Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My $13 Shopping Spree

I love Goodwill. I always seem to luck out and find what I am looking for, sometimes that which I am not looking for. Thr other day was a perfect example. I had about 20 minutes to spare in between appointmets so I whipped in and began my search.

A few months back I passed up the dome of a cheese dish. I have two dishes and no dome. They were broken by an adorable curly haired little boy who had an obsession with mommie's cupboards. (Mommie should've moved them higher, she hadn't expected her precocious child to explore so soon. That's only been about 9 years ago. You can tell how much I use a cheese dish/dome. I want to now though. I'll begin making goat cheese soon and would like to have a little display plate. I searched and searched. Last time I was in the store, I found two. This was before I remembered I needed them. I then forgot about it until my cleaning exercises this week, at which point I vowed I'd find a dome.

About to give up, my little eye spied a brown bottle. Perfect. I could already see sunflowers in the top. Score! I also looked for short skirts (not too short, we'll get to that in a minute.) I've come to LOVE wearing skirts and not just for going to town either. Like knitting, I don't know how this happened. I just woke up one morning and POOF, I wanted to start wearing skirts. I'm kidding, it wasn't that dramatic! Perhaps it is the path I've taken to embrace and honor my femininity or my love of previous eras? Whatever the case, I enjoy wearing skirts, I'm not questioning it any more, I'm going with it. I happened to come across two skirt that matched my cre8tive cowgirl style. Little did I know the green one would come in handy (keep reading).

As I walked out, giddy with my finds, I noticed out of the corner of my eye and adorable pink table. It's the perfect size for sitting a flower arrangement beside the back door or for BS to use with her kitchen set. The price though is what made me jump.......$1.25. The old garage sale, junk finding adrenaline kicked in. YEE HAW. I ran back in, slapped the cash on the table, put the back seat down in the subaru and head to my appointment.

I didn't not, at this point notice that the wind had come up. An hour later, on my way to Shopko, I was shocked to experince the gust of wind. Not nearly has shocked however as the man behind me that may be now scarred for life. Right there in the parking lot, the wind did a perfect "Marilyn Monroe" on me. I am blaming it on the wind. I was utterly embarrassed, trying to collect the bottom of my dress and get it to where it should be, just above my knees. I didn't realize that it was so poofy. I also didn't realize that anyone would ever see my underwear! Gasp. I'm sure I turned a billion shades of red and scrambled as best as I could to the safety of the indoors. Dear God! I would never have worn this dress had I paid attention to the weather forcast.

I looked hard to see if he was gone before I ran back out to my car, this time with my skirt stashed between my legs, and gathered up as much as I could with my hands. I still had three more stops, one lifting a laundry basket out of the back of the car. Sitting in front of the dry cleaners I decided to try out the green skirt. The plan was to shimmy it on and wear it under the red plaid dress. I wasn't any place where I could buy leggins and really didn't want another pair. I have two right now, that's plenty. So I hiked up the skirt. Sure I was sitting in the front seat of my car but I checked the size and thought it was fine. Why was it tight? I couldn't even zip the damn thing. To my surprise, it had been altered, stitched on the size by someone who also loved the color but had about a two inch smaller inch than I. Drat. I tried to rip out the seam and realized it wasn't going to happen without the appropriate tool. It was tight enough I was sure it wasn't going to fall off. It didn't and since it was under my short shirt dress no one had any idea that it was halfway UNZIPPED! It made me giggle then when I went into Menards, the last stop before my 30 mile trek home, when a girl said to me, "I like your outfit, it's really cute." Yeah, that's how I roll. I always plan my outfits.............!

I went home and promptly changed into a much longer skirt. In fact, I am wearing a similar one today. There's no wind, so I think I'm safe! We are headed to a football game shortly. Our boys qualified for the Punt, Pass, and Kick competition. After that we'll load up and head north. I'll be attending a writing workshop in the morning. I am really excited about it. The kids are excited too, they are going to go hang out with Uncle Carl and Melissa. The boys are really wanting someone to take them fishing. Poor things, neither of their parents are into such sport. I told them when they were little that I wouldn't touch a fish........or a worm. They've stopped asking. They know if they are ever to learn, its not going to be from me. Nope, not my gift. I'll eat 'em, but do not ask me to bait a hook, catch one or clean one. I admire people who can. I knit. I hike. I read. I garden. I clean. I cook. I can ride a horse and rope a steer if I had enough time. I do a lot of things but I don't bait any hooks! At this point in my life, I do know where my strengths lie!

So here's to enjoying a beautiful autumn weekend with your family and friends! May you find an abundance of treasures and good deals!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rare Sight: Clutter-Free Table

I am taking in the accomplishment of today......the living room, laundry room, pantry, bathrooms, our bedroom and my closet have been reclaimed. Praise the Lord!

I can feel the efforts physically, my feet are killin' me, and I wore good shoes. I do wonder how many miles I trekked today; it feels like 20.

The feeling I get from a clean, organized, dusted and sparkly home is probably comparable to a "runner's high". I feel as sore!

I scrapped my original agenda when I realized my clutter and cleaning issues were a little worse than I had imagined. If this tells you anything, I didn't even turn on the ipod.....! I know, rare. I'm not sure I would've even heard the music, I was on a mission. I still am. My approach led me to go through my closet. Here I was relentless. I let go of several "oh if I just drop a few pounds these will fit item". Forget it. Not even trying.
So while I'm exhausted amd may appear to spend the entirety of my days cleaning, I assure you there will be different content on this soon. Very soon. Right after I get this house back into shape!

PS if you want a fab granola recipe, let me know......I found a keeper. BS is taking it for snack tomorrow!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Happines Is A Clean Fridge~Inside and Out

I actually despise this fridge. It is nearly impossible to keep clean, no matter how much I scrub it. I had hoped the darn thing would die but alas, after 16 years, it seems to be working fine. I'd love a wider version and an entirely different set up. The freezer compartment is a joke, very "slim" and hard to reach anything. I do have it stuffed to the gills, but that's beside the point.

