Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Special Valentines Sale - Natural Vegan Soap

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As always, it's Buy any 5 or more, Get another FREE. But until midnight on February 7, there's also a 10% discount on every order, when you use the code HEART17 at checkout.

Think Valentine's Day!


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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Gluten-Free Apricot Kringler, T&S Literary Society

Do you ever get really hungry for something, but you just don't know what it is? Well, I saw the jar of apricot preserves in the pantry and knew just what I wanted. Kringler, but with an apricot filling.

I've made this Swedish Kringler recipe many times, but never with a fruit filling. Oh was this good! So I'm going to share the recipe. Although gluten-free flour doesn't act like regular flour, it works perfectly fine, as long as you don't have rigid expectations (for how the flour works. The expectations you might have for taste are met fully and deliciously!)


Crust: Place 1 c. gluten-free flour (mine was Krusteaz, which is used cup for cup like regular flour) along with 1/2 c. butter (cut into slices) into the food processor. Pulse about 30 times, then pour that into a large bowl.  With a fork, stir in 3 T. cold water. Press into two long flat strips about 4" wide each, onto a jellyroll pan that has been sprayed with a non-stick vegetable spray. This part is a little tricky, but keep a bowl of cold water on hand so you can dip your fingers into it. Water will keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. If it ends up too wet when you're done, you can blot it with a paper towel. Each strip will be 11-12 inches long.

Note: This is NOT difficult, it's just that it takes me a long time to tell it!

Now:  Spread apricot preserves generously onto the crust, leaving a good half inch to the edge so it won't escape the strips and end up burned on the pan.

Third layer:  In a large sauce pan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Stir in 1/2 cup of butter until melted. Whisk in 1 c. flour. With regular flour, you would take it off the burner as soon as the flour starts to leave the side of the pan. This didn't happen with GF flour. SO, keep stirring as it gets hotter. It will become more the consistency of pudding. 

Stir constantly on low to medium heat until it becomes quite thick, thick enough to spread (not runny.). 

Then whisk in three eggs, one at a time, and 1 t. almond extract along with 1/2 t. vanilla extract.

The lighting was bad. Sorry.

Spoon this thickened mixture onto the two apricot-covered strips on the pan. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 49 minutes until the top is golden and when you tap it with your finger, it makes a hollow sound.

Cool on a rack, then slice, and pour yourself a cup of coffee to go with it. It's possible that tea will work as well, but coffee is my personal recommendation. :-)

You won't regret this.

But it would be a good idea NOT to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Note: If it tastes too eggy, then it's been underbaked. If it's not incredibly moist and delicious, then it's been overbaked.

Recipe, quick recap:

          1/2 c. butter
          1 c. flour,
          3 T. cold water
          Mix and divide in half and pat into 2   11-12" strips on jellyroll pan.
2nd layer:
          Spread appx. 1/2 c. apricot preserves onto crust strips.
3rd layer:
          1 c. flour
          1/2 c butter
          3 eggs
          1 c. water
          1 t. almond extract
          1/2 t. vanilla extract

Bring butter and water to boil and stir in flour. Stir until it thickens. Beat eggs in one at a time. Whisk while cooking until mixture is very thick and spreadable. Whisk in flavors. Spread evenly over apricot layer and bake 350 degrees for 49 minutes until crust is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. 

Tommy & Smokey Literary Society
They're not sure how they feel about Graham Oakley's church mice books.



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Friday, January 27, 2017

Bits of This and That

 A favorite granary and silo south of Bloomer, WI

I'm still working on sorting, organizing, and pitching. It's a slow and grueling task, believe me, especially since we've been in the same house for 28 years. Little by little. I'm writing down goals for each day and hoping to get through it eventually.

 Green. Such a beautiful color and one I'm especially missing these winter days.

I'm looking forward to a day spent with Mr. C. in St. Paul. It's nice to take a little break away from the usual scenery (as beautiful as that is). 

 A few winter pics, some of which you might have already seen.

And two of my constant companions:

Like little kids everywhere, Tommy & Smokey just love knock-knock jokes!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 May of 2016

Linking to Eileen's Saturday's Critters
and Tom's Barn Collective
and Maggie's Mosaic Monday

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hodgepodging Gilligan's Island

January 15.
Back in the days when the sun shone.
A house in central Wisconsin

Join Joyce and the Gang

She writes the questions
We write the answers.
Plug them into your own blog post
and join in!

1. "The cure for anything is salt water-tears, sweat, or the sea." (Isak Dinesan) Would you agree? Of the three, which has 'cured' you most recently? 

I don't agree, because I think the cure for so many things is forgiveness. But I suppose if I have to choose one, I'd say that 'sweat' would probably be the most recent cure for...the winter blues that really hit me hard this year. I don't remember getting so sick of winter as fast as I have this year. I am ready for sunshine and warm weather and 


 Remembering my favorite month: 
On our hill in May of last year

BUT -  Having a nearly impossible project (downsizing, cleaning out 27 years worth of accumulated stuff) is making all the gray days somewhat more tolerable. And, of course, any day that I'm able to actually get outdoors and walk on dry blacktop roads is so encouraging. Walking indoors in a mall is incredibly boring, whereas walking in the neighborhood in the brisk air is so refreshing - and just what I need.

 A favorite thing - walking outdoors
Photo from November.

Photo taken from the bottom of our driveway, last week.

2. What's something you can't eat without salt? Do you normally salt your food a lot, a little, or not at all? 
I salt my food 'a little.' I could probably eat almost everything without salt, because I'm not a salt lover. 

3. Sands of time, bury your head in the sand, built on sand, or draw a line in the sand...which sandy phrase could best be applied to something in your life right now? 
Definitely not a 'bury your head in the sand' kind of person, I like reason behind what I think and do, so not 'built on sand,' and I don't enjoy confrontation, so not 'draw a line in the sand.' That leaves 'the sands of time,' and since I've lived a very long time, that one would most likely apply.

4. A favorite book, movie, or song with an island setting or theme? 

I loved the movie Island at War about the German occupation of one of the Channel Islands and the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but my first thought when I hear 'island' is Gilligan's Island (a three hour tour a three hour tour). I still remember the theme song and almost all the theme songs from the late 1950's and early 1960's Saturday morning cartoons. 

'The biggest show in town is Huckleberry Hound, for all you guys and gals...'

'Yogi Bear is smarter than the average bear, Yogi is always in the ranger's hair...'

See?  Any many more in my repertoire, but I'll spare you.

5. Yesterday-did you run your day or did it run you? How so?

Unlike many days lately, yesterday was very productive, so I'd say that I ran the day. I got lots done, and that is such a good feeling. Both pantries and the dishes cupboards are clean and organized (with lots of extra stuff either ready to go to GoodWill or pitched). I know that the key now is to get it OUT of the house, not let it sit on the library table until I think I really might need it again...sometime...in the next 25 years.

A good friend reminded me of that, btw.  And here we are together at coffee: (and no, neither of us is nearly 6' tall.)

Friends for over 40 years
Deb (l), me (r)

6. You're on an island holiday. Will I most likely find you parked in a beach chair, shopping in town, on the back of a jet ski, or snorkeling off the back of a catamaran?

I would be parked on a beach chair with my Kindle, cell phone, a notebook and pen, a large bottle of water, and one of Carla's lemon bars. :-)

7. What do you think we humans most take for granted?

Especially in the United States, I think we take life for granted.

 "For it was you who formed my inward parts;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
    My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
    all the days that were formed for me,
    when none of them as yet existed. 
 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them! 
 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
    I come to the end—I am still with you."
from Psalm 139

8. Insert your own random thought here.

At last: The perfect use for a laundry basket!

Tommy & Smokey
January 24, 2017

 October 28, 2016


And maybe, just maybe, if I remember to do it, this post will be linked to:


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hodgepodging The Hundred Acre Woods

Sunset over a farm on Highway 29, Sunday

Join Joyce and the Gang

She writes the questions;
we write the answers.
Plug them into your own blog post
and join in!

1. ASAP typically stands for 'as soon as possible'. What else could it stand for in your life right now?

All Subjects Are Pending.

 It's typical in central Wisconsin for silos to have concrete tops.
Around here, they're usually domed or conical steel.

The top of our silo in May

Amish silo, nr. Cashton, WI
although Amish silos in our neck of the woods are the same.

2. Are you the last person to speak up in a group or the first to have an idea? Why do you suppose that is? Is it a good thing or no?

I always have ideas. I'm not saying they're good, but just that they always spring to mind, whether I want them to or not. I would rather discuss something and find that I'm wrong than not to talk about it at all. 

Hartland Town Hall
Where people of Hartland township go to vote, evidently

3. What do you remember best about being 12?

I remember riding my horse Shammar, playing football, building forts,camping at the creek with the neighbor kids, ice skating at the patch of ice in a low spot in the field down the road, and generally spending as much time as possible outdoors doing fun stuff. Otherwise, I'd be in the house dusting furniture or trying to find the floor in my bedroom or in the garden pulling weeds.

 This could be me.
Well, if I were a lot younger, really cute,
and had a darling little daughter who will turn 3 in March.

4. January 18th is National Winnie the Pooh Day. Which character do you relate to the most, and why? If you're stumped go here for inspiration.

I think I'm a combination of Winnie the Pooh and Rabbit. Which means what - that I want to manage the honey pot? So I'm not sure, but I can tell you that in all three Jane Austen quizzes I'm Elinor Dashwood. And I'm Mary Poppins in the Disney characters quiz. Just in case you were wondering.

Mural I painted on our youngest son's wall
when he was little.

5. What's an app you use that helps simplify or make life easier for you in some way?

I like My Fitness Pal, which easily scans and tallies calories and nutrition. It's also been a very neglected app since before Christmas. But the upside to that is that the jeans that were just swimming on me in early December are now nice and snug. :-)  :-((

Sunset, a few minutes later

6. San Francisco (CA), San Diego (CA), San Juan (PR) San Antonio (TX) Sanibel (FL)...you have an all expenses paid long weekend to one of these destinations. Which one do you choose and why?

I would definitely choose San Diego. I've been to San Francisco also, but San Diego is wonderful and I'd like that all-expenses trip there right now, to escape a weekend of snow and cold.

Transporting logs

7. Share with us a song that makes you feel nostalgic? For what?

Several classical music pieces remind me of homeschooling our kids to a background of classical music. OR many British mystery theme songs which remind me of the Thursday evenings we watched PBS Mystery and shared a Bounty bar (like Mounds but thicker dark chocolate).

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Just a pic of the kitties, because I know you are dying to see them! :-)

I lay down on the [single] bed for a few minutes to check my email (on my phone) and take a quick nap, and by the time I got ready to pull the blanket over myself, you-know-who(s) had appropriated it and I didn't have the heart to take it away. The photo makes it look like Tom K. is squishing Smokey, but they are actually snuggled up side by side, not leaving a lot of room for me.


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Right: All-Natural Defense
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Friday, January 6, 2017

A Trip to the Vet Clinic


Today's the day: Tommy gets tutored. Collage above, in order of his age, starting at the lower right and going clockwise:

Shortly after the three kittens appeared on our deck.

Tommy balancing on the stack of baskets.

Tommy taking a snooze.

Tommy when I announced yesterday that he had an appointment with the vet.

Resignation: I found Tommy in the laundry basket, practicing for the time spent in the kitty carrier to and from the vet. 


Don't look too smug, Smokey. You're next. (although we're still waiting for her to reach three pounds.)

 (Gary Larson)

I set it in the sunshine, put a snuggly bed in it,
and ignored it. Good boy, Tommy!
And off we go!

Linking to Mosaic Monday

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hodgepodging a New Year

Sunrise, December 30, 2016
View from the front porch

Join Joyce and the Gang

 She writes the questions;
we write the answers.
Plug them into your own blog post
and join in!

1. Share one favorite moment/memory from your Christmas holiday.

My very favorite moment from Christmas and New Year's is when everyone has finally arrived and the family is all together. My next favorite moment is watching the last person drive down the driveway as they leave. I don't really mean that, well, maybe kinda.  It's the curse of the introvert. :-)

Three - Two - One - GO!!
Grandkids sledding down our hill
Neighbor Bill's farm (the subject of many IG pics)
in the background

He made it to the bottom without falling off!

2. What was the best thing you ate over the holidays? Was it homemade or store bought? If it was homemade did you make it?

Probably the best thing I ate was one of those Andes Mints cake balls I talked about in my last post. Definitely homemade and definitely won't make them again for a long time. They were delicious, but I don't dare keep stuff like that in the house. Mr. C. doesn't have a sweet tooth, so you-know-who feels the responsibility to eat it. You know, to get it out of the house.

Itty Bitty Pastries
made with butter, cream cheese, flour, powdered sugar
and jam. Two inch squares, pinched together at the corners
so they can all come apart in the oven and be a real mess.
But they tasted good.
3. What was one of the most beautiful things you saw over the holidays?

The most beautiful thing for me always is seeing the grandchildren playing together. The least beautiful thing was Irvine Park Christmas Village with 60,000 lights and displays when you arrive before dark. Definitely diminishes some of its charm.  So we went and hung out at Leinie's Lodge in Chippewa Falls until it got dark and then tried again. MUCH better. Next year we will arrive at 6:30 PM rather than 5:00 PM. And we will walk through, rather than drive through.

On the way to Chippewa Falls
Car rides affect me the same way.

Killing time until it got DARK 
Leinie's Lodge: The place to loiter if you want to stand next to a beautiful fireplace while you're waiting for it to get dark outside, or if you want to purchase one of a zillion items that have the name 'Leinenkugel's' engraved or printed on it. Why?

4. What does fresh start mean to you?

Mostly, a fresh start reminds me of God's mercies, new every morning, which is a wonderful, reassuring thought. God holds no grudges. Lamentations 3:22-23:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end; 
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

 I have no idea what our son is doing to our grandson in this photo, 
but you've seen monkeys grooming one another, right? LOL

5. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being very positive and 1 being not so great) how would you rate 2016 in terms of personal achievement and well being? Explain.

A seven. I was hoping to be snowshoeing this winter. Maybe after my checkup in late February.

The bulldozer. Still in our field.
The snow has an icy crust.

6. Every January 1st since 1976 Lake Superior University has published a list of words they'd like to see banished from the Queen's English. Words may be banished due to misuse, overuse, or just general uselessness. Go here to read more about how the words were chosen or, if you're like me, to find out what in the world the word or phrase even means or the context in which it's used. There were quite a few on this year's list I'd never heard before.

Here's the 2017 list of banished words-

You, Sir-focus-Bete Noire-Town Hall Meeting-Post Truth-guesstimate-831-historic-manicured-echo chamber-on fleek-bigly-ghost-Dadbod-listicle-get your dander up-selfie drone-frankenfruit-disruption

Which word on the list would you most like to see banished in 2017? What word or phrase would you add to the list?

'You' is a banished word?? And many of the others I'd never heard. I guess they haven't made their way to deepest, darkest, coldest northern Wisconsin. Usually I could name a few words or phrases that annoy me, mostly because people overuse them. This year I can't think of any. 

 Stop me if I've already shown you this photo.

7. Large or small, light or deep, share with us one goal you have for the new year.

Kayaking. Sometime after the ice melts.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

 Tuppence, lounging on the sofa during 'Poirot.'
A photo, lest you think I've abandoned all affection for her.
It's hard to tell where cat ends and blanket begins, 
but it's mostly sweet old cat.

Thank you, Joyce, for always putting together this Hodgepodge of questions for us.


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