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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Comments for a Cause - Alzheimer's Lemonade Stand

There are sometimes things just happen.  You get inspired by a small act.  You change your plans.  You make an extra stop in your day.  Well, that happened to me yesterday.  If you have been following my blog over the last couple of years, you know that I have a Comments for a Cause program on my blog and that I announce the new monthly cause on the 1st of each month.  I know some people specifically check each month on the 1st to see what the new cause is and yesterday I didn't post anything.  I had plans to support our community's VBS mission project originally, which still might happen sometime down the road, but my plans changed by stopping at a young man's lemonade stand yesterday.  After talking to him I got inspired and decided I had to change my plans.

I'll talk about my trip to the lemonade stand more, but I don't want to go any further without paying my respect to last month's cause, the Make-A-Wish Kansas City chapter.  Last month I had 79 comments creating a $39.50 donation.  Thank you for helping me support an organization that meant so much to my cousin Jake, who we scattered his ashes in Alaska because of his wish earlier this month.

Now let's talk about yesterday.  I was driving to my Mom's house and saw a young man with a lemonade stand on the side of the road in the town she lives in.  I am a sucker for lemonade stands so I circled the block and pulled up for some lemonade and cookies for myself and my family.  But I ended up getting a lot more than that.  His family had been affected by Alzheimer's Disease.  He wanted to bring awareness to the disease and support research for the disease so he decided to set up a $0.50 lemonade stand for the Alzheimer's Association.  He contacted the organization and got some pamphlets and other support materials to pass out and decorate his lemonade stand with.  I was impressed with his passion and creativity so much that I decided I wanted to continue his efforts by supporting the Alzheimer's Association this month by making a $0.50 donation for every comment on my blog to a cause and passion I was made better aware of from simply visiting a lemonade stand.

I learned a lot from this young man.  Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.  Symptoms develop slowly and increase in severity over time, enough to interfere with daily tasks.  There are over 5 million American living with Alzheimer's today and it is estimated that 1 in 3 seniors dies with dementia, which Alzheimer's is the most common.  The number of affected people is expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050.  This young man stressed how the disease is growing, but there is still no medicine or help to slow, cure or prevent the disease.

So help me spread this young man's lemonade stand Alzheimer's awareness by sharing your experiences with Alzheimer's or dementia in the comment section below.  Because remember, Comment for a Cause!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Country Fair Blog Party: August 2015

It is August 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 show this month's link-up, I'm going to share my three Blue Ribbon winners from July's Country Fair Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner:  Maple Bacon Ice Cream
I'm going to let all of you in on a little secret... I love BACON!  Ok, so maybe it wasn't that much of a secret for this pork producer...  So if you post a recipe that spotlights bacon, there is a pretty good chance you'll be a monthly Blue Ribbon winner, like Cooking with Carlee and her Maple Bacon Ice Cream guest post by MiMi.  Actually, this recipe may have hit my holy grail of recipes - bacon, ice cream and breakfast.  That's right, she serves this maple flavored ice cream with bacon on top of a waffle!  It makes me reminisce about my job as a waitress in high school.  As a treat on late shifts (the time of night where people can't decide if they should have a sandwich and fries, or pancakes and eggs) I'd sometimes make myself a waffle and serve it with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.  Yum!

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: All Natural Fly Spray
My next Blue Ribbon winner is Our Simple Homestead's All Natural Fly Spray.  If you live on a farm you are always in search of a good fly spray for your livestock.  A lot of fly sprays have a pretty potent smell and you're always in search of a hydrant so you can wash your hands off right away after spraying it on your animals.  Tracy didn't care for commercial fly sprays for some of the same reasons so that is why she did some research and made her own homemade recipe.  This fly spray also helps repeal ticks, mosquitoes and gnats too.  I hope this post is a big help for the rest of the summer and fair season!

Country Fair Blue Ribbon Winner:  The Day I Stopped Trying to Get Perfect Photos of My Kids
My final Blue Ribbon for July goes to Charming Farming with her post, The Day I Stopped Trying to Get Perfect Photos of My Kids.  I think with kids and photos you've got to just go with the flow at times.  I remember being disappointed when it seemed like we could never get the "perfect" photo but now I look at some of those "not so perfect" photos and find 10 things I like about them.  I then love the photo and think it is perfect.  I've even blogged about my "10 things" take on photos.  LC shares about her turning point of what a "perfect" photo really is in her post.  A good read for any Mom with small children!

I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up this month as we have our Country Fair Blog Party.  Country Fairs are all about food, family, friends, farming, animals, arts and crafts, canning, baking and more.  And that is what our our blog hop is all about too.  Feel free to join our Country Fair by linking up to 3 of your posts.  This blog hop is a great opportunity to check out new blogs, and if you blog yourself, have your posts reach a new audience.  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
Tip Garden

We're excited to see everything you share this month!  What is your favorite link from this month's Country Fair Blog Party?  Whichever post is mentioned the most in the comments will receive my "Readers Choice" Blue Ribbon next month!  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

4 Ingredient Sunrise Smoothie

* This post has been compensated through the AE Dairy Blog Ambassador program.  All views and opinions shared are my own. *

I am a huge breakfast fan!  I have to have it in order to have any energy for the day, and I have three little kids that depend on me to have energy.  Don't you wish you could just bottle up the energy that a toddler has during a non-nap period and sell it!  I could be rich!  

Anyways, breakfast is important to me and my whole family.  I like to mix up our breakfasts throughout the week and at least once a week I try to have breakfast by myself.  Now that may sound selfish, but I need one morning to myself where I can make something extra special, just for me, and read a book or watch the news (rather than reading Corduroy or watching Curious George).  This morning was that morning.  I finished the latest book by Melanie Shankle, Nobody's Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship and I made myself a fun, refreshing and summertime Sunrise Smoothie, that also used up some ripe bananas that needed to be made into something...  What is really great about this smoothie is that it is simple, uses only 4 ingredients - most likely of which are staple foods in your house, and is a true "dump" recipe.

4 ingredient Sunrise Smoothie #AEdairy #ad

Sunrise Smoothie

1 Banana
1 - 6oz container AE Dairy Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt
6 oz AE Dairy Orange Juice (fill up empty yogurt cup with OJ)
2 handfuls of Ice (approximately 1 cup)

Dump all ingredients in blender and pulse til ice is crushed, then blend til smooth.  Makes 2 tall glasses.

For only four ingredients, this smoothie offers a lot of flavor and substance.  The Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt makes the smoothie healthy and creamy.  I have to admit, a lot of times when I have ripe bananas I go for a banana milkshake...  So this is a much healthier alternative.  And the Orange Juice gives the smoothie that added something, that added zip of energy.

What's your favorite breakfast smoothie recipe?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

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!