Friday, February 28, 2014


1.  Week before last, we got a huge snow.  Twenty inches.  We weren't thinking ahead.  We should've moved our cars to the bottom of the driveway.  We didn't.  Of course, at the bottom of the driveway is the old truck...which doesn't even run.  Go figure.
2.  I was thankful we never lost electricity.  Particularly since Cort was having some asthma issues, and needed his nebulizer. 

3.  We had plenty of food and chocolate.  Important things when you're snowed in for a few days.

4.  Paul finally dug his car out after Saturday arrived, and I had work paperwork due in town at 10:00 am.  His car had been stuck in the driveway for a day - even though it has four wheel drive.

5.  Snow can be fun, but I'd be just fine if we didn't get any more this winter.  It is, after all, going to be March tomorrow.

Linked with Random Friday at A Rural Journal

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Do You Like It In Your Face?

Pierce?  Have you been eating the snow?
Yes, we did make snow ice cream that day. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Baked Spaghetti Recipe

I love baked spaghetti.  It's such a comfort food.  I've created a version that I love, and will share it here.  It's not so much a recipe - I just go by feel, so you can tinker with it at will.
2 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
Mild Italian Sausage
1 box spaghetti
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375*.  Heat olive oil in skillet.  Add onions and garlic, sauté until tender.  Add sausage (casings removed, if you buy that type).  Meanwhile, start boiling spaghetti and cook according to instructions on box.  Once sausage is partially browned, add green peppers and carrots.  Continue to sauté until softened.  Add mushrooms.  

Drain spaghetti and return to pot, toss with jar of spaghetti sauce. Layer half in 9 x 13 pan.  Put half the veggie/sausage mixture on top.  Sprinkle cheeses (about 1/2 cup of each).  Layer again - spaghetti, veggies, cheeses.  Cover with aluminum foil (try to tent it, so that it doesn't touch the cheese on top) and bake for 30 minutes.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Snow Shoveling

I told Pierce he should go down the slide.  He didn't think it was such a great idea.  But you know who wasn't scared?
 Not scared at all.
 Now for a little snow shoveling.
 That's better.
 And a cushy landing too.
Done any snow shoveling lately?

Monday, February 24, 2014

If You Need Me, I'll Be In Our Igloo

We got twenty inches of snow.  Twenty.  Inches.  Unbelievable.  Paul spent the day building an igloo.  I shoveled out the edge of the driveway and around the mailbox.

Igloos are pretty cool.  I've never had an igloo before.  I bet igloos aren't nearly as much work to clean as a house.
So, if you need me, I'll be in our igloo.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Big Feet

1.  I have a couple of pictures of this scowling child from the photos my grandmother gave me.  She didn't know who he (she?) is.  But I dare say he wasn't very excited about this picture.

2.  One annoying thing that happened with my pregnancies is that my feet grew half a size with each one.  I used to wear a size 7.  Now I wear a size 8.  This is particularly annoying because a few of my expensive technical shoes (my tall riding boots, my rollerblades) no longer fit. 

3.  Cort has the most delicious laugh I've ever heard in a child.  He has quite the sense of humor, so we get to hear it often.  And I can never get enough of his delightful chuckling. 

4.  You would not believe the hoops you have to jump through to get an appointment with a dermatologist here.  Long story short, it took me 3 years, but I finally have an August.  I have a lot of moles and just want to have them checked over.  You wouldn't think it would be so difficult! 

5.  I don't really like grocery shopping.

Linked with Random Friday at A Rural Journal.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Breaded Dijon Pork Chops Recipe

I've been making this recipe for fifteen years, so it's a true keeper.  It comes together quickly, has amazing flavor, and is kid-friendly.  Recently I made it with a side of roasted spaghetti squash and some tossed salad.  Delicious. 

5 pork chops
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs or Panko
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. melted butter
Combine the bread crumbs, garlic salt, onion powder in a small bowl.  Combine mustard and butter in a separate bowl.  Brush mustard and butter over pork chops, then coat with crumb mixture.  Bake at 425* for 15 minutes in a shallow baking pan.  If you buy large pork chops, you will need to bake them for a longer period of time.  I tend to cut in the middle to make sure there is no pink. 
If you're looking for something easy but unique for the dinner table, give this a shot.  It's always a hit at our house.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

All That Remains

A few weeks ago Scooter didn't come home one evening.  He had never done this, being loyal and a bit of a homebody.  A border collie we adopted from a rescue, he was bred to be a farm dog, and he loved his family.  He would visit his friend Bailey each day, but mostly preferred to stay close to home.  Scooter was microchipped, and wearing a collar with his rabies tag from our vet.

