Coming Soon: Free Book

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

Cow Drop time!

Yes it is time for the annual Watkins ritual!     Kraut and Wurst days which are kicked off by the Little Miss Watkins pageant and the exciting cow drop cerimony.

The organizers grid out a section of land while a local farmer brings in a cow. An important mayoral duty is to keep the cow moving until it poops and to keep it within the boundaries so the poop lands on a square.  The  square that the most poop lands on is the grand prize winner!

More drawings are held for the rest of the prizes.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Joseph and the amazing technicolor dream coat!

 Opening night was fabulous!  Great Job cast!
Thursday evening was the opening performance and the cast did a fabulous job!  I was to the original performance with Donny Osmond and a second performance years later at the Ordway in Minneapolis.  The Great Northern Theatre Company has done this musical well!  You would never guess that your are watching a local theater group.
Coat of many colors
The performance was top quality with wonderful choreography, amazing costumes and fabulous sets!  If you are in the central Minnesota area check it out before it is too late!
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream coat!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Foodie alert! ... garden fresh **love it!**

I can't wait for the day that we have home grown beef too.  I definitely won't be ever be a vegetarian.  I really don't like vegetables that much.  But I must admit they do taste much better garden fresh.
Kohlrabi, broccoli & cheeseburger
The only problem is that everything needs to be picked and eaten at the same time.  Although that does provide variety.  For the first time this year, I tried blanching and freezing kohlrabi.  When I thaw it out later and use it, I will decide if that was a good idea or not.  
Garden fresh stir-fry with left over T-bone
I still have two kohlrabi left in the garden.  They are not growing as fast as the others.  That's okay, it will spread them out.  I have been enjoying the vegetables so much this summer!  If you don't have room or time for a garden, then make sure to check out your local farmer's market and enjoy!
T-bone with garden fresh green beans and snap peas

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Monster under the blanket

This is the Doberman version of peek a boo or hide and seek. It is a favorite game of the girls.  All of their butts rotate in circles because their nub-tails are wagging so hard.  It often starts by Misty Blue picking up a blanket and tossing it around. 
Sonjia paws at Misty Blue under the blanket
We fight her for the blanket and toss it over her making sure that her head is covered.  She swings her head around like a monster.  Then we yell, "Monster under the blanket!" and the other two come running.  They take turns dropping onto the floor, paws up and the blanket goes from one dog to the next.  It is so fun to watch but so difficult to get photos of them because they move so fast. 
Misty Blue uncovers herself

Monday, July 27, 2015

Square to Flower ... cotton

Sunday, July 26th was day 107 for my cotton plants.  We had a strong storm come through and the plants were pushed over.  I had to cover the roots of one plant.  I peeked under the leaves and I saw the buds.  When the buds are so beautiful, I can't wait to see the actual bloom.  
Cotton bud
Upside down hearts with fingers like flames reaching up to the sky yet carefully tucked under the leaves protecting them from the weather.  The stem of the plant looks tough and hardy like a heavy duty shrub while the buds look like a little lace handkerchief. 
2 cotton buds
We are 2-3 weeks behind the normal schedule.  But when I look at the averages, it doesn't look so bad.  There is still a possibility that the plants will bloom and produce cotton.  I didn't choose the best spot.  The 4-5 plants closest to the toad house get significantly more shade than the other plants and I can tell the difference.  I am not seeing the full blooms on them yet.  This late in the season, it may mean that they will not produce a bloom in time for the cotton to mature.  
Row of cotton bending and twisting from the winds
When I planted the onions and garlic around the plants, I had purchased two kinds of garlic.  Last Friday when I got back from Houston, I noticed that one variety had tops that were drying out significantly.  I took the time over the weekend to harvest them.  The rest of the garlic and onions are also drying up.  I am guessing that in the next two weeks, that I will need to harvest them.  The cotton has two or three months remaining.  They will be harvested with the pumpkin and squash.  I am excited to see how these make it to the end!  ..... more updates to come on growing cotton in Minnesota.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hello Sunshine!

