Thursday, July 30, 2015

4 Ingredient Sunrise Smoothie

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

I am a huge breakfast fan!  I have to have it in order to have any energy for the day, and I have three little kids that depend on me to have energy.  Don't you wish you could just bottle up the energy that a toddler has during a non-nap period and sell it!  I could be rich!  

Anyways, breakfast is important to me and my whole family.  I like to mix up our breakfasts throughout the week and at least once a week I try to have breakfast by myself.  Now that may sound selfish, but I need one morning to myself where I can make something extra special, just for me, and read a book or watch the news (rather than reading Corduroy or watching Curious George).  This morning was that morning.  I finished the latest book by Melanie Shankle, Nobody's Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship and I made myself a fun, refreshing and summertime Sunrise Smoothie, that also used up some ripe bananas that needed to be made into something...  What is really great about this smoothie is that it is simple, uses only 4 ingredients - most likely of which are staple foods in your house, and is a true "dump" recipe.

4 ingredient Sunrise Smoothie #AEdairy #ad

Sunrise Smoothie

1 Banana
1 - 6oz container AE Dairy Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt
6 oz AE Dairy Orange Juice (fill up empty yogurt cup with OJ)
2 handfuls of Ice (approximately 1 cup)

Dump all ingredients in blender and pulse til ice is crushed, then blend til smooth.  Makes 2 tall glasses.

For only four ingredients, this smoothie offers a lot of flavor and substance.  The Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt makes the smoothie healthy and creamy.  I have to admit, a lot of times when I have ripe bananas I go for a banana milkshake...  So this is a much healthier alternative.  And the Orange Juice gives the smoothie that added something, that added zip of energy.

What's your favorite breakfast smoothie recipe?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, July 24, 2015

LEGO Creativity Tour coming to Iowa in September! Win Tickets!

Do you have a LEGO® fan in your household like I do?  Well then, you don't want to miss out on the LEGO Creativity Tour as it stops in Des Moines, Iowa September 18-20 at the Iowa Events Center.

Big Brick Pile at the LEGO Creativity Tour - Win Tickets for Des Moines, Iowa stop!
Big Brick Pile at the LEGO Creativity Tour

To tell you a little bit about how much I have two little LEGO fans in my house, there are some days walking through our play room I feel like I'm walking in a giant pile of LEGO bricks... This is not a fun experience, but the LEGO Creativity Tour's Big Brick Pile looks like fun and not painful - well maybe!  This is just one of the features that will give your children the opportunity to build, create and immerse themselves in the LEGO experience.

I'm excited to be giving away (2) tickets to the opening night on Friday, September 18th from 5:30-8:30pm.  The winner will be randomly chosen by USFG on Thursday, August 20th and announced on my blog and notified via email.  You must be 18 to enter and are allowed 1 entry per day.  ENTER HERE

I encourage you to also Like and Follow the LEGO Creativity Tour on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram for all the latest ticketing updates.  The LEGO Creativity Tour stops have been selling out, so you should buy tickets in advance online.

Do you have a LEGO fan in your house?  What would your little builder look forward to the most?  The Big Brick Pile?  The Race Ramps?  The Construction Zone?  Others?  Remember to Comment for a Cause and enter the giveaway!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Top Iowa Ice Cream Picks!

Happy National Ice Cream Day!  This just might be my favorite holiday.  I mean, who doesn't like an excuse to eat ice cream!  Every June, in honor of National Dairy Month, my family goes on an Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip.  This is a fun and sweet tradition that not only lets us see new places across the state, but we get to eat great food too.  Through our travels we've had a lot of great ice cream, and through some hard deliberation around a bowl of ice cream, we have selected our top soft serve and hard ice cream in Iowa!  Someone has to do the hard work, and for you Iowa, our family has sacrificed calories to do so. ;)

Top Iowa Soft Serve Ice Cream:  The Whippy Dip in Decorah, Iowa

Top Iowa Soft Serve Ice Cream:  The Whippy Dip in Decorah, Iowa

The Whippy Dip is a seasonal walk-up ice cream stand that serves creamy and rich soft serve ice cream in the heart of Iowa's "Dairy Country" in Northeast Iowa.  This ice cream shop even sources its milk from a local dairy - you wouldn't expect anything less would you?

Top Iowa Soft Serve Ice Cream:  The Whippy Dip in Decorah, Iowa - Cookie Dough Tornado
The Whippy Dip keeps its ice cream simple by offering vanilla or chocolate.  While the ice cream alone is good, our family thinks it is even better by adding some mix-ins and creating a Tornado (think Dairy's Queen's Blizzard - but better!).  Our top recommendation is their Cookie Dough Tornado.  They layer real cookie dough (none of that frozen cookie dough mini-ball stuff - we're talking a slab of real cookie dough you could actually bake into a cookie) in their soft serve and then mix it up.  They then add an extra scoop of cookie dough and mini chocolate chips on top!  Every bite is guaranteed to have cookie dough in it.

Top Iowa Hard Ice Cream:  Heyn's Ice Cream in Iowa City, Iowa

Top Iowa Hard Ice Cream:  Heyn's Ice Cream in Iowa City, Iowa

Heyn's Ice Cream is in the heart of Iowa City.  Their cute Holstein dairy cow decor and over 40 flavors of hard ice cream make for a fun ice cream experience!

Top Iowa Hard Ice Cream:  Heyn's Ice Cream in Iowa City, Iowa - Monster Mash

Their flavors of ice cream offer so much variety and rich flavor, we feel like the best way to eat it is simply served in a cone (or maybe in one of their Dream Cones which are hand dipped and rolled in sprinkles or Butterfinger crumbles).  Our pick, which is also their top seller, is their Monster Mash, a vanilla ice cream with monster cookies mixed in it.

So there you have it!  Our pick's for Iowa's top soft serve and hard ice creams!  Enjoy and celebrate National Ice Cream Day today!  What is your favorite ice cream shop?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Miss Me - But Let Me Go

You may have noticed things have been quiet here on my blog, and on all of my social media accounts for that matter, (and thanks to those of you that sent me private messages to double check things were okay) for the last couple of weeks, but it was all for good reason, my family and I traveled to Alaska to scatter my cousin Jake's ashes.  The trip was amazing!  I can understand why my cousin enjoyed his Make-A-Wish trip 11 years ago to Alaska and ultimately decided that he wanted his ashes scattered there.  Alaska was beautiful, peaceful and it gave me a sense of freedom and rejuvenation.  I feel so honored and privileged to have been able to go to Alaska and to be invited to be apart of my cousin's ash scattering.  I've got a couple Alaska blog posts rattling around in my brain that I'll plan on sharing within the next couple of weeks (but I need to go through my ~400 photos first).  In the meantime, I'd like to share a poem that was included in my cousin's ash scattering.  It meant a lot to me and I hope it means a lot to you.

Miss Me - But Let Me Go, Shrine of St. Therese, Juneau, Alaska
A view from the Shrine of St. Therese, Juneau, Alaska

Miss Me - But Let Me Go
By Edgar A. Guest

When I come to the end of the road
and the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room.
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little - but not too long
and not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared, 
Miss me - but let me go.

For this is a journey that we all must take
and each must go alone.
It's all a part of the Master's plan,
a step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick of heart
go to friends we know
and bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
Miss me - but let me go!

This month my Comments for a Cause are going to Make-A-Wish Kansas City, who granted my cousin's wish 11 years ago, which led him to having one of the best times of his life, and now has given my whole family peace in so many ways.  Our trip really helped things come full circle for me.  So please comment below, or on any post in my blog to go towards my family's monthly donation.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Knee High by the 4th of July

It has become tradition for us to take a Knee High by the 4th of July photo every year.  It is a fun way to document our farm family, as well as our crop progress for the year.  Check out past years - 2014, 20132012.

Knee High by the 4th of July in Iowa

Knee high by the 4th of July is an old farmer saying and benchmark for a good corn crop.  But with improved seed genetics and farming practices, farmers expect their corn to be at least waist high if not head high, like we are seeing this year on our farm in North Iowa.

We had to pull out the selfie stick too and take a photo in the corn!
Me, LP, MP, My Farmer and JP
We hope you all had a great Independence Day!  What was the best part of your day?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Comments for a Cause - Make-A-Wish Kansas City

It is a new month, which means it is time to introduce a new cause!  Before I talk about July's cause, let's talk June numbers.  Last month I had 66 comments, creating a $33.00 donation to Retrieving Freedom.  I had a great time exploring their new Waverly, Iowa facility in June.  If you weren't able to go to their open house last weekend, I encourage you to reach out to them and check out how their new facility doesn't just help with dog training, but the training of the new owners - veterans and autistics, as well as an entire community.

This month is going to be an exciting, yet emotional month for my family.  It has been ten years since my cousin Jake passed away.  And to honor him, in the month of July I will be donating $0.50 for every comment on my blog during the month to the Make-A-Wish Kansas City chapter.

When my cousin Jake was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer when he was in high school my entire family came together to support him and his immediate family.  We also came to know and love groups that came together to support him as well.  One group that made a huge difference to Jake (and in turn our entire family) during his year long battle with cancer, was Make-A-Wish.

Jake on his Alaskan Wish Trip
Jake received an Alaskan fishing trip through the Make-A-Wish Kansas City chapter in July of 2004.  When he came back from his Wish he expressed how much it meant to him.  As time went on during his battle, he always referred back to his time in Alaska and how it was one of the best experiences he had during the last year of his life.  He said the trip let him be himself, away from doctors and hospitals.  He felt free and at peace.  And for those reasons, he asked his mom that his ashes be scattered in Alaska.  When my aunt, his mom, realized that 2015 would mean it had been 10 years since Jake passed away, she said that was that, and said this year, would be the year that we would and needed to scatter his ashes.  So my entire family is preparing this month to do just that.  The trip is going to be fun and emotional all rolled into one.  I hope we will feel the same peace and freedom in Alaska that Jake reminisced about so much.

Any words of advice or encouragment for our family as we prepare to scatter Jake's ashes?  Remember to Comment for a Cause.

Country Fair Blog Party: All American

It is July 1st and time to showcase some new blog posts through the Country Fair Blog Party, which I'm happy to be a co-host of.  Before we talk about this month's theme, I'm going to share my three Blue Ribbon winners from June's Summer Lovin' Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner:  Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars
I don't know if I have just been craving blueberries lately or what, but any recipe I see with blueberries in it I have to pin to try later.  When I saw Jenn's Random Scraps's Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars I knew I had to try them!  What a fresh and sweet treat for summer get togethers!  I think what gives this bar the little added something and taste of summer is the lemon zest.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner:  12 Things My Kids Did When I Let Them Get Bored
Do you ever hear your kids say "I'm bored"?  Well LC of Chaming Farming responds to her kids with, "So, what are you going to do about it?".  She shares in her 12 Things My Kids Did When I Let Them Get Bored post things that her kids did last summer, as well as her thoughts about letting our kids become creators of fun, rather than us as parents always supplying and preparing the craft, game, fun, etc and our kids turning into just consumers of fun.  Let your kids use their imagination, explore and have fun!

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner:  7 Ways to Fit Exercise into Summer
Our summer schedules can get busy before we even know it, but Farm Fit Mam shares 7 Ways to Fit Exercise into Summer on her blog.  She recommends to get in 30 minutes of exercise daily ranging from waking up earlier to get a jump start on your day, to going swimming to gardening.  Exercise is one way to enjoy your summer a little more this year.  I recommend you check out all of her practical ideas and tips.

I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up this month as we have an All American blog hop.  Throughout the month of July we are looking for all of your patriotic posts, or posts that share your American pride.  I can't wait to check out your red, white & blue recipes, crafts, hometowns, places to visit, etc.  Show us why you are proud to call America home.

This blog hop is a great opportunity to check out new blogs, and if you blog yourself, have your posts reach a new audience.  Bloggers, feel free to link up to 3 posts this month and be sure to visit some other party goers and let them know you are stopping by through the Country Fair Blog Party.

Also, be sure to visit my fellow co-hosts:
Country LINKed
Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom
This Uncharted Rhoade
Tip Garden

We're excited to see everything you share this month!  What new blog did you discover through this month's Country Fair Blog Party?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!