Friday, July 1, 2016

Country Fair Blog Party: July 2016

It's hard to believe it is July 1st! July is the heart of County Fair season in Iowa, and is at the heart of this Country Fair Blog Party.  Before I share how you can link up to this month's Blog Hop, here are the Blue Ribbon Winners from June's Country Fair Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Oak Hill Homestead's 10 Things I've Stopped Buying
During last month's Blog Party, Oak Hill Homestead's 10 Things I've Stopped Buying, was the most viewed post from the link-up!  Congrats to Kathi on getting the most clicks and receiving a Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon!  This post includes several things that she now makes at home, rather than buying in the store, to not only save some money but to have control on what all is in the product.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: A Delightful Glow's Rhubarb Surprise Pie
Each month I ask you to comment on what blog post you liked the most from the link-up and this month's Reader's Choice (and a favorite of mine as well) Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon goes to A Delightful Glow's Rhubarb Surprise Pie.  Isn't Deborah's combination of a crumb crust and cutouts beautiful on this pie before she baked it.  You better check out this post to get the recipe and to discover what the surprise is!

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Learning As I Go's Guilt Free Strawberry Freeze
My final Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon goes to Learning As I Go's Guilt Free Strawberry Freeze.  I'm all about finding alternatives to ice cream.  Even though my family (and I) loved going on our Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip last month in honor of June Dairy Month, I know I don't need to eat that much ice cream, especially weekly.  In fact, now that Miss R is six weeks old, I'm working on eating healthier and exercising daily.  But that still doesn't take away the craving for something cool and sweet at night!  So I'm excited to try Katy's Guilt Free Strawberry Freeze soon!  It'll be a great recipe to add to my healthy, cool treat recipe arsenal with my 3 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet.

Join the Country Fair Blog Party by linking up to 3 of your favorite food, family, farming, crafts, canning, etc. posts!
I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up to this month's 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 of 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 Comments for a Cause!

Monday, June 27, 2016

3 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet

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

We have been having some hot summer days lately on the farm.  And it seems like each night my whole family wants something to cool down with for dessert.  Since my family is already eating plenty of ice cream this month since we've been going on our Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip, I wanted to make an alternative.  So I got to thinking about some of my family's favorite summer flavors.  We love lemonade and strawberries are in season now - so I thought, why not marry the two and make a Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet!

This Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet is not only easy, but a delicious, healthy treat.  I used AE Dairy's Reduced Sugar Lemonade, which has a third less sugar than regular lemonade, in the recipe, along with fresh strawberries and a lemon.  You get the natural sweetness from the strawberries, along with a little tartness from the lemonade.  This turned out to be a great, light and refreshing alternative to ice cream for our family, and we especially loved eating it immediately after it came out of the ice cream maker!

3 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet #AEdairy

Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet

1 pound Strawberries
1 lemon (for juice and zest)

In a blender combine lemonade, strawberries, the juice of half of a lemon and a tsp of zest.  Blend till smooth.  Then put in ice cream maker and mix till desired consistency using directions from your ice cream maker.

Makes six servings. Serve immediately. Freeze leftovers up to one month.

3 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet #AEdairy

What do you turn to, to help cool down during the summer?

Popsicle?
Smoothie?
Remember to Comment for a Cause and let me know your favorite way to cool down.  I'll choose one of the commenters of this post at random in two weeks and will send them a coupon to try AE Dairy's Reduced Sugar Lemonade!  And what a better cause to comment for to go along with a Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet than Alex's Lemonade Stand!

3 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet #AEdairy

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip to Clarksville and New Day Dairy

One of my favorite things about the month of June is that it's National Dairy Month and that for the last couple of years our family has celebrated by going on an Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip!  I mean, what better way to celebrate than by visiting an Iowa Ice Cream destination each week during the month.  You gotta do, what you gotta do, to show your support, right?

We've been to some amazing places in the last two years, and we have even named our overall top soft serve and hard ice cream spots in the state.  Will one of this year's ice cream parlors be a new favorite?  We will see - and our family has agreed to do the hard work of eating ice cream each week to determine the answer.

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Decorah, Hudson, LeMars, Mason City, Des Moines, Iowa City, Ventura, Osage
Top left corner, then clockwise: The Whippy Dip, Decorah;
Hansen's Dairy, Hudson; Blue Bunny, LeMars; Birdsall's, Mason City;
Snookies Malt Shop, Des Moines; Heyn's Ice Cream, Iowa City;
Viking Drive-Inn, Ventura; Stan's Drive-In, Osage

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Celebrating June Dairy Month - New Day Dairy and Baking Memories in Clarksville
To start off our 3rd Annual Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip we thought we should start by visiting the source of our ice cream by touring New Day Dairy farm in rural Clarksville.  Dan and Lynn Bolin, owners and operators of New Day Dairy, were kind enough to show us around their robotic dairy farm during the first week of the month.

New Day Dairy, Clarksville, Iowa Robotic Freestall Barn
Miss A loved talking to the cows
So what is a robotic dairy?  New Day Dairy has a couple robotic features that enables the family to be more efficient and increases their flexibility.  The most noteworthy robotic feature is their milking robot, which the Bolin's affectionately have named Rita.  Rita cleans each cow's teats and then attaches the milking cup to each teat to start milking.  The robot then measures the flow of milk so it knows when to take each milking unit off.  There are two stalls on either side of Rita; the robot can milk one cow on one side while cleaning and attaching the milking cups to another cow on the other side.  Each one of their 100 cows has it's own RFID (radio frequency identification) anklet that Rita reads when they come to visit.  When a cow comes in, the robot identifies her and depending on how long it's been since she last milked, Rita either starts milking her or sends her out to come back later.  A traditional dairy farm milks twice a day.  At New Day Dairy a cow can be milked at any time of day, and up to a few times a day, if the cow is interested and Rita agrees the cow is good to do so.  The other automated features include a manure scraper that scrapes the alleyways of their freestall barn every three hours that helps keep the barn clean, and Freddie the Feed Pusher.  Dan puts out a feed ration for the cows.  But Freddie helps move the feed back to a reachable area every four hours, because over time, the cows' noses push the feed too far away.  Freddie also beeps to remind the cows that they want to go have another snack, get a drink and get milked again.

I couldn't help but think of our pig barns while visiting New Day Dairy.  We have several automated features that allow us too to be more efficient and have more flexibility.  But every once in awhile something goes wrong and our pig buildings call us - literally call our phones.  In fact they call My Farmer first, me second and our home phone third (and then repeated if necessary but that usually never needs to happen).  The Bolin's dairy barn does the same thing.  Rita calls anytime of day (or night!) if something is not right.

New Day Dairy, Clarksville, Iowa Robotic Freestall Barn
A view from the loft.
Rita is in the white box in the center of the barn.
Dan and Lynn don't have to go far to fix any problems or do their chores, because the two of them, along with their daughter and son, literally live in the barn.  The barn was built with a three-bedroom guest house attached, that has a viewing area in the second floor loft.  Lynn said that the kids love to check out the cows from the loft and are very attentive to all of the cows.  Their future plans including building a house on an adjacent property for their family and opening up their guest house at the barn to visitors.

New Day Dairy, Clarksville, Iowa Baby Calves
Miss A, Mr. K and Miss L checking out
the baby calves

Following our tour at New Day Dairy (which I'm pretty sure their kids and our kids could have played for hours) we traveled into the town of Clarksville and went to Baking Memories.  Baking Memories is a new ice cream shop in a familiar ice cream location.  They serve many flavors of Iowa's own Blue Bunny Ice Cream in whatever way you'd like - cup, cone, shake or sundae.  It was the perfect treat after a sunny, summer day!

