Housewife and Homemaker – the unacceptable career choice

My previous 2 posts where a buildup to this one.  For those who haven’t read them, I am working through “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.  The first few chapters lead me to think about Character Traits and My Purpose in Life.

My purpose in life, as I discovered, is to be a Housewife and Homemaker.  The strange part is this is something I have always known, but I didn’t want to acknowledge.  Housewife and Homemaker isn’t exactly the career your guidance counselor wants you to strive towards in High School.

Arguments against being a HOUSEWIFE

The arguments against it bombard a young mind from all angles.  Some of the ones I have heard are:

  • What if you never get married?  You can’t rely on your parents forever.
  • What if you get divorced, or your husband dies or becomes disabled?  You need a career that you can fall back on if you are forced to become the breadwinner.
  • In today’s economy, it is impossible to live off a single salary.  Being a housewife is unrealistic in the modern world.
  • What about the fight for equality between the sexes?  How can you give up what so many women have fought so long and hard for?
  • It is a waste of your God-given talents and skills!  You should be looking at ways to use them to support your family and further the kingdom of God.

Points 1 and 2 – What if…

The first two I will acknowledge are valid points.  It is a wise decision for a woman to find something that she is good at and enjoys doing in addition to being a housewife/homemaker.  That way she has a backup plan in case she stays single or is forced into being the breadwinner.

Somebody I know mentioned that she feels that the ideal backup career for a woman is an K-12 school teacher (pick the age group you love the most).  She explained how Schools normally don’t hold it against you if you have left the workforce to raise children, unlike other career options.  She also mentioned how if you are trained with the younger children, you can start a daycare from the comfort of your own home if your children are still young.

Point 3 – Economy

When it comes to the third point, about the economy, I see that this one is only valid if your spouse is on minimum wage (or close to minimum wage).  But living off a single, average income, is doable.  It just means that you can’t be materialistic.  Accept that you will be living with less, your children won’t be going to private schools (you may decide to homeschool them if the public schools in your area are a problem), and that you will have to make do with second-hand whenever possible.

I did the maths regarding this when Mark and I were looking at me leaving my job and working with him in his business.  Due to the savings on fuel and food/snacks for lunch, and add into that how I am home to better plan our meals, and do our budgeting/bookkeeping properly each month, we have successfully moved from a double income to a single income and are currently still making a “profit” each month.  I should also mention that the salary we gave up was the greater of the two salaries.

Point 4 – Equality

To me, this is scratching the bottom of the barrel.  It is only a problem if you are trying to force other women to make the same choice that you made.  In my mind, I feel that women should have a choice either way.  It should be equally acceptable for a woman to have a career outside their home, or a career inside their home.  I know women who would go absolutely crazy if they had to stay at home all day, I also know women who are on the edge of going crazy because they have to leave their homes each day to go to work.  It goes both ways, therefore both options should be acceptable.

Point 5 – God

This is just plain nonsense.  Who are you to judge what God has lead the woman to do with the skills he has given her?  The skills you see each day might only be the ones that are relevant to her career, or what she studied.  How would you know if she was a superb mother, a frugal homemaker or a wonderful hostess and cook if you only see her in her job as a secretary or scientist?  For all we know, God might have put it on this intelligent woman’s heart to be a housewife/homemaker/stay-at-home-mother, because only a woman of her intelligence would be able to teach the child he had planned for her and raise him/her to be the person who will change the world in some way or another.

Ultimately, I am saying that a woman can use her talents by supporting her family emotionally and furthering the kingdom of God by starting in her own home.

Extract from my diary

This is an extract from my diary.  I wrote it without the intention of ever publishing it, but I feel that it is necessary to give my reader a full view of what was going through my mind and heart while struggling with the work part of the funeral visualization from my previous blog post.

I got stuck with the funeral visualization yesterday and haven’t completed it yet.  The next one I was meant to visualize was Work.  I am struggling with that one.  I have never been able to visualize myself in a career.  Each one that I think of I get the feeling of “that would be nice, but there is no excitement there.”

The only place that I really love being is at home.  Internally I am struggling between wanting to say “My home and family are my work” and something else that says “That isn’t a real career.”

After this I spent some time looking up blogs and opinion articles online.  I had heard of Titus 2:3-5 before, but I really did an in depth study of it this time.  More of this in next week’s post.  The end result was that I realized that God was leading me down this path.

Another extract from my diary (after all my research):

My heart is struggling.  Something in me wants to say that women were designed to be homemakers and this is God’s plan for me.  Something else is saying that it isn’t applicable to the modern culture, that I am looking for something to justify wanting to stay at home and be a housewife.

I spent more time thinking about this, and the conflicting emotions.  My main thought is “Why has it become so unacceptable to be a wife, mother and homemaker when just 60-70 years before it was perfectly acceptable?”

I haven’t found the conclusion to this question yet, and I think that this will involve a lot more research in the coming months.  It has definitely become a topic of interest to me.

