Fresh Fare From the Farm

I think I may have a problem with alliteration. . . using it in excess, that is 😉

These past two weeks, I have been bringing home a stunning amount of beautiful, nutritious, fresh-from-the-field food from my internship at Greenbrier Farms. They make sure that everyone working gets to partake in the bounty of the harvest, and it’s contributed to nearly all of my meals being at least 50% local (some of them 100%)! I love eating food that I know I had a hand in harvesting, washing, and packaging earlier that week or even that morning!

These were some of my goodies last week:

That loaf of bread? GARLIC ROSEMARY! DIVINE.

This week, Roddy, one of the owners, told me to just go out in the garden before you leave and pick some of what you want . . . you know what’s out there and ready, you’re in it everyday. Isn’t food the whole point?

Why thank you sir, I believe I will! And, I believe it is!

Farm fresh eggs and crunchy yet smooth and buttery lettuce? Yes please!

This lettuce reminds me of a buttercrunch, but better! It is called kwik, I think. I used it in southwestern style lettuce wraps, and the eggs in mini, personalized frittatas. YUM!

What are some of your favorite recipes with foods in season now? 

This post is shared on: Living Green Linkup at Like  A Mustard Seed.

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A Week of Gratitude

(source)

As I’ve mentioned before, the Pit Stops on this blog are loosely modeled after The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin’s year long adventure to seek happiness. Each month, she focused on a different aspect of her life she wanted to improve, one of which was her gratitude for others. To work on this, she wrote about what she was thankful for in a gratitude journal every evening. The other inspiration for this week’s project is John Kralik, a man who decided to write a thank you note every day for a year. I haven’t read his book, 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life, yet, but hope to this summer.

There are so many people that I am thankful for: my family, past teachers, dear friends. My family knows I am thankful for them, but they would benefit from a letter telling them so. Many of my teachers changed my life, and they deserve to know that and be thanked for it.

I love handwritten, posted letters. They take effort . . . which is what makes them special to me. I remember hating to write thank you notes as a child, putting it off until the last minute when my mother finally dragged them out of me. Often, they were short and insincere. As I got older and began to receive letters, I realized how important even small notes of gratitude are. They can truly change a day, and therefore change a person.

Edit: After I published this, the WordPress quote that came up on my screen was: 

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” Phyllis Theroux. How appropriate! 

This week, even with finals coming to a close, I plan on writing seven letters (or more) thanking different people for the positive effect they’ve had on my life. As of right now, I’m thinking of three different English teachers, a church history teacher, the family I nannied for in high school, and maybe some family or friends. It might be difficult to find addresses for some of my past teachers, but I’m going to try.

Do you have a habit of writing thank you notes? 

What is the favorite thank you note you’ve ever received? 

Financial Plan, Part 1

Sorry for the long lapse between posts, readers. I am a weary traveler this week.

I have, however, been evaluating my financial fitness [so to speak] to try and figure out how to obtain better money-handling skills. First things first: to see how much I have in the bank, and where I’m spending it. I hate to confess, but I haven’t looked at my accounts . . . in awhile.

Since January 1st, my biggest expense has been travel. Plane tickets are pricey!

After travel, my next biggest expense seems to be “merchandise.” This seems to include miscellaneous expenses, such as food and cosmetic purchases from Wal Mart, as well as online expenditures [gifts from Etsy :)], and I think different expenses I’m going to put in a category of ‘charity.’ Food, all totaled, probably accounts for about a fifth of my purchases. This isn’t necessary, since I’m on an unlimited meal plan.

The above graph is only my personal credit card spending. I made my own graph in excel that includes my debit card, and is broken down more in depth for the past 3 months:

Don’t worry–the HUGE blue one isn’t coffee (though it might as well be!), it’s “miscellaneous.” Travel is again the biggest chunk of my money, followed by ‘miscellaneous’ (which includes cash drawn out), then, surprisingly, charity. I sponsor a young woman named Archana through Compassion international, which is a sizable expense every month.

Since I’ve had my student credit card, my largest expense has been something I’m a bit embarrassed to share about. It was a one, lump sum purchase that accounts for the most money I’ve spent. Ever. I thought long and hard about it, and decided to do it. . . but I’m still a bit nervous to share, since it seems like such a silly thing. Let’s just say it rhymes with ‘maser lair shemoval.’

Yep, it’s the big one in orange, back from December.

I have to say, however, that doing this analysis of my spending makes me feel much more in control than I have before. Now that I know where my money is going, and how much I’m spending, I feel equipped to make a budget and stick to it.

My goals for the rest of this week and the next?

Make a budget

Research different mutual funds and stock options and invest! 

Two small lines of text, two big undertakings! I’ll keep you all clued in. This ‘Pit Stop’ is going to be a two week endeavor.

Now, let me know:

What is your biggest expense/splurge?
Do you use any online tools to track your money?
Have you ever invested? How did you decide where to invest?