Rhonda's A 'Muse'-ing Rambles

Life and Times of a Busy Woman

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Reviving the Muse

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on June 1, 2016

I’m trying to wake my Muse up and will attempt to revive this poor old blog. I don’t even know my password to get into WordPress, but somehow my computer had it stored. First page I’m going to add is about health issues, but it may stay as a private place for me. The others I look forward to eagerly continuing my early journeys – reviewing books, adding stories to and from my memoir, teaching gun stuff, my family, my garden and more! Stay tuned world, I think I’m back!


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If Trees Give you Peaches – make Pie!

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on July 18, 2011

This is the Peach Pie I made today with my peaches from the orchard. I haven’t gotten much fruit or veggies from the garden this year as we are in a severe drought.

For rain this year [2011] we have gotten first, .01 inch; then .66 inches, then another .30 inches last week followed by a trace we couldn’t measure. Let’s see, my house so far this year has gotten a total of .97 inches – let’s just round it up and say one whole inch! Wow – that’s bad. I think we are about 30 inches behind and nearly everything in my yard is dead – including the grass. We have cracks and holes big enough to swallow dogs and squirrels. This is probably the worst we’ve seen in 15 years, and it follows a bad drought from the prior two years.

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Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on January 3, 2011

This is slightly off my normal post, but I wanted to share a picture with everyone. Often, when my husband or I are off in the woods somewhere, we find interesting pieces of wood. I can’t tell you how many of these make their way home with us because we want to ‘make’ something. My current one is a root that with a little work could look like a deer feeding. It’s cute.

For Christmas this year, my husband took a piece of wood he had found and with a little skill and a lot of time, turned it into a beautiful living room table for his brother. The base is made from a huge cedar root. In addition to the two cedar root ‘legs’, there is a third piece that he turned into a companion plant stand, but I didn’t get a picture. This table is a slab of Black Walnut and it is just as interesting on the bottom [with more bark showing underneath] as it is on the top.

Now, if only he [my husband] could do this kind of work all the time and get paid for it!

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Meet Author CJ West

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on May 31, 2010

Find The End Of Marking Time on Amazon
June 10th.

Go straight to your RSVP on the launch party event page.

Make your choice on the Facebook Group I pressed the Red/Green button.

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An Herbal Insect Repellant

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on May 16, 2010

My Cat Mint Plants

Alarmingly, many people still use massive quantities of toxic chemicals to ward off bugs. Sometimes, maybe, chemicals do have their place – but on MY skin – or my children? I don’t think so. There are many differnt herbs that are easy to grow that can help you with this problem. Grab a basil leaf as you walk through the garden and rub it on [I particularly love the smell of lemon basil]. It doesn’t deter bees – they love it too, but will deter gnats, no-see-ums & mosquitos.

But by far one of the best unknowns you can try is the Catnip, or cat mint plant. It has many useful traits, including settling your stomach & a mild sleep aid [great for cranky kids!]. One of it’s best uses, however, is as a flying insect repellant – mainly mosquitos. The oil is the best part but takes some good time & work to accumulate. An easy, quick spray can be made by boiling two cups of water, turn off the heat and let the bubbles from the boil stop, then add about 2 oz of fresh leaves – or if you are counting them – about 20 leaves. Let leaves steep [never boil catmint as it loses its beneficial properties] as the water cools, strain the leaves out and poor into a clean, sterile spray bottle. You can also mix 1 oz of rubbing alcohol with a cup of solution. Use liberally and spray on exposed skin; be careful not to spray around the eye or mouth area, especially if you have added alcohol. The straight solution, sans additives, is generally not harmful if swallowed, but alway keep everything away from the eyes.

Oh, those leaves you strained out? They can be useful to place on the eyelids as a relaxant or on small scrapes and cuts, insect bites, etc to reduce itching and provide temporary relief.

Cat Mint plants are easy to grow and return year after year. If you don’t use them – you will actually have to cut them back and tame them. If you have cats, your own or a neighbors, it is best to plant them from seeds so that they can be firmly growing and not draw any felines. If you transplant them or buy them as seedlings, you may have a battle on your hands as the cats are truly drawn to this.

For love and opposite sex attraction, some say that drinking cat mint tea or rubbing a few sprigs on some of your hot spots [wrist, neck] could draw out that Leo that you have your eyes on. [I’ll let you decide if I am kidding here or not]

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On the Air!

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on January 5, 2010

Be sure and check out this Podcast – you can listen on the phone, download to your computer, iPod or even to an MP-3 player.
Story Circle SCN podcast: Karen Ballinger interviews Rhonda Esakov, the “Tax Lady”: tax tips for writers & much more. http://bit.ly/8XtkEz

Don’t forget, the Story Cicle Network conference for Women Writers is only a month away – first weekend in Feb 2010. Come for the whole weekend or just drop by for a part.

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Mosquito spray

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on June 2, 2009

Tested out my Mosquito spray tonite. They have been riding in on the dogs so I thought I would try a little garlic spray on their coats to see if it would work. After I sprayed them, on a hunch, I sprayed my own arms and legs as well. We walked out at sunset and it worked just fine. The mosquitos flew around me but didn’t land. I don’t know if it works for very long, but it worked fine this evening. We’ll see how the long term goes. To make my garlic spray, I simply took one clove of garlic, cut into quarters and pressed through the garlic press. Then I microwaved the pulp with a cup of water for 4 minutes. I let this cool and strained into a spray bottle. Knock wood, it works fine.

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Memories of Mom

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on May 28, 2009

Making Do by Rhonda Esakov

In many of my writings, recipes and so on, I noticed a trend when I mentioned my mother or my grandmother, their comments and how they ‘handled’ things. Whether it was a lean year with no money, a foreign location or just a drop of the hat moment, mom taught me one of the most valuable lessons in my life without even knowing she was teaching or without me even knowing I was learnin’. That is the art of ‘making do’.

I think the first time I really noticed this was during our first stay in a foreign country. Subconsciously, I wrote about this in my memoirs. Later, I wrote it in short stories. I write it in recipes that I am trying out or sending to a friend. If there is not the exact right ingredient to put into a recipe, I always know what to ‘make do’ with. If I don’t have a gift to give someone, there is always something around that I can throw together and ‘make do’ with [a centerpiece, a sewn object]. If I don’t have the right first aid, there is something on hand to ‘make do’ with. If I don’t have a new dress to wear – yep – I can cobble something to ‘make do’.

I’ll share one of my sad memories of how I had to pass on ‘the make do principle’ to a young relative of mine. Out of the blue, I got a phone call from one of the young children of a relative. She was crying on the phone about nobody home [she was about 9-10 and watching her 2 years younger sister] and there was NOTHING to eat in the house. They weren’t very close by or I would have rushed over and fed them AND stayed in the house with them until a ‘responsible’ adult came home. But here’s what I did. While the little girl dragged the phone cord [what’s cordless??] around the kitchen, I had her look in the pantry, the cabinet and the ‘fridge. There really wasn’t much to be found. But what I have her find was this: ketchup, crackers, butter and spices. They needed something hot in their bellies but also, they were little and there is also the need for taste without yuck. While still on the phone, I talked her into boiling water and taught her how to make ‘ketchup soup’ with a few spices thrown in. These kids loved ketchup, so the idea wasn’t as nauseating to her as it was to me. I had seen her and her sister dip fries into ketchup, all the way to their knuckles, put it in their mouth, suck off the ketchup without taking a bite and then do a double dip. Ick!!! Anyway, while I had her warming the ‘soup’ slowly, I had her take a fork and mash some butter, add some cinnamon and sugar, then spread it on some crackers. I told her not to cover all the crackers, but only half of them. They sat down to a warm meal of Aunt Rhonda’s Okay soup and crackers for dipping and then had the delight of cinnamon crackers to top off the meal. I told her she couldn’t and could not let her sister eat any of the cinnamon crackers until after they each had a half bowl of soup. They ate it all and learned a valuable lesson – not making do, exactly, but to learn that some people are dependable and will help them in their most desperate moments.

So now, when I need to clean a nasty spot and don’t have any fancy store bought stuff, I make do. If I’m cooking – I have become a genius sometimes at substituting [another fancy word for making do]. I can make a rug out of plastic bags, a pair of breezy slouch pants from a sheet or a pillow case out of a shirt, rouge out of lipstick, a serving tray out of cardboard and pretty paper or foil, a centerpiece out of my endless supply of emergency candles and a little greenery from the yard and scraps of material, a baking pan of foil and more. I simply don’t often panic and rush out to a store when I need something quick or don’t have a vital piece. Like my mother inadvertently taught me, I have learned the art of ‘make do’ and hope if ever I pass anything on to my child, that it is to have faith and make do.

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Wild Sorrow Debut

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on January 25, 2009

Watch for the release of Wild Sorrow, Sandi Ault’s newest book in the Wild series.wswebbannervertical

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Gingerbread People

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on December 13, 2008

What makes these cookies special more than anything is to find a cookie cutter that expresses who you are. If you are an animal lover, get some animal forms. Make those gingerbread people dress and look like the people you love and admire. They take a lot of work and a lot of time, but are so worth the effort.





Rhonda’s Gingerbread Characters


Don’t heat that oven yet or grease a cookie sheet! You won’t bake these for hours, or even days.




½ cup shortening (like Crisco – not oil)

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup molasses (you can substitute honey in a pinch)

2 Tablespoons Vinegar

5 cups all purpose flour

1 and ½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves


Cream shortening, butter & sugars. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.

Sift together in separate bowl the dry ingredients. Blend with the wet mixture slowly until well mixed. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Half can be frozen for later use)


When you are ready to tackle the cooking part (at least 3 hours later); preheat the over to 375 degrees. Roll dough to 1/8 inch on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes and place at least 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheets. (If you place the boys and girls too close together, they tend to reach out and hold hands while baking and the airplanes like to crash into the balloons). Bake for 5-6 minutes. These are very soft cookies, but easy to handle when cool. If you like a crisper cookie, add a couple minutes baking time. Cool slightly and remove from cookie sheet onto parchment paper or whatever surface you have prepared. Don’t decorate until completely cooled.


For decorations – go wild. You can buy over the counter frosting in a can or make your own. (Personally I like to make mine with butter, powdered sugar and vanilla with a few drops of cream to get the right consistency) Allow yourself plenty of frosting so that you can use various shades of food coloring to make different ‘clothes’ and other decorations. Plain white works just as well. I usually have several bowls handy with assorted M&M’s, crushed candy cane, dried blueberries and cranberries, candy corn, red hots, Skittles and more. For fine detail, I use some old syringes that you would use to give liquid medicine. Practice first if you are not used to fine details. Sometimes I just cover the whole cookie in white and stick things on it to make a pattern.

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