Hay Day

hay wagon, hay bales
Kimball and Sander resting up before the unloading begins!

We recently had our first hay day of the year.  It involves hitching up a trailer to the truck, going over to the next town and stacking the truck and trailer with hay.  Like, 130 bales or as much as we can fit.  It was almost like an emergency because we were down to 6 bales.  We were close to having the horses graze in our front yards.  Sander would have loved it, because he’s not fond of mowing.  Anyway, this was the first time we ever had use of 2 trucks and trailers.  It was awesome!  David, Sheldon, and I took one and Chris, Megan, and my Dad took the other.  David and Sheldon filled one truck and trailer up while I counted bales (well, I tried….I lost track a few times and had to start over).  Then the other truck came and we took off to unload into our barn.  Having two trucks and trailers meant we can make half the trips we normally do to get the 1,000 bales that we need.  We have a borrowed hay elevator we use to get the bales into the loft.  It was the perfect temperature, too.  Usually our timing is impeccable and it’s in the 80’s and muggy.

hay wagon
Megan stacked the trailer up to the rafters.
hay, stacked hay
Chris looks a long way down from Megan’s view at the top of the stacked trailer
Fynn running through a field of wheat
This is what Fynn does while the trailer is loaded.

We’ve learned a lot about stacking hay these past few years.  Like, what to wear and what not to wear.  Megan knows what to wear and I know what not to.  She always wears jeans and I usually wear yoga pants….no more, though.  Hay sticks to yoga pants like lint to a lint roller. Like flies to a flystrip.  Like white on rice….you get the picture.  I once went into a gas station to get a pop in between loads…..with so much hay stuck to my pants, I was embarrassed.  But my thirst won out over my pride.  As far as shirts go, that’s a tough one.  It’s such hot and sweaty work, it’s tempting to wear a tank.  But the hay is so scratchy, and it has uncanny ability to get into the craziest places.  As long as I live, I’ll never forget the discomfort of hay stuck in my bra.  It doesn’t matter what shirt you wear, hay will get underneath it.  Maybe a turtleneck would work if it wasn’t so hot!  Don’t even get me started on hay stuck in our boots….

unloading hay bales
Kimball and Sander unstacking for Grandpa to send it up the elevator
Milla and Papa enjoying a break at the end of Hay Day

Megan and I don’t mind hay days, probably because we didn’t grow up having to do it (like David did).  It’s a family affair….many hands make light (but scratchy!) work.  One year Megan made these amazing brownies, so now it’s a must..  On Pinterest, they’re called ‘Slutty’ brownies (gasp!), but we named them ‘What the Hay?’ brownies.  They’re super delicious but calorie-laden, but we figure, why not?  After all that work, we’ve earned them.  We’d be happy to share them with you if you help us on our next hay day.  We’ll probably have at least two more of them!

Milla and Fynn enjoying their What the Hay brownies


what the hay brownies

















So we will see you at the barn, right?



An Old Fashioned Fourth of July…And a Few Recipes!

Hey guys!  Happy Monday!  I know, I know…that sounds entirely too peppy for a Monday following a holiday that pretty much spans a week.  Well, if you live in Michigan, it usually does because, well, the weather is nice and it’s America’s birthday, and lots of employers shut down for the week, and people go up north or camping, or to the beach.  It’s just what we do.  At least I hope all of you got to do at least some of those fun things.  Mardi and I and our families celebrated the Fourth of July as usual at my parents’ annual party, followed by a trip up north.

The party was huge this year!  My mom and aunt counted over 200 people!  We had some new faces this year, some I didn’t even know.  But I am so glad they felt comfortable enough to come, and I hope they all felt welcome.  The weather was absolutely perfect…80ish and sunny.  The kids were in and out of the water all day right until dark.  One of my favorite things about this day is seeing the kids, many who only meet up once a year at this party, instantly act like old friends from the minute they arrive.  And I didn’t see kids on electronics literally the whole entire day!  And they lived to tell about it!

We ate around 4, and let me tell you, I think it was better than Thanksgiving dinner.  Since it is a potluck, the choices are amazing!  I always love the deep-fried shrimp that the guys make, and my mom’s smoked sausage cooked in crushed pineapple, and Danya’s crab salad.  Then there are Mrs. Vogel’s homemade cinnamon rolls that are always a party staple.  Can you tell I’m really into health food?  One of my new favorites this year was a corn salad with chili cheese fritos.  I’m not even sure who brought it, but it was so yummy.  Luckily I found a recipe on Pinterest.  Here is one that looks similar.  You should check it out if you haven’t had it before!  I think I will definitely make this in the future.

I actually made the little fruit tarts with the star cut-outs that I mentioned I might make in the previous post.  I added blueberry pie filling as well, and then sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on the top.  They were super easy and tasty too.  I also made the Six Sisters’ Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars.  They are sooooo good, and the recipe yields a lot of servings.  Mardi made scotcheroos, sugar cookie bars, and a really good snack mix.









We ended up dragging the kids out of the water for a sack race, a three-legged race, and tug of war.  They were having so much fun swimming that they didn’t seem to mind the simplified games this year, which was nice.  Most of the kids are getting older now, too, so we don’t have as many participants. Sniff, sniff.  Especially the boys…they have graduated to letting off their own fireworks.  Always a little scary, but there is no coming between boys and bottle rockets.  Sometimes you just gotta let boys be boys, I’m learning.  But sometimes I just can’t really watch too close, either.  Thankfully, they all have wonderful guardian angels (Thank you Jesus!), and no one was hurt.

Mardi and our friend Kathi decorated the pontoon boat this year to participate in the annual Wolf Lake boat parade.  They did a fantastic job getting it all decked out, but when it was time to leave the dock, the darn boat wouldn’t start.  The battery was dead.  Sigh.  Oh well…the parade went on without us, but it’s always fun to watch anyway!  Better luck next year!















The evening ended with an awesome display of fireworks that my dad and a friend went in on together.  They even let some of them off from an old pontoon boat off shore!  It was just an amazing way to end a perfect day.  And I’m so thankful to my mom and dad for opening their home to everyone and getting to celebrate such a special holiday with so many wonderful people every year.















How did you spend your Fourth of July this year?



Wishing You a Fabulous Fourth!

source: Pinterest

Independence Day is almost upon us!  It’s one of our favorite holidays…..and we love holidays.  There are so many things that come to mind when I think of the Fourth, and they’re all f-words (now hold on a minute, it’s NOT what you’re thinking):  food, family, friends, fireworks, fellowship, founding fathers, and did I say food?  Since we were kids, our parents have hosted a huge Fourth of July party.  They live on Wolf Lake, so the party includes swimming, boating, eating, and fireworks….lots of fireworks.  Our Dad has been a pyromaniac since his youth, so he is in his element on the Fourth.

As for our food, the guys deep-fry shrimp, chicken, onion rings, and French fries.  That is where all the guys hang out, by the deep fryers so they can taste-test.  Guests bring a dish to pass, so we always have a wide array of delicious food.  I’m hungry just thinking about the different potato and pasta dishes and salads, baked beans, and a long table full of desserts (my favorite part).  After we eat, it’s time for games for the kids.  The annual sack race is hysterical.  The other games vary, like water balloons, ring toss, limbo, etc.  Later, everyone changes into warmer clothes and loads up on bug spray in preparation for the fireworks show.  It’s spectacular!  I can actually enjoy it now….once when I was a kid, I hid the fireworks because I was worried that our house would burn down.  Let’s just say that my Dad was not amused.  Ah, memories.

Other than sack races, and various relay races, there are lots of other fun games that take almost no prep.  This year we are going to add a three-legged race (hopefully the adults will get in on this one), and tug-of-war again.  We also might add a bottle-ring toss since my mom already has the bottles in the crate.  Super easy, but the kids just love it.  We always put out the corn-hole games, too, which kids of all ages enjoy.  And lastly, I am going to put some sidewalk chalk out for this fun idea:
















Source:  Heart of Deborah

I also love making food for the party and pour over recipes, trying to decide what to make.  Always it’s a dessert, but sometimes I make snacks too.  Last year I made Sweet & Salty Cashew Chex Mix.  I found the recipe on Pinterest from Julie’s Eats & Treats.   Oh, it’s so delicious and addicting!  Sander likes it too, so he’s been known to sneak the leftovers upstairs to his room.  For many years I made scotcheroos, which never last long.  Megan makes the absolute best salted double chocolate cookies.  One year she made the cutest cherry pies on a stick.  As you can see, we take our desserts seriously.

And it is so fun seeing family (especially the ones that don’t live next door…although we always love seeing each other, too), and friends, old and new.  We usually average over 100 people every year!  It’s just the best time ever, and we are so thankful that we get to be a part of it

Wherever you are, whatever you do, may you have a fabulous Fourth of July!  We truly are blessed to live in this great country.  Thankfully, we reap the rewards of all that have sacrificed and gone before us.  I just saw a phrase on an Independence Day T-shirt:  “Party Like it’s 1776!”  Yes, let’s do that, but use electricity, drive our cars, put on sunscreen, not wear corsets, use paper plates……


What are your favorite Fourth of July traditions?

Fun Fourth of July Food Picks

Fourth of July is almost here!  And I have to say, it is coming too soon.  I still have to figure out what dish I am going to bring to my parents’ annual Fourth of July picnic.  This year, I am determined to decide what I am going to make and buy the ingredients at least a whole day before the picnic.  Just call me a think-aheader, I know.  Seriously, I always wait until the last minute and it drives me crazy.

So to help me out of this dilemma, I took to Pinterest, of course, to gather some ideas.  I noticed that everything I was pinning was a dessert and red, white, and blue.  Probably because I typed in Fourth of July potluck…duh!  So here are a few patriotic food choices that stood out as easy, cute, and yummy.

These cookies are so pretty!  And I love me a good sugar cookie.  Although, the more I think about it, I’m probably too lazy to make the cool swirly frosting.  How about you make them and let me eat one?   Source:  Sugar Spun Run

These little fruit skewers are so cute…especially all lined up like the American flag.  And, my kids might actually eat these, along with all of the potato chips and brownies they are sure to consume!  Source:  Domino

Fruit pizzas are so delicious!  And this one is really pretty and patriotic, too!  And if you use a premade sugar cookie mix, it wouldn’t even be very time consuming to make. Source:  Crafted Sparrow

Aren’t these little cherry tarts the cutest!  They look pretty simple, too, but also look like you went to a ton of trouble.  Plus, I would score major brownie points with my dad, since he loves cherry pie!  Source:  Frankly Entertaining

Who doesn’t love chocolate covered pretzels?  This would even be fun to have the kids help make.  Source:  The 36th Avenue

Now, if I can only decide which one.  And then maybe I should figure out a non-red-white-and-blue dish as well, since it is okay to bring food that doesn’t match the color scheme!

So, do you have a favorite dish you like to take to potlucks and picnics?  Let me know what your tried and true favorite is!


Suppertime Favorite

Last night I made one of my family’s favorite chicken dishes for supper, and I thought I would share it with you since I know I am always on the lookout for something new, delicious, and easy!  This recipe comes from The Pinning Mama, so you should head on over there to check it out…like now, before you waste all day prepping a meal that won’t be half as good as this one is!  It literally takes less than five minutes to put together and is done cooking in about 45.  Of course, I bought pre-sliced peppers because I’m lazy like that, but even when I don’t buy them cut up, it’s super quick.  My family likes it with tortilla shells, but she shows it served with rice, which sounds really good, too.

Easy Fajita Chicken Bake Recipe


Give it a try and let me know what you think!