I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

24 July 2013

Q&A on Feminism with Me!

Image found on Pinterest

Today I had the honor of being a guest blogger on from two to one. Don't believe me? Hop on over!

I'm also up for answering questions here on my blog about my input over there as well.

17 July 2013

Purchasing ethics

I wanted to write today just a bit about purchasing ethics. I was spurred on last year after finding out what kind of slavery footprint I have to examine my purchasing power a bit more closely.

The problem is, where I live, there are not many second hand shops, so I feel a bit more conscious about this than if I had more second hand and thrift stores at my disposal to simply change over half of our household purchases over to that.

We're now purchasing more organic, fair trade items as far as our food goes, but clothing is problematic due to our financial constraints and my husband and my clothing size. However, I can look out for accessories, books and music; as well as things for our children in second hand stores.

Having grown up on the lower end of middle class, and the higher end of lower class; I've grown to be quite thrifty and frugal with our funds. I'm a DIY-er in some respects, but I don't know how to sew really and haven't yet become friends with my new sewing machine. (I'm hoping this will change!)

I know how to keep meals inexpensive when it comes to a gluten free diet and an allergen free diet; and I know how to do some canning. I'm just waiting for an opportunity to get a single eye stove and a pressure canner and I can lower my purchasing of canned items.

I purchase as locally as possible, and am trying to get over my introversion so I can make it out to the farmer's market that is on every Friday. (Honestly, I do not know what I am afraid of, it's not like the farmers bite... Maybe I'm worried about my language skills? No idea.)

I've begun canning the fruit that grows in our yard (Cherries, Currants, Elderberries), and I'm looking to can other seasonal fruits, since I need a pressure canner to safely can vegetables.

I've been talking with others via twitter and forums as to where I can find more ethical clothing shops since I only know of 4 (at the moment) thrift stores, two of which are charity based.

I'd started helping someone gather information on ethical purchases in Germany and Europe. It's been difficult to find info on stores that cater to fair trade that are not online only or high-end stores. (far out of our price range)

This is somewhat depressing as my husband's employer is in planned bankrupcy and just now coming out of that, and he overheard that the parent company is now going into planned bankrupcy for restructuring reasons, and will be putting in some sort of savings plan to keep this from happening again. Honestly, this puts me in a bit of a panic and assures me that as soon as the kids are regularly back in kindergarten, I need to get myself a job, or two.   I also need to put my knowledge in English to work and probably begin tutoring more than my only student.  I need to market my skills online with my Tzitzit and my blogging, and I need to see about going back into making Judaic cross-stitch and selling bookmarks and challah covers. (Maybe? Is there interest in that still with the advent of e-readers, or are Germans and myself the lone hold-outs?)

I've begun researching where we can afford to (and who caters to our clothing sizes) shop, and I recently found our local Oxfam shops in Darmstadt. I just found out that there are a couple in Frankfurt am Main that have a wider selection, so I plan on making a trip up there as soon as possible. I haven't been in Frankfurt in a couple of years other than driving through due to how stressed I get when I go into the city due to the intense traffic there.

In addition to these options, I found a second hand store in Grießheim, which I blogged about recently here. It doesn't often have clothing or shoes in our sizes, but it did have other things of interest. (I'm planning on returning this week) There is a second hand children's store in Heppenheim, but they do not have much in the larger children's sizes. They were a G-dsend when the kids were much smaller, and I was able to sell some of my name-brand children's clothing articles through them.

We do shop the local children's flea markets, but I'm finding that if you want anything in the larger children's sizes, you need to be there as soon as the doors open. There isn't much of a selection, which is really sad.

I was rather upset in April when  I began researching due to our financial situation. I'm trying to downsize (Not being a minimalist, just trying to fit us in our house!), and I'm trying to source things second hand through Quoka when we have a need. What we can't re-sell through Quoka, we will be donating to Oxfam. We can't afford to try and sell through the Trödelmarkt in Griesheim.

Most of my books are second hand through or free kindle books as of late. Only if I cannot source my book (usually religious - mostly Messianic or Jewish) second hand, will I purchase it new. The real exception to that rule are the newer books out by religious bloggers that I like reading. (Carolyn Custis James or Pam Hogeweide for example, as my list is growing by leaps and bounds!)

