Not Your Grandmother’s Farmers Market

With spring’s arrival, my thoughts turn to planting a garden. I love gardens, and it doesn’t matter what kind: flower, bee, vegetable, whatever. I have fond memories of my Grandma Walter’s huge garden filled with green beans, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, strawberries, and what else I can’t remember anymore. Unfortunately, while I received her crafty, DIY, and gardening soul, I didn’t inherit her green thumb. My vegetable/fruit gardens have been dismal failures except for growing green beans.

When my boys were young, planting a garden was a spring break tradition. Each kiddo picked what he wanted to grow and together we nurtured the small plot along. Again, as I said with limited success, but what mattered was doing the project together. Now that my sons are on their own, planting a garden isn’t the same.

My son Zachary and the carrots he grew one year.

With my grim gardening skills, I’ve started doing the next best thing to growing my own fruits and vegies. I shop Farmers Markets. By doing so, not only do I get fresh produce at a great price, but the farmer receives more for his product. A win-win! But these “farmers” markets have broadened their horizons. No longer are they a group of folks selling produce from the back of pickups along the roadside. A lot are big shopping events. Communities, apartment complexes, and mall parking lots now host these farmers markets. They still have tomatoes, peaches, apples, green beans, squash along with an array of other fruits and vegetables. But now, they have products you might be as surprised as I was to find. Here are some of my favorites non fruit or vegetable items.

  • Candles
  • Plants for my house or yard
  • Pottery (I bought my mother-in-law a cool mug with a bird on it for Christmas last year.)
  • Honey
  • Dog treats, dog bandanas and other dog related items (I buy something from these vendors almost every time because you know me…I have a house full of dogs!)
  • Lotion candle (I love these, but they’re hard to find. When the candle melts  the warm liquid is lotion!)
  • Jewelry
  • Bath products: soap, body wash, shampoo, lotion, lip balm, bath salts

                           

 

Talk about one stop shopping!

To be entered in the giveaway for the cool T-shirt, yes I have this one, too, leave a comment on this question. What’s the most unique or your favorite produce item to buy at a farmers’ market?

Julie Benson’s Winner!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by today to talk and laugh about what item of technology we’d miss most if we lived in the Old West.

The winner of today’s giveaway is:  Denise Holcomb.

Congratulations! Look for an email from me on how to claim your giveaway. Thank you to everyone who spent part of your day with me discussing how hard it would be to live without modern conveniences. Stay safe out there!

Julie

Texas Snowmageddon

Hello from wacky weather Texas! The last of the snow melted here in Dallas on Friday. By Monday, our temperature was 81 degrees. Today as I write this, it’s 48, but that’s Texas for you. A weather roller coaster ride!

Here’s a picture of my view after the first snow.

 

What my family went through during Snowmageddon Texas Edition was nothing compared to what others endured. We only lost power for a day, and we never lost water service. Others were without power for a week or more. While our house pipes didn’t freeze, our pool froze over, though. My youngest son had fun doing a photo shoot with his penguin, Tama, to memorialize our adventures. The only damage we sustained was broken pool equipment pipes. Unfortunately, so many others have not been as lucky. Houses have been destroyed by burst pipes and for some safe water is still an issue.

   

My small adventure brought back memories of my grandparents’ northeastern Iowa farm and reminded me how difficult daily life could be in the past. My grandparents’ house had electricity but lacked running water and indoor plumbing. A gas heater warmed the downstairs. I can still picture it—a giant brown rectangle that stood in the living room. It had a glass window through which we could see flames. It was the monsterish kind that scared poor young Kevin in Home Alone. Upstairs we went without heat.

My grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa

A simple task such as bathing a preschool me and my brother Saturday night to attend church on Sunday was a major project. My grandma would pull a dented round galvanized tub into the kitchen. Water had to be hauled from the pump by the milk house. After that, she boiled water on the stove to mix with the colder water to eventually get bath water. No wonder folks in the past only bathed once a week and didn’t have to worry about exercising! Daily life provided all the workout they needed. Sleeping upstairs in the winter meant wearing the warmest jammies possible and sleeping under mounds of blankets. And don’t even ask me about the outhouse…

I’ve always loved reading historical romances, but the recent snowstorm reminded me how we romanticize 🙂 the past. My small taste of life without electricity during Snowmageddon reminded me how past generations had to be strong, determined, and tough or they didn’t survive. Our favorite historical authors incredibly weave the feeling of the time period and daily life into their stories. They transport us to a time we often wish we could visit. After my recent short technology deprived stint , I’m thankful they don’t make the trip too realistic, and now I appreciate their talent of knowing what of past time periods to leave out even more. The past is a nice place to visit in a novel, but as for me, I wouldn’t want to live there!

Please continue to pray for those struggling to overcome the effects of the snowstorm. For many recovery will be a long, expensive process.

To be entered in today’s giveaway for the thankful, grateful, blessed sink mate and llama chip clips, comment on this question. What would be the toughest modern day item or technology for you to do without if you lived in the Old West?

Julie Benson’s Giveaway

Congratulations to my Wednesday early Valentine’s Day blog winner…

Colleen

Look for an email from me regarding how to claim your giveaway.

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p style=”text-align: center;”>Thank you to everyone who stopped by and left a comment about your favorite Valentine’s Day treats. 

Happy Valentine’s Day–A Little Early

I know Valentine’s Day is eleven days away, but I never seem to think about the day soon enough. That means I end up running around like crazy trying to do something special. In order to keep that from happening this year and in case you need ideas, I’m sharing some Valentine’s Day facts and one of my favorite (and easy dessert) recipes for tiramisu.

  • Over 36 million heart shaped boxes of chocolate are sold every year.
  • Men spend about twice money as much on Valentine’s Day gifts as women.
  • Teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day cards, followed by kids, then moms, wives and girlfriends.
  • More than one-third of men are okay not receiving anything on Valentine’s Day.
  • The only other day when more flowers are sold than Valentine’s Day is Mother’s Day.
  • Candy hearts were invented by a pharmacist and were originally medical lozenges! Not only that, but 10 new sayings are introduced every year.  
  • People prefer receiving candy over flowers.
  • Caramels are the most popular candy in a box of chocolates.
  • 40% of people prefer an “experience gift” such as concert tickets or an evening out.
  • 3 out of 10 people say they skip celebrating Valentine’s Day, though they might treat themselves to a small gift or a night out with friends.
  • It was bad luck to sign Valentine cards in Victorian times.
  • 3% of pet owners will give their pet a gift this Valentine’s Day.
  • In Finland Valentine’s Day is called Ystavapaiva which translates to “Friend’s Day.”

I think making Valentine’s Day about celebrating everyone we care about and appreciate in our lives is fabulous! That could prevent the holiday from being one where so many people feel excluded. This year, let’s all reach out to one person who might feel left out or despondent on Valentine’s Day—a single friend, a widow or widower immediately come to mind. I’m reminded of the song “Love is Something if You Give it Away.” For the lyrics click here. The more love we share, the more we create in this world.

Now on to dessert!

Ingredients—

8 oz. Mascarpone cheese

½ C powdered sugar

½ tsp run extract

1 C heavy whipping cream

Lady fingers

½ C coffee

2 tsp cocoa

Directions–

1. Place Mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, and run extract in large bowl. Whisk by hand or with electric mixer until smooth. Don’t over mix.

2. In separate bowl, beat whip cream until stiff peaks form. (If the whip cream isn’t stiff you’ll get a runny filling.) Fold into cheese mixture until combined.

3. Place lady fingers in 8 x 8 dish. Spoon coffee over ladyfingers making sure to cover completely. Top with half the cheese mixture. Layer more ladyfingers on top of this and cover with remaining cheese mixture. (Recipe calls for 3 layers using 1/3 each time, but I only do 2 .) Sift cocoa powder over top.

4. Chill at least 4 hours before serving.

5. Top with whip cream, or not. Enjoy with a friend or family!

To be entered in today’s giveaway for a valentine T-shirt and a copy of Home On the Ranch:  Colorado Rescue leave a comment about your favorite Valentine’s Day treat.

Julie Benson’s Winner!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by today to talk and laugh about how two words, like and totally, can change the tone of famous quotes.

The winner of today’s giveaway is:

Sarah Taylor

Congratulations, Sarah! Look for an email from me on how to claim your giveaway. Thank you everyone who spent part of your day with me. Here’s to like, a totally great 2021!

                                      Julie

I’m Like, Totally Your Huckleberry

Lots of us have had tough years personally before, but not in my lifetime have we as a human race had such a difficult year. If you’re like me, New Year’s held a new significance and you’re thankful to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. Hopeful for 2021, I tried writing about the activities I desperately miss and appreciate more since COVID-19. I hope this year to return to treating myself to a mani-pedi (I’m so relieved it’s closed toe shoe season!), getting a haircut every six to eight weeks instead of twice a year, going to lunch with friends and sitting close enough we don’t need walkie-talkies to converse, and window shopping. Somehow instead of being the hopeful post I intended, I found myself needing a break from thinking about COVID and the harsh realities it’s brought crashing down on our lives.

Also needing to laugh, I turned to a book I discovered in Glassboro, New Jersey visiting my son. When the title caught my eye, This Is Like, Totally a Quote Book, I had to open it. The dedication had me LOLing. “This book is dedicated to the eminent individuals whose words are parodied herein. We’d like to imagine each of them, living or dead, getting a chuckle out of it. We only wish we could invite them all to dinner. * That would be, like, totally an amazing party. *Except maybe Hannibal Lecter.”

 

 

The book takes famous quotes and inserts the phrase like, totally. Having been part of the generation that thought those words were so cool, I couldn’t stop reading. The next thing I knew I was reading quotes to my husband. So today, in hopes of making you smile and showing how adding two words can change a sentence, I’ve tweaked some famous quotes.

  • The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in like, totally rising every time we fall.” -Nelson Mandela
  • The way to get started is to like, totally quit talking and begin doing. -Walt Disney
  • Life is what happens like, when you’re busy totally making other plans. -John Lennon
  • To be or like, totally not to be. -William Shakespeare
  • When you reach the end of your rope, like tie a knot in it and totally hang on. -Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but like, totally by the seeds that you plant. -Robert Louis Stevenson
  • It is during our darkest moments that we must like, totally focus to see the light. -Aristotle

Here’s some modified western/cowboy sayings from grammar.yourdictionary.com.

  • Some cowboys have like, totally too much tumbleweed in their blood to settle down.
  • When you’re throwin’ your weight around, be like, totally ready to have it thrown around by someone else.
  • Always like, totally drink upstream from the herd.
  • Never ask how stupid someone is ‘cause they’ll like, turn around and totally show you.
  • The only good reason to ride a bull is to like, totally meet a nurse.

And my favorite…

  • Never like, jump a barbed wire fence totally naked.

I hope these changes to famous quotes made you chuckle. To be entered in the random drawing for today’s giveaway of the sparkly Peace sign and a signed copy of Home on the Ranch:  Family Ties share a quote and like, totally parody it in This Is Like, Totally a Quote Book style. Here’s to 2021. May your year be blessed, and wishing you like, totally the best year ever!

 

Julie Benson’s Winner!!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by today to talk about wisdom we’ve learned from pets.

The winner of the mug and A Cure For the Vet is:

DHolcomb

Congratulations! Look for an email from me on how to claim your giveaway. Thank you everyone who spent part of your day with me. Stay safe out there!

                                      Julie

Barks To Live By

As I waited in the pharmacy for my flu shot, I checked out a book display. Among various inspirational books was Wise Dogs by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. and Dale C. Spartas. The book pairs words of wisdom with beautiful dog photos. The small book brightened my day and got me thinking.

Animals have always been there for me during good times and rough patches. They never judge, love unconditionally, are fantastic listeners, and never share my secrets.

Our newest addition to the family, Addie.

But pets offer more than companionship. Studies show they can improve our mood and immune systems, reduce stress, anxiety, and lower blood pressure. (A common statement in my house when someone’s cranky is “Will you pet a dog to lower your blood pressure and calm down?” It’s also a handy excuse. “Sorry. I can’t _______. I’m lowering my blood pressure now.”) There are stories of people who would’ve committed suicide if not for having a pet to care for.

I have a “Dogilosophy” coaster. If you can’t read it in the picture it says, “Listen more than you speak. Act like you have purpose. Appreciate a simple life. Give more than you receive. Be happy with what you have. Be a best friend.” What fabulous advice. Ever since, I’ve tried to follow this.

Jack and foster Mindy helping me write this post.

I’ve added to this list of what dogs and pets have taught me from Wise Dogs, bestlifeonline.com, and the Huffington Post.

  • Live in the moment/Enjoy life/Enjoy the journey—I think this is especially important now with social media. How often do we see people ignoring those around them in favor of their phone? Some people are so busy posting what they’re doing they’re not really present in what’s happening. I’ve learned sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Wise Dogs says, “Who you’re with is always more important than where you are.”
  • Walk more—Very few of us get enough exercise. I know I don’t. (I’m adding walking the dogs more to my resolutions.)
  • Drink more water—Again I’m adding to things to work on in 2021!
  • Greet everyone with enthusiasm/Jump for joy when you’re happy—We don’t celebrate successes and the positives in our lives enough. Dogs do. Finding a stick, barking at a squirrel outside the window, their human coming back after checking for mail are all celebrated with gusto.
    Jack greeting my youngest son with enthusiasm!
  • Everyone needs a hand to hold and a heart to understand—This has been difficult with COVID-19. We need to find other ways to stay connected such as notes and phone calls.
  • Play and run daily—We need to have more fun!
  • Be loyal/Defend and protect those you love—Truly good friends are a rare gift and should be treated as such.
  • Don’t hold a grudge/Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship/Leave the past in the past—I’ve fostered dogs who came from terrible situations that are still capable of love. They don’t let their tragic past steal their future.
  • Family doesn’t have to be blood—I’m a big believer the one and the theme runs through many of my books.

Don’t have the time or space for a pet? Consider volunteering at an animal shelter walking dogs or playing with cats or dogs. Or, visit a friend with a pet. I bet you’ll receive health benefits.

As we thankfully approach the end of 2020, I pray 2021 is better for the people who have suffered or still are and may we all be a more like pets. I’ll leave you with one last quote from Wise Dogs. “May your dreams defy the laws of gravity.”

Today’s giveaway is a “live like someone left the gate open” (one of my favorite sayings) mug and A Cure For the Vet which contains my book The Rancher and the Vet. My heroine, Avery McAlister, is a veterinarian who runs an animal shelter. To be entered in the random drawing, comment on this question. Of the above lessons from dogs, what’s your favorite?