Coming Soon: Free Book

Coming Soon: Free Book
Planning to give away a book or two!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Contest Day

It is a tradition in Minnesota to have fishing contests. Today there were two separate contests on lakes in two separate directions. To the North on Grand Lake and to the South on Clear Lake.
These contests absolutely amaze me. Not only can you get nearly 1000 people on the lake together but most of them park their vehicles on the lake. At times I wonder if the contest is for the biggest fish, biggest truck or biggest fool. 
I might need to clarify for those who are outside of the area: at this time of year the lakes are covered with ice. In fact, Dale said that there is about 24 to 30 inches on the lakes in my area right now. Without much snow this winter the ice has been forming well.  We've had some warm days but it has re-frozen during the nights.
I watched a few vehicles drive out on the lake today and I  just wanted to yell, "Be real people! It is ice that you are driving on!" As they hit the brakes and start spinning and fishing tailing.
Grand Lake Fishing Contest
Grand Lake Fishing Contest
Clear Lake Fishing Contest
Parking Lot on Clear Lake

Friday, January 30, 2015

Beautiful Friday!

This morning my sister called on her way to work.  She was in awe of the fabulously beautiful sunrise.  The suns light was reflecting pink off of the clouds at the horizon.  And from that horizon moments before the sun peaked over the horizon it shone up in a brilliant bright pink beam reaching up and spreading across the clouds.

The house and business next to it down the hill from me, stopped me from seeing the pink beam myself.  From my viewpoint only the beautiful pink clouds were visible.  Although it wasn't quite as intoxicating as the total view that my sister saw, it was definitely worth the view out the window.

Misty and Sonjia woke each other up and needed to go outside.  I was mesmerized as I saw frost that was lightly blowing across the road.  The sunlight was hitting it making it shine like glitter floating through the air.  I am not sure where the frost came from because there are no trees for a block to the South and it appeared to be floating in from the South to the North.

I just know that it looked like fairy-dust had just been sprinkled over the neighborhood.  

Fairy dust falls on a Friday morning :^)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

More chocolate! !!!

I made a couple more batches of chocolate sweetened with stevia.  The fun part of making my own chocolate is making it whatever flavor that I want.  Coconut (unsweetened/organic) is always a good choice.  Several months ago, I dried some cherries with cinnamon sprinkled over them.  I keep forgetting to use them in chocolate.  Not today, I remembered and decided to mix it with coconut.
Cinnamon dried cherries and coconut
The batches of chocolate that I make are very small.  Each batch of chocolate takes on a character of its own. I definitely am not a chocolatier! My chocolates are never as smooth and shiny when I am done with them.  Maybe over time, I will reach that level.  One of the reasons that I add coconut is that it covers up the occasional grit that might be left behind in the chocolate.
Here comes the chocolate!
You can tell that once I temper the chocolate it loses its shine.  I temper it while I am mixing in the extra flavors.  I actually made two small batches.  One was simply almond chunks in the chocolate.  Both batches I decided to sprinkle with sea salt.  Sweet and salty always go so well together even when it isn't overly sweet.  I wish that I had smell-o-vision.  Several days this week, my kitchen has smelled so fabulous and I've wanted to share it with you.  
Finished: Coconut-cinnamon cherry chocolates

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pumpkin Raisin-Oatmeal Cookies

I am practicing with new recipes.  I saw a gluten free, egg free recipe that was still too high in carbs.  So I made some modifications and put it through a recipe analyzer.  This batch makes 14 cookies. 

Pumpkin, Oatmeal-raisin cookies
8 Tbsp coconut flour
1 cup oats
1 egg
½ cup raisins
8 oz spiced pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 drops liquid stevia (vanilla flavor)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp chocolate crumbles

Normally you start mixing the liquids then add the dry.  OOOoops.  I dropped the pumpkin, on top of the oatmeal and coconut flour and started mixing it together.

Pumpkin, Oatmeal and coconut flour
I added the egg and other small quantity ingredients into the mix before I mixed some more.   
Egg, cinnamon, liquid stevia and vanilla
The perk about making my own chocolate was that I have ground chocolate in my cupboard.  I added about a tablespoon into the mix before finishing mixing the blend.  
Everything is better with chocolate
I turned the oven on at 375 degrees and baked them for 20-25 minutes.  They stayed in the "round' shape from my cookie dough scoop (no butter or shortening to make them drop).  The taste was pretty good but they are still a higher carb value than what I prefer.  

Entertained by Pigeons

I was waiting in the parking lot  by Joann Fabrics this morning reviewing some notes for my certification test. Suddenly, I was some fluttering off to the left.  There was a group of pigeons playing in the corner of the roof.  Then I saw one pigeon land on the diagonal roof and go sliding down before flying away.
The pigeon debate
Watching the birds for a few minutes afterwards, it looked as if they were watching the spot that their friend slid down.  Were they debating trying to "slide down the roof"?  I must admit that I hoped to but didn't see another bird try the slide.  I did find the behavior of the birds a bit curious.  I needed to study for my test until the store opened.  I was short a color, I had been thinking blue but strangely settled on a deep brown.  
Ready 1, 2, 3 slide!
In case you were wondering about the certification test.  I thought that it went VERY well.  I was shocked and amazed to find out that I didn't pass.  It was 48 questions regarding 9 different topics.  I was 21 points short of the 700 points needed to pass. So I'm guessing 1 question would have made the difference.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Summer projects ...

I had an ah-ha moment today.  We have been getting about 1/2-1 inch of snow a couple of times a week.  But it has been melting in-between.  The problem is that it isn't warm enough to lose the frost so water is building up in inappropriate places.  That yellow dot on my drawing is where the bridge is sitting at this point.  The only thing that I know for sure is that it is in the wrong spot and it can't stay there.
Work for the summer of 2015
The bridge has become a "catch-it" spot in the yard for the junk.  It is about time to get it cleaned off.  I have been wanting to create a "dry creek" in the yard.  A spot that when it rains it creates a stream and otherwise it's dry rocks.  So I am going to create a dry creek from the North side of the gate, under the bridge and to the drift-away point.  It is the middle of January so I am sure that I will change my mind a few times before springtime.  
The aaachi of a warm winter
This might seem strange, but I am tired of the odd winter weather this year.  A slap of winter and two days of spring then another slap of winter followed by a splash of springtime.  I am jealous of those people on the East coast tonight that are planning for a blizzard.  A Minnesota winter is just not right without snow on the ground.  I am having a difficult winter with that this year.  :^(

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Key VS Button

It has been an adjustment getting used to not needing a key for my car.  I should clarify that.  They "key" needs to be on me or in my purse with the purse in the car.  But it isn't a traditional key.  It looks more like a remote.  It took me almost a week to get used to pushing the button to turn off the car.  I would catch myself sitting in the drivers seat thinking, "what do I do now? Oh, yeah, push the button.  Where is my key so I don't lock it in the car."

Where does my key go?
I had a rental car about a year ago that was a keyless car.  It was also a hybrid which had it's own freaky things going on.  Today was the first time that I realized that I was getting comfortable with driving a car where I pushed the button to turn it on and off.  One bad thing is that I must have my foot on the break when I push the button.  So there is no short cut to lean in and turn the key from the passenger side when I let the dogs in the car.  For the first time in my life, I am considering putting in a remote starter.  

Change is a difficult thing.  But eventually, we get comfortable with the changes that occur in our life.  Then it happens (that is another change.)  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

License plate debate

The plates for my new car came today.  Timing was good  because one of the dogs had a wild moment and pulled the temporary license off the back window.   I like to  name my cars.  This one could be called "Ruby".  But  can I call a dark blue  car ruby?
That is not the real debate.  I have been thinking about getting a personalized plate again.  I  used to have BACK4T until I moved back from  Wisconsin. Then I chose not to spend the extra money on personalized plates because I was focusing on my start up business.
My father's plates are BACK40 "Field" and my mother used to sign cards (to the grandparents) from the 4 T's.  All four of us kids have names that begin with the letter  T. I  might see if my old  plate is still  available "BACK4T" ... maybe.
Ruby (blue)?

Friday, January 23, 2015

More than a Thank You :^)

I received this picture in a text today. I received the thanks many weeks ago.  But better than a  thank you is seeing the gift displayed in the corner of the desk in the  "happy  corner".
I  created a cup of garden with  a dried  moss base and open air plants.  The garden was added to  a gardening angel and a bouquet of  silk flowers.
I know that my miniature fairy garden makes me smile throughout the day. I  am glad to see that an angel garden is watching over another desk providing smiles and blessings.
Happy Corner

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Planning for Retirement

One of my co-workers was chatting with me today about planning for retirement.  I had mentioned to her that my next house the "live in while retired" home was going to be larger than my current home.  She was surprised because she and her husband are planning on down-sizing.

As we got talking about our current homes and future dream homes, we realized that we were really talking about the same size home (between 1600-2000 square feet).  I had to giggle.  Once again, perspective makes all the difference.  From one side of the conversation it sounded like we had opposing viewpoints.  But we were really describing the same thing from opposite sides.

Have you ever been in a still-life painting class?  They put a bowl filled with fruit in front of the class and everyone sits around the table drawing the bowl of fruit.  If there are multiple kinds of fruit in the bowl, when you look at the pictures created by the different students you might not recognize that they are all seeing the same thing.

In the winter I find myself in need of a bigger house.  In the summer, I find myself desiring to be out in the country again; walking in the woods and playing in the gardens.  .... life is all about perspective. Every minute of every day make the most of what you have!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Headache time ...

Free isn't always a good deal.   I was given a 12 - pack of diet coke.  I finished the last  can yesterday and today I have a headache.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Trisha's chopped basket

I have been told that I should go on chopped  because of some of the odd things I put together when I cook.  In the basket today was
  • scallops
  • pepperoni rounds
  • coconut oil
  • cream cheese
  • cheddar cheese
I wasn't sure how things were going to taste together.  I did add a small amount of lemon juice to the scallops as they cooked.  The sauce was made just by dropping some cream cheese into the pan when the fish and meat were almost done cooking.  
Trisha's Pepperoni Scallops
It was amazingly good.  The spicy pepperoni's added a bit of pizzazz to the dish yet at the same time nothing was overly spicy.   

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hungry for Waffles?

As I said not long ago, I am trying to re-learn how to cook but by using coconut flour.  Where would I be without the internet?  I did a search online and found this recipe:
Protein & Coconut waffles topped with peaches and cream
Dale was hungry for waffles.  He asked if I would make them for supper.  I had been thinking about trying to make muffins this afternoon.  But when he said waffles, I decided that I would try this instead.  So here is my attempt at making waffles with coconut flour.
Ingredients :
8 eggs
1/2 cup melted  butter or coconut  oil
1/2 cup  coconut  flour
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp  vanilla
1/2 tsp  salt
(I added  1/4 cup  shredded  coconut)
Topping: 4-5 slices  peach and heavy  whipping cream.
Eight Eggs
I whipped  the eggs in a bowl then add the coconut oil (melted) and coconut  flour and  whipped some  more. 
Whipping in the coconut flour

Then I  added the rest of the ingredients and  continued whipping.
The  texture reminded me of  making cornbread.  I was tempted to add more liquid but I remembered the warning that it was going to be thick. It tasted good  and as they mentioned it was very  filling. The house  still  smells wonderful!
The  recipe made 3 (4 part) waffles. I will  freeze two for  later.  I will  need to put this  in a  calorie  count program to see what  an appropriate  serving should be.
Gluten Free Waffles!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Knitting Mittens

My sister  has my loom that I  bought with  my Christmas  money.   So I am starting to knit  some gloves to go with the scarves that I plan on making.
Knitted Mitten
I have  plans to make  about  half  dozen  sets. I  am still  trying to decide  who will get which  ones. I  love  making  things. But then I end up with more things than I  can use.  That never stops me from making  more.  So right  now I will  knit  several  pairs  of  gloves  while  Tabatha  finishes  her projects.
Knitting Time

Friday, January 16, 2015

IF is a very big word....

That is a quote that I just heard on a TV show and it really hit home.  IF, are words of hope and regret.  If everything works out.... If I would have..... If I could have..... IF, If, if.... if I was a fish I could be living in a dish. 

"If" might be a tiny two letter word but it can have such a large impact on our lives. That is if we let it.  As my dad has reminded me lately, we just need to make the best decisions that we can in our lives and as long as we are walking with God and doing our best to live in God's will then we can't ask any better for ourselves.

Don't let that word "IF" haunt you.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I wrote  this  date a lot today. I was busy  signing  loan papers. I traded in my 2011 Mazda  3 for a 2014 Mazda 3. I  looked  at  a 2015 but  there  were  two things  that  I  didn't  care for:
1. There  wasn't  a CD player. (I guess that I am behind  the  times.)
2. The button to control the radio  was in an inconvenient location. (Just  below  the shift control where cup holders  frequently are located.)

My New Mazda 3 Sport
I like  the 2014 model. Most of all I like the  color! Incase you are wondering, no I don't buy a car for its color. But  if they have my favorite  color it is a bonus!
The  car is a beautiful  shade of blue with  tan seats. It has  a CD player  but at the  same  time, I can  connect  my Zune and Kindle as an auxiliary to the  stereo  system and play my own music or allow  my books to read. (My Kindle will change most  books into audio  books.)
The new perks are the  awesome  mileage, keyless  start, and a blind spot warning system. So if you're looking for a good  used  car, Eich Motors in St. Cloud  has a 2011 Mazda 3 that is bound to move  off the  lot quickly!
Signed, Sealed and Delivered!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Learning curve w/coconut flour

I am trying learn  how  to  bake with  coconut flour.  It is providing to be  more  challenging  than I  expected.

I decided to make a crust or cracker. Just  the basic flour and butter combination.  It wasn't  getting  done.  Then all of a sudden "poof" it was overdone.   This is just the  beginning.  Maybe  I should try  muffins  instead.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Taking care of mama

This morning I had a minor outpatient procedure done.  My sister came down to drive me because they put me out. (She took the day off at the last minute since Dale was down sick.) At the appointment, they highly recommended that she stay with me during the day.  She stayed until about 3:30 in the afternoon.  As soon as she left, Sonjia jumped up on the couch next to me and snuggled. 
Sonjia takes care of mama ...
It didn't take Duchess long to raise a ruckus in the other room.  Sonjia took off running then Duchess jumped up on the couch.  It was her turn for mama time. 
Duchess takes care of mama ...
It didn't take Misty Blue very long to make her way onto the couch.  She didn't pull the same kind of trick that Duchess pulled.  But she had to make sure that she got to take her turn on the couch with me.  It is nice that my work is flexible enough that those days when I need to work from the couch with my computer on my lap, I can.  It is also nice that all three of my dobie girls want to take their turn by me helping me feel better in their own special way.
Misty takes care of mama ...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dreaming ...

As dealers do, they called me trying to entice me into making a trade.  I have had my car for 3 1/2 years.  When they called me, I looked online to see what the interest rates were at and since my current car is at zero % I chose to call them back and let them know that when the 2015's were offered at zero % then I would consider it.
Eich Motors Car Lot
I received a call last week and there is a short term offer of 0% for 36 months and .09% for 60 months.  I am being tempted.  I stopped by to see what they have for cars in stock and this dark blue one looked promising.  There was also one that was in a "Titanium Flash Mica" color.  That looked like a combination between brown and metallic gray.  I will stop by this Thursday to see what my car would be worth for a trade-in.  According to Kelly Blue Book, I should be able to get several thousand more than what I owe on my car.  So if you are looking for a new "used" car, Eich Motors in St. Cloud might have a very nice option for you this week Friday.  Although, my guess is that they already have a waiting list.  Stay tuned to see if I "love it or list it" as the HGTV show says about houses.  LOL
My Mazda 3 (blue car)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The beauty of windblown snow

The stubbles in the dried hay in the hay field worked as miniature snow fences.   Looking across the hay field,  the snow looks like waves on the water.  

The winds were so strong that it blew snow and frozen dirt around.  The side effect was dirt mixed in with the snow just enough to catch the sunshine and begin the melting process.  

The melting snow looks like glass/lace. I wish that the camera would show what my eyes were seeing as the sunlight caught on the ice formations and sparkled; dancing across the field.

The girls were so excited about running in the open field again.   It has been so cold that they haven't had much chance to play out in the country. It is a favorite pass time for them. But with the severe cold and windchill it just isn't safe for them. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Queen of the house!

Sorry this is so late!  I got distracted preparing two batches of chocolate.  I had a chocolate attack yesterday and I was all out.  So I had to make sure that I finished making a couple of batches this evening.  This morning, Duchess was laying on the couch covered in the red blanket.  All of a sudden she stuck her nose up in the air and sat quite Regally.  That was until I pulled out my phone to take a picture.  Then she looked away from me with her nose much lower.
Duchess playing Queen
This evening, after supper, Dale was giving the girls a treat.  He is working on their training a bit more lately.  Tonight it was sit, shake and kiss. It makes my heart smile when they sit in a row at attention.  This evening, they were highly motivated by people food from the restaurant.  Yes, we are shameless and give our girls table scraps.  
Attention Please!
I don't have to worry about a chocolate attack the rest of the weekend.  I finished both batches of chocolate and have them packaged and put away.  The first batch was coconut/chocolate.  The second batch was seasoned with "candy cane" stevia and sprinkled slightly with salt (not pictured.)  
Coconut Chocolate drops
Please pray for me this weekend.  On Monday morning I am having a minor out-patient procedure to remove a possible cyst.  There are rarely complications with the procedure, but your added prayer is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

You have three strikes.....

What does that make you think?  When you hear someone refer to a person having two or three strikes?  I would venture a guess that most people are filling in the words "....and your out!"

I recently watched a show on TV where the response to "You have three strikes" was something to the effect of "WOW! a perfect start to my bowling game.  I hope that I get another strike!"

I have often talked about viewpoints.  I work hard to find a positive viewpoint.  Life just seems to go easier when you are looking at the positive side of things.  At the same time I am a realist.  I do acknowledge that not everything is sunshine and roses. (Well maybe everything is roses - - a delicate yet beautiful flower that has a fabulous fragrance and a stem full of thorns that must be handled very carefully.)

Here is a challenge, next time someone starts a sentence by saying, "S/He has two strikes.  One more and ....." Break into their sentence and say, "...and they will have a perfect 10th frame!"  Smile and have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Breathtakingly beautiful

I work out of a home office.  My desk faces to the West.  I have forgotten what I miss by not seeing the Sunrise.  I had an early morning appointment Tuesday out of town.  So I was on the road before dawn.  It was difficult to drive because God began painting the clouds in the sky with the reflections of the sunbeams.  I had to pull off to the side of the road and take a photo with my cell phone.  
Sunrise 1/6/15
Then I remembered an old saying, "Red in the Morning, Sailor take Warning; Red at Night, Sailor's Delight".  If I remember correctly, the saying has logic behind it.  If you see a red sunset, the horizon looking to the West is clearing in other words: the storm is breaking up  and will be gone by morning.  You see, most storms move from West to East.  If you see a red sunrise, it usually means that there are clouds over your head and the horizon while facing the East is beginning to cloud over. Those clouds could mean a storm that would cause you problems while sailing.

Most "old wives tales" have a beginning that makes sense. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dog days of winter?

My babies have it figured out.  They take over the bed and whine until I cover them with the blankets.  Like me, they have very little desire to adventure out in the severely cold windy evening.  We do have coats for each of them and I make sure that they are wearing there coat when they do need to make it outside to do their business.
Snug as a bug in the rug....
Although, I must say that these cold weather days really zap the energy out of me.  :^(

Monday, January 5, 2015

Too cold to snow ....

I have heard all of my life that "it is too cold to snow". Today the temperature has been lingering around zero degrees Fahrenheit.  In the range that in the past we were told it is too cold to snow.  Guess what? .... it is snowing!  That is okay.  We need the snow.  We could actually use about 3-4 (maybe 10-12) inches of snow on the ground to help insulate the gardens and the water pipes.  Yes, last year because of the lack of snow when the cold spells started hitting, we were forces to run our water non-stop (at a drip) for many months because the city water lines were at risk of freezing. 

The forecaster has predicted that my area will get about an inch of snow.  In other words, just enough to freshen up the winter white.  I guess that will be nice enough for today.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Prayer shawl complete

I know this wasn't on my official to do list.   But I started it about two years ago and it was time to get it done. 
The complementary color on the outer edge was what I went shopping for.  I am glad that I didn't have enough of the original color.  I think it looks much prettier this way.
I tried to take a selfie with it but my arms are too short.  Dale tried to take my picture but he pushes the camera button really hard and wiggles the phone for a blurry picture.  He wasn't happy when I made him model for the pictures.
Prayer Shawl
Unhappy Model - Pretty Prayer Shawl
I was going to have my sister retake the pictures today but we went out for supper last night and I ended up with either food poisoning or an allergic reaction to my food. I was up half the night not knowing which end to face towards the toilet. I chose to stay snuggled up at home. I am feeling better although not 100% yet.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Never go into a craft store last .....

Yesterday I stopped by Joann Fabrics for my last stop in a series of stores. I needed to buy one skein of yarn to finish a project.  I didn't know that yarn was on sale.
I had brought the project with because I had been working on this one for two years.  I expected that I would need to buy a complimentary color instead of a matching color.  I was right. 

Fun Yarns!
As I looked for the colors,  I sent photos of the interesting yarns to my sister.  As I waited in the checkout,  I saw some totes that they had for sale.  I took a picture and sent it to my sister with the phrase,  "just say no". Instead she asked if I was going to buy her one too and with some of the yarn I sent photos of.  I picked up two totes and two more skeins of yarn.
New tote and water bottle
I was easily swayed because everything was on sale.  When I got to the checkout,  I used my smartphone to sign into the website for a 15% off coupon.  I was amazed that I was allowed to use the coupon on items that were on sale.  When all was said and done, one tote was free and the yarn was less than $14 (Normally a $20 value. )
Shopping in a craft store at the end of my shopping day is like going into a grocery store hungry. I had made a tea cup garden for my sisters desk with open air plants. I decided to get her a small water bottle to go with it. I love giving people gifts.  Happy very early birthday, Tabatha. Tee hee.
Cup of Flower
Garden in a cup