Sunday, March 19, 2017

Back to busy...

Whether I feel good or not, the weather was too nice to not take advantage of a winter respite.  I raked the lawn, planted seeds, planted the green house, and even put up a new piece of garden art I got.
I held off as long as I could, but raking the yard in the spring is a tradition I enjoy.  Now it just needs a rain and it will turn green.
 I managed to plant both flats.  Tomatoes, peppers, luffa, pumpkins, ground cherries, broccoli, squash, some little cucumbers, and a few flower seeds.  I always plant lettuce, spinach, and peas in the greenhouse.  I also planted some chamomile in the tea garden.  

I have seen this little garden decoration on pinterest for a long time now.  I would follow the pin and see it was for sale on e-bay.  Then one day they were gone.  I was very disappointed.  I often suffer from buyers regret, but I also suffer from non-buyers remorse.  When I saw it for sale again, I did not hesitate and bought it.  No regrets.  I think it is wonderful.  One of my goals for the garden this year was to incorporate more art into the garden.

 My bulbs, rhubarb, and peonies are coming up.  I am especially excited that the peonies I am babysitting for my sister seem to have survived the winter.  They didn't look very good last year, so I'm happy I didn't kill them.

 Of course I have to bake something over the weekend.  This time my husband requested some Famous Amos Cookies.  They are tiny, but packed with yumminess.  
Famous Amos Cookies
1/2 c. shortning
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. milk
2 c. flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. mini chocolate chips
Mix shortening, butter, sugars, egg, vanilla, and milk.  Slowly add flour soda and salt.  Fold in the chips.  Use a teaspoon (yes, a teaspoon) to scoop them onto the baking sheet.  Bake at 325 degrees for 16 minutes.
My brother made me this cup out of clay.  I love it.  It fits my had perfectly and keeps my water cold.  I am lucky to have such a talented brother.  

That was my weekend of adventure.  Both days it got up into the high 60's.  I guess it is supposed to stay warm.  I'm sure we will get some more snow, but I will enjoy it while I can.  Has anyone else started their seeds?  What is your favorite thing to plant?  I think mine are the tomatoes.  Hope you are having good weather.  

Sunday, March 12, 2017


I'm not going to lie things haven't been going well lately.  Work and health has taken its toll.  Just to keep it real the weather is nasty cold and icy.  Trying to hold my hygge, I'm going to look at things from my past that I am thankful for.

Sorry it wasn't the most positive post.  It can't be all sunshine and roses.  It did help to look at them.

Hope you are all having happy healthy days.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Early spring blahs...

I have the early spring blahs. We have had a few warm days and I can actually see grass in our yard.   It is too early to rake.  This is the worst time of the year.  Our biggest blizzards are usually from March to early May.  It is hard because you want to start gardening, but it is way to early.  I started my spring cleaning in January.  Just a little at a time.  First the closet.  Then the freezer and refrigerator.  This weekend I cleared out under the sink, the cupboards, and reorganized. 
I am pretty excited about one of my revelations.  I moved my picnic baskets so they were right next to the dishwasher.  It has been the best idea ever.  Why you ask?  My clean jars and bottles are stored downstairs.  Every night I start the dishwasher and every morning I empty it.  I'm not an early riser, so my mornings are perfectly timed events.  I don't have time to run my jars and such downstairs.  (My dad used to say if I broke a shoelace I would miss the bus.) Clean jars would build up on the counter, because I don't have a lot of room in my cupboards.  I don't like clutter and I either had to get up earlier or come up with a new plan.  Then I had an epiphany.  I put the picnic basket right next to the dishwasher.  When I unload in the mornings any cleaned jars or bottles go into the picnic basket. Volia, the items are inconspicuously stowed and it is easy to carry them downstairs.  I wait until the basket is full and then make one trip instead of 10.  Lazy maybe, but it is a good use of an otherwise item that would only get used a few times a year otherwise.  I also get that extra five minutes of sleep.  
Besides cleaning, I bottled some raspberry wine and made an apple pie and cherry pie.  Ella and I had to move to town for our walks, because the snow us pretty rotten and isn't good for snowshoeing or walking.   I also lit a candle, snuggled under a blanket, made a cup of hot cocoa, and read my new book on hygge.  If your are a follower of my blog, you know I am a big fan of the Danish tradition of coziness.  It was a good read.  It gave me a few more ideas to make our cabin cozier for guests.  One of these was to get a few more board games.  These will be useful when the weather isn't cooperating and we have guests.  Speaking of games, my husband and I also played a few hands of cribbage.  We haven't played since college and it has been a fun way to pass the evening.  The weather has been pretty nice, so I was able to enjoy mornings with coffee and Ella on the porch.  I also did a little garden planning.  

That is pretty much it.  Nothing overly exciting.  Just passing time until the weather permits me to work outside.  How do you pass the days when it isn't nice enough to get out and do things?  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A weekend of baking...

It was a cold weekend.  Nothing else to do but bake.  I did plenty of it.  I actually made the biscotti last weekend.  Some friends came over for coffee and what goes better with coffee then biscotti?
 Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti
1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
2 t. baking powder
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1/2 cut semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. dried cranberries
Mix ingredients together, fold in chips and cranberries.  Flatten into two cakes  and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.  Use a pizza cutter to cut into slices and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Melt white chocolate chips and coat the bottom of the biscotti when cooled.

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti
1/2 c. pumpkin pie canned 
1 egg
4 T butter
2 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 T. baking powder
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. cloves
1 c. chocolate chips

Mix ingredients together, fold in chips and flatten into two cakes.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Use pizza cutter to cut into slices and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.  Melt semi-sweet chocolate and coat bottom of the biscotti when cooled.

The next baking project was a variance of the skillet bread a few weeks ago.
Olive Rosemary Skillet Bread
 3 c. flour
2 t. salt
1/2 t. dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water 
1/2 c.  olives, chopped coarsely
1 sprig of dried rosemary 
Sea salt flakes

Mix bread and knead in olives and rosemary.   Let rise 3 hours. Grease a skillet with olive oil, top the bread with olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt.  Cut a cross in the top.  Let rise another hour.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.  My recipe deviates from the original, but I promise it rocks.  The last recipe was a tad bland, but this one is delicious.

Last, but not least,  chocolate cherry cheesecake.  I cheated and used a pre-made chocolate crust.
Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
2 pkg. cream cheese
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. International Delight Sweet Cream Creamer
2 eggs
1 c. chopped cherries
First, beat cream cheese, then beat in rest of ingredients.  Fold in the cherries.  Pour into pre-made crust.  Put the crust into a cake pan and fill the cake pan with water.  (It is called a water bath.)  Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes.  Take out and cool over night.  The next morning melt 3/4 c. of chocolate chips with 1/4 c. cream.  Pour over the top of cheesecake and top with leftover cherries.  Delicious and very bad for you.  That's ok, I needed some fat to help me through this long winter:)

That is it for my weekend adventures.  Baking and eating, eating and baking.  What is the best thing you baked this week? 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February Thaw...

We have seen the 60's and 70's the last couple of days.  It isn't helping my desire to garden.  I have managed to keep busy.  I am currently working on the backyard bird count.  These 8 crows and 1 magpie raised a racket to make sure they were included in the count.
 I'm always looking for projects and I have seen many beneficial bug bungalows.  I have wanted to make one and yesterday while cleaning the beds I had an epiphany the garden has everything I needed to make one.  The stems of the sunflowers, daylilies, and delphiniums are all hollow.  Then in the garage were a couple of hollow birch trunks that I was making into birdhouses.  I decided to repurpose one into a bug house holder.    Then I found an old stick that I had covered in bedsprings, stuck the beneficial bug bungalow on top, then poked it in the snow for a photoshoot.  It needs some tweaking and maybe a stronger stick.  I am pretty pleased with my creation.  I will keep close tabs on it and see if it is just decoration or if it will actually provide refuge for some bugs or butterflies.  

 Keeping with my hygge traditions I made some pumpkin pie white chocolate and drank it in my Danish cup.

Pumpkin Pie White Chocolate
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
dash of cloves
dash of ginger
dash of salt
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. white chocolate chips

Gently whisk on low heat until the white chocolate chips melt. 

 My husband and I went shed hunting on the prairie property.  Our neighbor had extensive beaver damage.  Funny thing is we never saw where their dam was.  As you can see from their attempts at the giant cottonwood below, they have grandiose plans. 