We put up signs.  I called shelters and rescues.  As each day passed, we grew more saddened.  Had he been attacked by the coyotes that got into the neighbor's goat herd?  Had someone driving past picked him up to 'adopt the country dog' in spite of the identification he wore, like what happened to our neighbor's dog? 

For the past four and a half years, Scooter has been an integral part of our family.  We miss him.  Small movements, from the corner of my eyes, on the deck or in the pasture, and I think it is his tail.  All that remains are some dog treats, a huge bag of Purina, and a few well-loved toys.  Plus a small amount of dwindling hope, and a huge dose of memories.
I wish that serendipity would strike, and Scooter would come running up the driveway again, barking in happiness. 

It's hard not knowing.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Even on days in the recent weeks when the weather has been frightful, I dream of sunny days.  Warmer days, when I can sink my hands into the earth and press tiny seeds into the cool dirt.  Days where I run to the store for packets of carrots and kale and zucchini.  On the rare occasions when we have had temps in the 50s, I continue to work in the garden, building my layers, while visions of plump red tomatoes and crunchy garden peas pass through my mind.
In the meantime, I hope all those polar vortexes and crusty ices and gray snows are killing every single squash bug around this place. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Clif Bar ZFruitand Veggie Giveaway

Last week we got twenty inches of snow.  TWENTY inches.  Unreal for this region.  We are still digging out.  The boys like twenty inches of snow a lot more than me. 

Meanwhile, I did get a nice sunshine style surprise in the mail recently.  It made the fact that I can't seem to get my car down the driveway through the trenches of snow somewhat more bearable.  Some Clif Kid Zfruits with veggies, in an adorable reusable planter.  It's their newest organic fruit and veggie snack, full of Vitamin C and fiber, and my boys dove into them.  I'm lucky I had time to snap this picture.  I  just love these portable, healthy, and tasty snacks. 

Clif Bar is offering one of these spring planters full of 12 Clif Kid Z Fruit to one lucky reader!  Just clik on the Rafflecopter below to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer:  I was sent some Zfruit to sample for review purposes.  The opinions above are my own.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Pinky Swear

1.  On the left is uncle Tom again, a ladies' man, according to my grandmother. Look at all that finery and slicked back hair!  I like this picture because of the intriguing house in the background.  I wish I could see the whole thing - it looks Victorian to me.
2.  Happy Valentines Day!  I hope all of you are well-treated today.

3.  Pierce's New Year's Resolution this year is to build a life-sized Wall E.  He is still talking about it.  Six weeks later.  He told me he was going to make his dad pinky swear to build one with him.  Pinky swearing is serious business, folks.  I'm not sure how we're going to get out of this one.  He's quite obsessed with robots right now. 

4.  I miss corn on the cob, hot off the grill, with the husk all steaming.

5.  Recently I made a peach cobbler as a winter treat, using peaches I froze last summer.  It was divine.

Readers, what are you missing from summer?

Linked with Nancy from A Rural Journal

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Just a Little Bit

It has been a while since I've updated on Francie, our rescue horse, and a few of you have requested some news.  She is doing very well.  She's healthy.  She's sweet.  She still doesn't like anyone but me, but hopefully over time she'll learn that others can be trusted too. 
I try to work with her on the lunge line twice a week, although the weather doesn't always cooperate.  She is doing well with being saddled.  I bought a rubber dogbone bit which is very gentle, and some clips, and have started clipping it to her halter when I lunge her.  The bit has been harder for her to adjust to than the saddle, but she's gradually learning to accept it.

I also used an Amazon gift card to order her a very special bit for when I start to ride her.  The Happy Mouth bits are expensive, but they are apple flavored with a soft cushion of rubber around them.  My horse friend from high school, Michelle, who has amazing horse skills, recommended this particular bit.  I decided it was worth the investment.  I hope Francie will like it.
Francie has been a quick learner.  She leads well and doesn't pull on me, but walks right by my side.  She listens.  If I tell her whoa on the lunge line, she stops.  She also knows the commands for walk, trot, and canter.  She has learned how to load and unload from the trailer.  It's amazing to me - this little horse that was sick and starving and couldn't even be caught last November has come SO far. 

One thing Francie still need to work on is trust - she doesn't seem to trust anyone but me, and is scared of others.  I have started having Paul lead her some, so that she can learn that others don't mean to harm her.  And if Pierce is around, I hold her while he gently pets her neck.  She cringes if anyone tries to pet her besides me (but adores when I scratch her face and neck for her).  I don't know if someone hurt her or not.  But she's not skittish in other circumstances, so I am inclined to think perhaps so.  This is something I think she can overcome, with time and repeated exposure to kind-hearted people.  Francie is also still reluctant to be caught.  I generally have to have food to catch her.  As long as I have food, though, she is fine. 

I'm thrilled with Francie's progress so far.  In the coming Spring months, I do plan to hop on her back and see where we go from here.  Thanks to those of you who continue to root for her happiness!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shoe Loyalty

If at all possible, I like to wear flip flops.  But this winter, with all these nasty polar vortexes, that hasn't been an option.  If I can't wear flip flops, my next choice are my Merrells.  They are lined with fleece and slip right on, so toasty.  They have held up forever.  This year I bought a second pair in black with some of my Christmas money.  Paul also loves Merrells, and bought himself this pair in brown.  Even our cat, Willie, seems to love Merrells. 
Who knew he was such a shoe enthusiast?  But he hugged this shoe for a good ten minutes.  He has good taste in footwear, don't you think?

Readers, do you have a favorite winter shoe?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Old Train Depot

The old local train depot has been in jeopardy for some time now, and it's in the news regularly.  Folks want to save it from being torn down.  Right now, the town trying to arrange to move it, but there are some issues that have arisen with the land swap that need to be addressed first. 

I like the old depot.  I hope it isn't torn down.  I don't really want it to move either.  I've always enjoyed seeing this landmark, even if it has seen better days.

I suppose some people would call it an eyesore. I think it's quaint though, and just in need of a little TLC. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Voice from the Past

People always talk about the associations between smells and memory.  But there are also strong associations between sounds and memory.  Just think about it - do certain songs remind you of a moment in your past?

Once in a while I go to this McDonalds to work online while the twins are in preschool.  They have really fast wifi.  Plus, I confess I like their French fries.  There is always an older man there.  Tall and slender, with a poof of billowy white hair.  He wears checkered shirts and pressed slacks, and he drinks the senior discount coffee while chatting with his friends.  The friends vary.  But he never does.

As I sit there and blog, his voice never fails to send me traveling to the past.  He sounds exactly like my grandfather.  While there is no resemblance in appearance, his voice has the same nuances, the same accent, the same tone as my mom's father.  I can't sit there listening without remembering cousins and pugs and fossil-hunting walks through the fields.  Cans full of magic markers for drawing, Gumby on the ceiling fan, chewing tobacco, soft rabbits in cages, and faded plastic cups of iced tea. 

Me, age 2
Sometimes, I forget that he's there, and then his voice is a shock to me, the way it grabs at me and yanks me into the past.  It saddens me, but it brings me comfort too.

Readers, do you ever hear voices from the past?

Friday, February 7, 2014

He Looks Like Who?

1.  Another photo from my grandmother's house.  I don't know who these people are.  But I like the picture.  The dog, taking the inopportune scratch.  The costume.  The big cheesy grin with the knee socks.  And the amused mother.  They look like a fun bunch, don't they?  I'd venture to say they look like the sort of family that would be happy even off camera, don't you think?

2.  You know Cort, right?  The twin with the brown eyes and the curly hair?  Well apparently the teachers at his new preschool think he looks like Heath Ledger.  I confess that though I'd heard the name, I wasn't quite sure who Heath Ledger was.  I had to google it.  Then I was like, oh that guy!  Well - maybe the curly hair is similar?

3.  Obviously, I don't have much time for watching tv and movies.  Did you know we don't watch tv?  We get zero channels.  We watch dvds sometimes, but that's it.  I much prefer reading.

4.  I saw an egret the other day in a stream.  Betting he's really regretting his decision not to migrate this winter. 

5.  I found a protein shake I like!  Normally they gross me out.  I've never been a milk drinker, and the thickness of protein shakes creeps me out.  But I adore the Bolthouse Farms salted caramel latte protein shakes.  They are in the produce section.  They taste like creamy coffee lattes.  Unfortunately, they are kind of pricey, but sometimes I find them on clearance and then I buy them and savor every sip.

Linked with Nancy's Random Friday.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Allure of Shiny Shoe Laces

Pierce's school recently did a fundraiser for these shoe laces called Y Ties.  We received some comics about them, and Pierce went on and on about how he needed a pair.  Particularly after some of the other kids in school started to get them.  I decided he could use some of his Christmas money to buy a pair for himself (they are $5 a pair).  They had a wide assortment of colors.  He chose a brilliant sparkling green.
Pierce has known how to tie his shoes for a couple of years, but with these shoelaces, he just twists them instead of tying.  Sometimes it's funny, the things kids get excited about.

Readers, got any sparkles on your shoes lately?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hiking Read Mountain Preserve

A couple of weeks ago we decided to go for a hike.  The temps weren't too bad - in the 40s with a very chilly wind.  We headed to Read Mountain Preserve.  It's a 1.9 mile hike to the top.

This is Reid.  He thinks Read Mountain is his mountain.  On the hike, his brother Cort proudly told each passing hiker, "We're on Read Mountain.  And this is Reid!". 

It was uphill the whole way, but none of it was very steep, so it's a good hike to do with kids. 

Cort was quite the trooper.  In the past, he has been our straggler on hikes.  The one that tires out, starts complaining, and ends up being carried.  I guess he's matured some.  We were all so proud of him for being a hiking champ the whole way, with an inquisitive and persevering mindset. 

There were some lovely views along the way.  The trees are fairly bare, so you can see for miles. 

Almost to the top. 

Here is the view from Buzzard's Rock.  It was so windy and cold up top!  We didn't stay for very long - just long enough to admire the views and tell the kids 50 times not to get too close to the edge.
We had a pleasant 1.9 mile hike back down to the bottom, and were happy we got out in the woods, even if it was January. 

Readers, do you like to hike year-round?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

January Running Recap

Need I say that it has been a challenging month for running outside?  All these polar vortexes are messing with me!  One day it was 6* outside, and windy.  I had all the good layers on, and was totally comfortable except for my feet.  They hurt so badly from the wind blowing right into my shoes that I only made it 3 miles.  I need to find a better way to keep my feet warm when it's that cold. 

I ran on the treadmill a lot. Thank goodness it is fixed.  The treadmill is in the basement, and it has been rather cold even in the basement lately, because it is unheated.  Usually our basement stays between 60-70 degrees regardless, but with these polar vortexes our basement temperature dipped down to around 50 degrees.  I know this because of the thermometer that hangs right in front of my treadmill.  At least I stay cool while I run!

I had some issues with the top of my left foot having sharp pains this month, but I'm hopeful it will correct itself.  My shoes had high mileage, so I switched to new shoes and it seems to be getting a little better.

I ran 138 miles total in January.  I guess you could say I was running from the demons of January.  It would be nice if February had milder weather, but I'm not counting on it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Winter Handcrafted Soap Extravaganza - Giveaway with 8 Winners!

Today I have come together with several other awesome soapmaking bloggers to offer a Soap Extravaganza.  There will be 8 winners of these decadent, beautiful handmade soaps.  Perfect for nourishing your tired, dry winter skin.  This is one way to bring some brightness and sunshine to the dreary winter days. 

Marissa from A Homemaker's Journal crafts a wide variety of both hot and cold processed soaps.  Looking at the pictures of her soaps - they look good enough to eat, and must smell amazing too.  She sells her soaps at Lemonberry And Lime if you'd like to check out her store.
Up for grabs from her shop are a Gingersnap Crumble Goats Milk hot process soap and a So Soapy Clean artisan soap:
In addition, she is giving away another soap duo - Spiced Pumpkin Goat's Milk Cold Process Soap and a Milk Oats and Honey Artisan Soap:
Next up is Nancy, from A Rural Journal.  Nancy has sent me some of her soaps before, and I love that they aren't overly perfumed and have a marvelous lather to them.  My skin felt so smooth afterwards.  You can buy Nancy's soap in her Papio Creek Shop.  The first soap she is giving away is a Papio Creek Toasted Coconut Cold Processed Soap:
The second soap she is giving away is a Papio Creek Aromatic Anise cold processed soap:
Also participating is Teresa from Eden Hills Blog.  She has a farm with many animals, including lots of very cute goats.  Teresa crafts soaps from goat's milk, and you can visit her store at Eden Hills Market to find out more about her products.  She is giving away a Chocolate Chunk Goat Milk Soap:

And she is also giving away a Red Apple goat milk soap:

I am  offering up two decorative homemade soaps.  You can check out the Two Bears Farm Etsy shop to see similar soaps.  First up is a shea butter glycerin peace dove soap, lightly scented with lemon verbena:

Also offered is a mother and child shea butter glycerin soap, lightly scented with lavender.  This would also be a wonderful gift for a new mother:

Have you found a soap you simply must have yet, readers?  Just click on the Rafflecopter below to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway