Mini Vacation Adventures


The weather is quickly changing from winter to that great season called camping.  I am so ready for that time.  We love to put the tent in the car and take a mini vacation.  Leaving early in the morning, when the sun is just coming up, makes it feel even better.  I know it is still a little while before it is tenting season but a gal can dream and plan.

A couple years ago we decided we would go check out the annual Red Power Round Up.  That year it was held in Huron, South Dakota.  My husband is pretty loyal to red tractors and this was an entire event that was saturated with everything red. I am not sure at what age a tractor qualifies as vintage, but if it is older that 1977, everything my husband uses is vintage!  We spent Friday in Huron, at the State fairgrounds looking at more red tractors of every type and year than I had ever seen in one place before.  They did have a vendor fair and even had some crafts for me to check out.  Most of the those were, of course, centered on the color red. The barn quilts really caught my eye but I did not purchase any of them because, somehow, I kept thinking I could probably make one……I still haven’t done that.


After we left Huron we had decided to see if we could find a spot at Lake Thompson State Park to set up “the Palace”. The Palace, is an old LARGE canvas tent.  I think it was probably meant for a family with about 6 kids……but the price was right on this tent (free) and so we use it.

the Palace

My husband didn’t want to haul our fold down camper that far for just one night so we decided the Palace was the shelter of choice.  I am good with that as long as I can take my queen size air mattress and a few other necessities for comfort.

That night at Lake Thompson we went to get our supper fixings out of the trunk.  I had packed very minimally for this one night stay.  When we set about to open the pork and bean can I questioned my husband about the bag of utensils and dishes that I had put in the cast iron fry pan.  He got kind of a funny look and told me he had left that on the table, at home, as he didn’t think it was something we needed.  This was about to get interesting. No plates, silverware, can opener or metal spatula. There were some really useful facts we learned on this particular trip.  We found out that you can open a can of beans with a hammer and a tire iron.  You can use a potato chip bag for plates. If you check your glove compartment you just might find one plastic fork from a trip to Long John Silvers. You can also use an ice scraper to flip your pancakes the next morning.  The angle on that is actually perfect for flipping pancakes.  We did more laughing because, as a very wise neighbor once said, “What can you do?”

If you are in the Lake Thompson area, the State Park has a beautiful campground and I hear that the lake is excellent for fishing.  We enjoyed walking around and just relaxing.  We also got to see our nephew who was interning that summer with the State Park system.  We spent a little time in De Smet, at the location where the Ingalls family had lived. (Little House on the Prairie is based on this).

There was a  trade off for me going with my husband to look at tractors for a day. My husband had to spend a day in Brookings for me.  I love McCrory Gardens in that town.  Their gardens are beautiful and different things are in bloom, at different times of the growing season.  It is a huge area where you can just wander from one type of garden to the next.  There are also plenty of benches to sit on and just enjoy the view.  If you enjoy flowers and are in that area I would highly recommend a stop at the gardens.

Another place we enjoyed visiting was the Agricultural Heritage Museum. If you are into history and exhibits it is very interesting. To find out more just click on the link.

Whenever we go on a road trip – long or short we usually start the day early, taking our coffee/tea and breakfast with us.  After a couple hours on the road we find a rest stop or road side park and take a short break to walk around and eat.  One traditional breakfast that we have taken with us is a wonderful treat called Fluitt.  It is sooooo easy to make and delicious. I will post the recipe so you too, can enjoy this treat on your next road trip.  Unfortunately I do not have a photo of this as it never lasts long enough to get the camera out.


2 loaves frozen bread dough (any brand will do)
1 1/2 cup brown sugar (I use the light brown)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Put the frozen bread dough into a greased 9×13 inch pan.
Let rise overnight in oven.
In the morning, punch holes in it with either your finger or the round handle of a wooden spoon.
Mix brown sugar, cream and cinnamon and pour over top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.
Serve warm, if possible.
This is great for a Sunday morning breakfast also or when you have company.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
J.R.R. Tolkien,
The Fellowship of the Ring

A Clothes On The Line Kind Of Day


I cannot believe it is only March 11!  This weather is absolutely beautiful.  Sunny, a brisk Iowa breeze and warmth.

We hear the flocks of geese continue to fly over as they migrate north and had the fun of seeing six bald eagles roost in the trees by the river for a couple nights.  Huge flocks of red-winged blackbirds have also been coming back and the mornings are becoming noisy with birds singing, once again.

