Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hidden Gems of a Winter Garden

I was out wandering round the garden this week and found these:

Aren't they beautiful?  And in the middle of winter, no less. 

Glasshouse Growing

I've been eating a few greens from the garden with my eggs on toast these past mornings.  I'm rather chuffed to finally have some greens producing in my own little backyard.  My previous attempts this year were eaten to the ground by some maurauding, teeth-gnashing beast!  I never did work out what.  This lot, though, have mostly survived.  I've lost a few lettuces, but I think all the spinach made it.  Even my older perpetual spinach plants which were eaten to the bone have revived and are producing a few leaves.  The trick?  I sprayed everything with Helix Tosta homeopathic helps keep slugs and snails at bay.  I put some beer in bottles around the edges to entice any slugs that did make it through.  Leaning a brick against the side of the garden over the top of the jar seems to keep the rain out.  Similar trick with bleach to keep the cats from digging and doing in my dirt!  Then I covered as many plants as I could with plastic juice bottles (lids removed, bums cut off and pushed into the soil).  Lastly, I covered the entire lot with bird netting.  Finally, I get to eat some of my own food! 

And a bonus: the juice bottles make lovely little glasshouses.  The spinach and lettuce inside them are growing really well!


$25 Anyone?

Remember how I was talking about food wastage recently?  Well, I found an interesting little article since then and now I'm wondering who wants $25? 

Anyone?  $25.  For free.  Yours to keep!  Just read on...

Healthy Food Guide February 2011 says, “Save the Planet: Stop Wasting Food. Scientists have found a way that the US could immediately save the energy equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil a year, without spending a cent: stop wasting food. Estimates indicate that between eight and 16 percent of energy consumption in the US went toward food production in 2007, and the United States’ Department of Agriculture estimates that people in the US waste over a quarter of their food.” Source: American Chemical Society, November 2010.

That’s over 25% of all food wasted. Not used. Thrown out.
If you spend just $100 per week on food, you could be saving $25. Every week. Put it on your mortgage, perhaps. Now, $100 a week on groceries is pretty low. So maybe you spend more like $200. Well, as an average western consumer, you are probably wasting $50 every week on food that gets thrown out. And don’t try to tell me you aren’t average. I bet you are. Just like me. We manage to waste an awful lot of food.

I know it’s hard. I’ve been trying really hard in this area in recent months, and there are just times when I so DO NOT feel like eating something. Boring. Didn’t taste nice the first time around. Or I simply don’t know what I can do with it other than throw it out. Then there’s all the food that gets ‘lost’ at the back of the fridge. I usually find it when I do the shopping…by which stage it is growing little balls of dark green fuzz and is somewhat less than appealing! Grin. But I think this area of food wastage is worth doing something about. There seems to be something morally wrong that I should be throwing out food left, right, and centre just because it doesn’t appeal to me today or I can’t get myself organised enough to use it properly, while around the world there are millions of people literally starving to death. Food is expensive. Not just in financial terms, but in what it costs us to produce. There’s the soil, water, fertilizers, sunlight…all the products that go into making food. Food requires manpower. It takes effort. And we NEED food. It’s not like we can just decide to go without so we can spend the time, effort, and cost on something else.

Not really a saver? What if we look at it a different way. They do say that “A dollar saved is a dollar earned.” It has some merit. Maybe you aren’t interested in putting money aside for a rainy day, your kid’s university fees, or your mortgage. But what about all the other things you could SPEND that money on instead?! You could buy a new book. Every week! Or go on a romantic getaway every couple of months. You could sponsor a child in a developing community and ensure that they get to eat every day. You could buy new furniture, or spend the money on phone calls to your family overseas. You see, it really is worth finding ways to use our food wisely, so we have more money available for the things we are passionate about!

I'm contemplating a new CD and wondering how little food I can throw out to make that happen.
What would you do with an extra $25 (or so) a week?



I have been in and out of other people’s homes a fair bit recently. Sometimes visiting, other times cleaning. Me and my vacuum cleaner, we spend a lot of time contemplating life. Thoughts just meander through my head. Frequently, they relate to the homes I have seen, and how I think and feel about them. I find it interesting, that I am learning so much about myself from observing others. Now, these are the kind of revelations you pin all your life hopes and dreams on. But interesting, none the less. They all relate to the environment I like (or would like) to live in. Or conversely, what I do not like.

As our homes are places we spend so much time, I figure these thoughts should probably be taken fairly seriously, even if the future of the world does not depend upon them! My home is my sanctuary. I really hate doorknockers for this reason. This is my personal space, enter freely if you are my friend, but stay away if you are a stranger. Neighbours can count as potential friends!

My home reflects who I am. But it also needs to reflect who my family is. Boyo’s tastes come into play here too, as do Munchkin’s needs. Our lifestyles play another large part. So many aspects all pushing for attention, and so often I just go through the motions of living here, without thinking about what brings enjoyment or does not.

Here are some conclusions I have reached about my personal preferences:

I need space. Specifically OPEN SPACE. I can’t have things too close together, or walk areas too narrow. I bang into things. I hit my hip on our dining table almost every week. It has been in the exact same place for over 18 months now! How I do it, I do not know. All I know is, my balance is good enough to keep me upright, but not good enough to keep me bruise-free. So small passages between furniture are no good for me. Even as a teenager, I would push all my furniture to the outside edges of a room. I was not a dancer. I didn’t lie on the floor. I simply like open space.
I do not like visual clutter. This is tricky, as I am actually quite messy and I live with a definite messy, who doesn’t mind visual clutter at all! But I like everything to have a place and to live, permanently, in that place. Here, I seem to be forever putting things away, or trying to find somewhere to put them! Our current place is a wonderful unit, and a real God-send. I frequently thank Him for sending it our way right when we needed it. But it is a bit small when you have two students and a baby. Munchkin now has most of his toys in a cupboard in his room, which is wonderful. But I’m still contemplating my work area (aka small desk with laptop, knitting bag, handbag, study books, baby shoes, moisturiser, bills to pay, Bibles, pens, scrap paper, etc, etc all in a corner of our main living area). It bothers me. There’s just not enough space. I can’t get a study guide fully open and have my computer up at the same time. And that’s on a good day! But I don’t seem to be able to work out any solutions that are free and workable just now.

My work area.  What a mess!
I want a dining table that is clear. I’ve talked about this before. I’ve had a few ah, over-reactive incidents when it all gets too much for me. The issue is where else to put all that stuff. I’m thinking a hall table/side table will be something we eventually have. One with drawers for storage, and baskets on top for bills, keys, water bottles, etc. But for now, it is an ongoing battle.

Our dining table in about as tidy a state as it ever seems to get!
Being visual, how things look really is important to me. I’ve struggled with this for awhile. I wonder if anyone else visually-wired has too? I feel like it is somehow a bit shallow to be caring that something isn’t straight, or looks cluttered. I’ve finally decided that this is how I’m wired, and I seriously do feel less stressed if my environment is tidy and looks nice. It must be worthy of some time and consideration. I bought a few houseplants. I really love looking at them. Boyo doesn’t understand. They are just green bits to him. To me, they are beauty. They are peace. They are balanced design. So many things rolled into one small plant. And that’s without the work they do cleaning our breathing space!

I like functionality. I would probably not choose to have a coffee table. I’ve seen some really nice ones lately, and have duly drooled, then gotten over myself. For me, the issue is that they are not practical enough. I love the idea, but not using them. I don’t want a table that clutters the middle of my walking space, so I can have bruises on my shins as well as my hips! And I don’t want to be having to lean down and forward all the time to get my drink. I’d prefer those little nested tables, so you can pull one of them right up beside you! Or maybe a chest that is used as a coffee table. So I get some storage.

Munchkin's cupboard.  Everything neat and tidy (obviously he hasn't been in it recently!)
Yup, I like storage. I really like things in cupboards or drawers. It irks me when I can’t find a home for something. I like my current kitchen because the pots all fit in the cupboards nicely, in a logical way, all in one corner. This pleases me.

I do not like the pantry.  It has no door, and is long and pokey - way too far to have to lean for my poor back!  But it does at least have some sort of order.
Along with functionality, goes robustness. I need furniture that won’t break if I happen to bump into it. Never mind the kids with their balls, bats, or roller blades. Worry about the mother! While I can appreciate the beauty of little glass hall tables in someone else’s home, my common sense tells me they would be a really dumb idea for me! I don’t want to spend my life on tender-hooks, worrying that I’m going to break my own furniture! So wood it will be. Nice wood, naturally oiled. Smooth to the touch, but I don’t mind a few nail holes and other marks of character.

I like connections. Views to the outside. The ability to get from inside to outside easily and quickly. I’d live most of my life on a deck, if it was set up right. And a view, well they can take the dreariest day and give it a little lift. I find it frustrating at the moment having a conservatory and three high steps between us and the outdoors. And that then the outdoors is the driveway. We have a truly beautiful yard, but there’s no pavers, it’s not fenced, and there is no connection between it and the house. I can’t pop in and out easily to check on dinner while Munchy is playing on the lawn. Indoor-outdoor flow is important to me.

I like wooden floors. I DO NOT like tiles. They are too hard. I get sore feet really easily, and don’t want to spend my life hopping from one foot to the other. Wood, on the other hand, has just enough ‘give’ in it to be comfortable. Plus I just love the look. Beautiful and shiny. Bright, clean. Dust bunnies are problematic if you don’t keep up with the vacuuming, but at least you know there’s dust that needs to be removed, unlike the invisible pile up that builds in carpet. A few rugs would be nice, to deaden the sound of footsteps up the hall in the middle of the night.

My dislike of tiles extends to bathrooms. I would have a house with NO tiles. They look nice I admit, especially when new. But the upkeep! Who wants to spend Saturday on hands and knees de-moulding the grout between the shower tiles with a toothbrush and some nasty chemical? Not me. I’d rather be gardening. Or reading. Or even cleaning my toilet. Seriously, why make more work for myself than absolutely necessary?!

So there you go. Some things I’ve discovered about myself.  Amy

Friday, July 29, 2011


We've had quite a lot of interest in our Live Below the Line Challenge!  Check out the new tab at the top of this page for links to the most pertinent posts.  Boyo has been busy getting the word out at work.  I'm going to be talking with my lifegroup in a couple of weeks.  We've had some fascinating conversations about what we are doing and why with people.  Invariably they tell us we are very brave.  I guess perhaps we are.  I try not to think about it too much!

People are intrigued, it seems, by the concept.  They want to know what it means, eating on less than $2.25NZ a day?  "Is that for the whole family, or one person?  What on earth will you eat?  Perhaps you can come over for a free meal?"  Ah, thanks so much for the kind offer, but no-can-do.  It's against The Rules.

Here they are, in brief:

$2.25NZ per person per day, for 5 days.  $11.25 total for all your food and drink.  You can go out and buy everything up front with that $11.25 if you want (and it does makes sense to!).  Note: it includes drinks.  No extras.  You can have your coffee if you really want, but you might get a bit hungry.  That also means all the little things in our pantry we tend to take for granted are off-limits, unless you plan on buying them.  I'm talking about things like oil, salt, and sugar.

You have to allow for the full cost of an item.  No deciding to eat half the packet now during the Challenge, and half afterwards so you only have to pay for half out of your Challenge money!  No scooping flour out of your floor bin at home and guessing it might be worth, oh, 50c or something.  Nope, you have to BUY it.  No buying ahead either.  You have to buy at the beginning of the week.  So if something happens to be on special, great.  But if not, too bad.  You have to pay whatever price it is on the Challenge week.

No grabbing from your cupboard.  Unless you pay exactly what that item's full cost is.

No freebies.  So if you want to go out for dinner, you'd better make sure you are prepared to drool over everyone else's meal without having any of it yourself.  If people want to give food gifts, lovely, but save them for AFTER the challenge (chocolate, maybe?!  Or a nice juicy mince pie?!?).  No food donations allowed.

Gardeners?  Food from your garden is okay, but again you have to pay what it is worth out of your Challenge money.

You can share food with other Challenge participants.  This means equally dividing a packet of rice, for example, and its cost between you.  It does not mean that someone decides they don't need all their Challenge food so they can give you some.  No freebies, remember?!

Why so many rules?  I think it is to try and make this as realistic as possible.  Obviously, we have no idea what people living in extreme poverty actually go through, but we're hoping to get a little glimpse into their everyday struggles from doing Live Below the Line.  We aren't going to do that if we allow ourselves too many concessions. 
People living in extreme poverty very rarely have rich relatives who just happen to pop in with a piping hot meal, right when they have eaten the last of their food for the week.  Nope, their relatives are usually in the same boat. 
People living in extreme poverty usually aren't able to save.  So that means they can't buy two week's worth of rice this week and keep some for next week.  Having so little cash each day makes it really hard to put any aside.  So they are limited in what they can buy. 
They don't have a pantry overflowing with tasty morsels like we do either, so that's why it's off limits during the Challenge.

So there you go.  The Rules.  Anyone up for a Challenge?!
Live Below the Line suggests that if you don't think you'd manage a full Challenge, you can always do it for just one day.  Why not have a go?  Head off to the supermarket with $2.25 and see what you can come up with!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I have been getting blog updates from a pretty amazing man for awhile now, forwarded from our family.  His name is Kristian.  He's battling cancer.  I won't go into details here, but you can read about his journey of faith, pain, and determination here.  Let me just say that this man can write.  Kristian has a gift for communication.  He is honest, raw, and insightful.  He is an inspiration and I pray for him often.  I have just read his latest post, and been inspired yet again.  He talks about greatness, and the desire to be great.  Don't we all secretly hanker after it? 

To be someone, to have significance, to do something amazing. 

In every human heart, there is a spark of greatness. 

The issue is that we seem to have difficulty working out just what greatness IS.  Is it being famous, a movie star perhaps?  Is it breaking a swimming record, or owning multiple businesses?  Is it a postgraduate degree, owning a motorhome, or having a picture-perfect model family? 

Or is it a little more subtle than that?  Bending down to tie a shoelace.  Smiling when someone looks sad, and asking how they feel.  Then taking the time to really listen.  Wiping a child's snotty nose.  How is that great?  Gross, more like!  But is not greatness defined by the receiver, rather than the giver?  Greatness seems to be something that we all want, but few find.  I really liked reading Kristian's take on greatness.  He's learned it from observing the best, the man who chose to give up his innocent life to save people who were not even his friends (Jesus).  This is what Kristian says (after speaking of someone who gave him a very touching gift):

"I think, that's how you become truly great. You help others. You put yourself last so that they can go first. You don't have to have a million dollars in the bank. What is it you have in your hand? What are you good at? Are you a mechanic? Does someone you know need help with their car? Are you a gardener? Is someone you know unable to tend their garden? Are you an accountant? Does someone you know need help with their tax return? Are you a stay at home mum and you cook a mean pasta? Do you know someone who could really do with some help at meal time? Are you a cleaner? Do you know someone who needs their house cleaned every now and then? Are you a regular dude who sees a family in a restaurant and you want to pay their bill? Do it. These are the sorts of things that make you great. These are the things that change the lives of others. I speak from experience. I know. All of the things listed above are things people have done and continue to do for me and my family.

Jesus said: "What you do to the least of these.... you do unto me."

"Love" is a verb... a doing word.

Have a think about it.... then look around, find someone that needs a hand.

We all do."

I can't really add anything to that.  Greatness.  Look deeper, and find some in yourself today.  From personal experience, when you give, you are in fact receiving.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dating Lesson #1

Dating Lesson #1.  Munchkin: 14 months old.
Daddy: "Munchkin, that's mixed signals.  You  never give a girl mixed signals because she will always take the one she wants." 
Context: Mummy trying to give Munchy water.  He opens mouth, but then pushes water bottle away.  Of course Mummy assumes that must mean he DID want water, so tries again.  Mixed signals.  Never give a girl mixed signals.  Be clear.



I have realised in recent weeks that I am not really a stay-at-home person.  While Boyo is happy to spend the entire day at home, I am always on the look out for people to see or adventures to go on.  I get cabin fever if I'm inside for more than half a day.  I get lonely if there's no one to talk to.  Munchkin isn't really good company for talking just yet and no, talking on the phone is just not the same.  But as I sit here, in the stillness of the morning, I am enjoying a moment of solitude.  For while I love to go out and be busy, I also love to come home.  Home is an oasis.  Home is peaceful, or at least it should be. 

I have been up since 5am.  An assignment sits, almost finished.  Tantilisingly so.  And even though I got up to work (to study), I have enjoyed being here, alone.  It's been nice to have some time to myself, without having to think about what anyone else is doing.  My 'boys' are still asleep (at 8am!).  I got to go to the toilet by myself (the pinacle of motherhood bliss, I swear, second only to having a bath by myself, but we don't own one so the loo alone it is!).  I am sitting here in my wooly hat and fluffy purple dressing gown, eating eggs on toast while typing away.  This is my second breakfast.  Being up at 5am is hungry business!  And for the record, I did get dressed, but it is COLD this morning even with the heatpump set on 19 degrees.

So here I am, enjoying the peace and tranquilty of a silent house, wondering for how many more minutes it will be mine.  Munchy will wake up soon, and be hungry for breakfast.  We are going visiting this morning, catching up with friends.  I will tell him that we are going out, and he will be so excited to get into the car! Later this afternoon Boyo will take him out for a walk so I can finish that assignment.  But for now, it is nice to be alone.  Just me, my dressing gown, and my toast. Balance, I think this is called.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Trying Something New

We tried something new for dinner last night: goats meat.

I thought I'd share our experience with you, seeing as I am winding down for an 'early' bed before starting my week of major study at 5am tomorrow!  Can't study at night without an hour or more to wind down, so I figured I may as well enjoy myself and relax, seeing as I won't be doing much of that over the coming days...first assignment is due in 8 days time.

Back to the goats meat.  I was doing our usual shop, and happened to spot a few small  packets of goats meat on the very top shelf at our local PaknSave.  I have never seen it there before.  It was affordable, and looked good, so I figured we could try some.  I cooked it last night.  Slow roast for an hour with some balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, rosemary, thyme, salt n pepper, and some little bartenders limes we were recently given (which, incidentally, are delicious!).  Then I added a bunch of kumara (sweet potato) and carrot and cooked it at a higher temperature for another 3/4 of an hour.  It was delicious.  The meat tastes quite similar to lamb, which I guess shouldn't be surprising.  But it had a slightly mellower flavour (i.e. not as strong) and was less fatty overall.  I'm keen to eat it again.  It was a bit chewy, but then I've never been very good at getting lamb roasts to come out tender either so that is probably not the fault of the goat!  We had enough meat for one main meal for the three of us, off this small leg, Boyo had some for lunch today and there's still meat on the bone for me to 'soup' tomorrow.  All in all a successful foray into new culinary delights.

I have concluded that if we had land, and it was not suitable for sheep (or even if it was) we could have goats and happily eat their meat.  Not that this is at all likely to happen in the next ten years or so, but hey, it is always helpful to know these things.  Just in case.

