Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cadbury Chocolate Recall

Even after the FDA assured us all that the melamine scare wouldn't impact U.S. consumers, it turns out that Cadbury chocolates made in China appear to contain melamine -- the same chemical that has sickened some 54,000 children who have developed kidney stones or other illnesses after drinking the contaminated baby formula. Read the entire article.

Bird Brained

From Creation Moments

Mankind has been teaching birds to talk for thousands of years. Man has also been using birds to deliver messages for just as long. But new research on the intelligence of birds suggests that they might be more intelligent than we suspect.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Male Pigeon, San Jose, CR
Researchers studying pigeons have learned that they can read all of the letters of the alphabet and they read them in a way similar to people.

Scientists became convinced that pigeons see the world in much the same way as we do when they discovered that pigeons tend to confuse the very same letters that people do.

What's more, it took only four months for pigeons to learn to distinguish all the letters of the alphabet. For years pigeons have been used to spot and reject defective items on assembly lines, where they have better records than human beings.

Based on evolutionary theory, scientists naturally conclude that the recognition of abstract forms such as letters of the alphabet requires the larger brain. But this is an assumption and we might be reminded of the work of Harvard psychologist B. F. Skinner who made extensive use of learned behavior using pigeons.

Brain size has little to do with intelligence. Real science and experience show this and disprove evolutionary views. The only alternative is that it is the Creator who gives His creatures their intelligence.

References: © 2007 Creation Moments, Inc. PO Box 839, Foley, MN 56329 800-422-4253

Monday, September 29, 2008

Produce PLU's Decoded

Those sticky labels on your produce provide helpful information about what you're about to eat. Whether it's organic, genetically modified or has lots of pesticides.

The system is quite simple with a 4 or 5-digit number PLU number.

If it's not a 5-digit number beginning with a 9, it's not organic. If it is then the food has been grown to the standards set by the National Organic Standards Board.

All 4-digit codes are conventionally raised food, which means it's contaminated with pesticides and fertilizers that produce terribly depleted soils devoid of nutrients.

If it's a 5-digit number beginning with an 8, it's a genetically modified food (GMO) grown with conventional poisons in depleted soil from frankenseeds, which contain genes not grown by nature. More info on frankenseeds.

Cool Critter Facts

The ant can lift 50 times its own weight, can pull 30 times its own weight and always falls over on its right side when intoxicated.

All porcupines float in water.

Giraffes have no vocal cords.

Armadillos are the only animals besides humans that can get leprosy.

A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.

Studies show that if a cat falls off the 7th floor of a building, it has about 30% less chance of surviving than a cat that falls off the 20th floor. It supposedly takes about eight floors for the cat to realize what is occurring, relax and correct itself.

Mice, whales, elephants, giraffes and man all have seven neck vertebras.

More people are killed annually by donkeys than die in air crashes.

The poisonous Copperhead snake smells like fresh cut cucumbers.

Certain frogs can be frozen solid, then thawed, and survive.

Cat's urine glows under UV light. (If your kitty has bladder problems, this is a good way to find the smelly spots to clean them.)

A cockroach will live nine days without its head, before it starves to death.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

Orcas (killer whales) kill sharks by torpedoing up into the shark's stomach from underneath, causing the shark to explode.

Murphy's Oil Soap is the chemical most commonly used to clean elephants.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fruit Juices Block Drugs

In 1991, David G. Bailey, PhD, and colleagues found that grapefruit juice increased blood concentrations of the blood pressure drug Plendil to possibly dangerous levels. Grapefruit juice, they later learned, slows down a key liver enzyme that clears Plendil -- and about 40 other drugs -- from the body.

Now Bailey reports that grapefruit, orange, and apple juices decrease the absorption of several important medications:

* The allergy drug Allegra, available generically as fexofenadine
* The antibiotics ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Proquin), levofloxacin (Levaquin), and itraconazole (Sporanox)
* The beta-blocker blood pressure drugs atenolol (Tenormin), celiprolol, and talinolol
* The transplant-rejection drug cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral)
* The cancer chemotherapy etoposide (Toposar, Vepesid)

"This is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure we'll find more and more drugs that are affected this way," Bailey says in a news release.

Read the entire article.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Scarecrow Trail

When we chose to visit the Huntsville Botanical Gardens and Butterfly House, we didn't know we were in for an additional treat.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Scarecrow Trail
Since it was soon to be Fall, they were having their annual Scarecrow Trail.  All along the paths as you strolled through the gardens, there were scarecrows. 

I didn't know you could do so much with straw and fabric! There were entire family scenes made as scarecrows. The exhibit provided businesses, organizations and even individuals to display their creative talents and to advertise since each had a sign showing who provided it. 

Although the gardens had plenty of blooms (early September in Alabama), the scarecrows throughout made the walk all the more entertaining. There must've been a hundred of them. I took photos of what I considered to be the best. View Scarecrow Trail photo album.

Huntsville Botanical Garden and Butterfly House

While on a quick 4-day trip to Alabama and back to Virginia over Labor Day weekend, we stopped at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens and Butterfly House

Nature centers and botanical gardens ... I can't pass them up!  I love living things and find such delight in exploring God's Creation.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Queen Butterfly          
It was magnificent with many different types of gardens, gazebos, and even an enchanted forest. 

Early September in Alabama still provides many blooms, but they even added to the entertainment with a Scarecrow Trail exhibit throughout the garden paths. Local businesses, organizations and even individuals had made incredibly creative scarecrows. We'd never seen anything like it. There must've been a hundred of them. I took photos of what I considered to be the best.

Thoughts Can Heal

The “new biology” is challenging many long-held beliefs that affect us in the areas of psychology, physiology, and spirituality. As the quote below indicates, mind-over-matter was an idea advocated in the 18th century, but it came to be regarded as a fantasy, a theory that received very negative reviews in “modern” times.

“The basic cause of illness is unhappiness; therefore the great healer is joy.”(Rabbi Nachman, late 18th century)

Once DNA was discovered, genetic paradigms gained influence over every phase of our lives. When a large number of illnesses and disorders were blamed on genes inherited from parents, it provided an excuse for our distress.

We have learned that negative emotions such as fear and stress not only make our bodies more susceptible to disease, but can actually cause the disease. Conversely, the same biochemical mechanisms that work against us may also be utilized to work for us.

The placebo effect has been shown to heal a fair percentage of patients whose belief in the cure was enough to actually rid their bodies of disease. This effect works by the power of suggestion; patients have believed they had surgeries for cancer when they have not had any and the cancer cleared up, or they have been given sugar pills that cured them.

The word epigenetics literally means “above the genes”, i.e., the mind controls the genes. Dr. Bruce H. Lipton says our minds can re-write our genes. He compares the cell to a computer chip, as each is a bit of information. Both can receive information through different routes and cause a reaction.

Epigenetics changes our paradigm of control. The old physics believed the universe is based on matter. The new biology is based on the idea that the universe is governed by energy. Read the entire article.

Personal Ponderings:
The Bible records Jesus healing as He taught and walked this earth, but you will find that many times He said things such as, "Your faith has made you whole" and "only believe." It is recorded that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains. What we believe is powerful ... and what we speak is not always what we believe.

Fruit Flies Sing Love Songs

Tropical beauty has inspired many Hawaiian love songs. However, none is more unusual than the love song of Hawaiian fruit flies.

