Friday, May 28, 2010

Farmer Fridays from the pig pen

I love being a farmer and although I work full-time off of the farm, my heart is always with the farm and my family.  You see that is one of the best parts of our farm... it is a family farm like the majority of farms in this country. 

(Three generations working on the planter.)

Any way, I have decided to start a new series for my blog, Farmer Fridays.  Each Friday, I will put on my farmer hat and talk specifically about life on the farm from how we raise our pigs, how our corn is growing, etc...  I will also answer any questions you have for me.  You can send questions to me at  Occasionally, I also plan to do a special "pork to fork" feature within the Farmer Fridays series that will feature a family favorite pork recipe.

I hope you will enjoy this new series as much as I love talking about the farm. 

So tune in next Friday for our first Farmer Friday from the pig pen.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Christmas Shopping has officially begun at this pig pen

I love buying presents for people and I love finding things on sale; although, I am nothing like Barbara at Frugalista Farmlife.  I don't normally start my Christmas shopping this early; however, while on a business trip the other day, I had some down time and journeyed into the Gymboree store. 

I love Gymboree.  I think their clothes are made very well and they are very cute.  I must admit though, I hardly ever, if ever, pay full price for anything there which is why my Christmas shopping started early this year.

First, I found this down vest for Little Sissy.  The vest was originally $39 and I paid $9.99.

Then, I found 3 pairs of pants and 1 top for our oldest.  The top was originally $19.75 and I paid $4.99.  The jeans were $36.75 and I paid $7.99.  The brown corduroys were $34.75 and I paid $6.99 and the pink sweatpants were originally $19.75 and I paid $4.99.

I personally thought the best deal I found was matching sweatshirts for Big Sissy and Little Sissy that they will probably wear for this year's Christmas picture with the pig.  They were both originally $28.75 and I paid $5.99 for Big Sissy's and $6.99 for Little Sissy's. 

What this means is I got $207.50 of clothing for $47.93 and there wasn't even sales tax. 

I was even able to throw in a pair of socks for our oldest and a pair of underwear for our son to qualify for $25 in gymbucks to be redeemed later this summer.  I can Christmas shop year round with savings like this.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fresh Strawberries at the pig pen

We love strawberries at this pig pen and nothing beats fresh strawberries from my mother-in-law's strawberry patch this time of year.  This weekend we got our first quart of strawberries from her strawberry patch and they were delicious. 

You really can use strawberries in several ways.  My mother-in-law made us a fresh strawberry pie earlier in the week and I have a great family recipe for a strawberry cake, but really I must admit you can't beat fresh sliced strawberries by themselves or with a little ice cream, shortcake, and/or cool whip. 

When using strawberries in any way, it is really important as it is with all fruits and vegetables that you wash and dry them really well prior to doing anything else with them.

After I washed our strawberries, I cut off the stems and sliced them into smaller pieces so they were easier to eat.

My husband and I both grew up with our families sprinkling sugar on top of the sliced strawberries to create an amazing syrup and make the strawberries just a little bit sweeter.  Sugar works quite well; however, it takes a little bit of time for it to breakdown and create the strawberry syrup which is why I prefer to use powdered sugar.

I love powdered sugar and it works amazing on strawberries.  Truly within minutes, it works to help create a syrup from the strawberries and makes them perfectly sweet. 

I just sprinkle a couple of tablespoons on top of the strawberries and add more later if needed.  You really can probably never add too much if you have a sweet tooth like me. 

I realize adding sugar of any kind may defeat the purpose of eating fruit, but it sure does make them yummy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Field Trip Mom

In college my friends called me the "field trip mom."  I think and hope I earned this name because I was usually the one taking care of everyone which was not a bad thing.  However when they called me "field trip mom," they said I would be the one driving a mini van with a wooden necklace (they were once really popular so I may be showing my age) taking my kids to the soccer field and chaperoning field trips once I had kids.  There was nothing really wrong with this, but I knew I would never wear a wooden necklace again and I really wasn't keen on driving a mini van and I didn't really think I would be a soccer mom.  The one thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to be a mom.  I always wanted to be a mom.

So fast forward, it has been 11 years this May since I graduated college and I became a mom almost 8 years ago. 

I still haven't worn a wooden necklace since way before college, but I have become the "field trip mom" in all other areas which is OK with me. 

When I ordered my new company car last fall, I succumbed and ordered a mini van and I have come to realize I may never drive anything else, but at least I didn't have to buy this first one since it is a company car.

I love chaperoning field trips when my work schedule allows.

And I have come to love spending our Friday nights and Saturday mornings in the Spring and Fall at the local soccer fields.  Last night was our oldest's last game of the season and she was selected the game captain.  I have to admit I didn't even know that they had game captains in the U8 league, but I was very proud to be her mom as I always am.  

So yes, I will proudly say, I am the field trip mom as we get ready to head to the soccer fields this morning for our son's last game of the season. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Take one or two and pass it on from the pig pen

This past week I received not one, but two Versatile Blogger Awards.  My first blogging awards ever.  It is quite exciting and an honor to be recognized by my fellow bloggers and friends, Going Jane and Beyer Beware.  Thank you Jane and Leah!!

So here are the rules of the award:

Thank the person who gave you this award. (See above.)

Share 7 things about yourself. (See below.)

Pass the award on to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and think are fantastic.

Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

So 7 things about me:

I have the same middle name as both of my sisters; even though, one of them is spelled differently.

I was on the livestock judging team and horse judging team in college even though I really don't know much about horses.

I was a 10 year 4-H member and am almost reminded daily of the impact it had on my life and continues to have. 

My parents are divorced. 

I love cooking and baking but I don't have much time to do either.

I love red wine.

I love to read.

And now on to my fellow bloggers that I would like to recognize.  Going Jane and Beyer Beware already recognized several of the blogs I follow with this award so I don't want to repeat, but I want to recognize them as these are some great women.  So be sure to check them out.

FenceRow to FenceRow
GOODEness Gracious
On the Banks of Squaw Creek
Off the Cuff and INDYpendent
Two Maids a Milking
Life's a highway ...and mine is surrounded by corn
Alarm Clock Wars
Frugalista Farm Life
Gal in the Middle

Besides the above blogs, I would like to give a shout out to the following blogs as well:

1.  DesignHER Momma.  I first started following her on twitter before the birth of her third child and now follow her blog too as she shares real life issues and throws in some fun and laughs along the way. 

2.  a Latte' with Ott, A  She is an awesome baker and has a great green thumb as well.  She also has a sense of adventure which this mom of 3 loves to read about.

3.  A Couple of Sweet Things  These women make amazing cakes, cookies, and other baked items and I happen to be related to one by marriage which is a definite added bonus. 

4.  As the Forest(e) Grows I love reading about how much fun Mrs. Foreste is having being a first time mom of her almost one year old.  As a mother of 3, it is refreshing to relive the memories of life with my first born. 

So I didn't quite give you 15 blogs, but I hope you enjoy all of these blogs as much as me and thanks again to Going Jane and Beyer Beware.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's family craftime at the pig pen

Well it has been almost a week since I had a new post as I battled a chest cold last week that then moved into my head over the weekend.  Additionally, my boss spent 3 days with me last week so needless to say it was a little crazier than normal at this pig pen. 

I don't know how with a sick mom, 2 soccer games and a Sunday brunch with friends from church at our house, but we found time to do a family craft project over the weekend that I had been planning to do for awhile now.

We recently changed the paint and decor in our kids' bathroom.  We went from a color of red named Mickey Mouse's Pants to Botanical Tint and said goodbye to our Mickey Mouse decorations.  It was a tough decision as we love the Mouse at this house, but it had been 5 years and it was time for a change.

While decorating the new bathroom, I decided it would be fun to incorporate a piece of "art" by the kids.  With children from the ages of 1 to 7, I thought creating a painting with their handprints would be the easiest.  (Looking back now, easy is not a word I would use to describe the project, but it was worth it.)

