Monday, April 29, 2013

Indy Mutt Strut

On Saturday, my mom (Kiki as I commonly refer to her), Cougar and I  went to the Indianapolis Speedway for the 2013 Mutt Strut, an event benefiting the Indianapolis Humane Society.


We didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into, other than we were excited to be outside, walking around the 2.5 mile track. It was a gorgeous 65-degree day, with just the right amount of sunshine.

[caption id="attachment_291" align="alignleft" width="300"]DSC00206 Here's Cougar and I on the famous track. She got a little camera shy.[/caption]

This event was huge! There was thousands of dogs. I even saw someone pulling a wagon with a cat in a crate, and other people carrying their dogs around the track! These people are serious about their pets. Don't get me wrong, I love Cougar, but I don't think I could ever be that person. Possibly because she weighs nearly 50 pounds now...

We did a lot of dog and people watching. Think airport people watching that is pet friendly. Highly enjoyable! We did some "window shopping" as well. I think Kiki needs a dog so Cougar has a playmate ... perhaps a Westie? Jim is not nearly as excited about our plans ... Shucks.

[caption id="attachment_292" align="aligncenter" width="640"]DSC00203 Cougar had to give Kiki doggie kisses![/caption]

The walk itself was really nice. You could go as fast or as slow as you wanted. They even had wading pools and community water bowls for the dogs to cool off. Throughout the track they had veterinarians on site to care for anything the animals needed, including wrapping their paws if they got cut on the rough asphalt. It took us about an hour and a half to get all the way around ... mostly because Cougar is such a ham and had to visit with each person we met!

One lady even called Cougar "The cutest dog of the whole event!" We agree!

Watch this informational video from the people who put on the event. I was happy to hear in the video that the money raised all goes to the Humane Society's efforts to care for over 3,000 animals/year. Listen at the end, where the coordinator of the event says that they don't receive any funding from national sources like HSUS or ASPCA.

[caption id="attachment_288" align="alignright" width="300"]Cougar was worn out from the day's events! Cougar was worn out from the day's events![/caption]

Without getting too political, this means a lot to me - I am well aware of all the hoodwinking the HSUS does. But, I was happy to make a donation directly to the Indianapolis Humane Society. I know how expensive it is to care for a pet, and they are doing great things for their community.

How have you given back lately?




Thursday, April 25, 2013

Celebrities & Beef

I have two reasons to be excited about the good news surrounding beef these days!

  1. Celebrity chefs promoting our product

  2. Garrett Hedlund, the Friday Night Lights star, is the new voice of The Beef Checkoff!

This is exciting, because The Food Network and Friday Night Lights are two of my guilty television pleasures. I can't stop watching Chopped and Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives or whatever else they've got on! (How could I forget The Pioneer Woman or Trisha Yearwood? Geez, Robin!)

[caption id="attachment_282" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 11.39.11 AM Emily Ellyn is known for her "retro style," and frankly, I dig it![/caption]

But okay, let's get to the point - The Georgia Beef Board is doing something super cool this month promoting beef. They're doing a Retro Rad Georgia Tour de Beef, with Emily Ellyn, Food Network chef and competitor on "The Next Food Network Star." The tour is happening now, but the full write-up will be in the June issue of the Georgia Cattlemen magazine. This will help celebrate Georgia Beef Month. Ellyn is visiting four Georgia towns, Macon, Savannah, Athens and Augusta and eating at iconic local restaurants. These diners have been declared local winners in several "Best Burger" contests. The goal is to promote the healthy aspects of beef, as well as its' tastiness and good looks!

So this event really appeals to almost all of my interests - food, Food Network and cattle! To make this even better, Ellyn even met with some of the local cattlemen who provide the beef to the restaurants. For more info, visit the Georgia Beef Blog.

[caption id="attachment_283" align="alignright" width="224"]Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 11.55.58 AM Photo courtesy of IMDb. Boy, he's dreamy.[/caption]

My second piece of super awesome information is that Garrett Hedlund will be the new voice of the "Beef. It's What's for Dinner." commercials! (For the full article from Drovers, click here.) I have had a giant celebrity crush on Garrett since he was in  Friday Night Lights in 2004. Then, I fell in love with him (again) in Country Strong in 2011. (I am lame.) 

What's even cooler is that he was raised on cattle operation in Minnesota! The big wigs at The Beef Checkoff chose Hedlund because of his appeal to the older Gen-Xers (ages 25-44) and want to promote the health benefits of beef. Well, big wigs - I support your decision. I promise to keep eating beef. (As if I was ever going to stop.)

Do you have any celebrity crushes? Does their promotions make you buy that product? I promise I'm not usually that girl... But with beef, it's just another incentive!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Post Graduation Reflection

Today we're going down memory lane. A long, long time ago the "Notes" feature on Facebook used to be popular. I had forgotten about this little gem, until Facebook did a slight redesign and now my "Notes" are posted on the side of my profile.

Not too long ago, my friend Chelsey asked if I had completed the "10 Things I Must Do Before I Graduate." I wrote this in March of 2010 ... lots of things have happened since then! I had to step back and really think about it! So here's my re-cap.

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 9.06.07 AM

[caption id="attachment_276" align="alignleft" width="300"]30291_1349633298647_1806063_n I loved Calf Fry in Stillwater, OK. It's actually this weekend, and I wish I were going back![/caption]

1. I never learned how to ride a horse. But Homeboy promises to teach me soon, and has even been shopping for a horse of his own. (I asked for a cute one.)

2. Miranda Lambert and Cross Canadian Ragweed I can check off, I saw them both at Calf Fry in 2010. The very concert that CCR announced they were going to work on solo projects, after Cody Canada got hit in the face with a beer bottle. I WILL SEE STONEY! (Even if it's the last thing I do!) Let's just say I am determined.

3. Never went floating. But I would like to partake in this activity someday...hint, hint.

4. No one ever kissed me at the Top of the World. I'll have to talk to Homeboy about this one...

[caption id="attachment_277" align="alignright" width="300"]Joe's 2nd favorite cow, Peach. Joe's 2nd favorite cow, Peach.[/caption]

5. I didn't witness Joe's *first* Grand Champion, but I did see a few other memorable shows. Seeing the pride in his and my mom's face was priceless. I can only wish to care that much about my children one day.

6. AI School - Check! April 2012! Boom.

7. Grizzley's - no! Wah. Closed before I could have some of this famous pie...

8. I have yet to cook a turkey, but I have cooked a pretty dang big chicken! Nearly the same thing, right?

9. Drinking at every bar in Aggieville - If I haven't done this, I've got to be pretty gosh darn close! I'm game for trying again?

[caption id="attachment_278" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Celebrating my 22nd birthday at Rusty's Next Door, our old go-to bar. Celebrating my 22nd birthday at Rusty's Next Door, our old go-to bar.[/caption]

10. Two-stepping is something that requires rhythm. I don't have rhythm or very good balance, but I do my best to keep up. I can't be good at everything, okay?

As you can tell, my college years are done. But I think I need to make a new list of things to accomplish. Look for this next week!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Food: What You Need To Know

I am a real freak. I love going to the grocery store. (I'm sure many of you are shaking your head in disgust...) But I love grocery shopping, buying food and putting together tasty concoctions for Homeboy and me to try out.

Earlier today, I went to Target - only my favorite store on this side of the sun! Not where I always buy groceries, but I do really like their products. Plus their house brands Up & Up and Archer Farms are awesome! See how much I like their coupons here.

What you might not know about me is that I'm a people watcher, and boy are there all kinds of kinds in the grocery store - the confused macho male, the lazy stay-at-home mom still in her slippers, the crazy couponer AND the ultra-label reader. (For the record, the last is my least favorite.)

As a farmer's daughter, a College of Agriculture graduate and a person who is always looking for a good price --- these people both confuse and annoy me. I don't believe in the organic or all-natural spiel. I'd rather buy what I want, and not have to pay more for something just because it is "locally grown." I know it's not logical or economical to raise oranges without pesticides in Indiana. (Yes, that was a ridiculous example - sorry.)

My grocery shopping extravaganza and this article "Six Things Moms Get Wrong at the Grocery Store," from Dairy Herd Network, really got my wheels turning for my blog post today.

The author, Angela Bowman, shares results from a recent survey of mothers. These misconceptions are:

  1. It's okay to pay more for "hormone free" pork and chicken. The truth is, the USDA

    [caption id="attachment_269" align="alignright" width="300"]I took this hog photo when I interned for the American Royal in 2011. I took this hog photo when I interned for the American Royal in 2011.[/caption]

    already outlaws that, so there's no need to pay more for products advertised that way.

  2. "All Natural" means it's healthier. Sorry, but that's not the case - it only means that the processing methods are all natural.

  3. Family farms are dying. I can personally attest here. That one's just not true, about 97% of farms are family owned - like Bob Kleine Farms, Inc. (Hey Dad!)

  4. Organic farm practices include no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Not the case. Nor are they any better than conventionally raised foods. Bowman uses these stats, "American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) points that 'current evidence does not support any meaningful nutritional benefits or deficits from eating organic compared with conventionally grown foods, and there are not well-powered human studies that directly demonstrate health benefits or disease protection as a result of consuming an organic diet.'”

  5. GMO (genetically modified organism) Food is chemically and nutritionally different than conventionally raised foods. I've been following this issue pretty closely, mostly because I don't understand why you wouldn't want to be able to produce more food to feed the world's growing population. Read my friend Crystal Cattle's input, and if you have a few minutes read this lengthy post from Fourat's Random Rationality blog. I loved Fourat's words, and this really stuck out to me -  "Whatever is the case, we need to realize that feeding 7 billion, let alone 9 to 10 billion people in the near future, isn’t going to be easy. If it fits on a Facebook photo as a caption, you can rest assured it will solve nothing. This post is 4,600 words long and is barely scratching the surface. Some silly shared photo on Facebook demonizing Monsanto or chemical use not only shows you things out of context, they detract from the conversations we should be having."

  6. Local is always better. Sometimes, it's just not. (Like my ridiculous growing oranges in

    [caption id="attachment_268" align="alignleft" width="199"]My brother Joe and one of his heifers, Weezy. We love our animals so much, we take pictures with them! My brother Joe and one of his heifers, Weezy. We love our animals so much, we take pictures with them![/caption]

    Indiana reference earlier.) But sometimes it just takes more energy (of the non-renewable variety) to grow them locally than it does to grow them across the country. Okay, I'll admit I didn't know this ... but does make sense!

I know that was long, and somewhat opinionated. But, I stand by the farmer's mantra - If I wouldn't feed it to my family, I wouldn't sell it to the world. On our farm, we gladly eat what we grow.

What did you take away from the article in Dairy Herd Network? Did you have some of the same misconceptions?

Until next time,



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Working Cows

In high school, this was a pretty general term you'd hear me say. "Sorry guys, I can't go do _______ (insert activity here), I have to work cows." Sometimes I was mad about it, but I had responsibilities and these responsibilities made me a better person. I know this now.

This morning, Nick and I had to work cows. We've had this scheduled for a few weeks, and I was actually excited about it! I don't get as much hands-on time with our bovines as I would like.

[caption id="attachment_261" align="aligncenter" width="640"]2013-04-16 07.26.53 The ladies eating their morning grain before they are run through the chute.[/caption]

So, what we did this morning. We have six cows we want to breed to have early February 2014 calves. But, these things have to be well-planned and well-executed. So, like any good planner would do, we decided to sync our cows' estrus in order be able to breed them all (roughly) on the same day.

[caption id="attachment_262" align="alignleft" width="300"]2013-04-16 07.49.13 A few of the ladies waiting patiently for their turn.[/caption]

So today, we inserted CIDRs. A CIDR (Controlled Internal Drug Release) is a progesterone intravaginal insert used to keep progesterone levels high in the animal. This increased level of progesterone will prevent any cow or heifer from coming into heat (estrus). [Information came from the University of Wisconsin, view the source.] We also gave each of the cows a shot of Cystorelin or GnRH. This regresses a follicle (or the corpus luteum for those of you in-the-know) the cow may be working up. These corpora lutea eventually are released from the ovaries to become the egg that will be fertilized by the sperm. If that makes sense.

[caption id="attachment_263" align="alignright" width="225"]2013-04-16 08.23.22 Nick moving some of the cows around.[/caption]

So in a week's time, we will remove these CIDRs. Then we will give each of the cows a shot of Lutalyse. Lutalyse is similar to the hormone PGF2alpha, which relaxes the smooth muscle, allowing estradiol (or estrogen) to take over for the cow to come into estrus. So when we give this Lutalyse, the cows will be ready to breed in 48 to 72 hours.

We will breed them via artificial insemination (AI), with the help of our local veterinarian. We have already selected the "daddy" of our future calves, and their semen is waiting patiently in our semen tank full of liquid nitrogen.

Now to some of you, I'm sure this is foreign. But I promise I tried to explain that well. But if you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

To our cows, this is a perfectly normal procedure, and shortly after these photos were taken, they got to return to the pasture to lay with and protect their calves born in February.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

An Old Favorite

The year is 1999. I have newly outgrown my "green phase" of my life, where I only wore green ... seriously. I have accepted the fact that I am a girl. (All boy cousins = tomboy attitude for the first 8 years of Robin's life.) But, now as a 3rd grader, I am ready to take the Lake County, Indiana 4-H world by storm!

That's exactly what I did! Ha. (Self-confidence has never really been an issue for me, can you tell?) But, I did win the Champion Level A in the Foods project, and then went on to win a blue ribbon at the great Indiana State Fair. Yeah ... those were the days!


But, back to reality here. I'm positing my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. AND - after Tuesday's rant, you might be surprised to learn that this recipe came from Nestle Toll House, not Pinterest. So, it was this recipe that won me my first trophy from the Lake County Fair, only I added butterscotch chips as well. I won't lie, this recipe is right off the package of chocolate chips. Sue me.

Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
For a printable version, click here.

[caption id="attachment_231" align="alignright" width="300"]IMG_8461 Only a few simple ingredients.[/caption]

2 ¼ c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ c. granulated sugar
¾ c. packed brown sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 c. (12 oz. pkg.) Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 ° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

[caption id="attachment_234" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_8464 Easy peasy.[/caption]

Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy.

[caption id="attachment_237" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_8467 The sweetest part![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_239" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_8469 The hand mixer makes this so much easier! Believe it or not, I did ALL of my Christmas baking without one. Then Nick's sweet mom totally outfitted our kitchen with gadgets (mixer, blender, crockpot!). Thanks Mrs. Fleming![/caption]

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

[caption id="attachment_241" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_8471 Pre-chocolate chips.[/caption]

Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using).

[caption id="attachment_242" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_8472 This is the real arm workout![/caption]

If making traditional cookies –

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 5 dozen cookies.

If making pan cookies (as shown) –

Line a 15x10 inch jellyroll pan with foil. Grease with cooking spray.

[caption id="attachment_233" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_8463 Probably pretty self-explanatory.[/caption]

Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan.

[caption id="attachment_243" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_8473 Surprisingly harder than it looks! I ended up using a knife, this rubber scraper wasn't cutting it...[/caption]

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

[caption id="attachment_256" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_8486 Imagine me (im)patiently waiting for these to cool...[/caption]

Make your mom proud and do your dishes while you're waiting.

[caption id="attachment_253" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_8483 ...yes Mom![/caption]

I think these will go well with our shredded beef sandwiches we're having for supper.

[caption id="attachment_247" align="aligncenter" width="640"]IMG_8477 Note that the rump roast is already cooking nicely in our crockpot![/caption]

What are you having for supper? Would my cookies compliment that meal as well?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Airing my Grievances

Friends, I am not usually one to air my dirty laundry. That's not my style, nor has it ever been. But, please please please stop posting recipes on Facebook. (You know how you are, those of you looking away in shame...)

Screen shot 2013-04-09 at 3.33.00 PMThe posts look something like this (along with a semi-enticing photo attached), and frankly they're clogging up my newsfeed. I think the fact that I am a social media manager and look at Facebook ALL DAY is why I dislike these posts so much.

I want to introduce you to the best thing since sliced bread or perhaps Google. That thing is Pinterest. Pinterest is the coolest thing! Here is a link to my account, be sure to follow my boards!

Here are my reasons why Pinterest is better for recipe collecting than Facebook ...

  1. You can create boards for each of your interests, not just cooking. So for example, I have a "nom.nom.nom." board for recipes, a "crafts...leaving comfort zone now" board for crafts I think I could attempt and "Bloggy Blog Blog" board for inspiration for this blog - along with 15 others!

  2. You can't pin directly from Facebook. So lets say one of you post something that's delicious, but I want to pin the recipe? Unless you include a link and the source of this recipe, I'll have to resort to *tsktsk* using a pen and paper to copy it down, or that pesky copy/paste into Word bit.

  3. When you use Pinterest, it's way easier to find the source for a recipe. This is important for other bloggers like me, who like to give credit to those who gave them an idea. If I were to blog about a recipe I saw on Facebook but only knew that Sally Someone shared it, how could I give credit where credit is due? I would like to give kudos to those who actually create these delicious recipes...

  4. For those of us that like categorizing things, Pinterest is awesome! Here I have a fine collection of easily attainable recipes for Homeboy and me to enjoy on a nightly basis.

    [caption id="attachment_225" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Screen shot 2013-04-09 at 3.48.09 PM Look how delicious those look! I have a fine collection of recipes here, and the teriyaki spare ribs are actually in the crockpot now for us to have for supper.[/caption]

  5. While many of you are sharing these recipes with your Facebook friends, on Pinterest your reach could be much greater. And directed more to people who actually care. Those who use Pinterest are routinely looking for recipes, crafting ideas, wedding thoughts and other information. So just remember that your husband's fraternity brothers and your 10-year-old niece won't care about the sour cream enchiladas you shared with your Facebook friends. And neither will I.

Sorry for the grievance airing, but if you saw 45 posts about the latest breakfast casserole in your news feed like I did, you'd understand. So remember folks, lets use Facebook for it's intended purpose ... creeping. (Or business/keeping up with friends and family like some of us do.)



Friday, April 5, 2013

Red Dirt Friday, Vol. 5

I know it, I've slacked a little on my Red Dirt Friday posts. But I was saving up for a really good one!

I want to talk about two fantastic albums. First is Kasey Musgraves' "Same Trailer Different Park," and the second is "Dandelion" by Bart Crow.

Now, I've been keeping up with Kasey ever since her appearance in Josh Abbott Band's "Oh, Tonight." I was/am obsessed with that song, and it may or may not have spent about 2 full years as my phone's ringtone...

[caption id="attachment_218" align="aligncenter" width="500"]url Buy this album now and don't stop listening. I haven't for about 2 weeks...[/caption]

Some of you may be thinking, "But how is this red dirt if 'Merry Go Round' is on mainstream radio?" And you're right, it is. But Ms. Musgraves is just ragged enough (and badass enough) to stay on my red dirt playlists. Take a listen to "Follow Your Arrow," and try not to nod and agree with every word coming out of her mouth - LADIES, believe me.

Next is Bart Crow's "Dandelion." I can't believe I now just bought it! It came out in Sept. 2012, but I let it slip by. I liked Bart Crow, don't get me wrong, but my go-to was always "Wear My Ring." It's so catchy, one listen and you'll know why. But then - I bought Dandelion. I probably know at least half of the words to all of the songs.


My favorite is "If I Go, I'm Goin" Feat. Macy Maloy (who, after a quick Google search, I discovered is a up-and-coming youngin' who won Josh Abbott's contest to sing at a sorority philanthropy and now has a record deal. Read more about her here. NOTE: she is quite the sorority girl.)

I could write about these albums all day, but then you'd be bored and I would achieve nothing else. Just do us both a favor and go buy them! And take a listen to the YouTube video of Bart Crow and Macy Maloy.

What are your weekend plans? I am reading 50 Shades Darker and going to a cattle show. (I'm a normal 23-year-old, right?)



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Puppy Graduate!

I was really hoping Cougar would get a cap and gown for her Puppy Kindergarten graduation. No cigar. But, our little graduate did get a nice certificate from Oak Hill Animal Clinic [Check out Oak Hill's Facebook page to see some shots from the class] and can officially do some tricks like SIT and DOWN. Very important in our house ... we're still working on STAY and SHAKE and PLAY DEAD. (Baby steps people.)

[caption id="attachment_210" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_8458 Good little pups get their certificates hung on the refrigerator![/caption]

If you do these things correctly, you will also be rewarded with marshmallows. Cougar has an affinity for marshmallows...

[gallery columns="2" ids="212,211"]

Besides a graduation, the little princess seen above is now rabies vaccinated and weighs a whopping 38 lbs!

Proud "dog mom" moment over.

This is what I did today -

[caption id="attachment_213" align="aligncenter" width="640"]RKK_IMG_8395 Took some "business" head shots for my sister at Northwest Indiana Real Estate[/caption]

My sister, Deana Sutton, is a real estate agent in Indiana and works with a few nice women at Northwest Indiana Real Estate. This is a "behind-the-scenes" look at my hometown, Lowell, Indiana's, downtown. I like the brick background personally (and have used it in photo shoots before!).

What's new in your lives?

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, April 1, 2013

My (other) Boyfriend Huck

I like to take pictures, you know this. I like to take pictures of Huck, you could probably all guess this. Huck McGee might be my favorite human subject, (also probably because Nick doesn't like his picture taken...)

You may remember my photo session with him a few weeks ago with the baby chicks.


Well, this past weekend we added to the cuteness and snapped a few outside at Rachael's parents' house in Lowell, Ind. Nick and I then stayed for a delicious Good Friday meal of shrimp and crab legs. I have known Rachael and her family for over a decade, and they're always so hospitable and funny!

What we learned on Friday -IMG_8367

  1. Babies aren't much into props. They might drop a wooden frame on their face and cry.

  2. Nick doesn't like seafood. (He tried crab and was not impressed...)

  3. Be prepared for awesome faces while you're snapping away.

  4. Eric can train our dog better than we can.

  5. Cougar looks stunning in a bandana.

But really, this was a fun and relaxed photo session. When snapping pics of the youngin' I always just take it easy and not force anything. Like on Friday, when Huck didn't want to stay in the boat by the pond, we moved locations because we were getting pictures like this...


I try to keep things natural. I want the subject to look normal and happy, how everyone should want to remember their child. NO MALL PICS! You all know what I'm talking about...

But lucky for us, we got some cute shots of the infamous Huckston Eric McGee.

[caption id="attachment_202" align="aligncenter" width="484"]Hcuk_1yr_sequence Can this dude rock corduroy or what?![/caption]

Let me know what you all think! Did we capture Huck looking natural?


P.S. - Doesn't Cougar look darling in her new bandana from Rachael & Eric?