Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Christmas in the Country 2015 - Gift Reveal!

Hello!! How is everyone? I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas!

The end of the year was a whirlwind around here, much like the rest of the year. 2015 was a pretty big year in the Rhoades' household - we've had so much happening with the house, I got settled in to my new position at work, we went on our first big out-of-the-country vacation, and we found out that we were expecting our first little farmhand!

6 weeks left - about time we get on this! 

With everything we had going on (and by that I mean... in the middle of laying all the floors in our house), I did something VERY unlike myself this year - I didn't put up the big Christmas tree. And guess what?! Christmas still happened! Honestly, after all the hoopla of the construction and house being torn apart, I'm quite enjoying my blank walls and finished floors - and my $3 target Christmas tree.

I spent many nights in the past few weeks, sitting on the couch looking at our small tree, contemplating how very much our lives are about to be changed in the next year. For the better of course, but absolutely terrifying none the less, but I know we are beyond bless and so very thankful. So I sat, and enjoyed the little things (like being able to just sit, ha!), and tried to not be too scared about what the future holds ;)


But now, onto the Christmas in the Country 2015 Gift Reveal!!! This is by far my most favorite part of CITC! While I love seeing everyone sign up, making matches, and sending out names - seeing the end result and what everyone received will always be the most rewarding part for me! While Laurie and I LOVE hosting the swap, honestly there are times when we get a bit overwhelmed. From missing and returned packages, to last minute address changes, to dogs to help themselves to boxes of goodies before they are shipped (wish I was kidding!) - it's not always quite as easy as it seems. But despite the challenges, whenever we get to the reveals I always find myself blown away by how compassionate and giving and wonderful all of our participants are! You guys are the very best, and once again thank you so much for participating in our exchange!!! We love you! 

Here is what I received in the gift exchange - I got a gift from the lovely Maggie Malson who writes over at Idaho Cattle Women. She sent me some lovely things that I absolutely adore! She sent some caramel candies (salted caramel is the way to my heart!), an adorable hot chocolate ornament, a beautiful handmade card and a couple of home decor pieces - both of which she made herself! She is so talented, I can't wait to display them on my new walls, the deer piece may stay up year round! She also sent me a carrier wrap for the baby - one that she used herself on her own little ones - how amazingly thoughtful is that? 

Meanwhile, I sent a package over to Mandie Thiel at Life on Dreams and Prayers. I hope she enjoyed her gift, but I feel bad I didn't get to make her anything myself this year - just too much going on! You'll have to check out her blog to see what I sent her. 

And to see what everyone else got, look no further! Just check out the linkup below. Remember to linkup your blog post if you participated - linkups will be open until Jan 12th! I encourage all of you who participated to visit as many posts as possible and leave comments - we love seeing the connections made from this swap and these linkup are the best way to get to know each other.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Christmas in the Country 2015 - Signups!

It's finally time for the 2015 Christmas in the Country signups! I'm so excited to have an even bigger and better exchange than last year, and can't do it without all of you and how passionate you are about this exchange! We love having you and hope you have a great time. Now play that Christmas music (just don't admit to it until after Thanksgiving day) and get in the Christmas mood - see below to sign up! 


Welcome to this years Christmas in the Country Farm/Aggie Blogger gift exchange! We are so glad you are here to signup! By following a few simple rules, filling out the information form and linking up your blog, you will be ready to spread and receive a little Christmas cheer.

*We as hosts, enjoy organizing and participating in Christmas in the Country and we enjoy getting to know all of you and seeing joy shared across the country. We do know that this is a very busy time of year, but we can not stress enough the importance of making sure that each participant participates fully in the exchange. Full participation includes: shipping ON TIME, blogging and linking up to the online party before it ends, taking the time to really get to know your person and sending them something you think they will enjoy and thanking your gift giver for your package. (We as hosts of the exchange do reserve the right to not let someone participate because of lack of full participation in the past.)*

Now for what you all have been waiting for, the rules and guidelines of this years exchange. We did have to make some changes, so if you have participated before, please read this blog post carefully.

