudgy for me to read, but I found a recipe online which looks very similar to what we used:

Éclair Pastry

1 cup Water
1/2 cup Butter
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Flour
4 eggs

Bring water, butter and salt to boil. Remove from heat and stir in flour. Beat over low heat until mixture leaves sides of pan. Remove from heat. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat until satiny.

Drop three inches apart on ungreased sheet. Form 4 x 1 inch strips. Bake at 400F degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Keep from drafts. Slit tops of éclairs and fill with custard.


The exciting part about éclairs is that they are supposed to be hollow inside – and we never quite know in advance if they are or aren't. When we slit them and see that they are nice and puffy and hollow, it feels almost like winning the lottery.

Now, the filling is the best part – everyone can use their favorite filling of course, and any topping your heart desires. We simplified and used whipped cream with some cocoa powder. It was delicious! And as you will notice in the pictures below, we made them round, not elongated.

I wish I had taken a picture of those little fellows ready to be eaten, filled with cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar – but as soon as they were ready, we were too busy making tea and setting the table. Delicious and fun!







Monday, October 1, 2007

More opportunities, but less happiness. How come?

This article was sent to me by a reader (thank you!), and I decided to share it with you because it discusses an issue I've been thinking about for the past year or two – and something I've already touched a couple of times since I started blogging.

It's a conclusion I just couldn't avoid, from my own observations and experience, and from sharing the experience of many women much older, wiser and more mature than myself. It's the following simple, yet often such an elusive statement: you can't have it all. If you think you can, that's an illusion. We are human beings with limited time and resources, and when we try to do too much at once, something is inevitably compromised. We can let this make us feel bitter and unfulfilled, or strain ourselves beyond our endurance – or we can let the 'have it all' myth go, and allow peace, contentment and order back into our lives.

If you are a young woman of this generation, most likely you have been told more than once you should 'live to fulfill your potential'; you've been encouraged to pursue a prestigious degree and a high-paying career – because you have the brains, skill and opportunity to do it. No, you probably weren't explicitly told you should abandon and neglect your role as a woman, daughter, sister, wife, helpmeet, mother, homemaker, nurturer – only someone forgot to tell you how exactly you are supposed to cram it all into your life.

The result? More opportunities, more money, fun, activity, independence – and less happiness.

A few comments by other readers of this article that caught my eye:

'Lists and piles….those are the bane of most adult women’s existence: make the dental cleaning appointment for the daughter; mail in the soccer club check and form for the son; compile the grocery list for the week (and do the shopping); pick up the husband’s shirt and pants at the drycleaners; write in the family calendar the days the kids have off from school. And, in your spare time, work a 40+plus hour a week job where you are appreciated (and handsomely rewarded) because of your attention to detail.'

'Even as women’s obligations in the home remained the same as before they entered the workforce in greater numbers during the 1970s, their contributions to family life were devalued by both men and women. They were sold the idea that they could be hard-charging boardroom dynamos by day and feminine nurturers by night, earning twice the satisfaction their mothers did. Conversely, men learned decades ago that even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat, and are happy with that.'

' We’re less happy because we’re tired. We’re expected to do it all and be all things to all men. I have to take care of my husband, my children, and I’m expected to care about the world. It’s too much. I’m ready to crash and burn.'