lemon slice

It occurs to me at this moment that to get places in this world – I mean places that the world, society, Western culture thinks means something, that we put meaning and value on – you have to be, well, a total bitch. 

Excuse my language, I know that the internet is a wide reaching entity. 

I’m watching the social network and I know it’s not a completely non-fictional movie (or it’s definitely a movie, fiction expected) but it’s a really interesting and kinda scary look at society, our expectations, desires and inner workings. What we want and what we will do to get there. 

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pizza night

Having people over for dinner is one of the best experiences ever. Especially when you’re making pizza together, watching the sunset, talking about, well, stuff. Like how we can make the world a better place. Pretty much an ordinary night with my awesome friends.

Pizza, garlic bread, sunsets, Christianity. But Christianity where we try to analyze our behaviours and make them better. Especially seeing as Christmas is coming up!

Mary-Ann Bryant is one of the Christians I wish didn’t actually exist in real life, but I have a feeling they do. (Can you tell I’m watching Easy A at the moment? I think it’s hilarious. I’m a little distracted. Sorry.)

I always think, when Rhi is going on about no George being sexy, that she’s missing out on a whole lot. George Clooney, anyone? That girl needs to watch some ER. Ocean’s Eleven, maybe. Geez.

I love smart people. Or at least, I love watching smart people movies. Like Easy A. And also having smart conversations. Having good conversations with good people, eating good food, sharing life together. It doesn’t get much better.

So invite some people over, make some pizza, some garlic bread. Have someone say grace over the phone for you. Eat cake, drink tea, make smart conversation – or just rent some awesome movies and watch them and stay excellent.

P.S I’ve been doing some baking recently, as you can probably tell. Recipes coming soon, I promise.

it’s my party

Wow! It was my birthday six whole days ago and I still haven’t told you about the amazing food experiences I experienced!

This is terrible. I am a bad food blogger. I haven’t even written since then. At all. It’s been pretty busy.

Well, there’s time enough to rectify. For me, birthdays are a lot about the food, pretty much equally about the people, and not much about the presents (although the presents are very nice. Thanks for the presents.)

So I decided to have my favourite meal for my birthday – brunch. I love brunch. It combines sleeping in/lazing in bed in the morning, and breakfast food. Best. Ever.

Unfortunately, I don’t know a whole lot of brunch places near my house so we decided to go to one I’d been to before, even though it’s in Abbotsford – three bags full.

I have to pause here for the amazingness of the place to sink in.

Wow. So, we drove to Abbotsford to eat brunch – well, I had brunch, in the form of twice-baked french toast with chestnut cream and quinces. So good. My tummy’s rumbling remembering the deliciousness. It wasn’t too soggy or crisp,  it was beautifully creamy and eggy and the chestnut cream was amazing. The quinces weren’t too sweet and there was exactly enough for me to finish it and be full, but not too full.

And I drink coffee in the form of cappucinos. three bags full has some good coffee. They get it from Five Senses and offer a range of blends and signature origins and different kinds of brews… I just drink cappucino. And it’s really really good.

For dinner, then, we changed scene and went to Grill’d. Grill’d, for those of you who don’t recognise the name, is a chain of burger places. Now before you click away, hear me out – they’re not burgers like McDonald’s make burgers. These burgers are amazing.

Being vegetarian must be a bit of a hindrance, you might be wondering, but you’d be wrong! There are three different vegetarian burger options, each with their own toppings and custom name, even. They have lamb, beef, chicken, steak sandwiches, salads and amazing chips. People, we have a winner. Let’s just say that I don’t often enjoy vegie burgers. I love Grill’d.

All right, all right, you must be wondering about the cake. It’s a birthday, right? There must be cake.

Well, there was a slice of New York Cheesecake from Secret Recipe which was lovely and creamy and pretty good as store-bought cheesecakes go, although I have to say that the real cake is on it’s way! Stay tuned for some fun times!

blimey limey shortbread thins

Remember these guys? I had a bunch of logs in the freezer, ready to cut and bake and toss and eat. Yum. It’s really been useful, because… We have camp this week! Camp Sonshine in Melbourne’s east, a holiday day care for primary school aged kids. It’s so much fun for campers and leaders and we take care to provide the best care.

I’m in camp mode. Meal crew, activities, excursions, leaders, campers, averting disasters and dealing with crises. I love this camp.

Our premise is basically to love these kids as much as is humanly possible. More, because we’re opening up to Jesus to love through us. It’s a pretty amazing thing to be a part of.

It’s busy busy busy all day long. It’s great.

This means that posts will probably be sporadic and unpredictable, but that’s not really new, hey. It also means I’ll probably be writing about camp for a while. It’s really all-consuming because it goes for two weeks and it’s basically over twelve hours everyday, on the go.

What I love especially is just those moments where you find you’ve really touched someone or they really appreciate what you’ve done. We do a lot of laughing because the kids are so cute. And so serious! They have so much energy and are so fun and bubbly (kinda like these biscuits) but also fragile – also like these biscuits.

We’ve had them in the office for the leaders to munch on during the day because it is such a long one, and one of the funny moments – it might have been so funny because we were already tired from getting camp ready to go, but they got renamed from lime melting moments to blimey limey shortbread thins (you may have noticed from the title of the post).

They were originally (apparently) lemony shortbread delights but they’re not lemon, they’re lime. And so, that makes much more sense – they’re a really weird lemon! – and they got renamed. Blimey, they are good. Addictive, even. Kinda like leading on Camp Sonshine.

 

 

day five – LBTL

It’s the last day! Whoohoo!

In other good news, I reached my fundraising goal (although if you’re still interested in fundraising, you are most welcome, and the link is here. Otherwise, you can donate to one or two of my friends who are also living below the line this week: Roberta or Miranda. Miranda’s going for two weeks on less than $2 a day AND no furniture. You go girl!)

Plus, Live Below the Line Australia raised over one million dollars in total for anti-poverty initiatives in East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and in our very own country (since when were we the ones who needed help? More on that one later.)

Okay, so I think a recap of my week is in order. Here we go:

What I had to start out with:

750g pumpkin @ $1.98/kg = $1.48

Approx. 1.4kg potatoes = $1 at the fruit and veg market on the discounted table

Approx. 1.2kg tomatoes, approx 1/4 of which was mouldy by the time I got to it = $1, see potatoes

Approx. 1.4 kg of assorted nashis and I think they were royal gala apples = $1, see tomatoes

200 homebrand teabags = $1.99

500g large spiral pasta = $0.59

1 small head garlic = $0.49

1kg homebrand plain flour = $0.95

250g homebrand salted butter = $1.41

Total = $9.91

Day 1

Stewed apples and pears = $0.20

2 cups tea $0.02

Pumpkin and potato soup with flatbread, x2 = $1.70

Total = $1.92

Woke up late-ish, made soup and flatbread to take to work. Worked five hours, then took my soup to a TEAR group meeting, where two other people were also living below the line. We had much discussion on war and poverty, and didn’t really get anywhere with the hard stuff, just that it’s hard and we have to keep thinking about it and working out better ways to live and work for a better world.

Day 2

Stewed apples and pears = $0.20

2 cups tea = $0.02

Pumpkin and potato soup with flatbread = $0.85

Pasta with potato and pumpkin = $0.38

Total = $1.45

Woke up at 5.30 in the am to go to uni. Not recommended when you aren’t eating as much as you usually do, because I felt like crap pretty much the entire day. Not so much hungry as my stomach was getting used to having different things, and less than usual. Drank lots of water, because it helped wash the bile down that kept coming up. Not a great day overall.

Day 3

Stewed apples and pears = $0.20

2 cups tea = $0.02

Pasta with potato and pumpkin = $0.38

Potato and pumpkin soup with flatbread = $.85

Flatbread, munched on during the day = $0.14

Total = $1.59

Went to uni again today. I actually felt much better today, got some fresh air on my walks to and from the train station. My friends kept offering to let me cheat, but I held my ground. Ah, hot chocolate. We meet again soon! Also had some really interesting conversations with my classmates. One of my friends was arguing that we should be grateful for our position in life and be thankful for what God’s given us. I said that it doesn’ t count as God’s gift if we took it from other people. God made us all to be equal and we’re not living that way.

Day 4

Stewed apples and pears = $0.20

2 cups tea = $0.02

Tomato soup with flatbread, x2 = $1.28

Total = $1.50

Worked again today. Noticed much more than Monday my proximity to food. So glad that in two days, I get to drink coffee again. Also noticed I was more crotchety than usual. Either the lack of food/sugar or the constant reminders of my privilege were getting to me. gah! One day to go. Huge uplifting feeling when I saw that I’d reached my fundraising goal. Again, you guys are awesome!

Day 5

Stewed apples and pears = $0.20

2 cups black tea = $0.02

Pasta with pumpkin and potato, x2 = $0.76

Total = $0.98

Woke up at 5.30am again. And again, not a good idea. I almost puked on the train, and I don’t even have that much to puke! I’m really, really glad that as of tomorrow I get to put sugar and milk back in my tea. Sorry, Mum, black tea just doesn’t do it for me. I’m studying now and kinda wanting a snack but you can do this erin, pull through, one more day. It’ll be interesting to see how I go tonight; I have a birthday party! It’ll be fun regardless of the food situation, though.

I have to say, I’m already thinking about next year, how I can go better, fundraise more, change my lifestyle so that it’s not just geared around one time a year where I remember the 1.4 billion people living below the extreme poverty line but that it’s  a part of the direction of my life and my vision.

