Friday, September 30, 2011

A Friday Funny

Don't we all feel like this sometimes?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Apple Harvest

It's an apple year on the mountain.  According to the old-timers, we only get an apple harvest once every 7 or 8 years.  The rest of the time, the apple blossoms either freeze with late snows, or they blow right off the trees with spring winds.  This year, however, the tree limbs are heavy with a bumper crop of apples. Well.... most apple trees have a bumper crop.

In the interest of full disclosure, we have an apple tree in our front yard, and it has a measly 6 apples on it.  I'm not complaining, though.  That's 6 more apples than we usually have on our tree. But when we go for walks, we see tree branches hanging over the road with oodles of apples. They're all over the ground, too.

And you know something, the old- timers are right! It's only the second time I've seen an apple harvest in my decade of living on the mountain. We have unspeakably horrible springs around here.  Yucky, terrible, apple blossom-hating springs.

So what do you do when it's an apple year on the mountain? You make lots of apple sauce and apple desserts.

(Second full disclosure: These apples are not from the trees around here.  "Real" apples, as my kids call them, are much uglier and therefore not picture worthy. They still taste amazing though.  Don't judge an apple by it's peel!)

 We were lacking for time today, so I elected to make some easy apple sauce in the crockpot.

If you don't have an apple peeler... you must invest in one. They take all the work out of apple preparation. I bought this one at the hardware store for under $20.00.  WORTH. EVERY. PENNY.

After 5 minutes of cutting, I had an entire crockpot filled with apple slices.

I took the scraps, minus the cores, out to the hens for a delicious little treat. (Chickens can't eat apple seeds.)

 I added a little water to the bottom of the crockpot, turned it on high for an hour, then turned it to low for another 5 hours.

When I got home this evening, I mashed the apples with a potato masher, added sugar and cinnamon to taste, and Voila! Easy Apple Sauce to go with our dinner.


When I make apple sauce for canning, I cook it down on the stove. It's much quicker, but I didn't have the time to make it that way today.  When you're short on time, the crockpot is the way to go!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

That Really Chaps my Hide!

Can I just gripe about something trivial and insignificant?

This morning I woke up to find that I'm already getting chapped and cracked hands and it's only September!

It's no secret that I have ugly, old man hands... but cracks in September?

That's atrocious!

To be honest, I usually don't care a lick about how my hands look as long as my toes are painted cute.

I put lotion on them every morning, but my prematurely wrinkling hands soak the moisture up like the desert consumes a rain drop. 15 minutes later, you can't tell I even put anything on them.


Today, I resolved to do something drastic with my hands. I decided to beautify them with the royal treatment!

A well- meaning friend gave me a set of manicure products called "Satin Hands" by Mary Kay.

She assured me that "Satin Hands" were the only hope for me. That was last February. I thanked her for the products, and then forgot about them until now.

This morning, I pulled out the big guns and started the three- step process:

1. Exfoliate.
2. Moisturize.
3. Emulsify with emollient. ( I don't exactly know what that means, in terms of handcream, but it sounds powerfully potent.)

After the skin treatment was complete, I thought to myself, "why not go the extra mile?"

So I did the unthinkable: I painted my finger nails!

I know. Big Step. Huge.

Can you see the difference? My hands felt like a greased pig at the county fair, but they sure looked pretty! (Relatively speaking, that is.) You know, I may have a future as a hand model for beauty products. Totally Kidding.

Moving on.....

This is what gripes me.

Below is a picture of my fingernails after two coats of polish, and a coat of Sally Hansen "Hard as Nails" topcoat. That's 3 coats of polish.

Now here is a picture of my nails 6 hours later. Chipped off nail polish, and dry cuticles.

The beauty lasted less than 25% of 1 day.

It took me over an hour to beautify, and ten minutes to wreck them with the evening chores.


To add insult to injury, I asked my husband if he "noticed" my hands today.

He said, "No. Why? What's wrong with them?"

My husband is the only person I'm trying to impress. If he doesn't even notice when I paint my fingernails, then why go through all of the stinkin' effort?

I'm going back to my old ways.

But I am going to continue the "Satin Hands" treatments. I've also got bag balm in the truck. One of them is bound to improve my chapped skin before winter sets in.

Resigned to be content with ugly hands,


Monday, September 26, 2011

Elk Season in Pictures

Pictures from the Trail Camera:

Bull covered in mud


My Husband


The Watering Hole from the Tree Stand

Horny Toad


Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Whimsical Baby Shower

Yesterday, I co-hosted a baby shower for my sweet sister-in-law, and it was such a fun day! I've been busy as a bee the last month in preparation for the big event.

I was in charge of invitations and decorations while my SIL's mom was in charge of the catering and location.  My SIL chose a wonderful restaurant called the AZ Bread CO. in Tempe, AZ. They have delicious salads, sandwiches, and wraps.

