Posts from the ‘country life’ Category

What is a Tamarind? Oh, Sweet Tamarind!

It had to be more than twenty plus years since I ate a tamarind.  Last weekend I was presented with a sweet surprise.  My sister in law brought me a box of sweet tamarinds.  Now, these are hard to come by, so I knew this was a most precious gift.  If you are not familiar with tamarinds this post will help you appreciate them. 

Tamarinds grow on a tree mostly in tropical climates.  I have memories of eating tamarinds as a kid and climbing on tamarind trees, and just hanging out and eating them atop a tree.  When they are not ripen the shell is hard and kind of greenish, once they are ready to eat the shell turns brownish and is easy to crack, similar to the way you would crack an egg shell.  Most tamarinds that are ready will fall to the floor, as the shell dries.  Here are some pictures,to give you an idea.

Box of Tamarinds
Nutritional value – not much, but they are delicious! Mostly carbs, sugar, and fiber.  They are also high in calories as you can see in the box.
I like the fact that they are harvested in a way that is environmentally friendly and the box is recyclable.
Here is what a tamarind looks like
The shape varies and so does the size.
To eat it, just crack it open with your hands.
This is what you will find inside the shell.  Yeah, I know what you are thinking … but I assure you, it does not taste like that.
Close-up of the shell
Each section of the tamarind will contain a large seed.  To eat it, you separate a section and suck on it until you just have the seed.  The pulp is sweet and you must chew on it as well.  The seeds are very hard.
Here’s the whole thing.  The fibers hold the pieces of tamarind together.
Once you eat the whole tamarind you have an empty frame.  For the sake of this post I had to eat one.  Oh, the sacrifices we make for blogging!
Here’s a close shot of the empty frame.
And there you have it; this is how you it a tamarind.  Hope you enjoy this post, I did. 

Emergency Kit Must Have

Recently, I gave my husband an emergency radio – a model by the American Red Cross that I think should be in every household.  This radio is well made, has an attractive look, is compact, and works great.  It has three ways for power – battery, solar, and cranking handle.  You can switch between the three power sources.  I like this features because you cannot always count on batteries.  In addition, it has a flashlight and flasher built in, and you can switch to the weather band in several areas.  It has the radio, of course, but what I like about it is that it sounds clear, loud enough. 

The American Red Cross radio also has a clock and alarm.  I am pleased with the radio and Eddie loves it too.  I got it at the local Home Depot but you can probably found it online too.  With all the craziness in the weather these days, you never know when you would need this gadget.  Here are pictures of the radio in case you want one too.

Simple Abundance – Always a Great Read

More than a decade has gone by since the book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach came out and became a bestseller. I had this book sitting in my library for almost two years and recently I got to read it.  I loved it!  The principles on this book are true now more than ever.  Eddie and I have embarked in a journey to live the simple life and this book, although written with a feminine point of reference, is a source of inspiration, as many of the principles apply to men as well.  

Many families and individuals are simplifying their way of living, for many, this way of thinking has come after the effects of the current economy;for others, it has been brewing for quite some time. In a way, living the simple life is living mindfully, and has nothing to do with economic status.  Rich or Poor, both can live the simple abundance life, as it is more about spiritual connection and appreciation of the everyday blessings.

Living the Simple Life

Learning to live the simple life is more than pairing down some of your stuff.  Although it starts at that point, it develops into a spiritual quest, and appreciation of what every day brings.  Most people think that living simple is living without; this is not the case.  You might start clearing out things that you don’t need or feel are necessary for your happiness and daily comforts of living, but soon you start realizing all the blessings you have, and all the money you wasted in so much extra stuff that was far from being needed.  That is not to say that you turn into an extreme cheap and frugal person; it is far from that.  You will learn to be frugal, but out of not being wasteful and out of gratitude for the blessings in your life; it is more like a natural state of frugality, and not imposed by the lack of something.  You learn to be frugal because you recognize the abundance in your life.  This is hardly being cheap.  At the same time you will want to give more to others, and this is not being cheap either.
Living the simple life is surrounding your environment with healthy and simple things that have a functionality, as well as a purpose.  You also like and love these few things.  It is returning to simple forms and appreciating the job that these objects do.

For decorating the farmhouse, we will use the necessary furniture that we already have, and we are getting rid of extras.  We will choose simple materials, basic in form and purpose.  Some of these we already have, some we will scout for at a bargain price or recycled.  It will depend on what we need and when – and availability.

We have decided to forgo the central air or air conditioning which we have grown so accustomed to and instead, learn to open the windows, and use ceiling fans in some rooms for when it gets too hot.  We have selected a basic white ceiling fan with one center light.  We also selected a simple design portch light made of aluminum, that will last for many years.  The total cost for these two portch lights and two ceiling fans was $80.00.  Before buying them, I scouted around for these items to see if I could get them for free, but most fans available were too big or required four or more bulbs.  Since these were 19.99 a piece it was worth it to get them brand new plus it served the purpose in form, design, and simplicity.  The lighting could not be more simple and durable too.

Here are some pics.

Simple Aluminum Portch light
Simple one bulb four-blade ceiling fan
My advice here is that you try to find what you need – free first or recycled – and give it a second life, but if you cannot find it, then go with something simple at a reasonable price.  There is no sense in getting something for free if it does not serve the purpose.  I could have gotten many ceiling fans for free but they were either too big or had too many light bulbs, a waste in my opinion.  If you can wait for it to materialize in the future that is fine too, we are doing things in stages, so we decided to fit them in now.
Living simple is about saving money, but also about less excess, and the right form and function for the purpose.  And of course, loving it too.

   

Flipping the Switch

Starting to live a simple life has not been easy.  Mostly, because it has been a slow process and one that has been the result of some good and not so good events.  It has been ticking, and finally the pieces are starting to fall in place, slowly, one by one.  It is a process of shedding, not only the material, but of the feelings attached to those material things.  It’s been a time to shed emotions, and of retrospection; a time of discovery, and of realization.  It has also been a time to do just the opposite of what had been expected and go against the current, of letting go.  That has been the spiritual side of it, although the material part has had its own challenges.  

Once you see the material for what it is, it becomes less important, little by little, step by step.  What used to be hard to get rid of, one day becomes easy, the feelings attached are still there, but you realize that the feelings will always be there, and they don’t need the physicality of an object to be brought to memory.  Most of it is crap, from shoppaholic days, or the result of some old empty void being filled at the time.  Once acknowledged, it is free to let go, and so is all the stuff that goes with it.

There are catalysts in our lives that act as switches, to turn us on to achieve our next level as evolving human and spiritual beings.  These catalysts can take the form of persons (even the ones that may hurt you), events, and things.  So however we have arrived to the start of living a simple life – I thank the persons (good and bad), the events, and the things, which have made it possible.  

Once the switch has been flipped, the rest of our life – the simple life – follows.

Flip the Switch