Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No Loyalty

Correction: I am a loyal person, I just have no brand loyalty.

Every time I buy shampoo, or shaving cream, nail polish or body wash I try something new.
"Oh! Look, mango and papaya with moisturizing beads!"
"A matte dark brown nail polish! I need this! Hmm, think it's worth $18?"
One of my recent $18 nail polish purchases
And, as embarrassing as it was to type - I seriously think those things when deciding which beauty product I want to try next.

Wandering the aisles of Target or Sephora is seriously so much fun for me. (Although it drives Homeboy crazy.) He is a one brand only kind of guy - Axe body wash and shampoo. Boring.

Someone told me once to alternate a salon brand shampoo/conditioner with a cheap one from Target. And although I cannot tell you who shared this advice, I still stand by this rule. Hair care professionals, is this legit?

Because I'm always game for a beauty experiment, what are your favorite brands? Please share in the comments below.

And because we're talking about "beauty secrets" today. I'll share one of my favorites with you - Murad.

I am a faithful, loyal user of the Murad Acne line. I wouldn't say I have bad acne at all, but I do tend to break out around my chin and nose a few times a month. I use all four of the products featured above - every single day, even when I travel.
  1. Clarifying Cleanser
  2. Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel
  3. Acne Spot Treatment
  4. Skin Perfecting Lotion
I have purchased it online from Murad directly. But I usually prefer to buy Murad products from Sephora, and gaze (drool) at all of the other stuff in their store or online. I love make-up and nail polish and being girly. Sadly, my usual daily companion, Cougar, doesn't care one way or the other.

Until next time,

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

No, I'm Not Engaged Yet.

A friend and I were recently having a friendly dialogue about an article we read from The Huffington Post entitled, "Let's Ban Weddings and, While We're at It, Baby Showers Too."

The author, Valerie Alexander, talks about the ridiculous pressure young women are put under to have successful jobs, marriages and babies.

Alexander asks her friends (many of them now divorced), "Hey, can I have back the thousands of dollars I spent being in your weddings? Because the wedding really is the problem, or more precisely, the desire for a wedding."

Image courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Weddings are expensive and full of (ridiculous) fanfare. And, coincidentally every girl dreams about their wedding, starting in preschool. Now thanks to Pinterest ... every little girl's "dream" is turned into a full-on circus with matching DIY chair signs, enormous centerpieces filled with flowers imported from Thailand and lace aisle runners hand-tatted by nuns in France.

And for some reason, I still want to get married. I haven't started the planning process yet, but I don't think I'll need imported flowers or out of control extras. I want to have a simple ceremony and a fun reception, where we can celebrate with all of our friends and family. But in the mean time, what if I just want to enjoy being Homeboy's girlfriend for a little while longer? Let us decide when we should get married. Graduating college came first, and luckily I have the diploma to prove it.

Earning that said diploma hanging on my wall was the hardest thing I've done to date. After graduation, I got a job and am using my degree working for a company I really believe in. Shouldn't that act be celebrated rather than minimized by you looking at my bare left hand and shaking your head or clucking your tongue?

Alexander brings up a good point, "And what if, as a society, we celebrated other milestones instead? Wouldn't it be amazing if college graduations were given the wedding treatment? If the commencement ceremony included a $3,000 dress and a $70-a-plate dinner for friends and family who came in from all over the country? Photographers, flowers, dancing, a band? "You've got to see my graduation video. It was so beautiful!" What would be the outcome if little girls had 32 television shows to watch about that? Would that give them something else to aspire to? To dream about?"

Homeboy and me on our recent trip to Maine.
And for some reason, I still want to get married. But you (yes, you well-meaning family members and friends) asking about when I'm getting an engagement ring isn't speeding the process along. I am 23 years old, and I don't think it needs to go any faster. When we are ready, and Homeboy wants to ask, he will.

I've had people ask me on Facebook, in person, on the phone and in the grocery store when I'm getting engaged. The answer is ... I don't know and I don't want to know! I am a planner through and through, but for this one (big, huge, important, monumental) moment, I'm going to trust my boyfriend to handle it. Call me old fashioned, but I want to be surprised and I want the moment to be special.

Here is what I'm asking --- censor yourself. In a recent article, "Think Before You Post? 5 Reasons People Self-Censor on Facebook," NBC News shares results from a recent Facebook survey.

According to the survey, people censored their posts for 5 reasons -
  1. People didn't want to "instigate or continue an argument," because fighting on Facebook isn't fun for anybody.
  2. Users also didn't want to "offend others," which is why people are always sharing cat videos, not their political manifestos. That, the study said, usually results in users sharing "content for the 'lowest common denominator' — content that would be appropriate for any of the user's distinct social circles."
  3. People didn't want to "bore" their friends.
  4. Also, they were hesistant to "post content that they believed might be inconsistent with their self-representations." Yes, we're talking to you, PhD student who secretly wants to post about "Duck Dynasty."
  5. Users neglected to post "due to technological constraints," for example, getting frustrated when trying to post with the mobile app.
Now, I have conflicting views about Facebook in general. Homeboy thinks people share too much, and on most levels, I agree. But, I still post something on my wall - usually daily.

I have censored my posts based on all of the above reasons. I'm sure all of my "cow" posts and Cougar Fleming pictures bore some people, but I have friends all over the country and I enjoy sharing a little part of my day with them, but not everything.

