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.

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!

Winter Days

I’ve found one benefit of foggy mornings.. when it finally clears, the whole world is bathed in fuzzy outlines of silvery whiteness.

Today the air was crisp and the very trees crackled as I trotted past them on a brisk walk with Buster.

Nothing pleases the two of us more than to head out across the pasture or field with lungfuls of fresh frigid air and the quiet stillness of nature.

We had a delightful week in balmy Arizona over the Christmas season. I never get my fill of real Mexican food, the statuesque mountains guarding the valley, and spending time with childhood friends and family.

The only problem being that we readily climatized to the 65* weather. Coming back to snow, fog, and cold was a-bit of a shock.

After Christmas, we headed out to Nebraska on the truck. Ross found a tractor for sale that caught his eye. Lo and behold, the guy selling it turned out to be a former neighbor of ours back in the Arizona days! Small world. Truly.

We were fortunate to have dry roads and good driving weather so the trip was highly uneventful. We spent a lovely evening and part of a day with some family.

Back at home, I’ve been starting to acquire items for my baby room. And having a small fit of cleaning attacks. The pantry and several closets have underwent major organization/deep-cleaning.

The other day as I parked at Walmart, I happened to notice an elderly lady wandering slowly around the parking lot with a puzzled look on her face. It was a cold damp day and raindrops were just beginning to splatter across my windshield. After watching her meander up and down aisle 4 several times, I concluded that she must have lost her vehicle. So I hopped out and helped search. All she knew was that it was a grey Ford Taurus. I trotted up and down between the rows of cars until I found one that matched the description. Then guided her carefully over to it. She was not completely convinced it was her car but when she hit the remote button, the trunk of said car popped open. I popped her now-sodden grocery bags inside and headed in to do my own shopping.

Ross has acquired a smoker of sorts from a neighbor so we are anxiously waiting for the days he will be home long enough to try it out. I have a slab of pork just waiting to be seasoned.

And to end with, here’s a bit of humor borrowed from a friend..

Tim bought two goldfish. He named them One and Two. If One dies, he still has Two.

Of life and holiday spirits

Cure for bad-tempered cats:

Pull on welding gloves. Grab bad-tempered cat and stuff into a large garbage can with lid. Close lid tightly. Place on four wheeler and drive rapidly to farm 2-3 miles away. Dump cat out and drive rapidly away in the opposite direction. Take a completely different route home so bad-tempered cat cannot follow. Wait one day. Afore-mentioned cat will show up at the back door and be friendly and happy the rest of its days.

I cannot guarantee that this cure will always work but it sure did for me!

One way to pass the time while your hubby is gone on the truck is to make all your favorite recipes that he does not especially care for. List is as follows:

  • Spicy Korean Beef Tacos
  • Honey Butter Chicken over Rice
  • Mexican Soup
  • Flaky Fish Tacos
  • Farmers Spoonbread
  • Bowtie Pasta
  • Mom’s Chicken and Biscuits

Some of these recipes are in my cookbook, others have been discovered more recently.

The days are steadily getting colder.. the ground slowly freezing. I’ve been bravely trapping gophers each day. I figured if they can still dig tunnels; I can still dig holes and trap them. But of late, the ground is so frosty and hard, I can scarcely pound the stakes in, much less shovel.

Buster and I take long meandering walks nearly every day. Along with a cat or two. Ever since I got back from my last truck ride, they have scarcely let me out of their sight.

And of course, a Christmas fever has set in.. I’ve been writing in Christmas cards, shopping, wishing, singing carols at the top of my lungs in the shower, and sewing Christmas-y/wintry dresses. The stockings are beginning to bulge, and I glimpse cascades of lights around town.

Christmas is my very favorite-est time of year. It just makes me want to bake goodies for everyone I know, buy stacks and loads of presents, and sniff cinnamon pinecones in the Christmas aisles at Walmart.

But I keep reminding myself that there’s more ways to celebrate Christmas, even without spending money. Christmas is about love. Showing love to others.

It’s as simple as holding the door, wishing someone a Merry Christmas, or smiling a genuine smile at a stranger.

It’s making small talk with the weary cashier, complementing a mom on her clothes, playing peekaboo with a baby.

It’s even letting vehicles go in front of you, pushing a cart back to the return area for an older lady, or giving someone your spot in line.

Wishing you all a happy fulfilling holiday season!

Chimichangas with Cheese Sauce

I don’t have any fancy name for these. They are what they are, and don’t need an amazing handle. The taste speaks for itself. And as a real winner, they are fairly easy to make!

You will need:

  • hamburger meat
  • salt and pepper
  • onion powder or minced onion
  • garlic powder
  • cumin
  • taco seasoning
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • flour tortillas
  • butter
  • flour
  • milk
  • plenty of cream
  • velveeta cheese
  • canned green chilies (Home roasted would be even better!)
  • oregano
  • cumin

Preheat oven to 350º F. Fry hamburger meat with salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and cumin to flavor. Drain grease off if needed and add taco seasoning to taste. Take a flour tortilla, sprinkle a handful of cheese across it, and place a scoop of taco meat in the center. Wrap up like you would a burrito, making fairly flat and rectangular-shaped. Brush melted butter generously over both sides of chimi and place seam-side-down on a cookie sheet. Repeat process as many times as desired. Bake until tops of chimichangas are lightly browned and feel crispy, around 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile make a rou out of equal amounts of butter and flour. (How much cheese sauce you want to end up with determines how much you use.) Stir over medium heat until browned and bubbling. Pour in milk and cream as desired until a gravy-like consistency. Add small chunks of velveeta cheese and stir until melted. Taste and add cheese as desired. Spoon in green chilies to taste and flavor with a bit of oregano and cumin.

To serve, dip delightfully-crispy chimichangas in cheese sauce and savor each bite. I like to add a side of Mexican rice or beans to this meal, as well as a simple lettuce salad with Ranch dressing.