Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Best Part of Paris

Yep, still thinking about it and I keep it on my I-Phone so when I run across it I get very happy...the Eiffel Tower lights up every night...and every half hour it sparkles, yes sparkles for 5 minutes (used to be 10, but the economy has limited the time).

Hope this makes you smile like it does me....Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

White Cake Mix Cookies Two Ways

Last summer I shared a recipe with you for cake mix cookies. Today I was at the farm and cooked dinner for my brother and sister-in-law and was looking for something for dessert. Mom had a box of white cake mix in the cabinet so I thought it would be perfect since my brother doesn't like chocolate and my sister-in-law and I do I could modify half the recipe for each tastes.

I made the recipe just as I did with the Luscious Lemon Cookies but in half the batter I left plain and added sprinkles to the top since he is a sprinkle fan...on the other half I added mini m&m's that mom had in the freezer. The cookies were soft and the chocolate was perfectly gooey.

Just remember you can use any kind of cake mix and add any flavors to the mixture, it takes an hour to bake up an entire bowl of is easy! Great to do with kids as well.

With sprinkles for the brother...

batter with the mini m&m's
Finished product on mom's Pampered Chef stackable cooling racks...if you don't have them you need to get them!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blogshelf I-Pad App

I found a great app for my I-Phone/I-Pad called Blogshelf, it takes all your favorite blogs that you follow...puts them in a bookshelf type format so you can scroll through them easily. The really cool part is that it will download the latest blog posts and you can read them off-line, like when you are on a plane. Genius!

The first page of my Blogshelf!

This is what each blog looks like...this is from My Little Fashion Diary

This is what each post looks like...this is from Atlantic/Pacific

Saturday, July 23, 2011

National Day of the Cowboy

Well I am pretty excited about this day...National Day of the Cowboy...knowing me, most people would know why. I fancy myself a cowgirl from time to time, mostly when I am at the farm like I am today. But there are other times when I am roping I also feel very cowboyish. I am also excited because two of the biggest rodeos on US soil are going on right now...the Cheyenne Frontier Days and the National High School Rodeo Finals...both of which I have been to and wish I was at either of them right now, but I'm watching the high school finals via webcast as I type so it is almost like I am there.

My dad headed out to ride through the herd to
check for any sick cattle.

If we are honoring the cowboy, where did he cowboy come from anyway?

Cowboy is pretty much a North American term for someone who uses a horse to tend to and w
wrangle cattle. The term descended from the Mexican vaquero traditions for those doing ranch work with cattle or also to compete in rodeo competition and first was used in the present day United States territory in 1725, but it took until the 19th century before cowgirl was a recognized term. It is interesting that a very American viewed activity or way of life actually originated from Spanish/Mexican way of raising cattle.

A cowboy's or cowgirl's view in this case on a modern
day cattle drive.

We often think of cowboys like John Wayne who drive large herds of cattle across the Rio Grande to big open fields of grass as movie hero's, but the reality is that is how it happened. Looking for more grass and land, the 'open range' mentality of moving herds to where the grass was took root in the 1800's. Open range means there were no fences to keep the cattle in one place, it was the cowboy's job to move them to a location and keep them there until it was time to move them again or for round up. Many cattle from different herds were mixed together in these open range situations so the art of branding took place to each animal was easily identified to their owner. During round ups they would sort out individual brands before shipping cattle to market. Also during roundup they could brand the young calves, castrate the bull calves and doctor any animals that needed medical aid. These are often known as branding parties and still take place today in many parts of the western US. Both the round up and brandings took a very experienced cowboy, someone who was good with a horse, good with a rope and understood how a cow was going to react or move in certain situations. Many modern day rodeo events derived from round up or branding activities.

Modern day working cowboys are very similar to those back in the 18th and 19th centuries but with a higher level of sophistication. Cowboys still tend to their cattle, provide food and care for those in need and often still on horseback but some have modern working facilities and electronic record keeping systems that makes it easier than it was back on the open range. Most identifiable today is probably the rodeo cowboy. Rodeo cowboys are professional athletes who compete in rodeo or round up style competitions for prize money. Some of today's rodeo cowboys are also working cowboys, but many are not.
My brother and family friend team roping at a competition
summer 2010.
There are other identifiable items of the cowboy culture including the cowboy hat and boots that have taken off into main-stream fashion and appear on the run-way from time to time. But they are still very practical pieces of work wear for those who spend their days tending to the cattle and the land.

So next time you are flipping through the channels and run across an old western, stop for a moment and honor the American Cowboy in honor of the National Day of the Cowboy.

For more information and sourcing on my information above you can visit here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ag Fact of the Week

Compared to 1950 we produce 333% more corn on 11% more acres. That is 4.3 times more corn on only 11% more acres. What is corn in? Well what is corn not in is a better question.

Here is a short list of items that have corn product in them:

From the Ontario Corn Growers
Adhesives (glues, pastes, mucilages, gums, etc.)


Antibiotics (penicillin)

Asbestos insulation


Automobiles (everything on wheels)

xxx- cylinder heads

xxx- ethanol - fuel & windshield washer fluid

xxx- spark plugs

xxx- synthetic rubber finishes

xxx- tires

Baby food

Batteries, dry cell


Breakfast cereals


Canned vegetables

Carbonated beverages

Cheese spreads

Chewing gum

Chocolate products

Coatings on wood, paper & metal

Colour carrier in paper & textile, printing

Corn chips

Corn meal


C.M.A. (calcium magnesium acetate)

Crayon and chalk

Degradable plastics

Dessert powders

Dextrose (intravenous solutions, icing sugar)

Disposable diapers


Edible oil

Ethyl and butyl alcohol

Explosives - firecrackers

Finished leather

Flour & grits Frozen foods


Fuel ethanol

Gypsum wallboard

Ink for stamping prices in stores


Instant coffee & tea

Insulation, fibreglass

James, jellies and preserves


Latex paint

Leather tanning


Livestock feed

Malted products



Mustard, prepared

Paper board, (corrugating, laminating, cardboard)

Paper manufacturing

Paper plates & Cups

Peanut butter

Pharmaceuticals - The Life Line of The Hospital

Potato chips

Rugs, carpets

Salad dressings

Shaving cream & lotions

Shoe polish

Soaps and cleaners

Soft drinks

Starch & glucose (over 40 types)


Tacos, tortillas




Wheat bread



Source: USDA/ERS & The Center for Food Integrity
1950 - 3 billion bushels of corn on 72 million acres
2009 - 13 billion bushels of corn on 80 million acres

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grilled Caprese Pizza

So who has a plethora of tomatoes and basil this time of the year? Well if you do, first pile up some to bring to me so I can make some salsa, mine aren't quite ready yet...then go out to the store buy some refrigerated pizza dough (or if you are really ambitious make your own, but lets be honest it is too hot for that), garlic if you don't have it in your pantry and fresh mozzarella and be prepared to excite your taste buds!

The ingredients
Grilled Caprese Pizza (serves 2)
1/2 can refrigerated pizza dough (pull the dough out, unroll it, cut it in half and roll the remainder up in plastic wrap and store in a sealed zip lock baggie in the refrigerator)
2 tomatoes (I used heirlooms I picked up at the grocery store) thinly sliced
1 small ball of smoked mozzarella thinly sliced
3-4 basil leaves (roll them together and cut into thin strips)
1 clove garlic
olive oil

Crush one garlic clove into 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside while slicing tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Pre-heat the grill to high heat, oil the side of the dough that you will put down first. Turn the grill down to medium-low before putting the dough on the grill and oil the grates with a papertowel. Place oil side down and grill with the grill lid open for 3-4 minutes or until crusty and grill marks appear. While grilling the first side brush the top side with oil. When flipping I recommend using tongs and a large metal grill turner and work quickly (it is key to make sure the bottom side is cooked because it will turn easier) flip the dough and arrange the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil and brush the edge of the pizza with the oil again. Close the lid of the grill to let the mozzarella heat up and melt, approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove onto a giant platter or cutting board, cut into squares and serve. Total time this takes is probably 30 minutes.
Doesn't this look delish! The grill marks are awesomeness...

If you want to make this for more people I still recommend using 1/2 the pizza dough so it is easier to work with on the grill.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ag Fact of the Week

Compared to 1950, we produce 176% more pork per sow (that is a female pig that produces babies) with 44% of the total number of sows*...

For those of you bacon lovers this is some great news!

*Source: University of Missouri Commercial Ag Swine Team, Ray Massey

Friday, July 8, 2011

Devils Thumb Ranch

This past week I've been at a work planning meeting in picturesque Colorado. I don't know what is more torture going to Colorado in the beautiful summer knowing I'm going back to Missouri's temperature and humidity on Friday or being in Colorado when the weather is so nice and being stuck in a meeting room with no windows all day long. But regardless, the meetings were good, but we also had a great time at the location...Devil's Thumb Ranch.

I was introduced to DTR by friends of mine a few years back when we had dinner here one night for a birthday celebration and fell in love. This place looks amazing and just as you would expect nestled in a valley in between two mountain ranges. The staff is very accommodating and the food is interesting, but great.

This is a great place for a corporate retreat, family reunion, romantic weekend or even a wedding. Here is a pictorial walk-through of the experience that we had. Some of these photos have been edited with Instagram and if you follow me on Twitter they have been posted on there this week. If you don't follow me on twitter and would like to look for travelcowgirl.

Wildflowers on the balcony at the lodge overlooking the mountains. Edited with Instagram.

Storm rolling in from the west and heading over the mountain to Boulder. Each day we had a little storm roll-up but didn't affect our enjoyment at all.

The only foal on the farm. He was born in a snow storm on April 30th and will be losing the tips of his ears from what I can tell when I was petting him. Just give him a little more character! Edited with Instagram.

Shoulder brand on one of the draft horses...edited with Instagram.

We had smores on the back patio...edited with Instagram.
Back in the lodge, my bathroom. It was amazing!

View from my window, which I kept open 24-7.

Tuesday night we had a private dinner at John L.'s Wine was chef's choice and he did an awesome job. The scallop appetizer shown above was so good 4 of the guys ordered a second helping.

Our last night we took a wagon ride...the guides gave us good history and detail on the ranch.

The wagon teams. They have a total of 3 pairs.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ag Fact of the Week

If we went back to farming like we did in 1950, with the same number of farms as we have today, we could only feed the states of California and Texas.

If you don't live in those two states, then when you eat dinner tonight, think of the companies who have advanced technology and a farmer who has embraced them!

Source: The Center for Food Integrity Presentation by Clif Becker - Data from US Census Bureau and American Farm Bureau

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Part of MY Americana

Yesterday I was so excited I got to go down and watch one of my 'nephews' (my friend Christy's son) ride his pony Misty in their very first parade. Now my nephew Jasper is 3 and I said their first parade because he hasn't ridden in one before but Misty has a few years on her (a lady never tells her true age) and I believe is a parade veteran.

Parades are an icon of Americana to me. Maybe that is because I grew up participating in my hometown's parade in a variety of ways from riding my horse through or walking through with the cheerleading squad. I love going to parades and watching the veterans post the colors, the antique cars, tractors and fire trucks, kids dressed up in costumes on their bicycles, marching bands, and the horse exhibits.

Here are a bunch of pictures from the parade...this is true Americana to me. Thanks Drexel, MO for keeping traditions alive!

Christy putting vet wrap on Misty for patriotic legs as Jasper oversees!

Saddling up!

Everyone waiting for the big moment under a nice shade tree. Misty is ready to roll!
This man loves John Deere...too bad I don't, but interesting.

I love old Fire Trucks!

The right kind of brother has a restored H.
The main attraction...cousin Jacoby, Jasper and Misty and Pa.

Love this kid...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cowboy Christmas

This weekend is deemed Cowboy Christmas by the rodeo community...the 4th of July weekend typically has an extreme amount of rodeos going on with good added money (sponsor money that is added above and beyond the pot contributed by the entry fees from the contestants) and cowboys and cowgirls meticulously map out their schedule and routes to maximize the number of rodeos and quality (based on added money) of rodeos they attend. It can be a very lucrative weekend for a cowboy or cowgirl, when you are "on" during Cowboy Christmas it is a very good thing. In the professional side of the sport, Cowboy Christmas can make or break your chances at making the finals in Vegas in December.

I've always thought why is the 4th of July was so popular for rodeos and I think the answer is pretty simple. Rodeo is the original all-American past time (sorry baseball). It is a wholesome sport that is filled with mostly good people with family values honoring a way of life that still holds true for a portion of the US. Kids still grow up wanting to be cowboys and cowgirls. There is a lot of tradition in rodeo.

It is a tradition that some of these communities and small towns have been hosting 4th of July rodeos for 30 or 40 years and families have been attending those rodeos for that long as well. They are well supported by the communities they are in and the communities are proud to have them in their town.

It is tradition that there is a prayer before each rodeo performance, asking god to protect the cowboys, the horses, the stock, the arena personnel, the fans.

It is a tradition that the American flag is proudly displayed, often by a rodeo queen before the rodeo begins. Often she will lead the contestants into the arena with the flag for what is called the Grand Entry basically a display of all the cowboys and cowgirls before the rodeo begins. I love the Grand a contestant I almost always rode in the Grand Entry and as a past rodeo queen it was awesome to carry the American flag or follow whatever friend I had conned into carrying the flag that particular performance.

Posting of the colors at a Missouri High School Rodeo in 1998. I'm somewhere in the middle of this photo.

It is a tradition that families spend the 4th of July together attending and competing in rodeos. My parents and I went to White Cloud, KS to watch my sister-in-law and brother compete on Saturday night and were able to see many friends in our rodeo family.

I hope you were able to take in a rodeo this weekend or will have a chance sometime before the end of summer. I also hope all my rodeo friends had a safe and lucrative weekend!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

How the Floods May Affect You - Part 2

This post got long, sorry...I like to break them up but couldn't find a good place to break. If you get bored reading, at least take a look at some of the incredible photos some of my friends have taken of the floods.

Let’s talk about the great state of Missouri for a little bit…we rank in the top 10 in national production in soybeans, cotton, grain sorghum and corn based on a 2009 survey with 29 million acres, 66% of the state’s total land use. Back to the Bird’s Point Levee break back in May, FAPRI (the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute) published an estimation that ‘southeast Missouri farmers lost $85 million in potential crop value…’ when the levee was blown up, this does not account for long-term economic impact of the decision. The Corp of Engineers is being blamed for the agricultural flooding that has been seen in many areas of the Midwest, but especially at Birds Point in southeast Missouri where approximately 2 miles of levee was blown up in result flooding of 130,000 acres of rich, fertile farmland versus allowing the levee to break naturally and potentially flooding a small Illinois town of 2, a lot of reports I have read and talked to ag suppliers in that area that some of those were 100 year family farms and some may never return to production. This blog is not to blame the Corp but just to provide facts about the ramifications of the flooding for most every American. Now I would be happy to debate the topic with anyone, I've not been a conspiracy theorist long...but I have my own theories on this one many of which have been discussed in a larger forum, just not today and not on this blog.

Due to another decision made by the Corp in the Dakotas farmers in northwest Missouri are also dealing with severe flooding as farmers in southeast Missouri did just a short 60 days ago. Water released from the over flowing Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota/Nebraska has made its way down to northwest Missouri where based on The Latest Situation Report 6-29-2011 from the Holt County, Missouri’s facebook page for 32 miles of continuous river for 32 miles, 11 miles wide at the widest point and totals 165,000 acres, not all of which can be considered production farm acres. Some perspective on the almost 70 year old dam release that has sent thousands scattering from homes is release approximately 150-thousand cubic feet every second, based on a report from Sioux City, IA KTIV that would fill 2.1 million, 2-liter soda bottles ever second, EVERY SECOND. Completely amazing but that is away from my point, as this water heads south we will see more farm land, planted farm land that won’t show up on the USDA planting report as unplanted acres become flooded and removed from production. Planted farm land that now looks like this:

Photo from Lindsey Smith, near Hamburg, IA

Photo from Jessica Keith

Photo from Lindsey Smith - I-29
Photo from Jeff Dalbey - Corning, MO

Can you imagine working on a project for 4-5 months, planning, prepping, taking the first few steps just to have it all taken away from you by something that may or may not have been preventable? I cannot. It makes me sick to think of all hard work that went into planting these fields and now they are nothing and will require an immense amount of work to prepare to get them back into production for 2012, if that is even possible. Not only is this happening in northwest Missouri, but this photo is from Kim Piepmeier in Lexington, east of Kansas City and the sad part is that water is still coming down and the river is still rising.

Photo from Kim Piepmeier - Lexington, MO

Photo from Kim Piepmeier - Lexington, MO

Again I realize I’m off total point which is what is the impact on the average consumer? In the state of Missouri a report from AgEbb shows that a 5 year average for corn production is 139.6 bushels/acre. If we assume that half of the acres that have been flooded to-date and will not be in production in 2011 to be 147,500 acres that could have produced 139.6 bushels/acre which would be around 20.6 million bushels of corn.

