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There’s A Beef For That

Last week, I talked about some common misconceptions I hear all the time regarding beef and beef production. This week, we’re going to visit about something that gets equal time in the social media sphere: what kind of beef you should be eating.

I’m not going to tell you what kind of beef you should eat, or what kind of beef you shouldn’t eat. I will tell you, though that the standards for beef quality and safety in the United States are very high, so no matter what you’re getting a top-notch product.

However, if you’re wanting something specific, I can help you with how to find beef that suits what you’re looking for. This is not an exhaustive list, but includes some of the more mainstream, easy-to-find certifications. Remember those “There’s an app for that!” commercials? Well, there’s a beef for that!

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If you’re looking for beef that was never given antibiotics, look for:
USDA Certified Organic
— “Raised/Grown Without Antibiotics” “No Antibiotics Administered” or similar, look for USDA seal
—  
Never Ever 3
Global Animal Partnership
American Grassfed Association
Things to remember: “Antibiotic-Free” has no legal meaning with the USDA. “Natural” doesn’t mean anything other than “minimally-processed” with no added colors or artificial ingredients–this is true of all fresh meat. “No Antibiotic Residues” means that the meat has no residues, but no meat does, so again, meaningless. Also, please remember what I wrote last week: no matter what, the meat you eat has been tested for antibiotic residues. You are not eating antibiotics even if these labels are not on the meat that you purchased. When animals are sick, treating them is the right thing to do.

If you’re looking no growth hormones:
USDA Certified Organic
NHTC
Never Ever 3
Global Animal Partnership
Animal Welfare Approved
American Humane Certified
American Grassfed Association
— “No Hormones Administered” plus a USDA seal
Things to remember: “Hormone-Free” is not a thing, since all meat has hormones in it.

If you’re looking for beef from cattle that were fed no animal byproducts:
USDA Certified Organic
Never Ever 3
Global Animal Partnership
Animal Welfare Approved
Certified Humane
American Humane Certified (specifies “no ruminant-derived protein sources with the exception of milk and milk products)
American Grassfed Association

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If you’re looking for a certification for humane treatment or animal welfare:
Global Animal Partnership
Animal Welfare Approved
Certified Humane
American Humane Certified
Things to remember: I say “a certification for humane treatment” because humane treatment truly is the standard in the United States. Some producers pay to have a third-party verification service come in to review and verify their claims or their participation in animal welfare programs. I would encourage you to look into these individually, as their standards vary quite a bit since this category is subjective. Don’t worry, I plan on doing a whole post about this one. Also, a claim of “Humanely Raised and Handled,” even with a USDA seal, doesn’t mean much, since companies make their own standards.

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If you’re looking for beef that comes from cows that were only fed grass:
American Grassfed Association (no confinement)
–the USDA also offers a grassfed certification, but their standards do not address confinement, hormones, or antibiotics.
Food Alliance grass-fed program
Things to remember: uncertified “grass-fed” labels can mean that the animal did, in fact, eat only grass for most of its life (like all cattle)–but could have been finished on grain. Also, read up on the organization doing the certifying and their standards since they all have differences regarding antibiotics, hormones, confinement, etc. You might also find a lot of grass-fed beef from Australia, since grassfed is the status quo there. If country of origin is important to you, take this into account.

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If you’re looking for beef that comes from cows that were always on pasture:
Global Animal Partnership Step 5-5+
American Grassfed Association
Animal Welfare Approved
Things to remember: just having “pasture-raised” isn’t enough if you’re wanting no confinement at all, since all beef is raised on pasture (but could be finished elsewhere).

If you’re looking for American-raised beef:
American Grassfed Association requires all of its beef to come from family-owned American farms.
— Farmer’s Markets or meat co-ops. Lots of ranches and farms will sell meat to you by the quarter, half, or whole animal and it will be processed locally. If you need help finding someone near you, poke around on Google or Facebook, contact your local cattleman’s association, or shoot me an email!
Things to remember: because the country-of-origin labeling for beef is no longer required, you might feel uncertain. But, more than 90% of the beef consumed in the US was produced by American farms and ranches.

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Some retailers, like Whole Foods, have their own standards, so feel free to ask your retailer about their store’s requirements for the beef they sell. There are also now meat subscription boxes, like Butcher Box, that curate their meat based upon certain standards.

I get asked a lot what kind of beef we eat. Because we’re ranchers, we eat beef that we raise. We have two deep-freezers that we fill with meat every year, and have gotten half a pig the last couple of years too. Some of the animals we’ve eaten have been conventionally-raised and given antibiotics. Some have been mostly grass-fed. Last year we ate a bull that got culled later on because his scrotum was too small. Last year’s pig wasn’t big enough to show, so they sent it to be processed. We’ve had pretty much every variety on this list!

And lastly: I’m so into you meeting your farmer. This doesn’t mean I think you should only eat locally-raised meat because, like I said, I’m not here to tell you what you should eat. But, go visit a farm or ranch! Actually, visit both. Talk to the people who do this for their life’s work. Ask them your questions, visit awhile. See how your food is grown and cared for. It will give you more tools to decide what criteria is important to you. Like I said last week, if you’re needing help finding a ranch to visit, holler!

Celebrate

Currently 9.15.17

I couldn’t get myself together for a Friday Favorites post today, so instead I’m doing a Currently.

Time and place: 3:32 pm, my living room. Wacey decided he wasn’t down for a nap today, so he’s (sort of) quietly watching Alice in Wonderland (the live-action because I love it), and I’m feeling quiet and a little lazy myself.

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Loving: my new devotional. Guys, these things have my heart. I grounds me to take a little time (or snatches of time) to do a page every day. I’ve talked about my love of these devotionals before, but I was without one for a few weeks because I finished my last one right before they restocked the shop, and I missed it so much! I ordered this one the very minute they were back in stock, but of course put the wrong shipping address in (we don’t get USPS to our house, so we have a PO box in town and I entered our home address) so I had to wait extra long for it to arrive. Shout out to their customer service for helping me fix my error!

Craving: My favorite restaurants. We haven’t done much restaurant exploring yet (maybe due to the fact that the nearest town with a decent amount of restaurants is 50 miles away) and I’ve got a hankering for Chinese and Italian–Hoong’s Palace and the Saucy Noodle, specifically, if you’re near Denver! Our anniversary is next week, maybe I can convince Bert that a little restaurant reconnoitering is in order.

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Repeating: my love for grey paint. I know I’ve harped on and on about it here and on IG, but when something is life-changing, I get obsessed and I can’t shut up about it. I finished the Revere Pewter and y’all, it’s transformative. It feels like home.

folding nook

Planning: next week’s assault on the laundry room. It’s getting a fresh coat of paint (obviously, since I can’t stop), and I’m really excited to add some things to make it more functional. There’s a weird recess in the wall that’s entirely wasted space, and in a house this small, that’s almost a sin. It’s going to get two big shelves and a tension rod (the above picture has the right idea) so I finally have a place to put laundry and hang up Bert’s clean shirts without having to schlep piles of clothes all over the house. It’s funny, even though this house is a lot smaller than our last one, it has things I’ve always wanted, like a giant, actually functional mudroom, and space in the laundry room for folding, full baskets, and hanging clothes.

Seeking: Organizational solutions. I feel like we need a few more helps to make this house really tick, but I’m unsure about what they are or where to find them. I think my main issue is the absence of a junk drawer! I don’t have anywhere for pens or notepads or odds and ends like baby nail clippers and phone cords to live and I’m paralyzed.

Cherishing: Wacey’s word rush! All of a sudden he has all these words, and it’s amazing. He’ll just look at something and call it what it is, having never said the word before, and each time it’s a celebration. Watching kids learn is great.

Missing: home, just a little bit. I see pictures of the ranch and the calves and it’s still surreal that we’re here and not there. That place will always have a little piece of my heart. But you know, that’s how it’s supposed to be.

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Awaiting: Guys, I have a problem. It’s called Fall/Winter clothing, and I can’t help myself. I’m all about clothes that are comfortable but not always leggings that I can wear anywhere, play in, and still feel like an adult human. I also love crew neck sweatshirts, and was recently bemoaning the fact that one of my favorites is almost worn out, so this beauty is on its way to me to replace it. I’m officially put myself on a clothing-purchase moratorium until my birthday because a) we have a budget and b) control yourself, Johnston. Seriously.

Cooking: we have a few uneaten meals on the calendar from the past two weeks due to leftovers and impromptu fried-rice-making nights so I have a few choices for this evening: Lemon Brown Sugar Chicken, chicken cutlets, or burgers. And I really can’t decide! Because what I really want is takeout. #ranchgalproblems

Happy Friday! I hope your weekend is full of whatever you need most.

let's visit

Myth vs. Fact: FAQ Edition

Every Wednesday, I’d like to visit with you about beef. This week’s post is a general myth vs. fact sort of affair, addressing things either I or Bert hear often, or see on social media regularly. I won’t lie to you and say that some of these don’t really grind my gears, because they do. But it’s no use fussing about it, let’s get right to it.

Calves are born in feedlots where they live on corn until we eat them. All calves are born on ranches and farms. I’m not exaggerating–calving cows in confinement doesn’t work very well, so we tend not to do it. Calves stay with their mothers, on pasture, drinking milk and eating grass, until they are weaned at 6-8 months of age, then typically go to a stocker or a backgrounder and then on to a feedlot. Cattle spend 4-6 months in a feedlot, where they have plenty of room and top-notch care, and are fed a ration of various types of food, including hay. They don’t eat just straight corn!

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Ranching takes land away from farming. Honestly, this one kind of kills me. 85% of land used for raising beef cattle is not suitable for farming. I’ve often heard that we should get rid of cow herds and farm the rangelands to support a global plant-based diet. While maybe it’s a nice idea in theory, it doesn’t work in reality because you literally can’t farm most of the places where cows graze. The soil isn’t good for growing crops like the Sandhills of Nebraska which are, you guessed it, very sandy hills; or the ground isn’t suitable for being farmed like mountains of the American West, or the swamps and everglades and bayous of southern coastal states, or the deserts of the southwestern part of the country. We’ve lived in places where the growing season is too short to support farming (North Park, Colorado), or where the soil is too poor and the climate too dry to support anything but native short grass (Capitan, New Mexico), or where it’s too rocky and steep for anything but non-native grasses to thrive (Cameron, Montana). The really neat thing about cattle is that they’re taking a resource that humans can’t use for food–grass–and making it in to something that we can.

Grass-finished beef is better for the environment and grass-finished cattle are better cared-for. The science says no. I’ve heard both ends on this one, but I’ll ask you to consider this: grass-finished cattle can take twice as long to reach a (lower) slaughter weight than conventionally-raised cattle. That’s a whole year longer to consume resources like grass and water, and produce waste. More space, more time, more resources, for less beef. In fact, if we consumed the same amount of beef but it was all grass-finished, we’d need over 60 million more animals, 131 million more acres of rangeland, and would produce 135 million tons more greenhouse gases. Article here! Also, grass-finished beef can still spend time in a feedlot eating a diet of grass, forage, hay, or silage, and can still be given antibiotics or hormones. They aren’t cared for any better or worse than any other cattle, either! We do our best to take care of all of our cattle, regardless of how they are finished or marketed. Someone might tell you that I’m just shining you on, but spend some time with any rancher (I can find you one near where you live!), or on this blog, or come on down and visit me, and you’ll see that we really do our best by every cow we raise.

Grass-finished beef is better for you. I see this often cited with Omega-3s in mind. It’s true that grass-finished beef has double the amount of Omega-3s than grain-finished beef but it’s still not a good source. A serving (3.5 oz) of grass-finished beef has about 80 mg of those good ole fatty acids, whereas the same size serving of salmon will have 1,000-2,000 mg. Another thing to note is that salmon contains the “better” fatty acids EPA and DHA, while beef contains mostly AHA.

Beef is a huge cause of global warming. There’s a lot of controversy about this since there are many different studies with many different approaches. I use the EPA’s numbers, which say that beef production accounts for 3.4% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Full stop. Things like transportation and wasting food (we waste 40% of our food in this country, guys!) have a much larger impact. Also, properly grazed rangeland environments can actually act as carbon sinks, so that’s pretty cool. Another thing that’s pretty cool? We keep getting better. We keep decreasing our impact and increasing our efficiency year after year.

Beef is bad for you. Again, nope. Beef is a great source of protein, especially for the calories, and provides nine vital vitamins and minerals. I’m not saying to go out and stuff your face with a 20 oz steak, because moderation in everything is key, but don’t feel like you’re killing yourself by eating beef, either. You’re fueling your body with some good stuff!

Beef Nutrition
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All conventional meat has antibiotics in it. Even if an animal was treated with antibiotics, you aren’t “eating” those antibiotics when you consume that meat. All antibiotics have withdrawal periods before an animal can be slaughtered to prevent residues from ending up in meat. USDA inspectors then test the carcasses at the packing plants to ensure that residual guidelines are strictly followed. There’s literally a National Residue Program for this, and programs for continuing producer education like Beef Quality Assurance. There’s also a publicly available list of producers who have more than one residue violation. It’s updated weekly, and the USDA will use it to take extra care to inspect meat from those producers. Cattle buyers also use it to know if any of their suppliers have residue problems so they can be extra vigilant or choose not to work with that supplier. It’s a big deal, y’all, and we take it very seriously.

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All cattle in feedlots or not in an antibiotic-free program are given antibiotics. While sick animals or at-risk animals that need antibiotics will be doctored and cared for by an experienced professional–most feedlots have at least one veterinarian on staff–this doesn’t mean that all animals not in an “antibiotic-free” program are given antibiotics. From the ranch to the feedlot, beef producers are careful to use antibiotics only when they are needed for many reasons, but especially because it’s the right thing to do, but also antibiotics are expensive and take valuable time to administer so producers have no incentive to use them otherwise. That antibiotic pictured above, albeit one of the more expensive ones, costs nearly $5 a mL, and the dosage is 1.1mL/100 lbs. So, that $1200 bottle might treat about 35 weaned calves, or 25 yearlings. For a business with small profit margins–especially on the ranching side–that’s nothing to shake a stick at. It’s not like when you or your child is sick, and you go to the doctor and maybe only have to pay a copay, if anything. The producer is bearing the full weight of the cost of that drug, so you bet your hiney they’ll be using it judiciously. Lest you think that money is the only thing that matters in beef production: nope. The main thing here is that if an animal is sick, we are going to try and get it better. That might mean repeated treatment, or even a costly vet visit. We are not, however, going to throw away money by treating animals that don’t need it. Balance.

We’ll leave it there for now. I know it’s hard to navigate food. It’s hard to know what’s good and what’s not thanks to junk all over social media and regular media (hey Netflix, get you some better documentaries), and it’s hard not to worry because it’s food. It quite literally gives you life. You want the best for your family and for yourself. Oddly enough, so do we. On these Wednesday posts, I hope we can walk a little bit together and that I can help you know a little more truth about some of your food!

Up next week: beef choices, and how to find beef that fits what you’re looking for.

 

 

 

Family · On The Ranch

Salt and Mineral and Desolation (hey, hipsters, get your album titles here)

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hereford bull
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salt block drinker
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It’s Monday! I’m proud I know what day of the week it is, and what day it is (never forget) because lately I’ve been in a time warp of gray paint, funny sleep schedules, and dusty pickup adventures with these boys of mine. Not having a schedule is doing a number on my brain.

Because I’m a nosy Nelson (but is it really nosy if you live here?), and because the ranch is (literally) 62 square miles, we gathered up the boys yesterday morning and went on a little ranch tour while putting out salt and mineral for the cattle.

(Salt blocks and tubs of mineral supplement the animals’ diet to make sure they’re getting, well, all their salt and minerals. They’re sort of like the bovine equivalent of a Flintstones vitamin to account for various deficiencies in the natural environment.)

We saw the bulls, the heifers, some of the older cows, and a whole lotta cactus. In these pictures, we’re on the side of the ranch that’s not gotten much rain this year, so that’s why it looks a little crispy. Also, we haven’t escaped the haze that’s fallen over the Western United states (Lord, send some rain up to those fires, please sir).

Loading the boys up and driving around is one of our favorite things to do. Often, we’ll bring some bottled “fancy” soda and a bag of chips along and make it a little date. Wacey gets a big kick out of sitting next to Buster in the back seat, and Buster gets a big kick out of Wacey so it’s a win-win-win-win.

Things I learned while driving around yesterday:

  1. There’s a lot of rocks. I knew this before, but golly, they weren’t kidding when they made this place and decided it would be rockier than all seven movies (yes, seven, I Googled it so it must be true) in the Rocky franchise
  2. In this part of the world, a water tank is something in which to store water in, and a drinker is what the cattle actually drink out of, which we (used to) call water tanks. So tank=storage, drinker=what we used to call a tank.
  3. I will never, ever get tired of watching cows chase a pickup because they think there’s cake. I had to do some pretty fancy finagling to get a gate shut before the girls got through because they’d crawl on the back of that flatbed if they could.
  4. Bring more beverages. It’s hot and dusty and it takes, like, three hours to put out eight blocks of salt. Also chapstick.
  5. Buster can sleep through anything in a truck. Like, we could be in a monster truck crawling over boulders and not a single hoot could be given by that fat ole baby.
  6. We live in the middle of nowhere. My parents called it desolate. They were right, but without all the sad/heebie-jeebie connotations of desolate. I prefer “remote,” “real, real ranchy” (although we live within 50 miles of a decent-sized town so we’re not super ranchy), or “secluded.”
  7. I laugh on a very regular basis about how I grew up in town, was in a sorority in college, thought I was going to be a lawyer, and now live in a little house on a ranch in a desert in New Mexico. Like, who would thunk? Also, who woulda thunk that I (mostly) love it? I mean, God, obviously, but who else? No one, y’all. No one.
  8. I love having an excuses to wear my big ole hat. The bigger the hat, the bigger the hair, the bigger the inseam on my high-waisted jeans, those closer to God, as far as I’m concerned.
  9. We have a little canyon on the ranch called the Arroyo del Macho and that’s pretty cool.

In summary: putting out salt and mineral is fun, I like my family, and everything is cooler if it has a name in a foreign language.

Happy Monday! Love, Me. PS try these cookies. Unless you’re participating in a fitness challenge in which one of the categories is to limit sugar. Then wait till next month. Trust me here. Trust fall into my open arms, which are beefy because Buster, and trust me.

 

 

Family · Food

September Meal Plan

I get asked a lot what I do for meals, particularly since we have to be pretty savvy about buying groceries since we live in a rural area, so I thought I’d share what works for us! Especially because this is the first time in TWO MONTHS I’ve actually sat down and meal-planned, since July and August were basically a wash what with all the traveling to interviews and moving and being packed and in between houses and such.

So, at the very end of each month I try to sit down and plan the next month’s meals. I don’t have a formula (“Taco Tuesday” or pizza every Friday) because I find we get sick of meals fairly easily so I try to mix it up a little. We don’t have the luxury of takeout or a quick dinner out if I don’t feel like cooking, so I try to avoid getting in a rut. That being said, I make pretty much the same set of meals each month with one or two new ones thrown in to try, and have a few easy go-tos if we’re home late or I don’t feel like spending a bunch of time in the kitchen.

With each meal, I try to serve a green vegetable–often roasted broccoli/asparagus, or sauteed green beans–alongside if there aren’t already vegetables included in the recipe. You’ll notice that we eat meat every night; I have a husband with a metabolism of a racehorse and a work ethic of, well, a cowboy, and an appetite to match, and going meatless doesn’t work for him at all. We also eat a lot of pasta–see previously cited husband. I firmly believe that everything is fine in moderation, so I try to have more vegetables and meat on my plate than pasta and keep the portions smaller for myself.

You’ll also notice we don’t have tons of beef on this month’s menu–our freezer is almost empty and I’m not sure when we’ll be processing our next cow! I think it’s soon but I’m not sure what schedule our new ranch is on. I’m also trying to conserve our pig a little bit, too, since I’m not sure when we’ll be getting another. A lot of these recipes are the same as the ones in my pre-Buster big batch post, too. We  know what we like, I guess. At least once a month I’ll get a wild hair and throw out the calendar in favor of something new, but that’s not always easy since the grocery store is real far. My wild hairs tend to occur in town in the middle of the grocery store with my Pinterest dinners board open!

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Pasta prima: pasta with whatever vegetables I have on hand plus chicken or sausage, topped with pesto. Sometimes I make homemade but I usually just use Kirkland’s jarred pesto from Costco. This is one of our favorite things and it’s really veggie-heavy and quick so we have it a lot.

Stir-fry: I use this recipe, but use a frozen stir-fry veggie blend and it works beautifully. This is also a go-to when we’re low on produce since we use frozen veggies! We also like this with cooked chow mein stir-fry noodles.

Roast chicken: I used Ina Garten’s recipe for the first time for this one, and it got rave reviews! I’ll definitely make it again.

French dip sandwiches: I use my mom’s recipe in the slow cooker. A roast (this time I used a maybe 4-5 lb chuck), a packet of Lipton’s French Onion Soup mix, a bottle of beer, and a cup of water. I’ve found that roasting on high for an hour and a half or two hours for a thinner/smaller roast or 2-3 hours on high for a bigger/thicker roast works for us. I think I have a slow cooker than runs a little hot, though! I serve on deli rolls with curly fries.

Spaghetti and meatballs: I make a big batch of freezer meatballs, and throw them in some sauce to cook. I’ve found success with lots of recipes, so pick our fave! Our favorites are ones with Italian sausage and ground beef.

Baked Cajun chicken: This is one of our very favorite recipes! I like to make it with halved or quartered baby reds and fingerling potatoes, and it’s also good with wingettes and drummies.

Tacos: ground beef, cheese, sometimes cilantro-lime rice, sauteed peppers and onions, and the fixins. I use either this taco seasoning or a packet of McCormick’s. We sometimes do fajitas on these days instead.

Potstickers: this is one of my favorite easy meals. I used to (and sometimes still do) make a big batch of homemade potstickers and freeze them, but more often than not I get a bag of frozen ones at Costco and serve with sesame noodles.

Pork chops and potatoes: thinly-sliced pork chops fried in a skillet with breakfast potatoes (diced potatoes, peppers, and onions).

Chicken cutlets and basil orzo: pounded-thin chicken cutlets breaded with panko, parm, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, sauteed in olive oil and served with orzo baked in chicken stock and then mixed with basil and parm. Loosely based on this recipe, which is one of my faves (sans olives) but Bert doesn’t really like lemon so I don’t make it much.

Short rib sandwiches

Italian sausage and pasta: sliced sauteed Italian sausage with marinara and sauteed red bell peppers served over penne, rigatoni, or something similar.

Lemon brown sugar chicken

Cajun chicken pasta: I use the PW’s recipe but with, like, a quarter of the cream. I can’t tell the difference! Our vegetables of choice are also peppers and mushrooms and red onions. After trying many different Cajun seasonings, this one is our favorite.

Breaded pork chops with wild rice

Ground Italian sausage (we use bucatini noodles)

Chicken Parm: sort of like this one. I use cutlets, bread them, bake them, and then add the sauce and parm about five minutes before taking out of the oven.

Beef with snow peas: I like, quadruple the amount of snow peas. You can use lots of different cuts for this one, I tend to use up round steaks with this recipe. I slice and marinate overnight and add a splash of apple cider vinegar to the marinate to help the tenderizing process.

Homemade pizza: I still haven’t found a crust I love love yet, I’ll let you know when I do. We like to do sausage and mushroom with caramelized onions and a little smoked gouda on a wheat crust.

Breakfast for dinner: biscuits and gravy, hashbrowns, breakfast potatoes, waffles, sausage patties…it’s whatever we feel like!

Chicken, Broccoli, and Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Dinner. This is new this month, so I’ll let you know!

Whew! That was long. If you’ve stuck to it this far, I’m impressed and thank you. Now, this is just dinner. For lunches, we do things like sandwiches, or Bert will make a frozen pizza or a burrito (I know). Lately, I’ve been really liking a sort of snack-lunch approach with crackers, sharp cheddar, a huge amount of fruit, and maybe some salami, with baby carrots or sliced cucumber for a snack later on. Neither one of us is big on breakfast, so I’ll have a bowl of cereal or peanut butter toast, and Bert has…black coffee.  Wacey has a Nutri-Grain for breakfast with a midmorning granola/peanut buttery/cheese stick snack, and likes to have a peanut butter sandwich or quesadilla and a pile of fruit for lunch. He usually eats some variation of what we’re having for dinner, often with extra fruit and some yogurt.

We are not perfect eaters, but I try to make sure we’re all getting lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and good sources of protein. We also don’t eat a ton of sugar, and try to limit snack-y snacks (I see you, Cheez-its).

Happy Wednesday, I’m going to go eat.

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites: September 1

Hey hey heeeeeeyyy. This week’s Friday Favorites brought to you by the fact that it’s finally September! My heart is so happy. My favorite time of the year is here (fall/birthdays/holidays) and turning the calendars to September always brings me such a deep satisfaction. September is going to be a great month, y’all. August was hard. September always feels crisp and bright and fresh (like the paint that will hopefully be done before this lovely month is out), and I can’t wait.

So, this week’s FF has no theme–just things that I saw that I just loved for no reason or any reason at all.

Favorite Organization: Numbered bins. Bins and baskets and boxes are, apparently, one of my love languages, and they’re great for small houses with little to no storage! I’d love a set similar to these for Wacey’s room, because I think he’s going to need a little bookshelf and I love being able to toss odds and ends (aka allthetrucksandlivestock) into a bin to get everything looking fresh and neat in a hurry.
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Favorite Mantra: Is It True? My MIL sent me a pin like this a long time ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head! Simple and to the point and so good. I have been really trying to put my very very best foot forward in our new home and in this new phase of our lives, and this is a great place to begin, especially for an over-talker like me.
is it true
Favorite Ugh I Should Have Bought This! Tasha Polizzi Scout Jacket. Another thing I can’t get off my mind? This beautiful jacket I came across last fall. The cooler weather has me thinking of it again. I wish I would have saved up and bought it, because I love it and now I can’t find it anymore! Ah, well, maybe it’ll pop up on Poshmark or ThredUp or somewhere!
jacket
Favorite Fuzzy: Pendleton Blankets. Unpacking our boxes made me realize i have a throw blanket addiction, but I don’t care because they’re cozy. I’d love to have one of these for each of the boys’ rooms, and I love the idea of a handy carrier for when we travel! These are classic, and will last a lifetime.
pendleton blanketFavorite Planner: Make It Happen Powersheets. Every Fall I get to thinking about the next year’s planner. I’ve used Lilly Pulitzer, Anchored Press, and Erin Condren, and while there were things I loved about each of them, this one recently caught my eye since it’s a) from the maker of my very, very favorite devotional that I’ve talked about here several times and b) all about goal setting! 2017 has been all about change, and 2018 for me is going to be all about goals, and big, scary things, and being intentional about cultivating the kind of environment I want to be in and the kind of environment my people want to be in! It hasn’t yet been released for 2018 but you’d better bet I’m going to snatch one up. I’ve realized that in this season of life, I’m just not going to carry a planner with me and that wall calendars are more effective, so I love that this isn’t a calendar-based planner. I can’t wait can’t wait to try it!
powersheets
Favorite Tip: How to Keep Uncarved Pumpkins from Rotting. This is self-explanatory, because you know I’m going to have a pumpkin (or five) on my porch until December.
pumpkins
Favorite To-Try: Balsamic Roasted Potatoes. I have really started to love potatoes, and I’ve been on a roasted vegetables kick for awhile. These are mini hasselback-style taters with balsamic vinegar, so if you threw them into a bin and served them at Starbucks you’d have accounted for 98% of my love languages.
roasted potatoes
Favorite Most Perfect Thing: Rose Rose Cake. There is no explanation needed for this one. This is obviously the most gloriously decorated cake that has ever existed, and is major #cakegoals for me, and will be served alongside a bottle of rosé champagne whenever I check a big enough goal off my list that it merits celebration. I don’t even care that that was a run-on sentence because ugh buttercream. OMG I’m going to have a Rosé Day. Get it?!?

Also: even if you’re not into cooking, or her style of cooking, please just follow this gal’s blog. She is hilarious and her photography is gorgeous and she’s an unlikely farm wife so thus I love her.
rose rose
Favorite I Can Never Pick Which One: Address Stamp. New house, new address, new stamp. I kind of love this one. But I can’t ever pick because there’s so many gorgeous ones on Etsy! Either way, we’re going to have to get one this year because our Christmas Card Recipient List grew by about a million people and that’s an awful lot of return addresses to write.

Edited to add: the more I look at this stamp, the more I’m certain that it’s perfect for us. Will order and get back to you.
stamp
Favorite Wish List Item: Naketano hoodie. Every year for my birthday, I get to go shopping and spend the day by myself because the other part of my love languages all consist of time alone and I spend months looking forward to this day since I don’t do much shopping otherwise. This year, since we live near none of my favorite stores, I’m thinking I’m going to order the things I like, have Bert hide them, and open them on my birthday instead before heading out for a prolonged stay at the local (50-miles-away) Starbucks. It’s going to be hard to wait for this hoodie, though, because it’s basically the perfect article of clothing and I want it in my closet like, yesterday.

sweatshirt
Favorite Print: Tiny Dancer. I love this. When I saw this, I had originally thought “If I ever have a girl, I’d love to have this in her room.” But then I realized, “Hell, I’m a girl. I would like to have it in my room.” Sooooo this will probably also be part of the birthday shopping list and the aforementioned corner gallery wall. Because it’s perfect and something about it speaks to my soul, not to mention Hold me closer, Tony Danza is one of the most perfect songs ever written.

tiny dance .
Ah, perfect things. I love them. They make my heart happy. And so does unpacking. So I’m going to go do a little more of that, can’t wait to share the house progress with y’all, maybe next week!! Happy September. Also, if you’re an Essential Oils-er, diffuse you some orange and Thieves together and thank me later.

I mentioned that Buster was sick in my last post, and I’m so happy to report that while he’s not 100%, something (whether it was antibiotics, probiotics, or the rice+bananas combo he’s been eating) is helping, finally! Two nights without blowouts, and we’re down to maybe five or six poopy diapers every day, which is a huge improvement. Praise Jesus because yikes.

Family · Home · Personal

New Mehico

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We’re here! We made it. We rolled in about five o’clock last Wednesday, and the boys did great except for the last 40 miles or so. I don’t blame them, though, it was a long old drive!

Quick summary of our first week in New Mexico:
1. I hate, hate, hate, hate, double-hate, loathe entirely (name the movie) unpacking. Like, SO MUCH. Thankfully, as of today, we’re about 75% there, the remaining 25% being everything that has to wait until I get paint on the walls.
2. Speaking of paint, I went Benjamin Moore Gray Owl for the living areas and the boys’ bathroom, BM’s Revere Pewter for the bedrooms, and BM’s Whale Gray for the master bath and laundry room, plus bright white for all the trim. I am so excited to see the house with a fresh coat of paint, but ugh so not excited about painting it. Still, once I get the gray up and the curtains hung…you watch out, I may not get up from the sofa for a week.
3. It’s gorgeous. Like, so pretty. Mountains, canyons, trees, cactus–it’s so cool! Roll on over to my Insta to see some shots of the new place.
4. All of a sudden, Wacey is talking! Like, actual, intelligible words, and more than one at once. We’re so excited because although he’s not late or anything, it feels like a long time coming and it’s so nice to be able to understand what he needs or is telling us about.
5. Buster’s been sick (stomach bug? Ear infection?) and after almost a week of 10+ dirty diapers every day and multiple daily poopsplosions, I decided to take him to the doctor and we’re going to town (aka 50 miles) to get some antibiotics (okay and yes, Starbucks) tomorrow. They’re not sure what it is, but I’m down with throwing everything we can at it because he’s miserable and not sleeping, we’re miserable and not sleeping, and the jig has really gotta be up. On top of it all, Bert’s been having to get up at 4am to ship calves, and will be gone for two nights starting tonight, so that whole thing about being in the trenches? Heeeeeey. I started Buster on rice cereal and bananas tonight, though, so here’s hoping it was worth it to break the rules and give Bub fruit before veggies. He LOVED it, ps. Tomorrow we’ll start both antibiotics and probiotics, and pray to all the gastrointestinal gods that something starts working. Also, I was a major Bert’s Bees diaper rash cream girl, but I don’t love the new formula, and Desitin Rapid Relief came in STRONG for us this time, so I might be converted.
6. The crew and Bert’s boss and his family and the big boss that I met are great. And, the guys played with Wacey and held Buster and even laughed at a couple of my jokes and it felt so nice to know that even though we’re not with our old crew (I still think of it as our home crew, gotta quit that), there will still be a good crew around. Here, the “crew” only comes in for big works like shipping and branding, but I’m glad to know it’s something to look forward to and that the boys are welcome.
7. Central air is *praise hands* especially when schlepping boxes and trash in and out in the heat (and humidity? What?) of the afternoon.
8. We’ve been watching way too much TV and doing way too little being outside, so it feels good that the house is unpacked enough to where we can get back into our old routine a little bit.
9. The UPS guy probably already hates me, because I’ve been Amazon Priming the s**t out of everything because #newhouse and we’re reeeeaaallll rural, y’all. Not real, real rural, but rural enough that going to town takes an hour and sometimes ain’t nobody got time for that. I also ordered a new devotional since finishing my old one and I am so excited for it to arrive, so yay mail.
10. New Mexico dust takes no prisoners–everything we own is covered in a fine layer and it turns to mud as soon as you get it wet. Hazards of moving with a stock trailer, I guess.
11. I made the difficult decision to save GoT so I could binge-watch it and listen to the accompanying Nerdette podcasts while painting. I can’t wait. If you tell me any spoilers, I’ll Mother of Dragons you faster than you can say Samwell Tarly.
12. September’s coming, and it’s gonna be good. I can feel it. Or maybe I’m willing it extra hard with my heart. August was hard guys. Like much harder than anticipated, and I generally hate on August pretty hard. But one of my mantras for 2017 is “I can do hard things” and I can, but I’m ready for some progress instead of just survival. However, all of this seems so small compared to…
13. Hurricane Harvey–Harvey, you’re a real ass. Man, my heart is broken for these folks, the same way it’s broken for victims of any natural disaster, but gosh watching these things unfold from the relatively new place of being a mother brings a whole new dimension to the sorrow I feel. Mother Nature doesn’t play games, and it’s awful to watch the devastation from afar and feel so strongly for everyone and also feel helpless. If you’re needing a good list of organizations to donate to, this gal made a handy little roundup, and I’ve heard there are also places where you can find lists of needed items and put ole AP (Amazon Prime) to work. Enormous shout out to the cowboys and farmers keeping their animals safe, and so many prayers for everyone affected. Let’s all help out!
14. Kilt me a rattler on my first day here. NBD. I’ll save you a picture but trust me, that sucker was real dead. And yes, I took a picture.
15. New Mexico maintains its roads like a boss. So lovely and refreshing after coming from the King of the Washboards himself, ole Colorado.
16. I really, really love having a washer and dryer. And I really, really love my Sleep Number mattress (55 holllllaaaa). Git you one. And I really, really, really love being altogether.
17. I don’t like ending things on even numbers.

And now? Bed. Because it’s past 9pm.