Sunday, June 29, 2014

On Integrity

According to the Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture which I own, integrity is strength and firmness of character or principle; honesty, trustworthiness and also a state of being whole and undivided; completeness.

Integrity basically means not compromising your principles, not engaging in unholy alliances and practising what you preach. It is a quality of character solely missed nowadays, and unfortunately, not only by unbelievers.

The Bible warns Christians not be unequally yoked because there can be nothing in common between light and darkness. There can be no compromise between a Christian and a hedonistic, nihilistic post-modern world view and there can also be nothing in common between traditional Western Christianity and modern progressive ideology.

Progressives always speak in terms of oppressors and oppressed and advocate for equality, which for them never means equal dignity but rather the redistribution of power and material goods.

As applied to the relationship between the sexes, progressives seeks equality between men and women which for them basically means that both sexes must have the same rights and responsibilities. This system doesn't work and it won't work, no matter how the social engineers are trying to push it, simply because men and women are different. 

While feminists undoubtedly started it, there is no use for certain men to lament that women don't want to support themselves and prefer cushy government jobs to labouring in some ardous field, or that they often miss the same dedication men will demonstrate in their profession. You also can't say you are an anti-feminist and then expect your wife to have a career and support herself.

Patriarchy doesn't really mean the man staying at home drinking beer while his wife (or even wives as some of those propagating the new doctrine seem to support polygamy) is out there slaying dragons and bringing home the bacon.

In all of the world history, starting with Ancient Rome and Greece, extra rights meant also additional responsibilities. For instance, voting rights were tied up to the army service, that's why female suffrage is utterly dishonest since women aren't required to register for draft or fight in wars. However, the solution to the problem is not pushing women to become soldiers, as both feminists and certain men's rights activists want, but the restriction of the female suffrage as it should be obvious to anyone with  half a brain cell, that the majority of women won't make good soldiers.

In the same manner, when the law made the man the head of the family, he also had to financially support his wife (I've written about this on my blog before). In the times of the Vikings, the government even had established the minimum bride price the man had to pay if he wished to marry, the reasoning behind it being that if a man was too poor to pay the minimum amount of money required by law he obviously wouldn't be able to support a family and hence had no business to marry.

Nowadays, both men and women want to have all sorts of rights, but nobody seems to want to have any duties. I'm not sure how long we as society can go on in the same manner, but something tells me that not very long any more. As Christians, we are called to be better than this and to live according to God's Law which clearly states that there are distinctive roles for men and women within the family and society.

Morally speaking, both men and women are fallen human beings who can be redeemed by God's grace and neither sex is better than the other. Men and women have equal dignity in Christ, but separate duties and responsibilities. A man should be respected for being the leader, protector and provider, and the woman for being the wife, mother and homemaker. Both roles are important and essential for the good functioning of society. The sex differences are good, because God created them.

Let's try to live our life according to a higher standard and show a good example of what being complementarian really means.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bewitched, A Review

Someone gave me Season 1 of the 1960-1970s TV series called Bewitched which is quite popular in the housewives' circles. I finished watching it today and decided to write a blog post about it.

My regular readers must have noticed that I'm often posting book and film reviews. The reason for it is that I'd like to promote some quality entertainment since what we typically have to deal with now, is often so trashy.

So what about Bewitched? Years ago I used to read a homemakers' forum where the women were swearing by it. This TV series is a story about a witch by the name of Samantha who marries an ordinary man working for a big advertising agency. Witches in the series are shown as some sort of supernatural beings with extremely long life, not as normal human beings who studied witchcraft. They normally don't intermarry with humans, thus the series makes all sorts of hints about mixed marriages (this being 1960s and all).

Samantha's family is not thrilled with her marrying Darren and her mother constantly pops in and plays all sorts of tricks on her unfortunate son-in-law, some of them pretty sadistic (there is, of course, a double meaning behind it, what man doesn't think at times his mother-in-law is a witch?)

Samantha, on the other hand, is determined to play the role of a typical suburban housewife, not relying on witchcraft, as she promised to her husband on her wedding day, the promise which she continually keeps breaking. That's the basic plot of the story.

On the plus side, the show positively depicts housewives and the woman's role in the family, it gives a glimpse into the 1960s society when people still were neighbourly, wives dressed up for dinner and the homemaker was still a respected career choice. Samantha withstands her mother's constant negative remarks about her choosing domestic drudgery as opposed to living a life of glamour, she is determined to create a peaceful, cosy domestic environment for her husband and demonstrates sympathetic understanding when he is late home for dinner because of the office troubles.

The series stress the importance of mutual understanding between the spouses, keeping alive the romance and not taking each other for granted. The clothes and the interiors are beautiful and there is an element of the fairy tale in it all. On the other hand...

On the other hand, Samantha is a witch. All her family are witches and warlocks (which is actually a correct term for a male witch). Witches are shown as glamorous, sophisticated and cool, as opposed to mere mortals and actually, much better overall. Those humans who disagree are intolerant bigots who oppress minorities (that's when it all started). In one episode, Samantha and her three aunts  even stage a protest against the hurtful stereotyping of a minority (i.e. witches).

Nearly all men in the show are horny as heck and Darren, despite being so much in love with his own wife, certainly is not an exception when it comes to showing attention to pretty girls. His boss who is several years his senior constantly keeps complaining about   his wife getting too old and is shown at home reading a magazine with girls in bikinis.

Women are not portrayed much better, either. Nearly all single women are sexual predators who keep hunting after men, especially married men. Especially Samantha's husband. The topic of divorce is constantly discussed, with Samantha's mother Endora (I wonder if she was called after the Witch of Endor) doing everything possible to destroy her daughter's family. In one episode, she even brings Samantha's ex-boyfriend, a warlock with the looks of James Bond, to their house.

All men also drink. They drink at work and after work and at all hours and some of them get pretty drunk, too (which wasn't shown either in I Love Lucy or I Dream Of Jeannie).  By the way, I wonder if the Mad Men was not a rip off of Bewitched, since there are certain similarities between the two.

Samantha is doing her best at home, but there is really no idea of a man being definitely in charge, like Ricky was in I Love Lucy. In the series about Jeannie, she actually called Tony Nelson her master and had to obey him. In Bewitched, it looks like Darren constantly needs to learn a lesson about how to behave towards his wife, and more often than not, he makes a fool out of himself.

However, what did it for me, was the episode when Samantha conjured the spirit of the dead to scare the neighbour lady. As a Christian, I couldn't in good conscience keep viewing it so I got rid of the DVD and I'm not planning to watch Season 2. So at first I wasn't sure whether to post a review but then decided to go on with it. I realise that your standards may be not the same as mine, but at least, you can now make an informed choice whether to watch it or not!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stress Avoidance For Homemakers

How not to lose your sanity to avoid stress at home.

There are several simple rules.

Rule number one: declutter. You don't need that much stuff. You don't need all these clothes, and children could do with less toys. It's a good idea to regularly go through your closets, cupboards, storage places and house in general and remove things/clothes/gadgets/old magazines and the like which are out of date/broken/not used within a year. If they are still functional, you can give them to your family or friends or donate to the charity store, otherwise just throw them away. The less stuff you have, the easier it is to take care of it.

However, decluttering is not only about material possessions, it's totally possible to clutter your schedule and your life with too many hobbies or activities, so that there will be no time for the necessary things around the house to be done. Streamline your schedule and don't try to do everything at once. Choose one or two hobbies which you particularly like and let the rest go.

Rule number two. Don't let things pile up. My stress level became considerably lower after I adopted a very simple rule of always washing up the dishes right after a meal or any activity in the kitchen such as baking a pie. You may shove dirty clothes or things which need ironing out of sight temporarily, but in your subconscious you'll know they are lying there waiting for you and it will absolutely stress you out. Teach the children to clean after themselves right away, too.

Rule number three: prioritise. Every household will have its own priorities.If you've just had a baby, taking care of him will be your priority. If you are a homeschooling mother, than your children's education will be your priority which means that you probably won't be able to do some things other ladies are doing. It's OK, as a homemaker you have to attend to the needs of your family which are/may be different from others.

Those three rules above are the very basics of stress reduction, but there are several other things to keep in mind while trying to reduce stress around the house.

Don't try to be someone else. It becomes especially tempting with the abundance of homemaking blogs out there which have the tendency for some women to substitute day time TV and the reality shows. You may follow the blog of that lady who is an experienced cook/gardener/homeschooling mother of 14 children/fitness freak/fill in the blank and try to be like her, but you will never succeed. One man's meat is another man's poison, they say.

You may have a busy family and no time to engage in gourmet cooking. You may have no green thumb. Your health and your husband's income probably won't allow you to have 14 kids and so long and so forth. Realise that on the net people more often than not show only one side of themselves: the best. The lady who spends 5 hours in the gym every day and has great figure may very well have a very messy house, but you won't know because she'll never tell you. The one who spends hours in the garden and wins competitions has a maid who does her housekeeping etc etc. Adjust your life according to your social position/income/health and the like.

Don't live a lifestyle trying to reenact the past in your own home. It's OK to be inspired by Victorians/Edwardians/Little House On The Prairie/I Love Lucy and whatever makes you happy in general, and you can certainly learn good things and moral values, but realise that we live in the 21st century. Some things stayed the same (both I and Lucy use vacuum cleaners), but some things changed for better or worse. Take clothes, for instance. It's still possible to look modest, dignified and feminine with styles available on the market, you don't have to recreate vintage garments or wear girdles.

The same goes about other homemaking aspects. You are not less of a homemaker if you don't grind your own flour or don't make your own washing powder. It's not that it's wrong, but you may have no time for it at this point in your life. It's not wrong to use modern conveniences when necessary.

Plan the beginning and the end of your work around the house. As you get older, you'll need more time to relax and recuperate. I read somewhere that a man can only do 6 hours of really productive labour every day, before he loses his concentration and his drive. That's why it's so important to prioritise and to plan your day accordingly. There should be an hour between the day time activities and the dinner when you call it quits and just relax and sit down with a book/crayons/needlework and enjoy life. Home is not a factory, you can always move some things to the next day.

Delegate the tasks around the house/use help. You should not boss your husband about (think of the infamous honey-to-do lists), but you can and should teach your children to help around the house. If you can afford a housekeeper and you really have a lot of housework, than hire her and don't let anyone make you feel ashamed.

Finally, simplify and minimise. Don't plan elaborate 5-course dinners, unless it's your hobby, of course. Don't overschedule to the point that you are exhausted, overwhelmed and have no time to enjoy life. Remember, life at home should bring joy, not stress.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Budget Cooking: Cranberry Cake

Yes, I still have some in the freezer. I bought them on sale after Christmas:)

You really can make this cake with any berries. If the berries are sweet, like strawberries, you will probably want to reduce the amount of sugar used. The original recipe (from The Taste Of Home) called for the rhubarb.

With cooking, you can be flexible and substitute the ingredients, though it probably won't always be a success:) I had my share of failures but still support experimenting in the kitchen.

So to make this cake, you will need:

4c frozen cranberries
1 1/2c sugar, divided
2tbsp vegetable oil + 2 tbsp butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1c flour
2tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2c milk

Combine cranberries, 1c sugar and 1/4 to 1/2 c of water, cook and stir until thickened.

Cream butter and the remaining sugar, add vegetable oil, beat in egg and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the mixture, alternately with milk. Beat until combined, pour into a greased square baking dish (ab 9"). Pour the cranberries mixture over the batter. Bake at 175*C (350F) for about 30 to 35 minutes. Serve as a dessert.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Rules For Commenting On This Blog

Since I'm now having more visitors and thus more (potential) commenters I thought it would be a good idea to write this post.

I really dislike deleting comments and I have only done it once so far for advocating an illegal activity, and I really hope I won't have to use my moderator powers too often.

So here it comes:

I expect my commenters to adhere to some standard of decency, which means:

1. No profanity. If you post a link to an article containing profanity, add a warning.
2. No explicit sexual discussions of any kind. I'm not interested in what you are doing in the bedroom with your husband and neither are my readers.
3. No advocating of any illegal activity (this one should go without saying, actually).
4. While commenting, be polite to others and avoid personal insults and ad hominem attacks.
5. This is a Christian blog, so deal with it, which means no comments insulting my religion or advocating different religions or atheism. There are plenty of other blogs to discuss this kind of things.
6. Don't post anything racist or antisemitic, this is not Stormfront and I have readers from many countries (pointing the differences between various ethnic/cultural groups is OK, just don't insult others on their ethnicity).

The comments violating any of the above rules will be summarily deleted.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the attention!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Stress Of Modern Life

Some time ago we visited a Roman fair, which I mentioned on the blog and posted some pictures. By some reason, I find these historical reenactment groups fascinating, probably because they present a lifestyle much simpler to the one we lead now and thus appeal to a hippy in me:)

Seriously though, while life of a common man in Rome was hard, it was also in many ways far less complicated that what we have to deal with today. People often forget it when they are trying to make comparisons between the good old days and now.

A year ago, I wrote a blog post called Things Ma Ingalls Didn't Do where I listed some of the things modern homemakes have to deal with which were nonexistent in the times past. Our ancestors had to endure a lot of physical hardships which made them tough, but I sometimes wonder if they had to live under the same mental strain so many people live now.

A part of it is certainly due to the influence of mass media, including the Internet. I doubt Ma Ingalls ever was upset about an earthquake or war in some distant country, and she was probably not overtly worried about economical crisis or what stock exchange was doing as long as there was enough food on the table. Most people were not that interested in politics, didn't follow the world news and were mostly absorbed in the problems of the daily life.

I get irritated all the time someone starts attacking present days housewives for being lazy good-for-nothings because they use vaccuum cleaners, while their heroic female ancestors were ploughing the fields while simultaneously caring for 20 children and making homespun clothes. Most of these stories are exaggerated anyway. I won't go as far as the 19th century, but I'll give you an example of how lower middle class people used to live in the 1950s.

A relative of mine comes out of the family with 6 children, and her Mother never worked. The eldest two children had to do all the washing for which purposes they rented a washing machine. The children washed the clothes at 5 a.m. on Monday mornings before going to school. Vacations were only 4 weeks in summer and half of the Saturday was spent at school, too. A lot of tradesmen brought the goods home so there was no need for daily shopping.

Clothes were custom made by a professional seamstress. My relative had to knit stockings for younger children and her sister had to make breakfast and feed everybody. Do you get the picture? A lot of tasks nowadays normaly performed by the housewife were done by children in the past. Nowadays if you make your child wake up at 5 a.m and wash family clothes, you will be accused of child abuse. Food was quite simple and often cooked in advance for a couple of days, and then just reheated.

The elaborate dinner menues you see in old magazines were chiefly for the use of the upper classes and the meaning of spring cleaning was to get the whole house in order at least once in a year.

Everybody who could afford it would hire a girl to help with cleaning and household manuals had advice on how to manage servants. That is not to say that the mid-century homemakers didn't work hard, of course, they did, but they were not some superwomen they are sometimes portrayed.

Every age brings its own challenges and our generation has its own share of problems.This is also true for homemakers who often have to raise children and take care of the household without any help from extended family and struggle with negative stereotypes and hurtful remarks, even from their own parents. There is also social isolation and other things to deal with. I think all in all it's unfair to say that modern housewives don't work as hard as before.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Men Behind Divorce Reform

People of the West should know their heroes. Or "heroes".

Divorce is a hot topic constantly discussed on antifeminist blogs. Usually the discussion goes along the lines of accusing women of divorcing perfectly good husbands on a whim and stealing their possessions through divorce courts. I won't dispute that it may be the case in the USA as I don't live there, though I would say that divorced women I personally know certainly haven't become wealthier after their divorces, and it wasn't always their fault, however, that isn't the point.

People divorce on a whim because modern laws alow them to divorce on a whim. When it was more difficult to obtain a divorce and being divorced carried a stigma, people also divorced less. This is an undisputable fact. Divorce laws started changing in the middle of the XIXth century, and the movement was ever leftward.

Let's look closer at those changes. In 1857 the parliament of Great Britain reformed the divorce law, taking the divorce proceedings from the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts thus making it a civil matter. This year marks the beginning of the direct governmental involvement in marriage which has worked so very well up till now.

Marriage officially became a contract instead of a sacrament, and the parliamentary Act made divorce cheaper, easier and thus more "affordable". It also widened the grounds for  divorce. The authors of this bill were Lord Aberdeen, Lord Campbell, Lord Palmerston (all men) and it was supported by the Bishop of Exeter and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Lord Palmerston did everything possible to drag the bill through the Parliament despite the opposition. The new law also abolished adultery as a criminal offence.

The result of this law was that the year it was implemented, there were 300 petitions for divorce as opposed to only 3 the year before. This divorce reform was supervised by one Sir Creswell Creswell who achieved a degree of fame and respect for his work and was considered the representative of all the married women in Britain. (Read the whole story at Wiki).

The new law, however, was not gender-neutral, and thus described as "highly unjust" by some. The husband only had to prove the wife's adultery, while the wife had also additionally to prove abuse, rape, desertion and the like. All this according to the Bible, which describes adultery as the married woman having sexual relationship with a man other than her husband (the man who commits adultery with another man's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress should be surely put to death).

Traditionally speaking, as long as the husband treated his wife more or less decently and kept supporting her financially, his sexual shenanigans didn't matter much and were certainly not considered grounds for divorce, as opposed to the wife's infidelity. (man's honour is courage, woman's honour is chastity). It's obvious that feminists of that time weren't satisfied with such a law and campaigned for reform.

Among the campaigners there were some prominent figures whom we all know; for instance, Arthur Conan Doyle. Most people have heard about his Sherlock Holmes stories, but that wasn't the only thing he wrote. He also penned Divorce Law Reform, championing equal rights for women in divorce law .

As usual with most reformers, he had personal reasons to wish for easier divorce. Conan Doyle married a woman  he didn't particularly love, and later, when she became sick with tuberculosis, promptly traded her for a younger, prettier and healthier model. Despite supposedly strict Victorian morals, he managed to parade her in society claiming that it was fine and dandy, because their relationship was supposedly platonic. Still, Sir Arthur couldn't divorce his wife and had to wait until she died to marry his mistress.

To quote this article: "This explains why he took up the cause of divorce law reform...he had great sympathy with people trapped in loveless marriages, saying that an unmarried woman, with her freedom, was much happier than a woman hitched to the wrong man, the worst of it being that "the poor things can never tell till they have married the chap!"

While Conan Doyle had so much sympathy for the poor women trapped in their marriages whom he never met, he had none for his own children from the first marriage: "Mary and Kingsley, his children by Louise, were unceremoniously cut out of his life while he indulged his uxoriousness and fathered a second family. "I can't think why my father is so hard," Mary complained to her brother. "I have not had one gentle word, or sign of love from him during the whole two years since Mother died." (idem).

To put things more into the perspective, he was a freemason, too. So much for "female imperative." 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

When Men Were In Charge

Look at the picture above. I first saw it on Lady Lydia's blog years ago and it became one of my favourite paintings. It's called Nordic Summer Evening and dates from 1899. Please pay attention to the clothes the man is wearing. Compare them to summer fashions for men for 2014 (image from Dolce and Gabbana Spring-Summer 2014 collection):

Can you notice the difference? Yes, I know there are still men who wear a suit (mostly for work-related purposes), but it's not what we see in the streets daily. What we see daily, is more like this (please pay attention to his shoes (the lack of) and worse.

