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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Comments for a Cause - BackPack Program

I can't believe it is September 1st!  I swear I was just introducing August's Comments for a Cause!  But I guess it was a month ago, so it is time to wrap up my donation to Alzheimer's Association and move onto a new cause.  Last month I had 56 comments, equaling a donation of $28.  Thank you to everyone that helped me rally around a young man's lemonade stand mission!

For this month I couldn't help but think of children across the country and world going back to school.  If you follow my blog, you know that our oldest son, LP, started Pre-K this year.  Going to school is fun and exciting.  When LP comes home from the school bus (which is one of his favorite parts of going to school) he has no worries (and not just because he doesn't have homework... yet at least).  He gets to come home, play with his sisters, eat a nice supper, and then gets to go to sleep in a bed.  But for some kids, including some of his classmates, eating a nice meal in the evenings and all weekend long is a luxury.  That is why, during the month of September, I'll be donating $0.50 for every comment made on any of my blog to the BackPack Program.

My son LP with his backpack ready for school

The BackPack Program provides a sack of kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare foods to low-income elementary children on Fridays before they go home for the weekend.  There is no cost for the children, their families or their schools to participate.  The contents of the backpacks vary each week, but often contain items like soup, juice, cereals, fruit cups, milk, pudding cups and snacks.  The Food Bank of Iowa estimates it costs less than $4 per sack to provide meals for these children weekly.



Does your school have a program like this?  What other programs have you heard of to help low-income children?  Remember to Comment for a Cause all month long!

Country Fair Blog Party: September 2015

It is September 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 August's Country Fair Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner - Farm Girl Cook'n's "Grandma Charlie's Purple Ribbon Cinnamon Bread"
My first Blue Ribbon winner comes from Mary of Farm Girl Cook'n.  She shared her Grandma Charlie's Purple Ribbon Cinnamon Bread last month.  It is no surprise this is a ribbon winner since the bread literally already won her a purple ribbon as a 4-Her at the County Fair.  What I love about this bread is that it is similar to Amish Friendship Bread, except with no starter mix needed and you don't have to make tons of loaves to finish out the batter.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner - Minnesota Farm Living's "Agvocacy through baseball and the "big city" foodies"
My second Blue Ribbon winner goes to Wanda of Minnesota Farm Living.  She shared about a couple awesome agvocacy experiences that she got to be apart of earlier this summer in her Agvocacy through baseball and the "big city" foodies post.  The first event she participated in was the "Pig and a Pint" event in Minneapolis.  This event gathered influential foodies and pig farmers to talk about food.  It sounds like she had some great conversations and got to eat some delicious food.  The second thing she got involved with was a pork promotion at a Minnesota Twins game which included her throwing out the first pitch of the game.  How cool is that!  You better check out her post to learn more about both events.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: A Day in the Life of a Cow from Of Kids and Cows
My final Blue Ribbon goes to Jodi of, Of Kids and Cows.  She shared a neat post that documented A Day in the Life of a Cow on her blog, as told be one of her dairy cows.  It was a fun post that was also educational.  Their dairy cows get milked three times a day and fed twice a day.  Their cows eat 100 pounds of feed a day!  It sounds like besides milking and eating, this cow also enjoys napping and socializing ;)

Country Fair Blog Party monthly linky party - starts the 1st of each month
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.

Country Fair Blog Party Co-Hosts
Also, be sure to visit my fellow co-hosts:
Jan or Tip Garden
Laurie of Country LINKed and
Nicole of Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom

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!



Monday, August 31, 2015

Agri-Tourism in Iowa - Showcasing Iowa's Agriculture Legacy at Tyden Farm No. 6


Agri-tourism is a growing area of interest in Iowa - from going to the National Toy Tractor Museum in Dyersville, to touring the World Food Prize in Des Moines, to visiting Blue Bunny in Le Mars, there are many options on how to get a look at the wide world of agriculture.  One fun trip that the kids and I were able to take last week before school started, was a tour of Tyden Farm No. 6 near Dougherty, Iowa (which is about 30 miles away from our home).  We had a great time touring this 10 acre homestead, owned and operated by Ted and Judy Pitzenberger, with the North Iowa Bloggers.

