Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Past 27 Days In A Nut Shell

Actually it would be really hard to put all that has happened in the past 27 day into a nut shell!  However, we have been busy.  Nick turned 26 on the 11th, Rachael turned 21 on the 15th, Becky and Mike have been busy planning their wedding.  Nick and Michelle got engaged with the wedding to be the month after Becky and Mike and Rachael took off for Vegas exactly 7 days after her birthday (by the way, she is having the time of her life and has asked if we could all go back next year as a family).  My youngest brother and his wife brought 2 beautiful boys into the world two days after Rachael's birthday.  They were able to claim their own day even with all of the other July birthdays we have in our family.

I have been busy with work and family and then found out last week we had 5 new tenants living on our property.  Aunt Diane called me out into the backyard and this is what we saw:
Do you see the two on the ground?  One under the wagon and the other just in front of it?  There is a gray one sitting on top of the burner next to the wagon.
 See the fourth little gray one on top of the shed?  This one is Christian and I will tell you why in a bit.

Well, there were four little kittens running around our back yard under and over the shed.  Up and down the trees and fencing chasing each other.  They were having the time of their life.  I guessed that they were about 2-3 months old.  2 orange tabbies and 2 gray tabbies.  My wonderful husband brought out his live traps and over the next 4 days we were able to catch 3 of the kittens and the little mother (she was only about 7 or  months old herself).  After a little leg work and research on my Aunt"s and Mother's part, we found that our local Humane Society has a program called TNR, or Trap, neuter and release for no charge.  It is solely funded on donations.  So, that is what we did.  I picked up the 3 kittens and their mother yesterday and the little ones are feisty.  Mama is resting in her own carrier but inside the Kittie kennel that my Aunt has out on her back patio.  We will be releasing them back into their environment tomorrow.  Perhaps they will hang around, perhaps they will run as fast as they can from us.  At least they will not be producing a bunch of Ferrell kitties themselves. 

So, why is the one on top of the shed named Christian when I did not name any of the others?  Well he/she is the sly one.  Has not been able to be caught yet.  I got a pretty good look at him/her up close and the coat is many shades of gray.  Hence the sly, many shades of gray Christian.  If you do not get it, then go to Nook or Amazon and buy and download the 3 book series 50 Shades of Grey.

Moving on......I have been very slow on getting the Cranberry Wine started for Becky's Wedding.  Sunday, we went to the local grocer and discovered that the cranberry concentrate that I use was on sale 10 for $10.  bought 25 cans and guess what...

Yes, I know, it is cutting it close.  I have been able to make the Cranberry in 2 months or less so, keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer.  As I was making this yesterday I kept running through my head how Jesus turned water into wine his cousins wedding party when they ran out and I believe in my heart that God will not fail me with this.  Cranberry always is fast and tastes the best without having to age it.  It is fermenting away today!  Yahoo!!!
We had a little bit of rain last night.  The drought has been brutal but my garden has produced one zucchini and about 5 cucumbers.  Larry make sures that it stays watered.  Brian and Nick ate my first cucumber up without sharing a bite.  They felt bad (I bet) so they told me that it was not really that good.  I shared the second and third with them.  I have many hot peppers that need to be picked and we have had a few green beans which Brian and the big kids like to eat raw. 
The little bit of rain we had last night got the ground wet and made a lot of noise but I do not think that it did much for the plants and grass.  A friend called me last week and told me she was going to do a rain dance that night.  Guess what I saw on my way into work the next day...
 Yes, that is rain on my car windows.  I sent her a text and told her it work!  However, it only gave our dry ground a sweet kiss of moisture and was gone and just a memory like the real sweet kiss from the one you love.  Perhaps it was a kiss from God.

So, this is my parting comments......

1. I wish that I lived out in the country and the only work I had to do was the work to sustain a way of self reliant living.  But, I am thankful that regardless of where I live we are able to make a living and provide for ourselves what we need.

2.  I wish that the physical pain I live with would just disappear.  But, I am thankful that I am able to get out of bed and walk on my own everyday.

3.  I wish all of the hurtful things that the people of this world say and do to each other every day would turn into loving acts of kindness.  However, I am thankful that those that are near to me and really truly love me are in my life on pretty much a daily basis.  They say blood is thicker then water.  When it comes to science, yes it is.  When it come to real-life and love, it is not.  It is the people that do and give to you to make you feel loved and worthwhile and do not expect anything in return that really are your family. 

4.  God asks us to pray for only one group of people in our lives, it is our enemies......I pray for those people but, I pray for all the others in my life also that are good and kind.

