Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in review

Inspired by a former classmate's blog... I decided to spend part of the last 2 hours and 15 minutes or so looking back over 2010 and re-capping it for you and me, because otherwise, how else is New Year's Eve really a special day if you don't take it and remember to look back over the year?


It seems like forever ago, but it was actually last January that we remodeled our downstairs bathroom and finished our laundry room! We haven't done an indoor project since :p lol!


I didn't write anything this month... and honestly don't remember much of it either... lol guess that goes with my 2011 goal of being better at blogging/status updates online.


We started our garden, which actually was one of our best gardens to date, we were getting tomatoes up until a few weeks ago!


April was a big month for us this year! We both went to Morro Bay for my Mother in law's 50th, and then I traveled to Oregon to see my friend (and cousin in law) Emily. Both great trips! The bike riding we did on her trip actually got us to get our bikes up and running, and now (on sunny days) Blake rides to work!

April was also the month that Roxie got into the garden (I had forgotten about that!), but it recovered really well.

Probably the biggest, life altering thing in April 2010 was that we started our CSA box! I can't imagine life without it now, and it is far from the first thing to go if we have to do budget cuts!


May had two main highlights just based on my blog (which I feel like I actually did pretty well mentioning main events on it). One was that we were starting to get our produce this month and I was loving the CSA, and the other was that we made the decision to stop trying to get pregnant and adopt. Big stuff! Not in the blog... or anywhere sadly... but big was that I cleared my credential! It took two years, and a lot of extra time, but its done, now I just have to pay to renew it! Yay!


Finished my hardest 2nd grade year ever, and found out that I was moving to 4th grade, and started my summer by working hard to get ready for that. I also started trying to make a few cookie batches each week. On our actual anniversary we attended the foster adoption orientation... and by our anniversary dinner a few days later decided to adopt internationally instead, but had to save for a while first.


Trip to Colorado, and moved me into my new classroom, and I started feeling okay about teaching 4th.


Biggest occurrence in August was Nancy passing away, which was a hard experience for me... harder than I thought.


Started teaching 4th grade, and lots of drama with it (seems to be good now though), and we bought half a bison!


Nothing too exciting based on blog titles... but I did get my hair cut short.


Fun trips to Big Bear, and Christmas of course. Also, my brother got engaged (though that might have been last month...)! And of course, we made the decision to start the adoption process.

It's been fun looking back... its been a great year... but I think 2011 can top it!

Happy New Year!

p.s. I was gonna be awesome and provide links to all the stories... but Blake wants me to be done... so you'll have to find them yourself if you are interested. :-D

p.p.s. I read all the books at the right... look quick because soon it will be my 2011 books!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Presents

I am blessed (spoiled really) when it comes to Christmas presents every year. This is mostly due to the fact that I teach at a private school, so I get lots of presents there, and both my parents and my husband's parents have been very generous with gifts even though we are "grown up" now. :-)

I love the sweater that my grandma got me...

I love the books I was given... including all of the ones I asked for plus Barnes and Noble money...

I am super excited with all of the food giftcards, which I estimate will pay for our date nights for the next few months!

I am blessed by the cash and grocery store gift cards that go to paying regular expenses...

I am excited to watch the detailed animal movies in the life set that we got...

I got many other small amazing gifts as well...

But my favorite gift is none of the above.

The best present I got this year was this one:

This is an item that I bought for Blake the first month that we started trying to get pregnant. My idea was to give it to him the month we found out. I hid it away...but didn't think about it much as it wasn't happening. One day Blake found it, and I told him my idea, and how it probably was just going to our kid someday. I don't remember what happened to it after that... until Christmas morning... when I unwrapped it... and knew exactly what it meant...

we are starting the adoption process!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Roxie's first 3 presents this year

My brother and his fiance were sweet enough to buy gifts for our beautiful lab, Roxie, with the one condition that they wanted us to film her opening them so they could see. I took the different clips, cut out Blake and my voices, threw on Glee Christmas music to it and here it is:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December CSA's to date

Our December boxes have featured lots of green vegetables like lettuces, sorrel, dandelion greens and feijoas. We were having trouble getting through all of the feijoas, but then we read that you can eat the skins, and now they are easy convenient fruits. We have even put them in a tasty salsa.

Another main produce that we have gotten a lot this winter is winter squash. Every week for a while now we either have acorn squash, spaghetti squash, or butternut squash. We have also gotten lots of carrots, which is also nice to eat raw as part of our lunch.

Its been fun to experiment with different recipes with the winter squash. They have ranged from as simple as just microwaving it and eating it as is to risottos, stuffing them, putting it on pasta, and this week I am adding it to a chili.

I have had to get a bit creative with the greens, just adding them to recipes even if they don't call for them so that they get used. Truthfully... there are not many recipes, even on the internet that use dandelion greens! We added them to a soup yesterday that was so good... I confess... I ate about 4 bowls of it for dinner!

Also, the week with the zucchini and the eggplant, I confess that I had a night where my primary goal was to use a bunch of the vegetables sitting in our fridge... so we just threw them all in a pan, stirfried it, and put the whole mess on pasta. Tasted pretty good though... so I guess we are improving!

There has been a lot of cilantro lately, and we are not getting through it! Oh well... the worms are happy.

I considered for a bit giving up on posting my box each week considering that I forgot to take a picture the last week in November, and then didn't post for 3 weeks... but I reasoned that it wasn't really about my faithful readers (because I realize that most people probably would rather hear the personal stories over the veggies we get each week... I don't blame you...) it was about keeping a record. I would love to see how this year's veggies compare to next years around the same time. Or... if I have way too much free time at some point, I can do a pretty excel chart of what produce we get when, how much we get of each etc. But perhaps even more than that... the goal of recording what produce we get really gets me to write, and write significantly more than I was writing before we started our box. So... even in months where I have to do 3 boxes in one post... I will still try to post.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Great Big Bear Weekend

Soon... hopefully... there will be pictures of the last two CSA boxes... though realistically, that will be after we get our next one Wednesday. I would load them up now... but my camera is downstairs and I don't really want to get it!

I wanted to say that I just enjoyed a fabulous weekend in Big Bear with Blake's family. I truly love my in-laws, and Graeme's girlfriend is so fun and easy to hang out with. Every trip to Big Bear is unique and fun in its own way, but this was an especially good one.

First off, Blake and I both took the day off on Friday so that we didn't have to deal with traffic. This was already a great start. We made it up the mountain in about two hours, and then had the afternoon up there relaxing.

We played some horseshoes, but quickly discovered that neither of us are really that good at it! Apparently, according to the official rules you are supposed to play to 40... after about a half an hour of playing, and we were around 3 points each (though, discovered later that we were harder on ourselves than we were supposed to and both could have moved up about 10 feet), we decided that there was no way we could play to 40 lol! We decided to play till someone got 5 points instead. Blake did eventually beat me, but it was close... and I was rooting for anyone to win at that point (45 minutes of play time or so).

We watched a movie inside, and we played some Wii. When everyone showed up (Graeme and Jami (brother in law and his girlfriend) and Lori and Kris (mother and father in law)) we had a great time just sitting around and catching up.

The next morning was a glorious lazy one where we started being productive around 10 (just drinking coffee/ having breakfast, chatting and dealing with the dogs before then). In this case, being productive meant getting the Dicken's houses that Lori and Kris have been collecting for years out of their boxes and somewhat set up on the table. Every year, part of the kid's weekend is picking out the newest addition to the collection and setting up the new arrangement of the town. As a side note, I love that its not written down and predetermined where everything goes, but instead is a new unique layout of the town every year, including the new one, not just sticking it in anywhere.

Around noon, Lori took us girls out for a surprise excursion, while the boys stayed behind and played horseshoes. The surprise turned out to be a spa day! We started with massages (which I had never had before, and spent about half of the massage wondering why in the world I hadn't!) and manicures for Jami and I, and a pedicure for Lori. The mani/pedis included lots of just fun bonding time (and I am shocked... but my nails are still intact! From Saturday! That never happens!).

We headed back, picked up the boys, and went to town to choose our new Dicken's house (for those curious souls, we ended up choosing a stable this year). We had lunch (dinner? it was about 3) in town, and then headed back to the cabin.

There was another bit of segregation here as the boys focused on the Dicken's village, and the girls focused on getting the Christmas tree lighted. (It is a really awkward shaped tree this year... partially caused by Lori and Kris' tradition (though it doesn't happen every year) to get a live, still in pot tree, that gets planted in the yard after Christmas. This sometimes results in less than picture perfect tree, but is still awesome that it doesn't have to die for the holiday).

Once the boys finished, they came and joined us and helped finish decorating. There was another productive lull here, where Lori and Blake took the dogs for a walk. When they returned, we had another surprise (kinda random though) kazoos!

Lori had bought us each a kazoo, and we spent the next chunk of time trying to play along with the Christmas songs we were listening to as a group. At the time we thought we sounded pretty good... but the recordings tell a different tale lol! I discovered that playing a kazoo is really just humming with something that distorts your sound... but it was still fun, and a lot of our attempt was spent laughing.

We watched Scrooged after that (another tradition to watch a Christmas movie during kid's weekend) and then finished off the night with some Wii games with Jami and Graeme.

Sunday was a bit of a lazy start, but was mainly cleaning up and getting ready to go.

The funny thing is that as I type it, it really doesn't seem like that much stuff... or anything super impressive, or things that people would look at and say, "Wow! You did that!" But it was really a great weekend. I think the biggest thing that drives weekends like this is the dynamic of the group, and this dynamic was perfect. Better for me than the last couple of kid's weekends simply because of the gender mix-up of the group. In the years that Graeme isn't dating anyone, he brings a guy friend. Then there are four guys to two girls, and I feel like they tend to overpower the weekend. Having it even means that we can split up and do things that we each find fun instead of Lori and I just doing what the majority wanted to do.

The other big dynamic thing is that it was small and intimate. We are going up there again for Christmas, and although I love everyone who will be there, somehow just adding a few more people can change the feel of the weekend drastically.

The one and only downside is that taking Friday off and having the weekend in the mountains made me feel really disorganized at work today, and I am very eager for the two week break that begins at the end of this week!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

CSA 27

My record is broken. :-/ Even the times I have slacked in posting, I was still great about getting that photo taken to post later... but not this week!

This is mainly due to the fact that we forgot about our box until much later than we usually get it.

I had a half day Wednesday and Blake was able to get off early too. So, the two of us were able to get on the computer and start playing early afternoon, earlier than we usually even get home, and before the box is dropped off at the house in Irvine that we pick them up from.

We got into an amazing group in the game, a group we had been hoping for days to be a part of. So we changed our plans from going out to staying in, ordering Chinese food for delivery so that we could be a part of this group. All is well... and the box that we usually get on our way home from work is totally forgotten!

I am talking later about Thanksgiving and what we need from our box for the recipes that we are making when I stop mid-sentence and realize that we didn't get our box! So, Blake left the computer for a half an hour to go pick it up, and then run back to the group.

Later that night before bed, the vegetables got put away, but I didn't even think about my camera at that point. Oh well.

We got two different kinds of winter squash, which is exciting, both Acorn and Spaghetti squash.

We got more feijoas, and we already had a bunch, so I am throwing them into a few recipes this week.

Otherwise, it was more of the usual: lettuce, carrots, celery etc. Nothing too much to note.


Thanksgiving went great! I am always so thankful to have it at our house so that all the families blend together, and every year I am excited to see that there really aren't cliques, but everyone seems comfortable with everyone else. Blake's grandfather is getting married again, and he brought his fiance to Thanksgiving. Funny thing is that my grandmother's name and his fiance's name is the same, so that was a bonding point for the two of them. Also, his fiance knew a lot of people from my grandmother's church, so they talked about that, and at the end of the night they exchanged phone numbers so they could get together later! Isn't that great?

The turkey (main event) turned out well, even if it was ready a little too early and Blake had to be dragged away from showing his bike to his dad to carve it.

We had lots of leftovers, and have been eating them for many meals... and aren't actually tired of them yet!

We also served buffalo meatballs and they were a hit! Not only were they popular with the group, I also liked them enough for them to make the list for what I got seconds of. (Which was not much, because I was pretty full!) They were also one of the first things I ate for leftovers.


One other piece of news is that we are attempting to dry some of our habeneros so we can make a powder of them to use for later. So, Blake got a needle, and some fishing line and made a string of them. We'll see how they turn out!


And just for fun... some random tweaks of the picture:





Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Superpost! 2CSA, Bison, and thoughts about favorite colors

First, I want to say that I am feeling lazy today, and do not feel like editing down my photos, so they will be huge... but hopefully you enjoy them anyways:


Above is the CSA from November 3rd.

Very exciting week with an eggplant and butternut squash as highlights. Sad thing is that I thought the butternut squash was acorn squash and chose a recipe accordingly... but it was still great! We made stuffed acorn squash... which was much harder with the small space of the butternut lol. The eggplant went into a great Indian food recipe.

Considering that tomorrow will be two weeks from this box... I don't remember what else I made that week. :-D

Above is the box from last Wednesday. Because many days this week were out with family, the majority of the vegetables went into one of two recipes: Beef with acorn squash and potatoes except we used bison instead or my stir fry recipe. I called it a stir fry extravaganza, and we used the eggplant, green beans, celery, carrots, lettuce and green onions in it. We also cleaned the fridge out a bit and added some of our bell pepper into it as well. It tasted great!

Speaking of bison....

We got our bison on Saturday. It came in three boxes, and we got it directly from the person who runs the ranch in Montana (who was very nice btw). They were very frozen, and packed beautifully!

Each one was wrapped in a smaller more portion size chunk with what kind of meat it was nicely stamped on it. We sorted them by cuts. (Yes... on the garage floor... they're wrapped :D) This is what we got:
  1. Hamburger (38)
  2. Chuck Roast (2)
  3. Sirloin tip roast (1)
  4. rib steak (6)
  5. sirloin steak (4)
  6. short rib (2)
  7. cubed stead (2)
  8. eye of round steak (1)
  9. top round stead (6)
  10. flank steak (1)
  11. tenderloin (1)
  12. t-bone (3)
Unlike we originally planned, we only feel willing to part with some of our hamburger supply (not for a profit, but for what we paid per pound, or an exchange... like one of Blake's co-workers is trading bison burger meat for avocados). The rest of the cuts we don't feel like we have enough that we want to let it go. But we are really excited about our meals, and the slow cooked bison from yesterday tasted great! (Even if Blake found the bullet in his meal today! :-D Don't worry... he didn't eat it:-p)

It all fits in our freezer with room to spare (for frozen fresh fish perhaps?):


On a totally completely random topic, I was thinking about favorite colors a week or two ago, and how kids (like my students) frequently ask what my favorite color is. I typically say yellow and blue, because that is what I themed my whole wedding around, and I do really enjoy those bright summery colors.

