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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Blogger Book Club)

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up #konmari

This month, we did Blogger Book Club a little differently. Instead of reading the SAME book, we all read a different self-help book. Because of my transition back to a full-time job, I chose The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo (aka #konmari) with hopes that it would help me get organized before my new job began. And I’m happy to say that it worked.

I began reading the book a few weeks ago, and as soon as I read the chapter on clothing, I started in. At first, I counted the items I discarded, but after getting rid of more than 200 articles of clothing (all mine! And not including socks or accessories) I lost count. But it doesn’t matter, because my bedroom and closet are the visual proof of my “tidying-up” and they bring me more joy than ever before.

After tidying up my clothes and the boys’ clothes (3 garbage bags of hand-me-downs to Bart’s cousin!) I moved on to the books. Again, I was able to discard hundreds of items, and the boys helped me with the children’s books. Many of the kids’ books I owned were from my classroom and meant for kids much older than my own. I always thought it was good idea to save them in case the boys liked them when they were older. But now I realize that being able to easily locate favorite books brings the boys and I much more joy. (We donated the books we discarded to some of my teacher friends.)

Next comes “papers” – I’m still working on that. #konmari is a process, one that may take months. But as the momentum builds, so does the joy.

Marie Kondo’s positive attitude towards “tidying up” makes a huge difference in the process. By focusing on joy and thanksgiving, “tidying up” becomes something to look forward to. That’s important if you’re starting with a house as full of clutter as mine is. Kondo says, “I believe that tidying is a celebration.” I’m definitely celebrating the success I’ve had so far!

I will admit, however, that some of Kondo’s suggestions seem a little wacky.  For example, I don’t believe that my belongings or house will actually respond to my declarations of gratitude, but I do believe that my attitude may change because of them. I feel less guilt when I acknowledge an item’s purpose before discarding it, and thanking my house for providing me with shelter helps me keep things in perspective.

Kondo suggests “tidying-up” by category, starting with clothing because it’s the easiest and leaving mementos for last, until you’ve really honed your “tidying-up” skills.  One part of my clutter issue is toys, and the #konmari method doesn’t really address the issue. So I am waiting to tackle them. I want to work on my own clutter first, and model tidying-up for my boys before I ask them to help me tidy-up their toys.

If you are a messy mom like me, struggle to keep the house clean or keep up on basic chores, or just feel overwhelmed by stuff, this book may be just what you need. I’ve read other books about getting rid of excess, and this is the first that has really made a difference in my life. It has changed my house and changed my attitude – truly life-changing magic! (I do suggest you actually read the book, though. There are some great videos and explanations of #konmari, but I don’t think you will really “get it” unless you read the whole thing.)

I plan to do more blog posts about my #konmari progress, so stay tuned!

Now, be sure to check out the other Blogger Book Club book reviews. Remember, we all read different self-help books in June!

Cassie @ Primitive and Proper
Kirby @ KirbAppeal
Jessica @ Gourley Girl and Guy


And for July’s book: First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett. The author is Kirby’s neighbor, and I am SO EXCITED to read this!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Big News and Big Changes

For the past 5 years, I’ve been working part time, first as a Talented and Gifted teacher, then at The HomeShed, then for the Iowa Turkey Federation. But this week, I started a new full-time job as social media manager for the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

Working part time definitely had its perks, especially since my boys are young (4 and 6) and my husband is very busy with the farm. But there were a lot of factors that went in to my decision to “go back to work.” The biggest reason? This job is absolutely perfect for me.

I’ve developed a passion for agriculture over the past few years, and as a blogger, I am a huge social media nerd. My new job allows me to combine both passions and do what I love everyday.

I’m three days into my new job, and I can already tell that my new schedule will be a big adjustment for my family.

But I’m also really excited for this new season in life.


Any other working-outside-the-home mommas out there? Any tips for me?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Do you use RoundUp in your garden? (And a Garden Tour)


A few weeks ago. I shared my free, green weed barrier, and I mentioned that I used RoundUp in my garden.

One of my readers emailed, concerned about the safety of RoundUp . She said, “Please find any alternative to weed control besides using RoundUp .  You have young boys and, frankly, even your husband or you should not be spraying this deadly product.”

roundup garden
I am emailing her back personally, but I want to clear some things up here, too. But let me preface it by saying that I’m generally not scared of “chemicals.” And as a farmer, I actually have a high amount of a trust in the industry and the chemicals that are widely used by farmers.

Of course, I know that other people have a different level of comfort with “chemicals.” (I put chemicals in parentheses because everything contains chemicals…water is a chemical, oxygen is a chemical…but most people think of chemicals as something artificial and scary.) And that’s okay. We all have different things that worry us. One of my friends only wears closed-toed shoes in grass because she’s afraid of spiders and snakes. One of my friends won’t let her children near large dogs. We all have our own things.

Personally, RoundUp is not something I worry about. I use RoundUp (glyphosate) in my flower garden, around the sidewalk, and in the driveway.

There are a few reasons I feel this way (and have a low level of fear associated with other “chemicals” as well.)

Why I Feel Okay Using RoundUp in My Garden:

Is roundup poison?1) The dose makes the poison. Most “chemical” exposure happens at very low levels.  And, compared to other “chemicals,” glyphosate (RoundUp ) is only “slightly toxic.” (Caffeine, on the other hand, and copper sulfate, an organic compound used in organic production as a fungicide, are “very toxic.”) Click on the graphic for a more in depth explanation of toxicity & RoundUp .

2) Pesticides are fatal for pests, not humans. We are not the same as bugs. We are not the same as plants. Glyphosate targets a specific enzyme found in plants that does not exist in humans or animals. (The ratings used in the graphic are for toxicity in rats.)

3) “Chemicals” including glyphosate (RoundUp ) are subject to a LOT of research and strict standards for safety.

Here is a blog post from my friend Jennie, a registered dietician and farmer in Maryland, about the organic and synthethic pesticides she uses on her crops.

Ultimately, everyone will have a different comfort level with different risks and everyone can choose whether or not to use RoundUp in their gardens. If you’re not comfortable using it, then there are many other ways to get rid of weeds.

If you’re on the fence, I hope this blog post gives you a little more information and insight into why I feel totally comfortable using RoundUp (glyphosate.)





June Garden Tour

Now, let’s get to the fun stuff!

I decided to take some pictures of my flower gardens as they are right now. They’re not perfect, and there are weeds. But it’s fun to see the gardens change over time, so I plan to do semi-regular “tours” of our landscape for you to see!

June Garden Tour
Iowa farm house gardens

On the southwest corner of our house, we have a small retaining wall. In front of the wall you can see (from left to right) a red twigged dogwood, evergreen vinca, a pretty hosta and coral bells (I think these are the “Hollywood” variety.)

On top of the wall, three more hostas, hydrangeas, and a juniper.

red twigged dogwood, vinca, hosta, coral bells, hydrangeas, juniper

Another view of the upper section in front of the bay window. This part of the garden is slightly more formal than the rest. The back row is made up of hydrangeas, then there are some new (little) barberry bushes, daylilies, and catmint.

hydrangea, daylilies, catmint
Speaking of catmint, it’s one of my favorite perennials. Drought tolerant, easy to divide, and keeps the deer away! What more could you want?
catmint
This catmint is part of a small bed on the southwest corner of the yard.
Victorian farmhouse garden
Last year, I had a small container herb garden over here, and I think that fluffy thing is a volunteer herb.  Anyone know what it is?
2015-06-16 16.32.52-1
2015-06-16 16.29.49
2015-06-16 16.30.21

View of the house from the west side…

Boothbay blue house

The north side…some pretty hostas, a hydrangea, a ninebark bush and a red twigged dogwood, then more hostas.

2015-06-17 08.17.17

And the northwest corner:

Mini iris, two pulmonaria (there were supposed to be three, but one didn’t come back,) a couple of daylilies, and an arborvitae. And a vintage concrete turkey. Why not?

2015-06-16 16.35.09

I hope you enjoyed the garden tour.  If you’d like to chime in about RoundUp , please follow the rules: Use Nice Words.

Related Posts:
potted plants tips[3]

weed barrier[2]

Our Exterior Makeover

before and after porch and bay window

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Girl’s Night Out at West End Salvage

 

Why not combine good friends, great coffee, and some good old fashioned junk?

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You might remember that last March, a few Iowa bloggers met at the West End Architectural Salvage coffee shop and I shared a LOT of pictures from the shop that day.

Well, I’m part of a small group of ladies that has a monthly “Girl’s Night Out.” And when we were brainstorming ideas for our May GNO, I suggested West End Salvage.  So, instead of a GNO, it was a SAO (Sunday Afternoon Out) but West End Architectural Salvage (featured on the HGTV show of the same name) was a great place to catch up with friends and get a little upcycling inspiration.

Speaking of upcycling inspiration – check out this piano bar.

west end salvage piano barwest end salvage piano bar

Does it remind you of anything? I wonder where the fellas at West End Salvage got their inspiration for this project.  I’m pretty sure I mentioned my repurposed piano (below) to them when I was there in March 2014.

repurposed upright piano - On the Banks of Squaw Creek

They say imitation is the best form of flattery. But let’s face it…I’m way more likely to imitate them than vice versa.

And I’m pretty sure I could imitate this coffee table pretty easily, don’t you think?

barn wood coffee table at West End Salvage - On the Banks of Squaw Creek

But some of the other pieces…well, those would be worth buying in the store.

Check out these three pieces – metal frames with antique crates as drawers, lined up to make one long sideboard.  Yes, please.

West End Salvage - On the Banks of Squaw Creek

And this ceiling tin, made into mirror frames and architectural wall art? I’ll take some of that, too.

