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Apr 18, 2014

Beginner Blogger Tips: Utilizing Images

Once you have figured out what you want to write about, it's really good to have at least one image incorporated into your blog post. Some of us are visual readers and often, we aren't drawn into an article until we see a graphic or photograph that draws appeals to us.

I hate it say it though, a lot of us judge books by the cover so it's important how to incorporate good images, graphics or photography into your blog posts.

When I first started blogging, I was intimidated by every one's images and graphics. I thought for sure in order to be a good blogger, you had a be a professional photographer! I later found out that that is so not the case.

Yes, it helps to have an amazing camera but you can do some pretty awesome things with just your iPhone camera! As I mentioned earlier, I found out it's not a matter of taking professional pictures. It's a matter of presenting your images and graphics in the right, relevant way.

I have put together some basic tips to keep in mind when creating and sharing images in your blog posts.

Keep in mind, I am not a photographer and I have a lot to learn when it comes to photography, taking pictures and operating a camera. I have learned these few tips and tricks to make my images better along the way!

Apr 17, 2014

If Jeans Could Talk

One morning this past week, I was folding a load of laundry from the dryer. I folded a few of my husband's jeans and a couple of t-shirts. I went to grab another piece of clothing and noticed a pair of jeans I wore the previous day. I stopped and smiled because these jeans had miles. I owned them before I met my husband which was a good 6 years ago.

I hadn't worn them for a while, in efforts to keep the miles off them. During their prime years, these were the jeans I always wore even over a new pair. They were just, you know, the pair. You can say I got my money's worth with these.

We all have been through a lot of jeans. Some of you may even have many of the same pair but these jeans were my absolute life time favorite. The way they fit. The wash. The length. Everything about them was perfection.

I tried finding another pair as these began to fade after a good several hundred (plus) washes but of course when you find something you really like, you're more than likely never going to find it again. That's why my mom always says to buy two or more of a good thing.

Where am I going with this and why do you care about these old, faded over-worn jeans of mine?

I recently joined a Facebook group sponsored by a blogger called 40 bags in 40 days. The gist was to fill a trash bag everyday of items to donate resulting in less clutter and you post your progress daily. Well, eventually I realized this group wasn't for me because I'd be lucky to fill one trash bag as we don't have a lot of clutter here after last summer's rampaging purge. And I am not giving up my antiques. I stuck the group out a few more days because I thought well, maybe I could learn from this so I never let my house get to the point of needing to toss 40 bags worth of stuff.

I am pretty good about throwing things out. Ask my mother. She always went through my donation bags growing up to make sure I wasn't giving anything "good" away. Which is odd, because my father and brother happen to be the opposite.

So, I decided to throw a wrench in the system and ask the ladies in this group their advice on what someone my age, recently married should save over the years. I don't want to have any regrets since I can be the purge queen at times. I can't remember what some of the other comments were, but one of them really stuck out in my mind when I took this pair of jeans out of the dryer.

A gal had mentioned saving a pair of jeans from when she was first married.

I had thought that was entirely too clever. Why? In my opinion, your jeans have more stories than your wedding dress. Your wedding dress is basically a costume that you feel obligated to wear on your big day. At least it was to me anyways. I guess you can blame that on my tom boy roots. I remember the moment my husband ask me to marry him and  dreading the thought of having to wear a wedding dress.

Don't get me wrong. I love my wedding dress and I am going to keep it.

I have my dress and sash stored in a little canvas box my mom purchased for it and eventually I'd like to place that box in a cedar chest that just may show up under the Christmas tree some day. *cough* *this is where husbands should take notes* *cough*

I made the executive decision and officially retired my most favorite pair of worn out jeans. I placed them in the canvas box with my dress. Normally, retired jeans get turned into work jeans to wear on the farm or doing work in the yard.

Before I retired these jeans and had my little boxing ceremony, I showed them to my husband and said, "Do you remember these jeans?"

He smiled and said, "Oh yeah..... you use to wear those ALL THE TIME."

I chuckled because I remember wearing these on our second date which consisted of grilling out steak and riding the four wheeler. Eventually after about date #10, I was asked if I owned anything besides those jeans and Purdue t-shirts by my now husband. I mean, we were farm kids! Of course I always wore jeans and a tshirt on our dates... most likely we were on the fourwheeler, going to a tractor pull or a bon fire. It wasn't my fault we didn't engage in activities that required a cocktail dress and heels!

So I guess since these jeans have been with us during our dating years, came with us on our honeymoon, were worn during many house building projects, helped out with harvests 2011-2013 and got me through my first few years of marriage, I think it would be fun to save them.

If there is an item in my closet that describes me the most, it's these jeans.

These jeans have been with me through most of my 20s. As my 20s come to a close next year, I think a lot about how much I've grown and what I've accomplished in the last decade [in those jeans].

Someday, 20, 30 years from now, when I take my wedding dress out to look at it, I may wonder why the heck a pair of jeans are in there. Or maybe I will take one look and smile.

And hope that they still fit as I remember some of the best years of my life.

What, besides your wedding dress have you saved in a special place that defines who you are or holds some very special memories? 

Apr 9, 2014

Beauty Through Generations

I use to be quite the fair-weathered person. When it comes to the weather, nature and my surroundings.

The older I get, however, the more I seem to find beauty in my surroundings regardless of a situation.

There are times I feel guilty from when I use to complain about the old farmhouse where we started and all the trouble it put my husband through during his bachelors years. I've gotten to the point where I think about the fun memories there in the beginning of our life together. I was looking up my beginning posts on my blog last night and there's just so much pep and excitement in them. They're nerdy, but I can feel how happy I was through my writing, despite all the stress we were going through at the time as newlyweds during harvest season and building a home. I tend to associate the old farmhouse with those earlier posts.

I remember writing those posts in the back of my husband's great grandparent's old bedroom from my computer in the old farmhouse. I remember being surrounded by bookshelves full of all my husband's childhood belongings, lime green carpet and a breeze coming in through the single paneled windows.

That old farmhouse is now a ghost. And it's a memory that haunts our property daily. It's a good haunt, though. We've change so much about this old farm but the way it use to be is still clear as day in my mind. I wouldn't change a thing about what we did. Some of it had to go. But, I am glad the memories are still clear as day.

Apr 8, 2014

Thank you all who participated in the Farmer's Wife Poem giveaway sponsored by Sierra Shea. We had an amazing turn out and you all make me want to have more giveaways in the future. We had two lucky winners for this giveaway.

Jane Zentz and Stacy Walker please come on doooooowwwwwwwn! 

  • Stacy, a fellow Hoosier, is the blogger behind The Backroad Life. She and her husband run a produce farm and have three kids. Stacy runs an Etsy Shop called Sew.Stitch.Create where she sells her crochet and sewing work along with photography props.  Answering the question of where she would display her poem if she won, Stacy replied, "I would most likely display it in my craft room, it is my "me" room and where I spend a lot of free time." 

  •  Jane, also a fellow Hoosier (I promise, this contest was not bias towards Hoosiers!) is known around her home town for being the pie master! Jane grew up on a farm and also married a farmer. Jane has three grownup children and several grand kids in sports. This summer, she will be giving away her youngest's hand in marriage. She's a busy lady! Jane will not be keeping the poem for herself but will be gifting the poem to her mom on Mother's Day. The comment Jane left upon entering the contest was so beautiful, I had to frame it. Literally! What a wonderful dedication to her mother.

This was such a fun giveaway! Your comments and emails were all terrific. I looked forward to checking my email this week. Thanks again everyone and I can't wait for the next!

Apr 6, 2014

Pallet Coat Rack

I feel like there are a lot of  "blank canvases" around our pole barn house as I search for the perfect item or idea to fill the void.

I really struggled with the space in our shop next to the entryway into the house. I wanted something to hang a chore coat or two on so we didn't have to open the door and grab one from the basement stairway every time (where we store farm outerwear.) We don't really have a decorating theme in the shop, but I try to keep the pieces farm or industrial related. You know, galvanized metal, tools, farm equipment memorabilia, etc. 

Okay, so maybe we do have a decorating theme in the shop. I shall call it... Industrial Chic. Just don't tell my husband that. He won't let me decorate the shop anymore if he knows I'm trying to make it Industrial Chic.

Come on, farm shops can be stylin' and chic too. 

Anyways, so, back to this coat rack. I'm always trying to search outside the box when it comes to furniture, pieces and hardware. One evening I ran into Target for a bridal shower gift. You know, one of those in and out trips that end up being two hours long because it's well, Target. 

And I found, this.

Apr 2, 2014

GIVEAWAY: 8x10 Farmer's Wife Poem

Guess what, guys! Today I have the opportunity to host my first giveaway on the blog! I am pairing up with Sierra Shea and we are giving away two copies of her poem, So God Made a Farmer's Wife

This poem is printed on high quality stock and looks beautiful in an 8x10 frame. Sierra Shea sells this poem in her store for $10. She also offers a Ranch Wife poem as well! This would make a great Mother's Day Gift! How fun would it be to shop for the perfect frame? 

Mar 28, 2014

Beginner Blogger Tips: Creating Content

Last Friday, I started this new series on Beginner Blogger Tips. I've had some good feedback so far and I hope some of you get something out of it! Just to recap, I started this series, even though I'm a beginner blogger myself, because I find it a lot easier and more comfortable to approach and learn from someone on a smaller scale. When I first started blogging and had a simple question I couldn't find the answer to, I would email some of my favorite smaller bloggers who I knew had great potential. They always got back to me in a timely manner! I love Ree Drummond at the Pioneer Woman dearly and would love to ask her all my blogging questions but, quite frankly, and I could be wrong, but I doubt she would have time to get back with me. 

Today I am going to talk about some ideas on what to write about. That is the number one questions I get from friends and family. "How in the heck do you keep finding stuff to write about?"

Obviously, in the blogging world, content is pretty darn important. A good blog needs to have good content! I am not guaranteeing that I have good content but I know it when I read it on someone else's blog. Keep in mind, these are just a few ideas and it's kind of what I stick to and what works for me, but there are definitely more types of post out there. The possibilities of blogging are endless. Get creative!

Mar 25, 2014

Agriculture and Farming: My Story

I've always been connected to agriculture in one way shape or another. It's something I took for granted as a mid-west kid growing up in the country outside a rural town. My mom even remembers me dashing out to the pasture as a toddler in my underwear trying to feed the cows grass. I'd ride my bike up and down the road along the corn and soybean fields. Tractors and combines would go by as my brother and I were playing out in the yard as we'd wave frantically. We'd take our toy tractors out to the sandbox and pretend to farm. I'd always grab a hand full of corn and a few eggs from the barn to put in a toy wagon, even though they weren't to scale. I'm sure I am not the only kid that did that.

My Parent's Farm
Growing up, my dad sold equipment at an ag dealership. I'd go in with him on Saturdays sometimes flipping through tractor brochures and chatting with old farmers as they came in to buy parts. I'd help my family bale hay in the summer. I remember food and a hot shower always being the best thing ever after stacking hay in the loft. 

It's a life I took for granted. It's a life that I had no clue would become my life as an adult. When I went off to college, I had every intention of becoming an interior designer and moving into a city somewhere. Once I was settled in at college, I found myself coming home every weekend. I found myself suffocated at school and I wanted to be with my friends and family back home. I didn't fit in with the girls in my interior design classes. I just went through the motions of school every week to get by. Early in college I was even dumped by a couple of boyfriends because they knew we would want different lifestyles down the road. They thought I needed to be with someone more like a farmer. I was confused but they knew me better than I knew myself at the time.

Mar 24, 2014

National Ag Week 2014 #farmsmatter

This week, agriculture is being celebrated at a national level. It's a great opportunity for those in the agriculture industry to share their stories, share pictures and raise awareness. You don't have to be in the agriculture industry to celebrate. You can also participate as a consumer by thanking your farmers and educating your friends and family about agriculture.

As more and more generations become disconnected from the farm, it's important to celebrate agriculture and raise awareness not just this week but all 365 days a year. It's especially important for us to educate our youth. They are our future.

We all need to have an understanding and respect for the various types of farming and why each and every single farm and method of farming is important to provide the variety of food and shelter for every single person on this Earth.

A friend of mine who lives off the farm but grew up in our rural community has a deep understanding and respect for agriculture. She states why agriculture is important to her:

"Agriculture has done so much for us all! Without the advancements we have made there, we wouldn't have time to grow our knowledge in other fields. We have freed ourselves up to explore all science has to offer because we don't have to spend so much time simply feeding ourselves. Farmers rock."
Traci is so very right.

It's so easy for us to get caught up in our routine lives that we tend to forget about all the bits and pieces that make our lifestyles possible. Agriculture being one of those pieces.

Personally, as a woman, I am thankful that unlike my ancestors, I don't have to spend my days figuring out how we are going to preserve enough food to make it through on a day to day basis. I can spend my free time doing whatever it is I please! Many of us still have a garden in the summer but it's more of a hobby than it is for survival. We have that choice.

As consumers, we have every right to be concerned about our food, what's in it, it's safety and where it comes from. However, don't get so caught up with some of the labels, trending issues and concerns that are being raised by marketing and false advertising that you forget about the farmer and where it all originates. Farmers are living, breathing people and they still exist. You may think your food comes from a factory because that's what clever marketing wants you to think. "Factory Farm" is a term that destroys the reputation of hard working farmers and agriculture in general. According to the Farm Bureau, 97 percent of farms of the 2.2 million in the United States are family raised by people just like you and myself.

Here's to them.

Thank you to all the farmers and their hard work.

Mason Jar Monday: Our Wedding Invitation

A few years back while planning my wedding, I never thought that I would somehow combine my love for mason jars into our wedding invitation. My thought process began with having mason jars on our invitations Then somehow, after staring at a jar on my dresser, I managed to take my ideas and turn the invitation into a jar.. Our wedding invitation is definitely my most favorite design project that I've ever done along with one of my most cherished items.

 Our invitations are more than just an invite with information for our guests. Mason jars are a true reflection of our lifestyle and heritage. I will never ever forget the moment when my mother in law found a bunch of antique jars in the root cellar that was once on our farm. My husband and I were only dating at the time, but she handed me the oldest and most valuable jar and said, "Here. Take it. I know you will cherish and appreciate it." I've never seen a jar like it before. It's my most favorite, traveling around the house in various spots until I find the "perfect spot."

Mar 21, 2014

Beginner Blogger Tips: Questions to Ask Yourself

I am excited to announce my new ongoing series.

I have had quite a few friends and even strangers approach me for advice about blogging.

My first thought is, why is this person asking me of all bloggers. I am not big time. I'm just a beginner myself. I love to help people out, though despite my insecurity as a new blogger. I try to give them as much information as I can.

Truth is, there is a lot to learn about blogging. There are wrong ways and there are right ways to blog, depending on the audience you're trying to engage. There are so many resources out there with language most of us have never heard of. Some of the tips, lists and tricks provided by veteran bloggers can be quite intimidating. I am going to attempt to break down some tips and resources for those of you wanting to start a blog and even those of you who already have a blog but want to improve.

Today, I am going to bring up some questions you should ask yourself before blogging or taking your current blog to the next level.

Mar 19, 2014

Lesson as a Newlywed: Running Away and Hot Dogs

Do you remember growing up as a kid and "running away" when you were mad at your parents? My running away usually consisted of hanging out in the hayloft or riding my bike down to the creek. I don't think my parents were ever too overly worried because the police where never called.

They knew I'd get hungry and be back for dinner.

I ran away last night.

Yep, as a grown, adult married woman.

My husband and I got in the the dumbest fight ever when he got home. I think it was about the fact he needed a hair cut mixed in with Netflix versus our cable subscription and what we were going to have for dinner. I really think it had nothing to do with any of those things. I think it was more me being mad at the world, trying to pick a fight. It's been a long cooped up winter.

"I just need to get out of here!"

"Where are you going to go?"

"I don't know, but not here!"

I jump in my vehicle and I pull out of the shop. He doesn't even come chasing after me. Now that I think about it, neither did my mom when I was a kid.

Mar 17, 2014

Spring '14 Wish List

I'm all about lemon right now. Can't get any springier than that. Is springier a word? It is now.

