I Can’t. . .

Early morning  wake up time with a large mug of French Vanilla steaming from a cup in my left hand and a magazine of ‘happy thoughts’ half rolled in my right.   The kids are grown.  My lumber-guy is up and out early on a mission to put  another dent in his work truck.  That man!  There’s this morning feeling that’s become a part of my life.  I’d say it’s a desire for a bit of direction or inspiration along with the need to breathe deep and prepare my inner most self for the next  24 hour journey.    Some of us wake up slower than others.

Today’s morning interlude set my eyes upon just the right saying to put me straight.              “I can’t do this but I’m doing it anyway.”   Words wide open for meaning,  words that bring on a  smile and give off some sassy  country-girl confidence if that’s what is needed.  What  incredible power these seven, nothing very special, words take on when they tag along after ‘I can’t’.    Starting the day with a little ‘brave’ in my heart.

I know the world is full with people who have had to jump into situations and say these words under their breath.   Sometimes serious. . . .sometimes creative. . . .often  yucky.   I’m sure I said these words when they passed out the specimen trays and instruments in high school biology.    Sorry kids, I’m sure I said it while holding my breath over diapers.  Speaking in front of a large group and shaking in my high heels?   Leading a jumpy 1200 pound horse for the first time!  Cleaning the chicken coop!  Driving a car?

I promised my girlfriend Kathy I’d bring two dozen sweet rolls, fit for public consumption, to an Easter breakfast.   I didn’t have the heart to tell her that my last yeast bread attempt. . . .kneading, rising, baking to perfection.   Didn’t quite turn out that way.   I can’t make yeast breads. . . .but  now I’m doin’ it anyway.

Better practice!  Love that great little saying in the morning happy magazine and guess what?  It works!

Notes to self: slow down, hold back on the flour, buy fresh yeast, don’t kill the yeast with too hot of liquid like you most likely did last time, cover half way through the baking time, doubling the recipe works well.

Not perfect, but they look like you want one, right?

Not perfect, but they look like you want one, right?  I ate one and sent the rest  of the practice run along to work with my man.  No will power in this RedBarn kitchen with rolls on the counter!

Spring Is Emerging Along the Minnesota

Winter keeps dipping in and out of our lives here in Minnesota.  A few nice days and then another blast of snow and wind.  Uhfta! (In honor of my mama, grandma and sister. . . who still says this word daily:)   Traveling home from Mankato, on the very last day of March, I was blessed to live the perfect spring day.   Sun-shine, snow melt, sun-roof-open, happy husband with hands on the wheel, my eyes gawking and searching the neutral tones of the passing landscape.

Never sorry when you boldly turn the wheel and follow the signs which designate the fantastic river road along the Minnesota River Scenic Byway!    The dips and turns of the river, new homes popping up along the bluffs, small farming operations, bridges, campgrounds, foliage of tree and plant still quiet and colorless from winter rest.

Thinking aloud, “Wouldn’t it be fun to send 10 friends down this same stretch of road on the same day and ask them each to take 6 photos?”    Loving Minnesota!

A right of Spring; the first Eagle who sits still and poses for your photo!

A right of Spring; the first Eagle who sits still and poses for your photo!

I have a little love affair with the 'farmhouse and her porch'.

I’m having a little love affair with this farm house and porch.

My new friends!  Once I have your photo you're my friend forever!

Meet my latest new friends!  Once I have your photo you’re my friend forever!

Heart strings, linger for a few extra moments, think on the love, the hard times and the excitement of building a home and barn in the valley all those years ago.

Heart strings, linger for a few extra moments, think on the love, the hard work and the excitement of building a home and barn in the Minnesota River Valley. . . .a few years ago.

Not that long ago,1868.  Our country trying to settle back in after the Civil War.  Much to ponder.

Not that long ago,1868. Our country trying to settle back in after the Civil War. Much to ponder.

Does anyone know more about this family or the barn?

Does anyone know more about this family or the barn?

 

 

 

 

 

House on the Corner

Thought for the day from playwright, Tennessee Williams,” Make voyages!   Attempt them! There’s nothing else.”

These words jingled around in my head on the 10 minute sunny-day drive from the RedBarn into nearby Ortonville.  Friend Edie has invited me to drop by her newly fixed and furnished delight of a vacation rental house on the corner by the lake!  Even better, Pioneer Public TV is coming to town to film this sweet project(filled with art and beds, a full kitchen, a claw foot tub, local history) for an upcoming segment on their show we all love called, ‘Postcards.’

The morning energy was high and good in that adorable little house on the corner.  In fact, I could feel the power of ‘voyages’ being made and attempted all around me.   The dear turn-of-the-century home, with the whole bunch of love poured into her these past few months,  seemed ready to embark.    We artists?  Hoist the sails!  We were born for moments of voyage, journey and attempt.  (Big talk. . . .I’m a little nervous when the mike gets clipped to my collar.)  So very proud to have Edie showing off our works as they decorate and serve to welcome guests  of the Big Stone Lake area.   The friendly and busy Pioneer crew clicked and gathered to create some worthy on-air minutes of interest ….. really special to have them choosing to cover our area art happenings!

Lucky little all-spruced-up vacation rental house on the corner!

Lucky little all-spruced-up vacation rental house on the corner!

Corriana(artist)Edie(proprietor)Dana(Pioneer executive producer)

Corrina(artist)Edie(proprietor)Dana(Pioneer executive producer)and some  pops of local art in the background.

Edie has the magic. . . .everything she touches gets a hint of beauty!

Edie has the magic. . . .everything she touches gets a hint of beauty!

Andrea(producer) puts you right at ease in an interview.  Ben, the camera man, and Neva whose art is shared within.

Andrea(producer) puts you right at ease in an interview. Ben, the slick camera man, and Neva whose art is shared within.

Young, on task and brilliant. . . .the Pioneer Postcards crew!

Young, on task and brilliant. . . .the Pioneer Postcards crew!

Ride with pride!  Thanks for your stop in Ortonville.

Ride with pride! Thanks for your stop in Ortonville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Thoughts

I’ve been thinking, I like the word l-o-v-e.   Yet the word love is common, over-used, kind of cheap and easy and even silly when you reflect on how it is used.     Oh, I LOVE  your  shoes!   I LOVE your house!   Oh,oh,oh, I LOVE your dog!   Really?  I have tremendous kids and you  love my dog?  What sort of a nut are you?     At times I’ve  seen and felt  love without even the utterance  or hearing of the darn little word.  It’s easy to get confused on this topic.

I’m going out for dinner tonight, with some friends that I simply love!  Adding water to the pink roses that just came in the door from the  guy who loves me out here at the RedBarn, then on to feed the dog. . . .yes, I really do love the dog.   

Many of us are fortunate to know the real kind of love among our family and friends.   We might agree on this sunny, winter Valentines Day 2014 that the  world could certainly  use more of that real  sort of love; in the far corners and in the house down the street.   You’re on your own to decide what real love looks, sounds and feels  like.     When you do. . . .go ahead and spread it around.      Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Each bear on the window seat got fluffed, tagged and ready for his new home in hopes of finding a bit of love.

Each bear on the window seat got fluffed, tagged and ready for his new home in hopes of finding a bit of love.

Holiday Cheats!

The Christmas-lovers among us spend the whole year dreaming about, collecting and trying out catchy ideas for use over this favorite, big holiday season.  We  get some of them put into being and live the thrill of seeing our good ideas executed(you know what I mean).      It’s nearing the time when we close the book on ‘creative’ and resort to cheating!  You read that correctly, cheating!  If you are not taking a test or, uh, anything worse, cheating can be a really brave and smart thing to do.    Did I hear you say that is fine with you? It’s not only me feeling the season for fussing about Christmas preparation in my home and life slipping away?  Thank you for that sweet agreement!  

