Simple advice for a better life.

The Healing Power Of Soup

Chicken broth with potato balls (knedle)If you think your mom and grandma were the only ones preaching that soup was good for you, especially during illness, some scientists agree with this theory as well.

Homemade chicken soup, also referred to by many as “Jewish Penicillin”, has been known for its “healing” powers for colds.  It is believed to inhibit inflammation, and break up congestion.

I am convinced that hot soup, hot tea with lemon and honey, and fresh garlic bread, are my best remedies for getting well from such recurring ailments as the common cold.

Soup is a winter staple that no one should be without, as it warms you up from inside out, and boosts your immunity.

Homemade soups made with organic veggies, are the best.

If you must depend on the manufactured soups, please watch out for the amount of sodium and fat,  they contain.

I will share some excerpts from an article I read in a post by Dr.Maoshing Ni.

The therapeutic value of soup comes from the ease with which your body can assimilate the nutrients from the ingredients, which have been broken down by simmering.

1. Lose weight with soup.

It has been found that people who eat one serving of soup per day lose more weight than those who eat the same amount of calories, but don’t eat soup.

2.  Build your immunity.

When you slowly simmer foods over low heat, you gently leach out the energetic and therapeutic properties of the foods, preserving the nutritional value of the foods.  Keep in mind that boiling can destroy half of the vitamins found in vegetables, so cook soup over low heat.

3.  Detoxify your body.

As a liquid, soup is already helping you flush waste from your body.  When you choose detoxifying ingredients, you are really treating your body to an internal cleanse.

4.  Warm up with a hearty soup.

Soups provide something the body craves in a cold weather. The Chinese nutrition would call this the “warming energy”.

5.  Get well faster.

When you are sick, there is no better healing food than soup.  The reason for this is that soups and stews don’t require as much energy to digest, freeing your body up to fight the infection.

Are you convinced yet of the health benefits your body is able to obtain from adding soup to your daily diet?

Preparing homemade soups might sound complicated and intimidating, but it is really very simple.

You can check out the soup recipes I already posted, but there are more coming up, so please stay tuned.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: AlishaV

Electrical fires are not a rare thing, and can happen to anyone, at any time.

Actually, I experienced it a couple of times as well.

My first experience was with my oven, as all of a sudden, the heating element started to smolder, and my whole oven lit up with flames. I turned the oven off, but the fire did not stop.  Finally I ran to the main fuse box, and flipped off the oven fuse, at which point the smoldering slowly subsided, and my oven started to cool off.

If you do not know where your fuse box is located, or which fuse switch is for which part of the house, you should learn it right now, and hopefully will never need to use this knowledge.  I was lucky enough to be familiar with our fuse box.

Another time was just as scary, since while I was away from home, my toaster oven “miraculously” turned itself on.  I was not even using my toaster oven that day.  It must have been heating at full blast long enough for the handle to fall off, the electrical socket, walls and counter top to get  too hot to touch.  Fortunately it did not cause a more serious fire, and to this day I still do not know what caused it.

I learned my lesson, so now before leaving the house I always unplug the toaster oven, the coffee pot, my curling iron, and any other small appliances I have plugged in…just in case.  I encourage you to do the same, because not only it will save energy (anything plugged in, even if not in use, draws energy), it will give you a peace of mind, while you are away.

Here are additional tips on preventing electrical fires in your home:

  • Cover all unused wall sockets with plastic safety covers, if you have small children in your house (they love to stick their curious little fingers in there, or anything else they might be holding).
  • Avoid running extension cords across walkways, doorways, and under carpets.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for plugging appliances into electrical outlets.
  • Avoid overloading outlets, by not plugging more than one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle at one time.
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor, and near all sleeping areas.
  • Change smoke alarm batteries regularly. As a rule of thumb, change every time you adjust your clocks for daylight savings time.
  • Replace, or repair any loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices (that includes your laptop).

If you have any other ideas on preventive measures for house fires, please share them with us.

Barberry Bush – Attraction Or Nuisance

Barberry BushBarberry bushes are very popular with landscapers for being incorporated into many of their landscape projects.

Apparently the Barberry shrub was first introduced to the US landscaping in the 1800′s, and it still remains very popular today.

Due to its thorny branches, it was used by many as a living fence, or planted in front of home windows, as a deterrent for burglars.

They do add contrast to the color scheme in a landscape, due to their deep red foliage, however, their thorns are very annoying, and merciless.

Thorns on Barberry Bushes

I have pricked myself so many times with their needle sharp thorns, at trimming time, or whenever I was working around that area, which finally prompted me to dig them up, and replace them with something more manageable, and thorn free.

Also, I could not bear to think that someday one of my grandchildren might get one of these thorns stuck in their finger, and knowing how painful these are, and how difficult to remove, I could not deal with this any longer.

It was time again to trim my shrubs, thus perfect time to finally remove these thorny bushes, once and for all.

It was a labor intense job, since there were six of them to work with, and those thorns still managed to get through my very thick gloves.

I had numerous gardening tools laid out in my front yard to get this job done, since I was determined to use whatever it took, to complete this project successfully.

Shallow roots of Barbery Bushes

The operation was a success, and the Barberry bushes were gone.

Abelia Kaleidoscope shrubAbelia Kaleidoscope flowers

A week later, I finally decided on a replacement, to fill in the empty spots in my landscaping.

I selected, the above pictured ( innocent looking), Abelia Kaleidoscope bush, which also flowers, with pretty white flowers, during late summer and early fall.

new shrubs - Abelia Kaleidoscope

I am very pleased with my selection, and needless to say, I was pricked, one last time, by some small thorny branches mixed in with the landscaping stones (I am so glad I got rid of these annoying bushes).

Lilyturf (variegata) plantLilyturf (variegata) flowers

As I mentioned above, I removed 6 of the Barberry shrubs, and replaced 4 of them withe the Abelia Kaleidoscope bushes in the main shrub landscaping, but the other side needed something less bushy.

For this side of my landscaping I selected 3 very nice ornamental grasses, Lily Turf (variegata), shown above, which also blooms late summer and early fall, with dainty purple flowers, studded on a long stalk.

Lily Turf

I will love these next year at trimming time.

Do you have Barberry bushes in your landscaping?

Please share your experience with Barberry bushes.

We all would love to hear your story.

Save Energy – Check Your Windows

Go GreenIt has been a while since I posted some  energy saving tips, which I usually find on one of the sites I often visit.

Today’s tip is about saving money on your heating and cooling, by having the right kind of windows in your home.

Today’s tipMultiply Your Pane

What?
Save money – and reduce global warming – by replacing inefficient windows.

How?
Clear, single-pane windows let as much as 84% of the heat out of a room. Get rid of them. In their place, install efficient windows, such as multiple-pane windows with low-E coating.

Why?

The average homeowner spends nearly 50% of yearly energy costs on heating and cooling. Window replacement can reduce that to just 20%.

Did You Know?

Cooling generally costs you about three times as much as heating. So if you live in a warm climate, you have even more incentive.

Check out your windows, and do the right thing to save energy, and money.

Gorgeous Zinnia FlowerThose of you who love gardening, will agree that this hobby needs careful planning, requires its share of physical labor, and definitely lots of cooperation from Mother Nature, thus favorable weather.

Whenever someone asks me what my plans are for the weekend, often time I am unable to answer that question precisely, because it all depends on the weather.

Since Saturday is my only free day to catch up on my gardening, especially in the Spring and Fall season, and if the weather is great, I am out there during early morning hours, digging in the dirt.

Sunday, on the other hand, is a “Day of Rest”, so I attend church services, spend time with family and friends, have fun and relax.

This year’s Autumn season has been wonderful on several Saturdays, so I had a chance to clean up my flower beds, and my veggie and herb garden, to prepare them for Winter.

My Zinnias are still blooming, thus the gorgeous picture of my favorite Hot Pink Zinnia flower (top picture).

Zinnias are very resilient plants, thus easy to grow successfully.  However, some varieties  grow very tall and require a sturdy steak to support them.  Please keep this in mind when planning to include these beauties in your flower garden.

Red Rose Twins

Roses are another great plant to include in a flower garden, since they continuously produce gorgeous blooms.  Even during their tougher day, when aphids try to “eat them up alive”, they lose many of their leaves, but still manage to produce new flowers.  Just amazing!

Final Fall Crop of herbs and veggies

This is a display of my Golden Autumn Harvest of remaining veggies and herbs.

About two weeks ago, I completed the harvest of beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and lettuce.  I also, seeded another round of dill, which should still provide a nice crop before the first frost appears.

Flat Leaf Italian  Parsley with roots Flat Leaf Italian  Parsley

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley is my preferred parley, over the curly leaf parsley.  I pulled up some of these plants with its roots, since these add a great flavor to soups, and roasting meats ( the roots should be cleared of the stringy small roots, and the outer skin layer needs to be scraped off, before cooking).

Chives greensGarlic chives

These are my Onion Chives, and Garlic Chives.

Garlic Chives turned up coincidentally in my herb garden, as a result of trying to grow garlic from small cloves, which never matured to real garlic heads.  Garlic Chives have a mild garlic flavor, so I use them in salads, and other dishes, along side of Onion Chives, and Dill Weed.

Red Beet roots and tops

Red Beets are a must in my garden.  I cook many Eastern European foods, so these are a main ingredient in my Traditional Ukrainian Borscht, Botvinka, Red Beet Vinaigrette, and my favorite Exotic Red Beet Salad.

Basil leavesSorrel Leaves

Here are my Basil leaves, and Sorrel leaves.

I picked the Basil leaves off of the stems, rinsed them with cold water, patted them dry, spread them on a paper towel, microwaved them for one minute, then left them out to dry.  Once fully dried up, I crushed them in a food processor, and stored them in an air tight spice container.  Their aroma is much stronger, and fresher, than the manufactured one (and a real money saver).

The Sorrel leaves may be preserved for later use as well. Here again, they need to be rinsed under cold water, patted dry, chopped, placed in a zip lock freezer bag, and may stay frozen for few months.

I usually freeze enough in each bag (2 tightly packed cups), to be used in my Sorrel Borscht (Shchav) recipe.

Free Green Peppers

I had to leave the best for last.

These Green Peppers are the best, because they are totally FREE!

I planted these from the seeds I scooped out from Green Peppers I bought at a farmer’s market for our dinner.  The seeds sprouted nicely, and the plants grew to maturity without much TLC.  Now we can enjoy them stuffed with Bulgur and Turkey, or a Vegetarian recipe.

My garden is almost ready for its winter snooze, but there are still a few more things that will need to be done before then.

Hopefully you enjoyed my gardening pictures, stories, and might even try the linked recipes.

Please share your gardening experience with all our readers.

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