Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas From the End of the Dirt Road!

Christmas Greetings from the end of the dirt road where the year has been good to us all
We’ve had so much rain that the desert is covered in grass that is thick and tall.

So the cattle are fat and that makes us grin, we’re thankful for the blessings that overflow
And that includes hearing from all of you whom we are so thankful to know.

We’re hoping that this finds you all blessed, and that life is treating you well
And that during this crazy, busy time of the year, you’re able to slow down for a spell.

You’ll be glad to know that this is the last year that I plan to hound you with a poem
The kids are all grown and my rhyming is retiring as I prepare for an empty nest at home.

They grew up so quickly that it made my head spin, but I’ve loved every step, every day
Now we’re sending them out with a hug and a prayer that God will guide them safely along the way.

Tyler is 20, forging his path, he signed up for the Marines recently
We’re proud and yes, I am scared, but he’s in God’s hands and that’s the best place to be.

So please keep him, and all who serve and protect, in your prayers when you pray
He’s working on the ranch till he leaves, and we’re enjoying having him here for the holiday.

He’s eating me out of house and home, and I love it, but boy, can he make cookies disappear
He still plays the guitar, loves to shoot skeet, and this fall he brought home a nice deer.

Caitlin is crazy-busy with concurrent college classes this year
Physics, Chemistry, and Algebra were once perplexing, but through hard work she did persevere.

And it all paid off when she saw all those A’s and finals were a thing of the past
One more semester and she’s headed off to college…the years went by way too fast.

Her time in the saddle has been cut severely; guess you can blame it on the Periodic table
But she still plays the piano, shoots shotgun, and rides whenever she is able.

Gary still puts in long days; he doesn’t know how to slow down
He’s up before dawn, and home after dark, days are good when he doesn’t have to make a trip to town.

I avoid town too and we joke that we’ll be hermits one day
I’m still quilting and gardening and keeping folks fed and thankful God’s hand guides my way.

May your Christmas be blessed with everything good, family and friends gathered round
Here’s wishing you health, peace and joy; may New Year adventures abound.

Here's a video I ran across that I wanted to share with y'all:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crazy-Good Cinnamon Rolls

I found these in a cookbook given to me by dear friends about 19 years ago and I have just recently discovered this recipe. And to think I could have been eating these for 19 years! Probably a good thing I didn't!

I tried to get a photo of the full pan, but it was next to impossible. I pulled them out of the oven as our son was walking out the door to saddle up and when I turned around, he had his hand out with a paper towel in it. I told him they were hot, but that did not deter him and he walked out, juggling it in his hands. I'll bet he devoured it before he even made it to the pens.

I made these the other day and shared them with the dear family who lives at North Camp. They are moving away and we are sad. I was hoping these cinnamon rolls would make them stay. Sigh. I guess they're not quite THAT good.

However, don't let that dissuade you from making these delectable rolls on some cold, frosty morning.

Crazy-Good Cinnamon Rolls

2 Tbsp. yeast
2 c warm water
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c shortening
1 Tbsp salt
2 eggs
6 c flour
4 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 c brown sugar
1/8 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 c powdered sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 Tbsp milk

*Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs and salt. Alternately add yeast / water mixture and flour. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead very lightly. Place in greased bowl and let rise 1 hour. Punch down and roll out into large rectangle. Spread with softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Roll up and pinch seams to seal. Cut into 1 1/2" pieces. Place in a 9x13" pan and 5 rolls in a 8x8" pan.

The original recipe calls for all rolls to be placed in a 9x13" pan, but when I made them all in one pan, they rose over the top and the middle  rolls didn't bake through. In two pans, they were big and fluffy and tender and perfect!

Next time I make these I might try them in my big lasagna pan.

Cover and let rise overnight. This step makes these the perfect breakfast recipe because you just pop them out of the fridge and into the oven. Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle with glazed frosting (I doubled the frosting glaze because we like more gooey-ness) and be prepared to be adored by everyone who eats them.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shipping Day...Brrrr....

This past Saturday, we shipped out our calves. Its been a good year and we were thrilled with the bottom dollar. Everything worked beautifully and we truly feel blessed. That being was a might chilly Saturday morning when everyone headed out to the pens to saddle their horses. Brrrrr. I think this guy is glad he's sporting his winter coat, but I'll bet ol' Jack Frost was still nipping at his nose:

   DH said it was 15° when he stepped outside! Blessed as we've been, I'm thinking everyone was praying for that blessing to warm up...and fast!
Seems that every year, when shipping day rolls around, it dawns as the coldest day of the year. So I know that the morning will begin well before dawn because everyone will appreciate a good, hot, hearty breakfast and I had better keep the coffee on.

I was accused of having lost my senses when I wandered outside, but it's been much too long since I got to enjoy some time behind the camera and I felt for the brand inspector (who is a friend and I hadn't seen in far too long), and the truck drivers, and the buyer. So I hauled out some coffee and some hot chocolate (for the truck driver's little boy) too. It was down right frosty out there and my pictures are horrible because my camera decided to put up a fuss and complain about the temperature. It wouldn't focus and kept giving me an 'error' reading that I have never seen before and then it just simply refused to do anything. So I apologize for these sad little excuses for photos.

Bringing in the herd:

Hard to believe that only a few short weeks ago, all of this grass was green. We're so thankful for the good, wet year we've had and that we've got good grass for the winter so brown grass, this time of year, is a blessing. Beats no grass. We've had years like that too.

These teenagers don't get too many days to sleep in around here:

Sometimes those early mornings just roll around a bit too early so as long as you're not caught sleeping on the job, a few extra winks are snuck in every now and then:

Driving the calves down the alley towards the scales:

He's probably wishing he hadn't neglected to pull on those long johns this morning:

Just whistle while you work...

 Turning back calves:

The Bovine Express has arrived:

After the calves were loaded and headed to their new homes, everyone gathered in the dining room to warm up. The coffee cake muffins were devoured, the coffee was poured, and the visit and stories were entertaining and I think everyone was just thankful to have the opportunity to thaw out for a bit, but then again, it's the end of New Mexico...and shipping day, so its to be expected.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fall Finish!

Finally! Gosh, it's been a long time since I've finished anything! For all the time I spend working on projects, I certainly don't seem to be getting much accomplished. Some days I feel as if I'm working backwards!

But today is a good day! I finally finished this little fall quilt for the back of the loveseat.

 It just measures 51x51", but I love it. I adore fall colors and this certainly won't be the last quilt I make with the colors of autumn. I didn't use a pattern - just pieced 4 patches with 6" squares on point. This is the first time I pieced the back. I was inspired by all the cute pieced backs I've been seeing floating around in blogland.

I was excited to get it finished in time for Thanksgiving. I know - I'm cutting it close, but it can drape over the back of the couch for a few days and curl up with a family member or two before being folded into the armoire to hibernate.

I follow a fun blog called Quiltstory, that always includes the wonderful stories behind the quilts that are shared. The stories are what make quilts so priceless and everyone has a story to tell. Over time, those stories are what make up our history.

On Tuesday's they host Fabric Tuesday and invite fellow bloggers to share what they're working on. Its always fun to see what others are creating so I thought I'd share this quilt today. Hop on over there to see what others are stitching up and be inspired!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The WRCA and a Bit of Fabric Therapy

This past weekend we went to Amarillo, Tx for the WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo. Its the one weekend a year we actually all get away from the ranch. Grandpa stayed and kept an eye on things for us - thanks Grandpa! This is always a highly anticipated weekend for us. We're kind of like kids in a candy store. Thousands of ranching folks descend upon the metropolis of Amarillo and take part in the festivities. One of these days we'll stay for the 4 days of fun, but we generally only get to stay for 2. Which really is about our limit because by the end of the second day, we're peopled out.

This weekend is somewhat like a family reunion for us because  we see friends from all over the country as well as catch up with folks just down the road whom we seldom get to see. We even ran into some of DH's relatives from Nebraska and I got to spend some time, although not enough, with a dear friend from Oklahoma.

The entire shindig takes place at the Civic Center I'm pretty sure we all walked miles and miles during our stay. There are 4 nights of Ranch Rodeo competition,a huge Expo with hundreds of booths (where your entire Christmas budget can be spent and you had better get everything looked at before Saturday because if you venture into that hall on Saturday you will feel like a salmon swimming upstream with 10,000 buddies), musical entertainment, cowboy poetry, auctions, lots of food (including fabulous spiced nuts), and a ranch horse competition. The ranch horse competition is held in the arena that is actually an ice hockey arena and it is ridiculously cold in there, but we're diehards and spend at least 2 hours first thing in the morning, watching the horses...and shivering to keep warm.

I am a horrible blogger. I didn't take very many pictures, although my intentions were good. Here's one of our friends competing in the ranch horse competition:

I didn't take any of the rodeo. I just had my little pocket camera along and it doesn't take very good action pictures in an arena.

So you get random pictures like this:

Yes, those are curtains, or our hotel room. We got a kick out of them because we felt like we were in Europe instead of West Texas. DD said she thought it looked like we were staying in Persia. I didn't even know she knew Persia existed since Geography is not her strong suit. Can you tell we don't get out often? Doesn't take much to entertain us.

We weren't even staying in a swanky hotel.

On the first morning we awoke to this:

It had been 70° the day before, but that's West Texas weather for you. We scraped off a couple inches of snow off of the truck and headed to the arena where, two hours later, I scraped another 4" off.

The trees were still showing off their fall coats. I don't think they were expecting this:

After all the hobnobbing, I try to sneak off and hit the town for a bit of fabric therapy. This year I attacked with a plan and a list and boy oh boy, did I have fun! I'm debating whether I should even fess up to all I brought home. Honestly, if only quilters read my blog, they would understand, but the rest of ya'll would think I had taken leave of my senses. I keep telling myself I only get there once a year so if I divide it all up into 12 months, it doesn't look so bad. Yeah, I didn't fall for it either. I bought a lot of fabric. I spent a lot of my cooking check from cooking for the crew this fall.

A lot of the yardage I bought was for backs of quilts so that added up quickly. I got backing for this quilt:

As well as this one:

And some snowflake flannel for the back of another one.

I bought 9 yards (yes, 9) of this lovely, rich brown from Moda's French General line for the Granny Square quilt Moda Lissa designed that is in the October issue of American Patchwork & Quilting:

I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it and have been searching for a rich brown. I will go through that brown like crazy. It was the perfect brown for the horse baby quilt I pieced and I've already used it for borders.

I couldn't pass up the Fun Flower line either. I think it'll make a darling baby quilt for a little girl...or two: Seems as if there are a lot of babies on the way around here. There are a couple of odds and ends mixed in here too:

Then I mostly picked up lots,

and lots

of half yards. I am addicted to scrap quilts and I went through my stash before I left, cutting strips for some projects waiting in the wings, so I picked up some things to fill in the blanks. Looks like I had lots of blanks to fill, huh?

I guess I really shouldn't be let loose in a quilt store alone. I really have lots of self control when it comes to other things. I have no desire to shop for clothes. I am perfectly content with our 11 year old truck. I don't buy dishes...or jewelry...or shoes. My weakness is fabric, but I'm fairly certain that those of you that quilt, have the same condition...or sickness...or obsession. We're all in the same boat and as long as we've got our needle and thread and stash, we'll just keep sailing along. I know I'm not alone...I read your blogs!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Custom Made Sewing Table

A few weeks ago, when I went to the quilt show, something caught my eye. You've probably seen those quilt ladders. Well, I've been eyeing them for some time and sure enough, there was a booth filled with them so I sauntered in and met the builder. My eyes quickly darted from the ladders, to the pretty coffee tables with glass storage for quilts, to the nice wall cabinets for thread storage. So we began to visit... and visit...and visit some more. I was thrilled to find out that he was a local resident and just about the nicest guy you could ever meet. Come to find out, he also makes these very cool sewing tables. Well, they really set on top of a table, but they allow you to have a even surface with your sewing machine so that you can eliminate that drag when you're quilting. He custom makes these for any machine and he'll make them any size. Mine is just a standard 2' x 4' because I just don't have a lot of room, but I love it!

It just makes sewing and quilting so much nicer! It allows my space to be portable too which I sometimes need for it to be. He'll make an actual table with cabinets and drawers too (he made one for one of the lady's who works at the quilt store), but I think this a great solution for those of us who don't really have a dedicated sewing room.
On the plus side, we've got great windows in this house and the light is wonderful here.

He's made them for lots of the quilters in the area. Here's  the one he made for me:

My sewing machine just slides in from the end and nests neatly in this niche. I don't have it butted up against there just right in this photo:
Its got a great storage space underneath. At he moment, I have some of my thread tucked in on the left end:

And just to the left of my machine, I have this utensil organizer that houses small items like my scissors and  my walking foot and needles:

The lady that quilts some of my quilts has two of these tables and she told me that the little organizers work well.

There's another cubby behind the machine on the right side too, but I don't have anything stashed there yet.

I love the color too. I told Bobby to just use whatever he had. I'm sure glad it wasn't pink! Not that I have anything against pink, but this just fits in with our home better.

Bobby even offered to drive out to my house to take the measurements of my machine, but I just hauled it in to him. Added bonus: when I walked into he and his wife's home, I got to see all of the amazing things he has built. Wish I could show you pictures, but he probably already thinks I'm a bit strange and it just may confirm his notion if I started snapping pictures in his home. I wanted to rip his kitchen cabinets off of his wall and take them home.

I've also been looking for a microwave cart and yep, you guessed it: there it was in Bobby's home. Guess what he's building me next? I think he needs to adopt me.

But for now, I am hunkered down right here whenever time allows

...and even sometimes, when time doesn't allow. Burnt cookies, anyone?

  In the meantime, I am simply over the moon about my little sewing table. I left the ladder so that Santa could bring it to me for Christmas.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

While Hubby was Away Hunting...

...I reverted back to my night owl days

...I still could not manage to sleep past 6 even if I went to bed at 2

...I took a sabbatical from the kitchen

...I realized that a king-sized bed is too big when he's not here

...I thought I should try staying in my pajamas all day but never made it past 7 am took me 1 minute to make the bed in the morning

...the ice cream bucket stayed full

...I spent glorious time in the mornings out with the horses, spoiling them even though they are ranch horses and not pets

...I missed the jingle of his spurs

...I baked cookies and gave them to the UPS man because hubby was not here to eat them

...I realized I could live off of tortillas, cheese, and pico de gallo, substituting a potato for the tortilla one day

...I made a pot of coffee for him out of habit (I love the smell, but do not drink it)

...I spent many a hour playing with fabric

...I missed him a lot

...I sewed every day until the cows (and hubby) came home

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Candy Bar Sliders

Here's a quick little project I made for the 3 little tykes of some friends. I loved doing things like this for my kids and their friends when they were small. Then they went and grew up on me.

Just pull the little ribbon on top and the chocolate appears:

Come to think of it, I don't think kids ever outgrow chocolate!
I originally saw these somewhere on the Internet a few years ago as hot chocolate sliders and I made some last year for smaill gifts that we added to the goody plates for friends. I think they would also be cute with a packet of chicken soup for a friend who is not feeling well.

I just used scraps from my scrapbooking stash. Seems its the only time I pull that stuff out anymore. Quilting seems to have taken over every spare minute I have.

Hope everyone's enjoying their fall! We're heading to the kitchen to make caramel apples! Yum!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Corn Salad

OK - I've had a few days to recuperate from all that cooking. I've cleaned and scrubbed and although there is always more to do, I am calling it quits. Today I have been elbow deep in apples, but I thought I would share an easy recipe with you before we hunker down for the winter.

This is a fairly new recipe that instantly became a favorite. My MIL, who is a wonderful cook, made it a  year or two ago and initially, we weren't sure if we'd like it, but all it took was one bite and we were asking for the recipe. This is so good and a great dish to take to a pot luck. I even make it for the crew when we work and it disappears. Generally cowboys aren't known for their willingness to expand their culinary palette, but they always dig into this with gusto and I hear lots of, "Dang, this is good salad" mutterings drift into the kitchen.  So if it passes the cowboy test, I guess its one I can share here. Its a pretty dish too.

I make this early in the morning so the flavors combine. It really doesn't get any easier than this.

Corn Salad

3 cans whole kernel corn, well drained
1/2 c chopped black olives
1 small chopped green pepper
1/2 c chopped onion
1cucumber, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 c chopped pepperoni

1 pkg Hidden Valley Dressing Mix
1 c real mayonnaise

*Combine corn, olives, green pepper, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, and pepperoni in a bowl. Mix together dressing and stir into salad. Chill.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Recipe Book

I cook a lot and I collect a lot of recipes. Even so, there are times when I get into a rut and feel like I cook the same thing over and over. I'm always on the lookout for new, tried and true recipes to add to my collection and through the years, my friends and family have been proven sources for the recipes that make it into the cookbook so thanks to all of you who have shared your treasured recipes with me through the years!
Monday was the first day of our Fall Works here on the ranch and I've been spending a lot of time making menus and lists. So food related posts are what you get.

I have a number of cookbooks although I have narrowed them down considerably in recent years. Then, the other day I tried a new cinnamon roll recipe from a cookbook given to me by a dear friend (miss you C!) almost 20 years and it became an instant favorite so now I am afraid to let any more go.

I also subscribe to Taste of Home and I used to subscribe to what was once called Quick Cooking. However, in recent years, I've noticed a change in their pages. I still find some keepers, but I've been disappointed lately. Seeems they have 'improved' their magazines and in doing so, they lost something along the way. We just don't have much call for bean sprout casserole out here.

Then I have this box where various recipes have been tossed to try. In years past, DD and I have had some fun just opening the box and blindly selecting one from the ever increasing pile and giving it a test run.
Then there is this:

Yes, this is my recipe book - filled with my family's favorites. However, its seen better days and I decided it was high time to give it a complete overhaul. New notebook with more space and lots of pages. I was even going to make a cover for it and call it "Recipes from the End of the Dirt Road", but I was vehemently overruled and told in no uncertain terms that the book was not to be tampered with. (Let's see if I can leave that preposition at the end of that sentence). Apparently my poor, worn, little, black book brings about strong feelings of affection and possessiveness amongst the members of my family.

DD informed me that it was perfectly alright for me to make another recipe book, but the original must stay untouched. I'm not sure if I'm ready to tackle rewriting each and every recipe though so I suppose I'll just flip to the batter stained page that lovingly cradles that Pea Pickin' Cake and mix up something tasty.

As for what to do with all the recipes I still wish to include because there isn't a smidge of room for any new additions, I haven't a clue. I've got loose pages haphazzardly stuck in the back and they are rapidly taking over:

I'm thinking this will be a work in progress and I really should find a way to duplicate that old book so that the kids don't fight over it when I'm gone. At the rate its going, its already in two pieces and the packing tape is the only thing keeping it together. Even the duct tape wore off somewhere along the line.

You know, come to think of it, this book holds a place in my heart too. What I wouldn't give to have a book like this from my Mom or Grandmother. Lots of memories in these pages.

I'm glad that the kids have such fond memories of the times we have spent in the kitchen and around the dining room table while they were growing up. Its funny how a little tattered book can elicit such strong emotions, but it makes me happy that it does. Not bad for a gal who couldn't cook when she married over 23 years ago.

The book stays.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quilt Show Therapy

O.K. Day 9 of cooking for a crew. I should be sharing recipes. I should be sharing the excitement of scrubbing the stove...again. I should be sharing profound thoughts from the kitchen. But I am tired of food. I am tired of dishes. I am tired of bleach.
I want to grab my camera and capture the excitement of Fall Works.
I want to walk outside and inhale the essence of autumn.
I want to play with fabric.
But I can't.
But I can pop into the office between batches of biscuits and piles of potatoes and talk about something other than my kitchen adventures.

A few weeks ago I took myself to town...willingly. Every 2 years the guild in town puts on a quilt show and I think a quilt show is a worthy reason to make myself leave my dirt road. Wish I could only go every 2 years, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

I didn't even go with anyone. Just me, myself, and I spent almost 3 hours lost in the wonderful world of quilts and yummy fabric. Loved it. It was good for the soul. I lingered. I pondered. I loitered.
I could look at quilts forever and find it fascinating that not one quilt is ever like another. I love the stories behind them and was disappointed when the information sheet did not include a bit about how the quilt came to be. I've been to quilt shows where they include a paragraph about why the quilter made the particular quilt and I always find it fascinating. I know the lady in charge of the next show and I think I'm going to suggest that to her. She made this quilt, which made me chuckle, as a '3' challenge in her guild. Everything had to be in 3's or multiples of 3's.

What a fun optical illusion, but wow, my eyes would be permanently crossed if I made this:

This quilt was pieced by a man and quilted by his wife:

While I was admiring it, a couple walked past and I heard the husband exclaim to his wife, "Don't get any ideas". LOL.
I don't know why, but I seem to be drawn to quilts that have some black in them. I like the stained glass effect of this one.

 Looks simple enough. The quilter just used southwestern prints. I'm thinking western.
LOVED this autumn quilt:

All those pumpkins were just wonderful! Almost seemed as if each had its own character.

This was the 1st place quilt and the title made me laugh: "Finally!" I can only imagine what a labor of love this must have been.

Fell in love with this Civil War Tribute one. My longarm quilter made it and I fell in love with it when it was on her design wall. I don't know how she has time to make quilts for herself because the majority of the quilts in this show were quilted by her. I adore this lady...and her quilts!
If there is a horse / western quilt, I'll love it and this one started out with a panel fabric that I've seen, but never brought home because I didn't have a clue what to do with it. Apparently, this quilter did:

Here's a really fun, bright quilt that would be fun for a teenage girl. Just not my teenage girl...she needs horses. I love tghe colors, but I would have a hard time falling asleep under this quilt:

There were lots of miniature quilts - wall hangings - landscape pieces in the show. Lots of the area guilds seemed to have taught classes on this. Its like painting - with fabric and I loved the intricate details. I don't have the patience for something like this, but I'm really intrigued by these. DD would love this one:

This one looked like a photograph:

I fell in love with this one:

The trees had an interesting treatment that gave this piece a lot of dimension:

As did the tiny quilts on the line in the bottom left hand corner. I just wanted to pop in behind these women and join them in their quilting in that charming little cabin.

I'm always drawn to Americana quilts too.
In fact, I have quite a collection of fabrics that are patiently waiting for me to make them into a quilt...or two...or three. I love how this quilter pieced this quilt together so that crosses formed in the center of the squares.

I'm going to have to track her down and interrogate her. I probably shouldn't begin another Log Cabin while the present one still lingers in its boot box though.
I was intrigued. I was challenged. I was inspired.
An afternoon spent in the company of quilts makes for a good day and its cheaper than therapy.
Alas, I am being summoned by the pots and pans that are stacked in the kitchen and although the biscuits have no trouble rising on their own, the potatoes are refusing to be mashed without me.
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