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

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Longaberger Experience 

This post has been in my draft box for a long longgg time. I think because writing it is so bittersweet. The Longaberger company has always been a company that I LOVED the products from. The handmade baskets, the pottery, I simply loved the stuff at a time when I really could not afford it! The “heyday” for the company so to speak was back in the mid 90’s (about the time I was in high school) and just after (when I was a struggling college student working her way through nursing school.) Let’s face it- I had no money and despite my attempts to at one time sell it for a discount, I still did not have the funds.

Don’t get me wrong I had a few things.. and those things I cherished because I simply love the pottery and baskets they make. But let’s face it, I was no big time collector.  

Fast forward to the here and now. I had promised my mom, who was a Longeaberger lover like me…that I would one day take her to the home offices in Dresden, Ohio so she could tour the factory and watch the basket makers at work. I had always wanted to see this massive operation myself, and what better way to help your mom cross something off her bucket list than drive her the 10 hours there, throw in your daughter and make a mother/daughter weekend out of it? Perfect!
We had it all planned. I would drive, we would take the factory tour (call ahead of course and reserve a time as reservations are recommended…) and see the place we had both always longed to see.

  
We left on a Tuesday in August- mid-week would be perfect. Lines would be down despite the peak of travel season. Our goal would be to see the town of Dresden, the factory tour and the large home office built to resemble a Longaberger basket.

Frankly——– I hate to say it——–but it was such a disappointment.

The best part was experiencing it with my mom and daughter as we had always planned. But the grounds…. oh my goodness the grounds… they are BARREN. Driving onto the complex you pass a guard shack that has not been occupied since the early 2000’s. The daycare center for employees was so barren, abandoned, and overgrown we had to ask someone what was under and behind all the brush that had grown up and around it. The main buildings massive circular drive was closed off with construction cones and was so overgrown that once we drove around the cones to see it the building itself was unrecognizable. The company timeline in the visitor center had not been updated since 2000.

We had made a “reservation” why I do not know as there was a grand total of six…. six adults on the tour and my daughter. How sad.

One lady kept saying that she had taken the tour back in the heyday and it was so packed you were only allowed to walk around the upstairs catwalk. Lines and lines of shut down basket maker stations stand unused. The few basket makers left pump out the reminder of the product by hand and are more than happy to show you how it is done.

The saddest part is of the thousands of employees that once graced those hallways only roughly 250 are left. So sad.

I am glad I went. I am glad to have fullfilled the bucket list item on my list and my moms list. I am all about seeing new things and seeing the factory and taking the tour and seeing the home office are all things I have wanted to do. So I have no regrets. I also bought a ton, got a discount at the on grounds store and filled the back end of my van with purchases on my way home.

I just am sad to see the decline of this great company and appreciate that I had an opportunity to see it’s “home” even though the founders are long gone.
Till my next adventure!

~Laura

On Nashville and girls weekends!

Well… It was a great weekend!

I have seriously forgotten how important time away with the girls is. It’s hard to leave, you wonder if your family will survive, you wonder if you have left enough food, you get calls and text messages from the kids saying they miss you, but in the end it is worth it. Every mom and wife needs time to herself. It seriously rejuvenates you and makes you a better person.

For me, I am with children all day. I work at an elementary school and I come home to my own kids who I shuttle around all evening. The weekends I’m consumed with being a mom and I never get a break where I am just with adults. This was my break.

The weekend started with a trip for dinner to the bonefish grill in Des Moines. Delicious! I don’t even EAT Fish, but the teriyaki chicken and rice was delicious. From there the eight of us went to the hotel to spend the night. Our flight left very early on Saturday and went through Chicago to Nashville. We left at 6:30 and were in Nashville by 10:30. Not bad! With carrying everything on and just one connection we had no glitches.

We checked into the Gaylord Opryland hotel. The lobby is gorgeous. They are just getting started on the process to set up for Christmas. The hotel sits on 9 acres. It has several atrium and garden areas which are beautiful to see. They include water fountains, a gondola ride and several  sitting areas and restaurants in the gardens. You could spend a day just exploring the hotel!

For more information click here: Gaylord Opryland Resort
If you’re in the Nashville area this is a hotel I highly recommend.

After checking in we walked next door to an adjacent mall area where we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant and did some shopping. It was a outlet type setting and had lots of shops to meet almost every need. It was fun to do the girl time shopping although I bought only a shirt because of my limited space with carrying on my bag.

After lunch we went back to the hotel and freshened up for a night on the town. We had to take a taxi downtown to the Nashville downtown nightclub area. My favorite bar was Tootsies! This place is great! Tons of live music, bands on every floor with at least four floors available, and bars on every level.

