Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Women of Epicenter in Green River, Utah

Dedicated to Rural, this next duo is the creative force behind the market bags we gave during our first giveaway. You will also find their bags in our Rural Gift Guide for purchase directly from Epicenter. The proceeds go to the heart of what these women are about. I find it fascinating, and I think you will too! See what these women are doing to help their slice of Rural America. By the way, we will be giving five more of these bags away in the very near future, so stay tuned.

I hope you visit their blog.  These women are up to all sorts of good! 

Epicenter is located on the historic corridor of Broadway about 200 feet North of the Amtrak station in Green River, Utah. There, we operate an affordable housing and business resource center in a historic building. Epicenter is a 501(c)3 non-profit supported by grants, private donations, and income from graphic design and print production projects. Epicenter’s one-story renovated storefront building houses a creative studio, a small basement workshop, and four full-time employees. 50% of the driving force behind Epicenter is two rural women, Hayley Crooks and Maria Sykes, a designer-strategist duo. Sykes helped co-found the Epicenter in June of 2009, and Crooks followed shortly after to further strengthen the team. Since it's foundation, Sykes & Crooks helped in the renovation of the Epicenter office, have written grants to fund the Epicenter's programs and projects, and run the Epicenter's Design Department.

Sykes was trained as an architect at Auburn University (known for the Rural Studio), and Crooks also attended at Auburn University but studied industrial design. Typically, one would graduate from design school and pursue traditional careers in urban centers working for large design firms. We chose to move to "the middle of nowhere"; somewhere with need and potential where we could see the direct impact of our time and talents. We see ourselves as part of a change of tone occurring in the design professions, led by students and emerging professionals who want more than what the professions have settled for: working unapologetically for the socio-economic elite. We are crafting an alternative model of practice, one that can accommodate our fervent desire to collaborate and to emphasize place and circumstance. Our insistence for these ideals has led us to a radical mission taken on by “citizen architects” (and citizen designers, more broadly).

The town of Green River is a rural community of just 953 residents at the trifecta of the Green River, Interstate 70, and the railroad. We are often asked, “Why Green River?” At first, we didn’t know (and we still aren’t sure). But we know the fact that question is even asked is a significant portion of the answer. If it was easy and simple, then it would already exist. We do know some factors that answer “why.” The transparency that exists in seeing who the decision-makers are is requisite for our ability to create the Epicenter. The town is manageably small; we can have a better chance at wrapping our heads around the dynamics of a decision made by residents. Even still, because of the context, the town is different and unique enough that when we seek out prototypes and examples from other similar places it is hard to replicate here. Our satisfaction comes from the ability to create social change at an individual scale along with the opportunity for creative expression rather than monetary compensation. In school, we learned techniques of problem solving, and we tasted the impact you can have from working within a community.

Rural women rocking Green River doesn't end with Sykes & Crooks, the town has female business owners, city councilwomen, and community organizers. Additionally, young women regularly come to Green River to participate in the Epicenter's Frontier Fellowship, a program started by a young female artist, Charlotte XC Sullivan. Frontier Fellows join the creative community of Epicenter for four weeks. Fellows create projects that align with Epicenter’s mission and goals as well as working on self-initiated projects. Upon arrival to the desert, Fellows find themselves immersed in the frontier lifestyle of rural Utah. The frontier experience encourages context-driven collaborative work. Epicenter provides project support through access to the rich context of Green River, critical and collaborative support, and a myriad of resources. The Frontier Fellowship enables local, national, and international creative professionals to be involved in Epicenter’s projects and programs with our citizen-designers and staff. Fellows spend 20 hours/week working on Epicenter projects and 20 hours/week on personal projects. The Frontier Fellowship is unpaid, but Fellows are given printing privileges, wifi access, workshop access, use of a rental bicycle, Family Meal Plan membership, plenty of workspace, and their work promoted for their four-weeks (at minimum). Apply for the Frontier Fellowship at http://designonthedottedline.org/.

