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Autumn Edition








   Letter from the Editor

As I hit 40 making a commitment to any work out plan has been one of the toughest challenges I face.  Tie Bo just about kills me and I know a tread mill would just collect dust.  Most infomercials I just ignore, the contraptions are endless and you can really hurt yourself if your arm or leg gets stuck in one of them! Recently, on a late night infomercial, one work out program caught my attention and  seemed to  have merit for my lifestyle.  It was the Windsor Pilates program. The first thing I liked about the system was it appeared you could just lay on your back and achieve most everything.  The second thing I noticed was that many movie stars, even ones not on the show, talked candidly about the Winsor Pilates program being the main attribute that kept them in shape.  These were very famous people that had zero reason to endorse any product at no charge.  So, after a few weeks I broke down and called for the Windsor Pilates CD ROM.  It was like $19.95 a month for 3 months and that was OK with me also.  I ignored all the up sells the operator went on about, and there were many.  My sentiment was if the basic program did all it claimed I did not need the extras.  

The package they sent was very nice, but I wanted to see if I could do this 20 minute program seven days consecutive before writing about it.  I did, it was super easy, made sense, and I was shocked to be so sore every morning!  I really like the program and it is what it says it is.  It also spurred enough desire to go to other levels they offer in the 3 CDs that were sent.  I just need to make sure I do the Basic Program  first thing every AM, before I shower, eat and the phone starts ringing off the hook. Now I feel if I cannot see Mari Winsor every AM then I really do not want to keep tone after 40. I like it so much, if I do miss I day--I make sure I do two sets the next day at different times.   So, click here for their site if you want to give it a shot.    

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Foods that Assist Weight Loss

We have been confused for some time over low fat--which makes us sick from low fiber and not enough good fat--then to the other extreme of all fat and protein, (the Atkin's angle) which also lacks fiber and before you know it the entire issue of dieting can help us become disgusted.  I have come to a few facts that cannot be ignored.

Number one, we must start out our day with a full line of vitamins and minerals that we know are going to be absorbed into the body.  Here I do not care about calories, and all that.  We also get busy and tend to eat junk.  Vitamins and minerals are critical to assist in burning fat and all of the other great health benefits we are trying to achieve in the first place.  This is the one reason I like the ALLONE supplement.  That is a 30 day supply and costs about $1 a day.  I put that in my morning smoothie--yogurt, fruit, wheat germ, coconut oil, bee pollen and a few other things I know will help me cope with the rest of the day, even if I miss a meal.  Click here to see about ALLONE.

The second fact is that eating in and of itself burns calories to do so.  Perhaps that is why it takes more calories to burn meat and cheese than is actually in the meat in cheese.  So, basically starvation does not help you loose weight, and as we have heard before, only causes the body to emergency alert store food in the form of fat.    

Part of the Winsor program recognizes we are designed to eat meat and too many starches and sugars can lead to an acidic body and reduce the fat burning properties of proteins.  So Winsor also discusses a balanced diet with Protein focus is you desire to loose more weight with the program I described above.  Other foods that I have read recently that prevent hunger or assist in burning fat is the real topic of this article.  

Let's start with Green Tea Extract which increases a resting metabolism.  I now make my Jasmine rice with concentrated green tea instead of just water.  Cayenne pepper boosts the metabolism up to 20% and increases the calories you burn.  Milk and Beef contain conjugated linoleic acid which help decrease body fat and increase muscle growth.  Brindall Berry and Garcinia Cambogia are herbs that suppress appetite.  I am not sure if they make you cranky, I have not tried them.  Green Tea Extract is supposed to be the most dependable supplement to help burn off up to 240 extra calories a day.  Another useful herb is in the mint family and known as Coleus Forskohlii.  It is purported to help stimulate the creation of muscle and break down the fat stored in the body.

There is a great link to "Thermogenic" foods that more spell out what foods are fat burning and why. Click here for that.  A summary of thermogenic foods includes:  Cayenne Pepper, Hot Peppers, Mustard, believe it or not Ice Water but not around meal time burns calories, Green Tea, Apple Cider Vinegar Drink, Cabbage, Celery, Brussel Sprouts, Cinnamon, Ginger, Garlic, and Parsley.

What to make of this?  I am not sure other than maybe a Green Tea Chai drink with lots of cinnamon and ginger.  And maybe a cabbage soup with lots of celery, garlic and the hot spicy stuff mentioned above for lunch.  Other than that, lots of ice water with lemon throughout the day.

