Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christmas in the Country 2014 Signup

Hello everyone and welcome to the second annual Christmas in the Country gift exchange!!

We're glad you have decided to join up with us and participate in the gift exchange. If this is your second time, welcome back! If it's your first time, get ready to have a great time!

As a refresher, here's the important dates that you need to know:
  • November 30th - Signups end!
  • December 1st - You will receive the name of the person you will be sending a gift to from one of the hosts in an email. If you haven't heard from anyone by December 3rd please let us know. 
  • December 17th - Send your gift by this date!! You are welcome to send your gift earlier if you like, but please, please try to get it sent by the 17th at the latest so everyone gets a gift before Christmas. After you receive a gift share about it on your blog or social media pages! 
  • January 7th - Come back to the host blogs and link up your posts about your gifts! 

Before you sign up, please read through these simple rules:
  • After you sign up, please take a minute to share about the swap on your blog or Facebook page, feel free back to one of the signup blog posts. The more the merrier so encourage your friends to join! 
  • If you decide to participate, we ask that you please write a blog post (or if you don't have a blog then on Facebook or other social media) about the gift you received no later than January 7th. Then, on January 7th you need to come back to the host blogs and link up to the party. Linking up is easy and we can help you if needed! We want everyone to be able to see what everyone else got so it's important that everyone shares! 
  • If you join, YOU MUST SEND A GIFT! We really don't want anyone to be left out, that's the worst! If something comes up and you cannot continue to participate after you have signed up, please let one or more of the hosts know ASAP so we can work something out. 
  • You must get a tracking number for your gift that you send, and you must send that tracking number to the host who emailed you your gift exchange name. Please send these to us as soon as you get them. I've found one of the best ways to send packages like this is to use the Priority Mail Flat Boxes from USPS. You can pick up the boxes for free from your local post office, and they ship out for one flat rate regardless of weight. You can either print off a label at home and leave for your mail person or take the filled box back to the post office and ship it off there. Either way, be sure to get a tracking number for your package please!!!
  • Please use the linkup below to add your blog (click on the blue "add your link" button, add your blog home page url and pick a thumbnail image) or your Facebook page. This way, all who are participating can look at the linkup and see everyone else who has joined! If you don't have a blog, please leave a comment letting us know who you and why you decided to participate. 
  • For the sake of fairness, we've decided that bloggers will be pair with other bloggers and non-bloggers will be paired with other non-bloggers. That way those that blog will get a chance for their gifts to be featured on someone else's blog. Those that don't have blogs are more than welcome to join and still share their gifts on other social media. 
  • Please tag all posts (whether on Facebook/blogs/Instagram) about the gift exchange with #christmasinthecountry2014. This will hopefully make it easier for us to find everyone's posts! 
  • After you sign up, please grab the button below and add it to your blog if you have one. Feel free to use the large image above as well when you share or for your blog posts (you should be able to right click on the image and download).
Christmas in the Country 2014

So now on to the fun part, THE GIFT! Here's some guidelines:
  • We encourage you to spend some time thinking about what your person might like, and send a unique and creative gift. Use their likes and dislikes that they listed (your host should email the list to you). Also check out their blogs or social media sites (without letting them know who you are) to get a feel for what they might like. 
  • We've found it's nice to focus on locally and homemade items. If you can support other farmers, farm wives, and country folks that's great! If you're crafty think about making something special to send to your person, or include some of your famous Christmas cookies in their package. If you're not the crafty type see if maybe you can support some local artisans with your package.
  • Because we like to encourage local and homemade gifts, we don't set a spending limit. However, if you're one of those people who really need a number we've found that somewhere around $15 to $25 spent on a gift is a nice range, but you can't put a price on homemade goods! Many people like to include a few different smaller items in their box, but some also just send one larger item, it's up to you! If you still need more ideas check out the link up party from the 2013 Christmas in the Country to see what everyone from last year sent and received! 
  • Remember, this gift exchange is a secret! That means that you only know who you will be sending a gift to - but you don't know who your gift will be coming from! That's half the fun! So please be careful NOT to let your person know that you are sending them a gift. However, when you do send your gift, please include a note revealing yourself so they know who their goodies came from! You can let them know a little about yourself and why you choose the items that you did. The person that you send a gift to is not the same person who sends a gift to you, so you will have the chance to make two new friends! 
  • And remember to please get that tracking number on your gift! Makes it easier to make sure everyone got their gift! 

