Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Cowboy Christmas

Well hello, there.

It's nice to be typing the computer keys again.

We're back from making the Christmas rounds with both sides of the family, and we have the wood stove stoked up to ward off the bitter cold temperatures we returned home to.

We spent the evening unpacking our new treasures. Our gifts are a cowboy's dream and a lazy man's nightmare:

Boots, gloves, hats, manure rakes, feed scoops, ropes, halters, grooming brushes, jeans, shirts, winter socks, tools, head lamps, chaps, a pallet of horse feed......etc. etc.

You know, the usual Christmas stuff.

Among the non "work related" gifts we received was a beautiful new Nativity set from my in-laws. We have finally graduated to a porcelain set now that the kids have grown older.  I painted our first Nativity set on blocks of wood when our son was a baby so he could play with them as we read our advent devotions each night.  Then, when the girls were little, I sewed a stuffed fabric nativity set for them to play with under the Christmas tree. It's hard to believe that we're out of that stage of parenthood, and can now display the breakables down low on the Christmas tree.

There were years I thought we'd never get to that point.

This year, we also got some electronics from my dad so that we can update our entertainment center and bring it into the current century. My husband is currently elbow deep in random cords and owner's manuals. It's best if I just stay away until everything's hooked up. This household doesn't always get along with new technology.

There's so much more to share with you, but it will have to wait. We're expecting more snow tonight and tomorrow which means we'll have extra chores to do.

I can't wait to catch up with all of you!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Defining Moment

When raising children, there are many defining moments and mile markers along the journey that bring tears of joy, and hearts overflowing with emotion.  

When our babies were born, we stood before God and family and promised to raise each one of our children in the knowledge of the Lord.

The words of Deuteronomy 6:6-7 had deep implications:

"These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."
Charged with an overwhelming conviction to live out this verse, we began to pour our lives into our children. For years we have been in the trenches, teaching them about God's Word day in and day out. We've been praying with them and teaching them to pray, and trying to live out our faith as an example to them.

We are imperfect parents relying completely on Christ to help us model his PERFECT love.

God has been so gracious to us through the years and one by one, each of our three children has asked Jesus into their hearts, and made Him Lord of their lives. Those were defining moments when we wept for joy!

As we continued to disciple them,  each one came to us and asked to be baptized.

We were overwhelmed with emotion as our children made a public profession of their faith through baptism on this Sunday morning, December 16, 2012.

It was an honor for our pastor to allow my husband to baptize our children since he is the spiritual head of our family. Yet another defining moment!

It was a beautiful day. Our family and friends drove through freshly fallen snow to gather in the pews and be witnesses to this act of obedience in our children's lives.

God is so good to us! He is so gracious, and I just wanted to share our joy with all of you. We have many miles to go in our parenting journey, but it is important to rejoice over every milestone!

Have a blessed day,


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The NFR in Las Vegas

We're back from our first ever trip to the National Finals Rodeo! It was a whirlwind adventure that we won't soon forget!

We dropped the kids off with Grandma and made the long drive to Las Vegas to meet up with several of our good friends. Together, we experienced what happens when tens of thousands of cowboys converge in one location. Las Vegas really does turn into cowboy central for ten days every December.

We had two main purposes for the weekend: The first was to attend round 3 of the NFR.

We arrived at the Thomas and Mack Center with swarms of other folks and took our seats for the most exciting rodeo I've ever attended. They leave no detail left undone, and the whole thing runs like clockwork.

Watching it on television all of these years just isn't the same as being there in person and smelling the dirt in the arena.

(I couldn't lug my Nikon around all night, so bear with me and the junky iPhone pics.)

During the opening ceremonies, Susie McEntire (Reba's sister) sang the national anthem. Afterward, there was a beautiful prayer said, and Rodney Atkins sang "Take a Back Road".

The action was non-stop all night! There were plenty of Arizona cowboys and cowgirls to cheer for. Two of the top team ropers come from around here, and one of them goes to our local community college...which is teeny tiny. Ha Ha. Also, I got to see (my friend and fellow blogger) Monica's cousin run barrels.

