Recipe Friday: Peace and Joy Essential Oil Diffuser Blend

Pretty much every day, and certainly every evening, I put essential oils in my diffuser. My daytime diffuser sits in our kitchen, which is an open space to the dining area. I spend a lot of time around there, so I like to enhance my moods and physical health with the benefits of essential oils

The essential oils, and their benefits, in my daytime favorite, which I name Peace and Joy are as follows. Benefits and other information are listed for use in diffusing (inhaling), topical application, and ingestion.

  • Lemon: cleaning, lymph drainage, cleanses the body, antibacterial, antitumoral, antiseptic, improves microcirculation, immune stimulant (increases white blood cells), improves memory; use for circulatory problems, arteriosclerosis, obesity, parasites, urinary tract infections, varicose veins, anxiety, hypertension, digestive problems; acne; use with local honey to treat/sooth a sore throat; drink in water to promote weight loss; detox for gallbladder and lymphatic system (drink in water)
    • Other info:
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • citrus family
      • Caution: avoid applying to skin that will be exposed to sunlight within 24 hours
      • Made from the peel
  • Sweet orange: eases stress and anxiety (when used as aromatherapy); Improves digestion and helps to relieve constipation; Nourishes dry, irritated and acne-prone skin when mixed with a carrier oil and applied as a cream; Promotes a feeling of happiness and warmth when used in aromatherapy; Helps to eliminate toxins from the body; Helps in stimulating lymphatic action to promote balance in water processes and detoxification of the body; antimicrobial properties; may prevent the proliferation of E. coli bacteria; Natural remedy for high blood pressure; anti-inflammatory; Reduces anxiety and boosts mood; Natural anti-depressant; mild tranquilizer
    • Comes from Citrus sinensis, the oranges you are used to eating. It is derived from the fruit, especially the rind.
  • Grapefruit: supports metabolism, cellulite reduction, antitumoral, metabolic stimulant, antiseptic, detoxifying, diuretic, fat-dissolving, cleansing for kidneys, lymphatic and vascular system, antidepressant. Rich in limonene, which has been studied for its ability to combat tumor growth. Used for Alzheimer’s, fluid retention, depression, obesity, liver disorders, anxiety
    • Other info:
      • Mix with coconut oil and rub on areas of cellulite, or take a few drops internally with water
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • citrus family
      • Caution: avoid applying to skin that will be exposed to sunlight w/in 24 hours
  • Frankincense: reduces inflammation, destroys cancer, spiritual awareness; boosts immune system, treats autoimmune disorders, fights infections, improves anxiety ,heals skin (acne, scars), balances hormone levels, regulates estrogen production, eases digestion (helps produce bowel movements), beneficial in reducing symptoms of leaky gut syndrome, sleep aid, antiviral; contains sesquiterpenes which stimulate the limbic system of the brain (the center of memory and emotions) and the hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands. (The hypothalamus is the master gland of the body, producing many vital hormones including thyroid and growth hormone.)
    • Other info:
      • Breathe it for immune, colon, lungs
      • Apply to neck and feet to boost immune system
      • sometimes referred to as olibanum
      • topically, inhale, diffuse, or ingest
      • This is a potent oil: if you ingest, dilute it first, and do not ingest large quantities.
      • Mix 6 drops to one ounce of carrier oil and apply to the skin to fight
      • sagging, wrinkling (helps tighten skin)
      • Helps speed digestion, like digestive enzymes (modulates the gut)
      • Add a few drops to a cloth and inhale for respiratory assistance (good for asthma or allergies); or an oil diffuser.
      • Inhaling also helps relieve muscle aches, stress, and negative emotions.
  • Rosemary: thickens hair, improves brain function and memory; good for Alzheimer’s, soothes aches and pains, balances androgen and estrogen, liver detox and gall bladder function (benefits bile flow, reduces plasma liver enzymes), lowers cortisol (lowers stress), protects the liver, anti-tumoral, antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, enhances mental clarity & concentration, relieves throat & lung infections
    • Other info:
      • an evergreen oil
      • from labiatae family
      • part of the “four thieves” formula
      • add a drop to shampoo for healthy hair
      • dilute to apply topically, directly inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • Cautions: do not use on children under 4 years of age; avoid using on persons with high blood pressure
  • Peppermint: digestion, aids in absorption, cools heat in the digestive lining; focus, energy booster, fever reducer, relieves headaches and body/muscle aches. Anti-inflammatory, antitumoral, antiparasitic (worms), antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, gallbladder/digestive stimulant, pain-relieving, curbs appetite, helps with irritable bowel system; improves focus, improves breathing (bronchitis, pneumonia, allergies); relieves headaches (2 drops peppermint + 2 drops lavender, rub on forehead)
    • Other info:
      • Can rub right on the stomach to relieve symptoms; also rub on bug bites for a few days to relieve itch
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • inhale 5-10 x/day to curb appetite
      • do not apply to infants younger than 18 mo
  • Eucalyptus: good for respiratory issues like bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies; insect repellent (helps block malaria), expectorant, mucolytic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-aging; respiratory/sinus infections, decongestant, rheumatism/arthritis
    • Other info:
      • can use the leaves to cover wounds, to disinfect
      • a spray of 2% eucalyptus oil will kill 70% of airborne staph bacteria
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • myrtle family

