Hello There...

Welcome to my blog. I'm a full-time mommy of a 4-year-old & a 0-year-old, part-time waitress and a rookie blogger. Living on a farm with my son, daughter and husband among dogs, chickens, ducks and other various wildlife keeps life interesting and anything but normal!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Grace and [Lots of] Starbucks

Edit: This was written back in September, but I finally got around to publishing it on 11/6. Jack has now been in school for 3 months!

To say these past 4 weeks have been overwhelming would be a severe understatement. If I'm being honest I'm really not completely sure how I'm even still alive. I've had newborns and done the whole sleep-walk-through-the-day thing. I have, it's horrible. But this. This is something entirely different. This is like a new lifestyle.

Allow me to elaborate.

4 weeks ago, Jack started Kindergarten. I've had mixed emotions about this momentous occasion for the past year. A year. I've been fretting this day for a full calendar YEAR. For real, though.
So we spent the two weeks leading up to Kindergarten picking out the coolest school supplies, shopping with Grandma's for backpacks and lunch boxes and shoes and everything in between. I took  him out for lunch and to the zoo and to Chuck E Cheese and for ice cream (like every day). He got to stay up late and bake cookies with me. We savored every last second of summer.

Then it was labor day weekend. We had plans with the family to go to Bay Beach and continue savoring summer's last moments. We had a blast! Rides and games and swimming and pizza  and more swimming and more rides. It was awesome. Until I discovered a little "bug bite" on Princess' leg. It seemed too reminiscent of the one I had found weeks earlier that led to a MRSA staph infection. By Monday (Labor Day) she had spiked a fever and the infected area continued to grow.

As you can imagine, Urgent Care is not the most ideal spot to spend your holiday weekend. We waited for close to 3 hours before we saw the doctor and it took us another hour to get things all squared away. They sent us home with an antibiotic under the assumption that the MRSA was back and scheduled an appointment for follow up in the morning. This is the moment that began my perpetual state of exhaustion. It hasn't ended since.

So at our follow up appointment on Tuesday (mind you Jack starts Kindergarten on Wednesday)  where the baby was running another (higher) fever, they told me that the abscess in her leg would have to be drained surgically. "Surgically" is not a word any mother wants to hear - no matter what the circumstance. They tried to get her in right away that afternoon, but couldn't. They scheduled her first thing in the morning (aka 1st day of Kindergarten, that I've been freaking out about for A YEAR.) I kind of laughed and said - "so, it has to be tomorrow?" And the nurse looked at me like I had lost my freaking mind. And I started to explain the first day of school thing, and she kept looking at me like I was completely insane. So I just said, "ok, what time should we be there, and where do I go?"

8:45 am. Children's Hospital Main Campus. Clinics Building.

Fast forward to Wednesday.

We got up early, made breakfast and I insisted on driving separately than the farmer so that Princess and I can head straight to the hospital. But the farmer insisted we had plenty of time and we'd all go together. So I oblige. We have to travel down 2 roads to get to school. It's a total distance of about 7 miles. I'm not kidding you - it took us 45 minutes to get to school. We left so that we'd get there early and be able to walk him in and say good bye, maybe casually chat with other parents. NO. FORTY-FIVE Mother Loving minutes later, we had to rush in the door, quickly greet the principal, hang up his backpack and wave bye. All the other parents stood around the room as the teacher read a cute little book about the first day of school. And I had to wave and run. I mean literally run.

This day that I had fretted about and worried and agonized over for a year. 365 days spent worried, it was here and then gone. Today was the day and I didn't even have 30 seconds to think about it. My brain was already on to my next fear. A sick child. And MRSA is not exactly "no big deal", you know? I really didn't even let my brain go there. I didn't read anything online about it because I didn't want to gain more irrational fears than I already have. I mean, let's be honest I've got more than enough of those to go around.

So now that we were running late, I had to worry not only about the impending "surgery", but getting bumped because we were late. You know how hospitals are...I mean I don't blame them. They've got lives to save, they don't have time to wait for me. So I parked my car in the first spot I saw, took no notes as to where that spot was and just rushed myself, my feverish, infected baby and my 2 bags that had to weigh a combined 300 lbs. I mean I should have just packed a suit case for crying out loud.

I can spare you some details here....we sat in the clinic where they hoped to drain the abscess right in the office. After realizing she's not even quite a toddler and that it would be darn near impossible to make her sit still, they decided they'd have to administer anesthesia and do it in the OR. So over to day surgery in the big hospital we went, and there we sat. And waited. And she got sicker and sicker. She was burning up. (Ok sorry, I said I'd spare the details) Quick version - they took her back to surgery. The whole procedure was only like 30 minutes from start to finish and she came out of recovery another hour later or so. She was so sick and so sad looking. It broke my heart.

To think I worried about this day because my little guy was growing up. Who knew that I'd have something entirely different to struggle with. I did, however, have an overwhelming peace the whole time. I saw God's grace and mercy in a whole new way. I had a few sad, quiet moments to myself. I couldn't even pick Jack up from school. That broke my heart more than having to drop him off in a hurry. I wanted to talk to him about his day, and see him in the car line and hear about all the fun things he did at his first day of school. But I couldn't - and that was really the only thing that made me cry all day.

He called me from his grandma's cell phone when she picked him up. He was SO excited. He didn't even think twice about me not picking him up. He thought it was AWESOME that his Grandma got to pick him up. (Praise God!) But I had to rush him off the phone because I started to get choked up. I felt guilty that I couldn't be part of that moment for him. I wanted to make this day a big deal, and I couldn't. And I know that it didn't matter to him - he thought nothing of it. But for me it was really a sad moment. I mean, I just cried again from writing about it. It broke my heart all over again.

....getting on to the Grace and Starbucks part. The past 4 weeks have been non-stop. But I'm so humbled by God's gentle way of showing His grace. He's equipped me with a perspective that only God can give. As we left the hospital on Wednesday, I was exhausted. We got there just before 9 am and we were walking out at about 6pm. I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep. God had a little reminder for me. As I walked out - I saw a family taking a walk. A dad who looked about the same age as the farmer, a mom, who looked like she needed sleep much worse than I, and a precious toddler - not much older than my little Princess. The mom rolled the IV that was attached to the small boy's bald head as he pushed a little walker through the hall. This boy clearly suffered from some type of cancer and my heart was shattered. Suddenly I had a very clear perspective.  This was just a short season. A day....maybe a couple weeks if you count our whole MRSA experience. But it is not cancer, it's not a life-threatening (well, not in our case) illness, it's not a terminal illness. Our time spent in the hospital was just one day. And now we can carry on with our regular lives. No more medicine, no more check ups,

I got to drive Jack to school the next day, and pick him up after school. I get to listen to his stories and buy him ice cream and make random Tuesday's seem like the most awesome day ever. And in a 5-year-old's world that's just as awesome as making the first day of school a big deal. So once again, I'm reminded that God's got me in the palm of His hand. His plans are so much grander than my brain can even begin to fathom. And for that I'm so grateful. I think one day I might remember this truth before I start to freak out....maybe. Just maybe.

Sweet dreams,
The Farmer's Wife

Revived & Repurposed: Couponing for a Cause

Over the summer I really began my conversion to self-proclaimed "crazy coupon lady". Extreme couponing became a sort of "way of life" for me. The thrill of a good deal, the rush of getting a whole cart full of personal care items for FREE. And even better, leaving the store with more value in gift cards than you actually paid in cash. Yes, sometimes they pay me to shop. It's in these past two weeks since I've taken a short hiatus that I really began to reflect on "couponing" and what it means to me and what some people interpret it as.

In my opinion, couponers tend to get a bad rap. We're just cheap, or what's the point in just saving a buck, we're trying to cheat the system, we're thieves, it's wrong. I've heard it all. Trust me.

If you know a couponer, or think you understand why couponers do what they do, I'm asking you to set that aside for a minute and hear me out. Let me tell you why I coupon. I'll be honest, some of us are just cheap, trying to save a buck. Some do "cheat" the system and commit coupon fraud, it happens. But the vast majority of us are in it for something much greater. We're not only in it for ourselves and our family's benefit, but to offer help to others.

Truth: I don't coupon to save money. I am blessed with a hard working farmer-husband that provides more than enough for us and I can certainly afford to go out and buy the basic necessities, groceries, toiletries that my family needs to survive. We are abundantly blessed, beyond measure. Some couponers are just considered poor right off the bat because we're trying to save money. Let me assure you, I am not poor.

Truth: we have struggled financially, I have gone to the grocery store without enough money in my wallet to buy the things I need. My credit card has been denied in the check out lane and I've had to put everything back. We've gone without. I wish I knew then what I know now about coupons, because it was then that I needed the "saving" part of couponing. During this time, I was at the home of one of the families at our church and my friend's mom (who knew we were going through a hard time) took me up to her stock pile room and let me pick out and take whatever we needed. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, shave gel. I remember leaving her house with a bag bursting at the seams with personal care products. I was practically in tears. To me and my family (just the farmer and I - at the time) this meant money that we didn't have to spend on these items could either go toward food or just straight to savings. To her it was nothing, I bet she doesn't even remember and I bet she didn't ever think twice about it. But to me it meant the world.

And that is why I coupon. It started as a way to get stocked up on diapers for princess. But it has transformed into so much more than that. I want to give away all that kind of stuff to others that struggle or have fallen on hard times just the way Natalie helped us out when we were in a tough spot. And I have, and I know how much it helps. Even if my friends are not struggling and they're over and they are like "oh, I have to get going...gotta stop and pick up some deodorant before work tomorrow" I'll be all like "oh heck no you don't! what kind do you use and do you want regular or clinical strength?" Because if I can clear some space in my stock pile that means I have room for more! Which means more deals and more thrills!!

So to all the nay sayers, next time you see me at Target with my cart full of more Pantene Pro-V and Crest Mouthwash than you'll ever use in your life time, don't roll your eyes. And if I have the lane blocked off with 4 separate transactions and a mountain of coupons to accompany each one, please save the under-your-breath comments and sighs of annoyance. I promise you what I'm doing is benefiting many other people than me. In fact, the farmer would probably agree that it really doesn't benefit me at all. Other than just really loving the art and science of couponing - and always having a plethora of shiny new personal care products to choose from - all I do is pay for this stuff and spend hours of my time planning the deals and doing the shopping to, in the end, give it all away. And I wouldn't change that for anything. If I can bring tears to someone's eyes because I just saved them $30 or $40 this month on personal care products than my work was not in vain. In fact, all my time and energy and money spent was quite worth it.

Give coupon ladies and gents the benefit of the doubt. Assume that if they have a cart full of product that either 1.) they have a home full of small or grown children, orphans or missionaries or 2.) they plan to donate most of or all of what they are buying. Don't roll your eyes, just pick another lane. And if you feel up to it, commend them for working hard to save money so they can help others. I've had a few guests and cashiers cheer me on in recent trips and there's nothing more exciting - than to see other shoppers get excited with you. It gives me a platform to talk about the new ministry I've started at church and to talk about the way God has abundantly blessed me and my family. Couponing has opened doors and has created new relationships for me. It's been a fun journey so far. I've taken a little break, but I'll be back in full force as soon as the farmer and I return from our little getaway this next week.

This was just an introduction to a couponing series I'd like to put together. I'll dig more into the methods to my madness and give more in depth couponing tips. I do not have a time line for this series, so just be patient. My new focus has shifted slightly from actual couponing and shopping myself to helping equip others to save money with coupons. So until my next post - happy couponing from the Farm.

The Farmer's Wife

Saturday, June 7, 2014

7 Years

Why do I get ideas like this ONLY at 1 am?
Seriously, though.

But it's officially my 7th wedding anniversary with the farmer. We took the plunge on 6-8-07 and life has been anything but normal ever since. We've had ups and downs, like any other marriage. We added two precious humans to the world's population. We've moved like 4? 5 times, I think. I don't even know, but they were all in the first year of marriage. We've lived on the farm now for 6 years.

I'm pretty tired so I'm actually going to keep this short.

I made that picture up there because I thought it would be fun to see how marriage has or hasn't changed us. I came to these conclusions:

-I love that man.
-I have shiny skin - not as in like radiant, but as in like oily
-2009 was a rough year - man that was an awkward family photo
-The first couple years after child birth my fashion kinda deteriorated, luckily I have seemed to figure it out
-I'm better blonde
-Girls change, boys really don't .... and that's pretty irritating

So really nothing about those pictures says anything about our marriage.
But I know this. I've failed him over and over again, and I will probably continue to do so. I suck at a lot of stuff, but at the end of the day he still loves me (or claims to, at least). He takes care of us and works harder than anyone I've ever known and for all of his sacrifice I'm so thankful. I had no idea when I said "I do" 7 years ago that all sorts of crazy wonderful would become my reality. I just thought we'd get cushy 9-5 jobs and come home and eat dinner and play catch with our dogs. [multiple] Business owners? Farmers? A laundromat? Who, me? Hahahaha, I would have laughed you right out of town.

But I wouldn't trade it for the world.

So here's to the next 7 years and on. I love you Donald Richard Spielman, Jr. With all my heart to infinity and beyond.

-Your Wife

Friday, June 6, 2014

Motherhood is No Joke

This day has just gotten the best of me. There are so many things I am neglecting right now, but I just needed a mental break before I just completely lose it.

It started at 3 am and hasn't stopped since. My youngest, my dear princess has successfully drained every last ounce of sanity I have. It's gone.

I didn't help matters by going to bed WAY too late...but quite honestly I think God kept me awake because had I already been soundly sleeping at 3 am, I would have handled last night WAY differently. When I am asleep I am a force to be reckoned with. The baby woke up (at 3) SCREAMING. I mean, just screaming. So I went and consoled her, rocked her quietly until I thought she was sleeping again.


As soon as I laid her down, she promptly began screaming. And so we did this again another 2 or 3 times until I realized she wasn't going to lay down. I tried laying her down and just letting her cry, but it just got worse, and Jack was asleep just a few feet away and I really didn't need two children awake and such a ridiculous hour.

So I did what I really don't like to, I took her in bed with me. I don't do this for a few reasons. 1. I really enjoy my space. I mean, I love my children, but not in my space 24/7. 2. I fear her rolling off the bed, because it would be a cold day in hell before the farmer let her sleep between us, so she laid on the end of the bed. 3. Once she gets used to a thing like that, I fear it may never end. Literally. So for the sake of all things true, I just don't do it.

But it was 3 am and I hadn't been to sleep yet...so I just gave in. But then I started to drift off into a deep sleep and she started snoring. I figured she was totally asleep again and went to lay her in her bed.


I mean for real. It was like a comedy of errors. At this point my bedroom light was on and the farmer was desperately searching for his ear plugs. I continued to gently rock her and try to get her to sleep and nothing was working. So I made a bottle, gave her a pacifier and went to bed. I think I finally fell asleep around 5.

Flash forward 3 hours. More screaming. Now she's soaked from head to toe. Awesome.

Changed diaper, gave her a bottle, thought about crawling back into bed, but I just decided to give up on sleep for good.

Then the crying continued. And the messes began. As I ran around in circles trying helplessly to clean and organize and tidy it just kept getting undone. I fed her. I changed her. I gave her toys. I gave her snacks. Her brother played with her. I held her. I changed her again. I gave her more snacks. I gave her a bottle. NOTHING WORKED. The screaming just kept on. So I just started ignoring it. Tried cleaning and going about my day. More crying. More screaming.

I mean picture this: A crying baby in the middle of your kitchen while you're trying to sweep. Every time you move her and keep sweeping, she walks over and sits down in the MIDDLE of your pile. The middle. Every. Single. Time. A seemingly mindless, 4 minute task like sweeping suddenly becomes a 15 minute ordeal. AND YOUR FLOOR IS STILL A DISASTER WHEN YOU'RE DONE. So I finally gave up and let her eat the left over piece of grilled cheese that she was after. Yep, it was coated in dust and nasty stuff. But clearly she didn't mind, so why should I? At least she was quiet for like 23 seconds.

I know mom's get this. I know a lot of people get this. I just am so done with it today. Because it's just one thing after another over. And over. And over. And over. It never stops. And when I thought I had completely lost all my marbles, I was putting the cottage cheese away from lunch and I missed the shelf (I'm still really not sure how that happened) and it exploded all over the floor and my pretty new fridge. EXPLODED. Everywhere.

Now I was crying. Yep, I cried.

