Hidden Valley Orchards

The sunshine was working it today! It has been a whole week of clouds, thunderstorms, and dreary days, but we finally woke up to total sunshine this morning. I immediately decided that CJ and I needed to get out of the house for an adventure that didn’t involve a grocery store.

So we headed out to Hidden Valley Orchards, which has been one of our favorite places to visit since we moved to Ohio. HVO has changed a lot since the beginning, but it’s still an amazing family adventure.

During the summer, they host holiday events, Fruit festivals, petting zoos for kids, and u-pick events. Everything from grapes to apples! They also sell small home decor, fresh fruits & vegetables, baked goods, and canned items. They also just opened a bar and huge patio area this year!

So today CJ and I headed out to pick some blueberries! We got a pint sized buckets for five bucks and ventured out to the fields in search of something yummy.

I love to do stuff like this with her. We went strawberry picking last year at HVO and apple picking in the Fall at another orchard in Yellow Springs. Much like last year and my tomatoes though, she picks the ripe berries AND the tiny little green ones too.

After we filled up our pint-sized bowl of blueberries, we headed inside for lunch. Hidden Valley Orchards has a huge and delicious menu! Burgers, sandwiches, salads, flatbreads, and so many delicious baked goods.

I got CJ a burger with a side of fresh fruit and I got a bacon grilled cheese with green beans. We also got a buckeye brownie, which is less of a brownie and more of a small sized cake.

It was a gorgeous day and totally something we needed after such a gloomy week. We’ve been having a hard time getting back into a routine since we got back too, so even though it’s quite opposite of routine, the spontaneity of today was just what we needed.

And now we’ve got some delicious and as fresh as they get blueberries for the weekend. I’m thinking blueberry pancakes? Muffins? Cake? Or all of the above!

HVO is located at 5474 OH-48 in Lebanon, Ohio 45036

Click here for their Facebook for more info

Plant Mom

It is finally time to start growing!

I missed out the the initial seeding season because I actually spent the whole month of May in Florida visiting family (most posts on that coming soon). Now that I’m back though, I haven’t wasted any time.

Instead of starting with seeds though, I decided to support a local farm called Friendly Knoll Farm that sets up shop at the Wednesday Fairborn Farmer’s Market. I’ve been buying from them for two summers and I am never disappointed. Aside from seedlings, they also sell plantable flowers and in true farmers market fashion, they also have an assortment of veggies for purchase- Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, etc.

The two guys who run the booth at the Fairborn Market are always super friendly and full of useful information on the products you are buying. They are always willing to chat about plants, which is why I think I trust them the most. Their tips are always helpful.

Back to the blog post!

So the first Wednesday that I came back to town, I dropped by the market and picked up an assortment of tomatoes, peppers, and for the first time I’m going to try growing my own cucumbers!

I made sure to pick up a wide variety of tomatoes – Black Cherry, Chocolate Cherry, San Marzano, Yellow Brandywine, Marglobe, and Golden Jubilee. I’m excited to see what all grows.

The cucumbers are a new adventure for me. I also have sweet peppers – ivory & jupiter. Oh, and my raspberries are growing from last year! It’s bound to be a busy season.

Stay tuned for updates!

Toddler VS Tidy House

I’m just gonna say it…. toddlers are gross. You guys know that I adore my daughter and her curiosity for the world, but toddlers are gross and she is no exception.

I’ve always kept a tidy house. Becoming a mom didn’t change that for me. I like things picked up and in their place. It’s just how I function. I actually tend to get a bit of anxiety when things aren’t clean, so tidy just works for our family.

It is not for everyone and that’s okay.

Today I pulled the couch out after I tossed the cushion covers in the washer and I found a collection of toys beneath it – plus some dried shredded cheese and a couple of stale Cheerios. Oh and crumbs. Crumbs everywhere.

Should I be embarrassed to tell you that? Because I’m not. A toddler-sized traveling snack eater lives here and it’s probably not allllll her. I also like to eat popcorn on the couch while I catch up on my shows. And honestly, if the less than desirable couch treasures are the messiest things in my house than I feel like I’m doing a decent job.

I do want to briefly touch on the stigma of tidy vs less than tidy. I saw some comments on an article I read recently and the article talked about tidiness. The comments ranged from wholeheartedly agreeing to subtlety judging the author’s lifestyle. I just want to say that if your kids are happy, tidy or not, then you are doing a good job. There is no need to compare your home to anyone else’s. You don’t live there and you shouldn’t make anyone feel bad for their choices.

Back to tidying up, guys. I want to leave you with a quote and a couple of quick tidying up tips that can fit any parent’s lifestyle. I read this quote about a year ago and it still really shapes the way I do things on a daily basis.

“You have time for what you make time for.”

And with that, here are a couple of my favorite 5 minutes or less daily tidy-tips!

1. Fold the laundry. You’ve done the washing. You’ve done the drying. Now do the folding!

2. Put away the toys before bed. This one really only takes 2 minutes, if that. Each night before I whisk CJ off to bed, we put her books on the shelf. We toss the puzzle pieces on top of the puzzle boards. We line up her impressive collection of cars and everything else gets tossed into the toy box.

3. Make your bed! It might seem silly to make your bed when you are just going to climb into it later, but it’s worth it. Wouldn’t you rather easily climb into those pre-made sheets when you are tired rather than having to zombie your way through straightening out the pillows, sheets, and blankets in the moment that you really just want to lay down?

4. Toss the junk mail. You don’t really need those food coupons that you probably won’t use before they expire anyway. Plus, in the world of technology, you can mostly likely get a better coupon directly on the website. Old bills that you’ve already paid? File or toss. Ads you think you’ll need? Take a picture and make a special file on your phone! Junk mail is called junk for a reason. Don’t let it clutter your coffee table or counters.

5. Vacuum! “What? That doesn’t take 5 minutes. Get outta here!” It does if you vacuum one room a night. Pick the room that needs it the most and go for it. It doesn’t have to be thorough, but it helps a ton when a busy parent finally does get to do a deep clean.

There it is! 5 things you can do in 5 minutes or less. That’s just 25 minutes if you choose to do it all in one night – that is a lot less time than most people spend clicking through social media or watching their shows. And a reminder! If tidying up isn’t your thing? That’s okay. If tidying up is your thing? That’s okay. If you want tidying up to be your thing? Then start with these tips!

Growing A Garden

There is nothing more heartwarming to me than watching my daughter learn and grow. I could compare her to a wildflower or maybe a prickly but sweet raspberry plant, but guys… she’s a whole dang garden. And everyone else is too.

Her second birthday is right around the corner and I’ve picked up some gardening supplies and little book about gardening for her as a gift. I am beyond excited for her to receive them and help start the upcoming season’s growth. Though almost two, she is no stranger to harvesting goodies from our garden or getting covered in dirt.

Last year, we planted a wildflower garden for her. We gave out seeds as a party favor for her first birthday (a tradition we will carry on this year) and planted any of the leftover seeds. She’d help me water them every day and patiently wait to stomp in the puddles as the water seeped from the bottom of the flower pot.

While watering her flowers last year, a beautiful white butterfly began floating around and her pure little one year old soul simply said “hi.” She wanted to strike up conversation with a butterfly. This purity with nature is the very basis of what I want to instill in her.

When our vegetables took growth, her ready little hands would help me harvest the morning picks – sometimes a little prematurely. She’s quick when it comes to tomato picking, so we had a fair share of green tomatoes sitting in the windowsill soaking up sun and trying to ripen without their vine. She loved it every bit of it. She’d even do a little happy dance as we headed outside every single day.

If you look at her bookcase, you’ll see a lot of nature, farming, and gardening books. This is no mistake. If I teach her anything it’ll be that nature is the most important thing in life and learning to grow your own vegetables is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself.

My dream is that even if she becomes a busy career woman or a stay at mom is that she’ll always have a certain respect for nature. I want Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle to be apart of her daily life. I pray that she is never the type to litter. I hope she has respect and love for all animals, plants, and trees.

Gardening, even at such an early age, is a beautiful introduction to nature. It teaches her patience and shows her that all things start small. A small seed can one day be a huge oak tree. I want her to learn that the world is ever-changing and you can grow through anything that you go through.

It’s a lesson I hope she learns young, but for those of you who are adults, it’s still a lesson you can adapt into yourselves. You don’t have to start gardening or talking to butterflies. Just start with 5 minutes a day to really stop and appreciate nature and all that it has to offer.

Grow through what you go through

Taco Stuffed Bell Peppers

I know what you came here for and if you are anything like me then scrolling through a ton of texts & photos for a recipe is super disappointing – especially if the page keeps reloading. So I’ll make this easy!

TA-DA

Look at that! I made a recipe template. Oh, and there is the recipe. Keep scrolling for photos and all that text that I initially saved you from!

For those of you that follow me on Instagram, you are more than aware that my food photography needs some SERIOUS work. For those of you that are new here…. well I’m sorry ?

We recently purchased a learning tower for the kitchen so CJ can help me cook. It safely puts her right up to the counter height. She helped me dice the onion and tomatoes for this recipe and insisted on trying raw onion. Her 23 month old taste buds were less than impressed.

She is also pretty obsessed with my DSLR. It’s got quite the mileage on it being a Canon Rebel t3i, so I do let her play with it from time to time. I’m not too worried because it is getting much older and I’m honestly day dreaming about a new camera. My husband is probably thinking “keep dreaming” as he reads this, I’m sure.

There is a shot of her cute little hand helping me to arrange a semi post worthy shot.

The learning tower is a lot of fun for both of us though. Her willingness to try food while we are up there prepping together has really improved. I can’t get her to eat a tomato in her high chair, but at the counter she’ll gladly eat extra pieces of the tomatoes as we dice them. She also gets a close up view of the clean up process. She has taken to wiping the counters down while I rinse the dishes.

I’m really hoping to engrain cooking into her. I didn’t learn how to cook as a kid and had to dive in after marriage. I’m hoping CJ will have those kitchen skills or just the general knowledge of where her food comes from & what she’s putting into her body. My dream is that she won’t grow up to live on ramen & takeout…. so I’m starting her young!

If you have made it this far and didn’t skip out post-recipe, I am truly appreciative of your dedication! I hope you enjoy the recipe! They were very delicious and we can’t wait to eat the leftovers.