Category Archives: House Happenings

Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce & A Magazine Cover

It’s almost the middle of July already….holy cow!! It’s just crazy how fast time goes by. I swear June flew by and I barely remember it at all…..no kidding!

My family and I had a busy 4th of July and that was rolled into my birthday on the 7th. I’ve always loved the 4th of July holiday because I felt like I got extra celebrating in for my birthday. The day after my birthday is also great because it’s the day my mom was born. If she could have held out a couple more hours we would have shared a day. I always tell her what a great birthday present I must have been….she just rolls her eyes at me. 🙂

I had a great few days of birthday celebration starting on the 2nd. We went to a kids rodeo in Crawford (it’s such a treat to see my son and the other youngsters learning the competition ropes in the arena). The 3rd and 4th of July we helped out at the Old West Trail Rodeo in Crawford. I helped distribute flags to the queens for the sponsor runs. If you have no idea what I am talking about you may want to pay attention. I actually kind of thought “how hard can it be…..all I have to do is hand flags to the queens”. Yeah, right…..you have to hand the right flag to the right queen at the right time…..throughout the entire rodeo. When they do the sponsor run (all flags out) it is like a war zone. I can’t remember the exact count, but there are something like 25 flags or so…..it’s just crazy! It went well through because I got to work with two great gals so that made it easier. Shane ran the roping chute during the rodeo. That’s not an easy job either…..you must pay very close attention to the roper nodding his head. He also helped all through the slack on the night of the 3rd after the rodeo and helped feed the stock. He got to our trailer and went to bed at 3 am! During the day of the 4th we were in the parade promoting the Cowgirl Swank Classic – Women’s Ranch Rodeo. It is coming up on the 19th and 20th so I’ve also been really busy planning it. After the parade we went to Fort Robinson to tour the grounds and stables. We also checked out the art exhibit there. What a great place that is! We had a fun few days, but we were worn out by the night of the 4th (we got home at 2 am).

Also, on the 3rd I was surprised and thrilled to be featured in Real American Cowboys Magazine. Not only was I the feature store, but I was on the cover!!! My hopes of being a cover model have no been fulfilled (j/k). 🙂 Here it all is:

Picture Quality RACM Cover

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Katie Barlett, who is originally from Australia, but now resides in Texas wrote the article. She did a great job! As thrilling as it was to be on the cover I doubt that Cosmo will be calling anytime soon. 🙂

I mentioned earlier that I’ve been busy planning our upcoming women’s ranch rodeo. If you’ve never put on a rodeo before, it’s unbelievable the amount of work that goes into it. I certainly couldn’t do it alone. I’m very thankful for good friends to help me put on a great weekend. If you want to check it out, here is our website:  www.cowgirlswankclassic.com.

Even though I have been busy with all sorts of things, I decided yesterday to make a cake I had seen the day before on Facebook:  Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce. How yummy does that sound?! Without further ado, here it is:

Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce

For Apple cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 large apples, cored and grated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional- I leave them out)

For Vanilla Sauce (Makes 3/4 cup.)
•1 cup water
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tablespoon cornstarch
•2 tablespoons butter
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•pinch salt

Apple Cake Directions

Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs one at time.

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Add grated apples.

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Sift together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add in half of flour mixture stir in until incorporated, add second half and still until just mixed. (I stir in the flour by hand to avoid over-mixing.)

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Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. (less if you bake convection)

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Vanilla Sauce Directions

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine sugar and cornstarch, blend well. Add sugar and cornstarch mixture to boiling water; reduce heat to medium, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened.

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Remove from heat and add the butter, vanilla, and salt, stirring until butter is melted.

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Spoon over dessert Enjoy!

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How was it? Amazing!!! I let the cake cool quite a bit then I made the sauce to put over the top…..YUM!!! Hope you give it a whirl…it’s going in my recipe box as a keeper (great way to use up apples when needed)! ~Cheyenne

 

Crispies…..aka…How I caught My Hubby!

It’s another rainy, windy day here on the ranch. Windy may be an understatement….it actually sounds like a freight train outside. It feels like March outside and not the almost beginning of May…..ready for some nice weather that sticks around!

I was elated to see the cattle in such good shape on my check this morning. We have had close to 4″ of rain in the last two days mixed with snow and howling winds. It always amazes me how tough cattle are! Here are a few sights from today:

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I heaved a sigh of relief at how well everything looks. The running water is just the beginning of what we may be dealing with in a day or so. The pool above is about 15 feet deep already! It is crazy muddy out here and I won’t be surprised if I don’t get to town until Friday. Stone’s preschool graduation is in the evening so we are hoping we can make it in for that.

While the weather may be cruddy right now for outdoor activities it comes at a good time for me for baking. I’ve been planning the menu for our upcoming branding on Mother’s Day (this is our annual tradition). Branding is one of the most important days of the year for a rancher and ours is no exception. We like to work hard with friends and neighbors to get the job done as quickly and safely as possible. Then we celebrate with good food and entertainment….shotgun style. We shoot skeet after we eat….sometimes it goes until dark. It’s a blast….literally! 🙂

I pretty much have our branding menu planned. I decided instead of getting caramel rolls from the bakery in town I would do some baking ahead of time. This weather has served well so I can spend some time in the kitchen. When considering what to serve at our branding one has to take several things into consideration. Brandings are not a leisurely outing…..they are intense and very focused events. The treats we serve need to be hearty and mess free for the most part. There is no time for a plate, fork, and knife during our break. Treats need to be mobile, good, and filling. When I was thinking about what to make one things popped into my mind….CRISPIES!!!! If you’ve never had a Crispie, let me just say that you haven’t lived yet until you’ve had one……or two…..or three! The recipe goes back to my Grandma June (It’s awesome how I can pull out one of her recipes and I instantly feel connected to her – she passed away a little over two years ago…..I miss her a lot). My mom makes them often so it’s only fitting that the succession of making them falls to me.

What I said in the title line is true about Crispies……I believe they helped me “catch” my hubby. 🙂 I laugh about it, but I honestly think it’s true a little bit at least! My husband and I had been dating for a couple of months. I had cooked for him and his buddies while he was working on a place as a hired hand. They needed some good nourishment during calving season and they were always very appreciative when I cooked. I had never done a lot of baking when I was younger, but for some reason I felt the need to prove myself in the kitchen. So, I got out the big guns…..I called my mom! She emailed me the recipe for Crispies……I made them…..and it was love at first taste. Haha!! I really had no idea that Shane had such a sweet tooth and that he loved homemade baked goods. BUT…..no matter who you are…..once you try one of these you will know why he fell head over heels in love with me after that first taste. (I’m joking a little…..I personally think he was head over heels for me before that….as I was with him, but handiness in the kitchen can only sweeten the deal….right?) 🙂

Here is the recipe……you can thank me later! 🙂

Crispies

  • 1 pkg. yeast, dissolved in ¼ cup warm water (almost hot)
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine (softened a little, but not melted)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
  • Cinnamon & Sugar (sprinkled on dough till covered)

In a small bowl dissolve yeast in water. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, and ¼ cup sugar. Cut in butter with a fork.

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Combine eggs, milk, and yeast.

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Add to flour.

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Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

When ready, take dough out of the fridge.

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Divide it in half. Roll out and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

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Roll and cut slices with a piece of thread or string (slip it under the rolled up dough and put together – a knife will get all doughy).

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(Yes, I used fishing line – don’t worry it was new, unused, and still sealed in the package…..I had to improvise out here in the wet gumbo so far from town!)

Place on greased sheet and flatten with hand.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. The bottoms should only be light brown. Do not brown on top as they will get tough. Frost while hot.

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Frosting

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp. hot water
  • 1 TB. butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla or almond flavoring

Stir all ingredients together and spread with a knife (less is more as the thick frosting will get runny when on the warm Crispies). Remember to have frosting ready so you can put it on right away.

Repeat with the second half of the dough.

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And VOILA!!!!

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Deliciousness abounds!!! BUT….be careful of Crispie thieves….they are everywhere!! 🙂

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I hope you try these…..everyone who eats one will comment on them….want the recipe…..kiss you…..or you may even get a marriage proposal out of it…..so beware! 🙂 ~Cheyenne

 

Back It Up!!

Yesterday was not the best day I ever had. It wasn’t the worst day either, but it was cause for me to have a mild freak out. What would cause that, you ask? Let me tell you….it was my Quickbooks program. I am the bookkeeper on the ranch and I also fill that role in my business as well. To keep everything separate I use two different programs: Quicken for the ranch and Quickbooks for my business. Quickbooks is fairly new to me. I got it mostly to assist with invoicing and check writing. It also helped with retail transactions when I opened my store. I am quite proficient on Quicken since I’ve been using it since 2005. I’m not as familiar with Quickbooks as I’ve only been using it for about 15 months.

I’ve had our ranch accounts balanced and finished since January (a record for me). I’m usually down to the wire with these things and I swore I wouldn’t be this year. My attention to the ranch’s bookkeeping just how I wanted it to be. My business on the other hand was a nightmare. It literally took me three solid days of sitting down and manually entering every transaction to get it correct. I finished late last week and sent it off to my accountant. I was happy and relieved to be done with it. I didn’t get it done as early as I would have liked, but I wasn’t sliding in on April 14th either so I was satisfied. Whew!

I was paying bills yesterday at the shop and came to the realization that my landlords name was missing. I searched and searched for it, but couldn’t find it. This prompted me to search my check register in the program to see when I last entered her name. It wasn’t there and neither was all of the expenses for 2013 plus the majority of my 2014 transactions were all gone. Three days of manual entering was GONE?! Yep, gone! I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I searched and searched as well as I could not knowing Quickbooks like the back of my hand. I hurried and called my accountant. She looked at what I had emailed her and said that she had the same thing. Insert scary music here! She had me come down with my laptop so she could try to find it. She looked in files and in my backups, but the sad truth was all of my 2013 expenses were gone….vanished into cyber space.

Girl Computer (This was me!)

I honestly felt like crying. I know…what good would that do?! I don’t know, but it seemed like the logical choice at the moment. Then I thought about getting drunk. I quickly realized that wouldn’t help either (especially since after two drinks I’m done for). So, I went back to the shop and finished out the day. I came home and listened to my husband as he tried to explain what I should do next time. It’s funny how this happens every once in a while (slight smirk here). He was right though. I should have backed it up on an external hard drive or a disc as he suggested. My online backups were useless.

Mean Computer(I swear this was my computer!)

It’s a sad thing when an electronic device holds so much power over us. Don’t’ get me wrong, I love most all modern conveniences (you won’t find me without my iPhone very often). Computers are a wonderful thing…..when they work correctly. When they don’t, misery can ensue like a swarm of mad hornets. I don’t long for the days of using a pencil and a ledger for keeping track of things, but it would be nice if things would just “work”. It’s kind of like when working cows I guess. Some days they work so well you almost think they sorted or worked themselves. Some days are kind of like my current problem.

I would love the opportunity to negotiate with Quickbooks the way I negotiate with our cattle sometimes. Do it my way and life is good. Try to do it your way and I will “make” you do it my way. One way or another, I come out on top. The sad thing is my computer cares not that I’m in a bind. It doesn’t care that it is calving season and I really don’t have time for this. In reality, I shouldn’t even be writing this. I should be entering transactions back into Quickbooks. I’m in a bit in denial right now. I’m going to finish my coffee, go out and check the cows. When I get back I will tackle this nightmare. I’d like to say that I’m looking forward to it, but the truth is I’d rather go muck out a dirty cattle pot with a spoon than enter all of these transactions again. Yes, that’s how horrible this is to me! I guess I definitely learned a lesson in all of this. No matter what, hook up my external drive and back it up. Duly noted!

On a positive note, after I wrote this I called a childhood friend of mine, Jeremy, who owns ProTech Computing in Gillette, Wyoming. I figured one more try to find my lost information couldn’t hurt. He was able to remotely access my computer and after a bit he located all that I had lost. I was so elated I didn’t know what to do. I guess the moral of the story is always….and I mean, always back up your important stuff. And if you are lucky like me, you have a friend out there who knows a thing or two about computers. Until next time, I’ll be backing things up around here (probably to an OCD level)! ~Cheyenne

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys/Cowgirls!

Thursday, March 27th was my husband’s birthday! I’ve always felt kind of bad for him having his birthday during calving season. However, it never seems to phase him in the least. Most years we don’t go anywhere. We usually celebrate at home with his favorite meal for supper, cake, and presents. This year was a bit different and I was glad about that.

A few weeks ago I heard that Fred Whitfield (8 time World Champion Calf Roper) was coming to Chadron State College as a featured presenter. I was excited! I had met Fred back at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in 2012. It was a brief encounter with nothing more than a quick snapshot of the two of us together.  Here is that picture:

Fred and Me

Shane and I talked about going to see Fred when he came to town, but it was left with the usual “we’ll see how it goes”…meaning….if the weather is good, if there isn’t a heifer calving, if a number of other problems don’t occur…..life on the ranch….you know?! 🙂 Anyway, March 27th arrived and except for almost 50 head of our cows getting out of the calving pasture it was a fairly uneventful day. We rounded the cows back up and got them put back in the calving pasture. All was well in the heifer lot so we headed to town to see Fred and have supper with friends afterwards.