The man in the picture above looks stern and projects an image of authority. There is nothing childish or frivolous about him. He looks in front of himself without smiling and produces an impression that he always means business.His dark suit is contrasted to the white dress of the lady and the soft lines of her face and hair. While she represents feminine softness, he is an image of masculine firmness. He looks in charge and his body language adds to it.

Nowadays we have grandfathers looking like toddlers. Much has been said on the topic of immodest and unfeminine clothes women are wearing nowadays, but practically no attention is given to grown up men wearing capri pants, baggy shorts, oversized t-shirts in all colours of the spectrum including pink with childish slogans (or even worse, wife beaters) and this hideous fashion of men wearing flip flops.

Outside of the business world, there is little dignity left in the way men dress. A grown up man is an authority figure, or as they used to say, a lord of creation, and he should look as such if he wants to be taken seriously.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday The 13th Links

Will S. from Patriactionary writes about the new Bible version:
Now there's going to be a "Duck Commander" Bible

Retro Homemaker highlights this interesting article:
10 reasong why daycare isn't good for your child

Breaking news from Israel:
Study Finds Women Don't Belong In Combat

Matt Walsh writes about liberal tolerance:
This person is planning to kill me in order to teach me that I shouldn't be mean and hateful

Hollywood presents a distorted view of reality:
It's Only a Movie

Vox Day writes about women and self-defence:
The myth of Krav Maga

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Streamlining Your Homemaking

It's easy to feel overwhelmed at home, especially if your normal daily activities are disturbed by things like sickness in the family, travel, unexpected visitors etc. Once you let things go, you'll gradually lose control and your domestic life will deteriorate. It works like a chain reaction, the more dirty dishes accumulate in the sink and the laundry piles grow higher the less energy you will have to deal with it.

The more needs to be done, the more people tend to procrastinate and hide behind things like computer, allowing the house to fall apart. Of course, since the housewife is the caregiver of the family, she will have to keep doing some simple things like feeding the family, doing shopping etc, however, the standards will often drop to the bare minimum.

To avoid crises like this in your homemaking, you need to think ahead and to find the ways to run your household more efficiently. One of the problems of the modern housewife is that she  often takes too many obligations upon herself trying to prove that she is not that lazy lady lolling around on the sofas all day eating bonbons, so she will often try to take additional responsibilities just to prove that she is worthy, which will then interfere with her home life.

Another tendency which affects too many women is perfectionism, the desire to run an ideal household, not taking into consideration that life often interferes with our plans. It's easy to feel frustrated if you are mentally unprepared for emergencies which happen in every house from time to time, especially those with small children.

In order to keep your head above the water you should try to streamline your homemaking and your life. You should always remember that as a homemaker, your first duty is to your own family, not the Joneses, the "economy" or the church. You shouldn't be pressured into things like babysitting or cleaning for someone, not because you wish it or need extra money, but out of misplaced desire to help. Working mothers often are better off financially than you are and can afford professional day care and cleaning services.

The same is true about helping at church and school, it's good to help when you are able, but you shouldn't be made to handle all the responsibility just because you happen to be at home while all the other ladies choose to work, neither you should be made feeling guilty if you refuse. After all, nobody is trying to shame the working ladies so that they can reduce the number of their working hours in order to help clean the church building or organise a camping trip at school, do they?

Volunteering is fine if it doesn't interfere with taking care of the house, husband and children and friends are an essential part of our life, but sometimes you will just have to say "no", as you have more pressing responsibilities. It's quite possible to have a good social life and maintain several friendships while not neglecting your home, it's just the question of achieving a balance.

Don't try to do too many things at once. Find out what is important for you and your family and concentrate on those things and don't crowd your time with too many hobbies. Choose one or two and let the rest go. Don't try at the same time to be a gourmet cook, a professional seamstress and a landscape designer while homeschooling 5 kids. It won't work. Choose one thing which is really very important to you, and try to perform the rest of your duties well, but on an average level.

For instance, through the years I have tried to follow cooking courses which all promised to teach me how to cook on a par with a French restaurant but I had eventually to let it go, because it took too much time and cost me a lot of money, too. I realised I couldn't spend hours in the kitchen while having so many other things to do, even though I like to cook. Nowadays I go for simple nutritious dishes, and if necessary will buy things like bread instead of making them at home.

The society keeps pushing the myth of a Superwoman, who can be all the things at once, and the (conservative) Christians have their own versions of this myth, which are just as unrealistic as those of the secular feminists. Nobody can have it all. You will have to make choices in your life, just like everyone else. There is a finite amount of resources, such as time, energy and money, and if you invest in one thing, there will be less left for others.

You must be able to set up your own set of priorities and to follow your own guidelines, not looking at the neighbours.