Touring Tyden Farm No. 6 with the North Iowa Bloggers in Dougherty, Iowa
The North Iowa Bloggers in front of the Tyden Farm No. 6 Barn
(Photo courtesy of Donna Hup of donnahup.com)
Agri-Tourism in Iowa - Showcasing Iowa's Agriculture Legacy at Tyden Farm No. 6, Dougherty, Iowa
What is Tyden Farm No. 6?  Tyden Farm No. 6 is a historic farm that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.  The Tyden Farms (there were eight total) were started by Emil Tyden in the 1930's.  The farms were a source of jobs and were always on the cusp of new technologies in the Dougherty and Greene, Iowa area.  In 1994 the Emil Tyden family started selling the farms.  Tyden Farm No. 6 was bought by Ted and Judy Pitzenberger.  Shortly after buying the farm, they looked into the history of Emil Tyden and Tyden Farms more, and decided to start restore the farm back to it's original glory.  They enjoyed preserving the farm so much that they now open it up to visitors by reservations.

Who is Emil Tyden?  Emil Tyden was a Swedish immigrant who arrived in America in 1882 as a teenager with only $20 in his pocket.  He worked various jobs across the United States, including working for the railroad and serving in the Army as a "$1 a year man".  While working for the railroad he invented, the Cargo Seal, which kept (and still keeps) train cargo safe and secure.  At the same time he went on to creating one of the world's first automation systems to help supply the mass amount of Cargo Seals needed in Hastings, Michigan - a decade before Henry Ford started mass producing automobiles.

In 1920, a fire destroyed his Cargo Seal factory so Tyden resolved this issue by entering the fire sprinkler business.  He started manufacturing fire sprinklers and valves, and today, you can still see his product in office buildings across the world.  Tyden had over 200 patents, and while he loved inventing and made his wealth in manufacturing, he had a love for agriculture and farming.

Agri-Tourism in Iowa - Showcasing Iowa's Agriculture Legacy at Tyden Farm No. 6 - some of the first farms in North Iowa to use cement
Ted Pitzenberger telling us about the cement 
they made on the farm including for the cement water tower 
you see to the left of him and a cement corn crib not pictured
So with his profits, he invested in farm ground in the Dougherty and Greene, Iowa area during the Great Depression.  His farms were well respected in the area.  They employed many people during a time of high unemployment, and they were always on the cutting edge of technology.  His farms were some of the first in the area to have cement and electricity.

Agri-Tourism in Iowa - Showcasing Iowa's Agriculture Legacy at Tyden Farm No. 6 - Fun for the whole family
MP and LP had a lot of fun on the tour,
 especially in their large garden area


Why should I look into Agri-Tourism for my next trip?  Agri-Tourism is a great way to help better understand and appreciate the land and the people who live and work on it.  Many aspects of the agricultural landscape have changed over the years, so it a great way to learn about the science that goes into farming - something that Emil Tyden was very proud of.  Agri-Tourism is also simply a lot of fun where you can get a personal look and experience into agriculture.




Agri-Tourism in Iowa - Showcasing Iowa's Agriculture Legacy at Tyden Farm No. 6 - Museum with collections from 1900's
In their museum, located in the old hog house,
I was drawn towards their kitchen display
Touring Tyden Farm No. 6 was a lot of fun for us to see what farming was like decades ago.  It was also great to see the pride that the Pitzenberger's take in Tyden's story and their own farming heritage.  They not only have several farm implements and buildings that were used on the Tyden Farms over the years, but they also have a museum with several of their family's memorabilia and history.  You can tell how much farming is a family business and how agriculture really built and supported communities in the area.

You can learn more about Tyden Farm No. 6 by visiting their website, or by scheduling your own tour by contacting Ted and Judy Pitzenberger at 641-426-5277 or tyden6@netins.net.

Have you ever visited any Agri-Tourism destination before?  If so, where?  What did you like about the Agri-Tourism experience?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Celebrate with Easy Hot Fudge Sauce

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

Yesterday was a big day for our family, our oldest son, LP, headed off to Pre-K!  And one fun fact for you, LP's Pre-K teacher is the same Pre-K teacher that his Dad, My Farmer, had twenty-six years ago!

First Day of Pre-K Celebrations

He will have school every afternoon.  A school van picks him up at our house before noon and then one of his favorite parts - he gets to ride the school bus on the way home.  One of his friends, who is in an older grade, rides the same bus, so it sounds like they had a lot of fun playing together on the way home from school.

LP coming home from his first day of school on the bus
and our dog Bailey waiting patiently
Growing up I was always excited for the first day of school and I was happy that LP had the same feeling that I always did.  The one first day of school tradition I always remember was taking a first day of school photo, so we did a few of those.  LP even had fun taking some photos with our dog and striking some super hero poses.


Other than first day of school photos before hopping on the bus, I don't remember too much more for first day traditions.  But for our little guy I thought it'd be fun to let him to choose supper for the evening (which he chose pancakes and eggs) and to whip up some Easy Hot Fudge Sauce so we could have some ice cream sundaes for dessert.  (I know, what a meal - pancakes, eggs and ice cream...)

Celebrate with Easy Hot Fudge Sauce #AEdairy #ad

Easy Hot Fudge Sauce

1 cup AE Dairy Heavy Whipping Cream
1 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Cocoa Powder, unsweetened
1 pinch Salt

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for 3 minutes, stirring, then remove from heat.  Let sauce cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 1 cup of sauce.

This is such a simple treat to make the next time you celebrate a special occasion, like the first day of school.  It is creamy, rich, and tastes o' so good.  Warning - once you start making homemade hot fudge sauce, you're family will always ask for it when you have ice cream ;)

Celebrate with Easy Hot Fudge Sauce
What first day of school traditions did you have growing up or that you celebrate with your family?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A look at the Presidential Candidate's Favorite Iowa State Fair Food - the Pork Chop on a Stick

If you've been listening to the news over the last week you've probably noticed that every Presidential Candidate has had to get their hands on a Pork Chop on a Stick while attending the Iowa State Fair.  This is really no surprise to me.  The Pork Chop on a Stick is easy to eat (with no awkward photo opportunity - i.e. corn dogs), is a classic "stick" fair food, is one of the healthiest foods on the fairgrounds, showcases Iowa's #1 pork production in the country and it is delicious!

Iowa State Fair Pork Chop on a Stick
The Upper Chop Shop located
east of the Pork Tent
(The Lower Chop Shop is located across
the road from the Livestock Pavilion)



The Pork Chop on a Stick can be found at the Iowa Pork Producer Association's Chop Shops at the Iowa State Fair.  What is really neat is that the chops are cooked and served by pork producer volunteers from across the state.  My Farmer and I have been volunteering at the Chop Shops for the last 9 years we decided last weekend when we were volunteering at our shift this year.






Presidential Candidates and Regular Iowa State Fair Patrons alike can be served a Pork Chop on a Stick
This Iowa State Fair patron is all smiles
as she receives a Pork Chop on a Stick
So you might be asking, what is the Pork Chop on a Stick?  To simply put it, the Pork Chop on a Stick is a French Cut Pork Chop.  This pork chop is cut from the center of the pork loin and leaves the bone in, creating a stick to hold on to for eating on the go, or actually gives it an elegant look if served on a plate.  One question that I get every year serving Pork Chops on a Stick is, "where's the stick?".  It is the bone!  No additional wooden stick needed for this Iowa State Fair food staple.

The Iowa Pork Producers serve around 5,000-6,000 Pork Chops on a Stick daily at the Iowa State Fair.  The chops are put on long racks, that are then inserted into a rotisserie grill.  They cook for about an hour, or til they reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cooking Pork Chops on a Stick at the Iowa State Fair
Top Left: My Farmer and our friend Mike getting chops ready to go in the grill
Bottom Left: Pork Chops on a Stick cooking on the rotisserie grill
Right: My Farmer taking Pork Chops on a Stick off the grill and into serving pans

A look at the Presidential Candidate's (including Donalad Trump) Favorite Iowa State Fair Food - the Pork Chop on a Stick
Our friend Mike graciously let me use one of his
photos from his phone when Donald Trump stopped by
for his Chop on a Stick the day of our volunteer shift
Looking at these photos I'm getting hungry for a Pork Chop on a Stick!  It is no wonder that everyone comes by for one, including Donald Trump ;)  If you are headed to the Iowa State Fair be sure to get a Pork Chop on a Stick and check out my top Fair Food guide too (that includes the Pork Chop on a Stick).  And if you aren't able to make it to the fair, but are still hungry for a pork chop, check out this infographic on how to cook pork chops four different ways.


Our friend Mike, myself and My Farmer
during our Chop Shop volunteer shift
The Pork Tent is always a highlight for our family and friends every year, and this year it is turning out to be the place to go if you're running for President.  What are some of your favorite spots to visit at the Iowa State Fair?  What is your favorite Fair Food?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

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!