Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Calf Twins!

Ashley's Tech Project for RTCC was working with calves. Even though she's had a lot of experience showing heifer's at fairs and 4-H events, working with newborn calves was something she had never done before. She witnessed calves being born, and has had to get the calves up and attempt to feed them shortly after birth. This project helped her not only complete her program studies requirement, but it has also fulfilled part of a dream she has had to work with animals. The twin calves she brought to Open House tonight are less than a week old.
Above, Ashley is letting one of the twins suckle on her fingers until the fresh bottles of warm milk arrive from the farm. There was a growing crowd of interested people watching as she explained her project to them.

Above, the second calf isn't as interested in Ashley's fingers and is content to lay on the ground.

Isn't she cute? Look at the heart like patch of white on her head.

My Heart Bleeds for You!

I was thrilled to see my bleeding hearts getting ready to make their appearance when I took a rather brisk walk around the house to assess the progress of my flowers this afternoon. It's been cold here, had frost this morning, and saw white stuff falling from the sky off and on all day.

Not a lot of time to blog tonight, I'm headed to the open house at RTCC. My younger daughter brought a calf in and will be proud to show her off to all of the visitors. I'll take pictures and try to blog about the open house later tonight.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fond Memories with Mom & Grandma for Mother's Day

Mom & Dad on Vacation 2007

Every year my Mother would take my sister and I to the annual Mother's Day Banquet at our church. We always looked forward to the occasion so we could have a "girls outing" where we could dress up in fancy attire and feel like princesses. My Grandmother attended many of the occasions with us.

I never understood a Mother's love until I became a mother myself. Over the years I have gained a deeper appreciation for my Mother and everything she has done for me. Last year I surprised her with two dozen roses delivered right to her front door. She had never received a bouquet of roses before (not even from my father) and was so touched by the display that stood before her. Even though we are 1000 miles away from each other, we keep in touch every day via email so it doesn't feel as though we are that far away from each other.

My Maternal Grandmother and I have held a close connection. Perhaps it was because we share the same love for cooking, laughing, and creativity. Perhaps it was because she had been there through all of the momentous occasions in my life. Even so, I feel very blessed to still have my Grandmother around. Last year she went through major surgery at the ripe old age of 92 (now 93). We didn't think she would come through the surgery but she amazed everyone with her recovery. Several times we were sure she was going to lose her battle, but she never ceased to amaze us and the Doctors with her recovery. She has beat so many odds against her...she's got some real fight in her. Last month she became "Great Grandma" for the 25th time with a Great Grandson that will carry on the family name, FINALLY!

Grandma ~ December 2006
Taken at the restaurant where we last had lunch together.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cold and Rainy

Today it was back to reality as I returned to work after a week of vacation. We had such lovely weather last week and I'm glad we were able to get out and enjoy it while it lasted.

Back to reality with the weather, also. We're still not out of the woods for receiving more snow before summer gets here, but we also know that any snow we get now will disappear rather quickly. It has been raining heavily most of the afternoon. One of the bus routes at school had to be switched around this afternoon due to a road that had washed out.

For those of you who don't know... I would say about 90% of the roads in Vermont are DIRT and they call them GRAVEL roads.'s all relative I guess? In the rain they become slick grease pits.

In the spring we have a 5th season ~ Mud Season ~ as the frost comes out of the ground. It is not uncommon to find parts of cars stuck in the mud bogs on the road. And it takes some careful skill to maneuver through those mud bogs. If you stop, you are stuck and good luck from there! It takes a careful eye to judge whether you should stop before the bog if there is another car coming from the opposite direction. Not impossible for two cars to pass each other, just not wise or safe. When it rains heavily, and in our case still have snow melting in the higher elevations, water comes down the mountain and roads can wash out very quickly. You never know what is around the next corner.

Another reason why I really don't mind giving up the sanctuary of the country and living in town...on PAVED roads.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Check of the Flowers

I'm not going to apologize for a lot of posts about flowers. I am excited because I've not seen any color but white for a very long time.

