What We’ve Been Up To


After the first round

Last week we saw snow. Lots of snow. It started a week ago Monday and kept coming. All in all we ended up with something like 15 inches or so.  I’m not sure how many years it’s been since we’ve seen this much snow but it’s been awhile.  I’ve really missed having snow like this and I’m enjoying it while it’s here. It covers all the drab browns with a beautiful blanket of white. It softens all the hard edges. It’s beautiful!

On Friday after Joe got done clearning the driveway he pulled Drew around on his sled behind the 4-wheeler. Unfortunately this ended up with Drew falling off the sled and planting his head in the driveway. He came in the house crying and with blood running. He banged his head up pretty good but he’s tough. After an hour of cuddling he was up and running around loving his war wounds and planning how to make sure he doesn’t fall off the sled tomorrow!


By Saturday we were needing groceries and needing to get out of the house so we headed to Oskaloosa. First we took Drew to the mall to see a model train set up that’s there.  He is fascinated with model trains. We all enjoyed this set up and best of all – it was free! Then onto Fareway to stock up on some meat and Hy-Vee for some sale items. On the way home Dad called and asked if Joe could run over and help him fix his tractor so when we got home Joe and Drew headed over there while I stayed behind to put groceries away, bag up meat for the freezer and clean the chicken coop.

Joe and Drew built a fort on Sunday after Joe got done cleaning out the driveway. Snow – free entertainment for adults and kids alike! Then we headed to Fairfield to visit Aunt Konnie. She had been in the hospital with pneumonia and is now in a care facility for a week or two for some additional help before she goes home.  She was looking good and seems to be on the road to recovery. Later Dad and Mom came over for supper and to play games. A nice ending to the weekend.

Nothing much went on throughout the week. A nice quiet week for once. I got my hair cut on Thursday – the first haircut I’ve had in over a year. Joe likes it long but it was just getting to be too much for me and it was time to shorten it up. I worked at the school on Friday and yesterday we met Joe’s brother and sister-in-law for supper in Des Moines. Something we’ve talked about doing and finally did. It was a nice evening. We decided we needed to try and do that more often. Hopefully we will make it happen.

Our meals the past few days:

Saturday: Comfort Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes – recipes from The Pinoneer Lady

Sunday: Crockpot Beef Stew, bread and butter and cheese.

Monday – Cheeseburger Quesadillas – recipe from Sunny Simple Life. I hadn’t made these before but was hoping we would like them. Something fairly quick and easy to make for those busy nights that pop up now and then. We all loved them!

Tuesday: Pancake supper with Dad and Mom at the Sigourney Christian Church.

Wednesday: Spaghetti with both red sauce and alfredo sauce, strawberry Jell-O with bananas and marshmallows, homemade rolls,  Mississippi Mud Cake. And Valentine’s chocolates!

Thursday: Leftovers. I love leftover nights!

Friday: Crockpot Taco Chicken Bowls

Saturday: Famous Dave’s – we met Joe’s brother and sister-in-law in Des Moines for supper. A spur of the moment decision – and a fun evening out with family.

What I’ve done to be frugal:  Stitched the flower back on my headband that Drew had been wearing around. That kid likes to wear my headgear for some reason.

Fixed my winter chore hat. Drew had worn it to school and brought it home with a broken clasp. I cut the clasp off and attached iron on Velcro. I’ve had that Velcro stashed away for years and never used it. There was a time when I would have simply stuffed the hat into the back of the closet and bought a new one. And yet now, after my frugal fix, it stays snugger than ever and is better than new!

Repurposed an empty plastic coffee container. I hate throwing those away and yet you can only store so many for later use. But, we are now using one for leftovers to go to the cats. I keep it in the refrigerator and when it’s full out to the cats it goes. Then I wash it and start all over. I’m saving the container from the landfill and saving on cat food too. On the days the cats get leftovers they don’t get dry cat food – and they love leftovers!

Joe started cleaning out his office and shredded tons of paper – will be used for bedding in the chicken coop.

I’ve gotten a lot of stitching done while watching the Olympics in the evenings with Drew. We really enjoy the Winter Olympics. Anybody else enjoying the competitions?


