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What is Community Supported Agriculture and How to Find and Join a CSA?

Friday, March 30, 2018

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Imagine you had someone growing healthy, fresh and delicious food for your family every year, making sure to harvest just the day before or on the same day the produce arrives in your kitchen. That would be a dream!


Imagine you could also help local farmers by supporting their business, besides knowing who and how the food you eat is being produced. That is why I love Community Supported Agriculture!

It is fun to grow a few things in the backyard, but my garden needs a little outside help, so if you are looking for great produce during the Summer months, now it is the time that the farmers are in the lookout for customers to sign up for their Community Supported Agriculture or CSA program.

CSAs are basically a produce subscription that you pre-pay so the farmer can use your investment and commitment to grow food for you. Some farms offer every week deliver or every other week, with different days to pick up your box.


Every State has farms that work on this basis, and to find one in your area, all you have to do is to check the Local Harvest Website. 



Or you can add your Zip Code Below:
Zip Code or City:


The USDA website lists CSAs in case you want to search further.

Some Farms also allow you to subscribe to a box of chicken, beef, and pork delivered throughout the year. It is cheaper than to buy them every week in the Farmers Market, as you get the bulk discount.

My favorite part of the CSA subscription is to get to know the farmers as real people and read their updates and newsletters about the work they are doing. It makes me feel much more appreciative of the food I eat and care more about its value. 



The other benefit is that it forces me to try new things that I would not have picked myself, and it is fun to find new recipes and ways to eat a healthier diet.

My boys are always excited to see the box after we pick it up and to search for fresh strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes that make the best snacks ever!

What is your take on CSAs and how have you experienced them?
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How To Get Your Wardrobe Ready for Spring: 3 Spring Mom Uniforms

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

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Every new season I like to find a few staple items that can become part of my mom uniform throughout the week. Easy pieces that look put together but are also comfortable and affordable.

This Spring I have discovered the practicality of long jackets. You can wear all your last year's pieces in an upgraded version with the simple addition of a long jacket. They also keep me warm as the weather moves towards higher temperatures.

Below are 3 cute jackets that fit into my mom lifestyle. 

1: Military Vest. I wish I could wear this one every day without anyone noticing the repeat!

2: Sweater Vest. I own the grey one but it also comes in green, navy and cream. Feels almost like wearing pajamas!

3: Cardigan Vest. I don't own this one but as soon as it is on a super amazing sale I may take it home to make sure my vest collection can take me from Monday to Friday without too many repeats!

What about you? What are your best mom uniform pieces?
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How to Start your Garden from Seed

Monday, March 26, 2018

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Are you feeling ready for Spring yet? I didn't use to enjoy gardening in the past, but now every March I get excited just thinking about the new vegetable seeds to try out or flower plants to spread around my house.

The dreamy thoughts of harvesting fresh herbs to add to a recipe or the tomatoes riping on the vine motivated me last month to crawl through the mess inside my garage and find all my last year's gardening supplies.


Remember, the hard work will pay off when you bite that sweet cucumber that tastes nothing like the store ones. When you start from seed, you can also choose among many more varieties and control the quality of your seeds, soil, and water.

At this time of the year, you can plant indoors most herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, onion, cabbage, swiss chard, kale, collards, you name it.

Some other vegetables do better planting straight in the ground like beans, corn, carrots, beets, melons, lettuce, peas.

Some of my favorite places to shop for seeds and garden supplies are the small suppliers who specialize in different varieties, but I also get a few things from bigger suppliers with disease resistant kinds:

1. Baker Creek: the most beautiful and exotics vegetables you may ever see! Their catalog alone is mouthwatering!

2. Territorial Seed: lots of choices and new kinds every year to try out. Many organic and heirloom options.

3. Johnny's: If you want to find a hybrid to target specific problems you may encounter, they offer such options. If you click the "growers library" link you will find all the information you need to plan your garden in your region and what works best for your climate. Check their vast library of informative articles for tips and ideas.

5. Library: check your local library for free seeds available to the public.

6. Herb Sets: if you want to have a good selection of herbs to start, you can get a set with all the ones you need.




7. Vegetable Sets: when you want to try out different kinds and have fun in the process. Love when they are heirloom seeds.


8. Tomato Sets: for the tomato lovers out there who want to get a nice variety of tomato plants.




While I am not expert in gardening, below are my favorite products to grow vegetables or flowers from seeds:

1. Soil Starter: I love using these dried pods because you can store them for years, and then when you are ready, just add warm water (filtered water is better) and watch them grow! They are easy to replant and have all the soil mix needed to start the seeds.


2. Trays: I have plastic trays that keep all the pods organized and just off the bottom so they can drain after each watering. You can also get the plastic top to keep them moist until they sprout or you can cover with a plastic wrap. I got mine at Home Depot but below are similar ones.

3. Growing Lights and Warming Pad: I personally have not used these, but I have heard good things about them. For warmth, I place my trays on top of the refrigerator as our climate is mild enough this time of the year. For light, after my seeds have sprouted and got a little bigger I place them next to a sunny window. If you are growing your seeds in a house that gets too cold at night or has not enough sunlight coming through the windows, you may want to try the growing lights and a warming pad. 


       


Below are my babies growing! I don't actually leave them outside, it was just to get more light for the picture. 

What are your tips for growing vegetables from seed?

Happy Spring!





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How to Achieve your Financial Freedom

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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In a world powered by money, how do you achieve your financial freedom?

What exactly is financial freedom? Working four hours a week? Living from the profits of a great idea? Climbing a mountain and reclusing from society? Erasing all your debt? Retiring early?

Some feel it is the freedom to do what you want without money constraints. Others, to be able to live without working.


How much money do you need to achieve it? Maybe one million dollars is enough for you to achieve financial freedom, while for others, one million dollars may not be enough to cover even their yearly expenses.

Money in my pocket may be finite, but money is really infinite. Because after all money is a number value, an amount that has no limit. Like an endless rope that you pull closer and closer but never reach its end, no matter how fast you run it through your hands. 



If we knew our lives would end tomorrow, would it matter how much money we have to our name? It may benefit our family members, but for us, personally, it is just as much as zero. Because no matter how high your pile of rope is, it does not take you anywhere beyond death. 

So why do we worry so much about money? Not only those struggling to make ends meet but also many billionaires and millionaires who are obsessed with increasing their capital.

Clearly then, ultimate financial freedom is not about cash amounts, personal needs or inner satisfaction. Financial freedom has more to do with the feeling of being one hundred percent in control. Or at least the illusion of being in control.



If it is not by accumulating more money, how do you achieve your true financial freedom? That inner feeling of being free from the power of money or possessions, available to the rich or the poor because money is not the problem, the need for control is. 

Imagine if you carried in your pockets at all times, lots of pebbles. As life progresses, you add more and more pebbles to your pocket. People ask about the pebbles and you tell them that it is very important to own a lot of pebbles because you never know when you will need to pile them up like a mountain, so you can climb high away from serious problems.

Over time, the pebbles start to make holes in your pockets, and as the pebbles slip to the ground you hurry from right to left collecting all the pebbles dropping down. After some decades, you don't even see the sky anymore, or the faces of those around you, as your eyes are always scanning the floor for pebbles. You become so tied down by the weight of the pebbles that one day there is a fire in the house, and you just can't run away because you got to keep all these pebbles in your pockets even when their weight is higher than your strength.

There is a better way to live. Freedom from having to scan the ground all the time, freedom to look up, to look around. It comes from engaging in a different monetary system, where the more you give, the wealthier and freer you become. The more you share, the bigger your portfolio. Because this monetary system is not perishable, it is actually made of love.


"Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Pet 1:18-19

We don't have to be in control of our lives, either through money, power or self-discipline. Nobody is actually in control of their lives, so why do we deceive ourselves? God created us to let him have all the control, because his control is always out of love, while ours is always out of selfishness. 

What would our lives look like if we gave all of our control to God? 

Jesus died to free us from our selfishness, to free us from the power of our pebbles.

Let him carry your pebbles, let him define how many pebbles are enough for you, let him help you find the pebbles when you need them. And even if the serious problems come around and you don't have enough pebbles to make a mountain to climb high, he will be there with you and he will lift your eyes high so you can see that there is a safe place higher than any pebble mountain you may pile.


Keep your life free from love of money, be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear, what can man do to me? Hebrews 13:5-6

That is true Financial Freedom!


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Best Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie with Dates

Monday, March 19, 2018

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Sometimes, all you need to lighten up a grey windy Monday is a good hearty pie. This pie comes out of the oven bubbling its insides and sending fumes of deliciousness around your house. 

My under the sleeve secret is "dates", as in the thousand years old fruits that grow in the desert. They just pull the flavors slightly to the sweet side, while still leaving the chicken to rule the buds. 

Now, this pie crust is amazing! So, so gentle on your taste buds, that it may just melt on your tongue! Your kids won't even notice they are swallowing enough veggies to cover their green needs for the entire week! My kids almost leaked the plate!


