Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Great CSA Experiment

Have you ever heard of a CSA or a Community Supported Agriculture? I had a vague idea of a CSA but must admit, visions of hippy, dippy people in Birkenstocks danced in my head. A CSA was something that other people did.

Until now!  I recently learned that come July 2nd, Confreda Greenhouses and Farms will be holding its own CSA for the first time.  Please click here to read all the details.  I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful program!

As you all know by now, I love to cook and I equally love to eat. However, lately I have found myself in a rut, buying the same foods from week to week. In fact, I can give you a laundry list of the usual produce I buy: baby carrots, celery, romaine lettuce, arugula, onions, potatoes, spinach, green beans, nothing too "out of the box".  I often pass by certain veggies because, like you, I just don't know if my people will eat them or I'm not always sure how to prepare them. 

But now, I am going to perform the Ultimate Challenge (wow, I have been watching a lot of the Food Network!) and take myself, my family, and my faithful readers to a new level.

Like you, I will be picking up my bushel of mystery produce weekly. We won't know what is inside, but for a preview and a clue click here.

My euphoria will carry me home and after I unload it all, I will scratch my head and say "Now what? Do I cook it all at once? Should I give some away? Can I freeze it? Food save it? Can it? Juice it? Help! I have no idea what this green stuff is! (Maybe I should buy some Birkenstocks, STAT!)

Have no fear. We are all in this together. I will be here to guide you over the next 2 months.  Here is what will happen:
  • Each week, I will provide you with tips for storing and preparing your new bounty.
  • I pledge to provide at least one practical recipe using at least one of the ingredients in your bushel.
  • I promise not to disappoint you. And I will welcome your feedback and suggestions each week. Sometimes it takes a village to write one blog so I will be happy to rely on you, my Village People.
In return for joining Confreda's CSA and following this blog series, here are the benefits you will reap.
  • Enjoying freshly picked, native produce all season. Farm to Table!
  • Pure joy in knowing you are supporting our local farmers and the local economy
  • A healthier lifestyle by eating fresh produce and finally fulfilling the Five A Day quota. Phew!
  • Becoming part of the agricultural community.
  • FREE access to farm tours and other events this summer
  • New recipes to WOW your friends and family
So what do you say? Let's all step out of our collective comfort zones and jump ship on the "Big Box" stores.  Join Confreda's Community Supported Agriculture and take a journey with me this summer. It may very well be the best Staycation you've ever taken!

PS. Mom, sorry, the pies are not included in the weekly bushel. BUT you can certainly purchase one (or two) while you are there.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How to Raise a Picky Eater

  1. Make 3 different dinners for 3 different kids. Maintain this look on your weary face.
  3. Let him hold you like an Iranian hostage at the dinner table.
  4. Offer the same 2 meal choices every day for lunch and supper: Mac and cheese or chicken nuggets.
  5. Don't ever take him to a supermarket.
  6. Don't ever let him watch the Food Network.
  7. Don't ever let him cook with you or make a total mess in the kitchen.
  8. Tell him beige or white food = good. Any other color of the rainbow= bad, very bad!
  9. Food with plastic cover + microwave directions = good!
  10. Food that began as a seed = bad, very bad!
  11. Make sure you eat from a drive thru daily.
  12. NEVER under any circumstance are you to visit a farm, talk about a farm, or plant anything that grows on a farm.
  13. Assume that he hates crust on ANYTHING (or hates any specific food) without consulting with him first.
  14. Don't ever take him to an ethnic restaurant and lastly,
  15. When he screams in horror over the chopped parsley in his food, run over immediately with a miner's hat and tweezers and pluck out each piece. Then, pull him tightly into your bosom and say "It's going to be OK, there, there. The bad green things are gone! Mommy's here to protect you!"
If you are interested in raising the anti-picky eater, then simply do the opposite. Add a dash  of Tough Love, a heavy handful of Patience, and a pinch of Faith. Simmer daily for the next 17 years and you have yourself a winner!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Growing Memories at Confreda Farms

In the year 2012, it seems we are sometimes lacking in the "Warm and Fuzzy Moments" department. Customer service isn't what it used to be and we're all so connected to technology, that we've become disconnected from the earth and ourselves. Bring back the Warm and Fuzzies of the world. I demand it!

Well, my recent trip to Confreda Farms helped to renew that spirit. I was lucky enough to be part of the V.I.P. ceremony marking Confreda's 90th year in business. WOW! Along with some local dignitaries and the 3 living generations of the Confreda family, I was honored to witness this beautiful milestone. We have been faithful patrons of Confreda's for years, so watching 3 of the 4 generations speak about what it took to get there reminded me of why it's so important to shop local and support our farmers. And because I grew up in a family dry cleaning business that survived 3 generations, I really appreciate all of the work this family has done to keep it thriving for so long.

Their reach is far and wide and not many people realize the impact of Confreda Farms. Did you know that Confreda's is one of the oldest and largest commercial vegetable farms in the state of Rhode Island? They truly are a staple in our house. It is our "go-to" place when our calendar is clear and we want the family to unplug and unwind for a bit. If you haven't been, you should take a ride some day. Take some time to roam around, sample some gelato, a cup of coffee or a fancy sandwich, shop the Garden Center for plants, shrubs, herbs, gardening supplies, flowers and trees. Shop for local wholesale produce and keep in mind, Confreda supplies local restaurants, schools and markets all over the state. One more reason to love them!

Depending on the season, there is always a free activity for you and the family and this is one of the things that makes me all Warm and Fuzzy inside! My son Luca was given a class assignment to write a story about what traditions his family holds near and dear and I am happy to report he chose Confreda's as his favorite family tradition. Whether it is a Family Farm Tour, a visit with Santa or the Easter bunny, pumpkin picking or just going to pick up a scrumptious pie, every time you go a new memory is made. When you visit Confreda's, be sure to check out their wall for Luca's family tradition story.

As a mom, it makes my heart smile to know that my kids appreciate the gifts Confreda's shares so freely with us. They are sharing 450 acres of land, trees, history, heritage, education and all that Mother Earth has to offer, on so many levels.

In the closing words of Luca's story, "I hope this tradition goes on forever and ever!". Well said, my dear. I couldn't agree more!

For more information, please click here and be sure to like them on Facebook.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How to Have a Happy Mother's Day

Have you seen this photo on the cover of Time magazine?
I confess, I have not read the article inside but I've been told it's about "Attachment Parenting", you know the kind where you wear your baby in a sling until he's 17, you breastfeed until he's 13, and you sleep with him until he's doing Jello shots.

This cover has so many people up in arms. They are mad because she's pretty and hot. They are mad because she's nursing a pre-schooler in a sexualized pose. They are even madder because the kid is unsafely standing on a chair.

Aside from this clearly controversial picture, I think what is making me mad is simply the title.  Are You Mom Enough?  Do we really need you, TIME magazine to ask us this question when every day we Moms are asking ourselves this very question?  When is enough enough and when the hell will this guilt stop?

Which is why I am now resorting to Detachment Parenting. Dr. Sears  is all about keeping your babies close in many different ways. (As I just wrote that, my 8 year old starting velcroing himself to me once again and will not let me finish my darn sentence!)

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. My one request is to be as detached as I can possibly be from my kids, at least for one day. I will enjoy sleeping late, followed by a homemade breakfast with handmade cards, pipe cleaner flowers made out of tissue paper, mucho hugs and kisses, Chinese takeout later in the day, and perhaps a nap.  I don't want to be a referee, cook, chauffeur, maid, or detangler of any type of string, just for one day.

Before you judge and say I am a rotten mother and person and I should want to spend the entire day with my kids (wait, don't I already do that every single day?), sometimes it's too much and like all mothers, I need a break. I am extremely grateful to have what I have and trust me, I thank God every single day and night for them. (Isn't it awful that I feel the need to say that for fear of being judged by the Momosphere that I want a break once in a while?)

I wanted to laugh when I saw in our local newspaper that the Children's Museum is offering FREE admission to Moms on Mother's Day. Just what every Mom wants; to be in an enclosed building with OTHER people's kids, screaming and running around.  I was looking for the part about how there would be a private room for Moms and their foot massages but nothing doing.

To summarize: Detachment Parenting = Peace + Quiet on Mother's Day.
Enjoy : )

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Metamucil for the home

"I love a good cleanin' out."   
                                                                                                                                                -My mother

Ginny is always right.  "Cleanin' out", in more ways than one, is very, very therapeutic.  If you are not cleaning out in the decluttering sense or the physical sense, you are sure to get backlogged in ways you can't even imagine.

I will spare the latter version of "cleaning out" for another day, perhaps when Dr. Oz runs another "Let's Examine Your Poop" show. For now, let's talk trash.

Lately, I cannot get through one day without cleaning out, throwing out, or donating away. I am a woman on a mission! And guys and girls, it feels sooo good.  My New Year's resolution was to get rid of at least 5 things every day. I have slacked but I'm back!

You see, there are some days when I walk around this house and start to feel weighed down by it all.  Just to set the record straight, we do not live like the Hoarders on TLC but our home is "lived in". As my pal Julie says, "A messy house is a happy house". Spoken like a true Mom of little ones! Keeping up with the messes they leave behind is like shoveling during a blizzard.  Why bother? (And as I just typed that I thought of a few people who actually do that. One also leaf blowed during Hurricane Irene, go figure.)

Somehow, we just accumulate things. I read somewhere that we humans do not use 80% of what we own. This is scary, sad, wasteful, and most of all eye opening.  I know people who swear by the adage, "Use it or Lose it" and it makes so much sense. If it doesn't serve a purpose in your life, why hang onto it?

We could live in a museum but really, how many kids enjoy going to museums? Sterile/stark houses scare the Willies out of me and I know that when kids aren't allowed to make messes somewhere in the house, they go berserk later in life.  Yup, it's true. 

And I can only blame the kids for so long. I am also part of the problem. I procrastinate. I like piles.  I don't even know the words to the "Clean up" song. I am screwed.

I read an interview with Jane Lynch (of Glee fame) and she talked about how she is such a neat freak and despised clutter. Instead of saving every little memento, like special cards from people, she kisses the item, says goodbye and then tosses it. I really love this method! However, I can't bear to toss anything my kids make me, so I hang onto those for safe keeping. (Investing in Rubbermaid is easier than learning to scrapbook at this stage.)

I have noticed that since I have made this resolution and have actually stuck to it, I feel a bit lighter and much happier. I think there might be more room in my brain for other things now too. You might say it's like a "Psychological Colonic".  Or, a Psycolonic. So, I am letting go of things, kissing them goodbye and moving on. I have consigned, donated, and yes, thrown things away. Still a long way to go, but I'm on the path to Spiritual Cleanliness.

Once again, Ginny was right. I too, love a good cleanin' out.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The magic of makeup

"Makeup: It makes me look really alive when I feel mostly dead."

This is my new mantra. Can you relate?
I grew up with a Mom (Ginny) who always wore makeup. I do not remember one day in my entire young or adult life when she left the house without her face on. So, it stands to reason that my sister and I were constantly told "Put some makeup on!" while other moms were screaming, "You look like a puttana, get that paint offa your face!" Ginny is the true definition of glamour and still looks hot at 76!

As I grew into my upper teens I embraced makeup more and more. I learned how to take good care of my skin after going to my first Mary Kay demonstration at the age of 16. Eventually, my friend roped me into selling it and now I reap the benefits of a 50% discount on fabulous skin care and makeup. If you would like to add some glamour to your life click here. (My new favorite foundation is Luminous Wear and I am getting compliments every where I go! I swear it has magical powers.)

After I got married and had kids, my makeup routine was very scanty. Sleep deprivation really got the best of me and I'd go a whole week without any makeup. Now, for some girls, this is OK. However, have you seen the movie Carrie with Sissy Spacek? That would be me. I think I may have scared many of my neighbors and the kids in the playground. (I think that babies are born with so/so vision just so they won't be petrified by their pale-faced mommies.)

I'm going to make a very bold statement now and call me superficial if you want to. Wearing makeup just makes me feel better. Even if I have lost an entire night's sleep, the minute the makeup hits the face, I perk right up. Don't ask me why, but I think it has something to do with that Fernando guy from SNL. "It's not how you feel, it's how you look. And you look Mahvelous!"

I know makeup isn't for everyone. I get it. I was one of you, and still am some days. (And PS. even when my face is done from brows to lips, my mother still says, "Why don't you put your makeup on?" She might be watching too many Kardashian shows. To her credit, she has been asking this question less since her double cataract surgeries.  

To recap: If you've been looking mostly dead and need a revival, try putting some makeup on.  Mom is always right!