Saturday, October 31, 2009

We Have a Winner or Two!

I have really enjoyed all of the blogging this month. I DID IT! I blogged for 31 days straight (that was almost more than my entire blogging career total) Whoo hoooo...

First of all, I would really like to thank everyone for coming by the blog. I really appreciate you taking the time to check in and leave comments on my ramblings. I try to answer when I get a chance, but am not always able to reply in a timely manner. I do read each and every one and want you to know that it means so much that you hear me and have a response to something I've thrown out into the universe.

Blogtoberfest was a lot of fun, many thanks to Tinniegirl and Curlypops for all of the hard work they did to get this organized. The best part for me (besides being a ziggy piggy with prizes) was getting to meet so many great people online. I am thrilled to welcome several new followers to the blog whom I hope will stick around and see what we're up to next (giveaway alert, giveaway alert). I have also discovered many bloggers who share some of the same wide range of interests and opinions that I do. It's fun finding kindred spirits hundreds if not thousands of miles away. It's a big old small world folks.

I decided to pick two winners because 1) I have been so darn lucky on all of these giveaways this month and 2) because it's my blog and I feel like it! Drumroll please.......

Our two winners are: Leathra and Mother Moon's Message

Congratulations ladies! Please send me your mailing addresses and I will get your goodies out to you this week.

Thank you all for participating and keep it dialed in here for a new giveaway announcement in the very near future!

Happy Halloween - Giveaway Drawing Tonight!

Ghouls, goblins, and ghosts will well as he whose head is lost, all orange and round!

For our mystery treat, perform the right trick. Enter here and be darn quick.

The winner's name will become crystal clear, once the midnight hour has gone and drawn near..

A message like this is what you seek, when your inbox come morning you take a quick peek.

Good Luck and Happy Haunting....

Friday, October 30, 2009

MoonCat Farms Marketplace

MoonCat Farms Marketplace finally has something in it! I got off my rear and found some time to list some of the note cards that I've made from some of my photographs. The three shown above are the first up. I will be adding more over the next few days. All of them are also available as prints. My Etsy shop also has a couple of the flower pincushion/sachets that I made.
I would love to hear what you think!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

29 Posts in a Row!! - Blogtoberfest

Can you believe it? I am almost there! A whole month of blogging, EVERY single day...

If you've been with me very long, you'll know that I've been a rather sporadic/spastic/not very regular blogger. Even though I've had a bajillion things on my plate this month, I am so glad I decided to participate in this event known as Blogtoberfest. It has really made me do some thinking and planning for my blog and what I'd like to do with it.

The big bonus for me has been meeting so many new people from all over the world. Some very lovely people have discovered my little old blog and I have discovered several "new t0 me" blogs that I am really, really enjoying. I have also been entering drawings left & right (usually in the wee hours of the morning when the house is quiet).

Because of all of this late night wandering, I've won a couple of drawings - Woo Hoo! Some really cool prizes are coming my way. I will post about them in the next week or so when I can get photos of all my lovely prizes. (Yes, I've been a real piggy with the goodies. But, I will be sharing the blog love and luck with another drawing or two of my own here very soon! Stay tuned...)

(Photo from myevaforeva)

I won these little beauties from myevaforeva . Aren't they cute? She offers a great tutorial on how to make these lovelies as well as many other great projects. Check it out!

In the meantime, it's not too late to participate and maybe win yourself some prizes while discovering some great blogs. You can find a list of drawings being held in conjunction with Blogtoberfest at Curlypops (as well as a lot of fun on her site).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Whinny - Sunday Sailor

I talk a lot about the ranch and all of our horses, but I tend to be lax about showing you our beauties. Today I would like to introduce you to Sunday Sailor, our Paint Stallion. He is the daddy to the majority of the great horses we use - Cinderfella, my mare Cindy, Pete, and Missy (photos to come, I promise).

We are very proud of the big guy (as is my usual, I have an alternative name for him: Booger, which he does answer to!) He is now a big 18 years old and still going strong. We breed several outside (not our own) mares to him every year. He throws such gorgeous babies. Fortunately they all seem to get his sweet disposition as well as his good looks. Many of them have also inherited his abilities. He's very athletic and a great cow horse. We use him to work cattle, sort, team pen, rope, and just ride for pleasure. He's my big sweetie!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Clutter Busting / Fall Cleaning

I've never been much into Spring cleaning. While Spring is my 2nd favorite season, it is far, far behind Fall. I'm an Autumn cleaner/declutterer. It is my time to muck out and renew mentally and physically before Winter sets in. This year it is doubly important with this major move and household consolidation finally nearing completion.

I'm driving Mom & Hubby nuts as one of my main strategies is that only one box can be brought INTO the house at a time. When it is completely unpacked and PUT AWAY, the next box comes in. It has really been working because the house is presentable (don't look in my lovely, large walk-in closet or the craft room/office yet - they are non-public areas for now anyway). The kitchen was usable the very first day because of this strategy.