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Black Cumin Oil

Black cumin oil, also known as black caraway oil is not black.  But it is highly regarded by many as a panacea and may therefore not be taken seriously by some, but for those inclined to dismiss folklore, it should be noted that these humble seeds have been found superior to almost every other natural remedy when used for autoimmune disorders, conditions in which patients suffer greatly because their own systems attack their bodies. Black cumin, especially when combined with garlic, is regarded as a harmonizer of the imbalance which allows immune cells to destroy healthy cells. The technical language to describe this property is "immunomodulatory action." The difference between black cumin and interferon is that there are no known side effects with black cumin when administered in normal dosages. The saying goes that the beauty of black cumin is their capacity to restore harmony.

The most dramatic results are achieved with asthma and allergies. These respond relatively quickly unless there is infection, in which case, the infection needs to be eliminated before the symptoms of immune weakness subside. Continued use for six months or longer tends to give outstanding results. For extreme fatigue, consider mixing some crushed seeds with some royal jelly.

In the 13th century, the Arabic physician Ibn Kaym claimed black caraway could be used for over 50 ailments such as Bronchial Asthma, Bronchitis and other diseases of the respiratory tract. Also inflammation reduction, Arthritis relief, correction of digestive disorders, constipation relief, fighting parasitic infestations, detoxification and strengthening of the liver, increased energy and general good health are among the many benefits from using black caraway.

At the 71st annual meeting of the federation of American societies for experimental biology, a report was issued supporting some of the medicinal claims of Black Caraway. Some medicinal response may be attributed to the increase of immune enhancing T cells. This may support the black caraway’s role in balancing and strengthening the immune system. We love to use it in our facial cleansing milks.  Click here to buy cold pressed Black Cumin Seed Oil.

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Balm of Gilead

I just love it when my readers ask me about a great product that I have never heard of.  Balm of Gilead is one of them.  This balm was mentioned in the Bible and apparently it was a panacea for many ailments even as far back as the word was written.   Having the world now at our fingertips we know that Vege-balm, created by the French, is more of a world renowned panacea and includes the healing properties of Sassafras oil among other oils.  The oil of Lavender or any blue essential oils are best for healing as one expert told me just last week. 

So here is the history on the Balm of Gilead:  A number of plants have been given the name 'Balm of Gilead'. The true plant is commiphora opobalsamum but this is a very rare Arabian desert plant whose export is prohibited. Most likely because it would make us too "happy."  The common version of Balm of Gilead that we find in stores is usually Cedronella canariensis.   

Apparently the true Balm of Gilead was given as a gift to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba. The plant we use now shares the name because of its similar musky fragrance. Folk magic said carrying the buds would help mend a broken heart.  Great, give me a gallon please!

You can make an oil from Balm of Gilead by packing a jar with the buds, and topping up with warm vegetable oil or jojoba oil. Seal and leave in a warm place for 14 days and then strain into a clean jar. This is an excellent oil to dress candles for use in magical healing.

Now in the real world, how can we make this balm?  Balm of Gilead is a confusing name. It has been freely applied to trees of the balsam family, trees of the willow family, trees of the poplar family and to at least one shrub found during research on this herb. Care should be taken when a formula or a recipe for treatment is given with an ingredient called "balm of Gilead" in the ingredients. Perhaps they are all similar in the biochemical makeup.  Balsam poplar and Tacamahac are other common names for this element.  After looking at its uses it does not appear to me any better than the modern day Vege-balm, described above, or basic elements of camphor, menthol, lavender, sassafras, cassia, comfrey, cajeput or even black cumin oil as described above, depending on what the condition or goal is.  In summation, the word Gilead seems to mean just about any extract of a root, bark or petal.   I do apologize I cannot find a legal recipe for that in the United States.  

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Pumpkin Smoothie Recipe

I love pumpkin anything.  I was looking for a pumpkin cheesecake recipe I once had, but now I cannot find it.  Still, it is that time of year again!  There are endless things we can do with pumpkins, and one of them is our decadent Pumpkin Smoothie.  So, what do you do when you are in the mood for Pumpkin Pie but squashed for time?


1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
Ground cloves for topping
Whipped cream for topping
Combine pumpkin, yogurt, milk and maple syrup in a blender until smooth. Pour into glasses, top with a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of ground cloves.

