Midwest Living - Small Communities but Big Adventures

Vegetable Garden

Sue-Head-ShotI have been buggin' the hubby since we moved into our little home, that I'd like a vegetable garden. He thinks they make the yard look "messy" plus with the small-ish backyard we have, we wanted to keep open for the kids to have room to play.  

One morning a few weeks ago he asked me, out of the blue, if I'd like him to make me a raised bed for vegetables. To which I responded, "hell yes!" (okay maybe I didn't say that exactly, but I was in bed and he woke me up so I did nod). We got lucky with landscaping timbers on sale, loaded up, and one Friday night we got to work.  

He was cutting to size, I was drilling it together. The kids were trying to "help" which inevitable slowed the process a bit. All in all it didn't take us too long before a lovely raised bed started to emerge. We made it 6 ft long by 3 ft wide. It turned out awesome! 

After some discussion about the location of where this new bed should go - we opted for next to our back deck. Here it wouldn't get too much sun, but enough, and it wouldn't be in the middle of yard. An added bonus is that it would also be easier to mow around.  

The next day I retrieved enough compost and potting soil to fill the newly built bed, and began the arduous task of clearing away some landscaping stones and rock, to which the kids helped as well. In order to move this monster (it was freaking heavy) I had my lil man steer his red wagon, while my daughter and I placed the front of the bed on the wagon and we hefted the back together. We made the 50 ft from the back of the garage to the beds new resting place without too much drama (although my lil man did try to steer us wrong a couple of times), and placed it accordingly. After getting it leveled out a bit with the hubby's helped, the kids and I began to fill it up. 

That complete, we figured out where my newly purchased vegetables and seeds where going to go, and my daughter and I got it all planted and watered. TADA!! 

Vegetable Garden Raised

The seeds germinated and started to break through the surface last week. Although it's a little late for seeds, we should still be early enough to get some use out of the plants. We have green peppers, chives, green onions, lettuce and tomatoes (both regular and cherry). I am SUPER excited!! 

Hopefully the squirrels and other forest dwellers keep clear, and we have some fresh veggies soon! The green peppers are already growing. Awesome! Knowing that I helped build this, and that my green thumb endeavors continue to germinate (pun intended...ha!), gives me a pretty good sense of pride.  It looks pretty darn good, if I do say so myself...and I do!!!

Halloween ... Love It!

Sue-Head-ShotHalloween has come and gone.  I love Halloween.  It is by far one of my favorites holidays.  With kids, it's just that much better.  I mean, come on!  When else can you dress up like a fool, walk in public like that, and get compliments.  Only Halloween.  This year we carved three pumpkins, painted one, and got some pretty impressive costumes.  The kids made out like bandits, my daughters bag so full that the strap actually broke.  Halloween was exhausting (you try running around with a 10 year old and a 3 year old for a few hours house to house and see how you feel) but it was fun!  This is the first year our lil man got into the spirit of things.  He'd go up to a house and say, "TREAT!" skipping the "Trick or..." entirely and then thank them with his version of thank you which is "Me Me" (don't ask me why Me Me is thank you, it just is).

The days are getting colder, the nights shorter and Halloween is smack dab in the middle of our midwest fall.  It's when the air gets that crisp smell, when the cars have that layer of frost in the morning, and when snuggling up with a hot chocolate on the couch with the kiddos to watch a movie seems like the best way in the world to spend an evening.   

Lil man was Thomas the Train.  He even blew his Train whistle we got him for effect.  My daughter had a sweet pirate costume.  I must say, my make up job was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself, which of course I do.  We hit up the neighbors, the relatives, and the good friends.  The evening really couldn't of gone better.  The only thing that makes Halloween better is when it falls on a weekend, because I gotta say, I was draggin' some major ass at work the next day.  Thank god for Caffeine, sugar, and Halloween!

 One of the pumpkins the kids and I carved 

To see more posts like this - visit my personal blog at: http://countrycrazy-wi.blogspot.com/  

An Afternoon on the Farm

Sue-Head-ShotIt's cool today.  Highs are expected to only reach into the 50s, and the steady breeze seems to work its way right through my 4 layers of clothes.  Did I mention I'm always cold?  Fall seems to have arrived, and we've had to break out the jackets and hats as lows hover dangerously close to the freezing point.

We decided to head out to my parents farm and see what they were up too.  My aunt picked up my daughter last night so they could try some fishing today, which was nice because that meant I didn't have to set my alarm in order to get her up and ready.  She's meeting us at my parents later so I won't have to run and get her.

My lil man wanted to go and "see Papa" who, with my brother's assistance, was working on getting his old combine up and running in order to get his corn harvested.

 Combine work 

Well we found them at the shop taking apart the combine trying to get the outer pieces out in order to get to some inner part they needed work on.  My son was having fun pretending to drive and looking out the big glass windshield. 

We hung out for awhile and eventually headed back to the house.  There was also a large pile of ground that he found interesting.  Good thing I put on his new tennis shoes...

It was nice to spend some time on the farm and let the lil man roam.  He loves Papa's trackers and hanging out on the farm. 

 

I'm a Survivor

 Tough little flower 

Sometimes even I have to take a step back and appreciate the little things.  Here I was busting my butt trying to clean out the weeds that were cropping up in places they were not supposed to be, when I realized a single petunia seed must have managed to find its way through the rocks, the gardeners cloth, and take root.

Out of respect for the sheer unlikiness of this single flower working so hard to grow, I couldn't bear to pull it out. It bloomed recently and it turns out its a white petunia.  Which means that this little guy seeded out when I was actually potting its counterparts.

Every time it water my flowers or walk by and see this little guy growing strong, I can't help but smile.  Sometimes it really is the little things.  

 

Like this post?  Check out more like them at my personal blog: http://countrycrazy-wi.blogspot.com 

 

Being Part of the Pull

Tractor pulling skid full of people 

Sue-Head-ShotThere really is nothing quite like a good ol' tractor pull to get the local redneck crowd fired up.  If you've ever been to one of these interesting events at a local fair or other venue your likely to find a tractor pulling a huge sled that has a mechanical weight which works its way forward putting more force and weight on the tractor pulling it.  The tractor pulls until it can't go anymore and the distance is judged.  Now add in different size engines and class rating and you've got a tractor pull.

The one I attended was similar to this except for the small fact that instead of having a motorized sled. They had a large flat skid, and instead of a mechanical weight they used people!  How fun.  My daughter joined in the fun being "part of the pull" as they called it.  It was held on a local farm with people coming near and far to put their tractors to the test. 

What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon...sitting in my lawnchair, having a cold one, and cheering on the tractors.  This weekend at one of the regional county fairs they are having a combine demolition derby.  Now there would be something to see!! 
 

 

Summer Sandbox Surprise

Sue-Head-ShotAnother day, another dollar. We have another busy weekend planned. My little man is turning 2 and a small celebration seems in order. Today I ordered the birthday cake, and tomorrow I’m picking it up along with the rest of the fixin’s. ... We’re having a small party – just Grandparents, Godparents, and Nana, his great aunt and surrogate grandma. Should be a nice little get together.

My hubby, ever clever with the tools, built him a nice sized sandbox for the historic event and everyone is pitching in a little money to help pay for it as his birthday present. Apparently “Play Sand” is VERY expensive ... who would have guessed that!?!?! I mean ... it’s sand? I plan to pick up a present yet consisting of a couple toys for him to use in his new sandbox.

When I was a kid, we had a HUGE one, and I have lots of fond memories of sitting around that sandbox with my siblings burying GI Joes and Barbies and making sand cities, only to crush them again with the giant hand monster! I can only hope my son has as much fun. Inspiring imagination! If building a sandbox isn’t your thing, but you’d still like your kids to have the opportunity to get dirty and create sand cities of their own, there are smaller ready-to-go plastic versions that take no skill or preparation whatsoever.

Let them run, let them explore, get them outside, and let them get dirty. After all, kids only stay young so long, and soon summer will be gone! Happy Birthday Lil’ Man!! Can’t believe it’s already been 2 years!

Homemade Meatballs and Grape Jelly

Sue-Head-ShotSo, this weekend I made my first homemade meatballs. I winged it. My husband has a "secret" recipe for burgers where he takes ground venison, Italian bread crumbs, one egg, and some seasoning and mixes it all together to make yummy burgers. Well, I made him mix the meat like he does for the burgers and proceeded to make meatballs.

First, I took out two cookie sheets and sprayed them with non-stick baking spray and rolled the meat into little balls and placed them on the cookies sheets. I baked them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. I opened one up to make sure it was cooked, and accidentally dropped it on the floor. So my dog got a little treat ... a very hot treat, but a little treat nonetheless. I'm pretty sure my little dog burnt her tongue.

Once the meatballs where cooked I put them in a cooking pot, and we added (I had a friend over helping) half a jar of grape jelly and a jar of chili sauce. Okay, now some of you might be a bit confused by the grape jelly part, but for someone like me who doesn't like BBQ sauce (I know what you're thinking ... how can a Midwest girl like me NOT like BBQ?! I can't explain it myself, it's an enigma) this sauce is a wonderful alternative. It has a tangy sweetness to it that is absolutely refreshing. You don't taste grape jelly, somehow it mixes in nicely with the chili sauce. We cooked on medium heat for roughly 20 minutes, I didn't really time it. Until it was cooked down nicely and was a smooth mahogany mix cooking the newly made meatballs.

And Wa-la!! Meatballs even a non BBQ fan can love!! It was absolutely delicious. My husband tried it and continued to say, "I can't believe that's grape jelly!"

I suggest you give both homemade meatballs and the grape jelly/chili sauce a try. Turned into a great home cooked lunch for us, and I guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised.