Recent Posts

Monday, February 1, 2016

Comments for a Cause - Love Your Melon

Comments for a Cause - Love Your Melon
Happy February 1st and Happy New Comments for a Cause Day!  Before I share February's new cause, let me share about January's numbers.  In January I had 66 comments, creating a $33 donation to Cupid's Undie Run Mason City. Thank you to everyone that commented and I'll be sure to share about the February 13th race later this month!


In the month of February, I am excited to be donating $0.50 for every comment made on my blog to Love Your Melon.

Comments for a Cause - Love Your Melon
I've been inspired with Comments for a Cause organizations and causes from a number of places - family, friends, lemonade stands, and now social media.  You know, I'm kind of surprised I haven't been influenced by social media more in the past, but this month's cause all came from an Instagram post from the Iowa Nice Guy - Scot Siepker, wearing a stocking cap.  Now it isn't unusual to see people take selfies wearing stocking caps, especially Iowans during the winter, but this stocking cap was something special.  It was a Love Your Melon stocking cap.

Love You Melon was founded in an entrepreneurship class in the Fall of 2012 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota by two friends and classmates, Zach and Brian.  There mission has stayed true since the start and it is to "improve the lives of children battling cancer."  Their simple solution to this was and is to put a hat on every child battling cancer in America.

Founder Zach said, "We founded the organization while we were sophomores in college.  We wanted to help those in need.  The hats that we made were popular enough to sell out the first weekend.  On December 18th, 2012, we got to go to our first hospital donation event and it was then that we knew how cool this idea was.  Seeing the smiles on the kids faces that day was incredible so we kept making the hats."

After taking the campaign on a couple nationwide tours, the program has now worked to establish a network of college students of over 7,500 attending over 500 different schools across the nation.  These students are ambassadors who sell and donate hats.  The original program of "buying a hat, giving a hat" has promised more than 45,000 hats to children battling cancer in the United States.  These hats are donated in person at hospitals nationally by the college ambassadors who dress up as superheroes.

Now the program is partnering with the Pinky Swear Foundation and the CureSearch for Children's Cancer.  The new program model has 50% of the net proceeds of every Love Your Melon product sold donated to these two organizations.  This new program will continue to give hats to all kids battling cancer, as well as to fund research to beat childhood cancer.

So help me put a hat on a child cancer patient by commenting all month long.  You can personally check out the Love Your Melon merchandise shop and make a donation by modeling a new hat this winter.  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Country Fair Blog Party: February 2016

I knew January was going to be a busy month and I can tell by my several blog drafts that never got enough time put towards them to get published...  But the start of a new month is always a great chance to start over and hit publish, including the newest Country Fair Blog Party!  Before I share the February link-up, here are my three Blue Ribbon Winners from the January Country Fair Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Cooking with Carlee's Pulled Pork Enchiladas with Creamy Cheese Sauce
I love the wide variety of recipes shared on the Blog Hop every month and January's party was no exception.  My favorite recipe from the month was Cooking with Carlee's Pulled Pork Enchiladas with Creamy Cheese Sauce.  I made this recipe last week and it was delicious!  The pork filling had great flavor and was very filling, and the cheese sauce was delicious (in fact, I scraped up every last bite of cheese sauce from the pan before officially declaring the dish done...).  This is a great dish to make for your next family's meal!

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Farm Livin' Is My Life's Dear Jesse,
My next blue ribbon winner is Farm Livin' Is My Life's Dear Jesse, post.  This is beautiful letter written from a mother to her son on his wedding day.  The letter talks about this new stage of life for everyone, memories, and advice for the future.  I hope you take some time to read this post and congratulations to Jesse and his wife Brittany.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Agricultural with Dr. Lindsay's Care of baby lambs in freezing temperatures
My final blue ribbon winner is Agricultural with Dr. Lindsay's Care of baby lambs in freezing temperatures post.  This post shares information about lambing season and talks about how it never seems to fail that winter storms bring more lambs.  I couldn't help but reflect on my many years raising lambs growing up.  It seemed like I was late for school at least once a year during lambing season because there was so much activity in the barn.

Link up to 3 of your favorite posts to the February Country Fair Blog Party
I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up to this month's Country Fair Blog Party.  Country Fairs are all about food, family, friends, farming, animals, arts and crafts, canning, baking and more.  And that is what our our blog hop is all about too.  Feel free to join our Country Fair by linking up to 3 of your posts.  This blog hop is a great opportunity to check out new blogs, and if you blog yourself, have your posts reach a new audience.  Be sure to visit some other party goers and let them know you are stopping by through the Country Fair Blog Party.

Country Fair Blog Party Co-Hosts
Also, be sure to visit my fellow co-hosts:
Jan of Tip Garden
Laurie of Country LINKed and
Nicole of Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom

We're excited to see everything you share this month!  What is your favorite link from this month's Country Fair Blog Party?  Whichever post is mentioned the most in the comments will receive my "Readers's Choice" Blue Ribbon next month.  Remember to Comments for a Cause!


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Big Reveal - Christmas in the County 2015

For the second year, I participated in the Christmas in the Country Blogger Exchange.  This is a fun gift exchange program organized by Laurie Link of Country LINKed, Jamie Rhoades of This Uncharted Rhoade, Kirby Lineback of 15009 Farm House and Lara Durben of My Other More Exciting Self.  The gift exchange is for agriculture bloggers and is a great opportunity to get to know other women in agriculture.

This year I received my "Secret Santa" gift from Lisa of Cow Spots and Tales.  She is from Minnesota and blogs about life on her family's century old dairy farm, running, and family.  (Which by the way, her family will be growing in the New Year, as her and her husband will be welcoming their first born in April!)

The Big Reveal - Christmas in the County 2015
My box of goodies from Lisa of Cow Spots and Tales as part of the
Christmas in the Country 2015 Gift Exchange

I had so much fun opening up my box of goodies from Lisa at the beginning of December.  She included a cute dairy cow Christmas card, snowman photo holder, homemade sauerkraut, a jar of Minnesota cranberry jelly, caramels and chapstick.

I have to admit, my favorite thing from the box was the jar of her homemade sauerkraut!  This fall Lisa and one of her friends made almost 90 pounds of sauerkraut!  This was the first time they used real fermenting crocks to make the sauerkraut in.  I don't know if it was their fermenting crocks, or the homegrown cabbage from Lisa's garden, or the Minnesota sauerkraut magic - but it was delicious!  As soon as I saw the sauerkraut I automatically started craving some of our pork brats.  So lucky for me, I just pulled some brats out of the freezer and we had brats and kraut later that week!

Besides receiving a gift, I also had a lot of fun making and sending a gift.  This year I was the "Secret Santa" for Leann from The Purple Martin.  Leann is from Missouri.  Her and her husband love the rodeo and just welcomed their first little cowboy to their family earlier this year.  They are also first time farmers and have dreams of making farming their livelihood.  I had a lot of fun making a wreath for them to hang up on the door of their new farmhouse.  I used some craft supplies that I had on hand and some I bought from the craft store, as well as some neat "accents" from one of my local gift shops to complete the wreath.  You'll have to check out Leann's blog to see the big reveal.

Do you participate in any "Secret Santa" or gift exchanges?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year Goal - Making a Daily Routine

For the last week or so, and all day today, I've been thinking about what my New Year Goals for 2016 should be.  I decided in the end that what I really want to work on, is routine.  Now, if you know me, you're probably thinking, Val needs to work on routine?  I do keep myself and my family in a pretty good routine, but there is room for improvement.  We have had great times of our routine throughout 2015, and I'd like to take all of those great times and combine them all into one.

New Year Goal - Making a Daily Routine

The first routine:
Kids strive on having regular bed times and wake-up times, so why do I, as Mom, not do that for myself?  I need to get myself back in my best groove by going to bed at a regular time and waking up at a regular time too.  Now, talking about waking up, there are days I have just slept till I heard the first kid wake up, but I have noticed, especially over the last year, if I don't get at least 30 minutes to myself in the morning - I'm sluggish all morning, and sometimes all day.  With three kids and a fourth on the way, I don't have time to be sluggish.

The second routine:
At the end of the summer I started focusing on including daily exercise into my routine.  I did a pretty good job working out daily, and then fall harvest hit and my exercise routine decreased to rain days.  And I have to add, after harvest it has been hard to get back into my regular exercise routine.  I know I need to add exercise to my day because it gives me strength in multiple ways.  I also know that I need to exercise either during afternoon quiet time or right away in the morning.  Exercising at night doesn't work for me.

The third routine:
I have a hard time being productive at home if my house isn't clean.  A clean house makes me feel at peace, and able to tackle other tasks that need to get done.  I have a pretty good daily house cleaning and laundry routine that I plan on keeping, but I'd really like to monthly tackle some bigger jobs (aka clean and organize closets, our porch, our garage, our basement, etc.)  For some reason these areas have never seemed to be organized since we moved to our house over two years ago!  When we moved in we had a few areas that became dumping spots, and I have never been able to get those areas out of those ruts.  2016 will be the year of finally getting fully unpacked and organized!

The fourth routine:
Over Christmas break I have realized the importance of time with my kids.  Now, it is not like I don't spend time with my kids.  After all, I am a stay at home Mom and I'm with my kids everyday.  But there is a difference between being around and being present.  All of my kids do better if I can give each of them individual time daily.  This individual time can be reading books - just the two of us, playing a game - just the two of us, working on walking (aka JP), etc.  Also, My Farmer and I have a routine of going on a date night monthly (which we will continue in 2016).  I'd like to do better of doing something fun monthly with our kids, and including one on one kid dates too.

So there is a look at the best of my routines that I'd like to keep going all year long.  What are some of your goals for the New Year?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Comments for a Cause - Cupid's Undie Run Mason City

Comments for a Cause - Cupid's Undie Run
It's the New Year and start of another year of Comments for a Cause on Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids.  I've had so much fun the last two years supporting and creating awareness to a variety of organizations and causes that I just had to continue the program into 2016.  As always, if there is an organization or cause that is near and dear to your heart, contact me and let me hear about it.  I'd love to feature it.

In December, my Comments for a Cause donation went to the North Iowa Christmas Cheer Fund.  Throughout the month I had a total of 74 comments, which creates a donation of $37 to help North Iowa families in need.  Thank you for your support!

In the month of January, I am excited to be donating $0.50 for every comment made on my blog to the Cupid's Undie Run Mason City.

Comments for a Cause - Cupid's Undie Run

Have you ever heard of Cupid's Undie Run before?  I hadn't until last year.  Cupid's Undie Run is a national fundraiser for the The Children's Tumor Foundation, which raises money to help find a cure of a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis (NF).  NF causes tumors to grow throughout the nervous system and can cause blindness, deafness, learning disabilities and chronic pain.  Runs take place across the country during the month of February (usually close to Valentine's Day), where people literally run in their underwear to raise awareness and funds!

Comments for a Cause - Cupid's Undie Run in Mason City, Iowa
Amy running in last year's Cupid's Undie Run Mason City
Photo thanks to Cupid's Undie Run Mason City
and Mod Photography
This year I am going to be running in my (long) underwear at the Cupid's Undie Run Mason City on February 13th as part of  the #AmysGift team, in memory of my friend Amy Hild, who loved participating in the run.

The Mason City Run Director is Loni Dirksen, who blogs at Lifestyles of the Pantless and is a fellow North Iowa Blogger.  She got involved with Cupid's Undie Run because she has NF.  Loni said that she "was looking on the Children's Tumor Foundation website and noticed a link for a crazy event called Cupid's Undie Run, so I had to check it out.  At that time the run had just happened and there was a link that said click here if you want it in your city.  Just for fun I filled out the application thinking they would never pick such a small town to have a major event in."  Well, Loni was wrong.  "A couple days later the national director called me and wanted to do an interview.  She asked me about my involvement with NF and about North Iowa - what sets us apart from everyone else.  The national team loved everything from the Music Man, to John Dilinger, to the Historic Park Inn, to our tight knit community and love for one another.  And just like that I became the race director and Cupid's Undie Run Mason City was born!  If you look at the list of cities (that host a run) we are the smallest by far, but very mighty!"

So support me and my team's efforts by commenting on any post all month long.  I'll be making a personal donation to Cupid's Undie Run Mason City at the end of the month based on the number of comments received through the month.  You can also make a personal donation towards my goal by clicking here.  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Country Fair Blog Party: January 2016

Happy New Year!  I have been a co-host of the Country Fair Blog Party for a year now and I'm excited to continue with my wonderful co-hosts in 2016.  In the past year through the Blog Hop I've been able to check out tons of new blogs and have made some new friends through it.  Before I share the January link-up, here are my three Blue Ribbon Winners from the December Country Fair Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Vickie's Kitchen and Garden's Sugar Cookie Sacks
In December there were a lot of gift guides and DIY present ideas that were linked up to the Country Fair Blog Party.  I personally love making homemade gifts and this year made four - a wreath, toddler fabric letters, hand puppets and a baby doll carrier.   I loved Vickie's Kitchen and Garden's Sugar Cookie Sacks, and I have pinned this idea for a future Christmas gift.  These are so cute and simple - Perfect for your next grab bag gift exchange!  And one of the best parts is that they are affordable to make.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Learning As I Go's Super Easy Beer Bread
In December there were also a lot of great recipes, that came along with even better stories behind them, that were linked up on the Blog Hop.  One of my favorite stories and recipes was Learning As I Go's Super Easy Beer Bread.  Katy not only shared this delicious beer bread recipe, but shared about the woman behind it - an 86 year old woman who is going strong and staying active from her community.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Best of Long Island and Central Florida's Mongolian Beef
My final Blue Ribbon Winner is Best of Long Island and Central Florida's Mongolian Beef.  As soon as I saw the photo of Linda's Mongolian Beef I couldn't look away!  Boy did it look delicious!  And then I checked out the recipe and all the ingredients looked pretty simple and for the most part always in my pantry.  Now that I'm looking at this again, I might have to make this tonight!


Link up to the January Country Fair Blog Party
I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up to this month's Country Fair Blog Party.  Country Fairs are all about food, family, friends, farming, animals, arts and crafts, canning, baking and more.  And that is what our our blog hop is all about too.  Feel free to join our Country Fair by linking up to 3 of your posts.  This blog hop is a great opportunity to check out new blogs, and if you blog yourself, have your posts reach a new audience.  Be sure to visit some other party goers and let them know you are stopping by through the Country Fair Blog Party.

Country Fair Blog Party Co-Hosts
Also, be sure to visit my fellow co-hosts:
Jan of Tip Garden
Laurie of Country LINKed and
Nicole of Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom

We're excited to see everything you share this month!  What is your favorite link from this month's Country Fair Blog Party?  Whichever post is mentioned the most in the comments will receive my "Readers Choice" Blue Ribbon next month!  Remember to Comment for a Cause!


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top Blog Posts of 2015

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!  One of my favorite things to do today is to look at my blog posts from this past year and see which ones were the most read.  This year I've decided to break it down two way - my top posts written in 2015 and my top all time posts.

