Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Too Much to Do Tuesday

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We certainly enjoyed the visit with my folks and I'm now ready to greet the New Year. Well, that's not entirely true, but ready or not - here it comes! I have always heard "things will slow down after the holidays". Hmph. I must have jumped on the wrong train because I feel like one of those cartoon characters that is holding on to the end of a caboose attached to the train that is speeding down the mountain. See that little blur flapping in the wind? That's me.

Suddenly, my list of things to do seems to have grown much too quickly and being up at 3 in the morning is not even on there! Argh!

My folks left on Saturday. 4 hours later my brother-in-law pulled in with his 3 little rascals. They were on their way to visit Granny and Grandpa and stopped in to stretch their legs for about 4 hours. They'll be back this evening for 3 or 4 days. I spent Sunday cleaning up the post-Christmas mess, catching up on laundry, and taking a much needed nap before hitting town yesterday to run errands. The boys were gone helping the neighbors work cattle so DD and I didn't worry about getting back for dinner. We came home with a truck filled to the brim with groceries - hopefully enough to keep us from making another trip into town for a good, long while!

While we were knocking things off of our list, the hired hand's wife called.
She's coming over this morning to pick up some beef so we'll get to enjoy some time to visit although I hope she doesn't mind if I'm multitasking.
Then DH phones and says that a friend is coming from Texas to pick up a couple of horses.
Is he bringing his wife and daughter?
Who knows?
When are they coming?
They'll be here for dinner.
My brother-in-law will be pulling in this evening with his 6, 8, and 10 yr olds.
Oh, and tomorrow is DH's birthday.

So here's my list for today:
1.Make Sopapilla Cheesecake for dessert and hope there's enough left for Friday.
2.Make Smothered Steak, rolls, potatoes, and salad for dinner.
3.Kick DS out of his room-again- sorry Bud - and make it up for BIL and 3 children for 3 or 4 days
4.Bake Auntie's Chocolate Cake for DH's birthday
5.Wrap DH's gifts (pick up the TV tomorrow morning)
6.Bake a batch of gingerbread cowboys because they're DH's favorite and I didn't get around to making them for Christmas
7.Write a letter and mail a friend's birthday card
8.Order Christmas pictures (this one might have to wait)
9.Make spinach dip for New Year's
10.Make Guacamole for New Year's Eve (DH loves this)
11.Oil dining room table
12.Mail check for DD's Driver's Ed
13. Mail 8x10 Christmas card photo my parents requested
14. Search for a snowflake cookie cutter on the Internet
15. Order subscription for quilting magazine
16. Clean up the 'sure to be chaotic' kitchen
17. Haul out the Christmas tree and clean up the pine needles for the next 6 months
18. Make Wednesday's list and hope it's shorter than today's
19. Collapse from exhaustion and wonder how people do this on a regular basis.
20. Dig a longer dirt road - this one is getting too short - the craziness is getting too close for comfort

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas From the End of the Dirt Road!

Just a quick note to wish all of y'all a very Merry Christmas! May your holiday be blessed with the beautiful gift of God's love as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Prayers for safe travels for everyone on the road and in the air. Sounds like many of you will be enjoying a white Christmas! Hope the good Lord send a little of that this way!

DD and I were pretty sick for a couple of days, but we've recovered and by God's hand, everything that needed to be done, is done. I didn't think we would get a Christmas Photo taken to include in the cards this year, but that too, finally, worked out. This one is a bit different, but I love it.

So as per, tradition, here's the final product along with the silly Christmas poem I keep getting requests for:

2008 Holiday Greetings from the End of the Dirt Road

Don’t blink – the year has come and gone;
Each year it only moves faster.
Didn’t I just write one of these -
Seems last week instantly morphed into last year.

Even so, we happily greet you this season,
With our update on family news.
The kids are still growing and we’re getting older,
With ranch life there’s no time to snooze.

We’re busy baking Christmas goodies that quickly disappear;
must hide them when they leave the range -
Too many eager hands always sneaking a taste -
some things never change!

Tyler is 18 and reaching 6’4;
his guitar never far from his side and it shows.
He just joined a band and plays day and night;
Where he got his talent –nobody knows!

Caitlin is 15 and taller than I
She’s still happiest on the back of a horse.
She’s starting young colts, still playing music
And writing cowboy poetry of course.

Both kids are still shooting alongside their Dad;
They can often be found at the range.
Its family time we all enjoy;
That’s one thing that will never change.

Gary still logs in lots of long hours;
Always working in 5th gear.
With prices sky high and fuel out of sight;
Ranching has been quite a challenge this year.

I’ve recently discovered a passion for quilting,
And can often be found with needle and thread.
Just completed my very first quilt,
But already have numerous others gathered in my head.

We are simply, abundantly blessed,
With family and friends we adore.
We’re happy and healthy and enjoy time together;
We couldn’t ask for anything more.

So that concludes my dirt road ramblings,
To friends both far and near.
We’re sending along prayers for a joyous Christmas;
May you be blessed in the coming New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My First Quilt!

Yes - the quilt is finished! Hurrah! Yippee! WaHoo! I'm so excited! It has been a long journey. The fabric has been patiently waiting on a shelf for some time now - 3 1/2 years to be exact. The curtains have been made for years and were quite lonely waiting for their companion piece to grace the bed, but the little family is now complete.

The process of making and completing a quilt can be compared to giving birth. It may not be quite as painful, but it takes a really long time before you are able to gaze lovingly at the finished product! LOL!

It took some finagling, but I am quite proud of the fact that DD's quilt sports 4 very clean mitered corners! Wahoo! I am so excited - I feel an acceptance speech coming on. There are so many people to thank!

~I must thank google for the video that showed me how to miter those pretty corners.
~The NFR, for televising 10 days of rodeo that gave me an excuse to sit for hours and quilt.
~My Scrapshare quilting buddies, who patiently answered my never ending questions about batting.
~My DD, who patiently, and sometimes not so patiently(grin) waited for the final stitch.
~DS and DH for enduring endless days and weeks without freshly baked cookies.
~The various and numerous quilt store personnel who patiently waited as I fretted and toiled and struggled over fabric selections.
~Cottonpicker, who without her generosity, this quilt would not be possible (thank you for lending me a sewing machine when mine took an early retirement)
~Ranch Wife, who went above and beyond the call of duty and held my hand throughout this lengthy process and still remained my friend. You can now breathe a sigh of relief. I feel as if I have sprouted quilting wings and you can now safely shove me out of the nest! Aren't you glad?!I think you created a monster. Oh - and I will one day learn to step away from the browns!

I feel a strong desire for a trip to a quilt store coming on...

Love, Dirt Road Scrapper - who is off to start another quilt and continue her search for a sewing machine!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Oh my! We went to a friend's house for Thanksgiving and dined on lots of wonderful, yummy things. This cheesecake was the best and she graciously sent us home with the little that was left. DH said it made the best breakfast the next morning! LOL! I have been so blessed by her friendship...and her recipes!

I visited with Ranch Wife this week to see what I could bring for our Cowboy Fellowship Christmas Service and I told her I had just discoved a great new dessert. She said she had one as well and it made me laugh when we both said "Sopapilla Cheesecake"! Just goes to show that great minds really do think alike! I know that this will be gracing our table during Spring Works - I'm pretty certain that the crew will give it a thumbs up!

Sopapilla Cheesecake

2 cans crescent rolls
2 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened - not low fat - go for the good stuff!
2 C sugar (divided)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C butter
ground cinnamon

*Roll one can crescent dough into bottom of greased 9x13 baking pan.
*Stretch dough and pinch seams together to form crust.
*Blend together cream cheese, 1 C sugar and 1 tsp vanilla
*Spread over dough - not too close to edge
* Stretch second can of crescent rolls over cream cheese layer to form top crust
*Melt butter and 1 C sugar and 1 tsp vanilla and pour over crust
*Sprinkle with cinnamon
*Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

This same friend once had a restaraunt in Houston and now has a catering business here. We're helping her with a couple of parties next week so it'll be fun to see what else she has up her sleeve! I love to cook so I'm really looking forward to this! Be sure and remind me of that when I come back here later this week and complain about how much my feet hurt! It'll be hard to keep up with S! Maybe some of her energy will rub off on me. I can hope, can't I?

Y'all enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Can No Longer Deny it - I'm Getting Old

Age has never bothered me. I have friends and family who cringe and fuss over each consecutive birthday. Not me - I think birthdays are a cause for celebration and I even handled the dreaded '40' without a second thought and 2 pieces of cake! It always takes me by surprise when someone asks my age and I have to think. 44? Really? When did that happen?

Well yesterday I was rudely kicked into the real world and I realized that my age was starting to catch up with me. Recently, I have come to realize that my eyesight isn't what it once was. My new found passion for quilting has made me keenly aware of my faltering vision. It has come to the point where I cannot thread a needle and I have become a source of much amusement for my family. The other evening we were all gathered in the living room watching the NFR and I was working on DD's quilt binding (yes, I am STILL working on her quilt!). As I was attempting to thread the needle, I could hear small snickers and feel the darting glances of my loving family who apparently enjoy picking on their poor, Mama. Finally DH says (with a chuckle) to DD, "Go thread that needle for your Mama". Sigh. She does so with an amused expression on her face, a chortle, and eyes filled with laughter. Gee thanks, dear!

Alas, I was convinced to make an appointment with the Optometrist. After much air blowing, eye prodding, light flashing and chart reading he sat back and announced his diagnosis: "My dear, you have been diagnosed with a common ailment known simply as age." Hmmm...at least he didn't say 'old'.The good news is that I have 20/20 vision! I don't see how that can be since I can't read without adding extensions to my arm, but he chuckled; I submitted to the professional and he recommended a pair of simple reading glasses. I've never worn glasses. Well, you will never catch me without my sunglasses on my head, but REAL glasses? Sigh.

