Sunday, January 12, 2020

Thankful...

Thankful.   That is my word for 2020.  Last Friday I held a retirement party for a very good friend.  The picture above is the group of people that were at Boxelder Job Corps when I started.   I have learned something from every single person in this picture.  They are all friends, mentors, and a wealth of knowledge.  We have been through a lot together.  Some have long since retired.  Some were here this year when the government fired us in May and it was my job to look all of our staff in the eye and tell them it was over.  Then the government decided to keep us at the end of June.   Still, we move forward.   We had several breaks in our water pipes before Thanksgiving and again we were on the brink of closure.  Still, we move forward.  This year we lost five former students to various tragedies.  Yet still, we move forward.  We got together that Friday.  We laughed and at the end we cried. I don't talk a lot about my job.  It is stressful.  We deal with youth from poverty.  Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.  The wins are worth it, but the losses are heartbreaking.  I couldn't have a better job and I have been lucky enough to work with some incredible people.  The gentleman third from the end, in the cap, once told me, "learn something from every person you meet, no matter if they are your best friend or your greatest enemy."  I have always remembered and try to apply that advice.  A huge thank you to these people and the impact they have made on my life.  I'm blessed.

On the home front, I've been keeping busy.  I bottled 10 bottles of plum wine.  It turned out pretty good.  I have been finishing a feather a week on my quilt.  I've been coyote/lion hunting every weekend.  I haven't seen anything, but it is great sitting outside.  Finally, I've been trying my hand at making porcipine quill earrings.  It is harder than it looks.  I now wish I had more quills.  I'm getting better with each attempt.  It is fun sitting on the couch beading.  Funny how those little beads escape.


Ella and I are still going for our weekly jaunts.  Today was absolutely beautiful.  What projects have you finished so far this year?  Are you getting outside and enjoying the winter?  I hope so.  It is beautiful out there.


Sunday, January 5, 2020

New Year and a new decade...

 2019 was a difficult year.  In May, I sat in on a phone conference where we were told that all Forest Service Job Corps were being closed.  I then had to tell our 57 employees that in September we would be done.  Thankfully, legislators and support from the Forest Service kept that from happening.  Still it was a scary year.  Twenty five years at an alternative school and finding out you need a new education job at the end of May does not bode well for a person.  Still, we made it through.  Now that that heart stopping obstacle is over, I'm mentally stronger and ready for a new year.   I'm a goal setter and I feel like I already have a good head start on 2020.  


First is self improvement.  I have been doing yoga six times a week for the last two months and I cannot say enough how much better I feel.  My balance, strength, and stress level has all improved.  Last year I started reading a book a month and I will continue that into 2020.  I am still looking for something to do within the community.  This one is more important than ever as the support we received from the community was overwhelming when we were told our program was going to close.  Very few of our students are local, yet the concern from the people around us meant more than they will ever understand.  I really feel the need to give back.

Gardening is always a goal.  I need to be proactive with all garden intruders.  Last year it was deer.  This year it was mice and slugs.  They ate all of my vegetables.  I do have a sneaky suspicion that Ella ate the broccoli.  I found Sluggo and this year I'm not afraid to use it.  I want to add one more cutting bed by the barn.  I would also like to add some plum trees to the orchard.  I also need to come up with a water feature.  My beautiful birdbath was decimated by the hail storm two years ago and I have been unable to find a replacement.

On the family front, I want to create a finished family cookbook.  With every family there are traditional meals and dishes that everyone is known for.  For the last year I have been gathering recipes and photos.  I gave myself two years to complete the project, so it was an enjoyable experience and not a rush to complete the job.  


I also started a big commitment and plan on making a quilt for every niece and nephew that graduates.  I believe there will be one every year for the next 10 years.  Oh my gosh.  What have I gotten myself into?  At least it will keep my winters busy.

My biggest goal this year is to support my husband on his new endeavor.  He plans on retiring in April.  We have been preparing for projects and a few bucket list items.  I am really looking forward to enjoying this summer with him.  His job had him busy and rarely able to make any weekend plans.  Now the world is our oyster.  Maybe we will even be able to take a trip.

Those are my future plans.  Now, lets see how I did last year.  


My biggest goal for 2019 was war with the deer.  They decimated my gardens in 2018.  It was very frustrating.  Generally, I don't have problems with them until the fall.  This year they munched through my garden in the spring, summer, and fall.  It was very disheartening.  I will spend the winter making battle plans and stinky smelling sprays.   Well, the deer didn't give me any problems.  Unfortunately, the slugs and voles ate everything.   The mice girdled all of my orchard shrubs, ate my plants, enjoyed my strawberries, and munched on my melons.  I spent a majority of the summer sniping them with my pellet gun.  I got pretty good towards the end.  The slugs would just attack a plant or zucchini and it would disappear overnight.  We had so much rain this year the slugs had the run of the place.  At the very end I found Sluggo and sprinkled it everywhere.  We will see how they do in 2020.

