Crafty Cruising

I enjoy traveling every chance I get. While waiting at the airline gate for my last trip I struck up conversation with two women who were working on craft projects. As you can see one was knitting and one was quilting. As we visited about their projects they told me they had their sewing machines in their carry-ons and were going on a sewing cruise! What fun! I am aware of several different themes for cruises – musical groups, weight loss, bird watching, etc. – but I had not looked into sewing or craft cruises. They were going on a 10-day cruise that had several ports of call but also incorporated four days and most evenings at sea for passengers to focus on the sewing projects they brought. This particular cruise was sponsored by Singer Featherweight so there was a Maintenance Workshop for their machine included for every cruiser signed up with Singer as well as a tune-up kit for their machine.

It has been very interesting for me to research some of the cruise possibilities for crafters. You can pretty much find a cruise to match whatever craft you enjoy doing: sewing, quilting (including long arm classes), needlepoint, embroidery, knitting, crocheting. Always check to see what is included with the cruise before signing up. Some provide the machines, others allow you to bring your own machine and offer perks to go along with that. Some have you bring your own projects to work on while others have pre-assembled kits available for purchase. Some give you 24 hour access to the sewing and crafting room while others offer set hours. Most often there are instructors available and if a specific company is offering the cruise a company representative would be available.

If you enjoy cruising and crafting this might be right down your alley!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Beware of Halloween Decoration Dangers

‘Tis the season to be scary . . . fa, la, la, la, la, la, la . . .

Halloween has become as festive as Christmas with string of lights, blow up decorations, animated displays, fog machines, and other electric-powered decorations.  Any and all create a scare-worthy porch or yard for any trick-or-treaters that dare to ring the doorbell.  But like Christmas decorations, Halloween decorations can be a source of dangers that could spoil the holiday that is suppose to be fun.  Remember a safe celebration is the best celebration.

So as Halloween decorating approaches, here’s some safety tips from Safe Electricity to make sure Halloween is safe and fun for all:

  • Carefully inspect decorations that have been stored for cracking, fraying or bare wires.  Do not use if any of these problems are found as they may cause a shock or start a fire.
  • When replacing or purchasing decorations or cords, make sure they are Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved and marked for outdoor use.
  • Unless specifically indicated, keep electrical decorations out of water or wet areas.
  • Be mindful of extension cords.  They should not run through water on the ground.  Use only cords rated for outdoor use.
  • Don’t overload plugs or extension cords.  Be sure to use a big enough gauge extension cord to handle the decoration wattage without getting hot.
  • Use insulated staples to hold strings of lights or cords in place.  Fasten securely.
  • Plug outdoor lights and decorations into GFCI outlets (ground fault circuit interrupters).
  • Keep cords away from walkways or anyplace where they may be a potential tripping hazard or entanglement hazard for pets.
  • Consider using a timer to have decorations or lights on for a specified amount of time.  Turn them off while away from the home and before going to bed.

By following basic electrical safety guidelines, you will  avoid real scares or dangerous tricks and keep Halloween a fun and safe event.  Get more safety tips at SafeElectricity.org.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Fall Fun Ideas

Fall is here!  Here’s some ideas from my family to yours to make fall a special time for the family.

Rake and play in the leaves—assuming it doesn’t stir up allergies.  After the leaves fall, pile the raked leaves and let the kids and dogs jump and scatter.  Of course, you may have to re-rake a bit before bagging or composting.

Watch for slow-moving vehicles.  Harvest has begun so motorists need to be watchful of slow-moving vehicles and farm equipment.  Make it a safe season for everyone by sharing the road and slowing down.

Make a pot of soup.  Chili is especially good on a cool day.  Stews are a good way to use up the last of the vegetables harvested from the garden.

Pick apples.  October is national apple month and what a fun outing it can be to harvest apples either from your own trees or at a nearby orchard.  Some orchards provide entertainment as well as picking opportunities.  Use the apples to eat fresh or make apple crisp, apple pie, or apple butter.  Be sure to get a candied apple, too!

Search for a pumpkin or two for decorating or carving.  There are lots of pick-your-own pumpkin patches and some come with entertainment options, too.   Pumpkin carving or decorating parties are a lot of fun for all ages.  Carving pumpkins don’t make good pumpkin pie; instead choose a small pie pumpkin for cooking and baking.

Plant mums, bulbs, grass, shrubs, and trees.  Fall is the perfect time to plant as the cool days and nights allow plants to settle in without stress.  Water thoroughly until the ground freezes.  Consider mulching to keep new plantings from heaving during the winter months.

Build a bonfire.  The warmth from the fire is so special on a cool night and even more fun when s’mores are on the menu. Be mindful of fire safety.

Catch the football spirit.  Take in a local high school Friday night game or play touch football with the kids. Catch your favorite team on TV!  Tailgate with friends either at a game or before watching a TV game.

Try out an amazing corn maze.  Traversing a corn maze in search of the end or prizes is guaranteed to become a fun and exciting tradition for years to come.

Decorate for Halloween.  String up some lights or plug in the fog machine for a festive spirit.  Be sure all lights or electrical decorations are UL approved and plugged into GFCI outlets.  Add some carved pumpkins and maybe a big spider web.

Watch a scary movie.  Nothing sets the scene for Halloween more than a little “fright!”

Take a road trip.  Check out the changing scenery in your area as the farm fields go from green to golden brown to harvest empty and the leaves on the trees turn.  Or travel to the various parts of the state to see the “colors” at their peak time.

Take a hike.  Follow a path through the woods at a state or local park.  Hear the leaves crunch and smell the damp fall ground.  Pack a picnic to enjoy along the way.

Drink hot spiced apple cider or hot chocolate.  It just wouldn’t be fall without cider and hot chocolate to warm up after an outing on a cool fall day or evening.  And either beverage really goes nice with a fire in the fireplace!

Take a hayride.  Watch local listings for community hayrides.

For more ideas and where to find fall entertainment options, check out Travel Iowa.

Happy Fall!

 

 

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Sunscreen stains on leather

Just yesterday, a caller wanted to know how to remove a sunscreen stain from a leather car seat. Leather can be tricky to clean and stains easily, so I had to do some research to find an answer for the caller. Since the weather has been hot and sunny lately, I thought other people might have the same problem.

If you want to clean it with materials you already have on hand, follow these directions:

  • First, blot up any excess lotion on the seat. Be careful to blot and not wipe. Wiping the stain can spread it and make a larger stain.
  • Next, get some cornstarch or some baking soda. You will need enough to sprinkle over the entire stain. Before you apply the starch or soda, lightly rub the spot. Friction can heat the stain and allow you to adsorb more of the lotion before sprinkling the starch or soda.
  • Once you have covered the stain with cornstarch or baking soda, allow it to sit on the stain overnight. The next morning, check the spot. If the cornstarch or baking soda have yellowed, then they have adsorbed some of the stain. If you can still see some of the stain, you can repeat the treatment.
  • If the stain remains, it may be time to use a leather cleaner.
  • You can always contact the dealership that sold you your car as they often have leather care kits for use on the seats. If they do have a kit available, use both the cleaner and then the conditioner after cleaning the seat.

Don’t let a stain keep you from protecting your skin with sunscreen this summer.

 

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Safe Summer Picnics

It is Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer. One of my favorite parts of summer is enjoying cooking and eating outside. Cooking and serving food outside can make things a bit more complicated. Unless the picnic is on the deck or patio right outside your door, take precautions to ensure that you are serving safe food.

If I do not have my refrigerator nearby, I always use an ice chest with plenty of ice in it. This keeps the meat, salads, and drinks cool and safe. I can then store the leftovers right after we finish eating. Packing plenty of paper plates allows me to use different plates for raw and cooked meat. It also eliminates the possibility of dripping juices onto other items in the picnic basket as I can toss those plates.

It is also a great idea to pack some wet wipes to clean my hands and any other surfaces that I need to set food on. Packing a few zipper bags can keep foods separate and reduce the chance of cross contamination.

The last but possibly most important thing to pack is the instant read meat thermometer. Use a thermometer every time you grill. Remember to cook poultry to 165°F, ground meats to 160°F, and steaks and roasts to a minimum of 145°F. Insert the stem into the center of the meat, avoid touching any bones, and insert the shaft of the thermometer past the dimple.

Enjoy your first picnic of the season and stay safe.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Exploring Iowa via Adult Learning Vacations

Recently I learned about a learning adventure/vacation opportunity for adults offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach designed to experience and explore Iowa in unique ways through a travel course.  Little did I know that this opportunity existed.  The courses are arranged by Diane Van Wyngarden, tourism specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, and are part of the Road Scholar Program.  Each learning adventure has a theme of study.  For a week, a limited number of participants travel together following the theme and learning insights and history from experts about the various communities involved in the study.  Transportation is by motorcoach or boat.

This year, the adventure is one that really intrigues me–the Mississippi River, the Great River Road, and other fascinating points of interest along the way.  If this also intrigues you, check out Iowa Road Scholar or contact Diane Van Wyngarden at dvw@iastate.edu for more information about this adventure and other Iowa learning adventures.

Road Scholar programs are open to adults of all ages with most participants 50+ years of age who enjoy learning experiences rather than touring.  For more information about Road Scholars see www.roadscholar.org.

 

 

 

 

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Prepare Now for Safe Summer Boating

Summer will be here soon and with it will come many outdoor recreational opportunities.  If boating is something you or you and your family will do, then it’s time to think or rethink boat safety.  ​According to the National Safety Council, about 74 million Americans engage in recreational boating each year.  Most boat outings are fun times, but the good times can quickly turn otherwise if boaters are not vigilant about safety at all times.  The most common boat tragedies occur when someone falls overboard or a boat capsizes or collides with another boat.  The US Coast Guard statistics show that 7 out of 10 boating accidents resulting in death occurred due to operator error or lack of boating safety instruction.

The good news, though, is that saving lives and reducing injuries can be as easy as taking a boater safety course. That way, you familiarize yourself with operation basics and etiquette, as well as state and federal waterway rules. And, by taking the course, you may even be able to lower your insurance premium.  Some states actually require completion of a boat safety course in order to operate a vessel on lake and streams within the state.  Since this blog is written largely for audiences in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota, I will make reference to requirements for these three states only.  (Additional information can be accessed at Boat Ed®.)  For these three states, the requirements are as follows:

Iowa – Education is required for those 12 to 17 years old who will be operating a motorized vessel over 10 hp or a personal watercraft (PWC) in Iowa.  Cost of the course is $29.50 with an additional $5 state fee.  Permits are issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  The course may be taken by anyone 12 years of age or olders, non-residents included.  Anyone under the age of 12 years may operate a vessel powered by a motor of more than 10 horsepower, including a PWC, only if he or she is accompanied by a person 18 years or older who is experienced in operating a vessel. Anyone older than 18 years of age may operate a motorized vessel or PWC without any restrictions.

Minnesota – Education is required for those 12 to 17 years old who are unsupervised and will be operating a boat over 25 hp in Minnesota. Education is also required for those 14 to 17 years old who are unsupervised and will be operating any personal water craft (PWC).  Anyone under the age of 13 years may not legally operate a personal watercraft (PWC) in Minnesota.  Those 18 years of age or older may operate a motorized vessel or PWC without any restrictions. Cost of the online course is $22.50 and may be taken by anyone 12 years of age or older, non-residents included.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will issue the permit to those who complete the course.

South Dakota – South Dakota does not require boating education.  The course may be taken to save on insurance or to operate a boat in states that require a card. Cost of the course is $19.50 with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks issuing the permit. There is no minimum age or resident requirement to take the online course. Anyone under the age of 12 years may operate a vessel powered by a motor of more than 6 horsepower only if accompanied by a person 18 years or older. Anyone under the age of 14 years may operate a PWC only if accompanied by a person 18 years or older.

Boat Ed® offers courses and tests recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and meet individual state’s certification standards.

Besides completing safety courses and being familiar with federal, state and local laws, life jackets should be worn rather than just stored onboard.  While most states have a mandatory life jacket law for youth, the Just Wear It Campaign advocates that everyone in a vessel should be wearing a life jacket at all times.  Life jacket requirements for the three states are as follows:

Iowa – Iowa law states “a person shall not operate a vessel in Iowa unless every person on board the vessel who is age 12 and under is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.” A life jacket must be worn when the vessel is underway, which means when a vessel is not at anchor, tied to a dock or the bank/shore or aground. A child age 12 and under in an enclosed cabin, below deck, or aboard a commercial vessel with a capacity of 25 persons or more is exempt.  The law became effective in 2008.

Minnesota – As of May 2005, Minnesota law requires a life jacket to be worn by children less than 10 years of age when aboard watercraft in Minnesota when the craft is under way (not tied up at a dock or permanent mooring).

South Dakota – Every person on board a PWC must wear a certified personal flotation device (PDF) at all times.  Children under seven years old must wear a PDF while on any vessel operating at greater than “slow, no wake speed” unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.  Requirements do not apply to boats 12 feet or less in length without a motor of any kind.

There are many styles and kinds of life jackets available.  For more information on how to choose an approved life jacket appropriate for you, check out How to Choose the Right Life Jacket from the US Coast Guard.

To further reduce risk, the Coast Guard offers these tips:

  • Don’t drink: Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination
  • Get an annual vessel safety check
  • Know about carbon monoxide; this odorless, colorless poisonous gas is emitted by all combustion engines and onboard motor generators

The extra effort that goes into taking these kinds of precautions will help create fun-filled adventures for you and your family on the water.

 

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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The Pioneer Woman

I love to travel and was fortunate to recently go on a trip with a wonderful friend to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to see the Pioneer Woman sites. After watching her show on the Food Network it was a real treat to get to see the Mercantile and the Pawhuska area. We stayed at a hotel in downtown Pawhuska within walking distance of the Mercantile. We were happy we did that as it allowed us to easily walk to the Mercantile at off hours that were not so crowded. Several thousand people visit the Mercantile every day and it is not uncommon to have to wait in line a very long time (up to two hours) to be able to eat in the restaurant. We made sure we were there for breakfast by 7am and ate a very early dinner to avoid the lines.

There are two stories at the Mercantile. On the main level are the deli/restaurant and the retail shop. You can have a sit down meal or go through a line to pick up prepared foods to take with you. There is also a coffee shop on the main level where you can buy coffees and specialty drinks. I did not try the Cowboy Coffee or the Spicy Cowgirl coffee but they were popular choices with the patrons who were there at the same time I was. My two favorite menu items were the Olive Cheese Bread (which I will try to recreate at home!) and the Prune Cake. My friend and I were leery of trying the cake but our very friendly and knowledgeable server highly recommended it. We were not disappointed!

Upstairs at the Mercantile are a coffee bar, bakery, and a nice relaxation area to enjoy the treats you purchased. They also sell several types of candy. The picures on the wall were all taken by Ree and were a joy to look at. There were very nice restrooms on each level – they have thought of everything!

The Mercantile was actually a mercantile originally known as the Osage Mercantile back in the 1800s. The Drummond family has done an amazing job restoring and refurbishing it. It is well worth the visit. It is a fun and family-friendly destination. Check the website ahead of time and also check with the deli when you arrive as tours of the Lodge where the Pioneer Woman shows are often filmed are available on certain dates. The tours are free and directions are given to you if you are lucky enough to be there on a day tours are available. Tour tickets are not available in advance.

The Mercantile is closed on Sundays and Pawhuska is a small town but it has a lot going for it and many interesting things to do in the area. Pawhuska is known as the gateway to the Tallgrass Prairie. It is definitely worth a drive through the prairie if you have time. Pawhuska is also the home of America’s first Boy Scout Troop. It is a fascinating area of the country to visit. If you are a follower of the Pioneer Woman and watch her shows on TV I highly recommend you add this to your vacation destination list.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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TSA tips

It’s time for our annual trip to Boise to visit our son and his family so it was also time to check with the TSA to be sure that I can pack my small sewing scissors in my carry-on bag. I check with the TSA every year to be sure that rules have not changed and that my scissors are still allowed on the plane.

I was surprised this year at the changes on the TSA website and I thought I would share some of them with you. Previously, there were only about four pages of items allowed or disallowed on a plane. This year, there are forty-four pages. It was surprising to see all the different items that appeared on the list. Last year I wanted to bring an antique sewing machine home with me and eventually needed to call the TSA to be sure I could bring the machine on the plane. This year, I discovered that I could travel with a sewing machine, bread machine or even a microwave oven. There were many more food items than I had ever considered packing in my carry-on. The TSA even seems to have a sense of humor, as seen in the comments.

Magic 8 Ball

  • Carry On Bags: No
  • Checked Bags: Yes

For Carry-on bags: We asked the Magic 8 Ball and it told us…Outlook not so good!

For Checked bags: We asked the Magic 8 Ball and it told us…It is certain!

The TSA also has a hints page with travel hints for various holidays; travel with children or with seniors, traveling with pets, and other special situations. I read some of the posts and they were both helpful and funny. Be sure to check these sites before your next trip as the information does change over time.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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How to pack your cooler

Summertime often means picnic, beach, and car trip time for us! We often take a cooler with us in the car for snacks and beverages. It is important to keep foods cold and that is best achieved with a full cooler. If your cooler is not full you may want to consider adding extra ice cubes to fill it up. If your cooler doesn’t have a thick well-insulated lid you may also want to consider packing a thick towel on top of everything under the lid. If you can chill your cooler ahead of time that will help keep cold foods cold longer. If you do not have time to chill it, room temperature is more helpful than packing a warm cooler you have just retrieved from your garage or attic.
Place your food and drinks, which should be in leak-proof resealable containers or plastic bags in the bottom of the cooler first then put the ice on top. You should plan on about 1/2 pound of ice for every quart your cooler holds. Foods and drinks should be packed pre-chilled.
As the ice melts you may be tempted to drain the water out of the cooler but there is no need to do that as the cold water will also help keep the contents of the cooler chilled.
Summer is my favorite season and I am looking forward to packing up a cooler and heading out many days!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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