Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

thursday's crafting ~ my Yule Tree and more

My favorite Holiday Decorations are my Bristle Cone Critters and instead of using them as ornaments I usually put them into a wreath basket or ring; trying to use only natural items, exception my Critters. I am making this year is no different with the exception of tree for a base and I have decided to find items from nature at the ranch. Gypsy and I went out and gathered branches from each of the three types of trees, some driftwood and barks. We also have junipers, that have berries on them waiting to ripen in the spring.

my base

my traditional spice basket with my Spirit Totem a polar bear ~ and a couple of Yule Candles
made by my dear friend, Liz, in the UK. we are waiting to burn them for when both Steve and I are permanently at the ranch.

wreaths and baskets of the past     

Here are some of my favorite and beautiful ideas I found while my strolling around the internet and thought to share them with you.

what I love about this one is the orange slices and cinnamon sticks attached, what a wonderful way to add some fresh spicy scents. 

this one uses entirely natural items that can be found in the forest- 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

meal ideas ~ winter pastas

These two meals will keep you busy in the warmth of your kitchen making a simply delicious pasta that will knock your cozy socks off.

Chicken and Broccolini Cavatelli
Opting for skinless chicken breast is an easy way to reduce fat and calories in this protein-packed dish. Add pasta and Broccolini, a softer and sweeter-tasting cousin to broccoli with longer stems and shorter florets, for a nutrient-rich Italian meal bursting with authentic flavor.

1 whole bulb garlic
3 teaspoons olive oil
6 ounces dried cavatelli
3 cups Broccolini spears (about 8 ounces)
2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons light butter with canola oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup evaporated fat-free milk
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Snipped fresh chives

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off the top 1/2 inch of the garlic bulb to expose ends of individual cloves. Leaving bulb whole, remove any loose papery outer layers. Place bulb, cut end up, on a double thickness of foil. Drizzle bulb with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Bring foil up around bulb and fold edges together to loosely enclose. Roast 20 to 25 minutes or until garlic feels soft when squeezed. Let cool. Squeeze garlic from skins into a small bowl; mash with a fork. Set aside.

 Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, adding Broccolini for the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Set pasta, Broccolini, and reserved cooking liquid aside.

 In a 6-quart Dutch oven heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add pancetta; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp. Remove pancetta from Dutch oven; set aside. Add chicken pieces to Dutch oven. Cook 7 to 8 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F). Remove from Dutch oven; set aside.

 In the same Dutch oven melt light butter over medium heat. Whisk in the mashed garlic, the flour, the 2 tablespoons chives, the salt, and pepper until combined. Add milk and evaporated milk, whisking until smooth. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add Parmesan cheese, cooked chicken, cooked pasta, and cooked Broccolini. Toss to combine. Add enough of the reserved pasta cooking liquid as needed to reach desired consistency. Top with crispy pancetta and additional chives.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 343 cal., 10 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 57 mg chol., 464 mg sodium, 33 g carb. (2 g fiber, 7 g sugars), 27 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Mark as Free Exchange (d.e): 0; Fat (d.e): 1.5; Starch (d.e): 2; Lean Meat (d.e): 3; Vegetables (d.e): 1

Scallop, Mushroom, and Fennel Campanelle
If you’re looking for the right recipe to try kale, here you go! This seafood pasta recipe is restaurant-worthy and gourmet-inspired. Scallops, oysters, and mushrooms add richness to the pasta, while kale gives it a boost of color and nutrients.

8 ounces fresh or frozen sea scallops
6 ounces dried campanelle pasta
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups fresh oyster mushrooms, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped kale
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fennel
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup light butter with canola oil
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

 Thaw scallops if frozen. Rinse scallops; pat dry with paper towels. In a large saucepan cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; set aside.

 Sprinkle scallops with the 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. In a large nonstick skillet heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add scallops; cook 2 to 4 minutes or until scallops are opaque, turning once. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Add another 1 teaspoon of the oil, the mushrooms, and garlic. Cook about 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, the kale, and fennel. Cook about 7 minutes more or just until kale and fennel are tender.

 Remove skillet from heat and add wine. Return to heat. Add butter, parsley, lemon juice, and the 1/8 teaspoon salt; stir to combine. Add the cooked pasta and the mushroom mixture to the butter mixture; toss to combine. Heat through. Divide pasta-mushroom mixture among four serving bowls. Place scallops on top of pasta-mushroom mixture.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 331 cal., 10 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 19 mg chol., 567 mg sodium, 42 g carb. (4 g fiber, 3 g sugars), 16 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Mark as Free Exchange (d.e): 0; Fat (d.e): 1.5; Vegetables (d.e): 2; Lean Meat (d.e): 1.5; Starch (d.e): 2

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

healthy living ~ homemade bath gifts

Homemade Bath Products is one of the healthiest ways to give a little something with that Christmas Hug? What better than something that makes everyone feel good. Here are a couple of last minute homemade beauty ideas for a totally exquisite gift basket. Use your imagination in packaging. Also, I would love to see a photo of yours that you happen to make. `All supplies can found at your local health food store and hobby shop.  looking forward to seeing some emails. 

Candy Cane Bath Crystals
These peppermint-vanilla bath crystals are wonderful to use when soaking in a tub, but they also make a luxurious foot soak when dissolved in a basin of warm water. (makes one pint jar of bath crystals)
pint jar with a lid 
2 mixing bowls
bath crystal mixture
2 tablespoons Epsom salt 
2 cups of sea salt 
red food coloring
vanilla and peppermint essential
liquid vegetable glycerin 

Place one cup of crystals in each of your bowls. Glass is best since it does not absorb scents. In one bowl, add a few drops of red food coloring, about 15 drops of peppermint essential oil, and five drops of glycerin. Mix this together very well until the color is evenly distributed. Set this bowl aside.

In your second bowl, mix about 15 drops of vanilla essential oil and five drops of glycerin.

When both are mixed, take your jar and prop it up in front of you at an angle. (This will allow the crystal mixtures to be added at an angle so that when the jar is placed upright, it will look like a striped candy cane.) I use an old towel and a box to make a cradle for it. Spoon about ¼ cup of one color in the bottom, making sure to keep the jar tipped. Then spoon ¼ cup of the other color into the jar. Keep alternating until you get to the top.

Fill jar all the way to the top and place the lid on. Feel free to add a little more if it looks like it has settled a bit. Add a nice ribbon and instructions on a tag. The instructions are simple, “Add a handful to warm water for a relaxing soak.”

Frankincense and Myrrh Body Oil
 A body oil works great keeping the skin from drying out. Frankincense and myrrh are two oils used since ancient times that will be perfect for the holiday body oil.

a dark bottle, 8 ounces works wellcarrier oil such as grapeseed, jojoba, or sweet almond
frankincense and myrrh essential oils

Add 40 drops of each essential oil to your 8 ounce bottle. Fill the rest of the way with your carrier oil, leaving enough room at the top to shake ingredients. Cap bottle and shake gently to combine ingredients. (If using 4 ounce bottles, only use 20 drops of each essential oil.) Label with instructions on how to use. Something like, “Rub small amounts at a time into the skin, avoiding sensitive areas.”

Bayberry Bath Bombs
Bath bombs are fun and often help to get kids into the bath. These are fun for adults too! The fresh, clean scent of bayberry gives a warm, comforting feeling, though ANY scent could be used.
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup baking soda
1 cup citric acid 
a few drops green food coloring
natural mica glitter, optional
a spray bottle of water
10-15 drops bayberry essential oil
A meatball former or a bath bomb mold 

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a glass bowl. Add a few drops of green food coloring. It will tend to clump, so mix it, let it sit a few minutes and the mix again. If you don’t see much color yet, don’t worry, it will come out in time.

Add the bayberry essential oil. Get it mixed in and then add more if you like.

Then spray a small amount of water on your mixture and work it in. Don’t spray too much at a time or you’ll have a mess! Just spray once or twice and work it like pie crust. When it looks like pie crust before you add the water, you can form it into balls. Put it into small aluminum cupcake forms, soap forms, about anything you can think to use,  I’ve also read that the tool that makes meatballs is about perfect.

Place the balls on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and allow to dry for a few hours. When completely dry, place in a jar and label. Toss one into the bath to soothe and soften the skin.

Cinnamon Orange Hand Soap
Love to make soap, but crunched for time during the holidays?  It’s okay to cheat. A favorite quick thing to do is use a pre-made glycerin soap base. There are bases out there that are all-natural, although they are harder to find.

For each bar you’ll need:

5 ounces of glycerin soap base, clear or white 
orange and cinnamon leaf essential oils 
a square or round mold that will hold about 4 ounces

Cut the soap base into one inch cubes and place in a pint jar.

To melt the base, place pint jar in a pan of hot water over the stove, like a makeshift double boiler. You can also use a microwave, but it often boils over and scorches. If using a microwave, be sure to heat using short bursts at a time (about 30 seconds).

When the soap base is all melted, add your essential oils. For one bar, five drops of each essential oil should be enough, but let your nose be your guide. Add a bit more or less as you choose.

You can add a few drops of color, such as orange or brown, if you like, but I leave mine natural. Pour into the mold and allow it to rest on a level surface for an hour or so.

Be sure it has cooled completely before you try to remove it from the mold. (don’t be fooled by soap that was cool on the outside but still liquid on the inside.  it’s a mess when not ready!) When completely cooled, pull the sides of the mold away from the soap and pop it out from the bottom. You can trim it if you wish, but it’s usually not necessary.

Wrap it in wax paper or other impervious material to keep the air from getting to it. I have found compostable cling wrap online that is made from plant starches and it works very well. Label and give to someone you love!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Wintering in Aspen Willow fun photos

Monday’s are my Wintering in Aspen Willow stories and posts; so, I thought today I will just share some fun photographs of my, Samantha and Gypsy’s days here at the ranch so far. Many of these some of you have seen on my Facebook page; however, there are some of you not connected to FB, these are for you.

our first snow Samie and Gypsy had to go out and play...after photos of course

the temperature stays around 8 degrees to 46 degree, so dressing warm is a must...even Gypsy has a jacket
Samantha loves playing the a point- when her tootsies get too cold she comes in to get warm again...then heads back out.
Gypsy... well, this little ones love the snow so much it is hard to keep her inside- it may be 10 degrees outside and she isn't effected one little bit. A true Swiss mountain dog. 
a couple photos that I love~
 the lady on the left is expecting in the spring
love the snow gathering on their back as they graze
Turkeys!!!! Gypsy loves to chase these guys   
yes, it's a Bear print- haven't seen him/her yet 
the wildest of all.... a crazy lady in a rover
plowing the 700 foot drive.... hahahah
had so much fun even went down the private road a ways toward our
south meadow. it is FUN! but then, when the snow is high, it's windy and cold... :(
 i'll be inside, warm, and waiting for sun and calm winds :)
have a fabulous week everyone, 
and keep an eye out for Thursday's Crafting, 
I finished my Yule arrangement...this year it is very different.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

thursday's crafting ~ crocheted baskets

 this week I want to talk about Crocheted Baskets. I came upon this fun style last year while out at the ranch and found a book on crocheting baskets.

I love baskets and bags, actually you could call me a "bag lady" hehe, the patterns looked simple, ideas for uses fun, and vast.

Then, getting on to Pinterest I found hundreds of patterns.

One afternoon I was working on a particularly large basket, that I had no idea what I was going to use it for; when I put it down to do something, Samantha promptly laid herself in it, curled up and fell asleep. Crocheted pet beds work too- both Samantha and Jake love theirs.

I’ll not go into the “How To” since there is so much information and patterns on the Internet, my Pinterest board- TAOC-the Hook, and books; which, I will share the ones I found to be the best.

Here are some baskets I have done for not only myself, but they make wonderful gifts- alone or filled. 


simple, fun patterns
my first, great starter
lot's of ideas and techniques

an Internet site I found very useful:

wait.... take a look at this! Tapestry Crochet Baskets

these are just so beautiful, I cannot pass this up.
A special basket style that I found while strolling through my research; the patterns are so beautiful and it is not your same-o-same-o crocheted basket. These are unique and I believe deserve a special posting. With that, I will give you a peek in case you find you would rather skip the simple style and go straight to these.  I have not as of yet started one of these, did purchase a book...of course, you know me, I love books! As soon as I finish with my other pending projects this one will be next, it has me excited.

this book has the templates
you need to begin so you can
create your own designs
great book!
this is another, nice to have a digital
version to take along with you.

Internet sites:

hope you enjoyed this posting and have found a new fun way to crochet. Until next week, keep your creative juices flowing; and as always, would love to hear comments, ideas, and see your finished projects. (you can post in comments as Anonymous-you do not have to have an account-) Also, these posting are better viewed on a computer or by "web version," sometimes the e-mail and phones distort the layout, so if you have some issues, go to that old fashioned screen :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

meal ideas ~ winter + stew = ahhhh

Winter + Stews = ahhhhh... no more needs to be said.

Spanish Chicken Stew
Bubbling over with flavor, this stew can be made with ingredients commonly on hand.

1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
12 ounces red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 14 1/2 - ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 medium red sweet pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/3 cup small pimiento-stuffed olives, cut up
Bread Sticks (optional)

In 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine chicken, potato, onion, garlic, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Add tomatoes and broth.

 Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.

 If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Stir in sweet pepper and olives. Cover and cook for 30 minutes more. Serve with bread sticks, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 297 cal., 8 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 113 mg chol., 616 mg sodium, 24 g carb. (4 g fiber, 7 g sugars), 32 g pro. Diabetic ExchangesVegetables (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 1; Lean Meat (d.e): 3.5

Hearty Pork-Beer Stew
A sweet-and-spicy mustard sauce makes this low-fat soup extra special.

1 pound boneless pork shoulder
Nonstick cooking spray
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch slices
2 small green apples, cut into wedges
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 12 - ounce can beer or 1-1/2 cups vegetable broth
4 large roma tomatoes, cut up

 Trim fat from meat. Cut meat into 3/4-inch pieces. Lightly coat large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add meat; cook and stir until meat is brown. Set aside.

 In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine sweet potato, parsnip, apple, onion. Add meat. Whisk together broth, brown sugar, mustard, thyme, garlic and crushed red pepper. Pour over meat along with the beer.

 Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3-1/2 to 4 hours. Stir in tomato. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 209 cal., 4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 37 mg chol., 471 mg sodium, 27 g carb. (5 g fiber, 12 g sugars), 14 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Starch (d.e): 1; Other Carb (d.e): 0.5; Lean Meat (d.e): 1.5; Vegetables (d.e): 1