2. Fit Bit 
I really, really want a Fit Bit. They track your activity and your sleep. Is it really necessary? Will I wear it a week and be over it? Testamonies welcome in comments! 

Loving how crisp and cool this shirt is. I felt it at the store. Over and over and over again. But the price tag kept us apart. Even with their %30 off sale. Everyone needs a little Gingham in their life. Especially navy gingham. Lets roll the sleeves up and enjoy some sunshine! Ok, maybe not right now. But hopefully soon.

SOLD OUT. But I am still keeping my eye on this bracelet. Love all the different textures and the pop of sparkle. I am not much of a sparkle girl but I think every girl needs some once in a while.

If you know me, you know why I need this. 

I don't own a boat, but I have taken a liking to boat shoes and their comfort. And the fact that they're leather. I love all things leather. Sorry, PETA. 

I'm a square toe kinda girl these days. I don't really need a #turquoise boot. But I can still drool and think about it.

This list is really just for my husband. Since I have a birthday coming in May. Just kidding. But no, seriously. Okay, just kidding. I've worn my snowboots and long johns more times than I can count this winter and I, yes, I, lover of winter am about over it. It's so brown and yucky out that I thought I might start thinking about spring. I'm a product person. I love trying out new things. Ok, maybe the same thing in a slightly different shade. I tend to be a creature of habbit that likes to try new things. Basically, I'm the biggest walking oxy moron there is.

I tried to put together a fun, brightly colored array of things........ but I ended up back at my usual Earthy tones I tend to choose. Hey, thank goodness for the turquoise, though, eh? 

No Mason Jar Monday today, folks. It felt so wrong having Mason Jar Monday on Saint Patrick's Day. But there are two mason jar-ish things on this list! Perfect. It's like Mason Jar Monday in disguise.......

Mar 15, 2014

Country Women and Boots Explained

Most of us have been there.

Girl meets boy.

Boys meets girl.

Boy and girl get serious.

Boy asks girl, "Why do you need so many pairs of boots?

Girl changes subject.

Guys, if you haven't figured this out yet, #boots are just as important to some of us girls as shelter, food, water and clothing are to you. In fact, I think they should change the 4 means of survival to 5: shelter, food, water, clothes and boots.

When I met my husband, he owned only two pairs of boots. One pair for work/farm/chores. And one pair for "good." Three years of us dating and two and a half years of marriage later, he's up to like 7. And, he couldn't be any happier! Or maybe his wife couldn't be happier because she's not having to clean up a pair before every outing.

I did a Facebook poll with my lady readers/followers last night asking how many pairs of boots were owned by each. I was talking any type of boot. I had numbers everywhere from 0 to 28. I felt relieved finding a few ladies that own almost twice the amount I do. Phew! The average came to 8.5 pairs - I thought for sure it would be a lot higher but a lot of my farm girl and cowgirl friends who I personally KNOW have a ridiculous number of cowboy and muck boots didn't weigh in.

So men, I'm going to answer your question on behalf of us gals with a lot of boots. Minimalists, I highly suggest you not read the rest. What I am about share about us gals with a boot fetish will make you cringe.

Mar 14, 2014

Education and Agriculture: Why is it Important?

I had the opportunity to attend the Indiana Livestock, Forage & Grain Forum down in Indianapolis, Indiana this week. I was absolutely beyond impressed with the information and issues that were discussed and presented. 

As young, small farmers diving into the world of agriculture and modern technology, sometimes it can be overwhelming sorting out the key issues and trends in which we should be concerned. There's A LOT going on in the world of agriculture. Attending the forum has allowed me to sort out the issues and topics that I should be concerned with as an individual, consumer and farmer.

The really neat thing about this forum is that it brings farmers of all types, agribusiness associates, ag economists, ag financial institutes, Purdue extension, FFA officers, Farm Bureau and many more together all in one room. 

We are all here for the same reason and that's agriculture and our concerns with how technology and big data will effect it.

As consumers become more obsessed and concerned with what they're eating and where their food comes from, it becomes more important for us farmers and those of us in the ag industry to be as knowledgable as possible with our processes and data. As Jane Stevens, CEO of Indiana Soybean Alliance mentioned while discussing trending issues, consumers are going to trust farmers before they will trust the food industry.