nah nah nah nah life goes on.

Life often gets in the way or complicates a lot of things. I set out in 2015 to focus on the balance in my life; financially, spiritually, emotionally, health, knowledge, & growth. I wear many hats in life and it’s time I balance the chaos with more things I enjoy. Gardening, reading, hooping, traveling, taking photos. I am working very hard to accomplish a life for myself above and beyond waiting tables and slinging drinks. Although a respectable career, it’s not the life I dream for myself or want to spend the rest of my days doing. That being said I’m constantly focused on aspirations above what I’ve achieved in life thus far. Nine Photography & Design is my photography business out of Des Moines, Iowa and I’m very proud of the growth and time I’ve spent building a business with my great friend, Megan. Life will resume and inevitably skip off track a time or two, but eventually in the end things always figure themselves out. My sincerest apologies for the abandonment of my blog, but winter blues caught hold of me and led me off track. March, dreadlocks, a new laptop and sixty degree temperatures put motivation and a sense of hope back in my heart that I’ve been waiting for. I promise things will regain strength and balance. I look forward to learning so much this summer and sharing it with you between the double shifts, road trips, photography sessions, weddings, gardening, walking the dog, and camping. Oh and eventually turning 30!

the crawford farm

Upon my arrival at the Crawford’s farm I was greeted by the eldest child, Lily, who was waving wildly with a huge, eager grin. She sported a knitted top with stripped leggings and a green stripped cardigan and bright tennis shoes with a half toothless smile. She ushered me indoors where her mom and two younger siblings, one in a homemade Bat4man costume, waited for us. As Mae and I introduced ourselves the kids were champing at the bit to find out what exactly I was there for. Although I wasn’t there to write a book like Lily hoped, I was there to discuss the very exciting plans for the Crawford farm land. Before the kids’ Grandma got there to pick them up I asked Miss Lily what she wanted me to know about their farm-as the written words escaped her-I asked her to draw me a picture of why she loves her far. She used my pen to draw beautiful trees, then promptly pulled out crayons to fill in her trees, sky, and grass. As we spoke, baby Crawford ate, and “Batman” sat at the table, patient but ready for Grandma to arrive.

Soon Chet arrived home from work and Grandma came to take the older two for the evening. Mae took the change to give me a tour of their cozy, simplistic home. I appreciated the hardwood floors, bare kitchen counters, and chalkboard in the living room for home school. As we ventured around the house I was subtly reminded of the farm house I lived in for 4 years with my grandparents in SW Iowa. Mae’s sewing room looked over their plot and filled with sun light. Adorable rompers hung from a shelf, hopefully soon to be shopped out to a gracious customer. Mae is owner of Mae & Co., do yourself a favor and check out her handy work, she makes sewing look easy and her stuff is so damn cute. As we ventured outdoors we brought the family dog along, who seemed just as excited to show me the best part, all the land!

We followed the1 dog toward the back of the house, walking over what I assume was or possibly still is a cellar. We came upon a pond that was tucked up against a path of pines. From there you could look down a small hill where their garden will be planted in the spring. As we continue between the trees it opened up to a wood pile for a fire with a field as it’s backdrop. Beyond the overgrown field, Mae told me, was where peach trees resided. We talked about gardening, orchards, and farm animal plans; cloth diapers, home schooling, cuss words, and mutual friend we discovered we had, wineries, festivals, and sewing. As I drove away from their house I was already excited to see them again and the hard work they had planned to put into their land. I’m already find this blog to be a success, both socially and knowledge wise. The motivation and inspiration in just the first month leaves me with a filled heart and open mind to everything.

You contact Mae at her Etsy shop and her blog, The Life of a Compulsive Crafter23

Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure in Des Moines Iowa

When I started dreaming of this blog I wanted to incorporate local businesses that did great things for their community (using local products, staffed local, and involved in the Des Moines area). My first thought was ZANZIBAR’S!!! Owner, Julie, and I played e-mail tag for a week or so and finally made it through the holidays where we could make plans to meet each other and this is the aw5esomeness that came of our meeting.

