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.