My new food blog is up and running!

Some of you may have noticed this already as I have linked to it on my sidebar and I think I’ve mentioned it once or twice on here (and eleventy times on my Twitter). But it’s true, my food blog is up and running with a few recipes now and a lot more to come.

I eventually settled on the name The Amateur’s Digest, because, well, I’m not really going to explain the pun here as I think you’ll get it if you think about it long enough. But the amateur part of the title holds true – I am very much an amateur, having taught myself from a mixture of different cookbooks by people much better than I, various websites and most particularly a lot of experimentation. But while I’m far from professional, I do really love cooking and baking and I think there are many people out there who eat poorly because they think they could never learn to cook or bake when it really isn’t that hard. So this blog is for them. But it’s also for people who want a bit more of a challenge, because I will be putting up the occasional harder recipe too. Pretty much I’m putting up anything I think is tasty, really.

Anyway, enough of listening to me rambling. Go check out my food blog here! Let me know your thoughts, and especially let me know if you make any of the recipes! I’m hoping this will be a fun shake up of my blogging routine, but don’t worry – this will still be my main blog as always!

Eat on readers, eat on!

The Conundrum of Multiple Blog Syndrome, or, A Third Blog? Really?

That’s the question I have been asking myself for a couple of weeks now. Am I crazy for wanting to start a third blog when some months I struggle to stay on top of my main blog and my second blog (the lists one) has slowed down to one or two posts a month? Personally I don’t think so, although it probably is true that I am crazy for one reason or another anyway.

I’ve been blogging now for nearly three years, and not only has the blogging world changed a lot in that time but I have changed a lot in that time, as has my blog. This particular one started off as mostly a book blog, also sometimes including music reviews and different writing tips and things (some of my poetry form posts from 2012 are still very popular, much to my own surprise). But lately it’s taken a more personal turn as I’ve come to write about my experiences immigrating to Sweden, as well as just whatever I feel like really. I like the personal feel of my blog, but some of my interests I have been wanting to write about I fear would take over my blog and potentially alienate my readers too.

One interest in particular that I’ve developed this year is cooking and, more recently, baking. Perhaps because I’ve had more time and energy, I’ve made myself learn to cook really nice dinners properly. I’ve been training myself to understand how to adapt different recipes to suit my own tastes, how to make things from scratch and how fresh always tastes a million times better. I’ve started to bake from scratch and now I’m even baking my bread myself. I’m no professional chef, but I kind of like that I’m becoming a self taught cook and I feel like I’m developing my own style of cooking as a result of not being 100% competent in the kitchen just yet.

So, unsurprisingly, I am pondering starting a food blog as my third blog. I am passionate about it, and one thing I have learned is that being passionate about your blog subject is one of the most vital things to a successful blog. My concerns, among many, are things like the fact that does the world really need another foodie blog by somebody who doesn’t really know what they’re doing but is pretty good at pretending he does? But then, if I thought that about a book blog I wouldn’t be a blogger at all now would I?

I think I need to consider more how to make a food blog something unique and typically “me”, as well as making it interesting to others whether they are foodies or not. I also need to think of a good name, which is half the challenge in itself. But if and when I do start this new creative venture, I’ll make sure to post about it on here!

To all my blogging readers, do you keep up multiple blogs? Why did you decide to create other ones? Do you find it challenging to keep all of them updated?

Chocolate Brownie in a mug, in minutes!

Chocolate brownie in a mugThis is one of those recipes where I’m unsure how I lived without it before, to be honest. It’s simple, quick, but most importantly it tastes amazing – these are some of the best brownies I have ever tried, if I do say so myself. It’s great for an easy dessert for one, or for an afternoon snack, an accompaniment to coffee – any excuse will do quite frankly. Here’s how you do it:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of flour

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in the bottom of a mug in the microwave. Mix in water, vanilla sugar (substituting for vanilla essence would work fine too) and salt – if you want it slightly saltier you can add more than a pinch, as I’ve been adding somewhere between half and a full teaspoon and it’s fine. Whisk together well with a fork.
  2. Add in cocoa (2 tablespoons is enough, but I like mine with extra cocoa), whisk well. Add in sugar, whisk well. Lastly, add in flour and whisk until it’s all blended together.
  3. Put mug in microwave. How long you microwave it for will depend on both the power of your microwave and how gooey you want the brownie. I like it a little bit gooey but not too much, so about 75-90 seconds on 600w does it perfect for me. A minute or less on 600w leaves it half gooey still, much more than 90 seconds and it’s fully baked.
  4. Enjoy! Add a bit of cream to the top for extra indulgence.

If you try this recipe please let me know your thoughts! I’d also love to hear if anybody else has any similar recipes!

Larousse Gastronomique – The ultimate cooking encyclopedia

Larousse GastronomiqueAlthough I don’t talk about food as much on my blog as I do on other social media (especially Instagram, I know, I’m one of those people), I do have a fondness for food and a growing curiosity – some may even say skill – for cooking. Recently, I bought a cookbook I have been wanting to buy for a few years now – Larousse Gastronomique.

There are plenty of good cookbooks out there, but Larousse Gastronomique is considered one of the ultimate cookbooks. Many of the most renowned chefs around the world have used this book in some form in their kitchens, and indeed many contribute to this edition as well. At over 1200 pages, and over 3800 recipes, this encyclopedia provides information not only on the recipes, but also on the ingredients themselves, their origins and variations, the history of different cuisines, how to use different cooking utensils (with some new ones added in to this 2009 edition), as well as biographies of famous and influential chefs. It’s no wonder that in the 76 years since its first publication it has continued to be so relevant and so well used, and even in this era of information overload on cooking through the internet, cookbooks and cooking shows on television, this tome still works as a back to basics comprehensive guide to the kitchen.

I thought I’d just show a few pictures from inside the book so you can see how it works – it’s quite different to other cookbooks, but not in a bad way.

Here you can see a lot of things on this two page spread, from how to make Hollandaise sauce on the left, to different types of Honey in the table on the right. On the rest of the page are other pieces of information including a number of recipes.

Here you can see a lot of things on this two page spread, from how to make Hollandaise sauce on the left, to different types of Honey in the table on the right. On the rest of the page are other pieces of information including a number of recipes.

Most of the pages look like this, however - just a lot of writing. Don't let the lack of pictures fool you though, because this book isn't about looking pretty. On these 2 pages, amongst the chef bios and cuisine and method explanations, are 9 full recipes. As I said, this book is back to basics, but I personally like it.

Most of the pages look like this, however – just a lot of writing. Don’t let the lack of pictures fool you though, because this book isn’t about looking pretty. On these 2 pages, amongst the chef bios and cuisine and method explanations, are 9 full recipes. As I said, this book is back to basics, but I personally like it.

There are some very visual pages such as this one, which shows all the different types of aromatic herbs and leaves (it goes on for a few pages). Put simply, this book uses images when it needs to, and only when it needs to.

There are some very visual pages such as this one, which shows all the different types of aromatic herbs and leaves (it goes on for a few pages). Put simply, this book uses images when it needs to, and only when it needs to.

Lastly, the back of the book contains these two amazing recommendations - chances are if you like cooking, you like at least one of these two chefs (or you will if you look into them).

Lastly, the back of the book contains these two amazing recommendations – chances are if you like cooking, you like at least one of these two chefs (or you will if you look into them).

I’m not expecting to become some sort of amazing chef overnight, but I am quite sure this book will help me to better my cooking habits and to learn new and exciting ways to experiment with food. If you love cooking, I think you’ll also love this book.

What makes a good cookbook for you? What are some of your favourite cookbooks and chefs, and what is it you like about them so much?

Life in Sweden (in words), Part 1

I thought I’d mention that this will be a bit of a wordier post in the title as I have promised to do more than just post pictures of my new life. Also, let’s face it, I’m much better with words than I am with a camera (half of those photos last time had a mark on the picture near the top – yep, I’m special). There will be a few pics to break up the writing but not much. Hope you enjoy my story so far…

In plane view of a new life

The trip over here was actually a little more dramatic than I had hoped for. I don’t mean the plane crashed into the sea and I had to swim to shore kind of dramatic, just more incidents of a frustrating variety. The trip was 4 flights in total – from Sydney, Australia to Melbourne, Australia, then on to Dubai, then to London, and lastly to Gothenburg in Sweden where I would then be picked up and driven a couple of hours south to Halmstad, my new home. Each stopover at each airport was approximately 2 hours long, so it felt like it should have been a smooth process and relatively short with a total flying time (including stopovers) of about 32 hours if my memory serves me correct.

Of course, this didn’t go to plan.

Sydney to Melbourne was fine, but Melbourne decided it was feeling pretty hot that day, and so we all melted while it reached the low to mid 40s in temperature (Celsius – in Fahrenheit we’re talking the realms of about 105-115). As my departure time came and went and there was no sign of us getting on the plane, they finally informed us that the plane was too hot to board (I’d later find out it was 38 degrees Celsius inside the plane), and they were trying to cool it down – they would only be half an hour late. I didn’t panic. Half an hour was fine.

2 hours later we boarded the plane, but were told to hurry because they had brought the temperature down to 28 but had to turn off the air conditioning while we boarded so it would rise again. Then once on board, they informed us they had serious problems with the electrics of the plane. Another hour or so went by, and they very nearly cancelled the flight before bringing back power at the last moment (they literally turned it off and on again and it worked…I chuckled to myself about this later, not so much at the time). Then two people decided to leave, even though the pilot assured us we wouldn’t have left unless the plane was 100% safe. There was much booing aimed at the people who left (even though I think they were snuck out before the announcement).

Reunited at last!

Reunited at last!

4 hours late, we finally left. I missed my connection in London to Sweden and I knew it, and the next one was going to be 8 hours later, but the wonderful staff at Heathrow airport helped me reschedule to a Copenhagen flight (as Halmstad is a similar distance from Copenhagen in Denmark – about 2 hours at the most). Eventually, not too much later than I should have been originally, I was reunited with Linnéa, the very person who I have moved over to Sweden for in the first place!

Snow, wonderful snow!

As I landed in Copenhagen I was excited to see snow – I hadn’t seen falling snow with my own eyes for over 16 years. Linnéa laughed at me, telling me that wasn’t real snow, but for an Australian it was amazing all the same (we do have some snow in Australia, in a place cleverly called the Snowy Mountains). By the time we reached Halmstad though, I could see what it really looked like to have decent snow. I slept a good sleep that night, and amazingly was over my jet lag almost instantly upon awaking (which is kind of strange but I could hardly complain). I ventured out into the forest that next day to have a barbeque in the snow with Linnéa and her family, which I showed you guys photos of here in this post, so I won’t mention too much more on that.

The next day was fairly relaxed, although I did learn quite how slippery the ice could be when I fell whilst out walking the dogs – I fell backwards onto my right elbow and smacked my head hard against a rock. I spent the next few hours with an enormous headache, feeling slightly dizzy and disoriented but I knew I was okay. My elbow, however, still hurts over 2 weeks later, which is a lesson in itself for me. I am slowly becoming more confident walking on the snow and the ice, but it’s a skill which Swedish people are born with and which Australians simply do not possess most of the time, I suspect.

It didn’t snow much for that first week I was here, but the second week it snowed every couple of days. The first couple of times it was just a few centimetres, but then last Friday I finally saw what I think I can call proper snow – about 10cm, maybe more, fell in the space of a couple of hours. I sat in my apartment watching the roads slowly turn white again, watching the ground rise higher and higher with the snow. I sort of just sat here stunned as I watched it for a lot of that afternoon, not really doing much else. It made me wonder what it must feel like for those kids who grow up in remote and dry parts of the world when they see rain for the first time at the age of, say, 10.

Yep, that's the river.

Yep, that’s the river. Actually this is the day before the big snow so it was whiter the next day.

Anyway, by the end of this, everything was white. The frozen river had become so white it looked more like an extension of the park next to it. So it was a bit sad when on the weekend it began to rain, and then warm up to 2 or 3 degrees each day for several days in a row. Looking out now it looks like spring – bright blue skies again. Beautiful, but the snow is mostly gone and each night what’s left refreezes and leaves sheets of ice in places I don’t see so I nearly go flying every time I walk at night. But even if this were all the snow we got this winter I’d be happy with what I’d seen!

Getting on with life

The past 2 and a half weeks haven’t just been sitting around watching snow fall, I promise. The obvious thing that has been taking up a lot of my hours is spending time with Linnéa, and she has been amazing in helping me settle in. We’ve spent a lot of time with her family and also meeting her friends – I have never entertained so many people in such a short space of time, but it is nice to be cooking so much again. We’ve also spent a lot of time exploring town, eating out at places I can’t really afford – we even went to the movies last weekend (to watch The Hobbit – I was stunned they were still showing the second movie). It’s just nice to be with Linnéa after spending 2 years doing the long distance relationship thing (and 16000 kms is serious long distance).

