A Florken Giveaway

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As if we didn’t have enough reasons to love fall. And Fridays. And The “Florkens”.

Here’s one more…

Nikki @ Rural Rookie / Laura @ Mrs. Laura Beth / Sarah @ A Girl Smitten / Reba @ Reba K Writes
Karly Kim@Karly Kim / Kate @Another Clean Slate / Jenn @Bad Luck Jenn / Kalyn @Geez, Louise

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

So go – enter to win awesome fall goodies and get to know Kate and Adam if you aren’t already acquainted. Spoiler alert: they’re awesome.

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Perfect…or Positive?

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perfection

I strive to be a positive person. I consider myself an optimist.

I’m always not as chipper and cheerful as I’d like to be, but I really do try to find the good in every situation. When something unpleasant pops up, I’m the annoying girl who points out the one random (and usually small) bit of good in the mess. “But hey, at least…”

Seeing and focusing on the positive aspect of a situation – instead of dwelling on the negative – makes me a happier person. If I focus on the bad and let that be all that I can see, how can I be happy? Plus, perpetually negative people suck the life out of me (and, I’ve found, everyone else around them), so I make it a point to look for the good. Who wants to be a Debbie Downer all the time? Not this girl.

It is a choice I make. It may not always be the easy choice, but I try. Some days, it would be so much simpler to curl up in a ball and let myself believe I am the victim in my own life story. But I’m not. So I keep reminding myself that there is a little bit of good, a tiny glimmer of hope and joy in everything that happens. The good may not be big, it may not outweigh the bad, but it’s there. So I choose to seek it out and appreciate it.

This attitude touches every aspect of my life – I want it to! – so I’m sure it affects my writing. Despite the occasional rant, I make a real effort to keep the content of my blog upbeat. I try to avoid complaining about things I can’t change, I look for beauty in everyday life, and I find (and focus on) the silver lining of the darkest storm clouds.

Lately though, I’ve been wondering: does my positive attitude come across as me painting a picture of perfection? Where is the line between trying to find the good, and “sugar-coating” my life?

Reading about someone’s “perfect” life is, frankly, annoying as f*ck. Seriously, nobody’s life is perfect. We are human – we make mistakes, we make messes, we trip and fall and spill our wine. It happens. But does my focus on the positive aspects of life come across as me trying to portray a perfect life/home/relationship?

I truly believe that my positive and upbeat “voice” is a true reflection of who I am in real life. My life is far from perfect. My relationships with the people around me are far from perfect. My home is far from perfect. But I make a choice not to focus on the imperfections. I am a happier person when I give my attention to the positive aspects of any situation. That doesn’t mean that the negative parts aren’t there or that I don’t acknowledge them, it just means that I’m choosing not to let them override the good. I make the decision to work around them, improve them or simply not let them drag me down.

I don’t believe in wasting my energy on things I’m not willing to do something about. If I have the ability to change a negative situation, or at least change how I look at it, I honestly believe that it is MY responsibility to do so. My happiness is my own responsibility. And if I choose not to take responsibility for my own happiness, what right do I have to bitch about it if/when I end up [shocker!] unhappy?

So I try to be upbeat. I muddle through the bad, but I look for the good. I choose to be positive about the world around me. I seek out that little glimmer of hope and beauty. Because it makes me happy.

That is me. It’s not perfect. It’s positive.

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The Dog Can’t Be THAT Smart…Can He??

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Yesterday morning started out like any other. A bit chillier than we’re used to, but normal. (Despite the 80+ degree days, we’ve had temperatures dip below 40 degrees some nights.) I woke up, let the dogs out for their morning potty, fed them breakfast and poured myself a big cup of coffee.

Right away, Joey started whining at my feet. Sometimes he “forgets” to potty while he’s outside because he’s too busy tormenting Daisie, or sometimes he just has a lot of energy and just wants someone to play with him. Annoyed, I went back to the door and opened it for him to go outside again. He didn’t. I picked up a toy and dangled it to see if he wanted to play – he didn’t.

I had no idea what he wanted, but he continued to cry at my feet and would not leave me alone. He was pacing around the living room, going back to the fireplace and (I assumed) checking out his reflection in the glass. (He has a recent fascination with the fireplace – he’ll climb up on it and watch himself in the glass.) Finally, he went back to the fireplace, propped his front feet up on the stone ledge, and whined some more.

“Is this what you want?”, I asked and flipped the switch to turn the gas fireplace on. Never did I think that’s actually what he wanted. He prefers to be cold most of the time, and really, what dog begs to have a fire in the fireplace? Dogs, or at least my dogs, beg for food, water, potty breaks, and attention. Not fire.

As soon as he saw the flames light up, Joey curled up in a ball right in front of the fire (not a normal spot for him). He slept there soundly for more than an hour, peaceful and content.

There’s no way he bugged me because he wanted the a fire to nap by, right? I mean, he’s a 10 month old puppy – he can’t really be that smart…can he?

I have no photos of Joey curled by the fireplace (sorry), so here are a few pictures of him sleeping when he was teeny tiny (you’re welcome).

JoeySleeps2

 

JoeySleep1

 

JoeySleeps4

 

JoeySleeps3

 

 

Also, a bit of news: this is the 100th post here on Rural Rookie. So, here’s a picture of Joey all dressed up in a bow tie. Clearly, he’s celebrating the blog milestone.

JoeyBow

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In Which She Rants About The Internet

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This post contains a lot of bitching about things I can’t control. You were warned.

So, as I’ve already gushed, something super awesome happened on Wednesday night: Happy Hour Hangout. I’ve already said it about forty billion times, but I’ll say it again: It was awesome. The whole freaking experience rocked. Except for this one little thing…

MY EFFING INTERNET FAILED ME.

FAILED.

DURING THE COOLEST BLOGGING THING I’VE EVER DONE.

Internetdown

See, we live in the sticks. Like, Amish-country sticks. So my internet options are very, very limited (and pretty dang crappy). Oh and because the universe loves to screw with me, living in the sticks means we need the internet even more, because we need it for not-normally-internet-dependent stuff.

Cable TV? Not an option for us, because there are literally no physical cables run to our corner of the world. Get a satellite service, or Netflix/Hulu, or don’t ever watch TV. We have Netflix and Hulu subscriptions so we need internet service if we want to watch TV.

Cell phone service? HA. Good luck with that, because there is zero cell service for at least 15 minutes in any direction from our house. Sometimes, if the stars align, you can get a text message out. Sometimes.  To combat this little problem, Mr. B and I have a network extender from our wireless carrier that provides cell phone service at our house. It’s a neat little device, but it plugs into the internet.

Let’s recap, shall we? I enjoy being connected to the world, plus I’m a blogger, so I like/need/want the internet to be available to me at all times. No internet means no TV. No internet means no cell phone. Also, this is not a problem I ever encountered before I moved to our little town, so such inconveniences can sometimes result in a major hissy fit.

We have DSL through the (only) local phone company. I hate it. I hate them. Let’s just say the service is unreliable and the customer service is…lacking. One time, Mr. B called to inquire about a seriously slow connection, and you know what they told him? It looks like there’s a lot of people in your area using the internet right now, so that slows it down. That’s just how it is. Excuse me? So you are telling me that your little internet-providing-setup can’t handle a normal Sunday evening’s traffic in a sparsely populated area? And I just have to deal with it? AWESOME GUYS. Keep up the good work.

Such a craptastic situation brings out the American consumer in me, so I shopped around for other internet providers. I mean, I’d rather give my money to someone else who can do a better job of providing me with the service I’m paying for. I Googled, asked around, and even picked up a phone book (remember those??) looking for options. Here’s what I learned: I can stick with the stellar service I’m getting with my normal provider or get internet through a satellite dish.

Since I’m all kinds of type-A, I made a pros and cons list for switching to satellite.

  • Cons: it’s slower, crazy expensive, and requires us to also have satellite TV, which is also stupid expensive.
  • Pros: it’s not the DSL from the useless wads at the phone company.

Faced with those facts, we decided to stick with our current internet provider because it’s the lesser of two evils and we need freaking internet because I’m all spoiled like that.

The thing is- we’ve had a pretty good stretch lately. It’s been a while since we’ve had a complete internet failure. It’s not perfect -we can’t use anything else internet when someone is talking on their phone because we live in a world where Hulu and Facebook kill cell service (the wireless service booster hogs a lot of internet, and as we learned earlier, it’s in limited supply ’round these parts)- but we work around it and haven’t had much trouble.

Until, of course, I sat down to video chat with some of the coolest kids in blogland. That’s when the internet told me to suck it. As soon as I pulled up the Google Hangout on my laptop, I got an error that my internet connection was failing. Then I got kicked out of the chat. I was able to rejoin, but it happened repeatedly for the whole first hour. I was able to catch most of the conversation, but this kept me from participating much. Plus, I felt so bad that the other ladies in the Hangout had to keep listening to the stupid ding every single time I disappeared and reemerged – they were all so cool about it, but it had to have been annoying. Sorry, everyone!  

Eventually, I switched to my phone, which wasn’t perfect (I did get booted one more time) but it was a huge improvement. I was even able to participate in the conversation!

Still, the internet situation around these parts really chaps my ass.

I love living in the country – I really do! – but it can be a huge pain in the butt. Especially when I’m trying to make some bloggy friends.

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Happy Hour Hangout (aka – The Most Brilliant Idea Ever)

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I’m overflowing with so much excitement and happiness that I really don’t even know where to begin here.

Tuesday. We’ll start with Tuesday.

On Tuesday, I got an email from Ashten inviting me to the very first Happy Hour Hangout ever. They had an extra opening at the last minute and she wanted me to join. Color me honored. Seriously.

Actually…maybe we should back up to a few weeks ago, to when I first learned about the Happy Hour Hangout idea. From the moment I read about it, I thought it was such a great idea. Then why weren’t you already a part of it??, you ask. Because I’m socially stunted, that’s why. I can be very awkward and shy. Basically, I lack the ability (confidence?) to put myself out there. I’m working on it.

So I knew that Ashten and Amber were doing something super cool, and naturally, I counted myself out before the game even started. That was oh-so-stupid of me, and I’m beyond thrilled that fate – and Ashten and Amber – intervened. Because when I got the email, I already knew about the awesomeness and I already wanted to be a part of it – and this time I couldn’t say no.

I mean, what was I going to do? Admit to them that I have an irrational fear of putting myself out there? Obviously not. I can only admit to the whole internet that I’m silly and awkward, not the one or two people who email me. So I said “hell yeah I’m in”, and I don’t regret it for one single moment.

Can I please tell you how awesome it was? It. Was. Awesome.

Happy Hour Hangout is the brainchild of Ashten and Amber and it is quite possibly the best idea ever. It’s a sponsorship program unlike any other. How many sponsorship options give you a chance to sit down with 9 other bloggers and actually discuss blogging?  It was a great group – in addition to our beautiful hosts we had Megan from Yammering Yankee, Kate (and eventually Adam too!) from The Florkens, Erin from Hooley with a Z, Laura Beth from Mrs. Laura Beth, Margaret from Life After Athens, Brit from Wine, Cheese, and Workout Capris, and Alexis from Lovely Lexe. Seriously, if you don’t already read these blogs, you need to go get yourself acquainted with each and every one of them right away.

The first hour I had technical difficulties that kept me from contributing much, but luckily I was able to see/hear enough to follow along. (So sorry to everyone who had to listen to the stupid dinging every time I got kicked out and had to re-join!!) Eventually, I switched from my laptop to my phone and had more of a chance to interact with everyone- but even if I’d been limited to observing the whole time, it would have still been an amazing experience. Can I just tell you how fabulous these bloggers are?! I was thrilled to find that everyone was exactly who I’d imagined them to be after reading their blogs. They are all beautiful, hilarious, and so smart! We had a few drinks, exchanged ideas, confided in each other, and laughed a lot.

We talked about everything – building your brand, deciding what to write about, managing social media and sponsorships, deciding if/when to tell family and friends about your blog, and so much more. It was a thoughtful, honest, and respectful conversation about something we love doing – blogging. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to be a part of something so inspiring and fun!

It was such an incredible experience that I signed up immediately for the next one. I can’t believe I almost missed out on something so fabulous! If you want in on it (obviously you do), go visit Always Ashten or Mr. Thomas and Me. Right now. Do it.

[Sadly, the technical difficulties also prevented me from getting any photos/screenshots of the chat, but trust me – this was the prettiest group of ladies, like, ever.]

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Walkin’ On Sunshine

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September was a big month for this little ol’ blog of mine: I opened up more sponsorship options, paid it forward bloggy-style, participated in my very first giveaway, and got nominated for not one, but two Sunshine Awards (my very first awards ever)! So obviously, I’m pretty stoked.

On Friday, Miss Kate gave me a Sunshine shout-out, and the very next day, the lovely Nina did the same. I’m feeling so honored right now!

SunshineAward

Since they are separate awards with different questions and rules, I’m going to address each individually. I’ll start today with Kate’s, since her nomination was the first one I received.

I have to answer a list of questions provided by Kate, and the nominate 10 fellow bloggers to answer the same questions.

Super simple, so here we go:

Where were you born? In the suburbs of the Steel City – Pittsburgh, PA.

Do you prefer romantic comedies or suspense thrillers? Both – it depends on my mood, but I’m more likely to choose a suspense thriller when I have Mr. B to snuggle up with on the couch.

What is your favorite sport (to watch or participate in)? I love football, both college (Let’s go Mountaineers!) and professional (Steelers, duh). I also like watching hockey (Go Pens!) and playing tennis. And I love to wakeboard, does that count as a sport??

What is your favorite sound? This is a tough one. I’ll go with rustling leaves, peeper frogs or seagulls and crashing waves if I have to narrow it down.

Coke or Pepsi? I don’t drink a lot of pop, but Diet Pepsi every time.

Do you have a special talent? Umm…uhh…no. I can do this gross/oddball thing with my possibly-double-jointed pinkie toe, but I don’t think that counts. And it’s gross. So, no. No special talents for this girl.

PC or Mac? PC, I don’t have much experience with Macs.

What is your favorite vacation spot? Anywhere I haven’t already been. I love exploring new places and trying new things.

Do you collect anything? Not really. If Mr. B would let me I’d collect furry creatures (draft horses, goats, miniature ponies, miniature donkeys, baby alpaca…you know, the pets every girl should be able to bring home), but he’s a spoilsport like that. I used to collect porcelain masks, but they’ve just been taking up space in my parents attic since I left for college. I do have a pretty stellar wine cork collection going on, but that’s just because I like wine and managed to convince myself that I’ll eventually use them for a Pinterest craft.

If you could instantly be an expert in any field, what would it be? Wine. I think it would be so cool to be a sommelier at a fancy restaurant. Or photography. I wish I could capture and share all of the beautiful sights out there. Or psychology. I’d love to know what makes people tick. Or aviation. I want to fly a plane, but I also want to understand the physics behind it. Clearly, my interests are all over the place. I like to learn.

There are so many amazing blogs out there, but I had to narrow it down to ten. I really love all of these blogs and I want to recognize them each for the many positive things they contribute to the blogworld! My nominations for the Sunshine Award are:

Adventures of Kathryn

Always Ashten

Boone + Owl

Dog Hair is an Accessory

The Florkens

The Fussy Britches

The Girl Who Loved to Write

It’s All In The Details

Life Style Love

Mrs. Laura Beth

Stay tuned later this week for more Sunshine-y goodness when I answer Nina’s questions!

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I Don’t Even Know What I Effed Up, But It’s Working Now (So Let’s #backthatazzup!)

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On Fridays, this happens:


 Whitney over at I Wore Yoga Pants invites everyone to put a song in their Friday post and link up with her for #backthatazzup Friday. Since I think this is a fabulous idea, I wanted to join in.

Trouble was, I couldn’t get Grooveshark to embed properly in my posts, so I was stuck using YouTube videos each Friday. Not a huge deal, but I was afraid embedded videos were slowing down the load time for you fine folks. Not ideal. Luckily, Ms. Yoga Pants also created a handy Grooveshark tutorial to help out us technologically-challenged kids.

Several weeks ago, I sat down with the tutorial, created a little Grooveshark account for myself and got busy embedding. Except, it didn’t work. Instead of a song in my published post, I got this:

GroovesharkError1

 

I wasn’t entirely sure why, but clearly something went wrong. I suspected it was because the tutorial was based on Blogger, rather than WordPress, which is the platform I use. So I blamed WordPress and took to Google where I found…nothing very helpful. There was talk of outdated plug-ins and a number of codes to try but in the end I kept getting this:

GroovesharkError1

 

And a little bit of this:

GroovesharkError2

 

Not cool, dude. Not cool.

I spent hours fiddling with HTML codes and even the Flashplayer program on my laptop, thinking maybe that was the problem. I eventually gave up out of frustration, and vowed to figure it out another day. I even made it a goal on my 17 in 17 list.

Over the next few weeks, I spent even more hours searching through Google and WordPress.org’s Support page, testing out every theory that I came across, and I still couldn’t make it work.

I sat down this morning to try AGAIN, but this time I went back to the tutorial first. I followed all the steps thinking that maybe I could find the solution if I could pin-point the problem. I hopped over to Whitney’s post, carefully followed each step, and…it worked. Just like that. It f*cking worked.

What. The. Hell.

I could swear I did the same exact thing several times that first day, and it never worked.

So I’m sitting in front of my computer, all “what the eff, Grooveshark?” and “what the eff, WordPress?”, but let’s be honest, it was probably my own fault. I don’t know what I did, but it’s likely my own fault that it didn’t work.

So, “what the eff, Nikki?”

Anywho, the moral of the story is this: I screwed something up at some point, made my own life harder than it needed to be and now I can #backmyazzup the right way. Oh, and Whitney’s tutorial was totally on point all along. Even for WordPress users.

This is probably my new favorite song, I’ve been singing it all week.

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You Really Never Know What You Might Find In There…

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Did you see Sarah’s post over on Venus Trapped In Mars earlier this week about what she’s got going on in her purse?  She cracks me up, but I found it so intriguing! There’s something about seeing what’s in someone’s bag that I find to be so insightful. (Is that odd?) Naturally, my first thought was ohhh I want to do this!, followed quickly by hmm…better see how gross it is first.

Lucky for you (and much to my surprise) it wasn’t as filled with trash as I initially expected. What’dya know.

I’m a bit of an open book. Maybe my life is just a bit too boring, but aside from some seriously unfortunately school pictures from junior high, I don’t have much that I care about keeping hidden. So from the time we started dating, I’d invite Mr. B to grab whatever he needed from my purse. Except, here’s how it would actually play out:

Mr. B: Do you have any gum?

Me: In my purse, outside pocket.

Mr. B: [Brings me my purse. Usually holding it with out-stretched arms like it’s a bomb that may explode at any moment.]

Me: [Retrieves gum and hands it to Mr. B] You know, you could just get it yourself. That’s why I told you exactly where to find it; I really don’t care if you go in my purse.

Mr. B: Oh, Ok. I just didn’t want to go through your purse. [Still holding purse like it might sting him because I’m so amused by his discomfort that I continue to let him hold it.]

Me: No biggie, now you know.

…Until the next time he needs something that happens to be in my purse, when this exact scene replays itself again.

At first, I thought it was adorable. Oh, how sweet! He respects my privacy! Not even a little bit necessary but awww love him! But after a few years together, I’m starting to think he’d just rather not deal with the hot mess that is my handbag. It’s legit. You really never know what you are going to find in there. Here’s what’s going on with my purse today:

WhatsInMyBag

 

1// The bag. I adore Michael Kors, but I’m also kinda poor. I scored this on clearance at Macy’s. Oh, and I had a gift card. So let’s not pretend I’m all fancy with my designer goods. Also, it’s the size of a small carry-on so I love it even more because I can unnecessarily tote my entire life around.

2// Joey’s new harness because he was too chubby for his old one (and he can magically slip the collar off of his head when he doesn’t feel like being on a leash anymore.) He’s now officially a medium-sized dog. *Tear* our little baby is growing up.

3// My MK wallet/wristlet. When I don’t feel like carrying luggage around this puppy can also fit my cell phone (sans-cover) and a lip gloss. Again, don’t be impressed; I scored it on sale at Zappos.

4// A squished pack of gum with one and a half sticks of gum left. Yes, sometimes a whole piece is too much for me so I chew half pieces. Feel free to judge me.

5// A selection of lip glosses that I always have on hand but rarely use – including Smurfett Mood lip gloss (yep like a mood ring). I know, I’m an adult. Whatev, I love it.

6// Burt’s Bees lip balms. I have these stashed everywhere – I love them.

7// Day Planner. I’ve tried SO MANY TIMES to switch to my phone calendar but I just can’t. I’m old-school like that.

8// Notebook. For notes and such. Usually used for grocery lists, to-do lists and blog ideas, but it’s pretty universal.

9// Earrings.  No idea why they were in my purse, but I had been looking for them for a while so I was pretty pleased to find them.

10//  9 hair bands (in assorted colors, because duh I need options), 3 bobby pins, 2 jumbo bobby pins and 1 mini hair claw. I have a lot of hair, and I never know when it will annoy me. Also, I have this theory that every time I have zero hair ties I end up needing one, but if I have, oh say, a dozen or so I won’t ever need to use any of them. Obviously there is no middle ground, so I can’t just carry one or two.

11// A sample chewy…something(?) from the checkout counter at GNC.

12// The business card of a rodeo event coordinator. Because we live in the country and play with horses and cows.

13// Fingernail clippers and gold nail polish. I have no idea. I guess at some point I thought I’d give myself a mani on the run??

14// Lotion. It annoys the crap our of me when my skin feels dry.

15// Allegra. I puff. And itch. Especially when the leaves fall.

16// Car keys. And house keys. And the only bottle openers we can ever find. (Look close, there are two bottle openers. One looks like a regular key.)

17// Wadded up receipts and gum wrappers. Usually there are many, many more and they are accompanied by crumpled, expired coupons.

18// A Tick Twister for removing ticks because I’m a fur mama. (See also: I live in the woods.)

19// Keys for the farm buggy/the vehicle that gets me out of the driveway in the winter.

20// An assortment of cheap sunglasses. My sunglasses theory is similar to my hair band theory except with this addition: the cheaper the sunglasses, the less likely I am to lose them.

21// My cell phone. We have a love/hate relationship but I really couldn’t live with out it.

22// Not pictured: mystery crumbs. I rarely put food in my purse, and when I do, it’s a granola bar still in the wrapper. I have no idea where the crumbs come from, but they kind of gross me out.

Honorable mentions (not in the purse right now, but they can usually be found there):

HonMentionBag

23// Makeup bag. Often accompanies me everywhere I go, but rarely gets opened once I leave the house, despite containing additional hair ties which I clearly need.

24// My camera. The good blogger in me has intentions of taking pictures of everything I do/see/eat, but the bad blogger in me drinks wine and forgets. Or drinks wine and takes blurry “action shots”. Whoops.

So, yeah, there’s a lot going on in there. I get why Mr. B is afraid to blindly stick his hand in my purse. You really never knows what you might find in there.

What’s lurking in your handbag?

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A Blogger Saved My Life Giveaway!

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Happy Monday folks! Something big is going on, and I’m so excited!

A few weeks ago, the lovely Laura Beth over at Mrs. Laura Beth invited me to participate in a giveaway. My very first giveaway to be exact. If you aren’t already familiar with her, you should go check out her blog right away. Go. Do it. I’ll wait.

See? She’s adorable, right?

And check out this awesome giveaway loot:

Giveaway

 

Pretty fabulous right?! So be sure to enter to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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My Little Blog Is Growing Up

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I’m super stoked to announce that Rural Rookie is now offering sponsorship ads!

I didn't have a more appropriate visual for this post. So here's a photos of the pups frolicking through the hay field. They are just filled with joy over blog sponsorship ads, obviously.

I didn’t have a more appropriate visual for this post. So here’s a photos of the pups frolicking through the hay field. They are just filled with joy over the new sponsor options, obviously.

My monthly page views have been steadily increasing since I started this blog, but the number of views last month was more than double that of the previous month. So in honor of my little blog’s growth spurt and my fabulous readers (hiiiii new friends!), I’ve decided to branch out into the wild world of sponsorships.  I’ve offered free swaps (which are still available!) for about two months now, but I’ve added a few more options. Check out the options below or hop over to my Sponsor page for all the details.

 

 

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