Thursday, December 31, 2015

Farewell old year. Welcome New Year!

Thank you 2015!  You were good to us. 

I was paging through my journal to see what stuck out to me through the year.  Honestly, I lead a very low key, almost boring life, but I love it, and I feel so blessed. I'm so glad that the things I wrote down in my book were simple, everyday kinds of things like:  birthdays, two births, the first rhubarb pie, the veggie garden arrangement, the first lambs and calves born, the new haying equipment, deaths of old friends, fires and rains, misty fog, sewing projects, and afternoons spent with the grandkids.  All little parts of a year in a life.

I'm looking forward to the New Year, seeing what God has in store for me and for my family. Thank you for coming to visit me here at Gumbo Lily.  It's fun to read your kind comments and know that you think what's going on with me is interesting and worth stopping in for.  You're such nice people.

I wish you all the best in the New Year.  Be blessed.  Be joyful.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Snow feeding and snow-shoeing...

With the snowfall we've had, every day is feeding day.  The grass is buried and although the livestock will paw the snow to get to the grass, we still give them some hay and a little cake each day to keep them warm.  It's been so cold these past few days, the temperatures barely making it above 10*.  Thankfully there is no wind with the Big Chill so it feels better.  In fact, after feeding chores, I decided to strap on my snowshoes and make my first trek of the year.  I am SO glad I decided not to walk far away from home.  The snow was quite soft and so I sunk in a lot which makes for more of a march than a walk.  The thighs and hips *feel the burn* and this walker had to take many pauses before trekking on.  A good soak in an Epsom salts bath afterward did me a lot of good.

The views were spectacular!  The cows and sheep always look so magnificent (to me) against the snow.  The snow itself shimmered like a million diamonds in the sun for the deep cold kept the crystals in the snow reflecting beautifully.  My Christmas mittens worked well for feeding sheep by hand and kept my fingers toasty.  I even had to take my mitts off while I was snowshoeing because my body was making so much heat, and I'm generally never without something on my hands.

Do you see the football shaped bird in the snow?  Those are Sharptailed Grouse.   They are the chickens of the prairie.  They stay all year round and come in especially close during the cold, wintry months.  There's plenty of feed around the barnyard for them and Russian Olives to eat in the shelter belts.

Besides my tracks there are deer, jackrabbit, grouse and dog tracks.  I think the jacks have moved in from everywhere.  It seems we see more than ever now.  I sure hope they don't eat our young trees' bark.

Well, I'm going out for another walk on my snowshoes to see if the snow has firmed up any from  the slight wind and sub-zero temps of night.  At least I'll have some tracks I can walk in for a little firmer base.  Wishing you all good memories of this past year and good things to come in 2016!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Stump cake...

 sliced with layers!

For Christmas Day, I had in mind first to make a Yule Log like this.
But when I realized it would only serve eight, I thought I needed a bigger cake.
So I decided against the branch and went to the larger stump cake
or Stump de Noël inspired by this.

This cake was such fun to make!
(and a challenge, which I enjoyed.) 

I started with this 

which ended up being just like my mother's chocolate cake except that this one included hot, strong coffee and Mom's recipe only used hot water.  

I used the filling recipe from the Yule log cake (above)

and frosted the exterior with the icing from 

the Chocolate Crème Fraîche Cake

The meringue mushrooms were made from this recipe.

Hubs helped me so it was a fun joint effort.
The guests loved it,
and it tasted scrummy!
I learned a lot along the way.

I hope you had a Very Merry Christmas!
We did!

Monday, December 21, 2015


Waiting is hard, isn't it?  Waiting to be fed, waiting in line, waiting for answers, waiting to light each candle of Advent, waiting for Christmas.  I must admit, I have the hardest time with waiting to light the candles during Advent.  I feel like a child; I love candles and I love to light them -- all of them at once!  And with the Advent candles, we light just one at a time, adding one more for each Sunday that passes until they are all lit on Christmas Day.

During Advent, I like to sing and meditate on of one of my favorite carols, O Come, O Come EmmanuelThere is a deep yearning in this song that draws me into anticipation.  The words and the lighting of the candles remind me of Whom we are waiting, counting off the days, "Until the Son of God appear.  Rejoice! Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to you O Israel."

In these last days as we wait for Christmas to come, let us be patient with one another as God is patient with us, let us bear with the darkness until each candle is lit and darkness gives way to The Light.

His name shall be called, Emmanuel -- God is with us.
~Isaiah 7:14

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New gloves and a snowy walk...

