Archive for August, 2012





Random Thoughts: Reunions and Things

Thursday, August 30th, 2012







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You WILL Go Home

Again



Don’t forget to comment to enter our newest giveaway for a heavy, heavy, marble and wooden rolling pin and package of a Made In Oklahoma mix to roll out! Winner will be announced Labor Day weekend. There are just a few days left!




It’s been rather crazy around here. Much, much traveling with back-to-back trips. One trip was to Georgia so that Mr. Fix-It could do some training while I got to spend time with my precious Aunt Lois and Uncle Ed and see the new cottage that they are building. It is next to what will be their daughter’s home. They are in a retirement home right now and all I can say is that I am THRILLED that they are getting out of there and into their own place. I am not lying. I felt 90 years old when I left that retirement home. No smiles. No laughter. No sound. No nothing. Very dismal. It is so gratifying to see how my cousins are willing to give their parents the support, encouragement and help that honors the sacrifices that my aunt and uncle made for their children over the years.


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We stopped in Tupelo, MS to see Elvis Presley’s birthplace and historical exhibit



Of course, if one is in Georgia during peach season, one MUST buy peaches and that is exactly what Mr. Fix-It and I did at the most enormous peach orchard I’d ever seen. There was no end to the peach trees and it just made me tired to think of all the work that goes into dealing with that many peaches. This family-owned orchard also supplies homemade peach ice cream to perspiring customers who brave the heat and humidity to purchase baskets of huge fruit. And what fruit it was! “Like candy,” comes to mind.


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There were acres and acres of peach trees as far as we could see



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Mr. Fix-It was lured by the big ICE CREAM sign!



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The peaches were huge and beautiful



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On our way to the peach orchard we saw a covered bridge that was built by a freed slave before the civil war, using only wooden pegs instead of nails. Just amazing.



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The magnolias were in bloom



Mr. Fix-It and I came home to an even hotter Oklahoma of 110º – 114º days with no rain. We watched as grasses dried to a crunchy carpet of brown and trees slowly died, even though Mr. Fix-It diligently watered everything as best he could. Fires raged in nearby areas and the thought of leaving again was not really an option. But I had a high school class reunion to attend and I am sure that y’all can imagine that Mr. Fix-It was chomping at the bit to attend it with me!! This reunion, I am willing to admit, was my 40th year shindig. Yep. My classmates are all old. I’m not old, but they are! Fortunately, we Okies got about an inch of rain to alleviate any fears of leaving home to the fires and so Mr. Fix-It got his wish to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to a party where he was to converse with people he’d never met, didn’t know and who played absolutely no part in his world.


As for my part, I agonized over what to wear. You know: “What outfit will make me look like I stepped out of Vogue even though, I don’t know what Vogue is or how one steps out of it? What jewelry will give the appearance that the Queen of England felt obliged to give me the crown jewels? Sandals or dress shoes? Heels or flats? Teeth whitening or ventriloquize through closed lips?” And my Thyroid Eye Disease tends to make me look like I’m either drunk or shocked at the sight of everything – wide, red, watery and exaggerated – how was I going to downplay that? Let me tell you, if you make it to your 40th reunion, you no longer care what the guys think. You simply want the girls…er..women..er…mature females…to look at you and gush, “Oh MY! You haven’t changed a bit! Why, you are just as cute as a bug’s ear and pretty as a peach,” while thinking, “Oh my gosh. I’d have never known her without a name tag. Her hair is platinum (remember?! We don’t say gray!) and I thought she used to be thin! I’m thinkin’ she’s eaten one buttermilk pie short of a bakery!!” And so I chose my wardrobe carefully to reflect only half a bakery and settled for a raid on James Avery for jewelry. There was nothing to be done about my eyes, except to keep them closed – along with my lips.


The trip was uneventful – 15 hours of driving through drought-stricken Oklahoma and Arkansas and a stop at Trader Joe’s in Nashville, Tennessee. Trader Joe’s is my favorite. I’ve begged them to come to Oklahoma but was told by a number of their young, geographical geniuses that it isn’t possible to get over the Oklahoma mountains. What part of “wind comes sweepin’ down the PLAINS” do they not get?? We rolled into Knoxville to the home of our dear friends, Clyde and Mary, and settled in for the evening.


