Happy Hepatica

After a long winter, I was ready to see those first signs of spring life in the forest.  My husband and I drove north to walk along the Namekagon River. This happy Hepatica plant was waiting to greet us as we stepped from the car. What a pretty little plant to usher spring growth to the woods!

Birdseed Wreath

Our adventures in feeding birds started with a gift from my husband’s brother and his wife. A star made out of birdseed. We hung it outside our picture window and it didn’t take us long to get hooked. After the star was consumed, I spent time on Pinterest to learn how to make my own seed creation. From there I have worked to make just the right combination of ingredients to attract our feathered friends.

I found the perfect mold for a wreath is the Tupperware Jel-Ring mold. The two piece mold lets you dry the wreath completely without worrying about the wreath developing mildew before it is completely dry.

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I formed a wire structure (14 gauge) to fit inside the mold before filling it with the birdseed mixture. The seed clings to it and the birds are able to hold on to the wire as they nip away at the remaining seeds. I attached an additional length of wire to make a hook to hang the wreath from. Once you make your wire structure you can use it over and over again.

Directions for Birdseed Wreath:

Add to a large bowl:

  • 4 cups Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • 2 cups Fruit and Nut Seed Mix
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Toss together until evenly coated.

Heat 3/4 cup of water until boiling in a glass measuring cup.

Slowly add while stirring:

  • 1 package Plain Knox Gelatin

Continue to stir until completely dissolved.

Then mix in:

  • 1/4 corn syrup

Pour into birdseed/flour mixture and stir until coated. Press mixture into mold.

 

Allow to dry for 24 hours. Carefully un-mold wreath, (it will still be damp). Set the wreath back on the inner part of the mold.

Allow to dry another 24 hours. Completely un-mold and allow to dry an additional 24 hours before hanging outdoors. Happy Birdwatching!

 

Wild Rice Cranberry Bread

Wild Rice Cranberry bread adds a wonderful compliment of tangy sweetness and texture to any sandwich, fresh or grilled. It also makes great toast. I prepare the wild rice ahead of time and then freeze in one cup containers. A quick thaw in the microwave and I am ready to make bread.

Wild Rice Cranberry Bread (using bread machine to process dough)

Makes two loaves.

Add ingredients in order to bread machine:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp softened butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp quick rise yeast

Set bread maker on dough cycle. Start machine. Check to make sure all ingredients have incorporated nicely and that dough is not too dry or sticky.

After dough cycle is complete, gently turn dough out onto a cutting board. Remove paddle from dough, punch down to remove air and shape into two loaves. Place each loaf into a greased, 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pan. Set, covered, in a warm place to proof until dough has doubled in sized (about an hour). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Turn out onto rack to cool before slicing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Sings My Soul…

I have always loved to sing. Even though I have a quiet personality, my vocal persona is loud. Just sit in front of me in church. You will know what I am talking about.

I grew up in a family where everyone likes to sing. My parents have great voices, and so do my siblings. When I was in 5th grade, my Dad started teaching me to sing the alto part. The first song I remember learning to sing harmony to is “Mansion over the Hilltop”. It had that easy 3rd below the melody all the way through. Once I learned to read music, I found myself always giving the harmony a try. Eventually, I could hear it, as easy as the melody.

My best friend, across the street, also loved to sing. From late grade school until graduation, we sang many duets together at church. During these years, there was always a place to sing. School choirs and special groups, church choirs and youth groups, I loved being a part of it all. I even started my college career wanting to be a choir director. (Although my secret ambition was to be a backup singer — a “doo-wop” girl).

Opportunities continued in adulthood. In school and college, out in the community, living at a camp and at church. Especially at church. Loving to sing and express worship to God is such a wonderful blessing.

When my kids were older I ventured back in to the workforce. I found myself in a career doing shift work, having no set schedule and where weekend work is requirement of the job. I could no longer be counted on, for practice or even performance due to my crazy schedule.

So, where does a person, who loves to sing, sing, besides the shower? Strangely, I have found my voice in exercise! Exercising has given me a place to open up and sing loudly (hopefully without driving my family too crazy.) A favorite CD, with great harmony and a closed door is all I needed. I even read that if you sing standing up and belt it out for an hour, you will burn 140 calories. And even more so if you move while doing so. And yes, at times I run out of breath doing it all. Performance grade, it is not. But, it rejuvenates both my body and soul.

And someday, maybe when I retire….My voice will still be in good enough “shape” to once again join with others in harmony. Until then, I think someone needs to add a decibel meter to my “FitBit” so I get credit, not only for my steps, but for my song as well.