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

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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
  • 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

Liebster Award

Welp…my blogging follower immalady has nominated me for a Liebster award (thank you!) and I will eventually nominate some people as well, as soon as I have a chance to read more blogs and follow more. I am still so new to this blogging thing! But I am more than happy to share my questions I was asked and also share what questions I would ask my nominees once I have them. So thank you so much for the nomination and my answers are below. Happy Sunday!!


My 11 Questions from immalady :

  1. What led you to start blogging?

Good question. I think my lack of time I have to scrapbook and my love of memories and passing things on to others. I used to scrapbook all the time, but I do not have a set place to do it, and I thin what I love about blogging is that it is like an “online scrapbook” about me that I can access pretty much anytime and anywhere. I LOVE that!

  1. What is your favorite part about blogging?

The fact that I can blog about ANYTHING I want to! If I have a whim that I want to write about something, then I can sit down and do it. I don’t have to follow any certain theme and that is something that moves me the most- my ability to share my thoughts on anything I choose.

  1. What is your go-to dish to take to a potluck or party?

I think because I live in Iowa, and because I live in the beef capitol of the state, loose meats a big thing for me. Easy, able to be taken in a Crockpot and not often replicated, they are an easy go to for me. Plus we have access to fresh beef straight off the feedlot so they are wayyyy better than store bought beef. I think those and Crockpot corn and noodles with cheese are my 2 favorites. I have teenagers so I cannot get too crazy with what I make.

  1. What is your must have beauty product?

I am trying to think of just one.. so hard! I would have to say in terms of my hair- my straightener…. which is not really a product but a tool! In terms of my face- my argan oil (Josie Maran) or my Younique moisturizer and make up primer. It is so necessary for the touch foundation. I love how little is needed. Definetely makes the face look flawless.

  1. Who is your dream dinner party guest?

Besides Jesus Christ (an easy go to.. who wouldn’t want to meet him??) I would love to have a chance to have dinner with my deceased grandparents as an adult. I would love to have them see where I live, what my children and husband are like, and see me as an adult. I did not appreciate them enough while they were here, so an opportunity to see them again would fill my heart. J

  1. What is one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?

Relax, slow down. You have the rest of your life to be an adult. Stop rushing it. I was an RN at 20 working full time, a wife at 22, and a mother at 23. I wish I had enjoyed the road to adulthood a little more and not tried to rush it so much. You have the rest of your life t be an adult. Enjoy the ride and don’t rush.

  1. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

DirtroadNightingale : Dirt road because I live in small town Iowa and have been raised in and lived amongst agriculture my whole life. I LOVE living in an agriculture state, being married to a farm manager and teaching my kids to respect our earth, the creatures on it and where our food comes from. Nightingale- I am a nurse! Wouldn’t have chosen any other career. I love caring for others and this is an ode to our founder, Florence Nightingale.

  1. What is the best blog post you’ve written so far? Share the link!

Uh… not sure? I guess maybe the one on my kids? Click here My sons …I think I would say that because they are my most important topic… but some one else may choose something I have written on fashion, or on something I cooked so I guess this is pretty subjective. I am happy to share though!

  1. Do you prefer to have a plan or be spontaneous?

Plan – always plan. If the plan does not work, make a new plan. But always always always have a plan!

  1. What is your most prized possession?

My children!! (do I possess them? In this case… yes) I am sooo proud of who they are and what they are becoming. I could lose everything else in my life but as long as I can say I have my children then I am okay. They are a little piece of me and I am forever proud of my legacy I leave on this earth through them

  1. What do you feel is most important for your blog readers to takeaway from your blog?

Be yourself! When I turned 40, I wanted a tattoo, so I got one! No regrets. If someone does not like it.. Oh well it’s not for them anyway. Embrace life, enjoy all that is around you, make a bucket list, live life fully and most importantly love yourself.

Questions for my nominees:

  1. What is your favorite place you have travelled to?
  2. If you could meet anyone, living or dead who would it be?
  3. If you have to eat one food daily in one of your meals for the rest of your life, what food would that be? What food do you think you could eat daily?
  4. What is your favorite movie you have watched and why?
  5. What do you want people to take away from your blog? What are you trying to get across to others?
  6. What do you like most about blogging?
  7. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
  8. If you had one full day all to yourself and no one around, how would you spend that day?
  9. What is your favorite blog post you wrote? Share the link…
  10. If you could live in any time period besides the one we are currently in, what time period would that be and why?
  11. What is your favorite season and why?

(some of you may have already been nominated for the Liebster Award or have more than 200 followers but if I follow your blog that is because I truly enjoy reading it!)

