Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Swimming Like a Champ

I swim 25 laps at least three times a week normally. During the past few weeks, I've usually only made it to the pool once. On Sunday, I swam 21 laps (that's continuous, no breaks). I discovered I had a cheering section once I had showered and changed. A sixty-five-year-old woman and her husband were walking the indoor track which is on the floor above the pool. The walkers can see the pool from one part of the track. Anyway, she and her husband were impressed, assuring themselves that I must be in excellent shape. (I'm not, in my own opinion.) She has had both knees replaced and needed encouragement to switch from walking to swimming.

Okay, back to my point ... I swam 21 laps on Sunday. Last night I swam 30!! I could have gone on and on, if it weren't for a slight discomfort in my right shoulder ( I had done strength training the night before.) I am attributing the increase in stamina to the switch to raw foods. When I got home, I still had lots of energy; I never felt sleepy. I just finally turned out the light around 11:45 pm., just because. This is really great!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Raw Food - Progress Report

Are you wondering how I'm doing? Well, just great. I've lost 2.2 pounds since Friday morning and I don't have any cravings, yet, oddly enough.

What do I eat? Well, so far, I usually have a green smoothie for breakfast (more later on that), then for the rest of the day I eat salads, fruit, mock tuna or live burgers (more later on that, too) as a sandwich with raw soup or packed in a tomato. I've only drank tea and water so far except for a wine cooler Saturday night.

I don't miss coffee or meat. This is really too good to be true.

Oh, as far as the stiffness I was experiencing...I haven't had a bit of problems. No stiffness at all!!! I haven't taken an anti-inflammatory since last Friday.

I'm spending a lot of time reading recipe books right now and I am excited about trying new recipes. As soon as my daughter sends me her hand-me-down digital camera, I be able to take some pics of my creations. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Going Raw

I've been experiencing stiffness in my knees and then all over for the last three months. In September, my knees felt like they did when I tore my meniscus a few years ago. Something was whacked.

At the time, I had been taking some herbal supplements (prescribed by a naturopathic doctor about one month before onset of the symptoms), so I stopped and concentrated on supplements for joints. The condition improved, so I started the herbal supplements again. It really is a long story so I'll just cut to the chase.

My naturopathic doctor interpreted one of my blood test as indicating kidney damage; my GP repeated the test and said I'm fine. He ordered me to stop taking the herbal supplements to which at this point I was in total agreement. I suspect the supplements contributed to what's going on in my body.

Anyway, I'm still experiencing stiffness so after some thought, I've decided to switch to raw foods. I've read a lot about it and believe I can relieve this stiffness by changing my blood pH through this diet change. I will be experimenting with different recipes and will share those that I think are delish. Here's one, so far.

Mock Tuna Salad

For the salad:
3 cups of soaked raw sunflower seeds, ground in a food processor
3 to 4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 bunch scallions, diced
2 tablespoons dulse flakes
1/4 cup dried dill

For the dressing
1 1/2 cups Thai coconut water
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups raw macadamia nuts, cashews, pine nuts, or a combination
1/2 cup stone-ground mustard

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the salad ingredients and toss to mix.
In a high-speed blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients and blend thoroughly. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss to mix well and serve.

Serves 4.

Notes: Soak the sunflower seeds in water for 2 to 4 hours. Drain and dry.
Dulse is a sea vegetable and can be found at Good Foods Co-op.
I didn't have any scallions and used a little diced onion instead.
I think scallions will be better.
I made half of this recipe using half of the garlic; I would use less garlic
next time. I used cashews for the dressing. It is absolutely delish.
I used coconut milk since I didn't find any coconut water.
And finally, even though I like dill I did not and would not use as much as
the recipe recommends.

I had this on a bed of salad greens and sliced tomato for lunch. Excellent.
At another time, I made a sandwich. It was as good as tuna salad for me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

I try to remember during this time of year to give thanks and reflect on the reasons for our celebrations. It is easy to get lost in preparation decisions, such as to brine or not to brine the turkey, what sides should I prepare, do I dare to plan to exercise on Thursday, etc. But today, sitting in front of my computer and prompted by a friend's blog, I am pausing to give thanks:

For a loving family and loyal friends

For a good-paying job and friendly workplace

For a good church and pastors who preach the uncompromising word of God

For being born and living in this country, where I can and do vote, where I can walk the streets without threat of armed troops and bombs, where I sleep soundly in peace

For my daughter (whom I was sure I had failed to raise to be a decent, responsible human being) who has proved me wrong a hundred times over in the last year

For Jesus Christ, my savior. Yeah, corny, isn't it?

Take time to give thanks. It's the pathway to the gates of heaven.(Ps. 100:4)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

They Called Him a Drunk!

I have a friend who chastises me for not posting more frequently. Sometimes, I just don't have anything to share; other times I just want to keep my thoughts to myself. So why have a blog?, you ask. I have no good response. I think I'll just have to get over myself. My biggest fear is being labelled a heretic because of my musings on scriptures. Today is one of those days.

