Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Flat Aggie Goes to London!

I was able to take a trip across the pond to London, England to visit the International Food & Drink Event (IFE) from March 14-20, 2013 with my friend Jonathan from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

While in London, I got to see how small and medium sized companies market value-added food products with the assistance of the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA).  SUSTA is located in New Orleans, Louisiana, and they have been helping promote agricultural and  related products from the southern United States since 1973.  They are able to do this with help from the United States Department of Agriculture.

I got to help a company from Virginia make scallop cakes one day.  They were so delicious!  The company has been family-owned for over seventy-five years!  I also got try a pumpkin spice cake that was made with a gluten-free baking mix.  This kind of product is very helpful, because there are many people that have an allergy to gluten, which is found in a lot of products that we eat every day, like bread.  The woman who makes these kinds of baking mixes does so to make sure that people with this allergy can still eat things like cakes and brownies, and she wants to make sure that they taste good.  I loved her brownies!  I would show you a picture…but I ate them all.

Here I am hanging out with my new friends, Julie and Dorian They work for the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the U.S. Embassy in London.  They work very hard to help agricultural producers who are looking to sell their products in the United Kingdom for the first time.  They also help people if they are having trouble understanding and following all of the rules that are associated with selling their products in the United Kingdom.  I came back to the United States with my friend Cindy who works for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.  I will tell you about my visit with her later.

I did get to hang out with Jonathan, Cindy and a bunch of their colleagues in New Orleans for a few days at a meeting that SUSTA hosted at the end of March.  There, I learned about all the different rules that Jonathan, Cindy and their friends have to when they are doing projects like IFE.  In this picture I am with Jonathan, Cindy, and their colleagues from Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and Virginia.  Now I am on my way to Washington, D.C. with my friend Nancy, who works for the United States Department of Agriculture!

What an amazing adventure!  I am so excited that Flat Aggie went all the way to London!  My kids were VERY excited too!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spice Cabinet Organization

Our spice cabinet was a mess - full and cluttered. 
One day I decided to clean in up and organize it.  I took everything out:
And realized I need something to hold all the spices I buy in bulk.  I thought it would clear up some space the containers could go on under the 2nd shelf instead of on the first shelf. 
So, I had my friend's amazing hubby cute me some scrap metal to the right size. 

Put it in.
 And put the shelf on top. 
 I picked these magnetic spice tins up at Cost Plus World Market.  
They are 5 for $9.95 online or $1.99 a piece in the store (which is the exact same price). 

 The lid is clear which is perfect to the see pretty spices!

I bought a bigger version from Ikea a while back for office supplies and I love them.  So, if you want a larger size (wider but shallower) - go with the Ikea version.  

 I filled the tins with spices and labeled them.  Temporary not so pretty label, but it works!  Now I don't have a bunch of bags and clutter in this cabinet and I can find what I need. 

 So neat and organized now!

Another idea would be to glue magnets on the bottom of spice jars.  Or the top, you choose.  Same idea, but would be perfect if you have containers for your spices already. 

You could also use the tins on the side of your microwave or fridge - would make a nice display if you have a variety of spices.

That is how I organized my spice cabinet in just an afternoon.  Looks so much better!  What do you think?

How do you tackle the clutter in your kitchen cabinets?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flat Aggie Visits the Hays Family Farm in Arkansas

Hi! We are the Hays Family. Garrett is 12, Emmi is 10, and Ty is 8. We are so glad we get to 
help Flat Aggie learn about agriculture! Our farm is in Springtown, Arkansas. We have a population of 114 people in Springtown. We go to school in Gentry, a town really close to us with a 
little over 3000 people. We raise cattle as well as crops on our farm. We have taken Flat Aggie 
around to see some of our farm. Hope you enjoy our pictures!

Flat Aggie helped us feed hay to the cattle . We feed hay using a truck with a special bed on the back 
called a hay bed. It has arms that pick up the hay and hold it on the truck until we get where we need to 
feed it. The arms then pick the hay up and lower it to the ground.

 We roll the hay out so that more cows have room to eat at one time.

 Ty is showing Flat Aggie some of the new baby calves. 

 Flat Aggie is helping Emmi feed her horse, Lady.  Lady is a barrel horse. Emmi and Lady compete in barrel Races. Emmi feeds Lady grain 2 times every day. She also feeds Lady hay. Lady gets new shoes every 6 weeks. The person who puts Lady’s new shoes on her is called a Farrier.

 Garrett, Emmi and Ty are showing Flat Aggie one of our tractors. We use this tractor to 
work ground. That means, we get the ground ready to plant our crops. The crops that we 
plant on our farm are, Green beans, soy beans, corn and wheat.

Flat Aggie is standing with Garrett, Emmi and Ty in front of one of our grain bins. After some of our crops are picked they will get stored in one of these until we sell them. Sometimes, the grain is taken in a big truck to the port where it will be put on a barge and hauled down the river. Some of the crops we raise will be used to make feed for animals to eat. Our green beans are sold to a company who puts it in cans. It then goes to the grocery store for you to buy and eat. 

What a fantastic adventure!!  Thanks Hays Family!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bye Bye Spring Break and Hello Flat Aggie Twin!

Last week was Spring Break and I feel like I've done pretty much nothing ... I guess it is called a break, but I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish and only got a few done!  Oh well, they might get done eventually!  I didn't have internet ALL WEEK - I know, I don't know how I survived but I am here alive and well!!  Sorry for my lack of posting!  I have a few Flat Aggie posts to catch up on and have been doing some projects for our reception next month and around the house I want to share.  I also spent the week changing my name - spent a morning at the Social Security Administration and another at DMV then spend a day on the phone changing everything else over.  I'm sure I forget something, but I at least have a good start!  

Since I am scheduling this post I am back with my kiddos right now.  Mixed feelings as always.  I missed then but I sure do like to lounge around and get projects done around the house.  Didn't so much like hanging out at the DMV, but I needed to get that done and I finished half a book so that was good.

  I am SO EXCITED to share Flat Aggie's twin with you!!!  Or maybe she is his cousin?  Either way, there is another Flat Aggie flouting around out there!!  Tales from a Kansas Farm Mom teamed up with her son's first grade teacher to make this Flat Aggie. If you have enjoyed our Flat Aggie adventures, be sure to check out her adventures here!  My class will be so excited to see another Flat Aggie!

Did you have a Spring Break?  If so, what did you do?  If not, what would you have done?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Flat Aggie learns that Nutrition Starts on the Farm

Flat Aggie's latest adventure:
Hi to Miss Allard’s first grade class.  We are so happy that you sent Flat Aggie to us.  I really think he enjoyed his visit to our farm.
Flat Aggie visited the University of California FARM SMART Program.  Almost every day we have students from Imperial Valley Schools visit this farm.  It is a 255 acre research farm and we have special fields with vegetables just for students who visit our program.  We see about 5000 students every year!  Our farm is located only 10 miles from the Mexico border and it is a desert environment so we get very HOT in the summertime (sometimes over 120 degrees!).  In the winter, the temperatures are very mild so our farmers can grow food and ship it around the world.
Flat Aggie attended our program with another local school and would love to share his experiences with you.

In the center picture, Flat Aggie has a necklace that has beads on it.  Each bead represents a natural or renewable natural resource that help plants grow.  So the yellow bead represents the sun, the blue bead is water, the brown bead is soil, the clear bead is air.  The white bead is seed and the green bead is plants.  Every student gets to make a bracelet so they can remember what makes plants grow.

 Because water is so important, the picture on the left shows Flat Aggie with our “Dudley Dewdrop”.  He is a water droplet and wants everyone to be water savers.  Students attending our program learn that everyone can be water savers just by taking short showers and turning off the water when they brush their teeth.  They can save 10-15 gallons of water a day!!!

 The picture on the right shows Flat Aggie with a student who is holding a bowl full of delicious salad.  If you ever have a chance, read the book entitled “Stone Soup”.   Instead of Stone Soup, we changed it to Stone Salad and we put cabbage, garbanzo beans, olives, ham, cheese and Chow Mein Noodles in the salad.  Top it with some Ranch Dressing, shake it up and you have a perfect salad.  Everything in the salad is soooooo good for you and you can find every ingredient (except the Ranch Dressing) on the Food Pyramid. I think Flat Aggie enjoyed the salad.!  If you want to try a shaker salad, get a cup with a lid.  Start by putting the dressing on the bottom of the cup, then put a layer of cabbage or lettuce, then add some cheese, olives, garbanzo beans, ham and chow mein noodles.  Put the lid on it and when you are hungry, shake it up and enjoy a nice and fresh salad.

Flat Aggie is ready for our hayride!  The students have learned how plants grow and now it is time to go to the field and pick produce.
First stop is at a field of curly leaf lettuce.  Sure will taste good in a salad.

Look at those scrumptious brussel sprouts.  Steamed with a little butter, salt and pepper and they will have a delicious flavor.
Flat Aggie enjoyed picking beets.  The beet tops (leaves and stems) can be cooked like Spinach and the Beets (big red roots) can be steamed, sliced and topped with butter, salt and pepper or they can even be pickled.
Everyone filled their bags with beets, radishes, lettuce and brussel sprouts.  What a feast for dinner!
At the end of the field trip, Flat Aggie visited our greenhouse.  We have flowers, tomatoes and herbs growing in the greenhouse.
I was so happy that Flat Aggie was able to spend a day with us.  After his visit with us, he was taken to Imperial County Farm Bureau and they will choose where he will go next.
Remember…”Nutrition Starts on the Farm”.  If you are ever in El Centro, California, come visit the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center.
Nancy Caywood Robertson, Educational Outreach Coordinator, FARM SMART Program
Stephanie Collins, Program Representative, FARM SMART Program
University of California-Desert Research and Extension Center
1004 E. Holton Road
El Centro, California  92243
(760) 356-3067
Note from Sarah:  This is the cutest little girl!!  What a great adventure!