Saturday, June 29, 2013


We finally found the baby goat, Squeaker.  He's just getting old enough to start coming out of the barn and explore his new world.

It's hard to scratch that itch when you're still a little wobbly
He has the most unusual markings on him.

He likes staying close to his mama.

Even though he tries to run around a bit, he tires quickly and needs to plop down for a rest.

It's so sweet to watch the care his mama provides, especially when she head butts and chases any others that get too close to her little boy.

I wonder when he'll realize he can slip between the grids on the fence and start to roam about the park like the others did last year?

Long Live the Queen of Goats

Friday, June 28, 2013

Photoshop Friday - bump

I've been working at trying to use motion blurs to enhance some photos.  Isn't that a kick in the pants that you work so hard to capture the precise moment and then add blur to it?

Anyway...I digress.  This is my youngest granddaughter playing soccer.  I liked the image of the two bodies coming together at a pivotal point of the game.  This is the original photo.

But then I thought it might look even better with a radial blur applied to the point of impact.

Then I redid it one more time to keep the center area in focus while blurring the rest of the background.

Does that add more drama to it?  Opinions and critiques are welcome!

Long Live the Queen of Blurry photos

Thursday, June 27, 2013

More views from Ham Lake Campground

I love the entrance into Ham Lake.  You exit from the busy traffic and enter a dirt road covered by a canopy of trees with a promise of quieter times ahead.

It feels like coming home every time we traverse down this pathway, meandering down the curving road where you are once again welcomed.

The first time I saw this I couldn't understand why it mentioned the nautical terms

Then I took a closer look....could this be a planter made out of a boat?

Yup - it's an old boat sunk into the ground and is now a planter.

In addition to the beach area of Ham Lake on the far side of the campground there are two ponds on the other.  The bigger pond is often a site for seeing Canada geese and Sand Hill Cranes.

I saw this family on my walk today.  Both parents were on guard for any danger to their babies.

When I ventured too close they sailed away for the safety of the far side of the pond.

I had spotted two large turkeys earlier in the day when in the car but failed to have my camera with me.  You just never know what you will find out here.

Long Live the Queen of Wildlife in the Campground

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's Cooking Wednesday - Give me S'More!

Now don't get me wrong, I like burning marshmallows on a stick as much as any kid.  But it can be such a mess with making the fire, spearing the marshmallows, assembling the s'mores.  You know?

So when the grandkids and their friends came to visit I decided to try a new tactic.  It was too hot to make a fire anyway.

Instead I whipped up a batch of these s'more bars with the enthusiastic assistance of four young girls.  It's amazing how all you have to do is wave a bunch of chocolate bars in the air and ask if anyone wants to help.  I still have a minor limp from the stampede.

Anyway, it's pretty easy and was very tasty.  And if you have a bunch of kids around there won't be much for left overs.  Here is the recipe - enjoy!

S’more bars

•1/2 cup butter, softened

•3/4 cup sugar

•1 egg

•1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

•3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

•1 teaspoon baking powder

•1/8 teaspoon salt

•5 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 ounces each)

•1 cup marshmallow creme 


•In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping.

ʥ Press remaining mixture into a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Place candy bars over crust; spread with marshmallow cr̬me. Crumble remaining graham cracker mixture over top.

 • Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.  Store them in an airtight container. Yield: 1-1/2 dozen.

Nutritional Facts 1 bar equals 213 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 28 mg cholesterol, 114 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat.

Long Live the Queen of Sweet Eats

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two Shoes Tuesday

I am taking a deep breath...getting in position...ready to dive in...and GO.

I am using the link to Two Shoes Tuesday with a weekly prompt to jumpstart my writing.  Todays prompt is to use the word BIG or WAITING.  The other posts I've seen have a photo image included and I do believe this helps create the inspiration, so this how I will approach this.

Here goes:   Waiting

After a lengthy self imposed sabbatical of no pets in our house we indulged in adding two furry traveling companions to our motorhome in which we live.

Each week I waited and monitored their behavior, looking for signs that they were adjusting, affirming that they loved us.

And each week brought new validations, calming my inner fears as they played more, ate more, asked to be cuddled.

But the ultimate proof was when Gracie, the female who could benefit from some kitty ritlin, chose to take a nap in the middle of the floor.  On her back.  In perfect trust and contentment.

I need wait no more.  My house is now a home.

Tuesdays Tale of Two Kitties

We are celebrating our fourth week of having George and Gracie as part of our family.  They have been adjusting nicely to our household.  Oh hell, let's just say it like it is.  They have taken over our household.

It all started with Gracie teaching George the art of manipulation, practicing with a ball.

All of their initial good house guest behavior has disappeared as they seem to realize that they are staying with us as their new wait staff.....I mean family.

George continues to be the mellow yellow big cat that he is until Gracie decides it's time to play and gets him running maniacally around the RV with her.
He says he's watching the perimeter for us, but I think he's actually asleep on the job.

He had a session with the yellow mouse on a stick (Oh Lord, that sounds like something you'd find at the Minnesota State Fair) and acted like a cat possessed.  I'd never seen him act that wild. Gracie tried to join in the fun but found it much like entering a hockey game with hard body checks and soon decided to become a cheerleader instead.

Finally!  It's mine...all mine!

Although cheerleader doesn't really describe her well.  Ring leader is more appropriate.  She is definitely the instigator in trouble here in river city.  Her abilities continue to astound me.

Psssst....George!  Wake up, I've not an idea!

When we visited Auntie Pond Lois and they were banished to staying in the car she locked the door.  Actually, I locked it the first time to make sure no children would accidentally release them into the wild.  But when I clicked the door open and continued talking with Lois, there was a loud click as the door locked again.

I thought it was an accident, and perhaps it was...the first time. We laughed about it and I unlocked the door again, turned to briefly give Lois a hug goodbye, and we both heard the door lock shut.  Gracie seemed to actually be smirking, but then she has a perpetual smirk on her face.  I'm beginning to understand why.

When it happened the third time I knew it was no longer an accident.  She had found the button to push to make that cool ka-chunk sound.  I unlocked it once more, opened the door quickly to get in and forgot about it.  Until today.

She looks so innocent when she's sleeping....but don't believe it.

Early in the day when I first wake from the morning light, I like to remove my CPAP mask and just linger beneath the sheets for a while.  This is when the cats both begin to move in with visions of cat food being served for breakfast.  It's a regular little love fest with lots of head butting, marking, nudging, happy feet and purring.

But apparently I had dozed off a bit instead of getting up to care for my livestock like a good little farm girl.  Picture it:  I'm dozing comfortably when I hear this loud rushing of air.  Not a fan, not a storm, just a steady blowing of air.  Looking to see what the noise is I spot Gracie sitting on top of my CPAP machine and the light is on.

"Silly kitty"  I proclaim and reach underneath her to turn it back off.  Then I rolled over to try to return to that vanishing dream about George Clooney and...what the heck!  The air is gushing out again.  I roll over and spot Gracie with her foot on the CPAP button that turns it on.  She looks rather smug.

Still convinced it was an "accident" but curious, I stayed on my left side to watch.  I am in such denial when it comes to these things.  Like the textbook child of alcoholics I've learned to ignore the elephant in the room and come up with some realization for anything that seems amiss.

But no.  I watched as she demurely looked down at the button from her perch and with great satisfaction places one white paw on the button and pushes.  Well I'll be damned!  Now I'm certain the car lock incident was not an accident either.  The air is gushing out of the mask laying next to me on the pillow and she's looking at me with an expression of "well, whatcha gonna do now?"

So I did the only possible thing.  I got up and fed the cats.  I can see that I'm going to have to keep a close eye on Gracie.  She definitely knows how to push all my buttons.

I can't believe I ate the whole thing!

Now I understand why George disappears into the far recesses when he wants to nap.  He's hiding from Gracie as best he can...but it's clear none of us will ever be safe.

She's always watching ...and she knows where we sleep.

Long Live the Slave to Cats

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mandarin Orange Monday - Bonus post

Today's post is very special to me as it showcases the talents of a friend of mine who makes the most inspired cakes.  I thought I had posted this before, but found it in my draft files so today there will be Mandarin Orange posts.

Say cheese!

When she and her husband were invited to supper before we left the La Crosse area she told me that she would bring cheesecake for dessert.  So I cleaned up some blueberries and strawberries for a topping.

When she arrived, this is the cheesecake that was presented!

It was delightfully orange inside and out!  It was orange flavored with orange marmalade for the filling and used freshly squeezed orange juice for the liquid in the recipe.

The tiny mice were very tasty.  Now I know why cats hunt them!  My favorite were the little mouse turds, but that's just me.

Long Live the Queen of Cheesecake

Mandarin Orange Monday

Robins are always the first sign of spring
and I love the orange chest.

I decided to make the surrounding dandelions orange as well to match.  There's just nothing like a color coordinated yard!

Then I finished it up by adding poster edges to snap it up as the image was a bit soft.

Long Live the Queen of Bob Bob Bobbing Along

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Learning ventriloquism

I'm thinking of taking up ventriloquism as a hobby.  I never intended to do this, but I learned the perks of this recently.

Left Brain was golfing and had the car, so I took my trusty little scooter, Harley Worth-It, into town to meet with some friends for lunch.

With all the rain we've had lately there is a plethora of insect life at the campground.  Our helmet does not have a face guard and it's amazing even at only 25 mph how much those bugs can hurt when they smack into your face.  It's even worse at higher speeds.

But the pain of impact is only one part of it.  I'm starting to understand why bikers in general don't smile much.  I thought it was just part of the tough biker image.  But while zipping along on an electric blue scooter, it's really hard to look tough.

You need to understand that I love to talk to myself.  I talk to the cats, to Left Brain, to anyone that will listen.  But some of my favorite conversations are with myself.  Maybe it's because I win most of my arguments.  Not all of them, but most.

I also love to sing and especially while driving.  So here I am, chatting away to the birds, turtles and whatever while on the scooter when a bug of some unknown species smacked me in the mouth.  And I mean IN the mouth.  I was so shocked that I swallowed before I knew what happened.

Thankfully there was no bite or sting, so there wasn't any pain involved; just the unpleasant image of some large insect going through my digestive tract.

You might think this would be enough to shut me up, but I don't stiffle myself that easily.  So I continued my chatter and singing, but with lips closed.  I don't know how much my lips moved or what it looked like, but it sounded pretty good to me...and probably to the huge honking bug crawling down my throat on his way to my stomach.

If this develops further, I may have return to my dollmaking and fashion up some kind of dummy to work with. 

Long Live the Queen of Dummies

Saturday, June 22, 2013

This really sucks!

I admit it, I'm pretty easily entertained.  Now that we have furry creatures in the house, the old cheapo upright vac we bought a year ago (for about $38) just isn't cutting it any more.

Time for a new vac to control this mess!

I've owned Dyson's in the past and can't say enough good things about them...except for the price.  They are well constructed and easy to use and do a great job.

With our new smaller surroundings storing a monster vac is no easy chore, especially with all the kitty toys and scratching posts around here now.

So I opted for the Dyson stick - small, thin, lightweight with incredible suction power.  It's cordless, so no need to wrestle with the cord that needs to be rewound.

It's little enough to sit up in the front area behind the driver's seat...ready for action.  You can unclick the long tube and insert the attachments making it a hand held vac as well.

Kitty litter beware!

Long Live the Queen of Clean

Friday, June 21, 2013

Photoshop Friday - images from the pond

I shot this waterlily bud while visiting my friend Lois. 
This is the original image.

Then I had to mess with it and apply my favorite filters.  Since this is a water plant, I tried the watercolor filter first.

Then I wanted to see what the dry brush filter would do.

And of course there's my all time favorite of poster edges.

And finally, just because of the wet theme I checked out the sponge filter.

Which one is YOUR favorite?

Long Live the Queen of the Pond

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This mystery bug is revealed

Leave it to Lois to track down somebody to identify the bug I saw in her garden.  It is a male Ichneumon Wasp - Megarhyssa atrata.  Try saying that three times real fast.  I couldn't even say it once.

She even provided some interesting factoids about them.

The females have really long ovipositors that they use to insert eggs into grubs in decaying wood.
They check out the holes in dead trees and listen for chewing grubs. If they hear one, they insert their ovipositors into the hole until they spear their quarry.
The grub is then the host food for the larva when it hatches.
Yikes!  Not exactly the perfect dinner guest to invite over, huh! 

And here I just thought it was some big creepy bug.  I had no idea it was as interesting as all that.  I bet that the long fancy Latin name for them just means big creepy bug.

Long Live the Queen of Bugs

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Settled back into Ham Lake Campground

Last year when we stayed here we were just figuring out this life in an RV, so it feels great to settle into someplace familiar as we start our second year of full-timing.

This is a sweet little park, friendly and inexpensive.  We took our same campsite in the shade again, but we think next year we'll opt for one of the sites next to the pond.

It would be a different view for us and enhance our satellite reception.  But it's hard to beat the coolness of the shade when it gets hot and sticky.

the new improved bird feeding station - only problem is the lack of birds

We had the granddaughters over on Tuesday and did our first walk through of the park.

when the kids come bearing corn the goats come a running

The first item on the agenda was to feed the goats and look for the newest member, Squeaker, who was born just a week ago.  He and his mom must have stayed in the barn, because we never sighted him.  Perhaps next time.

The workers are removing weeds from the beach area and getting it all ready for the warmer weather scheduled to come soon. 

The girls took a walk out to the swing set to see how cold it is.

They reported that it felt pretty nice so I'm guessing that the next visit will involve some swimming and splashing.

Emily spotted what looked like a gum wrapper in the grass, but it was a dragonfly with some bent up wings.  We visited him for a while and then placed him back in his spot.

It looks like there are some geocaches near our area, so perhaps we'll need to get the girls to help us search for those as well.  There's never a shortage of things to do out here.

Long Live the Queen of Canned Ham Lake Living

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What is in a name?

As many of you know I am addicted to Safeway Foods coconut curry soup and buy it every chance I can.  So, since we are in a large metropolitan area I searched the internet to see if there was a Safeway nearby where I could shop.

You can imagine my surprise and pleasure when I saw there was a Safeway only 9 miles away!  So I headed out to do the grocery shopping with such high spirits.  I drove past the Cub Foods that is much closer to our location, but I could taste the soup with each mile I traveled.

Soon I was in a not so desireable part of town but since I was so close and in a soup frenzy by now I persevered.

And then there it was!  Safeway.  But not the Safeway I was expecting.  This was a dumpy corner building with bars on the windows and doors advertising liquor and tobacco.

I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.  Left Brain had no such dilemna - he laughed.

Long Live the Queen of Dashed Hopes

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mandarin Orange Monday

I love dragonflies. 

They are such a brilliant electric blue. 
And what color goes best with blue?  
Why, orange of course!

Long Live the Queen of Dragonflies

Best Friends Forever

Our previous cats barely tolerated each other, so it is amazing to watch these two who are deeply in love.

They don't always sleep together, often they head to their separate corners for long naps.

But often they can seen together snuggling and grooming each other.

George is easily twice Gracie's weight, so sometimes she likes to stretch out and show off her impressive full length.

Life is so much better with this dynamic duo in our lives.

It's hard to picture these two tearing across the RV full speed chasing each other....and then they are like this.

Long Live the Queen of Compatibility

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The art and magic of Lois's pond and yard

My friend, Lois, has the same creative juices that I had when transforming my grass into gardens.  She enjoys subtle hidden humor and everywhere you look there is something new to be found and enjoy.

Like my yard, she does much of this work herself, with help from her husband, Lee.  She prides herself on finding items to be up- cycled into artwork instead of cluttering up a landfill.

Most people would just stack their wood into a normal woodpile...not Lois.  She found these two huge tree trunks that were going to be thrown away and cleared out the centers to make a visually appealing and fun wood pile.

Some would say it makes a wonderful "frame" for your photographic subject.

She loves antiques and much of what she uses came from the old family farm and is now finding new life in creative ways.

Many of the artistic piling of objects are simply placed and balanced with no chemicals used to hold them together.

We talked about how this is symbolic of life.

That it is important to arrange your values in such a way to create balance and harmony.

To me it also speaks of how fragile life is, being able to tumble and come undone in a heartbeat.

I guess it also reminded me how "unbalanced" I can be sometimes when things get out of whack.

Even though there is plenty of artwork to enjoy, it's hard not to stop and sniff each of the plants that abound.

The pond is it's own special delight, and even though it is quite large, it's really a small part of the overall yard and gardens.

I have no idea what kind of insect this was that came in to say hello, it's very unusual.  I thought at first it might be a dragonfly, but I'm just not sure.

This metal dog sniffing up the tree cracked me up.

Another collection showing her love of things from yesteryear and showcasing their wonderful colored glass.

You can never have too much metal artwork and this creature visiting the birdbath brought a smile to my lips.

Just when you don't expect it, there's another little burst of color hidden among the plentiful ground cover.

They managed to harvest many of the rocks themselves that are used in the garden, hauling them for a great distance down the hillside.  She is not afraid of hard work and has the arm muscles to show it.

Another balancing act using hollowed out stumps.

More rocks delicately balanced in the garden.

There are lots of places to sit and enjoy the view as you tour this massive yard, and lots of shade to make it enjoyable.

This huge ball was commissioned by her to be created as a large tree ornament.  It also doubles as a bird feeder that allows the birds in but not the squirrels.

Part way up the hill there is an old bike - to me this gives a whole new meaning to having a mountain bike.

Watch out for the metal woman that lurks in the woods!

We came across these sweet little red mushrooms while on our walk.

These are just a small sampling of the polliwogs in the pond, there must be hundreds of them.

But to me the best part of this garden tour was when she told me how much visiting my yard had inspired her.  That was the richest praise anyone can ever hope for.

Watch for more photos of her pond on Photoshop Friday.  There was a sweet little water lily bud that just begged to be photographed and manipulated later.

Long Live the Queen of Garden Friends