Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's the best state fair in our state!

Every year, the hub and I try to take a trip to the state fair.

I grew up going to the state fair. All three of us girls were involved in 4-H and it seemed one of us always had something going to the State Fair. Some years, that would be our family vacation. We would take a weekend, stay in a hotel (and order delivery pizza!), go to the local amusement park one day and head to the state fair the next.

I may be a little biased, but I think we have one of the best State Fairs in the country. Granted, it's the only State Fair I've ever been to, but it's still great.

I mean, where else can you see a life-size cow sculpted completely out of butter?

Or a massive bull that weighs more than a small-town football team?We have our traditional buildings we have to stop at and look around -- the 4-H building, the Agricultural building (where I buy yummy fudge that usually doesn't last the day), the Commercial building, the animal barns (though those may not be on the list this year as the kiddo has decided he doesn't like large animals right now). At least two or three stops throughout the day are in air-conditioned buildings at it's generally hot as hades during the fair.

One of the favorites is the implement display outside the Commercial building. Last year kiddo had a blast "driving" all the tractors, see? It was a complete travesty filled with lots of protest and crying when we had to drag him away.
And then there's the food.

Oh the glorious, glorious fair food. There's the requisite stop at the giant tenderloin stand (you have not lived until you've had a giant tenderloin, battered and fried and smothered with ketchup, mustard, pickles and onion placed on a ridiculously small bun), the giant turkey drumstick stand, the giant bucket-o-cookies stand (are you sensing a theme here?), the fresh-squeezed lemonade stand and the dutch letters stand. If it's not fried, huge or on a stick, it's not real fair food. We always end up eating an obscene amount of food at the fair, but we're also walking everywhere, so it's basically a wash, right? Right.

This year it's still up in the air as to whether we'll go. I want to. I really really want to, but I'll also be 32ish weeks pregnant during the state fair this year and walking around during the August heat and humidity while massively pregnant doesn't sound all that appealing. The kiddo is two, which means despite the fact he's the best kid ever, he still acts like a two-year-old and can go running off at a moment's notice.

And the hub, while he enjoys the fair, isn't quite as into it as I am. His family only went once or twice while he was growing up, and my MIL likes to tell the story of how the hub got lost one of those times. And that was the end of their fair-going during his childhood.

So we'll have to think about it. In the meantime, I'll still daydream about giant turkey legs and butter cows.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Every kitchen should have one of these

A local cookbook. I have a few that I really like - one from the hub's hometown church and one from a small town near my hometown. These are chock full of time-tested recipes and handy hints. Don't get me wrong, I still go to my trustworthy BH&G and Betty Crocker cookbooks when I need to know how to cook fish or a simple pie crust recipe (though, I really should have that one memorized by now), but I love those small-town cookbooks for interesting recipes. Where else can you find a dish called "Hanky Panky"?

This is the one from the hub's hometown church:It was a wedding shower present from my MIL. It has served me well the past five years.

Today, I decided to make banana bread because I had some brown bananas we never got around to eating and needed to thin out my stash of woefully brown bananas from the freezer.

Woefully brown. Way beyond my personal taste for eating. The two really brown ones in the front were the two I pulled from the freezer. I actually prefer using brown bananas that have been frozen and then thawed for banana bread. I don't know what it is, but it just seems to work better.

The recipe (the bottom one):
Can you see the splotches on the page? Yeah, I've made this recipe a few times.

Best-Ever Banana Bread
1 3/4 c flour
1 1/2 c sugar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed (I usually use three for that extra banana flavor)
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 c plus 1T buttermilk (this is what makes the recipe really yummy)
1t vanilla
1 c chopped nuts (optional, I never put them in)

In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, soda and salt.

In another large bowl mix eggs, bananas, vegetable oil, buttermilk and vanilla:
Add flour mix:
Stir until just combined (be careful not to over mix - this can make the bread tough):Pour into greased 9x5x3 loaf pan:
I usually make two pans at a time because it doesn't last long in our house. I went a little nutty (get it, nutty?) with the one and sprinkled some chopped pecans on the top. It's something new I tried.

Bake at 325 for 1 hr 20 min:
My oven runs a bit hot, so I only put them in for about 1 hr 10 mins, and I could have even cut that back - the edges got a bit darker than I like. But there was a THS on E! about Britney that I was in the middle of watching. I mean, what does a girl have if not her celebrity gossip?
Yum! I think the one with the pecans turned out wonderfully. Sometime I'll have to try a brown sugar/cinnamon/nut crumble topping on one.

