Thursday, April 30, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: Z is for Zombie

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

is for Zombie

(I'm going to cheat on this last blog of the challenge and re-post what my sister wrote. I figured I could get away with it since I was the impetus for her putting pen to paper--or fingers to keys.
Plus it made me smile because I can certainly relate--and that's the theme of my A to Z blogging: things that inspire or uplift me, or just make me smile.

Carolyn has been blogging A to Z this month. She is about to Z so it inspired me to write a blog for Z.
Z is for Zombie
Which I don’t want to be
But I am told,
When you get old,
Your body falls apart.
Skin starts to sag,
What a drag!
Lost more hair,
What a scare.
Will I keep my teeth?
What a fright!
Where is my sight?
And I will cheer
If I still hear
I think I lost my mind!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Blogging from A to z: Y is for Yogurt (and yogurt maker)

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

is for Yogurt,
the kind that's homemade,
flavored with vanilla and honey,
and a high price is not paid
because I make it myself
in my oven with a lamp
that keeps it at 100.
P.S. you don't need the clamp.

(here is a picture of my latest innovation: a super cheap yogurt maker that really works)

I have made and enjoyed my honey vanilla yogurt for years. Until recently, when we moved from our old home, I had the luxury of an oven that could have its temperature set down to 100 degrees (it had a drying feature). However most ovens only go down as far as 170 degrees. I think it has to do with liability or something like that, for that is the temperature that kills most bacteria. When I went shopping for ovens for my new home, I tried to find a set of double ovens that went down to 100 degrees. I couldn't find one--at least not in my budget.

My husband bought me an expensive Cuisinart yogurt maker to take the place of my old oven. I used it a few times, but I was disappointed in it for a variety of reasons. First of all, I could never get the yogurt to come out as firm as the batches I made in my old oven. Secondly, the yogurt was not consistent in its consistency. There were spots that were somewhat hard, almost like they were overcooked right next to the heating element. Thirdly, I was restricted in the amount I could make. It only made a quart at a time. I went through that much too quickly. I usually always made two quarts at a time. Plus, there were times when I made a gallon at a time when I was taking my yogurt to share at a writers retreat. Once I made gallons for a friend's daughter's wedding reception.

So I started brain storming. I wanted to make myself a yogurt oven. I concocted in my head, some sort of insulated box I could form into an oven with some sort of heating element. Then it dawned on me: why not just use my existing oven and create some sort of heating element that I insert inside. I can just run the cord outside the oven and plug it into the wall. It wouldn't hurt the cord because it only needs to heat up to 100 degrees. One day a light went on--literally. I noticed a metal clamp light that I used in my sewing room. Why wouldn't that work. I remember from my childhood days, the old Easy Bake ovens used a standard light bulb to cook those little cakes.

So I used my oven, inserted my lamp that held a 75 watt bulb, and placed a thermometer in the oven and tried to make yogurt. I quickly found that the 75 watt bulb was too hot. I had to constantly watch my thermometer and unplug and replugged my lamp to keep the temperature consistent. Next I tried a 60 watt bulb. It was like a match made in heaven. It worked.

If you want to try this method of making yogurt, here's another tip I found that is helpful. I first turn my oven on for a minute or two, just to where it feels comfortably warm to my hand, and then turn it off. Then I place the thermometer inside. I let the temp fall a bit if it's above 100. If it's below, place the lamp inside and plug it in. The fact is, I try to get my oven at 100 degrees before I place the yogurt inside. I fiddle with this while my yogurt is cooling down to the right temperature.

Below I've included my recipe for my Honey Vanilla Yogurt from a previous post on this blog for your convenience.

It's healthy, tasty, and easy. You just need a candy thermometer, a good sauce pan, an oven that can maintain a temperature of 100 degrees, and the following ingredients:

8 cups of fresh milk
2/3 cup powdered milk
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (1/2 envelope)
2 scant teaspoon instant pectin

Mix together in a heavy sauce pan with a wire whisk.
Turn the burner to low-medium low and let the milk slowly rise in temperature up to 170 degrees, but DO NOT let the milk come to a boil. Stir occasionally to prevent a film sticking to the bottom of the pan.

When the milk mixture reaches 170, remove from heat and stir in:
3/4 to 1 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

When the mixture reaches a temperature between 112 and 108, add:
1/2 cup of yogurt starter. (Use plain or vanilla. You can reserve a 1/2 cup from your previous batch of yogurt).

Mix well with wire whisk. Strain and pour into containers. I like to use Pyrex bowls that come with lids, but I have found that used yogurt containers work, as long as they have snap on lids.

Put the lids on the containers and place in a pre-heated 100 degree oven for 8 to 10 hours. Turn off the heat and let remain in the oven for another 1 to 6 hours, depending on how strong you want the yogurt flavor.

Refrigerate and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: X is for Xylem

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

X is for Xylem
it's the part of the tree
and all other plants you see.

Like all God's handiwork,
it does more than one or two things.
Most importantly,to the leaves, 
the root's water it brings.
But it also brings nutrients
so the plant can grow like it should,
and gives trees rigidity
when it turns into wood.

It's an unknown hero
that goes on without praise,
but without it there'd be
no food you could raise.
All plants would die
the air would die too,
and there'd be no world left
for me or for you.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: W is for Waffle

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

W is for Whole Wheat Waffles,
I eat them every day,
with yogurt and fresh fruit,
because they taste best that way.

Here's my easy recipe. I usually only fill the waffle iron half way, as a whole one is too big for me. I then store my leftover batter in the fridge. When I go to use it the next day, I simply skim the top off the batter that has turned dark. The batter underneath is still good, I just give it a stir and pour it into the waffle iron. The batter last 2 to 3 days in the fridge. 
I love to pile them high with fresh fruit and homemade honey vanilla yogurt. (That recipe will be posted on Wednesday for the letter Y).

Whole Wheat Waffles:
1 cup whole wheat flour (freshly ground is best)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
In a liquid measuring cup add:

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 tablespoon yogurt
1 egg

Add to dry ingredients, mix well, and pour into heated waffle iron.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: V is for Voice

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

V is for Voice.
If I had a choice
I would have one 
that sung
as beautiful as birds 
in the spring.
But since I don't
I certainly won't
sing for you,
'cause you'd have a clue
that my voice is like
a rusty spring.

I wrote this poem in the point of view of my daughter Allison. She is inspiring to me. When she was thirteen she contracted a virus that paralyzed her vocal chords. For over a year her words came out as mere whispers.  The doctors told her there was little they could do to help her. My husband gave her a blessing and called upon the powers above to help heal  her voice. Shortly thereafter her voice returned. It was slight at first. She didn't let it hold her back from being the bubbly, talkative teenager that she had been before her illness. Now she loves to talk. However, she can not sing. At all. 

(above is a picture of her and her son, Hunter).

Blogging from A to Z: U is for uh-oh

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

U is for Uh-oh,
I forgot to blog about U
I hope it won't undo
my efforts to reach out to you.
I value my followers, 
though they are few,
and to complete this challenge
was something I wanted to do.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: T is for Tree

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

T is for Tree

I love trees. The are my favorite of Mother Nature's creations. They uplift me, inspire me, and make me smile. In honor of them and the letter T, I'm posting a poem I wrote. Actually, it's the manuscript for a children's book I hope to have published one day. (I wish I was a decent illustrator).


My friend doesn't wear
pink bows in her hair.
My friend doesn't eat
milk, muffins or meat.

My friend doesn't shop,
swim, cycle, or hop.
My friend’s not like me.
My friend is a tree.

In spring she’s all white.
Her blossoms delight
my eyes and my nose.
I love what she grows.

She’s so fun to climb
in midsummer time.
If I get the whim,
I swing from her limb.

An apple a day                                                                                   
I eat when I play
with her in the fall.
She helps me grow tall.

Last winter I’m told,
when it got too cold,
she gave her right arm
to help keep me warm.

There’s more to my friend.
Her gifts have no end.
She gives me for free
stuff essential to me.

Recycling the air,
she makes lots to share.
Used air becomes new,
so I don’t turn blue.

When it’s a hot day,
I don’t want to play. 
I long for her shade
where cool air is made.                                                                            

When I want to run,
when smog dusts the sun,
I’m glad that she’s there.
Her leaves clean the air.

My friend’s not alone.
All trees that are grown,
like oak, ash, and fir,
give gifts just like her.

We all need the trees,
baboons, birds, and bees,
kids like us, too.
So what should we do?

Recycling is good.
It saves lots of wood.
I’ll turn off the light,
add blankets at night.

I’ll walk a lot more
to school and the store,                                                                       
and plant a new tree—
a new friend for me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: S is for Stone

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

S is for Stone

I love to work in stone.
If I were a queen, 
my throne
would be made of stone.
I love its cold, hard feel

I like to remodel houses and do all sorts of DIY projects. My favorite medium to work with is stone and tile. But I like stone best. I love the way you can cut/chip it to what ever shape you want and not have to see a manufactured edge. I love its variety of colors. It's nature's natural building supply. It makes me smile.

This is the natural stone I put on the front of the house we just renovated, along with a flag stone patio. It's still a work in progress.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: R is for Raspberries

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

Image result for raspberries

R is for Raspberries.
I planted some this spring
so I'd have lots to pick
and make tasty dishes with zing.

Raspberries are one of my favorites from my garden. I created this recipe one Sunday afternoon when I had just picked lots of raspberries. I was in the mood to eat them on cheesecake, but I didn't have enough cream cheese on hand to make one, and I didn't want to run to the store.


Coconut Pastry Crust:
1 cup shredded coconut (toasted and cooled)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cold butter, cut up
1/4 cup + 1 TBS sugar
2 to 2 1/2 TBS water

Mix first 4 ingredients until butter is broken down to small lumps and mixed well with dry ingredients. Add water and pulse mixer until well mixed,

Dough will be slightly dry. Pour into greased deep cookie sheet and press evenly. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees until crust is evenly brown. Cool.

