Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quote for the Day

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
~ Edward Abbey

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Debunking a Myth

Continuing my quest to see if you can eat healthier - or at least cheaper - than buying fast food, yesterday I did a little research at the grocery store.  After hearing the family on Food, Inc. complain that the couldn't afford to eat anywhere other than off the dollar menu at McDonalds, I decided to start with a typical fast food meal.  If a family of four each bought a burger, fries, and soft drink, the grand total would come to $12 for that meal.  (I didn't include condiments as the cost for these for a meal is nominal.)

Browsing at my local grocery store,  I priced these components.  A bag of frozen fries (with 11 servings) is $2.  Preformed frozen hamburger patties are $7 for a package of 8.  A package of 8 hamburger buns is $1.  I didn't actually price soft drinks but I'm sure a 2-liter bottle is no more than $2.  So, for $12 a family of four can eat two fast-food type meals at home for the same price as one purchased off the $1 menu.  

Instead of fries, you could substitute ears of corn ($.88 for 2) for the fries or steam a bag of frozen broccoli ($2-$3 for a 24-ounce bag).  Of course, the soft drinks could be eliminated and water offered instead, which would reduce the cost of the meal.  

Now, I know this is not the healthiest meal, but I am trying to compare apples to apples to show that money is not the issue.  Actually, this meal could be slightly healthier than the restaurant meal as the fries could be baked instead of deep fried.  And the vegetable substitutions would be healthier, as well.

I wonder about whether or not preparing this meal at home would be just as fast as driving to the restaurant, waiting in line, waiting for your food to be prepared, finding a table during rush hour, and then driving home. 

Friday, July 29, 2011


Twice in the past week I've been confronted with the comment that it's too expensive to eat healthy.  I'd like to get some feedback on this from my readers.  My suspicion is that those who think they cannot afford to eat healthy are comparing the lowest of low (fast food) to the highest of high (specialty organic foods) and not looking at the middle way - good, healthy beans, brown rice, frozen vegetables, and the like.  I think it's much like a friend of mine who, many years ago commented that only the wealthy could afford to stay thin, which really puzzled me at first.  And then I realized she was thinking that the then-popular "Beverly Hills Diet" was the only way to lose weight!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Aprons are very handy to have, especially if you live on a farm.  A few years ago, I had a small craft business and specialized in aprons.  People even called me "The Apron Lady."  Aprons protect your clothes when you're cooking, gardening, and doing a variety of chores.  The pockets are great for stashing items to keep your hands free.

Yesterday afternoon my husband and I were taking care of several tasks, including giving a goat a penicillin shot and collecting some onions that were drying under one of our sheds.  As I was pocketing various items, I commented to my husband that he needed a "man apron."  He informed me that there is such a thing:

Dickies men's denim bib overalls

I never thought of them that way before.

(Photo source:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wellness Wednesday


Today I'm sharing an article about the benefits of yoga.  In addition to relaxing muscles and relieving tension, yoga is beneficial to a wide variety of ailments, from headaches to depression.  Go here to learn more and to get links for step-by-step directions for the suggested poses.

(Photo source:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Life Interrupted

This week was supposed to be a free week, a week where I didn't have any meetings or other plans, a week where I could get caught up on some chores around the house.  You know the joke:  "Do you know how to make God laugh?  Make plans."

Many of you will remember Iris, the little cutie that I had to bottle feed.  Well, she has graduated to our front pasture and is off the bottle.  In the meantime, I have acquired two more bottle fed babies, both males.  Since we sell our male goats I don't name them, but with bottle feeding, I have to call them something, hence "Little Dude" and "Little Guy."  Little Dude's mother rejected him as far as feeding is concerned so I had to take the role of wet nurse.  Little Guy's mother didn't reject him but we discovered that he wasn't nursing because he developed what we believe is sore mouth, a condition that causes sores on his mouth and made it difficult for him to nurse.  His sores have all scabbed over and almost gone but now he's used to the bottle so I have to continue with that duty.  

Last night when I was out in the barn, finishing up with the last bottle feeding of the day, my husband appeared with a limp goat in his arms.  It was a three day old buck who, except for his open eyes and rhythmic breathing, looked to be dead.  My immediate reaction was to get some milk into him as we had questioned whether or not his mother had been nursing him.  Using a needle-less syringe, drop by drop I got some milk into his barely responsive mouth.  After a time, when we were about to give up, he gave a faint sign that he might have a chance.  More milk into his stomach and he lifted his head and let out a bleat.  It was almost a miracle, much like the scene in the cartoon 101 Dalmatians where one puppy appears dead at birth.

Later last night, I realized it was probably dehydration, what with no sign of his nursing and with the scorching heat that we've been experiencing.  Dubbed "Little Bro," we now have him in a laundry basket in our house.  He's not out of the woods yet and he's still very weak, but we're feeling positive about his recovery.

So, maybe next week I can make plans...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Quote for the Day

"The only thing that will tip the balance between planting [olives trees, symbols of peace] and uprooting is for all peoples, Jewish, Muslim and Christian to work together in solidarity. We must pray together. We must work together. We must continue to bring light to those from all faiths whose hearts are trapped in darkness. We must all find ways to root ourselves in the creation of peace."
~Tom Fox, Quaker peace activist and martyr

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Protest Series 3

This is a word I recently discovered.  According to Wikipedia, slacktivism was formed from the words "slacker" and "activism" and "describes 'feel-good' measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction.  The act tends to require minimal personal effort."  When I discovered this term, I was horrified as I realized I've been guilty of it.  

Most of us are aware of what slacktivism is.  It's when you're asked to click on something on the internet, such as "like" this to help spread the word about a cause or when you don a bracelet or ribbon in support of a marginalized group or when you put a bumper sticker on your car because you feel passionate about something.  Although the motivation behind these efforts is honest, they really have little or no effect.

Imagine if the civil rights workers purchased ribbons, pinned them on, and then sat at home watching Leave It to Beaver?  Of if the war protesters wore rubber bracelets with doves or peace signs on them, and then hung out at the university student centers?  Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been addressing empty spaces and we might still be in Vietnam.  There would have been no one on the front lines, causing mischief that could not be ignored until wrongs had been righted.  What movements or ideas need are people actually doing things.  

While ribbons, bracelets, bumper stickers, and a click of the mouse are all good and well, they are not enough.  Slacktivism produces awareness, but not results.

(Photo source:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Most chain restaurants, both fast food and sit down, offer calorie counts on their menus.  According to this article in Huffington Post, these figures are often wrong.  Researchers found that almost 20 percent of the foods they analyzed had at least 100 calories more than what was advertised.  This finding highlights the need for consumers to be savvy about portion size and to be wary of calorie counts to seem too low.  If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Field Trip

Yesterday I returned from a week-long "field trip" to Kentucky.  My husband, a seminary student, signed up for a class that had a number of excursions that he thought would be of interest to me.  The professor allowed me to tag along on the trips and we ended up having a great time.  And I was glad that it was a class where I didn't have to write any papers or take a test.  

We ended up driving all over the state of Kentucky, visiting sites that would give future pastors a peek into the social history, economics, and hobbies of rural parishioners.  The reasoning behind having a class focus on this segment of society that the seminary tends to turn out mainly United Methodist pastors and that denomination has many small, rural churches.  The likelihood of being assigned to that type of church upon ordination is extremely high.  In order to minister to a congregation, a pastor needs to understand the lives of the members.

Among the sites we visited were a small church without indoor plumbing (by choice - more on that later), a thoroughbred stud farm (with a $60 million stallion), a closed coal mine (although there are many open ones in the state), and a county fair (where we saw a beauty pageant and a tractor/truck-pull).  It would appear that these sites are unconnected, but they are all important to the rural residents in Kentucky.  The stud farm and coal mines are sources of employment and income, the fair demonstrates how they spend their leisure time, and the church is an important social institution and differs in many ways from the urban and megachurches the students are more familiar with.

When visiting the small rural church, we learned that it does not have indoor plumbing, only an outhouse.  The reason is not because they cannot afford to install a bathroom.  Quite the contrary, they were presented with the opportunity to purchase an adjoining property, complete with bathroom and kitchen facilities, in addition to more space for programs.  However, after careful consideration, the church members decided that purchasing the property to have modern facilities was not the best use of their money.  While replacing windows or repairing the roof is a necessity, having better bathroom facilities is merely a "niceity" as the outhouse serves its purpose.  Instead, the church chose to use the money to continue feeding AIDs orphans in Africa.  Although I personally would have had a hard time saying no to indoor plumbing, I admire the selflessness of that congregation.  I wish more churches would spend extra time considering the best use of their money rather than focusing on their own needs.

What was supposed to be an academic experience for my husband ended up as a nice mini-vacation for us.  Although I would have never considered Kentucky as a vacation spot, I ended up enjoying my time there and am glad I was able to go.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quote for the Day

"Unless we teach children peace, someone else will teach them violence."
~Colman McCarthy

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Many people have struggled with the issue of keeping weight off once they have lost it.  An article from Time reveals that the techniques used to lose weight are not the same as those needed to maintain the weight.  According to the article, the following four strategies are the most effective for weight-loss maintenance:
Eat a diet rich in low-fat protein
Follow a consistent exercise program
Reward yourself for dieting and exercising
Remind yourself why you want to keep the weight off
The researchers from the study believe that it is the overall mindset of the individual that predicts success.  In order to keep the weight off, "people have to start focusing on long-term, permanent lifestyle changes and behaviors."  After taking off weight, one cannot return to the same lifestyle choices that put the weight on in the first place.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quote for the Day

"Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all."
~Nelson Mandela

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Confession


I am a recovering consumer.  Despite what I write on this blog, such as the various shopping fasts I embark on, I'm no different than anyone else.  At various times in my life, I have treated shopping as a hobby.  

After reading about my and Shona's shopping challenge (and for other personal reasons), Adrienne at Rich Life on a Budget has decided to cease and desist from shopping for the months of July and August.  In one of her posts, she does a thorough job of dissecting the reasons for and triggers behind her shopping habit.  I recommend you read it to help understand your own shopping habits.

Since last year, when my Lenten vow was "not a cent for Lent," I have paid careful attention to my decisions to buy things and have pinpointed the main culprits that feed my desires:  visiting malls, watching television, and reading magazines.  These influences introduce me to all kinds of things I didn't know existed and yet somehow find myself with a strong "need" to buy them.  However, over the last two years, as I've gone on these shopping fasts, I have also weaned myself off the very things that cause me to have the desire to shop.  

Part of one fast was to not purchase magazines at the checkout line at grocery stores.  The headlines always grabbed my attention (as they're designed to do) and I'd find myself tossing one or more on the conveyor belt with my groceries.  Once home, I'd dig into the articles that I thought were essential reading, only to be disappointed.  However, in perusing the rest of the magazine, I would end up making long lists of "must haves" that I would hunt down on the internet and in the malls.  Of course all the splashy colors and artfully arranged displays at the mall would entice me into the stores and I would find myself handing over my credit card before I knew what hit me.  Television also seemed to encourage my desire to shop as the advertisements and shows introduced me to products and trends that I would otherwise not have known existed.  So eliminating the temptation at the source was the key for me.

But eliminating shopping as a hobby in order to save money and reduce the clutter in our lives is just part of it.  Our excess actually harms people and the environment.  Another blogger, Vivienne, points out that not only do most people own far more clothing than they even wear (and don't look good in most of what they do wear), they are supporting sweatshops.  We are able to have vast quantities of clothing because it is inexpensively made through the sweat of modern day slaves.  Is that what we really want to do?  In addition, all the materials, manufacturing, and shipping that is involved in making clothing degrades our environment and depletes our natural resources.  Again, is it worth it to own the latest fads that will be replaced next week?

I could write volumes about the negative consequences of the consumerist mindset.  So I'll focus on the positives of rethinking your shopping habits:  money saved; a clutter-free home; peace of mind; reducing environmental destruction; and alleviating human slavery.  All good, n'est pas?

(Photo source:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

As I'm a bit late getting my Wellness Wednesday up today, I'm just going to share a short health tip.

According to the April 2011 issue of Health, walnuts are not only good for lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol but also help ease stress.  A Penn State study reveals that walnuts, which contain alpha-linolenic acid (not found in other nuts), may help lower your blood pressure and thus your ability to react better to stress.  Just don't over do it as nuts are also high in calories.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Freedom and Duty

A couple of weeks ago I got a summons for federal jury duty.   Whenever one gets such a notice, everyone's reaction is almost always the same:  "Ugh!  Is there any way you can get out of it?"  I have to admit that my first reaction was one of annoyance.  Receiving such a notice means that my life will be disrupted.  With federal jury duty it is even more inconvenient as one is on call for six months.  However, I immediately felt guilty about my response.  Partly because I have served on juries in the past and I know it isn't really that disruptive.  Secondly, I realized that should I ever find myself on trial, I would want people like me to be seated in the jury box.  Finally, I know that our legal system cannot function without citizen participation.

After this past weekend's celebrations and discussions about Independence Day and all that it means, coupled with the controversial jury verdict in the highly publicized (and televised) Anthony trial, I got thinking about what it means to be a juror.  Since I don't have a television and, more importantly, because I wasn't on the jury in the Anthony case, I have no way of knowing whether or not justice was served in this particular case.  What I do know is that this is the system that our founders gave us.  When we are accused of certain crimes, we have a right to be tried by a jury of our peers.  And as citizens, we have the duty to serve on juries.  Freedom in this country means both privileges and responsibilities.  I think many of us forget the part about responsibilities.

I wonder how many of those who were most vocal in declaring the freedoms of our nation or those who cried foul over the verdict in the Anthony case would cheerfully and gratefully receive a jury summons.  And would do everything in his or her power to make sure to fulfill that duty.  Or would they be like many of us, desperate to find a way to avoid such an inconvenience?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quote for the Day

"When liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood it is hard to shake hands with her.”
~Oscar Wilde

Saturday, July 2, 2011

4th of July

I have a hard time with the Christian church around this time of year.  All the flag waving and talk of being a "Christian Nation" just gets under my skin.  While I am extremely glad that I was born an American and am able to receive all the benefits attached to that accident of birth, I do not believe that Americans were somehow singled out by God and that we are more blessed than other nations.

One blog post that I read recently pointed out there are two Sundays that Christians should not attend church:  the Sunday before Memorial Day and the Sunday before Independence Day.  The author then went on to point out how most Protestant churches have abandoned one holiday that they should be celebrating:  All Saints' Day.  Part of observing this Christian holiday is remembering the martyrs of the Church, those that gave their lives, and were often brutally tortured, for the furtherance of the Christian faith.  

The fact that we are now in three (or is it four) wars - wars against peoples who did nothing to our nation - should give us even less reason to celebrate this national holiday.  Our nation fought a war against our original homeland in order to be free from tyranny.  The current wars are neither wars to help free a nation, as the French did for us, or to prevent war on our land, for we are the aggressors in these wars.

Although I recognize and appreciate all that the founding patriots did to help establish our nation, I do not believe that the church is the appropriate setting.  William Sloane Coffin once wrote, "All preachers worth their salt need fearlessly to insist that 'God 'n' country is not one word."