My pet peeve is having my fridge covered with papers and magnets, at least the front of it. I know it is a very popular spot for art work, reminders, etc. but it makes my already small kitchen feel even tinier when the fridge is covered. This summer I created an actual message board that I think is pretty darn cool. I post "notes to self" as well as leal plan, school lunch menus, to-do's, grocery lists, invitations, and about anything else that we needs to be kept track of. It hangs on the wall nearest the kitchen. I think Chad thought I was insane when I brought it home and asked him to hang it up ("You want this where?")  but it's proved to be a perfect place and now the kids are even using it too! Way cool! And yes, there is one picture of the kids. Just one. Its from last Christmas and I loved the memories that it reminds me of. It makes me happy to walk in and see their smiling, non-fighting faces.

White has never been a favorite color so I am thinking of painting it. I think a copper would look really cook in my kitchen so I'll be researching to see what the steps are. Since it hasn't died yet, I'll give it a go. Has anyone tried painting a fridge? If so, I'd love to hear about your experince. I'm going to paint the hood above my stove too. I figure if I can paint a `67 Forester camp trailer, surely I can paint this ugly beast!

View From The Top

Here's the look from the top of my fridge~ I had sooo much fun crafting this look! I'd been wondering what to do with my cool wire basket and today my cre8tive energy met with the opportunity to design. Like the classes I teach, I rarely put the same things together twice. Though I have a place for the cookbooks, this will provide quick and easy access. I intend to do a lot of cooking this fall. My family is ready. I've taken a break since my focus has been on canning. I'm about to wrap up the season.

I realized today............I have a lot of cookbooks! These were just a few that made it in the basket.

Pretzels and A Clean Kitchen

Today was a productive day, one of the more efficient ones this month. It is nearly 10 pm and I am finally in a chair with my feet up. They hurt! The counters were scrubbed, the fridge cleared and organized, dishes were washed and put away and the cupboards no longer look like the scene of a tornado. As strange as it sounds, I actually HAVE to clean the kitchen before I can cook it in. This must revert back to my obsessive need to make a bed before I go to sleep?!  I feel better in a clean kitchen, I feel like cooking and cre8ting and that is what I did!

The cleaning didn't start as soon as I wanted it too. There were follow up phone calls to make, appointments to schedule and some time on the internet (aka time warp/black hole). I ordering craft supplies that I haven't been able to get locally. We also found the perfect prop for the 2010 Halloween costumes. Sparky has wanted to be this character for three years. We finally found just the right article of clothing and his brother thought it was so COOL that he wanted one too! I'd love to share more but........they've sworn me to secrecy!

The above picutres shows today's favorite project. I finally got around to using the wire basket I found this summer. Though I have a cupboard, I decided to showcase my favorite cookbooks for the the fall. I added my favorite plaid thermos and a few colorful flowers to perk up the space.

Once things were in working order I started into the cooking projects. First I made three batches of soft pretzels  two batches of soft pretzels, one didn't turn out so well! Pecos was happy to devour the "hard ones" as he worked on his homework. The pretzels are for BS's preschool snack tomorrow.

After the pretzels, I snuck down to the craft room to work with the new alcohol inks. WOW. I love, love, love them. I made a fun tag for the snack basket and my little helper also whipped up a work of art with her animal stamps. My goal is to get this room back in shape by Thursday. I'm going to need at least a day, maybe two. It's in sad, sad shape. I hate to admit it, but it's become a "toss n go" room. Its probably my favorite room in the house but it doesn't look like it right now. Anyone want a job? hee hee

Next, I went for a walk. The day was just too gorgeous not to get outside. I love this time of year and the cool evenings that greet us. Every year the crop near our house is different. While I love the wheat, there is just something magical about corn. As the breeze billowed through the shucks, I settled into a peaceful walking meditation. Though I had been on my feet all day, this was the kind of refresher I needed.

Back at the bard, I did the goat and chicken chores and then started in on the soup. I really should have paid attention to the recipe when it said 3. 14oz can of diced tomatoes. It would have been faster! Instead, I used my own. They were delicious, but being short on time, it would have sped up the process.

We dined on a wonderful Sausage Tortellini Soup. Everyone agreed that it was a "keeper". Two out five voted for more hot sausage next time. Majority wins though, especially if I am the cook! This may be an excellent holdiay soup, we'll see. I'm still quite fond of Chicken Corn Chowder. I like to start my experimentation early in the fall. I buy all my ingredients in November. My goal is to not step foot in a grocery store during December!

I've sketched out a schedule that will include reorganzing every room in the house. I really (x 1,000) want to put in new carpet in the upstairs office and bedrooms in October. I'll feel better knowing that I've got through and prepped before I begin. It is unknown at this time if 1. I have the funds and 2. if I have the help to move furniture out and back in again. I am proceeding though, I cannot stand to see the gross, disgusting, stained, old carpet any longer. eeeeek.

I think I finally found my mojo! It's long overdue. If I can get this house back into shape, I'll have more time for doing the things that I really want to do. I have a feeling this fall is going to fly by. I want to enjoy it and I know I'll enjoy it more when all my cute little duckies are in a row! Right now, three of those duckies are in bed and I suppose I should get there too. Tomorrow morning I'll tackle our bedroom, closet, bathroom, laundry room, floors, sinks, drawers, and pantry. In the afternoon, I'll resume my tomato killing canning, and peack jamming. Wednesday is town and errand day. Thursday, I meet with the dreaded basement disaster.....

Do you clean and reorganize each season? If so, please share any tips and suggestions you have!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Go Big Red!

We had the opportunity to take in a Husker game on Saturday. We had four tickets so Chad arranged for BS to go to her Aunt and Uncle's house. This was fine by her, she LOVES playing with her cousins.

It was a super fast trip down to Lincoln. We made time for one stop, just ONE! Chad went to look for supplies, he's got an elk hunting trip coming up. I high tailed it to Michael's, oh how I heart that place! I found some adorable stamps for a buck apiece and a few more essentials for card making. I'm going to explore the world of alcohol inks! I've been studying the technique and I'm excited to try it! Some on my Christmas list will be receiving a stack of specially designed greeting cards. I'm in the mood to craft and cre8te.....I just need the TIME. I know,...... don't we all?!

I will be tackling my annual "go through every room in the house and organize" this week. I'll leave no room untouched. And I will end up in the craft room and I WILL LIVE THERE FOREVER! Ok, that was a bit overzealous, I'm sure the point is clear!

I put off my cleaning efforts today though. We slept for four and a half hours and headed north for my adorable niece's baptism. She is such a DOLL! We had a yummy lunch and enjoyable visit with the Johnston and Sitz families. The cousins all had a blast! We now have quite a range too, from ages 12 to 2 months. There's rarely a quiet moment and we love it!

We're on our way home now. Supplies have been gathered. Our larder will be a bit more full by the time we unload. I'll be making granola and pretzels for BS's preschool snacks. I got ingredients for Tortellini and Italian Sausage Soup tomorrow night. Peaches didn't get canned :( beans didn't get "dilled" :( tomatoes didn't get sauced :(

We did have a fun time watching the Husker game with our boys and spending time with our family today. What a great way to relax into fall!

I hope your weekend was wonderful!

Friday, September 24, 2010

This Spud's For You

I didn't know if I'd be able to say this! I planted potatoes that had gone to seed in my basement, not sure if we’d have much to harvest or not? This summer, I’d gone out to dig up some “new” potatoes for a Sunday dinner dish. Much to my dismay there wasn’t much to dig up. I blamed this on the horses. They are excellent escape artists and unbeknownst to me, they’d trekked over to the garden for nibbling and rolling. GRRRR!

They made a serious dent in the potatoes and beans. I wasn’t sure what would or could be recovered. I did my best to keep bugs and pests off of  the ones that hadn't been smashed. I've not had the best luck this year, remember the goat ate the tomato plants.......twice. The kids and I picked off beetles and took them to the chickens for afternoon snacks. When canning season hit and I forgot all about potatoes. That is until last night………….

Chad and the “little garden helper” dug up one hill. It produced these two large spuds and several others. There’s something quite magical about digging up potatoes in the fall; it’s like finding buried treasure……that you can EAT! And, eat we do! We smash, mash, roast, grill, bake, hash, broil and fry taters. Chad bought a french fry cutter, which was used often last winter, usually on Sunday nights. Although I despise the smell of deep fat frying in my kitchen (*barf*) because it lingers for days, it truly is one of my family’s favorite way to devour spuds. I LOVE the crunck of kettle chips, delicious.

It looks like we’ll have another nice harvest this fall,  digging will commence soon. My wish at this time is for a root cellar. The store room downstairs is a bit on the warm side, my onions are trying to sprout. I’ve a mind to bury one of the box car storage units we have. It is insulated and I think it would do the trick. We’re going to need to do something with all the jars that I’ve canned this summer too. Though I never feel like I do enough, it does appear that we’ll not run out of green beans for awhile……….57 jars worth!

I got several jars of salsa, chili base, spaghetti sauce and tomato soup. I didn’t get a lot of sweet corn put up (thanks cows, again, grrrrrr) but we had quite a few bags left over from the previous year. I hope to put up at least a couple more batches of tomato soup and mild salsa. I also have dill beans to make, peaches to jam and cantaloupe bread to bake. I wish my harvest was done……..when the snow flies, I guess that’ll be my sign.

Everything seems to be about a month or two behind. I normally have things a bit more organized, tidy and on track than what I do. By this time last year, I’d already switched the summer clothes out of closets and had the fall/winter ones in. The canned goods were neatly organized and on the shelves and I could walk across my floor without stepping on a sandbur! I feel like I am moving in slow motion and I don’t like it one bit. I look around and see so many things that need attention, yet only those things at the top of the list are what get done. I've abandoned all hope of getting to item number four on my list, one through three take the entire day! (I’m trying to remember how often I’ve mentioned this in blog posts! Sorry if I’m redundant.)

We'll be taking our boys to a Husker game tomorrow. We lucked out and got four tickets. Since there are five in our family, the youngest will be going to hang with her cousins. She'll be much happier with them than watching football. Sunday will likely find me a. resting and b. making jam and freezing the lug of peaches in my fridge downstairs. Harvest is here, isn't it? As least we have an amazing moon to look at!

I'll bet you've been working hard too; doing what you need to do to get ready for winter. If you can, take a break tonight, pull up a chair, light the firepit and grab a refreshing beverage........ THIS SPUD’S FOR YOU!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

He's NOT supposed to be in the house!

Meet Otis. Otis is NOT a house dog. He's being given a RARE opportunity to pretend he's a house dog but in about 30 minutes, he'll be marched right out to the deck where he normally resides. Why such harsh treatment? Have I got a story for you...........

Nearly two years ago, in October, I was preparing to watch my adorable nephews. Their parents were flying to San Diego for a much needed vacation/couples getaway/anniversary trip. I was more than happy to watch the boys, then ages, 2 and 3 along with my 3 year old daughter. My older two, then aged 7 and 10 would be gone during the day but able to help entertain the little ones at night. No problem. Two days prior to their arrival, my brother-in-law called to ask if we wanted a puppy...........or two. We'd agreed to adopt a "Borgi" pup when it was ready. Unfortunately, something happened to the mom and the babies were found cold, hungry and near death. Being a dog person, I couldn't let them die. Even if they did, I had to give it a shot......

I met him with two teeny tiny puppies at the Vet. We bought a $60 can of formula and two small bottles. I researched to see 1. if it was possible to keep them alive and 2, what they would need for care. Their home was a small box with a heating pad in the bottom. I fed them warm formula every four hours. I wiped their little bottoms and put them on training pads after each feeding. I kept them in a warm, dark room unitl they opened their eyes. They were almost two weeks old when they came to my house. Two days later the nephews arrived.

If there was ever any desire to have another child, after BS, this solidified a clear NO. I was up every four hours, just as I was with my human children. The difference was, I didn't put any of them into a box! I got just as tired, grouchy and forgetful. Oldest Nephew found carrots in the silverware drawer............