It was then, that my vanity reared its ugly head. (Yes, admitting one’s flaws is a direct road to continuing them without embarrassment.) I had taken my wedding rings off. I wanted to wear these beautiful gifts from Mr. Fix-It the next day, to prove to my classmates that I had really talked somebody into sharing his paycheck with me on a regular basis, but my ring finger knuckle had swollen twenty times its normal size. Not to be deterred, at 11:30 that night, with Mr. Fix-It and our host and hostess already in bed, I decided to make sure that I could wear the rings. I don’t know why. Don’t even ask me. All I know is that I was determined. I slathered a ton of hand cream all over my hand and finger and got the rings to the knuckle and then, with tongue stuck out between my unwhitened teeth, I forced them the rest of the way into place. There!! They were on. And as I happily looked at them, my finger began to swell more. Oh no. I knew that my finger was going to turn blue.


I tip-toed in to Mr. Fix-It, at midnight, and woke him up to inform him that my rings were stuck. You can imagine the sense of compassion and urgency he felt. He said, “I really wish you hadn’t done that. It’s midnight.” Long story short, he watched as I walked around the room with my hand over my head, stuck my hand in the freezer, ran cold water over my finger and tried another round of lotion to no avail. Clyde and Mary, stayed asleep, I think. By 12:30 am, the swelling had at least stopped and since my finger had not fallen off, Mr. Fix-It chose sleep over panic and I slept on the couch with my hand on the back cushions to keep it elevated. About 2 am, Mr. Fix-It came in to check on me, scared me to death and said, “I really wish you hadn’t done that. It’s 2 in the morning.”


The next morning, finger still immensely swollen, our friends recommended their family jeweler, Lamon Jewelers, for rescue and I was driven to a very painful experience of getting my rings cut off of my sausage finger. It hurt!!!! And when my precious jewelry had finally been removed, it lay in a bent and twisted heap of metal and jewels that looked nothing like a set of wedding rings. I didn’t cry, but I wanted to. However, this afternoon, I signed for a FedEx package that contained my repaired and glistening rings, shipped all the way from Tennessee and they look just like new. Thank goodness for skilled craftsmen!!!


The day of the reunion was full of fun, including a luncheon with a group of my former girlfriends and an afternoon spent with my friend, Robyn, traipsing through old neighborhoods to find the homes in which we had grown up. We found them and shot pictures of ourselves in front of the structures and even met the people who currently live in them. I found out that my old home is haunted – yep – that’s what they tried to tell me – and Robyn traded email addresses with the lovely woman who now calls her place “home” in order to send photos of the house from 50 years ago. The reunion was grand and I so enjoyed seeing the gang that I ran around with in high school, some of whom read this blog and were eager to meet Mr. Fix-It to verify that he is truly the wonderful man portrayed! They were in agreement. The trip back to Oklahoma the next day was also uneventful except for the moment that I came out of a restroom stop and calmly entered the car, wondering where Mr. Fix-It had gone, only to see him sitting in another car nearby. I was in the wrong car. He was laughing his head off. 1900 miles in four days is a bit rough, but it was worth it and I will treasure the memories of seeing so many people from my past.


I thought that I would show those of you who haven’t ever made a peach pie before, how I do mine if I am not using my homemade peach pie filling. That was the case with the peaches from Georgia. I froze them in slices and thawed a gallon to make a pie, but I also use fresh. I figure that I’ll be ready for the next reunion where they can say that I only look like I’ve been eating one peach pie short of an orchard. Much healthier, I think.


Easy Old-Fashioned Peach Pie



1 gallon sliced peaches
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 double pie shell
2 pats butter
cinnamon sugar


Printable Recipe



Make your pie crust. My recipe for multiple pie crusts is great for a quick pie.


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Put peach slices into a large bowl with flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and toss until pieces are coated.


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Pour coated peaches into an unbaked pie shell





Wet the edges of the bottom crust with ice water and lay top crust on top.


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Roll bottom and top crust edges together to form a coil around the edge of the pie.


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Flute the edges by using a floured knife end and pushing the pie dough into the pinched fingers of your opposite hand


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Cut slits in the top of the pie dough to vent the pie


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Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar over the top of the pie crust and dot with butter. Bake in a preheated 400º oven for one hour or until golden brown and filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for an hour before cutting.





Serve plain, with whipped cream or ice cream for a fresh and tasty dessert.




Happy Traveling and Baking!



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Buttermilk Pie

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012






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(Don’t forget to comment to enter our newest giveaway for this heavy, heavy, marble and wooden rolling pin and package of a Made In Oklahoma mix to roll out! Winner will be announced Labor Day weekend.)


Hands Across The Water


Those of you who have been reading this blog over the past four years – yes, y’all! Four years! – know that I am a little crazy. Well, not certifiable, just nutty. Sometimes, I wonder if God wired my brain differently from other people so that it operates just a tad off-the-wall. It just seems that I look at my situations, circumstances and just plain life with the oddest revelations. I can’t just say, “Oh! Look! Fresh corn is on sale!” No. I have to ponder the price, calculate how many ears it will take to fill 50 wide-mouthed pint jars, and, though it’s June, immediately plan who I will be inviting to Thanksgiving dinner in order to determine if 50 wide-mouthed jars of corn can meet the yellow vegetable requirement on the menu! And a simple act of compassion in nature of taking in an orphaned raccoon to bottle feed until it is old enough to make it in the wild on its own, turns into an emergency room visit with a leg broken in five places and a doctor who doesn’t believe I wasn’t up in a tree with the raccoon. OK. So who does that anyway?


So, this past weekend, I made Mr. Fix-It a pretty, darned good buttermilk pie, if I do say so myself. And the kitchen smelled heavenly. If you haven’t ever had a Buttermilk Pie, you HAVE to try it! According to Wikipedia, it was originally a British desert that became a standard here in the deep south. Evidently, it offered a sweet alternative to fruit pies when fruit was out of season. However, Wikipedia also said that you just don’t hear about these pies anymore. I don’t know what they are talking about, because Buttermilk Pie is served in restaurants around here, and Texans claim that, of course, their’s is the best there is! There is a drastic difference between a Buttermilk Pie and a Chess Pie as there is no corn syrup or corn meal in a Buttermilk Pie, and individual cooks like to add their own touches of extra nutmeg and cinnamon, or cloves, lemon extract and rind, or other various flavorings to this versatile custard pie. Anyway, I’m guessing you won’t be surprised that as I made my pie, rolling out the pastry, beating the eggs and such, even though I had no clue that this was a British confection, my brain had a 1960′s British Invasion, and I couldn’t stop singing the Beatles’ Uncle Albert song. You know – “so I had a cup of tea and a butter pie (you have to pronounce it ‘buttah’); the butter wouldn’t melt so I put it in the pie”. And I’m STILL singing it. ~Sigh~ Parts of the tune are hauntingly beautiful and the lyrics are harmless enough, although those boys must have had way too much pie as they came up with that song – or maybe something else. Here, you can click on the song so that it will rattle around in YOUR head for a week.





Here is my recipe for Buttermilk Pie. It’s a pretty ancient one. I sure hope you enjoy it as much as Mr. Fix-It. And as you munch on it, just contemplate what a special man he is to patiently endure my crazier side!!


Buttermilk Pie



Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 9″ pie unbaked pie shell
variations: Add 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp ground cloves or
Add 1 tablespoon lemon extract and 1 tsp lemon zest


Print Recipe



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You can use any pie crust recipe. Of course, I use my recipe! I like my recipe because it has butter in it instead of just shortening. Flaky and buttery! Roll out your crust and place it in a 9″ pie tin. Of course, you CAN use a store bought pie crust..cough..cough.


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Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix further.


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In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs.


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Add the beaten eggs to the creamed butter and sugar mixture


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Add the buttermilk and vanilla


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Add the nutmeg. If you want to add cinnamon, cloves, more nutmeg or any other flavorings, you would do that here. Mix until well incorporated and creamy.


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Pour the creamy custard into the pie shell. Dust the top of the custard with cinnamon. Bake in a 425º oven for 15 minutes and turn down to 350º to continue baking for 30-40 more minutes or until top is golden brown and center is firm, not liquid. It will jiggle a bit but won’t be sloshy. The center will solidify as it cools. Chill and serve cold, but some people like it at room temperature.


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Serve with whipped cream and unhook your belt!!



Happy Baking and Singing – and

Singing!




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Warm Spiced Parsley Ginger Marinade!Yummy!!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012







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Marinated Beef KaBobs




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(Don’t forget to comment to enter our newest giveaway for this heavy, heavy, marble and wooden rolling pin and package of a Made In Oklahoma mix to roll out! Winner will be announced Labor Day weekend.)


I’ve been sitting here, patiently twiddling my thumbs, having dutifully turned off all computers and the water heater due to a power outage this afternoon, that occurred without warning. I called the power company to alert them that we are without electricity and the woman laughed at me! She did. I asked if she had any idea how long this outage would last, and again, she laughed. Did I sound that funny? Or maybe she heard the terror in my voice as I assumed that she was hinting to me that we would never have electricity again?


Mr. Fix-It isn’t here this afternoon and so I am totally on my own. I am like Mrs. Ingles on the prairie, only with two dogs and two cats instead of children. And you can’t eat your dogs and cats any more than you can eat your children!!! How will we survive? I have already assessed my stock of deydrated food stuffs, mentally preparing what could be on the menu for the evening meal. I still have two quart jars of my homemade beef jerky that I have managed to hide from Mr. Fix-It and lots of veggies. I have water in the Berkey to boil and pour in with the veggies and meat to make soup and figure that could last us a few weeks. But it just dawned on me that we are under a burn ban so there will be no fire to boil the water. And it is getting stuffy in here. Never mind that the 115 degree days have broken. It has been 88º outside and who can live in 88º without air conditioning? I mean, really? Well, that’s all there is to it. We are all going to die. I remember the nice man who came to talk to us about a generator. We had all chuckled that if we invested that much money into something, we would end up never needing it. That is how Murphy’s Law works, you know. We didn’t buy one. Now it is payback. No generator – no electricity. I can’t even get the car out of the garage because the door is electric and HEAVY and I haven’t competed with Olympic heavy-weight lifters in some time now. And I have no water! Ack. The well pump is not working. All I have is what is in the Berkey. I have to conserve and I feel like it’s been weeks since I had a drink of water. My tongue is sticking to the roof of my mouth. This is rough.


Oh wait. Never mind. The lights just came on. Yep! And water is coming out of the faucets. I’m tellin’ you. That was the longest ordeal! The electricity was off, like…let’s see…hmm…an hour and a half? Really? Huh. I thought it was weeks. You know, you just lose all track of time when you are having to rough it.


OK. So I’m being silly. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Fix-It is looking into a generator and I’m thinking this episode will give him a little extra boost toward that purchase! We lose electricity a lot in Oklahoma. And this has given more pause for thought on our water situation, as well. A hand pump would be a handy addition to our well system or a windmill with a tank. We’ll have to think about that too. We all need to be thinking about ways that we can live more sustainably without depending so much on outside forces. And trust me, two quarts of beef jerky won’t cut it!!


This kind of thinking always sends my tastebuds to grilling out. Unfortunately, we can’t do that right now. Too dangerous with a chance of a grass fire. But it hasn’t been that long ago that we weren’t under a burn ban and I tried a meat marinade that Mr. Fix-It found online that is just to die for. He said that he found it at American’s Test Kitchen. It is wonderful and unique and doesn’t take much time. Try this out. I promise that you that you will be hugging yourself and saying, “Who needs a Steak House??!”


So, here’s hoping that you have electricity all the days of your life…and that you will be well-prepared just in case you don’t!!


Warm-Spiced Parsley Marinade with Ginger
1/2 cup (packed) fresh parsley leaves
1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and chopped course
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped course
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/s cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

3 or 4 one inch to one and a half inch thick steaks, preferably New York Strip, Ribeye, Filets or Sirloin
Fresh pineapple chuncks
Large pieces green pepper
Large pieces sweet onion
or optional:
Whole mushrooms
Large pieces of parboiled new potatoes




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Place first 10 ingredients into a food processor or blender


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Process until all ingredients are well-blended and fine


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For Kabobs, trim all fat from steaks and cut into 1″ cubes. Sprinkle with tenderizer. Or, leave steaks whole and sprinkle with tenderizer.


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Place steaks or cubes into a container that has a tight lid and add marinade from the food processor. Seal with lid.


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Toss until all cubes or steaks are coated with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator, covered, from 4 up to 24 hours. I did mine overnight and until the next evening – probably 18 hours.


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For kabobs, on skewers, alternate meat with pineapple, sweet onions, green pepper or you can also add mushrooms and parboiled new potatoes.


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Place steaks or kabobs on a hot fire. Coals should be gray, glowing red. And these are now my instructions about how we cook a steak. Sear one side of the meat until browned and quickly turn to the other side. Immediately cover the grill with lid and allow steaks or kabobs to cook, undisturbed for 7 minutes for medium-well, 6 minutes for medium and 5 minutes for medium rare.


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Immediately remove steaks or kabobs to a platter and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.


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Serve immediately



Happy Grilling!



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The Reality of Fire

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012







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Fires Continue


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First off, don’t forget to comment to enter our newest giveaway for this heavy, heavy, marble and wooden rolling pin and package of a Made In Oklahoma mix to roll out! Winner will be announced Labor Day weekend.


As many of you have experienced yourselves, or have heard on television, Oklahoma, and its neighboring states, is experiencing severe drought. Our food prices are going to go up, I assure you. The corn crop is steadily worsening and that means higher meat prices this winter. We got a teasing of rain yesterday, but it was only just enough to remind us that we do have windshield wipers on the cars and that multiple 110º – 113º days basically disentegrates them to flopping, rubber, uselessness for rain.


Here, at the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ acreage, the drought has reminded us that crops can be the least of our worries. With dying cedar trees, grass that crunches and a lack of water, some traveler’s cigarette butt or heat from a car muffler can turn this land into a horror movie. Such was the case this last week. A little over six miles from us, on Thursday, a fire started that became a three day inferno of Hollywood proportions. Over 100 homes and buildings were burned and, tragically, one person was unable to leave their house in time to avoid the flames. Ash rained down on our area and smoke filled the air. Everyone held their breath that no ash was hot enough to travel and start a new fire this direction.


Firefighters from many Oklahoma towns converged on the Cleveland county fire, while battling other fires across the state as well. There have been plenty. Things like this have to remind us of what is important. It doesn’t matter how well you have planned and saved, it can all be gone in the blink of an eye. We have no guarantees that life will be smooth. But hearing the people talk who have lost their homes here is just such an inspiration. One man and his son had to make a dive into their pond to avoid being caught in the flames. Their home and buildings were destroyed. With a huge grin, showing sparkling, white teeth, the father simply thanked God and chuckled. He was grateful to be alive and felt that everything else could be replaced. Below, I just thought I’d give you a picture of what it looks like here right now. Not really all that pretty.


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This is some of our pastureland two weeks ago. You can imagine what the weeks of triple digit temps have done to it now!!


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The grass is dying and leaving bare spots. Very little green is left.


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The sumac trees that make for amazing Fall foliage are wilted and dying. I don’t think that they will make it to Fall.


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Even with Mr. Fix-It trying to keep everything watered, we are losing precious trees. This gargantuan Silver Maple is curling up. Mr. Fix-It is working hard to try to save it.


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Photo from News Channel 4 at KFOR.com



This is a picture of the fire nearest to the OPC™ digs.


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From KFOR.com



Another fired burned at the same time, north.


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From KROR.com



While other fires rage on in other parts of the state.


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I have discovered something in this hot-as-the-Sahara summer. Even with drought and all, periwinkles are miracle plants for the flower garden. I am now in love with periwinkles. It doesn’t matter if it’s 109º for a week in a row with just the bit of water that Mr. Fix-It can offer them to drink every so many days, the periwinkles seem to say, “Bring it on!! We’ll show you!!” and not only continue to bloom, but spread their foliage and blossoms in the meantime. I’m calling them my “drought flowers.” God has a way of giving us color and beauty within the desert to remind us that He is still in control!!!


If you would like to donate to help victims of these fires, you can do so at the Central Oklahoma Red Cross website.



Stay Safe!



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New Giveaway!!

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012







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Enter Now!


First on the agenda – there is a glitch here at the blog and I am very aware of it. In fact, I’m kind of overwhelmed by it. When I started writing way back in 2009, I was green as a gourd and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The blog is powered by WordPress.org and is quite different from Blogger and other sites. I have to write much of the blog in HTML and when I post pictures, there has to be a host site for the photos with accompanying HTML to assign a spot for each picture. I know now that I can host my own photos at my own FTP site, but am just now trying to figure out how to do that. Soooo, way back then, after figuring out that “hosting” didn’t have anything to do with my penchant for laying a table of edibles for a party, I put the first two years of blog post photos at a site called ImageHost.org. Well, Imagehost is no more. It is gone. Finis. Kaput. And with its demise, so go my photos hosted. I still have the photos, but now I am going to have to go back one post by one post to reload pictures and retype HTML. It is gonna take awhile because we are talking some 400 photos, but it will get done. I got the first 5 posts done last night. It was kinda fun going back that far and reading what I was doing. My, my. How far we have come!! Anyway, if there is a particular post that you are needing and the pictures are gone, email me and I will hop over to that post and get it fixed first.


Second order of business – it is high time for a giveaway!! And I am hoping you are REALLY gonna like this one. It will go until Labor Day and on that day, a winner’s name will be drawn. All you have to do is to leave a comment at any of the posts and your name and email address will be entered. The winner will receive this lovely marble rolling pin with stand, and a package of biscuit mix to roll out with the rolling pin!


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So start commenting! And you can enter as many times as you wish. Good luck to everybody!


Update: If you are having trouble posting, go to the very bottom of the post and click on the blue link that says, “Comments” with the number of comments in front of it. It appears that the link in the box is bad.

Happy Entering!



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