There’s No Place Like Home – Except The Camper!


And again, we had an unplanned camping weekend out to Belva Deer! Dad and Mom pulled out last Monday and Eric and Drew and I ran out there for supper on Tuesday night. They mentioned they would like to have us come out and join them so when Joe got home Thursday off we went!  Eric came out Friday night for supper and a game or two of Bocce ball. It ended up being a little bit of a reunion of sorts then on Saturday as Mom’s two brothers and their wives and Dad’s twin sister and her husband came out for lunch and to visit through the afternoon. It’s always fun to visit with my wonderful and fun aunts and uncles and we don’t get to see them often enough. Drew made friends with the neighbor kids and had the best time. The weather was absolutely beautiful all weekend. Beautiful temps all day and perfect cool campfire weather at night. The only thing that could have made it better would have been rain. Fun times camping – again!

When we got the camper home today I spent the afternoon cleaning it, with a little “help” from Drew! We scrubbed down counters and sinks and toilet, dusted every surface, vacuumed the carpets and scrubbed the floors. I still have to wash the bedding and make the bed back up and we’ll be all ready for next weekend as we’re off on our annual Clear Lake trip. Fun times with friends and a car show to beat all car shows. 1,000 cars or more in a parade around beautiful Clear Lake on Friday night and then the show on Saturday in the middle of the town of Clear Lake which sits right on the water. We look forward to this every year – the car show is fun but camping with great friends we see rarely is such a treat! And this year Joe’s sister and brother-in-law are going to visit us and check out the car show on Saturday. We are really excited for the weekend!

Recipe Wall

I finished a project today that I have been working on for awhile. I gathered up recipe cards handwritten by family members and framed them in little vintage frames. After getting my cupboards painted I decided it was time to put everything together and hang them. So far I have a card from my mom, my mother-in-law, my Grandma Houseal and my Step-Grandma Houseal. My aunt is looking to see if she has one from Grandma Ward and I’ve asked her if I could get one with her handwriting too. I love decorating with anything family and what’s more family than handwritten recipe cards from your loved ones. I’m afraid recipe cards are becoming a thing of the past. The same with cookbooks. It’s so much easier to get on Pinterest, find a recipe and print it off. I find myself doing this all the time. But they just aren’t the same as a handwritten card. Now I have something to look at when I’m doing dishes that reminds me of the many wonderful meals I’ve had, cooked by the wonderful women that have been and/or still are in my life. Cherished memories for sure!

I found this postcard in one of the frames. You never know what you’re going to find when you take apart an old frame. I always keep the things I find. I put this postcard back in the frame behind one of the recipes.
I love the different handwriting. Cursive is becoming obsolete and yet its so pretty and personal. My mom and her moms writing looks so similar. My mother-in-law hated her handwriting. She was left handed and when she was learning to write she said the nuns would tie her left hand behind her back and make her use her right.

What’s For Breakfast?


I know my pan isn’t very pretty but it was my grandma’s and I like using it knowing she used it too!

I haven’t always been good at eating breakfast. Or if I did eat breakfast, it probably wasn’t going to be healthy. For the past few months I’ve been following the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating. I haven’t stayed on plan 100% but I’m working on it! One thing I have done is start eating a healhty breakfast on a daily basis. Some days it’s Greek yogurt with berries and little sweetener. Once in awhile I’ve tried a muffin in a mug recipe but haven’t found a recipe I really like. But one thing I’ve found that I really like is this Cran-Apple Oat Cake. Minus the cran simply because they don’t carry fresh cranberries right now at my little local grocery store.

It’s so easy to make. The night before I soak the oats and mix the rest of the dry ingredients together. Then all I have to do in the morning is dump the dry ingredients in the oats, add the wet ingredients and the apple, stir it up and bake. One thing I did discover the other day though was not to forget to add the dry ingredients. I mixed everything up, baked it, sat down to eat and what a surprise! It was edible but just barely. I didn’t even realize what I had done wrong until I went back to the kitchen with my empty plate and discovered my little bowl containing the baking powder, sweetener and cinnamon. I doubt I make that mistake again! Another tip –  when I warm up the leftovers in the microwave I only warm for about thirty seconds otherwise it gets rubbery. A great filling breakfast and it will perfect in the winter – a nice warm filling breakfast! You can find the recipe at I have found lots of great recipes on her site and she also has a great cookbook full of recipes I can’t wait to try.

The Countdown Has Begun

I’ve spent the past two days getting Eric’s linens all washed up and ready to go for college. A friend of mine recommended checking out the Resident Hall Linens emails I had been getting and brochures I’d been getting. She had ordered from them for her son and another mother she talked to had too. I had been ignoring them thinking they were probably something of a scam. I’m glad I talked to her though because after checking into them I decided they were the way to go.

There are different packages to choose from which worked out great. This package came with two sets of twin XL sheets, a blanket, mattress pad, pillow, two sets of towels, reversible comforter, and foam cover and the sheets and comforter came in the color he requested – black! All at a great price and all in one shot. No running around the stores trying to find everything in the color he wanted and in the right size. That’s one thing to cross off the list anyway. His computer has been ordered and we’re waiting on it to be delivered. Next we do need to go shopping for a “few” more things. We have a TV, microwave and coffee pot he can take but there’s a few more things we’ll have to look for. Thrift stores here we come!

Why Do We Camp?

We have been camping for years. At least 25 I would say. Our camping friends have changed throughout the years. Our campers have changed throughout the years. But still we camp. We got our first camper after Joe roofed a house for a friend. In payment, they gave him a camper. An old, dilapidated little camper actually. All the water lines were ruined and the refrigerator didn’t work. It was pretty much falling apart. But, we were young and thought we had hit the mother load! And we had so much fun in that little falling apart camper. We had friends who also had a little old camper, although it was in much better shape than ours, and we spent the weekends at one campground or another with them and their daughters. Their two girls and our two kids were so close in age and had so much fun together. They were from a neighboring community and the kids would never had gotten to be friends if we hadn’t spent so much time camping together.

That’s why we camp. We have made friends throughout the years with people we probably would have known as acquaintances but that would be it. Instead, when you spend weekends camping together you really get to know each other. In a whole different way! We have developed lifelong connections with these people and our kids have developed connections with others that they wouldn’t have in any other way.

It’s different now that we only have one little to take along. And times have changed too. At one time there would no less than four kids and usually many more and those kids would take off in a “pack” and hit the playground or go hiking or ride their bikes all over the campground. They had to check in so we knew they were okay but otherwise were free to roam. They would inevitably make new friends from around the campground. Friends they probably would never see again but they still touched each other’s lives for a day or two. They also spent most nights in a tent and not in the camper. They had way more fun together in the tent away from parents! Camping was a whole different world for them and they loved it. Even as they got older they would want to come with us and camp.

Today is not quite the same. All of our camping friends are our age and so their kids are either teenagers or are gone and so Drew doesn’t get the same experience as our older kids did. And times have changed. You don’t just let kids roam today and check in once in awhile. It Drew wants to play at the playground or ride his bike, an adult goes along. There is no letting him take off on his own and explore. But he still makes new friends. The last time we camped he met the little girl who was staying next door with her grandparents. They would ride their bikes and play with chalk and had a great time. Over the weekend we visited my sister who was camping and Drew spent the evening playing on the play equipment set up where we could sit and watch. He loved playing with a group of kids he’d never met before. Kids don’t get to do that much anymore. We have to be too much on guard at all times to let them make friends with strangers.

But the best part of camping is being together. When it’s just you and your kids at a campground for the weekend there is nothing else to do but spend time together. There is no house to clean or yard to mow or any other day to day chores. It’s just family and sitting around the campfire or playing a game of cards or riding bikes together or going on a hike. For us, camping has been the best activity we could have ever done together as a family. We didn’t go on big vacations, instead we spent our weekends together camping. And I wouldn’t change that for anything. I asked my daughter why her and her husband decided to buy a camper and she said some of her best memories of growing up are of us camping and she wants that for her children too. That’s why we camp.

A Road Trip, A Visit, And A Walk Around The Yard

This is where we’ll be on Labor Day

This weekend has sure flown by. We decided to road trip on Friday and head up to northern Iowa and check out the campground we’re going to be staying at over Labor Day. Where we have had excessive heat and no rain, they’ve had excessive rain and storms. They were working on cleaning up downed trees and downed power lines and it was raining while we were there but they were super nice people and I think we’re going to have fun staying here!

