Coming Soon: Free Book

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

Friday, May 29, 2015

May I ask ..... ?

What are you doing?
Yes, you may always ask what I am doing.  I think today in the airport that I could have sold several hats made of hand spun wool.
The flight loading before mine was delayed.  A young woman in a fashionable hat similar to the one I will be knitting stopped by to inquire about what I was doing. 
Waiting for the plane.....
I have my Lazy Kate in my oversized purse on my lap. I am two-plying while I wait. Being at an airport is people watching entertainment enough.  Try adding to it doing something that not many people have seen.  I love watching the expressions.
Lazy Kate on the go!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Time to two-ply .... making yarn

I know!  When I travel my writing is a lot more inconsistent. Part of my inconsistency this week has been trying to finish spinning my wool and two-plying it into thread before my wool dying class on Saturday. 
Almost done spinning!
I finished spinning last night and started transferring the single ply thread from the drop spindle to a bobbin. I finished the transfer on the way to and from work. 
Two plying yarn
This evening I loaded my two bobbins onto my Lazy Kate and started the two ply process.  I might even finish by Saturday!  After all, that is the goal!  I did find that the offset countertop of the front desk at the hotel worked perfectly for the process and the clerk was having a good time chatting.  It was moving fast. Although I got a lot done,  there is a lot more left to do.
Lazy Kate loaded with two bobbins

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

School closed due to flooding

I arrived last night at the hotel. We were going to go out for supper but seeing the lightening light up the sky, decided to stay in.
We woke up this morning to notices of schools delayed and closed due to inclement weather. 9 inches of rain in 12 hours was more than this concrete city could handle.  
We were told to hold off going into the office.  We were delayed an 1.5 hours. Our path was not as affected as some areas, but we saw a park area that was flooded. I am sure building an inverted park made sense to someone at one point in time.
Inverted Garden in Houston
The garden outside the office building had washed away. But who piles dirt on top of concrete for a garden?  I am sure it made sense to someone at one point in time.
Garden on top of cement
On the way back to the hotel after a hard day at work, I noticed that there were already entrepreneurs ready to make some money off the floods. It was raining so hard that some cars didn't realize how deep the water was under their vehicles until they floated uncontrollably in the water.
(No I wasn't driving) Making money off the flood
The news have shown shocking and tragic from today. I am showing you some of the odd pictures of things that you might overlook.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Comforting Grandma

I was down with the flu on Sunday.  The dogs knew that I wasn't feeling well. I laid down on the spare bed to take a nap and they all had to lay close to me to comfort me.
They nearly "comforted" me off the bed.  I was rolled up like a dog in a C shape by the time they all climbed up on the bed.
That blank spot along the edge was for the people....

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Boating opener?

I heard someone say that Memorial day weekend in Minnesota is boating opener.  We didn't make it out for fishing opener. Today was the first time this year that we were out on the boat.
Sonjia and I share smiles!
Sonjia put the skids on and had to be lifted and pushed into the boat.  We left the leash on her for quite awhile out of fear that she would try to jump out and get back to shore.
Dale tried taking her ice fishing a couple of times last winter and she repeatedly ran back to shore. I could tell that she was scared and nervous but she settled down and started walking freely around the boat.
Duchess and Misty Blue had a hay day. They made me nervous jumping up nd down off the bow of the boat. A few times I thought that I'd be taking a cold swim.
Dale and Duchess fishing together
Duchess and Misty watch grandpa bait a hook
Misty Blue on the bow

Duchess on the bow
Grandpa! Duchess is sticking her tongue out at me!

Friday, May 22, 2015

All of the vegetables are planted

Dale and Alan planted their potatoes on Good Friday. We have been planting as appropriate in the weeks since then. Once again we have the three of us working the garden together.
We have planted: potatoes,  radishes, kohlrabi, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers (the guys not me!), broccoli,  cauliflower, leeks, onions, garlic, pumpkin, zucchini, cucumbers, buttercup squash and green beans.  I might have missed a thing or two.
Dale insists on putting a wide space between  rows for tilling . The only thing  left to go into the garden will be the cotton seeds.
Today was the perfect day to work outside.  I found one wood tick. YUK! But it is supposed to begin raining tomorrow afternoon and rain most of the weekend. That's okay we are dry down to 2 inches.
North side of garden
Center of garden

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Digital x-rays?

It has been at least 18 months since I had been in for a cleaning.  So maybe this isn't news to everyone, but my dentist used a digital x-ray machine today.
Digital x-rays have half the exposure but they make it up by taking twice as many shots. Which means it is really the same.
Digital X-ray and Sensor
No waiting for the film to be processed.  They put a small device/sensor in your mouth. (It is wrapped in a plastic disposable sleeve.) They line up the camera and snap the picture.  Then they glance at the computer to make sure it turned out the way they want it to.
Pretty cool, huh? It makes you think, "What's next? "
I changed my diet about 18 months ago. This is the first time that I've been to the dentist without needing to have a cavity filled or without getting warned about receding gums.  It appears  (in an unscientific study of 1) that my diet change has been good for my teeth!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rhubarb, banana, coconut cookies

Rhubarb, coconut, banana sandwich cookies
Mother's Day weekend I picked a bouquet of rhubarb for my sister.  I also made a rhubarb upside-down cake for Dale.  But I wanted some rhubarb for me.  After tasting how sweet the banana coconut cookies were, I decided to try adding rhubarb to them.  (As I mixed the ingredients together, I kept thinking of additional twists.)  Here is the ingredient list that you will need.
1 1/3 cup finely chopped rhubarb
1/3 cup water
24 drops French Vanilla Stevia (split)
2/3 cup coconut flakes
10 Chocolate nibs finely chopped (Lily's Dark chocolate 55% - sugar free)
2/3 cup coconut flour
2 bananas
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
4 oz cream cheese
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp vanilla

Do you notice the 1/3 and 2/3 cup units?  Sorry, but my 1/2 cup measuring cup was dirty in the dishwasher.  So I thought that I'd have fun and cook in thirds for a change. 

I started out taking the chopped rhubarb, water and 16 drops of stevia together on the stovetop.  I brought it to a boil then reduced the heat and let it to reduce.

2/3 cup finely chopped rhubarb (times 2)
With the rhubarb cooling, I mashed the two bananas, added coconut flakes and chocolate.  Then I added the rhubarb.  When I saw everything in the bowl I thought to myself "cinnamon!"  After all, everything is better with cinnamon.  MIX it together.  After taste testing I wished that I would have prepared more rhubarb.
Bananas, rhubarb, coconut flakes, chocolate, cinnamon
I almost forgot about the coconut flour.  I was thinking with the extra moisture of rhubarb that I might not need the eggs.  But I could barely get all the coconut flour mixed it because it was so dry.

Coconut flour
Eggs are always a good binder when baking cookies.  For people that want a vegan recipe, the eggs are not really needed.
2 eggs
Roll into a ball, place it on a cookie sheet, and form a hole in the top of the ball for filling later.  I baked at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes on my stone baking sheet.
Prepare the cookies with holes to fill
While the cookies were baking, I mixed up the cream cheese filling.  I actually made two batches on two separate days.  The first one I used cream cheese, butter, vanilla and stevia.  The second batch, I used cream cheese, milk, and vanilla flavored stevia.  (That was better for spreading.)
Cream cheese, butter, vanilla and stevia
I chopped up some walnuts to add to the cream cheese filling for some extra flavor and texture.  That was a good choice.  (I am thinking that I could sit down and eat the filling without the cookies.)
Finely chopped walnuts
I didn't plan large cookies.  The purpose of making healthy cookies is to make them a size that will provide a sweet treat and don't give you too many calories.
Cooling and smelling good!
I gave each cookie a large amount of cream cheese filling.  But even with that, I used only one batch of filling.  When I made the sandwich cookies, I had to double the filling recipe to make it to the end of the cookies.  I also used my small pampered chef scoop instead of the large one so that it made more cookies.
Rhubarb, banana, coconut, chocolate chip cookie
Oh, this is a recipe that is a keeper!  Whether you choose to punch a whole that should be filled with cream cheese or flatten them down to make a sandwich cookie it tastes great.  Many years ago, I traveled to Japan.  When I returned home, I realized that sweets made in America are much sweeter than those made overseas.  I think that I'm adapting back to a less sweet treat.
Cookies made for sandwich style

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The difference a day makes

SORRY!  I missed a post yesterday and it is late today.  SO much going on and I will explain it in a later. But for now here are some cool shots after 4.5 inches of rain in just over 24 hours.  (That is according to Dale's rain gauge.)

