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Friday, July 24, 2015

LEGO Creativity Tour coming to Iowa in September! Win Tickets!


Do you have a LEGO® fan in your household like I do?  Well then, you don't want to miss out on the LEGO Creativity Tour as it stops in Des Moines, Iowa September 18-20 at the Iowa Events Center.

Big Brick Pile at the LEGO Creativity Tour - Win Tickets for Des Moines, Iowa stop!
Big Brick Pile at the LEGO Creativity Tour

To tell you a little bit about how much I have two little LEGO fans in my house, there are some days walking through our play room I feel like I'm walking in a giant pile of LEGO bricks... This is not a fun experience, but the LEGO Creativity Tour's Big Brick Pile looks like fun and not painful - well maybe!  This is just one of the features that will give your children the opportunity to build, create and immerse themselves in the LEGO experience.

I'm excited to be giving away (2) tickets to the opening night on Friday, September 18th from 5:30-8:30pm.  The winner will be randomly chosen by USFG on Thursday, August 20th and announced on my blog and notified via email.  You must be 18 to enter and are allowed 1 entry per day.  ENTER HERE

I encourage you to also Like and Follow the LEGO Creativity Tour on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram for all the latest ticketing updates.  The LEGO Creativity Tour stops have been selling out, so you should buy tickets in advance online.

Do you have a LEGO fan in your house?  What would your little builder look forward to the most?  The Big Brick Pile?  The Race Ramps?  The Construction Zone?  Others?  Remember to Comment for a Cause and enter the giveaway!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Top Iowa Ice Cream Picks!

Happy National Ice Cream Day!  This just might be my favorite holiday.  I mean, who doesn't like an excuse to eat ice cream!  Every June, in honor of National Dairy Month, my family goes on an Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip.  This is a fun and sweet tradition that not only lets us see new places across the state, but we get to eat great food too.  Through our travels we've had a lot of great ice cream, and through some hard deliberation around a bowl of ice cream, we have selected our top soft serve and hard ice cream in Iowa!  Someone has to do the hard work, and for you Iowa, our family has sacrificed calories to do so. ;)

Top Iowa Soft Serve Ice Cream:  The Whippy Dip in Decorah, Iowa

Top Iowa Soft Serve Ice Cream:  The Whippy Dip in Decorah, Iowa



The Whippy Dip is a seasonal walk-up ice cream stand that serves creamy and rich soft serve ice cream in the heart of Iowa's "Dairy Country" in Northeast Iowa.  This ice cream shop even sources its milk from a local dairy - you wouldn't expect anything less would you?


Top Iowa Soft Serve Ice Cream:  The Whippy Dip in Decorah, Iowa - Cookie Dough Tornado
The Whippy Dip keeps its ice cream simple by offering vanilla or chocolate.  While the ice cream alone is good, our family thinks it is even better by adding some mix-ins and creating a Tornado (think Dairy's Queen's Blizzard - but better!).  Our top recommendation is their Cookie Dough Tornado.  They layer real cookie dough (none of that frozen cookie dough mini-ball stuff - we're talking a slab of real cookie dough you could actually bake into a cookie) in their soft serve and then mix it up.  They then add an extra scoop of cookie dough and mini chocolate chips on top!  Every bite is guaranteed to have cookie dough in it.

Top Iowa Hard Ice Cream:  Heyn's Ice Cream in Iowa City, Iowa


Top Iowa Hard Ice Cream:  Heyn's Ice Cream in Iowa City, Iowa

Heyn's Ice Cream is in the heart of Iowa City.  Their cute Holstein dairy cow decor and over 40 flavors of hard ice cream make for a fun ice cream experience!

Top Iowa Hard Ice Cream:  Heyn's Ice Cream in Iowa City, Iowa - Monster Mash



Their flavors of ice cream offer so much variety and rich flavor, we feel like the best way to eat it is simply served in a cone (or maybe in one of their Dream Cones which are hand dipped and rolled in sprinkles or Butterfinger crumbles).  Our pick, which is also their top seller, is their Monster Mash, a vanilla ice cream with monster cookies mixed in it.





So there you have it!  Our pick's for Iowa's top soft serve and hard ice creams!  Enjoy and celebrate National Ice Cream Day today!  What is your favorite ice cream shop?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Miss Me - But Let Me Go

You may have noticed things have been quiet here on my blog, and on all of my social media accounts for that matter, (and thanks to those of you that sent me private messages to double check things were okay) for the last couple of weeks, but it was all for good reason, my family and I traveled to Alaska to scatter my cousin Jake's ashes.  The trip was amazing!  I can understand why my cousin enjoyed his Make-A-Wish trip 11 years ago to Alaska and ultimately decided that he wanted his ashes scattered there.  Alaska was beautiful, peaceful and it gave me a sense of freedom and rejuvenation.  I feel so honored and privileged to have been able to go to Alaska and to be invited to be apart of my cousin's ash scattering.  I've got a couple Alaska blog posts rattling around in my brain that I'll plan on sharing within the next couple of weeks (but I need to go through my ~400 photos first).  In the meantime, I'd like to share a poem that was included in my cousin's ash scattering.  It meant a lot to me and I hope it means a lot to you.

Miss Me - But Let Me Go, Shrine of St. Therese, Juneau, Alaska
A view from the Shrine of St. Therese, Juneau, Alaska

Miss Me - But Let Me Go
By Edgar A. Guest

When I come to the end of the road
and the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room.
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little - but not too long
and not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared, 
Miss me - but let me go.

For this is a journey that we all must take
and each must go alone.
It's all a part of the Master's plan,
a step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick of heart
go to friends we know
and bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
Miss me - but let me go!

This month my Comments for a Cause are going to Make-A-Wish Kansas City, who granted my cousin's wish 11 years ago, which led him to having one of the best times of his life, and now has given my whole family peace in so many ways.  Our trip really helped things come full circle for me.  So please comment below, or on any post in my blog to go towards my family's monthly donation.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Knee High by the 4th of July

It has become tradition for us to take a Knee High by the 4th of July photo every year.  It is a fun way to document our farm family, as well as our crop progress for the year.  Check out past years - 2014, 20132012.

Knee High by the 4th of July in Iowa

Knee high by the 4th of July is an old farmer saying and benchmark for a good corn crop.  But with improved seed genetics and farming practices, farmers expect their corn to be at least waist high if not head high, like we are seeing this year on our farm in North Iowa.

We had to pull out the selfie stick too and take a photo in the corn!
Me, LP, MP, My Farmer and JP
We hope you all had a great Independence Day!  What was the best part of your day?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Comments for a Cause - Make-A-Wish Kansas City

It is a new month, which means it is time to introduce a new cause!  Before I talk about July's cause, let's talk June numbers.  Last month I had 66 comments, creating a $33.00 donation to Retrieving Freedom.  I had a great time exploring their new Waverly, Iowa facility in June.  If you weren't able to go to their open house last weekend, I encourage you to reach out to them and check out how their new facility doesn't just help with dog training, but the training of the new owners - veterans and autistics, as well as an entire community.

This month is going to be an exciting, yet emotional month for my family.  It has been ten years since my cousin Jake passed away.  And to honor him, in the month of July I will be donating $0.50 for every comment on my blog during the month to the Make-A-Wish Kansas City chapter.

When my cousin Jake was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer when he was in high school my entire family came together to support him and his immediate family.  We also came to know and love groups that came together to support him as well.  One group that made a huge difference to Jake (and in turn our entire family) during his year long battle with cancer, was Make-A-Wish.

Jake on his Alaskan Wish Trip
Jake received an Alaskan fishing trip through the Make-A-Wish Kansas City chapter in July of 2004.  When he came back from his Wish he expressed how much it meant to him.  As time went on during his battle, he always referred back to his time in Alaska and how it was one of the best experiences he had during the last year of his life.  He said the trip let him be himself, away from doctors and hospitals.  He felt free and at peace.  And for those reasons, he asked his mom that his ashes be scattered in Alaska.  When my aunt, his mom, realized that 2015 would mean it had been 10 years since Jake passed away, she said that was that, and said this year, would be the year that we would and needed to scatter his ashes.  So my entire family is preparing this month to do just that.  The trip is going to be fun and emotional all rolled into one.  I hope we will feel the same peace and freedom in Alaska that Jake reminisced about so much.

Any words of advice or encouragment for our family as we prepare to scatter Jake's ashes?  Remember to Comment for a Cause.

Country Fair Blog Party: All American

It is July 1st and time to showcase some new blog posts through the Country Fair Blog Party, which I'm happy to be a co-host of.  Before we talk about this month's theme, I'm going to share my three Blue Ribbon winners from June's Summer Lovin' Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner:  Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars
I don't know if I have just been craving blueberries lately or what, but any recipe I see with blueberries in it I have to pin to try later.  When I saw Jenn's Random Scraps's Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars I knew I had to try them!  What a fresh and sweet treat for summer get togethers!  I think what gives this bar the little added something and taste of summer is the lemon zest.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner:  12 Things My Kids Did When I Let Them Get Bored
Do you ever hear your kids say "I'm bored"?  Well LC of Chaming Farming responds to her kids with, "So, what are you going to do about it?".  She shares in her 12 Things My Kids Did When I Let Them Get Bored post things that her kids did last summer, as well as her thoughts about letting our kids become creators of fun, rather than us as parents always supplying and preparing the craft, game, fun, etc and our kids turning into just consumers of fun.  Let your kids use their imagination, explore and have fun!

