Wednesday, December 27, 2017

He Showed Up After All ...

We enjoyed such a warm and extended autumn, that folks around here were beginning to wonder if Old Man Winter would show up at all this year.  Well, last week he did.

 Last week our snow storm brought us single digit and below zero temps.  Our high on Christmas Day was 2 below.  Yep!  Old Man Winter has shown up, taken his boots off, and it looks like he plans to stay a while.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

"You can take a girl out of the south, but you can't take the south out of the girl."

Although I no longer live in the south, I continue to practice quite a bit of the unwritten southern hospitality etiquette.  One of the many unwritten southern rules pertains to hostess gifts.  Not only taking one when invited, but also giving one to departing guests.  In the south, the only thing more important when attending as a guest, or receiving guests, is the hand written, snail mailed thank you note.

I've mentioned numerous times that hostess gifts need not be expensive, it is genuinely the thoughtfulness that matters.  This year, I found a brand new, unopened package of 12 mini stockings at my favorite thrift store for only 50 cents!  I've filled them with a few candies and placed them in my sparkly blue bowl next to the mud room steps where they are handy to pass out to departing guests OR quickly grab as a little hostess gift when going to another home. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

If you'll remember back a couple months I announced that I've taken a part-time job at our local café.  Although I was hired as a waitress, our owner has been gracious enough to allow me to also bake pies and cook soup & the daily hot plate special on my scheduled work days.

The following peanut butter cup pie has quickly become a local favorite and I thought I'd share the easy recipe with you just in time for your Christmas celebrations with your families. 

If y'all try this, I hope y'all like it as much as our local towns folk do.  Merry Christmas!

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Pie Crust:

30 chocolate sandwich cookies, ground into crumbs
3 Tbsp. melted butter

I use a food processor to grind up the cookies. After the cookies are ground into fine crumbs,  I then add the melted butter while the processor is still whirling.  Once mixed, pour the buttered crumbs into a GREASED pie plate.  I use the bottom of a dry measure cup to press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the plate.  Bake crust at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes until set.  Allow to cool completely before filling.


1 c. smooth peanut butter
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 8oz. tub frozen whipped topping, thawed

Using a mixer, combine the peanut butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.  Mix in the whipped topping until combined very well.  Pour mixture into the cooled pie shell.  Smooth top.


2 Tbsp. chocolate syrup
1 pkg. peanut butter cup candies, chopped

Drizzle the top of the filling with chocolate syrup.  Top with chopped peanut butter cup candies.  Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Makes 8 slices

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hello ...

The seasons continue to pass me by too quickly.  I find it difficult to believe that Christmas is only 15 days away.  No, I am not "ready".  I did manage to clean up and store the spring / summer flower planters and such from the front lawn.  It is now ready for winter décor, but I am having trouble finding the time to decorate.

Speaking of seasons, the Montana prairie has been joyfully embracing a very warm autumn.  We've had only one snow and the temperatures have dropped below 15 degrees only 3-4 days.  Our evening lows have been averaging in the 20's and our afternoon highs in the low to mid 40's.  Anyone familiar with the weather on the Montana prairie knows this is highly unusual.  By this time each year our over-night temperatures are generally well below zero and our highs are in the lower teens at best.

I have been enjoying our Sunday morning church sermons.  The topic has been about the birth of Jesus.  Last week we covered God's perfect timing for the coming of Christ.  Today's topic was the miracle of Christ's coming.  These past two weeks have left me hungry for next week's sermon.  The children in our church put on the best yet Christmas program this evening.  From year to year I am amazed how much the children have grown and matured.  We had many visitors from the community join us and after the program we served an array of refreshments which were much enjoyed.

My heart was abundantly blessed this evening when my former little babysitting charge, ET, who is now 4 years old, invited himself to come over and spend the night ... hee! hee!  He also invited me over to his house to see his pretty Christmas tree, which he assured me is prettier than mine.  After the children's Christmas program, his mother and I talked and he and his little sister will come out and spend the day with me later this week.  I will have to bring his toy box up from the basement den and pull out all his favorite books as he LOVES to be read to.  We will pop some corn to snack on while we read and read and read.

Our warm weather is forecasted to continue throughout the week and I will have two little house guests who enjoy reading and popcorn as much as I do.  I think this coming week is going to be GRAND.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Where does the time go?

I can hardly believe it's been NINE years since I began blogging.  Back then, our caboose, Farmer Boy and Songbird were only 7 and 10 years old, respectively.  Musician was in the Air Force and Middle Child was in home school.  And, we were living in S.E. Texas. 

This past week Songbird turned 19 and our little caboose, Farmer Boy turned 16.  As you all know, Musician is married with a baby and operates his own business.  Middle Child has separated from Navy and is in college working on a business degree, Songbird has flown the coop and is also in college.

Farmer Boy, 16 yr. old

Today, Farmer Boy is old enough to drive!  Can you believe it?  I don't want to believe it, but it is true.  This past Friday he purchased his FIRST CAR ... a 1987 Cadillac.  As all youngsters, he is so proud of it.  It isn't even legal to drive yet (needs a turn signal cover,  title transfer and insurance), but as you can see in the above photo, he is already hard at work washing, vacuuming and spiffing up the interior. 

Farmer Boy and Musician are the only two of our children who have purchased their own first vehicle.  Like Musician, Farmer Boy has experienced some growing pains resulting in the withdrawal of a 1st vehicle provided by Dad & Mom.  As much as it distresses us to be tough on our youngin's, sometimes we've had to be.  I am thankful to say that for our family, a little bit of tough love has, thus far, proven to be the best "medicine" to help our kiddo's straighten themselves out.  Of course, we are still working with Farmer Boy, but we are seeing improvements and we continue to pray he will become as wonderful a young man as his older brothers.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Eb and Flow of Seasons

As I sit down to my computer to write today, I find it a bit overwhelming to realize that more than an entire season has passed since my last entry.  Although many things in our daily lives has remained the same, there have also been so many changes - it's almost hard to believe they've all happened within just one family.

Our little G-Bear is already 6 mo. old.  Similar to her Auntie, she has an effervescent personality and a contagious smile.  G-Bear isn't the only change Musician and this Bride have gone through these past two annual seasons.  Our beautiful daughter-in-love has made the decision to temporarily leave the workforce and stay home with G-Bear full-time.  Thus far, they are seeing positive effects on Musician's business.  Now that they are not juggling childcare, Musician has more flexible hours for his students and contract work.  Musician's Bride has taken over much of the bookwork for his business uniting them as a team in, what is now, "their" business.

There was a short period of time while Musician's Bride was weighing her full-time working mother vs. full-time wife and mother options, when they considered a complete lifestyle change that would have included moving home.  Naturally, PopPop and I were "over the moon" happy at the thought they might be with us, but we did maintain emotional caution. As wonderful as it would have been for us, we know that the" kiddo's" would have a serious  period of transitioning to not only small town living, but a very rural lifestyle.  They have expressed strong interest in coming to Eastern Montana, but have decided to wait a few years and work on improving their homesteading skills, and explore employment options for this area.  In the meantime, they will move into a slightly larger home that will allow more space for their business and provide them with a large secluded lot for gardening and raising chickens.

The last two years of high school kept our Songbird on the road and so busy I didn't think I'd miss her as much as I have since she moved to college.  She calls several times per week and her school is close enough that during the past six weeks, she has been home 3 times.  But it isn't the same.  I don't see her sleepy eyes, tussled hair and gorgeous face each morning.  I don't kiss her cheek and hug her good-bye before she rushes out the door to ... where ever.  I don't hear her gay voice call out "Mom ..." every afternoon.  It is weird, but I even miss hearing her yell out , "Mom! Farmer Boy is ...... Make him QUIT!"  What I miss most about her is the sweet scent of heaven that she's smelled like since the moment she was born.  Do you other mothers remember that sweet fresh smell of heaven your newborn babies smelled like when you first held them in your arms?  Songbird is the only one of our children that still smells like that & I dearly miss that sweet scent.

So far, college seems to fit her well.  Between 16 credit hours, the college rodeo circuit and working a part-time job, she is incredibly busy.  But anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that Songbird is not happy unless she is consistently progressing toward a goal. 

Songbird  is so excited about the progress she and her Quatro have made in college rodeo.  The practice with a team and the more competitive atmosphere have been beneficial to both.  Last week she had a 6.5 second practice run on goats.  In completion, that wins the money.  While at completion in Iowa, Quatro had a couple "PERFECT" barrel runs and his speed continues to steadily increase.  Within the next few years, Songbird has her eye fixed on making it to the National College Finals Rodeo ... she might make it someday.


Farmer Boy is the only duckling left at home.  He continues to participate in 4-H.  Due to some "growing pains", PopPop and I had to enforce a break from rodeo and most other privileges.  It has taken a while, but he has earned back all of his privileges and has started participating in some local ropings and other rodeo activities.

I must confess that I was very surprised to find that he misses Songbird.  For the past several years they seemed to have a contentious relationship. Before Songbird left, Farmer Boy stated several times how happy he'd be when she moved away to college.  Now that she's gone, he sometimes seems lost.  I suppose in some ways, he is.  Being the caboose, he came into a large family with many personalities, and lots of energy.  As all his siblings have grown up and moved away, he has witnessed his world shrink.  All the things he loves or doesn't like about his parents (typical for teenagers) has become magnified, and because he doesn't have  a "buffer", i.e. sibling, between him and us, he seems overwhelmed at times ... and I'm sure he is.

He and I continue to struggle through home schooling and as of right now, Farmer Boy is on track to graduate when he is 19.  He hopes to move that date up to 18, but he has a lot of catching up to do for that goal to be met.  If you think of him, please keep Farmer Boy and his academic progress in prayer.

After skipping a semester of college, due to a mess up between the college and veterans affairs, our Middle Child has happily started another semester.  Because he had to skip a semester, he is taking 18 credit hours, and will for a couple more semesters.  His school is in the Houston area and was severely flooded by Hurricane Harvey.  This natural disaster delayed the start of classes and has forced the same course load for the 18 credits to be crammed into a reduced time frame, resulting in a huge homework load.  Couple that with a part-time job and he is a busy guy.  But he is a smart boy, a hard worker and like his younger sister, will succeed.

I am saddened to report that he and Miss N are no longer seeing each other.  I say I saddened because our whole family had high hopes for this relationship.  Middle Child and she have been close friends since grade school, both were home schooled, raised in the same church and have strong family values.  However, it appears that the years he spent in the U.S. Navy and her years in college changed both of them in ways that would make them incompatible for marriage.

When not studying or working, Middle Child spends his time with his Aunt and her family.  I am so very thankful to have family near him.  My sister, Mrs. A, makes sure he is well fed, has a fun and peaceful place for him to spend time and showers him with as much love as I would.  That's my sister, loves my kids like her own.  How many folks are that blessed?

Although I don't have a recent photo of him to share, the second child, Teacher, has also decided to return to school to obtain an advanced degree.  He is currently organizing his work life, finances and the such so he can return to school soon.  He continues to be active in his church community and has been writing whenever he is not working.

Earlier this year he battled a long relapse with Mono, but seems to be on the mend.  Since we all miss him, we are hoping he will be able to come for a visit soon.  Most of all, as a mother, I hope we can coordinate it with a visit from all the "big" kids.  There is nothing I enjoy more than having ALL my children at home with me at the same time.  The house may get crazy with all of them here, but it is a  TERRIFIC kind of crazy.

Me?  Well, I've experienced as many changes as our youngin's. Some of you may not be aware that our family has struggled with some serious issues for a very long time.  After repeatedly trying, and failing, to get cooperation from others to improve some of these issues, I found these circumstances were "pounding" me into a serious depression.  Because they believed my depression to be situational, and I agree, I had 3 healthcare professionals deny my request to try anti-depressants.  Finally after many months, a fourth also agreed with me and the others that my depression is situational, but also recognized that my depression was becoming debilitating.  Six weeks ago, I began a low dose anti-depressant and I now recognize that my depression was even worse than I initially realized.  My circumstances, situation, and struggle is still very present, but with the help of medication, I am now coping with it in a more rational way.  I no longer feel as if I am driving an emotional roller coaster that has zoomed off its tracks and am trying to navigate it through a category 5 hurricane without a compass or a properly working steering mechanism.  I know there are many folks who disagree with anti-depression medications.  I am sure they have very valid reasons.  Because of a very negative reaction more than 2 decades ago while being treated for PTSD, I too had very valid reasons for avoiding them.  But there have been many advances in the treatment of depression and my specific medication has turned out to be a tremendous help.  I am thankful to God that I found a healthcare professional who recognized that I need some temporary help.  After trying everything that I can within my own power and influence, I've come to realize that God Himself will have to intervene in our family's specific situation.  I do not understand why God has "waited" or allowed this to drag on for so many years, but He has His reason(s), plan and timing.  I must trust Him and His wisdom.  In the meantime, I will continue to lean on Him and thank Him for the advancements in medicine that have provided me some emotional relief from the burden I've been carrying for such a long time.  Now that I'm able to think on things more rationally, I can also pray for our specific situation more rationally.

After 15 years of being a full-time wife and mother, I've taken on a part-time job.  Actually, I "slipped' into Songbird's former waitressing position at the local café.  Back in the day (3 decades ago), I enjoyed waiting tables, but wanted and needed more stable employment for our family.  Thus, I moved into the corporate arena.  I am forever thankful for the positions I held and all I learned while working for large corporations.  But I've always said, "If I ever have to go back to work and don't need a position that offers a healthcare benefit package, I would love to go back to waiting tables".  Because we live in such a small town and the restaurant is privately owned, I get to do a little more than wait tables at the café.  On the days I work, I make the soup and bake pies.  Last week Mr. S said it best when I approached his table to inform him of our hot plate special.  With a big grin on his face, Mr. S. put up his hand in the stop motion and said, "No, no.  I want a big bowl of your soup and another slab of that pie!"  Although it makes home life even busier, I am working at the café two days per week and I am having the time of my life.

I know this has been a VERY long post but I hope it has "caught" y'all up a bit.  I am looking forward to visiting all my regular blogs and "catching up" with them as well.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Taking a Blogging Break

If you haven't noticed, I'm in the midst of a blogging break.  It is spring rodeo season, I'm trying to put my garden in, Songbird will be graduating from high school in a couple weeks and we will also have new kids arriving around that time.  When life slows down a bit, I'll be back.  Until then,

May God Bless You and Your Family,

Thursday, May 4, 2017

My Culinary Tour

Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows that I am a "foodie".  I love to talk about food, grow food, cook food and eat food.  There have even been times in my life when I've dreamt about food.  For me, the most difficult aspect of moving to rural Montana, has been the tremendous lack of culinary variety.  Yes, I am able to cook many of my favorite foods and cuisines, and cook them quite well.  However, sometimes it is a great pleasure to be pampered by someone else who produces a product just as good or better than I can cook myself ...  a luxury that I do not get to indulge in on the Montana prairie. 

Visiting our new grandbaby down south afforded me an opportunity to indulge in a few culinary delights that are simply not available on the Montana prairie.  The Montana prairie is cattle country and boasts of their perfected steaks and prime rib.  However, I must honestly say the best steak I've ever consumed was NOT in the state of Montana.  Here's a look at a few of the amazing culinary indulgences not available on the Montana prairie that I enjoyed during my travels.

Sauceman's BBQ & Grill located in Charlotte, NC is a multiple winner of the BBQ PitMaster contests.  I must say, they deserve every single award they've ever won!  The general manager, Edmar was a delight.  He served us up TWO sampler platters overflowing with BBQ chicken, smoked brisket, pulled pork, fried green tomatoes, homemade onion rings, and fresh cut French fries.   Since Charlotte is located on the boarder of N. Carolina and S. Carolina, Sauceman's serves three traditional BBQ sauces; a North Carolina vinegar based sauce, a South Carolina mustard based sauce and a sweet hot combination commonly found in the Louisiana/Texas region.  This was absolutely some of the BEST BBQ I've ever ate.  Thank you, Edmar!
DON'S Seafood located on the Airline Highway in Baton Rouge, LA has been in business since the 1930's.  80 years of business says something about the quality of food served at this fine seafood establishment.  Montanan's don't even know what it is and since it was in season, I couldn't resist indulging in that Gulf Coast delicacy, crawfish.  I relished a huge bowl of crawfish etoufee served with piping hot and crusty buttered French bread.  OH MY WORD!  Six years without crawfish ... how have I survived? 

The Cadillac Bar located on Shepherd near I-10 in Houston, TX, has been a Mexican food landmark for the Heights and River Oaks areas for more than 25 years.  My first encounter with its mouthwatering menu was more than 25 years ago when I worked in the Heights.  Whenever, our company's corporate executives came into town, they ALWAYS took lunch at the Cadillac Bar.  I was thrilled to introduce this Houston landmark to my sister friend, Mrs.A, also a native Texan, who commented that it was the best Mexican food she's ever ate.  Yes, KNOCK YOUR BOOTS OFF YOUR FEET  Mexican food is the reason the Cadillac Bar has continued to be a thriving business in the heart of the Mexican food capital of the U.S. for nearly three decades.

Although the best Italian restaurant I've ever eaten at was located in New York City's Little Italy, there is a hidden gem in one of Houston's suburbs.  Italiano's Resturaurant is located in a strip center on the Eastex Freeway in Humble, TX. This family owned restaurant has been a local favorite for about 15 years.  The Chicken Marsala was always my favorite and after being gone for six years, it was as good as I remembered it.  The garlic knots are also still served fresh out of the oven, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and seasoned to perfection.  I finished off my meal with a generous portion of my favorite desert, tiramisu.

Since I mentioned dessert in the above paragraph, I have to tell you about Gigi's Cupcakes located in Kingwood, TX.  My sister friend, Mrs.A introduced this little shop to me. If you are looking for an amazing gluten free cupcake, Gigi's is the place. We tried the gluten free  triple chocolate torte. It's moist, brownie like texture and indulgent dark chocolate flavor is AMAZING.  It was the best gluten free baked good I've ever tasted!  I give this little shop two thumbs up.

65 years and counting, Luby's cafeteria style restaurants have been a life long landmark in the state of Texas.  They serve good old fashioned comfort food one will generally find on Grandma's Sunday dinner table.  I was about 9 or 10  years old when my grandmother wanted to go there for a special Mother's Day meal.  I don't remember what I ordered during that 1st visit, but my grandma ordered the pan fried liver and onions smothered in brown gravy.  She shared a bite with me and from that day forward, Luby's liver and onions has been one of my favorite comfort foods.  As a matter of fact, I genuinely do not remember ever ordering anything but liver & onions smothered in brown gravy, green beans and mashed potatoes from a Luby's restaurant.  Luby's liver and onions is the only liver and onions recipe I've ever liked and I am so glad I was able to satisfy my craving for this favorite childhood comfort food.

Of the 26 countries our Middle Child has visited, Greece and the Mediterranean cuisine he found there was one of his favorites. Savvas Greek Cuisine and Grill located in Atascocita, TX serves up authentic Mediterranean cuisine.  The Middle Child says it's just like what you'd find in Greece and since he's been there ...  Their marvelous pita is baked fresh daily and was the best I've ever eaten.  This little "hole in the wall" restaurant has become a favorite of the Middle Child and my sister friend, Mrs.A.  If I get another visit to the Houston area, a return visit to Savvas Greek Cuisine and Grill will most definitely be on my list of "must eat" places.


Pontchartrain sauce is another KNOCK YOU OUT OF YOUR BOOTS culinary masterpiece and Papa's Seafood House is the only place I've ever been able to find it.  Pontchartrain sauce is a shrimp, crawfish and mushroom brown-butter sauce that is generally served over Texas red fish.  My personal favorite is when I can get it served over blackened flounder, but I will never turn my nose up to grilled red fish.  Papa's Seafood House is another one of Houston's landmark restaurants and has been busy 7 days a week for more than 40 years.  Today, I believe there are 4 or 5 Papa's Seafood House restaurants in the Houston area.  I recommend the pontchartrain sauce - you can decide what you'd like it poured over.

There were a couple other places on my list of "must eats" but a family emergency summoned me home before I had an opportunity to enjoy them.  Until my next visit down south, I will crave the menus at these missed restaurants and dream of BBQ, Mexican and Seafood.

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for any of these reviews or endorsements.  All opinions are my own and based upon my own personal experiences.