Oct 6, 2019

The Best 31 Days of the Year

As we wrap up our first official weekend of harvest season, I took some time to reflect on our accomplishments and the beginning of a new season.

New seasons are exciting, but they don’t come without growing pains. The growing pains have been settling in so hard this week that even a bottle of Tylenol can’t shut them down.

It’s no lie that everybody loves fall and everything that comes with it: from the crisp air to the beautiful foliage. However, adjusting from the fun and fancy free schedule of summer to the lock down the hatches and get all you can done before winter comes can come with quite a bit of stress and angst if we let it.

There are only so many hours in a day and so many days in a week. And sadly, only 31 days in October. Focus on the things that matter the most to you and take care of the rest in January when the snow’s flying.

It’s the most beautiful time of the year.

Savor it.

Let’s make the most of those 31 days.

Oct 4, 2019

That Very Same Spot

One of my favorite spots in the house is right here. It’s where we eat as a family almost every single night, regardless of what’s going on.

Sometimes we make exceptions. We might eat in the field or in our farm shop during busy seasons. In the summer on a cooler day we will enjoy a meal out on the picnic table or in the chairs sitting on the front porch. We’ve also been known to have a picnic on the living room floor in front of the fireplace. But for the most part, this spot right here is where we share all our hopes, dreams, goals and sometimes, we may even have an argument or two.

You don’t have to have a decorated, set table like I prefer. Consider it a hobby of mine. But I do think it’s important to have a spot. A spot where your family can find comfort in sharing what’s on their heart. A spot where recipes are repeated and pencils from paperwork or homework accidentally carve a scratch in the wood. A place to gather at the end of a busy day.

Growing up, our 'spot' was at my mom’s kitchen table.

No matter what was going on in the world, I always knew that was my retreat and where I’d find peace. It was something I always took for granted... but something changed on September 11, 2001, when we sat down as a family to eat that night. I started looking at mom’s kitchen table in a much different light.

And I knew someday, I wanted that very same spot in my own home.

Oct 1, 2019

Fall on Hold

The calendar says #fall is here and so does Starbucks and Facebook memories, but Mother Nature is resisting.

A new #season is like this thing with ingredients and instructions that all measure up just so like our favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies. You know, great grandma’s “secret” recipe, that at one time, came off of the bag of Tollhouse chocolate chips. That one. It sort of feels like we forgot the chocolate chips or even the butter and we can’t make cookies until we get back to the store or wander down to our neighbors to borrow said missing ingredients. Do people still do that? Maybe we will wait on Amazon. “Alexa, send me some brown sugar!”

The Pumpkin Spice Latte has been on the menu since August 1st, women have done their fall boutique shop hops in their cute seasonal graphic tees and families have ventured out to the patch to find their perfect pumpkins, but farmers are waiting patiently to harvest their crops.

Even though it’s 90 degrees, energy bill obsessed folks are ready to turn off the air conditioning and young girls are dying to get out their flannel collection and dive into a pile of leaves for the perfect Instagram photo op. For goodness sakes, Menards has Christmas on display but yet the leaves haven’t even turned the slightest shade from green.

In the meantime, while we are patiently waiting for fall to officially arrive, I’ll be at Starbucks sipping on a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew.

At least we have that.

Dec 14, 2018

OBS Last Minute Gift Ideas for Her

UH OH! It's December 14th... and there's still shopping to do! But it's not too late to put together a thoughtful, personalized gift for the creative farm girl in your life. These ideas are great for moms, mother in laws, daughters, wives, sisters, girlfriends, aunts, best friends, etc. These are some of my favorite things I personally own. All of these items can be ordered from Amazon and are included in the Two-Day shipping program. They will be here in plenty of time before Christmas! I tried to keep everything under the $50 range.

If you click on the photos, you will be directed to my Amazon affiliated links!

