Crazy Life Recap

Wow, I haven’t posted a thing since November.  Crazy life has been going on, though, so here’s what we’ve been up to…no blogging because I was honestly too freaked out to even make the effort.  And below I will explain why!

Last September we moved my husband’s mother to an assisted living center closer to us and had to help clean and sort fifty years worth of stuff from her place.  That wrapped up for the most part in November.

Our older son interviewed with a company from out of state right before Thanksgiving and accepted an offer right before Christmas!  So his last semester at college was difficult and crazy but at least he had a great job lined up…

Spring break was spent apartment hunting for him in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We did find him a great apartment close to the mountains!  Of course, all this meant my firstborn child was moving far far away!

Apartment building in front of Sandia Mountains

Meanwhile, our younger boy was wrapping up HIS senior year with us and preparing to go off to college in the fall…he was working on a service project build for his Trail Life Freedom Project all during the spring and summer on top of concurrent enrollment at a nearby college.  Because we homeschooled him, it was up to us to plan and execute his graduation ceremony.  He has a great friend that was graduating at the same time so we had a ceremony for the Venture Coop Class of 2019…with two graduates.  They were tied for valedictorian.  They opted out of making speeches.  I don’t blame them.  So planning and prepping for this was quite time consuming but worth it.

We scheduled his graduation for the first Saturday in May so we could fit in all the OTHER stuff in May, like Son #1 graduating from college the second Saturday in May,


rolling off to Washington, DC for a senior trip, then coming back for a couple days.  Then we packed up older boy’s stuff and drove out to Albuquerque to get him moved into his first apartment.  Once we got him more or less settled, we came home briefly, got Boy #2 enrolled at OSU, then went off to Lake of the Ozarks with some friends for a lake weekend…up to St. Louis so my husband could work for a few days, then home to Oklahoma.  Whew!  Younger boy was so glad to be in his own bed again instead of air mattresses!

Going to brag on him for a bit, he scored well enough on the ACT to get VERY good scholarships and we are super proud of him.  He is going to Oklahoma State University to study Computer (and possibly) Electrical Engineering.  He moves in early as part of a Bridge Program they have for these amazing CEAT freshman to help them get a jump start on their first semester.

All spring Oklahoma was basically storming and flooding so that added another layer of fun and excitement to everything we were doing.  Fortunately, our house escaped any damage.

We took a week to go to Branson with my mother near the end of June, then went back to Albuquerque for the Fourth of July.  Can I say, visiting is much more fun when moving is not involved.

Crunch time for Boy #2 and his build project; he has until he is 18 but really wanted/needed to get the build done before he moved off to college the last Sunday of July.  So we all spent time in the shop finishing up the table kits so his work team could assemble them at the church.

Build day was HOT (but breezy, and after all, it is the end of July) and I spent some time running after hardware needs, but it went very well and after about three hours the church had two gorgeous octagonal picnic tables.

Octagonal picnic tables

And so during all this time I am squirreling away things Boy #2 will need for his dorm room.  Having done this before I know you want to keep it to a useful minimum.  We finally did a shopping trip to get most of the last bits and pieces and loaded things into boxes for easy transport.

We moved him into the dorm last Sunday and it went amazingly well.  His dorm is traditional style.  We got his stuff inside with two loaded dolly trips and a couple of people carrying stuff trips.  Still more to do but in those little cracker box rooms, less is often more.  Trust me, we have moved Boy #1’s stuff in and out four times now.  And less. is. better.  I was amazed at the stuff I saw other families taking up to the rooms, I have no idea where they put it all.

Are we official empty nesters with our last one in college? I suppose we are.

After the mandatory parent/kid program meeting (“this program is super hard, follow the rules!”) his dad and I hopped in the car and headed to Austin, Texas for a manufacturing automation conference my husband is attending.  I spent the first day in the hotel mostly sleeping and watching Shark Week on Discovery Channel.  Ahhhh.  Today I am finally blogging again and this really helps me understand why I am so. freaking. tired.  We head home tonight and I am ready to start our home decluttering/ painting/remodeling projects.

And that is why I haven’t blogged since November.

The End.





Simple Homemade Bread

homemade white bread loafI just made another loaf of this bread today and thought perhaps the recipe might be worth sharing.  I haven’t made bread like this in ages since my husband and I have been mostly low carb for years.

Homemade white bread from

However, my older son is home from college for the summer and was blessed to be hired as an intern at an HVAC company in the city.  He is working full time (yay!).  In order to save as much of his salary as possible, he is taking his lunch every day (thanks Dave Ramsey!).  Initially, he was taking turkey and cheese tortilla wraps but had a hankering for a peanut butter and jelly–tortillas just won’t cut it for that, so I whipped up a loaf of homemade bread with my “go-to” recipe.  It’s based on an old bread machine recipe and I adapted it for the KitchenAid mixer. Super easy, this is neither keto, low carb, nor gluten-free.  It IS pretty tasty and arguably healthier than most of the bread from the grocery store.  You can make excellent sandwiches, garlic bread, or the absolute favorite around here, cinnamon toast with it.  My younger son is reaping the benefits of older brother needing good sandwich bread and he is definitely not complaining.

Slice of homemade bread from
See all those holes? They are perfect for holding onto butter! YUM.

Ages ago when my husband and I had only been married a couple of years we splurged on a bread machine.  And made tons of bread.  And ate tons of bread.  During this time I started developing the recipe for my cinnamon rolls (that’s another post)… Luckily we didn’t actually WEIGH tons (not quite) after several years of this, but finally the bread machine was put away and eventually donated.   Meanwhile, I had acquired a KitchenAid mixer and found that it worked great for mixing and kneading homemade bread without needing to proof yeast or anything fiddly like that.  This method is very forgiving as it allows you some wiggle room with the temperature of your liquid.  You can still kill the yeast if it’s way too hot but it is less likely. Another benefit of the mixer over a bread machine is being able to double the recipe and make 2 loaves of bread or 2 dozen cinnamon rolls with one batch of dough.  I think this would also work with a good food processor but I haven’t tried it.

The ingredient list is simple:  All-purpose flour, powdered milk, sugar, kosher salt, butter, water, and yeast.  That’s it.  I buy the yeast in bulk from Sam’s Club; you get a boatload of it and if you wrap it tightly and store in a jar in the fridge or freezer it lasts for years.  If you want a higher rise you could use bread flour but it isn’t really necessary.

Simple Homemade Bread

This is a very basic white bread made with all-purpose flour.  The kneading is done with a stand mixer so it's super easy.  

Cuisine American
Keyword bread
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Resting time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 14 slices
Author Patti


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp dry milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 7.5 ounces water warm


  1. Combine water and butter in pyrex cup and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave.  You want it warm to touch, not hot, around 110 degrees or so.  

    In Kitchenaid mixing bowl add flour, dry milk, sugar, salt, and yeast.  Mix with the dough hook then slowly add warm water and butter.  Knead on low for about 10 minutes.  

    Remove dough hook and cover dough with clean cloth and place in warm area to rise for at least 30 minutes.  It should double in size.

    Prepare a loaf pan by spraying with Pam.  

    Punch down dough, then knead by hand for about 5 minutes.  Shape into a thick rectangle slightly larger than the pan by flattening a little and stretching, then roll the long ends inside and tuck the short ends under.  Place in bread pan seam side down.  Cover with a cloth and leave to rise again about 30 to 45 minutes. 

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

    Bake bread for 40 to 45 minutes or until it tests 200 degrees with an instant-read thermometer.  Brush with butter after removing from oven.  Allow to cool before slicing.  

Recipe Notes

If your dough is too sticky, add a little flour.  

Slicing is easier with a long serrated bread knife.  


My boys like simple food and this definitely fits that description.  This will keep in a large ziploc bag on the counter for a couple of days but for longer storage, you should refrigerate.  This will mold quickly because there are no preservatives, unlike store bread which seems to have the half-life of uranium.  This will also freeze well, if you wrap it carefully in plastic, then foil, then place in a freezer bag with all the air squeezed out.

