Sunday, November 30, 2014

Have you sent your Christmas Card yet?

Thanksgiving is in the record books for 2014. Now begins the greatest competition among me and my friends. Who's Christmas Card will get here first! Didn't know you were competing? That's okay, I made this competition up but once Thanksgiving is over I am always eager to see who will send me their Christmas Card first. Will it be my CWA sister Lynn Figone? Maybe my friend Ellen Duerr? Michelle Hunter and Linnea Trujillo usually show up early enough to be on our card display for weeks. The challenge this year is that we moved - twice!  It's not a secret and we didn't move far but our Christmas card and annual letter apprising you of the new address is not going to win the competition. PLEASE e-mail me or comment below and I will share the info. I will be incredibly sad if I don't get your card this year.

Is this not the cutest little kid? Love that smile. I have no idea whose kid he is but he is cute. Wonder if my kids would look cute on this card? That is the big question.

Christmas cards have been revolutionized.  From the days of our parents handwriting a box of cards picked up at the stationary store to today where you can pick your favorite picture or pictures, upload them to one of many online stationary retailers and customize a card, the message and even have them addressed and mailed too. We are spoiled! With so many options, how is one to pick?

The folks over at Minted asked me to peruse their holiday card designs*. Why did they ask me? Maybe they know I have an affinity for paper - thick paper, soft paper, heavy paper, textured paper, linen, cotton, cardstock, glassy, matte - the list goes on and on. Truth be told, if I could do all my Christmas Shopping at a stationary store I would. I can make a trip to buy a ream of paper last 30 minutes. So many smooth writing pens and new office organizing gadgets to look over.  Ahhhh.

This post however is about Christmas Cards. Have you used Minted before for your holiday cards or custom invitations? I have not but maybe this will be the year? After all they asked for my two cents on their 690 holiday cards. Yes you read that correctly 690. The good news is they have a feature that allows you to mark the ones you might like, a "Favorite," and come back to it later. I'm also curious about their customer service, product quality and production time. These are usually the items that I take into consideration when choosing an online stationery retailer. What's important to you?

Enough about the details. Let's get to the cards. Here are a few of my favorites. (The links to these particulars cards are in the picture captions in case you are wondering.)

I have two boys, This card explains our life perfectly!
Wreck the Halls
This one gives you the opportunity to share multiple pictures. It also says "Merry Christmas" which is really important to me. After all it is Christmas. 
Merry Collage
For those that love this card, like me, but maybe want a different color banner, you are in luck! This one has LOTS of options for the front and the back. Truthfully all the cards have lots of options. Change the shape of the card, change the message, change the text, add something to the back, change the quality of paper, really the options are limitless.
Casual Christmas
 How cute is this one? All online stationary retailers, listen up. Here is the next big idea for your online service. Figure out a way for me to upload my picture to your website so it populates each of your designs - all 690 for Minted! Brilliant right? Sure would make it easier for me to pick a favorite if I could see my kids in the picture. Just a suggestion. You're welcome. 
Very Merry Flourish
 You will never miss with just simple. All picture and a just the perfect message. 
Classical Christmas
This one would be ideal for us given we have moved and need to update our family and friends. If I don't get the annual letter written, this would be a great replacement.  
Fun Facts
 This one got me with the clean text. Must be why it's called scripted elegance. So elegant. 
Scripted Elegance

How do you choose? I actually have 14 different styles in my "Favorites" bar at the moment. That number will probably increase before I start weeding them down. Which card will it be? Will I add a scalloped edge? I usually send a flat card but maybe I will send a folded card this year. Yep, you have that option too over at Minted.

The folks over at Minted told me that tomorrow, Cyber Monday, they will have their best prices and deals yet. They didn't tell me what they would be but they did say they would be good. So upload the family photo, grab a glass of wine and get to designing. 

There are lots of different retailers to choose from with lots of different designs, price points and crazy deals happening right now. 

I would love to hear from you so please tell me below in the comments what design you choose and from what retailer. 

Thanks for reading and if you are on our Christmas card mailing list, stay tuned. It will be in the mailbox soon. 

Merry Christmas! ~mrs. c

*Minted asked me to review their Holiday Card selections and offer my thoughts to my blog readers. In return they have offered me a credit towards product for a future purchase. The designs are theirs but the opinions and thoughts are all mine. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Being Thankful

It's hard to believe 2014 is almost over. Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. A time to pause and embrace what it is that one has that they are thankful for.

So what is it that I am thankful for?

Family that loves you unconditionally.

Laughter of my little boys.

Health of my family.

Agriculture and a table to gather around that always provides nourishment.

The ability to be the best person I can be. 

Simply put, I'm blessed and for that I am thankful. 

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween was a blur!

If you have young children I'm sure that most of your treasured photos are blurry. Not because you are a bad photographer but because your kids have a gene the does not allow them to sit still. Of course I have no scientific evidence to support that it is a gene but what else could it be? 

I have to tell you I almost forgot to take pictures of the boys in their costumes this year. Not because I don't think they are the most adorable superhero's ever but because they have been driving me crazy for a month over these costumes. In fact they have dressed up every night leading up to Halloween because they loved their costumes so much. We bought the costumes early. We knew they would be popular and the boys knew they wanted to be Superheros. (Of course I do have a Spider-Man costume in the closet too. Maybe we can save that for next year.) The problem with the early purchase was they wanted to wear them. So we let them. Each night they put them on and played. Each night I made them take them off before dinner and I hung them back up in my closet so as to not allow them to be torn or destroyed before Halloween.  See those cute Captain America Shields? That is the 2nd set. They broke the first two. But the costumes survived. I told Jake I could not wait till Halloween was over this year just so I would not have to worry about the costumes being destroyed. 

So it's over now. I took the pictures. Lots of blurry pictures. Everyone was happy. They have Captain America moves that would make Captain America himself jealous. They went door to door in our neighbor hood and collected candy. They are only 4 and 2 so they are still getting the hang of the "Trick or Treat" process but they figured it out.

We got home that night. I helped them take of their costumes and I slung them over the foot boards on their beds. I figured they could play dress up now all they wanted and I would not care one bit if a costume got dirty or ripped or simply lost in the mess of their room.

And that was it. The costumes are in the same place they were Friday night when I took them off. A month of "I must wear my costume moooooommy!" and all they want now is that damn Target toy catalog that came in the mail. All I can say is thank goodness we have two catalogs.

Bring on the Holidays!
Thanks for reading. ~mrs. c

Friday, October 10, 2014

Stitch Fix #3 has arrived

It's just like Christmas every other month at my house when my now beloved Stitch Fix box arrives. And just like Christmas I have no idea what is inside until I open it. What I do know is that my stylist has some pretty specific direction from the in depth survey I filled out online, feedback I have offered from previous Fixes and by checking out my Pinterest board. Maybe I should share the survey with my family to assist their Chirstmas shopping? Just a thought.

So what did I get? A skirt, two tops, a dress and a jacket. And thanks to updating my iPhone with the new IOS 8, I was  able to use the new photo timer to take own pictures. They are light years away from magazine quality but you get the idea.

First up the Jay Mini Houndstooth Printed Skirt from Market and Spruce. Cute and comfy with a elastic waistband. I can see this dressed up for work during the week or with flip-flops at the Farmers Market.

Next is my favorite piece in the box, the 41Hawthron Filbert 3/4 Sleeve Popover Blouse. It looks pink in this picture but I think its more red than pink in person. They actually call it coral. Truth be told there was no natural light at 6:00 AM when I took these pictures and I was not worried about lighting. I was so excited to get this top because the next day we were scheduled to take family pictures and I had yet to determine what I would be wearing. There was no longer a question once I took this out of the box. 

I had discussed with my hairdresser what color tops I might consider for the forthcoming family pictures and we decided red or hunter green would be ideal. Would you believe those are the colors of the two tops I got? It was fate or something. This green Fulton V-Neck Short Sleeve Knit Shirt from Pink Martini is perfect for our California weather during the fall and winter and will be great for work and with jeans like I paired it below. 