5.  With everything happening behind the scenes in my life that I do not put out there for the public, I pray that I continue to find the WISDOM TO BREATH and pray that you all do too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What Type of Rider Are You?

I was trying to fall asleep last night and realized that life is like a rollor coaster ride.   I am sure that many have heard that simalie before.  This is how I inturrperet it:

We buy our ticket and get in line (this is our birth and the formative years).  As we stand in line we people watch and critisize all the other people in line maybe even learning from some during the wait.  For some of us the line is really short and we leave it before the ride even really begins (very sad). 

As we get closer to the actual ride itself, we become  hesitant, fearful, impatient (I have seem some line jumpers trying to get to the ride ahead of others not wanting to wait their turn).  We see the others ahead of us on the ride.  Some are laughing and shouting with joy, others are screaming in fear while others yet are quiet.

Our turn comes and we climb on, get locked in....now there is no turning back (we are adults, legal age our childhood is gone).  The roller coaster takes us on ups and downs, twists and turns.  Some take us into dark tunnels.  We can not always see what is just around the corner, over the next hill or what or how many twists we have ahead of us. 

Are you the one hooting and hollering with your arms in the air enjoying the adventure?  Never wanting the ride to end?

Could it be that you are the one so fearful that you are screaming, scared and clenching the grab bars with the queezy stomach wondering how you are going to make it through the ride?  Knowing you will, but not able to let go and just take each up and down, twist and turn as it comes.

Perhaps you are the fearful one with your eyes shut.  Trying to imagine yourself some where else, doing something else.  Unable to accept that you are truley in the here and now.  Pretending that this ride is not happening.

As I reflected on this and continue to do so, I believe that I mix up my rides.  Kind of like a bipolar individual (perhaps I am!).  It is not always the best being a nurse and knowing just enough but not enough!  LOL or NOT!  Each one of my days I am a different rider.  On the outside I am the hooter, the hollerer, that is what everyone sees and believes.  However, inside I am screaming and scared...wishing that my ride whould just end.  Not sure how I will make it through the next twist or turn.  Often wondering why it has to keep twisting and turning, soaring and then dropping off.  Inside, I would like to just shut my eyes and pretend that this is someone elses ride.  That I have my farm out in the country, far away from the real world where I can raise my animals, grow my food and be alone with nature and escape the real world.  Taking care of just myself and those that choose to live the same way.

I understand that God tests our faith. He is not really "testing" our faith but making it stronger.  Each day that we get by and still BELIEVE we are stronger!

One thing is for sure, the ride will end for all of us.  Will we get off the ride and look back and wish we could do it all again or will we have regrets?  Would we have choosen a different ride.  The little kiddie ride or the super-duper Mega  coaster if we had been given a choice?

What type of ride are you on and what type of rider are you?

Every day wake-up and say "I have the WISDOM TO BREATH"!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

One of my Reasons will be having their own Reason!

So they say "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"  Well, our lemonade will be sweet!  Hard to imagine but, in less then a year a little one will be joining our family.  What a blessing babies are!   A Reason to share a love like he has never known!  A Reason to get up every day and say "I am going to do my best to use the talents that God has given me."  "I am going to love unconditionally the way my parents have and continue to love me."  "I have a Reason to set the best example I can!"

While we expected that the first little one would be coming from our daughter who is marrying the love of her life on September 15th of this year, God stepped in and showed us differently!  So, a little detour in all of our lives has occurred, but hey, detours still get you to where you need and want to go, just a little different way getting there.  But, we all still get there. 

So, to my Son who was my first Reason.......I love you!  I love you inside and out.  God is holding your hand and will show you the way to get there.  Your father has been the best dad that I could ever ask for and the best man in my life.  Look at him, learn from him, use the memories that the two of you have created and then start working on the ones that you will create for and with your Reason for everything in your life from this day forward!

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Horsehound, Mint and Family (not in that order)!

What a beautiful day it was yesterday.  I got up and taught a Standards Precaution class and then came home.  The plan was that my sister and her husband and my husband and myself were going to only work the half a day and then hop on the motorcycles for a long ride.  Perfect day for a perfect plan.  We rode out to Hillsboro, WI (3 hour trip) to check on my sister and her husband's hunting land and replant some grass seed where some trees had been cleared.  Rural WI is beautiful and those that know me as a friend on FB saw a couple of the pics I uploaded.  Sitting on the back of the bike my mind becomes creative and this is what it did (I will try to recreate it without crying but not likely):

To my adult children:  I saw you today Nick!  You saw me but did not know who I was.  You were in the spirit of the young Amish boy of about 11  on the other side of the road in his horse pulled cart.  Your cheeks were Rosy and the innocence in your eyes was refreshing.  You smiled at me and waved back.  About 30 minutes up the road I saw Becky and Rachael riding their bikes.  Becky was about 8 and Rachael 6.  Becky, you were already heading back up the long driveway towards the house.  Taking the lead with Rachael still trying to make it to the end so that she could turn around and meet you back at the top.  Not giving up!  Proving that just because she was the smaller and younger one, she was not going to let anything get in her way.  When I saw you girls I leaned forward and said to dad "there is Becky and Rachael!"  You were both peddling fast on your way to "fun".  Just FUN! 

All three of my children were carefree, no worries, young and as innocent as children could and should be.

A little while later we drove through a very cool town with houses that had the big natural stone bluffs towering above them in the backyards.  SO COOL!  I said to dad that if you children would have grown-up in one of those houses we would have had a hard time trying to keep you from climbing the mountainous walls.  Nick would have broken every bone in his body just showing us and himself he could climb to the top.

We continued to ride and I realised that you three and your father are my REASON.  My reason for everything!  You are all the reason that God created me.  I was created so that you could all be.  To grow-up into the adults you are today so that you will have REASONS!  You are all my anchors.  Never an anchor holding me back from anything but to keep me steady.  To keep me, me!  You keep me from the storms that life passes through our lives.  You keep me here to inturn be here for each one of you when you need me. 

Although you did not see me yesterday, I saw each one of you.  I felt you in my heart and breathed you in my lungs.  You all were with me on the beautiful ride that your father and I took.  You will all continue to be with me on the ride that Dad and I will continue to travel until our Journey will take us to our heavenly Father that waits for us.  And then, we will be with you as you have your REASONS and complet your journeys!  I love you all!

So, what does Horsehound and Mint have to do with any of this?  NOTHING....just that this spring has been so wonderful that my mint and horsehound crop was already in need of cutting.  So I currently have on a low temp in my oven, the leaves drying for tea making.  My kitchen smells wonderful and I will sip my tea this summer and perhaps share a cup with my children if they wish and bring my great memories along!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Laundry Detergent...why buy when you can DIY???

Why buy when you can DIY???  I am home today from work and realized that I have a lot of dirty laundry and am almost out of my detergent.  Believe it or not but at the time of this blog post, I have not bought any prepared laundry detergent in the past 9 months.  I had found instructions for homemade gel/liquid laundry detergent and have made some modifications.  The original instructions produced a very thick clumpy product that worked fine but would occasionally leave a white residue on my laundry.  Through trial and error, I have come up with a concoction that works great for me.  It leaves my clothes very fresh smelling and clean!  It is low sudsing and should work well in HE machines as it does not leave any residue behind.  It will have some separation in the finished product but just give it a good shake and it is just fine.  To make 6.21 L or 210oz follow the instructions below.  Adjust amounts for other size bottles.

See my pretty flowers from my sweetheart for Valentine's Day?

What you will need:

1 empty repurposed large liquid laundry detergent plastic container (Mine is a see through plastic and holds 6.21 L or 210 oz.)

1/3 of a 5 ½ bar of Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap (in the laundry isle)

1/3 cup Borax Laundry Booster

1/3 cup Super Washing Soda (NOT baking soda!!)

6.21 Liters of very hot water

A grater that you will designate just for shredding up the bar soap

A funnel is nice and will make the job much easier but not necessary

This is how you do it….

  1. Grate 1/3 of the bar of Fels-Naptha bar soap into a large sauce pan.
  2. Add approx. 6 cups of hot water to the pan and heat and stir until all of the soap is dissolved.
  3. While the water is heating up you can remove the easy pour insert in the neck of the laundry bottle by sticking your finger into the opening and hooking under the lip with your finger pull straight up.  It is a tight fit but you should be able to pull the insert out.  It will get easier each time.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of the Super Washing Soda and mix until dissolved.
  5. Add 1/3 cup of the Borax Laundry Booster and mix until dissolved.

  6. Pour the mixture into the laundry bottle.  Push the insert back into the opening of the bottle making sure you line it up in the right direction and fill the bottle with the hot tap water up to the top.
  7. Replace the cap and shake up the bottle. 