The Rhododendron's made it through the winter in spite of the tremendous weight of snow and ice that fell off our roof this year. A few branches were casualties, but they sure are getting read to burst with color once again.

The Miniature Daffodil's that were included with the Crocus that I blogged about earlier this week are starting to smile at me.

And the Lilac is so full of blooms this year, a nice treat after NO blooms last year.

I'm amazed at the details I'm able to capture with this camera. With the Super Macro setting I'm seeing details on my flowers that are not visible to the naked eye. Incredibly amazing! I'm using a Canon Power Shot S3 IS, 6.0 mega pixels.

Latest Etsy Buys

I admire anyone who has conquered the art of tatting. A couple years ago I took some tatting classes and found the learning curve to be way too high for me. I wanted so desperately to learn the art, but I could never get the hang of it. I found this bookmark at Elizabeth's Lace. She has the most gorgeous tatted jewelry.

After All Designs is a fellow MIVEST member. I haven't had much chance to peruse every member's Etsy store. SO...when I spied these fabric cards on a Treasury yesterday I promptly hit 'BUY'. I happen to have some crafty family members that will appreciate these cards.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Busy Saturday at Spotted Cow Soaps

I've been busy filling my store in anticipation of Mother's Day.

The Inspiration Behind Spotted Cow Soaps

When I first started making soap, I came up with the name "Whee 3 Kuntry Girls". It had significance to me, but too much time was spent explaining every piece of my business name and its significance to others when they asked about it. When we moved to Vermont 5 years ago, I pretty much had to start my business from square one again. I did all right, but nothing spectacular to speak of. It was a roller coaster ride and eventually I shut down the business and kept things rolling as a hobbyist.

We live in a State where Dairy farming is widespread. I grew up with my grandfather being a very successful farmer and in the 1960's he received numerous awards and recognition for his farming achievements. Cows and farming seemed to have escaped a couple generations until we moved to Vermont. Our youngest daughter was bit by the Cow and Farming bug... as you can see, she is very much into Dairy Cows and 4-H.

The question came up if I could make a Cow Soap. I was up for the challenge and the Cow Soap was born. It was about the same time that I found Etsy, and after several weeks of brainstorming, my daughter suggested a business name that seemed to "stick"...Spotted Cow Soaps.

Thank You Anne-Marie from Brambleberry for posting such a sweet write up about our cow soap on your Blog.

Friday, April 25, 2008


We knew when we brought this guy into our home we were doomed. His real name is Snuggles, but he's ANYTHING but snuggly. He snuggles on HIS terms, the rest of the time he's our little mischief maker. If he decides it is time to snuggle, no matter how many times you put him down on the floor he will be right back pestering you. I can't begin to tell you how many times he would push our big black lab off her bed so he could take it over.

I have walked into a room and found him sitting on objects that were clearly not his domain. It's like he knows how to get under my skin and prove to me that "HE" rules this house. With the dog gone, the mischievious boy has taken full advantage of all the attention that comes his way. So perhaps SOME of his mischievious nature comes from being...spoiled? NAH!!!

This past winter we heated the house with a woodstove for the first time. All winter long we feared he was going to cook his brains from the inside out as his permanent residence was behind or under the woodstove. We had several months of not having to deal with a naughty cat and wondering what he's chosen to use as a "bed".

Now that we've had the nice warm spring air coming in, he begs for the windows to be opened AND He's up to his tricks again...

Turn my back long enough to gather the ingredients and look who has made a new home...Now if I could just teach him how to run the mixer and bake, we'd be golden!

NOTE: While I was putting this post together there were several (unsuccessful) attempts to evict me from the chair. He's sitting in the window sulking as I type.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Daily Check of the Lilacs

Oh, Happy Day! And the grass is getting greener every day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Banana Nut Bread

This afternoon I walked into my favorite little neighborhood store, which happens to be run by some of the BEST neighbors anyone could ever ask for. The store is very small, but they offer THE best deli meats; their hand cut and trimmed steaks are by far the best I've ever had. They recently remodeled the store to include a great salad bar. Their customer service is outstanding, and while their prices aren't always the cheapest, I don't mind patronizing my neighbor. Today they were about ready to throw away some very ripe bananas and jokingly one of the young men asked if I wanted them for a cheap price. Homemade banana bread...YES! I made no haste to get home so I could get to work in the kitchen. So my husband often reminds me ~ cooking is the OTHER use for our kitchen. LOL With both of the girls gone this week, I had two very willing and eager male taste testers that couldn't wait for the bread to cool down. I'm surprised you don't see the steam rolling out of the loaf of bread after I cut it and took a quick snap shot.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Everything Purple ~ A Happy Day!

What can I say? I LOVE my perennial flowers and they love me back. I can't help myself...each year they take my breath away and I have to preserve their beauty with memories. I never tire of my flowers.

The lilacs are bursting...

The crocus my husband gifted me 2 years ago for our 20th anniversary are smiling back at me...

And their tiny beauty is simply breathtaking!

Lavender Soap ~ Artisan Style

A couple weeks ago it seemed as though I had lost my soapmaking midas touch as I encountered one soaping blunder after the next. I am extremely pleased that my soapmaking midas touch has resurfaced and I've been churning out lots of great soaping goodness. This Artisan Lavender Soap is one of those great goodies.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Today is National Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day

Check out Home Baked Memories for a great recipe to make some Chocolate covered Cashews at home!

OR, you could run out to the store and buy some cashews that have already been covered in chocolate. :-) YUM!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vegetarian Pizza ~ a Yummy Treat!

I recently obtained a great Vegetarian Pizza recipe from a colleague that has had to change his diet for health reasons. I've become accustomed to having an open mind with Vegetarian dishes as a means to gather great recipes and meal components to offer students at my school who are Vegetarian. As it is, I could become a vegetarian in the summer when the garden starts producing fresh veggies. This recipe is so easy, tastes out of this world, and is good for you. I guess at the amount of veggies, it is based on personal preference and taste. You could easily add or substitute veggies that you enjoy eating.

Boboli Crust
Garlic Hummus (you can make your own if you wish)
Fire Roasted Onions & Peppers, thawed (or you can use fresh if you prefer)
Frozen Broccoli, rinsed to thaw, then chopped
Low-Fat Mozzarella Cheese

Spread Hummus over Crust, top with Veggies, then Cheese. Bake 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and veggies warmed through. With this pizza I don't miss the meat or huge amounts of sodium that comes with the meat. If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it.

Flowers Showing Their Faces

Friday when I came home from work it was simply gorgeous outside. The snow piles quickly disappearing except for what was at the front of the house. Gazing down at the pile of snow that stood 2 1/2 feet high at the front of the flower bed, and nearly 4 feet high closer to the house, I feared my early spring flowers would die before the snow melted. I quickly took a shovel and started digging out my flowers. They knew it was time to come up, but the snow melt wasn't cooperating. If I hadn't uncovered them I'm afraid they would have withered with rot and we wouldn't have seen them this year. Amazingly, I awakened this morning to find the flowers poking purple at me. Just a glimpse. This afternoon they are in full bloom.

As for the remaining snow piled up closer to the house...we can only hope it melts before too much longer. I'm not shoveling any more! With the warmer air the past couple days it has gone down substantially, so there is hope! The snow closest to the house was just under the brackets for the plant holders that are attached to the house on Friday you can see, this afternoon the pile has been greatly reduced in size.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Potato Salad on my Plate

There's nothing like a good old fashioned picnic. One of my favorite picnic foods is Potato Salad. Not your ordinary Potato Salad with Egg and mayonnaise. While I enjoy eating Potato Salad made that way, my favorite Potato Salad heralds from my Paternal Grandmother that immigrated to the United States when my father was 11 years old.

My father was 2 years of age when his parents fled their homeland of Latvia after the Soviet Union took control of their country. They left behind 2 much older sisters that had married Soviet officials and had families of their own. For the next 9 years they lived in the sub-standard conditions of DP (Displaced Persons) Camps in Germany. A third sister, 16 years older than my father and closest in age, immigrated to the US about the same time.

My Grandmother passed away when I was a mere 7 years old. I have no recollection of ever cooking with her, but I do have fond recollections of sitting in large Daisy patches watching her pick the daisies, then twist the stems to make Daisy Crowns. When the crowns were finished, she would place one on my head and tell me I was a Princess.

I am fortunate in that I had a wonderful Aunt who preserved my Grandmother's recipes and passed them down to the rest of us. I don't know as though this is traditional Latvian style Potato Salad, but we've called it that since I was old enough to know what potatoes were. I find this Potato Salad to be very refreshing on a hot summer day. Not heavy like the ones made with mayonnaise.

Latvian Potato Salad
5 Pounds of Red Potatoes
1 Large Onion
1 jar Polish Dill Pickle Spears
1 Container Sour Cream
Fresh Dill

~ Boil Potatoes until tender, drain and chill overnight. Peeling off skins is optional. Cube Potatoes and put in Mixing Bowl.
~Diced Onion Fine and Add to Mixing Bowl.
~Reserve Juice from Pickles...Chop Pickles (entire jar) Add Pickles to Mixing Bowl.
~Finely Chop Fresh Dill (about 1-2 Tbsp.) and add to Mixing Bowl.
~Add Sour Cream to Mixing Bowl and begin mixing ingredients. Add some of the reserved Pickle Juice to loosen up the sour cream to make it easier to incorporate. I find that most of the time I end up using all of the juice, depending on the thickness of the sour cream.

Cover and chill several hours, toss before serving.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Yummy, Yummy Ice Cream!

All of the sunshine and warmer weather we've been having has renewed my ice cream cravings. I followed the Nutrition Advice from Anne-Marie's Father, and indulged all weekend long! All this ice cream inspired me to create some Neopolitan Spa Wash Cloths.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Summer Luau Party Candles

I was awakened early this morning to a loud crack of thunder. I didn't mind, I love a good thunderstorm. It was a welcome sound that has been missing for quite a few months around here.

The day has turned into a rather nice one. The sun pops out from time to time, the temps rising and I couldn't resist pouring some candles today. I was so excited when I found these candle holders earlier this week. They have LUAU written all over them so it seemed appropriate to fill them with a tropical fragrance. Can't you just see a nice summer evening party with these Summer Luau Party Candles strategically placed around for ambiance? Way cool!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Infested by Potholes

It's a Statewide epidemic this year. Potholes are everywhere...small, big, and some large enough to lose a village in. No fault of the road crews, the winter weather was no match for asphalt and concrete. All of these potholes brought me back to warmer days last summer when a road nearby encountered a really bad case of potholes. Someone with genius skills and ideas brought attention to the problem which we found to be quite humorous.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It's melting....

Yeah!!! I was so excited when I pulled in my drive this afternoon and (gasp) saw the wooden border for my perennial flower beds! They only stand about 6 inches high, but we haven't seen them since...November, December??? The massive doses of sunshine and warmer air this week has greatly reduced the amount of snow we have in our yard. Admittedly, we still have a great deal of snow in our yard but every day we are seeing more of the yard and less of the snow. YEAH!!!! I didn't have time to snap a photo so you'll just have to trust me on this one..I was too busy taking in every last waking moment of the sun and warm air while it was there to be enjoyed.

Our grill has been working double overtime every day since last weekend. We never tire of grilled food around our Rachael Ray would say it...YUM-O!!! Tonight we had BBQ Ribs that were to die for. OK, they could have been tough as a buzzard and we wouldn't have cared! LOL

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sweet Serenity...Tranquility and Relaxation presented to you in a Luxury Bar of Soap Heaven

You have had a very hectic day and you are in need of some relaxation. You draw up a nice hot tub of water, light some candles and turn on some music then reach for your bar of Sweet Serenity Soap. You take a sniff...transforming your frazzled mind into a bit of tranquility as you enjoy a bit of french lavender, a spot of vanilla, and a touch of musk. All of the frustrations of the day are quickly washed away with Sweet Serenity Soap. You leave the tub refreshed and relaxed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

GREEN Mountains...

For far too many days/weeks/months we have been seeing an awful lot of white and not very much GREEN in our landscape. Today is such a bright, beautiful day. I was glad my job took me on the road for the day so I could enjoy this wonderful SUNSHINE today! When I returned home, my younger daughter needed me to take photos for her upcoming tech project presentation. We headed up Randolph Center to Neighborly Farms, an organic farmstead cheese operation owned and operated by very dear and close friends of ours. I was walking around looking at all of the new calves that have been born, and stopped in my tracks when I noticed something that got me all excited...

WOO HOOO!!!! Is that, yes, it looks to me like it is.....GREEEEEEEN!!!! I'm afraid in all of my excitement that the photo might not be as clear as it could have been, but I didn't care!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Brabec Bulletin Anyone?

Have you read the April 2008 Issue of The Brabec Bulletin? For a several years now I have admired Barbara Barbec's enthusiasm, humor and insight into small business. She is a "home-business pioneer, industry leader and professional speaker since 1971"(quote taken from her website). I look forward to Barbara's regular email updates. This month she has written about "Looking at Your Life in an Exciting New Way". If you are wondering how to take your business to the next level, you are sure to benefit from Barbara's insight and wisdom that is spoken from personal experience. It helped me to take a look at my business with a renewed perspective. On Barbara Brabec's World you will find home business advice, craft marketing ideas, Life Lessons, and more. Barbara lost her husband in February 2005 and has a series of uplifting articles for widows and anyone who has or will soon lose a loved one.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mud Season Madness

Today I opted to stick with easier tasks than to create big messes like yesterday...more on that in a minute. I had so much fun creating this basket. Crocheting is a relaxing activity for me in the evenings and on the weekends. I finished this basket a while ago, just needed to stiffen her up with starch. Successfully starched, she has been placed in my Etsy Store to find a new home.

A couple weeks ago when I was teaching soap making to a young lady from RTCC there was an attempt to force soap through a volcano stage in the oven and it failed. Well, last night I don't know what the heck was going on, but I had a serious volcano episode take place right in a mold at room temperature! I was standing at the stove melting another batch of oils for the second batch of soap when I heard the lid from the soap mold hit the floor, followed by plop...plop plop...river of soap going everywhere. I quickly grabbed some disposable gloves, the pan that the soap was mixed in, picked up the mold and poured the volcano mess back into the pan and stirred like crazy before popping it into the oven to finish taming the beast so I could get it BACK into the mold. Then I had the task of cleaning up the mess before my nosey cat decided to investigate the situation...or my husband discovering my ooops and freaking out on me. What a mess! The good news is, the floor is very clean where the volcano soap sat...I'm just glad it didn't EAT my tile, as the lye was still active.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Recent Etsy Buys

First on the list ~~~ Veggie Folk - Carrot~~~ Purchased from Gobbledygook Creature Decor. The entire purchasing experience has been pleasurable. You really must read the product description on their store. Package was addressed "The Wonderful..." Anyone that calls me wonderful on a package is all right in my book! The picture on their website does not show the full character and charisma this carrot has to offer.

Next on the list ~~~ Car and road set~~~ Purchased from GREEN MOUNTAIN WEE WOOLIES. An outstanding gift to present my cousin and his wife on the birth of their first child! No worries about lead and garbage...just pure 100% natural products handcrafted right here in our wonderful state of Vermont and by one of my fellow MIVEST members! Can't WAIT for this one to arrive so I can paw all over it before sending it along to the recipient.

Happy Spring???

More like the never ending winter! Seems when we have a warm day to melt everything down, we end up with a day or two of cold and snow afterwards.

Winter will not relinquish its hold in Central Vermont this year!