Celeste Comm is now on Etsy!

Things are as crazy as ever in the Harned house.

Lorelei is walking and climbing and nothing in our house is safe anymore.

Aaron is staying busy at Harned’s Drive-In and we’re both ready for a break when the restaurant closes to clean in a few weeks.

Our three adorable nieces spent the three weeks here bouncing between their grandparents, great-grandmother and our house. (Which Lorelei absolutely loved!)

On top of it all, Celeste Communications launched the Etsy shop!

etsy opening cover photo 2

I started kicking around the idea of adding an online store to Celeste Comm in December when after Christmas, friends kept mentioning that they didn’t realize they could have had me design gifts for them.

After a few months of research, I floated the idea by Aaron. As my trusty “CFO,” he did even more research and soon jumped on board.

We decided Etsy was the right fit for Celeste Comm and then began researching all the in’s and out’s and rules of owning an Etsy shop.first etsy order for blog

All the while I was designing. Wedding invitations, metal signs, greeting cards, birthday party invitations, save-the-dates. You name it!

The Celeste Comm shop opened on June 25 and two days later, with no promotion on Facebook or Pinterest or anything like that, I made my first sale.

To say we were excited would be the understatement of the year!

I kicked off the grand opening on my Facebook page on July 10 and was completely overwhelmed by the support from my Facebook fans and twitter and instagram followers.

Thank you all for your kind words, retweets, shares and pins. You’re the best!

The shop is off to a busy start and I’m loving every minute of it.

If you’d like to browse my shop, please visit: www.celestecomm.etsy.com

How you can help the farm families affected by the Oklahoma tornadoes

Like many of you, my thoughts and prayers have been with the families whose lives were literally uprooted by the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma on Monday.

I can not imagine what it must be like to lose your home, neighborhood and loved ones all in a matter of minutes.

One group of tornado victims lost their livelihood as well: the many family farmers and ranchers in the storm’s path.

"Rescue workers recover a horse from a destroyed barn." Photo and caption from the Associated Press

“Rescue workers recover a horse from a destroyed barn.” Photo and caption from the Associated Press

Farmers and ranchers lost barns, storage sheds and shops that housed millions of dollars of livestock or equipment.

Their crop fields were ravaged and their pasture fences destroyed.

When many of their neighbors return to work in their offices, these farmers will still be cleaning up debris.

When their friends are once again bringing home a paycheck, these farmers will still be a long way from being ready to raise animals or crops again.

My heart goes out to these hard working families because I know they have a long road ahead of them.

My friend Holly Carroll, a former Kentucky FFA state officer and agriculture educator, now works for Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

Yesterday, she shared with me one way that we can help the Oklahoma farm families affected by the tornadoes by donating to the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation.

In a facebook message she said,

“At this point we look at it like a marathon, not a sprint. We are trying to think long term for clean up on the farms.”

Holly said they plan to use donations to purchase the basics for rebuilding and cleaning up farms, such as gloves, shovels, rakes, etc…

If you’d like to donate, mail a check to:

Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation
Attn: Monica Wilke
2501 N Stiles
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Please make checks out to Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation and write “tornado relief” on the memo line or an enclosed note.

If you’d like more information or have questions, you can contact Holly Carroll directly by phone at 405-301-6610 or email at holly.carroll@okfb.com.

Most of all, keep these farming and ranching families in your thoughts and prayers. They have a long, hard road ahead of them but if they’re anything like the farm families I know (and I have a feeling they are) they won’t stop working until their farms are in even better shape than before.

Oklahoma FFA Chapter hosts livestock show for special needs students

Through my work with the Kentucky FFA Association, I have the privilege of working some truly amazing agriculture teachers.SOULS

I get to photograph and video teachers who are changing their students lives every day, both in the classroom and in their FFA activities.

It doesn’t get much better than that!

The biggest FFA event of the year is the Kentucky FFA Convention in June.  As I write this post, that’s a mere 33 days away. (Not that anyone is counting!)

As I’m sure you can imagine, things are starting to get stressful.

On Tuesday morning, I was stressed out about trying to get a big FFA project finished as well as keeping up with my other clients and somehow finding time to write a blog post, all while taking care of a teething Lorelei.

When Aaron called to check in on things before the restaurant opened, I spent the entire conversation complaining about all the things I needed to do and how I had reached the point of being so stressed out that I just wanted to run away.

Instead of joining in on the pity party like I wanted him to, Aaron insisted that I watch a YouTube video come across earlier that morning. He promised it would make me feel better and remind me what really matters.

5 minutes later, my entire outlook on life had changed.

You absolutely MUST watch this video, but to sum it up, the FFA chapter at Noble High School in Oklahoma hosts a livestock show each year for special needs students.

The FFA members pair up with the show participants to teach them how to care for their animals, fit/prepare them for a show and then help them exhibit the animals in a show.

This video touched every sentimental bone in my body.

In 2006, my sister Anna made the Ky State Fair Sale of Champions. Even though she was 11 years old, the banner was almost as long as her.

In 2006, my sister Anna made the Ky State Fair Sale of Champions. Even though she was 11 years old, the banner was almost as long as her.

Having a sister with physical special needs, I’ve seen first hand how livestock shows can be a level playing field for children who often can’t compete in the same way as their peers in sports or other extracurricular activities.

Showing livestock is the only thing that all 5 of the Laurent kids could do together. I can’t even put into words how special that is for our family.

I want to congratulate these amazing agriculture educators and FFA members for making this program a reality for a very deserving group of students.

Words can’t describe the impact you are making on those students and their families.

If you ever need a judge, just let me know. I can’t imagine a higher honor.

Note: I realize that this video is a few years old, but with only 350 views I thought it was a story that hadn’t been shared nearly enough. If anyone knows of any more up to date information about this program, please share it in the comments.

Baby Harned isn’t a baby anymore…

My what a year it has been.

Our first family photo.

Our first family photo.

One year ago I became a Mommy.

Aaron handed me the most beautiful, fat, pink bundle of blankets I’d ever seen and I fell more in love with the both of them than I ever thought possible.

Its been a long year but at the same time it has flown by. Its been a stressful one. A rewarding one.

A year full of love and laughter, late nights and early mornings.

I’ve watched Lorelei become a little person full of energy, personality and stubbornness (who knows where she got that from?)

Lorelei has been the number one reason why this blog has been neglected this year.

I constantly told myself that many of my readers were parents and they would understand. I guess if you’re reading this then that’s probably true.

I’ve thought a lot about how to document the past year on my blog. Instead of trying to capture it in words, I’ve decided to let my photographs narrate the story.

Besides, it’s a lot cuter that way!

Continue reading

HSUS sponsors an episode of Curious George

Since my daughter Lorelei is only 10 months old, she doesn’t watch much television.

georgeWhen she’s teething and fussy or isn’t feeling good, though, we often cuddle up together in a recliner and watch cartoons.

I always put on PBS Kids.

(With the exception of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, we’ve been known to do the hot dog dance around here a time or two!)

The shows are educational, there’s no commercials and usually the shows are based on books, which I love!

Curious George is one of my favorites.

That little monkey is always learning important lessons that many small children can learn from.

On February 4th, there will be a new episode of Curious George focusing on animal shelters and sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

Anyone else see the irony there? Continue reading

Bon voyage, Castle!

At an FFA event in the spring of 2006, I met a girl from the Todd County FFA chapter.

A little over a month later, we were elected to be regional officer teammates.

Castle and I on a GSP field trip in the summer of 2006.

Two months after that we set out to spend 5 weeks at the Governor’s Scholars Program, both with the focus area of agribuisness and biotechnology.

By the end of that summer, there was no doubt in my mind that she would be one of my best friends for years to come.

Her name was Ashlee but since there were so many other “Ashley’s” in the world, she’d forever be known by her last name: “Castle.”

Over the next four years we’d both be state FFA officers (on different teams) and graduate with agriculture degrees (from different schools).

We ate way too much sushi, brownie batter cookies and learned valuable lessons about cooking (like not to microwave eggs!)

We comforted each other through tragedy and helped each other celebrate some of life’s happiest moments.

When I look back on it, our friendship is kind of ironic because Castle and I really don’t have that much in common. Continue reading

A letter to fair-goers from a livestock exhibitor

During my many years showing livestock, my friends and I always talked about what we as livestock exhibitors wished we could tell everyone who attended the Kentucky State Fair.This livestock show mom shares her tips to keep your family and the animals safe at the state fair. #stockshowlife #statefair

This year, I finally took the time to write it all down.

While I do mention specifics about the Kentucky State Fair, I’m sure that the same tips could apply to any state. My hope is that these tips will help the showmen, fair goers and livestock have a safe and enjoyable state fair.

Dear Fair-goer,

I’ve been showing pigs at the Kentucky State Fair since I was a child and over the years I’ve noticed a thing or two about you.

In some ways, you and I have a lot in common. We’re both excited to take in the sights, do a little shopping and eat an ice cream cone the size of our head.

There is one key difference between you and I, however… I am here to show my livestock. Continue reading

How to cook fresh green beans

My absolute favorite thing about summer is fresh produce.

I grew up with a huge garden and if there was one thing my parents knew how to grow it was green beans.

In fact, my brother “Bud” and I started our first business when we were children picking/selling the surplus green beans to my dad’s coworkers.

So when Aaron and I started planning our garden, we never questioned if we’d grow green beans, just how many rows of them we’d plant!

We were so excited that despite drought and record setting heat we picked a big batch of green beans this week!

Fresh green beans can be intimidating if you’ve only prepared them from a store bought can but trust me, the extra work is definitely worth it.

There’s something nostalgic about Southern style green beans cooked “low and slow” that you just can’t help but love. Continue reading

My Sister the Pork Movie Star

On this blog, I often write about complex aspects of food and farming and interact with my predominately adult readers.

Renee with one of our piglets at a school assembly in March of 2011.

My sister Renee, on the other hand, has always preferred to teach children about our farm.

She’s brought our pigs to local schools and throughout high school provided the pigs for the local 3rd grade farm field trip.

Renee knows that its important that kids today learn the basics of where their food comes from.

I’m very proud of her for being a part of a the Kentucky Farms Feed Me virtual field trip series to help students across Kentucky learn just that!

The camera crew met up with Renee at one of her favorite places – a hog show!

A screenshot of Renee talking about caring for pigs at the North American International Livestock Expo.

In the video, you’ll hear her discuss what showing pigs is all about and some basics of caring for pigs.

The virtual field trip wraps up with a trip to Purnell’s “Old Folks” Sausage Company in Simpsonville, Ky. to see how it goes from pig to pork.

If you’re a teacher interested in using these videos and their coordinating lesson plans in your classroom, you can find more information on the Kentucky Farms Feed Me website. (Note: Not all of the content is up yet but according to the site it will all be ready to go by August 1, 2012).

From Pig to Pork from Kentucky Farms Feed Me on Vimeo.

 

Gardening with our nieces

Every summer, my nieces from Louisville come spend a few weeks in West Kentucky with their grandparents.

Its always a lot of fun for us because we get to share our day to day lives with them instead of just holiday festivities.

Aaron and I have always tried to make sure that even though they live in a city, they still learn where their food comes from.

In the past, we’ve brought them to the Kentucky State Fair or read books about farming.

This year, we’re taking a more hands-on approach: putting them to work in our garden!

Both Aaron and I grew up with families who had huge gardens so we knew we wanted our own this summer.

Since summer is also a busy time at the restaurant, Aaron knew the things that needed to be picked daily would likely fall on me so he put in a raised bed right outside our back door for the tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers.

Yesterday, we decided to let our nieces start helping out by weeding the raised bed.

Then Uncle Aaron showed them the “baby tomatoes” that are already starting to grow.

They were pretty excited about the little green tomatoes and said they’d help us keep an eye on them and see when they’ll start turning red.

Since they’ll be here for a few more weeks, we’re hoping some of the produce will be ready for them to help us pick!

(Though the youngest informed me that she wasn’t eating a cucumber unless I made it into a pickle!)

And don’t think Lorelei has gotten out of helping in the garden.

A few weeks ago I snapped one of her helping Daddy water the raised bed and yesterday she helped me “supervise” and photograph her cousins.

Hopefully in a few weeks we’ll give her the same job her Uncle Daniel did when he was a baby: help carry the tomatoes!