Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The moon, Little Women, and twinkle lights...

 Full Moon taken at 7:30 pm MST

Have you been out to look at the moon tonight?  Oh, it's glorious as always, but tonight at our house there is a rainbow-type ring around it which usually means moisture is in the air or that it's coming soon.  We call it a "moon dog."  I'm not sure if it's a real term for this phenom, but I know that a sun dog is a true term for a ring around the sun.  What all of us will see near the moon tonight is the planet Jupiter and the bright star Aldebaran with faint Pleiades above.  I brought over this good picture from Sky & Telescope where I like to check out the things I see in the sky.  I love this site. 

I also like to read about the names of the full moons so here's what the Farmer's Almanac tells me:  "Full Beaver Moon – November This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon."  We have beaver on the river where we lease some land.  It is absolutely fascinating to me how those big yellow beaver teeth can cut down great, old cottonwoods in a very little time.  They are quite destructive and it's sad to see such beautiful trees that took so long to grow destroyed.

Besides moon-gazing, I've been reading on my "Christmas Book," Little Women.  Oh, how I'm enjoying it!  Just take a listen to this part:

'What in the world are you going to do now, Jo?' asked Meg, one snowy afternoon, as her sister came  tramping through the hall, in rubber boots, old sack and hood, with a broom in one hand and a shovel in the other.

'Going out for exercise,' answered Jo, with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

'I should think two long walks this morning would have been enough.  It's cold and dull out, and I advise you to stay, warm and dry, by the fire, as I do,' said Meg, with a shiver.

'Never take advice!  Can't keep still all day, and, not being a pussy-cat, I don't like to doze by the fire.  I like adventures, and I'm going to find some.'

Meg went back to toast her feet and read 'Ivanhoe;' and Jo began to dig paths with great energy.  The snow was light, and with her broom she soon swept a path all round the garden for Beth to walk in when the sun came out; and the invalid dolls needed air.
 Isn't that just fun reading?  I think so too.  I feel much like Jo a lot of the time.  As much as I enjoy a good book to read, I really can't sit still for very long before my hands get fidgety and my legs begin to ache for want of exercise or something to do -- mostly outdoors.  Are you more of an adventurer like Jo or a pussy-cat like Meg?  Or perhaps you are like Beth, taking care of her invalid baby dolls or Amy who is petted and spoilt by her older sisters.  Each girl has her noble qualities and each has her shortcomings, but    altogether they compliment each other and challenge one another to be better people, moving ever closer to that Palace Beautiful as told in their Pilgrim's Progress.

Ours is still the only house "on the block" which doesn't have it's Christmas lights strung  and lit.  Peach asked me why I didn't have my Christmas lights up, and I replied to her,  I had the porch light on, wasn't that good enough?  Bless her heart, she told me it was very nice, but it was not a Christmas light.  One thing Hubby and I did put up is The Star on the Barn.  Travelers-by will see it shining in the night, and I hope they think about that Star of Bethlehem.  The Littles love to go see it at dark.  It's a mile up the road to the barn so someone has to take them, just like you would in town when you want to go out driving up and down the streets to see the neighborhood Christmas lights.  Simple little things is what they love most.  Me too.  I hope your eyes light up with each strand of twinkle lights you hang and every candle you light.  You are making someone's holiday special when you do it. Every new day brings us a little closer to that Joyful Day.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Homemade (healthy) chocolate...

Now we're talkin' --  HomemadeHealthy.  Chocolate.

May I also add, easy?  Yes, easy!  I was browsing one of my new favorite sites for healthy eating and healthful living and stumbled upon this delicious, I mean really delicious chocolate recipe.  Not only is it the most delicious chocolate I have ever eaten, it's healthy.  Why?  Because it's made with whole ingredients that are packed with vitamins, minerals and good fats.  That doesn't mean I'm going to eat a panful.  I'd like to try, but it's so rich and creamy that you only need a little to satisfy. So without further ado, I give you the recipe, by Wellness MamaPrint it out.  You'll thank me.

