Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

A view of our snow covered field with my in-laws acreage in the background
It is official.  Harvest is over and winter has begun.  We've had snow for a solid week now on the ground and I don't see it going anywhere, anytime soon.  Thankfully we finished combining on Monday of last week (November 18th) and since then we worked on a variety of fall field work (fall tillage, manure application, anhydrous application, tiling, etc.)  With the freezing of the ground and the chilly temperatures our farm work will turn to inside jobs like equipment repair, tax preparation and planning for the 2014 crop season.

The 2013 crop season has been one for the books.  We started with wet conditions and then got dry as the summer went on.  Our crops had a variety of yields and left us wondering if we could really learn anything from this year besides the benefit of a corn and soybean rotation.  But that is the great thing about farming, you get to start fresh every year.

So here's to changing the pace and moving on to winter farm work!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas Gifts for the Entire Family

One of the items on my to-do list this week is to work on Christmas Wish Lists.  This includes not only figuring out my family's wish list, but also deciding what gifts I'm giving others for Christmas.  I know I always appreciate some extra ideas to help with Christmas gifts so I figured I'd share some ideas from my family.

The Rural Outdoors Dad (aka My Farmer)

Muck Boots:  If your husband works outside and has chores to do every day, then he is going to love a pair of Muck Boots!  My Farmer started wearing Muck Boots a couple years ago and will never go back to plain ol' black rubber boots.  Muck Boots are high quality, comfortable and durable.

Leatherman Wave:  This multi-tool knife is a must for My Farmer.  He wears it on his belt every day.  You never know when you might need one of its countless tools from a pair of pliers, to wire cutters, to a ruler, to a bottle opener.  

Two if by Tea:  For the tea lover and or the Rush Limbaugh fan (which describes My Farmer to the tee - hehehe had to do it), this delicious tea, available in a variety of flavors, is perfect as a stocking stuffer or a fun gift.  If you don't have a local business that sells it in your area (which is something the tea promotes - small business owners), you can buy it online.

Bacon is Meat Candy T-Shirt:  My Farmer and I love bacon - eating it, making it and raising it.  He loves the saying that "bacon is meat candy", so when I saw this t-shirt I knew I just had to get it for him.  So if you have a bacon lover or just a fun guy on your list be sure to get him one of these.

Stanley Thermos:  It never seems like we can have enough thermoses at our house.  I don't know what happens to them, but we always can use another.  And nothing beats a Stanley Thermos.  They're nothing fancy but they do a great job keeping My Farmer's coffee warm.  (And I just have to go with Stanley because that is my mother's maiden name.)

The Mom Who Loves To Cook (aka Me)

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays:  If you haven't gotten the Pioneer Woman's recently published cookbook then you better put it on your list.  She includes recipes for New Years to Christmas and everything in between.  I actually got this after it was released on October 29th and am really enjoying it.  I love how it is organized by holidays and has a variety of recipes for each special day.

Magnetic Measuring Spoons:  Are you always looking for your measuring spoons or don't like having to move the spoons around a ring, well then these magnetic measuring spoons are for you!  Another great bonus, they have two ends - one narrow end to fit in spice jars and one rounder end for liquids.  These measuring spoons are very practical and a must for the cook or baker in your life.

Knife Sharpener:  So you got a knife block when you got married and love using a few of its knives, but when was the last time you sharpened your knives?  Dull knives cause injury more than sharp, so get a knife sharpener to not only cut your food easier, but also safer.

Cute Egg Rings:  Whether it is for eggs or pancakes a cute egg ring makes the perfect stocking stuffer.  And think beyond the basic circle - find a heart, pig, cow, or even an egg ring in the shape of your state.  These will make breakfast fun for all ages.

Prime Cut Apron:  I don't know if I have ever shared this on my blog before but I have an apron collection.  Every apron has been worn at least once but I do have some favorites that get worn regularly.  I wear an apron when hosting, washing dishes and while picking up toys...  When I saw this apron I just knew I needed it in my collection!  (And the dish cloth too)

The On-the-Go Toddler Boy (aka LP)

Tractors, Implements and Trucks:  What toddler boy doesn't like everything with wheels?  Our LP loves everything about farming so we are planning on adding to his carpet farming fleet this Christmas.  This website has a huge catalog of all kinds, models and brands.

A Place to Store The Carpet Farming Fleet:  We got this for LP when he was just 10 month old to start storing his tractors, trucks, farm animals, etc.  It double as a storage box and then zips down to a play farm mat.  And if a farm mat/storage box isn't your toddlers thing, they also make dinosaurs, castles, speedways, etc.

Keep Calm and Farm On T-Shirt:  Did I mention we have a little farm boy on our hands?  Every year for Christmas our kids get one piece of clothing.  I love this t-shirt for the farm boy or farm girl in your life.  It comes in a variety of colors.

Zingo:  "Bingo with a Zing!"  It is great to start getting games for toddlers.  Zingo is Bingo with pictures instead of numbers.  It teaches image and word recognition, matching, verbalization, concentration, memory and motor skills.

A New Book:  Make it a point to give the gift of reading to children.  Check out this list of the 100 Greatest Children's Books.  Buy a book from this collection and borrow the rest from your local library!  An added bonus of reading to toddlers - it helps them with their colors, shapes, numbers and letters, like "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" that made the top 100 list.

The Cute Baby Girl (aka MP)

Peek-a-Boo Barn:  Babies love to play peek-a-boo and these wooden toys are perfect for the growing baby.  Melissa & Doug has a variety of peek-a-boo toys including this barn, a house, panda, turtle, etc.

Farm Girl Love Onesie:  Like I mentioned before, as part of the kid's Christmas gifts from My Farmer and I they get one piece of clothing.  This is a cute and fun onesie for that little farm girl in your life.  I love the color and design.  I'm excited for MP to get this for her wardrobe.

Hand and Foot Rattles:  Our kids also receive one toy from us for Christmas.  These hand and foot rattles are perfect for a baby discovering how their body moves.  There are so many kinds, styles and colors to choose from.  You'll be sure to find the perfect pair for the baby in your life.

Photo Album:  The final gift our kids receive from us is a book.  (We give our kids 3 presents - a book, a toy and a piece of clothing - representing Jesus's 3 gifts he received from the Wise Men.)  We love this photo album.  The colors are eye catching for infants if you don't want to fill it, or you can fill it with pictures of family members.  This will help with facial recognition when they are young and identifying and naming family members when they are older.

Sock Ons:  Baby socks always seem to be either falling off or cutting off their circulation.  That is until Sock Ons.  I discovered these at my local baby and tot shop and am in love!  They keep your baby's socks on, which is a relief for all parents.  No more worrying about loosing a sock when out and about or even at home.

I hope these ideas help you!  What are some items on your wish list?  What gifts are you excited to give this year?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Week To Do List

It is the Monday before Thanksgiving and I've held off long enough, it is time to get ready for the holidays.  Now don't get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, but with Harvest ending just a week ago today, I feel like I needed and heck, deserved, a week off  to relax and get back into routine.  So with just 3 days till Thanksgiving, it is time to get busy!  Normally I would have started doing probably 2/3 of these items last week, but I guess this year I'll just have a busy Thanksgiving week.  Here is what is on my to do list this week to get ready for the Holiday Season:

  • Finalize Thanksgiving Menu (I am bringing Overnight Salad, Pecan Pie and Shrimp Dip and/or Pickle Wrap Dip to my Grandparent's house and my Mom's house.  And if I have time I also will make puppy chow...)
  • Buy Thanksgiving Groceries  (I did that today.  Usually I like to stay away from the grocery store as much as possible the week of Thanksgiving but due to my week of rest I did this earlier today.  I also made sure to buy the start of my Christmas goodie groceries - aka egg nog and peanut butter ball ingredients!)
  • Finalize Travel During the Holidays  (This is almost figured out, but by the end of the week I should have this all figured out.)
  • Gift Lists  (This includes not only figuring out my family's wish list, but also deciding what gifts I'm giving others for Christmas.  I've got the first half of this pretty well done; I've sent out starter lists to all of our family.  As for the second half, I have asked for wish lists from the rest of our family members that I haven't received a list from yet.)
  • Peek at Black Friday Sales  (I'm a Black Friday shopper.  I have gone with my Mom and sisters for the last 10 years.  We have so much fun doing this, plus it helps me get probably 75% of my shopping done without kids!  I still need to peek at the sales ads...)
  • Make and Bake Ahead for Thanksgiving Dinner  (This will happen on Wednesday.  I will prep and bake as much as possible that way Thanksgiving morning can be centered on packing the vehicle and watching the parade.)
  • Give the House a Good Clean Sweep  (Oh does my house need this!  It is good to do a good clean-up of your house the week of any holiday.  Even if you aren't hosting, there is a good chance that family and friends can and will stop by during their holiday travels.)
  • Shop Black Friday  (Can't wait!  We'll make our plan of attack Thanksgiving afternoon.)
  • Remember to Give Thanks!  (I try to remember to do this everyday.)
What is on your to-do list this week?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Double Dose of Food

Last night I took multi-tasking to a new level: I participated in #FoodChat, watched the Iowa Food Dialogues (#FoodD), and of course took care of my family all at once.  Like I tweeted last night, I'm not sure I was 100% successful at it, but it worked okay.  I paid more attention to #FoodChat but tried to bounce back and concentrate on #FoodD as much as possible.  So why all the fuss and inability to prioritize last night?

It has been a long time since I have participated in an #AgChat or a #FoodChat and I felt like yesterday's #FoodThanks conversation was important to join in on.  #AgChat is a weekly online twitter chat, every Tuesday, from 7 to 9pm CST, about agriculture issues (for example, next week's is about ethanol).  This is a chance for people in all sectors of agriculture and the general public to get together and talk about these hot topics.  Then on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, the conversation changes to food and becomes #FoodChat for the night.  #FoodChat is a monthly twitter chat about food, where people in all aspects of the food chain, along with anyone interested in food, get involved in the conversation.  And last night's discussion was about Thanksgiving and the Ag Chat Foundation's #FoodThanks campaign.  Food is an important part of our lives and it is something people gather around for the holidays.  It was a lot of fun talking with others from around the country about food, Thanksgiving traditions, and how we are all giving #FoodThanks this year.  You can give #FoodThanks in whatever way you want - pin a recipe, share a photo of your favorite dish, or simply tweeting thanks and appreciation for food and all those who provide it.  I personally have already given a bag full of food to my local food pantry to help out during this time of year as part of the #FoodThanks program.  So why not just leave it at that and just concentrate and participate in #FoodChat only?

I couldn't just leave it at just participating in #FoodChat because the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance was hosting one of their Food Dialogues, and last night it was in Iowa and a friend of mine was on the panel.  So I couldn't pass up the chance at watching the live stream of the panel of six people involved in all aspects of agriculture, talk about agriculture and its future.  Plus I had to cheer on my friend!  To tell you the truth, the reason why I ended up getting more involved with #FoodChat versus #FoodD was because I didn't really feel like there was a dialogue happening.  I don't know if that was what the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance and the Iowa Corn Growers Association wanted, but I guess I was looking for more of a respectful dialogue or conversation about agriculture issues and not the debate that I felt was going on.  I was looking for a thoughtful discussion on GMOs, sustainability, food production and availability.  Instead I felt like people were continuing to have to take sides or rebuttal others comments.  Yes, I wasn't expecting everyone to be singing "kumbaya" at the end but I hoped that people would have found more understanding of each other.  I understand that those that put together the event wanted to get some different views on the panel, but at the same time, didn't they want some type of gain or positive influence from the event?  To tell you how bad it was, a member of the audience asked at the end "Can we all get along?"  I personally hope so.  All of agriculture has to get along so we can provide choices for our neighbors, our country and dare I say world.  Outside of the world of agriculture, consumers do see agriculture as just one industry.  But inside agriculture we for some reason like to compartmentalize ourselves.  On a positive note, I think those that were there or watching online like me were able to see that the panel was very passionate about agriculture.  I believe people that were authentic shined during the dialogue.

I was happy to multi-task last night for the purpose of food.  Food is very important to me as it is how I nourish my body and it is also what I produce all year long on my farm.  I hope this holiday season we all can gather with family and friends around and over food.  Cherish this time together and the great food we're provided.

Did you participate in #FoodChat or #FoodD last night?  What were your thoughts?  Have you ever participated in an online twitter chat or streamed a live event before?  If so, what?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mommy Monday - Nuby Mommy Review: Fun Feeding Bowls

Today is my final post as part of my five-part series of Nuby products as part of the Nuby Mommy Blogger program.  If you haven't seen the other posts, be sure the check out my other reviews on Nuby's Fun Drinking Cups, Clik-it No Spill Grip n' Sip, Tear Free Rinse Pail and Snack Keeper.  Today's review is on Nuby's Fun Feeding Bowls.

Your baby is starting to feed itself so you're on the hunt now for their first utensils, cups and dinnerware.  For me, I never really found a set of good first dinnerware.  The only choices I could really see and find were cheap plastic or melamine and I wasn't a fan of either.  I wish I would have found these Nuby Fun Feeding Bowls when LP was that age.  I'm not afraid of these bowls breaking; they're very durable.  Also a great plus is that they are both dishwasher and microwave safe and friendly.  Even though LP is too old for these bowls now, he thinks they are neat.  The bright colors and fun designs are very attractive and make for great hats...

LP using the bowls...
I recommend these Fun Feeding Bowls for beginner dinnerware and can't wait to use them with MP when she starts to feed herself.  If you are interested in getting your own set of Nuby Fun Feeding Bowls they can be bought at:

To learn more about Nuby, get connected through their various channels of social media:

Also, congratulations to Dominique for winning a Nuby Snack Keeper
from last week's giveaway!

What was your favorite review from my five-part series?  Is there a Nuby product you're interested in seeing a review of?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Mud (or Snow) on the Tires

You got to get a little mud on the tires 
At the end of last week I couldn't help but sing Brad Paisley's "Mud on the Tires".  We got some rain but it only slowed us down for about 24 hours.  Because it had rained, we did get "a little mud on the tires", but sometimes you have to get a little dirty to get a job done, right?

And then this week it snowed but it only slowed us down for about 6 hours.  Because it had snow and the snow has now kept for over a day, we got "a little snow on the tires."

You got to get a little snow on the tires 
We've got a couple weeks left to get everything harvested.  That might involve a little more mud and a little more snow, but we'll get the job done - we always do.  That is the thing about farmers, we're perseverent, we're efficient and we're always working hard to get the job done.

In case you don't have the song in your head yet, here is the music video:

P.S. Someday I might have an actual Wordless Wednesday post with no words...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mommy Monday - Nuby Mommy Review and GIVEAWAY: Snack Keeper

It is week four of my five-part series of Nuby products as part of the Nuby Mommy Blogger program.  Today, I'm excited for two reasons.  Number one, I get to share my review of a must have product for anyone with a crawling and walking baby/pre-toddler who likes to snack.  And number two, I have a giveaway for this awesome product!  The winner will be announced in next week's blog post which will end my current series I have been doing with Nuby.

It is that time of year when Christmas lists are starting to be made and if you or someone you know has a baby or a pre-toddler then Nuby's Snack Keeper should be on your list!  We used these Snack Keepers with LP once he was probably 9 or 10 months old til he was probably 24 months old.  They are perfect for cereal, crackers, puffs, etc.  The top of the container has soft flaps that make it easy for little hands to reach in and grab their favorite snack, and at the same time prevents spilling.  We used Snack Keepers around the house, in the car, in the tractor, etc.  Plus, I think LP always liked that it was his container for his snacks.  A few more months and we'll probably be getting our Snack Keepers out again for MP to use!

If you are interested in getting your own Nuby Snack Keeper it can be bought at:

To learn more about Nuby, get connected through their various channels of social media:

Check out my other Nuby reviews here:

Who would you love to give a Nuby Snack Keeper to?  Share below and enter for more chances to win your own Nuby Snack Keeper.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Team RWB - Creating a Community for Veterans

Veteran's Day is always an important day for my family but with the impending deployment of my youngest sister in a couple of weeks it seems to have even more of an impact.  On this Veteran's Day I can't help but think of our newest Veterans like my sister and my brother-in-law.

My sister before her Iraq deployment ceremony
My youngest sister joined the Iowa Army National Guard at the age of 17.  Following graduation from High School she went through Basic and AIT.  Because of the duration of her trainings she started college late.  You might not think this is a huge deal but it was hard to start school during the spring semester versus the fall.  People had already made friendships and connections during the fall semester and it was just hard for her to really find and connect with a group of peers. Already at the age of 18 she was starting to feel the effects of being a soldier going back to the civilian world.

Also while in college, my sister was deployed to Iraq.  The deployment began part way through a semester and she would then be gone for a year, missing two more semesters.  After she returned from Iraq she returned to school a year older, a year wiser, a year of more real-world experience under her belt.  She also returned to taking classes with students usually one or two years younger than herself and most of the students she had taken courses with before had graduated.  She just couldn't relate with this new group of peers.  While she may have not been injured or seen any casualties, I do believe my sister came back with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  She had low ambition following her return and I think it was because she felt like she couldn't relate to others and she felt no recognition or understanding of what she had been through.  Luckily, she found a Veterans Club on campus that helped with the transition.  She could relate with others in the group.  And in the end, her best friendships from college, were those of other Veterans.  Once she entered the workforce I believe her symptoms of PTSD came back because she didn't have that peer group of Veterans anymore and she had a difficult time getting settled in employment.  But I am happy to report that I feel like she has found her place and has been working for the Iowa Army National Guard for the past year.

My brother-in-law during one of his
deployments to Iraq
I've known my brother-in-law (he's married to my other sister) for a long time.  In fact, my sister and him were high school sweet hearts.  He wanted to be a Marine ever since he was a little boy and when he graduated from High School he entered the Marines and was stationed at Cherry Point, North Carolina for four years.  During that time he was involved in two deployments to Iraq.  Following his active service he returned to Iowa, married my sister and began going to college with others of a different generation.  My brother-in-law was married and was living in a different town than the university and his classmates were recent graduates of high school and lets just say had different priorities and values then he did.  Just like my sister, he too didn't get injured while in the service, but he had just finished living, eating, breathing the life of a Marine for four years.  My brother-in-law figures it took him about five years to really find a network of Veterans.  He hopes that for future Veterans, this only takes a week and that is why he is now involved with Team Red, White & Blue.

I think Veterans for the last 100 years have always found it difficult to transition back to civilian life after the life of active service.  Team RWB's goal is to help all Veterans with that transition.  This national organization does this by creating Veteran communities around the country.  These communities focus on both social and physical activities, or as my brother-in-law says, a group to "workout and hangout" with.  Team RWB becomes a peer support network that I know both my sister and my brother-in-law were in need of.

Team RWB also provides leadership opportunities for members involved by getting involved in Veteran Athletic Camps.  Team RWB communities around the country train for marathons, triathlons, etc.

Team RWB chapters also associates themselves with a local VA hospital.  Members travel and visit with the Veterans at the hospitals to hopefully help them work through anxiety, PTSD, medicine refusal, etc.

If you know a Veteran returning to civilian life, tell them to check out Team RWB.  My Brother-in-law is the Captain of the Des Moines chapter and feels very rewarded to be apart of the community.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday + 10 Things...

I don't think I've ever done a Wordless Wednesday post with absolutely no words... so why start now?  Here are ten things about this photo:

  1. This is what I get when I ask My Farmer to take a photo of the kids and I this fall.
  2. Can you tell it is nap time and I have a little boy who doesn't want to miss anything in the field, so he refuses to take a nap until he's falling asleep on you about two-three hours after he should have started taking a nap...
  3. Is MP in there?  She's in her car seat I swear.  Great photo of all of us right?
  4. My fall survival essential made the photo - my bottle of Diet Mountain Dew.
  5. My other fall survival essential didn't make the photo - a bag of peanut M&Ms.
  6. How did My Farmer really think this was a good photo?  I think I'm telling LP to shhh so he would calm down.
  7. Welcome to my current "office" - a Case IH tractor.
  8. Now you all get to see what I wear everyday in the field - boots, jeans, t-shirt, old work jackets with my hair in a pony tail and my glasses on.
  9. Farming is a family affair.
  10. Even though this might not show all of our faces or happy, I love this photo and My Farmer for taking it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mommy Monday - Nuby Mommy Review: Tear Free Rinse Pail

It is week three of my five-part series of Nuby products as part of the Nuby Mommy Blogger program.  Nuby offers a lot of great products for babies and kids.  So far I've highlighted a couple of their cups for feeding your baby and your toddler.  Today, I'm going to switch gears and talk bath time by reviewing Nuby's Tear Free Rinse Pail.

No body likes getting water in their eyes, especially soapy water.  But it almost seems inevitable that children taking baths will get water in their eyes because they haven't learned to close their eyes when water goes over their face.  How many Moms out there can relate with me about having an upset and frustrated child during bath time due to just this?  To address this bath time meltdown I decided to try Nuby's Tear Free Rinse Pail.

Nuby's Tear Free Rinse Pail is designed with a "comfort" flexible edge that you lay against your child's forehead so water goes around just their face.  I've been trying this cup out for a few weeks with LP.  Him and I are really enjoying it versus my plastic drink cup I used before.  Now I wouldn't say absolutely no water will get in your child's face, but I would say a much less and bearable amount does, opposed to a regular cup.

As a result, I wouldn't recommend this as a must have product for every family with small children, but I would say it is something nice and helpful to have.  We have officially switched to the Tear Free Rinse Pail and have put away the plastic drink cup in our house.

If you are interested in getting your own Nuby Tear Free Rinse Pail it can be bought at:

To learn more about Nuby, get connected through their various channels of social media:

What are you must have "tools" for bath time at your house?

Tractor Time - A Time for Reflection

My tractor and grain cart - where I have "tractor time"
One of my favorite parts of helping with harvest is having "tractor time."  What is tractor time you may ask?  Tractor time is a time to reflect, to pray, to dream.  I'm so thankful that I have this time of reflection daily.  Before I started to be at home full-time, my reflection time happened during my long car rides with my job.  And in college, my reflection time came during my walks to and around campus.  I've always found time to reflect, pray and even dream.  For me, this is an important element to a healthy life, a way to learn, and a part of the process to grow and move forward to the next step.  Do you make time to reflect during the busyness of life?  Here are a couple ways to incorporate your own version of "tractor time" in your life:

  • Schedule a time to reflect during your day.  Like I mentioned earlier, I have always found a time during my day to reflect.  Maybe for you it will be while driving home from work, or while you're on a walk, or laying in your bed before you go to sleep.  Whenever and wherever it is, find a time, schedule it even if you need to, that way you can start developing the habit of reserving this time to stop, slow down and review.
  • Remove any distractions.  If you think finding a time to reflect is hard, then watch out for this step.  As a Mom of two kids, two and under, I find this challenging, but you really can't have a good deep, heart-provoking reflection time with interruptions in your way.  Turn off your computer, put your phone on silent and find a quiet spot where you won't be disturbed.  Now, I will admit, in a tractor I can't zone out and be unaware of my surroundings and my duties, but at the same time, I do find my time in the tractor to be somewhat quiet.  It's a place where I can't worry about what's next on my to-do list or what needs to be done at the house, because I'm not at the house and I'm gone for so long during the day I don't really have time to work on my to-do list (like blog...).
  • Pray and Dream.  After you have made your time to reflect, free from distractions, it is time to pray and then dream.  No matter if you're reflecting about work, about family or about life in general, taking the time to pray and talk to God about your deliberations, your desires, and your praises is important to do daily as well.  And then dreaming is the fun thing you can do to round-out and finish your "tractor time".  I have always enjoyed thinking about and even trying to plan the future.  Now I say that while reminding you about the old saying, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans."

I hope you all find time to reflect during your day.  What other steps would you add to encourage others to take the time to reflect?  Where do you have "tractor time"?

To conclude, I have to share this quote that I found when I got home today from the field.  I think it goes so well with this post, as well as encompasses harvest time in general.