However... When it comes down to it, what makes a favorite color anyways... isn't it the color that when you have a lot of different choices of what color you want something in... you choose the one that's your favorite color? So Blake and I got new phones recently (Droid incredible for a really good deal on Newegg) and I had to choose a cover. I browsed ebay for a while looking for what cover I wanted... and I decided on a pink one.

Then I thought about it more... and my last two phones, I chose a pink one. Tons of options.... I keep choosing pink!
AND last time I chose workout shoes... I chose pink too. So I am wondering if the next time that a student asks me... should I change from my standard yellow and blue to pink?

And one last photo... because it was on my camera... look at how cute Roxie is!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I used to like my hair long... you can do a lot with long hair, although since my hair is so thick, it is a lot to deal with. Then I met Blake... and he likes short hair. (I found out when I randomly decided to cut it short our first year dating and discovered he REALLY liked it).

Now, I keep it on the shorter side, partly for him, partly because once it gets past my shoulders, it doesn't look as good without more effort... and I am not an effort kind of person when it comes to hair/makeup.

So... I am getting it cut next week. As I have been thinking about what to do with this style... I decided to dedicate a whole blog to it, and a slideshow on my past hairstyles ending with two pictures that I intend to show when I go to get my hair cut to demonstrate what I am thinking about.

note: I meant to crop these so it was just me and you could really see the varying lengths I experimented with... but it got late... so they are mostly unedited.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

CSA 23 and 24.... Spot the differences



Here are our last two CSA boxes... very similar boxes, which is why part of the title is spot the differences.

The challenge is to spot the three items in each picture that are not in the other picture.

Try it!....


The items that are present in both are: Swiss chard, oranges, celery, green onions, green beans zucchini, and lettuce.

In the top picture (i.e. CSA 23) we received dandelion greens, cilantro, and rosemary.

In the bottom picture (i.e. CSA 24) we received apples (so good!), sprouts, and feijoa (the oval green things in the back that I identified by searching "oval green fruit").

I'm having trouble remembering exactly what we ate last week... but I know I used some of the vegetables last week in a shrimp stirfry, and in a pumpkin stew. The swiss chard was used in the sausage, tomato, pasta, swiss chard recipe that I have made before many times.

This week we have another pumpkin dish coming up, green beans will be used in a chicken salad, and I plan on attempting zucchini bread as something different with the zucchini.

When I think of fall dishes/ October/November dishes, I always think of pumpkins!

So last week I made a pumpkin dish (really good, everyone that saw the leftovers in my lunch during the week wanted a copy of the recipe) and I also went to Starbucks one day, and got a Pumpkin Spice Latte, a piece of Pumpkin bread, and a pumpkin muffin! Did I mention I enjoy pumpkin?

Blake enjoyed the pumpkin seeds last week enough that he asked if we could have more pumpkin dishes, and I was more than happy to comply.

In other news, we got our chest freezer for our bison! Two weeks from today we are picking up half a bison worth of meat and need a place to store it! We looked at Best Buy, but they didn't have any in the size we wanted, and the next size up was more than we wanted to spend.

So we kept looking, and ended up at the Sears Outlet. They had a model almost identical to the bigger, more expensive one at Best Buy, but a hundred dollars cheaper. It has cosmetic damage... but what do we care about the looks of our freezer in the garage?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Csa 22


So... we get the next box Wednesday... in two days... and I am just now talking about last week lol.

However, the benefit of taking this long to post is that I know more about what happened with the food and my commentary on it.

The zucchini and the green beans went into the Emerald Green Risotto I talked about before, and is a great go to recipe for almost any green vegetables that come (snap peas, asparagus, broccoli etc. all good in it).

The black eyed peas (two bags of them this week) went into Texas Caviar which was SO good, Blake and I ate way more of it than we intended. It sounded good in the recipe... tasted better!

The dandelion greens (hard to see in this picture, one of the greens in the top right corner) joined an onion, bacon, and molasses as a baked potato topping. We combined this with a side salad that featured a purple heirloom tomato from our garden (a plant that is still doing great well into Oct. now!). This dinner sounded great, smelled better than it sounded and tasted as good as it smelled!

Tomorrow we are going to have a soup with the swiss chard and sorrel (which worked out great because in this rainy gloomy weather now soup sounds great!)

That leaves a little lettuce, which always disappears, and the oranges which I am pretty sure are already eaten or will be soon.

Maybe I'll keep waiting to post my box until I can add commentary to what delicious dishes we cooked up this week.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When life gets busy... you fit things where you can: CSA 20 and 21

CSA 20

Its sad to me that I didn't even feel like there was time for me to blog last week about my little CSA box. It doesn't take THAT long to do... But its not that I didn't have free time in there... I just had different priorities with it... like spending many hours this weekend reading a novel. Time well spent... but not on this blog. Oh well... better late than never.

Last week's box was somewhat light and unexciting. Swiss chard, which we enjoy, but have had a lot lately. Tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts, cilantro and oranges, same thing, they taste good, we are happy to have them, but not that exciting. Cantaloupe, Blake loves, but I don't really enjoy any melon, and the one I like the best is watermelon, so I didn't really care about it.

The swiss chard went really well into a tomato/ swiss chard saute, and the carrots and tomatoes were combined with chicken and chickpeas (and a few other things) for a Moroccan chicken stew.

I think the point is that last week's box was so terribly unexciting, I didn't feel like it was worth a precious chunk of my time to write about... but it can be a part of this week's post... which is an AWESOME box!


This week had all kinds of exciting (i.e. new, different, unusual) items!

But first, the standards- lettuce, tomatoes, oranges, sprouts (although, noteworthy that these sprouts were broccoli sprouts which Blake likes as opposed to the radish ones which our pet worms eat).

Somewhat less than standard, delicious and tasty but not the "featured items" - swiss chard, green beans, and zucchini.

We got sorrel again this week, which is great! If you have never tried it, I wholeheartedly recommend it! It tastes like lemon... seriously! I would never guess it to look at it, but its lemon spinachy tasting. Very nice in salads and sauteed, and actually I made a nice salad dressing with it too.

Only once before in our box have we gotten passionfruit (those are the 4 wrinkly red things in the front), and we were so excited to see that not only did we get it again.. but we got 4 this week! Yay, so good!

AND we got two totally new things this week! We got black eyed peas (we have to shell the dried out green bean looking things in the back) and dandelion greens! So I'll get to try those.

Fabulous, big, full week. I am excited to plan with it.


On a totally different note, I wanted to talk about coffee. I LOVE coffee. (Although Blake chides me because I like cream and the sugary Starbucks drinks and says I don't really like coffee if I have to have it one of those ways... anyways...)

I didn't grow up liking coffee, neither of my parents really drink it. My mom would rather have a soda in the morning if she HAD to have caffeine for some reason and my dad drinks a few sips in the morning to wake up... not coffee drinkers.

Then in high school, there was a coffee shop that we went to for study hall (long story) and I got introduced to the world of coffee with a vanilla frappuccino (I know... not really coffee lol). Then I tried a sip of my friend's mocha, and I started having frozen mochas frequently at many places. From there I started having hot mochas at places like Starbucks (and still my favorite, regular drink is a non-fat white chocolate mocha, no whip cream at Starbucks... and they know it... and me... by name... every time I come... its bad... lol).

I still remember when I first had a "regular" (home brewed with cream and sugar) coffee. I had slept over at my friend Erin's house, and her sister Heather offered to make me a coffee with cream and sugar since I had never had it, and I enjoyed it.

When I first started brewing my own coffee at home, I was a total Starbucks snob... only their coffee was good enough. Then I got practical, and started trying cheaper brands, and would buy any coffee that tasted good that was relatively inexpensive.

