Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend flew by at lightning speed, and we crammed as much stuff into it as possible. Here are some snippets of our 4 day weekend.

My son and my husband woke up early to go gather the last few cows that needed to be hauled to summer pasture while the girls and I went out for a breakfast date.

We got our little old 4-wheeler running like a champ, so the kids spent a day riding it while we irrigated.

We replaced the floor in the old stock trailer with new lumber that was milled from wood that came off last year's fire.  We applied several coats of linseed oil and turpentine mixed together. Then we put the rubber mats back over the top.  Hopefully the new floor will last for many years to come.

 Here's the end result. You could 2-step on it if you wanted to.

 After church on Sunday, I went for a lovely and peaceful ride, and the kids spent the afternoon riding as well.

  My old dog tried to follow me behind my horse for about an acre, and then gave up and went for a swim in the irrigation water, instead.  He's been paying for it for two days now. He's so crippled up that we've been having to medicate him and help him stand in the mornings.  Somehow, I think it was well worth the stiffness for him to get the chance to frolic through the water. He doesn't get many opportunities to frolic anymore since we retired him from his duties to live the house-dog life.

The calves are still growing like weeds. We'll be branding them in two weeks.

Nothing goes to waste around here. My husband cut the  rotten ends off of the old trailer flooring, and used the remaining  good wood to make a new loading chute in one of the pastures.  We've got a lot of work to do here, but the new design is coming along nicely. I think it will make life much easier when it's completed.

On Monday, we spent the day re-planting a bunch of the garden.  We had HORRIBLE weather this weekend. First we had high winds with gusts over 60 mph, and then it dropped down to 25 degrees one night and froze all of our little squash plants, green beans, cucumbers, and a bunch of flowers that budded out in the yard.  It was so aggravating because we  carefully covered them all and they still froze anyway. We drove by entire fields of corn that were 4 inches high and completely dead.  Such is life on the mountain.  We all re-plant when mother nature throws us a curve ball. By Monday it was 85 degrees and calm again.  A while ago, I told you that gardening on this mountain is not for the faint of heart, and I meant every word of it.

That's our weekend in a nutshell.  Exhausting, but deeply satisfying. We were all asleep before our heads hit the pillow each night, and in my opinion, that's the best kind of rest!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Spreading our Culinary Wings and Crash Landing

Sometimes my husband just surprises the heck out me. Last week, my meat and potatoes fella took me out on a date and ate sushi with me.  He even used chopsticks...with the kiddie cheater things attached. ;) I didn't order the raw stuff, but it was still waaaaay out of his comfort zone to eat anything from a sushi bar. We had a coconut shrimp/avocado roll with sweet chili sauce. So tasty! He said he loved it!

Then this weekend, he continued his adventurousness when we went to our local healthy cafe to get chicken salad sandwiches to-go. When the waitress walked by with a shot of wheat grass that had been juiced, it peaked his interest. She talked him into ordering a healthy smoothie from the juice bar. It's called the "Green Machine". Here's what it had in it:

Wheat grass, Spinach, kale, parsley, pineapple, carrot, apple, and honey.

Truthfully, it smelled EXACTLY like the hay pellets we feed the horse. E-X-A-C-T-L-Y.

Here's the crazy part. It cost 7 bucks!!!!! That's OUTRAGEOUS!

We each had a few sips and it was slightly alright. As in, you could drink it but it tastes like you took a big bite out of the cow pasture, alright.

We decided it needed ice, so we took it home and poured it over crushed ice.  It didn't improve the flavor any.  We took a few more sips, and just couldn't stomach another swig.  We couldn't think of a single additive that would make it palatable.  Even though it was $7.00 and we could have purchased half a bale of hay or a bag of alfalfa pellets for that price, we decided to walk away from "The Green Machine" and cut our financial losses.

Here's what it looked like an hour later....3 seconds before I dumped "The Green Machine" down the drain.

It looks so appetizing that you want to blend one up right away, don't you?

Eeeeeeewwwwww.  So gross.

That's probably what it looked like in the pit of my belly where it lingered for hours.  If this is what healthy living is about, then I'll stick to Dr. Pepper.

Living and Learning,


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cute Sewing Projects and Helpful Hints

I've had several sewing projects on the back burner, just waiting for summer to arrive. Yesterday, I made this fun flower pillow using a fabulous tutorial I found. It was so easy! I used less than $2.00 of material, and I was finished with it in under an hour. 

 It's a pillow slip cover, so if you have an old throw pillow hanging around that needs a new look, this would be great to make! 

