Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tulips and Hearts....

It's a Happy Third Anniversary for M&G!
(only daughter and hubby)
The traditional gift for a third anniversary is glass or crystal according to my Susan Branch List.  I had given up on finding the perfect thing and so resigned myself to preparing a card, but since the sons were going to town to see a friend off to Warsaw, I decided to pick a garden bouquet and let them play as florist couriers.    As I arranged the flowers in the heart shaped vase, I had an "ah ha moment."  The vase is glass -- the third anniversary traditional gift!  Just when I think I've come to the end of my bright ideas, a simple bouquet in a simple vase becomes the perfect gift.
I call it a God Thing.

Do you see the blue sky reflected in my window?
Chilly and windy, but sunshine nevertheless.
I hope you've had a happy day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A book for Betsy...

Saturday we helped M&G reshingle their roof.  
I didn't pound a single nail, but I did help in the kitchen and held Betsy Boo and sang sweet songs to her.
I made a little run downtown and decided to stop by the thrift store and I found this sweet Eloise Wilkin book for 50 cents.  I adore EW and her gentle illustrations of children and animals and babies.

Today there was a special baby shower for Betsy.
We all were asked to bring a favorite book for Betsy's library.
I could have brought a suitcase full, but just brought three board books by
Margaret Wise Brown.
Good Night Moon
Big Red Barn
The Runaway Bunny
I'm especially fond of Good Night Moon.
What children's books do you especially love?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grammy Camp....

 Grammy camp comes once a week at our house.  It's the day that my little grand(s) get to come stay the day with me and I usually end up working playing outside with them all day long.  Hooray!  The sun shone today and we were out from morning till evening!  (we didn't even have our usual afternoon nap)   First Hazel Peach fell in the mud when we went to let the chickens out of the coop so I quickly stitched up a new pair of  flower pants for her to wear for the day.  Cute, ain't they?  Then HP played fetch with Sue for a good portion of the morning while I wheel-barrowed manure and mulch to one of my front flower beds.  We planted more seeds into the veggie gardens -- carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, beans, peas, parsley, basil, thyme and lastly gladiola bulbs on the ends of each raised bed.  My mother-in-law used to always plant glads in her veggie patch, and I like the idea of having a few flowers mixed in amongst the veggies.  I always plug a few marigolds in with the tomato plants too.  Do you?
There was horseback riding at Grammy Camp today.  Uncle S. decided to spend some time on his horse, Red, and HP begged a ride on him too.  She told me she was going to... "Ride to Texas.  Yup!"  We spent time digging worms and weeds and swinging in the willow tree.  We have a swing that hangs from a big tree branch in the backyard and Miss Peach thinks it's marvelous to swing from the branches. We took a turn in the tire swing out at the chicken coop after we fetched the eggs.  Little Things are Big Things to wee people.

By 3:30 in the afternoon, it was time for Gram's coffee break so we had coffee, water, and a chocolate muffin and relaxed on the front porch together.  The sippy cup soon turned into a sprinkler, watering the grass and then the tulips.  Each tulip got a drink from the sippy.  Keeps a girl very busy, that's for sure.

 Look who showed up out in the backyard today -- Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  I love their red bibs.  It sure was a happy, sunny day today.  I hope you had a little slice of Sunshine Pie too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Startin' up...

 Even though it's still raining like the dickens, I decided I could plant the lettuce and onions at the very least.    So I did.  I was soaked through by the time I was done, but I just really needed to get outside for some fresh air and a dig in the dirt.

There are a few volunteer lettuces coming up out there already so maybe we'll get a taste of fresh, greens soon.  I am so ready for homegrown lettuce among other things like homegrown tomatoes.

About 160 onion bulbs got plugged in the dirt.  That sounds like a lot, but it really doesn't seem like it once they are all planted in the bed.  I planted them fairly close together, but I'll thin them out and pull some up early for green onions.

This is the rhubarb that I transplanted earlier this spring.  It's happy, happy, happy.
And so am I.  I love me some rhubarb pie.

 I was going to say, "It's a lovely day for ducks," but it is actually a lovely day for chickens too.  
They were busy hunting for waterlogged worms.

 Here are the peeps!  
Hardly looking like those sweet little balls of fluff anymore, they are at that prepubescent stage when they aren't cute lil peeps and they aren't pretty, refined pullets yet.  It's the tween stage where they are really growing and looking rather homely.
The rain keeps on coming and more and more country roads are washing out.  They guys took our Rangers (ATVs) and went with a rescue team to the Little Missouri to get a rancher out.  The rescue team had two jet skis to get through all the water.  Everything turned out fine.  I really feel sorry for those folks along the river.  Their livestock is mostly stranded and many are lambing now and can't get to their sheep.

