Quips and Quotes
"We do not earn or merit anything by taking refuge in God. Hiding in something makes no contribution to the hiding place. All it does is show that we regard ourselves as helpless and the hiding place as a place of rescue." John Piper

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tidy Tip Tuesday - Nothing to Lose But Inches

Eating real food has been such a delight for me. However, I have always said and known that I eat too large of portions. Though I have never, in my five years of eating real food, gained weight from eating large portions, I have not lost either. Since I was overweight when I began eating real food, I surely do need to take off some excess pounds.

In this day and age, we all are guilty of eating more than our bodies need for healthy functioning. So beyond just eating "real food", I really desire to discipline myself to eat real food, realistically.

Thinking realistically about food, did you know that today's child-size servings in restaurants are equivalent to the standard adult-size servings of twenty years ago? Not only that, but go back a few more years and you'll discover that the standard size dinner plate then is what we call a "salad" plate now?

With that in mind, today's tips concern portion control and easing hunger pangs without over indulging. Here are several tips that will help you put your fork down without feeling deprived:

1. Seconds - Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Keep seconds out of sight by putting them in the frig before you sit down to eat. Instead of taking all the food to the table, dish out moderate servings and then put any leftovers in storage containers and sock them into the refrigerator. There will be no temptation when the leftover food is out of sight.

2. Snack on Fat (and Protein), Not Carbs
Good fat (go here to get the scoop of what is good) satiates hunger like nothing else can. Good fats do not cause weight gain. In fact, some good fats, like coconut oil, actually aid in weight loss by boosting metabolism (you burn calories more efficiently), providing instant energy and satiating hunger. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, may fill you, but they can never really satiate you. An excess intake of carbs also is the major contributor for weight gain; even good carbs turn to sugar in your body (not like simple carbs, however, which are never good for you) and what you do not burn off, goes to "waist", hips and thighs.

For a satisfying "snack drink", brew yourself a cup of tea and add a tablespoon of coconut oil to it. If you like your tea sweetened, try using stevia extract (available at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market and many other grocery stores - ask for it). Stevia extract, from the stevia herb, is available in little white packets like the blue, pink and yellow stuff and is not toxic like those chemical sweeteners. And if you like cream in your tea, add a little half and half or cream. You'll find that this drink satisfies your hunger pangs and empowers you to forget about snacking.

3. Eat Your Salad as a First Course
But make sure it is accompanied with a "good fat" salad dressing. The dressing will serve to satiate you and make you feel nourished much more effectively than if you had a low-fat or no-fat dressing. You will feel more satisfied and less hungry when eating the rest of your meal. And again, good fats will help in your effort to lose weight (read #2 if you already have not).

4. Doggie Bag First
Akin to #1, when eating at a restaurant, ask for a doggie bag when you place your order (ask for it to come with your meal) and put any food that is more than a moderate serving into the bag. You will not be tempted to eat more than you actually need that way.

5. The 20 Minute Rule
If you do not feel satisfied after eating a meal, do not reach for more food just yet. Wait 20 minutes and reassess. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to really appreciate and acknowledge what you've put in your mouth. By that time, there may be no more growling demands.

6. Down-Size Your Plate
This is just the opposite of "super-sizing", the concept that got us all started gaining many excess pounds some time back. Instead of using a large dinner plate, use a salad plate to eat your main meals off of. My sister, Kathy, shared this idea with me and it has helped me start losing weight better than anything else. At first I thought that I would feel deprived, but when used in accordance with some of the other suggestions here, I am not suffering in the least and do not think about snacking in between meals. I am satisfied till the next meal. (Thanks, Kate!)

7. Eat a Sliver, Not a Slice
If you are tempted to eat a "healthy" dessert (that which is not deleterious to you health), instead of eating a full-on helping, eat only a tiny sliver. You will find that it will satisfy your sweet tooth, you will no longer feel deprived and yet your efforts to eat realistically will not have been in vain.
These realistic weight loss tips are helping me in the "battle of the bulge". Hope you are helped also! And for more info on the slenderizing benefits of coconut oil read this excellent article from Food Renegade.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Feet


How are you feet? Are they soft and supple like baby's or calloused, dry and cracked like Jumbo's? For years I had trouble with my feet and after a while I feared that they really had begun to resemble that great pachyderm's lower appendages.

Then I discovered the most amazing foot soak. You might ask, "Is it expensive?" and my answer would be "no". You might ask, "Is it difficult to find?" and my answer would be "no". In fact, you probably have this item in your house right now.

This wonder foot soak ingredient is white vinegar. Soaking your feet in vinegar will leave them soft and supple and feeling so rejuvenated. Not only that, but vinegar kills foot fungus (yes, athlete's foot) and toenail fungus (this makes your toenails a discolored yellow and they become very thick and crumbly); it boosts potassium levels (in fact, a potassium deficiency is responsible for callous formations on the soles of the feet); and dissolves plantar warts. Here's how to prepare the soak:

1. Fill a large plastic dish pan (or equivalent) with very warm water. For each gallon of water, add one cup of white vinegar (find it at Costco really cheap).

2. Put this pan of water on a large garbage bag by the couch.

3. Gather a bath towel, a hand towel, pedicure tools (nail clippers, file, nail scissors, pumice stone, etc.) and have handy on the couch.

4. Put on a good chick-flick, ease your feet into the soak and just relax for 30 to 45 minutes. As your feet soften, use the towels to remove dead skin from heels and callused areas of feet. Use tools to trim toenails, etc.

5. Repeat #4 one more time as you watch the movie.

6. If you want to rid yourself of plantar warts, soak your feet on a daily basis. Rub your feet with the towel after they have become soft. After a week or two you will notice that the little black warts are loosening their grip and can be rubbed away completely with a towel.

Baby your feet like this and they will be happy and thank you for such pampering.
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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Visit With Franziska for a Spell


Over at Franziska's Pantry you will find a recipe for the most splendid Baked French Toast. It can be mixed up the night before and refrigerated so that there is minimal work for you in the morning. It is also very versatile in that it can actually be used for a delicious dessert when served with whipped cream instead of maple syrup (or even a little of each). But there is one more reason why I really like this recipe. It makes at least 8 - 10 servings so whatever is leftover can be frozen for breakfasts in the days or weeks to come.

So mosey on over and visit with Franziska for a spell. She'd like to add some nutritious and delicious mouth-watering goodness to your morning. She loves visitors. In fact, her motto is "the more the merrier". Go on now! And tell her that The Good Woman sent you.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fixing Our Eyes and Ears Upon Jesus

"I will hear what God the Lord will say; for He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; but let them not turn back to folly." Psalm 85:8

A wide-margin Bible is such a great tool for encouragement. For as long as I can remember, I have had various wide-margin Bibles to use for study. As I read and meditate, I record spontaneous prayers and thoughts and the date in the margin of my Bible (I plan to pass these Bibles onto my children when I leave this world behind). At some later date, that prayer or thought might actually encourage me, like this morning's note on Psalm 85:8. On October 5, 2005, I wrote:
This verse (Psalm 85:8) is so appropriate! God has been convicting me of a certain bad habit I have - a sin - I should say. As I launched into it again yesterday, the Lord gently reminded me that I should turn from it but I kept right on going. Then within minutes, He made it clear to me that my sin was like the letting out of water. It spreads quickly and always seeks the lowest path of least resistance and it cannot be gathered back in once it has gone out. So from now on, I commit to "hear what the Lord will say, for He will speak peace" to me and I will not turn back to folly. Help me, Lord.
As I read that entry, I had no idea what that "bad habit" had been. I did not name it in my note (thankfully). But this I know, the Lord did speak peace to me concerning my sin. He did help me. Whatever it was, it is no more. He turned me from it.

However, since I continue to struggle with sin it is crucial that I listen to the Lord and keep my eyes on Him. He alone is my help in this conflict. Only Jesus can turn me from my folly to obedience and empower me to live a life that brings Him glory. Oh, how thankful I am that I am not left alone to do this work that is humanly impossible. But I can do it through Christ who strengthens me! I just need to keep looking at and listening to Him. Let us fix our eyes and ears upon Jesus!
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tidy Tip Tuesday - Now That's A-Peeling!

Making potato salad? If so, here is a video demo that a friend sent me about how to peel cooked potatoes effortlessly. This tip is so a-peeling (sorry) that after watching the video, I want to make potato salad just to try it out.



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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Franziska - Chapter Eight

Note: If you have not read Franciska's amazing story up to this point, you should do so now. Find chapters one through seven here. Start at the bottom of the page with chapter one.

It has been months since I last wrote about Franziska. The previous chapter dealt with Hermann's (her husband) death in 1933. This chapter will bring to a close Franziska's life.

During Hermann's two year struggle with cancer, he was cared for by a granddaughter, Martha. She lived with the couple while caring for Hermann and learned how to give the injections that Hermann needed at that time. She devoted herself to her grandparent's needs until Hermann passed away.

Franziska was 71 years old when she gave Hermann over to heaven. The couple had been married for a little over 50 years. How difficult it must have been for her to now be bereft of the one she had spent nearly all of her life with. She would really need to cling to her Heavenly Father now, in ways she had never imagined while her beloved husband was still with her.

I wonder about Franziska's health at this time since she obviously needed the granddaughter's help with Hermann. After Hermann's death, her grandson, Robert Max stayed for a while with his grandmother. Then she went to live with her son Frederick and his wife Lena for about three years.

At that time, a pastor who knew Franziska arranged for a second marriage to a man named C. A. Borchers, living in Bessie Oklahoma (this is the town my own mother was raised in). Unfortunately, he turned out to be a somewhat cruel man, mistreating and neglecting Franziska especially whenever she was ill.

But Franziska outlived her second husband. After his death, she went to live with my grandfather (her son) and grandmother, Herbert and Lena Meyer in Ingersoll, Oklahoma for some time. But eventually, because she developed symptoms for what we now know as Alzheimer's Disease, caring for her became too great a demand for my grandparents.

At this point her two daughters, Helen and Emma, traveled to Oklahoma to help care for their mother for several months in 1947. Shortly after that she was hospitalized at Western Oklahoma Hospital in Supply, Oklahoma. This is where she would spend the remainder of her days on earth.

Just four days before her 87th birthday she went home to be with her Savior. What a reunion must have followed with Hermann and all of her children that preceded her in death, one of which was her son, Rudolph, who had died exactly one year before her, on January 2, 1948.

Following is Franziska's obituary. This piece of information was the first writing I came upon concerning my great grandmother after my own father's death in 2003. This was after obtaining the family records that he'd had in his possession. Her obituary was such a grand discovery for me - realizing that just a few generations before me, a godly woman had lived a life that brought much glory to the God who first loved her.
Franziska’s Obituary

Franziska Agnes Meyer-Borchers, born on January 6, 1862 in Germany, was called to her eternal reward on January 2, 1949 at the Western Oklahoma Hospital at Supply, Oklahoma.

In her long and eventful life she experienced much joy and happiness, but also much grief and sorrow. At the tender age of 5, her mother passed away, overshadowing her life with a dark cloud. In her teen years she came under the influence of the gospel message, accepting Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and Lord. Upon her confession of faith she was baptized and joined the Konigstrasse Baptist Church in Berlin, Germany.

In 1882 she was married to Hermann Gustave Meyer, and in 1886 this young couple migrated to the United States, settling on a farm in South Dakota and later in La Salle, Colorado where her husband passed away in 1933. Three years after her first husband's death Franziska remarried. She was united to her second husband, the late C. A. Borchers from Bessie Oklahoma, in 1936.

Early in life she had made her choice to be a faithful, loyal and true follower of Christ, devoting much of her time and talents in sacrificial service to HIM who had done so much for her. She shed forth her Christian influence liberally as a good Sunday School teacher, young woman’s adviser and faithful president of the Ladies’ Aid for 25 years.

