Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Your Hair Stylist Doesn't Tell You

OG and I have long hair.  Longer than the "average" length of long hair.  We are often asked not only why do we wear our hair long but also HOW did we get it to grow so long.  Well, the why is a personal conviction to our faith.

OG's hair has NEVER been cut more than a 1"-2"  trim.  Mine?  Well, when I was a young girl it was REALLY long - down to my knees long.  But since having it cut short, like the back of my neck showing short, and then re-growing it, I've never had the patience to grow it longer than mid-buttocks.

I'm really surprised at the number of ladies and girls we meet who tell us they would like longer hair but they just can't seem to get it to grow.  They tell us that they are careful to have only the ends trimmed every 6-8 weeks but their hair seems to stay about the same length.  Well, there's a secret to growing long hair that's not really a secret.  My aunt P was a hair dresser/stylist for 40+ years & when I was in Jr. high school, she told me the secret to "growing out" one's hair, especially if interested in a new longer style.

The average person's hair grows only 6" per year - that's only 1/2" per month.  If you get a 1' trim every 8 weeks, most people cut off all the new length thus, their hair seems to ALWAYS stay the same length and not grow.  More than 25 years ago when I decided to grow my hair longer, the first thing I did was stop my frequent visits to the hair dresser.  Instead of getting a 1" trim every 8 weeks I started getting a 1/2" trim every 12 weeks.  In order to keep the ends from getting too scraggly I also made sure I used a good quality conditioner and moisturizing shampoo.  Not only do I need to avoid hair color and other chemical treatments like the plague, I also do not use heated styling tools (including a blow dryer) on a regular basis.  When these tools are used frequently, they cause significant damage to the naturally dryer ends of longer hair.  If there is a special occasion, I'll use a curling iron, hot rollers or straightening iron, however, on an average day my hair is in a barrette, ponytail or a casual up-do.  By the way, a casual up-do and a ponytail with a stylish barrette or clip is GREAT for the" in between" period while trying to grow one's hair longer.

I am living proof that my Aunt P's secret really works.  At 18, I boasted cute pixie.  At 22, I was the original inspiration for Jennifer Aniston's famous "do" (just joking, but my hair was styled almost identical to her current style).  It's now been more than a couple decades since I was 22 and I've worn my hair significantly longer than my waist for over 2 decades.  So, trim if you must, but never more than 1/2 an inch every 12 weeks.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

When Time Stands Still ...

As I walked to the mailbox this morning time seemed to be standing completely still.  For a time the only sound I could hear was the crunch of snow under my feet.  The wind was so still the very air surrounding me seemed frozen.  It was so amazing that everything in my immediate surroundings was completely silent and motionless.  I felt as if I were standing inside a photograph.  Until this morning, this is a sensation that I've only read about in books.  A breath-taking experience.
I remembered to take OG's camera along on my little walk and as I stopped to take a few photos, the lonely sound of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe train whistle came echoing across the prairie - the silence and stillness broken.

Once you leave the blacktop, if you travel far enough down the red dirt road you may see our red mailbox and parcel box.  

If you turn off onto the smaller dirt road toward the hay fields, you'll see our drive to your left.

However, if you continue south you will meet a few of our neighbors.

As I enjoyed my morning walk, I snapped a photo of our frozen stock tank.  Although Sam can trot around on it, I'm not sure the ice is solid enough for people, just yet. Our winter has been unusually warm this year causing the water to thaw and re-freeze several times.

As we walked down the road, toward the tall prairie grasses and away from the trees, Sammy started having quite a bit of fun chasing flocks of pheasants out of the frozen brush.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chicken Pesto

The chicken pesto recipe received 2 thumbs up from everyone in my family this evening.  Since everyone liked it so much, here's the recipe:

Chicken Pesto
(adapted from

1 8oz. jar traditional basil pesto sauce
4 chicken breast halves
seasoned toasted breadcrumbs (I seasoned mine w/ a little grated Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper)
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
black pepper to taste

Line a 9x12" baking dish with aluminum foil, shinny side up.  Evenly spread 2-3 Tbsp. pesto on foil.  Moisten chicken with water, shaking off excess, and dredge in seasoned breadcrumbs, coating evenly.  Place in baking dish.  Spread remaining pesto over chicken, season with pepper, if desired.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until juices run clear.  Top each breast half with cheese, return to oven to until melted.  Serve with seasoned pasta or garlic mashed potatoes.
Serves 4 (recipe doubles well)

Menu Day

Although our area has not had a winter this warm since 1931, (yes, way back then, prior to "global warming" our usual bitterly cold winter was warmer than this one) I'm still "shopping from home".  Why not?  I stocked up in preparation for a very long, and colder than any I've ever personally experienced, winter.  Although our local winter has been unusually warm, thus far (knock-on-wood), gasoline and diesel prices are up, so my winter stock pile is certainly saving us money by keeping us home and NOT driving 100 miles round-trip to the grocer each week.  Mr.B still stops on his way home for milk and an occasional head of lettuce & fresh tomatoes.
This week's supper menu includes the following:
Monday - pesto chicken (something new - I'll post the recipe if our family likes it), garlic butter & parsley pasta, salad
Tuesday - macaroni & cheese, carrots, Brussels sprouts
Wednesday - crock pot teriyaki chicken, rice & egg rolls
Thursday - Salisbury steaks, mashed potatoes & broccoli
Friday - homemade shake-n-bake pork chops, creamed corn, squash
Saturday - fish chowder, carrot salad, crescent rolls
Sunday - ground venison & potato casserole, steamed vegetable medley, spinach

What are you planning to cook this week?

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Was Selfish

I recently had someone relate some very harsh words to me.  Those words have hurt me deeply and they cut open many unseen scars.  Although I have been leaning on the Lord for my recovery,  I have spoken with our oldest son, AB, and Mr. B, keeping the perpetrator anonymous, about the hurtful words.  Mr.B's and AB's responses were similar.  Both said it is quite obvious that this person does not know me at all, in any way.  My heart was very touched because both went on to tell me that they've watched me live my entire adult life for my family.  They both said that they know, without doubt, that every decision I've ever made was/is made through the motivation of wanting and trying to do whatever was/is best for our children.  My heart was so warmed and touched by the kind words they said.  My heart was astonished by the anger Mr.B expressed when finding that someone would ever say such harsh and, from his perspective, untrue things to me or about me.  (I have not shared the incident with JP, because I expect that JP's reaction to this situation would be very negative.  JP holds me very dear to his heart and is the sort who may personally find fault in me, but other people are not allowed.)

BUT, I must admit that there was one decision I made 22 years ago that was motivated by complete selfishness.  22 years ago, today, I found myself holding a little baby boy I named JP.  I had made some very foolish decisions that carried some life-long tough consequences.  Abortion was not an option that I would, nor do I believe, I could ever explore.  That said, adoption or raising another child on my own were the options I faced.  I selfishly chose to keep and raise our beautiful son, JP.  I could not do what others may have thought would be best for our family- place him for adoption.  I could not bear the pain of loosing him - regardless of whether he and his siblings would have or could have had a better life and future.  I was selfish.  The day he was born I thought of me and what I needed to do to protect my own heart.  I have never, for even one second of my life, regretted that selfish decision nor have I ever experienced any guilt. 