As a reminder, here are all of the hosts for the Christmas in the Country 2014 gift exchange, you can find our contact info on our blogs if you have any questions or need help! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Country Fair Blog Party - November Favorites

Can anyone else believe that it's the middle of November already?! Thanksgiving is going to be here in the blink of an eye and before we know it it'll be Christmastime! I swear the older I get, the faster the months seem to fly by. Seems like just the other day summer was winding down and now it's already deer season. Speaking of deer season, I was lucky enough to get the week off, so hubs and I will be spending the better part of the next week up at my dad's place hopefully getting a couple deer each to restock the freezer. It's supposed to be crazy cold though, and while that's generally good for hunting success (the deer move better when it's cold versus when it's warm), it's not as good on me! We'll see how long I can hack it out in the cold, but my guess is it's not going to be very long so hopefully I'll get one or two quick-like the first couple days and can spend the rest of the week indoors eating chili and cutting up the meat :) 

The middle of the month also means it's time to pick some favorites from the November Country Fair Blog Party. The theme this month was A Time of Giving. You can still link up your posts about thankfulness, giving, and your holiday traditions through the end of the month. If you want to check out all the posts that have been linked up (and you should go look at them, there are so many good ones!!!) you can do so here

Here's my favorites from this month's party:


I LOVE caramel and I'm also a fan of all things pumpkin flavored, so this recipe for pumpkin caramels looks delicious, and easy too! 


Cristen shares her families "top secret" kettle corn recipe, which looks amazingly delicious, but she also gives some really great insight into the differences between field corn, sweet corn, and popcorn. 


Julie over at In Between the Sunsets of Life has a great series going on this month about adoption, and this particular post is one of my favorites in her series. 


Darcy shares everything that she is thankful for over the thirty days of November, this post is week 4. I did the same here on my blog in the past, and it's always good to stop and really think about all the things we have in our lives to be thankful for. 

Please be sure to stop by the other Country Fair Blog Party hosts and check out their favorites from this month as well:

Dirt Road Charm
High Heels and Shotgun Shells
Belong with Wildflowers

And if you want a heads up, next month for the December Country Fair Blog Party the theme will be "Baby it's Cold Outside" so start thinking about posts that have to do with the holiday season and colder weather and check back at the beginning of December to join the linkup! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Christmas in the Country 2014

In the past couple days, the weather around this neck of the woods has gone from 50s/60s to FREEZING. While I'm not a huge fan of the cold weather, it works well for the upcoming deer season, so I guess I'll take it! The cold weather also helps get my mind ready for holidays, and that means Christmas too.

Last November Laurie from CountryLINKed and I held the first annual Christmas in the Country blogger gift exchange. We're excited to announce that we are BACK to hold the exchange again this year, and we've asked Robyn from The Ranch Wife Chronicles and Erin from Diaries from the Dirt Road to join us this year as co-hosts.

Last year we had over 25 bloggers, advocates, and country folks sign up for our Christmas in the Country gift exchange, and most of those people told us that they had a fantastic time getting to meet new people and make some new friends. We encourage people to send local and homemade goods, just like you might receive from a good ole country neighbor. We hope if you joined last year you will consider joining again, and if this will be your first time we're happy to have you along!

If you're new to the party, or need a refresher from last year, here's how it works.

  • You'll come back here (or to one of the cohost blogs) and sign up on November 19th. We'll ask for your name, shipping information, and some general likes and dislikes to help out your secret santa with ideas. 
  • Sign up will be open until November 30th, so be sure to invite your friends and fellow bloggers, the more the merrier! 
  • On December 1st, you'll receive the name of who you will be sending a gift to. You'll gather some info on them (in secret, don't let them know who you are!). 
  • Send out your gift by no later than December 17th. In the mean time, someone else will be sending a gift to you as well! 

After you receive and send your packages, you can share what you got on Facebook, Instagram, or your blog, and then on January 7th you can join up with the host blogs for a link up party to show off and share what everyone got!

Anyone else excited??!! We hope you will all join, and would like to get even more participants than we had last year. Be sure to come back on November 19th to sign up!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November Country Fair Blog Party - A Time of Giving

Hi All! It's the beginning of a new month (how is it November already?!), so that means it's time for another Country Fair Blog Party! This month the theme is "A Time of Giving", so link up any of your posts that have to do with thankfulness, your holiday traditions, what giving means to you, or what you're doing to prepare for the giving season ahead. Be sure to share about the party on your pages and blogs as well, the more the merrier!

(Also thanks to everyone who linked up with the October "Fall" party - you can check out all of those great posts here).

November in my family means tons of birthdays, hunting season, and of course Thanksgiving, plus preparing for Christmas. Things can get awful hectic around this time of the year, so it seems like the perfect time to make sure to stop and count your blessings every once in a while.

To link up your posts this is what you'll need to do:

Click on the little blue "add your link" button at the bottom of the page and add your information (post link, name, etc). By linking up to the party you are giving the hosts permission to use a photo from your posts if you get picked as a favorite. Be sure to add the link to the actual post, not your main blog page. Then hop on over and visit three or more of the other pages that have linked up and leave them a comment. Add our Country Fair Blog Party button to your site (see below) to let everyone know you've linked up with our party!

Country Fair Blog Party

I'm still beyond words excited that these other lovely ladies wanted to include me in their group, so please be sure to check out the other County Fair Blog Party hosts and their awesome blogs.

Nicole, A Kansas Farm Mom 
Laurie, CountyLINKed
Tasha, Dirt Road Charm
Danielle, High Heels and Shotgun Shells 
Jan, Tip Garden
Caitlin, Belong with Wildflowers

Check back in around the middle of the month here and with the other hosts to see who we picked as our favorites for this month, it might just be you!