She was a devoted wife and a good mother, a fine Christian character and example. God blessed her with thirteen children, of whom six died at the ages of six and under. Two sons preceded Franziska in death a few years ago: Reinhold in 1942 and Rudolph in 1948. Five of her children survive her, along with 42 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grand child, as well as many Christian friends and neighbors.
I have hesitated in writing this final chapter because my great grandmother's last days were not so pleasant as you have seen. It pains me to think about this noble and gracious lady's difficult latter years without Hermann. But she dwells on high now and all is well.

I never met Franziska. I was born nine months after she died. She left a godly heritage - 13 children, 42 grandchildren, 47 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild. That adds up to 103 descendants at the time of her death. I include even the children that did not live but a few years for they are certainly worshiping the God who created them and ordained their days on the earth as well as the sons and daughters who grew to adulthood glorifying God, and who lived longer on this globe, also by the will of their Creator.

That makes me wonder how many more great, great-great, etc. grandchildren there are now. I am one more, not having been counted at the time of her death. But it comforts me to know that I had a great grandmother that prayed for the generations yet to be born as the Psalmist did (Psalm 78:5-7).

Her prayers for her unborn grandchildren included me and God honored her desires. For that I am eternally grateful to my Lord for He put me upon her heart ere she knew me. And as I write, I find myself lifting my grandchildren, those born and yet to be born to the same God, asking for the same thing that my precious grandmother asked for - that they might know and love the glorious and gracious God of creation and redemption.

How I would have loved to have known this regal daughter of the King, but our getting to know one another will have to happen in a different realm, beyond time and space. There, in that blissful city, we will have an eternity to "catch up".

But the greater wonder will be seeing Jesus, the Host of Heaven, the One who untied Franziska and myself in the family of God by His sacrificial death on the Cross. Yes, we are related by human blood, but we will be reunited by Christ's divine blood. It is because of our Savior that we will meet one day and enjoy one another's company in His very presence, never to part.
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Friday, March 20, 2009

In the Pantry - Healthy Fats and Oils


This pantry post is all about healthy fats and oils. I decided to devote an entire post to these elements of traditional foods since they are so important for health. Our supermarkets carry so many unhealthy oils that are cheap, but so very destructive to human health, causing untold amounts of free radical damage. We might pay a small out-of-pocket cost for these types of oils, but we are paying huge prices in terms of degenerative illnesses and medical expense.

And it's not only that these fats and oils directly damage our bodies, they also do not provide essential nutrients that we need in order to produce the bio-chemicals that maintain optimum health and a sense of well-being.

So without further ado, here is a list of the fats and oils that I keep stocked in my pantry:

Bottled Oils and Fats:
Extra virgin, cold or expeller expressed oils, such as olive, flax seed (buy only flax seed oil that has been refrigerated in dark bottles as this oil is very unstable [turns rancid quickly] if not kept cold), peanut oil, sesame oil, high-oleic expeller-expressed monounsaturated safflower or sunflower oil (these two are good for making mayonnaise, especially safflower oil, which is what I prefer). I find these oils at Trader Joe's (olive and sesame), at Whole Foods (safflower, peanut, flax seed).

Refrigerate all of the above oils in dark bottles except for extra virgin organic coconut and palm oils, which are fine to keep at room temp because they are extremely stable. (If you do not have dark bottles on hand, save dark wine bottles whenever you empty a bottle of wine, or if you do not drink wine, ask a friend who does to save her emptied bottles for you.)

Note: Never buy processed polyunsaturated oils (PUFAs), including canola oil or partially-hydrogenated (or hydrogenated) oils, such as shortening, and margarine, and never soybean oil even if it is cold-pressed because of a myriad of toxins, carcinogens, anti-nutrients, and phytoestrogens.

PUFAs have a deleterious effect upon human health. This is partly because these oils are very unstable - they oxidize or turn rancid very quickly when exposed to air, heat and light. The processing of PUFAs involves high heats for prolonged periods, which renders the oil rancid and a grayish murky color. In order to make the end product pleasing to the eye and odorless, the oil is then bleached and deodorized. Hexane gas (a solvent similar to gasoline) is also added during the processing of PUFAs and then boiled off, but residues remain and have been detected in human breast milk. Link here for an excellent article about the many dangers of PUFAs, and here to read about the reasons why PUFAs contribute significantly to weigth gain.

Coconut Oil: Rather than re-invent the wheel, I will refer you to a good site that will explain the numerous benefits of this wonderful oil. This is one of the healthiest oils on the face on the earth. In fact, many real food nutritionists consider it to be the healthiest, most healing oil there is.

Butter: Raw, organic butter from grass-fed cows is best, though I do not buy it because it is so pricey. I stock organic, pasteurized butter from grass-fed cows (this next best), which I get at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods (if I have a coupon). Butter can be kept at room temperature for a few days as it is fairly stable and will not oxidize quickly. This applies to butter that you use on toast, etc. Refrigerate butter still in the wrapper.

Duck Fat: This delicious to cook with. I used to stock it, but no longer have a source for it, though I keep looking. Buy use only that which is from a healthy animal (see note below).

Beef Fat (called "Suet"): Whenever I make beef stock, I take the suet off the top of the stock (refrigerate stock after it's finished and cooled and the fat will collect on top, making it easy to remove.) Suet is one of the fats I might use when I saute beef or need to add fat to a beef or other red meat dish.) Buy use only that which is from a healthy animal (see note below). This is an inexpensive fat to use since it would ordinarily be a discarded waste product. Refrigerate suet.

Chicken Fat (called Schmaltz): Everything said about suet (beef fat) above is true for schmaltz. It is a product of bone stock make from the chicken carcass. Remove the fat as for beef stock above. It is another inexpensive good fat. Refrigerate schmaltz after rendering it from the stock.

Lard (fat from pigs): Do not cringe in disbelief! I love lard for adding a wonderful flavor to dishes. It is a healthy fat to use as long as it comes from a healthy animal (see note below). I render my own lard from the fat that is included in the pork order that we purchase from a local farmer. Also, just a warning about the so-called lard that is available in the supermarkets: it is partially hydrogenated which absolutely ruins whatever good qualities it might have had to begin with, not to mention that it came from an animal that was raised in unhealthy conditions. Keep lard refrigerated.

Bacon drippings: Another source of inexpensive good fat is bacon drippings. After frying bacon (do not overcook - bacon should not be crispy), from a healthy animal (see note below), strain off the drippings (fat) into a jar. Use for many different dishes - any kind of beans, creamed corn, etc. Keep bacon drippings refrigerated.

Note: A healthy animal is one that has been raised on organic pasture and not given antibiotics, steroids or hormones. These kinds of animals are usually raised by small farmers committed to humane and healthy practices. Click here to link to Eat Wild, a resource for finding a listing of these kind of farms in your area.

For a great video explaining good and bad oils, go here to the Food Renegade.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tidy Tip Tuesday - Some Common Substitutions

Having discovered that she's out of pasta with dinner guests arriving
in 20 minutes, Jean is forced to use the kid's macaroni necklaces.

Have you ever been faced with Jean's situation? You're out of an ingredient and cannot just run to the store? It's good to know that there are alternatives to the ingredient you're missing. Check out the ones I have listed below and then visit the link at the bottom of the post for more substitutes.


No buttermilk?
For one cup of buttermilk, substitute:
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar (white or cider) plus enough milk to make 1 cup (let stand for 5-10 minutes)
or 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
or 1 cup sour cream
or 1 cup milk plus 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar

No ricotta cheese?
For one cup of ricotta cheese, substitute:
1 cup dry cottage cheese

No fresh herbs?
For one tablespoon of fresh herbs, substitute:
1 teaspoon of dried herbs

No ketchup?
For one cup of ketchup, substitute:
1 cup tomato sauce, plus 1 teaspoon vinegar, plus 2 teaspoons organic maple syrup

No hot pepper sauce?
For 1 teaspoon of hot pepper sauce, substitute:
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus 1 teaspoon vinegar

For more substitutions visit this link.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Moving Movies

Are you as disappointed in the movies that are promoted these days as I am? If so, here is a short list of some that will inspire you:

Northanger Abbey
Wives and Daughters (from Masterpiece Theater)
Jane Eyre
Cranford (from Masterpiece Theater)
Mansfield Park
Emma
Oliver Twist (for the link to Oliver Twist at Masterpiece Theater click here)
The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982 version with Jane Seymour)
Sense and Sensibility (with Emma Thompson)


Many of these suggestions came from my most faithful commenter and reader, Anne. (Thanks Anne for these titles.)

Most, if not all of these movies, can be had through Netflix. This is the easiest and most inexpensive way of viewing movies that I know of. Hope you enjoy these. Also, please leave a comment with your own suggestions and I will post them too.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bad Morning Anyone?

Can you relate to this video when it comes to having a bad morning? Though I've not really experienced this particular situation, I have had mornings that result in the same kind of miserable beginning. Oh, just to be able to go back to bed and start again, but alas, life must go on. On these kinds of mornings a simple look heavenward to Jesus gives us the grace to go forward - with a smile. (Though this is a commercial, I thought the laugh was worth posting the video.)



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Monday, March 9, 2009

Tidy Tip Tuesday - Garbage Disposals and Broom Handles

Today's tidy tip is one I've known and used for a long time. My dad taught me this trick concerning garbage disposals:

Once in a while the garbage disposal gets jammed. This happened to me today, so I did what my dad taught me to do: get the broom! Place the end of the broom handle (a wooden broom handle works the best) in the garbage disposal at an angle so that it fits snug against the rotors (or whatever they are called - you know the metal parts that turn and grind the food). Next, turn the broom handle so that it forces those rotors to move. Most of the time I cannot tell that anything happened, but I stop and try the garbage disposal and nine times out of ten it works again.

One other thing to remember about garbage disposals (also from my dad) - and this will make yours last longer - whenever you run it, always run the cold water also. This helps to keep the motor in the garbage disposal cool and forces the ground up food through the pipes faster and more efficiently.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cookware - What is Safe, What is Not?

Here is a question from a reader:
Do you have any tips on buying cookware? I read and heard about using certain cookware with certain coatings having an association with risks for cancer. I am really confused about what is considered "safe" to use.
Most "newfangled cookware is not safe to use. Have you ever noticed what a slightly used Teflon pan looks like? There is always Teflon missing. Teflon pans always loose the coating and guess where it goes? That's right - into the air you breathe and food you've cooked. You either breathe it in or ingest it into your digestive tract. There are as many as 15 different chemicals that can offgass or end up in your food. At least one of these - perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA) also known as C-8 - will never break down in the environment. It is a likely carcinogen (causes cancer).

Here is an excerpt from The Environmental Working Group about the studies that they conducted on Teflon coated cookware:
In two to five minutes on a conventional stovetop, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases linked to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year, according to tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG).
In new tests conducted by a university food safety professor, a generic non-stick frying pan preheated on a conventional, electric stovetop burner reached 736°F in three minutes and 20 seconds, with temperatures still rising when the tests were terminated. A Teflon pan reached 721°F in just five minutes under the same test conditions, as measured by a commercially available infrared thermometer. DuPont studies show that the Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 464°F. At 680°F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. At temperatures that DuPont scientists claim are reached on stovetop drip pans (1000°F), non-stick coatings break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analog of the WWII nerve gas phosgene.
Click here to read the rest of the article.

Alternative cookware includes stainless steel, cast iron, and baked enamel cookware or porcelain cookware (however, it is important to make sure that there are no chips in the enamel). There is no offgassing with any of these. (Never use aluminum to cookware either as it has been linked to Alzheimers disease.)

Personally, I use cast iron and good heavy-duty stainless steel. Though these can be expensive to buy new, they are easily found at garage sales and thrift shops. And of course when you are looking for good cookware in these places, it is inevitable that you will always see those horrid Teflon pans with most of the coating gone. Sends chills down my spine!

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Think-About-This-Thursday - Psalm 91:9

Think about this from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening for today:

"For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
even the Most High, your dwelling place."
— Psalm 91:9

The Israelites in the wilderness were continually exposed to change. Whenever the pillar stayed its motion, the tents were pitched; but tomorrow, ere the morning sun had risen, the trumpet sounded, the ark was in motion, and the fiery, cloudy pillar was leading the way through the narrow defiles of the mountain, up the hillside, or along the arid waste of the wilderness. They had scarcely time to rest a little before they heard the sound of "Away! this is not your rest; you must still be onward journeying towards Canaan!"

They were never long in one place. Even wells and palm trees could not detain them. Yet they had an abiding home in their God, His cloudy pillar was their roof-tree, and its flame by night their household fire. They must go onward from place to place, continually changing, never having time to settle, and to say, "Now we are secure; in this place we shall dwell." "Yet," says Moses, "though we are always changing, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place throughout all generations."

The Christian knows no change with regard to God. He may be rich to-day and poor tomorrow; he may be sickly today and well to-morrow; he may be in happiness today, tomorrow he may be distressed—but there is no change with regard to his relationship to God. If He loved me yesterday, He loves me today. My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord. Let prospects be blighted; let hopes be blasted; let joy be withered; let mildews destroy everything; I have lost nothing of what I have in God. He is "my strong habitation where unto I can continually resort." I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lessons from Sophie - Welcome Restrictions
















As I observe how my sweet little dog, Sophie, relates to me, she continues to be a model of what my relationship to Christ should be, though in a limited sense, of course. But the Lord created these animals and puts them before us for many different reasons. Jesus as the Good Shepherd over His sheep, has provided another picture of what we are like (stubborn sheep) in relation to Him (our faithful, protective overseer).

Sophie has an adverse allergy to fleas. Though we do all that is possible to keep fleas off of her, once in a while she gets one from being outside in the backyard. Now the flea doesn't even have to bite her to cause her a great deal of grief. Hers is a contact allergy. As soon as the flea is present, she begins to itch and scratch furiously.

Because of this, once in a while we must put a protective cone around Sophie's neck and head. This restricts her from biting and chewing on herself. In the past she has injured herself in an effort to relieve the itching. The funny thing about this is that though she looks so pitiful with the cone on her head, she really likes the thing. Whenever I need to put it on her, she willingly submits to me and even likes to wear it.

In fact, the other day Sophie did something that Robert and I thought was quite remarkable. She was wearing the cone and had gone outside to the backyard (she comes and goes through a doggie port in our bedroom door). While she was out, the cone popped open and fell off in the bushes somewhere. Robert or I usually retrieve the thing when this happens, but since it was raining out and since the cone is plastic and would not be damaged by the weather, we opted to get it once the rain had stopped. Sophie was doing alright without it by this time anyway.

Several days later, before the rain cleared up, we found the cone on our bedroom floor. Obviously it had not been there long since it was wet with rain. I had been in and out of the room all afternoon and had not tripped over it as it was right in front of the door. Robert spotted it and said, "Where did you find the cone?" I told him that I hadn't found or even looked for it. He then showed it to me - right there on the floor.

How did it get there? Sophie brought it in. That was the only explanation. She does that with her toys also, which isn't so surprising. But the cone? We were amazed and very amused.

By now I'm guessing that you are seeing the implications. The Lord puts certain restrictions on us to protect us. He is very personal about this with each one of His children. Perhaps I cannot do something that you have the freedom to do because it might be a temptation for me to sin.

We have a friend who cannot play the game of darts. He becomes very competitive and gets angry if he loses. Rather than continuing to be put in temptation's way, he decided just to give up the game of darts. That's the kind of restriction I'm thinking of. Of course, you can probably think of some other kind of restriction.

The apostle Paul had what he called "a thorn in the flesh". This was some kind of physical irritant that caused him a great deal of discomfort so that he asked the Lord three times to remove it. But God put it on him to keep him from the sin of pride. He had seen such glorious revelations from the Lord. He said, "And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to buffet me - to keep me from exalting myself!" (2 Corinthians 12:7). This is another type of restiction that the Lord uses to keep us from sin - an actual physical distress.

The point is, how do we respond to the restrictions that God puts upon us? Do we grumble and complain? Do we fight against that divine caveat? Or do we thank Him for protecting us against our own destructive sin nature? If God were to lift the restriction would we jump for joy, knowing that we are still actually in need of that limitation? Would we then take advantage of that freedom to do the very thing that God meant to prevent?

I have no doubt what I would do in such a case. My heart is wicked beyond my knowing and I dare not trust it by thinking that I have matured beyond that original sinful inclination. I must learn to do what Sophie has - to welcome the restriction and even ask that it not be removed, knowing what my heart is capable of.

That is what the apostle Paul did. The Lord denied his pleas that the restriction be removed and told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

And just look how Paul rejoiced over the Lord's denial of the removal of this restriction, "Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Oh that I would say this when the Lord puts a divine limitation on me. I have a picture right in front of me in Sophie - my cute little cone-headed dog.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tidy Tip Tuesday - No More Moths

Years ago I really got into crafting dried floral arrangements, mainly swags to hang over a doorway. I don't do that anymore, but there was an unwelcome residue that remained - grain moths. Though I did not realize it at the time these pests were in some of the dried flowers that I purchased and brought into the house. Grain moths love dried plant material, seeds, dried fruits, nuts, wheat, dried pet food, essentially any food or plant stuffs that are dried. They spread to my kitchen and before long were in boxes of cereal, in the flour bin, in the cornmeal, etc. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to get rid of them to no avail.

Then when we moved from one town to the neighboring town, into our present home, we brought the little buggers with us, though they were greatly reduced in numbers from all my efforts.

Sometime thereafter on a shopping trip to Home Depot I discovered the answer to this problem - Safer (brand) moth traps - called The Pantry Pest Trap (as seen to the right). These are sticky traps with a strong pheromone (insect hormone) attractant. Moths fly to the trap, attracted by the scent (only they can smell it) and then are trapped on the sticky surface. Goodbye grain moths!

I really like these traps for several reasons:
1. They really work! I have not seen a single moth for several years now.
2. They are non-toxic. You can use them in your kitchen (right next to the flour or cornmeal, etc.) without concern for food safety.
3. They are inexpensive.

Though the moths are gone from my home, I continue to keep some traps in my kitchen cabinets just in case the sneaky little pests make their way through my front door again.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

My Menu Plan for the Week Weak

This week I am not posting a menu plan because we are actually eating what I had planned for last week. This is due to the fact that my back began to give me grief last Monday (first time I've had back problems). My back is probably unhappy because the cartilage is gone in my right knee and I am now undergoing physical therapy for the same. And I'm fairly certain that the new leg brace I'm wearing is the other contributor. You know ..."the knee bone's connected to the back muscles..." sort of thing. I am scheduled to have knee replacement surgery, but there is a six month waiting list. In the meantime I am having loads of fun hobbling around with the brace (it covers most of my leg and squeaks when I walk), learning to exercise an already painful knee joint and discovering muscles in my back (unhappy they are) that I never knew existed.

The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be; and I keep saying about getting older, "You have be to strong to get weak". (BTW, if you'd like to know about the traditional therapy I am using to help my condition, click here [strongly suggest you do so]. I am sure it will give you a lift also.)

However, I am learning to give thanks for these blessings of weakness. They are the Lord's sanctifying tools more than anything else. He is working on me and I understand exactly what He is doing. Though it is not always true that I am "in the know" so to speak, this time He has made it very evident to me. So in my weakness, I have been crying out to Him to strengthen me.

This is what the apostle Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. He had some sort of physical weakness which the Lord would not remove and He told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness." In response Paul said, "Therefore I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

So though it is true that in this game of getting older, one must be strong to get weak, it is more true that in order to be strong, one must first be weak. In that state, when we surrender to God's purposes, His empowering grace truly is sufficient for our needs.

Anyway, this week I am actually making most of last week's menus - that's my plan. Check back next week and there should be a post for the menus for the weak week.

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