Corn Festival Fun

My husband Tony and I have been together 18 years as of this coming September. Over those years the love of my life has held a respectable day job and has been a working musician. He has been in variety of bands in a variety different genres. When we first started dating in the late 90s he was in a rockabilly band, but has been in rock, country and blues bands as well.

I think it is best to say that my husband is a musician through and through who has a pesky regular job that occupies his days. We have traveled all over Iowa, our home state, and many other midwestern states for gigs. There also many times where things do not work out with other bands and they need someone to fill in the guitarist slot for a show or two. Quite a few times this has happened and Tony will get a call asking if he can play.

That is what happened this last week. Tony got a call from a friend and onetime bandmate asking if he could fill in for two shows because their guitar player had a death in the family. Luckily his regular band was not already booked to play shows at those times so he was free to help out. It is good to help someone in need but it is even better when you get paid! With two days to learn this country bands set list my husband got to work.

10426658_772770716077120_3900609912621251311_nCedar Rapids is a city with a population of around 130,000 people and is about an hour away from our home. It was there that the Saint Judes Sweetcorn Festival was being held and Tony was to play a show. For those of you who do not know Iowa is an agricultural state-corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, etc. One of the best things (in my opinion) is the sweetcorn that is ready towards the end of summer.

I am not the only one who loves the corn 14022284_1177499242270930_6446184124476234210_n.pngbecause for 41 years St. Jude’s has been hosting a sweetcorn festival to raise funds for the catholic church and school. It is a pretty big deal and there is so much more than just eating corn…they have funnel cakes too! As you can see from this years flyer a whole day can be spent having fun for a good cause.

Tony, the two older boys and myself went to Cedar Rapids for the fun and the show. It was hot but not unbearable, and had partly cloudy skies which really helps with the heat-especially when you have a small tolerance for it.

While my husband set up and during most of the time he was playing the boys and I saw all that there was at the festival. We played bingo, ate ice cream, shopped, and of course ate some corn. The day was very pleasant. Later that night I got a message from a family member asking if I saw the news. No I don’t really watch tv at all. Turns out Malcolm, Ian and I was on the news for 2 seconds! Lol, it is like we are famous!


Just goes to show you that when you are hunting for funnel cake you may miss what is happening around you.



No More Clotheslines

With three boys, my husband and myself there is always laundry. Sometimes lots of laundry. Thanks to the modern conveniences of washers and dryers it is no longer a long and arduous task. That is until something fails.

We had purchased a new washer and dryer 8 years ago when the hand-me-down ones finally bit the dust. Nothing fancy or overly newage with a bunch of computerized dodads and gizmos. The set served us well up until May of this year. The timer button on the dryer slowly began to die. You could set it to 50 minutes and it would work. Then after a few days the timer had to be set to 43 in order to work. A week later it was 35 minutes. You see a trend forming don’t you? When it got to the point of being only able to set it for 20 minutes of run time I gave up on it.

It was time to get the clothes line out. The weather had become warm and sunny for the summer so it was no big deal. I have always enjoyed drying things out on the line. In fact when I was a kid I always thought there was something magical about running through the fabric as it was waving in the breeze. There were too many days with rain, or more laundry than we had capacity to hang, even after running extra lines from the swingset to the fence and back. After a month of line drying I decided to see what could be wrong with the dryer.

I knew it was not the heating element because heat was no issue. Maybe the connectors rattled loose over the years? Why not, with the number of times it had been run and some of those with shoes in it. So the slightly daunting task of tearing open the dryer commenced. They do not make them in a way that anybody can rip them open. After pulling the dryer from the wall and disconnecting the power I went at it with pliers, screwdrivers, etc. I managed to only mangle up the back in minor ways during the process.

Here is the biggest tip I can give-TAKE PICTURES. Take pictures of everything before you tear things apart and keep little bowls around for holding the screws, bolts and what not(trust me you don’t want to loose them).

13315749_10209116129720932_590566965008311174_n.jpgWith a bottle of alcohol and some swabs I disconnected and cleaned all the connectors and their receptacles. Once they were fully dry I reconnected them. In lieu of fully closing up the back for fear of having to get right back in there, The back panel cover was reattached only with a couple of the bolts. Plugged it back in and tried it out with my fingers and toes crossed….no improvement.

At that point with the disappointment I quit for the night.

The next day I decided to do some internet research. I was almost certain it had to be the timer but needed to make sure that that was the likely culprit. After hours on Google reading forums and such I figured that it had to be the timer. I just had to figure out what I needed and where I was possibly going to get it. Back down to the laundry room to disassemble the control panel again. With the dryer timer piece in hand I returned to the computer to see if I could possibly get this part.

Found the exact part needed and a few places I could get it from. Most were places that would ship it to you and happily one place in my town had it in stock. I drove down to Dey Parts with the timer in tow. There I was greeted by a very nice and knowledgeable man. I explained to him what had been happening with the drier and showed him what I needed. He agreed with me that it sounded like the timer went out. I hoped he was right because there was no returning the part after I installed it.

It took no time to put the part in and reassemble the housing on the dryer. With a huge amount of hope I set the timer on the dryer to 50 minutes and pushed the button…IT WORKED!!!!!! I apparently squealed with delight loud enough that my family misconstrued the sound as I did something to hurt myself and came running. They came barreling down the stairs to witness my happy dance.

I am sure some are wondering why did I go through so much instead of just getting a new dryer. Did you miss the part about 3 kids and a husband? Needless to say we don’t have money just lying about to replace appliances, let alone hire repairmen everytime something goes wonkey. I guess I am just a firm believer in trying to do for yourself as much as you can. I may not know how to do somethings but there is Google to give me tips. So what it boiled down to was rather than drop over $600 for a new dryer or spend a few hundred $ for a repairman to just look at it, I decided to spend $80 on a part and hope that it worked. This time my plan worked out and that may not always be the case, but I was lucky.


DIY Laundry Soap

I have been asked by some friends about the items I make for my family’s use. At first some of them think I’m a bit funny for doing it until I explain to them how with a little effort, every once in awhile, I save our family hundreds of dollars a year. After that they ask for the recipes so I thought I would also share here in my blog.

laundry soap

4 1/2 gallons of laundry soap for $1.08 is soooooo worth it. 


-1 bar of Fels Naptha
-2 cup of Borax
-2 cup of Super Washing Soda
-4 1/2 gallons of hot H20
*I use a big canning pot but just use the biggest pot you got


Grate the Fels Naptha into the pot and add hot water, heat on stove and stir until melted. Then add the borax and washing soda. If your pot wasn’t big enough for all of the water divide your soap mixture between empty containers then add remaining water needed. I recommend shaking your soap container before use just to make sure there is no ingredient separation.

The initial cost for the borax and washing soda is nominal with the number of batches it will make over time. Been doing this for a few years and it cleans really really good. At 1/2 cup per load this recipe makes enough to wash 144 loads of laundry. Even better is there are no harsh perfumes that would aggravate my son’s eczema. 

No More Petting Zoo

Why we stopped going to the petting zoo.

Being that my husband Tony was at work and I was at home with [at that point] two boys, ages 3 and 4, we needed to get out and do something. I called up Nana, the boy’s great-grandma, to see if she wanted to go with us. As is often true Nana was stir-crazy and game to do anything. It was a wonderful warm sunny summer day, the kind that is perfect for being outside. I decided to ask if they wanted to go see the animals at the local petting zoo. Nana a farm girl through and through enjoyed the petting zoo as well so away we went.

We had been to this particular petting zoo a couple of times and the boys always enjoyed feeding the donkey carrots and tossing ice cream cones of seed to the ducks and chickens. Nana loved the lazy old sow and my favorite had always been the goats.
This petting zoo is not huge but has a lot of varied animals. Kittens from the animal shelter, a cow, a couple llama, a pony, as well as the fore mentioned animals. When we arrive my boys were so excited they ran ahead of us and nearly trod on some chicks that had escaped through the chain-link fencing of the poultry area.

We had a routine that we went through each time. First and foremost we had to buy the bird seed cones and go to the poultry enclosure. The closure was of a decent size with a shallow cement pond in the center, a roosting house off to one side and a chain-link fence around it with a latching gate to enter and exit. After they had good hold of their bird feed I opened the gate and all of us went in. Being well accustomed to people and the ways of the zoo the birds all recognized what the little boys had in their grasp. The chickens, ducks and that friendly old turkey with a bad foot came upon them like a clucking quacking beady-eyed feathered flood.

Ian my three year old took it all in stride, never the least bit unsettled by the fowl around him. Then there was my poor four year old Malcolm. He started out with a beaming smile until he realized the birds were really insistent on getting the food. One particularly determined white duck hopped up and took a piece of the cone he was holding.

He, in an instant freaked out and in one spastic motion flipped the remained of the cone and seed straight up into the air. This boy was heavily surrounded by birds and now he was being pelted with the seed falling from above. The raining bird seed drew the attention of the flock that Ian was feeding and now they too swarmed near Malcolm. He was definitely off put by it but I figured probably not scarred for life.

When I opened the gate to leave the area Malcolm had one thing to say,
“I think they were really hungry…too…hungry”.

I did my best to brush the seed out of the boy’s hair and we went on to the step of our outing. The larger livestock was to the side of the poultry area. With their carrots the boys eagerly headed to the miniature horse and mule with Nana in tow. That visit was short lived because Ian saw some of the other children walking around holding cute little kittens and we just HAD TO go see them right away.

While the boys pet the kittens Nana walked over to see the sow. She was away only a moment when the boys hurriedly handed me the two fluff balls they were holding to chase after her. After I got the kittens back where they belonged the other three were already moving on to the next thing, the llamas. They were apparently not very interesting and we ambled on to the goat enclosure.

The goats had a nice sized area with things to climb on and it was fenced in with chain-link. Getting into this area was a bit like passing through a lock and dam system. First you enter a latched gate walk a few paces and there lies another latched gate which lets into the realm of the goats. Once within this enclosure you can feed and pet around 15 goats of varying ages and sizes. I for some unknown reason do like goats. They always have seemed to me that they have personalities.

It was after about 8 to 10 minutes that my grandmother had enough and left the enclosure to sit on the bench just outside under a tree. While telling my eldest something about a nanny goat he was petting, unbeknownst to me 3 year old decided to join his Nana. Ian was always been a good-sized boy taller and stronger that his peers, despite that he he has never been supremely fast. He managed the first gate fine on his own.

It was at this time that I caught sight of him out of my peripheral. He had opened the first gate and not closed it behind him. He was opening the second gate with 5 goats in tow as I ran and yelled for him to stop. Too late. By the time I reached him (mind you it was probably about 3.7 seconds) one goat fully escaped. I managed to block one smaller goat with my leg and grab another by it’s horns before they breached the threshold.

So I hollered at Nana to keep an eye on the boys while I wrestled the goats back through the second gate, no easy task let me tell you. By this point my hair was a bit awry and I was sweating, but I needed to find the escaped goat. I didn’t see any of the people who attended theses animals anywhers but I did catch a glimpse of the four legged jail-breaker climbing up a half wall and going behind the small barn.

I take after it hoping that it would not leave the petting zoo and go marauding about town. With very little grace but a lot of determination I clambered up the half wall and wound around the barn. There I found the impertinent goat eating some flowering weeds that managed to grow back there. Not sure how I was going to get him back where he belonged I tried grabbing hold of him so that I may be able to steer him the proper direction.

The stubborn goat was enjoying his ill-gotten freedom too much to have any of that and maneuvered away. I attempted four more feeble attempts to get the goat to go where I wanted. For a fleeting moment I was considering letting him have his freedom. I mean he must really want it otherwise why would he have left his home in the first place.

No, I couldn’t just let this happen. I got closer and secured my footing, leaned in and picked the thing up. He wasn’t that big but he sure weighed a lot. By the time I got my self and the lead weighted billy back down and out from behind the barn. I looked like I went through war. I know because my dear sweet Nana told me so as I grunted by her carrying the goat. With the last bit of energy I had I plopped the goat over the fence. That whole goat fiasco took about 2o-25 minutes.

Now, from out of nowhere appeared an employee and wanted to know what was going on. I was tempted to tell her that we were trying to steal livestock but realized they wouldn’t fit in the trunk so we brought them back.  I did the reasonable and sane thing and let them know one got out and that it was back in. They thanked me and once again disappeared.

I turned around and there sitting on the bench swinging their feet was Malcolm, Nana, and Ian eating ice cream. Oh what a wonderfully sweet image, almost picture postcard perfect. That was it. I was done. I had grassy stuff in my hair, goat hair clung to the sweat on my body and I had a distinctive barnyard smell to me. We were going home.

I love my children but when one of them asked me on the way home, “Can we go there again tomorrow?” I almost questioned it.

They say when you look back on things they are seen in a different light? Well that is true I can see the humor in that day now, but you know we didn’t go back for a looooong time.