Where has the time gone?

Hello and greetings from a weird Spring in the Midwest. Only in Wisconsin can you consider turning on the furnace and the AC all in the same week. This past week we had threats of frost, followed by crazy thunderstorms and are now in 80+ degrees with extreme humidity…and mosquitoes are out in force already.

All that aside, the garden is thriving and flourishing like you wouldn’t believe. We thought we had made a very grave mistake by planting so early in May, given the out of the ordinary cool temps. But by some strange fate, the plants are growing by leaps and bounds.

I took some pictures 3 weeks ago and it wasn’t until I compared to pics I snapped this week that I got a full understanding of how well everything is going.

Here is the tomato box/cut flower box a few weeks ago:IMG_2629 And here is it now…some of the plants are actually past our knee already. Plants in the front of picture were started from seeds in March…woo hoo!!


Here are the beans a few weeks ago (don’t cha just love those Obelisks the kiddos and I built?)


And here are the beans all crazy high:


The onion and garlic box are just overflowing with bounty and we find ourselves putting chives and scallions on just about everything these days.

See that little yellow tractor down in front? That is just the bees knees! We can set up the hose in whatever pattern we need the water to go and the ‘rain train‘ follows along and keeps the water down near the roots.


Remember those chairs that needed painting? Well, the boy and I got that done this past weekend and they look awesome! (can you spot the hen taking a bath?)


And the deck isn’t looking so bad either. I even sewed new chair cushions this year…complete with zippers and everything (my first foray into zipper land wasn’t nearly as scary as I had thought it would be…ahem…thanks mostly to my very own zipper spirit guide)


We also ushered the boy into double digits….(how did THAT happen?!)


And found ourselves with a nephew for the weekend




It turns out, the BEST JOB you can give two young boys is fishing out 1000 worms so you can reap your first harvest of worm castings. Is there an easier way to do this? Yup…but they declared it the best job EVER!


We’ve even had a few rousing games of horse shoes


All in all…this is shaping up to be one whiz bang summer!

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Girl Power

Greetings from a perfect Saturday afternoon…..

I woke up this morning with a spring in my step and was driven to complete one of our many many yard projects.

You know it is going to be an interesting day when by 10 am I had already been to the hardware store three times……Sigh…..

The hubby has a big big cooking class that he is getting ready for so I knew I had to tap into the kiddo resources to get the project done.  The boy was off doing his own thing so it was time for some GIRL POWER.

I called the girl at least 72 times before I got home so she could have all of the tools out and waiting and finally we got started.

We have wanted to fence in our garden a bit differently as our current setup, while very effective at keeping out the chickens, made weeding/planting absolute back breaking work.


The girl was an awesome partner. We broke out the maul, some power tools and donned our new leather work gloves.

By lunchtime…we were done!

nadia fence

And now we can garden a bit easier…..

fenceLet the garden season begin already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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It’s Pronounced Sewarro

Greetings as the Wolowikranch has returned from what can only be called the most needed and wonderful vacation we have had in a long time. Poor hubby had to remain in WI to cook food for the people….ah but 3/4 of us flew the coop to the land of sunshine and warmth…otherwise know as lovely Arizona.

Go get a cup of coffee (or a beer….no judgement here) and join me for an epic post with lots and lots of pictures.

Travel days are now known as ‘hurry up and wait days’. The poor boy was so darn excited to get there and would just get so deflated when he realized how much time is takes to actually arriving into Arizona.



However, once we did finally get there…oh Arizona..you truly don’t disappoint. It has been so long since we have seen the sun and felt it’s warmth on our faces that we just wanted to run around in it a bit.

My parents (southern WI G&G) now call themselves snowbirds and as soon as the cars pull out from Christmas, they are packing their bags for sunny AZ. They reside in a lovely community called Fountain Hills, so of course  our first stop was to the famous fountain.


It is truly beautiful….but all of us were really really really wanting to hop in the pool.


The boy would quite possibly swim every day of his life if he could manage it.

The next morning we went out for a nice relaxing breakfast before a full day of pool floating.

This was our view from our outdoors table at breakfast.

In case it is hard to tell….those are mountains and Saguaro (yes, pronounced Sawarro) cactus. We don’t see many of those in WI and I just can’t tell you how incredibly lovely the views are wherever you go in AZ. I just never got tired of seeing those huge cactus…they are just so very cool!


And then back to the pool…where this is all you see while floating……

Ahhhhh Arizona


Wednesday we took a bit of a drive up to Sedona. Before we had left on the trip, when I mentioned that we were headed to AZ almost everyone I spoke with asked me if we were going to Sedona. After the 4th time, I began to ask why they wanted us to go there. “Oh Sedona is just beautiful, you will love it.” Oh my, were they ever right.

The drive from Phoenix to Sedona takes you through quite a change in scenery. You start at 1,100 feet and climb to 4,500 feet in a 2 hour drive. Somewhere along the way, the plant life shifts and the mountains start to look different.

This is at a rest stop about half way there



The Saguaros do not grow in high elevation and the air temps start to go down. We left 90 degree Phoenix and arrived in sunny 75 degree Sedona…



OMG just look at that picture. It is my favorite…just so glorious!

After a quick lunch we headed over to the famous Pink Jeep tours.


Oh my, what an experience. We all cannot express how incredibly bumpy the ride was.

Bumpy in a very very fun way….


The size rocks we went over was just amazing and boy did we laugh. (OK most everyone laughed at me since I was in the bumpiest spot and apparently resembled a lifesized bobble head)

Oh but the views…the views were just so spectacular

Ahhh Arizona……..


It was really a unbelievable way to spend an afternoon.

We returned that evening exhausted but oh so thrilled with our day.

After a good night’s rest it was time for the kiddos to try their hand at horse back riding…a first for both (if you don’t count the kind that go round and round and the zoo…which we don’t)


Here is the view of where they got to ride the trails:

Ahhhh Arizona……


I mean come on…what an experience!



These cowboys were the real deal and they didn’t take any guff from no city slickers. (One did tell the boy to ride ‘er like you stole ‘er)

Upon return the boy hopped off his horse and declared he was coming back again the next day. Needless to say…they both loved every minute of it.

The 90 minutes they were gone gave Papa and me enough time to go fishing in one of his favorite spots. (lots of fishing….zero catching….but gosh the view is lovely)


And once we picked up the kids we brought them back so they could do some swimming.

I mean when do you get to swim next to a cactus in WI?


And then we had a lovely picnic


And then we rounded out the day by returning to the pool. Yes…time for relaxation was the name of the game!


The next day we had a fairly lazy morning and then we went out to a place for what I can only describe as one of the coolest places I have been.

It felt like it was kind of an after thought…like “oh, we’re going here to dinner so let’s stop at the bell place.” “The bell place” doesn’t even begin to describe how awesome this place is.

The studio is called Soleri and you can read all about the artist Paolo here. (Seriously…read about him…he is amazing) In a nutshell the man was a true visionary. Not only with his craft of making bells, but with his ideas pertaining to society and community. Needless to say, Arcosanti is on the top of the list for our next trip.











There is not a good way to describe this place other than Soleri built all of these structures on a plot of land nestled right in a neighborhood. Art students come up to learn the metal and ceramic techniques that Soleri devised and his bells hand everywhere for you to seek and find your favorite. The boy picked out ours and it hangs now on our beloved deck as a reminder of this great place.

That night we headed into Old Scottsdale for some yummy authentic mexican and then we went bumming


Our final weekend can be described in 2 words…cousins and swimming!

The California cousins drove in (well..their parents too) and we spent the weekend swimming and enjoying Easter.


Palm trees sure offer some great hiding places


And at 9 and 11…the thrill of the hunt has not diminished even a tiny bit



Ahhhhh Arizona….how we love thee. Thanks for showing us all your glory…and for leaving still plenty to do next time!

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Our 15 Minutes

So last year I did a post about our family’s involvement volunteering with Meals on Wheels..and little did I know that would be our most popular blog post.

So imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago I received a call from Independent Living asking if our family would be interested in sharing our experience on a radio program.

Wow! Were we interested!

The kiddos and I headed over to Midwest Family Broadcast Station where we met with the Independent Living volunteer coordinator as well as the host of the radio program, Carol Koby. The focus of the show was on senior nutrition and Meals on Wheels March for Meals campaign.


We had a great time and the kids really stole the show.

In case you missed us on All About Living on AM 1550 last week Saturday, click here to the program, and then click on the skinny gray box below the picture of the two chefs. Our segment starts about 30 minutes in.


Thanks to Carol for being the most gracious and lovely host. What a wonderful experience!

Stay tuned as we take the Wolowikranch on the road…next week we report from a much warmer climate!

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Things that make a childhood

I think every family has one month a year that seems to house the most birthdays. Our family’s is March. While no one on the Ranch has a bday in March, our extended family has taken over the month and one must try and stay one step ahead with getting gifts and cards in the mail.

This past weekend we tried something a bit different. We hosted just one of our nephews, E, who turned the big 7 last week. We decided that maybe if we channel all our energy into just one kiddo, perhaps we will fair better…and not be soooo exhausted on Sunday.

Well, we got 50% of that at least…..we were all exhaustamundo last night…but what a fantastic weekend we had!

Our kiddos and E had no school on Friday so we picked him up a day early to get the party started. The hubby took first shift and he and the boys tried to go ice fishing, but alas it was a pretty big jump from shore to ice as the edges are all thawed. So…off they went to the playground and the library.

That night was special bday dinner number one followed by a movie selected by E. (Night at the Museum 3….was just ok…but we did get to see the return of Matthew Crowley from Downton…as Sir Lancelot…which was weird…and unsettling…that this was the movie he made a debut it)

Saturday was another lovely day so off the boys went in search of ice fishing….

….and home they came empty handed…though at least they did get out on the ice and give it a valiant effort.

Then it was Auntie’s turn…so off we went to downtown Madison where there was lots going on. (Can you tell I am the one that remembers to take the pictures??)

We had to park and walk and I really had the kiddos guessing where we were headed. Upon realizing it was the Children’s Museum, I thought the boy was going to have a coronary. He was whooping and shouting and just so darn excited. He then proceeded to tell his cousin that the Children’s Museum is one of the ‘greatest things that made up his childhood’. Oh man, I had no idea so I was glad I picked the jackpot of places to go.

I did explain to E that we had taken he and his brother several years ago and did he remember? He replied, ‘No Auntie, I don’t have a very good memory from when I was little’. Oh they were just so funny.

Here are the 3 kiddos in 2011:


And here they are in 2015:


Apparently we need to stop feeding these kids….


Oh we had a good time indeed. Then we decided to walk up to the square to see what fun things we could find. Upon hitting the corner, the boy declared that he knew exactly where we were and could we go to the Veteran’s Museum which was just a short walk away. “Mom, it’s free and it is sooooo cool!” (He had just been on a field trip with school). Far be it from me to say no so off we went.


Here is what I can tell you….the boy remembers EVERY SINGLE THING the tour guide told them on the trip. EVERY-SINGLE-THING! So boy did WE get quite the tour from him. I cannot explain how excited he was…particularly that everything he showed us was “REAL!!!”  MOM……that cannon over there…It’s REAL! (He would EXCLAIM!)


Nothing, however, could prepare us for his ‘absolute favorite room…I mean mom this is why I love Madison….you just can’t believe what is in here!’ (At which point a few strangers also followed us to see what all the hubub was about) It was this:


To quote the boy “Mom, that’s a REAL chopper from Vietnam”. I have also now learned that to a 7 year old and 9 year old boy…..a museum dedicated to Veterans is truly the coolest thing EVER!

The last stop was to the downtown Madison library. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the newly re-done library….get on down there. It is just lovely and has so many great things to check out.

I actually got to go check out the garden section while the kids busied themselves with art projects.


Some of us may have contemplated our previous decision that we did not require a nap.


Oh it was a perfect weekend for us to enjoy with a 7 year boy indeed!

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The Buzz

Can you hear it?? That lovely buzz of spring?

We feel it at the Ranch….and it is hard to contain all our ideas without exploding.

The hubby equated it to feeling like we have just woken up from hibernation and I can’t agree more. It has been a long winter but we are realizing surviving winter only helps us appreciate our love of spring. And the boost of energy that comes from seeing that glowing orb in the sky on a regular basis….along with temps higher that 2 are pretty awesome as well. That being said, we have also hit the season of mud. Oh glorious sink your feet 4 inches into the ground mud. I mean our yard is M-U-D-D-Y!!!!!!!!!!!!

This past weekend the girl and I started over 200 seeds. I started conservatively ordering seeds this winter (and boy, is that hard to keep under control) and limited our supply from mainly Seed Savers and Fedco. Both are treasure troves of interesting and enticing heirloom and organic varieties, and they kept this gal’s spirit up during the darkness of winter. Oh the possibilities….

We haven’t started many seeds at the ranch as we just don’t have a good place to do it. Our basement is CHILLY and we would have to invest in some warming pads, but then there is also this very inquisitive cat to contain.

So what got me excited was I brought some geranium plants to winter at my work and they have just done so beautifully…that all of a sudden it hit me! I can start seeds at work!

I pulled in my favorite facilities dude and implored could I please put in a few grow lamps and he was happy to oblige (side note…we seriously have the greatest facilities dude EVER at my work!).

Here is what we look like 5 days in:





It gonna be a GREAT spring!

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These things happen in 3’s

So here is the thing about knitting that is both strange, upsetting, frustrating and wonderful all at the same time.

Knitting is an entire leap of faith.

You have be very trusting as a knitter as well as remain entirely open to the distinct possibility that your time and materials may completely backfire on you….

You have to allow yourself to swear like a sailor ever so often. However when things get out of hand you must heed your mother’s advice and walk away from said project…or put it in the naughty corner for awhile…until the swearing is curbed….and you decide you want to look at that project again.

This leads me to projects 1, 2, and 3….all of which have been very very naughty.

Project #1 started well over a year ago when I found this yarn that I just loved. The color was right, the weight was just perfect for the pattern…..so off I went happily knitting a sweater for myself.

The project went well, and everything seemed great….until I tried it on….and I was swimming in knitted horribleness. It was WAAAAAAAAY too big in the weirdest spot….under my armpits (hmmmmm that isn’t really where I need extra space thank goodness).

So I put the sweater in the blankety blank naughty corner for all of the summer so I could think about what to do.

Then I ripped it all out and started a different sweater……

And about 1/4 of the way in I realized I hated it….

Blankety Blank

So out we ripped again….

Then I started magic number 3….which as luck would have it is my most favorite thing I have knitted this winter and I wear it all the time!


Project number 2 has to deal with felting.

Felting, as a general rule, is not something knitters hope to achieve as many times it happens accidentally….like your favorite sweater  tossed haphazardly into a hot washer and comes out as Barbie wear.

California sissy put in a request for a new pair of slippers for her birthday. I had knit her a pair several years ago which she wore with wild abandon and had happily worn them out. (Believe it or not, this makes knitters very very happy. To hear someone has used something so much until it plum wore out is a sign of love and affection.)

So off I started on these slippers, which are now referred to as those “blasted blankety blank %^$# slippers”.

The premise is you knit these gargantuan slippers and then you wash them in hot water until they magically felt to the correct size.


What actually happened is I used some blankety blank yarn that I received from a co-worker and the top of the slipper felted at a completely different rate than the bottom. The bottom resembled a hotdog, the top was large enough for a yeti.

Blankety blank….

So I started over again

And I proceeded to knit the wrong blankety blank size…so they were still too big. (on the plus side I do now have one slipper done for myself….the down side is I would have to knit another one of these blankety blank slippers and right now I never want to see them again)



I finally knit the right size (kind of…one felted up slightly larger than the other) and handed them off to my sissy. Hopefully it is many many years before I need to re-visit that project again.

So this brings me to project #3…..otherwise known as the blankety blank monstrosity of a prayer shawl.

So first it started with this blanket that I knit for my parents last year. I ran out of blankety blank yarn when I was knitting it, so I had to order more. Then when I was done, I had a ton leftover.

So I decided it was the perfect yarn to knit a prayer shawl as it is very soft and squishy as well as very very washable.

And then I decided I was a pattern writer extraordinaire and threw caution to the wind and casted on my project.

In retrospect this was a very very very bad idea.

I decided I wanted to knit the long ways from end to end for a little something different so I casted on 300 stitches….which was about 150 stitches too many…though I didn’t realize that until yesterday.

When it took me over an hour to get one row done, I should have known this was going to be a mistake of epic proportions.

But alas I just kept at it. Then I changed directions to try and make it better….it just directionally shifted the blankety blankness of it all.

This project has stewed in the naughty corner off and on since July. I finally decided enough was enough I just needed to finish it for our shawl meeting later this month.

And then I ran out of blankety blank yarn AGAIN! So I had to order MORE!

This horrible horrible project came off my needles yesterday and the hubby and I had a good laugh over it…as it is just so weird and long we can’t even believe it. The girl said she liked and and could she have it…but alas it is destined for someone at a shelter. (Please note I have creatively edited the picture so you cannot see why this is so weird, but let’s just say one end of this sucker looks like an arrow with a point…when it should be square)

IMG_0942The law and physics of knitting continue to confound and amaze me.

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