Friday, March 30, 2012

Molly~ Pony with a Purpose

This is Molly and her story will amaze and inspire you. Please watch the video and share 
with others on your blog, Facebook or Twitter.

ABOUT MOLLY - Molly the Pony was rescued by Kaye and Glenn Harris after Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, several months later she was attacked by another Katrina rescue going through emotional trauma, a pit bull. Although her other numerous wounds healed, her leg did not make it. Her rescuer and now owner, Kaye Harris went to bat for Molly, requesting amputation and a prosthesis.
This is rare and there were obstacles that were overcome and now Molly visits anyone who could use her quiet wisdom and inspiration. She has impacted and inspired many people of all ages and abilities. A children’s book was written about her and her story has traveled around the world. We formed a non-profit Foundation called

Its purposes:
· To care for Molly and other retirees or rescued ponies for the rest of their lives.
· To support Molly's work with those who need her inspiration.
· Administer educational programs for children using ponies to support what they are learning in school. · Rehabilitative programs that utilize Molly and the other rescued/retired ponies for improved social, ethical, mental and emotional health.

Molly visits organizations such hospitals, schools, nursing homes, army bases. We’ve been local here in New Orleans and also been to various places in Louisiana, Texas, Ohio, Kentucky and Alabama so far. However, we have requests from ALL OVER the United States for her to come spread her “Molly Magic”!

We have made our goal of getting Molly the trailer she needs to continue making her visits! Abig thank you to all who have donated and helped us reach our goal!
We still need a truck large enough to pull the trailer and dependable enough to take Molly all across the country. We are also looking for sponsors to help cover the expenses of making these trips.

PLEASE – Tell everyone you can think of what we are looking for. We know there is someone out there who can help MOLLY fulfill her mission in life and bring her to all who need her. If you can help with any size donation or idea at all please let us know!

You can contact us at kidsandponies-molly

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chicks, Bugs and Compost Cookies

The Dogwoods are in bloom all over Granny Mountain, that soaking rain and cool temperatures last week were just perfect for pushing the buds open!

Everywhere I look, something is popping out of the ground!

I read a great tip last week from a gardener in Texas who uses pennies from her change jar to surround Hostas as a slug deterrent. Slugs won't cross copper because it imparts a slight electric charge when they touch it. Who doesn't have a handful of pennies in a purse or a pocket, on the kitchen counter or in a cup holder in the car?

In the Garden...
I potted up some beautiful spring flowers this week; pansies, Johnny jump-ups, petunias and Sweet Williams. Mom always called them "Pinks," I think because the edges of each petal look like someone has taken pinking shears to them! They are of the Dianthus family and in Arkansas they can be an annual, biennial or a perennial depending on how severe our winters are. 

You may see "volunteer" plants coming up in your flower beds this spring after last winter's mild temperatures. That's a plus for any gardener, saving you time and money not having to replant for each season. 

I leave these in pots until warmer temperatures arrive, then transplant to my flowerbeds. Easy to care for, they thrive all summer and give me another show of color going into cooler temperatures in the fall.

I'm probably pressing my luck setting these tomato plants out this early, but I just couldn't say no!

Three tomato plants, one lone jalapeno...

I'll add cilantro this week to this galvanized tub on the deck. The makings for
 Texas Pico de Gallo just a few steps from my kitchen! 

I saw a great idea on Pinterest this week to start a compost bin. Why we haven't done this before now escapes me, it's been on my To-Do list every year. Grandma had a little metal bucket that she used for kitchen scraps that set on the counter, handy for peelings and egg shells. They were added to the compost pile at the edge of the garden along with grass clippings. Grandpa would turn it over with a pitchfork that set nearby and in no time, the mixture turned into rich soil. If you've been wanting to have a compost bin too, just go HERE for EZ instructions!

On Bug Patrol... Last week's problem with ants is being solved, I'm seeing the big black "Tree Ants" carry the Terro granules up the tree trunks. GOODBYE to them once they share with the colony and most importantly the Queen.

Just a reminder, this is a good time to get Flea and Tick granules down in your yard. They are saying this is shaping up to be a very bad year for ticks. If you time it just right, these frequent showers will water in the granules for you! It may say Flea and Tick on the bag, but this easy to use pest killer eliminates cockroaches, spiders, cutworms, scorpions and many other insects. To keep them out of your home, you need to treat your yard.

In the Kitchen this week...Compost Cookies. You won't believe the ingredients, everything but the kitchen sink! Basically a chocolate chip cookie gone wild with used coffee grounds... please read on... crushed Fritos, potato chips and pretzels, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and oatmeal.

Compost Cookies from the Oatmeal Cookie Blog
1 1/2 sticks butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons dry, used coffee grounds (this is NOT a misprint, save them from this morning's coffee!)
Wet Ingredients
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
Dry Ingredients
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup flour
3/4 cup roughly crushed potato chips
1/2 cup roughly crushed pretzels
1/2 cup roughly crushed Fritos
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. In your Kitchen Aid or a large mixing bowl, cream together the creamables.
3. In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients and whisk together until smooth.
4. Add the combined wet ingredients to the creamables. Mix together until well incorporated.
5. In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, fold together until evenly distributed.
6. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the combined creamables and wet ingredients. Mix until evenly combined. (At this point you can chill the dough to bake later)
7. Shape dough into balls--about 2 tablespoons each.
8. Place dough balls about 2 inches apart on Silpat- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.
9. Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes. Then place cookies on wire racks to cool.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Bigness Index

 There was a fascinating article in this week's Arkansas Democrat Gazette about the many "Champion Trees" that abound in Arkansas. They posted a picture of a black walnut tree that's an impressive 93
feet tall and 191 inches in circumference. Julius Russell, who is now 89 used to spend all winter long shelling the walnuts that dropped from that tree, sharing with friends and family. Their farm near Bentonville also is home to the state's largest slippery elm tree, 75 feet tall and 14'1" in circumference.

 The Arkansas Forestry Commission uses a "Bigness Index" to determine the largest trees. Reports come into the office and the Forestry Service follows through to check on the size. Washington county alone has 4 of the largest trees in the state. It's really amazing that these trees have survived, considering the extremes in weather that we have here. Winters can be as cold as -20 and summers... well last year we got up to the 120 degree range in some parts of the state. Add ice storms, tornadoes and floods and it's a miracle they make it just a few years.

 The trees here on Granny Mountain are big, just not that big. But we're guessing they are in the neighborhood of 80+ years old. This old oak has all but swallowed up the barbed wire that once wrapped around it to mark the owners' land. Fence row trees, Grandpa called them. He did it too on his property some 100 miles from here.

 You'd think it would strangle the tree, but instead the mighty oak overcame the barrier growing taller and getting  bigger with each year.

This oak that borders our driveway measures 103" in circumference and is close to 100 foot tall, but that's not a record!

The largest tree in Arkansas, in fact the largest tree in 40 of the 50 states is in the
White River National Refuge at St. Charles, Arkansas. A Bald Cypress, it is an amazing 120 feet tall and 516 inches in circumference. The Forestry Service estimates it's age 1000+ years old. Pretty amazing, don't you think?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Squirrel Talk

 "All winter long she's been feeding me Ritz crackers, sometimes even those cinnminamon graham crackers I love too"....

"So this weekend when she left the door wide open, well I thought it was an invitation to come on in"... "I mean it was wide open, what else could it mean?"

"So I thought about it a minute, then I just hopped down and was going to go in for a visit"...

"After all, she's so nice... look at all the pretty flowers she's planted just for me!"

--"I couldn't believe it when she gets all upset and shoos me out! Hoomans, who can explain them to me?"

Friday, March 23, 2012

Princess Swagger

If you'd like a trip to Disneyland this morning, complete with rides and cotton candy... come along for a Pinkalicious day with Sophia Grace and Rosie on this hilarious clip from the Ellen show! It will make you feel 6 again, it will make your head spin, and you won't need sugar for a week after watching this! Have a great weekend....

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bug Patrol

When the girls were growing up, we lived out at Horseshoe Bend and had a little flock of chickens. They provided the eggs we needed and did double duty as "bug prevention officers!" I'd turn them out from their coop and they would spend the day happily clucking and eating every last bug they could find. Mr. Big watched over his girls with a keen eye, nothing got past him. He was protector, boss and leader all in one package!

It's me on "Bug Patrol" this week, keeping an eye out for the black ants that I've been seeing in an upstairs bedroom window. We live on the side of a mountain so this window is like 40 feet off the ground. Why in the world would ants crawl up that far to reach a window sill? I looked on GardenWeb and saw it is a common problem caused from extremes in heat or wet weather. That's exactly what brought this on.,, last summer's dry spell of extreme heat was when we first noticed the big black tree ants in the house. Just one or two, but they are uninvited guests so I was beside myself how they were getting in and where they were coming from. When I was planting flowers along the fence last weekend, that's where I really saw them. Hundreds of itty bitty black ants.

A quick email to Ask the Master Gardener on the Farmers Co-op site and I received an answer back the same day. Did you know that ants are the #1 bug problem for Americans? If you use a spray all you do is kill the ones that are in the area. Liquid baits are the way to go. The ants carry the liquid back to their colony and the Queen, the only way to completely eradicate them. They recommend Terro's Liquid Bait Stations, a product that is made in indoor and outdoor applications. I bought both and by the second day, the ants in the sill were DEAD as doornails! The outdoor stations are placed along the fence and I hope the ants have a Big Buffet on the bait! I also bought the granules after watching a video on Terro's website. If you'd like to see how bugs can get in your house... even if you think there is NO way, watch this informative video by Terro.

The Dogwoods are just beautiful right now, these warm days and spring showers are just what we needed. I'd like to replace some boxwoods with pretty pink azaleas along the front of the house, that's on this coming weekends to-do list... or should I say Ta-Da List? Pop over to Ta-Da's website and make yourself a handy-dandy little reminder that can be added to all week long (just so you don't forget anything) and then printed for Saturday's shopping trip! Of course it works on the iPhone!

Farmers Co-op Want List
Blackberry, Boysenberry, Raspberry, Grapes, Blueberry, Muscadines?
1. Terro Liquid Indoor Bait Traps
2.Terro Outdoor Bait Stations
3. Terro Ant Killer Plus Granules
4. 10 pink Azaleas
5. Tomato and pepper plants, asparagus and rhubarb
6. Mushroom Compost 
*Mushroom Compost is a must if you are planting anything right now. It's light enough to perfectly cover those tiny seeds and it gives a boost to bulbs, new plants or trees. Simply add it to the hole you plant in and cover with soil.

In the Kitchen this week, a recipe shared from Master Gardener Richard from the Lincoln, Arkansas Farmers Co-op for Peanut Butter Cake! This one is a keeper... guard with your life!

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 sticks margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
In a 2 quart mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, soda and salt; set aside. In a saucepan bring oil, margarine, peanut butter and water to a boil. Pour over dry ingredients. Add eggs, vanilla and buttermilk.
Blend well. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
Peanut Butter Icing
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter (can use crunchy)
1/2 cup miniture marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
While cake bakes, combine milk, sugar and margarine in a saucepan; bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add peanut butter, marshmallows and vanilla. Stir to melt marshmallows and pour over warm cake.

Down Time

Everyday as I walk through the house, I see a few things that need to be done....

Clean bathroom mirrors
Scrub upstairs bathtub
Empty all garbages
Put away laundry
Clean out fridge
Organize junk drawer
Dust living room
Clean front glass door
Vacuum stairs
Dust dining room table

Then if I go outside, I see a few things on the list too...

Clean out car
Pull weeds in back yard
Pull weeds in front yard
Sweep front porch
Water the trees in the front yard

If I'm not careful it's going to interrupt my "down time"...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.
~ from Pooh's Little Instruction Book,  A. A. Milne

For me it has to be portion control, cause I'm not giving up any foods. Well, maybe I'd give up black-eyed peas, but that's it. If someone told me that I could never have fried chicken again or chocolate pie, well I'd just set down and weep. Lucky for me, there are some great sites out there with low calorie recipes.

from Healthy is Always Better

We don't have a Whole Food's chain here in SmallTownAmerica, so I did a little dance when I saw these on Pinterest last week! Can you imagine 3x's the chocolate for 116 calories?

Triple Chocolate Chunk Muffin
Knock-Offs of Whole Food’s 6 Dollar per 4 Chocolate Chunk VitaTop Muffins
1 3/4 c oats
3 egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular plain low fat yogurt)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (or 1-1/2 Tbsp. vinegar)
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup hot water
1 cup sugar substitute (like Splenda granular) OR 1/4 cup + 2 tbs stevia
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or use white chocolate or peanut butter chips!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with foil cupcake liners, or spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a blender, (or food processor), mix all of the ingredients together, except for the chocolate chips. Blend until oats are ground and mixture is smooth. Place mixture in a bowl and gently stir in 1/2 of the chocolate chips (set the rest aside). Scoop mixture into prepared muffin pans. Place muffins tins in the oven for 10 minutes.

*After 10 minutes, remove muffins from the oven (but don’t shut oven off), and distribute the other half of the chocolate chips on top of each muffin. Place the muffins back into the oven and bake for an additional 2-5 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*Note, you could skip this step by putting all of the chips in the batter, and baking the muffins for 12-15 min straight, but this method gives the muffins the traditional ‘VitaTop Muffin’ look with the chocolate chips on top! Cool muffins before removing from pan. ENJOY!!!

Servings: 12 Regular Muffins or 24 Mini Muffins
Calories: 116 Calories Per Regular Muffin or 58 Calories Per Mini Muffin

Monday, March 19, 2012


We worked in the yard over the weekend, everywhere there are leaves to rake and mulch and sticks to pick up. The perks of living in the woods are balanced with the work required to claim what we call our "yard" each year. In reality it's just a mowed version of the woods that surrounds us. When we built here 7 years ago we vowed to keep it as natural as possible. I waiver each year when I see manicured lawns in town with their picture perfect borders and Kelly green lawns. It's possible even here on our mountain top to achieve those results but it doesn't "fit." We are country, we are woods, we are natural and that's not a bad thing. It is what it is!

You can't really improve on Mother Nature, she does a bang up job of decorating. Friday's drive home provided a perfect chance to get some great pictures along the lake. As beautiful as these Crabapple trees are, you'd never take a second glance any other time of the year. Springtime's show is their one shining moment.

Redbuds too, this is an old one that is mis-shapen from years of ice storm damage and loss of limbs. In the winter months it's outline is scrubby and worn, no redeeming qualities. But come Spring, she transforms into an American Beauty in shades of purple to pink! 

Everywhere I looked there were Redbuds dotting the countryside. I love the limey green against the purples, you almost need sunglasses the colors are so bright! This week's thunderstorms will bring us more spring color, next comes the Dogwoods and then tulips will be popping up. March is full of lots of surprises, something to look forward to with each day!

Take a minute and click on this great video, I hope it entices you to come to Arkansas for a visit this year!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sleepy Man Banjo Boys

Prepare to be blown away... The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys are 3 brothers who can play Bluegrass like nobody's business! While every other kid in America has been busy playing video games, these boys have evidently been practicing. How did they get their name? Well, the banjo was so heavy that Jonny Mizzone learned to play it laying down!!!
Their CD America's Music can be found HERE

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Coop de Ville and Never Fail Dumplings

I love living in the country, even if it is a "planned neighborhood." We have many of the perks of country living; peace and quiet and our houses are spaced far enough apart that we don't feel like we are on "top of each other." Summertime days include crickets chirping, birds singing and if you listen long enough you can even hear a rooster crowing up the road at the neighbor's house. I love that sound. In fact, I love chickens. Yes I do!

My love affair with chickens began early, my parents had a small flock of hens that provided us with fresh eggs daily. They were free range birds, a phrase that wasn't even in the American vocabulary in the 1950's! Mom would turn them out of the hen house early each morning to forage for worms and fresh grass.

My Grandparents lived on a real farm and had chickens and cows. When we would go to visit I loved feeding the chickens their “scratch”, a coarse ground corn and mixed grain. They would crowd around clucking, grateful for the scraps that came from Grandma’s kitchen. The hens had a “pecking order” that determined where they would fly up to roost in the chicken house at night. My Grandma pointed out things like that and it stuck with me. The Rooster would keep a healthy distance, always watching over his flock. Living in the country meant their were dangers to the hens, like hawks, fox or snakes. His crowing was a way to alert the girls “Heads up, danger!” Roosters came equipped with a big beak and spurs on their legs that they would use to defend. A bad Rooster sometimes would misbehave and try to “flog” Grandma…big mistake. He could end up making a delicious pot of dumplings! Most times she simply would fluff her apron at him and that was enough to correct his impudence.

The chickens served double purpose on the farm, keeping the bugs and snakes at bay and providing delicious eggs and fried chicken. Yes, Grandma tenderly cared for that flock of chickens, but make no mistake they were there for food. During the Depression my Grandparents would sell eggs and dressed hens to the local market for income. My Mother can remember in the early spring Grandma would order “peeps,” newly hatched chicks and when they would arrive they would be kept in the kitchen to keep warm until the weather turned nice. It would have been easy to think of them as pets, cute little yellow sun drops!

Our local Farmers Co-op will order chicks for you each spring and when I was there last week they had the catalog out on the counter. Oh my, how I would love to have a nice little coop of hens to tend. I know that’s not possible, my neighbors wouldn’t share my love of chickens. Just think... they could eat my nasty little bugs and scratch around the yard. They could supply me with chicken poo. They could soothe my ears with their soft cluck-cluck-clucking!

A nice chicken coop would fit into any setting, even a backyard. This one is pretty nice, don't you think?

I like this one too, the "girls" would love laying their eggs in this cute little cottage!

What about this one? I have just the place for it at the edge of our woods!

It’s wonderful having fresh eggs to enjoy. They do taste different than store-bought and definitely have brighter colored yolks. Your local Farmers Co-op has everything you need to start your own little backyard coop, even the COOP! If you have the space you'll be rewarded with a simple pleasure that’s good for you!

Today's recipe comes in the mail from Aunt B. She shares a friends' Never Fail Dumplings. Aunt B. says, "My friend Ellen Sides is an excellent cook, her peanut butter pie is to die for!" I'm asking for that one TOO!

Never Fail Dumplings
1 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons shortening
1 egg, beaten
5 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix flour, salt and shortening. Beat egg and water together then add to the flour mixture, making soft dough. Roll out into thin sheets. Dry 15 minutes or more. Cut into strips and drop into boiling broth. Don't cover. *Ms. Ellen doesn't tell us how long to cook, like most good cooks she just "knows" when they are done. For the rest of us, about 15-20 minutes on the timer should cook these tender dumplings through. Take one out and give a taste-test, maybe taste more than one...
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