Monthly Archives: October 2014

Cooking For The Ranch Crew ~ Part 1: The Menu

Does your job include cooking for the ranch crew? Mine does, sometimes. :) I was not raised on a ranch, cooking for the crew, but I had the blessing of being taught to cook by a mom who was raised Amish. I was raised in a Mennonite home, myself, and let me tell you; a Mennonite Sunday dinner is some of the best food you’ve ever eaten! 😉 Ok, maybe I am a bit prejudiced…

the menu

Anyways. Here you are, your boss wants you to cook for 12 men and you have no idea what to cook. Let me just say that you better serve beef. if you are on a ranch in the American West, I can almost guarantee they will want beef. Maybe pork will get by, but chicken probably won’t. Once our boss bought some fried chicken and put it on the table for a joke.
Yep. It’s that much of a joke around here! 😀

How to cook for the ranch crew, Part 1: The Menu

Hurried photo because 25 cowboys were waiting! ;)

First, you need a menu. I usually pick a type of beef first, then work around that. A typical menu for me is  something like this:
Beef Roast
Mashed Potatoes

Green Beans
Broccoli Salad
Jello Salad
Dinner rolls
Homemade Pies
with ice cream.

Yes, I know that is a lot of food! But these guys are hungry! They usually get up before the sun on these cattle-working days. They catch, saddle and trailer their horses to our ranch. Then they ride out a couple miles, round up and bring in several hundred head of cows, then sort, vaccinate or load them. By lunch, they can put away lots of  food! :) It is satisfying, really. They don’t care if I forget the salt or the potatoes are lumpy. (Or they are just too polite to mention it.) Anyways, I figure two normal serving per person, when I am cooking for the ranch crew!

How to cook for the ranch crew, Part 1: The Menu

Can I just point out something to y’all here? The only people wearing hats inside the house here are: A woman, and a man who was not ranch-raised. I was raised with old-fashioned manners. Can I just say that if you eat in my house I want that hat off, ok? Thank you. ;)

OK, now go make your menu.
Step 1: Choose your meat. Think of a cut of meat you are comfortable making. I love roast, because it can be in the oven on low all night, then you just have to keep it warm till noon. It can sit in there for awhile without causing any damage.

Step 2: Choose your vegetable. Peas, beans, corn, whatever you like.

Step 3: Choose your salad. I like salads that have the dressing already on them, like broccoli salad or layered lettuce salad, but any salad will work. It likely won’t be the star of the show anyways, just sayin’. Don’t spend all day on the salad. 😉

Optional step 4: Choose a jello salad. This is entirely up to you, but they will probably like this better than the green salad, ok. 😉

Step 5: Bread. Some kind of bread, whether it is biscuits, dinner rolls, cornbread, anything. Preferably fresh from the oven.

Step 6: Choose your dessert. Pies, cobblers, cakes, cookies, cheesecakes… they love it all. But be warned; they may take a second (third?) helping of beef instead of dessert. Yes, this happens frequently, and no, I am not offended. That just means me and the kids can pig out be rewarded with the leftovers later. 😉

Have fun making your menu! And I’ll be back soon with the cooking help…

I am a Dreamer.

Photo credit: Franklin Schrock

Photo credit: Franklin Schrock

Beneath all the common sense, beneath the practicality and beneath the dependability – I am a dreamer. I have ordinary, common dreams…

get out of debt,
be more organized
exercise more

I have personal dreams…

finish that book
rewrite that other book
remember my friends’ special days better
save money for a vacation with my husband

Then there are those big dreams. The ones I dare not breathe out, for fear someone will freeze them with the cold breath of reality. Those dreams I rarely speak of, the ones I guard inside my heart. They are nestled in close beside my past heartbreak and my fears of the future. Those feelings one doesn’t speak of, you know. Or at least Christians don’t speak of them. Because we are better than that. Aren’t we?! We have a Hope and a Future. We  have a God who wipes away all tears. We know that perfect love casts out fear – therefore, If I fear – I must not be doing it right.

What if feelings aren’t all that important? What if our action were the Most Important Thing, and we learned that our feelings would come trotting along behind once we obeyed Jesus’ commands?I am a dreamer

What if perfect love comes along with the rest of our perfection – on that day when we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is?  What if He is going to wipe away all tears once we see Him – but not down here? (Isaiah 25:8, 1 John 3:2)

What if we exhaled and softy breathed out our dreams to each other? What if we confessed our fears, and whispered our needs, and then found out that we all cared and loved about each other, more than we thought? I am a dreamer

Yes, I am a dreamer. I dream big dreams…
…Of my children being passionate followers of Jesus Christ.
…Of my marriage becoming even better.
…Of encouraging other mamas in this hard place called motherhood.
…Of showing people that Jesus really does have all the answers, and that the Life He sets before us is worth every drop of sweat and every tear you shed, but it won’t be easy. 
…That true Christians are called to stand up for their faith in this twisted and sick world that is full of half-truths and lazy Christians and white-washed tombs.
…That you really are For or Against every hot-button issue in this world, because if you’re not – God will spit you out, because everyone hates a lukewarm cup of coffee. 

Oh my friends. I have dreams. Big dreams. Dreams that I have no way of seeing fulfillment of, or knowing how in the world God could even use me to be a tiny cog in the works.

But I am a dreamer. And I will not hold my dreams guarded anymore. Reality may have knocked me down, but I’m getting back up. I am a child of the God of the Universe, and I will not be silent.Dream big dreams

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone ~ by Jay Milbrandt

This book presents the life of David Livingstone in a unique, factual, yet captivating way. It highlights the hardships Livingstone endured on his quest to free Africa from all slave trade, and to open trade routes for English trade goods. His dogged persistence to geological surveys and calculations was amazing. I was fascinated with his adventures, as well as saddened by the flaws in character that most biographies just gloss over.


Mr. Milbrandt tells clearly of Livingstone’s hard work, selfless foot-journeys and meticulous geological observations in Africa. He notes the fact that although Livingstone was sick for weeks and weeks with malaria, he still wrote: “People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege.”

Wow. I have an easy life in comparison, and how often do I complain? What an amazing fortitude and passion! But still, there is the accounts of how he would go for weeks (weeks!) without talking to his boat crew, not even answering their questions! How he was so grumpy and taciturn that his crew deserted him.

I had to think; you can put someone on a pedestal and idolize them and copy their life, but even the ‘great’ missionaries were not perfect. ‘The Daring Heart of David Livingstone’ shows a clear picture of not only the great sacrifices he made, but also the personal quirks, family issues, and the true reason for Livingstone’s journeys to Africa. It wasn’t to convert the natives, either. He had a different reason.
If you love missionary stories, I encourage you to read this one and learn some new facts about his life.

Check it out:

I would caution youth under age 16, as it has some graphic violence in it. (slave trade, you know)


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Shipping Season on the Ranch.

shipping on the ranch

There is a chill in the air, and the darkness of predawn is dotted with the lights from pickups coming in the long dirt road. The pickups are each pulling a horse-trailer, loaded with a  couple of saddled horses. They pull up to the barn, which is lit up inside, as the cowboys saddle their horses for the day. They newcomers stand in a bunch outside their pickups and chat while they wait for the sun to rise and the horses to be saddled. shipping on the ranch

shipping on the ranch

After a consultation with the cowboss, they mount up and ride out. The morning sun shines golden through the yellowing leaves of the cottonwood trees, and the breeze is picking up a bit. They gather the cows and calves, bring them to the corrals, and start loading the waiting semi’s.

Shipping: When we sort off all the calves that were born in the spring, and sell them.
 The cows are already bred to have another calf next spring, and we start the process all over.

shipping on the ranch

Brady Price bringing up the rear.

shipping on the ranch

Neighbors and hired hands.

shipping on the ranch

Bringing the stragglers down the alley.

shipping on the ranch

Cattle trucks waiting to be filled.

shipping on the ranch

Just another day at the office…. :)

shipping on the ranch

shipping on the ranch

Takin’ a nap while waiting.

shipping on the ranch

Fall is beautiful on the ranch!

Meanwhile, I am in the house, cooking, cooking, cooking! :) These men are hungry by the time noon rolls around, and I like to have plenty of good food ready.
We sure appreciate the help from the neighbors during shipping, and we return the favor when they ship their calves. The ranching community is very neighborly and wonderful. I consider myself blessed. :)

What’s happening in your part of the country these days?

CK Custom Leather Spotlight ~ Batwing Chaps


My husband has been working on this pair of custom batwing chaps for a few weeks now. He finished them last week. They are a unique mix of styles, reflecting the diverse tastes of Wyoming cowboys. :) I thought they turned out exceptionally well. batwing chaps batwing chaps batwing chaps batwing chapsFeel free to contact my husband; Cliff, via his Facebook page:  

Or email: ckcustomleather (at) yahoo (dot) com


A letter for new mamas…

dear new mama

Hi there, sweet new mama!

You are tired aren’t you? You might be a little under the weather with a cold or a headache. Probably because you are sleep-deprived. You might even wish you could drop off that bundle of sweet grumpiness at your mom’s house for the day so you could curl up in your cozy bed and SLEEP!!! Forget shopping, forget cleaning – just blissful, uninterrupted sleep! …oh, but on your way home, don’t forget to swing through a fast food joint, because you will be starving – thanks to the little cutie-milk-guzzler! (sucks the life right outta ya, I’m tellin’ ya!)

And perhaps – just possibly, under the cover of darkness, during that 2 am feeding… you know, the one where you are afraid you might drop the baby because your eyelids feel pasted shut and no matter how many times you shake your head, they won’t stay open? Yeah. That one… If you are perfectly honest, you may have even wondered “why in the world was I so excited about a baby?!!” 

It happens. You are not wrong for being exhausted, worn out, and fighting discouragement. Keep fighting. It is so hard, this motherhood bit. It is beyond frustrating when your baby refuses to eat,sleep, or any number of other things. It is wearisome to realize that your life now consists of changing diapers, wiping spit-up off your lap (and other people’s shoulders), rummaging in the carseat for a dropped pacifier, and planning your life around feeding times.

But dear new mama, I have good news for you! There is a Friend who:

Loves to give strength to the weary. (Isaiah 40:29)

He is a ready help for when you are in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

He answers and saves with His strong hand. (Psalm 20:6)

He restores and sustains. (Psalms 51:12-13)

Gives wisdom. (James 1:5)

Intercedes for us in our human weaknesses. (Romans 8:26,27,34)

Let me just say, new mama, that there is no going back. This IS the new life. And yes it is more than you expected. But much of how you view your mothering journey, will be defined by how you approach it. Are you going to wish away the days, longing for the day your child is grown and able to care for themselves? Or maybe longing for the days you’ve left behind?

Please don’t waste these precious years doing that! I cannot tell you to ‘enjoy every minute’, because honestly, I don’t enjoy every minute.
But you can learn to enjoy the journey. Train yourself to look for the long-term benefit (or lack thereof) of every situation. Grasp the importance of the calling on your life as a mother. Never underestimate the value of a mama who stays home with her babies – loving, caring for them, teaching, training, comforting.

Give your sweet babies the great privilege of being with you and bonding tightly to you. It may seem like they are small, insignificant humans, and caring for them is something anyone could do. But let me tell you, there is no person more qualified to care for that baby than its own mother – you!

When you are exhausted, cry out to Jesus! Get help if you can, but don’t hold your needs too precious. We as Christians, are here to give our lives for those who need us. Right now, in this season of life, your baby needs you. They need your comfort, your touch, your smell, your tender care. They need to hear your voice and relax in your arms. No one can fill in adequately for mama. :)

By the power of the Holy Spirit in you, you can keep going, in grace and joy and peace. Accept that it is not an easy journey. But is is a very worthy one. One that is rewarding in the end. Don’t give up.

Carry on.

What is (or was) the hardest thing about being a first-time mama for you?


Lilla Rose Flexi of the Month ~ October 2014

I have long hair. I have a love/hate relationship with it, let me tell you! Some days I love the fun of trying out new styles, but the next day I am threatening fiercely to chop it all off! :) I use all kinds of hair things, from jaw clips to sticks to scrunchies. But my favorite is the FlexiClip.

LillaRose Flexi-Clip

They are so pretty and feminine.

They are very sturdy, strong clips. No bending here! (I usually bend hair accessories, because I am trying to jam a huge wad of hair into them!)

They have all sizes and each size is adjustable.

They have a wide selection of styles.

Lilla Rose hair clip

If you have been on the fence about Lilla Rose, I invite you to try these fun, pretty hair accessories! If you get the right size, you will use it often.

I love this style on my daughter! :)

I love this style on my daughter! :)

What’s more, if you buy through my link, you will be supporting a stay-at-home-mom, who is busy with young children, and can use a little spending money. (not me – my sister 😉 )

Today the new October flexi is coming out. It features oak leaves and acorns, with earth-toned rust, gold, brass and green. Very fall-ish. :) Check it out: Lilla Rose by Mrs Kauffman.

october flexi