But I took a deep breath, thought "Ok, get it together" and called Reggie in the house. I always liked that dog. He licked it up in nothing flat, I wiped the residue up and you would have never known it spilled.

So I got a handle on one of my problems today.
Baby steps.

I must go try to tackle something now. I will end this venting session...try to regain a little bit of order in this house before I head to the laundromat with my two precious children in tow and attempt to clean that. Am I completely nuts? Don't answer that.

-The Farmer's Insane Wife

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Shop Local + Summer Corn Salad & Basil Buttermilk Dressing

You can go directly to the corn salad recipe - just click here.

June started another month of budgeting here on the farm. We have very strict limits around here for food, date nights, pet expenses, etc. And I do my best to stick to them. 
We won't talk about May. 
And since May didn't go according to plan, we have been living the past week and a half on bare shelves. I mean, let's be realistic. We still ate until we were full, never went hungry and still had plenty to go around...but we weren't eating our usual three course meals with veggies, starches and protein. Frozen pizza, buttered noodles and turkey sandwiches dominated our menus. Again, I'm not complaining, we are blessed and well fed, all the time. But I digress, with a new month upon us there was a fresh start and lots of shopping on the horizon!

I made my grocery list last night after having decided on a few meals for the upcoming weeks. The usual, tacos, chicken, burgers, shrimp pasta. Based on my list of meals and necessary ingredients, I made my shopping list. It was long. I mean really long. We needed a lot of stuff. Like almost 2 whole pages long. Hashtag throw the budget out the window. JK, that's totally not allowed.

But the good news is the farmer has been slowly moving toward this new food paradigm. He's beginning to realize that all the processed foods we buy and eat on a regular basis are just garbage. He's genuinely appreciating the value in whole foods, fresh produce, naturally and organically fed animals and things made from scratch without artificial flavors and fillers. It's good, because I've been conscious of these things but without the farmer on board before it was just too hard to commit too. Don't get me wrong, we still eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Kraft Mac N Cheese. But those things are becoming fewer and father between the fresh vegetables, organic meats and free-range, cage-free eggs. 

While shopping today I did something that I've never really done before. I turned over every product I bought and checked where it was from. I'm now fascinated with how a products origin can affect it's price, quality and even it's placement in a store. I started my day getting gas at Kwik Trip - a Wisconsin based, family owned convenience store/gas station. Let me just start by saying Kwik Trip is awesome. Everyone who has one within 5-10 miles of their house should go there. For real. They have awesome customer service, their gas prices are competitive and their convenience store offers great, GREAT local products and affordable prices. For instance:

 Westby Creamery. 
My dad grew up in a small town near Westby called Newry. As a kid I went there often to visit family and knew all about the delicious products that come from this family owned, Wisconsin farm. Their cottage cheese is the best. We would stop on the way home from Grandma's house and buy fresh cheese curds...you just can't beat fresh Wisconsin cheese curds. Especially if they're from Westby Creamery. And you can get the fine Westby products at your local Kwik Trip. *End shameless plug*

After talking with a clerk once about how cheap Kwik Trip's milk prices are I learned that they also own their own dairy. Their milk is local, fresh and affordable. Same with all their bakery. Their white bread is on sale now 2/$1 - local and cheap. You just can't top that in my book. I also got a bag of russet potatoes, which the cashier told me are also locally grown, onions and chicken breast. I think the chicken breast were from Illinois - which as a Packer fan that's hard to digest, but it's still pretty local. 

I ended up spending about $40 at Kwik Trip, just in groceries. With my gas my bill topped out at $93. But I got 4 loaves of bread, a pack of hamburger buns, hot dog buns and sub rolls. 2lbs of onions, 5lbs of potatoes, a bunch of bananas, 3 pkg of chicken breast, 1 pkg of all natural all beef hot dogs, 2 containers of Westby sour cream, a container of Westby cottage cheese, 2 lbs butter. 
There was probably more but I can't remember.

It pains me to admit that I finished my grocery shopping at Walmart. I've been trying to be so locally minded but I'm also on a budget, so I have to be realistic. Grocery stores just can't compete - and besides Walmart price matches so any price I find at a grocery store that beats Walmart I can get them to match. But I made a few shocking discoveries...I mean not really SHOCKING, but interesting nevertheless. 

On my little shop local binge, I decided to check the origin of the products I was buying. Some things on the farm just are...like Hellmann's Mayo- doesn't matter where it comes from, it's the only kind we buy. Coke, don't care, that's all the farmer will drink. But other things that don't really matter, I have decided to buy as locally as possible. The one thing that shocked me the most was when I was buying cheese. The Great Value shredded cheese (packaged at Walmart in AZ - CHEESE FROM ARIZONA!? um, no thank you) - 8 cup size bag - sells for $8.98, but the Crystal Farms (packaged in Lake Mills, WI) - 8 cup bag - sells for $8.78. I mean I have bought the Great Value before because it's Great Value and I'm on a budget and naturally you just think that it's the better deal. WRONG. Today I learned that the local cheese is actually the better deal. Also, the Crystal Farms butter was priced exactly the same as the Great Value. If the shelves were not completely cleared out of all CF butter, I would have bought some...luckily I had gotten butter at Kwik Trip, so I knew mine was local and I didn't have to worry about it. 