Last Friday evening when I got home, I was welcomed by sunshine reflecting up from the garden.   The black-eyed Suzie's have come in thick in a few areas.  Every year at the same times so absolutely reliably the garden changes from one color to the next.  The whites and blues are fading and the yellows and browns are coming into view.  They are little balls of sunshine!
Black-eyed Suzie is watching for you
I planted several sunflowers last year.  I left them up late into the fall for the birds to nibble away at the seeds.  Evidentially, they dropped one and it decided to take root.  A weed is a flower out of place.  I decided that this one was in a good place.  There was a second one nearby but it was a casualty of the paint job.  I planted several replacements but it might have been too late in the season for them to bloom.  
Giant Sunflower
As I look at this garden this fall, I am looking at it differently.  IF we decide to make an offer on a farm this week, then I will need to remove the self-seeding perennials quickly and dig up the rest of the perennials this fall and plant grass seed.  The person interested in buying the house for a rental property would prefer not to have the entire front of the house as gardens.  I can understand that with a rental. There is a lot more to do than just packing the interior.  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Check out every corner ....

...when you look at a new home.  Okay the this beautiful longhorn wasn't in the house. And there were two walls and a feeding trough between us so I couldn't tell you if it was a cow or bull.  But we would put a couple of beef cattle in that section of the barn.
Longhorn Cattle in Minnesota?
My sheep (a wether) would be able to come down to the farm and possibly with another ram. That will probably max out our pasture area.  .... silly me, talking like we have an accepted offer.  We haven't even made an offer yet.
Look at that horn!  Oh o!  It's keeping a close eye on me!
Looking for a place in the country.  Perfect will be 15-40 acres but 5 acres will do if it is a descent 5 acres.  Today we looked at a place with several out buildings and a pasture that is already fenced in.  It is currently split into 3 sections which is nice.  There is a "two car garage" that I could visualize being modified into a two story art studio in the future.  The house is a five bedroom house with large rooms.  So until I outgrow the extra space, the 17.5 X 12 foot bedroom will work as an art studio.  There is a very spacious attic that can be used for extra storage.  The basement is an old fashioned basement that should never be "finished", needs a dehumidifier running in it and can also work okay for extra storage. 

But the first floor and 2nd floor have been recently updated.  Too bad when they completed the update that they didn't take a few feet off from one of the large bedrooms and create a shower on the second floor.  I wonder why?  They seem to have thought of everything else. 

Pray for guidance.  I am very interested in this place.  Like everything there are many pros and cons.  It would be nice to know that others are praying for me during this decision process.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Travel day

I love people watching.  But sometimes there just isn't time! That's because there is too much other activity going on around me.  BIRD!
Most of the time when I go to Houston my trip has two legs. I fly through: Chicago Midway, Denver, Las Vegas, or Georgia. I guess that fits me. SQUIRREL!
One flight attendant today was a budding comedian. We are not sure if he will ever flower..? He came by to offer treats and he threatened to throw mine at me (by the window) and I over exaggerated a catch.  He asked the woman next to me, "Would you like peanut?"  Our brains fill in a bag(s) of peanuts.  But he handed her a peanut.  .... yes it was immediately followed up by a full bag of peanuts and 100 calorie cookies.
Would you like peanut?
I requested a full can of pop instead of a partial (small cup they usually pass out.)  After all I woke up at 4:40 and thought that I'd over slept. I got to the lobby with my bags in tow before I realized that I was an hour early. ...back to my story. He told me they were out. I replied back "Okay then I'll have _____" And I ordered the same thing. When the woman next to me ordered the same thing that I did, he said "now we are really out" as he continued taking orders
Hopefully that is my bag!
I know this post is out of chronological order but when I looked out the window of the plane of the tarmac I saw a cart full of luggage.  I couldn't help but wonder if the blue one with the orange tag was mine.  The sun was on the other side of the plane so I left the shade open and watched the cart.  Yes, it was my bag with all my special markings.  That is the biggest question of all when traveling .... will my bag make it to the destination with me?  Maybe that is why I like to sit at the window seat just in front of the engine?
YES! that is my bag!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Blue Fish

The six of us team members went out for supper tonight.  We let Mike choose and he knows that there are several of that love sushi.  So he chose a restaurant that we've eaten at before.  We went to The Blue Fish on Washington in Houston, Texas.
Miso Soup
The Miso soup was fabulous.  Mike ordered the rolls for all of us to share.  He did an excellent job choosing.  Look at this individual piece!  It looks good enough to eat!
In the shape of a lobster with an actual lobster tail was this beautiful mega lobster sushi.  Intermingled between the pieces of sushi was deep-fried lobster and it absolutely melted in my mouth! 
Lobster Roll
There were six of us and several of the individual choices had 2-4 pieces of sushi.  So not everyone was able to try all of the pieces.  
They served Pot stickers steamed, deep fried or pan fried.  In the attempt to stay as healthy as possible, we ordered them steamed.  They weren't quite as flavorful as the fried varieties but they were pretty good.
Pot sticker
As with all foods when they hit America, they become a little bit Americanized.  This sushi roll was very flavorful but VERY spicy.  Okay, yes I eat pickled ginger and wasabi which will clear out the sinuses.  But this roll was a different kind of spice.  
Cajun Style
I put a piece of this roll onto my plate.  A little piece fell off and I lifted it up to my mouth. I spit it out before anyone saw me and I gave away the portion that had not been touched to someone else at the table.  The rice that I stuck into my mouth had the flavor of bell peppers - and I don't need to be sick when I'm getting ready to travel home.
....bummer with bell peppers
This last roll was beautiful and flavorful but the pink in the center was an odd texture.  I had a couple of pieces and I had to add wasabi and ginger in order to get over the texture.  I had to laugh a little because they brought the food over about a 90 minute time frame so that the table would not get over-crowded.  We were hungry and making six people wait then feeding them just a little at a time made it a bit challenging for everyone to get an equal amount.  
Not sure what this was but it was good
This restaurant was over crowded.  It is not is a good location but the food is SO GOOD that the location doesn't matter.  They are busy almost everyday of the week!  If you ever have the chance, stop in and have a few sushi rolls. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


You scream, we all scream for ice cream!
Mint Chocolate Chip
Today at work was healthy salad day for lunch.  Then in the middle of the afternoon they served a variety of ice creams with a topping bar to the side. 
Ice cream wagons
If you are going to be bad, then for pete sake make it worth while and be very bad. It tasted very good and quenched my sweet tooth for the day.
The beach theme including the Beach Boys!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Reserve a copy today!

Hugs Hands and Heaven Help Hank is at the publisher. We don't have a publication date yet. But, we are so excited that we want people to have the opportunity to reserve a copy or early. The cost will be $5 per book and $3 for shipping.

Hank is just an ordinary man he has an ordinary job with an ordinary family in an ordinary house until one day when the love of his life is diagnosed with leukemia a form of cancer. Everybody has troubles that come into their lives. For Hank's wife that diagnosis was the beginning of 10 years fighting. She celebrated her 50th birthday with color and joy. But a short  five years later she lost her fight for life. By the end of 10 years Hank had lost 3 wives to different kinds of cancers.

Surrounded by hugs then by handshakes Hank was comforted. Hank shares from his viewpoint how to make it through. 
Hugs Hands and Heaven Help Hank

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunshine and smiles

It was a beautiful sun-shining day in Minnesota.  We decided to take the pontoon out for a cruise around the lake.  We are trying to get the girls used to it.  I was able to get a picture of Duchess smiling.  But the waves got to be a lot for her and she spent most of the time tucked under the chair that I was sitting on or under the canopy with Dale.
Duchess smiling
Periodically, the girls would stick their noses up in the air.  It was carrying a scent that had them curious.  To me it was just fresh air.  
Sonjia and Misty checking things out
The homes along the shoreline often had dogs.  The girls took their turns barking hello.  They enjoyed watching the homes along the shoreline and the other boats out on the lake.  There were so many interesting things for them to see.  This was the first time in two years that we were out on this lake.  Duchess was the only one with us at that time.
Duchess and Misty Blue
Sonjia shook less and smiled more.  I took a leash with in case she put up a fuss getting on the boat.  But this time she jumped in of her own free will.  She didn't care much for the waves thumping against the pontoons; but she seems to like it better than the fishing boat.
Sonjia smiling
....she even likes to stand where the wind would catch her ears and make them fly.  That is one of the fun parts of a Doberman with natural ears: they fly in the wind!
We hope you had a beautiful day because we had a day full of weeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

K thru 8

Thursday and Friday I was at the Rocking Horse Farm for knitting camp.  It was a little bit like being in a one room school house. I was the Kindergartener looking at my knitting machine for the first time.  There were also very experienced knitters continuing to learn.
Beginning Knitting (a practice swatch)
Jeanne and I worked together practicing a couple of techniques on a small swatch.  The woman across from us was making a lace cowl with beads (similar to a forever scarf). 
Advanced Lace making
I kept reminding myself that I needed to learn to walk before I could run.  But this is the reason that I purchased the machine.  I have two lace sweaters that I wear over the top of my other shirts to dress them up.  One of them is burgundy and the other one is brown and cream.  I've been looking for black and royal blue and since I can't find them, I guess that I'm going to need to make them myself.  
Baby Blanket
We made a baby blanket together.  We still need to make a boarder that will frame out the piece.  Jeanne might crochet that as a boarder.  It all depends on if we can find more time together to work on it.  We finished this by 3 PM of day one.
Two sock blanks
I worked alone for the rest of the afternoon.  In the last 2 1/2 hours I finished two sock blanks.  It was a bit challenging because I was knitting two threads together.  I had to set my needles to knit two skip one for the full width of the project.  It was a basic knit pattern just like walking to a toddler.
Ribbing tool
The machine that I purchased also had a ribbing tool.  I decided to practice ribbing by making a pair of socks.  Between machine problems and inexperience, it took me all day to complete a pair of socks.  I thought that was terrible.  Then I was gently reminded that I was a beginner, a kindergartener.  Socks begin with ribbing, change over to straight knitting, then have a special process that is done for the heal and toe.  I was jumping leaps and bounds.  I might not be running yet, but I learned a lot.  It will be a month before I can practice again, maybe more.  Lord, help me remember what I did!
Machine knit socks
We had a great time at the knitting camp.  One thing that was difficult for me to overcome was that although some of the others there were students learning new things, they were also good resources as instructors for me.  I had a difficult time knowing who was able and willing to help. (Part of that is that for some reason I like to learn the hard way by figuring it out!) They were a wonderful group of women with big hearts and a lot of encouragement. 
The next event is September 18th & 19th, 2015.  It is called September Seminar: A celebration of machine knitting. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Jeanne and I  spent the day working on our new knitting machine.  It is late and so all that you get is this short note. Spoiler alert: she worked on a baby blanket and I worked on two sock blanks.  ....more later!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How is the garden growing?

Green!  I have shared a few things that I've cooked from the garden.  I definitely love it when the garden is producing food for the meals.  I just walk out pick what is ripe and create a meal around what is available.
North end of Garden
Last year I took photos from the alley side.  This year I stood up by my neighbors door and took pictures down into the garden.  The guys insist on planting the rows far enough apart so that they can till between the rows.  It still takes each of us a couple hours a week of weeding close to the bases.
South end of garden
My sassy men chose to purchase kohlrabi plants instead of planting by seed.  I planted by seed and started them indoors.  It was a good choice.  This week we are picking the last of the kohlrabi.  There are about ten left in the garden.  I have blanched and frozen a few.  I hope that it works.
2nd planting kohlrabi
Ready, set, zucchini!  It will be coming out of my ears in just a few weeks.  So far, I am getting just enough to use in stir frying and baking.
The tomatoes are still small and green but the plants are large and bending the metal cages that are there to support them.  Once they start ripening it will be time for salsa!  I just need to decide what to put in mine to make it interesting.
Tomato plants
I think that it might be time to pick another head of cabbage.  But looking at the next few days I don't think that I will have time to cook it up and we aren't going any where to take that much coleslaw.  They just keep getting bigger (and better).  But at some point there will be too much to be able to use.
Cabbage plants