Sunday, September 29, 2013

Happy Autumn Blessing

Autumn Foliage
Happy Autumn, dear friends! May this fall season bring you great joy, abundant harvests, harmonious relationships and a closer walk with God. Here in Maryland the foliage is just starting to turn.
Autumn Crocuses
Down at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington D.C. today I saw these autumn crocuses blooming through some green ground cover.
Purple Berry Bush
I'm not sure the true name of the berry bush pictured above but I've heard it called "beauty berry." The berries are tiny but lovely.
Blazing Orange Flowers
Also not sure what this bright orange flower is but it looks almost tropical. I included it in this happy autumn post more for it's color than it's plant type. I'm enjoying the cooler air, quieter days (no heat or air conditioning needed so far this fall, although that may change at any time) and beautiful colors that come with autumn. May God bless you this autumn and always!

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Autumn flowers:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Jesus Calling" Through the Stomach Flu

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

This week I've been battling the stomach flu, the worst migraine headache of my life, asthma problems and more health challenges. During the times I could read, the Holy Bible and Jesus Calling by Sarah Young have been a great comfort. When I was unable to anything but huddle in the dark, memorized scripture verses, prayer and communing with God helped enormously. No matter what happens on earth I believe I will spend eternity with the one true living God. Praise the Lord!

I checked out Jesus Calling from my local library and have been aiming to read enough entries per day so I can finish it before it's due back (we have a very generous renewal policy, as long as no one else has a hold on the book). This morning I read the entry for July 31st and it really spoke to me. Even when I had the flu, could hardly breathe and was all alone at home, I found it really comforting to remember that Jesus is "both in you and within you ... [and] with you at all times, encouraging and supportive."

For me personally, illness is a sign from God (or maybe Jesus calling to say) that I need to slow down, focus on Him and really trust in His provision. I'd rather be healthy! But God will work everything for my good (Romans 8:28), not in my temporal, human perspective, but in His all knowing, eternal perspective. As Sarah Young interprets Jesus' words, "My Peace is your continual experience. Slow down your pace of living for a time. Quiet your mind in My Presence. Then you will be able to hear Me bestowing the resurrection blessing: Peace be with you."

In my darkest hour, Jesus is my comfort. I'm very thankful to be on the healing side of the flu and able to share these thoughts with you... but regardless, I want my life to glorify Jesus. I fail miserably and regularly, yet He loves me as I am, is with me wherever I go and He loves you just as much as He loves me. Do you know Him as your Savior? If you're not sure I encourage you to visit this nondenominational site that has volunteers available 24/7 to help you ensure your eternal home. May God bless you and keep you!

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

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Friday, September 20, 2013

County Fair Photos, Haikus and Results

My county's fair was fun this year and I had a great time entering exhibits and was pleasantly surprised to win 45 ribbons (21 blue, 16 red and 8 white). I entered 41 flowers (including flower arrangements), 17 crafts (combined handicrafts, Christmas corner and needle crafts) and 8 herbal items. Above is our blue ribbon coleus (we have a lot of coleus plants but this one in our deep shade garden was the healthiest looking).
I think this is the third year (of three years total and ever) that our tithonia, grown from seed, won a blue ribbon at the fair. The first two years I thought they were zinnias but the judges knew better.
On the top left you can see my "we're thankful for" clothespin wreath. There were some creative wreath entries in the handicrafts department.
Our blue ribbon winning lantana bush is partially photographed above. If you look closely you can see some animal life on one of the flowers.
Some of our marigolds won blue ribbons, but not this one, even though it's my favorite. I think it won a red ribbon though.

Here are the county fair haiku poems I wrote and mentioned in the title of this post:

It's fun to enter
flowers, herbs, crafts and photos
as fair exhibits

You can compete to
win ribbons and prize money;
maybe best in show!

Do you enter in your county fair? Do you attend your county fair? What's your favorite part of the fair? May God bless all of the fair volunteers and may He bless you too!

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Fair frenzy:
Toilet decorating contest:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pam's Korean Cat Photos

My dear friend Pam and I are cat lovers and it was no surprise for me to see pictures of cat art and cat fun while we viewed her Korean trip photos. What was a surprise was the Cat Cafe. These brilliant Korean entrepreneurs have a place where people who want to interact with feline friends but can't (maybe they're traveling or have an allergic roommate) can come and enjoy some cat love. Pam was able to get her feline fun fix at the Cat Cafe (pictured above).
Here's a friendly Cat Cafe resident.
If you look closely you can see some "lucky cat" figurines in this Korean vendor's workspace.
 Pam found these pretty cat sculptures in a Korean art museum.
 I'm tempted to find a way to make my own version of these cute Korean cat figurines.
Pam even found some cat art on a busy Korean street. I think cat lovers are a global force for good. A hearty thank you to Pam for sharing her photos! May God bless Pam, her own feline friends and may He bless you too!

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Korea Through Pam's Eyes (Photo Tour)

Korean temple photo by Pam, used with permission
My dear friend Pam recently returned from a fun filled trip to Korea and she kindly shared her photos. When I saw the amazing Korean temple landscape photo above I knew I had to do a blog post with some of her Korean sights. I hope you enjoy this mini photo tour of Korea through Pam's eyes!

Korean temple guard photo by Pam, used with permission
Pam got to see demonstrations by both armed and musical Korean temple guards in their brightly colored uniforms.
Korean dragon statue photo by Pam, used with permission
Pam's visit to Korea included lots of art, including this striking dragon statue with lovely shaped trees in the background.
Korean nightscape photo by Pam, used with permission
 Pam snapped this Korean nightscape photo in the city of Busan.

