Friday, July 24, 2015

Carrot Mac & Cheese

carrot mac

This is the easiest Mac & Cheese ever!!  You only need 3 ingredients and it is perfect for babies and toddlers.  It falls apart and is easy for little hands or little forks. 

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You Need:

- Carrots (1 cup pureed – about 6 carrots)

- Pasta (2 cups dry)

- Cheese (I cup grated or cubed)

Seriously, that’s it!

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Peel and steam the carrots then put them in a blender or use an immersion blender to create a carrot puree.

Cook the pasta.

While the pasta is still hot, drain the water out and throw in the carrot puree and the cheese.

Mix it all together and you are done!

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You can serve it right away or put it in individual portions and freeze. 

I used an ice cream scoop (perfect portion for a toddler).  Put down some wax paper on a cookie sheet, make sure the mac & cheese scoops aren’t touching.   

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Put it in the freezer overnight.  Put the frozen portions in a ziplock bag and pull one out at a time for a quick lunch or dinner. 

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Yum!

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Twice!

As a former style blogger I have felt … drab this past school year. 

Finding outfits that not only fit my foreign postpartum body but were also pumping friendly, flattering, and professional has been hard. 

I used to love getting dressed and putting outfits together for work. 

Nope, not any more – I pretty much threw on what fit and what was clean.  To sum up this last school year my clothing was boring and probably had more dried milk or boogers on it than I would like to admit. 

I have been sitting back watching my sister, friends, and even my mom try stitch fix.  But, I just couldn’t pull the trigger at $65 an item on average.  Maybe someday I will sign up, I do love the idea, the style, and the confidence that comes out of a stitch fix box.

I started googling alternatives to Stitch Fix.  I found a few, but one that stood out was Twice.  Now, it doesn’t pick out clothes and send you them nor is it a subscription box, but it is a lower cost alternative to beefing up your closet. 

Twice is basically an online upscale thrift store.  They only sell certain brands.  J Crew, Banana Republic, Cole Haan are all available but Target and Forever 21 are not.  Now, don’t get me wrong Target, Forever 21, and even Wal-Mart all have a place in the fashion world (and in my closet) but better brands hold up much better. 

I love thrifting and I am pretty good about spotting quality garments among the masses of crap.  But, with a toddler running around shopping, especially at a chaotic place like a thrift store, doesn’t go very well.

I love the idea behind Twice and decided to give it a try.  There is no stylist, you pick your own clothes so it is not really the same idea as Stitch Fix but I love the fact that you try it all on in the comfort of your own home and send back what doesn’t work. 

I expected to return more than half of my purchase.  I loaded up my cart with color, texture, and mainly pattern.  I love color but I am not a fan of pattern so I wanted to step out a little and get some pattern into my closet.  I ended up with 14 pieces, 6 tops, 4 dresses, 3 pairs of jeans in various sizes, and a pair of shorts. 

It took no time at all to get here – I am very impressed with the speed of shipping and the packaging.

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Each item came in its own little bag.

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Avery loved the little bags!

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I tried everything on while my little helper was sleeping. 

Some didn’t fit, some fit great, and some I was on the fence about. 

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I ended up keeping four tops.  This is what I kept, notice the color … or lack of color I should say. 

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But the pattern!  I normally don’t buy patterned clothes, but I made sure to add things that I wouldn’t normally choose. 

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From left to right:

black blouse with white pattern (Ann Taylor Loft) $19.95 – love the flowy cut sleeve length

black and white faux wrap (White House Black Market) $27.95 – the fit of this is amazing!  Most expensive top, but I love the fit!

black short sleeved top (Daniel Rainn) $21.95 -  very loose fitting style (good at hiding my mum tum) and I love the texture

print sleeveless top (Ann Taylor Loft Outlet) $10.95 – pattern and a tiny hint of color (brown)

I used at 40% off code so after the returns I spent $57.67.

That is much more than I would expect to pay at the Goodwill, but I didn’t have to go to the goodwill totting a toddler.  So, the extra price is worth the convenience of Twice.

