Friday, October 24, 2014

9 Tips for Farmers Market shopping

As a farmers market vendor for years, I have years of experience as a buyer and a seller at farmers markets. Here are my 9 suggestions to make the most of your shopping trip

1. Arrive early. You will enjoy the best parking, freshest selection and lightest crowds. The first hour of market is the best. Many vendors will run out of product by the last hour of market.

2. Come with a list and some flexibility. If you have some specifics in mind, make a list. But be flexible enough to allow for some substitutions. If the boysenberries you hoped for aren't an option, try whatever fruit is available and in season. Some vendors - especially meat and cheese - only attend market every few weeks so keep that in mind as well.

3. Bring your own bags. This is a big push at markets now. Most vendors will have some, but you are encouraged to bring your own reusable bags. Think grocery bag and produce bag sized. They can even be plastic bags that you simply use again.

4. Think about a cart, wagon or backpack. Remember that your food is heavy and unlike a grocery store there aren't carts to borrow (but what a good idea). Wagons are the hardest to navigate around crowds. Strollers are a great option too.

5. Bring insulated bags. Much of your food will keep better if you keep it cool. Especially meat and cheese. Add at least one insulated bag to your reusable bag inventory.

6. Bring plenty of cash, ideally small bills. Breaking a $100 at 7:40 am may not even be an option. Bring plenty of 5s 10s and 20s. Some market vendors do take credit cards but know that the farmers are then paying very high fees for that service. Close to 10% of what you pay on smaller transactions can end up going right to the credit card processor. This cuts into the already tight margins of the farmer. But, in a pinch (or a big sale) many vendors will accept it.

7. Talk to the farmers. When things are busy be mindful of the other customers but don't be afraid to ask the farmer about the products or how to cook them. If you are there early, there is even more time for chatting.

8. Bring an open mind and be willing to try new things. Many farmers will have suggestions on how to cook or prepare a food. Try it out and enjoy a new food! Ugly food can be very tasty.
9. Go certified. In California we have certified markets who actually verify that the farmers grow what they sell. This helps make sure that the food is actually local and wasn't stolen. No all markets are certified, but the vendors will often still showcase their certificates. Think of it as a certificate of authenticity.

What do you think? What tips am I missing to make the most of your farmers market shopping trip?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Citrus Lane Review and Giveaway!

I got another Citrus Lane box in the mail this month! I still wish they would consider a quarterly option which would fit our family needs and budget a bit better. But until then I turn my subscription on and off to make sure I don't get them every month. You can check out my June box for another sample box.

Citrus Lane is a monthly subscription service for your child. Each box includes a new combo of items for your child based on age and gender. Shipping is included in the price, which starts at abut $30 a month.  Each month is a new surprise. You can also buy individual items. I have twice now purchased an additional item from Citrus Lane after first loving the one in the monthly box.

This month the box looks like this:

The Melissa and Doug wooden sorting clock is going to I be a big hit. He has been fascinated with clocks for a while and the numbers will allow this to be a very educational toy. And no surprise since it is Melissa and Doug, it is very well made. It appears to have a value of $15.

The Little Red Hen book will be a great addition to our library. I think this is the first book I have received in Citrus Lane so I'm very happy to see it. I would be more inclined to keep the subscription more frequently if there was a book every month. This appears to be worth about $9.

There is a bath puzzle too. But, it is an 18 and up toy and would have fit us better a year or two ago. We have zero need for more bath toys. So, I will probably keep and gift it to someone. Value $12.

There is also a snack sample. I love adding these to my purse to randomly have while we are out and about. 

I love the addition of the book to this box and I know the clock will be a hit. Even not liking the bath item, the box ends up being a pretty good value when you factor in shipping. So, now is your turn to try it! 

They sent me this in my box:
I'd love to pass it along to you - enter below for your chance to win the code and get your very own box!

Even if you do not win the free box, I have a great consolation prize. :) If you want to try out Citrus Lane, follow this link to enjoy 50% off your first box. Enjoy!

Note - These are all affiliate links. I get credit on my account if you decide to enjoy the coupon code.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Circus trip and tips!

Barnum and Bailey Circus came to Sacramento this weekend. I have great memories of attending as a child - we used to get to watch them unload from the rail cars. I was very excited to take my little man and Grandma. 

I had to be in the area for another activity so I decided to purchase tickets a few months back. For some reason the opening night was half the price when I purchased. I used ticketmaster so there were a bunch of fees. My tickets were $11 each but with fees they were just under $20 per person. Parking was $12 per car. 

Thanks to buying early, these turned out to be fantastic seats. We were Row K in the lower level which was the 10th row from the floor. I was VERY pleased. We had some of the best seats in that price bracket. 

I went online the afternoon of the event to see how early we should get there. I'm go glad I looked because there was a not well advertised animal viewing that started 90 minutes before the show. My main purpose for seeing the Circus was to see the elephants. My son loves them but has never seen one in person. This animal viewing time got him about 15 feet from them. They were eating some dinner, throwing dirt and relaxing. If it was cooler, he would have just stayed to stare at them. He couldn't believe how big they were. 
And they enjoyed getting snacks off the parking lot trees. :) 

In addition to the elephants we also got VERY close to the tigers and lions. 

You could also see the goats, ponies and more. But those were less exciting for our family. We did enjoy the educational displays including this one where he could hold an elephant tooth. 

When we got inside there more more kids activities while we waited for the real show to begin. 

They even had freebies like a temporary tattoo!

We LOVED this show. It was a great value considering there were 2 hours of show plus about an hour and a half of unadvertised pre show extras. There was so much to see. Great performers, fun clowns, decor and of course the animals. 

The theatrics were very impressive. The costumes, lighting, music and props were all really well done. It all looked fresh, clean and really nice. 

I also loved that they started with the national anthem. Props for some patriotism at the Circus. 

Here are my tips to help you have a great trip!
1. Come early for the extras!
- We came over an hour early to enjoy the animal viewing time. This is not an option for all markets but it was for us. And it was awesome as I mentioned earlier. 
- When we came inside we were surprised to see a bunch of photo opportunities and a kids event right on the circus floor. This was free and I believe the photo opps here were free too. The lines were long but kids could even sit on the stunt motorcycle for pics. There was interactive activities, dress up and an elephant even came out to paint. My kiddo mostly watched for afar but did enjoy a temporary tattoo. 
2. Bring drinks and light snacks, especially if you come early. It was warm outside and my little needed some refreshment right away. We also had a baggie of cereal for munchies. This also helped keep him still while waiting.
3. Bring some glow sticks from a discount retailer. My kiddo badly wanted a glow sword but I was not about to pay $20 for one. A cheapie glow stick would have provided great distraction during intermission. 
4. When you arrive early, make time to get a booster seat. These apparently will run out early so get them while you can. My kiddo sat in it for a bit, but mostly wanted my lap. It was a good break for my lap at least and allowed him a better view.
5. Buy a snow cone. I can remember eating a one at the show as a child so we did buy one in a souveneir cup. When do you get to enjoy that otherwise? 

We had so much fun and will return to see Barnum and Bailey again! Look the. Up when they come to town and take advantage of any discount tickets! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Disneyland prep - at the Dollar Store!

We have a trip to Disneyland coming up soon. I am Disney lover and am so excited to take the little man for the first time. So, I have been researching kids and disneyland. Thank goodness for all the great bloggers out there who have shared their experiences and given me some great tips. 

One of the great tips was to get glow sticks from the Dollar Store. It seemed like an inexpensive treat for my kiddo and many people suggested they are a great activity to keep kids busy while waiting for the parades and night shows. 

So off I headed to my local Dollar Store and found these.
There were tons of styles and colors to choose from. But then I noticed these:
Yes, Disney themed glow sticks! They are much less of a value at one stick for a dollar versus 4, but not surprising when Mickey shows up. These got me thinking. What else Disney might be hidden in the Dollar Store isles? Here is what I found:
Sanitizing wipes. I'm guessing these will come in handy. There are 15 wipes. * I've since also purchased a 3 pack of Disney themed sanitizing wipes with 30 wipes total. 

Autograph book. I was expecting to find a plain one that I could decorate with stickers, but amazingly I found this Disney blank journal. I think the ones in the park are almost $10. 

Flashlight! This was in the Halloween section and seems like it will be great fun for my little man in the evenings. Hopefully we can keep him from shining it in our eyes. 

Lanyard! There were several styles to choose from and the cashier said these were new. I got the Princess  option but they had Mickey, Planes, and Monsters. The ones I found from the park were about $10 and on ebay I found them for about $6, but $1 is awesome. Too bad I found these AFTER I had already ordered a pair. So now the boys each have one and I get a girly one. Perfect for pin trading!

And these figurines! They also had some princesses, but I opted for just the basics. They are not exceptionally high quality but, they work. 

Poncho. These used to come in two packs. These will come in handy if the weather turns while we are there or if we decide to ride any wet rides. I have heard ponchos may be cheaper at Wally World so keep a look out. 

There are a few other items that I have not purchased but may be of interest:
Food storage - my store had tons of Cars themed food storage. We have plenty storage containers already so I skipped those.
Popup laundry basket - I saw a few people mention how handy this would be for organizing the dirty clothes in your hotel room. I'll be grabbing one, but didn't see them in my store.
Night light - My kiddo doesn't usually use one, but I may grab one. They had princesses and planes themed lights. 
Totes - we aren't going to the Halloween party, but the disney bags would be perfect if we were. 
Drink ware - many people mentioned decorating reusable water bottles for their families. We have our own already or this would have been a fun crafting project. 

Friday, August 8, 2014


This was my view at dawn this morning. This is what irrigating looks like for us. 

I've been meaning to do a post about irrigation for some time now. Irrigation is a pretty complex topic and really needs a very long post and a ton of pictures. So I'm going to give you the quickest version I can, because if I try to do a long one it was stay as a draft for way too long.

We irrigate all of our crops using surface water. This means that the water we use for irrigation is collected above ground. In our case it is rainfall and some snowmelt (none this year) collected during the winter months. The water is collected in man made resviours. The resivours also have the benefit of  being lakes and providing recreational opportunities. 

This is different that using well water. We do not have any ag pumps or ag wells. Our water is coming from above ground rather than below. 

Our water is delivered using a system of canals or open ditches. As seen in this picture. The open ditches are not as efficient but this system is an oldie but goodie and would be very expensive to replace. We are currently working on a project to convert an open ditch to a pipeline on 20 acres. Just for the 20 acres that project will cost about $60,000. So upgrades happen slowly.

Our water project delivers water to most of our neighbors and thousands of acres of farmland in our area. The water is running most of the time and we essentially take turns using it. It is more complicated than that, but the gist of it. 

So, this means that you only can irrigate when the water is in your area. So last night the water arrived at 6 pm. If we had decided we would prefer to sleep then we would not have the opportunity to irrigate for about 2 weeks. Crops need water to grow so that meant I had a very long night of changing irrigation water. I made changes at 11pm, 2:30 and 4:30 am and then gave it to a neighbor at 6:00 am. 

We often have people confused about why we change water at night. But we don't have much of an option. It is just the way our system works. It frequently limits our sleep, social lives and general plans. But, that's farming.

I'll try and post again with more about irrigation. It is a very complex subject. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Prenatal Cocktail

Since the main thing I craved during my pregnancy was vodka I like to refer to the vitamins I took during pregnancy (and still am taking) as my prenatal cocktail.  Seriously I’m not an alcoholic – in fact I’m not much of a drinker at all, but I craved it during my pregnancy.  Didn’t give in to that craving just in case you’re wondering.  


I hope you know that you should supplement especially while pregnant since you are growing a person.  That little person inside you is sucking away nutrients therefore you need more!  I chose Shaklee supplements for my pregnancy and swear by them. I had an uneventful pregnancy, pretty easy labor and delivery, a healthy baby, and my recovery was pretty quick too!  I credit this all to Shaklee!

Shaklee’s been around for over 50 years and is the number one natural nutrition company in the USA.  You can read more about the Shaklee difference here.

I am not a doctor but Shaklee has lots of doctors on board and this is what they recommend for pregnancy and my doctor agreed. 

Because the nutritional needs during pregnancy and lactation are unique to this stage of a women’s life, we strongly urge all women who are pregnant or nursing to discuss the use of dietary supplements with their obstetrician.

However, along with our general recommendation to eat a healthy, well balanced diet to ensure pregnant and nursing women are meeting their nutritional needs, we also recommend a combination of Shaklee supplements that can be used as alternatives to a standard prenatal vitamin once discussed with the Obstetrician.


An excellent “Shaklee alternative” would be:

2 tablets of Vita-Lea with Iron

2 tablets of B complex for the basic prenatal nutrients, in particular folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects

To provide a safe and beneficial amount of omega three fatty acids (ie. DHA):

3 softgel capsules of OmegaGuard per day are recommended to support fetal brain development

It is not uncommon for some pregnant women to need additional:

1 tablet of Iron plus C can be added providing an additional 18 mg of Iron and 60 mg of Vitamin C

And lastly:

Shaklee 180 meal smoothie prepared as directed, and used as part of healthy breakfast or midday snack provides a mother and her growing fetus with an additional 270 calories, 24 grams of high quality protein and 6 grams of fiber.

Although Vitalizer is a comprehensive nutritional foundation for virtually all adults, there are some components that might not generally be considered essential in a standard prenatal nutrition program. In addition, certain nutrients such as folic acid were not included at levels intended to support a pregnant mother and her growing baby. The use of Vitalizer during pregnancy should be discussed with the Obstetrician, who may wish to suggest an addition 1-2 B Complex and Osteomatrix as stated above if approved for you.

If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant get started with your prenatal “cocktail” today!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

What could be better than 4th of July?  Red, white, & blue, BBQ, fireworks, freedom, and celebrating this beautiful country we call home.  I love 4th of July! 

We did a little photo shoot this afternoon to celebrate, here are a few pictures:




I think this is my favorite!



A little spit up … still so cute!

Happy 4th!  Hope you have an amazing day with your family.  Please remember that our freedom is not free – thank a member of the armed forces for your freedom!