Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Christmas Wrapping Ideas

I love wrapping Christmas presents. I love finding the perfect gift for my friends and family. And then I love picking out the perfect wrapping paper or bag for that gift. When I was little I was the one that volunteered to wrap everyone else's Christmas presents.

Here are a few options to make your gifts stand out underneath the Christmas tree!

I love this Chalk Board Inspired wrapping paper from LilyandVal on Etsy. Their cute store also have all kinds of chalkboard signs and prints. 

I love the idea of wrapping in brown kraft paper. This idea is especially cute idea from Saffron Avenue. Another simple and quick way to dress up brown kraft paper is with twine like these festive colors from Paper Presentation. 
Glitter Twine
Red and White Twin

If you aren't into wrapping presents bags are a quick and easy way to wrap your gifts. I love these polka-dotted paper bags from Bahana Splits Boutique. And they have all kinds of cute Christmas Washi tape

Washi tape is pretty much just fancy masking tape. 

For those that aren't crafty and want a reusable idea why not a Christmas present sack. I like to think that my mom was way ahead of the trend on this one. She sewed cloth sacks when we were little to hold those awkward shaped gifts. The fabric she choose said "I've been so good" all over them, but they also glowed in the dark. The glow in the dark words said "I've been so naughty!"

I love these burlap inspired sacks from Kelly Avenue's Etsy shop. If you search Christmas Present Sacks on Etsy you will find tons of options. For more packing options check out my Pretty Packages Pinterest page. 

Now who has started their Christmas shopping?! It's a month until Christmas. And don't forget to sign up for the Crystal Cattle Beauty Swap. We have more than 50 women registered already from all over the country and Canada!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Be #ThankfulforAg and Fight Hunger

I don't think I have really ever experienced what it truly is like to hungry. Not the I just ate lunch and now I'm hungry so I'll have a snack, and a glass of milk, and now I am stuffing my face and not really hungry. I'm talking about the kind of hungry that happens when you haven't ate for awhile, and you have no idea where your next meal is coming from. As farmers we are blessed to know that our freezer and fridge is full of beef that we raise ourselves and other products that our farmer friends grow or raise.

This year I have made a conscious effort to donate to our locate food bank. It has been pretty simple to buy a few extra cans at the grocery store or make a pile of the things that have sat in our cupboards for too long and then run them over to our local pantry. Also, when we butchered our steers we took frozen meat in. I made me so excited that families were going to get nutritious and healthy beef.

This is a great video that explains what a lot of Americans are going through.

The holiday season is here and I have been thinking of other ways that I can help the 1 in 6 Americans that struggle with hunger. I admire the numerous ways that Feeding America helps raise dollars and awareness about hunger. A trip to their website showed me lots of different way we can make a difference this holiday season.
  1. Shop online at Zappos.com on Black Friday. For every order placed 10 meals will be donated to Feeding America. 
  2. Target and TOMS are teaming up to provide simple ways for Target guests to give back. For every item purchased from a limited-edition collection, Target and TOMS are giving a blanket, one week of meals, or shoes to those in need through American Red Cross, Feeding America, and TOMS. They have everything from TOMS shoes to sweatshirts to candles and bracelets. Shop here
And finally my personal favorite. The #ThankfulAg campaign from Bayer Crop Science. When you visit www.thankfulforag.com you get to build your holiday meal, while learning facts about some of our favorite holiday foods. Did you know "One bushel of corn converts to the amount of feed to produce 15.6 pounds of pork." - Iowa Corn Promotion Board

Once you create your meal Bayer Crop Science will donate $1 per share or #thankfullag hashtag to Feeding America. That $1 donation is equal to 10 meals! 

Farmers work hard year round to ensure that there is food for all to eat. Now let's make sure everyone no matter what their situation is has access to that food. If you have ideas of how you support families during the holiday season share them below. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Crystal Cattle Beauty Swap 1 Year Anniversary!

Can you believe it! A full year of Beauty Swapping. I want to say thank you to everyone that has swapped during the past year. I think of all the new ladies I have connected, products I have tried and excitement of a gift arriving in the mail and it has been awesome. There has been more than 100 women participate in the Crystal Cattle Beauty Swap since it started last fall!

This time I have team up with Melanie of The Traveling Cowgirl. Melanie and I's paths first crossed when I lived in the Kansas City area. She loves the rural lifestyle, agriculture, cooking, turquoise and make-up - just like me!

So how does a Beauty Swap work? Once you have signed up we’ll pair you with another beauty loving blogger (or someone that enjoys Twitter or Instagram). You’ll have a little bit of time to get to know your new social media friend, and then you’ll send each other a gift of beauty products. Sign up for the Beauty Swap will take place November 19-28, 2014. We’ll send out the pairings by November 30. Get to know your partner and then be sure to get your package in the mail by December 8. It is really important to follow these deadlines as we have had a few Beauty Swappers send their packages off and get nothing in return :(

Once you have received your box start testing out your new beauty product. We'll host a link up on December 19. Feel free to link up and read all about everyone else's find. Here are link ups from Beauty Swap I, Beauty Swap II, Beauty Swap III and Beauty Swap IV.  You don't have to have a blog to participate, but we do ask that you have a social media way to communicate and join in on the fun. Use the hashtag #ccbeautyswap on Twitter or Instagram. Below is a list of a few rules and guidelines. We ask that you try and stick to the rules as closely as possible.

1. Follow the Crystal Cattle blogs and Facebook page. Follow the Traveling Cowgirl Instagram page.
2. Email your partner within 72 hours of receiving your match. If you haven’t heard from your match after three days are up, let Crystal know and we’ll try and pair you with someone else.
3. Be sure to ask your partner questions about their likes and disklikes, products they like to use, skin tone, preferred colors, etc. or maybe they want to be surprised!
4. Each box should contain a min. of $15 worth of product. Please include one full size item. You may also include samples of products with your one full size item.
5. Items must be new, unless you’ve discussed this with your partner. (Perhaps she loves purple nail polish and you have bottle you know you won’t use anymore.)
6. Packages must be shipped by December 8. If possible it is a good idea to get a tracking number incase something gets lost.
7. Once you receive your package create a post revealing what you received and link up with us on December 18.
8. Since it is almost Christmas include your favorite Christmas treat or recipe!
8. If you do not follow the rules you may forfeit you right to participate in future Beauty Swaps. Crystal Cattle has the right to refuse participation for any reason.

Click here to sign up! 

And if you need some ideas of what past Beauty Swap packages have looked like check out the new Beauty Swap Pinterest page

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Poshmark, Rudolph Stamps, GMOs and everything in between!

Harvest 2014 is complete! And that is a good things because we have snow and it is really cold out. Like Canada cold, but colder. And I can say Canada cold because I grew up there. Since you probably don't want to see another "it cold, there is snow on the ground picture" I'll share some other Instagram snaps.

The oven has been busy. This cook book is one that my great aunt put together. It is easily my favorite cookbook because the recipes are simple, delicious and remind me of family!

This year one of my personal goals is to get more involved in Iowa agriculture on a leadership level. Yes, we are involved raising cattle and crops on Iowa land, but I want to be able to share with others the benefits of agriculture on a larger scale within our state. Last week, I attended my first Iowa Agri Women meeting and I loved it. I learned about a great website www.GMOanswers.com and even met a blogging/social media friends, Kellie from Home Again Finnegan, in real life! She has a true passion for agriculture and conservation. I think I asked her a million questions! The next time Iowa Agri Women is meeting is in February. If you are from Iowa or know of a friend in Iowa who would like to join in let me know. 

Oh yes, wonderful Poshmark. I'm still sending out packages and receiving them. Including buying a pair of 7 for Mankind $130 jeans for $25. Score. I also have developed a love of colored Duck Tape! 

I am so ready for Christmas! And I am in love with these Rudolph Christmas stamps. Do you think it would be appropriate to use them year round? 

To follow more of my Instagram fun search for @CrystalCattle. Are you an Instagrammer? 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Green Chile Hamburger Crescent Roll Recipe

There is nothing better than a flaky crescent roll. However, when you add protein and cream cheese then you've got something even more delicious. Plus, I love this recipe because it only takes 15-20 minutes to make.

1 tube of reduced fat crescent rolls
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
2 oz (1/4 of a block) cream cheese 
1 lb. of ground ground beef 
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
4 oz. chopped green chiles

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
2. Begin to brown the ground beef, adding the chopped onions, black pepper and garlic salt. Drain fat from hamburger once browned. 
3. Add cream cheese and green chiles. Stir until cream cheese is melted. 
4. On a cookie sheet, spray non-stick oil. Place squares of the crescent rolls on the cookie sheet. You will need to pinch the seams together. You should have four squares. 
5. Scoop two ice cream scoops of the hamburger mixture into the center of the crescent roll. Fold corners towards the center and pink seams. It is ok if a little bit of the hamburger is peaking out. 
6. Bake for 10-11 minutes. 

Enjoy! And remember to thank a farmer. In this one recipe wheat, vegetable, cattle and dairy farmers produced a product for you to enjoy. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Biggest Wedding Mistake You Can Make

This post could be easily titled biggest wedding mistake, baby shower mistake, graduation mistake as it seems if you forgot this one step people are going to have a sour taste in their mouth. I'm taking about not getting thank you cards sent out.

Yes, the dreaded writing of thank you cards.

It doesn't matter how beautiful your dress was, how awesome the party was or how happy your guests were to celebrate with you. If you don't get those thank you cards in the mail I can guarantee that will be the part that your guests remember.

What is disappointing is how few thank you cards are now sent. So, why does not getting that thank you card in the mail get a bur under my saddle? Frankly, it's rude not to send one. I think it especially bothers me for the events we aren't able to attend. Yes, we are very sorry we can't make it to your big day, but I still took time out of my busy schedule to pick out a gift that I thinking would be fitting, find a card and put it in the mail. Sometimes I don't even know if our gift arrived due to the lack of thank you card.

And no, these excuses are not acceptable:
1. It is a busy time of year. Everyone is busy.
2. We gave favors at our wedding as a thanks. Nope doesn't count.
3. We posted a thank you on Facebook. Really, do you think Great Aunt Sally would find this acceptable?

I know thank you cards can be time consuming so consider these tips to help you get them into the mail: 

1. Don't be afraid of pre-printed labels. Writing a thank you can take time, so save time and use address and return labels or
2.  If you are having a shower (baby or wedding) ask your hosts to have each guest fill out an envelope with their address.
3. Follow the rule of "you can not use the gift until the thank you card is sent." We did this for our wedding and trust me it motivated us to get those thank yous wrote faster.
4. Use the plane ride to your honeymoon destination to write a few. Everyone is going to tell you to relax and enjoy your honeymoon. However, trust me. You will be a lot more relaxed if you don't have a pile full of unwritten thank you cards awaiting you upon your arrival home.
5. Divide and conquer. Get your husband involved. Especially on the ones that are from his close friends or family.

Other tips
1. I love to give stamps or note cards as gifts. This relieves a little bit of the stress off of the bride, mother to be, graduate, etc.
2. If you received cash or a gift card consider letting the give giver know what you are going to spend it on: new towels, saving for furniture, putting to use on the honeymoon, etc
3. If you are wanting to use a photo from your wedding in your thank you card talk about this with your photographer ahead of time. Often it can take 4-8 weeks before you will receive your wedding photos, and this could delay getting your thank you cards out.

Trust me. Your guests will appreciate the thoughtfulness when they receive that thank you card in the mail.

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