Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Garden update

Things are happening around the Schultz compound. We don't actually live on a compound, nor do I consider our yard a compound, but it's fun to say don't ya think? At this very moment Dan is burning piles of wood that we've had lying around since last summer when he tore down the kudzu and pruned the trees in our back yard. There is so much smoke I seriously think someone is going to call the fire department and we're going to be fined for burning in our yard. One of the pitfalls of living in the city.....you can't do things like burn your yard waste, even when it's in a steel drum. We're living life on the edge of the law. :o)

We're also not allowed to have chickens, but Dan and I have made the decision to get a few hens anyway. We have a spot in our side yard where no one would see them if we fenced the area off and they would have plenty of space to run around and lot's of grass and clover to eat. I guess the benefits of having chickens outweigh the possible prosecution we could face if we were caught with the cluck clucks. The chickens won't be happening until our garden is finished being set up and planted, when Dan has some time to make a coop for them. Which will be later this spring....maybe May. We are also going to skip the baby chicks this time around and go straight to egg laying hens. Less fuss, more edibles!

My seedlings are doing great! Everything except rosemary is up which isn't a surprise to me, rosemary is very, very pokey. Lot's of the seedlings already have their secondary leaves and it's time for me to thin the weaker seedling out. I always plant 2 seeds per pot to ensure that at least 1 plant comes up, but they grow a lot better when they aren't crowded so eventually 1 baby plant has to be yanked....it's for the greater good, but it always makes me sad especially when there isn't an obvious weaker plant.

Our dirt got delivered last week! What an exciting day. The delivery truck couldn't fit through the posts in our fence so we had them dump all 8 yards of dirt in our front yard! I'm sure our neighbors are loving us right now. lol We decided to go with 75% compost and 25% top soil....all of it was sifted and it's very clean. I can't wait to have all of my garden boxes finished and filled with our new dirt and for the growing to begin. Do you see Maddie back there behind the dirt? That's a LOT of dirt!!

My blueberry bushes arrived. the bed they are going in hasn't been built yet so I had to pot them for the time being. But, they have already started growing leaves!! When we first got them, they were seriously twigs with no leaves in them. Plants are amazing.

My broccoli, brussel sprouts and red leaf lettuce are growing beautifully! I really thought that my lettuce wasn't going to make it because I waited so long to get it into the ground, but they bounced back completely.....their leaves are turning a nice dark red and they are getting bigger. Both my broccoli and brussel sprout plants have grown up close to 4 inches in the 3 weeks since I planted them. No edibles yet on my brussels, but I already have 2 teeny tiny broccoli growing!! I can't wait to eat them. My lettuce seeds are sprouting too, but they don't even have their secondary leaves yet, so it's slow going. I can tell that I planted them way too close together so I will for sure have to thin them out....maybe today.

Do you see that little broccoli in the middle? :o)

Dan finished another garden box yesterday. He's getting much better and faster at getting them up! I guess it helps that he has a bunch of tools to make life easier. He bought a nail gun a few weeks ago and it was love at first sight. I have to say.....tools make his life easier, and it makes the job get done faster which means that I get more of my husbands time. Win win. Things are pluggin' along! Our yard is a mess right now, we have organic matter and tools everywhere and none of our projects have been completed, but you can see the beauty that will be. We're so close to being done with the big things and I'm so happy with how everything is turning out!

You can see our first garden box on the other side of the stairs

Monday, March 29, 2010

Teach them to cook

I still haven't completely digested all of the thoughts swirling around my head in regards to food in our country and the way we eat, but I think I've figured out a process for writing my thoughts down. One topic at a time. I feel like if I try to write a grand opus I'm never going to accomplish anything.....it's much easier and more comprehensive to tackle one issue at a time. So, here goes.

Dan and I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution this Friday. I can not tell you how happy it makes me that my husband not only tolerates my crazy and obsessive need to immerse myself in whatever it is that I currently am on fire about, but he SUPPORTS me too! He watches the documentaries and shows that I watch, he engages in lengthy conversations with me and he encourages and helps me to make the changes that I feel are necessary for our family. I am truly blessed to have a man who loves me as much as Dan does.

Anyway......back to Food Revolution. I'm finding the show to be a bit redundant, but I understand that they are trying to hammer home a point and sometimes the general public needs to see something over and over again before it really sinks in......"yeah, this is bad." Everyone was super concerned about the fact that forks and knives were not given out to elementary school children, although I agree that they should learn how to use those tools I came from the generation of the spork, so not using proper cutlery doesn't shock me one bit. What did shock me was that 5 and 6 years olds were not able to identify basic raw vegetables. My three and a half year old may not be able to identify a raw beet, but she knows what a cooked beet looks like, and she certainly knows what a potato, cauliflower and tomatoes are. How is it that these children have no idea what vegetables look like? Why is it that they have no idea what salad tastes like and are shown taking their very first taste and spitting the salad out?