I'm trying to stick to the credo of "If it doesn't have a place, it needs to go". It's making me review my priorities as to what is really important and what are just things/possessions. The sheer amount of STUFF that we have accumulated over the years is overwhelming and almost frightening. I am trying to be ruthless in disposing of things and finding new homes for those that still have life left in them. The boxes for getting rid of stuff are starting to fill up.

One of my favorite strategies when unpacking (or doing my Fall cleaning) is to have several boxes labeled and ready for the various destinations as well as a bunch of trash cans. Because of the recent move, I have several more boxes going out than usual, but you'll get the idea. These are the boxes I am currently sorting into, you can use as many or as few as suits your needs:

YARD SALE/EBAY (Since we are basically combining three households, we have a lot of items that are duplicates or things that just need to go away cuz they're ugly, sorry Hubby but they are!)

GIVE AWAY (I actually have some of these broke down into who they're going to: Ant, C&C, animal shelter, donate, etc.)

STORAGE/KEEP (Things such as holiday decorations, re-gifting, photographs, etc.)

TRASH (self-explanatory I hope)

I've always heard a lot about the emotional aspect of physical clutter in our lives. Since we've moved into this new home, I am really starting to understand what they are referring to. We aren't living as slaves to our possessions anymore. I can open closets without wearing a hardhat. I don't have to dig through ten boxes to find one of my many glue guns. The house feels light and open and I really think that is contributing to how happy we are here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Recap

We had a really nice visit with Hubby's folks along with my Ant and my Mom's best friend. They were all here at different times so it was like a revolving door, but it was nice. Mom enjoyed all of the chaos for her birthday celebration. Dad actually came over for birthday lunch and breakfast the next morning. (Those of you that are familiar with Pops know that he is a bit of a hermit at times and likes to stay at the ranch.) I made Mom the spice cupcakes from Gramma's recipe and they were a hit as always.

We had a special guest in our yard for the celebration as well. This beautiful egret has decided we have a pretty good place to hang out. He spent quite a bit of time perched in the top of the tree by our gate.

I spent Saturday going through boxes in an effort to make room in the garage (for more boxes that we still have to get over here one of these days.) I was pretty tickled to find a lot of crafting goodies that I haven't seen in ages. They got packed away before Hubby moved in so it was a lot like Christmas. Hubby spent the day with Dad working on the fences and gates at the ranch.

Sunday was spent out at the ranch with Dad and cattle sorting again. Beautiful day to spend out in the fresh (country) air and sunshine.

I hope you all had a great weekend. I am working on a post about my decluttering strategies that I hope to have up later this week.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Selections

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, and penetrates walls to arrive at a destination full of hope.” - Maya Angelou

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Sweetness - Scottish Shortbread

We've been on a bit of a Scottish kick lately (and I'm sure you can tell that I've been going through our wedding photos again). Hubby is wanting some haggis (ugh, not my thing thank you very much). My thing is Scottish Shortbread.

Shortbread is pretty much the sweetened version of a Scottish medieval biscuit or bread roll. When we went to the Scottish Games a few weeks ago I snagged some toffee shortbread that was quite tasty! It was good, but I still prefer the basic recipe and I use the one below often, with some variations depending upon what I feel like. I have added walnuts, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, etc. It's pretty much up to your imagination.

Scottish Shortbread Cookies

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup BUTTER (don't use margarine - 100% butter is the key to the taste)

2 1/2 cups flour

Heat oven to 275 degrees F. (I use a food processor to speed this next part up.) Combine the two sugars and process until they are very fine. Cut butter up into about 10 pieces and add to the sugars, pulsing until the sugar granules disappear. Add flour and pulse until the entire mixture is moist and crumbly.

Place entire mixture in a plastic bag and press it together to form a dough (mixture will be sticky). Knead lightly until dough holds together well. Remove from bag and shape the dough into little balls, about 1" in diameter. Place on ungreased cookie sheets about 1 1/2 - 2" apart. Use a fork or glass bottom to flatten each ball.

Bake from 45 minutes to an hour or until the cookies are a pale golden color. When you remove them from the oven, take the cookies off the sheets and place them on wire racks to cool. Will make about 50 cookies.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Finally Friday - Dr. Seuss

I just love quotes by Dr. Seuss. You don't have to be 3 or 4 years old to appreciate them and how relative they are to our lives at any age. The first one is probably my favorite while the second is just really appropriate because I'm in love with the Hubby. (mush mush)

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Our First Houseguests!

We're very happy to be welcoming the Hubby's Mom & Dad to our new home for a visit. They live in Arizona and we haven't seen them since July 4th. It's so nice to be able to share the new house with them as we didn't have room for guests in our old place (plus it was a pit so we would be mortified to even have anyone come in..)

It's doubly nice that they are up at this time because today is my Mom's 72nd birthday. We decided not to have a big shindig since she's not really up to it. So instead we're planning a nice lunch with cupcakes (remember the spice cake recipe here ?) and ice cream..yum. It'll be just close family with my Dad and my Ant Lola (another short aunt) also coming over. Beautiful day for a celebration and family visit!

