Monday, September 24, 2012

Eying up the Bates Method

Our son says he can't always see words on the board at school, and from my informal checks, he seems indeed to have lost clear vision at a distance.

As some of my family are very nearsighted, and I am the blindest of the lot, this is perhaps not surprising. But I can't help wondering: is this nature, or nurture? Or both?

Is our son doomed inevitably to progress (as I did) from eye test to stronger and stronger glasses or lenses for the rest of his life?

Maybe, but I hope not. Although you will never hear this from your eye doctor, there is some evidence that vision loss is not just mysterious, steady, and incurable.

The Bates method

The Bates method suggests that most vision loss is caused by unnatural tension due to modern vision habits more prone to staring than anything else. Bates's original works can be downloaded, so you can make your own judgements on the full information.

I have always been a bookworm and never eager to get out in the great scary real world. While our son is not as retiring, he has recently discovered the joys and addiction of computer games. So I certainly can't refute Bates' theories and success stories. I'm giving it a try.

The Plan

I downloaded the free Bates material and checked out a book from the library. I've begun the process myself, and then I hope to encourage our son to join me. The exercises are not only painless, they are relaxing. (They encourage eye mobility and exposure to natural light.)

Of course, I've already set some more sensible limits on his computer time, and I'm pushing him out the door to play.

Lens Decluttering

If I do improve my vision, how would I know if I just keep using my usual strong lenses? 

I do have glasses that are weaker than my current prescription (because stronger glasses make me dizzy).

And here is my museum of old contact lens cases. Some of these even have lenses in them.

I cleaned all the old lenses and tossed out one cracked lens. Then I rehomed the old lenses in the best cases and got rid of the rest. I had labelled my 2008 lenses on their case - all the others are blank (and lots older).

Work In Progress

Wearing the 2008 lenses, I can still see everything I need to - even outside, and even driving. But my eyes do get tired after several hours. I've also been spending some time at home without lenses so I can do some of the Bates exercises - then just putting on the glasses for computer work.

Stay tuned!

Has anyone out there tried the Bates Method? How did it go?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Happy Vegan Hunting - 9 Frugal Secondhand Investments

I'm an avid secondhand shopper. Here are some winning vegan goodies that you can always find in the secondhand shops. For similar reasons, these are also items you might score from Freecycle - if you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for?!?!??

See how the jam looks like a cat?
1. Yoghurt makers

Yes, you can make your own soy yoghurt even more easily than dairy yoghurt. Soy yoghurt is so expensive to buy and so easy to make.  Since making your own is faddish for many, there are usually several varied yoghurt makers on the shelf.
I have had consistent success in my secondhand EasiYo by adding about 3 Tbsp of soy starter to 1 box of room-temperature original VitaSoy. Methods, tips, and tricks abound on the internet - search on making soy yoghurt.

2. Quality cookware

People used to cook more, and they needed great quality cookware.

Often, the younger generation doesn't know and doesn't care about those nested stacks of Corningware and cast iron, and off they go to the secondhand shop for you to find.

3. Quality storage

Lots of us frugal vegans buy and cook in bulk, and you need to keep your supplies safe.

I reuse some of the plastic containers I get from food (eg, Anathoth jam containers are BPA-free), but a quick look at the secondhand store will show you loads of great old-fashioned Tupperware at prices your Tupperware lady can't match. (Apologies to my Tupperware lady friends, mwah!)

Click-clack containers also roam wild on the secondhand shelves, as well as older-style glass or terracotta containers.

4. Popsicle moulds

Summer will arrive soon! If you didn't inherit your family's popsicle moulds like I did, it won't take long for you to find a set on the secondhand shelves.

Super cheap popsicle recipes:
  • flavoured nondairy milk (flavour your own with cocoa, vanilla, fruit, or jam)
  • fruit juice or puree (hint: tinned fruit comes in fruit juice or syrup)
  • a banana (dipped in nuts or chocolate)
  • ...or search the internet for cheap vegan popsicles

5. Chocolate moulds

We thrifty are just as gifty as the next person. But vegan gift chocolate has a hefty price tag. People love getting hand crafted chocolate and it's fun for the kids to help make! If the specialty chocolate moulds at the homewares stores are too pricey, look for secondhand flexible novelty ice-cube trays among the piles.

I just scored this cute orange-slice shaped tray - now I can make my own vegan chocolate oranges.   

6. Juicers

Want to try juicing, but don't know where to start? Don't splash out; these babies cycle through the shelves on a regular basis.

7. Pressure cookers

The best way to cook dry beans, pots of potatoes and free soup quickly. Watch your grocery totals shrink as you serve these super budget savers.

8. Sushi mats

This vegan takeaway standby is expensive to buy because it's fiddly to make compared to curry and chips, but you'll be rolling your own in style before long.

Making sushi

9. Gardening gear

Goodbye Garden World and Kings, because secondhand shops are blooming with planting pots of all sizes.

You can also find good garden tools if you keep hunting.

You could be overflowing with vegan goodness in your very own ground or container garden before you know it.

And more!

Of course you don't want to spend money and fill up your life with a lot of extra stuff you don't use. But making or growing your own is a backbone of frugality.

I want to hear about your best secondhand vegan finds...