The week went fine. My nephews are very easy boys to play with, care for and entertain. When they left, I still had two tiny puppies, and they were not as easy to play with, care for and entertain. They grew though. They grew and grew and grew. Cheeko was the smaller of the two and at times I really worried that he was not going to make it. There was no question about Otis. He was definitely thriving. It was clear that he had a strong will to live. His attitude showed through very early. We should have named him Hank. He thinks he's the greatest cowdog to have ever lived. We're not sure how he came to arrive at this awareness, he certainly hasn't been praised for his herding skills. Most of the time, he's in the way and causes more frustration and wrecked fences than anything. However, we can't help but love the stinker!

Of coarse I fell madly in love with the rogue. His darling eyes assured me that he loved and appreciated my care. Without my help, its likely that he would've perished. I trusted this would be enough to "cushion the blows" I was receiving from this youth. Everytime I turned around, he was peeing on something, often my leg. One morning he nawwed each end of my wooden bench, the chew toy sat idly on the floor. He scratched, he barked, he destoryed. No sock, shoe, boot, hat, cap, glove or coat was safe from the little pirnaha. But the thing I could most not stand was the constant peeing.........everywhere, in every room. Grrrrrr. I loving having a dog in the house. I cannot stand a dog that is not housebroken.

I came to the end of my rope very quickly. One cold morning my husband stated the obvious. "Robyn, he's not a house dog. Let him go outside, that's what he really wants." I suppose I'll feel the same way when my kids get ready to go to college. Here I was, being the protective "mother dog" (no comments about this) and wanting to protected my precious, adoptee from the harsh winds, sleet and cold. "No," protested I. "He's my baby, I'm sure he'll miss being inside with me and I don't want him to get sick." When I went around the corner, Chad opened the door wide, and with very little encouragement, Otis bounded out, happily into his "element".

He's never looked back. And after a week of repair, and finding many other things that he'd destroyed, I was amazed to find that I didn't miss him. He was a terrible menace. I was blinded by the mothering instincts, the ability to nurture and love. I suppose this is an assett but it cost me dearly in terms of time, worry and.............articles of clothing!

Otis is a true outdoor dog. He's never wanted to come back inside. He's happy living in the barn, sleeping on bales and chasing cats. The minute we start up the ranger, his ears perk up and he's loaded. This is a bit of a challenge mind you, he's got Corgi legs, which are short, fat and stubby. He's got a long body and sadly..........a bushy, border collie tale. He's sort of a freak of nature! He's mostly black with tan and on his chest is a distinct white cross. He wears this like a shield. He needs it too. When he climbed on the bench to snatch a little left over morsel from BS's plate, he was nearly beated to death with a broom. Until he jumped over in the chair, sitting on his haunches, flashing that unique, sign. Alright, "dog of God", OUT! OUT! With what looked like a puppy smirk, he s l o w l y meandered to the sliding glass door, again sat on his haunces and waited for me to open it. A miracle this was, because he hadn't tried scratching the hell out of it for once.

I believe he knows much more than what he lets on. He fancies himself a guard dog. He is always ready to go herd cattle, even if he doesn't know if he should be in front or the back. He's happy to chase horses back across the road, and help hunt for lost calves. He's just as happy to climb on a lamp at the camp fire or follow us down the road when we ride bikes. The one thing he does not do............ is come in the house. The few times he's been given a chance has ended promptly and in the same way, "No, oh......don't pee on that! Out! Out!

On occassion, his faithful buddy, Blue Sparkle, does her best to sneak him in the house. I've found him under her bed and in the living room watching a move. There's been a couple of times that I believe he's been in the house, though there isn't evidence that he has, just a hunch. He's happy to oblidge the little red head that puts a leash on him and leads him around, though he does so with caution. He knows the rules.

That did not deter him from lifting his leg today. He was good for as long as he could be. When BS sauntered into the kitchen for a snack, he shifted from his position on the floor. I had a feeling..............but I was too late. Up with right hind leg........"OTIS" I screamed. OUT! OUT! There is was, just a dribble on the bottom of my sofa and a little puddle on the floor. I didn't even have to show him where the door was............he already knew!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Thunder's Rollin

There's nothing I love more than a thunderstorm, especially in the fall. I'm one of the strange ones that find comfort in howling winds and torrents of rain. I'm sure I'd feel differently if I were in the elements, stranded somewhere; however the comfort of my home makes a storm somewhat of a thrill in my day. I enjoy watching the clouds swirl and today, I especially appreciate the cool air replacing what was hot and muggy just an hour ago.

I've turned off the burners this week. You can take that literally and figuratively. Knowing what the ki energies are in this month, and what lies ahead, it was important that I take some time off to recalibrate and come to center. I'm usually a busy girl, wound pretty tight but this week I'm working on slowing down, way down. I see a lot that I want to do, yet its clear that my focus must remain on the individuals directly in front of me! We are fully into our school schedule, which allows me approximately 4 hours of freedom, Monday through Wednesday!

It seems that what I thought was "getting things done" is really going in a lot of circles. In fact I'm realizing a lot of interesting things as I breathe in this air from the "side lines".

For once, I'm not worried about getting supper cooked and over with, showers taken, homework done and kids in bed. We're not even close to being on track tonight. We are opening the windows and feeling a powerful breeze billow through the curtains. We are all relaxing and visiting about the day. Soon the phone and computer will be shut down. Books will come out, lamps will be lit. It's Wednesday night and I've declared each consecutive Wednesday will be our "quiet night". I think we all could use a midweek break. Its nice to be treated to "mother nature's movie" just outside our window. Time to slip into our comfy clothes and snuggle down!

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Bubble Time.....

I'm taking a rare break this evening. I know I should've already fed my children by now and had supper cleaned up. Instead we elected to take a walk after homework and then enjoy the ensuing cool down. There are rain clouds looming in the west, I can feel the soft drops of rain as I type this.

Its felt like strange all dat today. Looking foggy and overcast yet remaining in the upper 80's and into the 90's. Its quite grim and grey and just the type of evening that makes me hunker down and appreciate home.

The wind has not let up and I hear thunder in the distance. I know I'll be heading indoors soon, but just for now, I'm pausing to officially welcome autumn and her signature sensations; the smell of pumpkin pie, spiced cider, popcorn, caramel apples, and homemade soup, lanterns lighted in the evening, reading books by the fire and snuggling down with the ones you love.

Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Mom Saves Nearly Everything!

My mom saves just about everything! I’ve slowly gotten a lot of stuff back through the years. Each time I’d come home there would be a bag or a box of old belongings that I would make a place for within my home. I love old things, especially ones that were mine when I was younger so its always a treat to see what Mom has “wrangled up” for me!

Pryce sleeps in my canopy bed WITH THE SAME RAINBOW BEDSPREAD and rainbow sheets though she loves her polka dot ones the best. She has the dresser that mom and dad bought for me at a farm sale when I was little. My mom carefully stripped paint and varnished the wood. Its adorable with the antique mirror. I have no idea how old it was when we got it but its loved and treasured, no matter what the worth. It now serves as a hold spot for various horses, toy kitties, spare change and………chewed gum.

We recently made a quick dash to V-town, which turned out to be a productive experience. I visited with the Mid Plains Community College Coordinator, and viewed the classroom where I hope to offer many FUN classes this semester and beyond. Pryce and I were also treated to a very special bag of surprises: a forgotten Flintstones coin purse, a plastic kitty from my Great Grandma Jeffries, a favorite Riddle Book with pop-up flaps, my blue ceramic jewelry box, a handmade shawl that I do remember wearing and my favorite little red sneakers! What great memories I was flooded with. I distinctly remember loving that little kitty. I wanted a cat of my own in the worst way; this toy was the closest I came to having one inside.

There have been times when I thought my mom saved too much. I realize this is not the case. If what you save has sentimental value, can be preserved in a way that keeps the items in good shape, and doesn’t take up a lot of space, then by all means, keep the “stuff”. This is changing my “toss it” philosophy! I do carefully monitor what I buy for my children, looking at the present value as well as what it might mean to them down the road.

I will say the “new treasures” have been a blessing. Pryce has played and played and played with the coin purse, jewelry box and kitty. Treasure boxes and trinkets are definitely her thing. She is the one I am now concerned with, my little preschool packrat!! Perhaps all this collecting and gathering will lead to an occupation with and passion for antiques or decorating or…………she’ll be my number one client? Don’t worry, she will be billed, especially when I get a call to help her downsize and organize all of the crap that I suspect will be in her house!

So while BS is now busy writing on the white board, I’d better get that way myself. I am taking a few days off for a “personal project”. I may or may not be blogging for a few days, we’ll see. I have much to do before I take a little break here and with five of us going in three different directions there are bags to pack, floors to clean, laundry to fold, fruit to pick, and counters to clear off. I dislike coming home to a disaster. I like to have a clean house BEFORE I leave and this time………… “it just ain’t-uh-gunna happen.”

I am going to be taking some time to rethink my path. I received some wonderfully creative ideas while visiting my childhood home. My Grandpa Otto is a great story teller. He was sharing some funny ones this time and the light bulb went off as I was listening and laughing with him. I have, what I believe are two fantastic story ideas, both very different in nature and both very much dear to my heart. Everyone keeps asking, "What are you going to do next year when BS is in school?" I think I know now. I have some stories of my own that I want to share. I am ready to put them in print. I never wanted writing to feel like a "job". I write and share because I enjoy it and if I want to share these stories, I realize I want to devote more time to honing my craft. I'm "putting it out there" that I'd like to find an artist/illustrator and a publisher. The stories have already written themselves within the fiber of my life. They are fun, inspiring and easy to share. The next logical step it to officially put them into print and let themselves fly to the hearts, eyes and ears of others who'd like to hear them. That's what I'll need help with, that is what I am opening to. I am asking for support, ideas, directions and to easily and effortlessly find just the right publisher that can share my vision, get my vibe and help me spread sincere, fun, funky, crafty, cre8tive, inspiring stories and ideas with the world. Let those apron strings fly............."Let 'er Buck!"

Monday, September 13, 2010

This Was The First Batch

I am now 28 jars richer. Today's canning kitchen project focused on pickles: bread and butter as well as kosher dill.

I am seriously rethinking my garden size for 2011. I had thought of selling produce at local Farmer's Markets but never got myself there. I guess I'll ponder that this winter. My reasons for gardening and canning, when I started this gig two years ago was to reduce our food bill, eat healthier and closer to home (you don't get much closer than a few steps from your front door!) I still am all for those reasons, I just have to keep repeating them these days. I think this is the most produce I've ever canned.

I thought I had the perfect excuse to quit today. I ran out of jars. Darn. To my dismay, Chad gleaned four large, forgotten boxed of empty jars and brought them to the house. Darn again. And......sigh. I rolled up my sleeves and finished. I'm waiting for the final batch of the night to get done bathing.

I have an early rise tomorrow. I have an MRI to see what's behind the nagging, constant ache in my knee and then there are a few errands and I'll be home. Back in the kitchen again. Tonight, and I almost can't believe I'm typing this, I am ready for winter. At least the part with cozy blankets, hot tea, good books, a warm dog and NO garden! I'm sure my attitude will turn around eventually. If not, I'll take my frustrations out while munching on crispy pickles!

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Sunday, September 12, 2010


My Two Red Heads

I love it when my kids get along, it makes my job as a mom much more enjoyable.

Yesterday was a long day and it stayed that way late into the night until two of the three fell asleep. The eldest inherited the "stay up late gene" that both his father and I possess. We have, successfully passed it on. I still had to get after him for trying to ride bulls, on the bed, while watching PBR. We do not get cable, so staying in a motel with tv is a treat. That said, it is not a treat at midnight, when somone is riding an imaginary bull, floundering about on the bed you are attempting to relax on. Nope, not a treat at all. I thought he's grow out of this eventually, but at nearly 12 years old and 5'2" he's still bucking strong. It much cuter when he was 2!

Before 8 am, I was being hounded by, ""Can we go swimming?" It was way too early. I was way too crabby. The good news is.......the kids are actually getting along. Its rare and I am not complaining! Each boy has taken BS in the deeper part, either on their shoulders or back. She LOVES the attention and being included in whatever they are doing. Sparky has put his goggles on her, Pecos has been playing "mermaid, seal and baby walrus" (I don't know what the game is, I'm just hearing bits and pieces of it!) She's now riding on Sparky's back, being a SHARK!

When they ALL get along, life is great, when they don't............grrrrrrrr. The only "gift" these kids would ever have to get me, ever, is to be friends. That's it. This would suffice for every holiday of the year.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Finally----a chance to sit for a spell. We've been on the go today. It feels like I'm walking in sand (and no I'm not spoerting those trendy, toning sketchers!) It seems like its taken FOREVER to get things packed and organized to travel north 30 miles and get some errands ran. I forgot to get the oil changed in the car. I KNEW I was forgetting to do SOMETHING, I just didn't realize until I drove by and the place was closed.

I "rescued" the boys from the arena work. You get to do all kinds of fun things, like sort cattle and "clean" the arena. I had two hot, thirsty boys that were ready for some pool time. They LOVE the water, which makes me glad. I love it too, it could be my second home. Their father swims like a rock....Once in a while I'll swim in a hotel pool but my kind of water is outside, a river, lake or lagoon that I can't see the bottom of, the more remote, the better.

We may or may not head out to the performance later, I haven't decided. It is usually rare that we have the luxury of a motel room since we have a horse trailer with living quarters. That said we spent a few days in one on our Moab trip, one tonight and a couple next week. I like the idea of making a mess in someone else's room! Ha!

I have a fun new book that I brought to read, "Farmer Jane" Women Changing the Way We Eat. I have some idea about where I want my little farm to go, down the road; I'm always open to new ideas and of coarse, inspiration. I'm an impatient one though. If I have an idea, I want it to manifest NOW, not 2 years from now. The goat/chicken complex is still not done. I still do not have eggs and have not yet made any cheese. I hope by the time the facilities are complete, this will still be what I want to do! I tend to jump in, learn, experience, grow and move on. This is how I'm wired, so perhaps, I'll be well versed in many subject but not "specialized" in anything!? There's so much I want to experience!!!!

I love crafts/creating, decorating, designing, growing, making, gardening, hiking, biking, camping, photography, teaching, learning, reading, writing, knitting, jewelry, shoes, singing, music, violins, guitars, antiques, Ireland, dolphins, mountains, clothes, funky purses, blingy boots, golfing, great friends, campfires, horses and dogs, peace signs, rainbows, no particular order!
I haven't figured out just yet, which one I LOVE the most, but I consider it an accomplishment to at least have identified my "passions"! I'm wondering, what adjective, theme or description you'd offer to someone with such an interest listing??? I'm all ears!

I'll ponder this a bit longer and perhaps daydream a little about what I really want to do/be/experience in the coming months. This is what I think of when I have any "down time". It's been suggested to me, by more than a few close friends, that I need to slow down a bit. I want you all to know I's nice, I think I could get used to a slower pace.....when I'm 70? (I'm totally joking A, B, C, E, J, M and S! I AM WORKING on my WORK ADDICTION!)

Rest time is nearly over. They've swam and soon they'll be starving! Gearing up for a second go 'round! Have a great weekend!

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Friday, September 10, 2010

The Sauce Is On

I have a confession to make: the last thing I want to do today is can these tomatoes! I made the mistake of "popping in" to Hobby Lobby yesterday.........I haven't been in my craft room for more than 5 minutes since last spring and I miss it terribly. I realize that canning/garden seasons takes priority but I am.............tired and crabby, cranky, short-fused (yes, so hard to believe......I hear the snickers from some of you reading this..........) and well just plain tired of being in the kitchen. I enjoy canning for the most part but not when I have so many other things going on.

I will be making chili base today, a little more HOT salsa and then whatever is left over will go into tomato juice and/or soup. I am craving a Bloody Mary right about now............there's something about that tomato-ey spice and dill beans that makes my mouth water. Throw in chips and homemade salsa and it's......fiesta time......*sigh* No, no it's not, its time to get my bottom in gear and quit procrastinating.

We Chad has another busy weekend. The NSRA finals are in North Platte so we'll see him sometime Sunday evening. He's got two willing and able helpers that will be put to work tomorrow morning. I'll either can or clean here at home and then take in the festivities tomorrow evening. If you are in the area, come on out, it should be a fun time.

And HERE is the long awaited, much asked for Tomato Soup Recipe. Caution: if you make this, it may forever "ruin" your shelf t. soup doesn't hold a candle to this concoction! This is a large amount so feel free to "downsize it".

14 quarts ripe tomatoes
7 medium-sized onions
1 stalk celebry
14 sprins parsley (optional) I use it if I have it, if not I skip it!
3 bay leaves
14 tablespoons flour
14 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons salt
8 table spoons sugar
2 teaspoons pepper

Wash and cut up tomatoes. Chop onions, celebray, parsely, bay leaves. Add this misture to tomatoes; cook until celery is tender. Put through a food mill (I use a foley) Rub flour and butter into a smoothe paste thinned with tomato juice. Add to boiling soup; stir to prevent scorching. Add salt, sugar and pepper. For smoother consistency put through the sive again (I don't, at this point, I'm tired!) Fill clean jars to whithin one inch of the top. Put on cap; screw band firmly tight. Process in Boiling Water Bath 15 minutes yield is 10 pints.

Of all the things I can, this is the most labor intensive and the most delicious. There's nothing better than popping open a jar of this in the midst of a blizzard!

Have a wonderful weekend. And if you don't hear from me next week, you'll know the tomatoes have ganged up on me and declared an end to their demise. I actually feel like they are about to win this battle anyway!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The One That Didn't Get Eaten......

After a two-week slack off, we made it to the garden for a little refresh and TLC. The bugs feasted on my acorn squash but somehow these gorgeous gourds lived! The vine they were on was shriveled and dry from lack of water but I suspect they had more growing to do.

Last year my sis-in-law, Jenny, gave me a couple of big, orange winter squash. I knew that I wanted these in my garden and secretly prayed they'd live. The seeds were pricey but I knew they'd be worth it.....they were!

