Thankful Thursday – The Local Coffee Shop

CarolynCares ThankYou Coffeeshop

Rural areas like ours in Southwest Minnesota can seem like Mars to some coffee loving city dwellers when they learn we are two hours from the nearest Starbucks. They wonder how we can handle living so far from that type of atmosphere. It’s pretty easy for those of us in my area. We have two great locally owned coffee shop options.

My favorite place to grab a mocha latte (my favorite beverage), or have lunch with friends, is a little place called Bagels & Brew. This cute little place is attached to a laundromat in an unassuming building along the main drag in Marshall. After 15 years in business, they have built up a loyal following. They serve bagels, but also have a nice selection of sandwiches and paninis, along with side salads. If you are just looking for beverages, they have a full line up of coffee options, tea, smoothies, and in the fall, a delicious caramel apple cider.

What makes Bagels & Brew my favorite coffee shop…besides my love for the coffee? The people. I have stopped for coffee or lunch many times over the years, and I have never seen any of the employees grumpy. It doesn’t matter if you are going through the drive-thru, or eating in, the staff is always friendly. I have witnessed Todd, the owner, run out to vehicles in line, taking orders so they wouldn’t have to wait so long in the drive-thru. When customer service is taken seriously, and delivered with a smile, it makes me want to support them.

Living out in a rural area isn’t so bad when you have great local places that fill your needs. When the service is delivered with a smile, it makes it all the sweeter. Thank you, Todd and staff at Bagels & Brew in Marshall for your smiles, the friendly atmosphere, your delicious sandwiches & salads, and your wonderful mocha lattes!



Wordless Wednesday – Thinking Warm Thoughts

Thank you, American Farm Bureau Federation, for holding your Annual Convention in warm places…and giving us an excuse to travel there!

CarolynCares Hawaii

Wordless Wednesday – Play Ball!

We went to Saturday’s Twins game, even though it was rainy and cool. Watching the Twins play in person is great, but watching the Twins play with good friends is even better. Thanks to the four who shared in our weekend of fun!

Twins vs Cleveland
Twins vs Cleveland – September 28




Heading to the Minnesota State Fair?

This last week has been incredibly warm and humid, so you may have put off plans to head the the Great Minnesota Get Together. This weekend – the final weekend of the fair – is supposed to be beautiful! It would be a great time to check out all the awesome agriculture exhibits at the Minnesota State Fair!

Our family has been attending the fair for quite a few years. We started volunteering in the Oink Booth when we were members of our county pork producers association. We had so much fun handing out pig ears and answering questions about our farm, and about raising pigs in Minnesota. After our daughters became members of 4-H, we started volunteering at the Farm Bureau barn for the days they would be competing at the state fair. This is the first year that our daughters are out of 4-H, but that doesn’t mean our state fair days are over!

On Sunday, September 1, Jonathan and I will be volunteering in the Farm Bureau Building from 1-5 pm. We are excited to be working with Bryan and Marytina Lawrence from Princeton. (To learn more about the Lawrence’s farm, click here.)    We’ve known Bryan and Marytina since we first became involved with the Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program. Marytina now works with the Speak for Yourself program, which is one of the things I’m involved in.

The Speak for Yourself program does a great job of helping farmers feel comfortable telling their story in front of others. Throughout the fair, there have been several SFY participants who have volunteered to work in the Farm Bureau Building. I hope you will come out on Sunday to ask us questions, or check out the building on Monday when Wanda Patsche will be working. Be sure to also read her blog entry about the state fair before you go!

One of the reasons why I love volunteering at the Farm Bureau Building is meeting people from all over the world. Last year, there was a family from Europe who stopped by to check out how we farm compared to how they farm. When you walk into the building, you will be greeted by one of the volunteers, and asked if you would like to answer a few questions in order to win a prize. The search for the answers will take you around the displays in the building, helping you to learn more about agriculture in Minnesota. After you answer all the questions, you will receive an insulated lunch bag. There is also a recipe booklet available for those who like to cook. There are drawings for children’s books, including “Little House on the Prairie”, so make sure to sign up for your kids!

Dennis Sabel & Katie Winslow handing out insulated lunch bags
Dennis Sabel & Katie Winslow handing out insulated lunch bags

The Ag Cab Lab-Combine is also in the Farm Bureau Building. This activity is great for kids of all ages. Sit inside the cab and see what it is like to combine different crops. If you would like to see what a farmer does while driving a tractor, head on over to the CHS Miracle of Birth Center where the Ag Cab Lab-Tractor is located. While there, check out the new livestock babies that have been born during the fair. The Miracle of Birth Center is another great place to learn about agriculture in Minnesota. The veterinarians, staff, and student volunteers have been working really hard this week to make sure the animals are well cared for in the heat. Ask the FFA students about the animals they are with. They would love to answer your questions!

Besides the Oink Booth that is found in the pig barn, check out the Moo Booth, and the Baa Booth. The Moo Booth has activities going on throughout the day on Sunday, including milking demonstrations. The Baa Booth is located in the sheep barn, and has some fun facts about raising sheep. All three of these booths have farmer volunteers working in them, and they, too, would love to answer your questions.

