marathon monday: a super fun runners’ quiz

Howdy! Happy Monday-After-a-Holiday! We had an amazing weekend here at the Lazy W and are ready for everything these new days bring us. Work that matters, good food, Shark Week on TV. All of it. I hope this finds you healthy and motivated for a fresh, new week yourself.

Today for Marathon Monday I am snagging this fun idea from Janae, the hardcore, effervescent, and really speedy Hungry Runner Girl. It’s just a running quiz. 20 easy questions. A fun way to get better acquainted with each other aaaaaaannnnnnnd perhaps motivate Yours Truly to get back out there for some much-needed miles. Let’s do this.

 

1.  Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail? I’d love to go on a nice, long run that includes both, but if you’re making me choose then I’d take the mountain path for sure because hills are what I crave most. Then I’d drive back to the beach with a book and a cooler full of icy diet coke to recuperate.

2.  If you could choose the flavor of Gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be? Do they make cherry limeade flavor? That sounds delicious.

3.  If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it? Compression socks (dying to try these) and a new phone case/arm band, hopefully one that is tight enough on my skinny arm. That is, assuming I already have a fresh pair of great shoes.

I am in love with Brooks Pure Flow. Running shoes are literally the only garment in my life for which I care about the label. And I care about it a lot. So much.

I am in love with Brooks Pure Flow. Running shoes are literally the only garment in my life for which I care about the label. And I care about it a lot. So much.

4.  Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run? I guess a plan is best. I have enjoyed this recent hiatus and the freedom to enjoy other types of exercise, but life is so busy that not having a running-training plan often means I just don’t run, no matter how much I want to. Back at it this week though!

5.  Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill? The latter. Start downhill to build momentum then climb-climb-climb!

6.  When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do? Elliptical, lots and lots of yoga, and different HIIT videos with light weights (15#). I like Jillian Michaels lately. Also, 8-minute-abs and time with the foam roller. Although those barely count as “working out,” they do feel good and make a difference in my body.

7.  What is your preference—>  Out and back, point to point or loop runs? Oh man. Every type of run has its joys and benefits. I started a couple of years ago with millions of tiny loops, so I know that works for me. But I do find myself craving out-and-backs a lot. Especially in beautiful new locations.

8.  If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be —> Good shoes as soon as your budget allows (see above). And good earbuds for music, too.

9.  Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs? When I run here at the farm, of course, I see the llamas out back. They’re not wild but they are curious. Sometimes I see deer in the adjacent forest. Once the buffalo got out of his pen and was wrecking everything while I was running in the back field. The horses tried to get my attention for this but I was in the zone and not easily distracted. That was a scary way to enter the barn, all full of endorphins and still listening to loud music. And I am still keeping my eyes open for Oklahoma’s Sasquatch.

sasquatch

10.  Ever gotten lost while out on a run? Thankfully, miraculously, no. Which is amazing because getting lost while driving used to kind of be my jam. (Ask Handsome.) I once went running wild in the downtown streets of Austin, Texas, and up and down the river there, and even located coffee afterwards and then my hotel room with no problems. Yay for GPS!

11.  If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days… what would that meal be? I love this question. My answer is: watermelon, cottage cheese, and a dark green salad loaded with raw, crunchy veggies.

12.  Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often? Capris when I am in public and shorts when I am alone.

13.  At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go? I usually feel stiff and caged in for the first mile, fussy and clumsy the second, and marginally better by the third. I think it’s always mile four when I actually feel like I’m warmed up and ready to start working.

14.  What do you do with your key when you run? I loop it through a snap on my phone case and just keep a death grip on the whole thing. I recently tried tying it in with my shoelaces but was a nervous wreck the entire run, constantly checking to make sure it was still there. Every little stick or pebble I kicked made me think the key was gone forever. Very distracting! LOL

15.  If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be? Hmm. I don’t know about relive, but for so many reasons I would like to redo this year’s OKC Memorial Marathon, my second full. I made tons of mistakes. Then again, it was such a valuable learning experience. So no, let’s leave it alone. Instead, let’s relive that Zombie 5K obstacle course that was so much fun! Before our starting gun, a zombie sprang out of the woods and terrified me so bad I bolted ahead of my running group, alone into the woods. It was pretty funny and set the tone for the whole race. I had a BLAST. And I think it was in 2014, just a week after my first full, which was a good run, so I was still feeling really strong and happy. Yes to reliving great memories.

zombie run

16.  What type of run is your least favorite type of run? Any run, no matter the distance, when I feel like I am in a rush to finish because someone is waiting on me or there is a tight schedule. It stresses me out and makes me feel guilty for running at all. I often skip a few planned miles just to get back home. Which puts me in a bad mood. For this reason I tend to grab my miles after my most important chores are done but as early in the day as possible.

17.  What has been your biggest motivation lately to get out the door to get your run on? Slimming back down (I gained some weight during this past marathon training) and just plain ol’ stress relief.