Focus on seed starting for the vegetable beds.  I did not have any luck with my seed starts last year and it hindered my vegetable garden.  I may even toy with using a grow light.   The greenhouse took it pretty hard with last year's hail storm.  Hopefully, I can get it back into shape.  I want more cherry tomatoes to broil and freeze for the winter.  More canned vegetables for stews.  Herbs for my olive oil and herb ice cubes.  They work great for cooking.  I'm still trying for a giant pumpkin.  I did great with my seed starts.  I had broccoli (until Ella ate it), melons, pumpkins, and tomatoes.  The tomatoes never ripened.  It didn't get warm enough.  My herbs did amazing.  I not only made my herb ice cubes, but also made salts, smudges, and teas.  I brought them all inside this winter and they are doing great.  

On the orchard front...  I am super excited about my new fish fertilizer program.  I am anxious to see how the orchard responds next spring.   I am definitely going to add grapes this year.  I am also looking at adding some June berries and adding more raspberries.  Despite the mice girdling the shrubs, the orchard actually did really good this year.  I continued with my fish fertilizer program.  I added some grapes and raspberries.  I still need to get some more June berries.

I want to add more flower pots to the rose bed and a bench.  I also want to make another butterfly bed by the barn door.  I was super happy with last year's butterfly bed.  I have some new garden chairs and I think adding a little sitting area outside of the barn would be lovely.  The flower pot project was a huge success.  I put lavender and marjoram in pots throughout the yard and since it rained regularly they were beautiful.   I didn't get the bed next to the barn done, as we were working in the area.  This year it will happen. 

Since I finally have some healthy habits for my body, it is time to expand my mind.  My brother, sister and I are going to try and read a book every month.  My brother calls it the FBC (Family, Book, Club).  We will see how it goes.   We each picked four categories and then will chose two books out of the four categories.  Some months we will read the same books, some months we will read from the same category.  I also have to take a college class for my teaching re-certification.  I'm a bit grumpy about the cost and I haven't had a college class since 2004.    If I'm a bit sporadic on my posts for the next couple of months, it is because I'm either reading a book or doing homework.   I not only passed the class, but also learned a lot about research.  I am utilizing this knowledge for a project this year.  The family book club was sporadic, but overall I would consider it successful.  My brother and I enjoyed reading and discussing books. 

In  October of 2018, I was honored to be nominated for the Spirit of South Dakota award.  It was an amazing experience and a great adventure for my family and I met some outstanding women.  I didn't win, trust me I didn't expect to win, just being nominated was an honor.  I was in the league of women all over South Dakota who had made a huge impact in the lives of the people around them.  The experience did inspire me to be a stronger influence in my community.  I am confident that at work I give everything and do my best to make young lives better.   I try very hard to be a solid support for my friends and family.  Now I need to look at how I can be a more impact in my community.  I'm not certain what my niche will be, but the Spirit of South Dakota experience showed me the importance of community involvement.    As I wrote above, this is still a goal.  If any of you have ideas I would love hear them.  What have you done that made a difference?  What was something that somebody else did that made a difference?  Please let me know what you think.

I hope you all had a wonderful 2019 and that 2020 will find you all happy and healthy.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Traditions...

The weather cooperated and I was able to go home for Christmas.  Our Christmas is filled with traditions.  One is getting outside and seeing the wildlife.  I miss the sound of the geese.  Their honks filled the air.

Christmas presents are just a small part of the fun.  Cooking Christmas dinner is a family affair.  Everyone chips in and does their part.  Mom's kitchen is a carefully coordinated dance.  As you can see below, pies are the dessert of choice.  

 I'm making a family cookbook, so we really worked to get photos of everyone in the kitchen.  My dad never cooks, except oyster stew.  Funny thing is none of us kids know how to make oyster stew.  We still needed an action shot of him in the kitchen and a plan was hatched.  When he came upstairs, I asked him to stir the gravy and my niece, Sierra, took an action shot.  It was a well coordinated event.   We were successful.    We were so impressed with our little plan that we even got the hired man, Jr, stirring the pot.





 My niece and nephew got radios for Christmas.  They used them to guide the little guy to the trash barrels.  You can see him carrying all the bags, talking on the radio, and being followed by the always in the background farm cat.




For the first time since we were kids, my sister and I did not have to do Christmas dishes.  Instead the two older girls washed and dried.  The whole time pretending they were doing a podcast.  We were able to pursue other interests, like putting together puzzles with the little ones.

 There is only one way to end Christmas day.  We go sledding.  It is probably our biggest Christmas tradition.  Nothing says the holidays like shoving your sister's kids down a precarious hill.  


 Yucca plants, rocks, cactus, trees, and fences aren't going to stop the fun.  Of course, you have to see how many people fit on the sled and inevitably the spills are the best part.  We did break from tradition this year and stopped sledding, before somebody got hurt.  Usually, someone gets injured and heads to the house crying or limping.  I'd like to think we got smarter, but the truth is we just got cold.


It was a great Christmas.  It is good that some things never change.  On the trip home I was able to stop and see my 96 year old grandmother.  Since many of the recipes in the family cookbook will be hers, I asked if she would grant me an action shot in the kitchen.  She was more than happy to oblige.  

That is a run-down of our Christmas traditions.  It made for a great trip.  What are your Christmas traditions?  Do you go sledding?  Does everyone help with the cooking?  Who does the dishes?  What desserts do you have?  Whatever you do I hope you had a very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

 The quilt is coming along nicely.  I am enjoying the repetition of tracing and cutting.  Next weekend the sewing begins.  I'm excited about the new challenge.  Already I'm making changes.  The original pattern isn't for a quilt, but a bed runner.  I think it will make a lovely quilt. 



I don't have much else going on.  I'm wrapping presents, baking babka, and keeping busy.   Ella and I went for our weekly snowshoeing excursion.  It was crazy windy.  The winter solstice came and went quietly.   I am ready for Christmas, which makes the holiday more enjoyable.  Are you ready for Christmas?

Sunday, December 15, 2019

New project...

 Here is my newest quilt project.  It will be against a yellow background, but I don't have the background material yet.  I have four down and six to go.   First, they all get cut out.  Then individually sewn on to the background fabric.  We'll see how it goes.
 My old snowshoes broke, so my husband got me a new pair as an early Christmas gift.  He knew Ella and I would both go crazy if we couldn't snowshoe on Sunday.  Bless Amazon's quick shipping.  We didn't miss a beat.  I really like them.  They seem to be lighter than my old pair.  I even have ski poles, so I'm right up town.

 She loves to run in the snow.  We've had some rather large lion tracks around this weekend.  She must know, because she kept close.  The lions must know mountain lion season doesn't start until after Christmas, because they always come around the cabin a few weeks before the season starts.  After it starts, I don't see another track.

Another weekend has come and gone.  We got quite a bit accomplished.  I'm happy to finally make progress on my quilt.  What are your winter activities?  Quilting, snowshoeing, skiing, crafting, or hibernating?

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Goal achieved...

If you have read my blog very often you know I love bread.  Any bread, I'm not picky.  When I was a little girl our neighbors would make lefse.  A Norwegian flat bread made with potatoes, cream, and butter.   I was always a bit confused that it was a Norwegian bread, since our neighbors were not Norwegian.  That was the best bread!  I could have eaten a whole batch.  It has always been a goal of mine to make lefse.  For some reason, it seemed a very intimidating task.  Not anymore.  Today I made lefse for the first time.  It was far easier than I imagined.

First, I took a bowl of leftover mashed potatoes.  I  think it was about 3 cups.  I added 1/2 c. Cream, 1 t. Salt, 2 t. Sugar, 1/2 c. Butter, and 2 c. Flour.  I mixed all up and rolled them into little balls.  I set them in the fridge for an hour.
I lightly rolled them out, being extremely generous with the flour.
I then laid the flat bread on a hot griddle.  The dough will start to bubble.  After about 3-4 minutes, flip it.  Then let that side sit for 3 minutes.  Lay the warm lefse on a flour sack towel and cover.  Continue to stack them in this manner.  Wipe the flour off of the grill with a wet clothes before putting another piece on the grill.
I am super happy with the end result.  I was very thankful I found a great YouTube video on the process.  "Let's make Lefse" by bcgaub.  Those ladies were wonderful.

That was the highlight of my weekend.  I am so glad I finally just dove in and tried making lefse.  A little lifetime goal achieved.  What is something you have always wanted to try making?


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

And it snowed about 25 inches.
 Our little Christmas tree was buried.
Luckily we have a tractor with a snowblower.  It made clearing the road short work.

 With the discovery of battery operated Christmas lights we put Operation Snoopy's Christmas into effect.  We scouted the steep hill going to our home and found the perfect tree.  Quickly we covered it in lights.  We were in and out without the neighbors seeing us.  If asked we will deny everything.  It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who did it since we are the only people up here with Christmas lights.  The thing is we are at the end of the road and nobody comes down here, so we've got that going for us.

What's Christmas without a little mystery? Do you decorate for Christmas?  Did you get hit with this last snow?