Finally, I'd like to point out that there is a certain flexibility in life at home, so that while you should overall strive for a well organised, smoothly run household, where everybody's needs are attended to and meals are served on time, you still have your choice of whether to spend that extra hour gardening, working on a craft project or baking a pie. In this situation, it's up to you to decide and being essentially your own boss is what makes life at home so wonderful, imo.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

More Summer Cooking

I couldn't help myself, I have to share this recipe with you:)

It's an easy variant of a potato salad from Home Cooking, an American magazine. I simplified the original recipe and omitted or substituted some original ingredients, to make it more budget friendly. It can be served as the main course or a side dish.

You'll need:

4-6 potatoes, large
1tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1 onion, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
+/- 2 tbsp green olives (or to taste), chopped
dried parsley, dill, pepper to taste
1 tbsp mustard
Mayonnaise to taste
3-4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
+/- 100g fried bacon, crumbled

Boil unpeeled potatoes until ready but not falling apart, drain, cool, peel and cut into small cubes. Put into a bowl.

Make the dressing with lemon juice, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, mustard and mayo, pour over potatoes and mix well. Add onion, bell pepper, olives, parsley and dill, chopped eggs and crumbled bacon, mix and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Add green onion and serve with toast.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer Cooking: Budget Bean Salad

This is my variant of a dish which was originally from Home Cooking.

You will need:

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers (red and yellow), seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
oregano, salt and pepper to taste
dates, +/- 1/3 of a pkg (250g), chopped
1tbsp lemon juice
1tsp brown sugar
1 jar white beans in tomato sauce (1 to 1 1/2c)
Fried bacon, crumbled, to taste (you can omit the bacon and make the salad vegetarian)
Green onions, to taste

Adjust the amounts given according to your family size and whether the salad is served as the main or a side dish.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook onion, bell peppers, garlic seasoned with oregano, salt and pepper in olive oil, until the onion softens, add the dates, lemon juice and sugar + undrained beans, cover and cook over low heat until the peppers are soft, for ab. 15 minutes. Stir often.

Put in a salad bowl and chill in the fridge for several hours. Before serving, add bacon + green onions. If served as the main dish, serve with toasted bread.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

I Dream Of Jeannie

Finally, I have finished watching it, so I can write a review:)

I think nearly everyone knows I Love Lucy, a TV series from the 1950s about the adventures of a red-haired housewife, her handsome husband and a neighbour couple by the name of Mertz. It's one of those shows you'd love to watch while washing the dishes (I normally watch it while ironing or knitting).

I Dream Of Jeannie is less famous, but it's a great sitcom which, just like Lucy, can be watched by the whole family. Produced in the late 1960s, it ran for 5 seasons. The story is as follows: an austronaut Captain (later Major) Tony Nelson makes an emergency landing on an uninhabited island where he accidentally finds a bottle (but it wasn't a simple bottle...:), with a beautiful blonde female genie in it, called as you probably guessed, Jeannie.

Predictably, she falls in love with Tony and follows him to Coco Beach, Florida where he lives and during the next five seasons does everything imaginable to make Tony marry her. Major Nelson has a friend, Major Roger Healey, whose main interests in life are money and girls, and who at first tries to steal Jeannie from her master, but then helps him to conceal the secret.

Another chief character is Tony's superior, Colonel Bellows, who during the first three seasons is constantly trying to discover what's really going on in Major Nelson's house, but gradually becomes more friendly; and his wife Amanda, an ideal homemaker and the only person in his life Dr. Bellows is really afraid of.

You'll also encounter Jeannie's mother who violently dislikes Tony, and her sister who's got a crush on Major Nelson, some other genies, a magic dog, military personnel from the NASA base, various foreign visitors and Roger's love interests.All the events happen against a  background of Tony and Roger's preparations for the flight to the moon, and the changes which the 1960s society was rapidly undergoing.

I Dream Of Jeannie is a very funny TV series, with only one drawback: as the sixties were progressing, the skirts were getting shorter till they practically disappeared alltogether, so if you are into modest clothes, you'll miss them in this one.

You can watch some of the episodes on YouTube, here is Ep. 17 from the first season:

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Memorial Day In Volkel

We took these pictures nearly two weeks ago, so I'm a bit late:)

WWII reenactors:

And planes:

Those ones below don't need an introduction:

I find it an incredibly beautiful thing...

That Memorial Day I thought about  all the sacrifices the men of the WWII generation made...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

From The Home Front

Update on our family news.

Thank you everyone who prayed, my father-in-law is doing better, PTL, and the doctor was satisfied with his progress, which means that my husband is feeling much better, too. On the other hand, the cat is sick, AGAIN. It's the same old story, he got himself into a nasty fight precisely around the day when I had the least amount of attention to spare, and developed inflammation in two places, leading to the most horribly looking (and smelling) wounds one can imagine.

I'd rather not dwell on the amount of money it cost me, but he is doing better though he must wear a special sort of cap so that he isn't able to scratch his wounds (they are on the side of his head), and, of course, isn't allowed outside, which he doesn't like one bit. On the other hand, he has become incredibly fat, now that he has nothing to do but eat and sleep. My husband says if it ever happens again, the cat will be neutered and this time I agree, besides the cost, this time I was really scared, it's a funny friendly animal and I'd hate if anything happened to him.

The weather hasn't been that great, but we had a couple of sunny weekends and visited a Roman fair (you can notice I'm in the Roman mood lately), below are a couple of pictures:

The topic was food so you could taste different  Roman dishes, including desserts and Roman bread. I found a site which has some Roman recipes though it displays so many ads that the recipes are sometimes difficult to read.

Still you can probably find some useful information on Roman kitchen there. I haven't tried any of them yet, but if I do, I'll report on my successes.

Greetings from sunny (at the moment) Holland:)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Eagle Of The Ninth

by Rosemary Sutcliff, a book review.

I recently finished listening to an audio book by an English author Rosemary Sutcliff, called The Eagle Of The Ninth. It's actually a children's book, but I enjoyed listening to it while knitting a cardi. It's a story of a young Roman officer Marcus who was raised by his uncle and aunt after the death of his parents and got his first comission as a centurion in Britain. He sustains serious injuries during his very first battle against the British tribes and has to leave the army.

Marcus goes to stay with his another uncle who has spent his whole life in Britain working as a government official and is now retired. He is suffering from depression as he is basically unable to walk and has to be carried everywhere on a litter. Once he visits gladiatorial games and saves the life of a British slave Esca whom he later buys. The two gradually become friends and later Marcus frees Esca.

Thanks to one of his uncle's friends who is a skilled surgeon, Marcus finally becomes able to walk again though he stays lame. He is still uncertain about what to do with himself, when he hears a rumour which forever changes his life. It all started with Marcus's father who was the commander of the infamous Ninth Legion, which rebelled against the authorities and was later annihilated by the British tribes to the North of the Hadrian's Wall.

Marcus always wanted to restore his father's honour and so he is very thrilled to hear that there is a chance to recover the lost Eagle, the symbol of the Legion, which is presumably kept somewhere in the North by the tribe called Seals. With the permission and knowledge of the Roman authorities, he disguises himself as an eye specialist and sets up on a dangerous journey together with Esca, who chooses to accompany him out of his own free will, not as a slave any more, but as a free man...

There was a screen adaptation in 2011 produced by Hollywood which was remarkably decent by the modern standards. In fact, I first watched the film and then decided to read the book but had a difficulty finding it. Now that I'm acquainted with both, I can safely state that the book was better, imo, which is often the case with screen adaptations (though not always).

It's been three years since I watched the film so I could be mistaken about certain things, but there were some notable differences with the book. First, Marcus appears older in the movie, in the beginning of the book, he is just 18, but this, of course, is rather insignificant. The bigger change was the removal of the main character's romantic interest, a neighbour girl of the British descent who he falls in love with.

It's actually rather strange since Hollywood is known to introduce romantic plots in the stories were there were none originally, but here they totally edit out any females. She was rather young for our modern tastes (they meet each other when she is only 12 and get engaged when she is around 14), but we must not forget that 15-16 was a normal marriage age in Roman times, and anyway, they could have made her older just as they did with Marcus.

Further, as far as I can remember, in the film when the two start on their journey, Esca is still a slave and that creates the conflict between the two, while in the book Esca certainly resented his slavery (he became a slave after taking part in an unsuccesful revolt against the Romans), but Marcus always treated him more as a friend as anything else and in fact, released him before they started their quest.

The book actually portrayed British tribes with much sympathy and showed them as men capable of honourable deeds who certainly possessed a certain degree of civilisation. In the film, Seals are shown as savages and cannibals. I'm sorry, but Europeans never fell so low, no not even the barbarian tribes North to the Hadrian's Wall.

There are some other changes, the most significant of which is the end of the story which is very different in the book and in the movie. In general, I would recommend both versions as they promote the values of honour, loyalty, friendship and doing your duty. The film has its violent moments, so may be not suitable for young children.

By the way, did you know which was the most popular kitchen gadget in the 2nd century Britain? A bronze cooking pan made the woman the source of envy of all her neighbours:) 

Watch the trailer on YouTube:

The Eagle

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The New Teachings On Marriage

It was some time ago that I was asked to write a post on this topic, but since my head was full of other things I couldn't really find time to do it.

I was asked to address some new teachings on (Christian) marriage. It's a difficult subject as I don't want to point fingers, so I won't name any names. Those familiar with the subject will know what I'm talking about.

Internet expanded our horizons. It pretty much substituted MSM at least to a certain degree, for many people. I, for instance, seldom read newspapers and practically never watch TV, though we have one. I get all my news from various blogs and sites, and I bet that I'm not the only one. Thanks to Internet, each of us can become his own newspaper by simply starting a blog.