I hope you're getting a little sunshine along with the rain.
We need both, don't we?

The best kind of rain, of course, is a cozy rain.  This is the kind the anonymous medieval poet makes me remember, the rain that falls on a day when you'd just as soon stay in bed a little longer, write letters or read a good book by the fire, take early tea with hot scones and jam and look out the streaked window with complacency.  
~Susan Allen Toth, England For All Seasons

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rainy Daze...

We've had 5 1/2 inches of rain in 4 days and expecting more tonight and Sunday.
What do you do when it rains and rains?
You must still go outside and admire the flowers.

 Pick some flowers for the table --
Tulips and daffies from the garden, and the purple loco from the pasture.

 Paint with watercolors.

Walk in the rain with a blue umbrella.

 Dump the umbrella and dance in the puddles.

Play in the down spouts.

Read good books.

Sew on Betsy's Quilt.
Wet-vac water out of the crawl space. 
No mail today.
Some bridges and roads are washed out and the mailman can't come.

Smile. God knows what He is doing!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


 The Goldfinches have changed from their dull gray winter tweeds into their spring tuxedos of bright yellow and black.  A cheery bunch of them are gathered around my sunflower seed feeder and those on the ground are happy to receive the spillings from the top.  It nearly looks like a cluster of golden dandelions on the lawn.  I love their sweet voices, "See Me?"  I taught Hazel Peach their question song yesterday.

 I finished Mary Toodles' colorful quilt last night.  I used the Building Blocks Baby Quilt recipe over at Moda Bake Shop.  Included in my recipe, I used a "Giddy" layer cake and added in a cream and turquoise cotton  for borders and edges. 
 I used some of the leftover strips from the cuttings for the back.  I've  had a Big Foot darning foot for my Viking sewing machine sitting in the drawer for a long time and at long last, I decided to give it a whirl.  This is my first time at free-motion quilting.  It is far from good, let alone perfect, but Mary Toodles won't mind one bit that this was her Gram's practice quilt.  It was fun and very satisfying, but a little hard on my small brain.  I really need to get the hang of the free-motion "puzzle pieces" rather than my "haphazard dinosaurs."  It's like drawing, but moving the paper underneath the pen.  For some neat ideas and designs for free motion quilting, click here. One more thing to add -- I experimented with using adhesive spray between the layers to "baste" the quilt together before I quilted it.  It worked terrifically! Check out the "how to" here.

My friend, Joyce, over at Plain Old Vanilla told me once, "Always, always label your quilts."  
So I did.  
Just a little love note and the year.

I'm entering Mary's Quilt in.....
Amy's Creative Side
Come see all the wonderful quilts by clicking on the button.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Snickers & Sweet Cinnamon Scones

Yes, I said it right.  Today we're going to talk about Snickers and Sweet Cinnamon Scones.  Sounds delish, doesn't it?  Well, before you think about a deep-fat fried candy bar recipe, I'll tell you that Snickers is this little doggie that Hazel Peach and Mary Toodles got from their nice Mommy and Daddy.  She's a Aussie/Border Collie pup and she's the color of a chocolate Snickers Bar with that creamy caramel inside.  Even her nose is brown.  When Snickers was introduced to her new girls, she immediately loved them.  She especially enjoyed licking the left-over milk from the creases of Mary's neck, and Mary didn't mind a bit.  Snickers plays fetch-the-ball with Hazel.  I think they'll be very good friends.

Now for the Sweet Cinnamon Scones, which really IS a recipe and you're gonna want it for your recipe collection.  I have had this recipe in my "To Make" pile for a while and finally tonight, I thought I would make scones for our dessert with the idea that there might be a few left for morning coffee.  They were a hit!  So flaky, so cinnamon-y, so sweet and tasty.  One of the key elements of the recipe is the cinnamon chips.  There weren't any cinnamon chips in my cowtown grocery stores, but I found them on Amazon and thought I'd take my chances and try them out.  I'm glad I did (although I didn't pay the current price on Amazon for them -- yipes!).  I can imagine using these sweet cinnamon chips in lots of other tasty recipes like muffins, coffee cakes, cinnamon rolls, cookies or straight out of the bag.  Check your grocery store for them, sold near the chocolate chips.

