Sunday, December 30, 2018

Farewell 2018 and welcome 2019...

I am very happy with 2018.  I got to spend some precious time with my friends from Denmark and my nieces.  Time with family and friends is always the best.  Despite a few stressful things it was a much better year than 2017.  I got some projects completed, did a little traveling, and was a lot healthier.   I am looking forward to 2019.   

My biggest goal for the year is 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.  

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.  

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. 

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.  

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.    

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.  

Well, that is it for my aspirations for 2019.   I have some pretty lofty goals this year.  I did pretty good with last year's expectations.  I'm happy that most of my goals were achieved in 2018.  As always, I look back on my goals and whether or not they were successful.

My number one priority this year is my health.  I spent way to much time visiting doctors in 2017.  I will drink more water, eat better, exercise more, and go to bed when I am sick.  I did much better this year.  I got a water bottle at work and marked how much I should have drank by 10:00, 12:00, 2:00, and 4:30.  It worked very well.  I tried to stick to my workout routine.  At work; two cardio days and 2 weight lifting days.   At home, every Sunday Ella and I went running or snowshoeing.   I am certain that has a lot to do with why I was not sick.  I did make it a point to get rest if I felt even the beginnings of a sore throat.  I can say that I ate better, but not in a healthy way. I found all sorts of wonderful recipes for babka and  other yummy foods.  Three out of 4 isn't bad.  

I want to spend a week off with my husband.  Normally, every year we take a week off and do projects together.  Our timing was off in 2017 and it didn't happen.  I missed it terribly.  My husband is my strength.  We have fun together and I look forward to our time with each other.  We actually took a couple of weeks off together and it was great.  We took some time in the summer and some time during hunting season.  After 24 years of marriage I can honestly say our marriage is even better than when we were kids starting out.  We still have the passion and same sense of direction that brought us together years ago.   

 Home improvements are again on the list.  This will be our 15th year in the cabin and it is time to spruce things  up. I am hoping to host several visitors this summer and I want them to be comfortable.  I am not going to wait until the last minute and will start in January.  This goal was pretty successful.  I finally got the bathrooms painted.  We had the house stained.  I repainted the front door a color we actually like.  We also had the stairs from the garage redone, as they were in terrible shape. There were a couple of things on the list I didn't get completed, but still things are fresher than before.   We had quite a few visitors this summer and I hope they were comfortable.  

To successfully implement a strawberry bed, more grapes, and add a shrub bed. I haven't had a good strawberry bed since we first moved to the cabin.  I make wine and hardly have any grapes on the property.  Doesn't make much sense.  I need to landscape a road that we took out and I want to do it with shrubs and grasses.   I finally planted strawberries.  They did ok.  I would love to get an old sheep water tank for the bed, but where I had them was fine.  I didn't get the grapes added, but a friend gave me a five gallon pail from her grapevines.  I have another month before I find out how that wine turns out.  We decided to wait with the shrubs and see how the old road would hold up with just grass.  It is ok.  After trying to dig past the top soil we added into the hard packed road, I'm not in a hurry to add anything that requires digging.  

Add a butterfly/hummingbird garden somewhere on the property.  Hopefully, on the slopes in front of the barn.  I had more butterflies this year than I've ever had and enjoyed them immensely.  I am hopeful my lost hummingbird found its way south before the freezing weather.  I would love to have a buffet for it this year.  This project was the biggest success.  The deer decimated every flower bed I had, except the butterfly bed.  I was so skeptical at the beginning.  I was overjoyed by the end of the summer.  The bed did fabulous.  It drew in  many butterflies.  I didn't have many hummingbirds and I'm pretty sure my late staying hummingbird from 2017 didn't make it.  :(  Since that bed was so successful, I may add another to the side of the barn.  

Make a barn quilt for our shed.   I have been wanting to do this project for several years and maybe if I write it down I will get on it.  Simply stated; It did not even come close to happening.   

I added a birding goal for 2018.  I tried to take a photo of every bird I logged.  That little addition made it extra hard.   I had 65 photographed birds and 72 total.  It was a good birding year.  I have to say it took some of the fun out of taking photos of birds when I needed to get one.  I look forward to just taking bird pictures for the fun of it.

