12600 Pelican Beach Road, Merrifiled, MN (218) 851-1937
Food, Healthy Eating, Living Naturally

Lavender Lemon Fritzer Fermented Beverage, two wonderful combinations to calm your day and refreshen the toxins in your body! Lavender not only is one of my favorite essential oils but as an herb in my cooking it really is a whole new world!

I like the idea of this recipe being a fermented beverage already to drink as an herbal fermentation is such a healthy alternative to any soda! If you like bubbly you will want to ferment a little longer, but if not, refrigerate after just a couple of days.

Ingredients:

  • 7 1/2 cups of filtered, boiled water
  • 1/2 cup raw/local honey
  • 1 tbsp. white vintager
  • 4 tbsp. of fresh or dried Lavender Flowers
  • 1 organic fresh lemon sliced into 1/2″ rounds

Directions:

  1. Combine above ingredients into a large gallon mason jar.
  2. Secure lid and shake until honey is well dissolved.
  3. Place on counter, cover and ferment for 2 days.
  4. Strain out lavender and lemons using a strainer or cheesecloth.
  5. Transfer into glass flip top bottles leaving 1/2″ head room at top.
  6. Set bottles in a cool, dark place for 3 days.
  7. Open one bottle and taste to see if you have the carbonation you desire. If no carbonation, secure top and taste daily until you get your carbonation.
  8. Once you have the carbonation fizz you like, transfer bottles to your refrigerator to stop the fermentation.

Note:

If you see mold forming at the top of your liquid this is normal during the fermentation process. Called surface mold. Just scrap away removing and continue your process.

Enjoy every sip of your healthy flavorful herbal beverage!

Love deeper, talk sweeter, eat and drink healthier,

Lee

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Food, Health, Healthy Eating, Living Naturally

Elderflower Simple Syrup Delightful Summer Beverage is at the top of our beverage! Why? Mainly because the flavor bursts with summer freshness and the hint of lemon adds to each sip.

This recipe is super simple and once you have this bottle of goodness you can add it to any club soda, or kombucha secondary fermenting process or any beverage you love…even lemonade or water bottle!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 cup fresh Elder Flowers, 1/2 cup dried
  • zest of one lemon or 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. cardamon pods, crushed

Directions:

  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil.
  2. Add elder flower, lemon, and cardamon pods and stir lightly.
  3. Infuse for 20-30 minutes on simmer.
  4. Strain in a cheese cloth or strainer.
  5. Pour into a flip top bottle, and store in a refrigerator for up to 2 months.
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Ministry, Ranch Life, Ranch Life, The Boys

Honoring our blue is indeed something they surely need. Dan and I prayerfully added a once-a-month day for the Blue and their families to enjoy the ranch and most important…each other!

Tilly enjoys her first paint time.
How we decided

Most of the time when we work together one of us comes up with an idea drawn from what is happening in our community and the surrounding world. It was without question when all the trauma the law enforcement officers were facing and continued to face we knew not only they personally were suffering but their families as well. Adding a once a month event just for them was an honor and our first one touched us all!

What we served

Keeping the meal simply because when there are kids involved, food really isn’t all that big a deal. We served sloppy joe’s, bacon beans, chips in a bag, BLUEberry lemonade, and for a treat, root beer floats. We fit in as much blue as we could in the deco and serving dishes as we could making it extra special by giving each child, spouse, and officer a goodie bag. The bag included special goodies they would enjoy like chocolate for the wives, candy for the kids, and the officers received a chuck full of needs for a busy day on the streets. From granola bars, gum, and bandages to a lollipop and Kleenex. One goodie bag was a poem just for them!

chuckwagon serving table

FUN begins…

The games we provided are ones we also use for our Harvest Hoedown, but we added the Ax throwing because we just know our officers…they love completion and the thrill of hitting a target! We also included horseshoe of course and our TICK tac Mosquito game along with calf roping and time with the bunnies. Painting on the horses was a highlight and even branding on leather. The fire risk was in the RED so we couldn’t do our usual branding in the fire pit so we improvised. They loved it!

RIDING is always included and the one thing all kids love to do. We show them the games to build the relationship with the horse they choose and when they are ready they saddle up and ride.

It’s always a joy to see the smiles and hear the laughter, especially for our BLUE 6 families. We love our BLUE!

Honor your blue and don’t forget to say THANK YOU. They serve us well!

Love deeper, talk sweeter, Lee

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Food, Health, Healthy Eating, Living Naturally, Ranch Life

Botanical Beverages using fruits and herbs will be a smash at any party! Not only is it good for you, but incredibly tasty too!

I find using fresh herbs in a beverage to not only make me feel healthy but absolutely more refreshing to the pallet! WOW! I love doing this and mixing it up a bit with using different herbs, bubble spritz either club soda or Kombucha even tea, and yes some people do add alcohol but we don’t. That to me would defeat the purpose of health as well as just not our style.

Try it anyway you like…and let me know of some other creations you came up with!

Some suggestions: Add lime, pink grapefruit, mint, blood orange, raspberries

Ingredients: Makes one

  • cup of strawberries
  • 2 large fresh basil leaves
  • 1 oz honey syrup (see below)
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz club soda or kombucha or green tea
  • ice
  • garnish ideas, strawberries and or basil sprig

Directions:

Combine the first 4 ingredients into a shaker. Muddle gently together just so berries are crushed. Over muddling will make the herb bitter. Add your soda and fill the shaker with ice. Shake until nice and cold. Double strain into a glass full of ice and garnish.

Isn’t it pretty? These make great holiday beverages .

Honey Syrup

1 c water and 1 c honey

Warm water in a saucepan, remove from heat and add honey. stir to dissolve and cool. Store in refrigerator for one month.

Fresh Watermelon Cucumber Mint

Ingredients:
  • Half large watermelon, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2-3 cups fresh water
  • 1/2 cup organic pure cane sugar
  • juice of one organic lemon, and zest
Directions:
  1. Combine the water and sugar in a small pot and boil on medium-high heat, whisking until sugar is fully dissolved.
  2. Remove sugar mixture from heat and add mint leaves to hot mixture and let everything steep for 20-30 minutes, covered with a pot cover.
  3. Once infused, add it to the blender along with the sliced watermelons, cucumber, and blend for about 2 minutes, at low speed. You may need to split the mixture if the blender gets too full.
  4. add in lemon and zest and blend for another 30 seconds. Strain juice into your prepared pitcher or mason jars.
  5. Chill juice in refried for 2 hours, serve over ice, and top with fresh mint leaves.

Enjoy all your creations and keeping healthy and hydrated!

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

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Food, Grillin' One, Ranch Life

Homemade Angel Food Cake For A Special Angel’s Second Chance At Life Indeed Will Be One Tearful Birthday!

On November 1, 2020, we faced a day of excitement and fear all within just hours of one another. Mitch received a new liver which we all have been waiting for for over a year and because it was his second transplant the surgery had become difficult, complicating, and very unsure if he would pull through. Intense bleeding of over 40 liters was lots in the first 2 hours.

To say the least, this birthday will be a celebration of second chances! Mitch is now 26. WOW! What a life this young man has had and for sure a testimony to the faithfulness and worthy of Praise to an amazing Jesus! SO VERY THANKFUL!

He loves to cook and so does dad! (first liver came from) The boys get to work making a special meal, Beef Wellington, and his favorite cake…Angel Food homemade of course. One the best fro trials he faced!

Homemade Angel Food Cake

Ingredients:

1-1/4 cup egg whites, I used the liquid, or separate 9 eggs

1-1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 cup cake flour

1-1/4 tbsp cream of tarter

1 tsp pure vanilla

1/4 tsp lemon juice, juice 1/2 lemon (save rest for frosting)

1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Place egg whites in a large stand-up mixer bowl; let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. Sift 1/2 cup sugar and flour together, twice; set aside.
  2. Place oven rack in the lowest position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add cream of tartar, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt to egg whites; beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. gradually fold in flour mixture with a spatula, about a 1/2 cup at a time.
  3. Gently spoon into an uncreased 10″ tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake until lightly browned and the entire top appears dry, 35-40 minutes. Immediately invert pan (upside down on its legs); cool completely, about an hour.
  4. Run a knife around the side and center tube of the pan. Remove cake to a serving plate.

Frosting:

4 cups powdered sugar

2 sticks softened salted butter

1/2 squeezed lemon juice and zest

4-5 tbsp. half and half (or heavy cream is yummier)

Beat in stand-up mixer powdered sugar and butter until creamy. Add lemon juice and zest keep beating. Add half and half or cream. Beat until nice and smooth.

The Main Course!

The boys went to work on the Beef Wellington. Neither one has ever made this before so it was quite the sight to watch as they worked together to make this special meal.

Preparing the mushrooms, garlic, and onions cut ever so finally and saute’ in butter until a nice brown and translucent color. The kitchen smelled divine!

Next step give this precious meat a little rub down with mustard and salt and pepper!

This was a 2lb cut…would recommend 1.5!

Now for the hard part, wrapping the meat with crepes and pastry crust. A little tricky…but it looks beautiful already!

The hardest part was the wait…BUT ohhhh so worth it!

Just melts in your mouth!

Served with garlic mashed potatoes, spinach salad, fluffy biscuit, and a little sauce Mitch whipped up to pour over the meat…this meal was indeed a treat! Dan loves his meat rear the rest of us Dan popped back in for a few more minutes to medium. Truly, melted in our mouths! The pastry around the meat was so crispy and flaky. Amazing meal for sure!

A second chance…

This day could have been a whole different day. Thinking back to how close Mitch’s life here on earth could have been cut short but instead, the Lord provided this day to happen! A second chance to celebrate another birthday, to live every day in joy, and to bring glory to our Lord Jesus Christ! May all of us live like we have a second chance because when we choose to submit to Christ and call Him Lord over our lives we are given the best second chance ever…eternal life forever with Jesus and enjoying a meal HE has prepared for us. Now that IS amazing! Enjoy your second chance day…A blessed Easter to you all!

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Food, Ranch Life, Treats

Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies without All the Ads and fuss! I love baking up fresh crispy cookies for my man without having to go through a bunch of blogging ads. I put together this recipe in a combination of trial and error and this… by far… is the best!

I think you will find this recipe a delightful and easy one to follow. KEY…all ingredients need to be at room temperature so planning ahead is needed. It really is what makes this cookie so yummy and flavorful for even days afterward. (if they last that long) PLUS…don’t you love when you are looking to start a recipe you don’t have to deal with a bunch of ads! Geeeez…one thing I love about our blog…the ads are your choice to click on! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla (homemade is best…mason jar full whiskey with 2 vanilla beans steeped 4 wks)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. milk (any kind)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand-up mixer, mix butter, sugar, and molasses until creamy with whipped attachment.
  3. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat again keeping it creamy. Now switch to the paddle attachment.
  4. Mix in a small bowl, flour, soda, and salt.
  5. Slowly add flour mixture into the creamy mixture until all is combined.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips.
  7. Place 1 tsp. of dough onto a cookie sheet at 2″ apart and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate sheet halfway in the cooking process. I only do one sheet at a time for best crispiness.
  8. Let cookies cool for 15 minutes before using a spatula to move them to the cooling rack.
  9. Repeat for each batch and enjoy many nibbles along the way!

Trying not to eat the cookie dough while you wait….SOOO hard!

The crispy thin taste is out of this world!

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

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Crafts, Ministry, Ranch Life

Playing with the New Mug Press and the Dos and Don’ts has been SO much fun! Experimenting with all the Design Space ideas and of course implementing our own has given us amazing results.

Getting Right Materials Ready

Infusible ink is what makes this mug or cup turn out so beautiful. For now, Cricut has the products and even has special infusible ink sized to the mugs they sell. (which you can also get here for less) I did get the joy infusible ink which is I believe the same size as the one they have for the mugs. Nevertheless, it worked. I also bought a few other prints which you can see below. The mug press can fit 11oz and 15 oz mugs, mason jars, and camp mugs.

All must be sublimation products to hold the inks and if you do the mason jars, get heat resistant gloves!

Working with the infusible markers is a first for me. We wish there was a cheaper way of doing this but for now, I haven’t found any other product because once again the infusible ink is what makes this all work so well. I started with a small set of markers for the first tries. (wish I just went for it and got the bigger set) As you can see it came out light. (above) WHY? Because we didn’t put 3 layers of butcher paper or the paper Cricut has packaged with the infusible inks behind the image. We only put one. For the “Live like” mugs, we used a black marker to color in. The one above was just an outline using the black pen ink, you can hardly see the words. Isn’t the agate look cool? For our ranch, this will be popular I think! But, they are clearance right now. Yikes! Oh well, there are MANY other fun designs they provide!

Markers Using Outline PLUS Bonus

By far this will be our biggest HIT! Cricut design space has many online images we can use plus add our own touches like bible verses or cowboy sayings. Make sure to add 3 layers of butcher paper to the back before pressing. You don’t have to do it with the infusible transfer sheets, but for the markers, you HAVE to do it or it will turn out lighter and the ink could get onto your mug press.

ANOTHER BONUS…you can do the outline on your LASER PAPER, NOT COPY paper, ahead and color in later. We tried this as we want to prepare the projects ahead for the kids arriving at sessions and just have them do the coloring and pressing during their session. This was HUGE for us the black ink pen held for a few days!

Laser vs copy

CAN YOU TELL?

DOS AND DON’TS

If you are going to do a lot of coloring, I would recommend investing in the set of markers. The black pen and marker are both a must. The pen does the outlining and the marker does bold printing or coloring. Make sure you cut extra mug designs with butcher paper or laser copy paper to prevent bleeding and get bolder colors. Use laser copy paper, not copy paper to also get the best effects.

Have A Blast!

Enjoy creating and experimenting…crafting is really awesome for our mental health that’s for sure!

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Crafts

No Way…Make Your Own Professional Mugs Using the New Cricut Mug Press

Cricut showed up live on Facebook announcing their new product which is SO awesome! For our ministry, this is just what we were looking into to put our logo on for folks to purchase, and am SO excited that it is safe too SOOOO kids can make their own special gift!

It is available on March 11, 2021. If you purchase through our blog, you get not only a fun gift idea to be creative yourself with BUT you also help our ministry!

If you’re considering a purchase, please log into the blog here and click on the Cricut link…and shop away! Just look at what it can do!

LOVE how it is automatic shut off and cold to the touch!

The safety of this product is amazing! Thank you, Cricut for making crafting so much fun!

March 11th can’t come fast enough!

UPDATE!

Playing with this product is awesome! I will post a separate post but for now…look at what fun we have had! We are trying to make designs fitting for our ministry for the kids to make their own during their session. So the outline look took priority and playing with the markers, laser paper FOR SURE not copy paper, and markers vs. pens…all fun all different not flops yet! Check out the post here.

One side has horse the other words of hope!
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Food, Health, Healthy Eating, Living Naturally, Ranch Life

Mom’s Favorite Homemade Bread Recipe A For Sure Winner Every Time You Make it!

My mom would make 6 loaves of fresh bread EVERY DAY! Can you just imagine? I don’t have too many memories of my mom as she died when I was super young but I do remember the aroma of our home always smells like fresh bread! I also remember the counter being full of those beautiful golden loaves ready to sink our mouths into.

Generation picture, My mom, daughter Mackinzey, and Me

Sure Thing Recipe

This recipe is a sure fit every time I make it. If I allow for the 5-minute kneed time and check the consistency of the bread while doing so, it turns out beautiful. I feel the key to homemade bread making is giving it time, don’t be in a rush, and little to no distractions is always a plus.

I hope you find it just as simple and enjoy the art of living life simply and full of being OLD FASHIONED!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups warm water, 105-110 degrees
  • 1 Tbsp. Active Dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup Organic Sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4-5 cups of flour

Directions:

Prepare the Dough

  1. In a stand-up mixer or large bowl, add yeast and water and a pinch of sugar. Let stand for 4-5 minutes to see if yeast is bubbling. (this is called proofing the yeast to make sure it is active. If it doesn’t bubble then you need new yeast and start over)
  2. Add remaining sugar, oil, and start mixer on low with the paddle attachment. Slowly add 1 cup at a time of flour mixing well. After 4 cups have been added, switch to kneading attachment and add flour 1/4 cup at a time to get the consistency of elasticity and smoothness. You may not need the last cup and you may need more. When the dough cleans the bowl your dough is ready to be kneaded.
  3. On the knead attachment or if you don’t have a mixer, place your dough on a floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes.
  4. Put a little oil in the bowl and allow the dough to be totally covered in the oil. Cover bowl with BPA-free plastic wrap, or a warm tea towel and let rise for 1 1/2 hour to at least double the size.
  5. Spray 2 9x 5 loaf glass pans you can also flour the pans too. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  6. The second rise, punch down the dough and split in half placing them into your prepared loaf pans. Cover again using BPA-free plastic wrap, spraying the tops so you don’t have stickiness. Let rise for an hour in a warm place. When they are done rising, they should be about an inch above the pans.
  7. Gently remove plastic wrap and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
  8. My mom used to tap the top and if it was hollow it was done.
  9. Allow the loaves to cool by inverting them on a cooling rack for 4-5 minutes.

I hope your bread turns out as wonderful! If not, try again!

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

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Food, Ranch Life

Classy Potato Gratin Dish That Is Quick, Easy, and A Family Favorite!

Don’t you just love a nice side for any good meal. Especially when you don’t have a ton of time to make something? I sure do! Here is a great side even make ahead if you like. Simple too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tbsp. Finlandia butter softened
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz Finlandia Swiss cheese or aged Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp fresh nutmeg
  • 1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
  • Finely chopped fresh chives, dill, or basil for garnish
Every Bite Delicious!

Ready to POP into the oven!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the potatoes about 1/8inch or less, using a mandolin slicer or sharp knife.
  2. Rub bottom and sides of 8×8 baking dish with softened butter, then place a single layer of the potatoes on the bottom. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and then with a scant layer of grated cheese. Repeat until used all the potatoes.
  3. Pour heavy cream over the potatoes, then use your fingers to gently press out any air pockets. Freshly grate nutmeg over the top then cover with panic breadcrumbs.
  4. Bake for about an hour or longer until the top is golden brown and a knife can be easily inserted in the center, indicating that no raw pieces of pat remain.
  5. Allow cooling for 5 minutes then serve with chives garnish.
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Crafts, Paper/Cards, Ranch Life

Big Pick Up Tailgate Stamp Set Adorable and Fun And So Versatile!

Anyone who loves to stamp will adore this set! WHY? Mostly for all the creative ways this truck can be used. For any greeting card to invitations, this set will bring much joy to any stamper. The Big Pick Up Tailgate is from Honey Bee stamps. They have adorable sets that fit our country life!

Another reason I love this set so much is I can use my Cricut Maker to add my greetings using pens, bling it up using vinyl, and even have my Cricut Maker draw and cut flowers in bunches. I tell ya, I had one fun day creating these along with my daughter who LOVES trucks! Having the Design Space makes your crafting so versatile! You have access to so many fonts and many ideas to inspire your art. Really a simple investment.

Daisy Truck

For this card I created a background border with an embossing flower dies on my Big Shot. Powder blue and grays for the card stock, and Pastel Gelatos with a watercolor pen to apply to the truck. I used an old Stamping’ Up set, Daisy, and stamped it on the jean background paper. Wood would be cute too. I just ran out. If you’re a country girl like me, you will love that grouping of paper! A corduroy button for the center and the leaf I got off the Cricut Design Space. I also used the pen to make the words. If you like brights for pens check these out! Their new and add any POP to any card or project!

Flower Bunches

This one was fun as I got to use my Cricut again to make the flowers than my Bright Gelatos for the watercolor. Sticking with the gray and white but adding a pop of yellow helped me tie in the spring look I was going for. The words again are in Design Space. Isn’t this little truck just a cutie?

Hello Blue!

The daughter loves her blue so of course, she tried her hand at using the Tri-Blend markers for her watercolor technique. She was able to do her fading and washout style which turned out pretty cute. The trees are from Stampin’ up too. When using these markers you have to use the Memento pad to prevent bleeding. Easy to clean too.

U R Loved

Another one of Kinzey’s cards. She used glitter vinyl this time for the words and wood grain background paper. Around here we have to have wood grain paper…it’s just our thing! The flowers again we got from Design Space plugging in solid cut-out flowers for cards. Quick and easy using up old scraps of paper. Notice how she did the bumper…she used the bottom of the background paper for a “running board” with running horses. LOVE IT! If you like country western theme scrapbooks and or any crafting for that matter, this site has great stuff!

Stay Humble

Bring on watercolor again using the Gelatos. Found this pen and cut it on Design Space so it was a perfect fit for the red truck. Again adding texture with the woodgrain paper and flower die cut. Pop with the red checkered ribbon.

SUPER fun set I am sure you will not be disappointed having this in your collection!

ENJOY crafting and giving the gift of love,

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

COMMENTS:

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Bible Journaling, Crafts, Hope, Ministry, Ranch Life

Pray Your Heart Out was my Devo today…and it’s never been so true!

As many of my readers know we have battled many trials in the past few years. From mental illness with my hubby’s breakdown, our daughter leaving one job far from home to transitioning back to her home state, and lately our son who just got his second liver transplant. Battles that were not easy but sure grew each of us!

His Word Burns in my Heart like a Fire.

Jeremiah 20:9

Prayer has been the sustainer! My HOPE in these times and yes, many days and nights have been praying my heart out. I often will write my heart to the Lord in my journal as I can look back and see what the Lord has done in my weakest of moments. Makes me cry… really! Our Lord is so gracious!

Praying…What it Looks Like

This is the best part of prayer…there is no WAY it has to look! When you have a relationship with the Savior He just wants to hear from you. He does indeed want a heart that is humble, attentive, and gracious. Even His own disciples wanted to know HOW to pray. Jesus was quick to let them know not to pray so everyone can hear you like the Gentiles, but to go in a quiet place and pray…saying these words…and not exactly but in your own words.

“When you pray don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask. Pray like this:” (The Lord’s Prayer)

Matthew 6: 7-9

Bottom line…Give Jesus Your Heart

Since the Lord already knows your heart and what’s on your mind, why not be real, honest, and pour it all out. I find when I speak my prayer out loud I receive instant peace. Jesus IS my therapist and in the mental health world speaking out loud IS awesome therapy and who better than THE COUNSELOR, Jesus Christ to share your heart?

I talk to the Lord many times throughout my day. I could be crafting, doing chores on the ranch, or simply drinking my morning coffee. Prayer is simply talking with your best friend and being real. SO…PRAY your HEART out, every moment of the day to be refreshed and renewed!

Enjoy your day with JOY!

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

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Crafts, Food, Grillin' One, Healthy Eating, Treats

Learn How to Make a Charcuterie Board by displaying a fun dessert or appetizer tray using foods you like using cheeses, meats, nuts, fruit, chocolate in a simple step by step.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays and when I learned about these special Charcuterie trays I had to make one up. Of course the crafty person in me and my Valentine, Dan also made the tray.

What is a Charcuterie Board?

You may have experienced seeing one of these at a gathering especially a wedding or a shower creating a display of cheeses, meats, fruits, and wondered what they are all about. A charcuterie board is an easy way to display finger food on some kind of tray. I have mostly seen the wood looks because of where we live, but plates, marble, granite, or metal are some other ideas. You can give a distressed look by simply painting them even putting a cracked look or conversation piece using chalk paint would be awesome! For this special Valentine’s Day, I wanted to put my own twist into my charcuterie board adding little touches of Valentine’s.

What to Add to a Valentine charcuterie Board

Cheese: Really anything goes but when your thinking of color, try getting the cheese with white casings. Silton with Raspberries, Goat Cheese, or a block of simple cream cheese. (Cut it into a heart shape to add dimension)

Meat: For a sweet tray meat isn’t really a big deal to add but I chose salami and turkey slices. Again making them into hearts is fun. Adding prosciutto all curled up and ham would also be great.

Nuts: I love nuts so almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts…go crazy if you like. I do make sure they are all shelled for easy nibbling!

Dips: Try thinking about what your tray theme is. In this case on Valentine’s Day chocolate would be appropriate. So melting good chocolate like Gheradellie and having the good ol’ hazelnut as a spread. Adding jams, mustards, honey butter are some great options as well. If you want some amazing flavor to chocolate, check this out! So great for frostings too! One we did for this tray was the old marshmallow dip and cream cheese.

Crackers and slices of bread: One of my favorite snacks and make a wonderful compliment to meat and cheeses is adding a variety of crackers. The grocery stores also have those cute little slices of bread like pumpernickel or rye. I used a horse head cookie cutter for my bread.

Fruit: I love adding this to any try just because fruit can be so colorful and clean the palate for the next bite. Think color and theme again when choosing your fruits. For this charcuterie board, it fit to have raspberries, strawberries, and blood oranges.

Sweets: Well go nuts here! Another favorite! Chocolate is very fitting for this charcuterie board. Adding chocolate bars, kisses, round Lindor candy balls…so many choices when in the season of Valentine’s Day. I also loved adding Macaroons and heart-shaped cookies. We used the Raspberry flavoring again for the filling.

Put it All Together

Don’t be intimidated, the charcuterie boards are easy to assemble. Here are three easy steps for you to make a professional-looking board.

Step 1: Perfect Charcuterie Board

Think about your theme and how many you will be servin. Big group you will need a bigger platter or wooden tray. Living in the woods on a ranch we have lots of flat wood surfaces.

White marble, plates, round or rectangle also make beautiful charcuterie boards.

If your making a tray for two, think a bit smaller.

Step Two: Arrange Your Board

There is no wrong way to assemble a board, but for me I like to place all my “height” or large item first. Like bowls, cheeses, dips, pour pitchers.

Next are the meats and crackers. Roll meat, or cut into shapes. Stack crackers up giving height and even try making roses with meats and flat foods. Lay in a fan pattern or around taller dishes.

Lastly, I add the sweets like chocolate, fruits, candies, and nuts.

Step Three: Your Special Touch

This part is so fun as you can add herbs, eatable flowers, mint leaves again keeping with your theme it can be anything to make your special charcuterie board pop. Because we are a ranch, we had to add the horse head shape out of the bread. It added who we are too.

You just want everything on the tray to be eatable. My rose petals buds made the dessert tray smell divine!

The above trays my hubby and I made. We received a bunch of wood cabinets as a donation and decided to use them for this idea. The Cricut Maker helped with all the fonts using Expressions Vinyl in shiny black and gold. the western one seems to be a favorite around here!

Oh, how fun these trays are, and hope you try and make one at your next party for 2 or more!

LOVE DEEPER, TALK SWEETER, ENJOY THE SIMPLE LIFE,

Lee

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Food, Healthy Eating, Ranch Life

Amazing Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole is great for quick dinner and perfect make ahead and freeze. We all love dinners we can freeze for nights when we don’t feel like cooking!

My daughter and I like making up meals on cold winter days that we can easily freeze and have ready for those busy days when we don’t have time or energy to cook. This is one great dish for just that!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 coked chicken breast, cubed (rotisserie chicken is great too)
  • 3 cups cubed ham
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

You will use the above for layering. In a 9 x 13 glass dish, put meat on the bottom, cheese, meat…so on.

Next mix 3 tbsp. melted butter with 2 cups bread crumbs, Panko is a good choice.

The sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. flour with 3 tbsp. butter, mix to a paste
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded swiss cheese

Cook over medium heat, after you have a nice smooth paste, add remaining ingredients and stir well. It doesn’t have to be thick but not too runny. Add Swiss cheese. Pour mixture over your layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until nice and golden on top.

Enjoy and a nice big piece of French bread really makes this meal!

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

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Ranch Life

When to Plant Seeds Indoors and Outdoors a map to help you get started.

It’s February here in Minnesota and even though the temperatures are not warm I am in the mood to start planning my gardens. We do have several around the ranch and our home so making a plan is important. Some gardens will be vegetables, other herbs, and other flowers with a mix of herbs. Each one is in different areas of sun and shade so yep, this takes some time.

Garden Bed

If you want to check out my beginning stages of a special herb garden around our ranch, The Thyme Out pasture was a fun and creative way we use herbs to teach kids and adults! Love, LOVE this area!

I came across a great chart to map out when to start my seeds indoors. I do like to start these in our home early because we have such a short growing season. I have a variety of ways I start my seeds using only the BEST organic seeds. True Leaf Market. Truly a wonderful company and they provide so much more to get any gardener started. New of seasoned!

One important need when starting your seeds in the soil. Again love this product and gets my mixture ready to help my seedlings do well. Compressed Coconut Coir and Omri Potting soil. Of course, manure is our base.

This chart really helped me! Look how early onions are! But when you want a good crop, starting early helps.

Below is our MN great temps and late to plant outdoor season. I especially like to pull my garden beds in July and replant for fall harvest time. This way you get leafy greens which freeze easy too.

The last one is watermelon

I went to our state University to get this info if you want to go directly to the link. They have a TON of info!

So much fun and with a little planning and work your gardens will be flourishing! Enjoy!

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

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Crafts, Ministry, Paper/Cards, Ranch Life

A Box of Love; DIY Kit anyone can make!

Recently when our son was going through his liver transplant, I wanted to be able to give goodies to folks who were prayer warriors, nursing staff, doctors, and even our hotel check-in staff. I just wanted to show them how much we appreciated all they did during our time with Mitch being sick.

We are often in the cities for Mitch with procedures and appointments and right now I am sitting in the hotel room putting the final touches on the things I have made. All weekend knowing we would be traveling down I got busy making up Heart Hot Chocolate Bombs and cute boxes to put them in. Along with some teas in a tube. There is nothing more fun than giving a gift of love wrapped up in love!

Here’s the first one I made:

2 hearts were so cute

In the next box, I added more with the Cricut Maker. I tell you this machine has added to my crafting tenfold of fun! Not only can I get the cut out in the middle, use the extra hearts for other cards and projects, but also do words, borders, and even make tags. Having the Cricut access is really an inexpensive way to get SO much for your money and the ideas….whoa… The fonts alone are worth it!

So fun and cute!

How to make a box

For the base of the box: to fit 2 heart hot chocolate bombs or 4 1/4 x 5 1/5 cards

Card-stock cut 10″ x 8 1/2″ then score 2″ on all 4 sides. I use my cutter to cut than a scoring tool all in one sweet device! Next cut on score lines on each intersecting score-line. Fold in and using double-stick tape to secure corners well. Regular glue and mono adhesives are not strong enough.

For the lid:

I used a different color for my lids and as you can see also using background paper can add a fun eye-catching box.

6 5/8″ x 8 1/8″ score at 1″ on all four sides. Cut on the score lines up to intersecting lines on each corner. Fold in, tape and seal. I used acetate for the window.

Now the fun part…decorating! If you’re using a Cricut Maker I went into the Design Space and chose my images. Measure the size area of your box top and create your image in the design space to fit the size in the middle of your box. When you go to MAKE IT, fit your image on your standard grip mat to the area where your box will be. I measured using a ruler the size of the image and measured my cardstock box. I used patterned vinyl. To make my tags I used these fun adapters using my gel pens for words. I LOVE this idea so I can use markers, ballpoint pens, and sharpies to create any saying!

Here’s another idea:

Couldn’t help it…made another:

So you can see these can be a ton of fun! Filling them with cards for the person to use or with treats…all in love!

Have fun creating your own ideas! Share them too!

COMMENTS: Love to hear share away…

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

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Food

Lemon Rosemary Scones Will Melt in Your Mouth Flavor to die for herbs that are blended with the lemon will spark up any morning!

Making scones is always a little work but SO worth it when the product is done! Just don’t plan on making them an hour before church…you need more time. (Not that it happened to me or anything)

There is nothing like a fresh hot scone in the morning with my coffee and later in the day, it goes great with a cup of tea too. This recipe is one of my favorites mainly because I love the combo of lemon and rosemary.

Ingredients:

  • 3 c flour ( I needed more as mine was really wet…like bread you may have to decrease or increase your amount)
  • 2 fresh lemons
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks cold butter
  • 1 c cream or half and half
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp rosemary
Not perfect as only the ranch folk like it!

GLAZE:

  • 5 c powdered sugar, sifted
  • juice of one lemon
  • half and half as needed for thickness

Directions:

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together. Add sticks of butter and using a pastry cutter, cut until there are no big chunks. Set aside. Mix cream, egg, juice, and zest from one lemon, and rosemary. Whisk well. Gently add cream to dry ingredients and mix until nice dough forms. Place on a floured counter and roll out into a rough rectangle. Using a pizza cutter to cut making diagonals forming triangles. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Mix your glaze in a small bowl and when scones are slightly cool, using a fork drizzle glaze over each one…and let your mouth water waiting for the first bite!

Yummy! the hit of rosemary is so good!

Our family likes to decrease sugar as much as we can so I made very little of the glaze cutting recipe in half. They turned out great without so much glaze.

ENJOY!!!!

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

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Food, Ranch Life, Treats

Take a trend and try new designs

Making the new hot chocolate bombs was so fun over the Christmas season that I just had to go into the next holiday….Valentine’s. So my daughter and I got busy trying our hand at this new idea.

We tried a couple of different molds and found this one is fun and this one is what we used for the post. Mostly why we liked these is because it wasn’t as deep as a typical muffin cup size and the saying YOU & ME was perfect for the holiday.

Cherry hearts didn’t work
This one turned out awesome

Basic directions:

I recommend using the Ghirardelli brand wafers for your chocolate. The Wilson brand carries many dies and I like making color using herbal powders like Beet and Turmeric. Plus the chocolate tastes much better! Pour wafers in the saucepan using a double boiler method. This will control the chocolate melting process without burning. You don’t want that!

Using a paintbrush paint chocolate into your molds. If you have this mold, the cherry ones won’t work as the leaves all go one way and of course, you need one to be the opposite. Not that we made any mistakes and found out or anything…so yeah..moving on…

Make sure to do the sides well

The important part of doing these we have found is doing the sides and top well. Once you have done one layer, put it in the freezer for 5 minutes or so. My daughter had a fun idea of getting a tye-dye effect. Add sprinkles to the bottom of the first layer. These turned out so cute and colorful!

Next, do another layer, pop in the freezer for another 5 minutes, and you’re ready to slowly pop out your mold. Making sure to peel away the mold from the chocolate.

Now you’re ready to smooth seams and fill. We did one, filled it, then melted the other seam and secured it with the other. I just love how these turned out! We put a little plate on the stove, let it warm up, and put the chocolate heart on a plate to smooth the seam. Just for a few seconds.

Enjoy making these for all your loved ones ANYTIME of the year!

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

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Crafts, Healing, Living Naturally, Ranch Life, Sewing

Why in the World?

Why would I go to so much time to make these? Well, first of all when you live on a ranch and have animals that get sick or hurt one doesn’t think so straight when it’s an emergency. By having this concept ready to go, I can grab and go and know I have all I need to help start the healing process.

The same goes for the flu bugs and basic first aid. The instructions help for anyone to be able to know how to use the items in the bag. I love this especially if a staff person has to use it or family. This way I don’t have to be around. Big Plus!

Easy To Prep Bags

If you’re a sewer this will be easy peasy. Just 2 pieces of any material cut to any size. Make with right sides together leaving a 1-2″ seam at the top for string, stitch at the top, and there ya go.

I made the words on the outside using my Cricut Maker, iron-on vinyl, Heat EasyPress. If you don’t want to invest in a full-size heat press this little guy is a great option! Makes for easy craft iron too! You’re now ready to have a visual go-to kit. Each bag has a “recipe” for what is in the bag and instructions on what to do with items or how to use the bag. I again used my Cricut, writing tool using my own pens by implementing these amazing adapters. SO COOL, and used card stock so it’s nice and durable. You could even laminate them for longer use. (I am telling you those adapters are a game changer! It Will save you SO much money!)

Notice the top which I folded and sewed to make opening for ribbon or tie, then sewed right sides together. Simple and fast!

If you are not a sewer, here is a wonderful idea where you can still decorate the outside and label your bag.

It’s so fun to have different fabric for each kit
What a fun idea for gift giving too!
I used some leftover quilt scraps to make these bags
Cricut Design Space has templates for recipe cards. I deleted what I needed to fit the kit idea.

Enjoy getting organized for when illness or accidents happen around your homestead! It feels so good to know I can tell my family to grab a remedy bag and follow the instructions to help whatever they are dealing with. If you want herbal blends ready to prep for your horses, here is a link. And here.

For essential oils, here.

God’s blessings,

Love deeper, talk sweeter,
Lee

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Crafts, Paper/Cards, Ranch Life

Birthday Card with Cricut Maker Using Writing Tools

For the first time, I used the writing pen in my Cricut Maker. Being nervous about using this new tool I youtube a great video which helped a ton! Also…I practiced on scrap paper that I could potentially use in other cards. My hubby told me these are really expensive through Cricut so I wanted to be conservative plus they wear down quickly. But while looking for the video on “how to” use the pen, I came across these amazing pen adapters! Take any pen and boom…save money and pen away! Loved this idea!

Side note…anytime you purchase from links it helps us help others in our ministry…www.truenorthranch.org…thank you!

How to Use Pens

I love going onto Defont.com and creating some of my favorite fonts and saving them into my Design Space…ideas are endless!

How to use other pens:

Using the pen adapters it’s awesome!

Some tips:

When I make my cards I love to combine my rubber stamps and what is really cool if I don’t have the stamp especially in sayings I can pop in a pen of my choice and make it all work beautifully. Check out Stamp Market’s cardstock really awesome! The Vinyl I use is from Expressions vinyl and I love the Oracle 651 and Easyweeds the best. Their heat transfers are also amazing. Go crazy they are an inexpensive and wonderful product and customer service. Below is how I store my vinyl.

Yes I make a lot of cards for our ranch ministry, so I turned half of the card rack into vinyl storage.
LOVE LOVE the pen adapters! GAME changer!

I enjoyed making these TAGS as well for gift boxes. Just another dooo dad to add in your gift making ideas.

Well, I hope you find this post helpful not only to save you money on using the pen adapter but for using the concept of expanding all your written ideas. Card making is just one way I use pens, but I know I will find other projects and get creative with them. ENJOY!!!

Love deeper, talk sweeter,

Lee

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