Do your kids have those days where nothing is interesting, anymore? Mine too. This morning, my youngest told me mournfully: “Mom, your phone doesn’t work, the iPad doesn’t work, and the dvd player doesn’t work. There’s nothing to do!!”
Oh my goodness. Child, mama will find you something to do! 😀 So after lunch, I pulled out my stained recipe, and punched up some play dough.
Trust me, once you make this easy recipe, you won’t want to spend another dime on the boughten stuff! This makes 2+ cups (maybe 3 cups?) of dough, and it smells so good, and is so soft and fun to play with. My kids LOVE the homemade version. They love picking the scents, too!
What’s great about this recipe, is the fact that it uses only 4 simple ingredients. The only one I have to specially buy is the drink mix. But it is very inexpensive, so I buy a 10 pack and keep it around for sudden play dough urges.
You can use any type of flavored drink mix to scent it with. The recipe calls for 2 envelopes, but I have scraped by with one, if I don’t have two of the same kind. Note: if you mix 2 kinds of drink mix, your play dough may turn out brown.
The process is quite simple: First, you mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Then, you set that aside for a minute. Put the water in a large kettle, bring to a boil. Once the water boils, remove from heat and add the dry mixture. Stir well.
The dough will look terrible for a bit, but use a sturdy spoon and keep stirring!
Once it starts forming a ball, turn it out on a clean, dry counter, and start kneading. CAUTION! The dough will be very hot at this point! Be very careful or wait till it cools a bit. Don’t let it cool completely, though, or it won’t get nice and smooth.
I gingerly start kneading it with my hands (stand mixer with dough hook might work too!). After 3-5 minutes, it becomes very soft and smooth. If there is still small specks and lumps in it, you can either knead longer or just give it to the kids. Once in a while, mine doesn’t quite get smooth, but my kids still love it!
So there you go! A large ball of play dough for mere pennies. Scented, non-toxic, and child-friendly.
Here are some cookie cutters that would be fun to use with the play dough! My kids have a big basket of cutters.
We keep ours in a zip-loc bag for several days up to two weeks and it stays nice. Usually they play with it like crazy for about a week, then someone leaves it set out for a night, and it dries out! I would guess it would keep several weeks in an air-tight bag or container.
TIP: Make several batches to give as gifts. Any kid will enjoy it!
Mix flour, drink mix, and salt in a bowl. Place water in a pot, bring to a boil. When water boils, add oil and dry mix. Stir vigorously till it clumps together. Turn onto a clean, dry surface, and knead for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and soft. Caution!! Dough will be hot!!
Store in a airtight container or ziploc bag between uses.
The key for long-term changes in my life, has been identifying the biggest obstacles that will arise, and figuring out a plan to deal with it before I even begin. Or at least recognizing the times that will be hard to work through, and set my mind to not get off-plan.
For example, when I started to exercise last fall, I knew I would NOT want to leave my house in January when it was cold and windy and snowy. BUT, I decided that I would just DO IT. Was it hard? Yes. But I would remind myself that I wanted to change, and that I was tough enough to do this! It also helped tremendously to have a workout buddy!
When I decide to lose weight, I think about all the ‘excuses’ that I know will come up… vacations, birthdays, church events, parties… then I decide if I will happily cheat those days, or else how to eat heathy those days. Either way, figuring it out ahead of time help me get right back on track morning after, instead of giving up because I ‘blew it’. 😉
Currently, writing consistently is my biggest challenge. It has been for some years. I am still figuring out a routine that works for me. I can’t write in the evenings – my brain starts shutting down after 4 pm. I get too busy/sidetracked in the afternoons, and mornings I like to study. But I will keep trying!! 😀
I read that if you decide you will stick to something long-term, it’s more effective at reaching goals, than saying ” I can do this for xx days”. The mental act of committing long term helps us keep going. I can say that is true for me.
Don’t make excuses, don’t give up. Identify your weak spots, figure out how to deal with them, and keep going! A baby falls dozens of times while learning to walk – it gets up and starts again. You can fall and flub up too – just get up and try again!
After 10 years of Wyoming winters, I have finally figured out some clothing that makes life much easier for this southern gal! 😀 I realized that one major reason I hated winter was because I didn’t own the right clothing. My family spent some winters in the Midwest, even spent half of a winter in northern Idaho – but we never really owned quality clothing for the season. Most winters we spent in the sunny south, and it didn’t seem worth it, I guess. But when we moved here, my husband insisted that we invest in good winter clothing. So we did. Here are my favorites!
My son went with me to find our Christmas tree. We were both wearing our Mucks!
Coat. The piercing winds in this great state will fly right through anything woven! I finally found my dream coat: Woolrich’s down parka. I found mine on sale one year during Black Friday, and it was the best winter clothing purchase I have ever made. I couldn’t find the exact same coat, but this one is similar. Gloves. I won a giveaway from my friend over at ‘From the Corner of the Circle L’ for a pair of Stormy Kromer mittens. They may not be great if you need dexterity, but for just being outdoors, they’re wonderful! I wear mine nearly every day. Once they wear out (which doesn’t look like it will be anytime soon!), I will buy another pair. (these say ‘mens’, but you can buy other colors if you like) Boots. I found my first pair of Muck boots at a thrift store for $10.00! They lasted for 6 years. 😉 When those wore out, my husband bought me a tall pair for Christmas. These are seriously amazing boots! They come up close to to my knee, and the top is snug-fitting, so they keep snow out! I walk through waist deep snow (yes, literally!) and no snow falls inside. Yay! 😀 We bought Muck or Bogs boots for every member of the family. Except the littlest. She has a knock-off version since she is growing so fast! All the other kids have the real deal. Totally worth it. I like that my kids can go outside to do chores and play, without worrying if their feet are too cold. Ear-warmer. I won a cute little fleece ear-warmer from a friend online, and it gets worn a lot. Several times a week, usually. I can’t find that online seller anymore, but Amazon has some similar styles. Wild rag. A traditional piece of cowboy gear, the wild rag is essential for keeping those icy drafts off my neck! I love winding a soft silk rag around my neck and tying it snug. It’s amazing how much warmer you are when you wear a wild rag! And, they are soft and never chafe. Just be sure to get a silk one. Polyester is ok, but for the softest, most wonderful feeling – stick with silk.
So there you have it! What is your favorite winter clothing?
If you are a maker or seller, please feel free to leave your website or store info in the comments!
Spring! Ah, what a lovely season! I won’t say it is my favorite, anymore, because on the high prairies of Wyoming – spring is still quite chilly most days. But I surely do love the idea of spring! All the new babies in the meadows – skipping and dashing around their mamas, the fresh, thin mist of green springing up in the hay meadows, the flocks of blackbirds filling the air with their chattering… oh yes, spring is indeed a wonderful time of year!
After 2 months of night shift, my man has finally returned to a normal day schedule. I am so happy about that! Night shift was actually less work for him, so in that way it was good, but I really didn’t enjoy being on an opposite schedule from him. Especially since I homeschool 3 kids and have 2 little ones here too. It definitely took some creativeness to keep everyone reasonably quiet, but it was good experience for me. I can now sympathize much more with others in that situation.
Reading with her cousin.
We had a real warm spell a few weeks ago, and I took advantage of it by getting in some walks. My foster baby is 4 months old, and HATES the wind in his face, so I was tickled to find a secondhand stroller with a wind-guard! Helps a ton to keep him happy and warm.
He is such a good baby. Of course he has his moments, like the carseat! He isn’t a big fan of that. And he decided to disown his pacifier, which does NOT make me happy! I love when I can stick a paci in their mouth on a car ride, or at church, or to go to sleep. But nope. No amount of coaxing will make hm take it anymore.
Last week the snow and colder temps returned, along with another round of cold virus in the house. But God is still good and on the throne, so I have no complaints!
I have been trying to get back into a better rhythm of Bible study again, now that I’m settling into life with a baby. I find that keeping a Bible laying beside my chair is the best way for me. I used to think: “Oh, I have the Bible app on my phone, I’ll just use that.”
But the fact is – the Bible app is the slowest app to load. I mean, who wants to wait 2 minutes for the app to load, when Instagram loads in .5 seconds?! Seriously, folks, this is what happens. But I won’t accept that. I must get in my reading daily, or I don’t grow. I don’t thrive. I start going backwards immediately. The Word of God is powerful. We say that – but do we believe it? It really is powerful!!! It gives me direction, instruction, courage, and strength for daily life.
So, that recliner where I sit all the time to feed the baby – that is ‘my’ chair. I have an older Bible laying within arms’ reach. I chose an older Bible, because I don’t want to worry if it gets coffee spilled on it, or if my toddler decides to scribble in it. I keep my precious Christmas-gift-from-my-husband Bible elsewhere. I pick it up and read a verse or two or a couple chapters when I have a few minutes. It’s amazing how much you can get read in a day if you make it a priority! I bet you have ‘your’ chair somewhere too. Maybe you can find a Bible that you can lay within arms’ reach and start feeding on God’s Word daily. It will change your life, if you let it. If you are afraid of kids or pets messing up your nice Bibles, then you can go to the Dollar Tree and get one for $1.00. I bet you can manage that. 😉 and then no worries. Just read it. Use it. Mark in it. But read it.
Pulling a calf to the warm barn, with mama following.
February is a month of love. Valentine’s Day, candy, hearts, and roses. But on the ranch, February is much different. It means long nights of checking heifers, pulling calves, wading through thawing snow, and bottle-feeding bum calves.
It is also the middle of the long Wyoming winter – blizzards and high winds and ice. We have been having crazy high winds the past few days, 75+ mph. It blows over semi-trucks, and blows shingles off houses and blows over anything not weighed down. If the windmill blades aren’t locked down, they will blow right off!
We have been dealing with some sickness, (not too bad) and it got the baby. One day he was feeling so poorly, that I took him for a drive – just to lull him to sleep. I don’t remember ever doing that before – taking a baby for a drive to make it sleep. But by baby #7, you tend to relax on some things. 😉 Plus, with Cliff sleeping during the day, I couldn’t have him screaming in the house. Anyways, he did go to sleep, and I moseyed around the ranch, stopping to snap a few pictures from the window.
The snow has mostly melted, for the first time since Thanksgiving. We had giant snow piles along the lane for months. But I don’t relax too much, because March – May are normally our snowiest months! I expect several more big storms before we see real spring.
I am busy with our foster baby – he is a good baby, but still… babies require a lot of time. I almost forget how often they like to eat! 😀 He’s getting chubsy and smiley and oh! so fun. We are all falling in love with him.
Note: I can’t say much about him, due to confidentiality laws. But I’ll address the most asked questions — No, I can’t tell you why he is in foster care, No, we are not planning to adopt (we always work to reunify kids with their families), and No, we have no idea how long we will have him.
So that is why my blogging suffers, right now. I’m busy making bottles, changing diapers, and rocking a cute little boy.
Today it is really warm outside, and the first calm day for a long time. So the kids ran outside as soon as they finished morning chores – determined to not waste this lovely day! I was happy to see them go. The older ones promised to watch their littlest sister carefully – which made me glad. Teens are the coolest! (lots of tractors/trucks/horses/bulls make the ranch yard not terribly safe for a tiny human)
Yesterday we had a recertification meeting with the foster care co-ordinator. I was nervous, (which was unnecessary,) but as always, she was calm and helpful. I hear so many horror stories of caseworkers and foster care workers, but I guess we are just really blessed. Ours are the best! I mean sure, some are more strict than others, and some are naturally more cheerful, or whatever, but I haven’t had a bad experience with any, so far. Really kind and helpful.
Ok, I’m starting to ramble. I better go throw a load of laundry in the washer.
I hope your day is pleasant and you find a bit of nature to relax in.
I am going to share with you the way I get my photos out of digital storage and into my house. I’ve had many “how do you make these beautiful books?” questions, and today I am showing you step-by-step how I do it. I am not a techy person, so if I can do it – you can too!
Technology is an amazing invention, but sometimes it gets in the way of tangible memories. For instance, how many SD cards, thumb drives, or discs do you have laying around with 1,000’s of photos on them?
Problem is, we all think that we will ‘someday’ get them printed. Well good luck with that! 😉 Life gets in the way of doing the work. Plus we’re not quite sure how, or where, to print them. Aren’t photo albums outdated anyways? Why not just put them on a digital photo album? Oh yes. Scrolling through a couple thousand photos on your laptop – with relatives and friends hanging over your shoulder – is so exciting! Right?!
Let me tell you, my kids have enjoyed so many quiet hours, paging through our photo books. It is fun for them (and everyone else) to pick up a photo album and look back at the previous years. I like to keep them on in the living room in a visible spot, so guests can entertain themselves. They are great conversation starters, too!
I will walk you through how I do it, and then give you a few extra tips later. Don’t be overwhelmed by the length of this post – I just give detailed instructions. If you are familiar with copying/pasting photos, it will be a breeze!
Here you go:
1. Soon after the beginning of the year, (I do it in January) go back through the previous years’ photos on your computer or phone roll, however you store yours. You do have them uploaded, right? 😉
2. Go through them with a pen and paper, writing down the number of each photo you want. Try to pick only the best ones. You really don’t need 5 photos of your new car. One will suffice. (You’ll thank me later!) I have my photos organized by month, so I do it one month at a time. You do whatever works for you. I realize not everyone has as many photos as me! I have a photo addiction.
3. Once you have the numbers written down, go back and select the ones you chose. I have mine on a Windows desktop — sorry I haven’t figured out the Mac photo thing yet! Anyways, to select multiple photos, you hold the Control ( Ctrl ) button down as you select the ones you want. Once they’re all highlighted, right-click on one of the highlighted photos, and ‘Copy’.
4. Start a new folder for the book photos. Title it appropriately; 2015 Book, or something. Now paste your copied photos into that album. Repeat until you have the best photos from your whole year into that folder. Now go through it and make sure you really need 469 photos! If there’s a few you can cut – do it. Whew! The hard part is done! Even if you have to take a day or two for a break, you now have the best sorted out. Just like yearlings ready for market.
5. Go to an online photo printer like Mpix, Snapfish, or Shutterfly. Sign up for a free account, and upload your photos. If you’re tired of working on photos by now – use their autofill method. If you are like me – spend another couple hours placing the photos just perfectly with the correct captions for each! Save it when you’re finished. No – save it after each page is done! I hate losing work!
Frank getting ready to help gather cattle.
Extra tips: Ordering:
You can go ahead and order it at this point. But I like to sign up for their emails and wait on a discount code. I have never paid full price for an album yet. Not sayin’ they aren’t worth it – they definitely are! But when you are on a cowboy’s wages, you learn to be frugal.
Where to start?!!
Start with one year and spend 30 min per day going through them and marking the ones you like, uploading them, and placing them in a book. 30 min per day will get a year done in less time than you think! And just think: a few days of this and you will have a nice album to enjoy forever! Just stick to it. You are an adult. You can do things you don’t enjoy. 😉
I’m so behind I’ll never catch up!!
See, I know how discouraging it is! Let me advise you: keep at it until you are caught up. Do one year per week, or whatever, then let that frustration remind you next January to get right on it! You can do this! You just have to sit down and do it for a few days. I missed last year, so for the first time, I have 2 years worth of photos, plus a Florida vacation, multitude of brandings, and miscellaneous events to catch up on. I’m predicting it will take 4 books to catch up. Yuck. Next year you can bet I will get it done in January!
It will break the bank to buy all the books I need!
OK, calm down. Remember I said wait for a coupon? Well, many of these are ‘buy two get one free’, or something like that. And they send a couple per year. So here’s what you do: You make them all right now. DO NOT WAIT. When you get the coupon email, you often have 3 days to use it. You will always be busy those 3 days. So you do not stop till you have made all your books and are 100% caught up. THEN you save them in your account, and wait to purchase till you have a coupon code. I mean, how easy is it to log in, select the book you want, and checkout? But if you think you will wait till you have the coupon, to make the books… well, you won’t do it. Trust me, I know! I let a lot of coupons go unused the past two years, because I didn’t have a book ready, and didn’t have time to make one! So learn from me. 😉
Phone photos actually print off ok as long as they are small. Don’t try to make a phone photo an entire page spread. OK is a relative term… of course they aren’t very great quality, but if the phone photo of your child kissing mama is the only one you have – by all means include it! 30 years from now you will be glad you did. Bonus: if you have mostly phone photos, you can fit a lot more in a book! 😉
Isn’t Snapfish awful quality? It’s not Miller’s Lab, that’s for sure! But hey, I am not rich enough to pay premium prices on photo books. Sometimes you have to sacrifice quality to get the job done. Don’t worry what people think. It’s better – a thousand times better – to have a finished book in hand, than to be snobby about quality that you will never afford. We are a ranch family – we don’t make a lot of money. (and no, this blog makes no money either!) So far, my friends who look at my books are always surprised when I say they’re made at Snapfish and Shutterfly! I am not endorsing or reccomending any site in particular – just telling you what I have done. Hey, if you only do Chatbooks, at least that’s something! (I will probably unfollow you on Instagram, but do whatever works for you! 😉 ) NOTE: I am more and more dissatisfied with the ‘cheap’ photo printing places. I guess getting quality prints does spoil a person! But I still say – do whatever you can do.
Depends on how many pages, what size book, etc. I usually do the 8×11 books with a 50% off coupon, so they run around 15$ each. (on snapfish) But sometimes I make a 11×14 which is really nice! The coupons usually specify page count, like 20 or something. Pay attention to fine print.
It’s a new year, a new beginning, a new date to remember to write. I used to scoff a bit at New Year’s resolutions, but the past few years I have made a few of my own. Some have stuck, and some haven’t. But I decided it’s fun! And it does usually get me a lot closer to my goals than I would otherwise. 😉
The year is no different – I resolved to:
get in a couple days of exercise each week,
to work through some Bible teaching, ( HERE )
take a month off of Facebook,
and write daily.
Of course, there will be days so full that I miss my exercise or daily writing, but overall, I believe it is a goal I can reach. The bible teaching is the number one thing I want to keep up with. There are enough short podcasts (all transcripts available as well) to give me 15-30 minutes of listening or reading per day. I’m already enjoying this!
Writing… you know, it’s one of those things that I feel almost driven to do, and yet it is the first thing that gets scratched off my list when life gets busy. I hate that! I would rather give up social media or tv shows or something rather than keep on this way. So that is definitely a priority as well.
A good friend of mine recommended this book, so I have it in my cart at Amazon, ready to buy once we get paid. I am excited to read it!
It’s the time of year I like best… tall prairie grasses, bending in the breeze, meadowlarks trilling from the fenceposts, fresh peas from the garden, long walks beneath summer clouds. Ice cold garden tea and front-porch settin’. Oh boy, I could get used to this weather fast!
I told my husband a few days ago that I think this is what Heaven feels like; this perfect temperature – not hot and not cold. Just perfect. It makes up for the brutal winters. It really does.
I think that’s the first time I said that without also adding ‘almost’. because I truly believe it now. (don’t ask me in January tho. I may have forgotten! 😉 )
We recently were on vacation to Maryland, and while it is a beautiful state, the humidity really got to me. And the hemmed in feeling. I was so happy to see our wide-open prairies again! I am spoiled. I feel so blessed to live in this wide open space. I know it’s not everyone’s choice, but wow! God sure knew what He was doin’ when He parked us here.
Most of the wildlife around here has been very frustrating to me. Now, I like animals more than some people, I think, but there is a definite difference between a raccoon in a pretty picture, and a 30-lb one eating your chickens! Or a funny looking porcupine who strips your precious apple tree of bark, or innocent looking deer who devour whole gardens in a single night, or rabbits who do the same.
But I finally have a piece of wildlife around that is on my side!! Yay for owls! I have always loved their soft hoo-hoo-hooooo! Their ridiculously solemn, round eyes and heads that swivel. They are cool creatures, indeed. But the coolest thing is that they are predators! They eat mice, gophers and rabbits. (I suppose chickens too, but I can keep those inside a run) And when I discovered that a pair had built a nest in my backyard, I was simply delighted.
It’s been really hard to get a photo of them, tho, as they always fly off the nest the instant they see me. So yesterday I tried sneaking out with my camera. Newsflash:with their eyesight being some of the best in the world, you cannot sneak up on an owl.
She immediately spread her wings to cover her chick in a protecting manner. I think you’d get your hand pecked off if you tried reaching under that wing! But my waiting was rewarded. When mama owl flew off, finally, I saw the cutest little fuzzy head in that tree! It was not making any noise, just hunkered down, waiting for mama. I yelled, clapped, whistled and banged on things, trying to get it to raise it’s head and look at me.
Oh, I was so excited to see this cute baby! I’ve never seen an owl chick before, to my knowledge. I believe this is a Great Horned Owl, but I am not a bird expert. Do any of you know for sure?
“For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing of birds has come.
Yes, spring is here.” Song of Solomon 2:11-12
It has been a mild, seemingly short winter. I say seemingly, because
1) it’s not over yet! and 2) it just seemed that way because so many exciting things happened that normally don’t happen to me.
A sister’s graduation from the RN program, and several months of her then staying with us made the longest winter months somehow shorter. A mom’s retreat, calving season, several friends who braved the winter to come visit… altogether made my winter seem short.
However, with the warm weather we now have, I am trying to keep my planting urge under control, because I know that it is still much to early to plant a garden. 😉
Last year’s spring—no green grass here yet! :)
I get out of bed at 5 am nearly every morning. (except Sunday when I sleep in till 6!)
So I usually get to see the sun rise in the morning – spilling the colors of the rainbow through my eastern window. Some days are muted, soft colors, some days are blazing ribbons of gold and orange.
Sunrise from my window.
Sometimes I ride with my husband in the cake truck, opening gates for him and having what I call ranch dates. We have each other’s undivided attention, and lots of time to talk without the kids. (except the 2 year old, who cares only about the cows!)
The cows are coming!
I climbed up on the cake truck this week, and the cows thought I was crazy. But then, I think they are stupid-looking, so I guess we’re even. 😉
Feeding cow cake on a early spring day.
I spent a good portion of my afternoons the past two weeks tying some custom cinch orders. Then my sister came up on her day off, and we tramped through the fields and along the creek, just meandering and gabbing, as sisters like to do.
She also brought some lovely flowers for my table – so pretty! I love looking at them.
I have so many things I want to write… encouragement the Lord has given me, funny stories I keep thinking about, and delicious recipes that beg to be written down and shared. But as always – mothering comes first. I am working on a routine that will give me some time to write, hopefully that will go as planned and I can get back to blogging on a regular basis.
I hope your first day of spring is a grand and wonderful day – full of warmth and cheer!