Saturday, February 18, 2017

Cleaning and Freshening Beds with Essential Oils

Today is a beautiful day - 53 degrees. I don't remember it ever being this warm during February.

With the warm temperature, light breeze, and sunshine, it seemed like a perfect day to get some spring cleaning done.

One of the things I've been wanting to do is clean and fresh the mattresses. In June, we got three new mattresses to replace ones that were old and ready to be upgraded.

Each of the mattresses has a mattress pad and protector. Not only does this help keep the mattresses stay in good condition, I'm hoping that it is a way to keep the dust mites at bay.

According to a pin that led to One Good Thing by Jillee, "An average mattress contains 10,000 to 10,000,000 dust mites...[so] cleaning your mattress regularly is a very good idea!"

She said, "Dust mites live in pillows, bed covers, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpeting, [and] even clothing. One of their favorite places is a mattress. Vacuuming your mattresses every few weeks will help to control the dust mite population."

All that is needed to freshen one's mattress:
baking soda and essential oils.

There were instructions for making your own mattress-cleaning concoction. Basically, you want to put one cup of baking soda in a mason jar and add 4-5 drops of essential oil. Mix it - either by shaking or stirring it.

Each cup of baking soda had a different essential oil or blend.
For the twin beds, using one cup was sufficient. For the king bed, I used two cups of the mixture. The number of drops ranged between 5-8 depending on how quickly the essential oil came out of the container.

Lavender and Cedar Mint were used on mattresses.
I ended up using Panaway (a blend) on the family room carpet).

For the girls' beds, they wanted Cedar Mint - a blend that we purchased at the co-op that we all like.
One cup was needed per twin bed.

For my bed, I did a combination of Lavender (from the head to middle of the bed) and my own version of Young Living's Thieves blend (from the middle to foot of the bed).

Two cups were needed for a king bed.

While that was sitting on the mattress pad/mattress, all the bedding went into the washing machine. Well, actually, it was multiple loads of laundry since the colors go in different washes and the quantity was too large for one load of wash.

It's suggested that you leave the mixture on for an hour or more which will allow it time to draw out dirt, moisture, and odor. I think we left it on for about a half hour or so. With four dogs and three cats, having that much time that they aren't in the bedrooms or wanting to get in them, is a luxury. We were happy to have the mixture on as long as we did.

Hard to see, but the baking soda with essential oil is
sitting on the mattress cover.
The underside has a protective layer to prevent
any liquid from getting on the mattress.
So, I thought it would be most important to
clean the cover rather than the mattress itself.
However, next time I may do the mattress.

I used the upholstery attachment of the vacuum to thoroughly vacuum the mattresses. It takes a while because the baking soda is so fine. Also ended up vacuuming around the bed and on the built-in nightstand/headboard next to the king bed. The baking soda seemed to get all over the surfaces of these pieces.

What I liked about doing this is that the baking soda mixed with the essential oils not only draws out the dirt and moisture, but it also leaves the mattresses smelling so clean. It's uplifting and relaxing to have a favorite essential oil blend or scent permeate the bedroom and mattress.

I wish I would have done this sooner. Everything smells so nice. I'll have to mark my calendar to do this again in a few weeks.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cats We've Had and Currently Have

Throughout the years, we've had quite a few cats - both domestic and feral - that have lived in our apartments, homes, and farm.

My first couple of experiences with cats didn't go so well.

I had my first cat shortly after I graduated from college and was living with my parents. My parents weren't huge fans of cats, so the cat had to stay in my room. It wasn't a good situation to be confined like that, so I made the difficult decision of relinquishing it to the humane society.

When I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina, we adopted a cat from the humane society. We had it briefly because one day it escaped when we opened the French doors. It was shortly after Hurricane Hugo went through town, so things had been loud and chaotic in the night. Living on the first floor next to the woods, the cat made a beeline for the wilderness.

After searching for a long time, I gave up. The cat did not want to be found.

Back at the apartment, the cat had left us an annoying gift. Unbeknownst to us, it came to us with fleas. In a short period of time, it had infested the apartment with fleas and we had to have it treated.