The next item in the box had me immediately thinking no. A jacket? However I tried it on and my husband said he REALLY liked it and I should keep it. OK, if you say so dear. This olive green (again sorry for the horrible light in these pictures) Market and Spruce Crissie Knit Textured Sleeve Moto Jacket is going to be a fun piece to wear this year. 

Lastly the dress. A 41Hawthron Sloane Colorblock A-Line Ponte Shift Dress. I was so excited to try it on to only learn it was too small. Yep, blame this one on the boobs. Cute though, right? 

Of course I love the style card that comes with each of my Fixes. Very helpful for determining what to wear with each piece. 

So what did I keep? The two tops and the jacket. Because the dress did not fit and I did not loooove the skirt, I sent them back only paying for the three pieces and getting the $20 styling fee credited towards my purchase. Sadly, had the dress fit I would have kept the whole box. That 25% discount for buying all five pieces makes that decision easy - when of course everything fits. 

So what do you think? Have you tried Stitch Fix yet? If your busy woman like me, feeling like your wardrobe needs a little inspiration and don't mind spending the first $20, then give it a whirl! You can sign up here

Thanks for reading! ~mrs. c

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We moved! Twice!

The last month was crazy! It is also my excuse for no blog post in the last four five weeks. But who's counting?

So where do I start? We sold our house and I wrote all about that here. Our house is never without some chaos but chaos got a whole new definition when we moved on August 1st into a one bedroom house for what we knew would be a temporary situation. As I have previously explained, we are going to build our dream home in the middle of our little piece of dirt among our young walnut orchard. There has been a plan from day one and selling our current home was part of the plan. However finding the perfect rental house for your family in the ideal location and having it ready on the day your current houses closes escrow is IMPOSSIBLE! So we moved into a one bedroom house that thankfully was available whenever we needed it and for as long as we needed it. We made it work quite well too.

As luck would have it, a perfect rental property came onto the market the day before we moved out of our former house. The rental however would not be available till September first. And that was okay - because we had the one bedroom house to call home for those 30 days.

Are you keeping up?

So what happened during August? We moved the first time, took our final summer trip before harvest (which I will blog about soon,), spent a day without water in our one bedroom rental (thank you California drought) and I took a handgun training course (so much fun!) And oh yes, we moved again Labor Day weekend!

So where are we now?

A great question and oddly enough right back where we started on August 1st.  Would you believe the perfect rental property is on the same street that we have called home for the last ten years? You can't plan events like this but it is true.

What's up in September?

Jake is busy with a slooooow walnut harvest, the boys are already running around the house in their Halloween costumes, the pumpkins in the garden are ready to be picked, and I'm keeping our family and the local Farm Bureau office running.

And since pictures of moving and houses are boring, here is a much better picture. My boys and our young walnut trees. Aren't they all beautiful?

There you have it. There is more to come including camping in Oregon, shooting my new gun for the first time and picking our pumpkins. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading! ~ mrs. c

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stitch Fix #2 with pictures of course!

Last week we took a quick camping trip with some good friends. I will post about that later but imagine my anxiety when I learned my Stitch Fix arrived while I was gone and I had to wait till I got home to get it. Crazy! But the line, "good things come to those who wait," would apply. Another great box and yes I am excited to show you.

Maybe you are new to the blog or maybe you have no idea what Stitch Fix is? Check out my first "Fix" here complete with an explanation of the program.

As for box #2, it contained a pair of jeans, which I requested, a dress, two shirts and a bracelet. Everything fit which in the world of shopping is monumental in my opinion. First up this comfy and bright faux wrap dress. And as the handy style card suggests, dress it up or down.

It really is the right kind of dress for a girl with chest.And it's flattering too if you ask me. I would probably never pick up this color myself had I been shopping in the store but it came in the box so I tried it on. Love the dress and the color too. And yes, this one is husband approved too. He also commented on the color. 

Next up the peachy cowl neck top. Again probably not something I would have picked up in a store off of a hanger. It is a 3/4 sleeve and it is still really warm outside right now so that makes it a challenge to wear it this month but this will be in the Fall rotation in a few months. 