Just a note on the chocolate I made....I didn't have coco butter, so I substituted coconut oil as suggested in the original recipe.  Wellness Mama said it wouldn't be as creamy as using coco butter, but I thought it was VERY creamy and smooth.  It also doesn't harden as much, but I have a fridge!   I can't wait to try it with coco butter next time.  I  added in 1/2 cup of chopped almonds to my batch.  Just so you know, I ran the recipe (with almonds added) through a calorie/nutrition calculator and came up with these statistics.

Cut into 16 pieces.  Calories per piece: 197
Fat 20 g, Cholesterol 0, Potassium 174 mg, sugar 9.4 g, protein 3.6  
A good source of magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin E.

I hope you try it.  Please let me know what you think if you do.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The day after...

As I sit here typing at the computer, I'm chewing on the last leg of the two turkeys I made for Thanksgiving.  Oh, we had a jolly day with all the family home, minus one son and one fiance'.  There was lots of delicious food and I must say, I enjoyed the flavors and textures of this year's dinner more than any other.  I think it has to do with the fact that Hubby and I have been eating healthier -- no sugar, not much starch, and mostly eating meat & veg.  It's a great way to eat and feel good, but I admit that I really looked forward to the country dressing, the cranberries and the pumpkin pie.  I was not disappointed.  Today, we're back to the everyday food of our everyday lives.  The goodies were all packed away and sent home with the kids who will appreciate nibbling on leftovers this weekend.

Back when I was a young mom with lots of kids at home, I loved Thanksgiving Dinner mostly for the leftovers.  I made enough food so that I didn't have to cook for the next couple of days.  It was glorious to have time to do some of the things I wanted to do without having to stop and cook meals.  The family was free to graze from the fridge and I was free to sew or embroider or read.  

This weekend I will carry on the tradition of spending some time doing those same creative things.  Because I am a responsible, first-born, I have finished up my bookkeeping in the office first so I can spend the afternoon reading Little Women and drinking hot tea, thanks to the suggestion of the Left-handed Housewife.  I've wanted to read that book during the Christmas season for years and years, and never have gotten to it. Today, however, is the day that I will begin it.  I am so looking forward to it!  I also have another tea towel on the hoop and I will spend some hours stitching on it too. 

The evening sunsets have been gorgeous against the dark leafless trees.  The young owl was out again, but it was much too dark to get a good photo of him.  Tonight we hope to see a good display of Northern Lights.  We'll stay up late to see what we can see, or we might set our alarm clocks to get up in the early, early morning hours to see what's happening in the sky.  This is the time when secluded, country darkness is a good thing.

I hope you all had a happy, bellyful of Thanksgiving, and I hope you'll have a weekend of enjoying special-to-you things to do -- even if that means a nap.  A nap sounds lovely too, doesn't it?  Now I'm going to throw the dog a bone!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Do you see him?

As the deer pants for the water brooks, 
So my soul pants for You, O God.
~Psalm 42:1

I'm taking lots of walks on these sunny November days.   It's good for my soul.  Temps have turned warm here, and I'm able to walk with just a sweatshirt and no stocking cap. I'm soaking up the sun and warmth while I can.  It's good.

This fellow (above) surprised me as I was walking through the trees.  I don't think I would have seen him had he not moved.  I saw his movements before I saw him.  The deer are hiding out in the shelter belts during the day, and at night they come out to drink from the tanks and nibble the leftover sunflower seeds that fall from the bird feeders in the yard.

The chickadees are still here!  I see a Downy Woodpecker and a Flicker now and then too.

Several evenings lately I've seen and heard a Great Horned Owl hooting and barking from the limb of the old Cottonwood.  I think he's a young one.  As I walk home from the chicken coop at sunset, there he is, and each time I go in for my camera he flies -- he's young and nervous.  One of these days I'll capture him on film or video.  I'd love for you to hear him "talk."  Listen here for a sample of what he says.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Every story whispers His name...