I want to thank each and every one of you, my readers, for sticking with me through this. I know a lot of you personally; I don’t know all of you but I really appreciate it. A special shout-out to everyone who donated. You guys are incredible!

day four – LBTL

So I know I’ve been banging on about this a lot, but, well, it is kinda my life at the moment. But hey, just so that you don’t think that a) I’m a raging b*tch or b) I’m superhuman, yes, it’s hard. And so I thought I’d answer a few questions that people have been asking me about Living Below the Line.

What do you miss the most?

Coffee. Followed closely by sweets and sweet snacks. It’s just being able to eat whenever I want. I can’t because I have to save it for the next meal.

What’s the hardest thing about it?

You know, I’d originally thought that working around food as I do would be the hardest and it is hard. Especially today when we had cake scraps to pick from, and it’s day four and I really just want to eat cake. And I’m sick (getting over a cold) and that’s been pretty difficult too. Early days for uni, wanting to curl up and go back to sleep. But the hardest thing – harder than no coffee, early mornings, no snacking, no flavour – is that every single time I think to myself  ‘man, I just want a cup of coffee’ or ‘Can I just cheat? just a little?’ there’s this voice in my head that goes ‘Suck it. You know that there are 1.4 billion people who have to do this every day, with even less food because they have to spend their money on other stuff as well.’ The hardest thing is not being able to feel sorry for myself, and then realising how good I have it, how spoiled I really am.

What’s the best thing about it?

Fundraising! All the amazing people who have donated, thank you. All the amazing people who are about to donate, all you have to do is click here! No, kidding. I REACHED MY FUNDRAISING GOAL! YAY! And it’s all for an amazing cause – to help people get out of the cycle of poverty. Education is really good. Be grateful for your education! Utilise your education! Don’t skip class or nap during lectures! It doesn’t take much to make me grateful, sure. Just a week of hunger, longing and beating up on myself.

One day to go!

Tomato Soup

This isn’t a concrete recipe. Just take some tomatoes.

Slice them in half.

Roast them for about half an hour.

Put them in a blender.

Cover them with water. Add a little bit of butter.

Blend.

Eat with yesterday’s flatbread, dreaming of a better world.

day three – part two – LBTL

One of the things that was really difficult for me this week was that in living below the line, I was doing probably as much harm as good. Sure, I’m raising money for ant-poverty initiatives, for education to help people get out of the cycle of poverty, something better than just throwing money at the problem and thinking that’s my bit done. This is a way to help change my outlook on life so that I think about my actions and how in every way I can do better, in every way I can act righteously (more on that later). It’s made me think and it’s made others think. I’ve had some really interesting discussions regarding whether people can buy me food (no) does this mean it’s ok for me to steal (no) does free food, such as from food vans, count (yes) can I use the veggies from my garden (unsure, but we’ll say no just in case) and it all basically revolves around the fact that I’m not just doing this because I have to, it’s a choice to raise awareness for myself and others.

These are all good things that happen because of this initiative. But to live on less than two dollars a day in Australia, I’m supporting organisations I don’t like or want to support. I’m buying unethical produce.

See, to afford enough food to feed myself for this week, I had to buy no-name brands. Flour, butter, pasta. Sure, I got my fresh food from the fruit and veggie market, but only because it was on special – in the discounted section. I was lucky in that way. But what home brands do, the brands like coles smart buy or Woolworths home brand or Black & Gold, they lower their prices, get monopoly over the market, then when it’s all theirs, they’ll jack up their prices so they get more and more money, while conning the producer out of what’s theirs.

And that’s just a part of it. So while I love what Live Below the Line are doing in terms of awareness and projects, it kinda sucks in this sense.

I don’t know what the answer is. We do what we can, and we let God take care of the rest. Although I have to say, what we can do is much more than we give ourselves credit for. We make so many excuses but we could be doing so much more for those less fortunate than ourselves.

I mentioned in my earlier post today about the fact that I have lots of food and everyone, while it’s lovely that they’re taking notice and caring about whether or not I’ll faint, doesn’t really get it. I feel like I’m cheating a little, because I really do have enough food. That said, it’s less than what I’m used to and I have to ask myself, how much of the time do I eat just because I feel like it and how much because I’m actually hungry? I’m not saying that eating is bad – I love food, and I love eating. I often eat too much just because it all tastes so good. But we complain (and by we I mean me) about the lack of this or the fact that we have to have our second-favourite flavour milkshake or whatever, and we’re just covering up the fact that we’re spoilt, western brats.

But we do what we can. And we’re all working on our personal issues and hang-ups. No one is perfect; we just strive to follow Jesus as closely as we can.

Flatbread

Adapted from Julie Goodwin’s LBL recipe

300g plain flour

30g butter

Water

Sift the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Melt 20g of the butter and place in the well, and add water (not too much). Stir, adding more water if needed, until it’s shaggy and mostly stuck in clumps. Knead until it forms a smooth ball.

Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Take a small piece of dough and stretch it out (you can roll in if you want it to end up a little prettier) until it’s fairly thin, and fry in the butter. Repeat with the rest of the dough (you can fry several flatbreads at a time).

Dip in your soup and imagine a better world. It can happen!

day three – LBTL

I dreamt about food last night. I think it was a sort of Masterchef type deal, where you had to make a meal out of what they had there. I don’t remember it much, except the food was delicious.

See, the funny thing is that everyone assumes that you just don’t eat much on Live Below the Line, but there really is enough food for five days. Most of it’s carbohydrates, yes, it’s not all nutritionally the best for you, but there’s plenty. There’s even taste in most of it, from the garlic, the natural sweetness of the fruit, the salted butter. Not much variety, but there isn’t often variety in many people’s food.

The problem here is, that the people who live below the extreme poverty line, those that actually live on $2 a day, day in, day out – they don’t get to spend it all on food. They have to spread it out between food, bills, transport, medicine, every little expenditure throughout the day.

How can we let this happen in our world? How can we make someone choose between feeding her whole family or allowing one child to live, sacrificing meals for medicine? Walking kilometres to get to a source of clean water that won’t make them all sick. Sharing a tap with 200 other people, eating the same food, day in, day out, and very little of it, too.

‘In order for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men to do nothing.’ – Edward Burke

What I am doing is a small, small effort. But it is an effort. And I am continually striving to turn my life to God, and to people – to do better every day.

Please make an effort. Donate here.

And thank you to all who have already donated – it means so much to see that people care.

Pumpkin and Potato Pasta

This is another of my staple meals. As you can see, lots of carbs for energy, but not much protein. I think that spinach would make a good addition, pine nuts, salt and pepper and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Take out some of the potato, perhaps. But it does smell good – all that garlic!

250g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, cubed

500g potato, scrubbed, cubed

30g butter

3 cloves garlic

250g pasta (I used large spirals)

Chop garlic finely. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and fry the garlic, pumpkin and potato until crispy and tender (I think perhaps baking would work better, but this was fine for me).

Heat a large saucepan 2/3 full of water until boiling, and tip the pasta in. Cook approximately 7 minutes.

Add about a cup of starchy pasta water to the pumpkin and potatoes. Drain the pasta and combine the two. Eat immediately, while still hot, with thoughts of starving children on your mind.

day two – LBTL

I had the unpleasant experience this morning on the train of simultaneously feeling like I was about to throw up and also faint. I was trying to choke down my black tea (sorry Mum; I just don’t think I’ll ever enjoy it. Although that could be the fact that it was homebrand) and not gross out my fellow passengers with projected bodily fluids while getting kinda dizzy. Not a fun experience. I realised also, I’d forgotten to put my iPod on, so I was in silence for the entire ride. Not like me, I have to say.

I crawled out of bed this morning to my stewed fruit, reflecting that in Papua New Guinea, many people don’t have stoves, so wouldn’t actually be able to eat what I was eating. Boiling the kettle, which probably took much less time than it would in other areas, where they’d have to use a small fire. Maybe they had electricity, if they were lucky.

On my way from the train station to uni, and all I wanted to do was curl up in bed, then get up sometime in the late morning, make myself a cup of hot chocolate and curl up in bed with a good book and a cookie. Well, no, I couldn’t and that was a good thing. Apart from of course, not being able to afford it this week, I also have the amazing conundrum of a Western late adolescent – being able to go to uni but not wanting to be there.

I am so lucky. Here, I get to go to uni. It’s practically free – I don’t have to pay until I can afford to pay. I can study anything I want to study. I can talk about the Bible and debate ideas and proclaim my faith. I’m not in any danger of persecution. I don’t have to worry about people killing me or my family or friends because of what we believe.

I get to prolong my education, which increases my chances of a job that will provide for me and my family. Not only that, I can study for the sake of studying. I don’t have to worry at this stage about skills promotion or finding a job, because a) I already have one, and it provides for my need;s b) the government gives me money when I am in need; c) there are jobs abounding for people who didn’t go to university and d) I don’t have a family to worry about, people I have to provide for. I just have to look after myself.

To this end, I ask that you give some of your undoubtedly hard-earned money (or if not, some that you get from the government) to this cause. To letting people who are less fortunate than I (there but for what I don’t know, not God’s grace because they have that too – there go I. And there goes Jesus.) have an education that will allow them to get out of a cycle of poverty. To a system that gives life, not one that leads to violence, death and destruction.

Here is where the money goes. Thanks for coming along with me on this journey.