Monday, October 30, 2023

Tea Towels

Honestly, who thinks about tea towels / flour sack towels? But for some reason, I really like a GOOD tea towel. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and I don't have a dishwasher and finding a really good tea towel is a little thing that brings me joy. 

I found this one at Target probably 5 or 6 years ago and I bought all they had - they are nice and big.

And I like these I found online a few years ago here 

So I ordered a few more from them recently. They are nice and thick, but smaller than the originals and smaller than I like, but they are pretty. 

But, when we were first married, my MIL gave me a set of Day of the Week western ones and I kept them tucked away in a drawer for years because they were too lovely to use. They are my favorite. I finally started using them and after 30 years, I am down to one that is still in good shape

She's made a lot of these through the years and she's made a set for each of the kids, but she no longer does any sewing or handwork and it makes me so sad. She's 85 and I don't think she's made anything for about 5 years, making the things she HAS made even more treasured.

She DID give me the patterns for the western set so I guess the torch has been passed, but I'm dragging my feet because I don't think I can make them as neatly as she did. These are the big (28x28), heavy tea towels that are hard to find anymore, and I found some online a few years ago and ordered a set.

On a recent visit, I was telling her how much I have loved the ones she made. She disappeared for a little while and came back with a sack from a shoe store and gifted me the contents

They are the last set she made and they are lovely! 

See, look at one from the back!

Again, I am tempted to stash them away or I almost want to cut them apart and frame them to preserve her handwork, but I think I will begin to use them gently. They will bring me joy when they cover my bread bowl as the dough rises or the Butterhorn Rolls that are a treasured family recipe. Fresh bread and  hand stitched tea towels are a happy combination. And I think it's time I pull out those patterns and start stitching.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

 I was trying to compile a different cookie post and realized I haven't shared this favorite. I don't know where I found this one - I just have a note on my recipe card that says 2006. It's not from a friend or I would have noted that so it's probably from Taste of Home.

We've got a farrier / friend coming by today to shoe a few horses so he gets these today. Least I can do is treat him to cookies for the drive home. DH has always shod his own horses, but he had a colt fall with him a few weeks ago and I suggested he call Olin. DH will be 62 in December and we don't heal as quickly as we did when we were 20...or 30...or 40...or even 50. I was surprised when he acquiesced.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 C unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 C packed brown sugar

1/2 C sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 C peanut butter

2 eggs

1  1/2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 C flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 C chocolate chips

*Preheat oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cream butter, brown sugar, sugar, salt, and peanut butter in a large bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour and baking soda - mix into batter to form dough. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop out onto cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes.



The last time I made these, I handed them out to the County Road Grader. He looked so surprised and said, "You MADE these? For ME"? LOL...yes, sir...I did. Cookies are so easy to make and they're a pretty nice way to brighten someone's day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

A New Look at the Stash

 I haven't had a single minute to sew this month. I've been trying to bind a baby quilt for about 6 weeks now. LOL. 

But there were miscellaneous piles of this and that teetering on shelves and counters in my sewing room and I knew it was time to put things back in order. Occasionally, I will pick up fat quarter bundles or Layer Cakes - especially when they are on sale - recently, I stumbled upon some Love You S'more Layer Cakes for $15.00!!

But I keep most of my stash corralled in bins - mostly by color, although I keep Christmas, Western, Floral, 30's, Novelty, Plaids, and Reproduction prints in their own bins. I have lots of smaller bins I keep stacked behind a quilt ladder for individual collections I want to keep together like my Songbook fabrics, Bramble Patch, fabrics for another Americana Quilt, solid fabrics, ginghams, some strips, and just various projects

One of my favorite things to do is to rifle through my bins and pull fabrics for the current project. Here's a typical bin

Recently, I thought I'd fold things differently in this bin. It took some time, but I think I'm really going to like this new way of storing my fabrics

A few days later I tackled the pinks and purples

And later, the reds

My greens were about to stage a mutiny:

Proof I really don't need any more fabric - these bins are stuffed

Blacks and grays are up next and I need to pick up another bin for low volume prints. 

My blues and browns are in larger, deeper bins so this won't work for those, but one of these days I hope to have a few more of the Sam's metal industrial shelves and matching bins that are not as deep in order to fold those too. Hmmm...I may just look for a shallow tote that fits into deeper ones and have 2 layers. The shallow tote would be easy to lift out to access the lower layer...

I'm not even sewing these days, but I'm hoping this will help me use more of what I have when I do get back to sewing because sorting through all of it made me realize that I really DO love what I have and I have more than enough!

Monday, October 23, 2023

Loaded Butterscotch Toffee Pecan Cookies

I found this recipe online a few years ago HERE and it became an instant favorite. I bake a lot of cookies around here. When you're on the go, portable snacks come in handy and even though we live 25 miles from town (in fact this is the closest we've lived to town since we married in 1987), seems like a lot of folks end up at the end of the dirt road. 😉County road graters, brand inspectors, vets, feed delivery truckers, hay delivery workers, UPS and Fed-ex drivers, cow buyers, people who are lost, the crew when we work, whoever lives at North Camp...and sending them off with a bag of cookies is what I do. So, I like to keep a good tried and true collection of cookie recipes in my repertoire. I used to try and keep some in the freezer, and sometimes I still do, but they don't stay there long because it seems a need always arises. 

    We shipped calves this week and this new crew kind of eats on the fly. I made these, along with burritos on Monday and figured I'd share the recipe here. It's a keeper!

Loaded Butterscotch Toffee Pecan Cookies

2 1/2 C flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 C butter, softened

1 C packed brown sugar

1/2 c sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

10 oz Butterscotch chips

2 C chopped pecans (and yes, you can toast the pecans, but I usually don't)

2/3 c English Toffee bits

*Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Cream together softened butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, beating everything together until well combined. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Stir in butterscotch chips, pecans, and toffee bits. Cover and chill for 1 hr. Scoop out and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Shipping Week

 Someone please show us how to slow things down a little! I flew back in from the wedding trip on Friday. We grabbed a bite to eat at Texas Roadhouse and made a mad dash through the grocery store before heading home. We made a mineral run and checked water that afternoon and rolled more of that into Saturday. We've been running so hard that I didn't even know about the eclipse until everyone was talking about it on the plane. Apparently a lot of people on my flight were flying in from all over the country to witness it. On Friday, DH saw a vehicle parked at the North Camp mailbox and he stopped.

 The fella had driven from Pennsylvania to photograph the eclipse and according to his sources, the perfect spot to do so fell right across the North Camp cattle guard. Between the World Record Alpha Five balloon jump and the eclipse, this is becoming a popular place! We counted 15 vehicles parked on the side of the road within 1/2 a mile as we headed out to gather a bull. So much for living out in the middle of nowhere. People are finding us. Time to move! Grin. So on Saturday, as we were making another circle to pump water and check cattle, we stopped at the mailbox. Another rig was there from East Texas

They had quite the set up, and the gentleman from Pennsylvania let us view the sun through his camera lens

But we had to leave before the eclipse began because we had to pick up the bull. 


However, DH rigged up a way for us to view the eclipse:

One redneck eclipse viewer (aka: welding helmet) coming up. 😂

The fella was incredibly nice and he told us to email him and he'd share photos with us. He takes beautiful shots and you can find him here:

                                               J. Michael Schirra Photography

Then that evening we hauled ourselves to town. A friend of ours was playing in a band and they invited us to join them for the evening. WOW! We were kind of blown away. They were SO good and they played our FAVORITE kind of dancing music...classic, traditional country from the 60's and 70's. Alas, DH had a colt fall with him a few weeks ago and although we wanted to dance to every single song they played, we had to sit them out. We didn't stay late because we we're shipping calves the next week and our Ranch Dance Card was overbooked.

Then Sunday I cooked all day. We gathered and shipped cattle on Monday and Tuesday. So I set the alarm for 3:00. I had 13 men to feed, plus I still needed to go in to work on Monday after I fed them dinner at noon. Some things have changed since the ranch changed hands and cooking is one of them. They don't want to take time for breakfast so I just made up some monster breakfast burritos and sent them with DH. 

Same thing for dinner so another round of beefy-bean-green chile-cheese burritos that I made and dropped off at North Camp Pens along with a batch of Loaded Butterscotch-Toffee-Pecan Cookies.( I'll share this recipe soon).Then I drove in to work. 

We finished up at 7:30 p.m. and it was 10 by the time I got home, showered, and fell into bed. 

Tuesday: More breakfast burritos. This time I used chorizo-egg-and potato. And since they were finishing up here at headquarters, they did come in for dinner. I made Taco Lasagna, taquitos, corn, and salad with Cajun Cake for dessert. 

I didn't take any photos because they were working at North Camp and since the ranch sold, we are working with a whole new crew and I wasn't sure how they'd feel about me hanging around with my camera. It's a strange feeling after being so comfortable with our old crew for 19 years and the crew before that in Texas for 12 years. 

We usually wean calves here, but they shipped them out, straight off the cows. So it doesn't feel the same - no freshly weaned bawling babies to lull us to sleep this year. Kinda makes me sad.

On another note, we had 92 1st calf heifers that they gathered from the South Bull Pasture Tuesday morning 

to be preg-tested (another new change - we've never done that before - DH is incredibly tuned in to the cattle under his care and he can mostly tell when they're bred or if they're open).  Out of 92 head, only 3 were open!! Plus, we've had almost no rain to speak of on the south side of the ranch so it's doubly impressive on a super dry year. Yes, I'm singing DH's praises because if you know him at all, you know he won't!

Whew! I don't know if I have the energy to get through the rest of October. I'll be 60 in a few months and all I can say is the old gray mare just ain't what she used to be! Oye!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Another Day in the Life of Us

 DH and I have been spending lots of time bouncing over ranch roads


Thankfully, a few of them have been muddy


Project #1


We plumbed in another new water trough


Making use of the skid steer saves some shoveling


But plenty of shoveling still takes place


Securing the joints properly ensures he won't have to ever fix a leak here


DH is particular about making sure everything is exactly right 


It saves problems down the line


The float box protects the float so cattle can't get to it


Packing in dirt so the valve boxes he cut are level (we can turn the valves inside the boxes and send water to various storage tanks and water troughs around the ranch)




Our next item on the list

But this post is long enough...I'll save those adventures for another day. However, a few weeks ago DH brought me a gift

He found this beautiful Metate and brought it home to me. What a treasure!

Monday, October 16, 2023

Time to Celebrate

 Continuing with a wildly, busy October, DH and I flew out last week on Monday

To celebrate these two getting married! They wanted a very low-key courthouse ceremony, choosing to save their $.

 Our girl couldn't be there because she's expecting in a few weeks, but DH and I made a fast trip. Since, we still don't have any help on the ranch, and we're fixing to start our Fall Works, DH had to come back on Wednesday, but I stayed, catching a 6 a.m. flight on Friday. We squeezed a lot into our trip and soaked up every minute with this little monkey

DH was introduced to Ms Rachael

We worked on puzzles

And practiced camping under a quilt tent

Lots of hide and seek

We spent one day at an aquarium 

Where even Mama became a child. LOL

When we read that jellyfish have 'no brains, hearts'...DH piped up, "Sounds like a politician". LOL


At 2, everything's magical

We also explored a butterfly garden

The boys studied this giant Sequoia for a long time

We added more precious memories

So glad we were able to celebrate their new beginning. Seems like only yesterday we were married...36 years went by so fast

Praying for them a lifetime of faith, love, laughter, health, grace and adventure

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