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Me and my Husband on vacation

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Here is me and my husband, Wendell, enjoying a much needed vacation! We went down to Branson for a week and stayed at the Big Cedar Lodge. This was our first vacation alone EVER. We did not even have honeymoon, we got married on a Friday night, went home, and Monday morning Wendell was back to work. In the 26 years we have been married, this was the very first without our kids, or other family! Better late than never I guess, so may it be the first of many that are yet to come!

Love life and breath deep
Angela

I did not die, I just took an Extremely long vacation from the computer:)

I know it has been quite a while since I have shared with you all! Life has definitely been happening around this household. My husband quit his sorta secure job to be his own boss, and the most exiting part is that all of our children are employed by the business!! He started a roofing/construction company named, you guessed it – Specker Construction. I have been busy too. In the spring my Dad had bypass surgery, so I was at their home quite a bit helping Mom with whatever needed to be done. Growing a garden and putting up the produce takes massive time slots from ones life. Please don’t show me another tomato or green bean for a while:) Giving classes several times this summer, and I still have one to give this Saturday, has also taken a lot of time. Then more recently, my Dad went back into the hospital, ICU to be exact, for …. well we don’t know what happened to him. Doctors are intelligent people, but what they don’t know is whole lot more than what they do know. So after 7 days, 3 rounds of different antibiotics, being poked dozens of times he was released weaker and more worn out than when he sought their help. I have him taking flax seed oil, spirulina, cayenne, and lots of good food. The physical therapist comes several times a week to walk with him and give him some exercise.

Tomatoes!!This is a 6 foot table!!

My grandkids are such a joy to my husband and me. We love having them over to spend time with them. Seeing them grow is a miracle unto which I wasn’t focused on with my own children. I guess that is why grandparents are special, they are experienced, wiser, and less stressed.  Notice I am speaking of myself too, ha ha!

So here I am in September of 2013 blogging after a long and busy absence. I plan to actively post now. We purchased a new computer for the business, our old one being more than 6 years old and irritatingly slow. WOW!! What a difference it is to have a new, fast, sophisticated piece of electronic equipment!! I actually enjoy typing now!

I’ll leave you with one herb to have on hand this winter – Red Raspberry. It is one of the first herbs I use in a cold/flu, icky sick tea. Red raspberry cleanses the mucous membranes of the alimentary tract. The actions are astringent, tonic, stimulant, alterative, stomachic, antiemetic, parturient, cathartic, antiseptic, and ant abortive. It contains alpha carotene, alpha tocopherol, ascorbic acid, boron, calcium, chromium, manganese, niacin, pectin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, fiber, iron, magnesium, malic acid, selenium, silica, thiamin, and zinc.

Raspberry (red)

Uses for Red Raspberry: constipation, nausea diarrhea, dysentery, diabetes, pregnancy, uterine hemorrhage, parturition, uterine cramps, labor pains, cholera infantum, hemorrhoids, vomiting, colds, fevers, intestinal flu, bowel complaint, thrush, sore mouth, ulcers, and wounds. So you can see why it is such a great herb to use, and it makes a real tasty tea.

As always, Love Life and Breathe Deep,

Angela

Time, Love, Life

purple crocuses with closed bloom Français : D...

purple crocuses with closed bloom Français : Des crocus violets, avec leurs fleurs fermées. Italiano: Infiorescenze chiuse di piante del genere Crocus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Spring to all! It has been such a long time since I shared that I feel like the long-lost relative no-one sees or talks to. But a lot of things have been happening! After the holidays, we have worked on the basement. We have not touched the stacks of boxes since we moved, soooo there was a lot of going through stuff and more stuff and yet more stuff. Time is an odd thing to me, we use it up and wonder where it goes. We spend time planning how and where we use our time. We even plan who we pass the time with. Sometimes we just don’t think about time as it is going by, or time seems to drag on and on, and other instances time does not move fast enough for us. Time is a resource that all of us, no matter where we live, what work we do, how much money we possess, have the same amount of in each day. We can’t buy more of it, or get rid of it. We can however share what time we have with whom and where we list. And rarely do we keep time to ourselves, unless you live alone with no-one else in your life. I think of the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks. He was totally alone for years (I forget how many, 4 or 6 maybe?). However, even then he was still connected to the rest of the world because he was aware and knew of their existence. We are all connected that way. It is a spiritual connection. We feel elated when we learn of someone’s triumph over a trial, and we feel grief when we learn of someone’s strife and devastation.  I believe this is what is meant by the statement “the love of our fellow-man”.

Love is a very peculiar thing too.  It is only seen with our eyes by the writings of people who feel it, or by the actions of someone exhibiting it.  Naturally we would admit that it can be spoken, and it can.  “I love you” is the quintessential catch phrase for Valentine’s Day.  Love can have an actual physical effect on our bodies namely our heart, the symbol of love.  I am reminded of the phrase “It breaks my heart”.  Love is powerful.  The scriptures explain love in the term “charity”, saying “… charity is the pure love of Christ…”  and in I Corinthians 13:4-8 we  read “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemlly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things.  Charity never faileth…” .  Love of our fellow man is the true motivation behind every good deed, and it emanates from the heart. We feel good when we act out of love for one another.

We have a love for our families that is special too.  And that is where much of my time has been spent lately.  My father began to have chest pain in the latter part of February.  For 2 weeks he could not walk very far or do the work he had been used to doing on the house my parents are building.  He went to his doctor and was then sent to a cardiologist.  Well without going into tidbit info, he had an angiogram, which showed  his main left coronary artery was 99% blocked!!!  We were all shocked and dismayed.  He was taken by ambulance about 4 hours after this to another hospital where he was informed he needed bypass surgery – now – right now – this instant!  My dad was scared, very scared.  We all were of course.  But there was a glitch we learned we had to deal with.  Since he had just had the angiogram a few hours earlier, which included my dad taking some blood thinners in case a stint could be employed to “fix” his possible blockage, the surgeon said my dad would bleed, a lot!  And he would need a lot of blood platelet transfusions, like around 20!!!  Well as you can imagine this news put us all over the cliff with fear.  Life is so dear, and yet until you’re faced with the immediate loss of it, I am afraid we think little about it.  Life is fragile and strong.  Everything wans to live.  Plants, animals, and people fight to stay alive.  And yet sometimes life is taken in an instant without notice.  My dad is a religious man and a deacon in the church.  He was surrounded by several family members (his er room was actually full), and as my uncle, who is an elder, was about to do an administration my dad asked his nurses if they would like to stay and join in the prayer.  I will never forget this moment, it is indelible in my memory, here was this tall, large, older man, in a hospital bed in an ER room with gadgets hooked up to him, he is visually scared, and somewhat out of breath, and as he begins to speak, all is quiet and still.  He tells the nurses exactly what is about to happen, how this elder was going to anoint his head with consecrated oil and lay his hands on his head and pray for him and the doctors as we are instructed in James chapter 5:14 – “Is any sick among you?  let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; And the prayer of faith shall save the sick…”. When he finished he was calmer and everyone else was too.  The prayer was said while those all around stood linked hand in hand, tears came and peace came too.  After the prayer, the surgeon came in and the nurses began their prep work, we gave our kisses and hugs, and began to transfer ourselves to the waiting room.  Someone asked my dad how long the surgery would be and his reply was “It depends  on how sharp the doctor’s knife is”, he was doing better, still nervous, but better.

We waited five hours.  Around 2:30 in the morning, the surgeon comes out with amazing news.  NO bleeding!!!!!  Only 1 unit of blood needed to be used.  The operation went wonderful, the veins used to do the bypass were in super shape and he only needed 2 bypasses not the 3 or 4 suspected.  He came home a few days later, and I was there every day helping any way I could.  Time seemed to not exist those days and weeks I spent going to city to the hospital and then over to Mom and Dad’s.  But life and love were both there, reminding me of what’s truly important, what really matters.

My dad is doing great and getting around more and more.  He is still healing, physically and mentally, but each day he is pressing forward.  I told him he has to stay around and get better so he can teach his great-grandsons how to fish:).

Life, love, and time: what strange things we all have and how often do we really contemplate them?  I mention two of the three in every post I publish, at the end. I urge whoever took the time to spend reading what I share to:

Love Life & Breathe Deep,

Angela

Cold Weather Canning

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This is 2 gallons of tomato sauce, it is for the ketchup recipe I make.  The sauce is frozen in the summer and I thaw it out later when I have time to make it.  Which is of course way later, in winter, after I’ve had several months of digging around the massive frozen block of red ice in the freezer when some other frozen food was needed out of  it.

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These are the other ingredients that goes into the ketchup.  Vinegar, sugar, onions, salt, and spices.

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There are some odd spices in this old recipe.  Ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper make up the magic combo.  Sounds more like a pumpkin pie or something.

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The onions are blended up with some of the vinegar until it is pretty fine.  This is the way my mother-in-law does it, the recipe instructs you to put the onions in a bag to pull out when done.

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Here is the onion/vinegar mixture being poured in.

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Next goes in the rest of the vinegar.

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I put the salt and the spices in with the sugar and poured that in as well.  Now is the hard part, no just kidding, you just stir together and wait.  And wait.  And stir some more.  And wait.  And stir. Alllllllll day long.  Hours and hours and hours.  Stirring and waiting until that moment when you can say, “I think it is thick enough!”  And then you pour your now dark, thicker, fragrant goodness into waiting clean jars, and seal.

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It is helpful to use a funnel to guide the sticky stuff into the jars.

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Here is what I ended up with.  I keep any jar that has a sealable lid.  I reuse them  four or five times.  We are warned not to do  this because we could get sick.  But we have never, not once, notta, nill, gotten ill from anything canned in a used jar.  If it smells bad, explodes, or the seal is broken, guess what, we don’t eat it!!  Our brains (and noses) are capable of detecting bad food.

I use this ketchup for meatloaf, meatballs, pork  chops, chili, soups, or for dipping.  This is not the smooth ketchup we use on hotdogs, it has a texture from the onions and it has a dark red color.  This is a favorite recipe handed down from my husband’s grandma to my mother-in-law to me.  And I will pass it down to my daughter and daughter-in-laws.  Love  it!!!

Love life and breathe deep,

Angela

Snow Trees

Here are some of the trees around our home after all the snowfall.  They are quite pretty.

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This is so unique, even the tiny branches closer of the trunk are covered with snow.  Looks like lace.

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This is another example.

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This is the top of the biggest tree in the front yard.  The weight of the snow is almost too heavy for that one leaning branch.

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The snow shows the shape of the three branched limb.  It is so  neat.

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That is a lot of heavy snow, the branches are leaning far over to the ground.

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Snow, snow, snow, everywhere!!!

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Here is the tall tree from the other side, and looking up the dark branches stand out against the snow on the top of them.

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The two everygreens in the front yard.

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Enjoy whatever weather you are experiencing:), I am.

Love life and breathe deep,

Angela

And Then There Was . . . Snow!

We Missourians are used to snow, a little at a time.  However, we have been the target of Mother Nature twice in the last 5-6 days!!  I remember when I was a kid we got quite a lot of the white stuff, enough to tunnel through and build snowmen all day, for days.  The snow stayed around a long time too, not just a couple inches, then melt away as the pattern has been over the last decade.  Oh it gets cold, but alas not much snow.  Not this season.  We averaged around 10-18 inches last Thursday, February the 21,  in our area.  Snow fell again to measure  8-13 inches more on top of what we received last week.

I could not resist, I bundled up and took the camera outside.  This is what awaited me – a Winter Wonderland!!Picture 515

I had to zoom at the neighbor’s house, it looked too charming in the frosty air.

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 This is a fir tree in the front yard.  Love the billowy boughs, this snow is heavy and wet!!

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 Molly smelling something in the air next to one of my big pots with last years’ plant debris.  The snow is hanging on to it pretty good.

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This is the end of the driveway and I am in the road looking east, that is our mailbox closest to me.  You can barely see the edge of the road where last weeks snow was piled up.

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This is looking west from the same spot.  You would never guess this was a gravel road.

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Here is a view of our home from the same spot.  It is going to be sloppy and muddy when this all begins to melt!!  However, that is OK, we desperately needed the moisture.

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Here is the neighbors fencing.  Some of the snow has already fallen off, but enough is still clinging on to make an interesting view.

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This is a closer look at the front porch.  The snow reminds me of frosting on a cake.

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This is yet another view of the house and the shrubbery with dollops of snow for a blanket.  (Never realized how unsightly the satellite dish looks until I see it now in the picture!  Uuuuuugllllly! Don’t look there, ok.)

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Here is the west side of the house.

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Molly thinks she can find some critter under the snow.  She dives nose first then roots around.  Sounds cold to me, bbbrrrr.

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Maybe she knows what she’s doing.

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Just then some geese flew over head at a pretty fast clip, I pointed the camera up and  clicked.  I could not see if I captured them or not until I got inside and found I did.  They are just above the wispy limbs of the weeping willow tree.

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The snow is perfect for a snowball fight, which we will have later.  Maybe a snowman or 2 or 3 or maybe a whole snow-person family. 

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Love winter, love the snow, and love that spring is next month:).

Love life and breathe deep, the air smells wonderful!!

Angela

Cool Scarf Tying

This is just tooo cool, I had to repost it. This gal is smooth and knows her scarf tying.

All That Glitters

A reoccurring question I get asked while at work is “how do you tie a scarf?” The fact is, there is no right or wrong way to tie a scarf. You can really tie it anyway you want. However, we all need a little how-to and inspiration occasionally. Since there are a bazillion videos and tutorials on scarf tying out there, I didn’t make one. Instead, I’m going to share one video and one set of pictures that I have found very useful and I hope you do too!

I found this video on YouTube. It is a simple, to the point tutorial demonstrating 25 ways to tie a scarf. Many of these ideas I had never seen and am excited to try! The editing on this video is also adorable and flawless! Truly worth the 4:50 minutes..

 

For you more visual people, click here for some pictures + descriptions of more…

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