Monday I took the girls out to the corner for a run. The ground was still "squishy" even at the top of the hill but the rushing waters had receded back to almost normal. You need to have a little bit of vision or imagination to see where the flood waters were.  The stream is barely visible across the back.  The rectangular area went to the left up to the bright green grass.
Monday after waters receded
After the rains, water poured into the creek connecting it to the swamp and pushing the edges of the swamp further into the grass.  I had to watch the dogs closely because the entire swamp area had a fairly fast flow to it.  
Where is the creek?  (it flooded)
I went around the corner and got out of my car.  I was careful to make sure that the dogs stayed in the car.  The culverts running under these roads are huge.  But even with the large culverts there was only a few inches between the top of the water and the top of the culvert.  DON'T play too closely.  The current in this little stream was very strong.
Keep that water rolling
Oh this would be so disappointing.  To my knowledge, this is the only way into the place at the top of the hill.  It is a long driveway up a good hill.  During the winter I've thought, "I'd hate to drive up that driveway with the ice."  Today I thought, "I wouldn't risk driving on that driveway."  Later I did wonder if they had a duck (combination vehicle and boat.)  I am not sure that it would help because the current was so strong.  
I hope they drive a "Duck"
Normally, the creek is a slow trickle of water going under the road through this culvert.  But Sunday, it was pushing through the culvert and expanding through in every direction.  It looked like it was keeping up but as you followed the creek into town, it pushed over it's banks all the way across town.
The culvert feeding the stream.
Random thought: why is creek spelled with two E's when steam is spelled with "EA" when they both sound the same?  (I have had to correct each word at least once during this article because I have swapped the ee and ea around.)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Saturday 5/16/15 storm damage

Saturday evening the sirens blew is Watkins and neighboring Kimball, Minnesota.  It was windy with a lot of lightening, thunder, and rain.  But in Watkins, there was no wind damage.  Then Sunday morning we began to hear the rumors.  "It looked like a bomb hit in the Kimball Football Field."
Storage Shed at the end of Kimball Football Field
The debate was on ..... was it straight line winds or a tornado?  For the most part the debris was in a straight line.  It was also in a very focused area.  A large majority of the debris was inside of the fence.
Straight line winds or tornado?
The scoreboard was absolutely demolished.  It also looked (from afar) like it was twisted.  It could have easily been the straight line winds bending it while it hung onto the posts until it finally let loose.
Scoreboard demolished
The fence at the end is slightly elevated.  It did a very good job of catching the debris and equipment that was sent airborne.  Although, I am not sure what shape any of this equipment is in now!?!
The end fence caught most of the debris
If you look in the very center of the photo below, you should be able to see three boards that were pounded into the ground by the storm.  They are all shoved in from a different angle.  I didn't go onto the field.  I figured if inspectors hadn't been there yet, I wasn't going to be the person that disturbed any evidence.  So I can't tell if the boards themselves have a twist or if they just went in from different directions.  Years ago, I spoke to someone that went out to assess the damage and determine if it was straight line winds or tornado.  I was told that they look for the twist in the debris.
Proof of a tornado?
What we did get in Watkins is 3.1 inches of rain in about 12 hours.  That filled up the little creek that normally flows quietly through town.  Several roads and driveways were being flooded out.
Gate to Watkins compost site
This is nothing new, which always makes me wonder why they don't do more to create a buffer that will detour the rushing water to a more constructive route.  I know, it costs a lot of money for the few times that we get this much rain.
Water trying to wash out road....
To my knowledge there has only been what is considered "minor" damage.  I doubt the school considers this as minor.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Getting close to done!

It is so good to see the progress of a challenging project getting close to the end. Dale has been helping by hauling different size rocks.
Last weekend we picked up the ground cover for the area.  I found a low growing sedum and adguja. Both multiple quickly and should take the abuse of dogs walking on them.
90% complete
The wood is from a tree that Dale took down a few years ago and I kept because I liked the look of it. I found the turtles under the grass when I dug up the garden area. As we have been scouting for stones,  these white ones caught my eye.
The vision is seen ...
Together, Dale and I put the pieces together.  I think it is looking pretty good so far.  It will serve it's purpose well. That is to help the overflow water in summer storms and to accept the melting snow in the winter so that the sidewalk doesn't ice over.

Friday, May 15, 2015


I had a board meeting Thursday evening in Sauk Rapids.  The church needed kitchen supplies picked up.  I decided to adjust my working hours so that I could take off early and get the supplies picked up before the meeting.  I went through the drive through and ordered my bacon cheese burger with no bun.  Some Wendy's automatically put a big piece of lettuce on each side so that it is easy to pick up and eat.

Son of a baconator with no bun.
Thursday, I remembered to ask for lettuce on the top and bottom so that I could pick it up and eat it.  When I opened it up my first thought was "Overachiever!"  The cook had put 3-4 large pieces of lettuce on both the top and bottom.  This person took pride in their customer service skills! Kudos!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Flour Sacks

I saw someone share this link on Facebook (link available below).  I could appreciate the pictures of the man at the flour mill in the midst of sacks of flour.  The flour sacks were an assortment of decorative patterns.  It brought back the memory of stories my Grandmothers told me.
My Grandmothers both lived through the great depression.  Let's put life in a little bit of perspective. Grocery stores were where you went to get staples for baking: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, yeast, etc.  There were very few premade cookies available unless you went to a bakery that made them daily.  Money was at a minimum.  Mother's became experts at making it stretch especially when it came to food.  They purchased 25 and 50 pound bags of flour necessary for baking their families weekly bread.

When flour mills realized that mothers were using the flour bags to sew dresses for their daughters, they began choosing material with patterns.  Mothers and daughters would go grocery shopping together to choose the material on the flour bag.  Food rationing during WWII changed all of that.  Interesting that the choice of the government to ration sugar in the homes left mothers with a challenging choice: make bread or buy bread and have sugar for other baking.

Whether intentional or unintentional, the governments choice to ration sugar led to a surge in mothers purchasing bread instead of baking it themselves.  I wonder after the fact, "If sugar was rationed how did large bakeries increase their supply needed as an increasingly large number of people purchased loaves of bread?"

1943 ... Prior to World War II, most flour was sold in 25 and 50 pound cloth bags. During the war, sugar was rationed and many women began buying bread already baked so they could use their limited sugar in other recipes. This had a lasting impact, as women became accustomed to not baking bread, even after the sugar rations were lifted. It was following WWII that flour began to be packaged in smaller bags (at first, they were cloth bags in 5 and 10 pound quantities), and a growing portion of flour was sold to commercial bakeries.

According to that site on the history of milling flour, in the early 1960's flour bags were changed from cloth to paper.  The 5 and 10 pound cloth bags were no longer useable for making dresses and paper had become a less expensive commodity.

The 1950's had spurned a post WWII era referred to as "The Golden Era" in the United States of America.  Industry was on the growth.  Families had more money available to them.  The banking system began replacing the use of actual money with the use of "counter checks" at the same time in the late 40's and early 50's credit cards were created with the original "Diners Club".  Mothers moved away from home baking and the disposable era was born. 

How many young women in 2015 could bake their own bread from scratch?  How many of those same young women could take a cloth flour bag and turn it into a cute dress for their daughter?  Back 100 years ago, store bought clothing was a special privilege.  Now it is all about style, fashion and wearing the current trend in clothing.  Most of the clothing purchases are put on credit causing families to be in debt.  A debt that is growing by leaps and bounds.  Is that better?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My hats always turn out too big

I have knitted several hats.  They always turn out too big and I end up tearing them apart or giving them to someone that fits into them. But now, I have the solution!
Jennifer Love Hewitt, Episode 7 Ghost Whisperer - close up of Hat
10/28/2005 on episode 7 of Ghost Whisperer I noticed that the costume stylists chose an oversized hat for lead actess, Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Jennifer Love Hewitt, Episode 7 Ghost Whisperer - Full view of hat
They resolved the oversized issue by placing a broach  (pin) on the front of the hat. I love it!  Now I have another option for my hand spun wool. (Thank goodness for reruns and the info button.)
Jennifer Love Hewitt, Episode 7 Ghost Whisperer
The old fashioned hat pin actually went through the back of a woman's hat and through the bun that she had her hair wrapped up into.  Their hair was only washed once a week  (no indoor plumbing.) They wore it long and would wrap it or twist it up so that it would be out of the way as they worked. By using a hat pin they resolved the issue of the wind.  When the winds came up unexpectedly, the hat would help the hats stay in their place.
Traditional Hat Pin