More on Epicenter at http://ruralandproud.org/
Handmade goods for sale at Etsy Shop
Follow the Epicenter on Facebook

Memoirs of a Reformed City Girl

I hope we all had a wonderful holiday with our families. Please do embrace the blessings of the season- they are all around us- like sweetness! Ladies, I truly feel honored when one of you says yes to an invitation or steps courageously forward to tell your story. It excites me. I have learned something from each and everyone of you. Maybe not what I expect, but what was needed. We are strong- stronger than we know, and much stronger when we humble ourselves to learn and be guided. To fit RWR into my day, I'm usually up early in the quiet morning when everyone else is asleep, and I feel grateful each morning when I am blessed with yet another wonderful story. I think you all would agree that we have had a truly amazing pool of stories (women). We are all ordinary and extraordinary beings- Isn‘t that wonderful. I am in awe yet again to read today’s post. I know you will be too. Read with intent to learn something. It's surprising what you will find. Have a great day!

Meet Chaya blogging from:  http://pantryparatus.com/blog 

We were citified yuppies. We drove the approved car, lived in the approved four bedroom house in the approved neighborhood, with the approved 2.3 kids (I was pregnant) and I could give the approved answers at all of the approved yuppie social functions. Our former dream home
We did have some closet behaviors, of course. To start, we’re Christians, but that’s okay, we just gravitated towards the Christian-yups. We were a homeschooling family, knew which end of the fishing pole did what and we could muster the carpentry skills to build a semblance of a compost bin. I milled my own flour and baked constantly. The smell of freshly baked bread was my gateway drug which eventually led to dehydrating, and even pressure canning (that is when you have crossed over).

My husband stumbled upon the notion of rain barrels. Our lack of these specific self-sufficiency skills led to some “unapproved” blogs about how we could all pay a price for our failing economy and that it would be a good idea to put something away for a “rainy day”. I reviewed some homeschooling curriculum about economics and it all clicked for me, too. “Hey,” I thought, “you can’t spend what you don’t have.” So novel, I know.

That was the beginning of the journey and the point of no return was in our rear view mirror. I read Carla Emery’s “Encyclopedia of Country Living” cover to cover (yes, even appendices).
The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery We became radical to get out of debt: excessive couponing, even selling the Volvo and getting by with one car—gasp! Above all else, we spent a lot of time in prayer. Well, sometimes we didn’t pursue God—it honestly felt more like He pursued us. We sold much of what we owned, gave away the rest, and moved from one side of the country to the other.

We gave up all sanity if you were to ask anyone we knew, but we knew that we were exactly where we were supposed to be . . . beautiful Northwest Montana! Cabinet MountainsThree days in the car with three sick children. By the time we hit Wyoming, I was teetering in my resolve, “Carla Emery didn’t mention this,” I thought. Perhaps sanity is overrated. The dog was crossing both sets of her legs, so we pulled off at a quaint little general store/tackle shop/pizzeria/fireworks stand/laundry mat/gas station, miles from anywhere else.

The wind softly blew the dust up and the horse tied to the post pawed the ground and snorted. The checkout lady graciously led this whimpering mother back to the “Employees Only” utility sink, so that I could hand scrub three soiled lovies, lest the children refuse to sleep without them. Wyoming Sign
We finally arrived to the small town in Montana which we now call home, checked into a hotel, and immediately headed over to the grocery store for something we could call dinner. The Local Grocery Store
Something was strangely odd; bumblebees and princesses, dragons and race car drivers were walking across the parking lot holding hands and looking both ways. We walked through the door of the grocery store, met by a human sized M&M (green, my fave) who passed a baggie of tickets to each of us. We had arrived on Halloween. The entire town, it seems, goes to the grocery store on Halloween. The local icon known as “the Balloon Man” was there in his homemade clown costume giving hats and swords to the children and giving the adults funny anecdotes about his grandchildren. The grocery store passed out free hotdogs, chips, and soda. There were games and prizes, samples and—to the locals—a chance to catch up on the news while waiting in lines.

Culture Shock.

It’s been a tough year on many accounts and we have grown. We’ve gone from one end of the economic pendulum to the other. We survived those first few winter months simply by the grace of God and of others. I never knew generosity until I met the neighbors of my small town. I would find a mason jar of goat milk on the front porch every morning when I let the dog outside. Plates of cookies, homemade bars of soap, and even canned elk meat were given to us because “I had some extra…”
Arial View of Small Town, Montana
A year has recently passed. This year, we escorted a Tigger, an Eeyore, and a Piglet across the parking lot, holding hands and looking both ways. As children compared costumes and parents compared the week’s happenings, I asked my husband, “A whole year—what do you think now?”

“We are different people now,” he replied. “The culture shock is gone, and we are different.” We smiled somberly, as though that smile recorded the memories of a year.

Everything has been a new experience, from butchering livestock to homemade ice cream to community firewood cutting. There were our failed attempts at gardening in a harsher climate, our new friendships, and endless winter months playing board games with restless children. The people here are strong. The lifestyle is simple but never confused with easy.

I nodded in agreement, fighting back a tear. “Yes,” I whispered, “we are stronger.”

photo credits:
Cabinet Mountains: Alice and Jim Hayes, Loveless Realty
Grocery Store: Rosauers photo
Arial of Town: Kootenai River Development Council, Inc.

I would love for you to nose around Chaya's website and blog.  Perhaps do some Christmas shopping. 



Thank you Chaya!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

2012 Holiday Rural Gift Guide!

Before we get started, I want to share with you a couple of fun sites for crafty gift wrap. I have a mega roll of craft paper left from the store, so I'll be trying my luck. This photo makes trying irresistible.

Free Printable Wood Type Holiday Tag Set
                   Kraft Supplies

I wanted to give a little plug to Livy my 11 year old daughter for helping out over the weekend, and making the pretty frames around the products. If you like them, she used Picnik (the free version).

                                                                         Cowgirl Creamery

                                                                      Rag and Stone

              Cow Art and More

                                                                         Dirty Deeds Soaps

       Christmas Cards

Thanks to you all! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Closing for Thanksgiving.....Meet Us Monday For Our Rural Gift Guide!

Major hang-ups with yesterdays Feature- Sorry Sarah.  I'm looking forward to introducing her, but we just couldn't get her photos up.  Stay tuned.  We'll get her featured. 

We think family is the most important thing, so get off your computers this weekend, and embrace the blessings of the season- We are.  We'll return Monday with our Rural Gift Guide!  Can't wait! Have a wonderful holiday and don't forget to do something for those in need. 

Kind Regards,

Kasse D.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cellar Designs by Sarah Stevens

I am very excited to introduce you to our next wonderful woman. Sarah Stevens of Cellar Designs.

I have loved Sarah’s work for a long time now. When we started RWR, she was one of the first ladies I thought of, but I didn’t even know her. You ladies just blow me away on your features. I knew Sarah was talented, but I had no idea what an amazing woman she was. You will love her too! Thanks Sarah for the inspiration! You Rock!

Blogging from: The Heart of the Cellar Door

Hi all! When Kasse asked me if I would like to participate in her blog she asked if I was
a “rural” gal. Hmmmm...the answer is no...and yes! I like a big city. I love having the
choice of events, restaurants, theatre productions, shopping and more! I like a big city!
But I think my spirit is rural. I told Kasse that my dream home is an old farmhouse. I
love old, weathered things that must have a story behind their years. I’ve always been
drawn to an old barn when driving in the country. The farmland patchwork is one of the
most beautiful landscapes one can see. I live in a rural village about 20 minutes from
the “big” city. I have the best of both worlds! So, let me introduce myself..............
I am Sarah Stevens and I am a rural gal, at heart, who just likes to visit the big city.

I have midwest roots...born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. I attended both
public and parochial schools and had a pretty wonderful childhood...from what I can
remember. ;-) My parents instilled in my siblings and myself strong values....be kind, be
thoughtful, be unselfish, be smart, be creative, laugh at yourself and be generous. I am
grateful for that foundation. I went to Iowa State University where I met my husband,
Craig. He was in ROTC at ISU and then served in the US Navy as a search and rescue
helicopter pilot. We loved our life with the military! The deep sense of camaraderie,
pride in service and fun provided us with some of the best memories. The service
members and their spouses became our family. I was, and will always be, very proud of
Craig’s service to our country.

Craig and I have been married for 22 years and we are the bursting-at-the-seams-with-
pride parents of 4 children. Zack, is a student at UW Madison is most happy with a
guitar in one hand and a lacrosse stick in another. Taylor, our only daughter, is 16, a
junior and loves theatre, shopping and high school ministry! Luke, our 10 year old, is
our sweet content guy whose laugh can light up a room. And our caboose...Noah. He
is 6 3/4 (his idea for me to put that) and is a spirited redhead who keeps us all laughing.
They are my proudest accomplishments. I am honored to have the responsibility and
gift of being their mother!

After 9 years in the Navy we made the tough
decision for Craig to leave the military. This was not ever an “anti-military” decision, rather a “pro-family” one. It was hard to leave that life and the friends we had made....and many days we miss it very much(especially Craig). But it was the right decision for us. We moved to Florence, KY. We stayed in Kentucky for about 9 years, but felt the pull to be closer to family. We wanted our
children to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc more.  So we moved to Waunakee, WI 6 years ago. It was a tough move for our older 2 kids.....we were not winning any “parent of the year” awards that year! But it is amazing for us to look back now and see how God’s plan was so good and perfect. As always, when you pull the lens back you see the bigger picture.
Living back in the Madison area has enriched our lives. We found an extraordinary
church community that we are so blessed to be a part of. Zack and Taylor have thrived
in the youth ministry. They have gone on missions trips, retreats, and have traveled
to NYC, Mississippi, Chicago, Romania and Honduras with the youth group! Craig
has found his niche as a part of a fantastic cast and crew of a monthly production that
focuses on families with young children, teaching them about a different virtue each
production. He also helps with running the sound board on Sundays and is involved
in a men’s ministry breakfast each week. I have moved around a bit within our church,
helping at the info desk and some women’s ministries things. But I have finally found
my “sweet spot” in God’s plan for my serving life. I have always loved high school age
students! I am a part of a leadership team for our high school ministry. This year Craig
and I are hosting a weekly high school life group in our home. I am privileged to lead
one of the girls’ small groups. There is something very powerful in a group of teenagers
who normally wouldn’t hang out together, spending time with each other, caring about
each other and being a “team”. I absolutely love connecting with them and hopefully
helping them to love themselves, each other, the community around them, and God.
What an honor!

I have always loved to
create!! I was a hair
designer for 18 years.
I enjoyed the architecture
of a hairstyle and the
emotion it could generate.
It is that same combo
of feelings that led me to
my new business, Cellar Designs. The structure of something wooden, combined with
beautiful colors and powerful words can be so amazing! Cellar Designs started when I
was shopping with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law in our favorite Craft Antique Barn
during our annual family vacation. I saw these very cool photo box frames. I fell in
love.....then saw the price tag. I automatically thought “Craig could make these and I
could paint them”. So we did. That Christmas we made a few for gifts. That was the
beginning of something I could never have dreamed. Cellar Designs now has a shop
on Etsy and has sold over 300 items in 2 years! I love designing and creating new
signs that will speak to people and make their houses feel like homes.

Why the name “Cellar Designs”? I wrote about this in my blog, but I will share that entry
here with you.

People think that the name Cellar Designs came from fun nights hanging out with family
or friends and a bottle of wine. Some thought it was because I would cut the hair of
my family in our basement. Although those all could be reasons.....I never have really
shared the real reason....until now.


Storm cellars are a "must have" for a rural farm or home that does not have a
basement. It is necessary for protection, shelter, and security. A storm cellar that
works well is angled so debris of a storm would blow up and off of it, not blocking it so
it couldn't be opened back up. They are usually a bit away from the main house, yet
close enough so it could be reached quickly if needed.

For me, there is great                                       
beauty in a storm cellar
door. It usually has
large hinge straps that
help to keep it
closed.....but yet help it
to open up when
ready...and the coast is
clear. These straps
usually can withhold
great winds and the
elements for decades.
They just get rusty and
antiqued....but that is
what is beautiful about them.

When choosing a name for my business I had to think about what is most important
to me at my very core. For me.....that is God. I believe that God is my storm cellar
and much more. I believe that the number of storms we put Him through had to have
weathered His hinge straps! :) But...in the end.... they are strong and more beautiful
with every passing year.

So, Cellar Designs was born of my gratitude to God for taking some of  those big busts of wind for me, allowing the debris to blow off the angled dorr, and help me to know when the coast was clear for me to emerge form the cellar.                                                     

I thought I would share with you a little look into my “studio”. It really is my dining and
living rooms. I have completely taken over those 2 rooms of our home! We have
talked about adding a room to our home so there would be a legitimate space for Cellar
Designs and I’d be extremely blessed if that happens. But, until then, the “studio” it is!

My favorite piece of furniture is. It is a gorgeous old cabinet that has many different 
layers of paint and is chipping and I love it! You will never guess where I found it....at
the same craft barn I saw the first photo box!!! I use it to store all my paint, hardware,
brushes and marketing materials. A top it are some favorite signs and various treasures. 

Cellar Designs uses all the available real estate within our home to paint wooden
planks, biscuit planks together, glue and clamp signs, and stencil & vanish art. There
is not an inch of tabletop space empty!! Some people see it as chaos. I see it as
perfection!! It is my happy place these days. I love being home while the kids are at
school, listening to my favorite music (Matthew West, Adele, Glee and more), designing
layouts and painting. Then when I am done with items they line the hallway of our
home (taking up more space!!) This photo below is just a glimpse at what the “ready to
be shipped” department looks like!

My signs can be used as great descriptors of who I am,
what I care about, and what is important in my life.
I am a daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend and.... most importantly a child of God.
What an amazingly blessed life I get to live!
I hope that all of my signs speak to these blessings.......for you as well as me.

Thanks to Kasse for allowing me to be a part
your community!!
I am honored to be among so many women of
strength here at Rural Women Rock!

Many blessings to you all.... Sarah

Sarah has also just started to sell 3 signs on an awesome new Christian website.  It is www.stillthesea.com.  Go take a peek!  She also sells on ETSY .  Go give her a Rural Women Rock welcome on Facebook by liking her:)

 Thanks Sarah

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Old.....................

As most of you know, I have set aside Sundays for spiritual inspiration. I realize by the time I get this posted, it will be almost 11pm central time. Yes, I’m off track again. Don’t worry it’s 4am for me in the morning- I’m tired of being off track. I have had an overwhelming weekend to say the least. I have a few things I’d like to share this evening, some of it spiritually inspiring, and some of it not so much. Hang in there with me!

Here it goes:

A few weeks ago we made the decision to close the retail portion of our flower shop. It wasn’t a decision made in haste, as we have been considering it since early spring. It was very difficult for me to let go of the store, so it has taken some prying. I love what I do, but it had not been working for us for some time. We have been off course as a family for awhile now.  We have recognized this and decided to correct and align. We sat down three weeks ago today- the four of us, and made the decision together as a family to close Miss Duffy’s. I went in Monday morning and papered the windows, closed my online store, and began the process. It was a really rough first week, but now things have settled. I have a peace we have made the right decision for our family. I will continue the flower and plant portion of my business in a more unconventional way. We’re only on this earth once, and who says things have to be done the way they have always been done. We have realized that 90% of our business happens via the phone, so I am setting up shop in my home. I think a few will hate this idea, but I’ve had an overwhelming positive response from my loyal customers who trust me to serve them well wherever I am. We are hoping this will allow me more time at home with my family. When I am pulling all nighters for funeral work or other occasions, I can easily make a healthy meal, help with home work, and be around at bedtime. I’m excited for the change. I am excited that it’s even a possibility- I feel blessed. I really wish I’d had the courage to take this leap a few years ago- I’ve missed a lot. I have been feeling the need to disclose this to you ladies, but I wasn’t ready until now. I’m an optimistic person, so despite the uncertainty, I think this is going to be fun! I’ll keep you informed.

On the subject of Rural Women Rock:

I believe something amazing is going to happen here on RWR. When the Lord starts moving, things really do start rocking. I believe the Lord is orchestrating something here. I’m not even sure just exactly what, but I know he is in charge. I want to reiterate the fact that this site is not about me, or Janie, but about women. It’s about you ladies telling your stories, inspiring, and encouraging one another. It’s about giving rural women a voice. It’s about becoming transparent to each other so we can grow and change. I challenge you ladies to pray for the direction of this site. Pray for the Lords protection and approval of what happens here. If we are all listening to him, we can’t be off course. I think it is much bigger than we think or could imagine, but it always is when we allow the Lord to lead.  Women lets say some Rockin prayers!

I have an amazing and encouraging story to tell about an encounter I had this weekend, but I have tried to write it for too long today. It’s eating too much of my time tonight, so I will save the details until they make more sense.

I am going to share with you a challenge given to me this weekend by an amazing woman of faith. I do hope to introduce her to you soon, but until then ladies, lets take her challenge. 

First, she told me to search the scriptures for all things concerning: Wife, Mother, Woman.

You can do this with your online version of the Bible for more immediate results. Write all the scriptures you find on note cards. Put them on a ring or in a baggie and keep them in your purse. Every idle moment meditate on the scripture. Books are great, but his word is alive! It will change your life. If you find your life is not aligned with His Word make the necessary changes.

(2 Tim 16-17 NLT)
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Secondly, she told me to lift up my husband to the Lord. Praise him, encourage him, pray for him, and tell him all the wonderful things he is to you and your family. Not just today, but everyday- every chance. Make him feel handsome, sexy, and powerful. He will come to lead your family- not by nagging, controlling, or directing, but through prayer and example.

(NLT: 1 Peter3 1-2)
In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your Godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.

Didn’t read anything about nagging there, but here it is:

Better to live on the roof than share the house with a nagging wife. (GNB: Prov. 21.9)

Better to live out in the desert than with a nagging, complaining wife. (GNB: Prov. 21.19)

A nagging wife is like water going drip-drip-drip on a rainy day. How can you keep her quiet? Have you ever tried to stop the wind or ever tried to hold a handful of oil? (GNB: Prov. 27.15)

Finally, she told me to set my family down and apologize to them. Admit we’ve been off track. Talk about what has gotten us here, and how through the Lord things are going to change for us.   Make a plan for our lives. 

I know this seems very simple, but it was just what I needed, just when I needed it.  The Lord works in amazing ways.  He knew a woman I didn't know.  He knew she would listen.  She made her way to me, and over lunch on Saturday, she shared what the Lord had put on her heart for me.  I am blown away! God is good! Get busy on your cards and have a great week!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Firstlight Photography: Sue

A woman with rural spirit and inspiration, meet Sue of Firstlight Photography:  Blogging from:


Give her a big Rural Women Rock welcome!


My Love of the Country

Hello! My name is Sue and I am a fine art photographer in my spare time. I work as a part time secretary at a middle school, but that’s only three hours a day. It’s perfect for me. I tend to spend the rest of my time working my web site or out at the barn where my daughter has been taking horse back riding lessons for eight years.
Last summer we bought a horse and just love the whole experience. Me … I just write the checks, my daughter does all the riding. We are out there four times a week during the school year. But when summer comes, we’re there six days a week.
How did I get started with photography? Well, it was my major in college at Southern Illinois University way back in the dark ages before computers, digital cameras and Photoshop. I had the smell of developer and fixer on my hands every day. It was really a simple art form. We could do a little dodging in the dark room but that was about it. Though we never knew what we didn’t have. We created beautiful black and white photographs and I still have some of them. They can still hold their own against the digital images I produce today.
Horse Photograph - mustangs, wild, prairie, free - Living Free
I never got a photography job after I graduated college. Through life’s twists and turns I worked at a very small advertising agency doing desktop publishing for a number of years. Then I had my daughter. I was a stay-at-home mom for five years and then I got my job with the school district. After seven years and a terrible economy I lost my job. Now what? Well, I got back into photography. I had to teach myself Photoshop. I was very frustrated at first…but diligence and the support from family members kept me on track.
I prefer the country and all it has to offer with my photos. If you look through my web site: http://www.firstlightphoto.etsy.com you will find many barns, horses and country photographs as well as landscapes and florals.
Barn Photograph - country quiet peaceful foggy dreamy simple - Country Barn
I think the barns hold my biggest interest. I am drawn to the run down and abandoned look they have. I guess I just like everything about the country. I am definitely not much for the big city or large crowds. I have found that I like the way the horses smell. Yeah, they’re dirty, that’s okay. They’re all so different. There are 11 horses at the barn where we board our horse. They range in age from six to 22 years old. Some are older schooling horses and the others are boarder’s horses. They are all wonderful. Some get along together and some don’t. One likes to bite, a couple tend to kick, one is blind (and well loved by all). Our guy, his name is Herbie, is pretty mellow and seems to get along with all the horses. I’d never thought I could own a horse, but it’s been a great experience.
Rustic Barn Photo - white, winter, shabby, run down, heritage, americana
Well that’s me in a nutshell. I am not a city person, I don’t like to drive the Chicago expressways at all and I don’t venture into the city that much. I would much rather head toward the country any day.
Thanks Sue for sharing!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rural Janie: Janie Dunn

Who is she?

She is a wife, mom, sister, cousin, daughter, grand-daughter.
She is in no particular order a piano teacher, news lady, graphic designer, web developer, marketer, caretaker, chicken farmer, artist, gardener, seed saver and computer fixer.
She prefers driving dirt roads over sitting in traffic.
She has learned a lot of lessons in life, such as:
  • You have to be the change you wish to see.
  • What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. When you fall down get up and try again. I can accept all things. It is well.
  • Forgiveness is for your own good.
  • Patience is a muscle, which grows the more it's used.
  • The Universal Father has a way of teaching others the lessons they need to learn, so there is no need to worry about them. We each have our own set of tailored-made lessons which we usually bring upon ourselves.
  • God is Too Great To Have One Name!
God is Great
She likes: long nature hikes with the kids, watching movies with the husband, making old-fashioned fudge, Canton Lake, Oklahoma, good enchiladas.
Canton Lake
She needs help with: designing my garden after the concepts of a forest garden, dealing with the intense weather conditions, ways to find more time in the day, beginner bee keeping, canning vegetables, how to make this website better, what to do with all these chicken feathers I've collected.
She insists on trying to live life on her own terms, even though that is the hard way. She is her own boss (well, kind of). She follows a Higher Calling. She was destined to come home and get her hands dirty. She has made mistakes and always tries to make the best. She has found forgiveness. She has loved. She has lived passionately.
She is me! ruraljanie
You can catch me here at Rural Women Rock, my new hangout. I am excited to enjoy good company and have a feeling my world is about to expand yet again!
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I am the webmaster of the Rural Women Rock website. If there's something missing or gone wrong or you have something you'd like to contribute, send me an email.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Buck Up Baby: Heather Kaspar

Sales Account Executive/Auctioneer. I love how Heather is mixing it up- chasing her dreams, and doing what she loves. Rural women are doing some amazing things! Quoting Calamity Jane:"I figure if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one."
 Heather says, “I want to make a difference and I want a STRONG legacy when I leave this world”. Knocking your socks off  from: http://buckupbaby.blogspot.com/

Meet Heather Kaspar!

Hi there!! I´m Heather and I am really all kinds of things, but what moved me into the blogging world (besides my good friend Kacie over at Pistols and Cupcakes) was my decision to become an Auctioneer. I just got back this week from Auction School. To become licensed you have to take an 80 hour course (amongst other things) to get your license. Now I´m in the process of filling out all the needed paperwork and working on scheduling a date to take my state exam (another requirement). I´m SO excited!! Some of my other titles include: Christian, Mother of a 2 year old little girl, wife to my high school sweetheart, Cable TV Ad Sales Account Executive, Mentor, Texas State University - San Marcos Graduate, and...MOVIN´ AND SHAKIN´ RURAL WOMAN!
I grew up in a teeny tiny community (in the GREAT State of Texas), where I graduated with 20 other people. I was brought up around cattle auctions and started showing cutting horses at around age 12. I was also pretty active in 4-H and FFA where I showed market lambs and commercial heifers. I´ve also (within the last 10 years) taken´ a likin´ to hunting and fishing (husband´s influence).

I sell TV Advertising (on a local level) in a little coastal community close to Corpus (Rockport). We have GREAT fishing! Anyways…I started out in sales in College Station, TX (Home of the Fightin´ Texas Aggies). When I started I hadn´t even finished my college degree, but I paid for most of my way through school (besides a few scholarships and a little help with books every so often) and I´LL BE DARNED if I wasn’t going to have a “good job” when I graduated. Well…to make a LONG story short…I was good at it….still am. This job has given me the ability to learn about ALL KINDS of different businesses and help create marketing strategies that help them grow their client base. The main thing my career has done is show me that I have GRIT. You don´t really realize it REALLY until you look back and you remember where you started (no actual billing client list), notice the number of people that have walked into your life for a short while, and moved onto another profession, and realize the number of people you have helped. It´s always nice when people in a certain type of business ask: “Have you ever worked with a frame shop?...church?...outdoor shop?...mattress store?...jeweler?...restaurant? cattle genetics operation? (you better believe it)....etc.” AND I CAN SAY YES!! Of course it took close to 5 years, but I have learned A LOT about A LOT of things – through this job.
You can really get to know LOTS more about me by checking out my blog  I wear A LOT of different hats and I sit and ponder on how I manage it all and why I am the way I am. When it comes to business I feel like I´m pretty buttoned down…but not stuffy. I enjoy the company of people…ALL KINDS of people! I cherish my family and friends and am SO grateful for all the blessings the GOOD LORD has bestowed upon me. I AM BLESSED! I like to have fun and I REALLY have a hard time tolerating DISRESPECT. There is a right and wrong way to go about any given situation and I think it is important for people to take a step back and look at the entire situation before talkin´ ugly about somethin´.

I have decided that the reason I am the way I am is because of ALL of the different people that have influenced me in my life, like: The people I admire (some have no idea and most people wouldn´t guess that I´d admire), the people that make me realize what I DON´T want to be like, all the people that have taught me some sort of life lesson - whether it be nicely done OR brutally honest. Then...not letting the negativity DEFEAT me, but fight like hell to rise above it. All that started in the rough and tough years of becoming a teenager and not understanding stuff. Ultimately I had a "Comin´ to Jesus Meeting" with just me, Jesus, and God and worked it all out. I figured out who I wanted to be, thought about the people I admired, thought about the people I didn´t, and figured out what steps I was going to take to BECOME the person I wanted to be. God is there, and he guides us all. You just have to be willing to listen and DO! If we all would just DO something the Lord will light our path.

I do want to share (what I think is) the best quality of all rural people. WE ARE REAL!! I have friends and acquaintances of all kinds of different backgrounds and upbringings and I just really appreciate the people that aren´t all about TOOTIN´ THEIR OWN HORN! You know the best way to get to know someone is ask them questions about themselves….NOT tell´m all about how wonderful you are. Rural people are DOERS!! You don´t have to talk about it….JUST DO IT (like Nike says). Actions have a lot more merit (in my eyes) than words and I really think that is what sets RURAL people apart from the rest. Be a Doer….not a Tooter.
I´m sure that some you gals readin´ have had the thought: "I am bigger than what I´m doing." Well I had that thought, light bulb went off, and I made the decision to follow in my Uncle´s (cattle auctioneer) footsteps and become an AUCTIONEER! I was SO nervous at that first fundraising auction, but I opened my big mouth, said I wanted to do it and there was NO TURNING BACK. Luckily...I was pretty good at it. SHOCKED the heck out of me. I was thinking that maybe I´ll just help Uncle Mele and do this on the side. Then 6 fundraising auctions later...I have people telling me to "Keep it up....Don´t quit!" I thought to myself....no one is holding these people at gunpoint...they must really mean what they´re sayin´. I don´t really know where I´m goin´ with all this yet, but I´m gonna keep goin´ somewhere! Let me just say that going to auction school solidified it for me EVEN MORE. I have been given a NATURAL GIFT and I better do something with it. This is ANOTHER way that I can really help people and I am just tickled to pieces about it. Hence…..where Buck Up Baby! began. I was SO overwhelmed with everything that went along with me auctioneering….I needed a place to unload it all and well…The title is literally something I had to tell myself on the ride over to Plum (first auction).

Folks....it really is AMAZING how the GOOD LORD works through all of us - if we let him. Do you know how many of MY FRIENDS looked at me confused and crazy - when I told them I was going to be an auctioneer? You just don´t hear very many people talking about it…much less a young woman. All I know is I decided it was time to BUCK UP BABY! You can´t be scared...well maybe a little scared, but you still have to DO it!!
I found a quote on an AWESOME GROUP OF WOMEN´S website (The Junk Gypsies) . This is what it is:

"I figure if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one."-Calamity Jane

Now...I don´t have a clue what kind of legend I may be one day BUT I KNOW I want to make a difference and I want a STRONG legacy when I leave this world. . I ENCOURAGE every one of you to let every person you meet, every book/article you read, and every situation you encounter leave a mark on you. We learn from each other and we can ALWAYS continue to educate ourselves. The way you handle any given situation builds CHARACTER!! I want to make people PROUD of me and HELP OTHERS. That is really what it is all about!
Ladies! Don’t be scared. Buck Up Baby and let´s show the world how much RURAL WOMEN ROCK!!! I really do look forward to getting to know you ladies and lettin´ you inspire me!!