Baby Steps

In an effort to try and make some changes around here I’m trying to get Drew to eat healthier. He loves oatmeal for breakfast on cold mornings but I know those little packets of instant oatmeal just aren’t healthy. Are those little pieces of fruit even fruit? I’m not so sure. I found this recipe for homemade instant oatmeal in my Little House Living book and thought I’d give it a try. It took some trial and error. He didn’t like it plain even though there’s brown sugar in it. So next we tried dried fruit. That was a no go. So onto frozen fruit because that’s what I had in the house. Blueberries first – he decided he doesn’t like blueberries. Then strawberries – he didn’t like those because I warmed them up in the microwave along with the oatmeal. He refused to try them again without warming them up. So, then I tried a little bit of sugar and cinnamon. Bingo! Now I need to mix up larger batches of this stuff at a time because he loves it. He even wanted oatmeal for supper last night! He’s been eating two bowls every morning before school. This is a huge plus for me – a nice warm filling bowl of oatmeal makes me feel like he’s starting his day off on the right foot! And I’m loving the oatmeal too – might have to start buying it in bulk! So baby steps – we’re starting slow – one little step at a time!


Drew and I made this to view the eclipse but it was too cloudy and overcast today. Oh well, if we get rain out this we can’t complain!

We start the busyness back up this week. School starts on Wednesday for Drew. Tonight Drew has flag football practice. Tuesday night is the open house at school. Wednesday night is the first flag football game of the season. Friday night Joe runs the chains at the high school football game. And so it begins. It won’t be quite as hectic this year though. For the past six years we were filling up our schedule with cross country meets in between everything else. I’m going to miss those meets and watching Eric run but to be honest, I’m not going to miss the running involved. The older I get, the more I prefer to just stay home – unless camping is involved of course!

Rocks and Camping

I don’t know why he takes the dolls hair off but he seems to like them better this way!

Yesterday Drew and I were missing Eric and I could tell Drew needed a little extra attention. So, even though my house is a disaster and I had planned on doing some major picking up and cleaning – I instead spent the majority of the day with Drew. We played with his Playmobil camping toys – he has the truck, camper and tent and he has so much fun with them! Then we painted rocks! I had seen that our community had started a Sigourney Rocks project where you paint small rocks and “hide” them around town for others to find. If you find a rock you can either keep it and paint another one to hide or you can re-hide the one you found. You also share a picture of the rock you found on Facebook under the Sigourney Rocks group. What a fun project – something both adults and kids can enjoy together!

Then last weekend while at our family get together in Burlington my cousin showed me some rocks she had painted with her granddaughter that they were taking to Lake Geode (which is just down the road from Uncle Terry’s place) to drop off with the same principle behind it. Only she was a member of Art Abandonment on Facebook. The way she explained it they do the same thing only you can do more than just paint rocks. You can make anything you want and leave for others to find. I see it to be a way of spreading joy to others without expecting anything in return. Something I want Drew to understand and want to do. We are going to take our rocks to the campgrounds when we camp and leave them for others to find. And we’re going to be on the lookout to see if others have left rocks of their own for us to find!

Today picking up the house is on my agenda and then working in the camper and if time allows, maybe painting some more rocks. It’s kind of addicting! Tomorrow is Joe’s and my anniversary and we are camping, just the two of us, for the weekend in Pella. This is a yearly tradition for us. We don’t buy each other presents and we rarely, if ever, get away just the two of us except for the weekend of our anniversary. We tend to stay either in Pella or at a favorite campground outside of Des Moines. This year we will be heading to Roberts Creek in Pella. We always look forward to this weekend and this year is no exception. Drew will spend the weekend with Grandpa and Grandma, Eric doesn’t plan on coming home this weekend, so we’ll be off to spend a nice relaxing weekend on our own!


Eggs and Frogs and Fish

Look what we found this morning! I know it’s crazy to get excited about a couple of eggs but when Joe brought the first one in to show me I got so excited and yelled for Eric to some see! Of course an 18 year old boy doesn’t understand why his mother is acting like a fool because her chickens are doing what chickens do! But, he’s used to me and humors me. Most of the time! And then I felt bad because Drew isn’t here to share in the excitement! So of course I had to take a picture and send it to Beth to show Drew. I know he’ll be excited to check for eggs now – at least until the newness wears off!

Frog legs for supper maybe??!!

Speaking of Drew – Beth has been sending me lots of pictures and it seems he’s having lots of fun! This is the longest he’s spent away from home and he’s far enough away that there’s no running to get him if he’s homesick but I’m sure he’s staying so busy that he’ll be fine. Joe and I on the other hand are probably missing him more than he’s missing us!

Anna and Marley – my uncle’s granddaughter and great granddaughter – they definitely got the Houseal fishing gene!

We spent today in Burlington at the annual Houseal Fish Fry. My mom and her two brothers are avid fishermen and we all love to eat the fish they catch. Uncle Terry and Aunt Judy host the fish fry every year and since Uncle Donnie and Aunt Susan spend their winters in Florida this is our annual family get together. Terry has two beautiful ponds – one for fishing and one for swimming. It was a beautiful day, cool with a nice breeze. It was a little too cool for swimming so there was a lot of fishing and 4-wheel riding and lots and lots of visiting. A fun family get together that we look forward to every year.

A Sweet Surprise

Kelsey, Whitney, Drew and Matt. If the girls are anywhere around, Drew is going to be with them!

We camped over the weekend with great friends we met through Joe’s work. Joe and Steve work for the same company and they cover the Midwest territory together. Joe in southern Iowa and Steve in the northern part. Joe and Steve are such good friends and since both families camp they thought we should all camp together a few years ago and we’ve been camping together ever since! They came to Abby and Jeremy’s wedding and we went to Whitney’s graduation. We have visited each other at various times for various reasons throughout the years. This year at our annual camping trip to Clear Lake we got such a sweet surprise. We met Whitney’s boyfriend Matt last year and he just fit right in with our little camping group. They are now engaged and they asked Drew to be their ring bearer at their wedding! Drew absolutely loves “the girls” as he calls them, Whitney and Kelsey, and he and Whitney have a special bond. Joe and I feel blessed that she asked Drew to be a part of her special day and Drew is beyond excited! Plus, he got a new dinosaur from Whitney so he’s doubly excited!

Mutton Bustin and Fair Fun

Being goofy before their rides!

I’m not sure how much fun Drew thought Mutton Bustin was but everyone had fun watching it! Friday night at our county fair they had Mutton Bustin and Drew and Braxton wanted to try their hands at it. What little boy wouldn’t think riding a sheep sounded like fun right??!! Well, Braxton decided it wasn’t for him once he got there but Drew and a buddy wanted to give it a try. This was the first time for Mutton Bustin at the Expo and we had no idea what it was going to be like but there were a lot of kids excited to give it a try! I didn’t manage to get a picture of Drew actually on the sheep – I think I was a little stressed when he came out of the shoot and ended up under the sheep. When his dad told him to hold on and don’t let go he took it to heart. We should have told him to let go if he started to fall off! He didn’t win but had a pretty high score.  He walked out of the arena crying but he collected himself before he got to the spectators. And he says he will never ride a sheep again!

Checking out their rides!
They even had a rodeo clown!

Ride over – trying so hard not to cry.

After the Mutton Bustin there was a concert by Cody Hicks. He’s a local country singer. He sounded pretty good but I enjoyed the entertainment by Braxton and Drew better! They had so much fun running around with other kids and then Drew ended up giving Braxton piggy back rides. We decided they were practicing for next year’s Mutton Bustin!

This and That Thursday

Dad and Moms windmill and beautiful clouds.

Oh what a beautiful day we had! After some brutally hot and humid dry days it was so nice to be outside and have no humidity and cooler weather. It’s fair week so we ran into the fair for a little bit to see the animals and the fair projects. Drew thinks he wants to be in Clover Kids and bring something to the fair next year. That is something I can get behind – I’m a firm believer in 4-H and all it has to offer!

Helping dad power wash the camper – in other words an excuse to climb the ladder!

We spent the evening outside – Joe and Drew playing with Joe’s new power washer and me pulling weeds and just enjoying the beautiful evening! My coneflowers are really going crazy this year – they are so full I hardly have to weed this flowerbed! Hoping tomorrow brings more of this beautiful weather!

Found this pretty bloom hiding in amongst the coneflower!

Free Ranging

Blackie didn’t get to roam quite as much as the others – she got to sit on Drew’s lap and be cuddled and loved! She seems to enjoy Drew – she doesn’t give much of struggle to be picked up!

Drew was so excited yesterday. His dad let him let the chickens out to free range for the first time. They loved it but were a little “chicken”! They didn’t wander far from the coop. I’m sure that won’t last long and soon they will be all over the yard. Poor Isee was put in her kennel so they could roam but after awhile we decided to go ahead let her out and she was perfect. She tried a couple of times to check things out but as soon as someone called her off she was fine and soon forgot all about them. Not bad for a bird dog! The chickens went right back to their coop when Drew went to put them away and they were exhausted – they all sat down and fell asleep!


I won’t be posting again until after the 4th. Lots to do the next few days and hope to stay away from electronics and just enjoy these next few days!