Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sunrise 12/29/2010




Well, we made it back from our little Christmas get away to the cabin and I will have a few pictures and stories for you in the coming days.

The Lord welcomed me back home this morning with this glorious sunrise.


Sunrise at the Open A Bar 2 Ranch
December 29, 2010


A storm is moving in...

We've been fortunate so far this winter in the snow department. Haven't really had much. Especially compared to this time last year.

Check out this post from last year.

Miscellaneous Goings On...




The tree in the back yard.
Notice the coloring...
pink-orange glow all around.

You can click on the picture to see a full screen view of it.
Just hit your browsers back button to return to the post.




The calves were curious as to what I was doing out in their pasture at 7 am wearing my pajamas, a robe and my cowboy boots. Ahhh, country life. Where else can you dress so magnificently and not be afraid you will end up on the web in a picture titled "people of walmart?"

Seriously... One MORNING in the country is worth a whole month in town.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Country Chicken Girl

Merry Christmas from the
Country Chicken Girl & Sugar


I'm writing this to you from the middle of no where in the mountains of Colorado at the Manville cabin. Yes sir-ee the fun has begun. We arrived yesterday afternoon and the silliness has already begun. I will have lots to post about in the coming days. Right now I just wanted to get this little post up for all of you this Christmas morning.

Here's a little movie for you to enjoy concerning this year's Christmas picture.




Thursday, December 23, 2010

Manville Family Christmas, Part One



Some of you know that I write a column for the Gering Citizen Newspaper. This is one of the stories I shared in my column a couple of weeks ago, but due to space limitations in the newspaper I had to cut the story down. But here on my blog, I can ramble on for ever and ever... So here is a little longer version of the story.

I will also be adding more to this story in the coming days, because there is more to tell!

AND... we will be spending this Christmas once again at the cabin so I will be sure to keep you filled in on the adventures that we have.


When I met my husband, Danny, 15 years ago I knew that my life was forever changed. I just didn't have any inkling at the time, just how much of it was going to change. When we met, I was a single mother of two young boys, living my single independent life, making ends meet and vowing that I would never get married again. I had been raising my boys by myself for the last five years. I didn't have much of a support system since both of my parents had passed away when I was in my early twenties. My mom died three months after my first wedding and my father died shortly after my oldest son was born.

One of the hardest adjustments of the “single and raising two boys” part of my life was the holidays. My mom died of a massive heart attack at the age of 46 just days before Christmas. So that in itself made the holiday just a little more bitter to swallow. I desperately missed the gathering of family to celebrate together. Now it was just my boys and me, or sometimes it was just me if it was the boys' turn to spend the holiday with their father.

The first Christmas I spent with my husband and his family was one I will never forget. Actually, virtually all of the holidays that we have spent with his family are ones that will go down in history. Have you ever seen the movie “National Lampoon's Family Christmas”? If you have, then perhaps you can relate when I say that his family is like the Griswolds. The Griswolds are the fictional family that star in the movie. They are an “average” family that are plagued with funny mishaps throughout the movie. Crazy things, that you wouldn't think could ever possibly happen to a “real” family, always seem to make their way into the Manville's holiday celebrations.

So begins the story of the first Manville Christmas for me. The location for this particular story was my in-law's house, more lovingly known to the family as “the cabin” which is nestled in the mountains of Colorado about 20 miles from the town of Walden. (Many of our best loved stories take place at the cabin.) Depending on the amount of snow received before Christmas, you can drive into the cabin, but more often than not, you have to snowmobile in the last few miles.

The cast of characters include the following: Danny's mom, Penny (Danny's father had stayed in Nevada for this holiday because of his work); Jim and Carla (Danny's sister) and their two boys; Danny, myself and our four boys; along with four dogs. So that's five adults, six boys, between the ages of 3 and 10, four dogs and a partridge in a pear tree. We all headed out from different locations to meet up in Walden to make our final pilgrimage into the cabin together. There had been a significant amount of snowfall so Danny was going to plow into the cabin and then come back to town to get the rest of us when he had the road open. Sounded like a good plan, but as with any Manville plan, that is not what happened. Danny actually got stuck before he even made it to the plow and was stranded for most of the day, trying to make his way back to town.

By the time Danny finally rolled back into town, thanks to his cousin, who had to go get him unstuck from a snowdrift in the road, it was too late to try to make it to the cabin that day so we ALL spent the night at Danny's cousin's house with plans to try again the next day. Did I mention that it was a single-wide trailer house which was now bursting at the seams with seven adults, eight children, four dogs, two cats and a partridge in a pear tree? The following day, Danny and his two cousins (twins Harry and Huey) went back out to try to plow in again with no avail. They returned back to town late in the afternoon and had decided that we would have to snowmobile into the cabin from five or so miles out. So into the storyline comes Plan B.

Close your eyes and picture this... five snowmobiles breaking trail, with each snowmobile operator thinking his route was the best route, therefore everyone going off into a different direction with any glimpse of daylight fading as fast as the snow was falling and the temperature dropping just as fast. Keep your eyes closed and picture some more of the story... every snowmobile has at least two people on it, some had three passengers (as in two adults and one child), other snowmobiles had two adults and a dog or two on them. Picture all the luggage for these twelve people who were spending close to a week at the cabin, dozens of sacks full of the groceries that were bought to feed this hoard, all of the Christmas presents, all of the dogs' necessities and the partridge in the pear tree which was all crammed into two snowmobile sleds which were being pulled by two of the “extreme” snowmobile drivers. This scenario should bring forth the classic scene from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” when the Grinch has loaded down his sled with all of the presents from Who-ville and he is wildly sledding back to his place.