Just think of all the health benefits we get from essential oils!

To make Peace and Joy Blend:

Ingredients:

  • 3 drops lemon essential oil
  • 4 drops sweet orange essential oil
  • 5 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • 3 drops Frankincense essential oil
  • 3 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil OR eucalyptus essential oil

Directions:

Fill diffuser to manufacturer’s instructions with tap water (mine holds 2 oz, or ¼ cup).

Drop essential oils into the water. (Amounts are really up to you.)

Replace diffuser lid.

Turn diffuser on.

What Kind of Fruit?

*

John 15.1-8  1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

From this passage I understand that I am grafted into the perfect vine of Jesus. With that life force flowing through me (the Holy Spirit working through me), I am to produce fruit. The fruit of Jesus is bountiful and nutritious and refreshing, and useful for many things.

Mark 12.1-9 1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others

From this passage, I understand that God gives me choice. I can decide how to manage my vineyard. He planted wonderful seed in me (His Holy Spirit), and I have the ability to access that life force for growing wonderful fruit. But I can also decide to keep that fruit to myself and / or to grow that fruit in a different way. My way of growing fruit is not good, as God’s is; therefore, I will produce poison or malnourishing fruit.

From this same passage, I understand that God sends people to me to collect His fruit. Again enters choice: How do I treat those whom God sends?

What kind of fruit am I producing, and what am I doing with it???

Good fruit from the vine of Jesus vs worldly fruit is like eating real food vs junk food. Worldly works “taste” good to the world, but there’s no nutrition, and leaves you wanting more of the junk. Jesus’ fruit is real, and it is satisfying.

As new or immature Christians, coming from the world, we may still like the worldly fruit better. Often, this bad fruit gets pruned away and it hurts.

  • John 15. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away and
  • v6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered
  • Isaiah 64.6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses areas filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

As Christians we yearn more and more for the nutritious fruit of the vine.

How do we get fed the nutritious “fertilizer” and nutrients to produce good fruit? Connect to the Source:

  • Jesus is the Living Water
  • Jesus is the True Vine
  • God’s Holy Spirit abides in us
  • God’s Word is Truth: read it

Romans 5.8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – and – Ephesians 3.20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us  — Did you get that? The power that worketh IN US. That’s God’s power IN US!

This is the mystery and miracle of God working through us: We are to be channels of God unto others – we commend God’s love to others while they (we) are sinners. To do this, we must die to ourselves. We allow God to take away all those branches and leaves that are our flesh; and we step aside to let Him live through us. Then we will bear His fruit, and it will be so abundant and good that there will be plenty for ourselves and to share with all those whom God puts in our paths. And we will give God the glory!

