Sunday, June 30, 2013

That Darn Cat

That Darn Cat is a very funny 1965 Disney movie featuring a Siamese tomcat who helps FBI investigate a serious crime. Not alone, of course, but together with his owner, a cute teenage girl. That Darn Cat is a great film for the whole family, and especially for the animal lovers among us. Made me think about what is our cat doing when he goes outside every night. He is probably up to no good, as well:)

Watch the whole movie over here: That Darn Cat

Below is the opening title sequence:

Friday, June 28, 2013

XXI Century Housekeeping Trends

Housekeeping, just like everything else is influenced by the current fashions. There are some interesting trends in modern housekeeping which I'd like to write about.

Little House On The Prairie trend is all about living a simple, pioneer style life. Those who are trying to follow it will often tell you that cities are full of sin and iniquity and that living in the country is much better. If they can't right away move to some remote farm, they will try to recreate the farm life as far as possible, growing their own food, raising chickens etc.

The Back To Nature trend is close to the one mentioned above, with one difference: while the Little House On The Prairie lifestyle appeals more to conservative/ fundamentalist Christians, the Back To Nature style is more for the environmentally minded people (who may or may not be Christians). For the rest, they are chiefly interested in the same thing: local produce, thrift, making your own things, which will sometimes include such exotic hobbies as spinning and weaving.

Vintage/Victorian trend is similar in some ways to the two others, but there is more accent on refinement and old-fashioned values and often clothes. Women who follow it will often wear vintage styles, organise Victorian tea parties and study calligraphy in order to write letters. In their free time instead of spinning they will practice playing the piano.

Efficient Housewife style is for women who want to run their household as a little factory. Their day is usually planned till the last minute, and if you want to visit them, you must make an appointment a month before. The floor is so clean you can eat from it, and everything is always in its place. Children aren't allowed to bring their schoolfriends home, because they will make a mess.

Bohemian trend is in total opposition to the efficient one, as there is usually a creative mess everywhere in the house. The husband has to search for clean shirts, and the meals are never on time, but the wife is always busy with something creative, like working on the latest dress or her home business (which in that case seldom brings any profit, but just gives her "something to do").

Then there is posh housekeeping where the family are wealthy enough to hire help and where there are standards to keep. Think along the lines of "Keeping Up Appearances", and you will get a general idea of what it means. On the other hand, we have tightwad or extreme thrift trend which some people practise because they really have no spare money, and others do it because they are a modern version of Scrooge.

Well, I hope it was helpful. If you know any other trends which modern housewives follow, feel free to mention them in the comments section. In case someone didn't notice, all of the above was written tongue-in-cheek.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tea Bread

I baked it on Monday. Here is the recipe:

5c all purpose flour
2pkg dry yeast (14g)
3dl milk
1 egg
50g butter, melted
2TBSP sugar
2.5 TSP salt

Combine flour and salt, mix well. Dissolve yeast  in warm milk, stir into the flour mixture, together with melted butter and the egg. Mix and knead till smooth end elastic (it was actually very easy to knead and didn't require much effort); cover and let rise for about 35 min. Knead one more time and roll out, spread about 1 TBSP jam and roll up. I also twisted it a bit, hence the form of the loaf. Let rise for another 35 min. Place on the greased baking sheet and bake at 240*C for about 25 min. Take out, brush with milk and return to the oven for 1 more minute. It tastes great with butter and jam by a cup of tea or coffee.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Home Magazines I Like

Someone asked me about European home magazines, so I decided to write a post featuring some of the magazines I read. I don't make any money on advertising, I just really happen to like them. Unfortunately, nearly all of these magazines are not available in my country, so when I go on vacation to Germany I always buy a whole bunch of them.

