Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gr'annie git yer gun...

 The bully, the grackle.  He looks like a bully, and he is!

I am a bird lover.  I appreciate each individual bird for its own sake and I like each one in its especial environment, but what I do not like are bullies at the bird feeders.  Day after day, I fill my feeders and as soon as the lovely goldfinches and evening grosbeaks show up and start nibbling, the obnoxious grackles and blackbirds swoop down and dominate the feeding stations, chasing the little ones away. Today I had had it Up To Here with the bullies and I aimed to do something about it.

I marched myself out to the garage and found the old pump-style BB gun that the kids used to shoot.  For years my sharp-shooting sons and daughter were the ones who were perched out of the office window taking aim at the backyard bullies for me, but nowadays I've got no dead-eye punks to do any shooting for me so I had to take matters into my own hands.  I fiddled with the gun quite a while until NumberOneSon drove up and showed me what I was doing wrong -- not pushing the BB up into the chamber.  Now this granny was armed and dangerous!

I sat in the backyard reading my current book, Killing Lincoln, drinking chai tea, and keeping a sharp eye on the Willow Tree where the culprits were most likely to land and be within BB gun range.  My first bully flew in and hopped down close enough.  Pop!  I was one for one.  I left the bird on the ground as fair warning to the next passers by.  I sat cross legged, gun over my knees and read for quite some time and noticed that several grackles and blackbirds flew overhead, but chose not to come down and bully.  I think I looked quite intimidating to them!  In the meantime, the nuthatches and evening grosbeaks happily flitted here and there, nabbing a seed at their leisure seemingly enjoying themselves.  I felt as if I was defending the defenseless, championing the little guy, helping the helpless.  

Since my backyard job, I've taken to window sniping.  I removed the screen from the office window once again and have my BB gun lying on the desk at the ready.  It seems the backyard is a quieter, kinder place since I've taken up arms.  Well now, I hear that familiar squawk and I see there's a grackle perched on the feeder.  Time to cock the rifle!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rose water made from your own roses....

Every time I see the rambling rose bush in a riot of yellow blooms, I want to make something rosy-smelling with the petals.  There are SO many, many petals that fall each day, that a lady could make gobs of rose water in a couple weeks while the bush is still blooming. Today while Toodles was napping, Peach and I went over and plucked handfuls of yellow roses petals and stuffed them into mason jars.

Honestly, at first I wasn't sure what I'd do with the rose water.  I tried making a "lotion.", but I ended up with a bowl of oily rose water with a scum of beeswax on the top -- I guess it didn't emulsify.  Perhaps I don't know what I'm doing which wouldn't be the first time!  Upon hunting through the interwebs, I found these useful ideas:

  1. Refreshing mist: Pour rose water into a spray bottle and store in the fridge.  Use as a cooling mist to refresh yourself on hot days, spraying on face, neck and chest.  Or carry a small mister in your purse to freshen make-up.  It won't run, but instead, moisturizes.
  2. Toner: Soak a cotton pad and wipe over face to remove dirt and oil.  Use it for treating acne and skin irritations; rose water nourishes and hydrates your skin at any age.
  3. Hair rinse: Work a palmful of rose water through your hair after conditioning. Leave for 1-2 minutes, then rinse. 
  4. Light face/body moisturizer: mix together equal portions of rose water and glycerin.  This product doesn’t contain preservatives, so use it within a few days.
  5. Light scent: When it’s too hot to use traditional perfume, dab rose water on both wrists and neck for a summery, refreshing scent.
  6. Sunburn and bug bites: Rose water is a natural anti-inflammatory tonic and can be applied as a topical treatment for sunburns and allergic skin.
  7. Bath: add a few tablespoons to a warm bath for added relaxation and moisturizing.
  8. Dry Skin Treatment:  Mix together rose water, milk and honey with some oatmeal to form a paste and use it as a nourishing face mask.
  9. Make Rose Syrup:  recipe from Storybook Woods and one from Epicurious.
  10. Rose Recipes for ice cream and cocktails here and here.
  11. Laundry Mist: Pour  a couple tablespoons into a spray bottle and fill with water filtered water.  Use to mist clothes when ironing.
  12. Freshen up bedding by spraying rose water mist on pillowcases and sheets, let air dry, make bed.
  13. Give for gifts.  Print this vintage French Rose perfume label and add to the bottle.

Quick Method for Making Rosewater

*Gather fresh, fragrant rose petals and pack them tightly in a jar.

*When you get home, bring some filtered or distilled water to a boil.  Pour about 3 cups over petals, cover lightly with jar lid.  No need to put the screw-on top over the lid.  Steep for 20 minutes.

*Strain petals from water.  I used a coffee filter and my coffee funnel to strain out the tiny particles from my rose water, but you could use your coffee pot filter holder and do the same thing, or you could use a strainer with a coffee filter or cheese cloth.

*Allow rose water to cool to room temperature without a lid.  Then add a clean lid and screw top and store in the fridge.

Here is a more complex method of making rosewater. 

Tonight after my face washing, I will apply some lovely scented rose water to my face and see if it adds its goodness to my complexion.  I think my girls might enjoy a bottle for their beauty needs too. 

Addendum:  Since there are no preservatives in this rosewater, I am going to freeze some of it in ice cube trays and store them in ziplock bags so I can have fresh rosewater anytime.

The Rose Family

The rose is a rose,
And was always a rose.
But the theory now goes
That the apple's a rose,
And the pear is, and so's
The plum, I suppose.
The dear only knows
What will next prove a rose.
You, of course, are a rose -
But were always a rose.
~Robert Frost

(yes, you are!)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Magnesium, the miracle mineral...

I'm no doctor.  I'm no nutritionist, but I am a human being with a body that knows its limitations and its struggles.  I know about aches and pains, fatigue and restlessness, mood swings and mental fuzziness.  It is interesting to me that so many of the "symptoms" I have point directly to magnesium deficiency.

I didn't come upon the miracle mineral directly, but rather it was indirectly when I was doing some research about breast health.  I had a mammogram come back that was not satisfactory to the radiologist so I had a re-do and still, he was not happy with it.  Later I went in for an ultra-sound with a surgeon who would do a needle biopsy.  As it turned out, the doctor was not convinced it was a necessary procedure.  At that point, I was a little scared and nervous and wanted to understand more about breast health in ways other than self examinations, which I had always been diligent about, and yearly mammograms.

In my searching I stumbled upon vitamin D3 and read lots and lots of articles about its benefits to breast health as well as for immune health.  The sunshine vitamin is truly good for what ails ya,  and most of us, even in sunny climes, don't get enough.  Those of us who live above the state of Georgia certainly don't get enough D and especially during the fall and winter months.  When I read an article by Kerri Knox, RN who shared that raising a woman's vitamin D levels could reduce her chance of getting breast cancer by HALF, I went to the store and bought some D3.  I took it for a couple months before the next ultrasound/biopsy was scheduled and the surgeon who was viewing the live ultra-sound and comparing it to the old snapshots said he saw improvement!  I have been taking D3 ever since and try to get my natural vitamin D through sunshine whenever I can.  My last mammogram came back fine.  I also found myself to be far more healthy through the cold and flu season after taking D.

It was through the research I did on breast health and vitamin D that I found more information about magnesium.  I thought it was a fairly normal thing as I aged to have more aches and pains, to feel tired and a bit fuzzy-brained, but as it turns out, these are just a few symptoms of low magnesium levels.  I had always, ever since I started having babies, had terrible low back pain.  There were times when I was totally incapacitated from the horrible back spams and pain.  I lived with it.  There was a point when I thought to myself, "Well, this is your fate.  You will just have to live with it."  That was before I found magnesium.  I read this article and also ordered the book The Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND.  Since then, I have listened to pod-casts by Dr. Dean and read more articles about magnesium on The Nutritional Magnesium Asssoc. website and I started a magnesium regiment daily.  I won't say that I am totally cured of every single thing that ails me, but I no longer have the back pain I once woke up with every single morning of my womanly life, nor do I have insomnia or muscle aches and twitches.  There are many, many other symptoms that point to magnesium deficiency, so please check out the links to see if you might benefit from taking magnesium.

Since understanding how much I needed magnesium for my health and well-being, I started working harder at making sure we eat real foods that are high in the mineral -- whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.  I realize that I probably can't/won't eat nearly enough to take me from deficiency to proper levels of magnesium, so I take the supplemental magnesium citrate or magnesium malate.  I have  read that the cheaper version of magnesium supplement, magnesium oxide, is much less absorb-able than the citrate form.  I also like to take Epsom salt baths every now and then as another way to absorb necessary magnesium.

Just for the record, I am in no way connected to Dr. Carolyn Dean nor to any of the other people from the websites I have shared with you.  I don't get kickbacks from the Epsom salts industry nor from the supplement industry.  What I do get is a good health kick from these two supplements and I'm so glad that I found them.  I wanted to share my health happiness with you.  Please read the info for yourself and judge whether or not this is for you, and as always, you may want to consult with your health practitioner or doctor.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Golfing in the Heartland...

 We just got back from the NJCAA Golf Tournament in Newton, Kansas.  We thoroughly enjoyed the drive through farmland and crops, through grazing land and wind, and onto the Sand Creek Station golf club  where we were surrounded by amber waves of grain.  It was beautiful.

 The amber waves of grain.

This was a pretty birdie shot right up next to the pin!  

 Out of 120 players who qualified for the national tourney, our young man placed 30th.  There were very few low rounds posted, but it was totally understandable due to the strong, hot winds that blew each day.  It was totally exhausting and we were so ready to get off the course after every round.  It was a great course and a terrific experience though, and we were glad we were able to go.   

School events are over; now we are moving on to SUMMER!  The Golfer starts his job tomorrow at a local course 70 miles away.  He's going take an apartment in town so we'll probably only get to see him once a week.  The other college son is home and working for us on the ranch this year.  Yay!

 Speaking of summer, look who visited my backyard Columbine flowers today!  
I like butterflies.  We rarely see Swallowtails so this black & yellow beauty was a special gift.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day (embroidery)

Happy Mother's Day to you.
I thought I'd share the small gifts I made for my step-mama and my girls...
Embroidered tea towels with strawberries and their initials.
I made the gift tag with the graphic above and this tutorial from 
(Julia is such a smart tag maker)

Wishing you a peaceful day, sitting on a lawn chair in the sunshine with a gentle breeze blowing through your hair.  I hope you have an cup of coffee or tea on the side table and a good book or some stitching in your hands.
Listen to the birds sing. 
Stop and smell the roses.

Mother Teresa said something I've been thinking a lot about lately.

"We cannot do great things, but we can do small things with great love."
~ Mother Teresa

Happy Mother's Day and thanks for the small things you do with great love.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Once upon a time.....
There was a little girl,
And she had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid.
~Longfellow (from Mother Goose)

The little girl with more than one little curl was me.  And now I am a granny who still has curl right in the middle of her forehead.  Down through the years I've had short hair, long hair, ironed hair, hat hair, frizzy hair and even tried smooth, straight hair.  I have wrestled and wrestled with the curls that God gave me until just a few years ago.  Now you can say I'm "embracing" my curls and it is sure a whole lot easier.  Yesterday Leslie from Wayside Sacraments was talking about natural beauty products for hair on her blog and then later I heard from Joyce at Plain Ol' Vanilla about plopping.  Today....I've been plopped.  Or maybe I should say, I plopped!

Whatever it is, I just tried a drying technique that works especially well for curly girls like me.  I'm an old dog, but I can still learn a new trick or two.  The word is that terry cloth towels should never be used on curly hair.  Yup. All those years and all that frizz!    With plopping (or plunking) it is recommended that you use a T-shirt, a microfiber towel, or a flour sack dish towel for wrapping up the hair to dry.  Basically, you take your wet head, fresh from the shower and plop it over a T-shirt, wrapping your hair up turban style and letting it dry from 10-30 minutes or more.  I think it made a huge difference in drying time and curl.  The curls seemed to be lighter and bouncier and more defined -- not as much frizz as when drying with the diffuser.  Usually when I air dry my hair it gets flat on top, but this method gave a little boost at the roots.  When I diffuse my hair it's pretty good, but any blow drying creates more frizz for me.  I'm so glad I tried this!

After I washed my hair today, I added a pump of clear aloe vera gel (my gel of choice) to my hair and  plopped it and wore the T-turban on my head for about 30 minutes before unwrapping it.  Then I let my hair air dry for bit.  (I had to go outside to help Hubs load up a bull so I got lots of nice fresh air blowing through my locks.)  I did use my curling iron on my bangs a little bit (remember the curl?), but I wouldn't have had to.  That's it.  Not much frizz, lots of defined curl, happy me.  For a tutorial or two on plopping or plunking, click here and here and here too!

Monday, May 07, 2012


You have to live where the cold wind blows, where snow drifts, and where everything freezes over in order to grow rhubarb.  Rhubarb is the fruit of the prairie homesteader.  If you didn't like rhubarb, then you probably didn't get much for *fruit* out on the prairie 'cause there wasn't much else growing.  Some prairies -- not all -- have a few wild plums, some chokecherries, and wild rose hips, but not much else.  Rhubarb plants were carried out to the prairies by homesteaders because they would grow robustly in poor soil and would provide vitamins and minerals every spring to fruit-hungry mouths that had waited all winter long for a tangy bite rhubarb sauce or rhubarb pie.

 Have you ever noticed rhubarb and lilacs growing where an old homestead had once stood?  Tough plants both, withstanding tough times.  I have found rhubarb patches growing in different places here on our ranch in spots where families once tried to prove-up on their 160 acres.  Some homesteaders made it, many did not, but the rhubarb survived. 

I have very fond memories of my grandpa and grandma's farm in eastern South Dakota where there was a rhubarb patch on every farm and rhubarb in most backyards.  We kids used to go pick us a long stalk from their humongous patch and bring it into the house to dip into sugar and eat it raw.  I don't recommend eating rhubarb this way, but kids tend to eat things like raw rhubarb and crab apples despite their parents' warnings of bellyache. 

My own parents carried rhubarb roots from Grandpa & Grandma's farm to their backyard, and I took root cuttings from the folks' plants and rooted them in my own backyard years ago.  I have since moved old plants and split my own rhubarb to grow in various spots in my yard and to share with my daughter in town.  The original mother plant still refuses to give up growing even though I thought I had totally uprooted her to a new spot.  A tiny bit of root lives on.  Hardy plants for a hardy people.

Did you know that rhubarb is packed with vitamins A and C and with minerals potassium, magnesium, and calcium?  No wonder it was considered spring tonic!  All I know is that I like rhubarb best in fresh rhubarb-custard pie with a little vanilla ice cream on the side.  Oh, I have lots and lots of other rhubarb recipes that are delicious, but this is my favorite of all.  Spring has come and summer is on the way when the first rhubarb pie is whacked up.  (Don't watch while I lick the plate.)

Sunday, May 06, 2012


Frawley Homestead

Honey and I went on a road trip yesterday.  We were on the way to the Big City to do some shopping and decided to take the back roads part of the way.  We had to stop by a golf course for some supplies before our trip to the NJCAA National golf tourney and the back road was the prettiest way to get there.  I asked Honey for a couple photo stops along the way and he gladly obliged me.  I hope you enjoy the old homesteads and barns I captured along the way.  I'm a collector of barn photos and these local barns will go into my collection. 

 Frawley Estate, Lower Ranch, Elkhorn Ridge

 Reddick Ranch (note the dugout/cellar in the background)

 I don't think this is a barn, but rather, a home. 
Whatever it may be, I think it's a really interesting building along the St. Onge Road.

The building in the background of this photo is what we call The Shearing Pens.  Not a barn, really, but a structure that was used to shed sheep when storms came and to shear sheep in back-in-the-day.  We got the ewes and lambs in a couple of days ago and wormed the lambs. Oh my, but the lambs have grown -- so big and healthy!  It was fun to get a close look at them again.  Aren't they beautiful creatures?

Here is the grandgirls' new puppy, Charlie.
He is just learning about sheep.  He's half Australian Shepherd/Border Collie. 
He is very calm and quiet and thoughtful.

Sue did most of the dog-work that day.  She's getting a bit old and fat so she had some trouble jumping over the gates.  It used to come easy for her; now it's hard work.  I know how she feels.

If you are a barn lover like me, you might enjoy one of my favorite books called An Age of Barns by Eric Sloane.  He researched all kinds of barn styles and types and then sketched them and painted some and put them in a book.  Eric Sloane inspired one of our sons to draw -- in particular barns and buildings -- and he was good at it.  If you'd like to take a look at some of Eric Sloane's work, take a look here.

We have a dilapidated barn that will one day need to be replaced with something else.  I'm hopeful that we can build an old style barn that will be beautiful to look at and yet very functional too.  I've always thought it would be neat to have a barn with an upper level for storage and for roller skating, for barn dancing and maybe a workshop of some kind.  I also think there should be a rope hanging down from the upper level to climb and swing on.  I would like Hubs to have an office out there too.  A girl and her barn dreams.

 Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace.
  Our barns will be filled
with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields;
  our oxen will draw heavy loads.
There will be no breaching of walls,
no going into captivity,
no cry of distress in our streets.
  Blessed are the people of whom this is true;
blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.
~Psalm 144:12-15

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Housewives' Mistakes...

A friend pointed me to this article, originally printed in 1886, and recently reprinted on Brocante Home .  I thought it was so encouraging and inspiring both to new homemakers and seasoned homemakers that I wanted to share it with you here. I ought to read this every month or more.  Enjoy!

“Oh dear, will it never end? Day after day, always the same ceaseless, changeless work! It is just perfect drudgery, that it is and nothing else!”
The speaker sinks into a chair and her hands drop languidly down. Now, we just want to sit by her side and have a little chat.
“Drudgery, did you say? Why do you call it by that name?”
“There are reasons enough why, and I will give you plenty, if you like.”
Forthwith she gives us six reasons, each one of which we label MISTAKE.

“It is the same thing over and over again.”
That was the first reason given: but repetition and drudgery are not synonymous. We are constantly doing the same thing over and over again, yet never dream of using that designation. We talk, and laugh, and sing; we sleep and rise, and rise and sleep; all things around us repeat themselves with the same unerring round, suns rise and set, moons wax and wane, seasons come and go, and come again, but the idea of “weary drudgeries” being descriptive thereof would be counted ludicrous. This repetition is part of the symmetry of our lives; without it all would be confusion. With what fear should we regard our work but for this repetition! If this be drudgery, then the whole our life – every life – is drudgery, and God’s own particular work the same for He is ever repeating His acts.

“So many things that we have to do are not really necessary.”
Yes, flowers are not really necessary, nor are pictures, music, song; yet who would be without them? And if you only do the work which is necessary in a house, for the mere existence of its inmates, you bring about the very thing you are trying to avoid. It would be perfect drudgery then, to work to such an end. It is the little bright touches, the extras, the delicacies, that lift our work up from such a base state of things and make life enjoyable.

“Ours is work that tires one so.”
What kind of work is there that does not tire? All honest work is fatiguing; idleness tires also; but true noble workers possess a secret that makes them rise above the bodily efforts of their toil, and always makes them able to endure without complaint until rested. The secret is this: They put their hearts into their work, the consequence being they are inspired workers.

“There is no inspiration in housework.”
If that is true, then the work is sure to drag, and become truly, drudgery. “No inspiration in it!” Then the artist has none, for we housewives can draw living pictures; then the poet has none, for we can produce heavenly harmonies; then the statesman has none, for our home can be a little realm and we it’s ruler and lawgiver; then the preacher has none, for it is possible to preach hourly, silent sermons. “No inspiration!” When you sweep a room can you not think how God sweeps the world with His wind? When lighting a fire, of the fire on His altar? When washing, of His cleansing? When cooking, of God’s bread? When nursing of Gods everlasting arms? When dusting, of the spotless life? “No inspiration!” When heaven is likened to a home which the Lord is getting ready for us? No inspiration? It is a libel to be flung back upon any who utters it!

“So little good is accomplished by my work.”
If even there is a “little” good accomplished, it has redeemed it from the charge of drudgery. Be thankful for the little, and the thankfulness will be as dew and sunlight, causing it to increase. But is it a little thing to make one bright spot in the world, whither husband and children turn ever with glad hearts, like the mariner to the cheerful signals from the lighthouse, that shoot across miles of foaming seas to him with welcome message? Is it a little thing to make that home so calm and beautiful and restful that the children learn from it what heaven must be like? Is it a little thing to so prepare a haven of rest that through its beneficent influences upon its inmates they are strengthened to meet and conquer the difficulties of the outside world? Oh the good we housewives can do is not little, but great!

“There is such a multiplicity of little things to be done.”
Of course there are, but not necessarily unimportant. Little things are at the foundation of all great things. Our work as a whole is great, but is made up for the most part of little duties, and fortunately so, or we might get oppressed with the extent of what we had to do. Therefore the number of little things, rather than being the cause of drudgery is helpful to us.
We remember once visiting a noted ruin, and at the first view our hearts sank, and we exclaimed, “It’s a perfect disappointment. Nothing but a dull blank wall with a little ivy here and there.” “But come around this way,” said our friend “and take another view.” We obeyed and what a change! Gleams from the Western sky were tingeing everywhere with a golden light; the outlines of rooms could be traced by the remains of roofless walls, here and there ornamented by exquisite sculpture; and in the grass-grown aisles, where once the evening’s solemn chant had daily risen, merry children were at play.
We housewives often in the course of our work come up to bare unwitting prospects and we exclaim, “Oh, it’s perfect drudgery!” But stay, come round this way, view your work from another standpoint. Ah, what a change! Heavens light is upon it; sacred memories arise, glad songs are heard and we trace where high art has been at work. Best of all, our work need not be likened to a ruin, but a place filled with happy human souls. Don’t have one-sided views of your work, view it all round. Have a truly high idea of your work, and you will never commit the great mistake of thinking it drudgery.

By Charlotte Skinner, The Housewife, 1886

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Simple Spring Things....

This time of year always makes me smile.  There are so many changes that happen in spring in the north country that it seems every single days there is something new to celebrate.

Warblers are cheerily messing around in the trees.  The most common here is the Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Tulips are springing into bloom.

My fresh-mowed lawn looks green and pretty (except for the brown spots).

We had our first wienie roast in the fire pit with The Neighbors (grands and their parents).

Frogs are singing in the evening.

The trees are just about to leaf out.  Some are leafed out; others are close behind.

The green grass is growing like mad and so's the alfalfa in the hay fields.  The newly planted hay field is up and looking great!

The rhubarb is coming strong.  My rhubarb isn't quite pickable yet, but my folks gave me enough of theirs for a pie.  Nothing like fresh rhubarb pie.

The baby calves are still being born and the calves on the ground are healthy and happy.  Perfect calving weather here.

We had a nice rain this past weekend -- 1 3/4" of rain!

A sunny day today.

The neighbor girls got a new puppy -- Charlie.  Happiness is a new puppy.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...