Saturday, September 25, 2010

Goats ate my blog

The Fireball Chronicles mentioned in the previous post is dead.

No one wants to hear about my frustrations with my weight ... not even me.

I much prefer talking about our new goats and alpacas, kids and wild bread, and how cool God is.

Come on over to Angel Acres and feel the love! :D

Peace out, Y'all!

Monday, December 28, 2009

And now for something not entirely different...

Hey Folks!

Just wanted to let you know I'm combining Lucky Seven Cat Ranch and The Magnificents into one blog under a new name and location.

Come visit me at The Fireball Chronicles! I will continue to write about the same stuff... and something entirely new and previously undiscussed!

For now... this blog will also remain live should you wish to plumb the archives.

Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

True Love

How do you know when it's the Real Thing?

When your man builds you a fire in the middle of June because he knows just how much you would love it... then, puts on his reading glasses so he can see what he's doing while he paints your toes in front of said fire...

THAT, Ladies, is the man to keep for the rest of your days.

Thank you for the AMAZING birthday, Honey, and Happy Fathers Day, too!

I Love you more than "love."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Things I Know For Sure Now That I'm 42

In my four-plus decades on this planet, I have learned, or perhaps more accurately realized and assimilated, more in the past 24 months than in the sum of the previous 480.

These realizations range from profound to just plain silly and what follows is a by-no-means-complete list in no particular order:

• There is no greater or more powerful path to REAL Freedom than complete surrender to Truth. The process for me hasn't been pretty, easy, instantaneous or anything less than excruciating, but the payoff has truly been life-changing. "The Truth Shall Set You Free" may be a cliché ... that doesn't make it any less accurate. The thing about secrets is, you don't realize how heavy they are until you have none. What sweet relief!

• Miracles happen. Every day. Everywhere. You've just got to be willing to see them for what they are and stop using limiting, cyinical words like "coincidence," "accident," and "fluke." God loves us and wants to surprise us with happy things like any loving parent does. This morning He surprised me with two, very appreciated gifts: My children slept until nearly 10:00 (which NEVER happens) AND a "bouquet" of daisies that just appeared in our pasture this morning, right outside my kitchen window. These are the ONLY daisies in our pasture. Two acres of weeds and grass, never one daisy and precisely on June 20th... Boom. Like I said. Little miracles.

• When he puts his mind to it, my husband is an excellent cook! This morning he got inspired to make me strawberry crepes for my birthday... and he knocked it out of the park! I'm quite certain that if he ever got truly turned on to the idea, he would outstrip my culinary abilities in a heartbeat. While I await that glorious day, however, I will just enjoy his momentary gourmet outbursts and my current reign as primary house chef.

• Crepes are an absolutely outstanding way to serve fresh strawberries!

• And when you run out of crepes, they're really awesome on left over strawberry dumpling noodles, too.

• My children are two of the most Spiritually aware and powerful people I know.

• I LOVE to mow the lawn! (As long as I'm using our riding mower.)

• I enjoy doing stuff in the yard a whole lot more than I ever thought I would and am now a little obsessed with landscaping, plants and the outside of the house in general.

• There is nothing on this earth that can overpower the fierce beauty of Grace.
Grace: 1. (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
2. My youngest daughter.
Take your pick, they are both truly AMAZING.

• I am certain, no matter how old they get, my children will never outgrow their passion for dirt.

• My oh-so-fragile preemie, first-born has blossomed into a vibrant, resilient, generous, brilliant young woman who embodies genuine love and intense gentleness. Anna can smell God in the approach of a rain cloud, see Him in the emerging chartreuse hues of Spring's first tender shoots and respects every creature and being as unique and precious... from potato bug to toddler.

• My husband is a study in unknown depths. Just when I'm certain I know all there is to him he'll surprise me with some insightful observation, unexpected wisdom, or tender expression that takes my breath away. I am beyond grateful that I had the unparalleled honor and privilege to marry him twice!

• I have never been more contented or truly joyful in my life and there is no place or time I would rather live than here and now and no other person I would rather be than me.

• To say I am "fortunate" is an understatement of Biblical proportions... fact is... looking at my life and the Grace, Love, Abundance and Blessing that define it, I'm convinced I'm God's favorite! :D

Happy June 20th, Y'all!

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Bowl Full of Memories

Good morning, Folks!

I realized last night, much to my chagrin, that it has been a full seven months since I last posted. Good grief! Life is BIG, people!

Facebook has a small part to play, I suppose, but I'm back with a subject that is so worthy of telling the world that I just had to break my unintentional blog silence...


Wondrous and amazing as that fact is all on its own, two other things related to this subject fill me with rapturous glee: 1) this year's crop of our own homegrown strawberries is very nearly perfect... and 2) they are so bountiful, I have enough to make STRAWBERRY DUMPLINGS!!!

These luscious, seasonal gems from my childhood are so far from the usual strawberry fare that they cause a very specific chain reaction of sensations when I eat them... the sum of which is, I am rendered helpless to look in any direction but into the bowl of creamy, chewy, not-too-sweet goodness and bob around in the memory-laden cream... eight years old, hearing my Grannee call from the kitchen, "Who's ready for another one?!"

All arms shoot up in the air... even those with bowls still half full of pink, milky loveliness.

My Grannee got the recipe from my Grandad's mother who was a German raised in Russia but had lived in the states long enough to have English-speaking children. This gave rise to lots of interesting pronunciations of foods that are neither truly German nor Russian making it nearly impossible to actually look up a recipe. I have played with both languages a little bit and have decided that the name Great Grandma called them, "Strobensclays," (spelled phonetically) is most likely a mixture of English and German because the Russian translation of Strawberry Dumpling doesn't sound anything like the word she used and is definitely not appetizing. The German word is "Erdbeerekloss," which if you try to smash "strawberry" into the front of it, and say it quickly to a mob of ravenous American kids in a heavy Russian/German accent, could come out sounding like "Strobensclass..." That's what I'm thinking, anyway. Maybe it was her own secret language. Who knows?

So, all this verbosity on my family history is to say that last night I made Strawberry Dumplings for the first time in years, for the first time ever with homegrown berries, for the first time ever for my kids... so that was a pretty big deal for me.

Anna picked, trimmed and cut all the berries which was a HUGE help!

I don't have a written recipe... I just remember what I saw Grannee do and what they tasted like so I have had to cobble together my own imprecise recipe.

For the strawberry filling, I used about two pints of berries for a small batch. Just enough for dessert. When Grannee made them, these golden packets of love were most often consumed as the main evening meal and required five to six times these proportions.

So, to the berries I added about a third of a cup of sugar.

Traditionally, crackers or bread crumbs are crushed up and mixed with the berries. I'm guessing this is to make the berries go further and well, the saltiness tastes really good with the sweet berries. I didn't have enough crackers OR breadcrumbs so I just made sourdough toast and buttered it, let it cool, cut it up into small-ish chunks and set it aside.

For the dough I used a standard Betty Crocker Egg Noodle recipe:

2 cups flour
3 egg yolks
1 egg
2 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup water

(Here is where I use a food processor)
Measure flour into bowl, add egg yolks, whole egg and salt. Process until egg mixes thoroughly into the flour. Add water one tablespoon at a time mixing thoroughly after each addition but mix only until the dough forms a ball.

Kneed a couple of turns by hand just to bring it together, check the consistency and to feel like you actually participated in making the dough, then let it rest under a dish towel for about 10 minutes.

Roll dough into a rectangle about 1/8" thick (you don't want it too thin or it will pop when you boil it) and cut into squares.

Back to the strawberries...
Mix crackers/crumbs/toast into the strawberries and place a spoonful in the center of each square of noodle dough.

Pinch the tips of squares together and seal up the edges to make little packets. Try to keep the edges as clean as you can to avoid a bad seal.

Drop the finished packets into boiling water.

Fish them out when they start to float. This takes five minutes or less.

Drain and place cooked dumpling in a bowl and drizzle with heavy cream and melted butter.
Great Grandma used to top with buttered croutons also, but I don't remember Grannee doing it very often and I prefer to put more emphasis on the berries.

Top with fresh berries or uncooked filling for color and a layer of brightness in flavor.

A very important note to make here is that, personally, Grannee thought it was a SIN to boil a fresh Oregon strawberry and while she would make dumplings for everyone else, when it came her turn to eat (after everyone else had been fed, of course) she would boil the noodle dough scraps and top them with the uncooked berry mixture... thus preserving the color and texture of the fresh berries and averting strawberry abuse.

I swear to you, these little beauties are worth every ounce of effort they take and I have never met a soul who didn't say "OH, WOW!" upon their first bite.

As for me and mine... strawberry season just isn't long enough!

Enjoy 'em while they're here, Y'all!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More empirical evidence for the Baking Soda Solution and a word of caution

Look at me! Two posts in two days! Who'd-a thunk it?

Greetings fans of natural remedies!

I just wanted to pop in for a moment and give you an update on the whole Miracle that IS Baking Soda thing.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a doctor. Don't claim to be a doctor. Don't want to be a doctor. Read and consider the following at your own discretion and good judgment. If you need a doctor... see one!

In a nutshell. Our dear friend Sodium Bicarbonate has saved the day twice in the space of a little more than a week.

In both cases, a well-established (if not clinically diagnosed) UTI was halted in its tracks and the symptoms reversed within an hour or two by drinking a simple solution of baking soda in water. Isn't that just awesome and amazing?!!!

One of the cases was even a man. When men get UTIs they're even worse than in women. (I know, girls, that seems impossible, but it's true.) Men don't get them as often because the bacteria have so much farther to travel and ordinarily don't get far enough to cause trouble. On the occasion when the bacteria do manage to cause a ruckus, however, it's because they're nasty, mean and royally pissed from all that traffic, heat and distance. Consequently, UTIs in men are also more likely to turn into kidney infections. It's like the bacteria say, "We've come all this way, we're getting our money's worth, dang it!"

YUCK!!! Been there. HATED IT! Imagine the joy that is a UTI all wrapped up in never-ending kidney punches... FUN FUN FUN!

But I digress...

Here's where the word of caution comes in.

It is very important to be aware of what you have been and will be eating when you use baking soda as medicine. It's sodium. It's natural and non-toxic, sure, but you can still overdose on it.

In my experience, the UTI had a chance to really get going so I made the mistake of taking a rounded teaspoon in a cup of water twice, back-to-back... following a Chinese food lunch... followed by a kinda salty dinner and another teaspoon in water before bed.

The result: I woke up feeling like I had the flu. Bad headache, rummy, tired, nauseous... but no UTI symptoms. I called poison control and was informed that two tablespoons is considered an overdose, so I was halfway there even before factoring in the salty food.

It is also important to note that I was quite deydrated before the UTI even got started... which most likely greatly contributed to its onset in the first place and heightened my chances for over-sodiuming myself with the baking soda solution to boot.

Treatment: 6 to 8 oz of water every hour. It could take up to three days for the chemistry to balance out again. If I had actually overdosed, poison control would have advised I go to Emergency to have blood drawn to check for an electrolyte imbalance.

In summery: Both cases were established enough to cause a fever and extreme pain. In the fellow, it was bad enough he left work nearly in tears... when we checked on him that afternoon he was much better. He was back at work and very grateful the next day.

In my case, the discomfort from too much sodium quickly overtook the UTI issues. Those symptoms were gone before the evening was over. The sodium stuff lasted for a couple of days, though steadily lessened once I started drinking enough water.

Lessons learned:
1) Evidence continues to mount in favor of baking soda in water as a fast, effective, convenient, inexpensive, non-pharmaceutical treatment for UTIs.

2) Baking soda and water is CHEMISTRY. The food you eat is CHEMISTRY. Your body is run by CHEMISTRY. Respect the CHEMISTRY. In other words... be aware of what you're putting into your body. Period.

3) What seems to be a safer dosage for UTI treatment is 1 teaspoon in a cup of water to start followed by a half-teaspoon in a cup of water a couple of hours later if symptoms persist. Don't exceed about 2 teaspoons in a 24 hour period. Watch how you feel and don't get crazy with the stuff.

4) Drink plenty of water, but don't overdo that either. 6 to 8 oz per hour seems about right.

If only I had figured this stuff out 20 years ago! I could have a beach house in Bali for all the money I would have saved in trips to the ER and meds... not to mention trying to undo all the wreckage in the pharmaceutical aftermath.

Again. I'm trusting you people to know and listen to your body and do what's right for you. Take control of your health, but seek professional advice if you need to. I'm not a doctor and don't even play one on the internet... I'm just passing along personal experiences and observations for you to consider in conjunction with your own good judgment.

I know lots of you get to this blog because you Googled baking soda and UTI. I would love it if you would comment (anonymously is fine) and give feedback on your own experiences. We could compile a wealth of empirical evidence. How cool would that be?!

Stay healthy, Y'all!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snapshot of a bloggers absence

Yep. I've been MIA.

No, I haven't been trapped under anything heavy... except my life.

My life isn't "heavy" like a burden, there's just a LOT in it.

Like your favorite purse... it can be a lot to lug around, but you wouldn't DREAM of being without it or anything it contains!

So, since my last post of actual significance which was... hmmmm... let's see... August 16th! Agh! Shameful! Since then, a lot has transpired and I just haven't had the organization of thought to make it all presentable in a palatable manner. As a result... I am resorting to a list.

Due to the fact of linear thinking and a chaotic mind being mutually exclusive, this list is most certainly NOT in chronological order:

• On August 21st, Princess gave birth to our newest heifer: Rosalina. She's ADORABLE and is a constant source of smiles and general amusement. (No. I don't have a picture yet. BAD cow mom! I'll post one when I can get her to hold still long enough to snap a shot.) This brings our herd back up to four ladies. If Sparky doesn't throw a bull calf in February when she's due, we may have to resort to buying our beef. Yes, I know it's possible to "freeze" females... I just can't do it. I'm weird. I know. No shock there.

