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Grilled Cheese with Pesto & Tomato

Grilled Cheese with Pesto & Tomato is a delicious and quick lunch. Made with either homemade or store bought pesto and fresh tomatoes from your garden, you’ll love this sandwich!ingredients for Grilled Cheese with Pesto & Tomato

Today I was a short order cook for lunch! (Some kids wanted plain grilled cheese. Some wanted grilled cheese (sharp cheddar makes a DELISH grilled cheese!) with tomatoes. And the adults wanted the sandwich loaded. And what a lunch!! Grilled cheese on homemade bread with homemade pesto and tomatoes from my garden! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Grilled Cheese with Pesto & Tomato

It’s super easy to make this – and a great way to use up left over pesto!! Butter one side of your bread and slather pesto on the other. Layer sliced tomatoes and cheese.

add tomato

Arrange everything just so…

cook the Grilled Cheese with Pesto & Tomato in cast iron

Cook in a cast-iron skillet! Yum, yum. 🙂

cook the Grilled Cheese with Pesto & Tomato in cast iron

Do you like grilled cheese sandwiches? What’s your favorite twist on an old stand-by?


Moving the Barn! Really this time… :-)

Have you wondered if it’s possible to move a barn? We got a free barn and today I’m sharing the story of moving the barn! In today’s installment, I share a lot of pictures of how our free barn was moved from an old location to a new home. You can read the other posts in the series here.

getting the barn ready to move

When last I left you with the barn saga, “our” barn was supported and beamed and ready for transport.  We were so excited to move the barn! Every day we waited to hear that today would be the day! But many minor catastrophes happened to delay the actual move date. For THREE weeks we waited. The first two weeks, everyone stayed close to our town.  No one wanted to miss seeing the barn drive off its foundation. Every day we fielded numerous calls. “Did they call?” “Are they coming today?” “When IS that barn going to move?” We had no answers, only more excuses.

Moving the Barn!

The third week, people went back to life. Our extended family started running errands in the Quad Cities and doing the work they had neglected the previous two weeks. Remember the Aug 1 deadline? Well, Aug 1st came and went. Then it was Aug 2nd. Then Aug 3rd. The original owners were getting antsy. They needed it off their property.

On the afternoon of Aug 4, my husband called me: “Be at the barn in 15 minutes. They’re moving it. right. now.” Of course! Everyone was out of town. But not me. I ran with the kids to van and we raced out of town. We arrived at the barn not a moment too soon. For three weeks, we had been kept waiting. And then, for the big event, we had a 10 minute notice?! Patterson and Company were firing up the big rig when I arrived with the kids and the camera.

You can refresh your memory of how the barn looked for the three weeks it was waiting to move with these posts.

Essentially, the barn was cut off its original foundation (which was poured with concrete mixed by hand!), pulled off the foundation, taken across the road, turned 90 degrees, and driven to our property through a maturing bean field (those were some expensive beans we smooshed!). But at least we didn’t have deal with any electric poles.

It was truly an amazing sight. The pictures speak for themselves, so enjoy!

getting the barn ready to move

getting the barn ready to move

getting the barn ready to move


getting the barn ready to move

getting the barn ready to move

moving the barn

moving the barn

moving the barn

moving the barn

moving the barn

moving the barn

moving the barn

moving the barn

moving the barn

moving the barn

moving the barn

In case you are wondering what we intend to do with this barn, we are converting it into offices, a showroom, a shop, and storage for our home building / remodeling company, Oak Tree Homes. We hope to have it completed this winter. Stay tuned next week to see how Patterson got it from its temporary location on our property to its new foundation. This was by far the trickiest part of the move!


Should have gone? or Should have went? ~ 5 Minute Grammar Lesson

I haven’t written a 5 Minute Grammar post in a long time…and it’s high time for a new one!

Should have gone or Should have went? Not sure which is grammatically correct? Here's a quick five-minute grammar lessons to teach you!

I’m not sure if my topic today is an Iowa-ism, or a common problem, but I hear it so often here in Iowa, it grates on me. Even my own dear hubs gets this one wrong, which is confusing to me. I don’t remember him saying this before we moved to Iowa in 2006 – but as often as I hear it now – and as many times as I have “gently” (and not so gently) corrected him – it must be normal to him or he would fix it. 🙁

Should have gone or Should have went?

Which is right?

I should have gone to the store.


I should have went to store.

If you chose #2, you’re WRONG!  If you chose #1, you’re RIGHT!


If you got it right, pat yourself on the shoulder (or your back if you can reach it…)! 🙂

The nitty gritty for this particular grammar rule involves irregular verbs and past participles. If you really care, read this.

Otherwise, please trust me. I teach College Composition. I have a Master’s Degree in English. Never, ever, ever, ever say “I SHOULD HAVE WENT.”  Or, for that matter, never put have and went together in any construction. Have and Went never go next to each other in educated English.

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Enjoy!

Is the correct phrase should have gone or should have went? Learn which is correct and why!

More grammar posts you may like:

Your welcome or You’re welcome?

How to make the word PEOPLE possessive

Bias or Biased?

Do to or Due to?

Less or Fewer?

If you’re looking for helpful grammar resources, here are my top picks:

Grammarly – Instantly fix over 250 types of errors with this free web-based grammar checker!

Strunk & White Elements of Style

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation 

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation 

The Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Price-Matching List 8/17

Here are the best deals I see this week. I print this list out and take it and the ads with me when I go grocery shopping. It’s super easy to use this list to price-match at Walmart or Fareway, or it lets me know what I think are the cheapest weekly items if I shop elsewhere. Sticking mostly to loss leaders, and buying enough of the non-perishable items to last me through until the next sale is one way I keep my grocery budget low.

At Adli ~

  • Green & Red Grapes – 79 cents / lb
  • Peaches, Plums & Nectarines – 29 cents ea
  • Seedless Watermelon – $2.99 ea

At Fareway ~

  • Georgia Peaches – 69 cents / lb (this might be cheaper than Aldi’s price)
  • Celery Stalk – 88 cents ea
  • Bone in Chicken Breasts – 88 cents / lb
  • Bartlett Pears – 99 cents / lb

At HyVee ~

  • *2 Day Sale – Thurs & Fri only
  • *Bananas – 39 cents / lb
  • *HyVee Cottage Cheese 99 cents ea / 24 ounces
  • *HyVee Cereal – 99 cents ea
  • *10% off all the frozen items you can fit into one sack! – Might be a good time to stock of frozen organics that it’s hard to find coupons for!
  • Green Cabbage – 49 cents / lb
  • Cucumbers – 59 cents ea
  • Green Beans – 1.28 / lb
  • Fresh Cilantro – 2 for $1
  • Red Onions – 88 cents / lb
  • Jalapeno Peppers – 88 cents / lb
  • Roma Tomatoes – 88 cents / lb
  • Plums – 99 cents / lb

What are the best deals you see?




My Helpful Sink

There are probably a million safety reasons for me to be schwacked for using my sink in this manner, but sometimes when I’m busy cooking, my sink is my best friend –

~ it amuses my 15 month old
~ it keeps her contained
~ it bathes her and washes her clothes
~ it helps her mop my floor… :-/

Mind you, I don’t stick her in there and then run off to other areas of the house. I stay close at hand to make sure she sits right there. And sit she does. I leave the water on a trickle and give her some plastic bowls and spoons to play with, and she lets me work.

Am I the only weird person, or do some of you do this too?

I’m sharing this over at Works for Me Wednesday.

Italian Zucchini Pie

Italian Zucchini Pie

Looking for a great way to use up zucchini? This is a fabulous recipe for Italian Zucchini Pie. It’s a twist on both zucchini and pie. It’s great fresh and freezes well too! This recipe was originally given to me by a good friend with an enormous organic garden and orchard in Southwestern Missouri.