Sweet Cinnamon Scones


  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • ⅓ cups Sugar
  • 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter
  • ¾ cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Cinnamon Chips
  • Topping
  • ½ cups Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1-½ teaspoon Heavy Cream

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and baking powder. Cut butter into pieces, then cut into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cinnamon chips.
Mix together cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour into flour/butter mixture, stirring gently with a fork to combine.
Turn onto work surface (mixture will be very crumbly and falling apart.) Gently press together on the sides as you flatten (or roll, with a rolling pin) the top. Form either into a large circle or a large rectangle. Mix together topping ingredients, stirring with a fork. Sprinkle over the top of the dough, lightly pressing.
Cut into wedges (from a circle) or triangles (from a rectangle.) Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Serve with coffee.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Open patches of blue sky...

It's been cloudy and rainy and cold.  I yearn for a little warm sunshine, but I won't complain about these wet, spring days that water and replenish our land. However..... when an open patch of blue sky peaks through the gray, I am out in it, soaking up every  little bit of warmth that the sun shoves through the holes in the clouds.  The sunshine feels warmer when it breaks through gray skies, doesn't it?  Life is like that for me.  When I see an open patch of clear sky, I take advantage of it and rearrange my day to accommodate it.  I may have a stack of diapers to sew, a dryer of laundry to fold, a stack of bills to pay or a sink of dishes to wash, but when the sun is shining, I leave the house behind for my outdoor chores.  This week I had a patch of blue sky to work in even though it was still very chilly.  I mowed and tended to some transplanting.  I took some time to admire my daffies and tulips while  inspecting the buds on the apple trees and chokecherry bushes.   We still have no leaves on the trees except for the Willow, but I think they, too, are waiting for some blue sky and warm days.

I am happy to report that since it was mostly cloudy and cold yesterday afternoon, I used my indoor time wisely and got a good start on one of the baby quilts I have been itching to stitch.  Mary Toodles still doesn't have her baby quilt from her Gram.  This morning I finished the quilt top!  Just a few more steps and a cloudy day or two, and it will be all finished.  It is supposed to be extremely windy tomorrow, so I'm planning for an indoor day, working on the quilt as well as minding the house chores that need my attention.

I am so enamored with my green, green lawn.  It's thick and lush and moist and green.  Around here we say it's Green as Ireland  this time of year.  It is, isn't it?  (I've never been to Ireland)  When the leaves bud out, it will truly be a splendid place to be.  Who needs to travel when you live in paradise?  (this year anyway)

Wishing you open patches of blue sky so you can play outdoors and soak up the sun and a few scattered, gray days so you can keep the indoors tidy and welcoming.  It takes both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow. Have a happy week!

Monday, May 09, 2011

House Wren....

 As I was bustling about the house, doing my dishes, gathering the sheets from the washer, and gazing out the window -- as I always do whenever I am in the house for the day -- I spied a couple pair of house wrens.  They are busy, busy.  They flutter and zip here and there so quickly that it is very difficult to focus & click the camera before they are out of the picture.

 I took these pictures from my laundry room window.  It's a perfect spot because it's at ground level and the wrens  like to dig and zip around the front porch and in amongst all the leaves and bark that are right next to my window.  I guess there is something to say for letting the dry leaves lay where they fall.

Do you see how fuzzy this wren's beak is?  I was observing him for quite a long time.  He had been  munching on a moth.  I can't imagine eating a dry, furry moth, but he thought it was just fine.  I think one pair of wrens are building up in the Green Ash tree where there is an abandoned robin's nest left over from last summer.  I saw them up fly up and down to that very spot.  I do hope they stay because I love watching them and hearing their jumbly, screechy voices.  It's hardly a song, but more like a chatter they make.  My dad made me a rustic birdhouse that might make a nice nesting place for the House Wrens. 
I'll be watching that spot too.

I spied a Common Yellowthroat  (a warbler) out the window today, but I didn't get a picture of him.
I sometimes feel that I'm wasting time because I constantly gawk out the window or stop on my way to the barn to watch the newcomers return from their winter vacations, but I just can't help it.  My eyes catch their flight patterns, their shapes and colors, and I can't resist watching them even though I should doing the chore at hand.  To me, there is just nothing like seeing my old friends return home for the summer. 

The House Wren is a nice little friend to have busily working beside me.  Whether I'm weeding the garden beds, hanging out the clothes or looking out the window while washing dishes, she is always there.   
Have you been a busy House Wren today?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day...

 Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful women who have devoted yourselves to loving Little People into Big People.  It's a big job, but the most satisfying and rewarding job ever.  
It's been said, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."  Thank you, precious mothers, for rocking babies, wiping noses, feeding your families, listening to your children,  loving them through thick and thin and for praying for them. 
The world needs you. We need you! Thank you!

I spent the majority of my day in bed in my jammies recovering from a night of the stomach flu.  This was the view from my bed.  Hubs gave me a bunch of roses on Friday and I took some of them up to our room.  I'm so glad I did.  It made being in my bed a little happier.

After a nap, I glanced out the window to the bird feeders and saw this handsome fellow.
An Evening Grosbeak.

It was such a warm, sunny day here that I had to make a couple turns around the yard to admire the full-blossoming tulips and daffodils.
Cheery gifts.

"Every man's life is a fairytale written by God's fingers."
~Hans Christian Anderson

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I'm diggin' it....

It's really way to early to start planting gardens on the northern prairies where I live, but it's never too early to start digging up the dandelions, weeds and grasses that try to invade my garden beds.   The past few days I have been trying to shape up my beds so there are no weeds or undesirables left in them.  Then the plan is to mulch.  Hubs stacked up the last of the winter firewood for me near the back garden.  Perhaps we'll use it in the fire pit this summer.  Do you see those two logs with the holes in them?  I am hoping to find a wren's nest in them this summer.  Wouldn't that be great?  I love house wrens.

As I was digging through one of my wildflower beds, I noticed that a particular plant, which I cannot properly name, has become an invader and has tried to take over the Flower World of my garden.  Since I could never seem to remember it's name, I called it the Fairy Flower because upon its hardy stalk, it had a spike of delicate, tiny, lavender flowers that almost looked like mini-snapdragons.  I remember the day I bought three little starts.  I was so excited to think that one day they would be full-grown and abundantly blooming, and I would be smiling proudly at such plants as they.  However,  I have been digging this prolific menace for days.  It appears to have dropped a lot of seed for seedlings and has also sent a system of runners throughout the garden bed.  I do not like that.  Not one little bit.  Perhaps it is my fault, but I do recall pulling a lot of the Fairy Dragon Plant out last summer as I saw it  flourishing taking over, but I had no idea it would try to dominate the Flower World of my garden like this!  There will be NO world domination happenin' here!  So I'm diggin' it.

I have always chosen flowers that are "easy to grow" and that have xeric qualities since we usually have very dry summers and water is often in short supply.  I have found though, that many xeric plants are very invasive and must be watched like a hawk.  You turn your back for a moment and they start to crowd and push and ultimately dominate the garden.  I'll name a few of my hardiest growers:  Iris, Hollyhocks, Black-eyed Susan, Catmint, Calendula, Poppies, Blue Flax, Columbine, Shasta Daisy, Bachelor Buttons and Cosmos.  Some of the more polite growers that live in my gardens are:   Tulips, Daffodils, Alium, and Lilies -- bulb-growers who come up, bloom, and fade away quietly and politely.  Of course, you sometimes must split bulbs or else they might grow lazy and stop blooming, but they are not garden invaders.  I also like my Bleeding Hearts and Peonies.  They also have their joyous burst and then quietly fade and gather in the sunshine with their leaves until fall.

 The first of the daffodils are about to pop!

Giant Zinnias, picture from SCNLA
I am thinking that this year I will plant some simple annuals in place of the nasty Dragon Flowers.  I have always loved zinnias.  My mom grew many varieties when we were kids and I truly love them all, but my favorites are the big ones called Giants or State Fair like the ones above.  They remind me of dahlias.  I think I might even plant several varieties of those robust marigolds this year.  I appreciate that they bloom and bloom and never give up.  I like a flowers that works that hard and blooms so furiously!  As always, I will have my terra cotta pots of bright red geraniums on the front porch.  It's my tradition.  I like red.

The veggie gardens are in the back of my mind.  I will likely not plant those until sometime around Memorial Day.  It's still quite cold here overnight -- freezing or below -- so I cannot put out plants or start seedlings yet.  But I do have my onion sets bought and I am envisioning planting them along with  peas and lettuces before Memorial Day.  I am so ready for eating fresh, green lettuces like Peter Rabbit.  Yum!  I do have some lovely chives up, and I have been snipping them into various salads and salsas, even scrambled eggs -- sprinkling them like confetti.  Fresh.  Green.

We are expecting warmer days to come.  Warm 70 degree days!  Hurray!  You know where I'll be?  Diggin'.  You too?


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