Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Grandpuppy and the Deer

Jazzie, lounging beside the garden pond

Well, the grandpuppy is all caught up on her shots as of last Friday, so that means her people can come get her anytime. It's always fun to have her here, for she's such a sweet dog and a good morale boost for Bridger. They play chase a lot, a game that Misty finds too undignified for her taste.

I zoomed in with my camera to get this shot. If I'd gone outdoors, Jasmine would have jumped up to meet me.

Later in the evening, Jasmine was lying on the window seat when she started barking like crazy. Of course that got the other two dogs going also, although they didn't know WHY they were barking. Kevin and I walked to the window to see what was going on.
Here's what Jazzie was watching:

 Standing at the edge of the bean field
The deer was actually eating the leaves off the trees

The deer had been walking along the edge of the road and I was afraid it was going to get hit by a car. We made noise to try to get it to run off the road and into the field. 

He finally noticed us.

Kevin and I walked quietly and slowly toward the deer. The photo above was taken just before he decided it would be a good idea to get out of there.

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Monday, May 30, 2011

Strawberries & Cream Handcrafted Soap

My mother's blue bowl filled with fresh strawberries

We've waited a long time for warm weather.  Even the robins were becoming cynical. But now, at long last, summer weather has arrived and everyone is in a planting frenzy. I don't know about you, but there are a few scents that just spell out SUMMER to me. One is strawberries, fresh from the strawberry patch, with the warmth of sunshine still on them. Mmmm!  (Last year I actually had to share a few with the robins. They were sitting on the fence, giving me the eye!)

 Strawberries & Cream Handcrafted Soap

Well, of course that naturally translated to the need for a strawberry soap. Hence was born my Strawberries & Cream handcrafted soap. I love it! With that great strawberry fragrance and the look of strawberry seeds, it makes a delicious soap with a nice lather and a gentleness your skin will appreciate. No harsh chemicals are used in my soaps, and they contain a mild fragrance that's released when the water hits that beautiful, silky bar.

Don't forget Father's Day, June 19!
My top soap suggestions for your hubby, dad or grandpa?

Sandalwood & Vanilla
Into the Woods
Close Shave Vanilla
Grandma's Kitchen
Peppermint Tea
Chocolate Almond Delight

But trust me: there's not a one that wouldn't make a great gift!

See them all at my store, Soap'n'Such
Be sure to check out my Buy Five, Get One Free offer.

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Saturday, May 28, 2011


April showers
Bring May flowers

Or, as in this case, May showers bring May flowers. We're a few weeks behind this year, but it was a delight when Kevin brought this little bouquet of wildflowers in from the windbreak north of the house. Wood violets and springing beauties always cheer me!

'This is the day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!'
-Psalm 118:24

Thanks to Jean from Delightful Repast for the idea of the white fabric background. Check out her blog. Jean always serves a delightful repast!

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Friday, May 27, 2011

B&Bs in England

 Guest house in Cambridge
Travel bag and souvenir

I know that like everything else prices on Guest Houses and B&Bs in England are going up, but it still seems to be a good deal compared to the cost of most hotels. And besides, who wants to stay at a big hotel? The greatest advantage of the B&B or guest house is that you get to interact with the hosts and other guests. In almost every case, that was a very pleasant experience.

The rooms we stayed at all seemed to have some things in common:
(besides a great breakfast in their dining room)
  • Electric teapot
  • Instant coffee and tea and real Cadbury hot chocolate packets
  • Something resembling a cookie
  • TV that gets a couple fuzzy channels (so we felt right at home!)

Bear in mind that we don't travel to England so that we can watch cable TV. I'm just sayin' that even budget B&Bs or guest houses are usually very nice and certainly adequate.

    Our two favorite couch potatoes which we met at a Cirencester B&B
    (The woman was not a couch potato.) 

    Dudley, happily underfoot at breakfast time - at a B&B in Thirsk

    A holiday cottage in Sutton-on-the-Forest

    This was the best deal of all. We rented a cottage for a week and split the cost with our daughter and son-in-law, making the per night cost very low, lower than a budget B&B room. And it was VERY fun.

    From our window at a guest house in Leyburn
    The only thing that could have made this better was to see a sheep in the yard and a castle or abbey in the background.Actually, Bolton Castle is not far away!

    Smiling faces in the barn at a B&B north of Skipton
    Scottish Blackface/Yorkshire cross sheep

    View from the back window at a guest house in Bath

    The big mystery: Not sure what the Brits have against a central spigot.

    I mean, if you need hot water, that's great. If you need cold water, it's there. But when you want to wash your face with 'warm' water, you must race from one faucet to another, alternately scalding or freezing your hands. For me, it always conjures up images of a John Cleese skit.

    Outside the guest house in Cambridge
    This place is so conveniently located, just a quick walk to King's College
    and to the bus terminal.

    Behind the B&B at Thirsk
    Dudley, taking that familiar border collie posture

    Mother and pups at a B&B near Cardington
    (yes, I know you saw that a couple weeks ago, but it gives you a clearer picture of the type of B&B we like to stay at)

     From the window of the guest house in Cambridge

    And in London? A great little B&B/hotel near Victoria Station. Wonderful hosts, 12 teeny rooms, but extremely clean, terrific location, at an unbeatable price. Besides, who goes to London to spend their time in a hotel room anyway? So much to see and do!!

    No dogs - or sheep.

    If only I had known that the Obamas were going to be in London this week! I highly recommend Cherry Court for anyone who's working with a tight budget.

    Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
    Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Planting Soybeans

    The farmer who rents our land is planting soybeans on what used to be my alfalfa field.
    I put this photo in for Brogan and Soren. :-)

    This is the time of year that I wake up about 4 AM, fall asleep for a while, but then can't sleep past about 5:30. If it's not a dog barking, then it's birds singing which I LOVE, and sunshine coming in the window. But that's a good thing, for then I get an early start on my day. Being a morning person, this is especially helpful, for I can get a lot done in the mornings. But it also means that I'm ready to crash about 8:30 PM. My kids know that all it takes is a movie and a fairly comfortable couch to put me to sleep. I've watched lots of  movies, but don't ask me how they end.

    Alfalfa field north of the house, 2010
    Hopefully next year it will be planted to alfalfa again.

    This is going to be the weekend to get the garden in. So far my plants are sitting on the deck and getting covered by sheets at night to keep them from freezing. It only got to 41 degrees last night, but tonight we're expecting close to freezing. I'm not taking any chances. I'll cover them again tonight. The forecast looks like we're good after that. I'm eager to get those plants into the garden.

    Misty, 2010 in afalfa field
    See that spotted tongue of hers?

    I read Ephesians 4 again this morning. I think it's one of those chapters I need to read and re-read and re-read. And not because I fall asleep before the end.

    Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
    Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Sandalwood & Vanilla Handcrafted Soap

    I know. We just get over Mother's Day and you know what's coming up next on the calendar - Yes, Father's Day, June 19. It's not a bad idea to start thinking now about what to give your hubby, Dad, or Grandpa on that special day. If you're looking for something other than the usual, consider handcrafted soaps.

    Although the sandalwood tree is native to Asia, its popularity has spread throughout the world. Sandalwood is used in perfumes, soaps, incense, and wood products. (I think I have some sandalwood incense around here somewhere -  in the back of a dresser drawer, no doubt.)

    My handcrafted Sandalwood & Vanilla's bright fragrance brings you a blend of spice and wood, along with a slight hint of vanilla. Quite delicious, actually, and a soap that anyone will enjoy (if they can pry it out of your fingers, that is.)

    As I've stated before, all of my soaps have a nice lather and because they're made with quality oils, they're also gentle to your skin. 

    Ingredients: Coconut oil, Olive oil, Soybean Oil, Palm oil, Distilled water, Sodium hydroxide, Fragrance Oil

    'Into The Woods'

    Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
    Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

    This post is linked to: Making the World Cuter Mondays
    and Something I Whipped Up Monday
    and Motivate Me Monday
    and Making Monday Marvelous
    and Made from Scratch Tuesday
    and Wandering Wednesday
    and We Did it Wednesday
    and Thrilling Thursday
    and Favorite Things Friday
    and I'm Lovin' it Friday
    and It's a Hodgepodge Friday

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Best Gluten-Free Bread Recipe

    Gluten-free loaves, just out of the oven

    Although the crust of even gluten-free bread is pretty delicious when it's just come from the oven, I've found that I prefer gluten-free bread for toast. It makes a great peanut butter holder. This recipe came from my daughter, and it makes a couple great and crusty loaves. In my opinion, the crustier the better.

    I always let this bread cool completely, then slice it into 1/2 inch slices,  put them in a Ziploc freezer bag, and freeze until I want to use a slice or two. That way I don't waste any bread. Also, I find that it needs to be toasted a long time to get to the golden brown which I like.

    Best Gluten-Free Bread Recipe:

    1 3/4 c. white rice flour
    1/2 c. sweet white sorghum flour
    1 c. tapioca flour
    3 t. xanthan gum
    1 1/2 t. salt
    2 T. sugar

    Mix dry ingredients.
    THEN, melt 2 T butter. In separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 c. warm water with 2 packets of yeast (4 t).
    Stir once, then leave until it gets soft and a little foamy around the edges. Beat three egg whites by hand until they're frothy.
    Turn the oven to 100 degrees.

    Combine butter, yeast mixture, egg whites, and 1 t. apple cider vinegar with the dry ingredients. Stir until just mixed. It will be a bit sticky. Don't expect this to feel like regular gluten bread.

    Cover a jelly roll pan with parchment and put a little corn meal where the loaves will go. Divide the dough in half and shape into two loaves (you can see I'm not so good with fractions. I think that stems from when I was a child and was instructed to give my sister half of my candy.) 

    Lay each loaf onto the pan (make a few slashes in each loaf with a sharp knife) and place in warm oven for 20-25 minutes. It won't rise like gluten bread, but don't worry. In fact, don't open the oven door. 

    Do not remove bread from oven. Instead, just turn the oven to 400 degrees and now set the timer for 35 minutes. 

    Check the loaves at 30, 35, and 40 minutes. They should be golden and when tapped, should sound hollow. In my oven, it took 39 minutes.

    Cool completely before slicing and freezing.

    This is the best gluten-free bread I've ever eaten!

    Thanks for stopping in!


    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    God is my co-pilot

    I know this has been around for a long time, but I saw it again recently and decided that you needed to hear my opinion on it. ;-)

    The first time I saw this bumper sticker, it was on a car which had obviously been in several small accidents - dented fender, broken tail light, duct-taped window, etc.

    And of course, this drives me just crazy!!


    God is nobody's co-pilot.
    God doesn't need a co-pilot.
    God is THE PILOT, the co-pilot, the navigator, the flight attendant, etc.
    I am a passenger.
    My job is to trust Him - to trust that He knows what He's doing, that He will get me to my destination, and that He always knows the best route.

    For those of you who are going through difficult circumstances, I pray that you will not bother to look deep within to find the answers, for there are none there. If we honestly assess what's in our hearts, we tend to find selfishness, greed, pride, resentment, ulterior motives for our 'goodness,' etc.

    Instead, look outward - to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, the only One who can forgive sins, Who takes our sin in trade for His righteousness and give us freedom from guilt, a clear conscience, and an abiding joy.

    He's the Pilot whom we can trust with our present and future.

    Even when there's turbulence.

    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.  -Proverbs 3:5 

    But the lovingkindness of the LORD is to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember His precepts to do them. The LORD has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all.   -Psalm 103:17-19

    Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
    Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    West Tanfield, North Yorkshire

    Beautiful West Tanfield on the River Ure

    View from a former gatehouse, which you see in the first photo on the far left.
    See the pretty bridge in this photo? That's where I stood to get the first pic.

    An entry in Wikipedia states, 'The village has a monument called the Marmion Tower, a 15th century gatehouse which belonged to the now-vanished manor house formerly home to the Marmion family. At first floor level there is a fine example of an oriel window. The Anglican church next to the tower contains monuments to the Marmion family. The tower is now in the care of English Heritage.

    Descending the spiral stone staircase in the gatehouse

    Typical of houses in the area
    I'd love to visit later in the season when there are flowers in those pots and on the trellis!

    The Bull Inn, West Tanfield
    I love pub signs. Next time I'll be taking many more close-up shots of signs!
    I say 'next time,' as in 'next time we have a sound economy, next time gasoline prices have dropped, next time airfare to London or Manchester isn't outrageous.'

    'Very Polite Notice'
    How very British
    My favorite sign read, 'Dogs and well-behaved children are welcome.'  :-)))

    Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
    Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Gardening in Wisconsin

    My body's definitely feeling the consequences of a long and sedentary winter followed by a frantic gardening season. Springtime in NW Wisconsin is about a week long, summer is about three months long, and we can already see next winter on the horizon, so there's no time to waste. Got to purchase perennials, annuals, and vegetable seeds, get the garden planted, and start mowing the grass. I suggested to my husband tonight that we fence in the yard and get goats. He just gave me a look. But doesn't it seem a bit ridiculous to mow all that yard when something could survive by eating it? And then I could make Feta cheese with goats' milk! Yes, I am kidding...kinda.

     As I reached to get the spade so I could transplant strawberries*, I happened to notice a wee little bull snake resting in a warm spot inside a railroad tie next to the house. Doesn't he look comfy - and cute!!

    Zooming out, you can see a few of my garden tools resting against the house. You're right, it's not where they belong, but it's so convenient to have them just outside the door! The red arrow points to...the little bull snake. (He was about as big around as a crayon.) Later, I noticed that he was no longer there. I'm really hoping that he didn't decide to slither into the basement. I'd like him to know that his home is outdoors. We have enough pets in the house.

    And speaking of pets, I took these pics of the dogs today. Lionel and Tuppence were unavailable for a photo shoot.

     Misty, lying close to wherever I am at any given moment. She snores. Loudly.
    When I took this pic, I was sitting at the kitchen counter, checking my e-mail.
    Yes, I know I should purchase a new rug for on top of the dog bed, but she hasn't complained yet.

     Bridger, looking his usual handsome self.
    I've got to take him to the vet next week for his shots. He's 10, and it's getting harder for him to get into the Jeep. I'll have to provide a ramp for him.

    Last, but not least, the visiting grandpuppy.
    She gets a Lyme booster shot next week and then she can go home.

    * From three strawberry plants that I purchased last spring, I now have 30-40 strawberry plants which I'm transplanting into rows.  Next are the raspberries. Since I neglected to wrap the chicken wire fencing around the raspberry patch last fall, the local bunny population survived the winter by eating raspberry canes. I think it's a good time to move new little plants which are coming up to a new location, inside the fenced-in main garden. And I also need to plant some asparagus crowns. Rodents manage to take one or two asparagus plants per winter.

    P.S. The following photo is posted especially for Judy S. who mentioned in a comment that she loves pics of parents reading to kids. Actually, this is Grandpa reading to the boys when they were out last week. I think the book is Tifky Doofky by William Steig. We have several of his books and read most of them to the grandsons while they were with us. Steig's stories are so much fun!!

     Tifky Doofky holds everyone's attention

    Back to the garden.

    Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
    Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such


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