There are more than 100 species of Hawaiian Drosophila, or fruit fly. Just like everything else in that tropical paradise, these fruit flies are not the drab creatures known in mainland biology labs.

Hawaiian fruit flies are larger and more brightly colored. And while mainland fruit flies do sing, Hawaiian fruit flies offer more variety in their songs and in the way they make the sounds. One of their unique songs is called the click song. Its high-pitched clicks sound something like a fingernail being dragged across a comb. Another song is made up of a complex pattern that includes pulses and trills. A third song pattern is a steady purr. A fourth pattern is made up of a low hum. Scientists describe the singing patterns as elaborate for a fly.

Scientists suspect that the fruit flies use singing as part of their mating ritual. In one encounter, a male stood behind a female with his head under her wing. He then hummed until she either accepted his advance or flew off. It may be, scientists speculate, that the female feels the male's song rather than hears it. Songs and rituals seem to vary between the species.

Scripture tells us that everything in the creation sings praise to our Creator. Often that truth is taken as figurative. However, as we learn more about His creatures, we see that the complexity of music is a gift that has been given to many things in the creation.

Reference: Edwards, D.D. 1990. Unique island love songs attract flies. Science News, v. 133. p. 244.
Source: Creation Moments.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Prevent Diabetic Ills With Chamomile Tea

When you sit down for a meal today, consider drinking a cup or two of chamomile tea, especially if you have diabetes. A new study shows the tea may help prevent the development of diabetic complications, such as loss of vision, nerve damage, and kidney damage.

Chamomile tea, a popular drink in many countries and long considered to have medicinal benefits, has been studied more closely in the past 30 years, according to the report published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Chamomile has been used to treat inflammation, skin diseases, wounds, gout, and ulcers. Recent research shows that chamomile plant extract suppresses the growth of human cancer cells. Read the entire article.

Don't like the taste of teas? Use capsules.

Don't Fly Solo

by Donna L. Watkins

It's the time of year when the geese are flying south. They arrive here in Virginia in September. I can hear them approaching from the forest behind us.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Canada Geese
You can't help but look upward and watch as the chorus gets louder. They fly in V formation so they can all make it. They could not do it alone. Maybe that's why we look up in wonder ... desiring to have that kind of teamwork to make life work for us.

Flying in formation increases their flight range by 71% a day. Air waves created each time a bird flaps its wings provide an uplift for the next one in formation. It offers support and decreases the work load of all the geese behind it. This conserves much needed energy for them to make enough distance daily and allows for the oldest, the youngest and even the weakest to arrive at their destination in time.

God tells us, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another" (Hebrews 10:25). It's easy to find fault with the local churches. None of them are doing it perfectly, but then they weren't in Paul's time either. Paul was always writing letters to the churches with instructions. The church is made up of imperfect people, so it's not the place to look for somebody who's got it all right. Pastors are also human, not divine. We only see in others what is in ourselves, that's why we are told not to judge lest we be also judged accordingly.

We weren't designed to fly solo any more than geese. We need the uplift no matter what our maturity level is. We are to encourage each other and no matter how independent we are, we need the fellowship of believers to take us to our destination.

When an independent or disoriented goose goes on its own, it will soon find itself adrift. Its wings become heavy from exhaustion and it loses altitude and begins to drop. The increasing pressure of the wind resistance pulls its weakened body back into formation alongside its fellow pilgrims.

Jesus tells us to "look at the birds" (Matthew 6:26). We can learn a lot from God's Creation. Are you out there trying to make it on your own and losing altitude? Maybe you have already crashed into the stormy sea of life and lay bruised and beaten on the rocks. There's still life to be lived! Use your last ounce of energy and get back into a church. Get into formation (and fellowship) and stay there.

There's a church that will fit. You'll find one that has "geese" like you and it will make your migration through this earthly world a lot easier. Get the phone book, Google some churches and find several that you're going to begin visiting. You'll know which one is right ... as long as you're not measuring it against perfect. Get some lift under your wings from the worship music or the message or a small life group that meets during the week. Don't fly alone!

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, TheNatureInUs.com for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL: http://www.TheNatureInUs.com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Simple Living - Frugal Living

Thank you to those who took the time to respond to the website poll where you could vote for the favorite topics of content here at The Nature In Us.

I was quite surprised at the popularity of Simplicity-Frugal in the poll, so I wanted to provide you with links to two of our other sites:

The Frugal Life website provides a lot of information and a forum where you can ask questions.

The Frugal Life News provides frugal posts on various topics and a newsletter option that is emailed twice a month with links to each post. You can subscribe at either of the above websites.

My intent is not to duplicate the focus of that website. I have been added as an editor for that website, so you'll see posts made by me, but Randal will continue to do the newsletter.

I did place a section on the left side bar of this website that shows the 7 most recent posts on The Frugal Life News, so I hope you will enjoy that.

Fresh Compost In Under 21 Days

This video gives detailed instructions on building an inexpensive compost tumbler which, according to the creator, can produce rich compost in 14-21 days! Cost was $8 plus two hours of labor. View the video.

New Era For Stevia

Coca-Cola and Cargill launched their jointly-developed brand of stevia. Now that a big, powerful corporation is backing it, the FDA will no doubt give it GRAS approval in no time... and that means a new era of stevia-enhanced foods and beverages may be upon us. Finally, a natural alternative sweetener! Stevia contains powerful antioxidants, by the way. So instead of giving you cancer (like chemical sweeteners do), this natural sweetener can actually prevent free radical damage! Read entire article.

Stevia is a natural sweetener emerging into U.S. consumer consciousness. It is extracted from the stevia herb, native to the South American rain forest. Its leaf tastes like honeysuckle.

In the race to put an all-natural, zero-calorie soft drink on the market, Zevia, a Seattle-based company, has beaten the beverage giants. Zevia, which comes in four flavors, is sweetened with stevia. Read this entire article also.

I still think phosphoric acid isn't a good thing for health, but this is exciting health news considering the research of the artificial sweetener dangers and weight-gaining link to diet sodas. We gave up sodas in the early 80's but there are many still drinking, so good alternatives to the health dangers are great. Stevia sweetener in packets.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Help Caring For Creatures With Your Vote

I cast my vote for America's Favorite Animal Shelter. If my favorite local shelter, Caring for Creatures, wins this contest, they will get a much needed $10,000 donation!

Every vote helps save a homeless animal's life. Please take a moment to cast your vote.

Deaths Related To Arthritis Drugs

The FDA has received 240 reports of patients taking TNF blockers (Cimzia, Enbrel, Humira, and Remicade) who developed histoplasmosis, a fungal infection that starts as a respiratory infection and can spread throughout the body.

Of those 240 patients, 45 patients died, including at least 12 who hadn't been diagnosed with histoplasmosis right away. The FDA wants patients and doctors to watch for signs and symptoms of histoplasmosis, including persistent fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Read the entire article.

Don't Toss TV For Digital

1. Check Your TV - Many TVs made after 2003 were equipped with digital tuners. Look for a label that says "Integrated Digital Tuner," "Integrated Digital Receiver," "Digital Receiver Built-in," or "Digital Receiver Built-in." If you have a digital tuner already, you're all set.

