Saturday, April 21, 2018

Explore a Century of Iowa Farming at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

Last weekend my family and I traveled to West Branch, Iowa to check out the opening of the "Tall Grass to Knee High" exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.  This new special exhibit shares the stories of Iowa farmers through the last 100 years and the changes and innovations seen throughout the Iowa country-side.

Tall Grass to Knee High: A Century of Iowa Farming  exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa

The exhibit is broken down into scores (twenty years) and each score highlights farm life, people, livestock, crops, conservation, machinery and buildings of that time.  Over the last two years a team of four to five Hoover staff members have been researching, interviewing and building the exhibit.  They got a lot of historical information from both the Iowa Women's Archives in Iowa City and the Grout Museum in Waterloo.  

Tall Grass to Knee High: A Century of Iowa Farming  exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa

I appreciated seeing the voice of women in farming throughout the exhibit.  Journals from Clara Steen Skott and Alma Erickson Swanson, copies of Evelyn Birkby's "Up a Country Lane" newspaper column and copies of my "Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids" blog posts are seen through the scores to share about the people and farm life of our times.  It is an honor to be included the exhibit and to be apart of the large artifacts collection displayed in the exhibit.  (You can find my posts and pictures in both the 1990-2010 and 2010-today scores.)

Tall Grass to Knee High: A Century of Iowa Farming  exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa

My kids loved the children's area in the center of the exhibit.  The space included farm toys, games, farm books and a life sized milking cow.  The location and set up of the kids zone makes it very friendly for parents to look around the perimeter at the artifacts and displays, while the kids are close by keeping entertained with the children's activities.

Tall Grass to Knee High: A Century of Iowa Farming  exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa

Other popular spots in the exhibit that we weren't able to check out as much as we would have liked were the video boards and digital displays, along with the Farmer's Markets section which includes recipes from the Hoover Family, Iowa Girl Eats, Becky's Mindful Kitchen and my blog!  You can grab a copy of my Apple Bacon Jam, Farmers Market Quiche, Easy Pecan Sticky Buns, and Harvest Brats with Apple Slaw recipes in that section.  Luckily for us, through October 28, 2018, the end of the special exhibit, Iowa Farm Bureau members get to visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum for free!  Based off our experience, I would recommend planning two to three hours to be able to visit not only the Tall Grass to Knee High exhibit, but the rest of museum that shares about Hoover's life, as well as his birthplace cottage, grave-site and outdoor exhibits.

Tall Grass to Knee High: A Century of Iowa Farming  exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa
It can be so hard to get a good family photo 😉
Our family enjoyed the opportunity to go to the opening of the "Tall Grass to Knee High" exhibit and meet other people that were interviewed for the exhibit.  It was also special to sit just a few seats down from a couple members of Herbert Hoover's family that were in attendance for the opening.  The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum is worth a day trip for all Iowa families and if you're traveling across Iowa on I-80 the site is just north of the interstate.

Have you ever been to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library?  Have you been to any other Presidential libraries?  What do you enjoy checking out at a museum?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Comments for a Cause - Latimer Little Free Library

Comments for a Cause - Latimer Little Free Library
April is here and it is time to start a new month's worth of Comments for a Cause.  But before we move on to April's cause, let's go over the stats for The Do More Agriculture Foundation.  I believe mental health in agriculture is such an important issue that I added all of my comments from February and March to go towards their efforts.  During that time I had a total of 155 comments which resulted in a donation of $77.50 to Do More Ag.  Thank you all so much for your comments and support for spreading awareness and resources for mental health.

Now for April, I'm excited to helping a local project that is near and dear to my heart, the Latimer Little Free Library.  I am donating $0.50 for every comment made on my blog in April to help the CAL Kindergarten Class's Book Drive for the Latimer Little Free Library.

Comments for a Cause - Latimer Little Free Library

In 2014 I campaigned to the Latimer City Council to use an open lot in downtown to put up a Little Free Library.  The Council unanimously voted to let me use the lot and I have been the steward of Little Free Library #11710 for close to four years now.  Thanks to the Latimer City Council and several community members, books have been available to citizen of all ages 365 days a year.  And now, thanks to my local school district's CAL Kindergarten Class, we'll be adding more books!

