Chateau Ormes de Pez



The Elms of Pez

A trip is planned for Bordeaux as you know… these sketches are me doing my very best to contain my exciteement. Thank you for baring with me!

June 2019. Plans are coming to together and solidifying as the next few months progress.  I’ll be flying into CDG and spending the first two nights of the 8 day trip soaking up the magic of Paris. It’s been just under two years since my last visit, I am due for another! Although Paris is incredible it is but the beginning of my voyage. I will be taking a train to Bordeaux where I rent a car (to say that I traveled by plane, train, and car). Who knows, maybe I can convince someone to lend me their boat!

I will barrel my way through Bordeaux to the commune of Saint Estephe in southwestern coast of France, which hugs the Gironde Estuary.  The Medoc region in France is known as the wine growing region (go figure-afterall we are in Bordeaux) It is also the region where Mimi Thorisson now resides and provided inspiration for her second book French Country Cooking. The French countryside indeed.


For those new here, I will be taking a much anticipated workshop with Mimi & her husband Oddur in June. Learning the ropes of her kitchen, and Oddur’s photography skills. Mimi sent a list of her housing recommendations and after reading up I made my decision. The deciding moment was when I came across an entry on Manger: “ Chateau Ormes de Pez… the place I’d love to stay if I did not live in Medoc. In fact I think I might like to stay there anyway” Mimi’s words, and advice I must not take for granted. So, it’s four nights at the Chateau Ormes de Pez, The Elms of Pez. Check out Mimi’s post for yourself!http://mimithorisson.com/2013/05/09/lintendant-his-slow-cooked-lamb-2/


Dating back to the 16th Century, the Chateau is now owned by the Cazes Family (will report back about who these people are and why their name is just so important in Bordeaux). The home was originally named “Domaine de Pez” the field or Domain of the town of Pez. During the French Revolution the name was changed to reflect the many Elm trees that garbed the 82 acre vineyard. An award winning vineyard in Bordeaux? How perfect. 50% of the grapes grown are Cabernet Sauvignon (the real reason behind my housing decision). The remaining acres are filled with 33% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. The soil consists of gravel, clay, and sand just perfect for these earthy robust wines. I’m salivating.


The beautiful building sings romance, a sweet melody that runs through the vineyards, around the horse barn and through each of the five rooms. I wrote to the L’intendant Gilles de Marcellus about my stay and he suggested a car. Enter the first car rental this chick has ever signed for. Wish me luck! Or better yet, wish the people of Bordeaux luck…

Secrets to raising kids (the goat kind)


Margaret and Rose (my nigerian dwarf goats) were purchased with two intentions. The first, and one that certainly got my parents on board was to create a micro-dairy system. Supplying our family with all our dairy needs. The second reason was to fill my summer with baby goat love! I had the opportunity to take them to college with me at the end of that summer, so it seemed like the right move for me! Becoming mom.


After much research I officially brought my girls home, separating them from their mother, and feeding system. I then gave myself the responsibility to feed each girl 4-6 times a day!

… Taking them away from their (biological) mother at two weeks old had me feeling a variety of emotions. Was it too soon? Is this healthy? Will it be too much work? Are there any other options? Not at all comparable to human surrogate motherhood, but to my then 19 year old self certainly felt just as serious.

For all those new to goat mother & fatherhood (it’s true- you feel like parents!) I created a little pro & con list to help understand the benefits and downsides to raising goat kids as bottle babies (taking them away from mother pretty early-like I did) opposed to dam raising (allowing the doe to raise them naturally). These are conclusions I drew from raising my two doelings, an experience I am so very grateful for. I can’t wait till I am able to do it all over again but this time will be with a few changes.

Dam Raised:


Pros-

-There is a fair amount of convenience when raising kids with their mother. It’s like having a child and having a night nurse. If you don’t feel like milking or there just isn’t time- no worries, we won’t hold your grades! The kid will drink up any extra milk the momma produces, happy momma =healthy milk!


Cons-

    -Colostrum is produced by all female mammals once giving birth. This first bit of milk that the mother produces is packed with antibodies. A Built in health system. Let’s hear it for Mother Nature!

Inevitably there will be less milk in production for the farmer- depending on how many goats you have this could be a bummer.

    -When the mother is the main focus for the kid, you will have to do some major bonding work to get them to trust you. Constant touching, and handling will get your kid affectionate in no time. Nigerian Dwarfs in general are a very interactive breed, constantly looking for attention so no fear! You will have a playful goat companion one way or another!

Bottle Baby:


Pros-

-As I explained before, bonding is key. When you, the human, become the feeding system by default you are bonding & desensitizing. The kids will now look to you for all their hunger pains & follow every step you make. So lots of goat time!

    – The biggest pro of all- You get to give bottles to baby goats!


Cons-

    -Sticking to a schedule- You have to stick to a feeding schedule, just like a newborn human! Those babies NEED nourishment constantly (I’m talking 4-6 times +per day in the first month).

    -Eliminating mom from the equation means you become the monitoring system. Keeping a close eye on their weight gain, bowel movements, doting on them so they are used to human touch, etc (you probably would be doing this anyway- however its maximized with bottle babies)

    -Coccidiosis (lots of diarrhea, dehydration) is the number one fear I had raising my girls. Kids are prone to get it when they aren’t processing their food correctly… and most common when feeding milk replacement ( powder milk mixed with warm water)

-Like I said.. goat Kid diarrhea is REAL. I kept a huge pack of baby wipes with me at all times before I switched them from milk replacement to actual goat milk (a friend gave me a couple gallons of frozen goat milk from her herd to thaw out & feed to my girls). They went from green diarrhea to soft pellets in a day (TMI?)

changes I will be making with my next go-around…

Bottle feeding my girls was an amazing experience, but I would change a few things for the next batch I raise:

-Raise partially on dam- this means not taking them away until at least 1 month of age, once doing so keeping the kids with their mother for a couple hours a day. This gives you the milk product you want for yourself as well as a happy healthy kid!

-Goat milk only- Instead of bothering with milk replacement I will have a source of goat milk ready (from another herd) for the girls to consume. This means I will be saving some of my own herd’s goat milk in the freezer for the next season)


There are some things that worked brilliantly. If you are able to take your goats on little adventures, do so. Try to introduce them to all the people (you won’t have an issue with getting people to swoon over your new goats!). Snuggle them all the time and you will have yourself some very affectionate ruminants. Oh.. and get two. It’s not an option, they will need a companion no matter how dedicated a mother you may be. My girls stand for their feet to be clipped, follow me everywhere on the farm, and are fine with me “milking”(getting them used to touch on their udders is important- we will be breeding them this fall!). I attribute their kind little souls to our very consistent schedule of bonding during their first 6 months.

Just Grow with it


My new mantra, Just growing with it has taken my full attention. The now go to answer when asked do I like the city? Wow, your job doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with sustainable agriculture… are you happy? Yes, Just growing with it Karen. Often, I flip back to freshman year Keeley, she had plans about everything. She would take one look at my current seat at the table and spit out her cheap wine. This is not where she intended me to be. Oh my my my am I happy about that. Turns out, just growing with it definitely has its perks.

Learning to let go of control has been quite an adventure. Coming up on my 2nd birthday in NYC… I am noticing a shift in my adulthood… let me explain. When traveling in the city, the size of your fire does not matter, you have no control. You are at the mercy of strangers. The train conductor, the uber or taxi driver, the gentleman crossing the street during your green light, a traffic jam. You know the deal, you don’t have a vote regarding what time you arrive. Historically I have been very punctual person (salute to my father). I have now leaned into losing control of my arrival times (other than my job ofcourse) instead of staying frustrated. My roommate and friend from college, Nora pointed this out to me when walking home yesterday.


Two years in this city have flown by, and I am just growing with it. A planner at heart, I am scheduling in these years as time to grow. Time to take chances, hop on opportunities, spend a lil, save a lil and grow with the path I am taking.

Friends for five strong years, Nora and I became roommates last December, right before the holidays. Ill be honest, we are very fortunate, and scored a great deal on a smashing apartment in Brooklyn. We had dreams to stay in Manhattan (she lived in Chelsea, I in Hell’s Kitchen) but the Brooklyn bells were ringing… Let me show you what I’m talking about:

My farm girl heart is oh so pleased with the luxury of a backyard. Now that things seem to be thawing out, plans are in the works for what to do with our gorgeous spot. A salsa garden for sure, all the herbs, and ofcourse flowers everywhere, but I am thinking of trying my hand at fun produce such as artichokes and figs. Leafy greens are a must, beans and peas to trellis up the fence. Taking all suggestions, leave an idea or comment below, something unique you have in your garden or are planning to implement.  After all, I am just growing with it. Cheers!


By one get one (goat)



Most students arrive home from college with tattoos or piercings. I brought home goats or rather the idea of a micro dairy operation. Studying sustainable agriculture does things. With an organic farm on my college campus, my interest in all things goat-related was consistently fueled.


Briefly during my sophomore year I spent time working at Consider Bardwell Farm. This farm is home to one of the best raw milk creameries in the northeast. Somehow I worked my way into the position of selling cheese at the Winter Farmers Market in Dorset, Vermont, it was a dream.

I went home that summer with the idea of making my own goat milk dairy, so that one day I could have fresh goat milk cheeses at my dispose. And to do it correctly, I would need to begin from the ground up. Nigerian Dwarf goats are the perfect addition for small scale dairy options. Standing no taller than 24 inches at maturity (smaller than many dogs) they take up very little space. For such a small size these goats produce about 2 pounds of milk a day. Perfect for supplying a family their dairy grocery. Enter Margaret & Rose.

Excuse the poor quality photos- they are a few years old!

Many stories go along with this pair but my favorite is our first day together (they were 12 days old). I am named after my nana’s maiden name, Margaret Rose Keeley Frayne.  My grandmother has dementia, and at this point it had gotten quite bad. I am so grateful that this disease has kept her lovely nature — she is still the sweetest human I’ve ever known.  Moving along, on this day the house was empty except for nana. My mom, dad, and sister were out running some errand or at some horse show, I had gone to a Nigerian Dwarf Goat farm for “information” about the breed (or that’s what I told my parents). I arrived home with my two little darlings before everyone’s return. My intention was to get just one doeling (female baby goat), but with a bit of  research concluded that goats needed companionship – oh darn, guess I would have to get two. At this point my parents understood my interests in micro dairy and my long-term plan, but not the sincerity of it.

I showed the new goats to my nana and her reaction was interesting, something familiar. She seemed to know that I had done something without permission; that these goats were a little unplanned. She smiled and petted my twin girls, cooing to them telling them they are pretty girls. I brought them out to the barn to get them settled and we began bonding (bottle feeding every makes you mom real quick).  



Gravel crunched and my family was home. Smiles greeted me, but I was definitely in trouble for (1) bringing home an animal without permission and (2) getting 2 instead of my anticipated 1 doeling (oops). My grandmother had warned my mom when she came in that I had brought home two goats. In fact her words were “Did you see, she’s got goats, she’s got two of them” (!!!!!!!) This was and always will be a memorable moment. You see, my grandmother mainly speaks in broken sentences now and these sentences usually consist of how beautiful we are (I told you she was sweet), or asking for food (I can absolutely relate). Nana remembering my goats and inferring that they were not part of the plan was a fleeting moment but a great one and it only seemed fitting to name my girls Margaret and Rose.


Thank you for letting me share this story, Nana and these girls mean so much. It was inevitable that Nana would make her debut on Pitchfork and Pearls

Fact: Goats are Great

Spring is here! Baby Goats, ducklings, and chicks are popping up in every corner of the farm. Though we don’t have any baby goats this year, our plans for Spring of 2020 will be filled with lovely little kids (the four legged ones!) hopping around Fieldway Farm. In the meantime I am absolutely getting my fill of kidding season while visiting my friends goat farm, and preparing our own micro dairy!


Below I drafted up a bit of a crash course in case you are adding some goats to your family this spring-  this crash course leaves out the basics like what feed to get & what supplements to give. Moreso, a couple pointers on what I forgot (or nearly forgot) when bringing home my wee ones.

Goats are fainting, goats are hopping around in pajamas, and goats are even doing yoga. These mighty little ruminants have captured our hearts.

Though she be but little, she is fierce.


They understand humans are a tool, they seek us to feel better, get food, and for comfortable living. They are smart they understand and they adjust. Which brings me to my first suggestion when getting your goats : Have. Proper. Fencing. They are mini Houdini’s in disguise, looking for and greedily taking every opportunity to escape. When you add the smallness of the nigerian dwarf goat – you are really in for a mischievous treat (in the best way!).

The wee ones tend to go where they please

Barnyard goats conjure up the image of a hairy smelly snaggletooth animal chewing on a can. While the bucks are quite smelly, and they do get into just about every grain bag you have (opened or unopened) they are much more endearing creatures than most depictions. Suggestion number two is very important, Keep all grain secure & locked away! ESPECIALLY other animal’s food. Some horse feed has too much copper and will result in belly aches & bloat for your poor goat. We had an unfortunate run in with an open feed room & Rose spent a few scary nights at the hospital two years ago.

Food is absolutely priority

Goats are herd animals, they play, and they love their family. They will absolutely need a companion. It’s best to get two. Starting out, I wanted to move slowly and add one to my farm. My thought was that this lucky goat would live happily with my 12 year old  (ancient) sheep. Baaaaa’d idea. Thankfully I brought home both sisters. So I mentioned goat’s play – they play hard. Head butting and chasing are common occurrences.

Its best to get two.. or three

Sheep, although seemingly similar are absolutely not the same as goats. It’s helpful to think of sheep as the quiet children that prefer quiet activities like reading and puzzles as opposed to their ruff housing neighbor the goat.  Goats are most happy when climbing and getting into trouble. I cant stress enough how much they need props. So something to climb on is important to keep them occupied & out of trouble. Happy (occupied) goat = happy garden


Honestly a children’s jungle gym would be useful for occupying your new friend. If you threw out your childhood tree house I would recommend bring some fun objects into their pen. Pallets, water troughs (upturned), old furniture, logs etc. etc. be creative!

So to recap:

1)Have a good fence system
2)Keep all grain secure and locked (out of reach!)
3)They should come in two
4)Goats are active; get them toys to play on!

I hope this helps you dive into your goat experience a little bit more prepared. These little darlings at the very least will keep you entertained.

If you are at all interested, every one of these kids are for sale, feel free to reach out for details (5 doelings and 6 bucks which will be weathered before they leave)

Late to the Party- (Irish)Soda Bread


This post is a wee bit late to the party. Having just celebrated our lovely green holiday I took a stab at creating the old loaf that usually accompanies the meal— he Authentic Irish Soda Bread. Historically the low cost loaf adorned the poor families and peasant’s table. With minimal ingredients, the loaf is extremely easy (and cheap!) to make, I’ve added currents and other dried fruits to the dough per popular demand in my home (though traditionally they are left out). Ingredients include baking soda, buttermilk, all purpose flour, and salt.


We didnt have buttermilk, so all readers without, no fear substitute is near!

Buttermilk traditionally would be lounging in the refrigerator, a bi-product from making the week’s butter. The perfect recipe to use up said buttermilk is a good loaf of soda bread.

What? You don’t have a couple cups of slightly soured milk lying around? There is a fast track trick that will give you everything you need from buttermilk. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of whole milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes. The milk begins to slightly curdle and separate, you now have a substitute at your disposal.

I guiltily added the raisins to the dough, I couldn’t help it, I love them! And my family voted for the dried fruit. I will absolutely be replicating the recipe when currents are back in season and I don’t have to resort to their dried little raisin cousins.


Soda bread obviously is not made just for St. Patrick’s Weekend, usually this hearty bread is made to endure a few days of sitting on the counter, or a sit down meal or two. I am hoping to inspire others to set their next feast with the very easy homemade bread! I grabbed the basis of this recipe from Imen McDonell’s cookbook Farmette. Check out other traditional Irish cooking recipes on her blog: http://farmette.ie or pick up the gorgeous cookbook yourself!

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cup of whole milk
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
3 ½ cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp of salt

Directions:

  1. Set the oven to 450*
  2. Pour milk in seperate bowl and mix in the tablespoon of lemon juice gently, let sit for 5-10 minutes (until you start to see some separation)
  3. Sift flour, baking soda and salt together
  4. Create well in middle of dry mixture and add buttermilk (flour your hands!) Begin to combine wet and dry ingredients by hand
  5. Flip mixture onto floured surface and knead the dough
  6. Knead and form dough into one inch disk
  7. Slice an X on the top of dough, to continue tradition, allow dough to breath and ward off bad omens
  8. Butter clay baking stone or pizza stone (baking sheet will also work)
  9. Put in oven for 15 @ 450*
  10. Reduce oven heat to 400* and continue to bake for 25-30

Enjoy!

Snowed in Scones ft. Maple Syrup & Bourbon


This weekend I had every intention to make a batch of fresh farmhouse butter. Raw milk from my favorite farm had been sitting in the fridge for the greater half of the week. Alone with the condiments it started settling and separating into heavy cream and skimmed milk.

But snow-filled Vermont seduced me. I hope you are careful, she could seduce you too. Whispering in your ear, stay inside, wear the comfy clothes, melt into the couch, swaddled in plush blankets. Consume all the comfort food. The only issue (not an issue) was… no comfort food was readily available. Waking up to snow falling in every direction was the perfect excuse to stay put. My stomach started rumbling so I made a batch of “Snowed in Scones, ft. Maple Syrup & Bourbon”

No eggs? No problem, we didn’t have them either

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups Heavy Cream
¾ cup of sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s)
1 tbsp of baking powder
8 tsp butter (1 stick)
2 tsp of salt

For the maple-bourbon glaze:

2 tbsp Maple Syrup
2 tbsp (or to taste) bourbon – I used Knob Creek’s maple bourbon
¾ cup of confectionary sugar
2 tbsp Heavy Cream
2 tsp butter (melted)

The best glaze! Boozy & sweet



Directions:

-Take 1 cup of heavy cream, place in the freezer for 10 minutes

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

-Whisk together: flour, salt, brown sugar, white sugar (whatever you choose), baking powder

-Melt the stick of butter

-Mix the butter and chilled heavy cream with a rubber spatula (not with whisk)

Use spatula instead of whisk to combine dry & wet ingredients

-Mix wet mix with dry mix until the dough is somewhat solid & pulling from the sides of the bowl (its okay if its still not one solid dough-still using rubber spatula)

-Flour you work surface

-Empty mixed dough onto flour surface

-Begin to pack the dough together gently, creating a disk that is about 1 inch thick


-Divide the dough into 8 triangles


-Place each scone to be on a well buttered pan

-Brush each scone with heavy cream

No brush? Just dollop of heavy cream and smooth with spoon

-Bake for 15- 20 minutes

-While waiting for that to cook, clean up your mess and make the glaze!

– Mix with fork:

2 tbsp heavy cream, confectionary sugar, 2 tsp of melted butter, maple syrup, bourbon to taste

(Adding more confectionary sugar if too liquidy and more liquid if too thick)

-Begin checking the scones at 15 minutes, every oven is different

– Take the scones out once getting golden on the edges

-Allow to cool for 10-15 before icing ( I put the glaze in a zip lock baggy and snip off the tip to create an impromptu icing baggy.

-Grab your oven mit, phone, and scones… run to the best lighting in the room to take photos before your hungry boyfriend steals them all, enjoy!  

Cook Space Brooklyn

Tucked away on the second floor of an old building in Prospect heights is a former widget workhouse. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Moving to New York City has led me on a wild goose chase in search of a community or space to meet like-minded individuals who love food, support local business, and are growing themselves. Whether that be their own blog, new career path, or just new cooking skills.

Michelle Mannix was on Cherry Bomb radio a couple weeks ago. Episode 195 “It Ain’t Easy Being a Small Business Owner” grabbed every bit of my attention as I was marching to work about two thursdays ago. https://radiocherrybombe.simplecast.fm/03ed888c During the episode Michelle opened up about her first two businesses, her culinary expieriences, and why she opened up a culinary studio. She’s tackling something completely different, but oddly similar with this venture. Cook Space Brooklyn is an experience https://www.cookspacebrooklyn.com

Somehow Cook Space captures the happiness of walking into your regular cafe to grab the necessary scones & coffee. It’s familiar and cozy while at the same time exuding elegance to impress any and all guests you wish to entertain. This was the right space, and instantly I started growing. You know, that feeling when you are so incredibly sure of each step you make. And somehow a glow is radiating around you, you’re smiling, and it’s because you’re in a happy place. Its temporary, of course. You all too soon are transported back to the cold streets of Brooklyn running after your Uber that stopped a few blocks too far away.

An aspiring small business owner myself, I wanted to absorb every word Michelle spoke. I am/ was that person frantically writing notes & quotes of this special woman’s insights. She knows this city, she definitely knows food, and most importantly she knows people. Michelle understands closing doors and opening new ones, and trusting the process of growth. Just what my Monday night needed. Tuesday I launched Pitchfork and Pearls. thank you Michelle.


Completely renovated and redesigned Michelle and her team have breathed life back into the room. Upon walking in you are treated to a wall of cooking utensils, copper pans and Dutch ovens adorning the original widget board, the only object remaining from the former workshop. Cookbooks organized by color fill the bookshelves.


As you move deeper into the room, there is a cabinet without doors keeping all the flours, spices, grains, open to view. Each ingredient just waiting to be plucked for the recipe that lies ahead of you.


The studio is spotless, stainless steel with the coziest of accents that separate this working kitchen from a conventional space.


What used to be the building’s elevator shaft is now the ‘dining room’ where students sit down to enjoy their culinary creations. It’s beautiful, cozy, and absolutely what I have been looking for.


Space to cook is coveted real estate especially in this city. Finding an outlet for kitchen creativity is equally desired. No strings attached, Cookspace has a mission to get people more comfortable in the kitchen. Unpretentious and completely dedicated to creating a comfortable environment for learning and growing cooking skills. Termed culinary studio on purpose, Michelle wanted to inspire people to make cooking a practice, just like yoga or working out. I advise you make one of these workshops apart of any and all NYC visit itineraries.

I grabbed a ticket to Michelle’s Seize your Day planning workshops for last Monday, March 4th. She mentioned something about this workbook during the podcast and I figured it would be a great excuse to try the place out.The class came with her new 12 week planner (you can buy on Cookspace Brooklyn website). Though I won’t share too much just yet, I am feeling myself apply deeper intention to the day, getting more out of each coveted 24 hours. Will report back at the 6 week mark.

Voyage to Medoc, Voyage to Mimi!

My rendition of Mimi’s Chateau…anticipating this trip (queue the 8 year old on Christmas morning squeal)

Mimi Thorrisson Manger Workshop- How I am making this work

Taking the voyage to Medoc, France is a dream. An expensive dream. Pitchfork and Pearls started with my own version of a vision board. Not necessarily cutting and pasting images from magazines (haven’t gotten there yet) but writing down goals that would propel me forward in this journey. Mimi was not on the top of the list. And I say this to bring reality to the conversation, I chose simple little goals that would be attainable in a few week, maybe a couple months, non threatening and totally in my comfort zone. I had just bought the new IPad Pro- which to me was a BIG splurge- and was feeling drained financially. As the list of goals got longer the visions got bigger, because 1) why not- no harm in day dreaming 2) its was FUN! Stretching my mind to open to the endless possibilities was invigorating. Physically writing them down was propelling them forward. That list is important and I will absolutely share with you. See how the goals JUMPED.

Apologies for my handwriting

Hmph, I should briefly introduce Mimi Thorrisson before I go on. Mimi, her husband Oddur, 8 children, 14 Fox Terriers, and one Italian Pointer Monte Critso reside in Medoc, France. The Bordeux region, you may have heard of it once?or twice, probably in a wine store. Author & food blogger Mimi shares her excuisite life in France. Inspiring and dropping jaws in seasonal cooking, her travels, her entertaining techniques, and her incredible workshops. Find her on Manger, her food blog, or pick up her book A French County Kitchen. Miss Mimi also has quite the tantalizing instagram account…and if that is not enough many many posts reside on Pinterest gifting you windows of the fascinating life she leads. Ahh yes back to goals.

After writing Mimi’s name down on my vision list I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Visiting France in the summer like so many other lucky glamorous folks, taking so much more from this event, more than a simple vacation. I daydreamed about using this material to create connections, grow strangers into friendships, and picking up more and more inspiration along the way. Addicted. So I emailed Mimi thinking 2020 would be the year of Medoc & Me, & her 14 terriers, maybe I would even go home with a pup.. (heh okay keep your goals in check miss) Email sent, 7 hours later I get a reply from Mimi herself. Yes most of the workshops were full, there was a seat open in a new workshop that might be right up my alley (I told her my goals & my very unique (ha) interest in farm to table food because 1) why not give her the low-down, she knows her workshops best 2) She may not even respond, the least this email can do is get my goals in writing again).

Whoops- guess 2020 goals might just have to happen sooner than expected. Putting these bad boys in writing… was dangerous. So I replied with, let me make sure this can work financially and I will get back to you very soon. I knew if this was going to happen it needed to be smart decision. No room for buyers remorse.

Can I afford it? It would be tight. Is this bettering me & my business, my future livelihood. I 100% believed that it would and so the answer was Hi Mimi- I’m in. Because plans began in January I had time to pay in increments. ½ of the workshop fee now to reserve my spot. Flights & lodging would have to be done in a couple paychecks. And I was going to make it work.

As February comes to a close I am feeling tempted to splurge on warm weather dresses and Brigitte Bardot outfits for the Bordeaux region. I am reminding myself that those aren’t in my goals, my vision list. I will look the part just perfectly when wearing the clothes I have now. I mention this because a shopaholic at heart this might urge a reader to keep their goals in check, writing down ideas and visions that propel you forward, clothing is definitely not optional in this world, but it certainly will not take you to the places you want/ need to go (not for me anyway). Style will develop, transform and leave you like a one night stand. I am toning it down to only investing in staple items when need be. Grow the vision but be sure to not focus on what one is wearing (my personal weakness ladies & gents!)

So this is just the beginning to my next chapter & I am oh so grateful for it. I feel beautiful trips like these need to be broken down into real terms. I do not have deep funds to pull from & make these trips happen. Instead it is a very real budgeting system. Stripping down my ego, spending less. Cleaning out my brain of the luxuries crowding our vision daily (belive me- nyc can be crippling at times) and getting down to the basics. Simple meals can be just as exquisite, just stretching a dollar. Breakfast, stewed apples and plain yogurt, (ah my favorite!) what’s for lunch? Sweet potato brought from home. Keeping the grocery bills lower, the material goods at 0 spending and growing my brain. If this is on your radar, you’re going to make it happen! But there will be sacrifices. Sacrifices that grow you.

I brought this up to my mom when I guiltily explained my next adventure (guilty because I wish she could come with me! She absolutely is my best friend!) and she reminded me of growing up in Vermont, though beautiful it is an expensive place to live. Mum and her friends would do “no spend months” where groceries, gas, and of course monthly payments are the only items you are spending money on. No special dinners out for no reason, no splurges at the mall, and certainly no online shopping. Home, work, grocery store, home, it may seem drab at first but you soon will fine ways to brighten your simple world up. She said she was always so impressed with how much savings there were that she would challenge herself to an extra month of savings. So that’s what I’m doing!

Thanks mom, you truly are always right.

Apple of my Ireland,

learning from the best.

50 hours in pure heaven. For the weekend I got the beautiful luxury of going to Brosna, humbly located in County Kerry, Ireland..  I’m sure you know the place… the place where that butter wrapped in a golden ticket comes from, YES its still allll from Ireland… that’s Kerrygold Over the spread of the trip my great friend introduced me to her clan of close-knit family & friends. The opening liner always began “this is Keeley, she’s got family in Mayo. Yes, Yes, she grew up on a farm too. She knows how to work”

At first, people didn’t pick up that I am indeed American (the fair skin which lends to be slightly red, blue eyes & a dark full head of hair gave it away, plus… Kerry felt exceptionally comfy) The people are incredible. Making me feel like kin that spent my young years bopping from bog to bog finding faeries. UGH take me back.

Enough with the romantic floral reflections! I said before that the people were fantastic, I’m sure you can infer that tons of drink had been consumed in the form of Guinness, cider, baileys, etc etc… Conversation got going and my curiosity in farming Ireland got the best of me. The last time I visited, in Mayo, all I remember was rolling field upon rolling field of sheep grazing. Due to the Kerrygold Co-op county Kerry traditionally is dairy cows. During the months of winter the cows stay in the barns munching on silage, fermented hay. Snow is common in Ireland however not in the same way we get it in the northeast. We are in the trenches of winter and yet there is green everywhere and vibrant green to boot. I asked a bounty of dairy farmers, why they don’t continue grazing their cows during winter, there seems to be plenty of grass to go around. The long blades look lush and full of nutrients. They all replied simply, the cows stay in the barns to preserve the grasses as well as their energy to stay warm & cozy. Farmers would rather have the longevity of the fields and keep building rich, healthy soil than put the cows on pasture 365.

How does this correlate to the US Dairy industry? Conventional ag keeps their bovines inside not to preserve the land, but to grow grains/ corn to fatten their masses, a presumably more cost effective way to make ends meet? But this harms the land and does not provide the correct sustenance for the animal. So what to do? It turns out that the dairy industry in the US isn’t as regulated as you thought, “Grassfed” can mean something wildly different. The Food and Drug Administration oversees the labeling of all things food, including dairy products. Surprise surprise, currently there is not much of a standard for labeling. A “Grassfed” animal can actually be fed grain and supplemented with some grass/ hay.

Back to.. what to do? buying Kerrygold is an answer, but what about local. Obviously supporting your local farmers & hitting up the farmers market is my #1 answer, but here are a few things to look for to ensure you are getting the best of the best dairy products when strollin down the isles at your local grocery store!

these are those labels & these are their stories:

American Grass-fed

Diet — Animals are fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest.
Confinement — Animals are raised on pasture without confinement to feedlots.
Antibiotics and hormones — Animals are never treated with antibiotics or growth hormones.
Origin — All animals are born and raised on American family farms.

PCO Certified 100% Grassfed –

This certification is in addition to USDA certified organic standards. An extra special standards that pertain to ruminants, giving them the space they need to roam, ensuring that they are grass-fed and have space to root and roam as they please. Read more here:https://www.paorganic.org/grassfed

Certified Grassfed by AGW

AGW is in an additional certification to the Animal Welfare Approved cert. This one is super special because it safely ensures 100% that the animals were fed nothing other than Grassfed, raised on PASTURE, nottt a feedlot! Read more here:https://agreenerworld.org/certifications/certified-grass-fed/