Fast forward to when Blake and I started shopping at Sprouts. We would always buy from their bulk section. Especially it was on sale. That is... till we watched Food, Inc. (it seriously impacted us). So then we started shopping their organic section. Good stuff... but expensive. We also bought one pound from the San Diego Zoo when we went there because some of it goes to the animals, as well as being organic and free trade.

That got me thinking about this awesome website- Greater Good Network. It is a store with many great items, but every purchase ALSO goes to help something as well. The link above is the rainforest store, where each portion helps a certain amount of feet of the rainforest, but if you change the tab at the top of the page, the store will be the same, but will have a portion that gives cups of food, mammograms to women in need, healthcare for kids in need, books to kids, or food to animals in the shelters.

I looked, and sure enough they sell organic coffee, so I ordered a bunch. Check it out for gifts this Christmas, or birthday presents, or your coffee needs etc. because you will buy stuff anyways... why not have it do some extra good?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CSA 19 and illness


I have an excuse for the extreme delay in this post... I got sick :-/

We got swiss chard, sorrel, lettuce, tomatoes (lots of them!), cantaloupe, cilantro, limes, carrots and oranges.

Three of the ingredients were put into an amazing enchilada casserole (limes, cilantro, tomatoes) with some of our fresh peppers from our garden (which as a side note is still doing great and giving us lots of produce).

The swiss chard and sorrel were put into a pasta and sausage dish (which also used some more tomatoes, and onions, it was great, but I accidentally used the spicy chicken broth from our freezer, and it turned out quite spicy between that and it being a hot Italian sausage anyways).

I can't remember where the lettuce disappeared to... a salad? The cantaloupe was eaten by Blake (although I eat tons of different stuff, I have never been a big fan of any melon), and he said it was amazing. The oranges are mostly eaten with lunch or dinner, although one of them joined the carrots, and some of our habaneros from our garden to make a hot sauce tonight. It was joining a taco salad.

But yeah... I would have said this earlier, but Wednesday night got busy. No big deal, I could do it Thursday... but I came down with a really bad headache... little did I know it was just scratching the surface of what was to come. I wrote it off as just a one night thing. Well, the next morning, it was still lingering... again, I didn't think too much of it, and I worked through it. Friday night was game night at our house, and I wasn't about to cancel it for a little remnant of a headache... and a slight sore throat tickle thing... right?

So we have game night, lots of fun, and Saturday morning... it hits... full force. Still have somewhat of a headache, but now I have a throat that is killing me, I am coughing and my nose is running... fabulous. I spend the majority of Saturday sitting on the couch, watching movies or reading, when I am not resting. I miss a family gathering Saturday night. Sunday, I felt just as bad, if not worse, so I miss the gym and church, and watch a mini marathon of Meg Ryan movies (You've got Mail and Kate and Leopold). I had to get some work done Sunday as well. The main thing I had to do was prepare the notes for a sub so that they could cover at short notice.

Around lunch time Sunday I realized that there was no way I was going to be up to teaching on Monday, so I called a sub. I then had to e-mail her the sub directions after I finished them (took a while for my fuzzy brain to figure out everything that someone walking into my classroom needs to know). She is a great teacher, and taught 2nd with me before she stopped teaching to have her son and raise him, and now she is on the sub list. She is my first pick because I only reluctantly give my class up to someone else, and I want to trust that they will do the job well. I trust her.

So that brings me up to today. I am still not 100%, but I can go awhile before having to grab a tissue or cough, so I count that a victory. There were times that I was super tired today, and pretty achy (my back hurt a lot of the day), but I knew I could get through the day because it was pretty low impact as far as instruction was concerned with a couple of assemblies and tests and minimal teaching in between.

In other news... Blake and I bought half a bison!

No... its not live... no... it doesn't arrive as half a bison, it is completely butchered for us. Bison is a lot healthier than beef, and actually even healthier than chicken. It tastes very similar to beef (with a slightly gamier taste), and can be used in place of it in any recipe. The farm that we get our produce from recommended Glacier Grown to us ( This is an organic bison ranch in Montana, and they are coming down to Southern California in November. Their price per pound is WAY better than what we can get in the store for organic beef for even the cheapest cuts, and for high quality cuts like steaks, it is almost half the price. Its the whole costco thing... we buy in bulk, and we save lots.

It will probably be enough to last us 6 months to a year... but we are also buying a deep freezer so we can store all of this, and then we have "beef" any time we need it for a recipe. When we did the calculations... it is just a big initial investment that pays itself off in the long run for all the meat we don't have to buy.

We are also willing to let our friends/family reinburse us for the costs of certain cuts (no profit to us... that's illegal :-) )of bison if they would like to buy cuts off us, since not everyone wants to buy a half a bison worth of meat.

We're excited... nervous... but excited. I'll let all you readers know how it goes when we get it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Csa 18

A picture's worth a thousand words... so here are 3 thousands words for you this week because I'm not feeling like typing a lot this week, but want to at least make it through a year of chronicling my CSA boxes.


New pet pictures! Aren't they cute!

(sorry about his crazy eyes... someday I'll learn how to take good pictures of pet eyes without them looking weird)

30 second update of my weekend- San Diego Zoo, read Hunger Games and Catching Fire, gym, Indian food, library. Good weekend!

Monday, September 13, 2010

4th Grade- First impressions

I'm reminded of the Annie song, where she sings, "I think I'm gonna like it here." Granted, I have only been a 4th grade teacher for 2 days at this point, but I am feeling like its a really good fit.

The most amazing experience in 4th grade to date happened on the first day of school. I had all of the kids start on a writing assignment. I explained what to do, then told them to get to work. Then an incredible thing happened... they just started working... quietly... there were no questions... no one I had to force to work... it was unlike anything I had every seen in my 2nd grade class before!! Now, I had classes that were pretty well behaved, but there was always SOMEONE who needed some nudging, or had a question immediately after beginning, or a few kids that thought it was time to talk instead of work. I previously considered it a victory if it only took a few minutes to get everyone on task... but immediately? It was beautiful!

Now... this assignment was not completed perfectly by all, nor was it question free the whole time... but it was quiet, and it got completed.

I had some more great experiences today where all the students were reading silently in the morning, or when the class was hard at work during grammar. Overall, the maturity and responsibility of the grade level is great, and I look forward to what we are able to accomplish this year.

It isn't all perfect, of course,for example I am a bit concerned of how much they have forgotten over the summer... in fact... worse than that, there were some review concepts on their work today that I taught in 2nd... so for kids to be struggling on them concerns me. Along the same lines, almost all kids have forgotten almost all of grammar since 1st grade! I had kids not know what a noun was... scary... hopefully it will come back soon. Also, I think I expected more of 4th grade reading skills than I heard today... just another thing to work on.

All of us, including me, are figuring out the timing and procedures for the day, and I have great hopes that lessons will go smoother as we get the hang of it.

I did use the smartboard today for lessons. Overall, it was good, and the kids thought it was really cool. My plan for how to take turns on it and be fast and effective didn't work. I had a random list of their class numbers, and they were supposed to be aware of who was ahead of them, and be waiting for their turn... kids were too interested in the game to notice their numbers... so tomorrow, I think I will have groups go up and wait for their turns... I think it will go smoother, we shall see. I had one girl that somehow wasn't applying the right pressure, or her hand was sweaty or something, and she couldn't drag an object on the screen... so I am planning on troubleshooting that if it happens again. Oh, and the default eraser size is too big... need to figure out how to resize that.

Not to mention that since our tech people are behind right now, my projector is sitting on a desk instead of mounted on the ceiling... which means that students' pencils show up on the screen, the girl who sits next to it joggles it every so often, the kids are super tempted to put their hands in front of it, and my favorite, you have to stand to the side of what you are writing so you can see what question you are answering without blocking the projector. Sigh... all those problems will be fixed (hopefully, prayerfully) within the month (what I was told by the tech guy).

The other tricky thing about the new grade at the moment is that it takes me SO LONG to set up for the next day (which is my new school year resolution, so I don't make them wait while I transition myself between subjects, and as a bonus, if I am sick, it is set up for my sub already). Today, I was working in my classroom from 3- 5 after school today mainly preparing for tomorrow... sigh. (Part of the problem is that just the lesson plans don't always make sense to me, so I have to keep going to other 4th grade teachers and asking them questions... which makes setting up take longer too). Oh, and the fact that I had a student drop today, and a student add today... so that was more work lol.

Reader's digest version- I like the more mature grade level, I am concerned about where they are academically, the smartboard is cool, but still has some kinks, and will be lots better once the projector is mounted, and I need to get used to what I am doing, but I think I'm gonna like it here. :-)

In case you have never heard of the song... and want to see you go!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

csa 17... A very green week


The entire left side of the picture is green! Yes, I did color sort the box this week... but only because there was so much green stuff this week and I wanted to show that clearly.


On the "green team" we have watermelon, zucchini, swiss chard (which we are really excited about, and are planning on growing some this fall/winter), limes, cilantro, arugula and lettuce.

The "red team" has only one member... the cherry tomatoes, which have many friends in the cupboard from our own garden.

The "yellowish orange team" has a lot of oranges and some grapefruit on it.

Great week, nothing too new or exciting, but lots of good fruits and vegetables to eat.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


On Thursday I caught up with an old friend from high school. We had lunch and did some window shopping and just talked. It was a really fun time, but it made me really want to buy some new tops for work! (Window shopping is dangerous that way...)

So, when Blake said he needed some clothes (for a much better reason than me... he is still losing weight and didn't even have a week's worth of clothes that fit him), I said I would like to get some too. Not to mention that my Grandma had given me some Macy's giftcards for my birthday back in April that I hadn't spent yet, and my mom gave me some money for clothes for the school year (cause she is sweet like that!), so I could get some stuff guilt free!

Or so I thought.

Blake wanted to know if I needed work tops because my closet/drawers are pretty full. So I had a mini-fashion show to demonstrate that yes... I could use a few more (to be fair, we are trying to save and learn to live with what we have instead of buying, so its not like he is super strict with me or anything, we just keep each other accountable). But... it came with a catch. We had to go through, and organize or good will all my clothes first! It was good to do, and I love how neat and organized everything looks and fits in my space now... but it was a lot of work.

We (finally) went to the Spectrum (a local mall), and got him some clothes at Old Navy and Macy's and bought me some clothes at Macy's and Windsor. Here is what I got:


On the far left are two short sleeve sweaters, one in black, one in a tourquoise green. In the middle is a nice coat (to replace the black one I bought a couple years ago and recently had to goodwill because it was looking ratty and too big). Then we have a long blue short sleeve sweater and a cream colored shirt on the right. I am really excited about these tops and think it will give me more confidence for the school year. Besides... its so much fun to get new clothes!

Oh, and I think that all of these tops are not too dressy that I couldn't pair them with some jeans or capri's and still look nice. Overall, it was a good Saturday.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

CSA 16


Not that exciting of a box this week in general. Good stuff... just not super exciting. We did get some basil and arugula that turned into an orange and more lettuce, so it would have been more interesting with those things in it.

We have lettuce (lots of salads this week... which is good when it is regularly running in the eighties here), tomatoes (great with those salads), green beans, limes, oranges, grapefruits and one other item.

Its the wrinkly one in the center of the picture. Kinda looks like something that went bad. But its not! I looked it up (and it was confirmed with the e-mail last night) it is a passionfruit. Really good tasting on the inside... reminded me of a sour jelly bean in that it was sweet with a kick, but not the prettiest fruit out there lol.

Our garden is cranking out the eggplants at the moment, so I am scrambling to find enough recipes to use all of them. We have already had a ratatouille with it, and I am planning a lasagna this week as well. Also, I am planning on making a pizza (not the dough though lol) this week, and if we still have plenty of eggplant, it will be a topping on there too. If not, we have plenty of tomatoes and sweet peppers to make up for it.

In other news... as you can see on my ticker... the summer is coming to an end :-( . I am excited about 4th grade... (keeping in mind the previous post), but will miss the long stretches of time I currently have. But I did want to share with you guys some fun websites that I played around with recently as I searched for great websites for my class:

This game has NOTHING to do with 4th grade, but it was on a website that did, but I thought it was a fun game to try to play, you try to guess which president's childhood picture it is:


This other website will probably become one of my top used websites in class because of how many fun, simple math fact practice games it has on it. If you want to brush up on your math facts... or simply explore... or ignore it and think I am crazy for recommending a math practice website... you can!


Anyways... two great websites I found amongst my searching for 4th grade stuff this summer.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Did you know that if left to itself, basil will continue to grow to produce flowers?

They are very pretty flowers, and this is where the basil grows its new seeds so that a wild basil plant could continue growing new basil the next year.

It also means that that particular stem will no longer produce the basil leaves that are used in so many recipes. If you want your basil plant to continue producing leaves for you to use, you have to prune it, regularly.


(by the way, these are not my pictures, but borrowed from other photobucket people)

The definition of pruning is:
prune 2 (prn)
v. pruned, prun·ing, prunes
1. To cut off or remove dead or living parts or branches of (a plant, for example) to improve shape or growth.
2. To remove or cut out as superfluous.
3. To reduce: prune a budget.
To remove what is superfluous or undesirable.

I say all this as an introduction to what I have had to experience over this summer and I think into the school year. When I moved from 2nd grade to 4th grade, I also changed coordinators (makes sense, since they are only in charge of that grade level).

For the last 4 years, my coordinators (there were a few different ones in that time) were mostly laid back, and gave mostly broad lesson plans, with lots of room for personal interpretation. Our walls were our own choice, and sometimes specific lessons were a suggestion, not a direction.

My 4th grade coordinator is different. She is still very sweet, loving, caring and wants the best for us. But she was trained to have unity within the grade level, and interprets it to mean each assignment is the same in any classroom. Basically, she should be able to walk into any of our classrooms at a given time and see very little difference between them. Teaching style differs of course, but projects/crafts/assignments etc. should all be the same. With this, there are certain things that are going to be on the walls.

This is really hard for me, because I like to make changes and do things differently. Even within second grade, I frequently changed what I did from year to year, just to mix it up. I took it very hard learning how this next year is going to be... until I thought about my basil plant.

The basil flowers are beautiful, and they smell great. It is what the plant does naturally, and really cannot be considered a bad thing... unless you want the plant to continue growing.

If you want the plant to continue growing and producing, you have to cut off the tops. Applying this to my life, if I want to grow as a person, and as a Christian, some pruning is necessary. In this case, it is pruning my need to be different.

Like the flowers, its not a bad thing, and it is completely natural... but not the most useful thing for a plant that needs to keep growing.

I do want to keep growing, and while I was fortunate to have a coordinator previously that "allowed me to flower," this coordinator's forcing me to grow is ultimately going to make me a better person.

I do want to add that she is totally open to hearing my ideas... however instead of telling the grade level my ideas, and then doing what I want, it is a situation where I can give my suggestion and then either all of us will do it, or none will. Next year, as a more seasoned 4th grade teacher, I think I will be given more leeway... but perhaps not.

My point is... I am growing this year by not having the freedom I used to have, and I have found a place of acceptance with it.

To cut off or remove dead or living parts or branches of (a plant, for example) to improve shape or growth.

Two different things I want to point out on this definition- first that pruning doesn't mean just cutting off dead, unproductive parts of the plant. Like with the basil (and me) it can sometimes be removing good parts too. The second thing is the purpose of it. I truly believe that this situation in my life exists to help shape and grow me. If I didn't think that, I could easily get frustrated, want to quit/find other job, or just grumble and gripe over this change. But the comparison to pruning helps me because I feel like there is a purpose to it, its not randomly hacking at my life to make it worse, it is systematically taking away negative parts of my character, like my pride.

In addition, the Bible talks a lot about unity. It frequently talks about how great it is for Christians to be united, and how harmful it is to have arguments between each other. And I was reminded that nothing I might have done differently in my classroom really matters. If I did my craft instead of the 4th grade craft... would it make a different to them as an adult... no way! If my walls had a different project up, would they even remember next year? No. As long as I teach them effectively, they will learn. Whether its with my ideas or 4th grade ideas... they will get through this grade, and quite frankly, will remember some of it as adults... but probably not much lol. So... in the big picture, its much better to get along with the other 4th grade teachers, who I will hopefully get to be with for a few years, than it is for me to push through my own ideas and create disharmony within our grade level.

But I do ask that you keep me in prayer, as it is definitely not my natural inclination, and my peace might be harder to keep as the year goes on. :-)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

CSA 15 and Nancy


This week brought two new items that we haven't received before in our box- broccoli and red peppers! We like both vegetables, so this is a good thing. Everything else is normal, oranges (including some that we traded our arugula this week for), grapefruit, limes, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce and sprouts.

We should have traded the sprouts... actually we should have traded last week's sprouts too. Blake enjoys sprouts... but not radish sprouts. The problem is, you can't tell by looking at them, you have to taste them. We don't want to taste the sprouts if we end up trading them, but we don't want to get rid of the sprouts that he likes either by thinking they are the bad kind lol. So... our worms get fed. :-)

In addition to the box, our garden is still doing well (its just not as photogenic as it used to be... so I don't currently have pictures of it), and I have to figure out how to use a bunch of tomatoes, some more peppers (lots of spicy ones, and some sweet) and lots of eggplant! Our eggplant was so slow, and keeping up with our demands... but now we have 9 growing!!! Ack! It looks like they will be ready all around the same time too. We are thinking we will need to make some dishes just to freeze/ jar them and use them later. So I'm looking into it.


In other news, I attended Blake's grandfather's wife's memorial this weekend. His grandmother passed away early on in our dating (7-8 years ago) . Shortly after that he married this sweet lady, Nancy, who recently passed away. She was precious to all of us. More than that, her memorial impacted everyone who attended it. She was one of those extraordinary people who is ALWAYS nice, loving and thoughtful to those around her. In all the time I knew her, I never saw her mad, or frustrated or even grumpy!

I left feeling like I want to leave that kind of a legacy behind me, I want to be the kind of person who everyone remembers as always nice. I'm so far from there right now... but its a goal, and I know others left feeling the same desire to be more like her.

There were other things about her memorial that touched me too, like the fact that she requested that she not have any flowers on her grave, but have other people come to know Jesus instead. She had an alter call at her memorial, and some people accepted Christ at it too! She was still making an impact on people's lives, even after she left!

My last memories of her are super precious to me. Previous to her, I was never really around a dying person. I had relatives die... but the last time I saw them, they were still more or less normal, talking, etc. When Blake and I got there, she was still conscious, but her eyes were mostly closed, and she couldn't talk anymore. I felt really awkward around her, and I didn't know what to say or do. My mother in law was really good with her, still talking to her, while also giving Blake's grandfather support and reassurance etc. But then Lori was thinking out loud that she wished she could sing better, because Nancy loved singing, and listening to worship, and knew that it would be something she enjoyed. (Apparently hearing is the last thing to go). She remembered that I like to sing, and asked if I would feel comfortable doing it. I was happy to have the chance to do something more than stand around awkwardly.

I was really nervous at first, but I opened up a hymn book, and found some that I knew, and started singing to her. Then, which I will always remember, Nancy joined me the best she could... her mouth started moving as I sang, like she was mouthing the words with me. I was holding her hand as I sang the hymns, and her fingers moved now and then, showing me that she knew I was there. Blake's grandfather noticed after I finished a song, and confirmed what I had thought I saw, and said "She was singing with you." Adding more significance to the event was the memory I had had prior to this that she and I had talked about how I enjoyed to sing and she said that we should sing together sometime. I am so thankful that I got to do it before she went to be with the Lord.

During the service, her granddaughter (with an amazing voice) sang a worship song. Part of the way through, she started to lose it, and had to catch herself from starting to cry. This did me in. I was crying off and on during the beginning of it (the first time was when I saw Blake's grandfather start to cry), but when this happened, my last memories of Nancy combined with her family's grief really made me lose it, and I had a really hard time pulling myself back together after that.

I am thankful though of the hope of heaven. I truly believe that everyone who is a Christian is going to heaven someday, and I will see them again. So losing loved ones who are saved is sad for us... but not for them. I am nervous about losing family members who don't believe though. And the worst thing is, that they don't have hope either. If dying is just the end and nothing comes afterward, then how can you find peace as your life comes to an end? One of my grandmothers is unsaved... and she doesn't want to talk about death, at all. Nancy accepted it so much that she helped plan her memorial, she told her children and her grandchildren what she would want there, and her biggest hope and request is that others would be saved through it.

Its an incredible contrast to me. The biggest thing that I don't understand is simply about logic. If Christians are right, and there is a heaven for believers, and you don't believe, its bad news for you when you die. If Christians are wrong, and those who believe that life ends forever when you die are right, its still better for us because we go towards death peacefully and hopefully! It goes without saying that I think I believe the truth (or else why would I believe it), but I don't see what there is to gain by believing that nothing happens after you die. You live a life fearful of death, and then when your loved ones die you are wrecked with grief because you think you will never get to see them again, AND if Christians are right, you don't get to experience heaven! If you believe, you live a life of hope, you have hope when loved ones die, and if we are right, you get to go to heaven someday! Good deal all around!

There is nothing to lose! Honestly, I understand more those who follow other religions. Believing that there is something after you die, no matter what it is, makes a lot more sense to me than believing there is nothing. For the simple reason that you can't know, you can't be sure either way, I will fully admit that I have not died yet, so I could be wrong. But I believe. ( What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. Hebrew 11:1 NLT) But that also means that if you believe that life ends forever when you take your last breath, you are believing and having faith in something too, and it is worse for you, because if ANY religion that believes in the afterlife is right, then you made an eternal mistake.

I'm okay with the chance of being wrong. If, for some reason, all us Christians are wrong (and Muslims, and Buddists etc.) and all that happens when I die is that my body decomposes and becomes part of the ground, I will still go on following Jesus for my lifetime. Why? For the hope, for the peace, for the motivation to do the right thing, for the purpose it gives me, for the reason for existing.

I didn't mean for this to become a religious post, but I treat this blog as the closest thing to a journal, and I am currently just putting my thoughts out there. The thoughts that I want to say all the time, but am usually too afraid to say in case someone thinks ill of me. Which is sad. I think part of the reason I am bold enough to do this is because of Nancy's memorial (look at her still impacting lives!).