Though on the small side, I cooked one up for supper last night and it was tasty. Interestingly I have become a squash fan because of my kids. To my utter amazement, they devour squash (with an ample amount of butter and brown sugar.) Having had to choke down food that I'm sure killed the pilgrims, I swore it off at the tender age of 8. I missed "The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" special because of a darn squash.

I almost avoided any confrontation until one day when a little blonde haird boy pointed out that I'd missed the squash being passed around the table......I took a spoonful, smiled and wanted to gag. It was not love at first bite, or the second, more like 100th bite.

Sweet potatoes slowly got me over the hump and helped acclimate my palate to the mushy texture. It not the first thing I'd choose but I do love hot buttered squash on a chilly fall evening. The fact that my family eats it makes it a pretty delicious veggie!

Since giving up soda and the majority of sweets, my tastebuds are starting to pick up other flavors such as "nutty". Last nights veggie tasted nutty. With a hint of sweet cream butter and sea salt, I was pleasantly moved. Honestly I just grew these things for looks. I thought they were cool and would make a nice fall decoration.

Yesterday's wind, stirred something inside; I found myself with a desire to nestle into rhythms of fall through slow cooking. It signaled the end of a busy summer and the start of a new routine. I had no idea that I'd celebrate with a squash.....! I hope my mom reads this. She'd tell you....its a miracle!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Goat's Milk Smoothie

As I am cleaning and finding the bottom of my kitchen, I discovered two very ripe peaches in the bottom of the cooler. They would've been fine to cut and eat but a smoothie sounded better.

With my trusty "Magic Bullet" a bit of Carl's honey and fresh peaches, I've created a masterpiece! How do I KNOW its good? Pryce and Parker gobbled theirs down and asked for more. If I get more than two thumbs up around here, the dish becomes a keeper! We've all agreed that while it is challenging not to be able to load the car and leave, the rewards of having fresh milk are paying off. As soon as I get the canning done, we'll start experimenting with cheese making!

Back to work now, just had to share! Cheers!

Its About Time To Light the Lanterns

Fall is here, not officially by the calendar, but its in the air and wind today. My garden is saying farewell, though we still have lots of cukes left to pickle.

I'm working on tidying up the main areas of the house today. Not a job I enjoy but I can't can another jar of anything in such chaos. When you can't find the jar lifters or spatula, its time to clean and reorg a bit.

One of the things I enjoy about fall are the colors. I love vibrant golds, reds, yellows and oranges. Ask my spouse what my favorite color is in any season and he'll tell you......BROWN! Its true, brown is the staple in my wardrobe. He buys me bright green and pink sweaters to help me expand my color scope. I love coming into my home and being greeted by a burst of fall colors (this is the ONLY time I use artificial flowe arrangements) and spicy pumpkin smells. I plug in a little George Winton on the ipod and work to the sounds of Autumn wafting from the speakers.

I'm in a fall mood today, I just wish I was a little more organized. I've tackled the floors and am clearing counters for another round of canning. Floors and counters are like the mind: if you are going to do anything productive you've got to clear away the debris!

This week looks deceptively open. I know its not. I always have a to-do list a mile long. I also think I'll be able to fully relax when it's all done. Pish, dream on, right?!?! I'm learning to relax in the chaos. Easier said than done for this chickie....yes, I'll be scheduling a Journey session soon to help release those old patterns.

With the arrival of fall, my lanterns will be lit in the evenings. We've been hard on them here lately; two globes busted this summer---the kitchen tile is NOT forgiving. Though we don't have a parlor, I'm slowing converting the upstairs living room into more of a sitting room. This means, lots of books, knitting and no television. I'm being helped out here as our tv quit working a month ago. It can still be used to watch videos but we can no longer watch the news or weather. I've shared with the kids that I'm sure we'll all live! Step two will be taking out the entertainment center which will hopefully open the area a bit more.

I wish I was as exciting about cleaning and canning as I am about decorating and rearranging! Alright, time to "labor" on! Enjoy the holiday!

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Sunday, September 5, 2010


Opening the jar of soup, warming it on the stove and pouring it in my mug took less time than in the drive through. I'll also reuse the container....tomorrow...for pasta sauce. SCORE!

My Fast Food

All that hard work last week has paid off today. BS and I stumbled in this afternoon and were hungry. I packed plenty of "travel food" for the weekend the problem was the food went in a different direction than I did. I'd put everything in the fridge in the trailer. Chad and the boys are hitting a couple of rodeos before they join us back here on the ponderosa.

I started getting hungry on the way home but wanted to avoid stopping for convenience foods. Since my return home I've really been paying attention to what and how much I'm nourishing myself with. I don't own a scale, my goal is to feel more energetic and have slightly looser fitting jeans....

I also wanted to avoid the caffeine and sugar rush from soda. I've been off of pop for several months now and I finally don't miss that 2pm Diet Dr. Pepper urge......finally. I've replaced that habit with a variety of herbal teas. My current favorite is Gypsy Rose Mint, that I found in Moab.

Though I'm not above stopping for fast food, starving children and time constraints have humbly reminded me that sometimes you just have to "pull in". It wasn't my choice today. My first choice is that which is slow-cooked, homemade and from scratch. I like taking the long way around.

I buzzed through town, really to tired to think about eating. I found Marley first thing, and then we all went inside. I actually tried taking a nap but it didn't work. (I have no idea why, I'm feeling exhausted but I have a lot on my mind.....)

So without thinking, as I often do, I ambled around the kitchen looking for a snack. And then it hit me. Tomato soup! Perfect! I hadn't yet taken the jars downstairs so I opened a cute little pint of t. soup and inhaled. It's a little spicier than the last batch, but it was still quite edible! All the back pain, tied feet and kitchen mess is melting away with each slurp. Yes, I'm slurping too, the boys are not here to correct me and BS thinks its funny.

We had a super fun weekend with family and friends. The wedding was gorgeous, one of the nicest outdoor events I've been to. The setting was beautiful and the weather was perfect! It culminates the summer. Things for me will begin to wind down. I still have plenty going, on but my "events" will be closer to home.

A big thanks to our friends Kalee, Justin and Joe; they've cared for our livestock in the last couple of weeks, making it possible for us to travel hither and yon! (I promise a fabulous supper and campfire conversations real soon!)

I still need to go unpack and clean the car. This week will bring us back into a more predictable routine, which I think we're all ready for. Though I've tried to ignore it, it appears that summer is slipping from my grasp. I'm not ready to let her go. I do enjoy fall....its winter that I loathe! I'll be toasting it with several pints of soup though. That made today better, it can't help but improve those long, cold days ahead!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cre8tive Chaos=Tomato Soup

This is my ALL TIME favorite food! It never used to be. It is a lot of work but oh so worth it.

I wasn't sure if I'd actually pull it off, I have much to do 8 am tomorrow. My sweet friend offered to help but I got such a late start I wasn't sure where I'd be in the process.

I have a serious looks like a blood bath of "tomadic" proportions. (tomadic is a "Robyn's been in the kitchen wayyy to long word, you may not find it in the dictionary.)

I grumble with the work and the clean-up just bites but this winter with cold and snowflakes hitting my window, I'll be glad I made the effort!

Soup's On!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Got Milk?

Got Milk?

I’ve just finished cleaning up an enormous mess. I had filled my coffee cup with honey and goat’s milk. My grip wasn’t solid and as I walked to the fridge, the heavy jar slid through my hands and crashed on the tile floor. I saw the whole thing in slowwww moooootttttiiiiioooonnnn. The clean-up was even slower. Crap. I had plans for that milk. I would have been upset if it was one of the kids that dropped the jar……. but since it was me……..I just grabbed some towels and a bag and started picking up pieces off the floor. I cannot believe how many shards it broke into and how far they flew. Wow. If you want something busted in a bazillion pieces, call me, I seem to be quite gifted in the realm of destruction. (The picture above was the one I did not break. Fresh from Egypt this morning.)

Marley quietly padded from his napping spot to help me lap up the mess. BS didn’t even flinch, she was watching a movie. Its rare that the tv is on, though at the end of the month, when I am working on Ki Previews, a movie is popped in, her mouth closes and Mama has an hour or so of peace; that is if she has eaten and has her slew of stuffed animals nearby. She’s very independent for the most part. I recently found a bar stool in her bedroom. She’d used it to grab something from the top shelf, the shelf I thought was “safely out of reach”!

Many of you have asked about the goats. I’ll post pics one of these days! (I love hearing from you via email, facebook and texts! Keep 'em coming! It is so great to hear back from blog readers, you all make my day much brighter!)Little Sammeria is growing like a weed. Mama has slightly warmed up to her but will not, in any way, let Sammi nurse without someone holding (mom) in place. The milking is going very well. We milk in the morning and baby gets the rest. By the looks of baby, she doesn’t need much! I’m getting around ½ gallon each time I milk. The kids are not huge goat milk fans, that is, they do not drink it without a little chocolate Ovaltine in it. I do use it in everything, including this morning’s pancakes. No one could tell a difference. The ice cream has been divine, on that, we all agree. I haven’t bought “store milk” since the goats arrived in May. Correction, I did buy a gallon of milk for coffee and rolls at church; I didn’t figure everyone would want raw goat’s milk after church, though I think some would’ve been game to try it!

Here shortly, I’ll be diving into cheese making! I’m very excited to get started with that. I absolutely love feta cheese. I eat it on everything from pizza to grilled cheese. I also want to experiment with soap and lotion making but that will be for later this fall. The garden is still thriving, keeping me more than busy. We’ve harvested over 30 quarts of beans, tons of onions and I’m about to dig up potatoes. I’ll be drying herbs next week, making pickles, sauce and soup. I also need to tackle the very messy craft room (boys need a study zone) and perk up the basement a bit! My need to clean and reorganize is kicking in strongly. I update and clutter clear with each season and that time is now upon us. Once again I find that there is more to do than the time I have to do in all in. I’ll be taking a break around the 17th so much to do before I relax for a stretch!

The boys buzzed off to school today. They were excited to see their friends and reconnect after what felt like, in their words, “F O R E V E RRRR”! We sat down last night and had our first family meeting. It wasn’t exactly as smooth as I had envisioned but it’s a start. Each child has a night when they will choose the meal and help prepare it. The other two will help with clean-up. (BS volunteer to pick up forks, oldest sibling is sure it is to stab someone with……….feel the love kids, feel the love!)

My goal is to be more organized and efficient. For me, that means making supper in the afternoon, before kids come home from school. We have so much to pack in before bedtime. This will require planning ahead (not my forte but will be by the time I’m done here!) We’ll move supper to 5:30 and then have time for chores before dark. Each child will have a laundry day. They’ll start a load and have it all sorted, I’ll wash and dry and then they get to fold and put away when they get home. BS already washes and sorts her clothes!

We also hashed out an after school schedule and chore list. Funny, they are now thinking school will be easier than working at home! They did do a lot of work this summer now that they are bigger. I promise that load will not get lighter! I have enjoyed passing on the job of lawn mowing. I love a freshly cut lawn, I hate being the one to mow it! I’ve had to work on releasing my view of “perfectly manicured edges” though. Eeeesh! When one turn the lawn care over to kids, one cannot be too choosy. This has become my mantra, “At least its done, at least its done, at least its done, don’t look over there, at least its done”.

I am taking a day off from salsa canning and working on Ki Previews today. So if you are dear client reading this blog, your preview will be emailed soon, I promise. (They are coming together brilliantly, we are in for a very fast-paced month with many shifts and changes. If you are a four tree, invest in a stampede string, you may need it!)

Is this the most random update/ post I’ve ever written? I think so. We are counting down to Z n L’s wedding on Saturday. We’ll be scooting out earlier than expected so that we can pick up an extra favorite traveler, my Mama! Ga will join us on Friday night, which I cam excited for. I miss her and we don’t always get the opportunity to just hang out! Woo hoo (thank you Lord!)

Hope your first day of September is spectacular!