Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Coping 101 - The Crazy Farm-Chick's Version

Sunrise on the farm

As I was enjoying the last rays of sunlight last Sunday before dusk descended, the day started off unseasonably cool and the harvest activity was virtually at a standstill.  With it being rainy and windy, I used that time to work on some baking projects and write,  and it was a perfect day for it.  When the sun came later that afternoon, I could hear in the distance that distinctive roar of the engine from someone’s combine, so I know somewhere, someone was cutting wheat.  The beginning of harvest has descended here on the Palouse and the flurry of activity will ramp up considerably in the next few days and this is what harvest will look like.

If you are a regular reader, you will notice that I often make reference in my posts about my “blog task-master, Kristi”.  I make her out to be a slave driver (which she sort of is) but she is more than my behind the scenes blog guru, she is a friend, a mentor and a confidante and everyone should have a Kristi in their corner. Not long ago she asked me one evening over dinner if I ever got discouraged or depressed.  I told her yes, sometimes I do, and she said then please write about how you handle it, as it may help others.   And the month of August, because of harvest, is a hard one for me, so how apropos to be asked to write on this topic.
This is where I write my blogs during the summer

There is just something about being in the Ag industry that gets in your blood and it's hard to explain.  And when August arrives, I know that it will be bittersweet and my emotions sometimes will be all over the place.   After the first year of being single, I was taken aback at how it had affected me as it sent me into a depression for about 2 weeks.  I thought with time that I wouldn’t miss it,  but so far, that has not happened.

For the most part, I’m an optimist, but once those combines start rolling, well I notice that I will feel  tinges of sadness.  Harvest is like the final finale of a fireworks show and it was always my favorite part of farm-life. And I think what I miss most is not being connected to the family farm. While I no longer miss the ex-farmer, what I miss is the frenzied activity, taking snacks or meals out to the field for the crew, and being memorized watching the wheat get cut as I sat in cab of the combine. 

Jay, Lisa and Zack Anderson (by law not related anymore, but by love we always will be )
Grand angel Miss B
Grand-angel Miss N
Taking goodies out to the field

Grand angel Miss M
The sights, sounds and smells are all the same, but it only serves as a reminder that my life is now that of a woman-owned farm and I am separate from a generational farm family. And I guess I am still settling into that role. So this year I have expanded my action plan of how to cope. (thankfully though the other 11 months of the year are exceptionally good)
The sign on my door of my shop, also known as "the chick pit"

Here is what I have found helpful when I need to set my attitude right again.  First you have to truly accept that sometimes life isn’t fair and that you have a choice on how to handle setbacks.  Do you let circumstances make you better or bitter? I can promise you that if you choose to take the high road, while it isn’t easy, you will never regret it.  And when your world is out of whack, know that it is okay to allow yourself to feel that emotion, shed that tear or two, and to remember to be gentle with yourself.  It is important that you don’t wallow in self-pity, don’t hold grudges, just give yourself permission to step back and regroup.  I’m an outgoing introvert, and I recognize that I need vast amounts of solo time to recharge my batteries.  Here are other things that I do (while not rocket science and you may deem it corny, it seems to help)

  •  Take naps (not at work… it is sort of frowned upon by the boss Lol) but a must on the week-ends

  •  Get outside and enjoy nature, go for a walk, sit in the sun and take in those sunsets/sunrises , this girl will spend lots of “quality time with the backpack sprayer” around my acreage and yes I do accept the fact that I’m an Ag nerd and that I like to spray weeds

  • Count my blessings (seriously, when you take stock of all the good things in your life, it will outweigh the not-so-good things)
  •  Spend time with family/friends (seek out the positive people – watch out for the toxic people)
  •   Bake ( and do it with abandon!)
  • Write/journal/paint or whatever your creative passion is ( don’t judge what flows out of you – just let the words or emotions come out)
  •  Read something inspirational (doesn’t have to be a book, although that is good, a quote might be all ya need!)
  •  Make happy plans and keep busy ( So what do you want to do??? And what are you waiting for???)
  •  Watch a fav movie (you might find me watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” in August, and it is usually accompanied by hot cocoa and being in Pjs.  Sort of to replicate winter) Lol
  •  Eat chocolate cake for breakfast on a week-end ( see my cake page… I have many versions of chocolate cake recipes.  Seriously)
  •  Listen to music ( I’m a Country fan and when the emotion in a song is real, the words might take you to your knees)
Personally for me, I like to do nice things for others without expecting something in return.  My love language is “acts of service” so doing something nice is a double benefit, it soothes my soul and hopefully an act of kindness will make someone else’s day just a little bit brighter.

If anything, you know yourself – so take time to be nice to you.  You deserve it. And if what I’ve shared, (as generic as it is) helps in some small way then I have succeeded in helping.

Lastly, I find humor helps too, so I’ve scheduled a trip to Montana as just the mere thought of getting to torment my Montana relatives will always cheer up this girl.   You should see what I’ve cooked up for my Mom’s 80th birthday party which will be held in the land of the “Big Sky Country”……let’s just say it involves toilet plungers, lab coats and crazy glasses and I’ve enlisted the warped-minded cousins who are always my partners-in-crime.  Don’t tell my mom please, as this is a surprise. When I’m the “event planner”….ummmm well, it has to be a bit on the crazy side.  Normal in my household is just a setting on the dryer and let’s face it, normal is just too boring.  
Me... in all my weirdness!  The last of the cookbook photo-shoot session and I can only be normal for so long. If you don't believe me, just ask my family. 
The photo to be used for my cookbook.... me trying to smile and look semi-normal (let me know if it's working??)

And lastly personal motto, “life shouldn’t be measured in what went wrong in your life, but rather it should be measured in what went right”
Remember the dark days will  give way to brighter days. (This was a view from my back deck in mid-June). The rainbow reminds me of when my former life crashed and burned, and then a new version of  "me" emerged and life is again full of hope and  new promise
As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by.  Feel free to send me your thoughts, ideas or comments, to  as it is truly is inspirational for me knowing if you like the blog or if it helps in some small way.  All my best, Gayle

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Pumpkin It Up.... a yummy Cookbook

One of the fun things about having a blog is when it attracts the attention from publishing companies and they graciously ask you to review their cookbook.  Can it get any better than that?   And if you know me, well that is like the frosting on a cupcake, as this girl loves to bake.  I bake when I’m happy, I bake when I’m sad, I bake when I’m under stress and it’s always time to bake when the little grand-angels come over.  I have personally started to train them to be “enthusiastic bakers” which in my world translates to “messy bakers” and I am the queen.  After a day of baking, well…. lets just say my kitchen will resemble what I would imagine what an explosion in a flour factory would look like.  (even my own mom won't let me bake in her kitchen...true story!  Lol )

One of my favorite flavors is pumpkin and when I was offered the chance to review “Pumpkin it Up!” by Eliza Cross, well it took me all of 2 seconds to respond back with - yes! And I have to tell you this is going to be one of my very favorite cookbooks.  This book offers recipes from starting your day with a Pumpkin Spice Latte to be enjoyed with (my personal favs)  Pumpkin-Apple Crunch Muffins or Pumpkin Applesauce Bread, slathered with pumpkin butter.  You could end the day with a slow-cooked Pumpkin Chili or a comforting Pumpkin Chicken Soup. 


The book starts out with the helpful hints whether you buy premade puree or make your own.  Personally I like to have my own homemade puree on hand and one afternoon of puree making yields numerous happy hours spent in the kitchen baking or cooking. Each recipe is accompanied by a stellar photo of the end product.  The recipes are easy to follow, no fussy techniques (always a plus for me) and all the recipes require basic ingredients. Here is the link to order your own  copy Pumpkin It Up

On a side note, I also was able to easily convert many recipes to gluten/dairy free for my brother Barry. He likes it when I get to demo a new cookbook.

As much as I enjoy the summer, I can’t wait till I get to harvest my own pumpkins again as there are so many recipes to still try.  Come on October!

I did want to tempt you with a couple more favorites of mine as well.......and the author graciously let me publish these.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Makes about 12 pancakes

1 1⁄2 cups milk
1 cup canned or cooked pumpkin purée
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
Maple syrup, for serving

In a large bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil, and vinegar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until combined.

Heat a lightly greased griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour 1⁄4 cup batter on the griddle and spread out slightly using a spatula or spoon. Brown on both sides and serve hot with maple syrup.~~

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 50 cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3⁄4 cup sugar
3⁄4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup canned or cooked pumpkin purée
1 1⁄2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir the flour mixture gradually into the butter mixture, alternating with the pumpkin purée, beating well after each addition. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12–13 minutes, until edges are just browned. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.~~

And with that, I’ll leave you for now as I’m working on the next article that was specifically requested from my blog task master, Kristi.  From the last blog post about courage and silver linings – well I received so many wonderful and heartfelt comments, that Kristi asked me to write about that hard topic of coping and discouragement.  So with that keep watching as the blog post is underway.  As always, feel free to email at  or leave a comment as I love to hear from you.  All my best, Gayle