Emilie’s Creative Home Organizer

Title: Emilie’s Creative Home Organizer
Author: Emilie Barnes
Pages: 159
Star Rating: ★★★

Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!

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This is the first book that I have read either by Emilie Barnes or in the Emilie Barnes tradition (i.e. tips for around the house). While some of the recommendations were based upon outdated technologies and systems (the book was written in the 1980s!), many of the tips were still applicable.

Mrs. Barnes offers all manner of wisdom on a variety of topics – organization, cleaning, laundry, storage, time management, gardening, child-rearing, etc. Here are a few of her tips.

Color code all the keys at the home. Buy small colored dots and put a red dot on the key and a red dot on the matching lock, a blue dot on the next key, and so on. It saves time when you’re looking for the right key. [pg. 14]

Neat idea…

Have a container or basket at the bottom and top of the stairs. It helps to eliminate trips up and down the stairs. When someone goes up stairs, they take the stuff in the basket at the bottom of the stairs up, and vice versa. [pg. 22]

For people who celebrate Christmas, Mrs. Barnes suggested keeping the Christmas cards received from friends in a basket. Then, during family devotions, select a few of the cards from the baskey and pray for the families that sent those cards. I thought that was an ingenious way to be in prayer for the brethren – those local and afar.

To make full use of the catsup in a nearly empty bottle, rinse it out with a little warm water and add it to baked beans or any dish requiring a tomato base. [pg. 30]

Yay! I’m not the only one who feels guilty throwing away an almost-empty-but-not-quite ketchup bottle!

Squeeze excess lemons and freeze juice in ice cube trays. Transfer the frozen cubes into baggies and defrost for fresh lemon juice any time! [pg. 51]

How ’bout this one?

To clean piano keys: A music teacher once told me she uses toothpaste on a dampened sponge, rubs the keys well, and polishes with a dry cloth. [pg. 67]

: O This next one is super-smart, but I’ll bet it’s also noisy.

Use small safet pins to pin socks together in laundry. Weight keeps socks (especially little toddler socks) from clinging to other laundry and saves time on matching socks when folding laundry. [pg. 77]

Divide children’s toys into three separate boxes and then rotate the boxes each week to avoid boredom with playthings.” [pg. 97]

If your baby is cutting teeth, take a baby bottle nipple and fill it with water and freeze it. When it is frozen, put it back on the bottle and give it to your baby. This numbs his gums and as the ice melts, the water goes back into the bottle. [pg. 97]

Remove the back pocket on pants to patch hole in knees.” [pg. 123]

When making a tablecloth to be used on an outdoor table, put a triangular pocket across each corner. If the wind is blowing that day, drop a rock in each corner pocket. [pg. 127]

(Unless it’s an outdoor party during a hurricane, in which case, the rock might knock somebody out…)

Don’t throw away old curtain valances. Just cut the valance in half and sew the two pieces together to form tiers of an apron. For a tie, slip ribbon through the valance casing. [pg. 127]

I’m tempted to try that one… just think of how cute and flouncy the apron would be! #adollable

Ferns love a tea party. Dump your left over tea into your fern pots. A used tea bag planted in their soil will also reap beautiful healthy ferns.” [pg. 133]

Use hair spray to get rid of pesty flies, bees, and insects in the house. It stiffens their wings so they can’t fly and down they go. [pg. 138]

: D Love that one! Do you suppose the trick works on roaches?

There were many more tips – the book’s one hundred sixty pages, after all! – most of which were probably more practical than the ones that I mentioned, but hey, what can I say? The ones I mentioned were fun. :)

Conclusion. A fun, helpful resource, but not a necessary one, Emilie’s Household Hints will equip you with a Ph.D. in the tricks of the trade.

Honest Money

Title: Honest Money
Author: Gary North
Pages: 175
Star Rating: ★★★★★

Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!

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“You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” – Leviticus 19:35-36

Our economy is money-driven. All of our activities involve the gaining and spending of money. And yet for something that is so basic to our lives, most of us know very little about what money actually is. So before we ask the question What is honest money? We should first answer the more basic questions What is money?

What is money? Here are a few definitions that I found.

Dictionary.com – “any circulating medium of exchange, including coins, paper money, and demand deposits,” and “any article or substance used as a medium of exchange, measure of wealth, or means of payment.”

TheFreeDictionary.com – “A medium that can be exchanged for goods and services and is used as a measure of their values on the market, including among its forms a commodity such as gold, an officially issued coin or note, or a deposit in a checking account or other readily liquefiable account.”

Wikipedia – “any object or record that is generally accepted as payment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context.”

We see from these definitions that our conception of money is much narrower than the true definition. Money isn’t just coins and paper dollars; really, almost anything could be used as money. However, there are practical guidelines which must be met as well.

Generally speaking, there are five basic characteristics which money must have: divisibility, portability, durability, recognizability, and scarcity. Let’s consider each of these characteristics briefly.

1)      Divisibility. Why is divisibility important? Divisibility makes purchasing items much simpler. Say you live in a culture where cattle is the currency. This may work well when making larger purchases, but when market day comes along, it would be pretty difficult. Can you imagine dragging a cow from booth to booth hacking off cuts of meat in exchange for wheat, overalls, and a deck of cards? The problem with using cattle as a currency isn’t their value – cattle are valuable. But they aren’t easily divisible.

2)      Portability. If you aren’t able to tote your purchasing power along with you to the store, then you will have a more difficult time trying to purchase something. This is not to say it is impossible, but most store workers will want to see your item of exchange before they agree to give you their goods in exchange for it.  This is where the idea of having a paper which represents your valuable originates. You may not be able to drag an acre of land to the cattle show, but you can bring a piece of paper – the deed – that represents that acre of land and use it for barter. You may not want to bring several ounces of gold into a store, but you can bring a piece of paper that shows that you do indeed have these ounces of gold.

3)      Durability. A currency must not only be divisible and portable, but also hardy. Water is divisible, portable, and easy to recognize. And in time of drought, water is very valuable. However, it isn’t very durable. Water evaporates and spills; it can be absorbed into the ground, or consumed by a thirsty man.

4)      Recognizability. In order to trade for goods, you must first find someone who wants what you have to offer. Let’s say that you’ve just discovered a brand new precious metal – yarp. After some research and inquiry you discover that yarp is believed by scientists to be even more precious than gold. So you bring your chunk of yarp to the car dealership and try to buy a mini-van with it. The owner refuses. Why? Your piece of yarp may have the same value as the mini-van; it may be worth two mini-vans, but the seller does not recognize its value and until the seller recognizes its value, it is worthless as a currency.

5)      Scarcity. There are many substances that meet the quality of divisibility and portability but fail on the scarcity test. For example: grass is very portable. Grass is also very divisible (more so than paper dollars). But who wants to exchange freshly baked bread for grass? Anyone can step outside and grab a handful of grass, while baking the bread takes hours of preparation and effort. However, consider the example of an agrarian economy that is undergoing a famine. In this situation, grass may become very valuable as food for livestock. But far from disproving the Scarcity Principle, this example reinforces it. Why? Because now the grass is scarce and once a commodity is scarce it is automatically more valuable.

So we see that while money certainly can include paper dollars, credit cards, gold coins, and checks, it is not limited to these.

How does money come into existence? The last section may have left you thinking, “Well, if anything can be money, then how do we ever establish a system of values?” The answer is that as a culture is formed certain substances come to be valued more than others and these substances are sought after. All other commodities become valued in terms of those substances; “I’ll sell the chair for two units of silver, and the table for four units of silver.” These substances may become valued because of some inherent quality (silver is very pretty) or perceived superiority (silver can break glass so it’s better than glass). Or an outer force – the state – can make these substances more valuable.

While the Bible nowhere gives the state the right to define or create money, the state can influence what is used as money. This is because the state has the right to issue taxes. If the state demands a tax of ten silver coins per person, then everyone will begin to seek silver coins. If the people know that next year the same tax will be required, then they will try to collect their silver coins all year long. Thus, everyone is willing to barter for silver coins, and it becomes established as the currency. Remember, this is not because the state has defined what money is, only directly influenced it.

The Bible never states what should or should not be used as money. But it does offer lots of example of gold, silver, and precious jewels being used. And these substances have been considered valuable throughout the centuries. As Dr. North says,

“Gold has been the most marketable commodity for thousands of years. A seller of gold has not had to stand in the streets desperately begging people to consider buying his gold. If anything, he has needed bodyguards to keep people from stealing his gold.” [Pg. 22]

What is an honest system? An honest system is one which uses honest weights and balances. Do you remember the verse that I placed at the beginning of the article? It said;

“You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” – Leviticus 19:35-36

Now, we might argue over how the exact weight of an ‘ephah’ or a ‘hin’, but the point is that once a standard is established, it must not be adjusted.  There are several ways to devalue a currency and they are all concerned with adjusting the weights and measures.

One direct way to devalue the currency, is to alter the materials being used. This is the same old ‘add-extra-water-to-the-lemonade’ trick. By adding base metals to molten silver, extra coins can be produced. These are circulated as real coins, and the first few owners of the coins are able to use them at their full value. But eventually the fraud will be discovered and the value of the coin will plummet. Whoever is stuck with the coin when the fraud is discovered has been stolen from by the maker of the coin.

Another way to devalue the currency is by playing with the Scarcity Principle. By adding extra money into the economy (inflation) and making the money less scarce, it becomes less valuable. Once again, the first few people to use this extra money will be able to use it at full value, but the later users will suffer from decreased value. However, there is an additional effect of inflation. In the case of the counterfeit coins, the original coins still had the same value; only the fraudulent coins were worth less. With inflation, all money becomes worth less; this includes hard earned savings as well as the new money. So while inflating the money supply may seem less criminal than creating counterfeit coins, it is actually more immoral because it devalues honest money.

Honest Banking. One of the things that I appreciate about Dr. North’s positions is that, while he openly criticizes our modern banking system, he also acknowledges that there is a biblical way to do banking.

“A bank is not an evil institution. It is a marvelous institution in principle. It allows the profitable exchange of information and the profitable exchange of risk. Those who participate all believe that they will be better off with this institution than without.” [pg. 74]

So, what would an honest bank look like? Because thieves enjoy breaking into houses and stealing other men’s goods, many men are uncomfortable with keeping their valuables in their own house. These men would prefer to deposit their valuables in a place which is safe from burglars, but which can also be easily accessed. This is a service that the bank can perform: storing valuables. The bank offers to store a man’s goods for a small fee which will make it worth the bank’s space and the banker’s time. The man is happy (his goods are safe) and the bankers are happy (they get the fee). And the bank is operating honestly.

The second service that a bank can perform is the role of middle-man for loans. This is where most banks fail. The problem isn’t that banks loan money and the problem isn’t that banks accrue interest on those loans. The problem is that they promise to pay money to both the borrower and the lender. Think about it; banks lend approximately ninety percent of the money deposited in their bank. Yet they never tell their depositors that they can’t have money. This is because the bank does not assign particular loans to particular lenders; instead all deposits go into a general pool of money and loans are made out of that pool. No one person’s money is lent, and no one depositor is refused money. Banks are able to do this because most people only demand enough money to make general purchases, and are content just thinking that the rest is safe. But the rest isn’t safe.

This is actually what causes bank runs to happen. A bank’s reputation comes under question, so its patrons rush to remove their funds. But remember, ninety percent of the money has been loaned out. Because of this, the bank is unable to pay all of these demands. The bank fails, and the rest of us think, “Oh, boy, I’m glad my money wasn’t in that awful bank.” But really, the exact same situation could happen at any bank if everyone tried to withdraw their money, because every bank operates on this same principle.

Paper Money. A lot of people come down on the use of paper as money. And pretending that paper has inherent value and is actually money is a bit silly. However, using paper as a representation of true valuables is a very practical concept. And this is what our paper money originally did; it served as a receipt and could be exchanged for its value in gold at a bank. Originally, no one believed that the paper had any value, only what it represented. But gradually, as the Federal Reserve was founded and the gold standard was abandoned, the paper was no longer backed by precious metals. We now accept paper as our money because of faith. Faith in banks, and faith in the state.

Conclusion. This is an extremely sound, simple, and comprehensive introduction to Biblical economics. Obviously I was not able to mention every topic covered in the book, nor was I able to thoroughly explain the topics that I did include. Dr. North’s explanation of fractional reserve banking was fascinating, even though I was not capable of rearticulating it. One thing that I found very helpful about this book (and about the entire Biblical Blueprints Series) is that at the end of each chapter is a summary which sets forth each of the basic principles taught in the chapter. This makes it easier to retain the vital information from each chapter before building another layer of principles. I heartily recommend that you buy it here, or read it for free online here.