Ceiling Tin at West End Salvage - On the Banks of Squaw Creek

There is just so much to see, and I love all the texture. This photo shows off a pretty neutral color scheme, but the textures and patinas add so much interest.

West End Salvage - On the Banks of Squaw Creek

And of course I love the old signs. The “sweaters” one is cute…

West End Salvage - On the Banks of Squaw Creek

But this one seems super appropriate, given the bird flu situation.

Biosecurity Sign at West End Salvage - On the Banks of Squaw Creek

Before we left, we asked an employee if we could check out the “shop.” Since it was Sunday, the guys weren’t there. So we giggled like school girls while we looked around at some of their raw materials and tools.

West End Salvage Workshop - On the Banks of Squaw Creek

More giggles…pretty sure this was a joke. Menards has NOTHING like West End Salvage.

West End Salvage Workshop - On the Banks of Squaw Creek

And more giggles…

West End Salvage Workshop - On the Banks of Squaw Creek

 

If you’re a West End Salvage fan (or love to go picking!) check out more pictures of the shop here.

Friday, June 5, 2015

June is Turkey Lover’s Month

 

and turkey farmers in the Midwest could use some extra love right now.

turkey lover's month collage

 

The last few months have been stressful for all of us, but especially for those directly affected by Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (bird flu.)

I know that many of my readers don’t know a turkey farmer in real life. I try, through my blog, to put a “face” on turkey farming. And your support has meant so much to me – the comments on my facebook page have been so great. Everyone that has said they’re praying for us…you have no idea what that means to us.

But, we have lucked out so far. We don’t have bird flu on our farm right now. So just as I asked on facebook last week, please pray for those who haven’t been as lucky, whose farms have been infected by avian influenza. You may not know them, and their faces may not be familiar to you, but they are hurting and need our support.

Screenshot 2015-06-05 09.58.22

 

Iowa’s turkey farms are all family farms, and around 1/5 of those families have been directly impacted by the bird flu outbreak. The same is true for Minnesota, which raises more turkey than any other state.  Roughly 1/5 of their turkey farm families have also been affected, bringing the total to more than 120 turkey farmers in the two states. Some of the families live on century farms, and have been raising turkeys for generations. Some of them, like us, have young children and plan on raising turkeys for decades. All of them have been devastated by the outbreak.


Q & A about Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about bird flu and how it’s affecting farmers.  Here’s a quick run-down of the basics.

What happens when a farm gets bird flu?

All the birds on the farm are euthanized using USDA approved methods to prevent the disease from spreading and prevent the flock from suffering. On turkey farms, the birds are then composted inside the barns. Composting heats the bird carcasses enough to kill the virus.

Is there insurance for poultry farmers for this kind of thing?

No. There is no insurance that covers poultry disease losses. The government pays an “indemnity” for healthy birds that have to be euthanized, but that only covers 70-80% of the farmers costs for that flock.

Is there a vaccine for HPAI?

There is no vaccine that matches this strain of HPAI. And even if there were, there are several barriers to overcome before farmers could begin using it. (Here’s an article about the vaccine.)

What happens next?

We don’t know. The timeline for “repopulation” is unknown. Many farmers are facing 9 months or more without turkeys (and income.)

How is it being spread?

Again, we don’t know. We know that the outbreak started with wild waterfowl, who carry the disease but don’t show any symptoms.

Can you do anything to prevent it?

We are trying our hardest to increase biosecurity. Clean boots, clean vehicles…we try not to let any germs enter our buildings. But the virus just keeps spreading. Scientists and farmers are baffled.

Everyone in our county is testing their flock 3x a week, to try and catch an outbreak as soon as possible. Farmers are also sending their flocks to market early, in order to save them from the disease.

Why are only commercial farms being affected?

Backyard flocks are also at risk. In fact, about 1/10th of the outbreaks have been in backyard flocks. (More Bird Flu Myths)

Can humans get bird flu?

There have been no human infections from this strain of the virus. It’s possible that it could mutate, but even then, only people with close contact with infected birds would be at risk. Public health officials are closely monitoring employees/owners of infected farms, but so far, no one has contracted the virus.

Should you quit eating turkey?

Nope! Infected flocks to do not enter the food chain, so there is no food safety risk to consumers. We’d love for you to eat MORE turkey to show your support!


Speaking of eating turkey – here are a few of my favorite turkey recipes for summer.

lemon garlicGrilled Citrus Turkey Tenderloins (18)turkey burger lemon dill sauceGrilled tenderloin (2)

bacon turkey broccoli grilled cheeseSlow Cooker Bbq Turkey Sandwich (2)hawaiian turkey stir fry recipeturkey wild rice salad recipeThai turkey roll-ups

Turkey Tacos with Cilantro Lime SauceTurkey Salad Sandwiches

 

Do you have more questions about avian influenza? Or another favorite turkey recipe? Please share in the comments! And remember to join me in praying for the turkey industry and the farmers affected!