Arts and Crafts

I’ve been working hard lately to build up my soap inventory and I must say I’m kinda diggin’ how some of them are turning out. I’ve come a long way from how my first soaps looked and hopefully I’ll continue to get better and even more creative.

So like I said I’ve been making some soap lately and I was able to get done another batch of Sassy Come Home (milk, honey, and oatmeal soap), Barefoot in the Grass, Lazy Lavender (which looks the best that I’ve done so far with that soap)20151115_12565120151115_130041 and oh my gosh… my most favorite and newest to the collection  – St. Nicholas Day. Yup you guessed it, it’s named after another Catholic Saint celebration! But seriously this soap is just plain awesome! I don’t know how to describe it, but it smells like Christmas trees and really good candles going. OK, not the best description, but when I took it out of the mold honestly I went back to where it was drying A LOT to smell it. I loved it so much that I ordered a couple more bottles of it the next day to make more soap with it before Christmas. The only thing that I’m not too crazy about it how I layered it in the mold. Not the worst, but I’m hoping to do better next time. I even made a couple of Hanging with Ed soap balls scented for Christmas :)20151113_153929

So after all that soap making, I wanted to make a sympathy card to mail out this week. So here is a nice simple design. I think I need to expand my color pallet from only blue bottles though. 20151112_055814


Posted in Cards, Soap | 2 Comments

St. Albert the Great Day!

Now I’m sure many of you don’t know what St. Albert the Great day is, but if you had a Dad named Albert and a son’s middle name Albert – well you get to know November 15th really fast! Quick history lesson for the day : Albert the Great was one of the Church’s greatest intellects. He studied at the University of Padua and later taught at Hildesheim, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Regensburg, and Strasbourg. He then taught at the University of Paris, where he received his doctorate in 1245. He was among the first and greatest of the natural scientists, gaining a reputation for expertise in biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geography, metaphysics, and mathematics. So you can just about imagine why we had to celebrate the day if you have someone named Albert in your Catholic family right?

And in our family we usually celebrated it in not your normal way. See Dad always loved homemade beef and barley soup, but us kids would much rather eat the homemade beef noodle soup. So when November 15th would roll around we would always have to pray twice for supper because more than once we would be having soup. And just to keep the fighting down – Ma would have make both kinds.

Well with just Daryl and I at home now, and Daryl not necessarily liking homemade noodle soup so much – it makes figuring out just what kind of soup to make on November 15th pretty easy. Yup, you guessed it! Homemade noodle soup. Now where are my sweat pants?

Noodles drying on the counter

Noodles drying on the counter

Posted in In the kitchen | Leave a comment

Exciting news!

We have big news for our family! William and Jude are engaged! Whooo Hoooo!!! They got engaged this afternoon and we couldn’t be happier for them.

Right now the plan is to wait a little until they are both out of school, so the wedding might not be for over a year. I can’t tell you how excited we are for both of them and all the unknown adventures that will await them. Congratulations!!



Posted in Family | 4 Comments

Summer flowers or should I say Winter flowers?

Mom was over the other day and wanted to know why my flowers were still alive. I guess I never thought about it until then. It’s one of those things when you walk by something every day and see it, well you kind of become blind to it. I’ve walked past these flowers for months and months and when the temperature got down to the 20’s the other day, I didn’t even think of covering up any outside flowers. And honestly if I did think about covering them up, well that wouldn’t have happened! But she was right, they do still look pretty darn good for mid November in Iowa. IMG_3445

So I thought I better check on my flowers that I stuck inside the greenhouse. I put them there because I wasn’t sure what else I should do with them at the time and it was as good as a spot as any other. And what I found was that they also were looking good for little or no water on them. I told my Mom that I would get the geraniums transplanted from these planters and give to her to keep over the winter. She usually has good luck keeping them from year to year and my guess is that they have a much better survival rate being at her house than mine when the snow starts to fly.