The resources I was able to find for ethical purchasing (outside of second hand/charity shops) in Germany are as follows: They have an English portal as well.
Suits for women and men  (Austrian) (Austrian) (Germany, UK, France)  <--- so far the only one we can afford.

Articles about ethical clothing choices:
Green Glamour (German Article) 
Ethische Mode ist in - Das Design muss stimmen (German article)
Öko-soziale Mode und Online-Shops für Fairtrade & Bio Kleidung
The Afterlife of Cheap Clothes Where do your Target bargains go when you get tired of them?
Nachhaltige Mode (German Article)
Who do ya think made your clothes?
How to Buy Ethical Fashion on A Budget

I know, that's like, a poop-ton of links. But, I figure there must be others out there that are also new to Germany and looking for ethical means of shopping!

I'd gone week before last and gotten myself a hat, books and music, accessories at our local Oxfam Shop. I was able to purchase a birthday present and a card with money towards a child's school books, and I thoroughly enjoyed both stores! I highly recommend stopping by if you're ever in the city. The workers in both shops were extremely nice and they didn't mind at all that I browsed every nook and cranny.  I was pumped!
The Oxfam Bookstore in the center of Darmstadt has a wide selection of CDs, Cassettes and LPs as well as books and audio books. I was surprised to find 5 shelves of books in English, and then a shelf of books in other foreign languages.

The selection of religious books and art books was actually surprising! I wasn't able to afford any of the art books on that day, but I saw that there was going to be a huge sidewalk book sale where the books would be sold per centimeter. I made sure to get one of the slips of paper advertizing this sale and take it along to ask my father and mother in law if they wanted to get some "new" books to read since they had to cull their bookshelves when they moved from their house into an apartment.

 The Oxfam shop that is on the Rheinstraße in Darmstadt is a bit on the small size, but they've got it jam-packed with goodies. Clothing, accessories, shoes, books, toys, craft supplies - you name it, they have it. If they don't have it, check the book store on the Schulstraße.

Here's what we netted on our first visit to Oxfam:

English and German Books, Jewelry, sacks, CDs from Oxfam

Our local Oxfam book store had a book sale on their excess books this past Saturday. Usually, I try to not do any purchasing on Saturdays - but this was for charity and we've been unable to give to charity until now. Knowing where this cash is going, I could justify spending 13€ on books to help fund projects that would enable people around the world to pull themselves out of poverty.

We also made a trip down to our two local Takko shops and I was able to find a gift for a friend (I did not take a photo of it because it needed to get out in the mail!) and I was able to find jewelry, shoes AND clothing for myself. (Clothing! for me!!) As well as clothing for my kids. All in all, I think we spent over 100€ at Takko.

Here's most of the haul of what I got for myself. I've since worn several (4?) striped shirt and a wonderful poly asymmetrical shirt that makes me look a teeny bit thinner, and they're currently hanging outside on the line.

I'd take a photo of what we got for the boys, but it's also already been worn and in the wash.

As you can see, Takko has some wonderful accessories and I have a penchant for the hippie/boho type look. I got the pink sandals because - well, they're pink and high heel sandals and all of my shoes except for two pair are still in the USA. (I've lived here how long and have most of my things still at my parent's?)

Most of the shirts I got are thin "muscle" shirts, but I figured I could layer when I leave the house.   The striped shirt in the front under the feathers is just a touch too small, but can be worn as an open layered shirt for now, or packed away for later.

So, anyway, we had the flyer for the Oxfam Bookstore sale last Saturday and my father in law agreed to tag along with me.

It was actually quite comical getting there. I'd taken my phone and used google maps to walk us from underground parking there, and it lost us. Not once, but twice! We had to stop and ask for directions. We were close, but it looked like the navigation system had switched at one point from walking distance to driving.  (I really need to figure out this phone.)

I browsed almost every single box (I had to stop towards the last two) and didn't go inside. I should have, but my father in law had made his selection and was worried about the selection I was making as he watched it get higher and higher and higher.

I had to laugh, as I was looking not only for books for myself, but for the children and my husband, as well as anything I could find for my sibling that is trying to further their German and other language studies.

