Lily White Friday, Apr 18 2014 

The sweet, pungent fragrance of Easter Lilies along with colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, and baskets of goodies signal the season. If it is your tradition to include lilies in your holiday celebration, they are available in nearly every grocery, garden, floral, and gift shop, much like the poinsettia we see at Christmas.

The lily is a symbol of virtue, innocence, hope, life, and the resurrection of Jesus. It is called the milk of Hera in mythology and featured in early artwork of the Virgin Mary to signify the Annunciation and her purity.

The flower is sometimes referred to as the white-robed apostles of hope because it is said that lilies grew where drops of Jesus’ perspiration fell along the way to the cross. Another legend is that when the Virgin Mary’s tomb was opened three days after her burial, her body was not there but the tomb was filled with lilies.

The lily is mentioned in the Bible 15 times. Song of Solomon has 8 references. I particularly like the ones in Matthew and Luke because they are reminders not to worry about our daily needs if we are striving for the Kingdom.

Lilium longiflorum, which is the Latin name for the Easter Lily, is native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan. Bulbs initially were brought into the United States in 1919 by a World War I soldier, Louis Houghton, but the Easter Lily bulbs sold here were imported from Japan until 1941. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, importing ceased and US production took off. The Oregon-California border is now known as the Easter Lily Capital of the World and produces nearly all of the bulbs used in Easter Lily pots.

Production is an exact and demanding science. The process begins with a small growth, called a bulblet, on a mother plant. The bulblet is removed and planted in another field. It is dug up the following year and replanted again in a new field and remains there for another year until the plant is harvested.

When purchasing a lily plant, look for flowers in various stages and an abundance of dark green foliage to signify a healthy, blossoming plant. Remove any paper, plastic or mesh sleeve and also the yellow anthers before pollen starts to shed for longer flower life.

Lilies prefer cooler room temperatures, preferably 60-65°F during the day and cooler at night. Avoid placing the plant near drafts or direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist but well-drained.

After the plant has ceased blooming, it may be cut down and planted outside in a well-drained garden bed. Plant the bulb about 3 inches below ground level and mound up with three inches of top soil. As with the indoor plant, keep the soil moist but not overly wet or dry.

 “Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the filed, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well (Luke 12:27-31).

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

(Some of the information for this post was taken from Aggie Horticulture, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M System.)

Paper Doll Monday, Apr 14 2014 

Paper Doll

See her pretty smiling face,

And see her lovely hair?

She doesn’t have a worry.

She doesn’t have a care.

*

She’s here for you to play with,

So, go and have your fun.

She’ll keep that smile on her face

Until the day is done.

*

Dress her in her many clothes.

She’s innocent in pink,

Yet, the same doll wearing black

Is sexy don’t you think?

*

She’s treated differently

With every change of clothes,

But inside she doesn’t change,

As everybody knows.

*

You change her clothes, not her soul,

No matter how you try.

You’ll never know how she feels

‘Cause paper dolls don’t cry.

*

Cruel words and thoughtless actions

Will hurt her deep inside,

But behind that smiling face

Her pain will always hide.

*

So smile pretty paper doll

Your perfect painted smile.

No one cares to know your pain

Along life’s lonely mile.

* * *

Who doesn’t feel that way at some time?

I wrote that old-style rhyming poem in 1989. It was a tough time for me. I felt fragile and thought that no one really knew or cared about what I was experiencing. I went through the motions of the day; showing up at work, church, and social activities but hurting deeply and feeling used, abused, and quite unnoticed. Sometimes I feel that way still.

You’ve probably felt that way also. And if you and I have, it is likely that others around us  feel the same way at least at one point or another. That rude sales clerk, driver who cut us off on the way to work, and even that same annoying neighbor or family member. We really don’t know how they feel, so let’s give them a break, at least once. The world is pretty stressed right now. If we all added one kind word or smile we can soften it at least a bit.

And when we think of those who hurt us, rather than allow their words or actions to raise our blood pressure or rob us of our joy, we can say, “Peace be with you.” Ironically, extending peace to them instantly promotes peace within ourselves.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Earaches Friday, Apr 11 2014 

One of the first warnings we teach our children is not to put anything in their ears. Then we grow up. When we get an earache as an adult, the pain can be so intense we will shove anything into our ear to release the pressure.

The pain is usually from wax trapping fluids in the ear. It also may be due to a bacterial infection or irritation from food allergies, such as wheat, dairy, corn, or peanut butter. The pressure should diminish on its own but can also worsen and result in perforation of the ear drum.

Natural remedies for clearing the wax include putting a few drops of lukewarm olive oil or garlic oil in the ear. A paste made from onion powder can also be applied to the outside of the ear.