When the first loaf I made was all gone I was short on time so we picked up a loaf of “butter bread” from the grocery store.  My son ate it for a couple of days then last night told me it really wasn’t very good compared to mine…  So of course I baked up another loaf for him this afternoon!  Flattery will get you everywhere in this kitchen.  😉

I hope you give this easy recipe a try!  It will make your house smell amazing –we actually sold our first house to the very first people who looked at it by setting up the bread machine to have fresh baked bread when they came over.   I read somewhere that fresh baked bread smell was the leading cause of people buying a home, with chocolate chip cookies a close second.  If we ever sell this house I will bake cinnamon rolls and see how that works out.


Simple Homemade Bread from




Why You Should Plant Russian Sage

Are you looking for a plant that survives freezing winters and scorching summers, is drought tolerant, blooms all summer, and attracts bees and butterflies?  Look no further, because it’s right here…Russian Sage.  Its botanical name is Perovskia atriplicofolia.  This tough beauty is originally from the region around Afghanistan, and it is one hardy (zones 4 through 9), gorgeous plant.  But it’s not really Russian, and it’s not really sage either…

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicofolia) is one of my absolute favorite perennials.  It is completely different from culinary sage (Salvia officinalis) and you do not cook with it.  It is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) but is not generally considered edible.  (If you smell it you will know why.  It smells rather medicinal.)  It is considered an herbaceous perennial.  It is tough as nails once it gets established, and blooms nonstop midsummer to fall.  I have it in my front flower bed with my Red Double Knockout roses; full sun, facing east, in a very well drained raised brick bed.  This is a photo taken in late June.    

Russian Sage and Knockout Roses from

It grows to a tall (around three feet) airy shrub with delicate gray-green leaves with tall spikes of tiny purple/blue flowers.  It really is stunning.  The bees love it too.  

If it gets too tall for you or starts to flop over, just give it a trim and it will recover and be blooming again in just a few weeks.

 Maintenance on this is super easy, I just give it a very hard pruning (to about 6 inches tall) in the late winter.  If I find a plant in a spot where I don’t want it, I have the best luck moving them in winter while they are dormant.  I have killed a few (ok, many) transplants during their active growing season.  My gardening style is best described as “benign neglect” so this is an ideal plant for me.  

When I first planted three of them behind my roses, the plant instructions said they rarely reseeded.  Well, I beg to differ…I had dozens of tiny baby Perovskia coming up in the bed the next spring.  Most of them were in desirable places so I let them be.  I don’t really consider them invasive, but if I left them alone they would definitely take over the bed.  This winter I have been able to share some of my extras with a couple of friends.  Since that first season, they aren’t reseeding so much as rooting from flopped stems and spreading by runners, as mints will do.  This year I will try some pinching back early in the season to see if I can reduce the flop factor. They get more water than they really need since they are in with my roses that are watered fairly regularly.  That combined with their eastern exposure is causing them to be “floppy”.

To keep these happy plant in full sun in well-drained soil.  Cut down almost to the ground in late winter or early spring, as they bloom on new wood.   They are pretty drought tolerant once established.   

Below is a photo of Russian Sage used as a tall bedding plant at MS&T in Rolla, Missouri.  This was taken in late June.

Russian Sage in landscape

Here’s a closer look at the flowers tucked behind some four o’clocks…

Russian Sage in the background with four o'clocks

I highly recommend this plant if you have a well-drained spot for it.  It won’t disappoint!




The Florida Aquarium and the American Victory Ship

Back in January, we took a day to visit the Florida Aquarium in Tampa because we are all about aquariums…seriously, we go to every one we possibly can, including the ones here in Oklahoma, which are obviously few and far between…

Our visit coincided with a rare cold spell in south Florida, but it was still warmer than Oklahoma.  The first full day we planned to check out the aquarium in Tampa then make our way to our hotel in St. Pete Beach that afternoon.  It was COLD.  A really good day to be inside somewhere–and lots of other people must have agreed because the place was packed.  There was a pretty good line of people waiting to get tickets when we arrived.  We finally got our tickets and made our way inside.  I took some pictures but they don’t really do things justice.  It’s a very beautiful facility with oodles of amazing animals.  

Sand eels are so cool!

Roseate spoonbills.

The duck above is watching all the strollers closely so it can snatch up dropped kiddie snacks…”Pay no attention to that sign behind me!”

We went through the whole place in around two hours; keep in mind my boys are 20 and 16 so they weren’t interested in the hands-on or outdoor play areas (they have an outdoor splash pad playground which was not open during our visit, go figure!); families with smaller kids might want to allow more time.  And if you go when it’s warm, which is apparently almost always, you will want to bring swim gear, towels, and sunscreen so your kids can play out there.  They have a place to change in and out of swim gear right next to the playground.

There is a snack bar on site but since we had seen everything we wanted, we walked about a block down the street and found a New York style pizza place which was really good.  It had a New York police precinct theme.  It is called, appropriately, Precinct Pizza.  Check it out if you are in town!

We were thinking about heading to the rental car and finding our hotel, but had noticed a sign on the way into the aquarium mentioning something about a historic victory ship nearby…so we followed the signs and found this:

American Victory Ship

The SS American Victory Maritime Museum is one of only four working WWII era ships in the country.  My older son is a major history buff, so of course we had to spend the rest of our day exploring the massive ship.

They take this old merchant marine cargo ship out on a Relive History Cruise twice a year, and we were bummed that we missed that.  Perhaps another time.  There are nine decks to wander, including 3-story cargo holds, galleys, crew cabins, mess halls, officers’ quarters, and lots more.  They also have medals and many historic artifacts.

Above you can see the dazzle paint scheme that helps to break up the shape of the ship.


Both places are definitely worth a visit if you are in the Tampa Bay area!  If you decide to include the ship on your itinerary, keep in mind it has nine stories to go through and it is a ship…so expect lots of walking, and lots of steep metal stairs.  To give you an idea, I had 10,975 steps on my Samsung phone for that day.  😀









O Christmas Tree


My sweet husband brought all the Christmas boxes upstairs for me AND put the tree together before he had to head out on a business trip, so I was able to get the tree decorated and set up the Christmas village, etc.  Now the house is mostly done inside.

Last year we went to Sam’s before Thanksgiving and took a little detour down the Christmas decor aisle…just to see what they had.  I found some LED lights that (wait for it)—change from warm white to multi-colored!!!  Of course we had to snatch some up to put on the tree!

I personally like warm white lights on a tree.  The men who live here all prefer colored lights though, so a few years back we got some colored LEDs.  Because I love my family.  I was never really in love with these lights—anybody else get a weird “Ahhh, my eyes, my eyes, those blue lights!” thing from LEDs?  Maybe it’s just me.  Anyway, finding these lights that SWITCH BACK AND FORTH and also have a twinkle setting for each colorway, and don’t blind me with the blue bulbs…was like. Christmas. in. October.  I can have my simple white lights, they can have the festive colored lights.  Win-Win!

My clever younger son decided on a system of even/odd with white on even days and colors on odd days.  He got up every morning and switched them over.  Not happening this year, he is a real live teenager now that he’s sixteen, and he prefers to sleep in.

Our tree is old.  Many years old.  But it gets the job done and I think when it starts looking super tatty I might try a DIY flocking thing on it to get a few more years out of it.  As I gaze at it from my spot at the dining room table, I notice that it is listing ever so slightly to port.  Let’s assume that makes it more realistic.

I don’t know if these particular lights are available anymore.  I looked at Sam’s Club online and did not find them.  I haven’t been to stores, but with all the places selling Christmas lights, there’s a good chance something similar can be found if you like the option of switching back and forth.

When installing these lights, I go from the bottom up and drape the string in and out on each branch.  More or less.  I try to keep all the little control boxes in a similar general area so they can be found easily for switching back and forth.  There are six strings on the tree, so six little boxes are all in a cluster on the back left side of the tree.  Five are always easy to find, the sixth is a struggle.


The topper is a big paper snowflake that I made because I haven’t found what I really want to top the tree yet.  Last year was a big old shiny gold bow with long streamers, but I just wasn’t feeling it this year.  The search is on for the perfect tree topper.  I might have to make one…


Coming soon, putting up the Christmas village and other Christmas-y things inside and outside…and a tutorial on the little felt snowmen on my tree.

Which lights do you prefer on your tree?


Well, here goes…

Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma looking stunning with fall color this year.


I am starting this blog to share recipes, DIY and craft projects, tips, travel stories, photographs, and whatever else happens to sound good at the time.


The old barn at my mother-in-law’s farm



Double Knockout rose in November



A glorious Oklahoma sunset