• We are now down to four cats. On October 24, we had to put down our oldest kitty, Houdini, aka: "Old Pet." It was difficult, but better for everyone in the long run. He was 15.

No, I won't be changing the name of the blog to Fabulous Four Cat Ranch. Lucky Seven it will remain because... well... I'm confused enough and it rolls off the tongue so nicely.

• I'm now buying our coffee beans green and (thanks to the tutelage of Lisa B.!) roasting them myself. It's fun, economical and STUPIDLY easy! I may have to do a tutorial post. If you only knew... You'd kick yourself. James has even gotten into helping out with the roasting from time to time. Purely due to his innate brilliance and good judgment he has become quite the roast master himself with virtually no help from me.

• Also, thanks to Lisa B., I am learning to make my own soap! It's so cool. She has these brilliant formulas she has devised herself and has kindly taught me how to prepare them. Chemistry is so cool! Don't be expecting a tutorial on soap making though as this is top secret, proprietary stuff and if I tell you how to do it, she'll have to kill me. If you would like to experience the loveliness and quality of Lisa's hand made soaps you can purchase them at her Etsy shop. Go there now! Christmas is coming, people!!

• Other ongoing projects: making my own pot cheese and Kombuch Tea. Both YUMMY and fun... though the whole Kombucha culture/mushroom/SCOBY thing vexes James. Yea, it's a little creepy looking while it's brewing, but it's SO GOOD and cheap to make as opposed to buying it. Example: At Whole Foods you can buy what I think is about a 12 oz bottle for around $2. I can make two gallons of the stuff for HALF THAT! Uh huh. That's what I'm sayin'.

• Since October 6th we have been making dinner for twelve every Monday and will continue to until at least the end of the year. Due to completely unfathomable and overwhelming circumstances, our Pastors' family has blossomed from four to eight... six of whom are teenagers. That's a pretty expensive endeavor on ministers' incomes, ya gotta admit. So, when the opportunity presented itself for us to contribute in the form of a dinner once a week, we jumped on it. Really, it's fun for us and such a blessing to get to do something so helpful for people who do so much for us. They are SO appreciative it makes us want to do even more. If only we could.

• We had yet another epic battle with the Tar Weed this year. Yuck! There is no magic bullet for this menace of Biblical proportions. It feels SO GOOD when we can finally mow it down in the Fall.

If anyone has advice for how to safely wipe this stuff out for good, please SPEAK UP!

• Anna got her Red Belt in Tae Kwon Do! So, yes, that does mean I travel with my own personal body guard. Don't let the sweet smile and angelic demeanor fool you...

If you're a board, she's lethal.

Lumber trembles at the sound of her name.

She has never missed a board break.

Her kihaps are a thing of fierce beauty. The stuff of legend around the dojo.

I'm glad she's on MY side!

Go, A-Bomb!!

• James had fun painting my hair for Halloween. We even thought briefly about doing something similar the next time I got my hair colored for real but wisely reasoned that much more than a week past October 31st it would cease to look cool and fun. Rather, I would take on the appearance of a soccer mom trying to pass as a rock star. Not pretty.

I stuck with the tried and true color combo and will keep my rock star fantasy safely confined to the shower.

• Under the heading of "Sometimes 'too good to be true' Really ISN'T" or: "God is totally mind-blowingly generous!" we found ourselves the fortunate recipients of a FREE SPA!!

Yes, you read correctly.



To make a VERY long story short... Our church owns a house that had a spa behind it that had to be removed or the insurance company wouldn't cover them.

In the weekly email mail bulletin, buried in the middle was a message that basically said, "if you want it, come get it and it's gotta be gone before the first week of November is up."

Well, as you can well imagine, we were all over that one like syrup on a pancake. We were the first to respond, thanks to the fact that I'm in front of my computer most of the day, and gave the spa a happy new home.

After investing in professional moving services (can you say 700 lbs!) and a small fortune in electrical wiring, breaker and a replaced power relay, it's up and running! Of course we had to shell out some cash to get it set up and working, but we would've had to do that even if we bought a brand new one so we're ecstatic... as are all of our parents' aching backs... :)

Gratitude? We're SOAKING IN IT!!

Well, folks, you are now officially up-to-speed on the dizzying swirl of excitement that is my blissful little life. :) Hope you're all well and happy out there in the blogosphere!

Cheers, Y'all!