Beautiful Korean shoreline photo by Pam, used with permission
Pam's photo of this slice of Korean seascape reminds me a little of Big Sur, California (one of my favorite places on earth).
Pam in Korea, photo used with permission
Here's my lovely friend Pam at Beomeosa Temple, the only seaside temple in Korea. A hearty thank you to Pam for sharing her photos! I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. If you like Korea and you like cats, be sure to watch for my next post with more of Pam's photos (all cat themed)!

May God bless Pam and may He bless you too!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mindfulness Experiments

I've recently started what I hope to become a series of mindfulness experiments. In September I'm focusing on mindful eating. It's a process for sure. Right now I'm doing great if I last a few minutes per session. Eventually I'd like to work up to all my solo meals being mostly mindfully eaten (it's a lot harder with others present but in those cases I'll focus on mindfully enjoying the company). I haven't planned my future experiments yet but I think adding more mindfulness to my daily living will enrich my walk with God, my relationships, my health and general well being. So it's worth the experiment.

I've been saying grace (thanking God for the food before eating it) for many years but mindful eating goes far beyond that to really savoring each bite, focusing on all of your senses while eating, not doing anything but eating (maybe some soft music in the background, but nothing distracting). A mindfulness exercise I learned from Leo of Zen Habits is to be thankful not just for the food and the hands that prepared it, but also for everyone involved in getting it to our table. I'm mostly vegan so to me this generally means the Lord for providing life itself and our planet, the farmers who grew the food, the workers who tended and harvested it, the shippers who transported it, the clerks who stocked it, the cashier who rang up our purchase, my husband for making it, the sun for shining down on it while it was growing, the rain and soil nutrients that nourished it... you get the idea. As a Christian, I give thanks to God for all of this because everything good comes from Him.

To help me with my mindful eating practice and hold myself accountable to others for performing it daily, I added "mindful eating" as a habit on Lift. Today when I read the "Smile, breathe and go slowly" quote by Thich Nhat Hanh I decided to add it to my preying mantis picture (above) and share it with you all. The photo reminds be to be mindful and take things slowly. Had I not been mindful on my walk the day I took that picture I never would have noticed the cleverly camouflaged preying mantis. Mindfulness brings many blessings. If you have ideas on increasing mindfulness, especially being mindful while eating, I'd love to hear them!

May God bless you!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Egan's Backyard Retreat

My new friend Egan was kind enough to let me crash her yard with my camera. She has maximized the space in her little suburban back yard to make it not only a restful retreat but also a great producer of vegetables, herbs and flowers. In a space of about 20 x 20 feet she has managed to fit in several meandering paths, huge barrel planters for vegetables and flowers, a little herb garden, hanging plants and beautiful decor touches.
Even Clyde, her beautiful rescue cat wants to enjoy Egan's garden retreat! I love how she hides her trash can and compost bin with this trio of planters overflowing with foliage and flowers.
Egan graciously let me take this photo of her for you all even though she doesn't think she's photogenic (this is my hint for you all to comment and tell her how gorgeous she is! even without makeup and with her beautiful hair pulled back!).
This is the outside entrance to Egan's garden retreat. I love  how you're greeted with a little path and her mix of different foliage plants lining the path.
These peppers were growing in the barrel on the far left of the first picture (above). Egan's not only kind and beautiful - she's also genius gardener. Thank you Egan, for your friendship and for letting me share your beautiful back yard garden with the world!

May God bless Egan and may He bless you too!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Red Cardinal Feeds Baby (Movie Clip & Short Poem)

This morning my cat and I enjoyed watching a beautiful red cardinal feed its baby. The baby looks big but still opens its mouth for feeding like a tiny baby bird. The orange flowers you can see through the window our are tithonia (which I used to think were orange zinnias) I grew from seeds harvested from last year's plants. Isn't God's creation amazing!

Hope you enjoy this precious sight! I need to get a new camera as I've learned it's not possible to fix the spots on the sensor of this one but until I do, please excuse the spots.

Hungry Baby Cardinal Haiku Poem
Feed me! Feed me please!
Baby bird opens beak wide,
eats and begs for more. 

May God bless you!

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Easy Closets: Affordable Storage Solutions for Everyone - Book Review

I borrowed Creative Homeowner's Easy Closets: Affordable Storage Solutions for Everyone from my local library. I loved the excellent photos and step by step instructions, practical tips and attention to safety for the DIY projects. They show their DIY projects in such a way that they seem doable. There are are even a few DIY projects (like the pullout shelves pictured below) that I, a non-handy person, might be willing to tackle on my own. While "everyone" may not be able to afford their solutions I do think that most Americans would find something in this book that could help them better use their space.
These pullout shelves would be especially useful in my kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities but I might start with a tiny closet upstairs. The pullouts would make this previously useless corner closet a valuable storage area.
The photos in the book are nicer than my photos of them convey. The book is due back to the library today so I can't wait for better lighting but I think you can see enough to judge whether the book will interest you as much as it did me. As most professional organizers will tell you, however, it's better to get rid of your clutter before you organize. So, I'll likely check this book out again once I'm happy with my decluttering efforts and then put some of its ideas into action. I hope you enjoyed this book review and wish you every success!

May God bless you!

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Disclaimer: This post is my opinion only and I wasn't paid or asked to write it.