So anyways...all that to say that I think it's important to know where your food comes from. If nothing else it's super interesting. I bought Planters peanut butter because it was made in IL. I needed Yellow Mustard and we DON'T EVER buy Heinz...mostly for political reasons, actually entirely for political reasons...and for some strange reason I feel like French's might also be in cahoots with Heinz, probably not, but it's just this weird feeling I have. So I was about to grab the Great Value - when I just started grabbing different kinds and checking their origin. Turns out Koops is made right here in WI, in Pleasant Prairie. And it was the least expensive one! Double win. Breakfast sausage? Johnsonville, duh. From Sheboygan Falls, WI.
I have this little sense of Wisconsin pride inside today - it feels good to be a cheese head. Now when I enjoy my hot dog I can know that from the bun to the mustard it's all helping support local farms and businesses here in Wisconsin. It'll taste even better!

And that brings me to our dinner tonight:
Grilled marinated chicken (italian dressing marinade), sauteed russet potatoes
& corn salad with basil buttermilk

I can't really take credit for this recipe - or any of my recipes for that matter. I mean I work in a restaurant...where do you think I get all my recipes? All the talented chef's I work for, of course.

This we featured as a special last summer with fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes right out of the farm at Parkside 23

And I really needed a side for my grilled chicken. I considered making a hash with the potatoes. Sauteed red onion, green pepper, basil, black beans and russet potatoes...but I wasn't convinced. And I had this basil from my herb garden that I wanted to do something fabulous with. It smelled SO good.
When *EUREKA* I remembered this salad from work, and I had all the ingredients.

Except I could not for the life of me remember the dressing...I tried messaging the chef, but didn't get a response so I was on my own. I vaguely remember it having something to do with buttermilk so I just went to Pinterest and started looking stuff up. 
Side note: What would we do without Pinterest? I mean is there any other way to look up recipes? Seriously.

Searched: Basil Buttermilk Dressing.
Bingo, that's what it was!
But buttermilk. Who just has buttermilk? Not this girl.
Searched: Buttermilk Substitute

I have done milk with vinegar before, but for some reason that didn't seem right for this dressing. I mean maybe it would have worked, but I found a better alternative: milk mixed with sour cream. 
So that's what I did:
1 cup Milk
1-2 Tablespoons sour cream
BOOM. Instant Buttermilk.

So now on to the recipe....

1 Roma Tomato
1/2 Medium Red Onion
1 Can Sweet Corn (drained)
Chopped Fresh Basil (10-15 leaves)
*I used Sweet Basil and Greek Basil from my herb garden*

Buttermilk Dressing:
1 cup buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute - see above)
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 heaping tsp of salt

Mince your onion, dice the tomato, finely chop the basil.
Fresh sweet corn would be ideal, cook it and cut it right off the cob 
But since it's not in season yet and I always have corn in the can in my pantry, I drained the corn in a colander and poured it on to some paper towel to get all the moisture out.

Combine your ingredients in a bowl

Now I know the dressing is technically called basil buttermilk dressing, but I just added the basil into the salad and made the dressing "plain". I think I had a little too much dressing on my salad, and I used about 3/4 of it, so you could easily cut the recipe in half for the dressing and I think it would be plenty.
Take your minced garlic and salt and mash it together to make a paste with a heavy knife on your cutting board. Add the paste to the buttermilk and whisk in the mayo. After whisking together I put in sealed container and gave it a good shake too. That's it. You're done.

Just pour your dressing over your salad and serve. You can serve immediately or chill before serving. This is such a fresh, yummy summer salad.I sincerely hope you try this recipe, because you will love it!

In conclusion, shop local, when you can. Check out where the stuff you buy is from. It's interesting. Start an herb garden. I haven't had it super long, but already am reaping the benefits of having fresh herbs on hand at all times. I'm looking forward to having fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and other produce when our garden starts to produce! That I can't take credit for though, that's all the farmer. And that's all. Enjoy the sunshine!

Happy Summer from the Farm,
The Farmer's Wife

Summer Corn Salad with Basil Buttermilk

1 Roma Tomato
1/2 Medium Red Onion
1 Can Sweet Corn (drained)
Chopped Fresh Basil (10-15 leaves)
*I used Sweet Basil and Greek Basil from my herb garden*

Buttermilk Dressing:
1 cup buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute - check these)
(I used the milk/sour cream substitute)
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 heaping tsp of salt

Mince your onion, dice the tomato, finely chop the basil.
Fresh sweet corn would be ideal, cook it and cut it right off the cob 
But since it's not in season yet and I always have corn in the can in my pantry, I drained the corn in a colander and poured it on to some paper towel to get all the moisture out.

Combine your ingredients in a bowl

Now I know the dressing is technically called basil buttermilk dressing, but I just added the basil into the salad and made the dressing "plain". I think I had a little too much dressing on my salad, and I used about 3/4 of it, so you could easily cut the recipe in half for the dressing and I think it would be plenty.
Take your minced garlic and salt and mash it together to make a paste with a heavy knife on your cutting board. Add the paste to the buttermilk and whisk in the mayo. After whisking together I put in sealed container and gave it a good shake too. That's it. You're done.

Just pour your dressing over your salad and serve. You can serve immediately or chill before serving. This is such a fresh, yummy summer salad.I sincerely hope you try this recipe, because you will love it!

Friday, May 16, 2014

My Microwave is Really Clean

So I stopped for a moment to admire the sparkly-cleanness of my microwave. It's so shiny. I know, I know, it's brand new. But the fact that for the whole 2 months I've owned it I've wiped it out and sprayed it down. Every. Single. Time. Seriously, every time I've used it, I've wiped it down. And the two times that the farmer has used it and failed to wipe it out, I was sure to let him know.