Urban CoCo Women's Printed Tassel Open front Poncho Cape Cardigan Wrap Shawl

Dec 3, 2018

Wrapping Guide

Every year, since I was young, I have always enjoyed curating a wrapping theme complete with trimmings and tags. The other day, I shared a post on Facebook and Instagram about my love of gifting. I had so many responses and questions on Instagram in regards to where I get my supplies from and how I put my presentation ideas together. This year I chose:

Buffalo Plaid Paper + White Paper w/ Black + Red Accents + Kraft Paper

So, I thought it would be fun to gather up some resources for you and help you out with the similar theme concept I used this year. I tried to gather up links from places that you can order everything at once but unfortunately that didn't happen. The items are divided up between Target, Wal-Mart and Current. I also made sure to link things that are in stock.

These are not affiliate links and I do not get any commission but I would like to give credit to Wal-Mart, Target and Current for their product photos.

Nov 29, 2018

For the Love of Gifting

My love language is Gifts.

That use to embarrass me because it sounds so superficial. I enjoy the hunt. I love spending hours finding exactly what I had in mind. I love coming up with things people don’t realize they need in their life. I am even intentional about my wrapping. I have been known to go into store after store after store just to find exactly what I had envisioned.

It’s not rare for me to stray from lists and registries. If I see you out and about in the distance, I may flag a waitress down and secretly buy your lunch. It’s just what I do. I’ll spend hours upon hours hand addressing all my Christmas cards.

I think I get it from my mother who got it from her parents.

I’m not a hugger. I’m not always the first one to suggest making plans. Sometimes I’m not even the best at keeping in touch verbally.

But I love sharing my gifts with you. Whether it’s something I purchased, made or something I wrote.

This holiday season, you’ll receive gifts from a lot of people. Please don’t tell them they didn’t have to. As a gifter, we know we don’t have to. We WANT to. Please don’t tell that person they spent or did too much. That’s our choice. Just sit back and enjoy the thought, intention and the TIME that was devoted to YOU because someone loves and appreciates you.

And rest assured, you never ever have to feel obligated to give a gift in return.

Don’t make gifting about the money or the thing. Make it about the time and cherish that moment when you opened it up, even if it’s something you won’t use.

Sep 10, 2018

Marriage & Appliances

PC: Sarah Straeter Photography

Opening up the fridge, needing something for lunch, I rummaged around looking for the leftovers I placed in a Tupperware over the weekend.

Shoving containers aside, I thought to myself, “Ok. Time to clean out the fridge. This has been here for three weeks. No one is going to drink this. When did I put this meat in here to thaw? Gross.”

I pull out the container I was looking for and popped it into the microwave. Closing the door, I punched in “3 minutes. 30 seconds.”

Ah yes, perfect,  just enough time to go fold a few things in the laundry room.

As I was carefully folding my husband’s crisp, white t-shirt, I heard a *POP* in the kitchen.

Gosh darn it. I forgot to pop the little tab on the container. And food had exploded all over the microwave. Our clean, like-new microwave.

As I stood there grumbling over the food splattered all over the shiny surface inside, a part of me wanted to leave the mess. I’d have to grab a wet cloth, stand up on my tippy-toes stretching my 5 foot tall body as far as I can and utilize some elbow grease to remove the food debris. I hadn’t been feeling good this week, so it would be okay to come back to it later, right? Ugh, but then the food would be dried and caked to the surface.

As I stood there, for the first time debating whether or not to take care of it, I realized our microwave was 7 years old. And it still looked brand new as if it were just unboxed from the Sears store. My husband and I have taken such great care of it all these years.

I panicked. What was wrong with me?

Were my microwave and I going through a 7 year itch? Why did I suddenly not want to take care of it?

As I stood there, silly as it sounds, having a talk with myself over this microwave, I realized that my marriage too would soon be 7 years old. We bought all of our appliances in 2011, the year we got married.

7 years ago.

Not quite a decade but long enough to go through a heck of a lot together.

Some highs. Some lows. All challenging.

There were times when things got hard and there were times we were having so much fun that we made marriage look easy.

But let me tell you this, an easy, like-new marriage takes work.

It requires standing up on your tiptoes, using a little elbow grease and taking care of things as they surface before you find the debris caked on so hard you can’t remove it.

