Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Incriminating Evidence

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. I discovered this in my front yard this morning. Being a college educated woman with a degree in Animal Science, I know my poop. This here is of the horse variety. Just trust me on this fact. Last night, while we were resting our weary bones, horses from the Indian Reservation crossed our little street and feasted on my precious few sprigs of green grass. They only come off the rim at night, and they head to a little pond across the street from our lake to get a drink.Across our street is a pasture that connects to the reservation. It's quite ugly this time of year, but the grass will eventually be past our knees when the weather warms up. The grass in our yard at the bottom of the picture is only slightly greener, but we all know what they say about the grass on the other side of the fence....
Being the true detective that I am, I followed the evidence. (I learned all my ranch security techniques from Hank the Cow Dog books.) What we have here is horse droppings on the road. Hmmmm...

What we have here are skid marks. So that's what I heard in the middle of the night. I suppose someone locked up the brakes while trying to avoid the horses crossing the street. Very interesting.
And finally, following the trail of poop, if you will, I have discovered the source of my problems. A broken fence. One of my greatest pet peeves in life. I have spent entire summers fixing fence in college, and I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject. Well, lets just be real. I'm the QUEEN of fixing fence. There. I said it.

Now, just what am I going to do about all of this thievery of my grass? Absolutely nothing. NOTHING???? you say. Yes, nothing. I happen to know that in my great state, the law says that if you don't want range animals roaming in on your property, you must fence them out. I may or may not know this because one of our cows that will remain nameless, may or may not have busted through our fence and busted through a second pretty white rail fence to enter the yard of a retired couple. The cow may or may not have been caught grazing on the man's putting green, which he spends hours every week grooming, causing large amounts of damage. But that's another blog post for another day.
Some people may call this "Karma" and say "what goes around, comes around"....but I don't believe in any of that hoopla. I think that because grace is extended to me when our cows get out, I will choose to give grace to the owner of the horses. The end.
P.S. Do you think that our crew of watch dogs warned us of the atrocities being commited in the front yard? Not a chance. They were too busy dreaming of chasing the elusive rabbit.

Feeling Crafty?

Card making is one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately, it's also messy....as in, take up the whole kitchen table, messy. So when I sit down to make a card, I always make several at once. Since Easter is upon us, I wanted to share with you the Easter Cards I made.

And since I can't stop there, I decided to share some other of my latest creations! This next one is kinda "Cowboy Shabby Chic". I'm in love with bling, so I add it to cards frequently! It's like my trademark.

Here's a picture of the inside. It makes a lovely card for any occasion. I age the card by rubbing my stamp pad along the edges of the paper.

Here's a quick note card utilizing the ever-so-popular paper flowers, layering them with a little bling. I rounded the edges to soften the look.

The next one will be perfect for my retro friends. I have a few friends who love olive green. They'll enjoy the 60's feel of this.

Back to the cowboy style. I made this one a while ago, but still LOVE it. It took awhile to make because it has movable parts.

If you pull the string, here's what it says:

I can't wait for summer break to arrive so I can stamp cards without feeling guilty!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Custom Made

It's been a beautiful spring day. So beautiful that I could no longer put off the dreaded spring cleaning chore I've been avoiding. The one that gives me anxiety just to think about. The semi-annual garage clean-out. Because we didn't build our home, we didn't have the luxury of choosing the dimensions of our garage. We drive trucks. BIG trucks. BIG 4 door, long bed, with 8" lift trucks. We have a small garage. A "mini cooper" sized garage. As a consequence, we can't use our garage for it's intended purpose.....so we fill it with stuff. Bikes, camping gear, hunting equipment, tools, etc...stuff. During the deep freeze of winter, it's soooo cold out there that we do the "drop and run" with things that go in the garage. We "drop" them in the garage and "run". It has started to look a little like a "Monica Closet". You know, Monica from the "Friends" TV show. She keeps her house obsessively clean, but has a special closet that no one's allowed to see because it's filled to the ceiling with junk. It's her dirty little secret.

Well, my house is usually quite neat and tidy, but the garage....lets just say it was a few months away from turning into our own little "Monica Closet". Today was the day to tackle it. So I opened it up and let the warm sunshine fill the room as I dutifully put back those misplaced items from the winter. It was then that I saw this up on the wall of our garage, and every time I see it, it brings a smile to my face.

You may be asking yourself," What the heck are those?" I'm glad you asked my friend, because those are genuine, one of a kind, elk hoof wall hangers. Can you go to your local Walmart and pick up a set? No. Can you find them in your latest Pottery Barn catalog? No. These were custom made by my lovely Elk hunting husband. Isn't he thoughtful? What wife wouldn't love her husband to make her a set? Ours are put to good use as a holder for air compressor hose, and extension cords. But the choices are endless!! Hat racks, gun racks, towel hangers, purse holders...the list goes on and on. When my husband shoots an animal, we don't just eat the meat. No, NOTHING goes to waste! "Waste not, want not" is his motto. And we are certainly not wanting for a new garage hanger. When you're married to a REAL man of GENIUS, you never know what he'll think of next. That's what keeps marriage spicy, and THAT'S just one of the reasons I love him!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lovin' from the Easy Bake Oven

I still remember the day I got my very own Easy Bake Oven. My dad dutifully ate every creation I baked up with a smile and a compliment. He made me feel like a prized pastry chef. The only downside to the whole production was that it took me 30 minutes to "whip" something up, and then he proceeded to eat it in only 2 small bites. I wanted the whole culinary experience to last a little longer. After all, it took a lot of mixing with a very small plastic spoon, and I wanted bigger rewards for my efforts. Fast forward 25 years, and now my daughter is getting that same joy out of baking.

Every week she approaches me about baking a cake or cookies with her easy-bake. It's usually after I've just made the kitchen sparkly clean, and put away the dishes. This is when I take a deep breath, smile, and say, "Absolutely, sweetheart. What are ya making today?" You see, as a wife and a woman, I am quite picky about keeping my kitchen neat and tidy. A place for everything, and everything in it's place. But as a mother, I have to let go of my perfectionism and let my seven year old find her way around the kitchen too. I know the importance of instilling a love for homemaking skills and hospitality in my girls. These skills will serve them well when they have a home of their own some day. I've got to make the most of every small spark of interest now, so that they will enjoy these things later in life. Will my kitchen be a mess? Yes. Will my counter tops be covered in flour? Yes. But will my daughter have a wonderful, positive experience? You bet. Watching her lovingly serve up her creations to her daddy, and seeing his "over-the-top" reactions to her baking, takes me back 25 years. She's serving her daddy now, but some day she will bake for her husband, and hold her breath in hopeful anticipation that he'll be pleased with her creation. After nearly 10 years of marriage, I still anxiously await my husband's response to every new recipe I try. I guess some things never change.

Here is the Birthday cake my girl made for her Pop Pop's 61st birthday. There was a beautiful store bought cake sitting next to it, but everyone at the table chose to have a small(and I do mean small) piece of her two layer easy bake cake. Her eyes were shining like diamonds and she grinned from ear to ear as the compliments came rolling in. The store bought cake was put away for another time, and a very special memory was made that day. A priceless little bit of confidence was gained in a young girl's heart.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Favorite Smell

Bread....mmmmmm! Nothing is more soothing than walking into the house and smelling the heavenly aroma of bread baking in the oven. In fact, if they made honey whole wheat bread perfume, I'd buy it and dab a little behind my ears. Everyone who knows me well, knows that I'm a bread baker. I've never met a loaf that I didn't love. I'll try any recipe once, and get bored making the same thing every day, so I've built quite a collection of recipes up. Among my favorites are Potato, Honey Oat, French, Buttermilk, and 7 grain. Today I made Honey Whole Wheat. It's a fairly strait forward sandwich loaf. Each morning I start the day off by grinding my favorite Montana Hard wheat berries.

It takes about 8 minutes to grind two cups of berries in my Country Living Grain mill, so I prep the rest of the ingredients while I wait.

After I knead the bread, I let it rise for about 45 minutes. Then I punch it down and put it in a greased loaf pan for a second rise.

Then, because it's still quite cold in the mornings in my house, I cover it and let it rise by the wood stove, or on top of the warm stove until it doubles in size. I bake it @350 degrees for 33 minutes.

Whole wheat loaves are slightly denser than breads in the white family, but are much more filling. I absolutely love both types, but when it comes to the kids, I prefer to feed them whole grains most of the time and throw in a loaf of white bread every now and then to keep it interesting.

After taking the loaf out of the oven, I let it sit for a few minutes and then plop it out to cool.

Next comes a test of my will power. If I'm really hungry, then I cut into it while it's still warm and eat a piece with melted butter. But if I'm using it for sandwiches, I wait until the whole thing cools, and slice it up to put in a bread bag.

YUMMY! Here's the recipe I use:

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
1 1/2 cups very warm water
2tsp salt
1/3 cup honey
2 1/4 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 TBS shortening
2TBS dry milk
1TBS Vital Wheat Gluten
1TBS dough enhancer
2tsp yeast
Mix it up and knead it. Let Rise for 45 minutes. Punch it down and put it into a greased bread pan. Let it rise for 45 minutes more. Bake it @350 for 33 minutes or until done.(Baking times may vary. I live in high altitude.)
P.S. This works great in the bread machine too!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I've been searching high and low for signs of "Spring" around here, and I finally found one!

I absolutely LOVE Plum Tree blossoms! They are God's Handiwork shown in magnificent splendor!

Swimsuits from Hades

I just returned from a 4 day trip to the "big city", and I'm still recovering from my semi-annual shopping spree. Shoes and summer clothes for the family were on the list, as well as a few items to stock up my pantry. Shopping for a new swimsuit was NOT on my list. My children wanted to take advantage of the hotel pool, and mommy forgot her suit....on purpose. However, after seeing Daddy helping the kids "swim", I realized that he needed reinforcements.

Side note: My children are "mountain kids" who don't have access to regular swimming lessons or backyard pools. In June when we fill the kiddy pool, the water coming out of the well is a brisk 34 degrees, and I have to add boiling water to it just to keep the kids from getting hypothermia. Our mountain has one pool and 5 zillion kids who need lessons, therefore our kids aren't exactly "graceful" in the water.

But I digress.....So, I decided to go shopping for a new suit. I have mostly blocked the traumatic experience from my brain, and only vaguely remember crying and muttering something to my husband about how he wrecked my body by giving me three children to give birth to and nurse...or something along those lines.

Before I ever subject myself to that horror again, I'm going to do the following:
1. Eat lettuce for 6 months
2. get a breast lift/augmentation
3. go to a tanning bed for a month
4. have a pedicure
5. get therapy

The experience was so bad that I decided to write a letter to someone about it.

Dear Swimsuit Designer,
I was recently in the market for a swimsuit, and decided to try on some of your apparel. Upon arriving in the bathing suit section, I realized that you were most certainly a male. Every swimsuit I viewed was created for a 15 year old, size Zero, Super Model from Sweden. It appears that you appreciate viewing the curves on a woman, because the fabrics were cut in such a way that very little was left to the imagination. And we have neither the time nor space to discuss the bottoms.

You're a marketing GENIUS! The less fabric your swimsuits have, the MORE they cost! How do you get people to fork over more money for less? You've got to share your secret. I also noted that after trying on many of your suits, you obviously haven't worn them either. A woman certainly couldn't swim in one without causing an unsightly "lady lump" exposure incident. In fact, the only way to keep the fabric in place would be to lay perfectly still. Perhaps that's why women sunbathe. They're all just trying to keep their "junk" in the trunk.
Please think about hiring a female to design a line of swimwear for REAL WOMEN! I would be your very fondest patron.

One Disgruntled Customer

Saturday, March 20, 2010


My Lover has been under a tremendous amount of stress lately. He's been welding half way across the state for the last three weeks, re-qualifying for his dangerous line of work,and he comes home long enough for me to do his laundry and re-pack him. While he's been gone, I've decided to start exercising again. Little by little I've been increasing my stamina, and he decided to join me for a workout session during his 48 hour stay at home. I think it inspired him. He got the work-out bug. Two days later, he woke up in his hotel room at 5:00am and decided he felt great. "I think I'll go for a jog this morning before work" he said. So off he went, down an unfamiliar road, in the dark, without a phone. Twenty minutes into the jog, he trips on a rock, biffs it hard, sprains his ankle, and lands on his knee. With no means of calling for help, he is forced to limp back to the hotel. An hour later he arrives at the front desk limping, blood dripping down his leg, full of road rash, and defeated. His ankle is the size of a softball, and his knee is twice it's usual size.

Picture is 4 days after the incident
What possesses a man who hasn't gone jogging in two years to get up at 5:00am in a strange place in the dark to go for a run??? It must be a guy thing. Do you think this injury stopped him? Not a chance. He limped straight up to his room, shoved his work boot on and limped around welding for 4 more days before he saw a doctor. He suffered in silence. Now that's a real man.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bedtime Trauma

A wise veteran home school mother once told me that I might seriously enjoy reading James Herriot's books to my children. Knowing that I have a degree in Animal Science, worked for a vet, and love animals, she was sure that Herriot's stories of his veterinary practice would be a huge hit with the family. She was right on the money. We've devoured a children's version of "All Creatures Great and Small", so naturally when I saw "Dog Stories" , a collection of short stories about the dogs Herriot treated in his veterinary practice, I jumped on it. I must mention that most all of Herriot's books are found in the adult section, but with the exception of a few mentions of the word "H-E-double hockey sticks", the stories are wonderful to read to the kids. I reasoned that I could read a few chapters to the kids after lunch and a few at bedtime.

My plan was going brilliantly, and my children were beggin' for more. Last night I sat down in my rocking chair next to the fire, dug out my best Scottish accents for the characters, and prepared to wow the kids with yet another story. They were in their jammies, teeth brushed, blankets wrapped around their bodies, ready for entertainment. I started in on the chapter. They were mesmerized....then it all started going down hill. I can't pinpoint the moment, but somewhere in the middle of the story, after we had fallen in love with the old man and his four legged friend, things fell apart. The old man needed the companionship of the dog, the dog got sick, it was terminal, and the dog had to be put down. At first I choked back the lump in my throat. Then my voice got quivery, and ....well... I lost it. The tears came freely, and my doe eyed children began to cry too. It was horrible. I couldn't take it all back, we'd come so far, and I couldn't stop there because we had to know what happened. So I pressed on through the tears to the dramatic finale. My kids were a mess, and I was a mess. So I did what any other loving mother would do. I said, "Well kids, we can't end on a sad note, so lets read another chapter. Maybe it's a happier story."

I was wrong. I was VERY wrong. The next chapter was about a house call where Herriot goes to check on a Great Dane with puppies. The owner leaves the tiny room, and the dog attacks! Herriot is being mauled, and narrowly escapes death and dismemberment of his man parts by beating the dog off with a chair! My youngest daughter, being a sensitive 4 year old, approached my chair with wide-eyed fear. "Mommy, can the scary dog jump through my window and bite me?" "No, no sweetheart, that only happens in the movies." I said reassuringly. Then I read them the Little Mermaid to clear there brains of the trauma, and kissed them all good night.

They couldn't have been more traumatized than if I would have said, "Night night. Don't let the doggies bite." I won't be winning the "Mother of the Year" award any time soon, but I learned a valuable lesson. Always read ahead.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I love the character "Anne" from the Anne of Green Gables books. I see so much of myself in her personality, and thought process. She is indeed a kindred spirit. Here's one of my all-time favorite "Anne" quotes:
"I know I chatter on far too much...but if you only
knew how many things I want to say and don't.
Give me some credit."
-Anne Shirley

Writer's Itch

This blog has been brewing in my brain for a while now. I've been chewing on it's contents for quite some time. It all started after I wrote the annual Christmas letter. You know, the one where you cram 365 days worth of life into one 81/2" by 11" sheet of colored paper. After changing the font size to microscopic, and shrinking the margins to within a hair of the edge of the page, I could only manage to give the tiniest glimpse of our life. So many of the little moments and small details that make life memorable ended up on the cutting room floor. And that's downright frustrating for a girl who's thoughts and creativity cannot be confined to a solitary sheet of paper!

Shortly thereafter, I started chatting with long lost friends and faraway family through facebook. Virtually every time I tried to post the events of the day, I went over my word limit. I was forced, once again, to abbreviate my thoughts to the detriment of the story I was trying to tell. That was the last straw! "I'm gonna start a blog, and ramble on it EVERY day if I want to, and NOBODY'S gonna stop me!"

So here I am. I have found a place to ramble, to journal, to share with friends. I hope that you will enjoy the journey with me.