2018, my year in Photos

2018 was started the right way, with movement in my of my life.  I had begun walking just before the New Year had arrived.  I kept it up in order to reach a goal which was to participate in a 5K!  I not only participated, but I shared my story about getting free of pharmaceuticals as I walked the streets of Grants Pass just 4 days before my 56th birthday!  I created a shirt about my journey and wore it proudly!


I also was on the move with my bags packed frequently this year.  Between moving back to S. Oregon, various house sitting gigs, a trip to Little Cultus lake and then to Salem a couple times, my bags got used a LOT.


I enjoyed a variety of local events.  Music, merry-making, activism and fun.  I am beginning to enjoy being social now and then.  This is just one of the indicators that slowly yet progressively, I am healing!



Always there are animals around.  I enjoy them all.  I seem drawn to them and they seem to enjoy me as well.  I make friends wherever I go.  Often they are 4 legged or feathered.


I was drawn to water many times.  It soothed me.


Especially when I needed to escape the smoke again.  Summers are getting hard in Southern Oregon due to so many fires.

Cannabis was always part of the day.    I shared my story in order to help others know that it does work and you don’t have to be high!  Well…maybe high on life!!!

I had so many blessings such as being reunited with my brother, getting a couple kitties, becoming a surrogate Nana…..and of course….my lovely tiny home on wheels.


I enjoyed some art projects this year.  Thanks for the art supplies ladies.  You know who you are.


I cooked for others and myself

Not everything was always dandy.  There were a few things that were hard.  But I never let them get me down for too long.


But at the end of the day there were so many beautiful sunsets.


And of course….the one constant in my life….the most amazing and wonderful #ShastaTheWonderdog.  And Lulu…who is her sidekick!


It has been a year of blessings and I am very grateful!  I am ready for whatever 2019 has to bring!


Capturing wild yeast and making sourdough bread!

This starter was created the beginning of the second week in May.

My list of new things to learn to do is always growing. When spring approached my research said it was a good time to capture some yeast and start my own science experiment on my counter. I read many different articles on how to make a good sourdough starter. The one I decided to follow was this one Sourdough Starter from Scratch: Collecting Wild Yeast.   My first capturing yeast was done in early April and it was growing well and I had been feeding it for a few weeks. I had put it in the refrigerator while I was gone from home traveling and when I tried to “fire it up” and reactivate it after a few days it developed some pinkish yuck so I threw it out. I started a new batch around May 10th and have kept it going on the counter ever since. I have tried four different Artisan sourdough bread recipes over the last few weeks and this weeks batch turned out the best in my humble opinion. My starter lives on the counter and I feed it daily with 1/3 cup of water and 1/2 cup WW flour. I toss 1/2 the starter about every 3 days. I feed it with AP flour the day before I intend to use it as that seems to create more yeast. The rest of the time the feeding is done with WW flour.

I have a little experience in bread baking over the years and anyone who knows how I am about recipes knows I have to go with my own flow and typically just use a recipe for some inspiration. That is what I did this time. I found yet another slightly different recipe and tweaked it to suit me using traditional American measurements since I have not acquired a scale yet. I found my inspiration with this recipe at Them Apples and I hope you take the time to check out this writer’s blog. He and I share a similar taste for foods! Lots of yummy stuff to be found and I love his layout!

I made my sponge using 1 heavy cup of my starter, 1 cup WW flour and 1 cup AP flour and 2 1/3 cups water. I mixed it with a fork and covered it with a cloth and it set on the counter from noon until 8pm. I wanted to have my bread ready to give a loaf to my physical therapist and my appointment was scheduled for noon the next day! I have learned over the last few weeks that baking good sourdough bread really is about taking your time and allowing the fermentation of the yeasts to develop. I love my set of Vintage Pyrex bowls and the large one was just perfect for this process!

While the sponge was doing it’s thing on the counter I tidied up my kitchen and prepared for an interview I was schedule to do at 2pm one of the reporters from the local newspaper. They are doing a full spread article on compulsive and problem gambling. I have been interviewed about problem gambling a few other times in the past.  I am happy to say this is the first interview I have had where I have significant recovery under my belt. The two other times for newspapers occurred when my life was in a shambles or I was literally sitting on my hands white knuckling it so I wouldn’t go place a bet. There was also a time I was interviewed for a TV newscast, and that occurred when I had been at a treatment facility and was at about day 45  and still trying to figure out how I was going to manage life once treatment was done. This time I am doing well today and it felt good to know that.  I am sure the article will focus more on the devastation that occurred during my 16 year battle rather than all that is good, and that is ok if the story helps educate the general public on the devastation that gambling can bring on a life. One other thing that is significantly different about this interview is that I chose not to remain anonymous. I am allowing the paper to use my name as well as my picture. Not because I am anyone special. Quite the opposite. I am just another person, who lives in the country and raises chickens and likes to cook and bake and has life challenges and loves people and is emotionally and mentally sound and happy with life. In a nutshell that is. I have nothing to hide anymore and it felt very liberating to say yes when asked if my name and photo could be used.

After the interview I hoped on my motorcycle and ran to town to check the mail for my guy while he is out of town and then back out to Applegate Valley Lavender Farm. I had promised my new friend Deborah Thompson, the proprietor, that I would help her do some preparing for the upcoming Oregon Lavender Festival. Check out her webpage and learn more about the Lavender Festival. Aside from enjoying this sweet ladies company, who wouldn’t want to hang out at a lavender farm and enjoy the scenery and the scents and the animals? I love it there. We played with her farm animal friends and pulled some weeds and ate some watermelon. It was a great couple of hours.

At 8pm I was back home and done with phone calls and little things that occupied my time for a while. It was time to make some dough! I dumped the bubbly mass of sponge into the bowl that goes with my standing mixer. I added 1 cup of WW flour, one cup of AP flour and 1/2 cup of oatmeal flour (that I grind myself with Organic Oats) and 1/2 cup of whole oats. I sprinkled in 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and started up the mixer. Nice and slow at first. I didn’t want flour all over the place! It is a very wet batter as you can see from the photos. I added maybe another 1/4 cup of oatmeal flour after about 3 minutes because it was still sticking too much on the sides of the bowl. Once it all started to come together I amped up the mixer and let it fly for about 5 more minutes. I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It probably is the most used appliance I have ever owned. It is started to get a bit wobbly from so much use. When I use the dough hook to knead bread I have to hold the thing still because it bangs all over the place. I just use it as a resting place for the time it takes to knead it! After about 8-10 minutes with the mixer into an oiled bowl it goes!

Now to let it rise. I always pre-warm my oven to 350 degrees for just ONE minute and then turn it off and set my bowl inside with a tea towel or loose lid on it. I have a gas oven so it always stays a little warmer. It is a good thing I am a bit of a night owl because this dough still needs attention. As Rich at Them Apples states in his blog, this dough needs attention for about 4 hours or so. I would just stick my hands in the bowl and punch it down and turn it over and punch it down a few times each hour. At about 1:30 in the morning when I was just about ready for a good sleep I shaped the loaves into nice rounds and left them on a piece of parchment paper. I did the tea towel trick for holding their shape and it worked well. I covered them up and went to bed!

I awakened at 9 and padded out in my bare feet and turned the oven on to 450C degrees. I had a few things to do to put my “Barter Basket” so set to that while waiting for a good solid 30-45 minute pre-heat. I placed my rack in the middle of the oven and had a loaf pan full of water underneath that was heating with the oven. I also threw in some oiled new red potatoes to let them roast utilizing the pre-heat temps! I had my favorite Pampered Chef rectangular baking stone preheating in there too. For those who are curious my “Barter Basket” is a basket of home cooked and home canned food I put together each week for my physical therapist. She is treating me sans charge except for whatever I choose to bring as a barter gift. It is working out well for both of us. She and her betrothed are getting married in September and she has just asked me to provide some of the food for her dinner, which is a BBQ as well as highlight her bridal breakfast with some quiches and muffins and such! I have been so excited and honored about this. I have been enjoying cooking for most all of my adult life and to have someone ask me if I will cook for them for their most special occasion is just wonderful!

At 10 a.m.  I was ready to throw them in and have them bake. I had covered the bottoms of the loaves with a good layering of the oatmeal flour before letting them rise and so they moved about on the parchment paper I had set them on pretty well. I opened the oven and gently lifted each one with a nice long spatula and closed the door gently! Baked for 10 minutes at 450 and then turned the oven down to 200. The loaves were  just barely brown after 10 minutes. I checked on them after another 20 minutes and they didn’t sound quite hollow when tapped so I gave them an additional 5 minutes. On to the rack to cool while I got ready for my appointment with my PT.

My “Barter Basket” contained a jar of Marsala Chicken that I had cooked overnight in the crock pot, the roasted potatoes, a jar of canned peaches, a jar of Blackberry Plum jam, a plateful of Lemon Bars a loaf of this lovely Artisan Sourdough Oatmeal bread and a dozen of eggs from my Layers! My wild yeast starter is still growing on the counter and I believe I will make this same recipe again next week. I had a slice of this bread and it is very good, but I will add a little more salt next time. I think with the WW and Oat flours salt requirements increase! I hope you enjoy learning about Capturing Wild Yeast and making some good sourdough bread!


It is a Chickie kind of day!

I am writing this much after the fact. A week after the fact to be precise. I was so excited last Friday because it was the scheduled day for baby chicks!!! M&E had approached me about a month before saying they were getting 35 baby chicks and if I wanted babies it would be best for us all to get them at the same time. That is, if we were going to house them all together for their start. Then their plans changed as they had a funeral to attend to and so they had to put off getting theirs for a few days.  I didn’t want to wait! So, I decided I could manage my few on my own.

I found a plastic tote, lined it with foam contact paper (so they wouldn’t slip) and stuck in the lids from jars for water and food. I safely secured a red heat lamp above it. I was ready to head to town to pick up my charges.

My chicks first home!

My chicks first home!

But first, I have a couple more chores to do at home. I converted a 5 gallon bucket into a nipple waterer for the coop. I had been wanting to do this. The old waterer broke when we had all the freezing weather. Then the setup I was using was so messy and nasty I couldn’t stand it. This is going to be so much nicer for keeping the coop dry and the waterer clean.

Drilled 3 holes, added 3 nipples and ready to hang!

Drilled 3 holes, added 3 nipples and ready to hang!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I also gave Grammy’s boots a new pair of shoelaces. These boots are over 40 years old…and they still are comfortable and keep my feet dry and sturdy when hiking around the property. I’ll save the old shoelaces and add them to my tote in the truck for emergencies! I also took my walk before heading to town and went almost 2 miles~!

Grammy's boots with new laces...good as new even after 40 years!

Grammy’s boots with new laces…good as new even after 40 years!

Of course if I go to town it means I have to do my grocery shopping and visit a few folks. With gas prices what they are I try to make my miles work for me. It is 25 miles just to get to town. First stop is to get some juices and easy foods for my friend who has been sick with the bug going around. He has not felt well for a couple days now and so I will get juice, sierra mist, crackers and some chicken soup for him.

After a little visit with my friend I went to Cartwright’s meat market. Every friday they have these great little bacon wrapped sirloin steaks for $3.79 each. Limit of 6. I had them wrap me up 3 separate packages with 2 steaks each in them. Not much else is really grabbing my eye so then I’m off to the Farmer’s Market. I needed some oranges and onions and a couple lemons. I’m almost out of my lemon/ginger/honey elixir that I keep in the fridge. Fresh greens, some mushrooms and a loaf of seeded whole wheat sourdough from Ashland Bakery. Now off to the grange.

I was grinning ear to ear upon arriving in the parking lot. I was so excited to be getting my first chicks. I checked in with the counter and told them I was going to gather a few supplies before I picked out my girls. I got some chick food, electrolytes and probiotics to add to the water, a small feeder and waterer and an extra light set-up, just in case. And of course, a thermometer. Now the fun part, choosing my girls. I was set up to get 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes and 2 Speckled Sussex. Of course, I had got the week wrong and the Sussex aren’t going to be here until next week (which is today). I got the 2 SLW and decided I needed one more to help them stay warm (right….one more is going to make a difference…it’s my rationale and I’m sticking to it). I picked out a pretty little Welsummer. They have pretty big brown eggs and I only have one Welsummer, so now I’ll have a pair! I like pairs. 🙂  I paid for all my supplies and chicks with egg money.

Egg money pays for the chicks and supplies.  My girls are paying their way and then some!!!

Egg money pays for the chicks and supplies. My girls are paying their way and then some!!!

Off we go to home.

I got everything unloaded and the chicks settled into their little plastic home. Such cute little fluffy butts! They make the cutest little chirpy noises and they peck and stretch their legs and wings and lie down and look dead! Yes…they will lie on their sides all stretched out and if I wouldn’t have seen her breathing, I would have thought she was dead. But not dead…just sleeping. Which is what I needed to do! It has been a busy day and I have enjoyed all of it!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Saturday morning was a bright sunny day. My girls had survived the night. The temperature has stayed right around 93 degrees. They are eating and drinking and chirping and doing chicken stuff! They are so adorable. As are my full grown girls. I decided to go out for a walk and visit with the other animals on this gorgeous sunny Saturday. Spring is coming! The cows are a bit amourous…pretty frisky actually. In fact…this could be x-rated. Part of farm living. The smells, sounds and sights. If ya can’t handle it, you best not move to the country. Animals copulate. Yup! Sex. Right out in the open. They don’t care who is around and what is going on. Just leave them alone and they will do their thing. Even tho these cows are only little Dexter’s and weight much less than a full size cow…I am not going to get in the way of their efforts to poplulate the pasture! No one else is either. The sheep don’t pay any attention nor do the chickens. Over the course of an hour Mr. Cow was very loving to Mrs. Cow! Cow courtship is cute.

Cow courtship...awwwww...he is in LUST!!!

Cow courtship…awwwww…he is in LUST!!!

I have soups to make. I had bought mushrooms with the intention of making the mushroom soup I had before, but I also wanted to make a chicken soup. I used this recipe http://theshiksa.com/2010/11/03/mushroom-barley-soup/ for my base. This soup is really yummy. I didn’t have shitake mushrooms, so I used baby portebellas. To conserve my energy and fuel for cooking I started both soups with the same base. This is how it went down.

Sliced, diced, chopped and ready to be seared in the pan!!!

Sliced, diced, chopped and ready to be seared in the pan!!!

The mushroom soup got started in my dutch oven on the stove. I put 1 quart of chicken broth, 1 quart of water and 2 teaspoons chicken broth granules in the pot with 2 bay leaves and 1 cup of barley and let boil on low with the lid off.

In my slow cooker I placed 1 cup of wild rice, 1 quart of chicken stock and 1 quart of water and 2 teaspoons chicken stock granules and turned on low and simmered for 2 hours.

I cut the portebella’s into slices and placed them in 3 cups of water and boiled for minute and then let them soak as described in the recipe.

The base for both soups:

1 cup celery diced
4 cups carrot diced
6 cloves garlic chopped
1 1/2 cups onion chopped

I cooked all the veggies how “The Shiksa” describes in the mushroom soup recipe in my cast iron skillet. I drained the portebella’s and chopped them fine and added them just like described for the shitakes. Then all the mushroom water got added. I poured 2/3 of the veggie mixture and almost all of the liquid into the dutch oven. The other 1/3 of the mixture went into the slow cooker.

This smells great.  Carmelized veggies for soup pots!!!  Yummy.

This smells great. Carmelized veggies for soup pots!!! Yummy.

I then cooked the crimini mushrooms as described and added them to the mushroom soup mixture with a little salt and pepper to taste. I had to add a total of 2 1/2 cups of water to this as it cooked over a period of 2 hours.

2/3 and all the juice into the mushroom pot, the rest into the Chicken soup pot.

2/3 and all the juice into the mushroom pot, the rest into the Chicken soup pot.

Into the crock pot went 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1 tablespoon tomatoe paste, 1 can diced tomatoes and a package of spinach. A large pinch (teaspoon) of basil and 1/2 teas salt and pepper. I let this cook on low overnight.

The chicken soup is ready to cook!  Slow cooker yumminess!

The chicken soup is ready to cook! Slow cooker yumminess!

Both soups turned out wonderful. While they were cooking I make some more of my honey/lemon/ginger elixir for the cold season. I decided to try some of the suggestions I”ve seen, and one jar got a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon added to it. The other jar received 3 cloves of garlic sliced into the mix. I will try both. I somehow managed to also get a pan of brownies baked while all this was going on. By the time I was all done with the dishes and the stove and oven were all turned off I could tell I was getting sick! A big spoonful of honey elixir, some airbornne, and a big jug of water and off to bed I went.

Honey/lemon/ginger elixir.  One with cinnamon, one with garlic.  I am ready for whatever comes!

Honey/lemon/ginger elixir. One with cinnamon, one with garlic. I am ready for whatever comes!

I was grateful I had got all these things cooked up. As it turns out, I spent the next 4 days in bed and the soup and elixir were perfect! My appetite was not at all affected by my virus. I was so grateful to have healthy foods ready to eat, because I did not have the energy to prepare them. It was a heat and eat week, all the while watching and listening to and enjoying my new baby chicks.

The first of my chicks.  I have a feeling there will be many more chicks in my future!

The first of my chicks. I have a feeling there will be many more chicks in my future!

The speckled Sussex are in! Time for a trip to town. This time I don’t want to come home and get sick! Just a nice trip to town to get my chicks and stock up on a few items that got used up over the week. Hoping you enjoyed the soups!