The flower is made of felt petals and unfortunately, our Walmart only carries Christmas red and green felt. I went ahead and made the red flower even though it doesn't match a single thing in my house! I think I'll give this one away. The next time I'm in a big city with a fabric store, I'll pick up some other colors of felt to make some throw pillows for the girls' beds.  

Here's the link to the tutorial if anyone else wants to make one:

Here's another fast and easy sewing project:

 I whipped out these cute camera strap covers on my sewing machine in less than an hour.  They're so fun and bright for summer! I like to switch up my camera straps every now and then for variety.  Because I'm a dedicated blogger, I'm never without my camera. Why not make it look cute!?!

They also make great gifts. Next week, I'm flying to Texas with my friend Dawn so we can visit our other friend Gina and see her new baby girl.  I made these two straps to take for Gina because she's a fabulous photographer, and green is her color!!!

Here's the camera strap tutorial I used over at Cluck, Cluck, Sew:

Also, I thought I'd share with you a few tips that have been making my life easier lately.  You are such smart readers that you're probably already doing these things, but I'm here to share them with you if you aren't. 

I love the new re-usable cups with lids that all the stores are carrying right now, but I did not love cleaning the straws out. Even in the dishwasher, they didn't seem to come clean.  So I bought a package of pipe cleaners from the craft department of Walmart. I put a little soap on the tip and run it through the straw. Voila'...clean as a whistle!

Also, I've been starting to use my iPhone to take pictures of recipes I'd like to try in magazines around the house. It's so much easier than writing them down! If you're at the dentist office and don't want to rip a page out of an old magazine, just snap a picture of it! Then the next time you're at the grocery store,  just look at the photo on your phone, and you can pick up all of the ingredients you need for the recipe.

Enjoy the day!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Workin' for the Boss and Beauty Tips...Both Free of Charge

Hello world. So nice to see you on this lovely Tuesday morning! Yesterday was the first day of summer vacation for this family.  Approximately 7 minutes into our first day of  "chillaxing" (chillin' and relaxing) I got an emergency call from the big boss. He went to pump water from the ditch to fill the tanks, but the ditch was... 

dry as a bone.

Pumping water from the ditch= 15 minutes.

Hauling water from the creek = 2 hours.

Since my husband is a welder by day, he didn't have two hours on a Monday to fill the stock tank. So he called in his lovely assistant and ace-in-the-hole, me.

I recruited my top-notch ranch-hands-in-training and we threw some supplies in the truck. After feeding and watering old dogs, the rodent exterminator, chickens, piggies, and the wonder horse, we set off on our assignment.

Who wouldn't hire a crew like this? Especially with our cheese-ball grins?

We drove to the creek...which was barely running, and we submerged our pump into the water. We cranked up the generator and pumped water into the tank in the back of the truck.

Her job is to keep the hose in the tank and watch the water level.

His job is to keep the pump from going down the creek.

My baby's job is to keep a good eye out for toads while simultaneously keeping her finger on a little hole in the hose so it doesn't squirt her brother in the eye.

It's a very precise and complicated operation involving years of training.

They spotted this toad below, and I almost lost control of the whole crew. No one wanted to work any more, they all just wanted to catch the toad..or frog...or amphibian. Whatever it is.

That's the problem with free help. It's so undependable.

 Here I am on top of  tank, waiting for the hose so that I can hook it on the pump and submerge it into the tank to pump the water out.  Exciting stuff, isn't it? You're on the edge of your computer chair right now, aren't you?

Now we have to repeat this process five more times. Drive to the creek, pump water in the tank, drive to the pasture, pump water out of the tank, etc. etc.

Halfway through the job, my crew was getting hot, hungry, and thirsty.

Hungry crew = cranky kids

So for the sake of my sanity, we ceased all operations and immediately went for a slice of pizza and soda at the local hole-in-the-wall pizza joint.

After my ranch-hands were fueled up, they were ready to work again, and re-gained their "top-notch" ranking.

I would like to pause here for a brief beauty tip moment:

If your son takes a random picture of your hand...

If your hand looks like it belongs to an eighty year old cowboy even though you are a 34 year old woman...

If  you do not have money to waste on a manicure that will last 4 1/2 hours...

If you put expensive creams on your hands every day to no avail....

Simply give yourself a 3 minute digital manicure using your favorite photo editing program. I went with a lovely shade of pink for this picture.



The transformation is complete. It's positively radiant, isn't it? Just kidding.

Today's beauty tip moment is brought to you free of charge by...me.

Let's end this blog, shall we?  As you can see, my team of expert water-haulers got the job done, and done right!

Clear as mud, isn't it?

Don't worry, it will settle out in a few hours.

Go forth and have a productive day, alright?

Your friend forever,

Nellie Belles

Thursday, May 17, 2012

No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Pie

Here's a delightful and refreshing dessert for a hot summer day. It's quick to throw together and a family favorite at our house. 

Start by mixing 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs with 3 TBS sugar.  Add in 1/3 cup margarine and mix right in the pie plate.

Press it firmly up the sides and in the bottom to form the crust.  Stick the pie pan in the freezer while you make the filling.

Plop two 8oz. packages of cream cheese in a mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.  whip until well blended.

Next, add 1/2  of a 4 serving package of strawberry Jello mix and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.  Mix well.

When it's pretty and pink, add 1 cup of chopped strawberries to the bowl and mix.  Then fold in 1 8oz. tub of Cool whip.

Try really, really hard not to lick the mixing paddle!

Spoon the filling into the crust and add a few berries on top.

Cover and keep it refrigerated until you are ready to devour it.

No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Pie

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 TBS. granulated sugar
1/3 cup melted margarine

Mix ingredients and press in to a deep dish pie plate and up the sides. Place in freezer while preparing filling.


2 8oz. packages of cream cheese
1/2 package strawberry Jello gelatin (4 serving size)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 tub of Cool Whip (8oz.)

Whip cream cheese and granulated sugar with electric mixer until well blended. Add jello mix and powdered sugar and mix well.  Next add strawberries and Cool Whip.  Spoon mixture over crust and cover.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

4-H Horse Competition

Yesterday, we loaded up Jake and made the long drive to Holbrook for the kids' very first 4-H horse competition.  Clubs from all over the north-east part of the state came to compete. We have hard winters around here, so our club has only been able to meet a few times in the last few months to start conditioning their horses.  They'll practice their riding events throughout the summer, but this was their very first exposure to the events that they'll be competing in at the fair in the fall.

We really just threw them in with no prior experience, and  let them learn by doing. They did an incredible job yesterday, and more importantly, they had an absolute ball!! They each placed high in several events, and we came home with a few prizes for being in the top 3 in their age group.

One of their events was goat tying.  This was my son's favorite event because it's a precursor to calf roping.

They race down the arena, hop off their horse....

grab their rope and catch the goat...

flank it, tie up three legs and throw their hands up in the air.

If the goat gets untied, then they're disqualified.

Our oldest daughter did great flanking her goat, but then it kicked her in the gut and it quickly became her least favorite event of the day.  

Our baby is in the Pee Wee Division, so she just had to race down the arena, get off of her horse by herself, (no small feat when you're small and ride a giant horse) and tie a rope around the goat's neck.

They also had a  barrel race. My kids did fantastic on this event!  Afterward, they had a race where you grab the flag from the first barrel as you run by,  then you run around the outside of the barrels, and put the flag back into a bucket in the last barrel as you fly by on your horse.  That was challenging, but fun.

Another one of the events was pole bending, and we were totally surprised when our horse, Jake, knew exactly how to do the pattern. It seems as though he's really done a little of everything in his long life.  We knew he was a retired roping horse, but we didn't know how good he was at  running poles and barrels.  in fact, in the picture below, Jake's taking my girl for a ride and she's just doing her best to keep up with him.

We totally cracked up when our baby, who has NO CLUE how to run the pole bending pattern, just tapped on Jake with her heel and made a kissing noise. Then he loped her down the arena, trotted through the whole pattern, and loped her back....she didn't do a thing but hang on. LOL! So funny. We had no idea he had such mad pole bending skillz.

Here she is just trotting around the flag race pattern like it's a walk in the park.  No worries about time, no hurry, just trottin'.

After seeing our trusty steed in action for the first time, countless people came up to us and told us that our horse was "one in a million" because he took such good care of the kids, and really put the petal to the metal with the older ones but geared down with our baby on his back.  He has so much experience that he's really teaching the kids what to do. In our minds, he is truly the million dollar horse we got for free.

The kids also participated in a halter class where they practiced their showmanship skills. 

We had a full day of activities at the rodeo grounds, and the kids were blitzed... But not so tired that they couldn't check out the dinosaurs on the way out of town. If you've ever driven through Holbrook, then you know that it's a ....unique....town. It's famous for the Petrified Forest, The Wig Wam Motel on Route 66 where you can sleep in a Tee Pee  ( which was featured in the movie "Cars" as the Cozy Cone Motel). It also has these crazy dinosaurs everywhere.

We got the kids a cherry Icee to drink on the way out of town, and then they crashed for the long drive home.

Too much excitement for my little cowpokes.

We're so excited for a summer full of riding and fun! I'm looking forward to seeing how much they all improve with regular practice, and some experience.