Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Time out....

We're remodeling the kitchen so we're totally emerged in carpentry.  Hubs, my dad, and the sons are busy woodworkers.  I'll be away awhile, but I hope to share the results soon-ish.  Toodle-loo!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Four-Seeded Bread...

A dear friend gave me a special book, The Waldorf Book of Breads, and this recipe was the first one on the very first page.  It sounded so delicious and hearty, that I couldn't wait to make it.  In the notes it says, "This is the recipe for my most popular bread sold at the Viroqua (WI) Farmer's Market."  I know why!  The recipe says it makes 5 loaves, but I made 6.  I suppose it depends on how large you make your loaves.

Four-Seeded Bread
5 T. baking yeast
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. non-instant milk powder (I used instant)
1/4 c blackstrap molasses
8 c. warm water (approx 100*F)
3 T. salt
2 c. rolled oats
4 c. whole wheat flour
high-gluten white flour, enough for a kneadable dough (6-8 cups for me)
1 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. flax seeds
1/2 c. millet
1/2 c. sesame seeds

In a large mixing bowl, place yeast, oil, milk powder, and molasses in warm water, stir and let sit for 5 minutes.  Stir in oats and 4 cups whole wheat flour and salt.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Add seeds and high-gluten flour.  Knead well (or use mixer with bread hook).  Let rise till it doubles in size.  Punch down and let rise a half hour more.  Make into 5 or 6 loaves.  Let rise until doubled.  Bake in 400*F oven for 40-45 minutes until dark brown in color.  

*My Notes:
  I used instant powdered milk (it's what I had)
~I didn't have high-gluten bread flour so I used regular unbleached white and added about 4 t. gluten powder.
~I didn't have millet so I skipped it.
~When preparing the bread for the pans, I sprinkle some oats and sesame seeds in the bottom of the pan, then brush the formed loaf with an egg wash and place it in the pan.  Then sprinkle more oats/seeds on top.

~The results -- DELICIOUS!  I ate it without butter last night and then ate it toasted with orange marmalade for breakfast.  So good.  Really, it is!
We've had a busy week.  DIL had her gall bladder removed so the Littles have spent quite a bit of time with Gram and Papa (which we love).  It also snowed about 6" here during the cold blast.  Sue loves to play fetch in the snow.
 from my front porch
 Mary Toodles trekking through the snow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Two new Loveys....

These are just so much fun to make and today's lil Loveys have tags.  (You know how babies love to chew on tags.)  Well, I thought I'd add my own tags for these fellas.  I found a tiny set of rubber stamps in my stash along with some twill tape I saved from a set of sheets.  I marked the rubber stamps with a Sharpie hoping to make "LOVEY" stay put through washings.  And if it doesn't.... oh well!  Both boys were made from patterns by Wee Wonderfuls, however, I did a little improvising and put a football helmet in Tim's hands and wrote my favorite football team's name across his shirt.

Betsy Cupcake will get the Tim Tebow lovey (her mommy and daddy are big fans) and The Blankie Boy lovey will go to a young friend who is going to have a baby soon.  There's a baby shower coming up so I'm in my workshop getting a few things sewn for her and the wee one.  Fun!  (thanks for letting me share)

It's snowing here today!  (just a light dusting so far)  An Arctic front is pushing down from the North and we're in for a Deep Freeze.  Single digits and sub-zero wind chills.  Living on the prairie has its disadvantages -- wind and wind chill.  The wood stove is burning steadily.  Time to put another log on the fire.  (remember that old song?)

Friday, January 13, 2012

What's old is new again....

I was watching The Gaither's a couple Saturdays ago.  They were honoring Billy Graham by having a Homecoming at the Billy Graham Library.  The music, as always, was terrific.  I didn't see the entire program, but there was a little clip -- an interview with Billy Graham -- that stuck in my mind.  He was sitting by the fireplace in his home and Gloria Gaither was visiting with him about Ruth -- the love of his life and someone I admired greatly.  As beautiful picture after beautiful picture of Ruth and their family clicked across the screen, there was something Bill said that caught my attention.  He said that Ruth had many Bibles that she marked up,  and she read many different versions of the Bible.  I thought to myself, "I've only really ever read one particular version of the Bible (NAS), with the exception of The Way, which I first began to read when I was 13 years old."
I had decided right then that I wanted to go back to that version or a similar version and begin to read the Bible with fresh eyes.  A few days ago I ordered The Message//Remix (The Bible in Contemporary Language).  Today, it came in the mail and I immediately sat down to read a familiar passage, one that my daughter asked me about just the day before -- Proverbs 3.