For more information click here: Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge

I love live music, and the genre would change based on the level you were on. Older country music was one level, newer another level and more hip hop another level. It was awesome! We spent a great deal of time here.

We also walk to other bars and had dinner at a nice Italian restaurant where we had reservations. But I think my favorite part was Tootsies. Note…., if you are at all claustrophobic you will not enjoy this place, they have so many people you can barely move. The later the night gets the tighter the space.

Getting up Sunday me and another girl headed to mass at a Catholic Church called Holy Name Catholic church in East Nashville. Being Catholic, it is important that you go to mass every weekend and I always find it fun to attend other parishes. It’s neat to see how universal our services are but how individual they also can be. We kind a taxi back to the hotel after mass and met up with the other girls for brunch.

After eating at the Opryland restaurant we headed back to the hotel to kill some time, have a drink and do some shopping on the grounds before we headed to the airport.

Then we caught our flight back to Chicago and then back to Iowa. It was a fun weekend for sure. Then it got interesting…

After we landed and got to short term parking- I found my car… with a flat.. at 1 am in an airport parking lot! Long… longgggg story shortened a bit here- get AAA. It is the BEST. Not only did they send someone out, but they felt having a young lady alone out driving on an interstate 60 miles home at 2 am was not safe. So they paid to have my van towed home. Myself and my co-pilot, Dawn rode all the way home in the tow truck. It was an adventure! Our driver and I discussed all the way home how he had broken up with his Hospice nurse girlfriend that morning.. and that there are indeed many other fish in the sea. 🙂

All in all a trip for the books. Girlfriend time is important… but nothing else feels quite as good as walking in your door to 4 family members waiting who missed you SO MUCH…. 🙂

Have a good week!

~Laura

 

 

I am still here…. and I have a new favorite!

Wow! I feel like it has been forever since I had time to write a post! I have been so busy getting football wrapped up- then school conferences and starting basketball and travelling team AND wrestling for the kids that I have not had an ounce of free time. Tomorrow night I have my sorority club meeting and then Friday I head to Des Moines to wait for it…… FLY TO NASHVILLE for a GIRLS WEEKEND! What???? I get time without a husband and cooking and kids? I seriously cannot recall the last time this has happened.

  
I am excited to share a new favorite though I was in a boutique here in Atlantic called Renew… and I was looking for the perfect going out outfit for Nashville and stumbled across the brand called A’reve… I LOVE this stuff!

I managed to buy a top to go with leggings and boots and a handbag but seriously I could have bought out the store. It is awesome to have their stuff available right here in small town Iowa. Plus the store had long layering tanks which I love and think they are terribly hard to find. Bonus. 

Here is a link to their website!

A’reve

Check out the website! Such cute stuff! If you look in their “look book” and go to fall winter 2015, I tried on the outfit on page 46 the last page. Unfortunately….. not meant for my body type but super adorable.

So after much contemplation about what to pack I have let the stress of it go. I found some cute stuff…. including this bag- isn’t it adorable?????

  

The bag brand name is Mona B. I bet they are online too…. 

We leave friday night and head to dinner together and then fly out Saturday early morning and fly back late Sunday night. About 10 girls to celebrate a friends 40th. It should be fun.

I do feel guilty leaving the kids I have to admit. I am NOT one to leave them or miss something and Tyler has his home off season basketball tournament. It is so hard to leave even for a day. But… I feel they need to see they can survive a night or two without me and the only way to do that is to try to leave. So here we go—– and the one who will have the toughest time is my daughter bless her heart.

I will post all about it when I return. I have some great recipes to post as well as updates on the kiddos and some harvest pics taken by our exchange student when he was out riding in the combine yeterday. Soooooo much to share!

I did manage to make it to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch with my daughter though… back in my home town. We had apple dumplings and cinnamon ice cream too. Priorities right?

Till next time!

~Laura

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday photo, Deep Sea Fishing

 

 I love this picture. Always have….

I love the color of the sun rising, the calmness of the water in the channel before we headed into the gulf. This was taken on our first trip to Florida in 2012. I had booked a deep sea fishing adventure for the boys and I. Turns out I loved it as much as they did!

Nothing major was caught… Small fish called snook, a baby hammerhead shark… But it was fun. And calm. And peaceful. An experience which to me… Is what life is all about. My kids experienced the art of deep sea fishing that day. I experienced it too. I would do it again and again…

Pictures like this remind me to take time to take notice. Of what is around me, to notice our beautiful planet with live on. It reminds me of the joy of experiencing… and living.. LIFE! What a gift, use each day wisely and fully.

Happy Thursday and thank you for walking down memory lane with me again!