Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Make Ahead Breakfast Muffins

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

#Harvest15 #felfie #womenofharvest
Me this fall keeping busy driving
 the tractor and catch cart

We have been busy in the field harvesting corn and soybeans for the last week and a half.  That means a few things: A) My blog has been quiet; B) Our house looks like a disaster and; C) I haven't been grocery shopping and have had to get creative in the kitchen.  During harvest, I am lucky that my mother-in-law fixes cooler lunches for all of us while we're out in the field, and for supper, we usually just pick up whatever from the nearest food establishment from the field.  But that means breakfast is on me.  I am a huge breakfast person and I love to mix it up.  I don't like to have the same thing day in, day out, so that is why I love these Six Week Muffins for breakfast!

#ad Make Ahead Six Week Breakfast Muffins #AEdairy

Six Week Muffins
6 cups All-Bran Cereal (Kellogg's)
2 cups Water, boiled
1 cup Shortening, melted
3 cups Sugar
4 Eggs, beaten
1 qt AE Dairy Buttermilk
5 cups Flour
5 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Salt

Pour boiling water over 2 cups of bran and let stand for 15 minutes.  Then mix in melted shortening, rest of bran, sugar, eggs and buttermilk.  Sift flour, soda and salt - and add to the rest of the mixture.

Bake muffins at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Recipe makes 4 to 5 dozen muffins.

You may cover and refrigerate the batter up to six weeks for fresh muffins as much as you want.  I usually split the batter in thirds and make 18 at a time every couple of weeks.

I love these muffins because they are a hardy muffin that has a slightly sweet and tangy flavor that is enhanced by the buttermilk.  They are also convenient for you to take on the road (or in the field).  These muffins also use a lot of pantry staples.  All of the ingredients in this recipe have long shelf lives, including the buttermilk.  I actually love keeping some buttermilk in the refrigerator to add a little bit of richness to my baking.

What are some of your favorite make ahead breakfast foods?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Be Safe on the Roads this Harvest

Be Safe on the Roads this Harvest - National Farm Safety and Health Week, September 20-26
Fall is my favorite time of the year.  The trees are changing colors, I have an excuse to eat pumpkin treats, and we harvest our crops that we’ve worked all year on.  As corn and soybean harvest begins in Iowa, please remember to be safe and slow down, as activity is increased throughout the countryside and on the roadways.  There are a few ways that both farmers and drivers can be prepared for harvest, as we celebrate National Farm Safety and Health Week, September 20-26.

Farmers have been working hard the last month to get all of their equipment ready for this busy season.  Part of getting our equipment ready for the field is also making sure our equipment is ready for the roadway.  Make sure that breaks and lights work, and that slow moving vehicle signs are attached.  

Be Safe on the Roads this Harvest - National Farm Safety and Health Week, September 20-26
Be aware and on the look for both large equipment and vehicles on the road.  Between tall corn, hills, and dusty roads, everyone needs to be prepared for oncoming traffic.  If everyone would use some caution and courtesy during this time of year, we can help reduce accidents.

Because visibility can be limited this time of year, farmers should consider having an escort vehicle to help call attention of farm equipment coming down the road.  This helps everyone share the road safely.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun fall, as we enjoy everything that makes this season so great!  What is your favorite thing about the fall season?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Quick Tips for the Des Moines LEGO Creativity Tour

We packed up the van last night and headed down to Des Moines for the first night of the LEGO Creativity Tour.  We had a blast and a lot of family fun!
Quick Tips for the Des Moines LEGO Creativity Tour - Big Brick Pile
We had to take a family selfie in the Big LEGO Brick Pile!
I know there will be hundreds of family visiting today and tomorrow, so I thought I would share a few quick tips to make your visit fun & efficient:
  • Preview the Map:  Once you arrive at Hy-Vee Hall for the LEGO Creativity Tour you'll receive a map of the show floor.  But you can preview it before you go by checking out their website's Plan Your Day tab.  We looked at the map before we arrived at the show and it was great to know what sparked interest of our kids before we got there.  Because once you get there you'll be in amazement of everything and won't be sure where to start.  But if you remember some of the locations that your kids were excited about, it'll help you get a good start.  
    Quick Tips for the Des Moines LEGO Creativity Tour - Preview the Map, Race Ramps
    One of the first places LP wanted to go
    was the Race Ramps!
    I will also let you know that the three hours per session is just about right.  We didn't have time to do everything, but we had time to do everything we wanted to and more.  None of the kids got bored or tired, it was just the right amount of time.
  • Know where the Freebies are:  There are a lot of activities and races you can do at the LEGO Creativity Tour and the best part is that they're all included with the price of your ticket!  Make sure to go to the Community Build.  After completing a fun build project, you'll receive a free mini Lego City kit and have a photo opportunity.  And by the way, wherever there is a photo opportunity, the staff there will take your photo and give you a copy of it afterwards.  Last night they were working through some glitches with their printers, so hopefully there won't be any for the the rest of the weekend.  
    Quick Tips for the Des Moines LEGO Creativity Tour - Freebies, Photo Opportunities at Community Build
    Here is an example of a photo opportunity
    LP, MP and I had fun showing LEGO Iron Man
    our Community Build projects
    If Lego kits are something you're interested in, then head to the LEGO Friends area next.  They will give you a mini LEGO Friends kit and there is a photo opportunity there too.  I also think there are mini LEGO kits at the Challenge Zone in the back of the show, but we didn't personally make it there.  And I think the Brick Battle Zone gives LEGO kits too, but those races and activities seemed to be better suited for kids older than ours (ours are 4, 2 and 8 months).  The next place you should stop by at some point in time is the LEGO Club.  Your kids can sign up for a free LEGO magazine that will arrive every other month at your house and at the show you can receive a free magazine and a little LEGO man kit.  Another fun photo opportunity is at the LEGO Super Heroes area, and finally, you can get a poster at the LEGO Bionicle location.  So just be aware of some of the free souviners you can bring home, and of course they have souviners you can buy at their LEGO Store and Marketplace ;)
    Quick Tips for the Des Moines LEGO Creativity Tour - Construction Zone display
    This isn't necessarily a freebie but at the
    Construction Zone you can have your
    creation displayed for all to see
  • Watch The LEGO Movie before you go:  We have 100 miles to travel to Des Moines, so it was just about the perfect drive to fit in The LEGO Movie on our trip to the LEGO Creativity Tour.  This is just a fun way to get in the mood for the show, and as soon as you enter the event you are greeted by characters from the movie such as Emmet, Lucy and Lord Business.
    Quick Tips for the Des Moines LEGO Creativity Tour - Emmet from The LEGO Movie in the Model Museum
    MP wanted to take her photo with Emmet
    in the Model Museum location
So are you excited and ready for your visit this weekend!  There are still tickets available for some sessions both today and tomorrow so you aren't too late to get in on the fun.  What are you looking forward to?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, September 18, 2015

5 Ways to have Fall Family Fun at Enchanted Acres

Fresh air, pumpkin spice and campfire are all smells you can expect to experience at Enchanted Acres, located outside of Sheffield, Iowa.  I have been lucky to have experienced this pumpkin patch grow over the last few years.  Yesterday, the kids and I had a great time checking out everything new for 2015 with the North Iowa Bloggers, and we wanted to share with you our Top 5 ways to have some Fall Family Fun at Enchanted Acres:
  1. Explore the Playground - This might seem like a simple thing, but the playground at Enchanted Acres is the first thing my kids want to go to when we arrive.  There are tractor tires to climb on, a sandbox with lots of shovels and toys, ladybug tire swings, and a few sit and scoot toys to drive around.  The playground is a great place for kids to simply run around and have some fun.
    5 Ways to have Fall Family Fun at Enchanted Acres - Playground
    MP and JP enjoying the playground
  2. Use Your Imagination at Books in the Barn - Books in the Barn was a new activity at Enchanted Acres last year that my family loved coming out for.  Each week has a new book theme where the kids get to listen to the book, make a craft related to it and eat a snack that is associated with it.  This weekend is "Teddy Bear Picnic", so be sure to bring your teddy bear!
    5 Ways to have Fall Family Fun at Enchanted Acres - Books in the Barn
    LP at The Lorax Books in the Barn last year
    He's eating his Truffula Tree Cotton Candy next to his paper plate Lorax
  3. Take A Silly Photo - Enchanted Acres is full of photo opportunities.  I swear every angle you turn is photo worthy.  When we came home from the pumpkin patch yesterday I asked the kids what their favorite part was.  LP said he loved pretending to be a witch!  From witches, to ghosts, to a pumpkin coach - there are many face cutouts that the family can have fun taking photos in.
    5 Ways to have Fall Family Fun at Enchanted Acres - Photo Opportunities
    LP the Witch
  4. Meet Nibbles the Goat - Nibbles the goat is the unofficial mascot of Enchanted Acres.  She is a pygmy goat who loves people, especially if you give her some goat food!  She oversees the pumpkin patch, along with several other goats.  You will have to go checkout their home.  The goats have a lot of fun ramps and bridges to play on that bring entertainment for both them, and observers.
    5 Ways to have Fall Family Fun at Enchanted Acres - Nibbles the Goat
    LP feeding Nibbles
  5. Decorate a Pumpkin - Each week there is a different pumpkin decorating workshop you can participate in.  From decorating with duct tape, to glitter, to paint - it is a fun activity to participate in where the mess stays literately in the barn and you can bring home the final product!  
    5 Ways to have Fall Family Fun at Enchanted Acres - Pumpkins
This is just the start of fun you can have at Enchanted Acres.  With the North Iowa Bloggers we also enjoyed going on a hay rack ride and making campfire pizzas and pies.  I can't wait to bring the kids back to explore the Enchanted Forest and look for fairies and to fire the pumpkin cannon.

5 Ways to have Fall Family Fun at Enchanted Acres - Hay rack ride with the North Iowa Bloggers
The North Iowa Bloggers on a hay rack ride
Abbey of Mind, Body, Babies, Laura of Cat Tales with Laura,
Becky of Knotty Things, Katy of Learning As I Go and Alicia of Fit & Farm

Shannon Latham, owner Enchanted Acres, has 30 varieties of pumpkins
Owner, Shannon Latham,
explaining the 30 varieties of pumpkins
Enchanted Acres opening weekend is this weekend and on Sunday, Enchanted Acres is a part of the Franklin County Farm Crawl.  Enchanted Acres is open 9am to 5pm Thursday through Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sundays through November 1st.  To get the full schedule, check out the Enchanted Acres website, and make sure to "Like" them on Facebook.  It is a great spot to keep up to date on their latest news and special offers.

I also have to put a special plug in for next Saturday, September 26th as Enchanted Acres is hosting the Make-A-Wish Iowa Fall Ball.  We'll have inflatables, face painting, balloon animals, horse drawn carriage rides, etc. and the gate admission will be donated to Make-A-Wish Iowa!  I hope you come out to support our local Wish families and future Wish children, as well as Enchanted Acres next Saturday.

Make-A-Wish Iowa Fall Ball September 26, 2015 Enchanted Acres

What is your favorite way to have fall family fun?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

It's the Final Cone-Down

* This post has been compensated. 
All views and opinions shared are my own. * 

♫ To do doo, to do do doo. To do doo, to do do do do doo.
The Final Cone-Down.  Oh... oh.  It's the Final Cone-Down♫ 

Sorry, I just had to do it!  When Blue Bunny told me about their #FinalConeDown campaign, I couldn't help but think of Europe's classic song (The Final Countdown), and I couldn't help but think of everything I love about summer that is coming to an end!

Enjoying the final days of summer, down to the last cone #FinalConeDown #ad
The #FinalConeDown reminds us that summer is coming to an end, but it still isn't too late to enjoy those favorite things from summer.  And for our family, that means picnics!  Yes, we do picnic all year long by spreading a blanket in our living room, but there is something extra special about picnicking on our deck, or at our favorite park.  We were lucky to be able to picnic last week, and LP and MP loved having some of Blue Bunny's Champ! Chocolate Lovers Ice Cream Cones for dessert (the kids' choice!).  If you are looking for a chocolate fix you've got to try these ice cream cones - chocolate ice cream, chocolate topping and chocolate cone.  It is a chocolate lover's dream put into one, simple, cone.

To celebrate the final days of summer, down to the very last cone, Blue Bunny is hosting a #FinalConeDown campaign.  You can get involved in the fun a few ways:
  • Visit Blue Bunny's Facebook page everyday from now through September 22 for a chance to win cool prizes, including personal electronics and gear.
  • Take a picture of how you're enjoying the last days of summer.  Add the hashtags #FinalConeDown and #BlueBunnyWinBig and post to Twitter or Instagram.  You'll receive a message from Blue Bunny with a link to click and confirm on.  And then you're entered for some cool prizes!  You can learn more on the #FinalConeDown website.
  • You can watch Blue Bunny's #FinalConeDown video:
  • and you can enter to win FREE Blue Bunny product on my blog!  I'm giving away 5 FREE Blue Bunny coupons for ice cream, ice cream sandwiches or ice cream cones to my readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
What's your favorite part of summer?  Remember to get involved with the #FinalConeDown campaign, enter the drawing for free ice cream, and Comment for a Cause!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Calm Before the Storm

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, "the calm before the storm" means: a quiet or peaceful period before a period during which there is great activity.  I think that can perfectly describe this time period for my family and I, right now, before fall harvest begins.  We are in a time period where we are planning and getting things ready for a busy phase of our year, and at the same time, we are able to get out an have a little fun before we'll be in the field, God willing, beginning at the end of this month and ending hopefully by Thanksgiving.

As for the harvest planning, we've primarily been busy getting our combine ready so we'll be able to harvest our corn and soybeans.  We went to a combine clinic (where you get information to help your combine preform better and more efficiently, as well as general harvest information and tips) last week and just today we bought a new grain wagon (which My Farmer followed up with, Happy Birthday!).  I am actually really excited for the new grain wagon because it will be "mine".  I am the grain wagon driver during harvest.  I follow the combine along passes through the field to catch the grain, and then I dump the grain into our semi-truck or grain wagons to be hauled to a grain bin for storage or directly to a grain elevator or ethanol plant.  This new wagon has the capacity of a semi-truck and has a meter on it so you can keep track of bushels and weight straight out of the field!

Our family tailgating last Saturday at Iowa State
JP and MP in the Stroller with My Farmer
and LP and I on the other side of Cy
On the home front, the kids and I have been in a really good flow and schedule since school started, and knock on wood, we've even been keeping up on our cleaning schedule.  We also, have even been able to get away from the farm to have a little fun with both family and friends!  Last weekend one highlight was that we headed to My Farmer's and my alma mater, Iowa State University, to tailgate and watch a Cyclone football victory.  Before we expect the corn and soybeans to be dry enough to start harvesting, we are looking forward to another game, our church's annual ice cream social, and a college friend's wedding.

So for now, I'm enjoying the little things, and peace, before we get busy with harvest.  (Now as I get ready to hit publish on this post, I hope this post doesn't jink the calmness and good flow we've been having lately, or my expectations for harvest to begin and end...)  What are some "calm before the storm" moments you have or have had?  Is your September easy-going or busy?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Comments for a Cause - BackPack Program

I can't believe it is September 1st!  I swear I was just introducing August's Comments for a Cause!  But I guess it was a month ago, so it is time to wrap up my donation to Alzheimer's Association and move onto a new cause.  Last month I had 56 comments, equaling a donation of $28.  Thank you to everyone that helped me rally around a young man's lemonade stand mission!

For this month I couldn't help but think of children across the country and world going back to school.  If you follow my blog, you know that our oldest son, LP, started Pre-K this year.  Going to school is fun and exciting.  When LP comes home from the school bus (which is one of his favorite parts of going to school) he has no worries (and not just because he doesn't have homework... yet at least).  He gets to come home, play with his sisters, eat a nice supper, and then gets to go to sleep in a bed.  But for some kids, including some of his classmates, eating a nice meal in the evenings and all weekend long is a luxury.  That is why, during the month of September, I'll be donating $0.50 for every comment made on any of my blog to the BackPack Program.

My son LP with his backpack ready for school

The BackPack Program provides a sack of kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare foods to low-income elementary children on Fridays before they go home for the weekend.  There is no cost for the children, their families or their schools to participate.  The contents of the backpacks vary each week, but often contain items like soup, juice, cereals, fruit cups, milk, pudding cups and snacks.  The Food Bank of Iowa estimates it costs less than $4 per sack to provide meals for these children weekly.

Does your school have a program like this?  What other programs have you heard of to help low-income children?  Remember to Comment for a Cause all month long!

Country Fair Blog Party: September 2015

It is September 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 show this month's link-up, I'm going to share my three Blue Ribbon winners from August's Country Fair Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner - Farm Girl Cook'n's "Grandma Charlie's Purple Ribbon Cinnamon Bread"
My first Blue Ribbon winner comes from Mary of Farm Girl Cook'n.  She shared her Grandma Charlie's Purple Ribbon Cinnamon Bread last month.  It is no surprise this is a ribbon winner since the bread literally already won her a purple ribbon as a 4-Her at the County Fair.  What I love about this bread is that it is similar to Amish Friendship Bread, except with no starter mix needed and you don't have to make tons of loaves to finish out the batter.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner - Minnesota Farm Living's "Agvocacy through baseball and the "big city" foodies"
My second Blue Ribbon winner goes to Wanda of Minnesota Farm Living.  She shared about a couple awesome agvocacy experiences that she got to be apart of earlier this summer in her Agvocacy through baseball and the "big city" foodies post.  The first event she participated in was the "Pig and a Pint" event in Minneapolis.  This event gathered influential foodies and pig farmers to talk about food.  It sounds like she had some great conversations and got to eat some delicious food.  The second thing she got involved with was a pork promotion at a Minnesota Twins game which included her throwing out the first pitch of the game.  How cool is that!  You better check out her post to learn more about both events.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: A Day in the Life of a Cow from Of Kids and Cows
My final Blue Ribbon goes to Jodi of, Of Kids and Cows.  She shared a neat post that documented A Day in the Life of a Cow on her blog, as told be one of her dairy cows.  It was a fun post that was also educational.  Their dairy cows get milked three times a day and fed twice a day.  Their cows eat 100 pounds of feed a day!  It sounds like besides milking and eating, this cow also enjoys napping and socializing ;)

Country Fair Blog Party monthly linky party - starts the 1st of each month
I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up this month as we have our Country Fair Blog Party.  Country Fairs are all about food, family, friends, farming, animals, arts and crafts, canning, baking and more.  And that is what our our blog hop is all about too.  Feel free to join our Country Fair by linking up to 3 of your posts.  This blog hop is a great opportunity to check out new blogs, and if you blog yourself, have your posts reach a new audience.  Be sure to visit some other party goers and let them know you are stopping by through the Country Fair Blog Party.

Country Fair Blog Party Co-Hosts
Also, be sure to visit my fellow co-hosts:
Jan or Tip Garden
Laurie of Country LINKed and
Nicole of Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom

We're excited to see everything you share this month!  What is your favorite link from this month's Country Fair Blog Party?  Whichever post is mentioned the most in the comments will receive my "Readers Choice" Blue Ribbon next month!  Remember to Comment for a Cause!