Friday, June 22, 2018

Flower Power

Missy Tippens

I've really enjoyed the flowers this spring and summer. I've been on a quest (like in previous years) to get just the perfect magnolia photo to use on my blog or elsewhere. The problem is that it's difficult to find a perfect bloom at the perfect time at a height I can reach!

I thought I'd share a few of my favorites I've captured so far as well as a few other photos of gardenias, roses and hydrangeas.

Some of the earliest blooms we had were the knockout roses. The bushes were packed with blooms this year.

Below is one in my yard that I thought was beautiful. I'm not even sure what it is! It's different from the one I shared with y'all before.



Here is one of my favorites, wisteria--so very southern. This particular plant was growing outside the entrance of a store at an outdoor shopping center. It was so pretty!


Here's another mystery to me (below). Does anyone know what it is?


Here's one of our gardenia bushes. It was packed with buds and blooms this year! (You can see the multiple buds below.)


And here's one of my favorite photos from the many I took of the gardenia blooms. I wish y'all could have smelled the fragrance each time I left my house! This bush is right beside the front porch.


And now the ones I've worked so hard to capture. My neighbors probably think I'm crazy for all the days I've been out in the yard photographing this tree. :) Plus, I've photographed the magnolia trees at our church, too! For weeks, after the worship service, I've walked around one particular (huge) tree, trying to find new blossoms that are close enough to the ground to reach with the camera (my phone). There's nothing more creamy beautiful than a magnolia bloom.



I hope y'all enjoyed a walk through my yard this spring and summer! We've had a beautiful season. Now it's time to replant the pots on my front porch. The pansies can't take the hot sum at this point. I'll share photos of the new flowers later!

www.missytippens.com

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Saving Little Birds, Take Two!

Well, the grackles are at it again... remember how we saved two grackles that tried to nest in the unusued old brick chimney in spring? They managed to get through the chimney baffle in the basement and we opened windows and let them fly free...

So then they nested in a hollow spot on a big, old silver maple outside the kitchen. Of course the maple tree is in the middle of the dog run area... but also on the perimeter of the invisible fencing, so you'd think all right... this could be okay.

Well we are accustomed to rescuing silly babies from picking REALLY BAD areas to hang out and chirp for Mama. It's like saying "Come get me, I'm silly and can't fly well yet" to the farm cats. And farm cats have excellent hearing!  So when we heard the "Peep! Peep! Peep!" of a fresh-from-the-nest fledgling, we paid attention... There were two! Here is one, huddled in the doorway of the family room:


Oh, silly baby!!!! The dogs would have a field day with this, right?

So we kept the dogs in and shooed babies back toward Mama, who was nervously grackling in the tree...

A few hours later, this is on the other side of the house...

Oh, poor misguided little bird!!! :)

Kitties live here!!!!

Me and bird. Or... bird and me? Either way.

Hunters in training, the last two kittens have gone to homes and there are no reportable kitten events on the farm right now! 


Chrysanthemums come today, ready to be planted in happy pots so by the time this post goes live, there will be 550 baby mums set out on black landscape fabric behind the house... and this means daily watering and guarding from critters.... And irises are just finishing here, a long cold spring delayed them... Isn't this gorgeous and delicate looking?

And this is a family favorite because it matches the farmhouse:

And a cherry pie last weekend, RECIPE HERE.... and we've been making multiple batches of jam to sell at the roadside and people are so happy to find it again.

And we love making people happy!

And in the wee small hours of the night, a writer sneaks down the stairs, finds a quiet corner and writes books... sweet, inspirational books to make readers smile and sigh.... before the crazy of the farm day begins again!

And just re-released for Kindle or paperback, Ruthy's beautiful full-length stories at great prices:

Link to Amazon! 

 AND A WONDERFUL SALE ON WISHING BRIDGE!!!!

 So that's what's happening in my neck of the woods... how about yours?

Multi-published inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne loves God, her family, her country, writing sweet books, laughing with friends, dogs, some cats, donkeys, frogs, toads, coffee and chocolate. She writes in the middle of the night when the house is quiet and lives on a pumpkin farm in Western New York with her husband, in and out kids and grandkids and some great fur babies! Visit her online at ruthloganherne.com or friend her on facebook where she loves to chat with readers and writers!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Taste of Cate: You cream, I scream, we all scream for...frozen yogurt???

This blog post was first published by Cate Nolan on June 8, 2016. Enjoy today's Taste of Cate!

* * * * * * * * * * 

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that NOTHING makes me gain weight faster than ice cream.

Cue the wails and hair-pulling.


Confession time - I have zero will power.

Can we see where this is going?

Weight-producing food + no will power = DISASTER

I keep saying I will buy no more ice cream or gelato. But then Talenti comes out with yet another new flavor that begs to be sampled and then added to the repertoire.

Alas, an intervention is called for.

A few days ago, I saw a Pinterest link with frozen yogurt ice cream sandwiches.
I wanted to post the gorgeous photo, but I wasn'tt exactly sure what the regs are about putting Pinterest pins on Blogger, so I Googled and found out it actually came from this website.

Frozen Strawberry yogurt sandwiches.

She has a recipe on the site if you want to go for a more traditional treat.


I did mine a little differently. I didn't want ice cream sandwiches. I just wanted something like gelato or ice cream that didn't have a week's worth of sugar in one serving or a calorie count to rival the national debt.

I decided on two varieties.

 First the less healthier choice (But OH SO GOOD!)
I bought Chobani Coconut Greek Yogurt.
150 calories
13 grams of sugar
12 grams of protein


I mixed in sliced almonds (1 g of sugar), unsweetened coconut  (< 1g of sugar) and Ghirardelli's chocolate chips (6 g sugar/ 1 g protein).



















For the second one, I used Siggi's vanilla yogurt and Chobani Plain Greek.

Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt.

90 calories
4 grams of sugar
15 grams of protein


Siggi's

100 calories
9 grams of sugar
14 grams of protein


So because I combined them, per serving I had
95 calories
6.5 grams of sugar
14.5 grams of protein



 I added fresh strawberries and Girardelli dark chocolate chips.







Compare that to my favorite gelato:
For the same size serving:

360 calories
46 grams of sugar
6 grams of protein


:(


The homemade frozen yogurt concoction had sort of a soft serve consistency that was really delicious. But it was also really delicious before it made it to the freezer! ;)



I know, I know - I should have just had the strawberries or even the strawberries and chocolate chips. But it's summery weather (finally) and it is a truth universally acknowledged that in summer, ice cream is a necessary evil.


Thought? Encouragement? Condemnations for my weak-willed spirit?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Pizzas on the Grill - A Summertime Fave

Summer is here and that means grilling season. So today I'm going to revisit one of my favorite things to grill - pizza.

Some of you are probably raising a brow right now, but just hang with me and you'll see how easy, and delicious, it really is WITHOUT heating up the kitchen.

For starters, you've got to have the right crust. Yes, you can use the pre-made store-bought crusts, but they won't satisfy the way a good homemade crust will. And if you're going to take the time to make a good crust, you may as well make extras to keep in the freezer. Then you can have pizza anytime you like.

For one batch of dough, you will need:


  • 1 cup lukewarm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • one packet (or 2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast (I use the rapid rise)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil 

Mix water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over the top of the water and let mixture stand until foamy, roughly 5 minutes.


While you're waiting, pulse flour and salt in food processor to mix.

Add the olive oil and yeast mixture and process 20-30 seconds, until the dough comes together in a sticky ball.


Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes.

Form into ball and place dough in a large, oiled bowl, turning until dough in coated.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm, draft free area until doubled in size (about an hour).

Punch dough down and turn onto lightly floured work surface.
Using a large knife, quarter dough.
One at a time, shape dough wedge roughly into a ball. Place the dough ball on the work surface and, with your hand cupped over it, roll it on the work surface until the surface of the dough is smooth.
Place dough balls in a large resealable plastic bag and refrigerate up to 48 hours. The dough will continue to rise, but this resting period is what makes the crust soft on the inside, crispy on the outside.
Let dough sit at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping, or freeze for up to two weeks, letting frozen dough sit at room temperature two hours before shaping.

On a floured work surface, press each dough ball into 9-in. round. To make mini pizzas, cut each dough ball into three or four pieces before shaping.


Now this next part varies, depending on what type of grill you have. In general, you want to use indirect heat. Oh, and if you don't have a grill, feel free to use a 400 degree oven.

Here's how to do it on the grill:

Lower the heat on one side of the grill to low. Oil the grate on that side of the grill. Move the shaped dough to the grill. Lower the edge of the dough onto the oiled grill. (Mindy says, the size of your rounds will determine how many you can comfortably fit on the grate at one time.)
Cover the grill and cook for roughly 3 minutes, until crusts begin to bubble and brown. Loosen crusts with a metal spatula, recover and cook for one more minute. Flip crusts over; cook until beginning to brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.

Top pizzas as you please and return to grill until toppings are hot and cheese is melted. Sorry, I was so busy cooking everyone's pizzas, I forgot to take a pic of the finished product. But it sure was delicious.

This is especially fun for a party, because everyone gets to build their own pizza. Simply set up an assembly line of every pizza topping you can think of, along with plenty of grated mozzarella, maybe some parmesan... Oh and don't forget the sauce. I usually make my own by pulsing Italian style tomatoes (the ones with the basil, oregano and garlic) in the food processor, then adding a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. Then just let your guests have at it. (Note: Have the crusts pre-baked before everyone arrives) 

We've done this many times over the years and everyone loves it. Why have pizza out of a box when you can make it an event!

Now it's your turn. Do you love to grill? If so, what's your favorite thing to grill? What's the weirdest thing you've ever grilled?

-------------------------------

Three-time Carol Award finalist, Mindy Obenhaus, lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children, two dogs and countless cattle. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining and sometimes adventurous manner. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at mindyobenhaus.com

Monday, June 18, 2018

Touring the Black Hills: Welcome to Mystic

Jan here, with another trip to my favorite place - the Black Hills of South Dakota.

One of our goals this year is to hike on trails we haven't explored yet. Actually, that could be our goal for the next ten years - there are a lot of places within a short drive that we haven't been to yet! 

Ever since spring arrived, we've been packing a picnic lunch, sticking the cooler in the truck, and heading up into the Hills at least once a week.

A few weeks ago, we chose a trail in the northern Black Hills, in the Mystic area.

Lovely, isn't it?
We parked at the parking area along Mystic Road and headed up the trail.


It was a beautiful day in May, and the trail was easy to follow...


...as long as we could see the trail markers. That's our trail - number 40. There are also deer tracks on the signs in case we forgot the number.

Our trail followed the Mickelson Trail for a quarter-mile or so. The Mickelson is a Rails to Trails project. It is 109 miles long and extends through the length of the Black Hills. Bicyclists, hikers, and horseback riders are allowed to use the trail. No motorized vehicles, which makes the hike pleasant.


And yes, just like the railroad, you get to go through tunnels and over trestles!

Before long though, we found our turn-off.


You can tell we've gotten a lot of rain this spring!

And I found a patch of my favorite spring flowers - Shooting Stars!

Do you see them nestled along that bit of rock?



This part of the Hills was the home of gold mines and prospectors 125 years ago...and today Mystic is nearly a ghost town.


This area's rocks are very different from the granite around Mt. Rushmore!


After an hour, we headed back toward our truck, but we'll be back on the hiking trails soon. The mountains call with a siren's song.



Next week, I'll take you to a place that is so different from the Mystic area that you'll think we've gone to another planet!


Until then, where are your favorite places to explore?




Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan Drexler.com.


Friday, June 15, 2018

Creative Ice Cream Flavors!

Missy Tippens

Have you ever been inspired by something creative...like ice cream flavors?

I was inspired recently when we went to an ice cream shop I'd been hearing people rave about: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. We went to the one in Decatur (Georgia). I've also heard you can buy it at the grocery store as well! Or order online, apparently.


Here are some of the cool flavors I saw in the store. I had such a hard time deciding...





Yes, I ended up getting the goat cheese flavor. It was so good! I really want to go back soon to try more.


Next time you're doing something creative, try something different. Combine different flavors or shapes or colors...or (for us writers) different character combos.

Maybe combine characters from two towns. Or two families from different series.

And if you need inspiration, try visiting a cool ice cream shop. You never know what you might dream up. :)

www.missytippens.com