Friday, May 27, 2011

It's a humid day.. but comfortable.  This morning I checked my beans and peas.. they are UP!  About an inch up out of the ground!  My perseverence paid off.  Yesterday I lightly watered them, and last night we had a dribble of rain.. today I watered them once again.  They look beautiful.  
No sign of cucumbers yet.. I put 2 pans in the chicken run and dumped in some soil.. and some yellow squash and one with acorn squash.  I had the leaf lettuce seed and radish seed in my pocket, so I spread some of them over the bed in front of the deck.  I took a handful of potting soil and dropped it in a concrete block.. watered it, and dropped in some dill seed.  Mmmmmm.. I can almost taste those pickles already.
Wendell is at the doctor today- endocrinologist PA.  He likes her and she treats him very well.  His records were already at her new office when he made his appointment.  He's back in the donut hole with insurance again, and we got hit with a $420 bill for one month of insulin.. that doesn't cover his other meds which are nearly as expensive.   the PA will get him started on a program again where he can get his insulin free from the drug company.   Pharmaceuticals aren't all bad.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It may sound like whining to YOU, but to me it is a reminder of the frailty of mankind.. when I have aches and pains, I remember how great Heaven will be with no aches, pains, no sadness, no misery!  James was right- "consider it pure joy" and rejoice!

Got my blood work done this morning.  Am praying my A1c is within normal limits.  It should be- I have been good..  I've lost 17# and that means I haven't been cheating ..........much.  

Today I was ill- nausea high on my list of complaints..and then the back pain yet.. still..   I got a call from my doctor's office to tell me I could pick up my script for pain meds .. and he increased the dosage, so hopefully this will help.  I think it has, though I'm still sore after planting 7 pepper plants and 20 shallots.  I covered one of my kiddie pools with black landscapers cloth and cut holes in it to accomodate the peppers I grew from seed.  I'm proud of my accomplishments there.  I also planted 2 more tomato plants in addition to the cherry tomato on the deck in the topsy turvy planter.  One is beefsteak tomato and the other is Amish paste tomato.  I just pray they grow.. all were again , started with seed here at our house. 
Earlier today I put my nasturtiums in a hanging basket and then put a screw hook into one of the rafters and hung it up.  Nice!  I have another basket to hang, but it's going down to the chicken run- it has sweetpeas cascading over the edges- all plants grown from my own seed here. 
So, I'm done for today.. it's been about as much as I can do to get these plants in before Memorial Day.
Supper is on.. tonite's fare is sweet sausage sandwiches with red and orange peppers and sweet onions.. yummy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

whining- sorry

I suppose this will be my last attempt at any kind of garden.  So sore I shake with the pain in my back.  It is agony by times.  2 hours sleep last night, I made it till a little after noon and dropped onto the bed and slept the day away.
One of the problems is that I believe the chipmunks are digging up my peas and beans.  So today I covered them for the 3rd time and then sprinkled baby powder on the rows.. hoping Jerry Baker knows what he's talking about.  Actually, he says to put it on the seed/bulb before planting them.. but this is the best I can do without replanting the whole thing yet again.  UGH.
The Topsy Turvy tomato plant is up on the deck.  Thanks to John who came over last night at the exact moment I needed help to put the screw in the roof of the deck.  I had to water it tonite.  I can't tell you how hard that was- I had to climb a ladder to get up to it's level, then stretch out with half gallon jugs of Miracle Gro water.. it strains my back.  But it's done.  Maybe by the time summer is over my muscles will be fit.  That, or I'll be in a wheelchair.
Longing for a cookout.  This is Memorial Day weekend.. feeling sad.

Monday, May 23, 2011

So very tired tonite.  I got up this morning and put a pork roast on for supper tonite.  It smelled sooooooo good all day as it baked away in the oven.  It was delicious tonite too for our supper with a small scoop of mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and peas..

Something keeps digging up my peas and beans in the chicken run.  It's so frustrating.  The peas are germinating and putting out little roots laying atop the soil!  I cant' believe this is twice I've found them laying out.  AACCCKKK!!!!  The trap is set.

The old chicken hutch is pretty much ripped apart and the lumber leaning between the sheds.  YAY!  Paul left the platform for me to set pots on.. good thinking.
Tonite we put up a topsy turvy with a cherry tomato plant.  We used the new Miracle Gro potting soil that expands when you add water.  We put it in to the half way point and after I added the water, it GREW!  The soil is now nearly at the top of the planter and the sides got very firm.. and heavy!  I was thankful that I didn't add the water before hanging it or I wouldn't have been able to lift it up to the hook.  YIKE!
The deck is covered with plants in various stages of development- the tomatoes and peppers look fantastic..
Will likely go to the North Union Cemetery tomorrow and plant some impatiens there.  It's time.  I'll need to visit Plum Creek too.

Heading for devotions..

Sunday, May 22, 2011

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the front porch.. can't wait for those impatiens to get going.
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Front yard .. rhubarb on the left has gone to seed.. beyond it will be garden #2 with potatoes, peppers, and onions.. perhaps some shallots.
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this is the actual chicken run. Fencing will have to be reinforced for plants that climb. I have peas and beans on the left fence, and a few feet of lima beans on the right side. Cukes and squash will go on the end beyond the stump. Hanging baskets and flowers on the stump too. Tomato hanging basket in here, + other things that don't climb.. like peppers.
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chives.. they are spilling over into the oregano
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Onions , lettuce, radishes
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Hyacinths are growing on the left. They have already bloomed. The stargazer lilies are on the right- there are 6 of them. 2 tall , 2 shorter, 2 just getting started and about 3" tall.
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Not a great shot with the garbage can sitting right there in front, but it's a good idea of the hanging baskets we have up so far, and the plants all over the back deck. The flower box in front has onions, lettuce, and radishes planted there.
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the back yard. Kids are helping me get the Chicken Run going. There is a hutch on the left that we are going to tear apart.. the pools will hold herbs / veggies/ flowers. the concrete blocks are now planted with garlic in each hole, and the very corner has Mexican sunflowers planted in it. No space wasted hopefully.
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Nasturtiums are such cute flowers and so easy to grow. These little honeys are going to be put in the Chicken Run in a hanging basket.
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I added some new peonies- via 2 roots and then found one growing in a pot out front, so it went in the peony garden too. I now have a total of 8 plants. I have mostly pink, but I planted the roots for red ones also.
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I have started my own plants with heirloom seed this year. They are all quite healthy and just waiting to be planted in the garden.
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I really love impatiens. I bought 2 flats of them - that's about 48 individual plants. I put them in hanging baskets, and in my flower boxes out on the front porch.
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I transpotted this spider plant from a 4" pot to this huge one yesterday. There didn't seem to be much of any soil in the 4" pot. The root ball was just that- a ball of roots. I must say, it looks happier today.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Love suffers long and is kind;

love does not envy;

love does not parade itself,

is not puffed up;

does not behave rudely,

does not seek its own,

is not provoked,

thinks no evil;

does not rejoice in iniquity,

but rejoices in the truth;

bears all things,

believes all things,

hopes all things,

endures all things.

Love never fails...

1 Corinthians 13

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's a rainy Sabbath day.  Not sure whether the body or the spirit will win out today.  I feel soggy from the inside out.  Ugh.
Yesterday I finally got the hanging baskets up.. all 3 of them.  I think the deck needs 4, but we shall see.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I finally bought 3 small hanging baskets for the back deck.  I've planted Impatiens in each of them, but have to get 2 more hooks to be able to hang them all.  I'll take photos later to share.  Once those impatiens take off, they will be dramatic.

It's a muggy day.. 77* and I can hear the thunder rumbling, though it hasn't rained yet today.  That's all right, last evening we got 2" easy.  It was so beautiful to sit on the back porch and enjoy the rain coming down in the dark..(aside from the dusk to dawn light)

Later.. we had a beautiful rainstorm this evening.. delightful!  I got one hanging basket up.. am going to have to get some hooks for the other 2.  Not a big expense unless you count the gas to go to the store to purchase them ! 
It's muggy right now and I've turned on the AC to try to get us down below 84* inside.. it's quite nice outside- cool , but still muggy.  I suppose it could be worse- snow , ice, etc.. so I'm not complaining.. just stating the facts.
I think the chicken run vertical garden is gonna be really nice!  I can hardly wait to get started.  Once the fence is done and secured, the next thing is the landscape cover.. then the seeds can go in.  I have lots of beans to plant and I think they will do well.  All our seeds are heirloom this year so we can dry them later and collect them to plant next year.  YAY!  I always wanted to try them, and as I understand, they are actually better for you than the genetically engineered hybrids. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My dried strawberries were kind of a disappointment.  1/2c dried with all the time, effort and money put into that batch to lose half of them just was kind of a downer.  However, that is not discouraging enough to not try other fruits or foods dried.
The carrots I used to dry were baby carrots I had bought at the grocery store in a large bag.  I just didn't know if they would dry before rotting or not.. but they came out perfect!  I'll use them in soup this winter.  Hopefully I have them dried enough- they seem to be like little wooden sticks, so that should do it.
Now I need some shelves on which to place my beautiful canned and dried goods.  I think I 'll check Walmart for more of those black bookshelves- they seem to have the right depth.
Yesterday I got jars/rings/lids and some pots and pans from the Zombeck's basement.  I spent the entire day washing every piece individually.. I found boxes of Ball seals which I carefully unloaded from their boxes and sanitized, rinsed, dried, and put in a new box.  It feels good to have accomplished so very much.
Now to find places for all the jars- oh, boy....
There are so many little jelly jars, I think I'll have to make 'real' jelly to use some of them.  So family, name your favorite jam or jelly and I'll try to fill a few jars for you.  :)
I think I shall waste the rest of the day in mindless activity- I seem to be struggling to concentrate today.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy 5th Commandment day..

It's been a quiet and peaceful Sabbath.  Mother's day as well as a day of worship and rest.  My kind of day. 
Thanks to all my children for the beautiful things with which they gifted me.. all different and all wonderful.  Thanks to the Zombeck's for the Diana ring.. it's sooooo beautiful.. and to the Vulhops for the beautiful shirts- I needed some new ones, and these look like they will be nice and cool for summer!   and the Blair's .. thank you for the priceless canning jars.. a well thought out gift that I appreciate so very much since I've been trying to can as much as possible.  I think soup will go in these jars. .  yummy homemade soup!

Last night Wendell spotted the first ruby throated hummingbird.. so I quickly set up the feeder and hung it on the back deck.  Tonight the little rascal returned and fed himself for quite a while.  Beautiful creatures!

I've been drying foods as well as canning them.  I have dried orange zest (remains to be seen how this works in recipes), apples, mushrooms (I got a quart dried!), onions, carrots, and strawberries.  Unfortunately, the strawberries must have been too thick or maybe just too old, but I lost most of the tray to mold.. :(  That was the only loss I've had so far, so it's not that bad.  I dried about a cup of chives and have a nearly full 12 oz jar of dried oregano from the front yard patch.  Can't wait to expand this herb drying.. it's really been a hoot.
I never had time to do these things before.  I just feel a need to try things that I've never done.. and so far, so good.  It's not for everyone, you know, but for those of us who find joy and a sense of accomplishment, it's the bomb!

The best news of the day was when I hopped on the scales this morning and noted 16# of weight loss!!!! YAY for me!!!  Slow is better.  So far the pounds have come off very slowly and I haven't gained any back.  It hasn't been hard either.  I just stay on the good foods diet for my diabetes, and it just *happens*. 

Friday, May 06, 2011

Strawberries, apple slices, mushroom slices and orange zest are the items drying in my kitchen at the moment.  It's such fun to make these things dry out enough to eat or reconstitute later.  !!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The clump of chives and oregano I dug up earlier this week is now safely planted in my flower garden.  Yippee!!  I decided to plant more herbs in pots- so that is also done.  All the flowers I have are on the rail of the deck soaking up the sun after last night's low temperatures.
5 jars of butter, 2 jars mozzerella cheese, and one jar cojack cheese are now canned.  I'm really excited to be able to do this.  The butter requires hours of work in that until it solidifies, one has to shake the jars every 5 minutes to keep the solids in the liquid.  It works!
Oregano is in the oven drying- I clipped a ton of it yesterday.  Funny that when it drys, it gets so small.. :)
Canned butter- has to be shaken every 5 minutes until it solidifies..
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Cojack cheese, canned butter behind , canned beef, canned onions, on far right- canned mozerella cheese
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Interesting firestarters


Here's what you need

• Some form of wax. This can be paraffin bought from your local canning supply. But I'll bet you've got a bag of old candle ends around somewhere. Those will do just as well. So will those broken crayons your children no longer use. Or wax seals you've removed from old canned foods. Or beeswax.
• Some type of combustible material in small bits: sawdust, dryer lint, evergreen needles, wood chips, crumbly stove pellets, cotton balls, thick shredded paper or cardboard, cut up bits of old cotton rags — even the soft undercoat you've brushed out of your dog's fur. Don't use anything that might be toxic (like sawdust from treated lumber, for instance); otherwise, if it's small and it will burn, it's probably good.
• A large pot (a water-bath canner with a rack in the bottom does nicely, but a stewpot will do)
• A quart-sized jar
• Something you can use for a mold: egg cartons, muffin pans, aluminum pie dishes, miniature paper cupcake cups, shot glasses, or votive-candle cups (if you have a bunch of them), or anything else that can hold the materials. Cut-down sections of toilet-paper rolls could work. Ice cube trays are a possibility; just make sure yours won't melt!
• A cookie sheet or some other material to protect your kitchen counter from spilled or leaking wax.

One important thing to remember: Although this project is easy and safe if you use reasonable precautions, you are working with flammable (and hot) materials. So melt your wax at medium to low temperatures (never use high heat). Keep an eye on it as it melts; don't walk away and forget it. Handle hot materials with oven mitts. Work carefully to avoid spills. And keep small children and animals away from the stove and the rest of your work area.
1. Assemble your materials.
2. Place just two to three inches of water in your pan — no more.
3. Fill a jar about halfway with wax and place the open jar into the water. Note: If the jar tries to float when you put it in the pan, either add more wax to the jar or lower the water level in the pan. Otherwise, you could end up with wax in your water and water in your wax.
4. Heat the water on medium just to simmering. As soon as you see rising bubbles in the water, turn the heat to low and watch as your wax finishes turning liquid.
5. While the water is heating, place your combustible materials loosely into the mold or molds. Place the molds on the cookie sheet or other protective surface.
6. Once the wax has completely melted, lift the jar carefully from the pan (wearing oven mitts on both hands) and pour just enough wax into the molds for your combustibles to absorb. Don't worry about completely covering the materials; it can actually help to have some bits sticking out from the wax; protruding material can serve as a wick.
7. Once the wax has cooled, you can remove your firestarters from their molds. How you do this will depend on the materials you've used. If your mold was made of paper (like an egg carton or muffin cup), the mold may end up becoming part of the firestarter. Just cut or tear the excess away and use the remaining paper to help light your creation. If your mold was rigid metal or glass, put it in the refrigerator for half an hour and your new firestarters will pop right out. If your mold was flexible metal like an aluminum plate, just bend it until the waxy creation within pops loose.

Once you have the basics, you can customize your future creations. Each material has its own characteristics, and by changing materials and sizes, you can make firestarters that are best for certain purposes.
For example: Cotton ball firestarters can be among the hardest to light. But because they're lightweight, compact, and don't crumble, they may be your best bet for backpacking trips. Also, if you're using an egg carton or other paper mold, the saturated cotton balls may pop out without the need to destroy the mold.

I like to make the starters for my pellet stove using an aluminum pie pan. Just layer ½-inch or less of combustible material in the pan and pour in enough wax for the material to absorb. When it sets, you have one big pie-sized lump. It ain't pretty. But it's fast and you can break the "pie" into any size chunks you need. The irregular edges and protruding combustibles also make these pie-plate "Firebrands" very easy to light. The pan is good for several uses before it develops cracks.

If your only aim is to get a campfire, barbecue, or stove going, you probably don't care how your firestarters smell. But be aware that some materials (like pine needles) produce a lovely aroma. Others (like dog hair) may stink when they burn.

If you want to get fancy with aromas, consider adding one of the following to your melted wax: oil of clove, cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, or some other aromatic oil.
When color matters, use colored candles. Or use white or clear wax, then add a crayon or two. A single crayon can create surprisingly vivid color. If you add more than one, be aware of the effects of mixing colors. A yellow crayon and a red one will yield orange. A blue one and a green one gives you turquoise or aqua. Red and blue make purple, and so on. But some colors only make a mess! Mix red with green or purple with yellow and you'll end up with an ugly mud color.

