Category Archives: LFern

Perfect Corn Muffins

20170113_113631-1600x1200Amazon tempted me with one of their lightning deals on some silicone muffin trays.  I’m pretty easy.  These corn muffins from smittenkitchen looked like a good way to test drive them.20170113_110542-1600x1200The method was interesting, 1/2 cup of cornmeal was simmered in the milk until it started to look like porridge, then cooled slightly in a bowl in which the rest of the ingredients were added in their turn.  The cup of sour cream was a nice touch.20170113_110711-1600x1200Two eggs were the last of the wet ingredients added before the dry mixture was folded in.20170113_111538-1600x1200The resulting batter was pretty stiff.  The cookie dough scoop worked great in portioning between the dozen cups.  It wasn’t the perfect size so I did have to top off the cups by eye.20170113_113323-1600x1200I’m not sure how long these were in because I forgot to set  a timer.  These passed the toothpick test.20170113_114006-1600x1200Mmm… red beans cooked with a smoked ham hock – a perfect way to enjoy these perfect corn muffins.


Bixby Update: Foster Puppy Adventures

Bixby all legs frame

Bixby is really all leg, isn’t he? Love this dog. He’s maturing into a big sweet couch potato. He has his favorite tug towels and his favorite stuffies – he prefers the ones gifted to him by friends. We spend our days walking, working and visiting friends. As far as he is concerned a play date does not have to include another dog – he’s happy to tag along with any one of my friends.

His latest desire is for Jake (here) to play tug with him. He will bring his blue tug towel to Jake and go into play stance, tail wagging and trying like anything to get him to play with him. If cats could roll their eyes…

2 Tux and Boots frame

Tux (front) and Boots (back)

Our latest adventures include LFern. In the fall, LFern and Mr. LFern lost their beloved belgian tervuren shepherd. LFern decided that she wasn’t ready for a new dog and Bixby visits weren’t enough to fill the void, so she began volunteering at the local shelter. Walking dogs and cuddling kitties turned into fostering dogs in need. The two above are her second run at it. Her first one, Denali, was successfully adopted after a month of recovery from surgery with the LFern family. Denali and Bixby had a great play date and so happy she’s in her forever home.

Yesterday, it was time for a new play date with the two new fosters. Tux and Boots. Full disclosure, Tux completely stole my heart and if we were moved and not still in such a small place, I’d have few excuses not to bring him home.

1 Boots and Tux frame

These guys are very sweet, but very timid. Tux more so than Boots. A great big Dane was a little much for them. So we let Bixby do his thing and they sat around and watched him. I was pleased that Bixby learned their squeals of “get the heck away from me”, and he heeded them. He was happy to go play by himself. This gave them time to become comfortable with him. While they were never quite ready to play with him, they did let him give them a good sniff and they sniffed back.

3 Watching Bixby Frame

Watching Bixby with curiosity

I was happily surprised that Bixby allowed me to play with these guys with nary a hint of jealousy. Which gave Tux plenty of time to win my heart. Both dogs are great – Boots is very outgoing and very intelligent – he’s going to be a great companion. He’s got a lot of Bixby energy. Which is probably why the quieter, more thoughtful energy around Tux drew me in. One can only have so many “Bixbys” in their life.  LOL. He will have no problem finding his forever home, either.

I’m hoping we get another play date before they go back to the shelter, but if not, we look forward to the next foster.

LFern and Mr. LFern are doing amazing work here and these are some lucky dogs. If you have room in your home, most shelters are desperate for fosters to help socialize animals so they are more likely to get adopted. Try it out. Another friend of mine fostered kittens for several months until they found two they wanted to adopt. In the process they helped many, many other kittens socialize and grow big enough for adoption. Her kids loved it.

Bixby and I are headed out into the big wind (gusts of 60+ mph predicted). He makes a good anchor. LOL. Until next time ….

Paw print

Bixby Diaries: Squirrels are Evil


And robins are suspect, too. Hi! I’m almost 10 1/2 months old and life is a blast. Well, except for the squirrels. I’m up to 135 lbs and tower over my person when I stand on my back legs and hug her. We’ve been having some adventures. My person is looking for a new house and when she finds one she likes, we walk around the neighborhood and meet people. It’s always fun.

I’ve been doing pretty good at meeting people, lately, too. We went for a long walk the other day and my person let me meet everyone who wanted to pet me. I love to meet new people, but a lot of the time, my person would make me sit and hold while they walked on by. Now I don’t pull or jump at them, so I get a lot more pets. And people always say how handsome I am.

TaMara’s note: A month makes a huge difference. I’d say about 90 percent of the time he is on his best behavior with people, so I’m much more relaxed about letting them approach him and pet him. He still has moments, but I’m good at anticipating it and heading off interactions. Which is good, because everyone wants to say hi.

Bixby and Me 2

Now about those squirrels. They are evil. They sit on the trunks of the trees on my walks, right at eye level and tease and taunt me. Sometimes I just can’t help myself I have to try and get them. That gets me in trouble, because I’m not suppose to pull my person halfway across the street. But. I. Hate. Them. And robins, oh they are just so, robin-y. I don’t like them either. But I saw my very first Great Blue Heron, flying above us and it was soooo cool I had to stop and watch until it landed in a tree. Then we saw an Osprey catch a fish. Dove in the water, pulled it out. I was so excited I almost ran right into the pond myself.

TaMara’s note: Yeah, don’t know what it is about the robins. He’s great with the Canada geese on our walks, so good in fact, they cross the path right in front of him, much to his delight. And ducks and chickens are all on his list of friends. But robins…not so much. He really does like those big birds, though.


I had a play date today with my best bud Kodiak. It is sooo much fun to run around with someone who is okay with rough housing. It’s hard being the biggest boy on the block (ok, not really, because my next door neighbor is a big black and white Mantle Dane, but he’s older and not big on rough housing). It’s good to be able to play the way I want and not get in trouble.

One last thing, a few weeks ago, one of my litter mates, Missy, left us. She was a kitty, but I still thought of her as one of mine. I miss her and still look for her under the table on her chair. My person was so sad, I tried everything to make her smile. I’d lay under her desk and put my head on her foot. Then I’d roll over, paws up until she smiled. Finally, I had to do something drastic, so I climbed up on the couch next to her desk and put my head next to her computer and turned upside-down till she laughed. That felt good. Then she told me I had to be nice to Jake because Missy was his mama and he missed her. So I’ve done my best to be friends with Jake, even though I’m kind of jealous of him. But I think it makes him feel better and I know it makes my person feel better.


My person bought me a new food dish today and I can’t wait to try it out. I’m pretty hungry after my big day. So I’m off to eat. Hope you got some good stuff in your food dishes today, too. – Bixby

TaMara’s note: Had some issues with his plastic food toys, so I’m trying something new. Have I mentioned how much I adore this pup? He’s growing up into such a great, sweet dog. It’s hard work most days, but I think it’s worth it.

Paw print


Jack – photo from Sun Pony Ranch

Today was my second lesson on Jack and he’s really stolen my heart. He’s a gentle, strong, strong-headed mount and he suits me to a t.  Here’s the description from Sun Pony Ranch:

Jack is level-headed and easy-going as long as he is with other horses. However, he is insecure when away from the herd and needs a rider with confidence to help instill it in him when riding alone. He does need someone who can give clear and strong commands with their aids because he is easily confused and unwilling to do what might be the wrong thing. When he is out of his comfort zone, he can be headstrong and difficult to ride. Jack is not a natural jumper and is still learning to do low jumps. On the ground he is very sweet and easy to work with except sometimes he will test his handler with picking his hooves.

He’s a great teaching horse. Near the end of the lesson, we were to trot through the obstacle course. Jack knew I was tired and my head was not in the game. He was fine through the obstacle course…at a walk. I could not get him to trot, no matter what I tried. Which was fine for both of us. Next week I’ll be more focused and we’ll take it at a full trot.

In other W4DS news, LFern ran an idea by me that has me excited and as we go along, if we decide to pursue it, I’ll keep you informed, it could be fun.

Also starting this week, I think I’m going to take my posts back to some basics because I’m feeling, with the questions I’ve been fielding, we could all be stronger in them. More on that tomorrow. Until then…

So Whatever Happened to LFern?

I talk about LFern a bit in the blog, after all she is my chocolate and coffee buddy.  And of course she blogged for us for a bit….but then…

She went off and started working for a magazine that supports her first love…knitting.  Where she is the assistant editor and blogger.   Here’s her latest entry.

Dear WitKnits*,

It’s June! My son is out of school and no matter how old I get, I still relish the idea of summer and firmly believe that I too will be on summer break. This inevitably leads to a fall melancholy when it becomes clear that summer is over and those days of lounging by the pool and rocking on the porch never happened. But today that moment is a distant echo of autumns past, this year will be different, this year… Keep reading….

OK, I’m Tired of Turkey Now

Homer had his appointment with the vet today for his “alteration”.  He was a bit sleepy when he got home but has perked right up.  He’s back to his old self-chasing Bea and doing general kitty stuff.

Annie got skunked last night.  The first time ever for her.  It seems the skunk visits to the feeder have yielded the feared outcome-first Jack and now Annie.  We are taking steps to remove the critters, a live trap is down there now with a can of fish flavored cat food for bait.  Not going to put up with rude guests.

Mmm…ham sammich!

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Gluten-free muffins

Since my last post was bordering on a rant of things I don’t like, I thought this time I would be more constructive and talk about something I do like.  I’ve found a book that has a lot of promise for baking many delicious gluten-free items.

Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise G Roberts.

To tell the truth I haven’t gotten past page 31. I just keep making pumpkin muffins and carrot spice muffins over and over again. Of course, I take liberties with the recipes and add whatever I’m in the mood for, usually raisins, dried apricots, cranberries, walnuts, cardamom and the like. They make a perfect breakfast food. There is no compromise, these are as good, if not better, than any muffin I have ever had. Texture, moisture, and taste are all there.

I have never been much of a baker and I don’t have a lot of patience for the precision of measurement many people take in baking and these recipes have survived my haphazard methods. I do intend to try more of the recipes but just haven’t gotten there yet.

Roberts’ basic premise revolves around two basic flour recipes, one based on brown rice flour with potato starch and tapioca flour for most baking and another on a mixture of millet and sorghum flour plus cornstarch, potato starch and tapioca flour for bread.

I’ll see if I can assemble a workable muffin recipe for you, but my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants methods may not translate well into a reproducible recipe. I’ll see if TaMara can help me with that.

LFern7 intro – Gluten-free bread

I’ve been asked to try my hand at blogging, so here goes, my first post…

I’ve been avoiding gluten for about 4 months now, far from an authority, but ready to share my initial impressions. First gluten-free bread – ha, I’m not impressed. In fact I prefer to do without and only turn to the bread products when I am truly desperate. In fact one day as I was toasting one commercially available bread, my husband wanders down and asks, “what smells like a wet dog?” Yes, that was my (crazily expensive) bread and I’ve barely been able to eat it since. So what do I do instead?  I like an open sandwich, sometimes I’ll use lettuce as my bread, often I’ll just munch on the filling materials. I like many of the gluten-free crackers on the market, and will use corn tortillas if I really need a wrapper. The gluten-free wraps made by La Tortilla Factory from teff and millet are pretty good, once you get used to them, but no, none of them are bread. I guess in the end my solution is this: Since I don’t have an allergic reaction to gluten, just the IBS type symptoms I’ve lived with most my adult life, I  hold the idea in my hip pocket that when I just can’t take it anymore I will have a slice of the most fabulous bread in the world and then walk away again. So far I haven’t had to cash in on that . I’m still enjoying more the wonders of what going without gluten are doing for my body and my self-esteem. (More on that another time).

Welcome LFern

I know I’ve been a little lax in the postings lately.  I’ll do better, promise.  But to pick up the slack, we have a new poster who will join us this week.  A dear friend of mine, one I always enjoy cooking with and having her cook for me, not to mention our many girls’ days out, where lunch and really good coffee are always the prerequisite.

A little bit about her – she’s a mom, she recently finished up her master’s degree and a brief stint as teacher, she has lots of fun interests, none of which are gardening, which I hope she may share with you as time goes on.  She and her husband provided us with the wonderful yogurt making slideshow, Mr. Fern being the photographer – maybe she can convince him to illustrate some of her entries with his photos (he is very good, I have one of his hawk photos on my desk).

Anyway, I asked/conjoled/begged LF to become a contributor because recently she decided to try a gluten-free diet and I felt her journey was an important to share.   I’m hoping that will be just the beginning of what she’ll write about…

Welcome LFern!  Glad you’re here.