Let it be known that the Manvilles were determined to spend the holiday at their beloved cabin. The snowmobiles and their passengers along with all the packages including the groceries, presents, dogs, kids and the partridge in the pear tree eventually began arriving at the cabin with harrowing stories of taking a wrong turn at the bottom of the hill, crossing the river at a soft spot and almost falling through the ice, getting stuck in the willows, dogs falling off the sleds and the youngest child crying the whole entire snowmobile ride. (Please don't report this incident to the animal rights activists or the child protection services.) Everyone did arrive intact and unharmed.

This was so unlike my family's Christmas. We usually just got in the car and drove the short distance from Mitchell to just outside of Lingle along Highway 26 to my grandparent's farm. No “over the river or through the woods” for us, just a paved highway and a straight shot west for about 40 miles or so.

Well, everyone arrived, but not everything... where was the Christmas turkey? After unpacking the sleds, the turkey was missing. So two snowmobiles went back out to retrace the snowmobile tracks and see if the turkey could be found. After an hour or so, the turkey was triumphantly located in a snowbank and brought back to the confines of the cabin. Now the only thing that we were missing was the Christmas tree. I was thinking... “Are you kidding me? Do we really have to get a Christmas tree this late, it's close to midnight!” The Manvilles assured me it just would not be Christmas without the tree and we could get one close to the cabin and it would be “no big deal.” Besides, we could put the kiddies to bed, go get the tree, decorate it and the kiddies would be so surprised in the morning!

Once again, so unlike the Christmases we had at my grandparents' house. The tree was ALWAYS already there, trimmed perfectly with all the presents neatly displayed underneath.

So after the boys had been put to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, Jim, Carla, Danny and I took off on two snowmobiles armed with a flashlight and ax to cut down the tree. During the course of the adventure I dismounted the snowmobile which was parked on top of a willow tree and I sunk up to my armpits in the snow, we lost the flashlight (which, by the way, was found the next spring, and still worked), we managed to get our snowmobiles stuck a couple of times and the tree was lost once as well. We had the tree tied to the snowmobile and were pulling it back to the cabin. When we were almost to the cabin I turned around to look back at the tree and it wasn't there! After backtracking, we found the tree just yards from where we had cut it down. Obviously the tree had come untied shortly after we had supposedly “secured it” to the snowmobile.

After about a hour, with the Christmas tree in tow, frozen and worn out, we made it back to the cabin. Penny had made hot chocolate for us and we put the tree up with all the decorations. The gifts were neatly tucked under the tree and the stockings were hung. If we were lucky, we would receive a couple of hours of sleep before the boys awoke with tons of excitement in anticipation of the day.

You can read more about this particular Christmas and other Manville Family Holidays in the coming days. I will be posting more stories about adventures I've had with my beloved in-laws. I wouldn't trade these memories for anything and truly cherish my husband's family. I'm blessed to be a part of their crazy, wonderful lives!


I looked all over for some pictures to post concerning this particular Christmas, but could not find too many. This was before the age of my digital camera, so I had to scan a few pictures to post.


Here is Dan the Man's dog Coalie (since passed) standing near the back door of the cabin. See the snow is up to the window!

Here is one of the kids by the shop. Snow is drifted so high you can not see the walk door that is just to the left of the overhead door. Notice the sled behind the snowmobile.


Carla, Kathi and Penny

It would appear by the look on my face that I was thinking...

"What have I gotten myself into?"


I can't wait to share more stories of this crazy, fun loving family with you and their humorous adventures.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ahhh, Hello Camera...



Today I finally got to spend a little time with my camera...

Ahhh how I've missed taking walks and killing time with you camera. It seems as if it has been such a long time since we have spent any leisurely time together. Let's go see what the chickens are up to, shall we?



Why Hello Mrs. Buff Orpington



Howdy-do Mrs. Barred Rock



Greetings to you Mrs. Gold Star



Gertrude: "Do you see what I see Ester?
Look who is coming this way..."


Ester: "She always gets in the pictures.
She must think she is some beauty..."




Country Chicken Girl: "Millie, I was taking pictures of the chickens, not cats."




Ester: "I swear, that flea bag cat is always trying to steal the show!"



Gertrude: "Oh don't I know it! She thinks she is a calendar cat."



Millie: "I think those two chickens are talking about me.
They are just jealous because I never take a bad picture."











The End.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Favorite Heifer is Open...



The other day on Facebook I posted this in my status:

My favorite heifer came up open... what to do, what to do... :(


After I posted it, I realized from the responses that not everyone knows what that means. In came the responses...

Michelle: It is obvious I'm not a rancher because I have no idea what this means either....and I probably don't wanna!! ; )

Anji: I don't get it...

Michelle: good, that means I'm not the only one ; )

Anji: lol

Dave: You know what to do. Paint an O on her hip and put her in the shipping pen....

Nancy: Sale barn my dad would say. :(

Mick: what you had no clean up bull, time to sale

Lance: Sell her...

Lori: we have the one strike and your out program, no matter what. Cattle work for you..if she doesn't raise a calf, you work for her

Kim: What does that mean? Someone please enlighten me.

Anji: still don't get it...

Sarah: For those that don't know what "open" means: If a cow is open it means she isn't pregnant. Most producers sell any open cows (or goats) because they haven't contributed to the herd and will just eat for a whole year before they have another chance at pregnancy. It is hard when the cow (or doe) is a favorite, we want to keep them for sentimental reasons. :(

Anji: Thanks. How depressing.




So let me break this down for you non-cattle (or non-livestock) people.

The weather was gorgeous on Monday so Dan the Man called the vet hoping he could get them to come out here on Tuesday to preg check the heifers.

preg check: short for pregnancy check
heifer: a young cow before she has had her first calf.

Of course they, the vets, were busy and could not come until Wednesday morning.

Wednesday morning came and so did the vet along with the cold, wet rain and snow. Mind you, not the small pretty flakes that glisten in the sun, but the big, fat "wet as cow snot" flakes that stick to your glasses and somehow manage to find their way past your glasses and straight into your eye. Yes, that kind of snow, naturally since we had to work outside...

So we gathered up all the heifers and moved them through the alley, into the tub and through the chute. Then one-by-one the vet enters through the palpation cage and examines the cow while she (the cow not the vet) is secure in the headcatch.

Alley, tub, chute, palpation cage: names for various sections of the corral that the cattle are moved through when you are working with them. "Working" as in doctoring, sorting, loading, etc. not "sealing the deal" or making business arrangements with!

No Michelle, this is not the part where the cow pees on a stick...

Before the vet starts she dons a pair of very fashionable rubber gloves that go clear to her shoulder and have elastic to keep them firmly in place. She (the vet and the cow) certainly don't want the gloves to come off during the examination. Okay, this is going to get a little messy so you can either stop reading or continue, but don't say I didn't warn you. Cattle business is a messy business. I have learned it is not for the faint of heart or for lily-livered folks. And it is especially not for people with weak-stomachs! Namby-pambies or cream puffs need not apply!

Okay, so the vet gingerly positions herself behind the cow and gently inserts her arm, yes, I said arm, not just hand, into the cows birth canal and it's a looooong way to the uterus. Did I say this was a messy job? The vet has to literally clean out the birth canal which is usually full of what ever the cow has been eating... uh, need I say more? So out comes hands full of stuff which has to be cleared before the hand can go any further. I hope you didn't just get done eating...

Well, I'm not a vet so I can't tell you exactly what they feel when they are feeling around in there, but with their training, they can tell if the cow is pregnant of not. They often can even tell how far along the cow is.

So here comes my favorite little girl, #98. She is so gentle and sweet, you just want to give her a big old hug and a kiss on the cheek! For those of you who are familiar with our cattle, she is Black Hawk's 2009 calf. Charlie is her father and she is a 3/4 blood Lowline. Since we sold Black Hawk in April (she is now in Kansas City, MO) I was hoping to keep little #98 as a replacement for Black Hawk. She has the same sweet disposition as her mama. The vet checks her and announces that she is "open" meaning not breed, not pregnant, not with child...

My heart drops... Oh no... really? are you sure? Can you do it again? Spend a little more time, maybe she's not very far along...

An open cow in the herd is of no use. If they are not producing a calf for you, then they are just costing you money. Cattlemen provide room and board for the cows in exchange for the cow's calves. There are no free rides here. We usually have the "one strike and you are out" program here just like Lori mentioned on Facebook. If the cow does not get bred then she is sold. Usually if they have problems breeding, they will always have problems. If you keep them in hopes that they will get bred next year, you have to feed them throughout the whole winter and then there is the chance that they will still not get bred.

So when Dave said, "You know what to do. Paint an O on her hip and put her in the shipping pen...." he meant paint an "o" for "open" on her hip and sell her.

When Mick said, "what you had no clean up bull, time to sale" was asking if we had a clean-up bull. A clean-up bull refers to a bull that is turned out to breed the cows that didn't conceive through Artificial Insemination. Since we don't use A.I., we don't use a clean-up bull, but we keep our bulls in with the cows until they start calving.

So now Dan the Man needs to decide what to do with little #98. Our options are to keep her for another year and see if she gets bred next year (which gets my vote but isn't the smartest choice especially since the vet said she couldn't even really feel her ovaries) or we can sell her as an open heifer or we can keep her, feed her out and butcher her. :(

Good thing I don't make these decisions. I know Dan the Man will probably keep her and have her butchered, that makes the most business sense for our operation, but none-the-less I am sure that I will be a crybaby when the time comes for her to go to the processing plant. I haven't yet not teared-up at the processors when we have left a cow... but don't tell Dan the Man, I try to hide it that I am such a tenderhearted softy who cries during every Hallmark commercial! Where's the tissues? Now I need one...

Lil' Miss #98 in April 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

RECIPE: Dan the Man's Vegetable Beef Soup Italiano





BREAKING NEWS FROM THE
Open A Bar 2 Ranch
Lyman, Nebraska

December 7, 2010

Dan the Man makes dinner!


...and it wasn't even Tuna Wiggle, Frozen Pizza
or Heated Refried Beans from a can on Flour Tortillas!


Dan the Man "WOWS" the Country Chicken Girl by actually making dinner on Tuesday night. He made Vegetable Beef Soup Italiano from a recipe he found on-line @ Cooks.com.

Dan the Man said he was tired of his Country Chicken Girl never fixing anything with the meaty beef shanks that they had accumulating in their freezer. His momma fixes them and makes some mighty fine vittles with them. He was out to show his little Country Chicken Girl that the beef shanks were quite tasty and worth her time to start incorporating into their daily meals.

Dan the Man's Vegetable Beef Soup Italiano
(actually maybe it should be called Goulash, not Soup...)

VEGETABLE BEEF SOUP ITALIANO

Read more about it at www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1618,150164-244192,00.html
Content Copyright © 2010 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
1/2 lb. beef cubes
1 (16 oz.) can tomatoes
1 (16 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
1 med. size onion, diced
Carrots, diced
Celery, diced
Potatoes, diced
Turnip, diced
Cabbage, diced
Salt and pepper, pinch
Pinch parsley and thyme
Pinch pot herb
Olive oil
Small egg noodles (pastine)
1 soup bone

In a large soup pot on medium heat, put in 2 tablespoons olive oil (diced beef cubes and saute along with soup bone. Next fill pot about 1/3 or more with water and add all diced vegetables and simmer for 1/2 hour. A film will appear on the surface. Remove film and add stewed tomatoes and whole tomatoes. Add parsley, salt, pepper, thyme, pot herb. Raise heat to medium and cook 1 1/2 hours. Reduce heat. Add egg noodles (Pastine) and 1 package mixed vegetables. Cook 1 hour longer (total cooking time 3 hours). Makes 12 to 15 servings (Thatsa Niza Soupa!)


Dan the Man made a few changes which included not using any turnip and using thick homemade style egg pasta instead of the small egg noodles (pastine).
How was a rugged ranch man suppose to know that pastine pasta referred to tiny soup pasta? Country Chicken Girl didn't even know that until she wrote this post and googled "pastine." Here is what she found on pastine pasta.
What is Pastine Pasta?
I imagine the soup would have been more "brothy" if the correct noodle would have been used, but everyone agreed it was still delicious.



What was left after Dan the Man, the Country Chicken Girl and Sky-man
filled their tummies!



Here is the link if you would like to print the recipe: Vegetable Beef Soup Italiano



And now a word from our sponsor the
OPEN A BAR 2 RANCH
Wouldn't you like to surprise and amaze your family too with this down home, yummy in your tummy recipe?

Well, you can!


OPEN A BAR 2 RANCH
will be selling these unbelievable meaty beef shanks at the
Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market
or you can call them direct
and come pick some up right at the ranch.
Dan the Man and the Country Chicken Girl always have their door open.
Fix your little buck-a-roos some hearty soup tonight!


Here is a picture of Dan the Man when he won
the 2004 Bobby Crocker Cookoff!!



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If I Water It, Will It Grow?






Just wondering...






If I water it, will it grow?





Monday, December 6, 2010

Coats for Kids/Truck Full of Love Coat Drive Update



I just wanted you all to know the outcome of the coat drive that we held at the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market on December 4th.

First and foremost, THANK YOU to all of you who generously gave donations! I am so excited to see such generosity being shared this Christmas season.

We collected a total of 114 coats!! We had a total of 78 adult coats, 26 children coats and 10 BRAND NEW coats.

We also raised a total of $76.30.

And the winner of the gift basket compiled of various goodies from participating vendors was Sam Castillo of Mitchell! Congratulations Sam, and thank you so much for your donation.

Here is a picture of all the coats that were collected.


If you missed out on the coat drive that we had at the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market on December 4th, don't fret...

You can still take your donations to First State Bank on December 11th. They are accepting NEW or Gently Used coats. If you are donating a NEW coat, you can take them in anytime this week, but if you are donating gently used coats, please take them to the bank on December 11th. Also if you are donating a gently used coat, please make sure they are clean, all the zippers work and don't forget to clean out the pockets! No one wants your old Kleenex! ;)

Thanks again!!

~ The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving. ~
Albert Einstein

~ To give without any reward, or any notice, has a special quality of its own. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

~ For it is in giving that we receive. ~ St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, December 5, 2010

ARE PEOPLE REALLY READING THIS STUFF?



Has anyone noticed at the very bottom of my blog the little counter I put there? I was curious to know if anyone besides my sister and mother-in-law were reading my blog.

My very first post was October 6, 2009. So that means I've been spewing random thoughts to the computer for over a year now and I guess people are reading them...

I looked at the counter the other day in anticipation of reaching 10,000! Seemed crazy that I had that many hits. I looked one morning when I knew I was getting close and this is what I saw!



WOW! I had to run and tell Dan the Man! I don't think he was all that impressed. He just grunted something like "yep."

Thank you if you are one of the people who read my blog. It is extremely fun for me to do and I appreciated you being a part of it!

Friday, December 3, 2010

RECIPE: Mesquite Steak over Pasta



Who remembers the "Decluttering the Pantry" posts from the beginning of this year? If you missed it, don't worry, you didn't miss much, unless you like to see what people have in their pantries. You know some people are like that, they enjoy looking at other people's stuff. I know this for a fact because I happen to be one of those people. I love seeing other people's organizational skills and ideas. I also have a very good friend of mine who loves to see other people's stuff! I won't mention any names, but I can remember on numerous occasions when I have been with this person, she has opened closet doors in other people's house just to see what was in there! Hee, hee. Is that wrong? Please forgive her and me for being snoopy. Inquiring minds just want to know!

Anyway, the only reason I brought this whole thing up was because of something that I have had in my pantry since last summer, as in July of 2009! Here is the post to prove it.

Decluttering the Pantry, Day Three

When you look at it scroll down to the part where you see this:



There's that pasta that I bought at a Farmer's Market in Ft. Collins over a year ago! I explained in my post that these were impulse buys that I thought sounded delicious at the time but haven't figured out what to do with yet.

Well guess what? You'll be so proud of me! I finally used the Black Bean Veracruz Fettuccine! Can you believe it? Who says fresh pasta doesn't last forever! LOL I have also cooked the Four Peppercorn Linguine, used that about a month ago with a chicken dish. It was yummy, but that's not what I'm writing about. I still have to use the Sweet Potato Orzo yet, but that will be some day later. BTW Andrea, if you are reading this lil' Miss Fork Fingers Chopsticks, do you have any wise words of wisdom about Orzo??? And Andrea, have you ever tried any of Pappardelle's Pasta? It is simply divine!

Anyway...

Here's the recipe I made up.


Open A Bar 2 Ranch Mesquite Steak over Pasta


Open A Bar 2 Ranch Mesquite Steak over Pasta

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lbs. "Open A Bar 2 Ranch" Mesquite Marinated Round Steak (I'll talk about substitutions for the steak at the end of the recipe since I know not all of you are able to purchase some of our most delightful all-natural beef.)
  • medium size onion, sliced and quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 16 oz. Pappardelle's Black Bean Veracruz Fettuccine (although plain fettuccine will do.)
  • 2 teaspoons (or more if you like) cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Ground Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
Directions
  1. Pour two tablespoons or so of olive oil into a large dutch oven over medium/high heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, brown the steak on both sides until desired doneness. I recommend medium rare. Remove steak to a cutting board and allow to rest.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the dutch oven and saute the onions and garlic in the butter until the onions begin to soften slightly.
  4. Add the white wine to the pan with the onions and deglaze the brown bits left from the steak.
  5. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes and let the wine reduce a bit, say 10 minutes or so.
  6. Start the pasta in a separate pot while the wine is reducing.
  7. After the wine has reduced add the cream, cumin, paprika, ground pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Let this cook until thoroughly heated and then simmer to thicken a bit while the pasta is cooking.
  8. If you want a thicker sauce, combine 1 teaspoon corn starch with 2 tablespoons of white wine in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Remove the pan from the heat before adding this thickener, stir it in, then put it back on the heat.
  9. Cut the steak into thin strips.
  10. Drain the pasta.
  11. To serve, place the pasta on the plate, top the pasta with several strips of steak and pour the sauce over it all.


Oh la, la! This is so good!! The picture does not do this dish justice.



Okay, now for those of you who don't have access to our delicious all-natural beef... First of all, let me say how terribly sorry I am that you aren't able to get it. For those of you who live locally and would like to try this recipe, we will have the marinated mesquite round steak for sale at the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Markets while supplies last. Let me know if you need the dates and location for the Winter Markets.

But back to those of you who aren't able to get your hands on some of the marinated mesquite round steak... You could use almost any steak for this, say sirloin, ribeye, new york strip, tenderloin... You can pan-fry the steak as I did in the recipe or you can grill it. Also if I were making this with something other than our marinated mesquite steak, I think I would try to find some mesquite flavored rub or marinade and use that on the steak before I cooked it.

ENJOY!

Coats for Kids/Truck Full of Love Coat Drive


Please take time to donate any of your extra coats to this cause!
Both children and adult size coats are needed.


I spent a good part of yesterday sorting through our family's coats deciding which coats we could donate to the coat drive. At first I approached the project with the attitude of "Oh good, I can finally find some place to unload all these coats that the boys don't wear anymore." But as the day wore on... my attitude changed.

I first started going through the hall closet which houses mostly Dan the Man's coats and mine. I wanted to make sure that each coat was clean and all the zippers and snaps were in working order. Who wants to receive a coat that won't even zip? What good is a coat that won't zip in Western Nebraska where the wind blows a gazillion miles an hour? I already had a few in mind to donate out of that closet so I gathered them up and threw them in the washing machine. After the washing machine, the dryer. After the dryer came the inspection... if all zippers worked, there were no holes, snaps snapped, and so forth... they would be the lucky ones to move on to an owner who would actually wear them on a regular basis.

I also based my decisions on weather I "personally" would actually wear the coat or not. Was it too hideous that no one would be caught dead in it, was it too outdated? Did it look like a coat my grandmother would have worn in the 40's. I was thinking surely no teenager one would want to wear a coat that was outdated and not cool. Let's face it, now I'm being brutally honest with my feelings and opinion, but if someone was unfortunate enough to be receiving a donated coat, I doubt that they would want one that was outdated and was obviously a donated coat. No teenager I know wants to draw unwanted attention to themselves... Let's face it, if you are trying your hardest to fit in with the group, you don't want to be sporting a coat from the 80's. We all know how most of society is... don't the less fortunate usually get treated differently than those who are most fortunate? Better not get me started... but hopefully you know what I mean. If you don't... then, well, I guess you just don't get it.

As I was working I started thinking about each coat. I hoped that who ever received the coat would actually like it and not have to wear it because that was the coat that they were given. I started thinking also, what if I only had one coat to wear. Which one would I choose? I actually chose one and set it aside. I was thinking that I would keep that one and I really didn't need any of the others. It is my favorite coat anyway and has a zip-out liner so it is good for all kinds of weather. Then I started taking all my coats out. Evaluating each one more closely. I'd ask myself, "Why aren't you wearing this one?" My answers were usually something like..."Well, that one is for dress clothes" or "I like to wear that one with jeans."

Several times I thought... "Even though I don't wear that one very often, it is way too nice to donate. I paid too much money for that one to donate it." Egads, I was thinking this about coats I hadn't worn once in the last few years, not since I quit my job in town and started working full time out here on the farm. Disgusted with these thoughts and actually ashamed I was so self-centered about mere possessions that I didn't even need, I started taking out ALL the coats. Even the ones I spent a lot of money on. SOMEONE could be wearing them, especially since I wasn't.

Why should I get to pick and choose between several coats as to what I was going to wear some particular day when others didn't even have a single coats to wear. Or perhaps the coats they had were "worn out" according to my standards and should have been tossed a long time ago. So into the donation pile went my leather coat that I hardly wear but paid a pretty penny for, a "like new" Woolrich coat, a nice down coat I had gotten Dan the Man for Christmas last year that he never wears because he doesn't like the fit and others.

Some of the coats I came across I thought, "Oh, I love this coat, I forgot all about it. I think I'll keep this one, I might wear it again now that I have uncovered it from the back of the closet!" Well, how did it get to the back of the closet? Any idiot could tell you it was there because YOU NEVER WEAR IT and if you haven't worn it in a year, you are NOT GOING TO MISS IT!

A few of the coats I debated back and forth on and finally placed them in the donated pile if I hadn't worn them in the last year. Period. No grabbing them back out of the pile. Face it Kathi, they are history!

Then came the kids coats. I went out into the shed and gathered up all the outgrown coats that I was going to sell on Ebay a couple of years ago. I figured that if I hadn't found the time to do it yet, I was never going to find the time to list them on Ebay. Some of these coats were like new. Uhhh, I think some were new. What a spoiled nation we are that some children, mine included, didn't have to wear a particular coat because they simply didn't like it. Or they had so many, that the coats that was not within grabbing distance were never chosen. And I can tell you that with the boys and men in this house, that if they can't see it in plain view, it doesn't exist! You literally have to rotate their clothes in their dressers or the same shirts that are on the top of the pile are worn over and over.

When I was finally done with all the coats, I was shocked. I had a stack of 20 perfectly good coats that no one was wearing... Made me sick to my stomach that we had in essence been hoarding these coats when they could have been donated long ago to someone who really needed one. Almost half of them were my coats.

I hope that I have made you think about your coat closet in a different way. Please consider donating your extra coats to someone who really needs them.

If you live locally and can't make it to the coat drive this Saturday at the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market, you can still donate your coats next Saturday, December 11th @ First State Bank. Click on the link below for more information.

First State Bank GIFT OF LOVE



The bible tells us countless times that we should give. Here are just a few verses that encourage us.


"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

"Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'" Matthew 19:21

"But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind." Luke 14:13

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18

"Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here's a good seat for you,' but say to the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor by my feet,' have you not discriminated among yourselves and becomes judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?" James 2:2-6

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

"Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need." 1 Timothy 5:3

Monday, November 22, 2010

Noteworthy Eggs

I know I have blogged about eggs before, but they just continue to fascinate me.
The other day I got these two noteworthy eggs out of the coop.
One TINY egg and one egg that looks like the hen was decorating it for Easter.

First here is a picture of the itty bitty sweetie-pie egg along side a normal sized egg.

Isn't that cute?


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Now here is the Easter egg, notice the striations of color and the subtle speckles?



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And here are a few pictures I was just having fun with.



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Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Shave Less Often" shhhh. It's a Secret thing!



Okay people, could someone please tell me why there is a little sticker on my Secret antiperspirant that says "SHAVE LESS OFTEN"?



This has been confounding me for quite some time and today I decided that I can no longer contemplate this matter another second. I have more important things to do!

Inquiring minds want to know, and I have an inquiring mind!

So, like most people I know, I called the 1-800 number on the back of the antiperspirant. Actually, I don't know of any one who calls those 1-800 numbers. Am I the only one?

Actually, this was my first time calling any 1-800 for Questions!



As I dialed, I was trying to think of what I was going to ask...

I thought about hanging up...

I was thinking...

This is crazy...

Why am I calling this number...

What am I going to say?....

Ummm, I was just uh, wondering... what does that sticker mean?
The sticker that says "Shave less often."
How is that suppose to work?




Could I even ask without getting the giggles?

Good thing Dan the Man was outside or he'd be telling me I was stupid for calling
and I should knock off the nonsense!

Anyway, I dialed the phone...

Ring, ring ....

Ring, ring ....

