Thoughts on Life, Spring, Food, and Miracles

…and getting locked in bathroom stalls at truck stops. Most times I think it’s great when the doors go clear down to the floor. Gives a person more of a feeling of privacy. But when you get locked inside one and the space down at the bottom is real small, you start rethinking.

Thankfully after awhile I heard someone come in the door so I hollered for help. This kind human actually got the door open from the outside and I barreled out in relief.

Besides that, life has been fairly normal. As normal as this life can be in this uncertain world. We’ve been juggling trucking, farming, shop work, and yard maintenance.

Spring has truly sprung. The days are heating up and lately I have been busy with my hose, digger tools, and flower fertilizer.

Buster has been my right-hand-man, at my elbow with everything I do. When I dig in my flowerbed, he paws furiously beside me and snuffles in the dirt. When I pick up tumbleweeds, he latches onto them; then tries to start a game of tug of war. If we are working in the shop, he is right in the midst of everything, the epitome of curiosity. But all fun and games aside, he is turning out to be a fine gopher dog and catches one every few days!

Trees are greening and blossoming, the lilacs are on the verge, and my bulbs are full on-duty. The lawn is greening, especially now that we started the irrigation system.

I wanted to share a yummy meal idea with you that I came up with the other day. It was born of leftovers and laziness but turned out to be a real keeper.

So I had a leftover baked potato.. the kind where we had rubbed the potatoes with salt, pepper, and butter; wrapped them individually in foil, then baked partially in the oven and finished on the grill. (The electricity went off but we liked the grill effect so well we might do it again, this time on purpose!)

I also had some fried sausage. (Now we like to grind and season our own sausage so I do believe this made it extra good but I bet it would be tasty with Jimmy Dean as well.)

I smashed the baked potato, then layered sausage on top, next scattered on a bit of shredded cheddar cheese, and microwaved until hot. Then I threw some crunchy bacon bits on and drizzled with Ranch dressing. Mmmm mmm mmm.

Miracles.. I believe in them. Some call it all luck but I call them miracles.

So Ross was driving over Snowqualmie Pass this last week and his fuel band broke on the driver’s side fuel tank. Now with a 1,000 pounds of fuel thudding to the asphalt at 70 mph this could have instantly turned into a fiery disaster.

I believe in miracles now even more than before.

Wishing you all a happy Thursday ❤️

A List of my Favorite Books

With everyone at home more these days, what better opportunity to snuggle up on the couch with your favorite plush blanket and a well-written book?

Never mind that there’s always bookwork to catch up with, spring cleaning to tackle, and laundry to fold! Who can resist a stack of unread books?!

Here’s a list of my latest favorites.. I’ve read hundreds of books in my life and most of them were definitely worth re-reading. So it’s hard to select just a few for a list. But here goes!

(These are not in any sort of defining order, I just listed them as I thought of them.)

  • Christy by Catherine Marshall
  • The Spy Wore Red and series by Aline Countess of Romanones
  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
  • Sawdust in his Shoes by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
  • Mrs. Mike by Benedict & Nancy Freedman
  • Any books by Zane Grey, Harold Bell Wright, or Gene Stratton Porter
  • The Black Stallion series
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond
  • Any books by Jim Kjelgaard or Marguerite Henry
  • Mountain of Fire, Flight of the Falcon, Operation Rawhide, Mystery of the Ark – all by Paul Thomsen
  • Gray Matter – David Levy
  • Any books by James Herriot, Nicholas Sparks, or L.M. Montgomery
  • Grandma’s Attic and books by Arleta Richardson
  • Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
  • Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
  • Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark
  • The Everest series by Gordan Korman

There are so many more I could list…perhaps I will save them for another time.

That’s the thing about books.

They let you travel without moving your feet.
-Jhumpa Lahiri

Reading gives us someplace to go,

when we have to stay where we are.
-Mason Cooley

Please drop your favorite titles or authors in the comments. I love hearing about new books that are worth getting 🙂

Quite the Week

It’s been quite a week or two. The days seem to run together and it’s hard to know when one week is starting and the other ending.

