What I’m Watching–Manor House


A post from Kelli–

Lately, I’ve been in a sewing streak again.  I recently decided to work on prioritizing things that make me happy, so it’s no surprise that I ended up back at the sewing machine.

A while ago, mom and I each bought a pair of noise cancelling headphones.  This makes it considerably easier to listen to a show or book while we sew.  mom often uses them at the quilting machine while she is longarming and I use mine more for piecing when I’m at my machine.  They also come in handy when mowing lawn–but Jason has needed to remind me a few times that just because I can’t hear myself singing along to the songs when mowing, I sometimes get loud enough that he can hear me across the yard and over the sound of the mower–OOPS!

I’ve really been trying to find a new show rather than the good old stand-by shows I regularly watch–House Hunters, Flip or Flop, Love it or List it, Grey’s Anatomy, etc.  I decided to expand my horizons over to my Amazon Prime account and was delighted to find Manor House, an Iowa Public Television show!

The premise of the show is that they take a modern day family and other individuals or volunteers as they are called and pretty much transport them back to the very early 1900′s and teach and show them how people would have lived at that time.  One of the most interesting parts is that each character gets their own rule book and has to abide by the rules.  Some things weren’t a surprise to me–like showering weekly or working long hours–but some things were new and interesting–like who can look at who, much less talk to who.

The Manor family–The Oliff-Coopers– consists of the husband and wife along with the wife’s sister, the couples 10 year  old son, and another son away at college.  It’s interesting to see the differences between rights of women–both married and unmarried– compared to today.

Manor House

The servants however were the most interesting to me.  I liked getting to know each of them and their little quirks.  It was also interesting to see the heirarchy of the servants.  Previous to watching the show, I new that the Butler and Head Housemaid were likely in control, but didn’t realize the difference in roles and their status among the servants.

Manor House 2


I would say however that the most interesting thing was how the young 10 year old child of the manor was raised.  It perplexes me that the servants weren’t good enough to even speak to or be seen by the lowest servants, but it was just fine for their child to spend the day with the servants being watched or played with.  I wonder if this had any influence on the “fall” of the manor type system.

Throughout the show, they also do things such as host parties and bazaars to raise money for hospitals and charities.  It’s interesting to see how much work and preparation went into the event from the staff and their considerations compared to now days when someone throws a party and has the event professionally planned and catered.

If you are interested in more information about the show, here’s a link to their website–http://www.pbs.org/manorhouse/theproject/making.html.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Chopping with Jason


A post from Kelli–

A few years ago, Jason and his brother bought a new chopper for the farm.  I always joked with Jason that it seemed as though the chopper they bought was broke more often that it worked, so when he had pulled it out and was working on it this spring, I told him he should just get a new one.  I was quite surprised when he told me that he had pulled it out to work on it so that he could get a new one.  I just kind of smiled and nodded until he told me that the new one they were looking at had a buddy seat.  Then I got excited–Cause I just so happen to be Jason’s buddy!  He quickly told me that the technical name for it is an instructional seat.  I told him I didn’t have a problem being the instructor.  He giggled!

The previous chopper was self propelled as is this one.  This chopper however requires that another tractor and chopper box drive beside the chopper to be filled.

Chopping3 (300x400)The chopper has an arm that swings out to the side and the other tractor just drives up along side the chopper and the chopped hay goes in the chopper box.

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For the buddy seat rider or instructor, it can get a bit boring, but it was nice to spend some time with Jason as chopping usually starts early, ends late, and if the chopper comes into the yard in the middle of the day, one better hope it needs gas because broken choppers are not something fun!

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The other thing that is pretty neat about the chopper is that it has a video feed on the end of the chute that lets the driver of the chopper see how full the chopper box is and if the chopped hay is evenly distributed in the chopper box.

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I only ended up riding for a bit because they just had a little bit left to do, but it was fun anyways.  My favorite part was this lovely picture!  Jason really isn’t much of a picture taking person and he desperately needs a haircut and to trim his beard, but this is the Jason that I love!

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The Day that Castalia’s Population Doubles!