We took a break from cats until there was a kitten who was needing a home. Someone at Spirit Square Center for the Arts, where I worked, had a litter of kittens she needed to find homes for quickly. Boo, who we adopted, was wonderful. She was with us from 1990 until 2005. Over 15 years.

When we moved to the farm, there was a cat who wandered onto our driveway one winter. One of her ears was frostbitten and had fallen off. She was eager to come into our home and stay warm. We named her Windchill.

She and Boo got along well until we left for a trip and had them stay with my brother. During that time, the dynamics between Boo and Windchill changed; and Windchill became aggressive towards Boo.

Thankfully, Irene and Dan were able to take Windchill and provide a loving home to her until she passed away from old age. She was probably 15 or so years old.

When we were at the farm, we've had some cats wander onto our property and take up residence. Sometimes they are just passing through. Other times, they stay for a while. None of them we've named.

In 2002, when Sophia was about two years old, she wanted desperately to play with Boo. Boo wasn't interested in toddlers. At around the same time, a local farmer had a sign that he had kittens for free. Stopped to talk with him. It was an unwanted litter and he was going to destroy them because he didn't want to deal with them going into the winter.

I couldn't imagine killing kittens, so I took the remaining three kittens home.

Meenie with Olivia in 2007.

Needless to say, Sophia was thrilled! We named them Eenie, Meenie, and Miney.

Meenie sitting on a sewing machine while I was quilting in 2008..
She liked watching what I was doing.

The triplets enjoyed playing with one another and liked being around Sophia. We had the triplets for many years. One year - and I can't remember when - Miney escaped out of the back door. He had done this before and returned. This time he didn't. I was devastated.

I missed having Miney sleep on a pillow in the bedroom near me. He was a great cat.

Eenie and Meenie are still here - now both 15 years old.
Eenie in front and Meenie in back.
Eenie is about twice the size as Meenie.
This is very rare that they will sit this close to each other.
(February 2017)

I like how a cat's expression can change. Normally, Eeenie has his eyes opened wide. Every once in a while, his eyes aren't as open and it completely changes the way he looks.
Eenie in February 2017.

Meenie sleeps a lot...or at least rests while quietly observing what's going on around her. When anyone is in bed, her favorite spot is to sleep on their chest - sometimes facing their feet and other times facing their face.

Meenie in February 2017.

Around 2005, Lucy and Maggie wandered onto our farm as kittens. We could not find the mother. For their own safety, we put them in the hobby shed so they wouldn't be wandering in the pasture where there are mink, fox, coyote, and aerial predators (e.g., hawks, eagles).

They were nervous at first to accept food from us. Lucy, though warmed up first. He was soft and fluffy, and enjoyed having the attention.

Maggie finally learned to trust us, but was skittish around most people except for her entire life.

Eenie, Lucy, Shadow, and Maggie.
(June 2011)

Maggie was with us until September 2015. She was ten years old. A couple of my favorite pictures of her are with a yellow rose and of one of her favorite places to be: on top of the cupboards. I would toss her mini-marshmallows which she'd catch with her front claws/paws and eat them with the claws in the marshmallow. No other cat has done this...which made it her special little trick.

Maggie in 2013.

 Lucy is still with us. He's about 12 years old now. His right eye is having some challenges and it is clouding over.

Two recent pictures of Lucy in February 2017.

He still can see, but I think his eyesight (or perhaps his legs) are making it difficult for him to jump up to get to his food. (We keep his food on the counter so the dogs don't eat it.)
The last cat to come our way was Shadow. He wandered onto our farm around 2006 and would spend the days relaxing on a fallen tree limb. He'd walk Olivia down the driveway to wait for the school bus to pick her up so she could go to special ed; and he'd join me to wait for her as she returned a few hours later.

That winter, there was a week when the temperatures were about 20 degrees below zero. Thankfully, we had been feeding him under one of the cars and he was trusting us at that point.

We brought him inside and had him stay in the bathroom since we didn't know if he had any diseases that could  be passed onto our other cats.

When the weather got a bit warmer and he was eager to go back outside, we let him out. We continued to feed him and he would spend time with us outdoors.