Whenever we have the Littles at our house, God shows me new things or refreshes old things.  He is so good that way.  I love to read aloud to the grands and so last night I grabbed one of my favorite children's bible storybooks -- The Jesus Storybook Bible -- and told a story.  I chose David and Goliath.  It's funny how little ones can wiggle and fidget around while you are reading, making you think they aren't listening or getting anything at all, but indeed they are.  I remember that with my own children when they were young -- that's God refreshing my memory.  Anyway, after we read that story we read the story of the Nativity, "He is Here!"  The way Sally Lloyd-Jones tells the story is just so amazing to me.  It's so heartfelt, so simple, so easy to hear, and so true.  Listen to the end of the story from the nativity, "Mary and Joseph named him Jesus, 'Emmanuel' -- which means 'God has come to live with us.'  Because, of course, he had." 

After I had finished reading, Peach decided that she would like to read a story to me (and to her little sister).  She always finds the very smallest, old books of mine that are far over her head as far as reading goes, but they are the perfect size for four-year-old hands to hold and they have lots of words written in them which she loves to see.  This little girl does not really know how to read, of course, but she makes up her own stories to pretend-read, and I love to listen to her stories.  The story she told was about how God changed a mean lady into a nice lady because He wanted to.  Woven into the story were words like, "God always wins" and "He loved her and wanted her to be nice" and "God loves people and wants to save them from their sins."  I doubt Peach knows what sins are, but she knows God can take them away.  Another story she told incorporated the shining stars (from the nativity) and how "God makes everything because He loves us."  Spirit-words soaked into her spirit, and life-words spoke through her lips.  I thought to myself, "Truly, out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise... (Matt 21:16)" 

As I thought about this sweet time, I called back to the days when I read God's Word to my own children.  Even to this day they have each told me how they loved that time together, and my youngest who is now 20 years old tells me how he misses that time with me.  I always prayed quietly that God would plant the seed of His Word into my children and let it grow and produce fruit.  Now I am seeing again through new (older) eyes God planting seeds again -- this time in my grandchildren -- and it's a beautiful thing.

If you have Littles in your life, I highly recommend this paraphrased version of Bible stories for children.  I sometimes read it for myself because I like it so much and always, always God shows me something new or something beautiful.  It would make a wonderful Christmas gift for a family, for a grandparent, or for a special child.  It's The Jesus Storybook Bible (Every story whispers his name) by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Natural coconut oil deodorant...

I know it's weird to share a deodorant recipe while other bloggers are posting their most delicious  Thanksgiving recipes ever and beautiful holiday tablescapes, but I wanted to share something with you that I really do love -- coconut oil deodorant.  This all-natural deodorant works! If it can keep a sweaty ranchwife like me smelling sweet, it'll keep you smelling fresh as a daisy. This is not an antiperspirant so it won't stop you from sweating, but it will keep the stink away. I have been using coconut oil deodorant for several months, and I made a fresh batch of it today.  It's easy to make, takes only four household ingredients, and you can make it in about 5 minutes.  And did I works?! 

Coconut Oil Deodorant
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil (opt. fragrance)
  • 3-4 drops patchouli essential oil (opt. fragrance)
  1. In a medium bowl sift arrowroot and baking soda. Add coconut oil and essential oils. 
  2. Using a fork, combine well (as if you were cutting butter into flour). 
  3. Next, using the back of a large serving spoon, press the mixture together to work it into a smooth paste. 
  4. Pack mixture into a glass jelly jar (1/2 cup) and it's ready to use. Store at room temperature as you would any deodorant. 
To use:
Scoop a small amount onto your fingertip and apply to underarms. Your body heat will almost instantly melt it and you can easily rub it in. 
Note: For people who like an "invisible" deodorant, this may not be the one. The baking soda and arrowroot may leave a bit of white under your arm, I don't find it to be much at all, or a big deal. 

