Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A week without meat

Sadly I failed going a week without meat.  I got sick and a friend made me some stew.  Once I am over this cold I plan on trying it again.  I did have a difficult time eating the stew and I had to try hard not to think about the meat I was eating.  It did taste good though, so that made eating it a lot easier.  

I have never gone on a diet and have always been able to eat pretty much what ever I want without gaining any weight.  So after I tried not eating meat and was not even able to make it one week, I now understand why so many people are not able to stick to a diet.  It's tough!  I do try and eat pretty healthy, though.  

I am a little overwhelmed with how much food to eat on a vegetarian diet.  If you stick to the plan you will not go hungry.  Here is the Vegetarian Food Pyramid Guidelines.

Fats, Oils, Sweets
Use sparingly
Milk, Yogurt, Cheese
2-3 servings daily
Beans, Nuts, Seeds, Eggs, Meat Substitutes
2-3 servings daily
3-5 servings daily
2-4 servings daily
Bread, Rice, Cereal, Pasta
6-11 servings daily

As you can see, that is a lot of food!  A serving of fruits and vegetables is typically what can fit in your hand or a cup size.  

In the book, Gimme Five, by Nicola Graimes, which I bought in Ireland last year, it talks a lot about the importance of eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  We are to strive to eat at least one serving from each color group - red, orange, yellow, green, and purple.  I have been diligently trying to feed my son 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day but it sometimes can be difficult.  After he ate his first cracker in childcare during my MOPS group, he has become somewhat obsessed with crackers.  If he sees them, he wants them.  So I tend to feed him in courses, the food I think he is least likely to want he gets first.  It seems to work pretty well.

Sadly, I have not been eating my five servings of fruits and vegetables.  I get caught up in making sure my son does but neglect my own nutrition.  So here is my new plan, I am going to try and eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  I will continue to not eat as much meat and hopefully eventually be able to give it up completely.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Food has changed

My husband and I just watched "The Future of Food" and "Food, Inc."  If you have not seen these movies I recommend you watch them.  It opened our eyes to what an outrageous and scary situation our country is in regarding food and treatment of animals that we eat.  We usually buy organic when it is available (in Germany organic foods are labeled Bio).  I was not only mortified to learn about all the feces in meat that we eat  as well as the poor treatment of the animals but also that companies are chemically modifying the plants we eat.  There are true costs of "cheap food" and I no longer want any part of it.  

Here is the plan.  I am going to try and only buy organic and locally grown produce.  When we eat out I am going to strive for vegetarian options.  I am not going to eat any meat for at least a week.  My son doesn't like meat very much anyway so it won't be hard for him.  My husband and I do like meat so this will be somewhat  of a challenge, thankfully there are some great meat alternatives. 

If you are a vegetarian or vegan and have any tips, please share them with me.  Any good websites, books, recipes, etc. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

7 Secrets to 7 Happy Years

Last week my husband and I celebrated our 7th anniversary.  We ate at one of my favorite restaurants,  Skylight, located in Mannheim. The restaurant sits on top of a TV tower and revolves around the city once an hour. 

We are not marriage experts but we have experienced 7 happy years of marriage.  If you have been married for any length of time, you know being married is one of the most challenging things.  Here are some of our secrets to a happy marriage.

1. Be best friends.  When you consider your spouse your best friend you consider their feelings and are concerned about their well being.  So many times couples seem to get married but are not best friends much less act like friends half of the time. If your spouse is not your best friend at least treat them as you would a good friend.

2. Have an allowance.  Money problems are very common in marriages.  We have always had one account.  However, several years ago we decided to each get an amount of money each month we can spend however we choose.  When we lived in the States we took this money out in cash.  This has helped us keep arguments about money at bay as we both have freedom to blow money on something we want if we choose without "asking" or "disappointing" the other person.  For large purchases we can either save up our allowance or talk to each other and decide if we want to add that to the family budget.

3. Agree to disagree.  My husband still struggles with this because he is more at peace when we resolve disagreements.  However, sometimes you will just not be able to agree and that's okay.  We are still individuals and it's important to have our own thoughts about things.

4. Stand up for one another.  I cannot tell you how important this is.  If someone is to be disrespectful to me, my husband stands up for me.  Same for me to him.  I think it is so sad when a person is getting dissed and his or her spouse is standing there joining in rather than standing up.  Marriage is a partnership, you are a team.  Stick up for one another.

5. Share household chores.  Even though I am a stay-at-home mom, I am not a maid.  I am sometimes busier and a lot more tired than I ever was when I worked full time.  And while I do most of the day-to-day chores such as laundry and cooking, my husband is always willing to help clean, wash dishes, fold laundry, etc. 

6. Be nice to each other.  We try and encourage one another and treat each other better than we would a stranger.  Sometimes this is difficult but as we heard at a marriage conference once, we are not each others enemy.  

7. Put God first. This is the most important secret for us.  Having the same beliefs has been such a blessing. in our marriage  The fact that we are both Christians makes it easier as far as how we live day-to-day and how we act and respond to one another and raise our child.

While marriage is not always easy, there are some awesome things about it. If you are struggling in your marriage, I encourage you to seek help.  There is hope for a better marriage and sometimes it starts with you being willing to make changes first. I'll leave you with one of my favorite passages from the Bible. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (New International Version, ©2010)

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why are there letters on doors?

Last night we have a few visitors stop by our house.  If you live in Germany or travel through Germany during the first part of January, you will sometimes see letters on the top of people's doors. Germans call the holiday, Dreik√∂nigstag (Three Kings' Day). Typically in Germany, on January 6th, children in groups of three (symbolising the three kings) proceed in costume from house to house while singing songs.  In our town 4 kids and one adult stopped by our house.  They were dressed up, sang a few songs to us, and collected money for a local charity.  After their songs they wrote a blessing on our door.  One of the children wrote 20 * C + M + B + 11.  My friend told me the letters have two meanings. They are the initials of the customary names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They also abbreviate the Latin words “Christus Mansionem Benedicat”, “May Christ bless the house”. The year is divided before and after the these letters. The crosses (+) represent the protection of the Christ."  She said that this is not just a Catholic blessing but is used by many faith traditions.  

This was the first time the kids visited our house and this is our third year in Germany.  When I mentioned this to one of my neighbors he said they come every year.  Not sure why we had not seen them until this year. Here are a few pictures from the group.

Our visitors

Blessing on our door

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011

We rang in the New Year with our next door neighbors.  It was a fun evening.  Our son went to bed around 9pm and slept through the war of fireworks.  We were impressed.  I was so glad because by midnight I was worn out.  

Our neighbors cooked duck which was really good.  The only other time I have eaten duck was at a Thai food restaurant in Texas and it was slimy and gross.  This duck was not slimy and had a nice flavor.  She also cooked rice, dumplings, pasta, and several other things.  The wife is from Slovakia and her family made some homemade Slovakian pickles and salami which were both very good. Her husband is American and they both speak English.  We have some wonderful German neighbors who live on the other side of us.  We feel so blessed to have such wonderful neighbors.  We actually know our neighbors in Germany better than we did our neighbors in the States.  Something we want to duplicate once we return to the US - get to know our neighbors.

Today we had some friends over for dinner to celebrate the New Year.  We had three families over for a total of 12 people.  There were 8 adults and 4 kids.  We had a great time.  We cooked a spiral ham for the first time, which turned out great, black eyed peas, corn, peas, Greek Salad, rolls, and several appetizers of fruit, cheese, crackers, chips, and dip. For dessert I baked chocolate chip cookies, one friend brought homemade apple pie, my neighbors brought peanut butter balls, and my other friend brought muffins.  The food was delicious and the conversations were enjoyable.  All of the kids got along great.  I even put up a kid's table and the kids sat there and ate very well.  My son was in his high chair but wanted down to go sit at the kid's table.  He did wonderful!  

I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful new year.  May God bless you and fill your home with love.  Many blessings from my house to yours.  Happy New Year!!
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