Friday, October 23, 2009

Awesome Autumn Outdoor Displays

Here are some photos of the outdoor autumn displays at Silver Dollar City a few years ago.

Silver Dollar City is one of our favorite places to visit in the fall.

The park is nestled in the rolling hills of the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri.

The park staff always does a terrific job of getting the place all dressed up for fall.

I always dream of my yard looking like this.

It never does, but I remind myself there is always next year.

Hopefully, these photos will inspire you too. Blessings to you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Autumn Sunset

I am participating in Wordless Wednesday this week. Thank you to our hostess Heather over at To see more participants, pay her a visit.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How many cats?

How many cats can you fit into a basket? Just how many cats can crawl in there to snuggle, sleep, wrestle, and even give each other a bath? Do you have a guess?

One, you think.

Two, maybe.

Three. Now you have figured it out!

You can tell the cats to get out of that basket, but they will ignore you.

You can explain to the cats where you got that basket and why you like it, but they won't listen. can accept the fact that they look really cute in that basket, and just marvel at their appreciation for antiques. At least they have good taste.

Furry blessings to you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rich Dessert at a Thrifty Price

I was frugal, when frugal wasn’t cool. I don’t like to waste anything, but I especially don’t like to waste food. There are just too many hungry people in this world for me to feel comfortable throwing away edible food. This belief has meant that occasionally I have to find creative ways to use what we have on hand before it is ruined.

Years ago I had a freezer full of hot dog and hamburger buns. They had been on sale for fractions of a cent each at the day old bread store. I bought lots of them during that summer and stuck them in the freezer. When autumn rolled around, I still had a freezer full of buns. I figured we wouldn't be barbecuing much anymore, so I had to find another way to use up our abundance of frozen buns.

I stumbled upon a recipe for Bread Pudding in one of my cookbooks. The recipe originally called for a loaf of french bread, but I decided to make a bun substitution. In my mind, hot dog buns are alot like french bread, just smaller and softer, so I adapted the recipe. It also calls for a whiskey sauce, but since I don't drink alcohol, I adapted that too.

My family loved it! In fact they like it better than traditional bread pudding, because my version is much lighter. I will warn you though, this is a very rich tasting dessert. It is not low calorie either.

Here is the recipe:

1 pound hot dog or hamburger buns
1 quart milk
3 eggs, beaten slightly
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Break bread into chunks, and put in a large bowl. Add milk, and let soak for 10 minutes. Crush with spoon until well blended. Add eggs, sugar, raisins, and vanilla. Pour butter into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Spoon pudding into pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until pudding is firm. Let mixture cool. Then pour sweet sauce on top.

Sweet Sauce:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk

Combine butter, sugar, and milk in a saucepan. Cook on medium until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

During the holidays it is fun to substitute, craisins (dried cranberries), for the raisins. It gives the pudding a pretty holiday look. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Are you ready?

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been here on the farm. It all started when I decided to clean the carpets downstairs, which required us to empty all the furniture out of the computer room. We had to drag everything into the kitchen so we could get to the carpets in the computer room. Yes, I did actually mean the plural, as in "carpets". There are two carpets stacked on top of each other in there. The house is a rental, so we don't question why things are the way they are, we just ignore them and go on. Once we cleaned the top carpet, we had to carry it upstairs to a bedroom.Then we had to clean the bottom carpet and the rest of the house. Believe me this was a several day project.

Once the carpets were dry, and I could reassemble the computer room, we discovered there was something wrong with the internet, so I couldn't get back to blogland. Boy was I unhappy and grouchy!

When we finally got that fixed, we realized that fall had ended and winter had arrived. This wouldn't have been so startling except for the fact that fall had only been here for a few weeks to begin with. It is already COLD out on the prairie. Winter has arrived about a month and a half earlier than we expected. We got our first frost recently, and it was so heavy it looked like snow. Then a couple of days ago, it began to sleet. I have been working frantically trying to get the house winterized. A more than century old house with little insulation out on the windswept prairie can get colder than you can even imagine during the winter. We learned this the hard way last year. Now I am busy covering over windows and closing up the top floor as we prepare to live in the just the bottom floor of our house. I am hoping to avoid those GIGANTIC energy bills we had last year.