Top 2015 Blog Posts

My top 2015 blog post was a fun collaboration with Jeni of Jeni Eats on Ham Balls: An Iowa Classic.  Without knowing, I gave Jeni her first taste of Ham Balls at a North Iowa Blogger get together.  After that first try, she was in love!  I love Jeni's enthusiasm and curiosity for local foods and traditions.  Be sure to check out this fun post, and my recipe, as well as Jeni's take on our Ham Ball day in my kitchen!

My second top 2015 blog post had a North Iowa Blogger tie too.  It was a tribute to my fellow North Iowa Blogger, and friend, Amy Hild of Modern Rural Living, who passed away in a tragic car accident this past winter.  I will always remember Amy's zest for life, her passion and strive to learn.  I'm not surprised this was one of my top 2015 blog posts, as Amy's story has made the top lists of the year for our local TV station and local newspaper.  Amy still is making an impact, even from heaven!

Maybe I'm starting a theme here, but my third top 2015 blog post as well had a North Iowa Blogger connection.  The North Iowa Bloggers had a local Pizza Taste Off in March and I brought my family-wide famous Overnight Salad to share with the group, to help break up the amount of pizza and carbs we'd be consuming.  Well, it was very popular with the bloggers too, so I had to share my recipe.

My fourth top 2015 blog post was my Celebrate Your Heritage and Mom with Kringla post.  I grew up in a Norwegian area of Central Iowa where I knew who locally made the best kringla.  So with Mother's Day coming up on the calendar, I thought I'd share my recipe for this sweet cookie pastry that can be ate for breakfast, snack, dessert - really anytime of the day! 

Rounding out the top 2015 blog posts was a my Harvest Recap post, that shared some exciting news about "New Additions" coming to the farm.  I don't know if this post got so many hits because people wanted to learn about Flat Aggie visiting our farm, or wanted to learn about corn bagging, or maybe it was to find out that we are expecting "Baby Tinker" in May!

Top All-Time Blog Posts

My all-time top blog post is my 5 Easy Ways to Teach Your Toddler Their ABCs and 123s post.  If I've had any post come anywhere close to viral, this is it.  I list a few ideas on how to incorporate the alaphbet and numbers into your daily and weekly routines to help your toddler become familiar with them.  I know I'm always looking for ways to help my children learn at home, and obviously I'm not alone.

My next all-time top blog post sneaked into the top 5 for the first time this year.  It is a Tuesday Tasty Pork post for my Slow Cooker Hot and Spicy Ribs.  This was an early post for me and doesn't even include a photo of the ribs!  I'll be changing this in the New Year!  I'm guessing people are googling and pinteresting slow cooker and pork and are falling upon this post.  I'm all of a sudden really hungry for these pork ribs!

My third all-time top blog posts is one of my all time favorites too.  It is the only time My Farmer has done a guest post for me and it is on How to Have a Happy Farm Wife: Rules of a Farmer.  There are certain times of the year on the farm when things are very busy, people are having little sleep and stress is high.  This also seems to be the time when people can get frustrated easily with one another so My Farmer wrote a little post on what he does to keep the peace at home with me.  There must be some other farmers out there looking for solutions to this time of year too!

My fourth all-time top blog post is a post I did on Spreading the Love of Reading through World Book Night and the Latimer Little Free Library.  Sadly, there is no World Book Night in the United States anymore, but there is still a huge, and growing movement to set up Little Free Libraries across the nation and world.  I truly believe that if you can instill the love of reading at a young age, it will help your children learn and do well in school, as well as, it can be a life-long past-time and hobby.

My fifth all-time top blog post is a post I did on Farming - A Family Tradition.  I think it is so special that My Farmer and I both are 5th generation farmers and we are currently raising the 6th generation on our farm.  We feel honored and privileged to be carrying on our family's legacy.

What is your favorite blog post from 2015?  Are there any top blog posts that made the list that intrigue you?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!  Today is the last day to comment to help the North Iowa Christmas Cheer Fund!