Flow­ers speak a lan­guage all their own. We give them for hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, mile­stones and achieve­ments and to mourn the loss of someone’s pass­ing.

Var­i­ous flower stems con­vey mean­ing through color, scent, and their cul­tural indi­ca­tions.

Bound by tra­di­tion, Valentine’s Day gifts typ­i­cally include cards, candy and in some cases jew­elry. Flow­ers nearly always accom­pany any of those presents.

For many cen­turies, flow­ers were used to con­vey roman­tic mes­sages with­out hav­ing to ver­bal­ize the direct inten­tions. Par­tic­u­larly in the Vic­to­rian Era, it was con­sid­ered impo­lite to openly state emo­tions or show phys­i­cal affec­tion.

The vehi­cle most often used to con­vey roman­tic inter­est or courtship was flow­ers. Spe­cific bou­quet arrange­ments, col­ors or types of flow­ers used would send a quiet lovers message.

Read more: Be Mine →

The 2019 Lunar New Year starts on the fifth of Feb­ru­ary. Com­ing off the Year of the Dog, this is the begin­ning of the Year of the Pig in the Chi­nese zodiac. The ele­ment for the year is Earth.

The promise for the new year is one of joy, cel­e­bra­tion and suc­cess in all areas of life.

The pig (known also as the boar) is said to be gen­er­ous, social and sta­ble.

An Earth Pig year com­bines a real­is­tic but happy-​go-​lucky socia­ble pig com­bined with the steady and sen­si­ble char­ac­ter­is­tics of Earth, it her­alds a reward­ing and pros­per­ous year. This will be a year to enjoy friend­ships and social con­tacts and come together for the com­mon good.

Read more: Earth + Pig + Joy →

Gro­cery mar­ket­ing has declared Feb­ru­ary as National Snack Food Month. Super Bowl Sun­day is just days away.

We are a nation of snack­ers, spend­ing over $60 bil­lion dol­lars annu­ally on those ever tempt­ing chips, crack­ers and other processed good­ies.

On the heels of those recently made res­o­lu­tions to eat bet­ter and cre­ate a life around health­ier imper­a­tives, take time for prepa­ra­tions. A month-​long snack fest requires some resis­tance, resolve and retool­ing.

Turn the tables on the media dri­ven snack food propo­si­tions. Favorite nib­bles can have a makeover that sat­is­fies every occa­sion. Don’t sup­port empty calo­ries and car­bo­hy­drates, sat­u­rated fats, high in sugar and pro­vide no nutri­tional value.

It’s hard to resist Dori­tos and Ruf­fles. Mod­er­a­tion is key in most food choices. Watch what goes in to the shop­ping cart for improv­ing the inevitable snack attacks. Look for desir­able alter­na­tives to the known cul­prits of over-​indulged behavior.

Read more: Snack Lightly →

Color affects both emo­tions and mood. Win­ter is no rea­son to for­feit bright col­ors. It may well be the absolute best time of year to strut the most vibrant hues on the color chart.

Cit­rus is at peak of sea­son in avail­abil­ity and taste. Use the many vari­eties to lift spir­its, boost immu­nity and improve menus.

Out of hand snack­ing is made con­ve­nient with portable “easy peel” vari­etals. This includes navel oranges, man­darins and tan­ger­ines.

Navel oranges have a sunny fla­vor with a touch of acid­ity. These seed­less fruits are per­fect for mak­ing any dreary day a bit cheerier. A fan favorite, they are burst­ing with unreal juicy sweet­ness.

Cara Cara oranges are very sweet with pinkish-​red fruit flesh. They have hints of berry and flo­ral fla­vors for a cit­rus change of pace. Con­sider seg­ments added to yogurt, com­potes and desserts.

Read more: Bright Lights →

Smart cook­ers like Instant Pots are enjoy­ing a moment. This cel­e­brated multi-​cooker is touted as capa­ble of replac­ing seven dif­fer­ent appli­ances.

It brags of doing the work of a slow cooker, an elec­tric pres­sure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/​browning pan, and food-​warming pot.

Cook­ing speed may be the sin­gle most advan­tage of going for the Instant Pot. This is par­tic­u­larly true if cook­ing some meats is high on the menu. Shav­ing time off of ribs, roasts and whole chicken mat­ters.

Risotto and dried beans seem to cook in record time. Soups and stews from scratch develop depth of fla­vor with­out turn­ing on the stove or oven.

Not every­one wants or needs sev­eral (or even one more) kitchen gad­get tak­ing up shelf space. Com­pe­ti­tion among food proces­sors, stand mix­ers, blenders, juicers and var­i­ous cof­fee mak­ers is fierce within most households.

Read more: Take It Slow →

Cul­ti­vat­ing Change is a local farm grant pro­gram offered by Greener Fields Together.

It aims to fund projects and pur­suits that will help local farm­ers do what they’re best at– farm­ing.

Qual­i­fied grow­ers and aggre­ga­tors are able to win fund­ing based through an online vot­ing plat­form and peer review panel.

As farm­ers applied for this cur­rent Jan­u­ary pro­gram, they were required to apply for a spe­cific fund­ing cat­e­gory to enhance an area of oper­a­tions. Demands for all farms and ranches requires a con­tin­u­ous state of improve­ment for sus­tain­abil­ity.

Cer­ti­fi­ca­tions is one fund cat­e­gory that assists with organic, food safety, non-​GMO, fair trade, bio­dy­namic or other daunt­ing reg­u­la­tory require­ments. This is an avenue of com­pet­i­tive advan­tage for many growers.

Read more: Cul­ti­vat­ing Change →