The supply list was rather easy:  acrylic paints, sponge paintbrushes, paper plates, and a painting surface.  (We choose a canvas as our painting surface.)

We used our rug and shower curtain hooks for color inspiration. 

We used a sponge paint brush to apply the paint to their hands and feet as we soon learned that feet were going to be easier with Little Sissy.


We then just used the different colors to create a collage of their handprints and footprints and now have an original piece to hang in the bathroom.

It's not perfect, but neither is our pig pen that is exactly why I love it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some things go as planned at this pig pen ... The Cheese Ball

Well my Mother's Day weekend plans for sewing with my daughter did not happen as the owner's manual to my brand new machine is missing and the dealer is getting me a new one... so our sewing escapades will have to wait.

The one thing that did go has planned was the lunch we planned for my mother-in-law.  We had pork burgers on the grill with various sides and desserts that my sister-in-law and I prepared.  The other thing that went has planned was the making of my cheese ball.  I don't know how, but over the years, it has become the appetizer that everyone asks me to make.  I'm sure you all have a dish like that so I though I would share my "go to" appetizer with all of you.

I was introduced to this cheese ball as a child as a friend of my grandma always made it.  I did not like it as a kid because of the green onion, but as an adult, I think it is pretty yummy.

The Ingredients
2 blocks of cream cheese
2 packages of Buddig's Beef
5 green onions
2t. Worcestershire Sauce
2t. Accent

And I almost forgot the 2 t. Accent as I made the cheese ball.  I think this might be the "secret" ingredient.

After washing the green onions, I use my kitchen shears to cut the green tops into small pieces and add them to a bowl.  (I absolutely love my kitchen shears.  They are probably my second favorite kitchen gadget as my Kitchen Aid mixer would be at the top of the list. )

Any way, then I cut the beef into strips and then into squares.  Add about 3/4 of the meat, reserving the final 1/4 as a garnish for the cheese ball. 

After the meat and onions are added to the bowl, I add the 2 blocks of cream cheese followed by the 2t. of Worcestershire sauce and 2t. Accent.  (Tip:  Regular cream cheese is best; however, reduced fat can be used, but the cheese ball will be much softer and harder to form a ball shape.  Do not use fat free cream cheese unless you want to make a dip vs. a ball.)

After all the ingredients are added, use you hands to thoroughly mix all of the ingredients. (Tip:  Take off all rings and your watch before using your hands to mix the cheese ball.  I usually just take off my wedding ring before I start on the cheese ball or inevitably I forget until I am using my hands to mix up the cheese ball.)

After the ingredients are mixed, use your hands to form a ball.

After the ball is formed, use the reserved beef to garnish the outside of the cheese ball.

Serve with crackers and you are ready to go.  (Tip:  I prefer Town House crackers with this cheese ball, but any kind will work.)

This really is a no fail recipe and very easy to pull together so at least something went by the plan for this past weekend.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sending out an SOS from the pig pen

Well this weekend was supposed to be the weekend that I took my new sewing machine out of the box, learned how to use it, and taught my oldest daughter how to sew while giving back to our community

Well at 9:40pm tonight, I decided to get started and I took my machine out of the box as I wanted to get everything set up and ready to go for tomorrow with my daughter.  (I know, I know, why did I wait so late to get started, but such is the life of a full-time working outside of the home momma of 3.)

I was so excited.  I carefully took each item out of the box.  There was the cover, the pedal, the plug, a bag with the extra feet and such, and then there was an envelope.  I couldn't wait to go through the contents of the envelope as I knew the instruction manual had to be in there and I was ready to get sewing.

I opened the envelope and found several Bernina promotional brochures and the information on my warranty; however, that was it.  There was NO user's manual to be found. 

I didn't know what to do as I sat there staring at all of these buttons.

Where do I even begin?!?  I just don't know.  I'm sure I could figure it out, but that scares me.  So I have sent an SOS to Ice Tea and if I don't hear from her soon, I will be sending one to Martini tomorrow. 

I hope this doesn't slow down my pillowcase plans for the weekend with my daughter. 

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed and heading to bed for the night.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sewing ... It's a family thing at this pig pen

My mother and her mother (my Gramma) taught me how to sew at the age of 10 and I sewed for all 10 years of my 4-H career.  Starting out with an elasticized skirt to making complete outfits by my 10th year. 

Since then, I've made a few things for my house like these curtains, but that is about it even though I love to sew.

The funny thing is I have never owned my own sewing machine until now and I have never sewed without my mother or my gramma or both of them by my side which may be why my sewing has been limited to curtains over the past several years. 

(June 2009 - the most recent picture with my mom, my gramma, and myself and of course Little Sissy.)

2 of my nearest and dearest friends, Martini and Ice Tea, both purchased a Bernina sewing machine this year.  (I have decided to give my non-blogging friends drink names that make me think of them.  Martini earned her name as it makes me think of her maiden name as I've actually never seen her drink a Martini.  Ice Tea earned her name as Ice Tea is one of the few drinks I have ever seen her drink and she loves it.) 

So long story short, I never thought I would be able to buy a Bernina, but thanks to an awesome deal that Ice Tea found and her help, I now own an Activa 220.

I am so excited and can't wait to start sewing, of course that would require me to take it out of the box and I'm a little intimidated to do so. 

I've been pondering what I should make first.  Ice Tea taught her daughter how to make pillowcases which I thought would be fun for my oldest daughter and me.  And then there was a sign... I stumbled on the 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge .

So in honor of my mom and her mom this Mother's Day weekend, I will hopefully be teaching my oldest daughter how to sew while giving back to our community.

(It won't be the first time we gave back as a team as we donated hair a few years ago.)

That is if I can get my sewing machine out of the box and figure out how to thread the bobbin. 

So stay tuned...

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Sippy Cup Wars... I think we may have conquered

Our baby girl, who is known as Little Sissy around here, turned a year old a month ago.  For the past 6 months or so, we have been introducing her to the sippy cup with no luck.  And when I say sippy cup, I mean every sippy cup on the market.  If we didn't own a particular brand, we bought it and tried it with no luck.  Nuby, Nuk, Playtex, Avent, Gerber... the list goes on.  We even tried water, juice, milk, and formula in the sippy cup with the beverage having ZERO impact on her like or dislike, I should say, of the sippy cup. 

As we got closer and closer to her birthday, I didn't know what we were going to do.  She had been on formula since 8 months and I really didn't want to buy any more after she turned 1 as it was costing $23/week.  I also did not want to put milk or any other beverage in her bottle.  Oh what to do. 

When we visited with the pediatrician for her one year check up, we had a long conversation about this.   When we left, it was decided by all that we would let her keep her bottle until we ran out of formula which would be within a few days of her birthday.  Then if she wanted to drink, she would have to drink from a sippy cup.  Tough love was what the doctor prescribed.

I knew my family thought this was a bit tough for a one year old, but I agreed with the doctor that it would only get harder to negotiate taking away the bottle from Little Sissy as she got older and that we needed to do it now.  So we embarked on the journey of no bottle. 

Week 1 of no bottle ended and Little Sissy was still showing ZERO interest.  She would drink a few sips from a straw here and there and we could "pipette" a few drops into her mouth of water and milk on occasion, but she really seemed like she wasn't thirsty at all.  (This is a very hard concept for me to understand as I am always thirsty and am often called the guzzler at home.)

Week 2 passed and still no interest.  She did show a little interest in the twist spout water bottle, but not much and they leaked.

Finally on Friday night, she picked up a sippy cup and within an hour drank the entire thing and wanted more.  I was cautiously optimistic as this was the end of week 3.  Were we over the hump? Was she going to consistently drink from a sippy cup?  I must admit I don't know the answer, but I hope this is a good sign.

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