Aside from all this leisurely stuff, I have had some issues with more bureaucratic matters. In Sweden everything, and I mean everything, uses your personnummer – basically your personal identity number. Swedes are born with this, of course. For me though, I have to go through a long process to get this key to society. I have obtained a sort of temporary version of this number which gives me access to some, but only a few, things. Now I need to get a job, so that I can get a bank account and process my Right of Residence (thank goodness I am a British citizen as well as Aussie, and therefore an EU citizen, or else this would have been a lot harder), and then once I’ve done all of that they’ll give me a personnummer and I will be a proper resident of Sweden, with access to everything. Of course, without knowing the language getting a job isn’t super easy either, so while I apply for the few jobs I can try my hand at, I now need to learn the language and quickly so as to broaden my work possibilities. I’m not overly worried (yet), and money isn’t too much of an issue (yet), but it would be nice to have a lot of this stuff done and taken care of so I can relax more.

I am second hand renting (where you rent from another renter – it’s a thing in Sweden) from someone who has moved to Stockholm for work for a while, so I have a nice little apartment that’s all furnished and is only a few minutes walk from the centre of town, across the road from the train and bus stations, and close to two different supermarkets. So my living arrangements almost seem too good to be true, which is nice, and the person I’m renting from is friendly and relaxed which is a nice bonus.

This was really quite tasty, although eating the berries with the meat seemed a bit wrong. Photo taken from cannolisblogg.se because I forgot to take a photo of the meal at the time I ate it.

This was really quite tasty, although eating the berries with the meat seemed a bit wrong. Photo taken from cannolisblogg.se because I forgot to take a photo of the meal at the time I ate it.

Lastly, there’s the food. People are asking me if I’ve eaten much Swedish food. I have eaten lots of nice breads and chocolates and so on and so forth, but the only “traditional” Swedish meal I’ve eaten is called wallenbergare, and is a sort of veal patty (like a burger patty I guess) with peas, mashed potato and…berries? There’s a side of lingonberries, a type of berry that is very common across Scandinavia and very sweet and tasty, and the idea is that you eat the berries with the meat, in the same mouthful. I tried it and it was surprisingly nice, but my tastebuds were wondering what on earth was going on. But aside from this, I am yet to try a lot of traditional cuisine from the area. No doubt in the future I’ll devote a whole post to the topic.

Anyway, that’s it for now. This post is more than long enough, but hopefully it gives you some ideas as to what I have actually been doing these past couple of weeks. I will do more of these posts in the future, but I will also start to write posts focusing on specific aspects of life over here, like the culture, the food, the history, and my mishaps with the language as I start to learn it. Feel free to ask any questions or comment as always! 

My 200th Blog Post!

200th Blog PostFor my 200th post, I thought I’d do things a little differently to my 100th (where, by memory, I wrote about the performance of my blog). This time round, I’m going to talk about some of my favourite things, many of which connect to my blog and some of which I have mentioned before.

I would love to hear other people’s answers to these questions in the comment section, so feel free to answer some or all of the following questions.

My Favourite Book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Long time readers of my blog will probably have heard me ranting about how absolutely amazing this book is at least a couple of times, if not more. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me laugh some more, and it inspired me to take up writing again after a several year absence of the hobby in my life. It helped remind me of who I am, and why I am this person. Powerful stuff.

My Favourite Album: Abbey Road by The Beatles

It might seem awfully predictable that my favourite album is one by The Beatles, who are also one of my favourite bands (alongside Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and Crowded House). But there is just something about Abbey Road that takes my breath away – at 44 years old, it still feels as fresh as anything you could hear today, because it is simply timeless in its ingenuity of song writing.

Monty Python and the Holy GrailMy Favourite Film: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

I am a shameless Monty Python fan, and love all of their films, television series, audio albums, books and so on. Many will argue over which of their films was the best, but for me it isn’t up for argument – I have been watching this classic medieval themed movie since I was young, and can almost quote the entire thing. It still makes me laugh even after dozens of views. Too funny.

My Favourite TV Show: Can’t decide (as in I actually can’t decide. There isn’t some show called “Can’t decide”)

So here’s a list of my favourite TV shows (yes they’re all comedies…surprise!): Monty Python’s Flying Circus; Blackadder; A Bit Of Fry And Laurie; Black Books; The Mighty Boosh; The IT Crowd; 30 Rock (see, not all my comedy taste is British, just most of it); The Micallef Program (an old but classic Aussie show); Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law; The Simpsons; Spicks and Specks (an Aussie music quiz show), Danger 5. I do watch some serious television though, mostly documentaries. But I honestly can’t decide a favourite here, it’s too hard.

My Favourite Comedian: Billy Connolly

Those of you who saw the first of my comedian posts a few weeks ago will already know this, but Billy Connolly is by far my favourite comedian, and has been since I was a wee lad. If you want to know more about why, see this post I wrote on him.

My Favourite Food: Chicken Parmigiana

A pub classic across Australia (and presumably other parts of the world too), I find myself often craving a schnitzel covered in tomato, herbs, ham and cheese. It’s so simple, and doesn’t sound half as nice as it looks, smells or tastes, but this is just something I find supremely satisfying.

My Favourite Pub in Australia: Hart’s Pub

Located in The Rocks in Sydney, this great little pub is hidden away but much adored by those who have visited before. They serve a large range of local beers on tap, with part of the menu changing every so often as well, giving those of us such as myself who live about an hour’s drive a way a reason to come back. They also have great food, and a great, cosy atmosphere inside. My kind of pub.

The Dove - The World's Smallest Bar

This tiny room, part of The Dove (the main part is much bigger), is officially the world’s smallest bar.

My Favourite Pub in The World: The Dove, London, England

Those of you who read my posts on my trip to England will remember me mentioning this pub. While I still have many pubs in the world to see, for now this is my favourite I have ever visited. Great atmosphere, great beer and food, and I share great memories from my two visits to this place.

My Favourite Tea: Mountaintop Oolong Tea

While I don’t have a favourite coffee as yet (I just love most coffee), I do have a favourite tea. Mountaintop Oolong Tea is a green tea, taken from cold mountainous climates, and it’s a very smooth tasting tea with none of the bitterness that other green teas can have. I have tried other Oolong teas, include one which was supposed to be superior, but none can beat this one for me. If you’re a tea fan, try and get your hands on this one – you won’t regret it.

My Favourite Way To Relax

Either with a good book and a cup of coffee or tea, or just closing my eyes and chilling out to some music turned up loud. From time to time, I find writing a story can be relaxing for me, in a sort of cathartic way.

What are some of your favourite things from this list? I’d love to hear from you all!

The Gourmet: A tasty little novella

A little while ago I reviewed an amazing book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, in this post. After falling in love with this beautifully written and highly philosophical novel, I decided I needed to read her other book, a novella written several years earlier by the name of The Gourmet, a story about a dying food critic desperately trying to recall a dish in his final hours.

What I didn’t realise until I actually started reading this book is that the food critic is Pierre Arthens, the very same food critic who features in The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The Gourmet is set entirely in the same building, at Rue de Grenelle in Paris, and the narrative alternates between Arthens’ attempts at recalling the great food he has eaten over his life, and the opinions about Arthens of various other inhabitants of the building, all of whom also feature in her later book.

I have come away with conflicted feelings about this one. Pierre Arthens himself is made out to be a pretty horrible person, totally consumed with the world of food to the point of ignoring all those who care about him. The portraits of him painted by the other inhabitants of the building is overall scathing, and it is an odd feeling to read a book where you end up strongly disliking the main character. However, the descriptions of the food are utterly tantalising, and work their way from complex dishes right through to some of the simplest pleasures in cuisine – my mouth was actually watering while reading this book, and I honestly don’t think I have ever come across such perfect evocations of taste in the written word before.

Would I recommend this? Absolutely, although I am glad I read her other book first. But even if you haven’t read that, this is still worthy of a read simply for her incomparably exquisite writing. Muriel Barbery really is a sensational writer, and I can only keep my fingers crossed that we will see more novels by her as time goes on.

Out with the trees and in with the eggs

Ho ho ho, Meeeerry Easter. Wait, what?

In this over commercialised world in which we live, it seems that the second the mad Christmas rush is over, the shops sneak a small (well, relatively small) amount of Easter eggs into their stores. This causes people to fly into rages about how disgraceful such shameless money-making techniques are, before promptly grabbing a Cadbury Creme Egg to eat before it clicks into the New Year and their weight-loss resolutions begin. In fact, anybody who has worked in a supermarket will know that essentially Christmas builds up from September to December, then Easter from January to April, leaving only four months of the year to fill with other promotions – usually something connected to the seasons (here in Australia it’s usually winter – so basically selling ridiculous amounts of soup – genius). There are a number of arguments about why this happens, and who’s fault it is that this happens, so I’m going to look at some of these arguments, before I more than likely blame everybody for it (hey I might not, I haven’t decided yet).

