Tips for Visiting the Iowa State Fair!

Each year, T and I play hooky at least one day in August.  Ok, maybe it isn’t 100% hooky as we tell our bosses we are taking the day off.  But, its a day away – just for us – and everyone else who attends the Iowa State Fair!  We each attended the fair for several times as children.  We’ve even managed to make it there a couple times as a couple, but it had been 2 years since the last time we were there.  When we did, we had kids in tow, which completely changes the way you “view” a fair.  So, we decided that each year from now on would be “date day” for us!  We both enjoy fairs (both county & state) and have been to several, but as the theme of the Iowa State Fair suggests this year, “Nothing Compares”!

Parking

We used to park on the fair grounds themselves for $10, but by the recommendation from Amy Hild of Modern Rural Living we decided to start using the Dart system and park for MUCH cheaper.  We use the Southeast Polk High School parking lot for a couple reasons, including that is easy to get to without a lot of traffic and I knew exactly where we were going.  Park there and hop on the bus for a total of $2!  Yes, that is for both of us.  Typically a round trip to the state fairgrounds is $2 but if you purchase advance gate tickets you get 50% off!  That is a savings of $8 right there and it is so easy.  No waiting in line, no walking forever.  We jump on the bus, took the ride into town (about 10 minutes) and are dropped off right at the gate.  If we don’t use the Dart system, we take advantage of parking on someone’s lawn for a discounted amount!

What to See

With one day at the fair, you definitely can’t possibly see it all.  There is so much spread out, but I’ve shared some of our favorite things along with making a few other recommendations!

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The Big Bull weighing in at over 3000 lbs.

Stop by and see the Big Bull, Big Boar, and the other oversized animals!  It’s quite entertaining for everyone…including someone who was raised on a farm!

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Too Much of a Good Thing??

FRESH garden produce!  I love this time of year!  I love having fresh garden produce!  In our garden we are either currently growing or have grown: green beans, onions, radishes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, & cucumbers.  Last weekend when the hubs and I went camping we got some sweet corn and it was awesome!  We grilled it in the husk over the campfire and then just spread it with butter and salt!  It got a slightly smoky flavor to it and was delish!  But…after 6 ears in a 24 hour period, my gut hurt and I didn’t want to see another ear for a very long time!

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My husband is an agronomist, so he’s good at fertilizing the garden just right to produce a generous amount of produce, which is great…but to be honest, I’m about to the point that I don’t want to eat another garden fresh green bean (and they are my favorite).  I can no longer snack on a cherry tomatoes, and one can only make creamy cucumber salad so long!  They are so healthy and this is the only time of year we get this kind of produce in Iowa, but…may there is such a thing as too much of a good thing?

22 Years…

I remember the day like it was yesterday and yet it seems like a lifetime ago!  Granted, 22 years is 2/3 of my lifetime, but something like this you never forget.  It was the summer of 1992 and I was 11.  We lived out in the country and my brother and I stayed home the majority of the time by ourselves.  He was 4 years older than me, so it wasn’t a big deal.  A couple afternoons a week I would go to a neighbors house who had a college aged girl and she would “entertain” me, so I wasn’t so bored at home.  On this particular summer day my mom was going to pick me up (early, if possible) so we could go shopping as school would be starting soon.  She was, at that time, the Director of Nurses, at a local care center and worked a lot of hours, so when she showed up much earlier than normal I was amazed.  Amazed and excited and the thought of getting to spend extra time with her.  She picked me up and said we had to run home, which was literally just minutes away.  When we got there she sat my brother and I both on the couch and told us the news.

My grandma and two of my cousins (they were 7 & 9 when they passed) had been killed in a car accident that day!  I couldn’t believe her, my ears rang, and I curled up in a ball on the couch.  I remember telling her she was lying and thinking it too.  I remember not allowing her to touch me.  This was a lot to process at the age of 11.  I didn’t want a hug, I didn’t want to be comforted, I wanted to be told that it was a big mistake and they were all ok!  But, it wasn’t and they weren’t.

The next several days were a blur.  Everything blurred together, I felt like a robot going through the motions of what was going to become our new life.  My grandma was only 60 when she left us.  My cousins only 7 & 9.  It seemed like a cruel joke to lose any of them, let alone all of them at the same time.

I still don’t understand it and I know I never will and I guess that’s ok.  I can’t even being to explain how this one day 22 years ago changed our entire families lives!  Nothing is the same as it was and never will be.  Not just because of the holes in our family because those three aren’t with us, but because of the impact that something like this has on people and how it changes people.

Sometimes I wonder if my pain on this day is because of missing those three and wondering who my cousins would be today at the ages of 29 & 31 or because of the changes and events that came after it.  Either way, this day is always a day I struggle and a day that will always be etched in my memory as the day that everything changed for me.  Hold your loved ones tighter tonight and pray to our Lord above that you have them!

Yoga Pants or Evening Gown?

I’m not going to lie..I’ve never been cutting edge when it comes to fashion! I’ve never really been “with” the trends or a “hip” dresser. In fact, I’ve usually gone against what is popular, just merely because I would rather be uber comfortable than wear what’s “in”. Even growing up I was more comfortable in jeans, a tshirt or sweatshirt and tennis shoes. The minute I get home from work (or anytime I’m not at work), you can typically find me in yoga pants (or shorts) and a tshirt! I’m all about comfort! Sure I own some nice clothes and can look the part of a “girly girl” if I want, but it isn’t typically something I desire!

Since I’ve met my husband and especially since we’ve been married  I’ve become much more thoughtful about what I put on.  Well, some of the time.  At home I’m still usually in comfy shorts or yoga pants and a tank or t-shirt, but when we go “out” (our out is shopping or dinner) I try to put on something a little nicer.  It might be leggings and a top or jeans and a nice shirt!  At other times to be honest, it’s still jeans and a sweatshirt.

The other night we were heading out to a work dinner for hubby’s job and I was FREAKING out about what to wear and it made me start thinking…thinking back to recent events/  I was thinking about whenever we were going to something that my hubby was represented in or for, I freaked out about what to wear!  It dawned on me, that I think more about what people think of me when I’m next to him than any other time.  I want to look good for him, I want to look good to represent him well, and I want him to be proud to be seen with me!  So, after much deliberation this is what I ended up with

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Leggings, a long fitted sweater, cropped black sweater, a necklace of pinks & purples, & black ballet flats (not the best picture I know…I haven’t mastered the “selfie” yet.  I don’t know what other people thought of me or my outfit and I know that in the end it doesn’t matter, but I hope I represented my husband well and that he was proud to be seen with me!

Boys, boys, everywhere boys…

I became a parental figure at 30…to two handsome boys (then 7&11).. And nobody prepared me for what a life with boys was all about. Yeah, they were cute and would say funny things, but really…nobody prepares you to be a parent, let alone to kids part way through their childhood. There was no easing into this as they’ve grown, just all boys, all the time. That’s my life now. What have I learned about life with boys?

* bodily functions and the discussion of them is funny…ALL THE TIME!!
* boys can eat, a lot…ALL THE TIME!!
* boys produce an insane amount of laundry…ALL THE TIME!!
* boys don’t care if they run around partially clothed…ALL THE TIME!!
* boys will talk to you regardless if you are working, on the phone, sleeping, or in the bathroom…ALL THE TIME!!
* you will have a Lego stuck to the bottom of your foot and be stepping over remote control trucks…ALL THE TIME!!
* boys will laugh uncontrollably at the stupidest stuff…ALL THE TIME!!
* you will watch hours of shows about cars, talk about anything with a motor, hear that you “need” anything with a motor ( at least in my house)…ALL THE TIME!

Don’t get me wrong, I love them as if they were my own and can’t imagine a different life, but every once in awhile I wonder what it would be like to have some more estrogen in the house! a

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Steak Marinade for Sirloin

How do you take your steak?  Grilled plain?  Salt & Pepper only?  How about a rich saucy glaze or marinade?

Tonight for supper I tried a new marinade recipe! I’m always up for trying new recipes.  However, I’m often met with resistance from the men in my house!

Something that I’ve struggled with since getting married is my insecurities when cooking supper. I’m a good cook, I think. But, my three boys (hubby and two step-sons) are soooo picky that I think I’ve become more sensitive! I want them to love every meal…especially my hubs. I find it hard because I love to try lots of new things and they don’t! Tonight however, I tried a new marinade on my steak and let T grill his steak just how he likes it!  (He prefers grilled with THIS seasoning on it). This worked out well for us because I was able to try a new recipe and he was happy with his traditional version!

I loved this new recipe. The lemon juice and the herbs lend a fresh taste instead of a heavy marinade rich taste and it stays very juice.  T didn’t love it because it had too many herbs for him! I came to the realization that he doesn’t have to fall in love with every meal I make and he’s not going to leave me if I make something that isn’t his new favorite!

Steak Marinade
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
A fresh herb marinade for sirloin or your choice of beef steak.
Ingredients
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • ½ T basil
  • ½ T thyme
  • ¼ T black pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix together and marinade steak for at least 4 hours!
  2. Grill to the level of done you prefer!

Sirloin marinating in the herb mixture!
Sirloin marinating in the herb mixture!

We used sirloins for this specific time and when grilled they became tender and almost caramelized the herbs on the steak!  I will caution that this recipe is very heavy on the herbs and so if you aren’t a fan, I would steer clear, but I honestly loved the rich fresh flavors!

Steak Marinade
Steak Marinade

 

Doing Nothing…

This past weekend the hubs and I went camping…just him, me, & the dog!  Just us!  It was phenomenal!  What did we do that made it so great?? Absolutely nothing!  It’s probably one of the best things I love about spending time with my husband is that we don’t have to anything special to love being together!  If we’re together, we’re good to go!  We shopped a couple of the little stores in the nearby town, took naps, played put put (at the campground), play several games of giant checkers, spent a lot of time watching our dog and having conversations…talking about nonesense, deep meaninful conversations, etc.  Overall, it was great and what I learned is that doing nothing at all is the best way I love to spend time with my husband!

Giant Checkers was so much fun!!
Giant Checkers was so much fun!!
Just sitting around doing nothing!  The best part of the weekend!
Just sitting around doing nothing! The best part of the weekend!
Camping is hard work for a dog!
Camping is hard work for a dog!

Welcome!

Hello all!  Please bear with me as I get back to blogging about my life. I blogged many years ago when I was single, very few responsibilities, and trying to figure out where life is taking me!  Ironically, so much of that has changed!  I’m now married, have two handsome step-sons, and am in the full swing of adulthood and yet still learning as I go…hence the name of my blog, so please check back soon and hopefully some of my thoughts will make it out on paper/your screen!

Where to Go from Here…

Lately I’ve been thinking hard and long about my “career”.  I have a degree in education (secondary Social Studies to be exact) and spent 2 years teaching after I graduated college.  Then, due to life happenings, I moved home and took whatever job I could find, which happened to be working at a grain elevator.  I was the secretary and quite liked it actually.  I enjoyed my farmers and the interactions with them.  I enjoyed the busy seasons, but hated the dead seasons (read: end of January – early March).  I love the things I learned about the agricultural world and ultimately this job brought me to my now husband, so I’d say it was a great experience.  The job didn’t challenge me though. There was no where for me to grow (without having to move an hour away) and therefore, I started to get bored.  I dipped my toes back into working with kids, but quickly learned that I really don’t have the patience for teaching or working with them (other than at home, with my own).  

Next, I ventured into the retail sales world.  I began as a sales consultant, worked my way up to a store manager and am now overseeing the entire company.  I love my job…most of the time.  I enjoy the lessons and challenges…usually.  However…I have begun to wonder if this is where I am supposed to be and the field I’m supposed to be in long term.  The problem is…I don’t know where I’m supposed to be.  Many people say they feel a passion for what they’ve chosen as a career.  I can’t say that.  

Yes, I have passion for my job and one of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I have passion for whatever I’m doing!  It doesn’t matter whether it’s helping to raise two boys, my marriage, being an aunt, running, my side of job of selling nail wraps, or my full-time job.  I take it on with passion and I dedicate myself to it.  That doesn’t mean however, that I feel passionate about it or that I feel “called” to do this job.  I find this frustrating.  I want something to stand out at me, I want something to call my name.  I want something to say, “Hey you, yeah…this is what you’re supposed to do with your life”.  I worry!  I worry that future employers will look at my resume and say, “she can’t pick a field, we don’t want her”.  I probably fear this the most because I believe that I am a good employee. I am loyal, dedicated (almost to a fault), and (like I said before), passionate about my job and willing to give it my all.  I just can’t find that ONE thing that I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life…will I ever?