Well, there you have it.  I am very happy with my 2018 accomplishments a look forward to a happy and healthy 2019.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Chocolate babka...

I was wandering through Pinterest when what to my wondering eyes did appear but a recipe for chocolate babka.  What could be better than bread and chocolate?  Two of my favorite things.

Chocolate Babka

1 c. Flour
2 1/2 t. Instant yeast
1 c. Hot water

Combine and let rise 45 minutes. Then add:

1 T. Salt
1/4 c. Honey
1/2 c. Safflower, canola, grapeseed, or other neutral oil
2 eggs
Zest of one orange
2 t. Vanilla extract
3 1/2 - 4 c. Flour

Knead for a few minutes, until dough is smooth.  Let rise 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, make the filling:

1/2 c. Butter
3/4 c. Dark chocolate chips
1/2 c. Powdered sugar
1/3 c. Cocoa

Knead dough and divide in half.  Roll into rectangles and spread the chocolate filling on top.  Roll into a tight coil and then cut the coil in half lengthwise.  Then cut widthwise the length of a breadpan.  Very confusing.  Twist the two half coils and let rise until it fills the breadpan.  Then bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  You may need to cover the top with tinfoil.  The original recipe says to boil a syrup of 1/3 c. Orange juice and 6 T. Sugar.  Brush it over the loaves.  Personally, I wish I had left that part out. Still I found the bread to be decadent.  

You can find the recipe at: Popsugar by Alexandra Stafford.  Her instructions are probably better than mine.   

It is the perfect bread for the holidays.  It must be, as I see Kim at Farm Girl was also thinking bread and chocolate together.  

My husband told me I need to change the name of my blog to:
Birds, bees, berries, blooms and breads.  Maybe.

What is your go to holiday bread?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Oh deer...

I am so thankful that I live somewhere that I can look out the window and see things like these two bucks.  I had fun watching them the other morning.  They were trying to decide if they should fight or just get along.  They ended up just getting along.  

They hung around for about 20 minutes and then wandered on their way.  Hopefully, they will hang around and I can find their sheds this winter.  If not they provided some much appreciated entertainment.  

Sunday, December 2, 2018


This weekend project was paper making.  I'm hoping to use the final product for gift tags or cards.  We had plenty of shredded paper.
I added the paper and quite a bit of water to the blender.  When it was a pretty strong pulp I spread it out on a window screen.  It was easier to spread when I covered it with some plastic.  
I had a paper wasp nest I've held on to forever with hope of finding a use for it.  I put some of it in the pulp.  I covered the pulp with the rest of it.  I'm not sure how it will work.  I'm going to be patient and leave everything alone for a week, so it can dry throughly.

I tried to take a photo of the the cabin with the lights.  The snow kind of ruined it.
Ella and I went on our first snowshoeing trip.  It was beautiful outside.  One minute the sun was shining and the next it was an icy fog.  It was a breath taking walk.  Some of it the beauty and some was snowshoeing is hard work.
When we got back to the cabin the sun was shining again. Everything looked grand with a fresh coat of snow.
My snowshoeing partner is wore out.  Actually, so am I.
Have you ever made paper?  How did you use it?  What was the last new project you tried?  How much snow do you have?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Ready for spring...

My big project for the weekend was to clean and sharpen my gardening tools.  I didn't get around to it last year and was amazed at how much rust accumulated and the dullness of my cutting tools.  
I washed and sanded everything.  I sharpened my cutting tools.  Then I gave everything a coat of oil.  I wish I had some linseed oil for the wood handles, but I'll get some before spring.  Don't they look fabulous?
As you can see, it will be awhile before they get used.  They are ready for action.  It feels good to have them in tip top shape.
I ended my prairie deer season with tag soup.  I saw plenty of deer, but since we had two butchered I was picky.  I can't complain, as I needed some quiet time.
I make most of the deer we harvest into roasts, jerky, and sausage.  I made sausage patties with the last deer.  They are great in biscuits and gravy.  I made summer sausage with this deer.  It is very fulfilling to use your own herbs for the seasonings. My husband smoked them for three hours.  I swear the smell and taste of smoked meat is unparalleled.
Don't they look delicious?  The white is frost, as I just pulled them out of the freezer.  I even canned five pints of stew meat.  That is great for stews, stroganoff, and enchiladas.  I also pulled out the final bag of frozen buffalo berries from last year and made jelly.  I didn't try to get my jelly overly clear, because I like the color when it is thicker.  I ended up with eight jars.  Yum, buffalo berries make the best jelly.
Well, that is my weekend in a nutshell.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  My husband smoked the turkey for nine hours and it was worth every hour. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  I know I have a lot to be thankful for.  Now that I have everything processed and my garden tools are all cleaned up, I think I will just hibernate until spring.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Peace and quiet...

I am still deer hunting.  So far I have seen gaggles of geese, flocks of ducks, a bald eagle, two little beavers working on a lodge, a three legged buck, and a buck that had a huge wad of baling twine tangled in his antlers.  I probably should have taken the baling twine buck.  By the time I realized what the green gob that was coming towards me was and that it was attached to a buck it was too late.  Despite a few cold mornings I wouldn't trade a day watching nature with anything.  My job is a constant stream of emergencies and dealing with people.  It is such a blessing to just sit quietly and just watch the world go by.  Sometimes I just need some peace and quiet.

 Meanwhile on the the home front, the turkeys are hanging out around the house.  This old gal decided to spend most of the day sitting in a tree.  

I am forever in awe of the colors nature can provide.  I took the photos below from our deck.  Could we be luckier?   I was happy the camera captured the colors as well as it did.   

There isn't much else going on in our little corner of the woods.  I still have a few more days of hunting.  Maybe I'll get something and maybe I won't.  I will still have some great memories and tales to tell.  Also I will be refreshed from a little peace and quiet.   Where do you find your peace?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

I'd rather be baking...

Today the wind was blowing snow everywhere.  It was the perfect day to stay in the house and bake.  There were several Pinterest recipes I wanted to try.  This morning I made Scottish Pancakes.  I've wanted to try making them for sometime.  They were perfect.  Sorry, no pictures.  I'm not the most astute in the mornings.  You can find the recipe at

Scottish Pancakes
Mix 1                                            Mix 2
1 c. flour                                       1 egg
2 t. baking powder                      3/4 c. 2 T. milk
1/2 t. cinnamon                            1 t. vanilla
2 T. sugar
1/4 t. salt
Blend mix 1 and mix 2 together.  Heat griddle and coat with a thin layer of oil.  Drop batter by 1/4 cup.  Wait until the top bubbles and flip.  Then heat until golden brown.  Delicious.

Next was some Raspberry Chocolate Chip Biscotti.  I found this recipe at

Raspberry Choclolate Biscotti
1/2 c. butter            3 c. flour                              3/4 c. frozen raspberries
1 c. sugar                3 t. baking powder             3/4 c. mini chocolate chips
2 eggs                      1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla              

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Slowly add dry ingredients.  Gently fold in raspberries and chocolate chips.  Divide dough in half and shape into rectangular loaves.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes then cut into slices.  Flip slices on the sides and bake for 15 more minutes.  Flip again and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Enjoy with coffee.
 The final recipe is Cinnamon Spice Sugar Cookies.  I wanted to try a different type of sugar cookie.  They turned out pretty good.  
Cinnamon Spice Sugar Cookies
Mix 1                               Mix 2                                        Frosting
2 3/4 c. flour                   3/4 c. butter                              2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. baking powder        1 c. sugar                                  1/2 t. vanilla
1 t. salt                            2 eggs                                        1/4 c. milk
2 t. cinnamon                 2 t. vanilla                                 1/4 t. cinnamon
1. t nutmeg
1 t. ginger 
Blend the dry and butter mixtures together.  Chill for 1 hour.  Roll out and cut into shapes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.   Top with frosting.  You can find the recipe at
Not only did I get the baking done, but I cleaned my closet and the junk drawers.  Yesterday was the opening of hunting season.  I spent the day out at our prairie property.  I saw lots of deer.  I even saw a 3 legged buck that seemed to get around just fine.  There is nothing better than a day outdoors observing nature. The ducks and geese were everywhere.  The sounds of their quacks and honks filling the fall air.  I didn't see anything I wanted to shoot.  I have a few more weeks.  Do you see the doe in the background of the photo below?  He's looking for love in all the wrong places.