If you discover that your newly made firestarters are hard to light (unlikely, but it can happen), wrap them in a twist of paper like a candy. Apply a match to one or both ends of the paper and you're on your way.
You can also make firestarters by tying a length of cotton string or yarn to a small combustible object and dipping it several times in the melted wax. Pinecones are the most common for this, but you could get creative with any small, easily burnable thing — cut cardboard shapes, little scrolls of rice paper, small wooden game pieces, or wooden beads, for instance. Once the wax dries, cut the string (leaving enough to serve as a wick), then pack your finished firestarter in a gift basket for a friend. (If you're giving firestarters away, it's a good idea to test that your particular kind works first.)

Decorative firestarters could also become items to sell at a local craft fair or farmer's market. You're not likely to earn a lot of money on them, but you'll have had fun creating them.

The information here is from Backwoods Magazine, Claire Woods, author.

Cinnamon and Honey

This was sent to me by my friend Nancy.  Though I can't endorse the claims, they sure are interesting and just possibly might work..

Cinnamon and Honey

Honey is the only food on the planet that will not spoil or rot.. It will do what some call turning to sugar.  In reality honey is always honey.  However , when left in a cool dark place for a long time it will do what I rather call "crystallizing".  when this happens, just loosen the lid, boil some water, and place the honey container in the hot water, turn off the heat and let it liquefy.  It is then as good as it ever was.  Never boil honey or put it in the microwave.  To do so will kill the enzymes in the honey.
It is found that a mixture of cinnamon and honey cures most diseases.  Honey is produced in most of the countries of the world.  Honey can be used without any side effects for any kind of disease.
Today's science says that even though honey is sweet, if taken in the right dosage as a medicine, it does not harm diabetic patients. 
Heart Disease
Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, apply on bread instead of jelly or jam and eat it regularly for breakfast.  It reduces cholesterol in arteries and saves a patient from heart attack.
Those who have already had a heart attack,  this breakfast will keep you from another.  Regular use is said to relieve loss of breath and strengthen the heart beat.  Honey and cinnamon revitalize arteries and veins as we age.

Arthritis patients may take daily, morning and night, one up of hot water with 2 spoons of honey and one small tsp cinnamon powder.  Taken regularly, even chronic arthritis can be cured.  In recent research conducted at the Copenhagen University, when patients were treated with 1 Tbsp honey:1/2 tsp cinnamon before breakfast, 73 people out of 200 were relieved of pain within 1 week, and within a month mostly all patients who could not walk or move around because of arthritis, started walking without pain.

Bladder Infection :
2 Tbsp cinnamon powder: 1 tsp honey in lukewarm water.  Drink to destroy germs in the bladder.

2 Tbsp honey: 3 tsp cinnamon powder mixed in 16 oz of tea water given to cholesterol patient was found to reduce level of cholesterol in blood by 10% within 2 hr. 

1 Tbsp honey: 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder in lukewarm water daily for 3 days cures chronic cough, cold, and clears the sinuses.

Upset Stomach:
Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomach ache and also clears stomach ulcers from the root.

According to studies done in India and Japan, honey taken with cinnamon powder will releave gas at the stomach.

Immune system:
Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens immune system and protects the body from bacterial and viral attacks.  Constant use of honey strenthens white blood cells to fight bacteria and virus.

Cinnamon powder sprinkled on 2Tbsp honey taken before food relieves acidity and helps digest the heaviest of meals.

A Spanish scientist has proved that honey contains a natural ingredient which kills the influenza virus and protects the patient from developing influenza.

Tea made with honey and cinnamon, when taken regularly arrests the ravages of old age.  4T honey:1 spoon of cinnamon powder: 3c water- boil into tea- drink 1/4c three-four times a day.  Keeps the skin fresh and soft and arrests old age. 

3 Tbsp honey:1 tsp cinnamon powder.. make a paste and apply to pimples before sleep.  Wash off with warm water in the morning.

Skin infection:
Equal parts honey and cinnamon to affected parts cures eczema, ringworm, and all sorts of skin infections.

Weight loss:
Daily in morning, 30min before breakfast on an empty stomach, and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon in one cup of boiling water.

In Japan and Australia, advanced cancer of the bone and stomach has  been cured successfully by using 1 Tbsp honey with 1 tsp cinnamon powder 3 times a day for a month.

Recent studies have shown that those seniors who use honey and cinnamon regularly are more alert and flexible.  1/2 Tbsp honey taken in a glass of water sprinkled with cinnamon taken daily after brushing and in the afternoon at around 3pm when the vitality of the body starts to decrease increases the vitality of the body within a week.

Bad Breath:
Gargle with one tsp honey and cinnamon powder mixed in hot water to keep the breath fresh throughout the day.

