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summer in the backyard

summer is flying by way too fast.
i have been spending lots of time tending to my flowers because i looooove my flowers!
and kittys.
and dogs.
and chickens.

i am not ready for school to start (and early mornings and games and more games)
i just want to chill here at home and do summer for like…6 more months.
is that so much to ask?!

Tam - Gorgeous pics!

teyonce - sometimes I am taken back by just how good an eye you have, you set up the perfect shots and get the best results! I always love your posts (all of them of course) but when you post just streams of pictures I find myself going back, happy to look at them all again. i forget how talented my friend is!

Nina Newswanger - Your photos are beautiful!!

KATHY - Beautiful pictures….can’t blame you for wanting to chill 🙂

Kathi - Beautiful pictures! I love your kittens 🙂

Kerri - Wow – your flowers look gorgeous! The heat has been so hard on mine; has really taken a toll on everything (I am in Ellsworth County, Kansas). Sweet kitties, too.

Jill - Love, love, love your patio and yard pictures! Say, will you do a post about your chickens sometime with the details of your coop, your feeders, etc? I’ve always wondered how you have it set up inside the coop.

Tina - Your flowers are so pretty!! And I’m totally with you, I do NOT want summer to end. My 5 kids went back today. Sad face. But on a positive note, at least I won’t get a million calls at work today wanting me to referee a fight from home. LOL.

Angela - Co-sign on not ready for school to start! Your flowers are gorgeous!

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the Gathering at Round Top

way back in May we held the first “Gathering at Round Top”.
we hosted a creative retreat for 12 wonderful women.
it was even better than i had hoped it would be!
tara steele & stephanie ackerman invited me to be a part of their plan and it took me no time at all to say YES!

we stayed all together at The Vintage Round Top.
this was a really great space! there were so many unique features that were beautiful all together.
if you are looking for a place to stay in Round Top – this is it!

tara prepared all the meals for this group.
she was fantastic!
i am still thinking about that cheese dish… it was addictive.

we went to tara’s restaurant called Royer’s Pie Haven.
this was THE CUTEST little place!
i wanted to stay all day and eat all the pies.
and you can order their pies online and she’ll mail them to your house!
it’s basically the best mail you could ever get.

we got to go to Junk Gypsy too!
stephanie and i were very excited about seeing this person.
it did not disappoint!  Sooooo fun, colorful and jam packed with awesomeness!

tara taught a pie making workshop!
i wasn’t sure about the flavor of the junk berry but then i tried it – WHOA.
it was SOOOO GOOD!

these pies were works of art!
so of course we all needed pictures of them…

stephanie taught a stitching workshop that i loved!
but i have no photos of what we made unfortunately.
it was really sweet but hard to explain.
stephanie is such a good teacher! she is funny and encourages everyone to be themselves.

i taught how to make a wreath with a chalkboard in the middle.
the ladies had a lot of fun picking out their fabrics.
so many choices!

we really enjoyed our meal at Royer’s Round Top Cafe!
this place was super quirky and F U N!
i had the pork tenderloin and announced it was officially the best meal i had ever eaten.

look at all those pies!!!

we went out junking because… that’s what you do in Round Top!
we weren’t there during Antique Week(s) so it wasn’t crowded or crazy.
but someday i do want to go back for that!

and we did so much more than this too!
but you just have to experience it sometime to understand that part.

i was a little unsure about being somewhere other than the Craft House for a retreat but as soon as i got there all my fears were gone.
we had such great ladies and so much fun getting to know each other!

thanks to all these women who made our long weekend super amazing!
i hope we all see each other again someday!
i can’t wait to go back to Round Top!

ps:  i road tripped all by myself down to Texas and it was soooo nice!
i listened to Up & Vanished podcast the entire way there AND the entire way back.
that was 18 hours!
it was the perfect entertainment and i was TOTALLY into it!

Candace Barbee - Will there be opportunity for another one of these retreats? Thanks, Candace

April - That looks like such a fun time and a great place! Women have been bonding over making pies and crafts (sewing) for years. What a fun and inspirational idea.

Paige Hull - It was such a pleasure meeting you in Round Top. I loved getting a chance to watch some of the retreat and see you, Tara and Stephanie in action. You ladies rock!! We hope to host you again very soon!!

Jennifer Greeley - Road trips are the best. I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Texas. Hope you can make it back again soon!

Kimberlee - That house is gorgeous! I want to move in and have a Junkberry Pie standing order on Saturdays.

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father’s day gift ideas 2017

i really enjoy shopping for gifts for other people.
when i find something that is a perfect gift – it makes me so happy!
i know that a lot of people feel the opposite and shopping is torture.
or you feel drained by it or like you can never find the right thing for anyone.
SO… my gift to you today is to attempt to help you find a great Father’s Day gift for a dad in your life!
all of these are Amazon Prime links so you can still get it in time for Father’s Day
or have it sent directly to dad himself!

USA Bottle Cap Map
available in USA shape and also all 50 state shapes are available too!
i thought this would look great in a “man-cave”.

Funny Mug from the “favorite child”

Favorite Child T-Shirt
i am positive there are tons of you who need to buy this for your dad.


ATOMIC TRIMMER Nose & Ear Hair Trimmer
how funny is this?!
you definitely know a dad that needs this!


YETI Rambler
craig got this cup for christmas and it was THE perfect gift!
he uses it every single day!
YETI cups keep your drink as hot or as cold as it was when you poured it – for a LONG time.

this is a board game we’ve been playing forever!


Watch Ya’ Mouth Board Game

Reverse Charades
a team acts out the clue for one person instead of the other way around…very funny!

Trivial Pursuit Family Edition


 Personal Library Kit
for the Dad who reads but wants his book back after you’ve read it.

Personal Book Assistant – Page Holder




subtle sign from Primitives by Kathy


Book Light

Stadium Seat 
NECESSITY for any Dad who has to go to lots of sporting events!
these chairs will save your back and rear end on those long tournament days.
absolutely worth every penny!


excellent gift for the dad who is in shape or wants to get in better shape!



Dewalt Drill
this is the drill we have at our house and it’s been a GREAT purchase!

Dewalt Drill Bit Set to go with the drill!

Complete Car Care Kit

Handheld Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner

Bacon Air Freshner

Magnetic Phone Mount for all phones

The Amazon Echo
this is a huge favorite in our house!
it has been a SUPER purchase that we recommend to everybody.
it is $40 off right now too!
and the Echo Dot is the second best thing!
we have this set up in other areas of our house hooked up to existing speakers.
we have said “what did we ever do with out Alexa?”
i think any Dad would love an Echo or an Echo Dot.
they are easy to use and very easy to set up.


All Weather Outdoor Speakers
we have these speakers hanging up on our back patio (with the echo dot)
and they are AWESOME!
when we are way out at the fire pit we can still hear our music easily.

Zero Gravity Chair
i can’t say this is my favorite thing to look at on our patio BUT it is my husband’s favorite chair to sit in.
And he said it HAD to go on this list because it’s so comfortable!
he thinks all the dudes in blogland need this chair.

i have put this Homemade Ice Cream Maker on several lists but that’s because it was the BEST gift i ever bought for craig!
he loves it so much!
it has become his “thing” – he makes the homemade ice cream!
and it is soooo so yummy!
it is such a fun treat to have on summer nights.

i love these Funny Socks for Dads by Blue Q.

Leaf Blower
kind of a random gift maybe BUT a leaf blower is my favorite yard tool!
you can clean anything in a fraction of the time!
this is the one we have and we ordered it on amazon so i can tell you that it works.

Metal Detector
guys love these things!
it’s that deeply engrained “hunter” in all of them.


Fire Pit 
making memories in the backyard around a campfire is what summer is all about!
i really like this rectangle shaped one too!

Telescoping Marshmallow Roasting Sticks    
These extend out to 30 inches!




The OBSESSIVE CHEF Bamboo Cutting Board
perfect gift for a cook that likes things done very precisely.

Electric Griddle
great for making family-size batches for breakfast, lunch & dinner

Smiley Face Nylon Spatula
every great pancake maker needs a really happy pancake flipper!
it’s so fun!

Coffee Bean Grinder for freshly ground coffee every morning


Milk Frother Wand and Stainless Steel Frothing Pitcher
an easy way to get a fancy coffee house drink at home.
bring on the lattes!

Bear Paws Meat Shredders
we love having these to shred up meat in the crock pot or after we’ve made something in the smoker.


Grill Utensils


Pizza Stone for the Grill
this is a fun way to use the grill!


Pizza on The Grill Cookbook
(don’t tell but this is ordered for a certain father that lives at my house…)

Grill Basket for vegetables
this was the gift we gave mr. duerksen last year and we use it ALL the time!


Grill Mat to protect your deck from grease or stains


Stuffed Burger Press
to make perfectly sized burgers filled with anything you’d want!


BBQ Skewer Shish Kabob Set


Putting Green – 3′ x 9′
great for the office or at home too!

Exploding Golf Balls
this made me crack up and i thought that so many kids would love to give this to their dads.

Golf Club covers – in all the NCAA teams


a “tire swing” bird feeder
my dad really likes bird watching and having as many birds in the yard as possible.
i think this would be a great addition to his bird feeders.


Horse Head or Unicorn Head Squirrel Feeder
i know i shared this last year but it’s just so funny i had to share it again!


Giant Connect Four
i thought this looked like a lot of fun to have out in the backyard for parties or family time.


Classic Corn Hole Game
great family game that we’ve loved for years – also fun to have at a party or family reunion!

Giant “Jenga” Tumbling Blocks Game 
tower gets up to 5 feet high!

Flashlight Frisbee
something fun to do even when it’s dark!


Giant Inflatable Basketball Hoop for the pool

Tent for camping far away or in your own backyard

Ultra Bright Camping Lantern


Video Projector for outdoor movie nights!
we love having a projector for family movie nights or our kids’ friends coming over.

a gift card is ALWAYS a good gift for someone to pick out just what they want!
and it’s EASY.

If you’re curious about my other Gift List Ideas… CLICK HERE for all the gift idea posts i’ve ever done!


Jenny B. - I know it’s past Father’s Day, but this is a great list! 🙂 My 12-year-old is most definitely getting that bacon air freshener in his stocking this Christmas! Ha! 🙂

Kellie - Bought that projector for the hubs! Thanks!

Ohio12 - Do you have a meat smoker you recommend?

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summer is here!

kansas in the end of may and beginning of june is THE BEST!
Yellow fields of wheat everywhere you go!

talby got to go to prom!
she went with a group of friends and had a really fun time.

picking out her dress was actually lots of fun!
annie came along and we put her in charge of hanging the dresses back on the hanger.
i was in charge of getting the next dress off of the hanger and ready to put on.
and then we wished annie needed a gown for something special too because this one was SO cute!

a sleepy Friday night at our house while “watching” the NBA finals.

Chickens and peonies! two of my favorite things!

these black & white ones are two of the “babies” – getting so big.

love my shirt from All Good Things Collective!  It’s really really soft!

i think i was trying to take a picture of the house being really clean but these guys wanted a pic instead.
they are cuter than a clean house anyway.

this spring in the flower beds, daisies came up EVERYWHERE!
which was fine with me!
and ladybugs were everywhere too – that’s for good luck,  right?

a wheatfield before it was yellow on a stormy day.
i drive this road alllll the time.

craig had a birthday and we can’t remember doing anything!
i took this picture of the donuts so i know we had that – but otherwise we have completely forgotten.
must be our age…

the building behind him is the little bitty hospital where he was born.
we were in that small town for a track meet just before his birthday and i had him pose for this memory.

i spray painted an old bed for the Craft House last week in this beautiful bright sun yellow.
it made me feel so happy!
and all that pom pom trim at hobby lobby always make me smile.

scott’s birthday is just after craig’s.
to celebrate we ended up at the zoo!
interesting choice for a 19 year old’s birthday but it was fun and something we do much anymore now that they are getting so much older.
when we arrived we found out it was also a Cinco De Mayo festival going on!
to get from one area to another at the zoo our whole family had to walk single file straight through the dance floor FULL of people dancing and celebrating to a very loud live band… it was so funny!
Scott chose Texas Roadhouse for his birthday dinner and we even go him to ride the birthday saddle!
i used to cook their favorite meal for their birthdays but now we go out to eat at the restaurant of their choice.
it’s just easier with kids not living at home, busy schedules of teens and all that goes along with that.
and then after dinner – i make them take a selfie.
because i can!

happy birthday scotty boy!

i had craig teach me how to use the jigsaw!
power tools make crafting even more fun!

annie learned to use the riding mower last week!
she was very cautious (s l o w) but there’s nothing wrong with that.
hopefully she’ll want to do it more than just that one time.
this below was the view behind me when taking that picture of annie – quite dramatic!

the peonies at the craft house are always so gorgeous.
And half the house still has the old purple & cream trim while the other half is sporting the new navy & white!
Painting a house is such a long process!

we took all three of these nerds to the vet at one time.
but at least it’s over and they are up to date on their vaccinations.

talby competed in track all year in the 300 hurdles & 100 hurdles.
she’s the blurry one on the right side of the pic.
but hey… check out that sunset!

the girls 4×4 relay team made it all the way to State!
Talby was an alternate for this team.
three of the four girls on that state team were freshmen!
can’t wait to watch them over these next three years – they are so fast!

meixcan food on mother’s day for the win!
and clearly we liked our meals – clean plate club.
also i took a 3 hour nap that day!
craig painted the guest room for me and arranged for new flooring to be put in it as my mother’s day gift.
i was definitely happy about that.
annie knows that starbucks is my favorite and got me a gift card (to take her there – ha!)

on the last week of school annie had a choir concert.
we curled her hair and put on a little makeup and suddenly she was 20 years old!
what the heck?
slow down with all this growing-up-at-warp-speed stuff kids!
it’s not nice.

see what i mean?

but not too grown to bring home giant frogs from the pond nearby just for fun.
this was the biggest frog i’ve seen/held in my life.

first summer campfire in the back yard fire pit.
this spot is pure loveliness.
we will be watching the sunset as many times as we can from this spot.

and these are all my plants i have to plant.
i did put about 1/3 of them in the ground already but the rest is waiting patiently for me to get my act together!
thankfully i like gardening a lot – not digging out the rocks and the roots… just regular flower planting.
and speaking of that – i need to go water these pots right now.

Sarah D - I’ve been following your blog for years and check in every once in a while. I cannot believe how fast kids grow! My 13 year old is taller than me now at 5’10! God bless you in your journey! Thanks for still blogging! I love taking photos and you have SO many great photos!

meg duerksen - HI meredith! I got that rug about 2 or 3 months ago from!

Ann - Yea for Talbys modest dress!!!! How very classy!!!

meredith - Great pics Meg! Can you tell me where you got the rug that’s in your family room? Thanks! 🙂

Kathy L - What a lovely post……lots going on and beautiful pics!!

Dana Powell - I just love your happy blog. 🙂 And today I was doing laundry and thought ‘that was dumb’…and instantly thought of you. It should be your trademark phrase!!

Lorri - Love this post! A sweet, happy peek inside family life. Happy summer!

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