Wednesday, September 28, 2016

#AppleWeek Apple Brown Betty

I'm continuing to celebrate Apple Week with over 20 bloggers this week and today we're sharing our favorite Apple Sweet Treats!  When I think of apples, I of course start thinking of sweets.  At first I thought I'd share my Old Fashioned Apple Pie recipe, but then I thought I'd go with my go-to apple dish that I love to make as soon as we pick the first apples from our apple tree - Apple Brown Betty.

An Apple Brown Betty is very similar to an apple crisp, except part of the crumb mixture is mixed in with the apples and then more is placed on top.  If your favorite part of a crisp is the topping, you'll love my Apple Brown Betty.  I also have oatmeal in my crumb mixture, because, well, I love oatmeal.  I'm not sure if Brown Betty's are supposed to have oatmeal, but mine does, and I think it gives it that added something.  This is a simple, naturally sweet treat that I love to serve with a scoop, or two, of homemade ice cream on top.

#AppleWeek Apple Brown Betty

Apple Brown Betty

5 to 6 medium-sized apples, peeled and sliced evenly
cinnamon sugar, to taste
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup oatmeal

In a bowl, mix the flower, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and oatmeal.  Sprinkle the sliced apples with cinnamon sugar.  Then toss the apples with half of the crumb mixture.  Put apple mixture into a great 1 1/2 quart casserole.  Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture over the top of the apples.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Serve with homemade ice cream.

#AppleWeek Apple Brown Betty

After yesterday's Harvest Brats with Apple Slaw recipe and today's Apple Brown Betty recipe, have you went out and got yourself some apples yet?  Apple Week continues tomorrow on several blogs, that are noted below, that are sharing some fun apple projects.  I'll be back on Friday with my "Anything Apple Goes" dish - my 1 minute Caramel Apple Dip!  Have you checked out any of the other Apple Week posts?  What looks good to you?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!


Monday: Appetizers and Drinks

Apple Brie Roll Up  by Family Around the Table Apple Cider Margaritas by A Palatable Pastime
Apple Cheddar Pinwheels by Cooking With Carlee Apple Pie Martini by Amy's Cooking Adventures Apple Pie Smoothie by Feeding Big Caramel Apple Float by Jolene's Recipe Journal Caramel Apple Martini by A Day in the Life on the Farm Caramel Appletini by The Speckled Palate Hot and Boozy Caramel Apple Cider by Love My Messy Messy Mess Hot Fireball Apple Cider by Grumpy's Honeybunch Mulled Apple Shrub Mule by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures Pumpkin Spice Crockpot Apple Sauce by I Say Nomato Red Hot Apple Cider by New South Charm Roasted Apple and Acorn Squash Soup by Caroline's Cooking Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Cider by Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks

Tuesday: Main Dishes and Sides

Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
Apple Cider Bread by I Say Nomato Apple-Glazed Pork Chops with Raisins by Love My Messy Messy Mess
Apple Streusel Muffins by Family Around The Table Chicken Salad with Apples and Cranberries by Feeding Big Chopped Apple Salad by A Day in the Life on the Farm Fall Apples Become Yummy Applesauce for the Year by Crafty Mama in ME Harvest Brats with Apple Slaw by Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids Sausage Stuffed Apples by A Palatable Pastime Sage Pork Chops with Apple Pan Gravy by Amy's Cooking Adventures Scalloped Apples Casserole by Red Cottage Chronicles Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Pork by Cooking With Carlee Southern Style Fried Apples by New South Charm

Wednesday: Sweet Treats

Apple and Nut Drop Cookies by A Day in the Life on the Farm Apple Brown Betty by Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce by Cooking With Carlee Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread by Feeding Big Apple Dumplings by A Palatable Pastime Apple Oatmeal Cookies by Jolene's Recipe Journal Apple Pie & Cinnamon Things by Crafty Mama in ME Apple Pie in a Jar by Grumpy's Honeybunch Apple Swirl Buns by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures Baked Apples with Chocolate and Caramel by Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks Brown Butter Apples by Cricket's Confections Mini Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust by Amy's Cooking Adventures Nana's Apple Pie by The Crumby Cupcake Sparkling Cider Pound Cake by Family Around The Table