Some of the bloggers lack all formal education but are highly successful and popular and even earn lots of money with their blog activities. So far so good, but herein also lies the danger. People nowadays tend to turn to online experts for advice on how to live their daily life. We have relationships blogs, marital problems blogs and how-to-raise your children blogs.

Conservative Christians especially feel more and more alienated by the mainstream culture  and flock to the online ministries where they can communicate with like-minded people. Progressives have overall done a pretty good job destroyng traditional marriage and MSM keeps vilifying Western family values which were largely based on Christianity, so it's only logical that people interested in reviving the institution turn to the internet for advice.

Unfortunately, not all of the advice they get is wholesome. When you read old books, like Jane Austen novels or just anything written before the sexual revolution of the 1960s, you'll see that male-female relationships were pretty balanced. Each sex had its own responsibilities and its own rights. Contrary to what feminists claim, women in the West were never treated like slaves.

It's true that under the coverture laws the husband was officially the head of the family and had the power to control family finances, on the other hand, he was legally obliged to provide for his wife.

The other side of coverture beyond the husband controlling and owning all the property was the “law of agency” or the “law of necessaries” where the wife was presumed to be acting on the husband’s behalf whenever she bought “necessaries;” clothing, food, lodging, and medicine for domestic use.  The law of agency defined “necessaries” according to the husband’s status, occupation, and wealth.  As the great English jurist William Blackstone (1723 to 1780) said “The husband is bound to provide his wife with the necessaries by law, as much as himself; and, if she contracts debts for them, he is obliged to pay them.”

(Quoted from an article by Jesse Powell called Marriage is Masculinity and Coverture) While getting a divorce was difficult, the wife could get  legal separation on the grounds of abuse, called divorce from table and bed (a mensa et thoro). Moreso, the wife's family was always there to interfere and to defend the interests of their daughter or sister. The extreme patriarchy promoted by some new teachers was never the norm in the West.

It's true that the Bible teaches wifely submission, but do we need 1001 article on what the submission really means and whether it's OK to ever contradict your husband? When did common sense get out of the window? Why do we even need online ministries for this sort of things, is God's Word not enough?

Nowadays we have teachers who will want to make us believe that we are ultimately responsible for the spiritual state of the spouse. For instance, if the wife commits adultery some will want you to believe it was her husband's fault. On the other hand, if the husband spends all his time surfing adult sites on the net, it's supposedly the wife's fault. It's true that one spouse's behaviour can present the stumbling block for another spouse and even encourage him/her to sin, but the ultimate decision to do wrong belongs to the one who does it. It's not OK to sin even if you had been treated unfairly.

Some behaviours within marriage are truly destructive and are grounds for divorce, but that's not what I'm talking about over here. I don't want to debate extreme cases of abusive manipulative alcoholic husbands and obese wives who refuse to do basic housekeeping and have denied marital rights to their husbands for 20+ years. Such families no doubt, exist, but I'm talking about your average, run-of-the mill family where both spouses will have to learn to compromise to get along.

So no, in the case of your average boring middle-age accountant husband who faithfully worked to support his family, it wasn't his fault that his wife ran away with the milkman. Boredom is not the reason to destroy the family, it's simply that he had married a trashy woman. On the other hand, the wife willing to perform her wifely duties who simply doesn't have a model body now that she is in her forties and got three children, doesn't justify her husband getting mistresses even though she may have a headache a couple of times in the week.

Another strange teaching which sounds pretty much like repackaged feminism is one which suggests that being a help meet basically means that the wife must share all the husband's duties. Of course, it's hardly possible if the husband works a regular job so the couples are taught that the only proper way of functioning is to set up a family business, which may work for some families, but certainly not for all.

When the husband is self-employed/ runs a business, there are certainly things which his wife can do to help him. She can give him ideas, help him with the paperwork, do the taxes etc but ultimately, she will help him much more by simply keeping the home fires burning, cooking delicious meals and taking care of the children. This was the whole point of When Queens Ride By story (can be read over here ).

When we look at the famous Proverbs 31 lady we'll see that it's her husband who is known in the gates not herself. She is the whole day busy around the house, while he goes out to sit with the elders of the land. Each has his own sphere of the responsibility and that's how it should be.

The last thing I'd like to talk about is the idea that every family should strive to have as many children as possible because children are a blessing. Personally I would never presume to put my nose into someone else's bedroom and tell people how many children they are supposed to have. Yes, children are a blessing, but it doesn't mean that the couple can have no reason to restrict their number. It's simply unreasonable to expect that an average lower middle class husband will be able to support 10+ kids on his salary alone and many women simply don't have enough health and energy to cope with so many.

If they can do it, more power to them, but that doesn't give them the right to look down at their fellow Christians who chose otherwise. The Scriptures are strangely silent on the correct amount of children necessary for salvation, though they are quite vocal about things like modest clothes, male-female roles etc.

Well, I hope it was helpful. Have a blessed Lord's day!