Archive: July 2010

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By Charlotte

I love fabric. I love everything about it. I love the way it feels. I love the rows and rows of it in a fabric store. And I love all the different colors. I love the endless possibilities the fabric has to offer.

A little known fact about me – I’m a closet quilter. I have not had any formal training, but my mom taught me how to sew and I saw a quilt once. So now I quilt – when I have the time.

I thought I might share some of my quilts since Chelsea’s posting is a little hit and miss these days.

I’ve named them all. (I hope that’s not too weird.)

This is “Field Eight”. It was my first queen sized quilt. It took me two weeks while living at home doing nothing but quilting and eating.

This is “Coming Home”. I made it from a picture my father gave me. It is Lucy the cow leading the herd back to the home place. It took me a month during one summer in Palm Springs, CA.

This is “A Mother’s Heart”. On the left side (as you are looking at it) there are pictures from verses in Psalms. The right side has pictures from verses in Proverbs. My mom loves Psalms and her husband likes Proverbs.

This is “Do You Love Me?”. It has the story of Peter’s life as told in the Bible quilted in the border. I learned a lot while doing this quilt, both about Peter and quilting.

This is “Hidden Heart” It was my first attempt at a more traditional pattern. There is a butterfly print (the light green looking pieces) that I absolutely loved. It had purple and orange butterflies with highlights of gold. It was almost too beautiful to cut – almost.

I’ll show you the rest of my quilts another day. I hope this encourages you to express yourself in some small way today.


Poor Girl!

So… the girls and I are in Idaho for the week and Buck will join us for the weekend. We have a very important wedding to attend on Saturday and are making a week out of the event. That being said, we made our first trip to the Emergency Room Monday night. The short and sweet (?) version of the story is that our baby Kate fell forward into a parked bike and split her lip open. Thanks to the ER doc, one with very quick and steady fingers, she has three stitches keeping her top lip together. It was traumatic for our little miss. She had to be held down and strange people worked on her face- you can imagine how much any 17 month old would enjoy that. By the time we left the ER it was 9 o’clock and she was wiped. She fell asleep in her carseat before we pulled out of the parking lot. Despite her sleep she still managed to sniffle all the way back to my parents house. Poor girl.

Good news is that it’s healing right up and is hardly noticeable. Take a look…


Not too bad, is it?

That was woe number one out of two. Besides having stitches, Kate also managed to drop a big one (like, massive, gargantuous!) in the bathtub last night. Fortunately for you I had no desire to take pictures of that.  Oh! The woes of parenting!


Breakfast at Emily’s: Banana Bread

Straight from Emily’s kitchen to yours…

I love banana bread.

I love moist, slightly gooey banana bread.

This is my all-time favorite banana bread recipe but you see, I don’t get to make banana bread very often because my family loves bananas. Bananas don’t last long enough to get overripe, so if I’m going to make banana bread, I have to specifically buy overripe bananas. Our local grocery store often has a shelf of overripe bananas for 29 cents a pound or less. Sometimes the cashiers feel bad for charging me for overripe bananas and knock the price down a little bit more. I like it when that happens.

Usually, if I’m going to make banana bread, I like to make it on Saturday nights. This recipe makes two loaves (but is easily halved) so we eat one for dessert and then we have the other in the morning for breakfast before church. Sunday morning breakfasts are usually rushed and banana bread is easily portable and doesn’t leave as many crumbs if we have to take it with us.

Banana Bread

4 or 5 large overripe bananas

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

4 eggs

2/3 cup water

3 1/3 cups flour

2 tsps. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of two loaf pans.

Peel bananas and put in mixing bowl.


Mix until all smooshed up.


Add butter and mix.


Add eggs, sugar and water. Mix.


Add dry ingredients and mix until just moist.


Satisfy the curiosity of onlookers by letting them see if it actually tastes like bananas:


Divide batter between the two loaf pans and bake for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick poked in center of loaf comes out clean.


Wait 6 or 7 minutes and then run a thin knife around the outside edge of the loaf and then turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack.


Don’t live or die by the toothpick check though; with these loaves I checked with a toothpick and it came out clean; sure it looked a little doughy but hey, the toothpick came out clean. I let the loaves sit and then turned one out of the pan and the middle dripped out all over my counter. So I scraped it up and carefully placed it back into the middle of the loaf (my counters were clean), put the loaf back in the pan and baked it for another 10 minutes; that is, until it no longer looked doughy in the center. It still turned out yummy. Sometimes these things happen.


Slice thickly and eat it all up.

You might want to share too.


Camera Woman Woes

By Charlotte

As the “unofficial” photographer of our family, there are job hazards I was not aware of.

1. My husband.

I thought he knew I was right beside the pickup – with a camera.

2. The foreground.

Yes, that is a pile of calf parts over the fire. I do not yet know how to do those really cool photos where the foreground (or background) is out of focus.

3. The subject matter.

Actually, I know that one has to be careful around mama cows. I just wanted to show off the flies around the eyes. I’m not sure why I like the flies around the eyes, but I do.

4. Where all your children are.

I am constantly losing one –

or two – or all four.

5. Some one else “borrowing” your camera

and taking photos of you – the camera woman – when you are “working”.

So now you know some of the trials Chelsea and I face to bring you pictures of our lives.

In truth, I am very thankful for this site, as it encourages me to take pictures of our daily lives. And people borrowing the camera is great because sometimes you get pictures like this:

This is my husband and his father. It was taken by my mom-in-law two weeks before my dad-in-law died.


The House That Built Me

I’m currently in another state. The state I grew up in. The state my parents reside in. Idaho. It’s a wonderful place. I don’t know if I’ve told you that “home” isn’t really home for me. My parents, upon the completion of raising their family decided to sell the house I grew up in, including the pasture I got married in… and move south a field. Literally. So when I come “home “I actually drive right past home and turn into the driveway that used to only be pasture. Have you heard Miranda Lambert’s song “The House That Built Me”? That’s me. Except I have no desire to ask the neighbors if I can go sit in my old room so I can take some memories with me. It’s fine for Miranda, but I think that would be kind of awkward and weird for me.

I’ll tell you something else that’s weird. Empty-nesters. I drove over here with my parents– it’s a five hour trip and we were all packed into Dad’s extended cab pickup. The three of us (and now five including my girls) haven’t traveled together in quite awhile. I forgot about my parents’ idiosyncrasies… and now there are new ones! For instance, my dad likes to “high five” someone whenever he thinks he’s done a really good job. (??) And the weirder part is that my mom “high fives” him whether he did a good job or not. He totally drove in the wrong direction and we had to go way out of our way in a place we shouldn’t have had to. He then thought he deserved a “high five” when we were finally going the right way. I refused. My mom complied. “High fives”— I’m telling you my parents are nutty. He is also anti-air-conditioning. It was approximately 180 degrees when we were driving and I was sitting in the sun. I’m not sure if he thinks it’s bad for the engine in his Ford or what, but turning on the ol’ AC is not looked on very kindly. In fact, my “messing with” the air conditioning created quite a glare in my ol’ dad. A glare that, to his dismay, didn’t slow me down a bit ;-)

The really fun part about my parents weirdness is that they’re great to tease. They just laugh and tease back when I make fun of them. The bantering made for a really fun time. Friendly banter makes five hour car rides with impatient children much less grueling. I highly recommend it.


P.S. I tried to re-create the high five experience for you and take a picture of my dad doing it. He refused. He glared.

Charlotte’s Alice: Fear

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.

(The road to the ranch.)

Alice arrived at my Dad’s ranch two weeks after I did.  I was so happy to see her.  She was like looking at a glimpse of sanity, except that she looked scared to death.  Our housing accommodations were a little lot rundown.  To get to our bedrooms in the “bunkhouse,” we had to walk through a path of cobwebs.  I was oblivious to these conditions because it was just how my Dad’s ranch was.  Alice, however, was very much aware.  That first night in her new room I heard her whisper, “Charlotte, what’s that noise?”

“Mice,” I answered glibly.

“Mice?” I could almost hear her gulp.

“Yep, mice.  They’ll quiet down in a bit.”

By the looks of her the next morning, I don’t think she slept much.

(The view from the bunkhouse porch.)

My father is a tall man.  He doesn’t say much, which some people can be intimidated by.  Alice was one of those people.  She was sure my father was the scariest human she had ever met.  My Dad, however, is actually a kind-hearted teddy bear.

That first morning my Dad took Alice and me down to the dilapitated corrals and we were to move the corral critters to a different pen.  The fence was nonexistant in a spot.  There was a hole in the fence.  My Dad told Alice to stand in the hole.

One of the corral critters was called Star Gazer.  He had several physical problems and one of them was that his eyes were rolled down so in order to see he had to tip his nose up in the air – like he was gazing at the stars.  Star Gazer still couldn’t see very well even with his nose in the air and he mostly navigated by memory.  He started toward Alice and his intentions were clear – go through the hole to the feed bunk.  I could see Alice weaken, and who wouldn’t with a mostly blind yearling coming right at you.  Dad would have none of it.  He began to loudly encourage Alice to hold her ground.  It sounded something like, “Turn him.  Turn him!  DON’T LET HIM BY YOU!!!”

Before Dad reached “BY YOU”,  Alice was waving her arms and jumping up and down and yelling, “HUHHH. HUHHH,” for all she was worth.  Dad was by Alice’s side in two strides and he, ever so gently, encouraged Star Gazer to go another way with a thump on the nose.

When the smoke cleared, Alice confided in me that she wasn’t sure which to be more afraid of ~my Dad or Star Gazer.  Keep in mind that Star Gazer was a 600 pound year old bovine that couldn’t see very well and in the end Dad won.


Decorating on a Budget

By Charlotte

Have you ever seen those decorating on a budget sections in magazines?  Where the “Budget” is $2000?  Or decorating on a dime?  Where a dime is $500?

I like to be surrounded by beauty, but my budget is usually less than $5.  So decorating has to be resourceful.  Here are some of my room improvements on my budget.

Recently my mom brought me a new piece.  The cost to me was – free! 

It is a steamer trunk that belonged to my grandmother.  She never traveled overseas with it.  She just used it to go to school.  It has her initials “JEH” in gold.  It is now a beautiful addition to my home as a coffee table.  Parents are great resources for the budget-minded young family.

Another decorating-on-a-budget gem is this:

A shelf.  I had the brackets in my “never-know-when-you-might-need-it” box.  The wood on top is some scrap from a dismanteled wild bird cage.  The bottle and jar are heirlooms from my WY ranch.  I had the picture frames already.  I hung the brackets, placed the board on top.  Gathered up the decorations and voila – a wall piece for, you guessed it, free!

Tack is always a “go to” for me.

If I have empty space and I don’t know what to put in it, I put tack.  Spurs and bits are always nice, but so are mecates and get down ropes.  Add some books and photos and voila – decorating guru.  (The corner cabinet is courtesy of Mom also.  My grandfather made it for my grandmother – the one with the trunk – for their first wedding aniversary.)

Do any of you have any decorating tips for the less than $5 budget?


Grace in the Midst of Grief

I mentioned before that my Dad-in-law died. What I didn’t tell you was that he died two hours before his daughter’s wedding rehearsal.  He had been sick for a while and told the family that he wanted the wedding to go on as planned, regardless of his condition.

So the wedding went on.

We all got dressed, went to the rehearsal, and then the rehearsal dinner.  We cried and talked until late at night, got up the next day, and did a wedding.

The Bible is full of weddings and always the weddings are a time of celebration, so the family announced to the people in attendance that we would like to take the time to celebrate my sister-in-law’s wedding.

I heard many comments during and after the wedding. 

The consensus was: It was a beautiful wedding, one of the best ever.

We, as a family, knew that God’s grace was sufficient to grieve the loss of the head of the family and celebrate this important wedding.  However, the extent of God’s grace went far beyond our expectations and overflowed onto all who attended.  We didn’t ignore the grief or even set it aside, we simply let it be covered by the God of Our Salvation.

Another amazing aspect of my sister-in-law’s wedding was the atmosphere.  It wasn’t just another “good party”.  It was a celebration.  People weren’t just having a good time, they were celebrating – a choice with purpose.  The family, especially, chose to celebrate.  It was purposeful and deliberate, not just following emotions of the moment.

There were teary moments, to be sure, but God’s grace was there to help us through those moments and not get lost in them.  My prayer is that all who attended saw firsthand the power of Jehovah Jirah (God the Provider) and His Grace in the midst of grief.


Here’s The Thing

Alright. Here’s the thing. We moved. We’re still moving. It’s a painful process, I mean the actual sorting, downsizing, moving part. One that pleasantly reminds me of childbirth. Do you remember the moment in childbirth when you realized no one on the face of this planet could do for you what you had to? I remember that moment. I looked at my nurse friends, Tasha & Wendy, and I said, “I wish you could do this for me!” Wasn’t that nice of me– to wish my pain onto someone else? I was desperate, what can I say? It is after all “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Don’t think too hard about that. Anyway, moving is much like childbirth. No one can do it for me. I’m the only one who can sort through our crap belongings and decide what to keep, what to sell, what to donate, and what to burn.

While in the midst of this moving adventure, the internet hookup guy came to our house to hook up the internet. He was there to install “broadband” super-fast internet. So… he did his site survey and guess what? We failed. We are not in their broadband area…. yet. We will be… in a week… or a month. I want broadband. We aren’t in DSL country. I can’t contemplate dial-up. I want broadband. My only other option is satellite internet, for which I have to sign a contract or pay a huge installation fee. I want broadband. So… what does this all mean? It all means that until we have access to broadband… in a week… or a month, I will be out of posting commission. I’m used to posting everyday! I have things to say to the world! I have pictures to share! I have stories to tell!

Anyway, I’ll be able to get on a computer enough to post once or twice a week. Our Charlotte has all kinds of lovely things to share with you. And Emily will be here Thursday mornings, ready to serve you all breakfast. Emily? Right? OK, share a recipe– there won’t be any serving of breakfast. Fair enough?

I’ll miss you terribly, but I’m trying to think of this as time to finish moving. Time to creatively settle into our new 800 square feet and one closet. I will have all sorts of things to tell you when I get back full time…. there have already been adventures aplenty…

…. a bull gathering adventure this morning. Let’s just say there was a milk cow, an electric fence, and no corrals in sight. We got a bull in our horse trailer. It was an act of our Almighty God and nothing less.

…. our professional bareback riding friend is here for our local rodeo. He brought his super cute wife and baby girl with him. I wish I could show you pictures. I will— later. He’s riding a bucking horse tonight- a horse named Scrawny Johnny.

and there are adventures in our future…

…. next week I’ll be walking down the aisle…. as a bridesmaid (of course!). One of my bestest buddies from growing up is getting married. I haven’t seen her in four years because she lives in NYC and I live in the wild west. I have deemed her the “Corporate Cowgirl” and to put it mildly, I can’t wait to see her and celebrate with her!!

…. the second of two Rodeo Bible Camps is coming right up. This time the whole family goes. It’s a wild and wooley western adventure.

OK. I have to go. I’ll miss you. I’ll be back just as soon as I can.


Breakfast at Emily’s: Soaked Oatmeal

For breakfast today, we’re just having oatmeal. Plain old, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs, eat-it -’cause -it’s-good-for-you, oatmeal.

I like oatmeal.

Well, I like it with brown sugar and milk. My kids like it with brown sugar and raisins or sometimes even blueberries. This last weekend we went and picked 25 pounds of blueberries (the kids actually helped without complaining one bit!) so we had fresh blueberries on our oatmeal the next day.

My wonderful husband makes oatmeal for breakfast 2 or 3 times a week. I wish you could have seen his face when I asked him if I could take pictures while he made the oatmeal.

I bet you’re saying, “Oh, come on, can’t most people figure out how to make a decent bowl of oatmeal? Don’t you just throw some oats and water in a pan and cook it till it’s done?”

Yep. That’s pretty much it.

Except for one small detail; we add one more step and soak our oatmeal overnight in the water with a little bit of whey thrown in to help break down the phytic acid  and make it easier to digest.  So today I’m going to show you how I “make” whey and it’s wonderful by-product, cream cheese.

I start with a good quality whole milk, plain yogurt. I use Nancy’s.


Then I dump one whole container into a little cloth bag I made. Before I made the bags, though, I used a thin cotton dishtowel and just tied the top edges all together to form a bag.


Rubber band the top closed and hang the whole thing from a cupboard knob. Place a bowl underneath to catch the whey.


When it stops dripping I squeeze it ever-so-gently to coax the rest of the whey out. But not too much or the cream cheese/yogurt will squeeze out too and that’s not good.


Then I empty the bag into a dish and cover and store the “cream cheese” in the fridge until I want it.  I use this in place of the yogurt and egg in my cinnamon rolls when I have it.


The whey I store in a glass canning jar with lid in the fridge so that it is handy when my husband goes to make oatmeal.

For the oatmeal, put oats (as many or as few as you want) in a saucepan.


Add warm water just to barely cover the oats. And add about a tablespoon of whey.                       Mix it all together and put on the lid. Let it soak until morning.


When you get up to make breakfast in the morning turn on the burner to medium. Add a little brown sugar and cook until hot. Make sure to stir or it will stick. Since my husband hardly ever measures anymore (it’s not an exacting science),  there are some mornings that he adds a tiny bit of water and some mornings that he lets it cook a little longer to evaporate extra water out.

Top with raisins or blueberries or any other type of topping you so desire and eat it all up.



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