The Coolest Gift Ever!

My son and daughter-in-law took one of my photos and had it enlarged (24" x 16") onto canvas for my mother's day gift.... is this too cool or what?! I haven't fully decided on its permanent home yet. I think it will go in the living room, but that's one room I still have to redo -- take the border off the wall, repaint, etc. Perhaps by autumn I will get that room redone and then hang this canvas in a special place.

If you're interested in a personal gift such as this, you can have a canvas made at CanvasOnDemand or Zazzle (where I have my photography store). It's truly the perfect gift for the photographer, or a mom, a dad, a sister or brother, a son or daughter (graduation!)... and the list goes on and on.


A Lovely Blog... (wha? my blog?!)... and a Giveaway Coming Soon!

I'm just a tad behind on thanking Jan at Expressive Papers for bestowing the "One Lovely Blog" award upon my blog. There are truly so many beautiful, humorous and just downright exceptional blogs out there in bloggyland, well, I'm just honored that she thought I had a lovely blog. Jan's blog is not only lovely, but she's a talented artist in her own right. Head on over to her blog and check out her links to Etsy and Artfire-- she handcrafts gorgeous and unique paper note cards.

Of course, I'm supposed to pass this award to other bloggers who are deserving... but I think I'm going to take a different approach this time. Every single blog I follow is a lovely blog, and that's no joke - else why in the world would I follow you? You know who you are... if you don't have this award yet, I want you to grab it from my post here and smack it on your blog. You are deserving, and YOU have a lovely blog! I love all of you for different reasons: many for the humor (I NEED your humor, everyday!), some for the photos, some for the unique lives they lead or the different countries they live in, some for their recipes... and the list goes on and on.

In keeping with this award theme, I'm going to be having a giveaway in the next few weeks. This giveaway will honor my 100th post which is coming up soon; there will be a primary prize to be drawn from the entrants. There will also be a secondary prize for whoever is in the #1 top commenter position (widget in my sidebar) on the day the giveaway closes. Watch for more details soon! (Um, I haven't figured out the prizes or the details. Yet. I want it to be really good for all of y'all!)

My blog wouldn't be what it is today without all of you, my readers. Even though I started my blog in March 2008, I didn't get serious about it until January 2009, and wow, I just can't believe all the wonderful people I have met through blogging. Who woulda thunk it!! I hope the future holds good things for my blog, as I think through how to segment it better, jazz up the graphics and make the content more appealing to everyone.

So, hang on tight as this crazy Oz Girl decides on the next path for her "lovely" blog!

WASTE NOTes ... Simple Coffee Cake Recipe

Want something homemade for the family that's quick and easy, and delicious too? Try this coffee cake recipe next weekend and see if your family doesn't give you the rest of the day off! Well, ok, THAT probably won't happen. But, it IS good, and it IS quick.

This recipe is from my 8th grade Home Economics class.... yep, I'm THAT old. My guess -- it's been a long time since schools have taught Home Economics.

I consider this a WASTE NOTes recipe because the ingredients are simple enough that everyone should have them in the pantry. I doubt you will need to make any special grocery purchases for this recipe.

Simple Coffee Cake

Makes one 9" pan
Set oven to 375
Grease cake pan lightly with shortening

In medium bowl, mix together 1/4 cup salad oil, 1 egg (beaten), and 1/2 cup milk. Set aside. In separate bowl, mix together 3/4 cup sugar, 1-1/2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture.

Topping: Mix together 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tbls flour, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tbls melted butter. Put on batter in cake pan.

Bake in 375 oven for 25 minutes.

There! Now can a weekend breakfast recipe get any easier than this??! If you decide to give it a try, let me know what you think - if you make any alterations to the recipe, I'd love to know. Right off the bat, I would say you could add chopped walnuts to the topping mix... if you like nuts.

Me, I prefer my coffee cake nutless. :-)

Don't forget to check out Smart Mouth Broad's"Money in the Bank", a collection of
money saving ideas from bloggers near and far. I'm linking
my WASTE NOTes to her MIB posts. Check out HER blog
for even more links to money saving ideas to help you
save $$ in our crappy economy!

Country Livin' with a Refurbished Patio Table

I love breathing new life into found objects. My mom and I repainted this table base last summer -- left behind by the previous owners. It was a dirty, dirty beige. We fixed 'er up and painted it a bright red, then mom made this mosaic tabletop for it (it had no tabletop). Isn't it bee-YOO-tee-full?! We had to give it a test run with pina coladas and a crown/sprite combo last weekend... we'll be utilizing it for some hamburgers and salad later today.