First, let me begin by saying that Zanzibar’s has the best coffee in Des Moines, Iowa, hands down, and I will leg wrestle anyone who disagrees. Secondly, regardless of the least desirable parking, I will wedge my semi-new car between traffic to get my coffee and rosemary bagel (to sum it up, I’ll fist fight someone for good coffee, you have been warned). Thirdly, the clientele blows my mind-the diversity and sense of community would bring me back even if the coffee was mediocre. Last time I sat and enjoyed coffee at their wonderful spot on Ingersoll, I sat next to a gentleman in scrubs (hey hey!), a father and son were sharing a pastry, and there was even a time I brought a date here, which is a big step to share your favorite coffee spot. That’s my top 3, albeit, there’s plenty more reasons to keep me coming back.

I met with the owner, Julie, on a beautiful Friday afternoon in January. Julie was kind enough to reschedule with me after my dog took off for a couples hours to tour our Beaverdale neighborhood without permission that previous Wednesday. I purchased an Americana, my go tot beverage of choice, and I sat at a comfy table for two towards the front of the building where light floods in through the stained glass that over looks their wonderful collection of plants. Let me be honest, any place that displays house plants are part of their decor makes me feel at home and happy. We started our conversation by getting down to business, exactly how I like to get down.

Julie started Zanzibar’s in August of 1993, a big on taking with the floods of ’93 still on people’s minds, aft4er working at a shop in Southern California-she pauses to thank a patron as they leave. After deciding Southern Cali wasn’t for her she came back to Iowa to be close to family and open a shop, she knew the support and need for a shop of this kind of local shop would be found here. Although, her intention and motivation wasn’t to stay here that’s since changed and she’s proud of her community. Julie’s been roasting coffee beans since they’ve opened-pretty much-their roaster arrived late, just a while after opening, but since it arrived she’s been roasting beans like her job depends on it…oh wait. She said at any given time they have thirty to forty varieties of blends to sell. I, as an indecisive shopper, find that to be more than enough options. I enjoy their house blend, but Julie suggests trying an Ethiopian, unique, full flavored, although you shouldn’t limit yourself to trying new things.

Recently, a friend showed me a airo press, which I’m very interested in trying and Julie reassured me makes a wonderful cup of coffee. Just as a testament to how much Zanzibar’s is loved locally, this same friend told me he likes me even more knowing that Zanzibar’s is my favorite. I’m okay with the judgement, coffee is important to my lively hood – and NO that’s not being dramatic. Personally, Julie a2nd I both enjoy our french presses, but I’m willing to try anything that doesn’t include Folgers or a pot that has a timer on it.

While I was in Washington in early December I took Zanzibar’s with me, yeah yeah, the coffee capitol of the US and I took coffee. I did make it to two shops, one where I had a vanilla honey and rose latte. Usually, I don’t need fancy coffee, but hot damn it was delicious. Don’t get me wrong, I occasionally love a soy mocha or foo-foo latte, but I’ll be honest, I love my coffee to taste like coffee. Julie enjoys a traditional cappuccino, frothy foam and all-what you thought cappuccinos came from a machine at Casey’s? You are wrong.
I spoil myself with a rosemary bagel from time to time, but these aren’t made in house. Don’t fret, everything is made local-the farthest being from Atlantic, Iowa, but let’s settle this now- Iowa is local, no matter what corn1er of the state you come from. Being from a smaller town in SW Iowa, an hour and a half drive isn’t far. Shout out to my small business gal, Mrs. Mimi’s in Atlantic, Iowa. I find it comforting that she describes her clientele as an eclectic and diverse group of people. She also says her business is like a second home and that makes me smile because we’re not all bless to feel that way about our jobs.

As a local person I’m always interested in what people love about their community and where they go and what they do.
Julie enjoys more rummage shopping than retail shopping, but she frequents Back Country Outfitters & Eden. As a busy gal she finds herself shopping more on vacations, but will head down to Pella for shoe store she loves there. She also likes to wander around the East Village and Valley Junctions. Food, like me, depends on mood. There are a lot of great choices in DSM, so my list is extensive as well. Julie’s includes: Thai Flavors, A-Dong, Indian Star, local taco trucks, and Django. I personally approve any of these choices, but ethnic food any time makes me a happy girl.

