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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Money Secrets of the Amish

Money Secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker is my latest book from booksneeze, which is about finding 'true abundance' in simplicity, sharing and saving.



If I'm perfectly honest, this book was a massive let down to me. I really hoped it would teach me something I didn't already know, but the ideas are obvious and although it might be helpful to hand to a teenager who has never dealt with money before ideas like 'pay your bills on time to avoid late charges' aren't exactly revolutionary.


The Amish theme is a complete gimmick, and Craker regularly offers advice and tips that are not in anyway related to the Amish, such as treating yourself regularly so that you don't feel completely deprived - a notion that she readily admits confused the Amish folk she interviewed, but she suggests you do it anyway.

She is also a little condescending and perhaps even mocking in the way she talks about the church history between Mennonites and the Amish, particularly in the first few chapters.


The book is very easy to read and not at all difficult to follow, unlike some other finance books I've read, but unless you are a complete novice at trying to watch your budget, I'd probably go for something else. I particularly like Alvin Hall's 'Your Money or Your Life' or even just sign up to the Money Saving Expert's forums. You'll get much better advice from there than you will in this book.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Treasure Hunt Meals

The Hidden Art of Homemaking, by Edith Schaeffer, is a book that profoundly influenced my thinking and actions recently. I love Mrs. Schaeffer’s infectious creativity, and the joy she takes in making the lives of others more beautiful. One of Mrs. Schaeffer’s ideas that I grabbed hold of was the “Treasure Hunt Meal.”


These meals are perfect for a under-whelmingly plain sort of day, a day when the children have been irritable, or maybe a dark, rainy day that follows many other dark, rainy days. The announcement that a “Treasure Hunt Meal” is coming can give new energy to the entire day!

The idea is to prepare separate courses for the meal and hide them, with clues leading your children to each course. Meals can be as simple or as extravagant as you want, and there’s lots of room for creativity. Every treasure hunt meal is different! It does require some work on your part, but it is such fun work, and it makes so many people happy!


Start by planning your menu. How many courses will you have? Write five to ten clues for each course, with the first clue leading to the second clue, the second to the third, and so forth until a clue finally leads them to your first course.


Clue-writing will give you an opportunity for creativity. Write a word on a card and cut the card up and put all the pieces in a reclosable baggie. When the children reassemble the card, they will be able to read the clue. If you’re feeling poetic, write little poems to direct them to each place. Riddles are fun, too, or you can use verses from Proverbs for clues. “The sluggard’s is broken down, Proverbs. 24:31” can send them looking for the next clue on your wall outside. These clues will test your children’s knowledge of the Proverbs, or will send them running to look up the verses.


You might have a basket with silverware and plastic cups filled with fresh fruit inside packed into a pretty box or basket inside the closet. Everyone sits on the floor and enjoys the fruit before launching on to the next set of clues, which may lead them to piping hot pizza in the oven, along a basket filled with a picnic blanket, napkins and paper plates in front of it. The next set of clues may lead them to a stack of pajamas folded and ready for putting on, with the next clue sending them to change and put their clothes away before following the next clue. The final clue might direct them to the family room, where a cooler is waiting with ice cream bars or cones and a carton of ice cream, along with a book to read together.

The possibilities are endless. Have your clues help them gather all the materials for a backyard barbecue and campout or a living room picnic with individually packed box lunches. Lead them to a beach blanket, an already-packed picnic basket, a map with the destination marked out, a basket full of play clothes, and the car all ready to take off for a day at the beach. Or have them find individual ingredients for making a batch of homemade ice cream at the end of the hunt.


The idea is to have lots of fun running from one clue to the next, and to share a meal and rich family time together. Want to try this idea? For those of you with children who are old enough for tougher clues, here’s a bunch of Proverbs-related clues to get you started:


  • “The sluggard’s is broken down.” Proverbs 24:31 (Wall or fence)
  • “This will be filled with plenty if we honor God with our increase.” Proverbs 3:10 (Barn/shed)
  • “People will curse the man that withholds this.” Proverbs 11:26 (Corn – Hide clue under a can of corn or out in the corn patch, if you have one!)
  • “Wisdom invites us to eat this with her.” Proverbs 9:5 (Bread)
  • “The slothful man’s way is a hedge of these.” Proverbs 15:19 (Thorns – Hide clue in some rose bushes, or in your own patch of stickers and weeds)
  • “Man can prepare these for battle, but our safety comes from the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31 (Horse – hide clue with a toy horse)
  • “Only eat what is sufficient for you so you don’t throw up.” Proverbs 25:16 (Honey)
  • “A good word is like gold ones of these.” Proverbs 25: 11 (Apples)
  • “Good news from far away is like this to someone who is thirsty.” Proverbs 25:25 (Cold water — Hide clue by a cold water faucet or a water cooler)
  • “A sluggard turns on his bed like this does on its hinges.” Proverbs 26:14 (Door)
  • “Meddling in someone else’s disagreement is like grabbing the ears of this.” Proverbs 26:17 (Dog)
  • “This rejoices the heart like hearty counsel from a friend.” Proverbs 27:9 (Perfume)
  • “The sluggard says there is one in the streets.” Proverbs 26:13 (Lion – Hide clue under a stuffed animal lion)
  • “The teeth of a rebellious generation are like these.” Proverbs 30:14 (Knives)
  • “Wisdom is more precious than this.” Proverbs 3:15 (Jewels – Hide clue in jewelry box)
  • “Bind your father’s commandment around this.” Proverbs 6:21 (Neck – Hide clue inside the collar of your blouse or your husband’s shirt.)
  • “Wisdom has set this for the simple who she calls to eat with her.” Proverbs 9:2 (Table – Attach clue to the underside of the kitchen table)
  • “A beautiful woman without discretion is like a gold ring in this.” Proverbs 11:22 (Pig’s snout – Attach clue to nose of a stuff pig, or to the nose on a picture of a pig that you put up somewhere.)
  • “The righteous will flourish like this.” Proverbs 11:28 (Green leaf – Attach clue in an obvious way to a leaf in a tree or bush)
  • “The diligent man’s will rule.” Proverbs 12:24 (Hand – Write clue on the palm of your hand)
  • “The words of a whisperer are like these.” Proverbs 18:8 (Delicious morsels – Hide clue with a bag of chocolate chips)
  • “Quarreling is like the bars of this.” Proverbs 18:19 (Castle – Hide clue with a Lego castle, a picture of a castle, etc.)
  • “The man who finds one of these finds a good thing.” Proverbs 18:22 (Wife – Hide clue somewhere on you!)
  • “A wife’s quarreling is like this.” Proverbs 19:13 (Continual dripping – Hide clue next to a faucet that has been left dripping)
  • “He who loves this will not become rich.” Proverbs 21:17 (Wine or oil)
  • “Don’t crush the afflicted here.” Proverbs 22:22 (Gate)
  • “You may lose this if you sign for another man’s loans.” Proverbs 22:27 (Bed)
  • “Let your foot be seldom here.” Proverbs 25:17 (Neighbor’s house – Hide the clue with your neighbor, who can give it to the children when they arrive at the door. Perhaps the clue can include inviting the neighbors to join in on the rest of the hunt!)
  • “A fool who repeats his folly is like one of these who goes back to his vomit.” Proverbs 26:11 (Dog – The boys will like this one!)
  • “A wicked ruler over poor people is like a charging one of these.” Proverbs 28:15 (Bear – Tie clue to a teddy bear)
  • “The virtuous woman’s doesn’t go out at night.” Proverbs 31:18 (Light)
  • “The virtuous woman makes these for herself.” Proverbs 31:22 (Bed coverings – hide clue between blankets on a bed)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Happy Shavout!

Yes I know this post is late, I was hoping to run it in the week running up to shavout so that you could enjoy the celebration too, even if you've never heard of it, but I forgot. Sorry about that, but you could always enjoy it next year?

Shavout is a time when the Jewish people celebrate the giving of the Torah. It is also the date of the birth of the church and the time when the first christians recieved the Holy Spirit. What gifts! The Word of God, followed by the Spirit of God. It really is a time to be celebrated.


Obviously you are welcome to celebrate in anyway you choose, but I thought I'd share how our family celebrates to give you some ideas.


Firstly I plan a special meal. It's traditional to eat plenty of dairy as milk is all the nutrition a new born needs. Likewise, we are God's children, and his word contains all we need.

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

1 Peter 2:1-3


We always eat tagliatelle with cream cheese and chive melted over it, tossed with chopped mixed peppers. I know it sounds boring to eat the same thing every year, but it's only once a year, not every week, and it means I don't have to think about shopping/cooking too much. No-one complains about having roast turkey again at christmas, right?


We also try to serve lots of sweet things, a strawberry and lime smoothie with plenty of honey always goes down well (blend a punnet of strawberries with the juice of a lime, two cups of water and add honey to taste).

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103

It's traditional for Jewish families to read the book of Ruth on Shavout. I love this, because I bet they have no idea why. I'm told it's because it's a story about lovingkindness. I'm not really sure what that has to do with the festival, but I do know something else; Ruth's story is a story of a gentile bride being redeemed and counted as God's people. It's a beautiful love story, but more importantly a picture of Christ and the church. There's a great study on this here. What story is more fitting to celebrate the day that God gave His Spirit to His gentile bride, the church?

The final tradition is to read each other stories from the bible for as long as we can stay awake. Staying up all night reading God's Word is a rare and beautiful time to spend with family. This is where homeschooling comes into it's own, because we all get to have a lie in the next day!


It was so precious to hear Will helping Matt tell the story of the 'ten rules' that Moses was given (another great passage to read on this night). It's also worth having plenty of snacks ready for your late night to sustain everybody. Cheesecake is a good option (more dairy) as is ice cream and anything else sweet. I found candy letters this year. Great for spelling out 'sweet words'.

So if you don't already celebrate Shavout, think about it. It really is one of my favourite biblical feasts.

 
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