Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Warblers everywhere!

Sunday I sighted the first warber,
a Yellow-rumped Warbler,
but didn't get a good photo of him.

Today, there are warblers everywhere!
All yellow-rumped.... so far.
These little guys are about 4-3/4"

(click up photos to enlarge)

Bright, bright sunshiny day....

Catching some rays in the backyard,
Catching up on my magazines,

Catching some breeze in my sleeves....

Catching some wind in my jeans.
It's been a bright, bright sunshiny day!

I can see clearly now the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way,
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
It's gonna be a bright (bright),
bright (bright) sunshiny day.
It's gonna be a bright (bright),
bright (bright) sunshiny day.

~Johnny Nash 1976

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday afternoon bird-watching...

Click up pictures for a better look.

I really wasn't sure about identifying these birds. They've been hanging around the stock pond near our house for a week or two. I knew they were in the sandpiper family, but which? Today, after sitting along the bank, watching and observing the little details, I figured it out.

The top two photos are of the Lesser Yellowlegs. We also have the Greater Yellowlegs, but I didn't snap a good enough photo of him. The largest clue to the mystery was the yellow legs (of course). I knew if I could figure out the call, I'd know it on the spot. So I went to Enature.com and clicked up a few of my bird-guesses and this one's call hit the nail on the head. I like the Enature site because it usually has excellent bird calls so be sure to take a listen! It is really amazing how many little details it takes to identify the exact bird, but once you recognize them, you know better next time what to look for when you're out birding.....calls, flight patterns, body size, beaks, wing and tail markings, and even leg color. They all add up to the right bird identification.

I wish this picture was clearer, but I took it from a long way off and tried to crop it up close. This is the Wilson's Phalarope. These, for me, are easy to ID. They love to swim round and round in circles, stirring up the bugs to eat. They're just like little wind-up toys and they make a sweet little low-pitched "chek, chek" sound as they stir. They have long yellow legs a long, needle-like beak and the prettiest stripe that starts at the eye and goes down the neck and fading into a reddish color on the breast and wings. My field guide says they are uncommon, but they are always here on our stock dams in spring and summer.

Here is the Sharp-shinned Hawk, similar to the Cooper's Hawk, but the tiny detail of the tail color and notching identified him. He was perched in the willow in my backyard near the bird feeders. The songbirds kept well away while he watched. One time I found this same hawk dead near our John Deere tractor bucket. There was a little sparrow dead right next to him. Evidently, the hawk was chasing down the sparrow and they both collided with the tractor's bucket.

I saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler today while I was sitting on the bank. He caught my eye, but he was a long way off and the only way I could see him very well was with Hubby's wonderful Leupold field glasses. I couldn't get a good photo. I tried to find a good online photo for you, but nothing looked as good as what I saw today. The best photo is here at Morningside Family. Laura and her family are bird watchers in NYC and they spotted the Yellow-rumped Warbler too!

One more site you might enjoy is High Desert Home where Susan enjoys birding in Oregon. She's seeing the Northern Flicker and Sandhill Cranes right now.

I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.
~Emily Dickinson

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Java towel

You know I like to embroider, right? And tea towels are so much fun because I can get really creative as I think about the person I am giving them to. Well, I just recently stitched a "Java Towel" (instead of a tea towel) for a friend's birthday. Yes, she loves her coffee too!

I've been busy with lots of other things, but sometimes I need a Needle & Thread Fix. Do you ever feel like that?

Don't ask me where these cute pots and mugs came from. My DIL brought over something she printed out on her computer. I enlarged them a little bit on my copier and then traced them onto the towel. Aren't they cute? I only wished that I had a little vintage rick rack to add to the bottom edge.

I do have a terrific source for sturdy flour sack dish towels. It's the best price I've found and the towels are of highest quality. American Chair Store offers a 30x30" flour sack towel that I love to embroider on and I use them hard in my own kitchen. For some fun, free, vintage embroidery patterns, go to Needlecrafter.com . The free designs are here and you'll find scads of designs in each category. Another hand embroidery pattern site is Pattern Bee . She's got some great vintage patterns for sale and some free stuff you can print.