I am finding it hard to keep myself indoors on a day like this. I have opened all the windows, as our temps are in the 60’s, and letting some of that nice fresh air in.  I decided that it was a great day to do some laundry and get it hung outside on the line.  There is always something so satisfying about seeing clean towels flapping in the wind.  They smell amazing when they’ve been on the line outside.  I should say they usually smell great when they have been outside.  Every once in awhile, in the mid-summer heat and humidity, we get the distinct smell of hogs from the neighbor’s hog buildings. I tend to avoid using outdoor drying on those days.

I have been using the same clothesline poles my entire married life and they are the same ones my mom used my entire childhood.  They started out as drive shafts on some type of vehicle. They were probably in a junkyard till some enterprising welder decided he could repurpose them, turn them into clothesline poles and make a few extra bucks.  I remember when my mom was using them; the lines were made of some really hard wire.  We would have to wipe them with a damp cloth before we hung the clothes on them, as they tended to rust and we did not want that on our good clothes.  These lines were the only dryer my mom had; as she did not have either a gas or an electric dryer in the house.  When it was winter it was no fun hanging clothes outside.  Those wet clothes made your fingers turn blue before you got too many of them hung up.  If you have never taken freeze dried blue jeans off a clothesline you are really missing something.  They were so frozen they would stand up by themselves. We were so grateful when mom got her first dryer.

The lines were great for hanging blankets on and making A-frame tents to sleep out in with our friends and cousins.  The tents worked great till the wind blew really hard and popped all our clothes pins off.  These are also the same clotheslines poles that my cousin was swinging on, landed wrong, and broke her arm.

When my folks decided they no longer needed that many lines, I inherited them, minus the large hunks of cement that were used to anchor them underground.  My husband welded new pieces on the bottom and we sunk them into the ground for my use, with brand new large hunks of concrete.  When we moved to the place we live now, we dug them up once again, and once again put them in the ground, with more concrete.  I love the connection I have with my mom when  I am using the same clothesline poles she did. It is funny how a piece of metal can bring back so many memories.  I think it is really cool that way back, someone repurposed an item and I can still use it today. About the time we think “being green” is a new innovation we look around and realize it is not new at all.

I have a feeling I had better enjoy this weather and make the best use of it……I hear we are not going to have it this nice next week.  They keep telling us that it will be colder and rainy weather is coming.  I guess I can be grateful we keep getting a taste of spring and of the summer to come.


Then I will give you your rains in their season,
and the land shall yield its increase,
and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
Leviticus 26:4 – ESV

At the request of my good friend, Sara, I am adding a couple pictures of my “infamous poles”. (her words)

Clothesline Pole from Drive Shaft

This next one is a close up of the clever system the inventor used so my husband can tighten up a sagging line.

Line Tightening System

Living Heirlooms



Living Heirloom


The plant in the picture is one I received over 14 years ago from my mom-in-law.  She gave me a piece of hers when it got to big for the pot she had it in.  For at least a month it sat in a five gallon bucket, in our basement, while I tried to decide what to do with it.  To be honest, I kind of forgot about it till I went down there one day and saw it setting there looking really sad.  I found a pot for it, potted it up and hauled it upstairs.

I knew hers always bloomed beautifully and she had it in the east window.  So that is where I put mine.  For a couple years it just grew and had a few babies and slowly filled up the pot.  I had given up hope on having those gorgeous blooms show up on mine.  And then came the day when I discovered a different shoot and was excited to find it turn into a cluster of blooms.

I am not sure where my mom-in-law got her piece of plant from.  I do know that someone gave her a starter piece and she did not purchase it.  Once mine began to get root bound; I passed pieces on to each of my kids.  I don’t think theirs have bloomed yet, but they may have to give it a few more years.  Or maybe they should have ignored it and left it in their basement in a plastic bucket?

I am not even sure what the name of this plant is.  I just know I am never sure when it will bloom.  I also know it requires very little care and I love that low maintenance part! If anyone knows what this plant is would you please, please tell me!  I would love to know.

My husband laughs at how excited I get when I see those shoots show up that will turn into those big clusters. Those orange clusters of flowers are such a bright spot in my kitchen that they just make me smile.  They remind me to hope when things aren’t running smoothly, to stop and look around and appreciate the little things in life.  A simple thing like blooming flowers can be an entire life lesson if you let them.  They truly are a gift from above to those of us who like them.  They become heirlooms to be cherished and remind us of those who have given them to us.  They remind us to have faith that those blooms will eventually show up and maybe even teach a little patience…….hmmmmm,  probably a good lesson for me!

Our lives our also living heirlooms.  At least I try remind myself of that.  I remind myself to be the person I wish my friends and neighbors were.  I have to remind myself to show compassion and mercy and to also accept it.  (Sometimes that can be hard to be on the accepting end.)   Let’s have our lives make a difference in this world.  Let’s be the one others want to imitate.