I’ve found relief using the ancient and controversial method of ear candling, also known as ear coning. Found in health food stores, ear candles are made from cotton muslin or linen, coated in beeswax, and rolled into a narrow cone shape about 10 inches long. The cone is set into a hole in a paper plate and inserted in the sore ear while lying on the other. The top of the candle is then lit and allowed to burn to about four inches.

Proponents say the heat from smoke traveling down the cone warms and loosens the earwax. The method is not painful and less intrusive than removal by a physician.

The FDA says the practice is ineffective and risky. The product can pose serious risk of fire, burns, and injury to the ear, surrounding skin, and hair.

If you are interested in trying ear candling, be sure to do so with great caution, and preferably at least the first time, by someone with experience. Do not use ear candling on children, the elderly, or someone who cannot remain still.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

More than Just a Movie Wednesday, Apr 9 2014 

Have you seen the movie, Son of God? Some say it is a bit sappy, but I loved it. It is full of hope and joy. Jesus’ words that we know well from Scripture continue to echo in my head since seeing this movie.

You can’t help notice how good-looking and cool actor Diogo Morgado is as Jesus. Some call him “Hot Jesus.” And we don’t really know. Maybe the real Jesus was hot. He certainly was charismatic. He drew crowds everywhere and held their attention. Maybe people were initially drawn to his looks.

There’s no doubt that Jesus really did live, was brutally tortured, crucified, died, and rose from the dead. Those are historical facts. So I encourage all of you, even non-Christians and non-practicing Christians, to see the movie. It’s only 138 minutes of your time, and I really think it will offer you  a lot to think about.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Do What You’re Told Friday, Apr 4 2014 

When I was a child, and two or more of my siblings would fight or misbehave, my mother would punish all of us. Without fail, one of the innocents would cry, “Why am I punished? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

My mother would respond, “Well, that’s for all the times you did and you didn’t get caught.”

We are told what to do by our parents, doctors, teachers, bosses, friends, and spouses. There are so many dos and don’ts, and many are conflicting. If you feel deserving of a scolding, scan this list. You’re sure to find something that applies:

  • Get some rest.
  • Get going.
  • Get to work.
  • Do something with your hair.
  • Save your money
  • Go to the doctor.
  • Eat healthier.
  • Lose weight.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Watch your step.
  • Watch your language.
  • Watch out.
  • Stop biting your nails.
  • Stand straight.
  • Sit down.
  • Close the door.
  • Be on time.
  • Be yourself.
  • Be respectful.
  • Get off the phone.
  • Stop texting.
  • Turn off the computer.
  • Walk away.
  • Don’t argue.
  • Don’t waste that.
  • Don’t pick at that.
  • Don’t touch that.
  • Don’t say that.
  • Don’t wear that.
  • Listen to me.
  • Don’t listen to them.
  • End the addiction.
  • Relax and have a drink.
  • Drink in moderation.
  • Just say no.
  • Please say yes.
  • Say your prayers.
  • Clean this up.
  • Get organized.
  • Pay the bill.
  • Make a decision.
  • Figure it out.
  • Stop worrying.
  • Fight for your rights.
  • Walk in peace.
  • Leave it to God.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Lost in Interpretation Tuesday, Apr 1 2014 

The first thing I said to my sister when I called was that I couldn’t talk long.

“How long do you have to talk,” Patti asked. And then we both laughed. With the inflection in her voice, it sounded like she was asking, “How long must you talk to me?” rather than, “How much time do you have to talk?” which is what she intended.

Our words are often misunderstood. How many arguments include the words, “That’s not what I meant” and “That’s not what I said”? We don’t speak clearly, in correct language, or express ourselves accurately. We mumble and speak in sound bites. Nor do we censor our own words nearly enough, and once they are out, they cannot be retrieved.

Listeners also have their issues. We don’t listen well, we are distracted, take things out of context, and hear emotionally rather than intellectually. We interpret the meaning of what is said from our perspective rather than take it in literally. We talk at the same time the other person is speaking, which means we aren’t listening.

We talk to such a great an extent that it is impossible to weigh every word. If we say every thought out-loud (or on social media), how can we not get ourselves in trouble?

Peace between family and friends begins with one brief moment of consideration before speaking, texting, or emailing. If what we are saying is important enough to express, let’s vow to take a moment to do it clearly and thoughtfully. And let’s at least attempt to listen like we want to be listened to.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

 

Your Future Health Friday, Mar 28 2014 

My friend, Herb Sohn, is a well-respected and knowledgeable surgeon. He recently told me that a blood test is in the works that could determine an individual’s exact length of life based on cellular structure. Of course this does not take unforeseen events, such as car accidents, into consideration.

If this test becomes available, would you want to know the results? Do you want to know how long you have to live?

There also are more than 200 tests available for genetic diseases. From unborn babies to adulthood, these tests can predict the likelihood of contracting a specific disease. But again, the question is, do you want to know? Do you want to know that Alzheimer’s disease or cancer is in your future?

In some circumstances, positive results may allow treatment before serious progression of the disease, or even before birth. Prevention can be anything from medication to surgery, such as a complete mastectomy if a test indicates a predisposition to breast cancer. Other results may offer little recourse other than to assess personal life decisions and family planning.

Regardless of the amount of possible intervention, a positive test result comes with serious consideration and decisions. Even if a test shows a 90% likelihood of contracting a disease, or that the unborn child has a particular condition, there remains a possibility that the test is wrong. We may proceed with a drastic measure of preventive surgery or spend the rest of our lives inaccurately believing we do or do not have a particular medical condition.

I have a number of health issues that periodically remind me to appreciate my many blessings and keep my spiritual side in check and readiness. I don’t know what I would do if offered the opportunity for such testing, but for now, I’m thankful for what I have, striving to be happy in the moment, and in constant preparation to cross over to the other side.

How about you? What do you think of all of this?

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Hello Spring Tuesday, Mar 25 2014 

IMG_2437

Congratulations Winter Survivors!

According to the calendar, spring has sprung. Now if only we could get Mother Nature to understand that.

I don’t have to tell you that it’s been a tough winter. Most, at least in the Midwest, experienced the toughest season in decades. We had way too many bitter cold days and way too much snow. But we got through it. We’re still here, ready for warmer temps and sunny days. Pat yourself on the back for your outstanding ability to endure, persevere, and move on.

Like the first crocus that pops its head up from the cold, hard ground, we emerge into the new season bright with hope and optimism. Embrace the moment. Before long, we will be complaining about the heat.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Cinnamon Rolls Friday, Mar 21 2014 

If the aroma of fresh-baked bread lures you to the kitchen, cinnamon rolls in the oven will get you running. I have a recipe that works every time. Some patience is required with all yeast breads. You have to let the dough rise twice, but the extra time and simple steps are well worth it.

I mix the dough in a bread maker, but it also can be done in a mixer with bread hooks or by hand. If you don’t use a bread maker, use warm water and allow the yeast to soften in it before adding to the other ingredients. Let me know how your yummy rolls work out.

* * *

Buttery Cinnamon Rolls

Begin by mixing the ingredients for the bread dough. (This dough recipe also makes delicious loaves and rolls.)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 ¼ cups bread flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tablespoons dry milk
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

Allow the dough to rise.

Divide dough into three pieces. Roll each section into an 8 X 9 inch rectangle.

Spread each rectangle with ¼ cup butter. Sprinkle ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/3 cup raisins if desired, evenly across the dough.

Roll up the dough lengthwise keeping it as tight as possible. Pinch to seal.

Cut into 1 inch pieces.

DSCN4249

Place on greased baking sheet or baking dish.

DSCN4247

Allow to rise for about one hour.

Bake in a 374°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool. Frost with cream cheese or vanilla frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. If consistency is too thick, add a couple drops more of milk.

DSCN4252

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Shop the World Monday, Mar 17 2014 

In the middle of a major sewing project, my sewing machine’s light bulb went out. To you non-sewers, this might not sound like a big deal, but it is when you need that light to continue. I have a 40-year-plus-old Singer machine, so finding the correct bulb could have been a challenge. Fortunately, I drove a couple of miles down the road to a fabric store that carried the correct bulb and was back to work in an hour. Had I ordered one online I would have waited days to continue my project.

Living close to all of the major department stores as well as quaint boutiques offers a lot of shopping opportunities. Most of us enjoy a leisure day at the mall where we can see and touch items before purchasing. My guess is that there are fewer returns when we shop this way because it is clearer as to what we are getting. And if we don’t want our local shops to close, we need to frequent them and make purchases there so they can afford to remain open.

However, there is no doubt that online shopping has its perks. The ease and simplicity of shopping on tablets and smart phones is fun in a different way than in person. We can compare prices across a wider variety of items while comfortably in our jammies, if we so wish, avoiding crowds and saving gas and taxes. We also have those online reviews to help us make the best choices.

But those benefits don’t come without precautions. Here are a few steps to keep the experience safe and prevent costing us more than the price of our purchase:

  • Use familiar websites.
  • Look for the lock. That little icon of a locked padlock indicates a SSL(secure sockets layer) encryption.
  • Check the address. Secure sites start with HTTPS:// (not HTTP://)
  • Never email credit card information.
  • Never give your social security number.
  • Check your credit card statements throughout the month.
  • Keep your computer security up-to-date.
  • Never turn off your firewall.
  • Encrypt your home wireless connection.
  • Use strong passwords. Microsoft recommends 14 characters using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Use different passwords.
  • Don’t put an unknown flash or thumb drive into your computer.
  • Hold down the SHIFT key when you insert a drive into your computer.
  • Think carefully before opening attachments or suspicious emails such as ones that say they are from ATT or Yahoo and instruct you to click to update but do not address you by name.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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