Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday dinner....chowder

It's another really cold day here in the country and so it seemed like the perfect day to prepare a chowder for our Sunday Dinner.  I already had chicken broth in the frig reserved from a baked chicken.  I used the bones left over and made broth with them.  I had a little bacon that would not make a breakfast meal, so that was used up.  Isn't it interesting that so often a soup is made from the remains of another meal, and yet it is one of the most comforting foods of the home?  Homemade is surely the best and is really no trick to prepare.  The ingredients here can be changed up according to your tastes or according to what you find in your refrigerator.  I think some white beans would have been a nice addition.

This creamy corn chowder can be made in about a half hour, but could also be slow-cooked in a crock pot.

Creamy Corn Chowder

6 slices bacon, chopped or snipped with scissors
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped (or any other color)
4-5 large potatoes, chopped into small chunks
1 lb. whole kernel corn (off the cob or frozen)
1/2 c. celery, chopped (or 1/2 t. celery seed)
1 T chopped garlic
1 medium zucchini, chopped (opt)
1 bay leaf
1 t. smoked paprika (or plain)
1 t. thyme (fresh or 1/2 t. ground)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 qt. chicken broth
1/4 c. flour
1 c. milk
1/2 c. cream (or half and half)
chopped parsley, fresh or dried
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
croutons to pass

In a soup pot, fry the bacon until crispy.  Remove from pan and set aside to drain on paper towel.  In the drippings, saute the onion, pepper, potatoes, celery, zucchini.  When onions are tender, add in the garlic, paprika, red peppers, thyme and bay leaf.  Saute another minute or two.  Add corn.  Sprinkle flour into the pot and stir for about a minute.  Add chicken broth and bring up to the boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer about 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Lastly, add milk and cream and heat through. Add bacon back to the chowder at the end of cooking. Taste and season with S&P.  
Pass croutons at the table.
Serves 4-5 generously.

*If you were to make this in the crock pot, add everything to the pot except the cooked bacon, milk and cream.  Cook on low several hours or until potatoes are tender.  Add milk and cream an hour before serving, turn crock pot to high and heat through.  Add cooked bacon and serve.

“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living.  For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.”
Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book (1949)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Morning and Evening....

The sky was gorgeous this morning as I looked up after feeding the cows.
Tonight's the Full Wolf Moon and astronomers say that the moon will be closer to the earth than any other day of 2010.  Indians named the January full moon "Wolf Moon" due to the harsh winter days of January when  hungry wolves howled outside their villages.  

It was a perfect night for a night walk.  It was calm, clear, quiet and bright.  It was as if God had the perfect night light just for me.  Whenever I see the moon it reminds me of this song.


 It's homemade
It's sweet
It's made entirely of felt
I call it my Cuppycake
You can find the nice 
cupcake tutorial

 It's my Second Mom's 60th Birthday
This is for her.
I think the cuppycake would make a nice
Valentine too.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

paper, scissors, glue

Tis the season to change calendars and buy new ones.  I still need to buy a new one or two.  I always hang the great big calendar that we get from Alerdman Oil because it has huge dates and generous squares to write in.  The pictures are always pretty too.  I love a large calendar to write in.  It's practically a journal of the year by the time we are done with it.

While visiting at Angry Chicken a few days ago, I found a nifty project to recycle those pretty calendars we all must eventually throw away.  I decided that I, too, would recycle my old calendars into greeting cards.  I hardly ever have my own clever ideas, but find brilliant ideas all over the place.  I hardly have to do any thinking this way!  Besides, they say that copying is the best form of complimenting long as you aren't stealing their copyright.  That reminds me of something Amy did with her cards.  She gave credit to the artist whose art was recycled onto her newly made cards.  I did that too even though Monet will never know I used is calendar art.  Here is Amy Karol's DIY project.  I followed her lead and did mine much the same way -- glue pictures onto the card stock and then trim.  I used a new-to-me glue by Martha Stewart called Create Gel Adhesive that I found in the scrapbook aisle at W-mart.  It's nice stuff.  I felt almost as if I was back in kindergarten today.....playing with paper and scissors and glue.  The best part.....I have some sweet greeting cards to restock my supply.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter windows and mini lemon cheesecakes...

Last night looking out the kitchen window.
The snow looks so pretty resting in the corners of the panes.

This morning
It's still snowing and blowing
It doesn't seem so pretty anymore.
Trying a new recipe for dessert tonight.
Mini-Lemon Cheesecakes
Since I didn't have the chocolate cookies for the crust,
I made the Chocolate Snap Cookies
as MJ suggested.
The recipe is "gluten free" in the original recipe but I'm using flour.

The little choco cookies are terrific!
And easy!
I'm just pressing the whole cookie into the bottom of a lined muffin tin and pouring the lemon cheesecake filling inside.  The recipe calls for frosting, but instead, I'll just shave a little lemon zest on top of each on.

I set one of the chocolate cookies beside the mini-cheesecake just because I thought they had such pretty crackle tops and they go unseen at the bottom of the cake.
I can't wait for dessert!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday goings-on...

Today we're under a blizzard warning  and so everybody's been indoors doing things.  The guys have mostly been on the couch watching football and I have been puttering around in the kitchen.  I had wanted to try to make some rosemary maple-glazed nuts and so I gave that a whirl.  They would have been so good, but the last step of baking them in the oven turned out to be much too long and the nuts have a burnt taste to them, even tho they are still pretty good eating.  Note to self:  the next batch gets only 10 minutes in the oven.  I thought about doing something with the half sack of peanuts and decided to make peanut brittle.  (I love peanut brittle)  I used a microwave recipe for it and made it according to the directions.  The time before when I made it, I cooked the sugars first and added the peanuts later in the cooking process so guess what?  It burned.  Bah!  Note to self:  Cook sugars first, then add peanuts.

Tom asked me to make some divinity.  I usually don't make that.  The boys always have in the past and they're good at making it.  I gave it a try. It was just OK.  Nothing fabulous, but Hubs and J. are eating it up.  I'm not a huge fan of divinity anyway.

On a good note.....J (youngest child) and I are starting Cooking School, that's what I'm calling my cooking lessons for a young man who needs a few basic cooking skills under his belt.  I think it's important that every man learns to cook a few good things to feed himself.  Our first lesson was last night and we threw together a dandy roast beef hash.  We chopped up left-over roast beef and the potatoes, added in some peppers, onions, garlic, and mushrooms and sauteed it in the cast iron skillet in some olive oil.  Deee-lish-ious!  Today we made Mandarin Chicken -- J's request for lunch -- and served it over hot rice.  YUM!  Definitely a do-again.  We did alter this recipe too.  Both of us decided it needed a whole sliced onion and a tiny bit of lemon zest,  and we decreased the sugar to 1/4 cup.  We also added in a tablespoon of Hoisen Sauce and at the end, threw in a handful of cashews.  

Another recipe I tried today is one for homemade deodorant.  I know.....weird.  But I'm one of those people who always stinks and I thought that maybe trying something different would help.  The authors of the recipes I found all swore that the homemade stuff worked very well, so I stirred up a batch this afternoon.  I tweaked two recipes, this one and this one, so that I could use the ingredients I had on hand.  Now to test it out over a few weeks and see what it does!

Here's my original recipe based on their recipes.
Busy Bee Deodorant
1 t. beeswax beads
3 T. virgin coconut oil
3 T. corn starch (or arrow root powder)
3 T. baking soda
2 capsules of vitamin E oil
essential oil for fragrance (opt)
In a pyrex measuring cup or bowl, melt beeswax for about 1 minute in the microwave.  Add coconut oil and melt.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients with a fork or small whisk until smooth.  Pour into half-cup mason jar. 
To use, take a little in the fingertips and rub into arm pits.
This recipe fills a half cup jelly jar perfectly, but I've read that it can spoil so I only put half of it in my jar and put half in the frig.  I added the beeswax to firm up the mixture and keep it in place.  If Burt's Bees can make a deodorant out of these ingredients, so can I.
The wind is still blowing and the snow is blocking the view.  It's getting dark now and all I can see is the yard light.  I'm looking forward to nicer days soon.

What are you doing this Sunday?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Maryjanes Farm...

I just have to share a special magazine that I've fallen in love with.  It's Maryjanes Farm.  (It drives me nuts that there is no apostrophe in the name, but it's her magazine, after all.)  I bought my first issue of Maryjanes Farm a few years ago from our little hometown grocery store and I have looked for it ever since.  My daughter-in-love, bless her heart, gave me a subscription last summer for my birthday and I've enjoyed every single issue.  It is one magazine that I read from cover to cover.  Even the ads are interesting to peruse.

What kind of magazine is this?  Well, I'd say it's a magazine for any woman who loves country life, wishes she could live in the country, or who has the spirit of the country living within.  Between the pages you'll find articles on organic foods, gardening,  recipes, quilting, stitching or crafting, DIY projects, and lots of stories about women who either live in the country or who are bringing a little country to their urban spaces. The entire magazine has a clear organic theme, in fact it states on the front cover, "The Everyday Organic Lifestyle."  I'm fine with that, even though I don't consider myself an "organic" type, but more of the practical type.  Don't get me wrong, there is a heap of practical stuff in here amidst the organics.  I'd say that the two often go hand-in-hand.  You'll sit up and notice that the photography all through this periodical is gorgeous, inviting,  and homey.  You'll feel as if you just pulled up a rocker on the front porch for a long sit or walked through the door to be greeted with a slice of apple pie and a cup of coffee.   I love the fact that Maryjanes Farm is printed on non-glare paper which makes reading and picture gazing much more fun.

Here are a few of the articles that particularly caught my eye in the February/March issue:

Fast Foods That Aren't Junk
Hatching a Hobby (chickens)
Naturescaping:  Lawn-Free Yards
I Think my Treadle's Sexy (treadle sewing machines)
Grab that Carpenter's Apron -- Yes You (build a flower box)
Stencil Revival

After reading, I Think My Treadle's Sexy, I made up my mind that I'm going to go out to the old bunk house and drag my old Singer treadle machine out and see if there is any way to fix her up.  There were lots of tips in the article and even a diagram of all the parts in a treadle sewing machine.  MJ even listed a repair man, who repairs and trades treadle machines.  Here is a website that includes instructions on basic treadle maintenance for the do-it-yourselfer.  See what inspiration comes from a good magazine?

Even if you never do one thing from MJ's, you'll simply enjoy reading it and paging through the pictures.  It's like taking a mini-vacation without leaving home.  By the way, I do share this lovely magazine with my girls.  It's too wonderful not to share. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

a rose is a rose?

A Love Gift
from my Man

Have you seen anything like it?
Me neither.
But I love it.
I call it the Hippie Rose
It cheered me on a dismal day

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter riding, cows, and boot cleaning...

       Gathering up the 2 year old heifers.  

These heifers will be having their first calves in March.  Yesterday we had a lovely, warm day to gather them up and bring them through the barn to vaccinate them.  They were vaccinate with Guardian which is a vaccine to prevent scours ( E.coli diarrhea) and a few other viruses in their pre-born calves.  The heifers will get a booster in two weeks.  I think it's amazing that this vaccine enters the mother's immune system and will help to protect their baby calves against common viral and bacterial killers.

       Taking the cows back out to their pasture.  

Often heifers are a bit flighty and apt to break away from the herd when they see horses riding out to them, but the girls did a good job of remaining fairly calm amidst the three of us riding into their space.  There was no rodeo nor any run-aways!  What a relief because despite the bare ground showing, there is still quite a bit of snow and patches of ice here and there which makes for precarious riding conditions.  The thought of our horses slipping out from under us is always a concern when riding this time of year.


 After the vaccinating was done, the heifers had to go back to pasture.  I rode up ahead since it was my job to guard an open gate and the car gate so the heifers wouldn't go through either of them.  While the guys brought the heifers up my way, I took some time to love on my pony, Pete.  I petted and patted and talked sweet to him and he loved me back by sniffing my boots.   I don't know why, but he likes to do that.  So "click" here's a picture of Pete sniffing my boots!  It reminded me of a quote from my devotional time in My Utmost for His Highest.

"Sometimes we are fresh for a prayer meeting but not fresh for cleaning boots."
~Oswald Chambers
    My Utmost for His Highest, January 20 entry

This morning I spent some time cleaning boots -- banging the dirt out of shoes, work boots and riding boots alike.  When I realize that even boot cleaning is important to God, it's easier to be fresh for the work.  If Jesus thought it was important to wash the disciples' feet, I can clean the boots.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gramma Day...

It's Gramma Day!
It's the day of the week when Grandpa and I keep our lil Grandangel all day.
Since she lives just next door, we get to see her nearly every day, but one day a week, we devote just to our grandgirl.  We all love it.  I think she does too.
Here, Grandpa is helping H. feed the sheep alfalfa cake.

Today there are...
books to read
songs to sing
dances to dance
blocks to stack
ponies to play with
walks to take
balls to throw
hugs to give
kisses to kiss

A few first words....
Appa (apple)
Wuff Wuff (dog)
Dweeee! (excitement!)
But (button)
Pigs (toes)
Oh no!
Bawck Bawck (chicken)
Moo (cow)
Sh-it (sit, a command given to the dog)

A song she sings (with me)...
"Ah-shee Wash-ee Woo"
When we wash hands, I sing these words to the hymn
I Shall Not be Moved
sung by Ricky Van Shelton
Because our kids , when they were toddlers, used to
sing it this way...
"Ah-shee Wash-ee Woo"
(I shall not be moved)
Get it?
Now H. sings it....
Ah-eee ah-eee ooooo
(I love it!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Almond Croissants...

They're going to be calling me to come bake for them in London, I just know it! 

Ever since visiting England with Only Daughter back in 2005, I have had a longing for a delicious almond danish like those we had in the local bakeries.  While visiting Arizona, my friend Kathie, who still doesn't have her foodie blog going yet (ahem!) recommended an almond paste to me which I gladly snapped up.  Almond paste isn't one of those items that rancher grocery stores carry.

Saturday was Baking Day at my house and I just had two things in mind -- bread (for toast) and bread sticks to go with our chili, but since I made a 4 loaf batch of dough, I got to thinking about those almond danishes and I figured that even though this wasn't croissant dough, just adding that almond filling and some almond slivers to croissant shaped rolls would do the trick.  So I went online and found this Almond Filled Croissant recipe and whipped up a batch of filling.  This recipe is actually used for day-old croissants which you slice open and fill and then bake again.  The French call these croissant re-do's Croissants aux Amandes.   Here is a nice little article about  them that I found first when I was searching for the perfect almond filling.  Don't the Croissants aux Amandes look scrumptch?   I will definitely try them when I have some day-old croissants laying around or if I find a good deal at the bakery.

Just making this almond filling was a joy in itself.  I could have eaten a whole bowl of it by the fingerful, but I resisted.  I did however lick the counter top clean after I was done.  Well, not really, but I did scrape it and lick it off the scraper.  Heaven!

After spreading the filling onto my little dough triangles, I rolled them up and  brushed the tops with an egg wash, then sprinkled with slivered almonds and crystal sugar.  I've had colored crystal sugar before, but I bought clear crystal sugar in Phoenix.  I swear, they just have EVERYTHING in that town!
All I can say about these delicacies is:  Why eat regular bread when you could be eating an almond croissant?  Next time I'll make these with Kathie's croissant recipe (yes, the same Kathie with no foodie blog).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A pretty paper sack repurpose...

I am on Cloud Nine since visiting Trader Joe's in AZ.  I know to most of you, TJ's is part of your everyday shopping experience, but we do not have it out in The Boondocks or even in the cities nearby, so when I get a chance to go to Trader Joe's, I feel blessed.  Yes. Blessed.  Why, even the paper sacks that are packed with my treats speak to me.  I just love the graphics that some smart, creative, young mind designed to delight TJ's customers.  So of course, I saved my paper sacks with thoughts of repurposing them somehow.  I needed to write a letter and a thank-you note to our fine hosts, so I fashioned an envelope for my letter and a made a tri-fold-a-note for my thank-you.  I just used clear tape to close them, but if I had had some cute foodie stickers, I would've used those instead.   Amy from Angry Chicken has a very simple envelope tutorial. I just love to listen to her voice as she talks me through a project.