What could we do with 20.6 million bushels of corn
658 million pounds of corn starch for cooking
51 million gallons of ethanol
680 million pounds of sweetener

Friday, July 1, 2011

How the Floods May Affect You - Part 1

This is going to be a little different blog post than my normal light-hearted posts because I want to talk about a topic that is being discussed every day in all media sources, but I want to talk about more than just water breaking through levees and water destroying homes which both are horrible events. I think that right now we don't know what the complete impact of this flooding is to the average consumer or even the farm families directly affected. This post is not about me blaming anyone for what is happening, even though I have my own theories...I just want to have an opportunity for people to think about how the floods can affect the average person and everyday consumer, again even though we have no idea at the infancy point of flooding, especially in MO when it will end and what will truly happen inthe long run.

Tonight I want to start at the top where I would consider the situation that they are in as acts of God abnormal rain fall coupled with heavy snowpack has put a portion of North Dakota underwater (exact figure I am unable to find, sorry) and based on the 2007 census 89.8% of the total land is farm land with 87.8% of that farmland owned by individuals and/or families. Based on the National Agricultural Statistics Service who collects data on crops planted and their status across the country, reported today that local USDA offices ‘have been widely quoted saying that 6.3 million acres of North Dakota cropland alone will probably not be planted this year.’ Even though the USDA report that came out today said that crop acreage is only down by 1.5 million acres, regardless that is a lot of acres not in production this year. North Dakota produces 16.5% of all the wheat produced in the US and for those of you thinking that you can live without bread or pasta (especially since 50% of all durum wheat is produced in North Dakota), how do you feel about 35.7% of all barley coming from the state?

What exactly does this mean to you? This is going to be the theme of the flood series, because I think it is important to bring this down to the level of all consumers. Yes I do want everyone to feel badly for farmers and the farm families and those that work in agriculture because it is a horrible thing that they are going through and I am only thankful that my family isn't affected by this particular disaster.
Let's figure that the low number 1.5 million acres will not be into production, and let's figure that would have been durum wheat production. An average bushel per acre for North Dakota wheat is 35 bushels/acres and one bushel can create 42 pounds of traditional pasta. That is 2.2 billion pounds of traditional pasta. Now you all see how I got to these facts and how the figures came to be, they are not statically accurate or should be reused in an economic discussion, they are for demonstration only. I won't even go down the beer route fully, but an acre of barley in North Dakota produces 27,232 bottles of beer. Yikes!
Here are a couple of pictures from a sales rep that I work with in North Dakota.  

Photo courtesy of Steve Pickle, Fargo, ND

Photo courtesy of Steve Pickle, Fargo, ND
A photo from a Minot resident back in mid-May. The flooding is not only affecting people, but also the wildlife.

Tomorrow - Bird's Point and NWMO

Old Time Photos

We all have them...well I guess those of us who grew up close enough to Branson or touristy areas in Colorado or out west have had them taken...usually when we were children dressed as cowboys or Indians or prairie people.

A few years ago in Branson with my mom, Grandma Warner, Aunt Lisa, Aunt Pam and Cousin Jackie we had an old time photo taken at a place that will remain nameless that was ok, but only gave us one photo in a gangster time period so the costumes were great, but mine might have been a little too low cut for Grandma so she colored it in with ink pen. When we returned to Branson this past weekend I suggested we take another photo because we were due and because my sister-in-law came this year as well.

We went to Miss Julie's Old Time Photo. They don't have a website but they have multiple locations along 76 with the one we stopped at located at 1205 W. Hwy 76 Country Music Blvd, Branson, MO 65616. They were awesome...they had multiple sets and a wide variety of clothing and props. We took more than 60 photos in three different sets in multiple groups, all of us with Grandma, the aunts/mom alone and with Grandma, all the granddaughters, my aunt and cousin, and my mom, my sister in law and myself.

Here are a few shots of the photo shoot...the best part was that for a little extra money we were able to buy the entire CD of pictures and I could edit them as I wanted. I used to get the old time photo look to them. They also gave me a release form so I could go to my favorite photo album site and get the photos printed or put into an album.

The Wild Acklin Girls

Ladies in the parlor...guns ready

Enough said...

Madame Grandma and her ladies
Would you mess with this? I wouldn't!