Marriage is a lot like an appliance. They don’t make ‘em like they use to… you know, that harvest gold Whirlpool refrigerator that JUST WON’T DIE so you grandmother continues to keep it out in the garage to store Capri Suns for the great grandkids.

Appliances today are cheaply made and require care, a lot of maintenance and sometimes a good warranty plan.

But marriages… they don’t come with a warranty plan. There is no swapping out when something breaks.

You have to fix it.

You may have to fix it on your own or you may need some outside, professional help and that’s okay.

We all weren’t born to know how to fix appliances and we certainly weren’t born knowing how to have a perfect marriage. That’s why they have appliance repair guys. And marriage counselors. And books. And podcasts. And conferences. All devoted to all things marriage.

Just don’t seek counsel with the appliance repair guy.

What I do know, is we are all capable of wiping down the inside of a microwave when food explodes.

And for goodness sakes, we can all clean out the three week old leftovers from the refrigerator.

What have you done lately to maintain your appliances… errr, marriage?

...because when you take care of something, it will last.

Unless it’s a factory lemon, of course.

Happy 7 years today to my favorite appliances....oh, and that husband of mine!

Jul 26, 2018

Trade, not Aid

My husband and I are young farmers. We are 4th generations on a 1st generation budget. We've purchased our farm, our equipment and we work together trading labor for bin space to help my father in law and grandmother in law get their crops in as well. It's not your average farm set-up, we all work off the farm and that's how we roll. That is our story.
We would love to grow. We'd love more than anything to farm full-time. However, with the prices of land, the lowering grain prices, the influx of inputs and the rightful competition, it's been a struggle. We have a calling and we will do what we can to make sure nothing gets in the way of that.

We want a market for our grain and those markets don't show up over night. We don't expect them to. The agriculture industry has worked for many years on having options and markets for our products. We can can do a better job of educating the public on what we do and what we grow. We are getting there. This requires many of us leaving the farm to work hand and hand with many organizations and constituents. Farmers can no longer stay on the farm and expect things to continue. We must also suit up and show up.

There's a huge political elephant in the room and like usual, people have their opinions and of course they are entitled to them.

Although the offer is appreciated, I am here to tell you that this farm does not want a government bail out. We don't want a temporary band-aid that will help line our pockets short-term. We want a long-term plan of fair trade and open markets for our grain and an honest living. We want to generate an income because people use and want our products. We want to provide top notch, valuable, safe, sustainable commodities that are well sought after. Farming is a very unique business complete with unique trials and struggles but there are also other industries out there who work just as hard and struggle just as much.

The air is thick right now and it will continue to get thicker as we wait all of this out. In the meantime, it's important for you to share you story, regardless of where you stand. You have a voice. Use it, but be kind when you do.

The American Dream is a wonderful thing, but it's not handed out. It's a continual fight and it doesn't or shouldn't come easy.

For now, I will stay off Ag Twitter, Ag Talk and listen to some Frank Sinatra because, sanity. And people are mean.

Mar 13, 2018

Try it Tuesday: Travel Version

It is Tuesday, right? I've had to check like, twice.

Yep, it's sort of Tuesday.

They day that follows Monday.

So, winter 2018 has definitely been dubbed the winter of traveling. In the last 5 weeks, I've been to Houston, Reno, Anaheim and St. Louis. All for agriculture-related business. I hold a few leadership positions with a few organizations and winter is usually when meetings and conventions go down.

This may not be a huge deal to some, but for this inexperienced traveler, I've been on more plane rides this winter than I have in the last 10 years combined. Pretty sure.

I've learned A LOT and I still have a lot to learn.

With each trip, I feel like my suitcase gets like a half pound lighter as I come just a bit more efficient. It should be illegal to limit a girl to 50 pounds. P.S. I LOVE my lightweight  IT hard-case luggage.  I learned a few years back that good luggage makes all the difference when traveling. Be sure to weigh your luggage before you go and toss in this luggage scale so you can weigh your suitcase before you come back home!