There was the day I unknowingly dumped my dad-in-law’s one and only working grease gun into the trash pit along with the rest of the trash out of the shop. And yes, the pit was set afire before we realized what had happened.

There was the day I locked the keys in the pickup at the truck stop which was a good 30 minutes from the emergency set of keys.

Hip There were the 2-3 days my husband and I stayed up all night to get a truck remodel job done so the customer could pick it up on time. Talk about tiredness hitting a person.

There was the 2 AM scenario where we found a lady lying in a ditch, badly hurt and unable to move.

Another unique happenstance that occurred is that I lost my sense of taste/smell. Being the huge foodie that I am, I will admit it is traumatizing to eat what normally tastes so delicious and now not be able to taste a thing. It plumb takes away the desire to eat. Great for a diet plan but entirely inconvenient when trying to cook for others. “How much salt should I add? Does this need more garlic?” Who knows!?

I’ve had a lot of colds/flus in my life but this is the first one to affect my sense of taste so dramatically. Each morning I rush to the refrigerator and taste a bite of the first thing I see, hoping today that it will be back. So far no such luck.

Last but not least, the weather has been predictably unpredictable. Sunshine one minute, the next minute snow is flying. One hour it’s windy, the next we feel the effects of an earthquake not far away.

But there have been blessings among the crazy. I believe there always will be something to be thankful for if we look hard enough.

We are still able to worship God with others on Sunday’s, thanks to current technology.

My chickens are still popping out eggs each day.

It rained enough the other day that I won’t have to start my irrigation system quite yet.

Ross still has loads to haul on the truck. (I am so very thankful for our work these days.)

I have friends and family to talk to anytime I feel the need. Not in person of course but a phone call/text/email often helps lift the spirits.

Stay safe you all and count your blessings! (And if you do happen to lock your keys in your vehicle, make sure you first have removed the sheets and blankets for the truck because it’s not that much fun to sleep on a bare mattress with all your warm clothes on.)

How to Make Homemade Ice Cream

It’s a lot easier than you think. As long as you have a mixer, an ice cream freezer, and some time, you should be good to go. I wish I had pictures to show you how yummy it is but the last time I made it was for my dad’s birthday party and I was a little harried and trying to multi-task. So you’ll just have to take my word for it and make it for yourself. Your taste buds won’t regret it. (Your waistline might, tho!)

And this ice cream recipe I’m about to share with you isn’t just any ice cream. It’s creamy rich ice cream with toasted pecans swirled into its lusciousness.

Homemade Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Here’s a list of what you will need to make your family, friends, and anyone else you feed drool and rave over your dessert.

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (You will want to leave them in large pieces as the ice cream freezer will continue to crush them as it does its thing.)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 9 eggs
  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter flavoring
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups cream
  • 3 cups milk
  • rock salt
  • plenty of ice

Preheat oven to 300º F. Melt butter on a baking sheet in the oven. Add pecans to butter and swirl around until coated. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until well-toasted, stirring every 5 minutes of baking time. Then set aside to cool.

In a large stand mixer, beat sugar and eggs well (4-5 minutes). Add remaining ingredients and beat for another 4-5 minutes. Pour creamy frothy mixture into well-chilled ice cream freezer container.

Set up ice cream freezer as recommended for your specific brand with ice cream container, packing layers of ice and rock salt alternately around it. Turn on when ready and freeze until thick, creamy, and unforgettably wonderful.

This recipe fills my 6-quart ice cream freezer container to the brim!

If you need to make this ahead of time, here’s several suggestions of ways that I use.

  • Leave in ice cream freezer and cover with ice, clear over the lid. Make sure the lid stays sealed tightly though so salty ice doesn’t ruin your dessert!
  • Take ice cream container out of freezer and place in an empty 5-gallon water jug. Pack ice and salt around it. Screw the jug lid on and you now have a portable ice cream freezer. This works well if you are taking homemade ice cream to a picnic, church potluck, or similar event. When ready to serve, you can just open the lids and stick a long-handled spoon in. Your ice cream will stay firm for quite a while.

Enjoy and let me know in the comments if you try it!

A Touch of Cheer

Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in…

Where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
-John Muir

One of the main places I go to feel alive and to calm any fears is the great outdoors.

Something about the fresh air, the wide openness of the sky, and so many little miracles everywhere I look.

Springtime especially thrills me. After a cold dreary winter, what is more comforting than the sight of crocuses pushing through the soil, daffodils blossoming cheerily, and forcythia bushes bursting with color.

Springtime to me is a reminder that beauty follows pain, flowers follow rain, and everything in the world will surely get better.

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a happy week to come!

So God Made A Trucker’s Wife

And on the 10th day, God looked down on the Trucker and said, “It is not good for him to be alone.”

So God made a Trucker’s Wife.

God said, “I need a woman strong enough to stay alone for weeks on end to keep the home fires burning, yet gentle enough to raise her children in a loving way.

I need a woman who loves her truck driver so much she will stay up for hours talking on the phone just to keep him awake as he drives. Yet independent enough that she can enjoy her time alone and fill it with things she loves to do.”

So God made a Trucker’s Wife.

God said, “I need someone who will be creative with food and find new ways to send a homemade meal out on the highway. I need someone who is flexible and willing to change plans at the drop of a hat.

I need someone who will go out on the road with the Trucker. Someone who will navigate, entertain, and support. Someone brave enough to shower in truck stops, cuddly enough to sleep in a small space, and willing to make do with less.”

So God made a Trucker’s Wife.

And God said, “I need someone who can socialize with anyone whether it’s at a truck stop, factory, or cafe. Yet be able to spend hours alone at home because it’s too awkward to go to social functions without a husband.

I need a woman intelligent enough to fix her own lawnmower and to change a tire, yet humble enough to call and ask a neighbor or friend for help.

I need a woman who is kind enough to give up weekend plans because when her truck driver finally comes home, he doesn’t want to go anywhere.”

So God made a Trucker’s Wife.

God said, “I need someone that can put up with a life others can’t understand. To wholeheartedly support her truck driver in his dream.

I need someone who can cry their heart out in the shower, then dry off and face the world like everything’s fine.

Someone who will reach out to other lonely trucker wives. Someone who is understanding, courageous, and loyal. Because no matter how hard it is, she will never give up.”

God bless all you trucker wives out there!!

Written by: Joanie Nikkel 03/2020

Every Single Piece of the Puzzle Is Needed

Just wanted to capture a few of my thoughts from the last while..

It really struck home to me lately (with the world situation as it is) that every person’s job is so important!

Sure, the doctors’ and nurses’ jobs and what they can do is beyond valuable. But could they do what they need to if they didn’t have grocery stores/restaurants to buy food to keep them going?

Could the restaurants/grocery stores keep providing food if it weren’t for the truck drivers who bring it to them?

Could the truck drivers keep bringing the food if it weren’t for the farmers and factories that make this food available to be delivered?

Could the farmers grow the food if it weren’t for the tractor/equipment dealers and seed companies who keep them supplied with the necessary components?

It’s a never-ending chain. And if one or more links are missing, the wonderful pattern of events that makes our world work so smoothly comes to a screeching halt and there is uproar.

I just want to give my thanks to all the working people out there. ❤️ No matter if you are a grocery clerk, a dishwasher, a doctor, a farmer, a road construction worker, or a dental hygienist…or one of the hundreds of other jobs I could mention, you fill an amazing place in the world that so smoothly operates on a normal basis.

Thank you.

Time’s Fun if You’re Having Flies

WAIT, WHAT? I haven’t been having any flies but the time has sure been fun.

Days seem to race past, and before I know it, they turn into weeks. Here’s a short rundown of life down Highway 20.

There’s been trucking. Passing the long hours with a thrilling audiobook. Catching up with the hubs and laughing at our own jokes.

There’s been Parts Runs…I’m the kinda girl that loves running for parts. Something about that feeling of being somewhat knowledgeable, walking up to the Case IH parts counter and announcing, “Yes, I’d like the hydrostat filter for a Hydro 100.” Or stepping up the the desk at Kenworth and rolling off the tongue, “I’ll take a water pump for a 3406 Cat.”

There’s been weeding and pruning going on. Spring is settling in Eastern Oregon. It shows in the daffodils leaping up, the forsythia blossoming, the trees and roses budding out, and the weeds popping up everywhere.

There’s been field work and mechanic-ing at the shop. Greasy jeans to wash and fencerows to burn. Alfalfa fields to harrow and gophers to trap.

But in-between the never-ending work, Ross and I made time for a fun evening. A homemade Escape Room with some of our friends proved to be some enjoyable hours.

There have been breathtaking sunsets, and gorgeous blue skies with fresh spring air rushing into my soul. A sudden thunderstorm with the smell of wet earth rising. There have been long thoughtful walks with Buster. Walks that clear out my head and get my soul back in tune with its Creator.

There have been phone calls and talks with friends. Advice, tips, experiences, and laughs shared.

There have been Charcoal-Grilled Cheeseburgers and Homemade Ice Cream. Which in fact I’d love to share the ice cream recipe with you. (On my next post.)

Last of all, here’s a quote I’ve been inspired with.

Remember that person you wanted to be?

< THERE’S STILL TIME. >

Have a good week!

Creativity

The other day, inspiration hit me at the corner of the Walmart parking lot.

It wasn’t much, just a homeless man standing and holding a cardboard sign.

I assume he was homeless or needy. He looked the part. But on the contrary, his sign didn’t read “Hungry”, “Homeless”, “Needing Work”, or any of the usual slogans.

The letters on the card spelled out, “Dreaming of Tacos”.

That, my friends, struck me as a creative way to let people know he was hungry.

In all ways and all things, be creative 💛

Have a happy Monday!

Trying to be Cool

You know how sometimes, you try to be cool and it really works and everyone is impressed with how elegant or beautiful or cool or amazing you are. Ya me neither.

Here is an instance of how it goes when I try to be cool.

So Ross and I were headed out into the hills delivering a load of brick to a job site. A new venture for us both, and exciting for me as I love going to new places.

We wound our way up a narrow road. As Ross called it, “very squiggly.” We passed through an elite section, mansions tucked back among the trees. White picket fences surrounding beautifully manicured acreages and wealth dripping from the elegant turrets of the houses.

After awhile we arrived at a new subdivision, in the very beginning stages of dirt work and wet cement. We pulled up the narrow boulevard. Ross did a fine job maneuvering between vehicles and stacks of building supplies.

We reached the spot where the loader was waiting to unload us. You know how it is at a brand-new place…you want to make a good impression. You’d like to be efficient, professional, and look good all at the same time.

I hopped out of the truck, pulled on my gloves, and set to work rolling up straps. I imagined the loader guy watching me and thinking, “Man she really knows how to do it!”

Then I felt something in my boot. Something that did not belong there. I discreetly looked down and to my astonishment, there was a long orange apparatus sticking a good 9″ out of the top of my cowboy boot.

One of the nifty sticks you use to seal chip bags with. (It’s something my mom-in-law introduced to us. She found them at a craft show and is sure they are the best things invented after the light bulb.)

I will admit they are quite handy. But not exactly at this moment, and definitely not in my boot. What could I do but yank it out?

I laughed to myself and still to this day, I have no idea how it got in my boot.

This seems to be a lifelong problem with me, clear back when I was 12 or 13. Probably some book I read about graceful princesses had inspired me. I had the hair-brained scheme at a wedding with a couple of my friends to try “floating” down the stairs at the church. I was sure it couldn’t be that hard to move rapidly and so effortlessly down the steps.

Of course, I ended up in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, in my heels and Sunday best. And right then, the door opened and a whole passel of boys came in.

I could tell you many more such instances but I will save them for another time.

So long, and good luck with being cool!