The Beginning

A Journey Through Life

Be completely and totally in love with your life.

100% in love with it.

The above picture is a view similar to mine many days out of the year. Yes, I am the wife of a die-hard trucker. Come join me as I take you along on our journeys. Down winding roads, past shimmering lakes and cascading waterfalls, across snowy mountain passes, and deep into our journey we call life.

The Things Nobody Tells You…(musings from a first-time mom)

Nobody tells you that you really should grow an extra set of arms during pregnancy (along with everything else you’re growing). Cuz you’re really really gonna need more than just the two you have. They’d come in handy for driving swather and baler while essaying to feed and burp a floppy little baby at the same time. And for making supper. Because invariably the baby will cry and need to be held and fed right when your husband is fixing to walk in the door for supper.

Nobody tells you the sheer panic that wells up inside your mama heart when your precious little baby screams and cries and you have no idea why. Living with a newborn is comparable to moving in abruptly with a person from a foreign country. You both speak different languages but to live peaceably, you will need to figure out what the other is saying. Good luck with that!

Nobody tells you that some babies don’t know how to sleep through the night for very long stretches of time and that there are ways to help teach them these skills..

Nobody tells you how exhausted you will get. Sure they talk about being tired, but I mean the mind-numbing, emotion-crashing, overwhelming weariness after countless nights of 3-5 hours of sleep and no time during the day to nap. I look back now and really have no idea how I am still alive and kicking. Maybe the all-nighters I pulled in my youth are finally coming in handy 😂

Nobody tells you how important naps and sleep are for babies. And how very crabby they get on low sleep. (Crabby doesn’t begin to describe it though actually.)

Nobody tells you how loud everything sounds as soon as the baby does finally fall asleep. Floors creak twice as loudly, the door slamming sounds like a gunshot, and your husband’s voice seems to be nearly deafening.

Nobody tells you that motherhood is just a series of thinking you finally have it figured out and then the next day everything changes and you really have no idea what you’re doing after all.

Nobody tells you the amount of excitement you feel when someone texts you that they made a freezer meal for you. Simple joys, I know. 😅

Nobody tells you that you are the very best mama there could ever be for your baby. But it’s true. You really are ❤️

Happiness Is…

  • A gorgeous harvest moon peeping through the livingroom window as I rock my baby to sleep
  • The never-ending laundry caught up (momentarily)
  • 5 whole hours of sleep in one stretch
  • Indirect compliments (if you don’t often get direct compliments, listen for the indirect ones 😉
  • Baby smiles and long “conversations”
  • fresh apricots off our very own fruit trees, the first crop of their lives
  • playful orange kittens
  • Rides with Ross in the truck and ordering Freddys to the grain elevator for supper
  • Changing water on a hot day, the water from the wheel line sprinklers feels sooo good on a 105* day!
  • Blooming flowers.. glorious ghalardia, daisies, garden phlox, trumpet vines, lush fragrant honeysuckle, and so many more
  • Meeting new babies, thinking of all the good times these 3 little girls will have together growing up..
  • Ready-made food in the freezer that’s easy to heat and quick to serve
  • getting mail from friends!

These Are the Days

Of milk and diapers. And more milk. And more diapers.

Of sweet baby cuddles and growth spurts too soon.

Of bright baby eyes, sweet-smelling hair, and cutesy outfits.

These are the days of a newborn.

These are the days of overgrown lawns and weedy flowerbeds.

Of dirty windows and sewing piled high.

Of the rocking chair becoming the most-used belonging in the house after years of sitting quietly in the corner.

These are the days of priorities changing without warning.

These are the days of Ross working double-duty covering all my farm work, trucking besides, and hurrying home to hold his precious little Elle.

Of sleepless nights.. of crying spells..

Of speedy meals, and quick showers.

These are the days of survival.. but we wouldn’t trade them for anything in the whole world.

These are the days.

When Time Stands Still

Time stops. The entire world holds still and breathes in the miracle.

There aren’t enough words in the universe to describe the feelings. The flood of love, all the emotions of holding your very own baby for the very first time.

There aren’t enough hours in a day to hold her, to smother her in kisses, to watch her Daddy lovingly rock her.

To memorize every inch of her precious little self; she’s already changing so much every day!

I can’t imagine a better Mother’s Day gift.. this one came straight from God.

We are so very very pleased to announce: Ravielle Anne Nikkel, born at 9:30 am, May 9, 2021. 7 lbs, 10 oz. of sweetness topped with dark hair; 18-1/2 inches of cute soft baby-ness.

A Peek into Our Life

I’m just coming up for a gulp of air. I hope to someday soon fully re-emerge from this hectic busyness and land on a stable surface long enough to blog about all that’s been happening down Highway 20. But for now, just a note to let you all know I’m still kicking.

It’s spring on the farm. Enough said. Ross is also hauling long hours in hopes of taking off for a good long while when the baby is born..(which is right around the corner!!)

We have a sister getting married, and projects galore in the process of finishing.

Y’all take care, stay safe, and I’ll be back in awhile with more detailed descriptions of our life.

Sheet Pan Meals

With the flurry of busyness the last couple weeks, I’ve jumped on board the one-dish-meal bandwagon. And I must admit I am hooked!

It all started while I was redoing my kitchen cupboards. Monday morning found me moving every dish, lid, utensil, pan, and other random forgotten artifacts (found at the very backs of my cupboards and bottom of my drawers) into the diningroom/livingroom.

The process of cleaning, sanding, painting, distressing, and sealing took me the entire week. During this time, the fridge and stove were nearly meeting in the middle of the kitchen so I could easily get to the walls and cabinets around them. Needless to say, I did not want to spend a lot of time preparing meals in this state of haphazardness.

Ross was gone to Arizona on the truck. So one day for lunch, I laid some parchment over a cookie sheet and spread out 2 tilapia fillets and some frozen broccoli and cauliflower. Next I drizzled them with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled them with seasonings. Not even sure what I used…most likely whatever was within closest reach!

Turned the oven on 400-425*F. and let it bake until the fish was flaky and the veggies tender-crisp.

Reasons to be impressed:

  • Fast and easy
  • Used only one pan for the whole meal
  • Didn’t even have to wash that one pan because I used parchment paper to keep it clean.
  • Healthy and tasted good. (I really should list those separately to make my list look longer!)

Another day I did chicken and sweet potato fries. Also pronounced delicious.

Yesterday Ross was home for supper so I decided to try one out on him. For those of you that have my cookbook, Meals to the Fields and More…I used the recipe for Oven-Roasted Chicken & Vegetables on page 164.

For those of you that don’t have my cookbook, now would be a great time to order one! 😜 http://madebyjo.co

Before baking
Ready to eat!

I loved this recipe..I think I mostly followed it as written. Except I didn’t have jalapeno on hand or sausage.

The hubby ate seconds or possibly thirds, I lost track so I’d say that was a good sign. (Never mind that he pushed most of the veggies to the side and I ate them.)

I’d love to hear about your favorite one-pan-oven-meals!

Snowy Days

Whiteness. Pure whiteness. Falling from the sky, heaping the fenceposts, drifting over the woodpile. Cold brisk air; fresh nitrogen from above, catching ride on the minuscule crystals plummeting from the atmosphere. Transforming the drab brown world into sparkling frosted beauty.

Buster’s view of a snowy day—What excitement, what energy pulses through my veins. I turn somersaults in the air, for the pure joy of being alive on such a beautiful day. A day filled with lovely fluffy fun. I cavort through the stuff, dragging my nose to make winding trails. I take great bites of the whiteness, only to have it disappear on my steaming pink tongue. I scamper in circles, chasing anything that moves. Making rushes at the fastidious cats who daintily pick their way through the cold wetness, lifting each paw as if walking on shards of glass. What silly creatures, don’t they know that snowy days are perfect for sliding, for rolling and romping, for cutting capers and leaping into the brisk air?

My view of a snowy day—The whole world is whiteness, the sky, the air, the landscape all around me. There are no roads, only vast expanses of snow. So I make my own trails. The first footprints across a brand-new canvas. My hands are warm inside cozy black mittens, but my thin rubber boots fail to insulate my feet from the prolonged cold. After I trudge back to the house, I start a load of laundry, brew a fragrant cup of tea, and enjoy a moment of hygge. Outside my window, the snow continues to fall in a steady curtain. It’s a perfect day for bookkeeping and baking. I can rest easy knowing my truck-driving man is home, free from the dangers this weather brings to the highway, at least for today.

Words and Birds

The weather beams warm one day; another morning, I look outside to see 6 inches of snow drifted across the lawn with an awful wind whipping through the bare tree branches.

Winter in Oregon. The next week, we get drizzles of rain for a day or two..the ground turns into a quagmire of soft sticky mud. My daily walks turn into sloopy treks with pounds of mud hanging on each boot.

I’ve been spending a great deal of time alternating between the desk and the sewing machine. I’ve managed to complete approximately 8 months worth of bookwork in two weeks of time. Something I would not advise to anyone. To keep myself from going completely insane, I try to spend a few hours outside each afternoon. On the sunny drier days, I’ve been raking great piles of tumbleweeds and burning them. One day I curled up on the back lawn and took a short snooze, soaking in much-needed Vitamin D. It lasted a good half hour until Buster abruptly interrupted my lovely nap with his wet tongue.

My winter break is too quickly coming to an end. Ross and I were looking back into records from last year and it appears that we started farm work the beginning of March. Only one more month to revel in my cozy house. I’ve been enjoying cups of hot tea, deep-cleaning cupboards and closets, and taking a book-keeping course in my spare moments.

Along with a gender reveal for my brother’s baby, a surprise birthday party for a cousin, and putting on a Valentine luncheon for our local sewing circle ladies, I have a feeling February will be gone in a flash.

Ross has been on and off the truck. As always, there’s an ongoing truck project waiting in the shop. On his home time, he’s been sanding, bondo-ing and taking things apart. I spent one day helping sand around rivets. Tedious would be the only word that comes to mind.

One morning while munching on bowls of cereal, we became aware of a great flock of birds in our back yard. I’m not sure what the occasion but it was quite impressive.

The cats could have had a feast but for some reason they were all congregated at the back garage door, awaiting their daily allotment of dog food.

Our baby is growing by leaps and bounds. And kicks and punches. Some days I wonder what kind of hyper child we are going to end up with by the feel of things.

The baby room is consolidating slowly but surely. With the help of an upcoming baby shower and perhaps another shopping trip, I believe we will be as ready as we can get.

Take care!

12 AM Thoughts

I mailed a package to Indiana on December 28. It arrived to its destination on January 30. I should be a postal worker for a month just to see what in the world goes on after normal unsuspecting people drop normal unsuspected packages with valid address labels and paid shipping off at the post office.

Speaking of normal unsuspecting people, I’ve been trying to hide vegetables in my husband’s food lately but he always manages to catch sight of them. Whether it’s one tiny pea smothered in a pile of creamy Mac-N-Cheese, or a carrot at the very bottom of a bowl of chicken noodle soup, he somehow sees it in a short amount of time. Meanwhile his wife drinks 2 entire glasses of orange juice without noticing that he has dropped a peppermint taffy into her cup before she even started.

Speaking of food, I’d really like a piece of cheesecake right now.

I wonder how hard it is to make cheesecake. I don’t even have a springform pan. Thinking about food makes me realize that I haven’t written a recipe blog post for quite some time.

Let me go jot that on my to-do list.

Speaking of to-do lists, I just read an article today that suggested every once in awhile we should make list of things we have accomplished instead of everything that needs to be done yet.

Not to boast or anything, but that would be a very long list. How would one know where to start from?

That almost makes me tired just thinking about everything I’ve done in my life. I should go to bed.


P. S. On my way to bed, I went around by way of the laundry room where I saw my pair of house shoes that I just invested in. They are comfy croc-like beasts. They bring a feeling of ambition just by slipping them on. I got the idea for house shoes from a blog I read lately. (I wonder if any of my blogs ever inspire anyone to do something they’ve never done before?) And also because my feet hurt.

Pregnancy… Some days I’m amazed there’s as many children in the world as there is. On other days I’m ready to have 8 more. Which explains why there is so many children in the world.

I really should go to bed.

One last pondering.. we’ve been through thick and thin…you remember thin, don’t you?

Good night. For real. I mean, good morning.

P.P.S. I wonder if boughten cheesecake from the grocery store is any good?


I am thankful for little things. The other day in a writing group, we were given the assignment of writing a list of 100 things to be grateful for.

It took a bit of thought to come up with that many. But once I got to the upper 90’s, even more blessings popped into my head and I could have continued for a good while.

Here is 100 blessings I am so very thankful for:

1.My goofy caring husband

2.A beautiful view of the valley

3.My hyper Buster Bear

4.Warm plush blankets

5.Aloe-Vera infused socks

6.Fabric waiting to be sewed

7.The fact that my bookwork is nearly caught up

8.A wood stove crackling

9.The cheerful mail lady who toots her horn until I race out of the house to receive the packages she brings

10.The ability to cook and try new recipes

11.Friends who text me out of the blue

12.Thank you cards

13.Kind neighbors who invite us for coffee/hot tea while we chat about land rental prices

14.Paychecks that come on time

15.Tall glasses of icy cold water

16.Crepes with cottage cheese and maple syrup

17.Fun evenings with a group of young couples our age

18.A warm smile from a stranger

19.Preparing a baby room…setting up a crib, buying a diaper bag. It’s so exciting, yet surreal.

20.Indoor plumbing

21.A warm shower when I’m chilled

22.A sunny day and piles of tumbleweeds burned

23.Cats that follow me everywhere I go outdoors, even on long walks!

24.Plans for the future

25.My husband’s interest in yard work (if only he had time for it!)

26.A low-key cleaning job

27.Huge downy snowflakes free-falling from curtain of grey

28.Audio books to make the quiet hours pass

29.Cookbook sales

30.Spring cleaning fits

31.Unearthing long lost treasures from boxes buried in the garage

32.A recliner for when I need to put my feet up

33.That pregnancy doesn’t last more than 9 months


35.Uncontrollable laughter

36.Friends that have had babies recently and give me all sorts of advice

37.Answered prayers

38.Borrowed clothes that fit


40.The feeling of satisfaction when you finish posting a tall stack of receipts

41.Sour gummy worms

42.Crunchy Cheetos

43.Christmas presents waiting to be opened and put to use

44.The ability to think and make decisions

45.Cookbooks and magazines to leaf through

46.A 4-wheel-drive pickup to get up our steep snowy drive

47.A devotional book

48.Baby kicks

49.The sound of jake brakes

50.Smoked meat made with love by my man

51.Work to do


53.Spring fever hitting early. (I need to get as much done as I can before May!)

54.The great big beautiful outdoors


56.Lungfuls of fresh crisp air

57.Ambition and the energy to carry it out

58.Good health

59.My laptop

60.Postal packages that get to their destinations on time (When you have one that takes 3 weeks and still hasn’t showed up to its new owners, you really appreciate the ones that get there speedily!)

61.Hot tea

62.A soft pillow


64.The ability to pray

65.A Still Small Voice to keep me on the narrow way

66.God’s Church

67.Homemade jean quilts

68.Hikes in the nearby mountains or my own back pasture

69.Card games to play on the truck

70.Hearing good things said about you behind your back

71.Grapefruit spoons

72.Hot dogs smoked to perfection in the smoker

73.A spare bedroom

74.Cousins that live nearby

75.Little children

76.Window blinds

77.A refrigerator to store leftover food in

78.A late Christmas program all the way from Malawi, Africa!

79.Paint that transforms cupboards, a room, or an entire house


81.Old friends

82.The feeling of “clicking” with a person you’ve never met before

83.Gopher traps

84.Clothes to wear at all stages of life

85.My husband’s jeans that got too small before I had to give in and patch their holes


87.Date nights in the truck with my hubby

88.Sleeping in


90.New recipes that turn out perfectly the first time


92.Experiences in life that teach us lessons

93.Christian schools

94.A Father in heaven

95.Full moons

96.The breathtaking beauty of nature

97.Hearing about good books from trusted sources

98.Fresh home-grown eggs



I challenge you to sit down and ponder all the blessings you’ve been given.

Jot them down, it only takes a few minutes!