  Pinterest quickie decorating tips, gift bags n boxes instead of flowing wraps and ribbons, cookies that begin with a cake mix, re-gifting when we can shop no more-gasp!   

Christmas love to you and yours for a season of deep meaning. . .and a reminder to add in a little cheating. . . . .it should make more room for the  peace we all desire.

Cheat #1-totally in love with this gift from my son.   Look around and choose a bowl, lantern, jar and fill with  your extra ornaments.  Top with a pretty bow!

Cheat #1-totally in love with this gift from my son. Look around and choose a bowl, lantern, jar and fill with your extra ornaments. Top with a pretty bow!

You've filled all the needs of friends/customers in your creative biz and are left wondering about your own family card?  Grab a photo template and share some 'authentic' shots of your much-loved family from the year gone by.  No need for matching sweaters every year:)

Cheat # 2-You’ve filled all the needs of friends/customers in your creative biz and are left wondering about your own family card? Grab a photo template and share some ‘authentic’ shots of your much-loved family from the year gone by. No need for matching sweaters every year:) 

Put the special vintage Christmas balls in an old bowl. . .so pretty.  Set out a few small trees and save the decorating of them for special children when they arrive.  Here is the beginning of an angel tree.  Cheat # 3

Cheat #3- Put the special vintage Christmas balls in an old bowl. . .so pretty and easy.  Set out a few small trees and save the decorating of them for special children when they arrive. Here is the beginning of an angel tree. 

Cheat #4- For when you need a decoration with some 'size' to it.  Three birch logs(a bundle of sticks would work too) bound together with a beautiful ribbon.  Greens and berries tucked and glued to the top.

Cheat #4-For when you need a decoration with some ‘size’ to it. Three birch logs(a bundle of sticks would work too) bound together with a beautiful ribbon. Greens and berries tucked and glued to the top.

Cheat #5- Quick and yummy way to add much-needed chocolate to your holiday cookie tray.

Cheat #5- Quick and yummy way to add much-needed chocolate to your holiday cookie tray.

I like to post a little 'note to self' right where I will see it; "make me next".

I like to post a little ‘note to self’ right where I will see it; “make me next”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BeckyRedBarn Shops Small

Santa keeps her ears open and is darn good at knowing what this family likes to pull out of their stocking; red suckers, dark chocolate, oranges. . . .the scratch tickets are hiding in my purse yet.  Lots of stocking selections on the shelves at KJ's!
Santa keeps her ears open and is very good at knowing what this family likes to pull out of their stocking; red suckers, dark chocolate, oranges. . . .the scratch tickets are hiding in my purse yet. Lots of stocking-stuffer selections on the shelves at KJ’s in Clinton!
A Tuesday afternoon, driving down a side street after picking up my freshly mixed gallon of  ‘woodsy’ green paint for the TV room in my home out at the RedBarn.  An aha lightening bolt struck and told me it was time to begin my Christmas shopping!  Little Clinton is only a few   valued folks over the population of 300 people and snuggled on the map near the western Minnesota edge of the 25 mile long Big Stone Lake area.  It’s a happy little town  with happy business folks to greet you.  I’ve shopped here, where we also have the home-base for our family business, for  years.  Sure, times have changed  in the past 20 years;  if I were looking for winter boots, electric trains or cashmere. . . I might be out of luck.   Change happens and you roll with it.   Thinking about Small Business Saturday coming up, I found myself anxious to talk with some of the local business people and ask them  what they  have on their shelves during this holiday season.  This project was inspiring!  Shop keepers were busy, happy to see me and proud of what they are keeping on with to contribute to the pride and economy of the small town rural life.   Small business is one thing. . . . commitment to a small business in a very small town is another.  I have a hunch that many small towns and villages across this fine  large USA of ours are ready for the holiday shoppers just like I found Clinton to be.   Since I’m really excited about my purchases, let me show you some of the items and sights of my one hour shopping-small spree in Clinton!  If you see am item that YOU would like to have please let me know and I’ll do what I can to help you get it.

 

A bottle of wine mixed with the work of local artisans. My Clinton friend Pam has a talented potter son-in-law who created the fantastic wine stopper.  Friend Sharol, sells the can't- live-without matching towels.

A bottle of wine mixed with the work of local artisans. My Clinton friend Pam has a talented potter son-in-law who created the fantastic wine stopper. Friend Sharol, sells the can’t- live-without matching towels.

A little visit to Jerry in the Penguin Bar.  Wine lovers always need a restock for their next dinner party.  Black Oak California wines totally over deliver on taste and are easy on your pocket book.

A little visit to Jerry in the Penguin Bar. Wine lovers always need a restock for their next dinner party. Black Oak California wines totally over deliver on taste and are easy on your pocket-book.

Minnesota-made rice blend, honey, maple syrup. Cherry juice(son Charlie loves it), the special all-juice cans that my 6 little girls love.  Who wants the locally crafted pecan-caramel clusters?  Me! The biggest smile I saw last Christmas, as we emptied the stockings, was from the big kid who had a $20 bill(Clinton has a nice bank too)wrapped around his own can of Pringles.  Who knew? Lots of goodies hiding at 'Bonnie's'.  While I'm thinking of it my friend Lois, editor of the local weekly newspaper, 'The Northern Star', told me she sells gift subscriptions to the paper during the holiday season.  Want a finger on the pulse of our rural lifestyle?

Minnesota-made rice blend, honey, maple syrup. Cherry juice(son Charlie loves it), the special all-juice cans that my 6 little girls love. Who wants the locally crafted pecan-caramel clusters? Me! The biggest smile I saw last Christmas, as we emptied the stockings, was from the big kid who had a $20 bill(Clinton has a nice bank too)wrapped around his own can of Pringle’s. Who knew? Lots of goodies hiding at ‘Bonnie’s’. While I’m thinking of it my friend Lois, editor of the local weekly newspaper, ‘The Northern Star’, told me she sells gift subscriptions to the paper during the holiday season. Want a finger on the pulse of our rural lifestyle?

Every man in the world should smell like this stuff!  I mean it!  Amandas Shear Perfection Hair Salon,Clinton, MN, has her shelves stocked with beautiful products for men and women.

Every man in the world should smell like this stuff! I mean it! Amanda’s Shear Perfection Hair Salon, Clinton, MN, has her shelves stocked with beautiful products for men and women.

A corner shelf made from a vintage door for sale at the Main Street Industries wood shop!  Love!

A corner shelf made from a vintage door for sale at the Main Street Industries wood shop! Love!

Perfect tot sized chairs waiting for your special child's name to be painted on. Main Street Industries again.

Perfect tot sized chairs waiting for your special child’s name to be painted on. Main Street Industries again.

New towel, potholders and scrubbies ready for action in the kitchen, by friend Sharol.

New towel, potholders and scrubbies ready for action in the kitchen, by friend Sharol.

Coffee-lovers basket with the smooth Caruso blend sold at Bonnie's Hometown Grocery, Clinton, MN.

Coffee-lovers basket with the smooth Caruso blend sold at Bonnie’s Hometown Grocery, Clinton, MN.

KJ's Country Store was storing these treasures; a pretty journal, glittery poodle and awesome-girl cap.

KJ’s Country Store was storing these treasures; a pretty journal, glittery poodle and awesome-girl cap.

 

 

Brent, author and owner of local breakfast room, The Inadvertent Café, says gift certificates are his big holiday item.  How would you feel about gourmet breakfast 'out' every Saturday over the winter months?  Breakfast is way more fun when Brent's' grandkids are helping at the café!

