Perfect Pizza

After years of trying, I think I’ve perfected the art of making homemade pizza.  When you live 22 miles from town you don’t order pizza and I’ve yet to find a frozen pizza I actually like–I’m open to suggestions!

I’ve always made my own sauce and it was always runny–well it seems I’ve been using the wrong tomato base! Recently posted a recipe for Ultimate Pizza Sauce on her Facebook page and I saw the light!  Her sauce recipe uses tomato sauce and tomato paste–no canned tomatoes.  In Jill’s post she stated, “If you leave out the fennel seed the recipe will be delicious, but if you use the fennel seeds, the recipe will be absolutely incredible.” and she was absolutely right.  I’m not a fan of fennel but in that pizza sauce it was amazing!  I doubled the recipe and froze the remainder in one pizza portion sizes.

Crust was always an issue too–I didn’t want to spend too much time every Friday (our pizza day) making pizza dough.  I’m not a baker of the kind of bread which requires kneading–never have been.  So, for my dough I use a hunk of the Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day recipe.  If you are not familiar with this method, check out the cookbook link–I use these recipes for making all kinds of bread.

Getting the crust the perfect size and thickness was a big problem until I watched a video by Peter Reinhart.  Sometimes I still struggle and cuss but most of the time, it’s perfect using his method!

The one step in pizza making which frequently caused me to curse was getting the raw pizza off the pizza peel onto the hot baking stone.  I had another light bulb moment when reading someone’s recipe–“liberally sprinkle the pizza peel with corn meal.”  That word liberally has made all the difference in the world–Emmi and the Cowboy don’t have to hide any more on pizza making Fridays!

And then there are the tools–Making pizza crust with that perfect crunch requires the use of a pizza stone–a thick, heavy pizza stone and a very, very hot oven!  A 500 degree oven or grill if possible.  In summer I use the pizza stone on our Weber grill which has three burners and a thermostat I can watch.  I also use a wooden pizza peel for transferring the raw pizza to the hot pizza stone( liberally sprinkled with corn meal before I position the pizza dough!)

Add your desired toppings–I use onions/green peppers/pepperoni/seasoned hamburger/mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.  Onto the grill it goes and I watch it like a hawk–at 500 degrees the crust will burn quickly!  And, another reason to use the grill–all that liberally sprinkled cornmeal will sometimes slide off the pizza peel onto the surfaces of your very hot kitchen oven causing lots of smoke–not nice so I use the grill most of the time.

So, that’s probably more than you wanted to know about making pizza but I was lacking in subject matter tonight! 🙂 🙂

On another note–

 Yep, 34 degrees this morning!  Lonn had 29 degrees and our high reached only 70 degrees today–absolutely perfect weather!!

It’s Haying Time

The Cowboy usually cuts hay around July 4 but last year he cut about this time of summer as we had an ATV trip planned.  So, I guess he decided this was a good time to cut hay this year too–no trips planned at this time but you never know!  The wind has howled today, yesterday we had a high temp of 86 and today 81–makes for fast drying hay.  Have you seen how hot it is in Arizona???  Wow–so very glad we don’t have to stay there in summer!

I killed the lawnmower–it was mowing fine this morning, after lunch the mower part wouldn’t engage.  The Cowboy said I hit a rock–a big rock!  But that’s isn’t all that’s wrong with the old mower–we’ve had it a long time, the mower wasn’t expensive and we’ve used it.  It’s now in pieces in the garage–we will see if the Cowboy can make it work again!  Weed whacking was next on my agenda–UGH!  If it doesn’t rain soon it may well be the end of my mowing and weed whacking in places we don’t irrigate such as down by the county road.

The Cowboy had cleaning irrigation ditches on his agenda Tuesday so I made a run to Billings by myself for a haircut and to pick up just a few things at Costco.  This time of year we go through a lot of fresh fruit–strawberries, watermelons, oranges–and it just isn’t obtainable at our little grocery store in Big Timber.

And that’s all there is today–thanks for checking in with us!

Father’s Day Ride

We joined Lonn, Katie, Mike and Brooks for a close to home fabulous ride on Father’s Day!  In 2006 a huge forest fire named the Derby Fire caused us to be evacuated–the area we rode yesterday was burned by that same fire.  It was heartening to see all the new growth–lots of new trees, abundant wildflowers, wild strawberries and raspberries–it was really quite beautiful!

Brooks is asleep before the wheels start rolling but as soon as the engine stops–he wants out!  He is such a trooper–Lonn and his gang brought their RV over on Saturday so Brooks experienced camping for the first time. 🙂

We had gray, heavy clouds part of the day and sunshine at times.  It was dang cold on the 18th of June!  We wore coats, gloves and hats most of the day!  You can see how Brooks was bundled!

When the new baby comes Lonn may have to look into purchasing a four seater????

We ended our ride fairly early in the afternoon so we could stop and visit with Nat on Father’s Day.  Then it was home to prop our feet up!

Today the Cowboy started cutting hay–it’s a little early for us but the hay seems to be ready, we have what looks to be a run of good weather and we have a few grasshoppers–time to cut!  I finished a customer quilt today and chores–those routine things which have to be done.

I also made homemade tortillas–when in AZ there is a little grocery market nearby which sells fabulous tortillas.  In Montana good tortillas don’t exist–so I make them.  It’s really very easy although I think I am going to order a tortilla press–with arthritis in my hands, I have a hard time rolling the dough thin enough.

Life is good!


Glad That’s Over

DSCN4756The garage sale that is–UGH–I’m thinking this might have been my last garage sale.  I get caught up in the hype–the city of Big Timber was having its yearly city wide garage sale–the Cowboy and I thought, why not?  Well, I’ll tell you why not–it’s a whole lot of dang work!  We did very well today but we had a few big ticket items which we were sure would sell and they did–right at 8am.  The rest of the morning was slooooow!

The Cowboy was sad when he started pricing his horse packing equipment but today he felt better about selling it.  The city publishes on the local Facebook sites a map and brief description of what each location is selling.  I also posted on the Facebook sites photos and brief descriptions of the big ticket/sure they would sell items.  In the Facebook post I said, “please, no early sales.”

The sale was to start at 8am.  At 7:50am two vehicles pulled up–one was a woman I knew who had expressed interest in the Singer Featherweight sewing machine.  The other truck contained a young man and his mom.  Both vehicle occupants were very respectful of my time request and did not leave their vehicles until I waved them over a few minutes before 8am.  The woman bought the Featherweight and the young man was so excited about the Cowboy’s horse packing equipment.  The Cowboy was thrilled his equipment was going to someone just starting out in the packing business and threw in horse pads and other stuff.  We had a steady stream of people all morning and occasionally someone would purchase something–I did sell another antique sewing machine.  As I said, we had a good day but it’s not something I want to do again–we have lots to take to the thrift store!

It’s that time of year when our yard and flower beds are gorgeous–


And Sunday is Father’s Day.  My Dad has been gone since 2002 and I miss him every single day–

DadThis photo was taken when Mom was working as a cook on a dude ranch near Ennis, Montana.  They loved to spend summers in Montana escaping the hot Arkansas weather.

IMG_2318Nat and the Cowboy–this photo was taken about two years ago, probably on Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!




Billings Again

When we are in Montana our time is often filled with doctor and dentist appointments.  I’ve been to see my nurse practitioner, it was the Cowboy’s turn to see one of his physicians today.  I also dropped by the office of my nurse practitioner to retrieve a written prescription.  And here’s the story on the why of that one!

It’s another “why I love our healthcare system” rant.  I chose a new healthcare plan with a higher deductible at the beginning of 2017.  I made this choice with eyes wide open and was fully informed.  A higher deductible allows the use of a health savings account–a very attractive tax break!  We can afford a higher deductible and I am reasonably healthy.  I knew the cost of my medications would be greater until the deductible was met.  Greater, not robbed!!!