So, I will just enjoy my plant, whatever it is, and let it remind me of all those truths and lessons that I need to keep in mind.

Seriously,  I would like to know what it is.  So if you know, comment below and end my ignorance.

“If God gives such attention
to the appearance of wildflowers
—most of which are never even seen
—don’t you think he’ll attend to you,
take pride in you,
do his best for you?
Matthew 6:30
The Message translation

Who Is FICA and Why is He Taking My Money?

Tax Season

Years ago, when my oldest two boys were around 12 and 14 they decided they wanted to earn some money.  In our area of the country, back then, the main way to do that in the summer was walking beans or detasseling corn.  They chose the latter and joined a detasseling crew.

They were up early every morning, lunch coolers in hand, rain coats and boots handy,  and on the bus by 4:00 in the morning. The down side of this endeavor was they were too young to drive and my husband or I had to take them to the bus.  Their morning was spent with dew running down their raincoats, into their boots and slogging through mud while pulling tassels out of each corn stalk.  The afternoons were spent drying off in the oppressive heat, as they walked,  pulling more tassels from every corn stalk.  When they arrived back home the time was spent hosing the dried mud off their boots, coats, shoes, and clothes and hanging everything on the clothesline so they could be ready to repeat the process the next day.

When they finally got their first checks they were so excited!  While looking them over the question came from one of them – “Who is FICA?” and the other one asked , “And why is he taking my money?”  My husband and I laughed like crazy and told them they were now helping support their great grandparents and soon their grandparents.  They were not convinced that was a great idea. At their age they could not conceive of ever being old enough to collect what FICA had taken.

Once again we are in tax season.  As farmers, we needed to be done by the end of February.  The detasseling story came up while my husband and I were preparing our “stuff” to take to the tax people.  Sitting by the table, with the adding machine handy, we laid all our papers out and began to tally a years worth of small farm finances.  We stretch this process out over a couple days as we don’t want to drive ourselves crazy all in one day. We usually wait for a bitter cold day or a very snowy day as we also don’t want to “waste” a nice day on paperwork. Every year we comment on the fact that all year we want to make money; but when tax time comes we want it to work out so we get money back.  I guess there is just no satisfying us humans.

It is interesting to see what you have done and where you have been during the past year.  It is amazing how much you can tell from where your checks and your money goes.  It becomes quite easy to see where our priorities are; by following the money.  Sometimes we feel pretty good about it and in the next breath feel somewhat convicted.  Fortunately, we have this new year to do better.

I thought I would google to find a great quote on taxes and found so many it would make an entire post!

I don’t know if I can live on my income or not
— the government won’t let me try it.
~Bob Thaves, “Frank & Ernest”

It’s income tax time again, Americans:
time to gather up those receipts,
get out those tax forms,
sharpen up that pencil,
and stab yourself in the aorta.
~Dave Barry

There were so many I thought I would post the link.  I hope you find them as entertaining as I did and may they brighten your day as you prepare your taxes this season.

Blessings Wrapped In Hard To Open Packages

When it gets to be Christmas time; my sons become masters at wrapping presents in the craziest way.  We have had things totally encased in Duct Tape and looking like semi cabs, strapping tape encased boxes and boxes filled with spray foam insulation.  The spray foam was the most recent innovation in the wrapping game.  On a scale of 1 to 10 it ranked a 10 in how long it took to actually get through the foam and to the gift.  What my son did not realize was that the foam would dissolve the baggie he put the gift card in to protect it.  It took at least 5 ml of Lemon essential oil to clean the sticky off that gift card!  A few years back this same son, being a woodworker, also put a state park annual pass in a wooden gift box that had to be sawed open to get inside.  This box was complete with a wood shaving ribbon.  Like I said ……innovative.  All three sons are firm believers in the use, or over use, of Duct Tape and strapping tape.  I am wondering if their theory might be  – if you can get into that package without a box cutter, it isn’t wrapped correctly.

Sometimes it seems that life hands us packages that are hard to open to get to the blessings inside.  I have many friends, who at this time, are walking through some very tough places.  When you are in those valleys it is very hard to see how in the world God could ever turn this time  into a blessing.

Eleven years ago on Mothers’ Day, we began a walk through a dark season. Our youngest two were in an accident on the way to church.  Someone had pulled out in front of them and they ended up flipping and rolling the car seven times and landing on the far side of a small creek, upside down.  We were in church waiting for them when all the EMT’s in our church took off.  When our sons did not answer their phone we just knew.  They were air-lifted to a hospital with a trauma unit.  They both turned out fine but it was a long summer spent in physical therapy, doctor appointments, and a couple court dates.  The wonderful bright spot in that summer was our oldest son’s wedding.  It was such a blessing to see all three guys, looking great in their tuxes, in the front of church.