A post from Kelli–

As I’ve said before, I live in the middle of nowhere.  Technically I’m closer to Castalia, but my address is Ossian.  It takes about 10 minutes to get to either, but I claim Castalia.  Castalia is the town we lived closer to before we moved to the farm and it’s the town that Jason claimed growing up.  It’s the town where my church is, where Grandma Lois lives and it’s where one of my favorite dive bars is.  It may not be the town for everyone, but I sure love it!

Every summer, Castalia hosts Castalia Tractor Days.  Up until recently, it really was just one day, but it sounded odd being called Castalia Tractor Day.  I think that I especially hold it dear because it was one of the first times I went with Jason somewhere and met his extended family.  The main attraction of the event is the Tractor Days parade.  For the parade, area farmers and tractor collectors get their best stuff shined up and drive through town, throwing candy and handing out treats–And my favorite–string cheese!

Jason’s grandpa passed away a few years ago, but when Jason was little, he has said that his Grandpa would start working a few days before the parade to try and get “things” ready for the grandkids to drive–whether it be a motorcycle, a tractor, or some kind of find that he came upon.

Here is Jason’s cousin Kayden driving one of Grandpa Ray’s finds–

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I brought Puppycat with this year too.  It was a pretty hot day, so I brought her some water too.  For it being her first year, she did pretty good and only got loose once.

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My favorite part though is the pride that the community takes in their farming heritage.

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They end up having all kids of entries in the parade!

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Here are two brother’s promoting their family trucking business.

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Here’s another that I thought was neat!Tractor Days 5 (300x400)My favorite though, was this one–

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If you look really close, you’ll see a little dog riding with this driver.  Isn’t that cute?!?!  After the parade, we usually head to Grandma Lois’s and have a little lunch.  If Jason is able to make it (he wasn’t this year) we usually end up going down to get milk shakes.  It’s a perfect way to top of a wonderful little day, celebrating one of my favorite little towns!


Kelli Tries Succulents–AGAIN!


A post from Kelli–


So it’s no secreat that I have a black thumb.  Nothing about my thumb is green.  I have however managed to keep a poinsettia alive for almost 3 years….but I think my Grandma Kramer may have a bit of a hand in that one.  Last summer, mom called me after a visit with Connie and told me that Connie had left something for me.  I was super excited cause Connie always seems to know what I like–and this time was the same!  She had taken an old flour sifter and put a few succulents in it.  I took it home determined that I was going to keep these alive.  I watered them regularly and put them by a window to get lots of light.  As much as I tried, they didn’t last.  I was super sad!

All summer, I’ve been meaning to stop at a greenhouse to grab a few new ones, but nothing has seemed to work out.  Turns out, last week I had an insurance meeting at work and then a telemetry class to go to.  I ran through Walmart to grab a few things and I happened to see Grandma Lois in getting her hair permed.  I stopped by and chatted with her for a bit.  It turns out, she needed some groceries and a few things at the greenhouse in Decorah, but wasn’t sure she would be able to get into the greenhouse (she has bad knees and has a hard time with stairs or walking very long distances).  I told her that I didn’t have anything to do for the rest of the day, so I’d love to accompany her for a while and help her out.

As soon as her hair was done, we stopped my car off and I jumped in with her.  Once we got to the Greenhouse, I helped her in (no steps!!!  Wahoo!!!) and a wonderful guy working there helped us find all of the things that she was looking for.  On our way out, I saw a few pots with succulents in them.  I asked if they had individual plants and I was happy to find out that they did!  I picked out a few and was getting ready to check out.  I realized that I had no idea about what to do for soil and they kindly offered to mix some up for me, telling me that succulents do best with part sand and part dirt.  He also said that the most common reason for killing succulents is overwatering.  He recommended a spray bottle to spray them with periodically.

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On my way home, I grabbed a few coffee filters at my Mother in Law’s (she drinks coffee all day long–literally) because I knew she’s likely have a few I could have.  I got home and set to work getting my little beauties planted.

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Before I knew it, I had them all planted and ready to go!

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I’m hoping that with the right dirt and a better idea of proper watering, that I’ll be successful in growing succulents this time.  If anyone has any advice to share, please do–God knows I’ll need all the advice I can get.