Tuesday, January 29, 2013

7 Random Things

1. Last year, I purchased one of these gallon sized Anniversary Ball Jars. I thought it was so cute, but at the time I couldn't afford more. Then, when I wanted to expand my collection, I couldn't find them locally so I scoured the internet. I got the best deal! I went to the cheapest source I could find, (kmart.com of all places...) and then got a major internet coupon for 40 % off and free shipping. I'm so excited with them! I think they make my open pantry shelves look a little less cluttered. They hold a ton of the dry goods that I normally buy in bulk and keep stored in white 5 gallon buckets. They have such a wide mouth that I can fit a measuring cup in them, and it saves me from lugging the buckets in from the garage storage every time I want to prepare beans, rice, wheat bread, oats, and more. 

2. For my 4-H sewing class, I taught the girls how to sew in a zipper. We made these cute little lined make-up/toiletry bags using a great tutorial I found on Pinterest. Here's the link:

3. The weather has been horrible, so the kids have been forced to ride in an arena. They've been taking a few lessons to improve their horsemanship for the upcoming 4-H season. 

4. Jake's leg seems to be all better, and he comes a runnin' for meals, but the vet said no riding for 6 weeks.  Even though he looks great, we're sticking to the doctor's orders because we want him good and sound for the spring.  Unfortunately, this means that my baby has been riding a pony for her lessons.  It's the cutest thing ever, but in her eyes, she's been completely demoted and  humiliated. She went from riding a giant noble steed to an ornery little midget with short man syndrome.  HaHa! 

All of her friends love the pony, but she can't wait to ride her ole' Jake again.  I think it's good for her because the pony has a naughty streak, and she really has to school him and show him who's boss.  She never has to be that tough on Jake because he's so sweet to her. She's counting the minutes until she can be re-united with her buddy.

5. After having a foot of dirty snow blanketing the yard, it warmed up to the 50's and rained cats and dogs for 3 full days.  It melted all of the snow, and I finally saw my grass for the first time in over 2 months.  The yard had a huge puddle in it and it attracted six ducks who were wading in the front yard, and coming to eat from beneath our bird feeder every day. I think some of them are the offspring of Harry and Mildred, and are coming back to our yard from memory. They've nearly been killed crossing the road from the little watering hole every day, but so far, no fatalities. They've been feasting on bird seed and old bread for days now.

The bad news is that it finally got cold again and the end of the storm brought a fresh blanket of snow.  Sometimes it feels like winter will never end.

6. The last two times the guys went out to go deer hunting this month, catastrophe has ensued and they've had to come home.  The first time, it was so cold that we busted a water pipe in the yard. They had to climb out of the tree stand and drive home.  The second time, they were almost to their hunting spot when they put it into 4- wheel drive and the truck made an awful sound.  They had to be towed home by their buddies, and my husband spent the day re-building the 4-wheel drive in the old truck. Talk about serious disappointment.   

7. Our mouse eradicator is seriously slacking in the peak of her hunting season.  Everywhere I look, I see her sleeping on kids, beds, and sunny windows.  I'm going to cut her cat chow rations, and lock her in the feed shed if her performance doesn't improve.  The girls have pampered her too much, and she's turned into a purring blob of fur.  They've ruined her.  She's no good to me! 

Only two more days until January's over. Woo Hoo!!!


Monday, January 21, 2013

A Letter to my Babies When They're Grown

Dear sweet babies,

When you were born, our dusty old computer had only three programs: Word, Solitaire, and E-Mail.  There was no Pinterest, blogging, or internet forum to help us solve your problems, decorate your nursery with the latest trends, or record your milestones for the world to see.  It took 3 hours to download a picture on something called "dial-up", and we still had real film in our cameras. There was no cell phone app to tell us what fruit size you were each week in gestation, and no website available to upload weekly baby- bump photos to share with far-away relatives. We were at the cusp of a new technological era, and by the time you were in Kindergarten, everything had changed! But your first years were spent in the dark ages of technology.

With each of you, I was given something called a "Baby Book" to record all of your milestones in. This journal that captured your "firsts" was a standard gift at baby showers. I did my best to write things down in them, however, I'm sorry to say that I failed you all miserably.

This is the reason for my letter. I want to apologize for the blank pages in your Baby Books.

Son, being the first born has its privileges.  I did the best with your book, and I got most of the way through the first year. But girls, by the time you came along, things were happening so fast and furious, that I never wrote it all down. Whether sleep- deprivation or forgetfulness is to blame....the bottom line is, your books only have the first few pages filled out. For this, I am deeply sorry.

This is in no way, shape,or form a reflection of my love for you. On the contrary,  I was so enamored with each of you that I didn't have time to pick up a pen and dig your Baby Book out of the closet to write things down in it. I was too busy living in the moment. I was too busy wiping your noses, kissing the boo boo's, and nibbling your sweet little toes after I changed your diapers.

The pages of your book aren't blank because I wasn't proud of you. No. I was beaming with admiration for you. I was the obnoxious parent who told the cashier at the grocery store your height, weight, and head circumference. I cooked you for 9 months in my belly, sacrificed my bikini body, birthed you from my loins, and nourished you at my breast for a full year. With God's help, your dad and I made a tiny person, for goodness sake, and I wanted to show you to the whole wide world!

I might not remember when you got your first molars, but I'll never forget your first word.  It was "Dada"... for all three of you.  I birthed you. I nursed you at 2 am. I changed 95% of your diapers, and your first word was still "Dada". It torqued me to no end and made your daddy beam with pride.

I might not remember the exact date that I first fed you solid food, but I'll never forget how much you loved apple sauce, sweet potatoes, and bananas.  I'll never forget the way you would feed the dogs your Cheerios, and giggle when they licked your chubby little hands from the side of the high chair.

I might not remember the exact time of your first smile or first laugh, but I'll never forget the way you twirled your hair on the top of your head when you were sleepy, or stuck your tiny fingers in my mouth while you nursed, or the way your little lips would keep right on sucking, long after the pacifier fell out of your mouth while you slept.

You all hated the booger sucker, bottles, and tummy time.  You loved the songs your daddy sang to you, and the way he gently petaled your legs back and forth when you were gassy. He cradled you in his arms, face down, the way a receiver carries a football, and walked you up and down the hallway so you could "look for pennies" on the floor. It was your favorite way to be held when you were fussy.

No matter how early or late you achieved your milestones, your dad and I thought you were the most brilliant, most beautiful, most amazing human beings ever made, and we spent hours admiring you, wondering how on earth we got so blessed.

The pages of your books are blank, but the pages in my mind are overflowing with every detail of your precious little lives.  I was soaking up all of those tiny treasures that make life grand, and didn't have the inclination to pick up the pen at the risk of losing the moment.

I hope that one day you will understand.



Saturday, January 19, 2013

Homemade Cinnamon Roll Cream of Wheat

I'm usually a big believer in feeding my kids a breakfast high in protein and healthy fats.  But sometimes, a bowl full of comfort food just sounds  more appealing. On cold winter days when the hens aren't laying well, and eggs aren't plentiful, I whip up a batch of homemade Cream of Wheat. It's delicious and cheap!

Awhile back, I discovered that the boxed Cream of Wheat that my mom had purchased my whole life was really nothing more than ground up wheat berries.  The Hard Red Wheat Berries seem to work best, and I just run them through the wheat grinder. I wish someone would have told me this years ago. It costs just a fraction of the price of the boxed stuff.

Of course, I doctor mine up so that it appeals to my family, but everyone likes it different. As a kid, my mom used to tell us the story of how my grandma used to make it for her daughters, and they liked it lumpy.  For our family, smooth and creamy is the preferred choice.

Here's my Recipe:

Cinnamon Roll Cream of Wheat
(Serves 4)

3/4 cup of ground Hard Red Wheat (Or 3/4 cup of the 2 1/2 minute Cream of Wheat)
4 Cups Milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar

In a large sauce pan, bring the milk and salt just barely to a boil.  Whisk in the ground wheat and cook for 2 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. (It make take just a bit longer if you use freshly ground wheat.) Remove from heat. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Canadians Come to Phoenix in January

It's been down right frigid around my neck of the woods. I'm tired of the lows being -9F and the highs in the teens. Brrrrrr. I know, you're thinking that it can't be that cold in Arizona, but our animals have the frozen muzzles to prove it. It's hard to sleep at night knowing the livestock are shivering out in the cold while we are cozied up by the wood stove. The good news is, we're going to have a heat wave this week and it will be back above freezing by Friday.

