The Sweet Start of Summer


Hey you, I hope you had a nice weekend!

It seems we’ve skipped right over spring and on into summer as it was tank top and shorts weather all weekend long. (I promise there’s shorts hiding underneath the bump!) Upper 80s and sunny – Ill take it!


Saturday morning I was up at the crack of dawn, destination: Farmers’ Market! I arrived right when the doors opened at 7am to interview a local farmer for Join My Journey. Can’t wait to tell you about an incredible farming family of 12, and their 20+ year farm to market story. Truly inspiring.


I was in and out within an hour and a half, taking a loop after the interview to pick up veggies and fresh flowers before it got really crowded, then came home and swooped up Ben to go furniture shopping.


We’re in need of a new bedroom set, outdoor furniture set, and for Heaven’s sake, a blasted rocker! While we struck out  on a bed and outdoor sofa, we FINALLY agreed on a rocker/glider combo from Buy Buy Baby. It’ll take 8-12 weeks to arrive, and we’ve got 10 more to go until the little man arrives, so hopefully the manufacturer can get on that, uh, ASAP. Nothing like waiting ’til the last minute!


Later we ventured out for a long walk in the heat. It. Was. Glorious. The farthest I’ve gone in a while!


Fragrant lilacs were blooming everywhere and I couldn’t help but stop and sniff, cough, every single one.


Good thing I’ve got a patient Paul on my hands. ;)


It was too gorgeous to stay indoors so a few hours later we invited a couple friends over and fired up the grill for dinner. It was a really the first night where it was warm enough to sit outdoors until the sun went down. Love that feeling!


Let’s see, what do we have here…a couple pre-made/seasoned burger patties from Whole Foods (wasn’t thrilled with ’em – I liked my copycat Clubhouse Turkey Burgers much better,) fresh asparagus from the Farmers’ Market thrown on the grates sans oil and seasonings then rotated occasionally until cooked, Roasted Potato Wedges, brats, and fresh blackberries sweetened with a little powdered sugar. ‘Twas a fine, summery feast!


Today we all gathered at my parent’s place to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. (It’s actually Monday, so if you know him and see him – make sure to harass him just a little bit!)


It’s tradition for my Mom to make all his summer BBQ faves for the big day, and today was no different.


So much win on just one plate!


Including Judy’s Baked Beans (aka the best baked beans. EVER.) her amazing potato salad (<– if you guys want a full recipe post I’ll do one – just let me know!)


fresh watermelon, and a side salad. Ben bought the watermelon for Saturday night’s BBQ, and I was worried it wouldn’t be sweet enough since it’s still so early, but OMG YUM. Juicy, crisp, and perfectly, summery sweet.


After dinner Finn, my nephew, helped his Papa open gifts…


Then it was time for CAKE!


I feel like it’s been ages since I put my family’s traditional Pepperidge Farms Cake on the blog! The tradition actually started with my Dad.

Many many years ago he forgot my Mom’s birthday until the day of (I know!) and was scrambling to throw her a fine party the evening of. After locating gifts and such he stopped by the grocery store and picked up a frozen Pepperidge Farms Vanilla Cake to dig into a few hours later, not knowing it needed like, 8 hours to thaw in the fridge. When he cut into the cake later that night it was, of course, still frozen and he, of course, was completely busted. ;)

Ever since then we’ve had (thawed) frozen Pepperidge Farms Vanilla Cake for everyone’s birthday. It is SO yummy!


Family time is the best time!


The children started melting promptly at 1, so they took off then Ben and I headed outdoors to enjoy the sunshine with my parents.


It was a lovely (HOT!) afternoon to chat underneath the patio umbrella, enjoying the flowers and the company.


Happy birthday, Dad! Thank you for being exactly who you are!


Well, there’s a tornado watch on the horizon so I think I’m staying put indoors for the rest of the evening – one eye on the sky. I hope you had a wonderful weekend – catch ya’ on the flip side!

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  1. Those baked beans look great!

    It was finally feeling like summer at the end of last week, I had shorts on! Then this weekend hit and it’s in the 50’s, raining and I have a coat on. Maybe one day the weather will make up its mind. :)

  2. Debtgirl 05.19.2013

    Your dad looks like the happiest, nicest man in the world. Best wishes! Think twice before getting dark set of furniture or too matchy matchy. I like mine but sometimes I feel locked in to it because it wasn’t cheap. :-(

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.19.2013

      He is, thank you! Good advice on the outdoor furniture. We’re ready to invest in a great set and are going to be picky about what we end up with!

  3. shandy 05.19.2013

    I thought I saw you and your husband out walking yesterday (I was driving by)! Great day for a walk!

  4. Brittney 05.19.2013

    Please do share your potato salad recipe! It’s one of my husband’s faves & I haven’t found a homemade version that’s just right yet. Have you checked out Costco yet for outdoor furniture? I know it sounds lame, but my parents found an amazing set there two summers ago & had never thought of looking there.

  5. nessa 05.19.2013

    The kids are adorable! And the food looks awesome!

  6. Esther 05.19.2013

    I read your last line as “there’s a tomato watch” and wondered what on earth a tomato watch is. Fortunately I went back and read it again….

    I have two children – a little girl and a little boy. After I had my son, I do not know why, but I can’t rock on anything. I can’t sit on a swing, lifts (elevators) are dodgy and roller-coasters are a out of the question. A rocking chair would have been pointless. It’s five years on (almost to the day) and it hasn’t improved – this little man has done a good job on his mummy :-)

  7. Happy Birthday to your dad! All of your pictures are so cute and the food looks amazing!

  8. Gretchen 05.19.2013

    Pepperidge Farm cakes!!! So my BFF and I used to get them ALL THE TIME for sleepovers at her house (but always chocolate). I think we found one in her mom’s freezer once and then it just continued. We would just get forks and go to town. However, years later she finally admitted that she never really liked them that much. (Crazy.) BUT we always ate them frozen. I thought that’s how they were supposed to be eaten!!

    Then last year I was visiting my in-laws and they had one after dinner. I was so excited until I realized it had been thawed. It just…wasn’t the same. I mean it was still good, and it was still chocolate, (those two words are usually interchangeable) but…I will always prefer my Pepperidge Farm cakes frozen now:)

    Happy Birthday to your dad!

  9. Tracy 05.19.2013

    Please share a full post on the recipes they look great!!

  10. Sandy Arnold 05.19.2013

    Yes, full recipe post please! Other members of my family have made he baked beans and say they are wonderful!

  11. Jan 05.19.2013

    Where is your coral/pink top from. so cute!

  12. michelle 05.19.2013

    the side salad looks awesome!

  13. What a cute tradition with the Pepperidge Farm cake for your dad! Funny how somethings just stick year after year!

  14. Tieghan 05.19.2013

    Looks like such a nice weekend! OMG 80’s! It was snowing here in CO!

  15. Your dress/skirt is fabulous!! I am loving the Summer colors :).

  16. Trisha 05.19.2013

    I was stuck at work all weekend, but if I’d been able, I would have loved to have a weekend JUST like this. Happy Birthday to your dad! I just love your cake tradition. My aunt, uncle, and two cousins celebrate all good things with DQ ice cream cake and I’ve always loved the tradition. :)

  17. Kelly 05.19.2013

    I went to a bbq yesterday and used 3 of your recipes: Judys baked beans, your Moms potato salad and your sangria!! Everything got rave reviews! Thanks for all your awesome receipes!

  18. tripp 05.19.2013

    Could we get the recipe for Judy’s potato salad? I’ve been looking forever to duplicate the stuff my grandpa used to make, and my family affectionately called “tater-lally” (no clue where that came from, but it fit. Thanks!

  19. Lauren Williams 05.19.2013

    Looks like a great weekend! I really need to check out the farmers market in Omaha. It must be birthday season because Today is my birthday :) I was wondering what type of flowers those are at your parents? They are beautiful and I need something to plant :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.20.2013

      Happy belated Birthday, Lauren! I hope you had a great day! :) Those flowers are zinnias. So bright and happy.

  20. Julie 05.19.2013

    Just have to say that I LOVE your blog… I was born and raised in Iowa and although I have moved I still have lots of family there including a sister in DesMoines and a brother in Indianola. When ever I read about your Fam I’m reminded of mine and how wonderful it was to grow up in Iowa and all the great things there are to love about the Midwest. There is just nothing better than family, faith,food, and fun and you capture it all! Keep it up’

  21. Melissa 05.19.2013

    Glad you found a glider! Just FYI, we ordered ours from Buy Buy Baby and it only took like 5 weeks even though we were given the same time frame you were. So fast. We just picked it up yesterday! Hopefully that makes you feel better:)

  22. Candy 05.19.2013

    We had a great summer day here too in California and we went to the beach. We decided to do it again next Sunday but this time invite friends, bring the little bbq and make a party out of it. I will certainly bring Judy’s beans and your Mom’s potato salad. I’ve made the beans before (WE LOVE them) but this will be the first time making the potato salad.

    Silly question… what toe nail polish do you have on? It’s super cute.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.20.2013

      Sounds awesome – can’t go wrong with the beach! The nail polish is OPI but I’m not sure which shade. I picked it out at the salon!

  23. I wish it was summer here! We’ve just started autumn but it is freezing cold already.

  24. jodea @ 05.20.2013

    What a lovely weekend. We have a rose garden near me – I spend a lot of time smelling the roses there in summer!

  25. What a perfect weekend! I love all that summer food – grilling and BBQs are my favorite this time of year! And I love the shirt you’re wearing in those last pics… so cute!

  26. I can’t believe you’re just 10 week away!! So exciting!

  27. Ali 05.20.2013

    I would love to see a post for your moms potato salad, and maybe one for those potato wedges too!

  28. Looks like a fun, fabulous spring weekend! You have the cutest, happiest family! Thanks for sharing.

  29. Emily 05.20.2013

    You are the cutest and I just love your family! You all look like the nicest people :)

  30. Jodie 05.20.2013

    How are those MK sandals? I was thinking of getting them. Comfy for walking?

  31. Hope ya’ll are ok! I know the weather was getting pretty bad out in Iowa. My family is in Omaha and thankfully, the weather is fine there.

    I was thinking of making a turkey burger tonight, so am going to check out your clubhouse turkey burger!

  32. YUM! That grilled asparagus (and everything else you guys cooked!) looks amazing :) Totally jealous of your dinners – I took the easy way out on pre-prepared foods this weekend. haha.

  33. Ashley 05.20.2013

    Can I ask where you got your top? I’m just starting to shop for maternity clothes for the first time and can’t find anything that cute. Thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.21.2013

      I got it at Old Navy. The stores seem to be hit or miss, so I ordered most of my stuff online where they have a better selection!

  34. Cat Yates 05.20.2013

    Nothing beats food on the grill. And in my opinion, Asparagus is best cooked on the grill. Simple but yet SO.GOOD! Happy birthday to your dad!

  35. LOVE all the barbecue food! I can’t wait to get grillin’! The weather has been awesome in Northern California, I just haven’t gotten around to buying any charcoal yet :)

  36. Alex 06.02.2013

    I stopped by the Farmer’s Market after I ran Dam to Dam the other day. It was great! FYI, there’s a place that makes freshly ground peanut butter and the butterscotch flavor is to DIE for! I don’t even like butterscotch all that much but it tastes amazing!

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