Refrigerator Magnets Say The Truest Things In Jest

The truest things are said in jest...

~~~~FIRST EVER ~ fridaynightfamily CONTEST!~~~~

See the “FNF Reader’s Challenge” link at the top of this blog for details.

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says:

Try organic food or as our grandparents used to call it, FOOD!

Growing up in the 70’s, going to the grocery store with Mom on Saturday mornings was one of the highlights of my week. It was my job to pick the cereal and ride on the back of the cart (even though today the practice of cart riding is considered insurance liability “voodoo”).  Back in the day, if you toppled the cart and broke your neck your parent’s considered it a “lesson learned” and were willing to let you learn it!

The job of picking a cereal was quite simple since the cereal aisle was about a quarter of what it is today. There were only a handful of sugary delights compared to the expensively marketed overload that presently exists. Corn Pops, Captain Crunch and Frosted Flakes reigned supreme as the rulers of the cereal market in the 70’s. Those cereal’s were the “once in a while exceptions” for our family. Much to our chagrin, Rice Krispies TM, and plain corn flakes (store brand of course) were the usual selections in our cart. Lunch meats, snack cakes and soda were also on the “special treats” list and were only purchased for special occasions.

Today, processed “easy” food stuffs make it into the mouths of our children almost every day much to the detriment of our health. What isn’t processed? Childhood obesity has tripled since 1976! Whatever happened to a slice of watermelon being the best treat a kid could eat on a hot summer day?

Many of my neighbors (and my parent’s) had vegetable gardens in their backyards that fed their family and provided enough to share with neighbors that didn’t garden or grow that particular fruit and/or vegetable that year. We didn’t worry if the seeds we used had GMO’s or added pesticides in them. We simply enjoyed the exercise of digging in the dirt, plopping in a few seeds and watching it grow.

During the summer months there was a “Huckster” that came into our Philadelphia neighborhood every couple of days. Huckster’s were theNew Jerseyfarmers that packed up their goods and took them on the road instead of selling them at a roadside stand. He had a megaphone speaker through which he bellowed “Jerrrrsey tomatoes heeeere, twenty-nine cents a pound!” All of the Mom’s would run outside with cash in hand to get their produce that was freshly picked from a local farm that morning. Yes I said “CASH”, not a debit or credit card…they bought what they could pay for with that week’s paycheck.

Society runs at such a clip we have lost our energy to take care of ourselves. I’m not talking about you gym member’s out there, even gyms were pretty much non-existent back in the day. Truth is…we didn’t need them. We weren’t sitting behind computer screens, playing video games and eating food “engineered” to make us want more.

Between being bombarded with high dollar marketing of the heavily processed “Junkolla” we put into our mouth’s and expensive electronics that keep us on our tushies, its no wonder we have quickly become one of the fattest nations in the world.

I am not trying to get up on a soap box here or make anyone feel bad about their weight or habits, but in reexamining the things that used to make me feel happy and content I have noticed a long term pattern. I have fallen prey to the marketing misconceptions that “our product will make life easier” and “you will get more done in a day”. Uh, WHAT?!?!? My previous load, both physical and mental, were just fine thank you very much! Now we’re all just burned out, lacking creativity and falling prey again to the next miracle product. Probably a drug or caffeinated drink formula to help us move faster and cope with the consequences of doing so!

Companies sell us products that help us do things faster and faster all the time and the expectation of speed in everything we do has become the standard. When we are not at work we have a fancy cell phone or computer we can be reached on at any hour of the day, specifically the hours we should be resting our minds and bodies or taking care of our families.

As for me?… I am ready to get off this fast moving train. I am making every effort to live the wonderful life I was given to the fullest.

Recently, the love of my life built two raised garden beds in the backyard for me. This has been a healing salve for my tired soul.

"One is nearer God's heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth."

Do not underestimate moments of quiet solitude. What used to be quiet “wind down time” during the car ride home from work, is now riddled with a ringing cell phone from “well meaning” friends and family wanting to know the dinner plans for the evening or trying to catch up. If you give yourself “down time” and let your mind rest, it will give you back your heart and your purpose in life.

Tending a garden is good exercise for the mind and body and although my garden will certainly feed my family, it also provides a haven of happiness before work with a cup of coffee or after a long day with a glass of vino. Meandering around with the quiet glory of green surrounding you is a gift from the Big Guy upstairs that most don’t take time to receive.

Think about creating a garden space even if it’s just a few pots of tomatoes and herbs on the deck in close proximity to a lawn chair for resting and taking in the fresh air. If you can’t do that try visiting a local farmer’s market, preferably one that is outside and for goodness sakes turn your cell off for the trip to and from!

I pay slightly more to buy fresh everything including spices. It makes meals so much better and it’s much healthier.

Under the link “Joe’s Fishing Lines” above you will find some interesting information on catching fresh fish yourself and the kiddies will enjoy this kind of outing as well. There is nothing like food that is served within hours of its harvest. As the saying goes pay now (with your wallet) or pay later (with your health). I’ll let you decide. BUT the most local and freshest place of all is at home with your family and friends. Why not consider a “FRESH” Friday Night Family celebration in the coming weeks with your “besties” and ask them all to bring something freshly caught or grown to contribute to dinner.

Recently I went to the farmer’s market with a simple goal in mind. Buy a funky fresh something or other and cook it! So I chose a papaya pear squash. I’ll show you what I did with it. These are the kinds of vegetables most people go into the store and ignore because they don’t know what they are or how to deal with them. The recipe is located on the FNF Reader Challenge link following the contest details. Check out the “FNF Reader Challenge” link at the top of this blog ~ A prize and some fun may be in your future!