I have half a notion to cut up my other paper sack and frame it for kitchen art!

Treats from Trader Joe's:
Himalayan Pink Salt in Grinder (gifts)
House Spice in Grinder
Mini Ravioli (dried)
Whole Almonds
Sliced Almonds
Sesame-Honey Cashews
Salted Cashews
Dried Mangoes
Marinated Mozzarella
Frying Cheese

I could have chosen so many more things, but alas, I had to think of how to carry it all in the golf bags without being over weight.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A taste of Arizona sunshine...

Candy Barrel Cactus

Nasty stuff that nearly jumps onto you.

Roadrunner, a first sighting for me.

Here he is again with crest raised and tail up.

Cardinal (female), another first-ever sighting.

Fairy Duster

Superstition Mountain Golf Course
The guys played. I walked.
A treat to the eyes and a pleasure to walk.

Youngest Child, J., enjoyed the golf immensely.

Whitethorn Acacia
The blossoms look like pom-poms on a Dr. Seuss tree.

Theater:  Beau Jest
Dinner at Euro Cafe
Sitting in the sun by the pool.
Wine and cheese on the patio in the evenings.
Golf, golf, golf.
Gold Canyon
Mountain lion on the golf course
Lynx on the golf course
Beautiful views
Tamale cakes and grilled pork tenderloin
Stacked Pear Salad
Good coffee
Good wine
Hand and Foot
Lost on Pima Indian Reservation
ABC Baking

 Trader Joe's
The Deli
Good friends
Gracious hosts
Need I say more?
A good time was had by all.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Girly gift...

I'm leavin' on a jet plane.....
just for a few days to sunny Arizona.  I needed a nifty hostess gift for my friend so I fashioned a girly gift just for her.  I made matching padded hangers, two zippered pouches for cosmetics or jewelry or whatnots.....

....and I stitched up this handy-dandy drawstring laundry bag to put everything in.  Each item was very easy to make and all were made from online freebie patterns.  I used a little less than one yard each of the outer fabric and the lining fabric.  Here is the pattern for the lined drawstring bag, and here is the hanger pattern and here you'll find the lined zipper pouch.

I really have much better instructions for the hanger pattern than given above so I'll share how I made them.   First off, I buy pre-padded hangers at Walmart (a 3 pack of satin hangers).  I figure, why reinvent the wheel or the padded hanger?  This way I don't have to wrap hangers with batting which seems like way too much work to me.  The next step is to measure my fabric.  Cut rectangles (2 for each hanger) 4 1/2" x 9".  These will become the sleeves that will cover the hangers.  With right sides together, fold the fabric the long way and sew a rounded end on one short side and then come straight down the long side using 1/4" seam allowance.  It's a good idea to back stitch each sleeve.  Leave the other short end open.  Turn it right-side-out with a chop stick.  Repeat with the second rectangle.  Now I add a little polyester batting, about the size of two cotton balls, to the ends of each sleeve to make them extra soft.  Push it down to the end with the chop stick.  Slide the padded hanger into each sleeve so the seam is on the bottom side of the hanger.  Hand stitch the two sleeves together at the middle.  Cover the stitching with a nice hunk of ribbon and tie a pretty bow.  I like grosgrain ribbon for this, but you can use scrap fabric in matching or contrasting colors.  Bows with raw fabric edges look chic too.  You could tie a sachet to each hanger if you desired.

My zippered pouches are made just like the pattern above.  I added a little thin cotton batting along with my outer fabric as I sewed it together.  It gave the pouches a bit more structure.

I love the lined drawstring bag pattern given.  Since I was making a laundry bag, mine was larger than the dimensions in the pattern, but that's easy to do once you've made one drawstring bag.  Be sure you read the instructions given on how to thread the drawstrings.  I decided to make a drawstring bag (unlined) out of a red plaid dish towel that will be a gift bag for some coffee beans and homemade vanilla. 

Adios until later!

Friday, January 08, 2010


 Breakfast of champions!  After a hearty breakfast  of hot waffles topped with sour cream and homemade chokecherry syrup I was ready to start my day.  It was such a treat to break the seal on a mason jar filled with a little summer sweetness!  We had another cold day again, but the temperatures climbed to 10 degrees by noon-- warm enough for a walk on my snowshoes.

The grandangel came visiting today.  We have a weekly date.  She comes to our house and plays all day long and all the focus is on her!  After a wild rumpus of floor ping-pong and chase, she went down for her nappy and Grammy went out for a walk while Grampy stayed in and listened in case she needed something.

The following pictures will be mostly snowy pictures of my walk.  You really had to "be there" to get the drift (get it?) of the depth and breadth of snow, but at least you will have an idea of what it's like to walk on "frozen water."  (all photos may be enlarged if you click them)

Here are My Woods, a shelter belt of trees that protects livestock on the plains.  It always drifts full of snow and makes the snowshoeing fun.  The drifts are hard in most places, makes easy walking, but walking up and down the drifts is something like walking on waves (I think).  Thankfully I have good snowshoes that have metal teeth on the bottoms.  They can really grip the snow.  There were places where the snow was softer and the dogs and I had a difficult time walking through it.

Here is one of those waves I was talking about.  They are all over in the Woods where I walk.

Snow ball?  It's the top of a fence post.  Looks like something from Whoville.

These are sharptail grouse tracks.  See how they sink in on the left hand side and when they step on harder snow, they stay on top?  Below are circles of grouse tracks.  When I saw them, they made me think of the game "Fox & Geese," a chasing game that we used to play in the snow when I was a girl.

See the bigger dents in the snow?  That's where the snow is soft and the poor grouse fell in a little.  They were all sitting out here when the dogs and I came upon them and spooked them up and away.

These are the three wild turkeys we have living in another shelter belt, not where I was walking today.   J. and I  were out driving and spied them so I snapped a picture of them walking away from us in single file.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

All the rough places are smooth....


Yesterday we had a blizzard with snow, sustained winds of 30 mph, and COLD!  With so much blowing snow on top of the snow we already had, all the rough places have become smooth and all of the dips and gullies are sifted over and leveled with snow.  It reminds me of the Bible verse from Isiah 40:4:  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

Last night we hit -15* and the high for today was just -5*.  The sun was shining in all it's glory, the sky was cloudless, blue and clear but the temperature, along with the light wind of just 5 or 10 mph, made the wind chill a frigid -16 to -22*.  I just couldn't take my daily walk today.  All I could muster was a swift jaunt to the chicken coop to gather the eggs and then quickly home so they wouldn't freeze and crack.  After a bit of warming inside and fogging of glasses, I stepped back out the door to take the barn cats a bit of hot milk.  I had thoughts about a walk in My Woods with snowshoes on, but again, the wee bit of my face that peeped out from behind my hat and muffler just screamed with cold and sent me back inside.  It would be silly, after all, to get frostbite just for a few minutes of snowshoeing.  There will be nicer days, the weatherman promises.  For tonight, temps will hover around -15*.  Tomorrow will be a new day and perhaps we can get the mercury up above zero!  By week's end they say we'll be warming into the 40's which will feel balmy for January.  I'll be able to snowshoe in my sweatshirt by then!

There are just a few tracks in the snow now.  These are jackrabbit tracks.  Do you see the pattern?  Two front feet together followed by the back two feet in single file.  The dogs are in their glory chasing jack rabbits.

I'm into another wintry book, Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter.  I have realized now that the winter she describes in this book was called The Snow Winter by pioneers back in the winter of 1880-1881.  It began in October and continued  to snow and blizzard on and off through March.  Now that IS a long winter!  It's been years since I've read this book to my kids.  We enjoyed all of the Little House books together as read-alouds.  I appreciate the large print now more than ever!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

2010 Handbook...

1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants..
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more games
7. Read more books than you did in 2009 .
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don't over do. Keep your limits.
14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..
18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with His/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree...

25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. GOD heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change..
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come..
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy. 

I wish I could give credit to the author of this, but I received it on an email.  Perhaps you'll get one in your inbox too.  I thought this was too good not to post.  I think it deserves a place of honor on the fridge door!
Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Children's Blizzard...

Over our homeschool Christmas break, I delved into a chilling book -- The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin. The true story is about a freak blizzard and deep cold that hit Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa territories on January 12, 1888. The reason it is called The Children's Blizzard is because the majority of those who died in the blizzard were children who were on their way home from school.  Those pioneers who had lived on the prairie for a number years definitely knew the ways of the prairie winters, but few were ready for the suddenness of this particular blizzard.  The weather prediction and alert system was quite primitive and was done via military outposts  by the Signal Corps. It might have been more efficient if they hadn't had the government red tape of putting their "indications" through the proper channels before sending out warnings to the citizenry. Meteorological readings were made at various stations and then were reported by telegraph to Washington, DC and OK'd before warnings could be issued -- often a day late and a dollar short, so to speak.  As in this case, it left a lot of folks "out in the cold" literally.

The book was excellent at describing the mostly German and Norwegian immigrant families that came to Dakota and the surrounding territories to settle the free homestead lands. The reader feels just what it was like to live in a sod shanty in winter and eat scorched flour soup day after day and feel the deep cold creep in through any small crack in the wall. You get a sense of the unfathomable hardship families sustained when yet another child dies at birth or of hunger or when there is not enough food or fuel to keep the family fed and warm through yet another cold prairie winter.

Since I live on the prairie and know what it is like to be out in the elements in severe winter conditions, I know that you dare not tempt the weather.  Minutes in sub zero weather can freeze the skin.   I realize how blessed I am to be a prairie woman of today, to have even the simplest things like heavy, well-made coats and boots, hats and gloves. Even the homespun wool that was worn back in the late 1800s was a poor covering in comparison with the materials we have today (thinsulate, gortex, tight weave woolens).  Just to have a wood floor off the bare ground was a great comfort to a homemaker back then. 

I was a bit frustrated with the author's opinion at the end of the book: As whites flee to the cities and coasts, Native Americans and the bison that sustained them for thousands of years are returning. Indian and buffalo populations have now reached levels that the region has not seen since the 1870's. The white farmers and townspeople who remain would shun you for daring to say it, but in large stretches of prairie it's beginning to look like European agricultural settlement is a completed chapter of history. 'It's time for us to acknowledge one of America's greatest mistakes,' wrote Nicholas D. Kristof on the op-ed page of the New York Times, 'a 140-year-old scheme that has failed at a cost of trillions of dollars, countless lives and immeasurable heartbreak: the settlement of the Great Plains.' 

It is true that there are fewer and fewer folks making their living off the prairie now. Part of it is due to the fact that it is hard work to make a living off land that is unpredictable (drought, blizzard, hail, grasshoppers) but it is also due to the fact that there are easier ways to make money than living off the land. Farmers and ranchers today are also much more efficient at producing crops and livestock than ever before and it takes less man power than it did back in 1888 due to technology and science. Laskin's view that there are more buffalo now on the plains is true, but most small herds are here because some ranchers think there might be a market for them and they raise them as they would cattle. Also, some state parks run buffalo for tourism and for profit. I don't see many Native Americans out here on prairie ranches though -- at least where I live.  There are some, but I do not know of the statistics that would show a trend.  I'm not sure where Laskin gets his information since his sources don't list anything except the Kristof article quoted above.

I really like these types of books -- pioneers, homesteaders, people who lived through great hardship and against great odds. Reading this book makes me want to revisit the Bess Streeter Aldrich books once again. She and her forefathers and foremothers actually lived on the Great Plains of Nebraska, unlike Mr. Laskin who hails from Oregon. (nothing against Oregonians)  I appreciate Bess Streeter Aldrich's views of prairie living from a woman's perspective, much like Elinore Pruitt-Stewart's book Letters of a Woman Homesteader who lived and homesteaded in Wyoming.   We women have a different set of worries and concerns than our men.

All in all, I recommend The Children's Blizzard.  I felt a real connection to the people of the plains.  I was just a bit peeved by the "Aftermath" chapter when the author decided to get his opinion in instead of just giving his readers the facts, but it is his book, after all.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Take Joy! Scatter Joy!

 sign above my dining room window

And now in the New Year, I exclaim with Ralph Waldo Emerson....
"Scatter joy!"

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.  ~Jesus  from John 15:11 

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy 2010 !

It's a Brand New Year!
Let the wild RUMPUS begin!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...