You may find a lot of these ingredients already packed in your freezer or pantry, and if you are into gluten-free meals, this recipe uses a gluten-free flour to make the crust. As easy as dumping a few ingredients in the blender, that's it! Crust done!

If you plan ahead, you can double the ingredients and get an extra dinner out of it. I recommend freezing the pie filling without the crust and then just blending the crust ingredients on the desired day, and baking the recommended time. 

Best of all, one pot will do it all for you, and if you have a real cast iron pot, you can even bake the pie in it. Easiest cleanup!

Start by adding some olive oil to the pot and keeping the heat on medium. Meanwhile, chop one onion and add to the hot oil. As the onion starts to brown, add three chopped garlic cloves to the pot and mix it up. 



Slice into cubes six chicken tights and add them to the pot, mixing up to brown the meat, without burning. 


Now it is the time to add some seasoning: salt, black pepper, and dried crushed rosemary to your taste. Mix a few more times while the chicken browns and the look is even. 

Vegetables next! Dice two medium-sized carrots and two celery stalks and add to the mix. 



Pre-heat your oven to 390 F to warm up things for the baking stage.

Reduce the heat, chop six dates (the dried fruit) adding them on top of everything else. Mix, mix, mix, and cover. Let it cook a little bit, about 5 minutes.



The fun part now! Add 1/4 cup of white wine and watch it evaporate as you scrape those deliticious crusts from the bottom. Rise up the heat a little to bubble the pot. 


After all the tastes have melted together is time to add the delicate frozen veggies. One cup of frozen corn and one cup of frozen peas. Mix, cover and let it steam for a minute. 




Almost done! Last part on the stovetop is to thicken the filling by mixing 1 Tbs of gluten-free all-purpose organic flour (Arrowhead Mills) with 1/2 C of water and then after is mixed, add to the pot, carefully moving it around. Turn off the heat and mix some more. Pour all the fillings into a pie dish.



It is already looking beautiful but wait until you see the end product! 

To make the crust, add to a small or big blender: 2 eggs, 1/2 C unsweetened coconut milk, 1/2 C gluten-free all purpose organic flour (Arrowhead Mills), 1 Tbs melted coconut oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp baking soda. That is it! Mix first with a spoon to make sure the flour dissolves in the liquids and then blend for about a minute. Make sure there are no clumps. 


The mix will be thick, so you can pour in parts on top of the filling and spread evenly with a spoon. 


Bake in the oven, at 390F for 40 minutes. Check around 30 minutes to make sure it is still slightly gold. When it looks golden brown, take it out of the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes before slicing. 

It goes great with some roasted asparagus with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Enjoy!



Yield: 5 adultsPin it

Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie with Dates

prep time: 20 MINScook time: 40 MINStotal time: 60 mins
This gluten-free pie crust is amazing! So, so gentle on your taste buds, that it may just melt on your tongue! The dates just pull the flavors slightly to the sweet side, while still leaving the chicken to rule the buds.

ingredients:

Pie Filling
Pie Crust

instructions:

Pie Filling (Pre-heat oven to 390F)
  1. Add olive oil to a medium-sized pot and heat to medium
  2. Add chopped onion and let it brown
  3. Add chopped garlic, mix and cook for a minute
  4. Add cubed chicken thighs, mix and let them brown
  5. Add salt, black pepper and dry rosemary to the pot
  6. Let everything cook until the chicken is evenly browned
  7. Add diced carrots, celery, and  chopped dates
  8. Mix everything, cover the pot and let it cook on low for 5 minutes
  9. Add the white wine, cook on high to evaporate the liquid while scrapping the bottom of the pot
  10. Bring heat to a medium, and add frozen corn and peas
  11. Cook for one minute
  12. Meanwhile, mix 1 Tbs of flour with 1/2 C of water and add to the pot
  13. Bring heat to low and carefully mix everything as the filling gets thicker
  14. Turn off the heat and transfer the filling to a pie dish
Pie Crust
  1. Place in a blender all the crust ingredients starting with the liquid ones
  2. Mix with a spoon to dissolve the flour into the liquids
  3. Blend on high for a minute
  4. Scrape down the sides if not evenly blended 
  5. Pour in parts the crust mix on top of the filling, spreading with a spoon
    (it will be thick)
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Check to see if the crust is starting to get a golden look
  7. Bake for more 10 minutes and let it cool down for 5 minutes before serving

notes

The Arrowhead Mills gluten-free mix I used is made of rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, millet flour, inulin and xanthan gum. I have not tried with other different brands, so it may work or not.
Created using The Recipes Generator


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