The big dilemma right now is ..... snow blower versus snow blade. The snow here was a huge shock to us last year. We were totally unprepared for the pounding we took from the weather.

Here is what I wrote about it earlier this year:

Winter is hard on the prairie. This was our first winter this far north so we had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be the worst winter here in 30 years! The first snow fell on November 30th. It basically never left for many months. It almost melted a few days later, but it never completely vanished. Then the really nasty part of winter arrived. The temperatures fell and the snow storms began appearing every 2 to 3 days. Our driveway became impassable before Christmas. Going anywhere required me to dig our car out of a snowbank, then shovel a path to the cornfield. Next I had to shovel a path out of the cornfield back to the driveway to actually reach the road. Finally we had to just leave our cars at the end of the driveway and walk the quarter mile to the house through the drifted snow carrying our groceries and other purchases. Eventually that didn't work because our cars wouldn't even start when the temperature fell to (-25) and the windchill was (-40)!

Now you can see why I have been nearly frantic about winter arriving a month and a half early! I am determined to not be trapped and frozen all winter long again, and I don't want to be shoveling snow at 2o degrees below again either. So we are trying to decide if it is best to buy a snow blower that you push or a snow blade that you put on your lawn mower. Part of our dilemma is the fact that we don't want to spend too much money for something that we may only use for one season. My husband's employer is so unpredictable that by next winter we could be living somewhere deep in the heart of Texas, hence an expensive snow blower would just be a waste of money and something else taking up space in the garage.

If you have ever purchased or used a snow blower or a snow blade, I could use your help. Please give me your opinion on which you think works best and any particular brands that work well or should be avoided. Thanks. Hopefully I will be done covering windows and moving to the warmer part of the house soon, so I can return to blogland. In the meantime, blessings to you and I hope you are staying warm wherever you are.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Following the Trail

I am sorry that I have been absent from blogland for a little while now. I have certainly missed reading your stories and seeing your beautiful photographs. I just have been so busy down on the farm. Having boxes stacked all around the house makes me feel stressed, so I have been trying to get more of them unpacked. We have also been trying to complete some preparations for winter. The weather forecaster here actually warned us of a possible frost last night! But mostly I have been working on a genealogy project. Once I get started, I don't want to stop.

My genealogy search actually began many years ago. It was my freshman year of college, and I had to write a paper about three generations of my family for my American History class. This meant that I had to leave my big city university and travel back, deep into the Ozark Mountains to interview my father and grandmother. I had a long list of questions prepared to ask them. I already knew what many of their answers would be, but some of them surprised me. We kept running into one road block though. There was one particular relative that no one knew much about. He was a tall, dark, handsome, quiet young man who just showed up in a rural Ozarks community one day. His surname was my maiden name. No one knew where he had come from originally or even who he really was. My father and I decided that we would make researching him our summer project. Unfortunately, that never happened. My father died just a few short weeks later. In my grief, I packed away my notes and forgot about them. It was just too painful to remember.

Time passed. I moved frequently. My boxes got moved thousands of miles. Some got lost. Eventually the notes disappeared.

Years later I attended a genealogy workshop at work. I discovered that the husband of another lady there had relatives from the same isolated Ozarks village who had the same last name as mine. We were long lost cousins! This was the catalyst I needed. The time had come for me to begin my genealogy search. I went home and looked for those notes. They were nowhere to be found. Eventually I gave up again.

Then when we moved the next time , I opened up a long ago packed box and guess what I saw. Inside was that old, tattered notebook filled with yellowing pages of genealogy information. I have no idea how it got in there. As I reread my hastily scribbled notes I saw my grandmother's sweet smile, and I heard the depth of my father's laughter. For that moment, they were with me again.

Their clues started me down a path of learning where I had come from. I soon realized that my ancestors were simply ordinary people living ordinary lives but with extraordinary courage and passion. I discovered my beautiful great-great aunt who died far too young while in childbirth, and her devoted husband who died shortly thereafter simply from grief. I found my great-great grandfathers who fought in the same Civil War battle, on opposite sides. And I learned about the widowed, middle aged great-great-great-grandmother of mine with a house full of kids, who pulled up stakes and settled land in her own name with nothing more than her two bare hands and her sharp wit. I saw how the threads of their individual lives had been woven together to create a family. My family.

Today their examples guide me. Their courage inspires me. And their love surrounds me. Their stories have become My story. In finding them, I am finding pieces of myself.

And there is still so much more to discover. I have yet to solve the mystery of who the tall, dark, handsome, quiet young man really was. So, if I go missing from blogland for awhile again, don't worry. I am probably just walking with my great-great grandfather down a "Trail of Tears". I will be listening and learning from his story of how a people can endure the unendurable and find life and joy on the other side. There is still so much for him to teach me.

If you have never looked for your story in the past before, I encourage you to begin today. Your ancestors have left you clues. Simply follow their trail.

(P.S. The photos are my parents.)

Blessings to you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Barn kittens gone wild

In my humble opinion, there are few things in life cuter than kittens. These are photos of a litter we had on the farm in the past. We have some new kitties right now, but they are not quite ready for their debut with the paparazzi.

Cats are a blessing on the farm because they cut down on the rodents, plus they are just so darn cute! I love to pick up the kittens and cuddle them because it is like holding a tiny puff of fur with big, beautiful, blue eyes.

I even enjoy watching them make their mischief. They are constantly climbing into places they shouldn't be or wrestling with each other. The litter in these photos decided they should move from the barn into a storage shed so that they could be closer to the yard to play with dogs, and closer to the house with the people who snuggle you and give you kitty treats. Pretty smart kitties wouldn't you say!

Life just seems right when there are kittens on the farm.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fall fun in my neighborhood

Here are some photographs of fun fall displays at the neighbors. These are country neighbors, which means that they don't live right next door, just somewhere in the area. In the country, you are just so glad to have anyone near you that even folks living miles away count as neighbors.

Many years ago, long before we arrived on the prairie, our neighbors started selling fruits and vegetables retail to the public. Through the years their business has grown. They no longer have just a roadside stand. In fact, we refer to them as the "Disneyland of Agriculture." Any way you can think of for having fun on the farm is available there. Kids can pick apples, go on a hayride, wander through a cornmaze, feed farm animals, and even play on a playground. Meanwhile, adults can get an apple donut or fritter hot from the bakery or drink some cider so sweet that you will swear someone just stuck a straw in an apple. Best of all, for the ladies there is shopping, lots of it. They have a giant warehouse filled to the rafters with country style seasonal home decor. Anything you might need for fall decorating is available here. (Guess where all my extra pocket change gets spent this time of year.)

The designers here do a wonderful job displaying the merchandise and decorating the store. I just love browsing the building and looking for decorating ideas. They are so nice that they don't even mind if I bring my camera along, so I took a few photos recently. I am sorry that the photos aren't clearer. Unfortunately they don't capture the true beauty of this place either. It is packed with wonderful merchandise.

I admit that I go over there at least once (sometimes twice) a week to see what is new. You see, they even have a clearance area which often has wonderful items at a fraction of their retail cost. It is like getting things at thrift store prices, except all of it is new.

I wish all of you could visit there with me. We would have a fun day eating our way through the bakery and cafe, then shopping until our carts were overflowing. If I ever win the lottery, I will fly all of you in and we will have a grand day in my neighborhood. Blessings to you and enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Foggy sunset on the Prairie

Now don't get me wrong, I will always be a little mountain girl. I grew up in the beautiful rolling hills of the Ozarks surrounded by giant trees and abundant water. That will always be my vision of what heaven must look like. The lush greenery of forest and field there brings joy to my soul, but the sunsets just can't match those of the prairie.

Here the sky is huge and unobstructed. Almost every night it seems ablaze as the sun creeps below the horizon for its' nightly rest. Vivid pinks and peaches burst forth and cast a rosy hue on all that they touch. It seems like each evening is a masterpiece waiting to be born. It is especially beautiful when the fog is rolling in. A hush seems to fall upon the world as it slips into a restful slumber. I marvel anew at God's handiwork.

I encourage you to make time today to recognize the beauty in your midst wherever it may be.

Blessings to you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thrifty Finds

Today dear hubby and I went thrifting. This can be fun or not, depending on how fast he gets hungry and tired. I agreed to stop for breakfast before we began, so it turned out to be a fairly good day, especially because I got some great bargains.

At our first thrift stop I got some napkins in fall colors. They appear to be brand new and were only $1.00 each. We hit the jackpot at our next thrift store though. I found a beautiful basket, which I think is handmade.

I also got this cute little pumpkin.

But the real find of the day was this old sewing box full of vintage goodies. Look what I found inside. (These photos show only a fraction of the contents.)

There are vintage scissors which will be beautiful for decorating.....

And wonderful old thimbles.....

I also found buttons inside. Loose buttons......

And buttons on cards......

There are many cards of old hooks and eyes......

And snazzy old snaps.....

I found lots of thread on spools and cones.....

The sewing basket contained a box of bobbins.....

I also found rolls of ribbon, packages of needles, and boxes of vintage Singer sewing machine attachments! There was even a roll of litmus paper included in case I need to do any scientific experiments. (Don't you just wonder what that was doing in there.)

The most amazing thing is that all this sewing goodness only cost me $2.50. My total for the sewing box, pumpkin, and handmade basket was only $4.18 including tax. On the way to the car my husband asked me if I shouldn't go back and just hand over more cash to the store because he thought buying that much stuff for such a low price might be immoral.

I was feeling so good about my new treasures that I didn't really even mind what happened next. I asked hubby to drive us to the other Goodwill store in town. We made our way through traffic and headed to the GW. All of a sudden my husband flipped on his blinker and headed to the turn lane. I started yelling at him that this wasn't the way to the thrift store. He sheepishly grinned and apologized, admitting that he had forgotten about the GW when he saw the meat market and thought about all that meat inside there. "Not yet", I scolded him. "We have to finish finding the bargains. Then you can buy some beef." What is it with men and food! I can thrift store shop all day long and never once stop to eat. That just slows me down and might make me miss a bargain.

So my husband drove on to the last thrift store. We found a few things there including a pottery bowl for $1.49 and a new book of children's stories for $1.00. While we were shopping I overheard another married couple having a heated conversation. The wife was trying to explain to her husband that thrift stores were not like garage sales and you couldn't negotiate the price with the cashiers.

I snickered and got in line to check out. The wife got in line behind me. Just when I reached the register, the husband comes racing up to the register and cuts me off. He asks the cashier to ring him up. I just looked at the cashier and smiled indicating that I didn't care that he had cut in front of me. But then the man wouldn't give the cashier the merchandise. He just wanted to hold up the stuff and tell her how much he thought it should cost. She nicely took the merchandise from the man, rang it up and bagged it. When she gets done and tells the man the total, it turns out he doesn't have any money. He turns to his wife, who is politely waiting behind me in line and yells out, "Honey, come up here. They need to ring up your stuff too, and you need to pay for everything." Now his wife is really mad, because now everyone knows she is with him. She rips into him about being a line cutter and not paying attention to anyone around him . It was seriously all I could do not to laugh out loud. I told the lady to just go ahead of me and not worry because I wasn't in that big of a hurry anyway. I looked at my husband, and he just smiled because he knew we were on our way to buy beef soon.

That poor man was clearly a novice thrifter. He still has lots to learn. I wish his wife good luck and lots of patience. I wondered though, should I tell her that in the future a hot donut and the promise of some red meat can make the day much better for both husband and wife.

Blessings to you and happy thrifting.