By the Fall, however, he would wait at the back door and want to come inside. At that point, he became an indoor cat.

He was very inquisitive.


Got along with the other cats.

Enjoyed being a part of our lives and observing what we were doing.

Shadow would be a constant companion to me every night. He's sitting on top of me in the photo below. I'm under the blue blanket.

On December 29, 2016, Shadow passed away. He had been struggling with hyperthyroidism which took a toll on his body. We were so fortunate to have him with us for about 11 years. He was probably about 13 or 14 years old when he died.

So, we have three cats still: Eenie, Meenie, and Lucy. All of them are wonderful cats, and I'm so thankful we've had them for so many years.

Linked up at the Cat Blogosphere.

Getting Rid of Congestion or Stuffy Nose Naturally

This morning I woke up with a stuffy nose. It's probably because of allergies and having two dogs and two cats sleeping on the bed with me each night. (The other two dogs and cat sleep in other rooms.)

At any rate, found a pin on Pinterest from quite a while ago. It led to Mind Energy and focused on how to get rid of a stuffy or runny nose without drugs.

According to Mind Energy, there are four points to massage which makes it easy to remember. You should lightly massage the four points noted below three times:

- Perform 10 pressures on a cavity at the corner of the nostrils (point 1). You should almost close and open the nostrils when you do the round movement. (See the photo below for the round movement and how the direction that you should move your fingers.)

- Perform 10 pressures on a cavity just below the corner of the eyes near the nose (point 2)

- Perform 10 pressures on a cavity just below the ear, behind the earlobe (point 3)

- Massage the earlobe 10 times (point 4)

After you put pressure on those four points, there should be an immediate relief of nasal congestion. Ideally, repeat the procedure above ten minutes later for longer-lasting results. Mind Energy notes that you shouldn't push the cartilage of the nose or ears.

I followed the procedure twice as recommended and was surprised at the results! I can breathe a lot better than I could when I woke up.

Sophia has severe allergies, and I'm going to share this technique with her since she sometimes has to use nasal spray as prescribed by her allergist. Hopefully this will help her as much as it did me this morning.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Celebrating Valentine's Day + Valentine's Day Recipes


Breakfast on the days when Sophia and Olivia have some classes at a homeschool co-op are a bit rushed. So, I wanted to make something that was easy for them to pick up and take with them; or to eat at home quickly before they left.

I had intended to make heart-shaped fruit on a skewer - pineapple, watermelon, and cantaloupe - after seeing a pin for it on Pinterest. The pin just led to an image, rather than a blog.

However, the smallest heart-shaped cookie cutter I had on hand was too big for the cantaloupe. So instead I cut heart shapes out of watermelon and pineapple; and did balls with the cantaloupe.

Also wanted to see if I could make bacon in a heart shape. Found a pin for it to see how it was shaped prior to baking it in the oven (which was recommended).

I used two slices of bacon for each heart - one for each side of heart.

The bacon hearts baked in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they were done.


I wanted Sophia and Olivia to have something special for their lunches at the homeschool co-op so I found this pin that led to Baked Perfection for Brown Sugar Blondies.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (instead of a tablespoon, I used a teaspoon)
1 cup to 1 1/3 cup M&M's (red, white, and pink)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar and mix well. Cool slightly. Add egg and vanilla. Blend well.

Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well. Mix in 2/3 cup M&M's.

Spread in 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Sprinkle 1/3 to 2/3 cup M&M's on top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

* Note: I made 1 1/2 batches of the dough since I didn't have a 9x9x2 inch pan. By doing this, I was able to use a 9x13 inch pan. The baking time was about 25 minutes or so. The bars are a bit dark because the center wasn't getting done. They taste great, though!


For dinner, I made lasagna.

The recipe is from my mom. She got it from my Aunt Arlene. We went to dinner at her and my Uncle Paul's home when we were kids. The lasagna was amazing. Thankfully, my mom asked for the recipe. She made it many times throughout the years. Wanted to make it for Valentine's Day - partly to enjoy it with my family...and partly to remember my parents who I've been missing a lot.

1 pound ground beef
1 cup onion (I use one onion)
1/2 cup green pepper  (I use one green pepper)
3 1/2 cups tomato sauce (1 pound 12 ounces)
1 small can tomato paste
12/ cup mushrooms drained (I use one 8 ounce can)
1 crushed garlic clove
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (I use 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon accent (I don't use this)
8 ounces lasagna noodles, prepared according to package directions
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Note: I use a big container of cottage cheese, 1 container of ricotta cheese, as much Parmesan cheese needed to cover an entire layer, and enough mozzarella to cover an entire layer. For the oregano leaves, basil leaves, and rosemary, I used Italian seasoning instead.


Brown in a skillet the hamburger, onion, and green pepper. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and mushroom. Next add the garlic clove, oregano, salt, pepper, basil, rosemary, and accent.

Simmer the sauce uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook the lasagna noodles. Rinse and drain.

Layer the following in a 9x13 pan (I use a 10x15 pan):
1/3 sauce
1/2 noodles
1 cup cottage cheese (I add ricotta cheese to this layer)
1/2 remaining sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
remaining noodles
1 cup cottage cheese (I add ricotta cheese to this layer)
remaining sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. If you let the lasagna sit for about 10 minutes, it will firm up a  bit. It reheats and freezes well.

Also made Poppy Seed Cheese Bread. The recipe came from the February-March 2017 issue of Taste of Home. My mom gave me a subscription to this magazine many years ago. I've tried many recipes from Taste of Home. The majority have tasted delicious and use items that often times are in the cupboard, refrigerator, or freezer.

1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
3/4 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)
2 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cup to 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 large egg
1/3 cup whole milk (I used skim milk)
1 teaspoon finely-chopped onion (I used onion flakes)
poppy seeds


Dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Combine milk, shortening and salt; stir into yeast mixture. Add enough flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough; press into a greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine cheese, egg, milk, and onion. Spread over dough. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake 15-20 minutes. Cut into squares.

Sophia made the dessert which was called Valentine Berries and Cream. It's basically a chocolate mousse in a melted/hardened chocolate crust. She put whipped cream in the center and topped it with fresh strawberries.

The dessert was delicious! The recipe was from the February-March 2000 issue of Taste of Home.

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon shortening
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped, divided
1-1/2 cups fresh strawberries, halved


Line a 9-in. heart-shaped or square pan with foil; set aside. In a large heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Pour into prepared pan, swirling to coat the bottom and 1-1/2 in. up the sides.

Refrigerate for 1 minute, then swirl the chocolate to reinforce sides of heart or box. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm. Using foil, lift from pan; remove foil and place chocolate heart on a serving plate.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Combine confectioners' sugar and cocoa; add to creamed mixture with milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Gently fold two-thirds of the whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Spoon into heart. Insert star tip #32 into a pastry or plastic bag; fill with the remaining whipped cream. Pipe around the edge of heart. Garnish with strawberries. Yield: 8-10 servings.

She's never made a chocolate crust before, so that was a fun learning experience for her.

After dinner, we opened cards and gifts. We all had a very nice Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday - February 13, 2017

The weather.....has been beautiful and much more comfortable over the past couple of days. This week, for the most part, it will be in the 40s. Perfect weather after a cold winter!

The weather was so nice that we took the dogs for a walk.
There are ponds on either side of the road that
they are looking at while we stopped for a bit.

Right now I am....looking forward to going to the chiropractor later this morning. Am still having pain under my right shoulder blade that sometimes goes down my arm. Am thinking it's a pinched nerve. Am hoping that the chiropractor can relieve some of the pain.

Thinking....about the DNA results we received yesterday for Olivia. Being adopted, we didn't have any information about her birth parents.

Olivia is on the left and Sophia is on the right.

So, doing the 23andMe test and then uploading the results to WeGene (which analyzes DNA data for those from an Asian background) resulted in these results:

Olivia is 98.35% Chinese. This represents:
- 43.61% Northern Han Chinese
- 33.40% Southern Han Chinese
- 10.53% Mongolian
- 4.50% Gaoshan
- 4.33% Dai
- 1.17% Lahu
- 0.77% She

The Chinese Han people are the largest ethnic group in both China and worldwide. The other 5 groups are ethnic minorities. There are 56 ethnic minorities in China.

The rest of Olivia's background is:

1.38% Southeast Asian. This is represented by the Kinh ethnic group of Vietnam. The Kinh is the main ethnic group in Vietnam, accounting for 86.2% of national population.

0.23% Oceanian. This is represented by the Papuan people of Papua, New Guinea.

<0.1% Yakut. The Yakuts are the indigenous people of the Republic of Sakha in the northeast of Siberia, Russia.

Black bear that we saw - September 9, 2011.

Learned that "Approximately 3,000 black bears inhabited Massachusetts before European colonization. By 1900, that number had been reduced to fewer than 100. Today, the bear population has reached 3,000 again and is increasing by 8-10% each year."

On my TV.....I'm finding that I'm enjoying  some of the old shows that I used to watch as a kid. There's some stations I get on my t.v. that isn't hooked up to cable that have shows from the 1970s and 1980s. A lot of the current shows on t.v. are so violent so I don't watch them.

Favorite blog post last week (mine or other)....White House Black Shutters is the blog that I found out a couple of years ago when I was decluttering. It has a 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge that coincides with Lent. This year, I'm going to be doing the challenge again. There's a Facebook page that some people sign up for and post their before and after shots. It's very inspiring to see the difference between the two photos.

Something fun to share....last week I found out about a clothing company through someone's blog that I really like: Gudrun. I'm wanting to update my wardrobe, and this may be the style I'm after.

Blog hopping (newly discovered blog)....I've been trying to find blogs that feature Japanese crafting, embroidery, bento boxes, fashion, and recipes. A lot of blogs have been started and abandoned that focus on some of these topics. Found The Angry Chicken that looks like it will be interesting to explore. There are some entries that focus on Japanese craft books.

In the process of blog hopping, I came across a Japanese store that ships items: UGUISU.

On the menu for this week....I've been trying some new recipes this year which has been fun. This week it is a combination of new recipes and ones I've made before.

Not all the meals are listed - only the ones that I'm making things from scratch. For many meals, we have leftovers since the quantity of the recipes is more than we can consume in one sitting.

Monday - Dinner will be pork roast in the slow cooker with potatoes and carrots.

Tuesday (Valentine's Day) - Fruit Kabobs (with the fruit cut in heart shapes) along with glazed donuts and blueberry muffins for breakfast. There will be a special treat for dessert for lunch (blondies with red, pink, and white M&Ms). Dinner will be lasagna (my mom's recipe) and cheese bread (new recipe).

Sophia is making the dessert. Not sure what she'll be making. She loves to cook and, at 16 years old, very talented in her culinary skills.

Wednesday - For breakfast, there will be Frozen Fruit Cups (with bananas, strawberry yogurt, frozen strawberries, and pineapple); and Overnight Coffee Cake. For lunch, we'll be having Vietnamese Vegetable Pinwheels.

Thursday - For dinner, I'll either make Tilapia with Lemony Herb Salad or Crispy Fish Sticks.

Friday - For lunch, we'll be having Vegetable Hummus Tortilla Wraps.

Saturday - For dinner, we'll have Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs. For dessert, I'll make Rocky Road Crescent Bars.

Sunday - For the main meal (mid-afternoon), we'll have Beef Barley Soup. Olivia will be making homemade bread from her Five in a Row Cookbook, so we'll have that right out of the oven with butter.

On my to do addition to homeschooling, these are some of the things that I'll be doing this week:

Monday - allergy shot appointment (Sophia), chiropractor appointments (Sophia and me). Remember Casey (one of my favorite dogs) who died in 2013.

Casey in April 2007 in the backyard.

Tuesday - homeschool co-op, harp lessons (Sophia). Celebrate Valentine's Day. Remember my Grandpa on my Dad's side who died on this Valentine's Day in 1983.

Wednesday - paint the blue/purple bedroom in areas where the plaster was patched.

Thursday - go to Feed My Starving Children with our 4-H club and pack meals.

Friday - help my sister go through my parents' photo albums and remove the photos that we want to keep and divide amongst her family, my brother's family, and my family. Will be there for about four hours. Hope to get a lot done.

Saturday - go through my boxes of photos and discard the ones I no longer want; and label and keep the ones I do.

Sunday - do the training session for volunteering at Northwoods Humane Society with cats. (Sophia and I already did the training session for working with the dogs this past weekend.)

In the craft basket....I want to work on the sensory quilts for the nursing home. My goal is to do at least a half a dozen this year for the seniors who have dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. I have many of the components already cut. It's just a matter of putting the quilts together in a way that will be engaging for the seniors and pleasing for them to look at when they have them on their laps.

Example of what I want to make for the seniors.

Also want to make a pre-printed Christmas table runner and two pot holders. Both of these projects are on my to-do list for this month. I'm marking things off my UFO (Un-Finished Object) list and getting items ready for the county fair this summer.

Looking forward to this week....going through photos with my sister. It will be a bittersweet experience because our parents are no longer with us.

My parents with Olivia and Sophia at the county fair in July 2008.
Olivia was 5 and Sophia was 7 years old.

However, some of the photos will remind of us of times we spent together while others will be ones that give us a glimpse into our parents' lives when we were adults and they were able to travel and do more things together as a couple.

Looking around the house....there are areas that I want to clean, repair, and/or declutter. My goal is to thoroughly go through each part of the home by the end of this year. Hopefully, in that process, things will be more streamlined and easier to find.

From the camera....Sophia and I were driving back from our volunteer training on Saturday when I saw a black blob in the ditch near the trees. I asked her what it was. "It's a beaver!!" Neither of us have ever seen a beaver ambling around in the wild.

Between that and the skunk that has taken up residence under the hobby shed, we've had an interesting glimpse into wildlife that we don't normally see. I don't have a picture of the skunk. We just know it's around because of its odor.

Happened to have my camera in hand as I was walking towards the stairs. Eenie was sitting on the cabinet.

During the past week, he and his sister (who has the same coloring, but different markings) have been sleeping on the same bed together. That's major progress for them. I think the addition of two dogs last month has shaken things up a a good way.

Also linked to:

52 Weeks to an Organized Home: Organize recipes and cookbooks (Week 5)

This week, the focus for 52 Weeks to an Organized Home is on organizing recipes and cookbooks.

The cookbooks that I use the most often are in the kitchen. There were a couple of cookbooks that were produced by companies (e.g., Jiffy, Pillsbury) that I looked through, took out recipes I wanted, and then recycled them. There was no reason to keep the entire booklet if I didn't plan on using the other recipes.

Cookbooks - before (left) and after (right).
On the lower shelf are cat treats, dog food, and grains (in the jars).

The other area I keep recipes is in my home office on a shelf. There are five recipe boxes - all filled with recipes that I've made.

In addition, there's a binder that I started a few years ago that include all the recipes that I want to make. Originally, I started dividing them by the type of grain (e.g., oats, barley, millet) to make it easier to follow the Waldorf method of having a specific grain each day. In Waldorf kindergarten classrooms they follow this schedule. It seems like a nice routine.

I also have tabs and sections that divide recipes by months. This, I'm finding, is a better way for me to organize recipes since there are ones that are more appropriate to try in the summer months when there's an abundance of produce; some that are holiday-related; and others that would be better during winter months (e.g., stew, chili, "heavier" type meals).

I pulled out all the recipes boxes, notebook, and loose recipes that I had in my closet.

As I looked through them, I put ones back that I had made and want to make again. These went in the recipe boxes. Four of the five boxes don't close, so either I need to go through these recipes I made and remove ones I don't think I'll want to make again; or buy another box.

The next thing I did was go through each recipe I wanted to try. The ones I still want to make, I filed them by the month I wanted to make them.

There were many recipes I no longer wanted to make. I had an entire bag full of recipes that I recycled.

Will I ever make all the recipes? Probably not. Yet, I like having a variety of recipes to choose from.

I was happy to find recipes that I want to make again - like my mom's lasagna on Valentine's Day. Someday soon I want to make a batch of my Grandma's rolls. They take an entire day to make. As I was filing the recipes, I thought I lost the recipe. I don't think anyone else has it. I would have been devastated.

As a baker, she made these rolls at her job as well as at home. She would come stay with us many times and while she was there she would make these rolls. She never measured anything. She just knew how much of each ingredient to use.

It took a lot of persuading for her to measure each of the items when she made rolls one time. I am so grateful she did this so a part of her legacy continues to live on each time I make the rolls.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Outdoor Mom's Journal - February

During our outdoor time these past couple of weeks we went....on a few walks with the dogs to get them comfortable living with one another.

The addition of two new dogs (Danny and Scooby who are 5 1/2 years old and 10 years old respectively) to our current two dogs (Cooper and Aspen who are 4 and 3 years old respectively) meant trying to get them used to being in the same relative space as one another.

I didn't take any photos on these walks because both my hands were full with leashes and making sure the dogs got along okay.

Other outdoor time was spent close to home - filling birdfeeders; taking care of the horses; letting the dogs outside; getting the mail and paper; and taking the garbage/recycling to the street. Often times, on the cold days, the most enjoyable view for me is looking out the windows.

This is the view from my bedroom window which faces west. During the day, I see part of the front yard and west pasture. In the evening, there are beautiful sunsets; and on some mornings, there are dramatic moonsets (like this morning when the moon was orange):

The most inspiring thing we experienced was...watching all the birds at the feeder. At our 4-H club meeting last week, I made a big batch of Amish bird food using lard, peanut butter, cornmeal, flour, sugar, and birdseed. I've made this recipe before and the birds love it.

Had the kids at the 4-H meeting fill mugs with the suet and then add a stick for a perch. They used twine for attaching the bird feeder to the tree.

The birds have been enjoying the suet - especially the little black-capped chickadees.

The feeder on the mudroom roof (right outside the bedroom window) shows evidence of birds visiting it.

I like seeing the tracks in the snow from birds and squirrels on the roof; and the rabbits and squirrels in the yard.

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)...why some dogs' paws seem okay for walks during the cold winter months and others have a lot of difficulty.

The ones we have now all seem to have challenges with being in the snow and ice for an extended period of time. So, we are not doing long walks now until it gets warmer (in the 30s).

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting....nothing yet. However, I do want to start thinking about preserving (canning and freezing) more produce this year than I did last year.

I'm out of canned tomatoes now and am almost at the end of peaches. Ran out of blueberries and am almost out of strawberries. Will need to assess what I have on hand and what I need to preserve before the season begins.

I added nature journal pages about....nothing during February yet. Want to do another entry by the end of the month to meet my goal of doing one page per month.

I am reading...
My Backyard Jungle. Am looking forward to seeing what the author does to transform his yard into a wildlife habitat.

Just finished reading Landscaping for Wildlife for the 4-H Wildlife Project Bowl. Lots of good information and inspiring ideas.

We already do many of things mentioned in the book. However, I'd like to look at attracting certain species of birds, hummingbirds, and butterflies to our farm. This book gives practical ideas for doing that.

I am dreaming about…
birds migrating back north. I was thinking about the red-winged blackbirds and what a welcome sound they are each spring. It's truly a sign of spring when I hear them singing while they are sitting in the trees and on the cattails near the pond.

Trumpeter swans that returned in March 2012.
They were in the field next to our farm.

A photo I would like to share...
this is one from February 15, 2011. It was the first bike ride and walk of the season with Gretel and Montague. Olivia would have been 8 years old and Sophia would have been 10 years old.

How quickly time goes by. The girls are now 14 and 16 years old respectively; and both Gretel and Montague have died. We now have Scooby (10 years old), Danny (5 1/2 years old), Cooper (4 years old), and Aspen (3 years old) three cats and two horses.

This photo really makes me want to spend more time outside with the girls and dogs; and document what we see and do. These are the memories and experiences that bring back such good thoughts of a life and time well spent.

Thank you to Barb of the Outdoor Hour Challenge for the idea of doing an Outdoor Mom's Journal.