Dates to Remember:

November 20th
- Signups begin
November 30th - Signups close
December 1st - Receive your name via eamil
December 15th - Shipping deadline for your package
January 5th-12th - Share on your blog and in the linkup about CITC2015

How it Works:

In general, this is how the exchange will work: First you fill out the sign-up form so we can get all of your important information. Then, after sign-ups close you will receive a name - you do your research (be sure to keep this a secret, don't let them know that you have their name), and pick and send the perfect gift! Be sure to include a note in your gift revealing who you are and your info so your person can contact you to say thanks! In the mean time, someone else is doing their research on you and your gift is on it's way! When you receive a gift, take some pictures and thank your person! Then, on Jan 5th-12th, write a blog post about your experience and the gift you received and link up to the host blogs to share!

Rules of the Exchange:

Each participant will fill out an information form. This information will be sent to another blogger who will be your "Secret Santa". You in turn will receive your own person of whom you will be sending a gift. All exchanging of information is done via email, so please provide an email that you check on a regular basis. 

Each participant needs to add their blog URL to the Christmas in the Country Linkup. This is a great way for others to see who is participating and a chance to read some new blogs. This year we are limiting the exchange to only bloggers. (Here is the link: or click on the add your link button at the bottom of this post?

Everyone who signs up will send and receive a gift. Once you receive your persons name and information, head on over to their blog and other social media sites and take a minute to get to know them. The more you can learn about your person, the more personal you can make your gift. Suggest price range for gifts are $15-$25.

Packages must be sent by December 15th. We are requesting that everyone send a photo of the tracking number or an email with the tracking information. If the hosts don't hear from you by December 15th, we will be emailing you to ask for your tracking information! Also, if you do not trust a package being left on your doorstep, then please provide an address to an office or other location where you are SURE to receive you gift. (We as co-hosts are not responsible for lost or stolen packages.)

Blog posts need to be posted on your blog and linked up between January 5th-12th. This is to ensure that each post will be seen after the busyness of the holidays is over. On January 5th the co-hosts will post the new linkup on their blogs, please link up your own personal blog posts before the 12th! (Once you do receive your package, send a timely thank you to your "Secret Santa". )

Share the love! Please take a minute to follow the host blogs, and like their Facebook pages (here is mine!) - this will help keep you up to date on all the important dates coming up for the exchange. Also, please take the time check out the other bloggers that have signed up for the swap (shown below in the link-up party), and leave some comments, find some new blogs, and make a few friends! If you feel so inclined, we would love if you would share about the swap. Either on your blog or Facebook page, if you joined and are excited share our posts about the swap and encourage others to join - the more the merrier!

All good? Want to participate?
Don't forget to come back here after signing up and link up your blog below!  

As in past years, we have made a button that you can add to your blogs to share about the exchange! Use the code below to add the button to your blog.

Christmas in the Country 2015

http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=583364" title="click to view in an external page.">An InLinkz Link-up

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Christmas in the Country 2015

Hello! Happy fall everyone! Can you believe that fall is actually almost over and the holidays are almost here? Ack, I'm so not ready! Between the house stuff (we still have no floors or doors for anyone wondering... progress is being made, albeit slowly), deer season (first bow season and now gun season starts this weekend), and general life stuff the past month or so has flown by! Things with the pregnancy are going better than I could have ever hoped -  apparently I would make good breeding stock if I were a pig or cow - but we honestly haven't had time to do much setting up or preparing until we get more done on the house, so thank goodness we still have until February, fingers crossed!  

Anyways, speaking of the holidays coming up - Laurie and I are thrilled to say that Christmas in the Country gift swap is BACK for 2015! We received wonderful feedback from past participants and it seemed like we just had to host Christmas in the Country (CITC) again. So here we go! Year three of this fun gift exchange between agriculture/farming/county bloggers.

Last year, our first year with co-hosts, we enlisted the help of Erin and Robyn. They were fantastic and brought so much to the exchange, plus we really appreciated the help! So not to over whelm them and to spread the exposure around a bit, this year we have asked Lara and Kirby to give us a hand. They are both past participants and are very excited to see behind the scenes of CITC (as crazy as that might be at times!).