I think it all comes down to the fact that Americans don't cook anymore. It was something that Jamie briefly mentioned on the show on Friday and it has really stuck with me! People are not being taught how to cook anymore. My mother's generation had electives in high school, and college courses they took on how to cook. It was more how to be domestic and be a good house wife, but culinary skills were taught. Over time domestic classes, or home economics classes were dropped, probably due to lack of funding, but also because women started going into the work force and domestic skills weren't as necessary. Regardless of the reason behind it, people....mainly women, stopped being taught how to cook. When I was in junior high and high school 11-16 years ago (yikes!) I had a half semester of home ec in 7th grade and a half semester of home ec in 9th grade as an elective (so some people didn't even get that class) where I learned how to sew a small stuffed animal, and bake a cake.....that was the hands on learning I got.

I'm not going to blame Americas lack of cooking skills on the education system, although I do believe that there is a lot that they could be doing to better the situation. Where my blame goes is to parents.....everything goes back to parenting doesn't it? Before you go after me and send me a bunch of hate mail I want to make my stance very clear. I feel that it is a parents job to teach their children and give them the tools they will need to be successful adults. Successful is subjective, so fill that word in with whatever you think it should mean. Why have kids if you don't want to take part in teaching them? However, I understand that sometimes the hand we are dealt makes it difficult to be as involved as we'd like to be in teaching our children. I understand that, really I do! But as parents, it's still our fault when our children fail at basic life skills. They belong to us, not the school district, not the church, not the neighborhood, it's OUR job.

I was lucky enough to be raised by a woman who cooked. My parents were even part of a gourmet cooking club from my earliest recollections to today. My mom never forced me to cook, but when I was young she encouraged me to help her in the kitchen, and she signed me up for cooking classes when I wanted to take them. I got to a certain age (probably early teens) where I wasn't interested in cooking and I pretty much didn't cook until I got married. But, I had my mom there every day, in the kitchen cooking meals for our family and being an example of a cook. We rarely ate out, we rarely got fast food and we rarely heated up prepared foods. Today, if you take a look at my 2 brothers and me, we all cook, we all enjoy cooking and we all have an appreciation of good food. I can't help but think that my mother is the reason why! She showed us through example what it means to love your family through cooking. AND, she worked outside of the home through my entire youth!!

Like I said, I was lucky to have someone to teach me the fundamentals of cooking, but I went for so many years without actually cooking that I had to learn a lot on my own. I've had to learn my own rhythm, my own short cuts and develop my own tastes.....not to mention having to learn to cook for someone else, thank goodness Dan is easy going when it comes to food and will eat anything, but I do try and please him with my cooking! My point is that even if someone didn't have the foundation that I had growing up, they can still learn to cook. It always annoys me when someone tells me, "I can't cook." Well, I can't do calculus, but if I felt it was important for me to know, it sure as heck would be something that took time for me to learn, it would take repetition and dedication and I would definitely suck at it at first, but over time I would get better. Same with cooking. You can't expect to be able to cook well unless you put the time into learning! It is not a natural ability that you are born with. Get a cook book that interests you and start cookin'.

Back to kids and cooking. I think a really easy solution to teaching our kids about food and healthy eating is to be an example for them. Obviously that means that we are going to have to eat healthy foods instead of unhealthy ones, but it also means we will have to sacrifice time and be in the kitchen. I don't always have my kids help me cook, sometimes it's just easier to do it myself, but both my girls know how to crack eggs and stir and I let them sprinkle and pour....anything that is easy enough for them to handle and stay out of trouble. I try really hard to always say yes when they specifically ask if they can help and even when they aren't helping me I talk to them about the foods I am chopping, let them nibble on bites of bell pepper or let them smell the spices I am using. I try and keep them involved as much as possible, mostly to fill that bad evening time where they are bouncing off the walls and I am ready for the day to be over, but also because I want them to have an appreciation for food, I want them to enjoy cooking when they grow up, and ultimately I want them to learn to be healthy.

Do I always feed my kids well balanced nutritional meals? No. I buy the occasional frozen pizza, my girls eat fruit snacks and hot dogs, but I'd say that 85% of the time they eat good foods and when I buy those bad foods I make sure they are the best bad foods that I can buy, 100% kosher beef hot dogs, real fruit fruit snacks, freshly made frozen pizzas. Anything that I can buy whole grain I do....pasta, tortillas, breads, rice, flour, crackers etc. my kids don't even notice the difference and at least it's something! I buy 100% juice and water it down to more than 50% water and they don't get soda....EVER. I try my best to stay informed and make good decisions and I want to make changes in the way we eat, so every day I'm learning something new that will hopefully benefit my family. I don't know how far I'm going to take all of these changes.....I'd love to say that we will buy only local, only organic, that we won't ever buy snack foods, or fast food but I can't say that with 100% certainty. We'll take baby steps and see how they affect our life and then we'll take the next step. At least it's moving forward!

Our country is suffering and a lot of it has everything to do with what we are choosing to fuel our bodies with. I'm glad that Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is on TV. It may be reality TV, and it may be tweaked so that it's more entertaining, but at least it's being put out there. Maybe people with nothing better to do on a Friday night will tune in and their eyes will be opened. Our kids deserve better than what we are giving them. Let's give them some tools they will need for life........let's teach them to cook!!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Early Spring

Once more the Heavenly Power
Makes all things new,
And domes the red-plowed hills
With loving blue;
The blackbirds have their wills,
The throstles too.

Opens a door in Heaven;
From skies of glass
A Jacob's ladder falls
On greening grass,
And o'er the mountain-walls
Young angels pass.

Before them fleets the shower,
And burst the buds,
And shine the level lands,
And flash the floods;
The stars are from their hands
Flung through the woods,

The woods with living airs
How softly fanned,
Light airs from where the deep,
All down the sand,
Is breathing in his sleep,
Heard by the land.

O, follow, leaping blood,
The season's lure!
O heart, look down and up,
Serene, secure,
Warm as the crocus cup,
Like snow-drops, pure!

Past, Future glimpse and fade
Through some slight spell,
A gleam from yonder vale,
Some far blue fell;
And sympathies, how frail,
In sound and smell!

Till at thy chuckled note,
Thou twinkling bird,
The fairy fancies range,
And, lightly stirred,
Ring little bells of change
From word to word.

For now the Heavenly Power
Makes all things new,
And thaws the cold, and fills
The flower with dew;
The blackbirds have their wills,
The poets too.

-Lord Alfred Tennyson

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Food Co-Operatives

This past weekend our family drove to Durham to pick up a top loader washing machine.....I need one for washing cloth diapers, but that's another blog. On our way home we decided to stop by Chapel Hill/Carborro and visit Auntie Erin at her place of employment. Erin works at the Weaver Street Market which is a community owned grocery store and cafe. It was my first visit to a food co-op and I absolutely loved it! It was crazy busy on one of our first warm Sunday's in North Carolina, but even the bustle of activity didn't detract from it's loveliness. I really, really wish that we had one here in Raleigh. I have no idea if our community would support one.....probably not since we don't currently have any food co-ops, but I would shop at one for sure!

In the past week I have watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and the movie Food Inc. and I have LOT'S to say about food, government and how those two things affect my family and yours. I'm going to wait a little while before I post my thoughts on these subjects, because right now it would come out as angry, unintelligible rantings. I think it's good to be fired up about things that matter in life.....that's when change takes place, but it's useless to be so fired up you sound like a fool. Check back later for our very own Schultz family food revolution! :o) We don't actually have so far do go......do you?

Yummy, yummy salads!

Big ol' cookie

Auntie Erin gives the best piggy back rides

Moo found an acorn

You'd think it was fall with this one!
Charlotte likes throwing organic matter.....
sand, dirt, wood chips, leaves......

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chronicles of Charlotte

My Charlotte is such a blessing. Stubborn to the core, loving to a fault and chalk full of personality. She gives full body hugs, sloppy kisses and tells us she loves us every day. Even though we battle over something every single day I could not imagine our life without our ever spunky, water lovin', flower picking girl!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A day at the zoo

Dan and I took the girls to the North Carolina Zoo on Saturday! I've been wanting to go for a while and thought it would be a good idea to make our trek before temps get too high.....hot NC summers, pregnant woman and 4 miles of mostly up hill zoo walking don't mix. The weather was beautiful on Saturday although it did get up to 83 which turned out to be pretty warm with no leaves on the trees to provide any shade. I think that everyone in North Carolina had the same idea as us because it was seriously SO crowded......we had to wait in line to use the bathroom! What we learned at the zoo is that our girls are a bit too young to really enjoy the whole experience. Not only is it an hour and a half drive, but Charlotte is still too young to not have a nap which was a lot of fun come 1:00. Maddie would have done well staying at the zoo all day, but she wasn't really all that interested in the animals, and honestly I don't blame her. The amazing thing about the NC Zoo is that the habitats are HUGE! The animals have so much room to roam, but it makes it really hard to get a good look at anything unless the animals are right next to the edge of their space. Baboons are fun to watch, but pretty difficult to keep a toddlers attention when they are 100 feet away. Good for the animals, not so good for young-ins. All in all it was a fun day. We had a picnic lunch and ended our afternoon on the merry go round. Maybe in a year from now Maddie and Charlotte will have a better time at the zoo....although by then, we'll have a 6 month old to throw a different kind of stick in our wheels. Oy vey!

Our first stop, giraffes

Giraffes and zebras get to chill together

Playing with my macro settings and depth of field


Maddie's favorite


Bamboo forest.....AMAZING!

Daddy & Maddie watching baboons

Charlotte watching "ba-booms"

"The jungle"-Maddie

Fun jungle game

Daddy had to go up a LOT of stroller ramps.
Buff Daddy!

Merry go round fun!
My kids are too cute, I couldn't just pick two.

County McCounterson