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!