Germany has a great choice of all sorts of ladies' magazines, about cooking, gardening, interior decoration, crafts and such like. I think Burda is famous all over the world. I'm not that good at sewing, but I always buy the knitting magazine from Burda called Verena which is also available in Dutch:

I like the patterns they feature and they also have some interesting articles about new yarns and trends. It's practically the only knitting magazine which I buy.
 Rezepte Pur is a cooking magazine in German which has no articles of any sorts, only the recipes:

In contrast to similar Dutch magazines it only costs 99 cents and you get a lot for your money. They also publish menues for the whole month and have the suggestions for quick meals for busy people (like me!:)

Then you have Lisa, which publishes several magazines for women on various topics. I'm not sure whether they are all wholesome, but I always buy two of them, Lisa Wohnen, about interior decoration; and Lisa Blumen und Pflanzen, about gardening:

Lisa Wohnen has Do-It-Yourself projects and sometimes even features housewives, like the issue above. German interior magazines also often show normal, average people instead of wealthy double income couples who buy houses for more than one million euros and then pay one more million to renovate them according to modern standards. Lisa Blumen Und Pflanzen, for instance, also has suggestions for people who have a small balcony instead of a garden:

Lisa Wohnen offers entertainment tips and, of course, recipes. Besides Lisa, there is also Laura Wohnen, a great magazine which is basically a different version of Lisa, it also has DIY projects, articles on different decoratiing styles, home makeovers, recipes etc etc. It's more about home than about garden though, and by some reason I prefer it to Lisa Wohnen, probably because it's more shabby chic.

The last magazine I'd like to talk about today is Wohnen Und Garten, which is all about cottages, cottage gardens and things like that. The photography is simply gorgeous. The June 2013 issue had an article about Jane Austen:

and some delicious summer recipes:

Well, that about sums it up! I hope it was helpful.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Modesty

A lot of ladies complain that they can't find modest clothes in the shops. It may be true to some degree, but I believe sometimes it can be helped. Take this dress, for instance:

It's low cut and sleeveless:

And this top:

It looks more like underwear and is made of sheer fabric. Both items are not the most modest things to wear. However, what happens if we combine them?

As you can see, the cleavage is covered now. Here you can take a closer look:

It is now decent enough to wear around the house in warm weather, but it's still sleeveless, so if you go out, you'll probably want to pair it up with a cardigan, like this:

A short-sleeved cardigan is ideal when it's hot outside:

When the weather is cooler, you can opt for a cardi with long sleeves, like that:

Add the shoes of your choice, and your outfit is complete!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chastity And Modesty

Some time ago I wrote several posts covering lessons from Helen Andelin's famous book Fascinating Womanhood. They were quite a success judging by the amount of traffic they received and I was planning to write more but my attention became diverted by other things. So many subjects to blog about, so little time:)

Anyway, today I decided to return to the topic of good character and what qualities constitute it, as described at length in the Chapter 16 of the book The Worthy Character. You can find my previous posts about it if you click on the label Fascinating Womanhood on the right side of the blog.

So far I have written about self-control, moral courage and diligence. Today I'd like to talk about chastity. Chastity nowadays is a very politically incorrect subject, and one needs a lot of moral courage to discuss it in public:) Isn't it strange that certain sins have become so politicised that in some countries they are protected with a special set of laws? According to Mrs Andelin, chastity "...means to be sexually pure, to not have sexul relationships with anyone but the person to whom you are legally married, and not to have any impure thoughts or actions. " (FW., p. 220, Bantam Books 1992).

The author goes on to enumerate various sins against chastity and proceeds with a list of reasons why sexual immorality is harmful. She mentions such consequencies as broken relationships, emotional illness resulting from the rebellion against the spiritual laws and even downfall of the nations.

Since the majority of my readers are probably Christians and have heard about theTen Commandments, I don't think there is need to go into much detail on this topic, however, there is something which I'd like to point out. Nowadays we have a tendency to talk about things which are better left to the private sphere. When watching "I Love Lucy" I noticed many times that men would not discuss certain things in the presence of the women and vice versa.

In one episode Lucy pretends to be a man but is easily outed by Ricky because she won't listen to a dirty joke. Chastity is more than not commiting adultery or fornication, it's also refraining from watching porn or reading trashy novels with pornographic themes in them, or discussing bedroom preferences of your husband with others.

Chastity is closely connected with modesty as modesty is based on the same idea: not revealing things which should be private to the eyes of strangers. As Mrs Andelin puts it: "Higher types of civilisation have traditionally been modest." (FW., p. 250). Which reminds me: it's summer again!

The weather may be warm, but still it's better to resist the temptation of going out in the equivalent of underwear (actually, Victorian underwear used to cover more than what some people are wearing now), if only from the purely practical point of view. While we need some exposure to the sunlight for the vitamin D production, sun burns can lead to skin cancer, and it's a serious thing.