I take a statin–Crestor.  The cost of that prescription changed very little with this new plan.  I also use a hormone patch–I was paying $20 for a three month supply with my old insurance plan.  I would now be paying $206 for a three month supply with the new health insurance plan.  Each patch would cost almost $9.  I checked  Same patch, three month supply–$94–about $4 per patch. requires a written prescription be mailed to them–my doctor was very accommodating and wrote me the prescription.  Of course by buying the medications in Canada I can’t claim the $94 against my deductible but I would rather pay out of pocket than be ripped off!

Last evening I walked by the west facing windows and gasped–not bad for a Montana sunset!


Wednesday I spent most of the day getting ready for the garage sale.  The Cowboy worked on the bathroom tub remodel.  It was a cool, very windy day so inside work was good!


Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, ocean, outdoor, water and natureMy two great nieces on the coast of Alabama with my sister, their grandmother.  My sister Ann likes things clean, very clean–they’ve been at the beach for about a week–I think all the sand has about sent her over the edge! 🙂 🙂

Welcome Moisture

DSCN4728Whoa–what happened to spring??  Monday evening we had a small thunderstorm pass through with tiny hail and some rain but during the night it rained a lot–almost an inch of moisture which is very, very welcome this time of year!  We’ve planted some grass seed and have spent a lot of time watering–last night’s rain will take care of the watering for a couple days!

Each year Big Timber hosts a community wide garage sale and although I am NOT a fan of having garage sales, we always seem to do well at this one.  So, we’ve both been trying to ruthlessly select “stuff” to place in the garage sale–we will be set up at Nat’s and let’s hope for good, warm weather!

Today my friend Jill and I went to Billings to keep another friend company as her husband had surgery.  Even considering the seriousness of the event, we enjoyed the company and the lunch which Jill treated us to.   Emmi and the Cowboy held down the home fort while I was gone.

The following are more photos from our trip to the Pryor Mountain National Wild Horse Range:

IMG_5963IMG_5961IMG_5919Looking at these photos, I’m ready to go back!

Fire Update: 40% contained and much less activity!


Pryor Mountain National Horse Range

One evening last week the phone rang–it was Ken, our friend/neighbor calling to see if we wanted to accompany them and friends to the wild horse range on Saturday.  They’ve asked us a couple other times and it just hadn’t worked out–this time we had a new machine and no plans–we were on!

When the Cowboy and I met, I was living in Powell, WY and the Pryor Mountains were visible to the east.  An ugly, barren pile of rocks which only became beautiful when the setting sun would reflect turning the hills a beautiful pink color.  So, my expectations for the ride were–ugly, barren piles of rock and dust, lots of dust.  Was I ever wrong!  I never dreamed we would see color as in the photo above, I never knew the Pryor’s reached such high elevations–we were at about 8600 feet at one time yesterday and I certainly didn’t think parts of the trail would be forested!

In 1968 an effort by a group of citizens resulted in the establishment of the Pryor Mountain National Wild Horse Range.  These horses have roamed the Pryor Mountains for more than a century and blood typing has indicated the horses are closely related to the old type European Spanish horse. Their unusual coloring points to their Spanish lineage too–dorsal stripes down their back, wither stripes and zebra stripes on their legs.  So–where did these horses come from–unclear but it is a common belief the horses escaped from Native American herds finding a home in the Pryor Mountains.

The BLM manages this herd and tries to keep the numbers between 120 to 160 horses.  Genetic diversity of these horses is high and thus the current level of inbreeding is low.  Natural and man made barriers confine the horses to their current range so the yearly foal population of 20-30 per year is the only source for new horses.  Every two to three years the BLM gathers and removes animals in order to maintain the desired number.  One of the ways horses are removed is through adoption by the general public through application.  (This information was obtained via a BLM pamphlet dated April 2000)

This time of year the horses are found at higher elevations in the open meadows.  Leslie and Bev were in charge of counting and we saw over 120 head of horses throughout the day.  Horses are not the only wildlife you can see on this land–we stopped for lunch and one of our group–Peggy–noticed a bighorn sheep poking her head around a nearby knoll.  The sheep’s baby soon joined her and we watched the pair and they watched us as we enjoyed our lunch–amazing!!

The bighorn sheep have an interesting story too–these sheep are originally from a small herd which had been reintroduced into Wyoming’s northern Bighorn Mountains.  In the mid-1970’s they migrated across the ice of Bighorn Lake and remained on the west side of the Bighorn Canyon where their population has increased.  These sheep have persisted where several deliberate attempts at reintroduction have failed.  (From the BLM pamphlet)

The day started out warm and sunny with fluffy white clouds in a blue, blue sky changing to threatening clouds and much cooler temps as we climbed in elevation–it never rained but looked as if the skies could open at any time!

The wildflowers were stunning–we even spotted a bitter root–the Montana state flower.

Ken called Friday evening to tell us we would be going in the ice cave–we needed flash lights and knee pads–HUH???  Seems there are two ice caves located on the wild horse range–we visited Little Ice Cave but decided against crawling inside.  Ken and Leslie as well as others in the group had been inside on past visits–seems you crawl about 50 feet before the cave opens up into a large room with stalagmites, stalactites and soda straws.  Something to look forward to for the next visit!

The entrance to Little Ice Cave–come on down Tom Hengel–we will let you lead the way! :)))))

Another dog, Lacy, joined us much to little Emmi’s dismay.  Lacy is a puppy and wanted to play–the queen bee was having none of that!

This has to be one of our all time favorite rides and we can’t wait to do it again!  If you would like to read more about the wild horse range here is a link with tons of great information.  The below photo was my lucky break–I was watching other horses at the time, heard the screaming/chattering and swung the camera toward the noise–

Arizona fire update–our area was under a pre-evacuation order but that order has now been removed.  We’ve been in contact with Brian–our friend and well driller.  He’s keeping watch and keeping us informed.

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and natureTaken from the Benson side of the Dragoon Mountains–we are on the eastern side of these mountains. (Photo sent to us by our friend Linda)



Flowers and Fire

Yesterday I happened to see a blurb on one of the Arizona Facebook groups about a fire near the town of Dragoon–YIKES–that’s only about six miles from our house as the crow flies.  The fire is 7500 acres and burning in the Dragoon Mountains–one of our view mountains.  Our friend Linda sent us these photos.  The small community of Dragoon and the Cochise Stronghold have been evacuated.  Cochise Stronghold is visible from our home.

Dragoon Fire2Dragoon Fire

Getting old is not for sissies!  Thursday and today I weeded flower beds and strawberry beds–goodness me, I can hardly walk!  And Thursday it was dang hot, almost 90 degrees!!  Today it hasn’t even reached 70 degrees–that’s Montana weather for you!

Today we made a run to town to license the Can-Am–we have a cool trip in the works and we visited with Nat.  Other than normal chores, there’s not much going on around here.  The next blog will be more interesting–I promise!

Craigslist And High Water

DSCN4706The wild roses are blooming everywhere–Montana native folks tell me this means high water is over.  Judging by the river flow, the Cowboy thinks it means the water won’t get any higher!!

We use Craigslist extensively when either buying or selling.  During this recent “stuff” purge we’ve listed almost everything on Craigslist and had great luck!  Unfortunately those idiots with nothing to do are still out there.  When selling an item on Craigslist you can elect to allow the seller contact via phone, text or email.  Your email address is not actually published, it is encrypted by Craigslist so the person contacting you has no access to your email address.

The scammers are always out there–frequently we receive emails asking “is your item still available?”  Sometimes just minutes after the ad goes live.  IF you answer that email then the fun begins.  You will usually receive another email which goes something like this (spelling errors are intentional):

“I am seriusly wanting to buy your itme.  I have problem I am not there if you will give me email address I will send you cashir chek”—–and it goes on and on.  When we receive these emails I have the almost uncontrollable urge to fire back an email which states, “fat chance jerk!!!”  but I restrain myself! 🙂

We don’t respond to these emails, we just delete, period.  Today while the Cowboy was scrolling through Craigslist, he started to chuckle.  This scammer is way lacking in intelligence!!! Can you find all the mistakes he made in his ad not including the too good to be believed price???

2012 flagstaff 5th wheel$4000 

2012 flagstaff

fuel: other
transmission: automatic

Have a great Camper for sale. Has two slides in the living room that makes a great big room. Electric fire place large master room with shower and bathroom,6-8 sleep, like new condition
One of the irrigation ditches leading to Joe and Tammy’s place needed some cleaning so the Cowboy took his mini-excavator up there spending the day playing in the dirt on Tuesday.  Emmi was getting to be rather shaggy and stinky.  I have commercial grade Oster clippers but have never had guards for the blades leaving Emmi looking a little ragged at time.  I found a set of guards at Amazon which would fit my Oster clippers–the guards made it much easier to keep her fur all the same length.   Emmi’s fur is very fine textured and would get caught between the blade and guard–my only complaint and I’m not sure it was the fault of the equipment–it could just be her fur.
DSCN4710Columbine are blooming
Today was Big Timber errands day–I needed birdseed–the little wild birds are eating us out of house and home!  We met Jeane for lunch and to exchange quilts–I had finished one for her and now I am going to quilt a 4H quilt for her granddaughter PJ.  The Cowboy had a long list as did I.  After all that errand running we stopped to visit with Nat for a while–he was very disappointed to find Emmi wasn’t along–it was a little too warm to leave her in the vehicle while we ate and ran all those errands so she stayed home.
DSCN4712Snow in Summer in my flower beds and daisies in a deck planter.  It was a beautiful day!

Lots Of Water

After a busy week then branding day on Saturday, we were neither the height of ambition on Sunday.  Monday I managed to finish a customer quilt, do some laundry and make us lunch.  We tried a recipe for Greek salad which was in the last issue of Escapees Magazine.  It was delicious–I’m not a huge fan of oregano and this salad dressing recipe called for one tablespoon of dried oregano.  I only used a half tablespoon and it was plenty–very good!  In case you are worried about the Cowboy only having salad for lunch–I also fed him leftover pork tenderloin! 🙂

Monday afternoon late I said, “why don’t we drive up and see the falls?”  The Cowboy thought he could manage that and off we went.  Natural Bridge Falls is our local tourist attraction–in times of high water brought on by melting snow the waterfall is actually a water fall–100 feet high.  The rest of the year the river disappears through an opening in the limestone exiting out another hole closer to the bottom of the falls. There are only a few days per year when the water “goes over the top” as the locals say and in dry years it may not even happen those few days.  It’s always a thrill to see and hear!

DSCN4690I am standing on the wooden bridge watching the river flow toward the falls.DSCN4703

Remember our problems with Emmi’s separation anxiety and the purchase of the Barkwise Vibration Collar?  Well, Emmi hasn’t worn that collar since late February when we moved to Pearce and once again had no neighbors for her to annoy.  Lately Emmi has decided to start “baying!”  There is no other word for it–it’s not barking, it’s baying! And no amount of talking, saying “no bark” helps, she continues to bay.  The Cowboy retired early last night and I walked outside to take a photo of the sunset–Emmi saw me outside and must have thought I was the big, bad bogeyman!  The baying woke the Cowboy and made me so angry I found Emmi’s vibration collar and plugged it in to charge.  People were coming this morning to haul away another piece of our “stuff” so I activated the collar–Emmi heard it beep, ducked her head and waited for me to put it around her neck.  She went roaring outside when she heard the vehicle and never barked–amazing!


Life is good.