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner:  7 Ways to Fit Exercise into Summer
Our summer schedules can get busy before we even know it, but Farm Fit Mam shares 7 Ways to Fit Exercise into Summer on her blog.  She recommends to get in 30 minutes of exercise daily ranging from waking up earlier to get a jump start on your day, to going swimming to gardening.  Exercise is one way to enjoy your summer a little more this year.  I recommend you check out all of her practical ideas and tips.

I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up this month as we have an All American blog hop.  Throughout the month of July we are looking for all of your patriotic posts, or posts that share your American pride.  I can't wait to check out your red, white & blue recipes, crafts, hometowns, places to visit, etc.  Show us why you are proud to call America home.


This blog hop is a great opportunity to check out new blogs, and if you blog yourself, have your posts reach a new audience.  Bloggers, feel free to link up to 3 posts this month and be sure to visit some other party goers and let them know you are stopping by through the Country Fair Blog Party.


Also, be sure to visit my fellow co-hosts:
Country LINKed
Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom
This Uncharted Rhoade
Tip Garden

We're excited to see everything you share this month!  What new blog did you discover through this month's Country Fair Blog Party?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip at North Iowa Drive-Ins

As June Dairy Month comes to an end, I thought I'd better share about my family's last two stops of our 2nd Annual Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip.  The final stops are similar in many ways.  They are both located in North Iowa where we live.  They are both "drive ins".  They are both open only seasonly during the summer.  And they both serve soft serve ice cream.  They are the Viking Drive-Inn in Ventura and Stan's Drive-In in Osage.

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip to Viking Drive Inn in Ventura and Stan's Drive In in Osage

Viking Drive-Inn in Ventura, Iowa
The Viking Drive-Inn is located in the town of Ventura, which is located on the west side of Clear Lake.  Did you know there are more than one town that Clear Lake goes through?  We finally visited this local ice cream shop for the first time earlier this month and it lived up to its popular status.  When arriving we had to park down the road and then once the kids and I got to the front door, we could barely open it up to get in, to order.  Like I said, the place is very popular and on a nice, Saturday afternoon, the place was packed.  Inside is room for six people to sit up at the bar, but there is lots of seating outside, where there are several picnic tables to sit at.

Black Raspberry Ice Cream at the Viking Drive-Inn in Ventura
The small Black Raspberry cup offered
BIG flavor and a BIG serving
I made ordering simple by asking what their most popular flavor was.  The gal who assisted me said, "Black Raspberry".  So that is what I got, a single Black Raspberry for myself and classic chocolate cones for the kids.  I liked the Black Raspberry ice cream's unique and rich flavor.  The kids' chocolate cones also had a nice, smooth chocolate soft serve flavor.  I ordered small portions for everyone, but the sizes were anything but small.  I'm not complaining, I love ice cream, but just so you know, their servings lean to the large side of the scale ;)

If you are biking or driving around Clear Lake be sure to stop by this little ice cream shop.  They also have a classic drive-inn food menu too if you're hungry for more than ice cream.

MP and LP enjoying chocolate ice cream cones

Stan's Drive-In, Osage
Stan's Drive-In in Osage is also another popular ice cream stop in North Iowa.  This is a fun place to eat and have ice cream with your family with a little bit of nostalgia.  I mean, how many drive-ins can you drive to today where you can have a car hop come to your car, take your order and deliver it to you in minutes?  The first thing that really impressed me about Stan's was the speed of service.  The place was packed of cars under the drive-in awning and back by the picnic table sitting area.  No matter where you were, the two car hops got to everyone fast and friendly.

Stan's Drive-In, Osage
Just like at our other ice cream destinations this summer, I asked the car hop what their most popular items were.  She told me the chicken breast filet sandwich with their special sauce and their arctic delights (think DQ's blizzards).  So that is what I went with.  My chocolate cookie dough arctic delight was exactly what I was looking for.  The soft serve ice cream was thick, rich and smooth.

Have you been to either of these popular drive-ins in North Iowa?  What's your favorite flavor of soft serve ice cream you've ever had?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!  Also be sure to check out our other destinations this month to Snookies Malt Shop and Heyn's Ice Cream.