I am a lucky person that I can spend one day outdoors enjoying nature and the next in a cozy cabin baking like crazy.  How did you spend your weekend?  When was the last time you tried a new recipe?  I have to say all three of mine were a thumbs up.  

A huge thank you to all of the Veterans out there.  I appreciate your service.  I understand that freedom is not free.

Sunday, November 4, 2018


I'm reading a book called A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives.  It is a conglomeration of essays about women who achieved things after the age of 40.  I can relate to its emphasis on the fact that you are never too old to start something new.  I started running on my 40th birthday, because I wanted to run a half marathon as a celebration of my age.  Prior to that my last official run was in high school.  I complained the whole time I worked out.  The day after the marathon I swore I was going to burn my running shoes.  Then my friend from Denmark told me to pack my running shoes, because she had entered us in the world's largest 5k.  Three months later I ran the five k and again swore I would never run again.

Funny thing is running kind of grew on me.  It also grew on my running partner, Ella.  Our Sunday runs have become tradition. She watches me like a hawk for any sign of running clothes.  Today she was a little miffed because she had to wear her orange neck gaiter.  It is hunting season and we both wear orange for safety.
As you can see, our route has beautiful views.  I'm lucky we can go out the front door and just run. Ella is a great partner and always stays right with me.  Today was fun because there was a light dusting of snow.   We saw coyote tracks, deer tracks, and even a set of lion tracks.  I was going to take photos  of the tracks, but the snow was so blinding I didn't get very good pictures.  It is funny how my opinion of running has changed.  I enjoy the feeling I get from running.   I believe they call it a runner's high.  Hopefully, the snow will keep at bay for a while and I won't have to change my running shoes to snow shoes.  

This week I stopped by to visit my relatives, Bob and Phyllis.  I was doing a bit of trading.  I had some honey, jam, and a sweet grass braid.  In return I got some hand knitted dish cloths and a little something extra.  Phyllis is familiar with my desire to have a picnic basket for each of my nieces and nephew.   She happened to see one at the old store in Aladdin, WY and she got it for me.  Now my collection is complete.  She even managed to find one that stayed with my red theme.  You can see it a little better at the bottom.  It is a Red Man picnic basket.  It is in perfect shape.  
We had a wonderful visit talking about history, hunting, and food.  She also found a photo of her, her brother and my mom, with her brothers and sister, riding in an old hay cart.  It is just like the one my husband restored.  They talked about how Sonny would push them all over in that cart.  I cannot believe no one lost a hand or finger in those wheels.  It is a great photo.  

It was a good week.  Great company and the weather has been holding.  We had snow yesterday, but this morning was a beautiful day for a run.  I hope you all enjoyed your weekend.  What is something you started doing after 40?  Do you have a photo of an old hay cart?  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


I had a birthday and our 24th wedding anniversary this week.  I also attended a funeral on my birthday, which is something everyone should do at least once.  It makes you appreciative.  I have always tried to live by the quote, "Do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many."  It is kind of my mantra.  Birthdays are to be celebrated, not shunned.  I am older and wiser than I was last year.  I always think of Susan, a fellow blogger, on my birthday.  I hold her dear to my heart, as her daughter, Kelly, was born in October the same year as me.  Her Kelly, passed away from cancer.  Susan's loss makes me grateful for every birthday I'm lucky enough to get.  
How does one celebrate a birthday?  By eating a big slice of chocolate raspberry cake (made by my loving husband) for breakfast with coffee.  Then towards evening enjoying some Chubby Chipmunk Truffles and Calamity Jane Wine from the Prairie Berry Winery.  Probably not the healthiest way to celebrate, but I had my doctor, dentist, and optometrist appointments today and was certified as very healthy.  I even disclosed my recent indulgences to the doctor.   She said as long as I kept that habit to once a year she thought I was safe.  I always have my yearly checkups all on one day around my birthday, so I don't forget.  It also makes it super easy to schedule next year's appointments.  
Well, that is all I have.  I made it another year and my husband and I are still happily married.  I hope everyone had a great weekend and for those of you that cringe at birthdays, I hope I changed your mind a little.