I'd been asked by my oldest son about art recently, and I've been enjoying posts by Susanne Ramharter on Google+. She posts mainly art, and since I'd not be able to go to university to study art, and we were really in the lower end of middle class growing up; I'd never been able to really appreciate and learn about art until recently.    So, as soon as I saw several books on religious art, renaissance art and classic German art - I had to snap it up. I'm only paying 40c per centimeter? I'll take everything I can carry, thank you!!

I had a hard time convincing my father in law that I really was fine and we could carry it (I could carry it!) and that I was also looking for some interesting fiction and such for myself.

Here's what I ended up with:

As you can see, I netted eleven art books, three books for children, an optical illusion book for my husband (and technically for the kids as well), a cookbook, a history book about Latin America, an audio book by one of the Bronté sisters, a fiction book, a museum guide (from the mid 90s, but it should be ok - I have the internet to help ensure places are where they say in the book and the new prices. I didn't know we had HALF of these museums in the Frankfurt am Main area); and an English-German book which should prove helpful in learning and also in teaching!

In addition to this, I had a wonderful time with my father in law, and we were able to make a stop at Starbucks, and at Wolle Rödel for my sister.

Very Berry infused Tea,
Coffee Frapuccino with two pumps of vanilla and whipped cream
Magnet: Faith, Love, Knitting
Round knitting needles in 3.50mm size

I'm going to be trying to do my best with second hand purchases from here on out, and ethical clothing as well. I don't simply wish to remove my slavery footprint on the world, but help people have work that is ethical towards them and their families, as well as ensuring that we are able to give to charities out of the little bit of our wealth. It may not look like wealth to us, but, in some fashion it is more than many others have.

All this to say, my haul is not about bragging that I got a poop-ton of stuff, but that I am finding not only is it enjoyable to do something like this, one can also be blessed while blessing others; and enjoy time spent with loved ones.

If you've been thinking of, or working at ethical shopping, I would love to hear from you. Please just drop a comment down below or send me an email!

15 July 2013

A wonderful new invention - Pinterest

Bee and Plum Tree. Photo by A.Stahl

OK, I must admit that I've been sucked into the monster. But, it is a wonderful monster! Oh so many wonderful resources I've had trouble tapping into otherwise since I'd not been using that much social media.

You might ask, "What is Pinterest?"

Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for images, "re-pin" images to their own pinboards, or "like" photos.

I have started compiling pin boards for gentle parenting methods and such that people can share and re-share amongst themselves. I'd wanted to share gentle parenting methods and other items with friends who do not currently use Pinterest, so I decided to make this blog post.

These are my gentle parenting boards, should you need anything from them or wish to know more about the parenting methods we employ with our children.

Lest I be called foolish again, I do want to mention that I was parented from a very punitive, fear-based and authoritarian mindset. I did not want that for my children, but did not know anything any better until I had friends who used these methods.

I've since been finding healing. I find myself parenting myself through some of the issues we're facing with my children. Unfortunately, this has been difficult as I have many triggers I have to overcome.

Below are all my gentle parenting pin boards. I do hope that they are helpful to you!

  One last link for today: Gentle Christian Mothers Message Board it is not a pin board, but it is priceless!

If you have any questions about the pin boards, the methods I use or where to learn more - drop me a comment in the box and I will be more than happy to share more information with you. 


Updated 12/10/2013

12 July 2013


 photo IMG_6867_zps5b98105d.jpg
Photo of J. Stahl  by A. Stahl, 2013

As summer comes our way, we're transitioning to the point that we have former kindergarteners going to first grade come end of August, and summer break is almost upon us at kindergarten. A couple Sundays ago, the children had a special service at the local Catholic church, and our children had a song to sing for those who would come. (Only one of the boys got up to sing, but that's ok!)

Our cherry tree and Currant bushes ripened and I'd been busy canning.

Wheat, Barley and Rye harvest times are almost upon us. I'm dreading it so very much due to my Celiac. It does make things difficult, such as going out to enjoy a ride in the country on a bicycle. I have to avoid the fields until the crops have been processed and the straw has been rolled.

