Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fun for the Whole Herd.

Do you enter your local fair?
Do you take open class livestock?
Turn in pies baked in your kitchen for tasting?
Submit vegetables grown in your garden for judging?
There's something local, community minded, down home and old fashioned about entering into the fair.
It just makes me happy.
Last year was the first year I entered photos into our local fair, and I just submitted my entry for this year's fair today.  If you live in Umatilla County - enter here by July 23rd - it's super easy!
  The first week of August is always the Umatilla County Fair and this year's theme is "Fun for the Whole Herd!".
Seven images is what I entered - in seven categories.  The nice thing about entering photos is that you don't have to choose your images until you arrive at the fair - you just have to note what categories you're entering.
I chose Kids, Farm Scenes, Local Scenes, Sunrise/Sunset, Pets & Domestic Animals, Special Effects and the Fair Theme - Fun for the Whole Herd
I don't exactly have a real scientific method in which I choose my photos - I usually just scan through my blog and chose the images that I love the most.  Then I figure out what categories they might fit into and enter. 
I sent my images to Costco today to be printed - but I have too many.  To help narrow down the field, I'd love your input.  If you have time to comment, would you let me know if any of the below strike you?  I know my photos aren't professional quality and I'm not fishing for compliments here - just honest feed back to see if I'm nuts or somewhat on target. 
See you at the fair!  :)




Friday, July 18, 2014

5 on Friday.

1. Harvest

Harvest is in full swing here in Eastern Oregon!  Hay fields are down and combines have been rolling through wheat and canola fields.

Eastern Oregon was pretty dry this year, and didn't receive as much rain as we normally do, so yields are expectedly lower than normal.  We've also had a lot of fires - yuck.  Hopefully the winds and hot temperatures will die down, and farmers can get their crops in without too many more problems.

2. Nordstrom Anniversary Sale
I never really shopped at Nordstrom until I started following Sheaffer's blog at Pinterest Told Me To.  Once I started following though, I feel like probably 50% of my shopping is done at Nordstrom - it's easy to shop from home, they offer free shipping & free returns on all items (no minimum orders!) and the quality can't be beat.  But I'm still cheap, and will usually only buy an item if it is on sale.  While I normally just shop their clearance, every year they have their Anniversary Sale where they offer fall & winter items at sale prices for a limited amount of time.  When the sale is over, everything goes back to normal prices.  Today's the day that everyone got access to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, but card holders have had access since June 10.  I have a debit card through Nordstrom (all of the benefits, without having to have a credit card) and started shopping early!
I have to brag - I took this sale as an opportunity to get some early Christmas shopping done!  It feels so good to have a good chunk of my shopping done in July!  I took a risk, and got many of the women in our family the same item - here's hoping they'll love it!  I don't want to spill the beans tooo much.....but I may have even gotten a shout out on Sheaffer's blog for my Christmas shopping prowess.  ;)

Some of my favorite finds are below (minus my Christmas gifts!).  
You have until August 3 to score some major deals!

Biosana Swiss Foot File - $13.90

This foot file is LIFE CHANGING.  I changing.  Let me just tell you - I have terrible cracked heels, and have tried almost everything.  Creams, pumice stones, scrubs, files, metal graters.....nothing's really helped until I started using this file last week.  It is a game changer.  I love it so much, I want to order one for all of my friends - but I think that might be a little weird.  So just order one for yourself.  I promise, you'll love it.  And you'll want to order one for all of your friends!  It's a file I'd pay full price for - and that's saying something.

 I really, really, really want to buy these shoes.  But for some reason, I just can't commit.  Actually - I know the reason - my heart is yelling/screaming


But my head is saying

"Dearest Darcy, you own quite enough shoes already, you certainly don't need to buy another cute pair of leopard print loafers that will go with everything  you own..."

Gaaahhhhh....what do I do?

The heart won....I bought the shoes as I was typing this post and they're are on their way to me right now!

Pleione Shirts - $29.90 and $37.90

I have five Pleione shirts that I wear all of the time for work, so it was a no brainer to stock up with a few more while they're on sale.  I have the Split Neck Blouse in a dark dusty blue, so I bought the same shirt in this fun magenta/purple color last week and love it.  It'll look so nice paired with jeans, my cognac boots and leather jacket this fall.  I also bought a Mixed Media Tunic today - hopefully it will be long enough to cover my bum so that I can wear it with leggings or skinny jeans.

