Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day. How Many American Flags Will You See Today?

It would be hard to live through an entire Memorial Day in the US without seeing a single American flag. Whether they are waving in the wind, printed on the paper plates at a party, or imprinted on the t-shirt of a friend, there will be lots of American flags displayed today.

Many American flags will fly on Memorial Day.

American flags on Memorial Day are more than just a festive patriotic touch to a three-day weekend. They are a symbol of every freedom Americans enjoy and are a reminder to honor all the individuals who have kept our country free.  A three-day weekend is fun, but Memorial Day is not a happy event.

My perfect world is one where there is no need for the military. Humans work everything out with words and

Friday, May 27, 2016

Red, White, and Blue. Add an Easy Patriotic Touch to Any Treat!

I have a little tip for adding an easy patriotic or festive touch to almost any dessert.  A simple homemade red, white, and blue candy garnish can make any dessert more American, or you can use the colors of whatever country/event/club/organization that you are celebrating.

Make any treat more patriotic or special with this easy touch

Treats such as cherry pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie, a flag cake, or red, white, and blue muffins are always a hit on an American holiday such as Memorial Day, July 4th or Labor Day. 

However, you are not limited by these choices. You can make almost any dessert special for the occasion with a quick little candy treat. Cakes, pies, cookies, and bars can all be made patriotic and festive with them, and you can even place a candy garnish or two gently on the top of a pudding or custard (or on a plate beside them.)

A snowflake garnish makes chocolate mousse even more special for a winter party.
I decorated individual servings of white chocolate mousse with snowflake candy decorations for a fancy winter party.

Even if you buy a dessert instead of making one, you can make it more special with this decorating trick!

How to Make Candy Garnishes for Desserts

All that you need is a few minutes and:

Monday, May 23, 2016

I'm Still Not Ready for Graduation, But I've Been Syndicated!

It's now less than two weeks until my son's high school graduation.  I got a few more things crossed off my list this week. The announcements are being delivered and the guest room is ready. But there is still a lot to do. I need to get busy!

Something pretty exciting has come from my pre-graduation checklist, though. The post I wrote about it has been syndicated by the online magazine BonBon Break and it is published on their website today. 

I hope you'll head over to BonBon Break today and see it there. I'd appreciate it if you'd leave a comment there or share the article. I'd love it if BonBon Break realizes they are getting a little bit of traffic to their site from me. 

While at BonBon Break, be sure to take a look around.  They publish so many really interesting and well-written articles, it's hard to decide which one to read first.  Then, I hope you'll come back here and tell me what you think.

Here's the link to where you can find my article on their site:

Thank you for reading, and for clicking through, commenting and sharing!

Do you know anyone graduating from high school or college this year?

Had you ever visited or heard of Bonbon Break before?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

How to Divide Cake Batter: An Easy Tip for Even Layers

I have loved to bake cakes for as long as I can remember.

For years, however, the task of making a two-layer cake intimidated me.  It never seemed like I could get the layers to bake evenly, and my cakes were always lopsided.

A double layer cake

One summer when I was in high school, we were visiting my grandparents in Pennsylvania. Various family members were coming to dinner for my grandfather's birthday. I offered to make the birthday cake, and my grandmother supplied me with a cake mix.

We had been living in Spain, and the only cakes I had ever made were from scratch. By comparison, the cake mix seemed so easy.  My cake layers (of course) were horribly uneven, but I decided it was nothing that a lot of icing couldn't fix! Using the only chocolate frosting recipe I knew, I made up a batch of frosting and smeared it between and on top of the two layers until the top appeared flat and smooth.

Later that day, to my horror, I realized that one layer had slid nearly off the other, and the whole cake was breaking into pieces. The heavy frosting had just been too much for the light and airy cake texture that the cake mix had produced.

I was mortified and begged my grandmother to let me make another cake before dinner. She saw no sense in wasting what would still be a delicious dessert, and scooped it into a 9 x13 inch pan. She told me we would serve it from the kitchen, and "no one would ever know."

My grandfather had a sense of humor. He had caught on that something was not quite right with his cake. When we started bringing plates of cake to the table he said, "But, where's my birthday cake? I want to see

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Respect Wildlife and Keep Your Distance

Both deer and elk frequently feed, roam, and sleep on our property. We respect all wildlife that visits us and never try to get too close. With any wild animal, it is always wise to keep your distance.

Always respect wildlife and do not approach them.

Our house sits on about seven acres. One day, not long after we moved to Montana, I was wandering up our back hill. Suddenly, I stopped. One more step and my foot would have landed on a fawn! This little baby deer was laying motionless, still breathing but giving no sign that it was conscious or aware of me. I knew better than to touch it, but I was quite concerned when I realized a mother deer was not nearby.

I waited about an hour, then climbed the hill again. The baby was exactly where it had been before. Still no mama in sight. Hours later, there was still no sign of her. I assumed she would be back, but I was a little worried. Could the doe have been run off by a dog, or hit by a car? I love animals, and couldn't help but worry about this little deer.

However, I did NOT try to touch it or move it or feed it. Instead, I decided to consult an expert to ask if there was anything either their department or I should do. I called Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and explained my concern. They assured me the mother would be back. Apparently, does often go off in search of food and leave their young; the babies know to curl up and stay still if approached. Sure enough, the next day the fawn was gone.

Every spring I am reminded of almost stumbling on this little deer when I read newspaper articles of someone showing harmful concern for newborn animals.  One example of this occurred a while back in Yellowstone National Park. Tourists may have had good intentions, but they meddled in something they didn't understand and caused the unfortunate death of the very animal they were trying to save.

It was reported that on May 9th, 2016 some Yellowstone Park tourists became concerned that a newborn bison calf was cold, so they put it in the back of their vehicle and took it to the ranger's station. Their actions led to a $110 fine for them and the death of the poor little calf.

Wildlife should not be approached.

Visitors to Yellowstone Park "must stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards from other large animals." (Bison are considered a 'large' animals.) This rule is meant to protect humans from becoming injured by the animals, which are all wild and unpredictable. The purpose of the rule is also to protect the animals who live in the park from humans. Did you know bison can sprint up to 30 mph; three times faster than a human can run?

Apparently, as a result of being handled, the bison cub was rejected by the herd and attempts to reunite it with them failed. The calf continued to approach people and cars, so it had to be euthanized. This could have been avoided if the tourists had just left it where it was and found a ranger, reported the situation and explained their concern. The ranger would surely have explained that newborn bison calves can survive much colder temperatures than the weather had been that day. 

Sometimes our good intentions are not enough. Both my story about the solitary little fawn and this recent event in Yellowstone clearly illustrate that wildlife should be left alone.

Elk come right into our fenced back yard.

Have you ever approached a wild animal?
How did that work out?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A List of 10 Things To Do Before Graduation Day

My son graduates from high school in just THREE weeks! There's a lot to be done before graduation!

A pre-graduation list for parents

This morning I made a list of things that need to be done, in order to celebrate this milestone. I'm sharing it here today, along with a few tips for how to get these preparations accomplished.

1.  The senior must still finish school!

Senioritis is a real thing. But colleges do look at those final grades, so encourage your kid to give it one last push.

2.  Be sure the senior has no outstanding debts with the school

Have your student check with the administrative office to be sure they have no outstanding fees,

Thursday, May 12, 2016

5 Reasons For Writer's Block & How To Overcome It

I've been suffering a kind of writer's block and that's why it's been a whole week since I've published anything. Today, I'm writing about some of the reasons for writer's block and ways to overcome them. 

Image 1. 5 Reasons for writer's block and how to overcome it.

We usually think of writers' block as a situation when the writer just can't come up with anything to write. But that's not always the reason.

A lack of ideas is not what has been stopping me from writing. The ideas are flowing; efficiency and

Thursday, May 5, 2016

I Want to Share the Perfume of Our Cherry Tree

My favorite tree on our property is probably the Canada Red Cherry tree we planted shortly after we moved here. It has grown a lot over the years and is visible from several windows in the house. Right now, it is in full bloom and buzzing with the activity of visiting birds and bees.

I wish I could share the intoxicating fragrance from these blossoms with you, but instead, I am publishing this photo for you to see. Isn't it beautiful?

Canada Red Cherry Tree in bloom

You may have actually seen a photo or two of this tree before. I've published pictures of it several times here on this blog.  For example, it appeared in these two posts:

Spring is here in Montana, and the landscape is becoming really green. I'm actually thinking it might be safe to take the snow tires off the cars next week! (You can read about why I always wait until May to switch our tires out in a post I wrote about winter driving and my car sliding off the driveway by clicking here

I hope you are having a wonderful day - and I am sorry I can't share the delightful scent that is wafting through my open windows with you today.

What is your favorite thing about Spring?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Yummy (Easy) Dessert for Cinco de Mayo or any Mexican meal.

It is almost Cinco de Mayo, so today I am sharing a dessert recipe that is one of my favorite endings to a Mexican meal. If you make my Sopapilla Cheesecake Squares, this recipe will probably become a favorite of yours too! 

Image 1 sopapilla cheesecake squares

It seems like practically everyone likes Mexican Food.

Mmmm. Mexican food.  It's so yummy and a perfect menu choice for a party, especially on the festive occasion of Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May.) 

Before I share my dessert recipe, I have a suggestion for an easy Mexican main dish you might want to make, as well.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mayday, mayday. I can't believe it's already May 1st!

The title of this post is both an expression of joy and a cry of distress. I am so glad spring is here - but how can it be MAY already?

May 1st - a mayday distress call or a day to celebrate?

Okay, so I am not really sending out a distress signal. 

To truly use the established cry for help, I should have typed the words "mayday" three times instead of twice for this title. But, in the United States, it is apparently a punishable offense to falsely declare a "mayday" - and I'm not taking any chances!

May 1st and so much to do.

I went to bed late last night, and the sun was streaming in my window when I awoke. My first thought was a cheery one - "It's May Day - Yay!" Then I remembered. May is followed by June. Actually, I'm okay with it