You can use the detergent right away while it is still hot but it will be very liquidy.  Once the detergent has cooled (usually 6-12 hours) it will thicken up.  Make sure the shake the bottle well before each use.  You only need one capful of detergent for each load of laundry.  It will not suds up but does not need to in order to clean your clothes.  I add about 20 drops of Patchouli Essential Oil to the hot mixture and mix well.  However, the scent of the Fels-Naptha soap is so clean and fresh it is great without any additional fragrance.

I store my supplies for making my detergent in an emplty cat litter container.  I am still using the first box of borax and washing soap that I bought 8 months ago.   

Sunday, February 12, 2012

They dogs will play when the humas are away!

The dogs will play when the humans are away.  So, let me set this up a little.  Our house is a rather small dwelling.  It houses two of my three adult children, my husband and myself.  It also is home to two cats and three dogs.  I love all that live under this roof.  The children are not home much.  The two cats keep to themselves.  The dogs on the other hand are a different story.  Gordy (he is really my son’s but has lived in this house since he came to be part of our family) is a 120 lb. 3 ½ year old yellow lab.  Sami is about 45 lbs. and is a 7 year old chocolate lab/Chesapeake Bay retriever and Polly is a 10 lb. 1yr old Teddy Bear doggie.  All three dogs are very loving and make a great pack.  They are best friends and I believe that they conspire against us when we are not home.  Here is the story of today as I believe it unfolded when nobody was home…..

Polly:  Hey guys, they just left the house.

Sami:  Yeah, I just saw the car turn the corner, they are gone for a while.  I heard them saying they were going out to dinner for Grandma Hazel’s 86 birthday.

Gordy:  Dah…I can see some food up on the counter towards the back.

Polly:  What is it?  I love to eat and chew anything.

Sami:  You both know how upset mom got yesterday when you ate mom’s chocolate baking bar!

Gordy:  I bet she will not even notice if we eat just a little.  I will knock the cocoa powder off the counter and we can go nuts!!!

Polly:  Do it Gordy!


Gordy:  I get it first I knocked it down.

Sami:  Polly, do you really think mom won’t notice that your white beard is now brown!

Polly:  I am so cute she will love me anyways.

Sami:  How are we going to clean all the chocolate mess off the light colored carpet?

Gordy:  I will just lick it up!

Polly:  I will help and I will try to chew up the container so there is no evidence left.

Sami:  Hey Gordy, did you notice that when you lick the powder on the carpet it makes it darker and grinds it into the carpet further?

Polly:  They are home, let’s just love them up when they walk in the door and they will never see the terrible mess we made! 

So, that is what happened I think.  I am hoping that the carpet shampooer will take care of the big chocolate stains in the carpet.  What a mess!

Gotta love my big and little fur babies!  Brian says he is tired of the pets but I know he still loves them.  And…Polly needs a good face washing now.  I noticed the chocolate face the minute the door opened before I even got to the real mess.  J  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Martinis, Tomato soup and Almost Guiltless, flourless, low sugar Chocolate Cake!!!

I strained out the milk solids from my Milk Liqueur on Wednesday night.  Boy was that a project!  I had three of my funnels out and lined them with the tapered coffee filters that I have had up in my cabinet for several years.  I placed the funnels on top of my quart canning jars and very slowly clear pale yellow liquid dripped into the jars.  I found that the milk solids were quick to clog the filters up and I had to change out the paper filters often.  Therefore, I would suggest that if you are going to try this project at home only put 2 tablespoons of the liquid into the filters at a time.  It took over an hour of managing the three jars and I was still only about 2/3 of the way through what needed to be strained.  So, I set the jars and filters up in a corner of my kitchen, filled up the funnels and left them overnight.  In the morning it had all managed to filter through.  I got just over a pint of finished product.  It is very sweet and lemony.  I am thinking that it would be good in a lemon drop martini!  Maybe I will try Lemony Mango martini while I move on to my next project…..I just got to remember that that the alcohol content is the same as the vodka that I started with. 
That is the Milk Liqueur in the jar on the left and my Lemony Mango martini in the middle.  Got the glass at Sea World, FL

I was very fortunate to receive a gently used stove/convection oven from a friend of ours that upgraded.  It is full of some really neat features that I just cannot wait to try.   However, the projects today will not require any special features. 

Yummy Tomato Soup
Oops, my drink ended up in the picture!

1 quart of canned tomatoes
1 can of tomato soup
½ yellow onion chopped
½ green bell pepper
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tbs. of oil oil 

1.        Sauté your onions, garlic and green peppers in 1 tbs. of olive oil

2.       Add the canned tomatoes and basil leaves

3.       Puree with a hand blender in the pan

4.       Mix in the can of tomato soup

5.       Simmer until ready to eat.  I put it in the martini glass because I thought it was fun!  Anything is fun in a martini glass!!! 

Flourless low sugar Chocolate Cake

4 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz. of semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz of of very strong coffee (works great with a French coffee press)
There is my drink again but the contents are a little lower!
¾ cup of splenda
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup heavy cream
Berries for garnish
Powdered sugar for garnish
Nonstick butter spray
Parchment paper
Ice bath

1.        Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

2.       Spray an 8-inch round pie or cake pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper

3.       Put the bittersweet chocolate, butter, vanilla and coffee on top of a double boiler.  Stir the mixture until combined and smooth.

4.       Remove the mixture from heat and put the pan into the ice bath to cool down a bit.

5.       Add the sifted cocoa powder and beaten eggs and mix until smooth

6.       Pour into the prepared pie/cake pan and cook for 20-25 mins.

7.       Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 mins.  Then invert onto a parchment lined plate and allow to cool for 10 mins. or until set.

Chocolate Ganache topping to serve over top of cake with berries and powdered sugar

1.        Put the swemisweet chocolate into a bowl

2.       Heat the heavy cream until hot stirring to prevent any scourching and burning

3.       Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and mix until all of the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream

4.       Pour over the cake and garnish with the berries and powdered sugar

This is so yummy!  I will do again.  I am sure the cake will not last the night.
What is better then a martini?  My almost guiltless flourless, low sugar Chocolate Cake in a martini glass! 

Note:  you may make the Chocolate Ganache ahead of time and reheat when ready to serve.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Do I smell homemade PIZZA?

Today is Funday Sunday! Super Bowl day! So…sto andando fare la pizza casalinga crust e tutte le guarnizioni! Amo la pizza e niente confronta a pizza che producete al vostro proprio gradimento!  Okay, I do not speak Italian either but I hope if anyone reading this does that my statement will make sense.  I am going to make homemade pizza crust and all the toppings!  I love pizza and it nothing compares to pizza that you make to your own liking!  It is not very hard to do, you just need a little more time to make it then you do if you are going to make one of the not so yummy frozen varieties!

For the crust you will need:
2 ¼ tsp. of yeast or one packet of the little buggers!
1 cup of water
2 tbs. of olive oil (I use 100% pure EVOO) plus more to coat dough and bowl.
1 tsp. of salt
2 ½ - 3 cups of flour (I use a good bread flour. But, use the stuff you like best)
A good size bowl and two strong hands!
Let's do it!!! 

1.     Fill your measuring cup with 1 cup warm water and sprinkle your little yeasties on the top of the water.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes until the yeasts start to get foamy.

2.    Put 2 ½ cups of flour into your bowl and form a pit in the center.

3.    Add the salt, oil and your yeastie water into the flour pit.

4.    With a freshly washed, jewelry-free hand dig in and mix it all up.

5.    If, after all of your ingredients are well incorporated your dough is sticky and does not form a nice elastic ball (as in above picture), add more of the remaining ½ cup of flour.  Keep adding until you get a nice firm elastic minimally sticky ball.  I just keep kneading the dough right in the bowl.  I do this with my bread dough also and it works great and reduces my mess.

6.    Put about 1 more tbsp. of EVOO into the bowl and roll your dough ball in it until the ball and the inside of the bowl are coated with oil.

7.    Cover your bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a draft free location for about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.  While this is going on you can choose to get your blog entry started, chop your pizza toppings up or sit back and just breath in and out!  :) 

8.    Punch down dough, divide in half and left rest for about 5 minutes.

9.    You can either flour a surface and rolling pin and roll out your dough into the size and thickness you want for your pizza or just start spreading it with your hands and finger off a surface (like the fancy pizza making guys on TV).  I like to do it the second way.  Click on the video clip to see me in action!  Oh, I know, I do not look exactly like the fancy guys on TV but you get the idea.

10. When you get it close to the way you want it put it on a pizza pan or stone which has been oiled a little with the EVOO.

11. Spread out the dough to fit the pan and form a slight ridge around the edge.

12.  Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 – 30 mins. until the crust is a nice    golden color. 

13. Remove from oven and let cool before loading it up with your favorite toppings.
14. Load it up, and pop it into a 425 degree pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

I am going to give one away to the grown-up kids for their game day celebration later and the other one will be mine and my hubby's dinner. 

Senta l'odore della pizza e continu aare respirare!