 I had a bad reaction to a few packages I signed for, and our neighbors spreading gluten around on their level and the lowest level of our common hallway.  Between itchiness, well, the insides of my hands are just unsightly until they heal.

Mosquitos have begun to come out in full force, so I have to be very careful what times of day I go outside, as apparently I'm quite attractive to them. Normally attractiveness is not something that someone would whine about, but this is particularly an unfortunate experience when you go out picking fruit and come back with many mosquito bites that become welts.

Due to the fact that it is almost summer, or is summer already in most of the Northern Hemisphere, the modesty posts have been coming out in droves. I've been reading a lot and commenting little. Honestly, all the purity culture/rape culture/modesty culture things are quite triggering for me and I'm having a lot of trouble processing all of it. Partly due to my size, partly due to the extreme fundamentalism I was raised in and how that has affected me when it comes to this type of living.

Basically it boils down to:
  • The only way to win is to be male.

But, there have been, in the midst of the crazy, some absolutely wonderful articles explaining my exact issue in better words than I can due to how much I've been impacted by this.

On top of that, there's been some really icky parenting thoughts being spread on twitter and facebook and I've been triggered quite horribly. I've been spiraling as a result of these things, and it didn't help that I've been sick for most of this week either.

It is terrifying to me that anyone would want to teach their children that they are broken or unworthy, or that their needs are not required to be responded to right away. Or worse yet, that they are a convenience or inconvenience to the parent.

Parenting isn't a pissing contest. I don't care what others say, it's just not for that.  Parenting isn't about projecting our insecurities and needs onto our children either. It is about equipping them to handle life. It's about showing the love of G-d and giving them as much grace as has been afforded to us.

The Bible isn't about beating us down and then building us up. G-d is neither bipolar nor is G-d abusive.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God
-John 3, ESV

You see, I was raised with this abusive, bipolar mindset that G-d is out to get you, condemn your sin and then raise you up and show how awesome he is just to save your sorry rear end from hell and allow you to live with him.

Guess what? That is just NOT scriptural. Nope, not one flippin' bit.  It's terrible theology.

I was also raised with the mindset that children are awful little sinners out to get you all the time and that they will rule the roost if you are swayed by their "whims". (aka needs)

Then I had a child and my world turned upside down. I did not believe that any more. I struggled for around 2 years before I found Gentle Christian Mothers.

 I was reading psychology books that were showing me repeatedly that this is just not how children develop whatsoever; and at the same time having this abuse repeated at me over and over about how I had to do something or my children's sins would destroy them. I needed to spank them and not respond to their cries. I knew differently deep down, but almost 30 years of this being beaten into me, and repeated ad nauseam; I was succumbing to the pull.

I had friends giving me tools and a lifeline and I finally reached out. It's been a five year journey to peaceful, grace-filled parenting.

What I did not know, was that in parenting - you drudge up every little skeleton in your life from the way you were parented when things get tough. If someone triggers that bad memory (or if a situation does) you basically have to re-parent yourself through the situation.   The bad thing about being triggered, is that you don't always know when it will happen, how it will make itself known to you, or how you will need to handle it this time.

Being triggered may manifest in becoming extremely tired, emotional outbursts, anxiety, panic attacks or depression. It could cause withdrawal from social situations, stomach upset and on and on. It could do just the opposite as well.

I realized last week that I was suddenly becoming extremely withdrawn. I was giving up activities and staying in more. I was being loads more quiet than usual and extremely introspective.  I've lashed out from time to time; and I've acted like a petulant child.

Today, I stuck up for an infant child of a friend of mine who asked why her child's cries made her hurt so much, and whether she should respond to those cries right away. And I was jumped on immediately and called foolish, led astray and other things for standing by Scripture and modern science that say to respond to the cries of our children and to love and cherish them.

I cited papers and was gracious and respectful and called a fool and that I was letting my children rule the roost.

People, this is why I choose to remain where I am, and exactly why I haven't found a like-minded fellowship for seven years.  I refuse to be a part of the abuse cycle any more.

There is a better way. I'll chose G-d and grace, every single day.

I'll stick up for the weak and young. There is just no way you will ever expect me not to. Where there was none to speak for me, I will be one to speak for others.