Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Raspberry Cream Cookies

I've been thinking about the eras that were known as the good-ol-days and that brings me to the 1950's.


I didn't live in the 1950's, but things seemed simple back then.  I like simple, which inspired me to make some cookies that reminded me of yesteryear, or something my grandmother would have made for her kids.


This is how it went....




Simple butter cookies with a creamy raspberry middle, shaped into stars served with a glass of milk.  Can't get much better than that. 

Unless you don't like milk, but we'll pretend you do.





Using the star shaped cookie cutter is reminiscent of Americana.





Creamy raspberry filling, use to spread on the backside of the cookie to make a sandwich effect.




Oh yum!




These tasty raspberry cream cookies are a real treat reminding us of the simpleness of yesteryear.


Enjoy.




Ingredients for Butter Cookies -

2 sticks of butter, softened
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions for butter cookies -

In a stand mixer or electric mixer, cream softened butter on medium until smooth.  Add teaspoon of vanilla and powdered sugar until creamy and combined well.  Gradually add in flour until combined well.

Take out dough and place on a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten out with hands to make rolling out easier, and cover top of dough with another sheet of plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for an hour.

Place dough on a sheet of wax paper, cover the top of dough with another sheet of wax paper, roll dough to 1/4" thickness.  Using a star cookie cutter, cut out star shapes and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  (hint: if your dough is sticking to the cutter, place the dough in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the cookie sheets in the refrigerator (approx. 15 mins.) while preheating. 

Remove cookies from refrigerator and place in oven for 12 to 15 minutes.  Do not over cook, take out just as the edges of the cookie are starting to turn a light golden color.

While the cookies are in the oven, start the cream filling.

Ingredients for raspberry cream filling -

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 cup fresh raspberries chopped


Directions for raspberry cream filling -

In a stand mixer or electric mixer, cream softened butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, then the raspberries until well combined.  Refrigerate until ready to add to cookies.

Enjoy the cookies immediately or keep chilled in refrigerator until ready to eat.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Great Hat Debate


This morning Soph came running down the hall, through the kitchen, and down to the master bedroom looking for her daddy.  She had caught a glimpse of him with his cowboy hat on, which means to our two year old, that dad's going outside on a ride.  A Ranger ride that is, and she didn't want to miss out.

"Daddyyyy me go with you!" she squealed with excitement.

"Okay sweetie, maybe you need to find Mommy to help you change out of your pajamas." he told her.

"No Daddy me ready....oh, me get mine hat." she told him.  Then she ran off like a little flash of lightning, running to her bedroom to grab her cowboy hat off of her rocking horse.


She quickly figured out how to put it on and took off running out of her room to find her daddy.  Her hat kept falling off, over and over again, causing her a great deal of frustration that quickly turned into a problem.  She wanted to match her daddy but the hat just wouldn't stay on! 


Vic picked her up, and carried her outside, while reassuring rather than reasoning with her.  





She looked at her daddy with a pouty bottom lip and said, "me don't want to match you anymore Daddy, mine hat not good."

I watched to two of them drive off, she still had a pout, but I knew when they returned, she would be her happy self.


Hard to imagine that a cowboy hat could cause such an upset.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Growing Alfalfa

Cowboy Vic is at it again!


He's had his farmer hat on for the past couple of weeks preparing to grow another alfalfa crop.

He's discovered that farming works when you have a little trial and error under your belt.  We are both certain that farming and growing is not easy, green thumb or not. Successful farming entails so many things like soil, water, climate, bugs, plant diseases, critter control, equipment, seed, time, and labor...just to name a few!

Backing up a bit, do you remember when I told you about the first time Vic decided to grow an alfalfa crop? You can catch up on that by reading how he got the swather and baler equipment, then, read the update on growing alfalfa.  

After all of that reading, you will be right on track with the story of the "Little Farmer That Could." I mean, you will be right on track with the story of the big-burly-muscular-cowboy that turns farmer when farming is on the list of things to do.



This is how it went....




Let me begin by pointing out, that I'm explaining this process from watching what's been going on, I'm not the farmer, Cowboy Vic is.  I try to grow things in the greenhouse and that's another story.


Vic chose this field because the land is level and the soil is rich.




First things first on the list was to get water to the field. 

 He had to put in 600 hundred feet of 3 inch schedule 40 PVC pipe to connect into the existing water line.  That's a lot of pipe!  The pipe had to be buried 4 feet into the ground to ensure the tractor rippers never hit the pipe.



It took one full day to dig the trenches and another full day to lay the pipe, connect the fittings, and bury the lines.  All of that had to be done to get to this...a bunch of valves sticking out of the ground.  

Really, it's much more than that, I'm pretty sure these valves are important.




The valves that you see sticking out of the ground are about 60 feet apart.  They are the ON and OFF valves that are used to connect a 10 foot hose to the sprinkler wheels.  So in other words, the sprinkler wheels move between each valve sprinkling the land, when the wheels roll to the next valve in the line, the hose has to be manually changed by unconnecting and reconnecting.  

Sounds like a lot of work to me.




Once the pipe and water were in place, the tractor got to come out and play.




The land where the seed will be planted had to be tilled to soften and aerate, which will help the seeds take root.




I have heard there is controversy as to whether or not to till the land.  In our case, the land is so hard and crispy from the hot and dry weather, rain, and cows stopping all over it, so Vic took no chances and tilled the land as he always has.





The land was tilled in rows and then cross tilled to ensure even churning.




Vic will be planting approximately 5 acres of land, with 250 lbs of seed, that's five 50 lb bags of seed.  It rounds out to about 50 lbs of seed per acre.  The hard-to-swallow part of all of this are the hard costs.  To grow a crop you have to have the land, the water system, electricity to run the well to water the land (in our part of the country), fencing to keep the cows out (if you have cows nearby), laborers to take care of the crop, and the seed. 

Speaking of seed, alfalfa seed prices have gone up 100% since last year.  One 50 lb bag of premium seed last year cost $100.00, this year it cost $200.00.  When seed prices go up that means alfalfa hay prices go up, which is not good news for the cattle and horse owners. 

Let me take a breath after all of this talking.....

[Okay, I'm back.]  

After the crop grows it has to be farmed about every 40 days.  That's the good part, farming equals alfalfa bales, and that's another story entirely!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Face Off


Vic threw his cowboy hat on, picked up the baby, and told me to come with him to take a look at things he's doing around the ranch.  He took me down to one of our fields that he has been working on for a few weeks now.  

This is how it went....



Driving through the field, he stopped for a moment to answer my questions, when all of the sudden the three dogs jumped out of the Ranger and ran barking at something moving on the ground.

That's when I saw a snake, coiled, and head risen about 3 feet from Lucy, our puppy, who hasn't learned about snakes yet.  I completely freaked out screaming for the dogs to get back, but of coarse Lucy had no idea what I was saying, and the two older dogs were fixated.  It was like a face-off; who would make the next move.








When you live in Arizona and see a snake, you think of Rattlesnakes, which will attack when provoked and are very deadly.  My mind was racing with thoughts of the snake striking as I ran toward my dogs to pull them back.  That's when my cool as a cucumber husband said, "it's okay there's NO RATTLE", of course that didn't register in my head until I had Lucy's collar in my hand and I was able to pull her back from the snake's face.


"It's a GOOD snake!" "Let's leave it alone and let it do it's thing."  Vic said.


That's exactly what I wanted to hear, no rattle and good snake!  I calmed down, got the dogs back in the Ranger, and stood there to watch it for a moment when I noticed something was wrong with it.




Part of its mid-section was cut and it was hurt. 

Now I'm not really a snake lover, but...I don't like when any animal, reptile, or mammal is hurt or suffering.  




The snake must have been hit by the rippers on the tractor.  The field he called home is now in the process of being turned and churned; he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.



I left him alone and watched him slither around.



Hopefully his skin will heal on its own and he will be just fine, after all, he's a good snake! We need those kind.  Right?


Off he went, looking for a new home, as long as he stays away from our house, I'm good!




Update: I had many people saying that the snake looked like a rattlesnake so I contacted a well-known "snake-guy," Kerby Ross, at his website, for his thoughts on identifying the snake.

He said..."that is a Sonoran Gopher snake, totally harmless and it is a good snake to have around."

Thanks to Kerby for the information!  Vic will be happy to know he was right!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Crossing Paths

Vic amazed me with an enchanting evening for two filled with everything married couples do when they get a break from the kids; go out to dinner.  

On the way home from our magical night, we were discussing random things like how incredibly dark the sky was, and how intensely bright the stars were, when I looked out the windshield and saw the glassy glare of a pair of eyes.  I told Vic to slow down and look ahead at the animal in the road.

"Look, on the right, it's a coyote." I said.

"Oh my GOSH, I think it's a mountain LION!" I screamed.

As we approached the beastly looking figure, and shined the headlights on its face, we could clearly see that it wasn't a lion or a coyote. Feet dragging from exhaustion, but still walking along the white painted highway stripe, against traffic, in the middle of nowhere, was this huge dog who was obviously lost and following a path to certain death.  

I cautiously put my hand out the window to see if was "nice," he didn't bite or run.

My love for animals made me jump into rescue mode and I looked at Vic with my sad eyes and said, "we have to help him!"  He agreed, then made a split- second decision telling me what to do while he watched for on-coming traffic.  

I hurriedly jumped out of our truck, trying to steady myself with high healed wedges and a maxi (long) dress, I softly talked to the giant trying to push my fear of big strange dogs to the side, and began stroking his back hoping to quickly gain his confidence when I noticed his back was dipped and bumpy like an old man.  I swung open the back seat door and tried coaxing him to jump up. He wouldn't budge. I resorted to lifting his giant front paws up to the floorboard and praying he wouldn't bite me.  After his front half was in, I put my arms around his hind end and lifted with all my might until he got his bearings and pulled himself the rest of the way in.  Slamming the door, I ran to my door and jumped in.  I turned around to look at him and was in awe at his massiveness, he took up 3/4's of the back seat! He sat there exhausted and panting with his black tongue hanging to the side, that's when I was able to see that he was some type of Chow-Saint Bernard mix.

We drove on up the road looking for a place to pull off where we could search his collar for a tag.  Luckily he had a tag with his name, phone numbers, address and some type of sensor attached to his collar.  His name was BoBo,  someones beloved old buddy.  After an hour of calling and texting the numbers on his tag with no answer and Googling his address for directions only to pull up, 'No Results For This Address,' we had no choice but to bring him home to the ranch for the night.

We weren't sure where we would put him as I knew our three dogs would not get along with him, so we decided to put him in the fenced grassy play area we have for the kids.  He seemed content once he got used to his surroundings, so we decided to hit the hay and see him in the morning.





I woke up a 6:00 am, made the coffee, looked at Vic's phone to see if there were any messages from BoBo's owner and there was a message saying, "We got your message, please call ANYTIME so we can come pick him up, thank you, Fiona."

"Thank goodness," I said to myself, and called her immediately to give her directions to our house.  I thought that I would let everyone in our house continue sleeping, so I got dressed, grabbed my coffee and tip-toed out and drove down to the play-area to visit BoBo and wait for his owner.  

When I got down to the fenced area I looked around and DID NOT SEE HIM!

He was gone.

My knees buckled and I nearly fell to the ground! "Where did he go?" I frantically thought to myself.  I just hung up the phone assuring Fiona, the owner, that he was safe and ready for her to pick-up!

Reluctantly, I drove back to the house and woke up Vic for help.  We searched everywhere for him.

He was gone.

Fiona's Jeep pulled through our entry gate, she had a huge smile on her face,  my stomach sank to my ankles.  I walked up to her introducing myself and explained that somehow her dog got out in the night.  Her face dropped from the happy smile to one of concern and worry as she looked around the ranch probably thinking finding him would be like finding a needle in a hay stack.

I stood there reflecting on the fact that we saved this dog's life last night, we were able to find the owner to get him home, and now he's gone again.  My heart broke at the fact that he was 14 years old and lost again.  

Fiona was kind and appreciative to us for rescuing him, but she wasn't ready to give up.  She quickly thought of a plan for finding him and decided to start walking the property in the areas we didn't look.  We went up the highway looking for him and checking with the neighbors. After a couple hours we took a break; she went home and we came back to the house with our tails between our legs.

Later, Vic and I jumped back into the Ranger and began looking again.  We drove by the play area where we had put him the night before and there he was laying right on the ground panting, wet and feet covered in mud! I wondered if he "smelled" his owner when she was there earlier, so he came back looking for her.

We were so happy and amazed that he returned, without hesitation, we called Fiona and told her the news, promising not to leave his side until she got back to the ranch!



 BoBo waiting (drooling) for Fiona.




He fell asleep sitting up as he patiently waited.



Buried in old dirty Chow fur was the tag.  If we hadn't had this important piece we would have never been able to find his owner.  Made me realize that we need to get tags on our dogs.


I learned that the sensor on his neck was for the electric fence he "broke out" of. 



Tired and hungry, still waiting for Fiona.


Reunited at last!


The good that came out of this story was plentiful, BoBo went home, and we made some new friends.  It didn't hurt that his owner is a wine maker and she gave us a bottle of her wine as a thank you!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Quiet Moment In Time




This horse, Aranda, is a cowboy's dream, he's always ready to ride, rope, or work the ranch.  Saddled up and ready for the day's events, I captured a moment in time where he quietly stood, sure-footed and patient, waiting to show off his strength and agility in the arena.  



This photo was entered into the I Heart Faces photo challenge – www.iheartfaces.com


I Heart Faces - Photography Challenges and Photo Tutorials

Friday, August 19, 2011

Trails End Blueberry Cobbler


I've been inspired to bake by all of the summer blueberry recipes popping up everyday. They make me think of the summers I had when I was a kid watching my mom and grandmother cook. I remember the summers when my grandmother would make her homemade ice cream and blueberry cobbler, I decided I better get busy making my own baking memories with my kids.


I found many blueberry cobbler recipes that were quick and easy, but Rachel's recipe, from A Southern Fairytale, inspired me to make her version of Blueberry Crisp because it looked tasty and easy enough for the kids to join in and help. Go on over to her blog and see hundreds of great family friendly recipes that will make you excited to cook and bake!



This is how our baking went....




This is a great dessert to end a long day on the trails with fresh hot crispy blueberry goodness!

Serve this piping hot with vanilla ice cream and it will make your heart melt!


We used 3 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries for this recipe but you can use frozen if needed.


You will need (1) stick of butter for this recipe.

Melt 1 tablespoon from a stick of butter and pour into bottom of of the baking dish.



Spread butter evenly to coat bottom and lower sides of the dish.



Pour in (1) 20oz can of crushed pineapple, juice and all!



Spread the pineapple evenly.


Layer 3 1/2 cups of blueberries over pineapple. Do not stir.



Sprinkle evenly a 1/2 cup of brown sugar over the top of the blueberries. 
Do not stir.



Sprinkle 1/2 cup white sugar over the brown sugar. Do not stir.



Sprinkle entire contents of a yellow or golden butter cake mix evenly over the sugar. Do not stir.



Drizzle the remaining stick of melted butter over the top of the dry cake mix. Do not stir.



Sprinkle 1/2 cup of brown sugar over the top of the melted butter. 

I know you get it...do not stir!



Sprinkle 2 cups chopped pecans evenly over the brown sugar.

You are ready to pop it in the oven for an hour.  

Enjoy the blueberry scent as it envelopes your whole kitchen.



Let the dish set for about 5 minutes after removing from the oven.  That will give you time to get out the vanilla ice cream and scoop it into individual dishes to serve with the blueberry crispy cobbler.



Heaven on earth!

This tasty goodness is what life is all about.

Enjoy!



INGREDIENTS:

3 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 can (20oz) crushed pineapples
1 stick of butter (8 Tbsps)
1 box yellow or golden butter cake mix
1 cup brown sugar: separated into two 1/2 cups
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups chopped pecans


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

This recipe is a layering process, do not stir any of the ingredients.

Using a 9X13 baking dish, melt one tablespoon butter and coat bottom of dish evenly with melted butter.  Open one 20 oz can of crushed pineapple and pour pineapples and juice evenly into baking dish.  On top of the pineapple, layer the blueberries evenly, then sprinkle a 1/2 cup of brown sugar. On top of the brown sugar, sprinkle a 1/2 cup of white sugar.  Add the entire contents of the box cake mix layering evenly over the sugar, do not stir. 

Melt the remaining stick of butter and drizzle evenly over the cake mix. Sprinkle 1/2 cup brown sugar over the melted butter.  Evenly layer 2 cups chopped pecans over the brown sugar. 

Slide the baking dish into the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on your oven, take out when the top is browned and bubbling.  You can broil the top for 2-3 minutes prior to removing from the oven for a crispy crunchy topping.

Enjoy! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Proud Mom

My middle-child, Megan, came home from school today walking in with a half-smile on her face and set a card on the kitchen counter.  She never said a word about the card, or anything for that matter, about her day.  She went down the hall and to her room not making a peep.

Shortly after dinner, I again, noticed the card sitting on the counter and picked it up to see what it was and who is was from.  I didn't recognize the handwriting so I opened the flap of the envelope and carefully pulled out the contents.  It was a floral patterned Thank You card, thanking my daughter for her good deed.  "Wait a minute, what deed?" I said to myself.  I had to find  Megan and discover what this was all about!  She hadn't said a word to me! 

[frown] 

I went down the hall towards her room and knocked on the door.  She opened the door, I held up the card so that she could see it, and with a smile on my face, I asked her, "what good deed did you do and not tell me about?"

"Oh Mom it's no big deal." she said.

Then I gave her the look, the kind with one hand on the hip and one foot  tapping the floor that clearly says, you better tell me or else!

"Okay Mom," and she proceeded to tell me the details.

This is how it went....



She went off campus to lunch with her friends and noticed a black cell phone sitting on a lunch table next to her, thinking the person who owned it was refilling a drink or in the bathroom, she ignored it.  About 20 minutes later, her lunch was over with, and the phone was still sitting there with nobody around.  She made the decision to pick it up and see if she could figure out who it belonged to.

Without hesitation, she scrolled through the Contacts List looking for a three lettered name, MOM.  When she found it, she hit Send and called someone's Mom.

'MOM' answered the call, and Megan explained who she was and that she found the cell phone at the lunch place she ate at. She further explained that if it were her cell phone she would want someone to try to return it to her because she knew how expensive new phones were.

Megan decided it was best to take it back to her school and leave it in the office since it belonged to a student that went to her school.  The 'mom' was happy with the decision and planned on picking it up after school.

The next morning at school, an announcement came over the loud speaker into Megan's first hour class requesting that she report to the office.  She immediately thought to herself, "what did I do now?" as she wiggled out of her chair and walked quickly to the office.

Waiting for her on the office counter was a small card with her name written on the front.  She opened the flap of the envelope and carefully pulled out the card and read it.

Dear Megan,

Just a note to thank you for returning my son's phone to a safe place! I am so impressed by your refreshing honesty and I appreciate your kind deed and thoughtful heart.

Warmly, Mrs. Davis


Out of little white envelope dropped a gift card as a thank you for her good deed.  What an especially nice gesture this MOM did to thank a kid for her good deed.



I'm so proud of my daughter for finding the phone, taking the initiative to call the MOM, and arranging to turn it in to a safe place for the MOM to pick up.  

As a parent, it makes me so happy she did the right thing.

As a "mom" it makes my heart happy and grateful.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Great Finds





Vic usually takes Sophia, our 2 1/2 year old, with him early in the morning to check on things around the ranch and get the cowboys working on what they need to work on.  Today he wanted me to go along.  I like staying back so that I can hear myself think, wake-up, drink my coffee, peacefully clean up the morning breakfast dishes and get on my computer without hearing, 

"mommy I want...."
"mommy I need...."
"mommy why...."
  
The look in he gave me made me cave, so I put all of things I like to do aside, and said to myself...

"self, there's always tomorrow"

I got out of my comfy cozy pj's and into something more appropriate for a Ranger ride.  Waving goodbye to my kitchen, computer and alone time, I headed for the back door to make Vic happy.

This is how it went....


First order of business was to check on the bridge.  Bridges don't usually need checking on, but it's a project Vic helped build and he likes to keep a close eye on it to make sure the bolts are tight and whatever else a guy does to make sure a bridge is good.

While he performed his check-up, Sophia and I came upon a really cool piece of wood in the middle of the creek.  It looked like driftwood that you might find washed up on a beach.  I was noticing that it had some creek plants growing on it which looked kind of cool and I was thinking it would be great for an artsy type of sign.   



Vic did find a bold that needed tightening but I distracted him with this piece of wood that I thought was so cool.

Unfortunately for him, I came along on this ride, if I wouldn't have, he wouldn't have had to take his shirt, shoes, and socks off to get this piece of wood out of the middle of the creek for me! 

I do stuff like that to him all of the time, he should be used to it. 




He finally got the piece pulled from the mud and water and stood it straight up for me to look at.  It was beautiful, to me of coarse.



The wood was about 9 feet long and water logged.  It looked perfect to carve into, if I could carve, or to attach metal letters for a sign, if I could do that too, but I can't.

Maybe I should learn?



So in the wood went, right in the back of the Ranger. 

He knows I'm crazy.


Lucy stood by his side watching the mud slinging and water splashing as he loaded up the wood.


My new piece of wood will be something someday, I will show you when it happens.

I promise.


In the meantime, it will be drying out and the creek will be much happier that it's water can flow a little bit faster.


Just another day on the ranch.
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