Hubster had these two vintage green patio chairs ... we spruced them up with a bright aqua paint. Can you tell I like bright, vivid caribbean colors? :-) Just the perfect colors to brighten up the Kansas prairie!

And of course, Ringo is doing his ranch dog impersonation..... lazing in the sun.

Now I must go outside to assist with the house painting job. Hubby is currently patching an area of foundation that is quite cracked and wide open; mom is applying a 2nd coat of trim paint to several windows. They probably don't appreciate the fact that I am updating my blog....

The Never-Ending Home Project

The trim color "matches" the metal roof (ehw)

As you can see, LOTS of scraping and sanding to prep for paint
Lil Miss Tori wants to be outside with her dad

A nice neutral tan color with darker brown trim

Would you believe it was my 67-year old mom's idea to paint the house? (She's probably regretting that grand idea by now.)

We planned on repainting it this year as it was in bad shape when hubby bought it a few years ago. But it's a big job, and we wanted to plan strategically around the weather. As luck would have it, mom came to visit last Fri, with plans to only stay through Tuesday. But she's still here since it was HER idea to paint our house, lol... the weather's been great. Very dry (no rain), BUT the gnats were atrocious for a few days, and we've both got our share of welts. I'm glad the gnats seem rather sparse today, thank goodness.

I'll tell you what
, we will ALL be glad when this project is done. But it makes our lil country home look SO nice. :-) Now if I can just get some time to plant flowers it will look even better!

More pics to come as we finish up over the next few days. And then I'll get back to my bloggy friends too. Sorry I've been rather remiss in visiting everyone's blog AGAIN. I'll be back soon, I promise!



We interrupt this vacation for a quickie blog post.... today we went to Hutchinson, Kansas, for a USTRC team roping championship event.... and mom's here again. So you know what that means. We've been busy around the house, pruning bushes and planting and just rearranging "schtuff". The weather's supposed to be phenomenal this week, so we may repaint the house. Exterior. Yep, the whole thang!

I'll be back in a few days, with some pics from the team roping event, and more!

Team Roping Season is Here!

Yesterday, we got a last-minute phone call -- the boys were going to practice some team roping in Tonkawa (Okieland), about 30 minutes south of us. Now, I know the females can sympathize with me on this one -- I had to rush to get ready and since I only knew Kelly and no one else, I wanted to look presentable. ACKKKK - the big rush ensued. Of course I really wanted to go, as I had yet to see hubby do his thang. What a great photo opp!

(left to right)
Tom on Stormy, Jay on his roping horse, and
Clayton on "Bronco Billy"

A little background on Tom's roping horse situation:
He had a fantastic horse, Mike, and roped off him for years. Mike was your typical laid back quarter horse, but when the steer shot from the chute, Mike was all business. In October 2007, Tom noticed he was limping after an event. After a trip to the vet, then to Oklahoma State's vet hospital, it was determined that Mike's roping days were over, as he was beginning to develop calcium deposits on his knees. Mike is now living the high life in Wyoming with Tom's daughter Missy, and training the grandkids how to ride.

Stormy is not a finished roping horse. But we took her yesterday so she can get accustomed to the noise and craziness that goes on at a roping event. She did really good. We'll need to send her off to finishing school, where a seasoned roper will train her to be a good header horse. In the meantime, Tom will borrow a horse from a friend so he can enter some team roping events.

After riding Stormy a bit, just to get her acclimated to all the commotion, Tom parked her outside the arena and saddled up on "Bronco Billy" (the white horse) so he could practice his roping. I'm not sure what this horse's proper name was, but he acquired the "Bronco Billy" moniker early on in practice. When Clayton was roping off him, he did a few crow hops as Clayton dallied off at the end of the run. Needless to say, when you're sitting on a horse, those crow hops feel like full-fledged bucks! He did this to Tom a few times also, but luckily no one was bucked off; the saddle pad was checked for any wrinkles or anything underneath that might be pinching the horse, but nothing was found.

Backing up into the box

Tom (header) on "Bronco Billy" and Jay doing the heeling thang

Herding the cattle back to the chute

Waitin' in the chute

This gal liked to kneel in the chute...
perhaps she was praying for a quick getaway?!

jes waitin'


Maudie was one of several dogs on the property. She's always looking for a sucker to throw her rope.... um, that sucker would be me yesterday. :-)

And last but surely not least, our host Kelly.
He has a beautiful spread and we thank him
so much for his gracious hospitality!

Why Can't the Whole World Dance?!

I know that everyday can't be a sunny, cheerful day. We all have our problems, big and small, in our lives. But it's how we cope with those problems that defines the kind of person we are. If we overcome our problems, our challenges, our sadnesses, then we are a stronger person, and better equipped to deal with the next challenge that life hurls at us.

Now, I have never posted a video on my blog. And I won't be making a habit of it. But this video struck me in an odd way -- it made me cry and laugh at the same time. And I wondered, why can't the whole world dance together, instead of all the fighting, the killing, the torturing, the hunger? Why can't everyone let the pure joy in their hearts exercise its voice -- it's there. But we let the mundaneness of our everyday life kill it, stifle it. Can you imagine if you danced like this everyday, how GOOD you would feel? :-) Is this craziness, or insanity? No, I think this is what normal is, but we are so far removed from NORMAL, we hear so much bad news, that this kind of happiness expressed so rawly in this video feels foreign to us. Isn't that a shame?

So take a minute and watch this video. And do tell me, please, what emotions it invokes in you. My most favorit-est philosophy:

dAnCe In tHe SuN wItH a FlOwEr In YoUr hAiR!

Really. Try it.
You. MIGHT. Like. It.

More than 200 dancers were performing their version of "Do Re Mi", in the Central Station of Antwerp. With just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role, in the musical of "The Sound of Music".

WASTE NOTes... Yum, Leftover Coffee!

So you make a pot of coffee every morning, do you? And then the next morning, you toss what was left from the previous day and start over.


With summer just around the corner.. what's that? You say you haven't even seen spring yet? Well, never mind. With spring AND summer just around the corner, it's time to use up that cold coffee.

What could be better when you get home from work
than an
iced coffee??!

Like everyone else, I fell in love with the cool coffee drinks at Starbuck's and Panera. Then McDonald's came out with their version of iced coffee drinks. Once I tried McDonald's iced coffee, I decided I liked their coffee best due to its simplicity. Not too sweet, and it satisfied my thirst. Not to mention it was a LITTLE bit cheaper than Starbuck's or Panera.

So one day last summer, it was inevitable that I would try to recreate my own iced coffee at home. The best part about this is that I am using coffee that would be thrown out anyway! It's really quite simple, and how much you add to your iced coffee depends on your sweet tooth. Or not. I don't have much of a sweet tooth (I prefer potato chips to chocolate anyday!), so I like my iced coffee with few ingredients. This is not only more economical, but it also keeps the calories and fat grams DOWN.

Soooo, here it is. Pour some cold coffee over ice cubes, about half glass full. (I like using leftover vanilla or hazelnut coffee.) Add about 1/3 lowfat or fat-free milk, or half-n-half if you prefer a fatty rich flavor, then add about a teaspoon or more of any flavored syrup. I like hazelnut or french vanilla syrup. You can get the syrups in the grocery store near the coffee aisle (usually). The syrups are not cheap, usually close to $5 a bottle, but one bottle will last most of a season. You KNOW it's going to be cheaper than buying an iced coffee at Starbuck's or McDonald's even a few times a week!

ok, so I added whip cream for visual interest
(now I have to drink it... darn)

You can play around with the amount of coffee vs the amount of milk. Everyone's preference will vary. You can get fancier with your iced coffee too, if you like - add Hershey's chocolate syrup or whipped cream on top. I'll bet you could even mix it all up in the blender with ice cream and it would be heavenly. Just remember you're increasing the calories and fat grams!! I add whip cream only once in awhile, for a special treat.

I really love these in the summertime. In fact, it was so hot yesterday afternoon, I began craving one and when I went to pour some cold coffee, I discovered that hubby had drank every last drop of coffee yesterday morning! He rarely does that, so I was quite disappointed. And of course I wasn't going to make a new pot of coffee just for iced coffee. That would totally defeat my "WASTE NOT" philosophy!

Oh, and one more thing... don't forget to throw the coffee grounds in the compost pile! :-)

Smart Mouth Broad hosts "Money in the Bank", a collection of
money saving ideas from bloggers far and near. I'm going to link
my WASTE NOTes to her MIB posts. Check out HER blog
for even more links to money saving ideas to help you
save $$ in our crappy economy!