Have you tried anything new in the kitchen recently?  Amy


I have now only TWO MORE SQUARES remaining to knit for my blanket!!!!!!!!!  Yes, I am excited, in case you haven't already worked that out.  The relief will be tangible.  I will sigh a great sigh of delight and satisfaction, put down my needles, and stash my bag away.  At least until the next time I watch tv and feel the urge to start on yet another blanket!  Grin.

Here are the latest:

Can you tell I have been using up every possible scrap of wool?!


The Garden in July

Well, the year is past its half-way point.  And I am left wondering how it could possibly have gone this quickly.  Evenings are already starting to lengthen again, and there are bright pink blossoms in bloom along our walkway.  They are always early, but it feels like they must be especially so this year!  The tui have been visiting our garden on and off, dipping their beaks into a red camelia, then a pink one.  Now they are heading down to the walkway, to savour the pink blossoms. 

The Big Garden saw a bit of activity this past month.  My dad requested, and was duly presented with a Reed avocado tree for his birthday back in April.  It now has a home in the garden, complete with a square frost cloth frame to protect it while it is still small.  The feijoa tree is probably rueing the day it ever heard the word "avocado."  It had a prune.  The mass of aged branches has been culled to allow light to reach the small avocado now nestled in front of it.  (Don't tell the feijoa, but it is on numbered days: once that avocado is big enough to block the view through to the neighbour's house, it is bye-bye feijoa!).  Munchkin and I watched proceedings from a safe distance, until he decided the noise of the chainsaw was getting to be a bit much and we retired into the house to play with the magnets on the fridge! 

I do love the beauty of these gnarled branches.  Not a very good photo to share with you as it was taken just before dark, but I hope you can see how beautiful the shape of each branch is.  Practicality and aesthetics all rolled into one.  What more could we ask for?!

The babaco are still holding a lot of fruit, despite the colder weather (they are frost sensitive so lose their leaves every winter).  Munchkin and I have been eating stewed babaco on our porridge and it is YUM.

A self-sown borage obviously doesn't realise it is winter, nestled happily in beside the celery and broccoli (which, incidentally don't seem to realise it is winter either - they are starting to form heads!).

I just LOVE these gorgeous hot pink geraniums along the front of the raspberry bed.  The flowers are starting to look a little bedraggled now, but even in their nearly-past-it state, they are a flush of vibrant colour on even the most dreary day.  They are so bright, you can see the small heads from inside my parents dining room.

And my favourite thing right now about it being July?  Daphne.  One of our neighbours has a prolific plant and the scent wafts across the footpath every time I go out for a walk.  Yes, I have been known to stop and hang my head over their fence and inhale deeply!  This bush is at my parents, tucked between house and concrete wall.  There is now a flower in a vase on our toilet windowsill.  Perfect.  Delicious.  I only wish I could eat them (I wonder if they would taste how they smell?).  Daphne is such a divine scent.  For me though, it also holds so many memories.  My Granny always had a daphne bush.  When we buy a house again, I am going to have one too.

We are still harvesting mandarins, although I'm getting to the point of needing a ladder soon!  There are lemons galore.  Lemon honey (lemon curd) perhaps?  Delectably delicious, but oh, so bad for the figure!  The early broccoli are still offering tender side shoots, and the celery has had a new lease of life, perhaps since having some blood and bone applied a few weeks back.  Spinach, pak choy, and lettuce round up our regular harvests.  Not bad at all for a garden that is practically human-free most days at present!

What's been happening in your garden lately?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Connecting the Dots

I just have to share this little story with you!

Last night, I said to my fourteen month old son, "Munchkin, Daddy's going to work now. Say bye-bye Daddy." He immediately stopped what he was doing. "Car!" He said. And waved his hand. "YES!" I said, "Daddy's going in the car, to work. Come and say bye-bye." Before I could get to him, he headed over to the gate by our front door. I usually lift him over the gate and we stand at the front door and wave. It was fairly windy and cold last night, and Munchy already had his cardigan off as we were getting ready for his bath, so I picked him up and stood him on the window sill, window open, so he could say bye to Daddy. He kept wanting to head back to the gate, until Daddy spoke from outside the front door and he realised he could see him from where we were. So we stood at the window and waved bye-bye to Daddy as he left in the car.

I loved experiencing this moment with Munchkin! Seeing him comprehend and link two independent pieces of knowledge was amazing! He's been saying "car" for a little while now, and I often let him know what we are doing next ("Do you want to go outside, for a walk?" "Milk, then nappy, then bedtime, okay."), but I don't usually tell him that Daddy's going in the car, just that he is going to work. The immediate connection he made was just mind blowing!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Knitting Frenzy

I am on a little bit of a knitting frenzy to get my blanket finished on time.  I've done one square already since I last posted about it, so only four more to go.  Here's the article that spurred me into action! The amusing (and more than coincidental) thing about this article is that I had no intention of even opening the paper.  Boyo and I are trying (again!) to keep our dining table more clear of stuff, so he said that I can just throw out the local papers as soon as they arrive if I like.  I was about to do it with this one, as I don't regularly read them, when I decided to have a quick flick through.  I'm so thankful I did, as otherwise I'd have missed the shipment date!!!  Stressful though it might be trying to get things finished, it would be worse to have missed the opportunity, so I'm grateful for little nudges like this.

You'll see (click on the image to enlarge it) that they are having a wrap-up party on the 16th of August. I hope to be there, blanket and all!


More Tops

I found some more tops for Operation Christmas Child!  These were at a recent Farmers sale.  Size 8 girls, and the most delicious shade of dark purple!

We were in town having our car serviced (our yearly outing, just about) and went into Farmers to find Boyo some socks.  We were so blessed to get him socks on sale, and a really nice pair of woolen slippers, also on sale!  Then I saw these.  Sadly, only girls ones were cheap enough for me, but I now have half the clothing items I need.  Just need six more items and my boxes will be complete.  I'd like for them to be boys clothes so my boxes cover six boys and six girls but I guess that will depend on what I can find or cooerce someone into sewing for me!  Hehe.  For now, though, I am pretty happy with my finds.