If you have any thoughts, books, articles or blogs I can read on this topic , I would greatly appreciate a comment with the details.

Visualization Exercise to find your purpose in life

About the exercise

I am still working through “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. The next part of the book that stood out for me was the part where he asks the reader to visualize going to a funeral of a loved one 3 years from now. He guides you through visualizing it in detail, and eventually you discover that it is your furneral that you are visualizing.

Stephen asks you to imagine that 4 people are going to speak at the funeral. The first is a family member, who is going to speak about your family life. The second is a friend who is going to speak about how they saw you as a friend. The third is somebody that will speak about your work ethic, and the fourth is somebody who will speak about your community or church involvement.

At this time he asks you to think about what you would want each person to say about your character, contributions and achievements. Remember, this isn’t for you to think about what they WILL say about you as you are now (although that is also an important exercise that will help you figure out how what you are now is different to how you want to be). This is to dream about the way you want to be remembered, and in so doing, figure out what you value most in life and what your goals in life are.

What I discovered while doing the EXERCISE

This was a very important exercise for me, and it was the main topic of my thoughts for almost a week. Knowing what I wanted to be said about me with regards to family, friends and community was easy, and it only took me an hour or so to really flesh out the details.

When it came to what I want people to say about me regarding work, it was difficult. I knew that there were two characteristics that I wanted people to say. I wanted to be known as honest and trustworthy. The contributions and achievements I had an issue with.

As you can no doubt see from my previous blog posts where I worked through the “48 Days to the Work you love” book. I have been bothered by what work to do for some time. The truth is, that my heart has always known what it wanted to do, but what I wanted to do is no longer socially acceptable. Or at least it feels as though it is no longer socially acceptable.  The option on my heart, definitely wasn’t an option in the “48 Days to the Work you love” book, as in that book the author looks for ways to make money out of the skills you have, whereas the work that is on my heart doesn’t have a monetary reward.

For the first time in my life I had to be honest with myself. I thought “Do I want to be remembered for making that awesome computer game?” The answer was no. “Do I want to be remembered for writing that best selling novel?” Again no. “Do I want to be remembered for influencing the lives of hundreds of children through teaching?” This one was closer, but once again I wasn’t passionate about it.

So the question that came to my mind is what do I really want to be remembered for? What am I passionate about? Where am I when I am the happiest? The strange answer, and this I have known for a long time, is that I am happiest when I am at home and when I am talking to women who are also happiest in their homes.  I am happiest when I am encouraging other homemakers, sharing ideas with them and when I am working in my own home.

Could it be that I was made to be a housewife? This was a startling realization for me, but the moment I admitted it to myself, it made complete sense.

I researched quotes about homemaking, I read other people’s opinion blogs on the topic. I even looked up Bible verses about womanhood.

All my findings will be best left as a blog post for next week. For now I am going to stick to the funeral visualization and my answers. Please remember this isn’t how I am right now, but rather what I am wanting to aspire to be.

My Answers to the Funeral Visualization Exercise

Family

Character
Ashleigh was a loving wife and mother who valued her family’s well-being and happiness second only to her faith and relationship with God. She strived to model the character traits she valued most, and encouraged her children to develop them, following her example.

Contributions
Her home was always open and welcoming to family, friends and strangers. A person couldn’t visit without feeling as though they had found a second home in her house. She was the glue that held the family and friends together, making them feel as though they were one.

Achievements
She was a talented cook, and a perfect homemaker. She was filled with wisdom and managed her home finances devotedly. Her family never lacked any need.

Friends

Character
Ashleigh was an honest and trustworthy friend. She was always there to help and support those who needed her to. She was filled with knowledge & wisdom, and she was always reading to expand her knowledge.

Contributions
She was reliable and would always come through for others. Whether it was icing cupcakes or babysitting her friends children so they could have a quiet evening at home. She was always there for her friends.

Achievements
Her home may not have been the picture of beauty shown in magazines, but it was humbly welcoming and an easy-going household.

Church/Community

Character
Ashleigh had outstanding wisom and her faith in God and his provision was unequalled. She put God first in her life and went to Him & His word for guidance first.

Contributions
She was always present at any occassion in her church community and never failed to help where she could.

Achievements
Even though Ashleigh never organized any functions herself, she supported other people’s endeavours whole-heartidly.

Work

This was the difficult one that I wrote a few days later. I had spent a long time thinking about this one and working through a few things, which will be described in detail during my next blog post.

Character
Ashleigh was a diligent worker. She was always willing to serve others. She was trustworthy and honest.

Contributions
As her husbands helpmeet in his work, no-one could have been better. When she wasn’t helping Mark, she was working in her home, raising and teaching her children with special care.

Achievements
Her home was always clean and well organized. She was proactive and never failed to put first things first. She did any task set before her efficiently and effectively.