Thursday: Apple Projects

Apple Bacon Jam by Caroline's Cooking
Apple Cinnamon Pancake Mix in a Jar by A Palatable Pastime
Apple Cinnamon Stovetop Potpourri by Amy's Cooking Adventures
Apple Suncatchers by Crafty Mama in ME
Caramel Apple in a Jar by Family Around The Table
Homemade Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Packets by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures Knit Apple Hat by Jolene's Recipe Journal

Friday: Anything Apple Goes

1 Minute Caramel Apple Dip by Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids
Apple Brown Betty by A Palatable Pastime
Apple Bundt Cake With Cider Caramel by Cooking With Carlee Apple Cinnamon Shortcakes by Jolene's Recipe Journal Apple Crisp Shortbread Bars by Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks Apple Fritters by Grumpy's Honeybunch Apple Pie Skillet by A Day in the Life on the Farm Caramelized Apple and Bacon Jam Crostini by Caroline's Cooking Creamy Peanut Butter Apple Dip by New South Charm Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Apple and Peppered Bacon by Feeding Big
Individual Apple Crisp by Family Around The Table Smoky Apple Pulled Pork by Amy's Cooking Adventures
Slow Cooker Apple Butter by The Crumby Cupcake

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

#AppleWeek - Harvest Brats with Apple Slaw

It finally feels like fall and keep your fingers crossed, we'll begin harvesting our corn and soybeans tomorrow.  One of my quick dishes I can make for the masses after we come home for the night from the field are my harvest brats with apple slaw.  It warms up the body and is a classic comfort food that gives you a taste of fall.

Pork and apples work so well together, and between being a pig farmer and having a freezer full of pork, and having an apple tree that produces delicious apples, I seem to always have the ingredients too. ;) The apple slaw is probably my favorite part of this dish.  The combination of mustard with the apples and onion creates this savory, yet slightly sweet topping that pairs perfectly with the seasonings of the brat!

#AppleWeek - Harvest Brats with Apple Slaw

Harvest Brats with Apple Slaw

Vegetable oil
4 pork brats
2 cups water
2 large apples of your choice
1 onion
Salt and pepper
1 cup apple cider
1/3 cup brown mustard
2 Tbsp brown sugar
4 brat buns

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with some vegetable oil covering the bottom of the pan.  Place brats in the pan and brown both sides of the brats.  This will take 4 minutes.

Once the brats are browned, add water to the pan to cover the brats half way up.  Continue to cook the brats for 8 minutes.

While the brats are cooking, slice the apples and onion.  I like to use an apple corer/slicer to cut my apples and then I cut each slice in half.  I also prefer to leave the skin on the apples.

Once the brats are finished cooking, remove from pan and set aside.  Remove any excess water from the pan and add the apples and onions to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, around 4 to 5 minutes.

Whisk apple cider, brown sugar and mustard together.  Add mixture to the apples and onion and bring to a bubble.  Add brats and simmer on low for a few minutes.

Serve each brat on a bun with the apple slaw mixture on top.  Enjoy!

I have step by step photos of this recipe and some fun facts about pork and apples in some past posts you should check out too.

I thought this recipe was a perfect fit to share during #AppleWeek.  Throughout this week a group of my blogging friends and I are sharing some of our favorite apple recipes.  You'll have to check out all of the great appetizers and drinks shared yesterday, as well as check out the other main dishes and sides being shared today.  Tomorrow will probably be a favorite day for many - Sweet Treats!  What day are you looking forward to during Apple Week?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Monday: Appetizers and Drinks

Apple Brie Roll Up  by Family Around the Table Apple Cider Margaritas by A Palatable Pastime
Apple Cheddar Pinwheels by Cooking With Carlee Apple Pie Martini by Amy's Cooking Adventures Apple Pie Smoothie by Feeding Big Caramel Apple Float by Jolene's Recipe Journal Caramel Apple Martini by A Day in the Life on the Farm Caramel Appletini by The Speckled Palate Hot and Boozy Caramel Apple Cider by Love My Messy Messy Mess Hot Fireball Apple Cider by Grumpy's Honeybunch Mulled Apple Shrub Mule by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures Pumpkin Spice Crockpot Apple Sauce by I Say Nomato Red Hot Apple Cider by New South Charm Roasted Apple and Acorn Squash Soup by Caroline's Cooking Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Cider by Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks

Tuesday: Main Dishes and Sides

Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
Apple Cider Bread by I Say Nomato Apple-Glazed Pork Chops with Raisins by Love My Messy Messy Mess
Apple Streusel Muffins by Family Around The Table Chicken Salad with Apples and Cranberries by Feeding Big Chopped Apple Salad by A Day in the Life on the Farm Fall Apples Become Yummy Applesauce for the Year by Crafty Mama in ME Harvest Brats with Apple Slaw by Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids Sausage Stuffed Apples by A Palatable Pastime Sage Pork Chops with Apple Pan Gravy by Amy's Cooking Adventures Scalloped Apples Casserole by Red Cottage Chronicles Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Pork by Cooking With Carlee Southern Style Fried Apples by New South Charm

Wednesday: Sweet Treats

Apple and Nut Drop Cookies by A Day in the Life on the Farm Apple Brown Betty by Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce by Cooking With Carlee Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread by Feeding Big Apple Dumplings by A Palatable Pastime Apple Oatmeal Cookies by Jolene's Recipe Journal Apple Pie & Cinnamon Things by Crafty Mama in ME Apple Pie in a Jar by Grumpy's Honeybunch Apple Swirl Buns by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures Baked Apples with Chocolate and Caramel by Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks Brown Butter Apples by Cricket's Confections Mini Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust by Amy's Cooking Adventures Nana's Apple Pie by The Crumby Cupcake Sparkling Cider Pound Cake by Family Around The Table

Thursday: Apple Projects

Apple Bacon Jam by Caroline's Cooking
Apple Cinnamon Pancake Mix in a Jar by A Palatable Pastime
Apple Cinnamon Stovetop Potpourri by Amy's Cooking Adventures
Apple Suncatchers by Crafty Mama in ME
Caramel Apple in a Jar by Family Around The Table
Homemade Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Packets by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures Knit Apple Hat by Jolene's Recipe Journal

Friday: Anything Apple Goes

1 Minute Caramel Apple Dip by Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids
Apple Brown Betty by A Palatable Pastime
Apple Bundt Cake With Cider Caramel by Cooking With Carlee Apple Cinnamon Shortcakes by Jolene's Recipe Journal Apple Crisp Shortbread Bars by Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks Apple Fritters by Grumpy's Honeybunch Apple Pie Skillet by A Day in the Life on the Farm Caramelized Apple and Bacon Jam Crostini by Caroline's Cooking Creamy Peanut Butter Apple Dip by New South Charm Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Apple and Peppered Bacon by Feeding Big
Individual Apple Crisp by Family Around The Table Smoky Apple Pulled Pork by Amy's Cooking Adventures
Slow Cooker Apple Butter by The Crumby Cupcake

Monday, September 26, 2016

Live from Munchkinland - Memory Lane

This month's Comments for a Cause program is benefiting Make Our Day.  I asked Make Our Day's founder, Katie, to write a post that shared more about the children she works with daily to "make their day" and to give us a glimpse into the day in the life of her and these children in Thailand.  Enjoy!


"The days are long but the years are short."


A week ago I was cleaning out a drawer and found a big stack of Munchkinland pictures that somehow never made into the kiddos' curious, sticky hands.  Most were a couple years old.  The pile showed all their favorite things: birthdays, holidays, Teacha Ben, donuts, swimming and selfies.

I walked in to class knowing these would provide enough giggles and debates to last a couple hours but walked out amazed at all the memories crammed into those munchkin brains that I'd forgotten about.

Like the time me and the triplets played king of the mountain on this pool inflatable.

Hey there photo bomber Benz.  I see you girl.
When the pool party pictures surfaced, Farm sprang off the couch into an elaborate game of charades to try and ask me if I remember tipping this thing over; which they loved but the pool staff felt was a little too rowdy.  (Pools have so many rules).  After telling the story to no less than seven people, Farm was nearly out of breath from excitement.  He sat down and said this day was so fun, so scary and Teacha get in trouble.  Benz and I decided that's how a lot of days end actually, with Teacha, Benz or Mickey getting in trouble.

As we looked through the pictures, they laughed and laughed at how funny it is that students "look not same" but Teacha "look same."  I told them I didn't think it was funny at all that each and every one of them insisted on growing up.

There is one hairstyle allowed for elementary school girls and you're looking at it.
Pair wants a ponytail so bad.  She'll have to settle for playing with mine for one more year.
Jang and Bung (being in middle school) are now allowed to have ponytails instead of the bang heavy crop cut that Pair, Benz and Laila hate so much.

Mickey and Isquis decided to grow into their enormous heads.  Woot's chubby cheeks gave way to a preteen 5 o'clock shadow and Ming... Ming looks exactly the same.  Like a small but strong angry bird, took wan.

Woot October 2015, when everything about his face was rounder than it 
Mickey (here age 4) is now 5 with no more Bobble Head
Ming (aka Crankypants) dissatisfied with picture taking in 2014
We look at the clothes and mine are the same, but Baitong is now wearing Benz's hand me downs and they've traded birthday headbands amongst themselves to coordinate.

As a while we've lost teeth, changed haircuts, gone through hundreds of pairs of school socks and changed classrooms, friends and school.  When I pull out a picture of 4th grade and show it to the now 6th graders, they tell me it was sooooooo long ago.  But was it?

Nok and Nam swapping birthday headbands
Benz will celebrate her 12th birthday in November.  When she rattles off the events of her 10th and 11th birthdays like they could have been yesterday (and talks as if her 10 weeks out birthday is tomorrow), I told her it doesn't really seem like soooooo long ago, does it?

She laughs because she forgot to tell me the best part.........her birthday is on a Wednesday this year!  We both gasp and cover our mouth (Benz to hold in her scream) because this is a big deal.

Why?  Wednesday is the day she come to Make Our Day tutoring.  A new semester at school (starting in November) means a new 8 week session of Make Our Day classes, which means new boards, a new birthday book and a full birthday bus.

You better believe she's thought all that through and want to make sure Techa is getting organized and not missing any of the details.  On second thought, it's probably best we make a tear off calendar or paper chain to make sure we're keeping an accurate countdown.

Live from Munchkinland - Learn more about Make Our Day in Thailand
Benz's 10th Birthday
Benz's 11th Birthday
Like all days in Munchkinland that seemed as though they'd never end, Benz's birthday will be here and gone before we know it.

I know this MasterCard "priceless" reference is dated, but Teacha isn't cool enough to keep up with pop culture references (or emojis) so I'm going to use it anyway.

8 weeks of class:  $100
Birthday Party:  $50
Play date:  $30
Memories made in Munchkinland:  Priceless.

If you'd like to sponsor a child for any of these activities, please comment your pledge below, email Teacha Katie at info@makeourday.org, or donate online.

Thank you Katie for sharing with us about Munchkinland and what you're doing at Make Our Day.  What did you love about seeing photos of the kids through the years in Munchkinland?  Remember to Comment for a Cause and a special side note, that there is another donor who is going to match my Comments for a Cause donation so please comment on any and all posts to increase this month's donation!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What it means to be a FarmHer

While grocery shopping this week, the girls and I were stocking up on bottled pop that was on sale, as this is a staple during fall harvest.

Miss A started asking questions as the six packs stacked up in the cart, "Are these for you, and Daddy, and Grandpa?"

I replied, "Yes. These are for harvest.  We should be in the field soon so Mom is stocking up now while I have a chance and they're on sale."

