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Life On A Ranch

Since my last column, we made it home from Montana and hit the ground running… and I mean that literally.  I’m in a December “step challenge” at work and it is keeping me moving through the holidays!  I don’t think it’s completely fair to be competing against young-childless-whippersnappers who can go workout in the evenings instead of going to sit in the bleachers to watch basketball.  But I signed up for it and while it doesn’t look like I’ll win any first place trophies, it is a good time of year to be challenged to move more!

We are thick into winter sports and our evenings and weekends are full with games and tournaments.  Katelyn is playing basketball and Cooper is planning to start soon.  Lucy was released from her knee brace and was given the OK to start working on a bit more strength training.  She’s hoping to be able to start jogging by the end of January and has the next six weeks to build back enough muscle to do so.  The light at the end of the recovery-tunnel seems closer, but still quite aways away, especially when winter sports are in full swing and sadly, she’s not.

Speaking of winter… it has officially barged in our very long and very lovely fall.  Ice-y snow is currently pelting the windows and there is a fresh covering of snow on the ground with more expected over the next twenty four hours.  Buck, Lucy and Cooper had big plans to go bird hunting in Keating today, but with the fresh snow and cows to take care of, bird hunting quickly got morphed into extra chores instead.  In addition to feeding, Buck needed to move some machinery around for this coming week.  It seems like a good time to mention (in case I haven’t), how much I thoroughly appreciate Lucy being able to drive.  Having her drive (vehicles as well as machinery), so she can help Buck on the weekends and after school is a huge help not only to Buck, but also to me.  It’s not that I mind helping with those tasks, but on days like today, I really value getting to stay home so I can get caught up.  Thanks to my extra time at home today, I even managed to get a couple loaves of French bread started.  I won’t have it baked, but will bring it ready to stick in the oven up at Jeb & Kaitlin’s in a few minutes.  The girls and I are headed up to their place to snuggle their very new, and very adorable, baby girl, Abilene Joy.   

The remaining loaf of bread will go in our oven to go with chili tonight.  Earlier this week, I realized our kids haven’t seen some of the classic Christmas movies.  Tonight, we’re having a family movie night so we can enjoy the first classic together, “It’s A Wonderful Life”.  Not all of our teenagers are super excited about this plan.  I told them if they love it, we’ll watch another one next weekend.  And Buck told them if they don’t love it, we’ll watch two more next weekend!  I actually haven’t seen “It’s A Wonderful Life” in such a long time that I can’t predict if they’ll like it or not.

With Christmas fast approaching, I’d like to say I’m all done shopping and wrapping and that I’m ready.  But that’s just not true.  I haven’t made a Christmas card yet, and definitely haven’t addressed any envelopes!  I haven’t wrapped a single thing.  I haven’t even put away the Christmas décor boxes, but we did get a Christmas tree and have it decorated!  All in all, I’m way behind.   I do have a half gallon of cream in the fridge so I can make “Eggnog” or rather, my version of Eggnog.  The kids informed me today that store-bought Eggnog isn’t good compared to homemade.  Then they added that it’s not even as good with store-bought milk.  They have such high standards!  Since I don’t have a milk cow right now, I guess they’re going to have to live with whipping cream from a carton.

Today, as my early Christmas gift to you- I’ll share this very easy No-Egg-Egg-Nog recipe, given to me by my friend Tamarah many long years ago.

*Note: Fresh milk and cream recommended by The Matthews children.

 

Tamarah’s No-Egg-Egg-Nog

4 cups milk

1 (big) box vanilla pudding mix

½ cup sugar

1-2 tsps vanilla

1 tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp cloves

pinch of salt

1-3 cups of whipping cream (whipped)

 

Instructions: Whip 1-2 cups of whipping cream (I don’t measure. I simply whip up more cream than seems necessary.) Then, mix the milk and pudding until the pudding is dissolved.  Add sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and salt and mix well.  Fold in 1-3 cups of whipped cream.  Chill for a while. Shake or stir well before serving.  I like to refrigerate in gallon glass jars.

I make several batches every year and usually share it with friends.  You can use instant or regular pudding, both are good.  Instant makes it a little more thick, regular a little more thin.  It’s not a recipe that requires being exact.  I actually don’t tend to use recipes that require being exact!  You can add more or less of the spices and the amount of whipping cream is definitely something to adjust based on your taste!

I hope to make some Eggnog this week.  I also hope to complete a few more of the Christmas tasks that need to be checked off my list.  In the meantime, it's hard to believe this is my last column of 2023.  I’m not quite ready to dive into deep reflection over the last year and I’m definitely not ready to make a list of goals for 2024.  The older our kids get, the less I find myself looking to the future and making plans.  Not for lack of care, but more awareness of the fact that the future seems to come a lot faster than I want it to.  Our kids, the girls in particular, are very much in a season of planning for the future and looking ahead.  And every time they do, I flinch a little; I’m reminded that over the years, some of the days have seemed slow, but the years have gone by awfully fast.  The ice-y rain pelting our windows today sounds just like the winter-storm that was pelting the windows of the old Wallowa Memorial Hospital the night Lucy was born, 17 years ago this coming Friday.  That means 2024 is our last full year with her at home before she graduates and leaves for college in 2025.  So, if I had to think of a goal for 2024, it’s to enjoy the days, ones that don’t seem long anymore.  My goal is to enjoy the time we have left with all three kids at home…. Even if, since starting this column, they didn’t want to watch all of “It’s A Wonderful Life” with us! Looks like we’re going to be watching two classic Christmas movies next weekend, right out here in Union County! ~Chelsea

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