Hue Ultra Wide Waistband Leggings - $23.90

Speaking of leggings - I ordered a pair of Hue leggings to see if they would look halfway decent on me.  I've only read awesome reviews about these leggings, but we'll see what they look like when they get here.  I'm hoping for the best - but also realize that I'm not a size 0 and they may just not end up working out.  That's where Nordstrom's free return policy comes in so handy!

Shop the entire Nordstrom Anniversary Sale here - and remember, it's free shipping, free returns on everything (no minimums) so you really don't have anything to lose!

3. The Sale Barn Doors

I've been meaning to stain the Double M Sale Barn doors for awhile, but just haven't had a large chunk of time to get it done....but today I did!  Normally this is the Friday I work, but since Chief Joseph Days is next week and so many from my office will be gone, I switched my Friday off and had a chance to get these stained!

I hadn't ever stained anything before, so I did some research before I bought.  Because when you haven't ever stained anything, isn't the first thing you stain an item on a building that cost more than you make in a whole year?!?  Luckily - everything turned out just fine.  I used Behr's Premium Wood Coating Transparent Weather Proofing All-in-One Wood Finish.  It was the most expensive stain at Home Depot - $34 for a gallon - but after applying I think it was money well spent.  The stain went on easily, the gallon covered all three of the 8'x10' doors and I don't think I'll have to reapply.  That's worth something right there.


  In the picture the top hasn't been stained, but the bottom has.


I think they turned out really good - oh, and it's totally worth it to buy the $10 paint kit at Home Depot.  It has a good quality paint brush, two rollers, a paint tin and a can opener.  And since it's $10, I didn't feel an ounce of guilt for throwing it all away when I was done.  Cleaning paint brushes ranks on the list of one of my least favorite things to do, so this way I just don't have to.

4.  Wedding Shower Recipe

I'm headed to a bridal shower tonight, and we are supposed to bring a recipe for the bride.  I choose to include a version of this recipe from PW.  I tweak my casserole just a bit from how PW prepares it, and hopefully will share it soon on the blog.

5. Summer Sizzle

The 2014 Summer Sizzle Jackpot is this weekend in Connell, WA.  Clint's judged it the past two years and I took photos when he did, so they asked me to come up again this year even though he's not judging.  I have a hard time saying no to taking photos of hardworking kids, leading quality cattle so I'm looking forward to it this weekend!

Plus, it's in the shade and there'll be fans running - you can't beat that scenario in 100+ degree heat!


 I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Keep living the dream!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wild roses.


My friend Robyn posted pictures of wild roses on the South Dakota prairie today, and it brought back a favorite memory....


My little sister Lindsay was born when I was five years old.  When my mom went to the hospital to have her, we stayed with our friends the Hinman's until she was born.  Then our dad came to pick us up and my brother Shawn and I got to go into the hospital to see her for the first time.

On our way in, while we were still on Briggs Hill Road, we stopped at a corner where wild rose bushes were overflowing with blooms.  My dad thought that we needed to bring flowers to my mom and new baby sister, and so we picked.  With handfuls of pink blooms attached to soft thorns and prickly leaves, we headed to the hospital to meet Lindsay.  I remember being so proud of those flowers - and that we had picked them ourselves. 

And I remember the smile on my mom's face when we gave her the flowers as we climbed onto the hospital bed and got to meet our new sister for the first time. 

I'm pretty sure my mom dried those flowers, and they're tucked into Lindsay's baby book.

It's funny the things we remember....and how a simple picture can bring a flood of memories back.

PS -At first, I was mad my parent's named her Lindsay.  I wanted to call her Big Bird.   Haha - I'm pretty sure Lindsay's thankful I didn't have a say in the naming process.

PPS - Shawn was mad because she was a girl.  So he got a new dog, Ebony who was a male.  So then we were even.  :)

PPPS - Lindsay, we loved you then just as much as we do now!  Promise.  :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

11 ways I help keep my life sane.

I'm sitting here, typing this to auto post in the morning, in mis-matched pj's that I changed into after work, while the dishwasher whirls behind me in the kitchen.

My floor needs mopped, the lawn needs mowed, and I should probably be starting dinner.

But instead, I'm sitting here, typing to you.

Can I be honest with you?

I cringe inside when someone asks me

 "How do I do it all?"

Because I don't.

I really, truly, honestly, not even close, do not do it all.

I know that we're busy, and that we have a lot going on, but I certainly don't think that I "do it all".  Rather, on the contrary I usually think - "You should see my house" or "Gosh, we don't even have kids?!?  What would our lives be like if we did?". 

