Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ode to a Barn Cat: Rest in Peace Mr. Doo-Hickey

Sigh.....Last Sunday was the last official day of our fair.  The goat show started at 10:00, but after two storms and a hog show,  fishing derby, and free concert (in the show arena, RIGHT AFTER the hog show) in between the storms, this momma and her chicks decided the fair didn't need to see our shiny faces until at least 11:00.

I am sad to report that we did not make to church either; however, the Good Lord and I had been in constant communication most of the week about heat and no major snafus hitting the fairgrounds.  AND He was just about to tap me on the shoulder to lead a sermon on another Life Lesson:  Why we have pets.

The sky was about ready to cut loose here (that means rain around these parts) when the phone rang.  Our neighbors were on their way home from church and saw Mr. Doo-Hickey in the road as a result of a very unsuccessful attempt to cross it.


Neighbor Mike was coming over to remove Mr. Doo-Hickey from the road before the girls saw him, and Neighbor Wanda was worried about the girls seeing him before he was removed.  I went out to identify the remains, and then I did some thinking on my way back inside.

What to tell the girls?

I have, a couple years ago, chickened out and told them a departed barn cat must have left us for another home, but that news was met with tears and "Why didn't he love us?"  "What did we do wrong?"  Sooooooo................

I gathered the girls in the sunroom and explained that Mr. Doo-Hickey had gone to join our other pets in Heaven.  There were tears, and questions, and they both wanted to see him to say good-bye.  Little Bear said her good-byes from the front window, but Tink wanted a closer look.  Since I knew it wouldn't be too gruesome, I let her go out in the yard a ways.  Poor Mike was there by then to dispose of the body.  Tink took it pretty hard, but she did ok.

Back in the house, we had more tears, cuddling, and talks about life and death.  Do all things die?  Are you going to die Mommy? Why do we have to die?  and so on.  It was a good talk. (One that, once again, Tall Guy missed out on because he was already down at the fair!) In the middle, Bear sniffled and said, "I remember you telling us not to let our hearts get too attached to the barn cats because sometimes they leave us."  Sigh..... and so my little angels learn once again about Life and its many circles.

So Rest in Peace Mr. Doo-Hickey.  You were a good and loving pet for our girls.  You rubbed up against their legs, and you helped teach them about the responsibilities in caring for animals.

Just as we finished up our talk, a big storm hit so I let them bring Sadie in and the three of them along with the house cat, Pumpkin, headed to the basement to wait out all the loud noise.  It wasn't a bad storm, but I thought Tink and Bear could use a bit of bonding with their four-legged buddies.

It's always hard to lose a pet or a farm animal.  The fair kids didn't do much better when it came time for the auction.  Read a touching story from my friend Jent over at From My Front Porch.  This is what farm life teaches our children; how to enjoy and appreciate each day and understand the way of the world around us.  We are all here for a purpose.  Go out there and make this day count!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Gooseberry Patch Recipe #4 Millionaire Brownies

 Do you need something yummy to take to an up-coming reunion?  It seems like our calendar is filled with family gatherings for the next few weekends, and these brownies will make the kid in anyone smile and take notice!

First you stir in the dry cake mix, 2/3 C. evaporated milk, and butter until moistened.

Next spread half the mix into a greased 13 x 9 pan and bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

While that part is baking, start unwrapping those yummy caramels and plop them into a pot with the rest of the evaporated milk.  Yes, a few did NOT make it into the pot! Dang!  You know me too well!
 Ok, now that the bottom is baked......

Sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips....

 Drizzle the melted caramel mix over the chips, and as best you can, spread the remaining batter on top of the caramel.   I have to say I did end up using a spatula and then my fingers to spread that yummy goopy stuff all around the top.  It's a dirty job, but.....:-)

Gooseberry Patch has a priceless brownie recipe that includes caramels, chocolate chips, and lots of butter.

Bake again for about 18-20 minutes, and then get out the ice cream bucket because..

 in hind sight, this is the best thing you could ever want to put on the top of ice cream!  Maybe some Vanilla Bean Ice Cream from my friend, Leontien over at Four Leaf Clover Tales!

Happy reunions to all who are gathering.  I am hopping back 20 years in time to visit with one of my favorite classes in the Monticello area Saturday (after freezing corn all day!), then gathering with my side of the family on Sunday.  Time to charge up the camera batteries and polish that smile!

Here's the recipe all in one place so you can whip this Fast Fix Dessert for your peeps this weekend!

Millionaire Brownies

18 1/4 oz. Chocolate Fudge cake mix
1 C. evaporated milk, divided
3/4 C. butter softened
14 oz. caramels, unwrapped (ok, that little detail cracks me up!0
1 1/2 C. chocolate chips, semi-sweet
1 1/2 C. chopped pecans ( I omitted this ingredient from my brownies because not everyone is nutty around here.)

1.  Stir together the dry cake mix, 2/3 C. evaporated milk, and butter until moistened.
2.  Spread half of the mix into a greased 13 X 9 cake pan, and bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Cool.
3.  Heat caramels and remaining evaporated milk in a small sauce pan over low heat, stirring constantly until caramels are melted.'
4.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the brownies, then drizzle the caramel on top of the chips.  Top with pecans.
5.  Spread remaining brownie batter over the top, and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.
6.  Cool completely before cutting.    Makes 2 dozen brownies.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Trying to Get Back to Normal

From what I have read in some of my friends' blogs, this time of year must be "slow time" for bloggers.  Between vacations and county fairs, we all seem to have tons of pictures to share but little time/energy to pull it all together.  Between laundry, weeding the garden, maintaining the landscaping project, and freezing corn, I feel like I have not jumped off the roller coaster!  I think I will just tag on to Wednesday's coattails and do a wordless post featuring our girls at the fair.

Little Bear made us so proud at the Little Miss pageant.  No crown, but she was our princess that night.  Tink went in to the show ring for the first time with a milking short horn dairy calf and an awesome mentor in Miss Harley.  They did a great job.  Yes, I have better show boots on order, but they didn't come in.  Yes, I ordered them big so she could wear them this winter and next year when she shows for real.

I promise to have some yummy Gooseberry Patch recipes for you by the weekend.


Monday, July 18, 2011

GP Two for One Day #2 Stuffed Chicken (or Pork) Breasts and #3 Parmesan Zucchini Sticks

These two recipes are going to become your favorite recipes from Gooseberry Patch's Fast Fix Meals if the reaction to them in my house is any indication!  While the recipe says "Stuffed Chicken Breasts," this first try was made with pounded pork chops.  I made it with chicken for my dad's birthday meal Friday night, and it was just as good, but I didn't have time to take pictures!  Here we go:

To make the filling for this meal, I needed 8 oz of garlic/herb cream cheese.  I had the basic cream cheese, and ran out the the garden to nip some chives and basil from my herb pot!  Wish we had the ability to smell on here!

 So I chopped up the chives and tore up the basil, added some powdered garlic because I was out of fresh, and mixed it in the cream cheese.

Now for some therapy!  I am not a Pampered Chef salesperson or spokesperson, but I LOVE many of their kitchen gadgets, and this meat tenderizer is awesome.  You can unscrew the handle and put the circle pointy side down, but I pounded with the flat side.

I seriously had some demons to exercise, so with a visual image in my head of someone else's head, I pounded away at my piece of pork until it was about twice its original size!

Next you spread the cream cheese mixture on the pork.  NOTE!  Do not use the knife you are spreading with to go and get the creamed cheese mixture.  I had some left over, but if I had used one tool for both steps, the cheese would have been exposed to fresh pork, and you don't want that!

 Pick your best sides and roll up the pork.

 Wrap with bacon and secure with toothpicks.
  Grill until done.

Now while this was all going on, I chose a side dish from the Fast Fix book to have with our meal.

For Italian flavored bread crumbs, I just used 1/2 C. Stove Top Stuffing Mix!

I used the freshly washed meat pounder to cruch up the bread crumbs a bit more.

Add 1/2 C. Parmesan Cheese and mix together.

Now you form an assembly line.  The recipe calls for four zucchini and one egg, but after quartering all my zuccs, I went with two eggs, and it all came out perfectly even in the end.

 Bake at  450 for 20-25 minutes and then serve.  Yep, that's my PC pizza stone. 

These recipes went so well together and were very simple to make.  Hope you enjoy!

Hunk of Meat Mondays

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Catch Up

Yes I am still alive, but it's all I can do to keep up with my life these days.  There is a bit of a break in the action before things go crazy again, so I thought I would try to catch you up on the goings on around here.

First off the bat, I want to give a big SHOUT OUT to Little Indiana  I have been following Jessica's wanderings around Indiana for quite a while, and I love the fact that she speaks about the small town life that I know and love.  She featured me in a post a few weeks ago, in the middle of all my back issues, and I haven't been able to properly say Thank You!  Stop by her site, and add it to your fav list.  It's on mine!

Now for the daily stuff.
One reason I am not blogging so much is that I started walking in the morning again.  I SO needed to get back in my tennies to help my back heal and to start fighting the weight gain battle I have been losing for a while.   The back is healing, but it is slow, and I still cannot sit for too long without it becoming uncomfortable.  Patience right?  sigh....

Our county fair starts this Thursday, and Tink and Bear have been busy working on their mini 4-H, or Cloverbuds as we call it around here, projects.  They both made baskets and took pictures.  Nope, forgot to take a pic of their baskets before they went in for judging, but here are their pictures.

Tink's picture of Sadie:

Bear's picture of Goldie and one of the kittens (still can't tell them apart!)

Tink has also been going over to a neighbor's to learn about showing cattle and hogs.  As part of our cloverbud projects an 8 year old can pair up with a 4-H member to learn more about showing livestock BEFORE committing to such a big responsibility.  This young lady working with Tink has done such a great job teaching her about the calf.  Here Tink is with the short horn milking calf, Tom

and here she is trying to "steer" a pig.  She seems to like working with the calf better than the pig.

Hannah is going to participate in the Little Miss Benton County pageant, so we are working on talking slowly.  I'm afraid she takes after her mother in the fast-talking department.  It's all for fun, they receive cute goody bags, and I like the experience it gives her in getting up in front of people. 

We are trying to get the fairgrounds ready for the fair.  Many of you may already know this, but it takes a huge team effort to get the grounds ready for the fair.  We have been working, more Tall Guy than me on the labor part, full steam for two weeks painting, building, weeding, cleaning, and all that stuff to shine for our week.  I've also been wokring on filling the commercial tent and advertising for the fair activities.  As of today the tents are up, and the guys are out in thise heat building a deck for our new women's building.  We also proud to present The Eli Young Band in concert Friday night, July 22.  If you are close and would like tickets, e-mail me and I can make it happen for you!

There is some action on my new bird feeder.  Some blackbirds and sparrows are starting to show an interest.  I'm hoping the cardinals and finches will take take notice and join in the eating.

Corn in Benton County is tassling and silking.  Sure wish we could get a nice rain to help the pollinating along.  Can't believe I am asking for a rain with our track record so far this year, but it's been pretty dry for over a week!

Remind me to tell you about what happened to my sweet corn.  It's a long sour story!  GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!

The garden is looking good because we are watering it now, and the same goes for the new landscaping.  I still cannot get on the mower....DRAT!  That is the best mental therapy for me, but apparently it is not good for a healing back.  Soon little green tractor....sooon.

Just for fun, last night I snuck out of the house  went to see the last Harry Potter movie, and it was AWESOME!!!  Want to know one of the best parts?  I went here to see if for $5,

bought a large $2 root beer, and had a refill for $.25!  Our theater is a historical building, and the theater peeps are in the process of renovating the inside now that they have the outside looking all nice and spiffy.

Ok,  I'm off to take Bear to her interview and picture moment for the Little Miss Contest.  I will try to get a few more posts up before FAIRMANIA sets in.

Have a great week and stay cool.  Sounds like we are all going to have to increase our water intake in the next few days!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Feed the Birds.....

That has to be one of my most favorite songs from childhood.  Thank you Mary Poppins, Bert, and the Birdwoman for that lovely moment.  When I visited St. Paul's Cathedral in London, that was all I could think about.

Well now I am feeding the birds at my own house....or at least trying to.  Thanks to Perky Pet Feeders, I have a beautiful new bird feeder for my birds!

This one is the Triple Tube Bird Feeder, and I LOVE the copper color of it.  We set it with a heavy pole, called re-bar, that we had out in the tool shed.  It takes a pretty strong pole to stand up to the 20-30+ mph winds we can have around here on any given day.

 (Yes!  I need to deadhead my peonys!  Lord give me just an extra hour in my day!)

Now my goal is to get the birds to come to it.  I've been watching it as often as possible to catch a bird eating from it!  There is a burning bush just about 12 feet from it, and then the row of hollyhocks where the birds love to gather, but they haven't ventured to the feeder yet.  I may have to consult my bird loving friends Ann and Betsy to see if they have any words of wisdom for me.  If you, dear reader, have any suggestions as to how I get the birds to come to the feeder, please pass them along.  I will let you know how it goes!

Here comes the best part:     If you would like to win a Copper Triple Tube Bird Feeder head over to the Real Farmwives of America & Friends Blog ( and sign up for the giveaway! 

Ok, now scoot on over to see how my other friends are faring with their new feeders! Tweet Tweet!

Perky Pet did provide me with this product to review, however the thoughts and opinions shared about this product on this blog are my own.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gooseberry Patch Fast FIx Meals #1 Quick Chocolate Mousse

Woo Hoo!  I am finally posting a recipe from this great, time-saving cookbook you all chose for me.  This summer is flying by, and with my back injury a few weeks ago, it's actually been more like playing a game of Red Light Green Light.  Looks like the green light is back on as long as I don't "over-do."  This light and fluffy recipe is a great way to get back on my feet in the kitchen.

Speaking of my kitchen..... I would love for you to take a quick break and go to this post where I gave a tour of my one of a kind mural kitchen.  We still love it like the first day we saw it.  What a wonderful scene to greet us every morning!  As a special treat, you also get to see how we make applesauce around these parts!

OK back to the moose!

Good thing this is a "Fast-Fix" dessert because things sure move quickly around the farm, as you will see.

My trusty assistant, Bear poured, or at least attempted to pour the 14. oz sweetened condensed milk into the mixing bowl.  She had her first lesson on the meaning of condensed! (I did go get the can opener and took off the top for her.)

Next, my EQUALLY trusty assistant, Tink, poured in the cup of cold water and ......

proceeded to whisk the dickins out of both until they blended together.

Now back to Bear....can you see that we are taking turns?  Can you guess that in the future I will use one girl per recipe to avoid squabbles and untrue claims of favoritism and "that's not fair," and "It's MY turn!"  Oh the joys of cooking with more than one person.  ;-).....Bear is adding the 3.9 oz. package of instant  chocolate pudding mix.

The recipe now asks you to mix this all together and let set for five minutes. Guess who called right after this picture was taken to see if anyone wanted to ride in the combine while he picked wheat????

There goes my help......

"DANG IT!"  Those are Sadie's words when she realized she wasn't going with.

"Bye-Bye Mom!  You get to finish the dessert!"

Yeah,  now back to my quiet kitchen.   In all the craziness, I forgot to tell you I read the italicized comments under the title of this recipe and picked up a great idea!  Add a bit of instant coffee for a "yummy mocha mousse!"  Well DANG!  Gotta try that, so in a bit went.

Bring the pudding mixture back out of the fridge and fold in an 8 oz. container of whipped topping.

POOF!  Back in the fridge until the munchkins are ready for a treat!

Thanks to Geneva Rogers from Gillette, Wyoming for this yummy cool treat!  Kudos to Gooseberry Patch for adding it to this recipe book!

Here's the recipe all in one spot:

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk         small box instant chocolate pudding mix
1. C          cold water                                 8 oz. thawed whipped topping

I have more recipes to share, but until the next time.......Bon appetite!
( I always wanted to say that!)