Garden Update, 06/01/2017

It’s been over two weeks since I’ve given you an update on my garden! I can’t believe it! It’s actually been 3 weeks! So, why did I wait an extra week?! Well, thanks to Iowa weather, it’s been cold and rainy! That means not much of anything has been growing! Thankfully we’ve had a few warm days, here and there, so things are slowly taking off! Come along for a tour!

 

The window boxes and front planter are slow growing, but they still look good!  I’m guessing the lack of sun and heat has caused them to be more delayed!

The flag pole area is slowly growing in as well!  The flowers in the top bed are filling in better than the bottom one, but I love the contrast!  I can’t wait till it all fills in!

North Flower Garden

The North bed is growing great guns!  The dianthus I got from Natural Plus Nursery this spring is blooming like crazy and I love the bright pink blooms!  The Spurge is done blooming!  The Tickseed (the really small one on the right) is getting over taken by the phlox, so I think those will need to move at the end of the summer!  My Iris’ bloomed right after I took the picture and then the great Iowa wind broke them off, so they are now in my home in a vase!  We also added mulch to this bed this past weekend and I love how it looks now!

The wild bed is slow taking off, but the daisies are now in almost full-bloom!  There are also some fun pink blooms, but you can see them behind the tall grass, so I added those to the picture! 😉

My lilly bed has taken off well as well!  My miniature Iris are blooms like crazy (as you can see) and the miniature rose bush is ready to burst!  I planted two new lily bulbs this spring, so I’m anxious to see those!  (Well, I actually planted 4, but only two made it up!)  We also added edging and mulch to this bed and we both love how it turned out!  Yay for little changes!

It’s a new one!  Can you believe it?!  T actually gave me permission to have another small flower bed!  (He thinks I have more than enough! LOL)  We have a really neat sign in our front yard with an F and our house number on it and this is at the base now!  I can’t wait to see those marigolds fill in and take over!

Finally, the vegetable garden!  This wet, damp spring has been rough on it!  Our yard slopes down into the backyard and so our garden is very wet and holds the water well!  All the rain has kept it more than muddy and clumpy, which is not ideal growing conditions!  We have now replanted a couple times, but finally are getting some things growing!  Green Beans, radishes (almost ready), a few tomato plants, and cucumbers are finally up!  Our strawberries are looking fantastic too!

Well, that’s it for the tour!  I hope you enjoyed it and I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks bring now that we finally have had several days of sun and it’s getting warmer!  How are your gardens looking?!  Feel free to share!

Jena Henry & The Golden Age of Charli

I was recently introduced to a new author, Jena C. Henry, thanks to my friend Beth Ann. She blogs over at It’s Just Life!  You should check her out, if you haven’t already!  At the time, I was looking for some new books to read as I had just finished the series that I was working on!  Jena was the sweetest and sent me the first three books in her “Golden Age of Charli” series to read.  Sadly, almost 9-12 months later, I’m finally done with all three!

Reading is something I’ve always loved to do and would spend hours as a child doing (even past the time that my parents told me it was “lights out” time)!  As I’ve aged, I’ve gotten away from reading for one reason or the other.  Either I haven’t found an author or series that can hold my attention or I don’t make/have time to do it.

When Beth Ann recommended Jena Henry as an author, I was ecstatic for a couple reason! I was super excited to experience a new author AND I usually like anything that Beth Ann recommends!

The Golden Age of Charli

So, what did I think after I dove into the world of Charli?!  Well, let me start by saying that the first thing I did was pass the books onto my mom, who passed them onto my aunt!  Charli is a fantastic lady that Jena Henry has developed very well!  She has written Charli in a way that anyone can relate to!  She is very “real” to me and yet has a life that those in the younger generation (aka those that are still working full-time) can admire and be jealous of!  I knew that my mom would enjoy reading these books as they are at the same point in life!  Through these three books, we follow Charli & her husband, Pud, through their golden age of life together!  It’s not all roses, but yet Charli continues to praise God for the beautiful days in her life!

