Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Meet the BlogHer14 Farm Team

Remember the anticipation of going to summer camp? Who will I share a cabin with? Will they be nice to me? I may be 40 years old and I was not going to summer camp but preparing to attend the BlogHer 10th Anniversary Conference in San Jose last week gave me butterflies like those I remember before attending 4-H Camp so many years ago.

So what is BlogHer? You can see for yourself here but BlogHer is an online community dedicated to sharing the passionate, informative, thought provoking, controversial (at times) and educational blog posts of women from all over the web. Each year the writers behind the words gather for three days of inspiration, technology updates, motivation and lots of networking.

It is no secret that food, farming and agriculture are important to me and my family so when my North Dakota social media sister Katie Pinke called and said we needed to be at BlogHer14 to try and bring a greater understanding of food and farming to our blogging counterparts, I said sign me up! As a women who has worked in agriculture professionally since graduating from college, I realized upon registering for this particular conference that this would be my first main stream conference experience. Every other conference I have attended (and there have been lots of them) have revolved around agriculture and my job. Now this is not a bad thing but what I did learn after three days at BlogHer is I have been missing out!

Now that you have an idea of what BlogHer14 is, lets get back to the title of the post, the Farm Team. I was not the only farm girl who was encouraged to register for this conference. There were eight of us in total. If you ask the BlogHer14 organizers about the "Farm Team," they will probably have no idea what you are talking about. You see, by way of social media, a Facebook page was created for us farm women to begin our conversation and get to know each other before we arrived in San Jose. It was with this page we dubbed ourselves the BlogHer14 Farm Team. Some of us had met, some had not but we all had something in common. So without further adieu, allow me to introduce to the rest of the BlogHer14 Farm Team.

I mentioned her above but Katie from North Dakota blogs over at the Pinke Post about her fabulous life growing up and living on the prairie, raising three great kids and running the family business with her husband. Katie is also an agricultural speaker.


Sara blogs over at Sara's House HD. Sara and her husband live in Iowa where they are raising two adorable boys on a farm that grows corn, soybeans, hay and a cow/calf operation.


Kristen is from Ohio and she blogs at Local Farm Mom. Kristen and her husband are also raising two adorable kids on their farm where the raise Dorset sheep and Christmas trees amongst a few other things. Kristen is also a talented chef and enjoys preparing meals using locally sourced ingredients and then shares the story of the food with the guests who are eating it.


Debbie is a wife, mom and rancher in Kansas and she blogs over at Kids, Cows and Grass. Debbie and her husband have five kids and run a cow/calf operation on the Flint Hills of Kansas. 


Leah is from Indiana and blogs over at Beyer Beware. Leah keeps a very extensive collection of everyday, easy and practical recipes on her blog and adds to it regularly. Leah and her husband previously owned a dairy but the struggling economy forced them to sell and now they raise corn and soybeans along with a couple of fabulous kids and pets too. 


Janice is a self proclaimed lover of all things cotton. In reality though she really is a lover of all things agriculture and she blogs about her travels and adventures over at Janice Person - A Colorful Adventure. When she is not exposing everyone she knows to agricultural adventures she is the Social Media Director for Monsanto. 

Bren blogs over at BGgarden.com and while she admittedly will tell you she is not a farmer she is a lover of the land, grows a beautiful garden and is proud of a John Deere green riding lawn mower. It's my opinion but its only matter of time before she adds farmer to her resume. 


If you add me to the list, that makes eight pretty fabulous women dedicated to food, farming and our families. We divided and conquered BlogHer14 making many new connections and putting a face on the American farmer to those we met. We learned a lot about ourselves but we also learned that the Farm Team needs to be bigger next year and have a larger voice. The conversation of food impacts us all at least three times a day yet many know little to nothing about where their food comes from or who is growing it. 

It really was a delightful long weekend getting to know the dynamic women above but it was also a tremendous experience for myself personally to attend BlogHer and meet women bloggers just like me and learn about their passions and perspectives. 

I encourage you to take a few minutes and visit the sites of my Farm Team friends above. And stay tuned. There is so much more about BlogHer14 I still have not shared and will do so in future posts. In the meantime the Farm Team is already plotting our path to get back to BlogHer in 2015 with a larger presence and bigger Farm Team. 

Are you interested in being part of the Farm Team? Thanks for reading. ~mrs. c

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Being #thankful in pictures, days 12-18

Here goes. The third installment in what I am #thankful for, complete with pictures of course. The weekend got away from me and I realized I went seven days without a post so that's what you are getting today, seven pictures. I might also add that some might think that a few of today's mentions could be considered luxuries or materialistic. And you are right. But I'm thankful that we have access to them and for the value they bring to our life.

 No. 12

Travel. These four chairs have a permanent home in our 5th wheel and if they are out of storage, it means we are out and about and together as a family. Travel does not have to be great distances or exotic places, it just needs to be away from our house and offices and involves all of us together. 

 No. 13

My Crock-Pot. Fill it up, turn it on, and dinner is ready when I get home. Why am I thankful for this appliance? Because it means less time in the kitchen and more time playing with the boys after work. 

 No. 14

The taco truck. It's quick, filling, and this kind of truck is native to the farming communities in California. And these trucks were cool before the food truck revolution too over.  The carne asada burrito is my go to order. What's you favorite?

 No. 15

The farmers market and the kindness of farmers. Sure this is not a picture of the farmers market but this is a picture of two very happy boys enjoying the complimentary little apples they got from Noble Orchards last Saturday. They chewed on these things for 30 minutes. Thanks Laurie and Jim Noble!

 No. 16

Knowing how to sew. My mom is an excellent seamstress and taught me how to sew with the help of regular 4-H sewing meetings. She was the 4-H leader obviously. This skill is something I will never forget and use still today. The above is a baby blanket for my new niece who will make her arrival at the end of this month in fact. I have another niece making her appearance in mid-December so I better stop blogging and get back to sewing. 

No. 17 

Costco. Yes I am thankful for Costco. Two loaves of bread, two gallons of milk, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, laundry detergent, fabric softener, AA batteries, Carter's kids clothes, mayonnaise, fresh fish, big blocks of cheese, roasted chickens, freshly prepared ready to heat weeknight dinners and lunch for $1.50, drink included. I could go on. Some may say that they are expensive. They are if you don't use all of it but the reality is we do use all of it. And we usually do all our Costco shopping on Sunday. Together. As a family. Enough said. 

No. 18
My cell phone. Yes I am thankful for my cell phone. I was not eager to give up my Blackberry and I still despise the onscreen keyboard of my iPhone 5 but this phone has an awesome camera. In fact every one of these important moments mentioned in this post was captured in a photo taken on my phone. I have a big SLR camera and I love to take photos on that too but I cant always carry that camera around. I do however usually have my phone with me. I read an article this morning that said moms are spending too much time capturing moments on a camera and not enjoying the moments with their childern. I disagree. Because when I am sitting in a long boring meeting, wanting for an appointment or just need to smile, a quick look through my camera roll reminds be how very blessed I am. I'm glad I took the time to capture these moments and I can proudly say I lived them too.  

There you have it. The month is half over and I still have so much to be thankful for. Thanks for reading. ~mrs.c

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My obsession with the sandwich

Sandwiches come is all shapes and sizes, flavors and colors, and textures and temperatures. I've determined I'm a bit of a sandwich snob connoisseur. What do I mean? Well I like a good sandwich. What makes a good sandwich? I guess whatever you like to put on it but it has to be just right. I've tried to make sandwiches at home but they are just okay. I'm not sure what my homemade sandwiches are missing. Might be that cool sandwich station with little containers of assorted toppings to choose from and paper to wrap them in. I have the same problem with my love for Diet Pepsi. I prefer the fountain soda version over a can or bottle. Weird yes, but true.

Back to the sandwich. Where do you buy your favorite sandwich? There are lots of local sandwich joints and I have tried them and they are great but I always go back to the one with my favorite sandwich. You see the #24 on wheat has long been my go-to sandwich. This sandwich shop is local to California (and can be found in Oregon and Arizona too) and found in many of the great communities I have been a part of over the years. Togo's is my sandwich shop of choice.

This is not something I have shared with probably anyone. Why? Well, no one has ever asked. So imagine my surprise when I got an email from Togo's asking me if I might give all of my blog readers my thoughts on a new sandwich on their menu. I said SURE. Are these people watching me? How did they even know I knew where Togo's was? In full disclosure, they offered to even send me a gift card to buy the sandwich. I accepted! What they don't know (until they read this) is that I bought the sandwich and a few others before I got the gift card. 

And here it is. This particular sandwich is the "Triple Dip" Toasted Dip Sandwich and is one of two new Toasted Dip Sandwiches Togo's is offering right now. This sandwich is loaded! Do you see the melty cheese? Pastrami, Turkey and Roast Beef and it is really good too. I've ordered it twice now, on different occasions of course. I also ordered the "Roast Beef Dip" once which I also highly recommend.


Here is what I learned. The "Toasted Dips" don't normally come with veggies. After all they are served hot with a side of dipping juice too. We call this "Au Jus" at home. What do you call it? Each sandwich has provolone cheese and a creamy horseradish mayonnaise. I ordered the sandwich as-is the first time but decided I would "up the ante" the second time. As you can see I added the fresh veggies (lettuce, onion and pickles) and a little extra horseradish mayonnaise too, at no extra cost of course. I couldn't taste the horseradish the first time and I like it so I wanted to be sure to taste it next time and along with the crunch of the cold veggies, was an excellent improvement for my taste buds. The staff at my Chico Togo's on East Avenue are always really great and accommodating. They gave me a little extra horseradish mayo in a cup too. Just in case you know.

And I added a Diet Pepsi too. Remember I do like my Diet Pepsi from the soda fountain. 

So what might I change about the "Triple Dip"? It's a little pricey for a sandwich at $9.95 for a six inch. Yes it does come with 1/2 lb of meat so this is a shareable sandwich in my opinion. I could not eat the whole thing but maybe a big guy like my husband would. The six inch "Roast Beef Dip" was the normal $6.95 and worth ever penny. A great lunch or dinner option. And if you go to their Facebook page right here, they are running a "Toasted Dips" promotion and you can get a coupon for a $1 off.

Will I order one of the Toasted Dip's again? Absolutely! I really like these sandwiches. Will I go back and order my favorite #24 on wheat. You bet! What is the #24 on wheat you ask? Well I guess you should head on over to the Togo's website and figure it out. And while you are there, find out if there is a Togo's in your town. You won't be disappoined. 

What's on your favorite sandwich? Thanks for reading. ~mrs. c

Monday, November 11, 2013

Being #thankful in pictures, days 6-11

Here it is. My second installment of what I am #thankful for, in pictures of course.

No. Six
Friends and fun friend trips. 

No. Seven 
Colleen and her Daddy, circa 1976 or something like that. 
Dalton and Clayton and their Daddy, circa 2013.
I'm thankful for getting the chance to grow up on a farm. I had this opportunity, Jake had this opportunity and we are so very blessed that our boys will also have this opportunity.

No. Eight
I'm thankful for bath time, because bath time is never dull and always provides unexpected laughs and photo opportunities. See the kid with all his clothes on? Head first into the tub. I guess he was excited to get in. 

No. Nine 

Cooking in the kitchen, together. 

No. Ten
I'm thankful for my gift of gab and my comfort in front of a room full of people with a microphone in my hand. 

No. Eleven
Happy Veteran's Day

I'm thankful for this country and all that has been given up and provided so that we can raise our family here. 

Thanks for reading. Hope you will come back in a few days for the next installment. There is still so much to be thankful for. ~mrs. c

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Being #thankful in pictures, the first five days

I'm jumping on the bus. Everyone is posting daily in social media circles what they are thankful for in the month of November as we lead up to Thanksgiving. I thought I would offer what I am most thankful for in little bunches here on the blog and in pictures. Let's be honest, pictures make me smile. So let's get started.

No. One

I'm thankful for this guy. My best friend, husband and all around rock. Jake Cecil makes me a better person, makes us a great team and makes an awesome pot of clam chowder - bonus for sure. 

No. Two

I'm thankful for Woody and Buzz, Trouble One and Trouble Two, big bro and little bro, call them what you want, they are my babies and they are growing up right before my eyes. I'm thankful for each moment. 

No. Three

I'm thankful for Agriculture. It has given me and my family so much more than nourishment and I am so proud to be part of its community. 

No. Four 

I'm thankful for my parents. These two people, Richard and Mary Aguiar made me who I am and love me unconditionally. 

 No. Five
I'm thankful for my job with the Farm Bureau. In a few days I will celebrate seven years with this group here in Butte County. I did a small stint with the crew in Stanislaus County right after college so Ive been hanging around for a while now. I can honestly say the people - members and staff alike - are some of the greatest people I know. Everyday is different; I spend each of them working for an industry I am so proud to be a part of. 

There you have it, one through five of the reasons I am thankful - in pictures. Stay tuned for the next five on Monday and thanks for reading. ~mrs. c

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hey Nabisco, can you help a mom out?

Dear Nabisco,

I want you to know we are BIG fans!

Here is a little sample of what my collection of crackers and treats looks like. Yes I know two of these are not Nabisco but those brands should listen up too.

Might you consider an alteration to your packaging? Here's my dilemma, we buy lots of crackers because we like variety.  My hubby likes the Triscuit with his hard cheeses and I prefer the Wheat Thin's with cream cheese and dip. My boys think Ritz crackers are awesome and love the little Teddy Graham's in both chocolate and cinnamon for their sweetness. While not yours Nabisco, those Blue Diamond Nut Thins on the end are divine with a creamy brie. And who can resist a Cheese Nip? 

So here's the problem. With so much variety in our cupboard, we can't eat them all at once and the product goes stale before we finish a box because the little bag in the box stays open. Yes, I know that a stale box means I will buy another box and this is good for you and your investors. However as you can see above, I'm not shy on keeping a wide variety in our home. Heck, I might even buy a few more flavors if I knew they would last longer. 

The closure at the topic the box does a great job keeping the contents inside for the most part. But how about keeping out the air? 

Sure I could use a clip device inside the box. I also attempt to roll the bag down into the box. 

But what about this mess? A tear on the bag.  This happens often in my house. But maybe it wouldn't happen as much if the bag in the box had a closure? Aha! 

Like this. A regular reclosable bag. Brillant right? 

I myself have started using a quart size recloseable bag in each of the snack boxes in my pantry but I thought it would not hurt for you to hear from me, a mom, a consumer, and the shopper in my house. 

Nabisco and other snack food companies whose names are not mentioend above, thank you for your time and for listening. Even if you don't think this is a good idea, I bet a few other moms, like me will. Because who really likes stale crackers anyway?

Thanks for your considertion,
mrs. c

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Annual Memories

While Jake and I don't have school aged kiddos just yet, we have lots of friends who do including the Gore's whose eldest son and our godchild Jonathon took the big leap this week to Kindergarten. Before he could do this however, we had to do a little camping together.

We hooked up the trailers, loaded the ice chests and headed for cooler weather. Westport in Mendocino County was our final destination. I would love to show you all the great photos detailing our awesome long weekend but I was without my camera most of the time. Why you ask? I just forgot to take it out of the trailer each time we went to the beach. And since there was no phone service, I didn't even carry the phone camera with me either. An epic fail! However Jake has a bunch of photos of the kids at the beach on his phone and Amy did carry her camera along so I know there is more.

I did manage to get a picture of our campsite before Jake put everything away. The boys loved having room to run around. There was a playground too in this great RV Park and Campground. Look it up. I know we will be back.

The other photo I did take is below. I managed to pull the camera out before we left to capture a picture of the whole crew. Thanks to the timer on the camera and the spare tire on the trailer that I used as a tripod, we have this picture.

If you ask me, this was the most important picture I could capture. The one we will use to compare year after year about how we have changed and how the kids have grown. After four days of fun, friends, barbecue, 4pm happy hour and ocean breezes, everyone was still smiling and already talking about next year. Until then its back to school and preparing for Harvest 2013.

Thanks Stacy, Amy, Jonathon and Lorene! We had a great time and can't wait till next year!

Thanks for reading. ~mrs.c


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