Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Our 2015 Christmas Card

Confession: Today is December 23 and our Christmas cards went out yesterday. 

Thankfully I just happened to choose a card that tacks on "and Happy New Year", so I'm in the clear right?!  This year's Christmas card may have went out way (way, way) later than I typically prefer sending, but they did get mailed.  And they're probably one of my favorite cards to date! 

The fact that our outfits are totally. on. point. may have something to do with that...


And that I was having a good hair day thanks to my Beauty Swap goodies doesn't hurt either!

Again this year, I created our Christmas card using Shutterfly.  They have SO MANY templates that I spent hours (not kidding) designing options for this year's card.  I got to the point where I was saving them things like "Christmas Card # no idea" and "Christmas Card what number am I on".  Matt and I had to narrow down our options twenty-freakin'-six to one!  The barnwood and coordinating red design sorted itself quickly to the top of our list of options.

I hope you all get to spend this holiday season with the ones you love the most! 

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It's Like Christmas! Beauty Swap Reveal.



I genuinely love participating in Crystal Cattle's Beauty Swap! My favorite part is connecting with and staying in touch with past partners.  I've had some great ones!  Thanks to Crystal for creating such a fun event and allowing me to co-host with her for the 2nd anniversary of the Beauty Swap!

This Swap I was paired with Sara Hewitt of Faith, Farming & Cowboy Boots.  Sara is a farmer's daughter, who is working on getting a Master's degree in Agricultural Education.  She's also a cowboy boot wearing garage sale lover with a passion for horses.

Sound familiar?!!?  Two peas in a pod we are!  Sara and her hubby do have an adorable little girl, Harper; while Matt and I are only parents to two fur babies!

The package of goodies Sara sent arrived while I was in Chicago for our Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting (Another commonality between the two of us!  Sara and Mark are active in the Minnesota Farm Bureau), but I literally ripped open the box when I got home Monday night!  Inside were some great items:

Beauty Swap

Throughout the string of emails getting to know each other, we talked a lot of about likes/dislikes and products that we'd be wanting to try.  First on my list was The Detangler hairbrush, which is as fantastic as every says!  I've used it on dry hair and again this morning after my shower.  Love!  I'm typically a comb user out of the shower, but this has be seriously reconsidering.
The two lip crayons were included by Sara because they're some of her favorite steals from Ulta.  I received Love Spell and Hazy Pink, which is a matte finish.  I've got on Love Story right now and it's definitely got me under some sort of spell!

See the Brow Power up there??  It's epic.  I've struggled with whether my current brow pencil is too dark for my brow color and this little ditty rectifies that problem.  It's UNIVERSAL!  The darker you press the dark it appears and the brush that's included helps to feather for a natural look.

The It Cosmetics Hello Lashes mascara has taken some getting used to.  The applicator end is different configured differently than what I've used in the past, but I'm getting the hang of it after a few days.  

I've yet to try the Powder Play, but I do love me some big Texas hair and can't wait to 'tease it to Jesus'!  Our Christmas pictures are scheduled for Friday and plan to jack my hair!

Sara also included several sample products and I'm loving the CC+ cream by It Cosmetics.  I've used it the last two mornings and really like to look and feel.  And now a shameless bathroom selfie featuring several of my Beauty Swap items...

Beauty Swap

I can't wait to see what everyone else received in their Swap boxes and hopefully connect with some more amazing women!  Don't forget to link upyour blog posts on Crystal's page!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mom and I Agree On This

There are few things that my mom (Hi, Mom!) and I agreed on when I was living under my parents roof.  Looking back now, it was pretty stupid stuff like laundry or what color the sky was.  Teenagers.

These days, I have to be careful because sometimes I open my mouth and my mom comes out!  I find it eerie and Matt thinks it's hysterical. Mom and I might still find things to nitpick about or poke at just for the sake of poking, but we do have a mutual agreement for one thing..

Made for TV Christmas movies!!

As I sit here and type, I realize that they're all terribly corny.  But I just can't stop!  Someone on my facebook feed said this, "They're like potato chips. Each one tastes the same as the other, but you can't stop at just one!" and it's SO TRUE!  

Mom and I could both sit down and watch them for hours.  I think Dad and Matt call to commiserate.  At least there's a second TV at my parents!  I try to record as many as I can so that I a) don't have to listen to Matt moan and groan and b) so I'm not ridiculed for them when I do watch!  Even though he swears he doesn't watch or isn't listening, the man knows when one is a repeat from the year before.  

Below are some of my favorites that I've seen this year (or last year and probably the year before that too) on Hallmark!

Snow Bride
via

The Christmas Ornament
via 

Tis The Season For Love
via 

Lifetime is another great option for Christmas movies!  This weekend I recorded A Gift Wrapped Christmas and really like it.  And if you're looking for some eye candy consider watching 12 Men of Christmas!

I know that my mom and I are not alone in our love of these movies, otherwise the networks wouldn't have started playing them at the beginning of November, right?  Right?  

Who else will own their love for these cheesy, sticky sweet Christmas movies? 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gotcha

A special Sunday post for a special little dog.


One year ago today sweet Haddie was officially added to our family!  I vividly remember seeing her picture come up on my Facebook.  Within seconds of seeing and reading about her I'd made contact with rescue organization, called Matt and scheduled a "visit".   I say "visit" because I knew that adorable little face would have a furever home with us if she and Bella got along.


Three days after seeing Haddie online, we loaded up Bella and hot footed it to northern Illinois.  When we met her, she was timid and rightly so.  Labradors are inherently boisterous and Bella was only too excited to meet a new friend!  After some playtime, a walk and quiet deliberation where Matt told me it was my decision... I decided that heck yes I wanted this girl to be mine ours! 


In the last year, we've overcome some hurdles with Miss Hadelyn Lott.  She was anxious about traffic and would dive into the ditch if a car passed us while we were running.  Haddie wasn't thrilled even riding in a vehicle, but now she gets highly offended if she doesn't get to go along!  Trips with me to the barn or horse shows are her favorite!


There are times I find myself wondering how this snuggley, well-mannered and sweet dog ended up in a high kill shelter somewhere in Kentucky?  It's a question that I'm asked a lot too.  Honestly, I try not to dwell too long on it because what's in the past is exactly that; the past.  Her present and future are far superior to what she lived prior to becoming part of our family!


Happy Gotcha Day, Haddie!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Beauty Swap Sign-Up


It's time for another Beauty Swap and I'm helping my gal pal Crystal out with the co-hosting duties this time around!  I started reading Crystal Cattle years ago and truly geeked out the first time Crystal commented on something I wrote!  Last year we happened to be in Las Vegas at the same time and decided to meet up for breakfast.  Despite both of our husband's thinking it was totally off the wall, it was a success!  And I actually just spent the last three days with her at AgChat in Nashville; further bonding over bright pink lipstick, vintage turquoise and a love of agriculture.  

I first joined in on the Beauty Swap because my mom quit selling Mary Kay and I was at a loss with all the products on the market!  Through the Swap, I've been able to slowly transition and try so many types of make-up.  The Swap isn't just about make-up either!  I've received hair care products and pretty nail polish too.  

The Beauty Swaps are an opportunity to meet women from all over the country (we've had some Canadian girls swap too), and get to try out beauty products that we might not necessary buy for ourselves.  I am pretty sure stock in EOS lip balm, Benefit Fakeup concealer and Neutrogena make-up removal wipes have all risen since the beginning of our beauty swaps.  Many of the gals that participate are farmers, ranchers or are in some way involved in the agricultural community... But anyone is welcome to join in on the fun!

So how does a Beauty Swap work?  Once you have signed up we’ll pair you with another beauty loving blogger (or someone that enjoys Twitter or Instagram).  You’ll have a little bit of time to get to know your new social media friend, and then you’ll send each other a gift of beauty products.  Sign up for the Beauty Swap will take place November 8-18, 2015.  We'll send out the pairings by November 22.  Get to know your partner and then be sure to get your package in the mail by November 30.  It is really important to follow these deadlines as we have had a few Beauty Swappers send their packages off and get nothing in return :(

Once you have received your box start testing out your new beauty product.  We'll host a link up on December 10.  It is fun to link up and read all about everyone else's finds.  Here are link ups from Beauty Swap IBeauty Swap IIBeauty Swap IIIBeauty Swap IVBeauty Swap V and Beauty Swap VI.  You don't have to have a blog to participate, but we do ask that you have a social media way to communicate and join in on the fun.  Use the hashtag #ccbeautyswap on Twitter or Instagram.  Below is a list of a few rules and guidelines that we ask you stick to. 

1. Follow the Crystal Cattle blog and Facebook page, and The Purple Front Door Blog
2. Email your partner within 72 hours of receiving your match. If you haven’t heard from your match after three days are up, let Crystal or myself know and we’ll try and pair you with someone else.
3. Be sure to ask your partner questions about their likes and dislikes, products they like to use, skin tone, preferred colors, etc. or maybe they want to be surprised!
4. Each box should contain a min. of $20 worth of product. Please include one full size item. You may also include samples of products with your one full size item.
5. Items must be new, unless you’ve discussed this with your partner. (Perhaps she loves purple nail polish and you have bottle you know you won’t use anymore.)
6. Packages must be shipped by November 30. If possible it is a good idea to get a tracking number in case something gets lost.
7. Once you receive your package create a post revealing what you received and link up with us on December 10.
8. Since it is almost Christmas consider including your favorite Christmas treat or recipe!
9. If you do not follow the rules you may forfeit you right to participate in future Beauty Swaps. Crystal Cattle has the right to refuse participation for any reason.
10. Understand that unfortunately sometimes you may send a package and get nothing in return. This is out of our control and a risk you take. 

To sign up click here!

And if you need some ideas of what past Beauty Swap packages have looked like check out some of my previous reviews (here and here) or head over to the

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Make This: Pumpkin Protein Bites


During the fall, my work calendar is full of classroom presentations about pumpkins.  The best part of scheduling pumpkin presentations is making Pumpkin Patch Pie with the kids!  I find it funny to hear the chorus of "Ewws!" before they actually get to eat their snack, because almost every kiddo is asking for seconds when we're done!


Fun Fact: Illinois farmers grow more pumpkins than anyone else in the world!  

While I do enjoy Pumpkin Patch Pie, I was inspired by With Salt and Wit's recipe to make something a little more healthy.  These tasty nuggets of awesomeness are great for a mid-morning snack and also curb any cravings for sweets after supper! 


Pumpkin Protein Bites
Adapted from With Salt and Wit
Makes 18

Ingredients:
1/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup Smucker's Reduced Fat Natural Creamy peanut butter or your preferred PB
1 package Advocare Vanilla MRS or approximately 60 grams of vanilla protein powder
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Directions:
1.  Combine cashews and oats in a food processor or blender until they are a fine powder.
2.  Mix the pumpkin, maple syrup and peanut butter in a medium bowl until combined.
3.  Add the cashew/oat flour, MRS, ground flax seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin pie spice to the pumpkin mixture.  Stir with spoon to combine.  Note: You may need to get in there with your hands to really mix it well.
4.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
5.  Remove approximately one tablespoon of the 'dough' and form a bite sized ball between your palms.
6.  Eat those bad boys!

Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for later.

Are you pumpkin'd out yet this fall?