Sunday, September 27, 2009

A weekend of visiting

This weekend Brian and I headed south to visit Aunt Jean, Uncle Gary, and their son Bill. We had, of course, a great time! I hadn't met Bill before (he just moved back from a 3-year adventure in Hawaii) and Brian hadn't seen him years, so it was nice to get acquainted and re-acquainted. We're excited to have a cousin in the same state!

Our drive there was uneventful until the last turn, when Nuvi (our Garmin) took us down a backroad that turned out to be entirely mud. I've never been backroading with Brian in anything but his Jeep or 4Wheeler, so I had a great time watching Brian work his 3/4-ton heavy duty Chevy through the mud. He showed off some Alaskan skills and I was impressed. His truck is a mess (as was the road). This truck has had a rough few weeks. Last week Brian T-boned a Lexus sedan (not Brian's fault), so the truck is heading to the shop to have the bumper re-done. (The truck faired better than the Lexas.) We're hoping they'll give Brian's truck a bath while they're replacing the bumper. Figures...we just made the last payment this week! Brian wishes his truck wasn't such a mess.One of the highlights of the weekend was a trip to the Kalona Fall Festival. There was a flea market, where I almost got talked into buying a miniature Australian Shepard pup, but Brian said no. I bought a necklace instead. We ate corn dogs and onion rings...Aunt Jean found a giant ear of corn...and we saw lots of Amish and their horse-drawn wagons. Here's Uncle Gary and Aunt Jean posing. Brian liked the tractors and old motors on display best (see a few shots below). There were several very interesting museums too that showed the Mennonite and Amish history in the area.
After leaving the Fall Festival, we couldn't drive by the local cheese shop without stopping to get some cheese curds, aka "squeaky cheese." At this particular factory you can watch the curds being made.Brian was very excited (and drooling slightly). He polished off the curds on the way home. There was lots of squeaking going on.Generally our pups head off to Critter Camp when we go out of town, but we were able to bring Mattie and Dawson on this trip because Uncle Gary has a nice big barn that they can stay in. Carl and Andre, Uncle Gary's two labs had a good time playing with our dogs. Here's a good picture of Carl. He has a beautiful blocky head, thick body, and nice temperament. Bill did a great job of wearing out Mattie and Dawson with a Frisbee on Saturday afternoon. As you can see they found a mudpuddle in the driveway. Its near impossible to keep labs out of water, so we gave up pretty early on. What a mess! Mattie and Dawson immediately had baths when we got home, much to their dismay.
On Saturday I told Uncle Gary that I had plans to plant Jerusalem Artichokes in my garden next year. He said that Jerusalem Artichokes are just weeds (related to sunflowers) in Iowa and that they grow on the side of the road. I didn't quite believe him, so we got into the car with shovel in hand and went down the road and dug some up. Well, I should say that Uncle Gary dug them up, I just watched. I've never seen this plant so big! It dwarfed Uncle Gary. Yup, they're Jerusalem Artichokes alright! How exciting! This tasty root has the crunch and taste of a water chestnut. I think it will be wonderful in stirfry. An excellent find!Thanks for a great weekend Bill, Aunt Jean, and Uncle Gary!

Spoiled Dogs

When I came home last Wednesday, we had a UPS package waiting for us on the doorstep with two dog bones sitting on top. I thought it was cute and worthy of a blog post. Our dogs have (apparently) made more friends than we have here in Iowa!

Pumpkin & Squash Harvest

Last weekend Brian helped me harvest the last of our pumpkins and squash. We had a wheelbarrow full! Ryan and Louise...we have some Hubbards with your name on them!

Monday, September 7, 2009


This weekend Seth (my twin brother), Michelle (his wife), and their three awesome kids James, Harmony, and Gabrielle came to visit! It was a fun-filled weekend with lots of adventures. We sure appreciated Seth and Michelle making the 12-hour trek to see our little piece of Iowa. Fall is a great time to visit and we were able to show the kids some of the great things about living in the country. It was also great having some new subjects to photograph. This is a long post, but I feel that I'm making up for my lack of posting over the last few weeks.
Here we go!...............

One of the first things we did was harvest apples from our own trees. Their visit had perfect timing- our Macintosh apples were at their peak!
Everyone helped! Here's Seth, Michelle, Gabby, and Harmony filling up one of many large containers. Now that everyone has gone home I have my work cut out for me making apple sauce. Lots of apple sauce. James is a great tree-climber and did a great job getting the highest apples. All the best apples were at the top of this particular tree, so James was a super big help. James and Harmony on the apple ladder.Gabby, being here cute self, demolishing an apple. For lunch on Friday we went to the local apple orchard for lunch. They make a great breadbowl with "scarecrow" soup (a creamy, cheesy, potato soup). They also have a kid's area with lots of activities and some goats. Here's Gabby feeding one of the friendly goats. Like Michelle, these kids have no fear of animals. They also have a tricycle race track. James and Harmony did a lot of racing. There are lots of kid parks in the area, so we had to check a few of them out. Brian and I hadn't been to any of these playgrounds before, but were pleasantly surprised by how much play equipment there was, and that we were the only ones there. We had the place to ourselves! We all had a great time.

Seth, Michelle, and the kids on the merry-go-round.James, holding on tight during a spin.
Gabby enjoyed the sunshine!
I did too!
Harmony going down the slide headfirst. James looking out from the top of the big slide. Uncle Brian was a little too big for some of the equipment...but that didn't stop him from joining right in! (It takes a lot of work to be the "cool" uncle, you know.) Aunt Hope and Uncle Brian at the park. This weekend there was a Dayton Rodeo and Carnival, so we went out to check it out. Brian and I didn't go last year, so we were excited to check it out. The rodeo started past the kid's bedtime, but we were still able to enjoy the carnival. There was a petting zoo, so we spend some time with more goats, sheep, a calf, and some ponies. Whenever we visit animals with Michelle (whether they be reindeer, sheep, goats, cows, etc.), it never seems to fail that she ends up having her hand in their mouths. These goats were no exception. Here's Gabby again being her brave self. Harmony making friends with a sheep. This little goat was just the ride size for James. Of course there were rides! Gabby was too little to go on, but James and Harmony had a great time!
Gabby got a ride on Uncle Brian's shoulders instead. We also had the opportunity to go to the Fort Dodge Fort Museum and Frontier Village. It was pretty fun. One of the buildings they had was an old one-room school house. James wasn't too happy about being in school.
There was even a jail. Everyone got a chance to be locked-up. Seth was very distraught about being in prison. The evening before everyone left, we built a fire and had a marshmallow roast around our firepit. The kids loved roasting marshmallows and eating s'mores and watermelon.Gabby was partial to the watermelon. I need to note that the dogs were having so much fun over the last few days that they could hardy contain themselves! You can see the delight in Dawson's eyes in this photo. (we felt the same way too!) The dogs received lots of hugs and pets, gave lots of kisses, ate many apples, chased a lot of balls, and were given many, many treats. They had one of the greatest weekends of their lives! They don't get kid visitors very often.
What a great weekend! Thanks, Seth and Michelle for coming!