Sunday, June 30, 2019

Chocolate Cake - YUMMY - Flourless, Sugarless, Butterless

Lindsey sent this recipe to me and it is fantastic. The sweetness is from dates. It has no flour. Coconut oil , instead of butter,  cuts the cholesterol. It does have eggs. Give it a try. I frosted with a bit of no-sugar added peanut butter. LOL

I know the sugar from fruit will elevate blood sugar, but my doctor said not to worry about fruit during the 3 months leading up to my most recent A1C. I ate fruit  and snacks sweetened with fruit here and there, and my A1C still went down. I was grateful not to have to eliminate fruit. 


  • 7.5 oz  unsweetened baking chocolate or at 70% cocoa
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup pitted dates, or about 10 dates
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup  coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350*.

In a food processor, pulse chocolate, cocoa and baking until until texture of coarse sand. 

Pulse pitted dates, then eggs, coconut oil and vanilla. 

Transfer the batter to an 8x8 pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

Cool before serving. 

Sunday in the Valley

Church on the field today - we are on the second week of a series called "Playlist" - on the Psalms of Ascent. This is pretty amazing as I'm working through the psalms on my own. I love it when the Holy Spirit weaves strands together. 

Stacia stayed home with Nolan today. She said I could share that if she thought I was going to pressure her to speak after camp, she wouldn't have gone.   I encouraged her gently....and when she shared that she just didn't want to speak, I assured her no one would MAKE her speak - but someone needed to stay with Nolan or all of us needed to stay I let her stay.  I honestly feel like the Holy Spirit whispered to me it was more important for her to be at this camp and future camps than for me to work on her fear of being "up front" at this time.  Alex opted not to share as he felt the experience was too personal. Both have shared with me and I love how God has worked in their hearts this past week.  I agreed with Alex's thoughts on sharing. 

After church, Dad, Alex, me, and BreZaak went to DQ. It was fun to connect with them. It was  just too crazy to try to grill here at home today. 

I needed to pick up a lancet device and lancets at Fred Myers, and some ICE. Dad and Alex looked like they were lagging; I suggested they wait in the seating area. Doesn't look like they had a rousing conversation, does it?  

Check this out - a wire broken off from the fence system. Alex fixed it. He's so handy to have home. 

Josiah and Jamin came over to visit. CoRielle came up to join us. Krista and Michael polo'd they were crossing into Canada. There may well be radio silence for the next 1600 miles until they cross into Alaska.

When the guys went home, we visited a bit on the deck.... and then went inside to play Farkle.

I had noticed how hazy the mountain looked yesterday. I had smelled campfire in the air and was surprised someone was sitting around a fire when it was 89*.  What a ditz! I was aware there had been a fire early in the month on the Kenai peninsula....but I hadn't put it all together. I guess the air is terrible in Anchorage. It was pretty bad here yesterday and today. We couldn't see the mountains at all from the church or Fred Myers today.... Our mountain is hazy, but we could see it.

This not a sunset. We don't have sunsets at 9 p.m. This is the sun shining through the smoke. 

We have no big plans for the upcoming week. I do think I'll be transplanting some corn.....

Mini-Orchard Update

I've waited to be SURE how the mini-orchard had survived the winter before posting about it. It is safe to say all the trees are still alive. We were told the peach wouldn't make it. They are barely hanging in there, I'm not sure they will ever produce fruit....but we'll watch and see.  We weren't expecting any fruit this year, but we may get a few bites.  The plum trees appeared to  die, but are resurrecting.  Unfortunately, in one of them the main trunk seems to have died and it's put out new shoots. I don't think they'll produce well. The other one looks great. We may need to get another plum tree to cross-pollinate if this shooty one doesn't do the trick.  

We have a few Rainier cherries on the trees.  These are Michael's favorites. 
Rainier Cherry 

The two Meteor Cherry trees are full of cherries. 
Meteor Cherries
We had apple blossoms - Braeburn and Gala. 
Some day we'll have apples

This the plum tree we are questioning. 
The peach trees are putting out leaves. The leaves are curling so I need to take care of that. BUT they both have a few green leaves....we aren't willing to say they'll die. 
More Meteor cherries. I think they are pretty. 

We were told the peach would not survive and the others were iffy.  We were also told it would be 3 - 5 years before we saw any fruit. We are happy with where the mini-orchard is at this point.

We like to look at the trees and dream of a future fruit buffet. We'll be here long enough to watch the trees grow - that is an amazing thing to this missionary kid, who became a military wife. Perhaps nothing illustrates home quite as well as planting the orchard has.  We planted this orchard in memory of Dad and Mom G... it's a happy place. Blondie and Lucille like to hang out here. The moose haven't invaded. The bees have found the trees.  I envision trees big enough to block the road and provide shade. I see a turquoise table and a buddy bench or two out here for relaxing and welcoming others.....MEA is taking down the evergreens in a few years. We're hoping to have the mini-orchard in good shape when they do.
Perspective is odd - taken from the deck to the south of the trees 

Krista's Summer Adventure

Photo via Krista's FB - her uniform was in regs, I removed her name tag
Last Friday was a big day for Krista. She completed her final Chaplain Candidate Tour. Her next tour will be as a Reserve Chaplain.  She had the privilege of spending five weeks at Eglin AFB.  She enjoyed the staff, chaplains, and congregants, and reports that she learned many new things to round out her education.  Krista still has a few hoops to jump through before she can go Active Duty.  Although, the Army has told her they'll take her NOW.... Krista continues to make us proud. 

Krista went to VA , packed her car, and said goodbye to her roomie. Then she headed down the highway.  Wednesday night she met up with a previous youth leader in IL. 
Krista and Corrinna via Krista's timeline

Thursday night she arrived in Colorado and met up with Michael at Earl and Mary's (Michael's brother and wife).  They continued the trip to Alaska. At some point on Friday or Saturday they met with Michael's sister, Kathy. 
Photo via Krista

They've visited grave sites in CO and MT...spent most of Saturday in WY and MT....and should head into Canada tomorrow. They'll see new parts of Canada than we've seen before. We usually enter in WA. 

We're getting excited for you to reach Alaska, Krista! I think it would be o.k. to floor it in some of the wide open spaces...just a bit. LOL 

HUGE week for Josiah!

Josiah has had a plan for some time. He has steadily worked toward that plan, with a detour or two along the way.  This week he bought his first investment property. 
Photo via Jamin

It's a duplex in Eagle River.  He's busy doing a bit of work to rent out the bottom. 
Photo via Josiah

Josiah's time as a property manager in Anchorage will serve him well as he begins to manage his own property.

In the past year he has taken a property with a dismal leasing record, fixed apartments, and got it at, or near capacity, for months on end. In the process he learned the real estate business, got a firm grasp on Alaska rental law, learned how to evict those who needed to be, and how to graciously assist those who needed a bit of advice. He cleaned up the property and long-term residents were thrilled with him. This property had around 100 units.

This week he was offered a promotion....he will now be managing two complexes with around 300 units.

We're proud of your hard work and discipline. Most of all we are proud of your heart - which continues to mentor those around you. You leave each place you go a bit better than it was when you arrived.

It's good to see plans/dreams come together.

Jamin Excells

Photo from Jamin's timeline

Jamin received a Certificate of Excellence from Keller Williams for the amount of homes he sold in May.  Way to show the nay-sayers! LOL

Jamin also paid of all of his student loans  - quite an accomplishment. He did it right about the 2 year post graduate from the 2nd Master's degree.

We're proud of you, son!

Arielle Finished College!

I am about to schedule 4 "mommy posts." Those posts where I unashamedly brag on the adult Gherkins...because adulting is hard!  We are so very proud of Arielle (and Cory who will finish his course before the fall).  I can't say it any better than she did. Here is what she posted on her Facebook timeline.
Hatcher's Pass - taken by Arielle 

I did it. Turned in my last assignment for my last class with graduation planned for August. So much in 4 years: marrying my love, move to AK, my bennybear, multiple jobs, hours and hours of studying, tears, laughter, learning, growth, friends, countless papers, two different colleges, amazing professors, late nights, and so much LIFE! I don't even have words to really capture my feelings other than I did it. Climbed that mountain and now stand looking back; triumphant but also sad it's over.

It's hard to believe all the changes Arielle has navigated in four years. She's done it with grace and determination...

Way to go, Baby Girl. We're proud of you!  You've come along way since the dolphin cry in the van. LOL

Sunny Saturday

What does one day with unexpectedly sunny, warm temps? Make sun tea! 

Some were disappointed I did not make SOUTHERN sweet tea. I didn't make a simple syrup to add in. We have two who are supposed to be watching blood sugars. I put about 1/4 C Stevia in the gallon.....and then Dad added his little packets (sugar free), Stacia added a lot of sugar, and I added lemons.

It got to 89* here at our place today. Much of the day was spent keeping chickens comfortable, keeping Nolan comfortable and enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

 I took advantage of being home with Nolan to finally make dandelion salve. I plan to write up the directions for myself, "soon."

It was SO nice to have homemade spaghetti sauce canned and ready to go - though there is no sauce in this photo. This photo shows the salve stacked in the basement - a reason to linger in the basement where it was 10* cooler than our part of the house. 

Our ice maker couldn't keep up with the demand for ice from thirsty family members, and Nolan's jaw. I was bemoaning the need to drive to Freddies AGAIN...when I realized. CORY was at work. Cory wins man of the day award. He brought the LAST bag of ice home for us.  YES. But goodness, $100 for a bag of ice seems steep. 😜 (Cory was teasing me. The ice did not cost $100 a bag).

The corn I planted Wed is up. All but 2 or 3 have sprouted. We wonder if birds ate the corn in the garden. The stuff in the greenhouse did NOT gereminate. I decided to pull the corn out from under the light....

.....and put the other stuff under the grow lights. I will alternate them throughout the day so that all get their light....hoping these seeds will germinate with light and more moisture...less heat. 

By the way, the greenhouse is finally warm enough that I chose not to linger in it today. LOL We ended the day watching, "The Greatest Show on Earth."  It is actually a minute after midnight as I type...time to bring this to an end and go turn off the water.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Chicken Shaming and Odd Problem

I raised a ruckus to wake the dead because I wanted the nest box Harriet was in - not one of the 8 others! 

You can't see clearly in the photo above - but there are two hens in the box - jostling for position. Harriet won...and was indignant when I proceeded to take the eggs from under her. 

It started with the weasel attack. Then one of the hens attacked Lucille.  Shortly  they all had missing feathers....tail feathers at first. They had cabin fever. We put "no more peck" on the spots.  The bare spots grew. Their tush's are completely plucked. We gave them plenty of things to do instead of pecking. We isolated Lucille. Each time Lucille goes in she is TERRIBLY injured. She now free ranges during the day and sleeps in the garage.  The girls continue to lose feathers. Around their tails, their bums....Maybe you can blow up the photo and see. Any ideas? Could it be lice or mites? What have you found to help best if it is mites? They have dust baths. I have DE, but haven't used it on them. 

They all look like this.....

This year's group is happy on their side of the fence. There hasn't been much interest from the big girls at this point. 

Full Friday

My marching orders for the day came from an unexpected quarter. Benny said his first sentence. 

"Go find Yay ya."*
I got a picture of his first sentence 
The poor thing has been a bit at a loss with 3 of his people gone from the house.

 Dad, Nolan and I left the house shortly after this conversation. We stopped at Sportsman's Warehouse for a return.  Then we drove out to camp. Everyone was right on time and we were able to pick up Yayya and Ax. *
Beautiful camp
 Our first stop after camp was Walmart. While everyone picked out a sandwich from the deli for lunch, Nolan and I went to pick up a few fans.  We were unsuccessful.
Not ONE in sight. 
 Our next stop was the oral surgeon. Nolan is our 7th to have wisdom teeth extracted. I have never had this experience. No pre-consult. No ice packs, meds and such when we left the office. I expected to be given that stuff and had to run back to town after I got him settled at home.  I'll know what to expect with Alex. Nolan's jaw had started hurting and they got him in and took all 4 impacted teeth out. They had to drill, slice, dice and stitch.  I posted this photo on FB when we got home....

Then, I ran to FM to see if THEY had a fan, to buy some cold, soft food for Nolan and pick up meds for him. Everything cold is missing from the shelves. LOL I bought juice and made popsicles.   Brenda called me as I got home and said she had something which would be useful.  She insisted on bringing it to me, rather than me running to pick it up. Look at this - a jaw bra. I think I'll buy one.  This has made it much easier to ice around the clock.  

Somewhere in here I got dinner for everyone - though I couldn't tell you what it was.  I also connected with both  Alex and Stacia and heard about their camp experience. Their story to share or not to share.

10:30 p.m. is my favorite time of night around here. Here's a shot of the mountain. I love the light.  There is still a tiny bit of snow on the mountain - but it's in a crevice I didn't catch.

I was watering and heard a noise...we've not had moose since they tangled with the electric fence. 

 This one was very interested in our home....greenhouse and garden in particular. She wasn't too impressed with Phoenix's crowing. 

I took photos of the flowers in case she ate them. Can you believe this was about 11 p.m.? 

 I have been watering late at night....leaving the house open as long as possible so it can cool off....I will buy fans the next time they are in stock....even if it's 30*.

*Yayya is how Benny says Stacia (Stay Shu); Ax is Alex

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thursday Tidbits

The plants seem to grow INCHES every day....Cory suggested much more watering and they are loving the water, warm weather, and sunlight. 

I thought it about time to take down the Easter flags. 😏 

It is proving DIFFICULT to get any strawberries around here...the moose, Lucille the free range hen, Blondie the free range bunny, and some rodent all like the strawberries. BUT I got a handful this evening. 

CoRielle will be moving within a couple of months. It's been a blast to have them nearby to catch moments like this.....

And this - Benny practices to run marathons with Uncle Jamin

Krista has journeyed from Florida to Colorado and met up with Michael.  We miss these two. 

I think that ties up all the loose ends of the day. It's been a full day.