What are you stitching?

Diana from Knit This Too asked in the comments how I colored in the mugs and things in my Java Towel. This is an old, old technique that people used to do in the 40's and 50's. You use a color crayon (yes, crayolas) and color in the pattern like a coloring page. Be sure to wash your towel first to remove sizing. You can iron a piece of freezer paper to the back to stabilize it as you apply the color. Go ahead and color in your pattern. Set the color with a hot iron using a pressing cloth so you don't get any crayon on your iron, remove freezer paper, then embroider. I have heard of this technique used for making quilt blocks too. Try it, it's fun!

Laughter is inner jogging.
~Norman Cousins

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quilt Give-away.....

Camille is having a quilt give-away at her site in celebration of her 1st year of owning her own business. Go take a L@@K at her adorable, amazing, creative, fabulous quilts! Hurry, time's running out!
Read about the giveaway and see the quilt HERE. She started a new spot to enter here. Tell her Gumbo Lily sent you. Good luck!

These boots were made for sloshin'....

Finally! I got to wear my new rain boots out in the weather!

I call these my sweet girly mud & muck camo boots. Whadayathink? I thought the brown background would blend in nicely with the mud, and the hearts would bring a little funky-fun color and a feminine touch as I muck around the ranch .

Today it was cloudy all day long and the mercury never got above 38 degrees. It wasn't bad outside....no wind which is a blessing. But at about 4:00 p.m. it began to snow. Big, feathery, thick flakes floating down just as if there was a great pillow fight in Heaven! It was mesmerizing! I just had to take a walk in it! So I pulled on my cute boots and yelled for the dogs and we took off through the mud and snow and sloshed around for a mile or so while meadowlarks and blackbirds serenaded us along the way. It seems the birds just go crazy over this wet weather. Glorious! The grass is really going to shoot up after this good, soaking snow. Maybe it'll rain tomorrow!

Hubby and Sons took the cows that haven't calved yet to the Big Shed for the night, just in case a new baby would be born. We don't want any chilled calves overnight.

Just in case you're interested, I found these boots on Zappos here. There are quite a few styles to choose from! And whadayaknow......after I bought them, I saw the cutest pair at Wal Mart! Pink Plaid!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sun tanning.....

I walked by the stock pond by our house a couple of days ago and saw this turtle sunning himself on a rock so I just had to dash back to the house to click his picture. I was certain he'd plop back into the water by the time I returned, but no, he stayed. And he even let me get close enough to get a decent shot. Most of the time when I see turtles basking in the sun, they see me first and hide underneath the water. He must have been enjoying his sun tanning so much that I was the least of his concerns. Notice how stretched out he is and how he made his neck wide to soak in as much sun as possible.

Do you see Myrtle Turtle's head poking up through the water? I'll bet she'd like a turn on that rock too! Signs of spring!

We have the Western Painted Turtle up in our neck-of-the-woods. The shell bottom has a pretty yellow and red design that looks as though it is painted on. They like weedy freshwater ponds like we have.

Take a look at the bright yellow heads on these blackbirds. Bet you can't guess their names.....
Yellow-headed Blackbird. How original is that? That's how we name our animals here too. We once had a brown horse named "Browny" and the blue-gray tomcat is named "Blue." Blue's son carries the name "Blue's Revenge." Now, notice the blackbirds with the red/white wing patch. The male's patch is mostly red and they take the name Red-winged Blackbird (another original name). Click here to read more about the Yellow-headed Blackbird and hear the terrific call he has. I call the blackbirds the "Rock 'n' Roll Band" of the avian kingdom, you'll hear why.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I just finished this cute little drawstring lettuce keeper, copying unabashedly from Thimbleanna's project here. You might notice the red mesh bag laying underneath it and wonder, "What on Earth Day is that about?" Well, my DIL thinks I'm a little bit wacko with my idea, but again, it was not entirely MY idea, but some other smart lady's idea whom I cannot recall nor give the credit. This red mesh sack that once held ice pops, is my Salad Spinner. You probably only know salad spinners similar to this one, but I have to tell you, my Red Mesh Spinner beats them all for efficiency, storage, and for practicality. And since it's Earth Day, you might as well go find your onion bag, neatly fold it and drop it into the drawer for a spinner-of-your-own rather than dumping it into the trash.

My salad spinner really does work fabulously! All you have to do is take your freshly picked (or bought) greens and throw them into a sinkful of cold water. Allow the greens to soak and sort out the bad leaves. Rinse again. Then gently put the greens by the handful into your mesh bag. When loaded, take the whole thing out to the front lawn (so God and everybody can see you spin). Grip the end of the bag closed and twirl your arm or wrist round and round until no more water spins out of the bag. Now your greens are nice and dry. Bring them in and dump into a cute lettuce bag like mine, a clean container with a lid, or another storage bag and stow in the veggie bin in your frig. This also works with herbs and any other vegetable that you might consider spinning.

Addendum: the cotton storage bag should be used short-term, perhaps one or two days, although I have had spinich in mine for 3 days and it's still crisp.

For another article with my thoughts on living green, or practically as I call it, click here. For my latest 2 cents on the topic of "being green," just keep on reading........

I do not succumb to making cupboards out of recycled cans, bamboo, and sea kelp to prove that I am earth conscience. But my family and I do things that we feel not only help us in our ranching industry, but which also help habitat and the wildlife who depend on it. We usually plant new shelter belts (tree belts) yearly or replace trees that have died out in old tree rows. The shelter belts not only block the wind and the elements for our livestock, but also provide much habitat and food for birds. We take good care of our pastures, rotating livestock around so that the grasses are never "eaten down" to the bare earth. This is good, practical management for ranching and good for the land. We dig new stock ponds to catch water, but which also provide waterfowl habitat and water sources for wildlife.

At home, I recycle everything I can -- refinishing an old dresser rather than buying a new one, planting gardens that provide natural, good foods for my family, I preserve foods in canning jars which are reused again and again. I've been cleaning with more natural cleaners and am using less laundry detergent (measuring carefully). I'm not trying to get carbon points from big factories or industries, I'm not doing things that are WAY out of the ordinary for me, but I am conscious of the world that God placed me in and I know He expects me to be a good steward of it. Some reasons why I do the things I do are because of practicality, frugality, and simple resourcefulness, not because I am an ultra-green awareness geek. That's my story. Nothing flashy, just simple living that has worked for me for longer than the Green Movement has been in existence.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Showers of love....

Yesterday was G's bridal shower and it truly was a showering of gifts and love from so many family members and good friends. I've been waiting until this special day to tell you about the gift I made for my daughter.

I had it in my mind for a long time that I would compile many of my tried-and-true recipes into one spot and make a cookbook. I had many recipes in my computer files and when I felt that I had everything entered, I still had the task of publishing them some way. I figured I'd use some pretty paper and clear plastc page covers and organize them into a 3 ring binder that I would decorate somehow. Well, the more I thought about it, the more I saw another HUGE, overwhelming job towering before me. So I went online to find some ideas and help. That's when I ran into Taste Books. Oh my goodness! This was an answer to my prayers.
I began to study the Taste Book site, examined samples like this one from Elise on Simply Recipes, and I was SOLD! I figured that $34.95 was about the price of one colored ink cartridge for my printer, and I was sure that it would take me all of that to start production on this project on my own. Plus, I could never achieve the results that Taste Book could offer me. So I did it! I entered over 100 of my recipes on Taste Book's site (copy/paste) and added quotes, notes, family memoirs, descriptions, and even photos of the recipes or of the people I received them from! From my recipes, I selected 99 for G's cookbook. You can put up to 100 in each Taste Book, but if you only put in 50, for instance, Taste Book gives you credit to add another 50 recipe pages of your choice.

After I was all done, I chose a title: "G's I Do Cookbook," entered my credit card information and my order was in progress. The cookbook was printed within 5 days of my submission and shipped immediately. I was absolutely THRILLED with the results and after the shower gift was delivered yesterday, The Bride was thrilled too. A number of the guests asked how I did it and so I gave my source to them gladly. Many of the women there had daughters who were soon-to-be-brides and they thought that a personalized cookbook would be a fantastic Christmas gift to work toward. After writing my first book..... a cookbook, my sons are now bugging me to make them one. Won't this be a terrific idea for birthdays or Christmas?

I think I'll be gradually adding more and more of my recipes to the Taste Book data base and hopefully, I'll be able to write even more cookbooks to share with the ones I love.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Luscious twists are a twIsT on the cinnamon roll.
I made these today as I was having a baking day and thought it might be a special treat for my guys. (Of course, I ate a few too. This is MY plate)

The recipe is from The Buffalo Lutheran Parish Cookbook and the recipe itself is Margaret Nelson's. She's been out here ranching on the Montana prairie much, much longer than I have. She and I both know that a ranchgirl has to have something sweet now and then, and these fit the bill! They're a nice treat for visitors too.


1 c. sour cream
1 T. butter
1 t. salt
3 c. flour
1 pkg. yeast
3 T. sugar
1 egg, beaten

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 c. of warm water with a sprinkle of sugar. Heat sour cream to lukewarm and then add everything but the flour. Mix well. Add 1 c. of the flour, beat until smooth. Then add the rest of the flour gradually. Knead 5-10 minutes. (I usually skip this part) Let rise one hour. Roll out to a 26x6" rectangle. Butter and sprinkle it with brown sugar and cinnamon. Fold over -- wide end to wide end. Cut into about 24 strips with pizza cutter. On a large cookie sheet, put 1/2 c. melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Twist the strips and lay them into the pan. Let rise one hour. Bake at 375* for 12-15 minutes.


1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 to 2 T. hot water
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 T. melted butter

Mix and glaze the twists while still warm.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Feminine Appeal....

Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother
by Carolyn Mahaney

I've been taking my time, reading a really wonderful book that I hereby officially highly recommend to all of you women and to those young women whom you know and love. I was first introduced to Carolyn Mahaney via a CD set that a dear friend, Joyce loaned me. From there, I picked up this book. Carolyn Mahaney is wife of 25+ years to pastor C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Let me share with you an excerpt that has really drawn my attention and my prayers.
Are you in love with your husband? Not, Do you love him? I know you do. He has
been around for a long time, and you're used to him. He is the father of
your chilren. But are you in love with him? How long has it been since your
heart really squeezed when you looked at him?....Why is it you have
forgotten the things that attracted you to him at first?.....Your husband
needs to be told that you love him, that he is attractive to you. By the
grace of God, I want you to start changing your thought pattern. Tomorrow
morning, get your eyes off the toaster or the baby bottles long enough to
LOOK at him. Don't you see the way his coat fits his shoulders? Look at his
hands. Do you remember when just to look at his strong hands made your heart
lift? Well, LOOK at him and remember. Then loose your tongue and tell him
you love him. Will you ask the Lord to give you a sentimental, romantic,
physical, in-love kind of love for your husband? He will do this.
~This quote is actually from Shirley Rice, but it is nearly a whole page worth in this book.

Chapter titles are:
  1. Transformed by Titus 2

  2. The Delight of Loving My Husband

  3. The Blessing of Loving My Children

  4. The Safety of Self-Control

  5. The Pleasure of Purity

  6. The Honor of Working at Home

  7. The Rewards of Kinidness

  8. The Beauty of Submission

  9. Margaret's Story

Feminine Appeal has been a good "coffee break" book for me. Just a little bit every afternoon. I also recommend Carolyn's blog, Girl Talk. She team blogs with her daughters and together, they really know how to uplift a girl like me. I know you'll be refreshed too!

"Isn't it telling that our culture requires training and certification for so many vocations of lesser importance but hands us marriage and motherhood without instruction?"

~Carolyn Mahaney

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A wedding and a community....

Art: The Village Wedding by Sir Luke Fildes 1883

Our only daughter is getting married May 31st, and so, as you might imagine, we are in Full-Swing Wedding Mode. We've been in this mode for quite a while, but as the days draw closer for The Big Day, all the little details that seemed so high and far away have trickled down to fill our Bucket of Things to Do.

I just recently called a local restaurant to see about catering the afternoon wedding lunch which would consist of sandwiches, salads, fruit and Wedding Cake. Really, I didn't think it could possibly be too large a task nor too great a bill since it would be a "food only" catering. Our dear Church Ladies offered to serve the reception and handle the details as well as the clean up, so what could 200 croissant sandwiches and a couple of salads cost? $1800! My oh my, Dear Daughter was not up for that price and thought it was an April Fools joke, and I was sure we could do better. So after many phone calls here and there, we asked one of our friends who is also one of the Church Ladies who offered to serve, if she would consider making the salads. "Of course!" was the answer. Since then this friend has been calling to make sure she has the recipes exactly the way we'd like them. The Church Ladies also offered to make the sandwiches, set up the fruit trays, brew the coffee and every other little thing that would need doing before a wedding reception. What a blessing! You know, there's just nothing like a community of people who know one another and love one another and who want to serve each other. Isn't this what life's about? Giving, serving, loving, sharing? And what a more joyous time than at a wedding?

The Bride is a leader in our church's youth group and some of the young ladies have asked if they might be able to attend the wedding. Some of the girls she knows well, others, not so well, but how do you tell an admiring, sweet girl no, I have already filled my guest list? So she asked a few of her girls if they would like to be a part of her wedding by helping out with the serving. Yes, they would! So now to add to the service of the women, the girls will be there alongside the older women learning how to make sandwiches, set a buffet table, mix punch, serve coffee, sweep floors, do dishes and smile all the while....true, practical mentoring at its best!

Not my photo, but the idea is what we're shooting for.

Hubby's sister has offered to take the pictures, another friend is giving her small wedding bells with ribbons tied in the colors of the wedding to set on each table, a sister-in-law to-be is giving her wedding tulle to help with decorating, another friend is offering to set up the tables and seating arrangements as well as helping with the decorating and serving. Grandma brought us together to make wedding mints last month and the mother-in-law to-be offered her experience in chocolate-dipping pretzels for all the tables. Together, many hands, make light work and share in the blessing of giving and being a part of G&M's Wedding Day. I am so grateful to God for the community of believers he has placed us in. There's just something special about being a be a part of someone's Big Day, even if it's in washing the dishes or pouring punch into glasses. One can say, "I was there, I witnessed it, I helped, I saw the joy, I was a part of it, I gave....."

I'm so thankful.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Doughnut Supper....

Usually during spring calving and lambing I make doughnuts. It's just something that must be done. This past week it snowed again so this called for a doughnut supper. Just doughnuts, that's all, nothing else. We like our doughnuts in various ways.... dipped in sugar, sprinkled with powdered sugar, drizzled with vanilla frosting glaze.

Springs on the northern prairie are not always warm and bright, but mostly drizzly, snowy, rainy and cold. Just today it decided to rain. We're rejoicing that it's rain and not snow, but we know that the possibility is there that we could awake to a layer of white stuff on the ground in the morning. The upcoming week the weatherman is calling for drizzly, snowy, chilly weather -- just perfect for doughnuts. Here's my recipe.

Raised Doughnuts

Combine and let stand for 3 minutes:

1 c warm water (not hot)
2 packages dry yeast

Sift and stir in:
1 c. flour
Cover this sponge and let rise about 30 minutes in a warm place.

Beat in:
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. sugar
2-3 eggs (added one at a time)
1 t. salt
3 1/2 c. flour (added gradually)

Beat for five minutes. Cover and let dough rise about 1 hour or until double in size. Punch down and then roll out on a well-floured cupboard. Roll out to approx. 1/4" and let it set for a few minutes. Then cut out with round cutter with hole or else cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Strips should be about 1" wide by long. Fold a strip in half and twist it together.

Heat Crisco in large pan to about 320-350*.

Before frying fold a strip in half and twist together and gently put into grease. Turn when golden and drain on paper towels. Drizzle powder sugar glaze or dip into sugar or cinnamon sugar OR leave plain. Best eaten while warm, but they do heat up in the microwave well.

I learned to make the doughnut twists after reading the book Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved reading this book to my kids. Almanzo’s mom made doughnuts practically every day and she twisted them because she said they would turn over in the hot oil without her help. She thought the new-fangled round doughnut was way too much work. And she didn't have time to waste! (I love a woman who sticks with the easiest ways to keep house!)

Artisan-ish bread....

I've been baking bread for 26 years and there's still so much to learn! Especially nowadays when all the rage is artisan breads..... those crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside loaves that you can buy from your fine, local bakeries. I don't have a fine, local bakery so I have to BE THE BAKERY instead. Clarice, from Storybook Woods sic'd me onto a great little recipe that's so easy to make and the results are very artisan, don't you think? The recipe comes from Jeff Hertzberg, author of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The title sounds catchy, doesn't it? And it's fairly true, except that you really have to be "around" to make bread. This Deli-Style Rye recipe really makes a great little bread. Tasty, easy-to-make, pretty to look at, and mostly healthy. (Isn't anything healthier than that gooey store bread that you can squeeze down to the size of a gum ball?)

Give this recipe a shot. It's worth your time, and really, it isn't a lot of fuss like most people think bread-making is. A few notes here.....I don't have a pizza peel or bakinig stone, but the instructions allow for that. I used a parchment-lined cookie sheet. The other thing I found was that if you give the dough a day or more in the frig, you will get better rising results on your loaves when you bake them. I made my first loaf the day I made the dough, but made two other loaves a few days later and they raised much better than the first. I also added 2 T. olive oil to the dough. I think it makes a more tender crumb. Oh, and one more little change-a-roo I made was to use an egg white wash (1 egg white whisked with a tablespoon of water) for the top. The seeds and things stick better with this way. (I can't help it, I always mess with a recipe!)

One more thing to add before I sign off. Last night I made the most terrific recipe for a Reuben sandwich that we've ever had! It's a Rachael Ray recipe called Jumbo Reuben Loaf and the good news.....it takes only 30 minutes or less to make! I used the two loaves you see here for my bread and it was truly delish! My Hub always makes the comment, "How much would this cost you at a restaurant?" whenever he really likes the chow. And yep, he said it last night! I'm copying the recipe here because Food Network takes so long to download. One note about this recipe, I don't like the spices in my cabbage/kraut, so I omitted everything except the nutmeg. I also used balsamic vinegar (only 1-2 T.) instead of the red wine vinegar. We didn't make the sauce for the sandwich. YUM-O!

Jumbo Reuben Loaf
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray
30 Minute Meals

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small (1 1/2 pounds) red cabbage, quartered, cored and shredded
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup red wine or cider vinegar
1 large pumpernickel, rye or sourdough bread from bakery counter
1/2 pound deli sliced corned beef
1/2 pound deli sliced smoked turkey
1/2 pound deli sliced pastrami
1/2 pound sliced Swiss cheese
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
1 cup chili sauce

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. To very hot skillet add vegetable oil, bay, garlic, cabbage, cloves, cinnamon stick and nutmeg. Cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes, then add in the grill seasoning and brown sugar and toss to coat. Add vinegar, cook off 2 minutes then remove from heat and let stand. Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut 1 inch off bread across the whole loaf to remove the top. Remove the soft insides of the bread to form a bread bowl. Pile half the cabbage into base of the bread. Fill bread with meats and Swiss cheese. Place filled bread into the oven to melt the Swiss. Top melted cheese with the remaining seared pickled cabbage. Slather the top with sweet pickle relish mixed with chili sauce and set bread top into place. The loaf will appear whole and empty to the eye. Pack to travel or serve on cutting board. Cut the loaf into 6 sections and serve.

"How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?"
~Julia Child


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