A Respite

Good Evening All!  Well, my carefully laid plans have been lain to waste already.  From having set days for blogging and studying I am already (a couple of weeks in) giving up!  Study time requires more (way more!) than my allocated days.  So it is a case of: when there is time, use it.  Or at least, when there is time and no baby around, use it!  Part of the issue is that if I study too late, I don't sleep...and usually I rely heavily on watching TV after study (for at least an hour) to help me wind down.  Not much on that I care to watch.  Plus I've been staying up too late.  So I'm thinking I really NEED to get up earlier.  Which I have (of course) been saying for weeks.  Right.  Setting my alarm for 5:45am NOW.  Done.  Now I just need to get into bed at a reasonable hour tonight so I am actually alert enough in the morning to do some study!

I thought it might be nice to have a change of scenery, as we have been practially breathing Live the Line around here lately!  Too much of a good thing can be detrimental to one's health, after all.  And to be honest, I don't want to scare you all off!  Grin.

So here are a few snapshots of the rest of my life lately:

Exploring the outdoors.  We just love it!  And I absolutely love this photo!

A new room layout - very cheap cupboard to store all things Munchy-related.  Incidentally I have a new rule: only longterm, decent quality furniture purchases from now on (because I'm a bit disappointed in having made this one, but hey, we did need something!)

Munchkin's new winter cardigans, loving knitted by his two grandmothers!

Beautiful.  And we have a garden full of them - all shades, shapes and colours!

I hope that you are having an enjoyable week!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Am I Mad? Or Just Plain Passionate?

I suspect that there are more than a few people out there who think I've gone cuckoo.  I suppose they might be right.  I mean, what person in their right mind voluntarily decides to go on a restricted diet when they have no need to lose weight?!  Why on earth would I want to almost starve myself (or at the very least, bore myself silly) by eating such a limited diet for five days.  I am obsessive about not being hungry.  I hate eating the same food for two meals in a row, never mind five days!  Why bother?  Because people need it.  Because it just might change my life as well as theirs. 

I suppose I could just give a few dollars to appease my conscience.  Only that's not really how I do things.  I like to do things well.  I'm one of those annoyingly thorough people.  The ones that carefully cross of each item on a list, arrange all the chairs in one VERY straight row, pick up fluff off the couch, get pedantically silly over things like cards having to be folded square...I am pedantic, I am particular, I'm efficient, and I'm passionate.  I believe that if you are going to the trouble of doing something, then you darn well better do it well.  Heck, sometimes I annoy myself, I'm so thorough!  It shouldn't really be a surprise that Live Below the Line is the sort of thing I'd get myself into.  After all, this is the girl that headed off to Vanuatu to help build a small retirement building when she was sixteen...managed to get a sprained ankle, and an eye infection.  Plus a big dose of gratitude for the life I have been blessed to have (have you tried having a bucket shower lately?  Sure makes you glad for hot showers!).

I had an email from the World Food Programme yesterday, which reminded me (yet again!) just why we are doing Live Below the Line.  I read it, and felt horrified that anyone has to live this way.  Nations in the Horn of Africa are experiencing extreme drought.  It is hard to imagine drought severe enough to risk people's survival.  I remember drought in the Hawkes Bay when I was in my early teens.  The grass turned to crunchy, crumbly brown under foot.  Sheep had to be trucked out of the region, sold off by desperate farmers.  Water was being tankered into some areas on the fringe of the aquafer (underground river) as the lifeblood of the region started to dry up under us.  Temperatures soared.  People were desperate: farmers and orchardists alike were in danger of losing their land, their income, their livelihoods.  But no one starved.  No one went without water, even for a day.  We all lived to tell the tale.  It wasn't pretty, it did affect our economy and the lives of many individuals in negative ways, but we survived.  I don't know if New Zealand has ever had a drought so severe as to wipe out our food supply.  Yet this is what is happening in Africa right now.  I've copied the email (in its entirety) for you below as I just couldn't work out how to explain it myself.  THIS is why I am doing Live Below the Line.  These people may not be related to me by blood, but they are my brothers.  We are not country-men, but we all share our good Earth.  We need to look after one another better.  Amy

"Let me tell you about the refugee camp at Dadaab in Kenya that I’ve just visited. Hopefully it’ll give you a sense of how urgently the Horn of Africa needs our support.

Beyond the sprawling camp, parched land stretches for miles – dotted with thorn bushes and, here and there, with the carcasses of starved cattle. Each day, some 1,500 desperate, hungry people stream in from Somalia, fleeing violence and drought.   The majority are women and children. Some are too weak to eat when they arrive – others have been lost along the way. But many have a chance at survival. We can reach these families in time – with your help.

Please make a lifesaving donation of $5 or more to our Horn of Africa emergency operation today:
Hunger Emergency in Horn of Africa
Your emergency gift of $5 is urgently needed.

I’ve talked to some of the newly-arrived families at Dadaab. I’ve seen and heard about their suffering, how they have lost their crops and their animals.

Many stories are similar to that of Adan Kulo, who watched his livestock starve to death. “I realized my family would soon follow,” he says. He took his pregnant wife and children on a grueling three-week journey through the desert to Dadaab. They were robbed by bandits; food ran out; one child fell ill and his parents feared for his life.

Within hours of arrival at the camp, Adan received 21 days’ worth of food from the World Food Programme. “Now that we have food,” he says, “I’m looking for a spot where I can build a shelter for my family.”

I know we recently asked you to help feed children in drought-stricken Ethiopia, part of the Horn of Africa. Normally, we wouldn’t ask again but the crisis in the Horn of Africa will only get worse if we don’t respond right now. These families – particularly women and children – need immediate assistance.

Will you make a donation right now?

I’m often asked, “Why is this hunger crisis so bad?” WFP anticipated the drought. Our preparations have already saved many lives. But high food prices in the region have pushed more families over the edge. And the conflict in Somalia has restricted humanitarian access. "

World Food Programme Email received Tuesday, 19th July, 2011.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Get Behind Us!

We'd appreciate your support.  I'm going to be really honest here.  This means A LOT to me.  Personally, it feels like the catalyst of everything I ever hope to do.  Kind of like I'm putting 'me' (my vision and passion) out there and seeing what the response is, if that makes sense.  And corporately?  Well, I'd love to see a whole lot of money raised towards ending extreme poverty.  After all, we have enough food in the world to feed us all one and a half times over!  It's not like we don't have enough to share.  I'd love to see a few people put up their hands and decide that they'd like to do something to help.  People who aren't going to shy away from it, thinking it doesn't really have anything to do with us, but who realise that we CAN make a difference and we SHOULD. 

Ways you can help:
Pray and encourage us - this is hard, we need support!
Financially sponsor us - help us raise money for young people in Southern Sudan (more about them later in the post)
Tell everyone you know so they can do the same! (facebook, twitter, email, text - I will get you flyers if you want, just let me know!!!)

