Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | December 25, 2012

My Little Drummer Boy

Just a short post this Christmas morning, and if you are a regular reader of my daughter’s blog, you will already have seen this video.

But, I couldn’t think of a better way of celebrating Christmas than sharing this video of my grandson, Bennett, the Little Drummer Boy.

Click on the link below to see my budding little musician with his present from me ~ Grammy!


Merry Christmas to All!

Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | December 21, 2012

Ushering in the Light

The Winter Solstice in New Mexico…

Taking a short walk to the city park to gather mistletoe, to decorate our Yule Log, hang in our home for peace and love, share with friends, and to sprinkle about in honor of this holiday…

Producing a basket brimming with treats from the kitchen  for friends and co-workers…

Our 2012 Yule Log, and holiday theme cello bags filled with Spicy Hot Crackers to pair with our homemade Elderberry Wine.

Our 2012 Yule Log, and basket of gift bags filled with Spicy Hot Crackers to pair with our homemade Elderberry Wine.

Waking early to greet the sun and soaking in a hot springs pool on the Rio Grande River…

Spending the day reflecting on the ancient meaning of this day ~ letting go and saying farewell to the darkness, and ushering in the light.

For me, this means not only a time of saying farewell to earthly darkness, but also of releasing resentments and regrets into the Yule Fire, and as the fire burns, filling the evening darkness with light…contemplating how I might bring more light, love and goodness into the world.

To that end, I will share the recipe for the simple but tasty Spicy Hot Crackers we whipped up in the kitchen for holiday snacking and gifts. You won’t believe something this simple could be so good, and if you are short on time and need a snack to take to a gathering, take these crackers and a block of cream cheese and you will be a star!


1 box of Saltines ~ Regular or Wheat (Premium brands survive the tumbling process better than value brand crackers)

1 cup canola or light olive oil

1 (1 ounce) package ranch dressing mix

2 TBSP red pepper flakes (I used 1 ½ tsp)

1 TBSP garlic powder (I used 2 tsp)

Place saltines in a large Tupperware container or 2 gallon zipper storage bag.

Mix the oil, ranch dressing mix, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Pour over the crackers and seal your container.

Continuously rotate the container for 15 minutes to make sure all crackers are evenly coated.


Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | December 20, 2012

On Grammys and their Grandsons…Santa and Five Guys Fries

Q. What could be more fun than a visit with Santa?

A. Lunch at Five Guys, of course!

With that in mind, we packed up Bennett one lovely morning during my visit to Virginia, and headed to Yankee Candle, where we were to find a veritable wonderland of holiday fantasy and fun, with bubble snow every four minutes, lighted holiday scenes, an electric train that ran above our heads, and Santa himself presiding over the whole show.

Now, Bennett had been to see this very Santa last Christmas, but he was just a wee lad then. So, we were not sure what he would think of the jolly fat man this year. And, although he was not a big fan, Bennett humored us and sat on his lap without tears, and even let Santa read him a bit of a Christmas story.


Bennett and Santa

After visiting with Santa, we climbed back into the car for the short drive to Five Guys…Bennett’s favorite place for french fries.

Truth be told, though, it’s not the fries that Bennett loves ~ it’s dipping them in little cups of catsup that makes this boy happy.

So, as Mama and I enjoyed our burgers, Bennett happily dipped his fries, and all of us were happy as can be!

Bennett and his mama

Bennett and his Mama


Bennett and his Grammy

Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | December 18, 2012

On Grammy and their Grandsons…Birthdays

There are oh so many special events to celebrate each year in your grandson’s life, that it is difficult (when you are a Grammy from out-of-town), to pick which one(s) to add to your travel itinerary.

Plus, when you are only one of 8 grandparents of this particular grandson, you have to “share the love” and visits with the other doting elders who treasure that little boy just as much as you do.

With that in mind, I decided this year to be the Grammy at Bennett’s 2nd birthday party, held 12/9/12, in honor of his “real” birthday the following Tuesday.

Now, “B” is currently obsessed with all things twig and tree related, with a special interest in the stumps of felled trees, so his mom and dad decided to theme his party with B’s obsession.

To that end, tables were topped with wood-grain wrapping paper and pine cones, and the cake, baked in a stump-shaped cake pan, was decorated with woodland mushrooms crafted from white fondant dusted with cocoa powder.


Wood-grained favor bags held organic snacks and wooden toys, and when guests arrived at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, everything was ready for the festivities to begin.

Parents and kiddos walked over to the playground down the street to work up an appetite and diffuse some of their energy before returning to the house for a tasty breakfast buffet, followed by singing “Happy Birthday”, blowing out candles, and slices of  chocolate “stump cake”.

Mama watches the Birthday Boy enjoying his cake

Mama watches the Birthday Boy enjoying his cake

It truly was a lovely party. The food was excellent, the weather was pleasant, all the children played well together, and the grown-ups enjoyed one another’s company well into the afternoon, until nap time.

Libby and Bennett - note the stick in his hand!

Libby and Bennett – note the stick in his hand!

That evening it was time for Bennett to open his birthday gift from Grammy…wrapped appropriately in woodgrain paper!


We spent the rest of the evening playing with his new wooden train set…four colorful cars, lots of track, a bridge and tunnel. Bennett loved it, and in no time he could tell you which was the engine, hopper car, coal car and caboose.


When it was time to call it a day, we all went happily up to bed, to sleep the content sleep that comes after a busy but happy day.

Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | December 17, 2012

On Grammys and their Grandsons…

Last Saturday night I returned to the desert from a wonderful week among the trees of Virginia at the home of my eldest daughter, her husband, and their son ~ my darling grandson ~ Bennett.

It was a heavenly time spent laughing, reading, playing and snuggling…visiting Santa…celebrating “B’s” 2nd birthday….tree decorating….gift opening….and simply sharing the joy of  family.

As always, it was difficult to say good-bye, but I came home with a big batch of treasured memories in my heart, like looking into Bennett’s sweet face as we shared one last kiss on the cheek, and his saying to me what I had just said to him: “I love you sweetheart”!

Over the next few days I will share some of he highlights from tmy trip, beginning with this family photo taken at Bennett’s birthday party, after playground time, brunch and CAKE!

We were all tired and content. It was a great day.


Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | December 5, 2012

December at The Lake

Although we enjoyed an amazing summer at Elephant Butte Lake on our boat, we are finding that winter boating just might prove to be even better!

In summer, the sun beats down on you, and jumping in the lake provides the only relief you can get.

In winter, you are one of only a few boats out on the water, and if you pick the right day with little wind, and anchor in a cove, you can sit for hours in silence only broken by water bird calls, warming your skin in the welcome winter sun, and taking in the majestic view of the surrounding mountains.

Monday was just such a day for us…a serene afternoon on water as smooth as glass…no fishing, no noise…perfect!

A few days earlier, Keith went out for a “boys’ day at the lake” with some of the guys from the hot springs, and they shot some really good photos of their boats from an “on the water” perspective.

Wish you were here!

Cap’n Keith and his “other love”…the Sunset Ride.

Cap'n Ezy of The Flying Osprey, and his crew.

Cap’n Ezy of The Flying Osprey, and his crew.

Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | December 1, 2012

The Sweater Project

Each year, as the days grow shorter, I find myself in the mood to hunker down indoors and do some sewing.

Now, I will be the first one to admit that although one of my sisters is an accomplished seamstress, the other excels in spinning and knitting, and one of my nieces is a talented fashion designer in Portland…I did not inherit the gene for these particular abilities.

Growing up, while my sisters were turning out lovely garments, I was ripping out my zipper for the fifteenth time, or sewing striped fabric in two different directions – not noticing it until the garment was complete, and unwearable!

So, I don’t really understand why I go back to this “need to sew” in the winter, but nevertheless I do. Perhaps it is a throwback to more primal times when women would sit indoors on cold winter days and fashion clothing for the family.

Last year when the sewing mood struck, I sat myself down and took stock of what I had to work with.

#1 – I live in a camper so there is not much room to set up for sewing. #2 I did not own a sewing machine so all work would have to be done by hand. #3 It is a 1.5 hour drive to the closest fabric store. #4 I operate on a low budget. #5 Although I love to dream up sewing projects, I lack a bit in the follow-through-to- completion category.

After contemplating these issues, it was obvious that I needed to find something to make from locally procured materials that was quick to make, inexpensive and relatively easy.

With all of this in mind, I got online and started searching for inspiration, which I found in a variety of useful things that could be made out of – who would have thought – old wool sweaters that had been felted. So, I thought to myself, EUREKA! All I had to do was go down to the thrift shop and buy some old wool sweaters and I would be in business!

My first trip to the thrift shop was a huge disappointment. The big rack of sweaters yielded just one small cornflower blue wool sweater…all the rest were acrylic or cotton, and not “felt-able”….but at least I could test out the process on this one meager find.

The felting process turned my sweater into a mere shadow of its former self, and I had just enough material to stitch up a winter hat and set of mittens. They turned out pretty well, but the pain in my hands from all that hand sewing brought me to the realization that I was too old to sustain this kind of work for long, (but that wasn’t really a problem since I had run out of sweaters).

When I mentioned the lack of thrift shop wool sweaters in Truth or Consequences to one of my sisters during a phone conversation, she thought that she might be able to help, and for my birthday in March I received the gift of five wonderful wool sweaters which were already felted and ready to go!

Of course, by March, I had switched from “sewing” to “garden” mode, so I set them aside for the time being…but the sweaters kept calling to me.

Periodically I looked online to see what other crafters were doing with their sweaters, and searched for a pattern to follow that would make the process easy ~ to no avail. Of course, there were options out there, but interpreting someone else’s explanation of the process made it seem more difficult than I was sure it would be.

So, one day last month, as the days grew shorter, I decided to set to work, and just pull out a sweater and do some “zen crafting”, by letting the sweater tell me what it would like to become in its next life. I did set some parameters, though, in deciding that I would make “bags”, as I was concerned that a totally open-ended approach could lead to all day-dreaming and zero productivity.

Then, I remembered how sore my hands were last year after just one day of sewing, and I did not want to go through that again. One quick trip to the store later, and I was the proud owner of a brand new, very inexpensive, basic sewing machine that could be easily stashed when not in use…now I was really in business!

Today, after consulting with my five sweaters and spending a minimum amount of time at the sewing machine, I am happy to share the results of my winter “Sweater Project”….none of them is perfect, and not really what I first imagined it would be ~ I learned to work with the material as I went along, but hopefully, what they lack in technique, they make up for in cleverness!

My first attempt...a large, double handled bag with a pocket on the front.

My first attempt…a large, double handled bag with a pocket on the front.


Smaller, striped shoulder bag with black grosgrain ribbon trim on handle and pocket.

Detail of button and ribbon trim on pocket

Detail of button and ribbon trim on pocket

Large, double handled shoulder bag.

Large, double handled shoulder bag.

Hobo bag with woven belt for strap. Metal buckle detail will hold car keys

Hobo bag with front pocket and woven belt for strap. Metal buckle detail will hold car keys


Buckle detail.

Last but not least, a soft shoulder bag with pleats and decorative button.

Last but not least, a soft shoulder bag with pleats and decorative button.

Button detail.

Button detail.

I truly enjoyed working on The Sweater Project, and plan to continue……as soon as I have located some new old sweaters to repurpose!

Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | November 21, 2012

Just the Two of Us

As I’ve mentioned before, life in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, runs on its own time.

For Keith and me, Thanksgiving 2012 is a perfect example.

Tomorrow, on “Calendar Thanksgiving”, we will be welcoming guests at Riverbend Hot Springs from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and squeezing in just enough time for a plate of food from the pot luck on the hot springs patio, at 2 p.m.

So, in order to make sure that we didn’t miss out on a more traditional meal, we decided to cook up our own Thanksgiving dinner today, for just the two of us.

We figured that if retailers could move Black Friday forward to Thanksgiving Day, we were actually serving our meal on “New Thanksgiving Day”!

We fixed turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, accompanied by a glass of Elderberry Wine from the “Me and My Baby Cellars”.


Now that the leftovers have been packed away, and the turkey carcass is simmering on the stove, for broth, we can sit back and relax, and send out our most heartfelt wishes that your Thanksgiving 2012 will be the best ever ~ whenever you may celebrate it!

Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | November 8, 2012

Honoring A Memory

This wooden cross, handmade by the father of a dear friend from Wichita, Kansas, and decorated with a Harley emblem and engraved plaque, lovingly procured by my sisters and their husbands, still sits at the corner of Rock Road and Highway 254 ~ the site of the accident that took the life of my husband, Gary Kroeker ~ to honor the loving, bearded man that so many came to know and love in his lifetime.

It is comforting to know that this simple memorial has survived the sun, rain, wind and snow, for the past six years, as today we mark the anniversary of that tragic time in our lives.

Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | November 4, 2012

Dia de los Muertos

For years I have been fascinated with Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican festival celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, that focuses on remembering friends and family members who have passed on.

To be honest, the remembering part is not what caught my attention about this holiday at first, but rather the bizarre skeletal figures that are an integral part of the celebration.

Keith and I have been hoping for an occasion to try our hands at painting our faces, and when friends, Claudia and Dave, invited us to attend – and provide entertainment for – their Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead in English) Party, we jumped at the opportunity!

After scouring cyberspace for a beginner level design, procuring the necessary black and white face paint, and digging out Keith’s watercolor brushes, we set to work, and after an hour or so of effort, this is what we looked like when we emerged from our camper last Friday night…

The evening was perfectly comfortable, and party guests gathered on the patio for a tasty buffet featuring Dave’s famous Cactus Chili, which totally lived up to it’s name ~ delicious!

Keith and I contributed a basket of  “finger food”…wicked good garlic, parmesan breadsticks we had whipped up that afternoon.

Here is the view of Turtleback Mountain, which provided the backdrop for our meal…

Here are some of the folks who attended…

Our hosts Dave and Claudia…Stevie Ray Vaughn and his groupie

Cousin Ann, Roger, and Ann….their costume was “Dead Guy Ale” for the bar!

Monty and Zoe Ann

Jess and Raven

“Me and My Baby”

We ate and visited until dark, and then headed into the “Rock House”, (an old stone building on the property that has been turned into a casual music venue), for some tunes.

We were joined in the Rock House by Marcus, a budding high school musician who interspersed some Metallica tunes in with our Blast from the Past Oldies Review.

The evening wore slowly to a close, and we headed back home to apply thick layers of cold cream to our faces, and climb into bed for a night of sweet dreams…of loved ones who have gone before, on this special night of Dia de los Muertos.

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