Foto Friday #12: A Color Feast

This week we drove to Sonnewald Natural Foods store for the kids to attend a school outing and education program. We learned even more about eating whole foods, locally grown, and organic foods. I hope we can find some great places like this after the move. This particular store is a fair distance from the house, so I doubt I will be able to purchase consistently from them, but if you are looking for these types of options in south central Pennsylvania, I highly recommend them. The staff was very knowledgeable and patiently answered questions. For today, I wanted you all to see the vibrant colors and imagine how much more you would enjoy eating healthy if you could put this rainbow on your plate.

Leafy Greens at Market by skipsmkgirl, on Pix-O-Sphere

Organic Fruit by skipsmkgirl, on Pix-O-Sphere

 Bulk Food Bins by skipsmkgirl, on Pix-O-Sphere

When it was time to go, we were just in time for the first sticking-to-the-ground snow of the winter.

 Snow on the Ground by skipsmkgirl, on Pix-O-Sphere

Thank you to the staff at the store for providing this educational program for both kids and the adults who attended.

Have you tried buying more organic or whole foods with the options that have entered the market the last few years?

Haven-Sweet Aromas from the Kitchen

Well, here we are, the final challenge from Courtney to make our Home a Haven.

October 31 – Focus on the kitchen, the heart of the home. Cook things with pleasant aromas. Pick a meal the family can cook together – include everyone in a task and take pictures so everyone can remember moments in the kitchen together – test tasting, being creative, laughing and loving. Remove discontentment with your home or family and give thanks to God for the home God has given you to in which to create a haven for your family.

I grew up on Pop-Tarts, frozen pizzas and bologna sandwiches. Organic and whole foods were foreign concepts to me. I still gravitate towards these options if I allow myself to get into a rut, or just plain laziness.

I have been blessed to be married to a man who can literally pick up four random ingredients in our kitchen and make something yuuuuumy! He loves spicy, strongly-flavored foods while I still consider myself a picky eater.

After being married for almost seventeen years I have certainly grown to love more foods than I did on our wedding day. Living and visiting places around the world helped too.

I still refuse most condiments, especially foods made with mayonnaise like potato salad. I prefer to avoid foods that require a fire extinguisher as well. I have grown to love dishes with fish, vegetables and blends of spices I never dreamed of as a child though. For this I feel blessed. I want my children to experience this and to know how to make these dishes when they are grown and gone.

I recently decided to start with a few basic changes to get us out of the rut of busy-ness and boringness when it came to our meals. First, we have become consistent about getting our milk and eggs from a local, organic farm. I hope to add more items as I get more specific with meal planning again.


2009-The Family Cow Farm (and completely different hair)

Second, I have searched out more from-scratch recipes for the basic foods we like to have on hand. I found a marinara recipe on Food Network’s website that we enjoy for pizza and pastas. I started using a pancake recipe from a Mary Kay Cookbook I received as a gift in Dallas this summer. I’m looking for more options to reduce white flour use even in baking, but in the mean time I realized I could  use non-bleached flour. (You should have seen my daughter’s face when she learned that our food is put food through chlorine)


Third, I am trying to use the less-busy days as opportunities to cook double batches and complete bulk-cooking for items that can go in the freezer. I did this for a few hours on a couple of different days before attending Relevant in October.



I love to bake so I make things like these cupcakes we served at the kids’ Halloween party (those are pumpkins-I said I could bake not decorate).


So, what do you love to cook? Do you have a great “emergency meal” for those days that just get away from you?

The Family Cow

Today reminded me of just one of the many reasons why I love having my kids enrolled in their Charter School. Our Family Support Coordinator, with the help of one of the other parents, arranged for a tour of a local farm that is certified organic. They produce beef, chicken, eggs, butter and raw milk, all organic of course. The family has lived on the homestead for five generations! The farmer, Ed Shank, gave us the tour along with his youngest son and the family dog Dingo who “is not a wild dog from Australia.” One of the buildings on the farm was built in 1853. They think the rear part of the house was built about the same time. I would have loved to have seen the inside of the house but really, I don’t think they need that level of an invasion of privacy. So, we got to stop by a small area where they keep the calves. They are working on developing a system where these little ones could actually run completely free. For now, they do keep them leashed to their individual houses. Mr. Shank did let one out to run around with us and he let her stay with our group as long as she liked. Once we actually started walking away from the other babies, she turned around on her own. But not before she tried to get milk from several of our hands (mine included…can you say slimy? They put the cows out onto the field in 4 acre sections, moving them each day. The cows get exercise by walking to and from the field areas twice a day for milking. The areas of the farm only get grazed about once every three weeks with the rotation and they move the chickens around in a similar fashion. I was actually surprised it didn’t smell worse than it did but KitKat wasn’t too sure about walking around in a cow pasture! I found it interesting to learn that clover is actually a legume and it produces nitrogen. So, it’s actually important for them to allow the mix of this and grasses in the fields since they don’t use chemical fertilizers and of course, nitrogen is hard to come by naturally without something like the clover. We then walked out to actually see the cows get moved to a new section of grass. The more they eat, the more they produce, and they can get very ill if they actually get an empty stomach. They don’t normally move them in the middle of the day, but he wanted the kids to see how excited the cows were about ‘new’ grass. They started bellowing and moo-ing like crazy! Then we moved on to the chickens. Since cows are herbivores and chickens are omnivores, this rotation helps keep pests down in the fields along with providing lots of natural fertilizer. The little chicken houses are actually on wheels so they can just drag them along when rotating fields. They are using a fence mainly to keep predators out. He said he lost about 200 chickens out of the 800 total before implementing the new fence system. I’m sure the local fox population is disappointed in the changes.

Meanwhile, after walking around, collecting eggs and generally goofing off, KitKat got up the nerve to hold a chicken. Now, mind you, she did not actually catch the hen, she just held one someone else picked up. When she was done obliging me for a photo, she said, “I think I need a shower.” Don’t worry sweetie, mommy agrees! Before we could go home to get girly again, we walked back to the front of the farm to see the milking area, tank system and store.

We will definitely be getting milk and eggs from them as often as possible. If you are local, they are located just on the corner of 81 and 997 across from the mall. They are open 8-6 Mon through Saturday and the milk is YUMMY! They are about to start working with Whole Foods and already supply the milk that Trickling Springs Creamery uses (but they pasteurize it first there).