Happy New Year

The calendar says that New Year’s falls on January 1. But we each have different ideas of what constitutes the beginning of a new cycle, the start of a 12 month .journey. Tax preparers finish their marathon on April 15, so I assume that the 16th is a new start for them. The American Quarter Horse Association starts re-tallying points earned at shows and other special events on August 1. Do major retailers kick off their year on Black Friday?

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For me the first week in March brings in the new year, the new cycle of crazy, another round of the familiar sense of miracle in new growth.

A new opportunity to worry about the weather. And to have faith it will all work out. It always does! It’s amazing how nearly 50 years of worrying and watching has taught us that it always does come out right in the end. ūüôā

Welcome to my New Year! A year full of new miracles, new smiles, new memories, new life.


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Miss you!


It’s been a year.

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It seems like it was yesterday you slipped from my grip.

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I still haven’t figured out why.

But I am so glad we had you as long as we did!

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Miss you bud!

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There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein.

During this post-holiday, dead-of-winter time it is hard to see the miracles in things. Everything is just so ordinary, so every day.


It takes a real effort to remember the simple gifts we are given. The miracle of seasons, the insulating value of snow, the moisture it carries.

The feeling of relief when the long, cold winter¬†has passed. ūüôā

Then there is the miracle of our critters.¬†The miracle of how “the outside of a horse is good for the¬†inside of a man”. -Winston Churchill. How the loyalty of a dog brings such a sense of peace and securtiy.

Another miracle that never ceases to amaze me is how you can put flour, sugar and butter together and come up with so many different, unique, wonderful treats!

And then there is the miracle (and love) of family. Big and small. Old and young. Present and gone ahead.

But the miracle I am waiting for now is of renewal, of watching a tiny seed sprout, push out itty bitty leaves and grow into strong, green, smile-inducing plants.

Here’s to miracles, great and small,¬†ordinary and extraordinary, noticed and unnoticed!





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Learning Curve

Last weekend Mark and I went to a Stock Dog clinic. It was tons of fun.

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I sure wish I had focus like these dogs! She would have done anything to get a chance at those sheep!

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Belle was one of the better ‘listeners’.

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And Masey was already a pro. Too bad the photographer still has a few things to learn! ūüôā

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Campbell and Kaelene Forsyth are the presenters. They are ranchers from Manitoba who compete on a national level with their dogs. But they know how to teach on whatever level the students needed. Couldn’t have asked for better teachers!


Looks like these boys have a bit of learning to do!

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Celebrating Christmas

I’m as bad as the next guy. I mean, my baking business is designed around the whole gift-giving, shopping, party-time theme.

My elves and I put in long hours making sweets for our customers to send to their relatives, friends, business associates.

We host Christmas parties for families, groups of friends, businesses.

Then we squeeze in get-togethers with family and friends. Which we need to do more often!


And I get sucked into the whole gift-buying thing. Love finding the right item for each person.

But, amid the chaos and stress that we impose on ourselves, we miss the real reason for the season. It isn’t sharing time with loved ones. It isn’t gift-giving (or getting). It isn’t the fabulous food or the family traditions. It isn’t about going to church and singing Christmas carols. It isn’t about dropping a few coins in the Salvation Army bucket or donating our cash or time to a local charity. It isn’t about the cute kids and Christmas programs.


What it is all about is that a child was born who ultimately saves us from ourselves, from the stress, from the chaos of this crazy, frightening world we live in. A child who opened the door to heaven for us by the gift of grace. And we should be celebrating this every day, not just on Christmas.

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Christmas Memories

They say the first Christmas is the hardest. The first one without someone you love. And in some ways it has been tough. Mom missed Nathan’s special decorating techniques – like putting all of the ornaments on one side of the tree. ūüôā For her it was going to church on Christmas Eve without him. For me it was dishing out the rommegrot today and not making a dish for him.

IMGP4590And not wrapping a package of Mountain Dew (he was supposed to have diet, but I figured it was a sister’s right to give him all the sugar he wanted!) and Pringles.


But with the memories of someone who enjoyed Christmas so very much, how can one be sad for long? He loved getting clothes.


Silly Sammy was a favorite present, nearly worn out by the New Year!


Nathan played the bugle with his nose. He absolutely refused to put it to his lips!

IMGP4596His joy was always real and raw! Nothing was more fun than watching Nathan open his gifts.

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Merry Christmas in Heaven baby brother! I wish we could make new memories but am so blessed to remember the twinkle in your eye.



The Santa Bear with the dirty nose because you loved touching it.



The shriek of joy when you opened up a package of socks or box of candy.


IMGP4592The tree that fell over in the middle of the night because all the decorations were on one side.  Your pistachio pudding salad.


The boxes lined up from the Christmas tree in the corner of the basement all the way to the stairs because you preferred lines instead of piles. The electric wine bottle opener that you made Mom buy for me on Black Friday.

IMGP4579 The joy you had in handing out presents to everyone else. How much you enjoyed eggnog and lefse. How you wanted the Christmas story read, but not finished!

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“Stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how blessed you are.”

I read this on facebook the other day. Need to post it in huge letters in my kitchen, my office, my bedroom, my bathroom, my car…… Because, although I seem to prefer worrying about getting the next job done, paying the bills, rounding up more customers, ordering nuts for the candy and plants for spring, I am truly blessed. In so many ways!

I have 47 years of memories to treasure. Thank you, Nathan.

I had the best childhood a girl could ask for. Thanks Mom and Dad.

I get to make my living playing in the dirt and feeding people stuff that they don’t really need but makes their lives a bit sweeter, yummier. Thank you to those who have taught me how to do what I do and those who work for me and keep me on track and looking good!

I am blessed to have all sorts of critters in my life. (Yes, honey, I mean you, too!)

Living in North Dakota, USA, where I have the freedom to make choices about the important things in life – religion, education, vocation – is a blessing so few have. Thank you to those who protect that right for me and mine!

And then there is the rest of my family: the family with whom I grew up and consider mine; the one I married into; and the next generation of both; and my close friends, those who listen when I babble, are there when I need.  Thanks for treating me like your own.


And, above all, I am blessed by the grace of God. He knows I have done naught to deserve all of this!

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Horses and fruitcake 

November 15 and nearly 60 degrees. What unbelievable weather for North Dakota! What a great weekend for a horsemanship clinic. And that is why I am pouting. You see, about six weeks ago my husband asked which weekend in November would work best for me. Really? When was the last time I had a weekend off in November? Many years ago!  
So while I was wearing my Sonja’s Old Fashioned Delicacies hat at the Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase, my friends were breathing in that wonderful horse smell and getting all sorts of tips to improve their riding skills. 

From what I have been told, it was a wonderful time!  (Insert Soni’s pouty face)  

But I have to admit, if I had to be stuck inside, I had it pretty good.  We had a great show: the shelves were darn near bare at the end of the day. My elves are going to be busy!  
I brought biscotti back into the line up and it sold very well. 

But the real kicker was fruitcake! We brought that back after a five year hiatus and it has been selling out! So nice to know there are so many fruitcakes  out there! 

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Is it really that time?

My elves kept telling my it was time to get ready for the holiday baking season.


Time to make and wrap caramels.


Time to form the sandbakkels


Time to get the shortbread formed and in the freezer.  Pistachioberry

Time to mix up biscotti.

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Time to mix up a million batches of Molasses Spice Cookies.  cathedral cake ingred (1024x768)

Even time to make the fruitcake!


Today was Fattigmand day.

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It’s always best to make that at night or on a weekend. None of my elves like going home smelling like lard!


As usual, my elves were right. We should have started mixing up our flour and butter and sugar a long time ago. Our first Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase is only 5 days away. And all of our goodies will be oh-so-fresh!


Because when the pansies are blooming on November 1 in North Dakota, it is sooooo hard to think Christmas!

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Changing Seasons


This little patch of pansies has been a source of joy to me since early spring when they appeared along the edge of my sidewalk. The first to bloom this spring, they are still pushing out cheerful little blossoms despite being mowed, suffering from heat, drought and, today, frost.


Yesterday I attended the funeral of the wife of an old college friend. She was way too young, only 49. Her death was sudden and unexpected. I¬†had never before been to a funeral that was standing room only-in a large church. She wasn’t famous. She wasn’t rich. She was apparently simply a good woman who was¬†a good mother and wife, partner in life, and generous with¬†her knowledge and wisdom and¬†talent. I did not know her other than by sight (college was a long time ago, and friends lose touch). I am heartbroken for those¬†who did¬†know her and will miss her¬†presence.¬†But I am also inspired by her¬†life, as are so many others.¬†What a¬†blessing she was to so many!


So today, the season worked on changing. It has been a late, warm fall. No hard frost until last night. The fog was dense this morning, leaving a bit of hoar-frost.


As the fog lifted, the colors started to show. Frosty edges accentuated the reds and browns of changing leaves.


This photo is poor quality, but just look at those colors! Not typical North Dakota colors. ūüôā


This sweet hollyhock lends some femininity to the autumn landscape.

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This Polar Joy Canadian rose is quite brave!


As is Captain Samuel Holland!

The seasons are changing. The frost is on the pumpkin. It’s baking season!

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