Sunday, September 22, 2013

Perilous Pasta

Have you ever made homemade pasta?

I read that it’s so easy. And once you try it you will never buy the dried stuff in the store again.

So, I was really excited to find this pasta roller at the thrift shop for $2.

And the recipe only called for like 3 ingredients. And I use organic flour and have the freshest eggs on the planet. So, what do I have to lose?

Part of the fun is mixing up the dough right on the board.

You make a well in the center. Then go find those fresh eggs!

Or use the ones in the fridge J

Break them right into the well in the flour. Add the olive oil.

Then stir to mix.


 I used my bench scraper, it made this much easier.

Once it comes together, roll it into a ball and flatten slightly into a disk.

Wrap it in plastic and chill.

Now this is when it all went wrong.

After I chilled the dough, I removed it from the fridge and sprinkled some flour down into my new pasta roller. Then I carefully divided my dough with my bench scraper and started to feed the pieces into the roller while cranking with the other hand.

Maybe I didn’t get enough flour down in there. Maybe I didn’t clamp it tight enough to the counter. But pasta rolling turned ugly!

The roller kept shifting. So I had to feed the dough, turn the crank and stop to grab the evil thing from time to time.

Then, I think the dough stuck. The sheets that came out of the roller seemed to have bubbles . The pictures I was seeing on the internet showed lovely sheets of smooth pasta coming out. Then they cut them with the bench scraper into perfect rectangles. Mine? Not so much.

By now I forgot all about the camera and blogging and was just trying to dig my way to something of sustenance that my family could eat for dinner. So I cut them into ugly, odd shaped sheets and set them aside to fill.

The results were actually not bad. I rolled the filling up in them and laid them side by side. By the time I completed the recipe, all the ugliness was covered by sauce and cheese. So much so, I remembered the camera.

All in all, it was actually kind of fun. My family loved the meal, so I will probably try this again. But I think I need more practice with that pasta roller!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Back to the barn
Trail riding around the pasture at Saddle Up Riding Club.

Saturday was the first class for the fall season. With highs in the 90’s, it seemed anything but fall. The front ring is not shaded, so temperatures are often several degrees higher. Still, there was a beautiful feeling as students arrived with their families. They greeted friends with high fives and shoulder hugs. Parents shared stories of the summer and first days of school. The horses lowered their heads to nuzzle the children. In return, they received hugs and pats and I saw at least one kiss on a velvet nose.

This place has breathed new life into my son. At age 12, and newly diagnosed with Asperger’s, he hated to be outside. He was a bit small for his age and very sensitive to sound, sunlight and anything touching him. At school, he hated recess! He could usually be found in the shade talking to the teachers or at a table reading a book. Participating in a game with other students often left him angry and sometimes in trouble. So he preferred to avoid it altogether.
Then came therapeutic horseback riding.
Kyle ready to ride.
The summer before we started, we were on vacation with my husband’s family. During a quiet time, I was sharing with a cousin how sad I was for Kyle. I told her about his struggles and how getting a diagnosis didn’t seem to be of much help. She suggested horseback riding.

How on earth could I afford a horse! I knew there were horses in our county, but could not imagine how much lessons would cost. She went on to say that there were programs for special kids that he may qualify for. So when I returned home, I did an internet search. Kyle started riding in October that year.

After a year of riding, Kyle had changed completely. I don’t think I realized how much until I paid a visit to the playground after lunch one day. There was my son, playing football, happily, by choice. I turned and went back into the building and watched through the glass. I didn’t want anyone to see my tears of joy and think something was wrong.

Now almost 3 years later, he loves to run. Even as a teenager, he loves to play chase games with younger kids. He goes to the gym to work out with his dad and run on the treadmills. I recently picked him up from a friend’s house covered in dirt from swinging on a rope swing and landing in a dirt pile. His meltdowns are not
gone altogether, but we can usually link them to a lack of sleep, extreme change in schedule or a poor diet choice. What is even better is that he usually figures them out himself.
Hercules and Kyle saying Hello.
Back to Saturday, Kyle’s horse greeted him in their usual way. It almost seems like a mutual benefit between Kyle and his horse, Hercules. As he licks Kyle’s hand, it helps him calm down. And who knows, maybe Hercules is benefitting from the salt on Kyle’s sweaty hand. Regardless, that horse will lick his hand until Kyle pulls it away.
While waiting to ride, there are other animals to visit. Pigs, a miniature horse, goats, rabbits, 2 turkeys and plenty of chickens. Families can also walk through the barn and visit the rest of the horses. Out in the back arena, there are more types of donkeys than I knew existed. They are new to the barn and very sweet.
A sweet little hen and her baby, who has also grown!

Our friend Gina on Danny Boy.
In spite of the heat, everyone was glad to be back. Since the arena was so hot, we trailed through the pasture instead. I was blessed to be the photographer for the day, so I walked along snapping pictures under the trees. The horses were excited and distracted by the grass. But it was a good day.
As the weather cools I know the sessions will be even more enjoyable. My handsome son is now taller than me.  I can’t wait to see what this year will bring.
Kyle on Hercules
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
To learn more about therapeutic horse back riding, please visit the link below:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering September 11

I can still remember sitting in our home office when my husband burst into the room. He had our cordless phone pushed to his ear and had a terrified look on his face. He looked at me, but addressed the person on the phone “They attacked the Pentagon?” Then he said to me, “Go turn on CNN!”  I jumped up and hurried to the living room and picked up the television remote.

Then I just sat there, staring at the remote in my hand. I didn’t know what station CNN was on. You see, I really don’t like watching the news. I especially loath world news or news reporting the state of our country. I avoided it whenever possible, so I really didn’t care what station CNN was on, until now.

Impatiently, my husband again instructed me to turn on the tv. I did, then asked him what station to turn it to. He looked shocked and took the remote from my hand.

The next few minutes are a blur. I remember crying in disbelief. I know I picked up my then almost 3 year old son and trying to hug him close. He only tolerated that for a few moments, then he wiggled to the ground to go play. I remember my husband pacing, cursing. We watched the towers fall again and again. He had been retired from the Coast Guard for only 3 years. I prayed he wouldn’t be recalled.

For the next week, it seemed that most of the people I talked to had been affected in one way or another. Most had lost acquaintances, a friend of a friend or simply a voice on the phone. So many companies had an office in the World Trade Center; every business I went to was shaken.

Others had lost loved ones; parents, brothers, sisters or other family members. For the first few days after people hardly spoke. We had actually been attacked on United States soil. Everyone feared more was coming.

 When our shocked subsided, our fierce determination took over. People became closer, neighbors more neighborly. Flags flew everywhere. We are Americans and are not going quietly into the night.


Fast forward to this morning, my wiggly tot is now almost 15. On our way to school we listen to our favorite Christian radio station. Instead of the usual contemporary Christian music, they played a timeline of events from 9/11/2001. I couldn’t help but let the tears fall. The broadcast was well done, but full of emotion and raw accuracy.

My son listened too, sending an occasional look of concern my way. Finally he said “I was about 2, right?” I nodded and we spent the rest of the drive in silence. Just yesterday, he had explained the situation in Syria to me in great detail. Today, he seemed to know that most words to describe 9/11 have all been said. Wow! My boy is nearly grown!

The rest of this day has been quite the emotional rollercoaster. Everything to launch my business seemed to fall in place. As I took each step I was filled with excitement. I found everything I needed to package my products, completed my photography, set up my online store and made my first local delivery to the feed store who has agreed to sell my products.

But each step was punctuated by reminders of the day we can never forget. The overgrown flag at the shopping center is at half-mast. More posts than I can count on Facebook, instructing me to “like” this post to show I haven’t forgotten. And beautifully written accounts of how some of my (very talented) friends remember the day. At each stop, the tears threaten again.

But life does go on. So I can’t feel guilty because this is a good day for me. But I do promise you this. I will never forget. We are so blessed to live in the Land of the Free, because of the brave.

God Bless America

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Homemade Dog Soap

The idea of washing my dog with a bar soap seemed strange to me. But when I discovered some recipes online, I had to try them out.

Of course, I was also inspired by these adorable little dishes I found at the thrift store.

The page I chose gives recipes for four different fragrances. I decided on the one called “Walk in the Woods”. I had all the ingredients on hand and the dog really needed a bath. So the timing seemed perfect.

I do have soap molds, but I decided to re purpose a single serve peanut butter container. It fit perfectly on the little paw print dish. If you look carefully, you might be able to read the brand name J

The recipe called for Castor oil, but I seem to be out. So I put in a bit of olive oil instead. I did have plenty of Shea butter. I used only 2 ounces of soap base, because I just wanted to make a single bar to try out.  I guessed at the amounts of the rest of the ingredients. I also added a couple drops of Neem oil. Mosquitoes have been extreme this year and it just might help with the fleas.

When I removed the bar from the mold, I showed it to my family. My husband smelled it and said “Nice, very manly”


“So you would use this?” I asked him. He said that he would and I broke up laughing! My son wrinkled his nose at it. But I thought it smelled nice too.

Now, time to test it out. I called Percy into the bathroom and filled the tub. He has really short hair, so I have a hard time getting it wet. He is a coon hound/ beagle mix we think, so the water just runs off his back. But I got it wet enough and started to rub the bar right on his coat. It worked much better than using liquid shampoo. I could rub it right into areas that I usually can’t get at. Rubbing the bar right on the wet fur causes it to suds up. I think it might be more successful on a different coat.

The next step was to see how it rinsed out. Again, surprisingly well. I was concerned that it would cling to his fur, but it washed out completely. It was also nice to see a few fleas wash away with the suds. And I love the idea of not using chemicals on my dog.

Another cool thing was that I used very little of the bar on my rather large dog. And remember, I only made a 2 ounce bar.

I will definitely make a full batch next time. It will be interesting to see how it lathers by using the Castor oil. I am thinking the olive oil may have subdued the suds a bit. I also used a melt and pour soap base. Eventually I plan on making my own from wood ashes and coconut oil.

 If you would like to try to make your own, the link to the original recipe is below:

I’m off to mop up puppy prints!