Friday, August 31, 2012

Ode to the Crockpot

Hey there ladies!

Who out there loves being domestic??  Bueller?  Bueller?  Ferris Buelllller?  Any takers?

I would absolutely LOVE to be domestic (bahahaha!) except for the fact that I wish daily that laundry was a-sexual like a sponge (so it would do itself) and that the nearby woodland creatures would come inside and make my house spotless (how did Snow White, Cinderella, and all the other Disney princesses pull that one off?!).

Maybe a better question would be--How do women these days actually have time to be domestic?  How in the world are you supposed to keep up with the house, the laundry, the dishes, the laundry, the bills, the cooking, your kids (don't actually have any of these yet, I'm expecting the laundry load to double), your husband, oh, and the laundry?  Not to mention your full time job, part time grad school attendance, and hellacious daily commute?

I will tell you!  The secrete to modern day domestication is...drum roll please...THE CROCKPOT.  Borderline one of the wedding gifts I've used the most.  Found out this week that you can make mashed potatoes in the crockpot.  Life=changed.  I also Pinned (but haven't tried yet) a recipe for french toast in the crockpot.  I've chucked frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot along with a can of beer, some BBQ sauce, and some seasonings, and ended up with a legit meal eight hours later.  One of my all-time favorite meals is a crockpot roast with potatoes and carrots.  I wish I could meet the individual who decided it'd be a good idea to combine a ceramic bowl, heating element, and glass lid together to form this masterpiece and give them a GIANT hug!!

Thanks to this person, I may have a sink full of dishes that need washed and a heaping pile of clothes that need folded, but I'll always have a delicious, ridiculously handsome man-pleasing meal ready at the end of the day.        

The End!

Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Show a Cow

So you want to show a cow, eh??

Welp, seeing how I've been to a grand total of oh, not that many cattle shows, this may or may not be a relatively concise lesson!  Ready?  Here we go:

1)  Wash 'em.  A lot.  Cause they poop.  A lot.  Gotta have a clean cow to start with. 

Squeaky clean!  For about 5 minutes...until someone poops again.  It's never ending.

2) Line 'em all up like this!  You don't really have to, it  just looks cool.  Good morning girls!

3) Pretend you're in beauty school.  I'm serious.  This part consists of clipping, spraying, blow-drying, tail teasing.  Then you clip, spray, blow, and tease.  After you're done doing that, it's important to clip a little more, blow, spray, and tease that tail again.  Then, when you're done, you need to clip some more...(are you sensing a trend?  Ok, good).

Basically, the idea is to get each animal to embody certain desirable characteristics.  For example, you would want a heifer (young female cow, hasn't had babies yet) to look feminine and dainty, yet able to produce an able-bodied calf.  Say the heifer has a blemish you are wanting to hide, say     This whole process is called fitting, 

The cow stands in a temporary chute like this one above, so the guys don't get stepped on while they're making her look like a moooovie star (I'm sorry!).

Here's Ryan, demonstrating a little blow-drying technique on this cute lil chunky way prego heifer.  Get 'er done kiddo!

Here he is again, fluffing up her leg hair to enhance the appearance of a clean, straight leg. 

Such intensity!! 

Ok, now we're walking up to the show ring.  I wish I could've snapped a photo of what I'm about to describe, but I was occupied by importantly (haha) carrying towels, hair spray, brushes, etc.  Anyway, the hilarious part:  when someone stops to poop while walking up to the show ring (the animal, not the boys! ha.) this whole wagon train comes to a screeching halt so the deed can take place without getting poo all over the clean, clipped, purty cow.  Then, the LUCKIEST (i.e. whoever happens to be standing behind when this happens) member of the wagon train gets to wipe the poo off of the cow backside so the procession to the show ring can start back up again.  Once you've seen it done a couple of times, it's not quite as amusing, but there's is just something about watching a grown man wiping poop off a cow's butt! 

Once in the show ring, it's up to the exhibitor to display the animal to it's full potential while making sure the judge sees it's best side!  All while avoiding running into other cows/people, grimacing every time you hear the 'splat splat splat' of you-know-what hitting the ground, and hoping like heck your cow behaves. 

Easier said than done, you win some you lose some, but don't worry, there will always be cow poop!

The end.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


T.G.I.T.  Wait, what?

