Roamin’ Catholics again!

Yup, it’s that time of the year again on the calendar – it’s Lent!

And what does that actually mean? Well it means that it’s Roamin’ Catholic time again – WhooooHoooo!!!  and with my brother and sister in law – –  we’re off to find new places to eat fish every week. Now trying to find a new location always isn’t as easy as it sounds! The reason that I say this is because it’s been a couple of years since we started this tradition and sometimes it can be a challenge.

But we seem to manage pretty good with some extra imagination on our side!  Our last adventure took us to the bar called Togi Pub.It was a recommendation from the Blue Bird Tavern that was just down the road.  Now with a name like Togi Pub how can you expect anything but a good time and good food? Granted it was literally in the middle of nowhere and I’m pretty sure it was also the only business in the town. But when you walk into the bar and you see it filled with the locals, you know that it was a good choice! And how did we know that they were all locals in the bar? With the bar being small, and remember it was the only place in town to go, when we walked in everyone, and I mean everyone turned to see who we were! But then after a once over, they turned back to their business almost as fast. We all had a great time. I wonder where the next fish fry will take us?

 

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Making soap….

About this time of the year I start to panic and freak out a little bit because I’ve got a vendor show coming up the end of May and even though that does sound like a long ways away – I know it’s going to come up fast!

So these past few weeks I’ve been working on getting soap made along with thinking about a couple of donation baskets. I try to donate to fundraisers about 3 times a year – the amount really just depends on the year. But all my donation baskets are for a good cause and I honestly don’t mind. This years donation baskets are for the Sons of American Legion fundraiser in Lawler to support for service dogs for Veterans; St. Wenceslaus church for their Guild at the Daddy (Father Figure)/Daughter Dance in Spillville; and seeing if I can get a basket done yet for the Art Museum for the Art in Bloom Garden Club show in Milwaukee.

With the May show coming up I’m always looking for new methods and trying out new things – sometimes they work… and sometimes they don’t. I had the biggest mess the other day and you know when you’re trying something new you say to yourself ‘don’t worry’ it’s the first time that you’ve done this. Yeah, well that’s what we try to say and convince ourselves right? But in this case I was saying it over and over in my head because I didn’t have a small mess, I had a full blown kitchen mess!  It literally looked like someone was slinging soap and I was standing in the middle of them while they were having a fight! But I figured that there is no way to get better at something than to keep working at it. And when it’s all said and done the soap looked a little better than I had hoped with using these flower tips for the first time.

Now everything that I’ve read about these particular tips was that they are hard the first couple (or twenty 🙂 ) times that you use them. So I’m hoping to give them a try again this weekend on some other soap that I have set aside. I’m guessing that it’s going to go much better. Heck it honestly couldn’t get much worse!

 

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Gravel roads

As I’m writing out a Thank you note to our road grader man today I can’t help feel how vulnerable we are and at the mercy of our country roads for not only in the Winter but also in the Spring.

January and February were just crazy months this year. I mean we had not only got record  amounts of snow this year, but when you add 40 to 60 mph wind to those amounts… I’m just saying that you’ve got a Party going on! It was such crappy weather these two months that when the weather forecast was 3 – 4 inches of snow the thoughts was  ‘well that’s not such a big deal’. Now granted the roads were completely full already with snow banked up on each side, but if you only add a couple inches of snow on top of that with no wind – Heck I could even leave on time those mornings for work and not worry too much that I’ll be late.

But now that we have Spring knocking at the door and with the forecast of mid 60’s for today with 0% chance of rain, you know that’s going to be a good day! This good weather will hopefully help with getting the roads back into shape from what happened when the snow melted and the earlier rains that happened this year. I took a couple of pictures of our road and honestly the pictures didn’t do it justice! Most of the road literally had washed away. I’m pretty sure Daryl is thinking I’m a big chicken when it comes to our roads washing out. See the road was getting close to becoming really bad and one night after work I forgot and started to head to our farm from the East. Bad decision. When I saw the water literally disappearing into the road about halfway across it and no bottom in sight – yeah, I decided that I’m not going to drive over that! So what does any country person do? Well we back up right? And if you’ve lived in the country I’m just saying we are all experts in backing up for some reason. So as I’m almost all the way up the hill from our road while backing up, I can see a red pickup heading my way. I just knew that Daryl was coming to say that I can get through. Now while I’m watching the truck slowing making it across I knew that’s what he was doing.  And was I right? Yup, he said that it would be OK to go across it. . Well I thought OK I’ll do it and if the car falls down into the depths of who knows where, I guess it’s not going to be my fault that’s all I’m saying! Well I made it but I’m not so sure I should have drove on it. And by the next morning there was no one that was going to get through!

I know that even though our road looked bad that there are a lot of others that had their roads completely washed away or they’ve even had to evacuate their farms and homes, so I’m not going to complain about ours. The road leaving our farm heading West has been good and as long as I can get to work I’m OK with that!

 

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Good-bye Winter Village!

Good-bye Winter Village and Helloooo Spring!

Some call them Christmas Villages but when they’re left up past the Christmas season and they are in our house they soon become called ‘Winter Villages’.

I really don’t mind that they stay up longer than Christmas do you? Seriously they are kind of a nice addition to our kitchen decor and they are displayed out of our way so it’s a win win! I think I l leave them up maybe a week or month longer than they should just because maybe I’m can? For some reason every year once I get the houses up one or more of the bulbs in the buildings seem to give me trouble. So I have to jump back up on the countertop and hopefully keep my balance by hanging onto one of the cupboards as I reach out to grab the house. I stare at the bulb like it’s going to give me an answer or something why it wasn’t working and then I find out that it either it came loose or just had enough and quit working. Whatever the case, once I see that most of them are working that’s the way they stay until they come down again. My theory is that some of the town folk went to bed early 🙂

But now that it’s Spring outside and I’ve seen about a hundred (OK maybe only about 20) robins! I think it’s safe to say that Spring is actually just around the corner and it’s time to get this Winter Village back into the boxes and put up something a little bit lighter and more like summer for the next couple of months!

Good-bye village for another year!

 

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Sorry Sister Mary Amelia!

One thing leads to another…  

I went to a Catholic school for my elementary education and even though I might not have remembered everything that I had heard from the nuns, I do remember that you are not supposed to worship idols or in this case a new appliances!  

Well, having that said I’m thinking that I might be having one strike against me on this one. See we’ve had so much trouble with our refrigerator freezing just about everything you can imagine,  along with the stove only having a couple of the top burners working (if even that!), so we finally bit the bullet and ordered a new refrigerator and stove a couple of months ago.

And do I like them? Heck ya!! When we first got the refrigerator I went out and bought a whole grocery bag full of lettuce just because I could! OK so was that a little obsessive? I suppose so, but no way to test it out then to give it your all right? I also bought quite a few cream cheeses but I’m sure that I’ll be using these guys up soon so they don’t count 🙂

Now for the stove. LOVE IT! But to be honest I had to figure out the differences between how our old stove worked and this new one. See we went from electric to gas. And when I asked the appliance store guy how to turn the burners on while he was installing it, I soon realized that he honestly shouldn’t be playing any poker soon! He looked at me like I was an Alien or something and wondering why I would be allowed to use any type of an appliance, especially one that has an open flame!     Whatever.

Now when we had to take the old stove out and get the area ready for the new gas one, we went to using a hot plate for our cooking.  And how did I like the hot plate? Not so good. OK it was absolutely terrible!! Do you know that they make hot plates that have a safety shut off to them so they won’t get too hot? Well obviously I didn’t when I bought the one that we had and when it took me over 15 minutes to just to get to a  halfway boil point for water to cook pasta one night – well the next day I threw the hot plate and the pasta in the garbage! They should be called a warming plate – NOT a hot plate!! So much for the Catholic patience.  Guess how long it takes me to boil water now with our new stove? Maybe a minute or two. SHAZAM!

Now that we have the new stove in, I also bought a new hood for on top of it. Normally people love having their microwave and hood above their stove, but with our cupboards being lower than normal it just didn’t work for me. I kept getting my Jethro kettles almost stuck on top of the stove when canning. Just not cool and refer back to the patience comment above .

So with the difference in where the hood goes we now will need a new backsplash – and if we’re doing that I’ve always wanted the cupboards painted so I might as well get that done also!  And for our floors in the kitchen? Well we’re not digging them anymore either so maybe in a year or two we’ll need to switch them out too. Yup it’s a good thing that we got the refrigerator and stove on sale 🙂

 

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ARUBA 2019!

ARUBA – One Happy Island!

I never take it for granted when we’re able to go on any trips, and once again I couldn’t believe that we could be so lucky to be able to head some place warm this winter. It just seems like it has been a very lonnngggg winter and I am so ready to get away!

With all the snow, this is the amount of plows out one day just trying to keep the roads open

OK, so this is how the weather looked the week before we left. It’s a picture of the trees behind our house. Looks cold and let me tell you that it is!! Blizzard warnings were out the week before we left and the wind chill temperature were between 50 & 60 degrees below 0. WHAT!! It was time to get out of the Midwest and head for warmer grounds.

And that’s exactly what we did! Our flights went well even though the Chicago connection had us running through the airport – we made all our flights and that’s all that really matters! We were heading to Aruba!! 

When we get to the hotel it’s pretty much the same routine – it was time to check it out! Since we’ve stayed at this hotel chain quite a few times over the years, we new that it was going to be good. Well with the first look when we were standing in the lobby, we knew that we were right! It was going to be a good week – A VERY good week!

I soon realized that Aruba has the most beautiful beaches that I’ve ever seen in any of our travels. And the warm temperatures of 85 to 90 °F every day with a breeze made the wait to get out of the cold weather all worth it!  We laughed more than once about the weather because every day it is exactly like the day before! Kind of like the movie Groundhog Day but without the snow and work stuff 🙂  The best job to ever have is to be a Weather person in Aruba. With 10 inches of rain or less a year and every day sunny & breezy, seriously how can you call the weather wrong?

When we booked our trip we didn’t know that the island was going to have a Mardi Gras parade the next day, and we were ready to join in the fun! Now the front desk clerk said that the parade started at 10:00 am and goes to 7:00 pm – but don’t go downtown until at least  2:00. OK, it sounded a little odd to go down so late, but then we found out that everything, and I mean everything slows down on the island. So we found some good food and then in a cab we all went and we were off on our first excursion – downtown Aruba to the Mardi Gras parade! And guess what? With there being 15 to 20 groups each year participating in the parade, hundreds of people are in each group, and with this being it’s 65th year of the parade – it was absolutely unbelievable! The costumes, the amount of people, and just the whole afternoon! And with most of the locals waiting for the parade since the very early hours of the day, let’s just say it was a Party! Now did it come by around 2:00 where we were standing? Nope, it finally started to come through around 3:00 🙂  With the music so loud that you could feel your clothes actually moving off your chest, and everyone dancing and having a great time, what a fun thing to see and be a part of!

Like I mentioned earlier, our beach was one of the most beautiful beaches that I’ve ever seen on our vacations. It was so white that it felt almost cool when you walked on it barefoot. And as far as you could walk out into the ocean, you had this white powdery sand under your feet. It was absolutely perfect!

Other things that we did on our vacation was to go on a submarine tour. Now normally I’m one of those tourists that hook a snorkel mask over my face after you spit on the glass and head to deeper water to check out the fish and coral. But honestly this gig was so much better! You ride a boat out to the submarine meeting place and once your’e on the submarine you find your spot for the next hour. We saw tons of fish and how often do you get to park the submarine you’re riding on the bottom of the sea at 135 feet! For me before Aruba? Never! 

The rest of the time was spent hanging out at the pools or beachor watching the shows that they had every night. It’s unbelievable how talented the people are in those shows!

One day we saw some a bunch of people carrying concha shells by us and after talking to them they said the beach wasn’t far from our hotel. So of course we wanted to check it out! After taking a short walk on the boardwalk along the beach,and passing by the many aloe vera plants that the island is known for

we ended up on a beach that was literally covered with shells! One of the locals told us that when the tide turns with the hurricane season it washes up all these shells on this beach. OK, I think ‘beach’ isn’t the best description for this. It looked like the whole area was made from lava rock or maybe it was dead coral reef – extremely sharp and with only geckos and small animals living in the crevices. Even though it was kind of an extreme from our beach, it was still pretty cool!

We knew that this great vacation was about to end, and we found ourselves once again on the plane heading back to Iowa. Now we were hoping that the all the snow would be all gone once we got home.

Was it?

Hummm.. not so much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday William!

It’s William’s Birthday! Whooohooo Happy Birthday!!

It’s hard to believe that he’s 25 already! I know the saying that everyone says, ‘just where did that time go’? But that is exactly what I’m feeling about now. These past couple of years just seem to have flown by! It’s kinda scary isn’t it? I mean will the next 25 years go just as fast? I guess time will tell. 

So what will our plans be for William’s birthday? With Kyle home this week from New York 🙂 we had plans on all going down to William’s and Jude’s  apartment and spending the weekend with everyone before Kyle had to fly back home again. So with a huge pan of lasagna, some salad, french bread, home made caramel pecan turtles, cinnamon rolls, and a birthday turtle cheese cake all ready to go to the kids, our plans had changed. With another storm blowing in and the word Blizzard was used more than about 30 times an hour I swear – we weren’t able to spend as much time as we wanted before we had to head back to the farm. Which meant that we couldn’t spend the weekend with the kids which was a total bummer! But because William was taking Kyle to the airport on Sunday morning, they were able to hang out together on Saturday which was nice. And did we get the blizzard that they were talking about? Yes we did! We made it back to the farm just as it was turning from rain to snow and also before the winds started to pick up. Man, can’t they be wrong just once this year about the forecast! 

My most favorite guys in the whole world!

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Baby it’s cold outside!