2. Use a converter box – If you don't have a digital tuner, a set-top converter box can still keep your TV from becoming e-waste. Each household is eligible to receive two vouchers, valued at $40 each, to use toward purchase of a converter. Check out www.dtv.gov for more information.

3. Recycle your television – If you must purchase a new television, make sure your old one isn't simply carted to a landfill. The Basel Action Network (www.ban.org) provides a list of recyclers who have pledged not to export hazardous e-waste. Also, Sony is offering a free take-back program for all Sony electronics in the US.

The transition to digital television is ripe for scams. The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning on bait-and-switch ads where companies are offering "free" TV channels, services and a converter box to people who ordered a $59 warranty. In reality, you won't get extra channels for free with any converter box.

Don't hire anyone offering to install the converter boxes for a price. The boxes are not hard to install, with color-coded cables that correspond to those on newer television sets. If you need help, get it from the store where you bought the box.

Find answers to many questions about the DTV switch at AARP and the government DTV website or call toll-free 1-888-388-2009.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Declawing Cats

If you or anybody you know is considering declawing a cat, please read this and pass it on to others who love cats. Declawing aamputates the cat's toes.

We've had seven (7) cats over the years and never had a problem with scratching. They were trained to use a scratching post. Scratching fulfills an important need for them. I've also learned how to trim nails and do that on a regular basis so they can be enjoyed while hugging and playing.

There's also a humane alternative to declawing at SoftPaws.com. Get informed and read the various articles about this subject. Declawing actual amputates the cat's toes. Read the entire article.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Truths About The FDA

Book by Byron Richards:
Fight For Your Health, Exposing The FDA's Betrayal of America

The FDA is supposed to be an agency that serves to protect the American public, but that is not happening. This book includes:

• Why food companies are using consumers as guinea pigs with unsafe chemical additives

• How the pharmaceutical industry targets children for mass medication campaigns to increase profits

• The fraud behind the global fluoride programs

• How Americans are being poisoned in the public water supplies with toxic chemicals

• The plan to outlaw nutritional supplements which will create more health problems which will generate more profits for drug companies

• The truth about statin, Alzheimer and osteoporosis drugs

..... and so much more.

If you've read enough in the field of natural health, like me, this is not new information, but getting so much with one resource is a great way to access information that you can share with friends and family.

Fight For Your Health, Exposing The FDA's Betrayal of America.

Choose Your Rescue Pet Online

There are many people out there like me who just can't step foot into an animal shelter unless it is a no-kill shelter. Many parents don't want to take their children to a shelter either because they'll want to bring every animal home.

The last place you want to buy a pet is from a pet store since they generally get their dogs from puppy mills. There are many horror stories on the health issues experienced from pet store animals.

Petfinder.com is a great way to adopt a homeless pet without the emotional trauma of visiting the shelter.

Petfinder.com represents 32,000 animals in more than 1,800 shelters and rescue groups around the country. The site helps facilitate over half a million adoptions a year. And these numbers are growing.

Their easy search tool can show you in seconds all the pets meeting your specifications in your local area. It will search on specifics provided as to the kind of animal you are looking for (cat, dog, horse, etc.), the breed (you can put in mix), the age, size, gender, your zip code and the range you're willing to consider.

Take a peek at Pefinder.com now.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Red-spotted Purple Admiral

The Red-spotted Purple Admiral is part of the brush-footed butterfly (Nymphalidae) family with a wingspan of 2-1/4 to 4 inches.

Like many butterflies having an elaborate defense mechanism against predators, it mimics the Pipevine Swallowtail, whose larvae feed on plants of the birthwort family containing the chemical aristolochic acid which is unpalatable to predators.

Since butterflies cannot fly until their wings are warmed, they often sun on rocks and pavement to absorb the heat collected there.

Adult food includes sap, rotting fruit, carrion, dung and only occasional nectar from small white flowers with viburnum, spirea, and privet being favorites. You will often find these butterflies in groups taking nourishment from mud puddles on the ground. This butterfly is usually found in deciduous or mixed forests, moist uplands, valley bottoms and coastal plains.

Red-Spotted Purple males engage in "puddling," which is a gathering of many butterflies at a patch of mineral rich muddy ground, dung, urine, or carrion.

Using their long proboscises, they extract salts and nitrogen which they form into a spermatophore, a sac containing sperm and nutrients that are passed to the female during mating.

The female uses the nutrients during egg production and the pheromones of the spermatophore ward off other would be suitors. There are generally two broods from April to October.

As with all butterflies, eggs are laid on specific plant hosts for the caterpillar or larval stage to feed. Red-spotted Admirals prefer leaves of a variety of trees and shrubs such as poplar, oaks, hawthorn, birch, willows, wild cherry, aspen, basswood, cottonwood and shadbush.

Eggs are laid singly on the tip of a host plant leaf and the caterpillar emerges to eat the leaves, spin a chrysalis and emerge as an adult butterfly. The larvae stage of this particular butterfly resembles bird droppings which is a protective provision of nature. The photo of the caterpillar stage was taken on a Black Willow tree, as was the one that was beginning the spinning of the chrysalis out of which would emerge a butterfly.

Several years we have had these caterpillars consume most of one of our Black Willow's leaves, but the tree seemed to do better than the one they laid few eggs on. Maybe there is a symbiotic relationship between caterpillar and host.

Our philosophy for our yard has been that we garden not only for ourselves but also for wildlife, so we watch and see what nature does with what is considered to be a pest. Often it turns out to be a beneficial experience for all.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, TheNatureInUs.com for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL: http://www.TheNatureInUs.com

Keeping Squirrels Out Of Birdfeeders

The best thing to do to prevent squirrels from eating out of your bird feeders is to keep them away from the beginning - once they become accustomed to food, they will be persistent at getting to it! There are a number of specialized feeders and baffles available that are considered "squirrel-proof."

I've never seen a feeder that works for us yet, but baffles have totally solved our problem. One effective squirrel baffle is shaped like a stovepipe and is placed on the pole portion of the bird feeder. This allows the squirrel to climb up the pole and into the closed pipe, but he can go no further.

The other type we use is similar to those collars that they put on dogs when they don't want them chewing at something that is healing. It's a cone-shape and it "clasps" together to be held on there.

There are some distance rules when placing your feeders and baffles or the squirrels will simply use their jumping and skydiving skills from the ground and air to get to the feeders.

The pipe must be at least 15 inches long to prevent the squirrel from climbing over it, and set at least 4 feet off the ground (to the bottom part of the baffle) to prevent the squirrel from jumping over it. The feeder itself must be placed far enough away (8-10 feet is recommended) from nearby trees, wires, buildings or any other objects a squirrel could use to jump on top of the feeder.

You could also stock your feeders with seeds that are undesirable to squirrels, such as safflower seeds that attract cardnals and grosbeaks, or niger thistle that attracts goldfinches and other songbirds. The only problem with that is that it limits the diversity of birds attracted and increases the cost of seed. Black-oil sunflower seeds will attract the most species and they are not an expensive seed.

Most wildlife organizations discourage the use of any capsaicin-based “hot pepper” powder mix which, although advertised as a “humane” repellent when mixed with bird seed, reportedly can make squirrels sick and may be irritating to the humans that handle it, not to mention who might come into contact with it on the ground.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Healthy Laugh Is Good Exercise

From Creation Moments

Proverbs 17:22 - "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones."

Laughing is good for you even if it does begin with the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones.

Whether you are tickled or reacting to a good joke, at least seven different centers in the brain react in various ways. Your response begins with the release of stress hormones. Your normal breathing rhythm gets interrupted and various neurotransmitters, including dopamine are released. And, yes, your brain also interprets the tickle so that you cannot tickle yourself since your brain knows when your own fingers are involved.

Scientists also believe that as you begin laughing, your saliva glands begin to secrete extra immune compounds. Antibodies and virus killing T-cells are also released in larger doses. Your heart beats also increase and your blood pressure goes up to support the muscle spasms that result from your laugh.

Those muscle spasms are actually a good aerobic exercise. In fact, one minute of a good laugh is said to be as good as ten minutes of exercise on a rowing machine!

Besides promoting social bonds, laughing is indeed good for you in many ways. Tickling is common way that parents bond with their young children. And wholesome humor can cheer the heart and raise the spirits. Moreover, while laughing appears to have no evolutionary advantage, it is easily explained as a gift of God to raise our spirits.

Prayer: Father, I thank You for the gift of laughter. Help me to use humor and laughing in a wholesome way. Amen.

References: Discover, 4/03, pp. 62-69, Steve Johnson “Laughter.”

Visit Creation Moments.

Favorite Baking Soda Uses

There are plenty of websites that list hundreds of uses for baking soda, but these are my favorite because these are ones that you don't normally see.

Drain cleaner: Pour one cup down the drain followed by three cups of boiling water.

Silver polish: Make a paste of baking soda and water, scoop some onto a clean, soft rag, and polish the silver. Rinse and polish dry.

Soft scrubber: Pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl and add enough liquid soap or detergent to make a texture like frosting. Scoop onto a sponge and clean the bathtub or tiles. Rinse.

Oven cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda onto the bottom of the oven. Squirt with enough water that the baking soda is damp. Let set overnight, making sure the baking soda is damp before you go to bed. In the morning, simply scoop the baking soda and grime out with a sponge. Rinse.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Faltering Faith

by Donna L. Watkins

Sometimes we have an idea that nobody else seems to "see" and we have to go it alone with God to get it done.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Male Scarlet-rumped Tanager
God still gives visions and dreams, and our first step is to get his plan on how to walk it out. I'm a do-it-now person, so I have to ask about timing because God will sometimes give you visions of something that is for the future. But when you just know it's the time, you'll need to get out of the boat and walk it alone.

When Peter responded to Christ's, "Come" they were in the middle of a storm in the sea. And nobody else was going with Peter. When God urges us to walk in faith, we can't expect everybody around us to go with us. The storm reminds you that it's going to have to be God and not you that gets it done. It doesn't have to be a perfect performance. After all, Peter did falter and Jesus had to lift him up.

Christ will lift us up too along the way, because we do stumble towards our dreams, but we have to keep stepping. Christ's strength will get it done, not ours. He is always inviting us to expect and experience His miracles. Like Peter, our faith falters and we begin to go under, but as we cry out to God, Jesus comes and rescues us from going down and giving up.

John 15:7 says, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you."

Do we believe that verse? If we do, then we need to focus on our faith. We can't afford to let it falter for long. Jesus is the same today, yesterday, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) so miracles still exist, but maybe it's our faith that has long since passed believing in them. Many say miracles don't exist, but yet we hear of them, don't we? We see miracles now and then to remind us that they are still real if you apply the prerequisites for them.

Abide means that we are in union with Christ. Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament tells us, "This astounding command and promise is not without conditions and limitations. It involves such intimate union and harmony with Christ that nothing will be asked out of accord with the mind of Christ and so of the Father."

The 1599 Geneva Study Bible says, "Whoever rests in Christ’s doctrine abides in him, and therefore brings forth good fruit, and the Father will not deny anything to such a person as this."

And what is the mind of Christ on healing? On prosperity? On blessings? He offers us the keys to the Kingdom. Yes, the Bible says "the poor will always be with us" but is that because faltering faith will always be with us? We are told many times by Christ to "only believe." If we walk in obedience we meet the conditions for all of God's promises, but faith is definitely required. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6)

Let us stir up our faith, and in faith when we feel weak, let's ask as the father did for his child in Mark 9:24, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Don't let faltering faith be the common life for you. Climb higher and don't let go of any of the promises God has given us. Memorize and chew (meditate) on God's Word until it abides in you. Then step out on the water knowing that Christ is there for you. He always will be.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, TheNatureInUs.com for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL: http://www.TheNatureInUs.com

Day Trip To Richmond, VA

Last month we visited Richmond. It's a little over an hour from us. We spent some time downtown, at the museum of art, Maymont farm area, James River canal, and the Three Lakes Nature Center. View Richmond photo album.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What To Say To Cancer Patient

She recommended starting out with some tenderness. "This is a tender time," she said. "It can be, 'Hey, you know you're great. I care about you. I love you and I'm here for you.' "

Healy said it is important to offer plenty of encouragement either in person or in a letter. "I know you can do this. Having cancer isn't fun. You're going to face some difficult times, but I know you can do this. You're strong."

She cautioned people to "think before they speak" to someone with newly diagnosed cancer. "One thing you don't want to do is instantly assume it's terminal. ... Often there is a feeling that people are going to write them off, or they're going to count them out."

Read the entire article.

Pesticide Fact Sheets

Thanks to Robin Sockness who posted a link to a site that provides fact sheets on pesticides.

Take a look and read about what you may already have stored at your house.

Before you buy that bug killer, be sure to check the information to know what else it will kill besides the bugs. There are some dangerous things being used out there. Seems chemical companies have some big pull in our country to be allowed to sell some of these things. Go to Pesticide
Fact Sheets

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How Do Heavy Bumblebees Fly?

From Creation Moments

What keeps the big-bodied bumblebee with those little stubby wings in the air? Scientists are still trying to learn the secret of bumblebee flight. And while they are learning some astonishing things about the bumblebee, they still don't know how he does it.

Scientists have been testing bumblebees by monitoring their energy use, placing them in wind tunnels, and measuring their oxygen use. No, they haven't been able to make little oxygen masks for the bees - bumblebees have 24 breathing holes.

Scientists have learned that a flying bumblebee flaps its wings 160 times per second and consumes the equivalent of 180 candy bars per hour! A flying bee uses the same amount of oxygen for its body weight as a flying bird or a bat. However, unlike birds, the bumblebee uses no more oxygen when hovering than when flying. This is only one of the discoveries that contradict scientists' theories. In fact, the director of the latest studies on bumblebee flight admits that they still have no idea how the bumblebee stays in the air. He warns other scientists to stop using the current theories on the subject because they are far too simple.

Of course, our Creator God knows how to make a bumblebee fly, even if the best of modern science can't figure it out.

Reference: Cowen, R. 1990. Bumblebee energy: What's the buzz? Science News,
v. 138, Oct. 6. p. 215.

Source: Creation Moments

Green Condo Directory

Do you long to live in an attractive green home with the latest and greatest in green building technologies, but know you can’t afford to build one?

There are gorgeous, cutting-edge eco-friendly condos available or being built now in cities all around the U.S. Read the entire article.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dog Scratching And Biting

On July 4th, I went with my Mom to one of her friend's houses for a cookout, and to watch the fireworks etc. I got to talking with one of her friends that was there, Debbie, who has a little dog with severe allergies, skin problems, itching etc. Apparently, this poor little guy has been on several different medications, and nothing has helped him. Debbie was telling me about how he has been biting himself so much that he actually has numerous bald spots, his feet are completely bald from the biting and scratching, and it even got to the point of bleeding.

I asked her what kind of food she was feeding him, and she said Science Diet. So, I told her what all I went through with Murphy, and explained how it was the corn in the food that he was allergic to. I told her what a difference natural human food-grade pet food has made - going from 3 times a week vet visits, to once a year for his check-up! I advised her to give the food a try and see if it made a difference.

I'm not sure how long it was before she ordered a bag of the food, but my Mom called me a couple of weeks ago to tell me that the dog had been on it for about 3 days, and had completely stopped biting and scratching himself. Debbie said that his skin looked like it wasn't inflamed, and that she was just amazed at the difference in such a short amount of time!

... another dog saved! I just had to pass the story along. -- Alicia

Check out Life's Abundance pet products - they've NEVER HAD A RECALL.

Colloidal Silver Concerns

Media reports are abuzz today with the story of Rosemary Jacobs, a 66-year-old Vermont woman who says her skin is permanently gray because of colloidal silver.

Jacobs blames her gray skin, a condition called argyria, on colloidal silver in nasal drops that she took as needed for four years starting as an 11-year-old. She says her skin slowly turned gray. Jacobs' case was noted in May 1999 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

You wouldn't get colloidal silver exactly the way Jacobs did today. The FDA has cracked down on colloidal silver, but that doesn't mean those products are totally gone. Paul Karason, the so-called "Blue Man" in California who says he drank colloidal silver and applied it to his skin, has also attracted media attention for his argyria.

Jacobs says she wants colloidal silver supplements to carry warning labels about argyria. She also wants anyone who makes unsubstantiated claims about their safety and efficacy to be prosecuted. FDA has cracked down on companies selling colloidal silver supplements. Read the entire article that answers some common questions.

Our family uses Silver Shield which is a colloidal silver product because it's a great help for the immune system. Silver Shield has a US patent (#7,135,195) for safe technology.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Should You Take That Job

by Donna L. Watkins

Max Lucado's book, Cure For The Common Life, Living In Your Sweet Spot, tells this:

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - White-Neck Jacobin (Hummingbird) On Nest - La Selva B.S., Costa Rica

You've seen it happen. The popcorn peddler (mentioned in Having It All) has one stand and one job and manages both with skill. But though his daily sales meet his needs, they don't meet his tastes.

To make more money, he buys more stands, to supervise the stands, he abandons his own. The street vendor no longer sells; he manages. Which is fine, if he was made to manage. But suppose he was made to sell. Suppose he swaps the open street and river of people for four walls and a desk. Will he give up more than he gains?

It's illustrated by a Bible story in Judges (9:8-15): "The trees went to anoint a king over them: and they said to the olive tree: Reign thou over us. And it answered: Can I leave my fatness, which both gods and men make use of, to come to be promoted among the trees? Both gods and men make use of. And the trees said to the fig tree: Come thou and reign over us. And it answered them: Can I leave my sweetness, and my delicious fruits, and go to be promoted among the other trees? And the trees said to the vine: Come thou and reign over us. And it answered them: Can I forsake my wine, that cheereth God and men, and be promoted among the other trees? And all the trees said to the bramble: Come thou and reign over us. And it answered them: If, indeed, you mean to make me king, come ye, and rest under my shadow: but if you mean it not, let fire come out from the bramble, and devour the cedars of Libanus."

In this parable, Jotham warns the Israelites against thorny Abimelech ... and God warns us against greed-driven promotions. The olive tree, fig and vine refuse to pay the price of promotion. They've made the choice to be who God made them to be. To 'bloom where they're planted' and not seek green or lush grass on the other side of the fence.

Be careful, the story instructs. In a desire to be great, one might cease being any good.

Not every teacher is equipped to be a principal. Not every carpenter has the skill to head a crew. Not every musician should conduct an orchestra. Promotions might promote a person right out of his or her sweet spot. For the love of more, we might lose our purpose.

David rejected Saul's armor and instead took stones to knock the giant dead. This should teach us a powerful lesson: what fits others might not fit you. Indeed what fits the king might not fit you. Just because someone hands you armor, you don't have to wear it. Just because someone gives you advice, a job, or a promotion, you don't have to accept it. Let your uniqueness define your path of life.

"You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you." (Is. 26:3)

Consider these statistics:
• 1/3 of Americans say, "I hate my job."
• 2/3 labor in the wrong career.
• Most suicides happen on Sunday nights.
• Most heart attacks occur on Monday mornings.

Examine your gifts and know your strengths. Romans 12:3 says, "Have a sane estimate of your capabilities." Don't let anybody bump you out of your sweet spot. Don't let the itch for things or the ear for applause derail you from your God-intended design.

In his book, Money: A User's Manual, Bob Russell describes a farmer who grew discontent with his farm and decided to sell and move somewhere nice. He called the real estate agent and a few days later they called back to get approval for the ad to sell the place. It described a lovely farm in an ideal location - quiet and peaceful, contoured with rolling hills, carpeted with soft meadows, nourished by a fresh lake, and blessed with well-bred livestock.

The farmer said, "Read that ad to me again." After hearing it a second time, he said, "I've changed my mind. I'm not going to sell. I've been looking for a place like that all my life." Can you hear Paul's applause? The man who said, "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content" (Phil 4:11).

Before you change your job title, examine your perspective toward life. Success is not defined by position or pay scale, but by this: doing the most of what you do the best.

Parents, give this counsel to your kids. Tell them to do what they love to do so well that someone will pay them to do it.

Spouses, urge your mate to choose satisfaction over salary. Better to be married to a happy person who has a thin wallet than a miserable person with a thick one.

Reprinted from published book, Cure For The Common Life, Living In Your Sweet Spot, by Max Lucado

Quit Smoking With Herbs

There are several herbs with a traditional reputation for helping people quit smoking. These herbs exert varying effects that will ease the process of smoking cessation. Most of them can be found in either dried bulk, capsule, or liquid extract form. Follow the directions on the label for use. If using dried herbs, use them only to prepare tea, and never smoke them as a replacement for tobacco.

The first one mentioned is Lobelia. My dad used this to quit smoking many years ago. Its chemical structure is similar to nicotine so it fools the body physiologically while withdrawal and detox is occurring.

Read the entire article.

Read more about Lobelia.

Another Pet Recall On Foods

Get details of the recalled foods.

There are no words for the amount of grief and sorrow being experienced by pet owners with all of the pet food dangers these days. It's hard financially to make the switch to a brand with a smaller company behind it .. companies that have real people with real concern for animals, but the cost of health issues more than covers the cost for the good natural ingredient foods.

We sell Life's Abundance because of their choice of particular sourcing of their ingredients.  Everything from the USA and they have NEVER HAD A RECALL.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Living With Squirrels

by Donna L. Watkins

In early fall, there can be a lot of frantic chasing between squirrels. Most are less than a year old and they do it for fun. Once it gets cold, it's time to get serious. Each squirrel must find and store enough food to make it through the winter. Many don't accomplish the task and starve.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Squirrel and Red-bellied Woodpecker
Watching a squirrel hide and bury an acorn, one might think it is a random process that requires a lot of luck for the squirrel to find later. In fact, the behavior is instinct-driven. Squirrels rub nuts against themselves before burial so they can pick up the scent later, even under 10 inches of snow. Their sense of smell is very keen and they also have a pattern for hiding their food.

Squirrels are solitary animals and will live alone in a tree nest made of twigs and leaves called a drey, but they also have been known to take up residences in hollow trees, gas grills or house attics.

Laura Simon, urban wildlife director for The Fund for Animals' Urban Wildlife Office in New Haven, Connecticut, got a call from a 79-year old woman who was being held hostage by a 'psychotic squirrel.' Every time she tried to go out of her house, the squirrel ran at her. If she opened her window blinds, the squirrel would jump at the window. The woman was afraid to leave her house thinking the squirrel was rabid.

Simon asked her what about her house had changed, and she said, "Nothing, except my lazy nephew finally got out here to patch some holes." That was the clue. The patches were removed, the squirrel leaped into an old dryer hose hole that led to the basement, and pulled out four babies, one at a time, taking them up a tree.

Squirrels can have a litter of up to four babies from February to May and another in August to October. If a squirrel is in the attic for more than a few days at those times of year, the animal most likely is a mother with her babies. To keep squirrels from accessing a house, trim your tree limbs, plug any hole, buy baffles for your bird feeder and/or keep birdseed off the ground.

To remove squirrels humanely from a house or attic, The Fund for Animals has some facts sheets on nuisance animals which contain extensive instructions. Use their search engine with the word "nuisance" for various topics. Living with Urban Wildlife

Caregivers Need Support

The self-help shelves at big-box book stores are sagging under the weight of how-to books for baby boomers new to the task of taking care of their frail, aging parents. These books touch all the bases: geriatric conditions, housing options, financial and legal matters, caregiver stress, government benefits, shifting family roles, national and state resources, checklists and Web sites. They are inclusive and informative, but a bit chirpy and somehow bloodless.

Sadly, the most compelling narratives on eldercare are hidden away in medical and professional journals. Excruciatingly detailed and heartfelt as only first-person accounts can be, they are written by doctors, nurses, social workers, administrators of nursing homes and the like, all of whom thought they knew everything about America’s flawed and overburdened long-term care system — until they had to navigate it and found themselves just as flummoxed as the rest of us.

Read the entire article.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mobile Phones More Dangerous Than Smoking

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.

The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.

It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimize handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced.

Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal. Read more.

Related Articles:
Mobile Phones and Skin Problems
Cell Phones - Epidemic of Brain Tumors
Cell Phone Precautions - Analysis of Studies

Guerilla Gardening

Guerilla gardening is a term used to describe the unauthorized cultivation of plants or crops on vacant public or private land.

For some practitioners, Guerilla Gardening is a political statement about land rights or reform[1]; for others, it is primarily an opportunity to beautify and improve neglected, barren or overgrown spaces.

Guerilla gardening can be conducted either via secretive night missions or openly in an attempt to engage others in the idea of community improvement. GuerillaGardening.org will help you get started.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Plastics - Q&A and Safety

Plastic is the most widely used material in the United States, and it crops up in everything from toys to clothes to food containers. But not all plastics are created equal, particularly in regards to food storage: Some plastics can transmit chemicals into your food, while others are perfectly safe.

Read the entire article or Q&A on plastics to answer your most common questions.

Dog Bloat Crisis

You're trying to sleep, and your dog is driving you nuts. He's restless, he's panting, and he keeps making a sound like he's clearing his throat, or maybe trying to throw up.

You check his stomach, and it seems a little bloated. Don't reach for the Gas-X; reach for your car keys, because your dog is showing all the signs of one of the most serious and time-critical of all veterinary emergencies, gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV). Read entire article

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Legumes Cut Diabetes 40 Percent

A recent study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Shanghai Cancer Institute, suggests that an increased intake of legumes like peanuts and soybeans could reduce the risk of developing Type-2 diabetes by over 40 percent.

This is great news for people who have Type-2 diabetes or are in danger of developing it as legumes are a simple and delicious addition to any diet.

A vegetarian diet has long been noted as being beneficial to diabetics. Legumes such as beans, lentils, soy products, peanuts, etc., are an integral part of a balanced vegetarian diet. Legumes are an excellent substitution to meat because they are high in protein and iron and are very filling.

In addition to lowering a person’s risk of diabetes, a diet of vegetable proteins may reduce the risk of many other diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Legumes can also help facilitate weight loss because they are high in fiber and low in saturated fat with zero cholesterol!

Source: DownToEarth.org
Get a 3 Bean Vegetarian Chili recipe.
Read the research report.

Birds Use Essential Oils Too

From Creation Moments

Many people like to have a nice perfume around the house. They brew a potpourri of mint, citronella, lavender and similar fragrant plants to make home smell more like home. But humans aren’t the only creatures that appreciate a nice smell around their house.

During field studies scientists have found that a small bird called the Corsican Blue Tit also like to have a pleasant-smelling nest. This was an unexpected discovery, made quite accidentally when one researcher discovered various sprigs of aromatic plants in dozens of nests.

When she starts to lay her eggs, the female bird will begin keeping her nest stocked with fresh, fragrant herbs until all the eggs hatch. The birds prefer yarrow, citronella, mint and lavender.

When researchers secretly removed these herbs from the nests that they were observing, the parent birds were quick to replace the fragrant sprigs with others. It also turns out that these herbs also have disinfectant and anti-pest characteristics. They inhibit bacteria and fungi and act as mosquito repellents.

Rather than simply beautifying their nests or adding a nice perfume, the birds are also protecting their offspring from diseases and pests. You might wonder, Who taught them to do this?

As the Bible says, herbs are a blessing from God. They are not just a blessing to man, but also to many of God’s creatures.

References: Discover, 11/02, p. 13, Josie Glausiusz, “Eau D’Oiseau.”

Visit Creation Moments now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Medicare Millions Lost - Dead Doctors

Scammers have found a lucrative source for squeezing money from Medicare: dead doctors.

Over seven years, the federal program for the elderly and disabled paid at least about $77 million — and possibly as much as $92 million — to purported medical equipment suppliers who used Medicare ID numbers of deceased physicians, says a report out Wednesday by congressional investigators.

Despite learning of the problem in 2001, the government failed to fix it, the report says. Investigators reviewed billing data submitted by equipment suppliers from 2000 to 2007 using the ID numbers of 1,500 deceased doctors.

Read the entire article.

Rain Barrels From Trash Cans

If changes in trash collection rules have made your old garbage can obsolete or you simply have a spare can, put it to good use collecting rainwater. A 32-gallon plastic trash can is ideal for this, and if it has wheels, you can even move it as needed.

The easiest way to turn a garbage can into a rain collector is simply to tuck it underneath a gutter with the downspout removed and fill ‘er up. You can get a little more efficient by positioning the downspout so it goes into the can. Keep debris out of the rain barrel by cutting an opening in the lid a bit larger than the downspout and feeding the downspout through the hole.

To prevent mosquitoes from making a home in the barrel and to keep even small leaves out, stuff an old pair of pantyhose into the gap between the downspout and the lid.

Read the entire article and get more tips at Care2.com.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Having It All

by Donna L. Watkins

Money rules more than we realize. Some of us stressing because we've spent more than we make for too long, some of us not spending it until we've got "enough" and some people have grown up without a concept of money management.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Green Iguana - Costa Rica
Money management is not what they teach in schools and yet it's such an important part of life and marriages. Money issues are the number one cause for marriage problems. Look within our families and you'll see it's the topic of many discussions with our children.

In Pamela York Klainer's book, How Much Is Enough? Harness the Power of Your Money Story - And Change Your Life, she says we all have a "money story." How we juggle our money with success and happiness creates a story. Finding the roots of our money story and changing our viewpoint to make money an "ordinary" thing will change our lives. When we determine how much is enough, we've got freedom to live life in a different way.

Linda Kulman wrote, "We are a nation that believes in having it all. In 1950, American families owned one car and saved for a second. In 2000, nearly 1 in 5 families owned three cars or more. Americans shell out more for garbage bags than what 90 of the world's 210 countries spend for everything. Indeed, America has double the number of shopping malls as it does high schools."

Our obsessions with stuff brings a high price tag to our lives and the lives of those we live with and love. It used to be "keeping up with the Joneses," but the television has replaced them. The torrential flow of advertising has people grabbing for it all to be all, which is based on what and how much they own.

Max Lucado's book, Cure For The Common Life, states that in 1900 the average person living in the United States wanted 72 different things and considered 18 of them essential. Today, the average person wants 500 things and considers 100 of them essential.

He says, "Greed comes in many forms. Greed for approval. Greed for applause. Greed for status. Greed for the best office, the fastest car, the prettiest date. Greed has many faces, but speaks one language: the language of MORE.

Epicurus noted, "Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little."

When John D. Rockefeller was asked, "How much money does it take to satisfy a man?" he answered, "Just a little more."

Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income."

Max Lucado writes, "Greed has a growling stomach. Feed it, and you risk more than budget-busting debt. You risk losing purpose. Greed can seduce you out of your sweet spot.

Here's a story he includes in the above mentioned book:

A businessman bought popcorn from an old street vendor each day after lunch. He once arrived to find the peddler closing up his stand at noon. "Is something wrong?" he asked. A smile wrinkled the seller's leathery face. "By no means. All is well."

"Then why are you closing your popcorn stand?"

"So I can go to my house, sit on my porch, and sip tea with my wife."

The man of commerce objected. "But the day is still young. You can still sell.

"No need to," the stand owner replied. "I've made enough money for today."

"Enough? Absurd. You should keep working."

The spry old man stopped and stared at his well-dressed visitor. "And why should I keep working?"

"To sell more popcorn," answered the business man. "And why sell more popcorn?" asked the vendor.

"Because the more popcorn you sell, the more money you make. The more money you make, the richer you are. The richer you are, the more popcorn stands you can buy. The more popcorn stands you buy, the more peddlers sell your product, and the richer you become. And when you have enough, you can stop working, sell your popcorn stands, stay home, and sit on the porch with your wife and drink tea."

The popcorn man smiled, "I can do that today. I guess I have enough."

My question is, "What price are you paying for having it all?" And is the sacrifice working? Does it bring the satisfaction that you expected? Do you see an end to the rat race? (Read "Should You Take That Job?")

For those of us who don't spend and save all for a rainy day or specific project, "How much is enough before you step out to make your dream come true or live your life without every decision being based on money?"

Want a visual picture of the magnitude of stuff? Please take time to view this award-winning video, The Story of Stuff. Do you realize that 99% of what we buy has passed through our hands within six (6) months?

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, TheNatureInUs.com for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL: http://www.TheNatureInUs.com

Milkweeds For Monarchs

by Donna L. Watkins

Our milkweeds that we planted on Butterfly Bank (a small corner bank of our property), spread more each year. They look so healthy. I love the smell of them ... like lilacs or hyacinths.

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - Milkweed in Bloom
Milkweed is the only plant that the monarch caterpillar will eat, so habitat for them to reproduce has become critical as more and more fields are excavated without a concern for native plants to be moved or saved where possible.

There are many varieties of Milkweed depending on the area of the country or world you live in.

You can help by joining the Monarch Watch and planting a few milkweeds in your landscape. We got ours from a nearby field that they were going to clear to build a house. They transplanted well and we've shared seed with neighbors and planted more ourselves. Once you get a few plants established they will spread by root themselves.

We became a Monarch Watch Waystation by establishing the plants they need to survive.

Here's a story of the process of the Monarch, a butterfly that has received a lot of attention in the past years:

As winter ends and the days grow longer, the Monarchs become more active, beginning to mate and often moving to locations lower on the mountainsides. They leave their Mexican roosts during the second week of March, flying north and east looking for milkweed plants on which to lay their eggs. These Monarchs have already survived a long southward flight in the fall and winter's cold; they have escaped predatory birds and other hazards along the way, and are the only Monarchs left that can produce a new generation. If they return too early, before the milkweed is up in the spring, they will not be able to lay their eggs and continue the cycle.

The migrating females lay eggs on the milkweed plants they find as they fly, recolonizing the southern United States before they die. Soon the first spring caterpillars hatch and metamorphose into orange and black adults. It is these newly emerged Monarchs, the offspring of the butterflies that made the fall journey, that recolonize their parents' original homes.

Summer Monarchs live a much briefer life than the overwintering generation; their adult lifespan is only three to five weeks compared with eight or nine months for the overwintering adults. Over the summer there are three or four generations of Monarch butterflies, depending on the length of the growing season. Since each female lays hundreds of eggs, the total number of Monarch butterflies increases throughout the summer. Before the summer ends, there are once again millions of Monarchs all over the U.S. and southern Canada.

If you'd like to be involved in the Monarch project, here's the website for more information on how you can attract these butterflies and provide for them to reproduce and continue to give us the awe and wonder that they do when they come through our gardens.

Monarch Butterfly Watch - Join In!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ads Don't List Side Effects

Drug companies are now running ads that don't even mention their drugs by name! This clever loophole allows them to avoid mentioning drug side effects in the ads.

If you don't name a drug in the television ad, you don't have to name the side effects either. Focus is now on talking about a health condition and then sending people to the website for the drug information. Read entire article. There's a lot more information in the comments.

New study shows that 94% of marketing claims made by pharmaceutical companies have no basis in fact ... read more.

211 professors from U.S. medical schools have endorsed a statement calling for an end to direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising. Prescription drug advertising pressures health professionals to prescribe particular medications, and often ones that may be less effective, more expensive and dangerous. This intrudes in the relationship between medical professionals and patients. Read more about a campaign to Stop Drug Ads at www.stopdrugads.org.

Releasing Butterflies - Follow The Rules

There are hundreds if not thousands of classrooms across the country raising butterflies. A question arises: "Will new species disturb local ecosystems?"

I was surprised to discover that there is a $50,000 fine for illegally transporting a butterfly across a state line. Read this article for the do's and don'ts.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Documentary - Supercharge Me

This documentary, inspired by “Super Size Me” about 30 days on a McDonald's diet, about 30 days on a raw foods diet.

Jenna Norwood’s independent film, “Supercharge Me!” won “Best Documentary” at the Tofino Film Festival in British Columbia, “Best Motivational Film” at the Raw Film Festival in Hollywood, CA and was a finalist for “Best Florida Film” at the Central Florida Film Festival. The movie was also an official selection of both the Utopia Film Festival and the Sarasota Film Festival (where it sold more tickets than any other film).

After her dramatic transformation on raw food, Jenna switched careers from public relations consultant to health educator and raw food chef. With a partner, she opened Veggie Magic, a raw food cafe and catering business in Sarasota, Florida.

The website offers a fresh & free new video every Friday at various locations around the world with great health info on various natural foods. Check it out at the Supercharge Me website.

Does Home Automation Save Energy

Home automation systems are becoming a necessary amenity in any high-end home, but are they also a new tool in our fight to reduce energy use and global warming?

After all, these systems are designed so that you can control your high-end AV components, home security system, lighting and HVAC from one device (or via the web from somewhere else).

The idea is that these high tech systems will minimize or eliminate the wasted energy from lights left on by accident, vampire loads from home equipment in the “off” state, thermostats set too high or low for usage patterns or climate conditions, etc - the automation systems themselves will set things right even if you forget.

But are they big enough to warrant buying one of these systems just to reduce them? Read the entire article.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

21 Dead After Bird Flu Vaccine

According to an article published in The Telegraph, a group of doctors recruited homeless people in Poland for a vaccine trial and paid them less than five dollars to be tested with what they were told was a regular flu vaccine.

What the unsuspecting, impoverished victims weren't told is that they were actually going to be given a bird flu vaccine. The director of a center for the homeless in Poland claimed that 21 people from his center died last year, when the usual number of deaths in a given year is about eight.

The vaccine was apparently given to up to 350 poor and homeless people last year which prosecutors say involved an untried vaccine to the highly-contagious virus.

Read the entire article.

Dining Out With Dogs

Health codes make this not as easy a dinner date as many city dog-loving people would like, but there are still a number of outdoor eateries that allow dogs to curl up at the feet of their wine-sipping, pasta-twirling master. Check out this list of tips to have a successful meal out with your dog.

Pet-friendly restaurants are a natural extension of the growing pet-friendly travel industry, so check out DogFriendly.com for restaurants in USA and Canada where dogs are welcomed.

Friday, September 5, 2008

FDA Warning Comes A Year After Incident

An FDA warning letter to Full Circle Dairy was dated July 2, 2008 –- the inspection of this dairy farm took place on Feb. 2, 2008 and Feb. 11, 2008 –- five months earlier.

Worse yet, the warning letter reprimanded Full Circle Dairy for selling medicated animals processed in human food in June 2007 and August 2007.

So ... a warning letter was mailed five months after the incident was discovered and one year after the incident had occurred! Read the entire article.

Planting Bulbs

Bulbs provide a good investment for money spent and supply years of spring color in your yard. Fall is the prime time for planting of hardy spring flowering bulbs. Most bulbs can be planted until the ground is frozen.

Here's a site that provides a lot of information and instruction on how to get the most out of your addition of bulbs to your landscape.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Children's Vaccines Increase Diabetes

Two new studies showing that vaccines increase the risk of diabetes have been published in the Open Pediatric Medicine Journal.

In a prior study, published in the journal Autoimmunity, Dr. J. Bartholomew Classen of Classen Immunotherapies and David Carey Classen of the University of Utah compared more than 100,000 children who had received between one and four doses of the hemophilus vaccine with more than 100,000 unvaccinated children.

The Classens found that after seven years, children in the vaccination group had a 26 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than children in the non-vaccine group.

The Classens noted that the vaccine itself is only projected to prevent seven deaths and seven to 26 cases of permanent disability per 100,000 children.

Read the entire article.

Focus On The Future

by Donna L. Watkins

Too often we live our days in the past reviewing in our minds all the mistakes and things we can find to feel guilty about. It becomes a habit. Don't you know somebody that never has anything to say that's not negative? It's a rut!

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Strawberry Poison Dart Frog
If you're still laying the foundation work for a rutty life, give it up now and focus on the future. Leap ahead and leave the past behind.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD , "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope hope and a future."

Focus on the future! The Bible talks about ants preparing for the winter while it is yet summer. We have a plan and purpose in life and that needs to be our focus. Not all the things going wrong. Life is full of unhappy circumstances. What we do with those circumstances is what makes us or breaks us. We get better or bitter. Which path holds the most promise? Getting better. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God."

Notice there is a prerequisite to this promise. We must love God. Loving God means we must trust and believe in His will for our lives and that even the worst of times has a good purpose for us. Our life on earth is not only for our enjoyment, it's for our training for eternity in Heaven. How we go through bad times will determine the kind of life we live while on this earth.

There's something you're passionate enough about to take you out of the negative aspects of your life. Get your focus on the future. Can't seem to find your purpose in this world? I'm reading a wonderful book right now that lays it out so simply and yet direct. Max Lucado's,
Cure For The Common Life - Living In Your Sweet Spot, tells me that we are each custom-designed for a one-of-a-kind assignment and it helps you discover how your ability unveils your destiny.

It's right there ready to hit us in the face when we look at it, but it all seems to easy to truly be God. Like life has to be difficult for it to be our purpose or calling. Living in our purpose is living in the "sweet spot" of life. God wants us to be happy and fulfilled and he made us so unique with talents and skills that will honor him. As author Laurie Beth Jones says, "This book can cure whatever 'blah' that ails you!" It's certainly revving me up to move forward and grab everybody around me and take them along!

Ever see an ant carrying something three times its size? Sometimes we don't dream big enough. We don't allow ourselves to believe that what makes us happy and passionate about life is actually our life's calling. It's our way to glorify our Father, by being exactly who He made us to be. He gave us our traits, dreams and abilities to live life in a sweet spot that only we can fulfill in His Master Plan.

The sooner we stop whining about what we can't be and have, and focus on what is truly us and what we're naturally passionate about, the sooner we'll be able to move beyond any bad circumstances in life because our focus will be on something more. If something seems to big for you to accomplish alone, ask for help. Ants are great individual workhorses, but there are times when it takes a team to move something to completion.

"Glory be to God who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we could ever dare to ask or even dream of." Ephesians 3:20

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, TheNatureInUs.com for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL: http://www.TheNatureInUs.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Malls Are Dying - Rebirth Is Green

Our cities have been built with the concept that everybody drives a car. Little thought is given to those who would prefer or need to walk or bike. Housing developments known as "town centers" are now springing up everywhere. People want to live and shop in the same neighborhood -- sound familiar? This is the way I grew up.

Small towns have turned into large towns and cities and throughout the 20th century, streets have become clogged with cars and malls and shopping centers have been accessed by driving or taking a bus.

"There's nothing new under the sun." Just like mini-skirts and bell-bottomed pants, we come back around again to remodel the past.

Nineteen percent of our country's 2,000 largest regional malls are failing, according to OnEarth magazine. Mall obituaries can be found at DeadMalls.com. The land mass these malls commanded can now be transformed into environmentally sustainable communities that are now needed, not only due to gas prices, but for the community connection that people need, which has been lost since housing went to the burbs.

In suburban Lakewood, Colorado, the Villa Italia mall is being transformed into Belmar: a lively, tight-knit neighborhood that will have 1,300 apartments, town houses, single-family homes; nine acres of parks mixed with shops and a busy train station.

Read The De-Malling of America.

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