Friday, December 31, 2010

Waste not, want not....

My apologies folks, I left my camera at my parents house on Christmas!  I will post pics as soon as I get it back~ooops!!!  This just means you have to come back to see my amazing gifts.  J~

I've got to tell you, this is probably one of my favorite expressions in life...And my kids' least favorite!  But I mean it literally pains me to see things go to waste.  Hence, this years Christmas gifts.  What?  Yes, I took things that were going to go to waste, and I turned them into Christmas gifts for my family and friends.  Hold on with the hillbilly jokes for just a second, they turned out okay!

If you remember, pre-back injury, I worked at the food pantry.  Even at a food pantry there is waste.  Yes, it kills me to admit it, but it is true.  There are berries that get put in a fridge in the basement that get forgotten, or herbs that are just not picked up, or whatever; well, not on my watch.  I would take the stuff home and put it in the freezer, with my daughter/helper moaning all the while.

Well, as part of my post-back surgery physical therapy (boy am I smart) and to get some of my gifts made, I got myself moving by getting these things out of the freezer and seeing what I could make with them.  I had enough berries for six jars of triple berry jam and six jars of blueberry jam.  I made the herbs into a Tarragon vinegar.  But the really fun part about this was that I got to use some of my very special bottle collection...

The bottles under the stairs.... They were a mystery when we first moved in; there were hundreds of them.  Many of them beautiful, all of them old, and they at some point in time had been cleaned and very carefully collected.  Medicine bottles, liquor bottles, round bottles, square get the idea; they were everywhere!  That is when we found out that old Charlie Royal had lost the original Royal Ranch to tax evasion for moonshining!  He built our home in 1955 after that and apparently never lost his urge to collect bottles for his hobby!

So, even ol' Charlie would be smiling down on this years gifts I think; although it may not be moonshine, it hopefully will be just as useful!  But one of the great things about it was that I received gifts like this too.  One of my sisters and her family made us a calendar with all of our important dates on it; chock full of family photos!  My other sisters family made us the yummiest green chile ever; and my parents brought tears to all of our eyes this year with extra touching gifts from the heart.  

We all got pictures of our grandparents from their high school years and then each of us got a touch of the past.  Mine was my birth card, the little girl card that they put on the bassinet in the hospital the day I was born!  And then I also got some beautiful antique Christmas figurines that I have loved since I was a little girl and used to put them out every year; they are from my Dads parents; very special indeed!

It was a wonderful Christmas, and a great way to start off our 2011, not wasting a thing, and really letting those we love know how much they mean to us.  I'd love to hear about your special gifts this year, or how you plan to not be wasteful next year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dear Santa,

Thank you so much for the Christmas card with the money in it!  Tom and I had decided to not buy each other gifts this year so that we could really make the kids' Christmas special.  So, when we got the stack of cards out of the mailbox on Christmas Day (sorry we were a little late, it had been a busy week, but I know you had been watching...) it was like our gift to each other; we split them up and each enjoyed the gifts they brought.

I noticed the North Pole postmark first, and thought it was kind of funny, and then opened up the card and out fell all of that money!!!!!  I'm very sorry, Sir, but you know how banks are, and they don't believe, so when Tom went to cash it...we found out that you bought it in Centennial, and have a bank in Grand Junction....So my dear Santa, we love you dearly, whoever you are....And please know, that we still believe!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Christmas!!!!

I went to look for inspirational quotes for today's blog and I found a great list; one with authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Charles Dickens and Eric Sevareid.  So it is quite funny that the one that really struck my heart was from Andy Rooney!

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don't clean it up too quickly.  ~Andy Rooney

Hope your day is filled with messes (that someone else can clean tomorrow) Ha!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!

Good Morning and Merry Christmas Eve!  Well, I think I have done it!  I am hopefully done with the shopping, the shipping, the baking, and the making.  Ooops, I have the final touches to put on one little project, but it won't take me but a few seconds.  I am hoping to share some of my Christmas projects with you Rebels, but it will have to wait until all the boxes have been opened....

I got a really great e-mail from my husband the other day, and it has stuck in my mind, so I thought I'd share it with you all as a little Christmas gift.  Reportedly, it is by a 90 year old columnist who wrote this list many years ago and it has been so popular she has republished it again and again.  I liked it so much, I didn't even care if the lady was real or not; the stuff is just too true to life!  So here it is in its entirety:

This is something we should all read at least once a week!!  Make sure you read to the end!
Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more":
1.  Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2.  When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3.  Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4.  Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5.  Pay off your credit cards every month.

6.  You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7.  Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8.  It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9.  Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10.  When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11.  Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12.  It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13.  Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14.  If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15.  Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16.  Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17.  Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18.  Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19.  It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20.  When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21.  Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is

22.  Over prepare; then go with the flow.

23.  Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24.  The most important sex organ is the brain.

25.  No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26.  Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'

27.  Always choose life.

28.  Forgive everyone everything.

29.  What other people think of you is none of your business.

30.  Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31.  However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32.  Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33.  Believe in miracles.

34.  God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35.  Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36.  Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37.  Your children get only one childhood.

38.  All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39.  Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40.  If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41.  Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42.  The best is yet to come...

43.  No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44.  Yield.

45.  Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Number 40 is one of my favorites I think!  Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


 Cookie Day 2010

This has been a week of juggling for me.  I had decided that I really want to try to get back to living life as normally as I could, you know try to act as if I didn't just have back surgery.  It has been long enough it feels to me.  But in the process, my beloved blog has fallen a bit behind!

I have been juggling many emotions as well.  See, our community lost one of its teenagers last week; one that I used to teach when he was just a bitty boy at MOPS.  He was a runner and trained by running past our ranch practically daily and he and my dog Gigi had a game; she'd run straight at him barking like the monstrous pit bull she thinks she is, and he'd run straight back at her!  I always worried, and apologized, but he'd just smile as if he too had enjoyed the game.  My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends....

Yesterday was my daughter's Christmas party, and yes, that is what I still call it.  I was the room mother so I was crazy with preparations.  We played Heads Up 7-Up, Christmas Style (filled bags with goodies instead of touching thumbs) and had a great time.  But before the party, my daughter was awarded the SOAR award!  That stands for Scholarly, Organized, Accepting and Respectful because she is an exemplary example of an eagle is what her teacher said at the award ceremony; I almost lost it.  He said that all students should work to be like her because she shows those traits day in and out, no matter who is watching....

I have an old friend who is really going through a rough time right now, don't know if I can help or not.  Could put myself in a pot of you know what if I do, so that's not really an option.  I don't like feeling powerless....

Last weekend was Cookie Day!  Boy, were we productive, but it took me a day or so to recover.  Tom and Isabella delivered all of the beautiful plates to our neighbors on Sunday and lo and behold if we haven't been getting wonderful Christmas surprises left on our porch all week!  It has been so fun!!!!  One morning, I went to the mailbox, pulled out a fistfull of cards, one of which had a $25 gift card and a big package from an old friend.  That very same morning while I was in the shower another neighbor dropped wonderful homemade jams and stuff off for our eating pleasure!  Christmas spirit is alive and well in our neighborhood.....

So, as I said, it has been a week of many ups and downs, and every which ways.  But you all have been in my thoughts, just not on my keyboard.  I would love to hear about your juggling acts this time of season too, believe me, I know I'm not alone out there....'Tis the season!  Here is to hoping your Christmas is a wonderful one and that you spend it with someone you love. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

This one is for you Dad...

We had lunch together yesterday, just my sisters and my parents and I.  Which would have been a very nice thing in itself, but we also had a very touching thing happen as well.  When my Dad was trying to put that into words today he was having a little bit of a hard time, so here you go Dad:

This song goes out to my parents, my sisters, my husband, and to my kids...all of them, born to me and not, they are such special people and they have all chosen their loved ones wisely too!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sometimes all it takes is the clarity of a 17 year old!

Every marriage has their pet peeves.  You know the kind of thing that your partner does that drives you up the freaking wall.  Like leaving the cap off of the tooth paste or leaving the lid up on the toilet; something along those lines.  Well for me, one of those things was Tom driving up to do the barn chores.  I mean he'd go out and start his truck, and let it idle to warm up, and then drive it up to the barn, and if it's cold, it idles while he does the chores and then he drives back down to the house.

Now, I don't know if you've spotted the title of this blog or not, but being "green" is something that is pretty close to my heart; so him driving back and forth to the damn barn was driving me flipping nuts!  Especially since he has been having to do it on a more regular basis with helping me out since my back surgery; which really doesn't make a lick of sense.  You'd think I would just be so happy for the help, it wouldn't bother me.  But NO!

I'm a little embarrassed to say that my 17 year old son caught me mumbling about it the other morning.  I was sitting in front of the fire, working I'm sure, when he came down to visit with me (and to warm up).  But the funniest thing of all, is that he very simply gave me the biggest insight into his Dad's psyche that I have had in a long time.  He told me that Tom is just trying to be like the big ranchers where the guys all go antelope hunting.  Bam, simple as that.  I got to thinking about it, and the boy is right.  
These are guys that Tom has the utmost respect for.  They are very conservative land managers, excellent at animal husbandry and huge on family (hey, lucky for me, all stuff I like too!).  And their ranch is big that when they have to do their choring, they go out in their trucks, each with their own dog (that jumps through an open window, no less), and do their chores.  Just like my husband...who hopes to have a great big ranch some day.  So who am I to mess with his pretending?

So now when Tom and Rosie head out to start the truck, I smile instead of grit my teeth.  Rosie may not jump through the window, but we're on our way to our own little dreams, in our own little way, and if we have to pretend a little bit on the way there, then who cares?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sweetened Condensed Milk (Homemade!)

Photo courtesy of

You know that ooey, gooey can of milk that you always have on your shelf for those extra rich baked goods...that is until you need it?  Well, I needed mine yesterday, and lo and behold, my son donated it to the canned food drive.  So what is a savvy baker to do?  Google it of course.  And I came up with a great second choice because I always have powdered milk on hand, doesn't everybody?

So here goes, it's easier than pie...

1/2 cup hot water
1 T. butter
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup sugar

Place all ingredients in blender and mix well.  I must admit, that I thought I could get away with saving myself from washing the blender and just mixing this by hand.  Big mistake.  I had lumps and an exhausted arm, so use the blender and then this can be stored in an airtight container in your fridge or freezer.  By the by, my lumps baked out perfectly in the toffee chip bars that I made, so it worked out fine, but it still would have been worth washing the darn blender!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Here's to you Mom...

Wanted to post a Christmas Carol; and found this one and realized why he used to make all the ladies SWOON!

I'll be busy baking today, and listening to my new CD that my sister gave me, it's beautiful Christmas piano music, it will really inspire me I'm sure.  Have a wonderful day...the countdown is on...but remember, home-made, handmade and bartering are all wonderful ways to Christmas shop (and eco-friendly to boot)!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Another Royal Ranch first...

Good Friday Morning!  Well, I have done it!  The first ever Jeute Family Christmas Letter.  Which really goes to show what a rebel I am because this has been my family's tradition for most of my life.  My parents have sent one out for as long as I can remember; with each of us girls (3 of us) having had our own paragraph to detail the events of the last year.

Well, thanks for the idea Mom and Dad!  As you all know the last couple of years has been filled with many ups and downs, and for some reason it seems that the Holidays have always brought about the downside of the money, time or health "case" (or maybe that is just an excuse) and one of the places I have skimped is with Christmas cards and postage.  But I have come to realize that often times, that simple Christmas card is the only time you might hear from that dear friend, and that holiday cards are truly a meaningful way of staying in touch with the ones you love.

So, what is your holiday tradition?  Do you send photo cards or do the letter?  Is it a personalized card to each person?  Up until this year (okay like I said, I skipped a couple years), I wrote out a card to each person and put a pic in each one.  Times are tough, and people know that; I think the letter, that has four family photos on it, will be great.  In holding with family tradition; I will have each family member sign it in a different color ink like we used to do when I was a kid!  Ho, Ho, Ho!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Perfect Christmas Tree

Being an environmentalist really makes the Christmas Tree debate a personal one for me, especially living right in the middle of the forest and being as passionate about saving trees as I am.  But I know what a HUGE carbon footprint those plastic jobbies leave when they are made and placed in your home.  So where does that leave an environmental steward like me?

We looked high:
And we looked low:

And then we found the most perfect compromise ever!  We took a tree that already needed to be cut down!  This spectacular Colorado Blue Spruce was encroaching on the power lines at The Royal Roost, our "Nest in the Woods" getaway cabin for visitors.
It also was blocking some much needed sunshine from that very same cabin, so we knew it needed to go sooner or later, so I said why not use it for a Christmas Tree and firewood?
So this year, so far, my dreams are coming true.  What is your opinion on the Christmas Tree debate?  What are you doing this year to be green?  Or maybe to save some "Green"?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

 Photo courtesy of Rocky Mt. Llamas & Bobra Goldsmith

Today I will not even try to stop the flow of tears, I really deserve this cry.  I have lost my friend and mentor Bobra Goldsmith.  Three weeks ago she was diagnosed with Leukemia and Friday morning she passed away.  That's that.

Long time readers will recognize the name, because Bobra gave me Thunderboy.  And I have never been so proud of a gift in my whole life, especially now.  Let me give you a little background on my relationship with this amazing woman.  Many years ago, when I first decided to get into llamas I chose to take one of Bobra's training classes.  Now, keep in mind that all of the people in the class were there to train their llamas, and I went to train myself.  Which I think is what really impressed Bobra; she knew that I was taking this seriously and wanted as much information and knowledge about these majestic animals as I could get before I brought one (or ten...) home.

She was then the person who put me in touch with the organic farm that I rescued Marcel and Jasper from; as a matter of fact, back then I didn't even have a trailer yet, so she delivered those boys herself; in a van I might add.  I'll never forget the compliment she gave me that day.  Marcel (my lead llama and also the llama on the cover of my book) was not used to being handled, and had been very difficult for her to catch.  She told me that she never, ever has left a halter on a llama, but was worried that we might not be able to catch him again if she didn't leave it on him for a few days.  She said to me "Judy, I have the utmost faith in you, and I would never do this with anyone else, but you will have this wild boy in shape in no time flat.  Work with him daily to get him calmed down, and get that halter off as soon as possible."  And that is exactly what I did.

Bobra Goldsmith was one of the first people to bring llamas into the state of Colorado.  She worked tirelessly with the Forest Service and her train of pack llamas to keep the forests around Boulder clean and trails maintained.  She even developed her own line of llama equipment and pack gear that is absolutely unrivaled in its usefulness.  And this is all after she was an accomplished professor at CU!  But one of the main things that I really loved about Bobra was her sense of family.  She had suffered the loss of her husband and mother, and cared for her ill step-father until she herself could no longer do so.

I told Tom last night that she was one of those people that you just assumed would never die.  She was old when I met her, and although she had aged, she just was "Bobra".  Even the boys knew how sad I would be...I had gotten the message via a text, and my sweet little daughter quietly made sure her brothers knew that Mommy was sad.  It seems the whole llama community is probably really sad today, we lost a pioneer, a teacher, a volunteer, but most of all a dear friend.  My hat is off to you, Bobra, you were one of a kind!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Shameless Reminder...

Here I have been completely neglectful of my wonderful Rebels (the butter up), and now I come on and post a reminder of what a wonderful gift my book would make (followed up by the snag)!  But, it really would!!!  The reason that it reminded me to post this is that a guy at Tom's shop bought one of my books for his daughters who live in another state.  I of course autographed it for them, and didn't think another thing about it, until yesterday.

Tom came home with a big grin on his face because those very same girls get to come to our property for a Christmas tree...and when their Dad told them they were coming to The Royal Ranch, the very same place they had been reading about in Llucky Llama, they hit the ceiling with excitement!!!!
So, whether you get to pop by the ranch or not, people all over the country are enjoying learning about llamas through Llucky Llama.  It's a wonderful story about love and tolerance and healing...things that this world really needs right now.  Grab one for any of the kids on your list, and I'll autograph and personalize it for you!  (If you order it through me, that is!  $8 + $3 s&h )

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

America's Foreclosure Epidemic

Yes, we have become a part of the horrific statistics.  Blessedly, we were able to pull our beloved ranch out of the horrific twenty five days!  And it still cost us a bloody fortune.  But that is not what prompted me to write this post.  It is the two ladies that have told me of their impending foreclosures in the last week that have prompted me to write this post.  To be honest, I was just going to keep my mouth shut out of embarrassment, really.

But then I got to thinking how this whole thing went down.  And I delivered a load of hay back to a friends house in a sort of "poor" neighborhood in our area, and saw all of the empty houses.  And then my neighbor stopped by to pick up an antler set that she had once given me; she needed it back to decorate and try and sell because her house was being foreclosed upon.  The same house that she had cared for her dying mother in, and that she has about 15 animals in...All for $5,000.

Then I get a call on the RV that we have for sale, due to the foreclosure, of course...who ends up to be a gal that I used to work with at the food pantry.  Her house has already been done, they're out.  See ya.  Well, gee, she's hoping the judge will be real nice and see that she's got a family and twenty years of stuff and let them stay through the holidays.  Then they can go live in an RV somewhere nice, that'll be a great learning environment for three high school boys, I'm sure.

So, these are the reasons I write today.  If I sound a little pissed off, well I am.  I've got to tell you, we were funneled right into this system from the get go.  Those modifications that they offer, be careful (and believe me, I was)...they are almost designed to fail it seems.  I have heard that from almost every single person (including our attorney and the Colorado Foreclosure hotline, unofficially, of course) in the same boat.  And never, ever make partial payments, or payments once you have been put into any legal situation.  You will never see that money again, it goes into a suspension fund, luckily we learned this through friends and did not make that mistake.

I want to give you a quick example so you don't think that I wasn't paying attention like often happens.  A year or so ago when I knew we were getting behind, I did the stand up thing and got us on a modification.  We did all they said, went through the trial period, great... and then one day (perfectly legal, according to the hotline) before our first regular payment was due they told us it was $400 more.  Well, already times were tight, we started off on a bad foot, they add a ridiculous late fee, my back, blah, blah...the story goes down hill from there.

But again, this isn't about just us, what's really breaking my heart is watching my little community waste away, and feeling like there's not a damn thing we can do about it.  I actually caught myself saying to Tom last night "If we owned all of the houses, than the government couldn't."  And as crazy as it sounds, it was the first thing that has made sense to me in a long time.  What the hell does the government want with all of these piece of junk houses that only hold the love of one family, but the value to whom (or none for that matter)?

Is it all to make our trillion dollar debt look that much smaller on paper?  So that they can say they have those assets with a dollar amount that they determine the value of?  I mean it was all a big scam, the way we had to pay off the attorneys.  One day it was one amount, the next day...$520 more.  And Tom had to pay it through a glass box; I guess that is because so many people have gone nutso on the folks, they've learned they're lesson and put up choke proof barriers!

Now I know that we can't go giving everybody free rides...I'm not that much of a bleeding heart.  But most of these people are hard working honest people that have just come across hard times, mostly due to this economic hell hole we are in.  Which no one can really point their fingers at who's fault it is, and to be honest I really don't give a damn anymore; it's time to quit pointing fingers and getting our asses to work saving our neighborhoods.

And I don't really love the idea of the government owning all the homes in my hood, I don't know about you.  I like real estate to determine the value of real estate, not the government, especially since I own quite a bit of real estate in this hood.  But I do have a few thoughts rattling around in this head of mine to try and put a stop to this vicious cycle.  We can't just stand by and watch the neighborhood go to the wolves, so to speak.  At least I can't, or won't.