Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chocolate Book Tag

Chocolate Book Tag

I've been tagged by the lovely Reyna Nicole of: A Peace Of The Past for the Chocolate Book Tag!

If you are nominated, simply link back to the person who tagged you, and fill out your tag!

Shall we get started?!!!

 Dark Chocolate (a book that covers a dark topic):

Hmm...for me I think that would have to be "The Last of The Mohicans".
It follows Hawkeye (not that Hawkeye! ;) and his companions, as they escort two sisters across the wilderness, all the while being tracked and hunted by the cruel Hurons. It's a wonderful read, but it really opens up your eyes to the brutality of some of the Indian races, and what our ancestors went through so we could live in this great country, without all the hardships and dangers they faced when they first came here.
(Side Note: Have a full box of tissues handy...) 

 White Chocolate (a light and humorous read):

My first thought was "The Hobbit", but I take it back..that is not a light a humorous least not anymore, thanks to Peter Jackson! But don't get me started on that, we'll be here all day if we do!

Instead, I shall pick Shakespeare, as I think he is witty, funny, and light in his writings at times. Unless you read his tragedies (like I'm doing at the moment), then you have another thing coming! ;)  

 Milk Chocolate (a book with a lot of hype that you're dying to read):

 I'm going to change book to books, because I can't choose just one! 
Phantom of The Opera, The Three Musketeers, Timeline, Sherlock Holmes, Tuck Everlasting, and Shakespeare's Henry V.

 Caramel-filled Chocolate (a book that makes you feel all gooey inside):

Ohh..umm!! That would either be Stephen F. Lawhead's "Robin Hood" series, or Knight of The White Cross by G.A. Henty.

 ^(Stop drooling!!!)^

 Wafer-less Kit-Kat (a book that surprised you):

"Rob Roy" by Sir Walk Scott.
By looking at the title you think your going to read an adventure-packed book full of love, honor, war, and so on and so forth. Wrong! Instead you read about a young man (who is actually the main character, and NO he isn't Rob Roy) who travels around, bumps into Rob Roy, and does some frolicking around Scotland. Rob Roy is briefly mentioned and defiantly isn't the main character! Yep, it was a total shocker!

Snickers (a book you're going nuts about):
Is it legal to nominate my book, that's a work in progress?? I'm fangirling over it already, and it isn't even finished!
OK, if I can't pick that then it'd either be LOTR (pick anyone) or the above mentioned "Robin Hood" series. 
 Hot Chocolate with Mini Marshmallows (a book you turn to for comfort):
The Hobbit or Lord of The Rings.
 A Box of Chocolates (a series you feel has something for everyone):

Again, The Hobbit or Lord of The Rings!! You absolutely can't go wrong with them!

 Thanks for the nomination again, m'dear!

I nominate:


And anyone else who reads this and blogs, consider yourself nominated!
Have fun y'all!

Blessings - 

~ Aspen


A Tribute To Tea

A Tribute To Tea
The warm, swirly goodness that makes you feel all cozy inside. Oh! How delightful it is! Sweet, fragrant liquid. Revives your soul and warms your heart.

 OK, done poeting now! :)

Are there any other tea lovers among my dear followers?

If so leave me a comment.

What's your favorite kind of tea?

Mine is Chai tea! 

Blessings - 

~ Aspen

Meet Dodge and Brego

Meet Dodge and Brego

Last Friday, Mom and Dad took Stockton and Carolina on a surprise trip. They didn't tell them where they were going, or what they were going to do. They just loaded them up early that morning, hooked up a trailer and hit the road. They kids thought they're going to pickup some cows or something, and then go do something fun afterwards.
When they pulled into the place where we'd gotten most of our horses, they began to suspect something.

Both the kids had lost their horses, Dixie and Gus, and really didn't have a kid-friendly horse to ride, until now. ;)

They came home with these two lovely geldings!

Meet Dodge, a gorgeous dappled grey gelding. 

And Brego, Carolina's lovely Bay gelding.

They both have a mild cold, so we're keeping them quarantined until they get past it, as we don't want the other horses to contract it. 

I desperately wanted Stockton to name his horse, Shadowfax (Gandalfs white horse in LOTR), so when anyone asked what his name was I could reply: "That is Shadowfax, Lord of all horses!"
But alas, he didn't.

Brego, is of course named after Aragorn's horse from LOTR. He looks just like him, just smaller.

Dodge is 7 years old, and Brego is 4 years old. 

Little Bit and Lorna are very very jealous that the new horses are getting a whole blog post to themselves, so here are some pictures of the other horsies.

Hi Mom!

Little Bit photo-bombed the cow's picture!

There that's better!

Oh! Hello there Blizzard!

That brings out horse herd back up to an even dozen!

Blessings - 

~ Aspen 


Monday, October 20, 2014

The Little Keet Who Could

The Little Keet Who Could

Mom came and got me up one morning and informed me that there was a tiny Guinea keet running around the flat, and she needed help catching it. She figured the Guineas had been sitting on a secret nest somewhere.

I quickly got dressed...actually I was barefooted and half asleep... We go trudging outside, little expecting what was to come. We see the tiny keet running around the flat, following the adult Guineas around. We tried to chase them, and snatch up the keet, but that was a fail, instead Mom got viciously attacked by several Momma and Daddy Guineas, while I'm over here barefooted, picking stickers out of my feet! Mom was screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs (who'd blame her??), but she managed to say "GET ME A WEAPON!!!!!!!!!" I ran back to the house, put some boots on, and found a weapon (a.k.a, a pvc pipe) and returned to find that Mom had caught the one little keet, but then we discovered that there was about 5 more running around. Meanwhile, someone had left the barn gate open, and all the horses were inside the pens eating hay and causing all sorts of trouble, so we stopped what we were doing and shewed the horses out, so now we had horses running everywhere, big Guineas and little Guineas running around underfoot, and us over there trying not to get run over.
Finally, the horses ran off into the pasture, and left us to finish our "Mission Impossible". The adult Guineas were still trying to attack us, they didn't want anybody taking their babies away, but we finally managed to grab them all up. Unfortunately, one of the little keets got trampled during all the commotion. I picked up the limp and lifeless baby and started to take it out in the pasture to bury it, but then I noticed it was breathing, ever so slightly. I quickly ran back to the house with it in my hands, while rubbing it violently, trying to warm it up and get it's heart pumping again. Mom still needed some help outside, so I woke Carolina up and had her babysit the keet for me while I finished outside. When we came back in, we found the keet was still limp and just barely breathing, hanging on to life. She handed the keet over to me, and I began rubbing, and blowing warm air on it. After a bit, I handed it over to Mom, and she took a turn, about two hours later the little keet had revived some, but still wasn't in good shape.

Lots of prayers and rubbing later, the little keet was doing good enough to be put in a warm brooder by himself. By noon, he was doing good enough that we brought the rest of the keets inside and put with him.

He was a little slow on his feet at first, and I thought perhaps he would be crippled, as I believed his neck and leg(s)  had been stepped on, but nope! By a few days he had perked right up and was running around with his siblings!

These are pictures from today, Precious, my little peachick has adopted these two little ones. I rehomed all the other keets, but couldn't bare to rehome Miracle and his sibling.

It truly is a miracle that he is alive today!

 Blessings - 

~ Aspen 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

No Touchy!

No Touchy!

One morning, about 10:00 a.m., as I was out milking Belle. I noted several white cow (or cattle egrets) birds flying over the barn. They pass through every now and again, so I didn't think much of it. I went about my daily chores, that evening we had church, so we didn't get back until after dark. I quickly flung off my town cloths, and again donned my dirty work clothes, slipped on my boots, and headed out into the cool night, armed with naught but a flashlight.
I locked everyone up without any incident. After I'd done so, I peeped inside the pen where my waterfowl sleep, just to check and make sure everyone was there. Now, most of my birds are white, but I noticed a tall, thin white bird standing in he corner. I unlatched the door, and went to investigate. I found a cow-bird staring at me! What the heck was he doing in there? I have no idea, but I knew I sure didn't want him spending the night with my waterfowl, so I quickly set to catching the varmint. After much chasing, I finally cornered him and managed to grab him up with one arm, and hold the flashlight with the other. I started walking out, I thought I would take him inside to show the kids before I let him go. Well, he had other plans! Just as soon as I walked out of the waterfowl pen, he opened his razor sharp beak, screamed like a..I don't know what...and tired to bite me. Y'all, I let go of him faster than you could deem possible! Next thing I know, he takes off into the midnight sky and I watched him disappear into the night.
Moral of this story: don't mess with cattle egrets...they are scary, and have big claws, sharp beaks..and..yeah don't mess with them! 
They mean business. ;)

Blessings - 

~ Aspen

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Black and White Striped Mayhem

Black and White Striped Mayhem

Someone had forgotten to latch the gate leading to behind the house, the horses had (of course) found the opening and were back there causing all sorts of mischief. 
I awoke to the sound of people talking, and running around frantically, trying to herd a herd of crazy galloping horses around, back to their pen.
 I slipped into some dirty jeans and headed outside to see if I could help. By the time I made it out here, they'd gotten them out and back into their pasture. I decided since I was already up and dressed, to let out the birds. In order to go through this gate, you have to duck under a tree limb, as I did so, I glanced up into the tree above me, to see two coons curled up asleep, high in the tree.

I kept two eyes on the coons, while Mom ran back inside to inform Cim that the morning's venture wasn't finished. 

He came back out, armed with a gun, and we began throwing rocks at the coons, trying to get them to wake up and fall out of the tree. Boy, what a wake up call! I kind of felt bad for the poor critters. :(

That was an epic fail, so he climbed up into the tree with them and began shaking it. I heard two "thump" "thumps" on the ground and caught a glimpse of the chubby coons hightailing it into the horse pasture. Meanwhile, Cim is stuck up in the tree and is trying to come down as quickly as possible. 
He jumps out and takes off after them..what I heard next sounded like a movie "bam bam bam bam bam bam bam bam bam bam bam bam!!!!!!" And I'm not even kidding, I thought each coon must've had at least 30 bullets apiece. Turns out, I was right, they didn't stand a chance.

The guys had to rush off to work, so I volunteered to haul them (coons) off.
Note to self: stop volunteering yourself. Bad idea..always bad idea.

Well, I got Carolina to volunteer her help, and it took some muscle, but we finally got them loaded in the bed of the pickup. We jumped in and headed out into the wild lands (a.k.a the cow pasture).
Once we're a mile or so from the house, we stopped and I shimmed into the back and was fixing to toss a coon overboard, when I heard a large creature(s) crashing through the mesquite. My first thought was "I'm in trouble!" Next, I saw a pair of long horns appear through the trees, attached to the horns guessed it a Longhorn. ;
Had you fooled there didn't I..yeah!!

Carolina yelped and jumped into the pickup bed where I was standing, by this time we had a mob of angry (hungry) cows staring us down from all sides. Oh dear.
I finished my chore of tossings (ok, actually it was more like groaning, struggling to pick up the shovel with the dead weight coon on it..but whatever..minor details) the coons into the pasture, then turned my attention to the delima at hand, i.e. - the mob of hungry cows who thought this girl (me) had food for them. 
Carolina jumped off the other side of the pickup bed and scrambled through the driver's door. I followed her example. I thought all the fun was finished..naw..not quite. Being the genius that I am, I parked on the road, in the middle of the pasture, and didn't really have any good turning ground, so I drove backwards several hundred feet until I found a clear that had a tree right in the middle of it. After demolishing a whole grove of trees (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating..maybe), I finally got turned around we zoomed out of there like maniacs. And that's the truth, the whole truth, and nothin' but the truth! 

Later that (hot) afternoon, we're cleaning out the Call duck and Bantam pen. Guess what I found on top of their hutch? Coon poop.

I no longer have any sympathetic feelings for the critters.

And thus ends our tail...err...I mean tale.

Blessings - 

~ Aspen  

Chia Seed Jelly

Chia Seed Jelly

So this is one of those posts that I took pictures of, planned to do a blog post on, AND......never got around to actually posting it. I meant to post this last year (yep, you heard right), but it slowly got pushed down the list and never came to be. Until now, that is!