A woman also checking out the pop special overhead our conversation (Because really, who couldn't with how loud Miss A asks her questions...  Plus, we kind of stick out in the grocery store at 10 in the morning on a Tuesday with three girls ages three and under as my shopping companions.) and casually said to me, "Oh, you must be a farmer's wife."

Without even thinking about it I responded, "No, I'm a farmer."

She gave me a puzzled look and said again, "No, a farmer's wife."

What it means to be a FarmHer
Driving the tractor
and grain cart during harvest
And I again reinstated, "No, I'm a farmer.  I might not be in the shop right now with my husband working on the combine, but I do take care of the financials for our farm, drive a tractor all fall and spring, and help with daily chores.  So, I think that makes me a farmer."

I kind of stunned the woman and even myself with my quick reply.  So I smiled at her and she smiled back at me and said, "Well, yes, I guess you are a farmer."

I don't know if it was the Millennial in me or what, but it was easy for me to say and confirm that I was indeed a farmer.  But have women farmers always been that confident, or have they even thought of themselves as something more than a farmer's wife?

I got to thinking about this more and more as I tagged along through social media at FarmHer's Grow event for young women yesterday.  FarmHer works to "shine a light on women in agriculture", and for the second year has led Grow events targeted at females ages 15-23 to explore and get inspired about the possibilities in agriculture.  I would have loved an event like this when I was in high school and college!  The thing is, women have always been a part of agriculture, and I believe as time goes on, are becoming a bigger segment of the agriculture workforce, whether it be as a scientist, researcher, veterinarian, farmer, etc.

What it means to be a FarmHer - working as partners in the operation
My Farmer and I working together
this past spring during planting
My husband and I are partners in our farming operation.  We each have our own role and we work together to build our farm.  We talk through marketing decisions together.  We both do our on market research so we can make the best choice for selling our commodities.  We work together in the field.  As harvest approaches, you'll see me driving a tractor and grain cart while you'll see My Farmer driving the combine or semi-truck.  After harvest, it'll be time to be thinking about next year's crop.  We'll talk through our corn and soybean rotations, but My Farmer makes the exact decision on seeds/varieties we will plant.  My Farmer takes care of our pigs at our pig barns on the other side of the section from where we live.  Where along with our son Mr. K, I take care of the goat and pig chores at the home place.  I manage all of our financials for our farm, taking care of bills and deposits, while my husband is the one negotiating rates and rents.  My Farmer does all of the equipment repair, where I'll assist by running to get the parts needed.  We work together.  We are a team.

I am empowered that there are events and programs like FarmHer to confirm with women of all ages that you can be in agriculture.  As a mother of three girls, I never want any of them to think that because they are females they can't be in agriculture.  Maybe Miss A will use her animal handling skills to have her own herd of goats...

What it means to be a FarmHer - starting them young
Miss A has no fear when it comes to
getting dirty and getting the job done
Or Miss L will drive a tractor and raise corn and soybeans...

What it means to be a FarmHer - starting them young
Miss L last fall helping me in the tractor
I can't believe how much she's grown!
And I guess we'll have to wait to see what four month old Miss R will decide, but I want to make sure all of them feel like they can.  There are a lot of occupations that I think have gender biases but I believe the world of agriculture is starting to embrace and recognize women.  For that I am thankful and excited, for me and my girls.

What it means to be a FarmHer - women of all ages in agriculture
My girls and I at the Farm Progress Show
at the end of August
Have you heard of the FarmHer program?  Are you a farmer?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

4 Reasons to Visit Franklin County, Iowa This Weekend

If I could sum up Franklin County, Iowa (my home) in three words I'd say welcoming, innovative and genuine.  Franklin County is a rural area in North Iowa with only 10,000 residents living within its borders and one working stop light ;) but we don't let our small stature get in our way of being inventive and bringing in people to experience our slice of heaven on Earth (Cue Field of Dreams - Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa.).  I'm proud to call this spot in North Iowa my home and this weekend is one of the many reasons why it is such a great place.

Reason #1 - Main Street Hampton Restaurant Crawl, Thursday, Sepetember 22nd

Looking for a fun Thursday night out?  For just $10 you can dine at four restaurants in Downtown Hampton!  A first of its kind event for Franklin County, this Restaurant Crawl runs from 5 to 7pm and includes stops at:
  • La Frontera - Appetizer/Nachos and Dessert/Pear Tart
  • Breadeaux Pizza - two Salad options
  • Willies Sports Bar - Brisket and Tenderloin Sliders
  • Rustic Brew - Roast Pork Loin topped with Cooked Apples with a side of Fingerling Potatoes and Carrots
You can start at any restaurant and eat in any order.  Tickets are required for this event; contact Dawn Collins at mainstreet@hamptoniowa.org or stop in at the Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce/Center One.  This event supports local food producers, downtown restaurants, Hampton-Dumont Bulldog Cafe students and Hampton-Dumont music students.  Students involved with the Bulldog Cafe have helped test the recipes that will be featured Thursday night.  They will also be the servers at each of the restaurants.  Music at each restaurant will be provided by the school music students and local musicians.

Main Street Hampton, Iowa Restaurant Crawl, Thursday, Sepetember 22nd

Reason #2 - The Geneva Market, Friday, September 23rd and Saturday, September 24th

Does anyone else love the "Only in Your State" lists?  Well, I sure do and I am proud to say that Franklin County's, The Geneva Market, made the 6 Must-Visit Flea Markets in Iowa Where You'll Find Awesome Stuff list.  

The best parts of this fun, antique, vintage, upcycled market is that it happens in both the spring and the fall (the fall market happening this weekend) and the money raised through booth rentals and the $3 admission fee goes to the Geneva Betterment Committee.  The Committee is currently working on repairing the Geneva School Auditorium, where they plan to host future markets, as well as wedding receptions, family reunions, etc. after renovations are complete.

The Geneva Market is located at Mayne's Grove (west of Geneva and south of Hampton) and will take place on Friday, September 23rd from 10am to 7pm and Saturday, September 24th from 9am to 5pm.  Be sure to check out their Facebook page to get a look at some of the up to 100 vendors that will be there this weekend.  I have always come home with something fun from The Geneva Market.  This spring I bought two, neat, metal art flowers for my yard.  I bet this weekend there will lots of exclusive buys for your home, especially fall decor.

The Geneva Market, Friday, September 23rd and Saturday, September 24th

Reason #3 - Make-A-Wish Fall Ball at Enchanted Acres, Saturday, September 24th

Now this third reason is very near to my heart.  For the second year, Enchanted Acres, located outside of Sheffield, is hosting a Fall Ball for Make-A-Wish Iowa from 9am to 5pm.  A $5 per person gate fee will be donated directly to the Make-A-Wish North Iowa Committee, that will go towards helping wish families.

Besides supporting wish kids, you also get to have lots of fun!  Everyone is encouraged to dress up as your favorite character for the all day costume party.  Special attractions exclusive for Saturday include inflatables for the kids to play on, face painting from 9am to 1pm and Dragonfire Dancing Horses performances at 11am and 1:30pm.  To learn more about all of the activities, check out the Facebook event.

Enchanted Acres is a favorite fall destination for my family and I.  There are a lot of fun opportunities, while still having that close-knit, comfortable feeling.  Thank you to Enchanted Acres for hosting this event for the second year in a row!

Make-A-Wish Fall Ball at Enchanted Acres, Saturday, September 24th

***September 23rd Update - Due to the rain and flooding at Enchanted Acres, Saturday's Fall Ball is being postponned to Saturday, October 29th.  Sunday's Farm Crawl is still going on as planned.***

Reason #4 - Fresh on the Farm at Enchanted Acres, TownsEnd Winery and Carlson Tree Farm, Sunday, September 25th

The final reason to visit Franklin County is happening this Sunday.  The Fresh on the Farm, Farm Crawl has been happening the last few years and looks to be another great way to enjoy a beautiful, fall day this weekend.

