Thursday, April 28, 2011

Simple Country Baby Shower

Since my sister told me that she was pregnant I began planning her shower . . . what can I say - I am a planner!  I wanted it to be simple and very much her.  I began a folder saving all of the ideas I saw for her but there were not many ideas for a gender neutral no-fuss country shower.  Lucky for me two of her amazing friends helped pretty much did all of the work using my 'simple country' theme.  They were amazing and the shower would not have been the same without them!  Thanks Regina and Sarah - you two are wonderful!!

Here is how it turned out:

It took place in the back yard of one of the girls.  Her backyard is BEAUTIFUL - it was the perfect setting. 

The Tables were set with brown table clothes, brown gigham squares in the middle and a mason jar tied with ribbon and filled with assorted flowers.  A pot was painted brown and filled with pens and fabric pens (puff paint) and placed near various sized onsies rolled and tied with jute. 

The food set-up. Notice the adorable banner around the umbrella.

The garbage can is cleverly hidden behind these country acessories.

Rolls and chicken salad, potato salad, cesar salad, and deviled eggs.

The drinks (water and iced tea) on ice in a galvanized bucket.

Boots with flowers flanked the bucket.  I LOVE the look of this!

The rest of the food; tortelini salad, veggie tray, frog eye salad, fruit kabobs (how amazing do they look in that pineapple!), and asian noodle salad (have no idea what it is really called). 

The dessert table.  Pies!!  Apple pie, cherry pie, lemon merange pie, and peach/black berry pie!  Cheese cake topped with cherries and mini cupcakes thrown in for the non-pie eaters. 

A few pitchers with flowers from the Farmers Market decorated the house. 

My sister - isn't she radiant?  She looks so happy!!

Once the guests arrived they began the first game . . .

decorating onsies!

Then they hung it on the clothes line to dry.

And enjoyed lunch.

By enjoyed lunch I mean had the best lunch of their life!  The food was AMAZING!!  It was all made by my sister's friend, Sarah - she is a fantastic cook!

Once we were done eating, preggers got to pick her favorite onsie . . . she chose the one on the end (it has her brand on it).  There were some pretty amazing onsies:

Only Regina (the host) could whip up this masterpiece.

My favorite onsie - California Grown!  So cute with the pear!

Bee happy - super cute!

Then it was time to open the gifts.  While she was opening gifts we set a timer and when it went off the giver of the gift she was opening was the winner! 

A friend of hers made this adorable diaper cake!

After the gifts we mingled and sent them home with the best favor EVER:

pies in a mason jar!  LOVE these!  This is the one thing I can take credit for (not full credit, I saw it here first) and I am so happy with them!

I may be a little biased but I am pretty sure it was the best baby shower ever!  It was very simple and low - key.  There were no stupid baby shower games (sorry if you like the lick the poopy diaper kind of games), they were all awesome and everyone enjoyed them (at least nobody complained)!  The food was amazing!  The desserts were a hit and so were the favors.

What do you think? 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pigs in the Classroom

The Friday before Spring Break we had three very special visitors:

Two piglets from a local farm (and their owner of course)!

The kids even got to pet them!

The students had many many questions about pigs for the farmer, including what they eat.  Not only did they get to hear what pigs eat but they got to see it too.

My favorite picture from the visit. 
I teach in an area where most of my students have never seen a farm animal.  It is not an urban area but it is not a rural area either.  Kindergarten just finished their unit on farms so this visit could not have come at a better time - 1st grade just got to join in on the fun!

This local farmer was kind enough to bring two piglets to our school AND he also sat around for a while while he was bombarded with questions.  Farmers are amazing!!

How would you like to see ag in your local classroom?  I am always looking for suggestions and I would love your input!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day 2011 – thank a farmer!

Happy Earth Day all!!  Earth Day is the perfect day to thank people who help our Earth become a better place.  People who devote their lives to conserving our natural resources, weather a storm without batting an eyelash, and know their land like the back of their hand - all while providing the safest, healthiest, and most inexpensive food in the world . . . the American Farmer. 

So, this Earth Day I would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of the Farmers and ranchers out there . . . on behalf of everyone enjoying the food you provide us (people across the world) THANK YOU!!

On a slightly different note (ok, maybe hugely different but I will connect it – just wait):
I would like to comment on the video released by Mercy For Animals.  Wednesday morning I woke up at 6 walked over to the computer to upload some pictures to the blog post I had scheduled.  I opened a few blog posts from blogs that I follow so I could read them while the pictures were uploading.  I got the pictures uploading and clicked over to Crystal Cattle’s blog – to a post titled : Animal Abuse in Agriculture.  Still sleepy I read the post without watching the video.  I clicked over to the video expecting the see some bad animal abuse that would make me uncomfortable and annoyed.  The video began and instantly I started crying.  I had never ever seen something so horrible in my life.  I had to turn my head but the pictures were already etched into my mind.  The sound of the pick axe hitting the calf was unbearable - I turned it off at 10 seconds.  I am no sissy but that video was too much for me.  I was heading up to Oregon to see my grandpa (who turns 89 next week) so I couldn't write about my reaction before I left.  I was too angry anyway.  I felt hurt, angry, sad, every emotion but happy . . . mostly I was angry at the man in the video and behind the camera.  How could someone stand back and watch, someone who claims they are an animal rights activist, an innocent calf being beaten with a pick axe or a hammer to death.  I was angry that people would see this video and think all animals are treated like that.

My mom called at 7:30 to make sure I was up and heading over to pick her up for our drive up to Oregon and I couldn't talk.  My poor mom was probably panicked until I managed to get out - the video, it's horrible between my sobs.  

I thought about the worst farmer I know.  I know he couldn't do what happened to those calves.  He had two still births this year.  He had to put one of "his girls" down because she had major complications during calving.  He was sad - he couldn't inflict horrible pain on his girls.  He couldn't inflict that kind of pain on his worst enemies calves.  I thought about every person I know - and not a single person I know could do that. 

I do not recommend you watch the video but I do recommend you read Ray-Lin Dairy's Post here. I am incredibly impressed with the rancher whose dairy farmer the Mercy For Animals activist was working while the video was filmed.  The rancher is a perfect example of why we need to be thanking farmers and ranchers today.  In this audio clip Kirt Espenson of the E6 Ranch is interviewed by Trent Loos.  Mr. Loos asks some pretty loaded questions but the rancher, Mr. Espenson takes full responsibility for the actions of his employees.  He explains that the employee was supposed to kill the calves with a rifle that was provided by the ranch.  Due to the hard winter at the ranch the calves had suffered extreme frostbite and were loosing their limbs so the only humane thing to do was to put them out of their misery.  Espenson said that the actions taken by his employees were unacceptable and not protocol for their ranch but he still insisted that it was his responsibility to ensure the employee was following directions.  I was very impressed that Espenson took full responsibility even though he also said that the undercover activist filming was also seen on the video euthanizing calves with a hammer.  What happened on his ranch was unacceptable and horrific but he did not try to put the blame on anyone else but himself. 

On that note I would like to assure you all that the farmers and ranchers involved in animal agriculture take amazing care of their animals.  And I thank them for stepping up to the plate to defend animal agriculture and also to demand that something be done to the individuals responsible for those horrible actions. 

Happy Earth Day - go thank a farmer today!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Have you ever made a batch of cookies for a special someone only to eat all or most of them before that special some arrived?  I have!  Here is a solution for that problem and a recipe you need to try:

Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies
Recipe from Once-A-Month Cooking

2 cups flour
3/4 cup coco
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 8 oz package Reese's peanut butter chips (I bought it in bulk - not the 8 oz package)

Stir together the dry ingredients and set aside.  Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.  Slowly add flour mixture and beat well.  Stir in peanut butter chips (try not to eat them all).
 Use a cookie scoop (like an ice cream scoop only smaller) 
and drop by scoop onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. 

This is the hard part - the little bits on dough outside the scoop are very tempting to eat.  It is hard not to eat the entire bowl of dough - resist the urge, you will thank me later! 

Freeze (I wait about an hour). 
While you are waiting write the name, date, and baking instructions on a large freezer bag. 

 Package 12 balls and seal in a sandwich bag. 
Place sandwich bags inside a large gallon size bag with baking instruction written in sharpie and place in freezer. 

When you are ready to bake them:
Preheat oven to 350 (please pretend there is a degrees sign here) F and place 12 balls of dough on cookie sheet.  Bake 11 - 13 minutes. 
Cookies will look a little puffy but will flatten out after cooling (if they make it that long). 
Cool on a wire rack - I always put a paper towel over the top to make clean up easier. 
ENJOY!  These are really really good cookies! 

It is great when you have friends over or unexpected guests.  My favorite part of this idea is that fact that I can only eat 1 dozen cookies instead of 3 dozen!  It is also nice to make 5 or 10 dozen cookies at a time since it doesn't require much extra work and they last a long time in the freezer!

Monday, April 18, 2011

What is Ag?

Ag is a shortened version of the word agriculture . . . a nickname.  Agriculture is a long word so many people often shorten it to ag. 

Agriculture not only brings food to our table but it also brings us our table (wood) and our house (more wood)!  We have agriculture to thank for our clothing (cotton, wool, bamboo), the landscaping at the local park (horticulture), and even our dog's food (meat and grain). has many definitions for agriculture.  I like to break words down into chunks and figure out their meaning from there, so we will start by breaking it down.  Agri is from the latin word ager and means “a field” and culture is “cultivation of.”  So, agriculture literally means “the cultivation of a field.”  That is quite a broad definition yet at the same time it leaves off entire sections of the agriculture industry. 

My favorite way to define agriculture is a way I found while working on my master’s degree.  The amazing people at Utah Ag in the Classroom need to give their brains a big kiss (sorry, I am still in 1st grade teacher mode)!  Their handout explains agriculture as the five fs: Farming, Food, Fabric, Forestry, and Flowers.  Now that is the way to explain agriculture to kids (and adults)!!

Let’s define the five fs a little more:

Cattle Ranch
 Farming – I think of farming as a practice.  How people grow or raise the food we eat.  Farming also covers growing plants to sell at the nursery and growing cut flowers.  Most people use the words farm and ranch interchangeably.  Farming also provides a habitat for many animals. 

Dinner - pork chops, acorn squash, salad, and bread. 
Food – This is the part of agriculture that all people can easily relate to – we all eat food.  But, how it gets to our table is the part of food most people don’t understand.  

My closet.
Fabric – Everyone wears clothes (well, not nudists)!  But, it is a little hard to connect a plant with a T-shirt if you didn’t grow up in the cotton belt. Fabric includes cotton, bamboo, hemp, leather, and more.

Paper is a forestry product.  This is a chart from a Kindergarten class at my school. 
Forestry – Wood is used to make a huge variety of items we use every day!  You would be amazed – I know I am!  The forestry industry includes trees that are grow and harvested for use in a variety of ways.  The forestry industry also provides and protects habitats for animals. 
Flowers fresh from the Farmer's Market for my sister's baby shower.  I can't take credit for buying these beauties but I had to take a picture. 
Flowers – Flowers you give your mother for Mother’s Day or your teacher just because (hint hint) are also part of the agriculture industry.  I consider live plants, sod, and the like to be part of this part of agriculture also.

The motto of the California Women for Agriculture is If you eat food and wear clothes, you are involved in agriculture. Everyone is involved with agriculture yet most do not understand the industry.  Our children have little to no agriculture education (unless of course they choose to join 4-H or FFA) yet it is the backbone of our country. That is where this blog will come in to play – I will strive to provide accurate information to the general (blog reading) public about the agriculture industry. 

How are you involved in agriculture? 

Thanks for reading and please leave your comments below!
~ Sarah