February's Arrival and a WINNER!

Friday, February 3, 2023

The first day of February is here... and so we are getting closer to Spring, even if it may not feel like it in our neck of the woods!  About the middle of February, I begin to anxiously anticipate warmer days spent out in the garden! However, I am still contenting myself around the house, finishing up some organizing projects, cleaning and doing all kinds of chores that require my attention inside. I'm enjoying a cup of King Cole tea this afternoon, as I sit here sharing my thoughts and pictures with you! 

This picture was taken one morning as blue skies broke through - oh Hallelujah! {smiles} 

I do have an exciting announcement to make! I would like to congratulate Jennifer who blogs at CubbyCrafts who has won my giveaway of Cheryl Smith's book Homespun Devotions! Congratulations Jennifer! I will email you and let you know, and get the book in the mail to you soon! For those of you would didn't win, and would like a copy of this book, you can find it here on Amazon

For those of you who grew up in the North, like I did, do you remember these flying carpets? I remember we had them as kids. Their name is spot on - we loved getting on them when the snow was crispy and hard-packed - boy did we fly!  They are a thin piece of blue plastic that curls up. You sit on the "flying carpet" and literally, you will fly away down the hill! We were in a local store here recently and I spotted them. I'd never get on one now, I'd be a crash patient, no doubt! {Ha!}

The sunset was so pretty a couple of evenings ago, and I captured the soft light from my handmade "lantern" filled with fairy lights too.  I think I wrote about this teapot lantern I made before in a previous post. 

My sweet little girl was waiting for me to finish dinner and sit in my chair.
She has become such a sweet lap girl! 

We've had some very cold weather here again! It dipped down to -6, and still, we walked! Everything was a bit frosty, so I wore a face mask, it was so cold that my eyebrows and eyelashes had turned to ice. 
 I'm glad to report it has warmed up to the 30s again :) 

Miss Riley's nose all frosty too! 

I have difficult news to share about our precious Annie-Girl. She is a German Shepherd-Husky mix, and we had hoped that she wouldn't inherit that breed's tendency towards bad hips, but it has become apparent that she has.  Now, her legs give out on her quite frequently. It has been okay walking with her in the snow, but since the snow has melted back, her legs are giving way, and her feet are dragging.  This has been going on for a while, and she never has complained. 

On this particular day, towards the end of our walk, I noticed her back paws were both bleeding, as the pavement had tore up her claws.  I used a wonderful product on her paws - Vetericyn - it is a veterinary-grade antibiotic spray. It has worked wonders on all my animals, and it did for Annie too. Her feet healed up within a couple of days. However, it is very sad that we cannot let her walk with us anymore, as she just cannot keep her feet from dragging. It is heartbreaking! She is taking it in good strides though and seems to understand. 

I was returning home yesterday and saw this handsome fella run across the road in front of me. I stopped, and he did too. And he posed! I think he has a smirk on his face. The pictures are taken through the glass window of my pickup, so they are not very clear, but you get a good idea of how big he is! 

Handsome as he is, he is not welcome around our animals! If he keeps his distance - fine and wonderful. Sadly, he was out in broad daylight and was not afraid of me. He stood and watched me inside my pickup. Then, my husband followed his tracks around our yard, and we know he is up to no good, as he was prowling close to our chickens.  We hope he found nothing of interest and moves on (my chickens are fenced up now because of coyote issues in the past). 

The days are getting longer! And as the days draw to a close, often we are treated to magnificent sunsets - how I love them, and look forward to the beautiful skies before darkness arrives!

This weekend we have two weather systems moving into our area, and we are told to mostly expect rain from them. This has been such an unusual winter, with most of our snowpack arriving in December. Throughout the month of January and into February, we've received mostly rain, even though we still have quite a bit of snow on the ground.  

Beginning in January, my husband and I decided to take sugar out of our diet - as well as bread/grains and potatoes.  We have done this on and off in past years, but are trying to shift our way of eating like this to be more of a permanent lifestyle rather than a short time of doing it.  The no-sugar lifestyle is amazing because instead of using sugar to feed your body's energy needs, your body begins to use up fat, which is a remarkably better source of energy.  We always notice increased energy, mental clarity, and stamina, as well as just feeling so much better.  

I thought I would share what one day of no-sugar eating looks like for me.  I wake up in the morning and drink my coffee black - which I've been doing for several years.  After my quiet time with the Lord, I feed the animals, and go for a 2-3 mile walk (sometimes longer, depending on how much time I have).  

Upon returning from my walk, I will eat a small piece of fruit (banana/orange/blueberries) and either have a salad, maybe an avocado made into guacamole, or a boiled egg. 

For lunch, I will have leftovers from the evening meal before, or another salad. For the evening meal, our favorite meal is a baked/roasted/air fried piece of meat (chicken or beef ) with a vegetable side, a coconut flour egg bread, and a salad.  

I also like to make soups too, where I can use vegetables from my garden. My favorite soup so far that is potato-free is Taco Chicken Soup.  It is quite easy to make, and just about any veggies that you have on hand can be used in it.  Here is my recipe below: 

Taco Chicken Soup
2 chicken breasts, cooked (about 2 cups shredded chicken)
1-quart jar tomato sauce (I use my home-canned tomatoes)
1 14-oz can Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with chilies)
3 cups chicken broth (I use my homemade bone broth, but any broth works)
1 cup corn (I use my corn from the garden, frozen, or canned works)
2 cups zucchini (I use frozen diced zucchini from my garden)
1 can tomatilloes (if you can't find canned, you can use salsa verde) 
1 can beans of choice - we like Ranch style beans, also black beans are great too
1 container whipped plain cream cheese
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (I like Bragg's)
1 tablespoon taco seasoning (or 1 packet) 
Salt/pepper to taste

1 bunch cilantro, washed, leaves chopped
Sour cream
Cheddar cheese
Diced avocado 
Crushed tortilla chips

Mix all ingredients together in a large stockpot on medium heat, until cream cheese has completely melted.  Top soup with desired toppings.  Enjoy!  
(We find that the cream cheese "marries" this soup's flavors, so don't leave it out!) 

Have you tried going on a low-sugar lifestyle? I'll admit it is difficult to stay on it because fast food is so prevalent in our society.  So many things have sugar in them too! That is why I find that cooking my own food makes everything so much better, especially when I am able to use foods I've canned from my garden.  

I've also found the air fryer to be a very helpful tool in my kitchen, and I use it to roast vegetables like butternut squash, broccoli, carrots, etc.  We plan to keep sugar out of our diet as much as possible, eating more vegetables and meat.  Both of us feel wonderful as we continue to eat this way.  Perhaps I'll share more recipes in the future that I've found to be helpful, made without traditional sugar. 

Leaving you with this beautiful video that I made some time ago. May it be a blessing to your heart! The cares of this world do seem like too much to bear at times, but how wonderful it is to know that Jesus is the Rock we can stand on, our stronghold in the hour of need. 

Psalm 18:2 
The LORD is my rock 
and my fortress and my deliverer; 
My God, my strength, 
in whom I will trust; 
My shield and the horn of my salvation, 
my stronghold.


  1. Congratulations to Jennifer!
    As always, your photos are so pretty.
    I'm sorry about Annie. :(
    I have tried to eat less sugar, never to cut it out though. I'm sure it is so much better for you. I appreciate seeing what you eat and would love to see more menus and recipes, because it seems so hard to me.

    1. I do feel so much better off sugar, Mari. It is a blessing to feel so much better without it! I will be glad to share more recipes as I try them out and find them to work for us. Thank you for your kind visit and comments!

  2. I don’t eat gluten so it has cut out sugar for the most part! I miss it occasionally but not often.

    Sad news about the pup but he has a good life with you still!

    Have a great weekend.

    1. Gluten is one of the things that we aren't eating either. I've found alternative flours to be really good. I'm experimenting with recipes, and will share those that work out for us. I always appreciate your visits! Have a great weekend, and stay warm, I know terrible chilly temps are there this weekend. Hugs!

  3. Marilyn, you guys have the bluest skies in the world! You capture such beauty with your lens, each and every time!

    1. Thank you so much Linda, I am thankful to bless you with the beautiful views we get to enjoy every day!

  4. I'm sorry about your Annie-Girl. It must be so hard for her too when she can't go on walks with you any more. The wolf/coyote sure is a big one. Hopefully it won't hang around your yard.
    I like your teapot lantern. I have one similar but Miss Kitty knocked it over and part of it broke. Cats are reputed to be graceful but ours is a bit of a klutz.
    Keep warm and safe, Granny Marigold

    1. Hi Granny! We are hoping Mr. Coyote moves on too! I understand about kitties and breakable things! I do enjoy its beautiful light in the evening hours. Blessings to you!

  5. Hello Marilyn!
    I've visited your blog before; might have discovered you on Cheryl Smith's blog, who is a sweet friend. :)
    I am now subscribed!! I love your photos; you truly have a God-given gift to capture His beauty. I traveled through Idaho years ago with my family; lovely state!
    And thank you for including the video that includes your pictures. It was a blessing as trials and worries are a part of my life. But I am so thankful for God and His love and care, and for such dear friends who encourage me.
    God bless and keep you,

    1. Hello Valentine! How thrilled I am to see you visit my blog, and say hello! Thank you so much for subscribing, I love to share my photography, and also videos through my Youtube channel, as well as bits and pieces of the "spice of my life" on this mountaintop :) Idaho is such a beautiful state, so glad you were able to visit! You and your family will be in my prayers, the Lord is such a faithful provider! Many blessings to you!

    2. I'm happy to be here! Thank you for your prayers!

  6. What an amazingly full and fun post. Of course, Precious is glad to see your grey kitty. And we are sorry your sweet Annie has leg problems. We feel so badly when our pets age out on us humans. We went sugar/dairy/gluten free years ago. I use stevia to bake what little I do, and it is only with oatmeal recipes. We lost weight even though we were not over weight, but sugar is so detrimental to our bodies. I never had a bit of trouble going cold turkey. My husband still indulges when he is on trips. I love your photo of your tea pots, it is so restful to look at. Have a blessed February. Lynn and Precious

    1. Hello Lynn and Precious! I do believe our kitties look so much alike, maybe siblings somewhere along the line! It is so hard to watch our pets age! Good to hear that you have gone the sugar/dairy/gluten free also. I am still using dairy, but no sugar or gluten. I feel SO much better! Stevia is my favorite alternative sugar of choice, also. Sugar has so many detrimental effects on our bodies. I've known this for years, but it is good to finally make the switch over. Thank you for your kind words, I do love my teapots! I do have quite a collection! Blessings to you and Precious!

  7. Beautiful skies! That coyote is a handsome fellow. Of course, he is unwelcome. Hope that he moves on.

    Congrats to your winner.

    Sorry that Annie is having such a struggle, but I am glad that she will happily sit out the walks. Those poor paws. Comes the day when we all have to give up the long walk.

    Happy February!

    1. He is a handsome fellow, that Wiley Coyote! But, I hope he moves on. I'd like to see him stay wild. He just seems too bold for our liking, so we will be on high alert to protect our animals. Yes, it is so, so hard to see Annie slowing down. She is 10-1/2 years old. We sure hoped to have her with us much longer. But perhaps the Lord will give her a few more years with us.

      Happy February to you too!

  8. Poor Annie! I feel so sad for her.
    And congrats to Jennifer!
    Blessings, Marilyn, and stay warm. :)

    1. It breaks our hearts to see Annie this way, Martha. So, so hard. She has been the best dog. She is only 10-1/2. So hard to see our animals age too! You mentioned parents aging in your blog posting, that is so hard too. Yes, so happy that Jennifer will be blessed with Cheryl's wonderful new book! Blessings to you dear friend!

  9. First, I'm so sorry that your poor dog's back paws are hurting, and he can't walk with you anymore. Oh, I love your cozy little corner with the tea pots and the fairy lights. It looks so charming. You know, I had to avoid sugar all together a few times in my life because of health issues, and I'm talking no sugar at all - meat and vegetables, and Yes, it's hard. But I guess like anything, we get used to it somewhat. That coyote is a beauty, and isn't that something that he just stood there and watched you for a moment? He IS big, and I thought he was a mountain lion at first. You have many beautiful animals around your area, Marilyn. So happy for the winner of your giveaway, and try to stay warm. We are in the 20's and 30's here too.

    Take care, dear Marilyn. Just looked out my window and saw two Quails. So glad you see them where you live too.


    1. Thank you for your wonderful visit Sheri! It is nice that we share so many similarities in our mountain living worlds! I love the quail, just so sweet to watch them. I haven't seen the coyote for a couple of days. Hoping and praying he moves on, and stays wild. I love the teapot light, it brings joy to me in the dark nights of winter! It has been very hard to see Annie girl slow down, and we hope that she stays with us longer, but she is 10-1/2 years old. Hugs to you dear friend!

  10. So sorry to hear about the doggie, but I am sure that she does not mind not walking with you either. I wish I could go sugar free, but I just can't break the bad habit.

    1. I take Annie out in the snow for short walks, and she does okay in the snow. It is the pavement and gravel that tear her feet up, so she does still get a bit of exercise. It makes us very sad too! Yes, breaking free from sugar is not an easy thing to do. I find eating lots of salad, which I love, really helps. And there are sugar alternatives which really taste pretty good too. I will probably share more recipes as we find things that taste good. Blessings to you!

  11. Hi Marilyn! I love your teapot lantern! So cute! I have been resisting sugar more, too. It is in some of the things I regularly eat but I think I'm doing lots better by not eating cookies. LOL.

    1. Hello there PomPom! Always enjoy a visit from you. Sugar is hard to say no to, but thankfully there are sugar alternatives that really taste pretty good! Blessings to you dear friend!

  12. Thank you so much! I look forward to reading through the book.
    I love all your beautiful pictures, and your teapot collection is delightful in your window. I'm sorry to hear about your sweet dog...that is hard when they get to where they aren't able to do what they customarily do. I think taking sugar out of your diet is great if you are able to do that. I have to admit...I've tried but have yet to be successful. :)

    1. I'm so happy you were the winner Jennifer! I will have the book winging its way to you on Monday. The teapot lantern with the fairy lights that I made using E6000 glue, and an upside down vase on a plate, drilled out a hole with a glass bit, is just one of my favorite pieces I made. So fun! Taking out the sugar has been really good for us both, we feel so much better, and it is good that there are many wonderful sugar alternatives. It's not easy to do it when feeding a large family, I can certainly relate! Blessings to you dear friend!

  13. Congratulations to Jennifer! I bought Cheryl’s sweet book on Amazon. What a treasure she is. Your teapot lantern is just darling, Marilyn, and adds such a sweet glow. You are such a good caregiver to all your animals. I do watch my carbs, even though I bake a lot. It’s a way I’ve been able to maintain my weight. Your soup sounds wonderful, and I applaud you for cutting out sugar, etc.
    Thank you for the gorgeous video!! Blessings to you, dear Marilyn.

    1. Cheryl is such a sweet precious friend of mine! I love her dearly, and her books are so full of encouragement and great truth. She has such a gift to write! Indeed, keeping an eye on how much sugar intake we take in really helps so much. Thank you for watching the video! Blessings to you dear friend!

  14. Many congratulations to Jennifer.
    I was sorry to read about Annie-girl.

    As always your photographs are lovely.

    Eddie and I live the low carb high fat lifestyle

    Wishing you a happy February.

    All the best Jan

    1. Thank you Jan for your wonderful visit and comment! I am happy Jennifer won too! She lives in northern Canada, and I am thrilled she will get to enjoy Cheryl's book. It is so sad for us to see Annie's health deteriorate. I am giving her MSM and glucosamine chondroitin, and hoping that will help her in the days ahead. I do know that you are a proponent of the LCHF way of life, and it truly is such an amazing thing to feel better, getting your energy from fat rather than sugar. It is too bad our society is all about sugar, isn't it. I have always loved the recipes and insights you share. Blessings to you dear friend!

  15. Oh, it sure does Sandi. It amazes me how much better we feel off the sugar, and gluten too. Eating more vegetables and meats is definitely a plus! So thankful for our Lord the Rock in these uncertain times, amen! Blessings to you dear sister!

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  17. Dear Friend Marilyn I am sorry for your dear pet Annie. She must be a brave girl who despite of such grave sickness wants to keep walking. May she recover soon amen.
    Congratulations to the winner blogger friend.
    Your weather sounds weird like most part of the world my friend. I wonder what will bring next year as with time weather is getting worse.
    I wish you an early spring so I can enjoy your marvelous photography :)
    Oh how much either I love your sky shots is hard to define :) Glorious!!!
    Your memories regarding blue flying carpets are sweet. How fo we are to have such dazzling treasure within our hearts :)
    Oh I absolutely loved the stunning handmade lantern, it is such a beautiful show piece for your table!
    I loved your own photo brr really cool weather oh my. You guys are so brave to bear such heavily cold season indeed. I doubt if I can survive lol.
    It was wise and nice of you to share your sugar freeife beginning with us because may have thought about it since long time but waiting for the inspiration probably to follow this idea.
    I am into health research since few years and try to pick up useful things here and there and apply in daily life to Improve my life style as growing person.
    It's second year that we have cut tea and sugar to half than earlier but I have realised that regular yoga reduces the craving for sweetness with time so I think I am not far from when I will be completely sugar free tea hopefully.
    Keep taking good care of yourself my friend.
    Hugs and blessings

  18. Your eating plan will reap some good benefits, I'm sure. Our Colville kids have been eating that way. Glad that your sweet pup was helped with that medicine. That looks like one well fed coyote. Now what it's eating is another issue. Hope your property and pets are safe. You have some beautiful views on your mountain!

  19. Thank you again so very much, dear friend, for sharing about our book and hosting the giveaway! Congratulations to Jennifer on winning! I am SO sorry to hear about your precious Annie! May Jesus lay His healing hand on her and give her relief. Your beautiful photos just bless me so much, and your beautiful teapot is just amazing! The photos from inside your living room look so cozy and warm and inviting! And I was amazed that your eyelashes and eyebrows froze!! You have so much courage to brave the elements like you do. May the dear Lord bless you in so many ways for your kindness, support, encouragement, and friendship. Sending much love and gratitude your way tonight.

  20. Oh Marilyn... so sorry about sweet Annie and her hips! I've known two other friends/family who had German Shepards who had the hip problems... I'm glad she can still walk in the snow somewhat.. and am sure she'll continue to have a wonderful life with you! My sister's guy's legs would go outould ould go out from under him and then he couldn't get up.. poor guy. But he had a good life for many more years! Br.r.r. so cold at -6 to go for a walk! Yikes. Love all your photos. I'm spending February trying to relax some and not even thinking yet about gardens.. I may go light on a garden this coming summer.. and just not have as much. It's alot of work. Oh.. could you provide us with the recipe for your almond flour egg bread? I tried totally sugar free last July.. did well for about 6 weeks, lost some weight, felt better but still nothing drastic. and I was REALLY good. I also decided to go totally grain free so only baking with almond and coconut flour now and only eating paleo bread if I buy it. Still haven't lost anymore weight, and thought the grain free would help my fibromyalgia but hasn't seemed to at all. Very disappoinging! I've gotten bad about eating sugar again and have fallen off the sugar free wagon! Am trying again to slowly get back to no sugar! Boy is it hard for the first week! Take care and enjoy this break before gardens and work! xoxo Marilyn

  21. Hi Marilyn, some pretty pics as usual. Making sure you know about this: https://deeprootsathome.com/whats-up-with-egg-shortage-chicken-feed/ Some good info you might enjoy and like to share. God's Goodness & Blessings

  22. Hi Marilyn. I feel so bad about your sweet Annie. Our Kai had a bad spine and he did drag his back feet too but they never did bleed. I would have hated to see that. We just found out that our newest little guy, Rugby, has the same problem. He is just still young but it is hurting him already. So sad. Your neck of the woods is truly beautiful and so is that coyote. We had those close to home when we lived in Santa Cruz mountains. We never saw one but we could hear them calling at night on their trek to the creek. You don't want them to get too close..Enjoy the weekend..xxoJudy


Your comments are blessings to me, and I appreciate each and every one, they are precious to me! I appreciate you taking the time to comment on my blog... this is what makes blogging worthwhile! Have a blessed day!


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