Quote

Lady Mixx-a-Lot; a calorie-laden love story

The photo above is my lemon creation. Covered in homemade lemon curd. By the hammer of Thor, that thing was good. Now let me tell ya how that sugar-laden dream came to fruition.

I always thought I was a cook. Give me a steak and some veggies and I’ll make a dinner out of this world. Spaghetti? No prob. Spaghetti Squash? Bring it on. But I never thought of myself as a baker. I just could never follow the recipes and always ended up with cookies that were either greasy and flat or thick like a brownie. Cakes that always fell in the middle and just tasted…off.

But when we moved to the ranch, there was this sense of purpose in my kitchen. I needed to learn to bake, not just because it was a skill I longed to master, but we were also out of bread and I had planned to make a pot roast. You need homemade bread for roast. That’s a law, isn’t it? Besides, there’s no way I’m driving 25 miles just for some bread.

I busted out the Betty Crocker Wedding Cookbook we got (obviously) for our wedding and found the perfect recipe. It was made for bread machines and I just happened to have one gathering dust! With my daughter dutifully pouring ingredients after I measured, we whipped it up, stuck it in the bread machine, and waited. And waited. Until an hour later when the top of the bread machine was lifted up because the bread had risen to more than double! Whoops! So we punched it down, put it in a bowl with a plastic bag on top, and let it rise again. Then it hit the oven and came out…..perfect. The best bread I ever had! Well that just set off a whirlwind of activity. PS – the bread machine is for sale.

I needed to bake more. I needed to get this right. I NEED TO BAKE THINGS. The A.W. Thompson Memorial Library has a nice selection of cookbooks (you can follow the librarians here on Facebook). I borrowed 1 or 2 every other week. I’d pick a recipe and go with it. But my hand mixer, also from our wedding, wasn’t cutting it. I needed a stand mixer. A real mixer. The kind that lives on the counter because it’s too heavy to move elsewhere.

And that’s when I met Lady Mixx-a-Lot.

She’s a KitchenAid stand mixer. A workhorse for a community member, she was being sold to make room for a newer model. If you’ve ever priced these mixers you know that they are an investment. Lucky me, I got one used and for a lot less than the store!!!

Lady Mixx-a-Lot and I have baked up some amazing things. Cheesecakes, pumpkin cakes, breads, tortilla mix, buttercream frosting, fresh whipped cream; you name it, we’ve done it. When we made Marble Brownies for branding (which was amazing by the way), when I wanted to try Dana’s Famous Beer Bread, when I didn’t know what Honey Cake was, Lady Mixx-a-Lot showed me. We even made a Lemon Bundt Cake that was out of this world! The only downside? My poor husband *has* to eat it. I know, it’s terrible. Made from scratch awesomeness. Every week. Feel bad for his waistline.

When I finally decide what to make for the County Fair, you better believe Lady Mixx-a-Lot is going to whip it, whip it good.

Now, as for that branding I was telling you about. It was a gorgeous, cool June morning when everyone showed up, horses saddled, raring to go to work. The cowboys and cowgirls went out on their horses to gather up the cattle. Within 20 minutes, everyone was in the pens and the work was done. The brands, the vaccinations, the “surgeries” for the bull calves, were all done within 2 hours. My job was to hold the insecticide tags; think of them as earrings with a natural insect repellant on them. Keeps the biting flies away! It wasn’t a glamorous job and I didn’t do much but considering I’m still baby-ing my wrist from wrestling that heifer and I was scheduled to show off my wines later that day, it was a great experience to see just how this “branding day thing”  works.

I can’t wait to actually participate next year! Mind you, this wasn’t just men out there; there were women, teenagers, even our little cowpokes got in on the branding. This is how you start and maintain a legacy of ranchers. Everyone helps, everyone works, everyone is thankful.

After branding I headed into town for the opening of Riley Girls Boutique. Y’all. This shop is amazing! I seriously walk in every time and say “Take my money”. Ok, I don’t but I can’t walk out of there without something cute and comfortable and wonderful! If you ever happen to stop in Clayton, you need to check out this store and grab something beautiful and unique. My job at the opening was to show off those tasty wines with a cause, viaOneHope wines. If you haven’t ordered, get on it! They just released sweet wines for you summertime drinkers. They go amazing with some frozen fruit, sangria, or just a sunny day at the pool. And if there’s a cause you want to support, let’s set up a party and donate 10% of proceeds to your nonprofit!

Here’s a random jumble of pictures for you. I didn’t get this posted in time but I hope you had a safe and wonderful 4th of July! We went to the rodeo, entered the turtle race (the turtle and a few friends were released on our pasture), enjoyed the fireworks, and stayed at the best RV Park in Clayton, NM.  Y’all need to get here. I’ll even bake something for you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

Advertisements
Image

The Cow Chips Guide to Exercise: Winter Edition 2016

Ok, two weeks in and December did not disappoint! Remember in the last post how I basically threatened December to not screw up its weather? Well, today we woke up to howling winds which led way to blowing snow and freezing fog and snow drifts! Yay!

Andrea, you are crazy. Well, yes I am and thank you for noticing. I LOVE cold weather. Well, I love it as long as I don’t have to work in it. Which brings me to the title of this blog post. Ya see, I learned that the Cow Chips Winter Workout is just as ridiculous in the summer as the winter. So let’s get a good taste of what you get to do to burn off some holiday calories!

  1. Do you love the sound of ocean waves? Maybe you just adore the open water. You know what else likes water? Cows. Burn out your shoulders, biceps, and core with a session of Breaking Ice!
cowgirl-and-ice
Woman with pitchfork. And LipSense.
slush
Just broke this…it’s already slushy!

Let me clear: breaking ice is right now my most despised chore. You start with a pick ax around a 20 foot stock tank and “chop chop chop”; you hack out pieces of ice. Then not only do you have to break the ice, you get to rev up your cardio and biceps with a pitchfork and haul out the 3 inch blocks of solid ice and heave them onto the ground. Go fast, though, so you don’t drench your gloves and have icicles for fingers. Also, make sure to use the strength in your core so you don’t pull a muscle in your back! Just breathe deep, heave, haw, and build that amazing strength with every stupid load of ice! SUPER FUN.

You’re not done, don’t be fooled. As soon as you break all that ice and haul it out, no sooner than you turn around does it start to get slushy and ice over! More into intervals than one long ice breaking event? Maybe you’re built for speed rather than endurance: no worries! Ice breaking is a fun sport that must be completed before breakfast, at lunch, and again before dinner. Talk about interval training!

Andrea, this sounds silly. Why don’t you get a heater for that? Well, that’s my husband’s project next year. Install a damn outlet for a heater so we aren’t breaking ice in single digit temperatures.

2. Hey, Andrea, I remember one time when I was a kid that all the water froze up in the house. How do you deal with that? OH! Lemme tell ya what happens. You and your gorgeous manfolk get to hang out in 40 degree temps (that day was balmy compared to the next workout – keep reading) and work on a well pump.

Wait. What?

Ya see, a few days before the pump went kaput, there were some freezing temps at night but the days saw somewhere around mid-30’s. We figured since the well pump was covered, all would be fine. Well, as ranchers tend to obsess over the state of their cattle, we went to check on their water and make sure the stock tank hadn’t frozen over. It wasn’t too bad so I got in some light ice breaking time. But then we realized the pipe that brings water was frozen solid. And nothing was happening when we turned on the pump. Whoops! So, a day of insulating and we hoped it was enough. It wasn’t. The next day, we ripped off all the insulation and got to practice our static Olympic lifting. Hubby lifted the entire pipe (the one that goes in the ground) while I learned how to use grip vices. Only 200lbs of pulling up – gotta use those legs! Then we lifted the thing and cobbled something and put things back together and then put on more insulation and THEN we prayed a lot. It worked! The stress and worry of hoping we hadn’t blown out the pump motor is an exercise in itself. Your heart beats rapidly when something like that happens. Replacing things like that, especially with cattle depending on the water and a wife being cold, gets EXPENSIVE. It’s like needing to pee but you’re stuck in traffic and your house is a mile away but you’re not sure if you’ll make it to your exit but you breath deep and think of ANYTHING besides waterfalls. But you live next to Niagara Falls. Yep. That kind of heart pounding fun is just GREAT for burning a few calories!

pump
Fixing the Well Pump. Please work…
water
Water!!! And ice. Of course.

3. What’s a Cow Chips girl going to do for fun? Well, exercise needs to be fun at some point otherwise you won’t do it. May I present stock tank ice skating? Yes, seriously. This is the stock tank on the other part of land we raise cattle on and it is solid ice at least 6″ thick. Now, I do love cold weather but I ain’t crazy. So I let my husband demonstrate how we ice skate in the desert.

Ice Skating.jpg
Ice Skating, Cow Chips Style

4. Walking is great for you! Walk the Cow Chips way and you’ll never want to go for a stroll in the city. Now, there are some varmints that, as long as you both respect each other’s boundaries, you can live in peace and harmony. It’s very nice! However, there are some varmints that just…it’s not even about me or them. They ruin the land, eating everything they can see and leave behind holes that are literally dangerous to animals and humans. Fall in one and you’re looking at a good sprain or maybe broken ankle. Not cool. So, we ranchers have to sometimes gain control of these things. I love seeing wide, open country, not dust and patches of missing grassland. So, yes, we baited for crowd control. Then we had to check our bait to make sure anything that ate the bait was destroyed properly. How does one do that? With a nice, long walk up and down the side of a hill checking every hole and making sure nothing goes unnoticed! THERE’S ONLY ABOUT 300 HOLES. Add that all up and you’ve just done at least 3-4 miles of walking. Just imagine it, no picture needed.

5. Still not enough burn for you? How about next time you’re here you help us stack some hay? It’s only 65 lbs a bale and we ONLY have 270 of them. C’mon, it’ll be fun! Don’t forget, you need wood to burn in the stove! Build a stack as tall as her (about 4 feet) and you’re sure to need tickets for the gun show! And if you need a full body shakedown, go outside and just stand there. Did you know shivering burns calories, too? If you’re lucky enough to be my daughter you don’t shiver much because your mom (me) dresses you up in every warm thing you’ve got so you basically sweat in the snow. You’re welcome, little one.

queen-of-hay
Move it over…there. Sure.
wood-pile
I hauled ALL of that. You’re welcome.
SONY DSC
Gotta Stay Warm!!!

Every great workout includes a good warm up (reading my blog – thank you!) and cool down (some quality time by the fire re-reading my blog because the brain needs exercise, too). Enjoy all the pictures below from our family to yours. Have a wonderful Christmas! Along with the great “workout” ideas above, we also decorated outside, put up the tree, made a ridiculous Gingerbread Farm House, made some Christmas spice to boil on the stove, and just enjoyed our time together. Oh, and Santa and Mrs. Claus made an early debut with wine. It’s all AMAZING and you can get it here via my amazing friend Becky. Plus, a portion of profits from every bottle goes to a great cause! My current fave is the Cabernet Sauvignon but I can’t wait to break into that Rosé! Seriously, I’m already planning my next order. Oh, and I finally made the most perfect soft pink color just for me with my LipSense collection. Even Red Lips needs a change of lip color. You can order your perfect, all day color (I wear it almost every day – the cows appreciate it and my daughter loves that it doesn’t smudge on her cheeks when I get my kisses!) by clicking on this link here. Not sure which color is right for you? Join my FB page and message me: I am happy to help everyone in the world have gorgeous all day lip color! Y’all have an amazing Christmas and a beautiful New Year!

Ranch Updates!

*The photo above is the Arkansas River in Southern Colorado. The leaves are just starting to change and it s GORGEOUS!!!

Hey there!  The ranch is in change right now. It’s kind of a nice lull before the cows literally come home. We will have some 3-year old cows soon who will become part of the ranch. But until then, here’s a few updates.

  • The chicken perp is still on the run. Our guess is that it either moved on or is hiding out somewhere. We keep setting a live trap and all we catch are the cats. There’s 7 cats and I’m pretty sure we’ve caught all but 2 at some point. One of our calicos, a female, might be in heat; either that or she’s just *extremely* friendly. She loves to rub on me, the other cats, the dogs; she tried a chicken and the alpacas but that didn’t work out so well. They just weren’t into her. The chickens, meanwhile, have accepted their new digs in the old horse trailer. It’s much more enclosed and they can still free range during the day, so it’s a win-win. Plus, with winter on the way it will be easier to keep them cozy. I need to paint that trailer but can’t decide on a color. Turquoise to match the ranch or purple because why not? I thought about doing a mural but I can’t draw so maybe not. I’d end up with stick figures and a smiley face sun. I’ll do a before and after post once I can decide on a color or a theme. Heck, it might just be white again. Don’t hold your breath.
  • THE WEATHER: I love Fall!!! The temps don’t go above 85, the lows mean I can finally get heavy blankets out and (premature, I know) have the gas fireplace on, we cuddle more for reading time, and the mosquitoes are dying. If I didn’t welt up every time I was bitten by a mosquito, I wouldn’t detest those flying vampires. But I do swell up and I can’t stand it. From what I understand, though, the mosquitoes will leave but the Yellowjackets will appear soon. Not looking forward to that but that’s why we love the Guineas. They love bugs! Let’s hope they love those jackets. I also found a great recipe for Pumpkin Spice Lattes that includes real pumpkin. Make sure to cook the pumpkin and spices – that’s what really brings out the amazing flavor! The only downside is that we got the hailstorm of the century! Seriously, golf ball and larger sized hail at our house. It was so bad at my mother-in-law’s that she now needs a new roof! Meanwhile, in town they got pebbles and a sprinkle. Gotta love New Mexico weather! Seriously, if you wait 15 minutes, the weather WILL change.
  • The alpacas are eating out of my hand!!!! That’s a huge step in the awesomely right direction. We are still a long way off from them wanting to be petted like the ones you probably saw during Alpaca Farm Days, but at least they like me now. It’s kinda fun to look out the window and see this goofy looking camelid grazing out there. The biggest perk is that they are the best walking lawnmowers around. I found out that the manure they make is apparently amazing. No need to wait for it to decompose. We might make a garden next Spring, so I’ll try it out and let you know the results. Right now, the ‘Paca Poop (I think I’ll trademark that) is covering bare spots in the pasture.
  •  I’m running again. A great friend of mine once said that if anyone ever wants me to do something crazy the best time to convince me to do it is when I’m sick. Apparently my stubborn ways are softened and I’ll agree to craziness. I believe it: that’s how she got me to sign up for a sprint triathlon. So I assume that I’m getting sick because I’m now in training for a half marathon. Ya see, The Biggest Loser Race Series (BLRS) has come to Las Cruces 2 of the last  3 years. I’ve run both times plus another half that was actually 15 miles.  I’m more of a turtle’s pace kinda runner. I will take in the scenery, listen to an audiobook, and just enjoy the moment. In other words, I’m slow. Gimme some gum, my iPod, an inhaler, and I’m good to go. So I’m training to run my 3rd BLRS half marathon in January. I feel like I can’t break the streak at this point. At least now I don’t have much of an excuse. I’m teaching 2 classes in town and both are great for cross-training and stretching.
  • While I’m at it, I also decided that my P90X class needed to be more inclusive. So now, it’s at the local Armory building. Plus, Armory soldiers can take the class for free AND I’m making a donation of admission to the Family Readiness Group: it’s a fund set aside for families whose soldier gets deployed. This community has been so amazingly welcoming to our family that I figure it’s time to do something good for the community. It’s a small gesture but it means the world to someone out there. And besides, I’m sick of seeing all the bad news out there. I’ll be going the positive route. What positive things are you doing? 😀