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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Perfect Fall Cocktail: The Carmel Apple

Fall is officially here. Around the farm that means seeing not the Boy very much because he has been busy in the fields with harvest. The corn and soybean crop yields have been fairly good, and the late night have given him the opportunity to catch some beautiful sunset photos like this one. You can see more of his photos on Instagram by following @jjbcattleco.

In the evening I have been spending extra time in the barn halter breaking our heifers. Halter breaking means getting the heifers used to being tied up and then eventually teaching them to lead on a halter. We do this for two reasons, 1. We'll being exhibiting some of these heifers at cattle shows later in their lives so they will definitely need to know how to lead and act like a show heifer. Another group of heifers will be sold and we like them to be as calm and quiet as possible for the new owners. and 2. Halter breaking calms the heifers down. We try to get them as use to people as possible so there is less stress on them when we are handing them.

All of these farm fall activities make me crave other things like my Apple Cookies. And that recipe requires a little apple cider. However, it only seems that apple cider comes in a big containers. Which led to a quart of apple cider in the fridge and the boy creating the perfect, most amazing adult cocktail ever.

The Carmel Apple

3 oz. Apple Cider
1 oz. Spiced Rum

That's all you need for an adult beverage that tastes just like a Carmel Apple. Hope you enjoy, and while you are enjoying think of the farmers who are working hard to finish harvest and loving the farm life.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fashion Wants vs Farm Needs

I've been thinking about this post for awhile now, and I am thinking there probably will be a part two.

Many of my favorite blogs are wrote by some extremely stylish fashionable ladies. Their daily posts give inspiration to the hot new looks, classics pieces that everyone should have in their wardrobe and bring awareness to the million and one online boutiques. One of my favorite tools on Instagram is the #liketkit hashtag on Instagram. Once you register at, you can like any photo on Instagram with the #liketkit hashtag and you get an email letting you know where you can purchase the items that the fashionista is wearing. 

There have been more than once instance where thing that is exactly the sweater, shoes, pair of jeans that I need in my closet. And then I see the price tag. What wait! Those pants are $200 and her top is $170 and the shoes $225? 

Which leads me to this photo. 

I really would like a pair of leather two-tone leggings. You know the ones that all the fashion bloggers are wearing ;) Just like these nearly $400 leather front Pixie pants from J.Crew. I know they would look amazing with about three different shirts I have in my closet. However, we have a farm. And cows who like to eat. 

During the summer our cows eat grass, semi "free" food. I would say completely free but our farm isn't paid off yet so technically that farm payment means not free grass. As we move into Fall the grass loses nutrition. This means we need to supplement feed that contains energy and protein to our cows so that they stay in good body condition and the baby calves growing in their bellies receive adequate nutrition. 

On the right side of the picture is something called a protein tub (we feed VitaFerm's Pow'R Lyk tub - shameless plug for the company I work for). It contains protein, vitamins and minerals for our cows. Today, I could have bought a $398 pair of pants or I could have bought three protein tubs to feed our cows. These three tubs will feed our 30 cows for 20 days, and then I'll have to buy more tubs. 

On the left is a beautiful pair Tory Burch sandals. It seems like every fashion blogger and quite a few friends own a pair. On the right we have an antibiotic called Draxxin. Yes, these nearly $200 sandals are beautiful however, when the we have cattle take are sick and our veterinarian says that we need to treat our calves with an antibiotic we choose the calves over my feet. This bottle of Draxxin would treat nine 500 lb. calves and costs just over $200. 

Now I am not saying my closet is deprived, and my husband is pretty darn awesome. If I pleaded my case that I needed another Kendra Scott pair of earrings or a new pair of boots I could make it happen. However, I don't think I would feel right. Our farm is really important to us. There are a lot of things that we have to buy because our cattle rely on us, and there are other things that are an investment in our farming business. And when you can buy these Old Navy faux-leather look alike leggings for $30, the fashion blogger $300 leggings don't make too much sense. 

So instead of going on an online shopping spree each week. We'll budget out our money and I'll save up for those on trend wardrobe pieces and accessory treats that I can layer over my Target and J.Crew Factory sales tops. 

p.s. Don't forget that we are currently hosting our Fall Beauty Swap. Be sure to check out all the details. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall Beauty Swap

Are you a make-up junkie? Have a draw full of beauty products? Love getting product suggestions from friends? Well here is your opportunity. I am very excited to have Ashley of MessyKennedy help me this month. She is a make-up loving gal just like me and her family also is very involved in agriculture. Our family raises the beef, her’s raises the milk!