 We had some results from our search.  The large jar is very interesting as it has thumb divots around the top.  The little half pint bottle will make an excellent vase.  
 It is actually melting up on the mountain also.  I finally found my little hedgehog.  He got covered by the snow, but came out of hibernation.  He is now safely on the porch.  I finally got around to wrapping my roses.  You may think it is too late, but actually winter doesn't kill them.  It is the freezing and thawing in the spring.  I put fencing around them and will stuff them with pine boughs.
 While I was out piddling around my husband has been spending his weekends completing the room above our barn.  It is looking pretty good.  I am very proud of his progress.

He has pretty much done everything on his own.  Once and a while I hold things, but that is about it.  I can't wait to show you the finished product.  It will be fabulous.

Well that is all I have.  Quite a bit actually.  It is amazing how much energy a person has when the weather is nice.  It is supposed to snow on Wednesday, so it will be back to the grind.  That doesn't mean we didn't enjoy the break.  

What is the weather where you are?  Have you been able to see your garden, much less putter around in it?  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Skillet bread and snowshoes...

For as much as I got done last weekend, this one was quite unproductive.  I did go snowshoeing, hiking, and made some easy no knead skillet bread.  

My trusty side kick was super excited to get out and enjoy the 40 degree weather.  I snowshoed on Saturday and Sunday so much had melted that I just walked.  It was great to stretch my legs.  The sun was sure shining. 

My husband grilled some chicken on Saturday and I thought this recipe looked interesting and was pretty quick to make.  I took a photo of the bread in the skillet, but the steam fogged up the camera.
This bread was super easy to make, tasted great, and convenient when you don't have all day to make bread.

Easy No Knead Skillet Bread
1 pkg yeast
2 c. warm water
1/2 Tbs. salt
4 1/3 c. flour
Add the yeast to water and let sit 5 min.  Slowly incorporate the flour 1 cup at a time.  Also adding the salt.  Cover and let rise 1 hour.  Coat the inside of a cast iron skillet with olive oil.  Slowly move the bread into the skillet without punching it down. Carefully shape it into a disk.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes.  Coat with olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt.  Cut an X in the top and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

That was it.  I had plans, but just didn't get it done.  Still, I feel much better after all of that fresh air.  I hope the weather was as pleasant where you are.  Were you able to get out?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Spa day...

I was busy this weekend working on spa day projects.  This time of the year it seems like everything is drying out.

Brown Sugar Lip Balm:
1 Tbs. Honey
1 Tbs. Coconut Oil
1 Tbs. Brown Sugar.  

Mix together and shove in some old lip gloss holders.  I stuck them in the freezer.  I used one later today and it worked great on my alligator lips.
Fresh Snow Detox Bath:
3 c. Epsom Salt
2 c. Baking Soda
1/4 c. Almond Oil
1/4 c. Coconut Oil

Mix together it has the consistency of fresh snow.   The post has a great template for a label. 
Three Ingredient Lotion Bar
1/4 c. Beeswax
1 1/4 c. Coconut Oil
1/4 c. Almond Oil 

Melt in a double broiler.  I add a few drops of my favorite perfume.  I just read in Little House Living by Merissa Alink to recycle old deodorant containers for lotion bars.  What a great idea.  It works perfectly.  This recipe came from a pin originally, but I have changed it some to suit my needs.
 My next big project was to clean out a bunch of old candle containers that I would like to use for other things.  I put them in boiling water until the wax softened.  Then I poured out the wax and wiped them dry with paper towels.  
 The two enamel containers will make great planters.  The two ceramic jars with lids will be good for bath salts and soaks.  Not sure about the little pan.  It said not to be used for food, so I'm unsure of it's potential yet.   I also melted some beeswax and made a couple of small candles for our lanterns.  

Now that you have all these relaxing recipes, it is time to use them.  After you are revitalized, step outside and enjoy.  Here are a few photos from our last snowstorm. I had no idea how fun it would be to take photos of snow in the dark.

That is the my weekend in a nutshell.  I hope you get a chance to try some of these recipes.  They are tested and approved.  What is your favorite way of relaxing? Do you have any homemade spa recipes?