Thursday, February 27, 2014

Curious George Birthday Party

The 3rd birthday is a pretty special one.  Your little baby is no longer a baby.  He can take care of himself in many ways and has an opinion of his own.  This is most likely the first birthday party where your little guy really has an opinion or can make choices regarding his special day.  LP turned 3 years old on Monday and we celebrated his birthday on Sunday with our family.  LP is an independent, curious, and easy-going farm boy who loves anything with wheels, being a big brother and reading books.  So when we asked him about a month ago what he'd like on his birthday cake he excitedly chose Curious George.  LP loves reading Curious George books & watching Curious George on television.  He loves how George is silly and always on an adventure.

Curious George Birthday Party Invitation
The first thing to do for the party was make the invitations.  I was all about having LP involved with planning for the party so I got him involved in the invitation making.  I bought some blank yellow cards from my local craft store and wrote on them "I'm a Curious Monkey who is turning three.  Please come celebrate with me!", followed by the party details.  I then let LP have free range on the invitations.  He had fun coloring them and putting stickers on them from his Curious George Super Sticker Coloring Book.  (By the way, if you know a Curious George fan, this is a must have sticker/coloring book.  It is reasonably prized and literally has 100's of stickers and coloring pages.  LP loves his!)

Homemade Play-Dough Recipe
The next thing LP helped with was the activities.  LP loves playing with play-dough so a few days before his birthday party LP and I made some homemade play-dough and added yellow food coloring and banana extract to it.  LP and his cousin had fun playing with it during the beginning of the party.  I also printed off some coloring pages that I personalized that both kids and adults colored.  The last activity we had was that we asked everyone to write LP a special birthday message in a copy of Curious George and the Birthday Surprise book.

Curious George Memo Board
LP was also a great help with the decorations.  I printed off one of the personalized coloring pages on card stock and LP colored it for a "welcome sign" for the front door.  Also, every year I love printing off photos from the past year and displaying them some how.  LP helped me pick out 10 photos from the past year and then I made a Curious George memo board to display the photos.

Curious George Birthday Cake
The last thing to do was take care of the food.  We served supper to our family which consisted of smoked pork loin sandwiches, overnight salad, baked beans, chips and dip, and of course cake and ice cream!  It is tradition for us to have cake and homemade ice cream at birthday parties.  For the birthday cake we decided to make banana cake, since there was a Curious George monkey theme for the party.  I made a double layer, 12" circle cake.  I have so much fun using my frosting tips and really enjoyed making LP's Curious George cake with him right by my side, ready for a dab of frosting anytime I needed to change tips!

Our whole family had a great time celebrating LP's birthday!  We had fun doing a few simple DIY projects to make his third birthday special and unique for him.  What are some birthday party DIY projects you're proud of?

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Thank you to for awarding me their "Best Decorations" Birthday Party Award.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Curious George Birthday

LP turned 3 years old on Monday and we celebrated his birthday on Sunday.  Here is a preview of tomorrow's post about his Curious George 3rd Birthday Party!

Curious George Birthday Cake
LP's Curious George banana birthday cake I made
Excited Birthday Boy in his Curious George shirt
LP wearing his Curious George t-shirt,
excited to open his birthday presents
What was one of your favorite birthday cakes as a child?

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Friday, February 21, 2014

What does your Kitchen Table say about you?

Picking out the perfect kitchen table can take time and money.  Up until last month My Farmer and I had been using a hand-me-down kitchen table.  It was fine, it suited our needs, but we wanted to find our own table for our own house.  When looking for a table I wanted to be sure to find one that would cater our growing family for not only eating meals, but also fellowship and praying.  We settled on this table:

Our table fits the four of us comfortably and can be extended to fit eight.  (My Farmer joked around that the table gives us limit for the number of kids we can have!)  I love the plank-style table top.  It just makes me think that it belongs in our farmhouse!  I also loved the distressed veneer to the table.  It gives it character (and hides dirt and crumbs).

Through this blog I have enjoyed letting you join my family at our kitchen table.  Thank you for joining us and now I'd like you to pull up a chair to some other blogger's tables.  I have got to meet a lot of great people through blogging.  One group of bloggers that I have gotten to know well over probably the last six months or so has been this group of Iowa "foodie" bloggers.  All of us have unique perspectives, goals and blogs, but one thing we all have in common is a love for food.  We decided to get together to do a joint giveaway starting today, February 21st, through next Friday, February 28th.  One lucky person will win $225 for "pulling up a chair" to all of our "kitchen tables."  Here is a list of all the bloggers participating:
And here is the Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to everyone!  What would you do with an extra $225???  And once again, thank you for joining me at my kitchen table.

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(And by the way, this is how our table actually looks like with booster seats, napkins, salt and pepper and all...)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Fun in the Snow

This winter has been extremely cold, so the kids haven't been able to enjoy the snow for quite awhile.  The last couple of days we've been able to catch a break from sub-zero temperatures and were able to have some fun!  I'm so thankful and appreciative that I get to make these memories with my family.

When I asked LP if he wanted to take a picture
with the snowman he decided to go behind it
and then impersonate the snowman's hands
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Mommy Monday - Nuby Mommy Review: Oral Care Set

I'm happy to do another review for Nuby as part of their Nuby Mommy Blogger program.  Today's review is on their Oral Care Set (which just might be my favorite product so far).

During your baby's first year of life you start hearing from your pediatrician that you should start taking care of your baby's gums and teeth.  When LP was 6 months old I remember hearing this and thinking, are you serious?  (Don't tell anyone but I didn't start brushing his teeth til he was probably 9 months old and have done the same with MP.)  I mean, who wants to stick their finger in a baby's mouth who has sharp, new baby teeth?  Well, I'm happy to say that you don't have to do that any longer with Nuby's Oral Care Set.

Nuby's Oral Care Set is a 4 stage oral care system.  The first "brush" fits onto your finger and is designed to massage your baby's gums.  Nuby recommends this brush for babies under 3 months of age.  The second stage brush is awesome!  We are currently using this brush with MP.  It is intended for babies over 3 months of age.  The brush has a handle with a head of soft, silicon bristles that massage the gums and new teeth.  The third brush is for babies 11 months of age and older.  This brush too has a handle that is easy to grip for you and your baby, and it has "soft flanges" all over the head to help with brushing in all directions.  Finally, the fourth brush has nylon bristles and is great for when all of your child's primary teeth have came in.  This is the stage of brush that LP uses.  He loves brushing his teeth!  I let him brush his teeth on his own and also assist him.

I think Nuby's Oral Care Set is something all parents should have.  Like I mentioned above, I really am enjoying not having my finger bit anymore by using the 2nd stage tooth brush with MP.  This set would be a perfect baby shower gift, stocking stuffer, etc. for a new baby and parents.  All of the brushes are perfect sizes for babies and toddlers, and it helps promote the early development of good dental hygine.  Like I said earlier as well, LP loves brushing his teeth!  If you are interested in getting a Nuby Oral Care Set, they can be purchased at Burlington's Baby Depot.

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

Also, be sure to check out my other Nuby reviews on their Fun Drinking CupsClik-it No Spill Grip n' SipTear Free Rinse PailSnack KeeperFun Feeding Bowls and Booster Seat.

When did you start brushing your baby's teeth?  When did you bring your child to the dentist for the first time?

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine's Day Meal Plan

Valentine's Day Menu Plan

My Farmer and I have always made plans to eat-in for Valentine's Day.  I know a lot of people look forward to going out and having special Valentine's Day menus at their favorite special occasion restaurant, but I guess for us, we've always enjoyed having a big meal at home, just the two of us, and away from the crowds.  This year we'll be continuing our tradition of having a big Valentine's Day supper at home, and since today is Sunday, aka weekly menu planning day for me, I thought I'd share what we'll be enjoying on Friday!

Let's go backwards and start with dessert!  We'll be having Chocolate Melting Cake.

Chocolate Melting Cake for Two

I blogged about this special dessert in January as My Farmer and I celebrated our anniversary.  We fell in love with this cake on our honeymoon and make it for special occasions.  It is easy, simple, and oh, so delicious!  Even if you are going out for supper for Valentine's Day, or if you're ordering a heart-shaped pizza, make dessert for that someone special!

Time for the main dish!  We'll be having Greek Steak and Greek Spaghetti.

Greek Steak and Spaghetti

Now we may not be going to our favorite special occasion restaurant on Friday night but we'll be eating our favorite meal from our favorite special occasion restaurant.  Debbie of Debbie's Midwestern Kitchen shares Mason City's Northwestern Steakhouse's steak and spaghetti copycat recipe that I use at my house on her blog.  We always use whatever steak we have on hand in the freezer for the meal.  As you can see from my photo, the last time I used T-Bone steaks.  Also, I use a combination of butter and olive oil to make the marinade that you bake the steaks in.  Then, once you're done baking the steaks, use the leftover juices on spaghetti and toss with parmesan cheese (or for even a little more flavor, make another batch of the marinade for the pasta).

And now for the appetizer!  We'll be having Fried Pickles!

Fried Pickles and BBQ/Ranch Dipping Sauce

Now if there was any food that is a Valentine's Day tradition for us, it is fried pickles!  During the beginning years of our marriage My Farmer and I went through a "let's fry up lots of food" time.  It didn't last long because it helped us gain our "newlywed 15"... and because we had a grease fire!  Valentine's Day four years ago I was getting ready for our special, romantic, dinner for two.  On the menu was fried pickles.  While waiting for the oil to warm up I decided to wash dishes and I guess I got caught up on cleaning.  My Farmer came into the house and saw that the oil had gotten too hot and there were little flames rolling on the top of the oil.  Looking back we wish we would have just put the lid on the pan or used baking soda or flour to stop the flames but instead My Farmer decided to take the pan off the heat.  Well, the new oxygen that hit the flames fueled the fire rather than stopping it.  All of a sudden we had flames near the ceiling, so I quickly opened our deck door so My Farmer could throw the pan out in the snow.  In the end we are all okay but it was a scary thing.  So before I share this recipe I beg of all of you, please monitor your hot oil!

Fried Pickles and BBQ/Ranch Dipping Sauce

Fried Pickles:
1 jar sandwich-sliced pickles
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp seasoning salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
2 cups panko crumbs
2 cups soybean/vegetable oil

BBQ/Ranch Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup ranch dressing

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a pie plate and mix well.  Whisk eggs and water together in second plate.  Put the panko crumbs in third plate.  Place one inch of oil in frying pan, and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Watch oil carefully and use splatter guard.

Roll each pickle in flour, the egg wash, finished by panko crumbs.

Drop the pickles in the hot oil.  Flip and move them around as they cook for around two minutes until golden brown.

Remove pickles with slotted spoon or tongs and place on paper towels to drain.  Repeat until all pickles are fried.

Combine first five ingredients for dipping sauce together; once incorporated, add in ranch dressing.  Enjoy!

What are your plans for Valentine's Day?  Any supper traditions?

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues as a Family

10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues as a Family

Lately I have been hearing from a lot of family and friends saying that they are tired of winter and that they wish spring would come soon.  With short days and our fair share of polar vortexes, it is not surprising that so many have a little case of the "winter blues".  Well, according to Puxatony Phil we have six more weeks of winter, so here are 10 ideas on how to beat the winter blues with your family:
  1. Embrace the weather and go sledding, make snow angels or simply teach your kids to catch snowflakes on their tongues.
  2. Celebrate "Library Lover's Month" in February and check out books for the entire family.
  3. Have an inside picnic.  (LP loves doing this currently.)
  4. Bake cookies and share them with neighbors, friends, or family.
  5. Make a fort out of blankets, pillows, chairs, etc. in the house.
  6. Go to a local sporting event such as a basketball game, wrestling meet or hockey game.  (Our family personally loves going to at least one hockey game each winter.)
  7. Go bowling.  (And the best part of bowling with kids is that everyone gets to use the bumpers!)
  8. Go to the movies or have a movie and homemade pizza night at home.
  9. Send a hand-written "just because" letter or postcard to an extended family member or good friend.
  10. Take a step out of your normal routine and do something new, different and special as part of Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 10-16.

I hope these ideas can help you combat the "winter blues"!  What is your favorite thing to do during the winter?

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Bowl Commercials Feature American Agriculture Again in 2014

Last night My Farmer, LP, MP and I hosted some of our friends over at our house to eat good food, hang out, and oh I guess watch a football game...  To tell you the truth, I'm not a NFL fan and could have cared less who won the game.  My favorite parts of the Super Bowl is that you get to eat good food, hang out with good friends and watch the million dollar commercials (literately, it is said that a 30 second Super Bowl commercial cost $4 million!)

It was great to see American Agriculture highlighted once again this year in a couple Super Bowl commercials.  Many people remember last year's Dodge - God Made A Farmer commercial and this year Chevy and took a turn spotlighting farmers.  So if you missed either or both of these commercials last night (maybe because like us we had 6 adults and 6 kids running around in our house) here you go:

Chevy's "Romance":

And if you want to see and learn more about the "behind the scenes" of this commercial, check out the farm mom who was featured in the commercial, Debbie Lyons-Blythe's blog, Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch and this video.

What did you think of these two ads?  What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial?

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Impress your friends at Bacon Fest

My Farmer and I at the 2013 Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival
Last year at this time My Farmer and I were lucky to have tickets to the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines.  This year unfortunatly we didn't get any :(  But we will celebrate in our own way by cooking up our own bacon (probably not 15,000 pounds like they'll be eating at Bacon Fest...) and by sharing some facts about pigs so you can impress your friends, if you are lucky enough to have tickets or not.  Check out the list I helped create for the Iowa Farm Bureau.

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February Comments for a Cause - Iowa FFA Foundation

Comments for a Cause
It is the 1st of February so that means two things: it is time to announce last month's Comments of a Cause totals and this month's new cause.  First, January's results!  It has been so fun creating a Comments for a Cause program on my blog and to be able to share about Make-A-Wish in January.  In January I had a total of 47 comments, equaling a donation of $23.50.  Thank you to everyone that commented this past month!

Now it is time to announce February's cause.  During the month of February I will be donating $0.50 for every comment to the Iowa FFA Foundation!  The Iowa FFA Foundation is the funding support system behind not only Iowa FFA, but also Iowa PAS (Postsecondary Agricultural Students), Iowa Association of Agricultural Educators and the Iowa FFA Alumni Association.  The FFA Foundation has been working really hard to secure the future for all of these programs and I look forward to helping their efforts through this month's Comments for a Cause.

The Iowa FFA program is a leadership and career development organization for teens.  I joined FFA in high school because I loved agriculture and planned on going into an ag major in college.  The letters FFA stand for "Future Farmers of America"; however in 1988 the official name of the organization changed from "Future Farmers of America" to the "FFA Organization" to reflect the growing diversity of agriculture.  Even though I farm today, I use to be in Agricultural Communications and PR, one of the countless careers available in the field of agriculture.

Showing lambs through FFA at the County Fair
Showing lambs at the 2011 County Fair
To help members build skills in leadership and problem solving, the Iowa FFA Foundation has programs like Agricultural Proficiency Awards and Career Development Events (CDE).  Ag Proficiency Awards allow FFA members to demonstrate skills and knowledge towards a specific ag project they have chosen.  When I was in FFA I was in the Sheep Entrepreneurship Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) and the Food Service Placement SAE.  My favorite CDEs I participated in were Ag Broadcasting and FFA Creed Speaking.

National FFA Week is February 15-22.  Local FFA Chapters will be doing their own fun activities to celebrate and one way the Iowa FFA Foundation is going to celebrate is by having a state-wide Buffalo Wild Wings Fundraiser on February 17th.  Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants state-wide will be donating 10% of their sales to the Foundation.  To see the entire list of participating locations and to learn more check out the Buffalo Wild Wings Fundraiser website.

So be sure to "Comment for a Cause" this month to help the more than 13,400 FFA members in 219 chapters across the state of Iowa live out their motto of "Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live and Living to Serve."

State FFA Convention is a favorite memory from FFA
I'm on the far left hanging out with friends
during the State FFA Convention
Is there an FFA Chapter in your local school?  Do you have a favorite FFA memory to share?  My favorite memories are attending National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky and the Iowa FFA Convention in Des Moines.