Doing the dishes . . .

A view of my kitchen window. A vase of flowers picked from the yard, a pretty plate and pillow tuck. My solar powered wind chime and three little sheep given to me by a dear friend peeking out from under my burlap curtain. Looking at things I love helps make a chore more pleasant!

Does anybody besides me still do all their dishes by hand? I have never owned a dishwasher.  Growing up dad always said my sister and I were the dishwashers.  (Although Mom almost always did them and we dried – she didn’t want us splashing water on the windowsill)  I’ve lived in my home for 25 years now and there just is no place to install a dishwasher.  I have a small kitchen with limited cupboard space and I am just not willing to give up any of the space I do have for a dishwasher.  There have been times when I would have appreciated having one.  Especially when I had three kids at home who were very active in numerous different activities and I was working 40 hours a week.  Now, I don’t mind doing the dishes by hand. It gives me a time to slow down, think about my day, reflect on things.  Doing the dishes by hand is kind of like hanging the laundry out on the line – both chores connect me to my mom, my grandmothers and great-grandmothers.  These chores of mine are the exact same chores they had to do.  I love thinking that way. It makes me feel connected to the women in my life – the ones I still have with me and those that are gone.  I love that I have a window in front of my sink.  I can look outside and watch the kids play and see if Joe is coming down the road.  I watch the weather and the kittens play.  I’ve spent many hours standing in front of this window dreaming away!

Busy, Busy, Busy …

I spent the last two days getting ready for the 4th of July.  My son Aaron started a business while in high school selling shave ice.  He took a class that helped him learn how to be an entrepreneur and he did very well.  Last year his schedule didn’t allow him to sell so he very graciously allowed Eric to sell.  Eric was needing to make money for a trip through his Spanish class to Costa Rica.  Selling shave ice helped him tremendously.  This year Aaron’s schedule again isn’t going to allow him to sell so he’s letting me sell – yeah!  I want to save up some money for a vacation next summer since it will be Eric’s last summer at home before college.  But, that meant a tremendous amount of work – I hadn’t realized just how much work those boys put into this.  I know the selling side of it because we have helped them sell every year but I never helped much with the other end of it.  I figured it was their project, not mine and they should do all the work!  So, I cleaned, cleaned and cleaned some more.  Mixed product.  Organized everything.  Ordered more spoons and straws.  (Scheduled to be delivered tomorrow – yeah Amazon!) Organized again.  Wrote down everything I’ve done – the recipe used, what flavors I have and when they expire.  Anything I could think of to make next year easier for whoever wants to sell.  And I am exhausted!  But it’s a good kind of exhaustion.  And nothing compared to how exhausted I will be after the actually selling part of it.  Especially if it is a hot day.  Of course we want a hot day – we will sell more – but boy does it wear us out!  We will sell at the annual July 3rd celebration – there will be all kinds of fun things going on on the square – bouncy houses, kiddie tractor pull, local singers will perform, and a street dance.   Then on July 4th, after the parade, we will head out to the park and sell at during the Cutie Kiddie Contest and greased pig contest.  We will be busy!

Today Andrew and I picked up his room.  That took most of the afternoon.  Then I took some time to walk around the yard and check out what is blooming.

Moss Rose in a galvanized tub. These always remind me of my Grandma Ward.
Love purple cone flower.


I check this out almost daily. It’s tuberose and I have no idea what to expect. A sweet lady brought this into me at the office last fall. I’m so glad I remembered to plant it this spring! I just hope it blooms. She says it will smell wonderful!
Queen Ann’s Lace – a weed to some but I love it! I need to have Drew pick some with me and we can put them in colored water and see how they change color overnight. He would love that!
My little garden. We haven’t had a garden in years. Joe built this for me this spring. I have tomatoes, green peppers and a few herbs in there. This fall I plan to plant strawberries here and have a neighbor come over and disc up a garden for next spring. I want to plant peas, green beans, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and who knows what else. I can’t wait!

It’s quiet here tonight. Eric is at work and Joe is out of town for work.  He hadn’t planned on being out of town but his schedule changed this morning.  He should be home tomorrow.  So it’s just Drew and I.  Quiet evenings are nice once in awhile!

