Saturday, August 31, 2013

While I was riding down the road today...

This morning I was feeling adventurous and decided to take a new route on my bike.  Instead of turning around at the corner of Conger and Comly, I decided to head north and make a big rectangle, (normally I just turn around and double-back). 

I don't know what has kept me from taking this route all along because it provided me with almost 2 miles (not continuous) of completely solitary cornfield travelling! 

I was biking along and saw what I thought was some strange plumage in the ditch...

As I got closer, I realized that this wasn't plumage at all, but the tail of a skunk!  Only for a millisecond did I consider that I might get sprayed.  I felt completely calm!  Calm enough for me to get my phone out and take his picture.

He couldn't find what he was looking for on that side of the ditch, so he sauntered across the road, gave me a pleasant, "Top of the mornin' to ya!" and continued to search for whatever it was he looking for.

"Huh," I said to myself, "That's not what I was expecting to see this morning!  If I wouldn't have taken this new route, look at what I would have missed out on!" 

And because I was in the middle of the road in the middle of a cornfield in the middle of the country, I really did say it out loud.

More proof that you just never know what will happen next!

Also, I hit 100 miles on my odometer!  Yay!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Crock Pot Lasagna

We love lasagna.  My friend Jenny prepares hers in loaf pans and then freezes them to feed her family of 4 (they have 2 young sons that aren't eating her out of house and home, YET!), my friend Laura makes lasagna using cheese ravioli, and my sister-in-law Lana's is just, well, out of this world.  Lasagna is so diverse; even after all these years, I still try different lasagna recipes.  I even went through a phase where I used ricotta cheese!  I got over that, I guess, but I have never jumped on the bandwagon for cooking the pasta before hand.

I came across a recipe for Lasagna at, a cool blog I found through The Real Farmwives of America and Friends community on Facebook. 

I tweaked the original recipe to feed my family of 6 and work in my Crock Pot.

1 pound browned ground beef
1 1/2 cans spaghetti sauce
8 ounces of bow tie pasta (uncooked)
16 ounces of cottage cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray (this REALLY helped with clean up, I don't know why I don't always spray it?!?!)
2.  Brown the ground beef and drain, then stir in the spaghetti sauce
3.  Layer 1/2 the beef mixture, half the bow tie pasta, 1/2 the cottage cheese, and about 2 cups of cheese in the Crock Pot
4.  Repeat step 3. 
5.  Cook on low for about 4-5 hours (This translates into me coming home at lunch to turn on the Crock Pot, or as our pastor's wife does:  get a timer like you'd use on a lamp.) 

The first time I made this, I let it cook from 9am until 6pm and it was too overdone.  It was still good, but the edges were kind of unsalvageable. 

What have you been cooking up in your Crock Pot lately????

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Scenes from the fair!

 Well, we have another year of 4-H and showing beef cattle under our belts.  It was a long week that flew by, the days were endless but happened in the blink of an eye, and we are EXHAUSTED!  (I know, none of that made any sense.  Trust me, though, that's how it happened.  If you've ever been a 4-Her with livestock, I'll bet you get it.)   
I'm too tired to put together anything well-organized, so here are just some random cattle-showing pictures for the aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends who are always so supportive of the kids  (also the majority are former 4-Hers)!

Danny and his junior heifer baldy.
Bernie:  mommy to the baldy, she and I are besties.  She and Drew... not so much.  She was kind of sick and tired of the whole deal by Friday night and gave him some 'tude. 

 June bug, one of the twins.  She won Grand Champion market heifer.  (O.k., I'll admit, there wasn't much competition, only two in the class.)
The morning of the open show, waiting to go in the show ring.  Chuckie the bull calf won grand champion Hereford bull calf.  It was REALLY exciting, the judge said lots of great things about the calf, we're kind of excited about next year when he'll be a big ole steer!

And, finally, one of my favorite "Mom" moments:  watching the boys work together showing the breeding stock.  This is our future!  I think we have two very good cattlemen in the making!
But, the best part of the week was spending time with friends who put up with our crankiness, helped us out, let us help them out if we could, and supported what I think is one of the best institutions in America--4-H!!!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

At last, 4-H General Projects Day had finally arrived and I was able to reclaim my dining room table!

Last Friday was the day I'd been looking forward to for quite a while:  4-H general projects judging day. 

I'm NOT a procrastinator, so the girls have had their projects finished for at least a week (except for the cookies, which needed to be baked the night before, of course!).   But, this means that their projects have been taking up space on one of the few "safe zones" in our house: my dining room table.  It drives me NuTs! having stuff laying out...

Contents of table (going clockwise):
1:  Bicycle poster-- topic:  ABC bike check, gist: check your "air pressure", "brakes", and "chain" before you set off on a big trip.
2:  American Girl Doll blanket--Holly's visual arts project, she learned some sewing machine basics.
3:  Chocolate Crinkle Cookies--DELICIOUS is all I need to say about these.  Emma did a great job following the recipe and she learned about kitchen measurements, which we all know is the KEY to successful cooking!
4:  Note board-- see previous post :)
5:  Drew's rocket--  finished at the VERY last minute (the night before) because this is Dave's area of expertise and Dave DOES procrastinate.  It launched very nicely, the judges seemed impressed as Drew explained to them what changes he made this year based on the feedback they (the same judges) gave him last year.  I was very impressed by his level of maturity as he "handled" the judges!  I swear, he's 10 going on 35!

So general projects judging day was a success!  The girls had fun presenting their projects for judging.  The judges are so good with the Clover buds, they ask good questions and praise the kids for their hard work.  Drew got a blue ribbon on his rocket, too!  The boys need to put the finishing touches on their crop posters before they get judged on the first day of the fair.  And then there are those cattle...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Boys are Blessed with Bovine Beauties!

One of my favorite things in the whole wide world is a cow and her calf (I guess that's two things....).  These lovely ladies are all set for the fair (in 1 week and 3 days)!  The Herefords are Drew's, he bought #15 to replace his cow who gave birth to the twins last year. (Fergie developed a tumor on her uterus and wasn't able to be bred again, so she had to be sent to market.)
#15, aka "Mackie", calved on Easter Sunday, and her son "Chuckie" is a nice little guy!  He has really curly hair, which is something we're not used to.  He leads pretty well and the work we do this summer will make next summer all that much easier; Chuckie will be Drew's market steer next year.
The black cow is Danny's first calf out of his original cow.  "Bernie" has been to the fair twice already:  as a junior heifer calf two years ago and as a bred heifer/summer yearling last summer.  She's a pro! 
Her first calf, "Belle", is a cutie and sweetheart (I have a HUGE soft spot for a black white-faced calf; way back when, my 4-H cow looked a lot like Belle)!  She seems to have inherited her grandmother's kicking gene, but we just know to give her hind quarters a wide berth and I've noticed that her kicks aren't as powerful as they were a month ago.  I think she's getting over it--Ha! Yeah right!  That doesn't happen. 
Moral of the story:  Just watch where you're walking.