Brent, author and owner of local breakfast room, The Inadvertent Café, says gift certificates are his big holiday item. How would you feel about gourmet breakfast ‘out’ every Saturday over the winter months? Breakfast is way more fun when Brent’s’ grandkids are helping at the café!

 

The fitness center in Clinton is a great place to connect with locals and 'work it' after the holidays.

The fitness center in Clinton is a great place to connect with locals and ‘work it’ after the holidays.

My family owns the local lumber yard in Clinton, Stattelman Lumber.  With no intention of self promotion. . . .just getting some small business shopping done. . . .in the course of my 1 hour spree three different people said to me, "Hey, tell your husband I could use a new window for Christmas!"  That seemed way too coincidental!  Is that the hot new toy this year and I haven't heard yet? Ok, here's one of the windows I picked out for my own home at the RedBarn, and love.  It's a larger than usual style of double hung, Woodwright version, from Andersen Windows.  Made in Minnesota, of course!

My family owns the local lumber yard in Clinton, Stattelman Lumber. With no intention of self promotion. . . .just getting some small business shopping done. . . .in the course of my 1 hour spree three different people said to me, “Hey, tell your husband I could use a new window for Christmas!” That seemed way too coincidental! Is that the hot new toy this year and I haven’t heard yet? Ok, here’s one of the windows I picked out for my own home at the RedBarn and  am so happy with the look and warmth.   It’s a larger than typical style of double hung, Woodwright  design profile.  Crafted by Andersen Windows-just across the border into neighboring Wisconsin.   

Things have changed since 1883 when the train came through with a load of lumber to begin building the depot for the little town of Clinton, out on the Minnesota prairie.  Still here, still doing really very well in our rural, and happy about it, sort of way.

Things have changed since 1883 when the train came through with a load of lumber to begin building the depot for the little town of Clinton, out on the Minnesota prairie. Still here, still doing really very well in our rural, and happy about it, sort of way.

RedBarn Grandma Needs a Cranberry Recipe

The date is nearing for the Clinton Women’s Taster’s Tea and guess who needs to submit the recipes she is going  to serve that evening and share in this years event cookbook?  Now here’s a local food event that is worth putting  on your holiday sweater  and heading out into the gets-dark-early evening for.  Festive décor,  happy folks,  tons of new recipes to taste and the perfect way to enter into a glorious holiday mood.  (Monday, November 25, 5-7 p.m. at the Clinton, Minnesota Memorial Building, $6 per person)

Daughter, Gina, and I  took a road trip to Door County, Wisconsin.  Heaven(or surely kind of close)! One of our favorite stops was to buy locally grown cranberries.   Pull off the road by the homemade sign,  bag up what you want out of the beautiful wooden boxes full of freshly picked produce, smile back at the dear farmer who was thankful to have us stop, pay the $8 for a huge bag and try to control our excitement. . .that’s how it went.   Oh the beauty of cranberries; both for their taste and rich red color.

My dear little granddaughter, Drew, was kind enough to share her latest kitchen creation.  Perfect recipe and perfect timing, Drewsibell!  I’m going to cook up my own cranberries, instead of use the canned, and serve it over chicken bites as an appetizer for the Taster’s Tea.  What do you think of that?

A sweet keeper for Grandma's 'favorites' recipe folder.

A sweet keeper for Grandma’s ‘favorites’ recipe folder.

Loving my locally grown and beautiful berries!

Loving my locally grown and beautiful berries!

Look at the amazing visitors in the cranberry bog as I bagged up my bounty!

Look at the amazing visitors in the cranberry bog as I bagged up my bounty!

Love at first sight!

Love at first sight!

Little Miss Drew

Little Miss Drew

 

Recycled Creativity

A big day of ‘finding joy in the creative journey’!  I’ve accepted the challenge of creating new holiday greeting cards with as many recycled and old materials as I can possibly find.  Paper is 100% recycled fiber, sparkly(washed)aluminum foil, thrift store finds of yarn, ribbon and even glitter!   The pearl finish photo paper was rejected by a large print house but works fine printed up into bunnies, birds and winter scenes for the RedBarn card line!

Thinking thankful thoughts(and having pumpkin pie day dreams)to honor Thanksgiving while racing ahead to get things made for the Christmas season. Oh joy!

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What Did YOU Have For Lunch?

Someone, somewhere needs to know; I worked hard today!  I’ll concede, no one needs to know.  I’m stretching out my sat-too-long spine, looking at my pile of newly created holiday greeting cards(heavy on the recycled side) and feeling like I accomplished something in my creative biz!  Maybe I need to toot my horn!  Toot,toot!

Also having a little laugh.  We creatives are able to design and manufacture on our dining room tables if we choose to.  I did today. . .in my white, fuzzy, University of North Dakota bathrobe.    Silence is good and then so is a break for listening to music or talk radio.   This afternoon I found myself listening to a talk show host(not my dear radio personality friend, Julie) jabbering on about  how she dislikes people who are already talking ‘Christmas’.  From there she moved on to discussing her dislike of bloggers who literally share what they are eating for lunch.   This one way chatter is starting to feel a little personal, Honey!!  I’m in the club who likes to think about Christmas all year ’round and I enjoy seeing what other bloggers are serving up for lunch!  In fact, MY homemade lunch today was worth talking about.  Here, let me show you:)

Yellow tomato, potato, onion and red pepper. .all garden gifts from friend, Liz. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme(go ahead and sing) from my little herb box in the backyard.

Yellow tomato, potato, onion and red pepper. .all garden gifts from friend, Liz. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme(go ahead and sing) from my little herb box in the backyard.

 

Me playing with my Sony! The bottle of Alamos, Red Blend?  Came to the RedBarn by way of the wine-tasting dinner at Buffalo Ridge in Gary, South Dakota.  Really, it started out in the high mountains of Argentina.  It's divine!

Me playing with my Sony! The bottle of Alamos, Red Blend? Came to the RedBarn by way of the wine-tasting dinner at Buffalo Ridge in Gary, South Dakota. Really, it started out in the high mountains of Argentina. It’s divine!

Saute vegetables in 2 teaspoons of olive oil for 10 minutes, add 1/4 cup of already cooked sausage, 2 fresh eggs,  1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs  and cover  until cooked through. Top with some ground pepper!  Makes a generous, healthy 'scramble' . . .for anyone working on Christmas projects!  Wink!

Saute vegetables in 2 teaspoons of olive oil for 10 minutes, add 1/4 cup of already cooked sausage, 2 fresh eggs, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs and cover until cooked through. Top with some ground pepper! Makes a generous, healthy ‘scramble’ . . .for anyone working on Christmas projects! Wink!

Just so I don't get accused of making things too pretty, here's the evidence!  My rule-never use more than 10 pieces of cook/serve ware to make a dish.  That way we can clean up in less than 2 minutes and get back to the fun, creative things in life!

Just so I don’t get accused of making things too pretty, here’s the evidence! My rule-never use more than 10 pieces of cook/serve ware to make a dish. That way we can clean up in less than 2 minutes and get back to the fun, creative things in life!  Cheers!

 

 

 

Soulful First Snow

As your world turns from day-to-day, season to season and year to year. . . .what happening still touches your soul?  Causes your lips to break a smile in the moments right after you’ve climbed out of bed and pulled the bedroom window curtain aside?   This October morning, at the RedBarn in Minnesota, I awoke to a fresh covering of snow.   The beauty and surprise got me. . . .a soulful, inner-child moment to cherish!  Hadn’t  heard that snow was  lingering  close, ready to spread a white blanket on my country world in the time between midnight and sunrise.  Come to think of it,  something did remind me to go outside and wash a few windows yesterday.   Boots on, Hunter standing ready to join  me for the morning walk. . . .on this soulful day that autumn and winter have chosen to share.

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