Summer modesty and summer fashions could be the topic of discussion on their own, so I'll quit here. Next time I'm planning to write about some home magazines, as requested. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Case For The Traditional Marriage

Traditional marriage  has long been under attack. Contrary to what some people think, this attack didn't start in the 1960s, but much earlier. It has been rather popular nowadays to assign the blame for its demise solely to women, but how true is it?

Not so long ago, the law of many Western countries recognised the man as the head of the family, but this authority came with the responsibility, as it was expected from the man that he would provide the living. I remember a sermon in our church when an elderly guest preacher said that in his times men didn't see their children, because when they came home from work, children were already in bed, and by the way, Saturday was a working day too, until the end of the 1960s. Than the reform was undertaken, which reduced working hours for men and also eliminated their legal status as the head of the family. Was it a coincidence? Somehow I don't think so.

Since that time most women moved into the workforce and assumed part-time positions, while their husbands started working less and less. However, if you calculate the total amount of hours worked by an average couple with the man in full time employment and his part-time working wife, you'll come to about 50 hours a week and that was how long men used to work in them bad old days of patriarchal oppression. In short, men got emancipated, too, selling their birthright for shorter working hours.

Divorce laws in my country were pretty liberal already since the end of the 19th century, but the divorce rate started growing steadily since married women had entered the employment in large numbers. Several years ago there was a researh which showed that the longer hours the wife worked the higher chance of divorce the couple had, because the man started feeling neglected. When a case is made for married women to stay home, it's usually about the children who miss their mother, but apparently (what a novel thought!), men have their needs, too.

Another big problem with female employment is that a lot of women work in the government-subsidized positions, and their salaries are paid by the taxpayer. Most young girls graduate with diplomas in nursing, teaching and social work and have to compete for positions with married part-timers, while the economy is doing worse every year, and as the governments across Europe implement austerity measures, the amount of jobs for women keeps shrinking.

I believe in general it's rather unproductive to keep discussing who is more responsible for the current mess, men or women. The correct answer is probably both. The modern ideas about marriage are based on the idea of both husband and wife basically continuing to live their separate lives after marriage, which, of course, will never work in practise. The whole idea of marriage is two becoming one flesh. It's time we stopped demanding more rights and started remembering about our duties.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

Just a bit of poetry for the Father's Day. 

IF, by R. Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting, too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build them up with worn out tools,

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss,
If you can force your heart, and nerve, and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them, "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And which is more, you'll be a Man, my son!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Basic Bread Recipe

As you have probably noticed by now, I really do like baking:) This week I have been experimenting with a basic bread recipe from my cooking book. My first experiment was not very successful as I reduced both the amount of flour and water, and as a result the dough was too dry and I wasn't able to knead it properly. It didn't rise well, either, and that's what we got:

It doesn't look impressive, does it? We ate it all though, but I was determined to redeem myself, so I made one more attempt, and that's what I got the second time:

Looks quite different, doesn't it? Tastes different, too:)

Here is what I used: the basic recipe calls for 500g flour, which is about 5 cups. I used about 1c whole wheat flour + 4 c all purpose flour, 3tsp salt, 1 pkg (7g) dry yeast, 3.25dl water and 2 TBSP olive oil. As you see, the ingredients are very simple, especially comparing with the stuff they put into the bread from the store. You will need to knead it, then let rise for 30-45 min (I did 35 min both times), then knead it again, place it on a greased baking sheet and let it rise for the 2nd time. The book suggested rolling the dough into a rectangle, then rolling it up, which I did the first time, but not the second. You can also use a loaf pan (don't forget to grease it!), but I decided that I prefer my bread round.  You bake it at 240*C for about 25 minutes. When ready, brush water over it and return to the oven for 1 more minute.

Next time I'm planning to make "fine milkbread". Will write about my successes (or the lack thereof:).

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Conqueror

After all the baking posts (and there is one more coming tomorrow), it's time for a book review. One of the books I read last year was "The Conqueror" by Georgette Heyer, and it's the story about William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and King of England, who was also known by the name of William the Bastard.

The book was first published in 1931 and then republished in the 1960s. I was lucky enough to find a 1966 copy in a second-hand book store. Georgette Heyer is a very good writer who wrote historical novels, which are unfortunately out of print, otherwise I'd probably read all of them:)

The story begins before William's birth, when his mother has a dream about a tree growing out of her womb with huge branches that cover both Normandy and England. After this, we meet William again when he is 19 years of age and is surrounded by enemies who dispute his right to rule Normandy since he is but a bastard son of the late Duke, and what is worse, his mother was a commoner.

We see William through the eyes of one of his knights, Raoul de Harcourt, the youngest son of Hubert de Harcourt, who chooses to serve him. He is a young man with fine principles which makes him a laughing stock of his two half-brothers who think him to be more suited for a monastery than for the army. Nevertheless, he saves the Duke's life,  fights well by his side, despite his initial aversion to bloodshed, and gains an important position by the Duke's court.

When William falls in love with Matilda, a daughter of Count Baldwine the Wise, he sends Raoul and another knight with a marriage proposal, but Matilda is called the White Witch not for nothing: she refuses the Duke in no uncertain terms,  as she considers herself to be too good for a bastard son of a commoner. The Duke gets so mad that he comes to her father's house and beats her black and blue with a horse whip in the presence of her sister and her maidservants. The lashing produces such an impression on Matilda that she falls desperately in love with the Duke and is only too happy to agree when he asks her the second time.

Even William's knights were quite surprised and one of them asked her how could she agree to a marriage with a man who treated her so, to which she answered: " seemed to me that he must be a man of great courage and high daring who could venture to come and beat me in my own father's palace, and therefore a fitting mate for me." (p.141, Pan Books Ltd, 1966).

Their marriage was actually quite happy and they got an awful lot of children (my mother tells me something like 12, though the book mentioned only a couple), though the Duke spent most of his time away from home. The book goes into great detail describing his political and military successes and shows William as an ambitious man, a good leader and a brilliant politician. He was quite humane for his times and prefered to win his enemies to his side instead of crushing them.

For instance, when he captured one of his enemies, Guy, the Count of Ponthieu, William declared he would let him go free without ransom on the condition that the count would pay him homage. To quote the book : "He (the count) was prepared to endure shackles, a dungeon, perhaps torture, but it was no part of William's policy to arouse hatred in one whom he meant to make his vassal. The Count was honourably entreated, and might have whatsoever he desired, save only freedom." (p. 180, idem).

William's thoughts on women were quite different, and he gave his knight the following advice concerning them: "...women are not as men, and in my experience they do not hate their conquerors. Tenderness is not so much their need as strength....Never waste gentleness to capture a woman's heart: she will deem you a weakling, and be done with you."

The book also describes Harold, William's chief rival for the throne of England. Both men are courageous and ambitious, both inspire admiration in the hearts of their followers, but Harold gets more than this, he is genuinely loved by his knights, while William is respected and feared. In one episode, Harold saves a soldier drowning in quicksand. He pulls him out risking his own life to the cheers of the whole army and it makes him widely popular. The Duke remarks to his brother that had he chosen to do the same, it would have been from policy, not from the genuine feeling of sympathy. In the end, as we all know, scheming William triumphs over his enemy and becomes the King of England.

Raoul spends all these years by his lord's side and people call him a Watcher. Though he takes part in war and is the first to volunteer for a dangerous job, he detests fighting. His father, who has always considered him some sort of a sissy, takes great pleasure in hearing that his son can occasionally slit a man's throat without thinking twice. Yet, Raoul never seems to want anything for himself. He is not interested in titles, money or lands, but it all changes when he falls in love with  Elfrida, a Saxon maiden who is his friend's sister.

This love changes him as he experiences the desire to possess something for the first time in his life. When Saxons lose the war, Elfrida takes back her promise to marry him and it breaks through his reserve and for the first time in his life he displays harshness, or as the book puts it: "The gentle chivalry he had practised all his life was thrust under by some more primitive emotion." (p. 341). Naturally, Elfrida falls to his feet and they marry and live happily ever after, and as a bonus, he gets her dead brother's lands.

The book provides many interesting historical details about the period, but has a lot of bloodshed, considering that it was written by a woman. The battles are described very realistically, and it has a very touching chapter when Raoul searches for his Saxon friend who fought on the other side and finds him on the battle field, dying. I would recommend it to all who are interested in historical fiction.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

An Ideal Apple Pie

Technically speaking, apple pie is probably not exactly the right name for it. Officially it's called Altlaender Apfelkuchen which could be translated as apple cake. Whatever you choose to call it, it really tastes great!:)  I got the recipe from this magazine:

and adjusted it slightly.