An automated voice comes on the line: "Secret, strong like a woman!"
then the automated sexy lady voice said something like this...
"Please press 1 to receive coupons and special offers for Secret.
Press 2 to find out where to buy our products.
Press 3 for information on how to remove underarm stains on a shirt."

I kept waiting for "Or stay on the line to talk with a customer representative" but that option never came, only "I'm sorry I did not receive any input, please try again"
when I didn't chose any of the options.

Bummer, I thought, now I can't even ask my question that I had mustered the courage to ask!

So I did the next logical thing, I went to Secret.com.

I clicked on "Secret smooth effects" and read the whole page.



Here are some of the claims.

The protection you want and the smooth underarms you love with a bonus - You'll shave less often. With continued use, it's been clinically tested to:
  • Reduce visual appearance of hair
  • Condition underarm for smooth skin
  • Make hair look and feel finer
Secret Smooth Effects antiperspirant/deodorant has been proven to let you shave less often. That’s because Secret Smooth Effects was specially designed with a unique blend of moisturizers that comfort and soothe your skin. This formula conditions the underarm area for touchably smooth skin, reduces irritation caused by shaving, reduces the visual appearance of hair, and makes underarm hair look and feel softer and finer. The conditioning benefits of Smooth Effects allow a smooth shave.

Okay then... whatever!

I did read all of the reviews that people who used this product said. Not too many people agreed that they were able to shave less often, but plenty of people complained about the way the product dispensed. It's really hard to turn the little dial and get the antiperspirant to come out. One lady made me laugh when she said "How are you supposed to turn this darn thing? Any suggestions? I use a needle nose pliers! Not my way to start a day."

Amen sister! You tell them!


PS Has anyone out there ever called any 1-800 QUESTIONS phone number?

And that is all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Circe and Uncle Dexter





Circe

My Uncle has a dog named Circe.

Pronounced Sir-See.

She was named after a Greek goddess but I am not much into Greek mythology so I can't tell you much about her, the goddess that is. I can tell you plenty about Circe!

I can not say Circe correctly unless I think for a really hard time and picture the two words "sir" and "see".

I always want to say Sir-She. When I try to say Circe, I sound like I have a lisp.

I think that I am most inclined to pronounce it sir-she because it rhymes with HERSHEY, which flows off my tongue like sweet honey dripping off the drizzle stick. She is a CHOCOLATE lab!

Uncle Dexter, Aunt Kitty & Circe

Uncle Dexter is my dad's brother. He and Aunt Kitty came to visit for a few days the first weekend in November. We hadn't seen each other in years and it was so great to see them.

Uncle Dexter brought his 7 month old puppy, Circe, so they (Dexter & Circe) could go pheasant hunting.

They are quite the pair, Dexter and Circe. A boy and his dog.




Circe is so spoiled and so sweet and so well behaved for a 7 month old puppy.

Dexter and Circe woke up at the crack of dawn each morning ready to go hunting. I don't know who was more excited to go, Dexter or Circe?

They hunted and hunted...

walked miles and miles...

drove clear to Sidney because Dexter got a tip from the game warden that Sidney has lots of pheasants this year...

got stuck in a mud sink hole clear up to their midsections... took Dexter 30 minutes to get out... he wrenched his knee... and when they returned, Dan the Man had to take Dexter clean clothes out to the garage where Dexter took off his mud encrusted clothes. Dexter then had to rinse his clothes and Circe off with a hose. (Aunt Kitty and I were shopping during this whole episode.)

After three days of pheasant hunting did they get any pheasants? Unfortunately, no.

Did they have a good time? Most definitely, yes!



One night we all went to dinner along with my sister and brother-in-law. Skyler was left home alone to babysit Circe. When we returned we asked Skyler how it went and he said Circe cried for Dexter most of the time and chewed up one pair of his socks!


Trouble? Who? Me?

The cats are very happy that Circe has gone back home to Arizona. Circe would chase them as soon as she spotted one of them. The cats were not safe while "trouble" was here!

Circe striking a pose on the couch

Now, I need your help. I would like to give my uncle a framed picture of Circe for Christmas but can't decide which one I like best. Could you please let me know which one you like by casting your vote for one of the following three photos? Just leave a comment and vote for either #1, #2 or #3. Thanks!

You can click on the photos for a full screen view of each photo. Just hit your browser's back button to return to the blog.


PS Don't tell Uncle Dexter, it's suppose to be a surprise!

PSS If you are reading this Uncle Dexter, then make sure you cast your vote!!


Photo #1

Photo #2

Photo #3



Thanks for voting!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market = Success!!




I am so excited to tell you about the first ever Scottsbluff Winter Farmer Market. Can I just say that a good time was had by all??

Our first non-profit organization of the season was CAPWN.

Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska
is a Community Action Partnership and member of a national network of over 1,000 community action agencies across America. CAPWN is a non-profit community based health and human services organization that serves low-income, disadvantaged, and those unable to meet their needs through other sources. Check out their website for more information.

The Winter Market held a food drive for CAPWN's food pantry and collected several non-perishable food items along with $136.60 in cash donations! Everyone who donated food to the food drive or gave $1 got their name entered into a drawing for a gift basket compiled of goodies from all the vendors. I think the gift basket was valued around $200. Wow! Elaine Hays of Scottsbluff was the lucky winner! She was ecstatic that she won. It was so much fun delivering the basket to her. She said she had never won anything before in her life.

A BIG thank you goes out to Christina Armstrong of Beeloved Jam who helped with the raffle table along with several students from Morrill High School who volunteered their time to help with the market. Those who gave of their Saturday afternoon were Carlie Sinks, Skyler Manville, Marcus Vacock, Alexis Reynoso, Athena Tarin and Megan Fish. They helped at the raffle table and also helped the vendors carry stuff in to the market and then back out when it was closing time. Many hands make light work! Alexis and Carlie did face painting for a free will donation and all proceeds went to the CAPWN Food Drive. Thanks guys, you did a fantastic job!

Christina Armstrong (Beeloved Jam) and
Skyler Manville (Morrill High School National Honor Society)
manning the raffle booth.
There is the gift basket Elaine won!



Alexius Reynoso painting Tessa Brunner's Face


Alexius, you work just like Dan the Man, with your tongue out!
Dan the Man does that all the time and so does his sisters.
Must be a family trait or something.
Does anyone else in your family do that Alexius?
Maybe I should do a study on that...




Cutie~pie Tessa Brunner showing her true colors. GO BIG RED!
Megan Fish in the background helping with the raffle table.


Marcus Vacock (Morrill High School) sporting a bullet hole painted
by one of the girls doing the face painting.
These kids got bored at times do to the small number of children who
actually came to the market.



Laura's Herbal Apothecary
Can I say that I simply adore the Peppermint Hand Lotion!
mmmmm, smells so fresh and light!



Another sale at the Victory Hill Farm booth!


Bob and Judy Sharp selling Bob's hot rub!
Which by the way, makes a most excellent stocking stuffer
for anyone who likes spicy foods!


Heidi Robertus selling some of her delicious baked goods.
There is one of her signature pumpkin roll cakes in the front.


Sue Maxey and her co-worker at the
Diabetes Care Center @ RWPC information booth.
Did you know that November is Diabetes Awareness Month?


Tina Meier and a couple of boys from the Bluffs Middle School 8th Grade Class
They were having a bake sale to raise money for their class trip to Washington D.C.
(Sorry I didn't get your name boys!)



A Big THANK YOU to everyone who helped support their bake sale.
I think they sold everything except for a couple half dozen cookies!



Nathaniel McGowan manning Ernie Griffiths' booth.
Ernie is the honey guy!



Vicki Brunner of Vic's Festive Expressions and her kid-os!
Check out Vicki's personalized gifts.
I'm thinkin' very unique Christmas presents!



Various personalized candy bars Vicki makes.
Anyone getting married? Look at the wedding one! Ooo la, la!


Adorable Christmas baskets from Vicki.


More from Vicki, what a GREAT idea!


Melanie West from MWest Designs.
Melaine makes beautiful high quality rag rugs...

... and unique tin art.
Love these crosses with antique button embellishments!



Connie and Carolyn Driver of Blue Heeler Glass.
You have got to check out Carolyn's uniquely handmade glass beads.
They are beautiful. I've never seen any like them before.
Connie was also selling some of her art work. This girl is overflowing with talent. She is such a delightful young lady. I truly adore her!


Here's Dan the CSA Man of the Mitchell Valley Farm.
Dan had some great produce!


Beth Everett, who also had some great produce.
Have you tried her squash? It's soooo good!
And be sure to pick up one of her free seed catalogs!


Jane Sedman of Mamma Jane's Artisan Breads
Jane's breads are FANTASTIC!
She sold out as usual! Better get to her booth fast if you want some!


Mary & Mike Armstrong of Creative Bubbles

That's my Aunt Kitty talking with Mary.
My Aunt Kitty and Uncle Dexter came to visit for the weekend
and Aunt Kitty, bless her little pea pickin' heart, helped
Dan the Man and me with the farmers market.
AND... Aunt Kitty bought something from every single vendor.
She is quite the shopper.
Dan the Man said we went home with more stuff than we can with, hee, hee!


Some of Mary's adorable Christmas baskets!


And last but certainly not least,
The Green Valley Homesteaders


Bill Snocker


Wynne Buehler


John Jessup


Okay people... if you enjoyed their music,
please let them know by leaving them a tip.
The Green Valley Homesteaders are playing at the Winter Market
solely for tips!
Thanks guys, you are great!


Here is what Kim Grams had to say about the
Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market on Facebook!

"The first one was fantastic. I can't wait for Saturday. BTW, I LOVED the music you had ... nice and festive (but not so obtrusive that I couldn't think or ask questions of vendors)."

Kim Also posted:

"The ScottsbluffWinter FarmersMarket was AWESOME!! I got cheese and meat and herbal stuff for our immune systems. Plus info on some personalized chocolates to order for upcoming events. Yay!"


And Jennifer Reisig, bless her heart posted this:

"I was so excited about the ScottsbluffWinter FarmersMarket, I showed up 2.5 hours early, thinking I was late & had probably missed all the good stuff. It's not until 1-4pm today at the Hampton Inn. A farmers market in the afternoon...now I'm even more excited!"



Next market is November 27th, 1-4pm Hampton Inn Conference Center.
Christina Armstrong has been busy setting up a toy drive for Toys for Tots. Bring a new unwrapped toy or cash donation for the toy drive and your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift basket full of goodies from the vendors.




Hope to see you all there!