Two pound bars

I take a lot of meals to banquets and potlucks. I think because I have high school age kids that have a sports banquet or team dinner every other week. Because of this I am always trying to think of something new and exciting to take. Who wants the same old brownies and store-bought cookies every time?

This was a recipe I got from a friend after she made it at a birthday party I went to. It was delicious! I made it for my son’s wrestling team and got requests from the majority of the moms for the recipe because their kids liked it so much. Score! So I will share it on my blog hoping it will make your kids as happy as it has made mine.  🙂

 

Start by mixing the dry ingredients with the melted margarine (or butter- you choose). This would be the first 6 ingredients in the recipe. It will come together in a crumbly texture, see below….

 

Once it looks like this you can press half of this into a 9×13″ pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. This brings the bar portion of the bars together so you can top and bake with toppings. When I make this for the football/wrestling teams I usually make 2 pans at a time or I get complaints that they were gone so fast my kids did not get any at home. So I make one for home and one for school.

Press and bake the crusts. After 10 minutes it comes out looking like this and  you an add the toppings. Top with chocolate chips, pour caramel over the top and sprinkle remainder of the oatmeal mix over chocolate and caramel. Put it back in the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes. Take out, let cool and VOILA’! The perfect bar! (My kids actually love to eat these warm and ooey gooey out of the oven)…

I am kicking myself because I did not get an “after” picture of what these look like when they are done but if you can imagine a crumble bar of chocolate, oatmeal and caramel that would be about spot on. They are awesome.

We are on ice and snow day #2 this week in Iowa and have been cooped up avoiding the cold. This would be the prefect treat that is quick to make while stuck at home. Here is the recipe to print and save. Enjoy!

Two Pound Bars

  • Servings: Twelve Bars
  • Time: One Hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

3 sticks margarine or butter melted

2 cups oatmeal

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

tsp salt

1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar

12 oz package chocolate chips

12.5 oz jar smuckers caramel topping

Mix first 6 ingredients above and pat half of mixture in 9×13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips on and pour caramel over the top of the chips. Sprinkle rest of oatmeal mix on the top and bake another 20 minutes.

Hope you all are staying warm!

~Laura

 

Back to school… Back to school…

 

I have been wanting to go back to school for a long LONG time. I am not wanting to do anything new, just advance my degree as a nurse. This is one of those bucket list items I have always had on the back burner.

 

I have been so afraid to take the leap. I am not sure why… but somewhere along the way I have started to doubt my abilities in myself. I have told myself that I cannot possibly work full time, be a good mom and better myself. I have told myself that I am setting myself up to fail and that I cannot possibly do well as a student 20 years after graduating from college the first time. I have told myself that BETTERING myself (for some stupid reason or another) deprives my children of my attention and means I will miss out on being there for them and being a part of their growing up.

 

You know what? I was WRONG.

 

I have been back to school for only a few weeks. I have written two papers in that time and tonight I will be taking my third test and moving into my fourth section. I have received all A’s and one B.

 

I have been to every sporting even since I started, have not missed a single thing my kids have going on and actually seem like a BETTER mother since I started.

 

Why? Here are a few reasons…

 

  1. My kids see me trying to better myself, and that makes them proud. My son actually helped me with the format of my first paper, and my other son proofread it. Both my boys were as excited to see my grade post online as I was. Together we tackled one of my greatest fears in trying to succeed and they were proud of me. Let me stress that again… proud. Proud enough to share my grade with other people.
  2. My kids see me stress the value of lifelong learning and education. Do I need to be in school? Probably not. Do I want to be so that I can earn more, elevate myself in my position and increase my knowledge in the medical filed? Yes. They see me trying to learn and grow… and they see the value in it for themselves and their future.
  3. My children see that placing value on myself is important too. I am a good mom, cheerleader, wife, employee and etc. I take care of everything my family needs and make sure to be at every concert, game, meeting, church event, professional event for my husbands…. but what about valuing things that are important to me? They finally see me placing value on my own interests and that is pretty cool.
  4. They see me utilizing good time management skills. No I cannot watch TV, I have homework. Yes, I can go to the movies tonight because I got all my homework done last weekend. No, I cannot watch that show until I have my paper done. etc. etc. They see me balancing work and family and school and that it CAN be done and time can be managed effectively so everyone wins.
  5. They see me reading. I have to admit… I have not always been the best reader. I would call myself mediocre at best. I would sometimes read for fun, but it was not something my children saw me do on a regular basis. Now they see me taking the time to read… and carry on conversations about what I am learning about. It is a bonus when my kids can talk to me about what I am learning, because it is something they recently learned about too.

 

So as I approach the mid point of my first class back in school… Philosophy… I am proud to say that I am ROCKIN this back to school thing. I will continue to hack away at classes as long as I have the energy to. And to those neighsayers out there who say things like “why would you want to go back to school??? Ugh….” I say….

 

BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN MYSELF AND I WANT TO BE THE BEST ME I CAN BE.

 

Until next time-

 

~Laura

Growing up.. thoughts on his last year…


Do you know what this is? This is a photo and a mother hugging her son after his last high school football game he will ever play. Standing by the bus to tell him I know he will miss it… but he has big things ahead of him. This is a mother who is giving her son a hug after watching him for the past 11 years go from flag football to middle school football to tackle football. This is a mother whose heart is breaking and at the same time is swelling with so much pride she doesn’t know what to say to her son. This is me. 

I am not wanting to wish things away.

 As you can see I have been pretty much absent since this summer. I am 100% positive this is because of the fact that I have a senior at home and I am wanting to enjoy every minute of his last days under my roof before we send him off for college. It’s not that I do not like to blog, and it is not that I don’t have topics I want to share… but it is more the fact that when I am not cheering him or his younger brother on from the stands at their MULTIPLE sporting events I am enjoying every moment of having him at home.

 We have done all the mandatory things parents of seniors need to do. Senior pictures have been taken, ordered and picked up. College visits done (I really should do a blog post on that!) a college has been chosen and his housing deposit has been sent in. I am on his prom planning committee and prom planning is full on in the works and is going forward full steam ahead.

I have been told many things as a parent of a child leaving the nest. I have been told the junior year is the hardest. I would actually agree because I think you spend the junior year worrying about what is to come and knowing that everything is the “last” of each event. Whereas the senior year you actually spend time enjoying it because it is their last of each thing.

 I have also been told that God in all his infinite wisdom prepares you for this next step by making the child spread his/her wings a little and they end up pushing back. This pulling away prepares you to give them a push. I would agree with this too. My son is becoming increasingly more independant in his thinking, in his actions and in his mindset. He is pushing back more than he ever has and in doing so… makes it easier for me to say “it is time for you to go”.

My mind set is shifting. I am seeing myself start to prepeare for weekend college visits to take my son to Target for essentials and out to eat. I see myself mentally shopping for his dorm and moving his old bedroom upstairs so my other son can have the coveted “basement bedroom”. I see myself shifting my mindset to “will he call?’ vs. “you must call”. I know the power is shifting into his hands. He will no longer NEED me to make decisions for him anymore. They are his own.

 Don’t get me wrong- I wish I could keep my kids at home with me forever. But I know that my job is to raise them to be smart, respectful, capable human beings. I know that I have to let go…. eventually… of the past little boys and girls that I have in my mind. Gone are the days of match box cars and sticky fingers, sippy cups and Teletubby videos. I have to force myself to look at my son as a young adult and not as a young man. But it is so tough to let go sometimes.

 So I apologize for my absence. It will get better I am sure when my time is not so focused on enjoying every moment. Until then hold your kids tight, tell them you love them and they are capable and enjoy the moment. It goes so very fast.

 Until next time-

 ~Laura

Palm Springs/Coachella Valley 2016

 

In November we went to Palm Springs/ Coachella Valley as part of the ASFMRA conference (American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers). My husband had been working to receive his farm manager accreditation for the past 4 years and this was the conference where he would receive his accreditation. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa. It was beautiful, clean, well maintained and I highly recommend it. For more information click here: Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa

 

View outside of our hotel room

I had been to Malibu and the LA area of California before, but have never been to this desert area before I was impressed! The area was beautiful. Water is such a premium here though that understanding how anything could grow was difficult until I had the time to ask o the farm tour we attended. The lush greens of the gold courses, yards and etc was interesting because of the lack of water.. but when I learned more about the canal system things made more sense.

 

Water canal system in the valley

We arrived and spent the first night at the conference. We had a poolside reception and the weather could not have been more perfect. Calm. No humidity, dry, perfect temp. I can see why this is a chosen retirement area for seniors. Weather was gorgeous. Dinner was at Arnold Palmer’s restaurant where we had prime rib and chocolate flourless cake. Soooo gooood.

 

The first day after we arrived we attended a Dupont Farm tour of local agriculture. It was so interesting to see. The area is truly desert. No water… rain is rare so they have a canal system where farmer “order “ their water to be delivered similar to how we “order” our fertilizers to be applied. Neighbors know water is a precious resource so they rotate so they do not over use the supply and take turn with delivery on a routine basis.

On the bus waiting to start our tour

Touring a pepper farm on our DuPont ag tour

New crop they are developing.. Kale-etts

The primary crops we saw on our tour were green peppers, celery, grapes, kale and a new hybrid called “Kale-etts”, and lettuce. The most prized crop they have is the date, and date trees are everywhere. We attended a tour of Shields “Date Garden” and had a date shake. Delicious, but not a favorite of mine. They also use dates to make a derivative that is a date “sugar” used in cooking

The garden you walk through behind the restaurant at Shields

While there we had the chance to tour 2 businesses. Head start Nursery, and Primetime Peppers. Both were equally interesting.

Celery plants ready to be planted

Prime time has a newer open-air type manufacturing facility where peppers are picked and packaged. The huge lines of peppers going across conveyer belts were interesting to see. The facility was extremely clean and well kept and the peppers were inspected to be sent to Wal-Mart as one of their primary buyers.

 

Head start Nursery was interesting to see because the have countless seedling sin trays to be sent out to businesses like Prime Time to be transplanted and grown. We saw seedling “tape” being developed to be planted and the humidity controlled greenhouses where peppers being to grow before being shipped out for planting.

 

Lunch was at Shields where we had the date shake and we ended the evening exhausted back at the hotel. Was a fun day.

 

The second day my husband had meetings so I went with the spouses on a tour of home in the area. Bing Crosby, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Leonardo Dicapprio, Lucille Ball, Elvis Presley, Bob Hope all had homes here. We were able to drive by all the houses and see where all these famous people used to reside. So interesting. Of particular interest was Bob Hope’s entertainment house and Elvis Presley’s honeymoon hide-away.

 

We had lunch at Melvyn’s world famous restaurant where all the stars dines, had a world famous “Mel-tini” for lunch… delicious… and spent the remainder of the day shopping before the reception that night.

My Mel-tini and I had the Monte Cristo…

Melvyn’s famous restaurant, unfortunately Melvyn passed away just prior to our trip

We came home wishing we had time to ride the cable car which is a must see in Palm Springs, but time did not allow. We had the brief few days there but definitely got a taste of the desert lifestyle. It was beautiful. I would highly recommend a stop here if ever in the area. I jut wish we had more time to see it all!

Newly accredited farm managers

Texas Travel part II

Wow. Where HAVE I been???? I know I know, but it has been really hard to get on as much as I have wanted to. It seems like I got back from Spring Break in Texas and then travel basketball started and in a blink of an eye summer was here. So my apologies, but time has just gotten away from me. It happens.

So instead of a big long post all about our trip and how I felt about the whole trip you get a brief summary of the things I remember. Its the best I can do. But I know you busy moms out there in the same boat as me will understand. We got each others back, right?

“And Jesus Wept” statue at the Catholic Church across from the OKC bomb site and memorial. We visited here on Palm Sunday for mass

We started our trip by stopping to see the Oklahoma City bomb sight memorial on Palm Sunday. It was a neat time to go because we were able to attend mass at the Catholic Church across the street where we were able to parade in from the weeping statue of Jesus. Very moving. We did take the time to go through the museum at the site too- which was super beneficial especially to my older children who needed educated on what happened and how the memorial was developed. They obviously were born after the bombing, so needed an education and the museum helped tell the story.

Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial at Alfred P. Murrah building

 

Tyler taking in the view in downtown Dallas at our hotel- it had a basketball court!

We then travelled to Dallas where we were able to tour the JFK memorial plaza, Old Red Museum and stay downtown. We took the time to go to the 6th floor museum which I enjoyed a great deal. There was a long line but it was worth it and every person that goes through gets an audio tour which helps too. My daughter even had one so she enjoyed going at her own pace and I enjoyed the fact that I could actually listen without some one asking me at each stop what they were looking at.

Old Red Museum, Dallas Texas

 

Grassy Knoll area at JFK plaza Dallas, TX.

After Dallas we stopped at College Station to see my brother in law where he works at the airport. We were able to tour the control tower, see his plane (the flight we were going to take was cancelled due to extreme wind and fear of severe turbulance which would have scared the kids). We also got a private tour of Texas A &M Kyle Field (everyones favorite stop of the trip!!!) and took in a baseball game. So.much.fun.

With the good comes the bad though, and my 8 year old woke with a head to toe rash while we were there that subsequently turned into an urgent care visit. Turns out she is allergic to the penicillin based antibiotic she was on for strep throat. One steroid injection and oral steroids later she was discharged and able to go to NASA. No more penicillin for her!

Airplane Uncle Tom flies in College Station, TX

Touring Texas A&M Kyle Field in College Station, TX

The tunnel leading to the field the players run through … “It’s about us”

The Family

Taking in a baseball game at Texas A&M

After 2 days in College Station we headed further south to Houston. I have ALWAYS wanted to tour NASA and have always been fascinated with that era. Last summer I never missed an episode of the “Astronaut Wives Club” and read the book cover to cover in a week. It was neat to see the progression of the Saturn to Apollo Astronauts, the era of the Challenger and the last of the space shuttle program. I REALLY enjoyed NASA and was so glad we stopped and spent a day there.

Shuttle transported on back of a plane.

 

Saturn V rocket at NASA

Next stop was San Antonio and the riverwalk and Alamo. Bucket list item for me (not really for the kids) but I enjoyed the stop and was glad we went. It was fun to actually see the Riverwalk and the Alamo was a convenient stop while we were there.

The Alamo

 

San Antonio Riverwalk


On our way back to Iowa we made a stop in Oklahoma City to see family and I had to take a picture of the red dirt. Compared to the black dirt of Iowa, this was strange to see. Some times I look at dirt lie this and wonder how anything grows in it?

 

Red Dirt of Oklahoma

Riverwalk boat ride, one of the few pics I made it into. I love family trips…..

 

 

Houston roads, I am not in Iowa anymore

All in all I think our Texas roadtrip was a complete success. Thank you Texas and Oklahoma for all your hospitality. If you live in either of these states you live in beautiful country. I enjoyed the scenery, I enjoyed the company and I enjoyed the sights. I feel so fortunate to have been so many places in my lifetime. Have travelled the country and roadtripped all over this beautiful nation we live in.

Sorry my summary is so short- but it is so hard to summarize a weeks worth of wonderful memories into such a short post. I can say this- never am I happier than when I travel with my family. We truly leave the world at home behind, and enjoy every moment.

Until next time!

~Laura

Mozzarella Bake

It is a crazy week!! I am so happy to be reaching the end of my work week, and since we have had one of those weeks where we are not home, it seems extra special to be able to stay home and cook dinner tonight. Clint has been out of town at an ag conference, Nate was wrapping up his wrestling season late last night and I have been playing single parent which means much easier dinners and an occasional (ahem) dinner out.

So tonight I was super happy to be able to bring back an old favorite and am making Mozzarella bake. This is my absolute favorite baked spaghetti casserole. It is easy to throw together in advance, can be modified for your families taste and likes, and can be refrigerated for a couple days before actually baking. I have taken this to multiple sports banquets, potlucks and etc. Always a hit with the teens!

So if you decide to try this for your family as well- I would love to get some feedback!

Start by gathering your ingredients!

 

Whisk one egg before adding cheeses

 

Tonight I chose to brown 1 lb. hamburger with 1 lb. mild Italian sausage

 

Mix cheeses with egg

 

Ready for the oven!

This is easy to modify- my family likes mushrooms so we used a mushroom based spaghetti sauce, but you can use whatever sauce you prefer. You can also modify and use turkey instead of hamburger, or all hamburger, or like in this case I used Italian sausage and hamburger. Mix it up to your liking!

 


Done! I had a glass of Iowa blush wine with mine… Perfect!

(Side note… This was the first time I had tried sausage instead of all hamburger in mine which my family did not care for as much. Even though I used mild… They thought the sausage flavor was too strong…) Next time I will go back to just beef.

Good luck and stay warm!

Mozzarella Bake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 20 minute prep, 30 min. bake time
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (I use 2 pounds)

12 oz. cottage cheese

16 oz. spaghetti sauce of your choice (we like mushroom)

8 oz. mozzarella cheese

1/2 tsp. minced onion

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. garlic salt

3 oz. parmesean cheese

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 egg beaten

8 oz. sour cream

5 oz. thin spaghetti cooked and drained

Brown ground beef and drain. Add spaghetti sauce and seasonings. Simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Beat egg in large bowl. Add sour cream, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and salt. Blend well. Stir in noodles. Place half of the noodle mixture in 9×13″ pan sprayed with cooking spray. Top with 1/2 of the ground beef mixture. Repeat layers. Sprinkle parmesean cheese lightly over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.

Serves 6-8

Source: Webster County Catholic Churches cookbook “Catholic Team Parishes of Webster County 150 years of faith and food”

Check out this post at the March Country Fair blog party! Click here: March Country Fair Blog Party

 

 

 

What is a farm manager?

I have been asked literally a million times what my husband does. “He is a farm manager? “What is that?”, “Does he farm?”, “What does he manage?” I have a lot of confused looks and questions whenever I mention his career. So let me clear some of the myths behind farm management and what a farm manager actually does.

  1. He does not drive around in a pickup and look at fields. …well… he kind of does… but not really. He does own a pick up and he does look at fields, but he gets out of the pick up and ventures into fields. Just like a farmer, he has to check moisture, look for signs of pests and weeds, and check the progress of the crops he is responsible for.
  2. He does not work with the farmer. I think this is the biggest misconception. Yes, his job is to work for the land owner, (who is not always the farmer) but he works with the land owner and the farmer toward the best outcome.
  3.  Farm managers aren’t as busy as farmers. Actually this is completely false. My husband is gone just as much as the farmers he works with. When you are responsible for the production and outcome on over 50 fields, you are gone. ALOT. He is in the combine when they are combining, in the tractor when they are planting and out visiting fields when chemicals are being put on (or not). His family knows what it is like to have him hit a “busy season” and we experience his absence too.
  4. Not all agents that sell farm ground are farm managers. Yes. To manage ground you have to have a real estate license, even if you do not sell. (In other words you cannot manage real estate without a real estate license). This also enables you to list and sell farm ground. Some also carry insurance licenses to they can sell crop insurance. Depends on who you work for.
  5. Farm managers don’t understand how farming works. My husband grew up on a cattle feedlot, worked on a farm all the way through college, has managed more than one farm chemical outlet, has a degree in agronomy, and has earned sales awards in both chemical and land. He also was awarded an environmental service award and was in charge of a winter nursery in Puerto Rico… so he does know agriculture.

The best way for me to describe what my husband does is to set up a scenario- one he has seen time and time again… Imagine being an adult child of a farmer who has farmed his whole life. You grew up, moved away to the coast and upon the death of your dad you inherit 240 acres of farm ground back in the midwest. You have no idea how to farm, what land can make in rent, what an input is, what kinds of seed to plant and you have no idea who is currently farming this land and how does that rent work? You are established in your career, know nothing abut farming and have no desire to move back. How do you take care of this investment you were given?

This is where the farm manager comes in. He is hired with the responsibility of managing the land, rent, and depending on the contract, any leases, sales and upkeep of the ground. He meets with the seed and chemical companies, hires the sprayers, chooses the seed in some cases, hires the people who will put up new terraces, work on drainage issues, complete tiling etc. He works with managed ground, custom ground, and owners. The land owner who knows nothing about this or cannot or does not want to manage this all him/herself can rely on the farm manager to get the best return on his/her investment.

For many, it really is a blessing to have access to a farm manager if you have no idea what to do next once you inherit ground. He is utilized by adult children who have land, widows of farmers, and in some cases he is works for investment companies.

Bottom line is that farm managers are a very necessary part of the agricultural landscape. They are men and women who work hard to protect the farm ground that is such an important part of the agricultural foundation of our country. If you ever wonder just exactly what they do, just ask! They are proud of the profession they love.

Picture of my husbands dad and siblings by his tractor late 70’s