The CAL Kindergarten has been learning about taking action to help address local, regional and global problems in their Social Studies unit and as a class, they decided to do a Book Drive to get more books for the Latimer Little Free Library.  I was touched to get contacted by their teacher, Mrs. Koenen, and to hear about their excitement for the campaign.  The Kindergarten class made posters to spread awareness about their Book Drive, and they even made this commercial to share with the students at CAL Community School.


They are also planning on having a Lemonade Stand to raise money for the Latimer Little Free Library and after their campaign is over, they're going to help me give the Little Free Library a new coat of paint.  The Kindergartners enthusiasm is contagious and I wanted to help them out, so I'm donating $0.50 for every comment made on my blog all month long towards their Book Drive!

What is your favorite book?  Do you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood?  Remember to Comment for a Cause all month long to support the CAL Kindergartners taking action in their local community!  I look forward to keeping you posted on their efforts!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

7 Simple Ways to Celebrate Jesus at Easter as a Family

Easter is this Sunday and while yes, my kids are excited to go on Easter Egg Hunts and have their share of Chocolate Easter Bunnies, they are also excited to go to our church's Maundy Thursday Seder and AGAPE Meals tonight and go through our Resurrection Eggs again.  Here are seven ways we focus on Jesus every Easter at our house.

7 Simple Ways to Celebrate Jesus at Easter as a Family

Attend Lent and Holy Week Church Services

Our family enjoys participating in our church's worships and activities throughout the Lent season to help us all to focus on Jesus.  From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, there are many learning opportunities for our entire family.

One of my favorite things that our church does is that we have our weekly Lenten services "on the road" after different area nursing homes.  It is very special for our whole family to participate in those church services not only for us, sharing the Lenten message with others in the community, but the residents at the homes love seeing children. 

Lent Calendar

 A couple years ago I picked up this Lent Calendar for our family and for all of our Godchildren.  Each day from Ash Wednesday to Easter there is a simple activity for everyone to do or to talk about.  Things like - Help a friend, brother or sister, Pray for your family, Read 2 Corinthians 13:14, etc.  All of the activities, prayers or scripture readings don't take a lot of time, but it gets the entire family together to focus and celebrate Lent.  We go over the activity every night at supper because that is when we are all together. 

Resurrection Eggs

We bring out our Resurrection Eggs at the start of Lent every year and go over them periodically throughout the Lenten Season.  We keep them on our coffee table in our living room and our kids love going through them.  If you've never seen or heard of Resurrection Eggs before, it is a set of 12 plastic Easter Eggs that when you open them they have a miniature symbol from Holy Week inside.  There is a book that comes with the set that explains the significance of each object and is great for helping your kids fully understand the story of Easter, as well as opens up discussion about Jesus.

7 Simple Ways to Celebrate Jesus at Easter as a Family - Resurrection Eggs

Share the Easter Story

Growing up I will always remember my Grandma sitting down all my sisters, cousins and I to hear the Easter story every year after Easter dinner.  This still takes place, this time with her great-grandchildren, but we also make sure to share the Easter Story through books and movies throughout Lent.  

At the beginning of Lent we bring out all of our Easter books and set them on the coffee table with our Resurrection Eggs.  Some of my kids favorite Easter books are:   The Story of Easter, The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story, Jesus is Alive and My Easter Basket.  My friend MacKenzie of The Hen House also has a great list of Easter books that her family loves that you should check out too (she also has great resources and posts for sharing Jesus with your kids all year long).  We also breakout movies like The Greatest Adventure - The Easter Story and Heaven is for Real during this time of year, and My Farmer and I always watch The Passion of the Christ too.

Resurrection Rolls

We love making Resurrection Rolls with our kids each year.  We usually make them Saturday night before bed and have them as a small breakfast before heading to Sunrise Service at our church (and then we eat the rest of our breakfast at our church's senior high youth breakfast).  The Resurrection Rolls are both tasty and a fun way of sharing the story of Easter.  Jesus is the marshmallow in the rolls, you roll the marshmallow in butter and cinnamon sugar that represent the spices and linen they wrapped Him in, and then you put the marshmallow in a crescent roll which represents the tomb.  After they bake, the marshmallow is gone, to show how Jesus rose from the dead.  You can get the recipe here from Around My Family Table.

Easter Lily Memorial

Every year our family donates an Easter Lily to our church.  Not only does this help decorate our church, but it is a great way to share a memory and talk about our past loved ones who are now in heaven.  We also love to read The Parable of the Lily with our kids when we do this.

7 Simple Ways to Celebrate Jesus at Easter as a Family - Easter Lilies

Bible Verse Egg Hunt

Our kids love our family's annual Easter Egg Hunt with their cousins after Easter Dinner.  One way we make our hunt more than just candy and spring toys, is in several of their eggs, there is a paper with a Bible verse on it.  The kids either read their Bible verse out loud for everyone to hear or bring it to someone to read it aloud for them.  We also have slips of paper that say things like, tell your Grandma that you love them or give a hug to your Uncle.  Little things to share love on Easter.

7 Simple Ways to Celebrate Jesus at Easter as a Family - Bible Verse Egg Hunt

Easter and the entire Lent season is the perfect opportunity to not only share the sacrifice of Jesus but the love he has for all of us with our children.  My Farmer and I work hard to teach our children about Jesus and to have our family walk with Him.  Here is a link to 3 Simple Ways we Celebrate Jesus at Christmas that you also might like.

What are some of your Christ-centered Easter traditions?  I'd love to know!  Be sure to Comment for a Cause.

***Full disclosure - all links in this post aren't compensated at all.  My family and I truly just enjoy them and believe they are great ways for all families to celebrate Easter.***

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes

Easter is this Sunday and I'm looking forward to celebrating with my family and friends all weekend.  On Sunday, my family and I will attend our church's Sunrise Service, eat at the high school youth's group's Easter Breakfast, and then we'll participate in our church's Easter Egg Hunt.  By the time that is all said and done there isn't much time to get ready for dinner with 20 of our family and friends.  So thanks to the Celebrate 365's Easter Recipes Blog Party, I've got a lot of recipes that will help me to have a great day of fellowship, with delicious food, that won't make me stuck in the kitchen all day.

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes #Celebrate365


Make Ahead Main Dishes

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes - Iowa Ham Balls #Celebrate365

Ham Balls, Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids

Ham Balls are the perfect dish to include at your Easter dinner.  My recipe makes 12 portions and the best part is that you can make these ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator, ready to pop in the oven for an hour when you get home for church.  You can also make them a day before, two days before, a week before, whenever, freeze them, and then warm them up in a crock pot.

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes - Easy Citrus Ham #Celebrate365

Easy Citrus Ham, Jolene's Recipe Journal

This easy ham recipe from Jolene's Recipe Journal is perfect for a busy Easter morning.  I love all of the citrus flavors you'll get from this crock-pot ham recipe and that you'll be able to free up space in your oven by making your ham this way.

Make Ahead Side Dishes

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes - Overnight Salad #Celebrate365

Overnight Salad, Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids

My Overnight Salad recipe is always a winner.  First, it makes a huge salad - enough to feed my entire dinner group of 20!  Second, you make it the night before and all you have to do is mix it up five minutes before you're ready to serve it.  Third, it has bacon in it! 😉

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes - Rainbow Delight Salad #Celebrate365

Rainbow Delight Salad, The Frugal Pantry

This Rainbow Delight Salad not only has bright colors, but it has bright flavors!  Jan of The Frugal Pantry shares how you can make this salad sugar-free too.  This salad is also best after being refrigerated overnight.  Just before you are ready to serve, flip the salad out onto a serving tray and guests can take as big or small of a piece as they'd like.

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes - Deviled Eggs #Celebrate365

Deviled Eggs, A Delightful Glow

Easter isn't complete without some Deviled Eggs, am I right?  And with the amount of hard-boiled eggs I have in my refrigerator after having four kids dying eggs, I always volunteer to bring some!  You can make the hard boiled eggs anytime the week ahead and you can even make the entire deviled egg a day ahead of time.  I usually cut my hard boiled eggs in half and make the inside mixture the day ahead, so then all I have to do the day of is pipe the mixture into the eggs.

Make Ahead Desserts

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes - Easter Egg Blondies #Celebrate365

Easter Egg Blondies, Cooking with Carlee

These Easter Egg Blondies are a perfect dessert for all ages and can be made ahead of time, but warning - probably not too far ahead of time, otherwise you won't have any left...  I actually made these a week ago after seeing them on the Celebrate 365 Blog Party and they were a hit with everyone (and they were gone in just a few days...).

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes - Chocolate Bunny Brownies #Celebrate365

Chocolate Bunny Brownies, Kate's Recipe Box

These brownies are not only festive, but they are simple to make!  They will definitely be an attention getter at your Easter Dinner Dessert table and they are perfect for making ahead of time.  All you'll have to worry about is who gets what part of the bunny while serving the brownies.

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes - Easy Lemon Pie #Celebrate365

Easy Lemon Pie, Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids

I'm looking forward to having a slice of my Easy Lemon Pie on Sunday, and I appreciate that I can make it anytime this week and it'll be ready for Easter.  All you need to do to this simple pie is add a dollop of whipped cream, if you so choose, when serving and you're good to go.

So no matter if you're traveling for Easter or hosting, it is always great to have some recipes you can make ahead of time.  Thanks to everyone that linked up to the Celebrate 365 Easter Recipes Blog Party.  Be sure to check out all 80 recipes shared!  What is on your Easter menu?  Let me know and Comment for a Cause.

Make Ahead Easter Dinner Recipes #Celebrate365

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Strawberry Lemonade Muffins + Giveaway

*This post has been sponsored by Nielsen-Massey Flavors.  
All views and opinions shared are my own.*

No matter what it looks like outside, these Strawberry Lemonade Muffins will bring some sunshine to your day.  They're light, fluffy and full of flavor.

Strawberry Lemonade Muffins - light, fluffy and full of flavor, great way to bring sunshine to your breakfast or brunch #NielsenMasseyInspires #sponsored

I don't know if it is because Easter is a week away, or if it is because we've been having spring weather (up til today where we've had over a foot of snow fall!), but I have been craving lemon lately.  Something about lemon just brightens your day and your taste-buds!  So, when I received a bottle of Nielsen-Massey's Lemon Extract I knew I wanted to make something to brighten the start of my family's day, and I decided these Strawberry Lemonade Muffins would be perfect for breakfast or brunch.

The muffins are light and fully and have everything I'm looking for from strawberry lemonade - the natural sweetness from the strawberries and the zest from the lemon.  This was my first time using lemon extract and I found it very easy and convenient.

When using Nielsen-Massey's Pure Lemon Extract in a recipe:

  • 1/2 tsp of Lemon Extract equals 1 Tbsp of Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp of Lemon Extract equals 1 tsp of Lemon Zest  

This will be a great pantry staple to keep on hand in my kitchen to be able to add a splash of citrus to both sweet and savory recipes.

Strawberry Lemonade Muffins - light, fluffy and full of flavor, great way to bring sunshine to your breakfast or brunch #NielsenMasseyInspires #sponsored

Strawberry Lemonade Muffins

3/4 cup Butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
3 cups Flour
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Milk
1 1/2 cups Strawberries, chopped

Beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed using your stand or hand mixer until fully incorporated and fluffy.  Mix in the lemon extract.  Add the eggs and beat until combined.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Alternating with the milk, add the dry ingredients and milk to the batter, until just incorporated.  Stir in strawberries.

Bake muffins at 350° F for 14 minutes.  Let muffins cool in pan for a couple minutes before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Makes 2 dozen muffins.

Strawberry Lemonade Muffins - light, fluffy and full of flavor, great way to bring sunshine to your breakfast or brunch #NielsenMasseyInspires #sponsored

So now it is your turn to make a batch!  What's your favorite spring flavor?  Be sure to register for my Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract giveaway and as always, Comments for a Cause!

