Rescue Dog for the Win

Every farm has a dog (or several), right?  Well, we’re no exception. And since (as far as we know) February is our little dog’s birth month, I couldn’t let the month pass us by without telling Andy’s rescue story.

Now, most farms have medium to large herding breeds which  makes perfect sense since farms usually have farm animals that need to be herded from time to time. But since we’re a farm-in-the-making, a wannabe farm, we don’t have farm animals and thus, have no need for a herding dog – yet.

To be honest, I’ve never been a dog-lover.

Gasp!

I know, right? What’s wrong with me? Well, nothing. Except that I’m a cat person. Ha.

Our little dog, Andy, is only the second dog my husband and I have had in the thirty years we’ve been together.

Our first dog, Jake, was a little dog as well. A Chiweenie to be exact. And he was the best little guy. He passed away, peacefully, at the age of fifteen  on  October 13, 2015, thus, paving the way for our little rescue dog, Andy.

Like I said, I’ve never been much of a dog person, but right after Jake’s passing, I stumbled upon a great Instagram account (@HarlowandSage) who are some of the cutest dogs around!  Being a sucker for all things cute, I “followed” their account and have faithfully oohed and awed over them ever since.

HarlowandSage are great advocates for pet rescue and pet adoption and often share posts about pets who need forever homes.

In October 2016 they shared a post about an eight-month-old puppy at a shelter in southern California  who needed to find a forever home ASAP and they were generously offering to sponsor his adoption if someone was willing to save him. He was scheduled to be euthanized at the end of the week and it was already Tuesday when they found out about him.

Well, Mr. SBF and Girl2 had spent several months hinting that they were ready for another dog (by hinting, I mean mentioning it every single day). So when I saw HarlowandSage’s post on Instagram, my heart lurched. I immediately sent the picture to Mr. SBF and he was on board right away. The only problem was that we live 400 miles away from where Andy was. We  weren’t planning on going to southern California until November and our family members who live in southern California weren’t available at the time to help us spring Andy from the shelter. So I posted our dilemma on HarlowandSage’s post and almost immediately, a wonderful woman (Lisa @InspideredDesigns) volunteered to spring Andy from the shelter and to foster him until we were able to pick him up in November.

When Lisa arrived at the shelter to rescue Andy, they wouldn’t allow her to take him. Apparently, in California, you’re only legally allowed to have a certain number of pets and according to the shelter, Lisa was at the maximum. Very frustrated, Lisa contacted me right away and let me know what was going on.

I went back to HarlowandSage’s post and let everyone know the situation. And once again, immediately, someone volunteered to spring him from the shelter and to foster him until we could pick him up.  On October 13, 2016, exactly one year after our little Jake had passed away, Liz   (@acedeucetrip)   successfully saved Andy from being euthanized.  And on November 13, 2016, we picked Andy up from his foster home with the awesome   AceDeuceTrip trio   and brought him to his forever home here at SagebrushFarmNV.

The shelter had Andy listed as a Chihuahua/Daschund mix. He does resemble those breeds a bit but he also looks like a Miniature Pinscher but with a long tail. After a couple of weeks of observation, I noticed some funny little quirks about him and did some research on Google about them. It turns out that he has all the mannerisms of a Miniature Manchester Terrier (including running like the wind! Man, he’s fast!) Our veterinarian insists he’s more Mini Pinscher though. But whatever he is, he sure is cute.

Andy is a fun-loving, eager-to-please, cat-herding two-year-old now. He loves the snow, hates the rain, and merely tolerates baths. Go figure.

 

He would rather be outside than anywhere else and loves to go camping. Lately, he’s been enjoying going to work with Girl2 (who happens to work at the veterinarian’s office) and seems to be bored on the days he has to stay home with mom.

He is very social and loves to be around other dogs so we are keeping an eye out for the perfect playmate for him. We haven’t found one yet, but we know that when the time is right, the perfect rescue dog will come along and become a rescue dog for the win just like Andy!

Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee Company in Reno NV

Several months ago I stumbled upon Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee Company’s Facebook page. A little intrigued, I decided to Google them and find out a little bit more. After a perusal of the website, I told Mr. SBF that this was definitely a place we should check out soon. But, as so often happens in life, soon turned into, “Oh my goodness, we still haven’t checked out that coffee place.” Ugh.

However, having followed their Facebook page, I’ve been able to keep up to date on what’s happening over at Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee in Reno, NV and when I saw that they had created an event for an upcoming coffee roasting demonstration, I “saved” it and put it on my calendar to attend.

 

On Saturday, Girl2 and I attended their coffee roasting demonstration and we’re so glad we did! In case you didn’t know, we are a coffee-loving family. When Mr. SBF and I first met, he wasn’t crazy about the stuff but he eventually crossed over to the “dark side” (pun intended) and is now as much of a “coffee snob” as the rest of us.

In addition to being coffee lovers, we’re also into attending demonstrations, taking factory tours, and finding out how things are done, so going into the roasting demonstration, we knew we were in for a treat.

Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee Company is located in an industrial area and since they regularly encourage people to stop by for a cup of coffee, Girl2 was skeptical that we were in the right place. But having done my research, I knew we were where we should be.

When we walked in we were warmly greeted by Tim, the owner, and his (only) employee, Myra. Myra was busy brewing their Ethiopian coffee for us to sample.

Since we were the first ones to arrive, we had time to ask some questions and get to know a little bit about them.

Tim had previously been in the restaurant business and was toying with the idea of opening a coffee house. Figuring he should educate himself a little more about the subject, he bought a book about coffee and became intrigued by the roasting process. So, he ordered some coffee beans and late one night after work he decided to roast them on his stove top. With one taste, he knew that he was hooked.

That was in 2001 and he’s been roasting coffee ever since.

What makes Tim’s coffee stand out is the fact that it is roasted in a wood-fired coffee roaster. A wood-fired roaster enhances the coffee bean’s natural flavor profile. I asked Tim how many people in the United States use firewood to roast their beans and his reply was,

“Not very many. Wood-Fire roasted coffee is an Old-World tradition and not very many people do it here in the U.S.”

And he’s right. I didn’t delve very deeply into trying to find other wood-fire coffee roasters but my initial Google search only turned up six results. And Tim’s website was right at the top!

Another thing that I believe makes Tim’s coffee stand out is his roasting process. Though there is a general method to it, Tim has discovered some tricks regarding heat temperature, timing, and flavor development which allow the brewing of his coffee to result in a smooth, low acid, well-rounded cup of coffee. Tim’s coffee has received one of the highest ratings by Coffee Review in a blind tasting.

I mentioned before that when we arrived, Myra was brewing some Ethiopian coffee for us to sample using the pour-over method. She was very precise with her brewing technique, carefully grinding the beans, weighing it, heating the water to a specific temperature and pouring the perfect amount of water over the beans. The results were great. Ethiopian coffee has a bright flavor with a little hint of lemon.

But it wasn’t up to Tim’s standards so he had Myra tweak the grind just a bit and then brew another batch. And oh my goodness, much to our surprise, there was a difference. With just a slight adjustment to the grind, we were able to taste its complete flavor profile with its lemony smoothness!

After the Ethiopian brew, Myra and Tim treated us to the Sumatra coffee. Again, after precise brewing, Myra handed us another cup of delicious coffee. This time we tasted the Sumatra’s cocoa profile with just a hint of smokiness from the firewood. It was, by far, the best Sumatra I’ve ever tasted.

When everyone arrived, Tim began his demonstration by giving us an overview of the general coffee roasting method and then told us how he had discovered certain tricks to making his coffee better than others (besides just using a wood-fired roaster). I could go into the details but his website does a much better job of it and if you’re interested, please visit his site after you’re finished here. My purpose is to tell you how amazing Tim’s Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee is!

Generally, Tim uses oak wood to roast his coffee, but for our demonstration, he chose to use some cherry wood that he had access to. He used a blend of Ethiopian beans and Guatemalan beans to create a smooth, creamy coffee with hints of hazelnut, cocoa nib, and raw sugar. This would make a delicious dessert coffee, but we’ve been drinking it every morning since we bought it! It’s so good!

Mr. SBF wasn’t able to attend the roasting demonstration with us but he got to hear all about it later that evening. The next morning when I brewed him some, his response after his first sip was, “Oh, my. That is smooth!”

As I mentioned before, Tim’s place is located in an industrial area and isn’t your typical coffee house. You won’t find any sugar-laden coffee drinks in his shop. Though Myra prepared our coffee via the pour-over method, they usually serve french-pressed coffee which is equally delicious. His hours are Monday-Friday 9am-2pm, but if you can’t make it to the shop, you can experience his coffee at other places around the Reno area since a large portion of his business is through distribution. Check his website to find his coffee partners. And if you don’t live in northern Nevada but are eager to try some of his coffee, the good news is that his coffee is available on his website and you can even join his   Coffee of the Month Club!

It doesn’t take an expert to brew a good cup of coffee. A good cup of coffee essentially comes from the beans and how they are roasted absolutely makes ALL the difference. We were able to taste excellent coffee that was brewed with great precision, however, when we took it home and brewed it in both our espresso machine and in our french press, the coffee was still fantastic!

Tim recommends that you purchase coffee that prints its roasted date on the label and to make sure to use it within three weeks in order to get the best-tasting coffee. I think we’ll take his advice and buy smaller quantities of freshly roasted coffee from now on.

If you’re a coffee-lover and have a coffee roaster in your community who offers live demonstrations, we recommend that you attend one. It’s not only a great way to experience fabulous coffee, but it’s a great way to support your local business too.

And since I’ve made such a fuss over Tim’s Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee, I thought it would be fun to give away a one pound bag of the Cherry Wood Roast that he created for us!

  • Leave a comment on this article and you will be entered into the drawing for this delicious bag of whole bean coffee!
  • Subscribe to our website and receive a second entry into the drawing!
  • By commenting, you verify that you are at least 14 years of age and that you wish to be entered into the drawing.
  • For entry, comments and subscriptions must be made by 11:59 pm, Saturday, February 24, 2018. Winner will be announced here and on our social media pages on Sunday, February 25, 2018.
  • Follow and/or like our social media pages to make sure you don’t miss the Winner’s Announcement and to easily keep up to date on all that’s happening on the Farm!

 

How to Become an Encourager

Years ago, while I was in the midst of some difficult circumstances, I met a wonderful woman who had committed herself to living her life as an encourager. 

We saw each other once a week at a Women’s Study Group and were occasionally able to have a few moments of private conversation where we would share with each other a little bit about our personal lives. 

Because she had committed herself to the task of intentional encouragement, every week like clockwork, I received a beautiful card in the mail along with a hand-written note of encouragement and assurances that she was thinking of me and that I was not alone.

There are people all around us who are struggling and could really use some encouragement. Sometimes all a person needs is a smile from another person. Other times we’re prompted to become friends with someone who needs encouragement (like my friend did with me). 

Often, we have good intentions that we never follow through on.  If you’re thinking (good) thoughts about someone, let them know.  Send a text message, email, card or note, or pick up the phone and call them. 

No one knows your intentions until you make them known.

My sweet friend didn’t know all of the details of my circumstances, but she intentionally chose to come alongside me to encourage me and to build me up. She chose to invest her time, energy and even her finances into my life. 

Her support and encouragement infused me with hope and helped me to realize that the difficulties I was facing were temporary and that I would be okay. 

Never underestimate the impact of what a kind word or gesture can have on a person.

Her life and example inspired me to intentionally become an encourager as well. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is a sacrifice of time, energy, patience and even finances. But it is rewarding. Not because the person you’re encouraging will give you something in return (because it has absolutely nothing to do with that) but because you feel better for doing it. 

Imagine what could happen if each person would put these simple things into practice and choose to intentionally become an encourager. I think we would change the world.

My friend was intentional about her intentions and it certainly made all the difference in my world and in the lives of my children. Because of my choice to become an intentional encourager, my children have grown into adults who know and show compassion for others. They have actually become unintentional encouragers because it was simply a way of life for them while they were growing up!

In a world where there seems to be more negative than positive, it’s easy to become jaded, guarded and discouraged. But when we choose to become an encourager we create an atmosphere of positivity and the world certainly needs more of that!

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How to Order Flowers Online

In 2010, through a series of interesting events, I was offered a part-time job with our local flower shop.  One of the first things I learned is that a good portion of a flower shop’s business comes from online orders. Given that most of us have the internet always at our fingertips, it makes sense, right? Well, what I didn’t realize at the time was that there are different situations one will encounter when ordering flowers online. This was a quick and necessary lesson for me to learn because it’s information that any good florist should pass along to its customers.

There are three basic online ordering experiences.

The first thing people will encounter when they search for a flower shop online is a list of order gatherers. They’re usually at the top of one’s search results and are often in the form of Ads.

The Ads and websites are professionally done and look like good, legitimate florists. They even use phrases like, “Over twenty years experience in the flower industry,” or, “Taking care of your flower needs since 1923,” or whatever. Now, their claims are probably true. But what they aren’t telling you is that they’re most likely not florists. They are order gatherers.

What an order gatherer does is, well, gather orders, Meaning, you look at their website, see pictures of beautiful bouquets, find one you love, order it and trust that your recipient will receive what you paid for.

But what really happens is that these companies take your order and then call florists in the city or town in which you’re having flowers sent to. They aren’t located in the city or town where your recipient lives.

When they contact your recipient’s local florist, they give the florist the vital information (your recipient’s name, address, phone number, etc.) and then they say something like, “The sender would like a mixed bouquet valued at $100, but we have $75 for you.”

What does that mean? Well, it means that you just paid $100 plus a delivery fee, most likely a handling fee, and sales tax (so around $140) for a bouquet that the order gatherer expects the florist to make and deliver for $75! The $65 difference stays with the order gatherer. Now, these aren’t exact numbers and are used as an example but it is a real scenario.

 

The other types of websites you might encounter are the ones who will ship the flowers to your recipient. These companies are usually actually sending the flowers out but what you may not realize is that these flowers will not be arranged. They will be cut flowers that arrive in a box and usually don’t include a vase.

My daughter once received one of these “bouquets”. When the flowers arrived, she called me and said, “Mom, I have no idea what to do with these!” Her boyfriend had no idea when he ordered them that this would be the case. Poor guy! Luckily, she had a vase and was able to trim the ends and put them in some water. But they certainly didn’t look like the picture that PaleMark had seen online!

Who knew that ordering flowers online would be so convoluted, right?

Well, it doesn’t have to be! Ordering flowers online is pretty simple, actually!

The best way to do it is to type “florist” into your search engine along with your recipient’s postal zip code. In most search engines, the legitimate flower shops will show up on the page either in a list format or with a map layout. You want to scroll past the ones with Ads and any that sound like chain stores. If you aren’t sure about one, click on it and look around. Are the photos stock photos? Does their “about” section feel too corporate, generic or over the top?

Actual flower shops have unique and personal names.

When you see one that sounds real, click on it.  You should be able to see pictures of their own floral designs. There might be stock photos on their website but you will most likely notice that the website has some sort of a personal touch and their “about” pages feel and sound like real people.

When you order direct from a local florist, you’re ensuring that you will actually get what you paid for, you will save yourself some money and you will be supporting a locally owned business!

Now that you know the best way to order flowers online, visit our local florist’s website and take a look at what we do! And yes, the pictures featured here are, indeed, real photos from a real flower shop!

 

 

 

 

 

Over-the-Top Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

With Valentine’s Day being only one week away, I thought I would share our favorite Valentine’s Day treat. These strawberries aren’t your ordinary dipped berries. These are Over-the-Top Chocolate Dipped Strawberries; strawberries taken to the next level; chocolate overload strawberries. Okay, I think you get the picture.

What sends these berries over-the-top is the Chocolate Mousse Filling. My Chocolate Mousse recipe is one of Mr. SBF’s favorite treats and so are Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, so one year I thought to myself, why not combine the two? They turned out to be a hit with everyone at the Farm!

This recipe is for one pound of strawberries but there will most likely be enough mousse to make more. If you wish to make more, simply double the ganache recipe and you should be set for two pounds of berries. But around here no one complains when there’s leftover mousse to snack on!

For the strawberries, begin by washing and drying them. Drying is very important, otherwise, the Chocolate Ganache won’t stick. It will simply slide off of the wet berries and what’s the point of that?

 

 

The second step in the strawberry prep is to hull them deeply. You really want to hollow out the centers but be careful not to go all the way to the bottom.

Then cut off the bottom tip of each berry. Reserve each tip because later they will cap the berries.

For the ganache, place semisweet chocolate, heavy cream and butter in top of double boiler over low heat, stirring until melted. Whisk until smooth.

I’m not in the habit of using my microwave but if I’m in a hurry, I have found that it melts just as well in the microwave. Simply place the chocolate, cream, and butter in a glass bowl and microwave for fifteen seconds at a time, whisking in between intervals until the chocolate is melted. Remove approximately one-third of the chocolate and place into a separate, medium-sized bowl. Set it aside to cool.

Line a flat pan or baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk remaining two-thirds of chocolate until smooth, then dip each strawberry in chocolate. Place each berry on parchment paper then place pan in the refrigerator to set the chocolate.

Whip heavy cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Then add vanilla and powdered sugar. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form.

 

Once stiff peaks form, Gently fold about one-third of whipped cream into the reserved third portion of chocolate. Fold until incorporated. Then fold that batch of mousse into the remaining whipped cream. Folding gently until it is all incorporated together. You now have your chocolate mousse!

Place mousse into a piping bag with whatever decorative tip you choose. Remove strawberries from the refrigerator and pipe mousse into each one. Place a reserved strawberry bottom on the top of each one.

You have now completed your Over-the-Top Chocolate Dipped Strawberries!

 

 

 

 

Print Recipe
Over the Top Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Chocolate Mousse filled, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Course Dessert
Cuisine Sweets
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine Sweets
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Wash & dry strawberries. Hull them deeply but be careful not to go all the way to the bottom. Cut the bottoms off and reserve for later.
  2. Place chocolate, 3T of heavy cream amd 1T butter in the top of a double boiler over low to medium heat until melted whisk until smooth. *option to place ingredients in a small glass bowl and microwave for 15 minute intervals, whisking between each interval until melted.
  3. Place 1/3 of melted chocolate into a medium-sized bowl and allow to cool. Reserve for later.
  4. Line a pan or baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Dip each strawberry into remaining 2/3 of chocolate. Place on parchment lined pan. Once all of the berries are dipped, place pan in refrigerator to allow chocolate to set.
  6. Place 1/2 cup heavy cream in large bowl and whip with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.
  7. Once stiff peaks have formed, remove 1/3 of whipped cream and gently fold into reserved, cooled chocolate. Fold until incorporated and then fold that batch of mousse into the rest of the whipped cream. Gently fold this until incorporated.
  8. Place chocolate mousse into piping bag with small decorative tip.
  9. Remove strawberries from the refrigerator, fill each one with mousse. Place a reserved strawberry bottom on the top of each berry.
  10. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Truth About Blogging

Years ago I had a blog where I shared about my personal life experiences and about my own spiritual journey. It was mostly a way for me to chronicle what I was going through and I thought that I would share it on a blog platform in case anyone was interested in reading it.  Then a few years ago I began toying with the idea of writing a blog as a means of helping to provide for my family, like, to really make some money at it.  Less than two months ago, I took the plunge and launched a self-hosted website (this blog). Today, I’m here to share with you the truth about blogging.

The other day as I was managing my social media accounts, I came across a rant thread where people were “blogger bashing”. As I scrolled, I saw that there were posts about how bloggers are lazy, stupid, irrelevant, etc. and how bloggers and their affiliates should be feeding the homeless and basically solving world problems rather than wasting their time blogging. I laughed out loud and thought to myself, “These people have no idea!”

These types of things don’t bother me. I know that there are people in the world who take pleasure in such behavior and that’s their choice. I didn’t really even give it a second thought until now.

Because now, things are starting to get real. Because now all of the pieces have been put in place and it’s time for me to take the next step. And the truth is, blogging is hard work!

I think a common misperception is that people think all you have to do to become a blogger is to spew out a few words onto some internet platform and sit back and wait for people to respond. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it!

First of all, serious bloggers have a real desire to share with others. Whether it’s personal life experience, advice, useful information, DIY & home decor ideas, fun stories or educational material, bloggers want to get their information out there and to engage their readers.

Writing and presenting this information takes time. Each article or post has to be well thought out, planned, designed and edited. I’ve been known to spend hours on creating just one post. Bloggers aren’t robots churning out information. Bloggers are laborers, hard workers, creators, real people.

Creating engaging content is only a part of what goes into successful blogging.

There is also the website itself. One of the first things a blogger has to decide is what to name their blog, taking into account how it will both represent who they are and what their purpose is and whether or not it will make a good web address. Once the name is chosen, you have to make sure (online) that it’s not already in use by someone else. If it is, you have to choose a different name.

The next decision a blogger has to make is whether to use a free blog host or to create a self-hosted blog. What’s the difference between the two? Well, a free blog host allows you to use their site to host your blog. Thus, your web address will include their name as well as your name. For example, freebloghostname/yourname.com (or .net, etc).

A self-hosted (blog) website is where you purchase a domain (website) name and then use a host provider to make your site available on the internet. For instance, when you type sagebrushfarmnv.com into your search engine, it takes you directly to my site rather than routing you through a host as mentioned above. Also, with a self-hosted site, you have complete control over the design, set up, content, etc. and you own your domain name.

Are you confused yet? It’s a lot of information to take in, and that’s just the beginning!

Once those decisions are made and the domain is activated, the website must be designed. Theme, logo, content, and content placement are just some of the components that go into a website design. Each website is personal yet must consider it’s visitors. I am constantly tweaking things on my website both for my own personal preferences as well as for visitor maneuverability. And since trends are constantly changing, so is the look of my site! It’s a never-ending endeavor.

In the midst of all of this, bloggers must make sure that they have social media accounts and profiles that compliment their website. In order for bloggers to generate income from their business, they have to be active on social media platforms. That is just the nature of the business. And not only must we be active on social media, we must be engaging and interacting with people (followers) consistently. Managing social media accounts is almost a job in itself.

Then after all of these things are in place; an active website with plenty of content posted on it, engaging social media accounts, etc., the blogger has to apply for jobs. What? Yep. We’re just like everyone else.

A blog doesn’t just make money on its own. We have to seek out companies who would be interested in doing business with us, network with companies to get our names out there and generally market ourselves as being a valuable asset to any given company.

And figuring out how to do all of this isn’t easy. In fact, it’s nearly impossible. Luckily, there are people who have been in the blogging business for a long time and have created online courses about how to become a successful blogger. One such course is the 30 Day Blogging Fast Track Course offered by ItsALovelyLife.com. This is the course that I did and let me tell you, without it, I would be lost. The information offered in the course is priceless! Honestly, if I hadn’t taken the course, I would have probably already given up on blogging. Well, maybe not, but I certainly wouldn’t be as far along in my endeavor as I am now! That is for certain.

You might be wondering if it’s all worth it. My resounding answer is, Yes! I am passionate about writing and sharing things with others and I love working from home, so for me, blogging makes sense. Blogging is hard work and there’s an investment of both time and money (just as with any business) but it’s fulfilling and with time and effort, I know that it will be rewarding (lucrative) as well!

Plus, through blogging, I have connected with some really awesome people I wouldn’t have otherwise connected with.

I hope I have provided you with a little insight into what it’s like to be a blogger.  If it’s something you have thought about doing yourself, there is a 5 Day Email Crash Course for blogging which is a great introduction to blogging and it will connect you with a great group of people. It is FREE and there is no “catch” or obligation, just some good information and support.

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you! You may also subscribe to our site and receive monthly newsletters (another aspect of managing a blog!) to keep up to date with all that’s happening on the Farm.