Author Archives: Ginny Marie

Easter Scavenger Hunt {Spin Cycle}

I started a new Easter tradition a couple of years ago with Lily and Emmy. I wanted to do something special at home; my sister-in-law would have an egg hunt at her house, and I always give the girls Easter baskets. *Ahem* I meant to say that the Easter bunny brings Easter baskets for the girls.

I decided to put clues inside plastic eggs instead of candy. The clues would lead the girls to an Easter present. The first year, I gave them roller blades. I had wanted to buy them and needed a good excuse, so they became Easter gifts. Last year, my gifts weren’t as extravagant as you can see in the video below. You will also get to see my messy house…ignore that part, please! Since Emmy couldn’t read yet, she handed the eggs to Lily and Lily read the clue.

Click here to watch on YouTube.

Preparations for this annual Easter scavenger hunt are on underway. I still need to think up some new clues and wrap the new presents! This year, Lily and Emmy will be getting (SHHH!) My Little Ponies.

Other preparations are underway, too. I have the ham in the fridge. Last night, the choir rehearsed our Alleluias in preparation for Easter morning. And loyal church volunteers worked in the dark to set up the tomb, which Roman guards will watch over this weekend. On Easter morning, the guards will be gone and the tomb will be empty! He is Risen!

guarded tomb

Share your Easter, Passover or Spring traditions in the Linky below, and be sure to visit my co-host, Gretchen! Please use #SpinCycle when you promote your posts. Stop by on Monday to see what next week’s prompt will be!

Second Blooming


Anew Riesling Review

I’m usually a red wine drinker, so when Anew Wines sent me a couple of bottles of their Riesling to review, I was skeptical. Would it be too sweet? Would my husband like it? How should I serve it?


That Sunday, it was warm enough to grill outside. I invited my father-in-law over for dinner, and served chilled Anew Riesling with our casual meal of pork burgers and potato chips. My father-in-law is also a red wine drinker, so I was wondering what he would think about the wine.


The wine tasted crisp and was refreshing; it wasn’t too sweet or too dry. My husband said it would be a nice wine to drink in the summertime; my father-in-law liked it as well and said he would drink it again. I can just imagine sitting on the patio sipping a glass of Anew Riesling this summer!

Tasting notes (From the Anew website):
Opening with aromas of bright fruit, subtle spice and citrus, Anew Riesling offers a harmonious blend of pure fruit flavor, heightened aromatics and balanced acidity. Expressive flavors of fresh peach and a hint of spice give this wine a crisp, refreshing essence. Visit Anew Riesling on Facebook.

Anew Riesling is one of the sponsors of our big Mother’s Day Giveaway! There’s still time to enter!

No Mother is Perfect

Click the picture to see what you could win!

(I received two bottles of Anew Riesling to review. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.)


Your Spin Cycle Prompt {week of 4/14}

This week is Holy Week, leading up to Easter, and also Passover. So for this week’s Spin Cycle, Gretchen and I are asking you to write about your Easter or Passover traditions.

Tell us your favorite recipes, crafts, traditions; anything about Easter or Passover!

Easter Table

Our Easter table last year

Link up your post any day this week, and then come back on Friday to see what Gretchen and I write about! Please use #SpinCycle when you promote your posts.

Second Blooming

(At least two bloggers I know still have cat posts…link them up here, too!)


Once, I Loved a Dog {Spin Cycle}

Once, I had a dog.

Wait…that wasn’t me.

That was my old boyfriend. He had a dog, a dog named Josie.

Josie was a black and white medium sized dog. She couldn’t live with Boyfriend, because his apartment didn’t allow pets. She lived behind the shed of a friend’s house. Every day, Boyfriend visited Josie and made sure she had enough food and water. Sometimes he would hide some cash wrapped in foil in the bag of dog food for his friend. The friend didn’t want his wife to know he was borrowing money from Boyfriend.

On the weekends, Boyfriend would take Josie to an open field. There, he would throw a frisbee for her to catch. When I was with Boyfriend, I would tag along. I gave Josie lots of pats, belly rubs and kisses. She was a good dog.

About a year into our relationship, Boyfriend was able to buy a small house. Now Josie could live with him. Sometimes, I waited for Boyfriend at the house when he was working. Then Josie and I would play together. I would throw a tennis ball from the bedroom to the living room and she would chase the ball and bring it back. She sat next to me and kept me company while I watched TV on the old couch as I waited for Boyfriend.

Josie was a great dog.

After Boyfriend and I broke up, I missed him, and I missed Josie. I missed petting her long fur and looking into her dark eyes. I missed playing catch with her. I missed her warm and open companionship. Her faithfulness. Her loyalty.

I wondered if she missed me, too.

I never wondered if Josie loved me. I never wondered if I said the wrong thing to her, or if I did something to make her mad. In Josie’s eyes, I could do no wrong. She was such a sweet dog.

I used to joke that I missed Josie more than I missed Boyfriend, but in the end, that might have been true. Boyfriend and I broke up over 15 years ago and I never saw Josie again. Maybe it was better this way. Even though Josie is probably no longer around, at least I have good memories of her jumping up to catch that frisbee.

She caught it almost every single time.

Second Blooming

Link up your post here or at my co-host Gretchen’s: Are you a dog person or a cat person? Use the hashtag #SpinCycle when you promote your post!

Please be kind and visit our Spinners; come back next Monday for next week’s prompt!


A Visit to the Gould Family Farm

At the end of March, I had the opportunity to visit the Gould Family hog farm. I’m part of the Illinois Field Mom program through IL Farm Families, which takes suburban moms like me out of the city and into the country to talk to real farmers.

The Gould farm is family owned. The hog operation is a “farrow to wean” which means that the Goulds specialize in artificial insemination, gestation (pregnancy) and farrowing (birthing). The piglets stay on the Goulds’ farm until they are weaned, and then they are transported to a nursery on another farm. They retain ownership of the pigs until they are sold to Hormel and used as pork.

Gould Farm also grows corn, soybeans and wheat. The manure collected from the pigs is used as fertilizer in the fields. The corn and soybeans are then used to feed the hogs. Our visit focused primarily on the hog side of the farm.  As I show you some pictures from my visit, I’m going to imagine some questions you might ask if you were looking over my shoulder.

holding piglet

This little piglet is only two days old.

Why are you wearing gloves, a hair net and coveralls?

What you can’t see in the picture is that I’m also wearing plastic boots over my shoes, and I walked through disinfectant before I entered the hog barn! It’s all part of biosecurity precautions that most hog farms use to prevent the spread of disease between herds. Piglets, just like newborn babies, are more susceptible to diseases. Right now, farmers are being cautious because of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV). This virus can sweep through a farm and devastate the herd.

These precautions are not just for visitors. Farm Mom Kate Hagenbuch showers every time she enters her pig barns, and then changes into clean clothes that are kept inside the barn. When new female pigs (gilts) are brought to the farm, they are quarantined for two weeks before joining the rest of the herd.

nursing piglets

Why is the mother pig separated from her babies with those metal bars?

At this point in the sow’s life, she is in a farrowing room. There are a few reasons for those bars. The mother pig is able to stand, sit, and lie down to nurse her piglets, and the likelihood that she will accidentally lie down on one of her babies, crushing it, is greatly reduced. Sadly, it still happens occasionally. The piglets are free to move around the mother. The sow has access to her own food and water 24 hours a day, and her health is individually monitored. This arrangement also allows mothers who have a small litter to have piglets placed with her from a larger litter. If a sow has up to 20 piglets, that mother might not have enough milk for all the piglets. An average sized litter, or parity, is about 13 piglets.

piglets (2)

What about the lack of exercise? How does that affect the health of the sow?

The Goulds have been hog farmers for a long time, and their pigs weren’t always kept in this way. They have observed hog behavior for many years. Domestic pigs are not very active to begin with, and in a larger pen, the mother pig would probably lie down in the same spot until it was feeding time. Pigs form hierarchical societies, and at feeding time, the senior sows would fight with lesser pigs if they were together in the same pen. Farrowing stalls help protect sows from more aggressive members of the herd. More information about individual housing versus group housing is available at PorkCares.

two piglets

The piglets are so cute! Didn’t you just want to take one home with you?

I did! The piglet I held was so sweet! However, there is a reason 48 pigs were used in the filming of the movie Babe. Baby pigs grow fast! At the age of three weeks, they are weaned and sent to a nursery at another farm. In just six months, they are about 270 pounds and are ready to be sold to market. These little piglets are specially bred to be long and lean and provide a consistent pork product for consumers.

sow and piglets

These are just some of the things I learned during my farm visit with the Field Moms. If you have other questions, please ask in the comments below and I’ll answer the best I can, or connect you with someone who can answer your question. Many thanks to the Gould family for hosting us on their farm, to Farm Moms Kate Hagenbuch and Pam Jansson for answering all our questions, and to Illinois Farm Families and the IL Pork Producers Association for providing this opportunity!


P.S. I participate as an IL Field Mom under my real name, Christa Grabske. Thank you for following along!

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