We moved a load of cows over the mountain to pastures with electricity and a stock tank heater, and then headed down to Phoenix to visit our Canadian family.  They brought the cold weather with them, and even Phoenix was unseasonably chilly with highs around 48 degrees.  The Canadians wore shorts during their visit. They also talked about going swimming. There's some sort of crazy in the Canadian water.

Anyway, we decided to go to the zoo for the day.  Let me tell you about the zoo in Phoenix.  If you go in the summer, the animals are all panting of heat stroke, hidden under a tree, or in the air conditioning and you can't find any of them in their "habitat". It's like playing Where's Waldo with every. single. animal.

As it turns out, January is also a bad month to go.  All of the animals were under heat lamps and not in their "habitat" because it was too cold.  Even the Orangutans were huddled under blankets in the corner.

"Look kids, do you see that lump under the blanket in the corner of the exhibit? That's the male Orangutan!" Here, look at the picture on the wall and imagine it under the blanket."

My sister-in-law and niece also joined us for the day.

My niece liked the animals, and did her best to keep up with her cousins.  In the end, she fell asleep dreaming of the monkeys.

Speaking of monkeys, I thought these little guys below were so cute and cuddly that I wanted to take one home, and call it George, and make it mine forever.....

until the zookeeper told us that they give themselves "frequent urine baths".  Then I changed my mind.

We DID, get to throw carrots to the elephant, and that was totally cool!

Like a lizard on a cold day, we should all find a good sunny spot to warm up in.

So that was our day in a nutshell. We rarely get to see my Canadian family, so it was an extra special treat.  They're back home to their frozen world, and we're back home to ours.  And we're all trying to stay warm in this wicked cold season.

Staying toasty by the fire,


Saturday, January 5, 2013

7 Random Things

1. Our old horse slipped last week and has a minor sprain in his back leg. The vet gave him apple flavored medicine, and of course, we have the only horse in the world that hates apples. It's been comical to see him sniff it out and snub his nose when we mix it into his grain.  That picky old Fart! Today, I tried mixing it in molasses first and then mixed the molasses into his grain.  He took one bite and had a bunch of sticky grain hanging from his old whiskers. He does not like having sticky whiskers one bit! He rubbed his chin on the pipe railing after every  single bite to wipe the grain off. It gave us all a good chuckle but it worked. He ate the whole thing!

2. Here are two signs I saw next to each other while parking in downtown Phoenix near the fairgrounds. They gave me a chuckle.

This one's for "patient" people. Ha!

3. My girls have been more independent lately, and have been doing their own hair in the mornings. While I appreciate their determination, some of their crooked pony tails, braid attempts, and hair accessory choices have me scratching my head. I just let them wear their hair however they want when we're home, and only ask to help them when we have some place to go. I don't want to break their creative spirit.  It makes me smile because I think my mother would say that my chickens have come home to roost. When I was just a bit older than them and still learning to do my own hair, I went through a 3 year phase with huge bangs and lots of hairspray that made my mother cringe every single day. I keep reminding myself that no matter how many flowers, headbands, and barrettes my girls wear, it could never be as bad as my late 80's bangs. Ever.

4. Thanks to some tech savvy phone help from Mega Mind (my little brother) we now have our receiver and blue ray player working and hooked up to the internet for things like Netflix, and You tube. But the thing I'm most excited about is having Pandora Radio in surround sound! For two years, I've been listening to Pandora with my iPhone placed in a bowl to project the sound more loudly. (That's definitely a first world problem. LOL!)  Having my favorite music floating through the whole house now is Epic!

5. I'm going to invent a stock tank camera that runs off a battery, and is linked to the internet.  I'd mount it above the reach of the cows so I can check ice/ water levels with a click of the mouse in pastures without electricity. Then I won't have to make the long drive to check the tanks every day. Wouldn't that be cool? It would be terribly expensive, and horribly impractical but the concept is possibly a brilliant one. ( Don't you love how I just shamelessly proclaimed my possible brilliance? Ha! I crack myself up!)   I've seen this principle work with a live camera mounted in an eagle's nest so people could watch the baby eagle eggs hatch from their computer. My motto: work smarter, not harder.  The alternative: We could just sell this stinkin' house so our cows can all be in one place for the winter! Sorry. I lost my  10 minute patience there for a minute.

5a. Here are terrible iPhone pics of the first encounter between barn cat and cows. Curiosity nearly killed the cat, but she made a narrow escape through the fence. Yes, this is what entertains me for hours while I'm filling up the stock tanks. It's the simple things...

Well... it was a whole lot funnier in person, ok?

6. We went to the stock show last weekend and took a class to learn how to "fit" show cattle. I've seen a lot of show cattle in my years, and fitting is an art form that can make a difference in the show ring. Professional fitters are like glorified hair stylists for cows, and I can't believe how detailed they are when they get a steer or heifer ready for the show.The clipping, the spraying, the teasing of hair, and the blow drying: it takes hours and they don't leave a hair out of place! There are more sprays, paints, and glues for cows than there are for women.  I'm surprised show heifers don't have false eyelashes. Everything else is fake. I want those fitters to do a makeover on me! I'm confident they could make me look like a million bucks! They're miracle workers! We definitely have a lot to learn before our kids show their first steers for 4-H.

7. I'm in the process of looking for some new software to help us keep better records of  both our cattle and costs. I need something that can generate quarterly reports, too.  I've been reading up on several choices, but I would like some advice.  Does anyone out there use something that works well for them? Anyone still out there? Hello? Is this thing on?

Thanks to all two of you for reading this list all the way to the end!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Some Cheese with my Whine

The Weatherman lied.

He said, "30% Chance of Snow...NO SIGNIFICANT ACCUMULATION"

A Foot of snow and two days later, we are almost caught up with chores, no thanks to the weatherman. Snow is a pain in my hiney, and doubles the list of stuff we have to do around here, but I'm thankful for the moisture.

Yesterday we took down the Christmas decorations and hauled off the tree. When my husband took the tree out of the stand and out the door, there was a massive needle drop like we've never experienced before. It was like a plume of pollen, dust, and needles enveloping the house. Subsequently, I had an allergy attack of embarrassing proportions. Even with medicine, I was a snotty, sneezing, itchy-eyed mess until bed last night.

The menfolk went deer hunting today, and I've been scrubbing down every nook and cranny of the house. The place looks drab without all of our holiday cheer hanging from the walls. It motivates me to do deep cleaning.  In January I throw things away and reorganize. I'm merciless in my pursuit of de-cluttering. Nothing is safe from the chopping block. Nothing.

January is also the month that I always want to redecorate the entire interior of the house.  Thankfully, I have these urges in the month following Christmas when we don't have extra money sitting around. It's like a safe guard against impulse decorating. Otherwise, my bedroom would be a different color every single January, and I would buy new cowhide furniture, and turquoise dishes every year.

To make matters worse, I went and did something that makes me even more tempted to re-do the whole house...

come closer to the computer...

I don't want to say it too loudly. I don't want my friends and family to know...

I joined Pinterest.


Keep it on the down-low.

I told everyone I know that I'd never join that crack wagon of a website.  I resisted it for over 2 years. Then I HAD to get on to find a recipe and it all went downhill from there. The next thing I knew, I was signing up and pinning things to boards I didn't even know what to name. Now I have more ideas than I know what to do with. I'm overwhelmed with "pinspiration". If you are a pinner, leave me a comment and I'll try to find you.

The bigger issue here is that I don't want to re-decorate if we are moving.  Twice in the last two months we have nearly had the house sold, and twice the prospective buyers financing has fallen apart. It's difficult to make any plans when we're spinning our wheels here.  We have another property we're interested in buying, but can't make an offer until we're out of this little house.  The roller-coaster of selling a home in a bad economy often has us scratching our heads, biting our nails, and praying for guidance.

I'd sure like it to be over with, but I'm trying to be content in the mean time.

Emphasis on TRYING. I'm not very good at being patient or content right now.

Anyway, enough with my whining. I'm off to go clean something, or throw something away, or both.

Happy New Year!