Here's the kicker people - what if we censored our live, human conversations with the same integrity? According to the article, "Overall, 33 percent of all posts written during the 17-day study were self-censored." Imagine, if you didn't say 33% of the things you've started to say.

You might not realize - but when you're asking me when I'm getting engaged, you're making me terribly self-conscious. What is wrong with me that I'm not engaged yet? When you ask someone when they're going to have a baby, maybe they've been trying for months to no avail. Why can't we get pregnant? They're asking themselves that everyday. When you ask someone how the job searching is going, you're really just rubbing salt in the wound. Finding a job is hard, and sometimes even with a great resume and people skills - it takes a while, trust me.

I'm not asking you to not get married or have a baby or ask about your friends' lives, but maybe just put yourself in their shoes when you ask really personal questions?

Not everyone gets to go to a job they enjoy, be in a loving relationship and have an awesome pet dog like I do. And I get that! For right now, that's enough. That's all I need in my life. One day, I will get married. One day, I'll have a kid that's not covered in golden fur. But for now, I've got a job I enjoy, a boyfriend I love, and a cute house in the country that is warm and functional.

And for some reason, I still want to get married - SOMEDAY. But please don't snub your nose at me (or anyone else) who hasn't done those things in a particular order based on your imaginary time schedule.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Instant Gratification

Okay, everyone ... I know I've been struggling in the blogging department. But today's post covers two important topics in my life right now and they both revolve around my need for instant gratification.

Hattan Home includes darling notes in all of your packages :)
1. Online Shopping. I have a serious problem. I want everything I see! And when I see something I want (most likely a gift for someone, as Christmas is 13 days away) ... I have to buy it.

I need to get better at online shopping. Don't get me wrong, I've found some pretty great deals. But, I should research more ... the Internet is a wide, vast, amazing place and I'll just bet that sometimes I could buy things cheaper if I just did some searching. What are you secrets for finding the best prices? Please share your knowledge!

In my defense, I pride myself on being a great gift giver ... and I won't divulge anyone's gifts here because I don't want to ruin the surprise. So maybe what I lack in savings, I make up for in awesomeness?

I don't know, but these are some of my favorite places to shop online right now.

2.  Snacks. Working at home, three steps from your kitchen is a dangerous thing.
Oh, you're thirsty? Go get some water. Oh, coffee! CAFFEINE, yes! Have some yogurt. Want something sweet? Pepsi, chocolate, apple, juice.
It's weird that you only eat the seeds of a pomegranate.
You get the point, anytime I get the inkling to eat or drink, I can just easily get it. I keep a pretty stocked kitchen (thanks for the tip, Mom), so I have a hard time telling myself no.

Luckily, lately I've found a pretty yummy and healthy substitute for my hefty chocolate craving - dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.

I found these in the snack aisle at Target (another dangerous store) and will be going back for more! The dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, and according to Wikipedia, pomegranates have Vitamin C, Vitamin K and a good amount of dietary fiber. Woo hoo! Healthy choice for Robin!

But, I still need to work on my control. Tell me friends, how do you control your snacking urges, even if you don't work at home like I do.

I hope you're all gearing up for the holidays. Also - stay warm this weekend! We're expecting 5+" of snow here ... ick!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Homemade Gifts

I love the holidays, that's no secret.

Check out my recent Facebook status -

But, like most of you, I am trying to be responsible with my spending. Somehow (aka every single time I set food in the store) Target always gets the best of me and I buy way too much.

One way I am trying to be responsible is to give more homemade gifts. But, let's get real here ... I am not very crafty. But I can handle a wooden spoon and oven with ease!

Last year, I made cookie trays, truffles and cranberry vodka for a few of our friends and family.

Instagram pic of last year's vodka gifts. To follow me, click here.

Some of the recipes I used for these aforementioned gifts include -
  1.  White Chocolate Toffee Crunch Cookies from The Little Kitchen.
  2. The Perfect Chewy Sugar Cookie from Catch My Party
  3. Easy Dark Chocolate Truffles from NaomiCakes
  4. Cranberry Lime Vodka from Fancy Napkin
White Chocolate Toffee Crunch Cookies. Photo courtesy of www.thelittlekitchen.net

This year I plan to add to my repertoire.

Beer Mustard ... yum! Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.
I'm thinking about these Salted Whiskey Caramels from So ... How Does it Taste?, Sweetie Pie Pops from Our Best Bites and maybe this Beer Mustard from Williams Sonoma. But these are just thoughts for now, until I get my gifts wrapped and Christmas cards sent out...

If you need even more options, check out my Pinterest boards Holiday Trimmings, Christmas Treats & nom.nom.nom.

Do you make homemade gifts? A friend of mine is making homemade vanilla extract - how cool?!

 Please share your ideas and/or recipes below!

Until next time,

Friday, November 29, 2013

Red Dirt Friday, Vol. 12

For anyone that follows me on Instagram, you may be aware of my love of Alabama, red dirt artists and cover songs.

Look for this album cover in stores or online!

I recently posted this picture, stating that "good music" is one of the 30 things I'm most thankful for ... and believe me, this version is awesome.

I've told you before about how I listen to the Red Dirt Rebel online, and one of the top songs for a few weeks was the Turnpike Troubadours version of "If You're Gonna Play in Texas." Love it.

Then, I happened to find the whole album - "High Cotton: Tribute to Alabama."

And my whole life changed.

Just kidding.

But seriously, go buy this album. Out of respect for Alabama, think about all they contributed to country music. (Dixieland Delight anyone?) Did I mention it's the band's 40th Anniversary? What a great way to honor them.

In a recent review, GAC blogger Daryl Addison said -

"The 14-track High Cotton is a thoughtful tribute project that allows its performers to reinvent a hit list of Alabama classics. By recreating these songs in a new and unique way, High Cotton successfully delivers a new artistic vision while showcasing the timeless and universal nature of Alabama’s enduring legacy."

What's your favorite cover or tribute album? Please share below.

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bucket List Update

It's been a while since I did a bucket list update. Here's what I have accomplished!

My view riding in the combine with my dad at one of our farms in Crown Point, IN
Domestic Things
1. Start a garden
2. Go 1 month without shopping (food and healthcare items excluded)
3. Craft with my old 4-H ribbons
4. Make chocolate oatmeal cake
5. Put all of my CDs onto my iTunes account

Career Things
6. Fix my rkkcommunications website
7. Book 5 human photo sessions (not family) - 4/5
8. Judge a show
9. Enter a photo contest - I entered the High Plains Jounal "Down Country Roads" contest this summer. Unfortunately, I didn't win any prizes.

Good Citizen Things
10.Help out a 4-H or FFA judging team
11. Get a library card

Family Things
12. Take Cougar to a dog park
13. Ride in the tractor with my Dad, just like 6 year old Robin did - see photo above.
14. Teach Cougar how to play dead
15. Introduce my family to Nick's - 8 of us ate at Fahrenheit 212 last Thursday. Nothing too embarrassing happened!

Traveling Things
16. See Stoney LaRue (carryover from my college list)
17. Go fishing
18. Visit Joe in Stillwater, Okla.
19. Return to Manhattan, Kan.
20. Go to a baseball game

Personal Things
21. Read 3 non-fiction books - Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville; Bossypants; Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child
22. Lose 20 lbs.
23. Buy a new laptop
24. Watch The Hatfields & McCoys

I had a nice weekend with my girlfriends in Manhattan, KS for the K-State homecoming game on Oct. 26th.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Online Reviews - Worth it?

At the concert!
I just wrote my first ever online review, and for some reason I feel empowered.

Just this weekend, I used online reviews three times in order to make buying decisions and travel plans.
  1. For booking our hotel room in Scottsburg, Ind.
  2. For our supper reservations at the 1875 Steakhouse in the French Lick Resort in French Lick, Ind.
  3. To help me decide where to go Christmas shopping on Sunday.
So, I figured it was about time to give my own two cents to the online community.

I wrote a review for the Dwight Yoakum concert the boy and I attended on Friday night at the French Lick Resort.

I bought him the tickets for his 26th birthday back in September, so we had been looking forward to this night for a while.

Approximately 26 rows of screaming women in front of us.
Ladies, let me tell you - Dwight Yoakum has got some moves ... I think. It was kinda hard to see from our seats, which I shared in my review.

It was worth every penny to see him in concert, but had I known that we would have been in chairs in a banquet hall, I probably would have ponied up for some seats closer to the stage.

In the review I wrote for Ticketmaster - I talked partially about the show (fabulous) and partially about the seats (not-so-fabulous).

What I want to do know is do you value online reviews? Do you seek them out when making purchasing decisions? 

I think I want to start reviewing more, because I read them almost religiously. Especially for purchases like camera parts, batteries and supper plans - obviously all very important to my life :)

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reagan + Aaron | Sneak Peek

This past weekend, I had the great honor of photographing my first wedding.

Congratulations to Aaron & Reagan (Woolley) Shaffer!

Luckily, I had beautiful subjects who were married in a lovely church (Brook United Methodist Church) and had a cool venue for the reception (Embers Venue).

The church had this awesome exposed brick in the upstairs part. Loved it with the combo of stained glass!

Loved this place - exposed brick & tin ceilings. So gorgeous!
 And here's just one of my favorites!

I promise to share more later ... but I will say editing wedding pictures is tedious! However, the end result is WAY worth it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Yes, I'm Thankful

I've seen your posts. I've read your blogs.

A pile of my friends, and my friends' friends, have been dogging on those of us who are posting our "30 Days of Thankfulness" during the month of November.

Let's get one thing straight - I love to say thank you. 

I want people to know that what they did for me was appreciated.
I want to make people feel special.
I have a great life, and there are things that happen everyday to remind me of that.

Found this on Pinterest today. What a great reminder!
So yes, you might think it's stupid. Yes, you might think that I'm just cashing in on a silly social media trend. But - I like to celebrate the little things in life. Sue me.

I love the holidays,
I love my job,
I love my boyfriend,
I love my dog,
I love good food,
I love my friends,
I love my family.

And you're darn straight I love this blog, among other gems in my life. 

I will never get tired of telling you that, so please don't view my "30 Days of Thankfulness" as a ploy for attention.

What are you thankful for today? Please feel free to share them below.

Until next time,

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cell Phones & Manners

For one of my jobs, I moderate a discussion board for Beck Ag called "Email, Texting & Tweeting ... Oh My!" on their social media platform, Beck Ag Connects.

According to their Beck Ag Connects, "This is a members-only, online community where Ag Professionals can connect with others in Agriculture like producers, veterinarians, consultants and retailers to share experiences, ideas and solutions to improve business results. If you're in Agriculture, come join the conversation!" It's actually a really neat tool, and a great way to learn from other ag professionals. To join, click here.

So I research technology things that professionals in the ag industry can find useful in their everyday lives. This includes services, software and apps - we even have a new app Friday.

Recently, I wrote a post about the need to "unplug." 

I told my readers that it's okay to leave their phones off every once in a while.

I told my readers there are 13 places you should never take your phone, according to this post. The 13 places include the bedroom, the gym, the dinner table, weddings and funerals, ceremonies, the bathroom, the car, concerts & shows, the boardroom, on vacation, with your kids, at a party or in a movie theater. * To clarify, most of these are places you should minimize use of your phone. Clearly, if there's an emergency, you'll need your phone in the car ... but that doesn't mean it's okay to Instagram at stop lights.  cough guilty cough (sorry Dad) *

Then it hit me ... I am addicted to my phone. In some cases, it is my only lifeline to the outside world, so I think it's justified ...

But then, I stopped mid-conversation with Homeboy at the supper table to answer a text. THAT IS NOT OKAY.

The people I choose to spend time with, deserve my full & undivided attention. The people who call me, typically can handle waiting a half hour for me to finish my meal before I call them back. Text messages don't need to be answered right away, my friends will understand. Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook can wait until the dishes are done.

I am having an epiphany right now. When did our cell phones become more important than actual conversation with the ones we love?

I don't mean to sound old fashioned, but I don't want these tangible things in my life to matter less than what's on social media. I am a slave to my phone and that is not okay.

That's it, no phones at the supper table. No Facebooking in bed. No more posting pictures of Cougar every hour of everyday on Instagram. (Okay, maybe a few a day will suffice.)


P.S. - Is this out of line? How do other Generation Y-ers feel about this? 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Fresh Start!

You may or may not have noticed, but my blog was not working for about the last month! I tried to reason with Wordpress and sort things out, but it was a fruitless endeavor.

Thus, I have moved my blog to Blogger, the Google account based platform, and am slowly rebuilding.

Some of my old posts look awful! But I promise to get them fixed.

With that being said, I am making an addition promise to you, my fine blog readers, as well.

I promise to start posting again!


Blogging is an important part of my life, and helps me share with my friends scattered across the country.

So, what's been happening you ask?

1. We went to MAINE! And it was beautiful and relaxing and we ate too much.

Snapped a picture of this little guy as we snuck into Acadia National Park (thanks government shutdown)!

I ate a LOT of lobster. This is a hot lobster roll that I had in Bar Harbor.

I'd never seen pine trees next to the ocean before, so beautiful ... especially in the fall!

2. I've been working. Taking pictures and designing and editing and and and ... it never seems to end.

This is Fresh Brew, a Miller buck who now lives at Lambright Club Lambs in Shipshewana, Ind.

3. Moving my blog over to Blogger was considerably easier than I thought it would be! Yay.

4. Now I'm back for good and you can't get rid of me :)

Until next time,

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Richey Cattle

I wanted to do a little plug for my friends at Richey Cattle.

Tom & Karen Richey sold us our first "big time" heifer, known as Karen. We purchased her in 2008, and she is out of the famous "Joey" cow at Richey's. Ironic, huh?

This is Karen and her calf this year, Mambo. She stamps all of her calves with a unique "look."
This is Karen and her calf this year, Mambo. She stamps all of her calves with a unique "look."

Tom & Karen and their sons, Wess & Shane have taught us a lot about cattle - showing, fitting, feeding too. They each have their own operations as well, R2 Cattle Co. & Richey Show Steers. Not to mention, their wives and Shane's daughter Dallas are awesome too!

This year, they have put together a great set of cattle selling on Saturday, Oct. 5th at 4pm EST in Plymouth, IN.

Check out this girl! -

She is cool! Monopoly x Widespread Panic/Shorthorn
She is cool! Monopoly x Widespread Panic/Shorthorn

I'm excited to head to Plymouth and walk through the rest of the cattle. Also, baby brother Joey will be coming home from Oklahoma State for the sale. Cue excitement!

If you would like more information about the sale or the calves, call Tom 574-780-6223 or Karen 574-780-6222.

We also bred one of our cows to their bull, BNWZ BBR X. Can't wait to see that one after it's born next Spring!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Best Photo I Ever Took

Being behind the camera is exciting. The tension is palpable. And sometimes, you just know when you got a good shot! But I always do my best to seem calm, cool and collected for my clients. Obviously.
Sometimes, it's not so easy.

Recently I was at Hayden Farms in Lowell, Ind. to picture a few calves.

I even got to snap this picture at Maine & Chi Jr. Nationals of the Hayden crew.
I even got to snap this picture at Maine & Chi Jr. Nationals of the Hayden crew.
The Haydens are this great, big, loving family. They travel in groups wherever they go, and I typically see them at cattle shows. [A great place to meet up with friends!] But, because we live so close, I run into them elsewhere as well.

Mike & Doug Hayden sold Joe and me no less than 5 calves throughout our 4-H careers. They taught us a lot about feeding and fitting and clipping. We might not have said it then, but I'll say it now - THANK YOU!

I've always looked up to them and admired them, because their cattle always look good and always do well. Oh, and they're nice people.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I snapped this picture at their place -


Then, before we could even get him posted on their website, somebody bought him. [Good for them! But minimizes my excitement level as no one got to see this picture...]

I'm headed back to Hayden's in the near future, and I can't wait to share more pictures and videos from their place either here or on the Focus blog.

If you're interested in getting livestock photos or videos taken, please don't hesitate to contact me via phone 219.306.0323 or email robin@gotfocus.co

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Roast

I haven't gone on a rant in a while. But that's it, I've had it.

It seems in agriculture, we tend to love to defend our profession. This is a good problem to have. But people, we're wearing. it. out.

I have seen no less than 25 different blog posts come across my Facebook news feed in the past week (not including repeats or shared posts) totally dogging on Chipotle for their "disgusting misrepresentation of modern agriculture" in the YouTube sensation "The Scarecrow." [Which I might add, now has nearly 6 million views ... a good number of which, I'll just bet are from disgruntled agriculturalists.]

I'm going to go on a limb here. Say what you want, but Chipotle makes a damn good burrito.

Burritos the size of my head. I'll eat every last bite.
Burritos the size of my head. I'll eat every last bite.

While I might disagree with their views on food production, I congratulate them for filling a niche and totally capitalizing on the growing phenomenon which is all-natural, locally sourced food.

Because I am such a fan of their food, I'm not going to stop eating there. [I'm not as strong as the rest of you apparently.]

But, with this rant comes a call to action. I dare you to reach out to someone other than your ag friends. Tell them why you don't support Chipotle (or Panera or whoever we're hating on this week.) All the hatred I see toward this one burrito store could be used so much more effectively if it were promoting positive agriculture. Sharing stories of what we do on our farms and ranches and how we are feeding the world. Instead of "blahblahblah" you suck, Chipotle.

We, as farmers and ranchers, are only 2% of the US population. So let's get real, are we going to be the ones to change Chipotle's views?

A friend of mine said this about the ad - "Looks like Chipotle went to the Adolf Hitler School for Propaganda." And you know what, she's right. But what about the ad agency that created "The Scarecrow"? Why is no one pissed off at them? Why is no one trying to change their minds?

I'm not calling anyone out or telling someone how to go about their business, but instead I'll say this.

You're preaching to the choir. You're beating a dead horse. WHATEVER. But stop pushing your negative views and bad words about delicious burritos to the ag crowd.

An angry fan of modern agriculture and tasty Mexican food

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How to Write a Thank You Note

You've heard me talk about thank you notes again and again. You may remember this post back in May.

Recently on Pinterest, I came across a list of "how to write a fool-proof thank you note"
Photo courtesy of WeddingsaBeautiful
Photo courtesy of WeddingsaBeautiful

While I think it's a great starting point, you should probably ask yourself few more questions while writing your note.

Is the card nice and appropriate? You don't want to use "wedding" stationary if you're thanking someone for allowing you stay in their home. So if you're not getting married, you might want to avoid white and silver bells on the front of the card. Oh! And if you're not an animal lover, stay away from cute kitties and puppies. Boys - they do make "masculine" thank you notes as well ... just dig a little deeper in the card aisle.
This is a fine example from The Stationary Studio
This is a fine example from The Stationary Studio
Is it personal? Generic is bad when it comes to thank you notes. "Thank you for the gift. It looks really nice" just sucks when you're on the receiving end of the card. Tell me how you're going to use it, and what your favorite part of the event was where we saw each other.

Did you spell everything correctly? They make this thing called whiteout and I use it a lot. Poor grammar and spelling will be caught if you send me a letter. I won't say anything, but I might silently judge you.

Finally, how does the envelope look? Appearance matters. If you spill coffee on the envelope or smudge the ink while writing the address, find a new envelope or at least put a label over it. I understand that mailboxes or USPS carriers cars and bags aren't the cleanest ... but that's unavoidable. Pull your letters together like you would yourself before leaving your house. No mascara running down your face or toothpaste stains right?

Just a few friendly tips from a letter writing fiend!

What other advice do you have?

Until next time,

Saturday, September 7, 2013

3 Reasons

I have been neglecting my blog. It's no secret.

I can't say I'm sorry enough.

But, I have some really good reasons.

1. I've been taking pictures like this in Iowa at Herum Show Cattle, Putz Cattle and Loecke & Holtz.

This guy is Tag 13 at the Spring Branch Round-Up Pasture Bid-Off Sale in Manchester, IA.
This guy is Tag 13 at the Spring Branch Round-Up Pasture Bid-Off Sale in Manchester, IA.

2. Not only have I been taking pictures, I've also been editing videos. LOTS OF VIDEOS. Check out these females at Waukaru in Rensselaer, Ind.

3. I got really, really sunburnt doing all of the above. Thus making me sleepy.

But, I hope to get back to my normal posting schedule.

Thanks for still loving me.

What have I missed since I've been gone?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

College: What to Expect

I wish someone had given me a list when I started at Kansas State University 5 years ago. Now that I've graduated, I've had some time to reflect on my experience. I can't help but think the process would have been easier if I had list filled with things to expect, the things to avoid and the things to look forward to ...
I started thinking about this topic after seeing about a million posts on social media about #firstdayofcollege, #backtoschool, etc. Then someone shared this fabulous post from More Love Letters, entitled "A Love Letter to College Freshmen"
One quote in particular stuck out to me -
"It’ll be the best four years of your life… that’s what they’re telling you, right? That—if done right—these next four years will sculpt you & change you & make you ready for the real world. Truth told: this is the real world. It’s yours. Stop thinking otherwise. Don’t let a moment more slip away."
photo courtesy of www.moreloveletters.com
photo courtesy of www.moreloveletters.com

Here's that list I always wanted -

What to Expect
1. COLLEGE IS HARD. A's are not going to come naturally, so put in the time and effort now (not 2 days before the final).
2. Dorm food isn't all that good. Learn to eat cereal for supper (or any meal really), and take advantage of anything fresh (fruit, salad, carrots & celery) ... those dorm cafeterias love the ultra-processed foods. If you grew up like me, your stomach is not prepared for eating this everyday.
3. Carry your student ID with you everywhere. You will get locked out of the dorms. You will forget your student ID number when you have to put it on your tests. You will need it to do silly things on campus (printing, picking up transcripts, etc.)
4. People that want to remain friends will work at it, even if you're 500 miles away. Remember that friendships will come and go. Your "friends" from home will forget about you (until the want something); but the friendships you make in college will (sometimes) trump. Think about it, you are making it through these difficult years together!

The trip where I discovered "ranchy boys" weren't for me (2008).
The trip where I discovered "ranchy boys" weren't for me (2008).

What to Avoid
1. Over spending. My mom will tell you that I was god-awful at managing my finances. Just because you go to college with $XXX in your checking account, doesn't mean you need to spend it. DON'T BE LIKE ME.
2. Wasting time on pointless relationships. I made friends with someone because we were from the same state, and thought that made us "automatic friends" and rested on that for almost two years. Just because people pretend to have similar interests & goals, doesn't mean they will in a few months.
3. Eating out 4x week. Just because "everyone else" is doing it, doesn't mean you have to. It's okay to eat a meal by yourself and it's okay to say no every once in a while.
4. Never leaving school. Go home with your friends, or take them home with you. You learn so much about yourself, the way you grew up and other people when you go spend a weekend with their family! You may call your mom and thank her for teaching you to pick up after yourself, and you may learn that "ranchy boys" aren't for you. Trust me, get out and explore!
5. Getting over involved. Make sure you are involved in something outside of class - intramural sports, clubs, judging teams ... SOMETHING. But don't be like me and join (almost literally 382901 things) ... you will be stressed and your grades, friendships and roommates will suffer.

Things to Look Forward To

My fellow Forrest Bassford Travel Award winners and me in Albuquerque August 2012.
My fellow Forrest Bassford Travel Award winners and me in Albuquerque August 2012.
1. Accomplishing your dreams. Set goals for yourself and don't stop until you reach them. I wanted to win the Forrest Bassford Award. I applied 3 times before being awarded a travel award, and never won the big kahuna. But it was a long-shot goal that I made happen, and I'll always treasure the memories that lead me there.
2. The traditions that make up your university. At K-State, everyone wears purple. I LOVE PURPLE & ALWAYS WILL! Go to sporting events, go to lectures and go get free stuff at the union. Don't spend your 4+ years holed up in your room, go get that "experience" of just being in college and making your own decisions.

Graduation day was one of my happiest - ever (Dec. 2012).
Graduation day was one of my happiest - ever (Dec. 2012).
3. Graduation. For me, nine semesters of long hours in the computer lab, library, class, in the judging van and more were worth it when I walked across the stage. Being asked to give a speech on that special day was special; giving advice to my peers with the help of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex & The City made them laugh and me nearly cry.

So fellow college grads, what would you add to this list?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Red Dirt Friday, Vol. 11

I haven't been ignoring Red Dirt Friday, I just want to post quality content for your reading pleasure.

I came across this article from the Dallas Observer in a while ago, but found it to be a pretty worthwhile read.

The Ten Best Texas Country Songs from 2013 (So Far) has proved to be a pretty good list! I even loved this quote from the opening paragraph,

"We've made no bones about the fact we're not completely sure what an artist or a song has to be or consist of in order to be lumped under the massive "Texas Country" umbrella, aside from simply having some sort of connection to the Lone Star State -- even if sometimes it's a loose one. To be certain, most people will have an equally tough time defining the musical makeup of "Red Dirt" or even "Americana," which has become a legit, nationally recognized genre, without possessing any singular, identifiable sonic traits."

Jason Boland (Photo courtesy of http://www.thestragglers.com/)
Jason Boland (Photo courtesy of http://www.thestragglers.com/)
But, the list mentions a few of my favorites - Jason Boland & the Stragglers (7) and William Clark Green (8). Check out the video for William Clark Green's "She Likes the Beatles" here. [Warning ... it's terribly catchy!]

I even discovered Zane Williams from this list, and his tune "Overnight Success" is funny and even rips on pop culture a bit! Check out this article about his songwriting history also from the Dallas Observer. I am slowly listening to the other featured artists in the article as well.

Of course I agree with the author, Kelly Dearmore, and the #1 song of 2013 ... Randy Rogers Band "Trouble Knows My Name" featuring the legend, Willie Nelson. [Remember this post about him?]As she says, "the downright Texan feel of this romping Willie Nelson collaboration is too good to put anything before it."

Sometimes I want to be a Texan...

What's your favorite song of 2013 so far??

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Review - Bossypants

As I have mentioned before, I'm trying to add the non-fiction genre into my reading. This is part of my "bucket list," and I'm slowly checking things off! (This weirdly excites me.)
My latest non-fiction read is Tina Fey's autobiography - "Bossypants."
Now I'm not a huge comedy follower, nor do I watch Saturday Night Live or 30 Rock. But I've always admired Fey's "I-don't-give-a-shit" attitude, and knew that she wrote "Mean Girls." [A movie I've seen more than a few times and was used in nearly every leadership class I took in college ... coincidence, I think not.]
Enter "Bossypants."

Turns out, I really enjoy Fey's humor. On more than one occasion while reading her book, I laughed out loud ... to Boyfriend's amusement.
Remember that "I-don't-give-a-shit" attitude I talked about? Try this one for size -
“If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: who cares?”
Not to mention her great life advice ... something I wasn't expecting to get out of the book.
“Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”
In short, I really recommend "Bossypants." It was a quick read that now even two weeks later, I'm still laughing out loud about. (And Boyfriend is still rolling his eyes.)
Have you read anything exciting/noteworthy lately? I'm always searching for a good read [laughing out loud not required.]

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Are Words Enough?

My Aunt Julie passed away this week. We are headed to St. Louis for the funeral tomorrow. When I think of her I think about her big smile, big heart and big laugh - all great qualities.
Paul & Julie were married in 1990. Here I am with my mom at the reception. (I forgot to say how beautiful Julie was, inside and out. This picture doesn't do her justice, but does display her signature "big hair".)[/caption]
Since I got the news, I cannot think of the right words to say to my uncle and my cousins. I'm not sure that I can convey all of my feelings in a fashion that makes any sense. If I were in their shoes, I would be a hot mess. Even now as I'm typing this, I'm a hot mess.
In my opinion, my cousins Corbin and Elaina are very similar to my brother and me. They too are four years apart, have similar interests and seem to get along really well. They are both hipster-types (sorry for incorrectly categorizing), who are into punk-ish music and unfortunately nearly everything I know about them comes from Facebook. But like I said on Facebook - I think they're the cat's meow.
Because I see so many similarities between Corbin/Elaina and Joe/me, I am stressing over saying the right thing. I hope that whatever words I do say tomorrow are comforting and somewhat intelligent.
Corbin is a public relations student at UNC-Charlotte, and is quietly witty. He is a phenomenal writer; I read his blogs and stories and other posts diligently. (Sorry if that's creepy??) While some of his work is above my head, I admire his writing. After his mom died, he wrote this wonderful blog about her and how she'll fit in wonderfully in heaven.
In the blog, Corbin says - "Despite being insecure about never graduating from college and lacking confidence in her “smartness” — a trait that’s grossly overrated — Mom spent her time comforting the scared, depressed and worried. Julie Kofron Peters truly gave more more than she took.

She’ll never get to hold her grandchildren or watch Elaina and I walk down the aisle. And she won’t get to enjoy retirement with Dad or sip the glass of wine in Tuscany she always wanted. But she can leave the Earth knowing she paid some of the “smartest” people she encountered a lesson in the most valuable human trait: empathy."

Corbin, Elaina & Paul are so strong, and the stories and memories of my aunt are truly heartwarming. Aunt Julie was as open, welcoming and loving as everyone says; I am lucky to have known her.
Truthfully, I can't compete with words as powerful as those above, and I would never want to. When I get to St. Louis tomorrow, I'm going to hug the people that matter to me ... my family. I think that might be more important than the probably teary words I'll say.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pork Roast Leftovers

Cooking for two is quite the conundrum. Basically any recipe yields 4 or more servings, thus forcing us to eat leftovers for every lunch and sometimes breakfast. Now I don't mind some leftovers, but every once in a while ... I just want to eat a fresh meal. Sue me.
A while back I made a huge pork roast, which boyfriend and I used to have carnitas. YUM! (Un)fortunately we had about 4 lbs. of meat left.
That's still about two meals worth of pork.
So, being the resourceful individual that I am, I decided to use these leftovers (which were frozen), to make pork burritos. Also YUM!
I loosely followed this recipe from Parr for the Course, but made a few adjustments of my own ... partially because I was starting with leftovers.
Here's MY recipe -
3 T. Butter
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb. pork meat, chopped or pulled
1/2 c. frozen onions & peppers
1 t. dried oregano
2 T. flour
3/4 c. sour cream
1 can (10 oz.) green enchilada sauce
2 t. cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
6 flour tortillas, warmed
2 c. shredded cheese (I used colby-jack and mozzarella)

The best ingredient for any dish.
First, melt the butter in a skillet on medium-high. You'll also want to preheat the oven to 350 degrees at this point.
Next add the garlic and let it sweat for about a minute, do not let it burn. You will kick yourself, really hard!
Then add the meat and let it warm in the pan. Measure out your veggies and give them a rough chop to disguise them from your unsuspecting boyfriend. Toss them in with the meat, give it a stir and when boyfriend asks what that "green thing" is ... say it's part of the sauce and smile like a fool. I hope he still loves me.
For a bit of flavor, add frozen onions & peppers. This Bird's Eye brand is pretty good.
Then add the oregano and sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture. Stir to combine, you'll notice the "saucy" part or the meat mixture starting to thicken.
Next up, add God's gift to condiments - sour cream. I did a rough measure out of the container, but don't be like me and actually measure it.
Then, you'll want to add about half the can of enchilada sauce. This will add a delicious flavor to the meat and make it even better once it's rolled in a tortilla.
What you DON'T want to do is get in a fight with the can opener like I did. This is the one kitchen appliance I can't seem to master. I embarrass myself.
Next add the cilantro, salt & pepper; stir and turn off the heat. It's time to build your burritos! Do a little dance of joy now.
The aforementioned delicious mixture.
To assemble the burritos, place about 2/3 c. of meat mixture in the center of the tortilla and top with about 3 T. of shredded cheese. Fold in the sides and roll the burrito and place in a greased baking dish.
Top the assembled burritos with the remaining enchilada sauce and copious amount of cheese! YUM. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
If you're feeling wild (like we were) make some homemade Mexican Rice too. Find the recipe here.
Your finished meal should look something like this.
YUM. You'll notice the copious amount of sour cream on my plate.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

9 Steps to Being Attractive

I stumbled across this image on Pinterest and I had to share. It rings true on so many levels for me.
Image courtesy of holyprepster on Tumblr.
My parents always taught me to be nice. I suppose that I would even call myself "nice" if I had to pick an adjective to describe myself (among other words - like outgoing, fun, genuine). Attractive isn't exactly the first word that comes to mind, but I certainly am not walking around with a bag over my head. In addition to being "nice" I would call myself a people person. I love people ... I love learning about them, hearing their stories and getting to know them. I try to be kind, open and forthcoming.
I too, like holyprepster first try to smile when first meeting someone. Or even someone on the street with whom I make eye contact. I've even starting waving at everyone I pass while driving (for those of you familiar with Rensselaer, Ind., this is easy as it's not very many people)!
Smelling nice seems like a given ... nothing worse than too strong of perfume or cologne or WORSE ... B.O.
I want people's respect more than anything, so I don't enjoy being too flashy with my dress. You'll rarely find me in something that's not loose fitting and/or starched (the gym shorts I wear at home don't count). The days of wearing tiny tiny shorts and ripped up jeans are over and I wish the rest of my generation would take note.
#4 is something I need to be more conscious of ... because of my job, most of my information comes from Twitter and Facebook. But, I follow USAToday, and I must say - that's helped me a lot. I do usually have an opinion, but I'm not one to be ignorant with them and post them all across social media (another topic for another day).
I try my best to see the good in people ... positivity is my number one strength as you may recall. So I try not to "hate on" people, and certainly not publicly ... but it happens to the best of us. This is something else I need work on.
3 hobbies don't include a screen - reading, shopping, looking at cattle. BOOM.
Educated. KSU. Common fact. Plus, I love learning and am currently watching online tutorials to help me get better at my job.
Being a good friend is something I try REALLY HARD at. I send cards, little gifts and thoughtful texts/calls. I don't do this for the recognition, but instead to make my friends realize I am here for them ... even if we live 500+ miles apart. I like to make people feel special, including my 92 year old grandpa and my Great Aunt Mary who lives in Florida (we're pen pals).
Thank you is so important, and a simple thank you can make or break my day. I try to say thank you to anyone that helps me, and hopefully return the favor one day.
Here's how I'm living by the 9 Steps to Being Attractive. If you make any sort of effort on this list, I'm certain we can be friends too. So tell me, how are you doing?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Revisiting My Bucket List

Back to blogging! Sorry for the brief vacation everyone - life has suddenly gotten busy!!

Today I want to visit about my bucket list. I've been doing my best to continue to update you on my progress.

24 Things I Want to do Before I turn 24

Domestic Things
1. Start a garden
2. Go 1 month without shopping (food and healthcare items excluded)
3. Craft with my old 4-H ribbons
4. Make chocolate oatmeal cake - Read more here.
5. Put all of my CDs onto my iTunes account

Turns out I can't really grow herbs. My parsley, cilantro and basil aren't faring too well under my care.
But luckily, my sunflowers are thriving!
Career Things
6. Fix my rkkcommunications website
7. Book 5 human photo sessions (not family)
8. Judge a show
9. Enter a photo contest

Good Citizen Things
10.Help out a 4-H or FFA judging team
11. Get a library card

Family Things
12. Take Cougar to a dog park
13. Ride in the tractor with my Dad, just like 6 year old Robin did
14. Teach Cougar how to play dead
15. Introduce my family to Nick’s

Traveling Things
16. See Stoney LaRue (carryover from my college list)
17. Go fishing
18. Visit Joe in Stillwater, Okla.
19. Return to Manhattan, Kan.
20. Go to a baseball game

Personal Things
21. Read 3 non-fiction books (1/3) - Click here to see which one.
22. Lose 20 lbs.
23. Buy a new laptop - also DONE! Click here to see the big purchase.
24. Watch The Hatfields & McCoys

That makes a grand tally of 1/4 of my list either started or completed!! I am looking for suggestions of other non-fiction books to read so I can cross that one off completely.

Thanks for visiting my blog.