Saturday saw us heading south to Lake Rathbun. My sister was camping and asked us to come spend the day. So, off we went for a nice, relaxing afternoon and evening spending time in another campground! We have camped at Lake Rathbun but never at Island View and what a beautiful campground. We would like to stay there sometime – it was so nice. Beautiful views of the lake, huge sites and playgrounds in the middle so you can sit at your site and watch the kids play. Perfect when you have littles!

When life is not coming up roses look to the weeds and find the beauty hidden within them.” –L.F. Young

Today the temps and humidity broke a little and Drew and I and the chickens took a nice walk around the yard. My flowers are really suffering from the heat and lack of rain but the wildflowers are abundant. Drew picked me a beautiful bouquet that we’re enjoying in the house. I am amazed at some of the beautiful wildflowers in this area. Many consider them weeds but they brighten up the landscape with so many beautiful colors. I love them!


Driving Around

Queen Anne’s Lace, cornfields and clouds – our little neck of the woods sure is pretty!

When it’s too hot to be outside and nobody wants to sit inside – you head to town for ice cream and go for a drive! Even though it’s unbearably hot outside, we can still enjoy the scenery from the truck. I love the cornfields and the Queen Anne’s Lace – it is blooming everywhere right now. And the clouds were beautiful!

Lake Belva Deer


I’ve been busy painting the past few days. It’s so hot outside – we’ve been under an excessive heat warning – so I decided it would be a good time to pain my kitchen cupboards. Joe has been gone too so that gives me more “free” time to work on bigger projects. And, I decided to go with black. I know the trend right now is a light and airy farmhouse look and I think it’s beautiful but I’ve never been one to fit in with the norm or to follow the trends. I went from light colors to black! And I love it! And even better, when Joe got home he said he was really surprised but he likes it too! I don’t have nice cupboards and they’ve been painted a few times but the black really sharpens them up and this time I went all out and painted the insides of the doors too. That made a huge difference. Before the insides showed all the different colors they’ve been painted and didn’t look nice at all. Next is different countertops and flooring and trim and backsplash around the stove and a new refrigerator. But who knows how long it will be before we get around to that. No sense in getting into a hurry – the kitchen isn’t going anywhere right??!!

Please ignore the clutter – I hadn’t picked up after painting and the paint is still wet!


Then, spur of the moment, I decided to bring this bench back into the house. I saw one on another blog and loved the way she had draped a blanket over the back. Joe’s dad made us this bench years ago and I had it stored out in the garage because I’m not a fan of the heart cutout in the back of the bench. I had racked my brain trying to think of something to cover the heart and never once thought to drape something over the back of it. I brought it in today, cleaned it up and painted it black. It still needs another coat in areas and some touch up but I couldn’t wait to see how it was going to look in the dining room! Then I dug this old quilt out of the bedroom closet (I didn’t even remember having this quilt. No idea where it came from. I was actually looking for my doll quilts made by my grandmas but I didn’t find those in my search). I love the way it covers up the heart and I’m loving that I brought the bench back in the house. Albert loved doing woodworking projects when he was younger and I’m blessed to have this and a hutch that he made. Treasures for sure.

Change In Plans

Ready for a road trip!

We didn’t go camping this past weekend like planned. We spent Saturday in Coon Rapids with Joe’s family instead. It was their county fair and they decided at the last minute to put a float in the parade and asked us to come up. Joe’s brother just bought a tractor that was identical to the first tractor their dad had owned and they thought it would be fun to put it in the parade. They pulled a hay rack and had family sit on the hayrack. Albert, who is 91, had a great time throwing candy out to the spectators and the kids had a blast squirting everyone with squirt guns! There wasn’t room for everyone to sit on the rack so a few of us watched the parade and took pictures instead.

Heading to the hay rack!

After the parade we went out for lunch at the local bowling alley then visited with Albert for a little while before heading home. It was great to see Albert enjoy the day!

On the way home we stopped at Bass Pro Shop for some cheap entertainment. Drew loves to see the fish and all the animals in the store. Someone had their Great Dane there and what a beautiful majestic dog to see! We all tried our hand at shooting targets. (I wasn’t very good at it!) Then onto Casey’s for gas and ice cream cone and a drive around Lake Red Rock and supper at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Pella before finally heading home. Drew couldn’t wait to get home, let Isee lose and then run and play outside. It was a long day but we had fun!

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!