About Me

Kate Gone Country…and Back

Kathleen Ward Rhoden

Welcome! My name is Kathleen Ward Rhoden. I grew up in the suburbs, lived at school downtown Chicago, and then hightailed it south of I-80 to marry a very rugged, very handsome country man.

Then, as if those twists and turns weren’t enough, after 5 years in central Illinois, my country guy and I realized we needed to go in search of better health insurance. Obamacare made individual insurance extremely expensive, unless we got the insurance with a subsidy through the exchange. My country husband cash-rented farm ground. Farming doesn’t exactly include benefits. What it does include is a respectable amount of independence and pride that isn’t open to governmental charity or reliance. So we “put on our big boy pants” and left a life that we loved to provide for our growing family.

And love it we did. When I tell people I miss the country, they look at me like I’m nuts (well, unless they’re from the country too…and then they usually get it). Everything up here is so rushed, hectic, and in a lot of ways, materialistic. We’ve found that we’ve become snobs that snub snobby people (say that 3 times fast), which I realize is terrible. We’re trying to get over it…sort of. 🙂

The country changed me. We grew corn and soybeans. There was always an abundance of fresh vegetables. Sweet corn had an entirely different taste, and don’t even get me started on the tomatoes. I rode my horse in my in-laws’ pasture. We drove through cornfields and actually enjoyed it. We dreamed of owning our own fields and a flock of sheep (and a sheep dog ’cause, you know, sheep are really dumb). I entered contests at the fair, and won blue ribbons for my pie, my artwork, and my scrapbooks. And driving on the highway wasn’t stressful, unless there was construction, which was annoying because everyone was far too accommodating.

When I married my country man, my mom got it in her head that I’d be milking cows and chasing chickens. Not so much. Farm life today isn’t what my grandma ran away from when she married my trombone-playing, army musician grandfather. If you’ve ever seen the inside of a modern tractor, you know what I’m talking about.

Think space ship meets riding lawnmower.

And yes, his tractor was sexy.Thomas and the Tractor

For all of that, moving back to Chicagoland was probably the hardest thing we’ve done, ever (and I gave birth twice without any drugs). We moved in with my parents for a time until we got on our feet, which I’m hearing is happening more and more, given the current economy…and that makes me feel a little better. My farmer husband traded in his coveralls for a suit and became an electrical estimator. Talk about a switch. He took the punches as gracefully as he could, made some great connections, and got himself an electrician apprenticeship in the local union. So we’re back to blue collar, and he is once again working with his hands in the field.

Only “field” has a new meaning.

The hope and dream is still to find a house in the country, even if that means a very long commute. We’ll get there someday. For now, my country man loves his new job (yay!…and Thank God!), we’re living in an adorable townhouse, we’re debt free (…that took some work), we have an awesome benefit plan, and our family has grown to include two adorable children that make everything worthwhile. 

Thomas and Ginny Kathleen and Jack







Now because of all of this, SweetPeas and Soybeans has changed quite a bit. Originally, my intention was to write about a city girl living the country life…only now, it’s more like the city-to-country girl living the suburban life. And that’s kind of complicated, to say the least.

But there is quite a bit that I originally set out to accomplish with this blog that hasn’t changed. I’m still a stay-at-home mom who is cloth diapering, cooking barefoot in the kitchen, hand sewing while watching way too much Netflix, and Revolutionary War Reenacting. I am slowly trying to turn to natural alternatives in many aspects of life and motherhood. And I am always concerned about living a healthy, nutritious lifestyle and controlling my weight.

And weight loss is a subject I know a bit about.

Up until I had my beautiful daughter, at the close of 2013, I worked as a consultant for Jenny Craig and changed lives. I realize that’s falling right into their marketing slogan, but I honestly believe I helped my clients. I saw people get healthier and happier- and find a self confidence they didn’t know existed.

Buffy and Kate- Jenny Craig'ers for Life

You’d think with the abundance of healthy vegetables and organic options out in the country, everyone would be stick skinny. But there’s a southern cooking way of thinking that tastes divine and is hard to get away from. Butter, butter, and more butter, and if you even suggest light butter, heaven help you.

But I was up for the fight.

Not wanting to be a plump weight loss consultant, I used the program myself and got great results. Then, I learned how to turn an unhealthy, calorie loaded meal into something waistline friendly and still full of flavor.

And now I’m here to share that knowledge with you.

I warn you…I do use light butter…and about a quarter of the olive oil regularly called for. But my goal is always to make sure no one notices.

Granted, it’s hard to avoid the look on people’s faces when they see all the veggies I use. Then again, I love their surprised expressions when they see how much food I can guiltlessly put on my plate.

In “Healthy Harvest Recipes,” you’ll find just that- food that you can make, love, and really eat. I’ll also include estimates on nutrition information, weight watchers points, nutritional value, and how the recipe fits into a Jenny Craig menu. That way, if you’re on a weight loss plan or diet of any sort, there’s information to help you.

In “Shawn and Kathleen’s Test Kitchen,” I team up with our very good friend Shawn to attempt all sorts of culinary artistry, while still trying to keep things light. Every couple of months, in either one of our kitchens, we try something daring. The experiment is always exciting, whether or not it works out, so I thought I’d include some of our positive results. However, since Shawn burns over 3000 calories a day without even trying, he needs to eat a lot more. So bear in mind our portion sizes in this section will reflect this.

In “Mostly Natural Mama,” I’ll post my adventures as a farm-wife turned suburban-mom. And I say “adventures” freely because being a mother never seems to slow down and be anything but crazy. There’s a lot I’ve learned, and a lot I have yet to experience. I’m a little hesitant to discuss child rearing, as I’ve noticed a lot of differing opinions on the subject. But leading up to my daughter’s birth, I had a super supportive baby guru when it came to a more natural approach to mommy-hood, and I’d like to pay that forward. You’ll find information about cloth diapering in a separate section appropriately titled, “Cloth Diapering Fluff.”

In “Rev. War Reenacting,” I will write about our experiences reenacting the American Revolution, because both my husband and I truly believe that raising our children in a living history environment is the best gift we can give them.

Then, in “Fit with a Family,” you’ll find weight loss tips and reviews on workout DVDs. I can’t say that I’m always fit, but I can say that I’m always trying. 

Thomas and Kathleen

I look forward to sharing with you the joys and trials that come our way. We sure have our hands full for the time being, and I’ve learned that I have no way of predicting what the future will bring, because for all my planning, I’m usually wrong.

But that may be a good thing. 😉



12 thoughts on “About Me

  1. This is sooo you! Love the ‘spaceship meets riding lawnmower’ medaphor! Can’t wait to read more of your posts Kathleen!


  2. You are hilarious and adorable and you PLAY THE FIDDLE?!?!?!?!!! Awesome.

    Growing up, I always thought you were a city girl like me, but turns out your heart is big enough for both worlds 🙂 I’m super proud of you and excited for your blog!



    1. Well, you know, it started out as the classical violin…but once you’re out of school, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to play classical violin music. Besides, I love celtic music…probably more than anything else. And reenactments offer a perfect venue for fiddling. Though, with Ginny, having time to play is near impossible. That seems to happen with a lot of the things I enjoy. Good thing I enjoy having her too! 🙂


  3. Never thought I would one day be reading your blogs about foods and their nutritional
    values, along with your cooking tips. I always thought you would be a Sports Illustrated
    calendar girl. Oh well, the magazine’s loss is Thomas’ and Ginny’s gain. Since I carried you around when you were three weeks old I reserve the right to say things
    like this. Right!?? Kis Ginny for me.



  4. Wow! I am so impressed with your story. Good for you! My world has not changed.. It is still utter kaos(?) ,.I’ve had 3 MORE SURGERIES since I was with you in Jenny Craig.. YEP 3!!!!!!! Back up in weight , so I am excited to try some of YOUR RECIPES! Now
    on SSDI and may only be able to work 2 days a week. Cake decorating is done as I just had a thumb joint replaced on right hand!! would love to hear more from YOU> MISS YOUR SMILES AND ENCOURAGEMENT! CONGRATS ON YOUR NEW LITTLE
    ( and growing) FAMILY. LOVE PATTI PETERSON


  5. I really enjoy the stuff you post. My sister-in-law already use the shutter fly and she loves it. Can’t wait to see how Ginny has gotten.


  6. At one point of our life we wanted to live on a farm. Have a couple of horses, cows and for sure chickens. Things happen and we never got that dream. We just started talking about it again. Not really sure where to start. Yet after 36 years together is it wise to start a farm, even a small one. We may live in the burbs and have all the luggeries . We enjoy growing our own vegetables and processing them to use later. I’m done!


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