The fact is, whether you live to be 5 or 100, everyone dies sometime. We don't know when it will be. If you don't like to think about death... maybe you should. Because you don't know that tomorrow you won't get into a fatal car accident, or get cancer or be caught by a stray bullet that was intended for someone else. We have no idea. Maybe you don't like to think about religion. But like it or not, you believe something. You are currently living your life with the expectation that after you die _____________. You make choices based on that assumption. And if your assumption is that nothing happens, then you might want to rethink it. Because if you're right, and I'm wrong, I'm still in good shape. If I'm right and you're wrong, your future isn't bright. Really... what do you have to lose? Go to a church, read a Bible, talk to some believers, see what we're about.

Blake doesn't like to start watching movies, but my regular ploy is that he can stay for just the first 10 minutes, and then if he doesn't like it, he can leave. He almost always stays, because he gets hooked. That's what I suggest with Christianity. Try it... you might just get hooked :-)

Friday, August 20, 2010

CSA 14

Urg.... having issues with uploading to photoshop today, not sure why. Anyways.... this picture is from the blogger upload, sorry if its small.

Okay, so this week is much of the normal, but we are pleased with it.

Lots of citrus again, oranges, grapefruit, and limes.

We got dill this week which was exciting, as well as apples.

A few somewhat typical ones are zucchini, lettuce, and green beans.

We got tomatoes again, which is really good because our tomato crop has declined recently. We are still getting them, but just not that often, and we love them, so more is better.

We got sprouts and what I think is arugula... not sure... if you identify it as another green... let me know :-)

Decisions made on the meat box-
We decided that we might decide to support the farm by every so often doing a box, but in general we are not going to do the protein boxes. We did however like cooking the whole chicken (I did it in the crockpot), and it was tasty in pasta, salads, and sandwiches during the week, so I am probably going to be looking at the whole chicken prices at Sprouts and seeing if that's a good way to go. I used the rest of the chicken (once we got the meat off) to make chicken stock, and we froze a bunch of it.

I made my own cheese with the goat's milk, and it turned out pretty good! I think I let it drain too long, because it is somewhat hard, so I microwave it before I eat it to soften it a bit. Otherwise though... it was great!

We are going to cook the second kind of beef we got from the farm this week in carne asada. I am excited about that! The other beef was good, but was hard to eat around between the bone and the tendon/cartilage/fat stuff.

We are still glad we tried it, but we knew all along that it wasn't the best choice financially, but if it was extra tasty and such a great thing to have, we were willing to make that sacrifice, but instead our plan is to get the organic/free range chicken and beef from Sprouts, preferably when it goes on sale.

Our top two biggest concerns were how it arrived (little ice pack, cardboard box, big mess, some broken eggs) and how little food it was for the price. It was everything it advertised it was... but it was a small chicken... and small eggs. Big beef... but overall, not enough to last 3 weeks... like I said, all we have left after the first week is the second kind of beef we were given... otherwise, it only lasted a week, and its way too much money for every week.

Oh well.

You never know till you try. :-D

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meat CSA and CSA 14

We got our first meat box today... and it might be our last :(

The website never specified exactly how it was kept cold till it arrived, but I was spoiled by the images of Omaha Steaks presentation in my head (in a Styrofoam box with dry ice). I assumed that being beef, chicken and milk, it would be very cold in the transport process. The box was cardboard... and the meat was kept cold by two icepacks (6 by 4 inch icepacks if I had to guess). Probably fine... but a bit scary.

The chicken was on the small side, but I had been prepared for that by reading how they artificially plump the chicken many times in the supermarket. But I wasn't prepared for how small the eggs were... or that a few of them were broken in transport.

I, thankfully, did not deal with getting the beef out of the bag, Blake did, but he described how it was a very red mess all over the counter. I am not even sure what cuts of beef we got (I plan on trying to find it online). There are two small, thick chunks with a big bone in them, and one rectangular block looking piece. Its a lot of beef, but who knows how to cook it.

Anyways... overall, it was disappointing. I guess I shouldn't have expected as much as I did out of the small farm, but I did.

We aren't sure what to do quite yet... but the fact is that with this small of a chicken, it won't last 3 weeks, we don't know exactly what to do with the beef, we are nervous about the cooling method for transport, and it doesn't even pencil out financially.

If we buy the same stuff at the store, its bigger, and we know what cuts we are getting, and we can decide how much to buy each week, and keep our costs down that way. Price per pound might be similar... but paying even the same amount for meat that has been transported with questionable methods, that we don't even know what we're getting?

Eh... like I said, disappointing experiment.

We were hoping that the CSA box made up for it.


It was okay... but we needed a stellar box to get us out of our disappointment with the meat, and this box wasn't it.

First off, we didn't see a trade box this week. It might have been a bag of grapefruit near the boxes, but it might not, so we didn't trade anything. If there had been the regular trade box, we would have gotten rid of the basil and the radishes... but there wasn't... so we have them still.

I liked the radishes best as hashbrowns, so that's what they will become, and the basil will be put to work in a pesto (combined with some of our own).

We got lettuce, lime, avocados, tomatoes and cilantro, which will go into a taco salad.

We got more oranges and grapefruit, which are great, and will be thoroughly enjoyed.

We got two bags of sprouts, a bunch of little cucumbers, and two zucchini.

Nothing bad (well... there are radishes...but otherwise...) but nothing that really got us saying oh, wow, yay, look at what we got! (like a new fruit or kale or something would have done).

I suppose life is full of disappointments. Could be worse. I guess the biggest thing with the meat box is that we had decided to buy it even though it cost a bit more, because it sounded so much better, but discovered that it really wasn't worth the extra money.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

CSA 13


Wow... citrus explosion this week! Their trees must be doing well lol!

As you can see from the picture, this week has a tremendous amount of citrus... but this is a good thing!

No less than 6 grapefruit, and 9 oranges, plus 3 limes (joining some of last week's limes in the cupboard). But I must say that this is definitely better than the weeks that we had so little citrus we had to split one each night instead of getting one of our own, and infinitely better than the weeks that we were bummed because there was no oranges or grapefruits.

To be fair, the box originally had one less orange, and included basil and rosemary. We traded the herbs for an orange without knowing just how many we already had. It was probably still a good decision, although Blake now thinks that we should have gotten beets instead of an orange.

We are also pretty excited about the beets. Before the CSA boxes began, I cannot recall ever eating a beet...or even being offered one. I had heard about these vegetables, but never in a good way... but Blake and I really enjoy them as long as we let them steam enough. Last time I got impatient and took them out before they were done, and the slightly hard parts were not so tasty. I am going back to our first recipe with them this week and glazing them in a orange honey sauce.

We got green beans... although we already had a bunch from our own garden and my parent's garden, and Blake said that we will need to eat them with every meal lol! I will see what I can do, but worst case scenario is that I freeze some of them for another time.

Also in the box, two heads of lettuce, a bunch of green onions, sprouts, yellow squash and an avocado.

Even though its summer, I am planning on making a soup this week with the squash and the green beans. I am also planning on having a citrus salad with salmon one night, and making orange chicken another night... those citrus will be put to good use!

Great box week!

Monday, August 2, 2010

CSA - Meat

As a result of Food Inc, we decided to make a few changes to our food.

One is that we strive for more organic food in our basket at the store, including many more products than just our produce.

Secondly, we now make sure our eggs are both cage free and organic.

But third, we decided to join another CSA. This one is for meat.

