Hippity, Hoppity, Happy Easter Day

Easter is just one day away, and that can only mean one thing; it’s time to decorate eggs! I don’t know about you, but egg decorating is one of my favorite pre-Easter activities. I have fond memories of sitting around the kitchen table decorating eggs with my family. My brother, sister, and I were always in awe of our finished eggs and tried to outdo each other with creativity.

I just had to reminisce a bit here. My first memories of decorating Easter eggs were with these two, after all. Although we are not decorating eggs in this photo, we look like we may be ready for Easter. What cuties!

Decorating eggs is a tradition I’ve continued with my own family. Or at least my girls. My hubby doesn’t enjoy the messy, disorganized chaos that ensues when children drop eggs in colored dye. We’ve spared him the headache the last several years and had our fun while he is at work. It’s better for all involved that way!

Another flash back! Our very first time decorating eggs. I will treasure these moments for years to come.

Each year, the girls and I try different techniques. We’ve written on eggs with white crayon before dyeing them. We’ve wrapped them with rubber bands and experimented with mixing colors. Every year, we use a store bought kit with the little color disks that dissolve in water and vinegar. This year we broke all our rules while keeping with our egg decorating tradition.

We didn’t buy a dye kit. Instead, we tried three different techniques with three very different results. This was the year for trying the Pinterest ideas I pinned years ago plus an awesome egg decorating contraption featured on Shark Tank. And guess who joined us for the non-messy technique? My hubby!

The colors and designs on these eggs blew us away! They were so fun and easy, but by far the messiest technique we tried this year!

First, we made what we called Tie-Dyed Eggs. In a nutshell here are our steps:

  1. Soak hard boiled eggs in vinegar for 10 minutes. Pat dry.
  2. Spoon a thawed container of Cool Whip into a 9×13 pan.
  3. Dot Cool Whip with food color (we used neon colors) and swirl with a wooden skewer (a spoon handle or popsicle stick would work too).
  4. Roll eggs in colored Cool Whip. Let dry 10 minutes.
  5. Carefully rinse excess Cool Whip from eggs.
  6. Admire the beautiful creations.

I have to admit, I read directions on this technique a few years ago and went by memory. I half expected the eggs to still be white when I rinsed them off. My memory served me well. If I had to do this all over again though, I’d wear rubber gloves. My finger tips currently look like the rainbow.

These eggs! They were easy and had fun results!

We were out of hard boiled eggs but not out of creativity, so I decided to try one more technique on non boiled eggs. Who said dyed eggs had to be hard boiled anyway? This technique we’ll call Rice Speckled Eggs (so creative, I know). Here’s what we did:

  1. Dump uncooked rice into plastic baggies (1/4-1/2 cup, eyeballed).
  2. Add several drops of food color to the rice; one color per bag. We started with 5-6 drops and added more as needed.
  3. Squish the rice around in the bag to evenly distribute the color.
  4. Place an egg in the bag of rice and gently toss and squish the rice around the egg to transfer color onto the egg.
  5. Remove eggs and let dry.
  6. Again, admire the creative masterpieces!

I also remembered reading about this technique in the past and was pretty impressed with how the eggs turned out. It was more fun to experiment than hunt for the ‘real’ directions in the moment. One of my girls spent extra time combining the colored rice to get multi-colored speckles on the eggs. I must say, these turned out super cute!

Making memories with my girls. I had just as much fun as they did getting creative in the kitchen. We ran out of eggs way too fast!

Both of these techniques were done while my hubby was at work. While they were super fun, they definitely had a mess factor. I may be finding rice on my kitchen floor for weeks. Remembering to seal the bag before shaking an egg in rice may prevent that, just in case you’re wondering.

The Egg Mazing Decorator was super fun! I have a feeling the girls will be asking to use this before next Easter!

We saved the as seen on Shark Tank, Egg Mazing Decorator machine, technique for when the man of the house was around though. We actually saw the Shark Tank episode where this contraption was pitched. When the girls and I found it in our favorite local gift shop, Sugar Bowl, we knew we had to try it ourselves.

Supplies needed for this Eggmazing technique included: The Egg Mazing Decorator (set included markers), 4 AA batteries, and eggs (we used white plastic eggs that could be colored and decorated). Place an egg in the middle of the machine, turn it on, place marker tip on the egg, and let the magic begin!

Everyone got in on the egg decorating this year. This technique was memorizing and addicting!

We all had fun with this one. It was not messy and worked for any level of talent and creativity. I think that’s why a certain person in our house was down with giving this one a try. Or maybe it was the Shark Tank stamp of approval. Whatever it was, I’m glad all four of us were able to make egg decorating memories this year.

The final results! Its amazing what a marker and spinning egg can do.

I think when you get right down to it, no matter the technique or how beautiful the eggs turn out, the best part of the egg decorating tradition is the memories. We laughed, we created, we smiled, we spent time together. Just like I did with my family when I was young. Bringing the tradition full circle warms my heart. This Easter season, do two things: Remember the reason we celebrate this wondrous day and spend time making memories with those you love the most.

Two Month Blogging Adventure Update

Vander Haag Museum Fun
The girls just loved these little statues located near the entrance of the Vander Haag Museum in Sanborn, Iowa.

Two months! My blogging journey as Homegrown Iowa Girl started two months ago and has already taken me on many great adventures! I am still learning how to navigate the blog world, but I am having fun along the way. Being able to have adventures with my girls, date nights with my guy, and experience all the small town fun Iowa has to offer is not a bad gig!

So far, our Girls Adventures have taken us to Jones Nursery and Garden Center, on a rainbow walk, to the Buena Vista County Fair, strawberry picking at Getting’s Garden, an afternoon of exploring Sanborn, Iowa, and a day of pottery painting fun. My girls and I have had a few other adventures I can’t wait to share with you very soon!

White House Cupcakery
We had a fabulous date night at the White House 220 Cupcakery in Alta, Iowa.

Our Date Night in Sioux City starting my blogging venture. From there, we hosted a game night group date at our home where a vintage board game created an evening we won’t soon forget! Our most recent date at the White House Cupcakery was also a one-of-a-kind evening. We hope to get back there again before summer’s end.

My family has found a lot of Small Town Iowa Fun along the way as well. From Fiesta Latina and Bully Bullhead Weekend, to meeting local law enforcement over sno cones, to getting ready for the 4th of July and RAGBRAI, we are finding all sorts of things to do in our little corner of Iowa. Many memories were also made at the rodeo in Cherokee, Iowa, the Relay for Life, a last minute stop in Elma, Iowa, and a fishing derby in Storm Lake, Iowa.

Posing with Lieutenant Cole
Lieutenant Cole from the SLPD and my girls at the Cool Down with the Cops event at Tropical Sno in Storm Lake, Iowa.

One of my goals in starting this blog was to inspire others to make every day an adventure. I hope that in following our journey you are finding fun and creative adventures of your own and enjoying all Iowa has to offer. Having fun and making memories can be infectious!

Please share this blog with your family and friends. The more the merrier! Be sure to ‘subscribe’ to the blog by entering your email address on the left-hand side of the screen or on a mobile device, click on the menu box in the upper right corner and scroll down a bit to enter your email address. Be sure to click ‘subscribe.’ An email will be sent to you to confirm that you want to receive blog updates. Once you confirm, you’ll be all set to get my blog post updates right in your inbox. You can also follow me on Facebook and Pinterest. Having more subscribers and followers will allow me to bring you bigger and better blog posts in the future!

Picking Pals
We made sweet memories on our adventure to Getting’s Garden near Sanborn.

Thank you for your support in this journey and for reading along the past two months! I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what you like or what you’d like to hear about. Your feedback is very much appreciated!

So until next time, find joy in the simple things, don’t be afraid to get a little dirty, and use your imagination to make every day an adventure!

Adventures at the 2015 Buena Vista County Fair

Buena Vista County Fair
We had great adventures at the Buena Vista County Fair. As a side note, I loved the old door signs found throughout the fair grounds!

‘Mmm, it smells so fresh!’ announced one of my girls as the other one pulled up her nose and asked, ‘What is that bad smell?’ I giggled as we parked near the animal barns at the Buena Vista County Fair Grounds. From the start, our day was full of adventure and learning! By the end of the day, we were all a little sweaty and stinky, but none of us really seemed to care!

It was our first trip to the fair and we were there bright and early to watch the 4-H Swine Show. We enjoyed watching the 4-Hers proudly show their pigs. It was a perfect opportunity for my non-farm girls to learn a little bit about 4-H and pigs. The doughnut holes and juice provided by a local business were a plus too!

Goats at the Fair
The goats were just some of the animals the girls made friends with at the fair!

We walked around the many buildings to see the animals, 4-H exhibits, vendors, open-class exhibits, and animals again! My girls loved the animals! They learned the names of the horses and laughed at the goats. A couple of friendly 4-Hers held their rabbits and allowed the girls to pet them. That made their day!

The Open Class Building was fun to explore. I loved to see all the projects, vegetables, food, and flowers people brought to show off. The Ugly Lamp Contest entries were especially fun. I’m already scheming what my ugly lamp will look like if they have the same contest next year.

My girls enjoyed the play area in the Open Class Building designed just for them. It was a new venture this year at the fair, and according to one of the people working there, it was a popular place for many kids. Children were allowed to play, read, or color while their parents looked at the exhibits in the building. We were also lucky to be part of a special story time by Bill Northey, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. Other Mystery Readers read books to children during the fair.

Clover Kid Ribbons
The girls were so excited to get ribbons at the fair! What a great way to include younger kids in on the fun!

After we took in some of the sights, it was time for a very special event at the fair for my kiddos. This summer they were introduced to Clover Kids, an extension of 4-H for younger children. They were able to bring projects and/or a stuffed animal to be judged at the fair. I can’t even explain how excited my girls were to do this. The kiddos were asked questions about their projects and stuffed animals and were given participation ribbons. Snacks and activities were available while they waited. They were so proud, and I was too. As a former 4-Her, it was fun to introduce my girls to something that could eventually be a big part of their future.

We ate lunch in the shade, saw cats and guinea pigs in the small animal show, said good-bye to the animals, and decided to go home to take a break from the heat. The girls didn’t have enough of the fair though, so we went back in the evening so they could show Dad their projects and introduce him to their favorite animals. We checked out the car show and looked at the farm machinery too. After eating the yummy free meal sponsored by many local businesses, we let the girls have fun at the carnival. There was something for people of all ages at the fair.

Carnival Game Winnings
This little one was a big winner at the Buena Vista County Fair Carnival!

I have to admit, I was impressed by my first trip to the Buena Vista County Fair. It wasn’t a huge fair, but we did spend a good share of the day checking out the events and exhibits. The people I talked to shared that this year’s fair was better than it had been in previous years. Fair-goers liked the lower gate fee and the addition of more family friendly activities. It will be exciting to see what the future holds for the Buena Vista County Fair. Stay up to date on next year’s activities on Facebook.

Next summer, make sure you check out the Buena Vista County Fair or other county fairs across the state (there’s still time to catch a few fairs before fall-click here for a list of county fairs in Iowa). They are all unique, offer fun activities, and showcase the pride and joy of so many people. Big or small, fairs are celebrations that bring the generations together. We look forward to more adventures at county fairs in years to come!

Our 10 Favorite Things about the 2015 Buena Vista County Fair:

  1. Gate fee was only $1; kids 5 and under were free
  2. Parking was free
  3. Clover Kids activities
  4. Free meal on Friday night
  5. Carnival rides and games
  6. Animals, animals, and more animals
  7. 4-Hers who gave us a closer look at their animals
  8. Variety of open class exhibits
  9. Watching animal shows
  10. Having fun adventures with my girls!

Check out more pictures from our adventure here!

Crafty Girls: Creating Memories and Masterpieces

Intently Painting
This little gal carefully painted her mermaid. Making messes together can led to great memories!

Being creative can lead to a great adventure! This Girls Adventure was full of creativity, laughter, and fun. The day was made even more special when my mom joined us for an afternoon of painting at Cool Catz Pottery Studio in Storm Lake. While Cool Catz, a paint your own pottery studio, has recently closed its doors (I’m super sad about this!), I still wanted to share this experience since the idea is more important than the location.

While at Cool Catz, my mom and the girls thoughtfully picked out the pottery pieces they wanted to paint. (I decided to be a helper rather than a painter on this occasion.) One of my girls chose a bunny and troll to paint while the other picked a mermaid and a cup. My mom found two bowls that she and my dad will use for popcorn (my parents make the best homemade kettle corn ever!). After a quick lesson on paining techniques, the brushes were put to use. My girls, although only 5, worked on getting the details just right. They made pieces that were uniquely theirs. The girls critiqued Grandma’s work and helped her pick out paint colors.

Painting Pottery
My animal lover had so much fun painting her very own bunny. Both girls were so proud of their work.

The finished pieces were left at the studio to be kiln-fired. I was able to pick them up a week later. My girls quickly found special places to keep their handiwork. They were so proud of their work and couldn’t wait to deliver Grandma’s popcorn bowls. All masterpieces are now proudly displayed and will be treasured for years to come.

We chatted and laughed while making masterpieces that afternoon, creating not only art but lasting memories. Now each time my girls see their painted treasures they will think of the afternoon spent with Grandma. And when my mom enjoys popcorn in her hand-painted bowls, she will remember the fun she had with her granddaughters. I will forever cherish the time spent with three generations of crafty girls.

Grandma and Her Little Helper
Grandma and her little helper had fun picking out paint colors together.

Now its your turn to have a crafty adventure! Grab family members or friends and make memories. Although Cool Catz is no longer open for business there are plenty of other ways to get creative. Check out local art galleries, newspapers, colleges, and community education agencies for area classes and events. Or, try out one of these Northwest Iowa locations (not an extensive list by any means, but it will get you started):

It’s also okay to get creative in your own living room or kitchen. Have your grandma teach you to make her famous homemade rolls, get out the kids’ watercolors and create together, put together a puzzle, bake cookies together, try out a Pinterest project as a group, admire family photos or quilts, or have Grandpa teach the little ones how to make a birdhouse. Get several generations together, and do something a little different.

All Done!
All done painting! Waiting a week to pick up the finished pieces was so hard. The girls couldn’t wait to see their new treasures!

The great thing is, it won’t matter if you aren’t an expert painter, baker, or bird house maker. It’s okay if your cookies get burnt or you have a Pinterest disaster. (Those mishaps may bring more laughter and make your experience even more memorable!) What will matter is that you’re having fun while creating memories with the ones you treasure the most. I can’t think of a better adventure!

Greenhouse Girls

Jones Nursery Sign
Jones Nursery and Garden Center is located on Highway 7, West of Storm Lake, Iowa.

Flowers, veggies, and plants, oh my! Our first Girls Adventure of the summer took us to Jones Nursery and Garden Center on the outskirts of Storm Lake, Iowa. The sun was finally shining after a week of rainy, gloomy days, so we took advantage of the change in weather. The girls and I quickly made a list of the vegetables we needed for our garden and drove across town. In the past, I’ve tried to go to a greenhouse on my own, but I decided this year would be different. I was up for an adventure, and it proved to be a great decision!

With our list in hand, we found a cart and started to look around. Jones Nursery is a quaint greenhouse with a nice variety of plants. It was easy to navigate with two busy kids. The girls found all the vegetables on our list, except broccoli. Determined to find it, one of my 5 year-olds found a greenhouse employee on her own and asked for help. The employee was very helpful, and low and behold, the broccoli had been hiding. To her delight, my little one was able to pick out her very own broccoli plants with a free lesson on assertiveness.

Old Bed Planter Box
One of the planter boxes at the greenhouse was made from an old bed. Antique doors and wagons were also made into decorative planters.

Once our task of finding veggies was accomplished, we continued to explore the greenhouse. There are many new features at Jones Nursery, so if it’s been awhile since your last visit or you’re still looking for a few plants this year, take a moment to check them out. There is a new pallet house in the back, fun yard art, and many neat plantings scattered throughout the nursery. Seeing all the vibrant colors and new plants brightened my day.

My girls enjoyed looking around too. They explored the garden areas and tried out the benches and swings. We played I-Spy with colors and counted the pink flamingos hiding among the flowers. The girls and I read the names of the plants and picked out our favorites. We giggled and laughed our way around the greenhouse.

Baby Worm
Baby worms are quite fascinating. Look closely to find the smallest worm ever!

We continued the Girls Adventure in our backyard. I dug holes, and the girls patted dirt around our baby plants. Well, one of my girls spent the whole time picking up worms from the overturned dirt and the other worked on slowly planting one pepper plant while naming the rest. We have ‘Hot Girls’ (jalapeno peppers) and ‘Banana Boys’ (banana peppers) currently growing in our little plot of dirt. The girls watered their new plants while I finished planting. I didn’t do the best job supervising though. I turned around to find my more adventurous girl covered head to toe in mud. She thought it was fun to walk across the newly watered garden in her brand new shoes. I didn’t care too much though. We were having fun, and it wasn’t anything a washing machine and shower couldn’t fix. I started the day knowing it would be full of adventure, right!?

Planting Peppers
Planting Peppers was an important job for this little gal.

Our trip to Jones Nursery was a great way to kick-start our summer Girls Adventures. We took the ordinary task of finding plants and turned it into something more. It didn’t take more than finding joy in the simple things, a little imagination, and getting our hands dirty to have a great adventure. And as we watch our vegetables grow this summer, we will be reminded of all the fun we had one spring day at a little greenhouse in Iowa.

So, whether it is Jones Nursery in Storm Lake or your own local greenhouse or plant store, go have an adventure. Take time to explore, play games, and discover how the ordinary can become extraordinary.