JP is the sort who tries to put forth a calloused front.  I know he does this because he has had many people take advantage of his natural and genuine generosity and he is now trying to protect himself from others who would try to take advantage.  But, when it comes to his family, especially his mom, he is and continues to be selfless.  JP is the sort who has complete confidence and a total expectation that his family is, FAMILY.  Although he fully knows our family is far from perfect, and even sometimes dysfunctional, he honestly trusts and believes that nothing, absolutely nothing, could possibly ever divide him from his family, including brutal honesty or exaggerations expressed in anger.  He fully trusts that no matter what any other family member does or says, that he will always love and accept them as his family.  He fully expects to always forgive and to always be forgiven by his family.  From my perspective, the unending trust he has in our family is amazing.   From a spiritual perspective, it has allowed him to fully trust God.  It has been and is his foundation for trusting that God is and will always be with him.  It is his foundation for trusting that God is and will always be forgiving towards him.  It is the foundation for his eagerly and easily accepting God's complete and total forgiveness.  No one will never know the depth that this quality has ministered to my heart and my own relationship with the Lord.

Today is his birthday!  I am so glad that I made my selfish decision 22 years ago.  Just imagining all the blessings I and our family could have missed had I made any other choice, breaks my heart.  JP is and always has been a delight.  He is, and always will be, my "baby J".  I love him & miss him & pray for him daily.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm Confused ...

In my effort to shape-up a little before gardening season, I began a routine of walking on Mr.B's treadmill almost two weeks ago.  (insert standing ovation here)  Since I find this activity excruciatingly boring, I often find myself reading the all the information on the panel such as, heart rate, calories burned, weight loss vs. performance info., etc.  When I began my routine the calorie counter indicated that my little "work out" was burning 197 calories.  This is where I've become confused; on Monday I increased my 5 minute warm-up and 5 minute cool down speed from 1.5 mph to 2.0mph, I've also increased my 20 minute walk speed from 2.7mph, 6% incline to 3.0mph, 6% incline.  With these increases why has the burned calorie count reduced from 197 to 163?  If I'm walking faster and at the same incline shouldn't I burn MORE calories?  I'm now going to eat my Reese's peanut butter cup ...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Three Ladies Next Door ...

... are very friendly and welcoming.  They recently moved in so, yesterday, EJ and I walked down the road to introduce ourselves.  All three immediately came out to greet us.  We aren't sure how long they will be living next door to us.  As far as we are concerned, they can stay as long as they'd like.  They are excellent neighbors.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Treadmill

For me an hours walk outdoors on a nice day seems like only moments.  Put me in a canoe or row boat on a pond or lake and I'll happily row for hours.  A bicycle ride with the children, serendipity.  BUT put me indoors on treadmills, stationary bicycles, rowing machines or any other mechanical exercise equipment and in my world it's akin to torture.
Mr.B wants to loose some weight and since it's been dark for hours by the time he gets home (dark arrives between 4:30 & 5:00 up here during the winter months), he bought himself a treadmill.  He's been gently encouraging me to also use it.

This morning I decided that since I've began my garden planning, I should increase my physical activity otherwise, when gardening season arrives my mussels will be screaming at me.  While in my pj's ... 5 minutes @ 1.5mph, no incline; 20 minutes @ 2.7 mph, 6% grade incline; 5 minutes @ 1.5 mph, no incline.  Average heart rate - 100 beats per minute; 197 calories burned; 30 of the most BORING minutes of my life.

Really?  Only 197 calories burned?  I suffered through a 1/2 hour of complete & total YAWN for only 197 calories?  I'd better get in the shower before I raid my secret stash of chocolate.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


... if you listen closely, you'll hear the frost touch the ground as it falls from the trees.

Friday, February 3, 2012

He Just Couldn't Wait ...

...until spring when Mr.B & Grandpa had planned to put up a swing.  So, he did it himself & now he's having a blast!!
EJ on his homemade swing

This is Important to Me ...

I've spent the last couple hours on the internet researching the non-profit organizations we donate to.  Unfortunately, the organizations' web-sites did not satisfy my curiosity to "REALLY Know Where the Money Goes" (see previous post for clarification).  Thus I've drafted the following letter to send via e-mail or U.S. mail.  For me, this issue is a serious matter of conscience.  If it is as important to you as it is to me, I encourage to you investigate also.

Organization / Foundation Name

City, State, Zip

RE: allocation of revenue

Dear Sirs,

Via various news broadcasts, it has recently come to our attention that many non-profit organizations often allocate, donate and/or “funnel” revenue into other non-profit organizations. For example, news headlines have brought to our attention that the non-profit Susan G. Komen Foundation donates funds to Planned Parenthood and many other non-profit organizations.

We have been a faithful supporter of Organization's / Foundation's Name for several years. It is our desire to continue supporting non-profit organizations we personally believe are responsible and worthy. However, in light of recent revelations regarding many non-profit organizations re-directing funds into other non-profits, we find we must investigate the organizations and foundations we currently support. In good moral conscience we can not allow our surplus resources to be used to support any entity that violates our faith and/or personal morals.

Pointedly, does Organization / Foundation Name donate revenue to other non-profit organizations or entities? If so, would you please provide us with a list of the organizations and/or entities you support? In an effort to be responsible to our faith and our moral conscience we have decided to temporarily suspend all charitable giving until we have a response from each organization we currently bless with our surplus resources.

Eagerly awaiting a response to our inquiry,


Do You REALLY Know Where the Money's Going?

WoW!  Do I feel really stupid or what?  I had NO idea that the non-profit Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Prevention and Cure(s) donated revenue to Planned Parenthood and other non-profit organizations each and every year.  (see article here: ).

Although we've never personally donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, this is an eye opener and a fine example as to why we need to be VERY cautious as to where we donate our surplus resources.  An immediate investigation into the organizations we do humbly try to bless is a priority.  We never want to find that our generosity is, or could possibly be, funneled into another organization or industry that violates our faith, morals and/or our conscience.

Do you know where your donated resources are going?

Frugal Feasting Friday

About a year and a half ago, I realized that I had put on a few more pounds than I was comfortable with.  Being a major foodie,  I know that cravings for full flavored and exceptional textures are my downfall.  I also know that many of the popular diets and programs out there may have helped me loose weight initially but, once the weight was lost I'd return to my old eating habits and begin the yo-yo dieting cycle of so many others.  So, how did I loose weight and still eat all the foods I love to cook?  The secret for me was counting calories.  The concept was simple, I had to expel more calories per day than I consumed.  I began by taking a serious look at my caloric intake.  I discovered that while I cooked, served and ate fairly healthy meals, my portion sizes were very over sized.  Portion control and being conscience of pairing lower calorie dishes with the higher calorie ones was the system that worked for me AND it was far more cost effective than any other dieting plan I've ever come across.  In only 3 months I lost 40 pounds AND I've kept the weight off for an entire year. 

Today's Frugal Feasting recipe is great for breakfast on-the-go.  It contains highly nutritional spinach, is less than 300 calories and cost only $0.74 per serving.

 Florentine Egg McMuffin
(8 servings)

8 English muffins, toasted
8  1oz. slices of cheese
6 eggs
1 tbsp. milk
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. onion, finely chopped
2 c. fresh spinach, chopped

Place a slice of cheese on one half of a toasted English muffin.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Whisk until lemon colored.  Set aside.  Over medium low heat, melt butter in skillet; add onion and saute' until translucent.  Add chopped spinach and stir until it begins to wilt.  Pour egg mixture over spinach mixture and cook over medium-low heat stirring occasionally until eggs are set.  Spoon egg mixture onto English muffins to make a Florentine Egg McMuffin sandwich.
281 calories per sandwich

Make it to-go:  Cool sandwiches to room temperature.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container or plastic bag in freezer until ready to use.  Remove from plastic wrap and re-heat in microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Want to reduce the calorie count to only 178 calories per sandwich?:  serve the sandwich open faced with only 1/2 an English muffin, substitute egg whites for whole eggs and replace the cheese with a reduced fat variety.

Cost breakdown per serving:
English muffin $0.15
spinach & onion $0.11
cheese $0.25
egg $0.13
milk & butter $0.10

TOTAL:  $0.74 each