Spring in Iowa


A post from Kelli–

As you know, I was raised in a farming family and then married into a farming family.  There are different kinds of farming too!  When I was growing up, the farmer that dad worked for milked cows, raised steers, and farmed lots of land.  They sold the milk cows in 2000 and after that, raised more steers and farmed more land.  When I started dating Jason, I quickly realized that I would be joining a very busy farm family as well.  Over the years, they’ve acquired more land and started milking more cows, so they now milk 240 cows three times a day, farm about 1000 acres (it’ll be a bit more next year), and raise about 760 steers.  Needless to say, there’s always something for Jason to do–And more-so in the spring!

Jason went to college to repair John Deere tractors, so between him and his brother, he often ends up spending lots of time in the spring getting equipment ready.  This year, they also had a tractor motor blow up so he’s working on getting that overhauled in addition to the normal upkeep and maintainence.  There’s also lots of manure to spread on the fields because it often rains more, which neccessitates more frequent cleaning of the cattle yards.  And as always, it always seems like they start some kind of a building or upgrade project–This year they’re putting a new feedermill in so that they can feed cattle at our farm more effectively.

While this all seems like a lot, it’s pretty normal practice for other farmers in the area.  I was talking to mom this morning on my way home from work and she had told me that Dad had gotten up yesterday at 5 and fed cattle and then hopped in the tractor to spread anhydrous the rest of the day and didn’t get home until 11–AT NIGHT!  They’re up against a few days of rain, so it’s really important that they are able to get certain things done to fit with the weather, otherwise it can turn into a super busy, horrible for everyone late planting season.

It seems like this winter has been dragging a bit, but slowly, it has been warming up a bit more.  This morning on my way to work, I ended up following this tractor part of the way with another truck with two anhydrous tanks behind me.

Tractor (300x400)Believe it or not, getting stuck behind a tractor is a pretty common excuse for being a bit late in Iowa, especially close to where I live as the roads are two lane and quite curvy so passing them is not always a possibility.

With Jason working all the time and the unpredictability of farming, it’s kind of a toss up as to when he’ll be in for the night and can vary from 8 to 11 (after getting up and out the door by 6 in the morning).  Rather than asking him what time he might be coming in, I usually just ask if he is thinking early or late.  After about 4 days of a late response, I asked if it was time to quit asking and just assume late.  Sadly he said yes…which is quite a bummer, especially working nights (7 pm to 7 am–so he comes in after I leave for work).

And so begins the wonderfulness of spring in Iowa!


Charity Quilts…A New Plan.


I wrote a blog post not long ago about fabric that had been sent to me.  In the post I wrote that the box had lots of partial projects.  Lots were left over from projects the owner had started.  Often there were 9 blocks and some scraps.  There were a few red, white and blue blocks.  There was what looked like the start of a Missouri Star Disappearing Pinwheel project.  Lots of things the owner didn’t love anymore or didn’t want to mess with.

Following that, I got notes from several people.  They explained their projects and what they were doing in the charity quilt world.  Here’s one note I got from Ronda in Sioux City.
Hi Jo,

   I actually met you and your daughter, Kelli, in Storm Lake several years ago at the Bonnie Hunter retreat.  I am a Bonnie fan as well, and have made many of her quilts.  Right now I am working on Rectangle Wrangle from her Scraps and Shirttails II book.  I have been reading your blog ever since we met in Storm Lake.  I am envious of your thrift finds.  When I went to find men’s plaid shirts for my quilt, the best deal I could get was $4 each.

   I just donated two large lap quilts to a fundraiser to send disadvantage kids to a day summer camp where they can learn how to get along with all other races and interact socially with kids not like themselves.  Both of my quilts together brought in over $1000.00 for the camp.  I was so excited!  Both quilts were made from my stash ~ super scrappy ~ and I quilted them myself, so not a lot of expense went into making them.

   I also make quilts that I donate to our guild to give to what we call Sunshine Quilts.  They are given to our local fire department, police department, and sheriff.  Then they are given to children who suffer any type of trauma, whether it is fire, where they lose everything, or being taken from the home because of abusive parents, or any other reasons.  I would take any and all of whatever you want to get rid of and turn it into something useful.”

Well that sounds like she is doing AWESOME work…that got me thinking.

As a child, my mom always told me “Use your head and save your feet”.  I’ve went on to say that my own kids over and over.  I thought I had the concept mastered after 50 years of living but looking at all the goodies that are sent my way, I can see that I’m not.  So many great goodies are sent my way but there is so much and I can’t use it all.  I end up sorting it out and finding homes for it all.  I have enjoyed doing that but more and more I am finding that it would be so much easier if the donaters sent the goodies right to the person who could use the goods.

For example quite some time ago a blog reader sent me this….

Recognize it…It is Blue Ridge Beauty from Bonnie Hunter.  Find it in the first Leaders and Enders book.  WOW.  It’s over half finished.  It has sat with me.  I had good intentions but I’m busy with my own things and have found that my time at the sewing machine, I want for myself and my own piecing whether that be for gifts or for myself.  I’m happy to give away time at the quilt machine, but not at my domestic machine…so why did I hang on to this donated project..I had good intentions.  This NEEDS to move on to someone who can finish it.  I ended up sending it to Ronda in Sioux City.  This quilt could likely bring lots of money at the next auction to help kids to go to camp.

Kelli and I are starting a new program via the blog.  We are asking people to send in information about their quilting charity cause- or their group’s quilting cause.  For example if someone makes quilts for project Linus and they are always looking for children’s fabric or if someone does QOV and are looking for fabric or if someone would like to receive kits and will make them up then donate them to a benefit auction for kids camp or something like that.   We are then going to list them on our charity page.  Then we’ll encourage blog readers to send things directly to the people who can benefit from their donation.

I am so over loaded with things.  I am finding my house to be a “warehouse” and I am more of a distributor than I am a quilter.  I appreciate it.  I’ve loved doing it but I think so much better can come of the donations if they go to the direct people who can use them.  I love that people want to be helpful…I love being part of a greater cause but somehow I have to find a way to step back and be able to take a breath.

I’ve gotten to the point that I feel guilty if I do my own stuff….I’m sure many of you who do charity quilting can relate.

If you have a group or cause that is need of donations PLEASE fill out the form below.  On the form you can request anything pre-cuts, small scraps, kits, unfinished projects, orphan blocks, thread, craft supplies….ANYTHING you think a quilter/crafter might have that would be useful to your cause.  For example one lady said that she is in need of lace as she makes burial sets for infants who didn’t make it full term.  All the burial clothes are sewn and lace is needed in the making of them.  People will also need to fill out a little information about your group.

This information will be gathered and I will post it on a page here on the blog.  It will list the name of the group, what they do and what they are looking for.  People who want to de-stash or clean out their sewing room, can find a worthy cause to donate to, contact them via email and the donations can be sent directly to the group or person that needs them.

Our hope is that if you are a Lutheran group that makes charity quilts and you are looking for flat sheets for quilt backings, we can post that information and a blog reader might see that and donate to your cause.  We are hoping that there might be a group that supports a home that helps people with addictions and maybe there is a quilter who had a family member that suffered with addiction and that quilter might send things to help their cause.

I know so many of you have things you no longer love…had a loved one pass and have no idea what to do with their quilty things…or just want to down size.  I know how good it feels when I clean the closets…I’m sure the feeling is the same for you.  I know I always feel better about that when I know the no longer wanted items go somewhere where I know they will used.

Link for Charity Workers Who Need Supplies:  HERE

I had this idea and Kelli was so good to put the document together for this.  I couldn’t be happier about it.

While she was working on that, I asked her to also set up a form for my volunteer binders.  I have been totally unorganized in keeping track of the names and addresses.  It’s hard.  Some people want only certain sizes…some can (or can’t) work on a quilt from a smoker…there are lots of things I need to work around.  If you have been a volunteer binder in the past or if you want to be one now, please fill out this document.  HERE  This will allow me to keep track of it all one form and I won’t have to dig through old email to find the information I need.

While we were at, we decided to make a form for anyone willing to do the machine quilting of charity quilts.  You can find that HERE.

Binders and charity groups who receive goodies/quilts will be asked to send a picture of a completed project to me at rogjok@iowatelecom.net.  I would really like to continue to blog about the good works you all are doing.  Donators appreciate seeing the good that their donation has helped to make.

Thanks so much to everyone who has worked on charity quilts, donated fabrics, volunteered to bind, sent money for postage, donated thread and batting or cheered us on from afar.  Many hands do make light work…and I think together we can make many more projects.



The Great Bacon Experiment!


A post from Kelli–

One thing that’s nice about working 12 hour shifts is that I usually then have one day to get caught up on sleep and a few more days to do what I want (unless I pick up more nursing shifts at the nursing home or have something going on.)  With Jason farming, I can never quite know when to expect him in.  He might come in at 10 wanting lunch or to just grab a handful or two of chips.  He might stop in to try and nap for 20 minutes at 4 and want a quick supper, but the next day he might leave at 6 in the morning and then come home at 11 at night.

On the days that I don’t work, it’s pretty common that he’ll stop in atleast once so I try to have something in mind to make if he wants something to eat.  The other thing about Jason is that he’s a self-proclaimed picky eater, so usually it’s easy to just make whatever he requests, or something that an 8 year old would like.

Today, he came in a bit after 10 and seemed kind of bummed.  I told him I was feeling a bit better (I’ve had a nasty cold for about 6 days) and he told me that one of the tractors blew up (not literally, but likely blew the motor) so he was going to town to get parts and asked if I’d make BLT’s for when he came home.  I knew I had bacon in the freezer and so that’s what I started making.

A while back on facebook, I saw a post of some kind saying that if you rinsed bacon with cold water before frying it that it didn’t shrink as much.  As with most things, I took this with a grain of salt,  but always wanted to try it–WELL TODAY WAS THE DAY!

When I make BLT’s I usually chop the bacon in half and go from there cause it ends up being about the same size as bread.  I threw the first half in the skillet and fried them up.  When I flipped them, they got all shrivelly and I got annoyed.  I rinsed the second half in cold water for maybe 20 seconds or so and threw them in the pan after the first batch was done.  When I went to flip them, I was very pleasantly surprised!  They didn’t shrivel up and stayed pretty much the same size!

Bacon Experiment (400x300)


The rinsed bacon is on the left and the non-rinsed bacon is on the right.  The only thing that I wasn’t too excited about was that the rinsed bacon didn’t seem to crisp up as easily, but I’m not to picky about my bacon as long as it’s cooked.

So the verdict?  If you like crispy bacon, maybe not, but I’ll be doing it again!  Facebook wins in this case…not so much in others of course.  Like a video I saw posted that people were going to do a head transplant.  Obviously use a bit of discretion, but I suppose I’ll try another facebook experiment in the future!

Ear Candling!


A post from Kelli–Possibly gross picture below!

I’ve always had issues with my ears.  As a little kid, I would regularly get ear infections during a time when tubes weren’t the thing to do.  Mom says that between Kayla and I, one of us always seemed to have ear infection!  A bit TMI here, but my ear wax is weird too in the fact that it gets really hard and clumps together and you can’t usually get it out with a q-tip (even though you aren’t supposed to use them on your ears).  When I was little, I would go to the doctor where they would use a syringe to spray water into my ear canal in an attempt to clean them out.  Most kids woudl freak out because of this, but I would hop up on the table and lay perfectly still cause I knew it would feel better when I was done.  As an adult, I still do this regularly…on my own of course!  As I got a bit older and could sit still, mom would clean them out with some special tools and I still have her do this too.

It seems like since I’ve graduated, I’ve had an almost cold.  What’s an almost cold?  Feeling like you almost have a cold or if you woke up the next day feeling terrible, you wouldn’t be surprised.  I think that a lack of sleep, different schedules, working different shifts, and being exposed to a ton of new germs has just done me in.    Last week, I had a full week of work (From Tuesday to Wednesday, I worked 66 hours) and when I finally had some time off on Friday, I knew that the next few days were definitely going to be tough!  This wasn’t going to be an almost cold!

I woke up Saturday with a horrible sore throat, ended up finding someone to cover part of one of my shifts, and ran to Urgent Care.  I had them swab me for strep (which was negative) and ended up with Augmentin for a sinus infection that I’d been wondering if I had for about 2 weeks, but hadn’t had time to go in.  I ended up going back into work to finish my shift.  I told Jason he was on his own for supper (he ended up bringing home Chinese) and went to bed.  When I woke up Sunday, it wasn’t too much better….and neither was Monday.  I finally called in on Tuesday and decided to take a day to rest…which I definitely did.  It seems that the cold part of things has worked it’s way down into my throat/lungs, so I’m now coughing up tons of junk and went through a hole box of Kleenexes yesterday.  After some Vick’s advice from Connie, I woke up feeling a bit better today.

When I was in the bathroom looking for another box of Kleenexes, I found a set of ear candling sticks, which I’ve been wanting to try for some time.  It involves strips of muslin soaked in beeswax and rolled into a cylander.  You then light one end on fire, and place the other end (very important to use the other end ;)) in your ear.  The negative pressure is supposed to pull impurities from your ear canal.  With my cold, I’ve had lots of popping and crackling in my ears too, so I thought they might help!

Candles1 (300x400)


Note to others–This is best done with another person, but I had no one at the time and really wanted to do them!  I took a picture of myself doing it and about died when I saw it, so I found one online for you to enjoy!

Candling (275x183)

Since I was doing this myself, I was using my phone to check to see how far down it had burned and was hoping I didn’t burn myself, so I wasn’t able to look quite this relaxed and beautiful–But it was definitely close!  Because I was checking it regularly and it was my first time, I wasn’t sure it was going to work quite right.

After I was done, I was really excited to cut them open to see what they pulled out–

Candles2 (300x400)And that’s what I found!  As you can see, I got lots out.  I have two more sets at home, so I’ll probably try doing it again in the next few days when Jason is in and can tell me when to take them out.  I’m also dying for him to let me do it to him.  For how dirty he gets working, there has got to be some horribleness in those ears of his!

And the verdict?  I didn’t really have a problem with my hearing, but it does seem that my ears feel “clearer?”  I don’t quite know how to explain it, but they feel better.

I’m hoping to Vicks myself up again really good tonight and keep working on kicking this cold in the rear!