Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Silkworms Know Best (The Virtues of Mulberry)

 Dear Friends,

By the looks of our shoes (and fingers and faces), the mulberries are ripe for the picking! We've been excited to discover quite a few trees growing nearby, and have been taking advantage by picking as many as we can. Half of the fruit on a mature tree grows so far up that no one but the birds can reach it, so it ends up littering the ground and staining everything it comes in contact with a beautiful shade of blue-violet.

Mulberry fruit is a good source of resveratrol, the substance touted in the "French Paradox Diet" as so helpful for retaining good health~ "The berries contain resveratrol, another polyphenol flavonoid antioxidant. Resveratrol has been found to be protective against stroke risk by alteration of molecular mechanisms in blood vessels, reducing susceptibility to vascular damage through decreased activity of angiotensin (a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would elevate blood pressure) and increased production of the vasodilator hormone, nitric oxide." (Information from the Nutrition and You website).
Mulberries are also a great source of vitamin c, essential for maintaining immune function and happy teeth and gums. They supply 23% of the daily requirement for iron, which is essential for good blood and energy.
The medicine contained in mulberry leaves is even more exciting. Japanese researchers have discovered that they help to control blood sugar in rats, and help control the build-up of "bad" cholesterol in the arteries.

The Chinese have used them for centuries to prevent and treat diabetes, as well as for asthma and other respiratory complaints. The leaves can either be dried, then used as an infusion (herbal tea), or they can be made into a tincture by immersing them in vodka in an airtight container for a few weeks, then straining.

If you are blessed to have these wonderful (although invasive) trees near you, take advantage of their health-giving (and yummy) properties as a syrup for your pancakes, or maybe a mulberry shortcake (they're also great in smoothies).

(Here we're mixing mulberries with frozen rhubarb for a cool treat. We used powdered stevia as a sweetener, and added just enough water to get it moving in the blender. Yum!)

We'll leave you with some non-mulberry photos~ These are the blooms of last year's onions, which are quite tastefully in salads or omelettes, and of course have great antihistamine properties to combat congestion. Aren't they beautiful?

Do you have any stories to share about mulberries? We'd love to hear them!



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Looking Back~

Dear Friends,

The other day I was going through my old journals from college days (long before I knew Mr. Graham), and found this list that I had made:

"Things I Hope to Do When I am Married"

1. Start every morning with a prayer and a hymn, and end each day the same way.

2. Bless each meal, and have as many sit-down meals together as possible.

(Photos taken at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, Kansas City, MO)
3. Say "Thank you," "Please," "I'm sorry," and "I love you."

4. Hug and kiss frequently.
5. Do dishes at least once daily, preferably after each meal.

6. Read scriptures daily, ideally as a family, and also alone.

7. Keep things in their proper perspective.
8. Hold weekly Family Home Evening.

9. Hold regular family meetings to see how everyone's doing.
10. Leave notes of love and encouragement.

11. Read to children every night.

12. Have regular family service projects.
13. Never become selfish.

14. Remember to take time off for myself, and to be alone with my husband.

15. Take a walk after dinner.
16. Continue  my education.

17. Never have a tedious, humdrum lifestyle. Always have a goal to work on.

18. Always be reading, learning, pondering, and trying to find ways to serve others.

19. Take time out each week to spend one on one time with each child.
20. Remember that my life is not my own now, but that it belongs to my family, and that is the way it  is supposed to be.

21. Cook regular meals each day, and always be prepared for when there's no time to cook a lot.

22. Always show appreciation to my husband and children for the things they do for me.

23. Open a savings account for each child, and teach them responsibility for it.
Not a bad list, is it? :) I was a child of divorce, and had no real role models to look to for establishing a strong family. Around the age of 20 I began observing others from my church, and reading family magazines in hopes of gleaning wisdom there.

 Looking back, almost twenty years later, I am impressed with the things that I came up with, and amazed that most of them I am faithful in doing! I had no idea that I would be homeschooling my children at the time, and learning right there along with them. 
Life has taken me along paths that I never would have chosen for myself, but I have a testimony that the Lord can take his weakest children, and through them make a mighty work come to pass. My children are so much farther ahead of where I was at their age, and I know that they are being blessed every day by how my husband and I have chosen to live our lives (however imperfectly we follow through!). 
I also have great hope for those whose home lives are not what they are wish, for I know that strength comes through struggles, and that God's grace is sufficient for all who come unto Him.
May you be blessed today, my dear friends, and know that we are praying for all of you and your families. Your kindness and friendship encourages us more than you can know.


 Marqueta (who is being attacked by a tomato plant in this picture)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Psalm 91

Dear Friends,

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.


 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under thy foot.

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Tree Bathing" at Lake Jacomo

 Dear Friends,

The other day Mr. Graham invited us to have a picnic and hike at a beautiful lake not far from home; he didn't have to ask us twice! We had a lovely picnic in the covered pavilion, then hiked down to the lake and back. The Japanese call spending time in the forest "tree bathing," and they claim that the trees offer healing from stresses and even strengthen the immune system against cancer cells (but we didn't need to be told this, did we?).

Our hike was not without hazards, however, as we soon discovered that the local tick population was out to have a picnic, as well (you can see AnnaMarie brushing one off in the photo below)!

It was still a wonderful time, despite the ectoparasites, and we made a lovely memory to treasure, as we made notes of our finds in our nature journals. Tasha even saw a turtle swimming in the lake!

 Lake Jacomo

Redbud "peas"

May Apple

 Red Mulberry


We've recently purchased the book "Eat the Trees!" by Linda Runyon, and our eyes have been opened, yet again, to the abundance all around us, if we are open and receptive (and hungry enough!). There is no reason to panic or worry about starvation, were something drastic to happen the world around us, since God has promised to feed and clothe us as He does the sparrows and lilies.

If you are in a situation of apparent lack in your life, we would plead with you to keep the faith, keeping your eyes on the Lord and His greatness, and not on the problems around us. As we "magnify the Lord" in this way, we minimize those scary things that seem so big when we magnify them by constantly worrying and fretting about them. God is bigger than whatever you are up against, and you are His beloved child.