18.  When you go for a run, do you leave right from your front door or do you drive somewhere to start? If I run here at the farm, it’s a short walk downhill to the back field loop. Otherwise I drive between 8-10 miles to one of a few different nearby tracks. We have amazing hills in our area that I crave so hard, but it’s just not safe to run straight-out. Because, you know, Sasquatch.

19.  When running in daylight—>  are sunglasses a must or an annoyance? A must. For sure, must. If I run at daybreak or sunset, even if I don’t really need sunglasses, I still feel weird without them on my face.

20.  When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting? I hate that feeling of having not completed the miles I said I would. Another reason the training plan/commitment is effective for me. My friends on social media may tire of it, and for this I’m a little bit sorry, but it definitely helps me stay on track. No pun intended. : ))

Capture29-403x275

Okay, that was fun! Now if you are a runner, please answer some of these questions below in comments! I’d love to know more about your style and habits. It’s so interesting to me. Thanks for sharing these questions, Janae!

Now I am off to do those most important chores and grab some miles before the week gets hectic. Hope your Monday is fantastic.

Run while you still can.
XOXOXOXO

friday 5 at the farm: short stories

#1. Around lunchtime on Thursday Klaus followed me to the front field, using his sharp puppy teeth to help carry the garden hose, which was already running cold and strong with crystalline well water. We were on a mission to rinse and refill the water trough there, but Chunk-Hi looked so baking hot and dry that our mission quickly changed. I called our sweet buff over to where we stood in the shade, and he mosied then posed for his hose down. His summertime bath. One of his favorite things in the world next to Oreo cookies and having his wooly fur peeled off his rib cage. Klaus watched with great curiosity, or maybe envy, because the pup too loves to be hosed down. As I sprayed first Chunk’s thick black mane and terrible, chipped horns, then his massive neck and shoulders, then his tall, serious backbone, his bath ran down in shiny rivulets looking more like Yoohoo chocolate drink than water. Red clay rinsed off his body and he shook, shook, shook, just like a puppy, until only silver beads remained caught in those dense front locks. I rinsed his split hooves and he turned so I could get his other broad side. He lifted his skinny tail and I sprayed him everywhere he asked me to. Meanwhile Klaus was belly down, long legs splayed out in all four directions of the map, surrendered to the cool dirt beneath that oak tree, our Talking Tree. Roosters chased hens somewhere behind us. A horse snuffled contentedly. And I was so happy to be home.

 

#2. These cookies make me unreasonably happy. They have so much strong bite for munchy, snack-craving teeth and they taste sweet and cinnamony, like apple pie, but they are pretty healthy. Made with largely wholesome ingredients and super filling. Okay, commercial is over. Go make them for yourself!

whole wheat-apple-oatmeal breakfast cookie

whole wheat-apple-oatmeal breakfast cookie

 

#3. Katelyn, Dillon, and I walked downhill toward Wedding Meadow. We were scouting a clearer vision for their ceremony. First our feet swished through the green clover of the middle field, then they crunched through the prairie grass out back. Clouds veiled the morning’s brutal sun and a very welcome cool breeze sliced across our path. The bride and groom chatted happily and measured one thing after another, their easy conversation bringing the natural landscape to life in my mind. Every tree shimmered green and lively into a mirage of white satin and floral drapes, twinkle lights and loving vows. Their date is just two months away, and we are so excited.

Wedding Meadows at sunset...xoxo

Wedding Meadow at sunset…xoxo

 

#4. Miss Red Dot has abandoned her maternal duties wholesale. A few days ago I placed her in the freshly cleaned Hatching Highrise with about two dozen uncollected eggs plus all the materials she would need to make a lovely little home for herself and her foster chicks (hay, grass, and fresh herbs). The first day she did fine. I found evidence of nesting and saw that she was eating scratch and drinking cold water normally. Then the next morning when I opened the front hatch to replace her water and add more grain, she flew out at me violently, in a big storm of wide-eyed panic. I looked at the eggs, scattered now, no longer in their grassy bowl of protection, and also saw that Red Dot had been busy peeling away the double-layer chicken wire we had stapled over one window. In addition to trying to remove it, she had also been trying to evacuate herself through one of those hexagon shapes, stretching and bending it, a feathered prisoner escaping from a tiny Alcatraz. A few of those hexagons were quite baggy already. That’s how you know a hen is unhappy: She risks strangulation trying to escape. Also? I had never before seen a hen successfully remove stapled-in wire mesh. She may not have natural brooding instincts, but she’s also no dummy.

 

#5. Friday morning. We tried to sleep late but Klaus thought that idea was silly. So before 5:30 a.m. on his day off, Handsome leads our little trio outside for Hot Tub Summit. Beach towels and perfect coffee in hand, last night’s moon still glowing blurry and mischievous through the last traces of storm clouds, we creep across the dewy south lawn and welcome the holiday weekend. Our feet leave pearly, lustrous tracks in the green carpet, and the sky is already changing from moody bruised colors to clearer ideas about pink and blue, more summertime cotton candy promises. That little elbow of woodsy garden near the hot tub is our own small Emerald Forest. Deep and dark, dramatic and cool almost any time of day, it boasts bigger leaves and stranger nuances of green than anywhere else on the farm. We brainstorm together about how to spend our day, and the birdsong as we chat is thrilling. Enthusiastic, already turned up to a high volume so that surely no one is sleeping late on this beautiful morning. I soak and smile and press into my heart the gratitude of the moment and also the gratitude of how many prayers have been answered lately. From family needs and relationship healing to professional and financial success, despite big obstacles, we are a very blessed couple and we know it. And the wonder of so much freedom and pleasure is a gift for which I am constantly thankful. We decide we are finished soaking, heated now down to the marrow of our bones, and my husband mock-scolds Klaus for relocating our flip-flops. The foot path home is still visible in the fluffy green, lit now by slanting light from the east. The roosters are awake. The day is ready for us. And we are ready for the day.

 

Happy Independence Day Weekend, friends!
Redeem your freedoms.
XOXOXOXO

this is the true story about Klaus…

Once upon a time there was a farmer who wanted to collect all the animals in the land.

He desired a parrot, a bison, some llamas, cats, horses, iguanas, fish, and more.

He acquired them all, one by one. Sneakily.

But he had a real, grown up job that kept him away from the farm all day, every day.

So his wife stayed home to care for the animals.

And she loved the animals. So much! Really. But they kept her from doing other things.

So she perfected her George Bush impersonation, “Read my lips: No new animals!”

And for a while her husband cooperated. 

In fact they planned to thin the herd a little.

Then one day, quite against her urging, he brought home a new puppy.

And despite herself, like she was under some kind of spell, his wife fell madly in love. Again.

The puppy became more than just another farm animal; he was their baby.

He attached his giant paws to her legs and helped her cook and do chores.

He slept with the hobby farmer and his reluctantly affectionate wife.

And they all lived happily ever after, the man and wife and world’s best pup.

Klaus camo

Klaus big eyes

Klaus bath

Klaus cuddle

Klaus camaro

knlaus day 2

Klaus hair bite

Klaus smile garden

The End.
xoxoxoxo

Hey if you’re visiting from Kat’s link up, welcome to the Lazy W! So glad you are here. Hopefully I have already seen your post but if not, please leave me a note and I will hop on over. Have a lovely day! xoxo ~marie

fast & easy strawberry oatmeal cookies

Hello there! I am back home from my jaw-dropping, deeply inspiring 5 days in Colorado, filled to the brim with love and feeling truly centered. Renewed. Optimistic and proud Mama, too. Yesterday I very much enjoyed getting back to the business of daily farm chores and housework, a side effect of being reminded how great my “job” is. It’s perfect for me, really. One of the pleasures of being home is cooking fresh food in my own quirky, artsy little kitchen, and I’d venture to say that Handsome is glad to have me back here too. xoxo

Speaking of cooking, it’s Tuesday, so how about a quick little recipe? This is the cookie experiment to which I recently alluded and had taken to a book club event. Pretty tasty. See what you think.

strawberry-oatmeal cookies

strawberry-oatmeal cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, browned (two sticks melted in a skillet until lightly brown then cooled a bit)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plain sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups quick oats
loads and loads of fresh, clean, hulled, chopped strawberries (I used about 2 cups, and that was a LOT for these cookies.)

What I like about this super easy recipe is that it uses produce in season (strawberries) and nothing too fancy. Stuff you most likely have in your kitchen right now. (By the way, you could probably split that butter amount with half shortening, but I hate that. Or, really, I just love butter so much.) This is just an adaptation of plain oatmeal cookies. I had wanted to make them “clean” but didn’t remember to buy the extra ingredients, which are something like honey, coconut flour, and magic. Actually my local grocer was all out of magic that day, so we had to go with good-ole-fashioned sugary cookies. Not mad about it.

Method:

Brown the butter and let it cool. Using an electric hand mixer, cream it together with the sugars. Add the eggs, vanilla, baking soda, and most of the flour. Now you might want a wooden spoon to finish up. With a bit of muscle, stir in the remaining flour and the oats. Then add the strawberries. That’s it!

sc chopped

Scoop the wet dough in heaping Tablespoons onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for up to 10 minutes. Maybe try turning off the oven and allowing them to finish to a golden brown as the oven slowly cools. The strawberries get all intense looking and caramelized, like strawberry leather. And the oats are very nearly nutty. Tenderly crunchy. SOOO good.

I think this day I added a thin little powdered-sugar-and-milk glaze on top, which actually detracted from the cookie. Made them a but too moist. Your call.

I think this day I added a thin little powdered-sugar-and-milk glaze on top, which actually detracted from the cookie. Made them a bit too moist, plus I didn’t quite get all the lumps out. Your call.

Cool on a wire rack like normal. Serve with cold milk or hot tea or, like I did, as part of a ginormous book club feast surrounded by nine of your favorite people.

Side note: Our new pup named Klaus was brand new to the farm the day I made this recipe. Wearing his cute bandanna, he stayed beneath my feet the entire time and slept and slept afterwards. That was just a few of weeks ago, and looking at these photos I am stunned by how much he has grown. STUNNED. He is so big now! Wow. Maybe we should bake something to celebrate his growth spurt. : )

my sous chef...xoxo

my sous chef…xoxo

The cookie business really did him in. He needed hours of cuddles afterwards. I suffered through.

The cookie business really did him in. He needed hours of cuddles afterwards. I suffered through. You know, for his sake. xoxo

I can think of lots of fun variations for this recipe. How about you? Like, add walnuts. Add a white chocolate drizzle. Go that healthy route and try a honey-coconut flour-magic recipe. That is on my kitchen bucket list for sure.

Okay, happy baking friends! And happy everything on this gorgeous, summery Tuesday. I am signing off soon to work in the garden, play with the horses, and generally max out on this amazing life I get to live. Thank you so much for stopping here.

“People have got to learn:
If they don’t have cookies in the cookie jar,
they can’t eat cookies.”
~Suze Orman
XOXOXO

 

 

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sketches of day two

Frigid water boiling along the pebble-bottom river bed, the symphony of its journey a constant temptation for me. Drawing me closer, daring me to jump in and swim away. Be carried away. She warns me every chance she gets about the dangers of the water, tossing in branches and flowers to demonstrate the swift kidnapping. Such a sweet maternal role shift. I call her the Mermaid of the Rockies and she holds my hand tight with both of hers while I wade and stretch until my shins are aching from the cold. 

A magpie joined us on the hike, his black and white tuxedo feathers so stark and crisp against the greens, browns, and blues of the lush landscape. He delicately tried to lead us up the side of the mountain, on to adventures we can scarcely imagine, toward the opposite end of wherever the freezing river would have taken us. He is one of a thousand magpies who found us at different points throughout the day, and not just on the hike. And not just on that day. Magpies follow her, and they watch her and have some kind of purpose we are hungry to divine. We call it her spirit animal and wait for more.

The vaulted rock walls impart a feeling of safety. Enclosure. And they pulse outward, a strong heartbeat that almost knocks you down where the forest parts and the view is suddenly unobscured. How the water flows so constantly, the cascading falls sprouting from those sky-high caves, is a thrilling mystery. 

Everything here demands and deserves our attention, both the minuscule details near our feet- the ferny undergrowth, colorful wildflowers, and smaller rocks and mossy boulders- of course the enormous rocky, forested cathedral all around us. The foothills that grow up into sheer cliffs that take our breath away, then the down-tumbling avalanche memorials.  

There’s just so much, and it’s all alive. It all has a very real pulse. So we slow ourselves. Press it all into our skin, our eyes, our hearts and souls. We listen to the birdsong and let it be our soundtrack. We touch the smooth, rough, cold, sun-baked rocks and inhale the unreal natural perfumes. We let ourselves become dry sponges soaking up the extravagance. 

There are not enough words for beautiful.

We ended that very full and happy day at midnight on Trail Ridge Road, in a spectacular grayscale, exploring the highest reaches of the mountain beneath a dazzling, sloping quilt of constellations. Shadows passed beneath us like the behemoths of the watery deep. The air was cold. Cold! And the winds howled overhead and all through our ribs, combing our thoughts and feelings, pulling salty tears right to the surface. The smeary gilded half moon stood guard over this unbelievable scene while we stomped in our sandals and canvas shoes through old snow. Crunching and running in the stuff up to our knees, laughing and freezing ourselves into the purest exhilaration. Stars poured through an unseen funnel toward one mountain peak in particular, and I swear they were moving. Churning magic. 

Do the mountains talk to each other, these ancient companions?

xoxoxo

arriving

On the short flight from Oklahoma City to Denver I read several chapters of Lotus Eaters and have to surgically differentiate the main character Helen from the very similar main character in another book I’m nibbling at, It’s What I Do. (By the way? I can’t wait to tell you about both of these books. Wow.) I eat a couple handfuls of dark-chocolate-almond-cranberry trail mix plus a small red apple and a full liter of cold water. It is nervous, happy eating, because that’s a whole lot of food for me at eight in the morning. Still, something tells me the energy will be well spent throughout the day.

I cannot stop smiling as I make my way from the landed plane to a speedy underground train and then to the baggage carousel and my shuttle rendezvous. Texts with Handsome and my firstborn make my heart soar. 

Just minutes outside the Denver airport I see the landscape is comfortingly familiar to Oklahoma. Patchwork fields and modest farmland dotted with barns and silos. Scrubby prairie grasses, ponds, and even tree rows gone wild with time. It’s all very normal looking until I realize that above all of this, it’s not traces of clouds and sun I’m seeing, but rather snow capped mountains. Nearly halfway up the dome of the cornflower blue sky, I stare at the teasing, white, fragile looking shapes. Just hanging there. Broken silhouettes of the peaks where summer can’t reach, suspended above purple and blue shadows too smooth and quiet to be real. I have to refocus my eyes several times.

More brackish water in my life. Driving on the divided highway through the familiar-feeling terrain toward a brand new place. Closer and closer to my girl, my first baby, and a group of stunning rocks where her own heart has found purchase. Away from my own very real home. The drive is a pleasant mix of the two for a while, and I pray thank you and prepare my heart. Then once more thank you

The whispers of the mountain range had been on our left for an hour, just a tenuous suggestion of a foreign land, but now we are turned toward them, facing their immensity, their colors growing sharper with every mile, their heft swelling and gaining a pulse. I catch myself feeling physically sad for the cars driving away. Leaving already? And I catch myself holding my breath.

I see purple wildflowers, five feet tall. A pair of muscular, glossy horses grazing in a field that could be one of our own. A long, thick grove of vaulted trees all leaved out in silver and dancing shamelessly with the very Oklahoma-like wind.

If you are born here, if you grow up with these mountains as your nursery walls, at what age do you first acknowledge their splendor? Then, at what age do you grow bored with them and need reminding? 

Now the feet of the giants are visible. Green and carpeted, knuckled with foothills bigger than anything I’ve so far considered a mountain. More silver trees, this time growing in perfect twin rows, flanking a narrow, unpaved drive, a lot like the great ancient oaks in plantations of the South. I see feathery green grass and every kind of tree, but mostly pine. Cabins or boutique hotels emerging here and there. Generous hidden meadows and colorful wildflowers. This impossibly serpentine road as we climb up up up and my ears pop.

I gasp audibly at the massive boulders spilled out everywhere. Tossed like powerful marbles, great and meaningful, shocking in their size and perfect roundness. Others are deeply gouged and creased by long gone water, and I make a wish that I can maybe carry scars so beautifully. 

Still climbing, still sprialIng upward, I drink in a wide view of nothing but conical Scoth pines. They are stacked in wallpaper rows and layers, greens and grays, a color scale advancing up the mountain that seems to have no top. 

My eyes are greedy for every detail. 

trying to slow the sand & leaving for colorado

This past week has been so busy and happy here at the farm. Filled to the brim with work, projects, gardening, animal changes, sewing orders, fun with friends, special moments with family, romance and laughter, you name it. Whew!

I really would like for time to sloooow doooowwwn. A lot, okay? I need to breathe it all in. I crave for this beautiful life to take longer. Much longer. Even with the bittersweet current that is always there, life is amazing. We have learned how to maintain hope for the best things not yet seen and to keep that emptiness from becoming bitterness. So we want this peace to linger.

Doesn’t hurt one bit that this year, Oklahoma summertime is drop dead gorgeous.

pano shot of back field morning sun pond

This coming week will be unusual and wonderful in brand new ways. Instead of keeping up my normal hermit routine at the Lazy W I will be visiting our oldest daughter where she is working in Colorado. Handsome cannot make this trip, so it will be just me flying to see just her (and her friends) and the Rocky Mountains, a place I have never been before.

(Squeal!)

I am already trying to slow the clock down enough to really press every memory into our hearts. Mine and hers. I want every new sensation to become part of my skin, every conversation to echo in my mind for a long time. Forever. I want the next few days to drench her in all the love I have been trying so hard to transmit to her all this time. She makes us really proud, and seeing her as a young woman is getting easier and easier for her mama who is in a bit of a time warp.

Anyway, I’m not yet sure how blogging will go this week, but whether I have time to write or not I would be so happy if you join the Colorado adventure on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. If you groove it. All signs point to “photos will be amazing!” Also, “Gorgeous doe-eyed artist daughters right around the corner!”

Okay, thanks for checking in! I’m pretty darn excited. And if you have the magic spell for slowing time, do tell.

Carpe Diem
Slowly
XOXO

 

 

random farm updates

Hello again, and happy Thursday! Or happy whatever day you are reading this. Thank you so much for dropping in here. Lots is happening at the farm, and I feel like getting it all out.

the rose of sharon are blooming and the skies are churning...xoxo

The Rose of Sharon are blooming and the skies are churning…xoxo

The seasons are changing, then changing again, and basically keeping us guessing. Oklahoma is probably past tornado season but still dealing with torrential rains and flooding. The temperatures are nice and summery, though, so overall our gardens look amazing.

Volunteer squash. Yay!!

Volunteer squash. Yay!!

Except the east facing flower border. Some shrubs have overgrown, and three others (my red tipped photinas) have contracted a disease that made it necessary to remove them. Jeep-jeep to the rescue! I have big, colorful ideas for the newly wide open soil here.

jeep pull

I still do not have any honeybees to replace the hives that last season fell under attack from hive beetles, but that’s really my fault. Or at least, it’s a consequence of consciously prioritizing farm projects. The good news is that we still have scads of honeybees in the vicinity, and they visit us daily. I see them in the vitex (chaste tree), in the vegetable beds, flowers, fruit trees, everywhere. Chances are that the forest next door has several wild swarms practically begging for me to get my act together and catch them. It’s just a matter of time or the ability to clone myself.