Lara blogs at My Other More Exciting Self. She is loves shoes, turkey and wine - she's a boy mom and turkey advocate from Minnesota. I love following her blog for her scrumptious recipes and regular looks into her life - right now I'm living vicariously through her because man oh man I could really go for a glass of wine! 

Kirby comes to us from 15009 Farmhouse. She's also a Missouri girl like Laurie and myself, and blogs about farm life and her gorgeous new farmhouse... and gives me hope that someday I'll also be living in a finished home... trying to build a house with a farmer is no easy task and she knows that first hand! 

Between the four of us, we will organize and coordinate Christmas in the Country this year. If at any time you have questions, please let one of us know! You will be able to contact us at the bottom of this post. We have made a few changes to the swap this time around. This year it will be open to only bloggers and only US residents. While we would love to have non-bloggers and those who live internationally participate, it's just not doable for us this year and so we are limiting it a bit in hopes to give those who do participate and even better experience! 

Now, if you are new to CITC, here is a quick run down of how this all works - if you're a veteran give it a quick read for a refresher: 
  • Christmas in the Country is an annual gift exchange for Agriculture Bloggers.  It is a great way to get to know bloggers across the country and engage with others who have the same interests as you. It's a fantastic way to make a few new friends and find some new blogs to follow. This is a secret exchange! You will not know who has your name until you receive your gift. Suggested gift value is between $15 and $25.
  • Sign up begins November 20th and ends November 30th. To sign up, YOU HAVE to fill out a form giving us some basic information about yourself. This form will be available starting Nov. 20th. This basic information, your email address and your mailing address with be shared with your secret blogger. You in turn will receive the same information on another blogger.
  • All gifts need to be sent by December 15th to ensure delivery before the holidays. There is no exception to this!! Once you have received your gift, reach out to your person through email, their blog or social media to tell them you received it and to thank them. The co-hosts will also want to know that your package was sent and that you then received one as well.
  • You will receive the name and information of who you will be sending a gift to on December 1st. Once you have your blogger’s name, then you can begin to learn about them through their blog! While we highly encourage local and homemade gifts, the most important part is to think of a gift that is a great match for your person (are they a baker, photographer, dog lover? Do some secret research before you pick your gift!). The more creative and personal the better!!
  • Once you receive your gift, please contact your gift giver and thank them for your gift, but hold off on posting until after the holidays. On January 5th-12th we then ask that you share a blog post about what you received and what you learned while participating in CITC. There will be a link-up available for everyone to go to so that all of the participants can see the gift reveals. This is the best part, getting to see what everyone got, so it's super important that you can make time to blog about it! 
  • If you have participated in the past and are exciting to join in the fun again this year, spread the word! Share our blog posts and Facebook posts, share the image, and tag all of your posts with #citc2015!
When I came to Laurie with the idea of Christmas in the County in the fall of 2013, I had no idea it would become what it is today. I simply thought it would be neat to do a Christmas exchange with fellow agvocates - I had finally found my place in the blogging world among others who cared about agriculture as much as I did, and just wanted to spread the holiday cheer among us. We all work so hard to advocate for our industry and share our story, the idea of the exchange was just to be able to take a minute and celebrate the holiday season and make new friends! Not only have I found an amazing friend in Laurie (she's one of a kind to put up with my kind of crazy, I tell ya!), but I received so much happiness in seeing others being able to connect and bond over our swap. I'm truly honored so many of you took a chance in participating with us and came back again, let's make this year even better than ever! 

*One last thing... We as hosts enjoy organizing and participating in Christmas in the Country and we enjoy getting to know all of the participants and getting to see the joy shared across the country. We do not, however enjoy hearing that a package was late or that a thank you was not sent or acknowledged. It honestly breaks my heart when someone who is excited about the swap doesn't receive a package or they never get a "thank you" for the package they so lovingly prepared. If you truly want to participate, then we expect you to participate fully (which includes: shipping ON TIME, blogging and linking up to the party BEFORE it ends, taking the time to really get to know your person and sending them something you think they will enjoy, THANKING your gift giver for your package). If you can not do that, we totally understand and no hard feelings, but this exchange may not be for you. 