Galatians 5.22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 

Philippians 1.11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

* images collected from google images

Recipe Friday: Leftover Turkey or Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

Serves: 5

Yield: 1.5 qt baking dish
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min

I pulled our leftover Christmas turkey from the freezer this week. It was more than enough for one meal. I served it with mashed potatoes and gravy (chicken bone broth, thickened with some cornstarch), and we had more leftovers. I didn’t want anything (again) that smacked of Christmas or Thanksgiving, so I browsed the Internet for ideas, and came up with this alteration.
I made this with leftover turkey, but any kind of cooked meat would do: chicken, canned chicken, beef, venison, buffalo, pork, etc.
The measurements for all the ingredients are just suggestions; but this amount fit easily into a 1.5-quart baking dish.
If you want to stretch this, you can add corn, peas, and/or green beans to the top of the pie before you put on the mashed potatoes.
As for the mashed potatoes: we like potatoes in this house, so 3 cups was just right. If you like potatoes even more than we do, pile ’em on!
I used a sour cream and chives mixture to add to the mashed potatoes. Any kind of cheese would be a nice substitute (I’m thinking cream cheese…yum).
As we ate it, I thought that perhaps mushrooms would be a good addition in the sauté. Also, I have another Shepherd’s Pie recipe for beef, and it includes a dash of ground clove. I had my doubts about that, but after tasting it, I now add a bit of clove to many of my beef dishes.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons     butter

1                            medium onion, peeled and chopped

3                            stalks celery, with leaves, chopped

2                            medium carrots, sliced

1 teaspoon          minced garlic

2 1/2 cups           leftover meat, such as turkey, chicken, or pork; cut to bite-size pieces

                              salt, to taste

                              black pepper, to taste

1/4 teaspoon       dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon       dried basil

2 cups                  gravy, more or less to appearance, texture, and taste

3 cups                  mashed potatoes, more or less to taste

1/4 cup                 sour cream

                              corn, green beans, peas; optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, celery and carrots, cooking until onions are translucent.


Gently heat mashed potatoes until stir-able, and stir in the sour cream.
Add turkey, seasonings, and garlic, cook 2 minutes.
Add gravy, cooking until heated through. Transfer to a 1.5-quart baking dish.


Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the meat mixture
If your meat mixture is pretty runny, leave the dish uncovered as it bakes. If it’s dry, cover it.
Bake for 30 minutes.

His Blood Be on Us

*

Matthew 27.25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

As we approach Easter, let us consider the crowds that demanded that Jesus be crucified. Barely a week prior, this crowd had hailed Jesus as He rode on a donkey, as their Messiah and King. They were right about that. But they had not eyes to see from God’s perspective. They had only human, earthly perspective. They wanted a political king; they wanted to be saved from their current predicament.

Before Pilate, the crowd asked for Barabbas to be released, and for Jesus to be crucified (under the chief priests’ and elders’ persuasion). Pilate washed his hands and declared himself “innocent of the blood of this just person.” The crowd replied, “His blood be on us, and on our children.”

They were right about that, too.

In the book of Acts, Peter set them straight about what, exactly, happened. Acts 5.27-30 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28Saying, you… intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said… 30The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree

All humanity were a part of that crowd – we were a part of that crowd. In our flesh, we want nothing to do with the Holy and Righteous Son of God. Just as Eve decided in the Garden, we prefer to be our own gods and decide for ourselves how we want to live.

But God had a different plan, and a different love.

Jesus’ blood, that blood that we spilled, the blood on our hands: That blood is the same blood that God planned all along to save us. He used that blood to cleanse us from the sin of desiring that blood.

Ephesians 1.7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. John 3.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

*image from google images

Recipe Friday: Beef Stew in the Instant Pot

This recipe takes a bit longer than the dump-set-and-forget-it types, as it takes some babysitting. I cook the meat, then add the potatoes and carrots and cook again. Total time is about 2 1/2 hours. A quicker way to cook it is to add all the ingredients and then bring to pressure for 18 minutes. I did that the first time, from a recipe I found; but the potatoes and carrots were too soft and mushy for me.
Any kind of red meat would go nicely in this stew.
A nice alternative to the cornstarch slurry is to add instant mashed potato flakes, a little at a time, until the desired thickness.

This is good with a crunchy, chewy bread, or biscuits.

Servings: 4 – 6
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 2.5 hours, includes coming to pressure and natural pressure release

Ingredients:

2 pounds beef stew meat (or venison or whatever kind)

2 medium-large onions, diced

2 generous stalks celery, diced, include leaves

a few shakes each of spices: paprika, celery seed, basil, cayenne, minced garlic, parsley

1 cup strong, hot coffee; mix 1 tablespoon salt into it to dissolve

1 cup water

4 or 5 medium potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

7 medium-large carrots, cut into bite-size pieces

4 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water or broth to make a slurry

Directions: Use Sauté mode to brown meat and onion. When mostly cooked, stir in celery. Cook maybe 10 minutes more, then add spices and stir well. Cook another 5 minutes.
Add a small amount of the coffee/salt, and scrape to stir up the fond.
Pour the rest of the coffee, and the extra cup of water, into the pot. Stir.
Put on the lid, set to Seal. Set Meat/Stew mode to 10 minutes.
Since it was hot from the sautéing, the pot took about 10 minutes to come to pressure.
Natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then release pressure.
Press Cancel.
Remove lid carefully.
Add the potatoes and carrots, stir.
Replace the lid and seal.
Set Meat/Stew mode to 8 minutes.
When the 10 minutes is finished, allow 10 minutes for natural pressure release, then release pressure and remove the lid.
Press Cancel, then press Sauté.
Stir in cornstarch slurry and stir thoroughly. Allow to simmer and thicken.
Serve.

Only a Little Sin

Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. Some might think it was only a little sin – why cast them out for one sin?

Well, the sin was deciding they wanted to be like God, knowing good and evil, for wanting to decide for themselves where the plumbline should be.

Where does God draw the line on sin? Certainly not where we would decide to draw the line.

And, if God did not cast them out for “one little sin,” how could there ever be a perfect place to live for eternity? Do we really want Heaven to be a place where we can decide for ourselves what is good and evil?

I say NO; we already are living in that place, and it certainly is not Heaven.

With this “wisdom” we have, we make ourselves the judge and jury of all we see. That’s one concern with the media. Every wrong is displayed for everyone to see, and everyone has their own opinion on how the issue should be addressed. Everyone decides for themselves what is good and evil. We can easily see how this causes division.

“One little sin” leads to another – it’s a slippery slope. Look how quickly that sin in the garden turned into murder with Cain and Abel.

We absolutely must recognize that only God has the true plumbline, and that He has the power, the love, and the right to rule over His creation and decide the rules for holiness and righteousness.

May we bow before God’s wisdom, authority, majesty, power, glory, honor, and love.

Revelation 4.11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Recipe Friday: Funfetti Chocolate Bars

Just so we understand one another, this recipe has no nutritional value and is, in fact, pretty much a negative nutritional value. It has a lot of sugar, and sugar snags your immune system for up to six hours, while it processes the garbage out of your body.

That said, they are delicious, quick, and easy. These are good for church potlucks.

We had these at an assisted living lunch, and they were so good I looked up a few recipes online, and patched this one together.

For variety, you can substitute for the milk chocolate bars:

  • Chocolate almond bars
  • Krispy chocolate bars
  • Rolo caramel pieces
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Heath candy bars, or sprinkle Heath bits
  • Hershey kisses
  • Chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Peanut butter chips
  • Any combination of these

These could be frosted, but it would really be overkill, I think.

Yield: 1 9×13 pan

Ingredients:

1 boxed Funfetti cake mix

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted

3 eggs

6 Hershey milk chocolate candy bars, full \ regular size, unwrapped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix together the dry cake mix, melted butter, and eggs.
Press half the dough into a greased 9×13 baking pan.
Arrange the 6 unwrapped, whole candy bars atop the dough (If needed, break the bars so they fit the pan).
Working carefully, smooth out remaining dough on top of the candy bars.
NOTE: wet hands work well for spreading and smoothing dough.
Bake at 350° 13 – 16 minutes, until golden brown.
Allow to cool. Cut into bars.