Speaking of fruit trees, the plums are numerous and ripening slowly. I am so happy about this! At my childhood home in Oklahoma City my Mom grew a plum tree in our front yard, and I was unreasonably proud of it. Not that I had anything to do with it; it just made me happy. So petite and healthy, so beautiful and productive. I thought my mom was magic to be able to grow plums like that. So seeing my own plum tree now heavy with green and nearly purple fruit, silken and firm, it’s pretty thrilling. One of my apple trees, though, is suffering from some rain-related copper-colored fungus. Not the end of the world, but I will have to do something about that if and when the sun ever comes out for good.

The hens are still providing us with up to ten fresh, heavy eggs per day. Sometimes they lay in the barn, which is fun to discover, either in a hay nest or behind one of Handsome’s tool boxes. Our fridge is always full of eggs, and I’ve been selling them locally too. To me this is pure luxury. I eat eggs anytime I want, which is all day long; we sell enough eggs to continue feeding the flock; and everyone is happy. Except maybe the liquid chickens who are so delicious. : )

My sweet little sewing and embroidery machine has been putting in some good hours, exploring new patterns and fun fabric combinations. I am slowly but surely spending up our abundant scrap supply. Okay that’s not true. It’s unlikely we will every be empty of fabric scraps here. But the dent is noticeable, and it’s sure fun. I’m selling various little kitchen accessories, too, so drop me a line if you’re interested.

ruffled, appliqued,  & embroidered dish towels, each one unique, $9

Ruffled, appliqued, & embroidered dish towels, each one unique and slightly weird, $9

Don't fold it. Don't stir it. Don't blend it. WHIP IT. Whip it good. This is the beginning of an apron and towel set for a new bride. : ) 3-piece set for $25.

Don’t fold it. Don’t stir it. Don’t blend it. WHIP IT. Whip it good. This is the beginning of an apron and towel set for a new bride. : ) 3-pieces total for $25.

Basil, you guys. The basil is coming.

I just… I just don’t have enough words. I have recently enjoyed two meals with little specks of it on top, and I just know that with a few days of good, baking heat every bed where the fragrant sprouts are growing will explode with the beautiful stuff. Pesto is about to be a reality.

When is National Basil Day? There’s a designated calendar event for every other food in the world. Not basil? The King, nay, the Emperor of herbs? Somebody make a phone call. Handsome! Send a terse email. Let’s make this happen.

Look out, Spaghetti Sunday. I'm coming for ya.

Look out, Spaghetti Sunday. I’m coming for ya.

Book club gathered last week and I took some strawberry-oatmeal cookies. They were so legit. It was kind of a mash up of a few different recipes, so I will try to share that soon. Strawberries are so abundant right now! Fat of the Land, and all, Barbara Kingsolver would be proud.

strawberry cookie

I’ve been staying really active fitness-wise, just not running so much as before. Hence, no “Marathon Monday” posts lately. But that’s about to change because I crave it again, hard. In the two months or so since the marathon I have been doing more weights and Jillian Michaels videos, plus gobs of time on the elliptical and just running maybe twice per week. It’s been really nice to enjoy some variety in working out. I have noticed my stress levels drop significantly, and I am also down ten pounds. Yay!

Let’s see… Let’s see… What else?

Anything else new here?

We did make an addition to our farm family. Our farmily as Honey Rock Dawn might say.

Only the cutest, sweetest, smartest puppy in the WORLD!

knlaus day 2

But I bet you don’t want to hear all about Klaus the Wonder Pup,
The Most Perfect-Amazing-German-Shepherd-Baby-Genius ever born.

Do you?

I didn’t think so. I’ll save those scrumptious details for a whole new post. Soon. Right now I need to go cuddle him and sniff the basil.

Happiest possible Thursday! Or whatever day you are reading this! Okies, don’t float away!

Life is so good.
Over and out.
XOXO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my salad mission, some salad advice, & 2 amazing salads already this week

It is my fervent belief that any lunch or dinner food a person truly loves can be fashioned into a respectable, maybe even legendary, entrée salad. And I am on a mission to prove this.

Yesterday morning, after coffee and chores but before breakfast, I splashed in my too-big flip-flops out to the vegetable garden to see what might be ready for harvest. The grass was ankle-high and soaked with fresh rain. My calves and shins were quickly speckled with mud. I passed through the garden gate, collected a heaping bowl of big, glossy, tangy-sweet black berries and admired the growing pepper plants. Then I turned to my right toward the raised beds that house mostly tomatoes and leafy greens. I have been harvesting the greens so aggressively, and we have enjoyed such a glorious first few weeks of true summer heat, that I keep expecting to find bolted, seedy stalks where my tender salad bar used to be. The snow peas and spinach have now surrendered to the hot new season, after all. Instead, much to my delight, the remaining plants just get bigger and prettier. Ferny, spiky mesclun and fancy lettuces, soft, sunny leaf lettuce, a rainbow of kale colors in just as many sizes and textures, now baby Romaine and arugula are joining the party. I have every shade of green popping up and providing me ruffled vitamins and roughage every single day. And for this I am so grateful.

It really supports my salad habit.

I eat a lot of salad, and not just when I’m “dieting.”

salad

Because, friends, salad is King. I believe deep down in my very healthy guts that besides coffee, salad is the best possible food you can ingest. Salad is pleasure food, not deprivation food. It provides variety. It opens the door to endless streams of flavor and nutrition. Different kinds of salad greens grow rampantly all over the world in all sorts of conditions and are usually affordable to buy if you don’t want to grow your own. A well constructed salad will fill you up, energize you, and help you feel happy but not guilty. Salad will get you to efficiently scrape out all the weird ingredients in your kitchen while you wait for pay day.

Salad is just the bomb-dot-com.

I am, however, kind of a salad snob. Sometimes at restaurants I embarrass Handsome by asking our server too many questions about a salad on the menu before ordering. I just hate to be disappointed, you know? And they can be so expensive at restaurants, I want to know what I’m getting.

So I build them at home to guarantee success and in recent months have been paying more scrutinous attention to what makes a salad truly great. What are the elements of salad design that bring a bowl or plate of the stuff from just ordinary to knock-your-socks-off? Okay. This is what I have so far:

  • Variety of leaves. The best salads have at least two different green leaves: One crunchy (like Romaine or iceberg but including so much more) and one leafy (like red sails) or leathery (like spinach). Mix it up! Use wild greens if you can. Try arugula, mesclun, kale, anything you can find. Aim for a mix of shades of green or purple. Add cabbage. Pea shoots if they are in season. Reach waaaaaay beyond anemic heads of limp, yellow lettuce.
  • Wash and dry. We all know to rinse our raw food first, but don’t forget to get rid of that extra water, too. Spin it, shake it, dab it with a flour sack towel, whatever you fancy. Just don’t sabotage your creation with a puddle of tap water in the bottom of your bowl. Fairly dry leaves will accept dressing better, too.
  • Additional produce. Can it even be called a salad if there’s not at least one other fruit or vegetable scattered throughout? Veggies are high in fiber and low in calories. Fruit is just magical. The best carbs. They both provide crunch, flavor, moisture, visual appeal, and so many nutrients. Go for variety again, and when chopping, err on the side of small and bite-sized. Use fresh and raw veggies. Shred some carrots or broccoli stalks after you’ve eaten the trees. Use that last apple in your fruit bowl, sliced thinly. Try some fire roasted corn sliced off the cob, marinated and roasted peppers, anything! I save every little extra bowl of cooked veggies from our meals to use in lunch salads throughout the week. So far nothing has been disappointing. Getting really creative with salad add-ins is a wonderful way to cut waste in your kitchen.
  • Protein. The world is your oyster here. (haha) Whatever your mouth and your belly desire is a good call for your salad. My favorites are fried or hard-boiled eggs, black beans, and grilled chicken breast or grilled steak. I also like a can of well drained tuna. Just anything that will help the meal gain some heft and staying power. We recently started eating at a local BBQ restaurant that serves the most delicious entrée salad! You choose your meat, and about four ounces of it is served in the center of the mixed, chopped salad, like in a little well, and it’s perfect. Just the right amount. I had never had pulled pork like that before, and it was wonderful. The dish included roasted corn, diced tomatoes, a tiny speck of cheese, and a drizzle of their barbecue-ranch dressing, so despite having had a “salad for dinner,” I felt like I feasted on BBQ. Legit.
  • Easy on the dressing and let’s be creative. I know it’s a joke, but salad really is not just an excuse for lots of creamy dressing. Too much can ruin a really good thing, so this is my plea for the world to lighten up with how we top our salad plates. Train your mouth to crave the flavors of the food, not the topping. Try squeezing some lemons all over the leaves first and then add a little sea salt and black pepper. Just that! You may not need anything else, especially if you have built a good variety of flavors and textures on your plate. Eggs make a great binding dressing. Or, if you want, maybe just a teaspoon of good olive oil. Salsa is an excellent dressing for Tex-Mex entrée salads. Also, chunks of pineapple or watermelon can serve as both bulk and moisture. These fruity options aren’t calorie-free, but they aren’t empty calories either. Stir it all together to distribute the deliciousness.
  • Something crunchy or chewy. This is just me, but after all of that has been accomplished I like to have one crunchy or chewy element. Something strong for my teeth. It can be raw veggies, or seeds, or roasted chickpeas, maybe crispy tortilla strips or torn and microwaved corn tortillas, but rarely croutons. Unless they are homemade and so worth the calories.  Just a little, though. Just a little bit of crunch or chew goes a long way. Sometimes the protein works for this.

Two Great Salads Recently:

Monday night our farm menu was Spaghetti Carbonara. We love that dish! I love it a lot. Maybe too much. So at the last minute I decided to both trim down the carbs on my dinner and capitalize on the day’s green garden bounty by refashioning carbonara into a salad. It was divine.

The basic flavors of carbonara are bacon, parmesan, and raw egg. I included these, plus fresh Roma tomatoes and some parsley and called it perfect. For my salad, the eggs were hard-boiled and grated. I also added lemon juice for moisture and because I think lemon and egg taste great together.

bacon

Maybe it seems more like a BLT at this point, but to me it read as carbonara. So good.

plate

So good, friends.

That was last night.

Tonight I had in the fridge a handful of leftover chicken-zuchinni poppers needing to be used up. Salad opportunity! So I reheated them, cut them in half, and tossed them onto a heaping helping of the same garden greens as yesterday plus more tomatoes, one hard-boiled egg chopped up, and some lemon juice again. So easy! I was full long before my bowl was empty. I have zero guilt about this meal. It’s both healthy and economical.

ckn mtball salad

Are you with me? Do you too believe that salad is pleasure food, not deprivation or punishment food? And that any food you already love can easily translate to the famous (glorious) big bowl of greens? Does your appetite include anything I’ve mentioned, or something more? What’s your favorite salad combination? I started a Pinterest board all about this, so feel free to send me ideas! Basically I’m obsessed.

We’re gonna talk more very soon about this mission to prove that any food can become a spectacular salad. But I’ve kept you long enough for tonight. : )

Happy Salad-ing!
XOXOXOXO

 

whistling past the graveyard (book review)

Friends, I have been wanting to tell you about this book for several weeks but just keep putting it off because the story washed over me in such a wonderful way that I didn’t want to rush through my review of it. Whew! I barely feel like I can relay to you how beautiful and impactful it is. I really want you to read it, ok? And I really think you should have your kids read it, depending on their ages. Encourage your family and friends to read it. Suggest it to the educators in your life. Make sure you purchase a copy; don’t just borrow one. You’ll want this around for years to come, and I bet you’ll have the urge to lovingly mark it up, too.

Okay. Let’s begin.

The book that has me so riled up is Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall. 

WPTG book cover goodreads

Our famous little Oklahoma book club devoured and discussed this way back in March. We met here at the farm late that month and had a fun evening together eating great food, loving on each other, and talking over what we all agreed is destined to become a modern American classic.

The buffet table just before we started loading it with edible treasures.

The buffet table just before we started loading it with edible treasures.

My first plate heavy with said edible treasures. We earn our moniker rightly.

My first plate heavy with said edible treasures. We earn our moniker rightly.

My smart, hilarious, beautiful, long time friend Steph and me. You may recall Steph is our token non-reader, but she has been reading! The world is off its axis!

My smart, hilarious, beautiful, long time friend Steph and me. You may recall Steph is our token non-reader, but she has actually been reading! The world is off its axis!

Melissa with Fancy Louise the chicken and Chanta the horse, who was really greedy for her affection that night. So fun!

Melissa with Fancy Louise the cuddly hen and Chanta the cuddly horse, who was really greedy for Melissa’s affection that night. So fun!

Dinner Club With a Reading Problem always has a memorable time together. Y’all know that by now. But this book, assigned to the group by Seri after she randomly spotted it one day at Target, really got our attention.

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The story is set in 1963 in the Deep South. It follows a precocious, not always pleasant, but in the end very lovable little girl and the adults closely attached to her life. Together they experience normal childhood stuff plus one grand (and sad) adventure as well as fascinating cultural scenes from that region at that time and the racially charged tension that often occupied it.

Whistling Past the Graveyard holds its own with books like The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird, both of which our book club has read and discussed. We have also read Seven Days in May by beloved Oklahoma author Jen Luitweiler, another bit of historical fiction about social turbulence, racially charged issues, cultural differences, and the like. So it’s fair to say we have a good base for tackling these themes. This newest title not only added to our repertoire; it also deepened our conversations. A lot. Something about the characters Crandall wrote and the way they are all a mix of good and bad, whether black or white or rich or poor, something about that peeled away even more layers. Our discussion that night was fascinating and too short. We all thought this book warranted more talk time.

wptg quote art

For all the painful, universal broad strokes in a story like this, there is also a deep ocean of personal love for the reader to swim in. Personal stories are where the big stories really happen anyway, right? These pages are loaded with believable moments when you feel like you are right there in the characters’ faces. Lots of tangible affection and terribly acute heartache, too. I could share beautiful quotes like this from throughout the book, but I just really want you to read it for yourself. I will personally be enjoying it again and again, just like Grapes of Wrath. It has a classic, better-every-time-you-read-it sort of magic. Flipping through my dog-eared pages I already miss the fabric of the story, its thick, soft, patchwork-quilt quality, the very real characters and emotion Crandall conjured up. The spiritual lessons. Everything! Just wonderful, nourishing, entertaining stuff from the very first page to the last.

By the way, this book is a mere 308 pages, and the story moves fluidly. Smoothly. You should be able to tuck it in between more laborious titles with ease, and I suspect it will refresh you deeply. Spoiler Alert: You will probably cry at some point, but don’t give up and stop reading. Promise me you will finish to the end.

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Okay, that’s it for now! Have you read Whistling Past the Graveyard? If so, what did you think? If not, are you now tempted to grab it and gobble it up this weekend? Tell me everything.

“Sometimes laughin’ is all a body can do, child.
It’s laugh or lose your mind.”
~Susan Crandall Whistling Past the Graveyard
XOXOXOXO