Head over to see Julie and her staff at Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure at 2723 Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312 or at their website zanzibarscoffee.com  3

peanut butter & banana dog treats

After my dog, Marley’s, last vet visit I was informed that he’s gained about 7 pounds since his adoption a year ago. Poor guy! So the vet put him on a diet and since then my entire household has been put on a more portioned and realistic food lifestyle, including the binge eating cats. Marley is a pit bull beagle mix…I think. He might be a bulldog beagle mix, but I’m not sure and it doesn’t much matter. The fact of the matter is, he’s now 6 years old and needs a little less weight on his bones so that he can get around until he’s 11 or 12!! I like dirty old men, so I need him around for ages.1

With that being said, I searched high and low for some great alternatives for treats for my husky pup (we don’t fat shame in this house!!). I went straight to Pinterest <—click there for my page- and searched for something that would include more healthy fruits and veggies to include in my dude’s diet. I was surprised with some of the complicated recipes I found and then astonished by the really easy ones that seemed too easy to be good, but then again, he eats cat poop, how good do they have to be? I found the most wonderful recipe for peanut butter banana flax seed dog biscuits from Lola The Pitty and Marley is a HUGE fan. I didn’t try them, but I think he might like them better than cat shit!
Look how simple these ingredients are! I was lucky enough to have all of these on hand any way, but really they’re easy peasy. Disregard my awesome photo set up or vinegar, progesterone cream, and butter…life is messy and so am I.

Lola The Pitty used dog bone shaped cookie cutters, but I didn’t have one and these are for his healthy heart so it worked out. How freaking cute are these? I mean, they smell so yummy and Marley LOVES peanut butter. We have so much in common, he and I. PB & love of cuddling is on my long list5.

OKAY, so here we go with the making of these scrumptious dog biscuits.
First off, gather your ingredients. I find this to be important no matter if you’re cooking for a dog or human.
What you’ll need:
Time…again, that pesky time necessity. Super lame, but needed to complete.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 banana, mashed – I might have used a little more than half
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp ground flax seed – I’m a slacker and didn’t grind them
1/4 cup almond milk (unsweetened) <—–because your pup is already the sweetest little sweety on the block

Oh and a rolling pin and cookie cutter of your choice. Originally I was going to pick a star or pumpkin (I have mini cutters for every holiday from pampered chef) and a proper working space. My tiny kitchen is always an ordeal to cook in, but I love it, so whatevs. Don’t forget to see the original recipe at Lola The Pitty, I just can’t give them enough praise.

Onward…
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F3
2. Combine all of your ingredients into a medium or large mixing bowl
3. Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed together
4. Roll out that goodness on a floured surface for about 1/4 inch of dough. Use your cookie cutter to cut out desired shapes. I used every last bit of the dough to make a bunch of biscuits. I got more than Lola’s 24 because my cutter was smaller-okay with me-grumbled over by Marley the starving dog
5. Put your cut out pieces on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. I have an apartment sized oven in my house, so sometimes things don’t take quite as long as the recipe calls for.

Marley’s treats are in a airtight container in the fridge.6 5 2

laundry soap with dr. bronner’s sal suds

WHAT YOU NEED:
Time…we all have a million freaking hours of that, right? Seriously though, it’s minimal time-you’ll spend more finding the products than actually making the soap
1 or 2 strong stirin’ arms!
2A 2 gallon bucket or larger (I used a recycled bucket from work)
Funnel
A measuring cup or two
Liquid Castile soap
Essential oils of your choice
Borax *(you can substitute baking soda for borax)
Super Washing Soda
2 One gallon containers

Time: Less than 10 minutes

Recipe:
3/4 cup  Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap (this time I used Sal Suds-pine- because I wanted a kick ass cleaner, however I’ve used their lavender & tea tree soap and it worked great. I did find myself adding more super washing soda for tougher washes, so I added more for this recipe)
3/4 c super washing soda
30 drops of essential oil
2 gallons of water

How much do you use? 1/3 cup —> that’s it! Don’t forget to stir or shake before using.

LET’S START!
I start by pouring my dry ingredients in my bucket while a little more than half a gallon of water boils on the stove. I found in previous times I made this recipe that I needed to have hot enough water to disolve my dry ingredients, otherwise it became a bicep workout that I didn’t sign up for. If you choose to use an electric mixer you probably wouldn’t need to get your water temperature above room temperature…and also, you’re a cheater. Just kidding-more power to ya! Continuously stir as you add water. Next, add your Castile soap & stir until your mixture isn’t producing suds any more. Dr. Bronner’s isn’t a super sudsy soap, but you want to make sure it’s distributed evening throughout your 2 gallons of water. Lastly, pour into your containers. BOOM!! You have laundry soap, homemade, BY YOU!!!

1 These are your basic ingredients, aside from aqua (water), how freaking easy?!

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I don’t care how old you are, bubbles are still the neatest, prettiest thing!

7 collage

Look at all the great NATURAL, cruelty-free, environmentally friendly things are that you’ll be washing your clothes in! That gets me excited, in my pants….too much, well get used to it, I like this kind of stuff a lot!

Okay, let’s talk MONEY!!
I bought all my products about 2 years ago, which was my first laundry soap making extravaganza!!  Here’s the approximate break down. Please keep in mind that I’m a single gal making soap for ONE!! I do work at a restaurant, so my clothes can get quite gnarly, especially the bottoms on my pants and BBQ stains on my shirts. I’d like to add that I’ve saved a shit ton of money on laundry soap. I used to use Tide because my skin is sensitive, but I’ll never go back!

Super washing soda $3.29
Borax $7.99 or baking soda $1.49 Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap (32 oz bottle) $16.99-$20
Funnel $1.99 (at dollar store yo!)
2 1 gallon containers $4.99 (the $1 store…again, because they rock)
APPROXIMATE TOTAL: $36.55

I remember spending about $35 on my initial investment, but I’m STILL using products that I bought 2 years ago. I’ve since used the tea tree and lavender soap for my hair, cleaning, dishes, & another batch of laundry soap). So that means up until I purchased Sal Suds -off Amazon- for $11. 92 that in 2 years I’ve spent less than $40 on laundry soap! I’m high fiving the crap out of myself over here and once you start making yours and seeing savings you’ll do a little victory boogie yourself!

Any questions or do you think I left a step out? Comment below or contact me at letsmovetothecountry.iowa@gmail.com

Original recipe credit to My Merry Messy Life <—- click there for the original recipe

rub-a-dub-dub

On this blustery winter day, I decided to do a couple of things to avoid going stir crazy.
1. Go get gas
2. Go to Trader Joe’s
3. Scrub my bathtub

It’s 7° today and I’m not a fan of the agenda for the day, but it’s a day off and those must be used wisely or regret sets in. While getting gas I heard every other person at the pumps express their discontent with the weather as well, but after filling my car for less than $19, I forgot how cold it was until the bitter wind knocked the wind out of me. My trip to the grocery store was fairly simple and I love the staff at Trader Joe’s, which helps a lot. I bought the million dollars in groceries I needed for the 30 day food challenge I’m doing through Arbonne, then came home. The carrying in of the groceries was not horrible and without the brutal wind it was almost tolerable to stand outside and enjoy the beautiful snow-ALMOST!

This brings me to the scrubbing of the bathtub, which has needed done for a couple weeks now. I’m in the process of eliminating all toxic cleaners from my home, so I chose to use a baking soda and vinegar paste to scrub the tile and grout. It’s really astounding how great basic things around your home will clean the most revolting of messes. So I made the paste, it was trial and error, but start with a little vinegar mixed in with the baking soda first and mix. They react to each other, bubbling and looking like it might overflow with cleaning awesomness. Don’t forget to have a scrubber or rough sponge to help you get out the real tough stuff. Don’t forget to rinse well and then enjoy your hard work!

After the tile, I filled the tub with hot water and some borax to get the bathtub clean too. I just let it soak for a couple minutes, scrubbed hard, then drained the tub and rinsed out the remainder of the residue.

HAPPY CLEANING!!

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let us begin

The day has finally arrived, January 1st, 2015! I’ve spent the first day of the new year thus far as if it were any other day; laundry, errands, pet store, lunch, watching Dr. Phil. I’d like to say that today brought my world new life, but let’s face the facts, I’ve worked 30 plus hours in the past 3 days, have photos to edit, animals to take care of, and a bruised tailbone, so I feel like I treated 2015 by even getting out of bed. With that being said, I have a lot of ambition and ideas for the upcoming year. I know it will be sprinkled with rotten days & beautiful ones, sickness & bouts of energy that cannot be contained, so why wouldn’t the first day of 2015 be semi-bland. I managed to make it to the store to buy products for homemade laundry soap, cleaner, and get the pup a new chew toy and the cats a new litter box. Today is not anything special, but I got out of bed, I accomplished some things, and I let this new year know that things are happening-so it’d better get ready to work!

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