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  Recommended reading

What's the Rush? - James Ballard


Bible verses for September

 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."1 Corinthians 13:3-4

Saying of the month

"September's Baccalaureate 
A combination is Of Crickets -- Crows -- and Retrospects 
And a dissembling Breeze 
That hints without assuming -- 
An Innuendo sear 
That makes the Heart put up its Fun 
And turn Philosopher."
-   Emily Dickinson 



        Bible verses 


Saying of the month


Reading recommendation


Make a family memory box


Rise and shine


Rest well in your bedroom using feng shui
"From scratch" recipe of the month  - Cheesy Eggplant, Potato, and Black Olive Loaf 



The sharing of good times is essential for a strong and healthy family. Having a united family means spending time together in activities that help to forge bonds between the generations. In this space, I’ll describe how younger and older family members can take part in a valuable activity on behalf of a child or the children of the family.

Positive family activities can help the children
Families have many happy times together, and there are special occasions -- such as vacations, arrival of a new baby, visits from dear relatives, and achievements of household members – that everyone wants to recall. These happy events need to be recognized by the entire family and commemorated in some way with the children.

What is a "count your blessings" memory box?
One positive family activity is the making of a memory box, filled with things of meaning to the family. The project I refer to here isn’t just any collection of memorabilia. It’s a “count your blessings” box, made up of small objects and photos that tell a story about a strong and united family in happy times. This is an activity that can involve several family members and take from one afternoon to several days. There doesn’t have to be any rush – it can be done at any pace that allows everyone to contribute some pieces and have a say in how they’re displayed.

The goal is to create a tapestry of positive memories that celebrate what it means to be a family. It can help the children and older people, too, express their feelings about events, and it’s a great way to honor the past. And, it doesn’t have to be only about the past. It can even include notes or hand-drawn pictures by family members about how they envision the future filled with even more blessings.



What goes in the box?
What constitutes worthy stuff for your memory box is a personal or family decision. The story can be told with a variety of mementos, such as drawings, illustrations, 

The memory box can be any size that meets your needs, but bigger is better. Don’t settle for a small box that can get lost in the shuffle. One way to have the box visible for daily viewing is the memory table, which is a memory box that sits on top and is attached to a table. The advantage of the memory table is that it can be viewed as often as anyone would like. Also, it is usually built to be a useful piece of furniture, and not some “museum piece.”

If the box display is temporary, there really aren’t any particular criteria for the contents. It’s a selection of whatever everyone wants -  photos of family, homes, and pets, announcements of happy events, vacation-finds like shells, unusual rocks, pressed flowers, small toys or other gifts from loved ones. If the box is to be treasured for many years, as is, then, the selection of items needs to be done carefully. That way, it will have long-term relevance to the people involved and clearly represent a timeframe that they recognize and want to honor.

There should be room in the box, one or more inches, to overlap pieces and lay things out in more than one direction. It’s a collage, not a book, so it calls for variety of items with different sizes and textures. Try not to overload a memory box. If it’s for the children, then they should be able to remove and touch the pieces and understand that everything needs to be put back. This is an activity that needs supervision in the case of small children. 



My father always got up early, a habit for life, as far as I know. But perhaps, he started this practice when he was a mail carrier, some years before my older sister was born. (My dad had to get up at 4:30 am and walked 30 minutes to work. Back then, mail carriers arrived to work at 5:30 am and took their packs of mail to the street at 6:30 a.m.).

Later, he had a job as a postal clerk and had to be at work at 7:00. By that time, the family had a car, and his morning routine was much simpler. Still, he got up very early, made coffee, and read the newspaper before work. Before he went out the door, he had the task of waking up my mother (who always wanted to sleep a bit more), my sister, and me, so that we could be on time for school. His a.m. greeting for us was: “Rise and shine.” He didn’t see the need to shake us gently or speak to us, reassuringly. Instead, he shouted at us, army sergeant-style, from the doorway, in a rousing affirmation of the morning vigor that he felt. We answered drowsily: “OK, Daddy”, and tried to catch another few minutes of sleep when he shut our door and left for work.

Back then, I didn’t appreciate my father’s style of greeting us in the early a.m. But, later, when I left home, I realized that his rather rough style of awakening us was his way of expressing his love and concern. As a very reserved person, it was his way of checking on us and sharing his abundant energy with us before leaving the house. As a mature person, when my alarm clock rang, I’d often think: “I’ve got to rise and shine.” (I was the person who got up at sunrise and had to wake up my children in time to get ready for school. It was now my duty to try to transmit early morning energy to my sons, by voice and touch. They reluctantly acknowledged my efforts and answered, sleepily: “OK, Mama.”  

Over the years, I have taken very seriously my own need to “rise and shine” in the morning. I have my early morning ritual that involves several steps: drawing back the curtains to let light in, prayers, and blowing out the candle that I lit with my prayers the night before. I do my a.m. ritual as soon as I can function reasonably --usually ten or so minutes after getting out of bed -- and it takes only five minutes. It helps me feel calmer and grateful for the blessings in my life. It also energizes me and makes me ready to share that energy with others.

I recommend this kind of routine for everyone who wishes to begin the day on a positive note, by "rising and shining". The details of your practice aren’t so important. You determine the correct set of actions to include, but plan to do it early when interruptions are less likely to occur. Your ritual may involve: a few minutes of seated or kneeling meditation, candles, prayers, religious chanting, reading devotional material, writing your good intentions in a journal, or listening to inspirational music. The ritual you create is personal, according to your religious faith or sense of spirituality. Your daily practice depends on the communication that you want to achieve -- between you and the Divine, for those who believe in the Supreme Being, or between you and the Source or Light, for those who seek the universal energy that sustains us and helps us carry out our obligations in day-to-day life.

However you define it, your early a.m. routine will provide some challenges that you have to work through patiently, by your dedication to the practice. If you persevere, you’ll find that, over time, those few minutes of morning ritual will bring you increased calmness, spirituality, and strength.



 Next to breathing, drinking enough water and eating correctly, the most important activity that determines your health is restful sleep. Since sleeping usually happens in your bedroom, it makes sense to consider just how peaceful this room is.

For thousands of years, the Chinese have followed a system to create harmonious areas, whether these are homes, buildings, or landscapes. This system is called feng shui (pronounced fang shway), which means the Art of Placement. Feng shui takes into account how places influence people, in both the aesthetic and energetic spheres. According to this tradition, a feeling of orderliness is quickly experienced wherever feng shui principles are present, and the occupants of these spaces maintain optimal mental and physical health.

The goal of feng shui design is to create refuges where growth and peace can prosper. This kind of design gives a sense of things being right and natural. Feng shui decorating rules do not always make the space as pretty as those seen typically in home and garden magazines. But they do tend to make for harmonious rooms and, therefore, people feel more peaceful in them.

Most feng shui concepts, once analyzed, are quite logical. And even people, who haven’t studied the art in depth, can understand how to use elements of feng shui. On this page, I’m focusing on the bedroom. I believe that feng shui design in this room can help people feel more positive and rest better. I don’t want to imply that I am a feng shui expert. My entire study of the subject includes having read about three books, and numerous articles in magazines and on the Internet.

What I would like to pass on you in this blog are a few feng shui principles that I have incorporated in my bedroom. My feng shui experiments in the bedroom have helped me to improve my outlook and sleep better. What follows is a short description of some feng shui design elements that you can use to create a more restful bedroom.

Uncluttered and clean
To organize your bedroom correctly, you need to end the clutter. Start by culling out extra furniture. There are only five main elements that should be in your bedroom.

Here’s what you need: bed, chair, table or desk, some kind of drawer space, and a closet. Those are the essentials. That’s plenty of furniture for the size of the bedrooms in modern houses. If you are lucky enough to have a sizeable bedroom, enjoy your extra floor space and use slightly larger furniture, but don’t try to put a lot more functions in it. Too many pieces and oversized furniture weigh down your space, pull down your spirit, and cause your energy to stagnate.

Next, go through everything -- yes, literally everything in your room -- and eliminate all items that don’t add to your restful self or your positive self. If you want to feel free, light and unencumbered in your personal space, you have to lighten your load. Just keep what you love and what is absolutely essential. Take out all those extra things – you’re probably not sure why you brought most of that stuff to your room, anyway. Put all those things that don’t belong in another room or storage area. If your extras aren’t going to be of much use to anyone in the house, don’t bother to store them elsewhere. Throw them out or give them away.

Then, eliminate everything that duplicates a function. If you have two similar things, just keep the one you like best or the one that bests serves your purposes. Put like things together, neatly in drawers, boxes or baskets. To be organized means to know where everything is. To live with clutter means you’re doomed to spend hours every week, just looking for things and you can't work efficiently.

Organize and find a place for your essentials. Look for logical spots for all items -- likes with likes -- and everything as close as possible to where it is to be used. Then, clear off as many surfaces as you can, leaving out only the things that you use daily.

Our pro-high-tech, consumerist society is plagued with industrial chrome, plastic grays and glossy black, colors which reinforce human-inspired activity and complexity. Bright chrome, plastic grays and glossy black are not found in nature. To achieve harmony and simplicity of spirit, we need to rediscover the colors of our natural world. The combination of blue and white can help us rediscover our true roots in nature. The blue signifies blue sky and the sea and symbolizes fidelity (as in true blue) and serenity. White is the color of clouds, stars, and candle light and stands for purity, new beginnings, and unity. When combined, blue-and-white creates a sense of completeness and aesthetic harmony.

Personally, I have always been drawn to traditional Japanese home decoration and applaud their simple and dignified homes. The combination of blue-and-white is a part of Japan’s sense of beauty and, over the centuries, has been a great inspiration for Japanese crafts, arts, and house decoration. But, of course, the Japanese aren’t the only people to emphasize blue and white, and the folk art of many countries has a blue-and-white tradition.

Everything that isn’t in daily use should be stored out of sight, in drawers, cabinets or the closet. You'll probably have to pare down a lot in order for your stuff to fit comfortably in its newly designated space.

Dirt is another type of clutter. Get rid of it, and plan to clean your bedroom often. You’ll find that once you’ve taken out all those extra things, it won’t be so hard to keep your room tidy. And with the path cleared out, sweeping, mopping, and dusting will be a lot easier.


If you want to sleep restfully, you’ll need a comfortable bed. Check to make sure that your bed works for you. If it doesn’t, make changing your type of bed or mattress a strong priority. Also, according to feng shui principles, there can’t be any kind of dust catcher below your bed. That area needs to breathe and for that to happen, you must be able to clean under your bed. So, it’s really not a good idea to have any kind of storage under your bed.

The position of the bed in the room is important, too. The head of the bed should be against a wall. This is the best arrangement for sleeping comfortably in your bedroom. What’s more, your bed should allow you to see the door when you are lying down, but be as far away from the door as possible. That is a secure feeling position. On the other hand, your bed should not be face the door directly as this may serve as a distraction. Unless you need to listen for someone during the night, such as a child or an elderly person, it’s best to sleep with your door closed.

Things kept on the floor tend to get dusty and make it hard to clean the room. They also make it hard to move around without effort. Feng shui indicates that as few things as possible should be on the floor. All that extra stuff on the floor acts like an anchor on your energy and brings your view of the room downward, stifling your good mood. What’s more, it’s a sign that you are tied to your past and have insecurities about the future.

Trust in yourself to live with just the basics and have confidence that you will find what you require should your circumstances change. Remember the five essentials for a bedroom (mentioned above). Well, those are about the only things that should sit on your bedroom floor. When you keep piles of things elsewhere, you’ll feel better about your space and about yourself. On the other hand, a tall lamp or a tall plant on a stand – a live plant, not an artificial or dried one -- can also be useful. These objects, in themselves, represent types of energy and tend to draw the eyes upward in the room.

Walls and accessories
Feng shui considers the walls to be a main concern. A wall can represent your life. The lowest part of a wall symbolizes your past and the middle part is your present. The highest part of the wall represents you in the future. For this reason, you want your eyes to look up in your room rather than down.

To allow your eyes to be lifted to up without becoming tired, don’t put a lot of distractions on your walls. Your entire room should only have a few simple pieces of artwork or other sort of decoration. Instead of formal art, everyday objects can sometimes be displayed on the wall, if they are attractive enough in themselves and in scale with other things in the room. Mirrors can be in on a bedroom wall as long as they don’t reflect the bed.

Organized, uncluttered bookshelves are acceptable, but shouldn't be very extensive and it's better to place them on the upper half of the wall. Curtains can be used to create hidden storage on the wall. The space hidden behind the curtains can shelve books, clothing racks, and odds and ends. Even though their contents are not in plain sight, drawers, closets and hidden storage need to be kept orderly and clean.

Finally, since your room needs to be restful, you’ll have to consider the paint on the walls. Strong colors on bedroom walls cause stress, while pastel and neutral colors help you relax and sleep 


Cheesy Eggplant, Potato, and Black Olive Loaf

1 small eggplant, peeled, diced and boiled to tender
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 pound grated Mozzarello cheese

1 large potato, boiled and mashed
½ can evaporated milk

2 TBS. tomato paste

fresh garlic to taste, smashed
1 egg beaten

2 TBS. pitted black olives, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp. Italian seasonings

Mix all ingredients well. Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 F for 30 minutes.


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