You will need:

6 medium apples (750g)
2TBSP lemon juice
50g raisins
1TBSP rum
125g butter
100g sugar (about 1/2c)
1pkg vanilla sugar (8g)
salt to taste
175g flour (1c plain flour is about 105g)
2 TSP baking powder
1TBSP apricot jam

26cm baking pan

Line the baking pan with paper, set aside. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the core. Make cuts in the round side of the apple halves, but don't cut through. Sprinkle them with lemon juice. Let raisins soak in rum. Cream butter and sugar, vanilla sugar and salt. Add eggs and beat until foamy. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the butter mixture. Mix well and transfer into baking pan. Spread the dough evenly. Add the apples, place them with the round side up. Sprinkle with  raisins. Bake at 175*C for about 45 min. Warm the apricot jam over medium heat and brush the apples with it. It will keep them fresh longer.

Serve with tea or coffee:

It is delicious!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Excitement, Intrigues And Romance

Just a bit of shameless self-promotion:)

The music number is Five Armies by Kevin MacLeod.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saving Money On Groceries

There are several things to keep in mind if you want to save money on groceries. First is the necessity of budgeting. I have written about it before in detail in this article. If you work out a budget and stick to it, it will considerably reduce your expenses.

The second thing to do when money is tight is to try and reduce your consumption. To do it effectively you'll need to differentiate between needs and wants. For instance, potatoes are a need, a bag of potato chips is a want. The same goes for candy, chocolate, chewing gum, soda, alcohol and the like. Those things are not wrong in themselves but they are not necessary for your daily functioning, either. A glass of wine by dinner is a luxury, and no child ever died due to being deprived of snickers and cola.

Third, you can try to switch to cheaper brands. A supermarket usually has its own  brands which tend to be the cheapest. The difference in price is often considerable. For instance, biological jam in a special shop can cost as much as 3 euros per jar, while the cheapest supermarket brand is 85 cents. The same goes for coffee and other things.

Convenience foods and ready meals which need only to be heated tend to be more expensive. Also, sometimes it can be cheaper to bake your own bread. Learn to calculate the cost of the meal made of fresh ingredients and compare it with the convenience food equivalents.

Build your menus around sales. Don't go for fancy recipes with exotic ingredients. Simple food can be nutritious, too. Cook with the ingredients which are in season. You can also try farmers' markets which often have lower prices than supermarkets.

Substitute cheaper ingredients in your recipes for more expensive ones. There are some things you won't wish to go without, like fruit, but if it's very expensive, you can substitute it with tomatoes, or dried fruit which can be used in breakfast cereals. Switch to low-fat milk and if money is really tight, consider using margarine and various bread spreads instead of real butter.

If you have small children, make your own meals for them instead of buying insanely expensive baby food. If you don't know how, Google is your friend. The same goes for pets, you don't really need to buy expensive pet food. I'll admit that it's convenient, but if it really costs you a lot of money, you'll probably want to consider cheaper equivalents or find out how to make your own.

Don't buy paper towels, use cloth instead. You can also use old newspapers or advertisement fliers. Instead of buying juice for your children, think of using syrup which can be mixed with water. Plastic bags for cat litter boxes tend to be rather expensive nowadays, but can be substituted with regular garbage bags. Soap bars last longer than liquid soap in bottles, and meat from the freezer is cheaper than the fresh one. The same goes for vegetables, if the fresh vegetables are too expensive, buy canned or frozen instead.

When a product which you regularly use is on sale, stockpile on it. Potatoes can be expensive, too, but you can substitute them with rice, beans, pasta or bread. You could also consider reducing the amount of meat you eat as a family. While meat is important, and I would never suggest going completely vegetarian, you don't have to eat it every day to stay healthy. It can be substituted with fish, eggs or cheese, or you can reduce the amount of meat per portion but add cheese or eggs to your dish to compensate for the protein loss.

When you are doing shopping, have a list of all the things you need and stick to it, avoiding the temptation to buy unnecessary stuff only because it's on sale. Practice self-control and learn your children to do the same. A good housewife is a good manager who can make her husband's paycheck go a long way, if necessary.

 We all have been through difficult periods in our life when we had to watch every penny. Saving money is an art, and if you have a proper mindset you'll start finding your own ways to economise. Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Experiments In The Kitchen

or how to bake a cake.

Baking is one of my hobbies, but until now I have always followed the recipes I found in magazines or cookbooks, sometimes with slight changes but nevertheless...And then one day I decided to try and create my own recipe, mainly because I wanted to bake something sweet for the evening tea but didn't have all of the ingredients mentioned in my favourite recipes. So I read a chapter on baking in one of my books and found out that there are some simple principles which if you follow them will allow you to bake any sort of cake you like. It's mostly the question of right proportions.

An "ideal" cake is one where the amount of all the necessary ingredients is the same, like this:

100g flour (+1 1/2g salt)
100g butter, softened
100g sugar
100g eggs (2 medium ones)
100g dry filling

In this case you won't need to use baking powder, soda or self-raising flour.

You can reduce the amount of butter and eggs, substituting them with milk, however, you will have to follow certain rules to achieve a good result. The first rule is that the amount of butter and/or eggs should not be less than 50% of the total amount of flour, otherwise it will change the structure of the dough too much. For every 50g butter and/or egg which you omit, you should add 2 tablespoons milk. In this case, you will also have to use self-raising flour or baking powder (1tsp per 1 c flour).

To achieve a different taste, you can use vanilla, lemon juice, cocoa etc and the ideas for filling include stuff like raisins, nuts, rasped chocolate, apples and the like. You can serve your cake with whipped cream, jam or add a frosting of your choice.

So I played a bit with the ingredients and came up with this:

It probably doesn't look that spectacular to you, but I'm quite proud of it, because it's the first cake the recipe for which I created myself, and it was a success. In fact, it is already eaten (sweet things don't live long in our house).

Here is the recipe:

1.5c flour (150g)
1.5tsp baking powder
15 tbsp powder sugar (I used it because I didn't have enough regular sugar. It gives the cake a rather dry structure, but I liked it).
2 eggs (that would be approximately 100g)
4tbsp milk
50g butter + 6tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil, because I didn't have enough butter, either).
1tsp vanilla extract
1c raisins

Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a greased cake pan.  Bake at 160*C for about 50 minutes, or until ready. If you have any original cake recipe of your own, feel free to share it in the comments section!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How To Find Contentment At Home

I think that the key to contentment at home is to always remember that what you are doing as a wife, mother and homemaker is important. Woman's work is just as important as that of a man. God created us as male and female for a reason, so that we would complete each other. Both man and woman have their own roles to play. Isn't it strange that so-called advocates for women have such unmerited contempt for all things traditionally female? It just doesn't make sense.

I'd like to say that it's OK to be a woman and to have womanly interests. Men and women are different, and to try to erase this difference is to rebel against God and Nature. This whole modern liberal crusade against the laws of biology and common sense is ridiculous, to say the least. I just keep wondering that normal people fell for this nonsense, no doubt under the influence of that magic word, choice.

For too long a time, women were supposed to live according to the traditional standards reserved for men. Woman's life got measured by her achievements in the working world, not in her family. She was lauded for having a good career, not a good marriage, well-bred children and peaceful home life. The traditional female hobbies and interests were (and are) denigrated. I'd say, enough is enough. Why should women be ashamed of themselves? Why should everybody be the same? Long live sexual dimorphism:)

It didn't start now, of course. If you ever watched I Love Lucy, you'll remember that Lucy was jealous of her husband's professional success, and did many stupid things which often put his career in jeopardy, to draw attention to herself. I could never understand the mindset of a woman jealous of her husband's career, but it was probably typical for many women of her generation who wouldn't work themselves but raised their daughters to be feminists.

Those who argue against feminism will often point out that the working world is not so glamorous as one thinks, and staying home is a much better option. They are right, but only to a degree. Many women fail to find satisfaction in the working world, not because of the lack of glamour, but simply because they are women and being such, value different things than men. It's not for nothing that when women entered the professions en masse they started lobbying for changes such as flexible working hours.

Feminists can shout from the rooftops about progress they have achieved in feminising various industries but if the working place becomes too feminised, men will simply leave it and move somewhere else. It's not because they are "afraid of strong independent women", but simply because they have different interests and ideas. It's time we as society admitted it, but it probably won't happen in the near future. Anyway, only the dead fish goes with the current. We can start changing the society now by simply admitting the fact of the difference of the sexes and acting accordingly.

It's OK to be a woman. It's not shameful to wear pretty dresses and like frilly things. It's not unnatural to choose motherhood over career. It's not wrong to have more interest in knitting patterns than in automatic rifles. Don't compare yourself to men. Don't think in terms of: "I could have made a better career than John." Think instead: "How could I make my home prettier than the neighbour's?"

I'd like to end with this quote from "Fascinating Womanhood" by Helen Andelin: "The feminine woman is naturally oriented to her womanhood. She is proud to be a woman and happy to fill her destiny as a wife and mother, anxious to make a happy home for her loved ones. Her career is a career in the home. Her occupation is to live her daily life. Her glory is the esteem of her husband and the happiness of her children." (p.247, Bantam Books, 1992).

Monday, June 3, 2013

Some Interesting Facts About Mozart

 Did you know that Mozart had been a Freemason?

I must say right away that I'm not a specialist on Mozart:) I base my information on a Wiki article about one of his operas, Die Zauberfleute (The Magic Flute), which premiered in September 1791 in Vienna, a couple of months before the composer's death and was a great success.

According to Wikipedia, the opera has prominent Masonic elements and was heavily influenced by the Enlightenment philosophy.  According to some researchers, the wicked Queen of the Night symbolises the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, who was anti-Masonic.

The Queen of the Night deceives a young handsome prince called Tamino telling him that the evil king Sarastro  abducted her daughter, instructs him to rescue her and gives him a magic flute. However, Sarastro is not at all evil, he is an enlightened sovereign who rules according to reason. Sarastro refuses to return the girl to her mother due to the latter's bad influence, but he informs Tamino that he can win the princess if he undergoes the trials which will make him enlightened, too.

In the end, the Queen of the Night and her servants are cast into the eternal night, the lovers come together, and after giving thanks to the heathen gods Isis an Osiris, everybody enters the new era of brotherhood (and presumably, equality and liberty:) And people nowadays complain about Harry Potter:)

Anyway, the music is amazingly beautiful. In the clip you can see the wicked queen inciting her daughter to murder Sarastro.

If you want to know more about the topic, click on the link above.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Breakfast Ideas

Breakfasts in our household are rather simple. Mostly it's Scandinavian crisp bread/toast with butter and jam and a cup of milk, or some cereal; sometimes it can be croissants with hot chocolate, and, of course, fruit. Today I decided to bake waffles.

If you don't have a waffle iron, may be you should consider investing in one, as waffles always make for a good breakfast!:) Well, at least they do in my house...

I have tried many recipes, but decided to go for a basic one today. It's easy to adjust for any number of people. For 1c of flour you will need to add 1tsp of baking powder, salt to taste, 2tbsp of sugar, about 30g butter, 1 egg and about 4/5c of milk (adjust the amount of milk to achieve a liquid batter which is not too thin). Butter needs to be melted before adding. This will be enough for 4 big waffles (such as those shown in the picture).

You can serve them with butter and powder sugar like I did or with anything you like. They are best served warm when they are still crispy, if they cool off they become too soft, but you can warm them up in the toaster. If you have any favourite breakfast ideas or recipes, feel free to share!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Meanwhile On The Home Front...

No, I have not disappeared! I just ran out of ideas (temporarily:), plus there were some other things I had to attend to. Life can be hectic sometimes, can't it? We have rather strange weather over here, one day it's warm and looks and feels like summer, and then the wind changes and we have winter again. This has been so far the coldest spring since 1962...

When it's warm and sunny I have more energy and try to do more around the house, but also spend some time sitting outside and just reading a book or knitting. I had a total lack of motivation to work on a sleeveless summery tunic when the temperatures outside were close to the freezing point (OK, it was only +9*C which is still very cold for May around here), but yesterday I picked up my knitting again and made some progress. In fact, the back of the tunic is nearly finished, I just need a couple more hours. Here it is:

It may look rather boring to you, but on the front side the tunic will have some colourful squares. In fact, it's supposed to look like this:

I bought a dress to wear with it at the market (not so short as in the picture:), though considering our weather I should have probably better started working on a thick winter sweater:) What weather are you all having?

PS. Please pray for my neighbour. He is very sick and has a dependent wife and three children.