Before I go into the arguments though, I have to explain something. Though I am now a teacher and aspiring writer, up until last May I had worked in retail for six years, in a large local supermarket. Having worked in most departments and a variety of roles there, I think I came to grips with how retail works behind the scenes, and yes, I did come to the conclusion that really it’s just a giant soul sucking monster. But the point is, regardless of how I felt about things that happened in the store, and in retail in general, it was my job and I had to go along with it. I remember this time last year, being the unlucky one who had to put out the first display of Easter eggs, and it was a huge display too. As I was building it, customer after customer walked by, many audibly gasping, complaining or commenting on what was taking place before them, and fortunately I was in the position of knowing most of the customers, and was able to deflect most of their disgust and anger by making smart arsed comments and jokes in return (to be honest, I think that’s how I survived working in retail at all). But the response was undeniable – nobody was impressed.

Despite this, many of the eggs sold, and fast. One particular type of egg sold out in January, and I know for a fact we had a lot of stock for that egg when it first came in. Even those of us working there were a little bit surprised at how fast some of these eggs sold, considering the amount of complaints that poured in about it, and the fact that Christmas had only just ended and most people probably still had extra food (or extra weight) leftover from the festive season. This phenomenon leads to the main argument supplied by the retailers themselves – the reason that they sell Easter chocolate and hot cross buns so early in the year is due to customer demand. Indeed, a lot of the way stores are even laid out is supposedly due to customer demand – the reason chocolate in general occupies so much shelf space in stores is because it is one of the highest selling items in supermarkets.

However, there is a counter-argument to this, and one which extinguishes any sense of genuine concern for the public that supermarkets may try to express. Supermarkets create this demand. They have teams of people who specifically work at finding new ways to influence people’s shopping habits. Many people in Australia will have noticed in recent years that the aisles have been shifted around to a more or less uniform pattern across the supermarket spectrum – chocolate, chips, biscuits, and other junk foods that are more likely to be bought on impulse have been moved to the front of the store, closer to the checkouts, so that while people are waiting for their shopping to be put through the checkout, they give in to some last minute impulse shopping. The Easter eggs issue is precisely the same. People love chocolate – you just need to dangle it in front of them for long enough and they cave in. I don’t mean this to be condescending towards people – I myself give in pretty easily. But retailers know how to tempt shoppers to buy things, with Easter it’s an overabundance of chocolate, with Christmas it’s the whole “beat the rush” mindframe.

On top of all of this, of course, there is the much more real reason that all this happens – money. People don’t buy things for Christmas and Easter to replace things they normally buy – they buy things on top of their normal lists. Quite simply, everything related to these two holidays is extra money for retailers. Ever feel that when you go into a lot of shops these days they seem more and more cluttered, as if every possible space that could be used to try and sell something is being used to try and sell something? It’s because that is exactly what happens. The more they can find “themes” to connect these displays all over their shop, the easier it makes it, the more it drills into the minds of the shoppers that they apparently want or need to buy this product. So smothering shoppers with Christmas and Easter promotions for a total of eight months of the year means extra sales for the majority of the year. Nothing new, but it works.

So, it’s terrible. It’s immoral. Retailers trick us into buying things against our wishes, because it’s how they make money in this day and age, and we all like to act outraged, despite the growing number of people who actually don’t believe in the original meaning behind these holidays. But this really is symbolic of so much of the commercial world, and what really surprises me is that people still act surprised by it all. It’s nothing new – this definitely happened the whole time I was working in the retail world, and each year people acted like it was a sign of the end of the world – I almost expected them to say “this time you’ve gone too far!” If you really are outraged by it, then don’t support it. Don’t buy Easter eggs until April. Resist the temptation. If nobody bought eggs in January, stores would actually stop putting them out so early and find another way to make money instead. If we, as the shopping community, cave in and buy this stuff, then we’re only going to encourage them. So don’t just resist the temptation, but help your friends and family resist it. Group together and turn your backs on it, and it will go away. Or just keep buying it and let the monster grow.

As Captain Planet would say, “the power is yours!”