Another great area to learn about agriculture is the Dairy Building. Not only will you be able to see Princess Kay of the Milky Way’s Butterhead, but you may even get to see Princess Kay herself! The ice cream that you can buy in the Dairy Building is awesome. You can walk around inside the building and pick up recipes from other livestock organizations. Make sure you talk to the people handing out the recipe cards. They all are passionate about what they do!

Pretty much every year, we also take a walk through the Agriculture Horticulture Building to find the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association booth. Jonathan has won many ribbons on seeds that have been submitted. There is a display there about what the seeds from different plants look like. Do you know the difference between grass seed and flax seed? This is the building that houses the contests for Christmas trees, Bees & Honey, Farm Crops, Flower Show, Fruit & Wine, and Vegetables & Potatoes. It is fun to walk through and see the entries, especially the giant vegetables!

There are so many great agriculture stories at the Minnesota State Fair. I would love to hear what you learned when you checked out all the fun displays and the barns – add it to the comments below.

See you at the Fair!


My Eyes May Have Leaked a Little

Jonathan, Anna, and I headed out west for a short vacation last week. Our real reason for heading to the Black Hills of South Dakota was to see Christina, who is spending her summer at the Black Hills Playhouse as a tech intern. We hadn’t been able to hug her since May, and we were missing her sweet face.

We stopped at a lot of the typical touristy places, and had fun. Seeing those sights with your 20-something offspring is much different than with your 2-something offspring. We stayed in Wall, SD the first night, so we were just over an hour away from our hotel in Keystone, SD. We arrived early enough that we went straight to Mount Rushmore.

The monument was beautiful. We had been here when the girls were in elementary school, so we knew a little about the area, and had anticipated the view. We were not disappointed!

Mt Rushmore - July 22, 2013
Mt Rushmore – July 22, 2013

We went through the museum under the observation area, and decided to sit in on the 14 minute film about the making of the memorial. This is where the “yeah, yeah, we’ve seen this before” turned into “wow, did you know that?” and “I wish I could get a copy of all the quotes!”

Maybe it is the times we are living in. Maybe it’s the climate of me, me, me. Maybe it is the feeling of disconnect between neighbors. Whatever the reason, I was struck by the patriotism of Gutzlon Borglum, and the reasons he gave for selecting those particular four presidents.

He selected Washington because he was the father of our country. He was not worried about his political ambitions. He was worried about building a foundation for a young country that would stand the test of time.

Jefferson was selected to represent the growth of our country. President Jefferson orchestrated the Louisiana Purchase, and sent Lewis and Clark on their expedition.

Lincoln represents the preservation of our country, after he was able to reunite the United States after the Civil War. Borglum greatly admired Lincoln, and made many pieces of artwork about him.

President Theodore Roosevelt helped to make the Panama Canal a reality. He also orchestrated peace between countries, establishing the United States as a world power. 200 million acres of National Parks were set aside during his presidency.  His presence on Mount Rushmore represents development of our nation.

The story behind the sculpting, the selection, and the accomplishment of the monument is very educational. As we were leaving Mount Rushmore, Jonathan overheard someone talking about the evening lighting ceremony. We thought that sounded neat, so we decided we would come back the next night (parking is $11 per car, good for the rest of the year, so we could go as many times as our hearts desired).

We had no idea what to expect. We did know that we should get there early, and I’m glad we did. The amphitheater was full by the time the ceremony started.

The ceremony began with a 10 minute talk by a park ranger. She talked about the memorial, sharing quotes from each of the presidents that were represented on the memorial. After her talk, we watched a short film about the presidents and the carving of the mountain. It was very patriotic. The film ended with the singing of America the Beautiful. It was very dark at this point, but as we looked at the flag, during the song, we noticed the lights were starting to shine on the faces. By the time the song had ended, the faces were fully lit. That was my first set of goosebumps. Then, all the veterans were invited forward to assist with the lowering of the flag ceremony. This may have been the first time my eyes leaked. The 75 or so men and women on the stage were given a standing ovation. Most people sang the National Anthem…I was a little too choked up to get the words out.

Flag lowering ceremony
Flag lowering ceremony – not easy to take photos with tears in your eyes

After the flag was lowered and properly folded, each of the veterans introduced themselves and their branch of service. My eyes may have leaked a little at the presenting of the flag to the park ranger.

When the ceremony was done for the night, I couldn’t help but think about what this monument means, and how important it is to remember the ideals and sacrifices these men had made in order for me to be able to live in a country where I am free to worship how I want, free to make the choices I do, and free to help others has I see fit.

These men weren’t looking out just for themselves or their political aspirations. They were more concerned about their fellow Americans, and the country they led. They were led by the people, for the people. President Washington refused to be crowned king, because then America wouldn’t have the freedoms they longed for.

I left the ceremony thinking that every single American should be given the opportunity to attend the lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore. Every Senator, Representative, and Presidential candidate should be reminded about the principles that our country was founded on in the Declaration of Independence – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Mount Rushmore at night
Mount Rushmore at night

Days later, as I sit at the computer in the comfort of my home, trying to put into words the emotions we felt, my eyes may have leaked a little.

Wordless Wednesday – Road Trip Through the Buffalo Ridge

Windmills - old and new - on the Buffalo Ridge
Windmills – old and new – on the Buffalo Ridge

Click on the photo to enlarge it. Can you find the remnants of the old windmill?