It is from a farm called Rainbow ranch. After you become a member (small yearly fee) you can buy things like their protein basket on a weekly basis. The best part is that we are not locked into a certain amount of baskets that we have to get, we are planning on playing it by ear on how fast the food goes.

A weekly basket (first one on its way, we'll get it sometime next week) includes:
1 Fresh Whole Chicken. 1 Quart Fresh Raw Goats Milk. 1 Dozen Fresh Eggs. (may be chicken, turkey game bird eggs or mixed) 3.0 lbs - 5.0 lbs pastured, grass fed, organic beef (farm choice) different cuts each week. (freshly frozen, vacuum packed, wrapped and labeled direct from my butcher)

The tricky thing about this pack is that we will probably go through the eggs in a week, the chicken in two weeks, and the beef in three. lol. The goat's milk is completely new for us, and I have lots of ideas for it ranging from simply making it into cheese or fudge, to as exciting as making our own soap/shampoo from it.

Right now, for cost reasons, our goal is to stretch it to the three weeks. For the record, we are knowingly spending more a month for groceries because of these changes. It took us a lot of debating before deciding to do this for that reason. But, the movie pointed out that many people decided to not eat ethnically just because of the cost increase... and we would be hypocrites to say that we want the chicken and beef that is treated right... but not when it costs extra.

So... we are supporting a local(ish) farm that does it right. Our beef is 100% from start to finish grass fed, pastured and grazed on virgin clean pasture.

Here's what the website says about their chicken:

"Growing all natural, organically grown, free range, grass-fed heritage poultry since 1991, in a humane, sanitary, stress free, cage free, safe and clean environment; and our care and husbandry is second to none.

Our heritage poultry, range in the warm sun and fresh breeze. They live as nature intended. Scratching and pecking on nature's best grasses, native weeds, wild flowers, fresh vegetables, fruits, dried seeds, alfalfa, clover and natural vegetation with an abundant supply of fresh, clean water. You won't find a cleaner feeding system anywhere! Our effective eco-system practices are environmentally friendly and ecologically safe, which assures a strong foundation to continue building on a productive self sustainable living system. NO Medications-NO Hormones - NO Steroids - NO Antibiotics - NO Additives - NO Pesticides - NO Herbicides - NO Animal-By-Products - NO Arsenicals - NO G.M.O.'s - and NO Artificial Grow Lights."

I love hearing this stuff!!!

This is not to say that this program doesn't have some cons/ more difficult parts

1- It is a whole chicken. So I either have to roast/slow cooker cook the whole thing, and then save the parts, or Blake will have to butcher it so we can freeze the parts. There is a silver lining though, and that's that I am going to make my own chicken stock from the parts we don't eat.

2- We don't choose our beef cuts. This is both good and bad. I like the forced variety, and it will have us experiment with cuts we don't normally eat, but it also means that there will be beef portions that we will have to figure out what to do with. It could be any of these:
T-bone steak, Sirloin Steak, Sirloin Tip Roast (Tri-Tip, Front or back) , Boneless Swiss Steak, Rump Roast, Rib Steak (AKA: Cowboy Steak), 7-Bone Roast, Boneless Shoulder, Short Ribs, Chuck Steak, Stew Meat, Ground Beef.

3- It comes with goat's milk. We have never had goat's milk... but its definitely not our regular non-fat lol, so we will have to figure out what to do with it. Like I said above, I have plans, just not sure exactly what yet.

Anyways... we are both excited to be taking this additional step towards green living. I'll update more when we get it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CSA 12 plus a few random updates

We were very excited about this box this week.

In addition to our staples, like lettuce, strawberries, carrots and avocados, we got some zucchini this week, green beans, bean sprouts, limes and oranges. We also got apples and cantaloupe! You have to imagine two more little apples because they didn't make it home and into the picture :-D. We got basil, thought about trading it, but were too late to trade it for anything but more carrots, which we didn't need even more than basil (we still have carrots from last week, and plenty growing in the garden as well.) So we decided to keep the basil, at least its something I don't have to pick. I don't really like cantaloupe, but Blake does, so that's still great.

The reason we ate the apples already is because we were coming home from the Orange County fair. We go every year, mostly to walk around and see things, and because its a tradition since I was little. We get really excited about the fair food... and then we eat it... and decide we miss our fruits/veggies! So, yesterday we had a interesting corn dog that was a hot dog, inside a zucchini, and then dipped in the corn and fried. It was pretty good :-) We also had some fresh chips with a jalapeno cheese sauce, which we enjoyed until we ran out of sauce, and then we didn't eat much more of it. For dessert, we shared a plate of chocolate dipped raspberries and boysenberries. It was all good... but we wanted some straight fruits and vegetables, that were not dipped in chocolate or fried! So we picked up our box, looked inside it for what we could eat immediately, and found some of the apples, and they disappeared on the ride home. We also had some wheat toast with avocado on it to satisfy our craving for more food that wasn't fair food. :-)

In other news, I spent Tuesday with my good friend Erin, and her two adorable kids Elaynea and Jeremiah. It helped me realize just how tough kids are, and I was happy to lend her a hand throughout the day as times came up that she had to focus on one or the other. Elaynea is going through potty training now, so much of our conversation included interruptions to check if she was still dry, and if she needed to go. :-) She is talking up a storm now, although you can't always understand her (Erin translates sometimes... and sometimes she can't even figure out what Elaynea is trying to say!). I brought some books over that were in my 2nd grade classroom that I don't need for 4th for them to get some enjoyment out of before we have kids or I go back to a primary grade, and she really enjoyed them. Her favorites were the ones where it was about counting candies.

She doesn't totally get counting yet, but it is so cute! She does pretty well up to 5, but after, she can sometimes get up to eight, and then she just keeps repeating seven, eight, seven eight etc. Also, sometimes I would ask her to count the M&M on the page and she would tell me what color it was instead. :-) Oh, and she definitely has a 2yr old attention span, at least when I was there, we never made it through a book before she grabbed another one, or a doll, or asked mom for a snack etc. She definitely loved me though, and would frequently choose to hold my hand instead of mom's as we crossed streets, sometimes she wanted me to carry her. Towards the end of my visit, she fell asleep on my shoulder. (awww.... so cute!!!!).

Jeremiah was cute in his own way as well, but he is only 9 months old, so he is harder to interact with. He was interested in everything I was doing with Elaynea, and wanted to grab the books we were looking at, and when we ate lunch, he was very intent on trying to grab anything within reach (so we spent lunch finding out exactly what was in his reach, and having to move it). He doesn't like sitting still, so most of the time Erin or I (mostly Erin) was bouncing him, and singing to him. He definitely likes attention.

Overall it was a really fun time hanging out with Erin and her kids, and I hope that we can get together at least one more time before the summer ends.

The last update is that we recently watched the movie Food Inc. and learned a lot more than we knew before about our food. The biggest impact it had on us is that we realized that while we are fairly careful about what produce we eat (CSA or organic from the store for the most part), we have not thought about our meat... at all. Its not even about the chemicals that go into most meat products out there in stores and restaurants, its more about how the animals are treated during their lifetimes! Neither of us want to become vegetarians after watching this, but we do want to be more conscious about only buying and eating meat that was treated nicely before it was our food. I won't go into more details for anyone that doesn't want to know them, but if you are interested, watch Food, Inc., it will really change the way you think about what food you are eating. The saddest part is that except for Chipotle, In and Out, and possibly Chick-fil-A, we won't be eating meat at restaurants much anymore, if at all. (I know, we already screwed up yesterday at the fair... its really hard to try to live that conscious of your food!).

Anyways, there are my latest updates!