Hearing loss:
Daily morning and night honey and cinnamon powder taken in equal parts restores hearing.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I am so thrilled.. 12 more pts of chicken in the canner!  So far I've lost only one quart of anything I've canned and that's because I used a funky lid- it was yesterdays soup broth, and today we are having chicken veggie barley soup for lunch.  So no loss at all.
I have a bag of onions to can also- sweet onions - 10# pressure for 20 minutes in pint jars.  Yippee!!
I also bought extra potatoes and am going to try to dry them- wish me luck ;)... though I have NO belief in luck, I've never tried this before and I think it should be fun. 
I just took out a cup of dried chives, and there is a tray of fresh strawberries in the oven too.
I'm outa control!!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Food in the pantry

Canning gives me such a feeling of accomplishment.  I think it's one of my favorite things.. Today I decided since I bought my first real water bath canner, that I would try butter and cheese.. one pint of each.. and my butter came out looking like the above photo.. I hope it works and stays sealed.  The cheese was cojack and is in a solid mass in the jar- I think it worked.. time will tell. 
Monday I found a fabulous sale on chicken- so I bought enough breasts to can , and then I got 9 thighs which I used 5 to make into soup today.. veggies and broth.. really tasty. and put some thighs in the freezer to make more later.  I have 5 pints chicken veggie broth in the pressure canner right now.  We don't care much for the dark chicken meat, so I removed it.  Tomorrow I shall tackle the breasts and get those preserved also.  It feels good to have food in the pantry.

On Monday afternoon the Zombecks went fishing.. tonite we had the 4 rainbow trout that they caught.. oh, so good.  I appreciate the fact that John guts them and takes the fins, heads, and tails off.  I don't think I could do that..
Last night we went to Keiths softball game.. we watched him cross home plate at least twice and he can really hit that ball far and away.  Trouble was, they had fielders who were really good at catching them in midair.. bummer..  great game, Keith.. it made for a special birthday for him when they won the game!!  JJ, Wendell , and I were the only spectators.. we wrapped up in blankets to stay warm and had the best seats in the house!! 

Medicines in your kitchen..

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)—Most commonly found in Italian dishes, basil is best added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor. Basil makes an excellent flavoring for sauces, pesto, dressings, infused oils, and vinegars. You'll find it complements chicken, fish, and pasta dishes—not to mention tomatoes and mozzarella during the summer.

As a medicinal herb, basil is commonly used to treat stress-induced insomnia, tension, nervous indigestion, and has been recommended as a tonic for melancholy spirits. As part of the mint family, basil can be very cooling to the body. Shattuck recommends infusing minced basil leaves and making a tea before nighttime to help you relax and settle down for the evening. As a natural mood enhancer, adding basil to your culinary dishes just provides the additional benefit of mental well being.

Bay leaves (Laurus nobilis)—Used as a dry leaf since the flavor intensifies after drying, bay leaves are most often added to stock, stews, braises, and grain dishes. The fragrance of the bay leaf is slightly floral, herbal, and similar in scent to oregano and thyme.
Bay leaves have an especially beneficial effect on the stomach and intestinal tract, and contain a property that makes them useful as an alkalizing aid for an overly acidic system. A simple remedy would be to add extra bay leaves to your soups, stews, and stocks. You can also infuse a tea with a handful of leaves, and drink that after your meal to calm the intestinal tract.

Black pepper (Piper nigrum)—Dried pepper, derived from the peppercorn, is one of the most commonly used spices in European cuisine—it's always seen paired with its mate, salt. Typically, pepper is used as a basic spice for almost any savory dish.
Considered one of the great tonics in Chinese medicine, black pepper has warming, energizing, and stimulating properties. Often used as an addition to other infusions, black pepper is valued for its ability to stimulate the senses and warm the body. Shattuck recommends using black peppercorns in a decoction for poor circulation, for colds, or for low energy levels.
Black pepper is also a cook's best friend. In the event you cut yourself while working in the kitchen, pepper applied directly to the cut will stem bleeding.

Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)—Cayenne is the most potent, essential, and safest stimulant in your spice rack. In the event you are out camping or hunting, be sure to pack a little cayenne. As a hemostatic and astringent, cayenne powder applied topically to wounds will arrest bleeding, working rapidly to form a clot and seal off the wound. It can also be taken for internal bleeding as well. Cayenne is a wonderful heart tonic, and has an amazing effect upon circulation and stimulation of the cardiovascular system. For those who feel weak and often chilled, cayenne taken internally increases circulation in the extremities. Cayenne is also helpful for a sluggish digestive system, and can be sprinkled over any kind of food to aid the body's immune system in the event of colds and flus. When you need extra heat use cayenne—in both culinary dishes and physical wellness. Powdered cayenne has been favored by many as a winter remedy to prevent cold feet and frostbite—sprinkle it in your socks to aid warmth in frigid temperatures.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)—Cinnamon has long been valued as a spice of precious value, and was one of the earliest spices imported from Sri Lanka. Cinnamon can be often found in cookies, cakes, and cereals in the United States, but in the Middle East it is highly valued in savory dishes and curries. Cinnamon's antioxidant properties make it a spice you might want to start using more frequently. Cinnamon aids the digestive system, increases poor circulation, and is being tested in the treatment of type II diabetes, as it is believed to aid in blood sugar control. Shattuck says it is often used by herbalists to make other herbs palatable. "If you had a cold, you could make a warming tea with ginger, and add cinnamon to make that tea taste better and add another element of medicinal value." The smell of cinnamon is also thought to boost brain activity.

Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)—Cloves were one of the most highly prized spices of the middle-age spice trade. Cloves are almost always used as a spice in Indian cuisine. Cloves combined with cumin and cinnamon are found in Mexican aromatic dishes such as rice and chicken. Medicinally, the essential oils of cloves are a must in the case of a dental emergency. Applied topically to a tooth, the oil of clove is an analgesic and powerful germicidal that kills bacteria. Cloves can also reduce fever: make a decoction if you have clove buds, or an infusion if you have powdered clove to reduce a fever. Mull the cloves with cinnamon and apple peel to make a tastier tea for those suffering from acute nausea. Cloves are also believed to have antibiotic properties, and the oil can be applied topically to burns, skin rashes, or irritations like acne.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)—The fennel root bulb and its seed are found in Italian and Middle-Eastern cooking where the aromatic flavor is used to enhance the taste of fish, eggs, breads, and sauces. Fennel is the primary ingredient in absinthe. Medicinally, Fennel is an amazing herb to employ in your cabinet. Fennel has carminative properties (reduces gas and flatulence) and is often used when purgatives are needed to ease the side effects of purging. A wonderful digestive aid, fennel seeds can be used to make an infusion you can drink after a meal to help digest a food that might cause gassiness or bloating. You can also sprinkle a spoonful of fennel seeds on your food if you have a cold to clear congestion as fennel helps remove mucous from the body. Fennel is also used to enrich the quality and quantity of a nursing mother's milk—fennel capsules are best if a mother is trying to increase milk supply, so that she is getting a more concentrated amount of fennel than with tea. Fennel also is used to make "Gripe Water" for infants—which is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate, syrup, and either fennel, anise, or dill water. In Indian medicine, fennel seeds are believed to improve one's eyesight. In the event of eye inflammation or soreness, room temperature fennel tea can be applied topically with an eyedropper.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)—Sage is found in many traditional European dishes. Its slightly peppery flavor and savory leanings make it best when added to meats and cheeses. And no stuffing would be complete without a good pinch of sage. Sage also enhances pork flavors and makes an excellent sausage spice.
Sage is believed to have medicinal properties for almost any ailment. You can make an infusion and use it as an astringent. Sage has antibiotic properties and is effective in improving a weak digestive system and cutting excess mucous. Sage tea is an excellent remedy for a chronic winter cough. A cleansing herb, sage can also be used as a tonic for low energy. For lactating mothers, sage is also effective in assisting slowing down the milk supply when weaning a baby from mother's milk. Sage has a place historically as an herb that is used to cleanse and purify a space, increase fertility when burned, ward off evil, and heal snake-bites.

Garlic (Allium sativum)—Garlic is used all over the world as a culinary herb for its pungent flavor and seasoning versatility. You can add fresh or powdered garlic to soups, stews, stocks, meat dishes, and risottos to name a few. Garlic is the herb of choice for colds, flus, and sore throats. Garlic is a very powerful anti-fungal and has antibiotic properties. In the event of a cold or flu, add powdered garlic to your meal—sprinkle on your salad for added flavor and herbal healing. Shattuck recommends making the following cold-fighting concoction using whole cloves during the winter. "Peel about eight or nine garlic cloves and put in a glass jar with equal parts honey and tamari or soy sauce that completely covers the top of the cloves," she said, allow the mixture to marinate for several weeks and then eat one or two cloves per day if you feel a cold coming on. Garlic is an immune booster and is believed to lower cholesterol levels. Garlic is also used in humans and animals for expelling parasites and ridding the body of intestinal worms. Garlic can be used as an infection fighter and anti-fungal compound. Crushed garlic is useful in healing thrush and strep throat. At the first signs of a scratchy throat, begin self dosing with garlic cloves or powder. You can alleviate "garlic breath" by chewing fresh parsley.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)—Ginger is an ancient Asian spice that can be found in many desserts, curries, candies, seafood dishes, and vegetarian stir-fries. Recently, candied ginger has become readily available and has shown up in coffee drinks and on the top of cream cheese frosted cupcakes.
Ginger is an excellent remedy for morning sickness and motion sickness. Shattuck recommends taking candied ginger on any "seafaring" trip in the event of nausea. Ginger is not only an excellent warming herb but acts as a decongestant—in the event of a fever, draw a hot bath and sprinkle a handful of powdered ginger in your water. The bath will induce your body to sweat out impurities, provide warming in the event of chills, and help your congestion break-up. Towel off, put on some warm flannels, and go to bed. You can brew an infusion of fresh ginger to help a sore throat.
Ginger can also stop diarrhea and provide relief from arthritic inflammation.

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)—Nutmeg has a slightly sweet spicy flavor that is often used in cheese sauces to add a delicate taste, or in brewed drinks like eggnog, mulled wine, and mulled cider.
Nutmeg is very useful as a remedy for nausea, vomiting, and indigestion, and also helpful for diarrhea related to food poisoning. Shattuck says in the event of food poisoning, nutmeg can settle the stomach. She advises sprinkling powder or grating whole nutmeg over plain brown rice to reintroduce solids, and to make a tea for those who are still unable to keep anything down. If used improperly, large doses of nutmeg could be toxic.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)—Oregano (and basil) give Italian cuisine its distinctive flavor, and is more flavorful in its dried state than as a fresh herb. Found in Greek cuisine, oregano is a wonderful addition to salads, aromatic oils, and meat dishes. In the United States, oregano is a staple on pizza. Oregano can help strengthen the immune system, heal digestive eruptions, and is proven to have antioxidant properties, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, advised using oregano as an antiseptic and for respiratory ailments. Oregano can aid in restful sleep, and an infused tea before bed is advised for nervous temperaments. Oregano is helpful in fighting skin infections. Shattuck says you can add oregano to your bath if you have a skin condition or persistent rash. "Take a handful of Oregano, tie it in a handkerchief, and toss it in your bath water."

