Wednesday, June 26, 2019

DIY Gazing Ball Idea

So have I mentioned how windy it can be out here on our acres in the central Iowa farmland??  I like to garden and this house has 3 wonderful outdoor living spaces.  So I am always trying to think up cool garden art ideas, but several of the pieces that we brought from our old yard in town just did not cut it out here on the farm.  In just our 1st summer here my wind chime was a gonner, 2 wind spinners came apart and finally my gazing ball just blew off it's stand and broke!  

So last Fall when I was out at Goodwill looking for tables to paint for my "Tiny House" art space, I happened across a $5 bowling ball.  And of course I had the thought ... "Now I could use this and really have a wind resistant gazing ball!"  My daughter who was along at the time, kind of thought it was another of my crazy ideas but even she admits it looks great!  



So the DIY info on this was -  

I purchased the bowling ball at Goodwill for $5 and I purchased an all weather glue adhesive at Walmart for about $3 per tube (I found E-6000 in the crafts department and used about 3 tubes for the project).  At a crafts store I found 2 boxes of glass mirrored gems in mixed sizes for about $8/box.  I did not use 2 full boxes of gems but 1  box would not have been enough.  

I placed the ball on an old towel on my work table, squeezed about a quarter size dab of adhesive on a paper plate and used a toothpick to butter the adhesive on the back of the gems as I placed them on the ball.  I worked on this project for a few weeks.  I just randomly fit the gems on the ball and was not concerned about making a pattern.  I worked on it a section at a time and let each section dry overnight before rolling the ball onto a completed section.  To date all gems are intact and looking good, and I do plan to move the ball inside my garage for winter.  And BEST of all it has had no issues with any strong prairie winds!! 😉



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Quick Broccoli Salad

We have finally had some lovely June weather and I thought I would post a little about how the garden is coming along.  This is our 3rd summer on the farm and my 2nd year to have a fair sized garden here in Iowa!

I had gardened back when my kids were small in our suburban backyard, but I was a busy mom of four and running my graphic design business on the side so the garden was small.  Now that I am a country girl, I have a decently sized garden and have had a lot of fun experimenting with growing, canning and freezing my own veggies! 😏




I think part of the struggle now is balancing planting enough to satisfy my canning and freezing addiction yet not going over board and making my poor hubby eat zucchini and summer squash at every meal!  Its a work in progress and I sure do miss having 6 of us around the supper table each night.  Since the broccoli plants are coming along nicely, I wanted to share my favorite broccoli salad recipe this week.  Enjoy the YUM!



Quick Broccoli Salad (serves 5-6)

1 head broccoli chopped small
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 cup raisins
8 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup shelled sunflower seeds
Combine above in a mixing bowl and stir.  

In a separate bowl combine the dressing ingredients.
1/2 cup mayo
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp vinegar

Pour over veggies, stir well and chill.

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Happy Munching!

~Connie





Friday, June 14, 2019

From Prairie Fires to Wildflowers ...

This was our third Spring out here in Heaven ...otherwise known as Iowa. 😏 (OK, how many of you guys actually got that "Field of Dreams" Movie line reference! ...showing my age here I am sure.)

Anyway, we have about 8 acres of tall grass prairie on our property and this year my hubs informed me that we needed to burn the grasses.  Prescribed burning in the Spring is an important part of grass management.  It releases nutrients into the soil, which help revitalize the prairie and it's an important part of brush and weed control as well.  The previous owner had advised us that he typically burned in March or April about every three years provided that weather conditions were favorable.  So based on the facts it was indeed time for our very own prairie fire!

Now this idea scared me on many levels.  1. We live out in the country and the closest town has 144 people with a very small volunteer fire department.  2. THERE ARE NO FIRE HYDRANTS IN THE COUNTRY!   3. My husband was planning that just he and I were going to light 8 acres of our property on FIRE, on purpose and manage by ourselves NOT to burn down our house, or any of our farm buildings or trees!!   4. AND there is also the fact that THE WIND ALWAYS BLOWS OUT HERE IN THE COUNTRY (if you live outside of a town or city you will understand what I mean).

Now of course my very smart husband had done his homework and research and talked to many local people about weather conditions and equipment and fire burning strategies. We accomplished our rookie season controlled burn of our acres with no issues and NO 911 calls ... we might have been rookies but we were very careful rookies and we probably had a few prayer warriors among our family and friends!



So it is amazing to me to watch what has sprung to life over these last few weeks from this scorched, black ash.  From the first tiny green shoots that poked up thru the ash, the beautiful and unique flowers of the Iowa tall grass prairies are popping to life.  It is my joy to explore each morning and see what new variety has sprung up to delight and greet me and the local butterflies.




I have been trying this week to add a few colorful blooms to the pots on my porches and patio.  Yet they don't seem to compare to the wonders that God is painting each morning on the far side of our gravel lane.

Hope you have a chance today to enjoy all the natural beauty in your neck of the woods!


~ Connie

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Leopard print flats or the red Converse?!!

How is it that my wonderful husband can live a complete and happy life with just 4 pairs of shoes!!

To me this is just unthinkable. Not that I have closets full of shoes mind you, but I do certainly have more than just 4 or 5 pairs.  During all those busy mom years I could find a cute pair of colorful tennies or fun bright sandals at my favorite TARGET while I stocked up on TP and toothpaste.  And I may have added to the shoe collection post pregnancy when only my shoe size had remained the same. 😉 When momma needed a shopping fix I could let myself buy new cute shoes over jeans in a new bigger size! (Can I get an AMEN?!)  Needless to say, now as a 50 something mom and grandma, I have a very cute collection of fun and stylish shoes.  This has actually been a PLUS as I started to refocus and revamp my fashion and style journey.

One of the best and useful tips I learned is -

STYLE TIP #2

A simple way to up your fashion game each day is to add one "Remarkable" piece.  You could be wearing basic jeans and a white T shirt but add those Red Converse high tops or those eye catching Gold gladiator sandals and you have just put together a "remarkable" fashion outfit! 😁  And someone WILL probably notice and say "You look great, and I love those shoes! 

So no matter your size, or age or budget ... you can start today.  Just push yourself to add just that little extra "remarkable" item to your outfit.  (It may be shoes or a unique bag, or a cool scarf or even eye catching bold red lip stick!  You will be surprised how simple it is and how often you will receive a compliment on how great you look.)







Let's go be confident and uniquely us dear friends!

~ Connie

Friday, June 7, 2019

Should we build an Ark yet??!!

Finally we have had a week of mostly sunny weather here in central Iowa. I had wanted to give you an update on my garden ... but in May, Mother Nature pounded us with continued cold temps, buckets of rain and even occasional hail! All have just been abusing my poor little garden plants.  They are bravely hanging on out there but nothing is truly flourishing at the moment!


So while the rain boots try to dry out, I thought I would share a family favorite recipe.  

These yummy  "Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins" are an easy made from scratch treat and always a big hit with my clan.  They are great as an easy breakfast, sweet dessert or brunch or coffee break item.  The ingredients are always on hand and the quick prep and bake time are a pleasant surprise too.  So Enjoy Soon!



Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, mix together all dry ingredients with a whisk.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add beaten egg, 1 cup water, vanilla, oil and vinegar.  Stir together until just moist.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Line a muffin tin with paper baking cups and spray with cooking spray.  Spoon muffin mix into prepared muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes.  

Enjoy the YUM!!