I have to say that watching the best of the best competing all together in one rodeo is about the most exciting thing I've seen in a while! Around here, there's a whole lot of "no score"  and "no time" and " no catch" announced in the rodeo arena. Not at the NFR.

After the rodeo, we went with our friends to hear one of the best country bands I've ever listened to, and my hubby twirled me around the dance floor.  It felt like we were on a date back in college.

The second purpose for going to Vegas was to attend the famous "Cowboy Christmas" sale. It encompasses not one, but TWO convention centers.  With over 800 vendors, it was GINORMOUS!!!!

If it's western, you'll find it at Cowboy Christmas.  I lugged my poor husband around for 5 hours the first day, and two the second day in order to see all of the booths.  We bought oodles of great Christmas gifts that I can't talk about right now in case little eyes are reading this blog.

It was so massive that for the first time ever, I thought there might possibly such a thing as too much of a good thing. I was overwhelmed for the first couple of hours.

Then I got over it's massiveness and began to shop for the whole family.  I was too busy, and too loaded with bags to take any pictures of it, but I did snap one picture of the one thing that I LOVED but didn't come home with:

This crazy looking thing would have been so cool in my living room.  I have tan walls with brown furniture and this would have really "popped" against the sea of brown.  I would have put the TV on top of it, and the DVD player in the center cabinet with the rod iron design. I can just see it all right now. At $1350 it was out of my price range, but a girl can dream can't she?!?

As much as we loved the rodeo, and the shopping, and the people, we really don't care for Vegas. It's just yucky.  I wish the rodeo festivities were in any other city but that one.  We stayed in a beautiful hotel, and the lights of Vegas sure do shine at night, but it can't hide the oppression and filth that goes on there.  With just under 48 hours in that city, we were ready to go home!

I took some photos of some of the highlights of the city to remember it by.

At the Entrance to Caesar's Palace, they had the statue dressed with a cowboy hat and rope to welcome rodeo fans to the hotel.

The strip was all lit up for Christmas, and there was even an outdoor ice-rink and Christmas music for guests.

The lobby of the Belagio hotel was gorgeous, and all decorated up for Christmas.

They have an Atrium filled with fresh flowers and larger than life animals made from plant materials like they do in the Rose Parade.  It was pretty spectacular to see.

I got a kick out of this "art" piece found in one of the hotel lobbies.  From what I know of Vegas, some folks come in like that, but  most leave empty handed.

It was definitely a trip to remember!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

7 Random Things

1. We had our annual Christmas tree hunt last weekend. My girl could care less about finding a tree. She thought she found a much better treasure in the woods:

It broke my heart to tell her that she couldn't take the elk skull home after she carried it half a mile, but I did not want that thing residing in her bedroom. It doesn't match the flower motif.

2. My husband showed his softer side by taking us all to our town's Christmas light parade. It was a true sacrifice for him because:

 *It took longer to drive to the parade than it did to watch the parade which was a mere 14 minutes long.
 *He hates traffic
 *He hates crowds
 *He hates parades

But... he LOVES us!

Give kids a glow-stick and they'll have hours of entertainment.

Below is the company float that our family helped to decorate. The kids put lights on Rudolph.

We enjoyed our little parade, even though my husband wouldn't let the kids see the last float with Santa on it.  We were too busy sprinting to the truck and 4 wheeling out of the parking lot before there was a mass exodus of vehicles clogging the highway.  Like I said, the man hates parades.

3. My husband left the house very early yesterday morning, and instead of telling me where I needed to water the cows, he left me some sort of treasure map indicating where he moved the stock tank, and where to find the water.  It's not exactly a love note, but it was drawn with thoughtfulness, and that's just as good.


4. There is a little catfish that has been living in one of our stock tanks for nearly 8 months now.  We  somehow sucked him up with a pump while hauling water, and he's been living in that tank ever since.  I can't believe he's survived this long, and doubled in size. With winter coming on, I think we'll have to relocate him before the tank freezes. The kids will be sorry to see him go since he's the first thing they go to see every week when we fill the tank.

5. Workout videos have left me in a perpetual state of soreness for the last two weeks. It's torture at its finest.

6. Yesterday my 500th blog post came without fanfare. I thought I'd run out of things to write about by now, but apparently I'm even wordier than I thought.

7. Lonesome Dove is one of my all-time favorite westerns. It has some pretty understated and thought provoking quotes. Sometimes lines in a Western book or movie are so simple that you almost miss their depth. Every fan of Lonesome Dove knows the classic quotes, but I typed out a few gems from the book that I had forgotten about.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Different Approach

There are some advantages to being the baby of the family.

By the time our third kid came along, we had smoothed out the rough edges in our parenting skills.  We were somewhat confident in our child-rearing abilities and no longer cared about what our peers were doing. We threw out all of the parenting books after the first-born, and decided to raise all of our kids "Commando" style.

There are many little things we trained our children to do, but for us, teaching our kids to ride a bike was one of the toughest challenges.  

It was waaay harder than teaching potty training, shoe tying, and long division.

This is partly because we live on wash-board gravel roads where training wheels spin out,  partly because we have snow half of the year, and partly because we don't have much time to ride in the summer.

With our first kid, we were over-achievers.  We took the training wheels off when he was pretty young.  After countless training sessions and a few tears, he was the first of his buddies to learn how to ride a bike.

Our second kid had it rough.  She was always competing with her big brother, and wanted her training wheels off A.S.A.P!  We had less time on our hands for training,  but thankfully she picked up the skill quickly. She had a major setback early on when she crashed and burned on a bike ride.  Her whole face was covered in road-rash. Despite wearing a helmet, we made a trip to the doctor to make sure her giant goose-egg wasn't a concussion.

When our third child grew to riding age, we decided to take the lazy laid-back approach.  We had so many other priorities that we never really pushed the bike training.  Our baby spent her summer on horse-back, and didn't seem to mind that she hadn't conquered bicycle riding.  That was just fine with us because we came to dread the bike riding lessons.

This fall, she finally expressed interest in learning to ride, and so we had a training session up and down the gravel road.

Since she was older than the other kids, she took to it very quickly!  Besides, she was sick of being left out when her brother and sister went for a ride.  That was incentive enough! With just a couple of trial runs, we let her figure the whole thing out on her own.

She was all smiles and no tears when she rode alone for the first time.

"Petal, petal, petal!" were our only words of advice as she took off down the road.

Now that she's burning up the gravel with her new skills, we can't keep her off her bike seat.  She's obsessed with riding!

She's still figuring out the brakes, though.  She does a combination of pushing backward on the petals and dragging the heels of her boots to stop.  Whenever she gets out of control, her "stabilizers" come out and kick up dust until she's at a more reasonable speed.

As you can see, her "brakes" and "stabilizers" are wearing out quickly. Ha Ha! I think it's about time for a new pair.

It's well worth it, though, to have another childhood training item crossed off the list.

I'm glad we waited until she wanted to learn, instead of pushing her to do it earlier. The whole experience went so much smoother.

I have to confess that there have been a few times that I've seen pictures of smaller children riding without training wheels on the sidewalks in the city, and I've felt a little panic-stricken, thinking that I wasn't doing my job in a timely manner, but then I remember that everyone has different training priorities.

Kids learn what they need to know for the lifestyle they're raised in.

Our baby knows her way around a horse better than some adults.  All of our kids were brave enough to hold their ground while working cattle in the pens, and could differentiate between breeds of cows before preschool. They knew the difference between a heifer, cow, steer, and bull by the time they were just little tykes, and have lots of skills that city kids may never learn.

Every child is unique, and there is no "one size fits all" parenting.

I'm glad we're through with most of the tough stuff.... until the teenage years hit. I need a few years of rest before we start driving lessons. If her boots are any indication of her future driving, I'm going to get a whole lot of  whip-lash, and burn through a few brake pads on the truck before the girl turns 16.  I may even see my life flash before my eyes a few times.

Lord, help us all!


Friday, November 30, 2012

"What I Wore Sunday" and a Coffee Update

Happy Friday, everyone!

My blog friend Rachel over at Ranchin' Mama, and my cousin Sharon have both been asking for ladies to participate with "What I Wore" pictures on their blogs.  I kept forgetting to have someone take a picture when I got dressed up so I only have a couple to share this week. Plus, my wardrobe isn't very fashion forward. Thankfully, no-one around here seems to care.

Below is the outfit I wore to church on Sunday morning.  It was chilly when we left so I threw on a light jean jacket. In the winter, I wear it with boots instead of sandals.

Here is the outfit I wore to a garden wedding last week. It was unseasonably warm, so I could still get away with it.

I hate the horrible picture below, but I put it on here because sometimes, when I'm feeling cantankerous, I wear this dress with my old boots. My toes stay warmer, and it's way more comfortable. I don't care if it doesn't match.

I'll try to remember to snap more outfit pictures next week.

Coffee Update:

As you know,  the past few weeks I've been trying to adapt to drinking coffee. I've been experimenting with all sorts of flavorings, and I've had my ups and downs with the whole experience. Last night, however, I drank the best Peppermint Mocha I've had in a while, and I downed the whole cup in a matter of minutes. It was tasty!

Big Mistake.

Huge Mistake!

Two hours later, I went to bed but wasn't tired at all.

Finally, I got up and read a book on my iPad to pass the time.

At 3:00 a.m. I was still staring at the ceiling.... WIDE AWAKE.

I don't know what time I finally dozed off, but when I woke up this morning, I felt horrible! I think I only got a couple of hours of sleep.

Caffeine is a nasty little creature at bedtime.  I can't believe the fully leaded stuff had such a bad effect on me.

No more coffee for me at night.

Lesson learned.


Have a fabulous Friday,


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Another Year Older

I just celebrated my birthday, and I have to say that 35 feels fabulous! Every day is a gift from God. When I was 18, I thought that people in their 30's were totally old, but now that I'm smack-dab in the middle of them, I think I've hit a sweet-spot in life.

Sure I've got jiggles in unwanted places, a wrinkle or two, and new "wisdom" hairs sprouting every month, but I wouldn't trade them for anything.  I'm much more comfortable in my own skin these days. I'm a little wiser, more content, and more confident of who I am in Christ than I was a decade ago. I've done some living, survived some tough stuff, and have a whole lot to look forward to in the future.

35 is a good age!

The Lord has really blessed my socks off through so many people this week! I've been spoiled rotten by my family and friends, and I'm blown away by it all.  I feel like Christmas came early!

You know, sometimes we go through long, hard seasons of pain and trials.  Other times, we go through quiet seasons of rest. Occasionally, God takes us through a season of blessings.  Through it all, it's good to praise Him!

This week has been a time of rejoicing, and I just wanted to share with you how much I've been blessed.

First off, I got a special delivery at my front door today.  I've been wanting a new pair of dressy black boots to wear with jeans for years, but I never bought any.  I finally combined all of my birthday money and splurged on a new pair from Country Outfitter, and I'm so excited about them! (They look much better in person!) I love the way they look with dark jeans, black shirts, and Turquoise jewelry, but I wouldn't wear them with a dress. The tops just aren't tall enough. It's my first pair of square toed boots, but I think they're growing on me, and they are sooooo comfortable!

DanPost_DP2890_15 Medium

For my entire married life, I've had an old, junky blender with a cracked lid and a chewed up/ taped cord. It was so noisy that  it sent everyone running the other direction when I turned it on. As inconvenient as it was, I used it to grind up everything from nuts to Oreo cookies.

Last weekend, my dad totally surprised me with a brand new, high-tech Kitchenaid food processor! I nearly cried.  It's so quiet, and so powerful. I haven't even scratched the surface of its potential, yet.

As if that wasn't enough, he also got me a Kitchenaid Immersion Blender for making soups, and stirring things right in the pot! I never thought I'd own something so fancy.

Product Details

Yesterday, my kids surprised me with the second Pioneer Woman Cookbook. They are so thoughtful, and they definitely know their Mama! I love The Pioneer Woman!
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier

One of my dear friends just upgraded to the newest iPad, and she gave me her old one! That's right, I am now the owner of an iPad! WoooHoooo!  The first thing I did with it was shop for a Christmas present online in my warm, cozy bed. It felt almost sinful to buy something in my pajamas with the touch of the screen when everyone else was Black Friday shopping in horrendous lines, and nightmare traffic.

The second thing I did was set it up so that I can load free library books onto it. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about not having any real pages to flip, but so far, it has been an absolute delight to have reading material at my finger-tips. And the selection of  books  online is far greater than what I can get at our tiny little library. The best part? No over-due book fees. The book simply disappears on the due- date!

Product Details

This last blessing might seem silly to everyone, but it's important to me! My husband got an absolute screaming deal on a diamond-plated toolbox for the back of my truck bed.  We always have toolboxes on our work trucks, but we've never had one for the truck I drive now.  It's going to be so nice to have a spot to put things where they'll stay dry.  I can't tell you how many times I've filled the cab with groceries, luggage,jackets or tack to the point that my kids didn't have a spot for their feet because I was trying to keep everything out of the rain and snow.  Hooray for extra storage!

Wel-Bilt Aluminum Slim-Line Crossbed Truck Box - Diamond Plate 70in.L x 12in.W x 16in.H

As you can see, I was serious when I said that the Lord has blessed my socks off this week! The truth is, God blesses me every day, and far more than I deserve. Some days I have to dig deeper to find it, but there is always, always something to be thankful for.

Have a great day, friends!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Pondering Thanksgiving

We're back from our Thanksgiving travels and down to the final bag of left-over turkey.  I've been rationing the last of the pumpkin cheesecake so that I can savor each bite a little longer.  We've been feeding the decorative pumpkins to the chickens, and their eggs have a beautiful dark orange yolk because of it.

I've also been feeding aspirin to my old dog Boone, because holiday traveling makes him cripple up. When we drive down to see my family, he spends 4 hours standing in the back of the truck with a furrowed brow, paws on the wheel-well, and the wind in his fur.  He looks to the horizon like the captain of a ship. He won't lay down and rest like little Chigger does.  He's afraid he'll miss something.  Then he pays for it dearly the next day when he can't stand up on his own.

He's become a real thorn in my fanny when we travel. I don't know if he's got dog Alzheimers or dementia but he's started this embarrassing chatter in the back of the truck when we reach the city. At every stop light he makes the strangest Chewbacca from Star Wars.  It's loud, and every car around us starts cracking up with all eyes on my crazy old- fart of a dog. And don't even get me started about the bicyclists that he barks at.  I used to be able to yell at him from the cab when he started acting like a hooligan, but now that he's deaf, it's no use.

I can't take that dog anywhere!

I guess I'm writing all of this nonsense to avoid writing about the real issue.

The truth is, Thanksgiving has become a tough holiday for me to get through the last few years. It's not the hours spent baking, and preparing for the feast that bother me. I really enjoy cooking.

It's not the fact that I spend several days in my mom's kitchen. I grew up in that kitchen, and it's comforting to be surrounded by my mom's old, familiar bowls and spoons.

At the heart of it, I'm just homesick for that nostalgic era when many generations of women in my family all gathered in the kitchen to prepare the Thanksgiving meal.  I have the fondest memories of the chitter-chatter of ladies in the kitchen.  The hours passed by quickly as they talked about everything and nothing while stirring the gravy, and mashing the potatoes.  I had small jobs back then, like setting the table, pouring the drinks, and putting out the appetizers, but I felt thankful to be a part of the action. My Granny would delegate the jobs,  and kept things flowing like clock-work.  She knew exactly when to start cooking things. Her kitchen crew was like a well- oiled machine, chopping, and dicing, and stirring in unison, moving about the kitchen like dancers in a ballroom.

Apart from the occasional basting of the turkey, the men-folk stayed away from the kitchen. That was the ladies' territory.  After the meal was finished and the bellies were full, the women would gather in the kitchen once again to do the dishes, and clean up the mess.  Many hands made light work, and the cleaning seemed to go by quickly.

But one by one, the matriarchs of the family have all gone.

And  last year, at the age of 33, I found myself thrust into a position I didn't plan on being in for many years to come. With the death of my mom, I had now become the sole female in the kitchen.

There is no more ladies' chitter-chatter, no more sharing of recipes, no more taste-testing and laughter.  Now I work steadily, side-by-side with my dad to prepare the meal. The other gals come just before serving time, dressed elegantly with perfectly styled hair and a casserole dish from home.  I greet them with my gravy stained apron, and sweaty clothes.  We say the grace and then eat.

Afterward, they are content to sit and visit while I do the dishes with the help of my husband who takes pity on me. There's no-one else who seems to enjoy cooking, is willing to throw on an apron and get messy, or pull up their sleeves and help with dishes.

When my mom died, it felt like the death of an era.

But then, like shining little beacons of hope, my own little girls asked to help me prepare the Thanksgiving meal this year.  In an instant, my whole outlook changed.

Instead of looking back, wishing for things to be like they were in days gone by, I've decided to look ahead to all of the possibilities that lie in front of me.

As my girls grow older, I hope to instill in them a love of the kitchen. I hope to share recipes with them, and teach them how to make good gravy. I hope that as they grow into young women, we can chit-chat about boys and jobs and life while we mash the potatoes.  Perhaps some day, I'll share the kitchen not only with my own girls, but maybe with a daughter-in-law, and grand-daughters, too.

I'll pass down my mom's famous Coconut Cream pie recipe, and my grandma's date pudding. I'll teach them how to make a beautiful pie crust, and tell them that the secret's in the way you pinch it.  And even though the matriarchs of yesterday aren't with us in the kitchen, their knowledge will be passed from generation to generation.

The one thing that seems to be constant, is that nothing stays the same. No matter how much I fight it, change is inevitable. But I'll hold on to the wonderful memories and traditions of the past, while making new memories today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Scoop

 Hello out there! It's been awhile. Between hauling water, replacing tank heaters, and doing laundry, I've somehow lost the time to document my life.

Thankfully, I have mediocre iPhone pics to share with you.

last weekend, we left the mountain to attend a very special birthday party for my niece. She just turned one!

In the "burbs" people get these bouncy castle things for birthday parties. It's like, the thing to do. We don't have stuff like that up on the mountain so my kids bounced their hearts out. 

The birthday girl enjoyed her first taste of cake and frosting!

Look at that green grass! That's why people move to Phoenix in the winter.

While we were in town, we shopped for Thanksgiving food, and made the menu. I'll be cooking for a crowd this year so my Dad and I stocked up on everything we'll need for the big day.

In other news, my friend polished my nails with gel polish that hardens under a special light. This stuff is supposed to last several weeks. I had her do my nails for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I'm very impressed by their longevity.  Normally, a manicure lasts less than a day around here, but this stuff is tough! No more John Wayne hands for Thanksgiving.  Only pretty lady fingers for me!

I've been thumbing through this fancy catalog that arrived in the mail this week.  My husband broke an expensive plate this year while we were having dinner at a friend's house, and I bought a new one from this store to replace it.  I guess that's why they sent us their catalog.  It makes me feel highfalutin when I read it, as if I have a summer home in the Hamptons or something.  Quick, someone get me a K-Mart ad before I forget my roots. HaHa!

Below is a picture I snapped at Wally World.  It's that time of year when every store in town has these ugly re-bar flagged things out.  I bet half of you reading will know what they're for, and the other half won't have a clue. 

Yes, just around the corner, we'll be having "big" snows, and these ugly markers are out so the plow doesn't hit the planters and curbs in the parking lots.

Lastly, I'll leave you with a picture of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen for Thanksgiving. Does your Walmart carry these things? They would definitely be an ice-breaker sitting on the Thanksgiving table.

Well, that's all of the photo documentation that I have. I'm off to do some chores, and teach some kids!

Happy Tuesday!


Monday, November 12, 2012

7 Random Things

1. I've got a great, crowd pleasing appetizer to share with you for the holidays. It's so simple to throw together for unexpected guests, too! We had it at a friend's house and then dreamed about it for a week until we could get the ingredients to make it at home.  You may already be eating this and thinking that I'm so "behind" the times, and you'd be right. ;)

Take a block of cream cheese and plop it on a plate.

 Next, take some jalapeno jam and plop it over the cream cheese. Then use your favorite flavor of Wheat Thins to scoop up the cheese and jam deliciousness. Ahhhhhh. Perfection on a cracker.

I found this jam at Safeway in my neck of the woods. It' delicious! 

P.S.- It's sweet, not really spicy. My kids even love it.

2. Here's what happens to every bag of trail mix in our home:

Yes, there are a few raisin haters around here. How could you tell?

3. I've been stitching together a few velvet pumpkins with real stems as demonstrations for this month's  4-H sewing class. I may or may not have started a small fire in the microwave while attempting to take a shortcut in the stem drying process, which may or may not have caused the house to smell like burnt  pumpkin stems.  

(baking for an hour at 175° works so much better. ) Wink, Wink.

4. We've added a new weapon in our arsenal against dry, cracked hands.  I still love my Bath and Body Works True Blue Spa Hand Lotion, and it's light citrus scent, but our dermatologist has recently got my husband hooked on a less greasy, but equally effective alternative that won't make your hands feel so slippery while doing chores. It's called O' Keeffe's Working Hands.

O'Keeffe's Working Hands Cream, 3.4 oz.
We get it in the paint department at Lowe's. They also carry it at Ace Hardware, or several places online.  My husband keeps one in his lunchbox while out working. His hands crack, chap, and peel so terribly without it.

5. We had our first decent sized snow of the season this weekend.  It was 19° F this morning which means that I couldn't wear my blingy cowhide flip flops.  The only bright spot to the whole thing is that I've been re-united with my blessed Sorrels. If you've read my blog for a while, then you know about my love affair with the most comfortable snow boots on earth.  Toasty toes = TrueLove4EVER

6. We've been listening to Christmas music for weeks now, and I'm not ashamed to say it.  I only wish God would give me my angel voice the same way Ariel got hers on The Little Mermaid so that I could sing O' Holy Night the way it was meant to be sung.

7. I've recently decided to take up coffee drinking.  Growing up in the hot, dry desert, coffee was something that only old people from Minnesota drank.  We drank Iced Tea. Straight. By the gallon. Who wants to drink something hot when it's 115° outside?   But since my husband moved me to the land of the frozen Tundra nearly 13 years ago, friends are always wanting to have me over for coffee.  At Sunday School, the only thing they have to drink is coffee. My husband drinks the stuff every morning without me. Everyone I know wants chat over a cup of coffee. It's coffee, coffee, coffee all the time. Well, I've finally decided to start drinking a cup every day until I'm in love with it. I want to sit and drink coffee while watching the sun rise in the morning. I want to share a thermos of it with my Love while we're driving to haul water to the cows in January. I want to share a pot of it at the kitchen table while talking to my fellow homeschooling moms.  After all, it's the social thing to drink around tea in England, or beer in Ireland, or Saki in Japan.

My plan is to make it taste better with peppermint mocha creamer, or other "foo-foo" stuff (as my husband calls it) until I'm used to it. Then slowly, verrrrry slowly, I'll wean myself off the creamer until I can drink it black, the way my husband, and all other tough cowboys drink it.

Well, that's enough chatter for one day. I'm off to do something productive,