February 26, 2011

On a Snowy Afternoon

The other day I found myself at home alone again. Malcolm had taken a second trip out to the ranch. And so as I sipped my tea at the table that morning, checking emails, I pondered what to do with my day. 
Within minutes of my debate beginning, a very whiny Paris asked to be picked up, and proceeded to whine and gripe about the cold to me for almost an hour, pitching a fit every time I sat her down. She was my inspiration. I was not going to sit in the house holding her all day or listening to her whine and whimper. I had a couple errands I'd been putting off, so I tucked the girls into their kennels in their over-heated room, and off to town I went.
On a snowy afternoon in Billings, here's what I like to do. First I run some mundane errands I've been putting off. I go take a check to our prorate service, pick up some printer ink at the office supply store, and make a return at the mall. But after those trips, things get a little more entertaining.

Lunch with a friend downtown. I picked up some yummy enchiladas and took them to her work place where she is the only clerk on duty and I, the only visitor. A snowy afternoon in Billings sometimes equals slow business. So we sat behind the counter and munched on yummy warm food and took up the better part of an hour chatting, until my parking meter was about to run out and I had to leave, or put in another quarter.

After lunch, I'm off to the hallowed ground...
Nothing in the world like spending an afternoon sprawled in the floor of a bookstore pilfering through the crafting and agricultural books. And of course there were several passes made down the fiction isles, the magazine collection, and the cookbooks, though they had significantly decreased their cookbook selection by two whole shelving units. How unfortunate!

I spent the most time here, parked in front of these delightful titles, plotting which ones I'd get once I had the animals that needed the care. I wrote down several interesting titles, including one called "Holy Shit," a book singing  the various praises and delights of manure! It was just too intriguing of a title to not jot it down, if only for an occasional sheepish chuckle upon reading it.
After I've spent as long as I possibly dare, neglecting my pups for several hours, I narrow down the choices in the basket, proceed through the checkout line, and head for home,
where I unload the car, snatch my new treasures up in arms, and head upstairs to bury my nose in one of them, dogs trailing behind me, no more whining because they are just glad to be out of the kennel and close to me. Besides we're heading to their favorite room in the house also!
I have to make room on the table between the library chairs, so I sort through some catalogs that have been gathering there. Lately, these delights have been coming the the mail to torture me. I prowl through them, planning future flower and vegetable garden plots.
This one in particular caught my attention, and will be kept laying around just because its neat.
It looks authentically antique on the outside...
...and the inside. My very own old time seed catalog!
This one too has caused small rounds of self-torture.
Having cleared space for the new books on the table, I have to clear space for myself in my favorite chair, because its the favorite chair of three others as well.
And being their favorite, look what the heathens have done to my beloved chair!
They love to sit in and lay on it, but even more, a particular someone, or two, love to wallow in it, and their claws are not treating our favorite chair with loving care. We've had several lengthy discussions on proper favorite chair etiquette but they just don't seem to get it.

But upholstery damaged and three dogs piled on top of me, its still a comfy place to snuggle into a good book on a snowy evening at home.

This morning, its a frigid -20. This cold is causing even the heated bird bath to frost up and cause problems watering my birds.
The girls took care of business in record time and are now upstairs snuggled into our favorite chair, no wallowing heard as of yet. I think they are thawing out first.

The only rooster on the place is frozen to the ground and even if he could, I don't think he'd be doing much crowing this morning!
I have two more days at home before we return to work on Monday. I plan to make the most of them, spending quite a bit of time in my chair upstairs with a book.

I want to thank everyone who ordered from my Pampered Chef party, and all those who thought about it as well. We gave my sister a great start in her new endeavor. I hope we've set the pattern for her future success. I promised a $25 PC gift certificate to one lucky person. We did a drawing from orders and the lucky individual who gets to do more Pampered Chef shopping is Judy in North Dakota! Congratulations Judy! Hope you enjoy shopping!

February 24, 2011

All good things...

...must come to an end!