Dr Greg also recommended that I pick up multiple pairs of glasses. He assured me that I would now be in constant 'search' mode and forever more be asking everyone, "Have you seen my glasses?" Either he knows me better than he should or he's was making a not so subtle point about the fact that my mind was taking flight right along with my eyesight.

I began to feel myself break out into a cold sweat as I stood in front of the glass display and contemplated my choices. While waiting at Dr. Greg's office, Cotton Picker phoned and I moaned to her. She laughed. While pondering my selection of eye wear, I phoned Ranch Wife and whined to her. She laughed. Humph. Some friends. Can I get a little support here?

So after apprehensively shelling out $20 bucks for these new optical devices along with a reminder from my dear friends that I could be dropping 100s of dollars for prescription glasses, I headed home. I learned very quickly to only use these for close work and reading. Looking up at anything more than 2 feet away is guaranteed to make my stomach lurch and my head spin.

I suppose I have now officially entered middle age. Ack!

No problem - I'll always be a kid at heart and if you feel the need to call me 'four eyes' you'll be safe if you run, I can't see you if you're more than 2 feet away from me.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Reaching for That Panic Button...

Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am God. Be still...

My sewing machine has finally died it's last death. At this point I wish it were a cat because it would still have 3 lives left. I spent the other evening weeping over its lifeless body. The large pile of unmade Christmas gifts wept alongside me. They were now destined to spend another year folded on a cold, dark cabinet shelf. The baby will no longer be a baby when the baby quilt is finally completed. Countless blouses, tops, and pants will be ruined because of their apronless fronts. How many hands will be scorched because the potholders are unfinished? My darling daughter will sit looking forlornly at her quilt with the unmitered corners. It's a sad day at the end of the dirt road.

And as if that's not bad enough, our big upright freezer decided to join the sewing machine. I guess it doesn't matter that it is home to about 100 pounds of beef. Honestly, you would think that freezer would be a bit more thoughtful - after all, it is the holidays!

I guess it figured I needed something to do since... I WOULDN"T BE SEWING! So now I am cooking up huge amounts of beef. Yes, I know it will be a time saver in the future, but that's really not what I want to hear. Sigh.

I'm also in need of poetic inspiration. Each year I write a silly Christmas Poem and each year I receive at least 30 cards that say how very much they look forward to it. I even get phonecalls and my parents get cards about it! So now I feel obligated to include it in my Christmas mail. Each year I stress over it. This year is no different - I can't find a rhyming stanza to save my life. Think all those people will accept this:

It's been lots of fun
I've enjoyed the run,
But sorry folks, the well has gone dry
Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodbye.

So although I am quite tempted to reach for that panic button, I hear a soft voice that is gently prodding me...Be still and know that I am God.

So all is well and God just reminded me where I stashed the chocolate!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Newest Additions to Santa's Team

I've been up to my elbows in reindeer these past few days. I've been busy adding to what has recently become a herd and the numbers are increasing daily. Actually, I think I'm about to wind this up. Aren't they cute though? I made several of these years ago, but I decided that they needed to make a second appearance. They are just as cute the second time around.

The tag reads:
Christmas is coming and so are the deer
Listen closely and bells you will hear
And along with them comes a special treat
Reindeer droppings for you to eat!
(Lift Tail)
Last night I set them on the buffet in the dining room once my eyes began to grow bleary. This morning I found our resident feline curled up amongst them. Soon her rascally companion joined her and I have found one or the other, or both of them, curled up in the midst of the red nosed critters all day.
Hope they haven't grown too attached to the one I'm sticking in the mail! You know how cats have issues with separation anxiety!

You just want to make sure you cut the hole in the back large enough when you stick the pom pom on. A few years back I gave one to the superintendent of the school and come to find out it was constipated! LOL!

These were so much fun to make. I can't help but smile when I look at them, but thank goodness I don't have to clean up after them!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tis' the Season

Whew! coming up for air! Seems as if things have exponentially sped up around here lately! I'm blaming it on too many trips to town - one every day this week - Monday through Friday! Ick! So far, I'm handling it well although I may need an intervention by the end of the week!

Between guitar jamborees (2) , mandatory shooting sports safety meetings (4), piano recitals (1), music lessons (2),and a horse sale (1), we are spending way too much time in town! I've got so much to do here at home and it's not getting done!

I joined in on a Secret Santa on an online scrapping group I belong to. What fun! I received a gal who is so much fun to shop for! I've just about got everything together and ready to get in the mail. Just have to figure out a way to get that reindeer to fit into the box and get those Rolo- Pretzel-Pecan thingies made.

I'm still wrapped up in the quilt although I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm working on the binding and if the corners will cooperate and I can find some time to stay at home, I might have it finished this weekend. The National Finals start on Thursday so I'll make time to sit and watch that and quilt. While working on this quilt, I have come to the realization that I am in dire need of an eye exam. I seem to have become the object of much amusement when I am trying to thread my needle so I finally gave in and made an appointment.

DD is spending every morning out with her Dad. They are working with the colts until noon. Then, as soon as we finish with dinner, we're generally out the door and headed for town. I've been leaving supper for Grandpa and DH and trying to keep them in cookies and dessert. Let me tell you - I would get so much more accomplished if I didn't have to spend so much time baking and cooking!

I've started pulling out the Christmas boxes - one or two a day because that's all I've had time for and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Can't wait until we can make our annual trek to the mountains to cut the tree! I've toyed with not even writing a Christmas Poem this year, but I can already hear the complaints. I didn't send one the year we moved between Christmas and New Years and believe me, I heard about it! So I'll have to start mulling that over.

Whew! Are things absolutely crazy for y'all too? There are so many things I want to do and there just doesn't seem to be enough time. It may have something to do with that character trait I am afflicted with.. you know, that thing called procrastination? I should have worked on the nativity sets I wanted to make in June. Alas, they will remain unmade this year. On the bright side, I know what everyone's getting next year!

Despite the long list of things to do, I am not stressing out. I refuse to succumb to the overpowering forces to do so. I'll just dig in my heels and keep my eyes on the Lord. He'll let me know what needs my attention and every time I think about putting my priorities in order, I realize that He should always be at the top of that list. So, I'll just remember to stay focused, breathe deeply, and pray my way through. I LOVE this time of year! How very blessed we are that we have such a beautiful reason to celebrate. Christ's birth is truly a cause for celebration -and not just during the holidays!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Layered Mocha Cheesecake

DD likes to bake. That does not bode well for me since I worked really hard to lose 30 pounds this summer. Alas, DH and the kids love their sweets. I'm generally able to abstain from joining them, but yesterday she decided to try a new recipe that I had marked in a magazine. She did a great job. She wanted me to note that she should have split the layers more evenly, but I certainly didn't hear anyone complaining!
Katie bar the door - this stuff is sinful! Thank goodness all you need is a teenie tiny sliver to satisfy. Rich and decadent does not begin to describe it! In fact, I am not a fan of Mocha (Love the aroma of coffee, but can't stand to drink the stuff!), but this stuff is wonderful! So if you like Mocha at all, this is your dessert!

Layered Mocha Cheesecake

1 1/2 C Oreo cookie crumbs
1/4 C butter, melted

2 Tbsp plus 1-1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
1 Tbsp boiling water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese softened (yes, 4!)
1-1/2 C sugar
1/4 C flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 C semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
Chocolate covered coffee beans, optional

1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp butter

*Combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of a greased 9-in springform pan. In a small bowl, combine the coffee granules, water, and cinnamon, set aside.

*In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour until smooth. Add eggs. Beat on low speed until just combined. Stir in vanilla. Divide batter in half. Stir melted chocolate into one half; pour over crust. Stir coffee mixture into the remaining batter; spoon over cheesecake layer.

*Place pan on a double thickness of heavy duty foil (about 16" square). Securely wrap foil around pan.Place in a large baking pan, add 1" of hot water into larger pan.

*Bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen, cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.

*In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter, stir until smooth. Spread over cheesecake. Remove sides of pan. Garnish with chocolate covered coffee beans if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

The only problem I found was that the top chocolate layer was firmly set and it made it difficult to cut a pretty slice. Next time I plan to omit the top layer and just sprinkle it with lots of chocolate curls and you can bet there will BE a next time!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flat Stanley Visits the End of the Dirt Road

Last week we had company. Flat Stanley came for a visit. A friend's son sent him and we were glad to find he made the trip safely. We sent him back today, but we wanted to share some of his adventures with y'all. Thought this would be the easiest way for our friends in Iowa to peek in on his adventures. So in the words of Flat Stanley:

Dear A,
Thanks for sending me on this trip! I had a really good time – just wish your family could have come too. The week went by way too fast. Mrs H. said that I could share these pictures and my story with you on her blog.

As soon as I arrived, I wanted to go out into the pens to meet the horses. They were all pretty friendly and they spent most of their time trying to take a nibble out of me.
It felt good to ride after being smashed into that envelope!
Mrs. H cooks a lot and I got to eat a lot of good food! The other morning we had biscuits and gravy – yum! A hot breakfast before heading out into the cold sure hit the spot.
We spent one morning bringing in some cattle to sort and send off to the ranch in Texas. I did my best to stay out of the way - didn't want to get stomped on!

I sure thought it would be warmer down here! It was below 30 degrees in the morning!

It was awfully cold, but Mrs. H made us some hot chocolate when we got back to the house and it didn’t take us long to warm up. She also made me a wildrag and gave me a hat. Later that day we had to work on some school – ick! I thought I wouldn’t have to do any school while I was away, but we had to work on it in the afternoons since we were planning the trip to Amarillo and we'd miss a few days of school. Then it was back out into the arena to work with the horses. Mr. H is always working on horsemanship. He's a natural.
Evening chores take a while when you've got cattle in the pens. They go through lots of hay!
We packed on Wednesday evening

and left for Texas at 6 the next morning. I was really excited to go to the Working Ranch Cowboy Association Ranch Rodeo World Championships! There were SO many people! We checked into the hotel where we found a gift basket from the WRCA – that was really nice of them!

On Thursday and Friday, we went to all the 4th grade classes in all the schools in Amarillo where the girl I’m staying with performed her cowboy poetry. She writes her own poems which I thought was really cool! Her brother, Tyler played his guitar and another family (The Milners) played as well. Then they answered questions about ranch life.

After the schools, we drove back to the Civic Center and walked around for hours at the trade show. They had lots of booths with everything from saddles to jewelry to boots and hats. Sure am glad they carried me because that was A LOT of walking! I thought this chuck wagon was really cool and a good place to sit back for a spell.
Mr. and Mrs. H bought some great leather to make chaps and some cow hides to put under their dining room table.

I felt right at home when Mrs. H took me to a couple of quilt shops on Friday afternoon- she likes to sew like your Mom. We also ducked into a music store where Tyler bought a neat guitar. He sure can play!

We were up early every morning. On Friday I stayed with Mr. and Mrs. H so that I could watch the Ranch Horse Competition. It started at 7 so we sat in a freezing cold arena for 5 hours and watched the contestants and their horses. A couple of times we got up to stretch our legs, but we didn’t want to miss anything – some of those horses were amazing!

In the evenings we attended the Ranch Rodeo. I’m sending lots of fun pictures from that! Here’s one from the bronc riding: The wild cow milking (this was funny to watch – those cows were ornery)
The stray gathering was a new event:
The team penning:
Hmmm…don’t think we got any pictures of the branding. But there was this guy named Brice who did some really cool rope tricks with his dog and horse. Mrs. H said that I was supposed to tell you: Do not try this at home!
The Budweiser Horses were there as well and they were really impressive! It was neat to watch the whole team of horses work together.

It was late by the time we got back to the hotel every night. I didn’t get much sleep while we were there so I hope I can catch up when I get home. I’m ready to come home, but I wish I could stay longer too. They just weaned the colts and are getting ready to start halter breaking them this week. This year they have 10 colts to work with. Of course, that means more early mornings! Tomorrow they are processing bulls. Sigh! These people never sleep in! Please tell me I'll get to snooze past 5 when I get home!

See you soon!
Flat Stanley

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Step Away From the Quilt!

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. I have simply been sucked into a quilt. I don't know what on earth possessed me to hand quilt the very first quilt I ever made! Most likely a case of insanity. Makes me feel like I've been sucked into a time warp. Once I sit down to work on it, the day simply evaporates into yesterday...or last week.

I am only forced to look up when various members of my family shuffle into view and beg and plead their case -they are hungry. To hear them tell the tale, they are near starvation and growing weaker by the moment. Oh where is the mother who once so lovingly prepared delicious feasts accompanied with homemade bread and always a dessert? Alas, she is only a memory. Sigh. This new mother quilts until she is cross-eyed, irons until the seams are flat, and sews until the cows come home. The oven has grown cold. The cupboards are bare.

Finally the pitiful cries are heard, "I want Mama back!" "We're hungry" "What's for dinner?" "Are you STILL quilting?" "Honey, aren't you tired?" "Just how many hours does it take to quilt that thing?!"

She looks up. She blinks. She moves to jump up. Alas, those old bones no longer have the ability to jump. She is growing old and her bones creak in disagreement. She has been in this spot for far too long.

The quilt must wait. She is needed. She turns on the oven. She is wanted. She mixes the bread dough. She is missed. She places the pie on the cooling rack.

Her family is ecstatic - she is back! And she tunes out the voice of the unfinished quilt that lies abandoned, sprawled upon the vacated ottoman as she settles at the table surrounded by her family.

Her daughter turns to her as she passes the bread basket, "Hey Mama, is my quilt almost finished?"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dear Senator McCain

Dear Senator McCain,

These past few days I have felt compelled to write down these thoughts that have been rushing about in my head so here I sit. First and foremost, I must thank you. Thank you for being a hero during a time when heros are few and far between. Thank you for your service to our country, past, present and future. The sacrifice's you have made are greatly appreciated. Thank you for standing up for all that is right and good for so many years when so many only follow the crowd. Thank you for choosing a side and not sitting on the fence. Thank you for standing up for what you believe in, for believing in the America that our forefathers fought to bring to life and for fighting to preserve it and the freedoms and values that America was built upon. Thank you for your selflessness when so many today only think of themselves. Thank you for your faith -"In God we trust" is always worth fighting for.

One of my favorite books is Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation - thank you for giving me the opportunity of discussing this with my children and then pointing to you as a highly regarded member of this very special group. We have had many fabulous conversations around the dinner table this past year and you have been in the center of so many of them. My husband and I have enjoyed the discussions about economics, government, history and the election process with our 2 teenage children. I'm proud that our son wishes to serve his country through the military.

And thank you for taking the time to make a stop in the little town of Roswell, New Mexico. I can't begin to tell you how very honored I was to have been a part of that! We were thrilled to take part in both rallys and it's an experience I will never forget. As a new American citizen, this was my first year to vote and I was honored to cast that all important vote for you and Governor Palin. This was my son's first year to vote as well and it was exciting to see his enthusiasm in the election process. He jumped at the opportunity to volunteer at the Republican Headquarters when he was in town and came home excited and passionate about your campaign and the vision you had for this country each time.

I must also thank your family for the sacrifices they have made along the way. The long, crazy hours; the intense schedule, the endless miles, the probing media coverage - it must be brutile. They handled it all with amazing grace.

On the subject of your choice for a vice presidential running mate: Sarah Palin was a brilliant choice!

I truly believe our country is a better place because of you. It's comforting to know that there are still people, although admittedly too few, out there who are willing to put their country first. I'm proud to be an American for numerous reasons, one of them being that America is still the land of heros and one of those heros just happens to be named John McCain. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family sir. Thank you and may God continue to bless America - he has done so in you.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Productive Weekend

The best part of this past weekend is that I never left the dirt road. It was an absolutely glorious fall weekend! I should have spent more time outside, but although I did enjoy a few hours basking (well, weeding actually) in the autumn sun each afternoon and walking, the majority of my weekend was spent in front of the sewing machine and at the ironing board. Why is is that I detest ironing, yet I thoroughly enjoyed ironing fabric for about 4 hours this weekend?

But before I could dig into my sewing projects, I had a huge pile of green tomatoes that were begging to be made into chow chow.

DH loves this stuff and we always had a ready supply from the neighbor in Texas. Since our move, DH has been without, so as soon as Ranch Wife blessed us with a plethora of green tomatoes (thank you!), I called our friend and begged and pleaded for his recipe. It's a good thing I love DH, because only love could make me withstand the nasty smell that this concoction emits! It may taste fabulous, but you would never know it from the aroma it produces while brewing on the stove! Oh my! The cider vinegar mixed with the jalapenos and peppers and cabbage and tomatoes was enough to send everyone running for the hills and that's exactly what everyone did on Saturday morning. Well, everyone except me, who had to stay and keep watch over the bubbling brew.

The things you do for love!

Then DH and I proceeded to process the deer he brought home earlier in the week. Yum! Nothing quite as tasty as fresh tenderloin and homegrown tomatoes for dinner! Our dehydrator has been working at full speed. After drying loads of apples dusted in cinnamon and sugar, it has now been commissioned to produce this years stash of deer jerky and it is running 24-7.

I then made a good dent in some of my projects once the chow chow was safely confined to the canning jars.

The fall table runner has now been pieced and is only awaiting a trip into town for batting in order to begin the quilting. I'll post pictures once it's completed.

DD's quilt is in the process of being quilted as well so now I am officially a quilter and that makes me happy! There is something very comforting about curling up in our big leather chair with a big quilt, a spool of quilting thread, a hoop, and a good movie on a cold evening, with my family, that just seems to soothes the soul.

I cut out and completely pieced a baby blanket for Clint and Tiffany's baby. It's 41x46 and so cute that I'm not sure I can part with it! I'll have to scrounge around and see if I can make another one to keep! They are using reds and blues for her colors and I was unsure of which direction to go until I stumbled across the inspiration fabric. I'm very uncertain of my fabric coordinating abilities, but I was somehow able to successfully pull together 10 various fabrics into this adorable quilt! Don't mean to toot my own horn, but I am just tickled pink about it! Now, it too, awaits batting. I'll be putting that 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby to good use this week! I'll use the deep blue fabric for the binding. I also cut out and sewed the fall apron I have been planning to make. The table runner uses this fabric too. The apron's finished so here's a photo: As well as cut out the pattern for the apron I'm making for my mom. She is so hard to buy for, but she likes to cook and she wears the half aprons so I found some classy material that I think she will love. It's on the bottom of this pile that Zoe chose as her afternoon throne. There's a coordinating stripe in there as well.
And I made a couple of potholders. The ones I have bought just seem so flimsy so I went in search of something more suited to what I want. I found some cute ones online with ragged edges that I thought looked kind of rustic so I proceeded to make up a couple.

Then I cut out material for a Christmas table runner. I have recently been blessed with a new friendship, another fellow Christian, quilter, scrapbooker who directed me to a beautiful free pattern online. I decided to search through my stash to see what I might have on hand and came across the perfect pieces. The funny thing is, it was purchased 14 years ago for a skirt! LOL! DO you remember those silly looking tiered skirts with the ruffles on the outside using 4 different fabrics?

When I showed it to DD and told her what I had originally planned to use it for, she laughed, "Gosh Mom! Aren't you embarrassed?!" If she only knew that one day she too will look back at the fashions of yesteryear and cringe! Although, in all reality, her entire wardrobe consists of Wranglers and boots and western shirts and that never goes out of style. Thus, I feel good about repurposing this fabric. I still love the fabric and it really will make a much prettier table runner than skirt and not a ruffle in site!

Then I ironed 20 yards of fabric in preparation of my next projects, plus 80 8x8 pieces from a layer cake package from a line called Portobello Market. I just fell in love with these prints and with Ranch Wife's urging, I took the plunge. Many of the prints are reminiscent of western paisleys in the wildrags that the cowboys wear. So, I have now selected a pattern and the fabric to finally make a quilt for our bed. I have been searching for something for years but the ones I found and fell in love with were just crazy expensive! I could buy a ton of quilting fabric for what they cost and apparently, that's what I'm in the process of doing! Grin!

I'm well on my way to being known as the crazy old quilt lady. That's fine - I'm just following in Ranch Wife's footsteps and blaming her as well as thanking her although I think she's created a monster! I'll tell you one thing, I do believe that I've gotten my money's worth out of the little $120 Kenmore sewing machine I've had for 20 years!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Christmas Jam

I am one of those people who holds true to the notion that all things Christmas should be set aside until the day after Thanksgiving. That's quite a test when both kids are practicing Christmas music for their recitals and jamborees and I am being bombarded with irrisistable Christmas fabric from the quilt shop. Alas, I gave in this weekend and made a double batch of my Christmas Jam. So these photos are for you dear friends - I had to force myself to set up this little display, but what are friends for?

This stuff is so easy and we look forward to it each year. I try to make enough to last all year, but it never seems to last that long because I enjoy sharing it with my friends!


2- 20 oz packages of whole strawberries or 2 1/2 quarts fresh strawberries (I used fresh)

1 lb fresh or frozen cranberries

5 pounds sugar (this is A LOT of sugar! I use about 3 pounds per batch -we like it kind of tart, and yes, that's STILL a lot of sugar!)

2 pouches (3 oz each) of liquid pectin

*Grind strawberries and cranberries in a food processor; place in a large kettle. Add sugar, Bring to a full rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add pectin. Cool for 5 minutes; skim off foam. Pour hot into jars. Adjust caps and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Yield: about 7 pints.

I was short a few strawberries this time so I just dumped in some frozen blackberries and loved the end product! This morning I realized that 1/2 of the first jar has disappeared!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Recipe Thursday - Extra Special Zucchini Bread

The fabric in the photo will soon become my next apron.

Brrrr....! It's cold! We had our first official freeze of the season last night and it made it all the harder to climb out of a cozy bed, draped with flannel quilts, when the mercury was hovering in the high 20s. Seems as if its always colder here than in town - funny how a little bit of distance can make such a difference.

I'm thankful we don't have any trips on our agenda today, even though the day promises to be a busy one. Yesterday we had a full day in town. DS came back after 8 - he had spent his evening volunteering at the Republican Headquarters. I love that he's getting involved.

I started out this morning by trying out a new recipe for DH's breakfast.

Let me back up and confess that I am a recipe hoarder. I am one of those people who collects cooking magazines and ends up with large piles of 'I've got to try this' or 'this sounds wonderful' selections. Then they sit. Why? I don't know, maybe they get yummier with age? In any case, DD gives me a hard time about my collection of untested recipes.

In my defense, I do have a photo album -a very old, falling apart, thick and held together with packing and duct tape, photo album - that is home to all of our favorites. Everyone has strict instructions to grab it if we should ever have to evacuate in an emergency. It is nicely organized and I'm quite proud of the family favorites it contains, seeing as I couldn't cook a lick 20 years ago.
So yesterday I ran across a new recipe that looked promising and this morning I actually made it! It never made into the pile and DH gave it a thumbs up. I'm not sure how anyone can consume grilled jalapenos for breakfast, but he loved it. I snagged this recipe from the Pioneer Woman who is a pretty darn good cook! I like her cooking site and understand that she is in the process of publishing a cookbook. So anyway, her Cowboy Breakfast Sandwich gets a thumbs up around here. She's already shared it on her site so I won't repeat it here, but I do have a new recipe to share for Zucchini Bread.
Now don't turn up your nose like the kids did! Both of our kids despise zucchini. They didn't used to so I think it's just something they made up. I think I'm going to rename this Harvest Bread or something - I'll bet they'll eat it then! I love it and this time of year, this versitile vegetable seems to be in abundance. I'm planning a big garden for next year and you can bet it will include zucchini. I know, from past gardening years, that it is wild and unruly and multiplies exponentially. This recipe only requires 2 cups of grated zucchini which is about 1 zucchini so you won't exactly use up your excess, but every little bit helps!

Extra Special Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 C sugar
1 C vegetable oil
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 C chopped walnuts
2 C shredded zucchini

*Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9x5", or 7 5x3", or 15 2x3" loaf pans.

*In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the cream cheese.

*In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinammon, salt, and nutmeg. On
low speed, gradually beat into the egg mixture.

*Fold in walnuts and zucchini. Evenly divide the batter between your pans. Bake the large pan for 60 minutes and the smaller ones for 30, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

DD just wandered into the kitchen and commented, "OK, I'll have to admit that it smells really good!" I imagine that DH will wander by sometime during the morning and devour them after he has slathered them with butter as well.

I'm trying another new recipe for dinner too - after I make some jam! It's doubtful I'll make much of a dent in my collection, but it's a start!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Warning: Politics Ahead!

It doesn't matter what position you hold, I don't think anyone will argue that this year is filled with intense passion on both sides of the fence and at this point in the race, I think everyone's just growing plain weary of politics. That being said, I am going to go out on a limb and break the rule about discussing politics. I've always been a rebel anyway. Grin! After all, we are a country built on freedoms and this is my blog and I simply want to put my thoughts down because I am excited! After all these years I am finally an American citizen and this is my first year to vote in a Presidential Election! I can't wait! My excitement finally bubbled over yesterday - Sarah Palin had scheduled a stop in town and we were NOT going to miss it! Even if it meant waking groggy children in a hotel room early yesterday morning, in Abeline, Tx, where we had attended my niece's beautiful wedding, the night before, in order to make the 5 hour trip back in time to attend the rally.

We had 30 minutes at home before heading to town where we stood for 4.5 hours in support of the McCain/Palin ticket. I was shocked by the huge crowd and long lines. The endless boothes selling buttons and hats and shirts and all manner of political paraphernalia looked like the entrance to a concert.

I'll admit, it was a LONG wait and it was HOT, but it was an amazing experience! I really got excited when a man with a guitar appeared and they announced Hank Williams Jr! Very cool. I enjoy his music a lot although I wasn't sure he was the best choice for representing conservative, moral values! Grin! But there I was, rocking out with everyone else and it suddenly occurred to me that I was acting just like a teenager! LOL!

I love that the kids were excited about attending this rally! This is DS's first time to vote too. They were all good at entertaining each other during the long wait.

When Sarah Palin arrived, I really got excited. I love her. No, she does not have the foreign policy experience that everyone keeps harping on, but neither does Obama and he's running for President! Everyone keeps taking about change. I think she's a breath of fresh air and combined with John MaCain's record, I think they make a good team! I like what they stand for and I had ball yesterday!
I wasn't very confident that I would be able to snap any decent pictures, but I am pleased with the ones I captured.
I hung around after the rally in hopes of getting the opportunity to just shake her hand and I ended up not only shaking her hand, but getting a hug from her, getting her autograph and visiting with her for just a few seconds. She said, thank you, ma'am and that it's people like me that they want to represent and that they really appreciate our support. After she chatted with a few others, she looked back over at me and looked at me directly and said, "Thank you!" Even though there were thousands of people clammoring for her attention, she focused on me for just a minute and that made a huge impression on me. This gal speaks my language and darn if I didn't want to invite her over for a cup of coffee, a piece of pie and a round of skeet! It would have had to be a huge pie in order to feed the multitude of secret service men that flanked her from all directions though.

I believe in the issues they support and here's a list of reasons why they'll get my vote on November 4th:

1. National Security
2. Military / Defense - no-one favors war, but the fact is, we are a free country because throughout the years, we have been willing to fight for that freedom and defend our nation.
3. Pro-Life
4. Tax Policy
5. Experience
6. Energy Policy
7. Less intrusion of federal government
8. Character
9. Integrity
10. Honor
11. Ethics
12. Will not simply redistribute income, but will create income via an increase in jobs and let families choose how to spend it, not government.

I'm not looking for a debate here. Just voicing my opinion and excitement about living in a country where we have a voice to do just that.

I know things have a been a mess, but I think its our own fault. The economy's a mess because we've become a country of excess. A country who has become accustomed to living above their means. A Country who thinks everything should be handed to us on a silver platter. We have drifted away, far away, from the principles this country was founded on - namely, and most importantly - we have wandered out and away from God. The men who founded this amazing nation were Godly men who knew what was most important. They relied on His guidance daily. It scares me greatly to think just how lost we have become.

The Republican ticket is running on a slogan of 'Country First'. That's a big improvement over the 'Me First' slant I'm getting from the opponent, but how about we get back to what it really should be, "God First".

A friend and I were discussing this and she said that God will never remove His hand from His people, but I do think he has removed his hand from this country. That pretty much sums it up. Lets pray that we find our way back and put our trust back in God. That's the only change that really matters.
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