Many times, I have heard preached from the pulpit that Jesus did not drink wine. Each time I heard that, certain scriptures would come to mind that seemed to contradict that judgement. Last night I read yet one more - Matthew 11:19 - where Jesus, himself, said, "The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners..." What was he drinking that would have others call him a drunkard? It wasn't Kool-Aid. Another scripture is John 2:9-10, describing Jesus turning water into wine, "When the host of the wedding tasted the water that had become wine (he didn't know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew) he called out to the bridegroom, 'Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings the cheap stuff. But you've saved the best till now'" Again, I say, he is not describing Kool-Aid.

So what's my point? I think we need to read scripture with the understanding Jesus came to earth as a man. He was tempted in every way we that we are, BUT without sin.(Hebrew 4:15)He came to earth to show us how we may live. (John 10:10) But I think we'll miss all He was trying (and is still trying) to teach us if we look at the scriptures through eyes of a Pharisee. We make rules about drinking wine and then make Jesus conform to that rule. I've always thought it rather humorous that drinking is not permitted but gluttony is. Ever noticed how many overweight Christians there are? One "sin" is not worse than another. There is no hierarchy. Besides if you are going to live your life by The Law, as soon as you break one law you are guilty of breaking them all.(James 2:10)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Did Mary Really Know?

As I read Luke, chapters 1 through 3 today, I paused to reflect about Mary. In the second chapter of Luke, I read that Mary and Joseph were fulfilling purification laws dating back to the days of Moses. They presented Jesus to the priests, offering him back to God as required of firstborn sons. There was this guy (named Simeon) in the temple who had been praying and awaiting something spectacular. When Mary and Joseph appeared with their baby, Simeon "knew" his waiting was over. He prophesied over Jesus; Mary and Joseph were amazed. Why were they amazed?

Gabriel himself had visited Mary to tell her what was going to happen to her. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him to marry Mary in spite of her pre-marital prenancy. Mary's cousin, Elizabeth (while pregnant with John) calls her the "mother of my Lord." Shepherds visited Mary and Jesus while he was still a baby, led there by heralding angels. Scholars, led by a star and confirmed by Herod's inquiry of high priests and scholars, brought gifts when he was a child, presumably close to two years of age. And then, Mary and Joseph were "surprised" once again when Jesus himself (at the age of 12) told them he was tending to his "Father's" business.

How can all this happen and yet have a mother not really know who her son was?

I'm trying to put myself in her place. Okay, so an angel comes to me telling me I am going to get pregnant without intercourse. Okay, so I don't argue with the angel. If my old cousin Elizabeth can get pregnant, so can I, if God says so. Besides, the angel said in so many words, this son of mine is going to be a ruler (think worldly, not spritually). So what do I do now? I know! Run! So I go to visit my old pregnant cousin for 3 months. When I return to Bethlehem, I've got to realize by then I'm pregnant; I've missed three periods. I tell Joseph. He seeks to put me away privately until God tells him in a dream it's okay to marry me because my pregnancy is His idea.

So from this point on, I have to imagine being pregnant but not by the man I've married. I imagine a kind of loneliness. Think about it! Who can I discuss this with? Joseph married me, but does he share my joy and uncertainty? When the baby kicks in my womb, do I run to him and place his hand on my belly? Surely, the neighbors are talking and counting the months on their fingers. We just got married; how can I be so big with child?

So comes the time to give birth. I am still in wonder. Is this really going to happen? What is this baby going to look like? Will Joseph love him, too? The baby is born. He looks normal. Shepherds pay a visit. Angels told them about my son? Why? Have I forgotten the angel's exact words by now? Maybe. Because a few days later when we go to the temple and Simeon prophesied over him, I am amazed. My son is really going to be great?

So now, fast-forward through a fearful move to Egypt; dealing with sleepless nights with a crying, pooping baby; endless "diaper" changes; teaching him to walk and talk; weaning him; and dealing with a pre-teen runaway. I think just like us, Mary got lost in the day-to-day cares of living. I think, because she was mothering a human being, not a "God with us", she could only partly "know" who Jesus was. I think day-to-day concerns overpowered what little she understood of the words delivered by the angel.

It's easy for us in our day and time, sitting comfortably in our easy chairs reading the gospels to clearly "get it." But Mary didn't have scripture from the New Testament laid before her to read and examine. And I believe her revelation was limited. So, I've decided to cut her some slack.

I wonder what revelations would unfold if I had the opportunity to read the gospel of my life.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. Luke 2:19, 51

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Strawberry Torte

My daughter called me a couple of weeks ago to get a recipe that I could not find - Strawberry Torte. I haven't made this dessert in over five years. Why not? I have no idea. It would have helped if she had requested it sooner. Maybe it's because I had moved and lost the paper copy of the recipe. Anyway, I searched and searched through all my printed recipes to no avail. And I was disappointed; this was a knock-out dessert. So she punted and made a reasonable facsimile of it.
I'm on vacation this week. Out of nowhere, a thought came to me directing me to search for a disk that may have the recipe on it. Voila!! Here it is! As I told my friend today, this is what retirement must be like. My brain is free to think of things like this. You must try it.