That's right: Thanks Goodness It's Thursday.   Aka almost Friday.  It's about time this week was over.  Here's today in a nutshell:

1) Oversleep
2) No time to make coffee (see #1 above, and feel hell freezing over)
3) Forget your lunch as you're running out of the house (see #1 above)
4) Forget your parking pass as you're running out of the house (see #1...ok, you get the picture)
5) Thank the good Lord that you actually decided to blow dry your hair after showering last night, because there was absolutely no time to pretend to do anything with it this morning.
6) Use up all the spare change in your car (including that invaluable Aldi's cart quarter) to feed the parking meeter in an attempt to avoid getting a parking ticket.
7) Get two parking tickets because of #'s 1 and 4 above.
8) Have a Snicker's bar for lunch (ok, that really isn't that bad) because you've a)forgotten your lunch at home, and b) don't want to move your car again for fear of getting another parking ticket. 
9) Come home to find your fur child has dug up your basil plants

Such a turd-nugget

10) Have a healthy sized margarita with you husband, and call it a day.

The end!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Gone Fishin'

A couple of weeks ago, that devilishly handsome man I married went to Kentucky for Angus Junior Nationals in Louisville.  Don't say it like I do "Louey-ville" you'll get made fun of.  Gotta say it like this: "Lullvull."  Got it?  Ok, good.

Anyway, he was in "Lullvull" at Angus Jr. National's and I was home alone with my fearless companion, the fur child.

Yep, he's fearless alright.  Ha.

We wanted to go fishing.  And by "we" I mean "I."  So we loaded up the pick-up and drove down to the pond.  Could definitely have walked, but didn't want get covered in ticks.  (I feel the same way about ticks as I do fleas, barf!)

So, yeah, back to fishing.  I LOVE fishing!  Except for the taking off the hook part.  And the putting on the worm part.  And the cleaning the fish part. (Luckily I married a man who is skilled and proficient in all these areas, it's a win-win).  Now, you may be wondering how I plan to take a fish off of said hook when/if I actually catch anything.  Not to worry!  I brought some light gloves.  And by light gloves, I basically mean heavy winter mittens.  Fish are kind of gross.  Especially when they flop!   

Anyway,  there we where, me and the fur-child, taking in the great outdoors.  All of the sudden.....

 TA-DA!!  He's such a monster.  Ha.
 I had to run all the way back to the truck to grab my fishing glove, but I got that little heifer off the hook!

The End.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fleas, flies, flashlight, freakout

Say it five times fast!  Fleas, flies, flashlight, freakout!!

This is just a teeny, tiny gimpse of the ridiculousness that happens on a daily basis around here.  Fleas, flies, flashlight, freakout!!

It was a dark and stormy night...
Ha.  Just kidding.  "Stormy" would imply that it was raining, which it's not.  Sorry farmers! 

Anyway, it was a mostly normal, regular, non-exciting Sunday night.  Devilishly handsome husband wasn't home yet and I had just picked up Tucker, the fur child, from boarding at our local vet's office after our weekend mini-vacay at the State Fair.

The fur child

I noticed on the drive home that fur child was, really itchy.  Like, scratching fur all over the truck, in my purse, up my nose, everywhere kinda itchy.

So I'm driving home, realizing there is clearly something awry with the fur child, and also realizing that the extra-large slurpie I chugged from that interstate gas station is really moving quickly.  Aka good thing I was almost back to the homestead, or else we'd be stopping along the roadside to relieve the too small bladder situation.

Luckily, we where pretty close to home.  I pulled into our driveway, let Tucker-dog out of the truck, and gave him a quick once-over to see what the problem was........

And on his cute little white speckled tummy, I saw this thing.  This tiny, dark brown, insect-like, hopping little menace.

I was a vet-tech in my past life (aka two years ago), and I recognized that little hiefer instantaneously.  The F-word.  That's what it was.  A fffff.  A ffll.  A FLEA!!  And then I saw another, then another, then another.

Then I barfed.
Flea bath!
Not really.  But I wanted too.  Fortunately, the slurpie I just chugged was talking to my bladder loud enough that I only had one thing on my mind.  Now where did I put my keys at? I had just turned off the pick-up, seriously where in the heck could they have gone in the five-minute flea freak out I'd just had?!  They had to be in the truck somewhere...

Normal people have working dome lights in their vehicles.  I've already posted a little bit about the jenkiness of hubby's old beater pick-up...the idea of a functioning dome light is definitely laughable.  Especially when it's dark out and your dog has fleas.  And you have to pee reallllly bad.

But no worries!  IPhone flashlight app to the rescue!!  For about 30 seconds until my phone died due to over-abuse at the state fair.  So there I was: flea infested dog, freaking out, no flashlight, frightfully full bladder, and a dead fone.  I mean phone.  Somehow, an ancient instinct kicked in.  An ancient instinct that allowed our ancestors to fanagle their way into their locked homesteads with no light, surrounded by pests, and an intense need to urinate...which they probably just did outside...which totally makes this all irrelevant...never mind.

Basically, it's important to always know where your hide-a-key resides.  That was make or break in this situation.  By some miracle, I 1) remembered where hubby hid the little bugger, 2) found something tall enough to stand on to reach it, and 3) retrieved said hide-a-key and made it into the house just in the nick of time!     

After certain needs where met, flea infested dog was taken care of, and dead phones where being recharged, I headed to the kitchen to make lunches for Monday.  I'd only been there a few seconds before I noticed the second set of pests that day.  Buzzing around, being annoying, house flies.  It was game over.  Girlfriend was done messin' around.  Time for fly swatter, ninja-karate-fly-butt-kicking time!

And that's when hubby walked in the door.  Just in time for ninja-karate-fly-butt-kicking.  Oh yeah, and my keys where right int he center console of the pick-up...right where I left 'em...whatever. 


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Missouri State Fair

Fried food.  
Livestock shows.
Beer at unusual times of the day.
Fried food.
Live music while eating fried food.
And last, but certainly not least...Agriculture expositions of every kind!

Yep, it's Missouri State Fair time again!  This showcase of Missouri's agricultural industry has been around for 110 years!  That devilishly handsome man I married and his family make the annual pilgrimage here every year to see how their livestock holds up against competitors around the state, and to have a great time!  It's been a favorite family vacation for years.  In fact, the first time I met the aforementioned devilishly handsome man was at the fair three years ago after spending waaaay too much time in the wine tasting tent...Missouri wines, look 'em up!    

Anyway, I didn't think we 'clicked' at the time, but he still reminds me about the first time he laid eyes on me that evening under the neon lights of the midway...SO romantic!  Ha!  Ever the sentimental guy, he asked me the very best question ever last year at the fair in a much more quaint park in a quieter part of the grounds.  I said 'yes' and now here we are!         

His family camps in the same spot every year, conveniently located right outside this tunnel that leads into the fairgrounds.  This was the very first day of the fair, before all the craziness starts, the calm before the storm.   

This is the hog barn, it's smelly and pigs make really loud noises one of hubby's favorite places.  Ha.

One of the MANY places where fried food and beer are available at odd hours of the day.

Ahhh!!  Here's another one!  They're around every corner...luckily they weren't open at 7am as I was walking into the grounds.  
Who doesn't need a trailer?
Automatic waterers...potentially one of my favorite inventions ever
Some of the many vendors that set up their goods on the fairgrounds. 

 Header for a combine

Cattle working facilities.  A certain man I know could look at these alllllll day...not kidding.
Tractors of all shapes and sizes and prices and colors and uses....

And all the implements that go with 'em!  The big green thing in the background is a soybean header.  You use it to harvest soybeans (which I talked about here).  It actually goes on a combine, not a tractor.  I like to keep ya on your toes!

There were TONS of campers for sale.  Some where tiny, some where pretty comfy, one cost $90,000 and was nicer than my house will ever be. 

The calm before the storm.  I took all of these photos on the opening day of the fair, before anyone was really up and around yet.  Stay tuned for some before and after pics!

**Keep calm, it's almost Friday**

Monday, August 13, 2012

A case of the (hermit) crabs

Hi!  Vacay is over and we're back to the real world.  I'm working on a healthy-sized post about our recent experiences at the Missouri State Fair (aka vacay), but until that exciting piece of literature is done, feast your eyes on our office mascot.  They're a couple of crabs.  Hermit crabs.  They were generously donated by a co-worker's 7-year old to my office-mate.

Crab-zilla and Truman.  I have no idea which one is which.
 They're a weird source of daily entertainment.  Once Liz (my office-mate) figured out what their creepiness needed to thrive, they came out of their shells a little.  Haha!  Shells! 

Crab-zilla (or Truman??) making a break for the edge!

In training to do office work
"That's right...grab the writing utensil leeetle kvab."  
Your regularly scheduled posts will resume tomorrow.  Until then...don't judge me!     

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Riding in Tractors With Boys

The devilishly handsome man I married and I both work full time jobs.  His is on a working cattle farm (production agriculture has absolutely NO idea what a 40 hour work week go thank a farmer next time you see one!), and mine is a good 40+ mile commute both ways.  Needless to say, we don't get to spend a whole lot of time at home together.  Crockpot meals are my best friend.  Cook it all day so I don't have to, baby!   

Anyhow, to remedy this time-spending issue, we've been spending time together at his work place doing evening chores, etc.  A lot of his time is spent in the tractor brush hogging, mowing hay, moving hay bales, feeding cows, the list goes on and on.   

One fun (using this term loosely here) thing we did just the other day was pack silage into the farm's silage pit (looks like a long concrete bunk).  To answer your burning question, silage is what's made when crops (usually corn, sometimes wheat) are cut from the field, chopped up into little pieces, and packed tightly into a silo, bin, pit (in our case), or sometimes a looooooong tube of plastic sheeting (think trash bag-like, only thicker).  The guys drive a couple of tractors back and forth over the top of the heaping, ginormous, unsettled, way tall pit to pack down the silage to facilitate the fermentation process and also to fit silage as much as possible into the pit.  I think the silage pit smells awesome!  Know why??  The smell comes from the fermentation that the plant vegetation is undergoing in the pit.  Know what else is made by fermentation?!  Beer!!!  Hence why I love the smell of the silage pit.  The end.  Haha.

Anyway, here's a glimpse of our adventure in packing silage from the other day:

First, the dump truck rolls up with a load of chopped up corn...

And dumps the whole thing out.

Add caption

See the concrete wall to the right in the above picture?  That's the wall of the silage pit.  It's pretty stinkin' tall.  The guys had already been at it for a good chunk of the day, there's already a good amount of silage in the pit at this point.  Next, a tractor scoops up the silage that was just dumped out of the dump truck and moves it toward the back of the pit.  This would be the preferable/safe/non-scary job to having to balance on top of the super heaping full pit, no having a mini heart attack when your wheels are cut all the way to the left and yet the tilt of the silage in the pit/gravity are pulling you and your tractor to the right (toward the edge of said super tall silage pit!). 

Scooping up silage.
The guys chose to run two tractors to smash down the silage pit.  I snapped this photo of the other tractor driver mid-cardiac infarction.  He was so laid back about the whole process!  I may or may not have been eating a McFlurry while in the co-pilot seat during the silage packing process and totally meant to snap a quick photo of McFlurry eating in order to demonstrate how chill and not at all anxious about this process I was.  Definitely forgot to take said picture...definitely was not at all chill about packing silage.  It puts hair on your chest, friend!   

We kept going back and forth, up and down the silage pit.  Here's a view from the top looking down .

Eeek!  So high up!

Another view from the top...safely from the middle of the pit though, whew!
This process went on for quite a while.  By the time the dump trucks where done for the night, we where all stressed, on edge, and wished more than anything that the beer-type of fermentation was going on in this forsaken silage pit.  To put it all in perspective, here's good ol' Sammy the foremen on top of the pit, watering it down with a garden hose to help facilitate fermentation.   

Definitely ok with not having to pack silage ever again,

Monday, August 6, 2012

This is a Test...

Not of the emergency alert system...of your taste buds!!  Maybe not so much yours, more like your man's taste buds.  Every gal knows the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but can you trick 'em into thinking some of their favorite foods are good(ish) for them?!   

I tried this the other day, with a recipe that definitely has my husband's seal of approval: Mema's Absolutely Flippin' Fantastic Banana Bread.  **Mema always has a loaf of this on hand, I swear her freezer is full of 'em!**  For my little experiment, I made two loaves; one was the awesome/fabulous/man pleasing original, the other was Jen's Secret Kinda Sorta Better For You Version.

Here's what you're gonna need.

Note the two ingredients on the far right...they're top/man-secret

For the original:
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (I'm pretty generous with this, like 2-3(ish)
  • 1.5 cups mashed bananas (3 medium sized)
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Cream together margarine and sugar.  Add egg and vanilla, beat thoroughly.  Blend in bananas.  Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt and add to creamed mixture.  Mix well.  Bake in a greased loaf pan for 55 minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

The brown stuff is vanilla, not a turd
Grease the pan!  It's your friend!

What I did differently: 
  • Replace the 1/2 cup margarine with 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • Replace the 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup Splenda/sugar blend (I found mine hellaciously on sale at our local Aldi, the most random grocery store ever.  Seriously, you never know what you're gonna find there!)
  • I also added some extra banana (like another 1/2 medium banana) just to   reinforce the banana-ness  and complete this super-official experiment (haha).
I wanted to make this experiment completely legit.  It's not good research unless your subject (that you're married too, heehee) is presented with completely unbiased, raw data.  All evidence had to be destroyed!  I rushed home after work, raced like crazy through both recipes, nearly jumped out of my skin every time I heard a truck passed on the gravel road outside our house, and had 'em ready just in time.

Kinda thought the difference in batter color would give me away.

The upper loaf has the pumpkin/splenda mix.  It was kinda orange-y.
But post baking, they looked pretty much the same!  I may or may not have had to keep reminding myself which was of the Mondays.

Oh!  Don't forget to add a cinnamon/sugar/pecan dusting to the top.  It sends this deliciousness right over the edge.

Now for the experiment!  Cut your hubby/man/significant other/friend/neighbor/it-doesn't-really-matter-who a healthy
 slices of each piece.  If you're feeling fancy, milk makes a good palate cleanser!  See what they have to say!  Mine couldn't tell a difference, could yours??  

I think the bottom slice is from the pumpkin/splenda loaf...I think??  I've fooled myself!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Who doesn't love a good, long, soul-searching, junk food-consuming, caffeine-chugging road trip?   Sometimes, solo road trips are the best!  I've gone on a couple of good ones in the past few years (to waaaaay upstate NY to the Miner Institute where I interned at Morgan horse farm, to Dalhart TX to visit hubby before he became hubby and to Midway, KY to visit a long lost friend (who I actually got to know while at Miner!). 

Reunited and it feels so gooood!!
Natasha and I met and instantly bonded over the joys of shoveling horse poop, butt-crack of dawn work days, putting up hay, and other fun types of manual labor that go along with summer internships.  We where from totally opposite parts of the country (MO vs. PA) and discovered that we where essentially the out-of-state versions of each other!  We hadn't been able to meet up again (due to the fact that we are both broke, recent-ish college grads) until this most recent road trip.  She's working with kick-ass Thoroughbreds at Lane's End Farm in Midway, KY and I am super jealous!

Lanes End is gorgeous!

Even with dead grass!  It's everywhere this year.

The barns...pristine! 

I feel like you could eat off the floor!
The yearlings...ginormous!  I seriously have never seen a yearling this big before.  They grown 'em big in KY!

Natasha with one of her fav's.  She loves these guys!
Midway is probably one of the most quaint and character-filled little towns I've been to.  High dollar Thoroughbred farms are everywhere and center of town is has a bunch of cute little shops and this new little place called The Midway School Bakery.  We went there Sunday for breakfast (breakfast at 1pm because apparently bars in KY don't shut down 'til 3am, which is waay too crazy for this midwest girl!!).  It's located in the cafeteria of town's school that was shut down years ago. 

They had pictures like this hanging throughout the bakery telling about it's history, etc.  Pretty sure my mom, a present day cafeteria lady, would appreciate this!!

Monday morning was back to reality, Natasha had to go back to work and I went for a run (in preperation for my road trip junk food fest!) and loved all the sites. 

Reasons why living here would be sweet:
1) Most of the roads around town where little country lanes like this, perfect for running on!

 2) I already picked out the almost perfect house.  It's missing a wrap around porch, but hey, sell a few high dollar horses and boom, add on your wrap around porch.

 3) Horses everywhere!  Racing Thoroughbreds are worked with and handled starting at such a young age (pretty much once they hit the ground) that they are super people friendly!  I made some friends while running. 

Walking towards the strange, out of breath lady.

They walked right up to me!  So curious.

4) I'm not sure this counts as a reason why living in KY would be awesome, but it is a random, fun fact.  The happy meal at McDonalds came with tiny french fries!  Maybe this happens everywhere and MO is just weird, but the tiny french fry container was a crazy, palm-sized phenomenon! 

Back in MO with our boring-sized french fries,