Conclusion

This is all I have for this week. I strongly encourage you to try this exercise, especially if you have that empty hole inside of you that you just can’t seem to find something to fill it with.

That was my problem, I had Jesus in my life, but I still felt like I was constantly searching for meaning. I’ve noticed that the hole inside happens whenever you have an unfulfilled purpose, that you are not acknowledging to yourself or openly.  I’m not sure if the meaning has finally been found, but that hole inside is definitely smaller.

Also remember, that your visualization can have results that are greatly different to mine.  Everybody has been created unique.  This is about YOU, not impressing others.  I constantly had to fight the thought of what is the right answer, the socially acceptable answer, and remind myself that the right answer for society is not necessarily the right answer for me.  Always ask yourself, “Is this what I want? Or is this what I feel is the right thing to want?”

Previous posts building up to this one

Developing Character Traits To Succeed in Life

Developing Character Traits to Succeed in Life

The Seven Habits of highly effective people

It started while I was reading the book by Stephen Covey called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I am not finished with the book yet, as I am only on the 3rd Habit.

In this book Stephen Covey pointed out that he had made a remarkable discovery while doing research on “self-help” books of the past 200 years.  Around the year 1950, there became a distinct change in the way the books were written.

Prior to 1950, the self-help books detailed that the way to success was to build your character traits and to encourage your children to build their character traits.  After 1960, the self-help books did a turn and started encouraging people to build their Personality traits.

The difference between character and personality

Dictionary.com defines Character as “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.” And it defines Personality as “the visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others.”

So we could say that Character is the way the person is, and personality is the way the person appears to be.

Examples of Character Traits

A few examples of Character Traits include:

  • Integrity – The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.*
  • Humility – the quality of having a modest view of ones importance.*
  • Fidelity – faithfulness to a person, cause or belief, demonstrated by loyalty & support.*
  • Temperance – abstinence from alcoholic drink.*
  • Courage – the ability to do something that frightens one
  • Justice – just behaviour or treatment of others.*
  • Industry – being able and willing to work hard, effectively and efficiently.*
  • Simplicity – the quality or condition of being plain or uncomplicated in form or design.*
  • Modesty – the quality or state of being unassuming in the estimation of one’s abilities.*
  • The Golden Rule – One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. (Wikipedia.com)

* Definition from Google.com

Examples of Personality Traits

Here are a few examples of Personality Traits that are encouraged during Personality Development:

  • Personality – the visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others (Dictionary.com)
  • Public Image – the ideas and opinions that the public has about a person or an organization that may not be what they are really like (macmillandictionary.com)
  • Attitudes – a settled way of thinking or feeling about something
  • Behaviours – the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others.*
  • Skills – the ability to do something well; expertise.*
  • Techniques – a way of carrying out a particular task, especially the execution or performance of an artistic work or a scientific procedure.*
  • Influence – the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.*
  • Communication Skills – The ability to convey information to another effectively and efficiently.  (businessdictionary.com)
  • Positive attitudes – A positive attitude is a philosophy of approaching life with optimism and confidence. (eHow.com)

* Definition from Google.com

Why should we build character and not personality?

Many people will argue that in this “modern” world we need our Personalities to succeed in life, that it isn’t our inward person that makes us move ahead, but rather our outward personality.

I argue that personality is only a short-term solution.  Once people get to know you, really get to know you, it is your character that keeps you ahead.

How many times have two people got married or started living together and after a year or two they get divorced or break up?  The excuse is usually “Person X wasn’t the person I thought he/she was.” Or “Living together in the same house made us realize how different we really are.”  I will make the bold statement that these people fell in love with each others personalities, not with each other’s characters.

We could take it to business level too.  You may employ somebody, or join a business that you were attracted to during the interview process.  A few months later (sometimes even a few years later), they don’t seem to be the person you hired (or the business isn’t living up to their promises).  Then there is that horrible “break-up”.  Like in a marriage, you were attracted to the personality, not the character.

Character takes time to develop, and time to reveal itself, especially in a world that focuses so much on the personality.   Developing YOUR character is beneficial though, because it is the backbone of personality.

If you develop the character trait of integrity, then your personality will always be a reflection of your true character.  What people see in you is not the public image you have created, but a reflection of yourself.  If you develop all the character traits mentioned in the example above, how can the person not like what they see (the personality)?

We all know that having people who like you for who you really are, is a huge boost to your own self-esteem.  Having a high Self-Esteem in turn will encourage you to keep building the character traits, which in turn will reflect in your personality, thereby increasing your self-esteem even more.

people don’t like me even with these character traits

Yes, this can be a problem.  Most of the time the people who don’t like you are the ones who lack these character traits themselves.  You may notice that the person who doesn’t like you manipulates other people and tells lies in order to get ahead in life.  They are building personality traits instead of working on their Character traits.

