Monday, May 26, 2008

Pressing table linens....

Today I spent the afternoon doing some pressing. This is definitely not the favorite job in my repertiore of homemaking, but the table linens are needed for service so they had to be washed and pressed. I thought that line-drying them might help a little bit with the wrinkles, but I'm not so sure it did. I needed a little stronger breeze to snap them around. Oh well, they smell wonderful.

This table cloth is fairly old. When we bought our Duncan Phyfe table in a thrift/antique store when we were married 26 years ago, these were thrown in with the purchase. They have served us well, but have been out of commision for a season.

As I ironed, I thought about the woman who owned these linens before me. Did she bring them out for special occasions like holidays and weddings? Did she dread pressing them or was it her delight to have everything just perfect for the event? Did she ever set a wedding table with them? They sure are difficult to press and to keep wrinkle free, I'll say that. But as I pressed, I did think about the table it would grace -- the head table where my daughter, the Bride and her Groom would be seated for the first time as Man and Wife. Special.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wedding footwear....

Here are the sparkly silver sandals that I'll be sporting for my daughter's wedding next weekend. They are SO cute on! They have a fairly low, wide heel so I won't feel too tipsy and the width in the foot is perfect. Where did I find these beauties? Zappos! I love doing business with them -- free overnight shipping to me and free returns back -- what's not to love about that? I tried on a couple other Annie brand sandals and really liked the look and feel, but decided on these. I would definitely buy this brand again.

As for me, I need comfort. As a younger woman, I used to put anything on my feet and didn't have to worry, but as the mature woman I am today, I find that comfort is a must. Along with my silver sandals, I am adding this bit of comfort to the ball-of-the-foot area. The Airplus gel insert is clear (so it doesn't look tacky) sticks to the shoe, gives a little extra padding to my foot and does not allow slippage. Plus, I can take the gel pads in and out and adjust them easily. I found these at my local Wal Mart so they're easy to come by. (This post was not supposed to sound like a commercial, but it does, doesn't it? Still, for those of you who are attending weddings this spring and summer, I'm thinking of your comfort as well as my own and I just wanted to share a "good thing.") This week I am breaking in my sandals while doing dishes and baking cupcakes. I'm feeling so "June Cleaver."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's a bread-baking day....

It's been gray, drizzly, windy and cool so I dubbed today
Bread-Baking Day. (It might also have something to do with the fact that there's no more bread in the freezer.) Today I cached 4 plain half-wheat loaves, 2 sugar breads, and one French loaf.

I just couldn't wait until morning, I had to sample the Sugar Bread.
A Dutch friend told me this is one of her husband's favorite foods. When in Holland he'd say, "Lekker Beppe, suiker bole!" (Yummy Grandma, sugar bread!) I have this little phrase jotted right on my recipe.

Sugar Bread

4 2/3 c. flour
2 c. warm water
2 T. yeast
1 t. granulated sugar
1 1/2 T butter
1 t. salt
1/3 c. sugar pearls (or crushed sugar cubes)


1/2 c. sugar pearls (or crushed sugar cubes)
1/2 c. vanilla sugar or granulated sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
1 pinch each: cloves, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg
1/2 pinch white pepper
egg white, whisked (for brushing loaves)

In a large bowl, combine the water and yeast and the teaspoon of sugar. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes. If it's frothy, it means the yeast is working. Add butter, salt, and flour and mix until well combined. Add sugar pearls lastly. Now turn dough onto a floured cupboard and knead about 5 minutes, adding more flour, a bit at a time, to keep it from sticking to counters and hands. Knead with a light hand; it should be a soft dough that almost sticks but doesn't. When it is springy and stays in a ball, roll in a buttered bowl, cover with a cloth and let is raise about an hour or until double in size. Combine filling ingredients, reserving 2 T. of the sugar pearls for later. Punch down dough, let rest 5 minutes and then split dough into two equal parts. On floured cupboard, roll one ball into a long rectangle. Sprinkle half of filling over it evenly. Roll up from the short end. Pinch the bottom seam and turn and pinch two sides under so the filling does not come out. Place seam side down in a greased bread pan. Repeat for other half of dough. Allow bread to raise until double in size, about 1 hour. Brush some of the whisked egg white onto the tops of the loaves and sprinkle with reserved sugar pearls. Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Tip loaves out onto a wire rack to cool.
~2 loaves

You may adjust the spices to your liking. I do not add the cardamom.
Delicious warm with butter or sliced and toasted in the morning with coffee.
Freezes well.

Backyard visitors....

Blue and rosy, the Lazuli Bunting came to my feeder for a visit. I always think I'm seeing a mountain bluebird, but one look at the short, thick beak and I know it's the Lazuli.

