Archive for July, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! 31 YEARS!!! Congrats!

Sorry I don’t have any more recent pictures.

My mom and dad are owners of the beautiful Orchard House Bed & Breakfast.  They found the Orchard House just 3 years ago after a long time search to make their dream come true.  You can read more about their place and their story at www.orchardhousebb.com. I am so proud of you guys!

Read Full Post »

Eat Local – Part 2

Yesterday we discussed bugs and more specifically the effect of pesticides on bugs.  This is one of the reasons I am choosing more and more to eat local food when I can.  Generation Y, Americas current youth, is actually expected to have a SHORTER life expectancy than that of their parents!!!  Sure there are many, many factors that contribute to this but I can’t help but think it may be because of what we are putting in our mouths.  Obesity is a huge problem in this country.  Congressmen, legislators and doctors say it all has to do with our food choices and I couldn’t agree more.  Now the aforementioned individuals are probably referring to candy and soda which I do not deny is a major if not main problem with our youth.  However, I have yet to hear anyone suggest that a main cause may be hidden inside of the foods we consider “safe”.  Things like fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs, dairy products.  The things we don’t typically consider “junk food”.  When we spray our foods with pesticides, feed our animals food that has been grown using pesticides and inject our food source with hormones and antibiotics we are really just asking for it.  To assume that all of this gets washed off or cooked out is a false assumption!

Before you read any further I want you to grab a pencil and jot down a list of the 10 to 12 most common fruits and vegetables you purchase in your local grocery store.  Set this list aside. We will discuss it in a moment! 

The Enviornmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), a non-profit environmental group working in Washington, D.C., recently did a simulation to show how the average american can lower his pesticide intake by nearly 90%.  Due to high demands for certain fruits and vegetables, growers are forced to take drastic measures to maintain a steady flow of product to consumers.  Listed below are the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables on the market.  By eliminating these items and choosing ORGANIC varieties instead you can prevent your exposure to nearly 14 pesticides DAILY!

12 Most Contaminated – Buy These Organic

• Apples
• Bell Peppers
• Celery
• Cherries
• Imported Grapes
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Potatoes
• Red Raspberries
• Spinach
• Strawberries

Now compare this to that list we made a few moments ago.  The top 4 items on my list were potatoes, peppers, celery and apples! YIKES!

So where does eating locally come into the picture?  Fortunatly more and more grocery chains are beginning to purchase and sell more organic foods.  While this is great it is still not the most ideal situation.  The best way to know what you are getting and how it is grown is to buy it directly from the farmer himself.  Small farmers are more likely to grow organic produce.  If they do use pesticides they are typically using far less than mass market producers and your food has less distance to travel so it comes to you fresher.  Farmers Markets and Farm Stands are great places to buy local.  Here are my some of my tips for shopping at the market.

1. Browse before you buy.  Look to see what is currently available.  Look for signs indicating a particular item is organic (though it won’t always say).

2.  Talk to the vendors.  Ask if they grow the food themselves.  You would be surprised how many times I have seen peaches in a basket at a market and the vendor tells me they were shipped in from California!

3. Ask if it is organic.  If it is not, mention that you are interested in organic and ask if they have considered going organic on anything.  Many farms are slowly making the change one product at a time.  You may find out that this farmers peaches are not organic but his green beans are.

4. Be flexible.  While buying organic is ideal it is not always possible.  I live in an area where the word organic refers to something you can throw into the compost pile.  Most people in my area are unfortunatly not all that concerned with growing organic produce yet it is slowly becoming more accessible.  Buying Local/Organic food is wonderful but if your only choice is just Local it is still a better choice than buying from the grocery store.

In my next “episode” of Eat Local we will discuss food travel and will delve a little deeper into the true meaning and purpose of eating local.

Read Full Post »

Eat Local – Part 1

“Eat Local” and “Local Food” seem to be the buzz words this summer.  I think if you understand the reasons for your choices this is a great way to go.  A few years back there was a big push for everything organic which is where the “eat local” movement kind of got it’s start.  Now the major corporations of America have jumped on the “organic” bandwagon and you can buy “organic” foods at just about any market in the country. 

I am all for organic foods. I think as a whole the US relies to much on pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.  Our nation is becoming full of overweight and unhealthy people.  Myself included.  Recently I caught a program on HGTV where the hosts were visiting a local organic produce farm to procure some food for their restaurant.  During the show they also visited a farm stand that was supplied by a single farmer.  Since their interests were in organic produce they asked the farmer what percentage of his farm was organic.  The farmer laughed and said, “0%!  Are you crazy?! If I don’t spray my crops every 4 to 5 days I wont be able to grow a thing!  Who want tomatoes with spots on them!”  I sat there dumbfounded. The hosts had a look of sheer surprise on their faces.  I couldn’t believe what I had heard!

In a nation that got its start because of the hardworking farmer we have become a people afraid of buying tomatoes with spots on them!  75% or more of the seed companies in the United States are owned by the companies that make products such as Roundup.  The problem with Roundup is that these products not only kill the bad bugs but the good bugs as well.

There are 2 basic types of bugs.  First we have the plant eating bugs such as horn-worms, Japanese beetles, and aphids.  These are the bugs the farmers and the gardeners fear.  Then there are the bug eating bug such as ladybugs, spiders, hornets and lots more.  So basically we have herbivores and predators.   The plant eating bugs reproduce VERY quickly.  The predator bug reproduce slowly but will eat thousands upon thousands of the plant eating bug in it’s lifetime.  Essentially they balance each other out.  When farmers use products such as Roundup they are killing all the bugs at the same rate.  Well some of the bugs will have survived the mass killing and NOW we have a problem.  Lets assume that in a 1 foot by 1 foot plot 10 plant eating bugs and 10 predator bugs survive.  The food source for the predator bugs has diminished so they reproduce very slowly.  The food source for the plant eaters has increased because they are not competing for the food source and they begin to reproduce very quickly.  The 10 predator bugs can not keep up with the growth of the plant eaters, the perfectly balanced system is now unbalanced and the bugs the farmer was trying to get rid of have multiplied. Only now these bugs no longer have a natural predator to help keep them at bay.  So what is a farmer to do? Spray again! And the problem just gets worse.

Our food supply is tainted with chemical pesticides.  Bugs become resistant to the pesticides so scientists use hormones and antibiotics to create more disease and pest resistant plants.  The cycle is never ending and by the time that tomato makes it to your table there is no telling how many ways it was genetically altered and how many types of poison may have leeched through the roots and into the flesh.  In fact, did you know that because of high demand for “fresh” produce most mass market tomato farms pick all of their fruit while it is still green.  After harvest it is sprayed with a chemical that helps it to “ripen” while it is en route to your local grocery store! YUM!

I will have more tomorrow on why I have decided that eating local is a great idea. I will talk about the transport of food as well as the word “organic” and what it really means! 

Read Full Post »

Somehow I missed making a post about my garden project! I was sure I had but it is no where to be found!  My hubby and I celebrated our 7th anniversary today.  Earlier this summer I was thinking about how in our 7 years in our house I had never planted anything in front of the house!  It didn’t have flower beds and I always spent the summer attacking it with a weedwacker.  So back in June I decided I would finally put in a flower bed.  Here is what it looked like on June 3rd.

Well I went out and took a picture today and this is how it looks now.

The tall plants are sunflowers! I planted them so late but they are finally starting to form flower buds so it shouldn’t be long now.  The Wisteria plant on the trellis is still surviving! It hasn’t gotten much taller but it has a ton of new growth.  I lost one of my lavender plants! It just shriveled up and died.  The other one looks great though.  I planted two Rosemary plants.  One looks fantastic and the other looks okay but the dogs have dug it up 6 times! If it survives I will be really surprised.  In the second picture you can see some pots. In those I have some various herbs growing.  I plan to add more lavender plants and some flowers next spring.  Since I started it so late I was afraid to plant too much because we were getting into the really hot part of the year.

You may also have noticed the addition of my gnome Roy. My husband calles him “_______ Roy”  The underlined part is him saying Dick under his breath.  Richie wanted to call the gnome Dick and I wouldn’t let him so now he calls him “_____Roy” and gives me an evil grin every time we talk about him.  Now you may be asking yourself why we talk about a gnome. I have no idea. We are strange!  Our dogs do not like Roy and everytime I go outside he is laying down in the dirt!  I am assuming it is the dogs but Roy may just be lazy.  I haven’t decided yet!

Read Full Post »

Mmmm Pizza

A few years ago my husband and I were on a homemade pizza kick after our trip to Italy and made it everyweek for a month or so.  I bought pre-packaged dough and hated it.  I bought those pre-made “pizza rounds” and they were okay but weren’t the taste we were going for.  I made home-made dough but found the process long and tedious and the results seemed to vary like the wind. The recipe was quite complicated so there were a lot of places you could go wrong.  Eventually we gave up and went back the the pizza joint pizza instead of making our own.

Now, I absolutly love Tommy’s Pizza our favorite pizza place which happens quite possibly to be the best pizza in America!  (Sorry Josh but until I try Sam’s I have to go with Tommy’s!)   I love Tommy and his family and the atmosphere is really neat but everytime I shell out 16 or 17 bucks for a pizza (with the amount of stuff they give you this really is a bargain!) I think, I could be doing this at home!

As I mentioned a few posts back, I really enjoyed the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  After reading the book I have really changed my thoughts on food. I have a much deeper appreciation for farmers and for the concept of eating Local Food.  Even before reading this book I was trying to buy more products that were made locally but more out of fun than support for the local farmers.  Lately however I have become acutely aware and sometimes astonished about where my food comes from.

 So that brings us back to the pizza. I happened onto a farmers market today that had some fresh locally grown organic grape tomatoes. I also picked up some goat cheese. I decided when I came home I was gonna make some pizza.  In the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle there was a super simple recipe for pizza crust that I thought I would try.  Here is the recipe http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/Pizza.pdf .  I made two pizzas.  I put tomato sauce and mozzerella on one for my husband.  For the other pizza I roasted the grape tomatoes and some garlic.  I also made carmalized onions and topped it all with the crumbled goat cheese.  It was sooooooo yummy!  Here is a picture if my pizza.

Read Full Post »

Sisterly Tradition

Today is my 29th birthday.  I went to the post office this morning knowing I would get cards from various relatives.  However, there was one item I was truely looking forward to. One item I knew would be there! Somthing that has been waiting for me on my birthday every year for 10 of the last 11 years.

It all started July 25th 1996! I opened the card my sister gave me for my 18th birthday and found this…

On the inside of the card was this message…

So…I did! I saved the card for 22 Months and gave it back to her on her 18th birthday.  We have been passing it back and forth since then.  As of this morning the card looks like this…

The life of this card has not been without some interesting moments.  My sisters birthday is in May and mine is in July.  When Amanda gets the card she only has to hang onto it for just under 2 months.  I on the other hand am responsible for the safety of the card for the remaining 10 months of the year.  I always put the card in a special place for safekeeping.  The only problem is one year I forgot where that palce was!  In May of 2004 my sisters birthday was quickly approaching.  I suddenly realized I could not remember the location of the card. I searched and searched but could NOT find it.  I tore the house apart from top to bottom.  I just couldn’t find it. So on my sisters 24th birthday I had to inform my sister that I had lost the card.  She was a little dissapointed but was a great sport about the whole thing.  I still felt horrible.  Well I eventually forgot about the card until my birthday rolled around and I had a renwed sense of urgency to find this card.  This time I began looking in all the places I though I would NEVER hide the card.  After a few days of searching, just 2 days before my birthday, I found the card!!!! I was SOOOOOOOOOO happy! It was in a box of old photos in the guest bedroom of my house! Why on earth did I put it there?  I quickly filled out the card and popped it in the mail to my sis as a belated card. I couldn’t break the cycle.  She then returned it to me and I was then in charge of keeping it safe once more.

Each year when the card is returned to me I do several things to keep it safe. First I scan the card with all of the new signatures.  Then I make color photocopies of the card that I place in my Bank lock box “just in case”!  I then palce the card into a plastic bag and put it in the SAME secret location every year.  Hopefully Amanda and I will continue this tradition for many years to come!

Read Full Post »

As Seen on HGTV

Well the crew from HGTV’s That’s Clever came out today and filmed me for thier show!  It was really cool.  They got here just after 8 am and set up my “studio”.  My studio is actually our guest bedroom.  We took the bed out so they could film.  It will have to go back in but it sure was fun to have a “studio” for the week.  One of the girls, Kate, came in and set up all of my stuff.  She gathered some of my artwork from around the house, some of my jewelry and other fabric crafts as well as my supplies and arranged them so it looked really cool.  Lowel, the lighting and sound guy, set up big lights in the room and wired me with a mic.  “Jag”(Christine) was in charge of all of the closeup shots and Richard was the main camera guy.  After they got everything set up we went outside to shoot the intro.  First they filmed me introducing myself.  My intro line was “I like really big animals”.  Next they filmed me with my dog Thunder.  He is an English Mastiff and weighs about 175 pounds.  I said “This is my dog Thunder.  Here is a treat.” and I gave him a treat.  We tried to play frisbee but he wasn’t interested.  Next we went over to the horses and I said “These are  my horses Traveler, Baby and Buckshot and here is a treat for each of them”.  Next I said “And this is my husband Richie. Here is a treat for you.” and I stuck a cookie in his mouth!  It was funny!  I then introduced the project and we went back inside to show me making it.  Since I did two projects we spent several hours going through all of the steps and filming it.   The most important thing was to make sure I looked into the camera but that was surprisingly easy to do.  They gave me ideas of things to say but most of my “lines” were kind of up to me.  I had to resay things a few times when I got tongue tied but overall it went really well.  They even had a big monitor set up and  I was able to watch a few of the parts.  The whole experience was really really cool.  Now I just have to wait for them to edit and give me an air date for the episode.  We filmed for about 5 hours total. It will be really interesting to see how they edit it all down to a few minutes.  Anyway that was my experiance.  Here are some pictures of how they dolled up my studio.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »