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

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Letter: From the Old Homeowner to the New Homeowner


Big things happened last week. I started this blog back in 2008 to chronicle our journey on raising our kids like our parents raised us - as farm kids. All along, part of the plan would be to sell our home in town, the one where we planned our wedding, began our life together and brought our new babies home from the hospital too.  The goal of course would be to build our new home in the middle of our young walnut orchard on our little piece of dirt in Orland, CA. We have the kids, bought the dirt and planted the orchard. Last week we took the next step in the process and we sold the house and moved. Who knew it would be so hard? Not because we loved that house but only because what that house represented - our family. I wanted the new homeowners to know what that house meant to us so I wrote them a letter.  The letter probably means more to me than it ever will to them but I did it anyway. Today I'm sharing it with all of you. ~mrs. c

August 8, 2014
Dear Mr. and Mrs. New Homeowner,

Congratulations on your new house! We are sure you are eager to make it home.
I’m pretty certain that leaving a note for the new homeowners from the old homeowners is more than likely rare. But knowing what I know about the house and the neighborhood, I felt it might helpful to have a glimpse of what it is at your Denali Drive house that could not be explained in a real estate listing. And frankly, I know I would personally enjoy such a head start on getting to know where I was moving too if I were in your position. So here goes.



We love Amber Grove and we are sure you will too. Where so often it seems these days community is missing, you are sure to find it here. People say hi as they walk down the street. Neighbors chat at the mailbox, and folks wave as they drive by. But what is at your Denali Drive house is what I really want you to know.
Being married to a farmer, it goes without saying that taking care of the yard was more enjoyable than it was work. Rather than try and guess what might be planted out there I wanted to give you a little heads up of what you are going find. Along the west fence, you have three of young cherry trees. The back fence offers an apricot tree and two peach trees and a grape vine that when cared for produces some sweet green grapes. The peach, apricot and cherry trees should produce their first crop next year. In the northwest corner there is a very productive Fuyu persimmon tree. You are sure to get a crop that will more than serve your taste buds and those of the birds too. These persimmons eat just like an apple and were really sweet last year.

Jake has very successfully grown tomatoes, corn, potatoes, onions, zucchini, squash, peppers, herbs and artichokes in the backyard. In fact, don’t be surprised if onions pop up along the east fence. I will guarantee that potatoes will pop-up in the flower bed running along the house closest to the master bedroom. To the left of the white arbor is a small patch of chives growing. And while we were never successful in an actual harvest, you should have asparagus pop up in between the persimmon and the redwood trees.
The maple tree will give you lots of shade in the summer and will provide you those beautifully colored leaves they are known for in the Fall. But don’t blink, last year it seemed like those leaves fell off all in one day! 


The palm tree was a gift from my parents and the redwood trees along the west fence started out as 12 inch saplings. I think you would agree they have come a long way. Also along the back fence, a really tall flowering plant will eventually pop-up.  Those are called Hollyhocks and are one of Jake’s favorite flowers.


The front yard also has a few special surprises in store. If you walk out the front door, the rose bush on the right is called Hot Cocoa and it will be a beast! Jake had a yellow lab a number of years ago and he sat right smack in the middle of that rose bush when it was newly planted. You would have thought that stress would have killed it. Not this rose bush. It grows stronger and taller each year, even after generous annual prunings. In the flower bed to the left of the front door, spring bulbs will pop up under the window. A beautiful Easter lily will bloom hopefully before Easter. Right now you will see a Calla Lilly taking shape. It has grown back now each year for the last five years even after Jake attempted to destroy it. It was not his favorite but I loved it. There are lilacs and daffodils in front of the windows and spring should bring you a variety of gorgeous Iris’ too.
The kitchen hosted many friends and family for our annual clam chowder feast in January. The window above the kitchen sink offers lots of afternoon sun and is a great place to grown a few herbs, a sun loving plant and will also brew the perfect jar of sun tea.

Inside the coat closet on the right wall you are going to find a switch. That switch will make turning on the Christmas lights a breeze. There is electric plug outside the front door up towards the eaves of the house in the entryway that is operated by that switch. There are already hooks all along the front of house that will make hanging lights really easy. And yes, many in the neighborhood will decorate right after Thanksgiving and lots of people will drive by during the holiday season.
So what about the neighbors? Jerry and Valerie Converse live to your East and are wonderful neighbors. We always let Valerie and Jerry know when we would be gone for an extended time and they were sure to watch for anything unusual and throw our paper to the front door so they didn't pile in the driveway. The Smiths live to your West and have two young children and the Monroe’s live directly across the street.

You should also know that Amber Grove is very popular at Halloween. Even though on average we handed out three-five Costco size bags of candy, it is a lot of fun to see the kids and their costumes out walking together with their families. In fact, we will probably bring our boys back to the neighborhood to trick-or-treat this October since we know our way around.
Lastly, if you ever wished ice cream could be delivered to your door, rest assured Schwan’s does deliver every other Tuesday. If you happen to be home, Ken is your driver and he is a really nice man. And if you like French fries, they make the best baked crinkle cut fries.


Baby Cecil's Nursery circa January 2012

We are really excited for you and know that while today it is a house, we are sure it will soon be easy to call it a home. Jake and I started our life together in this house and it will always hold some really fabulous memories for us. Like hosting our wedding rehearsal dinner in the backyard in 2008, decorating the first bedroom as a nursery before our oldest son was born in 2010, keeping a bountiful garden in the backyard each summer to share our love of farming and food with our two boys and too many birthday parties to even count. 
Dalton's 2nd Birthday in March of 2014.
We hope you too will create lots of memories at your Denali Drive house . I know we are rich with memories that are sure to last our lifetime and that of our boys too.

Wishing you all the best,
Jake, Colleen, Clayton and Dalton Cecil


So what's next? We are renting until we can build our new home. Stay tuned for more updates on the growing orchard, growing boys and what it takes to build a new house from the ground up. Thanks for reading!

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.

PinkePost.com

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.

www,sarashousehd.com

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.

www.localfarmmom.com

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. 

www.kidscowsandgrass.com

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. 

www.beyerbeware.com

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. 
janiceperson.com


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. 

www.bggarden.com

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











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