Friday, May 30, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday to our Baby Girl!

A year ago today we welcomed our second-born, a beautiful baby girl, MP.

And now, I know it will sound cliche, but I can't believe that she is 1 year old!

We had family over to our house on Monday for dinner to help our Little Miss MP celebrate.  We decided to go with a Butterfly theme and had a great time.  Here is a glimpse at MP's 1st Butterfly Birthday Party:

Butterfly Birthday Party Invitation - Footprint Butterfly
We made butterfly birthday invitations by making butterflies
from two painted foot prints
Butterfly Birthday Party Decorations
We had butterflies hung throughout the house
with pictures of MP on them for decorations
Butterfly Birthday Cake
Here is MP's Chocolate Butterfly Cake made from
4 heart cakes and 4 cupcakes with candy decorations
MP had plenty of help opening her gifts
from her big brother and cousin 
She got into it too by carefully examining and opening everything
She also had fun testing out several of her toys such as her grocery cart,
first pink tractor, 
and baby doll bed.
After presents it was time to sing "Happy Birthday" and blow out her candle
and eat cake and homemade ice cream!
Happy 1st Birthday MP!
We Love You Very Much!
What is your favorite birthday tradition?  Remember to Comment for a Cause.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Family Summer Bucket List

With Memorial Day behind us and the 1st of June a couple days away, it seems like it is time to announce my family's Summer Bucket List!

Family Summer Bucket List - Exploring Iowa and the Midwest

This year our family came up with a list of 10 things to do this summer that lead us to explore our backyard of North Iowa, some places across Iowa, and to travel the Midwest.  Combine this list with our Family Summer Bucket List from last year, and it looks like we have a fun summer ahead of us!

  1. Go Camping at Beed's Lake or Pine Lake 
  2. Host a Baconfest on our farm
  3. Check out RAGBRAI Byciclist as they come through North Iowa
  4. Have fun at a Surf Ballroom Rock "n" Tots lesson
  5. Watch one of the Fireworks Shows during the Pyrotechnics Guild International (PGI) convention
  6. Go to an Iowa Cubs Baseball Game
  7. Shop the Des Moines Farmer's Market
  8. Visit a Science Center or Children's Museum
  9. Go on an Iowa Ice Cream Trip
  10. Continue our Tradition of going on a Family Vacation

We are so excited to check these items off our list and to share our experiences on the blog!  What is on your Summer Bucket List?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pork Belongs On Your Fork!

This month I had the pleasure and opportunity to talk Pork through the Iowa Food & Family Project's blog and through an event at Jethro's in Johnston as part of their "Join my Journey" program.

Join My Journey at Jethro's in Johnston with Val or Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids, Kristin of Iowa Girl Eats and Nicole of Farm Girl Facts of Life
Here I am with Kristin of Iowa Girl Eats and Nicole of Farm Girl Facts of Life
at Jethro's in Johnston
Be sure to check out the Iowa Food & Family Project's blog today to check out some of my favorite pork recipes, because afterall, every day is a great day to have have pork on your fork!

What is your favorite pork recipe?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Honor, Reflect and Remember this Memorial Day

Honor. Reflect. Remember. Memorial Day, Arlington National Cemetery
I was honored to spend Memorial Day 2006 at Arlington National Cemetery

Why does it seem that today's culture has turned so many holidays into something else.  Memorial Day was established to honor our country's fallen soldiers and today it seems to have just turned into another three-day weekend.  Since our nation first began fighting for our freedom in the 1700s, more than one million Americans have lost their lives while serving our country.  Today's blog to remind everyone what the real "reason for the season" is and to put "Memorial" back into your Memorial Day weekend.

Finding a lost loved one on the Vietnam Wall Memorial - Honor, Reflect and Remember this Memorial Day
My Farmer found his uncle's name on the Vietnam Wall Memorial
during a trip to Washington DC in 2012

I am proud that my kids, only being 3 and under, know the tradition of visiting the graves of past loved ones and praying for them.  I am proud that today we celebrated as a family and were also able to talk to my youngest sister who is currently deployed in Kosovo.  I am proud to show my patriotism through simple things like flying a flag, to more involved things like being a township delegate at my county's convention the last several years.  Lastly, I am proud, and forever grateful for the service of all our men and women over the years who have fought and are continuing to fight for our country's independence.

Happy Memorial Day and Blessings to All of You!  How did you put "Memorial" into your Memorial Day weekend?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Enjoying Today

Some days you've got to leave the laundry...

Forget your dirty house...

And just enjoy a nice day and play with your kids.

I hope you all had as great of a day as I did today.  (And how in the world did it get to be Wednesday already?!)  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Signs that Spring FINALLY arrived!

Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids - Corn Planting
We finally have been able to plant corn this week
Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids: Corn Planter and Tractor
Our corn planter and tractor
Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids:  Garden plants and Flowers ready to plant
I got all of my garden plants and flowers picked up
Now I just need to get them planted!
Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids: Tulip in Bloom
Tulip in bloom
What is your favorite sign of spring?  Is spring delayed where you live?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Where to put your Vegetable Garden

Today is an exciting day for me and my mother-in-law, we're going to our local FFA chapter's green house to get some vegetable plants and annual flowers!  But before I buy my plants, I better figure out where to put my garden!  See, this will be the first year of having a garden at our current acreage.  We always had one at our old acreage and it was easy to decide where to put it because we knew where my husband's grandfather had kept his.  But at our new place, we're starting from scratch.  I'm sure at one point in time the former owners had a garden but there is no evidence of a garden now.  So deciding where to place my vegetable garden was exciting and a little nerve-racking at the same time.  So after some research and personal knowledge from my past experiences, I have decided to place my garden here:

Where to put your Vegetable Garden
My garden's future home
Many factors played into me making my decision on where to place my vegetable garden and I thought I'd share these factors with you to help you when deciding where to place your vegetable garden:

Where to put your Vegetable Garden
  • Place your garden in a well drained soil.  You should pick a level area to help with drainage and also to limit erosion.
  • Pick an area with full sunlight.  Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of sunlight.  If you garden is going to be close to a building structure or your home, consider placing it on the south side if available or on the east or west side.
  • Be sure to place your garden away from trees and shrubs.  Trees and shrubs will compete with your garden plants for water and nutrients.
  • Also, make sure to think convenience when planning your garden's location.  Make sure it is near your home where you'll see or walk by it daily.  Also, it is a good idea to make sure you can reach your garden at least within two hose lengths, otherwise you'll be carrying water a long ways (which might sound like a good exercise plan at the beginning of the season, but by the end of the summer you will most likely have wished the garden was closer.)
  • Now at the same time you'll need to keep your garden away from high traffic areas.  Don't place your garden where your kids like to run around and play and don't put it where vehicles (and tractors if you're like me) drive.
This year, similar to past years, I'll be planting a salsa garden.  I love canning salsa and pizza sauce, plus I think salsa garden vegetables are relatively simple to take care of.  Below is an outline of my garden this year.  I'm going to intercrop my garden between long-season vegetables (i.e. tomatoes, peppers), next to short-season vegetables (i.e. radishes, onions).  The short-season vegetables will be harvested before the height of the summer and will be removed, allowing more room for the long-season vegetables.

Salsa Garden Plan - Intercropping Vegetable Garden

Do you plant a garden?  What plants are you including in your plan for this year?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

I went to the #IAblogger meet-up last week and was inspired to try setting up my own Linky Party.  So here we go!  Link up your garden posts (tips, plans, recipes, etc.) here:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Celebrate with Homemade Ice Cream

I love how food can make us think of special memories and traditions, and in our family, one food that is tied to pretty much every celebration is Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.  I thought this would be perfect to share today as part of one of my blogger friends, Ally's, virtual baby shower.  Ally blogs at Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats where she shares lots of simple and delicious recipes.  She is expecting her third child in mid-May, and Yudith at Blissfully Delicious and Steph at Been There, Baked That thought it'd be great if some fellow Iowa Food Bloggers put together some recipes for a virtual baby shower for Ally.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream #Recipe - the perfect food to celebrate with

Besides Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream being a classic celebration food for my family, I also think it is a must have for every pregnant woman and a perfect treat at a baby shower.  (Plus I know Ally has been craving sweets during this pregnancy!)

Before I share my recipe, I need to clue you into my top two tips to make perfect Homemade Ice Cream:
  1. You have to use a good quality vanilla.  I feel like you can never go wrong with Watkins Vanilla.
  2. You need to use a classic, 4 qt. or 6 qt., electric ice cream maker like this one.  In my opinion, the older, the better.  I actually use a hand me down ice cream maker from my in-laws that they got at the beginning of their marriage.
Alright, done with the tips, now to dive into a delicious bowl of Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (that is after about 30-40 minutes of letting your ice cream maker turn!)

4 eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 quart half & half
1/2 gallon whole milk

Whisk eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and half & half together.  Pour into canister.  Then pour whole milk up to fill line.  Put canister into ice cream bucket with ice and ice cream salt around canister and let run 30-40 minutes until thick and smooth.  Enjoy at your next celebration!

Congratulations early to Ally and be sure to check out the rest of the virtual baby shower recipes by checking out both Yudith and Steph's host pages.  Michelle at Simplify, Live, Love, Kierstan at Life in Iowa, Jenny at In The Kitchen with Jenny and Jenni at Jenni Eats are also all participating in today's virtual baby shower.

When you think about planning a baby shower, what foods would you include?  Remember to Comment for  Cause!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Comments for a Cause - Team Red, White & Blue

Happy May Day everyone!  It is the first of the month and time to report my Comments for a Cause results for the previous month and announce the new month's cause!  So first thing, in the month of April I had 30 comments while equals a $15 contribution to the Wennerstrom Family Mission Trip to Honduras with Prairie Ridge Church.  I'm happy to support the Wennerstrom Family's Mission Trip and pray that they have a safe trip to Honduras and that each of their faiths is enriched by the experience.

Now onto May's cause!  I'm proud to be donating $0.50 for every comment during the month of May to Team Red, White and Blue.  I talked about Team RWB last Veteran's Day and wanted to continue increasing awareness and support for this great organization that helps new Veterans after they re-enter civilian life by creating a positive community.  I thought what better way for you all to learn about Team RWB from other than Des Moines's Team RWB Chapter Captain, Brandon Holtan.  Here is what Holtan shared about Team RWB:

Team Red White and Blue also known as Team RWB is a national non-profit organization which strives to enrich the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.  The team is in place for veterans returning home from Iraq or Afghanistan who are transitioning back to their lives at home.  However you do not need to be a veteran to be part of the team.  We rely on our community members to help bridge the gap between the military lifestyle and the civilian world.  Team RWB is building strong communities across the country.  Team RWB Des Moines and Team RWB Cedar Rapids / Iowa City are growing communities right here in Iowa.

Team RWB Des Moines at the Red Flannel Run - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids May Comments for a Cause
Members of Team RWB Des Moines at the Red Flannel Run this winter
Holtan is on the far left
We engage veterans and community members alike to workout together on a weekly basis.  We also encourage members to compete in local athletic events such as 5K's, mud runs, bike rides, Marathons, Triathlons, Crossfit games, GORUCK events, and several other challenging adventures.  The social aspect of Team RWB provides members with another opportunity to build strong relationships.  We meet up for BBQ's, tailgates, and we've started our own breakfast club to experience all that Des Moines' diners have to offer.  That's what we do, but the Eagle Ethos gives you an idea of why we do it.

Team RWB Des Moines running Living History Farms race - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids May Comments for a Cause
Members of Team RWB Des Moines
running the Living History Farms race in 2013
The Eagle Ethos was crafted using six words that uniquely characterize Team RWB and distinguish our organization from others. While there are certain principles that all nonprofits should adhere to, these are the things that make our Team special. The Eagle Ethos can be clearly captured in an instant with a single snapshot or demonstrated over time. It can be displayed outwardly or held inside as fuel for action. But it is pervasive throughout Team RWB and known intimately by each team member who puts on that red shirt. The Eagle Ethos is passion, people, positivity, commitment, camaraderie, and community…and Team RWB lives it in action every day.
+ Passion – we care more, we work harder, and we share our story
+ People – veterans and community drive everything we do
+ Positivity – we don’t ignore the challenges, we just stay positive and attack them
+ Commitment – we are dedicated to each other, our mission, and our communities
+ Camaraderie – we improve lives through genuine, personal relationships
+ Community – this is what we are building…at every level
Let me start with a little background about myself.  I enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating high school.  I was stationed 1,000 miles away from home for over 4 years and deployed to Iraq in 2006 and 2008.  After returning from deployment in 2008 I married my high school sweetheart and made the transition from living in the barracks on base with a few hundred Marines to an apartment in West Des Moines with my wife.  One day I was wearing a uniform familiar with my daily routine and the next day I was driving half way across the country finding my way back home.

I connect with the camaraderie within Team RWB and the effort to assist veterans during their transition from active service to civilian life.  I had a strong support network of family and friends to rely on, but I was the only veteran in my circle of friends.  I lost touch with the camaraderie of the military lifestyle.  After finishing my degree and being in the workforce for 3 years I had finally come to know a few dozen veterans who had similar life experiences and who I felt most comfortable around.  

Team RWB Des Moines at their Bacon Sizzle social - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids May Comments for a Cause
Team RWB Des Moines members at their Bacon Sizzle social gathering
When I read about Team RWB in the Marine Corps Times I was inspired to build a community here in Des Moines.  I've reached out to everyone I know to spread the word about Team RWB and establish key relationships within supporting organizations.  We have a membership of approx 250 with about 150 veterans and 100 community members.  Des Moines has an awesome leadership team and we are taking steps to become a strong local resource for veterans.

For more information visit our website  If you want to join our team please visit and sign up or check out our Facebook page or

So lets be sure to Comment for a Cause a lot this month to support this growing organization helping so many veterans and communities across the United States!  I know how much this group means to my family members who are veterans.  Veterans are looking for this camaraderie and community when they return to civilian life and Team RWB is filling this need and a want to level that I don't think these veterans realized they needed and wanted.

Do you know a new Veteran looking for a community like this?  If so, share with them about Team RWB!