Overall Thoughts

Now that I’ve ready all three books about Charli, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can learn a lot from her!  I need to be more go with the flow!  I also learned that while life doesn’t always take the turns you think it will.  We are all very blessed and need to be grateful for all that we have in our life!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading these books and can’t wait for Jena to write another in the series!  It’s easy to follow along.  They flow well together and are a great way to escape our reality!

A huge thank you to Jena C. Henry who sent me the books to read free of charge!  All my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!  

Blender Cottage Cheese Pancakes

I’ll be the first to admit it, there are lots of cottage cheese pancake recipes out there, but I’ll also admit, that this one is my favorite!  It’s my favorite for a couple different reasons!  The first is that it is all made in a blender!  One “bowl” makes for easy clean-up!  The other thing that makes it my favorite is flavor!  I wouldn’t say that there is anything that makes it more special than any other, other than the seasonings and added flavors!

cottage cheese pancakes

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Instant Pot Chicken Tacos with Fresh Pico de Gallo

chicken tacos

I’ve been in serious meal planning mode recently and these Instant Pot Chicken Tacos with Fresh Pico de Gallo have been at the top of my list!  Thank goodness for the Instant Pot which makes meal planning and prep so easy!  During the few weeks of track season, I seemed to have really got off the path of clean or whole eating and have been working to get back on track!

I also noticed that when I don’t meal plan, there is a lot more waste of food and even money!  Meal planning helps me save a $!  For some reason, when I don’t have meals easy to grab and portioned off sitting in the fridge, I have a greater tendency to run to a convenience store or restaurant for lunch and we even do it for supper! So, now that track is over I am making the dedication to meal plan and meal prep to save our family money!

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Celebrating Memorial Day Family Style: A Round-Up

This is the first year since T and I have been married that we aren’t camping over Memorial Day weekend! Can you believe it?!  This also means that I’m on the hunt for something for us all to do!  The boys will be spending the weekend with us, but R will be working, so it’ll be T, M, & I!  I decided since I was on the hunt, I’d put together a round-up of family friendly things to do in Iowa over the weekend!

So, let’s get started!

Iowa Veterans Cemetery – The Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter, Iowa is breathtaking.  Pack up the family and take a visit to talk about Memorial Day and it’s original purpose!  What better place to do this than in the Iowa Veterans Cemetery?!  Check out what Jeni of Sincerely Iowa thought when she visited.

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A Memorial Day Picnic Recipe Round-Up

Memorial Day Recipe Round-Up

Can you believe Memorial Day is almost here?!  In less than two weeks, we’ll be embarking on the first holiday weekend of the summer!  Memorial Day is typically the sign that summer is starting and a great time to get together with family and friends for a picnic!  There are so many delicious recipes, but how tasking to go from website to website finding the perfect ones!  I decided to snag some of my favorites of my own and also some of my blogger friends to share with you in one handy place!

Snacks

Everyone knows that a good picnic has plenty of snacks on hand!  So, why not start off with these yummy snack mixes from my friend Val over at Corn, Beans, Pigs, & Kids?!

Sweet & Salty Corn Chips

Kid-Friendly Trail Mix

Image courtesy of Corn, Beans, Pigs, & Kids

 Caramel Crispix Mix

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Instant Pot Minute Steak

Minute Steak

I grew up eating minute steak, fried in a flour coating on the stove top. T did not and he does not love it, so I’m always trying new recipes to find something he likes. We always have several packages each year when we have a cow butchered, so I need to find ways to get rid of it!  For those of you who don’t have a lot of excess beef sitting around, minute steak is a very affordable way to get some iron into your diet!  However, if not cooked properly, minute steak can be incredibly tough!

We’ve had our Instant pot for about 2 months now and I’m still taking it slow and getting used to cooking with it.  I’ve made roast, chicken, chicken Alfredo, and hard boiled eggs in it!  While I love using it for a fast meal at night after work, I would be doing you an injustice if I didn’t tell you that making hard boiled eggs in the instant pot is where it is at!  This process of cooking eggs has literally changed my life!

But anyway…I digress and we must get back to the minute steak!  I love using more than one function on my instant pot and for this recipe, we’re going to use both the saute and the manual cook!

Instant Pot Minute Steak
Author: 
Recipe type: Supper/Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1lb minute steak
  • 1-2 cups beef broth
  • 1 package brown gravy mix
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • flour
  • pepper
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Cut minute steak into bite size pieces
  2. In a plastic bag combine pepper and flour
  3. Add minute steak pieces to the bag and coat thoroughly with flour.
  4. Set Instant Pot to saute and add 2 T oil
  5. Brown each piece in the Instant Pot
  6. Remove the meat and deglaze the pot with the beef broth!
  7. Add the gravy mix and cream of chicken soup, stir thorougly
  8. Place trivet in bottom of pot and add meat
  9. Cook on manual for 10min with a natural release
  10. Serve

Cooks Notes

A couple of cooks notes:

sauteing the minute steak
  • Don’t overcrowd your Instant Pot when browning the flour coated meat.  I did mine in about 3 groupings.
  • You may need to add more oil in between each batch of browning depending on how bad it’s sticking!
  • Before deglazing your pot, you can saute a little diced onion if you choose (I did this the first time!)
  • The amount of broth you use is completely up to you!  I used 2 cups the first time and only 1 the second.  It depends on how thick you want your gravy!  We preferred using the 2 cups of broth!
  • Serve over noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes!

 

Minute Steak
Instant Pot Minute Steak

The minute steak gets so tender that the meat pretty much melts in your mouth, which is a huge accomplishment if you’ve ever had this cut of meat!  We hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!  If you try it, let me know what you think!

Garden Update, May 8th 2017

Succulent

Can you believe two weeks have flown by since the first garden update?!  How does time fly faster each week?  Thanks to Iowa weather, we had almost a week straight of rain and cold temps, so I was wondering if I was ever going to get to dig in the dirt!  Praise the good Lord, the sun came out last week and the rain stopped, so dirt has dried up and I went shopping for my flowers with my mom!

I’m so excited to give you a tour of my gardens this week because I finally got my annual flowers planted and even snagged a couple new perennials as well! So, let’s just get to showing you all the goodness!

If you followed along last year, you’ll know that I have flower boxes and a plantar by my front door, a raised bed around our flag pole and a couple pots that all get annuals.  I also have a spot that I call the North bed which is all perennials and thanks to my friends at Natural Plus Nursery, it seems to get something new each year!

North Perennial Bed

So, we’ll start with the North bed!  This year I added a Firewitch that will bloom pink!  I’m so excited about this as the leaves are a completely different shade green as the other items in this bed and the pink will be a fun color!  It will also be a shorter plant so, it’ll offset all the phlox I have in this bed!  I’m looking forward to seeing how it grows and spreads throughout the year!

Firewitch
Firewitch

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What I’m Loving Right Now, May 2017

It’s May already?! How did that happen?? We are on the downhill slide of track season (unless R makes it to the state track meet)! We actually only have 4 meets left between the two boys!  But, since it’s a new month, that means a new round of What I’m Loving Right Now and a giveaway (that I’m super excited about) at the end!

It’s All About the Tunic

Can I be perfectly honest with you?  I could live in nothing but leggings and tunics!  It’s true and I’m not ashamed to admit it!  If you find the right combo, it can be like wearing pajamas to work, so really…what’s not to love?!  Right now I’m loving this Apt. 9 Tunic Tee from Kohls!  While they call is a tee, the texture is similar to a microsuede so it makes it dressy enough to wear to work!  Seriously comfy and stylish at the same time!  It comes in a variety of colors and prints, but of course, I snagged it in gray!  That is one of my two color groups that I wear!  (If you don’t believe me, check out last month’s edition!) Ha!

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