Look at this charming fellow with his streaked wings and rosy breast.
This is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. He has a (schnos) beak only a mother could love.
Who's in your backyard?

Monday, May 19, 2008

The prairie from my saddle....

(click on pics to enlarge)

It was a howling windy day today as we moved cow calf pairs from one pasture to another. Still, it was wonderful being out there, seeing all the new life springing up everywhere.

A newborn kid antelope.

I was off my horse, kneeling down to get a closer look at the locoweed when a calf cut back and ran my way. I should've been paying a little more attention. J. came along and turned her back into the herd.

P.S. Southeast Electric Coop just called to say that our power is back ON! That's 19 days of generating our own power today.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bee Balm...

This afternoon I decided to make the "non-petroleum jelly" recipe from Better Basics for the Home. I have made this before and decided to make a 4x batch, so I knew I had to find another tin or two to fill. I hunted down a night cream container that was kinda cute, and since I had only used a little of it (WAY to smelly for me) I started to scrape it out and wash it for the Bee Balm (that's what I've named the non-petroleum jelly because it's made with beeswax and smells a little honey-ish). As I was scraping the cream out and trying to rinse the little jar, I noticed that the cream would not break down. It didn't melt under hot water nor under Lemon Ajax dishwashing soap. It just sat there and refused to melt or go away. I tried and tried to wash out the sink, but the best I could do was to take paper towels to it and wipe it out and then wash with boiling hot water from the kettle. Even the boiling water didn't melt it. WHAT IS THIS STUFF MADE OF? And all the while I'm sneezing (oh the smell!). Then I got to thinking, "Why did I ever put this gunk on my face?"

In the end, I filled a 1 c. wide-mouth canning jar, an empty shea butter container I had, a cute tin that I received from a friend from England, a carmex lip balm tin, and this silly Dove Night Cream jar. Next time.....I'm looking for some pretty tins to fill and to heck with trying to save a night cream jar.  Ahh Choooo! (I still smell that stuff on my hands)

Here's the recipe:

Non-Petroleum Jelly
(aka: Bee Balm)
2 oz. olive oil(more oil makes it less thick)
1/2 oz. beeswax
12 drops grapefruit seed extract
Combine oil and beeswax in a heavy pyrex measuring cup and microwave 30 seconds at a time until melted. Be careful, the pyrex can get very hot so use a pot holder to handle the glass cup. Add grapefruit seed extract (preservative and antibacterial) and mix with a hand mixer until creamy.
Makes 1/4 cup.

Note: I use the microwave to melt the beeswax/oil together, but Annie calls for a double boiler. I also add a little more olive oil and a few vitamin E capsules to the mix because I didn't have the grapefruit seed extract. We love the stuff for chapped hands, lips and dry feet/heels. It's a nice balm for summertime bare feet.

One more recommendation from Annie....Aloe Vera Gel (the stuff you buy to put on sunburned skin). Get the 100% aloe gel. The author recommends it for skin moisturizer. She even says it will remove your brown age spots if you use it diligently for 3 to 4 months. I'm game! I love the feeling of moisture with no greasy feel.  It makes a good moisturizer for teens with especially oily skin.

I highly recommend this book! My daughter-in-love shared hers with me and now I simply must buy my own book. You'll find lots of recipes for home cleaners, skin care products for adult and babies, lawn & garden, natural insect repellents, laundry products and much more. The recipes are "all natural" and easy to make.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bloomin' beautiful....

Look who's back!
Daffy-down Dilly
Do you spy John Deere still generating electricity for us (into the third week)?

Look at these fellows who have just changed their suits to match the daffodils and dandelions. It's windy so their feathers are a bit ruffled. American Goldfinch

My tulips are beginning to show their colors.

And here's the Prairie Woman's springtime fruit....Rhubarb. It's unfolding nicely.

Smooshing the new pea gravel around on my garden path.
It's almost like walking on the beach.....almost.
Do you see why I love spring so much?

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, May 12, 2008

A lovely day for ducks and pelicans...

American White Pelican

The day is supposed to deteriorate....
rain, high winds, cold and chilly....
For those of us who like to be outside, walking, birding, gardening, it's deteriorating,
but if you're a duck or a pelican, the day will be just right.

Fishing formation

Hubby was out feeding the cows this morning and called me on the 2-way radio to say that he sighted some pelicans on the stock dam. I had planned to take dig some dandelions out of the flower beds this morning before the rain and winds came, but I chose to start with a little birding instead. A prairie woman doesn't see pelicans much. I think of them as sea birds, but they do come here in small numbers to our larger reservoirs in summertime. They are so huge -- L- 50" W-110" -- and make quite an impression to a land lubber like me.

Northern Pintail

I spied this fellow out in the feed lots amongst the mud and muck. Isn't he a regal duck with his long, white neck, blue-gray suit and tails, and brown head with blue-gray bill? I had to stand and stare. Just when you think your life is ordinary -- dull, gray and boring, you spy a little gift from God in the midst, sent just for you if you will only take a moment to really look.

Click on the pictures for a better look-see.
I didn't take the better camera with me, so the photos aren't as clear as I'd like. was gray and cloudy and I took the pelican pics from a long way off.
(excuses, excuses....)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day Wish...

Picture: Breakfast in Bed by Mary Cassatt

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may teach and encourage the young women to love their husands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. ~Titus 2:3-5

My Mother's Day Wish is that all women would take this scripture to heart. Let us resolve to cultivate anew our homemaking skills and share them with our daughters and daughters-in-law and granddaughters so when they are ready to settle into homemaking and family-building, they may call up mental pictures of a mother who saw the importance of raising her children, of blessing her husband, of helping a neighbor during a difficult trial. And let these young women be secure in knowing that help is but a phone call away. If we don't help them, who will? Sure, there are lots of how-to books on having a baby, cooking, budgeting, making your own household cleaners, and home schooling, but there is nothing that can compare with an experienced, older woman who has "been there" who can wrap a warm arm around a frustrated young woman, who will lend a listening ear to her over a cuppa tea, who will show her how to mend blue jeans or remove grease stains from her husbands work clothes, who will tend to the housekeeping when the baby arrives, or who will be there for her when she desperately needs a nap. (Don't you remember those days?) We are busy with so many demanding things these days, even good things that chew away our time and energy, that I wonder if we've overlooked the simplicity and the rewards of being "sensible, pure workers at home." What does it mean to you?

My second Mother's Day Wish is that we mothers would spend time really listening to our husbands and our children. I find myself so easily distracted by my own thoughts and concerns-of-the-day or I may be so focused on my chores and projects, that I forget that I can put all these things aside -- just for a moment or two -- look my child straight in the eye, and listen. We all need to know in our hearts that someone really does care.

Happy Mother's Day!

You might enjoy Calling All Older Women, a special letter from Laine's Letters.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

This and that...

A couple of days ago Hubs, Two Sons and I went out riding to gather cows up with their calves. They were all spread out and we wanted to make sure everything was healthy. There was SO much water out in this pasture that much of the time we were sloshing through puddles or wading our horses through water almost up to their bellies. (We loved it!) As you can see, the pasture grasses are slow in coming, but the snow we had will do worlds of good for this pasture this spring! (I didn't know Hubs was clicking my pic. Don't I look a little like Red Green? Yikes.)

My freshly mown lawn.
I had to mow around a little snow pile but went back the next day to trim it up. Sue is playing Vanna White, showing off the pretty grass to you. Can you believe just 6 days ago we were buried in two feet of snow?

It's raining today so I thought Sugar Dips sounded good.

My snack with a cuppa hot coffee. Oh yeah!

Sugar Dips

1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. shortening
3 eggs
1/4 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. vanilla
3 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. raisins cooked in
3/4 c. boiling water

Start the raisins boiling on the stove. Boil down until most of the water is gone. In the meantime, cream together sugar, shortening and eggs, vanilla. Add the dry ingredients together, mixing as you add a little at a time. Lastly, add the boiled raisins and the little bit of liquid. Mix. Drop a 1" ball (or so) into a bowl of sugar, roll around and set on a cookie sheet. Make more cookies in this way and then bake at 400* for 8 minutes. Don't overbake. You want the cookies just lightly tinged with golden color.

I've had four so far. (that means I might have more) Oh dear!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

For the birds....

Common Yellowthroat

Yellow Warbler

And this showed up in my flower bed
right after the snow.... Pasqueflower.
It's the South Dakota state flower.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Happy May Day!

First, two inches of rain fell.
The snow began the evening of April 30.....
Our front porch....

And continued hard on May Day.....
The snow is to the top of our Little Barn and
halfway up the Big Barn.
This whole corral was FULL of snow.
Good ol' John Deere came to the rescue!

The snow stopped around noon today.
We think we've had about 2 feet.
But there was so much wind, who knows?
No electricity for 2 days (so far) and many poles are broken
so it may be a week before the power is restored.
Thank goodness for our generator.

I couldn't resist another birdie picture.
This is a Rufous-sided Towhee.
(kind of like a mini-robin)
It's gonna be a GREEN spring!


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