Muslim-Owned Restaurant Offers The True Spirit of Christmas.

This is another example of compassion and kindness and reading it brought tears to my eyes: a Muslim-owned restaurant is offering a free meal on Christmas day to anyone who is homeless or elderly, stating that ‘no-one eats alone on Christmas Day!’

Kindness Blog

A Muslim-owned restaurant in London is offering a three-course meal to homeless and elderly people on Christmas Day so that “no one eats alone”.

Shish Restaurant, in Sidcup, is asking local residents to spread the word of its offer and has put up posters saying “We are here to sit with you” on 25 December.

The restaurant urged people to share its plan through social media – where the initiative was widely praised.

Vicky Lanfear wrote on Facebook:

“This is the most selfless gesture I have ever seen and they should be recognised as a pillar of the community.”

Suzannah Harris added:

“What a lovely gesture; a restaurant that gives something back instead of merely seeing Xmas as a time to cash in. Will definitely visit in the new year if ever in the area.”

Linda Leach wrote:

“There is still kindness in this world. Amazing people.”

The FREE three-course…

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The Gift of Kindness At Christmas

IMG_1098At Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up in the seasonal excitement of buying and exchanging often expensive gifts we can’t afford and they don’t really need. We look forward to seeing the faces of our loved ones light up when they open our presents, the all-round smiles say it all. But sometimes it can be just a temporary happiness: the item breaks down, doesn’t fit, goes out of fashion or needs updating, it wasn’t the right model, they already have two… And then the credit card bill often provides one heck of a shock in January.

Many of us are feeling the pinch this year and Christmas can be a worrying time financially. But there are other ways of giving that bring joy and make a positive difference to the lives of the recipients which won’t almost bankrupt us when the festive season is over. There are savings we can make that could also allow us to help others in a small but significant way. (See later in the post for ways of helping others this Christmas).

Do we really need such a big tree, so much alcohol? How much do we overeat and drink only to bemoan the extra pounds on our bodies and the lack of pounds in our pockets? How much rich food gets thrown away?

IMG_1084 How many of us buy and post cards and then also wish our friends and relatives ‘Seasons Greetings’ in person or by text or social media as well?! Stamps are expensive but most people have email or can receive texts, we can send our greetings for free with news and photos of the family, for example. There are some lovely animated ecards available, see my suggestions later

Here are some ideas for spreading some Christmas cheer that will hopefully last throughout the year, some can be given as Christmas gifts to those who already have all they need and introduce children to the real message of Christmas: the gift of kindness, compassion and consideration. (For US readers, Tamara at The Purple Almond blog has written a Post listing non-profit companies who sell beautiful gifts and give back to good causes).

CARDS

  • Apart from elderly friends and relatives, we are sending seasonal greetings by email and using the money saved on cards and postage to buy food for our local food bank.
  • If you would like to send a more personalised greeting, for £9 a year to http://www.jacquielawson.com you can send as many beautiful animated cards as you like throughout the year.
  • The cards we do send will as always be either homemade from recycled items or bought direct from charities so that they receive all the profits. Even if you buy charity cards from stores, they take their cut too so the charities only receive a percentage of the price of the cards.
  • Years ago, we realised that colleagues who worked within inches of each other would wish each other a Merry Christmas *and* give everyone an individual card as well. This seemed crazy and we initiated a Christmas whip-round in lieu of cards that would be donated to a local charity which everyone voted on each year, Air Ambulance and the local hospice being favourites.

 

 

  • This year I have been painting and découpaging rocks to leave on my neighbours’ doorsteps in lieu of cards – link here to see how.
  • If you have access to foliage, you can make your own Christmas displays –much cheaper and more satisfying than buying them.

 

 

There are many people for whom compassion and kindness would be the best gift of all this Christmas. Often, all that is required is a little thought and some of our time. Perhaps you remember when you were in need but are now able to ‘pass it forward?’

SUPPORT THE ELDERLY & VULNERABLE

  • An elderly relative or neighbour, or someone who has recently lost a loved one may appreciate a phone call or visit. Christmas can be particularly difficult for people who are isolated through immobility or having no family nearby or being recently bereaved.
  • Perhaps invite an isolated neighbour for Christmas lunch or tea. Check that they have everything they need to see them through the holidays, do they need any shopping or cards posting? If the weather is icy or there has been snow, offer to clear their path.
  • Help make a refugee family feel welcome and help them settle into the community.

VOLUNTEER

In the UK, there are 2 organisations that provide advice and friendship for elderly people who could use volunteers and/or donations:

  • Volunteers are also needed at food banks and shelters for homeless people.

DONATE

  • A donation will provide a hot Christmas dinner for a homeless person at

http://www.crisis.org.uk

It costs £26.08 and they can also have a shower, haircut, health checks, clothes and advice that can potentially set them back on their feet. Even my mum asked me to reserve a dinner on her behalf this year when I told her what I had done.

  • A microloan of as little as £15 to

https://www.lendwithcare.org/

helps individuals or groups in developing countries set up their own businesses. I was given this as a gift one Christmas and each time the loan is paid off, I roll it over so someone else can benefit.

GIFTS

  • Oxfam and Good Gifts have catalogues and web sites with life-changing gifts which benefit individuals and small businesses at home and overseas, some at stocking filler prices:

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/Unwrapped

https://www.goodgifts.org

HOMEMADE & HANDMADE 

  • Homemade gifts, especially from children, are always appreciated. Children learn about giving and not just receiving. For several years when our grandchildren were young, they would give us something of their own, many of which we still have, although one of my husband’s prize gifts from our eldest grand-daughter – a plastic microphone with a loud echo – is permanently hidden away!!
  • Older children and adults can make gifts of homemade food: I used to make pickles, shortbread, petits fours, my husband made wine and beer. These days, nut butter, chocolate avocado mousse and raw chocolate truffles may be more likely.
  • My daughter knits mittens and fingerless gloves, beanie hats, socks and sleeveless jumpers.
  • My son has made kitchen chopping boards from offcuts and fallen trees, as well as belts, wallets and even clocks from discarded bicycle tyres and firehoses.
  • Last Christmas, we all made food that contributed to an extended family dinner, which occurs only once a year and was all the more special for that.

*

How many of us watch the Christmas adverts, look at all the presents we’ve bought and all the money spent on food and complain about the over-commercialisation of Christmas? How many vow that next year we will do it differently?

Make next year, this year.

I wish you all peace, love, health and happiness.

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Updated 4/12/17

Copyright: Chris McGowan

What Colour’s Your Wee?! Water: Part 1 – Are You Hydrated?

(Spoiler alert: We are talking water, wee and whoopsies!)

Whenever my 85 year old mum comes to visit, I am struck by… Oops, sorry, Mum… I’d better quickly explain that no, I am not going to be discussing the colour of my mum’s wee!!

Let’s start again:

Whenever my 85 year old mum comes to visit, I am struck by her antipathy towards drinking plain, unadulterated water. The only water that passes her lips is a sip to wash down her medication. She only ever drinks coffee throughout the day and a glass of wine with dinner. Very rarely, in hot weather, she drinks a glass of orange squash.  I can’t persuade her even to finish the glass of water when she has her tablets. Yet, a lot of the time she is tired, confused and has difficulty walking due to problems with her leg muscles. These are just three of the typical symptoms of dehydration.

Dehydration in the elderly is of particular concern as symptoms can be mistaken for those of dementia, and they are often given yet more drugs to help counter its effects and slow its progression.

But it is not only the elderly who risk becoming dehydrated. As we (hopefully) approach Summer, we all could do with assessing our intake of such a vital substance as we become more active, expelling more breath and perspiring more in the (slight intake of breath) warmer temperatures. (One can but hope!)

Water makes up about 60% of our bodies and is essential in lubricating our joints, spinal discs and chord, transporting nutrients, and expelling waste products and toxins; it regulates our temperature and keeps the tissues in our ears, nose and throat moist. Water helps keep your blood thin and your Blood Pressure down and flushes away unwanted fats. We need to keep hydrated to keep healthy.

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How do we know when we are dehydrated?

There are lots of signs that you are not taking in enough fluid:

  1. Constipation
  2.  Brain fog, feeling unfocused
  3. Confusion
  4. Headache
  5. Dizziness
  6. Muscle fatigue
  7. General fatigue
  8. Dry mouth
  9. Drowsiness
  10. Dark or strong-smelling urine: if you are well-hydrated, it should be straw-coloured.
  11. Stiff joints, disc problems
  12. In children, they are less active than usual
  13. Drinking too much coffee and/or alcohol  – they are diuretics

Many experts think that if you wait until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. They advise drinking small amounts of water throughout the day.

Drinking large amounts of water infrequently can put your body under stress.

Carrying a water bottle helps. Preferably not plastic.

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(See Jerry Stainless Steel Bottles, a non-profit company supporting clean water projects in India and Africa).

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Image courtesy of Jerry Bottles

(Colour may be affected by medication or Vitamin supplements – 1 person I know had a shock after taking a Vitamin B supplement!)

How Much Water is Enough?

The European Food Authority recommends 2.5 litres of total fluid per day for men and 2.0 litres for women, whilst the US Institute of Medicine recommends 3 litres (13 Cups) for men and 2.2 litres (9 Cups) for women. These amounts can vary according to health, weight, intensity of activity and where you live, temperature and so on.

70-80% should come from fluids and 20-30% from foods.

Children need 6-8 glasses of fluid over and above what they access from food, with younger children needing smaller drinks of 150ml size.

A general guide is to take your weight in pounds, divide by 2 and that is your amount of fluid required in fluid ounces.

Getting children to drink water can be really hard. Adding a slice of fruit or a strawberry may help. Starting them off as babies is perhaps the best policy and if they see you drinking water regularly, they will soon adopt the habit. Schools could do more to ensure children have the opportunity to drink throughout the school day, they would see results in the classroom in terms of concentration and energy. Parents can also ensure they take sugar-free drinks in their lunchboxes as well as hydrating foods.

All of us can benefit from eating more hydrating foods. Cucumber is well-known for its hydrating properties  (I juice it every day), but also celery, carrot, tomatoes, beets, fruits and salads. Most whole fruits and vegetables are made up of 80-90% water and go a long way to helping us keep up our fluid intake as well as giving us all their essential nutrients.

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Your skin will benefit from all the extra fluid, vitamins, minerals and healthy oils while your eyes will be sparkly bright! Your brain will function better, you’ll feel more alert and focused. You may also get relief from some of the aches and pains in your joints and muscles.

Having trouble with your weight? Keeping up your fluid intake helps keep your weight in check: your body often interprets extreme thirst as hunger and so you eat more. If you ignore normal signs of dehydration, your body thinks, well if she’s not going to give me any actual fluid, I’ll have to get it the hard way – through food. And so you eat, and snack, until it gets what it needs.

If you don’t drink enough, you become constipated and your body reabsorbs fluid (and thereby toxins) from your stools. Now there’s a pleasant image!

I find cold water difficult to drink, so I prefer it out of the kettle. Hot water with a slice of wax-free lemon first thing in the morning is a great start to the day, it rehydrates, wakes up the liver and kick-starts the metabolism.

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I also drink a variety of teas: green tea with jasmine; licorice and cinnamon; lemon and ginger; chamomile and some fruit teas.

There are lots of interesting and flavoursome ways to increase your fluid intake and nurture your body.

We in the developed world are fortunate that hydration for optimum health is pretty much our main concern when it comes to water intake – give or take the odd chemical spill. There are millions of others who struggle to get enough clean water just to survive. We literally have it on tap, so let’s use it to keep ourselves and our families hydrated and healthy.

By the way, what colour is your wee?

(Watch out for the beetroot!)

This is Part 1 of 2 posts on water. Part 2 is about 3 socially responsible businesses who donate all their profits to clean water projects in developing countries. Please read and see if you can support their efforts.

Water: Part 2 – They Can’t Get Enough

N.B. If you are at all concerned about dark-coloured urine or any of the other symptoms listed, please see you doctor.

Copyright: Chris McGowan