One thing that I didn’t like was the strong laundry scent on the White House Black Market top – I only use this detergent which does not have an overwhelming smell but I have washed it two times and set it outside to air out and I cannot get the smell off.  Maybe I have a sensitive nose or maybe I should have returned it.  

There is free shipping with a $50 purchase and free return shipping.  You are charged for the full amount of your purchase

I loved buying from Twice so much that I also cleaned out my closet and sent in some items and got a $35 credit.  It was very easy to do and now I have more space for new items (that fit my post baby body)! 

Have you tried Twice or a similar site?

**This post was in no way sponsored by Twice.  If you click on my referral link here you will get $10 for buying and an extra $10 when you sell!  Pretty great if you ask me!**

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Treadmill desk

Since I have been working from home I have dreamed of having a walking desk or treadmill desk. But, I'm cheap. Too cheap to buy one, until recently.
I started with a cheap stationary bike and jimmied up the handle bars to hold my iPad. This worked ok, but not very well. The toddler kept messing with my high tech jimmied work and since it is an upright bike I move around too much to type. So I could watch a webinar or something, but not really work. Maybe I just move around too much. 
In any event I bit the bullet this summer and purchased a light duty treadmill. I went back and forth on a few models before settling on this one http://www.amazon.com/Confidence-Power-Motorized-Electric-Treadmill/dp/B004TGWUPE/ref=lp_3407831_1_2?s=exercise-and-fitness&ie=UTF8&qid=1436332379&sr=1-2. It gets great reviews for working as a walking treadmill or for a walking desk. It is NOT for running. It is very narrow and a very jostling stop. It also turns off every 30 minutes. But it is affordable, compact and light weight. I would love it more it if folded easily. 
The second step in my master plan was to find a desk or shelf for it. I found a ton of ideas online. But they were either too expensive or too much work. I don't need a full blown desk, I just want a mini desk of sorts. Just for light computer work. This is what I ended up finding. http://www.walmart.com/ip/16503526
My plan was to get some pvc pipe to make legs. But as it worked out, I was able to simply zip tie it to my treadmill. 

Tada! Please ignore the junk on my floor. 
Now, I have not lost 50 lbs or anything but I really enjoy using this. I've been catching up on webinars while getting a few extra steps. Once the kiddo is back to preschool (and not asking to join me on the treadmill every 7.8 seconds) I hope to schedule a morning walk on it while reviewing my emails. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Have you Heard of This?

A family member shared an awesome post of facebook the other day…

Dolly Parton has a program called the Imagination Library.  The Imagination Library sends a free book to a child every month from birth to 5 years old.  Like them on Facebook here.  As a teacher, getting books in the hands of all kids is something I think is extremely important.  The brain develops very rapidly between birth and 5 years old.  Reading and exposing children especially children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families to books is very important to their success in school and ultimately in life.  Children coming into school from socioeconomically disadvantaged families are already behind – they have about half the vocabulary of a kid the same age from a professional family.  Half the words!  Reading is important even at a early age!

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Anyway, off my soap box … Dolly Parton is one of my favorite country artists but now I love her even more. 

This is not available everywhere (it’s not in my area unfortunately) but check to see if it is available in your area!  Then read to your child every single day!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Can't we all just get along?

Why is it that defamation seems to be acceptable when advertising food? It is the only industry that I can think of where it is acceptable to say 'buy my product because yours is bad' instead of 'buy my product because it is the best.' I don't know when this started but I sure wish it would stop.

When VW advertises the saftey of their vehicles, they just tell us how great theirs is. They never say 'buy a VW because a x brand will kill you.' It seems to me there would be a lawsuit and I would imagine consumers wouldn't stand for it. 

So why is it that consumers are ok with this in food? I saw a website today that was promoting raw milk as one of their products. Note that I don't personally drink raw milk but I'm all about people having options. But raw milk is a high risk product. People can die or become very ill. 

But my issue was in the fact that they called other farming practices harmful. Ironic since their concerns are with hormones, GMOs and RoundUp. None of which are connected to consumer deaths and are widely accepted as safe and highly tested and regulated. 

Why is is they have to add fear into order to sell? Your products should sell on their merits. If you have to scare someone into buying your product, you must not have a great product to begin with. 

I'm am all about people having options. If you want organic, buy it or grow it. If you don't believe the over 1000 scientific studies about GMO saftey, that is your right and you are welcome to buy the many products that don't contain them

We still sell our natural beef. And we spell out what that means. In our case no added hormones and no antibiotics. Our steers eat grass and corn because it is a system that works for us. When most people ask why our beef tastes so amazing, I can honestly tell them it is because of the dry aging process. But you will never, ever hear me try to sell you my beef (or any other product) by bashing they way someone else grows their product. 

If we could all do this, I think agriculture would be better off.


Meanwhile back at the ranch...

This spring has been incredibly busy! I say that every year but I guess we keep piling on more projects.

This year we are growing:
Beef cows
Sunflowers
Sudan
Corn 
Sweet Corn
Pumpkins
And our personal garden too.



In May we were busy as volunteers at our local fair. This is probably my favorite volunteer project! 

The drought is a very critical issue for us still. We are in a location with the best above ground storage water practically in the state but we still battle drought. With low soil moisture, the ground was sure thirsty when irrigation began. The lingering drought is the reason why we chose to grow Sudan this year. It is a lower value crop but very drought tolerant.



We will not be coming back to the farmers market selling beef. We are considering pumpkins. We decided that the costs of attending the market was too heavy on our family for the return. Instead we are enjoying more Saturdays as a family.



We do still have a very limited quantity of beef that we are selling to our existing customers. We are currently fully sold for this year.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

National Ag Day Bus Tour

In honor of National Ag Day, our Glenn County Farm Bureau hosted our 2nd Annual Bus Tour of Glenn County Agriculture. I'm so happy we got to share real farm stories with our local consumers. Here are a few pictures to share.

We started at Burreson's Blueberries. Dennis Burreson shared with us the history of the settlement of his place and all the work that went into growing blueberries in Glenn County. The moral of the story - they are hard to grow here.

Blueberries are delicious for bids too. In order to reduce crop loss from bird damage, Dennis bring is a falconer and 12 Falcons to protect his crop for 5 weeks. While it costs around $1000 a day for the falconer, it saves close to $5000 per day in lost blueberries. 
If you buy blueberries from Costco during the last week of May, chances are they came from this ranch right here in Orland.

The next stop was Walnut Avenue Ranch.
Need some sweet treats for Easter? Come here! They make almost everyt
hing in house! The prices were very reasonable too! You can even buy online - http://walnutavenueranch.com/
They make chocolates and lots of nut brittles a by hand. 
If this was a smell-o-vision blog, you would be so hungry for brittle right now. It smelled amazing! 

The last tour stop was the Schager Dairy owned by Mike and Pat Schager. As a neat side note, my Grandfather and Pat's father were friends growing up in Willows, CA. :)

Mike and Pat milk about 500 cows. It might be hard to believe but that is small dairy. Mike estimated that to really be economically viable they would need to have 2,500 cows.
The cows live in a freestall barn which means the cows choose where to eat and sleep inside the barn. The floor is cement but the cows actual enjoy bedded mattresses. 
The milk truck visits once per day to empty this milk tank. Both Mike and Pat work full time on the dairy, every day. Much of Pat's work is paperwork. She has to provide a tremendous amount of reporting on water quality and nutrient management in addition to normal business paperwork and tracking the health of their herd. 
The cows come in twice per day for milking. Their dairy is unique in that they have three breeds - Jerseys, Holsteins and Brown Swiss. 


We had a great day touring! If you want to join us next time, call the office and order your tickets early. You can also check out the tours offered by Tehama County Farm Bureau and Butte County Farm Bureau.









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