We picked up Shane’s cake. I haven’t had much time to bake lately so this was my best course of action. Kathy Bishop at Cakes & Etc. in Chadron always does a great job! Here is what she came up with:

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Once we got the cake we headed up to the college where Fred was speaking. We got there fairly early so only a handful of people were ahead of us to get Fred’s autograph. Our turn came fairly soon!

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We even managed to get a family pic with Fred!

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Fred’s speech/presentation wasn’t one of great structure (he doesn’t claim to be a professional speaker). It was more of a question and answer session, which I really enjoyed. He talked about his book, “Gold Buckles Don’t Lie”. (If you haven’t read it, you really need to. There is a lot to know behind the scenes that is talked about in there.) He was really open and candid. We all enjoyed it immensely.

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I had the pleasure of meeting his wife, Cassie. At the Cowgirl Swank shop, Kayla and I got together a “Rodeo Wife” cap for her and a couple of caps for their daughters. I presented it to Cassie and she loved it. Here we are together (she’s even wearing her new cap)!

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My son was quite enamored with Fred. He just couldn’t get enough! Here he is again after he snuck back into the autograph line with his friend, Travon Bass.

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Here is where I tell you truthfully that “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys/Cowgirls”. It’s true…..my husband, my grandpa, my dad, Fred Whitfield, Casey Tibbs, Chad Ferley, Lisa Lockhart, my mom, Charmayne James, my fellow ranch rodeo gals, all the way to the little neighbor boy learning to rope, etc……My list could go on forever! Truly though….they are all my heroes! I look up to each of them! I think it’s utterly important in life to surround yourself with positive influences and people you aspire to be like (look up to). That’s what we do in our family. We always reach for the stars in whatever we set our minds to……and being around champions is good for your outlook on life! Who do you admire? Have you made it a point to put positive influences in your life? If not, will you? This a good question to ask yourself. You only live once…..why not live it striving to be a better person each and every day however you can? ~Cheyenne

Oral Surgery Ordeal

Wow…..what a tumultuous couple of days we have had. We went through Stone having oral surgery in Rapid City yesterday and got to travel home 100 miles….the last 8 of which were in the lovely gumbo mud that I’m so fond of (yeah, right….). We were all exhausted by the time we got home.

We went up to Rapid City on Monday afternoon. We had some errands to run and wanted to get together with my cousin, ReAnn, to celebrate her belated birthday. We also planned to stay at the Ramkota because of their little water park. Stone loves it and it’s better than the larger water park in town (Watiki) in my opinion. The last few times we stayed at Watiki we all got sick the first time, the last time I got folliculitis and Stone got a rash/flakiness in his hair….not good. Both require medication to get rid of so I’m not a fan of Watiki any longer. Anyway……we wanted Stone to have some fun before he underwent oral surgery early the next morning so that was our plan.

We got our errands done and met ReAnn at Minerva’s for supper. She brought her daughter, Rylee, along. Stone and Rylee are cousins….and good buddies. We had only eaten breakfast at Minerva’s before as it is connected to the Ramkota so it was perfect the last time we stayed there to grab a bite before we checked out. I have heard good things about Minerva’s and was excited to eat there. I’m happy to report that it was delicious! ReAnn and Shane each had cheeseburgers, Rylee and Stone had buttered noodles, and I splurged…..I had the Canadian Walleye. Oh my gosh….it was awesome! The salad bar was out of this world also. It was fun to get together with them and enjoy some time together. After we finished, they headed home and we headed off to the pool.

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We all swam and had a great time. We met some nice folks there who had two kids. Stone played and we visited. Shane and I went down the water slide (me….just once). I swallowed half the pool so once was more than enough for me! It was fun though…..I truly enjoy making memories like this with my family. Shane stayed and visited some more. I took Stone to the room to get showered. He was hungry so we ordered a pizza from Minerva’s. I wanted him to eat since he couldn’t eat or drink past midnight until after his surgery (we had no idea how he would do so I didn’t want him hungry if we could help it). We walked down and got the pizza…..Stone ate 3/4 of it by himself. It was hand-tossed and grilled. Holy cow….it was to die for!!! Minerva’s definitely get a thumbs up in my opinion!

We got up the next morning at 6 am…..and it was snowing and blowing like crazy. Shane held Stone and I drove the back streets to get to the surgery center. We made it 15 minutes early. I was nerve wracked….mostly because of his surgery. It’s a funny thing when you have children…..I can have anything done to myself, but when it comes to my son…..I freak out. Not even a little bit either…..I did pretty good and disguising it from him though (Shane said he could see how freaked I was in my eyes). Midway though the nurse came out and asked if they could remove Stone’s top 3 front teeth (two right in front and one next to them). They had decay on them and were just going to lead to more trouble down the road. So, we agreed to have them removed. In addition to that he had root canals and crowns put on 6 molars. Stone went in for surgery at 7:30 and was done and out of there by 9:00. It went so quickly…..I couldn’t believe it! He woke up happy like he always does….he was groggy and sleepy so we just picked him up and drove home. Shane looks like he could use a nap here too:

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What a nerve wracking experience. They were great at the surgery center though so I give them kudos for that. It’s crazy to think that his procedure yesterday cost as much as half my 2005 Chevy Pickup…..unbelievable!! I’m not going to complain…..it’s done with and he is on the road to recovery….with healthy teeth that will no longer affect his adult teeth below the surface. All in all…..it’s good.

We got home before noon, which surprised me. It also surprised me that my husband got us stuck half a mile from our house.

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Have I mentioned how much I loathe gumbo mud? Hmmmm…..I think I have a time or two…..I have to warn you that I don’t see me stopping that anytime soon. Here we are with our little boy recovering from surgery….stuck ON THE ROAD!!!! No, we didn’t go off the road…..we didn’t go boonie-bashing…..we simply were trying to get home…..but no, we got stuck…..and I mean STUCK!!!! It took our four wheel drive tractor to get us out……Oh, the glory!

Anyway, we were all exhausted when we got home….no wonder, right?! We didn’t do much yesterday. Stone only needed some Tylenol once and one of his stitches came out. He’s so funny….didn’t bother him at all. He slept well…..we all did. It was all just a huge relief to have it all done with. We got up feeling refreshed. I made him his favorite for breakfast….pancakes. He ate like a trucker……all is right in the world today! Here’s my new toothless little man….I sure do love him! 🙂

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We are getting ready to go over and re-tag our heifers. After that, I’ve decided to tackle some homemade pizza for the first time ever. Don’t get me wrong….I’ve made pizza before, but I’ve never made the crust and all that jazz from scratch.

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It’s been on my “to do” list for some time now….in the spirit of the great pizza we had at Minerva’s I feel inclined to give it a whirl. I’ll report on how it went tomorrow…..wish me luck! ~Cheyenne

How ‘Bout The American?!

Holy cow!! Did you watch The American this last Sunday?

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If you did you are probably just as excited about it as I am! The richest one-day rodeo actually crowned a $1 Million winner – Richmond Champion! What a great name….and how appropriate! And how about that Junior (Testa) Nogueira?! I have NEVER seen anyone heel like that in my entire life! He can rope like crazy and his presentation is like anything I’ve ever seen!

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See what I mean?! The American certainly didn’t disappoint and I truly believe it opened up an entire new chapter for rodeo….I’m excited to see what happens next! It was great to see two of our friends/neighbors competing also – Chad Ferley, in the Saddle Bronc Riding and Lisa Lockhart, in the Barrel Racing. Chad ended up third overall and Lisa…..well, she took first place!!

Lisa Lockhart

She won $100,000, a new Polaris Ranger, and a whole bunch of other great prizes. I cried for her I was so happy…..I know how much Louie (and all of her horses) mean to her. She is one of the hardest working gals I know. It’s not uncommon to see her working her horses in below zero weather…..she is definitely not a fair-weather cowgirl! Her acceptance speech was classy and really heartfelt. I cried with her….again! What an awesome win for her!

It’s amazing to see how far rodeo has come in the last few years. It’s been a struggle and has experienced growing pains. The recent upheaval over moving the National Finals Rodeo the last few months has sure created some conflict. I’m sure glad there are people in the association who are strong and willing to fight for what they believe in – more money for the cowboys and cowgirls. Apparently the NFR will stay in Las Vegas for another 10 years……however, with the huge advances in big paying rodeos like The American, Houston, Calgary, etc……who knows who will be going where…..it will be interesting to watch this all unfold! ~Cheyenne

 

Downton Abbey: Have a spot of tea….and Banana Bread?!

Okay, I’m feeling somewhat witty today…..I’ve been on a addict’s kick of Downton Abbey. If you haven’t watched this delightful series on PBS then you really are missing out!

Downton Abbey

I admit that I do become “addicted” to certain television shows…..it’s a bad habit of mine, but alas…..it’s something I truly enjoy so there you have it. It’s kind of like reading a good book…..once I start it I can’t put it down until it’s finished. I’m OCD like that! 🙂 I heard about Downton a few weeks ago, but didn’t have the time to succumb to another series so I left it until last week. I found that I could watch it on Amazon for free…..imagine…..4 complete series episodes ripe for the picking! Besides the Olympics there hasn’t been much on TV so I decided to watch the first one…..and go from there. Almost a week later…..and I’m somewhat sad…..I only have one episode left of the FIFTH series….yep, I found out there is a fifth series. It’s odd because on our TV it says it’s the FOURTH series, but on UK TV it’s called the FIFTH series. No matter…..I was overjoyed to find it on PBS on my iPad so I can get up to speed!

I absolutely adore the series…..It’s set in England in the 1910’s – 1920’s. There is hardly a cuss word to be heard, no majorly inappropriate scenes, high society, lots of tea drinking (yes, I’m a huge fan of tea), courtesy, romance, intrigue……it’s absolutely marvelous!! I urge you to join the masses of fans by watching it just once….I’m sure you will be like me and be hooked!

Watching all those English gentleman’s and ladies drinking their tea brought out the tea lover in me early this year. I’ve always liked tea (hot, mind you….I’m not a fan of Iced Tea just yet)…..might have something to do with that fact that my great Aunt was British. She was a war bride and came to live on Cherry Creek (where I grew up) all the way from London! She was a Brit through and through…..I loved her dry humor…..and her tea! 🙂

My family goes through a big tea drinking phase every late winter until calving season is done. It started up a bit ago and is in full swing here (fueled by my obsession of Downton Abbey). Here is my teapot (I love it…..it’s so “me”!):

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And my very favorite tea in all the world:

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Stash tea is one of the most popular teas in the world and truly good tasting. Tea bags are quite practical, but all of a sudden I have a true interest in using loose leaf tea. I’ve found a couple of sites that explain the process. I’m going to share them with you here:

Seven Cups and Teavana seem to be the most popular tea informational sites and they both have stores (on Google). I can’t wait to delve into the whole world of tea…..new interests truly excite me! Kind of like my wine obsession…..except that I’m a very picky wine drinker….It’s National Drink Wine Day today so thought I needed to mention that…..I’ll drink pots of tea today and then go straight into my favorite wine with supper…..(My husband is in his recliner rolling his eyes…..not that I care!) 🙂

I have been home uninterrupted for a few days (watching Downton Abbey with my eyes glued to the TV). Okay, it’s not quite that bad, but I’ve been watching a lot of it……while I tend to other things of course. I decided that with all the tea we’ve been drinking that something sweet was in order to go with it. Banana Bread popped into my head…..so I decided to make some. The recipe I use comes out of a Betty Crocker cookbook that my Mom gave me many, many years ago. It was the first cookbook that I ever received from someone….and I hold it dear (even though it is almost in pieces from overuse). As you can tell by the photo (food stains and that is has fallen out of the book), this recipe has been used a lot!

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This is my old standby Banana Bread recipe…..it’s my favorite by far too. Here it is for you to try and enjoy:

Banana Bread

  • 1 ¼ cups Sugar
  • ½ cup stick margarine or butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans (or 4 small loaf pans) with shortening. Mix sugar and butter in large bowl.

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Stir in eggs until well blended.

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Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

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*I use powdered buttermilk as I don’t usually have it on hand. It is so easy to use…and so convenient to have on hand whenever I need it way out here!*

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Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt just until moistened.

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Stir in the nuts.

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Pour into pans.

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Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 ¼ hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pans on wire rack.

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Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

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And there you have it…..incredible Banana Bread (if I do say so myself). Enjoy a slice with some butter and a hot cup of tea…..I swear it will be heavenly.

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I’m off to watch the finale of Downton Abbey. I am anxious to see it, yet sad at the same time. I do get to look forward to the next season coming out sometime in late September though so that gives me something to look forward to! Cheerio, good mates! 😉 ~Cheyenne (I say this with tea cup in hand!) Haha!

Cheyenne’s Steak Tips, Cowboy Potatoes & Peppermint Ice Cream

I had a great Valentine’s Day at home with the two best guys in the world! I was happy to receive another handmade card from them this year…..I added it to my collection. I absolutely love and treasure every single one of these cards! ❤

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I wasn’t expecting anything special yesterday (other than my cherished card) because I had scored some awesome boots at the Black Hills Stock Show, which were my early Valentine’s Day present (can’t beat that)! I have been admiring these Corral Boots for some time now……I ran into a sale…..and well, I just couldn’t say no any longer! If you know me at all you know that they boots are absolutely perfect for me…..I LOVE Stars….black…..and silver…..Yep, these were made for me! Plus, they are comfy and fit perfectly! 🙂

Boots

Since we stayed home on the ranch for Valentine’s Day, it was up to me to show my love to my guys through my normal means…..by cooking! I rewarded my Valentine’s with a supper fit for a king……or a cattle baron…..or cowboys…..heck, most any beef lover would have been happy! I whipped up my Steak Tips, Cowboy Potatoes, & homemade Peppermint Ice Cream! To say the least, supper was heavenly!

The first thing I started on was the ice cream (due to the fact that it needs to freeze for some time before it’s ready to be eaten). I followed a super easy Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe from Cuisinart, but I improvised to turn it into a Peppermint Ice Cream recipe. Here’s the recipe:

Peppermint Ice Cream

  • 1 ½ cups whole Milk
  • 1 1/8 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 3 cups of Heavy Cream
  • 1-2 tsp. of Peppermint Extract
  • ¼ cup of Peppermint Sticks (ground)

I recently got an Ice Cream Maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer. Today, is the first chance I’ve had to use it. It was super easy…..I can see ice cream making being done regularly at our house from here on out (especially since my boys LOVE ice cream)! Here are some pics from the process I used:

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I combined everything as the recipe calls for (substituting Peppermint Extract for the Vanilla) and let the ice cream maker do its magic. When it was almost finished, I added the ground up peppermint sticks and a dash or two of red food coloring. Here’s how it looked coming out of the freezer…..and holy cow, it was amazing!! Now more long faces when the Schwan’s man is sold out of this household seasonal favorite! 🙂

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The next thing I started was the potatoes (because they take quite some time to bake).

Cowboy Potatoes

  • Red Potatoes
  • Garlic Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • Onion Salt
  • Pepper Jack Cheese, Sliced
  • Parsley

Clean and slice the potatoes (making sure not to slice all the way to the bottom).

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Place in a baking dish and brush each potato with garlic olive oil (if you don’t have garlic olive oil, you can use regular olive oil and sprinkle on some garlic powder instead).

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Add seasonings (to taste).

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Bake for 1 hour or until done in a 350 to 400 degree oven. Using a fork or knife, poke each potato in the middle to ensure doneness. If done, top with Pepper Jack Cheese (one slice per potato) and put back in the oven to melt (if the potatoes need more time put them back in the oven until done to your liking and then top with cheese).

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Sprinkle on more salt and pepper if desired and top with parsley for added color.

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And now….last, but not least…..my Steak Tips! Over the years, I have tried numerous “batter” recipes only to be somewhat disappointed in how they turn out. Some are too bulky and thick, some are too thin, some fall off when frying, some aren’t tasty at all. I finally came up with a good one. I found the beginning of this recipe on Allrecipes.com, but took it apart and reworked it to my liking. Here is what my recipe consists of:

Cheyenne’s Steak Tips

  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 4 tsp. Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • 2 tsp. Pepper
  • Garlic Salt (pinch)
  • Onion Salt (pinch)
  • Worcestershire Sauce (dash)
  • 2 lbs. of steak cut into bite-sized cubes (I usually end up with about 2 lbs. of steak so you may need to start out with more depending on the cut of the meat)

Cut meat into bite-sized cubes and set aside. Believe me…..our dogs were delighted with the amount of bone and fat on these steaks! 🙂

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Combine all ingredients and stir together until smooth (batter will be thick and glue-like).

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Dip cubes of steak into the batter until completely coated.

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Remove steak cubes, piece by piece and deep fry in hot oil (about 1 ½” deep or so). Turn when one side is golden brown.

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Fry until the other side is golden brown.

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Remove from oil and place on a paper-towel covered plate to drain excess oil.

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Truly, these are the best Steak Tips ever……this is my “go to” batter for most anything and everything (onion rings are awesome too)!

So, as you can see…..we had a wonderful Valentine’s Day supper!

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We were stuffed……and enjoyed watching a few episodes of a new series I heard about…..”Downton Abbey”……we are loving it….the fact that I just heard about it and it’s several seasons in already…..makes me super happy and eager to watch until I get caught up. 🙂  Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Enjoy the recipes! ~Cheyenne

Hero of the day…..Tipster!!

This morning (before my coffee, mind you), Shane says, “Cheyenne, come here….you have to see this”. I become a little wary whenever I hear him say that lately (our flooded kitchen the other night springs to mind). Since he was back by my son’s room, I figured…why not. I walk back there and on the floor near my son’s Happy Toy Maker truck (I’ll go over this some other day) is a dead mouse!! A feeling of pride wells up inside me! Why, you ask? Well….we have a house cat now. He joined us a couple of months ago. Let me tell you all about Tipster.

He’s an incredibly unique cat! Here he is:  image (5)

He looks like he has Siberian Husky markings. His fur is unbelievable soft……..he loves to cuddle and lay on his back with his feet in the air. He’s a funny cat! He was given to my son by our neighbors, The Bolln’s. Traci (the daughter) had Tipster picked out to take to her house, but when Stone picked him she was gracious enough to let him bring Tipster home. Tipster came to us with a couple of his litter mates, Oreo and Mouse. From the beginning, my mom thought Tipster would make a super house cat. House cat? I didn’t want one of those at all! I’ve been through the whole litter box ordeal and I really didn’t need another job.

Stone fell in love with all of his cats, but he took a particular shine to Tipster. One day out of the blue, Stone asked if Tipster could come and live at our house. We mulled it over and decided that it might not be a bad idea to have a house cat (hence, our mouse problem). We would get set up and bring Tipster home. The only problem was that Mouse had passed away leaving Oreo alone if Tipster came to live with us. I decided that I needed to find some friends for Oreo. We have two older barn cats that we’ve had for ages, but Scotchy and Lollie detested the new recruits. I was on a mission to get a few more friends for Oreo.

I got home one night from working at the Swank Shop. I came into the house to find Shane, Stone……and Tipster!!! What?! Unfortunately, a visitor’s pickup ended Oreo’s life earlier in the day. (I no longer had to worry about finding more kittens to bring home.) Shane felt it best to bring Tipster home as he knew he probably wouldn’t make it through the night alone (we had only put them outside from the bunkhouse the previous week). I scrambled to make a makeshift litter box and rounded up some kitten food from the bunkhouse. That was the night that Tipster moved in!

I had already visited with the vet about getting Tipster neutered. I was glad I did because Tipster had squatted on my cowhide in the living room two times the first night he was in the house. I cleaned thoroughly after each incident and took him to his litter box. I’m happy to say that he never did it again. Maybe in part to getting him neutered (tom cats are bad for that).

I also broached the subject of declawing him. Yikes…..I’d never had that done to a cat before and I knew the kind of commitment we were making if we did that. Tipster’s days would be limited to our house from then on as he wouldn’t be able to defend himself. I made the commitment (knowing that I would be the litter box cleaner, cat food and water dispenser to our new cat from then on). Truly, I was doing it to save our nice leather furniture (something that I had dreamed of having most of my adult life).

So, a couple of days after moving in, Tipster went to the vet. He spent the night (declawing is pretty awful….I really didn’t know what all it entailed). Tipster also had to be opened up….not a simple neuter job due to his anatomy. We finally got Tipster home the next evening. He was pretty stiff in the front legs due to his declawing, but he healed up quickly. He was pretty lethargic for a few days, but he bounced back with vigor.

As time went by, it was apparent that Tipster is a long-term member of our family. My son loves him to death…..and Tipster absolutely loves him back! I’ve never seen a cat roll around exposing his tummy like he does.

See what I mean? image (6)

He is truly a lover and the sweetest cat ever! He loves to nap on our bed and has the funniest purr I’ve ever heard. I guess that covers Tipster coming to live with us. So, back to our find this morning.

A dead mouse is a beautiful sight! That may seem a bit callous, but if you’ve ever had a mouse problem you can relate to that statement. We live in a double-wide trailer next to a field…put your imagination to work. We have fought a mouse infestation since the beginning. Almost immediately of putting in our brand new house they showed up……very uninvited. We’ve tried everything…..poison, moth balls, dogs (that’s a good one….they would lay there and let a mouse run over their back while barely batting an eyelash), etc. I had thought about putting cats under our deck and outside of our house, but our three dogs would have likely made that a mess. We have trained them to put up with our free range chickens and our barn cats, but our youngest dog Remi (a blue heeler) always makes me worry as I’ve seen her when she thinks nobody is looking. If you know blue heelers then you know what I’m talking about! Finally, I had to just rely on the poison and moth balls as nothing else was working. Until this morning!

image (7)Here’s the mangy critter!

I posted this picture on Facebook/Instagram earlier this morning. People were commenting on the gun nearby! Haha! Yes, that’s how badly I detest mice….I’d like to shoot them all. Actually, this is one of Stone’s toy guns. It’s funny how it was left last night….with the mouse dead near it. Like I said, this was before my morning coffee! The thing that makes me shudder is that I was pretty sure we had our house sealed up so that mice weren’t getting in here anymore. Back to the drawing board on that subject I guess.

Anyway, Tipster is earning his keep and I couldn’t be more proud. Shane even remarked that he got the mouse without his front claws. Atta boy, Tipster!  One less mouse……only 983 to go….staring NOW!! 🙂 ~Cheyenne