Please check out our page here for more information on how you can financially sponsor is set up so you can donate online (or I can supply a bank account if you prefer that way).  You can think of it as similar to the 40hr famine, and sponsor us for completing it!  Or maybe you would consider making a foodie sacrifice yourself?  Coffee-free for a day ($4 if it is a bought one?)?  A meat-free meal, or just plain rice (one meal will not hurt you, you know! $5?).  Do a 'mini challenge' and feed yourself for $2.25 for just one day and donate what you would have spent on food otherwise? Or sign up for the full challenge yourself!? 

Not into (or able to) sacrifice your stomach?  What about walking or biking to work or the shops instead of taking the car (donate what you think the petrol would have cost)?  Maybe buy your next clothing item at a second hand store and donate the difference between the cost and what you would have spent buying it new?

I realise that money is often tight, and there are always demands on our pockets!  I don't want to burden you unnecessarily and definitely don't want to pressure you into doing something you don't want to.  But one thing I've noticed is that there are always ways to 'find' extra money when we really want to - it is all about how creative you can get!  Every little bit helps. 

This is where the money Boyo and I raise is going:
The Maridi Service Agency in South Sudan
Run by young people, this group is doing some amazing things!  Mostly, they are helping children and young people who were the victims of war (child soldiers for instance) to turn their lives around.  They've got a hard task, as South Sudan is not only a nation ravaged by civil war, but is currently facing severe drought along with many other nations in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda - you may have read/heard about this recently).  The New Zealand agency connecting us with the Maridi youth is Christian World Service, a well-respected agency supported by the Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and Salvation Army churches of New Zealand (among others!).
Boyo and I chose this project together.  We believe that all the projects suggested by Global Poverty Project for Live Below the Line are great, but this one touched our hearts.  These young people must have incredible courage and determination!  They need support.  They need to know that they are not alone in their fight.

 Thank you, in advance, for your support!


What is Live Below the Line?

Here we are.  Getting into the nitty-gritty of the Live Below the Line Challenge I've signed up for.

Live Below the Line is an anti-poverty campaign that challenges Kiwis to feed themselves with the equivalent of the International Extreme Poverty Line for 5 days.  This is not the Poverty Line you might hear about in New Zealand (or other western nations).  While there are many Kiwis who experience poverty on a daily basis, and I'd not wish to de-value the pressures this places on them, Live Below the Line is talking about EXTREME poverty.  When we are 'poor' in New Zealand, we usually have the ability to go to WINZ and get a benefit...not much to be sure, but enough to keep food on the table.  If we lose our job, we might end up with either no savings or a maxed out credit card by the time we are back in work.  People living in extreme poverty usually have NO governmental assistance, NO savings, NO credit cards, and NO FUTURE HOPE of things changing.  Live Below the Line has been set up by the Global Poverty Project to help raise awareness and funds towards eradicating extreme poverty. 

The Challenge is to feed yourself on just $2.25 per day, for five days!  22-26 August, 2011!

Why $2.25NZ a day?
In 2005 the international Extreme Poverty Line was defined as US$1.25 a day (that means having only $1.25 a day in the US, buying US goods with which to survive on). $2.25 is the New Zealand equivalent (taking into account inflation and purchasing power).  So this is basically what anyone living in extreme poverty in New Zealand would be able to buy.  It is NOT what someone in Uganda (or elsewhere) could buy for $2.25NZ.  Their figure would be different, as it all depends on what things cost versus the value of the local currency.  To put it really simply: if you try living on $2.25NZ a day, then you're getting a good idea of what living in extreme poverty is like.

Why Live Below the Line?
1.4billion people live in extreme poverty!!!!!  In a world of great abundance, one in six people are going hungry.  Think of it like this: $1.25US a day would basically give someone two bowls of rice a day, with a few foraged wild greens on top.  They'd be left with 10cents leftover for everything else.  Yes, I did say EVERYTHING ELSE.  That's shelter, clothing, medical care, education, future job training or improvements, everything else except enough food to barely survive today.  Imagine that.  Extreme poverty doesn't just threaten people's lifestyles.  It threatens their very existence.  Your floor is made of dirt that turns to mud whenever it rains?  Too bad.  You'll all just have to get wet during the monsoon rains because your 10cents certainly can't get you a better floor.  Your baby gets sick from the dirty water pooling through your house?  Not much you can do, even if you could trudge the kilometres to get to a doctor, because you can't afford any medicine.  Later in the year drought hits?  Well, you obviously don't have anything saved for a 'rainy day.'  You get the idea.  Extreme poverty is not a temporary setback.  It is dangerous.  It is all-invasive, all-pervading, and far too common.

I believe we are all citizens of planet earth.  We are all called to care for one another.  I won the lottery.  I was born into a country with reticulated water supply, and a public health system.  I was born to parents who have jobs, skills, and education.  I got to go to school.  I eat well, I am never without.  My son has been born into a similar position of luxury and privilege.  For I do believe that we are privileged to live where we do.  You and I don't choose where or when we are born.  But it makes a HUGE difference in how our lives turn out.  And we CAN choose what we DO with what we are given.  If you know me well, you will know that I am the one who crys when I get newsletters from World Vision, Samaritan's Purse, or any other aid and development agency.  I have always felt this way.  Now I am choosing to do something about it.  I am choosing to live out what I believe is the thing God has made me to do: do something about the plight of people living in extreme poverty.  Give.  Share.  Influence.  Prod (yup, I do secretly hope to prod you into caring just a little too!).  Help.  Do something beyond myself.    Offer dignity and hope to those who have had it stripped from them.

So that, in a nutshell is why I am doing Live Below the Line.  The timing is REALLY bad for me.  The Challenge is placed smack bang in the middle of my busiest study time of the year.  Two assignments before it, two after.  Thrilling.  If I'd realised, I might have been tempted to back out.  But one thing I am trying to do, is not put things of for that 'perfect' moment in time.  You know, where all the stars align and everything just drops into place.  Doesn't happen all that often, I've found.  I'm trying to start doing SOMETHING and doing it NOW.  And not think too much about the time or hunger involved!  Grin.

I'm so passionate about this, that Boyo has even been lulled into doing the Challenge with me!  Poverty is not something he is passionate about.  He has other giftings and drives.  But he has decided that this is a big enough issue to get behind.  It's going to be an interesting ride!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fare Thee Well - But Not Really

Well, I feel a little embarassed.  Here I was, thinking to myself, "I'm being so good, so focused avoiding blogging for the next few weeks until my assignments are done." Then a day later I realised I am committed to doing Live Below the Line on the 22nd of August!  While this is still a few weeks away, part of the committment is to raise funds and awareness of the issues faced by people living in extreme poverty.  I need to be here, blogging, sharing our story with you all.  All the issues below are still here.  I still have two assignments due.  I still have a blanket to finish.  I also have another two assignments due the week after Live Below the Line.  Deep breath, Amy.  It looks like I will be up late, and up early, and very busy in between for the next few months.  My apologies if you are not interested in ending extreme poverty.  You are about to become better aquainted with it, regardless.  The only blog posts likely to appear for the next month are going to be about Live Below the Line.  And there will probably be quite a few!  Hopefully we will all learn something through this process, and be more compassionate people for it.  Amy

I must once again farewell the world of blog-land for a time.  I am annoyed.  I rather like being here.  Study has started again, and I have been landed with two major assignments due in just over two week's time!  ARGHHHHHHH!  Why, oh why do that do that?!?  Of course timetabling is doubly worse in an education degree because we have to fit practicums in (and assignments are not allowed to be due during prac as there's way more than enough requirements involved in prac without anything extra!), so we always seem to end up with a huge pile up of assignments.

Plus I just discovered that my Operation Cover Up Blanket is due for collection by the 15th of August.  GRRR.  I thought I had till the beginning of September.  I think I've got another five squares to do, and then two rows to crochet together.  Do-able, definitely.  But I'm not so sure how much time is going to be available for knitting with those assignments breathing down my neck.  I am determined to get the blanket in this shipment.  Last year's one had to wait and is finally going this year because I didn't have it quite finished.  This one is going.  End of story.  It's just a pity I can't type assignments and knit at one and the same time!  Grin. 


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Square Eyed

More peggy squares for you.  Squared eyed, that's what we'll all be by the time I finally do the last square.  Which needs to happen in the next 6 weeks I think in order to get the blanket in the shipment.  Hmmmm.


40 Sleeps

The countdown is on!  There's no going back now!

I have registered for Live Below the Line!  Feeling very excited.  And very nervous.  You need to realise, there are a few things I am almost paranoid about.  Being cold, being wet (because I get cold!), not sleeping, and being hungry.  I hate being hungry.  I eat before bed.  Literally right before cleaning my teeth.  I carry food in my bag at all times.  I don't remember if I have actually ever done the 40hour famine.  I think I only ever did 20hours as a kid.  Any time I go to a conference, I spent way too much time worrying over what and when they will feed me.  Then I want to hoard it in case they've forgotten that some of us need afternoon tea!  When I get hungry, I get really hungry.  I feel ill.  It sounds rather strange, but I literally want to vomit.  "I feel like throwing up, please get me something to eat!" really is a bit odd, but there you go.  If I don't feel like chucking, I will at least feel dizzy and faint if I get hungry enough.  You get the picture.  I have a fast metabolism, and am obsessive about food.  The thought of being on a very restricted diet for five days is daunting to say the least.  But raising awareness about the issues surrounding extreme poverty is something I am really passionate about.  This is what I'm made to do.  This is me.  So I'm prepared to be hungry. 
I've already been thinking a lot about it.  About food in general actually.  But specifically I realised today there are some foods I will probably NOT be eating.  They cost too much.  When you've got $2.25NZ to eat a day, you can't afford avocado.  You can't afford much actually.  Here are some of the foods I won't be eating or drinking from 22-27 August:

Chocolate, chocolate, how shall I miss you!

Meat of all sorts are likely out

Drinks cost too much and give too little (energy/nutrition)

Fruit.  A sad day it is when I don't get fruit.

I'm thinking that the diet is going to be very boring.  Something like this:

Oats and rice


Beans - at least some protein in there!

 Because it all costs so much!

Per kilo prices at our local bulk food shop

I'll be keeping you informed as we get closer to the Challenge week regarding what we are doing, why, and how you can be involved with us!  Thanks for coming by today.

Food (Again)

Please bear with me folks.  I have food on the brain.  Might be something to do with struggling with our grocery bill.  Again.  Still.  Does anyone know of a SINGLE food item that has actually gone DOWN in price over the past year?!?!  I don't.  Up, up, up.  That's all they seems to do.  It's like they are in a competition, seeing which food can reach the highest price in the shortest space of time!

I was reading in the Transition Town Tauranga newsletter about food wastage recently.  Everybody does it, don't we?  Throw out food, I mean.  It's just a fact of life. 

But is it a healthy fact of life?  Apparently the Australian Institute recently did some research into the impact of food wastage in New Zealand.  $458 worth of food is thrown out, per household, per year here.  Doesn't sound too bad.  I mean, it is sad to waste it, but under $500 somehow doesn't seem terribly wasteful.  But then I read the nation-wide total: $751million worth of food is thrown out in New Zealand every year!!!!  That's an awful lot of money being chucked away.  Imagine what we could do in our communities with money like that.  Imagine if every family in NZ were given a cheque for $458 just before Christmas this  year.  ***Later edited to add:  In talking over these figures with Boyo I just feel so sure that they are too low!  I've read so many times that estimates indicate we (in the western, developed world) throw out way more food than that - possibly as much as 30 or 40%!!!!  So for us, spending around $500 a month on food, that would be more like a whopping $1,800NZ a year (at 30%)!!!  But either way, we waste a whole lot of perfectly usable food.

I guess what saddens me most about statistics like this is the knowledge that in a world of great abundance, with a species so intelligent, resourceful, and ingenious (that's us: humans), there are as many as 1billion people starving.  One in six people on planet earth don't have enough of the basics of food, water and hygiene.  While here we are in the developed, western world mostly eating ourselves to death (heart disease, diabetes, obesity: so many link to overeating and poor diet choices).  There's actually enough food in the world to feed us ALL not just once, but one and a half times over. I think my dad even read recently that someone reckons that if everyone in suburban USA started growing food in their backyards, they could feed the whole world!  Just the USA.

Back to food wastage.  I am trying to waste less.  To use more.  To be grateful that we have food to eat, rather than mumbling and complaining about what we don't have.  This requires greater creativity from me.  I can't just decide I 'don't feel like' using something.  It means greater organisation too (I wonder if this is a large part of how much food we waste as a culture - we are too busy doing other things to check what's going on in our fridges?!).  I used some apple in a soup recently.  Felt good about that.  Threw out some casserole and other stuff yesterday.  Did not feel good about that lot at all.  But I'm trying.

