Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It is always important to me to look at the past and set goals for the future.  I may not meet the goals in the set time frame, but I'm a determined woman and eventually they are achieved.  2013 was a year on the run for me both physically and mentally.  

Review of 2013 Goals

-Visit Christina in Denmark for 2 weeks and see Hamlet's Castle.  Done!  The trip exceeded our expectations. Denmark is a beautiful country and the Danish people are amazing.  Christina was a wonderful hostess.  We stayed in a cottage close to the ocean.  It was a visit of firsts for me:  Swimming in the ocean, riding English, seeing Hamlet's castle after years of teaching the play, and (oh yeah) visiting another country.  Everything was perfect. 

-Finish my quilt and start another for my parents.  I did finish the quilt in time to give to Christina.  Now that things have settled down I will start on my parents.  

-Plant a Christmas tree, with the goal of posting it on December first 2013 loaded with lights.  This did not happen for two reasons.  One placement became an issue and the second was my husband wants a pine and I hate pine trees.

-Read 10 Books.  A Fine Romance, Rosemary Sweet Rosemary, Blood Trail, In Plain Sight, The $64 Tomatoo, The Square Foot Garden, From Beginning to End, Every Farm Tells a Story, Old Deadwood Days, and Hans Christian Andersen's Fairytales.  It came down to the last days to meet that one.  (Did I mention my friend Christina has an apartment in what was once Hans Christian Andersen's school?)

-Get a successful harvest from the expanded vegetable beds.  I got sweet corn, lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, potatoes, chamomile, parsley, basil, beans, peas, onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach, and tons of jalapenos.  My harvest exceeded my expectations, especially after several hailstorms. 

-Focus on salsa and canned vegetables and try making eggplant soup.  I made 4 cans of salsa and 14 cans of mixed vegetables, and 4 cans of beans.  Doesn't seem like a lot to others, but is just right for the two of us.  I forgot to plant the eggplant seeds, so no soup.

-Finish fencing the orchard.  This is a difficult subject for me.  We did not spend additional money on the fence this year.  Probably a good thing as I haven't seen a shrub since the October 4th blizzard.  I am afraid all of my patience was for naught and the berry bushes that were beginning to produce are crushed under the snow.  I tear up to think of it.
-Run the half marathon on the Mickelson Trail in June, then I'm done running.  Yes, I survived the half marathon with my niece and swore to never run again.  That is until Christina told me to bring my running shoes to Denmark.  I was lucky enough to run with my friend in the world's largest 5 k.   Twenty four thousand people run in that race.  I managed to hang tough on both races and keep my 10 minutes a mile goal.  I have broken the second half of this goal and for some odd reason continue to run twice a week.  I don't know what happened there. I'm really not a fan of running.
-Landscape below the fire pit.  I'm leaning towards an alpine rock garden.  Issues with snow removal have put a temporary halt on this project.  Until I know where the road is going to go, I will do no landscaping. 

-Continue to enjoy my life.  I have an incredible husband, wonderful family, and great friends.  This continues to be a successful goal.  I got to go on an adventure with my wonderful husband. I participated in a challenge with my niece.  I finally visited one of my oldest and dearest friends.  It was especially nice to spend a week with my sister and her family.  I enjoyed getting to know my four nieces better and meeting my new nephew.  I spoiled them all to the best of my ability.  To finish it off Christmas at my parents.  It was a good year.

Welcome 2014

Wow, where do you begin after a year like 2013?  I guess I'd like to do the opposite and spend some quality time home and not running around.  Literally running around, as I was running 10 miles on the weekends last year.  

1.  To keep my husband happy and healthy.  He will undergo some health challenges this year and I will be beside him helping and nagging. 

2.  Continue to push my garden skills.  This year I would like to focus on annuals and containers. 

3. Continue to produce Pinterest projects.  I have really enjoyed finding recipes, projects, and ideas from others.   I will also continue to turn the old into something new.  

4. Continue my education and exercising.

5.  All I have to say about fencing that orchard is if there aren't any shrubs left due to the blizzard (Atlas they call it) I am going to raise Highland Cattle in that damn corral.

5. Take it easy this year.  Stay close to home and enjoy the little things in life.  

Maybe they aren't the biggest goals, but they are mine.  I wish all of my blogging fellows a happy and healthy New Year.  As always, I am excited to see the adventures the new year brings. As the sun sets on a a truly stellar year I will slow down and enjoy life.  I am thankful for family and friends and continue to count my blessings.  I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Nothing says Christmas like sledding!

Christmas was awesome as always.  I received some very thoughtful gifts, but I didn't get up at 4 am and drive halfway across the state for the presents.  I got up for family, food, and fun.  We participated in our annual Christmas sledding.
 We had a few crashes.
Despite the grass and limited snow, the little plastic saucer sleds did great.
 This little one was adamant about going down feet first on her stomach.  It worked for her.
 This style of sledding was not so successful.
 Even the crashes were fun. 
                               Once you got the hang of it it was possible to pick up some speed.
 We had our own cheering section in the nice warm pickup.
 What goes down must come up.
 Even the littlest one took a run down the hill with Dad.
 This one was a real trooper.  That was a lot of climbing for those short legs.
No, not a crash.  They were exhausted after going up and down.  That is the universal sign for sledding is over.

You hear it all of the time that it is the Christmas Traditions that keep the spirit alive.  I have to say, nothing says Christmas to me like flying down a hill at neck breaking speeds.  I hope everyone had as happy a holiday.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A book review and a thank you...

I was so excited when we picked up the mail yesterday and I had a package from Sharon Lovejoy. I recently won Susan Branch's new book A Fine Romance and had been anxiously awaiting its arrival.  Little did I know that it was meant to be I win this book.  Originally someone else won the book at Sharon's blog, but they did not claim it.  My name was the next one drawn.  Now I know why.  The book is about true love and a journey across the ocean.  Two things I know about.

I am already halfway through the book and it has only been a day.  Susan does a phenomenal job of taking the reader along with her and her husband on their vacation to England.  It is easy for me to capture her enthusiasm, as my husband and I just took a 10 day dream trip to Denmark.  She begins the story by taking the reader back to when she first met Joe.  I'm glad she added this because it emphasizes how their trip was better because they shared it with each other.  Something else I can relate to.  Things are always better when you share them with the one you love.   I won't spoil the book, but I have to say I laughed to tears at her Car Talk tips for driving in England.  Especially, the photo of the car mirror in the hedgerow.   I'm so happy we had Christina to drive us around, thus we could enjoy the countryside.

Since I am a member of the Grimy Hands Girls Club, Sharon also included her book Rosemary Sweet Rosemary to the package.  I thank my sister for introducing me to the joys of Rosemary. Sharon's book gave me new ideas for it's use and I enjoyed learning the history of the plant.  It is ironic that I got this book when my Rosemary plant bloomed for the first time.   
I am very thankful for and highly recommend both books.   I have been running around the last few weeks trying to get everything done for everybody around me.  I was getting overwhelmed with the holiday stress.  This gift gave me a few minutes to sit down, put my feet up, enjoy a cup of coffee, and some good books.  Thank you Sharon and Susan and Merry Christmas to you and your families.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Busy in the kitchen...

Funny how things go slow and then all of a sudden a person gets busy.  This week I had a lot to do.  We decorated the cabin, went Christmas shopping, and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  

I finally took the plunge and participated in the Bountiful Baskets program.  Wow.  It provides a lot of food for $20.
Everything has been delicious.  I got carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, bananas, mangoes, green peppers, Anaheim peppers, and some grapefruit type things.  What I really like about it is I don't have a choice over what is in the basket.  When it comes I can assess what I got and then plan two weeks worth of meals around the contents.  It makes deciding what to have for supper so much easier.  The purple carrots were very tasty. 

I also did a lot of baking this week.  I have been dying to make salted caramel shortbread bars and finally tried.  My photo isn't half as nice as the one on the blog I got the recipe from.

 They turned out great.  A bit rich for two people to work their way through.  I recommend them for potlucks.  You are going to have to go to this post to get the recipe.  http://www.annies-eats.com/2011/09/09/salted-caramel-chocolate-shortbread-bars/?cook_view=5065

I also had bananas to use up, so I made my purple ribbon winning banana bread muffins.  I got whites in about everything I baked or sewed in 4-H.  This banana bread recipe was the only thing I made that earned a purple ribbon.  My husband likes them plain and I add chocolate chips to mine.

 I had two bananas left, so I tried this chocolate chip banana biscotti recipe.  It turned out ok, but needs a chocolate glaze.  I also used whole wheat not white whole wheat.  I think that made it a tad grainy.  Still, they turned were good.  It is very hard to find biscotti around here.   If I want some I usually have to make it.  You would think I would be halfway decent at making biscotti, but honestly it doesn't turn out the best.  Probably because I lack patience.  Especially, when you have to take them out, let them cool, cut them up, and return them to the oven.   Somehow that cooling before cutting part gets left out.

Chocolate Chip Banana Biscotti
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium overripe banana, peeled and mashed well
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup small chocolate chunks or mini chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the banana, egg, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and mix until the mixture starts to form a ball. Add the chocolate and mix to incorporate.
Divide the dough in two and form into logs about 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. Wet your hands to keep the dough from sticking, if necessary. Place the logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten them with the palm of your hand so they are about 1/2 inch thick.
Bake for 25 minutes. When they come out of the oven, turn the heat down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Allow the logs to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. If they hang out longer they will be more likely to crumble when they are sliced. Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to make 1/2 inch thick slices, preferably at an angle.
Arrange the slices on the same parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. They will still feel soft, but will harden as they cool. Serve or store in an airtight container. They will keep for several days or can be frozen.  I got the recipe from the following website:
My last big project for the weekend was butchering the deer my husband got.  I really need to take a class on processing game.  I'm not very fast or efficient.  I canned 9 jars of stew meat, kept a few steaks, and jerked out the rest.  I love deer jerky and the stew meat is wonderful to use in stews and stroganoff.   I wanted to grind some for breakfast sausage, but the store didn't have any ground pork.

I am now exhausted.   I could have used one more day to get things done, but you get what get.   I hope everyone else had a productive weekend. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Over Thanksgiving we were able to take the little ones to the Sioux Falls Butterfly House.   If you are ever driving through Sioux Falls I highly recommend taking a break and stopping there.  It is an amazing experience.  I could just sit there for hours watching the wonders of nature.  

 I so love the look of wonder.
 I wish they came to my butterfly feeders like this.

  Not a butterfly, but a very pretty flower.

 If you are really patient one may land on you.
 You must be very patient.

I put up Christmas decorations today, but they don't hold a candle to nature's natural decorations.  Sorry, I fail at being an educational site.  I don't have the names of the butterflies.  The girls kept the check off sheet.    It is always an amazing experience going to the Butterfly House.  I am thankful I have been able to share the experience with my nieces.   With the current cold snap (it has been -18 here) I thought I would re-live the experience.   Warm thoughts to you.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why I hunt...

Today was a beautiful day to hunt.  I didn't see many deer.  One little buck went by me at 15 yards.  That didn't spoil the day.  As you can see I'm not just in it for the deer.  Here are a few other things I saw.
A curious coon...
I was serenaded by a huge flock of Cedar Waxwings.  I always knew they were handsome birds, but I never realized how wonderful their song is.

 The geese were flying South in droves.
The geese brought back memories of growing up on the Missouri River.  When I was a kid autumn was filled with honking.  Here in the hills we only hear them fly over at night during heavy cloud cover.  Bear Butte was beautiful bathed in the evening light.  It made the walk home after an unsuccessful hunt more enjoyable.
I didn't go home empty handed.  Mother Nature left me a small present.
Then she put on an amazing show! 

I hope this helps explain why one would hunt.  Yes, I enjoy the meat and the thrill of the chase, but I also enjoy just spending a day in nature.