Monday, February 28, 2011

Nature through the eyes of a child

Nothing is quite as precious as the look on a child's face when they see the first bits of green poking out of the soil in early spring. Mei-Ling looked on with wonder at the first seeds planted have now sprouted in the ground. With child-like enthusiasm, Mei-Ling grabbed her little girl size hoe and started working the soil, "like Papa does." I sure love being a grandmother, you get to experience all the wonder of childhood all over again and get so many kisses and hugs

Time To Plant

This weekend, Emery tilled the small garden, and a few rows in the older bigger garden that we hope to fill with raised beds through time. The rich brown soil smelled good to me as I sat there watching Emery work. The cat, "Mittens" thought the freshly turned soil was the best place to take her afternoon nap. The warm sun felt good. I love this time of year, digging into the soil, planting, planning and hoping for a good harvest this fall. The raised bed is working out so well, tiny green bits poking out from the soil, seeds planted and now growing. The plants we put in are strong and growing well, including the one plum tomato we put in. Not a weed in sight !
While we were out there working, I picked lots of fuzzy mullein leaves to dry, using them for coughs and congestion when needed. We pruned the apricot trees until the sky darkened with the approaching evening. A good day
While we were outside working, the Sandhill Cranes made their way north, I heard them high above us before I saw them. A good sign that winter is coming to an end. I feel blessed, I saw them heading south in the fall and yesterday saw them making the trip back north. Life is good, and God is ever so merciful to give us beauty to behold.

I Surender All

I woke up with this hymn in my head. Singing softly to myself, I lingered on the words a bit, thinking about them, mulling them over. Wondering how many of us really do surrender all, no matter what we claim, what we say even to ourselves. Surrender is so tied up with humility and trust. In the world we live in, the concept of true surrender is seen as a thing of the past, something no longer needed. Does the preacher in the million dollar mansion dare speak of humility and surrendering all to God ? Does the family understand surrender when they are in debt up to their eyeballs just so they can have all the things they think they need ? There are times, and they are far too often, that I try hard to dismiss the concept of surrendering my will to God, I want to live how I want, without even asking God if its His will for me. It might be even for what seems like small insignificant things, like what clothes to wear, what we read, what we watch on television, what we buy at the store, knowing we shouldn't spend money we don't really have. Surrendering to His will to live as is written in Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
It's not easy to seek His will in all that we do, all that we wear, all that we say and all that we hope for. It seems to go against the current to put everything into the hands of God and be content with the answers, they may not be the answers we want.

All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
Refrain:I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

Cedar Waxwings

The Cedar Waxwings have been busy eating all the juniper berries in our yard. Love to watch them each year as they arrive en mass and then devour all the berries they can, leaving when they are done. Such beautiful birds.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Some of My New Favorite Things

My computer was at the Geek squad being checked out for a small problem, which left me with only the lap top, and although I enjoy the portable aspect of the laptop, I am a desk top person when it comes to blogging. So today I will try to catch up with all the things I have wanted to share with you.
We have always been health conscience, but now with eating a mostly raw and living diet, it makes more sense to me to watch with greater care what I am putting on my skin, after all it is the largest organ of our bodies.
For many years I have been searching for a natural deodorant that worked to no avail, that is until a month ago, I purchased this pump spray from Avalon Organics. IT WORKS ! Its lovely to use, and smells good and keeps you smelling good. I have had it a month and have not even used a quarter of the bottle. Its a good value for keeping harmful chemicals away from some of the largest pores we have and that are so close to our lymph nodes.
I use the message oil as a moisturizing oil after a shower. No mineral oil and smells heavenly.
Keeps your skin baby soft. Then for my hands I have been using Dr Bronners Organic Lavender Coconut lotion. All natural ingredients and smells very nice.
Finally, my new favorite books have to do with the way we are eating, always fun to try new recipes !

Monday, February 21, 2011

Simplicity of Life

The weather has been gorgeous here. Windows and doors open, fresh air filling the house with natures air freshener. Birds are singing the praises of the creator. Little clouds hang in the azure blue sky like bits of milkweed caught on the wind. New life springing up all around me. The first flowers of spring beginning to bloom, casting color on the drab winter landscape, reminding me of when you apply the first colors on the canvas of a new painting. Tiny buds are appearing on trees. It is an almost magical time of the year, when we sense the awakening of life all around us. It is this simple life we have sought out, that allows us me to stop and gaze in childlike wonderment at new buds, of singing birds, and the first insects to buzz around my ear.
It has been the choices we made to skip the rat race of "must have's" and "really wants" that gives me time to stop and listen, stop and see the wonder of life. I would much rather have this deep peace that fills my soul, than to have worry and stress over trying to keep up with the latest style or the need to have everything just as the media tells us we need.
It is with honesty and sincerity that I can walk along the rivers bank and know that I am doing all I can to keep my carbon footprint as small as possible. To breathe deeply and know we are working hard to keep the environment healthy for not only my generation but for the future ones as well.
I love that I can walk out to the asparagus patch in early spring, pick a stalk and eat it right there, organic goodness. This to me, is more important than wearing designer labels or shopping in some store that makes you feel higher up on the food chain.
Life is not about what we own, but about who we are apart from what we own. Today, on this wondrous spring like day, I am ever so grateful for the simplicity of my life, that allows me to stop and smell the flowers and soak up the first warm rays of sunshine, while stepping lightly on this earth of ours
new growth on the pine trees
springtime yellow
milkweed clouds
signs of spring, flowers dancing in the gentle breeze
pinecones, gathered and ready for next winters crafts and to use in the wood stove
Mullein, fuzzy green
newly planted raised bed
Mei-Lings garden she planted last evening, the rocks are her "flowers that will grow"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sprouting Beans in a Jar

this is how I learned to sprout beans !

Sprouting Wings !

Sprouts are a really good way to get some added nutrition, especially on a raw diet. Last week in the health food store I meandered down the isle that contained all the beans and seeds for sprouting and also noted that for $15.99 you could get a half gallon size mason jar with a plastic screen sort of top. Well, I am frugal at times and at home I had at least a half dozen mason jars that size but no fancy plastic screen lids, but I did however just purchase a bag of key limes, the bag was a fine plastic mesh, green too, just like the color of the sprouting lid. I figured that I could cut that bag into the right size squares to fit right under the mason jar rings. I did double the mesh, since I was sprouting some very tiny seeds. Has worked perfectly !
The little beans and seeds have done just what they were supposed to do, sprout tiny wings, which means I get to enjoy them on a sandwich today.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Raw Food Way of Life

Eating a raw foods diet does not mean you eat the same old boring salad every meal, or just having a banana and an apple for breakfast. So far, this way of eating has been an exciting adventure. I have learned many new ways of preparing foods and having fun doing just that.
Emery purchased an Excalibur nine tray dehydrator with a timer for me and that has opened up a whole new line of foods for me to make. I had a dehydrator, but it was not capable of doing what the Excalibur can do. Its been running non stop since it arrived !
Still feeling great eating this way and found out by going out to eat one evening this past week that I really sleep better, feel much better all around, if at this point I just stick to the raw diet with the exception of something cooked each Sunday evening at home. Usually something like quinoa with raw tomato sauce on it.
Yesterday I made a raw key lime cheesecake and made a large batch of raw onion rings that are then put in the dehydrator for a few hours. Also made another batch of the eggplant "bacon".
Right now there are two trays of banana/strawberry fruit leathers in the dehydrator.Perfect for taking along on hikes. Am sprouting some seeds too, love having fresh sprouts to add to a salad. . Still loosing weight, blood pressure keeps getting lower, it was never real high, once in a while 135/80...still higher than I would like. Yesterday it was 109/75 !
No agenda on how long I will continue to eat this way, probably for as long as I feel good .
This way of eating blends in well with our approach to simple living. The garden will be a huge blessing to us, as food keeps going up in price and buying all organic fruits and veggies gets expensive.
I love that we have so much to add to the compost pile each day and less and less that needs to be taken out to the trash. I like the idea of not contributing to the local landfill.
For a while now, God has been tapping me on the shoulder about eating this way and to be honest, it wasn't what I was wanting to hear, so I simply made fun of this way of eating and continued on the way I had been for many years. Finally, I humbled myself, took the plunge and am I glad I did.
Emery is having to eat some cooked foods daily and upping his protein. He is missing a portion of his intestines due to a ruptured appendicts many years ago and he developed gangrene. He has some trouble assimilating some vitamins and minerals, which makes his dietary needs much different than mine. Plus he is thin and can't afford to cut back on calories. We are finding a good balance for both of us. Hard to admit it, but we are getting older and your bodies change with the years and you need to be vigilant in providing for your bodies needs. Healthy aging is important and both of us want to maintain our active lifestyle and being able to say we are not on any medications, other than my thyroid medication.
We raised our family on good food, and not junk food. Made a commitment early on in our marriage that our health was a priority and so far its paid off, just now its time to step it up a notch, get my body the size it needs to be and eat well and with pleasure.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Cedar Waxwings Have Arrived

These beautiful birds can strip our Juniper tree of its berries in a matter of hours. Once a flock arrives they stick around until the berries are gone.

Valentines Day

Usually I get flowers, perfume, and chocolates for Valentines day and an unexpected present or two. This year I had a request. . . I asked Emery for a raised bed for the garden. He was more than happy to do that for me, so I skipped the fancy perfume, flowers and chocolates all in favor of some organic soil, organic chicken manure and peat moss, along with a trip to Lowes for some fine cedar to build the frame. Emery and I had a great time working together on the project Sunday afternoon. The sun was warm and the sky was blue. Its garden time for us in North Texas and after 20 years of fighting weeds, we have opted to just build raised beds and skip the war on weeds. Emery made the raised bed a Cadillac, there is a top piece along the frame that will work as a bench, I will be able to sit while I work in the bed, rather than kneel on the ground. We will need many more such beds, but Rome wasn't built in a day so it may be a project that will take a few years to complete. The wood part of the bed is not expensive, about $35, but since we don't have a place to buy organic soil by the yard, buying bags of it ends up a real investment, especially since we want all the beds to be at least 12" deep, some will be 16" or more for the root vegetables.
We have a good size compost pile but still won't produce all the compost we will need for what we are planning on.
With my raw eating, we opted to have a quiet Valentines dinner at home last night. It was perfect.
I just keep thinking about how many wonderful vegetables we will be able to grow in our raised beds without fighting a loosing battle with the weeds. I feel sure Emery gave me the best Valentines day present this gal could ever ask for .

Friday, February 11, 2011

Its another Raw day !

Still loosing about a pound a day and feeling better all the time. I am a believer for sure now in this way of eating, but I will still treat myself to one cooked food a week and if we want to go out to eat once in a while I will go, just choosing a vegan restaurant where my choices in food can be healthy at least. We are so blessed to have Spiral Diner near us, which has been my favorite restaurant for several years now.
For breakfast this morning, I shredded two organic gala apples, added raisins, some cinnamon, d few pecan pieces and a touch of agave nectar. Its wonderful !
For a snack this week end, I dried some smaller size bananas, they were on sale for 99 cents for a big bag, they were what the store considered over ripe, but to me they were just right for what I wanted them for. I often try to hit the market very early on Friday morning to get these bags of bananas so I can freeze them to use in smoothies or for dehydrating. We like to dry them whole, they get the texture of licorice which makes it seem like candy !
For lunch today, a BLT, only the "bacon" is dehydrated eggplant that has been marinated first.
So good. One need never be hungry eating raw foods that's for certain.
Another wonderful day !
Check out the many raw recipes at Gone Raw

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Busy Bird Feeders

Another Raw Day

This raw diet is about the best thing I have ever done nutritionally in my entire life.
The weight loss has been phenomenal, but the health rewards have been even greater.
To date, I have been loosing about 5 lbs a week. Never hungry feeling, still no cravings for sweets. I even went to the food store hungry, passed the candy and donuts without even giving them a second look. Headed happily to the bananas instead.
There has been a surprising benefit to this way of eating....almost no trash to take out this week. Emery remarked how we had only a little bit of trash in the bottom of the trash can for the whole week, however, we have taken a lot out to the compost pile. Lost of fruit and veggie peels ! It turns out that this way of eating goes well with our commitment to be "green".
Today for lunch I had fake bacon made with eggplant that had been marinated then dehydrated. Its great and a perfect addition to a sandwich with lettuce for the "bread".
Still having more and more energy daily and feeling healthier, even though I always thought I was feeling great before going raw.
There are lots of recipes on line for eating a raw and living diet so no one need ever be bored with the food choices.

The Beauty of the Day with Thoughts on Multitasking

Yes, its cold, bitterly cold, and yes, there was snow flying this morning, swirling and dancing with the smoke from the chimney, but there was also beauty all around me. Birds in great numbers at the feeders, flashing color by my window panes. Red, yellows, browns, and all manner of shades of each. Little sparrows too, hungry in the cold.
Emery was able to be home a bit longer this morning due to icy road conditions and how we loved having more time together. With loving care, Emery carried in more wood for me to burn during the afternoon and he braved the -4 wind chill to fill my bird feeders so there would be plenty for the tiny winged creatures today. This gentle man of mine even went out to do my chores so I could stay toasty warm by the fire. Even with all the extra chores he did, we still had time to sit together by the window and watch the winter winds blow.
The gray sky left the house seeming a bit dark and gloomy until we lit the lamps and enjoyed the golden glow that filled the room with a warm coziness that electric lights never seem to be able to create.
I love this simple life of ours, even when it means going to bed with wool socks on our feet and being buried under mounds of soft down comforters, waking in the morning to ice cold floors and frost on the window panes until we get the stove roaring once again.
We watched Frontline on PBS last night, interesting to say the least. It was about how we have become a digital nation of multitaskers, and much like the old saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none" our minds are scattered from all the tasks we perform in any given moment, but the down side of that is that we are not doing a great job at any of the tasks we are performing, not as good as if we were not multitasking. We do better when we are concentrating on just ONE thing. The Book, "Dumbest Generation" was discussed and it was a bit of an eye opener for me. A quick look at the authors web page and a quick read of some of the articles there left me shaking my head in agreement and in part feeling ashamed that I too have become fractured in a sense due to all the multitasking I partake in with this digital age we are in.
It occurred to me last night that I hardly ever memorize anything, including phone numbers of even my nearest and dearest. Forget making myself learn a Bible verse each week, I don't even attempt it. I have my iPhone bible app with me almost all the time which allows me to look up any verse I want. And honestly, I don't read books as much as I used to. I still read, but not like I used to, not a book every couple of days !
Most of us that do a lot of searching on the computer can relate to those Bing commercials sad to say.
After thinking about all this, and talking with Emery about it, I decided there needs to be some changes made in my life to reclaim my brain. Sad to say, I think I am a bit addicted to my Internet world so its going to take some discipline to make the changes stick. Limiting my time on line for one and then not feeling as though my iPhone is some sort of life line to the cyber world. I will live without it always being within 10 feet of me !
We are inundated with things that take us away from hearing that small still voice and from being comfortable in silence. Today, I declare that I am reclaiming my brain.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Nearly Two Weeks Eating Raw

There are times in our lives when we have to eat our words and everything I have ever thought or said about eating raw, is turning out to be opposite of what is my new reality.
For a long time now, years actually, I have felt this nudging feeling that I needed to be eating a raw diet, instead of paying attention to that nudging, I ignored it and frankly just made fun of the very idea of eating just raw and living foods, vegetarian of course.

Then one day two weeks ago, Emery and I were at a book store and right in front of me what the cookbook, or is that cook-less book, by Alissa Cohen titled, "Raw Food For Everyone" . Emery said, why don't we just get the book and give this way of eating a try. So we did. Within two days of eating raw, I felt better, not that I felt bad per say, but I felt lighter, had a ton more energy and just felt clearer in my thinking. To be fair, I had one day where I had a headache most of the day and it was probably due to cleansing, but it wasn't a bad headache or anything. We have always eaten with care, but I was a complete sweet-aholic. Candy was my friend ! And I am overweight which in all fairness was due largely in part to a very low functioning thyroid and then the rest of the reason I am overweight had to do with loving candy and sweets in general. I have been loosing weight slowly since going on thyroid medication but it was not moving as fast as I wanted it to. The older you get, the more being overweight affects how fast you move and how agile you are. I do not like being limited in any way. Doing Yoga was not as easy as it was in years past !
In the first week of eating raw, I lost 6 1/2 lbs. I have NEVER felt hungry, except in the morning when I first wake up. I have not had a single craving for any kind of food, including candy or sugar. Its been so much fun creating new foods. I have enjoyed being in the kitchen preparing meals with a new zeal. Emery says he feels 5 years younger. He is pretty thin and I was worried about him loosing weight, but he hasn't. I keep loosing at about 1/2 lb - 3/4 lb a day. I have not been exercising much since we have had the coldest weather in years but still the weight is dropping off effortlessly. I am spending a lot of time preparing food, the kitchen seems to be the room I am in most these days, but its been fun.
We did go out for Chinese New Years and I ate the food at the restaurant and so did Emery. Both of us woke up the next morning feeling sluggish, actually we both realized we had felt that way often before going Raw. I had said in the beginning I would do this for a month, now I keep thinking 6 months, and who knows, it may be longer. I plan on one cooked food each week. Last week it was quinoa with raw "spaghetti sauce" on it. It was delicious.
Our diet now includes things like cheese spreads made from cashews and fresh dill and "bacon" made from eggplant. We love it and love how we are feeling.
Life just keeps getting better and better.

Much To Catch Up....

In mid January, we saw the passing of my father and after nearly two years of caring for him, it was so hard to see him leave u...