Now, they're just sitting in my kitchen taunting me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

We are family

As I've mentioned earlier, I'm the youngest of three girls. I have two older sisters, L and K. L is seven years older than me (well, 6 years and 363 days if you want to get technical, my birthday is two days before hers, which wasn't always ideal growing up, but makes it really easy to remember now). K is approximately 4 years older than me.

Here we are at my wedding (L on the left, K on the right and me in the middle as the gorgeous bride):
I'm having a thing for going back and posting wedding photos, huh? This happens to be one I can find fairly easily where we all look presentable. We've changed a bit during the last five years (L has longer hair and has lost some weight, I'm currently pregnant, K looks pretty much the same, only thinner, too) but not enough that you can't tell who we are.

We don't really look related. L and K are shorter than me by about 6". L has dark brown hair and blue eyes, K has blondish hair (when she gets highlights) and brown eyes and I have boring brown hair and eyes. Certain features are similar on all three, but when you put us together you kind of wonder which one was the milkman's kid and which was the postman's.

Personality-wise, we're all three different, too. L is more into science, which is good as she's a nurse (she was always the one to go help when dad needed to pull a calf or help the vet). K is the personable, social, studious one. I'm the independent, creative, "weird" one. I'd say K and I are more alike than either of us are with L, but even we have our differences.

Growing up, it seemed like L and K liked to gang up and either pick on me or leave me out of the fun stuff. I can hardly blame them now, I mean, who wants their annoying baby sister constantly following them around? I got back at them, K especially, by raiding closets and being generally snoopy and a PITA. By the time I was 16 or so, and they'd each been out of the house for a few years, we started getting a long much better and now we're all close. As close as we can be living a few hours apart from each other, anyway.

Also as I mentioned earlier, the farm where I grew up has been in our family since the 1920s. My paternal great-grandpa originally bought it, then my grandpa took it over a few years after he married my grandma and then dad and his brothers took it over in the '60s.

Here's my dad's family:
Aren't they a happy bunch? My dad is the youngest, right in the middle of the photo. I can guarantee you that my grandma made the majority of the clothes everyone wore. My paternal grandparents have a very interesting story behind their courtship that I'll have to share sometime.

Just for fun, here's one from when dad was younger:
And here's a cute photo of my mom when she was a baby:
My mom is the oldest of four - she has two younger brothers and one younger sister. Unlike my dad, she did not grow up on a farm, but is still from a small town.

I love old photos. It's so much fun to look back and see what your parents looked like when they were young, back before you gave them gray hair and wrinkles from staying out until 2 am without calling first to tell them your friends' car broke down and you were just trying to help them jump start it before you realized it was the alternator or belt fan or something that can't be fixed with jumper cables (yes, I really did that once - I wasn't always the most responsible in high school).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This old house

I don't know if this means I have to give up my farm girl card, but we didn't have a sprawling old farmhouse on our farm. We had a lovely modern brick and cedar siding ranch that my dad designed and had built when I was about 1.
Well, I guess we did have an old farmhouse, the same one my dad grew up in, but I don't remember living in it. We moved into the new house when I was 1 1/2 or so. The old farmhouse wasn't torn down until I was 10, though, so I do have great memories of exploring and playing in it, even when we weren't supposed to (and finding dad's old stash of contraband Playboys from the '60s and '70s. That's an eye opener for a 10-year-old!)

Our new house was great, though. It had a very open floor plan and a long hallway that ran the length of the house. The area through the dining room/kitchen/utility room was linoleum and great for sliding on in socks. We'd get a running start on the carpet by the bedrooms and see how far we could get into the kitchen area.

We also had a full basement with a pool table, fireplace and toy/play room (with sweet Muppet Show wallpaper
and a ladder going to my sister's room). Unfortunately, when the house was built, proper drainage wasn't installed and we would get water in the basement nearly every year after a good storm. The bonus of that was we had to tear up the ugly carpet leaving the cement floor which made for a great at-home roller rink.

Now, if I had my druthers, we'd have a sprawling old farmhouse with a porch. When my parents got married and moved on the farm, my paternal grandparents moved to another acreage east of town. They had a great old farm house -- two stories with a porch and a bathroom with an old clawfoot tub and a big attic. My aunt and uncle currently live in that house. In our perfect world, we'd buy that house and move there to take over the farm (which may prove difficult as where I grew up and where my parents still live is the main farm where all the feed lots and buildings and important farming necessities are.)

The hub and I have a lot of big dreams, but they very rarely seem to come to fruition. Maybe we should work on that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Because all my clamoring fans are asking for more

And by clamoring fans, I mean my sister who is currently the only one reading this thing.

Now, for a little bit of info about the hub.

This is the hub:
Believe me when I say that's about the most flattering photo I have of him. He has a tendency to do this goofy smile thing that makes his eyes all squinty giving him the appearance of a drugged-out stoner in almost every other photo we have. I'm quite confident the hub has never had a toke in his entire life.

Doesn't he have gorgeous hair, too? It's this thick, lovely, curly auburn hair and it's completely wasted on a boy. He used to shave his head completely bald in college because he would get too hot during football and track practice. It was still shaved when I met him, but I thankfully convinced him to grow it out. Now our son has the same gorgeous red hair. So completely unfair.

We'll celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary this fall.

We met at a bar eight years ago when I was still in college, and he called me three days later (amazingly, we both remembered each other although some parts of that night are a bit hazy). We talked on the phone for almost three hours that night, and I knew he was the boy I was going to marry.

Don't get me wrong, our marriage is far from perfect. We have issues with assuming things and not always communicating properly, but I can't imagine life with anyone else.

One of the things that most attracted me (besides his 6'4" frame, which is important when you're 5'10" like me) was the fact we had such similar backgrounds. He also grew up on a farm, close to extended family and he's Lutheran. Even the same flavor of Lutheran as my family - the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

This is the view where he grew up:
His parents live on a small farm that's been in their family for more than a century. It's also out in BFE on a gravel road and 10 minutes from the nearest small town. I love going to visit the ILs because it's so peaceful and quiet out there. My family's farm is on a highway, so there's quite a bit of traffic that goes by.

The hub still likes to play farmer about twice a year and help his dad out in the fields in the spring and fall.

The ILs farm is very quaint with lots of neat buildings:
And pretty flowers:
The one thing they don't have is an old outhouse. I guess my family wins for that (no, we don't still use it, unless you want a raccoon or other wild creatures watching you do your bidness):
Whoops, got off on a bit of a tangent, there.

The hub is currently a software engineer for a large avionics communications company. He likes the fact he gets to build code that does cool stuff on big planes. He doesn't like the fact he sits in a little cubicle staring at [two, rather large] computer screens all day.

In our perfect world we would eventually take over our families' farms, though that dream is somewhat fading with each passing day. We'd settle for 80 acres or so out in the country where the hub can have his toys (and by toys I mean tractor and a big diesel truck), our kids can run around and explore outside and we can [theoretically] have a nice big garden and the idyllic country life.

We'll see if that ever happens.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Howdy there!

I've never been much of a trendsetter. I didn't get hooked on Grey's Anatomy until it's third season. I didn't even really start carrying a purse until after I graduated college. So it's only fitting I jump on the blogging bandwagon now that everyone and their grandma (and their grandma's cat) has one.

This is me:

Okay, that's me approximately 27 years ago, back when I was much cuter than I am now. I guess I'm still cute (at least that's what my husband tells me) but I definitely cannot rock the Wonder Woman underoos now like I did back then. And don't you love the pink big wheel? Man, me and that thing had some great trips around the farm when I was younger. You haven't lived until you've zoomed down the cement decline on the corn dryer pit.

This is where I grew up:

It's a large-scale beef cattle and grain operation run by my dad and his two brothers. The farm where I grew up has been in our family since 1927 or thereabouts. It was a great place to grow up.

This is where I live now:

It's a 92-year-old house in a smallish city in the Midwest. We love our house despite it's unfortunate butterscotch color. It's got a lot of character, really high ceilings and lovely wood floors. It also has a teenier than tiny full bath and old windows, so it's generally freezing in the winter and hotter than heck in the summer. It works for now, though, although we know it's not our forever home.

I'm the youngest of three girls.

I'm married to a wonderful man who also grew up on a farm.

We have one son, who is the spitting image of his daddy, and one surprise child on the way.

Hmmm... what else do you want to know about me? I can touch my tongue to my nose and once swallowed a [small] goldfish on a dare when I was very drunk back in college.

Okay, that's probably more than you really wanted to know. Forget that last part.

We have one dog, Ripley, who sheds entirely too much.

I think that's enough for now. If I share everything in my first post, then what is there to keep any adoring readers coming back for more?

Hopefully I'll get the hang of this blogging thing. I mean, if my sister can do it, I certainly can!