Happy Friday where we’re joining our friends, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for another Nature Friday blog hop. Don’t forget to “hop” over to their backyard by clicking on the link and checking out all the other images that folks found this week in nature.
While the Mile High anxiously awaits a major storm scheduled to arrive sometime tonight, Elsa continues to look high and low for signs of Spring. The National Weather Service said Denver could expect between 15-24 inches and has issued a winter storm warning for the slow moving storm beginning early tomorrow. Snow should fall through the weekend and end around noon on Monday. Highs will only be in the mid-30’sF which may be a bit of an adjustment after approaching 70ºF earlier this week. The temperature yo-yo continues.
March snow storms are not unusual in Denver; I am reminded of another spring storm that pounded fell on Denver back on St. Patrick’s Day in 2003 when 30+ inches fell. That storm occurred when this was a two sheepdog household and my back was better equipped to shovel massive amounts of snow. Shoveling around these two crazy sheepdogs was always an adventure.
Alas, if only Elsa would looked a bit closer to ground level where spring bulbs continue their annual march toward sunny exposures.
The same garden that had those lovely reticulated irises and crocuses that I recently posted also has a small patch of miniature daffodils. These guys are the absolute cutest things and are only about 3-4 inches tall. Their bright color always elicits a smile from me in the sea of brown.
I mean how cheery is that little cutie pie?
Norman, on the other hand is somewhat less enthusiastic about “Springtime in the Rockies” and has taken a somewhat more laissez-faire attitude when looking for signs of spring usually from the comfort of his sofa. I’m sure he’ll most likely keep me company while I ‘bake up a storm’ in the kitchen as nature unleashes her own storm outside. Fingers crossed the power doesn’t go out. So what are your plans for the weekend?
Welcome to “Read Across America Day.” Created in 1998 by the NEA, the celebration was created as a way to encourage children to read. Yesterday marked the start of National Reading Month which focuses on motivating kids to read. The annual reading day has typically been held on March 2, Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Even Blogville is celebrating today so be sure to check your favorite blog.
Around the Ranch, “Thing One” and “Thing Two” will celebrate (as soon as they wake up from their latest naps). I recently ordered a couple new dog books and today seems like the perfect time to begin reading them. Having Thing One and Thing Two in my lap will make it all more fun.
We hope you’ll celebrate today by reading a book to a child but a fur-kid will work too. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss.
Welcome to the month of love, also known as February. For this month’s edition of “In Purrsuit of Flavours,” we’re once again joining our ‘fur-bulous’ chefs and hosts, the Weim boys over at Easy Rider and kitties from Canadian Cats in sharing a sweet for a sweet. recipe. Click on their links to check out other sweet treat recipes.
Ok Norman, you ready to start baking? Righto mum…my toque, apron are all clean, pressed and ready to go. Let’s do it!
Today we’re making a soft sugar cookie that I have made every February for over 45 years (egad, am I really THAT old?). This recipe originated from the kids’ first daycare/babysitter which I wrote down in the margin of the 1967 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that I received at my wedding shower. It’s so old I’ve had to re-ink the recipe due to fading. What is really surprising to me is not how long I’ve been making these cookies but that this tasty treat is not chocolate, though the cookies could be topped with a chocolate frosting.
Before my kids even started school, I would make these heart shaped cookies for each of the kids at the daycare, each one frosted with their name on it. Try frosting “Tiffany” on a small heart shaped cookie. 😳 Even after they were past the daycare years, I still made these cookies, sans names.
Ok, let’s get started. Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Thoroughly cream 1/2 cup of shortening with 1 cup of sugar. Add 1 tsp. of vanilla, 1 egg and beat until well mixed (*Note: I frequently use almond extract instead of vanilla for more flavour and well…because I love the taste of almond extract in cookies though the original recipe calls for vanilla). Blend in 3 cups of flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, 3 tsp. baking powder and then add 1/2 cup of milk. Roll out on a floured surface and cut shapes with a cookie cutter. Place on a GREASED cookie sheet, about an inch or so apart. I can’t stress the greased part enough. Trust me, I learned the hard way so benefit from my idiocy experience. Bake for 6 minutes or until cookies are set, depending on the thickness of your cookies. If you bake until the tops start to turn golden, they will be crispy (like the large hearts since those needed to have a bit of structure to avoid breaking when frosted). Once baked, allow to cool and then frost with your favorite frosting spread. I just use a simple confectioners frosting or you could spread some hazelnut spread on top. Normally I just spread across the entire cookie but decided to jazz them up a bit with some piping for today.
Wow mum, those look yummy! They are sweet dear boy but sadly you cannot have one. I’ll give you some chicken jerky instead, maybe you’d accept that for all your obstruction in the kitchen help in the kitchen? Why this dog MUST lay in front of the stove or sink and underfoot whenever I’m in the kitchen remains a mystery.
So there you have it. Easy-peasy and always a favorite. If you like a soft sugar cookie, these are just the ticket.
Can it truly be the last Friday of January (otherwise known as the 13th month of 2020)? Where did this month go?! As we usual, we’re joining our hosts, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of the Nature Friday blog hop. Don’t forget to “hop” over to their backyard by clicking on the link and checking out what great nature images folks from around Blogville shared.
A welcome snow shower visited us this week to cover anything that might be showing signs of life beyond the brown but we’re not complaining. Before the change in landscape, we noticed on our daily walks that shadows are long this time of year. How long you ask? Well that tree on the right side is approximately halfway into the park (a city block square) and stretches toward the two evergreens which line the outside boundary along the street.
The low winter sun makes for great shadows this time of year and captivates my eye on our walks. Norman & Elsa seemed interested in them too, though I suspect a certain fuzzy ‘hoodlum’ who scampered into that evergreen tree is what mostly piqued their interest. I rather love that tree shadows dominate the landscape on sunny days and stretch across yards. Even Norman’s long legs look longer.
Have you ever noticed winter shadows when you’re out and about?
We hope you have a lovely Friday and a super weekend. We’re planning on being outside as much as possible before next week’s forecasted storm and cold temps. I don’t know about you, but almost 60ºF sounds like a pretty good forecast for today.
While I typically do not post on Saturday’s, I couldn’t let this particular Saturday pass without acknowledging an important anniversary. It was one year ago today that I drove to Colorado Springs to pick up a moose, er, I mean, my buddy “Stormin’ Norman” at a restaurant parking lot. I had been introduced to him a few days earlier at his foster dad’s home and admit I wasn’t quite sure just what I was getting. Oh sure, he seemed absolutely lovely and he was great around Elsa but I knew he would need some time to find his inner self after being uprooted from his long-time family and fur-sister and placed into the world of rescue where getting used to new people, new routines, etc. would be what would occupy him for the next several months. As I drove home from the initial meet and greet a few days earlier, I kept wondering what would an addition of this size be like around the Ranch? I couldn’t help but wonder how he would handle the 70 mile drive home, let alone integrate into a new pack with vastly different players and energy from what he was used to experiencing? I didn’t know if he’d balk at getting into my car and knew for certain I couldn’t lift this hunk but he easily climbed into my car and we never looked back. He was the perfect gentleman in the back seat and the perfect road companion, then and now.
To say much has happened over the past year is a bit of an understatement. Norman and I have become use to one another’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, he’s been a model Big Brother to a less than hospitable at times Ninja sister, he survived a life threatening event (bloat), and became an intern therapy dog. Norman is one of the most affable, laid back dogs and his core personality has unfolded over the past year to reveal one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known.
Let’s take a look back at this lovable joker over the year.
One of the things that impressed me most is how this sweet boy will allow me to pose him in the silliest of hats, etc.
To say he’s larger than life is a real understatement. Weighing in over 85 pounds, this boy is BIG…and v-e-r-y tall. Like all sheepdogs, he has a big, fat large head (the better to munch bones on apparently) and has managed to master being adorably photogenic like a puppy without even trying.
He has no problem being photographed as a unicorn (super patient with me laughing hysterically trying to capture the photo while not moving the camera) or as a slumbering sofa-surfer.
It was just ten minutes after he arrived at his new home that he was making himself comfortable on the sofa, despite being assured by his foster dad that “no, he never gets up on the furniture.”
This past year I’ve watched as Norman’s personality blossomed especially during the past few months when my son was staying with me. This mellow giant is just giddy expressing his love for people through significant butt wiggles with a one-sided smile (I’ve never managed to capture that smile in a photo as he’s constantly wiggling and my cell phone just can’t focus without blurring). He’s become a master at sniffing every tree and bush encountered on walks and I’ve learned the hard way that when he puts the brakes on or suddenly stops I’d better be prepared for significant recoil since he’s not easily moved. And I’ve also learned to hang on for dear life when he suddenly takes off after a squirrel and pray I stay upright.
Norman has brought such joy to my grieving heart after Sam’s unexpectedly crossing to the Rainbow Bridge just a month after Norman arrived. Sam must have thought he was leaving me in good paws when he departed and he was right. Norman seems to know when my heart is particularly heavy and will quietly lay next to me with his head across my lap or legs. It feels like a big furry hug that comforts my aching soul.
And so on the anniversary of his first Gotcha Day, I wish this handsome pile of fur many happy returns. Turning eight looks pretty darn good on you, Dude. Here’s wishing you a ‘pawsome’ year of great adventures and fun. Love you, buddy!
Don’t let the title of this post freak you out…this is NOT a post about the unspeakably sad losses experienced during the past 365 days. Instead consider this my feeble attempt to get a 12+ hour head start on tomorrow’s Nature Friday with an affectionate look back at some of the wonders Mother Nature so graciously shared despite our planet’s collective poor stewardship of her. We hope you will take a moment to follow Blogville around by clicking on our friends’ and hosts link [Rosy, sister Sunny and her two brothers at LLB in Our Backyard] and hope they don’t mind our pulling the trigger early).
While it’s true we received a spot of the white stuff this week, as fast as it frosted the landscape, it quickly melted under beautiful, bright blue, sunny skies.
Mother Nature may have some prickly moments, but boy does she possess an amazing canvas when she shows it off.
While some of you may shiver at images of snow, I can’t help but wonder about all those unique and sparkly facets of crystalized ice that highlight a winter landscape.
Sure Norman, Elsa and I are fortunate to enjoy 300+ days of annual sunshine in the Mile High but we’re also gifted with some spectacular sunsets (and sunrises) on occasion. This one showed up shortly before this month’s full moon.
And now for a look back at a few of the most popular images from nature this year. This past summer provided some much needed visual comfort then as well as now.
A 2020 retrospective on nature would be incomplete without some sunshine-y sunflowers from our garden as well as a a view of the plethora of lupine which provided a nice backdrop for the Ranch hands.
As we reflect over the past year, all the while keeping a keen eye looking forward to the new one, we’ll toast to a New Year with a recent batch of aged, handmade Sazerac cleverly crafted by my son. Just look at that gorgeous amber color. If you like rye, Sazerac can be quite the tasty cognac/whiskey kind of beverage. Add a slice of lemon or orange peel and voila…a moment perfect for contemplative reflection.
With loads of cheers for love, laughter, with a few tasty treats for 2021, we can’t help but be optimistic after seeing these babies who I spied on yesterday morning’s walk. I’ don’t recall seeing bulbs appear quite this early but I’ll take it. Knowing, or at least hoping there is more white stuff down the road, we’ll keep ‘pawsitive’ that 2021 will be a big improvement over 2020, though it may take some patience to see it blossom.
The Ranch will be taking some extended time off to attend to computer maintenance issues and I’m uncertain as to how long it might take to dust off any cobwebs on the laptop. As I do not wish to yank out all my recently cut hair trying to compose posts on a tiny cell-phone screen, those of you who do have my undying admiration, we’ll be back as soon as our battery pack is refreshed, our files cleaned and scrubbed. No doubt the Ranch hands will think of loads of ways to exasperate me entertain us with new adventures…but until then…stay safe, sane and keep smiling, my friends. Have a Happy New Year!