All day I've been picking up, and wiping down things in my fancy new kitchen, the dishes are away, the sink is empty, and I'm about to mop my exotic hardwood floors when I hear my dear son from the other room. Rather than just come and get my attention by saying "hey mom, there's a problem with Princess" he prefers to yell things like "ELLE EMERGENCY, ELLE EMERGENCY!" or "ALERT! ALERT!". At this moment he chose the latter and my little warped sense of reality is destroyed and I run into the other room to find the baby dumping out an entire box of Corn Pops all over herself and the floor....wait, how'd that box of cereal get in my bedroom? Oh...when I let Jack eat right from the box this morning because I was too lazy to get up and pour them in a bowl...that's right. Fantastic...but hey it could be worse, right? At least Corn Pops are not microscopic like Fruity Pebbles and they don't require the vacuum cleaner. So I go to grab the baby and put her in the crib while I clean up and I feel something soft and squishy under my BARE feet.

Oh, perfect. Dog poop. ON MY CARPET!? ....and now on my bare feet.

Awesome. Wishing I could go back to my warped sense of reality where I admired my hard work and clean microwave. But alas, there are Corn Pops and dog feces to clean up. And now that I have far more important things to do than blog, like get the baby who is now eating a sandwich from the garbage can...or the 2 new projects I've inherited for CrossPoint Church or the laundromat that needs to be cleaned sometime today...groceries and last minute details for Princess' birthday tomorrow. Oh jeez. And I chose to blog.

Sometimes my reality is warped and so are my priorities. Pray for me, would you?

The Farmer's Wife

Sunday, May 11, 2014

#BestMothersDayEver #LifeToldThroughProfilePictures

Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing moms out there. I also have to say that I love all the Meme's and eCard-esque photo Facebook things that commemorate moms who have gone before us, moms that have lost children, moms that long to be...all moms whatever your circumstance. You are loved and appreciated. You are awesome.

So today is mother's day. I didn't do much...but it was one of the best mother's days ever. Last mother's day I was enormously pregnant and miserable...so there's that. This year I have two beautiful reason's to celebrate being a mom. They are both entirely unique and perfect in their own ways. The farmer so kindly let me pick out and buy my own gift -which was honestly a gift in and of itself! He has been so busy that he confessed last night that he just didn't have time to buy one or even think of anything to get me. I stepped up and said I'd take Jack to Target and let him pick something out for me. Then I strongly suggested a Starbucks gift card. So I got an awesome gift...kudos to the farmer for just admitting he had nothing and letting me pick out my own. Hashtag ItsTheThoughtThatCounts. I mean for real. I'd way rather have a starbucks giftcard than some afterthought of a halfhearted gift because he just forgot and ran out of time. So well played, Farmer. Man points for you!

We went to church, which I sincerely look forward to each week...CrossPoint Church is where it's at! I am excited to go to sleep on Saturday nights because I love Sunday mornings. They are the best. So I got to spend the morning serving the Lord and seeing my church family. And after church we went to my mom's to have lunch, play and relax. The kids played outside, we spent time with Grandma and when the farmer was done with work surprisingly early I got to leave for an hour or two to spend some time with him (kiddo's were asleep at grandmas!) then we had a delicious dinner ala chef Grandpa. Beef tenderloin, grilled shrimp, cauliflower and potatoes. Yum! And my sis brought this amazing Simma's Cheesecake for dessert. Then we came home, promptly put princess to bed, built a bonfire on the driveway - spent a few last minutes with Jack, sent him to bed and I got to  spend the rest of the night with the farmer. So, in short, my mother's day was fantastic. I enjoyed the company of my favorite people, ate great food, drank wine and now I'm on track to be in bed before midnight. Life doesn't get much better than that.

But as I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed tonight I decided to go through my own pictures and look for one of me and both my kids. The only one I could find was right after Elle was born and I was still very bloated from pregnancy...ew. But I made a crazy conclusion that you can really tell the story of your life through your profile pictures (depending on how long you've had Facebook, that is) I've had a Facebook account since I was a freshman in college- 2004. That's 10 whole years that I've been on Facebook. Holy cow. But really, when you scroll through your profile pictures you can see how your life and your priorities have changed. Case in point:
My like 5th ever profile picture. Our dogs. That was what we lived for. Our sweet Lola girl. Look how well dressed we are. I mean, look how clean the Farmer looks. And Reggie. He looks clean too. Oh sweet Lola. We miss her so.

But really, February 2007 this was what our world revolved around.

Flash forward to December 2007. 
Our first Christmas as a married couple. I remember feeling fat in this picture. And now I look back and think Dang! I looked good! How could I have possibly felt fat in that picture!? And why does the Farmer look like an Army recruit? He for sure still wears that shirt. But seriously, I DO NOT look fat. I mean, NOW I'm fat...NO WAY was I fat then!

Ok, flash forward another few months to April 2008:
We bought and sold our first home together. This was my PROFILE PICTURE. Clearly I was obsessed with my home. It was awesome, though. This house is, and probably will forever be, one of our absolute favorites. It was amazing. The farmer rehabbed it amazingly and it had the most awesome view of Waukesha county. It was truly one of a kind! Cleary, though...this was my priority.

And in August of 2009 it all changed:
I became a mom. But even before that, it changed...check out March of 2009:

Before he was born he was a profile picture. And now my profile pictures are dominated by my children. And that's a beautiful thing. Before I had children, my profile was dominated by my houses and my dogs. But now life has become so much more than that.

I don't know why this seems so profound to me right now. But children change you - obviously. But really, they make you stronger and weaker all at the same time. You bear burdens you never thought possible but your heart breaks in a whole new way. You struggle for a whole new reason. Your existence becomes about something new entirely. You don't live for yourself anymore. In fact, you don't even quite matter anymore. If they are happy, content, breathing...then your job is done. And you are satisfied. 

All this to say...mom's we have one of the hardest, most demanding jobs on the planet. And I know not a single one of you would trade it for anything. You want nothing but absolutely everything for your child. And that's what makes you (us) awesome. Love. So Happy Mother's Day. To moms everywhere.To those who have lost a mom, to mom's who have lost a child. To those who long to be a mom and for those who are mom's every day. The one's in the trenches. Wiping tears and butts and picking up the messes. Happy Mother's Day to you. You're awesome.

The Farmer's Wife
(and if not for the Farmer I wouldn't be a mom!)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Avocado Cucumber Relish Awesomeness

Well, here I go again. On a blogging spree.

I did a middle-of-the-night-diaper-change-slash-feeding tonight (at 11pm, which is really not the "middle of the night" for me - 6 am is more like "middle of the night" here on the farm, but whatever, you get the idea.) Princess is usually in bed and out cold from like 7-7 at the very least. Sometimes more like 8-8, but I digress. Lately she's been restless, easily woken. I think she's just teething. But she was screaming tonight, well after she'd been asleep. I rushed to her aid and she was soaked, so I changed her and decided to give her a small bottle to calm her. It seemed to work, she's back sleeping soundly again. But that's not my point.

I am awake, here...in this quiet house. Farmer is asleep, he's got a long day ahead of him. So I've been meaning to share this amazing recipe I use frequently on the farm. I'm not sure why I feel like I need to share it, but that's what bloggers do, after all, right? They post stuff about what they do. And Avocado-Cucumber Relish is what I do.


If I could eat it on every meal I would. But the farmer would get sick of that. Real quick.

It is pure awesomeness.

But my problem is I don't really have "recipes". I just throw a bunch of stuff together and mix it all up and taste test it until it's perfect. That makes sense, right? Then I never write down what I did so that I might never be able to replicate it ever again. Perfect sense.

So I take a little red onion, chopped to somewhere between a dice and mince. Throw in a little diced Roma tomato, a whole avocado and about a half a cucumber (both diced), a couple squeezes of lime juice, a liberal (not the political kind) sprinkle of salt and voila! There you have it: Avocado Cucumber Relish. Yum.

But for real.

About 1/2 small Red Onion (diced)
1 Roma Tomato (diced)
1/2 cucumber (diced)
1 avocado (diced)
Squeeze of Lime
Kosher Salt (to taste)

You mix this stuff up and add it to lots of stuff. Mainly Mexican cuisine, but honestly, you can just eat it by the spoonful. It's that good.

We had steak tacos the other night:
So yummy. And you're thinking - wow, fancy...steak tacos! Nope. I'm talking $5.99 cheap-o steaks from Target. Yep...TARGET! You coat those babies with a little Kosher salt, let them sit at room temp for a little bit before you pan sear them and you got yourself one cheap steak dinner. Sautee a little red onion, red bell pepper and garlic, pan sear those bad boys in a little olive oil and you have dinner faster than you ever thought possible. 

We don't believe in crock pots here on the farm...so I have to find creative ways to make dinner appear very quickly. Thanks to price matching my produce this meal cost us a whopping 8ish dollars. And that was 4 tacos for both the farmer and I each, plus I had a steak left over to make him steak quesadillas with tonight. Mind you we had Lay's potato chips as a side dish, but I made STEAK TACOS...let's not forget that.

I have also used my Avocado Cucumber Relish on:

Tacoish Salad (top) and Steak Quesadillas (bottom). A little bed of lettuce - or greens - relish and your seared steak on top. Perfect salad, good with left over steak served cold. Also, the aforementioned steak quesadillas. Monterrey Jack Cheese, flour tortilla, red bell pepper, red onion- melted together in a flavorful medley sure to please your palate. Topped off with some yummy relish as a garnish. Mmm Mmm.

I did also put this relish on some shrimp tacos the other day-which was equally as fantastic. It's really suitable for any type of taco, if we're being honest. Eat it with tortilla chips as guac, too. Or as an additional garnish for your nachos. Whatever, eat it with eggs for breakfast...or on a baguette...on potatoes? That could work, like baked potato bar...sub it for salsa. Yep. N - E - THING. It's so good. I promise you'll love it. And if you don't., it sure isn't my fault.

Ok, it's late. I'm getting sassy. But seriously. Try this out. And don't pay full price for your produce. Take your Aldi ad to your local Walmart and price match. Or go to Aldi, they have fantastic produce...but Walmart accepts all major credit cards. So there's that.

Ok, happy cooking. Good night, from the Farm.

-The Farmer's Wife

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Chocolate Frosting from a Couponer's Kitchen

Well I am officially off for the summer and after a long winter of working, it's a welcomed change here on the farm! Since we couldn't hit the zoo like I originally wanted to (mostly because we only have one car but also because even though it's May 1 it still feels like February around here!) Jack and I decided to bake. There's cleaning to be done, the house needs organizing...but when I realized he'd been sitting on my bed all morning with the laptop in his face I decided we needed to do an actual physical activity. The cleaning and organizing can wait.

With the farmer out truck hunting and princess down for her nap, it was the perfect time to do a project with my little man. We decided after surveying the supplies in the pantry to make cupcakes. And it dawned on me that my couponing has gotten the best of me. I love baking and it wasn't abnormal for me to have things like cocoa powder, evaporated milk, heavy cream and other baking/cooking necessities on hand at all times. But since I've started couponing, about a year ago now, I am much less likely to have certain things on hand. It made me chuckle because going through my pantry and fridge to find ingredients to make frosting I thought that most couponers would totally identify with me. But I was able to make a few minor substitutions for the ingredients in the recipe for frosting and I made one heck of an awesome chocolate frosting - couponer style!

All the recipes I found needed cocoa powder- but who buys that stuff just to have? Not this girl. But there was an awesome deal on Nestle Toll House chocolate chips at Target not that long ago - came out to like $1.05 per bag - STOCK UP PRICE!! So no cocoa powder at the farm, but plenty of chocolate chips to go around! That got me thinking, so I googled chocolate chip frosting and sure enough a recipe popped up. But it called for cream. Generally I would just sub milk in this situation but I am also currently out of milk - just waiting for the farmer to return so I can run to the store, actually. However, as an avid couponer I always have like 15 bottles of Coffee-Mate creamer on hand, because they're like always free...and when they're free how can you resist from buying an absurd amount? (*NOTE* I do give them to friends and family, I don't just hoard coffee creamer, FYI) But I have like 4 bottles in the fridge, one of which is "Sweet Cream" flavor...which sounds perfect for frosting, no? I'm sure French Vanilla would have worked great too.

So anyways...I gathered my couponed supplies and I made this awesome chocolate frosting:

1/2 c (1 stick) Salted Sweet Cream Butter
1/2 c Sweet Cream Coffee Mate creamer
2 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 c Sugar
1 c Milk Chocolate Chips

In a saucepan bring butter, cream and sugar to a boil. Pour over chocolate chips, add vanilla and beat until cool.

That was it. It was so easy and super yummy! And I almost ALWAYS have those things on hand. That recipe was enough to frost 12 cupcakes and an 8" round...with some left over.

And for those of you who got stuck at FREE Coffee Creamer...check out this or go here. I learned everything I know about couponing from a friend on Facebook, coupon groups and coupon blogs. It's really much, much easier than you think and has saved my family TONS of money! I mean I have not paid more than $5 per pack of diapers for princess - and $5 is high, I usually pay closer to $2-3 per pack. I also got some for FREE, I have a large stock pile of diapers and wipes and it has saved us TONS in comparison to what we spent when Jack was in diapers. Diapers were the reason I started couponing. Now I never pay for things like, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, body wash, razors, cereal, and coffee creamer. Ha, but seriously. I don't. I even taught a coupon class at church once, and it was a huge success, I think I might do it again. We'll see how ambitious I feel while I'm not working this summer.

Ok, so that turned into a whole separate subject. Anyways...here's to summer and lots more fun projects with my kiddos. AAaaaaannnndd here's to summer actually showing up. Gah!

From the cold and dreary farm,

The Farmer's Extreme Couponing Wife

Monday, April 28, 2014

This Girl.

So it's been a while. A long while.

I've been busy emailing, scheduling, ordering, coordinating, caffeinating, organizing, designing, proof-reading, printing and everything else that needs to be done in order to make our launch to the public go as smoothly as possible. And it's been awesome. I LOVE my job. I don't have to do this job, I GET to do this job. And every day I get to go to the office, or sit at the computer and work on God's work, I feel privileged. The farmer might think I've lost my mind, because if I ever do complain about my job (which NEVER happens, like, ever.) of course it's to him. But look, I never said I was perfect. I'm human, it happens. But for real, I have the best job ever.

So I've been busy. And the kitchen's been a mess. But now it's not - it's beautiful! It's seriously perfect. I'm blessed with an awesome farmer husband who can renovate a house like no other! I have this amazing, brand spankin' new kitchen. So there's that. Oh and there's this place called Parkside 23 that I've pretty much made my home away from home. Lunch is so peaceful when you can eat food you didn't have cook that isn't in the frozen pizza food group. I covet my lunch shifts that I have 10 extra minutes to enjoy some food.

Then there's that sweet face up there. The days of "spring" - if you can call it that - have flown by so quickly. Filled with just tons of stuff. There's been so much stuff that have filled my days that I cannot even believe that her birthday has snuck up on me. But in 19 short days that little peanut will be ONE! And I'm probably the worst mother ever because aside from the fact that I do not have a "Pinterest" worthy 1st birthday planned, I have not taken any of those "3 month", "6 month", "9 month" pictures that mom's post all over Facebook like the exact day their baby turns "6 months" old. I was going to do one on 11 months and post all about how I can't believe how in 1 month she'll be one year's old. And then the day got away from me and now it's practically her birthday and I have nothing to show for it. Parent fail.

So we're having her big bash at Chuck E Cheese because then there's no cake to bake, no food to prepare, no goody bags to buy, no cleaning to do. You just buy pizza and tokens and set the little rug rats free to run and scream all they want! It's gonna be awesome. But I did make her an amazing birthday invitation - that looks like the cover of "Elle" magazine. So I only took the fail train halfway to May 17. Now I just need to send them out so people actually know about the party.

This girl is so totally my daughter. She can eat her brother under the table. She loves trying new food - and almost always likes it. She lights up when her daddy comes in to the room. I mean she LOVES that man. But who can blame her? If we are both in the room and she gets to choose - she always picks her daddy. She's sassy, sweet and oh-so cute. She sleeps great, eats like a champ, and doesn't have an ounce of separation anxiety! She loves attention and loves being tickled. She can do "so-big" and "patty cake". Elle still crawls but wants so desperately to run, I can just tell the way she tries to stand up and take a step. I probably should have made her middle name "Trouble" but Elle McKenzie has a better ring to it.

So here's to taking in the last 19 days of having a baby and making the most, because she'll be a one year old all too soon. My little answered prayer, Ellie Bellie, Belly Booms. She's my girl, and I love her!

From the {cold, cold} Farm,
The Farmer's Wife