farmDREAM – Winter Hibernation Update

fallwinter14It was only a week after completion of my first season as a farm apprentice that I needed to get back in the dirt. Worn and tired, we were all looking forward to a short reprieve, but a girl can only organize so many closets.

Winter has been long and my hibernation is drawing to a close. Each hint of warmth from an abnormally high temp mid February awakens the soul and I am ready for planting.

Farm magazines are sprawled out and circling me as I sit in my office picking and choosing my spring line-up of seeds.  There are many varieties that I am excited about and some new ones I am looking forward to trying.  I order seeds and products from two locations; Johnny’s and Hummert International.

We added a “new” tractor to our fleet.  New for me, but gently used, and it will help me accomplish everything I need to on the farm.  I think Uncle Glenn would be proud, as our tractor shed is filled with mostly red (Massey Ferguson).  I also have a new tiller attachment and looking for a furrower as we speak.  I will need this to plant more asparagus crowns, rhubarb and potatoes this spring.

I am very excited about our greenhouse and hope to have it put up within a month.  We spent a long weekend at a local winery labeling with care and taking it apart.  Special thanks to my fellow apprentices from Riverbend Roots Farm and my parents for coming to the rescue and helping us.  Our next step is to prep and level the ground so we can start to assemble the gothic style greenhouse.

A large compost pile has been constructed near the greenhouse site.  Compost minimizes household food waste and green debris throughout the farm. Compost is being incorporated into the soil as the conventional farm ground is readied for growing produce.

There is still a lot of planning and work going into this next season.  I will continue to work as a farmer-in-training and earn my official status as a farmer.  I am also designing our farmstand, which will be located at the edge of our property.  We’ve been making way on restoration plans for the house and slowly but surely we will get there.  At the end of each day there is a smile on my face and my partner through life right by my side! #followingthefarmdream

 

STOP the Bullying and Show Some LOVE

demi lovato

“Words can hurt. They hurt me. Things were said to me that I still haven’t forgotten.” -Demi Lovato

Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never harm me. Unfortunately the old adage is incorrect and the scars of abuse from childhood bullies still remain. The effects lingered into all aspects of life and relationships with friends, coworkers, and love. It is something I have dealt with my entire life and it has taken me 30+ years to come to terms.

This isn’t your typical pumpkin pie post. October is National Bullying Prevention Month and I am taking this opportunity to open up and utilize my voice and blog as a platform to get a message across.

The topic of bullying has been around for a long time and I have shied away from addressing it, probably, because it opens up too much of my life and who I am. As a professional in the marketing world I usually keep my personal image and business image separate, as do many people in all industries, but why should I hide from something that wasn’t my fault?

When I was in grade school I was bullied. Yes, I had braces and the usual pre-teen angst but it went beyond that. The boys, (bullies) were relentless. Not only would they taunt me with words but at times it was physical. Even though these children were very different they all had the same issue. They needed LOVE. Their home life may have been broken, filled with divorce, lack of attention, and low self-esteem.

So, they chose to project their insecurities onto me and I carried the load for all of us.

I think because this type of abuse doesn’t leave bruises we don’t treat it the same as physical violence, but it does in fact leave bruises that the victims can’t get rid of. These bruises not only stay with us but they change who we are and who we may become. It is the responsibility of educators to identify these issues and work with parents on both sides to correct the issue. Telling the child that is bullied to get a thicker skin and not address the children doing the bullying is WRONG. And parents, it starts at home; show your children LOVE.

From childhood bullies to adulthood I faced an abusive relationship of seven years. People that are closest to me know my battle and for some this will be a surprise and a shock. My point in discussing all of this and exposing abuse is to let people know childhood bullying extends beyond the schoolyard and it can become severe.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter    

I started the dialogue, now I want you to continue and STOP THE BULLYING. I urge you to find a friend, coworker or child and talk to someone about bullying. Share your story or mine and share your thoughts, and a little LOVE.

If you need help with starting the conversation or to learn more about preventing bullying, resources for help, and how to fight back you can click here:

stomp out bullying                       bully project logo

A Taste of Summer Throughout the Winter: Canning Salsa with Recipe

salsa finished

Of Course I Can, and you can too! This is only my second summer of canning and with each recipe I learn how to be more efficient and comfortable with preserving our farm bounty. There are many helpful tutorials online and I use the Ball Blue Book – Guide to Preserving as my go-to kitchen reference for all things canning. The most important step to remember is following the sanitary and processing guidelines. Safety first!

It has been a busy summer and I have learned so much from my apprenticeship at Riverbend Roots Farm. The team I work with are more like family then coworkers and I hate the idea of leaving them.  My bosses Kris and Stacy are amazing farmers who share a passion for bringing naturally grown farm fresh produce to customers, as well as, sharing their knowledge with aspiring farmers-in-training. I am so lucky I have had this opportunity to learn from the best.

I’ve been applying what I learn to our farm and have had a successful harvest this season. I’m eager to move forward on a larger scale next year as I follow my farmDREAM. I love the fresh goodies provided during the farm season, but what about when the weather turns cold? Well, canning and preserving will give me a taste of summer harvest throughout the winter.

This year I decided it was long overdue to can salsa. This recipe is my first attempt and I’ve been receiving positive feedback thus far. I use what’s available at the farm and have noted the measurements that appeal to us, but if you prefer more or less of something make the adjustments and you will have great salsa every time! The best thing about any recipe is that you can make it your own.

Homemade Salsa Recipe

  • 10 Cups tomatoes; peeled, cored, chopped, which takes about 8 lbs of fresh tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/3 Cup seeded, chopped jalapeno peppers (about 5 small jalapenos)
  • 5 Cups chopped onions (1 large red and 4 small yellow)
  • 4 cloves garlic or 2 tsp minced garlic*
  • 1 Cup lime juice*
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro (about 1-2 Cups)*
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

*½ tsp minced garlic = 1 clove of fresh garlic

*Acidity is needed for canning. You can also use lemon juice or cider vinegar but I find lime juice has the best taste for salsa.

*based on your taste you can add 1-2 Cups of fresh cilantro. I use 2 cups when cooking my recipe because we love cilantro! In addition I chop ½ cup fresh cilantro and mix into salsa before serving.

tomato bath

1.  Place whole tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds and then immediately remove and place them into an ice water bath. Remove from the water and easily peel skins.

2.  Dice tomatoes and remove seeds.  After measuring 10 Cups of tomatoes I pour into a strainer to remove excess water.

3.  Remove seeds and veins from jalapeno peppers. If you like your salsa hot you can leave some of the seeds and veins intact. Chop peppers, onions, garlic and cilantro.

4.  Add all ingredients into a large stock pot. Add seasoning; lime juice, ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Bring all ingredients to a simmer and allow to cook for 18 minutes.
cooking salsa in stockpotSanitize glass jars, rims, and lids in hot water bath for use. Once your salsa has been cooked pour the hot batch into sanitized jars and twist lids tightly.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes. Once jars have cooled check center of lid and make sure the safety seal does not pop. If there are any jars that did not properly seal you can place in the fridge and use right away. You can also freeze the salsa.

I use what’s available at the farm and have noted the measurements that appeal to us, but if you prefer more or less of something make the adjustments and you will have great salsa every time!

Add a little art to your garden with this easy project – Plant Markers

“Stop to smell the roses”, or in my case take some time to enjoy the farmDREAM and find a healthy balance between work and play.  I make a point after a hard day of work at the farm to end the day with a little reflection on what has been accomplished.  There are always chores to be done, but as I have gotten older I am working on taking breaks to “stop and smell the roses”.

I had successfully weeded the entire garden and it was bursting with emerging plants, but it needed something more.  I decided to create some easy plant markers to add a little pop of color and try a beginners art project for the not-so-artsy.  I purchased some outdoor paint from Michaels and utilized some rocks that were in a pile on the farm.  You could also use bricks, garden pavers, or wood.  Make sure to allow the paint to dry on the painted surface for 12 – 24 hours.  This project was so fun and simple, and I think it will be a fun project for my nieces the next time they are at the farm!

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20140513-130820.jpg  photo 1  photo 3

 

Jalapeño Margarita Recipe

Jalapeno Margarita

Turn up the heat on your Cinco De Mayo and add a kick to your margarita recipe.  The jalapeño margarita is my new housewife cocktail of the summer.  The perfect blend of lime and sweetness married with a hint of heat on the palette.

Jalapeño Margarita

  • 3 – 6 slices jalapeño
  • 2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 oz orange liquor (I prefer Grand Marnier® or Cointreau®)
  • 2 oz agave nectar
  • 4 oz (I prefer Hornitos® – 100% agave tequila, Don Julio, or Tres Generaciones®)

Muddle the jalapeño slices, then pour lime juice, orange liquor, agave nectar, and tequila into cocktail shaker.  Top with crushed ice and shake vigorously.  Salt the rim of a margarita glass and serve cocktail with a garnish of fresh lime wedge or jalapeño slice.

*Agave nectar is a great sweetener for cocktails because it mixes with cold beverages, unlike honey.
*You can substitute fresh lime juice with Nellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice found at your local grocery store.

Little He or Little She? What Will Baby Be? – Gender Reveal Baby Shower

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Little he or Little she, what will baby be? Finding out what your little bundle of joy will be is one of the few true surprises in life, so why not share it with your friends and family! My friends Jesse and Scott found out about the gender of their baby, along with everyone, and it was wonderful to see their surprise as we shared in this joyous occasion!

To keep the surprise a secret mommy and daddy gave the doctor’s office my name and when I called in they told me the baby’s gender.Jesse baby shower invitation

For the invitations my friend Jesse found some from mrsthisandthatdesign on Etsy and I recreated

Envelopes sealed with a mustache and a kiss!

Envelopes sealed with a mustache and a kiss!

them.   I found free chalkboard fonts online from dafont.com that were similar in design. This site is a great resource for fonts.

  1. Handy George
  2. Sweetie Pie

I designed the shower cake and had one of my favorite bakers, Don at 10th Street Bakery, create the dessert. I also had cupcakes and croissants from the dessert diva, Val at Dear Diva Desserts. They are my bakers of choice and I like to share the wealth so I take turns with who gets to be the feature at my events.
cake 5 cake 3 cake 1

We decorated with balloons, the usual shower favors, flowers, and we placed little baby shirts at the entrance. Guest chose their beads upon arrival and waited until the reveal. I had prepared a sign in advance for pictures after the cake cutting ceremony.

candy cake table
photo 1 photo 3 beads

Party Planning Perfection! Special thanks to my Party Planning Diva Jolynn and my hubby Mark!

scott and jesse

Congratulations to Jesse and Scott! It’s a BOY!

 

Follow the farmDREAM

What is the farmDREAM? The farmDREAM is a metaphor and inspiration to follow your journey and follow your dream! Our farmDREAM began with a wish to preserve the farm and make it a place for generations to enjoy. Our farmDREAM is everything about the farm; growing great food, harvesting fruit from Uncle Glenn’s trees then turning them into a delicious recipe, relaxing on the front porch swing with a glass of good wine, and creating and sharing memorable events. I am so truly blessed to have a partner along the way and together we are making each other’s dreams come true.

I must say, along the way of our adventures, we have always had critics or naysayers. Doing something different is taking the path less traveled, “and that has made all the difference” – Robert Frost. The feeling of following your own path, or dream, is uplifting and freeing. It isn’t always ideal and sometimes there have been sacrifices, but it is worth it.

The next step is exchanging my stiletto pumps for a pair of farm boots and an office with a view – fresh dirt and blue sky overhead. I am happy to announce my apprenticeship at RiverBend Roots Farm starting this spring! It’s official; I am a farmer-in-training!

Stay tuned for more, and follow our farmDREAM to see how the story unfolds …

Chocolate Valentine’s Day Treats for My Sweets ♥

Whether your cooking for yourself, that significant other, or sharing with a friend, it’s always nice to make something special to say I LOVE YOU!  This is a very simple and delicious chocolate dessert that I’ve made a bit more classy and I hope you enjoy.  Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone who follows our blog and our farmDREAM!

Chocolate Brownieheart shaped treats fresh from the oven

  • 5 Eggs
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 3/4 Cup flour
  • 3/4 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
  • Bakers white chocolate for dipping

Simple Chocolate Gnash

  • 2 Cups Cool Whip
  • 1/2 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Whipped Cream

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla or amaretto

heart shaped panMix all brownie ingredients together and pour into a well greased multiple heart shaped pan or you can use an 8×8 baking dish.  Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool on a baking rack while you prepare your chocolate gnash and homemade whipped cream.

Before I prepare the whipped cream and gnash I warm Bakers white chocolate in the microwave and dip raspberries to top my dessert.  You can use any of your favorite fresh berries.

chocolate valentines treats 14Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave and fold into the Cool Whip.  Warm the cool whip in the microwave for an additional 20 seconds.  Mix together until well blended and smooth.  Drizzle over your cake brownie.

In your mixer beat the heavy whipping cream until it becomes fluffy and stiff.  Slowly add sugar and vanilla.  I have homemade amaretto so I like to add this to my whipped cream sometimes.

Top with the chocolate dipped berries and enjoy!

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW – Ok we’re good now, you can stop, no really!

Growing up I heard tales of the Snow storm of 82′ and every once in a while when we sifted through old photo’s we’d stumble across pictures of snow trapped cars and dad standing in front of a mountain of snow with shovel in hand. This was no “I walked to school, uphill, both ways tall tale”; It was actually a one-in-70 year event.

Where I grew up they received a record 20 inches of snow and in the St. Louis area they recorded 13 inches. With the recent “Snowmageddon” it brought back stories from anyone who experienced the storm of the century, which I happened to miss. So this time around it is with excitement that I run to the window and pull back the blinds to see if it’s a snow day!

10 INDOOR ACTIVITIES TO GET YOU THROUGH BEING SNOWED IN

  1. TRY A NEW RECIPE – I always enjoy taking a culinary tour, but this time I ventured to a recipe I would typically overlook because of its’ familiarity. The perfect snowed in recipe is a classic beef stew and this one did not disappoint. I always add my own twist and I encourage people to modify any recipe to their liking. Try Beef Stew with Parmesan Dumplings from Simply Delicious.  I added two extra carrots and celery stalks and added salt and pepper to taste.
  2. BECOME A MIXOLOGIST – pink housewife cocktailsYou’re going to need a cocktail to enjoy that amazing new recipe you just tried and let’s face it you’re not going anywhere in this snow. If you are looking to try a new recipe, or create a non-alcoholic beverage, you can easily find the perfect recipe by following my Housewife Cocktails board on Pinterest!
  3. PAMPER YOURSELF – Run a bath, light some candles, and leave your worries behind. If you don’t a have a bathtub, rejuvenate your skin with an at home facial. Try this one from Blue Skies, Sunshine, and Coffee
  4. CLICHÉ – Grab a blanket and some warm cocoa and curl up fireside to a book. There’s nothing like turning the pages of a good book and escaping the weather through a story.
  5. pine cone bird feederTHIS WEATHER IS FOR THE BIRDS – Actually our feathered friends could use a snack and with three simple items (pine cone, peanut butter, bird seed) you can create a treat. Simply spread some peanut butter on a pine cone and roll in bird seed. Hang this homemade ornament from a natural perch like a tree and watch the birds flock. Now you can bring bird watching to your own back yard and enjoy from the comfort of your home.
  6. TACKLE THE HONEY-DO LIST – Everyone has a DIY project whether it’s hanging some shelves, a fresh coat of paint, or some pre-spring cleaning. I’d rather be inside in this weather and enjoy the great outdoors when the mercury rises.
  7. GET ORGANIZED –  Organize that closet or clean out your kitchen pantry. When are you going to have this kind of time on your hands again? If you have kiddo’s at home let them help and make a game of it. Have some fun, crank some tunes, and you’re organized by the end of the day.
  8. WRITE A NOTE – valentine card imageIt’s almost Valentine’s Day and just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I don’t love making and sending cards. Send a hand written note or card to someone and you will make their day. Instead of opening bills they can open a friendly message in the mail.
  9. MOVIE NIGHT – Make it romantic or family friendly. You don’t have to be at the theatre to try some gourmet popcorn. Try this recipe for Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn from 4 Sons ‘R’ Us. Let the kids have fun in the kitchen first by creating their own batch or if it’s romance you are looking for curl up next to your honey.
  10. I JUST CALLED, TO SAY, I LOVE YOU – Remember that time before texting when people talked on the phone? Call your Grams to say hi or catch up with a relative that lives a far. Brighten someone’s day and keep in touch.

I am a beach girl at heart and prefer warm weather, but I have recently become fond of this new-found precipitation. I encourage others to take advantage of this rarity and breathe. Enjoy the moment and do all of those things around the house you want to do but never have the time to.

Chocolate Dr. Pepper Cake Recipe

photo 4Friends are coming over and I have to make something Dee-lish for dessert. With short notice and ingredients in hand I decided to make a semi-homemade version of the classic Dr. Pepper cake. This popular recipe has many different versions to suit your taste and comes from “♪ deep in the heart of Texas ♪”  just like its’ namesake Dr. Pepper. It is super moist and Dee-lish, and  I have included not one, but two frosting recipe’s to choose from!

Cake

  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 small box vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (12 oz) can Dr. Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine cake mix and remainder of ingredients; mix well until blended.

Meanwhile grease two 8 inch cake rounds. Pour batter into each pan evenly disbursed and bake cake for 45 – 50 minutes.  Cakes will bake up, but flatten out a bit as they cool. They are very dense, and will be super moist, due to the Dr. Pepper soda.  After cakes have completely cooled they will be ready to frost!

photo 3

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 (8  ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 Cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 Cup  unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla
  • 2 1/2 Cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk (you can reserve 1 Tablespoon of Dr. Pepper from cake batter and use in place of milk)

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

  • 3/4 Cup butter flavored Crisco
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 Cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 Cup Dr. Pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

chocolate cakeDr. Pepper cake