My Other More Exciting Self

Farm Raised, Shoe Enthusiast, Turkey Talker, Wine Lover, Mom

Labor Day. And how exactly did that happen?

Now that Joe’s brand-new backpack is packed, school clothes are laid out, new tennis shoes are ready to be broken in, and even Teacher Man’s lunch is packed for tomorrow, I can plop myself on the couch, turn on a little Real Housewives of Orange County (Reunion, Part 2!) and give you my random stream of consciousness.

You’ll thank me later, I’m sure.

1) What does my 5th grader do the day before his first day of school? Spend as much time as his parents will allow him playing Terraria – or is it Minecraft? I forget.

Labor Day. How did that happen? | via

2) That is, of course, until his mother insisted he must quit being a vampire and get outside to get some sun and fresh air. Hence, a bike ride ensued. (And eek – yes, that is a #nomakeup #selfie in the sun. I may have just freaked myself out. Thankfully I will just focus on Joe’s freckles – way cuter!)

Labor Day. How did that happen? | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.com3) My back is now officially killing me from picking all these yellow beans in my garden, but the pain is totally worth it. I’m also thinking we may be having yellow beans with every meal this week.

Labor Day. How did that happen? | via

4) If I’m being completely honest here, I spent a little too much time watching The Pioneer Woman‘s mini marathon on The Food Network this afternoon. Sorry. I’m a little obsessed.

Labor Day. How did that happen? | via

5) Earl the Pug has once again shown why he may be the smartest member of our family. A Monday afternoon nap in the porch? Why didn’t I think of that? In other Earl-related news, one of his photos on my Instagram account was picked up by @PugsOfInstagram last week and now has over 23,000 likes. As in 23-THOUSAND!

Labor Day. How did that happen? | via

6) In one  last attempt to channel the final few minutes of summer, I sat out on my front porch this evening, basking in the west sun and reading the newspaper in my rocking chair. It was heavenly. (And yes, sometimes I’m an old soul – reading an actual printed newspaper on a rocking chair on my front porch.)

The air, while warm, still felt different – with just a hint of autumn coming in now. I was wondering if this may all be in my head, but my neighbor, Jud, came over for a chat and confirmed that he, too, felt the same way. Exit summer, enter September. (And yes, I do know summer isn’t officially over until later this month, but this is Minnesota, people.)

Labor Day. How did that happen? | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.com7) One more walk around my gardens for the evening and I magically captured these monarch butterflies enjoying my Joe Pye Weed plants. This photo makes me very happy.

Labor Day. How did that happen? | via

8) And you know what makes me laugh out loud like a crazy woman in my own garden in the backyard? The fact that I finally have six varieties of zinnias growing and blooming and it’s September 1! These zinnias have been through two wash-out rains, one re-seeding and bunny attacks too numerous to mention. Teacher Man built me a raised bed to put around them in late July, which was apparently just enough to deter the rabbits from further meals. Now, after all that, I have my zinnias!! #ItsAMiracle

Labor Day. How did that happen? | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.com9) And finally … back to school night deserves Dairy Queen for all! Our favorite Blizzard flavors:  peanut butter cups (Teacher Man); cookie dough (Joe) and midnight truffle (me).

Labor Day. How did that happen? | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comHappy first week of September, everyone!





Is anyone else literally shocked that we’re heading into Labor Day weekend? Weird! And somewhat sad (good-bye summer) … although I must admit I think I may be getting to the point now that I’m ready to get back to a normal schedule.

It’s State Fair time in Minnesota right now, so Joe and I made our annual trek into Saint Paul on Thursday. It was a partial work day for me – my organization hosts “Gobble Gobble Cluck Cluck Day” every year at Christenson Farms Stage, near the massively popular Miracle of Birth Center. Festivities included a game show, poultry trivia and appearances by Tom and Tillie Turkey – aka, two very enthusiastic FFA students who wear our turkey costumes and interact with the crowd while the Chicken Dance is playing.

Admidst all the the poultry activities, my sister and her 8-month-old daughter, Morgan, arrived about mid-day to whisk Joe away while I finished up work. This is also a tradition several years running – my sister loves to come to the State Fair and she and Joe often walk the fairgrounds and meet up with me later. This year, it was an extra bit of fun to be able to share Morgan’s very first State Fair experience, as well!

Enjoy the photos and have a wonderful Labor Day weekend, everyone!

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

State Fair #selfie to start the day!

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

The perfect breakfast for Joe … cheese curds! (Sharing completely optional.)

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

During “Gobble Gobble Cluck Cluck Day”, we gave away these pencil top erasers … cute, yes?

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

Obviously my niece, Morgan, was very happy to see me when she arrived at the State Fair!

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

And look – she’s already a Minnesota Turkey fan! (That’s my girl!)

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

We couldn’t forget about our chicken friends, so we stopped at the Chicken and Egg Association of Minnesota booth in the Dairy Building and made ourselves at home in the egg chair!

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

Right next door to the chicken and egg booth is Minnesota Turkey’s booth.

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

Miss Morgan was taking in all the sights and sounds of the State Fair, and she wasn’t quite sure what was going on here!

2014 State Fair (9)

One of our traditions at the State Fair is to get our handwriting analyzed and a personality print-out in the Grandstand. I remember doing this when I was Joe’s age and it’s still around – for a bargain price of $3!

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

More cheese curds for Joe (this time, he did share!) and a glass of wine from Minnesota Wine Country (Frontenac Gris from Parley Lake Winery) for me. Great people watching, too, as we sat on a bench and relaxed for a few minutes.

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

Joe’s favorite ride at the State Fair is the 50-year-old Sky Ride. We bought round-trip tickets and enjoyed the view from above both ways. Here’s our annual #selfie on the Sky Ride that we always text to Teacher Man, who unfortunately has been back at work this week and wasn’t able to join in on the State Fair shenanigans!

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

After we texted our photo, this is what we got back from Teacher Man and Earl the Pug! :)

State Fair 2014 - Gobble, Cluck & Cheese Curds | via

We ended the day with a quick visit to this handsome fellow, who is living in the Miracle of Birth Center during the State Fair so that fairgoers can learn more about raising turkeys.

All in all, a most perfect State Fair day!










Minnesota State Fair Fun - The Egg Chair | via

Happy Friday, everyone!

I just had to write up a quick post to tell you that my blogger friend, Sara, over at It’s Mom Sense is writing an entire series on “Breaking Down the Labels” for food and this week she focuses on  eggs! Sara is a Midwestern girl who currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her family. She has an amazing blog that’s full of truthful, researched information about our food system in the U.S.

Here’s how she puts it (much more eloquently than I):

“This is my personal blog about being a mom in a food-focused city like Portland. I don’t get paid to write this blog; these are all my (researched) opinions, many of which are on the other side of accepted mommy-dogma. I’m calling momsense on letting the sensational media and the fear-mongerers scare us into believing the marketing and the hype about our food.”


If you read my blog often enough, then you know all this crazy fear marketing of our food system drives me, well, up the wall!

You really must check out her post on eggs this week. She covers a lot of ground and writes about different housing types for laying hens, bird welfare, nutrition and so much more. She will also be following up this post with two more that go in-depth into a lot of the questions we all have when we stare at the egg case in the supermarket. (Let’s get real – there are A LOT of egg choices out there!)

Full disclosure: Sara asked me for some information sources and requested that I read her posts in advance to get my feedback. I gave with her my thoughts, but her posts are all her own and I’m so excited to share her information.

Jump over here to check it out, will you?

Enjoy your start to the weekend!

Egg Industry Environmental Footprint Study | via


I often write and share scores of photos of my own family, but I’ve also got some pretty great in-laws. This past weekend, we enjoyed a mini-road trip to Iowa City to visit Teacher Man’s sister and her husband along with several other family members for what’s become an annual rite of summer – the Durben family pool party.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law have an amazing house – and just about the most perfect saltwater pool ever. Plus they are really welcoming hosts and make it all look easy and stress-free. (We totaled at least 24 people and my in-laws handled the food and drink and sleeping arrangements seemingly effortlessly!)

We swam, enjoyed an afternoon of frozen margaritas, plenty of food and more swimming. What more could we ask for on an August weekend?

Pool Party! | via

This is how my Saturday morning started. Yes, morning. I’m not ashamed. #NoJudging

Pool Party! | via

Look at this doll – she’s the new daughter of our niece, Lindsey, and her husband, David. Always fun to get my #babyfix!

Pool Party! | via

Is there anything more fun at the pool than a diving board? Joe was loving it!

Pool Party! | via

I love this picture of Joe and cousin Isabelle … such big smiles of utter happiness. These two love the water!

Pool Party! | via

And of course, there’s always a little downtime after a late night sleepover with cousins and an entire day of swimming.

Pool Party! | via

Sweet corn – heavenly.  That is all.

Pool Party! | via

Even Earl the Pug joined the pool party, mostly from the comfort of his own kennel. Full disclosure: he actually fell into the pool by accident the night before. Poor guy – he can’t see very well anymore and I was watching him, but he got a little too close. He was a little surprised, but I grabbed him right away. Earl is not much of a swimmer. ;)

Pool Party! | via

These frogs are taking it all in …

5 Things I've Learned from Working for an Agricultural Organization | via

Happy Sunday night, everyone! I’m going to make this pretty short and sweet right now, mainly because I want to share a blog post I wrote for my “Women in Ag” series over on This week marks my 20th year working for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and in honor of that, I came up with five things I’ve learned over the years, working for an agricultural organization.

I hope you will hop on over to check it out here!

I will be back soon with a new blog post here … I’ve got some fun pictures I’m hoping to share from our weekend in Iowa City, where we attended the 3rd annual Durben family pool party at Teacher Man’s sister’s beautiful home.

Have a great start to your week!

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