 My new gloves!
We went to the feed store for hen scratch on Monday and to my delight, I they had just got their shipment of size medium wool ragg gloves!  I saw them last time I was in, but all they had was large and X-large so I asked if they might get any mediums.  "Yes, we've had such a demand for them that we ordered some."  This was my lucky day.  I picked up two pair.  In case you have trouble, like I do, keeping your hands warm in gloves, this is the brand to look for:  Alyeska by Kinco.  They are lined, warm, and I love the grippy nubs on the palms.  Plus they dry out fairly quickly.

 I'm in Warm Hand Heaven!

 I took my gloves out on a test drive.  I walked to the mailbox with some cards.

And back home again.  It was pretty windy and cold.
My hands were warm so....

 I went for a walk in the frosty, snowy woods.  
Looks a little like Narnia, doesn't it?

(oops, warm glove in the pic)

More snow fell overnight.
We've probably got 6 or 7 " and some deeper drifts.
There's blue sky this morning, but it's cold.
Just 15 degrees.
The coffee tastes good.

Sunshine is delicious, 
rain is refreshing, 
 wind braces us up, 
snow is exhilarating; 
there is really no such thing as bad weather, 
only different kinds of good weather.
~John Ruskin

Monday, December 14, 2015

Foggy night drive...


If you're like me, you've read the wintry poem by Robert Frost many times.  It's one of my favorites.  I think of it when I'm out here walking through my woods or driving down the lonely gravel road when it's snowing.  It's a peaceful, quiet feeling.

Tonight I drove home from town by myself.  The weather was caving in; the air was heavy, frost covered the trees and fences, and there was fog.  Heavy fog.  Instead of driving on the highway, I decided to go by the road less traveled -- just ten miles of highway and 35 miles of gravel road.  With a dense fog, I would rather go it alone on a desolate gravel road than follow lines of semi-trucks and cattle trailers, and pass by speeding oil field workers driving hard back to town.

So as I drove the highway stretch, I thought about all those years when this was the main route that we took before we had a paved road most of the way home.  Our old, brown suburban was filled with kids, who sometimes fell asleep, one by one, after a big day in town.  There were many foggy, snowy nights when I had to take notice of the landmarks, bridges, and my odometer to make sure I turned off at the right spot.  And then I had to do the same as I meandered along the gravel road home.  Tonight was like that.  There were few landmarks in the fog, but it's funny how easily the mind remembers the ebb and flow of the road, the twists and turns, and the fences that are there for a while and then a car gate comes up and the fence disappears into open range.

I took my time tonight.  I settled back into my seat and relaxed and tried to just enjoy the ride despite the fog that interfered with my sight of the whole road.  I put the lights on dim.  There was no sense using the brights when all it did was reflect more fog into view.  There are only eight ranches on the 35 mile stretch and so I always make a mental note when I pass each homestead just in case I have car trouble and must walk; or if I have cell service, I could tell someone where I am.  It also helps me to remember how the road lays in between places.  There are lots of curves in this road, but at least on the South Dakota side, there are a few road signs that tell a driver what's coming up.  It's  helpful, but I know the road and its ways by heart.

On this December night there were no windows rolled down, no sound of meadowlark trills, no green grass blowing in the wind, and no earthy sagebrush aroma to breath in.  Just fog, the road, and a few white jackrabbits darting across the road.  I remembered that there were a few black cows along the Sloan Lane and slowed down a little just in case they came into view.  I saw a couple cows off to the side, but thankfully none were on the road.   Upon crossing into Montana, the old road narrows into more of a trail, and the yellow road signs disappear.  It feels more and more desolate and yet familiar as I get closer to home.  I like that feeling.   A ways further down the road I remembered that our neighbor had taken in some sheep.  There are no fences where they roam so I slowed down again to watch for them.  More jacks dart across the road, popping out from tall clumps of frosty grass.  Another ranch is identified with each set of thu-wumps I feel as I cross another car gate.   I know exactly where I am.  Just a little closer to home, and now the fence comes back to the roadside.  Our fence.  I know the sharp turns of the road here.  I ride down into the curves.  If it was snowy I'd drive high on the curves to avoid plowing into deep snow, but not tonight.  The lights from our ranch and the homes below appear as tiny, blurred candles in the dark, foggy night.  Closer, and I can see the yard lights and Christmas lights that outline the wood shop and homes.  Soon I come up to the mailboxes and see the Star on the Barn and turn in.  There's nothing like driving down the road into our place.  I get out and the dog greets me with a joyful whine and much tail wagging.  There are chickens to tend to. There will be birthday cake tonight for a special Grandboy who is ONE year old!  It's good to be home.  There's no place like it!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

That Holy Thing


THEY all were looking for a king
To slay their foes and lift them high;
Thou cam'st, a little baby thing
That made a woman cry. 

O Son of Man, to right my lot
Naught but Thy presence can avail;
Yet on the road Thy wheels are not,
Nor on the sea Thy sail! 

My how or when Thou wilt not heed,
But come down Thine own secret stair,
That Thou mayst answer all my need--
Yes, every bygone prayer. 

~George MacDonald

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bear plays bass...

 Bear plays bass
Owl snares the drum
Three little bunnies each play some
Tambourine rattles
Accordion squeeze
Clarinet tweets joyfully!

A sweet li'l baby has arrived,
his parents sing for joy!
He's a December gift,
a bouncing baby boy!

(a patchwork pillow for a friend's baby boy)
pattern ideas here

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Let there be light...

The Star is hung on the old lambing barn;
it's shining brightly towards our lonely, gravel road 
where just a few folks will travel by and see its light.

The Cross is lit on the well house roof. 
It's so bright and stands so high.
I often wonder what the low flying USAF planes think
when they see it at night. 

Our ranch-house mantel has a lit cow head 
along with the nativity hurricanes and poinsettia.

Let there be light
in the darkness!

He is LIGHT of the world.
Matt 5:14

Friday, December 04, 2015

Dancing violinist and other weekend links...

Have you ever watched a dancing violinist?  It looks like quite a feat to me.  This little lady looks like a music fairy dancing and playing her violin with spunk and joy!  Her name?  Lindsey Stirling.
She played in the CMA Christmas Special.  Wonderful!

While I was shopping in my favorite health food store, Good Earth, I stumbled upon a brand new tea blend by Rishi.  It's called Chocolate Chai.  I couldn't resist buying a little bag of loose tea to try and I think it's really good!  I like a strong tea, so I prefer to make it like chai and allow the tea to simmer about 15-20 minutes and then add a little milk and honey.  The ingredients include:  black tea, coconut flakes,  cinnamon,  cocoa shells, sarsaparilla root, licorice root, cocoa nibs, roasted dandelion root, cloves, natural chocolate flavor.

I've also been making my own version of chai tea.  I mix Yorkshire Gold tea (my all-time fav) with cinnamon stick, fresh ginger root, a star anise, nutmeg, and a grind of black pepper.  Throw all spices in a tea bag like this, crush it with the side of a knife, and throw it, along with the tea bags, into a pot of boiling water.  Simmer with the tea bag(s) 15-20 minutes and add honey and milk at the end.  It satisfies a sweet tooth without too much sweet.

Next on my list of drinks to try is a Dirty Chai Latte.  It's a blend of chai tea, strong coffee, hot milk, a dash of cinnamon and a little sweetener.  Here's a homemade recipe.

Have you ever cut your own hair?  I have.  Lots.  The hairdressers say you shouldn't, but I do anyway.  A year so ago, I found this video by a young lady who cuts her own curly hair.   Since I'm a curly head too,  I took her advice and haven't been to the salon since.  I'm cutting my hair tonight!

Look at this!  A blue poinsettia?  I bought one at Stuff-Mart yesterday upon my husband's insistence.  He thought I should loosen up a little bit this holiday season.  Bah!   So I bought a red one for me and a blue one for him.  I put the red on the mantel and the blue on the dining table.  It's kinda pretty with its glitter and all.  They say it's a special dye that is sprayed on the white poinsettias and the glitter is added while the dye is still wet.  When the afternoon sun comes through my big window, I move the beauties to the floor to catch as much sun as possible.

I hope you're all making merry!  And feeling loose!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

JOY (a Christmas carol)

A beautiful masterpiece of JOY-ful Christmas carols.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Little Christmas things...


I've been playing with needle and thread and also using the hot glue gun for one project.  
Since we have two 2015 babies in the family, 
I took up my needle and thread and started on a couple
tree ornaments for them, marking their birth.
Then two Christmas stockings!
And lastly, I turned some old ornaments and light reflectors
 into a shiny wreath.
The tree is up and some twinkle lights are strung.
The candles are placed and ready to light at sundown.
I like lighting candles on these dark December nights.

Friday, November 27, 2015


After the Big Feast that is Thanksgiving, I took the older grands outdoors with me to fetch the eggs from the chicken coop and then we went owling.  If you've never read Owl Moon, you should.  Then you will know what owling is.  What it means is to trek out in the trees to find an owl.  It requires;  Being quiet, Walking without much noise,  Watching closely,  Listening.  It was nearly dark when we went out and it was COLD and there was a skiff of snow on the ground.  We noticed how very many, many jackrabbit tracks were all over the snow.  We were bundled up, but the littlest Grandie was very cold and needed to be carried, so after a short walk through The Woods with no owl sighting, we turned for home.

(pic from Owl Moon)
This afternoon I took my walk through The Woods and found three owls.  All Great Horned.  I took some progression-type photos with my phone.  Some from a distance --can you sight the owl amongst the trees?  Some pictures are closer and some are of the owls flying low and stealth.  As I walked home one of the owls flew near to the houses.  I found Miss Peach playing outdoors and took her to the tree where he had landed.  She was thrilled to see this owl so up-close and personal.  He didn't mind us one bit, but just sat there turning his head this way and that,  minding his own business while we admired his size, feather patterns, colors, and his long ear tufts.  More owling adventures to come!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's been a busy Day of Preparation here.
The buns and pies are baked,
The cranberries are dipped in chocolate,
Potatoes are mashed and waiting for their oven-bake,
Cheese ball is chilling,
and the Ham and Turkey and Dressing are waiting in the wings for the big day.
The rest of the fixin's are coming with the guests.
Wishing you a great Thanksgiving! 
We have so much to be thankful for....
like teeth to eat Thanksgiving Dinner, 
and being together!
God bless your day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Everyday nature...

Whitetail buck
Great Horned Owl

This time out I took the big camera with me and was able to capture a few more photos of the owl as well as a nice one of a whitetail buck.  Even though I see these animals and birds often while I'm walking, it still gives my heart a thrill to see them up-close or even far in the distance.  The sounds of the trees creaking in the wind, the scuffle of the jackrabbits out of their burrows, the brisk chill of a fall day, the silent flight of the owl, draw me close to the Creator of it all.

One of my granddaughters is very excited about all things nature.  When we are together she wants to look through the bird field guides with me and show me her nature drawings.  
She tells me, "Gram, there are so many, many things to learn about, aren't there?" 

Be still my heart,
someone who loves nature like I do!
(and she's my neighbor)


What is the good of your stars and trees,
 your sunrise and the wind, 
if they do not enter into our daily lives? 
 ~E.M. Forster

Friday, November 20, 2015


 In trees, in the grass, in my bird feeder.

Two little crab apples 
hanging in the forgotten tree in The Woods.

The Great Horned Owl.  
I see him when I have a phone camera and not my big camera
so my photo is not as crisp and clear as I'd like.
I'll keep trying!

A Jackrabbit 
(among many) lying still in the grass.
He thinks I don't see him.

I'm not sure I've ever seen one here on the ranch.
I went to add some sunflower seed to the feeder and there he was.
Looking at me,  not moving, just waiting
for seeds.
The book says they follow the seeds no matter the weather.
It snowed a little today and it was cold, but the Pine Siskin was here!
Check out this article on their migration to the lower 48.
The Red Polls are Coming, The Red Polls are Coming, and Siskins Too!

Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished.
~Francis Bacon

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Emmy's Wing-It Quilt...

 (lots of gray November days make my photos a wee bit dull)

Emmy's Wing-It Quilt is here!
(I feel like I just birthed something.)

Hubs bought me a new sewing machine,
the first new one in 30+ years since my Viking.
It's a Bernina.
It's wonderful. 
And I'm having fun learning and exploring all it can do.

Our newest grandbaby was born in September and as is my tradition, I wanted to make a quilt to celebrate her birth.  Her mommy asked if I could make this particular quilt pattern "Interwoven"
 in Moda's *Just Wing It* fabrics.
Finding the Just Wing It was a little tricky since it is now OOP, but there were a few Etsy sellers that still had charm packs and yardage left for me. 

I didn't bind this quilt in the traditional manner.
Instead I made a quilt with no binding according to this tutorial. 
I like the clean, modern look of it.

I did some free-motion machine quilting in loop-d-loops.  
I have done a very little free-motion quilting, and I am still a novice at it.
But I figure if I don't try, I won't get better.
Emmy won't mind my imperfection.


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