The Farm Crawl provides the public a fun, interactive opportunity to get to know some local producers and to taste the flavors of fall.  At each farm there will be tours, food samples, and products to buy from Noon to 5pm.  You can start wherever you want, but you'll want to make sure to visit all of the sites.  This year's farms are Enchanted Acres, TownsEnd Winery in Hansell and Carlson Tree Farm in rural Hampton/Coulter.

Fresh on the Farm at Enchanted Acres, TownsEnd Winery and Carlson Tree Farm, Sunday, September 25th

So what's stopping you?  Be sure to visit my home this weekend for some great fall fun.  What event are you really interested in?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Back to School Caramel Crispix Mix

It is hard to believe that Mr. K has been back to school for eight days!  So far he has been loving Kindergarten.  Highlights of Kindergarten are that he gets to ride the bus to and from school each day, eating hot lunch at school, keeping a pair of gym shoes in his locker and learning how to read.  Today after school I asked him what his favorite part of the day was and he said it was getting homework...  While I'm sure that will change as he gets older, I just love how much he loves learning.

First Day of Kindergarten - Back to School Caramel Crispix Mix
Mr. K waiting for the bus on the first day of school
The first day of school is always a fun time to celebrate.  We started the day with pancakes and after school I had Caramel Crispix Mix ready to go for a snack.  This Caramel Crispix Mix is a signature recipe of some of my family friends, the Lund's.  I have many memories of this snack associated with school - from snacking on it on the bus after a sporting game, to munching on it all day in the gym during speech contests.  The Lund girls always seemed to have a large batch to share and this Caramel Crispix Mix was a nice perk of being one of their friends. ;)

So I thought, what a perfect after school snack to make to celebrate being back at school, especially since the kids were going to neighbor's house that night.  This snack mix isn't just great for a school snack, but is also great for tailgating and the holidays.  You can make the mix festive and coordinating to whatever you are celebrating. :)

Caramel Crispix Mix - perfect for school snack, tailgating and holiday gatherings

Caramel Crispix Mix 
(shared with permission from the Lund family, with slight adaptions)

1 - 12oz box Crispix
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) Butter
1/4 cup Corn Syrup
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
Your choice of Mix-Ins:  M&Ms, Peanuts, Candy Corn, etc.

Combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in pot and heat until boiling.  Let boil for 30 seconds.
Add baking soda and stir until foamy.
Pour mixture over cereal in microwave safe dish.  Mix to coat squares.
Microwave on High for 1 minute.  Stir to evenly coat.  Repeat 3 times.
Spread on waxed paper to cool.
Get creative and toss with your choice of mix-in.
Enjoy!  And fair warning, this is highly addictive...

What are some of your favorite school memories?  Do you have any foods that you automatically associate with school?  How about your favorite school lunch?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Comments for a Cause - Make Our Day

Comments for a Cause - Make Our Day
It's September 1st and time to talk about Comments for a Cause!  In the month of August I had 31 comments, equaling at $15.50 donation to my church's VBS mission towards Global Ministries' Family Village Farm.  Thanks for helping me not only further the youth of my church's mission project, but also for helping the youth in this Indian village and school.

In the month of September I'm excited to be donating $0.50 for every comment made on my blog to Make Our Day.


Comments for a Cause - Make Our Day

I have connected to different Comments for a Cause programs through many ways - local connections, social media connections, and sometimes the connection is simply unplanned.  The latter is how I learned about Make Our Day.  Katie, founder of Make Our Day, had contacted me through her other job and she had noticed my Comments for a Cause program last month helped an orphanage and school in India.  She commented to me how much she respected that and that it reminded her of the orphanage she works and teaches at in Thailand.  From there, I continued the conversation and learned about her love and passion for these kids, which has resulted in her starting a non-profit, Make Our Day.  I asked Katie to share a little more about it, so hopefully all you can get a glimpse at the joy and devotion I've felt since first connecting with her.

What is your background - education, brief life story?
I majored in fashion in college.  Prior to coming to Thailand I was a Buyer for several years in the sports apparel industry.  So, no experience in teaching or non-profit work.  Starting Make Our Day was a complete 180.

