Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Miller Camp 2015

We had our 3rd annual Miller Camp last weekend.  Miller Camp is where the grandchildren come for a couple of days and we do crafts, campout in a tent (when the weather cooperates - only one year so far) and take a surprise field trip somewhere.  I started this when we had only 3 grandchildren and now that there are 3 more, I have had to put some restrictions in place to keep it manageable and enjoyable.  They have to be 4 years old and fully potty trained.  Not real tough restrictions but it will definitely help keep me sane. I enjoyed this year the most of any yet.  It seemed much more relaxed and less scheduled.

We started off Saturday morning with our field trip to my cousin's dairy farm.  We arrived just as milking was finished but calves still needed to be fed and the grands were able to help.

 They jumped from round bale to round bale.  It's what we do for entertainment out here in the rural Midwest. ;)

They checked out Mr. Rabbit and chased kittens around.  My cousin also has Bob, a pet raccoon but he was pretty scarce.  I was really hoping the kids could meet him.  Maybe a different time.

I think their most favorite part of the farm was the zipline across the yard from the tree house to the tree.

After the farm, we came back through town, had a picnic lunch at our local park and played for a bit.

Once we arrived home we immediately started on our tshirt project as it would need to dry overnight.  They turned out really cute.  A blue handprint in the corner for the stars and red stripes for the 4th of July!  Thanks to Janet for the idea. 

Can you tell they were looking into a very bright sun.  LOL  Love those expressions! :)

We took a hike down to the creek. 

An indicator as to how far along the corn is has always been "knee high by the 4th of July".  It's taller than Mr. O.!  It really needs some warm weather to produce those ears tho.

The creek is always a fun destination although a bit muddy this trip.

Once we got back to the house, we relaxed and played while the youngest took a nap.

Saturday night, we headed to our local ice cream hangout, Union Dairy,  

on our way to some small town fireworks.

Fireworks aren't complete without glow sticks!

The fireworks were very nice for a small town but the down side was the mosquitoes!  Sweet fancy moses, they were awful!  I knew they were bad as they were buzzing around my head but we sprayed everyone down everywhere but the face.  One would think that would be the right thing to do, not?  I thought so until Sunday morning, when the grands woke up and their poor little faces looked like they had the chicken pox. :(  I felt so bad for them.

Off to church we went Sunday morning and by the time we got home and ate lunch Dad & Mom were back to pick them up.  The time went incredibly fast and it was so much fun.  Now to start checking out ideas for next year's camp.  :)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Evening Walk

We have a path that runs through the fields down to a creek not quite a half mile behind our house.  It's where the coyotes run.  We've never seen them but can sure hear them.  

There's always a wildflower or two blooming along this path.  The Queen Anne's Lace in the first picture below is one of my favorites.

As I mentioned in my last post, we've had alot of rain this month.  A bit of the corn in the bottom was flooded out and even still had standing water in it.

The creek was moving pretty fast for no bigger or deeper than it is.  I write "creek" but call this type of body of water a "crick".  What do you call it in your neck of the woods?  A "creek" or a "crick"?  or maybe a "stream"?

The sun was setting on the way back up to the house.  I say up because it's ALL uphill on the way home.  

It was a beautiful evening for a walk.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Rainy Skies

We've had so much of these skies lately, 

I've almost forgotten what this kind of sky looks like. :(  

We are definitely soggy here in the Midwest but compared to what Texas and other areas of the country have gotten, I guess we shouldn't complain too much.  

The weather just isn't real conducive to a few things that need to get done or that I want to get done.  Can I ever finish painting the deck spindles for cryin' outside??  I started it the last week in May.  The can says not to paint unless no rain is forecast for the next 24 hours. well..... I don't think we've had that. :(  

We did have a nice day last Sunday but we were gone to our sons for Fathers Day.  No painting, but a nice day with family. L smoked a brisket. :)  I might not have been celebrating Fathers Day myself but smoked brisket makes this mama's taste buds happy for sure!  Here's a picture from the day of our two youngest grands.  They're pretty cute together.  

So precious!  They will both be a year old within the next two months.

Today I've been preparing for our annual "Grandma Camp".  To make it manageable, I established an age limit this year.  They have to be 4 years old and totally potty trained so it's just our oldest 3 grands this time around.  Next year, we'll likely have one more join who is 3 and then a few years later, the two babes above will join the tribe for camp. So for now, crafts are prepped, field trips are planned and some food is prepared.  Think I'll go out and take a walk before the fun begins in the morning. I'm excited!    

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Barns and Midwest sunsets

If you followed my old blog you already know I have a love and fascination for old barns. 
This particular barn is just a half mile down the road from us and has provided the back drop for many sunset photos. Tonight was no exception. 

The beauty of the Midwest.  

Love how this represents the old and new ... old rickety barn in the foreground and grain elevator and grain leg in the far background.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A space of my own - part 2

If you'd like to read about what this area was previously used for and how MY new space came to be, check out yesterday's post.

I've coveted desired my own sewing, crafting, quilting, painting space for more years than I can remember and it has finally become a reality.  [sigh  :) ]

It's not fancy but very bright, roomy and functional for me.  Here's a peek into my little haven...

My sewing station

 I love this little nook tucked away in the dormer.  DH rehabbed this old metal cabinet two years ago for Christmas.  This is where I do painting and papercrafting.  We had a number of old feedsacks.  I utilized a few of those as valances and curtains in this new area.

This is one of my favorite parts.  
Our television sat in this cubby but now it houses tubs of fabric.  :)

In the second dormer, I used a set of old shutters to hang my quilting rulers on.  The picnic basket on the floor in front of it was my parents picnic basket.  :)

DH made this cutting table for me out of two old sewing machine treadles.  I love that they don't match.  He cut the tabletop specifically to fit my large cutting mat.  You can also see the feedsack curtain tier on the right and the stretched feedsack on a canvas on the left.  The white cabinet houses a few collectible tractors as a compromise to share the space with DH. ;)

An extra table to layout quilt pieces, watch a DIY youtube video, or for the grands to work at. Our church was throwing out the old piano bench so I scarfed it up.  Not sure what I'll really do with it but it seems to fit in my space.  The two small doors are storage areas that we added to the plan when we built the house.  One is full of "everything Christmas" and the other has miscellaneous "shtuff" in it. 

And no sewing area is complete without a basket of mending.  Ahem, I'm not a mender, never have been.  My idea of darning socks is saying "darn it" and throwing them in the trash.  The bag on top was recently dropped off by my son when I wasn't home with a follow-up call saying there were two work pants; one needing a button and one needing a zipper.  I reminded him that I don't mend.  He said whenever I get to it is fine, not quite taking my no as a no.  Ha!  I'll put it in the que right behind a sweatshirt of my own that I really liked but still haven't fixed two years later.  I'm thinking he better mend them himself or buy new pants.  :) 

I've waited a long time for my own space and now I have it just in time to downsize to a smaller home but that's a whole other blog post.  For now, I'm going to enjoy it and try and carve out time to utilize it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A space of my own - part 1

Do you sew, quilt or craft?  Are you fortunate enough to have a dedicated space for those activities?  Or do you have to drag everything out and put it all back when you're finished?  

That's what I did for a long time.  There wasn't an option.  We didn't have extra rooms to leave anything setup.  

Fast forward to 1999 to our new home.  Still no coveted "space of my own" but a bigger home and knew that someday as the kids would move out :( , space would free up and become more available.   
As our sons gradually moved out of the house, I started to set up my sewing machine in their old bedrooms which we had converted to guest rooms.  This wasn't ideal but much better. I only had to take everything down when the kids or other guests would visit.

In our upstairs area, we had a family room/tv room that looked like this.  

Neither DH or I are big TV watchers and we rarely used this space once the kids were gone.   Just look at all that wonderful natural light going to waste!  

A number of years ago, I asked DH what he thought about turning that into a studio for me.  He really liked this room as it was (even tho we didn't use it often) and was totally against it hesitant. I personally think he just didn't want to haul all of this furniture back down the steps remembering the struggle we had getting it up there.  So I dropped the idea.

I left it lay for a time but came back around to it a couple of years later.  I kindly begged asked again. This time he threw up his hands and said "whatever."  It took me all of 15 minutes to take pictures and list the furniture on Craigslist.  :)  I think the flurry speed at which I moved sent his head into a tailspin.  LOL  The furniture sold quickly and now I could begin the transformation to "a space of my own".  #happygirl

I didn't have any huge changes in mind but was certainly anxious to get moving on this project.

Tomorrow - what this space looks like today!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


You've probably seen a version of this recipe floating around the internet the past few years.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to try it.  Sometimes I'm slow like that. :(

This is the original recipe ... 

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn, undrained
1 pkt. Fiesta Ranch dressing dip mix
8 oz. cream cheese
Place in a crock pot on high for 4-6 hours.

Here' s what I did ...
2 frozen boneless chicken breasts (there are only two of us!)

1 can black beans, drained
1 can mild Rotel tomatoes
No corn
1 pkt. ranch dressing mix (it's what I had in the cupbaord)
4 oz. low fat cream cheese
ground red pepper, to taste (I didn't use the Fiesta Ranch)
roasted garlic powder, to taste
salt, a little sprinkle

Place in a crock pot on low all day.

Sorry for the half-eaten picture but it smelled so good it never crossed my mind to take a picture beforehand.  

We had it for supper with a baked sweet potato and green salad - complete and utter deliciousness!
And the bonus is it took me less than 5 minutes to throw it together before I left for work this morning!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

After the rain helmet-cam

It's been raining here on and off most of the day which isn't very conducive to a motorcycle ride. :(  Finally, late this afternoon, the sky cleared and the sun shone.  We knew it was going to be short-lived as there are more storms expected yet this evening so we jumped on the bike and took off while we could.  Everything looked so green and lush right now after all the rain.  Just gorgeous!  

Disclaimer:  Most all of these picture were taken from the back seat of a moving motorcycle which we lovingly call our "helmet-cam."  I prop the camera on top of DH's helmet and take a picture. :) 

I've always loved this old stone barn.
The people that live here keep the place neat as a pin.
Such a pretty farm!

We like to take gravel roads after it has rained, no dust and we don't tend to pick up the rocks like we would other times.
Note the painted railroad viaduct.
I made sure not to take a close-up so I can keep this blog G rated. 
I really don't mind the paint back here on the backroads (I may or may not have painted a viaduct back in the day) but wish they didn't have to be so vulgar.
Do people paint viaducts and bridges in your neck of the woods?

A few wildflowers along the way.

Corn is growing

Soybeans are popping up

Wheat is heading out.

The old windmill on the hill was so pretty against the blue sky and clouds.

We saw the clouds rolling in again and decided it was time to head for home.

We took a chance and made a stop at our favorite ice cream shop.  We shared a cone.  Isn't that romantic?  NOT!  We shared because neither one of us should be eating it so if we share we eat less, right?  My scoop was on top -- Mint Chocolate Chip!  :)  DH finished with Butter Pecan and his traditional waffle cone.  Our local shop has the best!

Really getting cloudy now so we're glad to be on the home stretch.  
We made it without a drop.   

Thanks for riding along with us!  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

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Sunday drive

Typically this post title would say "Sunday ride" as in on a motorcycle but when we woke Sunday morning it was 40 degrees!  Uhhh, let's see ... think we'll take our Honda with 4 wheels, instead of the Honda with 2!  

We headed north of us 2 hours to Madison, Wisconsin.  We were in desperate need of a Trader Joe's fix.  Yes, for those of you who live in more urban areas, our nearest Trader Joe's is [gasp] 2 hours away!  We don't like everything they have but there are a few things that TJ's is the only place we can get them.
These are a couple of our TJ favorites (and Trader Joes is not paying me for this post).  :)

Best and most inexpensive frozen pineapple around!  We stock up when we go for my morning smoothies.

We love this pizza sauce!  We make alot of grilled pizza in the summer and this works out perfectly ... thick and good flavor. :)

While in Madison, we tried a new place for lunch.  It's right downtown across from the Capitol.  It's called The Old Fashioned.  I had, hands down, the best hamburger I've ever eaten at a restaurant and a salad with a brandy viniagrette dressing.  So yummy!  DH had the walleye sandwich with their warm, homemade potato chips and said it was really good but my burger was better. :)   We'll definitely go back. [sadly, I didn't take pictures of our meal which is very unlike me].  

We took a round about way coming home looking for a tunnel that son and daughter-in-law, J&H, told us about last summer.  It's an old railroad tunnel built in the late 1800's along a bike trail near New Glarus, Wisconsin.  We were able to find it and if you park along Tunnel Road, it's only a half mile walk back to it.  

  It was a nice afternoon for a walk, cool and not too buggy yet.

The tunnel curves so be sure to bring a flashlight as it gets really dark for a bit.

but there is light at the end of the tunnel. :)

If you're in the area, it would be a nice little walk or if you're into biking, it looked like a great trail ... not too rocky, smooth and fairly level.  I asked DH if he would ever be interested in renting a couple of bikes and riding the trail.  He looked at me like I had a third eye in the middle of my forehead so I took that as a "no".  LOL

...and that's how we roll.