~~~ Feed Your Family Right ~~~

 “Buy Fresh/Buy Local

 All of us go through times when we just don’t feel like cooking and need a night out. Joe and I try to get out for a date night at least once a month. It could be several times if we throw in some special occasions to celebrate like birthdays, graduations and anniversaries.  When we do get out, we investigate new places, many of which we hear about by word of mouth. We generally chose places that cook with fresh, preferably organic ingredients and aren’t afraid to “86” (run out) something off the menu rather than feed it to us on day three because they overbought from their suppliers.

Last week before a concert, Joe and I had dinner at an Italian restaurant downtown called Tuscan Blu. The restaurant is owned by Chef Maurizio Privilegi and his wife Patricia (pronounced Pa-tree-cha). Chef Maurizio is a native of Livorno, Italy which is a port city on the Ligurian Sea on the western edge of Tuscany,Italy. He opened Tuscan Blu upon leaving Café Luna as head chef about a year ago (May 2010). He prepares Tuscany style food using fresh organic ingredients from local farmers and fishermen.

Fresh Branzino - AKA: Mediterranean Sea Bass~FABULOUS!

No words can describe this one!

This was as tasty as it was beautiful!

I think the one thing that I enjoy as much as the food is the feeling that I belong there every time we go. The Chef and his charming wife Patricia made their way to our table to insure we were happy and welcome. I have been to this place several times for lunch and have never been disappointed. The wait staff gave outstanding service and Patricia is quick to hold the door and tell you to come back soon. She has said on more than a few occasions, “This house is your house, come back”…and so we do.

Look for this flag at the Depot it's calling you home for dinner!

If you are one of my local readers, please consider Tuscan Blu for a date night or grab a few neighbors and friends for lunch or dinner, you won’t be disappointed. To get more information about Tuscan Blu click on the “Buying Local” link at the top of this blog.

If you are one of my local readers, please consider visiting these local merchants and supporting them. I do not accept payment for posting these comments and contact information about these local businesses, they really are worth writing about.


Variety is the SPICE of life ~ Fill your cabinets with a variety of spices!

Freshly ground spices are always the way to go, the fragrance alone could change your meal experience. Cindy and Bob Jones are the owner’s of Savory Spice Shop Raleigh located in Lafayette Village off Fall of the Neuse and Honeycutt Roads here in Raleigh, NC, and before you say “O.K. Kathy, I’m to far away to smell the spices”, I will tell you they ship!

Upon entering their shop you will immediately know the difference between freshly ground spices and those purchased in the grocery store. Oh, and before I forget to mention, Savory Spice Shop Raleigh grinds weekly and they have sample bottles to smell and taste of all their spices.

Cindy and Bob saving the culinary world one spice at a time...

Remember to visit the water cooler in the back to cleanse your palate between tastings.  On our first visit Joe and I stayed in there for over an hour tasting and talking to the owners…we left with more than a few bottles in hand.

Cleanse your palate between tastes

I have been to several spice shops but never one that smelled so good. The reason, as we experienced first hand, was because you are encouraged to throw what’s left in your hand after tasting, on the floor. (No worries, they sweep it up nightly).  Ironically it’s such a small amount you can’t see it on the floor but the smell is so vibrant from people walking on the spices all day its hard to leave once you’ve entered without making a purchase.

This is a MUST visit for anyone who uses spices when cooking (more importantly, anyone who doesn’t!) I now use these spices in much of my cooking at home.

The best part? They are really no more expensive than the grocery store brands you already buy and when your bottle is empty just ask for a refill baggie to pour into your existing bottle, it’s a dollar less for the same amount.

You'll never be forgotten by your foodie friends with a gift like this!

In addition to selling gift baskets and accessories, Savory Spice Shop Raleigh also has classes and demonstrations. Go to their facebook page and click “like” or follow them on Twitter. More information can be found about Savory Spice Shop Raleigh by clicking the “Buying Local” link at the top of this blog.

If you are one of my local readers, please consider visiting these local merchants and supporting them. I do not accept payment for posting these comments and contact information about these local businesses, they really are worth writing about.

~~ Creating a Garden Space ~~


Take a trip to your local nursery to pick up plants for your garden. Nursery staff will have a wealth of information to help you and remember to buy organic if you can.

We called upon Norwood Nursery for help filling our garden with rich composted soil at a very reasonable price and we have been rewarded with a lush outcome.

Have no space for a garden? Remember you can plant in pots when you have minimum sun or space. Take a trip to the local farmer’s market. They usually sell live plants for your garden as well as local produce. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how things taste and how they are used in recipes. Additional information on Norwood Nursery can be found by clicking on the “Buying Local” link at the top of this blog.

If you are one of my local readers, please consider visiting these local merchants and supporting them. I do not accept payment for posting these comments and contact information about these local businesses, they really are worth writing about.

Thank you for reading my blog, please feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what you think!


About fnfkathy

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5 Responses to Refrigerator Magnets Say The Truest Things In Jest

  1. Michelle says:

    So many good things here, I hardly know where to start! So… maybe just a question. Our outdoor area is west-facing with no shade… everything, aside from a stubborn mint plant that I threw in a pot a few years ago, dies out there during our harsh summers. Any ideas what I can grow in a large pot?

    Wonderful post, as always, my friend!

    • fnfkathy says:

      PORTULACA is very heat tolerant and grows well. Its beautiful too. It is in the pot on this blog. Also Rosemary grows well in the heat and we can eat it! West sun is tough.

  2. Michael-Anne says:

    Love it Kathy! I’m all about the Farmer’s Market and now my girls think going with me there on Saturday mornings is such a special treat. They actually get to see a “cash only” environment. What a concept:)
    Love ya!

  3. Gayle Hogan says:

    Hi Kathy! Great ideas, i haven’t been on in a while but so glad your here. Bought the freshes potatoes in Virginia just harvested from local farm 🙂 Awesome job!

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