    ~Recipe from Beauty That Moves

Update:  I made some of this deodorant recipe for my daughter and she's having a red bumpy rash reaction.  I think it is the baking soda so I am going to make some without the soda and decrease the coconut oil by half.  We'll see what that does.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chilly happy weekend...

It was a cold, cold, cold day here today.  There is a little bit of snow on the ground and quite a lot of frost.  We had foggy mist for two days in a row which collected on the bare tree branches and then it turned frigid.  In the afternoon sun, the branches looked like glass.  YoungestSon came home for a long weekend from Tucson where he goes to college.  He says he has officially arrived on the Frozen Tundra.  Yes indeed!  From 95 sunny degrees to a raw 15 degrees is a great leap.  The whole family was out to the ranch today for a visit.  What a Royal Rumpus we had!  There were squealing little girls, rough-housing, gun-shooting young men, chatty grandmas, napping grandpas, and visiting mommies.  It was great -- the stuff memories are made of.

Sunday, November 04, 2012


It's November already.
Time to make the needle and thread fly!
I have a few fun projects to complete before Ho! Ho!
(Dating Dishware pattern here.)

The only gift is a portion of thyself.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Good-For-You Muffins...

These muffins are quite brown due to the fact that I accidentally dumped a lot of cinnamon in them.  
Still good, so dump in all you want.  Cinnamon is good for you.

This past month, hubby and I have been trying to be good --good in the way of eating healthier and smarter.  We have been working at consuming less carbs, less fat, and almost no sugar.  Wow, what a difference it makes!  Hubby has always been a candy lover and I have always been a baked goods lover and so shedding the sugar has given us much more energy and less weight.

We have really steered clear of anything sweet except for protein bars which are quite low in sugar, but I have been wanting just a little something home-baked that would be tasty and good for us too.  So I decided  to revise my old Good-for-You Muffin recipe to make it even more healthy without compromising taste.  In the past few weeks I found and tried a recipe for some high-protein muffins.  I hate to waste, but I admit to you, I threw them out to the chickens.  Tip:  don't use whey protein powder to make muffins -- ever ever!  Ick, ick, ick! 

One new-to-me discovery is LSA.  LSA stands for Linseed (another name for flax seed), Sunflower, Almond.  It's real power food—a great source of essential omega 3 oils, protein-building amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. The benefits of LSA are not just in what it provides, but what it reduces. Almonds will actually lower the glycemic index of accompanying foods.  The vitamin E and selenium in sunflower seeds will help neutralize destructive 'free radical' molecules, and the omega oils in flax seed have anti-inflammatory properties and can help in healing a surprising number of degenerative conditions. It is best to use raw nuts and seeds.  I made it simply in the kitchen blender.  Just remember 3, 2, 1.  Three (3) parts linseed, 2 parts sunflower seed, and 1 part almonds.  Dump them into the blender and grind into a course meal.  Add LSA to muffins, on top of cereal, salads, or anywhere you wish to add more nutrition.  Be sure to store the LSA in the fridge in an airtight jar or container.  This article on LSA is excellent and gives good tips for making, storing, and eating it.

Now for the delicious Good-For-You Muffins

1 1/2 c. grated carrots or zucchini or combo
1/4 c. coconut oil (melted)
1/4 c. honey
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. rolled oats
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. shredded coconut
1/3 c. LSA mix *

Mix wet ingredients together and then add the dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Divide batter into 12 greased muffin cups.  Bake 350* for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition:  160 calories (each) 9.9 g. carbs, 4 g. fat, 4.6 g. protein,
6 g. sugar  (my rough calculations)

*To make LSA Mix:  combine 3 parts flax seed (linseed), 2 parts sunflower seeds, 1 part almonds.  Grind into a course flour in the blender.  Store in fridge.


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