Italian Zucchini Pie

Yield: 8 pieces

Italian Zucchini Pie

Italian Zucchini Pie
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes


  • 4 cups sliced (or shredded) zucchini
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup butter (or oil)
  • 2 Tbs parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (I usually use "real" crushed garlic)
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tsp. prepared mustard
  • 9" pie shell


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a 10" skillet, cook the zucchini, onions, and garlic (if using fresh) in butter and/or oil until tender (about 10 minutes).
  3. Stir in the parsley and seasonings. In a large bowl, blend the eggs and cheese together and stir into the veggie mix.
  4. Prepare the crust and spread mustard on the crust.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
  6. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
  7. Enjoy!

I have frozen these in years with bumper zucchini crops and intend to freeze a couple this week. I freeze them before baking and then just pop them in the oven while they are still frozen and bake for 34-40 minutes.

Yum! Enjoy. This recipe is shared at Life As Mom, Real Food Forager, Simple Lives Thursday and  Food Renegade. For more yummy ideas, check out their blogs!

Getting the barn ready to move…

My husband and I moved an old barn to our homestead and restored it in 2009. Here are a bunch of pictures of getting the barn ready to move and a description of how it was moved. Last week I started telling the story of the barn we are in the process of restoring (rebuilding?). You can read how we came to be the proud owners of a “free” barn here, if you missed it. Today I’m showing how we got the barn ready to move from its old location to its new home a quarter mile away.

Getting the barn ready to move

Getting the barn ready to move.

Take a look at the first set of pictures here to refresh your memory of how the barn originally looked. Because we didn’t want “our” barn on someone else’s property (and because the original owners said they’d burn it if we didn’t move it by August 1, 2009), we had to get it to our property. It actually sounds a lot more complicated than it was. My husband is pretty resourceful. Whereas I had no idea how to proceed, he found a company that moves homes, and other enormous structures! Who knew people actually make a living doing that – and that the premier home moving company in the United States happens to be located only about an hour from us? Fate?! When they said moving the barn would be a piece of cake, and the quoted price was marginally affordable, we were really excited!

So, we hired the moving company, Jeremy Patterson House Moving, Inc, and then we had to prepare the barn and its new home. The old owner, Art, tore off the wing, or second barn, that wasn’t salvageable. He also tore down the little office that was located on the front  of the barn, as well as a concrete ramp that allowed vehicles to drive to the mow. My husband and our construction company employees (one of whom happened to be the great-grandson of the man who built the barn), cleaned out years worth of stuff, mostly old grain and animal droppings – a delightful job, I was told!!Getting the barn ready to move

While Art was prepping the actual barn, my hubs also had to prepare the new home. That included digging a new foundation, pouring new footers, and back-filling.Getting the barn ready to move

Once the barn and the new location were prepped, Jeremy Patterson’s crew showed up to do their part. They brought enormous steel beams, lots of tires, and a huge hydraulic lift.

First, they built jacks out of 6x6s throughout the bottom of the barn, and then they put steel beams on top of the jacks to support the barn.
Getting the barn ready to move

Getting the barn ready to move

They also had to support the beams in the huge mow so they added a lot of cross braces to keep everything steady.
Getting the barn ready to move

Getting the barn ready to move

Getting the barn ready to move

This is a picture of the hydraulic jack they hooked up to the barn. I’m not very mechanically inclined, but I thought it was pretty cool.
Getting the barn ready to move

Once they were finished, the beams stuck out of the barn.
Getting the barn ready to move

Of course, it was pretty late in the day when they got to this point so they wouldn’t move it the same day they prepped it.
Getting the barn ready to move

And then, Jeremy Patterson experienced serious health issues which landed him in the hospital. After he got out of the hospital, equipment broke down. Then it rained and the fields were too muddy. We thought we would never get the barn moved. The days ticked away. The August 1st deadline for getting the barn onto our property approached. And everyone was wondering if the barn would be moved after all.