Because while I may do what seems like a lot, the truth is that I don't do everything, and I think we can all admit that we're all just trying to cope the best way possible.

So with that said - there are some ways that I help myself maximize my time and energy.  Because let's face it - you and me both could wish for more of those. 

Here are 11 things that I do consistely, that help keep our life sane.

Maybe one or two will be helpful to you?


1. We have a routine. 

We have a weekday routine, and a "Darcy isn't working today" routine.  (Because let's face it - when you live on a ranch, a weekend isn't much different than a weekday.)  On the weekdays that I work, we get up at 4:50 am.  From that point until I leave the door for my commute to work, I have certain things that I get done by a certain time and I watch the clock to make sure that I'm staying on track.  I know that between 5:35 and 5:50, I pack lunch, get Clint's breakfast ready, do laundry, sweep or check emails and when 5:50 rolls around, I need to be drying my hair and finishing getting dressed.  Watching the clock and knowing what my "checkpoints" are helps me get out the door to work on time, and reduces stress.  Not starting the day off stressed is key and sets the tone for the rest of the day.

On the days that I don't work at the office, our morning routine is a little more flexible because there is two of us to get things done at the ranch.  We're still usually up and out the door by 6:00, but instead of taking time to put on makeup/do my hair, I'll throw on a ball cap and get some chores around the house done before I head outside to help Clint.

2. Laundry.

I do a load of laundry almost every day.  In the morning, I'll load the washing machine after Clint & I have showered and before I leave for work.  Then, when I get home, I transfer it to the dryer.  I'll either fold & put away the load that night once it's dry, or usually I do it the next morning when I take that day's load down to the washer.  My friend Chrissy taught me this routine, and it really helps.  I rarely feel like I have a mountain of laundry to do, because I pick away at it each day.  And on the days that I don't have clothes to wash, I'll throw a set of sheets in, or a blanket or rugs, or I'll run a load of barn coats through. 

3. Cleaning my house.

I will be the first to tell you - my house is not spic & span.  I say that if you judge me by the way my house looks, then we probably don't need to be friends.  And I mean it.  I choose to put my time and efforts into other things.

That being said - I do make an effort every day to do things around the house that keep it clean.  (In my mind, there is a difference between having a dirty house, and having a cluttered house.)  So, I worry about the things that I think make my house clean.  Every day I wash the dishes and load the dishwasher.  I sweep every other day, and try to vaccuum once a week, if not twice a week.  I keep up on laundry, and wipe down our kitchen & bathroom counters every day.

The rest of it -  I don't worry about.  Yes, you will find dust on my shelves.  But we live in a sand blow, and really, I don't care.  Yes, my floors probably need mopped.  So I mop them when they really need it or if people are coming over, and the rest of the days I don't worry about it.  I'd love it if I had time to deep clean the house every month, but I don't.  So I don't let it bother me, and I just keep up on the things that I can. 

4. I don't sweat the small stuff.

We don't do drama at our house.  We don't freak out at our house.  We DO roll with the punches, and go down the road.  Life is too short to worry about a lot of the things that people worry about, so I try not to. 

5. I love my husband and our lifestyle.

I think if I didn't love both of those things, my life would be a lot harder.  I would resent helping Clint, I would resent the muddy floors, I would resent not getting enough sleep at night.  But because I love both of those things - my husband & our life - I'm willing to sacrifice some things I want to do in order to keep our lives running smoothly and with as little chaos is possible.  Because ranching in itself already creates enough chaos.

Another thing that helps - Clint is really great about expressing his appreciation and showing me love.  We don't walk out the door in the morning before saying goodbye to each other, and we greet each other with a hug or a kiss as soon as we see each other after work.  We don't have "date nights" or anything like that, but because we show appreciation and love towards each other all day, and on a consistent basis I know that I am loved, and he knows that I love him.  We are a team - and a pretty good one, I think - and we tell each other that.  It helps to know that you have someone on your side - all of the time - and that they love you and support you.  Just that emotional support alone helps me conquer a lot of things.

6. Grocery Shopping & Menu Planning.

These two things go hand in hand.  I grocery shop once a week, after work.  Sometimes I'll shop on a weekend, but that's usually only in the summer when ranch work is slow.  I will figure out how many nights a week we will eat dinner at home, and then figure out what meals I will make. Once I have that done, I write a list of ingredients I need. Clint eats the same thing for breakfast every morning, and I pack the same snacks/lunch for work every day, so those things are kept on a list I have saved on my phone in my "List Master" app.  I just add the grocery items I need for dinners to that list, and because of this I will rarely forget an item when I am shopping.

I also shop at Costco about once a month.  I buy a lot of things in bulk (drinks, snacks, dogfood) that we use everyday.  When we get closer to the AI season, I really stock up on drinks and frozen ingredients to make quick meals (pre-made alfredo sauce, potstickers, meatballs, etc.).  We usually have multiple people staying with us during that time helping us breed that I feed, and my life is just a lot easier if I have things on hand already. 

I also use my crockpot all.of.the.time.  Dinner is so much easier if I already have meat cooked when I get home.  A lot of the time I'll throw something in the crockpot in the morning, Clint will eat it for lunch, and I'll make a green salad and we'll finish whatever was in the crockpot for dinner.  Clint is a trooper, and doesn't mind eating the same thing twice and using my crockpot saves me at least a half hour every day just by spending 5 minutes in the morning doing some simple prep.

And don't think I'm a saint that cooks every day - we eat out a fair share.  If I've been helping at the ranch, and don't have something ready to eat Clint never expects me to make something.  We'll eat leftovers, or pick something up and that takes a lot of stress off of me.

7.  We know each others schedules.

Every morning while we are getting ready, I try to let Clint know if there is something going on that day that is out of the ordinary. (Bunco, grocery shopping after work, etc.)  Because I brought the subject up, he'll usually tell me if he has anything going on too.  However, the nature of our lives is that something unexpected will pop up and our plans will change.  This is when #4 comes in handy.  Both of us can roll with the punches pretty well and adapt as we need to. 

8. Blogging.

I blog because I really enjoy it, and I like knowing that I'll have something to look back on in the years ahead.  While it takes time, it's a priority for me and I try to fit it into the schedule.  I talked more about why I write here....

9. Helping on the ranch.

Here's the deal - I don't get paid to help at the ranch, but I do it because I love my husband and I want to help him.  He is a super hard worker, and can't leave something unfinished or not do a job well.  That usually translates into him working more hours than he is expected to, but it's his choice to do that.  Instead of being in the house, (eating bon bons on the couch, as I joke) I try to help him outside.  Clint is really good about telling me that I don't have to help, and it's not my job to help....but sometimes it's easier when I do, and I do it because I want to.  The other thing is, Clint works for really great people and they are appreciative of my help.  If they weren't that way, I don't know that I'd be as involved as I am.

10. I want to retire early.

I'm not shy in telling people that I want to be able to retire early, and that's part of the reason we work so hard right now.  There's a nine year age difference between Clint and I, and so when we're at retirement age, I want to be able to enjoy it.  That means we need to work as hard as possible now, so that when we get to that age, we can do whatever we want.  Who knows - that might mean we still want to ranch and I imagine we'll still be involved with the cattle industry.  But whatever it is that we want to do, it will be easier to do those things if we plan ahead, work hard and save accordingly.

11. We are thankful & grateful for what we have.

There are a lot of people who have less than we do or are battling health issues that we don't have to worry about.  We try to be actively thankful for what we have, and grateful to those around us and that helps you get through a day.



That was a lot.  Thanks for hanging in there.  :)

So while I don't do it all - not even close - the above gives you a little insight as to how I try to make our days go by smoothly and why we do what we do.

If you have a tip for making life easier - please share!  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The UCCA Desert Classic.

Last Saturday was the 2014 UCCA Desert Classic Jackpot Show in Hermiston, OR. 

The Umatilla County Cattlemens Association supports this jackpot, but a lot of the work is done by Marie Linnell.  She does a great job organizing the show, ordering awards, accepting entries, etc. and probably doesn't get thanked enough - so thank you  Marie!  Also, a big thank you to the official show photographer, Annie Hobson and to Ian, Clint and Randy for helping ringside.  Robert Myers judged the show and did a great job - we're always thankful to have a competent judge who knows good cattle.

And despite the heat, it was a great show and I think the kids had fun!

And at the end of the day, that's what it's all about. 


This last picture may just be my favorite -

A lot of the time, all you see if the perfectly poised "backdrop picture" of the champions, and yet it takes a lot of different people (and hoopla!) to make that picture happen. 

  • Somebody has to "Get the Ears!"
  • Someone is usually holding another calf close by so the calf being pictured will stand still.
  •  There's usually a group of parents and supporters trying to get their pictures while the photographer gets their own.
  •  And someone has to be there telling the judge, kid and sponsor to "Look at the camera and smile!"
That may just be the hardest job of them all, lol.


Here's to another great Desert Classic!

Success is reason enough.