As for the rest? Well I’m going to ride it out and see how long they will keep alive. My guess is that I’m thinking Christmas. Yup I know that this is pretty optimistic – but who knows right?

Posted in Gardening | 1 Comment

Veterans Day and remembering Dad

I was looking through all the old photos that I have of Dad tonight, I decided on this one to post for Veterans day. It’s a picture of Dad with my two brothers many years ago. It’s also one that Mom likes quite a bit so it’s a win win. img520Dad was in the Korean War and even though as we got older and understood what actually happened in a war, he never talked about it much to us kids.

What I do remember him saying is that they were always so cold and hungry. One time someone got a ham sent to them that was from a packing plant in Iowa and I can still hear how it tasted so good! Now I don’t know if it was because they were so hungry or if it was because it was from Iowa, but it was one of the stories that Dad would tell us and it still makes me smile when I think about it. 

For a Christmas present one year we surprised Dad and gave him the gift of one of his army buddies from New York was coming for a visit for a week. It was one of those deals when you think it’s an awesome idea and then you start to worry. And for good reasons! We never told him, but only about a week before the visit was going to happen, his army buddy got sick and didn’t know if he could make the trip or not. WHAT?? Since I was the one who was talking back and forth with his friend at the time,  when I heard the news I instantly started to sweat and came the closest to having a panic attack that I probably ever will. Dad was so looking forward to the visit, I thought do we tell him or don’t we tell him? Daryl said that maybe we should ride this out and it’ll be fine. Well I’m telling you that I literally held my breath for the whole week! And I’m not kidding about that either! Mom and Dad were making plans and getting the house ready for the rare occasion of houseguests. When you live on a farm you really never have houseguests and much less for a week. Holy Cow! Yea, who was going to tell Dad that this whole thing that was planned for around 8 months might fall through?  Not me. So I would lay in bed awake for most of the night that week just worrying and worrying about it. And I knew that this was something way out of my control and just stop worrying, yea like that didn’t happen.

Well, it must be the clean living that I do (not really, I just said that :) ) but his army buddy was able to make it and I think they all had the best of times. See Mom and Dad went to visit this buddy and his wife when they were on their honeymoon in New York and always had plans to go back out again someday. They would write back and forth keeping each other up to date on each of their families especially around the Holidays. Dad and his friend 1952 in New YorkThis picture is Dad and his friend in 1952 in New York. Mom must have taken the picture – check out the top of Dad’s head. Yup, it’s cut off  

Well Dad started to have health problems and one thing led to the next, and the visit to New York the second time just never happened. So it was just perfect that their friend was able to come visit him.

Dad died that same year as the visit on November 9th, 9 years ago and his friend died Fourth of July weekend the next summer. As I think back about this Christmas gift, I think it was probably one of the nicest things that us kids ever did for our Dad.

So here’s to all the Veterans out there, and especially to my Dad and his New York Army Buddy! 

Posted in Family | Leave a comment

Can you believe it?

What a day! Daryl helped me last night work on getting the Federal paperwork done for the IRS along with getting a sales tax license so I would be ready for tonight. After we got everything done is was like a brick was lifted from my shoulders. I’ve been worrying about this for sometime now and once we started it, it honestly wasn’t so bad.

The reason that I wanted to get it done was because I had an appointment tonight with a local business that wanted to possibly sell my soap. So after work tonight I hurried to get a bunch all wrapped up with my information on it and of course I had more trouble than ever! It was one of those situations when you try and hurry the dang word documents just don’t work. So I scrapped the whole idea of trying to make the new labels with a word document and went back to a spreadsheet. I love spreadsheets. (OK, even that sounds creepy to me!) But my spreadsheet let me put in the information that I needed to be able to have it show up correctly on the bar of soap and I was back in business.

After I got the soap all wrapped up, we hurried up and headed North to the store. I called ahead and they were open until 7 pm and we were just trying to get there before it closed. We parked the car around 6:45 in the parking lot and after carrying in a couple of boxes she started to check out the soap that I brought. I have to admit that I felt a little weird and excited at the same time. But guess what? She bought everything that I brought there!! All 27 bars of soap. Now I’m sure that this isn’t a lot for some people – but for me? Well it was like a Jackpot! She paid me with a check so I have to remember tomorrow to open a new checking account. But once I got in the car I looked at Daryl and asked him if it would be weird if I went back in and traded in a dollar to frame ? It was my first dollar earned as a new business and all.  So back into the store I go and the lady is so nice, she just smiled and said absolutely she would trade in the dollar. SCORE!

What a good night this has turned out to be. Now looking at my soap inventory – I better get busy and get some more made! You just never know……



Posted in Soap | 4 Comments

Good-bye Earl, Good-bye Giggles

Yes it’s that time again when the cold wind starts to blow and we take a good look at what cows we need to keep during the winter and which ones will need to find new friends.

And sadly this year both Earl and Giggles went to another farm.

Now even though I know it’s coming it sure seems kinda sad. Earl has the biggest eyes and he just kept looking at me as if he was saying ‘Why’?  Yea, it wasn’t the best place to be tonight. IMG_3453But it’s part of farming and while we were loading them up to take them to the sale barn, the other cows just couldn’t believe it. They just stood by and almost seemed like their mouths were open in amazement. OK, maybe that was a little dramatic, but they did seem pretty scared and nervous.IMG_3457

I tried to give Earl an apple before we left but he was too scared to eat it. And what a racket that Giggles was making when we got to the sale barn. We thought at first the holsteins that were just getting unloaded in front of us were making all the noise, you know how those holsteins are :)  but we found out that it was Giggles just bawling. I think dropping cattle off at the sale barn is like your first days of Jr. High. You are in a new place, everyone is checking you out, you are checking everyone else out, and there are even some loud ones in the group. You also know that you’ll make new friends soon. The only difference is that the lunch hour just might not be the same as what you were used to. I mean do you think their new owners will buy them apples to give them as an afternoon treat? I don’t think so.

I’m going to really miss Earl. IMG_3450It’s not that I didn’t like Giggles, but he wasn’t the most friendliest.IMG_3451Nice, but not just someone that you could walk up to and give him a good head scratch. I think Daryl thinks that I might get too attached to our cattle. When I told him that he will never.. and I mean NEVER sell No Ears he just looked straight ahead while he was driving the pickup and didn’t move at a muscle. He must have  practiced this look because he didn’t even flinch. And I was looking pretty close! I said that she can grow old and just eventually die on the farm. Again – no movement from Daryl. But I know he was listening because I could see him giving me a sideways glance like we’re going to have to talk about this some more.

But for now – Good-bye Earl and Good-bye GigglesIMG_3458

Posted in Farm animals | 1 Comment

Girls day out – Whooo Hooo!!

Today my Mom, 2 of my 3 sisters, my two sister in laws, and my niece spent the day shopping, eating, and then ended the day going to a Play. We had a great time.

The day started out with a little shopping. I know that I’ve said this before, but our Mom ROCKS when it comes to gift giving. And while most of us are just starting to put together our Christmas lists, Mom is almost done with all her shopping. So today she was the only one that was able to get two more gifts checked off her list. The mall wasn’t crowded at all and with a lot of sales going on it was a good time to pick up a few things that she wanted to get.

Next was to go to grab something to eat. My nephew and his family joined us and that’s always fun to see them. The weirdest thing happened to us though at this restaurant. OK, so there was 10 of us in our group and we were seated and looking at our menus on what we should order. Well honestly everyone was talking at once and no one saw that one of the workers came to the table and talked to my sister and Mom. What we found out was that this worker who greeted us didn’t do it correctly or something (no sure?) anyway that she apologized and wanted to make it up to us. First of all we didn’t even know that she was supposed to greet us and then What?  So we all were given free desserts compliments of the house. Now normally I don’t order desserts, but if it was that important to her… I guess I could order one :) We all had a round of glasses filled with cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Yummm.

The night ended up with all us girls heading to the Amana Colonies to the Old Creamery Theatre. The play was “The Church Basement Ladies in The Last (Potluck) Supper” IMG_3438It was so funny that I even caught myself laughing out loud a couple of times. This was the last play that was wrote for the Church Basement Ladies and it sounds like all 5 plays these past 5 years have been amazing. The brochure said that nearly 30,000 tickets were sold in the first 4 years for these plays. We had such a good time and I sure hope that we can do something like this again soon.

And what did Daryl do while I was gone? Well he saw that the bale feeder which seems like he bought not that long ago, is looking a little tough. I’m not saying who’s responsible for it looking this bad but the name of the cow is two letters and starts with an ‘E’. So here is the feeder that is currently being used IMG_3442and here is Daryl unloading the new one that he bought today. IMG_3439Just a little different right?

And the photo of the day is one of our chickens. When I was in the cow yard, I noticed that the chickens found a good spot to get out of the wind but still be in the sunshine. They are inside the shed with the corn stalk bales. Come to think of it, I should probably check to see if they are laying eggs out there.IMG_3443

Posted in Family, Farming, Places to visit | Leave a comment


We have my side’s St. Nicholas Party coming up and with the challenges of trying to get everyone all together at once, we decided to have this annual party to include the Christmas gift exchanges. Now granted this isn’t a small little task to get everyone all together. The last time I counted there are 57 people who will be joining us this year and honestly doesn’t that sound like a party just waiting to happen!!

But with that many people also comes a challenge of where we can have the get together. So this year it’s going to be at our farm and I couldn’t be more excited. Now the planning begins! And what comes with planning? Well… spreadsheets of course! The first one is one that I’ve made that divided out all the food that we will need for the party. Each family will be bringing a food category (desserts, salads.. ) and hopefully it’ll work OK. It should, but since it’s the first time that we’re doing this I guess we’ll see.

So the spreadsheets that I made look a little too boring and I realized that I needed to personalize them a little bit. I decided to make up some St. Nick’s cards quick to go along with them and I think it might have worked. I gave two of them out last week and these are the ones that I’m planning on hand delivering tomorrow. They all had the same theme but just a little different.

Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards

Posted in Cards, Family | Leave a comment

Roast Beef

We are not big roast beef eaters and to be honest I don’t know that we’ve ever eaten a whole roast after I cooked it.Usually we become very good friends with our cats and dogs. But I was determined this time to make it so good that we’ll eat it.

So of course I wanted to get it into the crock pot as soon as I could so I had to think fast on my feet. I thought it those people on that one cooking show can make full meals in 30 minutes – heck bring on the challenge!

I ran quick to get the crock pot heating up while I started to brown the roast beef. Next thing to do was to put some type of base in the crock pot so I grabbed an onion. I mean onions go with everything right? So I sliced that up and into the crock it went. Then I saw some celery in the refrigerator and some carrots – so they joined the party. The only thing that puzzled me was why in the world wasn’t the crock pot getting hot? Well, I found out that I had it only on warm! Good thing I’m not on any cooking show. But to my defense, I lost the knob a couple of years ago, so you have to use the ‘feel’ method to see where you’ve got it set. OK, now we were cooking and I mean literally! I had some green peppers that I had in the freezer from this summer so I put some of those in the pan and then added my roast. Well it kinda looked bland so I sprinkled a packet of powdered Ranch dressing over it. I crossed my fingers and left it alone for a few hours. After it was done, I took the cooled broth and pureed it for a gravy and reduced it on the stove to make it even thicker, oh yea and I added some butter to it :)  And guess what? It’s really pretty good! I think I’ll serve it over mashed potatoes or noodles. Come to think of it , probably homemade noodles – yum.

Posted in In the kitchen | Leave a comment