Flowers Abound!

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

My sweetie has been working on our yard for a few weeks now. This is one of the ways he shows his love.  I think he’s hung at least a dozen baskets of different kinds of flowers all around the house, and they look amazing.  We live in a very small house – we’re inadvertently part of the “tiny house movement” – and the flowers add so much character to the house.  He’s also planted a ton of different flowers in the flower beds out front.

Luckily we have a large backyard, and he’s been working on fixing up the patio and putting in the garden  Last week he brought 20 bales of straw home from a farm down south.  The hope is it will help keep our dog Sam from getting so dirty but I’m not holding out a lot of hope – Sam is very busy all the time. There are lot of rabbits, robins, butterflies and dragonflies to keep track of.  There is a kiddie pool to play in, and a shed to get stuck under.  There’s a lot of fence to check every day, and even some buried bones to check on.

Sam

Sam is a treasure and very intelligent, but I was starting to think he’d never learn how serious I am when I say “Come”.  Well, the other day he was out in the yard being naughty, and I went out and told him to come.  That was his signal to play!  You could just see the wheels turning and the grin on his face (he’s quite the joker).  I could just see the thoughts he was having, “Yay!  She wants to chase me!  I want her to chase me!  She loves it!  This is so fun!  Ha ha ha!  You can’t catch me!”  (no kidding, Sammy).  I got so frustrated I threw the chuck it (tennis ball thrower) near him.  It hit the ground a few feet from where he was and I literally saw the light come on – he got it!  “Come” means get over here right now.  He’s made about 180 degree turn around since then.  That was one of our last major hurdles in training.  I need to make sure he obeys pretty much instantly so I can keep him safe.  I’ve had dogs my whole life, and have had a couple of puppies, but it’s been at least 15 years since our last puppy so I had forgotten a few things. No worries though, Sam is super good at reminding me.  And Border Collies can be a bit more of a handful than other breeds.  Luckily our dear friends also have BCs and have given us a ton of good advice, since they actually run their dogs on sheep. So they have some great training techniques (which really did not include throwing the chuck it, but actually did include breaking the bubble by getting their attention somehow).

Sounds like thunder outside, and it is supposed to rain, but it could be some fireworks.  I’m hoping for a really good thunder boomer tonight, I love storms.

I decided to try my hand at watercolor.  I’m not super impressed but I’m learning so we’ll take what we can get.   This card is actually more colorful in person.

hello

For this card I used the Kuretake Water Color Markers by Zig.  They come in just beautiful colors.  I will say though that I have a fairly new set and some of them are dryer than I think they should be.  It could be I’m storing them incorrectly – I have them on their side.  I also used a water brush. I stamped it with a black hybrid ink – I think Memento – on watercolor paper.  I put the color on the paper and then drew it out with the water brush for all the floral pieces.

For the background I wet the paper first and then put the color down, because I wanted it to be messier looking.  Once it was dry I cut out the center with a frame die cut.  I cut a second frame out of two pieces of fun foam and glued it behind the frame to pop it up from the rest of the card.  I stamped the sentiment in black hybrid ink, and when it was dry I used a Versamark inkpad and just covered it with ink, then I used clear embossing powder.  I added more powder before it cooled down and then heat set it again, so it has two layers of embossing powder.  Then I cut it out and used foam tape to attach it. I wanted the sentiment to look like an old fashioned label maker.

I spritzed it with some sparkly spritzer stuff and mounted it to a light blue background card.

Lots of tough stuff going on in the world right now. Let’s do our best to be kind to one another.  One of my favorite sayings is, “Be especially kind to everyone you meet, you never know what kind of a battle they’re fighting.”

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Kim

 

 




Solving a Mystery and Making Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

It’s not about winning or losing, but love and respect. Max Lucado

Our little friend Twiggy is visiting us this week.  We thought Lou would enjoy having some company since he lost his pal Keats a few weeks ago. And truth be told, we needed the company as well.  Twiggy’s a tiny dog – she weighs abut 15 pounds and stands about a foot high.  She’s a mixture of Italian Greyhound and Rat Terrier, and so sweet! She loves running around in our fenced-in yard.  And when I say “fenced-in” I mean a 6-foot fence that extends into the ground.  So after she’d been here a day or two, my next door neighbor came over to report that Twiggy had been leaving “presents” in her yard. Which completely puzzled me, because we have a fenced-in yard. And just to reiterate, when I say “fenced-in” I mean a 6-foot fence. We talked for a bit and she added that the neighbor who lives behind us, across the alley, had chased her out of his yard several times. Now Twiggy can jump pretty high – she easily jumps up 3 feet onto the table by the window – so I thought she may have been getting out by jumping up on something by the fence (like the summer lawn furniture which is now stacked for the winter).  But I couldn’t understand how she could get back in if she was escaping. And frankly I was pretty sure there was another small black and white dog running around, because our neighborhood is full of dogs.  And neither neighbor had been able to catch her, although it was weird that it seemed like the only time there were “presents” was when Twiglet visits us. 

Well, yesterday I left Twiggs in the house and Lou and I went outside.  I was trying to see if there was somewhere she could get out. Jim decided to let her out because she was raising such a ruckus. She came shooting out the back door and jumped the fence.  THE SIX FOOT FENCE. Sailed over it like a bird. I was so shocked I almost didn’t believe what I had seen – but luckily the other neighbor and Jim both saw it.  Apparently the little fart’s been just jumping in and out at will, and apparently she doesn’t like to use her own backyard as a potty. Honestly, I can’t remember being that surprised – at least not for a very long time!! Unfortunately, she’ll jump over at any provocation, so now I’ve got to put her on a lead when she’s outside. And it has to be set up just right so she can’t jump the fence – I sure don’t want her hanging there if she tries it (not to fear – she’s got a harness so we don’t hook up to her collar).  But I need to keep her safe. There are lots of fast cars in our neighborhood.

Okay, it’s finally COLD out. We’ve had an absolutely amazing fall here in Minnesota, but like they say, “don’t like the weather in Minnesota?  No problem, just wait 5 minutes”. Today I went out for lunch at about noon – it was practically balmy at almost 50 degrees and sunny!  No wind to speak of, just a beautiful day.  I needed to have the window in the car open.  Five hours later I left work, and it was so windy and cold that I couldn’t even stand outside for a few minutes to talk to a friend! We even had to put a coat on the Twiglet since she’s practically naked.

And to add insult to injury, it’s dark out very early now (since daylight savings time switched over). I know it’s terrible, but I’m counting down the days until 12/21 – the Winter Solstice, or the shortest day of the year. I love that day – the very next day the days start to get longer.  If you aren’t from Minnesota you may not understand the impact this has on being able to get through the coldest and snowiest part of the year. We’re being told this winter is going to be similar to last winter – when we broke records for snowfall amounts. After the Winter Solstice, as early as a month later, you can see a real difference in the light. My mom and step dad started wintering in Florida about 10 years ago.  At first I couldn’t understand why – but now, I completely see the point! I really think I’d love to live in Alaska in the summertime, when it’s light out for almost 24 hours. But Minnesota is a truly beautiful place to live, even in the dead of winter.

So tonight it’s going to be a chilling 23 degrees for the low temp. A perfect soup night! And one of my favorite soups is  Greek Lemon Chicken soup. You may recall that I made this for my Girl’s Games and Giving group in September.  It was a big hit, and I decided to make another batch.  This soup has a lovely lemon flavor.  I believe I found this recipe on All Recipes but I’m not sure. I do know that the original recipe called for double the amount of lemon juice, but I like the lemon flavor to be a bit more subtle.  Experiment – you may enjoy a more intense lemon flavor. I love to make BIG batches of soup when I do make it, because it’s great freezer food – I can take a frozen container for lunch and it acts like an ice pack in my lunch bag – but by the time lunch rolls around it’s thawed quite a bit, and I just have to nuke it for a minute or two.  This soup freezes nicely as long as you freeze it without any additions like rice or noodles.

Start with these simple ingredients.

Dice the onions and celery and grate the carrots.

You’ll need some white pepper (watch out, it’ll make you sneeze!)

Mix the veggies, pepper, chicken base, lemon juice and chicken stock together in a large heavy saucepan.  Cook until the veggies are tender – about 20 minutes or so.

While the veggies are cooking, you’ll need to gather eggs, flour, cooked chicken and butter. You can use rotisserie chicken if you like, or just cook some chicken breasts (I like to rub them with a little olive oil, add some salt and pepper, and bake for about 45 minutes at 350°).

Separate the yolks from the whites, and save the whites for something else (you can freeze them!)

Beat the egg yolks until they lighten to a lemon yellow.

Mix together the flour and butter, and gradually add it to the soup, whisking constantly. After it’s mixed in thoroughly, simmer the soup for another 10 minutes or so to thicken it. Take some of the hot soup and pour slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly – this will temper the eggs so they won’t scramble.  Pour the eggs back into the soup and heat through.

Dice the chicken and add to the soup – heat through.

This soup is wonderful “as-is”, but I like it even better with rice. I make the rice separately and I don’t add it to the soup – this is because I like to freeze it – and cooked rice seems mushy to me after it’s been frozen.

Add the soup to the rice, and you have some warm and filling yumminess!

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh or reconstituted lemon juice (fresh is always better!)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3 tablespoons chicken base (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken
  • cooked white rice

Directions:

  1. Combine the onions, celery, carrots, lemon juice, white pepper and chicken stock in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Mix the flour and butter together into a smooth paste.  Gradually whisk this mixture into the simmering soup.  Continue to simmer for about 10 more minutes.
  4. Beat the egg yolks until they turn a light lemon color, about 60 seconds. Very gradually add about 1 cup of the hot soup to the egg yolks, whisking vigorously and constantly.  This tempers the eggs so they don’t scramble from the heat. 
  5. Pour the egg/soup mixture back into the the saucepan and cook several more minutes until heated through, stirring constantly.
  6. Add the chicken and heat through.
  7. Serve alone or over cooked rice.
  8. This soup can be frozen.

 

Farewell to a Faithful Friend

When God gave you to me he never said that you were mine, that I could keep you always – only borrowed for a time. Now he’s called you home, I’m sad and I shed tears. Yet, I’m glad he loaned you to me and we had these many years. Unknown

It’s been a very long time since my last post.  But as many of you know, our dear dog Keats has been struggling with some health problems, and I’ve spent a lot of time with him the past few weeks.  Last Wednesday Jim and I had to make the difficult decision to stop his suffering permanently. We had to take him to the emergency vet late in the evening, and they were so kind and gentle through the entire process – hats off to the Emergency Veterinary Service in Golden Valley.

As you can imagine, we’ve shed many tears and had many heart-rending moments, and I’m sure there are many more to come. Keats has been a part of our lives since he was 8 weeks old, and would have been 13 in just two weeks. He was such a wonderful dog – he had such a soft heart, and always wanted to comfort anyone who was sad or hurting – he seemed to have a sixth sense about people.  Whenever he had any procedure at the vet, he would lay his sweet little face against the vet’s face and give a little kiss, as if to reassure them that he understood they were trying to make him better.  Our other dog, Lou, who is a rescue dog, has some issues with being brushed and groomed.  Keats knew this, and whenever I would groom Lou, Keats would come over and stand by me, as if to make sure I was careful with Lou. He never wanted anyone to suffer.

We got Keats from the same breeder who had sold me my first purebred border collie, Jack.  Jack was actually Keats uncle – even though there were 11 years between them. Keats had a wonderful sense of humor – and he was a tattle tale!  Lou likes to counter surf, and anytime I was out of sight of the kitchen and Lou would start to get into trouble, Keats would come and find me, and worry me until I followed him upstairs so I could stop Lou from being naughty.

We are so grateful for the many wonderful years we had with this precious dog, and so many people have expressed their sadness at his passing.  We are blessed with very good friends who care deeply for us and share our grief, and that is invaluable. I know that as time passes the sharpness of the grief we feel will soften and we’ll be able to laugh and talk about Keats more normally.

This week I’ll start posting some more recipes and other fun things. In the meantime, I’m lifting a glass to my sweet little Keats!

 

 

Home for Life

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. Matthew 10:29

Last month it was my turn to host our monthly meeting of Girls Games and Giving.  As usual, a great time was had by all. I made one of my favorite soups – Greek Lemon Chicken Soup. I’m going to make another batch this month and I’ll post the recipe and how-to pictures then.  But I just wanted to post a quick note about the charity I chose.  To refresh, this group is open to anyone who wants to join, and it’s for ladies only.  Every month a different person hosts the party, and provides food and games.  Every member brings $10 to the party.  During the evening, the hostess reveals which charity she has chosen for the donations collected that night.  We have collected over $2300 in a little over two years. And had a blast doing it.

The organization I chose is called Home for Life, and we raised $100 for them. I encourage you to go to their Website at homeforlife.org and read through it – but I caution you, have some tissues handy.  It’s an amazing organization.  They take in animals that truly have no other options.  These are animals that may have behavioral issues, health problems (some quite severe and ongoing), or may just be elderly.  In any case, these are all animals that would be considered unadoptable for some reason.

As an animal lover and dog owner, it breaks my heart to know that there are animals out there that I can’t help.  But Home for Life is doing just that. They have a state of the art facility where animals live in townhouses and are grouped together according to personality traits and what is best for them. 

Read the stories.  Look at the pictures. And if you can, send them a donation. They are doing a remarkable job. And as I watch my dear old boy Keats coming to the end of his life, I am so grateful for places like Home for Life who will take in even elderly dogs and help them live the remainder of their lives with dignity, love, and fun.

Dogs

The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too. Samuel Butler