Do you love biscuits and jelly, but cringe at the high sugar content of store-bough (or sometimes homemade) jelly? Me too.
I just knew there had to be a healthier version, so I did some researching and found that people were using chia seeds as the thickener, and honey for the sweetener. What? That's it??? Yes, it's that simple.

Unfortunately I do not have the amount of juice, honey, or chia seeds we used, but here is a short list of the ingredients and you can play with it, and add honey to taste.

Fruit juice (we used wild plum and grape)
Chia Seeds

Mix everything together and boil until quite a bit of the juice evaporates, and you've gotten it as sweet as you want. Then pour in jars, and refrigerate. 

Or, if you want jam, simply replace the fruit juice with your favorite whole fruit, such as raspberries, add a bit of water to your pot, and repeat the above instructions.

We didn't can our jam and jelly, as we knew we'd go through it very quickly, but you could certainly can yours if you so desired.

I'm telling ya, this was the best jelly and jam I've ever had! I have been known to eat this stuff straight from the's that good!

So, are you looking for a jelly that doesn't have a gallon of white sugar in it? Look now further!

Blessings - 

~ Aspen

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Birthday To Remember... III - The Last and Final Chapter

A Birthday To Remember....III - The Last and Final Chapter

Before I dive into the juicy, sweet details of this scrumptious post, I would like to post a few of the many pictures that inspired my recreations of hobbity food.

 I couldn't decided between a meat pastry or bread I combined the two. ;)

This is the picture I based "Sam's Stew" off of.
 And let's not forget po-tay-toes! Mustn't forget them, precious! No we mustn't!

Cake inspirations:

 This is the one I tried to recreate as best I could, however the lady used lots of candy to decorate hers, which looked really cute, but you know me, I'm a health foodie nut, so there was no way I was going to use that stuff. 
But, other than that I tried to copy-cat it as much as possible.

Because I'm an organizationalest (and YES, I just made up that word. Deal with it!), I tried to put these recipes in the order I made them.

Let's start out with our bread, shall we? Of course we shall!

I believe I doubled this recipe, and had plenty of bread dough to go around, so if you have a smaller group, then one recipe would be sufficient, methinks. ;)

Easy Bread Bowls

6 C. flour
2 TB. Yeast
2  1/2 C. warm water
2 TB. honey
2 t. salt
3 TB. oil

Dissolve yeast in water. Add all ingredients except flour. Beat 2 minutes. Add flour - blend till smooth. Cover and let rise. Stir 25 strokes - put into small buttered metal bowls. Let rise - bake at 375 till brown.  

I didn't actually carve/hollow out my bread bowls until later that evening, right before we feasted, but for convenience's sake I'm posting them here. Savvy? ;)

Find yourself a serrated knife, cut the top off your 'bowl', then depending on how thick you want the sides of your bowl to be, start cutting around the edges, then once you have it marked, use a spoon and hollow out the rest.

Don't forget to save your bread scraps! They are delicious paired with butter and honey. 

While the bread was baking (boy, did the house smell wonderful!), I threw together our lovely stew.

Sam's Po-tay-toe & Mushroom Stew

Ground beef - browned
1 Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
Small carton of fresh mushrooms
Salt to taste

The amount of ingredients depends on you, I made enough to serve about 12 people, so just eye-ball it.

Finely chop all your potatoes, mushrooms and garlic, add them into your pot with the water and barley. Once everything is done (i.e the potatoes, mushrooms and barley) add in your cream of mushroom soup.

When I saw this:

I just couldn't help but think of this:

 Your welcome. ;)

"A short cut to what?" - Sam
 "MUSHROOMS!!! - Pippin

Even though it was pretty chilly that day, with the oven and stove tops running constantly the kitchen was pretty toasty, so I made my icing and refrigerated it until I needed it. 

Buttercream Icing

1 C. butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 C. coconut sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
I had to make a quadruple recipe of icing to fit my needs.

Side Note: Set our your icing a good 40-60 minutes before you plan on using it, this stuff will harden up like a rock when it gets chilled. Go ahead, ask me how I know that....

Fili & Kili would have been proud of my recreation of Mr. Boggin's famous seed cakes! 
Recipe from my Middle Earth blog.

Mr. Boggin's Seed Cakes

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
  • Half a cup of seeds (I used Flax and Poppy seeds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons Coconut Sugar (for sprinkling on top of the loaves before baking)


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Grease four 4 1/2-inch springform pans (I used two small bread loaf pans).
  2. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl in between additions.
  4. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, seeds, and spices.
  5. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring well.
  6. Add the vanilla, combine.
  7. Add the remaining flour mixture, being sure not to overmix.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over the top of each cake.
Bake for 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.

I'm not gonna lie, I had way too much fun making this babies! My assistant, Carolina, was a great help. I iced them, while she did the majority of the decorating.

Hobbit Hole Door Cookies

First, I made a simply recipe of Peanut Butter Cookies:

 1 C. Nut Butter (I used peanut butter..for obvious reasons, one of those being I adore peanuts..)

1/2. C of Coconut Sugar

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 Large egg
Bake at 350F until done.

Meanwhile, while those are baking, grab yourself a double broiler and melt some chocolate chips (I used organic dark chocolate chips) to spread on top of your PB cookies.

Once your cookies have cooled off, spread chocolate on top of each one, then set them in the freezer to harden.
Next ice them with your fabulous green icing:

Using a butter knife, make slits in the cookie like so:

 Yes, I get carried away with my picture taking...and no I'm not going to apologize for that. No sir!

Once you're done with that, place a yellow M & M (or an organic yellow Sun Drop like I did) in the center for the door "knob".

All done! Aren't they adorable!!?? Of course they are! How could you possibly think otherwise? ;)

Lembas Bread

"One small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man." Legolas

2 1/2 cups Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
8 tablespoons Cold Butter (1 Stick)
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Honey or Maple Syrup
2/3 cup Heavy Cream or Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
I used a square tin lid to cut out my bread, then using a knife I made the cross. 
Bake at 350F until golden brown.

This is the post you've all been waiting for!

This is the base for the Bag-End Cake. 
Wacky Chocolate Cake

3 C. flour
2. C. coconut sugar
3/4 C. oil
6 TB. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
2 t. soda
1 t. salt
2 TB. vinegar
2 C. water

Mix and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

For the tiny Hobbit Hole:

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

2/3 cup white or golden quinoa
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round or square cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups cooked quinoa and the butter and continue to blend until smooth.
Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake on the center oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Once both of your cakes have baked and cooled, frost the top of your 'bottom' cake.

Next, cut your other cake in half and arrange like so:
Then continue to glob icing over every square inch until the cake has disappeared, like so:

It may seem like a simple task to evenly spread icing over a cake, but it's a filthy lie! 
Who ever told you that should be slapped!
If I was ever to decorate cakes for a living, you would have to pay me $1,000.00 an hour to ice cakes.

I was a natural at decorating cakes, as you can clearly see. *ahem*


Just look at all that yummy, green icing butter...

I decided to leave the sides of the cake un-iced, as it gave it a 'dirt' look/feel. Which I liked muchly!

In the process of getting the Chocolate Quinoa Cake out of it's respectable pan, part of it decided to fall apart. Not being one to cry over spilt milk, or in this case: crumbled cake, I used the crumbled cake bits to make a road leading up to Bag-End. I had to add height to my road by placing several graham crackers underneath.

Using tiny pretzel pieces, we made two adorable round windows:

Umm...yes, this is what a sister who is tired of me taking pictures looks like:

Needless to say I dropped the camera and fled the premises...

Dear little Sis' made a tiny fence using pretzels and icing:

Then we iced our road, to make it look wagon-worn. And using some blue/grey Sun-drops (basically healthy M&Ms) we made a stone path:

We stuck a leaf-laden branch into the roof of the cake to simulate the tree atop' Bag-End.

We used one of our Hobbit Hole Door cookies for the door:

Starting to look very hobbitish, yes?

I also used the Lego Bag-End as a model for my cake, so we displayed them side-by-side for comparison:

And of course we couldn't help but dress it up by adding the Lego Gandalf and his fireworks cart, and of course Frodo!

Take a wild guess what the sign says? 

"No Admittance Except on Party Business"

I told you I would bombard you with gloriously fabulous Bag-End Cake pictures!!

In closing, I would like to say a few words...

. . .
I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; 
and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

Blessings - 
~ Aspen