While you're tossing the scale in your luggage, toss this portable steamer, too. If you hate ironing like I do, you need it. There's nothing worse then waking up for a meeting the next morning after getting in on a late flight and wrestling with the ironing board as you're trying to get out the door. No matter how hard I try to carefully pack my clothes, they still always get wrinkled!

Toiletries take up a lot of room so I love my FLAT toiletry bag. It has made packing my toiletries so much easier especially with all the separate, easy to access compartments. When I get back from a trip, I refill all my bottles, Qtips, cotton balls and keep them inside. I love this bag because I can just grab it, toss my makeup in, lay it on top of my clothes and close the lid! There's no need for Tetris and strategic placement!

Speaking of Tetris, I am in love with these packing cubesI put all of my business clothes in one and casual clothes in another. I also have two smaller cubes for pajamas and under garments. They really help keep everything organized and protect your clothes from shoes and anything that spills out of your toiletry bag.

I am excited to say with all my airplane hours, I finally finished watching The Crown on Netflix. If you like the Royal Family, history and really good acting, this show is for you! I love that you can download a bunch of shows from Netflix and watch them offline. Always make sure to pack your headphones so you can watch Netflix on your phone or iPad! I've been wanting to invest in a pair of noise canceling headphones but I haven't pulled the trigger yet.

I think I shared this is my last Try it Tuesday, but my husband and I have been able to easily keep track of each other's travel schedules with the Cozi app. There are a variety of options when setting up a new event. You can opt to notify your spouse or family member whenever a new event is created, set reminders closer to that date, create shopping lists and much more. We used our iTunes gift cards and subscribed to the Gold version where you can access a full calendar view and some other features. Having this app has also allowed me to leave my Erin Condren Life Planner at home to save some weight in my briefcase. I can take a look on the Cozi app to see what events and tasks I have planned for when I return.

When traveling, I've also learned it's important to feel comfortable but also to look slightly put together especially when you're traveling for business. You just never know who you're going to bump into! I have learned to snag a pair of comfortable jeans with a little bit of stretch or a really nice, flattering pair of black leggings that can be paired with a jacket, blazer or a vest. Layering is important because you're either freezing or you're really hot on a plane! Vests and jackets are also great for mixing up outfits on the duration of your trip. Tossing on a big, fun pair of earrings also helps me feel put together. I really enjoy these leather earrings! They're light and versatile. I've also found out the hard way that cowboy boots are not practical to travel in. I've found in the winter a comfortable bootie, neutral colored sneaker and in the summer a pair my favorite moccasins, loafers or supportive sandals work best! I know my fellow farm girls can relate to this struggle. The downside is, your boots can add 5-10 pounds to the suitcase! The struggle. is. real.

What are some things you've learned that has made traveling a bit easier on you?

Jan 23, 2018

Winter on the Farm

Post created for Ranch House Designs, Inc.

It seems whenever we go to an agriculture-related conference, the hotel staff always enjoys talking to farmers and ranchers, asking questions about the industry.

Our most recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee for a conference was no different. In fact, I was asked a question by our front desk clerk that I have not been asked before as a grain farmer.

“Do you guys work all year round?”

Instantly, my answer from within was a, “Yes!” but I knew it would be hard to explain the kind of work we do in the wintertime since we are not in the fields, working on our soybean or corn crops.

We may not be in the field, but we are still working on our old and new crops all winter long!

Those in the livestock industry are obviously destined to chores 365 days a year regardless of the weather! In the winter they have animals to feed and issues to battle when the snow, ice and freezing temperatures arrive.

At one time, it was a stereotype that midwestern grain farmers would “winter” in warm places such as Florida or Arizona. Fortunately, winter work allows us in a nice, warm office or meeting hall, but there are some chores that involve being outside in the harsh weather.

Farms have grown in size, resulting in on-farm grain storage and the need to market and truck grain all year long. Sometimes younger farmers and seasonal farmers will take a job off the farm during the winter to supplement their income and even some seasoned farmers will do so as well. It really depends on one’s individual situation.

For us, my husband and I and my father-in-law all work full-time jobs, off the farm, year round.. Our farm is not large enough to employ us full-time. Winters seem like they should be a slow down for us, but we feel just as busy in the winter as we do in the spring, summer and fall. We just don’t have a lawn to mow or weeds to tackle, which is a nice break!

So what do we grain farmers do in the wintertime?

... to find out, visit the rest of the article over at Ranch House Designs, Inc.

Jan 10, 2018

Life Lesson from a Grocery List

I sent my husband to the grocery story on his way home from work last night. He drives right by so it’s convenient to have him pick up a few necessities between my large stock-up-all-the-things trips.

He walked in the door last night, hands me the bags and I set them on the counter. As I begin putting stuff away I already recognize a few things that are “wrong”. He bought a package of fresh mushrooms. I wanted mushrooms in a can or jar for the pantry. He bought organic spinach. I wanted conventional. He bought a package of individually wrapped processed Swiss cheese product slices. I wanted real Swiss cheese from the deli. He bought whole chocolate milk. I wanted 2%.

I can go on.

I could have been mad that he bought the “wrong” things. But was he “wrong”?

Take a look at the list I sent him:

Based on my list, he bought exactly what I had asked for.

I provided zero details. My list lacked brands, sizes and flavors.

You see, I assumed and expected he would know the exact brand and package I wanted. But, how would he know?

Last night, I watched the new episode of This Is Us. Kevin, one of the triplets, now 35 years old, was checked into rehab for an alcohol addiction. The family was brought in to dig really deep into the triggers of his addiction. He shared a perception of his childhood, his siblings Kate and Randall shared theirs and his mother Rebecca took a turn; each having a different view on how things were growing up in their household.

The family argued and the conversation turned into several walking out of the room in frustration.

Towards the end of the episode, after everyone has cooled off, Randall shares an excerpt of his childhood from when he first had to get glasses; looking through the various lenses of the device that would then help determine his prescription. Some of the lenses were blurry, some clear.

He makes a point that we all view life through different lenses.

We can’t expect everyone to view through our lens when they are looking through their very own, unique “prescription.”

Details are so important. Whether we are describing a process from an industry outside of someone’s familiarity, such as agriculture or sending our husbands or wives to the store to pick up something for us, we have to communicate in a detailed language that people understand.

Things are no longer black and white anymore.

We live in a world of variety and choice. Our world is full of information.

When it comes to choices and expectations, we only know what we know through our own lens.

So, the next time you make out your grocery list, provide details.

Or you’ll end up with organic spinach and processed Swiss cheese product.

Jan 9, 2018

Try it Tuesday

So, my husband and I just got back from a long weekend in Nashville. We were there for the American Farm Bureau conference at the beautiful Opryland Resort & Convention Center which is full of indoor gardens, restaurants, shops and even a lazy river! Definitely a wonderful destination spot. You'll never want to leave the resort. 

.... and I found this photo in my phone from the weekend. You just never know when something may inspire you.

Even a bathroom door from a bar downtown Nashville.

Our groups ate at the Wild Horse Saloon, Claim Jumper and Caney Fork Restaurant while in Nashville. All delicious.

President Trump addressed thousands of farmers and ranchers at the convention we went to. Unfortunately we were on our way home during his speech, but we watched it live from my phone and you can watch it here if you missed it!

We used the Uber app a lot in Nashville. Tip: Download the app and set up your account prior to your trip. And be sure to swipe right for Economy or you'll pay twice as much. 

These boots paired well with my business casual attire this weekend. Especially this blazer.

The one thing I hate about traveling is having to iron everything out of the suitcase. My friends told me they always pack this so they don't have to iron. Genius.

Also hate traveling with winter coats. Try this one if you need something packable and warm.

Can't wait to get back to a normal breakfast routine and try this Instant Pot accessory in my Instant Pot with this recipe.

Watch this quick video on the importance of plant breeding innovation. I like it. Quick, simple, and to the point. It showed up in my inbox today.

Well, back to the grind in the office today. We have a Beck's seed meeting later this week, some friends are taking us out to dinner and I need to take Granny to get groceries sometime. And maybe some for us, too. Fingers crossed for a quiet weekend at home!

