Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!

We have so many things to be thankful for this year. I am thankful for each new day, for the comfort of home, for my health, for my family, and for my friends.

Sometimes it may be difficult to see the good in a day, or to see the blessings in your life. We get so focused on the things we long for, that we can’t see what it is we have.

We have been given a new day. How can I do my best with it?

We have a place to call home. What can I do to make it warm and welcoming?

We have food on the table. Who can I break bread with?

We have friends and family who love us. How do I treat those around me?

My wish for you is that you will always find the blessing in each day.



30 Things I Love: Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I love the time spent in reflection of all the good in our lives. I love the time spent with friends or family or both. And, let’s be honest, I love the food.

As we pause to give thanks for the food on our tables, remember those who have labored to grow the food so we can stuff ourselves silly. Let us also remember those who are not with family…our military, those who are working, or those who could not travel home to be with loved ones.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, my readers, for your comments, likes, and for reading my posts. I am grateful for your support.

Wishing you a day filled with blessings!

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage


Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Day 23: Clouds

Day 24: Thanksgiving

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers



30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 27: Thanksgiving

CarolynCares Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day will be here before we know it. The next 24 hours will pass in a whirlwind of cooking, cleaning, and greeting guests. Even though the day can be a little stressful with food preparations and dealing with family dynamics, I think it is important to enjoy the chaos. There are so many people in our communities who will be spending Thanksgiving alone, and many who cannot afford to prepare a full meal.

This year, I was able to donate a bag of food to our school for a program that was started this year. There are about 9 homeless families in our school district. All of the food donated gets sent home to students in need on the last day of school for the week. The food is put in their lockers discretely, to save them from embarrassment or ridicule. This weekend, extra food was sent home to make sure these children would have something to eat over the holiday weekend. This program is helped out by our local Wal-Mart, but in December, our local school families will be encouraged to donate as well. I applaud the teacher who started this program, and I really hope the community will support it by donating money or food to the school. As the prayer says in the graphic above, “For food and raiment Thou dost give, That we in comfort here may live.” I really believe that God works through communities to be his cheerful givers. I am thankful that I was prompted to donate through #FoodThanks. I never would have found out about this program otherwise. I plan on donating at other times during the school year as well.

As for our Thanksgiving plans? We’ll be hosting Thanksgiving this year. All of the family (my side and Jonathan’s side) that live in Minnesota will be there. We’ll have one nervous person at the table this year. Anna is bringing home her boyfriend. He’ll be meeting most of the family on Thursday. He might appreciate a few prayers! We’ll be thinking and praying for family members who are living too far away to join us this year. I am so thankful for all of the members of our family!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


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30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 12: AgChat


Some of you may be thinking “what in the world is AgChat, and why is Carolyn thankful for that?” AgChat is the reason I joined Twitter. I have made many friends from all over the world by participating in Twitter #AgChat conversations on Tuesday evenings.

There is much more to the AgChat Foundation than just the weekly Twitter chats. In February, I attended a regional conference where I was able to meet some of the people I had been communicating with over social media. You could choose from different presentations on improving your blogging, photography, Facebook fan pages, Twitter, and more. The networking and learning sessions were great for encouraging us to tell our stories using more than one social media platform. The Portland Regional Conference is coming up, so if you live in the Pacific Northwest, I encourage you to check it out!

The AgChat Foundation also encourages us to give back when possible. Next week starts the annual #FoodThanks celebration. This year, we have been asked to show our appreciation for good food, and to those who grow it, by using the #FoodThanks hashtag while sharing photos of food or recipes online. I plan on pledging to donate a bag of food this holiday season. For more ideas on how to share your Food Thanks this holiday season, check out the #FoodThanks website.

I am really thankful that my friend, Emily, introduced me to the AgChat Foundation. I am thankful for all of the people I have met while participating in the AgChats on Tuesdays (and #FoodChat on the 3rd Tuesday). Thanks to you all for putting up with me!

For more 30 Day Challenge Blogs, click here.



30 Day Blog Challenge

I’m jumping onto the 30 Day Blog Challenge, where I will blog every day in the month of November. The theme will be a take off of my Facebook tradition of 30 Days of Thanksgiving, writing everyday about what I am thankful for. Some days it will be agriculture related, some days it will be family related, and there will probably be a day or two when I am most thankful for a mug of hot coffee.

You can join in the fun if you are an agriculture blogger by reading this post. If you are not an ag blogger, but want to join in on the 30 Days of Thanksgiving fun, please do! I’d love to read your posts!

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” -Denis Waitley

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”


Thank You Seems Inadequate

Memorial Day is a day set aside in the United States to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. Many of us also remember all the family members and loved ones who have also gone on before us. Some will decorate graves with flags and flowers.

Sometimes, I wonder. Is one day enough to pay our respects to our military families, or the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice?  Shouldn’t we be thinking of them, praying for them, and showing our appreciation every day?

When I was growing up, we would visit my grandparent’s home in Iowa during the summer. In one corner, grandma had a little display area where she kept photos of my step-uncle, along with his medals and the flag that draped his coffin. He died when I was a toddler, so I never had the chance to meet him. Grandma would tell us stories of Johnnie, and we would always look at his bedroom upstairs, which was decorated exactly as it was when he left for Vietnam. Whenever Jonathan and I have been to Washington, DC, we always stop by the Vietnam Wall on a night tour. All 4 times we have taken this tour, it is either foggy and freezing cold, or raining. The weather makes this visit very emotional every time. But I wonder, is an occasional visit to a monument honoring these men and women enough?

Uncle Johnnie….John B Ulfers



Right now, my youngest brother is serving in the Army. He has been deployed for the past 10 months, leaving his wife and three sons state-side. I am loving the fact that they are in Minnesota, although with our winter, I’m not sure they are as thrilled! Although I haven’t been able to see them in person as much as I’d like, I have gotten to know them a little better. It is difficult for the extended families to really get to know the children of military families when they are living so far away. I feel blessed that we’ve been able to connect with our nephews this year.

Bruce, Heidi, and their boys at a Twins game July 2012


While we have been able to connect with our nephews, my brother has missed out on many of their milestone events. They are fortunate that Bruce has been able to come home for short visits a couple of times, but that doesn’t make up for the things he’s missed.

What this year has taught me, is how important it is to support the military families as well as those who are deployed. My sister-in-law is a single parent to these three very active boys while her husband is away. I have always admired the way Heidi gets the boys involved in sports, and takes them off base to explore the area they are in. She has also gotten involved in spouse groups (mostly other women, but there’s been a few men as well), and has been active in running groups, and Bible studies. While in Minnesota, though, they have not had the advantage of living on a military base where everyone is pretty much in the same situation.

It seems as though people really can’t grasp the scope of the impact a deployment has on a family. There have been some incredibly insensitive comments from “friends” of hers on Facebook that are quite appalling. Once again, I have to admire Heidi, and the way she handles these people. This makes me wonder, is saying “Thank You” one day a year really enough?

Today, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of emotional photos and memes telling us how we need to remember the fallen, and thank those who are currently serving. It is good to spread that message, but how many of those who are posting these memes today will shake the hand of a soldier tomorrow? How many of us have sent an encouraging word to the military spouses who are being single parents while their husband or wife are deployed? How many of us have volunteered to watch their children so they can have a day to relax? How many of us have helped to mow lawns, or shovel driveways, or pick up an extra car-pool shift?

Remembering the fallen on Memorial Day is good. But sometimes, saying thank you to those who are currently serving just seems inadequate. Please, take the time to show your appreciation throughout the year.

Thank you for your service, Maj. Bredlow! We’re proud of you, brother!


Love this Crazy Life

Time flies when you are having fun, right? I can’t believe how fast the last month has gone!

Jonathan and Laura returned from Tanzania full of stories, videos, and photos.  I’ll let Jonathan tell you about his experiences in another blog.

After the travelers returned home, we jumped right into a full schedule. Laura wanted to head back to college right away to try and catch up on more assignments, so I took her back to USF just a day after they returned home. A day later, Jonathan and I had an organic farming seminar to attend a few hours from home, so he basically hit the ground running as well.

The following week was Thanksgiving. We were hosting this year, so I was able to plan the event how I wanted it. My rule this year – nobody brings anything, and everyone stays out of the kitchen until time for dishes. The exceptions were Christina, who made the dinner rolls, and Laura, who was my sous chef.  The day was awesome. It was the most stress-free Thanksgiving I have ever hosted!

Our menu was partly traditional, and partly not. As in, we didn’t have any cranberry anything, and no marshmallows made an appearance on sweet potatoes.

We started the meal with a Squash Soup appetizer. While our guests were eating their soup, Laura and I set the rest of the meal on the table.


The rest of our menu looked like this:

Apple Cider Brined Turkey

Mashed potatoes

A Simple Gravy made with chicken stock (no drippings)

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole

Dinner Rolls (recipe follows)


For dessert, I made a pecan pie, double layer pumpkin pie, and chocoflan


After our meal, everyone pitched in on dishes, and then we relaxed. We took our Olson family photo (minus one nephew who is currently studying in India) so Grandpa could send out his Christmas letter.  It was nice to celebrate with Anita and Charles, who will be heading back to Canada in a couple of days to celebrate Christmas with Charles’ family. They will be heading back to the mission field after the New Year.

I am so thankful for my family, my in-laws, the outlaws, my friends. The list could go on forever. I have been so blessed this past year! Thank you, my dear readers, for being a part of my life for the last two years. I look forward to sharing more stories about my family, my farm, and successful ventures in the kitchen.

Fly Off the Plate Dinner Rolls

1 egg

1 1/2 cups warm water

4 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons instant dry milk

3 Tablespoons oil

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

Mix egg with fork. Add ingredients in order recommended by your bread machine manufacturer. Put pan in bread machine. Select dough cycle, push start. After about 10 minutes, push finger into dough. If it is sticky, add more flour. When bread machine is done, shape into buns. Allow to rise about 20 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake 10-15 minutes