What led you to Thailand?
When I was in college we were assigned the book, Not For Sale, by David Batstone, as required reading for the importance of sourcing fair labor within the garment industry.  Many of the more jarring examples of human trafficking and specifically child slavery, were rooted in Thailand.  Once I became restless with office work and made the decision that sitting behind a desk was not for me, Thailand was the first place I thought of.  I did zero planning.  Bought a one way ticket and that was it.  Leap of faith, or temporary insanity, the jury is still out.

What is special about Thailand for you?
I am a very restless person, impatient, always over-committing.  Thailand is so chaotic at times that it has a reverse effect on me and I feel uncharacteristically calm being here.  

What do you not enjoy about Thailand?
Ironically, the things that I do not enjoy, tend to be the things I value the most about my time here.  For example, I can't stand the inconsistency of their scheduling (transportation, schools, shops, everything) but it has taught me patience.  I don't like that lying does not have a negative connotation in Asian culture, but it's taught me to read people for their intentions and be more understanding.  I don't like the language barrier, but it's made me a better listener and a more concise communicator.

How did you get the idea for Make Our Day?  Was there a big "Aha!" moment, when you realized you had to do something?
You bet!  It was a Friday, last period of the day and I was completely exhausted.  I had been working at the school for six months (in Thailand) and was seriously thinking that that week may have to be the end of the road for me.  I decided to kill the last little bit of class by teaching the word weekend (with wild cheering and celebration to follow... or so I thought.)  Instead, several of the munchkins (a term of endearment Katie uses when referencing the children) started crying.  One ran to lock the door (as to keep me in the classroom) and another ran to the front of the class bawling and hugged me around the waist and asked, "Teacha will you stay here!!"  I told the munchkin no, so he responded (still crying), "Will you come to my house?"  Sure I said and we walked to his house, which turned out to be an orphanage.  I knew that was God's way of telling me, "Nice try... but you're not going anywhere."  Saturday Playdates started the very next day and Make Our Day was born.

If you had to sum up the project in one sentence - what would it be?
Make Our Day seeks to mobilize the minds of munchkins while putting smiles on their faces and courage in their hearts.

What do you hope the kids learn or gain from your programs?
A desire to learn, the ability to trust, and courage to ask for help when they need it.

What problems do the children face and how do you help?
Most, if not all, have been the victim of some sort of family trauma (physical or sexual abuse, drug addiction, abandonment, or orphaned by the 2004 Tsunami) and the coping mechanisms I see most often are anger, fear, anxiety or withdrawing.  The only way I know to help is to slowly, but consistently, build a relationship with individual children that makes them feel loved and shows them the way to love others.  This takes time, consistency and resilience.

I love reading your updates - in addition to touching me emotionally, they always make me laugh.  How do you maintain a sense of humor while dealing with such heavy issues?
As language is an obstacle, a love of fun and play is what really bonds the munchkins and I and makes a deeper trust and learning possible.  I'm a kid that never grew up and they've had to grow up too quickly.  I don't always know what the munchkins need from me, but I know they don't need pity.  It can get hard, very hard actually, but as with anything, love and laughter are the best medicine.

I have seen the Get Involved page on your website - is there anything specifically needed right now?
I am taking my initial program of playdates, adding my role as "Techa", and am opening a tutoring center in walking distance of the munchkins school in January 2017.  Our greatest need is for people to sponsor students on a recurring monthly basis to ensure they have a safe place to study with trusted adults on a consistent basis.  Consistency is the key to the success of the program.  You can sponsor a child through our Facebook page, Paypal (send to info@makeourday.org), or by Mail.

Anything else you'd like to share?
There is a platitude I often go back to that goes, "If you have much, give of your wealth.  If you have little, give of your heart."  Don't fall into the trap of thinking that money is all you have to contribute.  Money is necessary yes, but in the end, it is the people, not the money, that have the impact.  We need both.

So help me this month, help Katie and all of the munchkins in Thailand by commenting on any of my blog posts, old or new, and I'll donate $0.50 for each comment.  What was the most interesting thing that stood out to you about Katie or the Make Our Day story?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!