Food at Home. Featured Writer Judith Kester.

Since Thanksgiving is approaching I have been thinking about food and it’s place at the dinner table, both in our house and in the homes of friends around the world. I am so inspired each day to read the writing of friends that talk about food and the role it plays in their home. Why they make the food choices they do. How they approach food. How they teach their children about food.

I decided to embark on a writing series that features the work of some of the most introspective writers I know. The women who are actively raising families, working, cooking and on the front lines of food education for the next generation. There is something so innately simplistic and perfect about dinner around the table with children. I wanted to hear from the women who shop, prepare and celebrate food in their homes each day. (more…)

Responsible Pet Ownership. The First 5 Steps of Getting a Dog.

Rottweiler at Dog Show in Dixon, CAThinking of getting a new dog? Our household just brought home a new puppy, a 10-week old Portuguese Water Dog named Cupcake. We already have a 10-year old Yorkshire Terrier so this isn’t our first time going out to find a dog that fits in our home. It is the first time we have done it together as a married couple and with children to think about so it was a whole new adventure. More on our puppy in a later post. For now we want to share the five steps to starting to look for a new dog.

The AKC has a list of steps to take before getting a new dog. We are going to outline the first 5 today and talk about how we went about each step. Above all else we recommend attending a dog show as soon as you start thinking about bringing in a new pet. Dog shows are the perfect venue to get ideas about what breeds might fit your home best and there is a perfect networking opportunity to speak to breeders. Breeders can give valuable insight about the breed of dog you are considering and you can start to narrow down which breeder is the best fit for you. Asking lots of questions is important. (more…)

Fog Willow Farms. (Wilton, CA)

Fog Willow Farms

Last year we were exploring new farms around Elk Grove, CA and found Fog Willow Farms hidden along a country route. The farm is located just outside Sacramento and takes only about 20 minutes from downtown Sacramento and Folsom to get to. It’s in a gorgeous rural community off the lazy Consumnes River that seems hidden away from the hustle of the city. (more…)

Guest Post. Hither & Thither. 10 Farms to Get Closer to Agriculture.

Apple Hill Farm

Today I am featured over on Hither & Thither a blog written by a local mom, Ashley Muir Bruhn. Ashley asked me to write a local guide for her so I wrote a guide titled, Ten Farms to Get Closer to Agriculture in Apple Hill (Camino, CA).

I started reading Ashley’s writing this summer after she found me on my Instagram and I have had fun reading her lifestyle and travel blog since then. She features many of the same restaurants and getaways that are our favorites too.

Head over to her blog to access my guide. Apple season is wrapping up here in Northern California so it’s the perfect time to plan a trip. I always tell friends to try to visit Apple Hill midweek since weekend crowds make traffic and parking extremely difficult and the farms become so overrun with tourists that the experience is not ideal. (more…)

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe (Carmel, CA)

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeMost of our fruits and vegetables are grown locally. We try to only use organic and local in our home cooking as much as possible. We do buy some of our produce at Costco or the grocery store and when we do we try to buy California grown organic products. One of our favorite brands is Earthbound Farms. We buy their salad mix and carrots when we can’t get to farmer’s market or the farmstand that week. I like that the brand is semi-local (less than 200 miles away) and is creating more organic farmland in our state every year. Earthbound Farms has over 50,000 acres of organic agriculture in their network of growers. On a small piece of that land sits the adorable Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe in Carmel, CA. This place is exactly what Carmel means to me, earthy bohemian and artistic California chic.

We travel to the Monterey and Carmel area often because my younger sister lives there and both my brother and sister went to boarding school there. For years we have been staying out our favorite hotel, The Hyatt Regency Monterey, and exploring all that the area has to offer. Because we travel so often we often stock our room with our own food and try to eat as clean as we can while we are there.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

A friend that also travels to the area often mentioned we should try the Earthbound Farm for lunch one day on a recent trip. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t been there before or even heard of it! I tried looking on Google and found it was difficult to even find the address and then found the Yelp page and we were on our way.

When we pulled into the parking lot I was instantly obsessed with this perfect local stop. Earthbound Farms started with a 2.5 acre organic raspberry farm just down the road from the current farmstand in 1984. The farmstand was opened 8 years later and then expanded to the farmstand and cafe in 2003. Earthbound Farms has brilliantly put a quaint authentic face on their large agriculture brand and allows locals to engage directly with the people who provide food to thousands of consumers around the country. By allowing people to see how the brand started and sample what they produce now families are able to interact directly with a company they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to know.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Cafe

The cafe was our first stop after finding our way into the farmstand building and we were hungry and ready for lunch. Led by Executive Chef, Sarah La Casse, the cafe offers organic menu choices that showcase Earthbound Farms produce and allows guests to understand her passion for fresh and flavorful food that utilize the palette of the fields right outside her kitchen. The cafe also serves as a creative venue for recipe tasting and sampling new food combinations. The menu board shows what is available and it is kept simple and straightforward. Every day there is a meat and vegetarian grilled panini for $8.95 that changes throughout the day, a market salad for $8.95 and choice of 2 soups, cup for $3.95 and bowl for $5.95. A salad bar offers all the Earthbound Farm specialties and big wood bowls for those that want to make their own at $8.99/lb. There is also a kids’ menu that includes organic grilled cheese on house made bread for $4.95 or peanut butter and jelly for $3.95. Organic and fair-trade coffee along with frozen yogurt completes the simple approach to dining menus.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

There are shaded tables just outside the farmstand main entrance and a larger group-dining area with picnic tables in a cooler open barn area. Sitting outside on the patio we were so entertained by the fields and gardens surrounding us we all relaxed and chatted for much longer than vacation lunches ususually last with a 3 and 5 year old. I ordered the kale and white bean soup with house-made French baguette slices, Ben got a sliced Italian meat panini and the tots each got grilled cheese sandwiches. We finished lunch off with organic chocolate frozen yogurt and made our way through the gardens that had been tempting us throughout our lunch. Everything we tried was perfectly prepared and didn’t leave us with that post-vacation regret.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Gardens

Walking through organic gardens after a nice meal might be my favorite afternoon activity with children. The Gardens include a kid’s garden, herb garden, berry patch, flower garden and more. Each are of the garden areas are accessed through gorgeous arbors and paths that make the whole experience more adventure than teaching. We were the only people in the gardens during our visit and our children could just run and explore without fear of bothering anyone or getting lost. We tasted raspberries right of the vine, admired flowers and learned about organic farming methods all while being immersed in a storybook like environment that each of us could appreciate.

The Gardens also play host to private and public events throughout the year. Posted events include educational days, craft days and more.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Market

We returned to the market after our garden tour to stock up on local fruit to have in our hotel room during our stay. Prices might be higher than other local farmstands only considering the location of the place in one of the highest rent areas of the state along with the ease of purchasing so much in one stop makes the prices realistic for a travel budget. Not to mention more affordable than dining in local restaurants. The market stays full year round of Earthbound Farms produce that is all organic and locally-produced. There is a refrigerated section that includes take-away deli selections perfect for easy hotel lunches and dinners. Bakery choices are available too along with gourmet specialty grocery selections and Earth-friendly gifts. Definitely where I am going to be buying souveniers from now on. A flower stand outside offers specatular organic flowers featuring what’s local and in season. We made off with overflowing baskets of strawberries, blueberries and fat juicy peaches we demolished in the car before we even hit the main road. Having fruit and vegetables as snack options in our hotel room when we travel is one of my travel secrets and this place makes it easy and fun to do just that.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

Earthbound Farms Farmstand and Cafe is open 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily and is located at 7250 Carmel Valley Road Carmel, CA. The Farmstand and Cafe Facebook page is the best resource to view upcoming events and valuable information. A dirt parking lot and restrooms with running water are available to guests.

This is not a sponsored post and is a real review of a place we like.

Farm Lessons. What is Dry Farming.

Dry Farmed Apples from 24 Carrot Farm

What is Dry Farming

I have been hearing more about dry-farming lately. It’s not the first I have heard of the practice. Back when I worked in the wine industry I worked for some of the most famous ultra-premium wineries in Napa and Sonoma and many of our vineyards were dry-farmed. At that time wineries with dry-farmed grapes were getting rewarded with top reviews and bringing in the highest dollar value with wine conoisseurs. Now, with the California drought continuing it seems like more farmers and consumers are becoming aware of the practice and supporting it. Interestingly enough, California utilized dry-farming during the 1800’s and even through part of the 20th century until modern agricultural practices shifted to less use of the practice. (more…)

Farm Tots Home Design. Kitchen Remodel.

When I chatted with a friend this summer about our ideas for updating our home over a glass of wine she looked at me with a wild look in her eyes and told me if I was considering a kitchen remodel I should pretty much forget it. Or start investing in barrels of alcohol. Or flee the country. I nervously laughed it off having one remodel under our belts, I thought she was exagerating or just trying to be funny.

We waited a year and lived with the kitchen the way we bought it. We told ourselves we needed to wait and figure out exactly what we wanted before we started any updating. So here we are. A year later. Regrouping and starting a full kitchen remodel. I am the general contractor, tiling hired gun and designer. We are brining in two sub contractors to demo and put in new cabinets and install new countertops. Everything else is on us. (more…)

Shopping. Farm Tots Favorite Rain Boots.

Toddler Red Hunter Rain Boots

Farm visits can be dirty business. Especially after some much needed California rain. This weekend we visited some local apple farms right after the first thunder and rain of the fall and we were a mucky muddy bunch. I usually make sure our tots go out in rain boots whenever we visit farms or go outside this time of year. Here are the Farm Tot favorite rain boots.

Red Hunter and Strawberry Target Rain BootsAmazon $49

Strawberry Red Boots // Target $19.99

Boys Camo RainbowsAmazon $80

Camo Rainboots // Walmart $6

Farm Tots Women's Rainboot with DetailAmazon $143.32

Premiere Tall Rainbows // Target $34.99

Men's Bootie RainbootsAmazon 29.99Amazon $50