Hi!  This is Sarah's little sister, Meagan writing.  As most of you are aware Sarah has been hosting a Pampered Chef Party all week!  Click here to see her original post explaining the details of her party and of the GIVE AWAY that she is doing to go with her party!  :-)

As with all good things, this party must come to an end.  At midnight Friday night (okay, so I won't be up that late and it will probably be Saturday morning at 10 AM CST), we will close her Pampered Chef Party!  Sarah needs another $93 in sales to bump her up to the next level of host rewards!  You can help her out by placing an order today and if your order totals over $60, you'll get the guest special!  What's the guest special, you might ask?  You can choose ONE KITCHEN ESSENTIAL FREE (Small Batter Bowl, Micro Scraper, or Classic Scraper)!

I also want to take this opportunity to offer you a chance to host a show of your own!  Just ask Sarah how easy and fun it was to host her Pampered Chef Blog Party!  A couple of posts on her blog and she will earn this month's host special, free products, half-price products, and discounted items on this order and all year long!  I would love to help you get all of these great things too!  All you need to do is email me at meagan.pamperedchef@gmail.com and I'll coach you through the very easy steps to hosting a show of your own via your blog, email, and/or catalog so that you can get all the Pampered Chef products on your wish list for less!

Finally, I want to offer the chance to earn extra money by joining the Pampered Chef Team!  Even though I am a new consultant, I am already seeing the great things that Pampered Chef can do for me!  I am excited about adding to my monthly income and achieving some exciting goals.  If this is something that interests you, even if you aren't quite sure, you can also email me!  I will simply share what I know and answer any questions you have.  I have an amazing director that can assist as well!

So there you go!  Please help Sarah "bump up" to the next level of host rewards by placing an order by midnight, Friday!  If you don't remember the "instructions" on placing orders, just click here!

Thank you for helping me jump start my Pampered Chef business!


February 22, 2011

My Civil War Quilt: Month Two

Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives you may win Southern independence, but I doubt it. The North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche.   -Sam Houston

Time for another post on my Civil War Anniversary quilt! This month's quilt block is called "Thunder & Lightning" and commemorates the first battle at Manassas, also known as the Battle of Bull Run.

July 21, 1861

Manassas had the honor of hosting the first land battle of the Civil War. The Confederacy had chosen for its capital city, Richmond, VA. Because of this, with the two capital cities of Richmond and Washington D.C. so close together, many of the first battles of the war were within close range of each other and the cities.

When Union troops headed out for their first campaign, wealthy citizens of Washington, including Congressmen and their families, followed in their buggies with champagne and picnic baskets, expecting to have a good show and see the Rebels get whipped back into their place.

It was going to be a quick battle, an easy victory, and the war wouldn't last but a few months at most! No one wanted to miss out on the show or being part of the victory! These were commonly held beliefs on both sides of the battle lines.

The first battle began early in the morning and lasted till about 4:00 in the afternoon. The Union troops were overwhelmed and after the last of their troops were forced off a certain hill by the Confederate troops, the Union began to retreat.

It was orderly at first, but quickly became chaotic. Yankee soldiers, in their panic to flea, discarded firearms and equipment. The chaos enabled southern troops to take many prisoners. And to add to the confusion, the wealthy citizens of Washington had to abandon their picnics and join the confusion, clogging the roads with their carriages and impeding the progress of the army.

The first battle of Bull Run was the bloodiest battle on American soil up to that point. Union casualties were 460 killed, 1,124 wounded, and 1,312 missing or captured; Confederate casualties were 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, and 13 missing.

The North was shocked at their defeat. Both sides, which had expected easy victory over their foe and a short war, suddenly realized that it would not be as easy as expected, that even with victory there would be great loss and expense.

The name of the battle has been under controversy since it happened. The North favored referring to battle fields by rivers or streams that lay nearby. Therefor they generally called the first battle the Battle of Bull Run, after a nearby stream. The South, on the other hand, tended to refer to battles by the name of towns or villages nearby. And so they called the first battle the Battle at Manassas. Thus the reason this battle has been known by two different names throughout its history.

Almost a year later, on August 28-30 1862, the two armies would fight again on the same ground, another Confederate victory known as the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Manassas, VA would be an excellent place to visit this summer in your vacationing if your able. The town and battle field will be celebrating the anniversary of the war with displays and events. For more information on the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, visit the Civil War Trusts website.

I thought I'd add to my monthly Civil War post by sharing a good book with you in each post. For this months post, I chose...

Some of you may have seen the movie that came out a few years ago with Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, and Renee Zelweger. I love the movie, and honestly, even if I didn't like the story, the movie was a work of art (in my opinion).  The book...well as usual I have to say, you have to read the book, even if you've seen the movie. There is SO much detail and depth that they can't capture in a movie! I'll be re-reading it sometime in the next few months. If you are in the market for something a little different to read, and like historical fiction, I recommend Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.

That concludes this months post on the American Civil War! Sorry if I make these too long. Its a subject that I enjoy talking about, and since I never got to teach it in history classes, as I would have loved to do, I'm forcing you into becoming my classroom. I'll try not to lecture too much!
Don't forget our Pampered Chef Blog party! You have through Friday to get your orders in! So be sure to take some time over the next couple days to browse the merchandise. Don't forget that everyone who orders gets entered in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate. And if you missed the original post, here's a link to it that explains all! Invite your friends too, if you think they might enjoy!

February 20, 2011

Needing a Spring Break

Sometimes on a dreary winter day...
...when the wind is blowing and the smell of more snow is in the air...
...I just feel the need for a Spring Break! And on days like that, the best way to get a Spring break in a hurry is to make one!
And in addition to needing a little taste of Spring, I wanted to make Malcolm something special for Valentine's day, even though it was several days after. My husband loves strawberry-rhubarb pie! 
We don't have that in Tennessee, where I grew up, so I've spent the last couple years taste testing some recipes, trying to find one that we like. I think I might have finally found a decent one. And it was so easy!

So today I thought I'd torture you a little with some mouth watering pictures, and then you'll have to run to the store to get the ingredients to make one for yourself and have your own little Spring break!

First you'll need to clean and cap the strawberries.
You can do it with a knife, but I like to use my Pampered Chef capper thing. I can't remember the name, and it might look a little different now (mine's 8 years old) but they work great for getting that nasty little hard white core out without wasting yummy red berry. See!
It also works really well on tomatoes for the same purpose!

Next step is to slice the strawberries up. For some reason I am not good at chopping and slicing things into small, even pieces, yet I like evenness. So I have gotten into the habbit of skipping the knife and cutting board on a lot of items and reaching for other tools. For nice even slices I like my Egg Slicer.

It does a marvelous job and makes them so pretty and even!

For the pie, we need 2 cups of rhubarb cut into 1 inch pieces, and 2 cups of sliced strawberries.

Put those in a bowl together with 1 cup of sugar, 3 TBS of quick-cooking tapioca, and 1/4 cup of strawberry Jello mix. Stir...and take lots of deep breaths to absorb as much of the delicious aroma as you can. Feel free to stick your nose as close to in the bowl as you dare. It smells better and better the closer you get.
Now we need a crust. I know they make the ones you buy in the freezer, or you can even buy the dough rolled up in a box, and I go that route sometimes. But mostly I've been making my own dough, because it just seems silly to buy something that's got lots of preservatives and stuff in it, when I can make one that's cheaper and better tasting. So, I mix up a batch of my Momma's Perfect Pie Crust, and it IS perfect!!! Roll it out to fit your pie plate...

...and then, after you've got the dough in the pie plate, add the strawberry-rhubarb filling. You'll also need a second dough rolled out to top the pie, but Momma's Perfect Pie Crust recipe makes enough for two pie shells so that's perfect...as the name indicates! Flute edges and vent the top and its ready for a 375 degree oven where it will bake for 40 minutes or till browned and bubbly!
And since mine was for my Valentine, I decorated the top a little, brushed it with water and sprinkled sugar on the top crust, just cause I like that sweetness on my crusts!

They say "great minds think alike" and that is SO true! Here I thought I was surprising my hubby with a Valentine pie, and he walks in the door with a dozen roses and a gift too! This all took place 4 days after the real Valentine's day. How neat that we were both thinking along the same lines on the same day.