Cozy Box Swap 2014 with Lipstick and Tractors

Hey everyone! I know we're getting into the busy(ier) time of the year, and everyone has lots on their plates, but I'm just dropping by to mention a box swap I'm taking part in soon in case anyone else is interested! If you've been blogging long you've probably heard of these box swaps were a blogger hosts a "swap party" and you get a name from a list of participants. You and your partner then get to know each other over email/social media and then you exchange a box of goodies that follows along the theme of the swap (like the Crystal Cattle beauty swaps I've done in the past). It's a fun way to get to know more bloggers/friends and get some fun surprises out of the deal. I don't know about you all, but I LOVE receiving packages in the mail and LOVE getting surprises!

Right now, Brandi from Lipstick and Tractors is hosting a Cozy Box Swap, because who doesn't love all things cozy and who wouldn't want to be surprised with a box of cozy things to help get you through the holiday rush!


You can still sign up to be a part of this swap until Friday (Nov 7th), so if you're interested head on over to her blog and get signed up!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Crystal Cattle Fall Beauty Swap

I participated in the Crystal Cattle fall beauty swap, and am just stopping by with a quick post to share what I received in the swap. I never feel like I'm quite girly/makeup knowledgeable enough to be a real contributor in these swaps, but I keep participating hoping that I'll learn new tricks and find new products.

 I was paired up with JaCee, a sweet young farm wife (also with a November birthday - we're the best don't ya know?) who has her own photography business! JaCee was great to get to know, and she picked up on my hints that I don't wear a ton of makeup, and am more comfortable with eye makeup than lips.

She must have known exactly what I needed because she sent me this Benefit Well Rested face and eye brightener. It's perfect for me because I have chronically bad under eye circles (it's in my genes I swear - my sister's had them since she was a baby). I've been using this brightener in addition to my everyday under eye concealer and I'm loving it. I've read you can use it as a highlighter on your face as well, so I can't wait to try that out.

You can check out the rest of the Fall Beauty Swap posts here, thanks to Crystal Cattle and Messy Kennedy for hosting!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Country Fair Blog Party New Host & October Favorites

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but around here it has really started to feel like fall lately. The trees are just starting to change color, and the colors get a little deeper each day. The air is crisper, the nights are cooler. I think the older I'm getting the more I appreciate fall. We were married in the fall. My birthday, and my farmer's birthday, are in the fall. Fall means deer season, which is a HUGE deal in my family. Fall is our calving season (although we've had so much rain and mud you might think it's spring instead). It's like a big sigh of relief after all the hustle and bustle of summer, all the busy schedules and stifling humidity, but at the same time it's like nature's grand finale, her final show, before the dreary winter barges in and takes the last bit of warmth from the air.


I'm super excited to announce that I've been asked (well, I asked and they said yes!) to join up as a co-host on the Country Fair Blog Party! You may have seen this linkup from Laurie, Danielle, Tasha, and Nicole in the past. They have changed it up a bit where it is now a monthly linkup with a theme and added a few new co-hosts, myself included! (Shout out to Kelly at Old Blue Silo for the party link up button/graphic!)

While I didn't get my act together soon enough to post the linkup for the October party, they've told me I can still participate in picking out a few favorites, so those are listed below. The theme for October was Fall, and also Pork because October is national pork month! You can check out all of the posts from the October party here (you can still link up your Fall/Pork posts through the end of the month too!). I'm going to follow in the footsteps of a few of my other co-hosts and list a few favorites, and then ask YOU to leave me a comment voting for your favorite! Just shout out which one you like the best, and next month at the linkup I'll announce your winner!

Lara over at My Other More Exciting Self talks about her first pheasant hunting experience. While I've never been pheasant hunting, you know I hands down appreciate a girl who's willing to get up before dawn, throw on some blaze orange, and isn't afraid to load and shoot a gun to bring home some dinner. And of course fall = hunting :)

Lindsay over at Agri-Cultural with Dr. Lindsay shares a bit on how to save some money with meat prices by buying in bulk and repackaging into smaller portions. Of course she used pork since it's national pork month! Her tips on using the food saver are really great as well and I'll be remembering them when I start packaging up deer meat later this fall! 

Erin from Diaries from the Dirt Road posted this pumpkin roll and shares the recipe. I realize most people get overwhelmed with the pumpkin-flavored-everything in the fall time but I love it and this pumpkin roll is no exception, and looks like something I could maybe attempt to make! 

Linda at Apron Strings and Other Things shares some fun fall ideas to keep the kiddos occupied and entertained through the fall, but her ideas can work for us older kids as well and I think is a good reminder to slow down and soak up these fall blessings.

Tammy from Taylor-Made Ranch Homestead Blog shared her recipe for homemade pumpkin granola. I've tried some store bought granolas in the past to use with yogurt but they all seem to be really high in sugar, so a homemade recipe seems to be the way to go! 

So tell me, which is your favorite?! Please be sure to leave a comment and let me know, so I can award a grand champion next month! And speaking of next month, be sure to check back and link up with November's theme, which will be A Time of Giving

Check out the other October favorites from the co-hosts: