Seven Commandments According to Ruth

 

Still working on my fabulous self-help book — I can’t imagine it will ever be done, as I am waiting to resolve all my “issues” first!  Whenever it is done, these “Commandments” will be part of it. Consider this a sneak preview!

  1. Accept what is. This is your life – today, right now – what you want is not what is real – what is real is what is – right now! (Compassionate acceptance of self and others and the entire situation exactly as it is will lead you to freedom. – Cheryl Huber)
  2. Pay attention. Another way to say “live in the present.” Be alert to your surroundings and the actions and feelings of others. Avoid dwelling on the past or forecasting the future.
  3. Expect nothing. Be pleasantly surprised! This is not as depressing and cynical as it sounds. We are often let down when our “hopes and dreams” do not turn out the way we believe they should. Why continue to set ourselves up for disappointment when we can live free of expectations and be happy?
  4. Take nothing personally. Why do we continue to believe that the actions or non-actions of others have something to do with us? This does not absolve us of responsibility; it just means the world isn’t out to get us.
  5. Be kind to yourself. Humans are not perfect – this has been well-established throughout the annals of time! Yet we continue to hold ourselves to impossible or unrealistic standards and beat ourselves up over the slightest failing. We must be kind to ourselves.
  6. Honor yourself and others. Two words but a whole book could be written on them. This requires responsible action. What kind of life do you need to lead to honor yourself? Change is incremental but always happening. This also includes issues related to balance and taking care of ourselves. An extension of honoring yourself is of course, honoring others. Think the greatest commandment.
  7. Be who you are. What more can we say? Embrace who you are and enjoy what you have to offer your family, friends, the world.

Be aware, these are not just pithy statements you can re-visit every few weeks or months or years. Success (is there such a thing?) requires constant re-visiting, daily revisiting. I find whenever I am out of balance, depressed, or unproductive; inevitably, I am violating one of these commandments. The worst offenders? 3, 4, & 5.

On which commandments could you use work?

A Christmas Hymn

Okay, so likely not too  many people aspire to hymn-writing, but I have wanted for years to write a hymn. The Moravians have a rich history of music and hymn-writing. I always felt like given the appropriate tune, I could put together a nice hymn. I’ve just been waiting for inspiration! 

So, the time came this Christmas – the stars somehow aligned and I put together a little Christmas hymn, sung to the tune of Hyfrydol. Hyfrydol was written in 1831 by Rowland Hugh Prichard, a teacher from Wales, who was only 20 at the time. It quickly crossed the Atlantic Ocean and became popular with American Protestants. I prefer it moving a little more quickly than the midi file I found on the internet, but it gives you the gist. 

Here are the words: 

Shepherds Watch

1) Shepherds watch as night is falling,
when good news the angels bring;
“Glory to the Lord most holy, 
now is born a child, a King!”
O’er the hills the sounds resounding; 
heav’nly hosts light the night sky above;
shepherds hurry to see the baby
born to save us by grace through love.

2) Wise men from the East will follow
in the sky a bright, shining star;
leading them to a child most royal
for whom three will travel afar;
Gifts they bear most precious, costly;
fitting homage to the King;
Miles they travel to worship with gold and myrhh
honor, glory to Him they bring. 

3) Joined together we gather here
 to celebrate this holy birth;
come, Lord Jesus, your light so fair, so bright 
fills us with abundant worth;
Human mother, Holy Father;
born to save us from sin and fear;
With great joy we raise our voices
“hallelujah!” to Christ most dear.
 

Somehow I doubt it will become a Christmas standard (I think Silent Night and Joy to the World probably have a lock on that), but I sure enjoyed creating it!

On Being Gluten-Free

In our family, we called it “the missing enzyme.” No one thought it was serious, but it seemed there were certain foods that created havoc in the digestive tracts of my maternal grandmother’s side of the family. We’d never even heard of gluten at that point. Of course, we have since discovered that gluten can have a negative effect on much more than the digestive tract and for many more people than once thought. Have some strange malady for which you cannot uncover the cause? It’s very possible gluten is the culprit.

Gluten is a protein found in many grains, most commonly wheat, rye, barley and a few others. It’s also often hidden in processed foods. Up to 1/3 of the population is thought to have some level of gluten sensitivity. Look, cows have how many stomachs? Five, I believe. That’s what they use to digest grains. We humans? One measly stomach. It doesn’t look good.

A new friend was recently diagnosed with a gluten intolerance and is feeling rather sad and deprived. I wanted to pass along to her (and any others interested) a bit of advice as a 4-year veteran of a gluten-free lifestyle.

Don’t waste a lot of money on gluten-free (GF) products, such as cookies and breads. They’re not as good as the real thing and never will be. That said – there are a few products worth having if you absolutely cannot live without some bread-like foods in your life:

  • Betty Crocker has a new line of GF baking mixes and the chocolate chip cookies do the trick. Plus, they are easy to make. There are even brownies and cake mixes available. Gotta have brownie bars? Possible now and more affordable thanks to the folks at Betty Crocker.
  • Adore the occasional pancake? Pamela’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Baking Mix is a must-have for the pantry. Delicious with GF chocolate chips!! Buy the big bag – it’s more cost-effective. You can use this like Bisquick.
  • If you like sandwiches or toast, Glutino’s Harvest Corn bread stands out. It is best toasted and it’s a good idea to keep it frozen if you don’t eat it every day. My son likes using it for lunch sandwiches and finds it holds up best if toasted and prepared the morning he plans to eat it.
  • Amy’s Rice Crust Cheese Pizza is an adequate substitute if you’ve gotta have pizza and is especially good with veggie and pepperoni add-ons. There is also a personal-sized version that is good when there’s just one of you eating.
  • As for pasta, I recommend any Tinkyada brand, which includes spaghetti, penne, macaroni, etc. To me, you cannot tell the difference from regular pasta.

All of these are more expensive than gluten-filled items, but if you feel deprived without them, they provide good alternatives. Beware, these are generally higher in carbs, calories, and lower in fiber than traditional breads and baked goods.

Mostly, it’s just as easy to skip bread and pasta and stick to the basics: meat, cheese, veggies and fruits. Cooked spinach provides a great bed for spaghetti and other red/white sauces. Spaghetti squash also works well if you like that kind of thing. Just shop around the edges of the supermarket and you’ll be in good shape! Avoid frozen and highly processed foods.  Try out other grains, like quinoa, which is great cooked in GF chicken broth. Potatoes can also be your friend, and sweet potatoes are more nutritionally dense than white potatoes.  Of course, brown rice is still available, though you have to watch the Rice-a-Roni and other prepared rice dishes – those often have gluten.

As a matter of fact, watch out for hidden gluten in:

  • Soy sauce: always check the ingredients.
  • Cream of … soups: there are a few lines of GF soups, but the vast majority of Cream of Mushroom, Chicken, Celery, etc. contain gluten. This is an item you don’t automatically think to check.
  • Multi-vitamins and medicines: believe it or not, some multi-vitamins contain gluten.
  • Beer: hello, hops?
  • Malt also contains gluten, which is sometimes hidden in things like Rice Krispies, which you’d think would be gluten-free.
  • Be careful about french fries, because these are often cooked in fryers used to prepare breaded items like onion rings, chicken nuggets, etc. Those with celiac disease or serious intolerance may react.
  • Oats are still up for debate. Some say they are never safe due to cross-contamination with grains in the fields. Others believe they are fine. Best to find an organic version you like and just try them. You should know immediately if they’ll present an issue.
  • Grated cheeses: Some grated cheeses (especially mozzerella and cheddar) are packaged with flour, so always check the ingredients on that packaging.

Check out the Celiac Solution web site for a good overview on hidden gluten. Bottom-line: check labels carefully and be aware of some of the codes for gluten-containing ingredients.

Resign yourself to gluten-free living, because frankly, you can’t afford not to. I find it much easier to resist pizza or a pound cake because I know absolutely that I will pay (now and later) for eating it. Still working on cheesecake, since you know I can just avoid that graham cracker crust and still enjoy all that creamy gluten-free goodness! It’s incredible how quickly I was able to find all of the GF fatty foods still available to me!

My son, who is 12, has been GF since the age of four, and it has made all the difference in both his diet and level of fitness. He is very aware of what he eats, and has a much healthier diet than 95% of his friends. Though he is still sometimes saddened when others enjoy cupcakes, cookies, and pizza, he realizes that in the long run, he is better off. Being GF provides a great excuse to enjoy healthy eating, with extra incentive to do it right!

Katie’s Fingerless Gloves

Magic Loop Child’s Fingerless Gloves

These gloves are knit on one long (42″) size 3 (U.S.) circular needle, using sock yarn. The ones pictured were custom-made for my niece Katie, who is 7.

Cast on 36 stitches and divide stitches evenly on needle.
Join stitches and knit in K2, P2 rib pattern for approximately 2″.

Note that this is an alternative to using double-pointed needles. Read more about the technique here. 

Begin working thumb by continuing in rib pattern (k2, p2) katie-olderfor 17 stitches, placing a marker, knitting 2 stitches, placing a second marker, then working the final 17 stitches in the rib pattern.

Work a second row in rib pattern, slipping the markers and knitting the 2 stitches in between.

Then, repeat the pattern below until there are 12 stitches between markers, and end with Row 3:

Row 1: Work in rib pattern to first marker, slip marker, increase 1 stitch (I knit into the front and back of the stitch to add a stitch), knit to within 1 stitch of second marker, increase 1 stitch, slip marker, then work to end of row.
Rows 2&3: Work all stitches in rib pattern, and knit stitches between markers.

Now, work to marker, remove marker, and bind off (BO) the 12 stitches. Remove other marker and finish row in rib pattern.

To finish the hand, work round in rib pattern for 17 sts, casting on and knitting 2 stitches using the backward loop or single cast-on method, then finishing the next 17 stitches in the rib pattern.

Continue working in established pattern for about 1.5″. To finish, purl a round, knit a round, then bind off. Sew in ends.

(The hat is a simple roll-brim knit in stockinette on circular needles. I just knit, knit, knit.)

2014 Update: My niece is now 12! Time for a new set of gloves. I’m casting on 40 stitches (realize I should do this in 4-stitch increments. For the thumb gusset, work up to 14 rows, then bind off. Since this pattern is so stretchy, it should fit her well (along with small women). I will also knit longer sections for better coverage. The new gloves with a complementary hat appear below. Beautiful, older Katie models them above.

katie-glove-update