Welcome to Real

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In the beginning

Once upon a time (circa 2000), in a faraway land (Maryland), four young ladies found their soulmates in high school. No, not dudes. Best friends who balance each other in the best way and support each other through (literal and figurative) thick and thin.

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Fast forward 18 years…  We are now a doctor, a lawyer, a doula, and a financial planner deep in the weeds of young motherhood who learned to laugh together, cry together, learn together, and support each other through this season of life via one (in our humble opinion) very real, very wise, and brilliantly entertaining text chain, which is the foundation of much of this blog’s content.

We decided one day, on a whim, to start sharing our collective experience – the good, the bad and the ugly – with other people out there. The core value: keeping it #real with advice on parenthood, health, home, style, money and just whatever else comes up. LockersToLittles was that flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants adventure and wow, that was somethin’ else!

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That blog life

The last 3 months have been a profound learning experience. We’ve laughed our buns off, cried in frustration and all 4 of us have learned more about ourselves than any of us thought possible. And most importantly, we discovered that there are other people out there who want to share our experience – you!! Wow! Our feedback and followers have blown us away with their support, ideas, and general awesomeness over and over.

We are taking that feedback and blasting off into a whole new level of the blogosphere peeps! You spoke and we have listened are are ready to serve.

To Infinity and Beyond

We are here to help others grow into the best version of themselves, and in the process are working to do the same. The best workouts for moms with no time? We gotcha. Best way to save for retirement no matter what age you start? You bet! Kids won’t eat vegetables? Coming to the rescue! Wondering what’s up with eating brie in pregnancy? #answeredthat. Just want to commiserate about this season in life being hard AF sometimes??? Oh yeah. Between the 4 of us we’ve had a whole lot of life happen and if it hasn’t happened to us, trust us, we know a guy.

People! The sky is the limit. Or is it?

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So if you haven’t visited with us before, then WELCOME. To all our returning followers, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS. You’ve been with us this far and we cannot wait to share what we have in store with you.

To reach our much desired goals, we need YOU! Please enjoy and visit or lightly stalk us on our various social media outlets. Got a topic you want covered? Give us a comment, girl! Share your experiences, this is #momtribe and #parentlife and we’re all in this together. Oh, and share! ALLLLLLLL the sharing!

Welcome to REAL AS A M*THER!

xo, Annie, Christiana, Kristy and Margo

 

Save Our Water Series, Vol. 2: Sustainable Agriculture and The Importance of Supporting Regenerative Practices

In our first volume of the Save Our Water Series, we spoke about rain barrel production and the benefits on small gardens to big farms.  Today’s volume will illuminate the myriad of important information gleaned when researching sustainable farming, and what it can do to really save our planet.

We will begin by understanding what Sustainable Agriculture is.  In short, this type of farming practice keeps the greater good in mind. It protects the environment, public health, animal health and habitat, and allows us the ability to produce good food without hindering the next generations ability to do so.

Well what is GOOD FOOD? Great question. “Good” food, in my opinion, is local(the further it travels, the more preservatives have to be used), truly organic (get your round up out my face) properly fed (grass fed, or true omnivore diet for chickens because chickens are NOT vegetarian), non hormone or GMO enhanced (screw you Monsanto and the three headed , genetically modified horse you rode in on), FOOD grown or grazed in soil that not only is rich in proper nutrient densities and ratios, but also maintains a pesticide and herbicide free grade.

Let’s break down the difference between Industrial Practices and Sustainable practices.

Industrial Crop and Livestock Production

So basically, Industrial crop and livestock production uses a type of monoculture. What is Monoculture, you say? Oh, let’s let the experts explain.

“Monoculture is a common practice in modern agriculture in which large acreages of land are planted with one type of crop, usually multiple years in a row. Often such techniques are used to supply goods to other regions or countries. Monocultures deplete the soil and crops grown in this manner become more susceptible to pests and disease than those grown in a diverse crop environment, thus requiring larger amounts of chemical sprays (i.e. pesticides). Monoculture on animal factory farms refers to the raising of one type of animal (generally chickens, turkeys, cattle, or pigs) confined in densely packed expanses, often treated with hormones and antibiotics to maximize growth and prevent the diseases that would otherwise spread quickly through the farm. These operations produce much more waste than the surrounding land can handle, and the farms are associated with numerous environmental hazards as well as animal cruelty. The government calls these facilities Concentrated (or Confined) Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).”

Sounds AWESOME, right?

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This seems, to me, that they are operating under the notion that they are gonna treat everything like crap, just to “feed the world” chemically downgraded food that is low in nutrients, and high in toxic crap.

Sustainable Livestock Production

Farmers that use practices with sustainable focuses allow their animals to eat an instinctive, natural diet, to move freely on pasture, and to eliminate the stress and disease (hello no disease, no antibiotics needed…f*#%ing DUH) that a cramped environment produces.

People are led to believe that in order to feed more people, we must use genetics to produce food that can withstand drought, bugs, weeds, and weather patterns. That is just untrue in a lot of cases. Sure, the big companies take a hit in the wallet when these things happen, but to truly teach sustainable farming will impact our whole world.

“Regenerative Agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.”

I cannot explain the benefits any better than Regeneration International can in their well researched list below.

A Global Shift to Regenerative Agriculture Can:

  • Feed the world: Small farmers already feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland. > Read the GRAIN Report
  • Decrease GHG emissions: A new food system could be a key driver of solutions to climate change. The current industrial food system is responsible for 44 to 57% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. > Read the GRAIN Report
  • Reverse climate change: Emissions reduction alone is simply inadequate. Luckily, the science says that we can actually reverse climate change by increasing soil carbon stocks. > Read the Rodale Institute Report
  • Improve yields: In cases of extreme weather and climate change, yields on organic farms are significantly higher than conventional farms. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
  • Create drought-resistant soil: The addition of organic matter to the soil increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Regenerative organic agriculture builds soil organic matter. > Learn More
  • Revitalize local economies: Family farming represents an opportunity to boost local economies. > Read the FAO Report
  • Preserve traditional knowledge: Understanding indigenous farming systems reveals important ecological clues for the development of regenerative organic agricultural systems. > Read the Action Aid Nepal Report
  • Nurture biodiversity: Biodiversity is fundamental to agricultural production and food security, as well as a valuable ingredient of environmental conservation. > Read the Report
  • Restore grasslands: One third of the earth’s surface is grasslands, 70% of which have been degraded. We can restore them using holistic planned grazing. > See the Evidence
  • Improve nutrition: Nutritionists now increasingly insist on the need for more diverse agro-ecosystems, in order to ensure a more diversified nutrient output of the farming systems. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

We Can’t Afford Healthy Food

This is a legit concern as health food stores are quite pricey when it comes to organic food. Finding your local farmers market (yes, they have them in cities all the time) or finding a crop sharing organization such as Agriberry here in Virginia and Maryland, helps keeps the cost of truly organic farm fresh foods down.  It also provide the added benefit of having your family eat what is in season, which requires less industrial farming interventions.

 

In small towns, like ours here in Virginia, farmers markets supply these local farms a venue to sell the fruits of their hard labor. We utilize these markets for produce, and have a gone in for several years on purchasing a cow sharefrom a local SUSTAINABLE farm here in Orange, VA called Renewed Pastures Farms.

Farmer’s Market Setup

The owners, Jason Goforth and his wife, invited the family and I to tour the farm and see exactly what the farm does to remain sustainable. We could even see how the cows live and graze if we wanted to!

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‘Sup, Jason?!

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In the health food store, a pound of Grass-fed meat is roughly $6-$8 depending on the store and the company. Over time if you are an avid beef eater like we are, the tax, price for gas for the trip, the packaging, and price fluctuation in the market adds up quickly. So, we do a cow-share with some friends of ours. We get 1/2 a cow that is cut to order and will last us roughly 8-12 months. At less than $8 per pound, we get filets, flank steaks, London broils, and even or ground beef allotment for a STEAL compared to grocery store. And Jason delivers it right to our deep freezer!

So we have local (within 100 miles), preservative free (freezing is their only method), and true sustainably farmed meat that our family can rely on for an unbeatable price.

How can we NOT afford that?

*** Check out this PDF on Grass-fed Cow Market News.***

The simple truth is this, we have to support our farmers who work their butts off to uphold truly sustainable farms. They rely on us to purchase their products, be it produce or meats, in order to keep their higher standards up. So let’s get out there and support our local folks!

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Friday Faves: Summer Grilling

With Fourth of July festivities behind us, summer grilling season is officially in full swing. And nothing quite says summer like the unmistakable smell of dinner on the grill after a day in the summer sun. So…. who’s grilling this weekend? We are!

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So let’s take a look at what’s cooking, good looking. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the all-time favorites from our Lockers to Littles summer grilling menu.

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Dry Rubbed Baby Back ribs with Raspberry Chipotle sauce

These are the only ribs we will ever make in our house ever. again. They are total summer perfection with all the flavor and just enough kick. The rub is from Food Network chef Jamie Deen (Yep, that would be Paula’s son, so you know he’s legit. You can link to the original recipe here.) We give it our own twist by teaming it up with Raspberry Chipotle sauce for the perfect blend of spicy and sweet.

For the rub:

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 lbs baby back ribs

For the sauce:

  • 1 bottle BBQ sauce of choice
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries or raspberry preserves
  • 1 can chipotles in adobo sauce

OR

  • Robert Rothchild’s Raspberry Chipotle BBQ sauce

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients except the ribs. Rub mixture all over both sides of the ribs. Wrap ribs in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 (or up to 12) hours.

For the sauce, I love this Robert Rothschild prepared raspberry chipotle bbq sauce made with simple, fresh ingredients, or you can make your own raspberry chipotle sauce by adding raspberries (or raspberry preserves) and chipotles in adobo sauce to any BBQ sauce and adjust the heat to taste with red pepper flakes and honey.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium heat. Arrange the ribs on the BBQ and brush generously with raspberry chipotle sauce. Reserve any extra sauce. Grill for 40 to 45 minutes, turning occasionally (and sipping requisite summer beverage of choice). Cook until the meat is browned and crisp on the outside. Serve with remaining sauce on the side (and lots of napkins).

Recommended Bev Pairing: A light wheat Beer such as Hoegaarden or Bell’s Oberon

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Grilled Lobster with Garlic-Parsley Butter

If you like lobster in the slightest, stop what you are doing right now and make this recipe. Credit for this recipe is fully given to Saveur, and we have changed nothing because it’s perfect.

  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 12 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lobster (about 1 to 1 12 lb), halved
  • 14 cup olive oil

Combine butter, parsley, chile flakes, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a bowl; set aside. Transfer lobster halves, shell side down, to a baking sheet; crack claws and place them on the baking sheet. Drizzle halves and claws with oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn off burner on one side (see “Grilling 101”). Place lobster halves, flesh side down, and claws on hottest part of grill; cook until slightly charred, 2-3 minutes. Flip lobster over and using a spoon, spread lobster with the garlic-parsley butter; continue grilling until lobster meat is tender, 3-5 minutes more.

If you’re dealing with live lobster, learn how to humanely prepare your lobster here. Please don’t boil.

Recommended Bev Pairing: A crisp Sauvignon Blanc, or a smooth Unoaked Chardonnay

 Tyler Florence has always been a go-to for me in the grilled meat department. He nails it with this bacon wrapped scallop recipe. The spicy Sriracha Mayo is the perfect sweet heat compliment to the saltiness of the grilled scallop with bacon.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound large scallops
  • 1/2 pound thin-sliced bacon
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup hot chili paste (recommended: Sriracha Hot Chili Paste)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 heads Bibb lettuce, washed
  • 3 avocados, sliced

Instructions

****Pssst…the recipe calls for a broiler but the smoky flavor that the grill can add to the scallop is divine!*******

Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn burner to low on one side (see “Grilling 101”).

Wrap each scallop in a piece of bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Place the bacon wrapped scallops onto grill, drizzle them with olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper. Grill them away from hottest part of grill for about 10 to 15 minutes until the bacon is cooked through, turning halfway through.

Make the spicy mayo by combining the mayonnaise, chili paste, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Stir well and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, carefully peel away the lettuce leaves and line a large platter with the lettuce cups. Top each with a bacon wrapped scallop, 2 slices of avocado, and a spoonful of spicy mayonnaise. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Recommended Bev Pairing: A crisp and light Rose to compliment the heat of the recipe

Proscuitto-Wrapped Grilled Brie with Pineapple

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Photo from Food Network

Hold the phone, Food Network. You’re grilling cheese with pineapple and wrapping it in Ham? Holy delicious sweet gooeyness, this app will tell the other cheese on your cheese board to step up their game. My favorite grilled appetizer recipes comes from the Food Network’s Show: How to Win Summer

Ingredients

  • One 1-inch-thick slice pineapple, peeled and cored
  • One 8- to 12-ounce wheel Brie or Camembert, cut in half horizontally
  • 8 slices prosciutto (about 8 ounces)
  • Crackers and bread, for serving

Instructions

Prepare a grill for direct and indirect heat: For gas grills (with 3 or more burners), turn all the burners to medium-high heat; after about 15 minutes turn off one of the side burners and turn the remaining burners down to medium. For charcoal grills, bank one chimney starter-full of lit and ashed-over charcoal briquettes to one side of the grill. Set up a drip pan on the other side to avoid flare-ups. (Be sure to consult the grill manufacturer’s guide for best results.)

Grill the pineapple over direct heat until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Let cool 5 minutes, then place on the cut side of one of the cheese halves. Place the other piece of cheese on top with the cut side touching the pineapple. Lay the prosciutto slices out on a work surface so they overlap in the middle and look like the spokes of a wheel. Put the cheese and pineapple round in the middle of the prosciutto and bring up one slice at a time to cover. The cheese and pineapple should be fully wrapped in prosciutto.

Grill over direct heat until starting to turn golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip with a spatula and cook until golden and crisp on the other side, about 3 minutes. Move to indirect heat and cover the grill. Cook until hot throughout and gooey, 5 to 8 minutes more depending on your grill. Serve immediately with crackers and bread.

Recommended Bev Pairing: A deliciously smooth white wine blend or if you’re a beer person, try a Farmhouse Saison brew such as SmartMouth Alter Ego.

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Photo by Foodie Factor on Pexels.com

Grilled Asparagus with Curried Dill Sauce

We are rounding out the end of asparagus season depending on your climate and this one makes an excellent grand finale for the spears.

  • 1-2 bunches of medium to thick speared asparagus
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (set aside other half)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

*As soon as you get home from the store: Trim bottom 1/2 inch off asparagus and place in a bowl of water in a sunny window. This will plump them up so they’re crisp. If you’re on a time crunch, use warm water. Can be left here for 1 day.

Combine all of the above in a gallon baggie or in the bag in which you brought the asparagus home. Squish around to mix. Make Sauce (see below)

Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn burner to low on one side (see “Grilling 101”). Place spears crosswise to the grill on the low side; cook 2-3 minutes and flip. Cook until just starting to char, 3-5 minutes more. Remove to platter, do not cover.

Curried Dill Sauce

  • 1/4 C good quality mayo (we love Sir Kensington’s) or Greek Yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill – crushed in your hand before adding or 1/2 tsp fresh finely chopped dill
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix together and chill. Serve with Asparagus. Works equally well as sauce for steamed artichokes, fish, or broccoli rabe.

Recommended Bev Pairing: A crisp Sauvignon Blanc (a Sancerre if you can find) or Pouilly Fume

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Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

Grilled Peaches with Creme Freche

This is one of the universe’s most delightful summer desserts and it’s not even that bad for you! Winning!

  • ~6 medium firm, but not hard, free-stone** peaches (1 per serving)
  • Avocado oil or coconut oil
  • 1/2 pint Creme Freche (or plain whole milk yogurt if you can’t find but you’ll need to add more honey)
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon or lime plus ~1Tbs of juice
  • 2 TBS Finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/8 C good quality honey

**free stone peaches will twist off their pits when halved – as at the store if they know which ones work, or if they’ll cut one for you to test

Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn burner to low on one side (see “Grilling 101”). Halve peaches and remove pits. Brush skin and face with oil (if using coconut, you’ll have to warm it to liquid). Grill peaches over high heat face down for 2 minutes. Turn skin side down on low heat area of grill and cook until softened and skin is starting to easily pull away – about 6-8 minutes more.

While peaches cool, combine Creme Freche with juice and zest. When peaches have cooled to room temp, serve with a dollop of Creme, sprinkle of mint and generous drizzle of honey across the top.

Recommended Bev Pairing: A mellow chardonnay, Fume Blanc or sweeter dessert wine if you like them.

Eat, drink and be very, very merry friends!

xoxo, Lockers to Littles