Cheese Filling:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup sugar
Mix together and add:
1 cup boiling water
In a blender place:
1 1/4 cup cottage cheese
1 1/2 pkg. softened cream cheese (12 oz)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
Gradually add the warm gelatin mixture to the blender until the mixture becomes smooth.
Pour over cooled crust and place in refrigerator.

Raspberry Topping:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup sugar
dash of salt and/or Butter Buds
Mix together and add:
3/4 cup boiling water
Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Let cool slightly and add:
3 to 4 cups raspberries, slightly crushed.
Stir well and place in refrigerator, stirring often until the mixture barely begins to set up.

Spread on top of cream cheese mixture.
Chill at least another hour before serving.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: Q is for Quilt

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

Q is for Quilt
Some are sewn for service,
some are made for fun.
Others serve as a canvas, 
with brush strokes of threads,
carefully arranged and colorfully spun.
Though each quilt is different,
they all keep you warm,
and give you a sense of comfort;
a shield from cold and harm.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: P is for People

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

P is for People
Some are extraordinary,
some average, 
some plain,
and why they do 
what they do,
it's hard to explain.
All I know is
there is no greater force
for bad 
or for good
then when people do
what they shouldn't
or should.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blogging from A to Z : O is for Ocean

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

O is for Ocean,
so calm, 
serene, and blue.

O is for Ocean
in a fury
that could easily destroy you.

Moved by its environment,
it is different every day,
yet always so beautiful.
We're much like it in way.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: N is for Nature

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

(This photo was taken a few minutes ago from my deck overlooking my back yard. It's one of the reasons we recently moved here--and took on the challenge of a major house renovation).

N is for nature
There is nothing quite so beautiful
nor so grand
as a scene 
painted by nature's hand.

I am now on the downhill trek on blogging from A to Z in the month of April. I thought it would be good to put out there a reminder of my theme for my journey. I am posting about things that uplift me, inspire me, or just make me smile. Nature is at the top of this list for me, for it certainly does uplift me with its beautiful colors, never clashing, always blending, all the while painting intricate designs that could never be reproduced fully on canvas. I am inspired by new seedlings, breaking forth from their rock-hard seed coats, pushing up through the soil, reaching for the sun, bending toward it, channeling its energy and growing into a miraculous organism, often a thousand fold larger than it started. And when I see a deer- or two or four, walk into my back yard, I can't help but smile at their grace, their beauty, and the serenity they convey to me. I love nature!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: M is for my Mother

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

is for my mother
She still inspires and uplifts me
and always makes me smile.
I draw upon her strength
though she's been go for a while.

(Since before I was born, my mother suffered from severe depression. Yet as a child growing up under her tender care, I was unaware of this. She bore 7 children, raised us all to be good, responsible, god-fearing citizens on a the humble income my father made as a Utah school teacher--and did a great job. And she did this while silently suffering the pains of depression. I applaud you, Mother. Thank you!)

the above picture is of my mother as a college student at Utah State University, only back then it was known as the AC (agricultural college).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: L is for Love

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

Image result for love

L is for love

Love is not merely an emotion,
a sought after genre of novels,
or even a theme for Valentine's Day.
To me it is an actual force,
a component of God's power.
Without it, the world would waste away.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: K is for Kitchen

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

K is for kitchen
Here's an old one and a new.
They are the same kitchen; 
it's amazing what a year can do
when you take an abandoned house
that has been sitting for five years,
gut it, rebuild, and restore it
with lots of dollars, time, and tears.
But in the end, it was worth it,
I have a lovely house
that was built by my own hands
with the assistance of my spouse.

(November of 2013, my husband and I purchased a bank owned house that had been abandoned for five plus years. There were so many problems with the home, we basically tore it down to the studs and started from scratch. It was like we purchased a lot, foundation, and frame, because everything else we restored. We did most of the work ourselves. We finally finished it and moved in on Valentine's Day of this year, 2015. It has been a rocky road, but in the end, I'm glad we did it. It has been an exhausting yet inspiring experience. I've just shown the kitchen on this post. One  of these days, when I have more time, (we're working on totally redoing the landscaping at the moment), I'll post before and after photos of the entire home.)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: J is for Johnny Jump ups

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

Image result for johnny jump ups

is for Johnny Jump ups

Their fragile-looking flowers
are really rather strong.
They can weather a late snow storm
as if nothing had gone wrong.
I love how they come back each year
dressed in violet, white, and yellow.
When they pop up in early spring,
they make me feel quite mellow.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: I is for Ice Cream

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

I is for ice cream

I can't help but smile at ice cream.
Its texture and taste make me scream.
And with nuts on the top
I don't want to stop,
Especially if its topped with whipped cream.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: H is for History

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
H is for history

I'm inspired by the lives
of great women and great men
who stood up for freedom
and morals way back then.
If we could but use their lives
and make ourselves a mold
by which we might pattern ours,
it would be worth solid gold.

(I love history. Most all of my novels are inspired by history. The first book in my Literary Loom series involves the very story of the picture of Washington posted above. It is the story of a boy who travels through books and relives the lives of great men and women of history, discovering for himself the hand of God in freedom and the formation of the United States of America).