So we pause from our baking project to trim stems...
...and gush over my flowers and Prince Charming for doing such a good job!
the box contained three Pandora charms for my bracelet...had to add that cause I know the curiosity is driving you nuts
Back to the kitchen, where I have a wad of left over pie dough. Can't let that go to waste!

I got these for free when I was a Pampered Chef consultant years ago. Never would have bought them, and never dreamed I'd use them. But I do...all the time for all sorts of things! In fact sometimes I just get them out to look at them cause they are so darn cute! 
They are perfect for making the girls cookies, and I've found lots of other uses for them. They are now my favorite little set of cookie cutters!

Left over pie dough + cinnamon sugar = afternoon snack for the chef (and a few shared with Prince Charming since he's the one who had the idea in the first place)!

After 40 minutes or so the pie is done and sitting on the counter tempting both me and Prince Charming, but we make ourselves be good and wait till after dinner, because we know it will taste lots better without burnt and scalded tastebuds.

A quick clean up, thanks to my rolling mat which keeps the bulk of the flour and pie dough off of my counter...
...and also due to my excellent kitchen helpers who are always willing to get involved in the clean up!
We did manage to wait till after dinner, and it was very much worth the wait! This was the perfect little Spring break that I had been needing!
If you can come up with an excuse to make this, I say go for it. And really, who needs an excuse? But if your weather is anything like mine is right now, that's all the excuse you need. I made that pie on a gloomy Friday afternoon. And we'll be having the final pieces of it this evening as we look out our window at a white world.

Yep, it snowed over night, about 2 inches, and its been coming down ever since. The tips of the grass blades are slowly dissappearing in my yard. So if ever there was a need for a taste of Spring, its today!

While making my pie, I used a lot of my Pampered Chef toys! They just make cooking that much more fun for me! I love cooking tools! Don't forget about our Blogger Pampered Chef party! Your all invited and so are your friends, and their friends, and friends of the friend's friends! Just forward it along to everyone!

I see the birds have returned to my empty feeders. They are fluttering past my window wondering why I havn't resupplied them yet. So I better get to it! Hope the week ahead is a snuggly warm and blessed one for you!

February 18, 2011

Are You a Pampered Chef?

If not, you need to be! Because all cooks deserve to be pampered! Whether you love your cooking tasks or do it because its necessary, you need to spoil yourself a little in the kitchen! And I know one of the best ways to do that! You cook with COOL STUFF!

I have more to say on this, but first I want to introduce you to someone special, my sister!

My sister and I are both kitchen gadget nuts! I seriously think I spend about 70% of my home time in the kitchen cooking...by choice. In fact as soon as I'm finished here, that's where I'm heading!

Meagan, my sister, is even more of a cooking addict than I am. I tend to be more of a baker, and she's more of a chef.  You should see the entrees she creates! I'm trying one of her recipes for dinner and can't wait! Yummy stuff! And she's passing on this love of cooking to her soon to be step-daughter, Lily!
Meagan is taking the leap into the world of Pampered Chef and becoming their newest consultant.  I'm thrilled! Back many moons ago, before truck driving, I sold Pampered Chef. I LOVE their products and had SO MUCH FUN! In fact, I hope one day I can go back to it once I'm stationary. 
In the mean time I am so excited that I have a Pampered Chef consultant in the family! And since Meagan hosted a party to help me get started, I wanted to host a party to help her. Besides, who can forgo an excuse to party!

1. I'm not home long enough to host a show party.
2. I live 2000 miles away from Meagan and that's a little far for her to travel!
3. I know all of 3 people here in Billings! Three precious people, but three people a party does not make...not really!

But...I know LOTS of people in the blogging world, I know lots of you cook b/c you post about it, and I count you as friends! So I decided to host what may be the first ever Blogger Pampered Chef party!

Have you ever been to a Pampered Chef party or used their products? My kitchen is choc full of PC products that I use on a daily basis (when I'm home to do so). Just browsing the online catalog I see they have added numerous new things and made improvements on others. There is something for everyone, from serious chefs to the weekend "throw it together" cook. Its worth taking a look, even if your not sure you want to buy anything. And there's free stuff involved!
Each month Pampered Chef offers a "guest special" and this month's is a pretty good one! With a $60 purchase you get to choose from three free products. Check it out here.  And there's an extra give away from me. Read on to find out about that!

So, here's how you "come" to my party!
1.Here are the "driving" directions to our party's location.  www.pamperedchef.biz/princessinthekitchen

2.At the top of the page, click on "Our Products." Its at the top of the second column.

3.Next click on "How To Purchase"

4. Finally you'll need to put in my name as the host: Sarah Johnson. Then it will ask you to confirm my name as the host. So do that and then your ready to shop!

All your information is secure on the website, so nothing will be shared, your address will not be redistributed to a million junk mail companies, and no one will have your credit card info other than PC.

Also, you might notice that the website says the Pampered Chef consultant is someone named Sarah Basham and not my sister, Meagan. Meagan's site is still being set up and will be ready soon, but I wanted to do my party while I was home. So Sarah B., one of Meagan's friends, is helping us out. But even though its on her website, all the credit will go to my sister. Just wanted to clear that up in case it confused anyone.
When your done ordering be sure to select "direct shipping" so that the products will come straight to your doorstep! Otherwise, they might sit on mine till I come home again in June! (not cool for you!)

We have ALL week to "party," and I'm staying home probably the whole time (OH how I hope!) so I plan to share tidbits about some of my favorite Pampered Chef products this next week, along with my regular posts. And you can browse the online catalog as much as you like and take time to decide what you might want to order. The "party" is over next Friday, Feb 25, at midnight, so as long as your orders are in by then, your good to go! And we're open to "party crashers" so if you have a fellow kitchen gadget nut in your circle of friends, bring them with you! Anyone can come to this party. Just send them a link to the party or this post so they can get the whole scoop! The more the merrier!

No obligation! I just love their stuff and wanted to have a party and thought it would be fun to share it with my blogging friends too! But if you DO order, I'm putting all the order names in a pot, and one lucky person will get a $25 Pampered Chef gift certificate. You can use it to buy the products you just couldn't bring yourself to splurge on during my party.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me:  whitelinechasers@yahoo.com

Or you can contact my sister, Meagan:   or 615-210-7808

And if you can't reach either of us, the friend who is helping us, Sarah Basham, said she'd be happy to answer any questions as well. So her email and phone number are: pamperedchefsarahb@gmail.com  or 615-542-3318
I'm excited about my Blogger Pampered Chef party! I think it will be fun and I love talking kitchen and cooking! When a person hosts these parties in their home, they are interactive and there's lots of laughing and chatting and idea sharing. Why shouldn't our party be the same? So for this post, I would love to get your thoughts and ideas in the comments! Tell me what your favorite Pampered Chef product is and why you love it! Or if you don't have any yet, or have never heard of Pampered Chef, go take a quick peak at the online catalog and then come back here and tell me what item caught your eye! www.pamperedchef.biz/princessinthekitchen

PS: One of my lovely Candian blogger friends, cdncowgirl, raised the cross border question. I always forget some of us live in a different country b/c I feel so close to you all! So I called my sister, and she called the home office at Pampered Chef to find out, and, with tears coursing down my face, I am heartbroken to have to share with you that my Canadian friends have to buy Pampered Chef from a Canadian consultant. It makes me really sad that you guys can't play! But maybe one of you should have a Canadian Blogger Pampered Chef party! And I'll send any Canadians your way if they ask.
Sorry my dear friends! But still come talk with us about the products!

February 16, 2011

Home From the Ranch

This morning when I went out to check on Dawn and Sky, the mood was considerably more relaxed. I found Dawn up between the corrals and house, grazing.
Sky, on the other hand, was still holding vigil at the gate to the lot. Felt kind of sorry for the little guy, but his pain of loss will be brief. At least he can see his momma!
I decided to move Dawn into the south pasture. It occurred to me last night that in her current location in the pastures around the house, she could easily rush the gate when my father-in-law drives his tractor into the lot to feed. I didn't want to create another chore for him, in having to get her back out of the lot, so I moved her. In the south pasture, she can still stand at a gate with the horses and she'll have grass and water, but she's blocked from the main runway at the corrals and so will always be locked out of where he'll be driving the tractor around.

Before I walked her down there, I haltered her and got my brushes out and we had a little grooming session. She seemed to enjoy it. I also checked her bag. I had noticed before I separated them, that at one point Sky acted like he might go to nurse, and she had layed her ears back and walked away, so I was curious if maybe she'd already started the weaning. Her bag was kind of small and loose, but I could still get a little milk out, so we're sticking with the current plan. He can't get to her through the gate to nurse, so this will work well.

Thought I'd introduce you to two of my other ranch friends. This is Zadie. Isn't she a sweetheart? Her main job is to greet visitors and look pretty sunning herself on the porch.
 This is Lucy!
 Lucy is hard to get a picture of because she just won't stand still, even when your petting her. One BIG ball of furry energy.

She also likes to eat snow!
 Here she is! This is Lucy! Lucy's job is to decorate the porch with Zadie, and follow anyone around even if they don't really want her company. She's also more inclined to tag along if your headed to the corrals where she might be given a job to do. She comes "just in case." But she also has a real ranch job. She helps with the cows, rides in the tractor to help feed, helps keep visitors in the cars until Malcolm's parents decide if they want to visit or not, helps keep the Fed-Ex guy on his toes,....she's a big helper! She's a doll! I love her! And she's personality plus! Just has a few kinks in her behavior, but she's SO much better than she used to be and so much fun! And even when she tags along uninvited, she's pretty good to "stay" or go home when told to do so.

Today was going home day for me and the girls.
Malcolm will be home tomorrow. He still has to deliver the load of salt that we brought up here for the road department and tomorrow is the day! But I wanted to get my grocery shopping done and have the whole day tomorrow to work on taxes before going to the accountant on Friday, so me and the girls came home today.

In a few more weeks, all these ladies (at least it is hoped all) will have little calves by their sides, or tucked into the grass here and there. Do you think they have any inclination what's coming? I often wonder how much our animals know or think or remember. 
Anyway, me and the girls hit the road about mid afternoon. Traffic was kind of heavier than usual.
 But fortunately, most of it was going south, and I was heading north.
It wasn't too long after traffic cleared up that we reached the pavement and were able to make better time.
Sometimes when we're going or coming from the ranch, the time and distance is a frustration. Sometimes, that frustration and eagerness to get to the destination distracts me from the scenery. But not often.
One of the numerous tiny school houses in Montana. Quite a few are actually still in use, but this one saw its last group of students about 10-12 years ago. I think its used as a community center now which means its pretty much vacant and unused. Kind of sad.
These hills are about 80 miles east of Baker. They are on the fringe of one of eastern Montana's badland areas. This is near Miles City and is called the Strawberry Hill Recreation Area. I've never been up the road into it, but one day I hope to take the time to do so.

We arrived home this evening around 7:00, after stopping in Miles City for grocery shopping. My car is covered in mud and I wanted to get it washed, but there was a line of about 6 cars waiting on the car wash. I guess everyone else thought it was a great day for car washing too. Well I'll get mine done Friday when I go into town.  Besides, not much point in getting it too clean. When I got home I discovered that our road was a muddy mess from the melting snow, so it would have just gotten dirty again. And tonight and tomorrow we have another chance of more snow. Just a little, but it will add to the mud and road grime.

I'm amazed that I convinced my computer and internet to let me load this many pictures at home! And I haven't lost signal yet! Since I am apparently able to blog from home, I'll just have to do so more often! No more 30 minute blog posts to update you on a weeks worth of home happenings! I'll be able to keep you up to date from my kitchen table. Just so long as I do all my blogging late at night or early early in the morning. That seems to be when the internet is most agreeable around here!

Carlie Jean just came over and asked if it was time to go to bed. I think she might be right. There's some flannel sheets and a couple chapters from a good book calling my name!