Yields: 4 short glasses

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Hot Vanilla Drink and Others for Those Allergic to Chocolate

First of all, I cannot believe there are people allergic to chocolate.  But there are.  One reader wrote me asking if I had a "Hot Vanilla Drink" because they once found a source, but can no longer find it for their daughter who is allergic to chocolate.  I asked them what color was the drink and it was white.  So here are a few variations of hot drinks that do not include chocolate.  Hot Vanilla Drink 1/2 ounce of powdered milk, 1/4 ounce of vanilla powder and 1/4 ounce of honey powder, optional.  Hot Carob Drink (my favorite before bed because carob has no caffeine) 1/2 ounce of Carob powder, 1/4 ounce of vanilla power and 1/4 ounce of honey powder.  Make a rouge with a little hot water to eliminate lumps and then mix into an 8 ounce glass of warm milk.  Awesome is all I can describe it as.  Hot Chai Drink (not recommended before bed but great for those who cannot have too much caffeine)  This recipe makes about a gallon and 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons is recommended for each cup.  Once again make a rouge with hot water before you mix it so it will not lump.  2 Cups of non-fat dry milk powder, 1/2 cup of non-dairy coffee creamer, 1/2 cup of instant tea mix--caf or decaf is fine, 5 teaspoons of powdered vanilla, 5 teaspoons of honey powder, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of powdered cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon of powdered coriander,  and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves.  Some people prefer to add a little pepper for kick.  As a gift this can be presented in a one quart mason jar adorned with Cinnamon sticks and natural raffia. Vanilla, carob and honey powders can be found in our spice section by clicking here

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Saving Seeds From Your Favorite Plants by Judea Bentley

Before ripping out plants that are done for the season, harvest the seed pods. Here's how: If a particular color of bloom is preferred, mark it with a twist tie while the flower is still blooming. That way, when the pod has become dry and colorless, the color of its bloom will be discernible by the twist tie.

Harvest dry, brown seed pods only, not green seeds. Store seeds in a brown paper bag or a paper envelope, not a plastic bag. Plastic retains moisture, which can rot the seeds or cause them to germinate prematurely.

Store the bags or envelopes in a cool, dry place. Don't forget to label the bags! And put a date on them so the seeds can be used the very next year, if possible: germination rates drop substantially after that.

Keep in mind that it isn't always possible to harvest seeds, particularly from hybrids.

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Farmer's Market Fresh and Vibrant Spices

Every Saturday I love to go to our local Farmer's Market in Sarasota, FL and get the most fresh and vibrantCopy of 1Spices.jpg (77975 bytes) spices I have ever seen.  The family I buy from also has a very unique variety of spices and herbs I did not even know existed.  Horseradish powder being one of them.  I also use spices for Chai and soaps so I can find a use for any spice, including our new line of dip mixes coming soon.  The family agreed to allow me to sell their line of fresh spices and herbs on my site.  Click here to see the Farmer's Market selection of spices 

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New eBook Announcements

Judea Bentley of Nebraska has been my understudy for just over a year now.  When I first met her she was new to the web and I figured it would take her a few years to adapt, learn HTML, get a good feel for graphics, figure out what people find interesting and all.  After just a year her work is marvelous and she is more prolific and full of ideas than myself.  She also offers a different experience to Mabel than myself in Florida.  She raises issues of winter I do not have to worry about.  For instance she wanted to remind everyone to winterize their cars but to dispose of the antifreeze properly because pets will drink it.  This month she has offered plenty of new e-books to Mabel.  Subscribers can find them in year 2001 for now, and non-subscribers can purchase them by clicking this link. Judea's new e-Books include:  475 Gift Basket Ideas, 6,603 Cake Recipes, Canning Recipes, 926 Vegetarian Recipes,  6,610 Appetizer Recipes, Breakfast Recipes-1,289 in All, and 257 Ground Beef Recipes.  

Judea also did our Did you know? Section this month and was the reason behind my topic of Made in America. Thanks Judea!

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Made in the USA

As much as I have been warned by a few readers to stay out of politics and stick with crafts, I am taking a strong position on the issue of buying products that are Made in the USA, when possible.  Watching the news, the only important recent topic that stands out to me that can be fixed in a hurry is the outsourcing of American jobs.  There are like 8 million American's jobless and 3 million people illegally in this country alone taking those jobs.  Granted, most of these jobs are ones that Americans turn their nose up at, such as picking fruit.  But what is not put into those statistics are the millions and millions of jobs being taken by people NOT even in this country as I write!  One example is Bright House moving their main call centers to Canada, which is fine because we do not give them tons of financial aid, they do not harbor too many anti-American sentiments, and they do not take our work for much less pay.  Plus, being on the same continent we do share serious resources back and forth.

But third world countries we already give billions to support and many of whom many do not even like Americans?  A good tech here makes $20 an hour and the techs over seas are willing to work for $20 a week.  The drop in long distance rates allowed this door to open along with other factors.  I was recently looking for a computer and I heard Dell was the way to go.  I guess it used to be.  One of my editors in Nebraska just got a Dell in the mail and said it was hell to get customer service because they answer their phones in Pakistan or clearly another country, and treated her like she was stupid.  She packed the whole thing up, much to her computer dependency and sent it back.  I have also unknowingly been on the phone with support in these other countries and have been so aggravated that they pretend to understand what you are saying, I cannot understand what they are saying, and all they really know how to say is yes Mam and no Mam, AFTER 30 minutes of  canned and senseless line of questions I MUST answer first to establish who I even am.  Then I ask to speak to someone who understands my purpose of calling and my goal, and they argue they understand me and no, there is nothing they can do.   Worse they claim a Hispanic name, like Hector, but are clearly in India and most American's cannot tell they are also lying about their name.  I know this to be a fact. So who is outsourcing?  I heard JC Penny is, but I cannot prove it.  

Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Electronic Data Systems all trumpet their ability to serve customers from facilities in low-wage countries such as India, Mexico and Brazil. That strategy is partly in response to the success of Indian-based players such as Infosys Technologies and Wipro Technologies.  They like to call it "global" or "cultural diversity" in press releases.   I call it taking our dollars straight out of our country.   Recently, much to the surprise and shock of the big-time American PC makers, an online poll done by Consumer Reports Magazine says that the majority of individual PC end-users aren’t particularly thrilled with the quality of the tech support they get.  Even I know it has changed over the years.  Consumer Reports says that Dell, Gateway, Compaq and HP (data was taken over a five year period and would apply to pre-merger HP/Compaq PCs) were given failing “D” or “D-” grades by the 4,600+ people surveyed by the ad-free independent consumer magazine in May 2002.  Only Apple Computers garnered a passing (but barely passing) grade with a “C” – 74% out of 100% of Consumer Reports respondents were satisfied with Apple tech support.

There are always exceptions to such rules, and two such exceptions are Totally Awesome Computers in Utah and CompuCheap in Washington.  Both of these OEMs can’t come close to annual incomes in the billions like the big three PC makers, but none of the big three can come close to the unbiased quality of service given to any customer that buys from these PC upstarts.  Plus these two companies are not outsourcing our jobs and appear to be committed to keep it that way.  So, if it costs me an extra $100 for  a new system, so what, I kept my dollar in the states and allowed an American family to eat.   So my PC choice will be a local custom built with a local tech or the two companies above.  

This article was not designed to just focus on IT, but that is where a big part of our family budget goes.  I really pray you send the message out to others--to be more conscious of buying products Made in America and not only made here, but serviced here, because it does matter and we can put our foot down.  If it cost a couple extra bucks, at least our own neighbors do not starve.

Made in America Labels Do Help Craft Sales

Placing tiny labels on your craft products that say "Made in America" do help sales.  I have heard this from many craft persons.  Soon we will carry strips of tiny labels that say "Made in America" as well as "We Recycle" "100% Natural" and "Animal Cruelty Free" a among a few others.  You can also copy and paste them from this site, I do not mind at all.  Heck, we may even come up with a label that says "Serviced in America" which seems to be the loop hole the major companies hope we do not notice.

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Did You Know?

  • Fish stores carry very pretty objects you can use for embeds in soaps, gel candles,  and whatever floats your boat!  They also sell activated charcoal which helps make black soap.

  • You can use two small white pumpkins or squash this time of year for candle holders. 

  • You can use gourds or pumpkins to make candles.  Skin the item as best you can and fill with wax.  The wax will take the shape of the vegetable and oyu simply peel the vegetable off when cool.

  • You can hollow out small white pumpkins and fill with wax and a wick to make a natural candle holder.

  • To make tomatoes have a longer season, fill up gallon milk jugs with water and surround the plants in a triangle.  The heat of the day will still keep the plants warm at night and extend their life.