Sunday, June 12, 2011

Small Change: Find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Share!

Although we have started our own garden, we aren't seasoned enough to be able to count on growing all of our own produce.  This year, I am very excited that we have purchased a share at a local farm.  The share will consist of 17 weekly bundles of fresh goods.  This coming Wednesday is the first week and I am super excited to pick up our goodies!  I am looking forward to seeing the benefits of buying and supporting local food and learning how to cook with in season veggies that I don't usually eat or cook with.  If you are interested in this idea, here is how we got started:

  1. Visit the website and search for farms offering shares in your local area;
  2. Reach out to the farms of interest and ask any questions you may have about their practices, use of chemicals etc.  Many of the farms have websites that offer all of the information at your fingertips;
  3. Find out information about the different sizes and costs of shares;
  4. Go for it!
If purchasing a full season share feels like too big of a commitment, don't forget that websites like farm fresh also provide a lot of information about local farmers' markets. Farmers' markets are another great way to eat local, fresh food and support local businesses without the full season purchase.

For our first season, my sister-in-law and I decided to share a large family share.  This would allow us CSA rookies to use fresh, local produce for our families without risk of wasting.  As for the budget, the 17 weeks of fresh veggies breaks down to about $17.65/week for each family.  Not bad!  I'll keep you posted on the goods as they come in!

Although our CSA share is just starting this week, I am confident that this will be a small change with large benefits.  Here is how I see it:

Small Change
  • Research local farms offering shares;
  • Reach out to the farms to get more information;
  • Plan and purchase a CSA share for the season!
Large Benefits
  • Support local farms/business:
  • Feed the family freshly grown produce;
  • Meet the people who grow your family's food;
  • Learn how to cook/bake with new foods that are fresh and in season!
Here's to a great summer!
Thursday, June 2, 2011

Luxury Chicken Housing!

Check this out! My husband and brother-in-law did a seriously amazing job with building our chicken coop.

Definite curb appeal for birds, if you ask me.

They worked incredibly hard to get this project accomplished during a stretch of uncooperative weather. Thank you! Thank you!  A very short time ago, these little chickens were all cute and fuzzy.  Today, it is clear that they are no longer baby chicks and they are well on their way to being full grown chickens.

Just chillin' in the new house

The tiny toddler reminding them to drink water.  I guess she is right- hydration is important.

Check out the cute little side door!
So, there you have it.  One step closer to super fresh eggs!  I hope your week is going well.
Sunday, May 15, 2011

Training Tales

Without a doubt, last week's training highlight was my first outing of the season on the tri bike.  After a couple of years on a borrowed bike full of good karma, I was fortunate to invest in an entry level tri bike of my own last year.  You will quickly learn that biking is my weakness if you check out a post on my tri training blog .  It isn't that I have physical limitations to it- it's that I'm a chicken.  I have a lot of technical cycling skills to develop and I need more confidence to stop doing things like feather the brakes the entire way down hills etc.  All in time!

Last Saturday, the weather was beautiful and I got to head out on a training ride with a training buddy.  I am always amazed at the different demands on the body between actual road cycling and spinning class.  Despite regular spinning classes and/or use of my spinning bike all winter long, the first road ride of the season brings out aches and pains in muscles that I forgot were part of cycling.  My neck ached from using the aero bars and those pesky hip flexors started to yell a little bit towards the end of the ride. 

We rode just under 22 miles on the Olympic distance course of the upcoming MA State Triathlon. For me, that's a darn good first ride of the season!

In other training, I only headed out for 2 runs this week; one not so good and the other felt awesome and finished up just under 5 miles.  Swimming has been neglected like my house plants this week (it's a work in progress) and I squeezed in couple of yoga workouts to round out with some strength and flexibility training.  All in all, not a bad week!  I hope you were able to get some healthy time for yourself this week too!
Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all you mommies out there (especially mine).  It's been a pretty awesome weekend around here.  Weather has been fantastic and we are shaking the winter finally!  We started Friday evening with a family run- Mom, Dad, tiny toddler, dog and all.  Yesterday, I finally got out on the tri bike for the first ride of the season! Woohoo....

Today is shaping up to be a beautiful day.  As I reflect on Mother's Day, I am very thankful for such a happy, healthy family and I wish you all the same.  We started our morning making healthy blueberry muffins (more on this recipe later).

Here is my sweet pea enjoying them....
Notice the attentive yet discreet dog under the table just hoping something is dropped....
These must be really yummy because the dog just had to make it a little bit more obvious that she was waiting for some muffin herself...
Who can resist those puppy eyes?

Have a wonderful Sunday and a Happy Mother's Day!
Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sweet Pea Pancakes

Several months ago I had to experiment with many recipes to get our little one to eat anything other than rice puffs.  I needed to find a way to hide fruit so she would eat some.  One of these recipes has morphed into a weekend breakfast staple in our house.  In fact, this dish has become expected by the ruler of the roost (yep- I admit it in writing) to the point that I find myself pulled over to the oven by little hands on weekend mornings as I hear "C'mon mommy....pancake." And who can resist then?  Our little sweet pea loves them! So here is our super quick recipe and these portions make 4 decent sized pancakes- the perfect amount for 2 people to share:

-1/3 cup flour (Ideally,  we use our own ground flour but I will also substitute store bought wheat flour if we haven't kept up with grinding)
-1/3 cup of your favorite oatmeal
-1 egg
-Cinnamon to your flavor preference
-Dash of vanilla extract
-Fruit: I have used mashed banana and/or frozen or fresh blueberries but the options are endless
-enough organic milk to bring the mixture to a pancake batter consistency

Prepare a cooking skillet with cooking spray or a small amount of oil and set on medium heat while you mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Pour onto the skillet, two pancakes at a time, and flip accordingly.  Serve with a dash of real maple syrup, agave or even honey! Throw some fresh fruit on top and don't forget your coffee!

Happy Saturday! With this beautiful weather, we are gearing up for a weekend run later today!
Saturday, April 16, 2011

They're here....and super cute!

I didn't think I would find these little guys so darn cute! All six came home Friday evening chirping away in a ventilated box.  I predicted my reaction would be something like, "Eh- when will my eggs be ready?" Nope- I was truly taken back by how stinkin' cute they are.  So here is the first photo of the newbies!

How did my sweet little girl react to them?  Well, at first she stepped away...seemed to be a little bit nervous.  Within minutes, that all changed and I have made numerous extra trips to the basement so she can check on the chickens.  Last night, I had to bring her back downstairs at bed time so she could say "Good night chickens."  Here is a quick video of her getting to know her chickens yesterday:


This morning, at the lovely hour of sometime before six, she was already awake and "chickens" was one of her first words.  Here she is going downstairs first thing to say "Good morning chickens."

So far they are a hit.  I know that none of the real work has started yet, but we'll keep you posted as we learn! Have a wonderful weekend!
Thursday, April 14, 2011

And 6 More Makes.....11!

So I left off months ago and affirmatively established myself as the world's worst blogger....Well, truth be told I have been doing some blogging over at triblogs, which is where I try to keep some focus to my adventures in triathlon and fitness.  I have been debating about merging these two blogs for a few reasons.  First, I clearly do not keep up well on these two ventures that I have going outside of family and work.  Second, isn't fitness also part of this whole quest for simple, healthy living? Why keep it separate? I welcome any thoughts or suggestions for a makeover....

"And 6 More Makes....11!"  What on earth am I talking about? Well, my Happy New Year post referred to us thinking about getting chickens.  The thinking is apparently coming to an end because the little guys are arriving tomorrow....all six of them! Excited? Yes.  Nervous? Yes.  A little overwhelmed? Glad you asked....YES!  I know that these little guys will be part of the clan once we are in the swing of things.  I also know that there are many, many people out there with backyard chickens and have lists of positive things to say about the experience.  I also know that I love the idea of fresh eggs for the thousands of things that I want to bake.  Lastly, I love the idea of my little girl growing up with animals.  It just so happens that I do not know too much about chickens right now.  I have been husband went to a chicken seminar...we have notes of all the things we need to do when these darlings arrive tomorrow.  I just don't know how the time commitment will feel....Mom, Dad, Toddler, Dog, Cat and Chickens #1-6. Phew. Good thing we're morning people I guess...

The new additions will be living in our cellar under a heat lamp for a while until they're old and strong enough to venture outside to our coop, which is still in the design phase.  We have a few weeks before we even have to worry about that part thankfully.  So, hopefully I will be reporting back soon with some shots of these little babies! Wish us luck....or call us crazy! Your call.
Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

With a new year upon us, I'm thinking about the successes and bumps in the road of 2010 in an effort to focus on what I want out of 2011.  I'm learning that I'm happiest when I eat right, stay active, rest up, use less, contribute more and laugh often.  And guess what- a happier mom does make for a happier family.  So, let's list some specifics that kept us on track to how we want to live.

Things that worked....
  1. Starting a garden- nothing better than picking your own veggies and herbs for your family's next meal
  2. Rain Barrels- I never realized just how MUCH water one down pour creates and can be collected for the garden
  3. Organizing and planning meals for the week and/or month ahead of time- I kick myself anytime life gets crazy and I divert from doing this- costs go up, quality of food and nutrition goes down and then I generally feel like junk until I get back on the wagon.  That old saying is true: "You are what you eat."
  4. Composting- we organized a pretty large compost pile and it's amazing how much compost we actually generate between grass clippings, leaves and produce waste.  I received a gift of a counter top composter for my birthday this year and I think this will be key to keeping up with composting over the winter.
  5. Turning the TV Off- many nights I have found myself mindlessly channel surfing....and nothing is on.  For some reason, I keep changing the channel with the false thought that something exciting must have started in the few seconds since I last flipped through.  Then one night I asked myself this question: "Is this worth me being tired tomorrow morning?" Nope.  Off it a book....get to bed earlier....maybe even conserve some electricity.
  6. Helping Out- I only volunteered at one event around Thanksgiving this year, but it reminded me that making a contribution of time to help out every now and then builds communities, feels good and helps me focus on what's really important.  Yes, life gets busy.  Volunteering every day, every week or even every month might not be an option, but I can and should make the effort to make it a part of our life.
  7. Revisiting the list of "Things that Worked!"  Distractions come up from time to time and we stray.  Taking time to refocus helps with this.
Some things that I tried but they are still a work in progress:
  1. Getting rid of paper towels- I tried, I really did.  I stopped buying them cold turkey and announced to the household that reusable, washable cloths were just as effective and can be thrown in the laundry every week to be used again and again.  I looked my hubby in the eye and said "We won't even miss them."  They have since crept back into our house.  2 pets, 3 people....the paper towel holder is back...on the counter.  I need help with this one people!  If you have a system that works, let me know!
  2. No Cleaning Chemicals- I experimented with different cleaning solutions using things like baking soda, lemons and vinegar.  I steamed my carpets without the cleaning solutions and just relied on the old fashioned, hot steam.  Often, these things worked. Every now and then there was a mess where I confess that I took the easy way out and cleaned up quick: chemicals and all.  This one requires more research...and organization!
Where are we headed for 2011?
  1. A bigger garden! We couldn't get enough of it this year....we learned from some of our mistakes and we happily ate all of our successes.  We're already looking at seeds...we need to look at some organic pesticides....and we need to work on the timing of our planting this year.
  2. We're thinking about chickens...maybe.  I'll have to keep you posted on this one.  I love the idea of fresh eggs and the idea of the little one learning by having animals to care for.  We just need to be sure that we have the time to keep up with the commitment before we add more animals to the clan.  I would love to hear from anyone that has chickens or knows about caring for them.
As we wrap up this new year's weekend and get back to the grind, I wish you all a wonderful new year!  Stay healthy!