So You're a Messy Cook in the Kitchen?

Well, then hop on over to Jeanine Sturgeon's blog for a chance to win a kitchen apron that voices a sentiment we probably all feel at times during our chaotic mid-lives. Jeanine's living such a fun mid-life in Big Bear City, CA ... she has several chickens and a rooster she's trying to find a new home for.... she has a new labrador puppy, Woody, who I think has stole her heart... and she goes on fun weekend trips with her husband and family, most recently, a fantastic weekend in San Diego which included an overnight stay on a yacht in the bay.

Her giveaway asks the question, Do you like music on other's blogs? Interesting question, that one. I enjoy hearing new music I've never heard before, so oftentimes I have my speakers on and I'm listening to the music others have on their blogs. It's a neat way to find something new that I may want to download from iTunes. But there are times when I've got the ole computer on MUTE; sometimes I'm just not in the mood and want peace & quiet! My family and friends have mentioned to me that they enjoy going to my blog and listening to my music, so although I've considered removing my playlist, for the time being, I'll leave it on my blog. Personally, I think it's easy enough for someone to turn off their sound if they don't want to hear my music.

So, if you're always making a mess all over yourself while baking or cooking, you need that apron that Jeanine is giving away. You owe it to yourself to head over to Jeanine's Big Bear Life and give her your opinion on blog music while you enter her contest at the same time!

Horses Just Wanna Have Fun

Finally, freedom in the big pasture!

Stormy and Bang (aka paint horse) kickin' up their heels

Stormy the buckaroo

Murphy and paint horse heading out to the big pasture

Stormy munches some delectable grass

Week of rain = hoof deep mud in horse pens

Ringo, ever ready to help with fence repairs


Get it? WASTE NOT, but these are my waste NOTES. Ok, whatever, so it's not that creative word-wise... keep your snide comments to yourself. :)

During the past few weeks, I have renewed my efforts to be more thrifty and less wasteful, most notably in the food arena. Although I am also guilty of saving extra napkins handed out at drive-thrus, along with ketchup, bbq, and sugar packets...

I have rescued several food items from ending up in the trash pail this week.

1. A cup of over-ripe strawberries was converted to strawberry jam. A quick and easy recipe with no sure-jell or preservatives, to be used up within the week.

2. Thumbprint Jam Cookies, and I used the strawberry jam (above) for the centers. I haven't made these cookies since my 20s, and I LOVE these, so now guess who's eating them all? Thank goodness the recipe only made 2 dozen.

3. Chicken paprikash leftovers (slow cooker recipe) that I felt lacked flavor converted to chicken soup. I was without noodles in the pantry, so for the first time in my life, I made my own homemade noodles. (I added 2 tbls. milk to the noodle recipe.) This chicken soup recipe was by far, hands down, the best chicken soup I've made in my life. (I didn't put celery in mine.) The noodles were very, very yummy, and the soup was so deelish and flavorful. Since it had the flavorings from the paprikash, I am sure the next time I make this soup it will taste slightly different, but hopefully just as good!

4. Corn tortillas past the expiration date recycled into tortilla chips. A lil melted butter with chili powder brushed on them, a lil salt, cut into triangles and cook at 400 for 8-10 minutes. Next time, I'm going to add a bit of cayenne pepper for more spice.

5. A few slices of leftover meatloaf used for sandwiches, and also as a side with some spaghetti today. Take several slices and pour spaghetti sauce over, add some shredded cheese and parmesan cheese, and cook at 350 for approx. 30 minutes.

Non-food item waste not
Instead of using a dryer sheet which is loaded with synthetic chemicals, I put a few drops of lavender essential oil on a cloth and threw it in the dryer with my bed sheets and blankets yesterday. I bought some lavender essential oil last year and never used it, so I think this qualifies as "waste not". Ummmmm, did my sheets ever smell good!

So this is my new mission and creed for 2009, wherever possible, WASTE NOT! I will admit that my dedication to this philosophy has been fueled by my lack of a job, but I want to continue my newfound passion even when I have a job. Just think of the money I can save! :)

Smart Mouth Broad hosts "Money in the Bank", a collection of
money saving ideas from bloggers far and near. I'm going to link
my WASTE NOTes to her MIB posts. Check out HER blog
for even more links to money saving ideas to help you
save $$ in our crappy economy!