Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Christmas in the Country 2015

I love getting mail. As a country kid who grew up in the 1960s and '70s, there wasn't email, Facebook, Twitter or the constant flow of TV news. We didn't have that many visitors down our rural  road, so the arrival of the mailman with the daily newspaper, some magazines and letters was a welcome diversion. (I was a kid. I didn't realize some of those letters were bills!)

So it's really no surprise that the idea of the Christmas in the Country gift exchange appeals to me. These days, it seems I'm constantly "connected" - at least, virtually. But it still seemed a fun way to relive that old-fashioned excitement of greetings arriving via the mailbox.

This was my second year to participate in Christmas in the Country, and, this time, it was open only to bloggers. (Last year, other country women could also participate.) I was lucky enough to receive a box from Jenny Schweigert, who lives in Hopeland, Illinois. (Don't you love that town name? It reminds me of Hopewell, Kansas, which was a don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it-spot-in-the-road just west of my grandparents' house.)

Anyway, Jenny serves as the executive director of AgChat, which is designed for "Empowering a Connected Community of Agvocates." She also helps manage her family’s small hobby farm and in-laws' dairy farm in central Illinois.She blogs about life on the farm, Jersey dairy cattle, hunting and her boys, all at The Magic Farm House. Her tag line there is Love More. Laugh More. Live More.

How could I not like her right away? And I liked her even more when I unwrapped ALL the goodies!
Here's the overview, but I thought I'd break it down a little so you could get to know Jenny, too!
In the questionnaire form we fill out to participate in the gift exchange, we tell some of the things we like. I know I didn't put down popcorn, but Jenny must have read my mind. It's one of my favorite things. But I hate to admit I hadn't popped any on top of the stove for years. It didn't take me long to open the sack of Pilot Knob Comforts popcorn grown in Illinois. (Popping corn on the stove reminds me of my Grandma Neelly and eating popcorn out of her old metal bowls while watching the Wonderful World of Disney or Lassie. Bonus!)

The Illinois-grown popcorn pouches were given to attendees at the Illinois Harvest dinner, an event which brought together 80 consumers and 20 farmers for a meal and discussion around food. It's yummy!

I didn't know that Illinois is the No. 1 producer of pumpkin in the U.S. Jenny says she lives in an area that's considered the Pumpkin Capital of the World. It arrived just in time for holiday pumpkin bread baking.

The koozie advertises Illinois corn and ethanol. (My son-in-law has a koozie collection, so I may share it with him.)
Like most women, I like chocolate, and Jenny made sure all the bases were covered. She included the "buck bar" because she likes to hunt. And how about a little coffee with that chocolate? She says that the coffee was an intentional re-gift. She got it during the swap meet at AgChat Foundation's Cultivate & Connect conference in November. Farmers and ranchers bring a taste of their home state to trade for items from other attendees. The Maui coffee was a Hawaiian delegate's swap item. Yum to all of the above!
I grouped these two items and named them "from my Oklahoma neighbors." I got a Ree Drummond Pioneer Woman mason jar. And Blake Shelton serenaded me on my last-minute Christmas preparations.
I really like the journal with the Eleanor Roosevelt quote on the front: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." I would say the AgChat mug ties into that, too, since ag-vocates are some of the biggest dreamers I know.

Thank you, Jenny, for all the fun surprises!

My Christmas in the Country recipient was Wanda Patsche of Welcome, Minnesota. (I think I won the prize for the best place names for both my recipient and my gift giver!) She blogs at Minnesota Farm Living. On their farm in southern Minnesota, they raise pigs and grow corn and soybeans. Like me, she's a Mom and Grandma.
I sent Wanda a Pioneer Woman tin filled with spiced tea mix, PW salt & pepper shakers and some pig-themed kitchen gadgets. To represent Kansas, I sent some mixes from the Hudson Cream Flour Mill, some of my notecards and a desk calendar I made.
The Christmas in the Country was a way to meet some new blogging friends. Other bloggers participating can be found at this link-up. Now that the holidays are over, I need to spend a little more time clicking on those links, and I invite you to do the same.

The hosts for Christmas in the Country volunteered their time to make it a success. THANKS to each of them! Check out their blogs: Laurie Link – Country LINKed; Jamie Rhoades - This Uncharted Rhoade; Kirby Linebach - 15009 Farmhouse; and Lara Durben - My Other More Exciting Self.


    1. Great job Kim! I loved what you sent and what you received from Jenny. Such great connections made across the Ag community by this exchange. Thank you for again participating!
      Laurie - Country Link

    2. Thanks for sharing and participating again this year Kim! It looks like you did hit the jackpot on both the gift you got and the gift you sent! I would love so much of that too! Hope you were able to make some new friends and have a great time, we loved having you!

      1. I really do appreciate all the background work to make it happen.

    3. Kim,

      Looks like Jenny did well with her gift exchange to you.

      My Mom is a big popcorn eater and J and I enjoy it too. J bought a "stir-crazy" popper that we love. I like to pick up a sack or two of popcorn at State Fair in the Nebraska Made booth.

      Coffee and chocolate ... one can't go wrong with this combination. The Eleanor Roosevelt quote is one of my favorites.

      Looks like Wanda was slightly spoiled too! I have not looked into the extent of The Pioneer Woman's product line. She must have a lot of fun stuff.

      Cards and calendars featuring your photography are always unique and thoughtful.

      1. It looks like you did well with your "loot," too! The Christmas in the Country is a fun exchange!

    4. Ohh popcorn...I'm a popcornaholic....really!! I would rather eat popcorn over almost anything else...well, maybe not icecream. Nice gifts.

      1. Thanks for visiting! Yes, we are fellow popcorn enthusiasts!

    5. Love all your gifts from Jenny, who I affectionally nicknamed my #WingWoman because she has some poultry and I work for poultry farmers in Minnesota. :) Thank you for participating in the exchange, Kim, and I look forward to following your blog in 2016 and beyond!

      Lara - My Other More Exciting Self

      1. Thanks, Lara! I look forward to getting to know Jenny better, as well as others who participated in this fun exchange. Thanks so much for your work!