Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Butterfly, a Bee and a Bunch of Beautiful Flowers From My Maryland Garden

 I thought I'd celebrate the closing of July with a photo walk around our garden. Hope you enjoy my photos! Above is a double day lily. It has various shades of orange and the butterflies love it even though there wasn't one on it when I ambled by.
The bees have been going crazy over our marigolds. 
Butterflies have been enjoying our rose of Sharon (above), black eyed Susans, echinacea, lantana, zinnia, impatiens and more. Some days it seems the yard is filled with butterflies.
Above is one of our black eyed Susan plants. The ones in the sunny front yard do better than the ones in the shady back yard but the birds seem to enjoy the back yard ones more while the butterflies enjoy the front yards more.

So those are the highlights of our Maryland garden on an end of July hot and sunny afternoon. I hope you had an excellent July and wish you an even more excellent August! May God bless and keep you!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Anti-Depression Prayers

Image by lightfoot
This is a great prayer to pray over someone struggling with depression. Just substitute the "us" etc for the person's name. I prayed this over a friend and family member today and hope that others will also use it.
"O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust in
Your protecting love and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us,
for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand,
Your purpose,
Your will through all things."
By Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Here's what it would look like with a name put in. While God knows who we're praying over whether we use names or not, I think our belief is stronger when using someone's specific name before the Lord and that makes the prayer more powerful.
O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and Marie feels her weakness and helplessness,
give her the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help Marie to have perfect trust in
Your protecting love and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry her,
for, living close to You,
she shall see Your hand,
Your purpose,
Your will through all things.

And, just in case you'd like more prayer, here's another, less eloquent one, by me:
Dear Lord, 
Please be with my dear Sister in Christ. In the name of Jesus, free her from the depression that binds her, open her eyes to the truth and depth of your great love for her, and her great worth in Your sight. Let her feel your mighty power and strength at work in her heart, release her from all fear, all worry, and anything that keeps her from experiencing Your peace. Fill her with Your peace that passes all understanding and help her to be the strong, courageous, godly woman you created her to be. 
In Jesus' name, Amen.
May God release my Sister in Christ from her depression and may He bless you and keep you!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meatless: More Than 200 Of The Best Vegetarian Recipes - Book Review

I checked this book out from my local library yesterday and I already know it's one I want to purchase. It has a lot of beautiful pictures and delicious, healthy vegetarian recipes. With a quick perusal I identified 34 recipes I want to taste! That's not a great percentage of the 200+ total but it's enough to warrant buying the book. I've got multiple food allergies so will need to make substitutions in some of the recipes but many are doable without any changes.

I'm blessed with a husband who loves to cook dinner every night so the only cooking I need to do is for lunch (I'm still having healthy smoothies every morning for breakfast). Ideally, I'd like to start making a batch of soup to last throughout the week for lunch (I don't mind eating the same thing every day) each week (although I would want different soups each week). Do any of you already do this? I'd love to hear any tips you'd like to share!

This book has inspired me to make something next week (one of the luscious salads - it's currently too hot for the stove!) and, once the weather cools down, I'm especially excited about trying some of the healthy stews and soups.

The Spring Vegetable Ragout recipe, above, would make a tasty dinner and I thought you might like a sneak peek into the book.

I hope you enjoyed my review and wish you and those you love great health and happiness! May God bless and keep you!

Related Posts:

This post contains my own personal opinions; I wasn't asked or paid to write it and I'm not affiliated with anyone or thing mentioned in it.

Friday, July 19, 2013

4 Simple Tips for Better Sleep (and Getting to Bed Early)

Sleeping Baby Image by mbielik
1) Establish a relaxing nighttime/before bed ritual. Whatever works for you: a warm bath, reading soothing poetry, prayer, meditation or maybe mindfully setting your clothes out for the next day.
2) Turn all screens off a couple of hours before you plan to go to bed (if you can't bear to do it that early then an hour ahead or even half an hour ahead would still be beneficial).
3) "I Can Make You Sleep" book/cd (my review here) or perhaps another hypnosis for sleep program.
4) If needed, set a calm-sounding alarm to remind you to turn off your screens and/or start your nighttime ritual so you start them in time to be done before your desired bed time.

Hope one or more of these tips help you! May God bless you and give you pleasant nights of deep, refreshing sleep!

Note/Disclaimer: This post is my opinion only and I wasn't asked or paid to write this post nor am I affiliated with anyone or thing mentioned in the post. However, I was asked for tips on getting to bed early and thought that by sharing my answer it would help more people.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Osprey Photos and Haiku Poem

My husband and I enjoyed a walk in the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary today and we were thrilled to see an osprey family in their nest as well as the lone osprey (above) at the top of a tree. We were extra blessed in not getting rained on during our walk (it was pouring on and off on our drive to Jug Bay). God is good!

This osprey nest sighting inspired today's haiku poem. I hope you enjoy it and the photos!

Jug Bay Osprey Nest Haiku
Far in the distance
A moving, intriguing sight - 
A big osprey nest!
I borrowed my husband's camera to get this shot. I think he had a polarizing lens on so it made the colors more vivid. It was neat to see the osprey in the back spread its wings.

Hope you enjoyed my osprey photos and that you have a blessed 4th of July holiday! May God bless and keep you and those you love!

Related posts:
Eagle festival:
Fishing bird:
Jug Bay Wetland:
Yellow Finch Feeding:
Cat attracting bird video:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bejeweled Blitz High Score Strategies

Just about every week I'm asked via Facebook wall posts and email messages just how I achieved my current Bejeweled Blitz high score. Now, I'm not the best player in the world, but last week I scored 1.2 million points in one game, which isn't too shabby. This article is dedicated to every friend who has asked "how do you do it?" and/or wants to increase his/her own high score. I hope my strategies help you and would love to hear about it if they do.
My current all time Bejeweled Blitz high score

Scan the Board Before You Start Clicking
This is probably my most unique strategy. You can actually start playing before the game voice says "go". But I spend those precious first few seconds scanning the board. I simultaneously look for multiples of 4 or 5 to make power gems and get a feel for the predominant gem color.
Go For Blazing Speed
Once I start clicking I go for speed, blazing speed to be specific. Blazing speed makes the board flash and just about every successful move you make is treated like a power gem. It's hard to maintain but you can go into blazing speed multiple times throughout the game. Blazing speed tends to generate lots of power gems which include multiplier gems. The best way to get frequent multiplier gems is to play very quickly and the best way to get high scores is to get as many multiplier gems as possible, which leads to my next tip.
Aim For Six or More Multiplier Gems
Activating multiplier gems is a high priority as they multiply your score for every move for the rest of the game. My best scores tend to be achieved with reaching multipliers of seven or more in one game I believe my current high score was achieved with a multiplier gem of eight). A multiplier gem of seven means that once the gem is activated, every move is multiplied by seven (so 1,000 points becomes 7,000 and 10,000 becomes 70,000, etc.). While I am constantly scanning the board for the best possibilities (e.g. anything that might lead to another multiplier gem) I am still quickly clicking every combination that I see in the meantime to keep the speed up.
Bottom Up, Middle Out
If no one area seems particularly advantageous I play from the bottom up (because of the potential for more interactions with all the gems above) and from the middle out (there are more gems in the middle than in a corner). But if I get stuck I tend to check the perimeter rather than click "Hint" as that tends to work faster for me.
Intense Focus
While the bulk of the Bejeweled Blitz games I play are carried on while I'm multitasking (e.g. on hold on the telephone or watching videos), these low focus games do not tend to result in high scores. Most of my high scoring games are a result of intense focus. The game only lasts one minute. That's sixty seconds. So if I want to achieve a high score, I eliminate as many distractions as possible and focus solely on the game for that one minute.
With the introduction of Bejeweled Blitz coins to buy boosts we have more options. While I've noticed that some of my other high scoring friends tend to pick the "scrambler" boost, I personally haven't had much luck with that one. I usually only use my boosts until I hit what I think is a decent high score for the week and then save the rest of my coins for the next week. When I do use boosts I tend to use three at a time (the maximum allowed). I choose the "mystery gem," "+ 5 seconds" and "free multiplier." I don't use the "detonator" because it seems that most of the special gems are placed so that you can activate them with 3-4 moves and the other boosts seem more advantageous to me. On the rare occasion that I only have enough coins for one boost I choose the "free multiplier." 
Power Gems
My favorite power gem is currently the Phoenix Prism but I get higher scores with the Kanga Ruby. I think all of my 1 million plus scores were obtained with the Kanga Ruby power gem. 
Best wishes for high scores in Bejeweled Blitz!

PS I'm debating starting a separate blog for game tips. Does it bother any of my inspirational readers to have the occasional game tip article here? Would game tip people rather have a separate blog for that? Please share your thoughts. I'd love to hear them!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Beautiful Day Lilies and a Day Lily Haiku

Day lily time has arrived in Maryland and Washington DC. I took these photos at the U.S. National Arboretum this weekend. They have a delightful day lily garden with an amazing variety of blooms. I liked the varied colors and fringing on the day lily in the photo above.

 The day lilies above are giant (larger than my hand!) and colorful.

National Arboretum Day Lily Haiku
Day lilies blazing
So many colors and shapes
lighting up the field.

These neatly colored day lilies have an unusual yellow stripe through the red leaves and a faint tinge of red edging the yellow leaves.

This deep violet day lily has a gorgeous yellow center. There was also a violet day lily with a green center.

This apricot and yellow day lily has a tinge of white on the edges of the leaves and I love the ruffling. If you live in the DC area the U.S. National Arboretum's day lily garden is a wonderful sight! And if you're too far away to visit in person I hope you enjoyed this mini virtual tour.

May God bless and keep you!

Related posts:
USNA Day Lily Garden 2012:
Our yellow day lily:
Our bi-color double bloom day lily: