a country lemonade stand

Ivar has been asking for chores lately, trying to earn quarters. He has his eyes on Mack, the truck from the movie Cars that carries Lightening McQueen across the country to his races. We told him he could wait until his birthday, or try to earn the money to buy Mack on his own. So he has been working hard. If he checks for eggs each day for a week he gets a quarter. If he helps me unload the dishwasher he can sometimes earn a quarter. We try to come up with good tasks and he has been very helpful.

Earlier this week, Ivar was lamenting how long it was going to take him to get Mack and then Rory explained another way to earn quarters. "Ivar. There is another way to earn money. You offer something that someone else wants to buy. You work hard to make something and someone else will give you their quarters and you give them the thing you made."

Rory explained the concept of a lemonade stand, and when I came home that night they proudly showed me the sign they had worked so hard on.
Can you see the joy on this boy's face?!! He was so, so proud! Rory was teaching him what to say when the neighbors came. For each person he proudly said, "How can I help you? One dollar will give you two cookies and one cup of lemonade." Rory showed him how to give them their lemonade and cookies first, and then to take their quarters. And then to thank them for buying his lemonade. It was so, so awesome. And Ivar was a very good salesman.

The funny thing about having a lemonade stand in the country is that we rarely have cars drive by! So last night I emailed our neighbors telling them that we would be selling lemonade and cookies from 6-7pm. I wrote that Ivar was working towards purchasing a truck to hold his favorite cars and we'd love to see them.

As a result, the turnout was great. Lots of neighbors came at the same time and it turned into a little catch up for everyone. And we loved that it was just an hour. It was super muggy and our kids' interest was about an hour in length anyway. Ivar worked hard, Elsie ate a lot of cookies and I fielded lots of questions about being 37 weeks pregnant. (Check out the side profile of me below!)

It was only right before bedtime that Rory helped Ivar count his money and found that, combined with the money he had already earned through chores, he had enough money to buy Mack and to tithe on his earnings. Everyone was very, very pleased. And Ivar didn't fall asleep until 10:15.


Ivar and Elsie play marvelously together lately. Watching them come up with pretend play is the best:

For example, Baby Jesus and Baby Mary. They had a little dispute as to who got to be Baby Jesus, so one of them decided they could both be babies. These babies were quite adventurous. They were taking turns in a laundry basket shooting each other down the Nile. One day we'll sort all these Bible storylines out. Until then it's the best audio story I could ask for. They are hilarious.

When we're in the car, they are very competitive about what is on their side of the car. This has evolved over time into a celebration with Ivar yelling, "Yay! I have corn on my side!" And Elsie echoing, "Yay! I have soybeans on my side!"

I called upstairs, "what are you playing up there?"
Ivar ran to the top of the steps to tell me, "It's Pinky's (Elsie's blanket) birthday! But she's sick, so she's taking a nap for 10 minutes and we might have to cancel her party." (So hilarious because Ivar has had his last two birthday parties cancelled and rescheduled because of illness. Naturally that is just part of the pretend play now...)

We're really into band aids around here. If ever things get too quiet, it is quite common that an entire box of band aids have been found and used. Sometimes I see it as a waste of band aids, other times I see it as a good price to pay for a bit of quiet time.

your very own fruit farm

Our garden is overgrown with weeds again. I'm pretty sure we'll scale it way down next year because gardens are a ton of work. They're work to plant, to weed, to weed, to weed, to weed, to harvest and to prep for the next season. Even right now, I cannot keep up with my tomatoes. Because I'm just not up to the challenge. I'm even freezing them...but getting them picked and processed it just not happening!

I told Rory that I think either you need to be absolutely passionate about gardening or have your life depend on your garden lest you starve to death in order to maintain a garden this size. Without the burning fire inside of me, the work just doesn't get done.

But fruit. Fruit, people! Fruit is amazing. AMAZING. To be sure fruit takes some time on the front end. You don't get to harvest anything the first year. Maybe you get a quarter harvest the second year. And half a harvest the third year. But then you are in the money. I love the fruit on our farm more than any other part.
And that's what I'm hear to say today. Listen up. My very favorite parts of this farm are all things we could have done on our 1/8 acre property in Minneapolis. Scaled down a bit, but still just as worthwhile and honestly, a whole lot less work!

I believe everyone should have a few rows of raspberries along their garage. (Last night I posted the recipe for that Raspberry Pretzel Dessert...did you see that? It's so good!) And a few blueberry bushes on the side of their house. Everyone should have an apple tree or two somewhere (I can fully endorse Zestar apples so far. They are AMAZING.) And if you want to really go bonkers, throw in four hens in a coop for eggs. Obviously not a fruit, but then you will have covered all my favorite parts of the farm. In your own yard in the city or the suburbs.
And! My friend Lacy recently went plum picking, right here in Minnesota, and raved about them! The kind she picked were called Underwood and now we will definitely be adding plum trees to our little orchard. So you might want to throw a plum tree in while you're at it. (Those are blueberries pictured above...just didn't want to confuse anyone...)

All this to say, the parts of the farm that I love the very most do not require a farm. Sort of an ironic truth for me, and a pretty awesome one for you if you don't ever want to live on a farm! I do love it here, but also feel like it's my responsibility to pass along how able everyone is to do the things we're doing in their own backyard. So plan out your yard accordingly. And when your kids come in the house with a huge tupperware full of raspberries for everyone to put on their oatmeal in the morning, you can call and tell me "thank you for your passion for fruit." And I will feel happy.

Raspberry Pretzel Dessert: The Recipe

I put this picture up on both my blog here and on instagram and have had many requests for the recipe. Special shout out to Gail Olijnek, a family friend from church. She's the one who contributed this recipe to the awesome blue Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church Cookbook.

And now prepare yourself. This is one of the best recipes ever. It's salty, it's sweet, it's creamy, it's fruity, it's got lots of texture...it's just a winner.

First Layer:
2 c. crushed pretzels (I use Rold Gold little sticks, crushed in a big ziplock with a rolling pin.)
1 1/2 T. sugar
1 stick melted butter
Mix these three ingredients together and then pack in a 9x13 cake pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 325. Cool completely in the fridge.

Second Layer:
3/4 cup sugar
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz. cool whip
Beat sugar and cream cheese well. Gently fold in cool whip (mine never completely mixes together...the cool whip seems to deflate really fast...) Carefully spread over pretzels, trying to cover pretzel mixture completely.

Third Layer:
2 c. boiling water
2 (3oz) boxes raspberry jello
2-3 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)
Mix water and jello together and stir until completely dissolved. If using frozen raspberries add to the jello and allow to thicken. If using fresh raspberries, put jello mix in the fridge and allow to thicken. Then add the raspberries. (This whole thickening part is very important. I jumped the gun when we were first married and the jello seeped to the pretzels and made a mushy, soggy mess. Now I let my jello set pretty firm so it's even a little lumpy when I go to stir it up again before I put it on top of the second layer.) Then pour it on the cream mixture.

Refrigerate. Gail adds another spoonful of cool whip on top when she serves it, but I never have. 

It's best eaten within 24 hours. Over time the pretzels loose their crunch.
But we've never really had a pan last longer than 24 hours. This stuff is amazing!

the secret sauce to friendship

(This picture has nothing to do with this post, but I didn't get a single shot from Saturday night, and we did eat this raspberry pretzel dessert...so it will just have to do!)

I had a group of friends come over on Saturday night who brought greek food for a picnic dinner, unloaded and loaded my dishwasher, brought all the goods for a foot soak and pedicure and brought three hours of awesome, thoughtful conversation. It was dreamy.

These are friends I made while attending Cedar Valley Church in Bloomington. We were in a small group together from when I was pregnant with Ivar to when I was pregnant with Elsie. Sometime this past winter the mom's of the group started meeting up on one Friday night a month, me driving from the country meeting up in their neck of the woods. Their small group expanded and now there are seven of us who are either currently in or used to be in this small group.

We loved these friends when we were with them formally in the small group. But we were still at the infancy stages of relationship. We watched videos together and had spirited conversation. And we got to know each other. We ate good treats, walked through job transitions, laughed a lot and started building a friendship.

But it wasn't until we mom's met that first Friday night, just this winter, that I realized something huge about how friendships are formed. I was telling the story of how Ivar didn't care to walk until he was 18 months and how hilarious it was to have him three times the size of the other babies in the infant nursery at church because he couldn't graduate to the toddler nursery. Not until he walked. Which he was in no hurry to do. Finally he took his first steps...

And then someone broke into my story and reminded me, "we know. we were there!" And it's true. Ivar took his first steps at our small group. Surrounded by a group of adults in the youth room at our church, he walked clear across the rug right into our arms. And everyone cheered. It was epic!

I stopped telling my story, and was struck dumb with how awesome it was that these people remembered that milestone from years earlier, that I hardly remembered myself. And now, three years later, and (between us the seven of us) TWELVE kids later, we are still celebrating the milestones of one another. The secret sauce to these friendships is longevity. Time. Time together, shared experiences. Memories made even when I didn't know we were making them.

Saturday night will go down as another. The night they drove all the way to my farm to celebrate baby #3, to bring dinner, do my dishes, eat sour patch kids and raspberry pretzel dessert, to pray over me for my labor and delivery, and to pamper me. We'll add tonight to our list of shared memories and in time we will build more and more.