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)—Peppermint is an easy herb to cultivate and keep in one's spice rack. Believed to be the world's oldest medicine, it is often found in teas, candies, chewing gum, and toothpaste. It is a soothing herb that provides a nice pick-me-up for fatigue. It is highly calming to the digestive system and especially good for ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease because of its natural calming properties. Shattuck recommends those with intestinal issues invest in peppermint oil capsules that will get into the intestines in a concentrated form. Peppermint is one of the tastier herbs, and makes a perfect infusion with a little raw honey. In studies conducted in Italy in 2007, peppermint oil was also found to relieve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)—Rosemary has a woodsy evergreen smell that complements many Mediterranean dishes. Rosemary makes an excellent addition to meat gravies, risotto dishes, and stocks. Rosemary is high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6. It has long been believed to help the mind in retaining information, and Shakespeare called it the herb of "remembrance." Rosemary can provide relief for headaches through aromatherapy and ingestion. Rosemary is often used to combat depression and is an excellent all around herb for the mind.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)—Thyme is a natural source of iron and is found widely in culinary dishes all over the world. It was used by ancient Egyptians in the embalming process, and has long been believed to purify the body and environment.
Another herb most flavorful in its dried state, thyme is found in many lamb, tomato, and egg dishes. Its natural expectorant properties make it excellent for throat or bronchial problems. Thyme is a natural antiseptic, and you can make a thyme infusion and gargle with it to coat a sore throat up to three times daily to reduce inflammation. Its antibiotic properties makes thyme a well favored herb in a first-aid kit—ancient doctors used thyme to coat bandages, and it is believed to have anti-fungal properties that assist in healing an infected or fungal toenail. In the event of a respiratory infection, you can make an infusion and then let the affected individual bend over the steaming thyme infusion and inhale. Traditional use of thyme included giving it to children at bedtime to help control bed wetting and nightmares. Tea is the easiest way to administer to children; if they are worried about the taste you can mix it with apple juice (half-and-half).

Culinary herbs enhance our daily cuisine, but they also have medicinal properties that have been all but forgotten. Focus on the herbs you are using when seasoning your next meal; it's amazing what a little knowledge can do for boosting one's confidence in natural herbal healing.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Keeping the Sabbath Holy

Exodus 31:12-18:

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’” And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
So what does scripture indicate is permissible on the Sabbath?

The Bible teaches that certain works are permissible on the Sabbath: works of necessity and mercy. In the section above regarding Christ’s teaching on the Sabbath, it was noted that works necessary to the proper observance of the public worship of God are permitted on the Lord’s day (Mt. 12:5): preaching, teaching, collecting tithes, the singing of psalms, travel to and from worship, etc. If the priests could do religious work in the service of the temple without breaking the Sabbath, then certainly religious work done for the greater Temple, Jesus Christ, is permissible. Another necessity is the refreshment of the body with food and drink (Mt. 12:3-4). One cannot properly worship and meditate upon Christ and His works when one is famished or dying of thirst. The Lord’s day is a day of joy, celebration and victory (Ps. 118:22-24), and thus under normal conditions is not a day of fasting, sackcloth and ashes. One must care for one’s animals on the Sabbath by feeding and watering them. Works of necessity also involve taking care of emergencies: invading armies, fighting fires, floods, earthquakes, car accidents. If it is permissible to save the life of a beast on the Sabbath (Mt. 12:11-12), then it is permissible to save human life also. “But in all these things it should be regarded, that the necessity be real, and not pretended: for it is not enough that the work can be done to such advantage on another day; for that might let out people on the Sabbath, if it be a windy day or so, to cut down their corn, whom yet God has in a special manner provided against, Exod. xxxiv. 21.”

Christians must never confuse an inconvenience with a genuine necessity or emergency. If worship is to be missed, it should be because of a real sickness or hazard. Some treat a slight fatigue as a serious flu or a half inch of snow as a blizzard simply because they are lazy and do not really want to attend to the means of grace. Others break the Sabbath who turn ordinary providence into a crisis. These are motivated out of greed rather than laziness. “Hence though the weather and season is rainy, yet it is not lawful to cut down or gather in corn on the sabbath, their hazard in this case being common and from an ordinary immediate providence. Yet suppose that a river were carrying away corn, or that winds were like to blow them into the seas, it were lawful in such a case to endeavour to prevent that, and preserve them. Because (a.) that comes by some more than ordinary dispensation of providence in the weather, and affects and puts in hazard this corn more than others. (b.) Because there is no probability of recovering these in an ordinary way, though the weather should alter, but there is hope of gathering in of such as are in the fields [outside] that reach of hazard, if the Lord alters the season.” Those who turn necessity into a loophole to mow lawns, chop wood, harvest crops or pull weeds are perverting the commandment to their own detriment and destruction.

Works of mercy are also permitted. Jesus said that “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Mt. 12:12). If it is appropriate to have mercy upon an animal in distress on the Sabbath, then it is even more appropriate to help a person in distress (Mt. 12:11-12). Thus, caring for the sick and relieving the poor are good and lawful on the Sabbath. The church has always acknowledged that necessary hospital and nursing-home work are permissible on the Lord’s day. If it is lawful and good to minister to man’s temporal needs on the Sabbath, then it is also good to minister to man’s spiritual needs (preaching the gospel, witnessing, ministering in retirement communities or prisons, counseling, passing out tracts, etc.). “Works of mercy and charity are very proper and acceptable to Christ on this day. They were proper on the ancient sabbath. Christ was wont to do such works on the Sabbath-day. But they especially become the Christian sabbath, because it is a day kept in commemoration of the greatest work of mercy and love toward us that ever was wrought. What can be more proper than that on such a day we should be expressing our love and mercy towards our fellow-creatures, and especially our fellow-Christians? Christ loves to see us show our thankfulness to him in such a way as these. Therefore, we find that the Holy Ghost was especially careful, that such works should be performed on the first day of the week in the primitive church,” as we learn from Paul’s exhortation to collect tithes for the poor saints in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:1-2).

It is important that civil governments and employers acknowledge the Lord’s day and accommodate those who are involved in works of necessity (e.g., police, firemen, the military) and mercy (e.g., doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, hospital workers) in such a way that they can attend public worship as often as possible. Thus in a society that honors God’s law, a rotation system should be used so that people could have at least two or three Sundays off each month in order to worship God publicly and partake of the Lord’s supper. On the weeks in which Sunday employment is required, a day of rest must be given in place of Sunday, to follow the pattern of one day of rest in seven as closely as possible. “Further, if necessity obliges us to engage in secular employments on the Lord’s day, as in the instances of those whose business is to provide physic [care] for the sick, let us, nevertheless, labour to possess a spiritual frame, becoming the holiness of the day, so far as may consist with what we are immediately called to do.” One must also make sure that one is truly engaging in a work of necessity. There are many medical procedures (e.g., plastic surgery, removal of warts) that do not need to be scheduled for the Lord’s day. “Finally, if we have a necessary call to engage in worldly matters, and so be detained from public ordinances, we must endeavor to satisfy others that the providence of God obliges us to act as we do; that so we may not give offense to them, or they take occasion, without just reason, to follow their own employments, to do which would be a sin in them.”

Preparation for the Lord's Day

Not only must Christians go to bed at a decent hour, but they must also prepare their affairs in such a way as to avoid the temptation of engaging in unnecessary labor or commerce on the Lord’s day. If the house is dirty, clean it on Saturday, so that if people come to lunch after church, you will not be tempted to rush home and clean up. Make sure that the car has plenty of gasoline in order to go to and from public worship (or for emergencies). Businessmen and students must prepare for Monday’s affairs on Saturday, not on Sunday. Paperwork or homework must be finished on Saturday. The preparation for Monday’s activities should be thorough, so that on the Lord’s day the mind may be fixed upon God and His works. Thorough preparation will help one avoid the temptation of thinking about the Monday morning business meeting, algebra exam or sales conference.

Housewives should prepare for sabbath meals as much as possible on Saturday. There are many kitchen duties, such as the kneading and baking of bread, preparing stuffing, cooking and mashing potatoes, that do not need to be done on the Sabbath. Moses spoke to this point in Exodus 16:23: “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’” “The meaning of this is, that they were to gather the manna, working which would take up a considerable time, and to grind or prepare it for baking or seething. This was a servile or laborious work, and might as well be done the day before. Accordingly, they were commanded then to dispatch or finish it, that they might rest in and sanctify the Sabbath immediately following.” This law does not make it unlawful for Christians to prepare and heat up food on the Lord’s day (for a certain amount of preparation is necessary), but it does teach that food preparation should be handled as much as possible on the day prior to the Sabbath, that we may apply ourselves more diligently to the means of grace and rest.

There is also a spiritual preparation for the Lord’s day. This, of course, involves, first of all, repenting of any known sins to God. Second, if there is any known enmity between oneself and another Christian, reconciliation should be sought if at all possible (Mt. 5:23-24). Third, we should pray fervently that God would not only forgive our sins but also fill us with His Spirit on the approaching day. We should pray for God to subdue our fleshly appetites, worldly cares and unclean thoughts in order that we may focus in worship upon Christ, study His Word, and feed upon Him spiritually at His supper. We also should pray for the special assistance of God in the preparation and delivery of His Word by the teaching elders of the church, and that the Holy Spirit would convince and convict hearts unto a greater sanctification. Even the Apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesians to pray “for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19). “We ought to be very importunate with God, that he would sanctify and fill our thoughts, from the beginning to the end of the Lord’s day, which he has consecrated for his immediate service and glory.” Fourth, we should read and meditate upon the preacher’s text for the next day, if it is known. We should “desire the pure milk of the word that [we] may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). What a wonderful privilege to have the Lord’s day, a day in which the cares and vanities of life are forgotten, a day of blessed fellowship, communion and celebration with our Lord Jesus Christ.

The sabbath day is the day that God has set aside for the public worship of Himself. This involves preaching from the Bible, reading the Word of God, the administration of the sacraments, the giving of tithes, hearing the Word of God, prayer to God, and the singing of psalms. Those who believe and teach that church attendance and public worship are optional do not understand the Scriptures.

When God has given us six days in which to conduct our affairs, the missing of public worship for sleep, business or personal pleasure is inexcusable. The state of our hearts is proved by our outward actions (Mt. 6:16-20); to neglect the public honoring of Jesus Christ for any reason other than illness or emergency proves that one’s love and allegiance to Christ are a sham.

It is not an accident that the great decline of Lord’s-day observance has occurred at the same time that unbelief, apostasy and wickedness have permeated western culture. The love of God and of His day go hand in hand. When the love and fear of God no longer exist, His day is not honored. “If we did indeed love God as we ought, with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and might, we would not say, when we have been attending upon him two or three hours in public worship, ‘Now we have surely done enough for this day,’ when we are invited, encouraged and appointed still to continue our communion with him,—still to feast upon his holy word, and repeat our addresses at the throne of his grace in our closets and families. Would we be so soon weary of an intimate conversation with a friend we love and take pleasure in? No; with such a friend we contrive how to prolong the time of converse, and when the hours of sitting together are expired, we stand together, and, as those that are loath to part, bid often farewell, are we add to this a walk together for further discourses; is this thy kindness to thy friend, and wilt thou say of communion with thy God, ‘Behold what a weariness is it!’ and contrive excuses to contract it, to break it off, or cut it short?” May God increase our love toward Him and thus enable us to sanctify His day as we ought. “The stream of all religion runs either deep or shallow, according as the banks of the sabbath are kept up or neglected.”