Also, if you're craving lemons as much as I am, here are a few other great recipes to check out:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Strawberry Lemonade Muffins - light, fluffy and full of flavor, great way to bring sunshine to your breakfast or brunch #NielsenMasseyInspires #sponsored

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Gamble of Farming

Yesterday on my Facebook Page I shared a post from Dairy farmer, Dairy Carrie.  She wrote a wonderfully written post about the hard times facing the Dairy industry right now.  I had several followers comment on the post about how they had no idea, and to one I responded that "farming can be a gamble".

The Gamble of Farming

Why is farming such a gamble?

We work hard to make our farm is sustainable by investing in conservation and technology to ensure we are using the best practices.  But even if we are doing everything right, we are still at the mercy of things we can't control like the weather and the markets.  We try to harness those risks through investing in certain seed traits for our crops, by spraying during times of insect and disease pressure, and doing different market strategies to hopefully create a safety net.

But sometimes, like right now, no matter how you play your hand the cards aren't going to win you money and you're just hoping you leave the table (or each year) at a break-even.  Not too long ago we had strong commodity prices and were on a hot streak.  On our farm we used that time to build up assets, pay off long-term debts and build a buffer to help us ride out the low times till the odds were more in our favor.

Some farmers are starting to reach their limit of being able to stay at the table and unfortunately are going bust.  It is so sad to see all the hard-work and dedication of these individuals through the years, if not decades, and even generations have put forth to stay in the game that they love.  This is one reason why I've had such a high interest in mental health in the farming community lately.  In fact, I read the other day with things so hard in the dairy industry right now, that some dairy cooperatives were sending suicide hotline information out with their bills.

So why would you farm?

It may sound silly, but my husband and I farm because we love it.  We love that everyday is "bring your child to work" day and that our four children are learning life skills of hard work, dedication, respect and empathy.  I love that I am carrying on my family's tradition of farming as a 5th generation farmer.  I love that our children get to see multi-generations working together daily.  I love the community of agriculture and that everyone is willing to help one another.

Farming is special and there is no other place I'd rather be than right here on our farm, building on both my husband's and my family's legacies for the future generation, our children.

The Gamble of Farming - why would you farm?

I hope you all have a great National Ag Day and I would love to hear any of your questions you have about farming.  As always, be sure to Comment for a Cause.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Get Ready for Easter with #Celebrate365

Easter is just two weeks away, so to help you get ready, I have partnered with my Celebrate 365 co-hosts (Carlee from Cooking with Carlee, Jan of The Tip Garden and Nicole of Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom) to host an Easter Recipes Blog Party!

Easter Recipes Blog Party - Link up your favorite brunch, dinner, appetizer and dessert recipes to celebrate Easter with #Celebrate365

I'm looking forward to celebrating Easter this year with my Mom, sisters and their families, my in-laws, my sister-in-law and her family, and a couple close family friends.  I feel lucky that we all get along so well and that we are able to celebrate together.  We enjoy sharing food and fellowship together, and we have a lot of fun doing our annual Easter Egg hunts (both children and adult versions).

On this year's menu we're having both ham and pork loin.  (Would you expect anything other than all pork from my family and I 😉)  I'm going to smoke the pork loin with my All-Purpose Pork Rub.  The rub is spicy with a little sweetness and is perfect on the outside of pork loin.

All-Purpose Pork Rub - perfect for smoking and grilling pork loin or roasts

As for a side dish, I love making my Overnight Salad for gatherings of family and friends.  This recipe makes a huge salad and one of the best parts is that you make it the night before!  All you have to do the day of, is mix the layers around five minutes before serving.  And another great part of this lettuce salad is that it has bacon in it!

Overnight Salad - easy and delicious dish to make for family and friend gatherings that you can make ahead of time

For dessert, I can't wait to share my Easy Lemon Pie with everyone.  The bright flavors of this pie will make everyone excited for spring.  I love the layers of lemon and cream cheese, which make each bite sweet and zesty!

Easy Lemon Pie - sweet and zesty, simple to make, and perfect for spring and Easter

So how about you?  I want to see what you're planning on making for Easter this year.  Bloggers are welcome to link-up all of their favorite spring foods perfect for Easter.  I'm looking forward to seeing everyone share their appetizer, salad, main dish, dessert, and brunch recipes.

What are your favorite Easter recipes?  Remember to Comment for a Cause and link up your best recipes!