Have you ever heard of a robotic dairy before?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, June 24, 2016

The New "Kids" on the Farm

Let me start by saying, no, this is not a pregnancy announcement, but an announcement about a new type of kid that has joined our current "Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids" - Goat Kids!  If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you've already gotten a glimpse at our new kids, but now I'm officially sharing the news here!

The New "Kids" on the Farm - Bottle Goat project
Mr. K and Miss A with Chewy and Boy
Last week we bought two male dairy goats as a bottle project for Mr. K for the County Fair.  Growing up I loved raising sheep and pigs, and I always wanted our kids to have the same experience.  Our county has a great "pre 4-H" program for the County Fair, and I was excited to discover that Mr. K was old enough to participate this year.  Since it was already June, it was impossible to find a bottle lamb, so we went with the best alternative and got two bottle goats.

The New "Kids" on the Farm - Bottle Goat project
Miss L and Boy hanging out on the gator
The goats which Mr. K named Chewy (because goats like to chew things) and Miss A named Boy (because he is a male), are now three weeks old.  The kids will bottle feed the kids (baby goats) till they are six weeks old.  After that time they will eat a pelleted feed.

The New "Kids" on the Farm - Bottle Goat project
Miss A and Mr K doing morning chores
of bottle feeding the goats
The best part of having the goats on our farm is that the kids have the responsibility of taking care of them - feeding in the morning before breakfast and in the evening after supper, are learning about animal handling and care by getting the goats halter broke, and they're simply having fun!

The New "Kids" on the Farm - Bottle Goat project
Who am I kidding, I'm having fun too!
Have your children or you yourself ever participated in a "bottle" program?  What questions do you have about the kids' kids?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

2016 Family Summer Bucket List

Each summer our family loves creating a Summer Bucket List.  I am personally a "list person", so creating an annual bucket list helps me keep track of everyone's wishes for summer fun.  We have had a lot of fun the last few years (2015, 2014, 2013) crossing things off our list and making memories (some of which have even become traditions).  I'm sure this summer will be no different!

2016 Family Summer Fun Bucket List

This year's Summer Bucket List includes things that we have done in the past, things we want to do more of, and some new things!

Last year we went on a vacation in Alaska and went fishing every day.  Ever since we've gotten back from that trip, the kids have been asking to go fishing again.  So this summer we're going to go fishing at our local lake during Iowa's Free Fishing Weekend - June 3-5.

We have had camping on our Summer Bucket List every year but have yet do it (besides backyard camping)!  This year we'd love to rent a camper (or buy a new one - our old one isn't "livable" anymore) and go camping at one of our local campgrounds.  Both My Farmer and I use to go camping all the time when we were first married in an old pop-up camper.  But once we started having kids we haven't been back.  Our plan is to have that change this summer!

You can't go camping without campfire pizza pockets, hobo packets, campfire apple pies, or s'mores.  S'mores are such a classic summer food and we plan on making them camping and just for fun at our house.

Last year we went Letterboxing once and this year we'd like to go on more letterboxing adventures in our area and when we are traveling.  We have our letterboxing journal and ink pad in the van, ready for our next endeavor.

Inspired by Jen from Just a Mom giving it a TRI, this summer we'd like to have some pizza and park family nights.  What is more fun and easier than grabbing a pizza and taking it to a local park for some good food and fun.  Our kids love going to the park and love pizza - so this is a perfect summer combination for some family fun.

It has been a couple of years since we've been to the Des Moines Zoo, so we'd like to go again this summer, especially because they have a Curious George exhibit going on right now - and we have big Curious George fans in our family.  We are also going on a family vacation to St. Louis this summer and we have plans on going to their zoo too.

We aren't being picky, but we'd like to go to a Science or Children's Museum this summer.  We are planning on going to the St. Louis Science Center on our family vacation, and we are interested in doing a day trip to the Iowa Children's Museum.

Each summer our family gets a membership to our local golf course but it always seems like we don't make time to go golfing.  We have actually already been golfing once this year and hope to do more golfing on Sundays after church.

So there is a look into our family's Summer Bucket List.  What is on your family's list for this year?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Comments for a Cause - Alex's Lemonade Stand

Comments for a Cause - Alex's Lemonade Stand
June is here along with the summer weather and schedules.  Despite those summer schedules, I couldn't go any longer without telling you about this month's Comments for a Cause.  But before I get to that I need to recap last month's cause, Lullaby Lane.  Thank you to all 79 comments last month that helped me give a donation of $39.50 to this local project that will give those that have suffered a miscarriage a place to grieve and pray.  I was amazed by the amount of support for this cause and comments made last month.  I appreciate everyone gathering around this effort despite my limited blog posts last months due to my "maternity leave".

In the month of June I'm excited to be donating $0.50 for every comment to made on my blog to Alex's Lemonade Stand.

Comments for a Cause - Alex's Lemonade Stand
I first heard of Alex's Lemonade Stand on the radio, as some local radio personalities hosted a lemonade stand, along with a local youth listener, to benefit this organization.  Alex's Lemonade Stand is a national organization that raises money to fight childhood cancer.

When Alexandra "Alex" Scott was four years old she decided to make "lemonade out of lemons" and set up a lemonade stand to help the doctors of "her hospital" help kids like her.  See, Alex had been fighting neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer, since before her first birthday.  In 2000, on the first day of her lemonade stand, set up in her front yard in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, she raised over $2000.  Alex set up a lemonade stand each year with her brothers after that till she passed away in 2004.  Her legacy, and tradition of hosting lemonade stands, continues today through the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Today Alex's Lemonade Stand raises money and awareness of childhood cancer, primarily through research into new treatments and cures.  They also strive to encourage and empower others, especially children, to get involved and make a difference for children with cancer.  Simply by, "one cup at a time" since that first lemonade stand in 2000, Alex's Lemonade Stand has raised over $120 million.  That money has funded more than 550 research projects, created a travel program to help support families of children receiving treatment and has developed resources to help those affected by childhood cancer.

So help me this month, through "one comment at a time", help raise awareness and money for childhood cancer through Alex's Lemonade Stand.  Hopefully you'll be hearing more about this organization in the coming week as the nationwide event, Alex's Lemonade Days, is set for June 10th-12th.  Have you ever been to a Alex's Lemonade Stand event or stand before?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Country Fair Blog Party: June 2016

Happy June 1st and the start of a new Country Fair Blog Party!  Before I share how you can link-up to this month's Blog Hop, here are the Blue Ribbon Winners from May's Country Fair Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Just Plain Living's How to Keep House Like A Mennonite
During last month's Blog Party, Just Plain Living's How to Keep House Like a Mennonite, was the most viewed post from the link-up!  Congrats to Marie on getting the most clicks and receiving a Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon!  This post includes some helpful tips and strategies, mixed with a little humor.  You'll have to check it out!

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: My Other More Exciting Self's Southwest Turkey Chopped Salad
Each month I always pin several new recipes from the Blog Party.  In May, one of my Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbons goes to My Other More Exciting Self's Southwest Turkey Chopped Salad.  Lara does a great job of sharing turkey recipes on her blog and I can't wait to try this salad.  It sounds like the perfect summer dinner!

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Vickie's Kitchen and Garden's 8 Ideas to Get Kids Interested in Gardening
My final Country Fair Blog party Blue Ribbon goes to Vickie's Kitchen and Garden's 8 Ideas to Get Kids Interested in Gardening.  As a Mom with four little kids (only two of which are really old enough to be of some real help in the garden) I loved these ideas on how to get the kids involved.  In fact this week we followed one of her tips and checked out some "gardening" books from the library.  The kids have been having fun reading them before we go out to check on the garden.  Be sure to check out the post for all of Vickie's ideas!

Join the Country Fair Blog Party by linking up to 3 of your favorite food, family, farming, crafts, canning, etc. posts!
I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up to this month's 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 of 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 Comments for a Cause!