(photo from our wedding which was also their 50th wedding anniversary! taken by Sara Deasy of DC Photography Studios)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kevin Bacon Stood Me Up

How could he have let me down so? I waited and waited....I played our song..."Gotta cut Footloose.."

Not really, but a gal could dream huh?.. Our 25th High School Reunion went off without any major hitches. The food was excellent, the music took us all back (waaaaay back), and the company was great. We had a lot of fun catching up on everyone's lives. It's funny because I don't feel like 25 years have blown by, but then I look in the mirror or at photos like this..

One thing that we laughed about after looking at the photo above is that there are 3 sets of best friends from high school that are still best friends today, me included. Beak (2nd from the left) & I (2nd from the right) have been BFAs (best friends always - we had to be different from the BFFs - best friends forever) since we were 7 years old! And now, we finally have men in our lives that really, truly like each other (and she & I like each other's man) so we can FINALLY go out on double-dates and vacations together!

Our class graduated 82 students. We were bummed that we didn't have two more to make us "84 in 84", but oh well. We were one of the smallest graduating classes in many years and I think the closeness many of us still share is due in part to the small class size. Of course, I'm sure the fact that we were a small "country" school also plays into that. It amazes people who are new to our group when they find out that many of us have been together since we were in kindergarten. These friendships are some of the most valuable relationships in our lives.

We were hoping more people could make it to the reunion, but family, finances, & illness kept many from making the trip home. We're already talking about plans for our 30th.....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One Word Answers

I saw this on Jo's blog and decided I'd play along. You can only use ONE word to answer each question. (This is especially helpful since I don't have my reunion recap post ready for ya yet and I don't want to miss my Blogtoberfest post for today!)

1. Where is your cell/mobile phone? Charging
2. Your hair? Frizzed
3. Your mother? Sleeping
4. Your father? Cowboy
5. Your favo(u)rite food? Chocolate
6. Your dream last night? Funky
7. Your favo(u)rite drink? Milk
8. Your dream/goal? Happiness
9. What room are you in? Living room
10. Your hobby? Crafting
11. Your fear? Loss
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Earth
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren’t? Rested
15. Muffins? Banana-nut
16. Wish list item? Health
17. Where did you grow up? California
18. Last thing you did? Blogged
19. What are you wearing? Glasses
20. Your TV? Background
21. Your pet? Children
22. Friends? Valuable
23. Your life? Mine
24. Your mood? Contemplative
25. Missing someone? Jeanne
26. Vehicle? Truck
27. Something you’re not wearing? Shoes
28. Your favo(u)rite store? JoAnn Fabrics
29. Your favo(u)rite colo(u)r? Purple
30. When was the last time you laughed? Earlier
31. Last time you cried? Yesterday
32. Your best friend? Beaker
33. One place that you go to over and over? Dad's
34. One person who emails you regularly? Dortie
35. Favo(u)rite place to eat? Outdoors

Have fun with this and see what answers pop in your head first with each question!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness - All Year Long

"You have breast cancer"

These words are spoken to 1 out of every 8 women. My doctor gave them to me and my mother's doctors have given them to her - three times now. What about those other 6 women?Are they at risk too? Below are some known risk factors:

• being a woman
• getting older
• having a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2
breast cancer gene
• having a personal history of breast or
ovarian cancer
• having a family history of breast or ovarian
• having high breast density on a
• having a breast biopsy showing hyperplasia
or carcinoma in situ
• never having children
• having your first child after 35
• radiation exposure, frequent x-rays in youth
• high bone density
• gaining weight as an adult or being
overweight after menopause
• current or recent use of postmenopausal
hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Most women have more than one of the above risk factors and will never get the disease. Some women have only the fact that she's female. While we do have control over some of these issues, many we don't.

I was 39 when I was given the news. I had two very small lumps on the side of my right breast. While my mother had already had two mastectomies, there was no connection between our cancers. The tests for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 markers was done with a negative result, so it wasn't hereditary. The doctors were actually rather stumped by my case. I was very fortunate in that I only had to have a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. A genetic test was performed that indicated the chance of my cancer reoccurring was about 4% so my doctor advised no chemotherapy. I am very lucky that it was caught early.

Mom's was much farther advanced and required much more radical treatment: mastectomy, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone drugs after the fact. She went through this in 1994 and again in 2003. Unfortunately, she is battling it yet again as they have found a spot in one of her lungs that is the breast cancer returned. But, the good thing is that there is hope and optimism, due to the amazing advances in research that have occurred in the last few decades.

While we would not have chosen it, Mom and I have had front row seats to see this progress up close and personal. I had been trying to prepare myself to go through all of the things that I had witnessed Mom dealing with while fighting the disease. My doctor started discussing all of the new procedures and options available to me that weren't around when Mom was dealing with this three years prior. He said that there would probably be something new out there before I was even done with my treatment. And there was...and will continue to be as long as we all support the research that needs to keep being made until they cure this monster.

Besides offering financial support and doing everything we can to help the organizations listed at the bottom of the page all year long instead of just in October, women need to take the first step and take care of themselves. Educate yourself, do your self-exams, get your mammograms, take responsibility and control of your breast health.

From the site:

• Talk to your family about your family health
• Talk to your doctor about your personal risk of
breast cancer.
• Be aware of the risk factors — such as being a
woman, getting older, never having children or
being overweight after menopause.

When breast cancer is found early and confined to
the breast, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent.
• MAMMOGRAM: X-ray of the breast that can
find breast cancer in its earliest stages. Have
one every year starting at age 40 if you are at
average risk.
• CLINICAL BREAST EXAM: Physical exam by a
health care provider who checks for any lumps
or changes. Have one at least every three years
starting at age 20, and every year starting at 40.

• BREAST SELF EXAM: A tool that may help you
learn how your breasts look and feel. Report any
changes to your health care provider right away.

• Maintain a healthy weight
• Add exercise to your routine
• Limit alcohol intake

Please ladies, GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS. I don't want any of you to have those front row seats like Mom and I have had.

For more information:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Selections

‘”The only gift is a portion of thyself” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

(visit Thistle Cove Farm for a post that brought this quote to my mind)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Halfway There - Blogtoberfest

Well, I've already broke my own personal record by posting more than a day or two in a row. I am thrilled that I have managed to make it to the halfway mark in Blogtoberfest and I'm aiming for the whole 31 days. (If you don't recall, Blogtoberfest is a challenge coordinated by tinniegirl and curlypops to get bloggers to post every single day for the month of October. There are A LOT of giveaways also associated with this worldwide event so be sure to check out the participating blogs.

Also be sure to check out my giveaway here, it closes on Halloween - October 31st!

Please Note:
While I don't get to respond to every comment, I do really want to thank you all for sticking with me and actually reading the posts. I really appreciate you and you taking the time to comment on something I've written. It really brightens my day. Thank you again.

(The Hubby is pretty tickled by the great response his post received. I think I may have him convinced to do a (sorta) regular report now. Thank you ladies..)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Most Treasured Possession

Mom and I were at the hospital earlier this week waiting in the pre-op for one of her procedures. If you are familiar with these areas, you will know that there is absolutely no privacy whatsoever. On this day, I was actually glad of that. If the little "rooms" weren't separated by thin fabric sheets hung by chains from the ceiling, we never would have heard a very tender and beautiful moment between a father and daughter.

A family was in the cubicle next to us. The very young daughter was having her appendix removed. (You learn everything about everyone in pre-op.) While waiting for the nurse, the older sister came in and told the mother that the father was out in the parking lot crying.

He eventually came in to see his little girl. When she asked him why he was crying, he told her that he was worried and was wanting her to hurry up and get all better. She then wanted to know why he was worried. He replied that she was his most precious treasure in the world. Mom and I were both starting to wipe at tears but then hurriedly had to muffle our laughter when she squeaked and said, "Even more important than your horse?" He started laughing and assured her that she was even more precious than his horse. It was such a sweet exchange.

It made me recall a time when I was in trouble and my dad offered to sell his valuable (and most precious to him) horse (the mother to both Cinderfella above and my mare Cindy) in order to get me out of a jam. I wouldn't let him do it, but it just goes to show that good daddies will do anything for their little girls. I obviously wouldn't trade mine for the world!

Since we were there at the hospital for almost six hours for Mom's 30 minute procedure, we had lots of time to discuss and reflect on what we'd heard. We posed the question to each other as to what our most treasured "possession" would be. Excluding our loved ones, friends and critters.

When you are surrounded by "things/possessions/stuff", how do you narrow it down to just ONE item? What would be YOUR most treasured possession?

After contemplating it for quite a while, I decided that mine would probably be my engagement ring. Not just because the love of my life is the one that gave it to me, but for another reason as well. Michael designed my ring to be fit with the three diamonds that I inherited in my grandmother's ring. The diamonds belonged to her and my great-grandmother. I always dreamt of having the ring reset into something I could wear daily. Michael made this happen with the most important piece of jewelry in my life. This makes it even more sentimental for me because there are generations of happy, long-lived marriages attached to my ring.

All of this pondering (besides straining my brain) follows along with the fact that I am into some extremely heavy de-cluttering of our lives. Our move has really brought the point home that we have TOO MUCH STUFF. I am planning on doing some future posts on de-cluttering and probably will have some giveaways involving fabric & craft stashes that are taking over my new sewing/craft room......stay tuned

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Moving, Moving Never Stopping

I'm starting to think that I will never be done with this move. We are packing and unpacking on an almost daily basis. Above is my kitchen/dining room table as it has looked for the past month.
Below shows some of the most important pieces of "FURniture" that we moved into the house immediately. For our sanity and theirs...
They both have a bed in the bedroom as well, but none of this keeps them from sneaking up onto the sofa when we're not paying total attention. Spoiled little beasties.. gotta love 'em, lots.
Hopefully I will soon have less whining about moving to share with/dump on you. Thanks for putting up with it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Guest Post - The Hubby Report

Today's post will be authored by The Hubby. He has graciously been coerced into writing some guest posts for the blog in October during Blogtoberfest. Maybe I can get him to consider extending his contribution and keep giving our dear readers a fresh perspective. (I have included the above photo because it is very relevant to today's entry and gives you another look into our life with the critters.) Without further introduction, The Hubby speaks/writes...

Life In This Crazy House

6:30am, the "children" start to stir. By 6:45, the sound of the cats' thundering paws resonate on the hardwood floors as they race up and down the hallway. Time for me to get up and start my day in this crazy place we now call home.

I step just one foot out into the hallway and am instantly greeted by many fuzzy little faces. It kind of reminds me of that "Got Milk" commercial where the elderly lady runs out of milk and it shows the paw reaching up to flip off the lights. Kitty??? See the commercial here

Moving around at this time of day takes a lot of skill and acrobatics. With the small furfaces in front and the two dogs behind me, the trek to the front door begins. You see, if you don't put the dogs out before feeding the cats, Chandler will sneak in and inhale the cat food.

The fun is still not over. Once the boys are safely outside looking for gophers and toads to protect us from, the long journey to the kitchen begins. Like a cargo ship cuts through the watery wakes, so must I make my way through a sea of fur.

With the cats fed, I can finally have my cup of coffee and relax. But wait, one of the dogs has actually caught a gopher and is now head deep in a hole. Maybe I'll get my coffee with lunch???

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cattle Sorting Practice

We spent Sunday at the ranch, helping Dad with the cattle sorting practice and just hanging out with him.

Cattle sorting is similar to team penning which I wrote about a few weeks ago and you can read about here. In sorting you also have a team of three riders, but you only have 10 head of numbered cattle (1 each from 0-9) at the other end of the arena instead of the 30 cattle in team penning. The numbers are basically like a huge dog collar with two large vinyl panels with a number on each side. They are put on for the practice and then taken off before the cattle are turned out to pasture for the night.

There is a foul line about 40 feet from the end of the cattle side of the arena instead of a pen you're trying to put them in. Once your team is in the arena and ready, you are given a number from 0-9. You then have 1 1/2 minutes (90 seconds) to bring your cattle across the line IN ORDER with no cattle crossing the line before their turn. Example: my team is given #4. We have to bring them out 4,5,6,7 etc. The team with the fastest time and the most cattle out in order wins.

It's a fun event that the whole family can participate in. You will see a lot of little kids and even some older folks having a good time at the cattle sortings. It's a little easier for beginners to ease into as it's not as fast-action (to start with) as team penning and you can use "greener" or less experienced horses while learning yourself. Playing with cattle and good horses is always fun!

There is also a version called "ranch sorting" that is done in a large pen and with only two riders on the team. The big difference is that you must take the cattle through a gate in order instead of across a line. Both versions are a lot of fun, but I usually prefer the ranch sorting.

I like the ranch sorting because I grew up doing this when it wasn't even an event. It was just plain old ranch work where Dad would put me in the gate while he sorted calves off the cows to be shipped to market. I got to be a very good gate man(girl) and ended up getting a lot of dirty looks from crotchety old cowboys that Dad would hire for day work. They didn't like the idea of a kid, much less a "little girl" doing a man's job. I always had fantastic ranch horses and was a good rider so I could compete with most of the grumpy old farts for the choice jobs. I had been working cattle for my dad and many other ranchers from a very young age and earned a good reputation. Kicker was that even though I was getting a paycheck for day work, I was really there to help my daddy and enjoy the heck out of myself. (Didn't realize that I was championing women's rights when I was nine years old!)

Being "in the gate" was a coveted position when working cattle as you got to work your horse and really enjoy the ride. When working the gate your horse is sliding from side to side and making lots of quick moves to keep cattle from escaping past him. It was always the most fun part of the day to be on a cowhorse that was "getting down in the dirt". I still enjoy it today on my mare Cinderella. It's better than a roller coaster ride by far.

Our day started out with a few minutes with Fred (or as I call him Ferd). Dad rescued him after one of the barn cats abandoned him when he was just about 2 weeks old. He was a fighter from day 1 and is now the ruler of the roost. He has Dad and anyone who comes over wrapped around his little furry paws.

"It's about time you got here to visit me!"

"Why won't you come and play in my house?"

Michael checking the cinch on his horse "Whiskey"

Sonny, Dad, & Les "warming up ", in reality - gossiping while walking around in circles

The cheese stands alone...

Adolph (Dad's dog) thoroughly bored by it all

We went to dinner with Dad after we were through with the sorting practice and all of the animals were (well) fed. A very lovely way to end a nice weekend. Now it's back to boxes.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Harvest Arts and Peace Festival

What a great weekend we had. Hubby and I played hooky from all of the moving and rigmarole associated with it. We ran away to the foothills for a play date at the 17th Annual Harvest Arts & Peace Festival in Prather, held at the Intermountain Nursery (same place I took the wonderful Natural Perfumery Workshop that you can read about here).

The weather was perfect, warm with a slight breeze. Lots of patrons strolling the lovely grounds of the nursery looking at their plants and natural landscaping:
Lots of demonstrations and informational booths such as the one on falconry that this beautiful peregrine was staffing:

Way too many wonderful craft booths for someone on a tight budget like I am supposed to be following. I couldn't resist to add another piece of Halloween decor to our new home:
And thank goodness I have such an understanding and supportive husband. I couldn't leave the nursery without these new herb babies:

We ate delicious Portabella mushroom ciabatta sandwiches and drank natural root beer - YUM. It was a great day and we really enjoyed our little escape from the boxes and mess that is moving.

More on the rest of the weekend tomorrow.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Selections

“The best and most beautiful things in the world
cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.”
- Helen Keller

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Sweetness - Nutty Spice Cake

If I've never mentioned it before, we had cupcakes at our wedding reception. 300 cupcakes to be exact. 300 cupcakes that I personally baked two days before the big event.

To top it off, we ended up having a "Frost Your Own Cupcake" dessert table due to the fact that everything fell apart the night before the wedding. My friend brought up all sorts of sprinkles and fun decorations the morning of. Between a forest fire, blown tire, cancelled rehearsal, unfinished dress, no flowers delivered, etc. etc. etc., it is a miracle that the ceremony took place at all. But it was perfect, it was us, and we're happily married! (And everyone says they had a blast..)

My point is that one third of those 300 cupcakes mentioned above were from my favorite cake recipe of my grandmother's. She made this wonderful spice cake for me all the time growing up and I couldn't imagine not having it at my wedding. The directions below are exactly as she wrote them for me over 20 years ago and are how I make mine still today.

Note: One of these days, really really soon I hope, we will unearth the camera from the moving boxes and I can provide you with real photos again. My cell phone camera just won't cut it..

Gramma's Nutty Spice Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan, 13x9x2" or 2 round layer pans (8 or 9x1 1/2"). Measure all ingredients into large mixing bowl. Beat 30 seconds on low speed, scraping sides constantly. Beat 3 minutes on high, scraping occasionally. Pour mixture into pan(s). Bake 40-45 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out of center clean. Cool on rack. Use choice of frosting and sprinkle finely chopped walnuts on top.

While you can use any frosting you want, in my humble honest opinion - the one below is the absolute best frosting, ever. I can eat this simple buttercream frosting on graham crackers, out of the bowl, off my fingers, etc. I highly recommend it for this great cake. (You can find it and other variations from C and H Sugar Company . They also have it printed on the boxes.)

Simple Buttercream Frosting

3-3/4 cup (l lb. box) C&H Pure Cane Powdered Sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup butter or margarine (2/3 stick), softened

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Beat until smooth and creamy; scrape bowl often. If too stiff to spread easily, beat in a few drops of milk.

You can vary this recipe by adding chocolate syrup, peanut butter, orange peel, etc. Lots of ways to customize and really experiment with changing the taste to suit you.

Enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Big Mouth

I posted Wednesday about 80s rockers Night Ranger still being one of my favorite bands. I thought I would share one of my not-so-impressive moments regarding them. I was lucky enough to meet these guys back in 1988. They were doing a charity gig in Modesto, CA and I was fortunate to win tickets to a meet & greet before the concert.

I was really jazzed & couldn't wait for my chance to talk to them and get their autographs. The guys were all really nice and pretty cute too.. Being that I was a (then) cute little 20 something, I got to spend extra time talking with each of them and taking photos. (I wish I could find them after all of these years, but I think they may have given up the ghost during all of my moves..)

Anyway, I was really excited when lead singer Jack Blades asked my opinion of the new album. I had been listening to the CD day & night so I felt that I could give him a pretty good appraisal. We chatted about it for a few minutes and then he asked me about one song in particular. I told him that it was not my favorite, in fact my least favorite on the disc but it was ok. He asked why & I explained that the words just didn't mesh with the tunes as well as some of the songs for me. He was so cool, thanked me for my honesty, and said that it was refreshing to get an frank opinion instead of just a bunch of trite comments. He gave me a hug and kissed my cheek (whoo hoo) and I moved on to talk to one of his band mates.

As we drove over to the concert venue, I looked over what the guys had written to me on my CD insert/cover. My euphoria took a very quick nosedive when I came to the list of tracks. By each song is the name(s) of the songwriter.

IMAGINE how I felt when I noticed that the song Jack Blades had asked me about was one written solely by him. I felt so BAD! I don't like to hurt people's feelings if I can help it at all! I wouldn't have been quite so brutally honest with my critique if I had known it was his sole creation. He was so gracious and sweet though, I was very impressed (and mortified after the fact). Maybe that is one of the many, many reasons I still enjoy the heck out of these guys after all these years.


Go here to learn more about this great Bay Area band.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shop til you drop (the plastic bags)

During our recent move, we had to empty out and clean (ugh) two refrigerators and a large freezer. Since we weren't very bright at the time and chose the hottest few days of the summer to move, quite a bit of the food became spoiled. (Actually a lot of the freezer stuff thawed out & we couldn't use it up quick enough - dogs loved it though!)

The point to this whining is that hubby & I had to go on a MAJOR grocery store trip this week. I have been slowly phasing out any boxed mixes, processed foods, etc. that we should have never had in the pantry to begin with. So this was a re-stocking and changeover type of shopping spree.

I was actually very proud of us as we followed my list almost exactly and didn't stray too far from what I had budgeted for this adventure. Our fridge is full of fresh fruits and veggies (that we don't grow ourselves) and the pantry is now stocked with lots of new basics such as brown rice, wheat flour, and rolled oats. (I've always had rolled oats, just needed lots more since Christmas cookie season is fast approaching.)

The other good move on our part was that we BOTH actually remembered to take in all the fabric bags from the truck. ALL 15 of them! No plastic bags for us now! Our grocery store gives you a 5 cent credit for each bag you bring in to use. Might not seem like a lot, but it does add up over time, especially when you think about how many plastic bags you DIDN'T use.

The bag pictured above is the one that started it all for me. I won it in a drawing from The Green Bag Lady a while back. I have collected and made several of my own since then to come up with our grand total of 15.

Teresa aka Green Bag Lady is amazing. She has organized the stitching of and distributing of over 6500 bags and counting. That is just through her own site and events. She has her entire family involved in this wonderful endeavor and the project is dedicated to her late mother who taught her to sew. Teresa has inspired many others to jump on the bandwagon and do the same with their extra fabric and time. She offers a free video tutorial here and the free bag pattern here so that the rest of us can start doing our part in reducing and ridding the world of the dreaded plastic bags.

One of the other great aspects of Teresa's shopping bag blitz is that the bags are made from donated materials and recycled/re-purposed fabrics such as curtains and sofa covers. She also supports local animals shelters by making pet beds from the scraps and materials that are too heavy for the bags. What a great way to help our environment and our animals.

Green Bag Lady's motto is "When they ask Paper or Plastic? Say Fabric!" Pretty good words to live by huh?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Top 100 Songs of 1984 - Rocktoberfest!!

* 1. When Doves Cry - Prince
* 2. What's Love Got To Do With It - Tina Turner
* 3. Say Say Say - Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson
* 4. Footloose - Kenny Loggins
* 5. Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) - Phil Collins
* 6. Jump - Van Halen
* 7. Hello - Lionel Richie
* 8. Owner Of A Lonely Heart - Yes
* 9. Ghostbusters - Ray Parker Jr.
* 10. Karma Chameleon - Culture Club
* 11. Missing You - John Waite
* 12. All Night Long (All Night) - Lionel Richie
* 13. Let's Hear It For The Boy - Deniece Williams
* 14. Dancing In The Dark - Bruce Springsteen
* 15. Girls Just Want To Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
* 16. The Reflex - Duran Duran
* 17. Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper

* 18. Jump (For My Love) - Pointer Sisters
* 19. Talking In Your Sleep - Romantics
* 20. Self Control - Laura Branigan
* 21. Let's Go Crazy - Prince & The Revolution
* 22. Say It Isn't So - Daryl Hall & John Oates

* 23. Hold Me Now - Thompson Twins
* 24. Joanna - Kool & The Gang
* 25. I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder
* 26. Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell
* 27. Break My Stride - Matthew Wilder
* 28. 99 Luftballons - Nena
* 29. I Can Dream About You - Dan Hartman
* 30. The Glamorous Life - Sheila E.
* 31. Oh Sherrie - Steve Perry
* 32. Stuck On You - Lionel Richie
* 33. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues - Elton John
* 34. She Bop - Cyndi Lauper
* 35. Borderline - Madonna
* 36. Sunglasses At Night - Corey Hart
* 37. Eyes Without A Face - Billy Idol
* 38. Here Comes The Rain Again - Eurythmics
* 39. Uptown Girl - Billy Joel
* 40. Sister Christian - Night Ranger
* 41. Drive - Cars
* 42. Twist Of Fate - Olivia Newton-John
* 43. Union Of The Snake - Duran Duran
* 44. The Heart Of Rock 'N' Roll - Huey Lewis & The News
* 45. Hard Habit To Break - Chicago

* 46. The Warrior - Scandal
* 47. If Ever You're In My Arms Again - Peabo Bryson
* 48. Automatic - Pointer Sisters
* 49. Let The Music Play - Shannon
* 50. To All The Girls I've Loved Before - Julio Iglesias & Willie Nelson
* 51. Caribbean Queen - Billy Ocean
* 52. That's All - Genesis
* 53. Running With The Night - Lionel Richie
* 54. Sad Songs (Say So Much) - Elton John
* 55. I Want A New Drug - Huey Lewis & The News
* 56. Islands In The Stream - Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
* 57. Love Is A Battlefield - Pat Benatar
* 58. Infatuation - Rod Stewart

* 59. Almost Paradise - Mike Reno & Ann Wilson
* 60. Legs - ZZ Top
* 61. State Of Shock - Jacksons
* 62. Love Somebody - Rick Springfield*
* 63. Miss Me Blind - Culture Club
* 64. If This Is It - Huey Lewis & The News
* 65. You Might Think - Cars

* 66. Lucky Star - Madonna
* 67. Cover Me - Bruce Springsteen
* 68. Cum On Feel The Noize - Quiet Riot

* 69. Breakdance - Irene Cara
* 70. Adult Education - Daryl Hall & John Oates
* 71. They Don't Know - Tracy Ullman
* 72. An Innocent Man - Billy Joel
* 73. Cruel Summer - Bananarama
* 74. Dance Hall Days - Wang Chung
* 75. Give It Up - K.C.
* 76. I'm So Excited - Pointer Sisters
* 77. I Still Can't Get Over Loving You - Ray Parker Jr.
* 78. Thriller - Michael Jackson
* 79. Holiday - Madonna
* 80. Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us - Ollie And Jerry
* 81. Nobody Told Me - John Lennon
* 82. Church Of The Poison Mind - Culture Club
* 83. Think Of Laura - Christopher Cross
* 84. Time Will Reveal - Debarge
* 85. Wrapped Around Your Finger - Police
* 86. Pink Houses - John Cougar Mellencamp
* 87. Round And Round - Ratt
* 88. Head Over Heels - Go-Go's

* 89. The Longest Time - Billy Joel
* 90. Tonight - Kool & The Gang
* 91. Got A Hold On Me - Christine McVie
* 92. Dancing In The Sheets - Shalamar
* 93. Undercover Of The Night - Rolling Stones
* 94. On The Dark Side - John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band
* 95. New Moon On Monday - Duran Duran

* 96. Major Tom (Coming Home) - Peter Schilling
* 97. Magic - Cars
* 98. When You Close Your Eyes - Night Ranger
* 99. Rock Me Tonite - Billy Squier

* 100. Yah Mo B There - James Ingram & Michael Mcdonald

I'm sure you're wondering WHY I would give you this great list? Well, as I mentioned during my KEVIN BACON / FOOTLOOSE lovefest, my 25th High School Reunion is in 2 weeks and on top of all of the other THINGS going on in my life, I'm on the committee! I am currently (during the wee hours of the morning) working on our music list for the evening and thought I'd share some nostalgia from the 80s with all of ya! I took the liberty of highlighting/bolding the artists and their songs that I was fortunate/unfortunate as the case may be, of getting to see live in concert.
I will admit that Night Ranger is still, to this day, one of my favorite groups! What is fun about this is that I saw them, Pat Benatar, and Rick Springfield all last summer in concert (along with several others that aren't on this Top 100 list). They were mostly all still great.

Long live 80's Music..

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Madness - Giveaway Alert!

As if I don't already have a full plate, I've decided to host another giveaway! I am holding it in conjunction with the fun that is Blogtoberfest.

Pretty simple stuff (for the most part). Since I am also participating in a Homegrown Swap with some of my i-friends in the Herbal world, I think that is what the prize will be. We haven't completed the swap yet, so you will just have to wait with bated breath to see what you win! I will tell you that the majority of the ingredients/supplies are "homegrown" and that herbs may or may not be involved. I have some other "homemade" goodies that will probably get dropped accidentally into the box as well. I do like surprise giveaways... Clear as mud? It's a mystery to me too.

Now for the particulars, there are 4 ways to get entries in the drawing:

1: Leave a comment and tell me : what your favorite flower is and what part of the world you hail from (I will ship internationally - so ALL are welcome!).

2: Follow my blog.

Bonus: If you are already a follower of my blog before today (Oct 5th), you will receive an extra entry (on top of the one above) in the drawing! Just because I appreciate you sticking with me.

3: Subscribe to my newsletter.

4: Blog about my drawing, I will give you another 2 entries. Just be sure to leave another comment with the link to the post.

That's pretty much all there is to it. I will draw the winner on one of my favorite days, October 31st. You never know, I may just have to have more than one prize! I'm having too much fun..Be sure I have a way to contact you if you aren't a blogger. I hate it when someone wins and there is no way to tell them how lucky they are! I will ship internationally so ALL ARE WELCOME!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Selections

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." - based on 1 Corinthians 13

Instead of creating posts on Sundays, I will be sharing some of the various quotes and passages we used during our wedding and reception. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have.