Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We had a pretty quiet holiday, but every enjoyable. We opened gifts with each other after church on Christmas morning, took a little nap, and then spent the rest of the day with Dan's family at his sister's house. 
This picture of Rebecca was taken on Sunday morning before her Christmas program on Dec. 18. She looked so cute! Sadly her hair does not hold curls for very long!
One of Rebecca's favorite gifts was her Leapster 2. 
The other day when we were driving home and Rebecca was playing with her Leapster in the back seat, she said to me, "Mom, I was just working so hard to be good, but I didn't think that Santa was going to bring me a Leapster because I was really being naughty. I'm just so glad he brought me one anyway, so I'll try and be better." She makes us laugh so much!
Here are all the De Vries cousins with Dan's parents. 

We are still anxiously awaiting the arrival of baby. I'm 38 weeks and counting. I'm finding this time of waiting to be long and tiring. Knowing that baby could arrive tonight or could take another 3 weeks, is hard. But above all we are trusting that God will provide for our needs and praying for a safe and healthy delivery when the time comes.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

I know it is closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving now, but I have yet to post about Turkey Day and still want to do that. For Thanksgiving we traveled up to Hills, MN to my sister's house to spend the weekend with the rest of my siblings. We've done the same thing the last 2 years, but this year my parents were unable to make the trip from Canada. Here is a quick recap in photos.
We decorated the table with style.
The men fried the turkey, which was the tastiest turkey I've ever had.
All 18 of us sat around the table and thanked God for our many blessings!
And of course we attempted the traditional family photo. This is not the best one, but at least everyone's head made it in the frame. It was a great and memorable weekend!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Quick, find the yellow brick and break a window."

I found the following post on a website I visit from time to time. I love the logic behind it and concern for the budget of their city. But I question how often they need such a brick.  Any guesses what the brick says or the sign on the wall?

  white trash repairs - Follow The Yellow Brick Exit
In the Chinese province of Heilongjiang, the Public Transport Company replaced the emergency-use hammers with pairs of yellow bricks on all city buses.
“The special hammers are expensive and people were always stealing them,” explained a spokesperson from the Harbin Public Transport Company. “We don’t think anybody will be interested in stealing bricks.”

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hauling hay

I spent a day this past week hauling hay home to where I overwinter my spring cows.  As I was hauling my last load I thought to myself, "I think I have a pretty nice looking rig.  I should take a picture to share."  
This is my 1086 tractor with a gooseneck trailer hauling seven bales.  It can haul two in the postion over the tires but I rarely do it.  This can be pulled by a pickup and is normally. 
I put a gooseneck ball on the top of my bale carrier and can do the work by myself of loading and unloading. I pull the trailer to the field with the tractor, then load the trailer with the tractor/loader.  Then pull the load home and unload it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

31 Weeks

Believe it or not, these are the first "baby bump" pictures I have taken with this pregnancy. The second time around is much different than the first. What hasn't changed, is that we are so thankful for another healthy pregnancy and can't wait to hold this little one in our arms. So for those who are curious, here I am at 31 weeks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Better Late than Never

We have some catching up to do here. Going back a few weeks...Rebecca had a Fall party at school and was able to wear a costume. She chose to be a fairy again this year, which was great because we still had the wings from last year. She had a lot of fun showing everyone how she could "fly."
We also made a few Halloween treats for friends and neighbors. I got the idea off another blog of course, but now that I am looking for it again, I can't find the blog back. They turned out really cute!
How to: Dip Nutter Butter cookies in melted vanilla almond bark (I thinned it down with Crisco). Let it harden and then drizzle additional melted almond bark over the cookies (I used a paper decorator bag with the tip cut off). Add melted dark chocolate eyes with a toothpick.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Little Organization

When life is crazy busy and I feel like I have no time to even pick up the dirty socks on the bathroom floor, it feels great to get a little corner of that crazy life organized. So, yesterday I did a tiny thing - hung up our photo cork board that we had up before we remodeled the kitchen. Months ago I spray painted an old frame white and framed the fabric covered cork board with the intention of hanging it up, but never got around to it. We like to hang Christmas card photos on it each year and I also had baby announcements piling up on the counter and side of the fridge so I got out the hammer and nails and got it done. Beautiful.
My other little bit of organization was inspired by my favorite blog Young House Love with their similar project found here. When I saw this project the other day, I though, "I can do that! And I even have all the supplies already." So tonight I got out the supplies and set to work to organize this corner of the kitchen.
This is the counter that our microwave used to sit on. Now that we have the microwave over the stove this counter is free to become the "dropping zone" for things that come into the house. I hate clutter and therefore hate this counter, so I wanted to try and organize it a little bit more.
So for this project you need the inside of a cabinet door, cork board squares, utility knife, glue, and a ruler. All of which I had on hand. I think I picked up the cork board about 5 years ago at either a thrift store or garage sale. There are 4 thin squares of cork in the package.
I started by measuring the inside of the door, cutting a sheet of cork, and dry fitting it in the opening.
Perfect fit. The other perfect fit was that 2 sheets was exactly the height of the door so I have minimal cutting to do. The cork did come with double stick mounting squares, but when I tried to use them I knew they would not hold up. So I just used hot glue. Yes, that will be a real mess if I ever want to take the cork down, but I don't see that happening.
YEAH! for a great place to pin up coupons, schedules, and recipes I want to try. I love it and it makes me feel a little bit more organized!
I also worked hard at finding a better home for most of the stuff that was collecting on the counter. I know that this will always be the "catch all" place in the house, but it feels good to clean it up for a while. I still don't like the phone charger cords "hanging around." Still looking for a good solution to keeping those under control. Please share it you have a good way to do that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


We've been pretty busy this Fall! (One reason we haven't blogged much). Here are a few of the projects that we have been working on:

On Sept. 13, Dan's brother Andy and his wife Carol welcomed twin girls into their family. Carol asked me to make dark purple curtains and crib skirts for the girls' room. I used the crib skirt my mom had made for me as a pattern and whipped out two crib skirts in no time! If only all sewing was that easy :) I did not have a pattern for the curtains, but with a few measurement of the window, it was pretty easy too. I excel at sewing straight lines. 

Not the best pictures, but  you get the idea.

When I told Dan that I was going to blog about my sewing, he said I also needed to blog about his welding. Because according to him, it's really the same thing - creating something new from scratch, we just use different materials. And I guess I have to agree :)

Dan has been hard at work building a feed lot at a neighbors farm and part of that feed lot is a crowding tub and chute to work cattle in. He bought steel pipe and built custom gates for the project. A little dirtier and smellier than my sewing, but just as impressive :)

Here is Dan with one of the gates he welded. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Rebecca is now going to preschool in the mornings, 4 days a week. She started the day after Labor Day and has really enjoyed it. It is so fun to see her excitement and hear about her day. The best thing is that she is going to preschool at Delaware, where I teach. She comes with me to school in the mornings and then I bring her to daycare right before lunch. Her favorite thing to say on the way home is, "So Mom, tell me about your day." And then I ask her the same thing :)

Here is Rebecca on her first day of preschool.

Note: Fall = very busy = less blogging. Sorry to those who check this often.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Party Time

Rebecca turned 4 years old on August 31 and we had a family party for her on Saturday. She picked a "Tangled" theme from the new movie about Rapunzel. I went online and found a good design for a cake that I thought I would be able to do. Overall, I think it was the best birthday yet. We had a great time with family, fun decorations, gifts, and yummy cake. Here are some of the highlights.
Rebecca and her "Tangled" cake.
Rebecca did a great job blowing out her candles!
Here is the cake and the table decorations. I got the idea for the candy filled glasses just the other day while on another one of my favorite blogs. Rebecca did a great job helping me sort the Skittles by color earlier in the day.

The party was topped off by enjoying cake and ice cream and playing with grandparents and cousins.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Rebecca!

Our Little Girl turned 4 on August 31st! I can't believe only 4 years ago we were in the hospital holding our new little bundle. Here is a little flashback.

On her birthday morning, we gave her a gift from Grandma and Grandpa Pontier - a new basket, bell, and flag for a bike. She knew after opening them that there had to be a new bike from mom and dad in the garage for her. She couldn't wait to ride it a little in the morning before we left for school. When she got home she rode it until supper time and even wanted to ride some more after her bath. Since our driveway is gravel, it's easier to ride in the garage and she likes makes hot laps around the car.

What a big girl! I wonder how long those training wheels will stay on?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

It's been a very busy and tiring we for me, so I am just getting around to puting my feet up and finishing this blog post. One thing that I love to grow in the garden is zucchini. I grow it for pretty much one reason: Chocolate Zucchini Cake! The best part about growing lots of zucchini is that you can shred it and freeze it in 2 cup portions and make this cake year round.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
1/2 cup margarine (softened)
1/2 cup oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour milk (put a little vinegar in milk and it will turn sour)
2 cups shredded fresh zucchini

Topping: sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts (nuts are optional)

Mix all ingredients together, I just do it in the order they are listed. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 pan and sprinkle the topping on (be generous :). Bake for 35-45 min. at 350 degrees.

Just a few notes about zucchini. If the zucchini is the size of a large cucumber like the kind you buy in the store, it is delicious sliced and sauted in a little oil. If you let your zucchini grow bigger like the size of your arm, they are great for shredding and using in cake and bread. To shred the zucchini, peal off the skin with a potato peeler, cut it length wise and scoop out all the seeds, then shred with a grater. If you freeze zucchini and want to use it in a recipe later, make sure you thaw the zucchini and include all the "water/zucchini juice" in the recipe.

I wish I was better at taking pictures while baking and cooking, but I'm not. Here is a picture of the cake - it doesn't last long in our house! Rebecca actually cried when I started eating the last piece. I reluctantly shared a little with her :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Snickerdoodle Blondies

So two of Dan's favorites are snickerdoodle cookies and blondies. I recently when to a potluck picnic and a friend had brought some delicious bars and when I asked what they were called, she said they were Snickerdoodle Blondies. I had never heard of them or had them before, but what a great combination. I knew Dan would like them too. So I found a recipe online and here it is from

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Yield: 24 blondies
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Bake Time: 25 to 30 minutes
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan; set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. Beat, scraping the bowl, until thoroughly combined. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture until just combined. Give the dough a final stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to make sure the flour is incorporated.
4. Spread the dough evenly into the pan (I found an offset spatula was the best tool for the job, as it’s a thick batter). Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.
5. Bake for 30 minutes or until the surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

And I was right, Dan said, "I think I could just eat this whole pan."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Outdoor Fun and Improvements

Rebecca and I did a little shopping this morning and scored at the DAV thrift store! I love good deals. Just about every time I drive by the store I look in their back fenced area where they keep any patio furniture, bikes, and other outdoor stuff that had been donated. I'm actually on the look out for another small bike for Rebecca since her other one was tragically "killed" when Dan backed over it with the truck. When we drove by the store today we saw a Step 2 Wagon and a Little Tykes picnic table in the back, so of course we had to go back and check it out!

We passed on the picnic table, it was a little too faded and I knew I wouldn't be able to fit it in the car. But I could not pass up the wagon. For Rebecca, it was love at first sight and I didn't mind the near perfect condition and the $24 price tag. Before making our final decision, I checked the value of a new wagon on my phone. Target was selling them for $60.

Rebecca had fun washing it with the hose and then filling it with some animals and pulling it around the yard.

She has also enjoyed playing on her improved playground lately. This main play structure was here when we bought the house and since then we have made a few improvements. We added the swings, slide, canopy, steering wheel, and yellow handles. Here is a (bad) picture of the play area last summer.
Summer 2010
Just this summer Dan (with a little of my help) dug out all the sand that used to be all over the inside of the wood border. I hated walking in the sand and Rebecca didn't like it much either. We build up the sides of the sandbox under the play house and replaced the rest of the sand with playground grade wood chips that we bought a truck load of from a tree service in Des Moines. The other improvement this summer was extending the horizontal bar the swing hung on and made it long enough for 2 swings and added the A frame support on the far side. As you can see, I still need to stain the new wood. I love how great it looks now with the wood chips and it's ready with 2 swings for 2 kids next summer :)
Summer 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


It's been a quiet week on the blog because we were on vacation last week with the Pontier family. It would be impossible to recap everything we did and load all 200 pictures, so I will just give you some of the highlights.
My parents found a rental house near Linn Grove, Iowa. It is a bed and breakfast with a small vineyard and pond. We rented the whole house for the week so the owners left and we were on our own. The house was very large and spacious and beautifully decorated. The house only had 4 bedrooms, but each room was the size of a hotel room with 2 queen beds and a large bathroom with a whirlpool tub. It was a very hot week, so we spent a lot of time swimming, canoeing, and kayaking in the pond. We also when swimming and boating in Storm Lake which was only 25 miles away.

Some other things we enjoyed were inside board games, big family meals, reading and relaxing, and a "corn hole" (beanbag toss) tournament. It was great to spend so much time with family that we only see a few times a year. Can't wait until next time!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stars and Stripes

I know I'm a little late for July 4th, so you will just have to remember this for next year. Here are some cupcakes I made for a get together with friends last weekend.

Make vanilla cupcakes in red, white, and blue cupcake wrappers. Frost cupcakes with whipped topping (so easy!). Then decorate with fresh blueberries and stripes of strawberry fruit roll-ups. Cutting the fruit roll-ups is a little tricky and sticky, but they are so cute, it's worth it. Enjoy (next year :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Little Moments

I just love this picture! It makes me laugh every time I think about it.

Here is the story behind the picture. Dan bought a semi load of hay from someone and they delivered it to our house. The semi is parked diagonally across our driveway. Dan unloaded the hay bails with his tractor and drove them down the hill to the barn. Rebecca likes to be close to the action and wanted to be out side to watch. I looked outside at her before this and she was watching and riding her bike around while the semi driver was sitting on the step. She then came inside and said she was hot and needed a snack. I gave her a freeze pop and she went back outside. When I looked out at her a second time this is what I saw. She had gotten a chair from the garage and parked herself next to the semi driver to watch too! It's these little moments that can make everyday life special.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stuffed Shells

This is one of my favorite meals for several reasons:
1. it's so easy and makes about 3 meals worth - love meals in the freezer!
2. my grandma used to make these every time she came to Iowa to visit - good memories!
3. they are delicious - yum!

Stuffed Shells
Prepare a box of large pasta shells according to the box, drain, and rinse with cold water.

Cheese mixture:
2 containers of ricotta cheese (30 oz. total)
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 T. parsley flakes
optional - 1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained

When shells are cool enough to handle, put a heaping table spoon of cheese mixture into each shell and lay them on a cookie sheet. It should come out pretty even with shells and cheese mixture. I usually end up with a few shells left over because I over stuff mine :)

Freeze the shells on the cookie sheet and then transfer them to a zip lock bag. When you want to enjoy your shells, lay them in a baking dish seam side down (about 3-4 shells per adult) and cover generously with your favorite pasta sauce. Bake shells at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.