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Junkin’ in June: The Central Iowa Junk Jaunt


I know not all of my readers are local, but this weekend (June 27-29) is the perfect time to visit Central Iowa!

Junkin’ in June, the event that started it all, is always the last weekend in June, and my junky business, The HomeShed, will be a part of the action again this year!

I still have a ton of work to do to get ready for this sale – I’ve been pickin’ like a mad-woman and have a ton of new stuff to clean, mark and display – so no new pictures yet, but these pictures are from our last sale and give you an idea of the types of junk we sell!

2014-05-29 10.52.362014-05-30 10.21.302014-05-28 16.32.322014-06-20 17.41.402014-05-28 16.32.552014-05-28 16.33.32-12014-05-28 16.33.472014-05-29 16.24.222014-05-29 16.31.022014-05-29 16.30.11-12014-05-29 16.31.442014-05-29 16.32.332014-05-29 16.32.482014-05-30 08.24.432014-05-30 08.24.512014-05-30 10.20.352014-05-30 10.20.432014-05-30 10.21.06

Junk not your style? The HomeShed is located at Red Granite Farm, and in addition to fresh produce, Nicole just ordered hundreds of new perennials!  Of course, I’ve already nabbed a few for my yard, but there are some left for you, too. (This persicaria is going in front of my kitchen window! Can’t wait!)

So come on out and see us – we love to see our old friends and meet new ones on these big sale weekends!

Upper Elementary/Middle Grades Summer Reading List


Ah, summer. 

Chasing fireflies, afternoons by the pool, baseball games…and brains that slowly turn to mush.

Did you know that some kids regress as much as two months or more in reading achievement over the summer?  But there’s an easy way to keep kids caught up – a little summer reading.

summer reading list

As a 4th-6th grade Title I reading teacher, I was always looking for good books for my middle grade readers.  I know that fantasy is all the rage, but fantasy can be a tough read, too…long books, weird names, and make-believe worlds.

So here are a few alternatives – books that I recommend to middle grade/upper elementary readers – and as a bonus, the adults I know that have read these books loved them, too.


WestingGame1 The Westing Game (Puffin Modern Classics) by Ellen Raskin

I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book, but it was amazing! So clever and great for boys or girls.  I read it with two 6th grade boys who struggled with reading, and with a little help, they loved it, too! (Official recommendation Age Level: 10 - 18 | Grade Level: 5 – 8)

chasing vermeer Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett 

Another seriously clever book! Chasing Vermeer is a mystery with many levels of understanding for a variety of kids. The unlikely friendships and unlikely heroes were favorites when I read this aloud to my 4th grade students, too. (Official recommendation | Age Level: 8 - 12 | Grade Level: 3 – 7)

Ella_enchanted_(book_cover) Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine 

Although most of the boys I taught wouldn’t have chosen this book on their own, that didn’t stop them from loving it!  Ella is a strong female lead – one who breaks free of the chains that bind her in the end. (Official recommendation | Age Level: 8 - 12 | Grade Level: 3 – 7)

Almost-Super_final Almost Super by Marion Jensen

This brand new book by a brand new author is amazing for super hero fans. I read it to my own son this winter, and we both adored it.  A superhero story, yes, but also a story of friendship and believing in yourself. (Official recommendation | Age Level: 8 - 12 | Grade Level: 3 – 7)


A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

What can I say about this book? It makes me laugh, and I love it!  Alice’s grandma reminds me of my own grandma, and I’ll re-read this book over and over thinking of her.  Oh, and the 6th graders I read it with loved it, too.  (Official recommendation | Age Level: 10 - 14 | Grade Level: 5 – 8)

esperanza rising

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Another historical fiction, like A Year Down Yonder, but this one is the story of a young Mexican immigrant in the American Southwest. Esperanza is also a strong female lead, who becomes the leader her family needs in times of despair.  I read this to my 4th graders, as well, and just like Ella Enchanted, although the boys wouldn’t have chosen this themselves, I think it’s safe to say that they thoroughly enjoyed it. (Official recommendation | Age Level: 8 - 12 | Grade Level: 3 – 7)

holes Holes by Louis Sachar

Amazing. Smart. Clever.  A story of kids rising above the odds and their circumstances. I’ve read it several times and wouldn’t mind reading it several more. It’s that good. (Official recommendation | Age Level: 9 - 12 | Grade Level: 4 – 7)

What other favorites should I add to my list?

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Linked up to Twitterature at Modern Mrs. Darcy

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

I'm part of an amazing leadership class that combines agricultural leaders with urban leaders. As we introduced ourselves, I met several kindred spirits...and Sheree.

When I heard Sheree's introduction, I was certain we wouldn't be friends. In fact, I was pretty sure we were enemies.

Whenever  I meet someone new, I automatically start looking for what have in common. But I didn't have anything in common with her.

Sheree is a raw vegan chef. I'm a livestock farm wife at who eats a lot of turkey (and bacon.)

Strike 1.

She has no kids. My kids took up most of my introduction.

Strike 2.

Our backgrounds, childhood and education were completely different.

Strike 3.

But as our time together went on, I realized that I was *gulp* wrong. Sheree is not an enemy.2014-06-06 11.44.59

Turns out, she wasn't nearly as closed minded as I was. She was able to find something we had in common: passion and dedication to something that is special to us.  Yes, our "specialties" are sort of contradictory.  But Sheree's open-mindedness has led me to be more open-minded as well.

Sheree's okay with my food choices, and I'm learning to be okay with hers. I have tried a few of her recipes and watched her tv show (Fork in the Road.) And she's patiently listened to me talk about how much I love my farm and sharing my story of agriculture.

Somehow, despite our differences, we have become friends...friends who respect each other's views and even help support each other's goals.

So, the moral of the story is this: have an open mind. Don't judge a book by its cover. Look for the best in people and celebrate that.

And then, maybe, we can all be friends.

Baby Turkey Day By the Numbers

20,000 poults (baby turkeys)

2,000 crates of 100 birds


6500+ drinkers

414 feeders


256 supplemental feeders for the first two weeks

192 supplemental drinkers for the first two weeks


86 degrees farenheit inside the barn

32 heaters

32 cardboard rings to keep the turkeys close to the heaters for the first two weeks

4 inches wood shavings


4 adults on the crew (Bart, me, Josh the Farm Assistant and neighbor Wes)

IMG_8838-5041(rev 0)

2 pint sized helpers (Adam, 5)


(Isaac, 3)



One Family Farm


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