But first, I must tell you I've had this recipe for a few years. I would modify it somewhat according to my current dietary "laws." I would make whipped cream from scratch - sue me!! The original recipe called for margarine - an absolute no-no in my house. Secondly,some amounts of ingredients are not specified. I'm guessing at the amount of strawberries needed and I don't know the amount of glaze. Get a small container. And I'm guessing the total amount of Cool Whip needed must be a small container, because some gets mixed into the cream cheese layer and some goes on top of the strawberries. And finally, I don't recall ever using coconut. It still is delish!!

I know. I know. For you precise cooks, this is somewhat unsettling. One of my friends says that she expects one day my kitchen is going to explode. I am not afraid of experimenting.

Strawberry Torte

1 cup flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
2 T. sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Mix together and spread in 9x9 pan. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 F. Let cool.

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup Cool Whip
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix and spread on cool crust.

Mix fresh strawberries (about 1 1/2 - 2 cups) and strawberry glaze. Spread over cream cheese layer. Spread remainder of Cool Whip on top of strawberies. Sprinkle with coconut. Let chill several hours.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My "Baby" is 28.

Yup. It's official - I am getting old. My daughter is turning 28 on Saturday. Just this morning, as I was driving to work, I thought, "Wow! Twenty-eight years ago I was still pregnant, ready to give birth and get on with being a Mom." I had no idea what I was in for.

You see, my daughter was a non-compliant child. She was good-natured and a good baby, really, so I was unprepared for the radical changes that began at around age 4 and continued until she was about 19. That's when she woke from her mom-defying stupor and discovered what I had been saying to her for years: "I'm on your side," or "I am not your enemy."

When she was a toddler and going through her there's-a-monster-under-my-bed stage, I would comfort her with,"Don't worry, dear. The only monster in this house is me." Now, for those of you gasping right now, know that she got the message. No harm would ever come to her on my watch.

She finally left the nest last year to attend Rhema Bible School. The first night we slept on the floor of her unfurnished apartment. While she lay sleeping, I realized I was the same age(26) when I left Kentucky for the new frontier of New Jersey and the adventures of a new life. I cried. I am so proud of her. She is a star; her nickname is Diva.

Happy birthday, Diva!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

On Life and Death

My sister-in-law nursed my brother during his illness and was with him (along with my nephew) when he drew his last breath. That may sound dreary or depressing to some, but it wasn't like that for either of them. It was peaceful because he was at peace. My sister-in-law, OJ, said you try to imagine what it's going to be like but death is not what you think. One last sound and the person is no longer there. "Where did you go"?, she asked as she kissed him one last time. A body is just a house.
When you hear the word CANCER, your biggest enemy becomes FEAR. When they heard the diagnosis nearly two years ago, my brother and OJ prayed right away and put their lives in the hands of God. My sister has been diagnosed with lung cancer twice so she knows full well about overcoming fear, too. Eighteen years ago, about a month after my mother died of cancer, I heard the word TUMOR. Strange as it seems, I could feel fear attempting to come in but I remained at peace. The doctor looked at me strangely, waiting for me to break down. I never did. Why? Because almost instantly, I remembered something God spoke to me years before: "Take care of your daughter." I took comfort and firm assurance in those words sitting in the doctor's office. I wasn't leaving this earth just yet; a dead mother cannot care for her daughter. And since God told me to take care of her, I knew He was taking care of me. The tumor was benign.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff comfort me." Psalm 23:4

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Okay, so back to me.
I am the middle child, whatever that means. I've read books about birth order and I still think I behave more like the oldest daughter than the middle child. My brother was the oldest; unfortunately, he died in August of 2008. So now, I'm the oldest. That is just too strange.
I have a "much younger" sister (her words, not mine; we are only 13 months apart in age) who is a journalist. She already blogs but this is all new to me.
My brother was an engineer and pretty much behaved like one. He was a computer geek of sorts, too. He was the hub of the family wheel, keeping everyone in touch with everyone else in the event of birthdays, anniversaries and the like. After his funeral, three of us decided we'd better step up to the plate. Hence, one reason for my blog.
My good friend Danielle just nudged me and told me I was falling behind with this blogging business, so I'm trying to do better.
Please stay tuned.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Just a Little About Me

I am a single, 58-year-old woman, the mother of one. I am now working in my second career, bond accounting, after having a successful 25-year career as a blood-banker. I decided to start a blog because I was so impressed with the blogs I've read that are so well-written and so very informative. It's a way of leaving my comfort zone, of not spending so much time alone - my favorite pasttime. I decided to call my blog, "A String of Pearls" because I hope that that is what I will be sharing with you - pearls of wisdom. Whenever I have been consistent in my prayer life, I prayed more for wisdom and revelation than anything else. I hope that doesn't sound conceited because I certainly am not. You see, wisdom comes from the Lord. I cannot take any credit for simply listening and obeying.

I enjoy crafts, cooking, exercising and researching natural health issues. My favorite exercise is swimming laps, but Michael Phelps I am not. I read a lot of recipes but then go in the kitchen and create my own thing. I still cook too much; I've yet to adjust to my empty nest.