Camper Shopping

Joe and I enjoy watching the TV show Going RV.  Not sure why – we are in no way ready to look for a new camper.  I love my camper and have no desire to look for a different one.  We also enjoy going camper shopping and looking at all the different campers out there.  I’m always happy to come home and know that I am content with the one I have!  Joe on the other hand would like to get a smaller one.  I do understand that and someday I know we will downsize but for right now I’m happy with the one we have.  We still have Eric at home and will have Drew for a long time and Aaron still likes to stay with us when he can.  I still need lots of room!  This year Abby and Jeremy bought a camper – which makes me very happy!  We camped with them about three weeks ago and had so much fun.  My sister as an RV.  Now Dad and Mom are seriously thinking of getting one after talking about it on and off the past few years.  That makes me very happy too!  So on Friday we we went with them to Cedar Falls to Camping World and then on to Hiawatha to Ketelson’s to look for campers.  Fun!!!

Drew loved riding the golf cart around the Camping World lot!
Lots and lots and lots of campers!

Camping World is HUGE.  When we bought our camper here a few years ago it was called Fodgall’s.  We had a great experience.  Our salesman was so nice and the place was very welcoming.  Since that time Fogdall’s was bought out by Camping World and boy has it changed.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing – just a whole different experience.  I will say, if you need something for your camper – if you can’t find it at Camping World you may never find it!  We looked at lots of campers here but Dad and Mom  didn’t find exactly what they wanted.  Mom knows what she does and doesn’t want and she’s particular – which is a good thing.  It doesn’t take her long to step into a camper and know if she likes it or not!  We didn’t spend much time in a lot of them because she would know immediately that she didn’t like them.  I was okay with this – it was a very hot day and boy do those campers warm up fast.

After Camping World we headed to Ketelson’s.  A very nice place to shop for campers.  Very friendly and laid back.  They had a beautiful showroom.  I did find a camper I would love to have – and I wish I had taken pictures of it – it was new but was designed in the retro style.  Black and white checkered floor, turquoise cushions on the inside and turquoise and white on the outside, retro inside and out!  It would be the perfect camper if it were just Joe and I but – it’s not just Joe and I and I wouldn’t change that for anything.  Mom did find one camper here she liked but the more she thought about it, the more she thought maybe it wasn’t exactly the right one.  Which is fine – maybe we will get to go camper shopping another day.  There’s lots of camper dealers in the Des Moines area we haven’t checked out!

These two friendly campers were sitting on a bench in the Ketelson showroom. Drew had to have his picture taken with them!

After a hot afternoon of shopping in the heat we stopped at Cheddar’s for supper in Iowa City before heading home.  A nice afternoon spent with my parents.  I hope they do find something they like – how fun would that be – camping with everyone – I can just imagine the memories we would make!

Drew is into having his picture taken all of a sudden. Sitting on a rock outside of the restaurant!
Drew is into having his picture taken all of a sudden. Here he is sitting on a rock outside of the restaurant!


This pic was taken right after getting the squirt of “sleepy water” before Dr. Enloe scared away the cavity bugs! Sounds much better then getting a shot before they drill on your tooth right??!!

All went well at the dentist on Thursday – yeah!  Although Drew decided he doesn’t want to have another tooth filled!  He did not like the way the “sleepy water” made his mouth feel and couldn’t understand why no one else could see how fat his lip was!  He was a trooper though.   When Dr. Enloe asked him what color he wanted for his filling he said red – his favorite color.  Unfortunately they didn’t have red- they had blue, green, orange, purple, pink.  He chose pink.  So – he now has a bright pink filling in his mouth.  I have no idea why he chose pink except that it was the last color they said so maybe that’s the only one he remembered?  Oh well.  He’s fine with it so that’s all that matters.  I’m just glad he was such a good patient for Dr. Enloe.  No tears and all smiles when it was over. Yeah!


Stitching . . .

Winter Beekeeper Threadboard by Stacy Nash Primitives I started this awhile back and wanted to show the finished product. I don’t do well with framing as you can see. I like to think it just adds to the primitive feel!

It’s funny, now that I’m not going to work everyday I find that I’m stitching less.  Stitching has always been a stress reliever for me – guess that means I’m not as stressed!  There is just something about pulling the needle and thread through the linen – it is so calming.  Also, it’s summer so we don’t get settled in of an evening like we do during the winter months – which is my stitching time.  I did get a lot of stitching in over the weekend while we were camping though.  I got up early in the mornings and sat outside and stitched away.  So relaxing listening to the birds chirp and the campground slowly wake up.  I didn’t realize until after taking the above picture that I had a hand in making everything you see.  I made the bee skep, stitched the little picture, punched the bee skep pillow, did some embroidery on the doily and stitched the penny rug!  I’ve been busy!

And here is what I worked on last night while watching some of the new Orange Is The New Black episodes:

O is for Old Glory by Beth Twist of Heartstring Samplery

I’m really excited about this one.  It’s the first in a series she is planning.  I can’t wait to see what other fabulous designs she comes up with.  I have stitched another series of hers that I love and I know I will enjoy this new series just as much!

Well, Drew and I are off to the dentist this morning to get his tooth filled. He was a little worried about it last night but I’m sure he will do fine.   I have to stop and get some groceries afterwards and we just might have to stop at Tractor Supply on the way out of Ottumwa and let him pick out an animal for his farm once we are done.  He has gotten really into playing with his farm equipment and animals this summer.  I love watching him play and entertain himself.  It’s not something he has done much of until recently.

Potting Plants . . .

We finally got some rain last night – we needed it.  Now we are enjoying a hot sticky day.  I’m ready for cooler days already.  I just don’t enjoy the hot muggy days we’ve been having.  Although it’s not so bad outside this afternoon if you’re in the shade.  I had some leftover potting soil from earlier this spring and decided to use some of it up by trying some indoor plants.  As I was sitting outside on the patio in the shade potting my plants there was a beautiful breeze.  It was so nice enjoying the cool breeze, with my hands in the dirt and Drew’s kittens playing at my feet.  And being alone – it’s a very unusual day for me.  Joe and Eric are at work and Drew is spending the day with my dad and mom.  I rarely have time alone at home.  I treasure these times but I’m always ready for everyone to come back home.  The quiet is nice but I miss the noise and knowing everyone is home.


I found some McCoy planters at a thrift store in a neighboring town and went shopping here at home to find a few more.  My history with houseplants is a little lacking – I have struggled in the past to keep anything alive.  Remembering to water them seems to be a problem.   I’m hoping that being home now I will be able to remember!  Another issue I’ve discovered is Pierre.  I’ve caught him chewing on some of these.   And digging a couple of them up.   Naughty kitty!  Now off to find homes for them.  And another issue – with two beautiful big old oaks outside I get a lot of shade throughout the day so finding sunny spots will be a challenge.

Good Morning!

Sunrise this morning – it was beautiful!

Today Eric and I had dentist appointments so off to Ottumwa we went.  I have always enjoyed having alone time in the car with the kids.  It’s the best time for conversation.  They always seem to open up the most when I’m driving and we are alone.  Today we talked about all kinds of things – what is going on in the world, music on the radio, college . . .

Our appointments went well.  No cavities for either of us.  While we were there I asked to make an appointment for Drew as he was due for a check up.  They were able to fit him in while we were there.  Unfortunately he gets to go back on Thursday to have a filling.  His first one.  He does well at his check ups so I’m sure he’ll do fine with this too.  We love our dentist – all of us – he’s very good.  He’s good with Drew – talks to him, explains what is going on, and jokes along the way.  Is it crazy to feel blessed to have found a great dentist??!!

Laundry Lessons . ..

IMG_1125Laundry is not my favorite household chore. In fact, I really really don’t like to do laundry.  Unless the weather is nice and I can hang my clothes outside.  Then I don’t mind doing the laundry at all.  There’s just something so relaxing about hanging clothes out.  And seeing those clothes hanging on the line all day, dancing in the wind.   And the wonderful smell of those sun dried clothes.  One of things I so love about summer is being able to have bedding that has been line dried.  I seem to sleep so much better on sun kissed sheets! But one thing I haven’t hung out for years was my towels.  My “guys” didn’t like how stiff they were coming off the line.  So, I did some research to see what I could do to keep them from getting so stiff and this is what I found out – if you tumble dry your sheets for about five minutes in the dryer before you hang them out – they won’t be so stiff.  Yeah!  They aren’t quite as soft as I was hoping but they are definitely softer and it’s so worth it when you consider how much money you are saving by using your clothesline and not your dryer.  It works for jeans too!  A few things I do when hanging my clothes out:

  1.  Since my actual line is plastic cord I clean it periodically with a little warm soapy water and a rag.  Otherwise it can get really gross and gunk may come off onto your clothes.
  2. I hang my whites in the direct sun and my colors in the shade.  You can also hang your whites on the outside line and your colors on the inside lines to keep the colors shaded.  The sun can fade your clothes, which is great for whites, not so great for colors.
  3. I snap each item of clothing before hanging to reduce wrinkles.
  4. When hanging a variety of clothes that belong to different family members, I dedicate a separate line for each person.  I also hang like clothes together – bottoms first, then shirts, socks, etc.  It just looks nicer to me!  I used to not dedicate a line – but would hang all bottoms first, then shirts, etc.  It looked so nice but . . . .
  5. Dedicating the lines makes it easier when taking the clothes off the line.  I always fold them as I’m taking them off and this way they are separated according to person which makes putting them away so quick and easy.  Just grab each individual pile out of the basket and carry them to the coordinating room – easy peasy.

I find it so relaxing to hang my clothes out.  It make me slow down and enjoy the outdoors.  Listen to the birds sing, watch the kittens play.  All while doing a chore that when done inside is exactly that – a chore!


Staycation Day 2

Day 2 of our staycation – on to Maquoketa Caves.  We visited here last year and loved it so much we decided to take my dad and mom along with us this year.  Unfortunately Eric had to work so he had to stay behind.  First we ate our picnic lunch – PB & J sandwiches and chips!  As you can see – at the visitor station Drew found a snake to make friends with.  He loves all things creepy crawly and thank goodness I’m not too squeamish.  I don’t know how I would have survived all these years with three boys if I was!  Drew even let me pet this little guy before giving him back to its owner! (Again, I apologize for the poor quality of the photos.  Forgot my camera again)

The view looking out before heading into the cave.
The view looking out before heading into the cave.
Mom was not sure about this. We didn’t realize how much she didn’t like caves until we got in here. Sorry Mom!
The other side of the cave - beautiful!
The other side of the cave – beautiful!

I am always amazed at how the terrain changes so drastically in Iowa.  Just a couple of hours from here it is flat and you can see for miles.  Here you find this.  So many people seem to have the misconception that Iowa is all corn fields.  Boy are they wrong!

You can hike for hours in this State Park – up and down the bluffs – down in the bottom along the water, exploring caves big and small.  It was a little too rough for Dad and Mom so we spent a little time here and then decided to see what else we could find.

We headed towards the beautiful Mississippi River and the river drive.  We drove past the American Pickers headquarters.  It’s not much – a couple little buildings.  We didn’t stop as there were lots of people.  We kept on going – enjoying the Mississippi River.

Mom wanted to try and find Wildcat Den State Park.  She had never been there but remembered Grandpa and Grandma Houseal talk about it when she was young.  Talk about a hidden gem.  It wasn’t easy to find, and we really had no idea what we were getting into.  When we first found the park, we didn’t see anything too exciting – another pretty Iowa State Park to drive through.  But we had been cooped up in the truck for quite some time and Drew needed to get out and run so we pulled into a parking lot that held lots of cars but no people and let him run. Of course, he found a trail and this is the first thing we found:


A pretty body of water – looked a little deep and was running a little fast.  It would have been so relaxing to just sit along the bank and take a nap here!  But not with Drew – we had to keep exploring! So onto another trail on the other side of the parking lot – and what a great surprise!

IMG_6047IMG_6046This time we found sandstone bluffs.  It was so much fun climbing up and down the bluffs – sometimes between them!  There was graffiti all over them – it doesn’t take much carve a name into sandstone.    It amazes me that we had never heard about this park.  It’s not too far from home.  We even stopped for a potty break and mom asked directions and the lady at the counter had never heard of Wildcat Den – and it was just around the corner from the convenience store!  I love finding places like this – so much better than anything commercialized.

Drew is not afraid of heights – he loves climbing!


Yes - Buddy the hedgehog went along too. Drew insisted on a picture!
Yes – Buddy the hedgehog went along too. Drew insisted on a picture!

IMG_6051The park had this beautiful, easy to walk trail.  We walked and walked until we found the end and then back to the truck.  So much to see, everything was so green and pretty.  I hope to go back this fall when the leaves are changing and the air is crisp and cool.  I bet it would be breathtaking!IMG_6053Two full days of hiking, up and down and all around.  Hopefully this will keep this little guy content for awhile until our next “adventure”!