Of course, you know that it eventually moved or there wouldn’t be much a story. But you’ll have to wait until next week to see the awesome pictures I took that day!


Zucchini Chocolate Cake

I promised more zucchini recipes if my garden started producing, and what do you know? It has! So here’s a recipe for the enormous zucchini that gets away from you and is only good for bread! The same woman who traded corn for bread also gave me this recipe. It’s de-lish!

Zucchini Chocolate Cake

  • 1/2 c. margarine – (I used butter since I don’t use margarine)
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar – (I used a mix of refined and raw sugar – but now that I am out of refined sugar I will only use raw)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c. sour milk – (I added 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice to a 1/2 c milk)
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 c. finely shredded zucchini

1. Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 9×13 pan.

2. Cream margarine (butter), oil, and sugar. Add in and beat well, eggs, vanilla,  and milk.

3. Mix all the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients.

4. Stir in finely shredded zucchini – make sure you press all the water out of your zucchini before you add it.

5. Put the cake batter in the prepared 9×13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy! It’s absolutely delicious topped with strawberries. The strawberries in the picture are thawed berries from my parents’ garden. Not much beats them – except when they are fresh, of course!

Do you like zucchini? What’s your favorite way to eat it?



If someone offers you a free barn…

Is there such a thing as a free barn? Here’s the story of our “free” barn – how we moved it, restored it, and lived in it for over two years. Now it’s the home to our construction company Oak Tree Homes.

free iowa barn

If someone offers you a free barn…

Run! Run far! Run fast! As we’ve learned over the last two years, there is no such thing as a free barn. Unless you have deep pockets and/or a strong desire to preserve American heritage, be very skeptical of free barns.

Several years ago my husband and I bought the perfect 5 acre lot of land to build our forever home on. After following the military around for ten years and moving every year and half on average, we were so excited by the prospect to have a “forever” home.

The land is gorgeous. It has trees. It’s up on a little hill. It has pasture. It’s removed from almost everyone else. We love it except for one thing. It was missing a barn – and any tie to American farm heritage. There were no out buildings on it. And that was a big deal to us.

As fate would have it, our closest neighbors (a quarter mile away) had a round topped barn in bad shape that they were weeks from burning to the ground.

free barn

It was an old dairy barn, built in two stages. The main part was built in 1940s from a kit purchased in Wisconsin. It was built around an older barn dating from the late 1800s. You can see that there were two portions of the barn and that one, the side wing, had collapsed. While the front potion of the barn was still standing, it was in extremely rough condition. The roof was missing a lot of shingles and some siding. There were holes in the floor. Wild animals had taken up residence there.

Still, we fell in love with this barn.

free iowa barn

Where else do you see workmanship and rafters like that? To build a new barn to look old would be outrageously, and prohibitively, expensive.

So when the barn owners said we could have it, at no cost, we were thrilled!! Little did we realized what exactly we were getting ourselves in to.

Next week, I’ll share the story of moving the barn from its old home, to its new home. It was so amazing to watch this huge old barn drive off into the Iowa sunset!

If you’d like to see how the barn looks today, click over to my Facebook page for the most current picture. While you’re there, go ahead and “like” it so you don’t miss any of the story! You’ll find the rest of the story here.

Read the rest of the story here.

Getting the barn ready to move

Moving the barn

Pulling the barn to the new foundation

Fire! and haunted barns

I hope you enjoy this story! We love our free barn. <3

Weekly Goals 8/1

Last week’s post with my weekly goals actually helped keep me on track! So I’m doing it again.

Here were my goals last week:

  1. Grade my online class
  2. Marinate and freeze chicken
  3. Bake 10 loaves of bread
  4. Blog about moving our barn
  5. Clean and purge one kid bedroom
  6. Work on our business books
  7. Celebrate 14 years of marriage with my hubby
  8. Purge plastic kitchen containers
  9. Clean 2 drawers in my kitchen
  10. Weed & plant new seeds in my garden. I have officially LOST the war with the cucumber beetles. I