So, in the generosity of sharing, what's the weirdest leftover you have ever used (or the strangest way you have ever used it?)?


Little Cuties

It's blog day!  Yay!!!  I started study for Semester Two yesterday, with the realisation that I have two (large) assignments due in just three week's time.  Don't think I'm going to have much time for blogging.  Or the chook cage.  Or the sewn zipped bags.  Or much else for the next few weeks.  I'm making the most of my afternoon today while Munchkin sleeps!  I am so glad that I decided to allocate days as blog days, study days, and home days.  It does help keep me focused, while providing some outlet for least until the week those assignments are due at any rate! 

So here I am, sitting in a peacefully quiet house while the wind whips around outside.  Sunlight is filtering through our lounge windows behind me.  I am eating a childhood favourite for lunch:  pasta with tomato sauce and cheese.  Life feels good, despite the continuing occassional cough.

I am feeling pretty chuffed at having found some small soft toys for my Christmas Child shoebox stash in the past few weeks.  They cost $3 or less, and are small enough for shoeboxes.  I found them in three different dollar/discount style stores.  Plus I got a little polarfleece blanket to go in one box in place of something to wear.  Now I only need seven things to wear and the box contents will be complete!

Aren't they cute?!  The little guys actually have magnets in their feet so you can wrap them around your finger.

More cutie-pies!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Loving that Feeling

I have a cold.  A nasty, lingering, annoying cold.  Not my usual snuffly, snot-ball in the head cold.  Nope.  Just to be different, this time I have a cough.  Hardly any snot to mention (which is odd, as I am usually a snot factory - I know, I know you really didn't want to know, but that's too bad!).  Now, you need to know something about me.  I DO NOT COUGH.  It sounds weird, but I don't.  My beloved Granny died of coughing, you see.  She had a progressive lung disease, so I don't have any real memories of her before she was coughing.  She would cough till choking point.  She actually died of a heart attack, but for me at least, coughing is just something that really hits a sore spot.  I don't like listening to people cough.  And I really don't like coughing myself.  So usually when I get a cold, I suck it up and just grit my teeth and ignore that itching, tickling, raspy feeling.  And I don't cough.  I have worked out that the best cure for a cough is prevention.  Don't start, then you don't need to finish.  Have you ever noticed how raw your throat gets after coughing for a day or two?  Yeah, well that's what mine is like now.  This cough is not your usual run-of-the-mill cough.  It is nasty.  Or at least it has been nasty to me.  My poor immune system just doesn't seem to know what to do.  It started with a sore throat, then I had a few worried days over my tonsils (thanks to garlic, large doses of vitamin C and echinacea, my tonsils are now safe), and now I cough.  I cough, and cough, and cough.  Ugh.  I just can't seem to stop.  I try to talk, and my voice is sometimes there, and sometimes not.  Munchkin has today also started coughing.  Double Ugh.  At least he is sleeping through it and otherwise still a pretty happy chappy.

So this post is not about loving the cough.  Like, whatever!  I don't think so.  Nor is it about loving lemon and honey drinks, although I have had a few of those.  Not about loving my homeopathic kit either (remedies that helped with the tonsilitis and now the coughing).  Or that we had baked beans in the house (easy dinner for Munchkin and I, combined with some fruit and bread for him, and an egg and leftover roast veges for me!).

This post is about loving that I feel SO LOVED by my husband.  Yesterday, Boyo put together a cupboard on his own, so that I could lie on the couch and cough myself into a doze.  A cupboard that I insisted on buying.  It's for Munchkin's room, a temporary storage solution to his books, toys, bedding, etc that are not currently in that I can close a door on to keep little hands off!  So Boyo put the cupboard together while I was completely lazy.  Then, he took Munchy Baby out for a walk that same afternoon while I again lay on the couch and slept.  They apparently had a bit of a blast, as a squall came through just after they left - wind and rain, just what Boyo loves!  Munchkin was safely in under the storm cover so didn't care at all either.  Then this morning, Boyo appeared at 5am.  He was wide awake so sent me back to bed (I'd slept on the couch due to coughing), and he waited for Munchkin to get up and gave him breakfast so I could have a bit longer in bed.  It didn't end up being all that long, as Munchy slept in, but just KNOWING that I didn't have to leap up and get organised first thing in the morning felt SO nice.  Boyo has also been asking me how I am feeling.  He has a tendency to forget to check, as the assumption is generally that I will volunteer information if I am feeling disgusting enough (I am not a very good silent martyr type!).  But I tell you, it makes a huge difference being asked, rather than just volunteering the information. 

So today, I am loving my man.  I am grateful to have him.  I am blessed.  He ROCKS!

Things I'm Loving? Boyo, of course!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Power of Food

I have just been reading some thoughts by Eilleen over at the Co-op regarding her recent $2 a day challenge for Live Below the Line.  As I have registered to do the Challenge here in New Zealand in late August, it was interesting reading about her experiences. 

What really stood out to me, was how unconnected she felt from those around her, in having to eat separate meals.  I wonder if this is something people experience when on a special diet (gluten free for instance)?  I was on a wheat-free diet for years as a child and I do remember going to parties and not being alllowed to eat almost all the food there.  I have extended family and friends who similarly have to be careful of what they eat. 

It amazes me just how much food and eating permeate our lives.  Somehow, the act of eating, which we do in its most basic form simply to stay alive, ends up being a highly social act.  How many times have I eaten something just because it was on the table, and I was sitting there with friends, staring at that piece of cake while we chatted?  How many times have I enjoyed a meal out with my husband or friends and family to celebrate a birthday or other major milestone?  I can't imagine not being able to do that. 

Even today, I bought groceries for the month and had a minor freak out at the cost.  But I did have money to buy them.  And even to splurge.  It so didn't feel like it though.  What's about this feeling of entitlement that I "should" be able to buy some treats and feel let down if I don't get to buy enough of them?  I still got some.  Many people don't get a choice in what they eat, and here I am feeling let down when I bought cordial for hot drinks, chocolate as my special treat, ham and a tomato for Munchkin's lunches (yes, one tomato - at $12/kg this is a big treat, it is winter, after all!), and some lamb and pork...farily expensive meats, really.

Food for thought.  Food permeates our lives.  Our ability to choose, and to make wise choices around the foods we eat have such a big effect on our lives.