Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Case Against Fresh Produce

I loved this article and just HAD to share it with you all.

It seems that many of the 'practicalities' we learn living in the midwest, in farmland, do not always extend to the rest of the country. When you live far enough away from a major distribution center, especially 20 years ago, it was completely common to can and freeze your own, or to limit fresh products in the winter. Glad to see others are catching on.

I guess I’m a flip-flopper. Appropriate since people are already campaigning.

I’ve discussed my dislike of fruit cups because of added sugar and the syrup. But I might be coming around to fruit and veggie preservation. Taking on the CSA box of veggies every other week has made me more aware of the seasonality of fruits and veggies. I have been pretty oblivious to what’s in season when. Aside from getting pumpkins in the fall, I never really thought about what might be coming out of the ground at a particular time of year.

Like most of the veggies I’ve gotten from our CSA and especially the fruit I’m buying at the farmer’s market, it’s the best I’ve ever eaten. The strawberries my son and I picked the last day of the season? The best I have ever eaten. The dark and light cherries I bought at the farmer’s market? The best I have ever eaten. Just a couple weekends ago there are no more cherries at the farmer’s market. The trees are no longer bearing fruit.

I mentioned that to my husband and he said, “Well, we can buy more at the store.” Really? Because the other weekend when cherries were in season, my husband bought a bag at the grocery store. Since we were enjoying the one from the farmer’s market, we figured they would be similar. Sorry, but they got nothing on the farmer’s market cherries. Don’t know why, but it’s true.

And should we be buying fruit out of season? My son loves apples, but to get them organic and year round they have to be flown in from New Zealand. Is that the best use of my money? To be spent on airline fuel to get an apple halfway around the world just so my son can nibble on it?

What about school lunch? Is it unreasonable to demand year round fresh fruit? Probably. Is the expense of flying in oranges from Florida or California worth it? Not if they are just getting tossed in the trash because kids don’t have enough time to eat them or peel them independently.

We need to go retro. Go back to the old ways. Natural preserving and canning isn’t bad. That’s how our ancestors made it through the winter. It just has to be done using natural, pure ingredients in glass jars, plastic containers, or cans without linings that contain BPA. Let’s teach kids through their lunch experience about which foods are in season when. That’s good knowledge to have and most kids aren’t getting that at home, including me.

I went to the farmer’s market last weekend and the weekend before. Ok, I’m going every weekend we’re in town. I’ve gone more this summer than any previous summer combined. That stand that was selling cherries is now selling something else. Peaches. I reached out for a slimy sample and gave it to my son. He gobbled it down. The best we’ve ever eaten.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Georgia's Summer Crop

Tomatoes and Peaches. That's what grows well in Georgia. (Not sweet corn. Not even close!)

I think my first vegetable garden was a success!! Not a bumper crop of tomatoes - definitely not enough to can for salsa - but absolutely enough to eat on salads and BLT's and share at work.

And the PEACHES!!!!!!!!! It's not even peak peach season, and these are amazing. We bought a whole case at a farmer's market this weekend. I froze about 3 dozen and these are the rest left to share with neighbors and co-workers too.


Monday, August 29, 2011

A Kitty Story

Looky here! Our backyard is (temporarily) home to a mama kitty and her 5 kittens.

(Can you spot them all? Count the tails.)

Jeff saw these 2 cutie-pies playing at the bottom of our deck and snapped this photo.

We called the Fayette County Animal Rescue on Saturday - they don't operate anything except adoptions until Monday.

It was 90 degrees on Saturday and the mama left the kittens. We gave them some water. And our kitty food. Then we went out to get some cheap kitten food.

It would be kind of fun to see them grow up. But, our backyard and neighborhood cannot handle 6 wild kitties. There are too many dogs, traffic, etc and I would prefer they not torment our girls through the window. All that said, they are feral, but temporarily adopted until we can get them trapped and taken in.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Birthday Wonders

My Happy Birthday to 50% of my most favorite people!!!!

I would like to say publicly that these 2 yay-hoos were, and continue to be, the most influential people in my life.

Lots of offspring look back at their childhood fondly, and I definitely do - but I love and respect and learn and have fun with my folks as an adult child more than I ever thought possible.

I am so glad we continue to have a fantastic relationship, and I cherish EVERY SINGLE TIME we get together (which is never often enough it seems).

I am so glad you are celebrating another one...Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!

MOM AND DAD.....YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And have been for 56 and 57 years ;)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Group Social-ism

I wish I could write (think) like Seth Godin. I love his post from August 23rd:

Two earthquake-related thoughts about human nature1. The first thing that happens after we encounter an earthquake is to wonder if anyone else felt it. The need for group validation is widespread and happens for events that don't involve earthquakes as well.

If those in the tribe feel something, we're likely to as well. That's why people look around before they stand up to offer an ovation at the end of a concert. Why should it matter if any of these strangers felt the way you did about the event? Because it does. A lot. Social proof matters.

2. Organizations are busy evacuating buildings, even national monuments. Even though experience indicates that the most dangerous thing you can do is have tens of thousands of people run down the stairs, cram into the elevators and stand in the streets, we do it anyway. Why? Because people like to do something. Action, even ineffective action, is something societies seek out during times of uncertainty.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Thankful Wife

On the heels of yesterday's post, I heard a semi-new song on the radio today that I had to share with you.

My favorite line - God gave me you for the ups and downs...I love you honey bear, and I still feel this way almost 7 years later!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is It Good for You

Super interesting article posted today...

A study published by sociologist Corrine Reczek says that for all the good that comes of being married / committed / relationship-bound, there are some negatives. And they shoudl not be overlooked, because they relate to health, wealth, and well-being.

From my view, some of the trade-offs in health, wealth, and well-being are ok 'sometimes'.

For the feeling of comfort you get when you are sad...perhaps the trade off is jointly not working out that day to mourn.

For the feeling of stress when it's just too much...perhaps the trade off is blowing off grilled chicken and vegetables and going out for pizza to talk about it.

For the munchies you get on a Saturday night while cuddling and watching a movie...perhaps the trade off is your other-half sneaks a handful of popcorn.

I am not trying to discount the research or the idea. It probably is quite valid - and for all the scenarios listed above, the external tripping hazard in the form of a spouse's bad behavior can be detrimental to your own internal motivation. Yes, yes, yes, I really believe that.

But I still think being committed has a zillion benefits. People are not meant to go through life alone; humans are social, familial creatures. And for me personally, being married (to Jeff specifically!) is one of the best decisions I ever made.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Soft Skills

Who among you loves NPR? I know I do.

As school kicks off for the year, I found this interesting story from the folks at Planet Money.

The best career prepartaion? Go to preschool. Here's a list of skills that economist James Heckman had 2 groups go through 'worker training' to gain:
- being able to pay attention and focus
- being curious and open to new experiences
- being able to control your temper and not get frustrated

One group was able to exhibit these behaviors, the other was not.

The difference? Preschool. Those skills he was looking for are not able to be taught as an adult, in high school, not even in elementary school. They are ingrained in preschool.

The economist also points to the Ypsilanti, Michigan study from the 1960s that followed kids from 3 or 4 years old to adulthood. One group went to preschool, the other did not. They had all the same experiences (more or less) - same public schools, etc.

The result? "When researchers followed up with the kids as adults, they found huge differences. At age 27, the boys who had – almost two decades earlier – gone to preschool were now half as likely to be arrested and earned 50 percent more in salary that those who didn't.

And that wasn't all. At 27, girls who went to preschool were 50 percent more likely to have a savings account and 20 percent more likely to have a car. In general, the preschool kids got sick less often, were unemployed less often, and went to jail less often. Since then, many other studies have reported similar findings."

Check out the article for more info! And GOOD LUCK THIS YEAR!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shared Sacrifice

This article was all over the internet this week.

The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffet, thinks things are out of balance.

He paid $6.94M in taxes last year. This accounts for 17% of his income.

Some would say he paid more than his fair share - that amount of money is huge.

Others would say he paid less than his fair share - many middle-class Americans (this one included) pay in the 30% range.

It's one of the age-old questions: who pays for the social security net for when shit hits the fan? Because it will, for all of us, in some way, eventually.

There is a common statistical anlysis tool called a Pareto Chart. It says 20% of 'stuff' causes 80% of the effect. Therefore, your efforts should be spent on addressing the top 20% of 'stuff' because that will get you a long ways towards addressing 80% of the solution.

A history on Pareto - and completely applicable for this application:

Vilfredo Pareto's original observation was in connection with population and wealth. Pareto noticed that 80% of Italy's land was owned by 20% of the population. He then carried out surveys on a variety of other countries and found to his surprise that a similar distribution applied.

Because of the scale-invariant nature of the power law relationship, the relationship applies also to subsets of the income range. Even if we take the ten wealthiest individuals in the world, we see that the top three (Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim HelĂș, and Bill Gates) own as much as the next seven put together.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Country

When did rapping become awesomely country? Thanks to my homegrown Georgia boy for this awesome tune...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fat Wallet

Yet another reason to lighten up your purse...having an uberfull wallet can lead you to spend more money, more recklessly, while thinking you are getting a great deal.

Do you really need more than a debit card, a credit card, your drivers license, insurance card, and little bit o' cash? AAA will still come get you. The grocery store can look up your phone number. The Macy's card need not come out - you should pay cash (or debit card) anyway.

Jeff and I have both downsized recently and I now have: Drivers License, Debit Card, Personal Credit Card, Work Credit Card, Dental and Health insurance cards...and that's it!

Check out this article for more insight: click here for the full article

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bill Janklow is Reckless.

Bill Janklow is reckless. And dangerous. And has apparently not learned his lesson.

Thanks to the Argus Leader article published this week, this is even more clear.

After killing Minnesota motorcylist Randy Scott in 2003 after running a stop sign, the former governor resigned his seat in Congress and lost his license to practice law. He was put on probation and not allowed to drive again until 2007. Since the probation ended, he has had 4 speeding tickets and hit a car in the last 4 years.

His violations:

- March 23, 2008: Driving 55 mph in a 50 mph zone (actual speed was 68).

- Sept. 23, 2008: Damage to an unattended vehicle.

- Oct. 8, 2008: Driving 45 mph in a 35 mph zone (actual speed was 47).

- Feb. 27, 2010: Driving 80 mph in a 65 mph zone (actual speed was 84).

This does not include tickets in other states, which he has since received as well.

This is unacceptable, unethical, and above all - dangerous. If this were a regular Citizen, do you think the same considerations would have been made? Would YOU still have your license?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sweet Corn + Mosquitos = Home.

This weekend could not have been better! A mini family reunion, a wedding, sweet corn, a new Morton building, 80 degrees and sunny...who could ask for more?

Friday was a bit of a blur - flying to Aberdeen, then lunch with Mom and Amy. Relaxing and talking in the afternoon was followed by the rehearsal dinner at Bob & Sharon's backyard - catered by Qdoba!!! We could have stayed out all night, but the mosquitos chased us away. I think I got 20 bites in about 10 minutes as the sun set.

On Saturday before the wedding, several family members came out for lunch. Including Mason...Jeff's ever-consistent buddy during harvest.

Dad, Uncle Keith, and I put fresh picked (5 minutes old) sweet corn on the grill while Jeff prepared some bacon-wrapped shrimp. Cousin Cory was back on the farm after a hiatus (good to see him again!!!) and Uncle Leon is supervising the process.

Spencer came right before lunch as he and Ashlee wanted the bridal party to have some 'rustic farm photos'. Aunt Deb and Mom were so happy to have them there!

A (not really) Private Moment during was really fun to peek out while they were having their pictures taken.

The bridal party tooled around the whole weekend in Da Bus. Not quite a Prince William and Princess Catherine chariot but it worked for small-town South Dakota.

The happy couple (er, us) after the nuptials...what BEAUTIFUL weather in Warner!

2 words: Open. Bar.

Congratulations Ashlee and Spencer! Isn't she beautiful?!?!

Aw, Uncle Bob and Aunt Sharon share a kiss when the glasses are clinked.

Uncle Keith, Uncle Bob, and Dad share a family moment

MY SISTAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We danced it up like crazy...Dad even twirled us on the dance floor, one after the other. It was soooo special (and fun)!

Weekends like this make me miss Home so much. And Family. I love you all!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

August in South Dakota

My cousin Spencer is getting married this weekend!!!

I am getting really excited to visit South Dakota in August this weekend. I was back last summer in July when the days were long, the corn was growing like crazy, and it was hot. This weekend, I am hoping the sweet corn will be ready to eat and the weather will cooperate!

It will also be a family reunion of sorts - not only will Mom and Dad be there (of course), Amy, Jeff, and I will also be staying with the folks.

I believe a lot of my extended family will be attending as well. When we were kids we had just about every holiday at Grandma and Grandpa Kienow's and I have such fond memories of playing with my cousins and seeing my aunts and uncles. Now that everyone is grown up, we need an official excuse (like a wedding) to gather everyone back together in South Dakota. I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Newest Gadget

Behold! The answer to all your munchies...

Delicious, almost movie-theater style popcorn, ready in just a few minutes (almost as fast as the microwave).

We have discovered the key is to cook it in canola oil, and use the
Orville Redenbacher's Popping and Topping
mix with popcorn salt powder to make it as movie-ready as possible.

With this addition to our home theater system...there is almost no "need" to go to a movie theater, unless you really, really want to!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Faking It

You can't get very far by completely faking it. Someone with more knowledge, more connections, more something, will call you out.

But in the process of not knowing something, just a little faking it goes a long way. Because if you know a little, you know where to look to find a little order to get better at faking it.

You fake it a little further, and then you go find information to make the faking it even more believable. Because what you are learning becomes your new truth.

All of a sudden, without meaning to, you become a quasi-expert. And then you REALLY have something to talk about.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Superpower

I have a superpower. It's about as much of a secret as Clark Kent's identity.

It is the ability to pick out the most expensive thing in the room.

Case in point: yesterday we went clothes shopping for Jeff. He needed to spruce up his wedding-wear for my cousin Spencer's wedding this weekend.

I spied a dark grey (almost black) with small texturing variations that played off the light, and paired it with a beautifully muted, light grey dress shirt.

After going 'round the store a few times, we returned to find the grey dress shirt would have to be ordered, so it would not make sense to get the tie.

As we rung up our purchases, I impulse-grabbed the tie to add to the tally. After all, we WERE ordering the grey shirt.

(Notice how I have not mentioned I looked at the price tag yet?)

They rang up our total. Which was WAY more than I expected...Um...Sticker shock. We took our packages to the car and I immediately asked to check the receipt.


For a tie.

A Hand-made, silk-spun, gorgeous tie.

It got returned. (Thank you honey.)