Looking back it is amazing to me how God prepared us for that summer.  I had been invited to join a Moms In Touch group at our school.  For those of you who wonder what that group is:  it is a group of moms who come to school once a week and spend time praying for various concerns of students, school families and teachers. Taking part in that group gave me a firm anchor for the summer ahead.  We also had a great group of friends who gathered round and took care of us during those days.

And now you are wondering, how in the world any blessings could come from such a thing.  First and foremost it deepened our dependence on God and His people.  Another huge blessing:  we got to keep our sons here with us a while longer. It made us appreciate the moments we are given with our families and realize that time can be cut short from one breath to the next. Life becomes something to be cherished when you come so close to losing someone. My oldest son often comments that because of that summer he got to really know his little brother (they are 6 years apart) as a person and realized what a sense of humor he had.  The three became more than brothers, they became friends.


Three Amigos

I guess my message to those who are working their way through the wrapping and packaging of hard circumstances, and looking for the blessing inside; is this:  Take time to breathe, take time to look around and appreciate how far you have already come on that journey. Don’t close yourself off; but open yourself up to those who are there to help you. Sometime just OK is good enough.  Sometimes the blessings seem small, but in looking back you will see the thread of blessings that lead all the way back to the event.  Life can be hard but don’t forget to live while you are alive.  If you know of someone struggling, take the time to reach out and encourage.  You don’t even need to use words…..just be there.

I found this quote when googling hope and encouragement and absolutely loved it.  (I also love googling stuff!) I love how it reminds me I don’t have to be free of fear. It reminds to dig into that package and search for the blessing.

Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God
gives us to control our fears,
not to oust them.
– Vincent McNabb



Coffee Mug Sweaters


Mug Sweaters


Here is a little project for you to do while you wait for Spring.

Winter is having a tough time letting go of our part of the country. After having been teased by some spring-like weather the past few days we are reminded once again that it is only the beginning of March and not really spring yet.


Winter’s Grip



When the weather is cold and blustery and you get some more snow, you just stay busy doing other stuff!  I have been making these little mug sweaters the last while.  They are incredibly easy and are great to learn how to cable stitch.  They also do really keep your tea and/or coffee warmer in your mug on a cold evening.

This is a pattern I came up with after making a couple other ones that I have seen on Pinterest.  I used Addi Turbo US5 24″ circular knitting needles.  They are amazing and make your project very easy to take along wherever you go.  I used a worsted weight yarn. I really like the Lion’s brand yarn or I Love This Yarn, as it is so soft.  However, any worsted will do.  I do not do a gauge swatch for these as every mug is different and you may need to check size against the mug you have.

CO 17
Row 1:  K4, P9, K4
Row 2:  K2, P2, K9, P2, K2
Row 3:  Repeat Row 1
Row 4:  K2, P2, C3F, K3, K3 from cable needle, K3, P2, K2
Row 5:  Repeat Row 1
Row 6:  Repeat Row 2
Row 7:  Repeat Row 1
Row 8:  K2, P2, K3, C3B, K3, K3 from cable needle, P2, K2
Continue with this pattern till desired length.
Bind off in pattern but do not cut yarn.
Switch to crochet hook size F (3.75mm)
Slip stitch top edges together
Slip stitch in each stitch on the first row edge.  When you are halfway down chain 9 and Slip stich in same stitch at base of chain, continue on to the bottom edge.
Slip stitch bottom edges together.
Weave ends into work.
Stitch a button on and dress your mug!

If you need to resize for your mug do so on the P2 stitches (even rows) and corresponding K2 stitches (odd rows).  If your mug is “fatter” that this add a few more rows to make it longer.  Remember it does stretch and snug is good.  You can also stitch short ends together and use on a travel mug that does not have a handle.

CO  = Cast On
K     = Knit
P     = Purl
C3F =Slip 3 stitches onto cable needle and hold in front of work
C3B =Slip 3 stitches onto cable needle and hold in back of work

I hope this is clear enough.  If not please feel free to comment and ask questions.  Please feel free to use this pattern for gifts.  If you would be using these to sell all I ask is that you credit it to this blog and put the link back to here so others can enjoy the free pattern.

So, put your feet up by the woodstove, have your cup of tea ready, grab those needles and enjoy the day!





 “Whatever you do, work heartily,
as for the Lord and not for men, 
knowing that from the Lord you will receive
the inheritance as your reward.
You are serving the Lord Christ.”
Colossians 3:23-24