This past week in Iowa was almost unbearable! OK I know that this Arctic Blast has moved across all the states – but Holy Smokes was Iowa cold! 

Seriously on the way to work the other day I went from air temperature – 33 to -32 and I honestly thought to myself ‘Oh Thank Goodness, it’s warming up! ‘ Now I don’t know about you, but – 32 with windchills at -53 degrees isn’t really a heat wave! 

And the worst part about it was that in the midst of it all they called off all the county trucks so there was going to be no snowplows on the country roads to get the open. Not good! Well Daryl took the truck one morning and made a path, and then he drove me to work because we both needed the truck that day and there was no way the car was going to make it.

But the good news was that later in the day Daryl started to dig out the road from the East and our neighbor also worked on clearing the road,  and by the end of the day there was a pretty good path made. You just hoped that you weren’t going to meet someone else on the path otherwise I’m pretty sure you were going to be stuck!

This is the path to the West. Not as bad as going East, but with the ditches full it fills up the road pretty fast! 

There was a lot of talk this past week of what you should and shouldn’t do with this extreme weather and the one thing was to turn your thermostat up to at least 70 degrees so your furnace wasn’t going to work so hard. OK, now this sounds like a pretty good idea! With having a large farm house, we don’t normally turn it up that high, but if we’re supposed to .. who am I to argue! And man oh man is it nice in the mornings! Normally when I get out of the shower it can be pretty cold, but lately? It’s nice! I don’t think I’ll be smiling as much once our heating bill comes for the month, so for now I’m going to just enjoy it! 

So with extra bedding down for the cattle, letting our dogs come in as much as we can, and extra fuel additives to keep our gas tanks from freezing, we buckled down for the week and just tried not to have our nostrils freeze shut! 

How many days until Spring?

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Working with steam

Even though it was a Saturday, when Daryl got out of bed this morning at 5:15 am I also got up. There was a lot of stuff that I wanted to do, and I’m trying to be more of a morning person – so out of the warm bed I got.  

We didn’t get too much snow last night, but we did get enough to cover the ground which is still OK. If the weather turns really cold without any snow on the ground the cold goes too far down in the ground and then your water pipes start to freeze. It doesn’t make anyone happy when that happens. People or the cows! 

So like I said I got up early to get something done. After stripping the bed and cleaning up our bedroom, I decided to ‘help’ Daryl with his side of the closet. So I took everything out of the closet, sorted it by color and like items, moved some of his stuff to storage for the summer and got his pants and shorts in order. It looks good even if I say so myself! 

Next on the list was to clean both William’s bedroom that I use now for a storage room for my soap supplies and also Kyle’s bedroom. To be honest I still had Christmas paper strewed on the floor from wrapping Christmas gifts and I had more boxes that I think Staples has in their store in William’s room. So out they went! 

Then I moved on to my scrapbook room. Whew it was a mess! But with a little love and some time I’m back in business. Not a minute too soon because Ma’s birthday is this week and I better get a nice card made for her. 

After organizing some tax papers, getting 5 loads of laundry done, and the sidewalks all shoveled and swept, it was time to KonMari my socks. I’ve been putting this off because I don’t think that I would want to get rid of any of them. So as I’m going through them I’m thinking – only get rid of ones that you don’t love. OK, so I think I got rid of maybe 3 socks and kept around 20 pairs. Well maybe I just love all ! 

I was on a roll so I put some homemade beef and barley soup on the stove for dinner and with some bananas on the counter I also made some banana bread. While I had the oven going I quick threw in some sugar cookies for dessert and then got all my dishes cleaned up.

Now it’s noon, so I sure hope that I can get as much done after dinner as I got done before! I’m kinda guessing that I’ll run out of steam, but I guess time will tell.  

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You just never know

Usually when the weatherman forecasts ‘Heavy Snow, Blizzard Conditions’, and ‘Whiteouts’.. they are usually call it right. Well until yesterday.

Now we’ve been very lucky so far with the weather. I mean it’s almost February and no real snow storms yet. OK sure it snowed early in the season, but honestly if there isn’t ice in the yard and I can get back and forth to work, I’m calling it a successful winter so far! I checked on the cows yesterday when I got home from work and it almost seemed like they knew the weather was going to change. Either that or they were just wondering why I was taking a picture of them… again! 

So the weather report was looking grim yesterday and some schools even called off the classes before the day started. Crazy! But when it started to snow and the visibility wasn’t the greatest, I guess it was probably a good call after all. But then the weather just kind of fizzled out. Now granted we did get some snow and with no real idea how much snow we actually got – some places was quite a bit where the wind blew it in and other places the snow was only a couple of inches. Well my best guess? Maybe 6 to 8 inches. Not bad and from the original forecast it could have been much worse! 

 

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