Jan 2, 2018

Try it Tuesday

Did you guys have a wonderful holiday season? I took some time to reflect, spend time with friends and family, work on a few projects in the office and really think about some goals and outlooks for 2018.

Gadgets have been a new love of mine lately. Especially ones that make our busy lives easier and maybe... less busy?

My husband and I purchased this robotic vacuum with some money we were given for Christmas. My brother and sister in law have this one and we've noticed how much they've enjoyed theirs. Needless to say, with a dog and two cats, this gadget was worth a try. So far we are loving the job it's doing! I love walking into a room and it feeling/looking like it's been freshly cleaned. It's like having your own digital maid.

I made this in my Instant Pot last night and my husband and I loved it!

I am trying to read a novel every two weeks in 2018. Starting with this thriller. So far so good. Half way through but technically I started it in 2017. Any tips on getting your reading in?

I am also trying to listen to more Podcasts. If you like agriculture, try this one and this one.

Got my husband these socks for Christmas. Says his feet stay dry and warm. Brownie points for this wife. Possibly our new go-to.

I also thought he would like these.

Mom got us these for Christmas.

I want to watch this on Netflix.

If you can never have enough chambray button downs to layer under your sweaters.

This winter coat is the warmest. Did you know today is the coldest day on record in my lifetime? Brrr.

Been connecting with my friends on this free app.

Any gun-toting ladies out there? I put this bag on my Amazon wish list. Fringe or no fringe?

I hope you learn, laugh and love a lot in 2018! My husband and I were appointed to a national position with this committee. We will have a lot of traveling and many dates to keep track of this year! We downloaded this calendar app to keep our lives in sync.

Dec 1, 2017

It's only December 1st

It's been one of those weeks! And it's about to be one of those months.

We arrived home from Thanksgiving vacation in Kansas late Sunday evening. It's always good to see my sister in law and her family! Such a much needed trip for our family.

We finished our custom harvest job this week for our Mennonite neighbor. Harvest '17 is OFFICIALLY OVER for us. The combine can now go into hibernation.

I've been working diligently in the office trying to take care of some hot projects for clients. My husband has been working on end of the year quotes for his customers. We've had several meetings and this weekend is full of fun events with friends. More meetings, events and projects next week.

I have no idea when we will get our Christmas decorations up or get to our Christmas shopping. And you know what? For the first time, I don't care. It's only December 1st.

It always gets done.

It'll happen when it happens.

So many of us stress over the holiday season. It's a season I don't look forward to for many reasons but this year, it's time for a an attitude adjustment.

I am going to focus on the people and all the wonderful events. Not the things or the details in-between.

I've already worked on some ideas to eliminate stress.

What have you done over the years to make your holiday season more enjoyable from Thanksgiving to New Years?

Nov 8, 2017

Struggles Small and Large

I’ve been reflecting on the episode of This Is Us from last night. I’ve never seen a show that comes even close to touching so many emotions. It’s a show everyone can relate to.

One thing I am really learning from this show is that we all have struggles small and large. Sometimes the people that seem to have the most perfect of lives and have it all together are struggling the most. There is no such thing as a perfect life and a perfect family.

I try to share content that gives you a peek into my life in hopes you’ll find a small nugget that you or someone you know can relate to. My content may not always be relatable to everyone and you won’t always agree with me. We are all wired differently, share different struggles and we come from different places.

Last night on the show, a poor, heart-broken drug addict and a judge came together in relatable disappointment. The judge found himself in constant disappointment every day because of the sentences he had to serve. The drug addict was in constant disappointment because of the everyday down spirals he was experiencing in his life.

This goes to show that two people living completely different lives can share the same emotion and struggle.

Under-minding someone’s struggle or accomplishment is one of the worse things you can do. It is not up to you to decide how someone should be feeling. Come along side and help someone find a solution to their stress or problem. Be a cheerleader through the good and the bad.

We don’t have to settle. We can always be better. There’s always time to redesign the ending to our stories; especially with the help of others.