I was terribly nervous about the location of the shower, because although it's a fabulous spot, the walls are filled with bold, bright colors... things that would clash with the usual pastels associated with baby showers.  After looking for inspiration on the internet, and finding nothing  that caught my eye, I decided to just do my own thing!

I chose a whimsical bird theme.
I went to the fabric aisle of Walmart, and selected a palette of bold, yet girly fabrics and got started!

I drew a little paper bird template, traced them onto the fabrics.  Then I cut some thin quilt batting too.

After doing a ton of sewing, I had a stack of these cute, two-sided whimsical birdies to use in my decor.

Next, I picked out several types of coordinating bold, and beautiful fresh flowers to make eight small arrangements for the center of the tables.  I seam ripped a small slit into the bottom of each bird, and threaded a piece of bailing wire through each one. Then I arranged the flowers around each bird.

 My mom was a florist, and so my dad paid for all of the flowers in her honor. Preparing these beautiful arrangements in her shop without her was slightly heart-breaking!  When she was alive, we used to do these things together. It just doesn't seem fair. I still miss her terribly.  Yet, working in her shop with everything that was familiar to her was oddly comforting to me.

 After finishing the small table arrangements, I made one large arrangement to go in the center of the buffet table.

Then, I made several miniature cloth diapers, and strung the remaining birdies and diapers on a miniature clothes line with tiny wooden clothespins.  I filled the gaps with bows and scraps of tulle and fabric. We hung it along the buffet table for some added cuteness.

The spread for the shower was delicious! Wraps, sandwiches, fruit, spinach dip, salads, and brie on crackers. Oh, and don't forget the cake! 

Shortly after decorating, the guests started arriving, and it was time to PARTY!

 In the picture above: My lovely Sister-in-law with my niece (not shown)  in her cute little pregnant belly, me, My SIL's sweet mother, and my two baby girls.

My daughters were so excited to attend! They were my little helpers too.

My daughter handed out the party favors as people were leaving.

I used miniature clear take-out boxes and filled them with paper filler, and chocolates. Then, I added a little tag, some tulle, and a ribbon bow.

The shower was delightful, and my new little niece is going to have a precious wardrobe to greet her when she arrives. Not to mention, a gorgeous new nursery!

Now all we have to do is wait for her big apppearance!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Part of the Family

My kids love to look at pictures, and often times I find them sitting next to the bookshelf with photo albums in their laps. One of my kids observed that our dog, Boone, is in almost every outdoor picture that we have. Sometimes he's up close, and other times he's off in the background.  But no matter where the picture is taken, he's always nearby. Looking for Boone is like a game to them.

A young Boone riding with me to change irrigation.

When you have an animal that literally works with you every day, you become really attached.  Boone is a part of our family and we have the pictures to prove it.  Our bond together goes beyond that of ordinary dogs and owners. I could fill the pages of books with our countless adventures.  He's been at my heels from the time he was a young pup, and he's traveled countless miles with me and my horse to gather cattle. We're quite a team!

Boone working to gather the stray pairs.

I know that the years of ranch work have taken their toll on his old body, and he's paying for it now. Every time I see him crippled up and hobbling around on his arthritic bones, I wince.  But then I remember the extraordinary life he's lived, and I'm certain that he wouldn't have traded the last 14 years for anything!

Three years ago, Boone's health started to decline and he quit eating. We thought we were going to lose him.  He had 4 cancerous tumors growing on his body.  It was weeks away from Christmas, and the vet said that he was an old dog and the $800.00 surgery  to remove the tumors might only buy him an extra 6 months with us.  Every member of my family agreed that it was worth it if it meant a little more time spent with Boone.  That Christmas was one of the slender years in terms of gifts, but no-one gave it a second thought because we still had our dog with us. And he's still alive and kickin' three years later! That just proves that you can't keep a good dog down.

Boone checking pastures with me and my brother.

He still follows me around everywhere, and even as I type this today, he's laying at my feet.  When I had babies, he became so protective of them that he would stand guard next to whoever was holding them.  When I put them down for naps, he would lay across the threshold of their nursery door, and be the first to greet them when they woke up. He was ever so careful with them as they toddled around the house, and never got cross with them when they pulled his ears, grabbed his stub tail, or tried to ride him.  He's been a gentlemen for 14 years.

Boone is helping to take the herd to summer pasture.

Boone still sleeps on the floor at the foot of our bed, and every night I hear the sounds of his paws moving through the air as he yips and whimpers in his sleep.  I know exactly what he's dreaming about.  The two of us have been blessed to have a life overflowing with great memories to dream about.

I just know that if Boone could talk, he'd look me in the eyes and quote the dying words of Gus McRae from Lonesome Dove:

"By God, Woodrow; it's been one hell of a party!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We've Got a "23-19"!!!

We've got a 23-19!!!!

That's what we say in our house when we catch wind of someone coming over for an unexpected visit. Years ago, we bought the movie "Monsters Inc." for our kids. The phrase, "We've got a 23-19!" is what the monsters would scream whenever one of the children had a security breech and walked through their door unexpectedly.

Ever since that movie came out, "23-19" has been code for, "Quick! Clean the house! Someone's coming over!"

When we hang up the phone and yell, "23-19!" the house erupts in activity. The children pick up their shoes. My husband picks up the remnants of the morning paper. I put stray coffee cups in the dishwasher. We make a quick swipe of the guest bathroom with the Windex and a paper towel to erase any possible stray toothpaste marks in the sink. I vacuum the living room. Then...if there's time, I light a good smelling candle.

We have had so many wonderful and unexpected 23-19's that the drill is second nature to us. We drop what we're doing, and spot-clean our respective areas. We run around the house like chickens with our heads cut off until the work is done, and then we jump on the couch as our company is pulling in the driveway and we pretend to be reading a magazine. Then we calmly answer the door as if we'd been resting for hours in our spotless house. OK, I'm kidding about the last part........ sort of.

The truth is, I dream of having the kind of June Cleaver home where unexpected visits won't frazzle us so much, but I've come to realize that this may not happen anytime soon. Sure, there are a few days each week when the house has been thoroughly cleaned. In between those deep cleanings we try to keep the house straightened up, but I have three homeschooled children in this household. Things are bound to be out of place every now and then. In fact, sometimes the messiness of the house is in direct proportion to how much fun we've had that day. Really messy = Having the time of our lives!

There will be plenty of years down the road when our house will be tidy all of the time. We'll be ready for drop-in guests, and I'll always have a pot of coffee and something freshly baked to feed them. But while we're in the throes of parenting, I'd rather enjoy my kids more, and obsess about domestic perfection less. So for now, I'm satisfied with a few 23-19's every now and then.

Besides, a good 23-19 is like a Chinese fire drill. It really livens up the household, and we look so ridiculous while we're running around that we usually crack up laughing in the process.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hoodwinked at the Feed Store

Here are the facts. We went to the feed store on Friday.  I had a list of what we needed: 

-Timothy/Orchard Grass Hay
-C.O.B w/Molasses
-Salt blocks
-Mineral blocks
-Layer Pellets
-Dog Food

These were NOT on my list!!!
 I went in with the list...I came out with two baby chicks.  Bottom line....I was suckered. Three children really start to wear on their mother when their dad is away elk hunting for two weeks.  They used the tag-team approach, high pressure sales tactics, and gimmicks.  I think I heard someone say something about 0% interest and low monthly payments...wait...what?!

Actually, my girls will need a chicken for one of their 4-H projects, and our hens are old and ugly.  These new arrivals are the final batch of the year. I didn't want to order the 25 chick minimum  to receive them by mail, so I gave in to my childrens'  incessant begging, and whining, and cries of, "Their so fluffy I'm gonna die!"

and now we're the owner of two new- borns.

Moral of the story...Always stick to your list!

It became apparent to me that I really didn't think this whole purchase out very well when we drove home with the chicks.  They have to be kept under a heat lamp at a constant 90-95 degrees for the first week, and then the temperature is lowered each week until they feather out.   It's getting cool on our mountain.

Where was I going to put them? 

My dad's puppy is sleeping in the laundry room.
The cat lives in the garage.
The hen house is occupied by...hens.

Then I had a brilliant idea!
I decided to keep them in the bathtub of the guest bathroom.  We could close the door to keep the cat from eating them, the dogs wouldn't mess with them, and it was a draft-free small space.  It was my only viable option.

The chicks' new temporary home was working out swell until my in-laws came for a visit.  When one of them needed to use the restroom, I started my rapid-fire explaining:

" see....we have these baby the bath tub. There are also heat lamps, power cords across the toilet, shavings, and other hazards on the floor.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that it's 92 degrees in there.  Other than that...feel free to use it...if you don't mind the chirping."

I'm pretty sure they were thinking, "So this is how Red Necks live...interesting."

(I can't believe I'm putting these pics on the internet. My BFF, Dawn, always looks out for me on my blog.  She tells me if I've got some photographic craziness on there that I will regret.  She's like my "trailer trash" picture filter.  But she's got more important things to do right now. She's in Ethiopia so she can bring home her newly adopted son.  That means that she isn't here to tell me not to have these up on the internet.  Come back soon, Dawn, or who knows what other crazy stuff I'm capable of putting on here!)

If my husband comes home and complains, I'll just tell him that it could have been worse.

Next time, the kids might come home with a new horse.