Also in this picture is a pair of skinny jeans from Level 99.
I requested jeans from my stylist after my last Fix. The fit on the jeans was awesome. They felt good and hit in the waist just right. I don't really have a waist or call it thick if you want but these felt nice. The only problem is they really hugged my entire leg and made feel like I was wearing leggings and not jeans. 

Next up is the white 3/4 sleeve blouse. I love white but rarely wear it. Kids and white don't mix well. Even more exciting is this blouse had no buttons, again another point I mentioned to my stylist after my last fix. Having a chest makes tops with buttons a challenge.  

Love this one. My first reaction was to the quality of this top. It included a white camisole to wear underneath it. Both the cami and the top fit me and my chest and in fact I wore it last night already. 

Lastly there is a cute silver bracelet that looks like a buckle and I didn't get a picture of it before I sent it back. In fact I sent the bracelet back and the jeans. If I am going to pay more than $100 for a pair of jeans, (and I am okay with spending that for good jeans) I want to love them and I just didn't love these that much. Oh well, next time. I did however keep the dress and the two tops. 

Special thanks to my photographer helpers this time around. Husband snapped a few on his way out the door to work. When I realized I needed an additional picture, I enlisted my 4 year old seen below. He snapped the one with the white shirt. Maybe photography is in his future?

So all in all I am pleased with Fix #2. I changed my delivery schedule so now they will come every other month, look for the next reveal in October. Who knows, maybe they will try the jeans again, but this time something with a straight leg or boot cut please. 

Have you signed up for your Stitch Fix yet? Try it today. You can sign up here
Thanks for reading! ~mrs. c

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Soapbox: Marriage, Government and Water

Disclaimer: This is my soapbox today. I am not a psychologist. I am not an expert on marriage or politics. But I am married and I am a voter and I have an observation today. Random and out there? Maybe. But it’s my blog. Some days you get farming and food on this page. Some days you get fashion and family. (Tomorrow will be fashion. I got my 2nd Stitch Fix, stay tuned.) But today you get my random soapbox on the water bond negotiations being discussed in Sacramento right now. By the way, I’m not a water expert either but I know just enough to make this observation and I’m annoyed by it enough to spend my lunch hour penning this.

What is the key to a successful marriage? What is the key to a successful government? Strangely enough it’s the same thing. It is also now apparent why the divorce rate is ridiculously high in this country and why the success rate of our California legislature getting anything remotely helpful done is so low.

Lack of communication and compromise. The process and outcome are the same whether you have an “R” or “D” after your name or husband or wife on your (pre-2008) marriage certificate.

One might argue that there is plenty of communication going on in marriages and in Sacramento these days but this talking is worthless if no one is listening. For decades now, we in agriculture have criticized the legislative majority and special interest groups for not including money for new water storage in previously passed water bonds. Yesterday the Governor’s office came out to tell us about the latest version of a water bond that includes $2.5 billion in continuously appropriated funds for water storage. While this is not the $3 billion “all” of agriculture would like, you must admit that it’s pretty darn close! Better yet the Governor supports it.

Sadly not all of agriculture is happy and they are throwing each other under the bus on social media and in the news. 

So a large group of interests (agriculture included) sat down and came up with a plan (which by the way is still being negotiated) and agreed support. This is called compromise. Is it the perfect solution for agriculture? No, but its more than we had going for us before. And it has a greater chance of getting us where we need to be than ever before.

Do I always get what I want went I ask my husband? No. But we talk about it, discuss the options and come to a compromise that is best for our marriage because that’s what we signed up to do when we got married. I look forward to practicing this model many times over as we prepare to build a house.

Communication and compromise people. Because keeping your position will afford you just that. You’ll have a position and nothing actionable to show for it. Isn't that why we are where we are right now? A drought and not enough water storage to support our population and an annual divorce rate that is greater than the marriage rate in this country. 

Agriculture can't fix divorce but if we in agriculture stop thinking of ourselves as individual industries - almond, walnut, rice, citrus, dairy, cattle - and think of ourselves as just agriculture we might get somewhere and get a little more respect too. 

As a reminder, my blog and my opinions. Thanks for reading. ~mrs. c
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