As I mentioned before, personality development is a short term solution.  We all remember that one girl from High School that would suck up to the teachers, tease the boys and spread nasty rumors.  While she appears sweet and innocent to many of the people who first meet her, at the end of High School most people realize what her true character is like.  Unless she changes during college or her adult life and starts developing her character, you will always find that she cannot stay long in any job or place without eventually showing her true self.  You may find that she keeps people at a distance, never getting too close to anybody.

Developing your character traits, is a process of building a reputation that extends over your whole life.  It may not be cool or popular in High School, and sometimes not even in college, but when you get to the age where you are looking for a job, getting married and having children, something switches in your brain and you realize that the Character Traits were the most important after all.

Baby on board

Dad with an electric guitar, mom with an acoustic guitar. Baby shoes with drumsticks and the words "Our Duo is becoming a Power Trio".
Dad with an electric guitar, mom with an acoustic guitar. Baby shoes with drumsticks and the words "Our Duo is becoming a Power Trio".
Our baby announcement

Last weekend, Mark and I announced that we are expecting a baby to join our family at the end of April 2015.  You can see our baby announcement above.

Some of the most common questions that I have received since the announcement are:

  • Are you having morning sickness?
  • Was the baby planned?
  • Are you excited?
  • Are you planning to find out the gender when you can?
  • Are you taking folic acid?
  • Any gut feelings on whether it will be a boy or girl?
  • Any idea on names yet?

In answer to these questions…

  1. I have had evening sickness, not morning sickness.  If I don’t have a full stomach before 5:30pm, then I become nauseous after 6pm and simply stay horizontal on the bed or sofa for the rest of the evening.  If I have eaten before 5:30pm, then I am normally fine for the evening.
  2. 50-50 : we were not using any birth control (on purpose), but we decided to leave the timing of this child up to God, so we were not actively trying.
  3. Of course I am excited!
  4. I didn’t want anybody (including myself) to know if the child is going to be a boy or a girl before the birth.  Mark wants to find out as soon as possible.  Therefore, I have submitted (this time around) and we will be finding out.
  5. Yes, I started the day after I got a positive pregnancy test.  I am also taking Salmon Oil capsules, a multi-vitamin for pregnant women and a calcium/magnesium tablet.
  6. I had a gut feeling the child will be a boy a few days after the positive pregnancy test.  Mark had a dream about the child, and that it was a boy, a few weeks later.  My mother also says she has a gut feeling it will be a boy.  I know that I will be happy either way though.
  7. Andrew for a boy.  Daviny (pronounced Day-vin-nee) for a girl.

Some of the things that people have not asked, but Mark and I hold strong opinions about, is that if it is a girl we are decorating the room in red.  If the baby is a boy, then we are decorating the room in green.  I’ve never been fond of the “cotton candy” colors that dominate mainstream shops when it comes to the baby section.

The second thing is that as far as toys are concerned, our child is going to have lots of Duplo, Lego and books.  Those are our toys of choice for the child (boy or girl) until the child’s personality becomes apparent and we can cater for their personal interests.  We are definitely going to put value on fewer High Quality toys, over hundreds of “cheap” toys.

Lastly, assuming there are no complications, I am planning to have a natural birth.  I am also planning on breastfeeding as much as possible in the first few months and we are going to only use disposable nappies if we are going “out” with our child.  Around the house and at the grandparents house we are going to use toweling nappies.

More than this, I am speculating and thinking about the major decisions that will come along and weighing up the options, but I know that many of these decisions can only be made when the baby is here.  My number 1 goal is to develop an understanding of the child’s personality and interests, then to encourage the child to become the best that he/she was made to be.

A new chapter begins…

Orchid - a goodbye gift from Ouch! a touch of technology
Orchid – a goodbye gift from Ouch! a touch of technology

On the 30th of September 2014, I finished my last day in the Corporate Work World.  It was a day of mixed emotions – relief, excitement, uncertainty, sentimentality and happiness.  The most interesting emotion I experienced was the feeling of a large weight being lifted off my shoulders.  That night one could say I was a little shell-shocked.

I am grateful for all the experience and friendships that I made while working at Ouch! a touch of technology.  The number one thing that I learned is that I am not happy in a Corporate World, that I need flexibility, a relaxed atmosphere and to be my own boss running my own projects that I am passionate about.

I also realized that I need a work that deals more with people, but doesn’t require me to be social with them for long periods of time.  Thanks to a brain-profile test ( NBI Profile ), I found that my Empathy preference was the strongest by far, even though my Social preference was the lowest.  The runner up preferences were Organizing, Realist and Imagineer.

This has lead to me starting my new job as a Web Developer and Content Writer at WebworxX, which is my husband’s business.  It will involve more writing, but will also keep me in the programming field which I studied.  It will involve more people interactions, and I am considering getting involved in Social Media Management too.

Yesterday I set up my office space at WebworxX.  It is simple, but it is mine and I can do with it how I wish.

My Workspace at WebworxX
My new workspace

And that is the news from my side.  I hope that this is the beginning of a more regular blogging from me!

~ Ash ~

Recipe No. 1 – Roast Mutton

Recipe 1 - Roast Mutton - www.AuthenticallyAsh.com
Recipe 1 – Roast Mutton – www.AuthenticallyAsh.com

This recipe can be made with the leg, loin, shoulder or breast of the sheep.  The leg and loin are the most expensive parts of the sheep.  The shoulder and breast are medium in price.  It is not recommended to attempt this with the cheaper parts of the sheep/lamb, those are best suited for a stew.

Ingredients:

  • Leg, loin, shoulder or breast of the sheep/lamb
  • 125ml (half a cup) flour
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) salt
  • 2.5ml (half teaspoon) pepper

Utensils:

  • Oven
  • Roasting dish with lid
  • small to medium mixing bowl
  • kitchen scale
  • kitchen timer

Method:

  1. Defrost the meat overnight, or for 3 hours during the day if the meat has been in the freezer.
  2. Heat oven to 190ºC (375ºF)
  3. Weigh the defrosted meat on the kitchen scale and make a note of its weight.  This will be used to calculate the cooking time.
  4. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in the mixing bowl
  5. Rub the flour mixture all over the meat
  6. Place meat into the roasting dish (it is recommended to put a wire rack under the meat in the dish, but not required)
  7. Calculate the cooking time as follows: For every 500g of meat, it needs to be cooked for 25 minutes, plus an extra 15 minutes at the end.  See chart below this method for more details.
  8. Put meat in the oven and set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes
  9. After 30 minutes reduce the heat to 160ºC (325ºF)
  10. Set the timer for the remaining cooking time
  11. Remove from the oven when your timer goes off and serve

Serve with:

  • Steamed Sweet Potato (35 minutes steam time)
  • Steamed Carrots (15 minutes steam time)
  • Steamed Broccoli (5 minutes steam time)
  • Fresh Tomato, Cucumber and Lettuce (chopped into a salad)
Cooking Times for Roast Mutton (Chart) - www.AuthenticallyAsh.com
Cooking Times for Roast Mutton (Chart) – www.AuthenticallyAsh.com

Recipe Card for download and printing below:  You may share this as much as you want, but please always reference this source.  Thank you!

Recipe No. 1 - Roast Mutton - www.AuthenticallyAsh.com
Recipe No. 1 – Roast Mutton – www.AuthenticallyAsh.com

Menu Planning – 13 tips for planning your family menu

I’ve been researching healthy menu planning and this post (and printable) are of my findings when doing this research.  This printable is on the first page of my recipe file.  Feel free to share it with whomever you wish, but please will you always reference the source (www.AuthenticallyAsh.com).

The .PDF can found here: Menu planning checklist and 13 Tips of when Menu Planning (printable)

During my research, I have realized that the most important aspect of planning a menu is to always keep in mind the nutritional value of the meal.  You can read my blog post about the basics of good nutrition if you haven’t done so already.

If you haven’t considered the health benefits of the food you are serving your family then what is the point of menu planning?  You might as well go and eat at your favorite fast food restaurant every day of the week.  Why do we eat at home?  I know that I do because it is better for my health.

So, keeping in mind the health benefits of the meal, what are the basics that we need every day?  I also mentioned this in my Good Nutrition Basics post, but I’m going to mention it again because it is so important.

  • Cereals: I’m not talking about the sugar coated breakfast cereals that you get in the shops.  Those are useless because there is way too much sugar in them.  Instead you must make sure you have one serving of Oats, Mealiemeal, Sorghum, Wheat or any unrefined cereal each day (preferably organic).  Also make sure you have one serving of wholewheat bread (that is 1 slice).  Cereals not only contain carbohydrates and fats, but also Vitamins, Minerals and Roughage. Carbohydrates provide heat and energy and Vitamins, Minerals and Roughage keep the body healthy.
  • Protein: These include Meat, Fish, Poultry, Beans, Lentils, Nuts, Cheese and Eggs.  Proteins are the body builders in the food groups.  They help your body repair itself.  You should get 1 serving of Meat, Fish or Poultry and 1-2 servings of Beans, Lentils, Nuts, Cheese and Eggs.
  • Vegetables:  Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes give you Carbohydrates, which provide your body with heat and energy.  Try to get 1 serving of potatoes or sweet potatoes per day. Also try to get 2 servings of cooked vegetables and 1 serving of raw vegetables.
  • Fruits:  Oranges, Guavas and Tomatoes give you Vitamin C.  Try to eat one of these fruits each day.  Also try to eat one serving of any other type of fruit.  Fruits provide your body with vitamins, minerals and roughage.
  • Sugar:  Try to cut out as much refined sugar as possible, substitute honey whenever possible.  I have been reading a lot of articles lately on how dangerous sugar really is for us.  It is being linked with Cancer and numerous other diseases.  I’m down to half a teaspoon of sugar in my coffee and tea now.

Here is an image from the .PDF I mentioned at the top of this post summarizing the above points:

Menu Planning Checklist - www.AuthenticallyAsh.com
Menu Planning Checklist – www.AuthenticallyAsh.com

The second thing I discovered is that menu planning is all about variety.  Try to give the person eating your food as much variety as possible by:

  1. Plan a variety of different types of vegetables:  This means that you shouldn’t stick to all root vegetables, or all leafy vegetables, but rather pick 1 root vegetable, 1 leaf vegetable, 1 flowery vegetable and/or 1 squash type of vegetable.
  2. Variety of colour:  So in other words, don’t present the person eating your food with a plate filled with greens only (e.g. Marrow, Spinach and Broccoli).  Add in some orange, red or white vegetables.  The more appealing it is on the eyes the more appealing it is to the stomach.
  3. Variety of textures and shapes:  This is also to make it appealing to the eyes.  Don’t boil all the food into a mush, try to serve some raw (grated carrot), some whole (baked potatoes), some chopped (green beans) and some mashed (pumpkin).
  4. Variety of ingredients:  Try not to use the same main ingredient in two recipes.  For example, don’t make pumpkin pie for dessert and mashed pumpkin in the meal.

Third, it is all about making the different foods compliment each other.  This can easily be achieved by picking one main recipe and then keeping all the other foods on the plate as natural and neutral as possible.  You wouldn’t have a spicy bean curry dish with a rump steak, would you?  The two tastes would overpower each other.  Rather keep the rump steak as a delicious rump and add boiled spinach, chopped pumpkin and carrot salad to the plate.

And while I’m talking about picking recipe’s, it is a good idea to learn which fruits and vegetables are in season and grown locally.  Knowing this can greatly aid you in lowering your food expenses each month.  If you live in Alaska you would pay a small fortune for Kiwi fruit (which grows best in a tropical climate).  And strawberries (which are a Springtime berry) cost a lot more in winter and autumn, don’t they?  So by learning which fruits and vegetables are in season in which months, and knowing which fruits and vegetables are easily grown in your climate, you can dramatically cut down your grocery bill.  This information is essential to effective menu planning.

On the topic of saving money, I also discovered a hint towards saving money on your electricity/gas bill when you are cooking.  Cook together as much as possible. This means that if you are roasting a chicken, then consider also doing baked potatoes at the same time, or find a dessert recipe that needs a similar oven temperature, and cook the two together.  You can also consider boiling eggs at the same time that you boil potatoes (in the same pot!).

Keep the left-overs in mind.  If you plan to cook a recipe that serves 6 and there are only 2 in your household, that means that the meal should be able to feed the two of you for 3 meals.  This saves you electricity/gas again because you cook once for 2-3 days.  But make sure that you can keep the food that you have made for 3 days.  Fish doesn’t quite taste the same the next day, so you won’t be able to make a “serves 8” fish dish for 2 people.

If you have left overs in your refrigerator, then you should also find a way to incorporate them into your next meal.  Use up leftovers as quickly as possible.

Serve 1 hot dish a day.  I’m not talking about a spicy dish, I’m talking about a fully cooked dish. Even in summer, try to at least have 1 hot dish a day.  You can grill meat outdoors if you can’t handle the oven heat in your kitchen.

Serve a dessert after the main meal.  You don’t have to make a full baked pudding, but a sliced banana served with custard is just as nice.  Fruit makes a wonderful dessert, and what better way to make fruit appealing?  Just remember that with dessert it is best to keep the portion sizes small, it makes it more of a treat that way.

Eat at a table.  This isn’t really a menu planning tip, but rather something to think about while we are talking about menu planning.  By sitting at the table, and serving the food in the good dishes, you are encouraging family togetherness.  Meals should be about building your family togetherness.  Try to see each meal as a feast used to build relationships.  So if possible, try to eat at a table for every meal (breakfast, lunch and supper).  When you plan the menu, think how you are going to present each meal on the table.

Finally, you should plan your menu as long in advance as you can stick to.  It saves time and money to do once a week or once a month shopping, and it is beneficial to know in the morning what you should be defrosting for the nights meal.

This is what I have discovered while learning to do proper menu planning.  I hope that my notes have been a help to you.  I’m not pretending to be an expert on this topic, I’m just sharing what I have learned.  If you have any extra things to consider when menu planning, please drop a comment below, I’d love to hear your views.

 

Good Nutrition Basics

Good Nutrition basics - Authentically Ash ( www.authenticallyash.com )
Good nutrition infogram showing the basics of good nutrition and a balanced diet.

Good nutrition is a vital part of everyday human life.  If you are privileged enough to easily come by food, then it is your responsibility to ensure that your body gets what it needs to stay healthy.  And if you are a parent then it is your responsibility to make sure your children get what they need to stay healthy.  This is a basic overview of what I feel an average person should know about good nutrition.

There are 3 basic types of foods

  • Proteins are the foods that build and repair your body
  • Vitamins, Minerals and Roughage keep the body, its chemicals and mechanisms balanced
  • Carbohydrates and fats are converted into heat and energy, and if you don’t use them up they become body clutter.

Proteins (body builders) – The following foods contain proteins and help build and repair your body:

  • Nuts, Eggs and Fish (all edible kinds)
  • Cheese (all kinds)
  • Meat (birds, poultry, pigs, cattle, sheep and wild game)
  • Vegetables (dried beans, soya beans, lentils and peas)
  • Milk (whole, skimmed and buttermilk)

Vitamins, Minerals and Roughage – The following foods contain various kinds of vitamins, minerals and roughage which keep your body in balance

  • Fruit (all kinds, dried, fresh, cooked, berries, dates and tomatoes)
  • Vegetables (all kinds, green and leafy, yellow, raw and cooked)
  • Cereals (whole/unsifted flour, oats, mealiemeal, sorghum meal and soya bean flour)
  • Milk (whole, skimmed and buttermilk)

Carbohydrates and fats – The following foods contain carbohydrates and fats which are used to give your body energy and heat.

  • Vegetables and fruit (avocado pears, bananas, beetroot, dried peas, dried beans, mealies, sweet potatoes and potatoes)
  • Cereals (macaroni, tapioca, mealiemeal, wheat flour, rice, sago, spaghetti and maize products)
  • Sugars (sugar, honey, syrup, fresh and dried fruits, preserves, sweet desserts and sweet dishes)
  • Fats (butter, cream, animal fats, vegetable fats, oils and nuts)

You should try to get at least one serving of each at every meal!

Now, I’m sure you are wanting to know a sure fire way of making sure you stay healthy without needing to do too much meal planning.  That is why I made this check-list:

Eat these daily:

  • 1 to 2 servings of Meat, Fish or Poultry
  • 1 serving of dried beans, lentils, nuts or cheese whenever meat is not served with the meal
  • 500ml Milk per day (try to get organic)
  • 1 egg per day or 4 eggs per week
  • 1 serving potatoes or sweet potato
  • 2 servings of cooked vegetables
  • 1 serving of raw vegetables
  • 1 Orange, tomato or guava (high in Vitamin C!)
  • 1 serving of any other kind of fruit
  • 1-2 servings of wholewheat bread, oats, mealiemeal, sorghum, wheat or any unrefined cereal
  • Use honey instead of sugar whenever possible!!!
  • Use no more than 2 tablespoons of butter, cream, animal fats, vegetable fats or oils each day.

One serving, in this case, is the size of the palm of your hand, and the height of the tip of your thumb (from the knuckle to the point). In the case of cheese where this is the serving size of grated cheese, not whole cheese.

And don’t forget to drink lots of water!

On a personal note:  I was actually researching good nutrition yesterday and these are my notes.  I’m going to be working on implementing this in my family in the coming months.

First Web Article: Valentines day in Bloemfontein, the city of roses…

2 Days ago my first web article went live!  Here is the teaser:

Valentines day is fast approaching and how better could you spend it than in Bloemfontein “the city of roses”? Why give your sweetheart a bunch of roses, when you can enjoy a beautiful outdoor picnic at the Botanical Gardens or Oliewenhuis?

Perhaps outdoors is not the thing for you, then maybe a romantic dinner for two at New York Restaurant is more for you?

What is important to remember is that you need to know your partners Love Language and once you know that, then you will know how best to treat your sweetheart this valentines day. Read more here…

Heaven and Earth Hierarchy

Authentically Ash - Earth and Heaven Hierarchy
Earth and Heaven Hierarchy

A while ago I came up with the Heaven and Earth Hierarchy (as seen in my own eyes).  To make a point I have drawn the diagram the way that a worldly view see’s it.

The reason for drawing it from the worldly view-point is because it is the perception we are bombarded with daily (unless you are Amish or living in another closed community… maybe…).  So it is the hierarchy we all know and love.  … OK not all of us love it, in fact I think very few people love it.

So let’s get to the explanation.  Let’s start with the Average Human Being.

Mr. and Mrs. Doe (the average Jane and John).  These are our normal average non-Christians.  Some of them might even be “Christians” but only because their parents, grand-parents and great-grandparents were Christians.  Or because it is expected of them to attend a church in their area.  This is the regular average family that works the 8 to 5 routine, has 2.1 children and lives in the suburbs.  We can also include the average homeless person here, or the average teenager, or the average college student.  The only requirement is that you are not a Christ follower and you are average with a low to middle income.

I said at this point “In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. ~ Psalm 10:4”.  These people may not be noticeably wicked.  They might be relatively good and nice people.  The key of what I am saying here is that in their thoughts they either don’t want to know God or they haven’t given Him much thought.

Mr. Slate and Mr. Spacely (the leaders / managers).  Notice the reference to The Flintstones and The Jetsons’ characters here.  That is the image I want in your mind when you think of the typical leaders and managers.  Now, when you look at the “worldly” social class, leaders and managers are considered as slightly above the average Doe.  With leadership comes more responsibility, and a slightly higher worldly status, and with that responsibility, salary increase and status comes a recipe for pride to filter in, because you can start seeing yourself as better than the average Doe.  This makes it harder to maintain a Christ-like nature and cultivate the “Fruits of the spirit”.  I’m not saying that Christians cannot be leaders/managers, I’m just saying it starts getting harder to be a Christian if you are a leader/manager.

Mr. Wonka (business owner).  I’m sure that most people have heard of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  The image of Willy Wonka is what I want you to have in your mind.  Especially the slightly more “arrogant” version that Johnny Depp acted as.  While I do really enjoy the eccentric Willy Wonka, think how somebody would be perceived in the real world.  He would be admired.  In the story there were people who were envious of his success (probably Leaders and Managers who wanted their own business – Envy), and Willy Wonka had developed techniques to shut them all out of his chocolate factory and keep his secret recipe’s to himself.  Gluttony and Greed are easily seen here, all routed in a form of Pride.  People are envious of the business owner and want what he has.  It takes a person firm in his faith in order to keep humble and Christ-like while being a business owner.

Mr. President (the political leader).  Picture just about any president or political leader.  They are strategists, they tend to do whatever will get them the most votes.  If they get votes by being a Christian, then by golly gosh they will be Christians.  If they will get votes by being pro-gay marriage, then they will be.  They are expected to do whatever will get them the most votes.  They have their advisers all around them, pressure from the public, pressure from their sponsors and pressure from the media.  Staying true to Heavenly/Godly values is super hard for the average political leader.

Miss Starlet (actress, singer and all-round famous person). This one I made up, but you can put pretty much any celebrity into this role.  It must be awfully tough to stay true to God when the entire globe is watching you.  Make it known you are a Christian and you have opened up a whole list of “don’t get caught doing XYZ”.  You are a representative for Christ and being a celebrity Christian puts a whole heap of new responsibilities on your shoulders.  You would have to turn down Playboy cover shoots (LUST) and don’t you dare wear a slightly too short skirt to the Grammy Awards.  The long and the short of it, it is way easier to be famous if you are not a Christian than if you are.  For some reason people are more forgiving of sin if you don’t claim to be a Christ-follower, and being a celebrity you can be sure that all your sin is open in the spotlight for the world to see.  I’m not saying you cannot be a Christian celebrity, I am saying that it is near impossible.

Mr. Tony Stark (Iron Man – X-treme Riches).  Yet again I’m using a fictional character to make my point.  He is so Prideful, arrogant, and extremely wealthy.  Why is it that we can’t seem to help admiring this person.  So many men want to be like him (in their deepest depths of their hearts), and so many women would like to be the lady that eventually sweeps him off his feet and keeps his interest for life.  And now, comes the cruncher… when you have absolutely everything in the world, why do you need God?

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25

Of course, we know that without God you are kinda screwed in eternity, but staying humble must be pretty difficult if you have absolutely everything this world can provide.

And along with this mindset comes the classic 7 deadly sins: Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Greed, Wrath and Pride.

This is the hierarchy of worldly status and values… climbing the Worldly Ladder as it were.  My point is that the higher you go on the “worldly” ladder, the harder it is to stay on the heavenly ladder.

But what about the other side of the ladder, the one that the world sees as sinking down, down, down… but in truth is the up, up, up (and I just got an image of the Pixar movie in my brain).

I believe that there are stages in the Heavenly ladder too.  First there are the new Christians.  Those that have just acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord, that they are sinners and have humbled themselves before God.

Then there are those that are on their walk with Christ.  They are reading their Bibles daily, they are spending time in reflection and prayer, they are building the fruits of Peace, Faithfulness, Kindness, Gentleness, Joy, Self-Control, Goodness, Patience and Love… the heavenly values. Many of them go unnoticed by the world at large, because the impact they make is on individual lives rather than the whole world, but then there are those who have become World-Changing Christians.  I think of William Wilberforce who lead a movement to abolish slavery and  C.S. Lewis who wrote numerous books about Christianity.  There are so many others!

Then come the Saints – I would like to classify them along-side the World-Changing Christians, but I decided to give them a higher level on the Humility scale.

Finally, just before Jesus himself, the 12 apostles. Their humility, even in Peter eventually, was commendable.

Jesus, the ultimate in Humility: “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” – Phillipians 2:8

And this Jesus, is the person that we are encouraged to strive to be like.  The Jesus of Peace, Faithfulness, Kindess, Gentleness, Joy, Self-Control, Goodness, Patience, Love and HUMILITY!!!

So, this is how “The World” sees the status ladder, with X-treme riches at the top and the humility of the apostles at the bottom, when in truth, Jesus is at the top and Satan at the Bottom.