Good friend, don't forget all I've taught you, take to heart my commands.  They'll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well.  Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.  Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.  Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.  Trust God from the bottom of your heart, don't try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go, he's the one who will keep you on track.  Don't assume that you know it all.  Run to God!  Run from evil!  Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!  ~Proverbs 3:1-12
After reading through the chapter, I read further.  And further.  I was listening to a  familiar story, but it was not the same person who always tells it.  Someone else was narrating it with his especial voice -- fresh and invigorating,  yet gentle and sincere, honest and truthful, full of hope and understanding.  I felt like the narrator could be one of my own grown-up kids telling me back the story that is written in his heart.  I like thinking of it that way.

I'm excited about my new Bible.  I plan to mark it up and make it my own, just like my old tattered Bible.  I figure I'll flip back and forth between the new Bible and the old one to compare and to ponder.  I'm reading with great expectation.  I wonder if Ruth ever read The Message?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

BBQ sliders.....

I found a dandy recipe over at Pioneer Woman Cooks.  Hers are Whiskey BBQ Sliders, but mine are just plain ol' BBQ Sliders (without the party!).  You MUST make these for every burger-loving man, woman, and child in your life.  They will think you are the bee's knees!  (You are!)  I thew in some oven fries alongside the burgers and I'll just was better than eating out!

I learned a little trick to crispier oven fries -- you want to pre-cook your spuds.  I baked mine in the microwave until they were al dente -- firm, not mushy.  Let them cool down, then slice into wedges.  Drizzle a little olive oil over them, and season the way you like 'em, and bake at 425* until crispy (around 20-30 min).


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The calm before the wind-chill...

I took a nice, long walk again today.  I think we had 60* on the thermometer today and very little wind.  So unusual for us here.  I wanted to spend some time outside so I took one walk up to the mail box before the mailman drove by.  It's a two mile round trip.  Then I took a pasture walk out into the wide open plains.  There isn't any livestock out there right now because it is mostly used for spring and summer grazing.   Just a short way into my walk, I saw a badger -- a blonde badger who saw me and popped right into a hole as quick as a wink.  I was so hoping I'd see him again and could snap a picture for you, but it was not to be.  So I'll show you somebody else's picture of the blonde badger.  When I say the badger was blonde, I mean that he matched the pasture grass, unlike many badgers who are very dark or silver in color.

Photo courtesy of Wilderness College.

Do you see the cow trail worn into the grass?  I often find myself walking in cow trails when I go hiking out into a big pasture.  The grass is tromped down and it's usually easier to walk in the trails, but sometimes the ruts are too deep for a two-legged creature to walk in and I must forge my own path. 

 This is an alkali area of the pasture.  It's spongy and the white stuff is very salty.  You don't ever want to drive in a low alkali spot or you might sink the outfit up to the frame.  Nothing much grows here except some salt grasses and weeds.  One pretty weed is called Saltlover (Halogeton) which is poisonous to livestock.

I found a cow carcass scattered about in one spot.  She's been out there a long, long  time.

 And this must be one of Badger's holes.  There were at least four holes on this ridge.  The thing is to have several holes in which to hop into quickly and to have lots of storehouses for a long winter.

How about that expansive sky and prairie together?  Breathtaking, isn't it?

Turning back toward home, you can faintly see the barns, granaries, hay corrals and homes.  You can also see that the sky is changing and a cold front is blowing in.  We've had high winds since dark and the winds are expected to hang around and increase for a few days as the temperatures drop.  Combined, they will give us sub-zero wind chills between -15 and -20.  Brrrrrr!  We've had such a mild winter so far, that I shouldn't complain when Real Winter hits.  (Well, I might complain, but it IS winter after all.)

Back home the low sun invites itself in at about 3 pm and warms the house up a little.  Coffee time!  Come in and have a cup!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Stitcheries and Full Wolf Moon...

 This lil dollie I made for Mary Toodles' First Birthday, Jan 10th.
I found the pattern (and several of her friends) at
Hillary Lang has the cutest patterns for sale (and a few freebies).
I finished this flowery stitchery last summer, but never did anything with it.  I found it again while moving my sewing stuff from one room to another.  I put it into an embroidery hoop and hung it in the kitchen to remind me that summer will come again.  

I was inspired to do these doodle stitching projects when I saw some of Cassie's at You Go Girl.  She has the best ideas and she makes the prettiest things.  She's got lots of good, creative talent!  This last stitchery is my Winter Circle.  I know poinsettias don't grow where it's cold, but oh well, it makes for a good theme anyway.    I finished this one during the Denver/Pittsburgh game on Sunday.  Hey!  How about  those Broncos??!!  Whoo Hoo!  We can hardly wait for next Saturday's game!  It'll be a tough one, but.... "We Believe!"

Did you see the Full Moon?  This picture was taken this morning as the moon was setting in the west.
Here is what the Farmer's Almanac says about January's Full Moon.....
Full Wolf Moon – January Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Just because...

Country eggs. 
Just because they are so pretty (and tasty) and good for you.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A January walk....

 HP is fascinated with ice.  She remembers "The River" (as she calls the pond by our house) in its liquid state with leaves and sticks floating on top and frogs and turtles on the bank.  And now it's frozen and still.  She wants to ice skate, but it's just not thick enough ice yet.  Since it's been warm during the day and cold at night, the pond is freezing and thawing and the ice is becoming less and less desirable for skating, but much more interesting to look at.  I took these pictures of the ice where we were walking today.  Isn't it pretty with the willow leaves embedded in it?

 I showed HP the water bubbles just under the surface of the ice.  This is why we cannot skate yet.

 I took a walk by myself out in the pasture yesterday and traipsed way down to the old shearing pens which was once a place of  hard work where the Mexican shearing crews made camp and sheared 1000 sheep or more every spring.  Now the shed is falling in and broken down beyond repair.  I found a shard of crockery there and thought about the cooker-ladies of the camp.  I wondered if there were beans in that crock or cooked, shredded lamb.  Did she accidentally break it and lose the contents?  Or did it already have a crack in it and she was just using it up until it was worthless and then left it behind? 

The rock was found along the trail.  It's a type of fossil from our gravel pile.  I'm fascinated by the whole that went all the way through it.  The piece of wood was likely a fence post once upon a time.  I love the deep grooves in it.

Every walk brings me home to the barnyard where Fluffly is always looking for a handout, a scratch behind the ears or a good petting.  He's quite photogenic, isn't he?  Walks are very therapeutic to me and always have been.  I like being able to think my own thoughts, to look closely at the landscape or the sky or a fence line.  I am forever dragging something home -- rocks, feathers, an old piece of iron or a missing gas cap from the tractor.  It's invigorating to walk against the wind and then to turn around to go home and walk with the wind and into the sun, unzipping my coat to cool down.  It makes me feel alive and part of the land that I live on to be "out there" and appreciating its beauty and its ruggedness.  God is there.  I'm never alone.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

January -- daily feeding and a new year...

January finds us with daily feeding chores.  Thankfully there is still plenty of grazing out in the pastures that the cows and sheep can find on their own, but we still must bring them the majority of their daily food.  Winter months are generally lean, cold, bitter, lacking sunshine.  The livestock need us, day in and day out.  It makes me think of how we especially need our Master to feed us in the particularly cold, bitter times of life when we have a hard time gathering for ourselves.

It's a new year.  2012.  Wow!  When I was a girl, the year 2012 would have made me think of the Jetsons or Star Trek where people would be driving hovercrafts to work and be jettisoned through tubes to later materialize on another planet or to school and back home again just like Elroy and Spock did.   But 2012 isn't quite like what I had imagined.  I am, however, amazed at our tech-y ability to communicate.  It wasn't that many years ago when I used a rotary phone.  Touch tone was a fabulous improvement!
                                 Rotary phone in our mud room                                           Touch tone phone

A cell phone was non-existent and only a figment of the imagination.  I remember a friend of mine telling me that she was sure one day her husband would have a telephone glued to his ear.  And now here we are, with Bluetooth and other in-the-ear devices for telephone communication.  I marvel at the ability a cell phone has, not only to communicate but to compute (as in mini-computer) and do things I can't do on a cell phone (like send a picture).  It is incredible!  I wonder what ten more years might bring?

This January I'm not thinking about new year resolutions.  At.  All.  I was telling Hubs the other day that last January I was going to do yoga diligently -- at least a few times a week -- and never once did I put the DVD in and do a single session.  Not one time.  At least you could say I was consistent.  Actually, today I'm thinking about contentment.  Doing whatever God has for me in This Day.  It doesn't mean that I won't plan ahead or try hard to accomplish certain things or to be a better person, but I want to be in this day and rejoice in it (as best I can).  The things that God might have for li'l ol' me will probably never be printed in the NY Times, and I probably won't get an invitation to The Today Show to tell about my fabulous life and doings, but I know He has put me here for a purpose, and I want to be able to give myself to my friends and family and anyone else who may cross my path.  I want to be content in whatever situation I may find myself  and honor God with this body He has given me -- today!  That makes me think of a hymn that says, "grace for today and bright hope for tomorrow..."  That's how I want to live.  Contentedly.   ...for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  ~Philippians 4:11-13

I have a book that I call "My Book of Favorites" and within it I have lots of quotes, excerpts from books, snippets from friends, scripture, and things that I have found interesting or meaningful.  One quote that I love is from Jim Elliot, a missionary to the Auca Indians of Ecuador where he was killed by the very people he went to help.  He said, "Wherever you are, be all there.  Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."  I probably won't be a missionary to a far away land, but no matter where I am I want to "be all there" and "living to the hilt."  Do you want to join me?  Happy 2012!


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