Fall Friday Five

1. What’s your best homemade treat? Is it worth all the effort? (It doesn’t have to be something canned. ) Really anything pumpkin..pumpkin pancakes, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pumkin Streusel Muffins (YUM!!!)

2. At our house, applesauce and football are the harbingers of fall. What are they at your house? Again anything Pumpkin, the return of my fave tv shows, college football; Nebraska football as a matter of fact. GO BIG RED!!!

3. Someone gave me an “automatic” apple peeler from one of those home cooking product shows. (It doesn’t work all that great.) What’s one kitchen contraption or tool you’d gladly trade me for it? Hmmm…I cant think of anything.

4. Whose the best chef in your home? Why? Me since its only me! 😛

5. Cider, apple juice, or hard cider? Discuss.  Actually all of these! Hot Cider on a cold day is fantastic. And I love hard cider. Its usually my drink of choice.

BONUS: Recipes! You know we love ‘em!

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins: (Thanks to my friend Sarah at EveryDayHoly for this recipe several years ago)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the cinnamon streusel topping:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
For the glaze:
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
To make the streusel topping, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add cold butter and toss to coat, using your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, butter, eggs and vanilla.
Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.
Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle with reserved topping, using your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.
Place into oven and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
To make the glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, butter and milk. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar as needed.
When the muffins are done, cool for 10 minutes and drizzle the glaze on each muffin.
Allow glaze to set before serving.

“New” Friday Five

Only afterwards, do we realize that we have “found” something that we like–like a new way to look at something; a new (to me) author; a new song or hymn; a new food. Today share with us something that you like that seemed surprisingly “new” to you sometime in the near past. It could even be a RE-discovery.

Here is a list, but you can choose your own five items you would like to share! Please join us today in playing FF.

1. Author–Hmmm! I love reading. But one of my new favorites is definetely Richard Paul Evans. I recently finished the Walk series and it was so awesome. I love how down-to-earth his characters and stories are.

2. Shampoo– Sebestian Drench. My hairstylist told me about it and it is definetely on the spendier side. I love how well it works on my hair!

3. Food–Thai Food. I didn’t think I would like it but when I lived in F-M, I found out I really LOVED it. I have been missing Thai food. I recently tried a recent here and liked it. But there is  another Thai restaurant here in town I havent tried yet but I have heard great things about it! Cant wait to try it!

4. Activity–Zumba! I love Zumba. But the Curves I attend didnt offer it in the summer months so we are getting going again. I havent been able to go yet but am already looking forward to next week.

5. Music–Old school Jars of Clay! Jars is my fave and I love going back and listening to their early stuff like Love Song for a Savior.

Yet another Random Friday Five

1. If you could sneak away anywhere this weekend, right now, all expenses paid, where would you go and what would you go ? I would go visit my friends that I miss. Or maybe I’d go to my beloved castle; the seminary I attended. I also would love to go spend some time in the Rocky Mountains. Or maybe I’d go to Ireland; a place I dream of visiting some day!

2. What is for lunch today? (one of the very first FF I ever played asked this.) I skipped lunch but snacked on some Totinos pizza rolls.

3. Along that first-FF-I-ever-played theme, what are you wearing today? I’m wearing cute jeans from the Dress Barn, my fave well worn casual Sketcher tennis shoes, a Newsboys tshirt with bright neon colors that says “Your love never fails” and my fave Lutheran Chick sweatshirt. I’m also sporting a newsboys style hat that is blinged out with a cross. It’s gotten chilly here this week in ND.

4. Along the Today Theme, what are you doing today? Just enjoying my day off. Picked out a few recipes from Pinterest and got some shopping done. Now Potato soup cooking in my crockpot. Catching up on my DVR!

5. Along the random theme, what is your favorite scent, and why? I love cinnamon!! Cinnamon candles, cinnamon candy etc. I love Bath and Body Works Juicy pear scent. I really love any scent that makes me smile. Pumpkin, apple cider etc in the fall, peppermint at Christmas time etc.

Oh the Places We Can Go Friday Five!

If someone told you they were coming to your city/state/country for the first time, what five things would you recommend that they be sure to see or do? This might be a city, national park, historic site, restaurant or other attraction. Have at it, and share the link to your blog in the comments below. Be sure to visit and comment on other participants’ efforts today, too. Oh, the places we can go!

Here I am in Western North Dakota! Yes, we have been impacted by the oil boom but ND has and will always hold a special place in my heart. In fact, the name of my blog comes from the prairies of North Dakota. Something so holy about being on the prairies of ND!

North Dakota has the most gorgeous scenery when the fields are been harvested. I am a little biased but the skies of North Dakota are GORGEOUS! The sky as far and as wide as you can see. With all that in mind, I would take you to the Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Medora, ND. The Medora Musical is a gem and is held every summer. ND girl Kat Perkins (who became wellknown on the tv show The Voice) even has made a few appearances this summer. Medora is a quant little tourist town and is so fun. Teddy Roosevelt used to hang out in this area a lot. He loved it there! And if we’re lucky, the buffalo will be out in the park. I’ve been in the park and had to stop because the buffalo were blocking the road.

Medora Musical
(Photo Courtesy Google Images)
Medora Logo
(Photo Courtesy Google Images)

Leaving Medora, we would find our way to the Enchanted Highway. The Enchanted Highway is a highway with the worlds largest scrap metal sculptures constructed at invervals along the way. It really may seem odd but it is fun to see a master artist.

Grasshoppers Delight on ND Enchanted Highway
(Photo Courtesy Google Images)

North Dakota has had some great travelers who have crossed her path. Sakakawea and Lewis and Clark were some of those travelers. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is a great spot to stop especially if you are history buff. You also can see points along the Missouri River where they more than likely camped out on their journey. Imagine the cold etc they experienced as they were traveling.

Inside Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
(Photo Courtesy Google Images)

In all honesty, people don’t give North Dakota credit. There is something so holy about this place. And there is truly things to do here. You can take in a Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks game in the summer. You can go to one of the states zoos. For the size of ND, there really are great zoos…Fargo, Wahpeton, Minot, and Bismarck.

Taken at Roosevelt Park Zoo–September 4, 2014
(Photo copyright Tara L. Ulrich)

North Dakota is truly a great place to be but if I wasnt in North Dakota, I would love to live in Colorado. I have gone to a continuing education event for the last 5 summers. Its held right outside of Estes Park Colorado. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my all-time fave places in the world! I’ve seen God’s handiwork in this place so often! Love Colorado. So perhaps you could take a little road trip and visit both of my fave places…Colorado and North Dakota and check out some other states along the way! 🙂

Sunset at Lily Lake—Rocky Mountain National Park
(Photo Copyright Tara L. Ulrich)



Changes Friday Five

So, for beginnings: Tell us five things that are new in your life, or that you would LIKE to have be new in your life. If that doesn’t work, how about things that you are ready to shed….to make room for new things? Opening your hands to release, to see what God might put into them?

(1) A new church school year; getting ready for Rally Sunday, teaching a Confirmation class, etc

(2) A new season. Summer is quickly coming to a close and soon Fall and Winter will be here. Yes ND winters can be brutal but I love living in a place where we have four distinct seasons.

(3) A new book. Recently finished the book “Sabbath” by Wayne Mueller. (I def recommend this book) Just started Jodi Picoults book “Lone Wolf.”

(4) Soon a new season of new episodes of my fave tv shows

(5) Another year of life. I’ll be celebrating a birthday on Wednesday.

Friday Five; Randomness!

1. True or False: You can wear white shoes after Labor Day*. (Please explain to me why!) Hmmm! I really haven’t paid that close of attention to this fashion trend. But really how many people wear white shoes anymore?

2. If “the dog days” are in August, when are “the cat days”? I guess maybe July.

3. Share a memory from your life of going back to school.
School shopping; new clothes, backpacks, school supplies etc. It was always fun to go shopping in the big city with my mom, dad, and sister. Eating at a nice restaurant and fun shopping!

4. My dad had a rhyme he used to tell us: “I eat my peas with honey; I’ve done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny, but it keeps them on my knife!” What’s the strangest use for honey you’ve ever heard of? Peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I also like honey in my tea.

5. Post a picture from this summer that shows us one of your favorite memories. Oh I have so many fun memories from the summer; time in my fave Colorado, ND state fair fun and lots of outside fun.

Hanging out at Calypso Cascades

Sunset at Lily Lake–Life doesn’t get much better than this!!

BONUS: Summer gardens! Got one? What are you growing? I don’t have a garden but my Grandma does! She supplies me quite well when I go home. I love garden veggies; tomatoes, cucumbers, peas and so much more!!

A Tribute to my Momma #RallyRevGals

There are have been many amazing incredible women who have been a huge part of my faith journey and have influenced me as a leader in the church. There is the campus ministry director at my beloved college. There are the women who I worked with at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp and went off to seminary to become leaders. There are my dear friends; old and new, who have or are daily showing me God’s love. There are those “triple A” adult women who have helped equipped me in my faith. All of these women are amazing blessings in my life, but I always come back to one very special individual; my momma!

Now, my faithful readers, many of you know our story, but for those that are new to this blog, our journey has been one of mental illness. Shortly after my sister was born (I was three years old at the time), my mom had a nervous breakdown. Throughout my life, I haven’t known different, yet my momma is one of the most faith-filled women in my life. She would totally give the shirt of her back for someone in need. She would let everyone else go first in line even if it meant all of her favorites would be gone by the time she got through the line. My mom embodies what it means to live with a servant heart. And my mom has done this even though her life hasn’t been easy at all.

Growing up, Mom was in the hospital quite a bit. Yet she always made sure that my sister and I attended church and Sunday School. Dad often was busy farming, but Mom made sure that our faith was nurtured. Even after my parent’s divorce, she took us to church. Faith had been modeled by her by her parents and now it was important to her to model that faith to her girls. (To this day, I am incredibly thankful for this gift)

Two days after graduating high school, I went to work at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp. It was the first place I truly opened up about my mom’s illness and our journey with mental illness. It truly was a freeing moment for me; to be able to share about this incredible women and her own journey. After working at camp for seven summers, I suddenly was urged by my uncle to attend seminary. I thought he was crazy, but the minute I walked onto that campus, I knew that God wanted me there.

I started at the Castle that next fall. I knew going in that I didn’t want to be an ordained pastor, so I was going to get my master of arts degree in youth ministry. I knew hardly anything about the other rosters; Associates in Ministry, Diaconal Ministers, and Deacons/Deaconesses. But after starting to read the book “Word to Sacrament (The History of the Diaconate)” words started to jump off the page at me. “Bridging church and world,” “Picking up basin and towel” and “Word and Service.”

For me, “Picking up Basin and Towel” was the phrase that literally smacked me upside the face. Here I was a daughter of a women who lives and daily struggles with a mental illness and here were these words proclaiming to me that I could do something about the stigma. I could pick up basin and towel and wash the feet of ALL GOD’S PEOPLE especially those like my momma who daily struggle. Because of my mom’s faith and her ultimate examples of that faith, I knew that this was exactly where God was calling me! Mom’s journey; our journey opened up this door for me to be a leader in the church; a leader who could and would try to embody “diakonia” like my Mom has always taught me.

Mom has her good days and her bad days, yet I know that for her, faith is core to who she is as a child of God. She never lets her illness get in the way, but rather shares her faith daily in her words and actions. I am so very thankful for all she has taught me over my 35 years of life. Thank you momma for being the ultimate example of a Godly woman!

Friday Fivin' It

1. First, take a moment to pray. Gracious God, thank you for all you have created. Thank you for all the ways you provide for us. Guide us as you send us out into the world to be “blessed to be a blessing!” Amen.

2. What is one thing you have been thinking about doing this summer? Well, can you still take an hour/afternoon/day/overnight to still make it happen? I’ve actually done most of the things that I’ve wanted to do. Probably the one thing I haven’t is pool time! I def should make this happen before summer is over!

3. Give a shout-out to someone who has been a blessing/kick in your pants/good friend/joy/a great silliness in your life lately. Oh this one is so easy! I have been incredibly blessed with some amazing friendships. I miss my friends from NWMN. They have blessed me in so many ways. But right now I’m sooo thankful for KW, EG, KG and CT! These women are so incredibly amazing and I’m so thankful for each of them. Love you guys!!!

4. Leaf-blowers or vacuum cleaners? Which is the most annoying sound to you? Hmmm I guess if I have to pick one. I would say leaf-blowers.

5. Is there a song of the summer this year? Last year it was Happy, right? Do you have a song of your summer? Or mix? Or just a great recommendation? There are many! Since my sister and I saw Florida Georgia Line in concert, Cruise would be up on the top of my list. Also any of Brad Paisleys songs since we saw him in concert too!

I usually have my car radio tuned to the Christian stations. My song of the summer has to be “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective Experiment.

BONUS: Share a rambling thought or visual of wisdom, humor, holiness, reality, absurdity or joy.

Holiness—Sun setting over the St Louis arch Feb 2014

What’s In A Name Friday Five!

I haven’t played the FF in awhile but todays is so much fun, I had to play! 🙂

1. Is there a story behind your name? You bet there is! I am named after a soap opera character. Many years ago there was a couple on Days of our Lives called Tara and Chance. So if a girl, it was Tara. And if a boy, Chance Allen! I guess my Grandma didn’t like the name Chance because the kids at school could easily tease me. So good thing I wasn’t a boy! 🙂

2. If you have children, how did you choose his/her/their name(s)? If you don’t have children,   how about a pet? I don’t have children YET! Need God to bring that Mr. Right into my life! As a little girl though, I always thought about what I would name my children. For some reason, I always loved the name Dawn. I dream about my future children and what I might name them. My sister and I had two cats when we were growing up. She named hers Butterfinger after her favorite candy bar. Mine was named Rocky after Rocky Balboa. Our Dad helped me come up with that name! 🙂

3. I named the stand mixer in my kitchen Ethel, and a friend of mine names her plants. Do you ever name household items, and what inspires the names behind them? I really don’t name many things. I have a friend who names her cars and every once in a while I have named my car. There is a stuffed Owl that my friend and her girls gave me when I moved back in November. I call him “Mr. Owl.” So I guess I do name some things! 🙂 And growing up as a farm girl, I have named cows! 😛

4. Do you daydream about what you might name a boat, a novel, a business, or something else that begs for a title? I have always dreamt of starting my own publishing company and it would be called “Majestic Saviour Publishing.”

5. If you were to write under a pseudonym, what might that be, and is there a story behind that name? I think it would have something to do with the Prairie like my blog title. Growing up on the Prairies of ND they hold a special place in my heart and are very holy for me. Hmmm….I’ll have to think about this one for awhile longer!

A Friday the 13th Friday Five

1. Are you superstitious about anything? Like, lucky socks for competition, special necklace for preaching, etc.? Nope I am not really superstitious about anything. I always think of when I was a little girl and we used to not step on the sidewalk cracks cuz it would break your mothers back. I do knock on wood when I dont want certain things to happen.

2. I’m going on vacation on Tuesday. I have never been so ready for vacation. What are you looking forward to? The Lutheran Academy of the Rockies!!! This will be my fourth summer attending this continuing education event that is held in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. I will leave next Sunday June 22nd after worship and will drive half way. The even starts Monday the 23rd and goes through July 3rd. But I am staying through July 4th. Just think it will be fun to spend the 4th in Estes Park.

3. There is a lot going on in sports right now–World Cup, Basketball finals, and much more. If your life were a sport, what would it be, and why? I guess volleyball. I think of the sets and the spikes. I think of the inbounds and outbounds.

4. Hey! Remember orange push-up ice cream treats? What happened to them? What is one of your favorite summer treats? Ice cream sandwich, popsicles, frozen grapes, fruit pizza, DQ Dilly Bar, etc.? I think you can still order push-ups from Schwans. Pretty sure I saw them in their catalog the other day. I love ice cream in the summer. I love the mint dilly bars. I love the new trend of frozen yogurt places. I also love watermelon. I also love fresh grown tomatoes!

5. So there is this thing called “Listserve” that picks one random person per day to write an email to like a million people world-wide. It’s pretty cool. Some people make music suggestions, offer sage advice, or plug their latest interest/project. If you could write a note to a million people around the world, what would you say? “Peace be with you”