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 September 24-October 1, 2014. We’ll send out the pairings by October 9. Get to know your partner and then be sure to get your package in the mail by October 16. 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 October 27. 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! 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 and MessyKennedy blogs and Facebook pages.
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, 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 October 16. 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 October 27.
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.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall Make-Up Update

It's official, fall is here! Even though the weather is still ranging from 70 degree days to chilly "where is my winter coat" mornings Fall is here. I have been itched for tall boots, scarves and vests. I am now only hoping that fall decides to stick around for as long as possible because word on the street is winter in Iowa is supposed to be as long and cold as last year or worse. Thanks for the optimistic outlook Mr. Weatherman.

A few weekends ago the Boy and I went to the Zac Brown concert at Wrigley Field. It was his 30th Birthday treat, and we had a blast. If you ever have the chance to see Zac Brown take the opportunity. Him and his band were fantastic.

A trip to Chicago also meant that I was definitely going to find a way to get to the MAC store. So while the Boy watched his Iowa Hawkeyes play Iowa State I grabbed a cab and headed downtown. And within a half hour this is what I got.

p.s. I bought this faux-leather sweater specifically for our Chicago weekend and I love it. I think I definitely be adding some more leather trimmed or accented pieces to my wardrobe this fall and winter.

Back to the make-up. I decided to go with an eye-shadow quad as one it definitely saves a few dollars, and two I love that when I am traveling I have everything I need in one convenient package.

The make-up artist gave me a great look that can easily be taken from day tonight. This quad eyeshadow is part of a limited edition collection called A Novel Romance.

But what really made my eyes pop was MAC's Fluidline. If you haven't ever used Fluidline I highly recommend it. It has way more staying power than a pencil and I find it much easy to apply than most liquid liners. The color he selected for me was called Dipdown. The blush I already had (MAC's blushes last forever) and is called Melba. 

The beauty item that I wanted to let you in on is RapidLash. I have really been wanting to get eyelash extensions. However, I haven't found anyone in NE Iowa to help make that happen. I've heard a lot about Lattise, but the potential side effect of eyelid skin darkening really makes me nervous, so I started to look for some other options and that is when I found Rapid Lash at Ulta. The reviews were pretty good so I decided to give it a shot, and I think it is working! I've been using it for about three weeks and I have noticed a big difference in the health and length of my lashes. I think my mascara goes on a lot smoother as well. What really sealed the deal was that the MAC make-up artist commented on what great long lashes I had. I don't think anyone as ever told me that! 

What makes you excited for fall? Are adding something fun to your wardrobe or make-up box? 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Peach Muffins

Dana and I windblown from looking at calves. 
Don't you love when you finally get to spend a weekend at home? The past two weekends have been full of fun trips to Texas to see my sister in law and Chicago for some cattle sales and the Zac Brown Band concert at Wrigley Field. This weekend was also packed with a trip to Illinois to drop off some cattle that we will be selling in a sale in October, an impromptu stop to look at some Hereford cattle in Wisconsin and then meeting up with my best friend for her family's Angus cattle sale. Can you see a theme here - lots of cattle sales going on right now. I told my husband that the best part about owning cattle is the friends we make and taking trips to look at their cattle.

However, after our 15 hour road trip yesterday it was really nice to wake up in our own bed this morning. I've had an itch to get some baking done, so after fences were fixed this morning the stove and oven were fired up.

First I made a batch of my corn/potato chowder soup for lunch, then it was a couple dozen of my mom's chocolate chip cookies, and finally a new recipe for peach muffins. After many requests from Facebook here is the recipe.

Crystal's Peach Muffins


3 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup milk (you can use 1%, 2% or whole)
1/2 cup canola/vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cups peaches - I used frozen peaches that I defrosts in the microwave and then gave a touch chop. I am sure you could use fresh or drained can peaches as well.

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees, and place liners in muffin tin. This recipe with give you a dozen standard size muffins.

In large bowl mixed flour, caking powder, salt and cinnamon, and gently stir. Set aside.

In second bowl (I use my kitchen-aid mixer for this part) whisk eggs, white and brown sugar until combined. Add milk, oil and vanilla and stir. Take the wet ingredient bowl and gently fold (folding is different than stirring, here is a video) this mixture into your dry ingredients. You do not want to over mix as it will create hard muffins. Keep folding just until the wet mixture is coated. You batter will likely be lumpy and that's ok.

Fill you muffin liners almost to the top. Bake at 425F for 5 minutes, and then lower the temperature to 375F and bake for another 14-15 minutes. To check if they are done insert a toothpick and it should come out clean.

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