Firstborn Son

*

Luke 2.7a And she brought forth her firstborn son

Mary was a virgin when the Holy Ghost came upon her and she conceived. She knew beforehand that she would bear a son, and that His name would be called Jesus. This was her firstborn.

As I read this in Luke Chapter 2, I thought of the firstborn of the human race. Adam and Eve were created, but not born of a woman.

Genesis 4.1, 2 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.  And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 

Cain was Eve’s firstborn, the firstborn of the entire human race. His younger brother, Abel was born next (we don’t know if they were twins, since the verse doesn’t indicate that Eve conceived again after Cain).

But the firstborn of the human race killed his younger brother. This is a manifestation of Jeremiah 17.9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Every human ever born of man and woman has a desperately wicked heart. We are a race steering ourselves to death.

And then there’s Mary. We don’t know much about Mary prior to the conception and delivery, and again not much afterward. Did God pick her because she was so good? Mary had the same deceitful and desperately wicked heart that everyone else has. But she was a virgin, we know that (Luke 1.27); she humbly accepted all that her Almighty God told her through the angel Gabriel (Luke 1.28 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her); and sang a praise to God her Savior (Luke 1.46 – 56).

Luke 2.7a And she brought forth her firstborn son

Jesus was God’s firstborn (and only!) Son, too: John 3.16 (my emphasis) For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God offered salvation for the human race by offering His only and beloved Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice. God loves us just as much as He loves His Son. God cannot love anyone less, because He is perfect, and He has only perfect love.

Jesus remains the only perfect example of human flesh submitting to the complete authority of God, every moment of every second of every day that He lived on Earth. He had no sin (1 John 3.5 And ye know that he (Christ) was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.)

There’s quite a difference between the firstborn of the human race and the firstborn of God through the human race. Jesus had a human heart, but that heart was in perfect submission to His Heavenly Father. Because of that, He had perfect peace always; He was in perfect communion with God always

We can strive to have the same peace of Jesus: God gives us a new heart when we acknowledge Him as rightful Lord and Savior, when we bow humbly before Him and confess our sin. God made us a new creature (2 Corinthians 5.17), with the mind of Christ (2 Corinthians 2.16).

We can humbly acknowledge that the throne of the universe (and my heart) belongs to God, and that He is right and just. How often do we give God His place, vs how often do we imagine ourselves on that throne?

Even though we are born of the human race with deceitful and desperately wicked hearts, God, in His love, has made a way, through His firstborn, for us to not only be with Him forever in Heaven, but to live here on Earth with Him in perfect peace (Isaiah 26.3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee).

* Image from TheTorah.com

Recipe Friday: Chili Cheeseburger Stew

I made this on a day when I didn’t have anything planned for dinner, or anything in mind. I started with a pound of burger and some onions, and kept throwing stuff in. Turned out pretty good; and it’s all in one pot.
I’ve been trying to use up a “government cheese” block someone gave us that we’ve had for a long time. It’s like Velveeta, I guess: rather a soft, yellow cheese-like substance. I don’t know if it’s real cheese or not. You can use whatever cheese you like in this recipe; cheddar, mexican, monterey jack, colby – all, I think, would go well.
I used part of a bag of frozen corn, but the amount was about a can’s worth.
This went really well with corn bread. In fact, you could put this in a casserole dish, spread corn bread dough on top, and bake in the oven at 350° for about 20 minutes. What we did was put some baked cornbread in the bowl with the stew.

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef or whatever kind of ground meat you have

1 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 8.3 ounce can baked beans (I used Bush’s Original)

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 (14.5-ounce) can corn, drained

5 ounces choice of cheese, cubed

Directions:

In a medium-size pot, brown the burger and onion. Add the garlic; cook and stir one minute.
Add the baked beans, stir.
Add the green chilies, chili powder, and corn; stir. Heat to bubbling.
Stir in the cheese. Cook, and stir occasionally, until the cheese is melted.
Serve hot.