Alright, mark your calendars for November 20th!! Sign-ups will open that morning and close the night of the 30th! Again if you have any questions, please let Jamie, Lara, Kirby or myself know. 

Jamie – This Uncharted Rhoade – thisunchartedrhoade@gmail.com
Laurie – COUNTRY LINKed – laurie.link@gmail.com
Lara – My Other More Exciting Self – ldurben@charter.net
Kirby – 15009 Farmhouse – kirbylinebach@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Life Update - Summer 2015

Hello! Anyone still around here? Long time no see!

I've come to the conclusion that I'm not the type to a consistent blogger - I like blogging when I feel like it, but some weeks I would rather just read an entire book or spend as much time as I can outside. And I'm learning that whatever makes you happy, is probably the right thing to do. I love advocating for agriculture also - but let's be real, there are others better suited for the job. So for now I'll stick to my little corner of the world, do what I can, and try to be the best person I can.

A quote from one of my favorite shows, when I heard this all I could this was YES - this is what I want. I want whatever makes my soul happy and makes me a better person, so I can live a better life.
Louise Ellison: I'm interested in your story, Mr. Bohannan. My readers will be, as well.
Cullen Bohannan: [chuckles] Ain't a story, Miss Ellison, just a life. It's mine to live. Nobody's to read about.
I haven't posted here since the end of April, but a lot has been going on in our lives since then -

In May, we took our first out of the country trip together as couple to attend the wedding of some good friends in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

We've been making progress on the house (good heavens, I haven't posted about that here in almost a year!). The interior on the "new side" is almost complete except for the floors. Right now we've started working on the "old side" including flooring and drywall. We see an end in sight - at least an end to the construction loan, which is the main goal at this time!

We've had new pigs come in and out a few times, and got to introduce our nephews to some of the new babies... and we bought a new (to us) truck!

I got to take engagement pictures for one of my best friends, and then a couple weekends ago she got married!

We're full swing into fall calving, and it's going pretty good (knock on wood). We have a small herd - only 15 head - and one mysteriously gave birth earlier this year - so we have 14 to calve this fall. So far we've had 10 go and technically they have until the end of October. 

And the biggest news around here won't be making an official appearance until next February, but it's still causing a lot of change...

We are very excited and thrilled (and maybe a little terrified) about this big change! A quick recap of things I've learned thus far in the first 20 weeks: 
  • At first I felt very guilty that I was able to get pregnant fairly easily while I have many friends and online acquaintances that have really struggled with this issue. Eventually I came to terms with my feelings, and knowing that friends could still be happy for me while they are struggling helped. But to all those who are having problems, please know you are in my thoughts everyday now more than ever! 
  • The comparisons to cows and pigs started early, although I make most of them myself! I find myself with even more compassion for our girls, especially now that we are into calving. Also, it's easy to compare ones spouse with bull EPDs... 
  • Even if you don't have abs, you will be amazed at how long it takes "to pop" with a first pregnancy, at least that's been my case. I didn't think I had great abs, but I'm honestly just now barely starting to show and this kid is half cooked! Also, it takes a LONG time to feel movement. Long time. 
  • I still miss my nightly beer, not as much as before, but I've been known to smell the draft beer my husband orders just to imagine the taste...
  • It's much easier for me to imagine a piglet than what a future child might look like. Also, I find myself making opinions on things like epidurals, pain management, nursing, etc based on what I experienced with my pigs. Totally normal right? 
That's all for now! Anyone else have any big life updates this summer? Any other farm mamas deal with pregnancies by comparing yourself to your livestock? 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Crystal Cattle Beauty Swap - Birthday Edition

Whenever Crystal Cattle announces another one of her beauty swaps I can't help but sign up! It's a really great way to meet other farm/aggie girls and discover some new beauty products as well.

This time I was partnered with Jenessa from Nebraska and she was a great partner! I really enjoyed putting together a box of goodies for her and I hope she enjoyed it.

Here's what was in the package I received from Jenessa.

Of course the candy was delicious, and it was so thoughtful that she sent it all in a cute pink storage container! I love the facewipes, I always forget to buy them for myself when I run out. And of course who couldn't use more bobby pins!? My bobby pin stash was running low and I actually really like these kind without the ridges, who would have thought? I haven't tried the lip balm or lotion yet, but I'm sure they are great. I tried the mascara but I think I didn't let the primer layer dry enough or something, I need to try again because I really want to find another great mascara.

I love these swaps and can't wait until the next one!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April CFBP - Think Spring!

Happy April 1st everyone! Welcome to the Country Fair Blog Party for April! This month we would like you to link up your posts about SPRING! We want to see how you celebrate spring, what this time of year has in store for you, and what spring looks like in your neck of the woods! Has spring sprung for anyone else yet? The grass here has finally greened up in the last few days, and fingers crossed, we might be done with the snow. But I won't be a believe that winter is gone for sure until May :)


But first, before we get to the new linkup, here's a few of my favorites from last month. Last month's theme was March Madness where we asked you to share everything that is the madness of March - from spring preparations to changing seasons. As usual, we had a great turnout, and these were some of my favorites:

I really enjoyed this post on how to tap maple trees by Angi at A Return to Simplicity. Tapping trees for syrup has never occurred to me (other than throwbacks to reading Little House on the Prairie!), but after this post it sounds so easy and fun!

Spring is a really, really busy time for lots of farm families. While we aren't crop farmers, the warm weather does bring busier times for us too. I've pinned lots of ideas for freezer meals, but haven't tried any of them yet because, well, you just never know. I like recipes with reviews. And Ally over at Sweet and Savory Eats shares some of her favorite freezer meals that are tried and tested! 


Alright!! Time to link up for the March Madness CFPB! (be sure to link to your post not your home page, only three posts per blog per please!Don't forget to check back through the month and share some love to the other blogs, and come back next month to see if you were a favorite pick!

http://new.inlinkz.com/luwpview.php?id=508272" title="click to view in an external page.">An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, March 9, 2015

March CFBP - March Madness

Usually by this point in the month, I'm sitting here wondering where the last month went. But let me tell ya... I could not WAIT for February to leave. It's the shortest month, but was it just me or did it seem to take forever? While I don't buy that March is spring, because I've seen more than my fair share of March snow and cold, it's one step closer to spring!

However I'm still late to the party, and it's party because it has been gorgeous here the last couple days, and I'll take the warm weather while it's here! We've been up to our ears in getting ready for new baby pigs, vaccinating and working our cattle, and dealing with the annual Husky shedding event at our house.... the joys of spring-like weather :)

Speaking of being busy, crazy not here-not there weather, and general in-between-ness, I bring you our theme for the March Country Fair Blog Party - March Madness. Show us how you welcome the first signs of spring, how you prepare for Easter, or anything else you find yourself busy with this time of year.


But first, before you link up, check out some of my favorite posts about love from the February CFBP.

If there's one thing I love, it's agriculture and farming. I LOVED this post by Myla over at The Purple Front Door. She busts many common myths about GMOs, and this is defiantly a post I'll bookmark for the future when I need quick information on the topic.

World Conquering Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

If there's another thing I love almost as much as agriculture, it's food. Specifically carbs and sweets. It's my theory that all cheesecake needs raspberries, so therefore I'm all over this cheesecake from Angela over at Gallimaufry Grove. I can't wait to try out this recipe.

The last post I really LOVED from last month was this one from Nicole over at Little Blog on the Homestead. I'm very pro-gun, both for hunting and personal protection. I don't have a personal protection gun yet, but I'm hoping to change that very soon. Nicole goes over great points that any gun owner should know. 


Alright!! Time to link up for the March Madness CFPB! (be sure to link to your post not your home page, only three posts per blog per please!) Don't forget to check back through the month and share some love to the other blogs, and come back next month to see if you were a favorite pick!

http://new.inlinkz.com/luwpview.php?id=497051" title="click to view in an external page.">An InLinkz Link-up