Thank you again immalady for noticing my blog and nominating me for this award! Thank you to everyone who has followed, liked, or commented .. I sincerely appreciate it!

January AND February Ipsy bag

 

My January fail! I do like the brown eyebrow pencil tho…..

 

February

I have been awful about blogging these past few weeks. Terrible actually. It is just that I have been so busy! Between wrapping up basketball and wrestling and planning for vacation plus full time work I have been swamped. So this will be brief… but I will do my best!

I cannot say much about my January Ipsy bag because, well….. I am already using the products I received so they are mixed into my drawer of samples. I CAN say however that the chapstick has been good. I believe for every one sold they donate to a cause but what cause and how much I cannot say. So I will have to move on. Ugh! So sorry to fail so miserably on January.

February– this is what I got:

Jersey Shore Spa Lip and Hand polish in vanilla bean. Link is here: Lip and Hand polish

(I actually tried this tonight… I like it in an odd sort of way, it was nice and felt good on my hands, not so much on my lips with its strange flavor. I would like it occasionally but not every day)

Smashbox photo finish primer oil. Link is here: Smashbox oil

(LOVE this! I used it a couple days and then my Younique primer arrived so I am saving it for when I need travel size, but I loved it and was very pleased with it as a primer for my makeup. Thumbs up!)

Luxie flat definer eyeshadow brush: Luxie brushes

Jo’rel Parker eau d parfume: Jo’rel Parker

(So far so good. Light, spring like. Not too heavy. Kind of flowery… but not too heavy, I would wear it…)

Paula Dorf Enhancer for Eyes, “Baby Eyes”: Paula Dorf

(This is used as an eye enhancer for the eyes to make them appear wider, I have not tried this yet because I honestly forgot it came. BUT I need to try this soon!)

That’s all I got… till the next month I fall behind friends!

~Laura

 

 

 

 

 

Texas Travel part I

Well it is that time of the year again and we will be heading out for our usual spring vacation in a little over a month. Have I mentioned before that:

  1. I LOVE to travel and see new places and
  2. How much I love the process of planning for a new trip?

If you recall last year we headed to Florida… read my post on road trip preparation here Vacation preparation. We had such a great time road tripping there that we decided that this year we will again have a road trip vacation and are heading to Texas for a week. We have some parts planned and some not. Will have some overnight stays reserved and some not. The beauty of a road trip is that you can stop whenever and wherever you want and you get an opportunity to see so much of this beautiful country we call home. Nothing makes me happier than seeing new places, and since I have such a great respect for history, some of my favorite places are historical sights.

So the itinerary of what we plan to see so far is as follows!

Oklahoma City- I have planned to spend a night here and visit the historical sight of the Oklahoma City bombings. The link to the memorial is here: Oklahoma City Memorial

Dallas- Planning to stop by Cowboy Stadium even though there are no tours now as well as the Stockyards and JFK shooting memorial park. Links are here: JFK plaza and Fort Worth Stockyards

College Station- going to stop to see my brother-in-law and take the day from there.

Houston- stopping at the NASA space center and museum. Link is here: NASA Spacecenter

San Antonio- Riverwalk time! I have this on my bucket list and have been wanting to see it for years. Planning to see that and make a stop at the Alamo. Link is here: Alamo

So as you can see I am knee deep in the planning stages and I am so excited to report in after our travels are complete on everything we saw and experienced… I am so excited!

We have been so fortunate to have been able to take our kids on trips every year and have seen so many wonderful places since we have had them. Here is a list of places we have been in the past few years.. some have been with 2 of 3 kids, some after we had all 3, but we have fantastic memories from every trip we have taken.

*Paris, France (Clint and I on our honeymoon)

*Normandy and D-Day beaches (Clint and I)

*Atlanta, Georgia (multiple trips)

*Naples, Florida

*Orlando, Florida

*Phoenix, Arizona (multiple trips) and Grand Canyon

*Wisconsin Dells

*Cheyenne, Wyoming during the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo

*Skiing in Minnesota

*Mobile Alabama where we toured the USS Alabama

*South Dakota and all the points there to see (Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower, Rapid City etc)

*Smokey Mountains in TN

*Nashville

*Washington DC

I have been to many other places pre-children as well and can tell you that in my opinion the best gift you can give your children is the ability to see the world. What a gift to say you have been all over our beautiful country! We have flown, driven, and can say our kids have road tripped all over the US. What a wonderful thing…

So as I prepare for our next journey – I will keep you posted along the way!

What places have you loved visiting? (I still need to get to the East Coast by the way- I have only been to Washington DC).