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Showing posts from June, 2012

What I Learned From Grandma Rene

Today, my Grandma Rene is 92 years young. I can't hardly believe it! Only in the last few years has she appeared old to me, but she is still active and fairly sharp. Over my life I have learned a few things from her.


A little background: She was born in 1920. She grew up on a farm during the 1920's and 1930's. She lived during the Depression. She lost her father at 16 years old. She graduated high school and worked as a hired girl until she married my grandfather, Roger, in 1942. She followed him during the WWII as he was a Second Lieutenant with the 807th AAF Base Unit. After the war they settled down on a farm in northwest Iowa and she gave birth to six sons. My grandfather passed away in 1968. In 1972 she went to nursing school so that she could provide for her sons after the farm was sold. She worked as a nurse until 1995(?) when she retired. She married my step-grandfather, Curtis, in 1995. He passed away in 2010. She has buried three of her six sons.

She is a tough …

Friendship Advice for Teenagers

Looking back at my teenage years, I was a horrible friend. I had no idea how to uphold friendships and no idea how to deal with others when I was hurt by them. I know what I did wrong now by watching my teens negotiate their way through friendships. I also want to apologize to everyone I hurt during that time.

I want to pass on some wisdom that I hope helps you.

Here is some advice for you to take to heart:

1. Treat others how you would like to be treated.

2. If you want your friends to listen to your problems, start by listening yourself.

3. Your friends will hurt your feeling from time to time. Forgive quickly and move on.

4. Respect and trust can be quickly earned and given. Respect and trust are not easily regained when lost.

5. You can be friends with lots of people. It is okay. But don't forget those that have been friends with you for a long time.

6. Honesty is the best policy. You will hurt your friends sometimes with your honesty and they will hurt your feelings when the…

Eating Naturally

We have been making the switch at our house to watching what we eat. We are trying to make more from scratch and eating more naturally produced foods instead of artificially processed foods. I have friends who are 100% into the clean eating life and I envy them. We are not there and I doubt at this point in time we will be. But the changes I have been making are starting to reap the results.

I did not jump into natural eating for political or societal reasons. I did it because of our health and well-being. I did it because I did not feel comfortable with eating the preservatives and additional things they added to processed food. I did it because I kept finding MSG being added to food under different guises such as natural flavorings. I did it because the effects of processed food on my children and myself were mind boggling.

The changes I made at first were small: little to no high fructose corn syrup, no dyes like blue 4 and yellow 10, no MSG whatsoever, and decreasing the amount of…

Kids and The Public

I just came home from the tractor pulls in Wisconsin. I had a great time and the little break from home life and the kids was just what I needed to get recharged. Notice I said a little break from my kids. I missed them like crazy and wished they could have come, but the thing is...they don't care for the tractor pulls. They would be fine sitting through one show/night of the pulls, but five shows would be torture in their eyes.

Some of the things I see at the pulls and in general public just makes me shake my head. I don't like to condemn other parents for doing what they feel is best for the child and them. I am all for taking my children with me if they would like to go with me. Sometimes I do exert a little pressure to have them come with me if I think a life lesson or a skill could be learned.

I just can not handle the parents who do absolutely nothing to control their kids. Nothing. Case in point: We were sitting in the top row of the bleachers. A young boy of 4-5 years …

Food Storage Bucket Style

Five gallon buckets are so handy! I use them for so many things and I can never get enough of them! This is one of the most popular ways that I use them at my house. I store food in them. They are easy to store in, accessible, can hold a fair amount of food, and can by easy to store. 
How do I store my food in buckets? Let me show you! (And apologize for my messy basement. It has since been cleaned up!) 
First, I get an empty, clean five gallon bucket. Such as the one pictured.

I like to use gamma seal lids. They are very handy, easy to use, and a dickens to get on. Separate your gamma seal lid and put the seal part on the bucket. 

Might need one of these and some serious hammering with the mallet. No need to be gentle here.

Once the seal is on the bucket, congratulate yourself. The hard part is over! Fill the bucket like shown here. 

Screw your lid on tight and you have a sealed bucket. That you can unseal without hurting your fingers and breaking fingernails like you would with a r…

Strawberry Jam Fever (and a few tips!)

I have been making Strawberry Jam for the last few days when I have a few moments. I found a really good deal on them at the store as well as getting a few from my garden. We love, love, love strawberry jam! This is also the one thing I can make that my oldest child does not give me grief for canning.

I did something different this year. I use to make freezer strawberry jam. This year, I made it and canned it because (1) I don't have room in either of my freezers and (2) I wanted to actually can it this year. 
First I made regular Strawberry Jam or so I thought. This is soooo much better than the recipe I had been using! This recipe came from the Food In Jars blog to whom I am eternally grateful for all the canning recipes they post. Some day, I will get through all of them! Please click on the link for their recipe!
There they are in the middle. Right next to my canned chicken. Delish!
Next I made Strawberry Balsamic Jam. I had some balsamic vinegar to use up and I had heard grea…

Garden Goals Update

Remember this post: 2012 Gardening Goals, Dreams, and Prayers

The one where winter got on my nerves and I decided I need some direction to dream about the summer that was eventually coming?

Yep, me too. So I am updating you on it where I am at, what I have done, what will get done, and what will have to wait another year.

The thing is when I wrote this list, I seriously thought I would have more time or that time would slow down a smidgen so I could do all this. Please just keep that in mind. Then laugh because you all knew I was being delusional!

Without further delay, the list as I posted it and the update behind it in a different color:

1. Plant three rows of potatoes this year instead of two rows. Two was not enough. I am not sure three will be either, but I need to expand slowly. Yes, this happened!!! I didn't think I would have enough for three rows, but lo and behold I did!

2. Plant 6-8 hills of sweet potatoes. This will be a new crop for us this year. By tonight, I will …

Ball games have taken over my free time! (And how to save a little money going to the games!)

Sorry about the lack of posts lately! My kids' ball games have taken over my free time. What I have left over has gone to my garden and my house. I know, I know...I let it happen, but my kids love to play ball!

Consequently, June is our most expensive month even beating out December. I have some ways to save money while going to all the games in the summer. Some may surprise and some may not!

1. Buy an activity pass for the year. By the time softball rolls around, the activity pass for the high school sports have paid for themselves. I know it seems like a big cost upfront, but you save a lot of money by the end of the school year. This is something my kids' grandparents have chosen to gift us with, saving me even more money and it is a gift that pays itself year round!

2. Bring your own drinks and snacks. I buy an eight pack of sports drink for $4.00 a pack. These sports drinks can easily cost $2.00 a bottle at the concession stand. The same thing goes for water. A 24-pack of…